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 …..

याद आया

पिछली बारिश में धीमे भीगना याद आया,
तेरे साथ New York की सड़कों पर चलना याद आया.
हवा से बात करती मेरी पुरानी गाडी,
और तेरी जुल्फों का खुलना याद आया.
Central Park में बैठे हम और तुम,
पीछे Tulips का खिलना याद आया.
कतील शिफाई से Walt Whitman तलक,
तेरी खूबसूरती, तेरा मीठा बोलना याद आया .
इन्द्रधनुष में समायें हैं मदहोशी के सात रंग,
आज जो सोचा तेरे बारे, तो एक एक याद आया.
– Boston, 11 August 2012

Not written about anyone, Art for Art’s sake.

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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.

अच्छा और बुरा


क्या अच्छा है, क्या बुरा? आजीवन सोचता रहूँ तब भी किसी नतीजे पे नहीं आ सकता. जैसे की मेरे घर के बाहर लगा maple का पेड़. जब कोई interview call आती है और मेरे पैरों में उछाल होता है, तब वो कितना प्यारा दीखता है. जब कोई मुझे नकारता है और मैं ज़मीन में गढ़ा जाता हूँ, तब वो कैसा मरणासन्न लगता है. पेड़ तो पेड़ है. autumn तो autumn ही है. columbia university तो columbia university ही है. मैं भी वोही का वोही हूँ.

नज़रों में जरूर फर्क है…

Protected: Of Job hunting and the stuff that comes with it.


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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.

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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 ॥

नहीं आयीं तुम


नहीं आयीं तुम,

आज फिर से,
न कुछ लिखा ,
न कुछ बताया.
सब मन में छुपाया.
हे मेरी तुम,
क्यूँ हो ये राज़,
तुम्हारे मेरे बीच,
क्यों हो ये संबंध,
कडवे, संदेह से सींच?
* “हे मेरी तुम” केदार की अनेक रचनाओ का नाम है.

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

कुंवर नारायण – घर पहुंचना


( As usual, this poem has been taken from Kavitakosh )

Trains entice me. And today, while coming back from wall street I was indeed thinking about how to reach home as quickly as possible.. Probably catch a 2 to 96th Street and then a 1 to 125th Street. The question is : what if journey is staid, and rest is transient? Amazing thought by Kunwar Narayan. Highly Recommended!

हम सब एक सीधी ट्रेन पकड़ कर
अपने अपने घर पहुँचना चाहते

हम सब ट्रेनें बदलने की
झंझटों से बचना चाहते

हम सब चाहते एक चरम यात्रा
और एक परम धाम

हम सोच लेते कि यात्राएँ दुखद हैं
और घर उनसे मुक्ति

सचाई यूँ भी हो सकती है
कि यात्रा एक अवसर हो
और घर एक संभावना

ट्रेनें बदलना
विचार बदलने की तरह हो
और हम सब जब जहाँ जिनके बीच हों
वही हो



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.

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