Saturday, December 31, 2011


I don't remember my first interaction with a girl of my age but I do remember looking at girls differently than boys since my earliest memories. Reason, they wore skirts! They had longer hair. Their smile was more attractive. They didn't play sports... basically many reasons. Moreover, I never felt comfortable when some girl used to join us in our quest to destroy imaginary enemy camps and kill all the imaginary terrorists. We had to run, use firearms, girls couldn't do that!
Anyways, bottom line is that I knew from Day 1 of my existence that girls are different than boys, nobody had to tell me that. Sure, in childhood I had some female friends too and even though my best friends were boys only, being in a girl's company felt different. It just happens, it always happens.

During my teenage years, girls started looking attractive and I became conscious. I wasn't sure why it happened and wasn't sure how to behave with a girl, so I preferred silence and speaking only when spoken to. This way I spent my teenage years falling in and out of various one sided infatuations.
College days were fruitless too. Not too many girls around. Besides, my self-conscious nature didn't allow me to talk to even those girls, and it got worse with every next day. Earlier I was hesitant, then I even started stammering a bit while talking to a girl, along with high heart beat rate and clumsiness. In fact, I couldn't even take a girl's name, I felt so hesitant. I felt a knot in my tummy. I felt a force pulled me back whenever I tried to talk to a girl. I guess I had become like Robinson Crusoe, who has been away from better half of humanity during best part of his life!

In my 5th year in college, I joined Madhapur Toastmasters. Life wasn't going anywhere in those days. Moreover, I always wanted to get over my fear of public speaking and forget forever those failed attempts to finish my speech on stage. I got many opportunities to talk to girls in Toastmasters meetings. Toastmasters are always eager to meet new people and make them feel welcome, be it in our meetings or elsewhere. And interacting with so many girls in person has perhaps helped me be more confident when talking to a girl. And in the process I think I might have made some female friends in Toastmasters!

I got placed in Capital IQ after spending 6 years in college, based only on what I studied in first 4 years! One good thing happened though, many girls joined in the technology team as well. During our orientation, during our training period, and during our tech team outing, I got to interact with some girls. They've been friendly and nice to me but I confess and I feel bad about it, that I haven't been so friendly and nice. Maybe because its not like it used to be in school days, even though we do have lunch breaks, and coffee breaks! I hope interacting with girls becomes as normal to me as it was in school days (before high school).

A person gets some chances in his life to change before taking on the 'real world' alone. I got many chances as I studied in many schools, then stayed in a hostel in college, and now I've joined a company. The irony here is that I've been the ugly duckling because I'm quite the opposite of what an army kid would be like. (army kid = person whose parent, father mostly, is in the army).

But as famously said by Coelho, if you really want something, the whole universe conspires to help you achieve it. And I think the wheel has been set in motion since I joined Toastmasters and later gained momentum when I joined Capital IQ. All I want is to be comfortable while talking and interacting with girls, have some female friends and maybe sometime later, a girlfriend also!

Thursday, December 29, 2011

The middle finger and the thumb

Everyone wants to be the best, right? But one must always remember, that everything has its pros and cons! For example, the middle finger. It stands tall among other fingers and is the 'center' of attraction. However this has lead to some bad experiences for the middle finger. The most common example, if a person has to show his machismo, he uses his middle finger to show how tall his tallest finger is. This confuses me as to how this truly shows the strength of a person!
Thumb has also been exploited in similar ways. Being the fattest finger, it enjoys prosperity as it has good amount of empty space in the hand to spread around and doesn't have to adjust with other fingers. But it is also shown to others to mock them by boasting about thickness of one's thumb, by waving it sideways! Poor thumb. However, it has been used by many for a noble cause as well, to wish good luck. I guess that's why Laughing Buddha is fat, like a thumb amongst fingers, as it signifies good luck and prosperity.
Now you may wonder, being a middle finger or thumb is so much better than the little finger. Agreed, but little finger has its own quality, its the cutest of all!
The index finger seems to be the balanced one. It acts like a leader, but also points things out, in a positive or negative way. And yeah, it got some ego too !!
Best is to be the 'ring' finger! It doesn't meddle with anybody else's business/affairs and keeps to itself in spite of being amongst others. Its rightly chosen to wear the wedding ring because its like a married person !!

When leadership works with talent, we get 'peace'. (index+middle finger).

When leadership works with prosperity, we get happiness. (index+thumb finger) Because that gesture is to urge someone to smile!
The ring finger and the thumb working together doesn't really fit... now we know why a married person doesn't have much prosperity, and we know why !! :P
However, the star and the highlights of one's hand will always be the middle finger and the thumb. Moreover, when the two work together, under the able guidance of the index finger, wonderful things happen! How else do you think you can hold a pen and write?

Tuesday, December 27, 2011

One Night Stand

I am a procrastinator, and looks like this time I miscalculated BIG time!

Abhishek sat on his bed in his hostel room, with heavy dinner of chole bathoore digesting in his tummy! While he felt groggy, he knew he couldn't give up, not tonight. It was already 9 PM, about 11 hours left before the exam, and 12 research papers were still left to be read, each research paper at least 6 pages long. Even if he skip the experiments and results section, he'll still have to read 4 pages at least. With these calculations in his mind, he was at least hopeful to read each paper once, and sleep by 3 AM. Again, he miscalculated!
At 3 AM, still 7 papers were left. His neighbor who was studying with him in his room had given up an hour ago and slept off in his bed. With no bed to sleep, Abhishek realized he actually won't need to sleep if he really wants to finish his syllabus. Heroically trudging through the murky and muddy areas of the research papers, he finally managed to read 10 of them, with 2 hours to spare!

"Atul, wake up Atul! Its 6 o'clock, wake up! Study something at least!"
"Oye, sone de" (hey let me sleep), Atul grumbled groggily.
Abhishek realized his fellow warrior had given up the will to fight. 'But I won't give up', he told himself, 'I will NEVER!'
With renewed vigor and beautiful view of sunrise from window of his room, he got back to studying the research papers. At 7:10 AM, he had finished his syllabus! Ah, he relaxed for the first time in last 10 hours, then immediately stopped relaxing. A daunting thought crossed his mind, 'Without sleep how will I sit through 3 hours of exam!'
At the ring of warning bell at 11:15 AM, Abhishek got up, submitted his answer sheets, and walked out of the exam hall. Its finally over, he exclaimed to himself, and stopped somewhere in between the corridor, looking to his left, then to his right, and then around him at people, surprised that they were unaware that a miracle just took place!

Two weeks later, Abhishek got the grade for that course -- A.

Saturday, December 24, 2011

Christmas Thoughts

Whenever I think of Christmas, the first thing that comes to mind is Santa in his red and white dress. And whenever I think of Santa, I think of flying with him in his sleigh! Imagine riding in his sleigh, flying into the night sky, over the city lights. This scene reminds me of Superman and I wish I could also fly like Superman or at least ride in Santa's Sleigh!
Flight is something that fascinates me the most! The closest I've come to 'flying' is flying in an aeroplane but one can't really enjoy the scenic beauty outside by looking through the window of the plane. They should make bigger windows at least!
When I think of such scenic beauty, two things come to mind. One is the hovering clouds in the sky. While sitting in a plane and peeping out, you see the clouds below you and you feel you're actually flying higher than what your eyes could see from down below. The second thing that comes to mind is the earth down below, which looks as if God himself has created a mosaic that we live in and mistake it for forests, farms, buildings etc.
Coming back to Santa, I heard/saw in TV shows that whenever Santa crosses a home from above, he puts the gift in the fire chimney, and next day the gift appears in the stockings! I feel Santa has been doing a pretty good job as the official mascot of Christmas! But seriously, receiving gift feels so good. And you know what feels even more good? To see the happiness in the other person's face when he/she receives and opens your gift.
Christmas is the reason we had winter vacations in school, and for that I am grateful! But to me Christmas is not just about flying with Santa, receiving gifts or enjoying the vacation, its also a reminder that on this day, long time ago, a man was born who has been regarded as God. He was God indeed, for he served Humanity and taught us to live in peace and harmony. He sacrificed himself, he suffered for our sins as the legend goes. Believers say that Jesus will absolve us of our sins. He certainly will, but only for you to start anew a better life, not to start committing sins again! In realitiy, sins can't be absolved completely, but the effect can be balanced out with good deeds.
So while we celebrate Christmas, let us not forget that it is Jesus's birthday and we must gift him something. If nothing else, we can at least live in peace and harmony, and do good to everyone around us. I feel that had we listened to Jesus and followed his path, in other words, the path of goodliness, we might have already established human colonies in Mars, made a fully functional time machine for common people and wouldn't have any poverty. In other words, total progress, because of no time wasted in having bitter feelings!

Merry Christmas everyone! Have a good day! Be a Santa to someone today, and a Jesus to everyone everyday. :)

Thursday, December 22, 2011

School in Winters

Sniffing more heavily than panting, he jogged towards the school bus, clutching his bag hanging on his shoulders. The sunshine after about a week of foggy days felt refreshing. Too tired and nervous to speak, he continued to chase the school bus till one of his friends noticed him and asked the driver to halt. Abhishek carefully caught the railing and climbed the uneven steps into the bus. He felt a pinch of cold the moment he sat on the wooden bench. He looked around, and as usual, saw Rajat wearing only a half sleeves sweater on his uniform. Abhishek looked at the sleeves of his blazer and the shining golden color buttons stitched at one end of the sleeve. At least he could take off his monkey cap, but his mother asked him not to, until few hours. Besides, Abhishek knew what happens when he removes his monkey cap when its cold; he catches cold.

Cool air from behind the seat through the gaps between the thick canvas and the metallic bus kept his back chilly. Abhishek blocked most of the wind with his school bag, yet some escaped through the gaps and managed to touch him. He felt his cold finger-tips. He felt his cold and moist nose-tip as he sniffed. There was a general silence in the bus, except when some kid got into the bus. The regular noises of vehicles and cool dense winter wind was pretty much what Abhishek experienced till he reached school.

Abhishek finally took off his monkey cap, after the third period, one period before the recess, when his mother had allowed him to do so. The monkey cap seemed adamant to leave his head, as it pulled on to his hair and resist his attempt. Abhishek was left with his head looking like a globe with skyscrapers. He tried to put them in sleeping position but some would just not budge!
Ah, the recess! Abhishek enjoyed bathing in the sunshine as he and his friends sat at the open air auditorium, munching the respective content in their tiffin boxes. Now came Abhishek's favorite part, he took off his sweater (he already had got rid of his blazer before walking into the blissful sunshine during recess), and wrapped it around his waist by tying the arms of the sweater together. Now, he felt one amongst equals! Its sufficiently warm now, he tried to convince himself as he walked back to his classroom with his friends after the bell announced the end of recess. Watching everybody else without any sweaters or blazers strengthened his belief. As soon as he walked into the shade of his classroom, he realized he was wrong. Before he could do anything else, his body had sent out a warning signal... aacchoo... he sneezed! And sniffed.
He unwrapped his sweater from around his waist and wore it.

Tuesday, December 20, 2011

Winter Vacation

Wrapped comfortably in my blanket, I sat there reading my novel. Ah, I so much loved reading the stories from old yellow pages. And occasionally I enjoyed smelling the pages. While the author talked about how Oliver got his name as Oliver Twist, my mind got distracted by this sudden urge to eat something. It was already 10 AM, although the thick fog outside that covered my view through the window in my room often put me in early morning mood. The warm feeling being inside the blanket was too comfortable for me to leave and arrange for breakfast for myself. So, I put my focus back on the novel. Finally at 12:10 PM, I got out of my blanket. The window was covered with few water droplets and the view through the glass pane was clear and beautiful. There was only a grey wall few meters beyond the window, but it looked beautiful nonetheless. I put the milk to boil and while I stood there, staring at the milk to show signs of heated agitation and bubble formation at the edges of the vessel, I thought of walking out to get some fresh air. As I opened the secondary door (the primary door is the wooden door, the secondary door is the door with sieve like metallic net that lets the air in but can keep people out), I felt the warm soft feeble sunrays touch my arm. The smell of an early winter afternoon greeted me as I walked out and picked up the newspaper at the gate. For a while I stood there looking around at other people's houses. It looked as if nobody stayed in them because the whole area felt so deserted. I started reading the newspaper with my back to the sunrays, and ah, it felt so good. As if the sunrays were fingers gently, softly massaging my back and it felt like eternal bliss. I stood there for some more time but felt stupid standing like that and reading newspaper. I also got bit tired so I walked back in, rather reluctantly and I felt as if I was entering a refrigerator when there's no electric supply.
What's that noise, I wondered. Its coming from the kitchen. OMG !! The milk !! I ran up to the kitchen, clutching the newspaper in my left hand. By the time I reached the kitchen, more than half of the milk had escaped the hot confines of the vessel, rest of it was also quite prepared to leave! I turned off the gas knob, and poured the remaining milk into a glass for my consumption. Suddenly I felt the craving for maggi. I put maggi with its masala in more than required quantity of boiling water, and left it to prepare itself for me. I took the warm milk in one hand, the newspaper in other, and sat on a chair with my back to the sun. With brief sips of hot milk, I read the editorial. This time I wasn't worried because the only way water escapes a boiling vessel is by evaporation and I had put plenty of water to keep me free for sometime to enjoy the sunshine and the morning news.

Monday, December 19, 2011

The Puddle Disaster

Sometimes it happens so that you just get lost in the beauty of a girl you happen to see someday. You have seen her for the first time, you know nothing about her yet knowing her is the only thing that feels right. Time moves on, yet time stops for you as your whole being is being absorbed by her mere presence. No other thought dare cross your mind while she is the queen of your fort (mind)! All of a sudden, priorities realign themselves around her. You dress up properly, eat well, exercise, work more, participate actively in various events just to get her attention. You do everything except a simple, casual, run of the mill, "hi" to her when you and she are alone traveling in an elevator. You've seen her so many times that she has become a silent yet integral part of your life. And you know she has also seen you many times, noticed you many times, yet you could never muster enough courage to strike that one conversation, that one "hi" that could initiate something BIG, something that could perhaps change your life for the better. You wait in anticipation for something to happen but nothing does, not without your initiation.

It is the month of July and the unpredictable rains are reigning the city skies. At 6:20 PM, excited to reach home early, Parth is about to walk out of his office building when he sees many people standing and waiting near the gate, under the roof. Its raining heavily. Parth looks at his watch. He wants to leave now, reach home, listen to some Linkin Park, then perhaps doze off for a while. But these bloody rains; he wish he had at least bought an umbrella with his first salary !
Oh never mind, he tells himself. He simply storms out in the rain, clutching himself closely to protect his chest from the falling drops. Within seconds he feels the rain wash away his ego, as he realizes that he has made a BIG mistake and instantly starts shivering.

"Parth wait, you'll get wet!" Someone calls at him. He just stops walking, then slowly turns to see someone walking towards him, holding her yellow umbrella covered with flower photos.

"God blessed me; an umbrella person!" Parth feels delighted! "and she knows me...wait, who is she?"
"Hello Mr. Toastmaster !!"
"Natasha!!! Hi!"
 It is her indeed. Wait, is this one of my day dreams where I imagine all good things that could possibly happen in my life without affecting the balance of nature and smooth functioning of cosmos! And wow, she reads my invite mails that I send to everybody in the office and to whom very few respond but to which eventually nobody comes!
Lost in his thoughts, Parth doesn't realize and walks into a puddle just outside his office gate. In an ordinary movie situation, the heroine might have laughed but not Natasha. The muddy water also gets smeared all over her jeans!
"Dude, careful!" she says in a serious tone.
Mr. Toastmaster to Dude, such a sudden degradation. :(

"I am so sorry, I didn't realize..."
"Its okay I guess! What else are Saturdays for?!"
"Toastmasters meeting?"
She smiles at me!
"Seriously, you come to madhapur toastmasters meeting, I'll buy you a new pair of jeans!"

What? Parth asks himself. What? Seriously?!
"Is this how you invite new people to your club?!"
Parth thinks he is still talking to himself but it is Natasha talking to him.
"Dude, these things ", indicating her jeans, "happen in a rainy season, so chill !!"
"So you're not coming to the toastmasters meeting?"

Tuesday, December 13, 2011

Please make better movies

Movies are perhaps the most widespread medium of entertainment, after Facebook of course! and what kind of movies are we making! C-R-A-P !!! :( The King Khan himself set the bar high in this case. :)

I am a movie buff but since last couple of years I've lost interest in watching movies. Reason: easily predictable storylines in case of thriller/suspense movies, hardly any memorable moments in a romantic/family/drama movies, and yes, bad performances in many cases, and of course, to top it all, terrible storyline (yes I mentioned it again because this is our biggest point of falter)!

Last Saturday, I attended Mind-Mash, a collection of 8 short plays by First Rush! The best part, terrific performances by first timers, along with decent scripts and good direction. It was much better than any movie I can remember I must have enjoyed that much in last one year, except Rockstar (even this one had loopholes in its story).

Coming straight to the point, bollywood movies suck big time! With so much talent, investments and experienced people in the industry, why we still end up making 'hollow' movies?? hollow = good trailer, crappy movie!

How many think Don 2 would indeed be the return of King Khan? Honestly, I don't. He has done much better roles that he doesn't seem keen in anymore. Its only because of Farhan Akhtar, who's a terrific director that I think Don 2 won't disappoint, even though its 'too much packed in 2 min' trailer makes me doubtful sometimes.

We have lost simplicity, we have lost depth in our movies. Why do the younger generation still enjoy Dev Anand or Shammi Kapoor or Rajnikant's performances, while cringing at the very sight of Fardeen khan or tushar kapoor? They were fabulous actors, no doubt about that, but seriously, is it only the actor's fault? NO! Its the whole system of the movie making, trying to make it GRAND, then falling flat on its face because there's no strong foundation !!

I ain't a Hollywood fan either. I feel they make more crappier movies than us, its just that we don't generally get to see them. But their good movies are definitely better than ours!

So, my verdict: We have been doing miserable as far as entertaining the audience is concerned. The quality of movies can definitely be much better! Churning some 10 decent movies a year isn't good enough. Why make a movie when you know its gonna be crappy? All the time, energy, resources wasted!

Ok, now that we've failed to entertain, why not make a few movies with social message in it, or to motivate people come forward and participate in nation building itself !! Big banners like Yash Raj films can take a lead in this direction and can actually make some good movies for social cause, and add same magic to it that they add in their romantic films!

My idea: Invite people working on social projects and make a script for a movie out of it. It will increase people's awareness, will give the social workers much needed fame and later much needed funds, and this might also encourage others to join the initiative. Maybe Ranbir kapoor could be the protagonist! He could do the Rocket Singh again!

Tuesday, December 06, 2011


I was intrigued by the idea of failover clusters in SQL Server 2008. If one node fails, the SQL Server will failover to the next node in the priority queue, and the end user doesn't even notice the change, maybe a small blip for few seconds. The ability to maintain robust state of the system for continuous good quality service is what has been the main objective of database servers, as has been for any and every other system ever made.
At an individual level, I feel the idea of failover can make a BIG difference in one's life. What confused me as a kid now makes sense. I used to wonder as to why people involve themselves in so many activities. They have their job, then their hobbies, then maybe some social activities as well, along with spending time with their friends and family. The way I see it, each of these activities is like a node in the failover cluster. The primary node is the job; if one has a bad day at job, then one can rejuvenate by falling back on the other nodes, hobbies, other activities, friends/family. You may think, if the second node also fails then one will fall back on the third node, and so on, hence the more nodes, the merrier!

Time, has always been a constraint so there's always a limit to the number of 'nodes' one can have in one's life. In fact, these nodes in our lives that help us failover is created in reverse order. First, we have a family, then we learn to make friends. After that we start a hobby and involve ourselves in some social activities by contributing whatever we can, as a kid. Then we start doing some part-time job or internship, and after graduation, we get a bigger/better job. After this, job becomes the main node and we fall back on things, generally in the reverse order, although for many people, friends and family are more reliable as failover node than their hobbies but the reason I keep friends/family as last option because I know that in each of our lives, even if everything else leaves us, they will always be there.

Monday, November 07, 2011

Smoking sweet

Why is it that every boy tries to act like a man to look stronger, by mimicking some adult habits like pretending to hold a cigarette and puff up imaginary smoke by curling his lips and tilting his head upwards. I know because I've done that a lot, not because I wanted to feel like a man but because it felt so cool !! The heroes in movies and advertisements puff up smoke, then go and do awesome things like kicking villain's ass or impressing a girl with their macho. I tried to feel that awesomeness too, but using fake cigarettes.
Amongst my fake cigarettes, my favorite one was 'pencil'. Yes, I always had a pencil with me in my pencil-box, and of different sizes. It was always available. Sometimes I used to eat off some wood at the end of the pencil, sometimes the lead. And holding the pencil between my index and middle finger, and slowly, easily exhaling air pretending it to be loaded with nicotine made me feel all tension leaving my mind. Now I know it was the 'slow exhalation' step in 'deep breathing' exercise which is famously used in Yoga and relaxation techniques.
I also used Phantom 'sweet cigarettes' which I'm sure some of you who lived their childhood in the 1990s would know about. Now this was basically white peppermint with red color at one of its tip to show the burning part of cigarette. And if we split it in two equal halves, there was always an argument on who'd get the one with the red color at the tip.
And the most unusual one, which you may find awkward, the lolipop! At least on the outside, it looks a little like cigarette!
The best season to test out the fake cigarettes is Winters, especially early mornings. While going to school my friends and I used to compete as to how much fog a person could exhale. That macho feeling amidst the shivers... what fun !!

Friday, November 04, 2011

Shop Phobia

With all the careful planning and confidence I decided to jump into this thing called Shopping, alone! Even after many failed attempts to do some shopping for my parents and my sister, I still didn't learn, that shopping is not my thing! But like a brave soldier, I left office early, reached Shilparamam, and marched confidently towards the gate when the security or some guy motioned me towards the ticket counter, which was on the right side.
Once inside, I didn't know where to go. Walking few steps from the gate towards left side and there's this market of handicrafts, clothes, pearls and other jewelry, woodwork, and many things that I don't know the name of. Basically a shopping haven for women. And I, a guy standing somewhere there, looking around and totally drowning in my confusion as to, why did I come here!

Since I was there I decide to take a casual stroll. Understandably, shopkeepers, the vigilant ones, were giving me some kind of look but it wasn't a pleasant one! Maybe they were tired or just plain bored! With 2K in cash with me, I was trying to figure out as to where to invest this money. I saw some people at some shops being attended to and looking at few samples of sarees, dress materials and dresses. Some were looking at the woodworks and the handicrafts. I saw them and wondered as to how they figure out what to buy. I go for shopping at the last moment when I "need" something. So don't really know how to think like a shopper. If my mother was with me, all I had to do was pay the final amount after all the bargaining and negotiations. Disheartened, distraught, dejected, and not disillusioned anymore I walked back towards the exit.

On my way, one guy invited me to his shop. I didn't go. Then this other guy invited me. I didn't go but he persisted! He asked me to take a seat, and started explaining me about Pashmina, the real Vs. less real ones, and told me some really interesting physical as well as geological facts about it. In spite of his enthusiasm and impressive knowledge, I didn't feel like buying Pashmina. I guess my mood was off and already set that I would never do shopping alone especially if its not for me. But that guy was a good salesman. If you happen to visit Shilparamam, you may want to check out his shop, "Ladakhi Arts".

Tuesday, November 01, 2011

Electricity Cut

The recent electricity cuts in Hyderabad has been creating quite a havoc in many people's lives. I am a victim too. With a lot of expectations, I switch on my laptop which has almost zero battery backup, put on my favorite playlist and start getting ready for the day, except that after few minutes, i.e., at 10 AM, there is no electricity and my laptop is on a standby mode. I sigh, shut the lid and play those songs in my head instead!
Worse happens when electricity cut happens at night, especially during sleep hours. The swarm of mosquitoes, somehow seem to be waiting at some corner of the room, waiting for electricity cut to leave me vulnerable without the Good Knight! They seem to attack even more mercilessly than before. And they force me to fight back too and spill blood, most of it being my blood, from their bodies.
But all is not lost. Because it is the absence that makes us realize the importance of that thing. Besides, these electricity cuts can really boost health of our people, especially kids who won't be able to play X-box type games or computer games, or watch TV, not for very long anyways! Moreover, being in the dark, using torch or candlelights to resume one's daily work can be quite exciting, an unexpected uninvited change from the same monotonous life with blinking tubelights and boring bulb lights.
In my childhood, my friends and I used to play Dark Room where the seeker has to find everybody else in the dark room. This game can now be played as Dark House or Dark Building in case of electricity cuts.
If you haven't tried Dialogue in the Dark, I'm sure you must have got enough experience of it by now as you might have sat and eaten your dinner in darkness. But if you haven't, do try. Its quite an interesting experience and you may enjoy using our other senses to fill in for your visual sense. One of my friends shared her experience and reading that I'm definitely trying it out during next electricity cut.

Sunday, October 30, 2011

Monday Blues

Do you suffer from Monday Blues? This is perhaps one of those things that separates me from the "crowd". I look forward to Mondays.

During my school days, I looked forward to saturdays like every other kid but times were different then, during those days I used to live at home. Now, I live away from home, with some friends. Taking forward the lethargic and laid back attitude of college life, I lose every weekend morning to sleep, and then laze around in the afternoons only to have the night time left which I spend watching some TV shows or chatting on facebook. The point I'm trying to make here is, a good, early start of the day is essential! And I get that on weekdays when I have to wake up by 9 AM to go to office. I sip a cup of coffee and get by the day. That way I also end up sleeping pretty early, by around 1ish AM at night.
Another reason I look forward to mondays is because I get to meet people at office. My colleagues and seniors are really cool and we have great working environment. On weekends I only get to meet people during regular Madhapur Toastmasters meeting or other toastmaster's clubs meeting. Other than that, I'm pretty much with myself only. Although I do enjoy watching TV shows at my flatmate's PC which has really cool LCD screen while at the apartment, its watching the TV shows that I've been trying to give up for quite sometime now. And when alone, well, if I have electricity and access to the internet, facebook and online streaming of TV shows becomes the obvious choice. Else, I get lost in my thoughts, make stories in my mind that later I feel too lazy to type out.
I love mondays, it gets me back to office where I learn many new things about SQL server and database systems, and it gives me a sense of purpose in my life. Although the AC sometimes blocks my nose, I think its a small price to pay for all the returns everyday and at the end of every month.

Wednesday, October 26, 2011

Happy Diwali everyone

Diwali, the festival of lights, the symbol of good over evil. Diwali has always been my favorite festival among all the festivals I know. The house gets cleaned and one wears good/new clothes. The house, the colony, the whole country lights up! I used to eagerly but patiently wait for the Diwali Pooja to get over so that I could start the ceremony of bursting crackers! Within an hour, some guests might come over, and it was even better if they had kids and even more better if they were my friends. But crackers bursting was the most fun. The adult males sometimes smiled, sometimes laughed as we attempted the rockets and bigger bombs! We were Army kids and so Diwali crackers should be kid's play, even for us.

My Diwali crackers bursting days started early in my childhood. I started with sparkles, and dreaded holding a lighted phuljhadi. The sparks just jumped out of it and fell on my arm, freaking me out! I got used to it and I knew that if I can handle phuljhadi, I can handle any firecracker! So I lighted/bursted them all, except the rockets because I heard all kinds of bad stories about it, especially the one that the bottle used to launch the rocket might get tilted and rocket might land in someone neighbor's house! But lighting a bomb and throwing it away, using a candle or agarbatti, I was slowly becoming a pro! And then the inevitable happened... the 10th standard Board Exams. Since 10th Standard, I didn't burst crackers. I somehow lost interest and even today I don't. I'm not being environment friendly, its just that it doesn't make sense to me anymore!

Fast forward to the present. I am typing this post on my laptop. I lit two candles at God's corner, at a corner of our apartment, and prayed (i.e., wished for many things). I also lit few candles in the verandah. My Diwali preparations done! Also, I cleaned my room! And as I sit here I hear some crackers bursting. But the intensity has reduced. Have the crackers reduced or people actually celebrating the festival have reduced? I'd like to believe the former is true. We already light up the whole country with diyas and candles, as for the sound effects, lets use modern technology to simulate cracker's noise and have a pollution free Diwali!

Happy Diwali Everyone. :)

Sunday, October 23, 2011

My career plan: Be a superhero

After watching Captain America (2011) movie, I finally understood what I want to be. I want to be a superhero! In fact I do have some skillsets required to be a superhero. I am short in height, like Peter Parker (Spiderman), or Logan (Wolverine) or Steve Rogers (Captain America). I like helping people but only when they ask for help. I am good at keeping a low profile and making excuses about my sudden absence at the most critical times (Superman, Batman, Spiderman). And I love watching superhero movies and reading their comic books.

So I spent my whole Sunday (i.e., yesterday) and devised a detailed set of steps I need to follow to embrace my destiny (career) as a full time superhero!

1. My Superpowers: I'll need something/someone radioactive enough to bite (Spiderman) or hit me (Hulk, DareDevil). So I need to be in US for something like this to happen. That's why I have started preparing to switch job to another company in which I'll get to stay for few months onsite immediately on my joining (I'm ready to settle for less pay for quick onsite opportunity). So if you know of such an opportunity, do let me know. BTW, I'm a software engineer, in case you haven't already figured out.

2. My Love: I'll need to make an exhaustive list of all the girls I've ever had crush on, since school days till today, starting with friends, then acquaintances, then almost strangers. After that I'll have to start meeting them, in the order written in the list because I've observed that once a person becomes a superhero, even if the girl is unaware of it, she'll somehow show more interest in that guy.

3. My Sacrifice: I'll have to lose someone very close to me that should make me swear to eradicate evil and crimes. This will be the hardest of all and quite tricky. But we all make sacrifices for our career. So I've decided, I'll remove one of my closest friends from my facebook friends list. Will pick a chit to decide the name.

4. My uniform: This is what will define me and put me into the character. I love wearing ties (like Doctor Who), so ties are mandatory. I also want to have a cape (Superman, Batman). Rest could be anything but within the limits of decency and should be socially acceptable as I'll be running around and fighting crimes during daytime also.

5. My online presence: Interested volunteers please write your e-mail id in the comments and I may get back to you in case required. This will be voluntary work, no compensation will be given. But c'mon, its the experience that counts! You'd be like my sidekick, a superhero's sidekick! You can include that in your resume and add me as one of your references.

I don't need to tell you where to find me in case you need me... Facebook of course! Just post your request on my wall and I'll get back to you whenever I or my sidekick friend checks Facebook the next time! I shall regularly tweet my activities so that the criminals fear me (sadly only the educated ones with access to internet!) and my friends, the common people feel safe.

So if you find someone running on the streets like a madman wearing a torn shirt and holding his bermudas, then that would be the criminal I'd be chasing.

Wednesday, July 13, 2011

Price of a human life.

Today when I came back from office, Sushanta told me that Mumbai suffered three blasts today, which killed 8 and injured 70. On facebook I saw some talking about the coincidence of the blasts and Kasab's birthday falling on the same day!

This reminds me of 26/11 attack on Mumbai. Innocent people were massacred. The whole country was caught in a frenzy, a state of shock and fear, anxiety for the well being of people of Mumbai. These incidents pushes me to ask this very basic question: What is the price of a human life? What do these terrorists think is the price of a human life? What do you think it is?

A few times I have tried to imagine myself being shot dead or having a close friend/relative killed by these zombies. And I couldn't imagine it. The fear, the pain is too much to bear! Death of even a single person saddens the heart. And while all this happens, I find myself helpless in this situation, and seriously, there is no worse feeling than feeling desperate yet helpless.

I agree that its not always possible to predict the next bomb blast, the time and the location. But why do these blasts even happen? And why Mumbai, why? And why India suffers from so many terrorists attacks?! Is there a solution?! My head spins yet again as I try to calm myself and make peace with the fact that I have and perhaps will always be a pawn in their game (read: politicians, businessmen, bureaucrats) and if unlucky then may become a victim to one of these meaningless attacks.

Mumbai, you've survived before, you'll survive again. Let us all become invincible and nullify the effect of their attacks by our never say die attitude. But by God how much I feel like slowly sucking life out of that person who pushes these so called "terrorists" to kill innocent people in cold blood.

P.S. - Today I read about the origin of the initiative "Spoorthi" and later learned about the bomb blasts in Mumbai! What a difference in initiatives!

Wednesday, July 06, 2011

What makes you feel happy

One of my friends gave me this questionnaire one day which had this question: What makes you feel happy?
I replied to him with the filled questionnaire after a week only because I really had to think about this question. I know what makes me laugh, what makes me smile, what delights me, what excites me but I believe happiness is something beyond all this, something grander.

The answer was so simple, being at home makes me happy! But then what if I didn't have a home. Would/Should that take away my happiness? Now a days I live away from home, does that mean I am not or can't be happy? This argument was good enough to compel me to think a little more.

If he had asked me this question few years ago I would probably had said, "dude, if Microsoft hires me I'd be really happy!" Microsoft didn't hire me, so can I never be happy?!

My definition of happiness has been changing over the years but after reading his question, I had to find a way to at least convince myself that there are some things in life that are or which can provide perennial source of happiness. Instead of specific reasons I started searching for general reasons, common things that happen in life. And then it struck me... I always like when someone comes and talks to me, I always enjoy sharing my ideas or opinions with others, I really feel connected with the other person during the face to face conversation. So I replied, "A good conversation". Most of my conversations have been good.

What makes you feel happy?!

Learn to fall

Our karate teacher, Mr. Babji taught some of my friends and me how to fall when someone lifts you on his back and throws you down. He told us that we should try to fall on the back and try to spread the impact across the whole back by rolling a little on the back. He told us that falling on our back causes less harm to the body than trying to break the fall using hands. This simple yet useful suggestion made me realize that in martial arts, as in life, falling is inevitable. That is why there are some techniques, some suggestions to minimize the hurt, the pain when the impact happens.

When someone says, "I got your back buddy", what they really mean can be correlated with the advice Mr. Babji gave us. In fact, isn't it that most of the times when we fall, we fall on our back (metaphorically and in reality) because nobody volunteers to fall, it just happens. While falling on our back, we can't use our hands to break our fall, we can't see how deep we'll find ourselves after its all over, how hard the impact would be, so we basically have no choice. One should just accept this situation but always have someone or something to make it easier for us. Friends, relatives, a pet or some hobbies like movies, music, sports, writing, workout, gardening etc. can be that cushion to make the fall bearable. We must have something to someone to come to, to share our success and seek comfort during disappointments.

Tuesday, April 19, 2011

How to make office life less boring!

Why is office life boring? - Simple, you do the same thing over and over again! But I do get better at it, and if I like doing that thing, and I attain success at a regular basis, why should I get bored?
Because you're doing the same thing every day !!

I propose a new model for professional life, and this model can actually work in today's world where many people are multi-talented and some are even following this model, thereby making their office or work life less boring and more exciting.

And the idea is... to have more than one job! In fact, I take this a step further... no moonlighting please, but more than one job during the daytime.

Take my case: I've been trained to be a software engineer and I have some research experience, so I can play two different roles in a company. Moreover, I also write fairly well, so I could also participate in being a Technical Writer. I have been attending Toastmaster's meetings so in few months time I could also be considered to become an Evangelist. The idea here is that one can don many caps being in the same company.

Two important things to keep in mind:
1. Each employee must be given a very small chunk of the project (because instead of 10 hours they'd spend some 4 hours on that project), which means there has to be a person who must understand the project on the whole and can suitably divide the project to different employees so that their work can be easily integrated later. This person will only have the work of dividing the project and assigning it to others. He may then participate in other work, like some managerial aspects or be an Evangelist for a while.

2. The sense of urgency must go. In fact, less work hours for an employee on a particular project would mean more employees, so just before the deadline, all the employees could be asked to work few hours more to help the project launch successfully!

The payroll maintenance would become difficult in this situation but its worth it because an employee would gain different kind of experience, which means the company will have multi-talented employees who are ready to take up any role in the company, if the need be! This will make their life exciting and company's work easier, except the payroll part! Please note that an employee could have fixed salary or could have salary based on number of hours worked.

The latter case will also give the employee an option of working elsewhere for rest of the day. Commutation has to be worked out but if the two (or more) places are nearby, then the day can be divided into number of hours to be spent at each place.

Such a lifestyle can ensure less monotonicity in life which means a person will also be willing to work on weekends, and instead of lots of money from one job, will get some money from more than one job. Moreover, each person would be versatile, multi-talented and, lets be honest, productivity will enhance this way!

Besides, who needs a vacation when so much would be going on in life?

Friday, April 08, 2011

Lokpal bill is not enough

I feel delighted to see so many of my facebook friends actively supporting the cause for which Anna Hazare has been fasting, i.e., Anti Corruption! Some of their facebook post invites others to walk few miles to show their support, some other post shares a link to sign a petition supporting the bill. I really hope people's support for this great cause helps in passing the Lokpal Bill, and also that government realizes that people are aware now, people are ready to take action against anything wrong happening to them. Our unity towards the right cause can lead to a bright future.

But wait! Lets not get carried away by the extravagant and overwhelmingly enthusiastic response by our "elite educated mass" (not much of the total mass, though). By elite I don't mean wealthy, I mean people living comfortable lives, they may not be millionaires. Firstly, most of the supporters I have seen are youth. In a way its good that the young blood is ready to fight for a good cause and bring change for the better. Sadly, there's a lot more to this corruption thing than meets the eye. Youth generally have all the good intentions at heart but have very little idea of how screwed up the whole situation is! Just passing the bill and making it a law can't ensure effective execution of law.

Secondly, being elite educated mass, there are some "moral ethics" that we like to follow, to show our contribution towards society, and for self-satisfaction. We have enough knowledge and wealth, so we see corruption as a disgrace and arm ourselves to eliminate it from this planet! But really, why does a person become corrupt? Lack of knowledge or lack of wealth, or both, isn't it? My friends and I have been blessed with both, so we generally tend to misunderstand the whole situation. Nobody likes to be corrupt, they're forced to be.

The Lokpal Bill is necessary but not a sufficient condition. The Lokpal Bill becoming a law is just the first step. There's a second step as well, which is much more essential. A law can help bring in line few stranded people, but can it bring in line the whole government?! Why not prevent the situation that makes the government guilty of corruption?! Why not take the second step, or are you planning to wash off your hands after this bill becomes a law, so that the executives and the government can exploit the loopholes in the law?

The second step is to live the life of an honest person, an honest citizen, an honest individual. Be honest in whoever you are, whatever you do. Instead of preaching, 'anti-corruption', preach and practice 'honesty'. Fight for an honest life instead of fighting against a life of corruption. It'd be like walking on a thin rope over an abyss, but only the rope walker knows the thrill and fulfilment in such a life.

I have high expectations from our elite educated mass in this direction.
Firstly, Be honest with yourself, be honest with others. Don't steal or snatch anything that's not yours, especially if you don't even need it.
Secondly, be strong. Its easy to get carried away by the promise of more wealth, more comfort, more power. Do you really need more? Is it helping you life a better life? Wealth may bring smile on face but what about the happiness in our hearts? Anna Hazare is an inspiration. He's a strong man. He's fighting for what he believes is right, he's fighting against the whole government! Can we find in our hearts enough courage to do what feels right, unbiased by the media or by the common thinking? Can we leave behind a legacy of honest lives that would be a guiding light for our future generations?

Lets stop running away from the real problem and face it head on. Lets live honest lives and contribute towards progress of our country so that all the reasons for corruption are eliminated forever. Lets be sincere in our efforts, like Anna Hazare. Lets take the first step by supporting Anna Hazare. Then lets take the second step by living an honest life and helping each other so that we grow as a nation.

Wednesday, February 23, 2011

Discipline, Talent and Time

Discipline may not be a substitute for talent but talent evaporates without it.

He wasn't talented but he did treat things gently, patiently and took his own time to understand them and get familiar with them. Ask him something all of a sudden and he'd look lost. Give him few minutes and he'd be ready to impress you with his response. He had this genuine interest in understanding how things work rather than be prepared with tailor made responses to situations. Perhaps, at the age of 14 itself he had understood that nothing is permanent, everything changes.
He wasn't disciplined, he hardly followed a time table, except for the school time table which he had to. He too his own sweet time doing things. Once he was forced to finish off something before the deadline and he did. All other deadlines were excused for him so that he could meet this deadline. The teachers were rather surprised though. They could clearly see the drop in quality of this work as compared to his previous submissions, which often happened few days later. Some teachers were fine with his late submissions because they marveled at his output but some thought that special treatment to one student could mean partiality which eventually authorities were not ready to do. Poor chap, he suffered due to this.

So, in a conventional sense, he was neither talented, nor disciplined. But he was both, yes he was!
You could call him talented, his talent lies in his perspective, his approach towards things, situations.You could call him disciplined, when doing one thing, he paid complete attention to that thing only. He never compromised with this time and attention to his work. He overshot deadlines only because he knew he could do better and only when that zenith of perfection is achieved that he is ready to proudly claim that work as his own.
Perhaps we end up defining discipline and talent wrongly! Why do we have to use time to define discipline and talent?

Sunday, February 13, 2011

My Valentine Day's Story

If two guys go out on a Valentine's Day,
its just natural to conclude that they're gay.

But I'm not. Nor my friend is. In fact, my friend has a girlfriend but she stays in another city. But instead of sitting home alone, they decided to go out in their respective cities, have fun and talk on phone every once in a while. Maybe we're good friends or maybe I am his only single friend but I'm sure I got the first call, and we were the only two guys walking the mall together that night. There were couples, yes, and there were families, and group of friends and by group I mean more than two! Arjun's phone rings suddenly.

"It must be Aditi's call, yeah it is here. Hey Aditi."
Okay I don't know what she was saying, and if I try to speculate, that'd be lying to you.
"Aditi wants to talk to you."
"What? No no I don't want to dig into your precious conversation. I can talk to her tomorrow!"
"Take the phone, man." and he pushed his phone in my hand.
"Hey Aditi."
"Hi Parth. What's up with you guys? What are you going to do?"
"Well, we're gonna have something and look at hot chicks, rate them maybe. And yeah, the one with her boyfriend gets extra score."
"Cheapo! Ok, give the phone to Arjun."
Of course I don't know what she talked to him about but he was grinning.
"Yeah, we'll probably have a sub and then go to some other mall. We've actually decided to observe how couples behave in public."

And that was our plan, yes! Entertaining, and educative. But I'd have still preferred a pretty stranger girl than one of my best friends!
"Ok, I love you too. Bbye! Talk to you later. Yeah, will call you after I reach home and tell you everything I did. Ok, bye!"
I cringed a little inside when he said "I love you". Maybe I'm not used to this word. Please don't misjudge me. I have a loving family but I haven't said "I love you" to my mother as well! "I love you" and "Sorry" are something I have never been able to say to anyone.

While we did window shopping and were walking towards the subway, a quick visit to what happened today morning. A phone call woke me up at 7 am, one and a half hour before my usual time.
"Hi Sunny."
"Hi Mommy. How're you? Why haven't you left for school already?"
"I am about to leave. Just wanted to say, "Happy Valentine's Day"!! Just wanted you to know that your father, your sister and I love you very much."
"thank you Mom."
"and also I had to wake you up. You and your bad habit of waking up late!"
"And I'm awake now. So, you please leave for school and I'll go to the toilet. Can't talk anymore. Bbye!"
I didn't wait to hear her reply because it was an emergency situation. It happens 5 minutes after I wake up, its fixed! That kind of makes me not want to have dinner while traveling overnight when I go home!

I have no argument in my defense. Yes I can be labeled as a loser because I don't choose to be, I am forced to be single. Guys tell me, 'you got looks man, you got your writing and you got a good job, why don't you try, man? Girls are gonna like you, really!' Believe me, I've tried to try but, well, I talk direct. Its hard for me to read signs or flirt around. I mean, I could do that, maybe, but I am not sure of the other person's response. Its a hit and try game. You like someone, you walk up to her, and hope to start a conversation. That doesn't happen unless you have something in common. I did have something in common with that girl I met while on a 'date' with my best friend Arjun. I saw her sitting across us on the other table while we entered Subway. I deliberately took the chair to face my back towards her. The idea of talking to a girl without any plan scares me more than needles and ghosts!

I heard her approach towards the door from behind me when the person at the counter said, "Sir, you forgot your credit card." She and the guy with her looked back. While he walked up to the counter, her sight fell on me. I looked at her at the same time.
"Hey Parth, right?"
My face and hands were a little smudged with sauce, it happens all the time while I eat sub. I felt awkward.
"Yes indeed. How're you Natasha."
I didn't offer to shake her hands for obvious reasons.
"I'm good. How're you?"
"Good. So..." and while I searched for my next thought, her guy friend comes back.
I wipe off my hands with the tissue paper.
"Hey Parth, this is Arun. Arun, Parth."
"And this is my friend, Arjun."
All the formalities were done.
"Parth evaluated me for my speech this time and I was amazed. You were great Parth."
"Thanks Natasha. So when's your club's next meeting? Do send me an invite, I mean Madhapur Toastmasters."
"Sure! We're getting late for somewhere, so I'll see you later. It was nice meeting you. Bbye."
"Same here."
All the formalities were done.
"I have to tell Aditi this." Arjun says in his usual delightful mood when he knows something exciting.
"Why? What happened?"
"I saw a girl actually flirting with you. This is breaking news!"
"Flirting? No! We do that all the time. Its the Toastmasters code. We encourage each other and praise each other for a job well done. You never attend our meeting, I invite you so many times."
"Maybe now I will, I'm curious."
"Hey Aditi, yeah, I just saw a girl flirt with Parth."
"Yes I am sure. She was praising him and she started the conversation and all."
"Here, talk to Aditi."
He pushed the phone again in my hand.
"Hey Aditi. How was your evening? You sound so pleasant tonight."
Nothing worked. She started lecturing me that I should meet her more often.
"We're in toastmasters, that's why she talked to me! Please attend a toastmasters meeting in Pune, there are some clubs over there. You'll know."
"Why do you always try to deny that you are likeable."
"Arjun wants to talk to you, here."
And I took the remaining sub in my hand and quickly walked out before Arjun could push the phone back into my hand.

Friday, February 04, 2011

Price Tag on marriage

Times have changed and are changing, but sadly some things haven't changed. Why do people still believe in taking (which is understood!) and giving (WTH!!) dowry? Educated people living in a mansion also demand dowry... don't they have enough money? And those who give dowry believe that if they don't, then their daughter might have a difficult time in that household. If the groom's family doesn't accept her or if she has a difficult time in that family then maybe that marriage wasn't the right thing to do in the first place. Can money really make/mend relationships? I thought love did that !! Times indeed are changing.

Tell me one thing though, doesn't a woman contribute equally, if not more, to the economy of the household? A wife, a daughter-in-law, a mother, takes care of the house, she is a homemaker. Imagine your life without her, without them... all I'm saying is that dowry as a custom has lost its significance, its not out of love for your daughter but out of fear. Its like a rotten limb, its painful yet you refuse to cut it off just because its always been a part of your body.

This is for all the highly qualified well educated guys... if your parents don't understand, you should. With big degrees and years of work experience, do you still need to ask (or impose) the bride's family for dowry? Isn't your fat salary enough? Have you lost your self respect along with your innocence over the years? How can a marriage, or any relationship, be stable if it is based on financial transaction (in cash or kind)?

Marriage has become a business transaction. The amount of dowry that a groom or his family deserves depends on two things: status of the family and education qualification of the groom. But if the family belongs to high class society or the groom is a highly qualified professional, is dowry really necessary? If the rich and the educated still follow such customs then where's the hope for everyone else?

I am a firm believer of the fact that wherever more than necessary money is involved, evil creeps in. There are too many troubles in this world, why carry another one on our shoulders. Let us be free of the outdated obligations that society supposedly puts on us, because your happiness and your daughter's happiness is more important than what others think, and money can't buy happiness.