Monday, June 28, 2010

The Dream Begins - First Moments At I.S.B.

Blood was rushing through my veins in excitement. And I had the widest and happiest smile on my face. That morning, it was a sweet dream come true ! I was witnessing years of my dreaming becoming real right infront of my eyes !

24 years into my life, on 26th April, 2010, at 8 A.M. on a bright sunny morning, I was sitting in a class. A class of India’s brightest and best engineers, chartered accountants, police officers, army officers, doctors, lawyers, entrepreneurs and an actress ! Life had just begun !

“Howdy !”, she said with a voice that was bubbling with energy while commanding a reply.
The widest smile on my face was now stretching towards a world record.

“Howdy !”, the class replied back.
“Well, I’m MaryLea McAnally. My parents named me so because my grandparents were named Mary and Lea. I’m a Canadian and i did my Ph D in financial accounting from Stanford University. And now, I am here in this beautiful country to teach you all accounting.”, She said.

“Ph D !! And Stanford ! Woww !”, my heart thought.

For the next 15 minutes, the sheer privilege of sitting in the class overpowered me ! It is not everyday in life that you sit among the India’s finest people, in the best of infrastructural facilities, surrounded by greatest works of art and technology and taught by a legend in the subject ! I was smiling and enjoying every moment of life in the class. And looking back at the day, I’d only say that I’m not sure if there exists a heaven after life, but then sitting in the first row and in a remote left corner of the class and witnessing a legend teaching financial accounting was worth living a whole life ! It was as exhilarating as it can get !

“Accounting is the language of business !”, she said fifteen minutes into the class.
“Language of business ?”, my mind had started its blabbering.

“That is to say, if business were to be a person, would he/she be speaking accounting ?”, my mind asked myself.

I wanted to ask the professor about it, but then, I did not want to become a certified and confirmed idiot. As such, I was one of the least experienced in the class and this question would only stamp my inexperience in business and portray me as a stupid guy unworthy of an I.S.B. admit infront of her.

“But Sai, would the language of business be accounting ? !!”, asked my mind again.

“Certainly not ! Accounting is just a record of financial activities that has happened as a result of business. It is the diary of business. Infact it is the life history of business. But certainly not the language of business”, my heart said.

“So, then what could be the language of business ?”, my mind asked.

“Well, imagine again. If business were to be a person, then what would he/she be speaking ?”, asked my heart.

“I’m not sure”, said my mind.

“Well Sai, the whole purpose of any business is to earn money and earn money by creating a value to the customer. And this earned money is, in my view, classified under ACCOUNTING !”, said my heart.

“Hmm..”, said my mind.

“But then earning money happens through speaking a language that adds value to the customer. And Sai, that language of business, in my view, is MARKETING !”, said my heart.

“Hmm.. Go on”, said my mind.

“And to speak that language again which the customer wants to hear, you need to think. And this thinking is called STRATEGY ! It tells you what to speak, how to speak, where to speak and when to speak. It is the ‘mind’ of the business”, said my heart.
“Is that all ?”, said my mind.

“Well not really dear ! To think of the right way and for the right results, you need to be fearless, uncluttered, take calculated risks and not worry about end results. It is ENTREPRENUERSHIP. And that is me – The HEART of the business”, finished my heart.

“Ohh.. Well, Mr.Genius if you know so much about business then what are you doing here in this class ? You should be out there doing real business !”, my mind teasingly said trying to shame my heart.

“Well dear, I’m CONSULTING ! That’s what I.S.B. is famous for !”, my heart said. And I could feel a warm and happy giggle over that thought.

“Ok ok.. Enough of your operations research and trying to optimize business definitions ! Listen to the class now ! You have paid 20 Lakhs to the consultant and you better hear what she has to say !”, said my mind.

And that day, as the first class ended, I felt amazing. I wanted to go to the professor and ask her a lot of questions on business. But then, I decided, I would not insult her genius by asking stupid questions and raising useless thoughts.

“I will rather blog one day and ask her view on it”, my mind said.
“Ya, that’s much better”, said my heart too.

And as the class moved out to attend the next class, I was still sitting in the remote left corner of the first row. I was sitting there with just one feeling.

“One day and hopefully very soon I will come up with a thought, a truly original thought – A thought that would revolutionalize the way all businesses run ! It will integrate the language, mind, heart and the consultant’s views to ensure that the life history and power of business is enhanced to meet the needs of the society. And I will not rest till I do it”, said my heart.

“Ya ya.. But first better take care of your grades. You have a loan on your head and you are competing with India’s top C.A.s, C.F.As, I.I.T.ians, Lawyers, Doctors, Entrepreneurs, Business Managers and Technology leads for jobs in January”, reminded my mind.

I took my bag and began to move out of the class. And as I left my heart said again “Someday, I will come up with a thought – A truly original thought that would revolutionalize business work forever and that day, I will thank my professor Mary Lea McAnally for having given a stunner of a first day at the B-School”

P.S : This blog is totally dedicated to Professor MaryLea McAnally whose classes at I.S.B. left me craving and passionate for business knowledge. It is my humble way of offering thanks to the wonderful person who has set and determined my thought flow process about the business world.

Thursday, March 4, 2010

Dedication to my love - Part 4 - Not letting my love die !

“Do you believe in God ?”, she asked me in soft, caring voice.
My heart had by now become as hard as a stone. My mind was refusing to think. And I was feeling dead.

“Sai honey, do you believe in God ?”, she asked again.
I was silent and staring into emptiness. Understanding the information she gave me in the past 30 minutes, I knew I was now reduced to nothing - Absolutely nothing.

“Ok Sai.. Do you want to go to the church ?”, she asked changing the question.
I was all the more silent.

“Hmm.. Ok honey, do you think this is a good time to talk at all ? I can always come back if you want”, she said having understood my reactions and silence.
I wanted her to leave. And I sensed the opportunity.
“Only if you do not mind Miss, and at the cost of sounding a little rude, may I ask you to leave me alone for about an hour - Just an hour ?”, I asked.

“Hmm.. Not a problem sweetheart ! I can understand. I will be waiting outside the room. Please give me a call if you need anything. I’ll see you in an hour.”, she replied getting ready to leave.

“Hmm.. And just one more thing Miss", i said.
"Yes, honey", she replied.
"I am not an orphan. And I do not need a social worker.”, I said with a tinge of useless arrogance and aggression.

“Hmm..”, she said with a long pause.
“We will talk about it when I am back honey.”, she said and left.
“Ya, We certainly will talk”, I replied.

The room was now empty. The gloom in my heart added to the gloominess in the room. With great difficulty, I had moved to the edge of the window screen and moved the cloth covering it aside.

Out in the open, I could see that it was still snowing.

“Its still snowing outside Sai.. The same snowing that you fell in love with.. The same snowing that has destroyed you”, said my heart.

“Was it the snow that destroyed you or was it you ?”, asked my mind now with burning anger.

I sat down on a chair nearer to the window and tried recollecting everything that had happened.


5 30 P.M., 11th February, 2008,
Outside the Chemical Engineering Department Bus stop,
University of Wisconsin, Madison

“Bus please, Bus please, Bus please”, my heart was then screaming.

My nose was bleeding profusely. My hands, back and neck had frozen. My legs were dead. And my mind was cursing me.

“You had brought up all this on to yourself Sai. You have ruined yourself and your family. In the name of love, you have destroyed yourself”, my mind was loading a barrage of abuses on me.

“Bus please, Bus please, Bus please”, my heart was chanting.

“The bus wouldn’t come Sai. If at all it had to, it would have come by now. It was due 30 minutes back. I think either you are at the wrong lane or you followed the wrong schedule.” said my mind.

“Hmm..”, said my heart realising the implications of what that could mean.

“Do something Sai ! There’s not a soul in the vicinity. And it is getting darker by the minute. For god’s sake, do something ! The bus would certainly not come and you are stuck here in a hell”, screamed my mind now.
"What can i do ? I can only pray", said my heart.
"No.. ! Call someone.. Reach out for your phone !", replied my mind.

I tried moving my hand to reach the cellphone. But my hand felt as hard and as heavy as steel. The cold wind was hitting my insides like a 1000 needles. My inability to reach the phone created further panic in my mind.

“Reach it Sai.. Reach it. For god’s sake reach it !”, screamed my mind forcing my hand to reach the phone.

“Reach the phone and call 911”, my mind continued screaming.

Finally with a great difficulty, I was able to reach the phone. But then as ill luck would have it, the wetness on my leather gloves and the vigorous shivering of my hands ensured that the phone slipped and fell on the ground a little away from me.

My mind panicked severely. My eyes were almost in tears now. The phone had fallen, yet if I could stand up and reach out for it, I can get it.
"Oh no.. what would you do now !", asked my mind in a state of panic attack.

“Not to worry Sai. I will get up and reach out for the phone on the ground.”, said my heart.
"What ? Do you even know what you are saying ?This is the most severe of weather conditions.. You have not eaten for 36 hours, the metallic crutches are cold as ice and you have never stood in your life without a support.. How will you do it ?", asked my mind
"Dear, I have to stand up and move anyways incase the bus comes. I cannot lie here all life right ? So, i will try", replied my heart.
I made a strong, hard effort to stand up. But the wind seemed to blow harder in all directions now. The pouring snow was falling directly in my eye line and more importantly the pouring snow was also burying the phone.

I continued making the effort to stand up and pick the phone.
The snow was soft and I slipped in my very first attempt.
As soon as i felt the slip, my mind lost its sense of thinking. My heart though would not yet give up hope.
I tried again !
But this time, I slipped harder. I slipped hard to fall on my side. I slipped hard onto the bag on my side and I rolled over on to the ground full of snow.
The hard fall created severe pain in every pore of my body. I could feel the pain cause by a sudden rush of blood through every vein in my body. It was as if i had fallen on a hard rock from 10,000 feet.
And even as i experienced such pain, my mind began to speak.

“Know what Sai ?”, said my mind. “ I think its all over now !”.
"Not yet dear.. Not yet", said my heart.

“What else can you do ? Its all over for sure. And i think you deserve this ! You deserve all this pain and more. You deserve this for your foolishness. You deserve this for not listening to people who advised you. Idiotic Sai, I think lying here at this square in Madison, with hell pouring snow on you, at – 30 C temperature, outside the chemical engineering department, having lost a job opportunity, having troubled everyone you love all life, having gone against your doctor’s wishes, you are now to going to loose. Loose not only your dreams. Loose not only your love. But loose even your life”, said my mind.

I was breathing blood. I could not move a muscle in my body. The only things running in me were my thoughts and feelings.

“I wish..”, said my heart.
“Wish what ?”, asked my mind.
“I wish I could see..”, said my heart.
“See whom ?”, asked my mind.

“Hmm.. You know what dear ? I must say something now", said my heart.
"Go on.. What's stopping you ? Say it. ", commanded my mind.
"Sai dear, for the entire world, there exists a line of difference between being positive, being optimistic and being foolish. And after 23 years of my life, I must say, i do not know that difference. For the entire world, there exists a line of difference between being confident and being arrogant. And as someone going after my love, I do not that difference either. Infact, i do not intend to know these differences too. For 23 years Sai, I had gone after what I loved the most, as if I were someone possessed. For 23 years now, I had gone after living for my love, even if it meant that i had to live with uncertainties. For 23 years now, I had gone after living for my love, even if meant taking any pain or opposition on. And I just want to tell you now Sai.. I just want to tell you that if at all I had a chance to relive my whole life all over again, I would only want to end up living like the way i did.. I would want to be going after my love all over again like I did.. And go after it with the same passion and dedication. The world may call it madness.. The world may call it foolishness.. The world may call it arrogance.. But i will persist with my love. Because only those in love know that it isn’t madness, foolishness or arrogance.", said my heart.
"Hmm..", replied my mind.
"And just incase you think otherwise, sai dear, i must say that I am very happy for everything that happened in my life.. I am very happy for everything that I tried. Infact, I am proud of every moment of my life. And if at all anything, i wish to get up and just finish the task i came for here. I only wish to get up, go ahead and get funded for my M.S. program.. And if i accomplish that, i wish to go ahead and see all my loved ones once again – just once again to witness the pride in their eyes”, said my heart to my mind.

“Hmm..”, said my mind.
“Hmm..”, replied my heart.

For the next 10 minutes, neither my mind nor my heart spoke. I had been just lying there. I had been lying there knowing nothing is going to save me. I had been lying there loosing myself minute after minute. I had been lying there waiting for me to stop breathing blood, cold air and snow. I had been lying there witnessing my eyes loosing their sight. I had been lying there experiencing my body freezing to death. I had been lying there witnessing the end of my life and not wanting my love to die.
- To be continued -