Thursday, June 30, 2011

I'm busy


Its amazing what wonders keeping yourself busy can do :) No?

I am a tad lazy person; though I have stuffs on my plate to do, I would rather mull over them and 'keep planning' than getting my butt off and actually finishing tasks and ticking them off one by one.

I didn't choose to be busy; I would never ever :-D; lazy bum I am. The thing is; I move to a new team couple of months ago. It left me literally nothing to do; but now we are building the team - lotta things to do. With my knowledge and others being new to the organization; I am the grand old mommy!! Suddenly, a plethora of responsibilities and dependability.

Yeah! its not a great thing to be proud of, but they are keeping me busy. I didnt choose it; it happened.  Days are straining and I dont find time for tea. Seems I was eons away from blogspace; it was just Friday I blogged :) Its nice when you lose sense of time and days. That way, you dont give time to your mind to ponder about things that once happened and waiting for it to recur; or retrospect and wonder rights and wrongs.

You dont give your mind an opportunity to miss, to yearn, to ponder, to worry, to search, to wait.......

But I have been reading quite a bit these days. I had suspended the reading activity for a year or so. Just that my pondering got into too much of me and got lazy. Anyway, have you ever debated on reading over watching?

I always think about it; whenever I pick up a book.While I read, I visualize. You have all the freedom and creativity to visualize the characters, the locations, the expressions, the action et all. You can dress up a character the way you like; accessorize the car in action with your own gadgets....there is no limit!!

It gets so beautiful as you work up your mind to visualize the pine trees, the snow, the desert storm, the car chase, the vault, the secret zones......That is why I have always avoided watching movies adapted from novels. Somehow they disappoint me. Maybe because they either fail to match upto my imagination or that the movies in itself is fast paced and doesnt give you creative freedom.

I have been on a reading marathon. Romance, Thriller, Action....if work doesnt keep me busy, reading surely does. And yeah, my mind is clutter free and healthy.

Friday, June 24, 2011

Meaning to words

"Veil?" I wail,
What does that mean?
I prod in vain
To ask someone? shy;
I know a savior. Sly,
I dig into my bag
Its almost in rag,

My dictionary! ah! the feel of pages,
Words galore, would take me ages,
To learn, to imply, to know
I will find the meaning; I lie low.
Placing it on my lap,
Head down as if I nap,

Pages I turn,
Along my finger I run,
Elf and then gulp;
kelp and then self;
My search is near
At last; V is here,

Voila! The VEIL
My joy I conceal.

In the drawer of my bed side table is a special place - for my dictionary. The Oxford English dictionary. I treat it as if it were a treasure - it is! why not? The navy blue hard bind long torn; the initial few pages of introduction and revision details gone; the book is naked. The threads are loose and the sides worn but I feel its decently fair to have sustained man handling and abuse at my hands for 16 long years. 

I moved to a new school for 8th grade onwards - a convent known for quality education. It was due to  my stubborn and nagging tantrums that my parents decided to put me in this new school. I knew I wanted to be here - to learn, to grow. English classes were nightmare - the teacher was strict and was very prim and proper with her language; expected the same with the girls. I troubled my parents to buy me a dictionary so that I could learn new words and improve my vocabulary to fit into that elite group of girls. 

The struggle was long, the battle alone since my parents never felt a dictionary was a priority. But I did succeed. This tiny blue book was my buddy henceforth. Learning new words, challenging my limit; using those new words learnt; mucking up with them and getting them finally right. 

Now; when I skim through the pages; I realize how outdated that dictionary is; I dont find many words - English evolves right? That was the time when 'prepone' was not accepted yet and "metro sexual" would mean a sexy guy from the metro!

I may not find everything in my dictionary; but it exudes the memories of those days - in school; when I used to search frantically for a new word I would not have come across till then; amidst queer looks and my English teacher's dismay. I still recall those few minutes when my teacher uttered "Veil" and I was clueless. Sensing that I was unaware of the meaning; the girl beside me offered to help. But I was shy to admit; and the poem actually describes the later part :)

I owe to my dictionary - these words; these sentences, the posts and this blog :) 

Here is my dictionary - my treasure 

Monday, June 20, 2011

My brothers and sisters

After mentioning briefly about software engineers in my previous post; I thought why not write about me! :-) Me as in many like me - Software engineers.
Do I see a "Oh! no not again! ?". Well, well, yet read; you have no choice! :-P The term software engineer is by itself a delicious title and so far the most uncertain profile ever. We ourselves dont find a definitive answer for the SW Engineer tag that gets attached against our name. 

Ever since India got into the IT business, we have seen the demand of IT and related courses in college.  Since sometime back, IT was a lucrative opportunity. A glamorous career right from the start in a reputed MNC, handsome pay package and awesome life. Here is a gist from a SW Engineer's life.

Disclaimer : Any reference to incident, person or anecdote is pure facts and definitely bears resemblance to all living SW Engineers

Potential SW Engineer : The IT/Comp-Science/E&C Engineering student. Parental and relatives pressure forces him to study hard during his matriculation years to get a medical seat. Tries his luck to grab an engineering seat as well. Low medical rank, engineering rank not good enough to find eligibility in a deemed/reputed university. Settles for a private college affiliated with a decent university; or if affordable; finds a payment seat in a reputed college. Clean state, all enthusiastic to start fresh. Gets bogged down the very first semester with innumerable internals, labs, theiry papers, compulsory attendance and blah..blah..blah.. Works his ass out the next 8 semesters - cheating in internals, seeking lab instructor's help, paying fine for lack of attendance, buying projects, getting caught by lab externals for buying projects......

4 years, 8 semesters, 50+ theories, 20+ labs, 6+ projects, 24 internals, 8 semester exams, 24 lab exams, 6 project demonstrations - soft skill trainings, written tests, placement interviews.....phew!! The D-Day arrives. A Fully Nurtured Software Engineer ready to solve the world's problems...Yieeppiieee!!!

Rookie : After all those hurdles, by hook or by crook; manage to grab a MNC offer. The company is known world-wide, has its footprints in major countries, life-changing technologies to work on., healthy work environment.....Fresher is all excited. His chest puffs and puffs with pride! He wears his ID badge on the collar(literally!), its all so overwhelming to be working for a dream company. Flexible work hours, free snacks, free beverages, outing, lunch, friendly colleagues, more friendly manager, an awesome pay packet....what else to ask for? Parents pride, neighbor's envy.

1+ Year  : After all that initial hysteria and pride, truth sinks in - that the title of software engineer is too broad and shallow; there are heck a lot of profiles related to software and that not all are exciting and challenging. That initial sumptuous meals during the induction and new-hire training was a bribe to sit through the whole stuff ;-)  and that humongous cost to the company did not necessarily mean CTC/12 - those were flexible benefits and not to forget the tax and your 'take home' is what matters :-) Still trying to figure out if you enjoy your 'work'; still trying to grab on to those fancy terminologies and the 'I am doing great' feeling.

3+ Year : The late night conference calls; trying to be as polite as possible while being belted black and blue by your 'client'. When your supervisor feels you are good for nothing and your juniors look up to you while you feel distress! Not to forget those 'extra responsibility', 'raising the bar' and 'you are capable of delivering more' sweet talks. Long working hours, conked up biological clock, irregular meal times. Well did you notice your growing belly and your receding hairline?

Senior Engineer :  Ill-fitting T shirts, sloppy looking jeans, good to throw away slippers, unkempt hair, shabby!!. :-) The new age nerd - the techie. Scurrying away with laptop; always confused look on the face. The face! - pale, lifeless, dark circles, under eye bags....On the verge of being diagnosed with a repetitive strain injury; yet free internet, free phone, free gym(which you dont even know exist), free cola........who cares!

Team Lead : Neither here; nor there. Always paranoid of expectations - technical expertise and management ability. Do I prepare this status report? Or work on this new feature? If I do this, they ask me what happened to the status; and if I am working on the status; they want to know about the new feature implementation! At this level, you ARE expected to handle multiple tasks with ease! Yeah right! I drive my newly acquired hatchback(on EMI which eats up 30% of my salary for 5 years) while taking conference calls!! Is it not multi tasking?

So here is what it is - Pride of the family, darling of your spouse; inspiration to your kids, earning handsome money, holding a job to die for (yeah to DIE for), having a great work environment......................

But slogging day and night, no regular work hours, hoping your folks will understand 'tapping the keyboard is still lot of mental work' and that 'working from home' means you ARE putting in serious work and effort. It means you are entitled to pay tax religiously and your 'take home' has dramatic difference than your CTC.

Being a software engineer also means people have right to bully you because you are 'sophisticated' in other words - a dumb idiot. It means you CAN fix your neighbor's printer or offer career advices to budding engineers. Oh yeah! not to forget the hair line getting thinner at the same rate your waists go fatter!

We need to get a life my brothers and sisters! seriously!! 

Friday, June 17, 2011

Let's swap jobs

Yeah, such a simple statement - innocent and serious.

More often than not, I get into a conversation with the auto drivers when I commute to office. Its the usual ordeal, bunch of guys chatting away to glory, you are at their mercy and the look on their faces when you approach them makes you feel so awkward that I dont want to describe the gross visual I have on my mind right now. You dont even get a disapproving look; they just behave as if you didnt exist.

Anyway, the other day, this driver just demanded "meter mele 20 rupayee" - 20 bucks extra on meter charges. I did not have any other go so had to budge. He put forth a question - Why do you have to be at the mercy of others? Get a 2 wheeler. Made sense! To which I said, I sold off my 2 wheeler and I have a car which I am scare to drive in this chaos. Its so scary to see people lacking traffic sense.

So thats how the conversation progressed and their usual Compooter Engineeru have their life so easy that everything is served on a golden platter to them. I always wonder how did these auto guys get the opinion that IT folks get truck loads of money and they 'can' afford to do some generous charity by parting with their money. "You might get some 80,000 Rs per month, what goes if you give us 40 Rs extra". Such statement calls for a detailed explanation about the kind of work we do, our job environment, the pressure to perform and the hefty tax amount we part with at the end of the year and more than anything else, the salary assumption is way too exaggerated. 

But there is no use to provide that justification, there is no way I can change the mindset of the herd by explaining to just one guy isnt it? Yeah, we debated about whose job is better or worse - there were the usual - sit under a fan or a AC, tap random keys or sign some documents and you get wads of money while we sweat it out; you never even have to use your brain or think! Then the invite for job swap - you take my job and I take yours. Now! I just thought it was wiser to keep my mouth shut than try to explain in vain.

My thoughts wandered to how I started my career in IT - how everyone else starts - just as me. While in college - you have an ambiguous  aim - to be a software engineer and we all know just one profile - programmer. I want to be a programmer - the GEEK GOD. Then you are absorbed by some cool and famous 'blue' organization who are out there in most countries and they have R&D operations in India outside USA. Thats freaking cool isnt it?

You are not sure what is your domain - systems? network? storage? or some banking? You are also not sure what would be the profile? Is there anything else other than 'THE programmer'? If so, are they good enough as the programming? developer...duh!!

Beggars cannot be choosers eh! You either take the MNC offer or regret for life! Your first few months as a freshmen is super-cool; free beverages, health drinks, fruits, snacks, outings, lunch....Then you get your actual domain of work and the profile. You WANTED to be a PROGRAMMER! but lo! they put you to TEST a product! I wanna fix bug and not find one!!Weep! Yell! the world is doomed. Was I not good enough to be programmer? What was it did I lack? Later you accept the fact and try to do your best.

Image at

Until someone explains you how important each role is and how intelligent and equally skilled you must be as each has its own important role to play in the software business. The freshmen are still delusional,  they are still not sure if what they are doing right now is what they wanted to do....but for others .......

They are Software Engineers minting easy money and having good life :-)

Anyone wanna swap jobs eh?

Monday, June 13, 2011

Trapped in Terror

Gaddafi seems to be hiding underground fearing NATO air strikes against him. For someone who has amassed $120 billion of assets for him and his family, its not tough to build an underground bunker and have his own loyalists for cover.

He remains carefree, playing chess in an undisclosed location. The NATO coalition seem to be losing its momentum. To the rebels and the NATO coalition, Gaddafi's dictatorship is in decline, but for Gaddafi, it seems the coalition isnt going to be any game changer. The NATO allies have been calling other countries to join strike missions. They are close to military exhaustion; with costs running up to $1 billion by the end of this year.

He appears to be hiding in hospitals to avoid NATO air strikes and seems to be under pressure. He appears to be paranoid, believing in his own idea of dying a martyr than surrender. His military forces has not crumbled as quickly as the strategists had expected under NATO's superior military power. However, NATO strikes have crippled his power this deepening his anxiety.

But amidst all this, what is it for the citizens ravaged and torn?

NATO and its allies believe they are the moral authority to save the world and thus they can inflict their judgement on others and thereby police the world. They believe that the people would be grateful for liberating them from the clutches of a monster. Are we seeing another Taliban in the making here? The civilians need protection from the so called military strikes from NATO and pro-Gaddafi group. Does a no-fly zone help the civilians? So many of them are dead through the bombings on universities and hospitals. Many are injured, maimed for their life.What are NATO's ambitions? Clean sweep Gaddafi and liberate Libya - would people feel liberated at all? How can civilians be saved with bombs?

Its insanity in Libya - what is right, what is wrong? Millions displaced, broken societies, corruption, deaths, degraded infrastructure. Do we see an Iraq and Afghanistan in the making?

Saturday, June 11, 2011


My 3 day trek in the rain forests of Costa Rica - let me discover the rich flora and fauna of the place. We witnessed those mythical sort of creatures that were believed to be only an artist's impression; until you saw them live. For eg. the Morphus - the fairy tale butterfly; which seemed to be straight out of a fantasy land. Or the winged insect which had helicopter like rotor blades - if you remember the movie Avatar; there are some flying creatures of that sort.

The glowing plants in Avatar? Yeah! We saw glowing mushrooms during our trek. Mushrooms - variety of them, different hues and textures. I wanted to dedicate one entire post on those mushrooms. So long, here they are - For your eyes only :-)

I forgot many of the names. But can still remember their texture. This one was like a slice of cheese :)

Woody, observe the rings on them, seems to be telling their age!!

A delicate brown and white border. Fashionable mushroom :)

The beauty of them all. This reddish orange cup shaped one is called Cocaina.

Another version of Cocaina - smaller and hairy.


Mounds of them - surviving on dead wood.

Bunch of cocainas :) This branch was lying on the ground, William planted it upright while Gautam clicked this picture.

This one looked like stale bread.


Feels like skin peeling out - It was rubbery to touch.

Wormy fungus!

I forgot its name.

This is the glowing mushroom. We picked few to take back to our camping area.

Close resemblance to the button mushroom.


Wednesday, June 8, 2011

Struggle of a polyglot

I am very fluent in four languages and can do decent in two other languages and blabber my way out in one other language. So I will just go ahead and call myself a polyglot. Growing up in a cosmo-city as Bangalore introduces you to different culture and languages. Also, its easy and common in our country to know more than a couple of languages with so many different lingua franca.

Someone has told "know one language, you are born once but know more languages and you are born many times". It has been easy for me to pick/follow languages - maybe due to my intuitive nature and that keen interest to learn something new.

So whats the struggle with knowing more than a couple of languages. The struggle is a bit more if you are a woman. You know, its difficult to keep a straight face and behave as if you understood nothing when a group of guys pass lewd or funny comments in their native tongue. Or when you are being scolded for some mischief you committed; and want to get away. You understand whats being hurled at you and yet put up that "I dont understand" face.

Anyway, I picked up bits of Spanish during my Costa Rican vacation. Some words in Spanish are similar to English. For e.g - comprenda, agua,  ambiente, perfecta, temperatura, cafe etc. This similarity is an advantage and you can follow what is being told. Thats how we could dabble with other Indian languages that follow these sort of similar pattern right? If you have a keen mind, its easy.

Well, you sure cant master the slang and the rhythm which only a native person could. This very reason makes it tough sometimes -  for e.g. malayalam. I can speak the language but can never ever get that tone unique to the language.

I have been indulging in an amusing yet exhausting practice since the time I have known William - our Costa Rican guide. He is a gregarious guy; with special fondness to women ;-) Well, on a serious note; he is a nice fellow. Whenever we bump into each other online, we start chatting. But here is the catch. He can speak English but cant write English. So our conversation would be in; what else but Espanol.

It so happens that I can follow what he says but when I have to respond; I need a translator. At times, with his unique spelling for few words; it becomes dificil de comprender. With online translators now; its not as bad as it seems. Translators at your disposal - you dont really need to know a language. But at times; when it gets out of hand for me to respond; I just insert a smiley with a Si

It sure works. I was asked to learn Espanaol as his writing in English is bad. But that was not the reason for me to inquire about Espanol classes at a Spanish coaching class; this was an opportunity to learn a new language - a foreign language. I could not enroll for the weekend classes and now they dont have a weekend batch yet.

I was talking to William yesterday and had to go through that tedious procedure. That makes me inclined towards learning Spanish; why not? Its worlds fastest growing and it seems easy to pick up. Thinking about languages, I quit midway learning Gujarati and Punjabi. I didnt quit, my teachers stopped midway.

Gujju and Punjabi teachers, where are you?

Monday, June 6, 2011

Mind is a monkey

Whoever coined this term, sure must have gone through so much.

Once, its just not under your control and keeps wandering across forts you dont want it to, other times it just is a sweetie pie. Lot of thoughts, heck a lot of thoughts, feelings, opinions.........

Why are we so complicated? It would be tad easy if everyone thought on the same lines, isnt it? Its such a herculean task to do so, uummpphhh!! Just the other day, I was really embarrassed of a situation. Yeah! I got into it, my inquisitive nature has done more harm to me than good. It requires some level of discipline to be instilled in me to curb my curious nature. Then, I brood for entire 3 days - replaying the incident in my mind - again and again to figure out what went wrong, where did it go wrong or why did it ever happen in the first place.

I wasted 3 whole days - unable to concentrate at work; the series of events being replayed on my mind to such a level that I dream something related to it! I was expecting something positive to happen. Was I hopeful? Yeah, sort of, for the way things turned out. Dont ask me what it was. I am not going to say.

On second thoughts, yeah its me! That is how I have always been. I had to go through the grind. Was there any other way out? Knowing me well, I dont think so. This is how things 'end' for me. Labor hard, labor even harder to realize the truth, disbelief over something that ended, retrospect as to what really went wrong, conclude that nothing was wrong but it had to end, mull if things just take a sudden turn even though everything was fine! Is this how the events are governed?

Maybe thats how it is with me. Aww, enough of rambling. Since the past 2 weeks, most of the fishes passed away. "Passed away" is such a noble word for the fishes, no? They are the least responsive pets one could have. You dont really connect with them. So, its been that each morning I wake up to see one of them floating - dead, colorless all the charm gone.

Nature treats every life the same way isnt it? Its not partial. Anyway, I notice one of them is dead, promptly get the net, remove it away and dispose it off. I was wondering if I would treat a death of say a cat or a dog in a nonchalant way as this? I dont think so. Why not? Is that because we do not connect with those fishes at the emotional level as we would with the dogs or cats?

So life is valued based on the emotional proximity? Ummmm...something to ponder more! Yeah, so going back to that episode; yeah it disconcerted me when I revisited the way I handled the situation. I should have just not cared! I didnt care long enough but yet...should have damn cared even a wee bit! But me being me! who exacerbates even a simplest of emotion with a slogan "I am considerate" needs some spanking for sure is what I thought.

Anyway, as everything else, I learnt a lesson. Never ever be curious unless it is really going to benefit you. But have I ever learnt a lesson? ever?

Friday, June 3, 2011

Our Inglees

"Rain is falling....chama cham cham" - Rings a bell? This is the first line of a Hindi song.

Well this is the time of the year when "rain is falling". They always fall during this time of the year and soothe the thirsty soul and the weathered trees :-)

Err...did you spot anything wrong? What was that? And how many actually spotted it? A stickler for 'correct' English would thump and say "Say its raining" (Observe my audacity of missing out on that apostrophe). But its so widely and commonly accepted that the wrong becomes the new right. Is there such thing as correct usage in spoken English? How many of us do care? Is there a correct English at all? You might more often than not witness amusing statements as "Aroma is coming" and "I became pass" :-)

We aspire to learn, read, write and speak the language which our colonial rulers brought with them. Mind rules over matter, so we have 'improvised' the language with out own regional concoction  - thus bringing in Bonglish and the Tanglish and the Hinglish and the Kanglish.......Our mother tongue rules our mind, we tend to think in our native tongue and transliterate our thoughts to English. Boom! we have our own unique version with entertainment abounds when your relatives want to "see a girl" for you and finalize to "give that girl" to you. As a result you have the "photo removing" sessions :-)

Remember the advice to think in English and encouragement to learn new words and use them to improve the vocabulary while in school? Then, dont you think we would miss out on gems as "We sat there simply simply" to mean "Hum wahan baithein the chup-chupke". How often do we say "We came to know" translating from "Sunne mein aaya".

Or the sentences that arise out of a vernacular's absence of certain words. People "eat water" in Bengal. So do they eat whiskey or milk. Dont mistake a guy from Tamil Nadu as a cannibal when he says he ate "Gopi manchuri" for evening snacks. The letter P is redundant there where one gets to 'bose' for photo. 26 letters in English and few are redundant? Why not?

Its 'bhictory' to our Inglees no?