Tag Archives: India

Crave (book review)

‘’A supernatural romance. He’s a Rakshasa, she a hunter. They are natural born enemies, but does that mean they will give up on love”?

I romanticize unconventional love stories more than what is considered healthy. I started reading this book because it looked like an Indian version of the Twilight, sans unnecessary drama. I have known the author because of her previous book ‘Games Girls Play’ that I had seen at my girlfriend’s place.

The book starts with an introduction to the two lead characters, Samrat and Aditi. Samrat is an ‘Asura’ and ‘Aditi’ is a hunter. The first meeting of these two characters happens through an action scene that throws some more light on their backgrounds. The subsequent meetings between the characters have been poignantly described. The author’s choice of words creates a perfect imagery of the object and its atmosphere. Both of them try to avoid each other, but something keeps them drawing close and nature takes over on several occasions. The lusty love-making scene between these two characters is very sensual.

As the characters get to know little more about each other, they realize there is a lot more to be learnt about the other. The fascination only grows. As the story unfolds, it reveals a few more characters with supernatural powers. Some of them have devious plans and eventually Samrat and Aditi have to team up to fight them. They are joined by some of Aditi’s friends against the evil forces.

The rivalry between the hunters and Rakshasas had started thousands of years before. So despite all the current friendship and action one question always lingers in Samrat’s mind, whether Aditi would accept him on knowing that he is a Rakshasa. Samrat wants to tell her the truth, but is too consumed in his fight against the devious plans. Samrat is an Asura but his intentions are not evil. He lives by a moral code and later gets a chance to bare his soul to Aditi.

Aditi is in love with Samrat, but only with the few things she already knows. How would she react on knowing the truth? Can she abandon him directly and risk losing the fight against the evil? How does Samrat feel on knowing Aditi’s dark ancestry?

Crave is a refreshing story that makes you stick till the end. The story has not been overextended and the author deserves full marks for making you admire the characters. download

This book is a must-read for the intensity of love, craving and moral dilemmas it has. Moreover, the kindle edition on Amazon costs INR 68 only. Most of us spend more than this on our daily commute. Buying this book has been a very smart investment in the year 2016.

The book can be bought here.

27 Broken Footprints — Like Me, You are – our fictional reality

27 Broken Footprints-book

This is a teaser of one of the sections from a book that my friend has written. The book is called 27 Broken Footprints and the section is called : Like Me, You are – our fictional reality


A lot of things happen in our times – around us to us to them to him to her to someone you know to someone you don’t know to someone you will never know. It is only those which we choose to care about only those which we care to observe, it is only these which make up our universe. History is always limited to the observer. So is the present. But too many things happen either way. It is up to the observer, it is up to us to choose what we care about.

The Chapter — Like Me, You are – Our Fictional Reality

Office – Cafe – Park – Her House – Park – Subway – Highway

Themes – So much is happening, what will you observe?
Work place pressure, obsession with fair skin, bullying in high school, popular kids, objectification of women in advertising/media/movies -_- everywhere, low intellect politicians, social commentary by politicians, education, poverty, legal system, status of women in society, perverted human mentality, social norms, stupid social norms, popular culture, rape, vigilantism, rich vs poor, naivety, children.

She is young, ambitious, thoughtful. She is borderline feminist, not too vocal about her views. She writes about what she feels for strongly though. Her thought process on how she understands the patriarchal society around her is laid bare to the readers.  Then something terrible happens to her. And her thoughts change. She writes about that too.

Things you should look our for
Her thoughts followed closely by her articles.
The lizards.
The footnotes, yes please pay special attention to them.
The lizards.
Her last article.

If you have any questions/queries then please leave a comment below and she will get back to you. Her book is called 27 Broken Footprints and it comes out next month.

For regular updates on the book, like it on Facebook.
Photo Credit – This one here.

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Indrahar Pass trek – Experience of a first time trekker

It was the month of Oct 2013 that marked my fourth month in the national capital. I had been a bit disappointed by Delhi in terms of food, people and art it had to offer. I later realized that I could not make judgments about the city unless I had met different people (people not from my college or locality) and covered the entire city. Despite being in an MBA college I had never felt anything close to challenging (except for Decision Making Models, where I had to save my ass after scoring the lowest internals among 180 students). It was during this time that I came across a trekking event organized by my friend Suman. I registered for it because I wanted to escape boredom and not out of any uncontrollable fascination for Mountains. Click on ‘Indrahar Pass Trek‘ to know about the trek in detail.


About Indrahar Pass: Ever been to Dharamshala or Mcleodganj and witnessed those snowcapped mountains? Indrahar Pass is located right there on those mountains at an altitude of 4,342 metres (14,245 ft) above mean sea level and forms the border between Kangra and Chamba districts. This high altitude mountain pass is located on the Dhauladhar range of the Himalayas. The trek gets slightly difficult on the last part when it requires climbing boulders, but the breathtaking views of Mani Mahesh kailash and the Pir Panjal range from the top compensate for these efforts.

Indrahar pass is a very popular trekking route that is usually accessed from Dharamshala or Mcleodganj. Located at an altitude of 4,342 metres (14,245 ft) above mean sea level, it forms the border between Kangra and Chamba districts of Himachal Pradesh. The Indrahara Pass trek is considered to be a moderate to difficult trek. The trekking trail passes through the popular camping ground of Triund, Laka Got, and Lahesh Caves. Popular camping stops are Triund at 2,842 metres and Lahesh Caves at 3,475 metres. For all the effort required to get to the pass, the spectacular views more than compensate for it. The stunning Dhauladhars of Himalayas form a backdrop of the trail for the most part of the trek.

Flora and Fauna: Wild Goat, Monal, bear (rare), dense forests of Deodar and Rhododendron, alpine flowers on the grassy ridges.

Starting point: Galu Devi temple situated near Dharamkot village is the last motorable location for this trek. This temple can be reached on foot or by hiring a vehicle from Mcleodganj as well as Bhagsu. The trail from Bhagsu is steeper. Bhagsu Nag has its own attractions, including the very famous Bhagsu Nag temple which has existed over 5,100 years.  The very famous Shiva café is located near the Bhagsu fall. This is a pretty ordinary waterfall, but the café is a nice place to have hot beverages and a light chat with fellow travellers.

The trek was going to start from Bhagsu Nag near Dharamshala and end at Indrahar Pass. We left on a Friday night and we were expected to return by Tuesday morning.


Day 1- 11th Oct, 2013 (Friday):

I boarded a tempo traveler from Connaught Place in Delhi and saw 12 odd strangers to accompany me. I had met Suman and Geetanjali once at CCD. I happened to meet Sunanda an hour before meeting the other strangers since we both had to board the same metro. I was really excited about spending next few days with these strangers. We left Delhi at 9:30 PM and had our dinner at Sukhdev’s Dhaba in Murthal.  The journey was tiring and I had become friends with 3 people by now. The person sitting next to me was Akshay. I was really comfortable in his presence because he spoke fewer words than me.

Day 2-12th Oct, Saturday :

The road was not really good after Chandigarh and I was completely awake for most of the journey. Moreover, a girl’s Whatsapp notifications prevented me from catching even a decent nap. I remember falling asleep around 4 AM. Someone woke me up in the morning. I am not bothered about the time; I get down, brush my teeth and enjoy morning tea at some place called Kinnu. We continue our journey and I prefer to remain awake and not miss the beautiful landscape that had welcomed us with a faint shower.

We reached our hotel at Bhagsu around 11 AM. After refreshment and telling my parents to not expect any communication for the next 3 days, I headed straight for the breakfast where I was joined by 4  more new faces- Harry, Pradeep, Rohit and Gill. We exchanged polite greetings and then I impolitely ate like an animal before its hibernation (I had stopped counting after 6 Paranthas). Porters could not be arranged and so we kept our luggage in the traveler and then started the trek at 1:30 PM with essentials, sleeping bags, etc. I was walking a bit faster relative to others, except those new 4 strangers. I soon realized they were supposed to guide us upto the Indrahara Pass.  The entire group of 17 had split into 4 different groups and my group had lost its way initially, but we soon managed to meet other groups at a common point.

I bonded well with Anshul and Akshay, because of cigarettes and camera respectively. I am not a good photographer myself, but I have a decent knowledge of photography. We met other members at the ‘magic café’ which is supposedly the oldest Indian chai shop.  I also met a childhood friend who had come from Gurgaon for camping in Triund at the cafe.

The trek got steeper after this point and I wanted to reach the top as early as possible, just because I was enjoying the physical drill. We encountered really beautiful clouds on our way.

On way to Triund
On way to Triund

I registered the images in my mind while those with a camera clicked some beautiful shots. I increased my speed beyond this point and left everyone behind. I took out my player and selected the ‘metal playlist’. I reached the top at 5:30 PM alone and had the best moment of my life on seeing the mighty Dhauladhars suddenly appearing in front of me.

That moment when after a full day trek you realize you have to climb this mountain.
That moment when after a full day trek you realize you have to climb this mountain.

I saw two people waving hands at me. They were Rohit and Gil. I was the third person to reach at Triund. I went inside a chai shop and played Guitar to kill time. It was almost an hour now and the weather was chilly. There was no sign of other members and these two had gone to make some arrangements for the night and also to help others reach the ridge since it was getting dark. Anshul and Akshay joined me around 6:30 and within next 20 min everyone had arrived. We went to the forest department’s rest house, had bonfire and sips of old monk to combat the cold weather accompanied with rain. I had a good time chatting with strangers and Harry and I became friends the moment he played Led Zeppelin tracks on his mobile. We finished our booze and went inside the rest house for dinner. It’s a bliss to have hot Rajma chawal served at this altitude amidst cold weather. I talked to Prachi (a lawyer) over general lawyers’ stuff and soon everyone was in their sleeping bags.

Day 3- 13th Oct, Sunday:

Sun rose from the mountains and I preferred warmth of my sleeping bag over the scenery. I woke up quite late and still felt sleepy. I tried to freshen up and the chilled water brought my all senses alive, though the areas it touched were momentarily numb. We had our morning tea and decided to click a group photograph.

3 people turned back from Triund thinking that the trek after this would be too demanding. We were 14 now. We started our trek for Laka, which usually takes 2 hours from Triund, to reach the Snow Line café. Suman had a leg cramp and she made the wise decision of not going beyond Laka. Few more people decided to not accompany us any further. I had a good chat with Harry and Pradip just after our lunch. It drizzled for few minutes and then we started our trek to reach the Lahesh caves at Ilaka. It took us around 3.5 hours and we reached the caves before 6 in the evening. At an altitude of 3,475 metres I could not see even the faintest light coming from the town of Dharamshala. It was a full-moon night and the moonlit hills appeared too beautiful to seem real. It was time to meet the Old monk. Harry sings a Pahadi song. I liked the tune and memorised it right there. Altitude sickness had affected 2 people by now and they lay inside the caves. We were then joined by the other members. The night was harsh.  I could not sleep the entire night. There was snowfall on the mountains and the negative temperature was unbearable, especially because of those chilly winds.

The cave where I spent the chilliest night of my life.
The cave where I spent the chilliest night of my life.

Day 4, 14th Oct (Monday):

Akshay was running a high temperature and Anshul had to board his return bus. They decided to return from Lahesh.  Remaining 9 people marched towards their Indrahar Pass. This was the toughest part of the trek. There is no definite route and the path is really steep. One can easily feel effects of altitude when they gasp after every step. Fresh snow had shown after first strenuous hour.

The scary turns
The scary turns

The trek was scary at several points where a slip would mean death on the rocks. It was more dangerous for me considering my sub-grade sports shoes and first trek in the mountains. I was feeling scared and exhausted, I could not walk more. We walked for few more minutes and then Geetanjali decided to return, she was accompanied by Pradeep. This was a tough moment for me, on one side I had a chance to climb this high altitude mountain pass, where I had wanted to be for the last 3 days, on the other side I had a chance to descend comfortably. I wanted to make a choice that differentiated me from all those people like me who visit hill stations and just take a sigh on seeing tall mountains. I shall cherish this decision throughout my life. We were now only 7. You can see two of us climbing those steep rocks.

Stairway to Heaven
Stairway to Heaven

The trek got the toughest just 200 metres away from destination. I could not move but Harry kept pushing me. I saw that everyone else was struggling. I could see Prachi, the only girl there, moving ahead despite a bad health. I was now all motivated to reach the top. I stopped at a turn for rest and Harry almost dragged me from there in excitement.

Woohoo! We had reached the pass!

On the ytop
On the top

We reached there around 1:30 PM. After taking a rest for 20 min, we started moving back to Lahesh. The view from Indrahar on the Chamba side was spectacular.

The beautiful descent towards Chamba
The beautiful descent towards Chamba

I was running a high temperature and I asked Harry to consider me as an 85 Kg baggage that couldn’t move on its own. He helped me a lot during the initial steep part. I later discovered a technique of ‘ass climbing’ to descend from the rocks! We started reaching Lahesh by the evening and it was terrifying to see 3 of us missing. Geetanjali, Pradeep and Gill had not made it to the caves yet. The first two did not even intend to reach upto Indrahara. I was too tired to move outside the caves and Harry took my torch and started shouting on mountains for them. I could listen a few other voices, but if I stepped out then I would be the fourth one gone missing. It was completely dark and those 3 arrived by 10 PM. We had hot cup noodles to celebrate their arrival. We were supposed to descend upto Dharamshala the same day, but we could not send a message to Suman since there was no signal. By that time half of McGleodganj knew that 7 people were missing on the hills.

Day 5: 15th Oct, Tuesday:

Next morning Gill’s phone miraculously received a message from Suman and we conveyed her our status. We started descending down with our tired bodies. It was dark before we could reach Dharamkot. We descended the mountain using torch light and I saw Suman waiting for us with cars to take us down. I can’t really tell if this was the best moment of my life or seeing the Dhauladhars for the first time. We all tried to make ourselves look human and then boarded the tempo traveller for Delhi.

Click on ‘Best time For Indrahar Pass Trek‘ to know about the right season.

Indrahar was the first trek of my life. It had broken me mentally and physically and then rewarded my soul. I could not open my eyes fully. I had a minor frostnip on my nose. I lay my head on the seat of the traveller, looked outside at the moonlit Dhauladhars for one last time and realized that I had done something big as a first time trekker.

Bhrigu Lake Trek- A trek to the Himalayan lake at 14,000 feet.

Name: Bhrigu Lake Trek
Approx elevation: 4,100 m
Grade: Easy-Moderate
Starting Point: Gulaba or Vashisht, near Manali

It was the second week of August in 2014. Independence Day was approaching and I was all excited because of the accompanying weekend. 4 days of vacation is a big thing for an MBA college. This looked like a clear sign of getting away from Delhi and experiencing freedom from the hectic MBA life. I asked my roommate about his plans, but he denied any interest since he had recently come from a trek near Kasol. I asked other guys on my floor and everyone seemed to have their own problems- ranging from monetary constraints to constipation. I was all determined for  a trek as visiting a hill station with an ‘all guys’ gang didn’t make any sense to me. Everybody had money for the latter, although both these plans would cost the same. I thought if I failed to convince a single guy for the trek then my purpose of studying marketing would stand defeated. I finally managed to convince the guy next door who was equally bored. Now the problem was to choose the right trek! I rang my friend Pushker who had recently opened a trekking company near Manali. He told me that they were going for an expedition to Bhrigu Lake. I Googled the place and found it to be a high altitude lake located over 14,000 ft.

So finally we are 2 guys in a Volvo owned by ‘Fauji travels’ travelling from Delhi towards Manali. The journey was never ending with several road blockages in the rainy season. For a moment all those worries from our parents’ side seemed reasonable, but then we decided not to think much of it. We finally covered the supposedly 14 hours journey in 24 hours to reach Patli Kuhal, where Pushker had arranged a cab for us to reach Rumsu. Normally people reach Naggar from Patli Kuhal and then take a taxi for Rumsu from there.

Click ‘How to reach Naggar‘ to read about it in detail.


The car stops at the entrance of Rumsu village, where I am greeted by the ‘Bicchu ghass’ on my left hand, a dangerous plant that feels like the scorpion’s sting on your skin. We walk in the dark for around 500m and reach the cottage house/resort owned by the company. The cottage is fairly new and the fresh smell of wood was really pleasant. The actual owner of this cottage goes by the name Subhash ji and he made every effort to inflate our belly from his food. Considering we had to start our trek the next morning, we decided to upset Subhash ji instead of our stomachs.

Day 02:

We woke up quite early in the next morning. The cottage looked more beautiful than the night before. I saw beautiful apple orchards in front of my eyes, plucked an apple and bit it with that cracking sound, quite similar to what you might have heard in the Vico Vajradanti advertisement that featured a couple near waterfall.

Meanwhile Pushker explained me the concept behind his company Kailash Rath. The aim of this company is to promote the experience of trekking among Indians. The treks are conducted at really cheap prices and the profit is used to develop the Rumsu village. I liked their approach and I was convinced that they are different from the plethora of money making trekking companies that exist today. Even the walking sticks used during the trek are manufactured by the locals and can be purchased for 300 INR  less compared to the market price of 800 INR. The guides available with them are certified and have an experience of over 15 years with the YHAI.

I saw a beautiful view inside as well as outside the cottage. I roam around the area and then decide to take out the borrowed camera from my borrowed bag and click some pictures.

View from the cottage
The cozy room

At this point, the comfort of cottage had provided the much needed refreshment from that tiring journey. We have a light breakfast and then board the hired cab to reach Manali. Let me tell you guys something about the Bhrigu Lake.

Bhrigu Lake is a high altitude Himalayan lake located at an elevation of around 4,300 metres (14,100 ft) in Kullu district in Himachal Pradesh. It is located to the east of Rohtang Pass and is non-motorable. It can be reached by trekking either from the Vashishth temple, which is famous for its hot water springs, which is close to the town of Manali or from Gulaba village. Actually there is no settlement in Gulaba and is an area of the Pir Panjal mountain range. It is named after Maharishi Bhrigu.

Legend has it that the sage used to meditate near the lake and hence it has been rendered sacred; the locals believe that due to this the lake never freezes completely. You are not allowed to camp at the Bhrigu lake and one must descend few meters to find the suitable ground.

Starting point: The trek for Bhrigu Lake can be approached either from the Gulaba Village or Vashishtha. The path from Vashishtha is steeper, less scenic and has lesser spots for camping. Gulaba is accessible from the highway between Manali and Rohtang Pass.

All set for the jorney at Gulaba village

Trek duration:  4-5  hours

We stretch a bit and then start our trek. I have trekked over 14,000 ft altitude before and along the steep trails, but I had never expected the starting portion of the trek itself to be so steep. We kept walking and after an hour we felt completely drained out. We ask the Guide to take a break and open the carton full of snacks and protein bars for us. Right at this moment, we saw some dark clouds passing below us. The guide said we need not worry as they are flowing along a different direction. We pack the carton again and ignore the clouds. We were all charged with the energy and trekked really well for next 30 minutes. There was a lot of greenery around us and the bright flowers were all around.

The horses ignored us, but we could not ignore them.
Getting there before others and taking a rest by the time they arrive.

We paused a bit for clicking beautiful pictures and then saw the clouds taking a 90 degree turn to approach us.

Rains are the last thing one would like to encounter while trekking on a mountain. It derails the speed, demotivates first timers as well as the experienced ones, lowers the temperature by 2-3 degrees in less than an hour and if it makes your bag wet, that would spoil the entire trek for you. There were 4 of us on this trekking expedition, accompanied by 1 guide and 2 porters cum cooks. None of us knew how the exact route looked like since it was a part of an expedition and not an organized trek. When the clouds approached we increased our speed, and then the rains happened. We were running now trying hard to locate a trail beneath those streams of water. We were wearing rain jackets, the bag was waterproof and we had even kept our clothes inside plastic bags before putting them in the bag. Pushker and I didn’t realize that we were much ahead than rest of the people. Within few more minutes we saw our camping spot. The porters arrived immediately and we set our tent. We have our dinner and everyone falls asleep by 10.

Day 03:

Today was going to be a tough day. The first part of the trek involved climbing through a very steep section, visible in this pic.

The smile on our faces was soon to be replaced by the expression of despair.

We have our breakfast followed by the morning tea. The porters were busy in packing the entire stuff and washing dishes. I decided to play Guitar for them.

The only way I could have entertained these innocent Pahadis.

We start afresh for our journey. The steep climb was exhausting, but what tired us more was the sight of another similar steep section. We climb that too, meet some other Guide on the way and we were directed to a very steep mountain that required us to step on several rocks for climbing it. Assuming it to be the last portion of the trek, we were all determined to cover it. We encountered a few glaciers before climbing it. Once we reach the top, we have this this painful realization that we have come the wrong way. The view was nevertheless breathtakingly beautiful.

The snow capped mountains.

We tried descending this mountain, failed on this path and then descended it along the same way we had climbed it. We kept moving and had realized by now that the lake was located behind a huge snow Glacier. We needed to climb a different mountain for this. The effects of high altitude had started showing on one of the guys and he suffered mild headache. We had to get behind this huge glacier.

Huge obstacle ahead.

Every one showed their grit and we climbed this portion. We were welcomed with our first view of the lake and now it required only few minutes for us to reach there.

We trek further and finally reach the lake. I didn’t want to miss the holy dip inside this sacred lake, although I was terrified of the cold water.

After the dreaded dip.

We spent few minutes at the lake and then decided to descend towards the route that would take us to Vashistha the next day. Camping is not allowed near the lake, so we descended around 400 metres to reach the spot that looked perfect for camping.

Day 04:

The morning welcomed us with a bright sunlight. We were happy with the way our trek had turned out. Our camp site looked beautiful and couldn’t help myself clicking a pic.

Our camp at nearly 14,000 feet.

We later started descending towards Vashistha. The trail was quite muddy and I slept almost 10 times during the descent, more so because I was running down since I had to catch a bus the same evening. I could see several flowers on both sides of the trail. Our guide said that we were lucky to be trekking in August and these would not be visible during the latter half of October. We made a quick descent towards Vashishtha and reached down within 3-4 hours.  The place is famous for its Vashishtha temple and its natural hot water spring, which is claimed to have healing properties.

Run bitch, run! You will miss the bus.

In retrospect, we did realize there was a mistake from the guide who misguided us. That made the entire 30 Km trek to be around 60 Km for us, but we got to see a few unexplored sites along the misguided path and that made all the difference to our experience. It’s always better to look at as many beautiful things as you can, get mesmerized more, get to walk more and learn to appreciate nature’s magnificence.

Once my feet touched the grounds of human settlement, the painful realization of living in Delhi struck me. If only I could change certain things, but I will always continue to find some time for myself and keep running to the Himalayas.


PS: For any other info related to this trek you can reach to me on 8826946805 through Whatsapp.

Introducing UPto75.com- The best online site for deals

With e-commerce spreading its wings over a larger consumer base everyday, the average online consumer is lost when it comes to making a choice for his/her online purchase. Consider yourself buying a camera. You will have a hard time deciding and comparing deals on various online portals selling the product. How many times have we wondered if we could avail some discount on our next restaurant visit? It is during such times when websites like  UPto75.com come to our rescue.

Having a look at the website will assure you about the myriad deals that are available in your town or in your neighborhood. The website collates deals on various retail sales in the country (India) at one place and presents it to you on the basis of your location as well as category of the product/service you are looking for. What sets this website apart from other deals websites is the inclusion of offers from retail outlets which can’t be found and compared online.

One can easily navigate between categories and dates for the deals.

User friendly categories
User friendly categories


Some coupons are valid for dates  extending even into the next year. I tried finding out a deal on Dominos by typing it out in the search tab.

Deals from Dominos
Deals from Dominos


I wasn’t lucky with the amazing one  plus one offer but it has prompted me to keep looking out for such deals on the website so that I do not miss them in future.  There also several featured deals on the website which one gets to see on visiting the link already mentioned. So go ahead and check out this amazing compilation of offers from online platforms as well as retail outlets.

A brief comparison of Fortis and Apollo growth story

Apollo hospitals was initiated in 1983, by Dr. Prathap C. Reddy. It propagated comprehensive health insurance and launched a medical insurance scheme in 1986. Apollo had reported the first dividend within three years of its operation and by 1988 had expanded to Hyderabad. The 90s saw Apollo expanding itself in operations and infrastructure, most of them being in the Southern part. It also launched the 24 hour ambulance service in 1993. The next decade saw Apollo expanding into the Northern areas as well, including Bilaspur and Kolkatta. This was also the time when it marked its presence on the foreign soils of Sri Lanka, Dubai, Saudi Arabia and Ghana. For the years 2003 and 2004, Apollo Hospitals was recognized as a ‘Superbrand of India’ in the healthcare sector. According to a study by the Boston Consulting group, Apollo Hospitals featured in the world’s top 50 local dynamos list in 2008.

It has been three decades since its inception and the success story of Apollo Hospitals has seen it becoming a Harvard case study.

At a time when Apollo had just started expanding in the North, a 26 year old guy was involved in the setting up of Fortis Healthcare. Shivinder Mohan Singh, then in 2001, had expressed that he wanted it to be big. He was aided by his elder brother, who belonged to the promoter family along with him in Ranbaxy laboratories.  Fortis was set up at Mohali, Punjab. The young guy was burning with ambition, backed by his wise observations on hospitals services. He applied all his skewness and vision to make multiple acquisitions. The Escorts Hospitals acquisition took place in 2005 which included the Escorts Heart institute of Delhi. Shivinder concentrated on building Fortis while his brother, Malvinder was rising ranks in Ranbaxy.

Apollo has mostly worked on greenfield projects to expand. Fortis has been very fast on making acquisitions and it surpassed Apollo in terms of average revenue per operational bed, 7 lakh INR above Apollo. Until last year, Fortis had seen a major portion of its revenues coming from its assets located abroad. It was during this time that Fortis sat on a debt of  7,039 Crore INR, but Fortis has been responsive enough to clear its debts and focus on the domestic business. A series of divestments indicate that more than 90% of the revenues will now come from domestic business. Moreover, the fund-raising tactics have reduced the debt to 2,963 Crore INR in this year. It is planning to add 1,000 beds by the end of this fiscal year. Apollo’s expansions have now started hurting its toes. While the recent revenue growth of 17% has been the highest in last three quarters, the operating margin was down 80 bps from last year. The new projects in Chennai and Bangalore have shown operating losses and affected the net profit. Apollo, like Fortis aims to add 1,000 beds by this fiscal. Net profit margin taken over last eight quarters clearly place Apollo Hospitals above Fortis, but Fortis’ agility in changing strategy can not be ignored. It would be interesting to see how these two major healthcare providers are competing against each other after next 5 years.

That grilling interview-Part 1

I have attended nearly 10 interviews for admission into B-schools, in the last 2 months. The selection process for each oh them first required shortlisting done on the basis of an MBA entrance, in which I scored above 90 percentile and that was decent enough to fetch me interview calls for at least 10 schools. The interview call consists of  a Group discussion(GD)+Written essay+Personal Interview(PI).

This process was never going to be easy as one needs to have a good knowledge of current affairs to clear the GD, above average writing skills for the essay and most importantly, confident enough to clear the PI. Moreover, all of the institutes that I had applied to appear among the top 20 institutes in at least one ranking, so a tough selection procedure is followed by these.

One of these interviews will hold special importance to me. I was grilled on a lot of subjects and I had never expected so many unexpected questions in a single interview. I was grilled on almost everything I said, but I tried to remain calm and confident. I thought I shall share this experience with you all, and moreover, I can look at this post in future to assure myself that I have faced something so tough in the past.
The selection process that I am talking about is of IMI- Delhi. 1200 people had been shortlisted for the course that I had applied. Final selection would not exceed 60 which happens to be the total no. of available seats. This as going to be tough, highly competitive, but hat really bugged me was the fact that this institute had selected only 45 candidates last year, saying that they did not find anything special among rest of the people and they could not compromise with their quality just for the sake of filling 60 seats in total.

The selection process started with a written essay of 250-300 words (time limit 15 minutes). This was followed by a personality test in which we had to answer some general questions that would help the evaluators in determining some of our personality traits.

Next was the interview round. Students were divided into certain batches and each batch was assigned a panel which would interview them. I was the last person in my panel. It was 11 in the morning when I saw my name at the bottom of the PI list and I had already spent 5 hours at the interview venue. I went for documents verification, took a nap and then had my lunch. My watch read 1 P.M.

Now I had nothing to do, so I started interacting with other candidates. I talked to them about the questions that were being asked in the PI and tried to compile them at one place, but all in vain for no conclusion could be drawn from them. There was no specific pattern and it seemed what one answered for the first question lead to a series of more questions. We patiently tried to wait for our chance. I met a senior from my college who had a work-experience of 3 years. His stories only gave me more reasons to do MBA as a fresher. I tried to approach a hot chick there but she was already done with her PI and was in a hurry to leave the venue. My turn finally came up at 3:30 PM. Here starts the description of my PI in detail:

Three interviewers- P1(an HR faculty), P2 (Finace HOD), P3 (an industry expert). P3 was bald and all of them looked to be in their mid-forties. I enter the room expecting the first question to be ‘tell us about yourself!’

P1(smilingly): So you had to wait a lot, the last person. Are you annoyed?

Me: Yes sir, but thankfully, one person before me didn’t turn up and that saved my 45 minutes. Annoyed? Not at all, I just made some good friends outside. Moreover, you people have been interviewing us right from the morning, you have been busy all the time, it does not give the people like me who are just ‘waiting’ to be annoyed.

P1(no change of expression): Hmmmmmm…

P3: Tell me where are you from? What is famous about your place.

Me: My native is Jharkhand. My state is famous for Dhoni.

P3 starts laughing. P1 and P2 join him.

P3: Hahaha… not minerals, not forests, not about steel plants, but you say Dhoni.

Me: Sir that would have been my answer had you asked what’s good about my state! If you repeat your question then I will still give the same answer, because that’s how people from other stated recognize my state, that’s how my friends reacted hen I told them that I am from Jharkhand.

P3: Fine, I have already answered the good things. Tell me few bad things about your state.

Me: Poor literacy, poor infrastructure, most importantly, the political instability. There have been 8 different chief ministers of my state in the last 12 years and currently there is a President rule with no chief minister.

P3 looks convinced but doesn’t say anything.

P1: You have applied to the HR course. Tell me what interests you about HR?

Me: I love challenges. I believe that an HR professional handles the toughest job, since he has to handle people. The definition of management itself says getting things done with the help of people. This makes people the most important asset of any organization!

P1: You are a fresher. Tell me what you know about HR?

Me: (I had researched a lot on this. Told them everything that I knew).

P1: I agree with what you have said, but tell me how can you learn to manage people without having any work experience?

Me: I don’t have any work experience, but I have a ‘Life experience’. In the last 3-4 years I have desperately tried to learn ne things, failed a lot and yet never gave up. Now I have learnt most of those things. If you talk of learning then that’s the reason why I have applied to your college. I am sure I can match up with others or even outperform them with my dedication. I have made a few commitments in my life. I wake up early every morning, sweat myself in the gym, get outside my comfort zone by doing those extra Push-ups. The same discipline with which I do that one extra Push-up, the same discipline with which I push myself for trying a complex note on the guitar, that same discipline applies to all other aspects of my life.

P1: Hmmmmmmm…

Me(thinking, wtf! I just said such strong lines and all he has to say is Hmmm…!)

P2: We will give you an extempore topic now. Think for 1 min, stand and speak without stopping for 3-4 minutes). The topic is ‘ Is HR as a profession underrated’?

Me: Spoke for 3-4 minutes.

P3: What are the things that interest you?

Me: Fitness activities and playing guitar interest me a lot. I am also interested in reading and writing Philosophy.

P3: What’s the use of Philosophy? It’s just another genre, just like fiction!