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Tuesday, November 22, 2005

Canary Phwoar

Just a quick photo of everyone on the London Banking Tour sporting our Citigroup umbrellas in Canary Wharf - would love to give you a left-to-right rundown of everyone's name, country of origin and previous occupation but have yet to do the marketing case for tomorrow so I fear it will be a late enough night already !!! Ciao.

Monday, November 21, 2005

Hairy Mary's

Oh yes and another thing - I went for a haircut the other day ...

"Tell it to someone who gives a crap" I hear you saying.

Well I only mention it for it's anecdotal value. I had been looking for a normal barber around where I live for a while without much success and so was quite happy when I found what looked like one just round the corner. I went in and they agreed to see me straight away. I first realised the place was a bit more "fancy" than I thought when they gave me a book of David Beckham photos to look through ... "just a trim thanks" I replied in my best pidgen Spanish. They agreed but eventually cajoled me into having a hairwash aswell. I've had these before and the lady standing behind the washbasin was rather pretty so I agreed. I sat down, shut my eyes and the washing began. It pains me to admit it but it was all rather nice, being more like a head massage than a hairwash. Imagine my surprise then when I opened my eyes to see not the pretty lady I thought was massaging my head but the campest looking man in Barcelona !!! "Que tal ?!?" he cried !!! In my surprise I jolted upright, knocking the shower head clean out of his hands. This in turn sprayed water on the old lady sat next to me who started to squeal in Catalan. Everyone was staring and it was very embarrassing. I shuffled back to my "cutting seat" (still in my orange smock) and suffered the rest of my haircut in red-cheeked silence ...

Walking in from the cold

Yes folks Barcelona is no longer the sun-soaked Mediterranean paradise it was back in September. The winter nights are drawing in around us and the dark spectre of term-end exams has appeared on the not-too-distant horizon (four and a half weeks - cripes!).

Last Friday saw the annual IESE London Banking Tour, which is a tour of investment banks around London organised by IESE. Last Friday. London is COOOOLD at the moment !!! David, Alex and I headed off on the Thursday night and arrived at the Wix's Lane residence at around one in the morning. We were able to stay there as Sebastian and Christopher had agreed to vacate the premises in lieu of a weekend in Barcelona which was jolly kind of them (thanks chaps!). We got to bed around 2.30 in the end and had to be up at 5.30 to get to Canary Wharf by 7.30. The day then proceeded with a trip to five different banks where we had to pretend to be wowed by their "people oriented culture" and "commitment to core values" ... zzzzzzz ... Actually we did meet some interesting people and tonight I have just finished a bunch of applications for internships next summer. The most interesting of these would be with Barclays Capital in their Debt Capital Markets where they help companies raise finance through debt. My god did I just write that that sounds interesting ?!? I'm going crazy. Still it can't hurt to at least apply.

I returned from London on Saturday as Sebastian and Christopher were still here in Barcelona along with Amy and Mondana. It was fantastic to see them and we passed a marvellous evening in the Gothic Quarter of Barcelona in a great little tapas restaurant. Afterwards three friends from school Madhur (Indian and a.k.a The Big Easy), Juha (Finnish and very much so) and Alexandra (English and busty) were holding a party in a nightclub in town so we headed there. I'm not too sure what impression Seb and Chris took away from the whole proceedings but suffice to say their impression of IESE students is not what it was beforehand. For one thing the first person they encountered was Rafa (Mexican and hyper energetic) whose preferred greeting that night was a wolf whistle and a hug before whirling off into the depths of the nightclub. Then a girl from second year who I can never remember the name of (American and taller than me by a clear foot - seriously) followed by random selections from the IESE rabble. I think it takes someone from home to come visit to really appreciate how erm ... "diverse" ... my fellow students really are !!!

Lots else has happened since I last wrote here : most importantly the week before last saw me thigh-deep in mid-term exams. We have yet to recieve the scores for Decision Analysis (which I think I did ok on) but we have recieved results from Financial Accounting (cue fanfare...) I got a 96% - which sounds amazing but then 25% of the class got a 94% or above and given that only the top 15% or so get an A in this class it's very likely that even with only 2 wrong out of 50 I'll still just get a B ! Madre mia.

Otherwise the courses are going ok - I have to go and see the ABP (Analysis of Business Problems) professor tomorrow as I haven't been participating enough in the case studies. I had thought I was doing ok but apparently the old adage "could do better" is coming back to haunt me; I seem to remember my old school reports being littered with comments like this so I have resolved to buckle down even further than I have been and really get my head stuck into the books.

( pictures to follow as soon as I get some of the London trip - forgot my camera :( )

Tuesday, November 01, 2005

The loooong w/e

So - last weekend (it is Tuesday now) was a long one - today is a holiday so in Spain that also means that nobody works on the Monday - including dedicated 1st year MBA students. Early last week Cristina, Lena, David and I decided we would make a weekend of it and travel outside of Barcelona. There is a well-known town called Cadaqués about 2 hours up the coast where a lot of people in Barcelona either have second houses or holiday for the summer. By the Saturday we had rustled up a mob of around 16 people and so we all headed off at various times (Lena's car being typically bang on time and Alexandre's typically 5 hours late!). We (Andreas, Srini, Blaithin and I) stopped in Figueres on the way and whiled away a couple of lazy hours in a shady square mulling over our future dreams & aspirations. It turned out that none of us wanted to do anything more than run a restaurant or coffee shop !
The drive on to Cadaquez was really spectacular (see pics) - even if Andreas (Swiss) did insist on showing us his expert super-fast Alpine driving skills. Got to Cadaqués, had a couple of drinks with the rest of the posse, then headed out to the most spectacular restaurant I've been to. You drive out of town about 5 kilometres until you come across a remote lighthouse on the peninsular. All you can see as you drive up is the beam of white light circling through the mist then you come across the restaurant nestled underneath which glows a fiery yellow. An impressive sight followed by impressive food - "whiskey and cream reduction" etc. Fancy like ! Headed back into town afterwards where Alex and I took on the locals at pool (and won) before taking on Ryan (and losing). Usual shenanigans then ensued - drinking, dancing, not remembering much etc. etc.
Next morning (having gained an hour due to time-savings) at half eight five of us set out across the coastal mountains to trek back to the Cap de Creus lighthouse to see it during the day. It was a gorgeous day and a really great walk which included some bracing dips in the sea along the way.
And so, after a day spent wandering around the picturesque little streets of Cadaqués, the relucant drive back to the real world, and Barcelona.
And now, after half an hour's procrastination on a Tuesday morning, I really must get back to study. We have mid-terms next week and Financial Accounting is calling me ...

The long road to Cadaqués

Srini showing us he's the picture of health

Andreas is just happy to be alive

Alex feeling the chill

Now THAT is a poker face!!!

Cristina at the restaurant at the Cap de Creus

David losing it

Curry in Catalunya ...

Feeding time at the zoo ...

Lena watches the transactions with suspicion

Ooh the happy couple!

Ian at Cap de Creus

Costa Blanca