Sunday, December 30, 2007

Stars on Earth

I watched Taare Zameen Par today at Sigma.
The movie is just fantastic, and I think it's the best Hindi movie I have watched all year. Aamir Khan is such a genius.
If ClusterMaps down there isn't lying and all you people from all those countries do really visit here, then please go watch this movie. It's in Hindi but if you require subtitles I am sure you'll find a copy with those too.
I hope Aamir takes this movie to the Oscars.

Saturday, December 29, 2007

The Growing Divide

I just got back from lunch at the Terminal. Today being Saturday, it’s normal to see campus teeming with people but of a different kind. Today you’ll find older men and women and really young children too. Saturday is the day that employees bring their families to visit this beautiful and sprawling campus with its seven food courts, lush green lawns and towering innovatively-designed buildings, the software development blocks or SDBs. It’s a pleasant sight. Children run ahead of their parents, making full use of the vast open space free of traffic, while the parents amble behind, taking in the sights and sounds of the place that their other halves call home for most part of the week.

This campus being the signature office and global headquarters of the company, there is constant construction activity here. Although the construction and the people working there are seldom seen on the main parts of the campus, every once in a while they are seen enjoying a walk on the campus in the evenings. Like today. As I was returning from Terminal, I witnessed something that pierced right through my day dream, and creating this urge to let out my thoughts here. I saw the family of an employee, well dressed and all made up, little son bounding back and forth on the walking track. And watching them, were a father and son, sitting in the corner, near where the construction site is cordoned off with green net. The man was obviously a construction worker, the boy his son. They watched as the young family stood to admire the Terminal, the front-loading-washing-machine building, the Coffee Day… The boy would have been no older than the little kid running around his parents on the walkway, in his new tee shirt and shoes. The other boy, in stark contrast, wore old and dirty clothes and was barefoot.

As the two families, in sharp contrast with each other, came within the same line of my vision, I was reminded painfully of the increasing social divide in this country. I was wishing just moments ago, that I had thought to invite my own family over for the weekend to visit the campus, and that one picture brought me jerkily out of my reverie. To me, this company is a reminder of what India has become today, of the growing economic power and the waves that it is creating in the global playground. It is an edifice of India’s favorite success story, of what dreams can achieve and of how ordinary mortals can affect a change so drastic. But today it became a reminder of how companies like these are doing little to bridge the gap between the two extremes of Indian society. As IT makes more money, the techies are raking in the cash, and cities like Bangalore become more expensive to live in. The poor pay the price for this. As our standard of living goes up, their standard of living does not see a commensurate increase and as a result they remain where they are, what little money they have losing its value with each passing day. India’s greatest employer is IT and ITES, both fields requiring an educated workforce. They compensate for their increasing demand for resources by recruiting large numbers of people from campuses across the country.


Unfortunately, rural India is not seeing an increase in primary or secondary education and therefore the IT success story bypasses that stratum of society completely. The few who do manage to make it to BPOs in the cities do so with immense hardships and sacrifices. Young parents of rural India hope for a better future for their offspring, one that is different from their own and does not involve doing menial labour to earn a living. How long will it be before their dreams turn to reality? Consider even the poor living in India’s metros. Most of them still do not go to school. The few who do, cannot afford the fees to study beyond class 10 or 12 and therefore drop out, joining their parents at their jobs as house-cleaners and cooks. I am not denigrating labour here, but I wish every child had access to education so that he could at least have a chance at a better future, one that a lot of urban Indians are enjoying today.

I wish corporate India could take the onus of education in villages, at least as an investment for their future workforce. With CSR gaining the kind of importance it has, I wish each company could “adopt” a village and take responsibility of primary and secondary education there by building schools or sponsoring education for families or helping schools build facilities that would keep children engaged. I read somewhere that the biggest issue plaguing rural schools is the lack of teachers because of poor wages. If companies could pump in funds to schools so that they may pay their staff better, it could help make the functioning of these schools a lot better. In Chennai, Sneham, the CSR arm of the Chennai office works in these areas by helping schools with infrastructure such as toilets and furniture. I am sure there are other such organizations. Perhaps giving them more publicity through the media would make people aware of ways in which they can help bridge the social divide.

Friday, December 28, 2007

In The Run Up To New Year

This is going to be the first new year's eve that I am NOT going to look forward to.
You guessed right, I am going to rant, so click off if you're having too much fun and don't want to have to deal with one whiner right now.

Back to the new year's eve that I am not looking forward to. I am alone, away from family, in a god forsaken part of India's happening city. I am working on new year's eve AND on new year's day. I am going to be running around getting a million different papers in order before I fly out. And believe me, running around here sounds like a great work out at first, but loses the novelty soon enough - I am not making this one up. I have been running from one end of this sprawling campus to the other all day and my head is pounding and I can't even will my feet to take me to Terminal for dinner! And after all this running around, I still have not got any of the documents I was promised. Am I pissed or what!

This weekend I'm going to be here on campus, trying to wrap up my applications. I still have one very important essay to write from scratch, for my top college preference. I'm hating myself for getting into this state - had I begun earlier I'd be paying credit card bills for all college applications. I've just done two of them so far and I have my most important ones coming up next week. So basically this weekend is going to be spent in front of a dell desktop tap-tapping away to oblivion. I don't know about you but my life sure is happening!

With seemingly million things to do before next Thursday and feeling the need to be in more than one place at a give time, I'll be really fortunate if I get out of this place in one piece and more so if I make it to my flight on Friday night with all my papers and luggage intact. I'll squeeze in one more post later about this flight thing that I'm suddenly talking about. Beginning yesterday I seem to have been overloaded with information that makes very little sense. Thankfully I've made copious notes ( or so I think) so I'm going to pore over them as bedside reading tonight so that I can make some sense out of them.

Basically this new year's is going to suck big time. I probably won't even know when it comes and goes. And I'll probably be ultra cranky too. I'm already getting there.

Of all the months for this to happen, why in god's name did it have to be the holiday season?????

Afterthought:
As I was pondering on the labels to put for this post, I put in experiences too. And I got to thinking how I would justify this post as an experience. Well turns out it is. It's going to mark the beginning of a year that is going to change my life completely, in so many more ways than I can foresee now. This party's just getting started!

Wednesday, December 19, 2007

Live!

After watching all corporate events at the company via webcast over the last year and half, I finally got to watch one event live at location last night. The Awards for Excellence were held here at the Bangalore campus (as always) last night and I had been looking forward to watching the event live for some time now. And what do you know, I was not one bit disappointed!

This year our special guests were a noted journalist and news show anchor from CNBC (SB) who was present here for the event and Sunita Williams via telecon! Now you can see why I was all excited! Of course one of my favorite personalities from the company, the proprietor of the flat world concept (FlatWorld), was here too and I always look forward to what he has to say.

The weather was as amazing as always. Chill, windy (coming from down south, this kind of weather tends to get me high!) and with a slight drizzle every now and then. Not everyone would agree with this being awesome weather but it didn’t dampen anybody’s enthusiasm and the crowd only increased as the event progressed. There were employees after a day of work, sitting with Coffee Day mobile coffees in hand, wrapped in their shawls and sweaters, or like me, zipped up in jackets. Since it was an awards ceremony, there were the customary men and women in ultra formals – these were the award winners, all decked up for the moment before the flash bulbs posing with SB and FlatWorld; these pictures will then sit smartly atop the glass shelves in their cabins at work, ensconced in weather proof frames. There were also the families of the award winners: young wives and toddlers, old parents, dressed in warm wear and clapping enthusiastically when their children went on stage to receive their awards.

I’ve never been too much of a fan of SB’s. I guess it’s because an ex-teamie of mine would go on and on about her – he is a big fan- and so I just got too sick of hearing about her to actually think about whether I was a fan or no. Of course, I like the way she does the news. But that’s it. But given my background, I have deep respect for women achievers, especially those in fields where there are many different levels of the glass ceiling that one has to breach before straddling a position of authority. And therefore, yesterday I realized that I would have to admire SB for her determination, if nothing else, that came through in her succinctly worded speech. She spoke about the lessons she had learnt as a journalist, in the industry for a decade. She was articulate, confident, humble and most of all, willing to share her experiences. Although her speech did remind me a bit about a business school essay, but that’s probably because I’m so saturated!

Sunita Williams was once again, not a disappointment. With all the newsprint and media attention she has been garnering in recent times, there is very little about her that we do not know. Yet the company had done a good job of picking the questions that would be posed for her to answer. These questions were submitted by employees on an internal forum and about ten questions were handpicked among those. Although we could not see Sunita, we could hear her smile and laughter as she graciously answered all the questions and participated in a little friendly banter with the hostess, a popular radio jockey from Bangalore.

Soon it was time for the event to wrap up. The guests would be whisked off to their hotels in the speedy and silent golf carts that will course through the many routes between the OAT and the main gate of the campus, and the OAT would wear its habitual deserted look once more. People all dispersed a little earlier to dig into the buffet that was arranged for them. I had to make do with paid dosas from the Terminal because I don’t belong to either centers so my name was not on the food coupon list! Ah, the travails of being a temp-transferee!

The only disappointment of the evening was FlatWorld. Despite the name and the connotation, I always enjoy his speeches. He has lots to say and he says it well. He’s got the stage presence too – yes I’m a fan! So what? Unfortunately he decided to introduce SB and remain a mute spectator for the most part. Too bad! The last time I watched FlatWorld live, during training at The Campus, I was completely bowled over by his presence there. I even got to take a picture with him!!!

But that couldn’t take away from the fact that I was watching yesterday’s event live at Bangalore! Weeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeee!!!

Monday, December 17, 2007

Bench revisited

Just because I'm from IT, it doesn't mean I am going to talk about that eagerly anticipated period in one's career in IT, the time when you are not required to clock more than six hours a day and your responsibilities involve ensuring that every chain mail or forward that you receive in your email inbox is religiously forwarded out to countless other people. So no, this is not about that.

This is about a tradition from training days at "The Campus" where the gang used to sit on these wooden benches under the trees near the hostels. They were also smoking zones, so it suited most members fine. It was shady, and there was just enough room for the entire junta to sit and talk crap for hours. Real crap. Stuff ranging from Rajnikanth's so called greatness to brands of underwear ( I swear only some members of the gang participated in that last one).

After training, I moved to a different city on transfer and the benches here were smoking zones only. Which meant that if you went there, you had to have a cigarrette... Actually you'd be lucky just to find a place to sit! So recently, I had the opportunity to "put bench" again, here in Bangalore. Even the weather was like training times - a nip in the breeze that was blowing through the sprawling campus, enough to keep my jacket zipped all the way to the chin. What was different was that this time it was just two of us. And a bag of soggy MacDs and more soggy french fries! We discussed stuff again, not crap this time of course.

I was reminded of how much our lives have changed, some for the better and some that are so different from earlier times, younger days. Now, there was too much to discuss and none of it was crap. I felt a little sad about that. But it's ok. I like to think that the crap belongs to days gone by. The here and the now are the most important, especially for both of us who were there at the bench next to the Terminal. I can see that we're all on separate tracks now... some converge some diverge but all essentially remain unique.

Wednesday, December 12, 2007

What else can go wrong??

Based on personal experience, here are somethings that can go wrong in the bschool application process:

So you've written the essays for your applications, and you're feeling all proud of your work. So what do you want to do next? You want to show your essay the light of the day. It's really important to get your essays reviewed by the right people. A lot of people will offer to review it for you. Still more will agree when you approach them to review. It is your call on who you want to pick. There is lot of gyaan on the net about the right kind of people to pick to review your essays. So I am not going to repeat that. But I will warn that there is a chance that none of your reviewers will get back to you with their inputs. Your printouts/emails will be languishing in their shelf/mailbox and you'll never hear from them. I found my saviour in two people, thankfully, one who patiently reviewed my essays ( and will continue to do so) and the other who I approached right at the last minute when I was desperately in need of another reviewer. This second person was the last person I would have thought to ask. Just goes to show that you can find help in the most unexpected places.

Essays are really not too much of a battle. The real battle is the recommendations. Again, there is enough gyaan on the net about whom to pick as recommenders and that titles don't work blah blah blah. It is most important to heed that advice. It is even more important to make sure you give your evaluators enough time to fill this stuff. If you looked at the questions you would know that they do not require too much thinking. One hour tops. If your evaluator had good things to say about you, then he/she will not have to dig right into the recesses of his/her brain to get them out. People who read this blog and know the screw ups that happened in my recommendations will know what I am talking about. So here is where choosing the right evaluators comes into the picture. Choose someone who can manage his/her time well enough to not give you excuses a week before your deadline about how they were caught up in work - this after being nominated 2 months in advance. Choose someone who really knows what to write for you. It doesn't matter if he/she has written recommendations for other people. You still have to evaluate if this person has the right skills ( viz communication, thinking) to give you a recommendation. Remember that it can make or break your application. I know it has broken at least one of mine.

Dont wait till the last deadline. There is a possibility that you might get transferred. Or go onsite. Or have a sudden upheaval at the workplace that ruins your state of mind and saps you of motivation. Or all of the above. I know you're thinking, " Man, I'm so screwed if this happens!" Well it does. Trust me.

At the end of all of this, if you still manage to get your applications in on time, then you'd better have strong prayers. Because after all the screw ups, it will dawn on you that you cannot go through this again, and that you'd rather get out of your current situation than have to stick around another year or two and give Wharton a go, because you'd have more work experience or you'd have got your promotion or you'd have international experience or all of the above.

For having warned you, please send out a prayer for me so that I may get through a college of my preference and not have to go through this crap again.

Tuesday, November 27, 2007

Six Questions*

Here they are:

1. How was CAT?
2. What are the other exams you are writing/have written?
3. How come you're on bench?
4. When are you getting married?
5. Wassup ( in all the ways that you can spell that)?
6. Are you busy? ( this when my status on a chat application says I'm busy)

* that you should not ask me.

Monday, November 26, 2007

Not(e) to myself

I haven’t written about the mba journey thus far, but since it is occupying majority of the space in my head, I have to write about it. Like I was telling 'smee the other day, writing a piece is like delivering a baby. You have to have it fully formed in your head before you can let it out. My whole mba thing has been in my head for too long now, but I always feared that if I wrote about it and it didn’t come through, for whatever reasons… So I’ll start off with a few things.

If you have been lazy till today then banish it right now. There is no room for lethargy and sloth in an mba run. There are a thousand different things to do at any point in time and though prioritizing and list-making (like yours truly who is a compulsive list maker) helps loads, eventually you have to get all of it done, and all action items checked. That would include calls to your evaluators to wish season’s greetings.

We have a tendency to think in terms of stats and numbers – typically any online discussion board would have name/gmat score/ no of years workex /quality of workex (IT, mech, consulting etc). Good ways to categorize your competition pool but a really poor indicator of your standing vis-√†-vis them. Case in point is a friend in Wharton. Her stats would read Name/7xx/2/IT… But it’s so much more than that. I don’t know all of what she has done, but I know she has been damn busy in her 2 years of workex and I am not referring to office work. So all of that matters more than the stats thing. Sure a 7xx gmat score tilts things in your favor. But if I make a success story out of my applications this year, then it would prove that even sub-7xx can make it through.

Banish negativity. It’s easier said than done and in my run so far, it is proving to be my biggest enemy. I just have to read other applicant blogs and I’m depressed. People seemed to have done so much and studied for gmat AND got stellar profiles at work. Well too bad I didn’t do all of that. What I can do is work harder on my essays. Easy to say? Nearly impossible to do!! I can either fall victim or continue to swim against the tides.

Taking a break. SO very necessary, this aspect! My iGoogle sticky on a Friday morning is a clean slate. By Friday night, it’s about half a screen in height, full of things to do for the weekend. I have to list even a beauty parlor visit! Needless to say, most of the stuff on that list never gets done. In fact, I can barely concentrate on essay work on a Sunday. I am lagging behind terribly thanks to this. But at least I am not suffering from writer’s block on Monday when I decide to tackle essay writing once more. You have to decide what you’re going to trade for what. And then once you’ve decided, you ask your conscience to take the day off. Really. Otherwise you’ll go insane.

They say you have to abstain from socializing. I couldn’t agree more. I don’t seem to want to talk on the phone either, except to very select people. In the two years since I’ve left college I’ve forgotten most of my classmates’ names. I think by the time I have to leave for my bschool, I won’t have any names on my mobile phone book to call to say bye to. Tough luck, but I’m ok with it, provided that the day actually does come. Indulging in mindless channel surfing is not included in socializing, thank god for smaller mercies! There are times when even astha* channel will seem interesting – those are mini-alarm bells telling you to take a break because you’re fatigued.

Take yourself seriously sometimes. At all other times take a chill pill. Lay off a little bit and (this is a note to self) stop constantly revisiting your lists. Yes, that includes adding new stuff too.

Now if I could just listen to myself every once in a while...

* Since only Indians are reading this I am not explaining Astha channel here.

Friday, November 23, 2007

Of Life, Dreams and Maturity

First off, I will have to say that I’m really surprised that I haven’t written about this earlier, because god knows I’ve talked about it to a lot of people. I guess it takes another (and most likely final) blow in the coffin to actually bring to focus the irony, if you can call it that, of it all.

It has been a long standing trend in my life of never getting what I want but always getting, too easily at that, what I least wanted. This isn’t to say that what I finally was given was something I did not desire. Rather I would say it was something that was never in my list of wanted or even unwanted things; it was just never in the periphery of my mind.

I think the phenomenon has been around in my life for a really long time but the only time I started to take notice was two years ago. The mechanigal had been led to believe that no core industries would recruit her at the end of her degree. Lucky for mechanigal, since two months on shopfloor of a CPG major’s chemical plant convinced her that shopfloor was not her do! So here I was all, deciding to put a foot in at a CAD company once engineering was through, when suddenly this job happened. It’s sudden because up until a year ago, the company would not allow us folk to sit for their placement process. I didn’t know what to make of it. I had not even begun my job thought process, let alone the search. I had an offer letter from India’s most respected company and I didn’t know if I should be amused or bemused! I had taken as given that I would never set foot inside an IT company but here I was trudging my way to Mysore!! Then at work, while I grappled with seemingly nonsensical bits of code and trying to put a foot in to bschool, the visa happened. Now armed with an h1b I am awaiting deputation – without ever wanting it! I still don’t know what I’m doing here, much less what I will do if sent onsite – for all practical purposes I know nothing in technology and just marginally more in domain. I just know that this where I do not want to be! That’s some clarity!!


Right now I’m clueless about what I am doing! Going through the motions with applications on my gmat while a million what-if scenarios keep running through my head. I plan and plan and plan and finally what happens is the one thing I would not have planned for. On the one hand there are my dreams and aspirations. On the other there is the need to deal with all the failures and screw ups keeping a straight face all the while – hibernating in the Himalayas after denouncing the material world isn’t an option, most unfortunately. And then, there’s life in itself, the one that’s threatening to spin way out of my control.

Regrettably, I really do know what they mean when they say that life’s what happens when you’re busy making other plans


Monday, November 05, 2007

Tring Tring – Silence!

Whatever happened to the regular telephone ring?
I cannot remember the last time I heard the trrrrrrrrrng!
I was not trying to make that rhyme.
I was just a little hard pressed for time.
So here I was on a regular Monday morning,
I had a test but instead I was yawning.
When suddenly out of the blue
A mobile phone rings, I don’t know who
Left it on full blast – it startled me
It was a popular rock song, it played on fully.
Other people poked their heads out
I also looked up to see what it was all about
Apparently the music was too loud, the volume high
But was it only because it was something they didn't like?
So later today when another phone rang
And the latest Tamil movie song it sang,
How come no one seemed to mind it?
It rubs me wrong; that’s an unfair bit!
If it’s English it’s too much noise,
If it’s Tamil, then it’s a beautiful voice?
Why do you want to be such a hypocrite?
Why can’t you instead keep your phone quiet?
Nine hours a day, with many a clickety click
Do we need more sound, even good music?
So please remember dear colleague or friend,
When you get to work, put that phone on silent!

Comfortably Dumb – Ver2.0

I finally got down to getting another tooth extracted. It was long overdue (here is how long!) and was ignored because it was being good. But then it decided to revolt and I had to make that long and agonizing detour to the dentist… who, by the way, is different from the other guy but with an equally sadistic sense of humour!

Just how sadistic you ask eh? Picture this. You are scared to look at those shiny instruments she’s holding and advancing towards your mouth. So you look up at the ceiling, hoping to find some pale pink Nerolac, enough to lose yourself in. Or you imagine you are painting your next masterpiece on that smooth bit of brick and mortar. So whatever be your inspiration or desperation for looking up, you do it. And instead of your bit of canvas up there, you see polished tinted glass panels. Now if you can put two and two together and arrive at twenty-two, then you would realize that looking up would bless you with a vulture-swooping-down-on-its-prey view of what is going on in your mouth. And if you’re like me and getting your tooth extracted, then believe you me, it is ANYTHING but a pretty sight. Of course you might settle for that torture if I told you that the old dentist used to keep up a running commentary of exactly what he was up to!

So basically, I was dumb once again, much to the delight of the plebs at home, who do not value my pearls of wisdom. Oh whatever!
Like I was telling a friend this morning, so long as it does not offend my religious sensibilities or tilt my already delicate cosmic imbalance, it’s okay!

Saturday, October 20, 2007

Some faith!

Yesterday at work we had this really fun session called Onsite Readiness. It was, as the name suggests, an information sharing session for people who are likely to go onsite in the near future, by people who have spent many years in various countries. It was the best session I've been to in a long time. The two men who conducted it were very senior people, who have held a variety of responsibilities in the company over their careers, and have travelled to a variety of countries across the globe - some in personal capacity and some on work. The session was peppered with anecdotes from China, America, Spain... and even India!
It really got me thinking about the company is a positive light, and this is the first time since training that I've thought that way. It's no wonder that the company has such a good image in the world - their brand ambassadors - people like the ones who conducted that session - are seasoned professionals, well read, articulate, well travelled and most importantly, very grounded. It does not mean I like this place any better or that I actually want to go onsite or any of that sh*t. It just makes me realize that I work in a company that does have some decent people - even if I do not get to interact with them on an everyday basis. I still feel I need to get out to keep my sanity. But perhaps, someday I should like to return here. In some other capacity than the one I am in currently.

Tuesday, August 21, 2007

Of Cappuccinos and Chocolate Cakes

I had the most gastronomically satisfying two weeks recently. The title is an indicator!! I had more Cappuccino than ever before and that too from different coffee outlets in Chennai. As though that didn’t get me hyper enough, I managed to take a detour to Hot Breads, almost everyday, on my way home to indulge in some most unnecessary Chocolate pastry. As though I need comparisons, because there can really be just one heaven, right? Wrong! There is heaven, there is uber-heaven and then there is the I-just-died-and-went-to-heaven heaven; this last one is reserved for Chocolate Fantasy alone. So for want of anything better to do, I managed to sample different forms of Chocolate pastries from different outlets. In case you’re wondering, the Chocolate Fantasy emerged winner hands down!

And if that wasn’t a calorie ridden fortnight, then I don’t know what is!

By the way, I do realize that this post may be seen as being in bad taste (pun unintended, I assure you), but I’m feeling rather Calvinesque with the sugar overload (picture Calvin after a bowl of Chocolate Frosted Sugar Bombs).

Friday, July 27, 2007

The End of a Phenomenon - Part1


Yeah that picture speaks more than words, doesn't it?
That is the sister and I, at 630 in the morning in Citi Center, right after we collected our copy of the last and final installment of the Harry Potter series, Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows. Ha, and we're not supposed to be morning-people!!
We were up at 445am on Saturday, the 21st of July, to get my sister her much awaited birthday present. We reached Citi Center at about 530am and were thankfully ahead in the queue so that we got to stand inside the complex. Five minutes later arrivals were not that lucky though, because by then the queue had grown long enough to spill onto the parking lot. It was a sight that we're so glad we didn't miss. We had people in the Hogwarts robes, walking around giving out pamphlets, containing crossword puzzles and word grids, all Harry Potter themed of course!
And finally the moment arrived, we were inside Landmark and suddenly I wasn't sleepy anymore. The whole store was decked up in Harry theme and there were racks of the book piled everywhere. It was a Pottermaniac's delight!
And then I signed for my copy and we were out, sent off on our way with cookies, coffee and that precious, most awaited littled package that I held in my hand, along with its free calender!
By the time the weekend was over, that book was devoured and the numbness that comes with the finality of something that you know will never ever happen again was threatening to take over. Oh well, I just let it, so it didn't need to threaten for too long!
More about the book in part 2.

Thursday, July 19, 2007

The Final Showdown

Tomorrow is the day...
I just cannot wait!!!!!!

XXV

That's right! We, ie Sukanya, Silky and that other person who comes around from time to time, turn all of twenty five today. That's a quarter of a century that we've roamed the earth. I hope it's a good day, because I am at work today,so you can never tell.

Thankfully no one famous was born today (apart from me, but I don't count yet!). And good it's that way. Can you imagine what that would mean when you're older? No one will ever forget your birthday and will insist on giving you birthday cards (oh alright, e-cards) with the numbers on them. Gives me the heebeejeebees already!

Today would be a holiday in Burma and Nicaragua. Sigh! No such luck here. I'll just have to wait all day to run home for that delicious Black Forest my mum is making for me. Weeeeeeeeee! It's just like the younger days!

Twenty five. Hmmm... Whoa!

Leaky Cauldron

Pssst: Two more days to go to get my hands on that delectable, much awaited, agonizing, nail biting finale of the Harry Potter books. (shiver runs down spine).

Already there are copies out, photographs on the internet. Read about that here.

Ooooooohhhh I am sooooo excited. If you have the leaked version of the book, then please please please DON'T TELL ME!

Friday, July 13, 2007

Friday, the 13th

I am sooooooo excited!!! Here's why:



First day that too!!!!

I'll have a review soon!

And for all ye non-PotterManiacs ( yeh know who yeh are, innit?), Silencio!!!

And if you still can't stuff it, then eat slugs!!

*UPDATE*

Of course the book is way better than the movie. Having said that I will admit that this movie was by far the best of the lot. Dark and definitely not kiddie stuff, the book really brought to life the fear of You Know Who being back. The movie was great fun to watch, the minor plot changes notwithstanding.

Imelda Staunton as Dolores Jane Umbridge was truly delightful and I cannot stop raving about Loony er Luna Lovegood. The other characters reprised their roles with the usual grace and I thought there was more Hermione than Ron. It helped that she looked really good throughout the movie.

The special effects and the background score were fantastic. My favourite parts of the movie were the last 30 minutes (Ministry scenes) and the DA meetings, in that order. The pace of the movie was maintained throughout, with not a single scene being excessive or wasteful.

Just one bone to pick though - I felt they didn't do the Weasley twins leaving Hogwarts scene enough justice. JKR's most likable creations were quite underutilized in the movie. All in all a really good movie to watch, and Pottermaniac that I am, I'll definitely watch it again.

One tip though - it would be a good idea to read the book before you go to watch the movie.

~MechaniGal

**I wrote this review for rediff.com

Friday, June 29, 2007

Just something.

I have to start out by saying that this is about my longing (of course, who else would I write about!). But even as I start out I am having trouble deciding which longing to talk about. All I do know is there is something I want to say.

Guess I’ve made up my mind.

Here is something I have been wanting for the past 5 years. I can’t remember anything else in my so many years of existence that I have wanted for this long or this much. Since I got into engineering my only thought has been to get out and do an MBA. That’s what I saw my future in. My daydreams almost always consisted of me in business suits in a company like Google or P&G, as a graduate from an IIM or a Columbia/Chicago. And for the life of me I couldn’t figure out why, but I had absolutely no thought of a what-if-it-doesn’t-happen scenario. Funny thing is I am quasi confident about myself, which means that I am confident of my capabilities but not always the same of my ability to get what I want. But this was the one thing that I was absolutely, more than a 100%, certain of. That was my future and there were no two ways about it.

But of late I don’t know anymore. I don’t know if I will get there with time to spare, or for that matter, even in the nick of time. I have begun to feel that I have perhaps missed the ticket and that this, today, is my future. And that, my dear person-with-patience-to-be-with-me-thus-far, is the stuff nightmares are made of. Being another ant in the flat world, running around with the same load as the others, all part of an assembly line, the end of which none has seen. I have scorned and laughed at all my fellow ants, and promised myself at every appraisal that it would be my last one in the company… only to be reneging that in the next appraisal cycle. And as you already guessed (or know), we are in the midst of an appraisal cycle right now. It looks as though I will definitely have a couple of more such cycles to go through before I swim ashore and out of the system.

I kind of get the feeling that I am stuck in a Hotel California situation.

I was reading ISB blogs today, discovered a few more contacts studying there. And I was thinking to myself, they’re there, one step closer, while here I am, still aspiring.

Whatever I imagined my first job to be, it certainly wasn’t this. It didn’t consist of waiting till Friday every week and waiting till month end, so that I could count down another month. Another month to what? I don’t know. Normally, payday lifts my spirits a wee bit. Today was payday and I am more depressed than ever. Even a visit to the icici bank website did nothing to ease the blues and neither did the fact that today is my favorite day of the week.

In other news, another Friday came and went and so did some more friends from the company. They bought their freedom, lucky buggers. As the week ended, so did the month, and now I am on the 20th month. 4 more to go.

I dream of the day when I will be sending out one of those goodbye mails. Meanwhile I’ll just practice my typing skills and hope they come in use when I decide to begin my book – whenever that will be, if at all! And perfect the shortcuts for the smileys on MS Office Communicator.

Wednesday, June 20, 2007

All for a Pod!!!

Brilliant weather here. I am, as expected, pooped up in an airconditioned building, with a false ceiling, fluorescent lights and the constant tik-tik of a thousand finger tips playing a tattoo on their DELLs for company!
Here's what I am doing, all for an iPod! Wasting precious cash to send 10 sms'es to some arbit number that promises to reward me with an iPod if I get 10 questions correct, on the occasion of World Music Day. Sigh!!
They'd better give me that pod...

Sunday, June 17, 2007

Tragedy at CCD

When I was a trainee at Mysore, I had various ways of rewarding myself if I did well on the test for the week. More of an incentive than a reward, really. And sometimes if I did really badly, then I would reward myself again, this time more to cheer myself up!
My favourite reward was a slice of the deliciously sinful Chocolate Fantasy pastry from one of the Cafe Coffee Day outlets on campus. If you have no idea what that is, then I suggest you get your ass to the nearest CCD, as we fondly called it there, and sample it for yourself. Words simply cannot do it any justice. I tried googling for a picture, but I couldn't find one that quite conveyed what I wanted it to.
Since I got back from training I haven't had a chance to visit any of the CCDs here and much less the chance to sample a Choc Fantasy. So yesterday when I had to meet Adi, I decided CCD had to be the place. We settled down and since we share a lot in common, including our love for that little piece of heaven, we ordered a Choc Fantasy apiece - no discussion was needed on that one!
I was one spoonful into mine, when plop! went the whole thing on the floor! While I was busy chatting, I'd tilted the plate and all of that, minus one spoon that was in my mouth, fell - I wish I could say crashing down and make it sound all dramatic, but none of that happened - it just slipped gracefully down my trousers* and onto the floor. All this while Adi and I watched with a look of utter horror. This was sacrilege in some form for sure! Why this is especially tragic is because just as we feasted our eyes on the plate when the cakes arrived, I had remarked that I was supposed to be on a diet! Imagine Dobby (from the HP series), banging his head on the wall, trying to punish himself - that was me yesterday.
Oh well, that's forty bucks I'll never see again, and a diet I will be more careful to follow from now on!
Sigh!

* Update: The stain of chocolate on my trousers refuses to wash off, despite all that diligent scrubbing and although daag might be achhe , this one is anything but nice!
As though I need more painful reminders...

Sunday, June 10, 2007

Some good customer service

Last week, I was reading this article on the Freakonomics blog site about good customer service and how it can make your day and how it can be really really rare. ( Read that piece here)
My dad and I were discussing how that was sorely missing in the Indian service industry scene and we even brainstormed on a business plan involving that.
Well, something just happened yesterday that reaffirmed our faith in the service industry of this country. On our morning jaunt on the Besant Nagar beach yesterday, we had the engineers from Hyundai doing a free service camp for all Hyundai cars in the parking lot. Not only did they voluntarily give our Santro a check up, they also cleaned the windshield, mirrors, foot mats and tyres. Icing on the cake was when they got a guy from Amaron batteries to give our car battery a once-over! As though all of that was not enough, they kept bottles of mineral water for the walkers/joggers at the beach. As we drove off they pressed into Dad's hands a neatly wrapped gift package. (We opened it on the way home, it was a cute desk clock)
Needless to say, we were talking about it all day. No prizes for guessing that it really made our Sunday.
When the sister and I took a walk upto the organic veggies van, we saw that the Hyundai guys had also found themselves a spot on the otherwise pretty full parking lot. They had new variants for the Getz and Verna on display there.
Yesterday, Hyundai managed to make a lot of customers lifetime customers.

Saturday, June 09, 2007

Outsourcing and some other stuff

It’s time for some more (negative) publicity for outsourcing. American elections are coming up and so these issues are in the line of fire once again (there were there last just about 5 years ago, when our dear hero was voted for second term). Along with that another side kick of an issue has earned its share of rumbling. This is the issue of the H1B visa. This of course has caused a bit of a furor among the IT junta. Having my name in the lottery caused me also to be copied on all the mails that were doing the rounds at work, about the latest on the visa issue.
So what was all the noise about anyways? Well some members of the American senate decided that granting as many H1Bs as they do is proving detrimental to the employment figures of the local population in their country. They have this concept of Phantom GDP that explains why they were hailing outsourcing as the next big things all these years but suddenly have the numbers that prove that, well, it's not all they imagined! The long and short of it is that they opine that when we go ‘ onsite’, as it is called in IT parlance, we rob an American local of his job. Of course, they forget to mention here that the amount it would cost our dear client companies to pay an American to do the job is more than it would cost them to have two Indian IT yuppies there to do the same job and then some more! So anyways they decided that they would have some kind of lottery system to decide who among the thousands who apply for visas will be the exalted beings that will get to grace their shores. It doesn’t make sense to me at all so I’m not going to say too much about it here. All I know is that they don’t understand that H1B or not, getting us to do the work is a win-win for both parties and a win-lose for the aforementioned exalted parties. Win- lose you wonder? Well, you win because you get to go. You lose because once you’re there, you lose all your sleep and peace of mind. People say that the lose part makes up for the number of zeros that add to your bank balance. I don’t know about that though and I don’t think it is food for thought.
We will come back to outsourcing for now. I read somewhere that there are organizations in the US – where else! - that are willing to outsource journalism! Simply put it means that you can, sitting here in India, cover an even that is going on in some part of the US! Sounds improbable? You’ll be surprised! Pasadena Now, a local news website has hired reporters from India to cover Council meetings sitting in the comfort of well, their country! According to a printed interview of the guy who owns this website, this move has been done in keeping with budget issues. You can read more about this here. Apparently, this is pass√© stuff because the Wall Street Journal regularly gets Reuters reports for its editions that are written in India’s silicon valley, Bangalore. Needless to say, the American media has been to quick to lap this up and the ensuing buzz that this news has created.
Where there is controversy of this sort there are also some funny takes! You will recall that I recently pointed you to a really classy article on Joshua Bell’s impromptu undercover concert in Washington DC subway station. The author of that brilliant piece has written another classy and really hilarious piece on his take on the outsourcing of journalism. You can read that and have yourself a good laugh right here. This isn’t long and is a must for those who are familiar with the politics of Tamil Nadu - the rest of you can read it too so long as you know the name of our Chief Minister.

So what’s the bottom line here? Nothing much really. They made a lot of noise about something. They managed to create some noise here. They got their way for this year. What’s left to be seen is if they’ll get their votes. I suppose that could be the stuff of another post. Meanwhile, we’ll just remain mute spectators to all the job-hopping that is going to be seen here among those who have got their visa applications rejected. And of course we will be mute and enthusiastic spectators to more Indian journalists getting their names in the black and whites of American news business.
Are we in for some entertainment or what!

Tuesday, May 08, 2007

Something New, Something Blue...

I’ve been tripping. It’s the best amateur own comp I have lent my ears to in some time. And I want everyone to know.

Meet Ashwin Alexander – my ego-surfing friend and loyal critic of this blog space – who, when engaging in an erstwhile activity of some import to him, stumbled upon his namesake.

This discovery of a man Ashwin, who we shall call Ashwin the Stud for obvious reasons, makes some brilliant music. I cannot get enough of his music, especially Welcome Me, January Awaits and a cover of Peter Yorn’s Life on a Chain.

Here's the link to his page. Go to the music tab to download his music.

I hope this guy makes it big someday soon.

I was going to add more to this post, but I figured, let him steal this one, he sure deserves it .

Sunday, April 15, 2007

Once upon a Sunday evening on a hot day...

In case you ever wondered:

The most common Tamil boy name is Karthik in all the possible ways that it can be spelt.
The most common Tamil girl name is Vidya, with all possible prefixes and suffixes.
The most common profession among Tamilians is, well you guessed it, IT!
The most preferred place of stay/work for Tamilians is, of course, the US of A.
The most sold drink at a coffee shop is a capuccino.

In case you haven't realized it yet, I am bored.

On a completely different track, read this amazing article on the Washington Post, called Pearls Before Breakfast. It's a tad lengthy, but if you're really interested, you won't notice.

Another random thought - how can people NOT read books???? It' s what I spend a major part of my salary on... change that to read the second major part( first major part of my salary is spent on the weekend jaunts to Citi Center with the younger sister).

Oh, before I sign off, hat tip to Naveen for an afternoon well spent.

Thursday, April 12, 2007

Blog Flogging

I don't get the fundaes behind this whole corporate blogging thing. They've introduced it at my company as well and very honestly, the posts are not as interesting as the ones posted by the same bloggers on the net. So what major breakthrough are they hoping to achieve by hosting a blog at the office???
I read recently about how Cognizant's blog has been a hit all the way. And the same article had a whole bunch of people including my own "flat world" CEO eulogizing the very concept and the kind of insight it provides them. (By the way, forgive me for equating myself to Tom, but the lines that launched the bestseller are going to prompt a post on this blog - by me of course - very soon - as soon as I find the time to type it out.)
I personally didnt have a problem with the blogs at all, and often read those by some of my friends. But I wonder how could you possibly have the freedom to write stuff on that blog?? On any given day I'd love to crib about a few things - including the straight back of my chair - and if I have to check and recheck everything I write to see that it conforms to company policy, then it sure does take the the cheeze out of blogging.
Why I am waking up to this suddenly (that too after months of leaving my blog to wither away and "die a painful death" as Alex would put it) is because of the recent hauling up of a colleague for a cheeky poem he posted on the company bulletin board. Ok it was more than just cheeky, and I do think there are better ways to express your angst, but still, if it is company policy to not crib about anything in the company then why have these outlets for expression??
In any case, where the devil is the time for all that?????????????

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