Wednesday, January 28, 2009

Age and the new perspective!!!!

Today's email conversation with my sister:

Me :

The travel desk guy has given my age as 32.... for the train tickets...!!!!! :( :( :( Either I look aged 32 or he is a bad judge :)

She :

Either he is a bad judge or
His wife is 32, or
The person who booked today before you did was 32, or
The ticket receipt number could be 32 and he used the same for want of a number, or
The average age of people in your company is 32...

This quick conversation clarified that there are many random angles possible when it comes to any decision that we take.

When I was taught perspectives in Engineering Drawing class back in college, all I knew is that there are different perspectives in which you can draw the same building or object. Never really occurred to me that we are dealing with decisions that dwell on perspectives all the time.

I want to term this new found perspective as Random perspective... With these random perspectives I believe, you have a chance to think better... and make puzzling situations, lighter and resolvable..

Wednesday, January 21, 2009

Social networking

Unless you are of the kind who hosts dinners and parties often, or belong to the social group of people whose parties you get to attend, in today's fast paced world, the only way to stay in touch, or so it seems is through Internet.

When I log on to the Internet, I noticed I get very occupied like most others.. In fact, GMail accounts, orkut, linked in, blogger have become more of a routine these days for me. The result is social networking, the new meaning of it is 'To stay in touch over the Internet with people'. It is admittedly time consuming.. but coming to think of it, I don't spend time talking to the same people otherwise.. So I guess it is fair to set aside some time for people networking among other things in life.


A good number of our friends are online - Gtalk, Yahoo Messenger, Linked In, Face Book, Orkut, Gmail, Blogs.


This aside, I hear people saying , ' I do not have time for emails', 'Orkut, I do not remember when I checked it last, these days am on Face Book.. why don't you join Face book?', ' Linked In - How do I spend so much time connecting to people online each day.. My work kills all the energy at the end of the day', ' Communities - The last thing I would want to check, as you know work and the lifestyle getting hit already.. Don't want to spend time on the communities pages'....,

So as you see, people who are members of all these, don't seem to have time for any of these.....


Okay, so you are wondering if these people are the partying sorts.... later you realize they are neither hosts or attendees of any party because they are busy, and do not have time most party days....


You'll think they are phone friends, but then, their mobile phones go silent or is vibrating all the time...They are busy with something....


The next idea is to write letters ( a forgotten habit - one of my friends recently expressed interest to write to me and I plan to practice my handwriting to respond in a legible hand.), the mention of it hits most ears like a thunder...

the very idea of using a pen to write a few sentences on a paper ( am sure, the last time you used one was to sign a cheque or fill up some form or scribble something that no one including your own self needs to understand)

and getting postage stamps for the envelope ( where is the nearest post office? Do they sell stamps at 7:00 P.M after my office hours)

and hunting for a glue stick in the house( When did I last stick any envelope at home?)

then calling the friend to find out the postal address and pin code ( wishing quietly that every house had a single address line like that of an email address without underscores or hyphens)

then locating a post box ( Do they clear letters from this post box every day???)

then finding that TIME to post the letter....

Now, for some one who cant spend two min to respond to an orkut scrap, or five min on GMail, three min on a phone call, a few min on networking sites, where is the time to do all these and post a letter??? :) So there goes the idea of letter-writing too..


The last resort is to meet people... Its not like earlier days where you just call on people in the evenings. If they are not available, it was just fine.. You leave a note or message with the neighbour and your friends meet you another day.. Today, if you have to meet someone, you need to make a call.... and your friends have to pick up.. If they are of the types that we discussed so far, the chances of them picking up your call are rare.... So, in effect, your idea of visiting them also goes for a toss...

So, in the end, you end up spending your time in a Mall or movie theatre.. If you meet friends there ( they are at the theatre/Mall for the same reason as yours - No time for people) then you could say : Yeah, I caught up with her at the theatre last week.. We meet once in a while...


In the not-so-far and fast approaching future, your next step would be to get the book: What do you say after a Hello?, because, social networking, the way it is going today will some day leave you with nothing to talk about after a Hello!!!!! You may not know people enough to tell them anything at all....

Do not be too busy for people... Someday, when you look back, you'll be the only person who is free....

Saturday, January 17, 2009

The Three Mistakes of My Life - Chetan Bhagat

I like Chetan Bhagat's writing. I spotted 'The Three Mistakes of My Life" on the shelves , quite a few times, but never really thought of buying it... The last one,'One night at a call center' which I enjoyed reading, failed to impress me. So, I wanted to wait for a few reviews on this one, from friends before I invest time and money - the two big investments according to me for any book. Finally, when I got some nice reviews on the book, I bought a copy for myself.

I liked the friendship that the three friends - Omi, Govind and Ishaan, shared. Chetan had picture painted their lives on paper, black and white. It is interesting how these friends be with each other throughout and its nice to note the mild humor, subtle emotions, strong friendship, teen relationship, moral responsibility, and strict conscience, all of which surface in the story, in just about the right dosage.

The book is about the three mistakes in Govind's life, as narrated by Govind in Chetan's script. The first mistake is centered around the concept of " Look before you leap ", the second one around " Keep off the limits always ", the third one around " Just in time saves nine ".

The prologue and epilogue of the book are extremely catchy and very absorbing. Chetan writes these sections well. Every character sketch is carefully thought out and carved to fit the story.

It is an enjoyable book throughout and very was interesting to read in the beginning. After a point, I was not sure why the boys used the 'f' word too often. Agreed, the book was meant to sound casual, but the use of this word and related words in an Indian book too often, makes you question the script and the importance of the values of the already waning Indian rules of conduct. I am sure, even without the word ( if you chance to read this book, try counting the number of times this objectionable word is used in any given chapter) the message would have been conveyed and the effect would have been possible. I am also sure, the boys never meant what they said.

Can somebody explain why every love affair in a book has to end in a result that is so totally unacceptable to the cultural values? Or is it that to make it to the history/book, there has to be an incident that is out of way? I don't understand. Call me 'Conservative' and try to explain 'These things happen", but I am surely concerned about those teenagers who read the same content and are in the confused stage in life where they have every chance to 'Take a chance' following the book.

There was one section on the riot where two religions were involved. 'Anger is short madness' is a saying, but that does not mean just about any word can be uttered in the script of a book. If it were a movie, the censor board would have worked on muting the obscene language.

Makes me wonder, if it would have been possible to censor some sections of the text and still convey the point? May be it is a little too much to expect, but don't you think children and teenagers are the audience that matter the most in any message - Movie, Music, Book, Magazine?

If India's pride in culture and values have to shine, more discipline should come into the language used by even a movie or fiction character. Movies, Music, Magazines and Books should portray the best. Everyone is interested in one of these forms of information. Wherever you go, if you see a clean floor, you will surely make your best attempt to keep the floor clean. The same applies to decent language in every day lives. Can we make an attempt?

Friday, January 16, 2009

The Busy icon

Yes, everyone is busy doing something all the time.

If you are at home, you are busy attending to home needs and people needs, or sometimes taking care of your space and spending time your way.

If you are on the road, you are busy driving, waiting for a bus or auto, or walking very fast to reach a destination.

If you are in office, you are busy in a meeting, on the phone, at work, at lunch, or with a coffee cup.

There are other times when you are busy in a temple, shopping center, friend's place, hosting a party, attending functions, watching TV, reading book, spending time on your hobbies and so on...

Even if you are sleeping, your mind is still busy dreaming or processing something or the other, like a background script, of which you are not aware most of the times.

Now tell me, is there any point in saying 'I am busy' at all? I am talking about the internet people only here. I see people putting on the busy icon in the chat windows and continuing to work or doing whatever they are occupied with.

Can't we just accept that we can still afford to take one or two messages from a friend and that we are never really going to be 'free' to take some message until we choose to make time?

Try not keeping the word 'Busy' on Google Talk or any chat client, instead you may want to write something like:' At work, let's talk later' or something more meaningful to your friends or people who try to reach you. This way, people do not feel that you don't have time for them.

Spend that time with people at least once in a while. The time that you spend with people matters more than anything else most of the times.

Monday, January 12, 2009

Pledge

India is my country; All Indians are my brothers and sisters;
I love my country; I am proud of its rich and varied heritage;
I shall give my parents, teachers and all elders respect, and treat everyone with courtesy;
To my country and my people, I pledge my devotion;
In their well-being and prosperity, lies my happiness.

I remembered this pledge one morning, when I saw some smartly dressed school kids last Friday.

Back in my school days, apart from the welcome weekend, I used to enjoy Friday mornings because, the school assembly extended to an hour's time to accomodate the Flag hoisting.

I used to love the flutter of the Tricolor in the bright morning sky with the entire school saluting to honor the flag and hence the nation's pride. The sequence of flag hoisting as I remember:

From some where you hear, School Attention!!!! and we all stand in attention.The School pupil leader marches towards the podium and accompanies the principal in a march towards the flag pole, the principal hoists the flag, the rose petals in the wound-up flag shower and the flag flutters in the morning breeze, the school pupil leader ties up the nylon rope's knot on the flag pole, and says : School, Salute!!!!, we all look upwards to the fluttering Tricolor with pride in our eyes and salute the flag. Then again she says: Order!!! to put our hands down. The school choir sings National anthem and the school sings along. Once done, the school pupil leader speaks out the pledge as the school repeats after her.

It was this pledge that you read earlier in this post.. When I saw those smart school kids, I remembered the pledge, I remember the pride, I remembered the Anthem, I remembered the latest happenings in the country...

I also couldn't help thinking of the fact that some of these school kids who sing National Anthem and speak the patriotic Pledge, will end up studying abroad and working for a foreign land, which is not wrong, because money does wonders...... but can't help wondering about the fact that the feeling of pride in the nation is somewhere getting lesser and lesser with the current state of affairs in the country... Now don't tell me: We all love India.. Yes, we do, but then the kind of respect and patriotism that we once had as children, we may not have it today.. I see a lot of people appreciating a foreign land, but never taking a simple step in his own locality to change things.... I also hear people saying: Why bother? you can't change things in our country anyways.....

Do colleges have such patriotic pledges? Do corporates conduct flag hoisting, forget going as far as reading a pledge? I have not attended a flag hoisting event in any of the companies I worked for.. Wonder if there was one.. If there was one, I did not know....If there is a reason why this is not happening, someone should let the world know.. The independence day holiday is usually considered as a day for complete rest, except a few social service activities in a few places... I did not have a chance to sing National Anthem for the last few Independence days as far as I can recall... The last time was when I was in my college days.

Now, read the pledge again.... Does it make sense to revise, revive and revisit it? I think it does...

Sunday, January 11, 2009

Rabh Ne Banaa Di Jodi

That means 'God made the pair'. Of course a lot of us believe in God and we all pray for a lot of blessings in life...the most important one being a 'Made for each other' pair. That was my view and I was expecting to see something to the effect on the screen.

It was PVR Cinemas.. one thing about watching movies in such theatres in Bangalore.. every time you buy a movie ticket you pray to the good God, that the movie be worth the cash that you spend. So, we had bought the tickets and were all set for the Sharukh starrer RNBDJ.. It is an acronym world, so let's keep it that way.

Tanni marries Suri by chance and Suri was definitely not her choice.. (I like the ji suffixed with the name, but unless that is the way in Punjab, I am not sure if Suri should call his wife Tanniji.)But to Suri, Tanniji was his world and the best choice he ever made in life. Suri has never been around a lot of women and is by nature a very quiet person. Tanniji says she cannot love Suri, but is okay to take care of him. Suri loves Tanniji and is not sure how to express his love to Tanniji. Tanniji's passion for Dance, gave him a chance to portray himself as Raj, Tanniji's dance partner. The dance partnership moves to friendship, and then moves to Raj expressing his love for Tanniji.

This girl Tanni is unsure of her mind state now : Should she stay with Suri who is no more than some one she has respect for ? Can she admit that she likes Raj in spite of being Mrs. Suri ?

Suri's mind : Can Tanniji love him for what he is? Does she love Raj or Suri? Can't she see that Suri loves her whole-hearted? If she loves Raj, should he kill his original self Suri from the drama and love her as Raj while he had planned to take Raj character off the scene and remain his own Suri self?

Raj says that he sees Rabh ( God) in Tanniji while Suri does not say it. Suri says all that he wants to say through another character called Raj. The story writer has attempted a psychology game here. No one can change Tanniji's first impression on Suri, so Suri has to come in as Raj, a hero in Tanniji's eyes to change the perception, then let her discover the truth herself, and then unite with Suri, like a typical Indian mind. The psychology game worked well, may be in the movie, but it also caused a lot of confusion.

First : It is sad that you cannot identify your husband in a different make over.
Second : Even if that's admitted, I somehow cannot admit the fact that the guy wanted to find out if she will continue to stay with the marriage or move out. There is no trust factor there.
Third : God made the Jodi and it was meant to be this way is the message, but am sure things would have taken a different turn if the dance partner had been some one else.
Four : Raj character's emotions could sink in easily, the girl's emotions could sink in easily, the Suri character's emotions ( tears welled up most of the times) didn't really hit. It was meant to hit the audience and not the girl, but in this case, neither the audience nor the Tanniji could understand the love.

Plus : The setting, the Pani Puri scene, The girl's salwar kameez, Sharukh, Music,

In short : A confused fiction, a time-pass, not worth a PVR movie ticket that cost Rs.200.

Scope ....

In software projects, there is a lot of inter-dependency between the various functions - Development, Quality Control, Quality Assurance, Documentation, Release Management, and Project Management.

In one of my project discussions with a project leader friend of mine, I saw a drastic difference in scope of the project. I wanted to know if the timeline also moved and to my surprise he said the time line does not move by a second, but the project scope definitely has moved more than anticipated.

In response to my question on how they were planning to handle this kind of a scope creep, the sincere project leader's answer was very simple : Cope with the Scope is the mantra.

True ... Day in and day out we in software industry constantly try to cope with the ever increasing and rarely diminishing project scope. Instead of continuing to see scope creep as a problem, my friend has given a challenge dimension to it and made 'Cope with Scope' as a norm at work.

Gives a lot of chance for the decision authorities and customers to keep moving scopes and almost no chance for the software engineers to avoid extended hours of mostly unnecessary hard work.

If your ladder needs help.......

This is a very practical question that my friend asked me yesterday.

"I heard from people that one of my school teachers for whom I have good regards and a lot of respect, needs help financially. He is quite old and his family is dependant on him. Now, it is not easy and practical to just walk over to people who have been a pillar that offers support to the needy and a ladder with strongest of rungs that brought up your career/inner strength/confidence, and ask " Heard you need financial support. How may I help you?"...

How do you think I should approach this teacher? He has played a very important role in what I am today. I want to help and the problem is I have not been in touch for quite long now. I do not know what his exact needs are and what kind of assistance is appropriate to give...

Can you and your blog readers help me think?

Here is what I told him. Meet your teacher once in a while;tell him about your college and career.. In due course of conversation, you will get to know about his position.. You can recommend that he continues teaching as a guest lecturer in a college/teacher in a school or as a tutor in institutes. If he is interested, you can probably help float his profile over to a few places that you can manage to find for him. Basically, you are finding him a job to do, to help him earn a living. That's the best you can do. If he needs support on the facility to conduct the sessions, you can offer to fund the rent for the place as your contribution to the student community.Never make it sound like you are doing your teacher a favor. He may not accept it just now, but may be later after getting to know you better, he would. You can help in advertising his classes and make an arrangement with the nearest copiers for a prompt support on the teacher's requests for print outs and photo copies of hand-outs for students. If all of these do not work out, spend time talking to him over a period of time and slowly he will let you see what is on his mind.

Now dear reader, that was my take.....what is your answer to my friend's question? If you have read this far, please take a minute to respond to this post. Not every day you come across some important question like this on a blog post. Appreciate your time and effort to answer this post. Thank you.

Friday, January 09, 2009

Need-to-have vs. Nice-to-have

I recalled my childhood days when my grandma taught me these words in Tamil :
Avasiyam ( Need to have, but can manage without it ), Athyavasiam ( Necessity and cannot do without it), Anavasiyam ( Not required and is definitely a waste of money) and Adambaram ( Luxury and can do without it).

Need to have is a car
Necessity is a means of transport
Not required is a Mercedes Benz car
Luxury is a Honda City car

Need to have is a study table
Necessity is a comfortable study set up
Not required is an artistic table with a lot of wooden carving
Luxury is a Rose wood table with a glass top

Need to have is dinner at a restaurant with a nice ambiance
Necessity is dinner
Not required is dinner at a five star hotel
Luxury is dinner at a restaurant in a resort

I remembered this when my friend was talking about Need-to-have and Nice-to have choices that we must make.

A snippet from one of the conversations with a friend on Need-to-have and Nice-to-have in life, as narrated by him when our group was discussing cost cutting, recession, job cuts, luxurious lifestyle and other view points.

"The other day I had taken my son to a popular furniture show room to choose a study table for himself. It was a long pending plan and my son was extremely thrilled to do the much awaited shopping. He spent a lot of time analyzing the different tables, their make, the mica shine, the finish, the color, the number of desk drawers, the pen stand and the drawing table. Finally, he and I agreed upon one table that I would say was the best choice. We were both very satisfied. I asked him to note down the details about the table including the cost. He promptly did so and I said " Let's go and come tomorrow". He asked immediately " Why Papa, don't you have enough money to buy this table?". I showed him that I was carrying rs.7000 and that was more than enough for the chosen table priced at Rs.6000. I said, 'Postpone decisions like this for a day's time. Let's come back tomorrow to the same shop and buy this table'. We went home without buying the table that day.

The next day we went on a casual roam to a place in the city where wooden furniture are known to be sold. There were no plush shops there but a long line of shops that sold similar wooden furniture. We went to different shops and enquired about the study tables. My son, having gained a lot of experience about what to look for in a study table, the previous day, was examining each of these tables as well. It had polished mica, drawing table, and better desk drawers that can hold much more books and papers. When I knew my son was getting interested in the table, I asked him to find out the price.. The price was Rs.1800.

My son had two options now. One, to go back to the show room and get the table priced at 6k or select this table that serves every purpose of his for 1800.

I told him: The table in the show room is a nice-to-have item and this table is a need-to-have item.

All you need now is a study table that serves your purpose...The table in the show room is a nice to have item because it has a brand and may be a better quality, but honestly tell me, will the brand make a difference when you place your books and notebooks on the table to write your homework? After the next two years of your study, will you be carrying this table to your college or anywhere else you go?

So when you get what you want as per your specifications at a lower price why do you have to spend more on another high-priced similar item? If you save this money now, you can use it for something else at a later date."

The boy got the point and finally the father and son took home a lovely study table for Rs.1800, thus saving Rs.4200.

It need not be always investments in house, land, gold, mutual funds, insurance policies,fixed deposit accounts, and savings bank account to ensure your financial position... it is also about thinking twice before spending that cash... This in itself could save a lot of money.

Spend, not because you like it, but because you need it.
Spend, not because you can spend, but because you want it.

Save for a reckless spend once in a while, but never spend reckless all the time.

Monday, January 05, 2009

New

If you bought a pair of new shoes, a new pen, a new watch, a new dress, a new bike, a new car, or a new house, you feel good about it and are generally seen walking around with a sense of satisfaction on your face...

Same should apply to new year day and rather the new year month : New hopes, new dreams, new thoughts, new ideas, new wishes, new confidence, and a new self should reflect on your face on New year day and of course be recalled more than once throughout the year.

I was going home by sleeper bus on 31st Dec 2008 night and was not quite sure what to expect ( other than a few messages and phone calls from friends who are awake at the hour and whose messages can manage to navigate through the cellular traffic jam at 12:00.A.M) on a new year night in a bus.

It was 12:00A.M, finally... I prayed for a quick quiet minute that all should be well this year and said a quick thanks for the past year's experiences and life in general. The bus stopped for a five minute break in a petrol pump in Bangalore - Hosur Road. Unsure whether or not to get down from the bus, I looked out of the window. The college gang with me started getting down from the bus and I thought I will step out too..

The boys at the petrol pump were all wishing each other happy new year.. There was another gang of boys who probably got off duty during the day... They burst crackers to welcome the new year 2009. One of the boys from the group carried a vanilla cake and few coke bottles across to people who were on duty at the petrol pump.

They probably had no money for all the usual party expenditure, but surely had a lot of those new dreams, new hopes, new wishes and new confidence in them....The smiles on their faces is something I will never forget...

The Cold winter mid-night....The Star-studded sky.....The Smiles....The Crackers....The Vanilla Cake....The Coke...The New confidence... The New hopes....The New wishes.... The New dreams...The New people..... All these gave a New meaning to the word 'New' on New Year Day. It was 12:05 A.M on January 01 2009 and time for the bus to leave.... As I stepped inside the bus, I felt gifted and very special..... and I wish everyone of you a New year that makes you feel gifted each day :)

Edhu? or What?

ஆசை எளியது. அடக்கம் வலியது. வறுமை கொடியது. உண்மை கசப்பது. குடும்பம் கூடுவது. கோபம் சிறியது. ஒற்றுமை பெரியது. நட்பு நிகரற்றது. பாசம...