Friday, July 31, 2009

Do-nothing times....

I want to do nothing..and its a working day..

Cannot think of writing..there is so much I can write about.
Cannot think of movies..there are many I can watch.
Cannot think of talking on the phone..there are people I can call.
Cannot think of music..there is music I can listen.
Cannot think of taking a good afternoon's nap..I can take a ten minute nap.
Cannot think of writing a blog post..there are topics I can write about.
Cannot think of reading a book..there are e-books I can read.
Cannot think of taking a walk..I can take a quick walk on the beautiful campus walkway.
Cannot think of eating..there is a nice cafeteria.
Cannot think of shopping..there are things I can buy.
Cannot think of browsing.. I can surf for knowledge and networking.
Cannot think of thinking... there is so much to think about and sort out.

I don't recall when I had last felt the way I do now... with so much that I can do and I can be thankful for, but not feeling like utilizing them at all.

I have no idea why I don't feel like doing anything at all now, probably this is what they call a 'Do-nothing' time...When I read about it in a magazine... ( Don't ask me when and where... no idea :) I didn't think it was this difficult to just do 'Nothing' at all.

Can relate to a talk I once heard which said: All the time, human beings are doing something or the other. They can never do "Nothing " in life. It went to say, that it is this inability to 'do nothing' that gives meaning to worldly life.

Well, am not getting philosophical or anything here, but its just that there is a flow of interconnected thoughts...I just realize ( did you also note?) ...that I have not been able to really Do-nothing... :) I have ended up writing about my so-called 'Do-nothing' time today, even when I felt like not writing.. I am back in full action!!!!! and getting back to work!!!!

I conclude practically there can never be a do-nothing time. If you agree or disagree, may be you should let me know your thoughts.. :-)

Sunday, July 26, 2009

Crispy language

If you have been watching my blog or if you have spoken to me before, you surely know that I cannot keep it short when I talk. :-) Not that I am putting in a lot of effort to keep my language precise, but with whatever effort I am taking, I should be able to learn it some day.

So, you can imagine my reaction when I heard this at the customer service desk yesterday evening at a local Airtel outlet:

"Good evening.. ( I actually heard the voice smile..) I lost my Nokia phone that had an Airtel pre-paid SIM card sometime ago. Is there a way to ensure that no one mis-uses the card?"

I couldn't help looking up from my paper to see who this well-mannered gentle man was. His tone was very professional, words seemed very carefully chosen to ensure that the support guy didn't have to ask another question to clarify the problem at hand and he was very friendly. He was an old man with a hearing aid, very mindful of the support executive's time at 7:00P.M in the evening.

It took the support executive exactly two minutes to resolve the issue for the old man and all went well.

I walked out of the Airtel outlet thinking about how much better life would be for the support executive if all of us give our problem statement so crisp and clear. The snippet that the gentle man spoke yesterday, can easily translate into a session like this in most regular cases in a support desk:

CSE - Busy always and trying to keep a peaceful look amidst all the chaotic support requests
Cust - Hi
CSE - Hello Sir, how may I help you?
Cust - I lost my phone....
CSE - You must contact your vendor about it, but what connection do you have?
Cust - You mean the plan?
CSE - No, prepaid or post paid connection?
Cust - Pre-paid
CSE - I suggest you give a number cancellation instruction to the executive at the last counter..
Cust - Yeah, that is correct, but then, I want to know if Nokia phones have a different way to ensure that the number is not mis-used.
CSE - No, there is very little we can do about the phone vendor, but can ensure that your number is locked and cannot be used by anyone else.
Cust - What is the procedure? I go to the counter and give the instruction to the executive and then what happens?
CSE - We have a duplicate SIM card issued if you would like or cancel the number completely. But the support executive over there will explain it for you.
Cust - Which counter?
CSE - Counter number 10.

Now tell me, at the end of this, the support executive is exhausted and wants some peace and quiet and there stands the next customer with his own set of problems in life... So if the support executive does not react in a manner that he is supposed to, it is simply because of us, customers, who cannot take sometime to find how we can help him do his job well..

May be I will think about it the next time I enter any outlet and speak to a customer support executive.

A lot depends on the way you look at it.....

I never knew that so much of thought process can run in a non-movie maker's mind, until this afternoon, when I chanced to listen to Preran Kurnool ( Yes, I have taken his permission to use his name). He works with Adobe as a technical communicator and the gathering was about technical writing.

Though I wanted to keep this blog completely away from technical writing, this one post calls for a brief description of what we do at our work desks. We write documents that ship with the software or hardware. So, as you can imagine, it is definitely not a 'Cool' desktop or a 'Sleek' phone or a 'fantastic' interface. We write facts and say a desktop, a phone or an interface. We don't really dictate what the user thinks about the product at hand. We just say what we have to say. That is the kind of profession we are in and partly why my writing does not have bombastic and beautiful words in the posts. The whole audience had the same base in their day-to-day jobs and we did not know what was coming when Preran started talking about writing for movies.

While my intent in this post is not to describe every detail of what he covered I must say a few things that caught my attention:

- I can never dissect a movie's aspects - Artists, their appearance, the scene, the language, the emotions, the story, the costume, the sets, the locations and the camera angle, the way he did.

- For the first time I consciously realized that passion is what drives anyone to where ever his level of achievement is. If you like something, you are sure to pay attention to every detail. if gardening is your favorite past time, may be you should go ahead and explore more about pesticides or floral arrangement or maintaining a garden or conduct an observation study on a specific species. Why? You never know where this effort can lead. For all you know, you could come up with something that is positive and unheard of, in the field that you are working on. Well, what follows is : Fame, Name, Business proposals, and in some cases, the true satisfaction of doing your best and seeing the results benefit someone or something.

Not that I can't rattle off the names of a lot of movies right now, but it surely is difficult to relate a concept that you are talking about to one or more movies that fall into the same pattern. Preran spoke quite a bit about Dilwale, Dulhainyan Le Jayenge ( DDLJ), a Hindi movie starring Sharukh Khan and Kajol. I have watched the movie at least thrice ( which is very rare for someone like me, who can say a movie's story in three minutes time and can't really spend another two plus hours watching the same thing) but never once thought of it the way Preran stated it . He says it is a logical formula movie. Now, that's one term I can really relate, because that is what we do in IT industry. There is a logic and there is a set pattern ( formula, so to say) in the way we do work. He was able to classify movies into a few categories and I am very sure at least 90% of the movies will fall into one or the other category.

- I probably would not rate a movie useless or pointless or a waste of time once again in my life, because, I realized it is sometimes worth looking for a single plus point in a maze of minus points. If you are a little old enough, you might probably advice me to apply it to life and people I meet as well.. ( Am seriously considering, anyway.. :-)

I thought of a non-IT professional friend of mine who can just recollect a movie sequence and for some of her favorite movies, even the dialogues!!!! Unbelievable aptitude, I would say.. Such people can actually get into screen play writing.I must write to her about this.... Another hard core software professional friend of mine can tell the story of a three hour movie for four hours ( the extra one hour is invested in setting the stage or context for you and answering your doubts - words cant replace a picture or an emotion, so that kind of needs quality time in her opinion ). I sincerely think, if she were to consider screen play writing, most of our movies today, would look a lot better stage-decorated and cut really well for today's world.

Like, I said, I do not have the capacity to express what I heard, the way I heard from Preran, but I can surely say I learnt this:

Don't let a single interest of yours unexplored.

Nothing will happen if you dont invest that energy and time, but if you do, you will be amazed at the results, even if it is not what you wanted.

There is more to life and things than what we think we know.

It just takes a small object, subject, concept, pattern that interests us to make our life very different from what we can imagine.

Invest quality time in your hobby.

Even if it seems aimless, do it for yourself and the feel-good factor in you.

Work gradually towards expanding your interests outside your mind-set and you never know where that can take you.

Out of the Box thinking exists afterall.

There is no such thing in life as 'I have nothing to do' even when you decide to retire from your work life!!!!

There must be something very special about you, else you would not be here!!!! Seek help in finding it, if you cannot identify it yourself.

A lot of us say, jobs are becoming monotonous, boring, and we all know Monday mornings do not make us feel so good... I believe that we all should do something that interests us, just to keep our work going well, our feel-good factor levels high, our attitude towards life good and may be at a later date, and share lessons with folks who need to know.

Lastly, if there is a way to monetize what we have spent time on, and if there are no personal sentiments attached ( some people dont sell art) why not go ahead and make the spent time look like invested time? [Time investments are subject to risks. Read the mental/emotional note carefully before investing. Spend calculated and balanced time to avoid conflicts of any kind at work and home!!!!!]

Friday, July 24, 2009

Namakaran: Keep it flawless

Our names are very important to us. I mean we all feel very disturbed if our names are spelt incorrect by someone. Agreed, we put up with or have to put up with an incorrect spelling in our names, but we are not very happy if people don't spell our names correctly, are we?

In olden days, naming a baby in some South Indian Hindu (a faith in India is called Hinduism and the people who follow it are called Hindus.) families was very easy. The first son in the family got his paternal grandfather's name;the second son and his maternal grand father shared the same name; the first daughter took the paternal grand mother's name and the second daughter in the family took the maternal grand mother's name. All these grandparents usually had very long names which were mostly that of a Hindu God or Godess. One way to remember God in day to day activities was an old reasoning behind such a naming convention...

The next to next children usually were named after the Hindu Gods and Godesses. It is a point to note that there were as many as twelve children in a family. Some of these names are attached to a Hindu fable or a mythological character and are regarded very religious and very divine. I mean, you just cannot spell it wrongly, leave alone shortening it.

Then came a generation which also followed the same trend in naming their children, but pet names must have come into existence by then, I guess. Which is why, Narayanan became, Nana and Subramanian became Chuppudu or Suppudu .. :-) Everytime I hear the word Chuppudu, I laugh out loud. Run a check on any South Indian Tamil family to see how many Chuppudus you can find... :-) Some how we all have come to accept these names and pet names very well..

Over the generations when life moved from the conservative style to modernity ( my definition: good influences from different cultural/social/intellectual beliefs are inculcated and practised) and people moved from one state to another for a job or education advantage, naming also moved along ( to be read as a long way). Children do have their grand parents' names but the parents choose to give an alias name that is easy, that feels modern and easily accepted among a clan of cosmopolitan children and names that go with the trend...

In the fast generation that we are in, today, short forms and short names are very common. People who moved between states have now started relocating from India to other foreign lands.. The foreigners cannot pronounce our Long names that need a very clear Tamil or Sanskrit based pronounciation.

So, often two syllable names are shortened to mono syllables!!! The name 'Dilip' gets shortened to Dil for instance... I was happy for a Ramnarayanan who went abroad, because his name got registered as Ram ( Random Access Memory is called RAM in computer science.) At least a part of the name is intact and Ram is still Lord Rama in the faith of Hinduism.. The grandfather Mr. Ramnarayanan would not be really hurt..!!! :-)

Day before, I heard this name Jack.. I thought it must be some foreigner whose name can be a Jackson or Jack. When I read the name on the screen it said, Jag... That was strange, but there are a lot of strange names that I don't know, so I didn't really care... could not help thinking of the word Jag because in one of the organizations I worked for, Jag meant, a Bug. Bug in software industry means a clear (insect) bite in the code that you have written which is why it was called Bug. My monkey brain synonymized the name Jag with its meaning bug and I didn't like it at all. While I was wondering if Mr.Jag knew that his name had another out-of-the-world and totally ridiculous meaning other than the intended meaning of ' King of the Universe', I heard about a Mark.

My friend clarified that Mark stood for Markandeyan, the staunch worshipper or Lord Shiva who had the powers to stay sixteen all his life.. The story of Markandeya is part of the Hindu Mythology.

Wonder if the grandparents of Mark and Jag would be happy about their grandson's' names being given such new dimensions with extra-ordinary meaning and effect!!!!

While I am thinking of a nice pet name for my new born niece, I cant help think what she will be called when she goes to live in a different country.. while her name's intended meaning is something to do with music.. May be in future we should think of names that just cannot be shortened to names with ridiculous meanings... Already people are spending time and energy on names that are unique, that are short, that are in line with the birth star and numerology... but may be there should be an additional effort involved to tackle the ultra-modern trend of shortening the names that give a tangential drift in the intended meanings.

Friday, July 17, 2009

Quick look : Go kiss the Word - Shubroto Bagchi

Shubroto Bagchi, co-founder of MindTree Ltd., writes about the rich experiences that life has gifted him with, about the interesting people he has met on the way, about the subtle truths of life that we often miss, about the simple lessons that make a great leader, about the basic traits that make a difference to each of personally, to our folks, to our workplace community, and to life at large.

A few reasons why you should read this book:

You hate attending lectures.
You do not have time for voluminous books with nano-sized fonts.
You have had enough of the management jargon and cant stop to hear another word that even remotely suggests 'management tone'.
You are a professional who has some aspiration in life.
You always believe that staying in your 'domain' or 'career path' ONLY can boost your growth in the corporate ladder.
You want someone to believe in your ability.
You want to know how to manage difficult people.
You want to learn to say 'No'.
You wish you could step down that 'Ego' Dias once in a while.
You want to grow as a 'person'.
You want to be a leader.
You want to learn to embrace the world as it is.

How is this book different from the rest of the books?

It talks our language. I am amazed at the negligible management jargon used in the book. That is a huge plus.
The book is written in very simple English. You do not need a dictionary to understand what it says.
It reads like a nice story and there is never a dull moment. The lesson and the incident intertwine so well that you cannot tell a clear demarcation between the story and the valuable lesson.
An honest narration and a very short book, neatly segmented into topics that really make sense.
Further reading section is a gift. If you know how important 'a list of good books' is, then you will go with my opinion.

Major Plus:
Quick read, Page turner, Easy to relate, Simple to understand, Very Indian and an honest portrayal.

I didn't look for the minus point in this book.. and cannot spell out one out of my mind, because, after reading this book, if you want to spell a minus point, then you have not really read the book at all. You will only see the larger picture of things after you read this book; that is if you have really listened to what the book has to say. If you read it like you read a novel, then you are not reading to take in anything at all.

One word : A must-read, nice-to-gift, and a great book.

Wednesday, July 15, 2009

Song - Time is short; The music won't last

I remember reading this poem many times in the past but when I got an email today with the same poem, it sounded just as new, interesting, and nice. If I remember well, I guess this was written by an ailing little girl who knows that she has a very short time to live in this world. It was amazing to note the tone in the song, given that she knows when she might have to leave this world....

Have you ever watched kids on a merry-go-round?
Or listened to the rain slapping on the ground?
Ever followed a butterfly's erratic flight?
Or gazed at the sun into the fading night?

You better slow down.
Don't dance so fast.
Time is short.
The music won't last.

Do you run through each day on the fly?
When you ask 'How are you?' Do you hear the reply?
When the day is done, do you lie in your bed
With the next hundred chores running through your head?

You'd better slow down.
Don't dance so fast.
Time is short.
The music won't last.

Ever told your child, We'll do it tomorrow?
And in your haste, Not see his sorrow?
Ever lost touch, Let a good friendship die
Cause you never had time To call and say,'Hi'

You'd better slow down.
Don't dance so fast.
Time is short.
The music won't last.

When you run so fast to get somewhere
You miss half the fun of getting there.
When you worry and hurry through your day,
It is like an unopened gift.... Thrown away.

Life is not a race.
Do take it slower
Hear the music Before the song is over.

On a parallel note...... I first received this poem on email from a friend years back , when I was reading this book called Veronica Decides to Die by Paulo Coelho. Slow read but it is worth holding your patience levels high to finish reading this book, because the last few chapters are the highlights of the book and will definitely improve your take towards life.

Sunday, July 05, 2009

It happens only when it happens.....

This is one of my friend's favorite saying...

I was in a long queue to get a platform ticket in the city railway station, today. The queue in the counter seemed to be moving faster than the one at the ticket vending machine.

With about twenty more people to move on, before I can get to the head of the queue, I was beginning to lose the patience to wait. Same with a lot of others who stood in the queue with me. A lady was telling her companion to just check what are the chances of getting in without a ticket.. to which he replied, Why take a chance? and be worried about getting fined, for another whole hour that we are going to spend here?".. I didn't turn around to see if she was happy with the answer, but smiled to note that people have become sensitive to following the rules and regulations.

Another few restless minutes ticked off and I was glad that the queue was moving quite fast. Then, I heard another practical and brilliant statement..... An old man was telling someone " See, all the ticket counters are computerized. It takes a few keystrokes to write a ticket and then the printer takes its time ( although a few seconds..) to print it out. The whole process takes the time it needs and there is no waste of time that you or I can complain about. At the counter it takes hardly a minute to get a ticket. We just need to wait....They're doing all they( Railways, I guess) can....and there is only so much they can do. It happens only when it happens...."

The old man was right.... Instead of cribbing about having to wait in the queue, if we spend time thinking about the rationale of the situation, there is no reason for temper or dissatisfaction. I just imagined what it would be like without a queue and people just thronged in front of the counter for a platform ticket.... Wouldn't it be worse? At least in a queue, you can be assured that your turn is next. And your turn happens only when it happens...

Saturday, July 04, 2009

Media and social responsibility

There is this popular pill advertisement on the television that shows a worried, married, young woman, really worried that she might get pregnant. What follows in the few seconds advertisement, is a quick remedy to her problem in life...- the pill....

Did the advertiser think about how this was going to be perceived among the children of today?
Did the advertiser think about how young parents would read it?
Did the advertiser think about the fact that there are doctors in town who have spent a few years studying the subject thoroughly?

This advertisement if not carefully weighed can be very disastrous to the peace and quiet in many homes, today. It is not sufficient to put a disclaimer in a nano size font in the advertisements.. I don't even bother to read any such nano fonts in any poster, even if it is a banner sized advertisement.

Will the media or the advertisers or the product marketing division think about it? Whoever would tell these guys that All easy solutions in life may NOT and need NOT always be right.....

Friday, July 03, 2009

Changed my view

I didn't intentionally eavesdrop on the conversation yesterday, but then you can't walk around with ear plugs all the time. Two young men were discussing an interview progress.

A : So, you are done with the interviews?
B: Yeah, done.
A: How did it go?
B: Yeah, overall, it went well.. Most people didn't know this C ( something that was absolute Latin to me ) concept...
A: So any ray of hope? How many met your expectations?
B: Two of them...
A: How many years experience?
B: About two years plus....
A: Guy? Girl?
B: One guy and a girl have taken the top two ranks....
A: Who do you think will finally make it? Have you decided?
B: Not really... thought I will keep the decision aside for a while....
A: You know what? Just select the girl and say 'Better luck' to the Guy....
B : Well... You know what.. You have still not changed!!!!!

Thankfully Mr.A was not the interviewer for which ever company and position that was being discussed.

So, that was what I heard on the road yesterday. Back in college, when my friends used to tell me that a particular software giant almost always selected majority of the girl candidates and that girls can easily get a job, I used to feel very irritated. I don't have count of the number of arguments I have picked up against the statement.

Invariably, the number of girls who got placed at most recruitment fairs would be higher than the guys. I always preferred to believe that may be in the lot which took part in the exam, girls fared well... I still believe it!!!!! , and that is a different point altogether.... but just may be, when in an All men interview panel - Men who cannot differentiate personal and professional associations with people, there are chances of talented men getting ruled out.

The contra must be true, I guess for an All Women panel. ( Never attended interview with an All women panel till date..!!!!)

Guys, if you can think objectively when you are in an interview panel, and can stop thinking that every girl ( Girls, substitute guy here) you meet needs to be your friend, only then take up the interviewer's role.


With new opportunities also comes to fear and self-doubt. How can we navigate these very strong forces in order to reach our fulfillment...