Thursday, May 27, 2004


Mark had a post about taking the MBTI and then I read a thread on BW about the same and decided to take one of them free tests on the web. Don't know how valid the test itself was, but according to this one, I am an ENTP.

a what ?, one might ask. according to these folks :

Life as an ENTP (Extravert, Intuitive, Thinker, Perceiver)

People of this type tend to be: friendly, charming, and outgoing; quick-witted, energetic, and irreverent; ingenious, imaginative, and creative; curious, flexible, and unpredictable; logical and analytical.

The most important thing to ENTPs is being creative, seeing possibilities, and always having new challenges.

And, some of the great careers for ENTPs like myself:

** Entrepreneur, I-banker, VC, strategic planner - all of which I can actually see myself as.
** copywriter, actor, internet marketer - no way i can be any of these, but i'll attribute it to a lack of talent.
** motivational speaker - actually, why not.
** university/college president - this one I'd love to have :-)

Wednesday, May 26, 2004

The London Experience

I wish I hadn't gone to Open Weekend at LBS ! No, not really. I had a grand time, so nice that I don't think I can live with not getting off the waitlist after seeing what a cool place it is ! It was a long weekend and i'll try to recollect in chronological order.

Friday 7:00 PM
Still in line at the Virgin baggage check at Logan. Got there a little late but the lines were incredible. It was funny to see the BA counter almost empty though they had a flight out. While I was waiting in line, I had some sort of red sticker put on my passport which guaranteed the most stringent of checks at every stage of security. This also ensured that my checked in baggage got green stickers on them that said 'do not load' and 'extra attention'. But, this also meant that I could skip the long lines for the hoi polloi at security check and be escorted to the extra security checkpoint, which was empty. After the summary checks, I rushed to the terminal to find that the flight was delayed a half-hour. And, incredibly, a fire alarm went off at the airport ! I don't know what it was about, but this delayed our boarding and the flight took off a full hour late.

Saturday 8:30 AM
Finally out of the airport. Tried calling my friend but no response. Wanted to see if I could get a room for the day at the airport hotel, but it was like 120 pounds. jeez. tried a few more times and finally woke her up, got directions, and on the Tube to Earl's Court. Realized there was no way I was going to make the 9:00 start. Got to her place, quick shower and change, and decided to cab it to school as I was running late already. 14 pounds, cab fare.

Satuday 10:30 AM
MBA 2006

I can't tell you how good i felt seeing my name badge. It's the first time I've seen an MBA tag next to my name. still not there yet, but it was cool nonetheless. Picked up the welcome materials, and because i missed breakfast, trotted along hungry, coffee-less, and jet lagged to one of the planned sessions. The first one was on student clubs, with tables by the various clubs. What was really strange was that the four people I spoke with were all on the waitlist last year. This was repeated throughout the day. Seems like London really does have a lot of movement off the waitlist. A very encouraging sign indeed. And they were all very encouraging too - don't worry you'll get in was the common refrain from the current students. Signed up for the Entrepreneurs, Football, Sailing and Latin clubs. Also met a student who used to work in the London office of my company and another who's going to Bangalore for an internship this summer.

Next up, was a campus tour. LBS is located in a Nash Terrace overlooking Regent's Park. It's a location that can't be beat right in the city. It's a self contained campus with a leafy quad to boot. I would say the facilities are on par with any of the top b-schools I've visited. Of course, Wharton and HBS are in a class of their own. We also walked over to another building across the street that houses the exec-ed, library and gym/swimming pool. There's a small cafe for food, a huge formal-style dining room, and a bar in the main building. Adequate number of study rooms, each with their own PC's and printers.

After the tour, and still with no time for coffee, we went to a panel session on career services. The officer is ex-Mckinsey and it was an impressive session. Apparently, numbers for internships and job offers this year are looking very good. LBS has a grade non-disclosure policy, which is a big plus. They have also tinkered with the curriculum, moving up strategy and finance core courses earlier in the year to better help prepare students for the consulting and finance internship interviews that happen during the so-called Milk Round. The new officer also has a team of industry veterans in the career office organized on industry lines. The presentation was followed by a Q&A with a panel of 1st and 2nd year students. An intersting note is that there is no bidding process for jobs, you can apply to whatever jobs you want to, and the school sees itself as a facilitating agency bringing the best companies in front of the best students.

Next up, finally, lunch. There was a welcome speech by Dean Tyson that touched on the strengths of the school, why she decided to come here, what they have achieved, and the advantages of being in London. I was also interviewed by a couple of students for a piece they are doing to go on the website. The highlight was that I got to talk with David Simpson, the top Admissions guy. The salient points :
- there is usually significant movement off the waitlist every year, am still in with a decent chance
- the waitlist is not ranked. it is assessed based on the composition of the class at time of review
- they will let us know if there is any obvious area of the application needs more information
- it is OK to send in extra information about progress in jobs/goals/etc since the application was sent in.
- they do view attending the Open Weekend as a positive sign of interest in the school, though not very much to be fair to those who could not make it due to financial or time constraints.

This guy is an overall class act. I think Derrick Bolton and he are the two best AdComs I have met during this admissions process. Oh, and I managed to get my first cup of coffee. Which was a good thing, because I would have fallen asleep in the sessions that followed.

There were two sessions after lunch. The first was 'a day in the life of an MBA student'. an entertaining presentation, including a video diary, by two students - a 1y and 2y, both American followed by a Q&A. LBS does not have a bidding process for electives, probably don't need this because of the small class size a la Tuck. You can have a major or not, and extra-curricular activities are a big part of life there. A small community of 300 students also adds to the sense of camaraderie. This was followed by a kick-ass class conducted by one of the LBS professors. It was on Decision Sciences and very involved and interesting.

Saturday, 7:30 PM
After an hour at a Pub round the corner, we filed back to the quad for dinner, which was barbeque, with live music. Great food, and great conversations with the admits and other waitlisters. This school truly defines international. The 'Indians' I met there were from Delhi, Australia, UK, US and Canada ! I didn't count, but there must have been over 30 countries represented that day. More than the countries of origin, almost all students seem to have had varied international experiences. The name tags were often times deceptive. Spoke with an Egyptian woman - turns out she works in Germany. Ditto with someone from the UK - works in Paris. And the range of professional backgrounds was diverse too - a buyer for a department store, a doctor, a government administrator, bankers, marketers, consultants. As would be expected, I guess.

After a good dinner, the party moved to MBAr, the bar on campus. This is where they have Sundowners on Thursday nights after end of classes where the booze is free, sponsored by some company or the other. On saturday, the drinks were flowing, there was a live band, dancing, and i got myself one of those removable tattoos that said LBS :-) Would have stayed till the end of the party but my jet lag caught up with me and I made my way home around midnight.

Woke up around noon, and went to visit Goodenough College in the heart of the city. This is a private establishment, built in the tradition of British residential colleges. It was initially built as a place for visiting commonwealth students to stay but has since expanded to welcome students from all over the world who are in London to pursue postgraduate studies. I am quite taken by this place, and if I make it to LBS, would like to stay here. I think it would complete the entire college experience. The only catch - a 500 word essay about how I would contribute to the community at the college and my home country once I finish my education, is required for acceptance :-)

After that, back to LBS. The students had organized an afternoon in Regent's Park. LBS location is simply superb, right on the edge of an enormous park. Sunday was beautiful and the park was filled with people. We found an empty spot and indulged in some touch rugby and frisbee. I realized that i'm not in the kind of shape i thought i was, at least for rugby. Sat around and chatted up with students and their partners. It was a nice, relaxed way to end my visit. We were there until 5 PM and said our good-byes.

I had the morning to kill and the admissions folks, who I wanted to go meet, were out of office that day. So, decided to take in some London. Found myself on the Millenium Bridge towards the Tate Modern. What a museum ! Originally a Power Station, it has been exquisitely converted by Herzog and de Meuron into a cutting-edge museum. And the art inside is top-notch too. There are cafes on the 2nd and 7th floors with amazing views of London. Glad I went there. After the visit, it was back to the airport and on a flight home.

Final thoughts:
The school is quite different from the US schools I've visited. The most obvious difference is the student body. I think one doesn't get the full import of what they mean by a global business school unless one visits. I was looking at the activities that the Latin/South American club had for the past weeks, and there were things related to half-a-dozen countries from Mexico to Peru. We got into a conversation about EU expansion and there was a frenchman, spaniard, brit and italian with their points of view. We even had two women of Mongolian descent, one from the US and other from UK.

It is also a small school, has very much the feel of Tuck, with its class size of 300. Step out on one side of the building and you could be in Hanover, with the huge expanse of greenery in front of you. But, take the other exit and you're in the bustle of a happening world city. Terrific access to recruiters of all kinds, Columbia/Stern-like in this respect. It is also a campus of its own, albeit small, and not another building in a bigger university. The other advantage is the chance to travel. Europe is at your doorstep. RyanAir has 1 pound one-way rates to a range of cities from Salzburg to Stockholm, take your pick !

Of course, there are the downsides. The biggest one is probably the strong pound sterling which makes this the most expensive MBA program right now. The cost of living in London is ridiculous. My Chai Latte at Starbucks was 2.34, in pounds ! It's 2.84 in USD here. If you want to move back to the US, job search can be stressful, because of the location. Also, the alumni network is spread, arguably thin, around the globe and could be a matter of concern based on personal career plans.

I like it, though.

Friday, May 21, 2004

Off to London

things mostly went according to plan today. visa came in at 10:30. snappy haircut at noon. picked up laundry at 1:00. packed and back to work by 2.

the Y is all booked up, so called the friend and it's going to be couch-time. no issues. i may also hit up my sis' bro-in-law for sunday night. i really hate to pile on others but given the circumstances, it's OK. should remember to take my hosts out for a nice dinner or something.

i was planning to meet the Adcoms on monday and wrote to a couple of them requesting appointments but for some reason they are out of office that day. but they will be in force saturday so i hope to get some face-time.

also talked with a buddy of mine from college to write me a recommendation. my career goal is to be an entrepreneur but i've only had big company experience in the recent past. i think i may not have sufficiently demonstrated my entrepreneurial instincts in my essays. but this guy and I worked on starting a company a few years ago, and he can also attest to my work starting up a placement department in college. plus he's an MBA himself and can add a personal touch to how I could benefit from the degree. he's enthusiastic about writing the reco. need to send him my essay, resume and goal statements this weekend and we should hopefully have something crafted and mailed before the end of next week.

i am also thinking about writing an additional essay-type letter touching on aspects that the application essays did not cover and which could help give an extra dimension. i will do that after the Open Weekend so that I could also relate to my experiences there and why(if) i think i would be a good fit. Will work on it on the plane ride back. Also need to update the folks about the change in my salary situation with my performance appraisal and hike.

leave BOS : 7:30 PM
arrive LHR : 6:55 AM
registration : 9:00 - 9:30 AM
breakfast : 9:35 AM with welcome speech by Dean Laura d'Andrea Tyson.
fun : rest of the day.

Thursday, May 20, 2004

go East young man. one step at a time.

looks like the stars are aligning one by one to make the trip to Open Weekend at LBS a reality.

just called the visa agent and the visa has been approved today ! yippee ! it's in the mail and should get here between 10 and 10:30 tomorrow.

the Y hasn't gotten back to me about a room to stay yet. will call them first thing tomorrow AM. but, as a backup, i called a hiker who I met in Lima and she's offered the use of her couch. as a backup to the backup, turns out my sister's brother-in-law lives in London too. i should really know this, but my sis isn't mad that she had to remind me. she knows me very well :-)

aregon23 - thanks for the note, "you want to look like success to attract it" - dropped off my suit and shirts at the dry cleaners. pick up tomorrow.

i also need to get a haircut. called tuesday and my hairdresser is booked solid until noon tomorrow ! i could go elsewhere but she drives a Vespa. wait, that doesn't make sense - but pretty much nothing else does either ;-)

so, plan for tomorrow - go home at noon and get a haircut, pick up my laundered clothes, pack and back to work. helps that the salon and laundry are right outside my doorstep.

a BIG thanks to britchick - you are a lifesaver. it never occured to me to check the train repair info. lots of lines are closed saturday. i think i'm just going to hop onto the Heathrow Express. a tad pricey, but I love it, took it on my way out of the City the last time. and i didn't know about the test match. i might go hang out at Lords for a bit sunday, should be cool. also got me-self a Flying Club membership.

i'm so tired but this day's not over yet. got a ton of stuff to finish up at work, just hope i can get a good night's sleep tonite. i really can't sleep on planes, especially if they have seatback TV's.

Tuesday, May 18, 2004

some doors close, others Open. ever so slightly.

i've got to blog this for myself, so i can revisit the events of the last two days whenever i'm in need of a wide smile.

i've been living on the edge with deadlines et al all along this saga of mine. but this one's hard to top. i came into work yesterday to impending deadlines and hoping to find some time to finalize the set of things i should do to strengthen my case with LBS. Around noon or so, as I was getting ready to walk into a meeting, I check my mail and there's a note from LBS that they have their Open Weekend for admitted students this saturday and sunday. the reason I was notified is that they also welcome waitlisted students for this ! so, I quickly resolved to do what I can to get out there. this journey wouldn't really be complete without an admit weekend, would it now ? it would also give me a chance to meet with the Adcoms, and make a personal case for why I should be an MBA 2006. deciding to go was the easy part, i now realize.

first up, tickets. i'm sitting in the meeting checking the orbitzes of the world to find a decent price. tickets a few days before take-off aren't really cheap, but the best i could do was Virgin Atlantic. booked them. oh, and i took the $20 protection on those tix that'll allow me to make changes if things don't go according to plan.

next, visa. yes, i need a UK Visitor Visa to enter the country. i had a real easy time the last time i went there, so wasn't expecting any hurdles. however, as is the nature of things, i check their website and they now require an appointment to secure a visa. and you can only book an appointment with your passport number. I just got a new passport last year and don't remember the number off the top of my head, and it was sitting at home. found some time at around 4 to go home and fetch it and once i go through the motions was told that the earliest appointment's for May 27 ! and there's nothing on the website for rush service or emergencies or anything of that sort. damn. and it was already past 5 and obviously nobody's going to answer the phone.

so, i do some more digging around and there's a list of 'agents' that don't need an appointment. you can go thru them and it gets done the same day. phew. call the first one and they don't do visitor visas. ditto for the second one. this is getting worse. the third guy i call, a very kind malayalee ( malayalee - a person, usually from the Indian state of Kerala {also called God's Own Country, and beautiful as heaven}, who speaks the language of Malayalam, a palindrome in case you noticed ), says he's gonna do it. the plan - mail him my passport etc by wednesday, he takes it there thursday, and he mails it back to me by friday afternoon, so i can make the 7:30 flight out. did anyone say living on the edge ? oh, that was me. didn't i also say i have deadlines to meet at work? life's not fun. well, actually, it is.

this AM, i start to fill out the online application form for the Visa and come to a section that asks if I have any friends in the UK. i do, so i said yes. and then the next screen asks for their address. their freaking address. won't a name and phone number do ? my problem is that i don't have my friend's address. i try to call her and - is this a surprise anymore - voice mail. i then realize that i know this guy who's kinda dating her and email him if he has her address. and off to another meeting. as a backup, there's a classmate of mine from high school who's in london and i asked another buddy of mine to see if he can get me her address/phone number. the issue was that the website doesn't allow you to go back once you've started the process. so, no going back to the previous page and saying that i don't know anyone in London. frustrating, i tell ya.

it was almost 2 when i got out of this meeting. by then i had managed to procure an address and continue with the form. this was the cool part though - no timeouts on the form even though i had left it idle for over an hour. filled it out, printed it, and printed all the other required docs. the last item - a letter of employment. my admin promised to have it done by 3. but i had another meeting at 3 and finally got out at 4. picked up the letter and realized that it has mistakes. asked her to correct it and was walking back to my office when the most fucking unexpected thing happened. cross my heart, this is true, and i believe, probably destined. a fire alarm.

sitting outside, waiting for the fire marshals to arrive, i could not help but smile. what are the odds ? ah, so sweet.

4:30 we make it back into the building and she has it done. pick it up, make photocopies of all documents, and run to the Kinko's with the FedEx around the corner. some good luck here, the pickup is at 7 pm. i relaxed a little and as i was doing a final check realized that something was wrong with my bank statement. i printed it off Fleet's website and guess what - there is no name anywhere on there, just account #'s. glad i caught it. ran back to my office and the whole freaking website is like that. it's already 5:30. so onto plan B, which was short lived. tried to get one of the mini-statements off the ATM and it was worse. it just showed the last 4 digits of my account # :-)

It's 5:50 at this point and onto Plan C. search for any open branches - found one. take the train to Harvard Square because there's a branch of fleet that's open until 7. and the reason it's open late is because it's one of them fancy-shmancy ones. where they make you wait in a lobby in admittedly comfortable sofas until a financial consultant walks you to an office to finally get you the damn printout with a name and account balances. 6:15 when I step out.

i must admit i had good train karma today. didn't have to wait more than a couple of minutes for the subway either way. get off my stop and it's 6:30. man, was i relieved. a long leisurely walk the next few blocks to the kinko's and i deposited my envelope at around 6:45. pick-up at 7.

today's done but this story's far from being done. this visa thing has to be approved thursday. and the dude's got to send it to me on time friday. my flight gets to London 7 AM and i got to make my way to Fitzrovia to the youth hostel (yup, that's all i can afford at this point), shave, shower, get dressed and get to LBS between 9 and 9:30. not to mention the fact that I will probably be jetlagged. it's a good thing i kinda know the lay of the land there. if it gets too late in customs (as it did last time i was there), i might skip the Tube and take the Heathrow Express which gets to Paddington Station in luxurious comfort in about 20 minutes or so. Tube to Great Portland street. the YMCA where i plan to stay is a couple of blocks away. freshen up, back to the station and Baker Street is only one stop from Great Portland. LBS is about 5-10 minutes walk from the Baker Street stop i think.


Friday, May 14, 2004

spoke too soon !

Waitlist !!

finally, not a rejection ! that feels great, though an admit would have been better.

and, the end is not near. not by a long shot. the applications get reviewed again on May 31, and June 25. If you are still on the waitlist, they get reviewed all the way upto september. Or you can be taken out anytime before that. Apparently, they usually have good movement off these lists. Given that they still have another round of admissions, there are still seats open. alright ... i am an optimist, but i have to be !

i can't help smile thinking that there is a sense of poetic justice here. if i waited until the last minute to send my application in (and btw, helped very much by a 48-extension of the deadline due to an online app glitch !) i should probably be made to sweat it out before I'm let in :-)

i am going to take a day to recover and then chalk out a waitlist strategy. as the Yogi would say, "it ain't over 'til it's over".

the end is very very near

it's a few minutes to 12 noon, which would make it 5 PM GMT, and i still haven't heard from the good folks at London Business School. why ? why not ? it's beyond me to try to comprehend it. At this point, I'm just waiting for the email.

and my sincere thanks to all who have posted comments of support. it really means a lot to me.

Thursday, May 13, 2004

a dream deferred

Ding !

Wednesday, May 12, 2004

Shoes - check

it's almost the 13th. when i wake up, wharton's results should be in. i actually feel very strange. it's some sort of subdued excitement. or maybe it's the cold i caught yesterday that's slowly developing into headaches and a fever. in any case, i think i am ready for a good night's sleep. come the AM, que sera sera.

on my way home this evening (after a quick pitstop at payless to buy a pair of shoes :-) i was thinking back upon this entire experience and what i could have done different or better. i realized that it's very easy to go down a list - apply R1, write earlier essays, better anticipation of what schools want etc - but if i had to do it over again, i probably would make the same mistakes. i think it's just the way people operate. the key then is to really know oneself so that you can take a suitable route to the goal. i would attribute that to my having gotten to this point.

From my blog - November 20 :

Looking back - i started this blog Oct 19 and it's been a month and my applications haven't really moved an inch along ! It's obviously procrastination, but it's also my way of doing things. I find that I need the pressure to really get cranking on anything. It was the same with my GMAT. I had over a month to prep, but it was not until the last week that I picked up my books. I'm average with regards to everything else but I think I am clutch when the pressure is cranked up. I really need for the adrenaline to flow.

So, that's what it's come down to. One of my biggest challenges yet, I'm late and I am betting on what (I think :) I know about myself to pull it off. Doesn't get better than this. I'm really excited and looking forward to December

well, december's turned to may, but i'm still standing. I've taken a few hits, but have kept the faith and trudged along. i am just as confident about my abilities and potential on the last day of the admission season as I was on the first. For any potential applicants considering b-school who may look at this long journey with no results to show for yet and be discouraged, I give you this little conversation from Paulo Coelho's The Alchemist:

"But I have no idea how to turn myself into the wind"
"If a person is living out his destiny, he knows everything he needs to know. There is only one thing that makes a dream impossible to achieve: the fear of failure"
"I'm not afraid of failing. It's just that i don't know how to turn myself into the wind."
"Well, you'll have to learn. Your life depends on it."
"But what if I can't."
"Then you'll die in the midst of trying to realize your destiny. That's a lot better than dying like millions of other people, who never even knew what their destinies were."

Looking back, it has been a glorious six months. I have learned a lot about myself and what I want to do. I honestly believe I am a better person today for having gone through the process. But, it's past. And I can't wait for tomorrow to bring its surprises.

buenas noches, el mundo.


Tuesday, May 11, 2004

Change is in the air

this change in my blog template sure was prescient !

i just had a meeting with my boss and i need to officially look for a new job ! i am not being fired or anything but we are having a change of project priorities and i don't fit in the downsized plans for my current project, which actually is a good thing, and so I will have to find another position inside the company. my managers are going to do everything they can to help all of us in this position find appropriate work. nonetheless, it's a big thing. gives me the goosebumps actually. i have never been put in a position like this before.

to balance this out, i also got the good news that i have been rated among the better performers in the company and also got a much-above-company-average pay hike. my manager assured me that they would do all they can to find someone like me a challenging role that fits my caliber, but there is always the risk this may not happen. we'll see how this goes.

the one upside is that if i get into b-school, i don't have to leave on any bad terms. maybe in that sense this is a good thing ... my path is being slowly shown to me ? 36 hours more and we'll know.

Out with the old, bring in the new.

How d'ya like my new-look blog ?

I was checking out the revamped and came across this new template that I quite like. It's not like my old blog brought me any great luck right :-) So, in the spirit of new beginnings and an end to the miseries of the past, I have decided to throw away my old blog template and move to a new one !

Monday, May 10, 2004

The heart's a-racing !

Ok, things are definitely coming to a head. Big time. I just found out that wednesday is going to be a big day at work for me. There are some internal readjustments going on, and I'm scheduled to talk to the boss that day to find out what my future holds. There is a chance I may get to do some exciting new stuff, or I may be thrown into a dead-end project. And, to add to the excitement, there is going to be a compensation overhaul. Oh boy. That followed by W and LBS. 1-2-3 punch. Wonder why these things all come together.

oh, and one more thing - thursday (W results day) is also my 'official' birthday. I know what I'm getting myself this year - shoes :-)

A page from a diary

I was watching LOTR and wondered if it's still possible to go away to a place where there is no one else, just you. I can only think of about an hour of my life when I've felt that way. This was in peru on the Inca Trail when we came across some ruins close to where we camped. After a tour of the place, everyone went back to get some food and I sat down to write my diary. I realized after a while that there was no one else there, just me. I still remember feeling a sense of peace and quiet that was quite remarkable. It was my original intention to blog my travels through the country but I never got around to it. I'm going to sorta make up for it here. This was my entry in my little diary as I sat there that evening. Obviously, a digression from the MBA-quest theme of this blog, and rather longish and aimless, so be warned.


I am sitting on one of the terraces of the ruins of Wiñyawayna, the site of our final camp. This is unbelievable. Unbelievably unbelievable. No words or pictures can describe this sight completely. Nestled on the slopes of a mountain, facing east towards the sun and the magnificient peaks of the Peruvian Andes, are the most beautiful ruins we have yet encountered on our trail.

At the top of the mountain is the temple associated with most Inca towns. This temple has a wall that has been partially restored by the government after it was damaged in a mudslide or something of that sort. All important Inca buildings - temples, homes of nobility etc - are indicated by double jambed doors. This is no exception. Upon entering the building, there is a semi-circular room with seven windows along the arc. The temple is not of the high quality construction seen in Pisac. This indicates a temple built for a lower god - in this case the rainbow. The rainbow was considered a messenger between mother Earth and the father Sun. Also, the Incas predicted their seasons by the rainbow. If the rainbow was bright, it indicated to them that there would be good weather for their crops. If it was dark, it forebode disaster. On the right of this temple are the living quarters of the high priest. Simple in formation, one can oversee the entire city from here.

The actual town of a few hundred inhabitants was located down the slope. What remains of it now are some magnificiently preserved ruins. This is the first time we have seen ruins with the roof structures intact. There are several homes at levels, and the entire city sits on the edge of a sharp precipice. Heading down to the city from the temple are the terrace gardens of the Incas. Looking from here, the gardens seem to fall off the mountain. The have been built right to the edge. These terraces served several purposes. Firstly, they prevented erosion of the mountainside due to rainfall. Secondly, they were used to cultivate crops for the inhabitants. They were also sometimes used as nurseries to acclimatize crops to higher altitudes and the seeds were transported to the various Inca cities and tambos.

I've had this place for myself since I got here. Now, all of a sudden it's been overrun by visitors. My train of thought's broken by all the conversations and flash bulbs going off (it's getting dark here).

Last night we had a huge storm pound us. It was so loud and non-stop. But, I managed to get some good sleep. Wake-up call was supposed to be at 6:30 but woke up around 5:30 and wrote some. After a great breakfast of pancakes with caramel and scrambed eggs, we set off.

Speaking of breakfasts, we've had such unbelievable food on this trip. Our cook, Piranha, is incredible. He creates the best meals in the middle of nowhere. Last night, we had cream of mushroon soup(which i tried to spice up with chillies and got my tongue burnt !), rice with a curry of potatoes and beef, and chocolate with rum for dessert. Yesterday's lunch was corn soup & bow-tie pasta with chicken and salads of coleslaw, cucumbers, lettuce and potatoes. Who would have thought I would have to travel to the other hemisphere and climb 14000 feet to eat the best food of my life !!

The sun's suddenly disappeared. Not set, but engulfed by the clouds. This is the ecozone of the famed cloud forests. We've walked through these the entire day. As we started off this morning, and climbed a few metres, I looked back at the campsite. It was bright and sunny, surrounded by green mountains. But, a slight cloud could be seen rising from the valley. As T and I stood watching, the cloud rose to engulph the entire vista and soon enough we were walking down into the clouds. Because of the humidity, the vegetation in this part of the Andes, at this altitude, is very lush and filled with moss-covered trees, ferns and orchids. The orchids are especially spectacular. They are a burst of color in the lush greenery of the forests. The mountain in front of me has an almost vertical slope, yet is lush with forests. The trees almost seem to be stacked on top of each other. Very funky.

We had a not-so-difficult (for me) ascent to our fourth pass and we then descended 3200 steps on the original Inca Trail to our campsite here. Stopped for a lunch of vegetable soup, sphagetti, and strawberry juice before walking to these magnificient ruins. This campsite is next to a restaurant and has showers for 5 solas. The rest of the gang is out showering but I don't feel right about it. It's like I am on an adventure and I should wait for it to end before I get back to the comforts of a hot shower and warm blankets and ...

It's really starting to get cold (am shivering as I write) and getting pretty dark. aha - found a torchlight at the restaurant for 8 solas. Am good to go tomorrow. Lost my Petzl somewhere between Olyantaytambo and Camp 1. I would hate to bother someone else to share their light especially given my slow pace. So, wake up is at 3:50 AM tomorrow, breakfast at 4:20 and we leave soon after for Machu Pichu guided by torchlight.

Next entry after that. Now, off to dinner.

Saturday, May 08, 2004

post-interview relief

thanks trip and mansur ! am blogging before sending a thank-you note to my interviewer ;-)

it's done, and what a relief. I feel like a great load has just been lifted off my shoulders. i would characterize it as a good interview. started out with a little snafu (get the bad things out of the way first :). my interviewer was waiting for me at the wrong building. after 10 minutes or so he came up to where he asked me to wait and after some pleasantries we got started. Oh, before that as I was parking some guy came up to my car and said that it was a cool car (i drive an Element) and we had a little chat about it as he was thinking of getting one. I think that little chat took my mind off the worried thinking about the interview. Thanks man, whoever you are.

The interview was about an hour or so long. Started with the general why do you want an MBA to which i gave my well-rehearsed spiel, entirely consistent with my essays, which he had in front of him. He then followed up with a few questions:

* you mentioned the plusses of LBS. what do you think are some risks or negatives about LBS and getting an MBA
* if i asked your teammates over a beer what they like about working with you and what they don't, what would they say.
* did you apply to other schools in the US, why/why not ?
* are you going to take up a job after your MBA ? If so, do you have a geographic preference for where you want to work ?
* what do you bring to LBS ?
* a sorta funny question was - you seem to have taken all your decisions based on a clear strategy. was applying in R3 also strategic, based on the fact that it has the highest probability of acceptance ?

huh ? really ? i didn't know that it did :-) procrastination does seem to have some fringe benefits :-)

then we went into the next part of the interview where i had to make an impromptu presentation on a topic he had chosen. I had five minutes to prepare and 2-5 minutes to make an argument. i kinda just had a couple of points to say, i hope i didn't screw it up. I did make the main points though, didn't add any fluff to extend the time. he commented that it was very interesting to hear my opinion, because he had asked the same of another person earlier this week and he got a very different argument.

finally, time for questions. he had a similar background to mine - already had a graduate degree, immigrant to the US, went to study in London and came back here to work, and some interesting insights and realities about how hard it is to find jobs in the US from there.

all in all, a relaxed conversation in which i thought my points went across well. I hope he felt the same. The one BIG difference from other interviews was that he wasn't taking any notes, so didn't have the distraction of talking to a person with his head bent and writing.

on another note, this guy's office was probably as big as one of the studio apartments I've lived in. If this is the kind of job one gets right after b-school (he just graduated), it's pretty cool.

Some positives : he commented that when he went to LBS, he wasn't as focussed about what he wanted as I am, also mentioned the strong story I had in another context. At some point, he said something to the effect of us both not being from the states, we can understand xyz etc. I thought we had a good connection.

negatives : hard to say. there were no obvious questions where I didn't have an answer. maybe i was a little too critical of myself during the weakness type question, but that's the nature of the question.

I feel relieved. Not good, not bad. Just plain happy that I have done what I could on this journey. I've been to all the places i could go and just caught the last train out of the station. I'm going to kick back, get some sleep, and see where it takes me.

Trip - dude, i really really hope you get the call from Don Martin.

pre-interview jitters

i have 90 minutes before my interview and it just hit me - this is absolutely the last chance I have to do something towards getting admitted. my last interview of the season. damn, i'm nervous.

Friday, May 07, 2004

Wharton / London Updates

Got an email from W admissions yesterday announcing that they have moved up the decision date to May 13. I don't know what this means but I'm not thinking of it. Only one more week of waiting left.

Fixed my LBS interview for tomorrow. It's at the office of the alum, am looking forward to it. Getting out of work early tonite to do some reading and go over my entire application once again. I hope I can get a good night's sleep, it's been 2-3 AM this entire week. Their decision is due May 14.

So, end of next week it is. I am getting sweaty palms already. Recent events at work have brought home the realization how big a deal this is. I can't continue to do what I am doing, I will be cheating myself. I think i'll vent in another post but at this point, it is the impending decisions that are still keeping me at work.

oh god, i so hope i get accepted.

Tuesday, May 04, 2004

Wharton R3 clarification

There was this follow-up email on s2s about the reasoning behind their decision not to release any stats. Thanks for the update, TanniaH.

Yes. If stats were released, everyone would spend the next three weeks calculating the statistics, chances, percentages, etc. And none of those stats really tell any single person what their chances are, since every single application is different and some are stronger than others.

Two eyars ago, I was one of the hundreds of people that lost sight of this as I waited for the R3 decisions to be released. While there weren't many spots left, luckily, there was one seat for me. I was very grateful that I didn't know the odds during those difficult last weeks

LBS Update

I finally received an email from my alum interviewer. Apparently, he had not receieved my earlier emails. In any case, he was extremely kind and offered to be very flexible in choosing a date to talk with me. I am going to be extremely tied up this week at work, so looks like it's going to be this saturday, pending his OK.

Monday, May 03, 2004

Who is Yogi ?

According to Googlism, among other things, :

yogi is me
yogi is a wanted dog
yogi is need of a loving home in ny
yogi is hard to find
yogi is 10 and half months old now
yogi is perhaps one of the most quoted personalities of our time
yogi is not an ordinary book
yogi is thought to have made this statement to his wife one morning after a hard twilight doubleheader
yogi is smarter than the average bear
yogi is competent enough to guide the whole humanity towards the ultimate goal of life
yogi is hibernating
yogi is expected to be available on the company's web site this month
yogi is the result of the evaporation of surface water deposited by ancient floods
yogi is one bear that i kinda like
yogi is about a meter in diameter
yogi is a person of high spritual stature but he or she is definitely a work in progress
yogi is not a funny guy
yogi is not only the fountain of knowledge and discipline but also is someone we trust
yogi is still a little confused in his new surroundings
yogi is the first mars rock confirmed to have a basaltic composition


Wharton & London non-updates

My London alumni interviewer has not gotten back to me yet. Sent him a friendly reminder email and still no news. If I don't hear from him by this PM, I have to get back to the LBS folks and see what's going on.

And, on the Wharton front, it's waiting time, which isn't helped by the fact that there is no news out of Huntsman about the status of # of seats still open after the R1/R2 acceptance deadlines have passed. Here's a post on s2s from TanniaH :

Sorry - in this situation, the adcomm has decided that additional information would do more harm than good. If you think there is only one spot left, versus 100 spots, you'll spend the next few weeks figuring out the odds for the whole pool, which really doens't tell you anything about your own chances.

Believe me, I know this is a really tough thing to swallow, but trust that this is better for all involved.

I must say I don't understand this at all. We know that there were 67 acceptances last year (R3+WL). Now, if there are more seats open than that, or even the same, I would think it would be a good thing for people to know. The only 'harm' at this stage would be news that all seats are filled up or that they have very very few.

I do admire very much the unparalleled openness of Wharton's admission process, and this unusual language suggests (to the pessimist in me) that some bad news is on its way and they are looking for a decent way to break it. But, I would be very glad to be proven wrong :-)