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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 **