MBA – Mai Bada Aadmi (I am an important person now)

That is the only thing an MBA degree teaches you to think of yourself. You have scrubbed your ass for two years to get a management degree and been rewarded with a job that probably pays moolah equivalent to a mini Swiss Bank (no denying that). Money is important. Damn right it is. Or else what would pay for your daily existance and still leave enough for the simple joys of life (read, I-don’t-need-but-want items). Money holds an extremely important position in our lives and up to a certain degree (apparently, a very high one), money does buy happiness. In comes a management degree, a sure shot way of ensuring that the monthly cash inflow remains as stable as Mount Everest on the face of Earth, and the hikes as exponential as multiplying bacteria.

But this article is not to decide whether MBA is the best career option, or whether people like MBA or don’t like. I’m not an educational counselor. This article is about what an MBA degree does to people. A list of things comes to my mind, regarding the MBAs I’ve met in my life. So here goes:-

1. An MBA degree inflates a person’s ego faster than a hydraulic pump filling a mini-balloon. It’s great if you were bullied as a child or were mentally tortured for a major portion of your life and could do with some ego. But if not, oh boy does it create individuals with as big a false sense of pride as a crow feeling proud of its voice. The intensity, of course, varies with each individual. I will still not care as much about those who obtain a management degree from tier-1 institutions. But I’ve noticed that the institution’s ranking is inversely proportional to the degree of false sense of pride. Hate me all you want, but it’s true.

2. An MBA degree makes people think that they do not require any other knowledge in the world, other than whatever they’ve mugged up in the two years of supposedly attaining professional nirvana. I’ve met people who talk only about marketing strategies, sales (bleh) strategies, this-shit-that-shit strategy in any given conversation. They don’t care what is being spoken about, and whether their MBA jargon is even related to the topic at hand. A strong urge to blurt out stuff about the above mentioned for-all-I-care strategies is the only driving force for them to talk.

3. An MBA degree makes them disregard other people’s proposals or suggestions faster than 300,000meters-per-sec-squared. It might be a result of point#1, but I feel it’s important enough to have its own place as a point. Before even someone can complete her or his point of view, this supposedly-worldly-wise-MBA-person cuts him or her off midway to justify why their idea will not work, or if they are the really bad ones, I-don’t-give-a-fuck-about-what-you-say types, will begin rambling about why the other person’s point is actually worthless in front of what they said. I just switch-off or find an excuse to get rid of the thousand-miles-per-hour pounding on your ears.

4. An MBA degree makes people think that they now have the right to bullshit every other career track. The world, for them is divided into two parts-the MBAs and the non-MBAs. They might not say it on face, but their disregard to other’s chosen means of livelihood is as conspicuous on their demeanor as fake hair on Sehwag’s head.

5. An MBA degree makes even their parents disregard your decision to stay MBA-less (god it’s almost equivalent to deciding to not get married!) as the worst self-inflicted calamities of your life. “Oh, you didn’t give CAT? What are you going to do now??” I feel like laughing and crying at the same time, every time someone asks me this. “Because I don’t want to wear monochromatic pantsuits all day long and strut around like a vain peacock!” is what I would like to say. In fact, that answer would be much more satisfactory to everyone asking me this question. My standard reply, that I am simply not interested in the management side of things, evokes a gazillion more questions. “WHAT?? How can you be NOT interested in what-is-supposed-to-be-the-career-option-that-Dhirubhai Ambani-himself-patronizes-from-the-heavens-above??” or “So what you’re doing now, does it have any future?” The shocked expressions and the jaws dropping as if 10g’s of force are acting upon them make me feel, I should’ve given the entrance exam and scored zilch purposely so that people don’t consider me “MBA material” at all. Which, by the way, brings me to my sixth point.

6. An MBA degree makes people think that they’re “MBA material”, and that’s why they’re pursuing an MBA in the first place. Umm. There is no such thing as MBA material. People can be born with talent such as painting, music, (Mozart, who composed symphonies at the age of three. That kind of precocious talent has certainly not been taught.), mathematics etcetera. No one is born with MBA talent. Anyone can work hard, get into a good college and become an MBA. Nobody says “She/he was born to do an MBA!” So yeah. There’s no such thing as MBA material.

Of course, no one person has all of these less-than-desirable qualities. That would make that one person a highly irritating A-word with which I would not like to dirty my blog. They are evident in people in varying degrees, and may be, it’s not even because of the process of becoming an MBA. May be it’s their inherent quality. I don’t have anything against any career option anyone chooses. Some of the most important people in my life are soon-going-to-be management gurus. I’m not even going to venture into advising because I’m not a counselor. But really, keep your uber-cool managerial skills where they’re most likely to be respected, like your office. I mean, who wants to wants to listen to MBAs shooting management jargon at topics even like “When will I lose my virginity?”?

The best possible summary.

How to bring Optimus Prime to life.

I recently read an article about a two Harvard guys who managed to cram 700 terabytes of data in a single gram of DNA. How they did it is actually quite simple to understand. DNA consists of four bases, A, T, G and C. So all they did was assign T and G=1 and A and C=0(I’m not aware of the logic behind it). So if you have a binary sequence of 1000110111000110100, it would simply translate to TAAAGGCTTTAAAGGCTAA. Create strands of DNA with the required sequence and voila! You have a string of binary encoded into DNA. Of course, it’s not as simple as reheating leftover food in the microwave, but like I said, the concept is quite easy to understand.

When Chitti(the awesome Rajnikanth robot) mentioned that its memory is one zettabyte, I wondered if such a thing actually existed. Apparently it exists just as a unit value, and no single storage device has been able to contain one zettabyte of memory yet. So while I readily accepted that a fictitious robot could have one ZB of memory, I find it hard to grasp the much smaller 700 TB, even in fiction. I mean 700 terabytes. That’s more data storage me and my ten subsequent generations would require. I still haven’t yet been able to fill up my 500 GB hard disk with data worthy of preserving until eternity. 700 TB is probably the amount of data a huge organization like a multi-national bank would transact with. The amount of space required to store such colossal data is immense. Not only the space, resources like electricity, security, round-the-clock fire safety etc. and to top it all, back-up, requires massive effort. It’s not an easy task maintaining such data centers and server farms. And the need for storage space keeps mounting. In this event, DNA-based storage is like a boon. Consider this: by current reports, the entire amount of data available on the Internet is close to 3000 TB, so by a simple calculation, the entire world’s electronic information could fit in just 4.2 grams of DNA! This is unfathomable. The total weight of DNA strands in an average individual human is around 60 grams, so we could potentially be carriers of approximately 43000 TB of data! On one side, we have lakhs of square feet of space being created to support the rising demands of data storage, and on the other hand, we have something so small, being able to support storage for insane amounts of data.

The other thing that fascinates me about it is the medium of storage. DNA. DeoxyriboNucleic Acid, for the uninitiated. Until a couple of years before, DNA was this god-like thing, which held all the secrets of living organisms. I only heard about it on Medical Detectives, and a fleeting mention of it in our science class at school. Now, as if genetic modification and cloning were not enough, storing binary data in DNA format is the latest shocker. How do you grasp something that marries two completely different ideas into one? Is this where the line between biology and technology begin to dissolve? Taking it a step further, it might be possible to embed millions of bytes of code into the DNA, and create a DNA-based android, much like the alien robot species in Transformers. If it sounds far-fetched, remember, even the idea of electricity reaching people’s homes in remote areas was a dismissed as crazy until Tesla came up with alternating current.

So you never know. One day, you might be plugging yourself into a computer, to watch that movie you saved on your epidermis. Extract your memory to view it on the big screen (Minority Report ?). Exchange digital information with someone just by touching (now this gives me really weird ideas). Drive Bumblebee around while helping Optimus Prime save the world. The possibilities, are endless.

The link of the article-
Havard guys store digital info in DNA

“I wana take a picture of mine” multiplied by 934,757,321 times.

Technology makes people do crazy things. Unnecessary things. Things that they didn’t even know they liked to do had it not been for the multi-featured high-end smartypants device in the palm of their hands. Me, for example. Before you think I’m one of the oldies, uninterested in gadgetry, I would like to mention that this blog is being typed out on one of these smarter-than-Einstein devices. Okay, no one’s smarter than Einstein, pardon me. But I had no idea I would like consolidating my thoughts on a blog through my phone until I realized there is an app available for it. I love it now! The gamut of features on hand-held devices today never ceases to surprise me. I use a smart phone like I use soap-daily and vigorously. My phone one day might literally wear out like soap due to the excess wear-and-tear my usage causes it. And I’m sure that’s not only my story.

When you talk about features in a smart phone, how can Internet access be ignored, which is cheaper and more easily available than food, clothing and shelter in a Third World country (I’m not sure, but I don’t think I’m allowed to use this term. I’ll risk it). You literally have the world in the palm of your hands(major,major cliche, i know). Any and every goddamn information is available on your phone. Forget about retrieving information, uploading and sharing is what has taken front seat like last-minute ticket buyers at a run-down cinema hall. Facebook’s daily updates run into trillions of bytes, out of which most is redundant, useless, indecipherable crap that people think are worth sharing. Before you kick me, I’m also included in the “people”. We cannot help the urge to share, share, share because we live in times when sharing what you did and hence prooving to the world you did it, is more important than laying back and actually enjoying your accomplishment all for yourself.

So I’ve noticed everyone who owns a smart phone (okay, I’m tired of calling it a smart phone, now onwards, please refer to it as Baby), has a favorite feature to which they’re so addicted that they wouldn’t mind even if it causes brain cancer-the app/feature should just be the most up-to-date version, and the world is a better place for them. For me, it’s the photo-editing applications. I cannot, and actually, will not, upload a picture on a public forum without editing, no matter how minor. My eye can discern the difference, and I love how even minor editing (depending on the lighting and what not in the original photo) gives so much depth and life to a photograph. Okay so here I go ranting and raving about post-processing. As proof, I have five photo-editing applications installed on my Baby, and I use all of them simultaneously because it gives me infinite permutation and combination options to edit a photo(and no, I don’t use Instagram).

Thing is, I did not know, before I had a Baby(okay, poor choice of words) that I would like photo editing so much. And I’m sure there are people who are stuck to a particular feature like a leech sucking blood. Specifically, I talk about people who only take their own photos. Now that doesn’t sound too bad, right? Well if it doesn’t to you, you’re the one I’m probably writing this blog about. There are a trillion more things in this world to take a picture of and share, but no. These people, will constantly take only their own photos and upload on a public forum as if they’re doing everyone in their friend list a favor by showcasing the various angles, pimples, warts, facial hair on their face. Get a life. Look outside. See that colourful plastic bottle on the road? That is a much more interesting view than seeing your face 934,757,321 times and has major potential to become a point of quality conversation on a public forum.

Unfortunately, unavoidable.

Airports scare me. There is a constant, constant flurry of activity that if you just stand in one place for a second, you’ll feel like the subject of a time-lapse video. You, staring into space, confused and trying to align your vector, while the world runs at Mach 3 in the background. Frankly, it’s easier for me to manage the local trains in Mumbai than trying to find my way through these giant terminals, feeling like a small undigested fish in the belly of a whale shark.

Airports in the old days were quite places were maximum of three planes would take off in a day, and that too those belonging to the Britishers or the Maharajas. Common man could not even dream of setting foot on the tarmac, forget even getting to touch the aircraft. I’m quite sure there weren’t any dhabas also, forget huge shops, food courts or bars. But go to an airport today and your eyes will be trying to adjust to a never-ending plethora of shops. There are the massive bling shops, mushroomed over the entire airport like couples at Bandstand. And mind you, by bling, I don’t mean only the Swarovski counters. I also mean the posh bars, coffee shops, accessories shops and pen shops. Oh, and I forgot to mention the things-people-don’t-need-when-they-travel shops. Majority of the passengers are interested in just catching their respective birds( I’m deducing that because I see majority of the people sitting with an extremely bored expression on their face). So why take up so much space, to make shops that people never buy from (0.1 % sales figure is equivalent to never for me)? I always wonder, how much revenue they’re generating, and if even the revenue generated is more than the rent paid for these shops. Hell, what do I care? I’m not going to be shopping at these shops anytime soon and neither am I going to be the rent collector for them anytime soon.

But but but..there are women, who not only shop at airports, but shop as if the world is coming to an end. Oh wait. Isn’t it? What’s the date? Aah looks like i should finally buy those shoes I’ve been eyeing… Sorry zoned out! So when you see well dressed women (I mention only women because I have seen only women do it. I’m not sexist. I’m a woman) exiting a Shopper’s Stop at the airport with a bag full of unnecessary I-don’t-need-it-but-its-fun-to-shop-when-getting-bored stuff, you can’t help but wonder incredulously, didn’t they get any other time to shop? Or what was so fucking important that it had to be bought at a time when you’re about to be airborne, and have a slight chance that you may not land at all?

Other than the inanimate objects I’ve mentioned, how can anyone miss the diversity of crowd at airports? I say this because you will not see well-dressed (often handsome) business men trying to figure out their seats at a railway or bus station. Or NRI-accented families trying to hassle the TT for a lower berth instead of an upper berth. You will see only up to a certain class of people at railway and bus stations, never above that. In contrast, at airports, there are people from all strata of the society, thanks to the low-cost airline business(R.I.P Kingfisher..a minute of beer-intoxicated silence please..). Business men/women, children with headphones blaring and carrying swanky luggage, aunties with enough gold jewelry to increase the bullion price all by themselves, noticeably poor families of five carrying just a single bag, maid servants taking care of the children, students, families probably on their maiden trip aboard an aircraft and looking as confused as Goofy given a fish to eat, families where even a two month old infant would know how to “proceed to Gate number 3” all by get the picture. And god forbid, if one of the too-sexy-for-her-age aunties or the too-much-hair-on-their-head uncles comes in verbal contact with some of the not so privileged lot. It opens up a whole trunk of misunderstood grunts and directions, with the non-conversation finally ending with the posh people rolling their eyes and moving on. I don’t understand what harm would it do if they speak a few words of Hindi or whatever regional language and give proper directions. Or..oh, I’m sorry, is it tacky to speak an Indian language at an airport at India?

So yes. The fact remains. Airports scare me. For their sheer size, their un-navigability, for the fakeness it brings out in people and mostly, for their overwhelming shops which scream at you–Don’t be so happy!! Your salary still sucks! Ugh. I hate airports. Unfortunately, unavoidable.