Saturday, December 10, 2011

Gujjus DeClassified!

Caution: This post consist of sensitive information about a certain community of people most of whom occupy the western side of the country called India and in the most developed country of the world. However, if you are part of this community and your jaggery mixed blood boils, on reading criticism about your community, then the sugar in your jaggery filled blood will break-down to glucose. So cheers to your good health! 

Being spent all my childhood in Gujarat, when you go out you feel most gujjus are stereotyped in most cases. So to ensure stereotyping is being done correctly, I have mentioned some of the famous and not-so famous stereotypes here!

Jack-Ass Gujju
Shimmering shirt with an equal shimmering trousers / jeans to match, gelled hair, a gold chain and multiple phones with multiple sim-cards. He is the Gujju Casanova who does not mind an occasional drink of scotch. The selection of scotch is only for display purposes. Personally he wouldn't mind the taste of cheapest alcohol available in the market. As he is the Casanova, he is bound to be surrounded by some of the smartest gujju girls around. (more on gujju girls sometime later.) For the Casanovas, every situation in life would be a larger than life scenario keeping the surrounding gujju gals wide-eyed.

Bhakt Gujju
Strictly follows religion, does not eat meat, if highly conservative type then would not eat garlic, etc. Take them to a non-veg restaurant and you would enjoy the animated discussion they have with waiter as they will be sorting out which food item they can eat. At the end of it our friend will have something that will go with Paneer.

Dhaiyo Gujju
He is a variant slight variant of Conservative Gujju. This person does all the above activities, but prods him on a bit with chicken and a small drink, he will give in. But  beef and mutton remain in the Restricted category. A strict no-no. Taking him to a restaurant is like challenging your persuasion skills. You know he deep inside he yearns for the meat. Yet when asked the answer always stays no. Make him say yes and you won't need to read You can sell which is as fruitless as Bhajji trying to spin the ball.

Kalakkaar Gujju
"Jevo desh evo vesh" is their motto in life. (it translates to "When in Rome, do as Romans do.") They are the meat-eating Gujjus seen outside Gujarat. Within the border of Gujarat they will hold the lofty values of conservative gujju aloft but take them out of Gujarat and they turn back on those same values. We should never be harsh on these poor creatures. For them, their conscience bites when they have meat or alcohol. To soothe their bruised conscience, they placate themselves with this motto.

Kanjoos Gujju
They are the smartest people on earth and sometimes not so too. They have complex algorithm wired or hard-coded in their brain that does a cost-benefit analysis for any situation within a fraction of seconds. Although the return on your investments for this fraction of seconds might be a rupee or two, but it still its worth. Moreover, the result from this analysis is worth in gold. They can give the McKinseys, KPMGs and  Deloittes  a run for their money with their insights and analysis.

Jalebi Gujju
They are the gujju who love their fafdas jalebis, khakhras, khamans the best. You will always find them eating something. In Gujarat's dry climate you could see them sweat out oil from their chubby skin pores. But this is not their specialty. Their specialty is their confidence in knowing everything. Ask them the most difficult questions that humankind faces and they will come with prompt answers which probably only Google can beat. The flip-side is that most of the times they are incorrect. For visitors in Gujarat this is a bit disconcerting flip-side as the most reliable answer they thought they got would be the most off the mark.

Jalsa Gujju
Joi de vivre is their motto. They never say no to the sins of the world. They live to enjoy but they never take off the eye of the ball called life. However, occasionally they do take their eye off and they fall with a thud which is more comical than tragic. They first try to hide and then try to shrug it off but seeing its futility they laugh it off making it a memory. Caution need to be exercised as in company of them, you may also fall off but might not be able to laugh it off.

You may see a combination of these characters in various gujjus around you. Do not get surprised. Like the Gujju Thali in marriages, which has the aalu floating with the chunda, the gujjus also come in various flavors of the above characteristics. Do enlighten with the other stereotypes that I have missed out and leaving with a hot cutting chai that every gujju loves to serve and drink!

PS: Here the term Gujju does not apply only whose mother tongue is Gujarati. It also includes the vast majority who has been brought up in Gujarat including self.

Wednesday, November 30, 2011

[Politics] FDI in Multi-brand Retail

Last few days, Government has been trying to pass a bill which raises the FDI limit in  multi-brand retail chains to 49%. However, as usual Left has opposed which comes as no surprise. What really surprises me is the opposition by BJP as they are considered to to be the progressive right wing as far as politics of economics goes. Either ways some of the direct and indirect benefits of raising the limit is given below:

  • Inflation in India is mainly a supply-side issue. The rising disposable income of middle-class is demanding more with minimal increase in efficiency from the supply-side. Government in its bill is asking the foreign retailer to invest 50% in the back-end process. Improving the efficiency will improve the farm productivity and thus increase supply reducing the inflationary pressure. The cost of important food items will reduce in the long run. This is what BJP, CPM and "common man" actually want.
  • Any new retail-chain creates multitude of job-opportunities at the front-end. This is clearly evident in the number of malls that we have. Even in IT/ITES services, the housekeeping and security gives a good chunk of population a regular monthly income. Additionally, the setting up of back-end infrastructure, supply chain logistics will create another set of jobs.
  • Currently there is no provision of cold-storage which causes around 40% of the supplies to rot. With superior technology and prior experience of foreign retail chains, this loss will be minimized. As they are partnering with Indian firms, this technology know-how will be transferred to Indian firms too.
  • To us consumers, apart from the cheaper food items, we will get to have more choices and thus improve our standard of living.
  • Big organizations can set up deals directly with farmers thus giving the farmers better deal. Additionally, big organizations will provide latest technologies and best practices which will ensure more yield per area  of irrigation. The best example here is Amul which leverages farm produce across Gujarat and thus help give the cattle-owners good deal.


  • The major chunk of people losing out here will be the small kirana stores and the middle-men. However, as with other industries, the smartest of them will find ways to survive under changing business scenario.
  • The second argument is building up the cold storage and infrastructure is government  business. Do we really need another 2G proportional scam where tax payers as usual are looted of their money or better invite private sector which already has the tech know-how and experience in implementing it?
  • Another argument is the Wal-mart and Tesco taking over the entire supply-chain. Well, if the bill is debated in the parliament, I do not see a way, by which government cannot impose certain curbs to prevent taking over of entire supply chain.
So at the most, the loss will be limited only to the kirana store owners and middle-men. So not sure, what the opposition is opposing here. Are they opposing the welfare of the citizens over selected kirana store owners and middle-men?

PS: I have given a bit simplistic view here. Getting hard core numbers would have resulted in similar conclusion. However, in interest of sleep and a bout of laziness has prevented me from doing so. 

P.PS: Extensive analysis available here

Wednesday, November 2, 2011

[Online Marketing] Twitter Tips from User Perpective

With every other organization jumping on the twitter band-wagon, it becomes intimidating for an organization to join on twitter.  Many of them simply don’t join in as it is a new medium and they want to keep things as is. However, once the competition start leveraging the power of twitter, the reality dawns and then it is just too late. So given here are few of tips that can help in reducing some of the initial jitters:

  1. Twitter is a medium of communication. That is the most important concept that needs to be understood for any organization. Whatever the organization tweets, it becomes a press statement. As just as for any other medium of communication (digital, print, etc), you need to ensure the communication remains consistent with your values and mission.
  2. The initial set of users is the set with whom you are very closely associated with. You need to nurture them as they become your voice moving forward and they become the cause for the newer set of users.
  3. The depth of all relationships depends on the extent of mutual respect. Honestly appreciate your suppliers or customers on any improvement in process or any implementation of good strategy. Even a slightly better product from them should not go unappreciated.
  4. It is a communication medium. So you need to engage your followers. Some of the organizations that I have observed tend to only promote their brand and only post promotional news. This turns off your followers. Occasional branding is fine though. Your users are reading your tweets in their timeline. That is a sacred space. They want something useful for them in their timeline. It also shows your respect for their timeline. Spamming with tweets is an absolutely no-no. For example, if you are mobile manufacturer having Android as the OS you can post the tips and tricks of using the phone to the users. Users will like these kinds of update and they will do Re-Tweet (RT). The tweet and your brand spread.
  5. @<Your Handle> is the only way users can send their feedback. This is the simplest form of getting feedback about your product / service. Monitor this. A prompt response to the feedback makes the user feel valued and will post more such feedback and thus helping you improve your product / service as per customer needs.
  6. Get the twitter stream mentioning your organization’s name on to your website. This will help your future customers know the kind of chatting happening on the twitter about your organization. You future customers will get a sense of security when they can see what people are saying about you on the net. Do this only if you are managing each of the feedback actively. Also getting this done will require some development effort, although very minimal.
  7. Twitter gives “Follow” button and “Tweet” button. Follow button helps the new customers read about your new posts. If properly managed, this helps in building trust. If you are publishing any insightful articles about your product or the industry in general, the tweet button will help you increase your reach substantially. There are others from Google (g+), Facebook. But none can compare with the reach Twitter has.
  8. Do Re-Tweet the posts where you have been appreciated. These appreciations are more valuable as they come from your customers or industry peers and thus resonate with your current and future customers.
  9. If it is a small organization, you can give your employees the freedom to tweet about you. Good and happy feedback from them shows the culture that you have as an organization. Transparency will be the first and most important quality will be show-cased which will help in building trust. This on the other hand challenges you to listen to both your customer as well as your employees. If taken positively, it can transform your organizational culture and thus increase your brand-value among your customers. However, caution must be exercised as this can act as a double-edged sword and can backfire. Start-ups where people are dedicated for the success of it can implement this strategy easily.
  10. Ensure you have only one twitter handle. People have short memories. They cannot remember different handles for each of your different product line. They want to give feedback and quick. Having a single handle helps them in remembering your twitter and in turn will help you in getting timely feedback. 

To summarize, tweeting is a form of communication with your customers, employees, and stakeholders all at once. So all the principles of communication apply and you need to be sure what you want to communicate to them. If managed well, it can become the most powerful tool to increase your business.
To get more information on twitter please refer the link here. For a detail on twitter words, please refer the twitter glossary

This post was first published here.

Tuesday, November 1, 2011

10 Travelling Tips for a Vacation

Considerable part of my last two years was spent on travelling. All only for pleasure, though lot of them were trips to home. So have gone through the pains which come from being on vacation. Generally, unless going for a bike-rides or long drives, going to a vacation is generally reaching a place and then start enjoying once there.

Of course you will be in the vacation mood even before you start the travel. Yet, the big draw will always be the vacation place. So obviously for most of us travelling, is a bit of a tough part of going to a vacation. Here are some of the tips that made this pain part a bit easier to handle it better:
  1. When travelling together, never go near your iPads, iPods, androids, books, or mobiles. Better stil don’t take them in the first place. These are the things that we wanted to get away from in the first place. Talk, sing, joke, prank with those around you. The laughs that you have are more important than those status updates that go to facebook streams to get those likes. Or when you want to have a moment of your silence for yourself, look out at the wide open spaces, the green nature, the idle bucolic life, that start appearing as you move out away from  the cities. On the other hand, if you are a writer, having a notepad to jot down your thoughts is not a very bad idea.
  2. If you are going for a planned trip, have a buffer time in your itinerary for the travel delays or unintended stops. Sometimes these stops might be just the stops where you spend time to enjoy the nature or want to enjoy an extended lunch. Having these buffer will help you not rush through these moments as sometimes at the end of vacation, these moments might as well turn out to be the best ones.
  3. Travel Light. Except the bare essentials, anything else is a burden. Of course, you want to have a backup for all kinds of emergencies. So research the place and find out things that will be available in case of emergencies. You can skip them if the travel time is less. Moreover, if you are going as a group, you can have one set or maximum of two sets of essentials. Essentials include tooth-pastes, deodorants, shampoos, conditioners, etc. Do ensure each one have their own first-aid medical kit. That is not to be shared.
  4. Things can and most often do happen which is not supposed to happen. It is important to take this with a shrug of a shoulder, a laugh and then move on. Be cautious enough to avoid such kind of situations. But not all situations can be avoided. Face the situation and do not panic. Once you are through with it, you will remember it for all the wrong reasons. So cheer up, you will crack up when remembering these moments later.
  5. Ensure your senses are at a higher level of caution and you are looking out for your things. Living things unattended may ruin your entire vacation. On the other hand, do not be paranoid. You will forget to enjoy the travel if you become paranoid. One way of maintaining this balance, is to have a periodic check of your belongings.
  6. If it is long travel, ensure you start the day with a light breakfast and good amount of water. In case, the night before had a binge drinking session, a strong coffee, with loads of water will lighten up the head along with the breakfast.  
  7. Keep stock of dry fruits, water and fresh fruits for the whole journey. Periodic consumption of these will keep your energy level high throughout the journey and reduce the tiredness at the end of the journey. Avoid chips and burgers. They are water guzzlers, difficult to digest and provide you with little usable energy.
  8. Do have the usual stock of medicines you generally take and some which you know you might need while travelling. For example a bad stomach, a slight fever are the most common travelling ailment you can get due to variety of reasons. So medicines for those are absolutely essential. 
  9. In your plan, do visualize all the things that can go wrong and at least have one solution to tackle the thing that went wrong. This will help you not freeze up when something goes wrong and enable you to take rational decisions.
  10. Last point is suggested in the first paragraph of this post itself. Do not consider vacation as the part that starts after the travel part is over. It starts with the travel. So enjoy the vacation including the travel and have a great vacation!
This post was first published here.

Wednesday, October 26, 2011

[Guest Blog] The Cubicle Mouse

After an old  man and a word, now we have the mouse from the cubicle as the next guest blogger. It has been showing up more than what it used to. So on inquiring about the increased visitations, it said it was sad. As the blog is generally bereft of new posts I gave him the opportunity to write his heart out here! 

Hi There!
I live close to those lonely souls called wires. Poor things communicate daily people's conversation but have themselves no one to talk to except me. So I get to hear the entire official grapevine. I know all the mother-in-law issues, wife issues, the location of night-outs, boyfriend/girlfriend issues,  courtesy these wires. Don't ask me details now. There will be time for details but not in this post. So from this source I got to know about blogging. The author of this post generally likes to post from office and we get the sneak-preview before it gets published. Anyways it never is that interesting, but being privy to information in information age is to be powerful. I wanted to start a blog but guess this blog is anyway unused so I might well use it more often. So that is the background story. 

Now, I like to give my introduction. I am part of the author's team unknown to most team members. I have been there before there was any team in the first place. In the official counting, I am never included as I never fill time-sheets. I don't believe in filling my time for a duty which I consider my birth-right. More on this birth-right will come later in the email. The rest on me you will come to know from my planned series of emails.

Now, I will talk about my smaller friend who died an untimely death in the bin of the person whom I used to hate and left me alone in this world. Yes I still have my wire friends but as the jingle go Har Friend Zaroori Hota Hai. I hated my friend's executioner much before that and from all the overheard conversations the author here also does not like him. He is after all author's manager. This manager flicks all the chocolates, biscuits and whatever eatable before I could even smell it. The dust-like crumbs left after this manager had his fill were the only proofs of the presence of those delicious foods. Yet he was just the person whom I hated before his bin claimed my friend's life. But now he is my enemy and I will extract my revenge in good time and in kind.

Now about birth-right I was talking about. We clean-up the dirt of the society. Very few people of your kind ever understand the importance of this duty. We are what the classifiers call the scavengers.  Without us, those big crumbs will rot and spread diseases. My friend was doing this duty to society. Yet the same society never understands this. But the good part is the satisfaction that he died a death in the line of duty as a martyr. He did not die by running away and getting beaten to death or by getting trapped. He died in the line of duty of eating away the food in the bin. Moreover, before dying he had his share of limelight.

He was spotted first doing his duty in author's bin. Seeing the awe and excitement that came with his sighting, my proud friend's heart swelled and probably must have heard victory drums being played in the background. Under this spell, he bravely and slowly like a man in control with his surroundings, moved from one bin to my enemy's bin with a single graceful leap that would have done any ballad dancer proud. Unfortunately that was the last leap he ever made. For as he was doing his duty, the mouth of the bin closed and he was thrown into Malad creek, never to be seen again.  Please observe a minute of silence to pray for his soul. On this sad note, I take your leave. But I will be back and the next time with some juicy office gossip. Till then Adios!

Yours Friendly,
The Cubicle Mouse

Sunday, October 23, 2011

Obituary: Dennis Ritchie

#include <stdio.h>
#include <conio.h>

void main(){

int i;
int year[10]={1964,1969,1970,1973,1978,1983,1985,1991,2011,0};
printf("\n\n\t\tHello World");

case 1964:
printf("Ancestors of C - Combined Programming Language & BASIC CPL (BCPL) came into being");

case 1969:
printf("First version of Unix came into being not written in C");

case 1970:
printf("The epoch time in all computers to calculate the time was marked");

case 1973:
printf("UNIX completely written in C came into being. It was one of its kind as it was portable just as C");

case 1978:
printf("Ritchie & Brian Kernighan published the book - \" The C programming Language \"");

case 1983:
printf("Ritchie & Thompson receives Turing Award of Association of  Computing Machinery - Dubbed as Nobel prize for computing");

case 1985:
printf("Steve Jobs - Unix Devotee makes Unix as basis for NeXT workstation");

case 1991:
printf("Birth of Open Source - Linus Trovalds created Linux based on Unix & C");

case 2011:
printf("Dennis Ritchie - Father of C Passes away but he leaves his legacy on the millions of Apple, Andriod and Unix devices.");

Learning Software Engineering? -                        Baptism by C"); 
printf("\n\t\tWriting First Program in any language? - Learn to print \"Hello World\"");

Wanted to give tribute in the words he created! It is simply amazing that all the javas, .NET, perl, python, etc share their origins to C. It is something like the first vertebrate within the animal kingdom, if my  biology serves me right.
For all the non-geeks - To understand the post please go to this link which I have used as a reference to get my facts straight.
PS: btw the above code compiles without warning and errors. :)

Tuesday, September 13, 2011

10 Secrets to Appear Busy in Office

Lot of times we get those blocks of time where we do have nothing to do yet boss hovers around like a vulture circling over a prey. In those case we sincerely wish that the boss sees we are working on something. However, we are in one of those blocks and before we know, a mail pops up with a new task and that little block of time is lost. This list is specifically for these situations where you can ensure you are perceived busy for the mutual satisfaction of both you and your boss.

Disclaimer Alert:These tasks are being performed by professionals in wasting time and yet appear busy. However, author is not responsible for any loss of job, loss of pay or any other untoward consequences arising out of following these steps.

  1. Have at least 30 applications open. Have it in a prime number of combinations  such as  5 excel spreadsheets, 7 word documents , 3 powerpoint presentation, 2 other business applications, 13 notepad. Then use Alt + Tab to switch between windows as often as possible. Do claim periodically that your machine (workstation) is slow and hindering your productivity.
  2. Select all mails and "Mark them as Unread" Then go and individually mark them as "Read". If ever asked, just reply - "I am ensuring to be on top of things." Better still keep them unread after the activity. Anyone pouring over the screen and seeing your unread mail list will understand the amount of work your are loaded with.
  3. Open any file which has lots of data and charts in it. If you have two screens, better move the charts to bigger screen. This will not only make you look busy but also get you the intellectual tag.
  4. Book a conference room, sit facing the door and call your own cell from the conference phone. Meanwhile, you can then continue do whatever you want on your machine. Have at least one business application open which will be helpful in case of any uninvited visitors coming to your conference room.
  5. Call a meeting to discuss a new initiative which you know will never be implemented in another 5 years. Let the team brainstorm while you sit back and enjoy the discussion. Do have projectors and decks on to give the formality to the initiative.
  6. Reach office early before anybody can everyday. You don't have to leave late. Coming early itself signifies, that you care for the work and you are going the extra mile by coming in early, while you spend the time gossiping about everything under the sky with your friend.
  7. Ask your friends to call up your cell phone so that you can disconnect it. This signifies your devotion to your work and raises your esteem in the eyes of your bosses. On the contrary never go out and chat on your mobile phone in front of your manager. You are only asking for more work.
  8. Keep formatting and re-formatting different cells in an excel sheet. Nobody pouring over your screen can detect your lack of work. Using of shortcuts will baffle and make the hovering vulture leave quickly.
  9. Put 6-7 cups of coffee in the waste-box near you. Cups will tell all the stress going through your mind because of work. You do not need to drink coffee. The sight of crushed cups will do the trick. 
  10. Even when you are posting a blog during your office hours, ensure every time you press Enter key, the sound reverberates in your manager's cubicle. The sound indicates pressure, frustration and your high fidelity towards work. Most managers are sadists and become happy when they see/hear/feel their directs slog it out even if no work is done. All that matters is manager must know that you are slogging.
Do let out other secrets of being perceived busy in office in the comments. It will help the author here ;)

Wednesday, August 31, 2011

Not an Insane Thought!

There is a thin line separating sanity from insanity, he thought. But the picture of saneness just appeared with two weights called "sane thoughts" and "insane thoughts" suspended by a pulley in his mind. He was on his way home and the train gave a perfect surrounding where he can calmly contemplate on his theory of insanity. Yet he knew, there was more that would drive a person on the paths to insanity. There was circumstance on which  many of the origins of insanity is attributed. However, he somehow could not include circumstances in his "Insanity Model" of saneness suspended by weights. Moreover, circumstances have limitations. Similar circumstances evoke different reactions in different people. So whether circumstances should be there in the model is a question in itself.

Jolted out of his reverie by the halting train, he realized he has reached his destination. He had just enough time to dump his open book into his bag and rush out before train started moving. Later he recalled, the only thing he remembered during this getting down was a smiling grey-haired gentleman with a baggage as big as his.

Once on the platform, a walk of 2 minutes he knew was where his home was and he had ennui for company. So he decided to go back to his thoughts but was interrupted by a hand asking for ticket. It was not in his pockets. His started looking into his bag which had remained open from the time he alighted. Fortunately he remembered his latest bookmark which was his ticket and proceeded to retrieve for it. A glint of metal caught his eye before falling in to his open bag. He jumped for it and before he knew in his hand he had a pistol . 

The metal was cold and it sat heavily in his hand. A feeling of being powerful swept through and he simply pointed the gun at the person who had dropped it. The ticket examiner (T.T.E) a portly fellow terrified, started screaming "Terrorists Terrorists". The gun owner was standing calmly. He now had both ennui and the gun for company. Still he wanted to explain, but the screaming remained unabated. A shot followed. Silence. A single hole in the middle of the forehead with blood trickling out and policemen running towards him was all he could remember. Probably boredom must be added as a factor to his pulley model, he thought sitting in the lonely cell. The only challenge now is how?

PS: Trying my hand at story-writing....hopefully it comes out sane :P

Thursday, July 14, 2011

Stop Abusing Me!! - Fvck

I have here today a guest-blogger who is a bit peeved after release of the movie - Delhi Belly. To give a vent to his frustrations, I have invited him on my blog. So ladies and gentlemen, let me introduce you to this famous guest - "FVCK". The one word which is gaining popularity by the day and is capturing the market share of  the word "GOD". But it seems it is not very happy with it. So now let's hear from the horse's mouth!

Disclaimer Alert! - This blog contains words that are inappropriate for certain audiences. Other set of audience might feel this post as offensive.If you are in either of these highly sensitive category, I advice you to stop reading and go and continue watching facebook videos!

Delhi Belly - Nothing surpasses the pain, that Delhi Belly has given me. Almost every second line in the movie, my prowess was being used, yet I am not happy. You see, I have a job to do. My job is express profanity or to negatively characterize anything that can be dismissed, disdained, defiled or destroyed. There is nothing good in me. Even when used with the most noblest intention, I just cannot be good and I am proud of that. You can compare me with the garbage collectors. Even when they are doing their job, it is a dirty job. Remember the song - sab gandha hai par dhandha hai yeh! That is what I am all about.

Let me give you a bit more background before coming to the main issue. In our nether world of profanities, I am the one perched high up, way above the others. My peers - ass-holes, shit, hell, goddamn, damn although good can never match my versatility. I can be used in multiple situations to express most of the negative expressions. My peers remain in awe of this versatility. 

Now with the release of Delhi Belly, my usage has surged as I am now considered to be part of the pop culture. Although I always feel good about that, but the way it is being used, my standing among my peers has diminished. They are all laughing at me when they hear some of the usage mainly by some teeny-weeny gals and so-called dudes (read duds) who are out there to impress these teeny-weeny gals. Here are some sample usage

  • Fvckingly funny - overheard a gal on mobile after watching Delhi Belly - Don't I just hate Delhi Belly?
  • You know fvck......I was there fvck...I went to fvck movie...I caught cab fvck..Guy-talk they say - But like the pot-holes on the mumbai road, you do not want them, yet you cannot avoid them and by the time you finish a journey, you just want to say to the roads and these guys - Fvck Off!
  • What a fvck!- A gal describing a beautiful natural scenery - nothing related to me!  - Go read Word Power to increase your vocabulary, you dumb creature.
  • Oh fvck oh fvck oh fvck! - again by a gal - this is expressing happiness unfortunately my verb form is not being used! - Happiness and me without my verb form is an oxymoron, you morons! 
Probably I am over-reacting but this is humiliation. I wanted to sue Aamir Khan Productions. However, being a word, I cannot be a litigant and do not have any legal standing. After all how can an abusive word be abused? I need something like Prevention of Abuse of Words (PAW) backed by leading celebrities to take my cause. Meanwhile, you can do your bit by not abusing me and creating awareness on this. However, after reading this, if you exclaim - I don't give a fvck! I will find solace that you did not abuse me there. 

So signing off with a heavy heart - 

Yours Sincerely,

PS: I could not even sign my name with my correct spelling to escape being tagged as spam by the search filters. Sigh! 

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Sunday, June 26, 2011

To the Geeks: Marriage Explained

With couple of friends getting married, some looking out for their better halves and my own family asking for my plans, marriage has become recurring theme of discussion in most conversations. Personally I feel like playing the first session of test match under swinging conditions on each of my visit home. Once that part of discussion is negotiated, rest of the weekends pass without much of a fuss. So realizing the impending need for some of my most geeky friends who would soon establish a new hopefully permanent connection with a server, I have jotted down some important differences between a machine server and a human server.

  1. All your near and far relatives, a consequence of you being born in an Indian family, are the DNS (Domain Name System resolution service) servers. They will look-up your request against a matching IP to find the correct server. However, these servers use a complex algorithm to find the correct match for your innocent request. It depends on certain key-words like engineer, doctor, fair-looking, 6ft tall, working in MNC, IAS, IPS, six figure salary, religious, god-fearing and a simple family. Moreover, your valuations also depend on current trends in technology. If IT is in recession, DNS server tend to return "No match found".  Pray for a boom if you have started looking out.
  2. Once a match is found a complex set of handshakes happen between the server firewalls (parents and relatives of the server) and your DNS servers, your own firewalls which springs to life which till then acted as a harmless software running in the background of your life. If there is a packet loss between these handshakes or a  NACK message was received for any of the handshakes, you will never to get to know what the server was. 
  3. Now the servers are very selective just like you. So servers can and will reject your first incoming connection requests if they feel anything wrong with you. The reasons can be weird like your requests are too short or too long or it is just right. There is no right or wrong requests. Only your match decieds based on your requests. In that event, your DNS servers, double up their resolve to find the correct match and these goes on until a connection is established. It is an infinite loop which breaks only on two conditions.
    1. A connection is established
    2. You throw up your hands and say you have decided to become a "Brahmachari". 
  4. Once a connection is established, you are given the name of the server and that is your password for any future connections. Unlike the machine servers, there is no option of "Forgot Password". Though you can devise an alternate password, like a secret pass-phrase. In any event of forgetting the password or the secret pass-phrase will lead to temporary/permanent disconnection from the server. Of course, you still have the option of connecting to a new server, but at that stage you may get incompatibility issues, as unknown to you, server reprograms your source code with each passing day ensuring you become incompatible with every server that you would wish to connect.
  5. One good thing about this server connection is that it establishes a session which has no time-out. There is another subtle difference though. Server does not store any cookies on you. You need to send cookies (gift) periodically in different formats ensuring that each cookie surprises the server. This would ensure server does not terminate session due to any other unforeseen reasons. 
  6. The earlier firewalls transform themselves into System administrators after the connection is established. System administrators need to be treated with respect, care and caution. They have the power to tune the server as they wish. They help you to re-establish connection if somehow you forget your password and the server breaks the connection.
  7. The earlier DNS servers transforms themselves into spammers who regularly send tips and tricks on server management, improving connections, new patches for you and the server. Be cautious if you are using any of the tips, as sometimes they can lead to disastrous consequences. You also need to protect the server from these spammers, as they are affected more than you can even imagine.
  8. Production servers do not like to stay in test labs like you stay with your peers. They need dedicated data centers. It is your responsibility to get a data center where you and your server can co-exist. Absence of a data-center in the long run can lead to termination of the connection.
  9. In case of any deadlock arising over any data or process, it is advisable to release the lock from your end immediately and push your thread to sleep or suspended state. An angry server throws only unhandled, unmanageable exceptions or windows style error messages.
  10. Finally, all your activities are logged in the inexhaustible log files along with the timestamp, location and circumstances within the server. The reverse is true in your case. You will experience frequent Garbage Collections (GC) keeping only the faint traces of phantom references in your memory. Frequent GCs reduce you response times but keep you a bit happier and help you get over lot of frustrations that you experience within the confines of data center.

PS: A bit of server space on the blogger servers was used up in writing this post. However, no servers were harmed in writing this post :P

Rest of the PS: 
  • This post is specifically for the geeks who rack up more than 16 hours a day within the confines of their cubicle. Apologies to the rest of the readers, if they could not make head or tails of it. 
  • To all the die-hard feminists - I could not find a proper place to put this earlier in the post. So your blood might have boiled when reading this. Don't worry it will soon cool down :P

Sunday, May 15, 2011

Osama Bin Laden's Last Message

OBL’s original message given to Maacha was about 3 hours long, which Maacha interrupted twice both due to his girlfriend’s calls. Later Maacha told him OBL had put his relationships on the rocks. He could only talk to her after 24 disconnected calls and 30 begging for forgiveness messages. Wouldn’t fault her,as she doesn’t believe him when he says he is with his friends and so believing OBL and his message was just too much for her. Btw, you can get the story of the visit and other details here. Anyways, the star of this post is OBL. This is OBL’s mesage to the “Next Most Wanted Man”. On a different note, OBL should have been in IT. His diligence in adhering to process and enthusiasm in giving the KT (knowledge transition) even after he was out of the project must be commended. Now back to the business of this post - Abridged version of his message:
  1. Pakistan is not safe. Try India. Kasab is still living and eating mutton biryani.
  2. Don't trust Pakistani generals. We Indians had some bitter experiences and now OBL got one. Unfortunately for him it was his last one.
  3. You can stay away from technology, but technology eventually finds you. (Author putting on his technical smirk.)
  4. Praying to multitudes of Gods help diversify the risk. You never know which God is on leave as they do not have a habit of setting up OOO. See Indian politicians. 
  5. You need to have humility. You cannot be sitting on an elephant, surrounded by crocodiles and yet expect none of the crocodiles to see you, because you are so up there. Occasionally a monkey will jump on you to send you straight into the waiting jaws even before you could say "aiyo".
  6. If the requirement is for high walls, you should  always go for The Great Wall of China. You will just disappear. The trouble is then you will have hard time convincing people you are alive. 
  7. Letting your  friend talk to his sweet-heart while you are playing hide and seek can be fatal.
  8. Repeatedly saying "Mind it" to all the western powers and India from a recorded tape does not make you a Rajnikant. Mind it!
  9. In the end, even Rajni needed a blade to split the bullet coming his way. Dammn I never shaved. (Gillete - "Are you listening? OBL can be your first posthumous brand ambassador.")
  10. Trust all your n wives to babble out all your dark/dirty/intimate secrets, the moment you are dead/never-to-be-seen/any other forms of out of her life scenario.

That was it. So any takers to be the Next Most Wanted Man(MWM)? You have the KT document from the former MWM himself now. Moreover, not to mention about the Maacha’s 72 gfs to look forward to, if the plan A does not work. Other benefits include – ‘n’ number of wives, a million dollar mansion and herbal medicines (Maacha had made an earnest plea to get the last item. However, OBL was firm that he will only give it to the Next- MWM.)

Wednesday, May 11, 2011

Maacha called, OBL and other Bakwaas!

Couple of days back my friend - Maachi (a.k.a Maacha) pinged me up on my Gtalk. True to his gujju nature, he never calls on mobile and believes in giving missed calls and true to my pseudo-gujju nature, I also do the same. So was happy a bit that he at least has an internet connection these days.

But he was disturbed a bit. So after intense prodding he opened up and the ensuing conversation followed:

Maacha - I had a dream in which Osama appeared and said something…

Me - what?

Maacha - Yes. OBL wanted me to send some message.

Me – What did you reply?

Maacha – aama hu kyathi aayo? (how did I get involved in this?

Me – For the first time in life, even I didn’t understand how you got involved..

Maacha - He replied some virgin up there gave him my name.

Me - What? When did you send a virgin up there?

Maacha - Even I became tensed. I told I only remain friends with my gfs.Also I cannot send anybody. It is I who get sent to Bihar, Ethiopia, and all other god-forsaken places.

Me - What did OBL say?

Maacha - he says it seems one of my virgin gfs remained virgin because I refused to marry her.

Me - Dude, how many virgins you sent up there?

Maacha – According to OBL, all 72 are my former gfs.

Me (ROFL) - So you mean to say OBL’s 72 virgins are all gujjus?

Maacha - Don’t laugh. He was very angry with me as none of them were beautiful.

Me (consoling) - No Maachi. Gujju girls are beautiful and who said your gfs are not beautiful? (A true friend here! :P )

Maacha - He was also angry that none of them were from his caste. Worse still, he did not know which caste he belonged to nor his rashi.

Me - Don’t think OBL believe in caste systems.

Maacha - Well, he doesn’t but all my gujju gfs seems to have made OBL aware that he also has a caste. And they won’t marry him until him until he finds his correct caste.

Me - but why does he needs to marry them?

Maacha - My 72 gfs said that when their maasa, mausi, mama, mami, nana, nani, bhaiya, bhabhi (relatives), and all others come up there what will they say? Then OBL will have to elope and find a new hiding place. And from where he is now, he has very few left.

Me - I see. It is difficult to be the most-wanted man in both the lives.

Maacha – So now he thinks that to learn more about his caste, he needs to do some good deed which is the first step for him to discover his caste and this good deed is the message.

Me - What is it about?

Maacha - Well, it is guideline sort of thing for the Next Most Wanted Man.

Me - So why are you telling it to me?

Maacha - Dishit, I know you blog and I want you to post this.

Me - Dude - Are you crazy? Next thing I know, there will be bloody navy seals jumping out around my building, taking a head-shot and I will be dead without even a single tweet about it on twitter.

Maacha – Well if you don’t I will be blown out from Ahmedabad forever.

Me – That makes sense. Btw, this is the classic deadlock which we love to discover but not resolve. :P

Maacha – I have a solution.

Me – aaha (a small smirk appeared before it soon disappeared)

Maacha – Maanas ne olakhtha sikho. (Learn to understand a person)

Me – Always have at least in your case. But tell me about your solution.

Maacha - Osama showed me a video which he recently made up there. Poor soul he still believes he is living in the $1mn house in Pakistan. So he is sending the tape which says his message will be spread not through his followers but some innocent gujju. You are not a gujju so you are safe, the message will be spread and it will save my life from OxAMAs.

Me – I knew your solution will always be far away from any thing called logic. However, for you I will do it albeit for a small charge. Since you are a gujju and claim to not eat non-vegan food, and many other You-Know-What things, I would only ask you to give me call.

Maacha - Sure.

Me - Not missed call. (That was the maximum I ever can get out from him. I have principles of not doing anything for free. My reputation of being an pseudo-gujju will be in tatters, if I do not get any profit out of this transaction.)

Maacha - chokas! (sure)

The message - coming up in the next post! Stay tuned!

PS: To the real Maacha - after reading this do not exlclaim - aama hu kyathi aayo? :)
P.PS: All the above conversation happened in the urban version of gujarati. So any errors in translation is purely an error.
P.P.PS: No OBL was killed when writing this post.

Monday, April 25, 2011

Is Lokpal Bill enough to tackle corruption in India?

Over the past couple of weeks, India as a nation has witnessed the powers of one determined Gandhian. Joining with him in his quest for stronger Lokpal bill, were thousands of Indians which included both netizens and citizens whom the aristocratic political class term as "Aam admi". Government or rather PM Manmohan Singh did a good job in defusing the entire agitation by giving in to the demands as any further delay would have caused a revolution leading to his government's downfall. At the heart of the issue is the Lokpal Bill aimed to fight corruption in India which was first conceived in 1969 but still waiting to be passed in the parliament.

Though I completely respect Anna Hazare's effort to bring this issue to the fore, I am more inclined to agree with Kapil Sibal's view that the bill's scope in tackling corruption is limited. The main reason is that at the end of the day, it is only a bill. And a bill like many others can only go so far in addressing the tackling corruption. Moreover, loopholes always exist in any law and most scamsters are intelligent enough to exploit these or at least drag the case till they are old and frail when it would eventually not matter. I believe a similar story would be play out with the Lokpal Bill. Of course, it can be argued this is an important step forward. No doubt on that. The point I am trying to make is corruption exists mainly due to the systemic inefficiencies and creating laws or acts can only deter corruption as much.

These systemic inefficiencies create an incentive to be corrupt. Or in other words it rewards the corrupt and punishes the honest. Thus to remove corruption, these systemic inefficiencies have to be removed which can only be achieved through better governance and not by creating more laws. One of the most proven weapons in improving governance is the use of technology. The other two weapons would be the people in the government and Aam Admi.

Yes I am in technology and technology rocks when you want transparency and accountability. System takes care of that. Many state governments have invested in technology at various fronts to improve the governance. Even the central government, has tried to implement wherever, it sees limited opposition. Examples which I am aware of are e-filings of tax return, the generation of PAN card and the most ambitious project taken up so far is UID (Unique Identification System). The most important aspect of technology is that it reduces human intervention. For example for PAN card, anyone with an internet connection can go and lookup the site for information on how to fill the form and then fill, print and post it to the concerned department. The entire process can take at most 3-4 hours which can be done from the comfort of your home. (Discounting the trip to the post office :) ). Moreover, you can track the application status online and rectify the form if needed. This has removed the need of bribing 
  • someone to learn how to fill the form
  • to track the status
  • to move the application if it gets stuck anywhere.
The second example where technology can be greatly useful is ensuring traffic rules compliance. Any reason why traffic policemen encourage bribes? Some of them are given below:
  • He does not have to create a receipt for the offense.
  • He does not have to listen to the offender's defense stories and his constraints which caused him to break the rule.
  • A traffic chaos may happen during the time he was creating a receipt and thus have to work harder.
So how can technology reduce corruption?  Jumping of signals, riding in the wrong lane or over-speeding can all be captured through a camera which captures the registration number and send the ticket to the offender's home. At the same time, an entry can be made against the driver's license card, to ensure tracking of the number of offense and also auto-debit the fine amount from the offender's bank or credit card account. Believe this is already implemented in some countries. Additionally, if a policeman catches an offender, he can simply swipe the driver's license card and the system will do the rest for him. Although this looks like a pipe-dream, they are inherently doable. Believe some developed countries have this system already in place.

People in the Government
Consider a clichéd government employee's job profile. He is assigned a task which he has to do for years. Only if the person above him retires or dies, does he have any chance of growth. Naturally boredom sets in and the absence of future growth makes him neglect his current duties. The only incentive for him to work is the bribes from people who want to get things done a bit quicker as there is no enforceable SLA for the government employee to work. The situation can only be improved if there is change in this culture. 
The peer pressure tactic is the best option to effect a culture change. A strong leader who can influence 10 % of his direct reports can bring about this change. By making this 10 % influence another 10 % and so on, can radically change the DNA of the government office. The change will be gradual but will be effective. Ricardo Semler's effort at Semco SA can be taken as an example for this. 
Thus if as a team, they decide to get things done within the SLA and without taking bribe, even the most lazy person would have to work. In a way it can be be looked at as an HR issue. In the end, the government needs leaders who can bring about the change in the minds of the people within departments. 

Aam Admi
How can a "Aam Admi" say no to corruption? He is under pressure virtually from everywhere. Pollution, oppressive heat, potholed laden roads, and public commute make the daily trudging to the office a bigger ordeal than it already is. Apart from this he has to work under abusive bosses, handle intrusive neighbors and demanding relatives. In all this, if a government process takes too long, he cannot afford to keep his life aside till the government process is completed. He has to complete that as well in the melee that his life is in.  Yet not taking the easier path may not make it easier to get it done. This happened to my friend who needed to get a No Objection Certificate (NoC) to transfer his bike from Mumbai to Bangalore. He chose the easier route. He called up an agent who asked him Rs. 1500 to get everything done in 3 days. Fortunately the agent failed to turn up when my friend went to get the NoC done. Out of desperation he tried to get it done the right way. Eventually he got it done within 2 days itself and the cost - Rs. 200.

Probably our demand to get it done easier is far more than the demand to get it done by the correct process. Due to this sometimes the time saved by the shortcut method may be actually time lost in the overall equation. A bit of patience and a bit of effort in understanding the process may just well be the solution to reduce the corruption. Additionally an emphatic NO can also do the trick to a large extent.

Presented some of my thoughts based on the drama that has been unfolding around LokPal for past few weeks now. Do post your valuable feedback and solutions in the comments section.

PS: Just thought of focusing on the bigger picture rather than just the Lokpal Bill. Also on a personal front too have bribed my way out quite a few times. Thats a change that I need to bring in within myself :P