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Tuesday, August 21, 2007

Tale of Mistake Identities

I all for "Self Expression", the overarching theme of most social networks, but sometimes its too much. I am fine if me or my friends want to express themselves through their preferred books, music, TV, even their profile photos (sometimes ridiculous snaps!!). But when people prefer to change their names for self expression, it becomes unbearable.

On my orkut profile, I see people with names like "Neo", "K A", "Pechchan Kaun", "G K .....", "Pyramid, Back to Beijing", "Guns n Roses", "Arijasoft is recruiting", "Princess", "Ç †–† ë ê ¦‹ ù™ ............................ ", "dadada ishtyleee BABA", "M J", "A Shredded Soul (But Then, Who Cares?)", "Rising from the ashes". Not just that, I find it impossible to recognize these people when they write a scrap. Many times, I dig around their profile page or their scrapbook to figure out who the f**k is this fella who is asking me what I did last weekend...

I guess they all want to express themselves as obscure unrecognizable, but eminently friendly acquaintances.

ps: Its moments like these that I thank the orderly fashion in which Facebook works where they don't allow you to change names without an approval from their end which purportedly checks for pornographic or derogatory names, but hopefully also checks for obscurity also. :-)

Wednesday, August 15, 2007

Independence Day Celebrations and Hangover

Wishing all Indians a very happy Independence Day, and, belatedly, all Pakistanis a very happy Independence Day.

I have had very fond memories of Aug 15 celebrations all my life; of getting together at our society for flag hoisting; of listening to PM speeches; of listening to some great patriotic songs (which I am doing today too from a special Patriotic Songs CD I had burnt some time back); of distributing sweets; of flying kites in Delhi (from the roof top with Pepsi and some songs playing); debating the future of this country with friends like Tarun, Sujay and Amit Ahuja; and so on.

But as far a memories go, the IITK celebrations takes the cake. I happened to be at Hall 4 at IITK, where I was the President also. Our manager, NarainDa used to arrange for the Flag Hoisting and sweets. Early morning, a small sleepy bunch of students used to gather to celebrate and our Wardens, Prof Gupta, Prof Biswas and Prof Eswaran used to get together for the hoisting. Prof Eswaran even gave a great speech in 2003. I distinctly recall being a part of all 4 days (2 IDays and 2 R-Days) for the celebrations and thoroughly enjoying it. I even recall my friend Ritesh Gulabani also being there every time.

But as much as I loved the morning part of the celebrations, lunch onwards, the hangover would kick in. Which hangover am I talking about? the one after some alcohol? no way. It is I-Day, dry day and I am damn serious about celebrating it in the right spirit (pun intended). The hangover was the food hangover. Because of 15-Aug being a mandatory off, the mess would close off from lunch onwards. So, you were left to eat at the Ashok's Canteen. The overworked canteen could not serve you dinner in anything short of 1 hour after ordering. And the usually relaxing lawn outside the canteen used to seem like an overcrowded place.

Eventually, you ended up having a dinner somehow, caught some sleep, started next day, had lunch and came back in the evening for the regular cup of tea. And thats when you caught the second half of the IDay hangover. The overworked canteen staff would catch an off the day after and you were then left looking out for the strong cup of hot-hot tea you were so used to.

Of all things I will celebrate on this I-day, I want to pay my tributes to both the Mess and the Canteen staff for working so well to make sure that our stomachs were fill, I Day or not. Kudos to them.

Thursday, August 09, 2007

Reporting at its best

I have been a reader of Times of India for the past 15 years. The early part of that time was spent in general admiration of a good newspaper that brought about the views of the Post Liberalization phase of India. Then came along a period when TOI was not making such a unique impact, but still there seemed no reason to change.

Of late, TOI has pretty much been downright gibberish. I regularly read the front page, the business and sports pages. Every day, I end up finding multiple spelling and Grammatical mistakes. I was joking the other day that if I marked a every mistake in the newspaper and kept a record of such 30 days, I might as well present it for a chance to become TOI's editor.

Yesterday, for instance, they chose to put "A pair of Pathans for Indian Cricket" on the home page. Now, it doesn't make any sense. For one, it was hardly interesting news. While Irfan Pathan has been consistently failing recently, Yusuf Pathan has been pretty much unknown and both of them playing together cannot possibly be compared to, say, the crisis in Pakistan or other more pressing issues. But no, there goes TOI glorifying "Pathan Pair".

Anyhow, looking out for alternatives, I bumped into this Rediff article about cricket, specially the upcoming third test. The article mentions that India has won only one series in England, that too in 1986. Where did the 1971 series go? Oh, that! The reporter adds that India ended up losing the series 1-0 as England squeezed through to 173. Now, what are we talking about?

To say that the article was horrible is demonstrated by the comments posted on the pages. Copying verbatim:

"While mentioning the 1971 Oval test the writer says above 'England managed to squeeze home by six wickets, chasing 173 for victory to clinch the three-Test series 1-0'. It was India that won the match with Abid Ali scoring winning runs after Chandrasekhar bowled England out for 101. Who can forget his match winning spell of 6 for 38? Please make sure to put correct information."


"There is another incorrect information. It says that the only series India won was in 1986. The fact is India won 2 series in England, once in 1971 and then in 1986. This reporter does not even know the facts and writing as if he is the expert. What kind of reporting is this?"

Oh, by the way, it took me less than 5 minutes to figure out the records on India England series played in England with India having won.

ps: I have to start finding a new newspaper. Any suggestions.

Friday, August 03, 2007

Ad for bad boss

Talking about bad bosses, I would have almost missed noticing a mail pointing me to this amazingly hilarious advertisement for CEO of Jindal Aluminium. Quoting from there, job responsibility:

"continously monitoring all departments and taking stem action on employees for shirking duty inefficiency lapses non performance etc"

and from the Ideal-Candidate-Section:

"must be able to handle senior people executives intellectuals etc. whose habit is to make excuses followed by arguments instead of admitting and improving thus wasting time and energy. Person who is not tough and able to take strict action (like & live wire) need not apply.
No softness or looseness and not giving attitude or supporting employees ignoring the interest of the company. "

Now, thats what I call is a truly interesting and challenging assignment. :-) Thanks to Anil Bijlani and V N Bhattarcharya through whom I received a mail with pointing to this ad.

Addicted to LinkedIn

More than a year back, when I was working with Chikki at Trilogy, I asked him why I should be registering on LinkedIn when I already have an account at Orkut, where I have already added my friends. "Orkut is for fun, LinkedIn is for career" - pat came the reply. Maybe he was right then.

Fast forward to Circa 2007, I never spend any time on Orkut and I can't live a day without spending time on LinkedIn. And the reason is, LinkedIn is actually fun. I love a bunch of features - Questions and Answers (for a bit of knowledge and lots of fun, though I have to admit that the funny threads are hard to come by, but Ajay's posts are a start); "Who has viewed my profile" and "People who you may know";

I also like that I can create a neat little public profile and spread it using badges like the one I have on this blog. There is also some rumors that LinkedIn might open up a platform similar to Facebook. Considering the huge number of Job postings by LinkedIn on LinkedIn, I guess that the API is not too far away :-)

CIO and wicked bosses

I am sure all of us have a little crib about our bosses to share with colleagues and friends. Ajay Ohri, who happens to be the "Chief Imagination Officer" at IWannaCrib has posted two amazing QA threads on LinkedIn - About bad bosses and stupid organization policy.

Though I have worked across a few companies, I am yet to come across one who can get into Ohri's thread. But I did have one tiff with a really really stupid organization policy. In the interest of good relations with the person involved, I will keep it as anonymous as possible, but if you figure it out, thats fine too..

I used to work at a place where we moved into a new location and the boss there decided, in the interest of cost savings, not to buy bottled water for the employees and instead instructed to have the empty mineral water 20L bottles to be filled with normal tap water. Eventually, everybody figured out that the water was bad (it used to stink and be yellow in color) and complained. He decided to prove that the water was clean by bringing in a Path Lab to test the water and mailed everybody the report from them claiming it was clean.

Well, the water obviously was not clean and everybody got sick of it and eventually started to bring in water from their homes. To restore employee confidence, he actually decided that the Path Lab tests should be conducted every week and the report mailed to everybody. I still do not believe that I did not mention "bad water" as the reason for my leaving. :-)

ps: My friend Jyothi pointed me that Seth had written something hilarious about toxic bosses.

Administrative note

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