Monday, August 30, 2010

Here and There

It seems like one day we are shouting 'Drought! Drought!' and the next day, we are shouting 'Flood! Flood!'
Something doesn't seem right in governance.

I was in a meeting the other day when the Quality Analyst was expressing her concern to some of the project managers about their respective projects' CMM levels (check the random rant section under this post).
I couldn't help feeling that it is indeed a sad life to lead in your mid-30s if you are to be beaten about the bush on things like CMM and Six Sigma.

I have heard so many stories of people cribbing about their jobs (me included) despite hefty pay packets that it came as a surprise one day to me to see the security guard (who is paid less than 10,000 per month) starting off his 12-hour shift at 6 pm by bowing to the floor and entering the building.
The dedication and commitment and respect to his work and his organisation that provides him the bread and butter despite the irritants was commendable and thought-provoking.

When I walk into my office campus in the morning, I hear the birds chirping, I see the mist everywhere and I can't help feeling happy how beautiful the world is.
When I walk back to my house in the evening, I see pollution everywhere, I hear loud blares and I can't help feeling sad how Man has contaminated this beautiful world.

The Weekend That Was

If I had an appointment book like the way doctors have, then my weekend slots would have been booked by Friday noon:

Friday eve: Concert
Friday night: Movie
Saturday morn: H1N1 Vaccination in the office campus and campus visit
Saturday eve: Doctor visit
Saturday night: Movie
Sunday morn: Attend friend's Gruhapravesham function
Sunday noon: Siesta!
Sunday eve: Family get-together

Not that I am complaining. Its always nice to be booked but I would rather prefer to have my weekends free so that I can plan anything I want and execute on-the-fly.

Still, it was a pretty good weekend barring the two bad movies that I saw. The drive to the Gruhapravesham function was nice and scenic. The doctor visit was highly impressive. Played carrom after almost a decade. Played two fast-paced table tennis games.

Sigh. The weekend came in a jiffy and went in a jiffy.

Sunday, August 29, 2010

Nobody is spared

Couple of days back, we had an audit in the office. Not only were we subject to irritating pre-audit checks and made to answer some tough questions but the security guards too had to go through the rigmarole of memorizing the answers to about 50 odd what-if scenarios regarding information security and disaster management and what-not.

It made me realize that there are annoying irritants in every level of occupation. Nobody is spared.

Driving while on cell phone

The other day I was driving alone in car and I had a stiff target (read time) to meet as I was already about half an hour late. So I was driving in quite a bit of speed amidst slow-moving traffic. At times like this, we get caught up in self-centered and egoistic web, and suddenly, before we realize, we are in a race track and all the neighbouring cars and cars coming fast behind us become our competitors and one tends to overcome the other.

It was in one such setting, when I was gaining up on my so-called competitors, I got a call on my cell. I was tempted to ignore it - not because I was a conscientious driver who does not want to drive while on mobile phone but because I did not want to lose my concentration especially when I was on the verge of self-proclaimed victory (road was coming to an end!)! But then, the call was from the office, and I being more of a conscientious worker than a conscientious driver, I picked up the call. Even with the call, I was able to manage my good lead while at the same time ensuring that I was answering the queries on the call.

The thing that fascinated me was the human mind and body. Here I am on a virtual race-track, with shifting gears on left hand, steering the vehicle with my right, pressing on the clutch pedal with my left leg, shifting between brake and accelerator pedals with my right leg, my eyes darting between the road and the main-rear-view mirror and the right-window-rear-view mirror and at the same time, my brain was understanding the questions that I was being asked through my ear, processing the responses and sending the right response to my mouth which was then passed on to the cell phone which was craned between my tilted head and shoulders! Multi-tasking at its very best!

In fact, it was more like I was on auto-pilot and I was concentrating more on the phone. Because, my hands and legs and eyes were working on its own with minimal concentration. It is perhaps because of decades of driving that has gotten so in-built in this body and mind that, even with little relaxation of the mind, the body can handle itself - it knows when to brake automatically, when to change gears, when to accelerate, where to look out for road bumps, etc without really applying the mind and one need not specifically think about all these when driving because it all comes automatically with experience and age.

Agreed, it is not the safest thing to do in the world nor its a matter to boast nor an action to encourage others from doing but the very fact that the human mind and body is capable to handle such a situation in such a manner is just fascinating...

Sunday, August 22, 2010

Higher Studies

If there is one thing that I perhaps repent in life, it is that I did not do my higher studies. I graduated with bachelors and then, I thought, I was done with all the education that I ever wanted. But when my peers, my cousins, my colleagues and my juniors went in for higher studies, it touched a nerve. Perhaps I should have done my Masters too.

Its not that its too late. Its just that I end up weighing too many pros and cons and find that I can manage just as well without any further studies. Of course, another major dilemma is that I have no clue on what I need to do Masters on, even if I wanted too! I don’t want to do Masters on what I am working because I know what its like in this industry now. I feel like doing something different, like being a doctor or something, but then life is too short to be a professional in two totally different occupations. Talk about confused mind!

Its not that I abhor studying; its always fun to learn new things. When I learnt the Katapayadi Sankhya, I was fascinated. But when learning has to be metamorphosed into a permanent storage location within the memory, that’s when it gets me. Why memorise when we have Google now! I feel its too much time and effort to get Masters, starting from the entrance exam (be it GMAT or GRE or CAT) itself. Not to mention money, too.

When it comes to money, education suddenly becomes more of an investment option. The higher you pay to get into a famous institution, the higher the returns because of the campus recruitment. But I have heard of various stories that I have become skeptical. Not all get into high profile jobs. Not all want high profile jobs. Some end up being entrepreneurs. Some end up being philanthropists. Some end up thinking: was this all worth it.

I used to think a while ago that just Bachelors is not good because half the time you do not end up working on what you had actually studied. That’s because I saw many who had done their Masters truly worked on what they had studied in their Masters. But then I came across all this IITians and IIMs and PhDs and found that, it’s the same case everywhere. People who did their PhDs in Electrical Engineering are in the Board of Directors for a software company which has got nothing to do with electricity! People who studied in IIMs are in a dotcom business which has got nothing to do with management!

So, how come a guy, who is strong in Electrical Engineering, get into a totally new domain and excel in it? When I pondered more over this, I realized that the Masters and PhDs are perhaps not just to excel in one particular field and to end up in one particular profession. It is perhaps to open up the mind to encompass the numerous things that Man can actually do and enjoy and excel. It is like the gateway to be an all-rounder.

Or is it? I know this maternal grandfather on my wife’s side who has worked in industries ranging from Chemical to Construction, from Mechanical to Railways, so on and so forth without so much having as a formal education in any one field. So, formal education is then just a tag. It’s the adaptability of the human mind to apply to a situation, coupled of course with a bit of luck, to excel and be confident in any given working environment.

And then I have known people who have done Masters only to end up working exactly the way Bachelors do, perhaps with a bit more dough. That’s really sad. That really is demotivating for higher studies. So, in this case, higher studies is not even an investment option.

Be that as it may, it is very important for highly capable students to get into higher studies which can be used as a spring board to invent new things like, for e.g., this laptop on which I am writing, the wordpad which automatically corrects my grammatical mistakes and this blogger where I can share my thoughts. Invention, white papers, patents and what not. Its all awe-inspiring. One needs people like Randy Pausch to be around you to encourage the thinking mind to wander and conquer without thoughts of education loans and family and future.

I somehow feel I might like to be amidst highly intellectual people talking about heavy-duty stuff such as the applicability of Laplace Transformation to daily life or Chaos Theory although I myself might not be able to make any contribution to such interesting and mind-numbing discussions. I get attracted mentally to people who talk in such a way that it just doesn’t make any sense, and yet, there is deep sense in what they are actually talking. They will be talking in such a way because, for them, it is difficult to come down to the plane where normal human beings converse. This, again, might be because of their exposure to higher studies where, no doubt, they have to work hard on assignments and projects and what-not.

Then again, it might not be. It might just be because of what they are. Its all very confusing. At the end of the day, I am what I am.

Saturday, August 21, 2010

Thursday, August 19, 2010


Malayalis (people who speak Malayalam) are fondly called as Mallus.

Today, there was Onam celebration in our office campus. People were scurrying around preparing Flower Carpet. There was flora and associated fragrance everywhere. The talent on display was outstanding, the colour combination soothing and the team work exemplary. But the thought that came to my mind was the enthusiastic crowd of Mallus. Malayalam, with its resonant tone - somewhat nice to hear - was heard everywhere! There were - simply put - so many Mallus!

It is perhaps because Kerala, at one point (not sure if it is still), had the maximum literacy rate across all states in India. But Kerala being so small a state, had hardly any employment opportunities, and that might be the reason why people migrated from that small state to all parts of the country and thereon to the world to make best use of their education.

No wonder, Mallus are everywhere! But hey, I ain't the first to say it. In fact, Mallus themselves say so.

Wednesday, August 18, 2010

Thought for the day

If bills, stickers, posters are banned, India will be a significantly cleaner country...

Monday, August 16, 2010

Why diseases?

"In the olden days, Man used to hunt for food. There was physical exhaustion but mind was at ease. Nowadays, there is mental stress but physical inactivity. The body is not used to this shift in the balance. Hence the diseases. Reduce the mental stress, increase the physical activity and that will in turn reduce the diseases."

~As told to me by a doctor.

Wednesday, August 11, 2010

Thought for the day

It is easier to fix issues than foresee issues.

Tuesday, August 10, 2010


There is a movement going around Bangalore to boycott autorickshaws on August 12th. Serves them right, if you ask me. I, for one, hate autorickshaws for two reasons: the exorbitant rates they charge and for not agreeing to ply to the required destination. For these two reasons, I prefer to walk even up to 3 km distance instead of begging autorickshaw-wallahs. It is but very rare that you find a rickshaw driver who will agree to the place you want to go to and also turn the untampered meter on. Majority ply only for fixed exorbitant prices.

I have a number and an email id that I got as a forward (in appendix of this post) which commuters can use in case rickshaw drivers refuse to ply to the given destination but I have not yet tried it myself. Even so, I doubt if any action will be taken against the autorickshaw drivers.

There was this one incident where I had to go to Majestic and I had to go in an auto because of many reasons that I won’t bother writing here. I ended up asking 8 auto-wallahs!! The first one said yes but after I boarded, he quoted an amount which was way more than the meter amount. The next two simply said no. The fourth one quoted higher than what the first guy had quoted! Three more said no and drove away, while I hung there like a beggar. Finally, like Almighty, arrived an auto guy who said yes, did not quote any price and just turned the meter on. Experience has taught me that auto wallahs trick their meters to run faster than they are supposed to, so I suspected this guy of the same. But finally when I reached the destination, the amount was reasonable and around the range that I had expected it to be. Out of gratitude, and for being honest, I gave him extra money as tips. The fare plus the extra money actually came out to be the exact same amount which the first auto guy had originally asked but I didn’t mind. If the first guy too had just charged me the meter fare, I would have tipped him off the same amount he had in his mind originally! The money was never the constraint in the first place, it was always the customer service and honesty and integrity towards one’s duty.

I am not ashamed to say that I myself have had several thoughts to drive an auto whenever I am free, like on weekends. I feel driving an autorickshaw is like a humanitarian’s job. Its like a service to humanity – you are helping people go from one place to another, and you are earning at the same time! What more job satisfaction can one get!

PS: I do not know the intricacies of profit margin and the mileage of autorickshaws and the politics that lies in each jurisdiction of the city amongst auto-wallahs (like in Mumbai). Perhaps these factors (and maybe more) cause difficultly for the auto-wallahs to make their ends meet in the growing inflation and hence make them what they are.

Appendix: Note the vehicle number (KA-XX-YY-ZZZZ) and email the details to Based on the prefix XX (for example KA-01), complaint will be sent to one of the ten RTO offices in Bangalore and
adjacent taluk areas. Alternatively, one can also call these offices at the number given below based on the vehicle number prefix and directly lodge a complaint.

Vehicle Prefix (KA-XX) Bangalore location Phone number

* KA-01 Koramangala 080-25533525
* KA-02 Rajajinagar 080-23324104
* KA-03 Indiranagar 080-25254310
* KA-04 Yeshwantpur 080-23376039
* KA-05 Jayanagar 080-26630989
* KA-41 Gyanabharthi 080-28602833
* KA-50 Yelahanka 080-28561366
* KA-51 Electronic City 080-25735522
* KA-52 NeelaMangala 08234-285598
* KA-53 KR Puram 080-25617951

Once the complaint is received at the corresponding office, a notice is issued to the address of the vehicle's registered owner, requiring him/her to turn up at the RTO office within 7 working days. Every RTO has about 10 IMV's (Inspector of Motor Vehicles) who seize the vehicles which don't report to the RTO. The penalty levied from the auto-waalas is rs.100 under section 200.

The various offences among others for which one can lodge a complaint

* Refusal to come to destination (Any destination!!!)
* Demanding excess fare
* Using rough language
* Cheat the public, for e.g. taking longer routes.
* Faulty Meter

There is also a helpline number - 080-22353785 available Monday - Saturday from 10:00 am - 5:30 pm on which one can call to lodge complaints. Koramangala RTO office received only 5 complaints a month.

What's wrong with the system?

* Lack of Awareness among the Bangalore citizens
* The system is inefficient in data gathering- emails or phone calls cannot be stored and processed properly, leading to ineffective use of these complaint data.
* Converting these complaints into notices issued to vehicle owners is still a manual process
* Limited government officials to handle