Sunday, April 24, 2011

Allez Les Bleus!

the chant i heard in the stadium today...

which stadium?

why the bercy stadium in paris!

what were you doing in paris?

watching ice hockey!

oh wow - who was playing?

france vs. canada!

and what a match twas. To make it even more interesting, i was watching it with a frenchman and a canadian. the latter being the "true" hockey fan. the former being a true frenchman - i.e. quite patriotic :)

and the best part of this story is that i was not supposed to go to this match. apparently these two decided to buy me a ticket. or rather - lie to me: that they had already bought me a ticket to see my reaction. if i did not freak out (which i didn't do) they would buy the ticket. and so they did. and they told me this after i got on the train to paris so there was basically no turning back!

hilarious. i'm glad they did it. was quite the match and quite the experience.

now to do that... studying thing... yeah... exams start in 3 days. so many barbecues to attend before though... time to prioritize!

Thursday, April 21, 2011

National Weeks!

Life here at INSEAD is filled with diversity. Yes, I know that message is really overplayed by me.

But I have to say - where else in the world are you constantly bombarded by a set of principles that seem so strange to you, even after 2 months of being in an environment. That blows my mind. I am constantly finding new ways of doing things. New conflicts between people. New stereotypes. And the constant learning in the classroom and within social contexts, blows my mind.

To add to that - we have National Weeks every couple of months... Latinos, Israelis, the Iron Curtain, Heart of Europe, to name a few.

Let me explain. Every year we have a "Bid Night" when different groups of people get together and decide that they want to take over the campus for a week in the following semester. That entire week is filled with activities from dinners and dances to talks about culture and job opportunities in the specific region. For a week INSEAD becomes that nationality.

Sometimes people pair us, as is the case with Indians and Pakistanis, to create Desi Week (which I'm now heavily involved in). We are putting together a video to present to our classmates, figuring out catering of food & beverages for the "Bid Night" later in May, and trying to figure out the most unique "value proposition" we can present to our fellow classmates so they vote for us. There are several groups like this out there - apparently there's a PIGS group (Portuguese, Irish, Greek, and Spanish)... the Brits want to work with the Americans and Australians in an "Empire Strikes Back" theme and so on and so forth...

I'm quite looking forward to this. And I wanted to share the madness with you. We are currently in the middle of Israeli week FYI. And the food was GREAT last night (at their National Week Dinner). The Latinos sponsored a World Cup.

And I know what you're thinking - STEREOTYPES! But again, they exist for a reason and if they are addressed and explained as they are during these events, then people are so much better informed. And in the context of business, you gain a sense of cultural acumen.

Tuesday, April 19, 2011

Period Numero Dos

Apply yo-self. That is all I can think to myself.

This term, or period as we refer to it, has been absolutely non-stop.

OK fine, I did take a break to Berlin, Istanbul, and Amsterdam BUT STILL!

Sigh. Feeling sheepish for complaining? Yes. But I wasn't about to complain. I was going to say the following: This period is full of core classes that are a mixture of Qualitative and Quantitative work. There is a lot being thrown at us, and even without realizing it, I remember things from the last period.

SO I am inclined to think/believe/feel that the INSEAD model is actually doing quite well. Being thrown into the deep end can be quite a treat if you have some ability to coordinate your arms and legs to keep you afloat.

IF you conserve your energy, then you can almost swim comfortably to an area that you find desirable. And once there, you can get up, dust yourself off, and decide what next. That's kind of how I feel right now. I'm trying to see how much coordination exists within me as I try to stay afloat.

Last week was group assignments galore. This week all the individual homework is due. It is 9pm. I am in school at a cubicle looking out at the horizon upon which a recently set sun just bid me good night.

My apologies for delayed writing. Also, I just learned that I am a nominee for something like "Best of Blogging" which is quite exciting! The voting ends on April 29th so unless you'd like to spend your day remembering to vote for me then and also trying to keep watch on the "Royal Wedding" I suggest you check out and vote now! Or not. Just keep reading is good enough voting for me :) to chime in!

Sunday, April 17, 2011

Model United Nations

Loving my time here at INSEAD. As you obviously know.

And one thing that was recently brought to my attention, once again, was the diversity of the population in dealing with ethical issues.

This was a story I was often told when I was first applying to INSEAD and I can tell you now it is quite true. A certain nationality turns to the class and starts a story, "As we were deciding on budgets for the fiscal year, we had to allocate at least 20,000 to operational expenses." Which insights a question, "Why can't you just reallocate that or thin some of the fat?" To which a student basically replies, "Because it is the cost of doing business in XYZ."

And then there's a moment that passes as the recognition sets in. The cost of doing business is essentially to grease the wheels.

Now before you start your holier-than-thou JUST take a minute and ask yourself a few questions... what is compensation really? What is a bonus? What are bonuses attached to "performance" and what kind of behaviors do they insight?

Oh, sorry, Behaviours. I need to keep a check on that.

My point exactly. You can spell it differently, but it is still the same thing.


Anyhow, a thought I wanted to share that sent the class into a spin and made me think about my passion for Model United Nations. Somehow that passion had resurfaced when I started the b-school applications and HERE I am - in what I would argue is probably the most diverse place I will ever be in for the rest of my life.

And assimilate I will!

What? I'm in France. I need to eat desserts to assimilate!

Saturday, April 9, 2011

The Heineken Experience

Amsterdam is known for many things.

that will now be one of them :)

Did you know that there are smiling Es in the Heineken for a reason?
And did you know that the founder received an HONORARY degree from INSEAD? 

Recognizing True Potential, INSEAD.
So many "Did you know" moments here, so I will not bore you. Instead let me share some pictures!

I don't know WHO thought this would sell beer...
Bubbles fighting to get out!
Secret Potion: "A" Yeast

That's about all I have right now from this experience. It is worth it, definitely, and they even have these great gift ideas. If you like green, you'll enjoy it. If you like beer, you'll enjoy it. If you like randomness, you'll also enjoy it - at one point they put you in a room with a "ride" and turn you into beer. I kid you not.

Then again, what can you expect from a place where the breakfast menu options are the following:
English Breakfast

This was only 2 hours of the entire weekend. More to come! Pics and so on...

Sunday, April 3, 2011

1983 - 2011

Not my life. But during my life. Almost precisely during my entire lifetime. India lifts the World Cup and I was able to watch the match Live here at INSEAD with my Desi brothers and sisters... cheering nonstop even when Sehwag and Tendulkar were out because THAT is the true Indian spirit. Believe in the team.


Congrats... Celebrations all 'round!

The final shot. Have a look.

Saturday, April 2, 2011


Cricket Fever that is.
Yes, Cricket.

Now those of you that know me - and if you have this link you probably know me rather well - I don't really watch Cricket. I used to back in Bangkok with family because it was fun to watch it amongst family & friends or generally people of Desi origin. At Vassar we didn't have TVs. Since then, I just never tried to seek out Cricket matches.

Largest population of any nation: Indians. Add Pakistanis and others of Desi Origin who might not have Indian/Pakistani passports and you've got the closest to what you might call a "majority" loosely defined by "race" at INSEAD.

Last week, during the Pakistan vs. India match, the spirit was intense. It was contagious. It was nostalgic. It was patriotic. It was good fun. It was filled with friendly banter and the loud cheering so common of matches but peppered with Desi jokes, puns, slurs, slang - all the mish-mash you'd want from a game you're watching at home with a group of friends.

We had Romanians siding with Pakistanis. French asking about rules. Lebanese getting generally rowdy and trying to rile up the crowd. Canadians buying rounds of beers when a wicket was conceded. Italians, Spaniards, Japanese... you name it. The entire INSEAD community was getting involved. More like taken over.

And I felt the fever. I felt the funk through my veins. And I was glued, once more, to the match. Even during classes people were checking scores and Professors were very understanding. They understood the rivalry.

But I have to say, the "rivalry" was fought with so much fun and general sportsmanship that I don't think I've ever had such an experience. There was a lot of yelling and cheering and boo-ing but in the end, we were all genuinely enjoying watching the match together. Indians in Blue. Pakistanis in Green. Random strangers watching either match getting roped into sitting on a certain side and trained to yell at certain times.

Good times. Great times.

And now we have a match about to start in an hour or so. A bar in Fonty has agreed to sponsor food & drink specials while screening the match on their projector for the Indian community to watch our Cricket team lay a claim for the World Cup trophy - and I'll just say what's on everyone's mind. 21 years. 99 centuries. Is there any more pressure we can lay on the poor guy? Give him a break.

And try to remember - the trophies he has claimed and the life he has devoted to his nation before you get too excited or depressed by his performance. I genuinely hope he enjoys this match - takes a deep breath when he gets on the pitch - and gives it his best. It is what it is. At the end of the day, it is (dare I say it) just a game and one that should be played for the love of the sport.