Sunday, July 25, 2010

No Anees Hussain-ing

NOTE:  Everyone who hasn't been able to comment on my blog lately- please use the 'Name/URL' option from now on.

Saturday is one of the days I really look forward to now. Ever since my summer internship programme began last week, I haven't been able to take my regular classes on Tuesdays and Thursdays. So after a hectic work week, I look forward to four hours of AH. Some of the things that I have really been missing for the past ten days are:

1. Screaming at the reception walay to get me a pencil. Then shouting at them again to get me sharpened ones.

2. Looking out for Headband and thinking up of new subtle lines to insult him.

3. Looking out for new hot guys.

4. Green tea brought in by the reception walay. Especially since my encounter with the Bitchy Peon.

5. Muneeb-ur-Rehman's lame excuses for missing class.

6. This group of kids who used to explain FIFA to my sport-retarded self, and told me about Paul the Octopus.

So I was terribly terribly disappointed when some losers burnt up places in Gulistan-e-Johar and haalaat were kharaab. AH was closed for the day. Sniff.

Thursday, July 22, 2010

The Coffee Freak and The Bitchy Peon

Yes, I know what you all must be thinking. Samosa Freak meets Coffee Freak? What an uncanny turn of events! However, I regret to say that this was a so-not-exciting and rather annoying encounter with an individual who has made me suffer terribly.

I have always been proud of the kind of stamina I have. Even after a gruelling day of uni and fours hours of Anees Hussain-ing, I've been able to go out with friends or even study. When others complain about how dead tired they are after a 9-6 internship, I hide the smirk on my face since I can never empathize with these people.

I have always been most pleased with the fact that I am not addicted to either tea or coffee, and a good night's sleep is more than sufficient for me. But since I happen to be human, I did realize that long internship hours were extremely tiring. Thankfully, this really nice peon on the first floor used to bring me coffee twice a day, and so I spent the first three days sitting with my friend Amal and having the most scintillating conversations ever. The fact that coffee perks me up like an Energizer bunny probably helped too.

When I finally managed to transfer to the department of my choice, I was ecstatic. But as the old adage goes- there's always some bad with the good.

The first day in the new department was terribly hectic. By 11 0' clock, I was absolutely dying for my daily dose of coffee. I stared at the computer screen with bleary eyes and willed myself to focus. Treasury Operations......Export Refinance Loans...... BIA.............................    ICOFR....zzzzzzzz...... Sitting in a chair all day doesn't help either, and it took me every ounce of energy to keep my face from falling flat on to the keyboard. I didn't think I'd have fancied QWERTY stamped across my face, and that thought kept me awake.

Tea was served around that time. In my dazed state, I failed to notice the peon who brought in chai. So when he entered the office a second time, I got up hurriedly and asked him to get me some coffee. Little had I known that he was no ordinary peon. He was a Bitchy Peon. THE Bitchy Peon.

'Humen sirf boss aur visitors ko coffee daenay kae orders hain,' (We're only allowed to serve coffee to the boss and to visitors) he apprised me in a very superior tone.

'Mujhay hamesha neechay sae coffee miltee hai,' (I always get coffee from downstairs) I whined beseechingly. Yes, I was whining, I was that desperate. Anyone would be, if they couldn't even keep their eyelids open. I felt like a ragged, starved and lowly fakeer (beggar) begging for a morsel of food, just to have the king's minions ridicule me. Jaisay coffee nahin caviar ho gai.

The Bitchy Peon finally came to his senses and suddenly realized that being diplomatic was the only way he could shrug me off. 'Main dekhta hun,' ('I'll see, but I'm not making any promises,) he finally muttered and scurried away.

As expected the coffee never came. But the Bitchy Peon did. He reappeared with chai several times during the day- rather an extra number of times that particular day- just so that he could rub in his superiority and jala-ofy me. My friend Saira Hassan, who works in another department on the same floor, had been disdainfully informed by the Bitchy Peon that 'interns don't get coffee'. I spent all of that day with bloodshot eyes, cursing the Bitchy Peon to death. Little had I known that my cursing was misplaced.

This morning, I trooped into the reception area to see Omer Mukhtar and another intern aka the Coffee Freak chatting. 'Yaar how in the world can I get coffee on this floor?!' I groaned wearily.

The Coffee Freak laughed. 'Interns aren't allowed coffee, but I manage to drink several cups during the day. I even made him [The Bitchy Peon] some coffee the other day.' He chuckled. 'It's because of me that he stopped giving the interns coffee.'

Now THAT got my blood boiling. Not only was this particular person enjoying a gazillion cups of coffee every day, but he was The Bitchy Peon's new BFF!  The word COFFEE was bleeping in my head like a huge pink neon sign, and this person had not only had A cup, but rather CUPS of coffee! Argh!

I mentally argh-ed to myself some more and mustered up a smile which was crappy at it's best, what with no coffee and all. 'Oh that's nice,' I finally managed to say. 'Could you try to wheedle him into getting me some too?'

The Coffee Freak pacified me with false hopes too. Like a defeated warrior, I slumped back into my seat, vowing to seek vengeance on The Bitchy Peon and the Coffee Freak. Time to chalk out a battle plan.

Sunday, July 18, 2010

Of Internships and Attention-Seeking

Lately, my newsfeed has been peppered with statuses that rant, whine or boast about internships. So I thought I'd use this space to brag about mine. As if. Rather, I'm going to elaborate on how internships have conveniently divided people into lame categories.

Before this semester actually came to an end, people had started putting up statuses like 'Citibank or SBP?' or 'Sanofi or PnG?' These poor confused individuals were really meant to be sympathized with. Not only were these (un)lucky people getting more internship offers than they could keep track of, but they absolutely needed all one thousand, seven hundred and fifty-two people in their Facebook friends' list to advise them. What ensued (for obvious reasons) was a long list of notifications where half the people would have posted random comments ( Yaar kaisay ho tum, itnay time sae milay nahin) and cracked lame jokes, (Yaar! Kitni jaga pae pawwa hai tumhara?!) but not offered any suggestions. Nevertheless, the Confused Retard would track the number of not-so-helpful recommendations using a tally chart and then generate a bar chart on MS- Excel for the most popular bank/company (ratings would be high for places with the highest number of hot female employees people knew of). Where they finally decided to go is still a mystery (no attention seeking status followed), causing many to wonder whether the multiple internship offers had even been received at all.

Once the term ended, my batch had to attend a compulsory MBR conference. This presented many with the opportunty to whine incessantly about how ''My internship starts this week/ JUST A DAY after the exams!'' While this resulted in a lot of petting and clucking about the misfortunate people who had to work abhi sae, the woeful whiners secretly revelled in the prospects of how they would be done early and would feel sorry for those who would be slaving away in Ramazan. Little did they know that internees ( at least I) will get off at 3 then. Tch tch.

This retardedness did not quell once the first week of vacations started. The I-Work-Harder-Than-Thou Competition began. This loser in my class bragged about how three of his ideas had already been approved for future financial products, and that he would be getting a stipend of Rs. 12,000 PKR. Since this is a paltry amount compared to what I earn at AH in a month, I remained unimpressed. Also, hardly anyone would believe that an internee would receive double the regular stipend. People who make up lies should at least make up believable ones.

People can be so ridiculous. This one guy I know ditched a fairly good internship because 'they were making me do such a big project and the stipend was so low!' He promptly ditched a good opportunity to learn in favour of a lousy internship with is more of a summer camp, with free food as the only consolance. A regular query seems to be 'How much are they paying you?' Yes, I totally understand how everyone needs money to fill the empty stomachs of their five hungry children. But I fail to understand how a stipend that is Rs. 500 less than anyone else's will make a dent in your pocket.

This is also the time of the year when fashion freaks like my sister have a chance to shine, or rather whine. She spent endless days poring over the multitude of dresses in our wardrobe, complained that she had 'nothing to wear' and ended up flooding our already crammed wardrobe. The Summer Internship Collection rage has caught on now. And yes, we won't be needing to make her a bridal trousseau anymore.

Lastly, there are those who feel that it is their duty to inform us of what they have been having for lunch. Internship pictures are being used to convey the exact degree of oil in each company cafetaria's biryani so that we can create a benchmark for the biryani in the IBA cafetaria. Albums also contain close-ups of the insides of ice-cream cups so that everyone can gauge the amount and colour of ice-cream being doled out (and feel sad about having to pay for their food. Namely me).

The only thing I WILL brag about is the access card I received on Thursday. Because not only does it have a decent picture on it, it opens up doors too.

Thursday, July 8, 2010


Sometimes it's not only the students who make me feel like banging my head against a wall, but also some of the teachers. One of my classmates from IBA, Muneeb-ur-Rehman recently joined AH to teach IELTS. The other day, it was raining heavily and so none of his students turned up. Instead of going home, Muneeb whined about having to cancell class- whined to the reception walay,  to Sir Irfan, and to everyone in the vicinity- and occupied a chair. I just rolled my eyes and thought dude, go home!

An African guy and his sister were sitting in the reception when I ducked out of class to get some handouts. Apparently no one at the reception could understand a word of what he was saying- he didn't seem to know any Urdu- so Sir Irfan was called for.

The African guy mumbled something and Sir reiterated 'What? You want to sell us books?'

'No! I give books,' he repeated adamantly. 'For Computer Studies.'

After ten minutes, Sir finally figured out that he was not a salesman. 'Do you want to study here?' he asked, slowly enunciating each word.

'Me not study, my sister,' he pointed to the hijabi girl sitting on his right. 'Maths.'

Sir sighed. 'That will be a problem for us, because there will be a communication gap,' he motioned between the two of them, saying 'communication' as if he was breaking up a word for a child.

'Why? You teach,' insisted the African guy. Tch tch. Poor Sir.

Sir held up his hands. 'Sorry, I don't teach.' Haha. Yeah right, Sir.

'What has she done so far?' Sir questioned, but was unable to be understood.

Muneeb-ur-Rehman, who couldn't stand staying out of the conversation any longer, got up and plopped into the chair next to African Guy and his sister. 'What has she studied so far?'

African Guy managed to convey that she had completed high school back at home, and wanted to apply for Computer Studies at Sindh University. (Yes, everyday I get to know about universities I never knew existed). That took another ten minutes.

'Ok, you bring your books, I'll teach. Come on Friday, I have class from 7-9,' volunteered Muneeb-ur-Rehman. It turned out that the books were for prep and not for Computer Studies.

Sir Irfan chuckled. 'Arey, tum parhao gaey kya ussay?' (Will you teach him)

Muneeb-ur-Rehman shrugged. 'Sure. Bring your books, we'll see.'

Apparently, he had agreed to teach the girl Math, when he's a teacher for English. During a time slot when he would be conducting an IELTS class. I guess the African guy really took a warming to Muneeb-ur-Rehman, because he asked me to call him from Sir Irfan's office a couple of minutes later.

'Please call, the guy,' he requested, as if Muneeb-ur-Rehman was THE GUY. When he came out from the office, he asked him to repeat everything he had just been told for the past half hour. Haha.

Wednesday, July 7, 2010

Retard and retard-er

Teaching at a test prep center sometimes feels like volunteering at an instituition for underprivileged children. Not only do you get to feel sorry for kids who are absolutely pathetic at Math or English, but you also feel tremendously blessed that you went to good instituitions/ are skilled enough/ are just plain smart (if you really have that inflated a head).

I don't mean to sound discriminatory or snotty, but some of the things people say or write are absolutely apalling, and makes you marvel at their creativity. The end of IBA test prep was also the day that teacher evaluations were conducted. One of my friends got the following comment 'Sir Bilal comes in runningly, teaches runningly, and runs out runningly. He is always in a hurry.'

Even if the student aptly managed to describe the pace of Bilal's going-abouts, I would've slapped the kid for such apalling grammar. That too, after taking English classes for three months, and just  ONE DAY before the IBA test. If I had been his English teacher, I would've had a heart attack there and then.

Then there's Headband, who is turning out to be the bane of my existence. The other day I asked him if he had completed the handout on Sentence Correction and the review test at the end. Headband sheepishly scratched his headband-y head and muttered 'Yeah, I did. But I got 10 questions right out of 50.' (Read that with a wannabe American accent, rolling your 'r's like a retard).

 If only imaginary sparks emanating from me could set fire to his hair. 'Ok fine, what exercises do you have a problem with?' And I flipped his handout to check out his answers. After answering a couple of his questions, I interjected snidely 'You told me that you thought this was easy....?'

Headband made a pathetically confused expression. 'Er, yeah, but I don't know what's wrong. I get the concepts, but I don't get the questions.'

After suppressing all the insults and abuses I could muster from my limited vocabulary, I just blurted out 'Well, your English is pathetic, and if you want to improve, then you need to spend more time on this than whing about Math.' Ok I didn't say 'whining', but still.

 He continued asking me the dumbest questions ever, right after affirming that he had understood every bit of the preceding exercise. Anyway, I didn't mind since that's my job, duh. At least I had forced him to study my subject during class and not blabber about how bad he was at Math and needed Bilal.

Headband skipped class today. Bilal thinks that he's scared of me. And I think it's high time I give him a better reason to feel that way.

Sunday, July 4, 2010

Struggles Of A Wannabe Chartered Financial Analyst

Studying CFA is kind of invigorating -as long as I don't think about how daunting it is to give an exam which has a 33% pass rate *gulp*. Finishing one of these gargantuan tomes fills me with an immense sense of pride, haha. Normally, I am awful at remembering quotes, but this Chinese saying has left an indelible impact on my mind- 'A journey of a thousand miles begins with a single step.' And so, I remind myself of this adage and toil on, much like the pilgrims in Paul Bunyan's Pilgrim's Progress, waiting for the day my heavy burden tumbles off and set me free. However, there are five more books to go and loads of questions to solve for practice. I really really really want to clear this, more than anything else in the world *crossed fingers*.
This journey of five months and seventeen hours began with an important discovery- how to use a financial calculator. It was akin to writing with a pen for the first time, and I experienced the same sense of awe and wonder and grown-up-ness as I dusted off the calculator, coughed, and slid back the cover with a satisfying click.

I was poring over the FRA book, looking at a solved example on how to calculate the present value of a bond. Try as I may, I just couldn't figure out how in the world that stupid bulky montrosity of a calculator could help me obtain PMT. I furiously jabbed the PMT button a number of times (the manual did mention durable keys), but to no avail. I texted a couple of friends, whose instructions weren't of much help. I entered various values, and then realized that the values had to be entered first, and then the related buttons had to be punched in. I was making some progress, yay! I alternately punched in the CMPT button and the PMT button, but to no avail. So much for trying to follow instructions from SchweserNotes, I thought bitterly.

Suddenly, a random combination of button-pressing produced the right answer. My pulse quickened. I rapidly tried to conjure up the same number on the screen trying to remember what I had pressed. And I realized that it wasn't the FRA book that was dumb. It had been me all along
I had thought pressing either CMPT or PMT would give me the answer. Little had I thought that CMPT meant COMPUTE, and was not an alternative name for PAYMENT or PMT. And that was exactly what the FRA book had been urging me to do by stating that CMPT -> PMT.

This was my moment of epiphany, the golden hour when I was meant to shout Eureka and prance about the room as if I was high on Red Bull. However, my happiness was short-lived. After tackling a bunch of questions dealing with present value, I realized that I also needed to know how to calculate IRR for a series of cashflows. Using the darned financial calculator. Blegh. So much for pretending that figuring out the financial calculator was like getting neuroscience.

Instant Celebrity-Ness

I never even knew that my humble little blog had become world famous. Ok, IBA-famous. But yesterday, Nadir Hashmi from uni contacted me and asked if I could come to attend the last day of Invent. I racked my brain for ages and then finally asked him 'What's that?'

Well, it turned out that Invent is some event that has been going on for the past 3 months and is a business plan competition with a spin- people from various universities like IBA and NED etc have to form groups and participate so that they can benefit from each individual's expertise. And yours truly has been invited to come and blog about it.

So not only do I know that Nadir Hashmi, who's writing I admire immensely, likes my blog, but that I have been given free reign when it comes to criticizing the event on the 18th. As of now, I have picked out a so-not-undercover outfit and have chalked out plans to critique the event. So blog followers, keep watching this space :)

Thursday, July 1, 2010

IBA Farewell 2010

I was filled with a sense of trepidation. Students for SAT/GRE/GMAT can't afford to have days off because some of them join us for a couple of weeks only. So when I called Sir Irfan, totally having rehearsed a bad toothache and a desperation to go to the dentist, I got to know that class had been cancelled yesterday. Apparently some hungamay had taken place at NIPA. Story of our lives, by now.

IBA farewells have been much anticipated events ever since I joined this esteemed instituition 3 years ago. However, over the years, the recession, level of inflation, on-going construction, and the number of cars our VPs have stolen out of the ISC (formerly BASC's) budget have led to grim consequences - a farewell in a shadi ka lawn next to Marriott last year, to the one held at Jade Hall, Arena with only the graduating batch as attendees.

My sister and I promptly decided to become party crashers (not really, Shahzer Baig invited us, as my sis keeps on reminding me) and arrived at the venue. Ramish tried to pass us off as volunteers, but in true spirit of being a freshie, my sister piped up 'No we're not volunteers, Shehzar invited us!' And true to our position as seniors, we ignored her.

As Hasan Bilal put it aptly, it looked like a shadi. Anyway, I worked my way down the hall, talking to people and essentially keeping my ears open for gossip. The only thing that I discovered was that our VP has not utilized the ISC fund to get Yokoheight. Nevertheless, he has still managed to charm an unsuspecting, gullible freshie and was at the farewell with her. Mr. I-Want-To-Be-Different was in his element, dying to stand out at his own farewell. And no, I'm not talking about Saad Hashmi who came in jeans, just to rub in that he's interning at Engro. I personally thought that the bottles with the titles were cute. Sadly, some loser just had to bump into the table and break a number of them.

I was feeling extra cranky without my usual dose of AH-ing. So when some guys from the admin handed Faisal Danish and me a form for evaluating the IBA events conducted in the past year, I vehemently penned down a paragraph of how abominably horrible all of them have been. Too bad for the admin guy in-charge- he asked for it. I felt like saying- Why do you think we're at a farewell, you retard? Just because two people are standing by the titles- wali table doesn't mean that they are eager to fill out dumb forms.

I hope they actually bother to read the part where I wrote 'Should stop hogging all our money and use it to actually fund IBA events.'
I spent some talking to Osama Naseem and complaining about the lack of eye-candy at IBA. When he pointed to Rabeet Ahsan and Munib Agha, all I had to say was 'EW.'

The rest was a blur of multi-hued saris and tear-jerking (NOT!) videos I was hardly interested in. I wanted to attend the farewell because I have a number of friends in the graduating batch, and I couldn't bear the idea of not getting to see them one last time. I won't bother to wax poetic about how much I'll miss them....because that I won't. As I have repeatedly told many of them, I feel insanely jealous that I have to spend one more agonizing year of forced attendance, maneuvering my way through a maze of partly-constructed buildings, and much dreaded job hunts.

I would've put up pictures of the hall, but my camera is filled with pictures of my sister posing with her friends. Freshies. Blegh.