Wednesday, September 28, 2005


a new definition of "cocktail"

Apparently, in IESE, a cocktail doesn´t mean a drink with some amount of alcohol in it. It means orange juice, water, coke (coca-cola)* and probably some other sodas. I am not kidding people, it is true. We were supposed to have a cocktail sponsored by a big bank yesterday at around 6:30 pm. I was all excited to cheer myself up after a long day of CV workshop. To my disappointment, there were no cocktails (as per my definition). And on top of that, there was hardly any food except some potato chips and pieces of cheese.

There was a welcome reception for 2nd year students not far from where we were. I think I saw cocktail and some real food being served there. For a moment, I thought of joining them by removing my tag (none of the second years had their tags, obviously), but decided not to as I thought that day is not that far away. I know one year will fly by very soon. :)

So future 1st years, don´t have high expectations on a cocktail reception sponsored by a big name company.

*In Spain, you don´t say Coke, it means something else. Always say "cocacola". :)

Sunday, September 25, 2005


Visit to Park Guell

Today Srijana and I went to Prak Guell, a beautiful park in Barcelona architected by the famous Gaudi. It was indeed amazing. It was quite a uphill walk to get to the park. There were some elevators but many of them were not functioning.

This time we managed to take some pictures. I like to post one today in the blog. This would be my first photo posting in the blog.

One interesting point, I checked out Noelle's blog just now. And guess what, she was also in Park Guell today. But I think she went there earlier than us.

Friday, September 23, 2005



Today was the last day of the pre-courses week. We had “Financial Accounting” and “Quantitative Methods” classes for our pre-courses. While “Quantitative Methods” was relatively easy, Financial Accounting was a completely new subject for me. So obviously, it was not easy for me to understand everything in the class. And the class seemed to go very fast as well. But partly I was to be blamed. I didn’t read all the chapters I was supposed to read and I didn’t do all the assignments I was supposed to do before the classes started. But I am not the only one who is in this boat. I think there are plenty of other people who are in the same boat.

Today was an interesting day for another reason. There is a big festive weekend called La Merce in Barcelona starting from today. And basically most of the businesses in Barcelona are closed during this festive weekend. Consequently, many departments in IESE were closed as well. Cafeteria was the one among them which was half open. Only coffee, croissants and sandwiches were available. So today, most of the students who were in IESE for pre-courses had sandwiches for their lunch.

Yesterday was the last day of class of our favorite professor of Spanish.
Everyone in the Spanish class misses her. As I said in my previous blog, she was one of the best professors I have ever had.

Wednesday, September 14, 2005


Intensive Spanish Classes

I never got a chance to write about my Spanish classes that I have been attending since Sep 5th. We have classes from 9:45 in the morning to 6:15 in the evening except for some breaks in between and 1 and half hour long lunch break. As you can see, the classes are intensive. The classes are indeed long and at some days, there is too much to grasp. However, our professor ( or “la profesora”) in Espanol is very lively. She doesn’t let the class be boring at any time. She is a good professor, sensitive to different cultures and very humorous. In fact, there is not a single day when we do not laugh a lot in the class.

I agree, it gets tiring towards the end of the day but it is a wonderful class. Our class is very international. In a class of 10, we are from Japan, Finland, India, UK, US, Belgium and Nepal including me. Because of the interactions we are asked to do in the class, I now know something about Finland and Belgium that I didn’t know before. One interesting thing I found out today about Finland was the cops charge you for a misdemeanor like speeding according to how much you earn. Apparently in Finland, the salaries of people are public. That is very interesting.


Minister Mentor of Singapore in IESE

This was the first session I ever attended in IESE. My expectations were high. The speaker was His Excellency Lee Kuan Yew, the Minister Mentor of Singapore. He was the ex-Prime Minister of Singapore and someone who kicked off the development revolution of Singapore to eventually transform her from a developing country to a prosperous one that we know today. So there were a lot to learn from his experiences.

The summary of the things he mentioned were
1) Emphasized the importance of English to Singaporean people on how it would open endless opportunities to them.
2) Opened up the country to multi-national companies (MNC) that would bring a lot of jobs and transfer of knowledge. This was something other neighbors like Malayasia and Indonesia had not done.
3) Made sure the quality of education is the top notch one. Every Singaporean would then be prepared to take the jobs the MNCs had to offer.

Overall, he was a very confident and eloquent speaker. His experiences were more interesting to listen when he answered the questions from the audience. Previously, he was just reading off from something he had prepared earlier. The prepared speech was informative as well, but not as interesting to listen to as the question and answer session.

There were English to Spanish and vice-versa translators on the scene behind the auditorium. I could see them when I turned back from my seat. At one point, the voice of the translators was louder than the actual speaker, which I found to be a little weird. However it was fixed quickly. Bravo to the technical team of the auditorium. The auditorium is quite sophisticated. I am impressed.

So yes the speaker session was up to my expectations. Bravo to the ‘Continuous Education Program” who organized it. It also gave me an opportunity to see our Dean Prof . Jordi Canals in person. I had seen his photo in our brochure but hadn’t seen him in person. He was the moderator of the event.

Monday, September 12, 2005


The first road race I participated in

Yesterday was a special day. I took part in a road race, organized in the outskirts of Barcelona. We were like 10 of us including 3 Spanish friends I got to know yesterday. We reached the place around 9 in the morning but the race would only start at 10:30. But that gave us plenty of time to chat with each other and practise some of my Spanish with my new Spanish friends. The race was of 5 kilometers. The town was very beautiful and picturesque. I would call it 'muy bonita' if I were to use my limited knowledge of Spanish.

The organizers were, I should say, well prepared and sophisticated. They had laptops to enter our names and gave us a radio chip that we would be tieing with our shoes. The radio chip would let the organizers know when I started the race, the points I crossed and the time I finished the race, very high tech indeed.

I did okay in the race. 332 persons finished ahead of me and 34 persons finished after me. So now you understand what my definition of 'okay' was. It is always relative, isn't it? Since it was my first race, I didn't feel bad. At least I was not the last person to finish. My shoes turned out to be not comfortable during the race. But I didn't want to quit the race in the middle even after I the shoes became uncomfortable. When I checked my feet after I reached home, I noticed some blisters. Oh well, I think I should be fine in a couple of days.

I forgot to mention that we also got to have water, sandwich and a tshirt after completing the race, all for free. I think that was such a nice deal. And our friend Noelle actually won a trophy in the race. We were so proud of her. Its funny that she was in fact thinking of not joing the race earlier.

So that was the first running race I ever participated. Lucky me, I was destined to take part in a race in Barcelona, a wonderful city with wonderful weather.

Friday, September 02, 2005


Spanish Embassy in New Delhi

The Spanish Embassy in New Delhi reserves a separate blog for all the good work it has been doing. Because the embassy staff don't believe in the modern form of communication, they don't have a website and they don't answer the phone. In case you are ever lucky to get hold of one of the embassy staff, the staff hangs up the call before you are done talking. That was so nice, wasn't it?

After getting some information from the partners who had applied for dependent visa in the IESE forums, we went to Delhi to apply for our visa. We reached the embassy at around 11 pm. For a reason I will mention later, we were able to apply for our visa the same day. However, this was not how the things normally worked. If you wanted to apply for a visa, you would have to come at around 4:30 in the morning to be in a line to get tokens. Supposedly, they only allow 15 or so applications per day. Since there would be more than 15 applicants, it would be first come, first serve system. But guess what, even if you come to the queue at around 4:30 in the morning, you are only going to get your token at around 9:30 in the morning. So you would be standing in queue for 5 hours in a place which doesn't have any restroom or a canteen to have tea/coffee. Don't you wish they had a reservation system where they would give you a date and time to apply for your visa? In this regards, I think the American embassy is very efficient. They give you a date to apply for your visa. After the interview, if you are approved for your visa, you get the visa stamped in your passport the same day.

After applying for the visa, then you would have to wait for a month or so to have your visa approved. Since I was aware of the time taken to approve a visa, I was okay with it. It would have been nice to have it approved sooner, but since they tell us in advance about the wait, I don't have much to complain on this. But I still like to make comments about the system they had to find out the status of your application. The Embassy in New Delhi gives you a number of the "visa section" to call to find out the status. But guess what, nobody ever picks up the phone. Never..ever....Why do you want to give out a number which you are never going to pick up? That was so annoying. Then I called the direct number of the embassy where I was told to call only after 2 on Mondays and Thursdays. They didn't give this information to us earlier. Still no luck calling the visa section after 2 on those days. So I had to call the direct numbers of the embassy (not the visa section) to ask for status.I guess they also realized that they don't pick up the phone in the visa section and hence agreed to note down my application number to check my status. At least it was better than nothing.

You thought that was the end of the story. No that is not. After we had our visas approved, we came to the embassy to have our visas stamped. Guess what, the lady who was supposed to have the visas stamped was out on vacation. So there was basically no one else to do her work. Thats what we were told by the security guards. I saw people coming to the embassy for "at least" 5 consecutive days to have their visas stamped and still didn't have any luck. I saw one guy who was already late attending his classes in a school in Barcelona. What a pain? What an inefficient embassy which can't even put someone else for the work when one person is on vacation? Again, with pure luck, Kapil and I were able to have our visas stamped by the third day. I think Kapil waited one more day than I did.

So that is the story of the Spanish Embassy in New Delhi. Let me make it clear, this is nothing against the Spanish people, I have found them to be extremely friendly and helpful to me. But something needs to be done about the visa section of the Spanish Embassy in New Delhi, India and Honorary Spanish Consulate in Nepal.


first day of school

The first day was exciting. I had to get up early in the morning , around 7:30 AM, unlike other days when I used to get up at 9 or so. We were going to have Spanish test, so I reviewed Spanish grammer at the last minute. Then headed to school with my other flatmates, one from Germany and one from the US.

In the school, we all got into the big auditorium. It was nice to see a lot of new faces, who I will be interacting with at least for the next 2 years and for years to come. We had the head of Spanish program say something in Spanish, I just didn't understand anything. So I raised my hand and used the famous phrase "No Entiendo". Everybody laughed. It was a funny moment. She then asked where I was from. When I said Nepal, she then said she was not surprised tha I didn't know Spanish.

We then had grammar test. I did ok. Actually less than OK but I am not worried because it is not like I knew a lot and did bad in the exam. I just didn't know a lot, so didn't expect to do good. The oral part was even worse. I hope, in 2 years, I will be able to nicely converse with someone in Spanish.

I met people from Portugal, France, US, Ireland, Greece, Lebanon and many other countries. It is truely a diverse class. Reminded me of my undergraduate college where there was such a diversity as well.


Spanish consulate in Kathmandu

I got the information on the paperwork I needed to apply for my visa from the Honarary Spanish Consulate in Nepal. The secretary who works in the consulate in Nepal seems to have problems helping other people. When I asked her to give me more than one copy of the application form, her answer was not of a usual kind "I am sorry, our photocopy machine is not working or we are not supposed to give more than a copy of the application form". Her answer was something along this line "Copy it outside" in a very rude manner. I used to assume that Nepalese people, no matter where they are working, would be nice people. I was wrong. When I asked her about what kind of visa my wife would be applying, her answer was "tourist visa". When I said I wanted her to apply for something similar to a dependent visa, her answer was there was no such thing as a dependent visa. According to her, my wife could only go as a tourist visa if she were to accompany me right from the start. She seemed very confident on her answer and she didn't have any time to explain the reasoning behind her answer.

She also seemed to be busy chatting on phone and from my intuition, it didn´t seem like a conversation related to office. We felt like she cared more about her phone conversation than helping some people who wanted to go to Spain for further studying. I wonder why such an incompetent person is hired in the consulate. And guess what, she doesn't know any Spanish. And worst of all, she couldn't even suggest a place for us to learn some Spanish. Come on, I think a member from a Spanish consulate would be able to recommend the best, if not, just name a few places to learn Spanish. I wonder what she is doing in the consulate. The consulate doesn't process any visas, hence its name "honorary". I also wanted to meet with the honorary consular Ambika Shrestha. The secretary noted down my name and the number, but I never got a call back. I suppose, if only a few people ever visit Spain from Nepal, it wouldn't be a difficult job to meet the consulate. But I was wrong in my assumption.

Thursday, September 01, 2005


found a place to live..a great relief

We have been looking for places last week to find a place to live this year. The one where we are staying is a temporary one. We finally found one. Kapil from India decided to take another room and the third room is still not occupied. But we are confident that we will find a person for the third room very soon as there are so many people who are still looking for a room.

One part I didn't like about renting this flat was we had to pay one month's rent as the fee for the rental agent. That is a huge amount just for finding a place for us. I wish we had found a place from an agency run by former IESE students. The agency doesn't charge any rental fee for select clients that include IESE students. The fee was 1200 Euros. If you are someone who has just come from Nepal with an exchange rate of 85 Rupees to 1 Euro, you don't even want to think about converting it to Nepali rupees. Now I wish I had come directly from the US where I was working before I spent 2 years in Nepal.

Initially, we were thinking that we would just take a room offered by others who already did the hard work of finding a place. But it seemed like many people don't like to share a flat with a couple, even if the room available was big enough for a couple. Oh well, didn't understand why that mattered. Perhaps there is this stereotype image of a couple who spend time just kissing each other in their room and never getting out of the room to share time with other flatmates. But we were different. Both of us wanted to live with other people in a flat, first just so that we don't feel bored in a new place and second, it would save us a couple of hundred Euros per month.

One great thing about the flat we are going to rent is the distance to walk to IESE. It takes only about 10 to 15 minutes. It doesn't mean I can avoid the uphill path to IESE but I think it is still more convenient than taking a Metro and walking from the last stop to IESE which is Reina Enselida. Just about everybody I have met do not seem to like the uphill path to IESE. It gets worse in hot days, like the one we had today. Talking about that, the last three days have been hot here, little past the "perfect" weather I have been calling.

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