Tuesday, December 16, 2008
Or how not being allowed to carry forward your leaves from one year to the next ensures a work-life balance?
Or having limiting parking space for vehicles at workplace contributes towards a green cause?
Or how mugging up some technology fundas that have no connection whatsoever to the actual work you do (but helps you pass a test) makes you a competency champion?
Saturday, November 22, 2008
Random Thing#2: Apparently my blog is written by a man - that too there are 70% chances of this; at least that's what http://genderanalyzer.com/ thinks so. I am a disillusioned person (can't say man or woman now :( ) today. Sigh!
Random Thing#3: This is my 100th post on the blog, and I didn't realize it was going to be such a profound one! Anyway, I never thought I would be able to write as many posts so it is some sort of an achievement keeping in mind my history of short attention span, impatience and losing interest in things too soon. This blog has been rechristened thrice over its one and a half year journey - from Random Thoughts (ughhh, could I be any more generic?!!?) to Just Me (Ewww!) to its current unimaginative name Thinking Aloud. I never said I was good with titles, did I? :)
Saturday, November 15, 2008
- Bring value to the table
- Thought Leadership
- Take bottomline responsibility
- Business processes
- Key initiative
- Competitive edge
- Stakeholder management
- Perception management
- Normalize/ Rationalize
I am sure there is more to this list .. will add when I remember
Tuesday, November 11, 2008
Thursday, November 6, 2008
Later that evening we had a small dinner at home for Mom's birthday. A quiet birthday - just family, the only guest being Colin.
My unsuspecting Mom was happily posing for the photo without having the slightest idea what was going on behind her :)
Tuesday, October 21, 2008
Interestingly, I have never heard that such a thing exists for the most important job in the country. That of the elected political leaders. Shouldn't we, as the people who elected them to their offices, at least have the right to ask them what exactly they have done for the people of this nation? Shouldn't we, as tax payers who part with over a third of their hard-earned money to pay for these politicians' Z-grade security, escort of dozens of cars, palatial living quarters, numerous foreign trips, deserve to know where all this money is going apart from providing comfort and luxury for them?
In a perfect world, as a citizen appraiser I would love to set real targets for the politicians. Targets that can be quantified and compared - like what percentage of people were brought above poverty line, improvement in literacy rate, increase in per capita income, fall in crime rate, availability of basic amenities for common man, generation of employment .... so on and so forth. But this is definitely not a perfect world, so in reality our politicians have agenda like drive away non-Maharashtrians from Bombay, demolish Babri Masjid, make a new state, change name of a city/street/square/airport/museum, annihilate people of a religion/community/caste/tribe, ban dancing/smoking/drinking and so on. My memory fails me when I try to think when was the last time a politician took up a real issue and did something for it.
We pride ourselves in being the world's biggest democracy, but I see more reason of being ashamed of this farce we call democracy. Does being big only mean having a higher number?
Image courtesy: www.rediff.com
Saturday, October 11, 2008
Some of the companies that have left a very bad taste for us due to their extremely unprofessional handling of service requests are -
- Tata Sky - it by far tops the list of poorest customer service providers. For servicing simplest of service requests like change of address in their records, they took more than a month. For changing the package, we were given two totally different details & tariffs by two of their service reps. Even making payments through their voice response systems has been a challenge. I unsuccessfully tried making the payment for 1.5 hours before giving up.
- Eureka Forbes - We needed to move our Aqua Guard water purifier to the new home. They seem to have very selective way of handling different types of services. When we called them to renew our annual maintenance contract for another year AND for moving the purifier to the new home, they came within an hour for the contract renewal. But the service for moving the purifier is yet to be serviced, after at least fifteen follow up calls in the past 4 days and threats of taking them to consumer court
- Airtel Broadband - I was most disappointed by Airtel, because all along I had always recommended Airtel broadband to everyone in the past as I had never faced any problem with their connection. They had assured us of getting our connection moved to the new home within 3 days. It has been 5 days and still counting after receiving multiple 'within 24 hrs it will be done' assurances. I can foresee many days of no internet connection ahead
- LG - We had placed a simple request of checking the motor of our microwave oven (as it made some noise) and it took them over a month to service it after innumerable calls to their service centers
I will definitely think many times before taking any more products from these companies. The unfortunate part is, all of these companies are renowned and are good when it comes to sales but they are extremely apathetic when it comes to customer service. We keep hearing that customer is the king these days but I, for one, definitely don't feel like a king (or queen) after the so-called service being meted out to me.
Tuesday, September 30, 2008
After my one and a half month long time-away when I came back to Bangalore, many people complimented me about my losing weight. Although my weighing scale had shown me that I'd shed some kilos, I assumed that these people were saying such things as I'd been away for too long for them to remember how I really looked. But when I saw a photo that was taken exactly 4 months ago & compared it to a recent one, I was pleasantly surprised.
I know this is nothing close to the before and after photo routine by slimming centers, but there is some difference. At least as much to keep me motivated to aim for bigger goals.
PS: And just in case someone misses to notice which is the before photo and which after, the one in blue dress is before and that in pink one is after :)
Sunday, September 7, 2008
The Government is trying to control the damage - although it's way too late to do so. I don't understand why there was no disaster management plan in place in spite of many occurrences of flood in Kosi in the past. But then, we always have something or someone to blame for any mishaps on our part (and when it comes to Bihar, even that is not required I guess). more on this probably later. Right now since the Indian Navy and Air Force are actively manning the rescue operations, I see some hope for the flood victims. They can do with as much help as possible from all of us at this time. So please contribute to make these relief operations possible - no contribution is small.
There are multiple avenues of making the contributions. But the easiest one so far I have found is on ICICI Bank's website here. It takes less than a minute to make the contribution online. Alternatively, you can send a cheque or draft in favor of Prime Minister's National Relief Fund and mail to:
Prime Minister's Office
New Delhi - 110101
You can make the contribution at branches of any of the leading banks (SBI, Central bank of India, Corporation Bank, Citi Bank, Canara Bank, UCO Bank, HDFC Bank, HSBC Bank, Vijaya Bank, ICICI Bank, standard Chartered Bank, Vijaya Bank etc).
You can also send your cheques or drafts in favor of Chief Minister's Relief Fund, Bihar. A/c # 10839124928, SBI Patna Secretariat Branch, Patna. Put your name, phone number and address at the back of the cheque/draft and drop it at the nearest SBI drop box. And if it is of any help - all contributions made towards Bihar flood relief are tax deductible under section 80G.
Sunday, August 31, 2008
No, there is one more thing that has remained actually - the preview performance of London 2012. Really, was it the best they could come up with? The double decker bus that opened up from all sides to reveal ... well, nothing! Couldn't they take a cue from the Chinese performances preceding them? Then there was Beckham, looking extremely uncomfortable, and all he was made to do was kick a football at the audience (now, what was that? :D). Leona Lewis (whose singing I otherwise like) sounded off key and I, for one, couldn't wait for the whole preview performance to get over quickly. I guess I am being a little judgemental about their performance but the Chinese have raised the bar so high that even otherwise good performances appear mediocre now.
And of course, 2008 Olympics were special because India won three medals - the maximum ever so far. I hope this is just a preview of more medals to come in future. As always, the governments (both central and some states) have recklessly started announcing prize money (in crores of rupees!) for the sportsmen who have brought home medals. I am all for recognizing and rewarding talented people, but wouldn't it be better if Govt had invested this amount in providing better facilities to the sportspersons so they can train better for subsequent Olympics? Probably that might have ensured that three did not remain the maximum number of medals India ever got.
Wednesday, August 27, 2008
Having missed my office shuttle I had to take an auto to get to a place where I could take another shuttle. On my way I heard the siren of an ambulance coming from somewhere behind. Most of the vehicles continued moving at the same pace without paying any heed to the siren. But my auto-driver moved to the extreme left lane and slowed down until the ambulance passed.
It is good to see that in a city where most people drive without caring for anyone else on the road, one gets to see humane gestures from totally unexpected quarters ..
Tuesday, August 19, 2008
I missed the spectacular Opening Ceremony on TV (but managed to catch some of it on youtube) which, as most people claimed, and rightly so, was one of the best shows on earth ever. But I read mixed reactions - on one hand Shekhar Kapur put it as the greatest live event ever presented on this planet and wondered if India could have done something similar. On the other hand, the Western media went all out to belittle the ceremony by over-emphasizing on the lip-syncing of Chinese national anthem by Lin Miaoke and dubbing the footprint fireworks shown to TV audience as "fake". I particularly resented the condescending article by one Mr. James Reynolds who writes in BBC's Olympics blog. I don't advocate beauty over talent and personally feel that Yang Peiyi (the actual singer of the anthem during Opening Ceremony) was no less cute than Lin herself, but we should not let these hiccups steal the thunder from China. They did put up a great show and we should applaud and appreciate all the hard work that was put in to make it such a flawless event. The dust on opening ceremony doesn't seem to settle down though - now there is this hype about soldiers who were operating the centerpiece scrolls wore nappies during the Opening Cermony as they were not allowed to take any breaks.
Let alone the Western media, even their Indian counterparts were not far behind when it came to belittling someone's achievements. After the initial euphoria of Abhinav Bindra winning the first ever individual gold medal died down, a lot was discussed about his keeping a water balloon/bottle on his maid's head (when Abhinav was all of 5 years of age) and shooting. Not to mention about his super-rich dad who spent all the money he could to make Bindra prepare well for the Olympics. Talking about India's performance in Beijing Olympics, I ran into this Wikipedia article that gives very detailed account of performance of Indian sportspersons in all events. It was really disheartening to see so many 'did not advance' entries. But then there were two boxing quarter-finals scheduled for the 20th where Indian boxers Jitender Kumar & Vijender Kumar (in flyweight and middleweight categories, respectively) have still kept India's hopes alive. I, for sure, will be following their matches tomorrow and rooting for them.
Just out of curiosity I had checked India's performance (links available in Wikipedia article's sidebar) in all the Olympics it has participated since 1900 (first as British India and later as independent India), the medal count hasn't gone above 2. There were many years when no medals were won, though. I am just hoping that these two boxers from Haryana break this jinx of two and add 2 more medals for the country..
Monday, August 11, 2008
It was a mixed feeling on finally seeing the Boot House - it did not look as big and imposing as in my imagination but a rather small, cute-looking one. The entry to the house were sealed so there was no question of going to the balcony :(. But the park on the whole was neatly maintained and offered a very good view of the Chowpatty beach and part of the Marine Drive. The two hours or so that we spent there were definitely more than worth the effort :)
Wednesday, August 6, 2008
We had planned to start early in the morning so we could reach in time for breakfast at Duke's in Khandala. But as expected, we overslept and could start only by 8.30 AM with the breakfast plan still intact. The drive from our home in South Bombay to Khandala on Bombay-Pune Expressway was very scenic and the greenery was lush due to rains. There were numerous waterfalls along the way; many of which, I am sure would not have existed but for the monsoon rains. We reached Duke's just after 11 AM and had a sumptuous breakfast (I would rather call it a brunch :) ) of omelettes, pakodas, samosas, french fries and pots of masala tea.
The restaurant at Duke's provided breathtaking view of the valley - there were rolling hills and waterfalls for as far as eyes could see. Then suddenly the clouds descended on us from all sides and we had this amazing feeling of being cozily nestled among the clouds for some 15-20 minutes. It was like being in our own little world as visibility had reduced to only 3-4 feet. After some time we headed towards Lonavala. On our way we saw groups of people, mostly college students, enjoying the hike (since there are no trails, they were walking on the roads) soaked to their bones. We, too, were tempted to do this but had to pass as we had not brought any change of clothing .
We stopped at many view-points to take in the beauty of the valley. At some of the places there was a strong breeze and at others everything was still and there were clouds all around us! There were small shops selling all kinds of snacks at these view-points. We also enjoyed bhutta and tea at one of them. There were other interesting fares too - like camel rides!! On our way back we stopped for a quick look at the Bushi dam and bought some Maganlal Chikki from a marketplace in Khandala.
Did I mention that there was a toll booth in the beginning of the drive from Khandala to Lonavala where cops were collecting Pollution Tax from all vehicles and persons? When we asked them how the money we pay will be used to fight pollution, we couldn't get a convincing response.
Saturday, July 26, 2008
Can't we expect a little more empathy than this from our country's politicians?
Edited to add (29Jul'08): And today BJP MP Sushma Swaraj gave a totally new perspective to the serial blasts. According to her, the ruling UPA government is behind the blasts just to divert the negative publicity it had received during the recent horse-trading in parliament. Just how low can she (and most of the other politicians) stoop just for the votes? Honestly, what was the lady really thinking!
Sunday, July 20, 2008
- No early morning alarms - after having relied on my alarm clock/cellphone alarm to wake up for years, it was a pleasant change not listen to this harsh sound first thing in the morning. In fact, the only wake-up holler I get these days is from Adi - my 3 1/2 year old nephew - "Maasi, get up now. I'm leaving for school. Miss me while I'm gone"
- Happy hours - I have been able to actually get happy hour discounts for the first time in my life and I'm definitely happy about them. Be it at the gym, bars, sometimes even while shopping!
- Appointment? No problem- getting appointments has never been easier. Most of the weekday hours are always available - at the salon, therapist, dentist, hairdresser; just about anywhere. Which working person would be interested in getting their hair done at say, 11.30 AM on a Wednesday?
- No crowd - Having so many museums and art galleries in the neighborhood and having loads of time at hand is an amazing combination. I have managed to visit most of them at a time when I am probably the only person in there.
- Trivial things too - like taking long showers, having breakfast at noon & lunch at 4 PM, reading every page of the newspapers .. oh and the occasional afternoon siesta!
Is there a way I could freeze time?
Monday, June 30, 2008
It just seems like a really long weekend :)
Monday, June 23, 2008
Most of my friends told me they were envious of this break I was taking. I told them you can think of this as a wedding and maternity leave (both rolled into one) that I never got to take so far :)
Sunday, June 15, 2008
I think this optimism in me has something to do with the events of the past evening. On Saturday, I attended a Partners' Meet organized by World Vision India in Bangalore for interaction between sponsors and donors with the staff of the World Vision (including the CEO). It also included a cultural programme by a group of sponsored children who had come to Bangalore from Gundulpet (near Mysore) especially for this event. There was a skit by the children depicting social evils like child labour, dropping out of school, child marriage, child abuse etc. The performance by those 6-10 year old kids seemed straight from the heart as some of the kids had been on the receiving end for the evils they were depicting on stage. There was also a dance performance by the girls, the soundtrack for which failed to work unfortunately. But these spirited kids did not give up and they danced and sang - such a great sight it was!
Dr. Jayakumar Christian, CEO of World Vision India, presented some amazing real-life stories during his address. But when he presented the number of donors in India (just over 35,000) and in Bangalore ( just about 2000), they were disappointingly low. In Bangalore where there are so many high-earning IT and ITES professionals, there are just 2000 people who can spend Rs 600 on a child who is on the verge of losing his/her childhood to poverty and illiteracy! Don't we spend the same amount on a single drink or dinner or movie - more than once a month? Like Dr. Christian pointed out - it is truly amazing how 200 million of us well-to-do Indians choose to conveniently ignore the existence of 856 million of those living below poverty line.
Isn't it time we started lighting the bulbs in our own small ways?
Image courtesy: www.matthewsalomon.wordpress.com
Tuesday, May 20, 2008
Thursday, May 15, 2008
Even nature seems to have joined hands in terrorizing mankind. I could sure do with some good news ...
Monday, May 12, 2008
By the time we came out, we were so hungry we could almost eat an elephant! After a breakfast of rotis, omelet, coconut chutney, fried fish and chai (yes yes, it was only breakfast and we ate everything that Parveen and Irshad, the shop owners, had available). Colin even helped them fry the fish! We then headed to Golibore which was just 9 kms from Sangam (it was an untarred road that led to Golibore). We did not go to the fishing camp & jungle lodges as it required prior reservation but the gatekeeper let us go the the Kaveri banks (it did come with a small price though!).
Kaveri was much better - clear water, clean sand, very few people & many mountains. A board near the river bank warned us of unexpectedly deep waters and crocodiles, so we tried not to venture more than 10 feet inside water. After a while Colin & Pallab started displaying their skills in skipping stones across the river. After trying our hand, and failing miserably at it, the rest of us decided to find the perfect stones (medium-sized, flat ones) for them. We enjoyed watching them hurl stones and relishing the applause for doing good job at times; and all of us happily turned brown under the hot sun.
Once the sun started going down, we decided to head back home after a big late lunch at a restaurant at the Sangam. And before we knew it, we were back to the hustle and bustle of our daily city lives.
Wednesday, May 7, 2008
This video shows the comparison between original & inspired songs like Pehli Nazar Mein (Race), Jaane kya chaahe mann (Pyar ke side effects), Kya mujhe pyar hai (Woh Lamhe) & some more. Surprise! These songs are hardly any different from the original ones.
There are two more such videos showing other songs by Pritam here and here. If I disregard these songs and try to think what other hit numbers Pritam has composed himself, I can't think of even a single song! Yes, I know it is a very common practice to get inspired by other songs in Bollywood (and probably elsewhere too) and the most common excuse I have heard from these composers (like Bappi Lahiri, Anu Malik etc) is that there are only seven notes in music after all and it is likely that your notes will match with someone else's too. Also, I have to give credit to Pritam for having chosen artistes from the far East rather than the more popular international artistes (how many of us Indians listen to Chinese, Indonesian & Korean music anyway?) - the guy did hard work in some department after all! But it is such a let down that the music composer who seemed to be so promising and talented just turned out to be a copycat.
Albert Einstein summed up this whole plagiarism business so well when he said - Creativity is all about hiding your sources (also shown in the beginning of these videos).
Monday, May 5, 2008
Got my first tattoo done almost a month ago. As regards the choice of this design, I wanted something neutral. I don't believe in sun signs, so no zodiac patterns for me; I don't believe much in religion so did not go for an Om either. I had considered getting a flower/butterfly/dolphin at one point of time, but find them overly cute now. Hence this simple tribal design that (I hope) has no meaning attached.
Saturday, May 3, 2008
Even watching the IPL match between Bangalore and Hyderabad (which Bangalore actually won after a nail-biting finish) without them was not as much fun ...
Thursday, April 17, 2008
Wednesday, April 9, 2008
Monday, April 7, 2008
- If you own a stud farm, all things around you should be horsey. The club you go to should be called Gallops, your entire home should have hundreds of horse figurines in all shapes & sizes
- If you happen to have a passion for race then all your conversation should always be interspersed with the word race. Like 'Zindagi ki race mein ek saathi ki zaroorat hoti hai', 'ab zindagi aur maut ki race hogi', 'maine tumhein zindagi ki race mein haraa diya' and many many more
- Even if your names are Ranvir Singh and Rajiv Singh, you would have Christian weddings and funerals. I personally think that Christian weddings and funerals are more glamorous than any other ones. Probably the director duo Abbas-Mastan share similar tastes as mine
- Most of Durban's (South Africa, where the entire movie is shot) population is Indian. Be it the stud farm owner and their entire staff & friends circle, cops, real estate agent, marriage registrar, doctors, manager of an orphanage .. just about everyone! There were some white people (mostly unimportant ones) and exactly 2 black people (in a dance number). We actually managed to drive away all the local people from their own city!
I wish more films like Race were made so we could increase our knowledge.
Saturday, March 29, 2008
Most of us would have probably dismissed the whole affair with either 'Good, one terrorist off the face of the earth is many lives saved' or ' In India one life less doesn't really matter' or a more callous 'Who cares? All this is happening in far away Kashmir/Delhi. It doesn't affect me in any way'. I, for one, would never have known the truth behind arrest, confession and eventually conviction of Mohd. Afzal Guru if I had not received this extremely insightful article by Arundhati Roy from a friend. Ironically, the day I read this article was the day the news of chief investigating officer of this case ACP Rajbir Singh (famously called Encounter Specialist of Delhi Police) being killed was flashing on all news channels.
What Ms Roy has very simply pointed out in her article (which, of course, the mainstream media has conveniently forgotten to bring to the notice of common people) would make even a layman see through the whole case and figure out that Mohd. Afzal is just a victim and not a hardened terrorist that he is made out to be. More importantly, Ms Roy's article also points out how the protectors of law & order (Police, Army, Judiciary) have abused the system and made a complete mockery of it. All the information that she has provided is, as she herself mentions, not a work of spectacular detective work on her part, but has been gathered through public records of Mohd. Afzal's trial.
The whole case is a myriad of false/doctored evidences, callous investigation, confessions extracted by torture, serious lapses of procedure - screaming to be noticed during Afzal's trial. But for most part of the trial Afzal did not have a lawyer (let alone a decent one) and during the most crucial part he was asked to cross examine the witnesses himself!! This, as all the lawyers appointed by the trial court had refused to take up his case. It comes as no surprise then, that Afzal has been convicted and given death sentence based on circumstantial evidence owing to the collective conscience of the society.
Afzal's death sentence and the incidents that led to it raise far more questions than answers. To me, he appears to be a victim and not the culprit. A victim of the failed system of the biggest democracy of the world. While he would be hanged some time soon, the real culprits walk free.
But is anyone listening? I don't think so ...
P.S. Afzal was scheduled to have been executed in October 2006 but he is still lodged in Tihar Jail, waiting to be executed. His clemency petition is lying with the President of India. If you believe Afzal should not be executed, here is an online petition you can sign.
Monday, March 24, 2008
Few years ago - another software professional was killed while returning home after an evening out with his wife. It appeared that it was a case of mugging-turned-murder. After some months of investigation, it was found out that the newly wed wife and her boyfriend had plotted to kill the husband. When I last heard - verdict was pending for the accused.
Both cases involved educated, upper middle class, supposedly responsible people. I don't understand one thing - why did these people choose to take lives of their spouses instead of just divorcing them? Is murder less condemnable a crime than being divorced? Or does love turn you so blind that the life of the person you love becomes less important than your love for him or her?
Wednesday, March 19, 2008
You are hear - on a board giving directions inside Salar Jung museum
Credit card mission not working - on a placard in the bookshop at ISB
Way to face/hand reeding - on a board in Shilparamam
And this one was written on almost all the walls in Hyderabad - Genious Men's PG
Alongside Genious Men's PG were Happy Home Women's PG ads at most of the places. So men are expected to be genius and women are expected to make happy homes?
Monday, March 17, 2008
Next - Shilparamam.
Tuesday, March 11, 2008
I kept annoying them by asking how they managed to be together for so long without getting bored of each other :)
Sunday, March 9, 2008
This small bit of information was given by Ayaan Ali Khan during a spirited performance given by him along with brother Amaan Ali Khan on the last day of February at Chowdiah Memorial Hall, Bangalore. It was a Hindustani classical concert with a pinch of fusion music. Apart from the usual ensemble of tabla, mridang & taanpura the other instruments in their band included keyboard and percussion pads. The brothers also rendered some vocals - a piece by Ameer Khusro and then one from their album Reincarnation.
Unfortunately the event lasted only an hour and a half. I wouldn't call them maestros yet, but Amaan and Ayaan performed extremely well and left us all asking for more...
Thursday, February 28, 2008
Anyway, first it was Rohit & Rajesh from Fever 104 who called me on Monday to participate in their show Back to School (the one where they ask questions from 1st std to 10th std and if you pass 10th std you get some prize money). And not surprisingly, I failed in 1st std :). Now, why does it happen that you seem to know all the answers when they ask questions to others, and when your own turn comes you go 'a country whose flag is not rectangular? Err ummmm .. is this really a 1st std question?'. Today it was Vasanthi from Radio City who called me for the show Bollywood Genius. To be honest, I had very little idea about the rules of this one. While on air she asked me the Bollywood song whose English lyrics would translate to You keep sitting in front of me. And as expected, I went 'Err ummm .. I have no idea'.
But both the times it was fun to be on air (of course, winning would have been more fun ;) ). And to add to the coincidence - when I told them that I was from Ranchi (during those little chit-chats RJs have with participants, off air), both Rohit & Vasanthi told me that they, too, have spent some years in Ranchi.
It sure has been a week of coincidences for me!
Sunday, February 24, 2008
Overall, a very enjoyable & unique experience. I am already looking forward to the next year's event and am planning to stay the whole night too.
Thursday, February 21, 2008
The AartiWomen at work
View from the balcony