Saturday, October 22, 2005

The class format and the profs

Let me talk a little about how the classes were in term 1 and something about the profs. I recently read a small blog entry somewhere from a woman who had visited classes in Columbia, HBS and Stanford. I thought the comments were pretty interesting and I never myself thought how different a particular class could be and even if it is, how much of a difference in your learning it could make.

Recently, since the admissions process has started heating up at Fuqua, I have seen prospective student visitors sit at the back of my class. They are usually welcomed nicely by the profs. at the beginning and the students sometimes clap for them if the situation makes it kinda unavoidable (you know, sometimes the awkward pause needs to be filled with something ;-)). They usually sit for half the class and then disappear after the break. I have seen them through the corners of my eye during lectures and thought to myself, "This dude ought to be impressed.". But jokes apart, I honestly don't know what they take away from the visit and what they write in their respective blogs (!), but I thought that it would be interesting to write about classes at Fuqua.

So lemme cover the 3 classes that we had in term 1, Stats, MICRO-ECON and ME.

PROBABILITY & STATISTICS: Probability and Stats is pretty much your typical math class with a lot of learning from traditional lecturing, doing problems in class and students asking questions. There are occasions when the class is involved in a discussion about how good or bad statistics can be for example, or how a *random* sampling among population can be biased. Sometimes, when team assignments are due at the beginning of a class, one team is chosen (by volition mostly) to present its solution to everyone and this lasts for about a half hour. The class is fairly fast-paced with a lot of topics being covered in a single lecture and then sometimes, you have a class where the lecturer spends more than half a class solving problems on the OHP and giving you a feel for how to approach problems. There are lots of slides (and two bundles of lots of slides sometimes!) and lecturing is the primary tool applied for teaching. The Prof. was Jill Stowe, a good natured woman who used to put up pictures of her 6 month old son Zack in between slides just to wake us up (we had early morning classes for stats!) Stats was also different from the other lectures in a way that it did not have mid-term exams. Instead we had 3 quizzes over the first 8 or 9 (out of 12) classes. The first quiz was monstrously tough and really grabbed everyone's attention to the course. Overall, quite rigorous and traditional course with a great prof. at the helm.

MANEGERIAL ECONOMICS: We had Jim Anton (by now, you must have heard the name couple of times!). He is a tall, well built, nice guy with a great demeanor. He is extremely punctual about class timings and usually walks up to the clock in the class, watches it closely, looks at the minute and (I think) the second hand and announces, "Please be back at 2:56". ECON, like ME, has a lot of reading to do before class and the class assumes that you have done it. Almost the whole class is interactive, from beginning to end with Jim asking people for their experiences in a grocery store, a convenience store, or with life in general, with cell phone companies, flights etc. In terms of theory, you learn a lot by reading a great book that is assigned as the required text for the course. The class, in my opinion, focuses more on the application of concepts that you have read. Jim also has a great way of plucking out topics and placing them in a real life in such a way that you will never forget. I think he is liked by many students for this, but the other reason why students like him so much is his classy and incredibly funny humour that is extremely tasteful.

Talking about learning how to apply concepts, he brings Wall Street Journal to almost every other class, puts it up on the OHP and discusses couple of articles from it for a few minutes. If you think that's practical, think about this: We played 2 economy games in class. We were grouped as suppliers or consumers, suppliers setting a price for 3 grades of a product and consumers choosing to buy one unit of one of those grade-products, such that they got maximum benefit when they bought it. Do this over and over again and you will see where price stabilizes in a market. In another game, we were the constituents of OPEC cartel and were asked to generally *supply* oil. The demand from the market of oil was fixed at a mathematical equation and depending on how your cartel performs, the constituents reaped profits. If a cartel constituent produced in excess to reap high short-term benefit, you saw excess supply in the market, eventually hurting the cartel operations and the constituent in the longer run. This is probably as practical as it gets in a classroom. Often, you came out of a class either thinking that what was discussed in class was vastly different from and had no connection to what you read, or if you did not read the assigned readings like.... umm.. you-know-who, you came out completely lost and panicking. However, at some point, when you are scared enough to sit down and (re-)read the chapters in the book, it all starts making sense (and making a lot of sense in real life!) That is how powerful this course was.

MANAGERIAL EFFECTIVENESS: Last, and by no means the least was the much talked about, much loved and much hated, ME. I don't know where to begin as I think about this course. Ah yes, class format. The pre-class readings were a lot in this class and every class had a case to be discussed. The readings were from books, sometimes articles and research publications. The readings were many and you had to spend a couple of hours before each class to finish the readings and the case. You also had to take a pre-class survey before 10 PM the previous night. These surveys consisted of general questions or questions based on the case. This was one class that went completely by discussions and students involvement. No one can lecture managerial effectiveness into your head. People shared their thoughts from the case reading and also sometimes their experiences in previous jobs. Due to the nature of the topic, sometimes you had heated debate between two groups of students, one, as an example, in favour of promoting the protagonist of the case, and one against the promotion. These cases were real life examples of ME at work. The surveys that we filled the night before were used to delve into the psychhology of a community and how they thought. It felt like this was a more of social psychology class at times. Overall, the lectures were handled very well by Rick but he always seemed like fighting against time because so many ideas were being discussed in class.

I can't even begin to explain the different tools used in this class. Let me try and put down the things that we did: Readings, case discussions, debates, results from experiments by researchers on social psychology, people behaviour etc., lecturing, results from surveys taken by students, and one role-play game. Typically, you had the first hour for discussions and the next hour for a combination of lecture and survey results analysis. This was one class that I think would have benefitted from more than 2 hours of class time, but my guess is that even that would have been consumed by discussions. If there was one class that had an electricity in the air during break and at the end, it was ME. The course was tough for most students because the topics were very controversial sometimes, or open to subjective interpretation, or at risk of being understood too *shallow-ly* or at face value perhaps, or concepts were too interconnected between classes, or because of personal opinions, biases and cultural, social or individual differences coming into play. (Ooh, man! That's all loaded stuff!) But not until you go through this course in some seriousness will you realize how difficult it is to manage a bunch of people in an organization.

So the experience of studying different subjects in a bschool is different. If you sit in a stats class, you would feel the class is more lecture-based with interactions mostly by means of questions and clarifications by students. It is practical with real life examples, but is mathematics that you are learning at the end of the day. Economics was very interactive with prof. engaging students and less lecturing. Students mostly self-learn the theory, with very practical applications being discussed in class. ME was very case- and readings-based with very engaging discussions and research-based learning. You might even think students are very competitive when they are debating in an ME class, but it's all a 'set-up'.

Also, a point to note that amazingly enough, these subjects linked to each other in subtle ways. For example, Game Theory from economics can be applied to ME concepts like *trading differences* instead of *splitting differences* when negotiating between your company and its labour union. It's a pretty direct application.

So attending lectures is useful in gaining an understanding of a school or business schools in general, but just a word of caution - beware of reading too much into it. Now I am beginning to get a grasp of why there are so many conflicting views on the internet about the top bschools. It is in the interest of learning in every bschool to have these different experiences. OK, that was a very management-type sentence that I should save for the recruiters; let me put it more simply. Different subjects need to be taught differently, and that is what all good bschools do, I am sure.

Tuesday, October 18, 2005

Of Led Zeppelin and cash flow

Yesterday, I wanted to celebrate fall break. I thought I will go to my favourite store, Barnes & Noble. The music collection it has is simply fantastic! They have kiosks that you can stand at and listen to previews of almost any song in the world. This is the store that I have spent 5-6 hours at a time, completely immersed in music, listening to previews of songs, deciding which album is the best introduction to an artist, which album has the most variety, maximum number of familiar songs... generally splurging and wallowing in music, spending the last penny of my savings on great music, be it jazz, classical, rock, pop, blues, soul or R&B or something as yet undiscovered by me.

However, yesterday was different. I went into the store. I went in with a firm will not to buy anything no matter what happens. (I don't plan to build up a suspense here, so let me say that I did not buy anything in the end!) But yesterday was the first time I said to myself, "Not earning money sucks! Big time!". I actually blurted out those words while I was at the store! :-) The stuff that I saw there cried out to my inner soul! Robert Johnson's blues were calling out to me and Led Zeppelin had yet another "tribute by various artists" to their credit. Yesterday, I realized how addicted I was to music. It actually felt like the days when I used to smoke. The urge is terrible and I would have picked up a CD, but for my iron-strong will... ;-)

It is actually hard to get used to living right within your needs. Even an occasional indulgence makes you feel guilty. Everyone tells the story of how they used to live during college days in 1000 or 2000 bucks (Rs.) a month. A few lucky ones get to tell the story of how they lived within a couple of 100 dollars a month after getting used to earning and spending 1000s on useless stuff like music CDs, iPod, Led Zeppelin branded incense sticks (yep! not very proud of that, I was in the moment!), never-even-touched Apple Macintosh version of computer (shooting) games. The list goes on, but for now, there's lull in this part of the world! Hopefully, a storm will follow (Yeeeaahhh, I'm going to buy BN!) ;-)

The fall break

I am in the fall break right now and it is quiet in here. I am in the computer lab in school. I got so tired of sitting at home with not much to do that I couldn't stand it and came here. We have a bunch of pre-assignments for the next term and they all look pretty heavy! Accounting is a whole lot of reading, finance seems manageable for now and marketing has a case and a few readings. I haven't even looked at them yet, will do so at the last minute perhaps. No, let me say this to myself, "I will do the readings well in time". "I will do the readings well in time". Maybe it will work.

Today, I saw the results of ECON paper in my locker and... let's just say I did well in that; in the final exam as well as overall grade-wise. I told you the ECON final would be the differentiator! Do well in final and you would do well overall. The average was relatively low and I was quite comfortably above average. And it did the trick! By the way, it looks like all my theorizing about price-discrimination and the two-part tariff applied to the Rolling Stones concert worked really well! Talking of two-part tariff, I had ton loads of seven-dollar-a-glass beer for God's sake! I was learning ECON... even at the concert... betcha no one could tell! :-)

I am waiting for the ME and stats results and the wait is kkhilling me!! Never thought I would jump up and down like a kid to look at my grades, but you know what, it's pretty exciting to be back to school and give exams and see the results come back! :-) I keep checking the course page every few minutes and keep walking down to my locker every hour that I am in school.

The next term is going to be a very happening one! All of Accounting, Finance and Marketing are new to me. Marketing seems all jazzy and exciting, and I can already foresee endless hours of discussions in my ILE team on the Marketing cases. It is probably best to get the studies started with, but this break is also well-deserved and required to maintain some sanity. I don't know what my friends in NY must be going through, but if you ask me, I am so enjoying the lazing around and the 'nothingness' that surrounds me today!

In less than a week, term 2 will begin and it will again be the mad running for 6 weeks! It reminds me of a time when I was driving from Bombay to Pune after a weekend spent well. It was the monsoons and as I passed Lonavla in between, I saw a sort of a wall in front of me! In a fraction of a second, before I could give it any thought, I hit something at about 100 KM/hr. Nothing seemed to happen for a while. It didn't seem like I was in an accident. The car was still running, but I couldn't see anything in front of me. A second later, I realized that we had actually literally hit the monsoon! Ever seen grey clouds from a distance covering a whole city, and wondered, "it's raining there, will it rain here"? It was the same thing. From where I saw the wall, it was slightly sunny and it seemed like we would have a nice, sunny drive back home. And now, a second later, I was inside probably the heaviest rainfall I had ever seen in my life. The experience is still vivid in my memory, but it's hard to explain what happened that evening. It was like being pushed into a swimming pool, getting all disoriented for a fraction of a second, and then maneuvering your body back into a position from where you can get out safely. Only that you are in a car and travelling at a good speed.

I have a feeling term 2 is going to be another such soft wall.. and as we hit it, we need just enough momentum, but more important than that, we need to be prepared to turn on the lights, switch on the wipers and move our leg to the brakes as we go tumbling forward.

Thursday, October 13, 2005

End of Term 1

My term 1 is officially over with one last exam this morning. It was the stats paper and it was lo-ho-ho-hong... I remember at some point, I just wanted to turn the paper in and leave. There was about half an hour left to go and the last couple of questions were teasing me so bad, I could have torn my paper! I'm kidding, but stats really puts you on the edge. It's I guess one of the more rigorous topics that you have around. It's also so fundamental to everything that I guess all the nightmare is probably worth it. As Jill Stowe, our stats prof. said as she walked into the room to announce the end of 3 hours of paper, "OK people, the torture is over, you can turn it in!" Jill is also probably the nicest profs. around with one of the hardest subjects to teach in term 1. More about profs. in a later post I guess. I have one week break and in a way, I am looking forward to it. :-) Largely, term 1 was a blast and I dread sitting at home and doing nothing for more than a week! More on that a little later...

My other two exams were MICRO and ME. From what I figured, and if my intuitions are right (;-)), I think I did pretty well in both. I will have to wait and see and since this is just the first time we are finishing up with the subjects, I am not too sure about grades and how I fair in my section as a whole, since the grade distribution is relative. The distribution is roughly 25% Superior Pass, 40% High Pass, and 35% Pass, Low Pass and Fail. People are incredibly smart here and so, I think it's not easy to get an SP here. Since I started on this track, let me share an interesting, but kinda-obvious observation (A duh? moment perhaps). If a particular quiz, assignment or exam is easy, it probably doesn't add too much to your grade value as a whole. For example, stats quiz 2 was quite easy and I got a 20/20 on it. When Jill discussed the mean of class for that quiz, many people had got 20, the mean was quite high and so, there was not much scope for differentiation there. Contrast that with quiz 1 (shudderrr) and quiz 3, which were "tough". The mean was a little more modest and the spread was a bit more. If you do well in that, it counts more towards your overall grade. Overall, this is my take on it; Just do as well as you can *if you care*, this grading is far more complex than what you can make of it. I just thought it was interesting how you can surprise yourself once in a while when you outperform your class. But some people are more competitive than others and if you want to keep outperforming, that is ok too!

The MICRO final was one of those differentiating exams, I think. A lot of people had different answers for the same problems, found themselves making more mistakes than they originally thought and so on. That is good. ME, as always, will have a wide spread because of the inherent complexity of the topics. Overall, I did not come out of a paper and feel that I had screwed it up and that I didn't have a clue (like it happens sometimes). That's all that really matters to me.

So overall, term 1 was great (awesome to use the typical American word ;-)), the subjects were very fundamental to our future courses, and I have a week-long break in front of me. I am sippin' on a beer and my section is going for a pub-crawl tonight. Meanwhile, my roommate Navdeep just left for New York to do some Wall Street crawling! It's not his fault (don't blame him, poor guy! ;-)), Investment Banking folks are the earliest to start and apparently the earliest to land up with internship. I know little about their field and from what I see, it looks like a whole different world to me. From my shoes, it looks tougher with all the networking from early stages, more formal SIPs, more formal e-mails, attire, just everything. But hey, isn't bschool about the different perspectives? I find that difficult, others might find General Management, Marketing or Consulting tougher in terms of preparation. It's all about your personality... and that is just my over-simplified, beer-influenced, couch version of things!

Monday, October 10, 2005

Term 1 academics in some detail

I promised I will talk about term 1 and the studies and some of those serious stuff, so here I am, ready to talk about the courses, the profs, the exams, the books, the readings, the cases, the assignments, the homework & exercises. Oh that's an awful lot! Never realized there are so many aspects to studies! Damn! What about job search! Gosh, I'm in big trouble! :-| Maybe I should talk just about the courses for now. (This is when I go back to the title and change it from the ambitious "learning from term 1" to "Term 1 academics in some detail").

OK so let me take this step by step and maybe I will be able to cover this in some detail. Now that I am through with term 1 classes, enough to gain some perspective, hopefully I can write a bit more than "Hey that Prof. is cool man. He cracks so many jokes in the class, doesn't let me fall asleep despite the last night!", or "That subject sucks! I don't see myself using that ever in my life!" or "The team assignments are a killer man! We spent half a day today trying to convince each other of what the problem was." etc.

So let me take a step back and try to put the 4 main courses in perspective in this post. Managerial Effectiveness (ME) is all about how to manage people in an organization. It covers wide variety of topics, from the organizational structure to put in place, the decision-making, managing information flow, how to motivate people, how to make the different groups (that you created in the first place) work together efficiently, how informal networks form in an organization and how the culture (or cult in some cases) are formed and what the incentive structure should be with respect to the hiring and retention policies for the company. (Hey this was a good recap for me, I have ME exam on the day after!) This amazingly complex maze of managerial issues were discussed in class throughout the term. What is strange in a bschool is that everyone has a different take on every single thing. I am not talking just about specific topics listed above. This is even true about who likes what subjects and who doesn't. ME discussions were a source of nirvana for me while some people struggled with the topics. I come from an organization that has tackled these issues, but there are ample fields out there that have no clue about how things work within the realm of an organization. People from these fields find it hard to grasp these discussions and the consequences of deciding where you want to be in this web of complex interactions.

One thing I realized as I prepared for bschools is that every person brings something unique to the table. You might think that it is nothing, or that it is natural (depending on your personality ;-)). However, regardless of whether you have this seemingly simple piece of realization before you come here or not, when you come to a place as diverse as Fuqua, or any good bschool for that matter I guess, you are in for a surprise. You will meet people who hate ME and others who travel to the corners of the universe when going through the readings from the ME course pack.

The second course, and let me be through with this real quick, is COMPUTER SKILLS. You have to do excel, word and powerpoint assignments in this and it prepares you for other course, as, of course, these tools are going to be the bread & butter for us. Nothing to write specifically about this course, except that it's a drag, a necessary evil and very boring to sit and do.

Managerial Economics (ECON or MICRO) is about what makes the markets tick, and what should organizations do to stay profitable in these markets. There are various theories with respect to supply & demand in markets, competitive markets, monopoly and oligopoly markets, price discrimination, costs, revenues etc. The main take-away of this course is that you have to be in a position to understand what's happening in the market. Almost all of us have subscribed to the Wall Street Journal, and when I read it now, I have begun to grasp some bit of why OPEC behaves the way it does, or whether the world is running out of oil, or how much room do companies have to increase output to gain profit, or indeed, do firms always make more profit by producing more, or would it pay off to enter this market given that these companies are serving it; will they act aggressively (cut prices for example) when I enter, or is it in their interest to make way for my entry. A lot of it is counter-intuitive until you look into these theories and you say "Duh?" or "Aha!". And if you are thinking we students have got all the answers, that's where I have to interject and say "We students are learning to ask the right questions", and then perhaps analyze the answers or the reality of the situation. The idea, in my ECON prof. Jim Anton's words is "to get the intuition."

This ties in nicely to the STATS course, so let me jump there. The idea of taking the stats course is essentially 'to be good consumers of statistics' that come by in every day world. Our world is fraught with statistics; you listen to them everyday, in TV, in newspaper, on the net and never do you stop to think how it is effecting your day to day decisions. I am over simplifying the idea and you might think that this might be a soft course. Quite to the contrary, most of this course is hard and mathematical. The stats course starts with probability and then moves on to sampling, random variables, central limit theorem, and finally, to regression analysis. Again, you are taught to be a good consumer of information that comes to you. Can you ask the right questions? Because the answer is in the questions you ask.

Pic from IFF

Me at the International Food Festival singing "Chala jata hoon..."!

Sunday, October 09, 2005

The aftermath (revisited)

OK I will give this one more shot. It is extremely difficult to record this kind of thing because it's such an experience! The one thing that remains in my memory from the concert is that one portion of the stage moved entirely to the front towards the audience! We moved from section C1 to between C4 and B5. The stage had moved to the empty space in the middle that you see in the figure! We saw Mick and Keith from a shouting distance. It was close enough for the faces to be recognizable and had we been in an airport, I would have called out to those guys and they would have turned their heads! I was jumping about, thrilled to see them up close and I vaguely remember a hand behind my back as I did that. I turned to look and it was an old lady, afraid that this drunk 6-foot man might fall backwards over her!

They started with start me up, then moved through a string of classics like miss you, wild horses, you can't always..., satisfaction, jumping jack flash, brown sugar, sympathy..., it's only rock... and to my delight, honky tonk woman. They also played the classic Ray Charles song Night time is the right time. What an experience! After the first few songs, I vaguely remember myself jumping about and dancing around. I remember a guy joining me briefly and we went crazy. Then the guy's girlfriend joined me and we danced like crazy for a half hour. I even jived with her (I had no idea I could do that until then!!) The guy seemed quite visibly shocked to see his girl go so crazy, but there was no stopping us! We tried pulling him and Divya in, but I guess they weren't quite drunk enough! :-) We were the two loudest in our section and boy was it fun!

So I have a soar throat today and I finally sat down to study economics. There is nothing much that one can write about such experiences, I guess. As Jethro Tull said You're never too old to Rock n' Roll, if you're too young to die. I hope these guys never get too old to rock n' roll...

Saturday, October 08, 2005

The aftermath

I just came back from the concert. I honestly have no idea where to start. Maybe I should start at the beginning. Maybe I should start at the beginning tomorrow! Yeah, that's a good idea, I have no energy left to write anything... I am drunk and I am disoriented. I am trying to think hard about what just happened and I have a frown on my face right now, trying to think.. I will catch you guys tomorrow!

The Rolling Stones

Yesterday was the last day of our term 1. It is unbelievable, to say the least, how fast this term has gone by! Sometime last week, I also realized that this blog is becoming more about the fun that I am having here rather than giving anyone, any kind of idea of what business school is about, academics-wise, career-wise and job-search-wise etc. I realized this when a friend of mine said "Looks like you guys are partying like crazy!" While we do party about off and on and the parties do tend to stick around in my head a little longer than academics, we do some amount of studies too! ;-) So I promised myself that my next post will be about some of the serious stuff that I am at Fuqua for and also that I get around to doing.

But just when I try to get all serious and wise, they pull me back in! And this time, it's none other than the Rolling Stones themselves in all their devilish, bad-boy glory! They are in town and are playing at a stadium right opposite Fuqua! After much procrastination and lazing around in a classic Shivesh style, trying to decide how much I should spend from my tight budget, I finally bought two tickets for $100 each. And in her own classic procrastinating style, Divya has agreed to join me to the concert. I think I got a good deal, bought it from a Fuqua Alum from NY, who apparently got stuck with work at the last minute! Sounds ominous,, doesn't it? :-) Well, hopefully, I will have better luck when I am out there with the bad boys of the industry! :-)

So my ticket is right on the floor, but not really up close (what do you expect for a 100 bucks, hah!) Here is the seating chart.

My seat is in section C1! I have no idea if it is any good. My MICRO ECON professor, Jim Anton also happens to be a Rolling Stones fan and as he said about the Rolling Stones tickets in class, "It's all about price discrimination. You are not quite sure about the seating arrangements, which section is good, which is bad. They don't reveal much in that seating chart and it's all about gathering as much consumer surplus as you can by product differentiation and maximize profit for your firm." Well, I will be off to the stadium in a couple of hours and let's see some price discrimination in action! (By the way, do you think I will be able to touch Keith!?) :-|

As if to protest the good times that I was going to have at the concert, my car broke down this morning! Well not broke down, but the battery got discharged. Almost all the parking spaces in the University have been blocked for the concert. So this morning, as I drove into the campus looking for a spot close to the school, the slightly drizzly weather was beautiful. I had my windows down and was listening to "Honky Tonk Woman" on the radio, feeling pretty good about the prospect of listening to it being performed live that same evening. My car evidently did not like the idea of being parked at one of the far off spots while I enjoyed the Stones from Section C1! And that too for a 100 bucks! What a shame! Fortunately, it was a small alley where it gave me the boot, so I promptly left it there and started the long walk to school. The drizzle turned into a downpour, and after an hour of some adventure, I finally arrived at the school to announce to everyone that I am going to the concert! It's amazing what the Stones could do to you! Despite everything on my mind and the long walk, I had a bounce in my stride and a song in my heart ...Gimme, gimme, gimme the honky tonk blues...

Sunday, October 02, 2005

My ILE team!

Finally, I have managed to grab hold of a picture of my ILE team! And it is from the ILE "ropes course" that we went to right after the Orientation week. My ILE team 9 was paired up with team 8 from our section.

Standing L to R - Ryan (9), Matt (8), Dave (9), Doug (8), Shivesh (9), Gonzalo (8)
Kneeling L to R - Amit (8), Jenny (9), Bhawna (8), Jaime (9), Julie (Instructor)

Saturday, October 01, 2005

International Food Festival

The International Business Club at Fuqua organized something called the Food Festival this Friday and needless to say, the event was a great success! International students prepared stuff and the guests, other students (like me), parents of students, faculty members and partners of students had a jolly good fill Friday evening. Now I am not really the kind of guy who can report such stuff with great detail, so if you ask me what countries were represented, I am not so sure. Some that I noticed were China, Japan, India, there was mediterranean cuisine, French, umm, that's it. I kinda spent most of my time at the mediterranean stall. There was stuff like Pita, Hummus, falafel and I had a jolly good fill myself! :-) The Indian, Chinese and Japanese stalls had such a big queue that I didn't dare taking that road. India, BTW, got the best prize for stall decoration (or something like that, but so cool!)

After the international festival, there was a show at the good ol' Geneen auditorium called 'Sights and Sounds of the world'. As you might have guessed, this was a cultural show showcasing dances, costumes, talents and traditions of countries around the world. Not until you see some of the shows put up by the far eastern countries or the African continent will you realize how different and exciting they are! The Japanese did a great pop show. About 12 dancers danced to a totally pop tune, much like "dil to pagal hai" or something (and now I know why Rajnikanth is supposed to be so famous in Japan). The song and dance sequence was crazy. It was Japipop!! Pop to the core, but still very Japanese. I have still not recovered from seeing a bunch of quiet Japanese folks doing some of the Jitendra-like dance steps. What a sight! :-)

Well, so the other countries put up some great shows too. Thailand did a folk dance, Chinese did some cool marshal arts stuff, Koreans did a fantastic drum-beat thing, Africans did a fashion show with their long gown-like ummm.. things.... In the Korean thing, 6-8 of them had different percussion instruments and their beat was awesome to say the least! The Chinese marshal arts stuff was scary, especially for the first benchers in the auditorium; they had sticks flying over their heads! :-) Our Indian Junta did a fashion show and a nicely choreographed dance to "Mahi ve" (difficult to absorb for a Led Zep freak like me, but what the heck, it was a 'culture' thing you know... ;-))

Let me come to the main point of this post now. Yours truly did his bit too for the show! ;-) He sang the good ol' Chala Jata Hoon of Kishore (looks like that is the only song I was born to sing; when will I get over it man!!) and guess what, it was a cool hit! :-) I thoroughly enjoyed singing to the claps of the audience (determined not to lose my rhythm due to the claps! kidding...). People seemed (or pretended ;-)) to enjoy it very much and I even got an offer from an amateur student guitarist to jam with him! How cool is that.... :-) Still going strong on the rock singer thing... Some day, some day. :-)

Well anyway, the show was a hit. I got to see the fun side of being Japanese (;-)) and overall, what an experience!