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Saturday, December 22, 2007

Finally over ... First Semester!!!

Feels like yesterday that I was lugging my bag across the Po Lam station ... and I

... am now four months old in HK
... am 20 credits into the course (that's almost half way there - will be there in a month)
... got to know so so many people
... went to so many parties (atleast one every week on average - probably more)
... wrote so many exams and did well in it (Happy about doing well only for grades being part of the criteria for exchange preference decisions)
... logged so many hours in the library (most of it dozing on my laptop)
... read so many text-books (cover to cover - need to catch up on my casual reading - enough of excuses)
... argued (healthy discussions) with so many people over things that seem so trivial now (I'd like to remember this in the next argument that takes place)
... went up and down the weighing scale like I always do. I should now almost be back to where it all started ;-)
... went through a few competitions (Case for one - that took so so much time .. but it was all worth it in the end)
... am now looking forward to the two weeks in exotic Thailand. Need to plan my trip now before it gets too late.
... learnt the number of readable words you can stuff into an A4 size cheat sheet really has not limit

Tuesday, December 11, 2007

Efficiency concerns!!!

That's my biggest worry these days. No, I'm not talking about China and how energy in-efficient it is (although thanks to Mr. Nair - I've been reading up a lot about it). I'm referring to my own inefficiency. I'm not talking about taking a break to blog once in a way. I'm talking about my checking of gmail 100 times a day when I get less than 20 (probably less than 4-5 useful) mails in a day, orkutting a handful of times, Facebook for a couple of hours every day, Linkedin (what can change in a day - I've no idea) and of course how can I forget checking Cricket scores.

I've decided that I won't be checking my mail (or any of the other ssstttuupiddddddd sites from now on (more than once a day - mail) till the end of exams and if it works maybe for a long time to come. So in case you want to get in touch with me, call me directly. :-) Let's see if I stick to this for even a day.

Update: Didn't exactly work out that way yesterday. But I think I'm getting better at this and will continue to make an effort towards it.

Thursday, December 06, 2007

Carbon Emissions - Your contribution!!!

Nice initiative by a reporter in Hong Kong to reduce the carbon emissions in Hong Kong. Really it's so simple to contribute to helping save the world. Might be a little risky to try what he did. But atleast if you are the driver with your car engine running in one of these traffic signals, shut it off.

I'll do my bit from now on. Off to shut off the light in the room (use some natural light for a change). Hope you do too.

Friday, November 16, 2007

New Products / Ideas that need funding!!!

What you get? Your product/idea promoted at two of the most prestigious Business Plan competitions in front of 100s of Venture capitalists by some of the best business grads in Asia along with possible funding of nearly 200K from the Rice University and 20K+ from CMU.

What we get? A partnership (percentages to be worked out mutually) in the company that gets formed to take your product to market and an opportunity to present your product in the two business plan competitions along with extensive product knowledge.

Deadlines: Respond before Nov 30th, 2007 (Ideas would be processed as they come in and we are also looking at a few ideas from within the university - so the early your idea reaches us, the better your prospects)

Details of the business plan competitions:



Take a look at the prizes on offer. Most of those would go into your product. Mail me your contact details along with a 2 page summary of your product, what stage it is in, in terms of development, patenting, and commercialization.

Contact Details: arhebbar (at) gmail.com or randhir (at) ust.hk

Rice / CMU Business Plan competitions

I'm all excited now. Team Greenbucks finally made its decision - to some extent driven by the bucks but just the option to go to one or both of the two most prestigious of Business Plan competitions is something we just could not afford to pass.

The USF competition was also pretty attractive with the option of going to the one state I hadn't visited in US being a pretty good alternative. But the grand prize of 100K USD at Rice was way too good to pass. I know this involves a lot more competition than USF - but then one thing the three months here has taught me is that the human spirit just longs for challenges. Throw it a challenge and believe in it and you'll make it or at least get really really close. We'll give it our best shot and the one fear I had that my team was not as committed to BP was washed away today with the belief I saw in going for Rice and really the effort we all put in during the internal case competition.

Before you guys start going ga'ga over the 100K figure, that's just money to help build the product growth. We probably won't get even a penny out of it. :-) Rice has a lot of small prizes like 3-4K USD. I don't think any product can be promoted with just that kind of money. So winning 5th or 7th prize might be better than winning first prize here.

Last night was crazy. Suddenly my team members start talking about Case Competitions and how they'd be the better option with chances of success being better and everything. Had a tough time convincing them. Finally decided that it was best to give it some time. Prof Nason finally helped convince my team this afternoon that BP wasn't really that much of an effort since we were all anyway going to take the Business Plan course.

And then the climax with one team member keen on USF and the others keen on RICE/CMU after we'd sent our preference to the Professor. It really should be fine since Rice was the second choice there too.

GOOOOOOO GREENBUCKS!!! Thanks Wolf, Carrie and David for being such wonderful team-mates.

Wednesday, November 07, 2007

Business Plan or Case Competition!!!

That's the big question on my mind. I'd love to go to BP just for the experience side of it ... but I've heard how frustrating it can get if you don't have the right product. The best win-win is finding a product you love and believe in or better still, if its your own product. This serves two benefits, it's your baby. So you work double hard, just to get it recognition and maybe potential exposure to funding. Two, some competitions actually give you a prize award to help grow the product / idea into a viable venture.

Since I don't have a viable idea on my mind right now, anyone of you who does or knows someone who does, do get them in touch with me arhebbar (at) gmail.com so that I have some options when I go into make a choice of product for the Business Plan Competition (now that I have the freedom of making the choice).

Monday, November 05, 2007

N72 - Calendar and To Do Notes!!!

After a good one year of having this phone, figured out to keep the calendar and "To Do" list updated thanks again to my team mate - Wolfgang. Now on, hope to miss fewer deadlines. Atleast won't miss them as long as I'm aware of them.

Before this, I was actually setting up each event on my phone and I only know what an effort it was updating it. If nothing else, this discovery will save me a ton of time for sure.

Sunday, October 28, 2007

Junk Boat Cruise

A great fun evening filled with drinking and dancing all night. Just loved the view from the Boat of the Hong Kong skyline. Was great to meet all the exchange students before some of them started off on their travels around Asia.

Here we have the entire (well almost) Indian gang singing a few Hindi numbers on public demand. Think we did pretty ok and we were the first to start it off. As you can see, a lot of beer was guzzled and the best part of it was with all the dancing in LKF and a near fist fight (I was involved in - but I have no idea what the other guys problem was) after we came back, didn't even have a hint of a hangover. So now I know what to do to avoid a Hangover.

End of the first half of the first semester

Just finished one half of a semester. Still a few assignments to wrap up - but done with my first open book exam. Continuing the celebrations with a Junk Boat cruise, and celebrating Halloween in Ocean Park tonight.

What have I learnt so far?

I'm just not challenging myself enough. There is a lot more that I can do in life and that's been my biggest discovery. I'm not talking about anything specific. But just meeting so many people with so many unique characterstics and going through some real stiff time management challenges teaches you that the life you are leading so far has been so relaxed. In fact relaxing itself is such a pleasure now. We celebrate getting 8 hours of sleep on the trot. Not that I'm sleeping 3-4 hours everyday. If you add up all my power naps, I'm sure I'm sleeping a lot more than 8 hours. :-)

The ELP/RP was a revelation for me because that taught me the different kinds of personalities and also about my own personality. How I need to change it - what are the weak areas? Just that being a chameleon is good. It's changed the way I interact with different people to bring out the best in them.

Marketing - I just didn't know what Marketing was about. This course taught me a few things. But overall a fun class - just all his corny jokes. Discussions about the course with classmates revealed that most people were not too happy about the course since most of his examples were examples from the 80s and 90s. I agree it was. But I guess I didn't have as many expectations from this course as the others.

Statistics exemption was great. Just that I might need to brush upon my stats sometime soon before I start struggling through the other courses.

Economics - The less said about it the better. Until some Chinese prof fixes it sometime soon. I'm going to typecast all Chinese Profs as Bad Teachers. This guy had nothing right. He was boring, talked about some really old standard examples, did not create enough interest in class, did not involve class enough, and so on and so forth. What did he do right? We didn't have an exam. And that was the best part of it.

Accounting - Still going on. Will update once done with the course.

Case Presentation - A light course supposedly in terms of not having an exam. But the effort put in this was probably the greatest. So many long nights, so many practice sessions, a few decent learnings about things to do and things to be avoided in the future and the big one's coming up next week.

Towngas and Climate Change - what can I say? Go back to Bullock Carts and use their dung. That's the suggestion I'm going to give. Actually I'm talking Biogas. Let's see if my group buys it first.

Wednesday, October 24, 2007

My favorite Pasta Recipe

Fast and delicious - A must try for people pressed for time!!!

Ingredients: Campbell Soup - Small Can, Your Favorite Pasta, One Egg - Yolk (optional - For nutrition only ;-) ), Salt and Pepper (To Taste)

Mix ingredients and cook in Microwave or Electric Cooker for about 12 mins. Let the delicious dish cool down and gobble it up!!!

This is my "I'm starving and lazy to go out" backup dish over the past few days. Have to grab a few more campbell soup cans from ParkNShop sometime soon.

Monday, October 22, 2007

Chili - Anitha ... Wish you the very best in life!!!

Congrats to Chili and Anitha. Wish you both a wonderful marriage and a happy married life!!!

Another one goes down - with Avi getting married next month, that leaves me feeling lonely and betrayed!!! Keep me posted on your marital woes guys - so that I can cheer myself up with how lucky I am that I'm still single!!! j/k

Hope to see you in a month's time - Giving you time to wrap up your honeymoon!!! :-)

Just got my weekend trip extended to a week's trip. Missing a few classes and feeling guilty about doing so. But then my only brother is getting married - so well worth ditching a few stupid classes.

Sunday, October 21, 2007

Mini Olympics!!!

Today was a day of fun - almost felt like a school sports day. Well it actually was the MBA School sports day with alumni, exchange, part time, faculty and everyone else vying for the big honors of the champion team. Proud to say that we won and had a lot of fun too!!!

That's me after getting my face painted and hair color sprayed. Thanks Ann and Wei Ling. I look weird and tired.

Well that was after I'd played Volleyball (we were the champions) and Table Tennis (lost in the first round in Singles and came second in the Doubles with Arthi).

We also won the Tug of War event too after scaring our opponents with the Haka Warrior Dance - Thanks to Joseph Lin, the New Zealander in our class. The NZ All Blacks do this traditional dance before every game I believe to intimidate the opposition. I don't know if we succeeded in intimidating the opposition, but we won convnincingly none the less thanks to a great extent to the effort of Big Vas who just put the rope under his under-arm and refused to let go. He's now nursing his bruises and a torn ligament. Wish him a speedy recovery.

And I contributed too ... Volleyball, TT-Doubles and Tug of War. 2 Medals and a towel richer. :-) Considering that I'd to ditch a HKUST Cricket Game to be a part of this, well worth the sacrifice. ;-)

And here we are - the Full Time class of 2009 with the Overall Championship!!!

Sunday, October 14, 2007

Veggie Bonanza

A treat for all the veggie lovers. Had some duck, eel, chicken, and a host of other animals - atleast they were called that and they tasted like the actual animals according to those who had eaten them. :-) Thanks Chris for introducing me to the place. I'm sure going to go back sometime. I loved it!!!

Only I don't know the way, so will probably pull you along the next time as well. :-)

CDC Hotpot!!!

Thanks to Carrie's Dining Club, got a taste of a real Hot Pot. I'd done a Chinese Hot Pot a couple of year's back thanks to my bro's boss who'd hosted one at his home in Atlanta.

Unfortunately didn't learn from my mistake the last time - both me and my bro had taken up the challenge of the Habanero Peppers - supposedly the world's hottest peppers into our hot pot. This time it wasn't the Habaneros. But still some hot peppers that I over did and paid for it. I was dancing to the tunes of the Red Hot Chilli Peppers soon after.

Thursday, October 11, 2007

Networking Cover Letters

Connections are wonderful beautiful and fragile things that need to be cultivated, so make sure you use the proper networking etiquette. Do not use networking cover letters to ask for a job. People with the power to hire new employees take their responsibilities as gate keepers to the company seriously and someone asking for a job using their contacts really turns them off. Instead use the cover letter to ask for a career advice, information on the industry, or just more contacts and this can convince them to become a more welcoming mentor and the job offer might just follow.

Sunday, September 23, 2007

Losing it like crazy!!!


Is this machine really showing my weight or is it one more conked machine that is flattering to deceive? First time in ages, I get to step on a Weighing Scale and it doesn't cross the 75 kgs mark (167 lbs). I've had phases when I'd gone well past 200 lbs. So this is like a stunning turnaround. All thanks to the great Sauna called Hong Kong that I've been cursing for the past month or so.

To lose 8 kgs in a month, without doing anything major to the diet or exercise is really stunning. I know I've visited the Running Track a handful of times and the Gym even fewer times, but I was doing that even when I was in Bangalore. This reminded me of my last few days in Bangalore when I was hogging like crazy and trying to gain weight telling everyone who would listen that it did not matter since I was going on a year long diet program. I definitely didn't know this would turn out to be such an accurate prediction so soon.

Anyway let me not celebrate too soon. GD had predicted that it was natural to lose weight the first few months and then gain them back over the next few months as the body gets adjusted to the Climate. Maybe the winter will push me get back to my original shape. I hope not and I'll surely try my best to ensure this does not happen. In fact now that Nature is willing me on, I should probably put in some effort to actually help out.

For inspiration, I have the Super Fit Hi-Energy "Half-Naked" Jon right across the hall-way. What more can I ask for? If I exercised half as regularly as him, I'd probably be super-fit by the time winter's here. Like I was telling someone the other day, coming to HK has a lot of benefits - here's one more. ;-)

Saturday, September 01, 2007

ELP/RP and the second week in HK

ELP was tagged as the best experience that we will go through over the 16 months at HKUST. Did it live up to it? Not exactly. But it was fun and painful at the same time.

Got a good taste of how hectic the next few months would be with about 10 hours of classes followed by another 6-7 hours of after-class activity preparing case presentations and doing field-studies. But all of this was sure fun - the first case was a big time screw-up. But the good thing was that we as a team got better as the days moved on and we finally ended up winning the last field-study cum presentation.

The last two days of ELP involved a lot of Team-Building activities. The best part of the five days I think was getting to know your own personality types and which of the "Tiger" - Dominant, "Owl" - Conformance personified, "Koala Bear" - Pace/Patience, "Peacock" - Extrovert or "Chameleon" - Mix of above four we represented under a normal circumstances.

I am supposedly a Koala inside characterized by Patience, Easygoing, Steady, Consistent, Helpful, Evenly Paced, Non-Judgmental, Self-Effacing, Expects little from others and Thoughtful of others and that's what majority of my team-mates felt I was with the experience over the first three days of the RP. But when it gets to Priority situations, I am a more of a Tiger and Koala crossed together. :-)

I got to stay in the Regal Airport Hotel (at least on paper) because actually got to spend less than 24 hours in total over the 4 days in the Room. Had my first look at how bad some food options can get since the first day, the Hotel and HKUST staff had forgotten that there were 3 jains and few more vegetarians in our batch. After some of us made a big fuss over the food, the next few days got better and a couple of times, the non-veggies among us were jealous of the number of dishes we vegetarians were getting. We added salt to that by acting like it was the tastiest food we ever had although it tasted yucky as ever.

Some other highlights of the last week -
=> Had coffee in a coffee shop as an experiment to observe the behavior of the Cafe staff.
=> Did some fun stuff at the Experiential Learning Program
=> Got my first assignment in accounting - pretty simple one. But working individually and then as a small group and then in class is the method of learning.
=> Got introduced to the HKUST Cricket Team captain by Rajiv. So will try and go for practice next weekend. Missed today's practice because of a late weekend.
=> Went to the HKUST gym for the first time - not the most hi-tech one. But when compared to the INFY gym, lots of equipment that is free and it is available almost round the clock so can work out at any time of day.
=> Walked around HKUST campus - only negative there was not having a camera on hand. Lost my way a few times in the innumerable lifts several times. :-)
=> Ordered by first Thinkpad - expected to ship around 25th September. Managing with my ages-old Compaq Presario till then
=> Got my first HK SIM (50HKD per month for 1600 mins Monthly plan) - Number to call is +852.6622.3664. Call me whenever.
=> Made a lot of new friends while working. Since I'm not the best at remembering names, I'm going to take a lot of time to actually know everyone's names. But take it 10 at a time and I should be able to do it soon.
=> Met a few alumni during the alumni meet and started the visiting card collection spree.
=> Got the IT Exemption approved after the initial rejection by convincing Chris who in turn spoke to Prof. Jeevan and got it approved
=> Working on getting the Stats exemption. The Prof wants to interview me. Damn what do I remember about stats. Time to revise whatever I know since the Interview is sometime soon. :-(

More updates to come in the coming weeks!!!

Thursday, August 23, 2007

Bangalore to KL to HK

Letter to my folks back home ... gives a gist of my journey to HK !!!


Hello Everyone,

Hegiddhira ellaru!!! Ni Hao? That's how are you in Mandarin. :-) That's as much Chinese (Mandarin) I knew. Deepak has left behind a Learn Chinese through English book - so will probably put in some effort to pick up more over the next few months.

Naanu phonealli helida haage ninne madhyana reachade. Trip was pretty uneventful. Had a Indian Aunty next to me .. going to KL for some conference. Full conference'ge practice nanna jothege madidlu. She went on and on and on ... for ever about her life, her kid, her husband, her challenges at work, what she was going to talk about in the conference and so on and so forth. In summary, she didn't let me sleep at all and finally the last one hour when she had gone to sleep, sleep had run away from me for good. So picked up some book I'd carried along and started reading ... the tons of material that I had got from UST and not opened yet. Ashtottige KL Airport banthu.

Had a minor issue there. Reached KL at 7:00 am (Local Time) and took a walk around the Airport and at one point I saw some small line forming up. Didn't bother seeing what that was about and went on window shopping in the duty free stores. ..... Then around an hour before my flight, I thought I'd better look at which gate my flight is on and found out that small queue and grown into one huge one stretching to almost a
few 100 people was the one for giving further boarding passes. Damn!!! I was stuck in KL for the entire day since the next flight was in the evening. That meant reaching the University at night, no place to sleep (with offices closed, etc). I waited for some time to see if this line moved fast enough. About half an hour before my flight,
thought I'd try something ... went to the counter and asked for the supervisor. Approached him, told him that if I took the evening flight to HK, they'd have to put me up in a hotel since my University office is closed, or give me a Hotel in KL and put me on the next day's flight. He thought it was cheaper to bend the rules a bit and gave me a boarding pass right there. :-) Took my luggage cart and rushed to
the boarding gate and just about made it.

KL to HK was pretty uneventful. One serious looking American Business Executive who I didn't bother striking up a conversation with ... left him to himself and watched some movie (about Basket ball coach and his girl team .. don't know the movie name and don't care to know too).

Reached HK around 1:00 pm (HK Time) .. 10:30 IST. Met a friend Pradeep from College in Immigration area ... no problems there. My friend has his own company in India and he was here for some deployment ... might try and catch up with him over the weekend. Followed the directions I had from Deepak / Prathap to the T. Got on a bus to Po Lam (E22A) that is the closest a bus from the Airport goes to the University I'd heard. This journey got a little irritating at one point because he never followed arrows which pointed towards Po Lam (or in other words he took the longest possible route to Po Lam) and I was about to go to the driver and ask him if
we were going to reach today or tomorrow when he drove into a Bus Terminal. Phew!!! I breathed a sigh of relief. As I was getting off, my cabin bag gave away - couple of screws came off. Might just try and get another Cabin Bag on one of my shopping tours of HK - looks like there are malls everywhere out here and some of these Meat markets really really stink.

Just as I got off the bus and was looking for a Taxi ... I saw a couple of Indians - one of them I recognized as Prathap - an Indian in my batch waiting for another bus to the University. Since I was in no mood for another drive around the city, I suggested we go for a Taxi ... found one and hopped in. Reached Campus in about 10 mins, finished the formalities at the SKCC Hall Office and went in to look for my room.

The room's pretty small - probably 9ft x 6ft ... but good enough with a lot of storage space - one huge cupboard, a big writing desk with a keyboard stand and the works. One negative I learnt a little later is that my Room was not sea-facing, I was wondering if I should ask for another room when I learnt that the sea-facing rooms get pretty cold during winters and when there are thunderstorms. So thought better of it. There's a common Room in every floor (with Microwave and Fridge and a few chairs) which is sea-facing into which I'll probably head whenever I want a view.

About the campus - this whole area is on a hill next to the sea (actually a bay - called the Clear Water Bay - part of the address of the campus). Supposed to have pretty good Sports facilities ... still haven't had time to check them out .. might try and find someone tomorrow to join me in checking out the place. Most of the key offices are on or around what is called the Ground Floor (Don't think that
it's a sea-level) since the sea is much much below that area. Anyway, going to the Main Classrooms and all the offices means a few short walks interspersed with a few Lift rides from one level to another. Still haven't figured it out ... will probably write down the key walks somewhere and take it from there till I get familiar with this system.

I took a quick shower which freshened me up and I was wondering as to how I could get in touch with GD - maybe find a phone somewhere when I saw him looking around in the area below my Room window. Called him up to my room and after catching up with him for a bit on how things have been, hooked up with the other Indians in the batch. ... went and grabbed a Tea (Hong Kong Style Milk Tea with Natural Milk) which was pretty
close to Indian Tea. Might get hooked onto it soon to stay awake late at night, etc. But that's still some time away. Dinner was at one of the stalls where we had a Veggie Dish that two of us shared and still had a lot of curry left. So sharing when eating out or ordering in groups seems to be the way to go ... Student Life alva!!! It still hasn't fully sunk in .. but getting into student mode slowly but surely. :-)

This morning, got my Hong Kong ID done which is like the most important ID card in Hong Kong. Spent all morning jumping from one counter to the next with long bouts of waiting in between and finally got it done around noon. Came back to Campus ... got my Octopus card on the way (Used in all Public Transport like a Pre-Paid Use anywhere
card). I've got most of the cooking stuff (Utensils, Elec Cooker, etc) from GD who's going for an exchange till Jan. So will have some time to get ready with stuff by then. Might try and get most of the stuff (whatever possible within the weight limit in my India Trip).

Finished with the student registration and some work in the MBA office which would allow me to start using the Internet in the room. Bringing my comp was a good idea for sure. Still need to decide on the Laptop though. Tis stupid laptop has suddenly got a problem wit te "H" (No that wasn't intentional :-)) character now apart from the heating. Need to really strike hard to get it to work and a lot of backspaces when typing this mail.

After a marathon cooking effort and some food ordered from one of the restaurants, we had lunch. Group cooking takes a hell of a long time ... So self-cooking will need to start soon or will stick to eating out at the Campus cafetaria.

Got my Bank Card done in the afternoon, short nap followed by HKSM Tea in the evening, went out for Dinner to Town where I met a friend of GD's who works for an Infy client here. ...

Finally got time to complete this mail in the evening and send it to you. Had started writing the mail in the afternoon when I got interrupted by something. Anyway, don't think I can do such lengthy mails once classes start ... so making up while I can. :-)

Stupid me ... that I haven't got my camera. But will try and get some
photos taken by others and send it across. Sudhir - Try and get the
Nikon camera fixed plz!!

Take care and miss you all.

Lots of luv,

Tuesday, August 21, 2007

Shah Rukh ... is that fair?

This is one guy I always hated. Or maybe not ... I loved him after Baazigar and Darr and was one huge fan of him. Every movie that followed moved me away from being part of the SRK Fan club to now when I really hate him. Enjoyed the movie Swades ... but there were quite a few scenes that got spoilt by SRK's over-acting capabilities. The last nail in the coffin is the latest Fairness Cream Ad he features in It shows a lot about him as a person and his thinking abilities is all I can say.

Sunday, August 12, 2007

Puzzles anyone?

This one's surely a little more tricky than the password guesses in movie sequences as the bomb counts down to 0. Tried this puzzle on the Net and thought you might like it as much as I did ... word of caution though. Lots of cheats available on the Net - Try not to google for any of these clues because the results will give away the answer. Let me know how far you make it.

One more of those fun things I got back to doing these past few days - Solving Crossword Puzzles and Playing Sudoku. :-) I really think that come what may, I should take a couple of weeks off every year going forward to do nothing at all. This is bliss.

Gmail and Google shortcuts

Something I discovered today. You might be saying "Oh I've known it for years". This post is not for such smart-asses. You can go back to your other pastime (you know what I'm talking about).

In Gmail, I suddenly realized I had about 27 Unread Mail spread across 10-15 pages - Mails I hadn't bothered to read since I did not have the time and had left it Unread hoping that I'd take a look another day. How am I to find all these mails in one page and see if there was anything important among these mails.
Sidenote: As you might have figured out by now, this is another means of killing time before the Big day (20th August) arrives.
Solution: Enter the following phrase in the Search box "label:Unread label:Inbox"
Unread can be replaced by Read, Starred, UnStarred or All (Default) and Inbox can be replaced by any of your folders.

Tip of the Day: In case you want to search for a word in only one particular website using Google Search give the phrase "site:sitename.com" followed by the search string in Google

Will try and update this post with more such shortcuts as I recollect (I know there are tons of them). So do come back sometime.

Friday, August 10, 2007

Facebook - review!!!

Tried using Facebook over the last couple of days - Lot of useful features like Networking with Alumni of a school, Sharing Photos and Links and Private conversations with friends (better privacy settings than Orkut). The only problem I saw was that it's trying to do too many things and in trying to do so might be failing to excel in most of it. There is no clear definition of whether it is a social networking site (like Orkut) or a business networking site (like LinkedIn). All the fun applications around it tell me that it is more the former. And Google is supposedly bidding for it. Facebook is refusing to be bought over with its Value going up with every new entry into the Facebook User Network.

I'm tired of getting new requests every day from the same set of friends adding me on to their network on a new Networking Site. I'm sure it's the same with most of the folks I'm spamming too. Networking sites are being born at the rate of more than one a day at least and it's about time some of these big ones start acquiring the smaller ones and shut them down for good.

One good idea here might be to start paying people to Network and start putting in ads all over the website. I'd fall for that idea atleast for the next few days when I'm totally jobless (literally and figuratively too).

Google - misusing data???

My orkut fortune for the last few days is
"Happy events will take place shortly in your home"

With my bro's engagement scheduled for the 15th, I'm really beginning to doubt if this is really a co-incidence or is Google peeping into the powerful data access that it has with Google Searches, Orkut, Picasa, Gmail and a host of other websites being owned by them. Am I just getting paranoid here or is there something fishy going on?

Quite a few of these fortunes have been highly accurate lately and I don't think they are using some special astrologer to give customized predictions for all of us. My admission to HKUST, move out of Infosys and my brother finding a girl were pretty accurately predicted by them. It looks like more like a digital robot who's been fed with all of my information to come up with some of these predictions.

Anyway, do we or even Google have an option? With all the M&A and the polarization that's happening, they will probably use every trick in the book to customize their products based on whatever information they have and we will continue using the best products in the market (until at least the scam is exposed).

Monday, August 06, 2007

Ambulances - please make way!!!

One of the most painful sights for me is when Ambulances with those flashing blue lights are stuck in a traffic jam with no where to go, helpless relatives looking as helpless as ever frustrated to the core and looking for some consideration by the people in the traffic.

Once on Residency Road, there was a huge traffic jam in front of Mayo Hall. I and a few others in front of the Ambulance made conscious efforts to get out of the way and finally made some progress by actually getting down from the bike and pushing it aside and not moving into the readily available space in front of us. A jerk in a Silver Santro had the audacity to cut right across the Ambulance and drive into the space created as though all of us had put in the effort just to make way for him. He probably was trying to show off to his Girl Friend sitting in the passenger seat telling her that this was his kingdom and the people making way were his subjects. But our prince got exactly what he deserved. A thousand curses / gaalis by onlookers and especially by the relatives of the patient in the ambulance. Some of us were even tempted to pull him out and give him a sound thrashing - but we avoided it so that we don't cause further delays for the patient in the Ambulance. Hope our man/woman made it that day.

Contrast this with the way it works in the US. If you don't stop whatever or wherever you are and make way for the Ambulance, you'll probably be booked and maybe jailed as well. And the best part is people don't make way for fear of getting booked. Most of them do it out of the sheer compassion. And seriously this is one case of treat others as you expect yourself to be treated. Hope the jerk that cut across the Ambulance gets his due. :p

There was this Ambulance driving in the wrong direction on the same Residency Road but slightly further up that Road, closer to St. Josephs School. A Traffic Cop (MAMA) stops the driver of the Ambulance and asks him why he's driving on the wrong side when there was no patient inside. :-) It took a lot of convincing for this dull-headed Policeman to realize that it was an emergency because the Ambulance was going to pick-up a patient and this was probably more of an emergency since the Patient hadn't probably even received any first aid of any sort. He finally relented. Hope the delay didn't take another life.

So please make way for any and all Ambulances even if it means missing a stupid meeting at work by 10 minutes. It might be you or your loved ones in it on another day.

Friday, August 03, 2007

Snehana Preethina

Kudos to the Creative team of the film. They came up with a pretty innovative title. When everything else (scene to scene) was copied from the Hindi Movie "Ishq" starring Ajay Devgan, Aamir Khan, Juhi and Kajol, the choice of name was a pretty bold move away from the original.

Why not name the film "Preethi" or "Prema". Where did Sneha come into the picture or atleast the name of the picture? This left us flummoxed for quite a while and the puzzle was finally resolved just before the interval when we get to know that the title tells us that the whole film is about how the heroes go through this turmoil of needing to make a choice between friendship and love.

That one revelation along with all the comedy scenes that made us cry and all the serious scenes (including the opening scene) that made us laugh all the way out of the movie hall made this movie a "Paisa Vasool". Don't miss an opportunity to watch this laugh riot. Just don't go alone to watch this movie.

Importance of Networking while you don't need it

Days before moving out of Infosys, I suddenly realized how many people I would not be seeing on a day to day basis, in a few weeks time, might not remember their faces, and in a few months time, might not remember their names. After moving to HK, say I got a very good opportunity there and I liked the place a lot, I might not even come back to India for a few more years;

That would effectively meaning losing so many friends (or at least acquaintances who've helped me or who I've helped professionally). So at least to ensure that I don't forget their names, made a list of people I'd interacted with and sent them my contact information and a farewell mail. Didn't want to end up spamming them with Networking requests, etc. But put in a LinkedIn link to my profile, in case I could help them some point in the future. Now the initiative is with the people I mailed to keep in touch.

Coming back to the topic on hand. Trying to build networks is really important and the tools available on the Net like LinkedIn, etc help establish the network and grow it. But how far do you go with it. Do you send it to everyone you know and don't know to help grow your network or just restrict it to the people you know really well and have actually worked with in your professional life. I've decided to take the latter option since I don't think I myself will help (by say recommending) someone I do not know personally or haven't worked with personally. I've seen people with over 5000+ contacts; And is it any surprise that I too am one of his contacts and I don't know a thing about him.

Just used the vast amount of free time on hand to try and expand my network by including people in my contact list. This exercise taught me something new about gmail. Gmail adds people addressed to in mails sent to you to your contact list automatically. e.g. If you send a mail to me along with five of your friends, all five get added to my contact list. This resulted in some invites going out to people I did not know. Luckily for me, they did not accept the invite before I could withdraw it. So my network is mostly people I know and have worked with or studied with .. except of course the 3-4 3000+ contacts people in the list!!!

Chinese Phrase for the Day: ho gohing yingsik nei ** Nice to Meet you **

Tuesday, July 31, 2007

Harry Potter to replace me!!!

Days after I move out of Infosys, looks like they've found it tough going and have sought to replace me with the master wizard - the one and only Harry Potter himself.

Read this for proof.


Tuesday, July 24, 2007

Deathly Hallows

Let me put a disclaimer out first. I am not a big Harry Potter Fan myself. The mania around the time the fifth book got released pulled me into it. Read that one, Book 1 and Book 6 before this and took the easy path out with 2, 3, 4 - Watched the movie before I could get my hands on the book or at least that's what I tell all HP Fans/Friends before they start making fun of me.

About this book, it was enjoyable yet disappointing!!! A bit of a let-down for me!!! Great expectations that were belied. Don't get me wrong. Deathly Hallows was thoroughly readable, yet too predictable - very few plot twists that one has grown to expect from JKR. The death of XXX (Don't want to be a spoiler!!!) when it came was way too sudden.

Also quite a bit of the book (e.g. The trip to xxx, yyy) can just be thrown out of it without impacting anything. If a movie is made, the climax would probably be an hour before the movie ends. The last 100 pages was all about tying all the loose ends and ensuring that there is no scope for another book.

The last paragraph though may lead you to believe that the next HP book could be called "Harry Potter and the Deadly Dudley" now that Dudley too had become a wizard. :-)

Also, parents trying to encourage their children to read it (to improve their english as suggested by Deccan Herald) - Beware!!! You can expect a lot of questions from your Class V kid if you do let him or her read this book. Questions like "What is Snogging?" are bound to arise. I know Rowling had promised a lot of Romance in here. But when all of her previous books were readable by kids and adults alike, this one surely isn't. Wizardry might be something that the kids of today might not be able to duplicate. But this book might motivate them to do some other things HP and Ginny did. ;-)

Tuesday, July 17, 2007

Here I come HKUST

This post is for those still wondering, why would I quit Infy after all these years. :-)

I got an admit from HKUST, Hong Kong University of Science and Technology early June and sometime last week finally ironed out all the details (VISA/Schol/Finance/release date from Infy) and finally resolved the dilemna of "To go or not to go".

The overall first experience of the school has been that they are highly thorough and professional - everything from processing of the app, to the interview scheduling to the post-admit processing. And they gave me a decent schol, ranked in the Top50 per last year's FT Rankings. Can't complain. And the final driving motive to go for the HKUST offer was from the fact that another year in the IT Industry (at least delivery) was beyond me after seeing what my future (Lower to Middle Mgmt in a Services Co.) looked like these past few months. The other option was to go back to Hard-Core coding which for me was a backward step and I wasn't too confident that was what I wanted to do.

The admit from MBS was also tempting - but way too many negatives meant a rejection of the admit - expensive Course Fees (17L INR), the High Cost of Living (4-5L INR over 1.5 years atleast), general feedback about Aus Govt discouraging folks from working there post MBA. All in all seemed like an MBA from there would put me back by atleast a few years financially. And now in hindsight after the Haneef episode, it makes my decision look like a very good one.

I am sure it will be a life-changing experience and all excited about it. Started reading up about China, Chinese, HK and a lot of other things now that nobody dare give me work.

Saturday, June 30, 2007

Congrats guyz!!!

Another one down. Congrats Syed and Wish you and Rasha the very best in life and Thanks for the amazing feast of a dinner!!! :-)

Had a great time catching up with Bharath, Umesh, Sal n Asoo. We should do it again sometime soon guyz!!!

One more feast and one more down on Sunday - you guyz are really making me feel old. Congrats to you too - Thatha and Swapna!!! About time you got married. ;-)

Monday, June 25, 2007

My Library

A small collection of the books in my library (@home) ... hopefully will be a huge collection of the best books some day!!!

Thursday, June 21, 2007

Hooked to K Series!!!

Oooh!!! I'd just about got hooked to the K-Series serials. While my mom cried over Tulsi's pains, I and my brother were thrilled and celebrated every one of Ekalavya's plots with Hi-Fives. He's easily the best Villain I've seen on TV. His wicked laughter, his wild schemes to fool Tulsi and the way he tells her exactly how he's gonna plot her downfall. I just loved it.

But I don't like the new Tulsi though. She's too boring. The story I believe is that Smriti Irani started getting nightmares of Ekalavya and was admitted to a Mental Asylum even in her real life. :) So she had to be replaced and since they couldn't get her to play her real self for too long, they got her to go insane in the serial while they looked for a replacement.

Speaking of replacements, my replacement in the project seems overwhelmed that there is so much to do and so little time. Atleast now that my transition is complete, I get to go home - prompt at five. Feels great!!!

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Tuesday, June 19, 2007

Why the rush?

Why's everyone in such a rush to join the rat race? Most of my friends seem to be in a mad rush to either get committed or get married while some others have already joined the rat race and finished it by falling into the Whirlpool of Marriage with each new victim acting like the Pied Piper for other newer Rats.

Am I making a big blunder by rushing into the MBA, instead of taking some time off and looking to get married?

Nevertheless, I am thrilled about one person who joined the list of committed folks - my dear bro after a good two years of searching for the elusive bride. They make a good pair - my bro and wud-be SIL. Welcome to the family Rashmi.

Monday, June 18, 2007

Farewell E-Mail

Finally the time has come to get out of this project. Was looking for a Farewell Mail on the Net when I found the one below. Tweaked and personalized.

Feel free to copy, paste, and "Save as Draft" for a rainy day - OF RECKONING.


Hi All,

As many of you probably know, today is my last day. But before I leave, I wanted to take this opportunity to let you know what a great and distinct pleasure it has been to type “Today is my last day.”

For nearly as long as I’ve worked, I've been working for G and I’ve always hoped that I might one day get out of here. And now that this dream has become a reality, please know that I could not have reached this goal without your unending lack of support and the never ending meaningless arguments on how you were more superior than I/Us. Words cannot express my gratitude for the words of gratitude you did not express.

I would especially like to thank all of my managers: in an age where miscommunication is all too common, you consistently impressed and inspired me with the sheer magnitude of your misinformation. It takes a strong man to admit his mistake - it takes a stronger man to attribute his mistake to me.

Over the past five years, you have taught me more than I could ever ask for and, in most cases, ever did ask for. I have been fortunate enough to work with some absolutely interchangeable supervisors on a wide variety of seemingly identical projects - an invaluable lesson in overcoming daily tedium in overcoming daily tedium in overcoming daily tedium.

Your demands were high and your patience short, but I take great solace knowing that my work was, as stated on my annual review, "mostly satisfactory." That is the type of praise that sends a man home happy after even a 10 hour day, smiling his way through half a bottle of mostly satisfactory scotch.

And to most of my peers: even though we barely acknowledged each other within these office walls, I hope that in the future, should we pass on the street, you will regard me the same way as I regard you: sans eye contact.

But to those few souls with whom I’ve actually interacted, here are my personalized notes of farewell:

To all the Client Managers: I will always remember my innumberable unsuccesful attempts at convincing you that there is something called an Estimate that needs to be done before you can decide on a Schedule and a Deadline.

To E: I will miss your arrogant responses to each of my mails on issues we faced. Did you really think we cared?

To R: I will definitely miss you since you are the one person from Onsite who managed to bring a word of praise to your mouth, that only got us into putting the phone on mute and rolling on the floor laughing.

To Mr. Bean: You were easily the funniest guy in G. Your pretences at acting knowledgeable only made me become a bigger fan of Dilbert with every passing day under you. But you also win the award for being my "BEST BOSS". Fooling you was sooo sooo easy!!!

And finally, to SPnOthers: You want to go to the Moon. OK, if you insist. But I can't promise to bring you back (safely).

So, in parting, if I could pass on any word of advice to the individual who will soon be filling my position, it would be to cherish this experience like a sponge and soak it up like a good woman, because a job opportunity like this comes along only once in a lifetime.

Meaning: if I had to work here again in this lifetime, I would sooner kill myself.

Very truly yours,


PS: I will be throwing myself a happy hour farewell party at the burnt-out bar in the sub-basement of the bus station. Please do not stop by.

Sunday, June 17, 2007

Congrats dude!!!

I never knew I'd be so happy when I heard these two words - "I'm OK". These golden words came out of my dear brother's mouth last Sunday Evening and were we all thrilled or what. Me for more reasons than one - relieved that he'd finally found his match, reduced levels of tension at home and relieved parents who were more and more worried as each day passed.

And of course, in some time soon, the search will begin for me too. Maybe things might get a little delayed with my plans of an MBA and all that - but then atleast my parents can now approach parents of girls with confidence now. :)

Monday, May 28, 2007

Inflation, Tax and Savings Rate

With a 5+% Inflation Rate and a Tax Rate of 30%, a Savings account earning 5% is really earning you a negative interest rate. One very good reason to keep my USD in the US besides of course the high value of the Rupee, where atleast the Returns will not be taxed while I am not in the US earning any money. The big question though is if the money is safe there!!!

Thursday, May 10, 2007

Another nice plugin

iMacro is another nice to use tool that helps automate tasks on the browser. For now using it as a quick check of all my favorite sites without me having to type in the site names.

For now, it looks like this has a lot of bugs. Once it starts working perfectly, I see a lot more utility of this Mozilla Add-On. How about some automated testing of web based applications? Anything you do in your browser can now be automated.

Testing Scribefire Plugin to Blogs

One click away from posting to my blog from any browser window. Maybe I'll start posting more often from now on. Don't blame me if there is more junk on my blog. Blame Scribefire

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Stocks or Mutual Funds

From my brief three year stint in the Equity Market - MFs win hands down. I've made a lot of money in Stocks - some big gainers were Infosys, I-Flex, SRF and Tata Teleservices (to some extent). But some bigger losers were Gujarat NRE Coke, Arvind Remedies (atleast as a percentage of Investment) and Bongaigaon Refinery. Overall in three years of spending hours buying and selling shares, I'm almost dead even when really the Market has almost trebled. And the only one who's gotten rich from this is the ICICI Company and its Shareholders of which I am also one since I have about 10 shares of ICICI Bank. But unfortunately of the thousands of rupees I might have lost as brokerage to ICICI, I might have ended getting one rupee back.

Am I really that bad at Stocks? The truth is I am. I still don't know how to read a financial statement. Most of my buys are based on gossips in the News Columns spread by experts with vested interests or just gut feel about a company's value based on past history. Some of the shares have been really lucky for me in the sense that my gut feel decisions have worked out.

I had a short stint with the Derivatives Market early last year; but burnt way too much money on one tragic day to continue. I decided that I would learn more about it and come back. Still haven't gotten the time to do so.

So some time late last year, I decided that enough is enough. Stocks are not what I am made for. Mutual Funds is the way to go. Atleast there are some experts managing my money for me. And these experts will do better than this amateur gambler. In the last six months, I've had returns of about 12 percent which translates into 24% per annum. I know the true test is in the long term return on investment. But it is looking good so far.

Another powerful tool that I just started using is the use of SIP (Systemic Investment Plan) where you invest a fixed amount in a Mutual Fund on a recurring basis (Monthly/Semi-Annually/Annually). The best part about this is that the only thing you need to ensure is that the amount is there to be invested and that I do whenever I get my salary by allocating that amount. There is no question of timing the market and this will ensure that your investments grow along with atleast near the average growth of the Market.

And since the Indian markets are booming, hopefully my investments too will. Atleast so far my Mutual Fund Investments are far outperforming the Stocks Investments over the last few months.

HKUST Interview

Interesting experience. Highly professional interview. Quite a lot of information exchanged. End of the Interview - both of us had the Information we went into the Interview to find out about. I had a few more questions - but since I had other sources to the information and I didn't want the questions to be mis-interpreted, I decided to give it a pass.

The minute Chris came on the line, I got an idea of what GD meant when he said Chinese and English don't go together. Had a little difficulty trying to understand him initially. But then as the Interview progressed, I got better at it. And towards the end of the half-hour interview, I was using the communication gap to gain time on some questions.

To quote Pushpa on what I should expect from a HKUST Interview - "The HKUST interview would be unlike the ISB interviews, where people are hell bent on showcasing their ultimate intellectual prowess rather than knowing yours".

It truly was. This was an interview that was all about me, my experiences, my aspirations, my plan after MBA and if I fit into their school. Irrespective of whether I make it through and irrespective of whether I take up the offer if and when I get it, my image of HKUST as a professional B-School has risen.

And this isn't really a bad school. It specializes in Finance and being in the Financial Capital of the Asia-Pacific - HK is a big plus. It has pretty good diversity and it looks like already about 4-5 Indians have enrolled in the program.

You might also want to read the following posts:
Here I come HKUST
BLR to KL to HK
Finally Over First Semester
and other HKUST posts

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You can also follow me on twitter @rhebbar to get frequent updates on this and my other blogs along with hear from me about other things I find interesting as well as provide feedback on this post or my other posts.

Monday, May 07, 2007

Why MBA?

The bad reasons:
-> Peer pressure
-> Don't want to be "just a graduate"
-> Increase marriage market value
-> Increase range of potential prospects :)

The decent reasons:
-> Money, money, money

The good reasons:
-> Entrepreneurial plans
-> Learning the intricacies of management
-> International Exposure
-> Network Building which in turn should help out in Career switches / growth
-> Switch to Consulting / IB?

Why am I going through this now? Need to do some brainstorming before my HKUST Interview on Thursday and come up with some good convincing reasons. :)

Was just thinking ...

The way I've been slogging my a$$ off for the last few weeks, if I'd been working for myself or working for any damn company other than the company I'm working for, I should have been a billionaire by now.

I have only myself to blame for it. Or is it really that bad? I've learnt a lot over the last few months and I could have learnt this much earlier if only I'd come back offshore that much earlier. Now that I've learnt what is there to learn and experimented what I had to experiment, isn't it time to move on?

New Generation and Pizzas!!!

I really don't understand what's with the young kids of today and Pizzas / Burgers / etc. These companies really know how to win over kinds. Every young nephew/niece of mine goes crazy at the mere mention of McD, Burger, Pizza or anything that rhymes with these words. After having eaten that same s#*$ over the last two years, I really don't see what's the big deal. Maybe that's the solution. Make these kids eat it everyday for the next one month.

I suggested this to my cousin the other day. And here's what he said. "Atleast now we have a bargaining / blackmailing tool. If you don't do your home-work, no burger today. If you don't behave yourself, no Pizza for you today. Without McD, we'd be powerless".

Another funny anecdote. Me, my cousin and his kids were at a Pub in Brigade's. My young nephew was begging us to take him to McDonalds. I thought - Man he must be really hungry. We finished our drinks in a hurry and walked over to MacD. I asked the young gun, what do you want to eat? Anything that will get me a Toy. And here I was thinking he was crying of starvation.

Had my niece at home over the weekend. She had to take up an exam on Sunday. Saturday evening and she comes out of the room after studying for like 3-4 hours at a stretch. My Mom says "Dear, shall we order Pizzas for dinner?". The smile that appeared on her face was worth the cost of the Pizzas a thousand times over!!! :)

Sunday, May 06, 2007

Happy Married Life!!!

Things change so quickly and dramatically. Two of my closest friends got married in the last one week. On the one hand, happy for them. On the other, feeling bad that things might change now. They'll move away, get busy with their own married lives and things will surely not be the same anymore.

It's human nature to resist change, isn't it? The subconscious mind is supposed to be a master of this trait - resisting change. Maybe it's just that part of my mind that's playing tricks - feeling bad. The conscious one says "Cherish the good memories and move on. Maybe it's time to make new friends and maybe the void will be filled by that super special one who'll take their place. :)

Saturday, April 28, 2007

Inspiring innovation!!!

There is opportunity to innovate in whatever you are doing. If there is something that you do everyday, it probably needs to be automated - assigned to a Robot or a Computer Program. Atleast some part of it can be automated so that you only need to make a quick decision and then its back to the automaton to take over.

Here are things I am trying to improve at work:
=> Sorting my mails and taking standard actions to certain mails - Have defined rules in my Outlook to automate it and simplify my work
=> Templates to send standard mails to Team and help make the rules defined above (some based on Subject Line) work better. In fact even wrote some VB Script to customize the e-mails sent (like setting today's or the following Friday's date and sending it) with just a couple of button clicks.
=> Excel sheets with calculations put in to avoid having to use the calculator in billing and budgeting. Pivot Tables in Excel Sheets. They Rock!!!
=> Scripts to automate sets of commands to be run on login to Unix Box
=> Storing SQL commands used in the different screens so that testing becomes easier
=> Using iOpus Macros to browse all my favorite webpages and automate web tasks - still lot of scope for improvement.

Looking for ways to innovate everyday. Life's becoming simpler everyday. But at least with some of these things, do I really want it to? Maybe its the joy of doing things that doesn't require any effort from the brain while you can dream away to glory that I don't want to miss. :-)

Thursday, April 19, 2007

Have we lost the pride?

I know enough has been said by anyone who is somebody and everyone who is nobody about the NRN-Anthem saga. Here's my two cents on this.

Just to set the context for the few who haven't heard about this controversy. The president comes visiting to Mysore and twice the National Anthem is played in Instrumental Form instead of being sung while Dr. Abdul Kalam seemed to be the only one actually singing it enthusiastically. Later in a press conference, when asked why the Instrumental version was played, the great Indian Business Leader says

“Indeed we had arranged for five people to sing the anthem. But then we cancelled it as we have foreigners on-board here. They should not be embarrassed while we sing the anthem.”

I was shocked when I heard this and I bet everyone with some good sense would be. How can you feel embarassed by someone singing their own national anthem. What about the Olympics? The National Anthem of all the Medal Winners is played one after the other. What about the F1? The National Anthem of the Winning Team and Driver is played. Which world is our great leader living in?

To think that this man was being projected to be the President of the country? Were we lucky as a nation or what?

Does this require NRN to be arrested? Maybe that's going too far since I'm assuming he didn't mean to actually insult the National Symbol. It's just that being servile to Customers has become a way of life for most IT Leaders. I see the way my Onsite Managers used to behave with the Client. Just the sight of a different skin colour makes you servile by habit. "Customer is always right" being the Mantra these days. But does that have to mean you stop being proud of your country and lose your self-esteem?


Sunday, April 01, 2007

First Official Interview

You know what I'm talking about, don't you. Yeah, the interview where there is no Interviewer or Interviewee. The one that can make or break your life or just provide wholesome entertainment maybe some time in the future when you look back at it. Why official? I'd been through one unofficial one - sometime back. :)

I decided to put it in my blog so that I'll have some humour to come back to. Well. Not really. Maybe some learnings for upcoming Interviewers(ee) once I'm done with this.

We reach the decided place and are about to call the bride's parents to see how much longer they are going to be when I see a cute girl step out with her parents. They too seemed to be looking around as cluelessly as us. So sort of figured out they were the ones and approached them. After a few minutes of Introductions, the parents got down to the usual linking each other by links as far as they could go. Some links traced included school, college and work connections. Just as I was about to doze off, my mom said - you guys must be getting bored. Why don't you go to a different table and talk to each other? Oh!! No. I was really enjoying this. :-)

Me and N move to a different table in the corner (Bad choice as it turned out later). First couple of minutes of stunning silence. Then a few stupid attempts at conversation later, we did get to know each other a bit. Unfortunately, it turns out N hadn't yet recovered from her last broken engagement. She was going on and on about why it was the worst phase of her life and here I was consoling or atleast trying to console her. I was praying that she wouldn't burst into tears and make everyone think that I'd made her cry.

At one point, I told her about why she needed to take more time off, get over this crisis and then restart her search for her life-partner. Here I was acting like an Agony-Uncle to a potential life-partner. Anyway, even if she was a potential, the timing just wasn't right. The reasoning given by my parents to convince me to see the girl was that neither were they in a hurry to get married nor were we (since my bro was still looking). So if we liked each other, it would have been perfect. But as I'd repeatedly suggested to my parents, no-one and I repeat no-one can get over a broken engagement or marriage in a month and be ready to get engaged to another person.

Anyway back to where I left off, N and I were talking about our likes and dis-likes and interests and how we spend our time when an old man next to our table started blowing cigarette smoke in the general direction of our table or maybe it was just the wrong corner we chose. This brought our conversation to an abrupt end. We looked at each other. I said let's move to another table, got up looked around to see if there was another clean empty table, found none. The only other option was to walk back to the table where our parents were and wrapped it up.

My personal opinion was that we could have let it hang as it is and take it up whenever she was ready for this. But as it appears, things didn't work out (why it didn't is interesting material for another post).

Saturday, March 31, 2007

Cricket WC - India's Exit!!!

The biggest favor that our Indian Cricketers could do to the country. Ensuring that they took the shortest path back home. Billions of Man-Hours that would have been wasted in watching and discussing Cricket saved. Surely we don't need these jerks to feel good about ourselves as a nation. Hope a few more of the millions who idolize these Cricket Stars have learnt their lesson. Hope some of these companies have learnt a lesson that playing with emotions of people doesn't always work.

"Oooh Aaah India. Aaya India". Looks like the shouts from the Blue Billion got so loud that our stars decide to listen to the voice of the people and come back to India. :)

As for me, I keep learning my lessons and unlearning them the next time the BCCI (Not Indian) Cricket Team does well. As always, I've vowed never to waste more than a few minutes a day watching any cricket (maybe on the news or just the closing moments of a match. Let's see how long I can keep up the promise I made to myself. I did not watch any part of some supposedly interesting games of the WC like the Aus-SA game. So far so good!!!

Bride or Groom!!! Who first?

This is the biggest question at home after we go out to see a bride for my bro. Do we contact them or do we wait for them to contact us to see if they are interested in pursuing the alliance?

We've had people tell us that it has to be the bride or it has to be the groom side. We've also heard people say, whoever's more desperate will initiate contact. :-)

From experience, we've had lots of bride's parents contacting us directly or indirectly (through the middleman/woman). We've also had many parents not contacting us at all and in our case (since we weren't desperate ;)), not contacting the bride's side and the alliances dying a slow death. Maybe some of these would have worked out if we'd actually picked up a phone and used it instead of going on with the guessing game.

Sunday, February 25, 2007

Weekend's over even before its begun!!!

This really sux!!! It's already 1pm on a Sunday and the weekend hasn't even begun for me. Goddamm the sicko's who called for a Bundh last Monday. Where are they now, I wonder? And what exactly was achieved with that Bundh other than probably a loss of revenue to million's of daily wage laborers and businessmen across the state? And of course their getting to appear on TV as heroes fighting for Karnataka.

Monday, February 19, 2007

You tell me!!!

A college student needed a small two-hour course to fill his schedule and the only one available was Wildlife Zoology. So he joined in and after one week of study, a test was held. The professor passed out a sheets of small paper where in each square was a carefully drawn picture of a bird's legs. No bodies, no feet, just legs. The test asked each student to identify the birds from their legs. Our student sat and stared at the test getting angrier every minute.

Finally he stomped up to the front of the classroom and threw the test on the teacher's desk. "This is the worst test I have ever written." The teacher looked up and said: "Young man, you have not filled in anything and you definitely have failed the test. Tell me, what's your name?"

The student pulled up his pant to the knee showing his legs and said, "You tell me!!!"

Sunday, February 18, 2007

As expected ... ISB says No!!!

An analysis of what might have gone wrong is due!!! Being in the IT Male crowd with 4-5 years of experience did some damage. But then ISB does have a decent sized IT Male population. App'ing in the second round did some more damage. But then I know a few IT folks who got in. Not being too expressive in the interview of why I wanted to do an MBA was the clincher is my guess.

Anyway, will approach ISB for a feedback and maybe think of re-applying next year if I think I believe in their analysis of my app. But as of now, its back to the app'ing table.

Monday, January 29, 2007

How to get anyone to say "Yes" in 8 minutes or less?

This amazing book has taught me a lot of things. Here are some of my learnings:

=> Once you are in possession of an item or have used it, its value goes up automatically. That's why lots of Tele-Brands offer Money-Back Guarantees, Car Manufacturers offer Test-Drives, Magazines offer free trial Subscriptions, etc.

=> People make decisions on how the question or proposition is framed to them. (Positive/Negative)

=> Too many choices confuse people. Ideal is around 2-3 so even if there are more options help customer by shortlisting 2-3 and help make the decision.

=> Your appeal in advertising or sales should be to the greater cause not just the benefit of the client - the greater cause could be family, society, country, God. This helps clinch deals much more easily. People want to believe that what they do is not for themselves but for their loved ones.

=> Once people take a public stand on something, it is very difficult to change their minds. So delay people from saying "No" to your proposal because of knee-jerk reactions.

Monday, January 22, 2007

If it hurts ... don't do that !!!

Guy walks into a doctor's office, raises his arm, points to his shoulder, and says, "Doc, it hurts when I do that."

Doctor looks at him and says, "Then don't do that."

That's the most solid piece of advice I've heard. Think it solves 90% of the pain an average human goes through.

If it hurts to think about a loved one who's no longer with you, don't think about him/her. If it hurts to walk, take rest for a few days along with other medication (if required). If it hurts to talk (mouth ulcer), sit quietly till it stops hurting -maybe read a book or something.

Monday, January 15, 2007

The Monk ... Ferrari

This is about a recent book I read ("The Monk who sold his Ferrari"). I think it is highly relevant to most people in the industrialized world. This is the story of an ace criminal lawyer who re-discovers himself and the joy of living after a near-fatal heart attack forces him to change his priorities in life. These are some of the things the lawyer turned Monk suggests we do to improve the quality of our life.

* No event is +ve or -ve. Simply experience them, celebrate them, and learn from them
* The secret of happiness is to find out what you love to do and direct all your energy towards it
* Daily set aside 10 mins to think about how to improve ur next day
* Daily 10 mins of solitude and silence and meditation
* Include a physical activity / exercise in your every day life
* Vegetarianism and Non-Alcoholism :-)
* Wake up before Sunrise and see the sun rise
* Read for atleast 30 mins a day
* Spend some time listening to music every day
* Opposition thinking - Do not let any -ve thought enter your mind. Replace any -ve by a +ve thought immediately
* Fatigue is a creation of the mind
* Push yourself beyond the limits - all limits are human created ones
* Add timelines to all goals
* Commit goals to paper and follow for 21 days without a break. And it becomes a habit. (Another book I read recently said that the neurons in the human brain get created in 5 days according to modern research)
* To get quality sleep, listen to soft music before sleeping and 10 mins of meditation

Let me know if you find this post useful to you.

Wednesday, January 10, 2007

ISB Interview

Here's my interview experience. Arrived at the center at 5:00 for a 6:40 interview. Was atleast an hour early. But my interview started around 6:00. So wasn't that early too.

My pre-evaluation essay was on India's Exim Policy. Didn't do a very good job at it I thought. But 50 words is probably like 3-4 sentences. I guess I didn't know enough to write about the EXIM policy. :-(

Time In: 6:00
Time Out: 6:25
Panel 3 - Not sure of the names
Date - Jan 6th
Venue - Bangalore

P1: So you got offers from 5 IIMs in 2004 and didn't go for it. Why?

Talked about my research at the time and the fact that I felt 4-5 years of experience and actually performing a managerial role would help better appreciate an MBA program.

P1: Some more talk about it. The panel liked the fact that I'd consulted a lot of IIM students and alumni but didn't seem fully convinced.

Further clarified and I felt and he was finally convinced about my reasoning.

P1: So you read a lot. What kind of books do you read?

Talked about the range of books I've read. Spoke about some books that made a significant impact on my life.

P1: So what was your biggest achievement at work.

Spoke about a recent success at work in Project Management that made a difference. Not sure if it was the biggest achievement. But surely made a decent impact.

P1: With respect to your peers, how do you rate yourself.
Obviously I am the best ;-) - Got more questions on this. Not sure if I was convincing enough. P1 seemed like an Infy Alumni or had interviewed a Infy guy recently since he knew about some Infy specific terms like CRR, MVP, On the Spot Award, etc

P2: What does your team think of you? Two positives and two -ves.

Spoke about two positives. Could come up with only one -ve. Actually if I knew it was a -ve, I would have corrected it by now, wouldn't I. Also I could have given a lot of -ves of standard managers that I had in mind. But I wasn't sure my team thought that way about me.

Some more questions and cross-questions.

Finally the panel asked me if I had any questions.

I asked about the enterpreneurial support that ISB provides. Got a good response from them

Then asked about research done at ISB. Guess this was where I might have thrown it all away. P1 seemed to think that I'd not done enough research about ISB. :-( I tried to convince him with a response. Don't think I was convincing enough.

Fingers crossed - But not too hopeful looking at the way it ended and some screwups in between. Actually missed out saying so many things that I planned to say. All in all - looks like a disaster.

All the while P1 was talking and P2 was looking at me closely. Guess he was studying body language to see if I was lying anywhere, etc.

A nice experience with a lot of learnings:
-> If you don't like the ISB topic or don't know much about it, atleast try for a new topic. You might just get lucky.
-> Make a list of points that you want to make and ensure you bring it up as relevant. I ended up with the feeling that I had so many things to say that I couldn't.
-> Make a list of open-ended questions (atleast 2-3) and ensure that it is not something that can be answered easily by going to the ISB website or something.