Friday, October 14, 2016

Call for Reviewing a Consulting Resume

Placement season has kicked-off at our B-school in its full glory, and our good friend from the on-campus cafe finally fell prey to the FOMO. He's designed a resume for consulting opportunities and would love it if you could help him improve on it with your extremely valuable feedback.

The primary suggestion from his last review was: "You have a lot of meat on your resume, which is not coming out. Also, thoda aur quantify karo!"


Mukhdev Singh, Mukh-e


Harcourt Butler Sr. Secondary Boys’ School
AISSCE - CBSE Examination | Major: Commerce (2012 – 2013)

Elected President – Student Association of Conflict Management, Class of 2013
- Led a team of 15+ handpicked student body representatives to successfully resolve ~32 inter-school conflicts through use of group negotiation tactics such as power of threat and displaying unparalleled physical capabilities
- Decreased conflict resolution time by over 50% through avoidance of third-party interference by assigning 3 neutral venues for on-ground resolution

Mentored 350+ students on biological reproductive functions through graphical representations at breeding grounds for STDs such as public bathrooms, thus contributing to health education and gender sensitization

Provided pro-bono consulting to ~8 small scale entrepreneurs within 2 km radius of the school on expansion of product portfolio from only tobacco products to goods that would meet the changing needs of the ageing target customer segment


ChuChu’s Cafe | Manager – Nocturnal Operations and Client Relationship Management (Apr, 2014 – Present)

Strategy & Operations Management
- Increased carbohydrates retention rate by 2X in 70+ customers through facilitating consistently growing nocturnal sales over a period of 10 months

- Reduced lead time of order delivery by 50% through implementation of a pilot program requiring customer and delivery executive to meet at product delivery stations designated at the mid-points of 3 delivery routes

- Saved lives of 260+ poultry members through implementing of a post 3 am customer denial strategy, consequently promoting consumption of vegetarian products and furthering the organization’s green initiative

- Instituted a manual assembly chain capable of handling 5 orders per capita every 10 minutes, thereby saving INR 1 Million in avoided capital investment in mechanized technology

- Changed sugar to mocktail syrup ratio from 0.5:1.5 to 1:1 thereby saving annual direct material costs by INR 0.1 Million

Marketing & Brand Development
- Repackaged existing products as bundled offerings, marketed during sporting events with team-based branding to extract a price premium of 100%

- Improved customer perception of indigenous items such as ‘Rajma Chawal’ by rebranding them as ‘Mexican Chipotle Rice’ with minimal change in ingredients, thereby capturing ~35% of a 5-star competitor’s target customers on each day of implementation

- Designed and executed an ‘Exam Time Breakfast Campaign’ 14 times p.a. to increase breakfast revenues by 3X by capitalizing on customer vulnerabilities

- Offered only 2 games for play while displaying empty boxes of 15+ board games in a locked cabinet, thus increasing youth-appeal of the brand while saving annual costs of INR 0.05 Million

- Improved customer relations by ‘liking’ 100% posts of ~85% customers on social media in line with the personal relationship building mission statement of the organization leading to increased customer loyalty translating into top-line contribution of over INR 2.5 Million p.a. 


- Published Whitepapers: Authored a whitepaper on orders delivered in a day, published in the order manual of the organization, forming the benchmark for accounting across various retail outlets of the company

- Participated in 600+ street plays across 3 cities, creating social awareness about incestuous tendencies among peers, vocalizing them openly to sensitize the local population about this widespread social evil

- Considered best player out of ~1200 males across age groups in the tri-city of Chandigarh, Mohali and Panchkula in a self-conducted primary research that rated participants on charm and ability to engage and influence members of the opposite gender, thus contributing towards gender equity through generating benefits for all genders  


Please remember that this is a humor blog and has no resemblance to any person, living or dead.

Our actual on-campus all-night cafe attendant, Sukh-e, is an absolute sweetheart and possibly the favorite of ~89% people on campus, including those who have their significant others in close proximity for this one year. The remaining 11% are those who don't get out of their rooms and have probably never seen the light of the day. Sukh-e's picture has been used with his permission.

Also, I must add that this man is one of the most loved people on the ISB campus and everyone from the PGP Class of 2016 and 2017 can vouch for the dedication with which he serves us all and performs his duties, always with an endearing smile :)

Sukh-e, count this as your belated birthday gift. We love you! "To the moon and back." Or any other such idiom that girls on my facebook feed or our Operations Director - GSB Core, Co 2017 use on the PGP WhatsApp group to express their love.


Credit must also be given to Anand MS who came up with the idea of working on such a document during a 3 am conversation this morning. This guy is one of the wittiest figs on this campus, along with apartment mate extraordinaire for the year, Aravindh Kamakshinadha. These pseudo-elite TamBrahms, I tell you!

Saturday, September 17, 2016

How to Punctuate Your Expression of Love

Don’t keep that expression of love hanging without punctuation. Without punctuation, it’s open ended – waiting for life to decide the course this companionship will take. Almost as if we hold no control over what might happen of us, the lack of a punctuation mark leaves too much ambiguity. It’s as if you make a statement but lack the courage to commit to it. It’s not a stickler for grammar who commands this, but a pedant of the science of you.

Don’t punctuate your expression of love with a comma. A comma grants you the power to add more recipients to the expression. Exclusivity is probably the emotion’s greatest asset, and I would hate to imagine that you think it’s depreciable. The comma comes as a precursor to the ‘but’. You say you love me, but I can’t take a condition that would dilute the intensity of just those three words. With a ‘but’, it’s never the same.

Don’t punctuate your expression of love with a colon. It’s as if you’ll explain why you do. Don’t love me for my looks or my education or for the way I talk. Love me for the whole of me, unquestioned and unexplained. I wish for it to be a love inexplicable, beyond the realm of logic and reason. Emotions don’t see reason; they just drive all your actions straight. I don’t want to know why you do what you do to me. Don’t explain and put me to shame.

Don’t punctuate your expression of love with a dash. You’re either again trying to explain your emotions, or separating two clauses apart. I would hate for this to be associated with a symbolism for separation. You could hyphenate, yes. But let that be just our names together. And, let others call us with our joint name. Just don’t punctuate your expression of love with a dash. It’s discomforting and out of place.

Don’t punctuate your expression of love with a question mark, for reasons I would hate to explain. Don’t use an exclamation to punctuate it either, for what surprises you now may not be as amusing three days from now. Don’t punctuate your expression of love with an asterisk – like you’re explaining a mistake in the footnote of the biography you will write someday. And, don’t punctuate it with a tilde at all. It’s not an approximation of love that I seek.

Punctuate your expression of love with a period. It’s sure, deterministic, undoubted and unperturbed. Use a full stop and explain no further. Show me that the expression won’t change. I know that a period can be changed to an ellipsis and the course of the future may change. But in this moment, at this time, let the power of those three words remain.

Image Source:

Wednesday, August 10, 2016

Early Appeal to the MBA Class of '17

ISB is a thrilling place. It’s a new experience. For me, personally, it’s the first time that I’m away from home; away from family.

Right before I came here in April, my friends threw me a farewell party. They asked me what I was looking forward to most in the year ahead. The answer was easy – living away from family for the first time. I was looking forward to being independent, finally living the hostel life, and of course, making two-hundred-and-eighty-five new friends for life.

Well, I have found friends; a few people who genuinely, sincerely care. Friends who have taken care of me while I’ve been sick, held me when I’ve broken down (maybe once, yes, embarrassingly), and those who have laughed at the stupidest of my jokes not because I was funny, but because they knew I was looking for a reaction from them.

If you can relate to this, I would say that you’re extremely, blessed by the Lord, lucky. I’ve been lucky too. But among all of this, we tend to forget how being alone and being lonely are two completely different things. Between all the groups and squads that we see around, there are more people wanting to feel accepted into a family, a gang, a group of friends that they could call their own.

Much against my expectation of the place, I know how many of our peers crave to feel accepted without having to make as much effort as they are making to fit in. I don’t know if it’s about living away from home for the first time or the extreme competitiveness of the place that gets to you, but I myself have had more than a fair number of bouts of loneliness. I would never have admitted it here, had it not been for the number of people I have met in the past three weeks who have confessed of feeling the same, despite their happy exterior and so called “groups” that most others identify them with. I’ve seen people confess this with tears in their eyes, late in the night when no one has been around. I have heard people confess this during their late night walks around the campus. I have witnessed these confessions in the confinement of the quads, with sobs almost suppressed for them to not escape the walls outside of which they hold a happy front.

I would never have admitted to my own vulnerability, had it not been this undertone that so silently spreads across campus, surprisingly unnoticed, but definitely deeply and very personally felt. I don’t know how I have been a witness to so many confessions. I can’t say.

I would want you to know that there are so many people here who may be looking at your group from afar, wishing they had found friends like yours, hoping that maybe one or two terms down, they might find some company in misery. You may not be aware of how most of them feel because they don’t show it. A few others may have already been labelled as people who try too hard and are therefore uncomfortable to be around. Somewhere, behind this whole attempt to build perspective on life and business, we’ve lost the ability to see within people’s hearts, wait and make conversation with someone new and at least get to know them. Maybe they won’t have the courage to tell you how lonely they feel, but may be, for that half an hour, a conversation that you make would be all they need to hold on and keep hope alive for the next eight months to come.

I am admitting to my feelings today not because I need a vent to deal with it, but because I hope this will give courage to people who are trying to deal with it, to admit to it without shame. I also hope this will make the others aware of their duty towards the ISB community, and bring in a little more human touch.

Also, my feelings aside, I would like to thank Ashwin Chandrasekher. I cannot begin to explain how thankful I am to have found this person. He has been my anchor here. I hope everyone on this campus finds a friend like you.

Image Source: Aravind Balagi Prasad

Wednesday, July 27, 2016

What it feels like to be a Dumb Child

“He’s the most talkative boy in class, but also really smart, and my favorite.”

It’s difficult being one of the top scorers in class, and lucky. Definitely lucky. To begin with, there’s a high chance that you have parents who really care for your brilliance in academic pursuits, while also stuffing a buffet plate of extra-curricular activities down your throat. And then, there’s the diligence with which you prepare for class tests or exams – mostly out of the fear of not making the parental Shiva open his third eye. For a top scorer, life begins with a fear of meeting expectations, first of the Mata-Pita who believe their child is an incarnation of Vishnu; and then, a few years later, expectations of everyone around, which the protagonist will disguise in the words “expectations from self”.

While this may sound supremely immodest, I have lived my share of being an “intelligent boy” over the years, mostly by accident. All my cousins were asked to be as smart as I was, when the only basis of evaluating smartness was a figure assigned to you by the Board of Secondary Education at a time when you were already bored of secondary education. The sibling would be given a hard time with multiple applications requesting emulation of the elder brother’s behavior of a susheel, adarshvaadi and ten on ten scoring individual. Teachers in school found it easy to nominate students for council positions just like people in the neighborhood found it easy to nominate me as a friend for their children’s social circles. The perks were there, of course, as was a belief in the golden rule that hard work paid off.

The hard work gradually translated to guilt when I grew up and realized that I was doing better at exams by studying on the last day, while a few of my friends put in much more effort, studying for days and still wouldn’t manage to touch a rank worthy of a discussion. The guilt would make me work a little harder, in an attempt to justify to self that I probably deserved the kind of academic “success” I had so far seemed to accidentally achieve. People would come up to me for advice and inspiration, and I would silently thank my parents for having pushed me enough through the years to help develop those mental faculties, while I doled out life advice like it was a batch of fresh, puffy bhature from the local sweet shop on a Sunday morning.

However, the academic fa├žade aside, I would feel like an absolute fool for not having any interest in political happenings around the world, being so non-opinionated about things that seemed to matter in this age and time, sucking monkey balls at Math, and generally, being an over-emotional goofball who was far away from achieving the more important goals in life, like being “street smart”. But I would hold the blanket of academic scores closer, hoping the shroud wouldn’t fall off in a gust of wind and make everyone realize how stupid I really am, and so undeserving of all the things that so happened. The impostor syndrome, clearly, is not a gender specific disorder.

Circa 2016 brought with itself an opportunity to spend a year with some of the country’s best brains at one of India’s top B-schools, also known as a parallel universe so confined in these few self-sustaining acres that the world has literally been crushed to a patch of land that I temporarily call home. With the rigorous curriculum, I feel literally cut off from life outside of this campus, while ironically gaining wider perspective about global business in such confinement.

As one accidental entry among a group of deserving peers, I now find myself scrounging for an opportunity to excel, while the others sprint through academic rigor and performance with such elan. The shroud finally slips and in all honesty, I feel more than judged on a number of occasions.

I constantly seem to live in the anxiety of people judging me on my academic grades, and disregarding all value that any other skill could bring. Even though I know people have better channels to invest their leisure thoughts in, it makes me wonder if this anxiety is what every child goes through who feels he is unable to meet their parents’ expectations of academic outperformance.

I try really hard to grasp concepts requiring high quantitative abilities with as much swiftness as my peers from engineering backgrounds do. I acknowledge how their training in quantitative subjects over the years gives them an edge in this regard, and I should not beat myself about it. But it makes me wonder how much a person’s experiences and learnings over the years contribute to their intellectual placement in the social hierarchy. It clearly does, and it’s sad when I realize that outside of this campus, the world is brutal enough to quickly pass judgment and call someone stupid while completely disregarding the various tangibles and intangibles one may have been blessed with as a matter of pure luck, which may have led to that academic advantage.

Having underperformed on one criterion that is of prime importance at this “school”, the blow to my confidence permeates to other areas of my life. I question my worth in this place. I question my ability to make a difference in anyone’s life. I wonder, and then I, at times, succumb to the more comfortable yet exceedingly difficult to perform activity of letting go. While I find my way through this place and attempt to make my own little space, I wonder how difficult it must be to go through the same outside of this confinement, when the population size is large and thankfully more heterogeneous.

As I feel gratitude for the plethora of opportunities this place provides, I feel more thankful for the learning I will take back in terms of valuing each individual for their strengths beyond parameters of academic performance, monetary growth, social popularity or other such criteria that tend to give us a sense of superiority over others.

As a “dumb child” that the society I currently see would seem to call me, I can assure you that I have tried and I will continue to do so. But I would need the world to encourage me enough so that I find my own criterion to outperform on during my time here on this planet. I would hope you will continue to do so regardless of the size of your planet.

"He's the most talkative guy in class, and also my favorite."

Image Source:

Wednesday, July 6, 2016

Serendipity (Guest Post)

My father met my mother at a bus stop.

He had been late that day. He’d gotten late because a pigeon had entered his apartment and he had had to shoo it out before he left. How fate works, he muses, every time he tells us the story. So after a terrible morning, he had left home cursing the Universe, a young adult travelling to get to his first job with sleep on his mind and a calculator in his hand.

At the bus stop he saw an entirely different set of people today, being there himself an hour later than usual. He saw a girl standing with her friend, in a long green skirt and with a flower in her hair. Not a gajra that would hang by a plait the way it did on most Indian women. No, her hair was open and flying all over the place and the flower was pivoted right above her ear. Hibiscus, he says. But mom swears it was a rose. Anyway, it didn’t serve any real purpose except to attract his attention.

“The bus reaches by 10 everyday, I don’t know why it’s so late today!” she whined, half-smiling. It was 10.10 then, dad says. And then, he says, she looked at him and smiled, oblivious to the light emanating from her soul and the little hipster city she single handedly created inside the ventricles of his rural geeky heart. I think he meant he fell in love but it seemed too abrupt a decision, so he decided to go with being poignant.

I’d seen pretty girls smile at me before; he says when we accuse him of being easy to please. He says this was different. How?  We ask.  Oh I don’t know. I just wanted to see her smile again. And again. Forever.

And as it happened, for weeks and weeks he’d leave home late and work late just to see my mother at the bus every day. He wouldn’t talk to her or even make eye-contact. He’d just wait for her to smile. And she did, his 50 year old cheeks still blush as he tells us, Every day she’d turn and smile and make my mornings beautiful.

Finally one morning it was raining and my mother’s friend was absent. She saw my father standing under an umbrella and asked if she could share it. It’s not like he offered it or anything, he was so shy, my mother usually likes to join in the story at this point, after a few minutes of blushing and ‘oh-you’ing. That’s when they spoke for the first time, and my father learned that mother would cut morning class every day, and so he asked her to attend it so he could go to work on time. Then onwards, she’d catch the 9 am bus with him every morning.

And he’d buy me a rose everyday for my hair, mum says as if to wrap up the story.

They narrate this so often, I begin to think they are trying to make a point. I finally ask them after one of their routine Sunday morning narrations of how they met, what is it they are trying to tell me?

Wait for someone who’ll put effort into you, says Dad.

Mom smiles and takes me to the kitchen. That’s true, she says, I didn’t even notice him much to begin with, but I’d see his eyes light up when I smiled at him, so I smiled at him. I knew he was getting late. Every day. But once I’d smiled his way he’d stop fidgeting with his pocket pen and checking the time and just sit up straight and beam at nothingness. But even though the effort bit is true, that’s not my intention of telling you the story.

Well what is it? I ask.

She smiles her miracle of a smile at me and says; Never touch anything with half your heart.

This post appeared originally on Ayeesha Khanna's blog here, and has been reproduced with permission. She is one of my favorite bloggers and there's some beautiful writing on her blog: Lazy and the Overthinker

Sunday, June 5, 2016


I don’t really know if preparing for a loss insulates your pain from the loss when it actually occurs. With all the men in my family bald, and my dad holding on to a hairline that receded not over a few inches, I always knew I would grow up to be a bald man. It was difficult to imagine how one loses one’s hair little by little, almost at a pace which shows only in timelines defined by images printed on Kodak paper. And as a school going kid, I never knew how I would deal with it when the inevitable happens. I just knew that it would happen someday. Like all things that you expect would happen in your life – marriage, kids, family, job, responsibilities, baldness.

I remember writing the twelfth grade pre-Board exams, when I ran my fingers through my thick mane and around seven-eight strands of hair fell on the examination sheet. I brushed it off like it was eraser residue. There were bigger issues to take care of, like admissions in University of Delhi. The bigger things seemed sorted less than a couple of months from then, with spring and monsoon and autumn. But my biological functions seemed to have developed a special relationship with autumn, holding on to it like it was its first love, and then showing its love for the season through a representation of it on my head. Imitation is the best form of flattery, it seems.

I lost hair at a pace that was not really visible to others possibly because I was never lucky enough to have someone else take a shower with me. The Dadi understood my pain though. Palms full of almond oil would be massaged onto my head every night. And, sarson ka tel. Then some Amla. Then some Citridora. Olive oil. Chameli. Cooking oil too, maybe. I could never tell.

The Mother had her own set of remedies. Spoons full of almond powder with pepper and sugar. Then I was put on a diet of lauki juice and Baba Ramdev’s nail polish routine with Anulom Vilom, Kapaal Bhaati and a couple of other nasal exercises that made me sound like I could be the brand ambassador for Hawkin’s new silent pressure cookers – the ones that come with whistles that can only hiss. But again, that’s wishful thinking for a balding man.

My parents realized soon after that the only way to calm me down was to take me to a dermatologist. The first and the best thing that the doctor suggested was not to put any more oil on my head. I was prescribed a couple of tablets, a few supplements and Minoxidil. That sweet little potion made by the devil. Minoxidil.

Soon, the Dadi’s daily routine included questioning the doctor’s qualifications because who is stupid enough to not suggest sarson ka tel to cure baldness. The fact that my grandfather is bald and still polishes his pate with sarson ka tel, apparently, speaks wonders about the product’s effectiveness.
Anyhoo, Minoxidil became my messiah. It “arrested” my hair fall in less than fifteen days, just like the little usage manual suggested. The volume of hair on my head had started improving and I could preen like I was Shahrukh Khan of my college campus. Or so I believed.

By the time I was done with my undergrad three years later, my hair had stuck around in its full glory. I have pictures on my facebook profile as proof – the same pictures that people look at and say, “Wow, you used to look so good” – which now brings me to the next part of the story.

I don’t know if I can convey it the way I actually felt it, and I’m probably going to do it at the risk of sounding super vain – Hair loss, for me, has been extremely hard to deal with.

The effect of Minoxidil pretty much wore off by the time I started with my CA articleship training. I could see my hair thinning. I would blame it on the nature of work, the stress of the Goliath exams I had to take, and many-a-time on the occasional break-ups. You know, how your insecurities hit you hardest at the places where it hurts the most?

I was probably the youngest and the first in my set of friends to be going through the terror. They say how men think about coitus every two minutes. For me, that coitus was hair loss – that too not at the right places; if you know what I mean.

I would cry myself to sleep on a lot of days – affected by instances such as a boy on the street asking me to pass the ball, addressing me as “uncle”. There was a time when I was told I looked much younger than my actual age, and then transitioning to the phase in your life when people who meet you for the first time begin to ask you if you’re married, when you’re all of the age of twenty-three is kinda-sorta disturbing to say the least. For a break-up for which I never got an explanation, I would link it to my hair loss and consequent “ugly looks”. It sounds silly, really; but then that’s what our insecurities make us, no? Really, really silly!

I started a treatment with one of the leading trichology centres in the capital. It brought some very visible difference to my hair, and over the years, I seemed to have kind of made peace with the gradual loss. Or so it only seemed.

Enter post-grad. I recently moved away from home to a new town. It’s a town with some very good looking people as I would always openly admit. Well, if you ask me, I’ve never really been attracted to a person on the basis of their looks. Their personality and the kind of conversations they make have always been my weak spot. However, I don’t know why one happens to assume the worst about the others and think of their judgment as skewed. Again, maybe, it’s just the insecurities playing their little game that I think most others would like or dislike me based on how good or bad I look on the scale of physical attractiveness. It is really embarrassing to admit to this at the age of twenty-five – just like it is to admit to a lot of other things that go on in our heads. It’s bloody pathetic how you can’t even admit to these things openly lest you be thought of as a vain idiot, or an insecure little wuss, or too immature for your age, or someone fishing for sympathy guised as compliments to give you some social validation. It’s frikkin’ sad how such social validation even matters as much as it does. Probably as much as wanting to get into a McKinsey right after an MBA because that sounds like the next best thing to add to one’s list of accomplishments.

So while I’m airing my dirty laundry, why not admit to nights when I’ve been mopey and sad AT THE AGE OF FRIKKIN’ TWENTY FIVE, worrying about how I will probably never be loved as much as many others who do not have to deal with this shit. I realize how stupid this is while I write it, and I’ll probably go hide my face under a rock when this goes up on the blog. But again, this blog started as an exercise to expose my vulnerabilities and face my fears, and I must do justice to the whole plan I’ve been following by openly admitting to this and getting it off my chest.

I recently shaved off all the hair on my head. It may have looked like this one moment of craziness to those who witnessed it in person. To anyone who asked, I mentioned that I did it because I just felt crazy and it was such a spontaneous action. You say these things because they now go with the image you project – a man with a shaved head. A man with a shaved head is either a Buddhist monk (which I clearly am not), or some really crazy brother of Raghu Ram from MTV Roadies, who will do all these crazy things and not give a rat’s ass about social approval.

But again, I shaved my head for a reason which is probably the most common reason for people to shave their heads for – hair loss. And while it makes me feel extremely liberated, with not a care for what my hair looks like, it also makes me feel weird thinking that I no longer look like the simple CA that I am. I will probably have to build some muscle now and show my fist to people when I meet them, jokingly acting like I will punch their face. Living up to an image, again. So to avoid all of that non-sense and to really not give a rat’s ass about social approval (as all bald men are expected not to), here was the story of why I shaved my head.

It’ll probably take some amount of getting used to – for my family, my friends, my clients and above all, myself. I’ll have to give it enough time to not be surprised by what I look like in the mirror. I’ll have to get used to being called Taklu, Ganju Patel, Rakesh Roshan and the like – all funny names, really. But then again, I’ll probably live in the hope that someday, someone might call me a Dwayne Johnson. Or better still, Sarthak Ahuja.

Picture and Head Shave Credits: Ashwin Chandrasekher