The other day I was having lunch in college mess, a bunch of friends accompanying me. All the 16 chairs on the table were occupied. I am used to eat in quiet, I do not speak much while eating. In the course of having lunch I witnessed a fierce argument between guys sitting to my right. Though they were not in my class, I still paid attention to them(well its always entertaining, you know :P).

The conversation:

Guy 1: How can you claim that those people do not work in the group, that too so vocally?
Guy 2: See, I have worked with them in the last term a couple of time and I have found almost all of them as social loafers. Ask anybody sitting here about them and you will get to know.
Guy 1: But the point is that you went to the faculty and demeaned them in front of other few who were there. If you had to change the group you could have gone straight to the faculty’s chamber and discuss the matter in private.
Guy 2: Everyone knows about them, how does it matter? if I said it in front of others. (his face redden with anger )
Guy 1: I think that you do not have the right to speak ill of anybody like that. They do not work much in the group but you cannot say it’s going to be the case every time and again.
Guy 2: I will have to do there spade work, I am the one who is suffering. It is easy for you to say and please do not pretend to be saint. Everyone here is for himself. I did what I felt was right, that’s all I have to say.
Guy 1: Good for you then. Giving a justification is easy but judging the rightness of the same is difficult.

Guy 2 now left the table in unrest. We watched as we chewed food, digesting arguments from both lads, burping our ways to a full stomach we were almost done. Guy 2 (sitting next to me) now was waiting for others to finish. Our eyes met and I took the opportunity to tell him in one single line that "it is our experience which shapes our belief". He looked at me in disgust but I continued -"The other chap had some experience with those social loafers, so he complained, quite openly though, let it go now".  He shook his head in disagreement then made same statements as he had made before. I said I will explain it later, for now cool down.

To illustrate, Akshay kumar, in one of his interviews narrated the story of how he changed his name from Rajiv Hari Om Bhatia to Akshay Kumar. Within a short span of the name change he got a break in a movie and witnessed a turnaround in his fortune. This experience made him superstitious, he admits. 
True it is that experience molds beliefs in ways sometimes inexplicable. 

The Hefty Affair

This one is the latest experience I had with my friend Adil. It is Friday today and we have to go to mosque for prayer. I called him a few times to ask him to rush through lunch and come as soon as possible. He assured me multiple times of not messing up this time unlike last week, I waited outside the hostel for him to come. He called me from a few meters distance, to ask me to arrange helmet as the guy whose bike he had borrowed did not have one and it is compulsory for us to wear one to go out of the college gate. I hurried my way up to the third floor to borrow helmet from a friend. In all the haste I managed to come back to the parking space. To my surprise, Adil was unable to locate the bike there. He called the owner only to know that it is near the main gate. Now we ran desperately, we knew we were already late and this delay will result in us missing the congregation prayer. As soon as we left college Adil drove the bike fast to cover the time. The speed was in three figures in a few seconds; suddenly the surge in the torque of bike reduced, before I could sense Adil turned and said it is short of fuel damn it. We stopped and checked for sound of the fuel in tank it ascertained that it had fuel, the bike is Pulsar 200 without kick start. After a few futile self-starts Adil pushed the bike and tried starting it, luckily after a couple of attempts it started. Now we reached almost 2 kilometers from college and we took left to enter into the village 'Kohli'. The bike was off again but this time we checked for it to be in reserve or not. But we were not able to make out which side to turn the knob to keep it on reserve. Arbitrarily we kept it on one side. Finally the bike started, it was me riding it now, the village road is full of pot holes and is narrow. Overtaking a four wheeler there is a challenge. The condition of bike was trustworthy so I pumped it up. Now crisscrossing the potholes and other vehicles on the road we reached the destination just in time. The speed with which we covered our distance was enough to drive anybody’s adrenaline up. It was a mind boggling experience leaving me astonished.  When we returned I drove in 40’s, I could sense the difference at that time.    

Our Last Supper Together

This was probably the last time I was seeing them, after there is a far chance that I see these French guys. They had come to my college(IMT, Nagpur) under foreign exchange program, for about 100 days. They were to attend classes with second year; I am a first year grad still we got to know each other well. They were 3 guys Gwen, Geof and Josh.

Gwen was  romantic, committed, decent and civil; moves head while talking in a natural and consistent manner, smiles with wrinkles at the corner of his eyes. Out of them he was the closest to me. Geof had a peculiar way of conversing, partially bald with the foliage loss from front, he mostly wore dark goggles, didn't like Indian food much and used to carry soft drink all the time. He was good in sharing and comparing cultural differences. The third guy Josh was the tallest amongst them, he was funny, spontaneously witty, extrovert, happy go lucky kind of person. He was incredibly open in his conversations.

At lunch a day before our last supper I accompanied Gwen. Its Christmas eve today. We sat across each other, I asked him about his new year plans, his experience in the country of Gods and colors etc. After the general chit chat I inquired if he will remember any of us after going back to his country. He straightforwardly declined it, said after some time he will forget. Well that is how things go, we meet people in our journey through time in life and after loosing touch eventually we tend to forget them. Of course now we have social media, which does gives connectivity but it solely depends on the persons intention to be in touch. People also remain in friend lists just for the sake of it.

On their last night at campus we had dinner together. "So this is the last time then", "all the best for your future endeavors", "enjoy new year(in your country)" etc followed with the supper. One of them spoke few words in Hindi followed those were all cuss words they had learnt. We laughed on the manner he cussed it sounded polite. We bid adieu as our paths diverged.

What does a human being gives and takes from others? Is it only monetary or something which is intangible? The way we perceive it defines our exchange. We come across many people in our life, some people become important, some do not register in our memory. No matter we forget them or not what we shall aspire to do is make the most of the time we spend together. The time spent should be worthy to remember. After all what we can best share are joy, smile and happiness.  

Just in Time baby

I was exposed to stringent rules regarding timeliness in the wake of joining a management course. The kind of guy I have been all my life, for me simply it was a difficult ground rule to abide to. Many times, I have been neck to neck running against the ever running, time. I remember, in the undergraduate course often  I would run to catch the college bus. That -'just in time baby!' - with friends on bus. Back then as time passed I built a reputation for it, colleagues used to acknowledge it. But on the other side they used to appreciate of me hardly ever missing college bus but almost catching it in the nick of time. 

            There also have been times in my 4 years of engineering when I reached significantly before time. On those rare days I was again taunted. Oh! well people typecast you and when you don't follow their expectations they kind of start hoping for it. If still you prove their belief wrong they would sarcastically appreciate the change. 

A few epic cases of in time delivery I recall at IMT -
 I woke up at 9:21 AM in clock, just got ready and ran to reach in time for the microeconomics class of 9:30 AM.  
I wake up at  11:05 AM there's a guest lecture at 11:15 AM if I miss my roll call I miss the attendance. I run navigating my way, jumping, traversing through shortcuts, I push open the door and hear my name and say yes sir!. The instructor gives a wry smile, everybody looks at me in awe. Someone exclaims wow! in the meantime regaining breathe I take a seat and relax. 
There is this guy Kandy, I come from shower wrapped in towel, he sees me in the gallery and says boy you better hurry up or you will miss attendance. I manage to get in time. This incident happens time and again. He acknowledges me with 'the towel guy'
 There also have been incidents when I ate breakfast partially on my way to the class while running and in class. In class I am well known for doing such stuff. 

I hope to bring about change in managing time. But still I manage it anyhow, I think that's what management is all about.

P.S.: I haven't missed an attendance till date.

Word of Mouth Epidemic

Word of mouth is the flowing of information from one person to another through oral communication, particularly one to one communication. In the digital age this can also take place through phones, blogs, chats, email, text/IM etc.  It basically is an epidemic which flows contagiously. Take for example a sexually transmitted disease (STD), which engulfs the next person which comes in contact with an already infected one.  The person contacted is influenced by the information it is exposed to, this instigates him to forward it to someone else.

In today’s era a consumer is thrown information about hundreds of products in a day. It is very vital to capture the space in the minds of the customer. Word of mouth helps in creating that image because it comes from a trusted source, one to one communication. Particularly for brands to become from mediocre to great word of mouth becomes a very important tool. There have been several success stories coined with word of mouth in branding; for instance ‘Snapple’ the brand of tea and fruit juices derived its success through word of mouth in the late 1970’s, 'Hush Puppies' the famous shoe brand showed a dramatic turnaround in the mid 1990's through word of mouth. Contagious as it is it can also have a negative impact on the brand image for example Cadbury insect infestation issue, coca cola having pesticides these news spread like wildfire majorly through WOM. This significantly deteriorated the brand image of existing market leaders and costs millions to the firms.

The system is also based on referrals made by existing users of a product. It minimizes the risk and acts like a perceived incentive to the prospective buyer. Slowly the trust is built and word of mouth marketing sails through. Not every individual has the potential to trigger a word of mouth epidemic. There are some major sources which play a handy role in spreading the message across. That source is often referred to as ‘connector’. A connector is a person which connects many individuals, a central node through which information can be transmitted. The important trait of the connector is its reliability. People tend to trust these types of individuals. These are amicable people who make friends very easily, they do not judge people, do not get prejudiced and follows them a huge network of people.
fig.connector at the centre

Malcolm Gladwell, the renowned management thinker in his book ‘The Tipping Point’ talks of that magical moment when ideas, trends, social behaviors cross a threshold, tip and spread like a wildfire. That tipping point is reached, thus making the ‘word of mouth’ a phenomenon. Before this tipping point it is basically in the process of becoming an epidemic or a viral phenomenon.

There is no doubt that word of mouth is an efficient marketing tool in current era of cut throat competition. But there are some reservations expressed about it when it comes to buying an expensive product or any technical product where expert opinion is preferred over popular sentiment. 

P.S.- Required a lot research but was worth it. My first related to the field of marketing.

When some close aid, a friend, a colleague, a teacher, an uncle or a relative dies, we make up from the shock after sometime. Its a compromise we make for we can not afford to be on the same page for a long time. The prospect of future is brighter than lamenting present, you consolidate it with the idealistic "move on" and eventually move with it.

That's what happens generally, my curiosity in the matter arose when I pondered over one such event of my life. A few months back my uncle died of an heart arrest, he had a sudden demise and I was shocked as death is an unanticipated, dreadful event though it is certain. Well a few days passed and he was no more a part of our conversations, he may rest in peace was said and gradually done. To this day I must have thought about him for he was a close companion of my Dad and I usually got updates about his family etc. But today was a different reason; I was messaging my friends.
Messages-->>Inbox-->>forward-->>add recipients, a list of contacts appear. I scrolled the list, marked some and there it flashed, his(uncle's) name. I moved down in the list but again came back to it, just something clicked and it doesn't wish to go back. All his memories flashed back in the back of my head.

A little later a series of questions started flowing in my mind. What happens to our contact number when we die?
Do people delete it when they know we are no more? What happens to our facebook profile? Does the timeline has an end to it? Have we ever thought of having a will for all this? And is there a proper time to have a will because you never know when you'll die? What is with these lifetime SIM's? What happens with the email address? So on  and so forth.

I surely could not come up with any solid reason/answer to these questions. But I learnt one thing when I mistakenly stumbled into the contact detail of my dead uncle, it made me realize that no matter how difficult time I am having right now, I am still alive. And one day my time will come, when I will be no more, before that comes I shall make this count this is my present this is all I have got. And I remind myself this whenever I see any token of those who rest in peace.

Our dead are never dead to us, until we have forgotten them.
-George Eliot

So don't forget and get reminded...

I thought time will make me forget you;
now i realize that time will
but its gonna take a lifetime...

"kabhi chaha tha ki hum do se char honge
par pata na tha ki waqt ko jaldi thi
woh kisi aur ki ho gayi
aur mein kisi aur ka... "

"Image is everything"

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