Pinned Post - Flipkart vs Amazon Series

Flipkart and Focus 4 - Beware the Whispering Death

The fourth part of my series on Flipkart and its apparent loss of Focus and its battle with Amazon appeared in DNA on April 20th, 2015 . ...

Dec 30, 2005

PGSEM, IIM Bangalore


Second set of photos - this photo was taken on Feb 7 2004, almost two years back. We, i.e. the class of 2003, were in Q3. And I think this was the end term(?) for marketing. Marketing, as taught to us by Prof Thiru. The fact that this is the marketing test (and I am making a leap of faith by building on the assumption that this is indeed the marketing test) also means why so many people are looking so relaxed!


Srinivas captured here, sitting under a tree. Maybe to gain enlightenment. Maybe not.

Another day, another end term exam. This photo dates back to Feb 8, at approx 11AM. People can correct me, but I suspect this was the day of the QMM end term. QMM as in Quantitative Methods in Management. Aka Statistics.


And another end term photo from the AY2003 Q3 end term. This looks like the QMM end term, though I can't be sure. Jagan's hand over his head, Ramaswamy's smile, Ramya's bemused look, all send conflicting signals. And I am not in the picture here, since I was taking the picture. That would be a sure signal whether this was a quant oriented paper or not, going by how lost I looked :-) Till the next photo post.

http://www.iimb.ernet.in/pgsem
Indian Institute of Management, Bangalore


Indian Institute of Management, Bangalore


© 2005, Abhinav Agarwal. All rights reserved. Reposted to this blog 2011.

Dec 26, 2005

Interchange, Chicago

See, there is a way to have multiple highways intersect without making a mess of things.
This is a photo of an interstate highway interchange in Chicago, that I took, from the Sears Tower Skydeck, in May 2000.

Reposted to this blog, Dec 2012
© 2005, Abhinav Agarwal (अभिनव अग्रवाल). All rights reserved.

Dec 22, 2005

Charleston Bridge, Boston

The Charlestown bridge in Boston. I have not been to Boston many times. In fact before this year the last time I was drove through Boston was on my way from Canada to New Jersey, in 2002. And I think this bridge was being constructed at the time.

If you browse to the Mass Turnpike Authority's web site, it will tell you that the official name of the bridge is Leonard P. Zakim Bunker Hill Bridge and that it is over the Charles river. It is a cable-stayed Bridge and that it cost $100 million to construct. Its two towers are 270 feet in height. It's unique shape is attributed to Swiss bridge designer Christian Menn, who conceived the bridge to reflect, with its inverted Y-shaped towers, the shape of the Bunker Hill Monument in neighboring Charlestown. The bridges cables -- which suggest a ship in full sail -- also evoke the history of East Boston as a center of shipbuilding.

The MTA site also will tell you the bridge, at 1,432 feet long, emerges from the underground Central Artery near the Fleet Center at Causeway Street, crossing the river to make connections with both I-93 and Route 1. The bridge is designed to carry 10 lanes of traffic; eight lanes passing through the legs of the twin towers and two cantilevered on the east side. The bridge is also unique. In addition to being the widest cable-stayed bridge in the world, the bridge is the first "hybrid" cable-stayed bridge in the United States, using both steel and concrete in its frame. For more information you should visit the MTA site at http://www.massturnpike.com/bigdig/background/crb.html

Reposted to this blog, Nov 2012
© 2012, Abhinav Agarwal (अभिनव अग्रवाल). All rights reserved.

Dec 20, 2005

Oracle - Redwood Shores

CNet had an article on Google titled Can Google beat the new-office curse. It seems that the surest and quickest way of getting page hits is to mention Google in an article (heck! even I am doing the same, amn't I???). It has an accompanying photo essay titled Silicon Valley's office jinx . It lists examples of Exodus, Excite@Home, SGI, Novell, Siebel, and Oracle - all very well known companies at some point in time or other, that ran into troubles, in some cases terminal trouble, after moving into swanky new office premises. Oracle is a surprising inclusion, till you read that the reference is to its financial problems in the early 1990s when it had to restate earnings and lay off many employees. As for Excite and Exodus, these two companies fell to the dot-com bust that came in 2001.













Oracle's office in Redwood Shores: building 100 is now not visible. One of the problems of not having a wide enough lens. So the next best alternative to me is to use 'photo-stitching'.



This photo is a combination of four separate photographs. Can't really tell where one photo has merged with the other. Technology is wonderful!




Everytime I visit Oracle's HQ at Redwood Shores, I cannot help gaze at the buildings. Very distinctive, and very different from many of the other cookie cutter hi-tech companys' buildings that you see in Silicon Valley and elsewhere. A clear day always makes for some lovely photographs, and this particular angle happens to be the one shot the most frequently. The buildings themselves have a cylindrical front and a cuboid back. The building with the words 'Oracle' is building 300, and the building you see furthest to the right is building 500, which is also Oracle's address: 500 Oracle Parkway. Building 600 is further to the right, and not in the photo.


Building 600 is now visible in this photo. But, building 100 is not.




More on Oracle's campus at Redwood Shores. This photo illustrates why I guess the buildings, especially the first three - 100, 200, and 300 - are in ascending order of height. 100 is the shortest one, 200 is taller, and 300 is taller than 200. If you approach the Oracle Parkway signal, this is how the buildings looks like: stacked on top of another almost.





And this is the shot from the intersection itself. If you travel up the same road a mile or so you will meet up with Oracle Parkway again, as it loops behind the Oracle campus and meets with this road up ahead.

Oracle's Redwood Shores Campus ((c) 2005, Abhinav Agarwal)
At first sight these buildings may appear to be small. But small they certainly aren't. Each building seats on average more than a thousand people, and this shot from the back brings out the size quite nicely. The white grilled structure in the foreground is one of the many parking garages.

A long line of cars, all making their way to the different Oracle offices. You would suspect that the 'nicer' cars, the Audis, BMWs, Lexuses, Mercs... were bought when Oracle's stock was trading at a price that had sent its market cap to over $200 billion and Larry Ellison richer than Bill Gates :-)

This is building 400 from behind.


This is the long path in front of the five cylindrical buildings. A favourite track for people who take a short walk after lunch.

 December meant that most of the trees had shed their leaves, leaving behind a very stark looking picture.


Not only humans, but birds also frequent the campus.


Particularly pensive looking egret (let's call it a white-bird-with-a-long neck in case it's not an egret)






If you walk down the path, and towards building 600, you would see that the buildings are not so closely spaced as may appear at first glance.



This shot didn't come through as nicely as I thought it could. This is basically a very very wide photo, taken by stitching together five or six different photos. I think I should moved a bit more to the right before taking these shots. Well... maybe next time.


 © 2005, Abhinav Agarwal (अभिनव अग्रवाल). All rights reserved. Reposted to this blog, 2012

Dec 18, 2005

Strand Book Stall Sale 2005

 As I blogged last month, the Strand Book Stall annual sale in Bangalore was something I was looking forward to. It was held at the Bangalore cricket stadium - Chinnaswamy Stadium - this year, with the promise of stunning views. More on the views in a future post however. I could go there only twice, on Saturday and Sunday, as I had to fly out on Monday morning, and would be out for the next two weeks. This year's sale was probably the most heavily attended, partly because of the front page advertising that Strand did in the days leading up to the sale. Another reason could be that this was probably the first year that they also advertised on FM.


The selection of books was very impressive indeed. The cookery section is not one I was too interested in, but for the sake of photography it does make for a good photo.

As the day, this one being Saturday, drew to a close, the line (sorry, is it called queue?) at the checkout counter grew longer. This photo, taken at 3pm, is proof enough!


Being a newly minted MBA (though not one formally... have to wait for the graduation ceremony in March 2006), I did get to see an example of the price-as-signal-of-quality theory. How? If you have heard of Geoffrrey Moore you would also have heard of his Chasm theory. This was the book that catapulted him to fame, glory, and probably riches too. He wrote a couple of other books after that; 'Inside the Tornado' and 'Living on the Fault Line'. All three books were available at the Strand sale. Crossing the Chasm was available as a paperback for about Rs 450. Inside the Tornado was available as a paperback for about Rs 400. Living on the Fault Line was selling for less than Rs 200, and that too the hardcover edition. Telling evidence of price signalling, perhaps inadvertently, quality. If you read all three books, you will realize that Crossing the Chasm is worth the money, and more. Inside the Tornado does repeat a lot of the same concepts, and has an overabundance of models thrown in, but it is still a passable read. Living on the Fault Line came at the height of the dot-com boom, and the book suffers from the malady that afflicted almost all authors at the time, good and mediocre, of falling prey to the seductiveness of the eyeballs-matter-bottom-line-does-not line. Moore is no different; the book becomes unreadable after the first few pages.


Almost everyone had a basketfull of books to buy...


I did miss a few books; conspicuous as they were by their absence. The sine-qua-non for people nowadays, 'The World Is Flat' by Thomas Friedman was one such exception. Till I was told by Swamy that copies had sold out within the first few hours on the first day of the sale itself, and that the book itself had gone in for a third re-print. Okay, so that book was absent for a different reason. I could not spot 'Built To Last' or 'Good To Great' by Jim Collins, or any volume of the 'he History and Culture of the Indian People' series, edited by R. C Majumdar. (http://www.bhavans.info/store/bookdetail.asp?bid=180&bauth=R.+C+Majumdar+(Editor)).

 © 2005, Abhinav Agarwal (अभिनव अग्रवाल). All rights reserved. Reposted to this blog, Nov 2012

Chinnaswamy Cricket Stadium



The room in Chinnaswamy Stadium where the Strand Book Stall sale was held is a particularly fine room. About 10,000 sq ft in size, it has fine paintings of former and current Indian cricketers from Karnataka. Included are such greats as Prasanna, Kumble, GR Vishwanath, Srinath, Venkatesh Prasad, and others.

The Sri Lankan cricket team was supposed to practice the weekend the sale started. For all of Saturday, the dark skies and continual drizzling made any practice impossible. The pitch and the surrounding area had to be kept covered for most of the day.


The groundsmen did try to keep the pitch dry by lighting small fires at either end of the pitch! I wish I had a zoom lens so I could have taken a closer shot :) At other times they use coal based irons to dry the pitch.

Sunday was a better day. The skies opened up, and the Sri Lankan team could get a good day's practice in. It didn't really help though, as the first test match in Chennai was almost completely washed out. Talk about scheduling screw-ups! India lost a good opportunity of winning the third test of the India-Australia series earlier in the year at Chennai because the final day's play was washed out, with India in a good position at the end of the fourth day's play.

© 2005, Abhinav Agarwal (अभिनव अग्रवाल). All rights reserved. Reposted to this blog, Nov 2012

Nov 26, 2005

Amul Horading

Amul hoarding cartoon on the Sourav Ganguly and Greg Chappell spat.


© 2005, Abhinav Agarwal (अभिनव अग्रवाल). All rights reserved. Reposted to this blog, May 2013.

Taj Mahal, Agra

The Taj Mahal in Agra. Vehicular traffic to the Taj has been stopped. You can only go on foot, or use a non-polluting vehicle. CNG (Compressed Natural Gas) vehicles are allowed. This would include buses and auto-rickshaws fitted with CNG kits. As you can see in this photo, these are mightily rickety contraptions that don't inspire much confidence.


Outside the Taj complex are arrays of shops that try to sell you everything from miniature Taj Mahal replicas, cold drinks, bangles, and almost everything else under the sun. They also make it a point to remind you that eatables and beverages are no longer allowed inside the Taj complex, so it's best to quench your thirst here.


The ticket counter. The fees is about ten rupees per person for Indians, and Rs 750. Yes, you got that right. Wonder what happened to the 'atithi devo bhava' stuff. I suspect it's been replaced by 'sabse bada rupaiya'.


After you purchase a ticket you have to get past the security check, where they check and frisk and run a metal detector over you to make sure you are not carring any bombs or eatables. Yes, both are considered unacceptable inside the Taj.


This is the south gate to the Taj (or maybe it's the west gate, I am not sure).


As you approach this gate, you start to get the first glimpse of the Taj. It's dome and a couple of minarets become visible.


As you walk through the gate, you get your first full view of the Taj. Impressive, to say the least.


So this is how the Taj looks like from the entrance. At the left and right are mosques.


Ok, so if you get closer to the Taj, it still looks as white and beautiful and, uh, crowded. Even on a sweltering day with the mercury topping 35C there are hundreds and hundreds of people to be seen.


The compound is so huge, and the Taj so huge, that you can still get a shot that makes it appear that there aren't that many people around. Thank goodness for that.


There are huge gardens on either side of the central walkway to the Taj.


This is the view from the base of the Taj. If you climb up you get to the platform.


These are the stairs to the platform. One special thing to note about these stairs is that each step is made of a single marble stone. And the steps themselves are a good 10 inches high, sloping downwards slightly, which makes walking down a trickery process.


Once on the platform, if you look to the left, which I believe would be the north, you can see the Yamuna river flow. In the background, and a few kilometers away, is the Agra Fort.


The calligraphic inscriptions are from the Kuran, and is a fine example of inlay work. Which means that there is no painting here. The black text has been embedded within the marble. Run your fingers over the text and you can scarcely make out the transition from marble to text. What's also special about this text is that it increases in size the higher it goes, so that the entire text looks the same size when viewed from the bottom.


The Taj as viewed from the side of the Taj Mosque.


This is the Taj Mosque, built on the western side of the Taj Mahal. It is an exact replica of the strucure on the eastern side, called the Jama'at Khana (or Mehman Khana).


This is the Taj as seen from the Taj Mosque. In case you haven't figured it out, the Taj is symmetrically built, which means that it looks the same no matter from which side you view it. Try it sometime.


This is the plaque that describes the Taj Mosque and Jam'at Khana.


Finally, this is one of two plaques describing the Taj. The other plaque is in English.


This is the plaque in English.


Ok, so if you do not like to travel the short distance to the Taj in the rickety contraption I photographed, you have the option of getting a camel ride!


Lastly, this is another photo of the Taj from the Taj Mosque side.\


© 2005, Abhinav Agarwal (अभिनव अग्रवाल). All rights reserved. Reposted to this blog, July 2013.