Archive for September, 2009

Ramadan in US

September 23rd, 2009 by under Uncategorized. No Comments.

I was still taking my time to settle in a whole new place, the hectic school routine and a totally different culture, when I realized that the Islamic month of Ramadan had already arrived. Ramadan is a time when Muslims fast and focus on self-reformation and enlightenment.

One of the so many things you take away from this month is that you begin to appreciate the food and water more. You have to survive on whatever you had at “Suhoor” (dawn) till “Aftar” (sunset), and that is some waiting, more so in summers. And it’s only at the end of a long day that you realize even an ordinary glass of water is also a “manna from heaven”. You wonder what life would be without these taken-for-granted blessings; food and water. The day brings you the feeling of compassion for those who may not be as lucky as you are; who are just living to tell the tales of wars, poverty, famine and drought. You rekindle the spirit of reaching out to others who are less fortunate, and contribute towards making the world a better place. And then, there are other aspects of fasting that make you a whole better person. You are required to abstain from swearing, gossiping, back-biting, getting angry and other negative feelings. You master the art of controlling your emotions that equip you with the ability to deal with challenging situations.

This was my first Ramadan away from home. I was used to totally different concepts associated with this month back home. There, people prefer to stay home rather than carrying out with their usual routines, even the work hours are relaxed and shorter, and surely the productivity takes some hit. Not until this time did I realize that Ramadan is actually a very productive time of the year. There is no time to waste on lunch, snacks or coffees. Without being worried over the food, I found it easier to concentrate on my studies and work. True, I did not take much joy in watching people around me eat and drink. True, at times I had to break the fast at campus while working on the team projects. True, most of my aftar dinners were without pakoras (a very popular and – I must say – indispensable dish for aftar meals in our part of the world). But, all that helped me develop enduring patience and self-discipline.

The last week of Ramadan was specially very intense. I was working on my individual assignments and the team case projects at the same time, with mid-term exams looming just around the corner. And in the midst of this academic workload storm, I celebrated my first Eid in US. This is the biggest festivity of Islamic year, and I was glad to spend the day with my sister who lives in New Jersey. This day is usually associated with many traditions; new clothes, Eid Prayers, special dishes, exchanges of gifts, and friends and families get-togethers, and it was no different here. It’s remarkable how the time flies on an Eid day, but is in fact proportional to the fun you have. Perhaps, this was the break I needed after a tough overwhelming month of studies and MBA activities. As Isak Dinesen would say; Difficult times have helped me to understand better than before, how infinitely rich and beautiful life is in every way”. And with Eid fever over, I travelled back to College Park with refreshed mind and revitalized spirits aiming to do well for my first exams.

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My Finance Bond..!!

September 17th, 2009 by under Uncategorized. No Comments.

When I had the first glance at the core courses I was supposed to take during the first semester, I wondered why the curriculum is designed like that. I was not completely convinced if accounting, leadership, data modeling, economics and finance all belonged to the same pack. But then, I came to business school with an engineering background. What did I know about accounting or finance? With time, the pieces of puzzle have started to fit in and now it all makes sense to me. It is amazing how one course is related to another; you cannot make an informed business decision without sufficient data, and you need to know where your investments come from, what your liabilities are, who your competitors are, what costs you are operating with, what pricing strategy you are going to choose, what your expected rate of returns are and how all of this is relevant to accounting statements. It is exciting to take something out of one class and apply the concept right there in the very next lecture of a different course.

I personally like BUSI640 Financial Management course a lot. One of the interesting things about this class is that I get to learn something new almost daily. The down-side is that a lot of what is new to me, most of my class mates already know. Still, I don’t lose my intensity. For me, Buffet Case was a great takeoff and I was amazed to find out how calculated risks and well informed decisions could change things around. I also like the way Professor Faulkender usually punctuates his lecture with light humor. And it is certainly not his fault that not everyone gets his jokes, and at times he has to resort to comments like “Come on!! The joke is as good as it gets“ to bring out the laughter. It is just that he usually finds us at the end of a very long day or at the end of a really tiring week. But his humor helps me at least, keeps me energized to stay with the flow of unfamiliar financial expressions.

Last night, I was working on my assignment and was searching the Reuters Xtra database for stock prices and equity returns. It took me just about 10 minutes to complete my assignment but another three hours to get off that database. I was amazed to find out the wealth of information that is available right there and I am just glad that the university put in so much money and resources to have these useful Finance Tools readily available. I felt like I was sitting in a stock exchange; with access to history of financial data of whatever firm I had interest in. But more than anything I was surprised at myself; finding all this stuff exciting. I was always the one to who Finance, Stocks, Equities and Bonds were of least interest, but not anymore. What can I say? MBA is already making me change my views and look at things in a whole different way. And I am not even halfway through the first semester. Guess, there is more to come..!

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