Saturday, October 31, 2009

Farming on Farmville

Sample this: A Lonely Pink Cow strayed into my farm- Would you like to adopt it?

Comment | Like| Adopt the Cow

Somebody was farming when a sad, Lost Turtle wandered onto their farm in Farmville. This little guy was running a race and lost his way. None of his friends are anywhere to be found. He feels very sad and could use a new home

There were cows, black sheep, ugly ducklings, lonely brown cows. People were getting weird coloured ribbons- Farming architects, somebody was movin’ up Farmville. All of them had one option- Play Farmville Now!

My initial reactions to these were – What the Hell! Jobless buggers with absolutely nothing to and they’re “farming”. How stupid! Who wants to indulge in such a mindless activity of farming- Blah! It’s boring. And one day- there was a corporate finance class and a test in international business post lunch. I logged into Facebook out of sheer boredom.

.. And I have been farming ever since. 10 days – 51,000 coins, 4970-XP, 19-FV Cash, Level 15 ! Not bad eh? :P

I had no idea, I’d become such an addict, I’m not yet that oh-my-god Farmville addict, I’m that- let me see if my crops have grown addict. I planted a few raspberries and forgot all about them, by the time I came back home from the gym, they were all wilted.

I never knew I’d come to the level of discussing farming with people- I get tips on how to grow my crops- how to gain XP, sending gifts across. People ask me “how is your farm and restaurant doing”. I inform my friends that I fertilized their crops and ask them to return the favour. I add neighbors and intend to add my junior’s sister and all her friends because I need more neighbors.

Messages like the following have become commonplace – Hey Sandhya! Raccoons- Ransacking my farm, can you shoo them away? Do you see these Leaves, will you please Rake them up for me? These Crows are eating my crops, can you shoo them away? These Foxes are scaring my animals- this is in case of farms where there are no animals too. These Gophers are Munching on my crops. Please clear the weeds. I know it’s mindless, and yet I perform these activities with great diligence.

Here is a chronicle of my Farming activities:

  • I log into FB at 9 every night, and have a look at all my gifts for the day. I set them on my field and make sure I harvest my crops.
  • I plant crops which can be harvested in a day or two. The harvest in 2hrs raspberries, 4hrs strawberries, and 6hrs Aloe Vera don’t attract me.
  • I fertilize my friend’s crops everyday to gain coins and XP, and publish them on my homepage.
  • I’ve expanded my farm twice in the last ten days.
  • I look at my friend’s farms for planning initiatives- I see how they’ve arranged their crops and their animals and try to incorporate them into mine.
  • I make very important capital budgeting decisions like- should I expand my farm now or buy new grains, should I buy hay bales to increase my XP and move up to the next level? Do I have enough cash to invest in a dairy farm – can I shell out 10000 counts and still stay afloat? What’s the whole point in buying lanterns when I already have two on my farm?
  • I buy fences and hay bales when I have too many coins and just need a few XPs to get to the next level.
  • I wonder if I should buy too many trees and animals. I have 8 horses, 8 sheep, 8 cows – includes 2 brown cows and one pink cow. 3 ducks, 1 chicken, 2 turtles (lonely things which lost a race, and landed in my space), 1 pig, 3 goats and 1 ugly duckling which just became a beautiful swan!
  • There are space constraints and my plants are all placed chock-a-block. I’ve been planting daffodils, rice, cotton, wheat, soy beans, bell peppers, peppers, squash and rice. I intend to plant Pineapples and red tulips after my current batch of daffodils are harvested.
  • I have a whole bunch of trees, I don’t know their names- I’ve bought two trees in the last 10 days, and the rest have all been gifts by friends.
  • 1 picnic set, 2 wells, 1 butter churn, one farm-wagon, one white stool. I plan to buy a small pond, water trough and a feed trough.
  • My farm needs some serious farm planning. I have to allocate a separate space for the animals and the trees, push them all to one nice corner- give them a fence and keep them happy.


I never knew I’d become a certified farmer :D

And here is the proof:

A friend who wanted me to proof read his doc, pinged on FB- I said wait, give me two mins. He: You can't be busy, you are on FB. Me: Dude! Wait, I'm farming :D

A lot of my non-farmer friends have been furious at my farming activities; eg: I asked for Gitu’s laptop, Gitu says- “Sandy, you are not signing into Farmville ok?” , Neesu-“You too?, what do you see in such a stupid game” LOL

Ok folks, it’s just a phase- I’ll be out of it in a while. :P

Until then,

Signing off,


Architect Farmer :D

Sunday, October 25, 2009

MBA In A Nutshell

It was one of those, awfully boring days.  Gitu and I had decided to do some 'group study' of economics, and like always nothing worth mentioning was getting into our heads. Economics isn't a boring subject, but it can get really boring when it's 2 in the afternoon, all you want to do is sleep.
Hey! This post isn't about economics, so don't close the window. Economics gave way to food, and food to the lack of it in our block. Voilà! An idea struck- Why can't we set up the stores in our block? Good idea, right? Trust me, it was a great idea, and the Big Boss of the department, gave us the nod- Thus SSN SoMCA stores was born!
All brilliant ideas, take time before their manifestation, and ours took a fairly long time to go on the floors. And it did on- One fine august day, it really was an 'august' day. We re-opened the stores. The place which was once the stores-then became the coffee shop had now become the stores again! The stocks arrived, and it was open to public. We've been feeding hungry tummies since then. We started functioning on a non-profit basis, it dint deter us though. Every day at 8, we opened the doors, sold out coffee, tea, unhealthy lays and biscuits; not to forget unbranded murukku :D
Like all shops around the corner, the customers did not pour in; they trickled by one after another. If I had to describe the stores in a phrase it would be- Fun Learning. We had lots of fun; after all, we were doing social service- feeding hungry folks. (Quoted by a Prof). He actually thought it was a great students' initiative. The fun part was not just feeding tummies, but it was that sense of accomplishment- something like "We are the people of the Stores".
We the people of the stores get ragged everyday in class by our Sales Mgt. Prof. He picks on me like picking cheese on pizza. It doesn’t matter if I’m in the last row or in the front; he’s got these hawk eyes which are trained to look out for the sleepy head ME! Gee and Roo get picked on too. It all depends on his mood. The worst thing is- there was a question in the test about how to sell certain products at SoMCA stores. We should be given royalty for using our patented names without our permission :P
Like all stories, this one was also meant to be fun. The learning part just happened.
Like you learn the supply-demand concept; when the shelves are almost empty, everybody wants lays. When there is yellow lays, people want green lays.
Managing the accounts- making sure the stocks sold tally with the cash in hand.
Analysing consumer needs and wants- you can do your bit of marketing here. Determine the needs of the consumer, see what you can offer, and stick to your goal of making money. Knowing your customer is another important thing. Who likes what, and sell it to that person. Enticing new ones too.
Organization Behaviour; Not all employees work with the same gusto :P Some people do only their part of the job, and will not cooperate with you when you need an off. While, some others are more than happy to come with you, even when it is not their turn. Learning to trust the other dept people. Politics exists everywhere; even inside a 3 walled room!
Service quality and promptness. You can’t do much about the quality of goods, but you can sure be nice when you serve them. Learning to smile at people whom you don’t like. Take back biscuit packets when they are damp. If somebody’s coffee has an ant in it- don’t be cheeky and say; be happy it wasn’t a cockroach, instead smile and give him/ her another cup.
Profs are to be given special importance. The store also gives you this avenue to talk to the wise old men in the college. Serve them nice coffee- strike a conversation and this way you can also become worldly wise.
Consumer behavior- a great platform to absorb all that’s taught in class. People who pick the new flavor of biscuits unmindful of the taste are the Variety Novelty Seeking folks, people who pick only marie biscuit are traditionalists or kanjoos or on a diet. There are people with compulsive buying habits- MD sir loves murukku during the break, Ram is obsessed about eating lays twice a day, Badri likes ONLY tea, Aishwarya loves green lays, but wants to eat only marie biscuit now, stuff like this.
Sales- how did I miss this! We work on pure sales :P You learn to forecast the demand for green lays, if the stocks don’t arrive on time, we try to push off the old stock. Not everybody wants to buy from you- convincing Kannan sir that, it’s ok to go off the diet for a day.
I think the biggest learning we’ve had is- a company is a going concern. The people who run it are not the ones who ‘own’ it. L We’re finalizing the accounts this Friday and have to hand over the keys to a new bunch of caretakers. When Roo broke the news to me, I was really upset. How can we just give up on, what we’ve worked for? But yeah, we have to.
Finally, we’re recruiting! We need sales persons- remuneration would be- 15% profits. Interested candidates may apply!
I agree, that the topic dint sound a little too high and mighty, but take it from me- I've learnt a lot of the concepts in this tiny little room, and the learning goes a long way, in establishing a lot of facts. The SoMCA store is one of those things that made SSN a better place to be in. Gave me a little sense of belongingness and achievement! I’ve been a part of something substantial, and I just hope the coming batch of students make something good out of this.
One day, When I visit the place after a few years, I should be beaming :D LOL
High hopes eh?

Saturday, October 17, 2009


When I was a little girl, me being skin and bones worried my mom to no end. I wouldn’t eat, and even if I did, it was only a few mouthfuls. Food did not excite me. I used to loathe food. Even if I smelt food in a distance, I would run far away from the place in the fear of being fed. Most of my childhood games revolved around food. Running and catching is simple- my mom was the catcher and I was the runner. We used to run all around the house, from one room to another, in the pursuit of being fed. Hide and seek: if I spot my mom with a plate in hand, I used to find the best places to hide. Under the bed, behind the cupboard I used to wrap myself in the curtains to be protected from food. Lock and key was simply the best because; when my mom tried to feed me I used to scream, “Amma waitees! Lock”!

I hated solids, but loved liquids; my mom was a real smart woman. She capitalized on this. She spot the love for milk and quickly replaced everything with it. Thus, Complan- “the complete planned food” became my national drink. Along with this, came two other new entrants; pediasure, proteinex and weird hunger inducing tonics. I can tell you from experience that Proteinex is the last thing you should ever drink. It tastes worse that karela. Words can’t describe how bad it tastes.

We had a poem in English, called “For Kalpana”. It talks about this skinny girl called Kalpana, and how worried her parents were, when she dint eat. Every stanza ended with “Eat my child eat; how thin you are”. One fine day, in class 8; something miraculous happened. My then classmate, now best friend had brought about a change. Change in the way I looked at food. Suddenly, I was awake to the smell, colour and yumminess of food! I took a tiny little piece of her roti with a lot of trepidation- trust me; I fell in love with food, right there. My mom was stunned when I helped myself to pappu mummam with ghee and potato fry. And the rest like they say is history.


Today afternoon, we were having lunch. I asked my mom to pass on the vadai. She gave me this look, and said “no kanna, you’ve had enough. You’ll become fat if you eat too much”. Well, this wasn’t the first time this was happening. She did the same on Saraswathi Pujai. She gave me one vadai after the pujai, two during lunch, and another one while having coffee in the evening. Now, she is paranoid about what I eat, how I eat and how much I eat. Her argument to the case is; I becoming fat and one day I will blow up, become unrecognizable. She makes the whole thing sound like doomsday conspiracy.

We’ve enrolled in a gym now. She’s my exercise buddy. She says ok to anything the stupid instructor says. He says no curd and rice; she deprives me of it. I have everything against my instructor. How can he think, a die hard, tam-bram who swears by her thayir sadam can survive without it? Are you nuts? Lost it eh? Idiot!

Okay, I realize the importance of being healthy. I don’t want to become size zero and look anorexic. I’m ready to exercise, but don’t make me live in denial of all the good things life has to offer. I enrolled for Yoga classes in July to lose weight, and believe me; I have come to enjoy working out. But, it’s not easy for a foodie to de-addict herself. I know lays chips are nothing but junk and every time I’m tempted, I say this little prayer; “Give me not into temptation; deliver me from evil” Evil in this case refers to “lays and all the junk”.

Every day, I hit the treadmill with vengeance and hope that, the weighing machine will tilt in my favour. When I give it the disgruntled look, my mom smiles reassuringly and says “Sandy, eat less; you’ll lose weight” Oh yeah? So, maybe I should start smelling food. Yes, smelling! Look at vatha-kozhambu, imagine what it tastes like, and gulp a glass of water and say, “Amma, its yummy!”

The dieting game has been going on and off. It’s a lot like my mood swings, ok now but not ok in a few days. I read random articles on how to lose weight. Search the net for healthy salads, I’ve learnt to eat roti without ghee, and look at Frito-lays and not get tempted. At the end of the ordeal I just hope I lose enough weight and get back in shape. I really want to fit into the jeans I wore to MOP in 2005.

The latest addition to the diet-tips gyaan is the book by- Rujuta Diwekar “Don’t lose your mind, lose your weight”. She is the one who gave Kareena Kapoor her famous size zero. I read the book in 2hrs flat and drew up a base chart. I’m going on that diet from Monday. Let’s see how much I lose!

Wish me luck! :D

Monday, October 12, 2009

Wake Up Sid

Wake up Sid for starters is the movie about a Lazy-Young-Man; who is L.A.Z.Y. period. Cares for nothing, super-duper aimless, absolutely clueless, all he wants to do is have F.U.N. This guy is so random that he’d give all the random people in the world a run for their money. Life is served on a platinum platter, and the best part, this guy doesn’t realize how valuable it is. Life is taken for granted and one fine day- his final year results are out, and a bolt out of nowhere, strikes his filled-with-domino-pizza-brain. Our man, who was living in vanity, finally wakes up to the realities of life.
How he ‘wakes’ up is the story. The portrayal of his transformation isn't very realistic. But there is no masala, no melodrama. The young man learns it the hard way. The characters are etched out really well. Two people who are like chalk and cheese trace their journey of life. It is Simple, yet striking. Thankfully, nobody performs that typical Karan Johar 3-hanky act. The movie does have its share of clichés, but I’d like to ignore them for a change.
No matter how sarcastic I’m about the premise; I could see shades of me in his character. I’m not all of the above, but some of the above. The movie to me is closer to home, because; in exactly 6-months, my dad sponsored vacation of 22years will come to a grinding halt. There was so much in my head that made it me draw parallels.
My room like his is messy beyond description. It doesn’t matter how hard I try; it remains messy all the time. It’s not dirty, it’s just cluttered. To be precise, the messiness of my room changes with the amount of mess in my head. E.g.: Lesser the mess in my head; cleaner the room and vice versa.
I click a lot of random pictures when I’m studying :P I sleep off half way through a mugging session and wake up with my head buried inside the textbook. Even a whole flask full of coffee fails to keep me awake. I set the alarm for 3.00am and wake up at 7.00. :D I have a fetish of arranging the books neatly in a row, click pictures from every possible angle, my room when it’s squeaky clean. I click just about anything.
I’m awful at accounts & finance, I can’t tell credit from debit. My Dad for one is a chartered accountant. He’s tried his best to set me up with the game of numbers, and convincing me that debit, credit, tax and crap; are the best things around. Somewhere, deep down inside his heart; he hoped that I’ll take charge of his tiny little firm and become a CA. I’ve taken finance as a major to pacify him; I can tell you for a fact that I’m not making a career out of it. Quoting Sid; “It’s just not me”.
Just like Sid’s folks, my folks think I’m wasting my life sitting in front of the laptop and watching movies/ listening to songs. They think I was born to waste time. Regular seminar sessions are a common sight. My dad’s favorite dialogue is “I was earning when I was your age”. I really wish I could retort back saying, I’m half an MBA. But I don’t if it’s actually worth it. He takes every opportunity to tell me & my bro, that he’s worked really hard to reach where he is right now. Good point, but I think it’s every child’s nature to rebel against it.
Apart from this- I have nothing else in common with Mr. Sid. I'd like to be independent, earn my own money, work for a great marketing company, do branding and new product development. I just hope, a day comes when I can handover my first pay-check to my folks and say this is for you :D And I'm not becoming a Chartered Accountant. Never.
On the whole; I loved the movie. Most of us around are a lot like Sid. Some of us realize it and try to mend our ways, while others live-it up the way they want to!

Verdict: Wake up Sid- A lot like me!

Friday, October 9, 2009

Aiyarisation and Universalism

This is written by Swaminathan S Anklesaria Aiyer, about himself. Published
in The Times of India.

In 1992, I wrote a book titled Towards Globalisation. I did not realise at
the time that this was going to be the history of my family.

Last week, we celebrated the wedding of my daughter, Pallavi. A brilliant
student, she had won scholarships to Oxford University and the London
School of Economics. In London, she met Julio, a young man from Spain. The
two decided to take up jobs in Beijing, China. Last week, they came over
from Beijing to Delhi to get married. The wedding guests included 70
friends from North America, Europe and China.

That may sound totally global, but arguably my elder son Shekhar has gone
further. He too won a scholarship to Oxford University, and then taught for
a year at a school in Colombo. Next he went to Toronto, Canada, for higher
studies. There he met a German girl, Franziska.

They both got jobs with the International Monetary Fund in Washington DC,
USA. This meant that they constantly travelled on IMF business to disparate
countries. Shekhar advised and went on missions to Sierra Leone,
Seychelles, Kyrgyzstan and Laos. Franziska went to Rwanda, Tajikistan, and
Russia. They interrupted these perambulations to get married in late 2003.

My younger son, Rustam, is only 15. Presumably he will study in Australia,
marry a Nigerian girl, and settle in Peru.

Readers might think that my family was born and bred in a jet plane. The
truth is more prosaic. Our ancestral home is Kargudi, a humble, obscure
village in Tanjore district, Tamil Nadu. My earliest memories of it are as
a house with no toilets, running water, or pukka road.

When we visited, we disembarked from the train at Tanjore, and then
travelled 45 minutes by bullock cart to reach the ancestral home. My father
was one of six children, all of whom produced many children (I myself had
three siblings). So, two generations later, the size of the Kargudi
extended family (including spouses) is over 200. Of these, only three still
live in the village. The rest have moved across India and across the whole
world, from China to Arabia to Europe to America.

This one Kargudi house has already produced 50 American citizens. So,
dismiss the mutterings of those who claim that globalisation means
westernisation. It looks more like Aiyarisation, viewed from Kargudi.

What does this imply for our sense of identity? I cannot speak for the
whole Kargudi clan, which ranges from rigid Tamil Brahmins to beef-eating,
pizza-guzzling, hip-hop dancers. But for me, the Aiyarisation of the world
does not mean Aiyar domination. Nor does it mean Aiyar submergence in a
global sea. It means acquiring multiple identities, and moving closer to
the ideal of a brotherhood of all humanity. I remain quite at home sitting
on the floor of the Kargudi house on a mat of reeds, eating from a banana
leaf with my hands. I feel just as much at home eating noodles in China,
steak in Spain, teriyaki in Japan and cous-cous in Morocco. I am a Kargudi
villager, a Tamilian, a Delhi-wallah, an Indian, a Washington Redskins fan,
and a citizen of the world, all at the same time and with no sense of
tension or contradiction.

When I see the Brihadeeswara Temple in Tanjore, my heart swells and I say
to myself “This is mine.” I feel exactly the same way when I see the Church
of Bom Jesus in Goa, or the Jewish synagogue in Cochin, or the Siddi Sayed
mosque in Ahmedabad: these too are mine. I have strolled so often through
the Parks at Oxford University and along the canal in Washington, DC, that
they feel part of me. As my family multiplies and intermarries, I hope one
day to look at the Sagrada Familia cathedral in Barcelona and Rhine river
in Germany and think, “These too are mine.”

We Aiyars have a taken a step toward the vision of John Lennon. Imagine
there's no country, It isn't hard to do. Nothing to kill or die for, And no
religion too.

My father's generation was the first to leave the village, and loosen its
regional shackles. My father became a chartered accountant in Lahore, an
uncle became a hotel manager in Karachi, and we had an aunt in Rangoon.

My generation loosened the shackles of religion. My elder brother married a
Sikh, my younger brother married a Christian, and I married a Parsi. The
next generation has gone a step further, marrying across the globe.
Globalisation for me is not just the movement of goods and capital, or even
of Aiyars. It is a step towards Lennon's vision of no country.

You may say I'm a dreamer, but I'm not the only one. I hope one day you'll
join us. And the world will be one.


After reading through this- I have two pressing questions. Do all of us have it to embrace the firangs and their culture? Are we ready to break the shackles and move into in a different world, accept completely different sets of people? What about the famous Indian culture?
In the same breathe, My family has moved a little away from Tanjore :P I have a Spanish Sis in Law; My grandpa moved to Bombay God knows when, and my mom and her whole family of 5 grew up there.
This was certainly a very good read, like Amisha said, this can be used a Business Case on Globalization in Biz-schools!

Monday, October 5, 2009


I had just finished writing an assignment on – How I as a finance manager would advise my CEO on mergers and why a company should take it up. Had this not been an assignment I would happily said “Go ask a finance guy” But yeah, it’s an assignment, it carries marks (valuable marks :P), so I decided to try and make some sense.

Yeah, the point I’m trying to convey is- Assignments and blogging seem to have common thread running which is; you don’t really write one unless you feel like it :D and, there’s another factor- if you don’t submit your assignment, you are penalized; if you don’t blog, people sweet talk you into it and say- write something na :P!

Nevertheless I love doing both; because, it fun; thinking-analyzing-and-putting it down on paper. An overdose of which is actually the opposite of the above stated point. When you overload a student with too many assignments it leads to mass copying. A lot of us actually strike deals- see, I’ll finish sales, you finish services, and we’ll exchange papers ok. :D

About the MnA assignment, yours truly did not copy. I wrote it on my own; we were given sufficient time for prep and I learnt quite a bit. Again, I’m no finance whiz-kid, so I suffice my lack of finance knowledge by using cleverly manipulated words to convey meaning. But blogging is a different ball game altogether, its super fun. When you can’t go about punching people and breaking noses, writing something on a piece of paper and then transferring it onto the webpage is a stress buster!

I’ve wanted to write about a lot of things- it starts off with a germ of an idea, I develop something and then it gets directed into something completely different. The other day, I went shopping, I wanted to crap about consumer behavior, then consumer behavior gave way to people watching and finally it amounted to gossip. You know what’s the worst part of all this? I get accused for writing blogs during a particular class. The comment goes like this “Sandhya, I know you write really good blogs, but I think you’d be better off, if you listened to my class”. If that was the case, you’d see a new update every time you log in. Note the point your honour.

The weighing scale slipped by 0.5kg today! YaaaY, this was after a one hour workout! I feel sooooo good :D I don’t know if the machine is lying, but machines don’t lie. Do they? It moves by say, 0.3 or, 0.2 everyday, but today, it jolted!

My Mom joined orkut! I tried dissuading her by saying it’s a virus, it’s spam and other random bull. Thankfully, she dint find my working id, she’s added me on my gmail account which I hardly use. So nothing to worry about :P I’m just hoping she doesn’t add me on FB through the “friend finder”. I don’t fancy parental guidance at 22!

Guys and metrosexuality has caught my fancy now! My bro has an assortment of “styling products” which have been bought off my hard saved pocket money. Agreed, guys have to smell and look good too. I think any normal guy is better off with a good shaving gel, cologne, nice pair of jeans and a fresh tee, shoes go without saying. But what are these weird coloured hair-gels? The last thing I wanted to see on his rack was “moisturizing cream + sunscreen”! God, where is the world heading to? I think next in the line is; face scrubs, fruit packs and other arbit accessories. Where have the real men gone?

I think I’m done crapping. I’ll come with more a little later. You can mull over this for now. Before I say bye, I have a request, somebody please take the responsibility of sending regular mails or threats; Write a post- submission date xyz :D Will you?

Now, I have to rush! I have a test on Strategic Management. The textbook still smells of fresh paper. Takers anybody :P