Cerebral Shangrila

Wednesday, March 31, 2004

Alternate Careers - Part-1

I always keep wondering what I would have become had I not entered the IT Industry ( The IT Industry would definitely have been better off !! ) . Never at any point in my career was I fascinated by computers and it just turned out to be an accident. This series of posts is just an attempt to travel back in time and find out the ambitions I had at different phases in my career and a dig at myself.

I was in the 7th Standard when we relocated from T.Nagar to Nanganallur (An orthodox Suburb full of temples) in Madras. The new School , Chellammal Vidyalaya was one of the best things which happened to me. It was a very small School compared to my earlier School (Adarsh School in T.Nagar) and thus gave me a lot of cultural & academic freedom/oppurtunities to pursue.

My favourite subject at school turned out to be History. Since I used to be a voracious reader of Amar Chitra Katha,Poonthalir & Tinkle , I was very good at the subject knowing a lot of branch stories (Literal Translation of Kilai Kathaigal !!). . I also happened to listen to a Tamil Drama " Tughlaq" by Cho and was very inspired by the character Ibin Batutah (a Persian Historian in the play) . At that point I decided I wanted to become an Historian . I didn't know what Historians do (Probably still don't !) but nevertheless decided it was my dream. I was a big hit at School with the Historical Dates,Tales & folklore all of which lasted till 10th standard. By that time i realized there was no career worth pursuing in history and it was a quite goodbye to History.

On a positive note my fascination with history has still continued and helped me a lot during my numerous travels across India .

More on the next fascination .........................

Tuesday, March 30, 2004

Leadership Series

We have started a series of Lectures by eminent personalities at our workplace on Leadership. The First lecture was given by Bharatanatyam exponent Leela Samson. Last week the second lecture was delivered by Sandipan Deb ( Managing Editor , Outlook ) and the author of the Recent Book " IITans " (Sandipan is an Alumnus of IIT - Kgp & IIM - C ) .The Lecture was laced with self-deprecating humor and candor . He gave numerous examples of India Shining at the Research Institutions ( IISc,TIFR,IIT-M,IIT-Mum) . He was of the opinion that unless the Research facilities in premium institutes and rural entrepreneurship/education is encouraged , we still might miss the superpower bus . He spoke with a lot of affection about Prof.Ashok Jhunjhunwala of IIT- Madras , who is pioneering technology to the masses.

Monday, March 29, 2004

Hire ‘attitude’ and then teach the ‘skills'

Read this wonderful story in " Kumudam" .

One stormy night many years ago, an elderly man and his wife entered the lobby of a small hotel in Philadelphia. Trying to get out of the rain, the couple approached the front desk hoping to get some shelter for the night."Could you possibly give us a room here?" the husband asked. The clerk, a friendly man with a winning smile, looked at the couple and explained that there were three conventions in town.

"All of our rooms are taken," the clerk said. "But I can't send a nice couple like you out in the rain at one o'clock in the morning. Would you perhaps be willing to sleep in my room? It's not exactly a suite, but it will be good enough to make you folks comfortable for the night."

When the couple declined, the young man pressed on. "Don't worry about me; I'll make out just fine," the clerk told them. So the couple agreed.

As he paid his bill the next morning, the elderly man said to the clerk, "You are the kind of manager who should be the boss of the best hotel in the United States. Maybe someday I'll build one for you." As they drove away, the elderly couple agreed that the helpful clerk was indeed exceptional, as finding people who are both friendly and helpful isn't easy.

Two years passed. The clerk had almost forgotten the incident when he received a letter from the old man. It recalled that stormy night and enclosed a round-trip ticket to New York, asking the young man to pay them a visit.

The old man met him in New York, and led him to the corner of Fifth Avenue and 34th Street. He then pointed to a great new building there, a palace of reddish stone, with turrets and watchtowers thrusting up to the sky.

"That," said the older man, "is the hotel I have just built for you to manage."

"You must be joking," the young man said.

"I can assure you that I am not," said the older man, a sly smile playing around his mouth.

The old man's name was William Waldorf Astor, and the magnificent structure was the original Waldorf-Astoria Hotel. The young clerk who became its first manager was George C. Boldt.

Friday, March 26, 2004

Blood Donation

Its not just a Donation , It's a hope for millions. We Conducted a Blood Donation camp at our office yesterday and more than 250 employees donated blood. As Chairman of the Social Services Committee at my workplace , it was a wonderful learning experience for me in planning & executing such an event.

People fascinate me .I had the unique opportunity of interacting from very close quarters with my Team members,employees of my organization,Senior Management in my company,Doctors & Nurses from the Hospitals and office-bearers from Rotary Club ( we conducted the event in association with Rotary-Noida) . Over the years I have realized the ultimate winners are those who know how to jell with people .People management is an art. Gained some valuable insights on the above.

Wednesday, March 24, 2004

Autograph - A simple Story

Saw the tamil movie Autograph last weekend. I wasn't too keen on seeing it but at my brother's insistence agreed to see it for a few minutes but ended up seeing the whole movie. I have always believed a good story/screenplay is the hero of a movie. By that count, Autograph was a wonderfully etched movie with a simple story and powerful screenplay. Its one of those movies to which you can relate and have seen it happening to yourself or numerous friends of yours. Kudos to Director Cheran for making a Clean,decent film !!

Monday, March 22, 2004

Corporate Social Responsibility

Here is an article that I wrote on Corporate Social Responsibility for my company's in house Magazine.

SSC - Corporate social responsibility

"India is Shining" proclaim the newspaper Ads.The knowledge workers from India are transforming the Globe and the Services Sector is booming at an incredible rate. As India strives to emerge as the next super power, it still reels under the weight of its 260 million people living below the poverty line. The greatest challenge for the nation going forward is to abridge the deep chasm between the rich and the poor. Vision 2020 is not merely the statement of the President , its an oath worth pursuing for every Indian.

Corporate Social responsiveness is emerging as a beacon of light in India as companies endeavor to work for the under-privileged & poor. CSC India has been doing a wonderful job in contributing its mite to the upliftment of the under-privileged through its Social Services Committee (SSC).

At SSC , we have :

1. Helped Schools with Infrastructure & materials.
2. Organized Blood Donation Camps
3. Participated in Pulse Polio & Hepatitis-B vaccination drives.
4. Donated Clothes to the poor
5. Raised awareness on safe driving
6. Conducted health check-ups in slums

As Gandhiji Said "you must be the change you wish to see in the world".Social service starts at an individual,extends to the family,then to the society and ultimately to the Nation. Let us all redeem our tryst with destiny and pledge our support to social causes to uplift the nation towards its goal of economic & social prosperity.

At SSC , what we have done till now is just a drop in the Ocean.However , with all your whole hearted Support & encouragement we hope to achieve more and catapult our nation towards prosperity. As Robert Frost said " The woods are dark,lovely & deep. But I have promises to keep, and miles to go before I sleep,and miles to go before I sleep".

Abby Awards

It was O&M all the way at the Abbys ( Advertising Awards) . O&M Bagged the Campaign of the Year for the much celebrated HUTCH Ad ( It had to win !! ).

Saturday, March 20, 2004


18 major languages
6,400 castes and sub-castes
6 major religions
1,600 minor languages and dialects
52 major tribes
6 main ethnic groups
29 major festivals
7 union territories
28 states

Thursday, March 18, 2004

Rukmini Devi Arundale

I was fortunate enough to attend a lec-dem on Creativity by Bhartanatyam dansue Padmashri Leela Samson last week. She was a very eloquent speaker who was Humility personified & attributed most of her success to her Guru Rukmini Devi Arundale.

This year is the Birth Centenary year of the Multifaceted Iconoclast Rukmini Devi Arundale , the founder of Kalakshetra (The famous Dance School at Chennai ). Read about some of her towering achievements in the recent issue of India Today and was amazed by her versatility & achievements . Here are a few to list :

1. Was offered the Presidentship of India in 1977 by Morarji Desai which she resolutely refused.

2. As a Rajya Sabha Member was responsible for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animal Act & Montessori method of Teaching.

3. As a 16-year old Tam-Bram Girl she breaked the tradition by marrying George S. Arundale , a Brit 20 years her senior.

4. Started learning Bharatanatyam at 29 ( a very late age ) but pioneered the Dance drama Genre & gave respectability to Dance . Founded Kalakshetra , the Dance School which is the cradle of the modern Dance movement in the South.

Wednesday, March 17, 2004

First Strike

I am a happy man today . Got an admission into the Nanyang Business School , Singapore(pending the Board approval ) . I had applied to a few Asian Schools and had an interview with the Director of IT & Operations Management,Nanyang last week which I did reasonably well . He had asked me to check my application status on the web. Got the Confirmation today that I have been offered admission to the 2-yr Full time MBA in IT & Operations Management (ITOM) .

NUS(National Univ of Singapore) , AIM (Asian Inst of Management) are still pending & hopefully will hear from them quite soon. Nanyang is a Top 10 B-School in Asia and is at Singapore.

Tuesday, March 16, 2004

LAMP - Is it the future ?

Techies love Acronyms and here is one more to add. Was reading FORTUNE Mag which had an article on the Open source movement and its growth. LAMP - Linux,Apache,MySQL,PHP(OS,Webserver,Database,PHP is used to write custom apps). These four are posing a considerable threat to Microsoft,Oracle,Sun & IBM . The Greatest thing about Open source is its constant innovation and ability to improve.They have also been responsible for the falling software prices thanks to their free/low fee models. To quote Mickos the founder of MySQL " Software has been overglorified for 20 years.you've been able to overcharge for underperforming software" .

With Big players like IBM & Novell adopting a push towards the Linux movement and recent instances in Germany & India where Federal support for Linux has stunned Microsoft , we could assume that Linux has finally arrived. I interacted with Novell India yesterday and was surprised by their suite of products which includes a strong Suse Linux push (which they had acquired recently) . Fry's Electronics recently started selling low cost Linux PC's far as low as US$199 .

LAMP might be beacon of light for low cost computing and in making PC's affordable to Billions of people across Asia & Africa.

Power Walk

Yesterday I went to the Rashtrapathi Bhavan & India Habitat Centre in Delhi. The Raj path (Road leading to Rashtrapathi Bhavan) was beautiful with lush grass on the sides and fountains . We walked across the North Block & South Block (the power centres of Finance & external affairs) and right upto the Rashtrapathi Bhavan Main Gate . Its imposing & serene on a sunday evening and the Gardens near the Fountains are a great place to rest and soak in some Indian political Nostalgia.

We also visited the India Habitat centre in Lodhi Road which is the melting pot of Art & culture. Photo exhibitions,paintings,parallel/world cinema,theatre - Its a paradise for art lovers. It has a well-equipped library with a great collection of Books,magazines,CD-ROMs & DVDs. Nice place .

Friday, March 12, 2004

Back in Delhi

I am Back in Delhi. My thoughts are still clouded by the happenings of past week. The last few weeks were hell for my Thatha(Grandfather) since he had Cardiac,Renal & Liver problems and hence survived mostly on Life Support systems. I saw death from very close quarters,that too of someone with whom I was very close. I intend to write a Detailed obituary perhaps as a tribute to his acheivement & tenacity.

When I started Blogging , I had no idea what I wanted to write. But I was sure of one thing , my personal details would be as less as possible. I have written in fact a lot on Travel,Business,Social Work,Music and other mundane daily observations. However, I realize that my personal life influences & dominates my everyday proceedings that it is tough to leave out those details. For example its tough for me to write on Indo-Pak Cricket when my Thatha was lying on the Deathbed. Personal stories if properly woven could be interesting & inspiring tales . Afterall what is world without Human achievement & tales.

Wednesday, March 10, 2004

Grandfather Passed Away

My Grand father Passed away on Tuesday Morning. He died on the way from Hospital to home. Great Man. May his soul rest in peace.

I am still in Chennai and will be leaving for Delhi tomorrow.

Monday, March 08, 2004

Chennai Details

The condition of my thatha(Grandfather) still continues to be critical. He had a massive heart attack today morning and is now in Life Support systems. I was supposed to go to Pondicherry today to visit the Aurobindo ashram & Auroville but had to cancel the visit because of the heart attack to my thatha.

As per my current plans , I would be leaving Chennai on Tuesday night (By Train) and reaching Delhi on Thursday morning. But all this depends on how the next 24 hours turn out to be.

Friday, March 05, 2004


I am in Chennai now. Came here yesterday evening from Delhi. My grandfather has slightly recovered from his Serious condition but still in sedation.

Nice to be in Chennai though I have come here on a urgent visit. As usual Teddy,my dog was very Happy to see me again. Would be here in Chennai for the next few days and would be going back to Delhi on Tuesday.

Wednesday, March 03, 2004

Grandfather - Ill

My Grandfather is very seriosly ill and there is a possibility that I might be coming to Chennai tomorrow to visit him.He had a double heart attack a few months ago and now his Liver&kidney functioning have been affected and apparently he has also contracted Jaundice and is now in the ICU. Its a terrible news to hear and I feel very sorry for my Paati(Grandma) , who is devastated by the turn of events. God is great . Letz see.

Tuesday, March 02, 2004

Life Sans/Avec TV

After having lived for years without a TV , I was forced to buy one last week. My brother has come to Delhi and at his insistence , I bought a Philips TV a few days back. I had consciously avoided having a TV since its an addiction which leaves with you with little time to pursue other interests.

Nevertheless I am now looking forward to catch up on some movies which I have been wanting to see for a long time (Mostly60's/70's Hollywood/Bollywood fare) .