Sunday, December 02, 2007


“Let there be liabilities!” With this cryptic statement, our MANAC professor asked us to continue with the case. This was the third class, and until this my understanding of the rudimentary concepts had been proper. (Yes! Hard to believe but I can still can proclaim loudly from the rooftops - there was a time – exactly 2 sessions - when I understood MANAC!) . After this, well, … Let’s just say I went deeply into the red in the grade sheet.

MANAC stands for Man Can’t, though some benighted souls seem to be believe that it stands for Managerial Accounting. Like wisdom teeth and Australian victories, some things in life just can't be avoided.

Since there are must be people out there who voluntarily flirt with danger, the following Dummies Guide to MANAC is for them.

1) T-Account :IOU's kept with canteen primarily to pay for the copious amounts of beverage students drink is called a t-account.

2) Balance-Sheets: The remaining paper left in the printer after taking all the printouts you need.

3) Current Liability: Unpaid electricity bills of yours.

4) Current Assets: Do I need to elaborate more on this?

5) Income statement: The salary slip one used to get at the end of the month while working, leaving one with a pleasurable sense of having achieved something.

6) Liabilities: Your capacity to tell untruths so that the 2 sides balance.

7) Bad debt: Some people struggle to solve acccounting problems. They spend ages and ages and just when they think they’ve nailed it, they notice a negative balance of $1,00,00,000 in the liabilities( refer above) column. They suffer major heart attacks and sometimes even expire. This is known as a ‘bad debt’.

8) Profit and Loss Statement: When you are cold called by the professor, and are at a loss to state what the profit is.

9) Operating Lease, Finance Lease, Please Lease Me: I have no idea what these are so the lease said the better.

10) Capital: This is the most obvious figure that comes in the balance sheet. Or does it come in cash flow statement? Wherever it comes, as every second standard school kid knows, this is New Delhi.

Now that the ground rules are laid, let’s get down to the serious business. In any T-account, you have to put various values in the left and various values in the right. People who can’t differentiate between left and right, don’t fret. Even the people who can differentiate between R and L are not sure if they are right, so don't feel left behind.

My suggestion is to do what I normally do. Close your eyes and arbitrarily put the value whichever side you want. Look at it this way, you have only a 50% chance of getting it wrong.

One normally has never ever balanced a balance sheet. and doesn't think one can. Is fairly sure nobody can either. People get pure lucky.'Tis a fact of life that one cant balance a sheet without becoming mentally imbalanced.

Then there are the oh-too-often 'surprise' MANAC quizzes. These have a very nice feature- being incredibly short, one's misery ends quickly. Calculators are considered very essential. This is mainly to time the quiz. By the time you open the calculator, the quiz is over so the only thing to do is to close it again. Till the next quiz.

Now, that you have understood the intricacies of balance-sheets, cash-flows and p & l statements, feel free to go ahead and do some accounting. Please do inform me if you can balance balance-sheets, cash cash flows and profit and loss profit and loss statements. If you can fill a minute with sixty seconds worth of accounts done, then you will be a man, my son!

PS - This post is both to vent my existenstial angst and an opportunity to make the worst pj's ever.

Sunday, November 18, 2007

The Case of the Billion Bolts

I walked in through the door. I noticed the dame sitting tall and upright against the chair. She stiffly shook my hand and asked me to sit. She asked me to tell her about myself. Ah, these dames. Never trust anybody!

“My name is Wim Wian. What people call me is something else. I’m an IIMA student. It says so on PGP1 List of Students.”

The last thing I wanted to solve this morning was a case, but the dame immediately started on it. Dames always bring trouble and my sixth sense told me this one was going to full of it. The wind from the air conditioner suddenly seemed to blow cooler and I pulled my coat tighter round me as she started the reading out the case.

“Estimate the number of bolts in the United States”

What? Was she for real? Did she expect me to solve this case? It was another baffling case and I thought she expected too much out of me. Why did this dame want to know anyway?

I reviewed the facts.

a) This was a bolt from the blue.

b) Bolts are used for various purposes.

c) There is a country named United States.

d) She was bolting mad.

e) She was a mental case.

I started thinking about what bolts were used for. What were they used for anyway? I reached inside my coat and felt for my weapon. My heart went cold as I realized the inner pocket was empty. I felt I had lost my right hand. Alas, I had forgotten to bring my trusty Casio FX-260 calculator.

I needed a clue and a drink. Wordlessly she handed me a glass of water and motioned me to begin. This dame needed answers, and fast.

I started explaining what I thought about the case. Bolts are used for a number of purposes. I started listing them out. I then went on estimate the number of bolts present in an average house. My voice droned on and on, with the case facts being stated in as many different ways as possible. The dame let me speak, interrupting me with a question now and then.

As I continued speaking, I realized that she wasn’t interested in answers. She just wanted to watch me think! She was a real close one, this dame. Deciding to play on, I kept on speaking as long as possible.

Then suddenly the answer hit me. The pieces all fit together. This was obviously a ‘numbers’ racket.I blurted out the answer ‘One Billion’. She gave a grim nod and seemed satisfied with that. She handed me back my file and I went out closing the door.

Case closed.

PS - Having recently participated in the summers placement process, the above is a fictional 1930's Private Eye spoof on the case interview conducted by consulting firms.

Monday, May 07, 2007

Third Time Lucky!

It’s been a long long time since I’ve updated my blog, mainly due to a rare combination of circumstances, prominent among them being climate change (I have realized climate change can be blamed for anything). However, I thought I could do no better than chronicle what has been recently happening. Before we begin, a few things that has to be kept in mind

1) These are recent happenings in my life only. So, there wont be any mention of the Ash-Abhi wedding.

2) If you find an overdose of sentimentalism, blame it on my watching spidey battling his inner self and crying his heart out. And also on climate change.

3) Climate change may be a burning issue in today’s world but it won’t find a mention, except for it being blamed for everything.

4) One has recently been reading Ponniyin Selvan (in English) and one found it a decent read. The part names have been utilized for various paragraph titles.

5) This story revolves around how one person(me) battled the odds, triumphed when all others had lost hope and fought one’s inner inner demons. (One didn’t actually battle any inner demons but battling one’s inner demons sounds ubercool)

6) It actually deals with The Great Exam aka CAT, which for those not in the know, happens every year in November with interviews being scheduled in Feb/March.


November 2004:

First time I wrote The Great Exam. After studying and studying and studying for it, we will just erase this year from memory with a brief ‘This year was not to be.’ Why is it sub titled The Cyclone? Left me devastated.


November 2005:

Second time I wrote The Big Tamasha. It didn’t come out go too well. Finally, I got a call from Kozhikode that I converted. ‘To k or not to k, that was the question’. I was advised, by almost all and sundry, against going. But, could I write The Big One again? Writing it was a spine tingling, blood curdling, nerve wracking adventure with far too many baddies and didn’t always end with an ‘All’s well that ends well’.

Finally, I decided to listen to my inner voice. ( If Sonia can have one, then I can jolly well have one too).

Decision: Go for The Holy Grail again.


November 2006:

For the third time, I wrote The Grand Endurance Test. It had been a difficult year. Loads of work at office. At the same time, rushing to classes. Writing tests at home. Hunting up old dog eared, flea bitten school books. Wondering what would happen if two trains traveling sixty miles an hour, and separated by a distance of 300m, came upon a number the square of which is three times the fifth prime number, and the probability that could happen, especially after drawing a black queen from an incomplete pack of cards. The mind boggled at the possibilities. A year of Blood. Of Toil. Of Sweat. And Tears. A year that, most alarmingly, brought up the possibilities of Climate Change.

The paper turned out to be an utter nightmare. English was so awful, it was more luck of the draw than knowledge of English. I didn’t have too many hopes at the end of the day. By this time, I was really really sick of going through The Whole Cycle again, that I wrote a number of other tests to a number of other management institutes.


Dec 2006/Jan 2007

When the results came, I was overjoyed. I had got calls to all the IIMs. English had been a real lottery and I had got more wrong than right but that was enough to get me a decent score. Also I was pleasantly surprised to find that the floodgates had opened wide, to make up for the previous two years drought. I had got calls from a number of other management institutes. February/March was a very busy time. Three Chennai-Bangalore trips. One Chennai-Bombay-Bangalore-Chennai trip. All in a space of a month or so. Learnt a lot in the interviews. Met lots of new people. Travelled a bit( Dalal street in Bombay was a big let down-so run down. More on that on a future post) And, the finally the long wait.

The quota issue was raked up and results were indefinitely postponed. There was a keen tussle between the Supreme Court judges, the HRD Ministry and the IIMs with us hapless students caught in between. Each person made contradictory statements. Would results ever come? This indefinite wait was very irritating and concentrating on office work amidst all the confusion was extremely hard, nigh impossible. Then, the political parties raked up the OBC issue and with a very dog in the mangerish attitude, assumed all results could be postponed till May 8. One expended one’s frustration making cheap puns, a sample of which is given below to pain you with.

This city in Rajasthan sends a large number of people to the IITs every year, so much so that a certain number of seats have been considered reserved for it. What is this called?

The Kota Quota

This child actress gets to act in every film that stars a small girl. It was thought that this was due to her acting talent. However, it has been realized that this is due to an appeasement policy followed by the cinema industry, which is said to follow an active reservation policy. Her name reflects this fact. Who is this?

TheQuota Fanning

Ok, think I’ve used up my bad jokes quota for the day and will put an end to this sordid chapter.


Apr 27

Results were expected today. The air was heavy with anticipation. Then, at 1330 or so, I got a call from a friend who had got C. Checked the website and saw my first reject. I was out of luck then for lucknow, and was now waiting with dread for A/B. Would it be another two rejects?

Finally, at 1850 or so, I check the Ahmedabad website. AND FIND I”VE GOT A!

PS- Kinda abrupt ending, but can’t end on a happier note so will stop here. And for all those still wondering, I didn’t get B. It was obviously due to climate change.