Killer looks

8

After school, Joana and I went to her home to discuss the situation. She sits nicely on her bed with her legs crossed. Her hair comes in front of her face leaving her one eye staring at me. “Hey, snap out of it. Don’t you dare fall in love with me,” she shouted.

I don’t know whether it’s an invitation or a threat as she smiled coyly turning her eyes away from me. I didn’t know what to say. Let it play out by itself. Why ruin the moment?

“You need a solution. Right?” she asked.

“Of course, I do. What do you suggest?”

“Make your last post today. Make your last presence be felt. Hit it like you mean it.”

“Hit whom?” I asked in puzzlement.

“The ‘#BoycottFacebook’ post!”

“Ah! But I don’t want to let go. I have a lot of connections. How will I contact them? My network will be lost…”

“No! It will all be there, but only the ones that matter. Not everyone can be a network. Define your own one. Contact through telephone or email. Email is still is the most potent of all platforms.”

“But…”

“I won’t hear anything in this regard. Haven’t you suffered enough? Do you want more? What kind of a person would want more after such an incident? Make me understand.”

“I don’t know how to, I can’t explain it well enough. I just can’t leave it all together. There has to be another way.”

“Then good luck with finding it,” she said pushing me towards the door.

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How to prepare for the GMAT

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The Graduate Management Aptitude Test (GMAT) is an online test which assesses your quantitative, verbal, analytical, and reading skills. It may seem daunting at the beginning especially if you score low marks on your first practice test. All it takes is a good amount of practice and you will definitely score high in the process.

It is not about the quantity but the quality. Take an example of an aspirant who practices 500 questions from a single topic without focusing on his mistakes. While another aspirant practices just 50 questions focusing on his mistakes and addressing them with better understanding. The latter is able to score more on a given test with better speed and accuracy. Yes, speed and accuracy are the two most important factors in an aptitude test.

Don’t try to solve too many questions for practice. Instead, revise the questions already answered and see if you are better able to tackle them.

If you are unable to strategize and solve a question quickly and correctly in the test, then no amount of practice will help you crack the test. So focus more on test taking skills and concepts. Concepts will help you to solve questions which are tricky. Understanding is the key. Make notes of key concepts for revision purpose. Time yourself to keep a track of your improvement in taking lesser time to solve a question.

Focus on concepts first and then timing. Find a faster way to solve each problem.

You need to practice for accuracy. For this, a disciplined approach is required. Develop a schedule and stick to it. Studying infrequently or few hours in a week doesn’t work. Study regularly to get into the rhythm of solving questions.

High scorers usually study for 4-5 months. So give yourself adequate time for preparation.

Always try to solve a question on your own first so that you know where you stand with your concepts and solving ability. Repeat the materials and analyze your mistakes.

Prepare an error log to revise your mistakes.

Verbal is not about grammar and vocabulary. It is about understanding the logic.

Practice verbal section regularly.

Solve enough mocks to get into the rhythm and develop a strategy. There won’t be enough time to think of strategies during the test. Practice tests regularly.

Strategize beforehand.

Indulge in recreational activities to take a break from studies. Maintain a balance between study and leisure. You will have to sacrifice your social life to a certain extent.

Physical fitness will help with concentration and stamina for the big day.

 Test-taking skills:

  1. Focus on finishing the test rather than answering each question correctly.
  2. Be in the moment to concentrate on the test rather than on other things.
    1. Don’t think about the previous question.
  3. Review each test and analyze your mistakes.
  4. Focus on accuracy.
  5. Don’t try to answer each and every question.
  6. Let go of the question if you are taking too much time to solve it.
  7. Practice guessing techniques to solve quickly.
  8. Eliminate options to get the right answer.
  9. Practice tests at the same time slot as the real GMAT test.
  10. Eat and sleep properly before the test day.
  11. Avoid:
    1. Silly mistakes like simple multiplication and not reading the questions properly.
    2. Getting stuck in questions and wasting time.
    3. Double checking your answers.
    4. Rushing to the answers in Quant.
    5. Thinking about the next question before completing the current one.
    6. Studying the day before the exam.

To get you started with concept building and extensive practice, use the following resources to your advantage:

Verbal:

  1. The Official Guide for GMAT Review is a must to get the flavor of what GMAT is all about. After all, this book is providing you the official questions used in the real GMAT. This should be your first go-to resource for preparation.
  2. e-GMAT is the best resource out there for Verbal preparation. They focus on understanding and solving, rather than using tricks to solve quickly. Once you get used to the method, you will start solving questions at a reasonably good speed. It is well known for its SC and CR techniques which are simple yet powerful armors to have in your bag. They will help you increase accuracy multiple times in a short time period.
  3. Manhattan is a good resource for SC, CR, and Their books are a treasure trove to practice verbal questions to the fullest.
  4. The PowerScore GMAT Critical Reasoning Bible is a nice one for practicing CR questions. It will help you to reduce the time taken to solve CR problems.

Quant:

  1. The Official Guide for GMAT Review (Refer to Verbal: Point 1)
  2. Total GMAT Math book should be used at the beginning of your preparation to build concepts from the ground level.
  3. MGMAT book is a great place to start with building up your quant concepts. They have comprehensive materials to help you ace this section. Their online course will help you further.
  4. GMAT club tests will help to strengthen your grip on this section. It is a highly recommended resource for quant practice. It is the best platform for discussing the problems you might be facing in solving the questions.
  5. e-GMAT is a good place to understand and practice quant questions to get better at it. It will help you with straightforward fool-proof approaches.
  6. Magoosh will help you with further practice.

Mock tests:

  1. GMATPrep is highly recommended by top scorers around the world.
  2. GMAT club is also highly recommended. It is a great resource for quants practice.
  3. Manhattan mock tests are not close to the actual GMAT in terms of the score that you get in the mock tests. But still, it is a good resource to practice.
  4. 800 score is a decent place to practice mock tests if you have exhausted the top three options.

Now you know how to prepare for the GMAT. On your mark, get set, go!

P.S.: The above is not my personal experience. This is the result of the countless opinions I gathered from gmatclub.com. Enjoy!

A spy in our midst

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Facebook, Cambridge Analytica, Aleksandr Kogan, and most of all, politicians around the world are under the banner of deceit. They are being accused of pulling wool over the eyes of countless voters. Let us first see what the ruckus is all about.

Facebook personality quiz app developer Aleksandr Kogan (Britain) developed an app Thisisyourdigitallife in 2013. He sold the data collected from the app to Cambridge Analytica. Cambridge Analytica got the data of 2.7 lakh Facebook users. In the process, they got the data of 5 crore users from the connections of 2.7 lakh users. Then, they illegally harvested data of these users through data mining. They used the data in Donald Trump’s election campaign in the U.S.A. which led to his victory. They ran all the campaigns for him on Facebook. The issue came to see the light of the day through the voice of the whistle-blower, Christopher Wylie.

Through the use of Facebook data, they can micro-target (specific individuals or a small group of like-minded individuals) to keep showing stories that people want to hear even though they are totally fake stories. This will slowly lead to a certain political opinion over a period of time. People will vote as per their understanding from the fake news. Free will goes out for a toss.

The irony lies in Cambridge Analytica’s twitter page which says they can change behavior and influence people and this is what they are accused of. They proclaimed that they did a psychographic analysis of data. Psychological manipulation by targeted social media campaign definitely packs a punch. However, they are deeply hurt by it. Their CEO Alexander Nix denies any wrongdoing.

Mark Zuckerberg accepted the mistake (after five days of the news outbreak) of not being able to control the misuse of data. Facebook has automated tools in place to do all the micro-targeting. Is Facebook a dangerous platform – a spy watching our moves and monitoring our behavior?

This scenario reminds me of the Matrix film where Neo was living in a controlled environment until Morpheus gives him the red pill. This film represented a dystopian future where machines controlled humans by keeping them under an illusion, a false pretense. Another beautiful example is the dystopian novel 1984 by George Orwell. And this leads to the big question – the future of social media? Is the big brother watching us and dictating our moves?

Facebook has been under the radar of numerous scandals in the year 2017 and now this is the latest one. With 2.1 billion users and being the eight-largest listed company in the world, Facebook is reeling under tremendous pressure. There is a possibility of the current COO, Sheryl Sandberg, and the head of security, Alex Stamos, leaving the company. It’s share price tumbled down about 9% since the breakout of the news.

Now think from Indian consumer’s perspective. We don’t have the problems which are considered as problems by other Western nations. Most of us don’t shy away from sharing our personal data on social media. We even allow apps on our mobiles to have access to our messages and picture gallery. But what about our freedom? The democracy is tilting towards the totalitarianism of Facebook and Whatsapp.

All the Indian political parties have been clients of Cambridge Analytica in the past. But still, they are denying any involvement. The Indian Law Minister Ravi Shankar Prasad said that we won’t spare Facebook if we came to know that something similar happened in India. India desperately needs a strong data protection law.

The news is known to be mostly negative and depressing. Instead of showing the prowess of science and technology in India, the news is filled with political and religious strifes. Trifles take precedence over the more important news. The progress of ISRO (Indian Space Research Organisation) is not in the limelight, whereas Bollywood and cricket always are. And now the fake news is like adding insult to injury.

The biggest concern is the youth. They are social media savvy. They consume most of the news through social media. Now if they are provided with fake news, then they end up believing it. They form their worldly opinions based on these news snippets. Moreover, they are hooked to other platforms like Whatsapp and Instagram, both of which are owned by Facebook. With such detailed information at the disposal of corporations, they can indulge in nano-targeting (focus on an individual).

There is a #DeleteFacebook movement going on. This was started on Twitter by the co-founder of Whatsapp Brian Acton. Tesla and SpaceX CEO Elon Musk deleted his firms’ Facebook accounts as well. The Indian Government should join the movement and make a Facebook for India.

Facebook has to answer a lot of questions. Its services are free for the users but what about data privacy? Our data sells for billions. There are companies out there raving to get their hands on such precious data which says a lot about us. These companies then use the data to advertise their products and services. In the process, they use our personal data and manipulate us into buying their services. Being intrusive in nature, Facebook gets a big thumbs down for its future. It’s Game Over!

P.S.: I wrote this on 26th March 2018.

Judy

5

Little Judy is home playing with her baby. She named her Sara, the princess. Judy devoted all her mind to her daughter. This was the best thing she could do other than facing the torturing by her husband and mother-in-law. Now she’s occupied with something to take her mind off the humdrum of life or whatever is left of it. She is thirty years old but looks like in her mid-40s. The expressions on her face resemble a woman of intense suffering. But she had to smile for her baby. Sara is the one who made her life normal. She is the spice of her life. She brings her mother to life.

Now Sara is a year old and today is her birthday. Her father and grandmother don’t even remember her special day. Perhaps they don’t want to. She hardly understands what this day means to her but her mother does. Judy made some sweet for her from flour, sugar, and butter. She made her a spoonful of sweetness and gave her a treat which she relished. The delight in the eyes of Sara made Judy’s emotions sky high and she starts crying. Sara steps in and gives some company to her mother. Both start comforting each other. The little joys in life are thrust onto you somehow or the other, whether you expect it or not.

The yarn dresser

13

“Sir, they are here. Should I send them right away?” George asked.

“Bien sur. Please,” I said.

“Hey! Look what I found: a Sam-wich stuck in a bed,” Jenna said.

“No, it’s a bummer. I don’t smell any meat,” Brittany came along.

Finally, Murphy stepped in. “What is it, mon amour? You look so pale. Is everything all right?”

“It is and it is not. I don’t know how much there is left of me on this earth. I am scheduled to travel anytime now,” I said.

“By travel, you mean…” Jenna asked.

“Okay, I will leave my body and travel out of the world leaving everything behind,” I completed her sentence.

“But you don’t believe in such things,” Murphy confirmed.

“I don’t know what I believe in anymore. Things are changing at a rapid pace. I am unable to keep up. First, Brexit and now talks of Scotexit. It’s all a farce and I am caught in it without a notion of comprehension. I think and I fail. It’s like I am going insane. Words come out of my mouth before I make sense of it. You can ask George, how I have been these past few days. George?” I said.

“Uh! Yes, Sir. You haven’t been yourself lately. The brain tumor is messing with you, making you utter things. I feel for you, Sir,” George sobbed.

Others stare at me in disillusionment. I didn’t tell them about my cancer. How could I? I didn’t want to receive the same treatment from them that I do from George. I needed to feel that everything is all right. I wanted them to treat me like nothing happened. What other choice did I have? I did what I could with whatever time is left for me.

“So you made us feel that you were feeling under the weather all this time. How could you…” Jenna snapped.

“I did what was necessary or what I felt right. I am sorry if it was wrong on my part. I never wanted to hurt you, ever,” I confirmed.

“But you did. We would have liked to be a part of your journey. Why would you seclude us like this and keep us in the dark?” Murphy started crying.

“The queen is an obnoxious animal, digging her way into a sink. She has no power left but cries for it in her heart. And in her heart, she knows she can’t have it. Then why hold that title? Isn’t it foolish to do so? What’s the matter with her anyway? To all those kings and queens out there: please go have a life and stop pondering on your rumbling dynasty!” I blabbered.

“What? What are you talking about? I don’t understand the relevance,” Jenna looked at me in puzzlement.

“Sir is not himself now. He is not in proper control of his words. I don’t know how to explain it better. I am sorry,” George said.

“Scotland is treated as a backyard for England just like the third world countries were during their colonization. We don’t give a penny to their culture and values. You ask for freedom and all you get is a backlash. Open your eyes and follow my rule or so England says. Let the pony ride all the way to the north and create havoc with its stupidity,” I kept on.

“Stop. You are not making any sense. You better rest, Sir,” George interfered.

“I will leave if I hear any more of your nonsense…” Murphy said.

George shouted at the sight of my gasping for air. I heard panic while I breathed my last.

The yarn dresser

12

“Wars. Why do we get into wars? For a change? Is it worth it? To get into America, Spaniards unleashed unspeakable horrors and injustice on the native Indians. This was a war on the turf of the Indians which made them bleed profusely…” I said.

“Oh, not again,” George uttered in a whisper.

“Did you say something, George? I couldn’t catch it.”

“No, Sir. I was just clearing my throat. There’s an irritation.”

“I wish you well, George. I always have. I know I sound like a man with years. But I am not.”

“No, Sir. But you are very wise at the age of 23.”

“I don’t know what is making me say things that I do nowadays. My time has come. It won’t take long and I will be gone. I want to say the final goodbye to all my near and dear ones once and for all. Would you please call them? Ask them to see me tomorrow without fail.”

“Absolutely, Sir. What should I tell them? Any reason you wish to share?”

“Tell them to burn me instead of putting me in a coffin. Why pour money over a dead man? I don’t want to be undertaken by an undertaker,” I laughed and George went away nodding his head profusely.

The yarn dresser

11

“The power over the lives of others is overwhelming. It is a great power to have as it can be seen from the history of mankind. The man has always wanted to have power over other animals and over his own kind. This power is like a narcotic whose effect grows up on you with time. The more the people are under you, the more you want. There is no end to this. People have died throughout our history in the quest for this power. Now the question is: will this power keep on dictating its terms on us? Why do we submit to it even though we don’t want to fight and kill? Maybe, deep down inside we want to pursue a game of prey every now and then just to serve our appetite for aggression. We force ourselves on others to get a certain kick out of it. Dominance is a virtue which most of the people love. I love to dominate those who work for me. I want them to serve me with all their souls,” I kept on only to be interrupted by George.

“Sir, I am afraid you are speaking of things which may disturb others. It’s better that you keep your distance from your acquaintances as much as possible. I am also limiting the presence of other servants around you.”

“Yes, you are right. I have lost my mind. I hardly make out what comes out of my mouth. It seems like ages since I felt like myself. I have been difficult for you. You should…”

“Sir, please. I am honored to serve you at this hour of your journey. It is my duty. I swore to serve your family till my last breath and I am not stepping back. I guess you have to tolerate my presence.”

“You are a good man with a good heart. I don’t know what I will do without you. Let me now rest. I want to rest and forget about the world once and for all. No more grumpy me.”