Monday, November 24, 2008

Faceless Citizens

The people who pay the price for changes in the economy are those in the informal sector like street vendors, yet their stories never make it to the front pages.

Whenever I happen to go to a mall to accompany someone, I end up buying something. But, while buying a lot of thoughts come into my mind - I do not like this mall culture.


I came across a thoughtful article published in THE HINDU, Sunday Magazine on November 16, 2008.

Some excerpts:

Our friendly neighbourhood vegetable vendor has disappeared. Without a trace. No one is able to tell me what happened to him. I ask the man who sells bananas. He also comes every day by taxi with a basket load of bananas. In a few hours, his basket is empty. But he doesn’t know what happened to the vegetable vendor.

Another reason could be economic. A new retail store has opened in the area selling fresh vegetables at marginally lower prices than what the vegetable vendor charged. So, even though his vegetables were decidedly fresher than those sold in the store, and people had an old relationship with him, the majority graduated to the novelty of going to the store and buying vegetables wrapped in plastic.

I narrate this story, which will have echoes in most other cities across India, because it tells us of the largest number of people who are losing jobs and livelihood. The media runs front page stories when airlines staff are laid off. We hear about redundancies in the private sector.

Yet, these people remain invisible. Economic problems always mean stock exchange news, or news of some big factories closing down or stopping production for a few days. But what will happen to people who did not have security in their employment, could never dream of a salaried job, but survived nonetheless on their wits and by providing a much needed service? Who is counting these losses? Is anyone even bothered?

Thursday, November 06, 2008

Rahul's Appraisal Time

PM:
Hey Rahul! I have just reviewed your tasks. I have also taken inputs from your old PL, new PL, consultant reports and analyzed your performance measures. Your performance does not meet the expectations for fourth consecutive cycle. What has happened to you these days? Your skills appear to be diminishing, the defect injection rate is continuously rising and you are not productive enough. You have only one ‘A’ and 3 ‘B+’ in the last 3 cycles. We have already given a pink slip to the other underperforming Sourav; he will be leaving after the completion of current release.

You were the lead developer for a long time, was a successful module leader too. When there was an ego conflict between the then PL and TA, we made you the PL. You had a limited success and you relinquished it saying, you wanted to concentrate on coding and that you can happily work under a PL junior to you. But, your skills have been on a declining trend, instead of adding new ones.

SE: Kris, you know, I am out of form. You know, class is permanent and you know, how good I am. My analytical skills are still good and I am coding well in phases. Constant pressure from consultants’ reports on the senior’s performances in the project is affecting our output. I am still contributing to the tasks.

PM:
Your time is running out quickly. The young and successful PL, Mahendra had already got you replaced with freshers in the other two fast track sub-projects. You have been given chances till now in this project because your previous achievements speak for you and Anil, the PL, was your mate. But with this project also going into Mahendra’s hands, we cannot do much if he asks to replace you. As it is his responsibility to deliver, we do not have much option, but give me the resources he wants.
If you do not exceed the expectations in the last stage of this release and the next release, I and the consultant group cannot do much. You should score an ‘A’ this cycle to get Grade 3 and that can keep you continue for the next cycle. You have to perform way beyond everyone’s expectations, meet your previous high standards. You know that there are many freshers waiting to move from sub-projects to this main project. I would not want the new PL to throw you away from the project in a demeaning manner. I know you have contributed a lot to this project, but the customers are asking for fresh blood in the project for a change. So, keep performing. All the Best!

p.s: I am not good at writing humor. I hope you have understood what I meant to say.

Tuesday, November 04, 2008

Sleeping Rough

I read ‘Coolie’, authored by one of the early Indian English writer who made it big, Sri Mulk Raj Anand. It is the journey of an orphan boy, staged in the British Raj, who comes from a remote hill village to work as a servant, works at various places before moving to Mumbai to join in a cotton mill and finally dies of some disease.

Though it is a master-piece, I felt that it is a bit exaggerated and dramatized for the English (read the British) audience.

I just remember that I have not started this writing for a literary review, neither I am equipped to review book of such standard. I read an article today, which immediately reminded this book.



Though I did not like the book completely, I was completely moved by the life of Munno (the boy) in Bombay (now Mumbai) – sleeping on pavements, then in a medical shop, sharing a hut with another big family and so on. While it was just fiction, the article I read on THE HINDU (English newspaper) Sunday magazine, it shook me for quite some time.

The harsh reality is that there are some things that have not changed since British Raj, after 61 years of independence, though I should admit that the Governments and NGOs are trying to do their part (read article). Yes, India is shining, if we read that the to-be world’s expensive home is being built in the same Mumbai.

A point to note is that most of the people surveyed do not appear to be beggars, but laborers who cannot afford the rent of a hut.

Some excerpts from THE HINDU article –
(Full article: http://www.hindu.com/mag/2008/11/02/stories/2008110250050300.htm)

The dominant feature of homelessness is “sleeping rough”, being forced to sleep without the protection of walls and a roof, battling the excesses of the seasons, insecurity and loneliness. Homeless respondents in all cities agreed that the most trying and disagreeable season for homeless people were the monsoons, closely followed by the winters.

In Delhi, for over a hundred thousand homeless people, the Delhi government runs over 14 night shelters, with a maximum capacity of 2,937 people. In other words, night shelters provide a roof for not more than three per cent of all homeless people in the city. There are none for women, or migrant families. The other cities lack even these, although NGOs extend night shelters to a small number of homeless people mainly in Patna. Of the government shelters, the largest in the nation’s capital is the one near the Old Delhi Railway Station. It was the first night shelter opened by the government in 1964, and in winter and the rains, its four large halls are crowded well beyond its official capacity of 514 persons. The facilities are elementary. For a fee of Rs. 6 a night, bare mats are spread out on the floors in each of the shelters on which men sleep, body pressed against body. Ragged blankets are provided for the winter, and there are common toilets and bathing places, erratically cleaned but always in demand. Outside in the walled city, private contractors called thijawalahs rent out quilts and plastic sheets for Rs. 5 a night to homeless sleepers. Iron cots are lined up in the corridors outside shops, for a rent of Rs. 15 per night.

The respondents to our survey said what disturbed their sleep most were the police (17 per cent), mosquitoes (16 per cent), the noise (12 per cent), the weather and health problems (9 per cent each). In Delhi, police brutality figured highest at 32 per cent for disturbing homeless people at night.

Wednesday, October 29, 2008

Is Dravid really out of form?

After tired of reading all this exaggerated media stories and equally emotional bloggers and readers commenting on various sites with respect to the so called ‘seniors’ and FabFour of the Indian cricket team, I started doubting what is wrong with one of my favorite players, Rahul Dravid and why people are so interested to put a dangling axe on his neck (position in Indian Test team).

Before readers make a quick assumption that this is an attempt by a blind follower to glorify his player’s achievement although the truth is that there are none; I am not a self-proclaimed fan of any cricketer or sports star or a movie star (I was never involved in any heated arguments to justify a third person I never know in person), but I admit that I admire a small group of sports personalities that includes Dravid.

Coming to the point, the media and the people believe that stats give a clear picture of how bad or good a cricketer is. So, the immediate weapon they have is Dravid’s poor running since 2007. I made a quick query on the statsguru provided by Cricinfo website for matches starting after 1 Jan 2007 and until Mohali test and the complaints appeared to be true.
Mat Inns NO Runs Ave BF SR 100 50
21 39 4 1243 35.51 3058 40.64 2 7

It should be accepted that this is an average performance for a cricketer of such high quality.

But, wait a second before jumping into conclusions. As they stats do not always tell the truth and we can tweak them the way we like to win our argument. I have felt that the actual match situation should be considered before rating a player. So, I have gone though innings by innings performance of the above 39 innings.

- 22 innings were scores below 30.
- 4 of these 22 were not outs (1 retired hurt, 1 in successful chase in Kanpur)
- 18 innings of < 30 out of 39 : almost 45% is not acceptable
- In 5 tests out of 21, he did not cross 30. In Melbourne, he went as opener; Kanpur was a dustbowl; in Colombo, he got one of the balls of century in first innings.

He got some rough decisions, frequent stunners (check inning-wise analysis at the end) and sometimes he threw away his wicket in his mid-thirties that was uncharacteristic of him. Being out of ODI team did not help much either going to first match of the series without decent match practice.

Therefore, I believe he is not really out of form and his reflexes are not lost, though he is not batting as fluently as he did in the golden era of first half of this decade. I wish he comes back with a style.

This whole exercise is not to prove something about one of my favorite players, but for the fear of losing the privilege of enjoying the elegant batting for a few more months, if not years.

A small analysis of his failures innings by innings –



RunsMinsBFOpposition Ground Date Comments
29 63 58 v South Africa Cape Town 2-Jan-07 Decent outing
47 204 134 v South Africa Cape Town 2-Jan-07
2 19 11 v Bangladesh Chittagong (CDS) 18-May-07 Out to a stunning catch when India were trying to put quick runs on board - 100/6 out of 24

61
154 99 v Bangladesh Chittagong (CDS) 18-May-07

129
215 176 v Bangladesh Dhaka (SBNS) 25-May-07
2 15 12 v England Lord's 19-Jul-07
918 12 v England Lord's 19-Jul-07
37 136 94 v England Nottingham 27-Jul-07

11*
45 28 v England Nottingham 27-Jul-07
12 140 96 v England The Oval 9-Aug-07 This was the worst innings I saw him playing
55 131 101 v England The Oval 9-Aug-07
34 141 96 v Pakistan Delhi 22-Nov-07 Everyone remembers this - Shoaib Akhtar to Dravid, OUT, outstanding ball, he's cleaned up him and Pakistan love it.
38 108 73 v Pakistan Delhi 22-Nov-07 Sohail Tanvir to Dravid, OUT, bowled by a beauty!.
50 170 118 v Pakistan Kolkata 30-Nov-07
8* 20 13 v Pakistan Kolkata 30-Nov-07
19 45 28 v Pakistan Bangalore 8-Dec-07
42 211 121 v Pakistan Bangalore 8-Dec-07
5 103 66 v Australia Melbourne 26-Dec-07 Once again proving his unselfishness, he agreed to open to accommodate Yuvraj. Though, out of form and unable to score, he was there for 21 overs - I would say that very few Indian openers did that post Gavaskar in Australia.
16 154 114 v Australia Melbourne 26-Dec-07100+ balls

38
152 103 v Australia Sydney 2-Jan-08
53 240 160 v Australia Sydney 2-Jan-08
3 5 5 v Australia Perth 16-Jan-08
93 278 183 v Australia Perth 16-Jan-08
18 73 55 v Australia Adelaide 24-Jan-08
11* 98 64 v Australia Adelaide 24-Jan-08Retired hurt
111 396 291 v South Africa Chennai 26-Mar-08

3
51 26 v South Africa Ahmedabad 3-Apr-08 Steyn to Dravid, OUT, superb delivery and India are staring down the barrel here!
17 55 41 v South Africa Ahmedabad 3-Apr-08
29 151 106 v South Africa Kanpur 11-Apr-08 Morkel to Dravid, OUT, caught! That's a vicious ball and Dravid is hurt as well, a good length ball pitches outside off stump and rears up sharply at Dravid who comes half forward and tries to defend, the ball angles into the right-hander and the bounce is so steep that the ball smashes into Dravid's glove and lobs up to de Villiers at gully, Dravid is in pain as he walks off the ground
18* 36 29 v South Africa Kanpur 11-Apr-08 18 not out while chasing 73 on a dust bowl
10 41 30 v Sri Lanka Colombo (SSC) 23-Jul-08This is one of the balls of century! Nothing much to do. Mendis to Dravid, OUT, What a beauty from Mendis! His first Test wicket. Rahul Dravid is beaten all hands up. The flicker, the carrom ball does the trick. It landed on the middle stump, a unsure Dravid was on the back foot and it cut away quickly towards the off stump, past the poke and crashed into the top of the off stump. Dravid is stunned, looks back to confirm what his ears told him. The death rattle. The middle-finger assassin is on the prowl at SSC. R Dravid b Mendis 14 (55m 35b 2x4
14 55 35 v Sri Lanka Colombo (SSC) 23-Jul-08
2 7 6v Sri Lanka Galle 31-Jul-08 This was not out as per rule - Mendis to Dravid, OUT, Another failure for Dravid. The wall is cracking from side to side. It was the quickish off break, Dravid was on the front foot, looking to defend. The ball turned from outside off stump, collided with the inside edge and went to short leg who juggled with it before holding on. Two quick wickets. Mendis leads Sri Lankan fight back. Wonderful Test match. Hold on, some drama regarding Dravid's dismissal. The ball popped off the short-leg fielder, hit the right shoulder and then rebounded off the helmet grill before he caught it again. LAW 32 (Caught) - Section 3 e fair catch -A catch shall be considered to have been fairly made if a fielder catches the ball after it has touched an umpire, another fielder or the other batsman. However, it is not a fair catch if the ball has touched a protective helmet worn by a fielder, although the ball remains in play. anyway that's that
44 133 92 v Sri Lanka Galle 31-Jul-08
10 52 29 v Sri Lanka Colombo (PSS) 8-Aug-08
68 226 166 v Sri Lanka Colombo (PSS) 8-Aug-08
5 15 13 v Australia Bangalore 9-Oct-08 Lee to Dravid, OUT, what a catch by Ponting!
51 149 104 v Australia Bangalore 9-Oct-08
39 118 70 v Australia Mohali 17-Oct-08

Thursday, October 23, 2008

While more than enough has been written and read about Mohali mauling and the Team India is away on a Diwali holiday, let us see what is happening in other parts of sports world.

Anand, coming into the tournament from a bad form (his Elo rating plunged to 10 years lowest and he moved out of Top-3 in world rankings) is almost certain to retain his World Championship title, enjoying a comfortable lead of 4.5-1.5 over Kramnik, going into seventh game of twelve.

And this news is more interesting - Chance of doping and doping tests in Chess, I never thought about it! Testing 'seconds' is hilarious.

In some other part, in Madrid Masters, Federer lost to Andy Murray; of course, these days Federer loss is not a surprise news; at least not as big as Australia's. Australian cricket team would surely reach similar stage in quick time.

Tuesday, October 21, 2008

Satkaarya - A 100 can make a difference


I am one of those thousands of IT engineers in India, who have an image in people as those spoiled brats of the society that earn thousands per month easily and live a luxurious life spending a major part of the weekends in malls and multiplexes, pubs and parties. Though I cannot deny the reality that most of the IT junta, do exactly this, there is another side to the coin.

There are people, who have come from a middle class or lower, who know the value of money, who know the realities of life. They want to do something to the society, but rarely make a start due to various reasons. They do not know where to start, they are wary of time and money to be spent. They try to satisfy themselves contributing one day salary to some relief fund or foundation maintained by the company.

While I was in one of such swinging pendulum mood, an event happened in my life opening more questions in my mind. As thoughts were going in all directions, I received this mail from my friend Maheedhar – with the idea of forming a group and collating Rs. 100 each every month and using the fund for a good cause. Like small drops make an ocean, Rs. 100 by each one in a small group can make some decent amount over a few months with some members contributing more than Rs. 100 with open minds. The idea grew stronger and to do things in an organized manner, we formed a registered society, SATKAARYA FOUNDATION.

If you are one of those who want to contribute to the society and are from Hyderabad, here is one of the ways – you can join our group of young IT engineers who think on the same lines. If you are interested, you can either put a comment here or on http://helpmanywith100.blogspot.com/ or can join our Yahoo group - http://groups.yahoo.com/group/SAATKAARYA/

Remember, there are meaningful ways of spending Rs. 100 than on a flop movie in multiplex, weekend beers or a few packs of cigarette.

Thanks,
JB

Tuesday, October 14, 2008

Your Attention Please!

Your Attention Please!

No, there is no special announcement from my side. Neither am I trying to get some attention as this is my post after 10 weeks. No, I may be trying to seek some attention. I may be one of those attention seekers.

This point has been in my mind for some months now, but could not blog due to various reasons – to give the most routine answer – lack of time. But, the real reason was that I could not find the right term for this pattern or characteristic of the group called bloggers. Now I found it: Attention Seekers.

I feel that most of the bloggers blog because they seek some attention, especially from similar minded people. They want to showcase their talent in one or more fields – literature, poetry, photography, movie-making, mathematics, something else. Though most of our class, the bloggers, do not accept, I think this is true with a majority - of course, it would be not the only one, but one of the reasons, with a lower priority (like of me). Though we dump whatever we like, we cannot resist refreshing the page to see new comments (yes, we want people to read what we write unless we create the blog with sole purpose of cribbing, grumbling and whining).
We want people to read the blogs. We keep external blog link in the corporate blog, wordpress link on blogger page, photo blog link on tech blog – I even have it appended to my email signature.

I got this "Attention Seekers" term from an article published in Monday, 13th October 2008 Bangalore edition of Metro Plus, THE HINDU.

An excerpt from the article –
Computer Science teacher Sneha Raul begs to differ. "It is understandable to upload if it is a part of your job or if you have nothing else to do. People could claim to be service-minded, but that is only the tip of the iceberg. I personally feel people who do it are addicted to uploading information or aim at getting attention."Now that the blogging mania has taken off big time, regular bloggers, especially those whose blogs are only about their personal lives, from love-sick poems to what they want engraved on their epitaph, are also looked at as attention seekers.

But, I disagree with most of the opinions in that article. People on You Tube and such entertainment forums may be attentions seekers, I believe there are bloggers who use this powerful blogging medium effectively – especially the citizen journalists, the techies, the financial bloggers, people giving solutions to common technical problems in day-to-day life.

Of course, I have my own reasons, bigger than this, but including ‘attention seeking’ for blogging.

Thursday, July 31, 2008

Yet another underrated/ignored achievement

As the hype around Sachin's possible chance to break Lara's highest test aggregate record continues, Dravid has calmly (I have not been following TV coverage of cricket; so I don't know whether this was mentioned in the first Test vs Sri Lanka. At least, this was ignored in papers, blogs and even the popular CricInfo) equalled Gavaskar's total of 10,122, taking 2 lesser tests.

I wish people recognize it at least when he crosses the mark. It is a notable achievement considering that Gavaskar's total was once the highest.

Sunday, July 13, 2008

Impressions and Opinions

People frame opinions on others based on their actions, some incidents and mutual interactions. Sometimes, the opinions are made based on what they hear from a third person or external source. This is a general human tendency and there is nothing wrong in that.

I too do it. My ease of dealing with a certain person depends on the opinion I have about him/her. These opinions have a say in deciding my interests, relationships, friendships and interactions.

But, the problem arises if the opinion is framed on perceptions, preconceived notions and incomplete or insufficient information. The opinions should be flexible; it may turn out that we might know a positive aspect of a person on whom we have fixed a negative opinion due to the happenings of the first interaction.

Unfortunately, some people are reluctant to revisit their opinions. The reasons are many – one can be stubborn, adamant or feel it lowly to accept their foolishness or incorrectness. Why don’t they at least try to rethink their opinion on the person and give a second chance.

This applies not only to persons, but also to many things in life, life food. One hates coffee without tasting at least once (Some of my well-wishers try to apply the same argument to make me taste alcohol).

Impressions

Saying this, it is very important for one to let people make a strong and positive first opinion on him/her. This is referred as impression widely in Telugu people. It may be the same case with other Indians, if not elsewhere.

One needs to impress the other on the first go. For many, the first impression should be the best impression – that generally dictates and affects the upcoming events.

All these musings are because I am one of those who give you a not good opinion on first meeting. I need time to understand and start like people or an environment and similarly, it takes time for someone to understand and like me or my actions.

So, I never believe in the first impression philosophy. I try to have a second or third opinion before judging someone/something. And I don’t think to change my opinions if I get some additional information that can affect my thought process.

Tuesday, July 08, 2008

No one is invincible

Realization from Nadal's Wimbledon 08 victory -

Federer’s loss : No one is invincible.
Nadal’s victory: Perseverance pays.

p.s.: I am a Nadal's fan (though I like Federer too).

Monday, June 30, 2008

In those days...

“In those days…”
“In my days…”
“Those days are golden. They would never come…”
Are you one of those who often use any of these expressions? Or are you one of those feeling cursed to be there whenever you are on the receiving end of such sentences?
I am from the first group. I am nostalgic. I accept that I live in past memories and I love to do it. Every now and then, I think how I was at a certain period of my life and how I enjoyed during some incidents.

I have this tendency from my childhood. I was constantly remembering my school days during +2, +2 days during engineering, engineering days when I started working; training period is on the extreme end – I have never stopped recollecting them.

Although I enjoy this, sometimes I have felt whether I have been doing this a bit more. I might be living in the past to such extreme that I neglect the present and the future. Once, I felt the wrath of one of my friends for sending a mail with some nostalgic photos and a funny old chain mail.

But I am a bit happy after going through various sites like YouTube, Orkut communities and blogs; that I am not alone and there are many people who like to do so and who miss those days. They feel happy if there is someone else who think the same and share similar feelings and experiences.

It is good to reminisce those days… once in a while; it helps us to refresh ourselves and helps us to get back to the journey revitalized.

Saying this, precaution should be taken that we think about others while being nostalgic; it should not be a routine activity boring the people around us.

It does no harm as long as we do not live in the past forgetting we have a long journey ahead.

Thursday, June 12, 2008

True Friendship 2

Continuing my thoughts on friendship –

1. Does physical separation weaken friendship?

I met 5 guys on my first day in the job, sorry a couple of them the prior day in Hotel where we were given 7 days of accommodation. Yes, they were my trainee batch mates. Later, four of us became roommates and the other guy also stayed near. There, we were 6 strangers – got close so much that 2 months of training has passed by without realizing.

We were posted to different cities, but we have continued the relation – chain mails and group chats. Then, one of us left the company to US, and others have/had been to onsite – we, all remaining five, were never physically at one place at an instant of time except for a planned get together we planned and successfully made on the eve of completing 2 years. That tour inspired 4 of us to enter the corporate Blogs as early as in May/June 2006.

Now, almost 4 years after moving to different locations – we still keep exchanging a group mail at least once in a month against timezones. Currently, we are across the world – US East coast, US West coast, UK, Hyderabad, Chennai and Bhubaneswar.

So, are we still friends? Yes, in my opinion. Is physical presence required to continue friendship ? No.
But, will this relationship not count as friendship, just because we no longer discuss personal or professional challenges in depth?


2. Are common interests required?
When I came to Hyderabad for my posting after training, I had no other option but to share room with the person who would be my first project mate. Interestingly, we were in the same training batch, but we were completely opposite in everything –
- He was known to almost everyone in the batch due to his active participation in the class and events. I was known barely t o anyone except in 2-3 cubicles around me and the Telugu batchmates.
- He is North Indian and I am South Indian.
- We have conflicting habits and opinions when it comes to anything – movies, people, drinking, smoking, music,… the list goes on.

Only reason, we met was because we were the 2 junior SEs joining a 4-member project, our first one. Thus, started our relationship – professionally, then to living under the same roof;
But slowly we got to understand each other, it took him 3 projects and almost a year (yeah, I am a tough guy for people to understand and get a positive opinion) – our friendship flourished for 2 years before he left for onsite.
This makes me think that friends need not have everything or something in common. We have nothing in common except for a few moments when we cribbed against bosses and projects:-D
So, are we still friends? Yes. We still communicate with each other, discussing our careers and professional challenges.


3.Blogger friends


Where do my favorite bloggers fall in all this thought process? I have met so many distinct personalities, liked the views and attitudes of many people here – with some of their thoughts and opinions influencing my thought process. So, can I consider them as my friends – may be or may not be? May be yes, because we have some thought s in common or I like some features of them. May be no, because except for their blogs, I do not know much about them; I chatted perhaps with 3 or 4 bloggers, attended just one blogger’s meet and I read on some blogs that most of the bloggers have two alters - one on blogs and the other in real. This is true, to some extent, for me (not for my thoughts and views on the blog).

The thoughts are still going on.

Monday, June 09, 2008

True Friendship

I have had an interesting conversation recently with two of my friends-cum-engineering classmates recently. Since coming to the US, I have been spending on average of 1-2 hours per week on phone with one of them, with whom I could be only in contact through email generally once in a month or two.
We were discussing on the same thing in that call and questions came up on the friendship; and as usual I have started thinking a lot on this.

What is a true friendship? If I do not spend at least an hour with a person, share feelings, thoughts and occasions – would that make the person no longer a friend of mine?

As the journey of life goes, we meet many people. We simply forget some, while some become just acquaintances whereas a few become our close friends; And only those who have something in common with us would come closer to us and we respond with the same intensity. But, as the journey continues, the paths may split due to interests, goals and other reasons – our priorities might change; our life styles might alter; our way of thinking would definitely change; so, those two persons now living different kinds of life, could they still hold the bond of friendship with same intensity? If they can’t share things as they used to, would that make just acquaintances and not friends?

What has made me ponder over these thoughts is not solely due to the conversation with my engineering friend; I have started thinking on this long time back –
I have a childhood friend – our relationship started in school when we were 10; we went on to study together till +2 – our friendship extended then to our elder brothers and then to two families to such an extent that people think our moms are friends because of which we have become close. Now, once I joined engineering and he joined science graduation – although we met every day, I had started spending more time with my engineering friends, giving more priority to them during academic year. Initially, this turned into a gap between us and some conflicts appeared, but we have sorted them out.

The gap was due to the fact that I couldn’t share all my things in the engineering college with him and that engineering requires more time and effort compared to a normal B.Sc.

When I joined IT industry and moved from my native city, the gap started appearing again – even though I talk with him on phone quite regularly, my priorities have changed. Our friendship still continues – however, I don’t communicate with him so often as I do with some friends of relatively less priority and even some distant acquaintances; This is because, he rarely comes online.
Some of things I can’t share with him because he wouldn’t be able to understand the context.

So, I started thinking has our friendship got diluted? Are we just pretending to be
friends – as we no longer share thoughts and feelings?

I want to say the answer is “No” and I believe that is the answer. But, that doesn’t stop me thinking on what true friendship is; will it require being physically in the same geographical area – seeing each other often;

Still thinking…

Friday, May 16, 2008

Leave at the top

Justine Henin’s announcement of the retirement came as a surprise for me. I was eagerly waiting to watch (follow) her in French open coming up soon.

Some thoughts after reading the news –

1. Leave as #1:

Very few can leave the arena while sitting comfortably on the pinnacle. It sounds great and is better than dragging till the people start hating or ignoring the person. It needs a lot of guts to do – it means foregoing a lot of fame and money not to forget the effort and sacrifices taken to reach that position. But, ultimately it boils down to the individual preferences. In Henin’s case, early burnout is the obvious reason.

2. Unsung heroes:

Henin is my favorite of the current generation women tennis players. I generally admire achievers who are not gifted, but reach their goals through hard-work and perseverance; the unsung heroes whose services and greatness are hardly recognized.

Henin was one such player. She might not be glamorous as most of the other players in the tour, but I like watching her play, the power generated from her forehand shots is very deceptive considering her lean body frame. Sadly, her retirement has not drawn as much attention as Anna’s did.

If reaching the top is an achievement, leaving as the numero uno is a bigger one. But, it is appreciated only when you have nothing else left to be achieved. I think this is not the case for Henin. She still has to conquer Wimbledon to get her name added to all time greats.
I believe she can do it and I wish she would return following the example of Martina Hingis.

Sunday, April 13, 2008

Social Networking

I gave a big surprise to my friends - I am an Orkut member now!
So, what’s big deal about it, millions scrap there?
It was a big decision for me! I am not a social networking guy. Till yesterday, I never maintained a membership in any social networking site (I tried Orkut for a week in its early, not so popular days).
I have my reasons. No, it was not that I couldn’t access it legally from office.
Recently, I had given the below reply to a friend’s invite to Tagged –
How is this special? What are the features provided?
EMail - I do not get time to maintain 2 official and 3 personal emails
Msgr- Again 2 official and 2 personal
Video- Not enough time to access youtube.
Social n/w - You know I am not a member of Orkut, Facebook and others.
So, currently I am not interested unless you give me something special about this.
- Jyothi Basu

Then is it lack of time? No, I always try to share enough time to meet friends. Then what’s the problem? Supporters of these social networking sites preach me about the numerous benefits with these sites – chief among them is I could come across a school/college/childhood friend whom I have lost touch.
a. If I am not in touch with a person, then that could be due to the fact that – either he/she or I never intended to continue the relationship.
b. If I accidentally come across a person years later, I am not sure whether I could have a relationship with the same intensity and freedom – I have changed myself so much in these years, I don’t how much that person has changed – we may or may not be able to share same ideas and thoughts.
But, on an advice from one of my engineering friends – who and I have been trying hard to reunion my engineering batch – has decided to open an account – as a majority are comfortable with it.
However, I know orkuting or online social networking could never become one of my habits, forget passion.

Monday, April 07, 2008

Modern Marvels

I love the program “Modern Marvels” that comes in History channel. The last episode was on gadgets and geeks. The show introduced the Los Angeles international gadget fair, commercial stores like Brookline and Thinkgeek that sell gadgets that are uncommon in market and a geek would love to hold. The show also brought into light amateurs who think and try day-in day-out to invent a gadget that would make a small daily task in the man’s life better if not change it drastically.

I was awed by the out of the box thinking and intelligence of these innovators. I wondered how they get such thoughts, their persistence, never give-up attitude, it’s simply amazing.
The show has made me to constantly think two things-
1. Do we really require so many gadgets in this world? How much toxic non-degradable waste they cost to the environment?
Two points from the same TV program -
  • An average US household had 9.1 gadgets in 1997 whereas it shot to 23 gadgets in 2007.
  • The average life of a cell phone is 18 months.

330,000 tonnes - E-waste produced in India in 2007. Source: today's Eenadu (Telugu newspaper)

Sadly, I am part of the band wagon – cell phone, laptop (3 – personal + 2 official), home pc, digital camera, 3 headphones – don’t know how many CDs, DVDs, floppies I have.

2. As a Computer Science Engineering graduate, have I done enough to use my skills properly? Have I ever made use of operating systems, artificial intelligence, language processing, computer networks? What did I contribute this world using my technical skills (if I have acquired any)?

Unfortunately, as a person coming from an Indian middle class family from a remote Indian town, I had taken the typical path my tribe follows – Complete graduation, join a company for a decent salary, and now a bonus – a trip to US to earn some dollars.

Probably, I would do the job for 30 years – bring up children – put them in the same cycle – school, college, job, retirement. It is not only me, but I bet 95% of my generation have followed the same path and our juniors are following – Whatever might be the specialization in engineering, join a IT service provider company and settle for a high income salary. We are not paying back to the country that spends on us.

In 70s and 80s, the middle class youth sole aim was to earn government and bank jobs and settle for a decent salary for 30 years. Though the impression is current Indian generation does not stick to a single job, it is incorrect. They do not stick to a single company. Ultimately, they will do more or less similar kind of job and probably would do so for 30 years.
There is no wonder inventions/discoveries happen rare in India. But, I shouldn’t complain. I am one of those 100 billion. Will I make my life count? Unfortunately, it will be a big NO whatever I might think and would try.

Saturday, March 22, 2008

The Oil Carnage

Boston: For the last few days, the electronic and print media here got an opportunity on the eve of 5th Anniversary of Iraq ‘invasion’.
I was in engineering when it had dawned on some wise minds in the West to prick the fewer heads blocking their road to domination and damaging their claims to the lone Super Power. The whole world including few undergraduates from a remote town in India were discussing the matters. Though I was against the war, I never showed interest to join their debates. Because I know it was needless.
The media utilized the war more than even the thoughtful persons could think of and reaped huge profits (at the cost of some brave journalists).
But, after the coverage of 5th anniversary on the media, I wanted to voice something.

If one observes carefully, all anti-war campaigns here talk about 4000 American soldiers and cost in thousands of dollars and how it has affected the US economy. Sadly, not even one newspaper, channel or online article I covered talked about the lives of innocent Iraqis lost in this brutal effort.

And I believe this uproar would not have raised on this scale - if everything had went according to their original plans; if they had got hold on the oil wells which was their actual target and held their economy from crashing – now they have to visit other countries and offer them funds.

Secondly, the media should remember that it is the Fourth Estate that has a responsibility to provide the people with authentic unbiased information. That’s why I fear the new directions in India to lift/liberalize the foreign capital in media. We could already see the change in news coverage in Indian media, even with the limited 26% cap.

So, don’t blindly go with the media. Try to open your eyes to the world and read international media before believing or forming an opinion on a topic.
ఎప్పటికి ఆగును ఈ మారణహోమం?

Monday, March 03, 2008

FIR from Boston

The managers had finally decided to Effectively utilize resources. As usual they took a last minute decision making me running from one office to another to make the last minute arrangements.

Ok, you should have guessed it. There is a change of track in my Journey of Life. I took a turn from India to US to face new challenges in my career.

Guntur -> Pune -> Hyderabad -> Bhubaneswar -> Hyderabad -> Gurgaon -> Hyderabad -> Bangalore -> Hyderabad -> Boston ... The Journey continues.

The new journey has started well. At least I assume so.
One immediate relief was I no more need to answer one of the When questions.

But I have to face a new question from my close circle and I don’t want to appear to justify myself.

Some things I liked /* no, not typical US is the best, Indians are bad kind of blog */ personally –

1. I love observing people and the cosmopolitan culture of the city and a 30 minute train commute provides me varied people from distinct cultures.
2. As a person who spends weekends at home playing cricket in 40+ temperatures and who prefers Chennai to Bangalore (one of the few, might be only one non-Tamilian from my training batch, to opt Chennai as preferred location), I feared the negative scale on thermometer – But, I started loving the other extreme of the climate- minus degrees +snow.
3. High-speed internet allowing me to enjoy more stuff on cyberspace.

Now, some of my beliefs about this land that were turned myths –

1. Uncovered overflowing garbage bin invading the footpaths.
2. Passengers waiting for bus beside such bin with no bus-shelter to protect from the weather gods and demons.
3. Commuters throwing magazines/newspapers on platform – those sweepers don’t do less work than the railway sweepers back home.
4. Arts on train window panes and the inspirations for invention of non-sticky chewing gums.

Wednesday, January 30, 2008

Is anyone of those sitting here?


Job Profile
System Administrator for a nationalized bank. /* I went as a fresher */.

Location
It was a big conference room, enough to accommodate 50 computers. I was sitting on a metal chair with no arm-rests in front of a panel of seven-eight interviewers. All are middle-aged, seemed to be high-profile except for one – an old man with long white hair and beard and easily mistaken for a swamiji.

Time
Around 2 PM on a hot afternoon day and I was sitting there with a half-stomach.

And so, the interview had started and the questions were shot at me in such a way that on more than one occasion I was looking to run away from there.

Why?


There was no gap between the questions and replies – It went as a quick session. I am giving only a snapshot of the marathon 1.5 hour interview!

You graduated in CSE. Why do you want to join a bank?

/* Why did I come for interview? */
Basically, I don’t like big cities like Chennai and Bangalore. IT companies exist only in such cities. I want to work in small cities.

If we post you in Mumbai, will you go?

/* If I’m getting the job, location doesn’t matter */
I will.

You said you don’t like big cities. If you go there, won’t you work half-heartedly? Won’t it affect your performance?

/* Err…. */
I can adapt myself into any situation. I…

Recently, Microsoft was in news for its site getting hacked.What is hacking?

Hacking is … blah.. blah.. blah.. /* Continued for 3 minutes. */

That’s it? Where did you get this info?

/* Trying to get some impression */
During engineering, in addition to academic books, we used to read computer journals like Chip, Digit, etc.

Do they have only this much info?

Err. Actually, we were too busy with our academics that we could get enough time to only browse through headings.

Do you read your textbooks also like this?

Not exactly… but…

What are your favorite subjects?

Operating Systems, Artificial Intelligence, Computer Graphics… /* Not now */

/* I was not finished, one interviewer was already opening my resume and marklists. */
Which semester do you have OS?

2nd year 2nd sem

You got only 65? You told that’s your favorite subject?

Mmm. Our batch was the unluckiest in our university. They generally do a tough evaluation and only one or two go past 80%.

/* Not leaving */
But you got 94 in Probability and Statistics?

/* This is the highlight of all. */
Ok. Have you visited our website?

/* Should get back some impression */
Yes, I had. It was www.abcxyz.com.

What did you see there?

The website mentions some schemes, different deposits available, bank history…

You said you were preparing for GATE. Haven’t you gone through the Education Loan schemes?

No. I think I might not need one.

Ok. What else did you see?

/* Ahhh! How much can one see on a bank website? Feeling hungry, tired and ready to hit*/
The Home page lists Board of Directors and their photos… and …

Is anyone of those sitting here? Can you identify?

/* I started staring at each one’s face. They were smiling at each other. These were old and bald fellows and the website had images of similar old persons. I gave up.*/

Ok. Let’s do some technical questions.

The interview went on. I felt like I went to a civil services interview. I rate it as my best performance.

p.s. Later I found out that the swamiji was the Chairman of the bank.

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