A Year Off?

Check this news. I'd ideally love to take off for sometime before settling into a job. Once I get to know where I would be employed, I would be in a better position to plan my travel. After thumbing through Railway Time tables and Outlook Traveller guides, I had a brief route plan in mind.

Chennai> Renigunta> Vijayawada>Puri>Howrah>Guwahati- explore East by Road. Arunachal Pradesh,Sikkim are some of the places in mind.

then from Howrah>Dhanbad>Gaya> Lalooland(Patna)>Varanasi>Rae Bareilly>Ayodhya>Lucknow>Dehradun>Ambala>Jalandhar>Amritsar>Jammu Tawi -Vaishno Devi Temple and explore Kashmir

Then follow the route through West Rajasthan,Gujarat,Maharashtra,Goa,Kerala Karnataka and back to Chennai.

Seems a long journey with atleast 20+ days required, but it should be fun travelling alone across the length and breadth of India. Atleast If I cant take a year off, I should be able to sneak in 15-20 days of travelling before I join the corporate world back again. Most of the journey should be reserved, especially in the regions of UP,Bihar and MP, which are largely dangerous states to travel in unreserved. It should be great fun updating a travellogue while on the move. Lets see how things pan out!


Uneventful Birthday

This birthday was spent sleeping for 18 hours. I was unwell with a throat infection,fever and headache from Tuesday afternoon, and till now I havent recovered. Life is dull with having liquid rasam all day long. The fever seems to take turns and come at different parts of the day. What is even more irritating is that once the sun sets, I start to shiver like I would If i were in snow. When one sleeps so much, all you get to to do is to dream crazy things, and stay more confused as your idle mind keeps wavering all places. Never felt more bored than this period.


A Repost as I turn 25

First Quarter Results

Stock Name- Kartik Kannan
Fund Name- February 21
Alternate name- Birthday
Type of business- From cakes and candles to expensive hotel treats

Below is a ledger account of the transactions in the first quarter of my life for the fund called-Birthday

Feb 21 over the years

1983 : Your's truly was born at 12 am in Hyderabad1988 : I remember celebrating my birthday for the first time,as I wanted the typical conical cap,pink ribbons just like it was in the movies ...and lo! it did happen,thanks to mom and dad with a pineapple cake to boot...and of course a lovely greeting card from my grandfather all the way from Nanganallur to Delhi. The guests for my birthday were only 2 people, My Mom and Dad :-) . I also remember going to Man Mandir in R.K.Puram Delhi for the archanai and puja..that one normally performs .

1989: Spent a 'quiet' birthday not even distributing chocolates as I could'nt eat chocolates during that period,as I had my tooth broken by a punjabi classmate in a mock boxing contest. GRRRRRR.......I shouldnt have watched the boxing contest shown on"The world this week" the previous night.

1990: Again a quiet birthday,but the last one while in school at Delhi, remember being gifted "THE OCTPOUS ENCYCLOPEDIA" by Archana, my dad's colleagues daughter.

1991: This time the birthday happened and so did a small party in my adayar home in Chennai, with all my 2nd floor friends coming into wish me birthday wishes.Life in an apartments was so cool, with me getting to be the centre of attention. After the birthday party got over, I kinda felt bored, so decided to play "Robber and Police" with me taking the self proclaimed privilege of captaining the "Police" team.

1992: Birthday was spent flirting with a cute bengali chick called Swati Bukyalkar ...and creating my own colours in felt pens..in what I felt would be the Indian uniform for the 1992 Cricket World Cup..which was to start the next day.Damn....I behaved as if I never knew tamil and I knew only hindi, just to give her the feeling that we have a similar background, and this helps in "cementing" the bond.

1993: After being tired of buying conventional t shirts and shorts, I decide to have an unusual birthday present and decide to paint my own T shirt..with the letters INDIA in front and KARTIK behind..which for the next couple of years made people stare at me.Those were the days when cricket fever was at its max,and I would play cricket with that shiirt, have coloured pads on my leg, apply my mother's fair and lovely cream to resemble the White Zinc cream that cricketers(especially the australian bowlers)used to have when playing cricket.

1994: was in 7th standard... and spent the birthday quietly giving chocolates to my close friends and started a new ritual , the namaskaram to my grandparents which started to be firstsourcce of big time pocet money...of 100 bucks during my birthday.

1995: First time , somebody treated me on my birthday...my mother and I were taken by my mother's sister's folks to a place called Nilgiri's nest for a dinner and I dont seem to really eat so much then..and decide to finish the dinner as early as possible and get back home to have a early snooze as I need to wake up at 2 30 am the next day to watch the India vs Australia one day match to be played at Dundedin in the New Zealand Cricket Centenary

.1996: It was called Cricket's greatest year by Prime sports (now Star Sports)..and it sure was.I remember giving a treat for the first time after my friends at school literally forced me into giving one .... the treat was 60 bucks worth of samosas,pepsi,puffs among 4 people and I felt like I was a millionare giving away Charity.On my birthday which happened to be my nandhee...(a ritual which is done a day before the upanayanam) I sleepily got up and saw water heater warming the water near the bathroom and sleepily felt my hand into the water to see how hot the water was , totally unoblivious of the water heater and lo....got the first electric shock of my life.Those days the Coke,Pepsi cans were the "in -thing" and with the world cup on .... I decided to treat my cousins to some Coke ..and bought three coke cans ...and had a crazy hobby of collecting many empty soft drink cans...to showcase on my cupboard that I had drunk all of these..and treasured them as if they were vignettes meant to be preserved.This birthday was all the more enjoyable as the whole family was at my place , during my upanayanam and nobody moved out to the kalyana mandapam,untill the India -West Indies match at Gwalior was over.

1997 : Again one of those really cool birthday's spent at Besant nagar beach with my close friends and when I was short of cash my friend Ram pitched in some of his money to pay up the bill...

1998: This was spent just going to the temple and drowning myself in my CBSE text books as the public exams were nearing.

1999: A very quiet birthday, with half the people forgetting in my family as it was overshadowed by my cousin's housewarming ceremony.

2000: Again another birthday lost in the din of the class 12 Board exams.All I do is take a darshan at a temple before sleeping into my science text book.

2001: 18 till I die !!! This was the song I heard in the morning on my walkman ...as I turned 18 that year and in typical rebelious fashion...I didnt want to go home and go to the temple and have a quiet birthday.I got off my college bus ......simply roamed around alone....walking across the whole of adayar,with my walkman to my ears ... feeling the self glorified fact that I am no more a kid after turning 18.

2002: Birthday treats become more localized and outsourced...as I treat my friends by asking them to come to a symposium at Hindustan engineering college and enjoy the lunch there.

2003: My first major hole in the purse...treat classmates to a huge bill at Pizza corner in Chennai.

2004:My first birthday spent all alone ..in Pune ... as I Go there for an interview for the MBA program at Symbiosis and treat myself to a Maharshtrian special called SPDP (Sev potato dahi papdi ).First birthday I discover the pain and joy of being alone in a big city.The pain being my health was bad then,and joy being ..Pune was BABE LAND ....

2005: I give three rounds of treats to my college friends, Close friends and then Infy friends at the Dominos outlet in Infosys Chennai and learn how easy it is to get swayed by emotions in giving multiple treats only to see that the bank account is damaged to an extent :- )

2006:Had a blast in office.They give me an impromptu birthday party.Spent the better part of the evening analysing targets and projections for the next month.I was cursing my stars,that the best part of the evening was spent drowning myself in mundane excel sheets.

2007:Damn the whole birthday eve has been spent in deleting the 100 odd spam mails I have recieved requesting for my credit card number to buy VIAGRA and CIALIS at their discounted 4.65$ rate. Thankfully, there's no invitation from a credit card agency to consider me worthy of their next credit card scheme.I was planning an outing but am reconsidering because all these treats these days for birthdays do not have any outlet for talking and spending a good time remembering the good ol days ...but just a eating fest where people gorge at your expense...and after finishing a heavy meal... they remember to wish me along with all the burps and belches.People and friends start expecting treats in bigger and more posh hotels as the pay cheque increases....but according to me , the star status of a hotel hardly matters.As long as you are able to enjoy the day and are able to feel special on that day with your friends, it hardly matters where you have food at udipi hotel or chola hotel.I realize this , my friends dont .... :- )Ask me and I would love to spend time just sitting on the bench of a railway station or the beach eating groundnuts with masala.Nothing equals the that joy.... and simple arrangement where one is able to converse a lot with his special friends and also enjoy the day.So Here I am 25 years completed entering my 26th year of existence


The Goa PhotoBlog- Part 4

Vipul Singhal and I, are at the west end of Anjuna Beach, beyond which you need to cross a mountain peak to reach Baga Beach.
The beach next to this was an extension of Anjuna Beach, and it was far better with cleaner water and streams flowing on rocks. That
seemed a lot better than Anjuna Beach itself. Anjuna has earned the sobriquet of being a dirty beach by most of my friends who have been there.

White Mischief Holidays seems to have got the advertising just right at this place, which is such a haven for firangs who dwell in various levels of nudity on this beach. Sometimes your eye cant take more than 2-3 hours of gazing, as its tough to close your eyes to the various attractive women on the beach. Varun Vipul and I were meanwhile engrossed as to how most of the firangs that land up on the beach, are so attractive to the eye. Whatever! No answers Found... WHITE MISCHIEF... it certainly was for us... an acid test for our eyes to look at one direction without batting an eyelid.

These are somethings I like in the shack. Its so comfortable to relax, if you want some shade and some nice breeze for a siesta

Varun resting on the sunbathing planks on the beach. If you have food at the shack, resting on the plank is free for a while, but after some time you need to pay 100 bucks for a day for using its services in gazing at the sea. On Anjuna, a nice activity would be to try out para sailing just above this point. It costs about 900-1500 rs, and if worth the fun of flying above the Arabian sea, like a vulture set free.
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Goa Trip- PhotoBlog-Part 3

This shack was like any other shack on Anjuna Beach. Well lit and very breezy. You wouldnt need anything more in life at this point. endless conversations as the waves thumps the bottom part of the cliff, (we were on the cliff). We have the full moon thats focussing its lights on us, and endless cups of hot tea. Err... tea in Goa... my optmism seems a little misplaced, the guys preffered Signature whisky to make them feel warm. I often took half the coke bottle, as the other half went for mixing the alcohol bought. The drink that I have every time in Goa is Bacardi Breezer, and i love it because of its taste and the exotic varieties. I've had the strawberry,raspberry orange and a new version in Blue colour.

There you Go! Half my Coke has gone into the othe guy's alcohol concoction. I remember the days in school, when I used to have Pepsi or Coke for any given reason. Pepsi for feeling good, pepsi for feeling thirsty, Pepsi for a headache, Pespi for relaxing, Pespi after a session of cricket, Pepsi during a cricket match.... man things have changed so much from then. These days, I drink Pepsi/Coke only when I am out as an alternative to alcohol, as I am too cautious about Alcohol with a tricky stomach.

Cheers of UNEQUALS: Coke vs Signature Whisky, as Vipul Singhal looks on!

Varun enjoyed the night in the Goan laidback atmosphere as we started chatting
a long conversation well into the wee hours of the morning, until it got too cold for us.
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Trip to Goa- Part 2

Vipul, doesnt mind the world around him, when he starts to doze. The rickety bus ride has made him slip from a normal position to the this position where he bares his belly unmindful of the din and chaos of the engine and the horn that the driver seemed to honk at.

This was a regular feature where we wait for the trains to cross over, and this level crossing would just come up when the bus was picking up speed after traversing an ardous stretch of mudpaths(I cant call it a road). Even more irritating was the loud honking that the driver did to scare people off the road. It certainly got Varun on his nerves, as he silently cursed the driver..initially and was getting vociferous with his hindi swear words, and i was suprised how the driver was keeping quiet.

This was our room/shack for the night. At 500 rs a night, it looked a steal for me, as the bedding and the bathrooms were decent enough and it was located right next to the Anjuna Flea Market.It was a nice orange coloured room and made us sleep well from 2 am till 8 am the next day.

Thats some crazy nut in Yellow, talking to Varun and Vipul. This guy called himself a Kashmiri doing studies in Pune. His english was the typical call center accented english and it looked he was high on booze and he was behaving in a strange manner. He just saw us and casually invited us to his room, which seemed to be in a remote corner of the rocky cliff. Vipul and I seemed to be alert enough to avoid this guy, and quickly say a flurry of "bye bye"s to get back to our room.

In this melee of talking to him we were lost and were guided to our room by the night vigil police, which did a random check on us. They later said that drug trafficking was high in this region, and they generally check smokers, whether they hide marijuana in the cigarette butts or cigarrete packets.
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Goa Trip-Photo Blog-Part 1

Thats Varun sleeping, and he seems pretty happy with the reserved seats we got. Its not very often that you decide on a trip at 7 30 pm and go to the ticket counter at 9 pm and get reserved seats in the Chennai-Bangalore mail at 9 30 pm. So he seems to be in a rather celebratory mode, and dozes off at 2 am, only to be rudely woken up at 4 45 am when Bangalore arrived.

Bangalore was as chill as it can be on cold February morning, and its interesting to note that all chennai-bangalore trains land up on this platform which is shaped like a triangle.That was the first thing I noticed(the trainagular platform), when I landed in Bangalore in 2004, to join Infosys.It hasn't changed in 4 years :-)

From Bangalore we managed to catch a 6 am Jan Shatabdi to Hubli, and the trip was pretty peaceful as we dozed like logs, and had a very comfotable outing for just 147 rs from Bangalore to Hubli. This pic was taken from the waiting room in Hubli, where one of us took the electronic instruments for charging, while one bought food, while the other guy bought the tickets for the return journey in the reservation counter.

This was the "new" Hubli bus stand, 40 rs and 3 kms away from the Railway station. Buses from here to Panjim/Madgoan happen only twice a day, so make sure you reach Hubli between 1 and 3 30 pm, to catch what would be the last buses to Goa. There is one service at 5 pm to Madgoan, but largely these buses dont keep up time, so just hope that luck stays with you in catching the bus. The "CLOACK" room was a grim reminder of most of the facilities at the bus stand. The bus enquiry desk has a frustrated old man, who can invest only 10 seconds in answering your queries, as he proclaims himself to be busy, ticking and crossing some arbitrary tables. The KSRTC service is bad in the sense that even if the bus doesnt run full steam, they will not pick up passengers en route. Talk about profitability and revenue earning hunger, these lot of people dont seem to care much about that or customer service, given that the bus passes through a lot of remote forests whose only access to civilisation are these buses.
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Images from my trips to Goa from Chennai(Updated)

Getting to Goa from Chennai

Generally the best way to reach Goa from Chennai is to take the Friday afternoon Chennai-Vasco express, and if you havent booked tickets, and are a a big group of 3+ people, then travelling by the unreserved is actually fun, if not all that comfortable. The journey from Chennai to Yeshwanthapur will pass off without much competition for the seats, but beyond that, lots of Kannadigas use this train as a passenger train to get off at their villages along the Bangalore Hubli route. Generally this leg of the journey in November is very very chill, and you need to be adequately armed with blankets and reserve your seats on the upper metal plank, lest you are found searching for a seat. The chillness continues till the train reaches Castle Rock and Londa on the Goa-Karnataka border. If you intend to roam the South Goa beaches, then Madgaon is the best place to call it quits for the journey, as Colva beach is located 6 kilometres from Madgaon. If you have North Goa in mind, then get down at Vasco station, and take a bus to Panjim, from which you can travel to the North Goa beaches by hiring buses/private transportMadgaon has very little accomadation in the sreet parallel to the railway station. Pretty shady places, and very basic rooms available for 350+ Rs for a 2 people.

The other route from Chennai is to take the mail to Bangalore so as to reach there by 5 am,
and charge your batteries for an hour at the waiting rooms, while you refresh and take the 6 am Hubli-Bangalore Jan Shatabdi express, which reaches Hubli at 1 20 pm. From Hubli, taking a bus is an option, which is largely cumbersome as the journey route is full of bad roads and chaotic traffic thanks to unruly bus and lorry drivers. Its a 6-7 hour journey to Panjim across the hills.

Our trip was by the above route and travelling by Indian railways, is always such a pleasure as early vivid memories of travel start from Indian Railways. What i find missing these days in the trains now, is the train with engine logo that used to be earlier engraved on the beds in the sleeper coaches.

Standing and posing in front of the mirror has become a defacto start to the camera in the train. This picture has Varun, me and Vipul posing, as we slightly came out of our compartment to talk, as the whole compartment was dozing heavily at 2 am. Well you dont expect anything else from a bunch of B school grads who are used to stay up late nights.

As I had earlier mentioned that the bus route from Hubli to Panjim is bad, and it really shakes you up by the time you reach Panjim. Try scanning the railway time table really well, for getting a connecting train at Hubli to reach Madgoan or any small station in Goa. The railway authorities are not too helpful in this regard and will shoo you away if you ask too many doubts that they cant answer. A better option with deep pockets would be to take the 13 30 flight from Bangalore to Dabolim(Goa), without touching Hubli, which would mean you reach Goa at 2 40 pm. Else you can also try to reach Mangalore from Bangalore and take a train from there to Madgoan. I have tried all three routes.

If you have time on your hand, I suggest take the most sluggish mode of transport to soak in to the journey. The journey is through a lot of forests and hills and has some great views in the evening after sun set.

Once you reach Panjim, if you would like to be on your own, try hiring a bike/car, and reach for the road besides the bus stand that has the huge hoarding of Paulo travels. There are a few smaller travel agents who also sell bikes on rent.

The next travel agent to get, would be to walk from the bus stand, over a small bridge and try getting to the Panjim Post office, right next to a petrol Bunk, where you find bike services. Try renting a vehicle for under 250 in Non Peak Season. In peak season a bike is rented at more than 500 rs. You get high end bikes as well as normal ones like passion plus, and Honda Activa. Honda Activa is a higly preffered means of commuting by people visiting Goa as apart from being a no-gear bike, it has space for keeping your spare clothes/ bag.

NORTH GOAN BEACHES- Getting there from Panjim

Generally from Panjim, the North Goan beaches are closeby, so enjoy the ride by driving north. The Beaches to see, in serial order are Condolim,Sinquerim,Calangute,Baga,Anjuna,Vagator,Morjim,Aswem,Mandrem,Arambol
and Kerim beach. Vagator and Morjim(the Turtle farm beach) are seperated by a gulf and the Chapora river.

We got to Panjim at around 9 ish after a arduous journey along the rickety route from Hubli. Panjim sleeps pretty early, and after 9 pm, no buses ply in Goa. So we reached Panjim and decided to explore for some bike shops by the wayside. An elderly uncle volunteered across to the post office in Panjim, which was a pleasant 10 minute walk from the bus stand. We got an Activa and a Passion plus for 225 rs a day after paying a caution deposit of 500 per vehicle. I got to play the lead driver, as I had previous driving knowledge around Goa and its inner roads that lead to the beaches. I lost no time, in assuaging my leadership skills, by deciding to play captain by playing pillion to Varun, while we asked Vipul to follow us.

The pleasure of driving on these lovely roads can be really enticing, but let me warn you, that it is pretty chill at night, and you would be better off making yourself warm by covering yourself with a shawl wrapped around you as you drive. The drive from Panjim had a spooky feel to it, and Varun and Vipul must have felt, I was leading them to into this abyss and chasm, that had no end to the drive. As soon as we turned right and entered Calangute, the spirit was rejuvenated with the colour and vivacity of the place. Brightly coloured shops and well lit roads seemed to bring more life into the tour that looked a little bland after the rickety and soporific bus journey.

We turned towards the left that leads to Anjuna Beach,and it was back to driving in small dim lit roads with banyan trees in plenty on both sides. All we could see around were shady huts which were proclaiming themselves as Ayurvedic centres with a retro look, and shacks that had firangs roaming about. Then as our bikes went further and we stopped for directions, we heard a rumbling noise of the ocean front, and the gurgling of the ocean waves, was pretty much a reminder of life at B school, a constant gurgling of emotions every day with various subjects and assignment deadlines, but hey, we are here to forget all about that mad chaotic life that we are used to. We parked our bikes near a shack and decided to explore a place for a quiet dinner. It was already 11 45 pm, and the shacks seemed to be packed to capacity with foreigners occupying the seats. It was too crowded for our comforts, and we decided to explore the next available shack, and it was pretty lonely, but well lit up against the background of the waves crashing below it. The shack was 20 mts above sea level on a cliff, so the waves hit the bottom rocks and occaisonaly the water managed to climb up and freshen the people above.

The candle lit dinner was good, in the sense that it made us relax staring at the deep depths of the ocean waves, which were relentlessy adding the bass to the instrumental music playing in the background. We in the meantime, also managed to find a decent room for 500 rs, which would house all three of us. Decent bathrooms(with hotwater), cupboards and a big bed with pillows, nothing more you need in terms of basic neccesities and we rested for a while before deciding to explore the place around us at around 1 30 am.

To be Continued.............

Goan Odyssey!

B school life is as much about learning theories as much it is about making new friends and Networking. I happened to go on a trip to Goa sometime back, and forgot writing about it. Goa too me seems the ideal place for a student bachelor to find a foreign country at Indian prices. People keep asking me why do I have this morbid prefernce for Goa again and again. I've gone like three times in the last 16 months, from Chennai, and being a Chennaite, the rulebook says that Marina beach, Pondicherry,Mahabalipuram and Ooty should be the places explored. People think Goa is about sex, booze, non veg and immoral behaviour, but if you take a deeper look than the normal impression a Tam Brahm would have, you would see a wonderful Indian state opening up where all you see is a laidback culture which works just the right tonic for a short 2-3 day holiday amidst our rather stresses schedules.

I go to Goa, to yearn for some adventure, that is normally not possible in a sordid state like Tamil Nadu, as the beaches have policemen at night, and they instruct you thats its time for bed, and ask you to push off after 10. Adventure at Night on a Beach? Is that possible...?? Have you ever seen the full moon night casting its mild light silhouted against the blue waves of the ocean at night? Have you ventured into just lying on the ocean floor as the water comes and grazes you? Have you ever entered into an endless conversation over tea, as the wind calms your nerves? Have you ever stared deep into the abyss of the ocean, and felt music in your ears with the sea growling at night with its waves? Have you ever been stranded in a forest near a beach at 2 am, thanks to your bike conking off? These are some questions I ask myself why I go to Goa over the beaches here on the eastern coast. Far too much policing on the eastern coast.

The thing I like about places like Calangute and Baga are the way the whole city seems to come alive after sunset till sunrise. Goa seems to be a collection and a crazy concoction of people all over the world. Goan sunsets on the beaches are some of the most alluring sights to a perfect evening at the sea, for dinner. As soon as I seem to hit Goa, there seems to be something in the air, that presses the "calm" button, as you snake through the roads and the mountains, through colourful goan houses, and even more colourful restaurants on the road. The night drive through the highway from Panjim to Arambol via Calangute is probably the best that I have experienced. I have quite a lot of pictures to share from my previous two tours of Goa, that havent found its way to the Blog. Right now a little dissapointed with the loss of my 6030 Nokia Mobile... thats the 4th mobile lost in 6 years. Sometimes bad luck hits you when you dont really need it(Who needs bad luck anyways! ? ).

The blog had lesser posts due to some pre occupation at college. Now I hope to be a little free with lesser classes spread. Keep plugged on for a detailed Goan travellogue on what to see and what to miss.


Nokia! My Saviour

There are days when I have cursed the "poor man's Nokia " model that I have, but I realise its value, only when I go out of station. Its charge, generally lasts for a long time, and all it requires is 15 minutes of power reacharge, to be at full charge. My Nokia phone is a like a nice homely dog-in the sense that it is faithful to me in times of need. Though I would love to have a nice music mobile, hi-fi gadget as a phone, Nothing beats Nokia when it comes to plain jane telephonic use.


Life is Better!

Right now, am relaxing at home. Placement season is still on, though Placement day is over. The rest of the batch unhappy with profiles or money are busy attending more interview at Campus for the rest of the companies, that couldnt fly down on Placements day. Being a part of placement team was a good experience, especially the nitty gritties in organising it at a Beach resort. Have been hung up on time, so didnt write anything on my blog.

My offers reads like this: Business Analyst at a popular IT company that has the same three letters as TCS, when jumbled(Media Vertical) and a pre placement offer from the place where I interned, for nearly 1 and a half times the salary and a better profile, than company 1. This is probably the best time, to catch up on some snooze and relax to my hearts content, as none of the subjects that had taken, are scheduled this week. I havent been to college for a couple of days, but a couple of assignments and reports are due, which makes my face frown. You seem to have a mirage of relaxation, and the coco shoots a mail talking about pending reports submissions, which we had extended on mercenary reasons of placement.

I feel like taking a holiday, but where to go? Andamans, Goa or Ooty... or some Homestay option rovided by Outlook traveller. Life is starting to look interesting after the mercenary part of the MBA.

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