Oh me!

We are so small between the stars & so large against the sky. and lost in subway croud, I try to catch your eye …..



“All I want from you is a letter
And to be your distant lover
That is all that I can offer at this time”
– ( Sylvan esso, ‘Uncatena’, 2004 )

I must admit my ignorance about the exact meaning of this song, or the name ‘uncatena’ for that matter.

Video https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=6yrGw0sRv3Q .. these lines appear at 3:15

of truth


“The truth will set you free, but first it will make you miserable.” – James Garfield ( 1831 – 81 )

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Stayin’ alive


Was it the wind tossing your brown hair

like a kite desperate to fly,

or was it you saying your usual things,

“what’s wrong with you!”

with your mischivious eyes?

I cant decide, it a tie

what makes me happy to be stayin’ alive.

( Boston : December 10, 2015)

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Joy and sorrow


Mr. Govind Mathur is one of the finest poets of contemporary Hindi literature. Here’s the last paragraph of a poem, accompanied by my attempt at translation.  Taken from Author’s website at http://govind-mathur.blogspot.com/ . Copyright reserved by Govind Mathur.

दुःख व्यापक और
वर्गहीन है
दूसरों के दुःख से
हम दुखी हो सकते है
दूसरों के सुख से ‘
हम सुखी नहीं होते

[ रविवारीय ‘ जनसत्ता ‘ दिनांक १२  अक्टूम्बर ‘ २०१४ में  प्रकाशित  ]

My translation follows:

Sorrow transcends geographies

and social classes.

We might turn unhappy,

when we see others sad

However the joy of others

Doesnt lift our spirits..

( Boston, 05/20/2015)

A quote


” Our faith in the present dies out long before our faith in the future.”

– Ruth Benedict (1887 – 1948 ) , Anthropologist

I need you – Barry Louis Polisar


When you’re typing away on your keyboard, adding complex derivative equations, this song comes up on the radio.

And life seems a little more beautiful :)


I need you like a donut needs a hole
Like pianos need fingers, heart and soul.
We go together like peanuts in a shell,
I’m gonna hold you in my arms like water in a well.

I love you like flowers love the sun,
Like birds love to fly and kids like to run,
Like trees love leaves and leaves turn brown,
Like rabbits in the meadow like to hop around.

I need you like a donut…

When we are together, side by side,
It’s like a roller coaster or a carousel ride,
The clouds all lift just to sing with me,
The oak leaves dance along with the breeze.

I need you like a donut…

( Barry Louis Polisar,  Naturally Sweetened, 2012 )


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And suppose I never ever met you
Suppose we never fell in love
Suppose I never ever let you kiss me so sweet and so soft
Suppose I never ever saw you
Suppose we never ever called
Suppose I kept on singing love songs just to break my own fall
Just to break my fall
Just to break my fall
Break my fall
Break my fall


( Regina Spektor, “Fidelity”  2006)

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English अष्टपदी


Wild winter, warm coffee
Mom’s gone, do you love me?
Blazing summer, cold coffee
Baby’s gone, do you love me?


– Sylvan Esso, Coffee

Video : https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Qr5AIKRPIHo&feature=kp

Spotify :   Sylvan Esso – Coffee

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Of Ambition


Most emotions are not unique to human beings. Even a plant like touch-me-not gets afraid. A dog is affectionate and loyal. Dolphins have excellent memory. Elephants are intelligent. Tigers are aggressive.  Almost all carnivores have courage.

The animal kingdom can claim all emotions except one … Ambition.No other animal, to the best of my knowledge, strives for fame and excellence. None wants to be remembered after death.

Without ambition, there is no difference between a human and an animal.

Lord, make me human.. Lord, make me ambitious!!

To a poet a thousand years hence


I who am dead a thousand years,
And wrote this sweet archaic song,
Send you my words for messengers
The way I shall not pass along.

I care not if you bridge the seas,
Or ride secure the cruel sky,
Or build consummate palaces
Of metal or of masonry.

But have you wine and music still,
And statues and a bright-eyed love,
And foolish thoughts of good and ill,
And prayers to them who sit above?

How shall we conquer? Like a wind
That falls at eve our fancies blow,
And old Moeonides the blind
Said it three thousand years ago.

O friend unseen, unborn, unknown,
Student of our sweet English tongue,
Read out my words at night, alone:
I was a poet, I was young.

Since I can never see your face,
And never shake you by the hand,
I send my soul through time and space
To greet you. You will understand.


By James Elroy Flecker  in 1911. The poem has been taken from Project Gutenberg.

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I am That – Swami Raamteertha


I have no scruple of change, nor fear of death,
Nor was I ever born,
Nor had I parents.
I am Existence Absolute, Knowledge Absolute, Bliss Absolute,
I am That, I am That,

I cause no misery, nor am I miserable;
I have no enemy, nor am I enemy.
I am Existence Absolute, Knowledge Absolute, Bliss Absolute,
I am That, I am That,

I am without form, without limit,
Beyond space, beyond time,
I am in everything, everything is in me.
I am the bliss of the universe,
Everywhere am I.
I am Existence Absolute, Knowledge Absolute, Bliss Absolute,
I am That, I am That,

I am without body or change of the body,
I am neither senses, nor object of the senses,
I am Existence Absolute, Knowledge Absolute, Bliss Absolute,
I am That, I am That,

I am neither sin, nor virtue,
Nor temple, nor worship
Nor pilgrimage, nor books.
I am Existence Absolute, Knowledge Absolute, Bliss Absolute,
I am That, I am That,


( Taken from here.  Author’s biography is here. )

Like mist


Your thoughts pass through my soul

like the mist near Atlantic Wharf

they appear from nowhere

fill me with countless drops

of unbridled swirling emotions

and dissapear in nothingness.

The sun wonders

not a drop has rained

yet I am drenched.


( Boston, 11/22/13 )





मैं क्या करूँ ?


अगर २२ मंज़िली ईमारत
कि सोलह माले पर भी
सर्दी कि धूप
मुझे ढूंढ कर गुदगुदा दे
तो मैं क्या करूँ ?

अगर रेल के अंदर बंद बंद भी
कुछ लाल पीले पतझड़ के निशाँ
मेरे muffler से आलिंगनबद्ध
मुझे जाने न दें ,
तो मैं क्या करूँ ?

अगर आज सुबह
तुम्हारी चाय कि गर्मी
इस सूखे दिन को
भर दें जिजीविषा से
तो मैं क्या करूँ ?

( Boston, 11/21/13 )

Atlas wants to heal.


Throw away the weights

Of incessant guilt

Atlas is tired of suffering

Atlas wants to stand straight

Atlas wants to heal.


Boston, 11/19/13

तुम पड़ी हो by केदारनाथ अग्रवाल


The original text is taken from Kavitakosh

तुम पड़ी हो शान्त सम्मुख

स्वप्नदेही दीप्त यमुना

बाँसुरी का गीत जैसे पाँखुरी पर

पौ फटे की चेतना जैसे क्षितिज पर

मैं तुम्हें अवलोकता हूँ ।


(My translation follows)

You lie peaceful on the bed

your body supine,

like a dream –

like the gleaming ganges in the evening sun

like the sound of a flute made of flowers

like the truth of dawn on horizon

I only look at you…


Boston, 5/29/13

of mediocrity


“I could not become anything; neither good nor bad; neither a scoundrel nor an honest man; neither a hero nor an insect. And now I am eking out my days in my corner, taunting myself with the bitter and entirely useless consolation that an intelligent man cannot seriously become anything, that only a fool can become something.”

— Fyodor Dostoyevsky ; notes from underground


Of Indian horoscope based marriages


F*** Y** Indian caste and horoscope system. You put more weight into a man’s time of birth than his character, more importance in his surname than his credentials, more thought on his God than his ethics, more scrutiny into his sun-sign than his ability to excel at work.

F*** Y** all ye ladkewale. You will go to a pundit to tell you if you should marry a person because you are too stupid to even understand what a janamkundli means. You wont even know why are you doing it.. you wouldn’t know which scripture tells you to do it, yet you will do it. Because you are so shit scared that something will go wrong you don’t want to take a risk. Then of course you will demand obscene amount of dowry because after all that’’s a ladkewala’s birthright.

F*** Y** all ye ladkiwale. You will educate your girl only because you want her to be a “blend of traditional and modern values”. You won’t let her find love because dating-is-oh-so-bad. Then you will force her to marry  a guy who is rich, whose “parents are somebody” and who doesn’t drink or smoke. (“What, he drinks a beer? Oh wo to bahut bigda hua hai. Pata nahi duniya ko kya ho gaya hai aajkal”)

F*** Y**, all ye marriage ceremonies with vulgar and gaudy display of money. Where both parties try to project what they are not, spending lakhs on just another night’s entertainment. With the pandit again coming and chanting shlokas that no one has an idea about. And with the pundit demanding copious amounts of money during the ceremony, you will exchange varmalas at 2 AM in night – with no guests present, all relatives asleep and you ready to perpetuate the cycle.

I hate it.

Leave me as I am – Rita Petro


( Taken from  http://www.albanianliterature.net/authors_modern1/petro_poetry.html)

Hindi translation has been taken from here. Translator: Siddheshwar Singh

रहने दो मुझे जैसी हूँ मैं
अगर नींद मुझे पकड़  लेती है पेड़ों के बीच
हो सकता मैंने पहने हों आधे – अधूरे कपड़े
रहने दो मुझे जैसी हूँ मैं।

पे्ड़ों को और मुझे भी
भाता है पहनने और निर्वसन होने का कौतुक
वे सूर्य के समक्ष करते हैं यह काम
और मैं तुम्हारे।


Leave me as I am,
If sleep finds me between those trees,
Even though I am only half-dressed,
Leave me as I am!
The trees and I
Love to dress and undress.
They do it in front of the sun,
I do it in front of you.

[Lermë kështu siç jam, from the volume Vargje të përfolura, Tirana 1994, p. 11. Translated from the Albanian by Robert Elsie]

for you.


I’m late for the 7:55 train ,

will perhaps miss 8:19 too

Sunlight dancing through glass panes

asks, “Bhaiyyu, where are you?”


Its Autumn and the leaves of Maple

are dressed in a hundred shades of yellow

The ice cream truck is again on my street,

downstairs someone plays ‘The entertainer’ mellow


The world keeps enticing me

via its giggles, suggestions, chatters

but lying next to you my darling,

hardly anything matters.


– Cambridge, Massachusetts.  20 August 2012.

Tao te Ching – Success and Failure


Success is as dangerous as failure.

Hope is as hollow as fear.

What does it mean that hope is as hollow as fear?

Hope and fear are both phantoms

that arise from thinking of the self

when we don’t see the self as self,

what do we have to fear?

See the world as your self

Have faith in the way things are.

Love the world as your self

then you can care for all things

– Lao Tsu, C. 500 BC

( Translated from Old Chinese  by Stephen Mitchell, page 13 of his translation)

More thoughts on Columbia MSOR


Good things:

  • Brand name of Columbia University
  • Opportunity to take good courses and learn useful skills
  • New York location advantage
  • Flexibility of choosing courses and study plan

Bad things:

  • IEOR Department is at best apathetic and at worse discriminatory towards MSOR students
  • MSOR course structure does not follow a nice pattern like MSFE courses ( staggered  in Summer, Fall, Spring)
  • Some courses are restricted to MSFE students

Job prospects

  • In general job prospects for MSOR grads are inferior to MSFE grads
  • This inferiority results from :
  1. MSOR grads being less qualified, OR
  2. MSOR grads being less aware of things in general, OR
  3. MSOR grads simply not being given the opportunity to apply to certain jobs.
  • Qualified, perseverant  and hard working people from any program at Columbia University (MAFN, MSOR, MSE, MSFE, MS Stats etc) will find countless doors being opened for them.

Should I join Columbia MSOR?

  • YES, if:
  1. You are self motivated and hard working, AND
  2. You have a good idea of what you want to do, AND
  3. You possess the skills to learn advanced math, stat and computing concepts in school ( read you’re not afraid of Math/computing) , AND
  4. You have a back up plan if you don’t get a job out of school
  • NO, if:
  1. You ‘think’ you like finance/consulting but are not sure of it, OR
  2. You do not possess good mathematical skills, OR
  3. Not getting a job will severely impact your next 7+ years, OR
  4. Your financial position makes you taking a USD 50,000+ loan prohibitive, OR
  5. You get easily discouraged…for the job market is Nasty

I took a risk and it paid off. For some others it didn’t.  Should the wheels of time turn back and I be given the choice of accepting MSOR or rejecting it,  I would still accept it. I am much indebted to Columbia (and to God)  for how my career turned out to be.

Cherry Blossom poem



The Light Filling the air

is so mild this Spring day

only the Cherry Blossoms

Keep falling in haste –

why is that so?

– Ki no Tomonori,  C850 -904 AD

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First post of 2012


( part of an email that I sent to my friends today)

My office timings are very reasonable. I leave at 8 AM and am back by 6 PM, 5 days a week – which is unusual in the financial world. My team, like most of HMC, is very talented and diverse. I like working in the team and never feel left out or alone. Work is intense and challenging, requires attention to details and am still learning the details. Working in these places makes one humble. When we see so many smart people, it is difficult to fall under any false hubris.

I live near the university in a place called Cambridge, which has its own history. It takes me 35 minutes to reach office from here by taking a subway. Cambridge is a student area and almost everyone is a student at Harvard or MIT. While I have not interacted with many people as yet, there is a palpable feeling that these kids are smart – and most importantly – diverse in their interests and hobbies. The local laundry house is proof of that. Laundry mats are places where you really miss the good old dhobi twice a month. They are the US equivalents of Indian barber shops – just like barber shops in India they are full of popular movie magazines and tabloids. Thanks to them, I have known that Kim Kadarshian is having a fight with her mom and that there are tension brewing in Brad Pitt and Ms Jolie. BUT, the Laundromat near my house has Vogue/Cosmopolitan as well as books on East Asian food, Michelangelo’s life, Louvre’s collection, and Rocky mountains among other things. The clientele looks different and they demand different entertainment

Boston is considered to be a ‘Old money’ place in stark comparison to New York’s nouveau riche population. Locals don’t like the big apple that much and neither do they that emotion. Loyalties to football/baseball/basketball teams are almost jingoistic in appeal and I even saw a car sporting(?) a sticker – Yankees S*** ( ref to New York Yankees baseball team). I have no idea about these sports and thus find myself as the only person in bars on a Friday evening ho isn’t agitated.

I would however have to admit that Boston is much more beautiful and calmer than New York, if you leave out Manhattan’s Central Park that is. People are not running all the time and they usually have a better standard of living than their Yankee counterparts. Perhaps people are more well mannered too. The architecture, though not impressive as some other cities is special because of its association with many historic events. Khalil Gibran was here, just like Swami Vivekanand and Robert Frost. Boston is in fact over-educated , more than 40% of citizens have a college degree which is very high by American standards.

Over the summer months I plan to explore the city and make excursions to Maine, Vermont and New Hampshire. There is so much to see here and I don’t want to miss any of it. Visiting Grand Canyon and Yellowstone national park is on the cards too, will keep you posted on this.

On the notion of India and Indians being ‘Better’ (whatever that means)


आज जब मैं “श्री रामचन्द्र कृपालु भजुमन….” स्तुति का अनुवाद इन्टरनेट पर खोज रहा था, तब एक वेबसाइट पर ये उपलब्ध मिला. इसमें कोई शंका नही की अनुवादकर्ता ने बहुत सुन्दर रचना की है, किन्तु परेशानी मुझे preamble से है. विवेक शर्मा जी की पहली लाइन कहती है, ” Ramayana is the most important and influential epic ever written…..While Illiad and Odessey claim a greater fame in the West, among ancient epics, only Mahabharata ….comes close to Ramayana in grandeur and impact on the combined psyche and daily living of a large section of humanity. ”

This is not the first time that I have come across sweeping statements like these. Some people in India inculcate this notion of India being the best in everything – from culture to science, from ethics to nationalism. This jingoism reminds one of mussolini’s Italy, Hitler’s German or in more recent times, Kim il Sung’s North Korea (c.f. North Koreans are told that the “beloved leader” of North Korea ‘invented’ the Hamburger ). Growing up in 1990’s Ajmer, I often heard comments of how Indian minds are superior to those in west and how Indians abroad control the intellectual seat of knowledge. And who has not heard the local pundit touting hinduism over everything else?

I call it BS. The mere idea of one culture being superior to other is the root cause of so many problems in the world. How can one say that Hindi Literature is better than Greek literature? For subjective qualities like these how can one even make a statement of one thing being better than other?? For objective things we still can compare notes and the reality is no where close to this illusion. Who wins the Nobel prizes? (science ones – not that farce called ‘peace prize’ ) Who excelled in studies in Columbia University? ( answer – French! ) Which countries are top ranking in HRD indexes? Can the people who have made comments about India being the Greatest country have name the other 192 countries?

I think people who claim one culture/language/literature is better than others are too blinded by their beleifs to appreciate things. Those who have very limited knowledge can make idiotic comments of their culture being superior.

Those who know the world, those who have a quest for knowledge , inevitably end up realising that the world is only a repetitive pattern of same basic things. That no one is superior to other. That we all are same wine in differnet bottles.

….and that’s exactly what Lao Tsu realised 2500 years ago:

“The tao that can be told,
is not the eternal Tao.
The name that can be named
is not the eternal name

The unnamable is eternally real.
Naming is the origin
of all particular things.

Free from desire, you realise the mystery
Caught in the desire, you see only the manifestations.

Yet mystery and manifestations
arise from the same source.”

(Tao te Ching)

How to find a job


After spending countless hours preparing Cover Letters, Resumes and networking, I finally found a job last week. It took me 4 months, 174 applications and countless hours before I found a job that I was really excited about. Over the past 14 months, I constantly asked seniors, alumni and mentors the question – How can I find a job in these choppy markets? When every institution is in firing mode, how do I as an international student differentiate myself?

I’m writing this post to summarize what I learnt. I hope the reader ( perhaps a Columbia University IEOR Grad student like me) benefits and adds his/her observations along. I did not do all these things, at some of them I failed miserably. But a wise person is one who learns from others mistake.

Before Starting College

1) Your job hunt does not starts 1 semester before graduation. It starts from the day that you get your college admit letter. You should have only 3 focus areas in college. a) Learn (study) as much as possible b) Enjoy your college life in a responsible way and c) never forget the end result of education – a dream job.

2) When you arrive in college, You should already have the first draft of your resume ready. You should have ideally spent atleast 20 hours on making your resume. The only thing that should change is the top line of education heading, where you decide your courses and put relevant courses,

3) You should read every page of your university’s career website. For Columbia University, it would mean that you have read everything at http://www.careereducation.columbia.edu/resources/

4) Make a Linkedin Profile. Your goal should be to have 500+ connections before your last semester.

The First Semester

5) Arrive in US one month before course starts. Give yourself sufficient time to find an apartment and to acclimatize with the new culture. Contact seniors. Get all stupid things like phone, housing, food etc sorted out so that you waste minimal time thinking about them once school starts.

6) Talk to seniors and alumni before selecting courses. Although you should select courses that you like, keep in mind that certain classes are very important for jobs. For example, Security Pricing is a must if you want to be in finance.

7) Dont bite more than what you can chew. Select at least one ‘easy’ class each semester to maintain a decent GPA.

8) in light of points 6 and 7 above, Talk to your advisor ( or better still Jenny Mak in IEOR department ) before settling on a course,

9) Once college starts, You’ll be always short of time. For the first month, try to participate in everything possible. After first month, concentrate on a few things that suit your interest. Don’t compromise on studies for extra-curricular work. The only thing that may take a upper hand is interviewing where even if you have to miss classes, its ok.

10) GPA is not absolute. There are “bands” of GPA. below 3.0 you are pretty much screwed. 3.0 – 3.3 is just ok. 3.3 – 3.5 is average. 3.5 – 3.8 is good. 3.8 to 4.0 is very good. 4.0 + is excellent. The positive impact of a 4.0+ GPA is very high, just like the negative impact of a 3.0 and lesser GPA. That said, a higher GPA is always better

11) Sometime after the mid-sems, start applying for Spring and Summer Internships. I suggest you concentrate on CCE and IEOR job postings for the start. I ask you to wait till mid sems so that you can make some sense of job postings’ work description. This way, u’ll come across as a smart applicant who knows what he/she is talking about in cover letter.

12) A spring internship will mean that a) Your free time will disappear completely b) You’ll have to compromise on your social life c) You’ll have to work extra hard for grades d) you’ll miss out on some required extra-curricular activities. The good thing is that you’ll add a US work experience on your resume which will help you find a summer internship as well as a full time job.

Winter Break

13) Take 3-4 days off after the hectic first semester. Then, get down to work. The two odd weeks should be used to remedy your coding and math skills. I suggest you pick up 1 language – VBA or C++ preferably, otherwise MATLAB and try to code as much as possible. Make a schedule so you don’t waste time in spring semester to learn these things. ( I regret that I did not do this – big mistake)

14) Go to various companies website and note the deadline for summer internships. Make an excel sheet where you note the designation, deadline, and required documents. Mark your calendar so you don’t miss any stuff.

15) Good time to go to Linkedin ans see where your school alumni are working. On the excel sheet in point 14, make another column for people you should contact about jobs details in the specific company. EG. “UBS – ER Intern – 12 Jan 2012 – resume/CoverLetter – Contact Mr XYZ of MSOR 2004 to know more”

Second Semester.

This section assumes you have a GPA of 3.4+

16) This is when you’ll learn the most. There are amazing courses available in this semester. Asset Allocation, Term Structure, Volatility smile, Security Pricing, Application Programming etc are all good courses. You should try to audit as many courses in the first two weeks as possible. Remember, what you choose to learn in this semester will modify your job hunt in a major way.

17) If you are not interning this semester, study very very hard. Don’t limit yourself to 3 hard, 1 easy course rule. Take all those subjects where you think u’ll learn the most. In addition, audit another subject if you so wish. Crux – this semester forms the bulk of your knowledge base for any job you will do. Think of this semester as on-job training.

18) The only other objective in Spring semester is to find a Summer Internship. Be ready to apply to 50, 100 or even 150 places. Your objectives in the internship should be – firstly Brand Name, Secondly job content and thirdly Money. . Don’t feel bad if you are not earning as much as some others in summer internship. Brand Name and job content are far more important in long run.

19) Again, CCE and IEOR postings are my preferred way of searching for jobs. Others say that websites like internship dot com, monster dot com and efinancial careers are also good. But as you will observe, you’ll get around 200 – 500 job postings for relevant internships. For me, that was more than enough.

20) Don’t be disappointed if you don’t get an internship by April. People got internships as late as June. In the end, about 70% of my (known) classmates of MSOR ‘2011 had internships. Some unpaid, some paid. Mostly paid between $9 and $43 per hour.

21) The best way to find internship/jobs , apart from CCE, is networking.

Summer Internship

I’ll post another article here mentioning what you can do to maximize your benefits from Summer Internship.

The Last Semester

22) Try to have a light courseload in your last semester because you want to focus all your energy on job hunting.

23) Right after summer internship, make at-least 4-5 types of cover letters. Rework your resume. Have 3-4 types of resumes ready as well.

24) These cover Letters and resumes should not be longer than 1 page each. They should be easy to read and be specific to major types of job roles that you are planing to apply to. For example, in finance they can be one each for Equity Research, Portfolio Management, Credit Risk, Market Risk, Aset Allocation, Quant Research, Quant Trading, Technical (coding), Structured Finance etc. Bring out your different qualities as needed in each job. For Example, Equity Research should focus on your ” seeing the big picture” trait while Quant Trading should focus on ” Quick mathematical mind”.

25) Get your Cover letters and Resumes reviewed by someone in CCE.

26) For heaven’s sake, make sure you are addressing the correct company/person/job in your cover letter. Dont be stupid to send one cover letter to another company. ( I did this and I truly regretted it)

27) Not all jobs in CCE will be for Grad students. Some of them will only be for undergrads or postdocs. For these posting, go to the website directly and apply.

28) Not all jobs will be open to International Students. Don’t waste your time for jobs that require US Citizenship !!

29) My personal experience with job fairs is that they are useless if you haven’t researched the company and roles before visiting the fair. If you go there, the only way u can separate yourself from 100’s of people is when you ask quesntions like, “So I saw your profile at website and you mention that you need so-and-so. I have this-and-this and am good at such-and-such. Do you think I’ll fit in/ can you enlighten me abt this/ can i speak to someone in your this department/ I met XYZ and really liked the role, can you tell me what differentiates a good candiate from others?” etc. Moot point is – don’t sound dumb and ask stupid qns which amazingly enough, 90% of people do.

30) Don’t loose heart if you are rejected! Everyone who got a job amongst my friends received at least 40-50 rejects. Some people like me received 174 rejects. You’re not the first one who’ll receive a reject nor the last one. There will be times when you’ll just not know why u didnt get a interview call, when you clearly were the best. Instead of pondering too much over it, move on.

31) In light of point 30 above, if you are tired of job hunt, take a break, for as long as a week. Leave some applications. Its ok to miss a few deadlines. Don’t take it too hard on yourself. I suggest after every 30 applications, you take two days off and do no job hunting.

32) If everything fails, mobilize your networks and LinkedIn to full force. If you have been diligent, you would have already spoken to a number of people over the past 15 months, and now is the time ( on your 3-4th interaction) to very tactically ask, “is there any job that you know of? “. Please note that you’ll need to raise this topic very sensitively with your networks, I’ll write another post on this topic sometime.

33) If you have done all the above things, the only thing that can stop you from getting a job is your poor luck. And if that happens, remember what happens, happens for the best. Have faith in the Lord for He who creates is He who feeds.

Columbia MSOR placements / job offers


I had to wait, as usual, for Kaushik to get ready for dinner. So in the 30 odd minutes of waiting for his highness to ‘suit up’, Mittal and me did some rudimentary analysis on the job statistics of MSOR / EMS class of 2011. Here’s the results

First the disclaimers : We only surveyed people whom we interact with and took into account facts known among friends. There may have been job offers that were not disclosed. Also, the sample size is 31 while the class size is perhaps 200. We did not consider any visa restrictions and our facts may be horribly wrong. Most importantly, The course has not even finished and people still have 1 month of course + 2 months of grace period + 3 months of OPT = 6 months more to search for a job offer. It is highly likely that (almost) everyone will get a job in the next 6 months. It is certain that the next round of great jobs will come from freshers ( first quarter of 2012 )

Now the results:

Sample size = 31
Of which Indian citizens = 31
People with job offers = 15 ( 48.4%)
People with job offers who are happy with status quo ( no more job huntng) = 8 ( 25.8% of sample size)
People with Work Experience = 19
…. of which who got offers = 12.
=> 63 % of work ex junta got offers as of December 2, 2011

People without Work Experience = 12
…. of which who got offers = 03.
=> 25 % of freshers got offers as of December 2, 2011

Number of people who had a summer internship = 24
…. Of which got offers = 13

=> internship considerably inreases your chance to get an offer.

Sample list of companies: AmEx, PwC, E&Y, Thomson Reuters, Goldman Sachs, Nomura etc.
Sample Designations: Analyst, Senior Analyst, Associate, Consultant, Sr. Consultant


1) Work experience is defined as anyone who has more than 12 months of work experience in any field.
2) Only relies on publicly available information
3) Salary disclosure is rare, so no statistics are available.

Newton’s third law


a) If you like someone, there is a good chance he/she will like you too
b) If you hate someone, it is certain that he/she will hate you.


c) If you love someone, there is no guarantee that the favor will be returned.

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These interviews..


I often think, had I only said this – or more often, Not said that – I would have cleared the interview. But then I think, what’s the point of getting a job through deceit? Why should I start a career on foundations weak?

Lord, give me the job that I deserve, not the one I lust after.

Of Job Hunting – part 2


I am feeling much better now. And the reason is that I spoke to my mom and she made me see some basic things, which i had forgotten in my panic.

I have started getting some interview calls. Some more are in the pipeline. 3 interviews for their final round are scheduled this month…something should come out of it I hope! And then, there are still 6 months to go before my Visa requirements force me to go back to India. Assuming the worst case of 3 calls per month – that means 20 interview calls. Lets think I get an offer only in 1 of 5 companies. That means I should have 4 final decisions to choose. In the rarest case of cracking only 10% interview – I still should have 2 offers to choose from. If even that doesn’t work, I’ll do some research or something, try to be here for 3-4 more month and get a job. And frankly, If I don’t get a job even after 12 months, then I am better off going to India.

So what’s the worst which may happen? I’ll go back to India. India is a booming market. There is Finance, there is IT, there is education. I did very good work at ICICI Bank and I think people still remember it. I may get a job at ICICI, if not in some other bank. If not in Finance, I will join an IT company. If even that fails I will join an MBA college/coaching. Heck, I may just open up a institute myself.

Strange that my mom should put some sense in me, of all the people whom I know of.

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Two short poems on Death


Aunt Helen by T S Eliot

Miss Helen Slingsby was my maiden aunt,
And lived in a small house near a fashionable square
Cared for by servants to the number of four.
Now when she died there was silence in heaven
And silence at her end of the street.
The shutters were drawn and the undertaker wiped his feet–
He was aware that this sort of thing had occurred before.
The dogs were handsomely provided for,
But shortly afterwards the parrot died too.
The Dresden clock continued ticking on the mantelpiece,
And the footman sat upon the dining-table
Holding the second housemaid on his knees–
Who had always been so careful while her mistress lived.


Death of a mechanic – Paul Pellicci

He was fixing his car
Held up only by a jack
While underneath working
It came crashing down
He was using a ratchet wrench
3/8 socket driven into his skull
Wasn’t all that unusual
3/8 is a very common size.
He was buried
By a neglected wife and kids
The emotion was shock
Those tears seemed dry
We all wondered
Who’s getting his tools?

Top 10 signs that you are activated on a matrimonial site


10) You stop completing your linkedin profile and start worrying about xyzmatrimony.com

9) While taking a picture you start thinking of making it a abcmatrimony profile pic rather than a FB profile pic.

8) You start noticing people’s surnames – something you never did in the past 27 years of your life.

7) You realize that now in addition to preparing, “Why do you want this job?” you also have to prepare, “What do I expect from my life partner?”

6) The girl who sits in the next cabin starts looking OK to you.

5) (Almost) Every ‘correct age’ unmarried women starts being judged from a is-she-ok-for-me point of view

4) You start realizing that all your ex-girlfriends weren’t that bad after all.

3) You moods begin alternating between being S*** scared and irrational exuberance(and I dont mean that in an Alan Greenspanish way)

2) Every time your mom calls up, you feel the consternation that she’ll either mention a new ‘rishtaa’ or ask, “Bhaiyyu, did you find someone on xyzmatrimony?”

1) You are undecided that which of the above 9 points should be ranked numero uno, for all of them are as weird and as true as it gets.


वो लम्हे


रुक जाता है New York ,
ठहर जातें हैं चलते कदम,
चुप हो जाती है सभी सडकें,
उन चंद लम्हों के लिए,
जब तुम मेरी किसी बात पर,
शर्माती हो…

8 जून २०११, Boston

New York stops.
footsteps stop,
and the streets turn silent,
for those few moments
When while listening to me,
you blush.

Of Money


What is money worth? How important is it to others and how important is it to me?

Interestingly enough, the answers to the above questions have started to become more clear to me. Money is worth only what you think it worth, and thus its importance differs from person to person. While this may seem a banal truth to the reader, I think the appreciation of this fact is invaluable to me.

About two years back, on a chilly December night in Delhi, I took an Auto from Katwaria Sarai to AIIMS. After the standard negotiation I observed that the auto driver was a bit different. He looked different from others and he behaved differently from others, even while negotiating for fare. So I asked this 50 year old, “who are you? You were not always an auto driverit seems!”. And then this guy said, ” I was an industrialist and I had three houses and 5 cars. I had bad luck and I lost everything. Now since an year I’m driving an auto.” This was very weird! I then asked him, ” Are you not sad and discouraged with life?” and he replied, “No, God had given me good days and god has given me bad days as well”.


2 weeks back, McKinsey sponsored a symposium in Boston. of the 5000 odd resumes that they received, they selected 50 people to come. I was one of those 50. I boarded Acela Express, and McKinsey paid the $230 round ticket from NYC -Boston. I attended a party in the evening where I could have one the most expensive wines of the world. At night I was in one of the best rooms of Ritz-Carlton that overlooked Boston Common. Next Morning, after the expensive wines, king-type bath and a 5 star stay, I looked outside and thought – where has life taken me today! Where was I 25 years back in my village where we used to get electricity only 10 hours a day? How was my first school where i took classes under open sky because the roof wasn’t ready! How I used to travel in sleeper class trains for 18 hours before reaching home, sometimes sitting on the ground because I had no reservation! And how I am here today! How I went to London! How I came to Columbia University….. and most importantly where I may be tomorrow?

What is wealth? It comes and goes. What is money? it is here today, and not there tomorrow. Life & luck are so fickle minded that it is pointless to associate our happiness with money. I am thankful to Lord that he giveth me this newfound wealth, but I remain cautious of growing too attached to it.Of course I need money to feed myself and my family, to live a decent lifestyle and to take care of my family’s health. But beyond that, its plain useless to me.

साईं इतना दीजिये, जा मे कुटुम समाय ।
मैं भी भूखा न रहूँ, साधु ना भूखा जाय ॥

ये दिन – केदारनाथ अग्रवाल ( These days by Kedarnath Agrawal)


Kedar often did not name his poems. The first lines were  the name of the poem, something I dont think makes sense. Have thus changed the name of this poem

भूल सकता मैं नहीं

ये कुच-खुले दिन,

ओठ से चूमे गए,

उजले, धुले दिन,

जो तुम्हारे साथ बीते

रस-भरे दिन,

बावरे दिन,

दीप की लौ-से

गरम दिन ।

(My translation follows)

Try yet I cannot forget,

these open breasted days –

kissed by your lips,

these bright, just bathed days.

The ones spent with you,

these sap filled days.

crazy days.

warm, –

warm like the candle flame days.

The subway ride


She surrenders to him, completely,

letting guards down,

( not wanting to let survival skills kick in)

listening to Simon and Garfunkel,

preach about the subway Gods

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People who strive


Chango and Golu are examples that hard work and struggle are the key elements of success. It is not that they have climbed the everest or gone to the North Pole, but their achievements of finding a job and getting through Med School are no less inspiring for me, the friend and brother.

Both on their paths encountered numerous problems, sleepless nights , backbreaking work and rejects all around. Both were denied the sweet fruit of their labor for that long a time where Satan becomes an everpresent echo, “you’re not going to make it”. Both of them stuck at their paths longer than any other of my friends, and certainly much longer than my attempts at persistence.

And now, withing a week, both have found something to be proud of, at London and New York – where they really wanted to be.

It is these achievements that restore my faith in hard work, when the world seems unfair and the night seems long and cold.

How to make a typical punjabi video song


1) choose some hot girls ( or wanna be hot girls)
2) choose some good beats
3) for i = 1 to n
{ open punjabi dictionary,
choose random word,
open english dictionary,
choose random word,
Insert “soniye, kudiye” every second line
next i }
4) go to USA/Canada
5) make hot girl wear skimpy clothes
6) hire a sexy car
7) make video

Note: These steps need not be done in order

for end product, see : http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=gW8r-aaJRX8

Yesterday ( W.S. Merwin)


No comments.



Do you proclaim me heartless,
of loving someone?

Like the yellow leaf of Maple Autumn;
A recipient of adulating eyes,
yet an apathetic passer-by?


Flirt, who wants to?
when the heart pines to hear
for the songs of soul
to be heard
through your breath
and your kiss
and your

– Varun. Nov 16, New York



When I plan to flirt ,
In NY’s Central Park
it never works
end up
making Haiku remarks.

11th Sunday at New York


1) Woke up at 7 AM
2) Went for a walk in Riverside Park till 92nd street
3) Saw many squirrels, touched one
4) Went inside St John’s Cathedral
5) Read about Cotton bonds by confederation. Could connect a lot of things to it- Mumbai’s wealth for example
6) Came back to study Time Series, sort of understood it
7) Had Lunch at an Italian place I thought I’d visit one day.
8) Went for Halloween Parade at 14th Street
9) Came back now and would be off to sleep. Will wake at 11 AM again tomorrow.

Seventh Week at Columbia University


A part time job does not mean that you save some money. It only means that that you spend more without feeling guilty.

In my Greek Architecture class, prof showed a sample whose size was 10 metres. When asked how many feet, he was confused (He is Greek). When no one could figure how much is that after about 30 seconds I said “33 Feet”. Professor was impressed

In my Stochastic Calculus class, when I asked why dont we take the third order derivatives of Brownian Motion, the professor gave me the “What – a – dork – he – doesnt- even – know – that” look

In my Time Series class, the prof showed us 3 graphs, whose x axis and y axis were not labelled. He said , ” to anyone who can identify even one graph, a drink is due”. I guessed two ( including one which was the brightness magnitude of a double star system over 300 years). And yet I did not get a drink.

My first midterm was OKish. I made some silly mistakes. Forgetting the calculator at home was not a mistake, it was a catastrophe.
My part time job involves taking notes and forwarding phone calls to concerned people. I sort of miss ICICI

The punishment for plagiarizing is suspension. If you are caught cheating for the second time, you are sent back to your country. Needless to say one can never come back.

US is amazingly rich. Even after staying here for 3 months, I still think that’s true. Yes, you can find beggars here. Yes you can find homeless people here. But for every one of them, you also see 10 coffee makers thrown in the garbage because it is discolored or 20 chairs on the street because their handle is loose. Or a wooden chest in the garbage because one drawer is squeaky. Very few people repair stuff, its all just thrown away.

Sixth week at Columbia University


The mercury has been dropping on a daily basis here and it seems that pretty soon I’ll be exposed to the infamous NY cold. It is 9’C today and over the weekend the low may reach 7’C. Funnily I am getting used to “F and dont feel intimidated by something that reads 62/44 ( 17/07)

Another thing that I realised this week was that everyone keeps bumping into me. It happened thrice on Sunday and finally I understood (although pretty late) that I’m the one who’s walking on the wrong side. I’m used to walking on the left of a stairway/road and like driving, that’s opposite in US. It’s a conscious effort to correct myself these days.

Last Friday on a whim, me and my friend decided to walk from our house to Times Square, and back. It was a 16 KM (10 miles) walk that took us 4 hours. We crossed 170 streets and three avenues. Columbia has this wonderful program of giving discounted movie tickets at $6.50 instead of the regular $13. These tickets have no expiry date and are valid throughout the US. Making use of this opportunity, we saw “Social Network” a movie about facebook. This movie hall (AMC) is located near the 42nd street Subway station, and the subway lines pass under the movie hall. As a result, every 5 minutes or so there was a 10 second vibration period. Amusing at first but irritating later on.

As a classic case of stumbling upon happiness, I was offered three part time jobs at the same time this week. I’m not very keen on working too much as I’d rather focus my energy on other things, but having sid that working for 10 hours per week isnt that bad an idea. I was offered a job at Engg Library, at the International Affair library and at the Dean Student Affairs’ office. Library was offering me $ 9 an hour. At the Dean’s office the lady who interviewed me said, ” We normally pay $10 – 12 per hour, but since you’re a CFA, we’ll give you $14 an hour.” This was the first time CFA was of some monetary use to me :). She pressed me to work 15 hours a week but I accepted 10, which turns out to about $ 550 a month.

My courses are getting more and more difficult with every passing class. Midterms are due next week and I dont see myself free for at least a week now.

That’s pretty much it.

Fourth week in Columbia University


( I am writing this post in a hurry, so the language may contain many flaws)

This week was notable for three things:

1) I took two long walks in the city. The first was from 9th street to 90th street, and across 4 Avenues. That would be roughly 10 KMs, which was quite long by my standards! It was a beautiful day and I walked almost half of this big Island with my brother who was visiting me from Washington. Me and Golu saw all the beautiful buildings, and explored all the nooks and corners in our way. So, e.g, we now know where can you find the cheapest I love NY shirts here! Golu also took me to a very good coffee shop at 9th Street, where the to-go coffee was really nice!
My second escapade was yesterday when I walked the length of Riverside Park.. About 60 streets and then crossed the Central Park to the MET museum. About 7 Kms in total. Riverside Park is, well, on the river. It starts right behind my house and I had the opportunity to see the sun settle across the river. A very nice evening indeed. By the time I reached the museum, it was closed. And for the first time I observed the magnitude of that huge building , being made only more colossal by the lack of thronging crowds .

2) While coming back from my second walk, I was noticing the price of a haircut – from $13 to $ 20 – in different barber shops. I briefly toyed with the idea of giving myself a haircut, but then realised that my life’s worth is more than $20. Anyways, I located a saloon at 96th street for $12. Overcoming the idea of spending Rs 600 on a haircut is a major roadblock away for me now!
BTW barbers everywhere are the same. They are quiet a chatterbox. This one, someone from Uzbekistan, was no different. He spoke at length about the Indian movies he saw in the USSR days, and asked my opinions on them. He did not pay much attention that I was more interested in talking about Samarkand instead. Anyways, I emerged
a more decent looking person &
much more knowledgeable about bollywood ; from this adventure

3) We have to study a subject known as “Stochastic calculus” . It is considered to be difficult and deals with the Probabilities and Mathematical Inferences. While doing some homework on something known as ” Wald’s Equations” , I got curious about this equation and googled the term. As it turns out, Abraham Wald was a research scientist at Columbia University, and my professor didn’t even mention this! The fact that my university has produced such great people makes me humble and ambitious at the same time.


Update: Third week at Columbia University


This was a hectic week. My workload has suddenly taken a quantum leap and I’m literally hitting the books and computer keys for the most part of my days. Interestingly I have classes only on Tuesday and Wednesday, but the HW is just too much to do. A key differentiator of US education is the depth it provides Vs the breadth of Indian Education. And this suits me fine. I am a jack of all trades and master of none. I hope after 3 semesters I am still a jack of all trades and master of one.

On a more concrete note, this week I learnt how to identify American trees by looking at their leaf. I walk to college every day and while coming back collect leaves of 2 or 3 trees. then at home I look and identify them on the net. I now know that we have Pin leaf oaks, Sugar Maple, Red Maple, Ginkgo and other trees in and around the university. This is really fascinating! When I went to Houston I saw a fossil imprint of Ginkgo leaf next to a bird’s remains, and it so turns out that this tree is among the oldest surviving species of trees in the world. It sort of amazes me that how some things are permanent in this ever changing life of ours.My roomies have declared me a weirdo for collecting leaves although :) They are eagerly awaiting Fall when our house would be leaf-free.

In Architecture , I spent some more time on understanding “Beaux-Arts”, one of the prominent architectural styles in New York. My house was itself made in Beaux Arts (1905) and has the defining features of this era – Gibbs Surround, Egg and Dart Motifs, rusticated first floor, a Cartouche under the front door, neo-classical pilasters etc. I’m really fortunate to be staying in a house that is made in a particular architectural order. On a person note, I find cities that have an order appealing to me. India has a lot to learn from the western world on the urban planning.

By the way, I stay opposite to the “Manhattan School of Music” at Claremont Avenue. This is considered to be a prestigious institution and many of the performers – teachers and students – live in my building. It is not uncommon to hear a piano playing Beethoven or Mozart on a lazy Sunday afternoon. While I’m deeply immersed in Markov Chains and other arcane mathematical fundas, this comes like a breeze to me.

This week also saw my birthday. A number of people wished my by email/phone/Facebook and I’m thankful to them. I did not imagine that my roomies would have any idea of my b’day and went off to sleep, but these guys woke me up at 12. And with them were 10 more classmates who live nearby. Really nice of them. We cut a cake and ate some other stuff. But otherwise my b’day was quite drab. I had to study for 16 hours, I did not have people whom I could say, “let me treat you”. The day was spent in coding MATLAB programs that didn’t work. So on and so forth. However, at 3 in the night, when I was just about to call quits to the sad day, my computer program finally executed and I was really happy that something good came out of it. Also, the next morning I found a parcel from India that had a B’day card and two coupons of the Haagen-Dazs ice creams, the ones I’ve always thought of eating here. This made my day!

Today was an Indian fresher party. I went there for the sole purpose of having food, so I wouldn’t have to cook. (I had tons of assignments to do). It was pretty boring till dinner time. But after that they thought of starting the music and it was really fun. I think letting your hair down once a while isn’t that bad an idea.

My days are getting more and more hectic. There’s just toooo much stuff to do, too much to read and too much to code. I have to study at least 12 hours per day including weekends. Strangely I’m enjoying it till now. I hope my interest persists.

I survive


I try ,I fall.
I retry, I fall again.

And it goes on and on and on.
And then, when I reach the Nadir,
Making a mess of myself
I shall rise, Like a Phoenix
Yet again.

And I shall fly
and fly and fly and fly
to the Zenith,
I shall rule again.

And mark my words
I’ll dazzle you
yet again!

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O Fortuna : Velut Luna ( Oh fate, you’re like the moon)


Fate or life is like the moon. जब चीज़ें बुरी चल रही तो होती हैं, तो वो बद से बदतर होती जाती हैं . जब अच्छी चलती है तो अच्छी से और बेहतर होती जाती हैं. चंद्रमा की तरह. और ये चक्र चलता जाता है. अच्छा – बहुत अच्छा – बुरा – बहुत बुरा – अच्छा.

मूर्ख हो तुम यदि सोचते हो की बुरी चीज़ें अच्छी चीज़ों के विपरीत समाप्त नहीं होंगी.

और विद्वान हो जो अगर इस बात को समझ कर न सुख में सुखी हो न दुःख में दुखी.

और जब तुम विद्वान् बन जाते हो, तो तुम्हे समझ आता है की गीता ये क्यूँ कहती है की ” कर्मन्यावाधिकरास्ते, माँ फलेषु कदाचन ”

और जब तुम्हे गीता सार समझ आ जाता है तो तुम बुरे – अच्छे से ऊपर उठ जाते हो. जैसा की Nietzche कहता है … तुम “Beyond good and evil” बन जाते हो.

A Quote


We are all in the gutter, but some of us are looking at the stars.

–Oscar Wilde, Lady Windermere’s Fan, 1892, Act III
(Irish dramatist, novelist, & poet (1854 – 1900) )

What’s wrong if I install my own statues, asks Mayawati



Lucknow, March 15 (IANS) Bahujan Samaj Party (BSP) supremo and Uttar Pradesh Chief Minister Mayawati is unable to understand why she is under fire from various quarters for installing her own statues.

‘What’s wrong if I install my own statues together with those of my party icons whose contribution as great social reformers remained unrecognised for decades because of the sick caste bias of those who were in power?’ she asked the crowd which converged at her party rally here Monday.

The rally was organised to mark the party’s silver jubilee celebrations, and coincided with the 76th birth anniversary of party founder and her political mentor Kanshi Ram.

She said: ‘My critics often argue that it is inappropriate to install statues of a living person, but I wish to ask them if there is any law disallowing installation of statues of important personalities?’

‘Where is the law preventing official expenditure on statues of living personalities?’ she said, defending her actions of spending billions of rupees on statues and memorials.

‘Remember, what I have spent on memorials and statues was only one per cent of the state’s annual budget, but what I have built is going to be there for posterity.’

‘I firmly believe that those who are unable to create history are always pushed into oblivion. That is why it was important to leave such imprints that will stay for all times to come,’ Mayawati said.

News – Sparks fly as Baba takes on Swami in sex and spirituality debate



” ..The opening session of the second day of the India Today Conclave 2010 did arouse the right degree of passion.

One was Baba Ramdev…The other was Swami Satya Vedant, chancellor of Osho Multiversity, Pune, who is carrying forward the legacy of his teacher, whose most famous – and least misunderstood – book is titled From Sex to Superconsciousness . India Today Group editorial director Prabhu Chawla, famous for his Seedhi Baat , moderated the session.

The two gurus seemed to be taking the same route, but the differences began to show up when Baba Ramdev held forth on his much-publicised stance on homosexuality. “I eat from my mouth, not my backside,” he said, referring to his stance that homosexuality was “against the order of nature”, adding that a few “literate idiots” had deliberately opted to misunderstand him”

नए गगन में – नागार्जुन


गुलरभोज में बाबा के कमरे में एक चित्र टंगा था. उगते हुए लाल सूर्य का चित्रण था. साथ ही एक कविता की ये पंक्तियाँ भी थी –

” नए गगन में,
नया सूरज जो चमक रहा है,
ये विशाल भूखंड,
आज जो दमक रहा है,

मेरी भी आभा है इसमें ! “

A Drinking Song – W B Yeats


My sis asked me to find a poem on wine for her ladies club..and look what a gem I found!

“Wine comes in at the mouth
And love comes in at the eye;
That’s all we shall know for truth
Before we grow old and die.
I lift the glass to my mouth,
I look at you, and I sigh.”

Kunal Verma (1984 – 2009)


My earliest memory of Kunal (Kunnu) is of him sitting in Navu’s room 246 Shivalik Hostel in 2002, taking some stuff from Navneeraj. I had just joined the college and did not know many of my classmates by face or by name. The first question that was asked was – what’s ur name and branch, followed by “what’s your rank?”. The latter often led to questions on IIT rank. It was then I noted that Kunnu had achieved a good rank at JEE entrance but somehow could not make it to finals. I had an instant opinion that this shy guy was intelligent.

Over time I came to know about the day-ski group consisting of Rajat,RG, Sharara, Buddy, Jasleen, Vachla and Kunnu. Somehow kunnu was different from others. He was soft spoken, shy and a simple person. I had interned with him in Kotsons, Agra where we were staying together at his Chacha ji’s home. We both used to stay at the top floor room, where Chachaji had kindly installed a cooler to keep us warm from the sweltering heat. The evening was spent in walking around the locality, looking at transformers and happily amusing ourselves by putting to practice our newfound knowledge. Every day we used to go to the bazaar where we used to drink “Bel ka sharbat” – a sweet yellow drink. Because Kunnu did not know how to drive, I used to drive the scooter to work in the summer of 2004, and we used to keep on chatting about so many things..

Kunnu was a down to earth person who was very interested in knowing about new things. We used to discuss current affairs, what’s going on in college, who is doing what in class, some music and all that stuff that Second Yr students usually discuss. Agra was experiencing electricity cuts that summer and quite often at night we used to find ourselves sleeping under the open sky, talking about the day’s events. Through our talks I realized that Kunnu was quite inquisitive and always wanted to improve himself. Even in Noida when I used to visit RG , Kunnu and I talked about all things under the sun. At that time he was very interested in MBA and I was only too happy to give him my idiotic Gyaan

He had no deceit in him, he could not harm anyone and he was too simple to fool any person. When were in Agra He once said, “Its too hot, I’ll wear a wet Gamcha around my head to keep cool while going to Kotsons” . I had laughed a lot about this and said, “pagal hai kya, pata hai kitna ullu lagega tu!”. It was only a simple person like him who could think of doing things like these, which the image-conscious me could not even imagine.

And I think it was precisely that he was so harmless and simple that people used to take his case, ad infinitum, ad nauseum.

People think that it was a love affair that killed him. I disagree.

It was his ‘friends’ who drove him to such desperation and sadness. I wont say what exactly happened, But his friends know very well what they did with him, how they behaved with him, how they used to make fun of him. With not even a single anchor, not even a single true friend..how would someone feel? I really don’t know.

Let the world think that it was a failed love affair, after all the world wants to be deceived; so let it be…Mundus vult decipi, ergo decipiatur

From my side, Kunnu I’m sorry , I never gave you a call, never replied to your messages.. I was too busy in my own idiotic life to think of anybody else. I’m truly sorry to have failed you.

Peace be upon you.

Rajat-RG-Me-Kunal in PEC Chandigarh, 24 may 2006

Rajat-RG-Me-Kunal in PEC Chandigarh, 24 may 2006

After the result


There isn’t much that now you can do

So have a smoke and melt in the night dew

Listen to the tick tock of your pocket clock

Wondering if naught is all, all things come to.

Or probably you can have a beer

And look at your despicable self with a sneer

Mediocre you, always knew,

My efforts were impotent, there or here.

So sip the whiskey, soda and scotch

Sit alone on the backside porch

Lo and Behold! As the truth be told

“You were always useless”, Says the watch.

The man who sings hallelujah


The man who sings hallelujah
on the cobbled street in corn market,
does he know?
That his words ride the breeze
and enter the pasty shop,
tiptoe on the book shelf,
smell a dark chocolate,
laugh in the lovers’ ear,
repent on the church altar,
then swing around the coffee machine
before piercing my heart?
Chocking my neck,
overwhelming me, part by part?

This piece was inspired by a man playing/singing  you-know-what in Corn Market Street in Oxford. It was dusk and a slight breeze was present. I was sitting in the courtyard of ‘Church at North Gate’ with Shveta and having a flavoured coffee.To listen to the original song, click here . This is Rufus wainwright. Original is by Leonard Cohen.

Oxford MFE 2010 Interview Experience


Before I forget, here’s what happened on 19 Nov 09:

Started with me going to Mr Joel Shapiro’s room on first floor. Mr Shapiro had just moved in and some of the boxes were still there. It was a very comfortable setting with me sitting opposite Mr Shapiro. The interview lasted for about 40 mins. It was 100% technical. No standard questions like Why MFE, Why Oxford Etc.

1) What’s your math background?

2) What is Baye’s theorm? ( Had forgotten this, could not answer)

3) How to solve a system of equations? Tell me 3 methods.

4) How to find the area under a curve for discrete points? How is this different from continuous functions?

5) How much Economics do you know? ( told him that I’ve cleared CFA level 3 )

6) Lets play a game. 2 firms produce same good, unconstrained supply, unconstrained demand. Rule is if one price is lower than second’s, all the demand will go to the lower one. Otherwise demand split in two. Is system in equilibrium?

7) What will happen to game at start?

8) how will it progress?

9) what will happen in end?

10) Can the firm earn profits?

11) How can they earn profits? ( told him abt differentiation)

12) how will differenciated goods work?

13) what if differentiated products work? lets say coke and pepsi?

14) How else can they earn profits? ( told him constrained supply)

15-17) how will game start, progress, end in constrained supply?

18) Lets play two period game. What will happen in two periods?

19) any questions ( I said no, had already asked them in the Open day)

I have not studied game theory, so I dont know if my answers were correct or incorrect. But I have a feel that it wasn’t very good interview from my side. That said, Mr Shapiro was great.

Why Buddy is Buddy and why no one can be like Buddy

Buddy with Chivas

Buddy with Chivas

Perhaps even more difficult than the search for the Goly Grail, the search of El Dorado, The search of the fountain of Youth is the Question – “Why Buddy is Buddy and why no one can be like Buddy?”

For those of you who don’t know him, Buddy ( Parmeet Singh) is 25/M/Weird/Witty/Engineer/Doing-good-at-job. He was my classmate for 4 years in Punjab Engineering College, Chandigarh (PEC) For the First three years , I found him to be the most weird guy of 2002-06 Electrical Engineering. But in the fourth year my opinions did a volte-face. During a trip with him ( and the class) to Nathpa-Jhakri I realized he was smart, intelligent, funny and good at heart.

Buddy often does things I can not even imagine to do in my weirdest dream. He’s tired of Cities? Ok He’ll go to Chitwan and valley of flowers for 10 days. He’ll go on a trip to a forgotten hamlet in Maharashtra where he’ll only have coconuts and fishes.  He is missing his parents? Ok, He’ll take them to pondicherry on a week’s notice. He’s feeling artistically challenged? Ok, he’ll learn the guitar.He’s feeling lonely? Ok, He’ll talk to every single man/woman/in-between in a bus in some obscure village of Thailand and will make them friends in 5 mins flat. A dog’s barking at him? Ok, He’ll go and pet it and give him a biscuit and within minutes buddy has found a new buddy.

Buddy is the only person who can visit each and every village of Kinnaur district and distribute sweets  like a Santa Claus. Buddy is the only guy who’ll  complete the half marathon of 21 KM  Buddy , After only one day’s practice,  In the most bizarre haircut possible, And with a peg of Chivas Regal in hand

Buddy is buddy and no one can be like buddy because we all are so engrossed in making our tomorrows better that we forget today. We all are like those rats who’ll starrve today to keep storing food for tomorrow. That tomorrow never comes. And we all remain rats.

We all are in pursuit of happiness…..While buddy is happy exactly because he’s not in pursuit of happiness .Buddy and me in Nainital ( Diwali, 2009)

Oxford MFE 2010 – Interview Call !


Yay!!! I got an interview call again from the MFE program at Said Business School, Oxford University.

This time they have an open day scheduled on 19 Nov 09. It is a day when u can tour the campus, meet professors and students, and can even attend a dummy class. I plan to attend this open day function and will be flying over to Oxford only for this interview call.

Although my interview went very well last year, I was disappointed that I could not convert it. This time around I think attending the interview in person might make a difference. It will also give me a first hand experience of the place I want to go

BTW, Did I tell you that my Maternal Grandparents (post)graduated from Oxford in 1962? I’m very excited to be going to that place…

Lets hope the VISA falls in place now !

New Delhi Love song


Sample this beautiful fusion poem from a certain Mr Michael Creighton, who teaches English in a school at Delhi. This poem appeared in the Mint Lounge edition of October 24 2009. This poem was tugged on the bottom right corner of the newspaper and would have most certainly missed my attention, had it not been for the wonderful rhyming pattern that caught my attention. Mr Creighton tries to capture the essence of Urdu Shayari style in English and does an excellent job. I think this is the first poem of its kind that I’ve read.

( For those who are new to Shayari – One of the characteristic things about Urdu couplets ( Shayari ) is that they follow the aa-ba-ba-ba format. While they not necessarily rhyme in the b-b part, the a-a part always matches. )


Smog and dust mix with the air in New Delhi.

I buy jasmine for her hair in New Delhi.

People come from everywhere to this city;

all are welcomed with a stare in New Delhi.

The finest things in life don’t come without danger.

Eat the street food, if you dare, in New Delhi.

We push in line and fight all day for each rupee.

Can you remember what is fair in New Delhi?

There is nothing you can’t find in our markets.

Socks and dreams sell by the pair in New Delhi.

So many families on the street through the winter;

Sometimes good men forget to care in New Delhi.

My friends ask, Michael, why’d you leave your own country?

I found jasmine for her here, in New Delhi.

Pizzeria for sale


I have a pizzeria. This pizzeria was very famous and everyone wanted to eat there. I also like to feed people, or should I say to feed people who can afford to pay upfront bill.  Now I’m a man of principles. I tell everyone that I have my rules and obviously I’ll not allow anyone  to break them.

One day in 1948, a very humble ascetic passed by my store. He did not demand anything but I know I should have given him a pizza. My staff knew I should give him a pizza, my customers knew  I should give him a pizza, My wife knew  I should give him a pizza and my pet goldfish also knew  that I should give him a pizza.  But I’m a man of principles, so I wont give him anything. Just as Governor Swazzenegar  said in that iconic movie of all times’ Terminator -1,2,3′, I also proclaim, “talk to the hand”. So beat it. I’m a man of principles after all

Then one day in 2009,Mr XYZ who is 100 lbs overweight , passes by my shop.   He says, “Yo chum, can I have a pizza for free?” I immediately know that I have to give this poor scraggy man something to eat, or otherwise he risks being overweight by ony 99.5 lbs. So I give him some Pizza, a pepsi and 6 pieces of garlic bread for free. My Staff is surprised, My customers are upset, my wife says she’ll divorce me and my goldfish commits suicide. But I justify it all saying, ” you know, this man holds great future”

I think it was the day when people lost any trace of faith in my pizzeria and now I’m bankrupt. The flame has somehow vanished. A certain Mr Gorbachev and Mr Kissenger had already stolen some of the fuel, but this time its just dead.

Would you like to buy my Pizzeria ? Its located in Norway ( and Sweden ) . It is about a century old and is called ” The Nobel Prize, Inc” . It has great support lines from one Federal Bank, USA. And you can buy it at any price you want….. Because frankly, no one cares a $hit about it now.

“Some people say — and I understand it — ‘Isn’t it premature? Too early?’ Well, I’d say then that it could be too late to respond three years from now.It is now that we have the opportunity to respond — all of us”  …..    Thorbjoern Jagland, chairman of the Norwegian Nobel Committee, told the Associated press

Oxford MFE 2010


My fascination with Oxford’s MFE program refuses to abate even after my unsuccessful attempt last year. I just submitted my application once again ( tata £75.00 !). The interview decision is awaited on 30th October while final decisions are due by 11 December 09.

I am aware that Berkeley’s MFE and Princeton’s MiF are supposed to be much better than  Oxford’s program, however Oxford remains my dream college. I think it might be because of the beautiful campus, 800 year old history, so many notable indian alumni or may be I’m just bewitched by it.

I think about 120 odd people will apply in the first deadline . I’m quite sure of this statistic. If I’m invited for an interview, there is a strong chance that I’ll fly to Oxford only to give it a shot. Last time I could not completely understand the Corporate Finance question asked to me.

Since last year, three new things have been added to my resume:

  1. I cleared CFA level 3
  2. I’ve done lots of distressed assets deals
  3. I’ve restructured an MBS

Yes, there is the £26,000 + living expenses to worry about, but I’ll cross the bridge when i come to it.

posted under English, MFE, Oxford | 3 Comments »

CFA Level 3 – 50 things that you should know


I started preparing for CFA when it had been 6 months into my first year at B School. CFA seemed to be that great qualification which was very difficult to attain and thus very much respected. It seemed to be the magical gateway to $100,000 jobs and it was an accepted fact that it required very hard work and that hardly anyone passed all three exams in one shot. That was January 2007. Today is August 2009. I have passed all three levels in my first attempt. I think now having gone through the program, I can write decisively about the myths and realities surrounding it. Here’s 50 insights in the program

1) It is not a difficult exam to pass. CFA is very do-able if you put in the hours.

2) CFA is 80% hard work and 20% intelligence.

3) An average joe/jane can clear the program provided that he/she does not give up hope.

4) CFA is difficult because you’ll have to give up on your social life for the three years that you’re doing it.

5) It is much more difficult to clear the exams while you are working

6) Thus, if possible take atleast 1 ( better 2) levels while you’re still in college

7) Clearing only 1 level or clearing only 2 levels does not carry any weight.  You have to clear all three levels before you can make the exams work for you.

8) CFA alone will not calapult you to the $100,000  job  99% of the times.

9) It is expensive. Abt $2500 to be precise

10) It will cover all topics in finance, but it is more ‘sellable’ for equity research type of roles

11) it is not a subsitute of FRM ( and vice versa)

12) You’re not going to seem attractive to chicks in a bar only because you hold a charter

13) People don’t get that much impresed that you’re a CFA unless they are CFA level 1 candidates

14) the feeling of passing level 1 is the great, level 2 is good and level 3 is just ok

15) The happiness of passing Level 1 lasts 1 week, level 2 lasts 2 days and level 3 lasts a few hours. ( this may be incorrect for some others )

16) Schweser is the best

17) Study atleast 2 hours everyday

18) start Preparing atleast 4 months before the exam

19) refer to CFAI textbooks only when in need for level 1 and level 3

20) Use CFAI textbooks often in level 2

21) you’ll forget what you studied by the time you complete your course.

22) in View of 21, revise atleast thrice before the exam

23) you mock test scores in Schweser Pro are the best indicators of your expected score

24) Doing Schweser back of chapter problems and doing CFAI past years qns is a very good idea

25) take free CFAI sample exam 3 weeks before the exam

26) take CFA mock exam 10 days before the real exam

27) apply for a 2 week leave before the exam  , well in advance .

28) try to understand the material rather than mug it

29) Ethics is BY FAR the easiest to nail topic in exam ( especially in level 1)

30) take lots of tests

31) If possible, study from Schweser Videos for L2

32) Everyone who studies for atleast 300 hours for L1 shall pass that exam

32) NOT Everyone who studies for  300 hours for L2 shall pass that exam

33) L2 is very difficult. Abt 4 times more difficult than L1

34) If possible, form a study group

35) Don’t start hitting on the girls in the study group. If prone to such activities, study alone

36) Talk to your friends regularly on weekends. take out 1 hour on both days for this purpose. This will ave you from burning out

37) Have a beer when you’re frustated of this F&&&& exam

38) If extremely bored of prepatration, take a weekend off. Go on a trip/ read Calvin & Hobbes/ Gossip with friends. After 1 weeekend, hit the books again. Without fail

39) Don’t let people fool you into thinking that you can pass the exam in 2 weeks. That won’t happen unless you’re John Nash.

40) Join www.analystforum.com

41) It makes immense sense to talk to someone who has cleared your level (recently) before starting actual preparation

42) Don’t be afraid of the numericals. They’re not that difficult

43) for L1 – FSA , ethics are Imp

44) For L3, having a holistic view is important

45) For L2, Everything is important

46) Do not send the picture postcards you received with CFA registration to anyone, that’ll instantly classify you as nerd

47) Its better to complete one book before moving to another one, that way you’ll always have an idea about how much syllabus you’ve covered

48) Once you pass, don’t boast about the CFA program. That’s one of the most stupidest things to do.

49) If you fail once, don’t give up. If you fail twice, continue if situations were outside your control. If you fail thrice, leave it.

50)  Degrees, Education, Charters, Exams are all of zero importance if you do not maintain good relationships with people. That’s the single most important thing that i’ve learnt over the three years in this program

1000 Candles!


mapOk. So it seems that people have seen my website 1000 times since mid-march 2009 (abt 45 days) which does not include my visits. Phew! For someone who writes primarily about his thoughts in Hindi this is a big number. Very surprisingly , last 3 days account for 189 page views (~ 20%)!  Ok, I Admit, I’m gloating 😛

Thanks GG for designing this site, and thank you readers for all your time (even if 5 secs) that you’ve spent reading my monologues. What really surprises me is that people from all 7 continent have visited this site. I never thought someone from Iceland would be interested in what I have to say about my interview experience at Oxford.stats

Anyways, I think I should share with you some stats. Below are the most popular pages, entry links ad recent visior map. None of these are for the entire 1000 views. The map for example shows only the past 50 visitors.

I would really like to know what you liked/disliked about my website. Please feel free to comment. In fact I’d love to hear your opinions on this site/Author, positive or negative..

posted under English | 1 Comment »

Daily Nightly – The Monkees


By sheer chance I noticed what Sahil D Hakim’s status message on Gtalk was. Here was a obscure song called Daily Nightly that he was listening to. I searched the net, and man! It’s Nice. The lyrics are awesome. Psychedelic Rock is not my type of music but this is different.  Listen to it, or just read the words that follow…

( The monkees was a 1960’s band which was ‘pre-fabricated’ to star in a TV series by the same name. Words by Michael Nesmith)

“Darkened rolling figures move through prisms of no colour
hand in hand, they walk the night,
but never know each other.
Passiond’  pastel neon lightslight up the jeweled traveler

who lost in scenes of smoke filled dreams,
Find questions, but no answers.

Startled eyes that sometimes see phantasmagoric splendor
pirouette down palsied paths
wiith pennies for the vendor.
salvations yours for just the time it takes to pay the dancer.

and once again such anxious men
Find questions, but no answers

…. “

Oxford MFE Interview


काफी लोगों ने कहा है की अपना ऑक्सफोर्ड का interview experience कहीं लिख दूं. आप सभी के लिए यहाँ post कर रहा हूँ. क्यूंकि कुछ लोग हिंदी नहीं जानते, सो अंग्रेजी में लिख रहा हूँ.

My MFE (Masters in Financial Economics) interview was scheduled at 9 30 Am on 27 Feb ‘ 09. As this was a telephonic format, i had to call an international Number at 3 PM IST. I booked a conference room in my company and called Mr Alan Morrison(AM), My interviewer, at 5 mins to 3.

Me-> can I speak to prof Morrison?
AM-> Hello, i guess you’re calling for an MFE interview. Ok, Tell me why you want to join oxford.

AM-> Why MFE

AM-> Tell me about securitization market in India
I told him abt the dynamics, both present and past

AM-> who are the players?
Me- MFs, LIC, Banks Etc

AM-> why do you securitize?
Me-> profit/CAPAD/Liquidity

AM -> Compare US and Indian MBS/ABS
Me-> told abt structures, AAA nature, wat gets sold etc

AM-> WHy do people buy these PTC in India
ME-> told good return, no default. AM seemed interested

AM-> Can US Subprime happen in India?
me-> No.OFS not present. CDO square not present

AM-> Tell me abt pricing of ABS
Me-> Risk Free+ premiums

AM-> OK, you have done MBA.tell me about Miller modigillani propositions.
me-> told him abt prop 1 and prop 2

AM-> connect Miller modigillani proposition 2 with Securitization market i India?
Me-> Stupified. Didn’t get the question.

AM-> Tell me why is a 300 bips spread between AAA and AAA(so) ?
me-> liquidity premium

AM-> Thanks, Any questions?
Me-> scholarship?
Me-> why has TARP sometimes given only $ 1 as aid to some banks?

AM-> Responded.
AM-> Thanks for calling us, expect result on 27 march.

Me- Thanks.

Interview lasted for about 15 mins. Overall it was OK. No cross questioning.It was much more technical than I had expected. I was satisfied, don’t know what will happen although

So how’s Investment banking?


“so how’s IB going for ya?”, asks one of my Juniors at school. That makes me think. And that makes me blog :)

Its not that IB image that people usually associate with. Not only for my group but also for the other verticals like M&A & OAG , life’s very very different from the typical image that’s fed to callow minds. We do NOT wear ties/suits, we do NOT work 16 hours a day, People are NOT mean (they’re nice actually), i have windows 2000 on my PC, Not every group has MS office installed(they work with OpenOffice) and most of the time goes for regular maintenance work. May be because its the worst time for IB, i dont know. I think a reality check is necessary for anybody aiming at a career in IB.

Whatever be the current scenario, I’m really happy with my Boss, Collegues and others at my workplace. My team is extremely supportive and well knit. We’re a group of 6+1 people, (used to be 9+1 — 3 months back) and anybody can talk to anybody abt anything. Whenever i am in doubt, i can bug Vittal, Vinay,Lale or others – all who shall listen and genuinely try to help me out. I really don’t know how many times do i daily seek lale’s comments. At the same time i can share all jokes with Jha sahab & Ami. The only catch is that most of the time I’m the joke, something that i’ve got used to and don’t feel bad about at all.

— had written a big post but nt disconnected and now am too tired to type it again– good night zzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzz

i’m happy!


I’m happy, really happy after a long time – and it isn’t the smirnoff, its my heart that makes this statement.

“I’m mesmerized in every way,
you keep me in a state of daze,
and i soar like a bird in the wind
oh i glide as if flying through heaven.
Sugar you make my soul complete,
Rapture tastes so sweet!!!!”
~ rapture , lio

posted under English, present | 1 Comment »

Meow Mumbai!!


“Meow Mumbai!! Welcome to the best radio station in Mumbai! Blah blah!! Blah blah! Contest …23456789….blah blah …Winner….blah blah..win…see movie…blah blah…23456789”
Moi dozes off to sleep in a auto playing a radio channel . We are stuck between a deluge of cars crawling on potholes, something that is alleged to be the Western Highway between Vile Parle and BKC. Amongst the blaring horns at 140 decibel, it’s miraculous that I can still hear the radio. (1st Note to self: Kudos to my excellent auditory nerve! Bravo!!)
Radio, “SO today we are playing the weirdest, sweetest Pet name contest at Meow Mumbai! If your Girlfriend calls you by an odd name, call us at 23456789 and win exxxxxiting prizes…blah blah..blah blah…win…contest…prize…23456789…blah blah”
“Oh! B*** C*** kya hero ban raha hai kya? M*C**** Doon kya kharcha paani?” My Friendly Auto driver says to his counterpart who tries to overtake our Ferrari.
Meanwhile the Radio goes on, “call us at 23456789 and tell us….Oh we already have a caller…Yes wat’s your name?”
Caller, “Hi I’m Jignesh!”
Radio, “Not Hello Jignesh, We say ‘Meow’ on our station! Is this your first call to our Meow Mumbai station?
Jignesh Bhai, “Uh, Yes…”
Radio, “Oh! This calls for a celebration!!”
(A jingle is played that starts off on a high pitch screech and finally ends with a meeeeooooowwww , meow)
Jignesh Bhai (getting emotional), “Oh that’s so sweet! So nice of you!!”
Yup, So sweet that even the amla chooran in my mouth feels like saccharine. What bullshit. (2nd Note to self: Get some more chooran from Ajmer before supplies run out)
Radio, “So what does your GF call you Jignesh Bhai?”
Jignesh Bhai, “She calls me dolly…”
Radio cutting off in mid sentence, “oh hahahaha that’s so funny, She calls you by a girl name,Hahahaha”
Me-> Snicker, Snicker (3rd note to self: Get those wonderful snicker chocolates)
Jignesh Bhai (adding emphatically), “no no, actually the real reason that I find it funny is bec…”
Radio interrupting again, “oh please tell us fast Jignesh, our meow Mumbaikars are all dying to hear the truth.”
Methinks how great it would be if the host of this show becomes pyara to allah.
Jignesh Bhai, “because even my dog’s name is Dolly. She finds it funny for some reason but my mom despises her for this”
Radio goes silent for five seconds. That would have cost them at least 20,000 in Advertising Revenues, I calculate. I also have time to calculate that my auto fare is increasing at quite an unusual rate. But that is quite usual in Mumbai.
Radio, “that’s the most funny thing I’ve heard hahahaha…. Keep us calling on 23456789 …blah blah…blah …prizes…contest…blah blah..23456789”
(Final Note to self: Buy an Ipod. It’s worth it)

posted under English, Humor | 1 Comment »

“The Art of saying Goodbye”


♂ “Bye”
♀ “What’s that?”
♂ “Kya ‘what’s that?’”
♀ “I mean, that’s not the way to say goodbye!”
♂ “Really? Then what is?”
♀ “You first make a context, then taper off the conversation, and finally say ‘bye’ as a fitting finish”
♂ “Duh??”
♀ “Arre, look at me. I ask how’s the weather, then I talk about….”
♂ (Interrupting) “Hey wait a minute! We already discussed about the weather in Mumbai”
♀ (Gives me an exasperated sigh) “OK. So talk about a movie, about parents, about a collegue”
♂ “There is no interesting Hindi movie going on, nothing happens in my parents lives, My dog is too dumb to be talked about & you know how bad I am at gossiping about people”
♀ “your IQ might be 170, but your EQ is surely in single digit”
♂ “Umm… I don’t know”
♀ “You’re Stupid. Chow!”
♂ “that’s ‘Chow’ all right but that isn’t Ciao.”
♀ “what do u mean its chow but not chow”
♂ “I mean its C-I-A-O but pronounced as Chow, Italian you know”
♀ (blushes) “oh! hi hi …you know my spellings na”
♂ “by my superior IQ I have just calculated that this phone call has already costed you Rs 43 and if we didn’t have this last piece of conversation, you would have saved Rs 5..”
♀ “click”
(call ended)
♂ (To myself) “That’s the secret of the art of saying goodbye”

The Bike, the Train and the Dog.


At precisely 3 in the night on 4th May 08, I kick-kick-kick-kick (…10times) started my bike to reach New Delhi Railway station by 4 in the morning. The objective was simple; I had made up my mind to leave Delhi for good and was carrying this last token of 200 Kgs to अजमेर . And inspired by the TV serial “Prison Break” I decided to take the motorcycle to अजमेर without the help of any agent and without giving even a rupee of bribe.
So I reached the station at 4 AM and was quite surprised to find it buzzing with activity even at that odd time. I had already come to this place a day before to know the formalities to be done for taking the bike along in शताब्दी Express. The first step was to get it packed so I thought to search for some worker on platform # 12. One accosted me even before I could start. He asked 150 Rs for the work. I’m not good at bargaining so told him 120 and not a paisa more. He was visibly excited by this offer and I got that feeling ki I-lost-in-this-bargain-game-even-though-I-won. Anyways, considering the odd time I thought कि चलता ही . This guy, a certain A K Jha from पटना बिहार , had done a good job and made my bike ready, along with a number place by 4 30 AM.
At almost the same moment, a Labrador also reached platform number 12. He was destined for Chandigarh and would travel by Chandigarh Shatabdi express. Now every parcel that goes in luggage van has to be packed and labeled. While I was lucky to find a porter who had the material (used clothes and boris) for my Pulsar, no one could find a suitable material for the dog, who looked a bit perplexed. So they decided to keep him free of shackles but a name plate was assigned to him which was promptly hung on his neck. My bike’s name plate read,” CH 03 Q 8770 Ajmer शताब्दी , from NDLS to AII” . His read, “HARDY, Dog, चंडीगढ़ Shatabdi, from NDLS to CHD”.
Anyways my train was supposed to leave at 6 10 Am. I was quite confident to catch my train in time and it seemed that Hardy’s assistant was sure too. I’m not very sure if Hardy had a understanding of the events, but that’s a different matter.
So we were supposed to meet a certain ‘Babu’ to get our parcels ( read bike and dog) registered. In the parcel office they directed us to go to platform 13’s end point to meet the babu. We were assured that in a jiffy our work shall be done. So happily I set out for the labyrinth of platforms to meet a certain Mr उपेन्द्र बाबु . Hardy and his assistant were also in the same boat. The three of us (and my bike as well) made our way to the end of the maze only to find another बाबु sleeping. He directed us back to the parcel office as Mr उपेन्द्र had still not arrived, so what if it was 5 15 Am and he was supposed to be here by 4 15. I cursed the system and went back in the Labyrinth. We found Mr. उपेन्द्र at the parcel office and requested him to please book the parcels – Pulsar and Hardy the dog.
Hardy was not in a good mod after an early morning walk of 5 Kms. Even I was not in a good mood because of the same reason. While Hardy was looking at the hullabaloo at station with big sad eyes, I was looking at Mr. Upendra with my 4 eyes. Upendra asked me to fill up a form which I promptly did. He pointed out some mistakes which I corrected. He again pointed mistakes, I again rectified them. This went on some more times. By the time he was done with finding mistakes, it was 5 45 Am and my pocket was lighter by 495 Rs. I really really wished that if Hardy bit him now; how great it would be. After having this sadistic early morning dream I realized that my train was to leave in 20 minutes.
In the meantime Hardy was supposed to be weighted. His assistant took him to a weighing machine. Since we were now at the platform, only a coin operated one was available. Hardy was made to sit on it. It was ensured that all four paws were on the weighing scale. The Machine made a lot of ruckus that startled Hardy who tried to flee. But you know, no one could escape Mr Upendra’s पारखी eyes (Big brother is watching you). He made hardy sit straight on the scale and took his weight again. The weight ticket had 35 Kg printed on one side and मल्लिका शेरावत ’s 100 DPI low quality Image on the other side. I’m not sure which side of the ticket made Mr. Upendra smile. Anyways all said and done, I and Hardy departed our separate ways.
And in case you wondered, neither Hardy’s assistant or I, paid any bribes J
“Packing the bike – 120 RS
Parcel Wage — 495 RS
Waking 3 in the morning + walking 5 kms on station with a bike + meeting Hardy – Priceless
There are some things money can’t buy, for others MasterCard certainly won’t work at the New Delhi Railway Station”

posted under English, Humor | 3 Comments »

Stay Hungry, Stay Foolish


RG asked me a couple of days back,” How come you know so much about so many things? How come your GK is good and how come you have some cogent points on so many diverse topics?”
Even I thought about the issue, and then I traced myself to this …

When I was 14 years old, a question that had been in my mind since I read about human life in class 2 got finally answered। I always wondered,” how are humans different from animals? We both are just multicellular organisms who have the same sensations and physical needs. We both are driven by same desires of food, water, air & sexual needs. We both are afraid of death and pain. We have everything common, except that probably Homo Sapiens are a more sophisticated form of life. So are we no different from animals at all?” I remember asking mummy the same question. She said that humans are humans and animals are animals. She said that they are different but her answer couldn’t satisfy me.

After thinking about the issue at various levels of consciousness, I arrived at the same conclusion that Descartes did in the 17th century. Cogito, Ergo Sum. Obviously I was blissfully unaware of the exact meaning and originator of the phrase at that time. However I realized that the ‘desire to learn, the wish to improve and the zeal to know’ are the central reason that humans are different from animals. And I think that when I was in my early teens, this answer dictated the manner in which I saw education ad learning. I think this, coupled with another incident, transformed me from a back bencher and last rankers in school to the topper in board exams. (The first time that I stood first or even amongst the top 5 in class was in boards exams, 1999)
The principle was simple। I decided that I shall leave no stone unturned in the persual of education. I wanted to know more about this world. About everything. I wanted to know about science. How the solar system was created? How does the human body work? How are colors created? I wanted to know about history. How are nations made? Why does a country succeed or fail? Who created the beautiful monuments? Who went to war with whom? I wanted to know about philosophy. About relations, about literature, about each and every damn idea, tangible/intangible thing. And to accomplish this I started reading. I read EVERYTHING. From comics to newspapers to hand outs to posters on walls to even government reports and legal cases files (in revenue board’s library). And still I wanted to read more.

People would get bored in engineering classes. They would say,” क्या फालतू कि चीज़ है engineering? कितनी boring है !” Sometimes I found things tough (GD/AECD) but NEVER did I found them boring। I used to ask each and every doubt that crossed my mind in class, however Naïve or foolish it might sound to others। I participated in almost all extra curricular activities. I made innumerate friends. I tasted wine from so so many cups.

Then I came to MBA। Those classes that interested me, I attended them by sitting on the first bench. And so many things interested me. I liked statistics, QMDM, Economics, Saikat’s Marketing, ITO, and ITL amongst others. And then when I had finished with them, I would sit with the juniors to attend their courses. I even took some marketing classes. None of them gave me any marks. None of them show on my mark sheet. But I think in the persual of knowledge, I learnt even more.

My Montage (people write things about their classmates at the end of MBA course) says, “No one knows what he wants. Not he and not even God. Believes in networking only with great people”. I smile. Probably only I amongst my classmates know what I want, right from the time when I was 14 years old.

My article in Business Standard & Rediff Money, 25th December 2007




Varun Agrawal: The market`s coming of age
Varun Agrawal / New Delhi December 25, 2007

Sebi’s intention of introducing a volatility index (V-I) and derivatives based on it for Indian markets is a welcome move.The Rammohan Rao committee’s proposed V-I, among other things, signifies the financial sector’s coming of age.
India’s futures and options market has seen a boom in the past five years. While a total of only 176,000 index put/call options worth Rs 3,800 crore (Rs 38 billion) were traded on the NSE in 2001-02, those numbers have skyrocketed to 25 million and Rs 7,92,000 crore (Rs 7920 billion) respectively, in 2006-07. Similarly, the total trading volume in NSE options has jumped from a paltry $555 million in 2000-01 to $1.7 trillion in 2006-07. That’s a neck-breaking 214 per cent compounded growth rate y-o-y. With such growth in volumes, the time is ripe to introduce long-awaited new products.
The V-I will measure the market’s expectation of Nifty/Sensex volatility over the coming month (30-day period). Since 1993, VIX, the first volatility index introduced by the Chicago Board Options Exchange (CBOE), has been a huge hit. A number of other exchanges around the world have also introduced some mutation of it and have had the same experience.
The V-I will help Indian markets in more ways than one.
First, it will be the most direct measure of the increasing market volatility and will thus be helpful in the pricing of options. Second, this measurement will help investors hedge and speculate over the very property of volatility. Third, its input will enhance better prediction by Value at Risk (VaR) and other risk management models. Fourth, it will reduce transaction costs for betting on volatility because the speculator will have to buy only one VIX derivative, instead of at least two for constructing strangle/straddles. Fifth, it will encourage market participants to move ‘onshore’ instead of playing in private offshore arenas.
But even beyond these uses, it sends a very important signal worldwide, that India is ready to move to the next level of financial maturity. While our capital markets are very well-developed (the BSE is the world’s largest in terms of the number of scrips listed, while the NSE is the world’s largest by stock futures trading volume), there is a dearth of modern financial products. Sebi’s wish to introduce seven new products including V-I is a well-thought out decision to break out of the shackles.
According to recent news reports, India Index Services & Products Ltd (IISL), a joint venture between CRISIL and NSE, has expressed a desire to be a leading player for devising the index. It is likely to do so because of its experience in this space.
However, it’s not that the rollover will be smooth. There are certain unique issues that will have to be tackled. The single biggest problem in devising the index will be liquidity concerns. Indian derivative markets are still in the budding stage. While the number of puts and calls traded on the index has risen significantly, their depth and liquidity is a major concern. All this might lead to ‘holes’ while constructing the proposed volatility index.
According to my preliminary research, in all likelihood, we’ll follow the old VIX methodology for calculating V-I. The new VIX methodology might be unsuitable for calculating the Indian volatility index because options on Nifty, though aplenty at at-the-money strike, show an erratic behaviour for out-of-money and in-the-money strikes. Thus, a better and more practical method would be to go for the old VIX methodology which uses eight at-the-money options. These are relatively easily available and are more traded than their counterparts.

The first to cash in on opportunities in new derivative products in India are large institutional players who have already tried their hands at similar products in other markets, like the CBOE, NYSE or LME. The situation might not be any different here. The first to jump on the bandwagon would be foreign banks and other large institutional players. Retail investors will be the last to try their hands at V-I futures and options because of the classic risk-averse mentality. They are likely to wait and see what other participants are doing before giving it a shot. That said, even the average retail investor is expected to use the V-I as an index to gauge where the market is going and use the insights in buying options on other securities and shares.

One of the problems cited in Mumbai’s way to becoming an IFC is the lack of innovative financial products. While the V-I is not the panacea for all financial problems, it certainly is a very good indicator of Sebi’s long-term reforms to align India with global best practices and vision.

The writer, a student at New Delhi’s Indian Institute of Foreign Trade, can be reached at cfa.varun@gmail.com

People who impress me at IIFT


Students –

1) Rahul Newar – The true bond.
2) Neelesh sachdeva – The only person who has everything that i’m impressed by. Studies, Intelligence, People skills, Carefree, Down to earth & helpful
3) Naval Goel – The only person who knows finance in IIFT. The only person who is unaffected by what people say. The only person whose transformation impresses & inspires me.
4) Chango – He’s Smart, he’s ambitious , he’s pragmatic & he networks like anything. If he’s your friend, you know he’ll be there when you need him.

Professors –

1) Deepak Chawla – for developing a passion for Stats in me.
2) P. Bhaumik – The only teacher who taught me ‘why’ of mathematics. The only teacher who instilled confidence in me that I too can understand mathematics.The only teacher who made me believe in my intellectual capabilities.

Administration –

1) Gaurav Gulati – For proving that rules are meant to help you, not hinder.

Support Staff

1) Ramnivas Ji – for having a smile on his face even while dealing with so many irritating situations.

Placements 2008 : A make or break thing?


Hari told me today that placements are very important because they will determine where we’ll finally end up in our lives and are thus a make or break thing.

I don’t think so. Looking back at my short 24 yr old life, I think that at each point there were aways some pressing problems which we thought were make or break. Remember the class X board? or class XII ones? or some exams at resonance or even IIT JEE? They all were damn impat that time but now i don’t think so. there are new opportunities today which have taken that mindspace.

The leitmotif of make or break still exists although. And it always will. For remember there is no true happiness ,only ‘In pursuit of happiness’
PS : Congrats Ruhani ! :)

CFA Experience – 3 June 2007


Ok. So I came all the way back from Delhi to take the CFA exam in Bombay on June 3, 2007. so what if the useless trip cost me 12,000 bucks. It was well worth the efforts, time and money…. Or was it?

Ummm… may be not. this exam was different. .. Chalo let me start from the beginning

I landed at Mumbai airport after flying through beautiful clouds aboard an Indian airlines flight. People say that their service is poor; however it was much better than Go air. Anyways, I had a window seat and for the first time was in an airplane while being in midst of a storm. The plane was shaking violently and was bumping too… seemed more of being in a bus from Kota to Ajmer rather than in a plane from del to bom.

Anyways, after a 45 min delay I landed at Mumbai airport at about 8 PM. I had already made my boarding arrangements at 3 places. So I went to NITIE because it was closest to the test centre at Thakur Engg college at Kandivili. I got a room on 7th floor, number 707. it seemed as if the airplane thing was just not leaving me. There the room was in a mess and no pillows or bed sheets were provided. So I borrowed a bed sheet from shriharsha which I eventually used as a pillow because I didn’t want the sleep to be a pain in the neck (pun intended)

When I landed in NITIE, Chandan told me that PPO decision is due on Tuesday. Now I already know what skimpy chance do I have at a PPO so it didn’t bother me much. However there was, and is, a small feeling that ….. Chalo, let’s leave that for a moment.

So I borrowed an alarm clock. I set multiple alarms just to make sure that I don’t forget to wake up in the morning. . I studied a bit of GIPS and asset valuation before I slept at 11 30.

I woke up at 5 30 AM. But then I thought “ki agar life mein neend nahi poori ki to kya kiya?”. So I slept for an hour more and woke up at 6 30 AM out of sheer tension. Then quickly got ready and was set to leave for the exam.

A break here— at this point I must state that NITIE campus is very beautiful. I liked it very much, about the same as PEC.

Haan to as I was saying, when I was going out of the hostel I found a few guys all ready like me. I guessed immediately that they too were CFA candidates. Since there was only one centre at Bombay, my baniya buddhi thought it better to share an auto (read cut my operating expenses by half). So I sat with this padhakoo looking guy. The route from NITIE to kandivili was very beautiful. It was a cloudy day and that really cheered me up. In fact it was so beautiful that I really had a doubt that this place was in Bombay. Chalo koi na, I finally reached thakur’s at about 7 50 AM.

There were lots of people at the centre. Around 2000 may be. There were a quite a few sexy looking chicks too, which busted my myth of finance being a male dominated area.

Jo bhi ho, the centre was very well managed. Invigilators were wearing a seemingly bulletproof yellow top up shirt which reminded me of a parrot. I asked one of them why was it like that and she told me it’s CFA policy. I though that the CFA institute makes people work like an ass and look like a parrot… what are they somehow affiliated to PeTA? But then I just shrugged off the feeling and continued my observations at the firagi test centre. There were big posters of Cell phones not allowed and Laptops/ PC’s not allowed all over the place. They were printed on pretty decent paper and I wondered how much would have this bullshit cost them. But with all that $845 fees, they can spend money on things like that I guess.

So then I went inside the centre where they repeatedly checked my hall ticket and Passport. They’re pretty touchy on these issues yaar. So then they gave us a very well printed exam booklet and OMR sheet and read the instructions aloud. The test began at sharp 9 AM according to the 30 Rs digital ‘hello kitty’ watch that I purchased from Dwarka.

I started with Portfolio Mgmt . there were 6 qns and I did not know answer to 1. CML and SML were heavily tested material. I then moved to asset valuation. But I found that tough and in the mid section went to economics which I again found tough. There were some qns on monetary policy effects on currency appreciation that I’m sure I did bad in. I next moved to Quant which was ok types and to Ethics which were fine. Then I went back to asset valuation before finally doing Financial statement analysis, which as again OK.
So in essence, asset valuation was tough and other sections were fine… but I din’t have that ‘phod diya’ feeling in AM test.

BUT I finished the test 1hour before .

Then there was a break for 2 hours where I had a very oily chola bhatura and a fag. This guy from ICFAI was also smoking and I cursed his institute a bit. He was curious about IIFT and I gave him general gyaan.

I met a few of my college seniors also during the exam

Then came the afternoon session.

This section was easier. I started with portfolio mgmt again which was just OK types. Lots of CML/SML qns again. Then I moved to asset valuation which I found easy. As I was a bit confidant, I moved to FSA which again was easy. Nest I went to Economics which was cool . Then was Quant which I think I cracked. Last was ethich where again I did well.
Overall paper was easy But tricky. Also lots of ‘ratta’ is required. Theory is big time important. Even quant had theory in it.

So in essence, AM was bad and PM was good. However, because AM was Quite bad, I’m 80% sure I’ll pass. Ok may be 90% but definitely not 100%

Out of 240 qns I did not know/got confused in 54 qns.

Assuming I knew the answers at this much correct of level, my score is

70%level 75%level 80% level 83%level 85% level
sure 186 130.2 139.5 148.8 154.38 158.1
unsure 54 13.5 13.5 13.5 13.5 13.5
Total 143.7 153 162.3 167.88 171.6
% 59.875 63.75 67.625 69.95 71.5

at most I can get 74% approx

Most probably I’ll get 68% types. So that’s it. I’m borderline case in this exam

The Invitation that never was – 15 May 2007


“A walk in the village of Gularbhoj, Uttaranchal”
(1 weekend +fri/mon Between 15-30 june,2007)

A 3/ 4 day rejuvenation camp in company of PEC friends

Are you, yes you: I mean the guy reading this mail, tired of a boring stay at NCR?
Are you frustrated with your routine ?
Do you feel that your company considers you as just an extension of the computer?
Or do you remember the bygones?
Or do you miss Varun Agrawal(not agarwal/not aggarwal)’s company?
Or do you think that you require a break from this !@#$ life of yours??
Or ummm…am running out of ideas..just substitute one here.

If yes!!!

Then we have got the perfect plan for you!!!

Join us at the special village tour at village gularbhoj, District Udham singh nagar, Uttaranchal

Just 6 hours from Delhi by bus (200 KMS)

Exclusivity :

  • no peeping/irritating fellow travelers
  • Good-Old-days feeling
  • Limited seats ( only PEC- electrical 2006 friends of 02459 eligible)
  • Exclusive friend list
    Sharma Ji (the boss)
    GG : the himesh Reshamiya
    RG: the kamaal friend
    Raman Arya & his brother : His excellancy, The prince(s) of Narwana
    Avneet : our gumshuda friend
    Bajad: does he need an introduction??
    Special Attraction : BBBBBUUUUDDDDYYYYYY ( Er Parmeet Singh)
    ( the I’m-coming-on-so – u – better-get-d-party-started Sensation!!!)
  • A walk in the village bazaar
  • A ride in tractor
  • A ‘swim’ in the tube well
  • A picnic on the river
  • A walk on the dam
  • A trip to Nainital
  • Roaming on Nainital streets
  • (if possible) Adventure sports in Rishikesh
  • Meeting with Mr Varun Agrawal(not agarwal/not aggarwal)’s grandmother who knows all
  • the guests.( especially Navu & Bajad)
  • Ghar ka khaana
  • Walk on village streets that lead to nowhere
  • Ride in the Indian railways amidst the last remains of a jungle
  • Bajad & boss’s witty remarks
  • Varun Agrawal’s (not agarwal/not aggarwal) PJ’s
  • Kite flying
  • Watching the 1000’s of firefly(Jugnu)* …..(subject to availability)
  • Star Gazing— Real stars,not city lights/pg 3 people
  • Playing with the dog if he doesn’t bite you
  • Etc etc etc

    However please note: Following activities are banned!!!!!

    · Being in a sullen mood
    · Talking about IT life
    · Not mixing with other guests
    · not being cheerful
    · PEC-LANGUAGE ( YOU KNOW WHAT I MEAN *&@#) in village


    Varun Agrawal
    Mumbai contact number : 9833847216

Summer Blues 18 May 2007


Whoa! Life has changed so much after my guide returned. Suddenly I find myself amidst loads of work. I have to work till 7:30 , 6 days a week.
Apparently my guide got a shouting from the bosses in Europe over the plans which he had. My boss’s boss was also telling him, “ Your plans are bullshit … absolute bullshit Doc” . Now that he has to perform, he has told me to buckle up. Now my project will involve loads of traveling and ‘sir-khapai’. After all He has to deliver, and I have to do the work. How logical.

So now here I am, enroute my way to Ambala & Solan. Trying to figure out all about mushrooms. Reminds me of that sub-edible mushroom-mutter that we used to get in PEC.. yaad hai? Those were the days when we would just go to mezbaan-11 and dine to our hearts content in 70 rupees. In Bombay saala a ‘bhutta’ costs 25/- . washing a shirt costs 15/- . washing a pant costs 25/-. 1 dozen of mangoes cost 250 Rs et al.

And amidst all this workload is the CFA exam on june 3. 25 days more. And now I’m ready to press the panic button. Thank god that I have completed the syllabus so I know that I’ll be able to revise it. Had I not, would have been dead turkey by now.

ज़रा हट के, ज़रा बच के 8 May 2007


The fact that I’m writing this piece proves I have been able to survive the 89% humidity levels and the rotten-fish-stench of the Bombay climate. Thank you god that you had sent me to Kota where I was accustomed to all un-inhabitable conditions that humans could stand and am reaping(read sweating) that benefit now.

My project in company is in a mess. My guide has gone to EU to negotiate business while I am left here trying to figure out some way to supplement Unilever’s coffers with yet more riches. My work involves sourcing agricultural raw materials for Unilever worldwide from India. Am working on saffron & Walnuts now and might have to travel to Kashmir for them. After all 98% of these products are in Kashmir. To be specific, 100% of saffron is in pulwama district and 98% walnuts are in Anantnag & Doda district. I have stated to appreciate the stereotypical American Doper’s comment, “Peace man!!”
Anyways, now that I have merrily wasted my time(emptied the coffee machine/surfed the internet/eating Parle G) in office thinking about ‘innovative’ ideas to save moolah on RM, I now dread what if my guide , on coming back from the EU trip, asks what Bajad’s boss asked him, “sow(show) me the money, sow me the money!”
So one day I went to Bandra Bandstand. At 8 PM when I was going there, a policewallah stopped me and asked, “ Where is the girl?”. I answered that I don’t have a girl. At this he replied that I’m not allowed to visit the beach if I don’t have a ‘ladki’.. WTF..man I’m moving towards another spell of depression……..

My first Post


Decadence is setting in. My ideas & ethics are dying and am everyday getting more and more materialistic.

A number of thoghts cross my mind everyday. This is an attempt to word my emotions on a gamut of things.

If you’re here to find some fun stuff, you’ll be dissapointed. This is meant to be more of a chronicle rather than an intellectual/entertainment portal!

However, if you’re here to see what have i been up to; you’re more than welcome.

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