Category Archives: IMT

Ludhiana: Plums,Pepsi and Butter Chicken

I frequently survive on weird diets, often leading to mouth ulcers, currently one of which has been tormenting me for the past 4 days. Pepsi and Namkeen, half a glass of juice, no fruits …the entire diet plan is vague and rarely effective in helping me maintain my health. An over heated body only adds to the misery.

There have however, been situations where I’ve had to survive on a diet because there were no options. One such situation presented itself during my MBA summer internship. I had been placed with Taegu Tec – a leader in making cutting tools for engineering purposes. A part of the Berkshire Hathway group now, this company is based out Daegu in Korea and hence the name.

I was assigned to do some market research for the firm and understand opportunities and flaws in terms of its business. My region was north and it meant travelling all across the industrial belts of Delhi, Noida, Manesar, Daruhera, Haridwar, Ludhiana and Chandigarh.

It was also a time when my parents and my sister had gone off to Kerala and as such, I was left to fend life on my own with a house to take care off. The start wasnt very auspicious though and after a short trip to Haridwar, on coming back, I realized that I had forgotten to put the fish back in the freezer. The house had a stench which was unbearable and I was only glad that the neighbours hadnt bothered to call the police for enquiry, thereby saving me from embarrasment and a bruised ego. 

I had received an initial advance of Rs. 10,000/- from the company for my travel and accomodation.Ideally, for a college student, this should be more than sufficient. However, money was disappearing fast and in my extravagent avtaar of travelling only by Shatabdis and staying in slightly expensive hotels, I soon realized that I might just not be able to make it back to Delhi.

I was in Ludhiana when this realization hit me.After an initial bout of panic attacks, I finally sat down and budgeted the left over amount, assigning cash to each meal I was to have and the hotel and travel expenses for each day. I realized that I could pay off the hotel bills and the travel expenses and for the trip back to Delhi but I would have to compromise on food.As fate would have it, Ludhiana, the land of chicken and kebabs was to lose a foodphile to the one challenge that affects all: cash.

And so the next 7 meals across 3 days comprised of a bottle of Pepsi(500 ml) and 3 plums. I loved plums and the Pepsi helped in achieving a full stomach and the optimism of being able to make it back to Delhi( where I could borrow from my aunt) kept me going .

On the third into the diet and my last day in Ludhiana, I reassessed my situation and to my utter relief, realized I had saved more than intended which meant I had just enough to splurge on one last good non veg meal in Ludhiana.

Sitting in my hotel room, I ordered for a plate of butter chicken and naan and felt my taste buds watering in excitement and anticipation.With my stomach growling and my eyes shifting constantly from the TV to the door, I knew this was going to be well worth the wait.

After a long 20 minutes the food was in, a thickly orange gravied chicken, rich and appealing served with soft, buttery naan. My senses approved it and my mouth was eager to take big, meaty bites and chew to satisfaction.

The excitement was, however, short lived. Somehow, my stomach had adapted to my meagre diet of plums and pepsi and was now refusing to accept the flavours of the wonderfully prepared chicken.

5 minutes later I retched, spewing forth all I had eaten. Lunch, despite the butter chicken, comprised of 2 leftover plums and half a bottle of pepsi.

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Leaving Oracle: Excerpts from my first Blog

I started experimenting with blogs in January, 2007. Campuses can be lonely places and you need to find avenues to release all pent up energies to ensure that your sanity is not lost.

Anyway, I managed all of three blog posts on my first URL (a blogspot one), 2 on campus and one when I finally left Oracle. Leaving Oracle had been a decision that was both spontaneous and gutsy. I, to this day feel proud of the fact that I was able to take a stand and follow it through.Money and comfort suddenly just didnt matter. I needed to be happy with my job and my leaving Oracle was the start of a quest to find the job that suited me. I must admit, however, that Oracle had amazing people- people who believed in you, people who could make you laugh inspite of all the tensions and frustrations we faced as part of our jobs. Some of them i am still in touch with even today.

The following is an excerpt from my post on my first blog:

September 16,2007
Just back from Mumbai. The past few months,as usual have been eventful.I got placed as a Business Development Consultant with Oracle.my first job and that too in a global brand.The icing on the cake was the fact that I was the first to get placed from my college:IMT Nagpur.A moment to be proud of…a moment to celebrate.A snapshot of my life history flashes past me : from my Columba’s days to the wonderful days in college and finally my post graduation.Life’s been good and God’s been kind and merciful….
….June 2007: It seems to be a mistake….a terrible mismatch…this is not the profile I foresaw on campus.I am doing nothing but sitting and calling.Although am being given a decent salary,I don’t see my MBA being put to any use and neither do I see my life goals being fulfilled in this line.
….August 2007(towards the end).I have to take a decision…a decision now…it’s a risk but I am willing to take the risk.I am willing to break free and pursue my line of interest. A small fear at the back of my mind tries to discourage me : whether I’ll get a decent job after a brief stint in Oracle…”I will “…my confidence surges me forward and on that Friday night I submit my resignation.
…September 2007…Mumbai happens…I call up my friends…faithful friends and ask them to schedule interviews for me. three interviews in a week…not bad at all.Mumbai treats me well and to spend the day running about and trying to gauge the pulse of the city and the ‘Jalad’ local train system is an opportunity in itself.Back from Mumbai Iam loaded with one offer and one offer to be placed.It’s a small achievement but I have miles to go till I can soar in the open skies.

As I compare the above excerpt and the way I write now, I realize I have become much more impersonal. Maybe its because its all part of my job now…I dont know but I shall continue to write

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The Choices I made: Oracle

A good placement, not surprisingly though, is the primary driver for any MBA student. Getting a job of his choice or rather, getting a job of good social standing, is important to each and every student who walks through the gates of any b-school in this nation.

I was clearly a 5 point someone in college. My understanding of the post graduate course was limited to working for the placement committee, participating in inter collegiate quizzes and generally looking for an excuse to travel the world. For some reason, text books and formalized education were things that I abhorred and yet I felt that it was a drill that every Indian needed to go before entering the ‘corporate’ world’

Well, as a five point someone, a combination of my inability to rote learn and laziness, I have to admit, I was a bit apprehensive of whether I would even be placed. This apprehension continued on till the first company came on campus.

Oracle: a coveted brand and one of the fortune 500 companies had agreed to come to campus and it wanted to come first. The profile was that of a Business Development Consultant and I believe the prospect of getting into the company itself shaded our ability to think straight. I was ecstatic, especially so since the company was from Bangalore, my region of operations (for the placecom).

In Delhi at that time, the pre placement talks and the interviews were to happen the next day. I booked an early morning flight to Nagpur and by mid afternoon was on campus.

That evening, the entire batch assembled together to hear the suave Oracle guys talk. The session lasted for an hour and the profile sounded like nothing but fun, fun and more fun. Yes, this was the profile I had dreamed of…to be able to lead a lazy life at the helm of affairs (atleast some ) and yet rake in lots of moolah…Only a few fortunate ones had ever managed this nirvana.

The session was followed by a round of telephonic interviews, which i cleared with flying colours (thanks to railfanning…it always works) and I was called to Mumbai for some further interviews.

A final batch of 15 out of around 60-70 applicants left for Mumbai a week later. We were the fortunate ones and here was a chance to be the first guys to be placed since since, well, last year.

Mumbai, the land of dreams, had always fascinated me. It’s beaches (or beach?), its people ,its autos and cabs and its trains have always been awe inspiring. My best friend also studied in this city and more than the interview itself, this was a chance to meet him and spend some ‘quality’ gossipping time.

It is this ulterior motive that kept me motivated through my entire stay. So much so, even a day before the interviews, I was sitting with my friend at Marine Drive, pondering on where our life would take us ( Nothing much has changed…we still do the same).

The d day had been scheduled at the Le Meridian, Andheri. I am not sure what made me more nervous?…was it the interview? or was it the prospect of displaying proper ettiquettes in a five star setting?Around 200 odd students had managed to make their way here from colleges in Mumbai and Pune.

After a rather sumptous breakfast, we were all ushered in for another lengthy brain washing session which involved fun videos, some games and lots of goodies. Soon after the session we were distributed across 3 interview rooms.

Well, my interviewer was a lady, dressed in Oracle colours, including the heels she wore. A seemingly tough lady, she seemed all geared up to swat the insignificant flies (us).

“Everything without God is nothing and nothing wih God is everything”, a chant that my mom taught me, was to me the last bastion of hope as I made my way into the room. The questioning started and I somehow wriggled my way through, gaining in confidence with each passing question. 20 minutes later, I was out of the room, all beaming:Indian Railways had done it yet again.

Another round of mind games and another wait for the first shortlist.”Robin Jacob Abraham”, my name was announced, a confirmation of my decent performance in the interview. Among my peers, only 5 of us had managed to make it to the next round

The next round was with the General Manager and it was entirely his call to select or unselect. The questions were simple and this time Robin Cook’s Invasion came to my rescue. I am somehow convinced that the wild swinging of my hands and a bit of  animated talk (reserved only for interviews) had managed to impress the interviewer.

After the interview, we were made to sit in the main conference room. The tension was palpable and the sweat seemed to be streaming across grim faces despite the air conditioning. A full hour and a half later, the Oracle managers walked in. They had finally come out with a final shortlist after much deliberations and discussions amongst themselves and with the hotel staff ( They had crossed their booked time schedule). I was ready to hear the best (I admit, I would have been shattered, if otherwise).The names soon started rolling out…blah blah…and blah blah… and blah blah…and last but not the least from ‘A’ group…Robin Jacob Abraham. Did I hear it correctly…yes I did…I am supposed to stand and I need to hear some loud claps…As i stood, I saw the entire IMT group ( or watever was left of it), cheering for me…I had been placed and to my peers, it was reassuring to know that if a five point someone could be placed so could they. As for me, I had managed to be the first guy to be placed in college which itself was a special feeling.I could almost see the Cadbury’s ad playing in my head…Pappu pass ho gaya!!…Robin place ho gaya!!…I was sure all my professors would exclaim, either in genuine relief or shock.

I was also fairly confident that my grades mattered no more and I could retire to more mundane activities in the confines of my room (read movies, cream rolls and sleeping). The next 60-90 days were spent exactly that way…

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The Choices I made: My MBA

Been in a pensive mood throughout the day. Next Sunday I will be a married man and the i will include a she as well. Memories have flashed by and memories like life can be both painful and joyful.

The year 2005 : I had left my first company to prepare for CAT and non focus being a highlight of my life, I had chosen to study only 2 months prior to the exam that is a career determiner for many. My mode of studying was also unique. I could never study from a text book and so i chose to give timed tests, which were 2 hour affairs locked inside my room.

I managed a decent percentile (pathetic by some standards) and my final calls (through CAT) included IMT Nagpur and KJ Somaiya. Well here was a choice to make…Somaiya, the Mumbaiya college or IMT, the industrially well placed college.

At home, in such situations, a simple yet effective solution is prayer followed by the casting of lots. In those days, my grandfather was also staying with us.

A man of small stature but broad shoulders and a face that was full of wisdom, he had been a scientist by proffession and a great grandfather to us grandchildren.His health, more his mental wellness had been deteriorating owing to Alzhemeirs and each day his hallucinations and his loss of direction would only increase, causing my mother and father much agony.

After the mandatory night prayers, I asked each of my family members to pick a chit each. The following were the results:

Dad : KJ Somaiya

My Sister: KJ Somaiya

Mom: IMT Nagpur

me: IMT Nagpur

A perfect tie and yet the poll wasnt over. However,my grandfather, a man of strong habits, went off to sleep at 8pm daily and this day was no different.

To me, getting into either of the colleges made sense. IMT Nagpur was a new college but was the sibling of a college with a strong heritage.There was also the opportunity to struggle and create a brand for ourselves. On the other hand, KJ Somaiya was an established college with strong industry relationships. Marico was one of the recruiters and I was thoroughly excited about the amateur business plan I had created involving the Coconut Industry. Anyway, the choice was in God’s hands and the instrument of his choice was my grandfather.

Early morning at around 5:30, my mom woke me up, urging me to go and make Appachen, as we called him, to pick a chit.

Appachen was sipping his coffee, when I, with groggy eyes and a crumpled night dress presented the lots before him. My mom and my dad stood around, waiting in curiosity to know what my future would behold.

Appachen took out a chit, which he then passed on to mom who opened it..The choice was made and it was Nagpur that had called me…

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Some Cherished Railway Gifts

Each year, my birthday warrants people gifting something related to trains. Usually these are kid versions of trains running around on plastic tracks. 

However, the year 2006 was special. Some of my closest friends went to the rail museum in Nagpur (around 40 kms from college) and brought me some amazing models of trains, pictures of which i am posting below.

The Fairy Queen miniature : The world’s oldest running locomotive

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The Rajdhani Express: India’s high speed all A/C train

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This coupled with a book on how the Mumbai local system came into being have probably been the most amazing ‘railway gifts’ I have received.

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BMW:The Initial Years

Just continuing with the Did you know series. This presentation was created in the early days of my MBA at IMT on the BMW company…It is also my first attempt at embedding a presentation from slideshare.net ( The Social Media element of mashups)

For my Imtian readers, this was made for Mr Rizwi, our IT Professor.the date: 8th August, 2005

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