Thursday, December 20, 2007

The excitement of a vacation...

Its been a year full of speed, agony,trials and tribulations, along with opportunities to meet new people in a different part of the country,acclimitise to a different culture, adapt to an alien environment, converse in a language that is not exactly second nature to me, work for endless number of hours in increasingly fluid environments. Its been one big, action-packed year for sure!

But hey! Tomorrow is the last working day of this calendar year.And we have a ten day vacation! Its official too! I can't wait for the moment when I shutdown my computer for the final time this year. It is going to be a moment to cherish and indeed, as I sit in front of my computer right now, its a moment I am so eagerly looking forward to. The very thought of putting up that "out-of-office" reply is an intriguing proposition!

Monday, December 10, 2007

Taj Mahal & Fatehpur Sikhri

That sublime monument; one of the seven wonders of the world; the epitome in the expression of love for a soulmate;the pinnacle of serenity - the Taj Mahal. It has got to rank as one of the privileges in my life of having seen this mesmerising monument twice in my life, the second trip that happened last weekend.

It was a sudden trip that one of my office colleagues suggested, to which I just nodded. And I was so happy that I went with them. We had a great time together, thoroughly laughing through the day, sharing some seriously good jokes with each other, walking endlessly around the historic monument, and yet, having the bent of mind to understand and appreciate just why such a great monument attracts people from all over the world.

The Saturday that we reached Agra was one of those days when the Taj would be open for only half a day - a visit by some dignitary would close the doors of the great monument for the public at large after 1.00 p.m. This was the first message that greeted us at Agra Cantt station. But thankfully, the cab driver was genuine and knew what he was talking and infact drew up the agenda for us through the day.

We reached the Taj Mahal at around 11.00 a.m. and after winding our way through the weekend crowd, we finally reached the great tomb in 45 minutes or so. The very first glance at the classic monument had me breathless. I was gasping for words and staring at this world-famous structure endlessly, while my friends were busy taking photographs. The charm of the place, the serenity that hits you, the passion that the king(Shahjahan) had for his wife (Mumtaz) hits you hard.The symmetry of the monument catches your breath, the path-breaking architectural thinking that masons of those days had dumbfounds you, the greenery of the garden around and the subtle trickle of the fountains in front of the monument adds great flavour to the moment.Quite simply, an exhilirating experience.

And as you near the monument and see flocks of people from all walks of life and from innumerable countries, you realize how great a monument it really is. And not just monument- it is an expression that the world understands. The expression of love.

We walked around the entire marble structure and took a number of snaps. We looked at the hallways, the intricate designs, the freshness of the marble, the inscription of the Quran etc as well. Simply, mind-blowing!

Finally, we waded our way out of the monument, given that we had to exit the place by 1.00 p.m.

Fatehpur Sikhri
Once we were out of the historic place, we nudged along to the parking lot to head to Fatehpur Sikhri. I have never been to this place. But it was yet another experience to remember.On arrival, we were hounded by more than a handful of local guides, claiming expertise in their knowledge of the history behind the place. Finally, we chose on guide, who was persuasive and seemed committed(don't they all?!). But he turned out to be a good choice. I personally learnt a lot about the history of the place.

We went around the huge open space in Fatehpur that had long hallways, huge corridors, vast open spaces, blocks on the wall that was an announcement booth to signify the arrival of King Akbar for his prayer, hostel rooms, huge lights,a small pond and a temple that had marble windows such that nobody could see anything from the outside but the reverse was possible.

Heading out of Fatehpur, we got into a rickshaw and went to Sikhri, the huge palace.This was a sublime experience. the perfection of the place, the magnitude of the palace, the thinking behind the various structures - vegetable market, women's shopping corner, panch mahal(5 storeyed tower), school, meditation centre, palace, prayer hall, one palace for each wife of the king(3 wives - on Turkish, one Islamic and one Christian- lucky king!),the carvings, the gardens, the walkways & paths, the surrounding horizon, the elephant tower - was truly a fantastic experience.

This trip taught me the lesson about how much of a royal time the Mughal kings had in India. They may have taken away a lot of the riches from India back then, but they also contributed immensely to the current historical landscape in the country with such stellar monuments such as the Taj Mahal and the palaces & forts at Fatehpuri Sikhri.

All in all, a weekend well spent and truly memorable indeed!

Feel good factor!

I used to hear from my bosses in the past that there is no greater professional certificate than a client coming back to us for a repeat project. He used to say that, it is the only true merit of a person or a team or an organization. I never knew that such a feel-good-factor could manifest itself in a personal environment.

I got a call from one of my former clients in the US today. And this, from somebody who I have personally never met, but interacted extensively over the phone and email. More than anything else, it had been some time since we had corresponded with each other, but the minute she had some requirement in understanding a market dynamic in India, she remembered me. That really made me feel on top of the world. I mean, she is the head of a business unit of a leading technology company and interacts with a million analysts in her life. And could have easily chosen to reach out to any other analyst in any other firm. But, she remembered me.

It was a great boost to my confidence, and a great certification of my professional contribution in my sphere. I genuinely felt happy after a very long time today! It was a very simple thing in terms of a client reaching out to an analyst, but her choosing me over everyone else, gave me an enormous boost!

Its a memorable day in my professional life today!Pure meritocracy DOES exist, after all!

Thursday, November 15, 2007

Why Outsourcing is Not Worth It?

So much has been said and written about the outsourcing industry in India and all that it has done to the economy. I beg to differ.

While there is merit in the financial benefits that have accrued to millions of human beings, who have received different types of exposure in this industry, I believe, that the trade-off and loss is far too high,for us to even bother about the benefits. Look at the average executive in his/her mid-20s; typically dreary-eyed, operating on a reverse clock that the human body is not accustomed to(which is tantamount to punishment);no regular food(ok, the occasional pizza is fine, but not every other day); lack of social life; inability to converse with people at a normal pace;greater familiarity and ease in using computers rather than having a man-to-man or face-to-face conversation;lingo that boasts of the 'yo-culture';living away from homes in remote cities;inability to participate in Indian festivals thanks to companies' policies of having only vacation as per the US calender;working for the benefit of the Americans - everything to their advantage.

What's the point? Why lose our own individuality and ability to contribute to our own nation? Why, such a big trade-off? Why, forego the simple thrills in life of going out with a lovely girlfriend on a nice, wintry evening for dinner, and instead, wasting time sitting in front of a computer or talking to an American whose face we don't even know?

Isn't this any less than the slavery we were subjected to by the Britishers for 180 years? How different is this from that? Maybe, that was more brutal and had capital punishment et al. But, I think, this outsourcing is nothing short of professional slavery - submit to somebody else, who is only out to exploit us.

Get real! This is India- the country that gave the world the digit zero; the country that gave the world vegetarianism; the country that gave the world religious ethos;the country that the world looks up to for democracy and management of diversity;the country that produced the greatest chess champion; the country that created history in winning a cricket World Cup; the country that brought home laurels in the form of a Nobel Prize in economics; hell, the country that gave the world the concept of kamasutra!

Why are we wasting our time losing our sleep to somebody else on some other corner of the planet, whom we don't even know?

I am writing this at 00.45 hours after just having gotten home, after an 18 hour day; that should explain why this industry is so not worth it....

Sunday, August 19, 2007

The week that was...

The week that has just gone past, has to rank as the best week in 2007, so far. What a phenomenal time I had back home in Bangalore. There is another 7 hours for my flight to take off, and neither am I getting sleep, nor am I able to enthuse myself to get back to Delhi. The very thought is suffocating, to say the least!

A week replete with quality life - catching up with old friends, scouting the latest places in my city, checking out the movie halls, visiting the most sublime and oldest restaurants in town(CTR, veena stores, MTR, lakeview..slurp!). Not to mention, relaxing at home, enjoying home food, putting my legs up and watching an engrossing test match between India and England(India won, yippee!). Just a great week indeed.

Wish holidays lasted longer, or that one didn't have to change cities in this pursuit of a 'career'. Anyway, will write about that some other time...

Tuesday, August 14, 2007

India won!

Congratulations to Rahul Dravid and the Indian team for pulling off a series victory on foreign soil! That too, in Old Blighty! This series win is especially good because it had an all-round contribution from a vast majority of the players, throughout the series.And that, in the context of Indian cricket, is a rare phenomenon, given that we rely on a handful of great champions to contribute more often than not.

It was with great interest and spirit that I watched Dinesh Karthik. His 91 in the first innings' of the Oval test was quite a sublime performance, what with his ability to read the swing very well and cover for it. Infact, there were occasions when I noticed that he was able to hit through the line in seaming conditions and that spoke volumes about his confidence. Great shot, Dinesh!

But, for me, despite the entire team's performance, what stood out was one gentleman called VVS Laxman. That guy is pure magic, when on song. He may not have scored a century in this series, but his sheer stature, presence in the middle, ability to make batting look ridiculously easy, decimate the opposition with style and panache rather than brute power just amazes me no end. He is quite a magician for me, and I just hope that he is able to accelerate a bit more in the later half of his career and do better justice to his talent. Not to mention, his terrific catching abilities. Quite a magician, who I would watch all day long, if I had the time. Seriously, magical!

Of course, the fact that four legends - Rahul Dravid, Anil Kumble, Sachin Tendulkar and Saurav Ganguly - might have played test cricket for the last time in the Old Blighty. And it was great to see the spirit in their enjoyment of the victory, as if it was a school kid being given a lovely chocolate that he has longed for. Such is the spirit of thrill and effort that has made these four wonderful artistes the great men that they really are. Of these four,as a fellow Bangalorean,I couldn't feel more proud than I did, when Kumble knocked off Glenn McGrath's record and went on to win a 'Man of the Match' award for his first(and I guess, last) century in test cricket. Great job, Jumbo! And the Indian captain, hails from my college in Bangalore, just another feather in his great cap! He was just the same in college too - quiet, but steely! It shows that he meant business at a very early age!

Next stop, the masala of one-day cricket. But, I must confess, the thrill of watching good old-fashioned, hard-nosed test match cricket, in England, with its aura of tradition had a thrill of its own. The Indian victory, just added the cherry to the pudding!

Blissful holidays!

Ah! I am having the best time I have had in a long time. Away from the razzmattazz of the corporate world, far away from bosses, clients, teams, laptops, powerpoints, emails and all the paraphernelia that adds up to what is called the 'corporate life'. And I am just enjoying at home,cooling my heels, catching up with old friends, having home food, watching some sublime test match cricket, catching up with some movies, reading at leisure, sleeping for hours and trying to eliminate the dark circles that had accummulated over the last 3 months.

Aah, holidays! The most sublime time in life!

Saturday, May 12, 2007

Weekend is here!

After a mad week of spending a good 18 hours in office everyday(never used to be this way earlier, groan!), I finally have my weekend. This is the best part of my life - weekends. Its MINE. Nobody interferes withit - not clients, not bosses, not juniors, not seniors. Just realised this week that weekends are indeed one of the great charms of life. And I am actually going to be going out and seeing the world. The last few days have been reduced to navigating around the office buildings and returning home and nothing else. Not even been getting to eat on time.

Its the weekend!Am out off to enjoy it in Dwarka, New Delhi!

Tuesday, April 17, 2007

Back in action

I know I have not written in this space for the best part of the last 3 months. I guess transitions of a job change as well as change in city, have their own manifestations and demands on time!

I have finally settled down into my new place in Noida. The firm is interesting, people are exceptionally busy,and the heat here is quite not what I am accustomed to. I seriously need to figure out ways to cool myself,and stop feeling so heavy everytime I gulp down a glass of water to beat the heat.Even sitting inside the office within an air-conditioned environment doesn't suffice!Its so damn hot here! I miss you!!

Will keep these posts updated from hereon in!

Monday, January 01, 2007

2007 beckons...!

Ah!A lovely year just got over.It was quite a memorable one,what with three trips during the year - Shimla,Chandigarh and San Francisco.Truly memorable.Met a lot of interesting people, made new friends, saw lots of new places, tried to become a better photographer and in between all this, had a good time in office too. Couldn't have asked for a better year bang in the middle of the first decade of this new century!

I guess, in between all this, definitely did make a sincere attempt to become a better human being.

There is a certain romance associated with anything new and I feel the same about 2007 as well. A strange excitement, as if this is going to be one of those defining years - though I cannot fathom where, how and why. But well, the romance would be killed if I were to pre-empt that! So, will wait and watch and try to have a better year.

2007 also has this very interesting titbit of having the most number of holidays on weekdays. So that's a good start already!!

Let's see how it goes! Happy New Year!!