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Tamizh vaathiyaars (teachers) are great management gurus. Today, all of us may be in various parts of the world, building sound careers for ourselves. But one should never forget the contribution of those great men, who instilled precious lessons early in the learning process and made us better in what we do.

My 6th standard tamizh vaathiyaar known for his doctrines in life was in full form that day when he was evaluating one of my katturais (essays).

“This is wonderful stuff. Though you think you are a human being, you transform into a bull when asked to write in tamizh. And what you write is, well, just bullshit. Bullshit is priceless!”

To top the insult, he gestured with both his hands on his head, imitating the horns of a bull. Though fuming from inside, a  ‘Nanri ayya’ (Thank you sir) is all that I could muster then.

My 8th standard Tamizh vaathiyaar was a true-blue tamizhian, he used to dress only in veshti (dhothi) and his abuse list mostly consisted of words which were too pure for us to understand. How else could one explain ‘Karuvaattu mundam’? No, ‘Dry fish duffer’ will not do.

One day, he was teaching a lesson on cows, when he suddenly had an Arindam Chaudhari-esque transformation.

Sometimes life presents you with situations, when you are forced to come up with cowdung. What differentiates the good from the great is the fact that the greats do not hesitate to “bite the bullshit”, whereas the self-righteous good-s languish by their ideals.

Back then, I had reacted to these statements with expressions of yuck. I had even jumped at the first opportunity to escape from Tamizh and the Tamizh vaathiyaars and switched to French(!?!) in my 11th standard. I had to start working and experience a few years of bullshit to recognise the profundity of their arguments. Management lessons, all.

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“Please wear suits when you visit customers” was the boss’s instruction to Ritesh, who had joined us recently. Ritesh was supposed to travel with me for an assignment where we had to solve a few critical problems for the client. The day before we left, I accompanied him to this upmarket mall, where he got himself a brand new suit. Though it burnt a royal hole in his pocket, he was extremely proud of his latest acquisition.

We reached the client’s location and pored over their processes for the initial couple of days. On the third day, we were supposed to give a presentation with our findings to the client. Ritesh thought that it would be an ideal day to unveil his new suit. “Your suit looks great” I remarked. Eager to give him an opportunity and also because I was lazy, I offered him the chance to present our solution to the client. Ritesh was very happy with that and thanked me profusely.

He began the presentation very well. I was impressed with the way he was saying “We need to identify the root cause of the problem.” This sentence is a cliche that needs to be a part of every consultant’s vocabulary and I was glad that he was up to speed quickly. After 45 minutes, we broke for coffee. I appreciated Ritesh when we met at the loo and he seemed quite eager to wrap it up well. After the break, everyone assembled at the conference room, but Ritesh was nowhere to be found. After a full 10 minutes, he came rushing into the room. He apologized for the delay and completed the presentation. Afterwards, I asked him what was wrong.

“You know what” he said “In the loo, my zipper got stuck. I was not able to open it.”

“What!” I exclaimed “Its a brand new suit, right, that too the premium brand in town.”

“Yes man. It took me some time to figure out that the cloth lining had got stuck in the zipper. Initially it seemed funny. But later on, I started fearing for my future generations. You need to experience it to believe it. Frustrating, you know!”

“Probably, you needed to identify the root cause of the problem faster” quipped a person from the client’s team. It took quite a while for the guffaws all around to subside.

But Ritesh was not impressed, neither with the joke nor with his new suit. Then, as a good team mate, I had to quote the incident of my jeans getting badly torn at the wrong place while I tried jumping the railway tracks at Bangalore Cantonment station to liven him up again. Suitable, no!

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I have been a human being and a computer since times when computers were human beings. Today, most computers are machines. Some human beings are machines too. So am I.

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Wake up…

… and sail away from the safe harbour!

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Sheet happens!

Overheard at work today:

There are many sheets in this excel file. First sheet reminds us of our responsibilities. Second sheet is the list of tasks to be carried out. Third sheet discusses planning. Fourth sheet is an amalgamation of the first three sheets. The sheets are ok till now. But the stuff gets too heavy fifth sheet onwards. This is too much for the day even for a strong and diligent man like me. I might need to drop those sheets after all.

Seems like a routine project meeting, right. Not when you are bored at work and looking for some entertainment. So just imagine the fun when the speaker missed the stress on the ‘ee’ part of the word ‘sheet’. Happens!

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Take my breadth away…

… is my friend’s theme song for the gym. I dismissed it as a two-dimensional illusion.

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I Stray VI

Sophisticated software will not work in Kaiyendi Bhavans. It will always return a ‘Server not found’ error!

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