Wednesday, December 31, 2008

A Quick Exercise...!

Whoaaaa-its just 3 more hours before the year 2008 bids us all a warm farewell. At this very moment-I am sure that most of us are busy celebrating with our loved ones in the most treasured manner or joining others in the mega celebrations in case we stay away from our families (Yeah-these are the times you miss them a lot!). I had this sudden thought minutes ago that this is a good time to look back and list one's salient achievements of the year. Grab a pen and a paper, give yourself 5 minutes and very quickly list down things that made you exceptionally happy in the year 2008. If you find the following activities in this list of yours-congratulate yourself and keep up the momentum for the days to come.
  • Spent quality time with family.
  • Acquired a new skill.
  • Touched life of a person (or assisted someone with a selfless motive).
  • Received genuine praise from a stranger.
  • Connected with more than 10 happier folks on Internet or otherwise.
  • Worked sincerely towards realising your "Goal" in life.
  • Met two inspiring people who said "You can do it !".

This small exercise did bring a smile on my face and I felt so good inside (I am sure it would do the same for anyone as well!). And for those who feel burdened by regrets/disappointments for they were unable to realise their last year's super difficult resolutions (losing weight, getting into National Swimming Team, changing perceptions of your best friend, climbing Mt. Everest, visiting Amazon rainforests, reading 365 books etc)-all I have to say is this is not an opportune occasion to dampen your spirits or do a causal analysis of your life-c'mmon clock is ticking real fast and the need of the hour is to count your blessings and stay cheerful !

And yes, as you try to list down your resolutions for 2009-try being realistic (thing big but act rational) and kind (take it easy) to yourself. (I took 54 and 75 resolutions respectively in the last two years and lets not discuss how I felt during last days in December of 2006 & 2007 :D). Have a look at this thought provoking post by Rajesh in case you find yourself in Catch-22 with "Resolutions". As you transition from this year to the next and harness your energy and creativity to realise your true ambitions-I wish you all the very best !

Enjoy this amazing track by YellowCard - the lyrics are simply amazing ...

I'll run in the dark looking for some light,

And how will we know if we just don't try,

We won't ever know

Let me light up the sky Light it up for you ...

Stay Healthy, Savvy, Kind and Cool in 2009 !

"The road to a friend's house is never too long!"

Wednesday, December 24, 2008

Paradox Of Choice...!

[My fav Juice Shop at Nariman Point, Mumbai, India]
[In India, in addition to Coffee Shops, choices (L/M/S) are offered in Juice Corners too]

Ever felt puzzled while buying the perfect present for that "special" friend of yours or while finding your true calling (dream job/startups/writing/drawing/dancing...) for that matter? Well, let me assure you that you are not alone in this world where there are always bazillion choices for just about everything. As I visited the local Blockbuster Store yesterday to procure a DVD for a friend of mine (Christmas is a great time to exchange gifts!), selecting the right movie wasn't a breeze at all. It took me over 30 minutes to choose the right movie and when I finally got it gift wrapped and walked out of the store-I felt relieved ! While my intuitive response to this sudden burst of anxiety was that-I had a long day at work and my mind wasn't at its best, deep inside I knew something else was at work! What I couldn't figure out was whether it was my mind, my emotions or just my mood?

While I normally hit Google Search in emergency situations like these (Yupp-it shook me that much :)), this time I preferred calling a friend instead-afterall she's supposed to know why we behave in a specific manner in certain situations? First she comforted me (actually she kinda scolded me) saying that this time of the the year should rather be spent planning Christmas get togethers, singing Chistmas Carols and basically indulging in the euphoric spirit of the festive season. Then she said that its a proven fact in psychology [Choice Theory]-that choices do create unhappiness and stress. Before she could steer the conversation to shopping and stuff she prefers talking about (and I don't ;)), I requested her for a quick 5-6 pointers that can serve handy when I feel inundated with way too many choices now on. And here are the tips she offered:
  • Think Emotions - While most of the time we weigh options in the luminosity of logic, we should rather make choices based on the experience (we suppose) it would provide us with ! She reinforced the statement by giving an example that if buying a FOSSIL Watch genuinely leaves you with feel good experience inside-go for it. I know exactly why this example was quoted (I have always reverred FOSSIL watches) but yes point taken bud.
  • Be Focussed - While following a set and proven path in career/life is sure a safe option, in case you strive to venture out - have an Acute sense of focus since beggining. Focus, she said helps in filtering out the unwanted choices (psychologists call it Noise) from the useful ones.
  • Sense Opportunities - Most of us spent phenomenal of time thinking or talking about the missed opportunites (I would have done this only if I had this....or If I were brilliant I could...or Only if work was fun I would be happy...etc). And when we keep playing such incidents over and over again in our minds, it influences our decision making ability as well. If we rather divert our attention to spotting potential in the new opportunities/ventures, we can become quick thinkers and coming up with crazier and unconventional ideas can actually become a habit.
  • Buy this bestseller or grab a copy from the local library ! :-D

While I try to demystify the paradox of choice over the next few days and finish the year on a memorablenote, I wish you all Happy Holidays! And in case you wish to spend time reading some good stuff-check out the links posted here.

"The secret of life is enjoying the passage of time! ~James Taylor"

Wednesday, December 17, 2008

Satisfaction Guranteed...!

There's this cool thing about Competition-it can do (or make you do) wonders. While I have mentioned this before, I was pushed into my "thinking zone" yet again when I received two consecutive phone calls late evening yesterday. The history first-the calls emanated from Reliance and Airtel Customer Care respectively and agents from both companies voiced their unhappiness for spotting the rock like presence of my name in their records of Inactive customers. Before I could congratulate myself for being savvy (I switched to Gtalk/Skype sometime back & I love 'em both) or finding myself as a special customer amongst millions (I like such revelations!) , the first rep asked if all's well back in India and very proudly mentioned the timestamps and durations of the calls (Isn't Business Intelligence amazing?) I made few months ago (perhaps the last ones)-this sure wasn't the best way to talk to a customer! He perhaps sensed my vibes & reiterated that I have been a very distinguised customer.

A little analysis tells me that with Auto-Recharge enabled, the trasanctions between my credit card and payment gateway system of these companies had become quite smooth and that sure classified me as a valuable customer :D. Anyways, he really went overboard with company's offerings and cited numerous reasons (least cost, superb call quality, near zero call drops, 24/7 Assistance etc) to convince me to start using their services again. While I said that I'll think about it to bring the conversation to a harmonious end, I wondered if such efforts by companies are worth the energy spent !

Now, for my local friends here - Reliance and Airtel are real BIG cellular service providers in India who keep striving hard to provide excellent customer service to Indians (in India or abroad) on a continual basis. Ask any of your Indian friend and you'll learn how important their offerings (subsidized international calls) are to him/her! I have always felt that together both these firms make a significant contribution to the Indian Economy-they provide employment to many, world class wireless, telephone and broadband services and help us stay connected. A quick internet search tells you the executives leading the firms are always on the lookout for opportunities, adopt unconventional approaches, partner with global players to outdo their erstwhile performances in stock market and never stop evolving! So in this picture perfect world-how do you distinguish your company (or yourself)? Well here are some thoughts:

  • Running Our Own Races: Evolution has shaped us to focus on our competitors and try hard to outsmart them. Won't it be better if we direct our focus to ourselves and try competing with our former selves instead? [Google]
  • Distinct Value Proposition: There's got to be something unique that only & only we (as a company or as inviduals) can offer. Agreed-finding that might take time but once you do find it - life can be more than fantastic. [One]
  • Gauging Ourselves: While on one hand you can position yourself in your illusionary world where things are the way they are or you can push yourself out of your comfort zones more than once and see what life has to offer. What's important when you do venture out is - the measurements you make of your progress towards your set goals. The adage "What gets measured gets done" turns out to be true majority of times! [Sun]
  • Leaving a Footprint: When you make an offering (Service/Product), leave a lasting impression (it better be a good one:)). I love iPod not 'coz its cool to have one but 'coz the product was a genuine effort by many engineers, marketers and towards creating an indelible experience in minds of customers.[Apple]

And far as connecting with friends or loved ones in India I am sure you'll agree that in this age of social networking there are zillion ways to communicate and phone has become a passé! For now lets shift our focus to more important tasks at hand like Christmas shopping :)

"Everything is sweetened by risk! ~ Alexander Smith"

Wednesday, December 03, 2008

Quantum Mechanics...!

After back to back attempts of persuasion (ranging from "Its festive time Chinmay!", "Its a Bond Movie!", "You've got to see the action & the plot", "The theatre has a luxurious Lux Level seating" and the best temptation she offered was-"There's Ben & Jerry store in there too!") , a dear friend convinced me (finally) to go for evening show of "Quantum Of Solace" at the Showcase Cinema Theatre next to the magnificent Gilette Stadium at Foxboro, MA yesterday. And what a splendid evening it was! Later, on our way back I thanked her for the super-special evening for I thought as if I just attended a rock concert (Yes it was that amazing!). What she said next has remained etched in my memory since - "Chinmay always remember that you are not the only person who looks for the best choice in anything-As a matter of fact everyone does; And if you keep that in mind you can make everyday super-fantastic !". She sure has been an aficionado of movies, concerts and anything to do with Art (Galleries, Paintings, Illustrations, Rangolis et all) since high school days and as she said goodbye - she said (rather demanded;)) she would love to see my thoughts on the movie on my blog. Now, knowing that I usually think in extremes about movies (0% this/100% that)-this felt like a herculian task and I thus dozed off to sleep. Today morning however, yesterday's unfinished "To-Do" kept buzzing again & again & again in my mind. So here I am sipping my coffee, logged in to blogger and lets see...

Honestly while they were showing Trailers of upcoming releases, I was trying to ascertain what the movie would be about-from its title. And considering that I haven't watched any other bond flick yet(Yeah I know thats a surprise!)-all I could think was Planck's constant (used to describe quanta) from high school physics :( And I decided not to share my thoughts with my friend for atleast the next 2.2 hours (what a wise decision it was - I bet;)).

My other friends (who are sure shot movie buffs) tell me that this movie wasn't appreciated much across the globe when compared to the erstwhile Bond films. Now that comes as quite a surprise to me 'coz a little research tells me that the blockbuster did made a killing at the Box Office. Here's I think why:

  • Highly Torqued Action Sequences (M's trusted bodyguard Chase by bond)
  • Extreme Rendition of Stunts (Bond's Aston Martin Car Chase)
  • Depiction of Abundance (Dominic Greene's zillionaire Lifestyle)
  • Nail Biting Suspense (What would happen next keeps you glued till the movie ends)
  • Common Motto (Inconsolable rage & vengeance of the leads-Camille[Olga Kurylenko] & Bond[Daniel Craig] against )
  • Sophisticated Gadgets with an amazing appeal (C'mmon we all love 'em - don't we?)
In a nutshell, I would say that the movie rocked and left me feeling exhilarated. What an amazing Brand Equity 007 has-hats off to Ian Fleming !
"To win without risk is to triumph without glory ~ Pierre Corneille"

Monday, December 01, 2008

Dancing With The Stars...!

Before presuming that I am writing about ABC's super famous reality show-my sincere rather urgent advice to you is to step-outside of your cubicles right away and look southwest-Yes NOW !! (its 5PM EST). The reason I am emphasizing so much is 'coz the phenomenon that held me spellbound few minutes ago may not be visible for another 40 years (until 2052). An office colleague tipped me about the rare celestial event during Lunch and believe me I have kept my fingers crossed for clear sky since afternoon.

Yes, I am talking about the much talked about "Conjunction 2008" - the amazing triumvirate of the three brightest objects in the sky - the Moon, Venus and the Jupiter. Watching these majestic heavenly bodies orbiting millions of miles away yet present in each other's proximity (as of now) is an awe-inspiring experience indeed. While the astronomers term this as "lunar occultation", to me the spectacle appeared like a "Happy Face" painted in the heart of the night sky symbolizing harmony, peace and spirited times ahead. So head out - dazzle your eyes, boggle your brains, amaze yourself and have a nice evening ahead !

"At times, delusions of grandeur can make us feel a lot better about ourselves."

Friday, November 28, 2008

We Miss Peace...!

While everyone knows that showering unconditional love to those in proximity is the only way we can live in harmony-I wonder why do terrorists exist and more importantly why do they create so much of havoc, anxiety, trauma, mayhem and terror?

We express our sincere condolences to Mumbai Martyrs who fought bravely in the War Of Terror and sacrificed their lives for our sake. We salute the bravehearts -they'll be missed so much :(

"There are more pleasant things to do than beat up people ~Mohd Ali"

Friday, November 21, 2008

India Shines On...!

As I headed straight to the "Science" section of my favorite Indian Daily this morning, I was thrilled to learn that a 16-year old girl (Masha Nazeem) from TamilNadu has invented and proposed design of a "flameless sealmaker". Its a breakthrough modification of the existing process of sealing documents/packages since it totally eliminates the use of fire to melt lac for sealing, runs on electricity, lets one control flow of the lac thus ensuring a uniform seal imprint, minimizes the fire related hazards that exist in sealing process as of today. Few reasons why this invention amazes me so much...
  • Change is the Key: Its based on the notion of improving an existing process and Masha seems to have analyzed the shortcomings of the existing sealing process pretty well. And any positive change always deserves a warm welcome.
  • Practical Application: While designing her prototype, she kept in mind the practical application of her offering - ballot boxes, government documents. This reducing the doubts of possible customer buy-in to near zero.
  • Super Efficiency: Its cool because it makes life so simple. Think about it-if implemented this would cut the existing cycle time of sealing documents in offices, give extra time to officers who are involved in "sealing process" thus letting them take up new tasks, improve their skills and so on.
  • Lean Thinking: This invention reminds me of myLean Six Sigma Project (back in TCS) aimed at making the software/product delivery process to the end clients easier. Though it was no way even light years close to an invention or something like this;) but the point I am trying to stress here is that her invention makes the whole process of "document sealing" in public offices leaner. And thats indeed a cost, effort and time saver in tons of ways.
Oh and a little googling tells me that this super-talented girl has proposed an equally impressive prototypes to keeprail tracks clean-her proposed system allows a Loco Driver to switch off the waste release from all the lavatories when a train enters a railway station. Isn't that a true Out of the Box approach-I bet it is. Keep up the spiritMasha or as the Human Torchin Fantastic Four says keep ur "Flame On"!

"Be everywhere, do everything, and never fail to astonish"

Thursday, November 20, 2008

Way Off Track..!

First it was the Banks, then the Auto Industry and now the Public Transport-I never thought that the prevailing financial crisis would snowball into a major problem for the US Government and the residents alike. While since banks and Auto Industry crisis affect a section of people and there are bunch of ways to fix them (financial stimulus/bailout packages etc)-however, can you imagine how much of an impact would cutting down on Public Trasport have? Afterall-not all of us use cars as a means of commute! According to the latest news, MTA faces a budget shortfall of around $1.2 bn and the authority’s chief executive Elliot G. Sander has voiced severe concerns to the government. This presentation (from MTA's Website) shows the magnitude of the problem MTA is going through. While I have always been an admirer of MTA's superb service (Trip from New Haven to NYC was such a breeze)- frequency of trains, passenger safety, timeliness, cordial staff etc, I differ with Mr. Sander's solution to the problem at hand. He suggests either "Increasing the Fares" or "Cutting down Service"-but either of these are going to disrupt schedules and lives of millions-right !! While I am sure MTA's senior management are applying their brain cells to full throttle at the moment but here are few things I feel (strictly my subjective opinion) they can do now or on an ongoing basis:

  • Reduce Benefits-Agreed-compensation is always a sensitive issue but cutting down on benefits to employees can be a true saver. And a conflict-free way to accomplish this is to cut benefits across the company at all hierarchies. That ways you still have support from your loyal employees and discussions on "biasness"/"favoritism" etc. are totally out of scope. There are 'n' number of non-value adding activities that go on everyday in any enterprise.
  • Communicate Smartly-When giving a demo on STARS(Our BI Reporting Product) at Windsor two weeks ago, I noticed an interesting satellite office of a small real-estate firm there. I wanted to make a quick call since my cell battery had died out and thus I stepped into their office asking for a pay-phone. The lady (looked quite surprised first) responded with a warm smile and told me that employees there use Skype as a means of communication as against phones. (And I thought Skype just helps us in staying connected with friends back in India). Voilà-Think about it-an enterprise can actually save substantial money by using Internet/VOIP to comunicate; besides you can actually do stuff like Video Conf etc. as against flying to a client location to give demo-phenomenal cost savings again !! (Hey but I still like travelling-Okay:))
  • Infuse Fresh Blood-When things don't go as planned for an extended period of time, try hiring young people, empowering them and infuse competition amidst them. Competition can do wonders!
  • Watch Out-Many times cost cutting initiatives by companies lead to exodus of the most efficient and the best people. Avoid it-give them reasons to stay back, Involve them in policy decisions-NOW!
  • Look Around-Understood that everyone's (individual/company) problem is unique but once can always learn from what others did in emergency situations. Google out some case studies, approach B-school professors.
All I am trying to say is that MTA can still come up with a WIN-WIN solution with pragmatism and optimism. But yes whatever steps they undertake, they must infuse a strong sense of discipline, vigor and passion in implementing the same. Afterall, trains look better on tracks than off them :) Good Luck MTA !
" Adversities come and go like ripples in a stream"

Friday, November 14, 2008

Feedback Mechanisms...!

One of the things I really (yes honestly) appreciate about service industry is there's always a huge scope for breaking the status-quo and improving the business operations - only if one pays true attention to the customers (Yeah they teach you all about Customer Satisfaction/Delight n stuff at college but I am talking about real life). And the best way to listen to customers is to offer them a way to communicate their candid opinion about your service. Thinking about feedback, I remember an elective on Control Theory I studied in my 3rd year of bachelors (O boy! Solving those complex numericals wasn't fun at all:)). Our faculty advocated that there are always two kinds of feedback mechanisms in life (Okay he meant electrical machines but I heard otherwise ;))

Open Ended: When you give an input power to the machine/black box and you get an output which might be in line with your expectations. In our case this scenario would be-You get wowed (or bugged up) by a product (new phone) or a service (restaurant/movie rental) and provide your feedback to the company and thats it. They might act on it-you hope so!

Close Ended: A sensor placed at the output monitors the system output and feeds the data back to a controller/computer which then acts and ensures a pre-defined system throughput with least error. Smart Technique-isn't it? In our case this would amount to the company (Service/Product Provider acknowledging the customers' feedback and then acting on them quickly thus Wowing the Customers even more.

And common sense says that by all means a close ended feedback (though has few overheads) ensures better and consistent quality over a period of time. And now the story (the reason why I am feeling so happy at the moment)...

Once upon a time (17th Sep, 2008 and you thought it was ages ago ;)) I flew with Lufthansa to India and I've said before that this trip was such a nice experience. I was quite impressed by their immaculate customer service on board and friendly crew (spc. the Captain who did talk to few passengers too asking howz everything-service, food etc) and since whenever something impresses me I need to write about it - I wrote them a note expressing my sincere gratitude. Period. And what an amazing company Lufthansa is - these guys acknowledged my feedback right away and sent the following letter in mail. One thing is for sure-this gesture on their part made my evening (Thanks Sabina & team) and I so much wish to book my next air ticket with Lufthansa now. See-getting true customer loyalty isn't rocket science :-D
"The doors we open and close each day decide the lives we live"

Thursday, November 13, 2008

Ignited Minds...!

Whenever I see tiny tots around my first instinct urges me to run upto them & teach those innocent small wonders bunch of ideas 'n' tips which might help them in dealing with different people(difficult ones in particular) in walks of life when they grow up (Sometimes days are just not normal;)). While checking out my favorite "Timon & Pumba" Comicbook from the local library today evening, I observed some 7-8 smart kids in Kids' Section-they were trying to arrange blocks to formulate a pattern displayed in a big artbook placed in their proximity and I must admit that observing them immersed in the activity was so much fun. Each one of them was so spontaneous, exceptionally curious, energetic, naive and totally unself-conscious! Near zero anxieties, unbiased view of things/people around, sheer idea of living life fullsize & celebrating small victories-for a moment I thought that merely by changing their viewpoints kids are able to inhabit a euphoric state which we as adults have a hard time adopting! The small episode instantly reminded me of the amazing book "Ignited Minds" by the reverred Dr. Abdul Kalam I read few years ago...I wish I had the book around now:(

On the brighter note when the Moon Impact Probe [MIP] attached to the top of Chandrayaan-1 with Indian tricolour painted on all sides lands on moon at around 8 PM IST tonight-it sure is a reason to cheer for all Indians dwelling in India or abroad. What makes it super special is that it coincides with Chidren's Day (Dr. Kalam's brilliant idea)!

Here's me wishing all the super-talented tiny yet ignited minds a Very Happy 'n' Eventful Children's Day ahead-N'joi the Song :)
"Life's what you make of it, so lets make it rock!"

Tuesday, November 11, 2008

Glass Half Full...!

Its 5AM EST and I am at a Starbucks Store right off the Mass Pike sipping my Cinnamon Dolce Latte, gazing outside the Store Window, giving finishing touches to my STARS slides (today's pitch needs to be perfect!)on my Laptop and somehow I feel so different today-its exceptionally quiet out here. All I can hear is a miniature sound of chirping birds (or may be insects), hum of trucks on Mass Pike, sound of a distant police siren somewhere and a very strong and distinct throbbing of my heart. I wonder-Was I tuning out such small sounds before or wasn't I attentive enough? Well, I guess I know the reason for sure this time...
The roller-coaster ride I was forced into-2 weeks ago has certainly depleted my otherwise turbo-charged energy reserves and enthusiasm levels. Sudden news about a devastating loss of a dear acquaintance (my self appointed creative protege) has left me with a never ending spiral of following feelings:

Shock<-> Denial<-> Anger<-> Vapidness <-> Puzzled <-> Depression --> Acceptance

I have been trying to keep myself engaged in challenges & activities that divert my attention but those unpleasant emotions keep hitting me again and again and again:( The mind keeps denying the news of sudden disappearance of the very person who used to equip me with super-creative ideas & off beat tips for my creative pursuits-even though it knows its a truth I have to live with now on! What's even more surprising is that my plants (gifted by the same person) dried up the same day too-c'mon how can this be true? Are the events co-related? Well, I seriously don't have a logical or pragmatic answer but they certainly have left a deep impression in my mind.

While I appreciate the phenomenal support provided by everyone during past few weeks so much, I have also come to realize that in order to deal with such losses constructively, its very vital to consider "
Acceptance" Stage (in spiral of emotions listed above) as one's indispensable Goal that needs to be accomplished as quickly as possible. It sure is very easier said than done and coping up takes time but inner strength, good food, writing and engagement in community based initiatives help a lot. And in the bigger scheme of things (Life I mean), one has to and must move on - right?

I am sure that the remaining 2 hours of drive will bring me back to equilibrium but the essence of what I had and what I lost might stay on with me for the days to come!
"Life consists not in holding good cards but in playing those you hold well."

Friday, October 31, 2008

Where is x...?

A friend of mine called today asking for off-beat ideas for presenting an online quiz. His group has been asked to design an interactive online quiz over the weekend . The said quiz needs to be super user friendly and should provide a quick yet fair assessment of a test-taker's performance in an innovative fashion. My instant thoughts on essential elements of a good Quiz are:
  • Imagination and Humor - C'mmon we all need fun right?
  • Intriguing Questions as against general open ended questions.
  • Questions should arouse curiosity and should have novelty.
  • Questions should appeal to a wider set of audience.
  • Smooth Point of Entry with easy self-explanatory pointers.
  • Questions should combine the Familiar with the Unfamiliar.
  • Careful phrasing of questions.
  • They should test a candidate's visual-spatial intelligence in addition to logic.
  • Use of cartoons / illustrations as against detailed instructions.
  • Give Feedback / Encourage responses given by candidates towards the end of quiz.
While I help my friend over the weekend-have a look at some of the simple yet amazing quizzes I came across while browsing few mins ago - here, here or here. Happy Halloween & wish you all a superb weekend ahead !

"All human power is a compound of time and patience !"

Thursday, October 30, 2008

Clash Of The Titans...!

(Photo Courtesy - Madame Tussauds, London [AP])

Even thinking about the next week gives me chills. Elections for all seats in the House of Representatives, elections for 11 State Governors and ofcourse the much talked about 56th Presidential consecutive United States presidential elections - that has captured enormous global attention oflate ! All major news channels, magazines and publications, talk shows , pre-poll assessments firms etc. seems to have flooded the environment with infinite pros and cons of choosing one presidential candidate over another ! With Halloween round the corner, it sure adds to the excitement but isn't it that we are giving way too much attention to Elections? Given the dimishining amount of free time each one of us have everyday, it surprises me that people engage in marathonic discussions (at Coffee Shops, Lunch Places, Chat Rooms etc) centred around which candidate to choose and why?, will my taxes increase?, what about my 401k? what about my certificate of deposits? I wonder why majority of people and companies get so much attached to their finances (money/stock/wealth) specially amidst turbulent times ? (Google being the only exception that comes to my mind - check this post). Well, my own gut feeling tell me that what we really need to do (amidst dancing stock prices and eventful recession times) is focus on building our skills or better still acquire few new ones instead!! Guess - its time to head to libraries and get some books issued for a change ;)

But yes, do watch and listen to few speeches of the candidates - Republican Party's John McCain and Democratic Party's Barack Obama - they are brilliant orators and accomplished individuals and political gimmicks aside-one can always learn a lot about the US Economy, National Issues, Areas of Concern/Improvement, etc. from their talk shows/speeches etc. And please do go out and vote for your perfect candidate because elections do constitute the foundations of a true democracy and the outcome does have an enormous influence on other free societies globally (specially India) ! Perhaps thats why they say "Every Vote Counts !" :D

"Don't reinvent the wheel, just realign it!"

Monday, October 27, 2008

Sun Always Shines...!

Sun !
[An animation of the sun, seen by NASA's EIT (Photo Courtesy SOHO/EIT)]

Brilliant & Unbelievably Powerful Image-illustrates the magnificence of the ever majestic "Sun" in the convoluted & grand scheme of interesting things around us (read universe ;))-what a nice way to start one's day with !

And as I keep a close watch on the Countdown for the festival of lights alongwith my friends from India for next couple of hours-I stumbled across a writeup (while sending last minute e-cards to my dear friends) I prepared (Thanks for the editing Tanya) for a community get-together (Thanks to Juhi) we had on Diwali last year ! This festival marks the victory of good over evil, end of harvest season and Hindu Calendar Year and watching people of different ethnicities celebrating it with festive firworks, sharing sweets, worshipping respective Gods during this time is awe-inspiring indeed ! I hereby wish everyone a very Happy Deepawali & Prosperous New Year ahead..!
"Something amazing is waiting just around the corner - I bet !"

Sunday, October 26, 2008

Being A Kid...!

Sometimes seemingly chaotic, unplanned, silly looking yet spontaneous fun can make us exceptionally happy. Well, today was indeed one such day when while flipping channels I came across Hungama Television that was broadcasting "ShinChan" Cartoon and what followed was uninhibited and loud laughter (I bet neighbours heard me pretty well;)). This Japanese Cartoon (which is way too hilarious) is about a four year old boy -'ShinChan". Shinchan is a highly curious hyperactive kid (who is quite fond of choco-bees) and his mischiefs are pure fun to watch. The way he troubles those around him with succession of his well planned naughty tricks. Particularly notable things are his husky voice , vivid expressions, his silly yet funny jokes, out-of-place comments and ofcourse his fondness of pretty faces around him ;) Every plot includes his parents (Mom specially) and/or his equally notorious classmates (Boo, Maso & Georgie) and is entertainment at its very best! Past episodes (in Eng/Japanese) can be viewed at here and Episodes in Hindi can be viewed here. For now enjoy the opening theme here or here !

"A ship is safe in harbor, but is that what ships are for?"

Friday, October 24, 2008

Different Strokes...!

I was super enthusiastic earlier this evening for I was going to meet a close friend (We'll be meeting after 3 years!) and which is why I kept hunting for the coolest T-Shirt in my wardrobe for way past 20 minutes. Now that isn't usually me-I said to myself as I found myself a corner in Local Train to Vile Parle-thats where my friend asked me to come and here I was again lost in thoughts pondering about the significance of colors in life (wish I carried a book to keep my mind at peace :D)

Wordnet defines the word "Color" as the appearance of objects (or light sources) described in terms of a person's perception of their hue and lightness (or brightness) and saturation. Speaking of colors - I am sure most of you will agree that Colors have the ability to trigger our emotions, affect the way we think or act and most important of all influence our attitudes & mood. Admit it or not, but all of us (My quick generalisation stems from my own self belief though;)) do respond to colors around us - cars, homes, clothes, iPods, watches, perfume bottles and even the food we eat perhaps that explains why some of us prefer way too colorful surroundings while the rest prefer a sober one. Is this (creating a lasting pleasant experience) the reason that our decisions to wear a specific clothing varies with the person we are going to meet? Or is this why kids' toys are so colorful ? Is this why Companys' Logos have solid colors? Perhaps a rich amalgamation of colors creates a vivid experience. Well, I honestly think it does and upon getting back home here's what I read about colors:

  • Yellow - Represents Joy and serves to energise us quickly. [Mango Frooti]
  • Orange - Represents Hope and serves to alleviate us. [Orange]
  • Pink - Represents Love and we sure know what it does :) [Pinkberry]
  • Blue - Represents Truth and serves to inspire and leaves a peaceful feeling.[Blueman Group]
  • Red - Represents Fire and serves to inflame our passions. [Product RED]

Before I could congratulate myself for this "Eureka" Moment-a Google Alert conveyed that there are few ultra-smart folks who are already know significance / impact of colors on human psyche and have a look here [Idée Labs Rock!] or here [and so does Engineers at Nissan] to get wowed like me. Till you (or me) keep our hunt for a super cool, novel and breakthrough product idea - keep relishing the different shades of life :D

"What we appreciate begins to appreciate !"

Wednesday, October 22, 2008

Winged Formation...!

Its 12:15 PM IST, 11th October 2008 and here I am at Reliance Industries' Nagothane Site with my Dad. My Dad has been posted here to head the construction of a colossal (to me anything bigger than my cubicle is BIG !) Gas Power Plant for Reliance Industries with a mission to meet Western India's ever increasing demand electricity (wish we shut off our ACs atleast sometime). And for me - watching site activities sure is an experience of a kind - a fantastic one indeed ! During my 4 year association with IT industry - here's how I processed various aspects of life:
  • Fun - pushing things (products/services they say) out of my cubicle in a quicker and efficient fashion. And yes those eventful team outings !
  • Seriousness - When a bunch of people get together in a Meeting Room and talk about strategies, goals and lots of numbers and metrics.
  • Euphoria - Product Launches or Conducting Orientation Sessions / Training Programmes for new recruits or experienced professionals. Spotting that fire (intense desire to prove themselves in professional world) in new joinees was breathtaking indeed.
  • TeamWork - So many of us co-ordinating on Web Messenger to get a code snippet perfect - with proper exception handling, near zero memory leaks and bug free execution.

And here everything seems so different when compared to my myopic view of the world as listed above! Never before have I spotted so many people working together, pushing steadily forward with full zeal towards meeting a common objective. Considering the weather conditions - (its scorching hot here and yes there's no Air-Conditioner too ;)) and absence of otherwise omnipresent Soft Drinks / Food Outlets - this is certainly an exhibit of true team work. As I walked past the Rock Blasting Area (they do that to construct foundations of Turbines, Boilers etc), I asked my Dad a dozen of questions seeking explanations for how so many diverse people (who aren't that educated too) work together, whats their motivation (certainly money isn't), how the synchronisation is achieved....and so forth. Well, as anticipated he smiled back and said lets go for a walk around the plant area and promised that we'll talk about it at the end of the day. Here's what I observed during the next 4 hours:

The Only Area with a Shade was this Boxed Movable Meeting Room
  • Abundance Of Greetings - Everyone here genuinely likes and respects their team members as evident from their way of exchanging greetings.
  • Willingness to Go Extra Mile - The idea of grasping opportunities right in time is drilled deep in the minds of workforce. My Dad suggested positioning an extra beam for tensile strenth of a column post the usual column reinforcement operations and to my utter surprise one of the guys responded "Sir, Why Wait - lets do that right away?". And I was wondering why they don't have spreadsheets to track minute by minute progress of people.
  • Frequent Boost Up Dozes- Many of the plant construction operations require extreme physical exertion (I was so shaken observing a guy doing some metal fixing well below the ground level) and what these guys know is every move can't be perfect. Sometime discouragement sets in inspite of a day's hard work but together they still pat each others back saying "Good Going...Good Going! " and move on at even faster pace the very next day.
  • Being in Control - When faced with technical challenges, few amongst them are real quick to take charge and rest of them provide their full support to face it right on.
  • Family to Support - Every person who works here knows that their families know that they are working towards a huge goal and I know (from personal exp) that challenges become so easy when you have support of your loved ones !
  • Quick Thinking - Ofcourse their are distinguised engineers here who are expert at conjuring up quick associations (and improvise existing Plant Drawings at the same time) of how a plant structure say Boiler Casing would look like if you do A as against B.

One things is for sure - I am quite moved by this visit and am certainly very thankful to my Dad for arranging for my visit. Oh and yes, we headed back home my Dad quietly said (may be it was intentional:)) : "Our unique ability to choose how we respond to and process any event that happens to us can make us either a "great" or a "not-so-great" person ! - Think about it" I sure will Dad :D

>> My Google Gears will push a few more posts that I wrote while in India - life should get back to its normal self then :)

Monday, October 20, 2008

Sound Of Stillness...!

One notable difference I find here in Mumbai when compared to my stay in the US is the super high "Entropy Levels" around me! And thanks to my prolonged silence, I seem to have become more observant of the noises of varying levels around me. While some of them are beyond my control (@ Bus Stop, Local Train or Vegetable Market) but then there are those like Television, CellPhone etc which I can certainly shut off at ease. It appears to me that Noise can affect us in ways more than one - from preventing us to think logically, making us avoid dealing with problems at hand, making us numb to certain emotions and yes drifting us away from the reality. Perhaps that explains why I always love evening walks - they bring so much peace and equilibrium.

Today evening though, as I was walking past the vibrant 'n' beautiful flowers in the picturesque garden here at Shailesh Towers - I was puzzled when I saw few tiny tots who upon noticing me halted their game and seemed to be staring at me for way more than few seconds. I certainly wished to know-Why? After I exchanged the usuals "Hellos" or 'Namasteys" - one of them (Avinash) asked another dude - "Why does this bhaiya (big guy) always keeps his strange looking headphones on when outside in "our" garden?". Before I could understand what Avinash meant, Aniket (the most talkative of the lot) declared that "That's 'coz he doesn't want us to listen to nice new songs he has!" - and they laughed :( Oh boy, it took me almost 5 seconds to realise that they were referring to headphones of my iPod. Isn't it so strange - I always thought that iPod helps me stay in 'thinking' & 'calm' mode by blocking external noise....and these innocent kids thought totally otherwise. I so much wish the world around us thinks like these amazing kids - who value caring, sharing and experiencing true fun since such an early stage in life ! I have decided to bid farewell to my iPod provided - the marketers slow down the rate of bombarding us with ever growing Ads, co-passengers in trains/buses/airplanes talk in lower tones on their cellphones and veil of unwanted external noise is somehow attenuated soon. Till then I'll keep my pursuit of inventing new ways to experience the true "Sound Of Stillness" on !

"One of rarest things that a man ever does is to do the best he can!"

Sunday, October 19, 2008

Conflicts are Gorgeous...!

I normally refrain from using such provocative statements but a small incident that occured few minutes ago in my proximity changed my perspective about "Conflicts" instantly. Well, I am at the Continental Lounge at Newark Liberty International Airport awaiting announcement of my connecting flight to Detriot with a bunch of wonderful and engaged passengers. A marathonic non-stop flight from Mumbai, overdoze of watching cartoons on board and inadequate sleep since past several hours has certainly skewed my circadian rhythym and in situations like these I normally prefer remaining glued to my iPod (calms me) but I felt scheme of events here at the passenger waiting area demanded a quick post :)

A quick high wattage interaction (it was quite a scene) between a young couple (perhaps newly married) was quite a shock to almost all of us. No one could doubt their mutual positive affinity and fondness for each other - to me they looked like a near perfect couple since they boarded the flight at Mumbai CST Airport. To give you an example, Steve (equipped with a Nikon SLR) has been taking Estella's (guess I heard her name right) snaps at light-speed successions whereever "No Photography" board is missing. Estella on the other hand has bought quite a number of collectibles - magnets, momentos, T-shirts, Books, Backrest Pillow etc for Steve....believe me - Love is indeed in the air here at EWR. But don't they tell you Good things don't last long ! Steve perhaps voiced his concern for one of the seemingly expensive momentos Estalla purchased and My God-what followed was a brutal warof words between the "perfect" couple-resulting in widespread agony-direct (to them) or induced (to me;)). Now this trigger was enough for me to think how can one avoid/manage situations like these. Lets see...

  • Reality - C'mmon lets admit that to disagree (or clash) with near and dear ones is a part of life.
  • Black or White - During war of words we tend to focus on the "said" things and declare a person as Good/Bad, Caring/Heartless etc- but hey communication is not all about talking...lets give some credit to the so called feelings of those involved too.
  • Zero Escalation - We might not reach an agreement immediately but we can agree to disagree for now and still keep peace.
  • Staying Neutral - Avoiding being Judgemental really helps. Mother Teresa once said "If you judge people, you don't have time to love them"
  • Its just a Game - The dualistic concept of who wins and who loses dilutes pretty easily if one of the person quits this quarrel game (Games People Play is a must read).

That said lets admit that a conflict free "perfect" world with "perfect" partners and acquaintences isn't the way things happen in real world; So lets (for a change) try being little adaptive, super patient and relish the potential conflicts carry. They sure serve as eye openers for some, positive experiences for some others and indicators to start afresh elsewhere for the rest ! **

"Experiences make us who we truly are"

** Beware of views expressed by me (My mind has been humming on since past 20 hrs with near zero hour sleep) so think thrice (I advise even more) before adopting any of my tips :-D. But yes do have a fantastic week ahead...!

Saturday, October 18, 2008

Outdoor Pleasures...!

Nidhi- A dear friend of mine visited a 'Pinkberry' store last week and since then she has fell in love with the concept store chain and never stops talking about it ! Never before I've seen a brand other than Apple making such an affinity; Intrigued, I tried scooping out some information about the store and looks like this California based company is a franchise of nicely packaged frozen desserts and oflate has been known for its plushy store interiors & cult following.I learnt that Splendora Blog says that an 8 oz serving of the fat free frozen yogurt at Pinkberry contains only 200 calories (Now I know why girls love it so much :)). An amazing and near-perfect amalgamation of low-fat, low-cal cool dessert in a ultra creative designer environment and fantastic word-of-mouth advertising makes it a very cool and sought after place to visit indeed. Google Alerts tell me that even celebrities such as the Jonas Brothers and Miley Cyrus rave so much about Pinkberry. Oh and yes - when I ask Nidhi what fuels her desire to visit a Pinkberry Store again, she adorns a winsome smile (I know she's visualising her last memorable experience in yoghurt store before framing her answer) and says with conviction:
"Chinmay, Fun lies in leaving people better than you find them and Pinkberry offers exactly this kinda fun !"
While I wait for an opportunity to feed myself with this supposedly super-special frozen desert - enjoy the theme Pinkberry Song here , here or here. I love it !

Friday, October 10, 2008

Scope In Scope Out...!

The City of Mumbai has fascinated me since I stepped in this amazing city - Its fast paced life, diversity of cultures and exceptionally ambitious and creative people. Now that my dentist has given me a go ahead, I feel like a free bird and next few days I am going to travel a lot - thats for sure. While waiting for the local train at Nerul Train Station today, I noticed a Train that came to a screeching halt at the adjacent Platform. I mean agreed - it was a normal "9 Coach Slow Local" Train that was way too occupied and promised an eventful ride to a new passenger. However, what impressed me was the its external appearence. Quickly I pulled my camera of my bag and took a snap (Okay quality is not decent by any means but Nikon D90 wasn't nearby :)).

As you can see, the advertisement covers every bit of the coach and what's notable is that the whole the same ad ran across all coaches of this train. What appears NORMAL at first might have amazing consequences / impact to a daily passenger if one steps back & wonder:

  • Attention Span: In our present super busy lives, we make (or have to make) very quick decisions everyday based on what we feel, hear and most importantly see. This kind of advertising is sure to grab one's attention.
  • Take It Easy: I define this kind of advertising as "Take It Easy" one. Neither the advertisers are forcing / interrupting us to view their ads (like in Television)nor they are distracting us elsewhere (Internet Ads).
  • Epicentre: You can ignore Ad on one coach or may be 2 coaches if you are quite indifferent or busy on phone like me. However, if the whole train is painted Red or Yellow or Blue - c'mmon you are bound to atleast give it a passing glance.
  • Imprint: For daily passengers in Mumbai, commute in trains is the time when they unwind a little, think about how their day was, feel good about heading for home / office etc. In such a scenario, if you spot this kind of a Ad - believe it or not - you'll atleast remember you saw a train with "Dena Bank" or McDonalds" Ad on it. Thats it - that was the whole idea !
Likewise interpretations can be many but the fact that I would like to accentuate here is - we can always define things as SCOPE IN - SCOPE OUT. There are people who complain about [SCOPE OUT] things like how crowded trains in Mumbai are, they aren't Air-Conditioned, its riskier to travel in them and what not. And then there are some smarter folks (I meant advertisers here) who focus on [SCOPE IN] things, put their creative foot forward and make a difference. The growing school of thought in my mind tells me that when faced with an unpleasing situation or a not to co-operative person - we can always focus on SCOPE IN things, think of abstract ideas and be happy. Sounds easy - isn't it?
"Faith is good, but doubt is what gets you education"

Wednesday, October 01, 2008

Crisis Of Implementation...!

Now that (Thanks to the Dental Surgery I had early this week) my volume knob has been forcefully turned down for 3 days, I feel so different (read rejuvenated) for I am certainly not used to staying quiet for periods more than few minutes ! Since past 48 hours, the numerous thoughts emanating from my otherwise chattering mind have subsided quite well and I must admit that everything around seems so strange. Never before I was able to appreciate seemingly small things around me - like vivid colours of the fruits and vegetables while going for shopping at local market, notice shopkeepers strange 'n' different expressions while I pay for the goods purchased, genuinely appreciate home made food by focussing more on its taste rather than taking about my US' experiences or enjoy listening to the latest hits ! My initial reaction to the suggested (My dentist Dr. Suhana Gupta is brilliant by the way) abstinence from solid food and speech was hostile ; afterall for the first time I am really short of time and I have so much on the agenda - visit old friends, meet relatives, go for few treks around Mumbai, buy and read many bestsellers, explore latest restaurants, call up close pals but then life is all about surprises - isn't it?

Anyways, on a positive note the past 2 weeks of my dental treatment has left me with oodles of energy, bunch of crazy ideas and plenty of matter for my blogs and sketches. For now I would like to share a few pointers that might help in keeping our teeth strong, clean and healthy (Wish I was receptive to health related tips before :))
  • Destination Cleanliness : Brushing our teeth regularly atleast twice a day is a MUST.
  • A Matter Of Habit : Most of the Gen-X food we devour contains cheese, butter, oils and other substances that tend to stay in our mouths for an extended period of time. My Doc says one should rinse mouth 7 times after every meal.
  • Vitamin C to the Rescue : Vit C builds up the tensile strenth of teeth. So have more yum lemonades or feel free to sprinkle more lime juice as a seasoning on processed food.
  • Boost Fibre Intake : All dieticians suggest a Fibre Rich diet for a healthier heart. I'll just add that most of the unprocessed Fibre rich foods are relatively harder to chew which means more exercise for the teeth ! And yes the darker the vegetable, the more the natural fibre content in it.
  • Irrigate Often : Using Oral Irrigators that aim a stream of water at your teeth to remove food particles is better than using toothpricks.

That said, the challenge lies in implementing these tips and many others. But on second thought beautiful smile doesn't come without efforts :D

"Memorable Moments just come and go like ripples in a stream"