Memories of a man

The earliest memory I have of him is from one evening in our old home. We had to collect potable water from a nearby tap in the township, since the well in our yard wasn't always so clean. I had just returned from the playground, and had mentioned on the way back as I hung on to his hand that I was thirsty. He had gone out right afterwards to fetch water with a bucket in hand. In the dark summer evening when the electricity was out, I saw him entering through the door with a towel wrapped around his waist, hauling a solid iron bucket of water and ignoring the sweltering stillness of the humid evening. I was probably two or three years old at the moment. I walked up to him and said, "Baba, I am very thirsty". That seemed to put a special speed into his step. He nodded his head and assured me, "Right away"; filled water into a large filter jug and poured out a glass for me. That sort of served as the model he set as a human being. My mom would say, "I neve

Why I don't want to give you my Whatsapp number

Dear cousins, colleagues, and ex-classmates who want to send me "forward"s - please don't ask for my Whatsapp number. We are already friends on Facebook - let's keep talking there. I will avoid giving you my number at all costs, even sometimes by breaking down lines of communication.

Let me explain why. You see, every morning when I wake up due to a "ding" notification from Facebook, and I open my messages to find this, I am not very pleased.

Thank you for wishing me a wonderful day. I hope you have one too. But poor grammar, generous number of periods and random capitalization of letters are not the way to make my morning any better. Things like this make me want to throw up!!

My heart bleeds and my brain farts every time I see things like this. You need relations? Try Tindr, or some such thing! Puhleeaz don't bug me for relationships - I have my share already!
And congratulations, by the way, on discovering the concept of memes. Oh you don…

The other side of the fence

 If you grew up in a suburb and played cricket or any game within the neighborhood, then you must be aware of the monster. I speak, of course, of the fat neighborhood aunty or the scowling old uncle who will threaten and curse you to eternal damnation if the cricket ball ever fell in their garden patch. You remember, of course, that the garden was not a Mughal garden. Or an extensive farm of epic proportions. It was, in fact, just a small 6-foot by 6-foot patch of land, neatly divided into four little squares. How on earth someone would cram so many plants into that space was a wonder by itself. My friends would tell me horror stories of this aunty who cuts up tennis balls in front of the children, just to make them realize that they should take the game elsewhere. Or that crazy half-naked uncle who caught hold of little Chintu sneaking in to get the ball, and held him hostage for an hour (even threatened to call the police). Yeah - it was ugly.

 As a grown up person (at least I'…

Time to Upgrade

When I was growing up, Parker pens were a big deal. Those special pens were expensive and given as gifts on special occasions. Think of your sacred thread ceremony (পৈতে), the birthday where you also happened to top your class final exams, or the special uncle who visited after five years and had to prove that he was well off - that is when you received one.

Almost as a rule, we would stash those away. Possibly to give away as gifts to other kids on special occasions, or to be opened when the "time was right". I revered these pens, of course, and any time I heard of a professor or someone who wrote with one of those, it immediately elevated them into a haloed status for me. It either symbolized wealth, or erudition, or both.

On that day, we were about to go to a sacred thread ceremony of some social acquaintance. I was tasked with finding a good pen set from our cupboard where these were stored. I started going through these one by one. For those of you unfamiliar with the …

Get a better job referral - don't just send a resume

 A lot of my friends keep asking me for a referral in my company. However, the chances of getting hired depends a lot on not just their skills or their resume, but also on how many people the resume reaches, even if the job requirements are remotely related. While people often talk about going through your connections and network to get the best referrals and positions, you have to make the process of forwarding your resume as smooth as possible.
 The purpose of this post is two-fold. The first is that I cannot repeat this to everyone who sends me a resume. Secondly (and more importantly), the topic is delicate for anyone who really wants a job, but I cannot tell them that you are screwing your own chances by just sending a resume. Consider this anonymous feedback for public good.

1. Make a better resume As oft-repeated as this is, there cannot be a simpler tip to implement. Please take a look at Gayle's resume tips here: No objectives, accomplish…

To the women of the world

It feels strange to be writing this, but perhaps every man on earth should say this at least once in their lifetime. To all the women in the world, "Thank you"!
Thank you for sticking around with us, thank you for keeping us sane and for keeping us from killing each other. One fine morning, if a spaceship appeared on the horizon and you had the option of leaving all men behind for even a day, I am certain we'll probably go extinct as a species. If you decide to stick around, however, it will be your greatness, and just sheer dumb luck on our part.
I stand horrified at all of the things that my brethren have meted out to you over the years. Incidents that happen day in and day out that are no less than medieval torture. The ones we get to know are few: be it the rape of the young student in Delhi past December, or the cut up body of the rape victim that was recently returned in Bengal. What were the last few hours like, of those victims who had so much to see and enjoy i…

Dear Ms Mayer, I don't want to work from home

Disclaimer: I don't work for Yahoo, nor should the following be taken up as a commentary about my company's work-from-home policies. These are just my opinion about working remotely in general.

TL;DR: If you want to stop work-from-home policies, let there be absolutely no work done after 5 pm. No late night email exchanges, no after-hours conference calls, etc.
The latest brouhaha over Yahoo's no-work-from-home policy has its fair share of support as well as opponents. Working mothers are up in arms against this policy, and so are some parents who don't want to miss their kids' school plays or just stay at home one day to attend to their sick child. But as some people admit, the policy is abused more often that not. You can get your afternoon siesta, run errands, and literally run a side job/startup while putting in minimal effort for the stuff that you actually get paid for.

I would personally prefer a little more flexible policy. This makes sense: No more remote w…

Skyfall in context

I watched Skyfall (quite) a few days back. Yes, the James Bond movie that came on the 50th year anniversary. Daniel Craig is the new Bond, following an illustrious list of people from Sean Connery to Pierce Brosnan. Like many others, I certainly believe that Daniel Craig's portrayal of James Bond has been very novel - his scriptwriters and directors have presented a rare look into the "real" world of the spy. The rosiness of the life has been removed, and a much more brutal (and realistic) character has been developed. It has been a bold, a necessary and a successful transition.

Before we talk of transitions, though, we must establish what was status quo. James Bond represented much more than a good action movie to me, and I believe to many many young boys growing up like me. The essential thrill of a movie like James Bond is that they represent the ultimate fantasy life within the bounds of reality as we know it. Allow me to explain the paradox. You see, when you watch…

What do we not know about the ground realities in Pakistan?

The next sentence is going to be extremely politically incorrect, in the view of a few people. Some, on the other hand, would be vigorously nodding their heads in agreement. The rest of the post after the sentence is dedicated to those who will be nodding their heads.
In India, and in most of the Western world, the nation of Pakistan is generally regarded as a hotbed for fostering terrorists, giving them shelter, etc.  But in the wake of the recent bomb blast that killed so many people (yet again), I am reminded of this TED talk: we must be getting a single sided story!

So if you look at the List of terrorist incidents in Pakistan since 2001, it is horrifying that a nation of 187 million people would have over 35,000 deaths just from terrorist attacks in 10 years. Imagine that - thirty five thousand people dead, just due to terrorist attacks, in a decade!

Now, don't come to me with stats from other nations, especially India. We rank 4th on the Global Terrorism Index and India is …

The burden of proof

"90% of all quotes on the internet are made up" - Abraham Lincoln.

 I cannot tell you the number of times I have had to leave that statement as a comment on Facebook. Consider this Facebook "forward", if you will:

 It is attributed to Dr. APJ Abdul Kalam because it suits the narrative that my friend wants to believe in. A lot of you will probably doubt if Dr. Kalam ever said that. I suspect (actually, fervently hope) that my friend who posted this also had a flicker of doubt the source. But he went ahead and posted it anyway.

 That is what scares me the most. People are willing to "forward" anything that tickles their funny bone. I have grumbled about silly email forwards before. But Facebook takes it to a whole new level. This time, you don't even need to fill out the "To:" field. You can just "share" it on your timeline and people will read it. I am surprised at the incredible gullibility of people, and sometimes just feel asham…

The moment lost in time

Like a soul lost without its body, I drift across the wide seas. I know not, when this shall end. But whoever said "distance makes the heart grow fonder", lied. It does not. Distance tears the heart apart. It makes you roam around in helpless rage, in a frustration of inexplicable sadness. I looked up at the flights leaving the airport runway each evening... the engines gunning, the sound of the airplane cutting through air, the soft dimming of the roar as soon as the plane lifts off, and then you can see the flight soaring into the distance, hurtling through thin air towards the one you love.

It is a horrible experience, to wake up each morning into an unfamiliar room. Then the memory comes rushing back to me. Why am I here? What am I doing? How will this day turn out? Will I be able to go back today? It is a weird feeling to be in - a day when you look forward to the weekdays, since the rest of the world works on these days. You live in a society, remember? Others need to…

Delayed gratification and the Indian lunch menu

A very interesting research study once came out of Stanford University, led by Prof Walter Mischel. It was called the Marshmallow test. They put four-year-old kids in a small room, put a small toffee in front of them and gave them two choices. If the child could wait for 10 mins, he/she will get two chocolates. If, however, the kid decided to just eat the candy right there and not eat it, that would be the end of the experiment... no more extra chocolates for the kids. Watch the video below of how some kids struggled against the inner urge and temptation :)

Later on, they kept track of what happened to each of these children... how did they do when they grew up? As it turns out, the children who were able to hold off that temptation successfully and got two chocolates as the reward did extremely well in life. The ones who were the quickest to jump the gun were also the ones who ended up in gangs, became small-time crooks, etc.

This concept of "holding off" or working hard i…

To work for free

It all began when a professor at my (undergraduate) college showed up in our lab and asked, "So who here is the guy who knows everything about computers?".

Admittedly, such people have never existed. However, for all practical purposes, when a professor in his fifties comes and asks the system administrator of the college about "computers", you can be reasonably sure that the sys admin has the skills to do/fix whatever the professor is looking for. The system administrator in this case being yours truly, and the professor being someone not from Computer Sciences (no offence!).

Like any good "computer-person", I dutifully asked, "What do you need? I am the system administrator"

He literally looked me up and down, and said, "No, who is the person here who knows everything here? The person who takes care of all this?". He was pointing at all the 100+ computers around the room.

Had it been the Sudipta of today, I would have deferred to an…

To have what isn't yours

To have what isn't yours: is it stealing or sheer good luck? To most people, the moral compass swings depending on the manner in which you came across the object in question. For example, if you found a hundred rupee note while you were taking your morning stroll, most people would think it is just their luck and would pick up the money. However, if you just saw that the note dropped off someone's pocket in front of you, will you still silently pocket the money or will you call the man and let him know? Like I mentioned, the "manner" of acquisition of the object matters most when deciding if it is morally self-permissible to have it.

What you do with it is a completely different question: some would donate it to a beggar or charity nearby, others would just add it to their wallet. Let us not digress there for now.

Guilt-free rationalization of being the beneficiary of an error is an art to be learned. Allow me to explain. Shoplifting and clerical errors are part of …

The debate over cyber privacy

Like most things in life, there are two sides to "personalization" on the web. In case you don't realize this, each time you googled for something while you were logged into gmail at the same time, Google kept track of your search. Not just that, it actually tracks which search results and links you click, how long you spent there before hitting the back button to return to the search screen. Google knows what you did each summer. This sounds creepy, right?

However, is this a bad thing, always? The short answer is that "it depends" (spoken like a true consultant!). It depends on what you consider a bad thing. I do admit, though, that being tracked "always" does send a shiver down my spine. If you think you are immune, (or you don't have a gmail account), don't flatter yourself. Unless you log out of Facebook each time you are done browsing, you will see a message on a lot of websites who you haven't "Like"-d yet. Usually, it wil…