Sunday, October 26, 2008

5 addictions of life

Alright, been long since I'd been consumed heavily by work; and my good little friend Cris has nudged me, with a rather loud "Oy! wake up!" :-)

:-) thanks, Cris... for the nudge... and more than that, for caring to...

Well, okay, the tag is to list 5 addictions of life... and here I go...

Saturday, October 25, 2008

Cape Town nocturnal

[This story follows a bit of the context set by A monsoon to haunt. Reading it before you proceed here is highly recommended]

It had been almost a year since I was stationed at Bamako, Mali as Telecommunications Field Engineer with the UN. The first year in the dark continent was quite an adventure in itself, although life was contained almost totally in Mali. I was straining for a break, may be not a vacation as such, but just a short change; and that's why I decided to accept an invitation for a week-long leadership camp at Cape Town, even though it was half a continent away!

I checked into the Table Bay Hotel at 10 past 11:00 PM on Sunday, the 20th of February, 2005. The camp stretched over the five days to follow; Saturday was free, and my return flight was scheduled for the afternoon of Sunday. Saturday would be my big day! I already had a rough agenda in my mind, one was for sure to take a snap against the statue of Bartolomeu Dias, then probably a cable-car ride up the Table Mountain, then may be check out the Lions Head, some aquatics, and then do what ever was popular in Cape Town.

Seldom did I know how dramatically things would change in the next few days to come.

Saturday, September 20, 2008

The "late" Indians: a quiet retrospection

This may sound rude or offending to some, but tell me, when's the last time you had attended a function or a meeting, with all the "Indian" attendees arrived on time? Well, my motive here is not to condemn this trait or anything, but instead, to take an interesting perspective on it.

An event pops in to my mind as I ponder more on this topic: I slept over at a friend's place on a Friday, and the referred-to episode happened the following morning around nine, as we sat sipping coffee at the living room, frisking the newspapers. My friend's elder brother and family too had come over the previous day, as they had to attend a wedding in town. The wedding was at 9:30, and there was around half an hour's drive to the venue. The elder brother had a son, aged five.

Saturday, August 30, 2008

"On the move" blogging

Okay, now this might sound a bit like a technical boohoo, or like the confessions of a bloody technocrat a geek; but here I go... cant resist the temptation of just blabbering it out :-)

As I "write" this directly on to, I'm cruising in a super fast "national rail" train to "Newcastle" in northern England, a place just below Scotland (to meet my cousine brother and his family). I started at 6 am from Ipswich, (South-east England); time is now 8:40 am, and I still have over another hour to reach my destination.

Gone are those days when train journeys used to be unproductive... Here I sit with my "HTC touch diamond" Pocket PC running windows mobile 6.1 (which also, by the way, serves as my mobile phone). Connected to the train's wireless internet, I'm browsing the net, scribbling emails using the stylus directly on to the touch screen which dynamically recognizes my handwriting and transcribes it into ASCII text...

Friday, August 8, 2008


Its called "fight or flight", and we all choose one of the two, when confronted with a hostile situation. We either avoid the situation, or decide to face it chin up.

What do you think the majority chooses? Lets take some situations, right from childhood (my non-Indian readers might not be able to relate to most of the following):

  1. You are a 6 year old kid, playing in your front garden. A ragged man comes by, and peers over the fence. You study him for a few moments, he looks dirty, he has a rucksack, his hair long and grown, he looks at you and grins. Would you just resume what ever you were doing, or would you run back home to your parents?

Wednesday, July 16, 2008

The magic of incentives

Sitting late at office is a common trend found among (very) young Indian IT professionals. There are many reasons why it is so, probably I'll have another article on it later, as it by itself is a topic worth writing. Anyways, everybody accepts that its not really good for both - the employee, as well as the employer. Its the employer who has the most obvious repercussions, and each keeps reminding their employees in various ways to get out of office in time, not to sit late, and have a life outside. Well, the trend hasn't changed a bit in the past many years I myself have been observing it; people still sit late - most of them, browsing the internet, or even playing games. I'm not considering the ones who genuinely work, in this article, that again would need another account of itself :-).

Now, if you go and ask many of these folks why they sit late at office, they might have many reasons, but at the end, if you put all these reasons together and factorize and re-factorize them, you'll find that people don't leave office in time, because they don't have an incentive to! While, to sit back, they have enough and more.

Sunday, July 13, 2008

The importance of co-locating your team

Sometime ago, back in one of my previous projects, I had to ramp up my team by one, to resource some new work that came in. The new person was a 1.x years experienced lady, with technical skill set cohering with what I required in my team.

Now, before this lady came in, my team used to sit in two large multi-occupant cubicles, with just a small partition in between, which practically made it a large bullpen. This facilitated much interaction between the team members, who utilized it well to maximize exchange of information & knowledge, and of course jokes and light moments. I too found it most efficient in conducting stand-up scrums and short ad-hoc meetings, as we just had to pull our chairs together into a circle, and not hunt for a meeting room. We had consumed all seats in the two cubicles, and there were none free, when the new lady came in.

Friday, July 11, 2008

Creating a bolder generation

A few months ago, back in Kerala, I was on a visit to a certain school for some social work. It was lunch time, and kids generally play around for a while, before getting back for afternoon sessions. I walked around through the school grounds, watching the kids play, and kinda reliving the moments of my own childhood.

It was a muffled cry which drew my attention to near a tree, where three kids were standing around. They seemed around eleven or twelve; there was a girl, and two boys. It was the girl who was crying, and the expressions / body language of the boys did look a bit nasty for their age. It seemed that the boys had said something, and the girl had started crying. I looked around if any of the staff were around; upon seeing none, started towards the trio, intending to solve the issue. But hardly had I reached there, when another little girl came running towards the three.