So long, and Thanks for all the fish!

The time has come to bid adieu and move on. I have decided to leave cognizant. This was my first job and the days spent at cognizant will definitely be something to remember and cherish. During my stay here at cognizant I got the time to stop and assess myself. I was able to get a hold on new perspectives that helped shape me (hopefully for the good ;) ). I got the chance to get to meet some really smart people and made some really good friends for life. The channel one blogs in cognizant were a source of great fun especially during my training days at cognizant. The kick ass 'empowered' sessions were a great learning and bonding experience. One of the things you tend to notice when you are at a company like cognizant, is the fact that different people across the vertical/organization seem to be solving variants or maybe different instances of the same problem, most of the time and they are so disconnected. This is sad, because you feel helpless that you cant seem to do much about it. Maybe I was just being plain lazy, by telling myself that its not my problem. Interestingly, I think this problem probably stems from the way an organization looks at revenue. In what may be is very crude terms, I think an IT services company probably looks at revenue as something like:

"more clients with problems => more resources to contract => more revenue"

You might want to point that there are groups of people (center of excellence etc) trying to come out with stuff to fix problems at a more generic scale across the organization but I think that’s a negligible number in comparison. A software product company instead looks at revenue completely differently. They go more like, "Hey that looks like a problem, can we come up with product that fixes similar problems?", and because of this intrinsically different way of looking at revenue, I think, break-through innovation is more likely to happen at a software product company. Of course, we need take risk potential into account, which is why they say building products is a risky business in comparison to providing services. Now that said, I also believe there is amazingly great potential to develop products at a totally different scale within a services company like cognizant. IF, and that is a big IF, only you could figure out a way to build a great community across the organization, somehow integrate everybody across a vertical, somehow! That would be an amazing feat to see. Talking about a Community and software development reminds me of FOSS. It also reminds me that I should stop, I digress too much!!

Bottom line: I have put in my papers and will be joining Amazon soon. I ll be working for something around the Amazon Kindle at their Chennai dev center. The very prospect of working with some of the smartest people in the industry sounds exciting. I think I had gotten a little too comfortable during my stay at cognizant and hope to learn a lot of new things that make my brain hurt (in a good way of course). Clichéd as it may sound, change is inevitable. You cant evolve if you resist change, I say!


Do the stars really determine my actions and the world around me? Do the planets really determine my compatibility with other people? Okay, I am not really pondering about how good astrology is anyway or if it works at all! My question merely is; what good is it anyway?! What good is a life where you consult your astrologer before you take a crap? I wonder, if it is a good time to wash my bottom. We do like to be in control of our lives don’t we? But surprising as it my sound, I think many of us are afraid of being in control of their lives. It is sometimes easier to take orders from someone than to take all the hard decisions yourself. You can always blame them if things go wrong. Decisions, decisions, decisions! Sample this hypothetical situation:

You have a problem and you go decide to go an astrologer for some reason this time. No, of course he doesn’t give you a solution to your problem. He doesn’t give you a different perspective or help you solve the problem at all. Instead the astrologer enables you, to take *your* shoddy problem and help you blame the darned *planets* for it! Voila! It isn’t your problem anymore! You don’t even have to bother looking for a solution now. Searching for a solution won’t help anyway, bad stuff happened to you because it had to happen, not because you did anything wrong, No sir! That darned project was doomed to fail anyway and there was nothing you could have done to stop it. Heck! You are not lazy; laziness is in your natal charts! Good time is just around the corner; let me sit my lazy ass down until then. As you can see, astrology can have amazingly therapeutic effects and eventually you are somebody who doesn’t do things because you want to, you do things because you are supposed to. You not only surrender your problems, you also surrender your mind and your life to astrology in the process. And before you know it you are slave to astrology! Life could be worse really! Imagine, you being in control of your own life. Imagine having to take the blame for all your misdoings. Imagine not being able to be in a position to blame it on the charts. All you will probably have do is tip the astrologer and maybe flash a  22.1023K gold ring with a sapphire crystal before you pee, but it’s all good.

Eleanor Roosevelt beautifully summed up the purpose of life.

“The purpose of life is to live it, to taste experience to the utmost, to reach out eagerly and without fear for newer and richer experience.”

Without free-will none of this makes any sense! Astrology is evil because it takes away from you, your free will, and your right to think or act on your own! You are a slave to something and you don’t even know it! Next time you do something, Stop and, ask yourself why you are doing what you are doing. It’s easy to say “Don’t do things blindly” but as simple as it may sound, it is sad to see so many people go astray, and get manipulated/influenced by not just astrology, but various other things on an every day basis. Wake up. Life awaits you.

Update: Thanks to @Revs, I was able to find out about advanced research in evil-eye shielding techniques. BUY THIS Product NOW! Awesomeness in form of jewelry!  

The escape route!


With two three treks in the last one month, I must say, Chennai trekkers is certainly one of the best things that happened to me ! (Should I say thanks to the kameeni ? :P)

After a trek to the Ombattu Gudde on april 10th - 12th, self was doing what he does best, ["generally bumming around doing nothing"] until self spoke to one samyak kaninde about the escape route trek which was happening on from 1st - 3rd May. The nice guy that he was, he said it would be possible to accomodate me despite the trek being heavily overbooked! I immediately signed up for the trek and boy am i glad i did! The nice person that I am, I made it a point (under due thankfulness one could say) to make the trek memorable for the very same samyak kaninde, by irritating him to no end throught the duration of the trek... ;) I also took the time to call up each and every one of my friends and make them all jealous. [Sigh! Sometimes i think why am i so nice? :P]

[Photo by: Mithun]

The trek:
The day:April 30th 2009
The time: 10.00 pm

All of us who were gathered at the guindy bus stop boarded the chartered bus to kodaikanal, the excitement was inevitable! To our dismay the bus we took from Chennai was extremely slow! I think it probably had the engine of a TVS-XL moped! It took a whooping 4 hours just to climb the kodai ghat section! 57kms in around 4 hours! It was averaging 12 kms per hour. In the middle a few of us got down from the bus and choose to walk / jog along with the bus as we were bored sitting inside the bus. Finally we reached kodaikanal around 2.30! We started the trek from the Caps valley at around 4pm! Trekking through through the enchanting Shola forest is something I can never put to words! (read: author is on an all time low on vocabulary and wants the world to move beyond words and read minds :P) . The moment i entered the forest, I just fell in love with the place! The terrain was totally so awesome, it was like walking on a mattress! We saw a half decayed dead bison as soon as we entered the forest and sure enough you could hear them cameras click. After 4 hours of easy hiking we reached the camp site near the berijam lake at 8pm. This surely was a royal trek owing to the fact that this time it wasn't maagi noodles or something we cooked ourselves for lunch/dinner but we actually had cooks which the local guide (mani) hired to cook for us! Hot sambar rice with cabbage porriyal was served for dinner and most of them hit the sack in a couple of empty cottages. And since we had two tents, 8 of us slept in those two playing uno till 12.30 in the night and then we hit the sack. Stepping out of the tent the next morning, one could see awesome mist rising from the road, the lake and all this coupled with the sunlight! You just couldn't ask for more. Lay down and bask in the sun all day, what more do you want from life? A lot of us who woke up a bit early choose to take a walk around the place and see the lake and of course take photographs! The second day of trekking began with a heavy breakfast and we packed biriyani which was cooked by some awesome cooks mani had arranged. Sure enough as we started the trek and a little while later we saw a dead bison again! The second time around people were took photos holding the bison skull by the horns and what not! At around 11am, we encountered a small stream, where most of the crowd jumped in! After a while we came across a beautiful virgin lake (where a few people jumped in again) and we had lunch by the lake. A very heavy and scrumptious lunch! Vegetable biriyani, onion raitha, and pickle! Ravi Ghosh (One of the organizers and my friend) had bought a lot of chocolates and snacks for everyone! The second day trek ended around 3.30 and left everyone wanting for more. We reached a village called kavunji from where we were supposed to go to natampatti and camp for the night. A van was arranged to take people from that village to natampatti in three trips, with 20 people in each trip (read: If i haven't told you already, there were 57 people on the trek and for all those who don't know 60/3 = 20 :P). Some people including me choose to walk / jog behind the van to reach natampatti. Some guy travelled on top of the van i.e on the luggage carrier, sure seemed like fun! After reaching natampatti, the totally enthusiastic crowd couldn't just sit simply! We played a couple games of kabbadi with 12 people playing and a whole lot of spectators and photographers!! Kabbadi or any game for that matter is so much fun especially when your team wins twice in a row! ;-) Only one word could stop the game and that was around 5.30 pm when some one mentioned on word - "waterfall". We hiked a small distance to take a look at the waterfall and then reach a village! We spent time interacting with the village people and looking around the place and got back to the forest guest house by 8pm. After a dose of extremely spicy/hot chutney and semiya for dinner it was time for a camp fire! People were first reluctant to sing and it was only samyak who entertained the lot but in a while the enthusiasm got to the crowd everyone started singing and even started dancing around the fire!! Followed by the camp fire, we had a couple games of UNO before we went to sleep. The first two days of the trek were so much like a picnic or a college tour given the small distances covered and also due to the very enthusiastic and fun loving group! On the third day, everyone was taken by a surprise after two days of slacking! ;-) We actually got to do some decent trekking and we covered approximately a distance of 25kms on the third day. Day 3 was also the day when on more than on occasion we ended up searching for people who we thought were lost. Firstly padmini (a fellow trekker) had told sam and couple other guys who were responsible for sweeping the crowd, to wait for 5 mins as she had to attend to nature's call. She was done with that and the moved ahead with the crowd while sam, ravi , vivek and gowri were waiting for her. After a while gowri and sam got impatient and went ahead to ask if anyone saw her but since she was long gone these guys couldn't have seen her. So these four people started searching for her in every corner of the jungle shouting her name. Meanwhile she reached first set of people who were waiting for everyone to regroup. Thats when the saranya and gang reached the regroup point and informed us that 4 people were asking for padmini and looking for her. Me and brijesh ran back to the sweeper gang who left no stone unturned in searching for padmini! Towards the end of the day yet again when we were waiting for the last 3-4 people to reach kovilur, where the trek ended and wondering why they had not yet come. Brijesh and ravi ghosh decided to go back and search for this gang! Apparently our guide mani also had a sweeper who sweeper had taken these last 4 people directly to place where the jeeps were waiting (via some shortcut) and hence we missed them . Sam came to call us and inform us that the last 4 guys had already reached the jeeps. Finally as we were getting back to the jeeps we realized vivek who was with us went missing and sam ran up again to look for vivek but vivek had taken a different route and already reached the jeep ! Me and ravi walked a little bit to call sam and finally called it a day! With 13-14 people crammed in each jeep we reached from kovilur to munnar and caught the bus to bodi where our chartered bus to Chennai awaited our arrival...

Trekking in the eastern Himalaya – Part 1

On the way to moley

Standing beside the trekkers hut at Sandakphu which is at an altitude of 3636 meters, with temperature hitting five degrees below zero, on the loftiest peak in the Singalila range, posing for a photograph wearing nothing but underwear might not actually sound like your idea of good fun but you are not me and 'to hell with caution', I say! Although it wasn't anything that was a part of the plan but it did happen and I did stand there to embrace the cold wind on my face and my ass, to pose for the photograph. It was shot on raj's camera and sadly, he misplaced his camera on the way back. So if you find a camera in the eastern Himalayas that contains a couple of dudes standing in their undies please be kind to return the camera to the author and please be kind enough to not misuse the photographs. :D

The Sandakphu trek was organized by Diwakar of Chennai trekkers (Chennai trekkers is certainly one of the reasons I am liking Chennai!) and was certainly a fun and adventurous experience. Fifteen had registered to go on this awesome trek, and in accord with that self and Hari had showed up at 5.45 am on 19th of December 2008 at Chennai central. Eleven of us (me, hari, kunal, shaji, diwakar, swaroop, sai, krish, raj, santosh and madhu) had planned to leave from Chennai to New Jalpaiguri by train and another four would join us at New Jalpaiguri and Maneybhanjang. The train journey took about two days and we reached NJP at around 10pm on the second day.Bang outside the NJP railway station there were a host of dhabas/restaurants to cater to our growling stomachs. We also did see a few hotels serving South Indian dishes ;)

We had decided to spend the night at NJP and found ourselves a lodge near the railway station. Although NJP is in the plains, it must have been around 19 degrees at 6 in the morning which was pretty cold comparing to Chennai standards. After taking bath with ice cold water we had breakfast at NJP and left for Maneybhanjang in two Tata Sumos. We were 13 now because of the fact that Horst and Remy joined us at NJP , Alexadara and Ramani uncle would join us at Maneybhanjang. We reached Maneybhanjang by 3.30pm and took refuge at the kanchenjunga lodge for the night. The evening was spent walking around Maneybhanjang while the guides and porters were being arranged for the trek the next day by a couple of us. Maneybhanjang is a small village that is mostly used by trekkers as a base camp for treks into the Singalila national park. The national park is part of the eastern Himalayas and the two highest peaks of West Bengal, Sandakphu (3630 m) and Phalut (3600 m) are located on the Singalila ridge and inside the park.

Our trekking plan was as follows:

Day 1: Maneybhanjang to Garibas via tumling [18km]

Day 2: Garibas to Sandakphu [12km]

Day 3: Sandakphu to Phalut [21 km]

Day 4: Phalut to Gorkhey [18 km]

Day 5: Gorkhey to Rimbik [21km]

We had two buffer days just in case nature decided to play hard and in case of any other emergencies. We carried sleeping mats, tents, sleeping bags, a stove and lots of extra stuff which was unnecessary on this trekking route given the availability of trekkers huts and cooked food all the way upto phalut but the plan was to carry all that in case of emergency and we were hiring quite a number of porters. I should say I was tempted to ask for a porter to carry my back-breaking back pack, (Ah! the luxury of traveling without the back pack) but I decided to do without one.

It would get dark by five in the evening in these places and as it turned six on the clock and some of were enjoying whiskey followed by food at 7.30. Most of us hit the sack by 11pm. The trek was to begin the next day and the very thought was exciting.

The post seems to be getting pretty big and so I ll break here and continue with this on my next post.

Of Beaches and Ice Creams

Sit down on the sand, facing the infinite array of dancing waves that come towards you with vigor and then as if in submission die down at the shoreline, you feel unusually serene. You posterior feels a little uncomfortable though. You try to adjust yourself to better suit you and yet the feeling of someone jabbing your rear end with a stick does not go away. Stirred up by this you investigate to find the culprit, an ear of grilled corn that was gnawed on for a considerable amount of time and strategically placed under your ass. Ah! Beaches are certainly wonderful places that they are.

Last week I was at besant nagar beach doing what you do at a beach. Kite flying, eat bajji, the usual running by the shoreline and then there is the occasional throwing-a-friend-into-the-water. In one word it can all be simply described as “Fun”. So here we are having fun and I realize that you can’t have fun without ice-creams. No sir, not quite possible if there is an Ice cream vendor in your vicinity! Hence I walk on the nearest kwality walls ice cream wala to have an ice cream. I figure out I want the almond fudge ice cream. Voila! I was hogging on the almond fudge ice cream with the wrapper in one hand and then more or less seventy five seconds later process of ice cream eating was done. I turn to the ice-cream seller and look for a dustbin that these ice cream vendors around the beach usually carry with their ice cream stand. Not able to find one attached, I gently ask the guy “Dustbin illaiya?” He extends his hand as if to ask for something and grunts. He seems to want my ice cream wrapper which I hand over to him with a smile. He shifts to the side of the ice cream stand thingy and drops the wrapper. “Silly of me not to notice the dustbin on the other side”, I say to myself as I move to notice the non-existent waste bin. Alas! The guy simply threw it on the beach! What a waste! I am infuriated but who is to blame? Why is that that we do not have any bins whatsoever over the beach I ponder? Last time I had to carry the ice cream wrapper to the road side bin to drop it, and if you were on the other side of the beach, I’d say it was quite a walk. It was nice to notice ice cream vendors carrying nifty waste bins attached to their stands, the little part they play to keep the place clean. Anyways how difficult is it to carry, the shit you are responsible for, to the huge bin on the main road? Not a Herculean task I suppose. People like to talk of cleaner beaches in other foreign countries but the I wouldn’t be surprised to see the same person dropping a chocolate wrapper on the besant nagar beach. Agreed that it is very alluring to drop our shit and leave the cleaning to someone else, but at what cost?

I guess that’s the way it is! Lets fill the place up with trash until a bunch of service minded people from a large MNC{read:TCS} cant stand the scene and decide to clean it up. Newspapers laud these young lads time and again but if it weren’t for our trash, there wouldn’t be anything to clean and its no fun cleaning up an already clean beach is it?

Tagged AGAIN?!

Doesn't come as a surprise that revathi has tagged me yet again so that I get off my ass and in an attempt to complete the tag, revive this dormant blog of mine.

This tag requires me to pen down a bit about myself. Now how difficult is that? I do not know about normal people but when you are as ignorant as me, self introspection is the last thing you should be doing. Oh well here goes nothing.

Six whatever s about me:

What is a whatever? Frankly this little tag gives not set of rules. There sure is quite some ambiguity which i shall use to my benefit :P

1. I think out aloud sometimes. Chalo, Lets put it differently , I talk to myself. Not often but I do talk to myself. At times I debate with myself, but well thats a very rare thing.
2.I am riding the bike and as people overtake me and give me the wtf-you-think-you-are-doing-look. OK ok! I missed the part where I am listening to music on the earphones, let my hands go, and sway with the fast paced song as the bike is cruising at 70km/hr.When you are on a bike with the right music , the right mood and the road being sufficiently empty[OH! I am cautious you see] try this! Its an exhilarating experience. Trust me!
Err actually dont try that! Dont SUE me if you break your head!
3.I am sitting in front of the computer and chatting away to glory when my mom is screaming my name out loud for the tenth time.I come out of my trance and react just before I get my ass kicked. SIGH! I can do only one thing at a time. I have this one track mind that somehow i cannot concentrate for more than one thing at a time.I can hear the other person screaming but it takes me a while to process it. I guess i don't have a very good preemptive scheduler.
4.I am color blind. I cannot differentiate between certain shades of yellow/green and between certain shades of brown. For this fact I avoid describing anything by giving names to its various colors and the like.
5.I cannot sing. Forget singing! I talk in monotone. My voice is lifeless, I realized that only after I heard a recorded me talking. I somehow talk in an assumption that people who know me understand me and about who dont, oh well I am sorry I cant help it. I try to wish a certain someone "Happy Birthday" , I sound like I am half asleep, I hate the person and I am wishing them just because I am being forced to.
6.Its very difficult for me to wake up, I really need minimum 10 hour sleep. If you let me sleep I would wake up only at 6 in the evening and that too because of a grumbling stomach. I missed the first hour of college almost 50 percent of the time. I always used to show up at 10.30 or so college. I used to dream of waking up at 6 in the morning, get ready, have breakfast on time and go cooly to college before time at least on one day! It never happened.But now I see that changing. I am attempting to fiddle my internal clock until I get things right just to change things.

Five Things I miss write now:

Okay here goes in no particular order,
1.My mom's cooking! Home Food, Oh boy! I do miss home food more than anything.
2.I miss coimbatore, I love that city. Miss riding down the coimbatore roads with cool wind hitting your face.
3.I miss being with family. Not that I dont like being with friends mind you, this is a totally different thing :D
4.This one suddenly popped up from nowhere, I now miss playing team double catcher [Our appartment's customized version of hide and seek] It sure was fun! Good ol times!
5.I totally miss the dhaba we used to own at coimbatore. Sure was a jolly good time.

Ten Things that I want to achieve in a decade:

I could sum up the ten things in one line, "Break free from laziness, Get productive, GET A LIFE!" BBut let get a specific here, targets are nothing if not specific.

1.Learn a couple new programing languages, contribute to atleast one project on source forge. Learn a few dynamic algorithms properly.
2.Learn to cook. When I say cook , I mean at least a decent three course north indian meal.
3.Learn the guitar. At least learn the guitar so much that I can kneel down and play a nice romantic song when the need arises :P
4.Do more treks this year. Go on at least one trek to himalayas. Go kayaking, rafting and the like. Visit the north, explore south east india. Go on atleast one 8-10 day biking trip.
5.Get regular to the gym.
6.Learn dancing. Go for a dance class. Shake off the I-cant-dance inhibition.
7.Start a Dhaaba!!
8.Read at least 100 books over the decade. Which sounds like very less. But that sure is a big number for me.
9.Learn a foreign language. Atleast one!
10.Learn photography. Get a DSLR, Get good at photography.Learn photoshop.

Tagged Again!

Helllo People!

The last time i was here, it was because revathi tagged me. This time its sree.

Its a sad tag!
And when I say sad , I really mean sad.

I am supposed to turn to page 123 of a book near me , scroll to the fifth line and type the next 3 lines here. Now why would anyone want to read those three lines?

I am seated on my dingy bed , in my room as i notice the book nearest to me is "Atlas shrugged" by ayn rand. The pages are dogeared. The guy who loaned it to me saw the condition and cried out loud. I am to buy him a new book! BAH! I will not. :)

Being the voracious reader that I am, I am half way through this book and have been reading it from 6 months now. I have done like 4-5 sessions of reading. *grin* Okay now back to the tag. The three lines in atlas shrugged are boring. Now i turn to this other book. This is called "The DILBERT principle". Another book I stopped reading halfway. SIGH! Am i lazy or what? :)

PRELUDE [Page 122]

A man comes into a woman's office and offers to show her a report. The woman responds by saying, "Well I m a little busy right now"
Undeterred by this mild rebuff , the man will pull up a chair and proceed to chew up an hour of the woman's valuable time. Eventually the woman's productivity will be devoured by an endless parade of men who would rather talk to her than do work. Her career will begin death spiral, until eventually she becomes a bag lady.

Okay lets turn to what scott adams has to say on page 123. The tag requires me to write only lines 6,7 and 8 but I m going to be a spoil sport as usual and write the whole paragraph.

PAGE 123

A man comes into a woman's office and offers to show her a report. The woman responds by saying, "Ah shove it up your ass and die."
The man will be momentarily shocked. It is unlikely that he will pull up a chair. Nor will he experience any bonding. He will probably back slowly out the door. The woman's productivity will skyrocket.
But what about repercussions? The woman might someday need a favor from the man she verbally abused. Fortunately for her, all men are trained at birth to accept verbal abuse from women and get over it rather quickly.
And in the unlikely event that the man shows some hesitation to be helpful in the future, the situation can be smoothed over with the simple communication technique of saying "Do it now or I ll rip off your nuts and shove them down your throat."

MORAL OF THE STORY: Women who swear will fly up the corporate ladder faster than you think :)

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