Friday, May 27, 2005

Terrible end!

It's been a nightmare! Today is my last day at work and I am trying to get all the closing formalities done.

Till today, I don't why I couldn't figure out that this was a typical babu-reaucratic organization. You may have ambititious plans about growth - adding 10k employees a year. But without proper processes, the organization is going to fall apart. The growth is basically not sustainable and employees are going to be deeply unsatisfied. In every interaction with internal departments, there are going to be skirmishes. That's what happened.

Lack of intra-department communication, ignorance of a new online system (covering exit process), so I am left running pillar to post for getting sign-offs on finance, tech, facilities. The online system is supposed to take care of this and the respective departments to feed in the approvals in it. But guess, its not fun, without a person running helter-skelter.

Finance department just wakes up today after my repeated mailers, voicemails and unresponded phone calls ("God knows who calls us. Why pick!"). And it tells me I owe X amount (to be paid by D.D., no online transfers, thank you) for notice period breach. Putting aside the contentious issue of notice period, the amount X comes out to fraction of my salary. So how about deducting it from salary during final settlement, but giving me that damn interim relieving letter. No, not possible. We want the money from you now. Salary and other amounts, that we owe you, you'll get after 4-5 weeks. The HR person kept justifying that this is GLOBAL process. Hello! your global process sucks. Your global process reeks of red-tape. Your process is meant to antagonise every person who is outta the company ("serves him right!"). But the same malaise affects every other internal process.

During joining, you made me fill 3 hardcopies of personal and professional background and then again, made me fill the same information online (How sweet of you to want so much of me!) . Remember the time, I asked for PF transfer status. 6 months since the transfer is made and you don't know that it has been. How wonderfully blase!

You want to leave the company, because the processes are bad? Don't!

Ask me the postives about this place, some other day.

Wednesday, May 25, 2005

Filmi ways

Outlook has a great cover story on the change that's sweeping through Bollywood. I believe, while justifying the mostly pedestrian Bollywood output, we tend to discredit Hollywood in a manner that doesn't do justice to its quality and lineage. Going by statistics, Hollywood brings out far better movies compared to Bollywood - better in content and of course better promotion. Of course, they have got the muscle to back big gambles, but if films are meant for the truly creative, then Hollywood is where it's at. One, we suffer severely from lack of imagination. Our characters are still human (how about fish, aliens, mutants, animals, robots as main leads). Hollywood is the adept or great at most genres of film-making -thrillers, suspense, animation, teen-flicks, action, horror (Japanese do it best) - except perhaps musicals. Bollywood is the flag-bearer of song and dance. But anyway, what allows Hollywood to excel and thrive, is not just the fact, that the film-makers are more creative or more adventurous. It's because they are taught to be so.

When we talk of arts - cinema, music, painting, we tend to think that essentially it stems purely from creative instincts, that one just needs talent. You need teaching, honing of that talent. That, essentially, it is art (not science) and cannot be taught. Nothing could be wronger. The best of Hollwood has gone through school (Lucas, Spielberg, Coppola, Scorsese, Oliver Stone), learnt the skills, techniques, the intricacies of the art. Formal training in editing, cinematography, sound is a given. Yes, inherent talent is needed but it needs direction and finishing. Education always teaches you the rules, but then, your creativity allows you to break through those rules. Indian film-makers struggle with the rules. So, we fail to even come up with convincing and seamless storylines. These are basics, that have not been learnt at all. You see film-folks making the same mistakes. Our film training instiutes (bar the FTII, which itself is plagued by babudom) are a part of cottage industry, that teaches your histrionics (in the name of acting). FTII has restarted acting course just recently after some 2 decade hiatus. I don't know of any proper institutes apart from FTII that teach directing, editing, writing. So, there we have it. Fundamentally, Bollywood is made of people with insufficient or no training in their fields and whose only claim to the job is family, contacts and access to big bucks

The only way to set this right is sent these guys back to school and ensure that the new ones are cinema-literate(To be continued)

Wednesday, May 18, 2005

IT - Om swaha

Om Malik is a writer who makes insightful observations about the happenings in the tech-sphere. His is called a Broadband Blog, but basically contains articles about infrastructure, business and opportunities related to IT.

In this article, he talks about how the outsourcing cycle has reached its peak. The irrefutable proof is GE. I have great admiration for GE, for it has been at the fore-front of many a paradigm shifts and innovations that have come to govern IT. It was the early adopter of CMM, Six Sigma, has impeccable processes (their technical documentation is world class), set-up Indian facility for R&D much before the word 'outsourcing' became mainstream. Because of the bar it sets within the organisation, GE is the hardest task master you will find, as far as IT outsourcing (to other vendors) is concerned. As Om so succintly put it, they can squeeze out profits from even a light-bulb. And they do. Many companies aren't just capable of meeting exacting (and taxing) GE standards and just opt out. The desperate step in. My earlier company, my current company and my next company (what a coincidence!) all have (been forced to) let go of GE projects (and note, I was never ever worked on a GE project).

Anyway, Om makes very valid point about the overheated boom in the IT services. Clearly, its a volumes game, but it is extremely difficult to keep adding people at the pace that we are, to sustain growth. Salaries cost a fortune and wipes out most of the revenues and there is no end to the pay-hike people expect these days (ahem!). Attrition is rampant (ahem! ahem!) and it is difficult to recoup the loss of trained resource easily. It's not just resource replacement - its knowledge replacement. Big players around in IT are either into products and consulting or in different flavors of services/consulting/products. In consulting, Indian companies are still catching up. In products, they are non-existent (with some exceptions).

Consulting is a higher margins game - lucrative. But Indian IT people in general (even the strata that you will peddle as consultants) are not mature enough (fresh MBA types cannot consult, they just hogwash(sic)), not bold enough (limited creativity because of the schooling and society in general), not confident enough (servile ha-ji mentality) and not convincing enough (command over language).

Again we haven't seen the enormous advantages of being in products (Biztact, apart:). To achieve the same growth as in services, you need to add no-where near the same number of people. Earlier, the figures of number of students graduating every year was tom-tommed. Still, companies are finding it difficult to meet the requirements. Also, no one has properly investigated the quality of the graduates that are churned out. I am sure, most of them lack the basic skills needed on the job.

So, its difficult to see a Indian IT services and outsourcing grabbing headlines two year down the line. Services (in IT) will be your average-jyo-manufacturing - expect no great shakes.

Tuesday, May 17, 2005

Hazaaron Khwahishen Aisi

Saw Hazaaron Khwahishen Aisi. Loved it. Though first things first. The movie has now moved to matinee slot and I was expecting the ticket rates to be lower. Well, at the Movietime Multiplex - Goregoan, they just hiked the peak show rates (Rs. 130). And for matinee, you have a choice of neck breaking Rs. 80 or ring-tone disturbing (more of that later) Rs.100.

Anyway, I had waited too long to catch this movie (refusing to pay Rs. 130 once at Fun Republic). Anyway, the movie is a must-watch for any movie-buff. In spite of being heavy in it's subject and having all the trappings of an art movie, it's a very sensitive, poignant film with some hilariously comical moments.The story is set during the turbulent times of the emergency when "India was pulled in a thousand directions". But the strength of it is that, it doesn't want to be all encompassing saga of the revolution, but just an intimate tale about the lives of its three protagonists - Siddharth (K K Menon), Geeta (Chitraganda Singh) and Vikram (Shiny Ahuja). In fact, there in lies its strength. You feel for the characters - understand their anguish, rejoice in their fleeting joys and comprehend their bewilderment at being caught in perplexing and dangerous times.

For me, the story works best as a love story (in spite of its potent political message). Vikram pines for Geeta all his life and she keeps finding different men - either as husband or lover (Siddharth). You know that Vikram is nasty unscrupulous wheeler-dealer, "amassing wealth at rapid rate". Nevertheless, he is a lovable rogue who is ready to use his connections when his friends are in dire need. So, the rejection he faces from Geeta is heart-breaking. The scene when he sees Geeta and Siddharth making love during the college party captures his pain perfectly. He is shattered. The quawwali plays in the background (not part of the party music though, just an overlay), the other couples jive slowly. Vikram stands on the lawns staring blankly. Nothing said, but somehow deeply moving. Also, the best climax in recent times, where Geeta reads the words "I Love you...Geeta" scrawled by a now mentally incapacitated Vikram. It's almost the same spot where Vikram has had an argument with Siddharth about their ideologies and Vikram asks Siddharth to sure, go build a mental institution there. There's the bitter irony to it all - about how fundamentally Vikram loves Geeta (to be able to express the feeling in spite of his handicap), Geeta, a UK return and a neo-convert-by-just-being-the-other-half decides to stay back and Siddharth, the revolutionary begs off after suffering the worst of the emergency and goes abroad.

The other aspect I loved was the humour. Of course, it's a serious movie. But the light moments are hilarious. Esp. when Vikram is hitch hiking in a van to Bhojpur(?) to save Siddharth. The driver falls asleep at the wheel and the van just tumbles into the river. The scene is just hilarious. Followed by bandaged Vikram's outburst at an even more bandaged Siddharth in the hospital for getting him in that mess. To the scene were Vikram is about to be shot (you are laughing and terrified at the same time). Then there are quips and one-liners scattered throughout the film, that just lead to some crackling screenplay.

I am not sure if the lead players talking in English all the time is such a good thing. And I wonder if use of Hindi would have brought the same spark (as we seem to lack of good Hindi writers). Yeah, sure the lead players are a privileged lot (Vikram turns into one), but excessive usage smacks of elitism and also mars a very good film's mass reach (surely you want the aam voting junta to catch a film as political as this one).

Anyway, acting front. K K Menon, reliable. Chitrangada Singh looks so much like Smita Patil. As beautiful and a good actress with amazing voice. Shiny Ahuja shines (still haven't caught Sins). Plays his part with great aplomb. Wish he does something about his curly hair though.

The audience also seemed to lap it. The theatre was half-full (more than that for Lucky at the same venue, yipee!). The cell phone rang only twice (as against during Lucky, when people were shamelessly chatting away into it. That's why I find it better to sit away from the main audience to avoid their murmur and cell-talk.

Also, the film was surely censor certified during the earlier (BJP) government's tenure. I wonder, if the current govt. would have. Even though the references to Indira Gandhi and Sanjay Gandhi are veiled, still anything to do with the emergency incriminates the Gandhi family all over again.

Saturday, May 14, 2005

Speed-breakers gone?

The judiciary has been instrumental in hauling up the government for its inefficient functioning and the routine violations that it itself is responsible for. Take the case of speedbreakers.

The high court has instructed the municipality to remove all the unauthorized speedbreakers dotting (lining!) the city roads. Good, someone did something about the nuisance.

Here we have small hills built on roads. Anyone taking the road from Ghatkopar to Mankhurd. Three lane road has speed-breakers so huge, that you have to put the car in first gear to climb them. From what I can see, these have been only constructed for the facility of the slum dwellers of Ramabai Ambedkar Nagar, who stay on one side and need to cross the road for their daily 'ablutions'. How crap is that? I don't know if those speed breakers are gone too, now. Will know soon, when I head for Pune.

Anyway, I noticed most of the speedbreakers along my travel route have disappeared. But, will the municipality be municipality if they did it in a sane and completely issue-free manner. Of course not. They have drilled out the speedbreakers and some road tar with it, so the humps are gone, but because of the unevenness, you still have to slow down. Speedbreaker is gone, but it's still there.

PS. Update on 23-May. Took the Mankhurd-Ghatkopar road and all the speed-breakers are gone. Sadistic pleasure seeing the people scampering to cross the road. Seriously, its dangerous now to cross the road and BMC should built subways to tackle the problem.

Thursday, May 12, 2005


Things continue to look not so great with Firefox.

Many of the major websites are not yet fully Mozilla Firefox compatible. What's more, Orkut (which is loosely associated with Google) doesn't support Firefox

Some major problems that you encounter

- Text boxes are skewed

- New windows/tabs don't open as expected

- Ctrl + middle click (new tab) doesn't work

I understand, the websites to be careful to follow generic coding standards, but couldn't Firefox guys ensure that everything that runs of IE, runs the same way on Firefox

And now there is security hole

Securnia stated that the Firefox security problem was that “IFRAME” JavaScript URLs were not properly protected from being executed in context of another URL in the history list. This could have been exploited to execute arbitrary HTML and script code in a user’s browser session in context of an arbitrary site.

Not that, I am giving up Firefox use because of all this. I still believe, it is a notch above IE

DTH is home

Guess what, folks couldnt stay without TV even for a fortnight and we have DTH installed at our place. Actually, grandmom has come to stay with us and it gets boring for her during the day. Anyway, I am leaving Mumbai in a few days, so I don't have much use for it.

Anyway, about the box - It receives about 40 channels - notable amongst them all the DD Channels, Aaj Tak, Headlines, BBC World, ETV, Zee Music. The reception quality is quite good - with some channels (esp Cable), better than cable. Also, it adds to the browsing facility of the TV - multiple channel viewing, scrolling up and down the channel list. And of course, it liberates you from the tyranny of the cable-sahukar.

The downside is it is expensive - Rs. 3500 (for box + installation). Of the 40, there are whole lot of channels you don't need or will never watch unless you want to be a polyglot. But as I said earlier, with more channels getting ready to beam on DTH, things should look good on the idiot box.

Note: I saw this coming from Amish..., answers inline


1) 3500 one time right? Then always free, right?

Right. But when Star, Zee goes DTH, you will again need to make a one time payment to install their decoders (I think, but not sure)

2) Where is antenna or dish placed? Outside home can be stolen easily.

The dish placed above a window facing east. I expect it to be stolen during rainy season, when people are short of umbrellas.

3) Pls name some more good channels/serials.

ETV Marathi, DD Sahyadri (do you know Marathi, good language), Star Utsav, Smile TV, BBC India, Hindi music channels (names I forget), one religious channel (beamed directly from heaven)

4) What are other channels you expect to be launched? What abt sports channel(esp. for F1)? How much time will it take for new channels to come?

Goal TV is for football. and DD Sports. No, couldn't see anything for F1.

I know CNBC Awaaz is planning a launch on DD's DTH platform. Star and Zee are planning to launch on separate platforms (meaning you have a buy a decoder separately for each platform (again I could be wrong). Zee has won a case forcing Star to make its bouquet of channels available on its DTH service. I don't know when they plan to go direct/span>

5) Is there website to check details?

Monday, May 09, 2005

Cable no more.

We have unplugged the cable from our TV. It was getting increasingly irritating for everyone. The cablewallah hiked the rates from Rs 250 to Rs. 350 (and we really can't afford that kind of luxury, you know). The guy doesn't even show the channels that I want. No HBO or Zee English. I have hardly seen any good (English or Hindi) movies on the cable provider's own movie channels, in spite of their being 3 such channels.

And then there was the matter of the couch potato. Come home late and plonk myself in front of the TV. It is a situation I hate to be in as much as I hate the lack of self-control. It's almost as if you are zapped zombie-like by the TV Gods. Too much of time wasted watching absolute trash. Now, that we don't have cable, I have time to read (have finished the restaurant ATEOT Universe and almost through with Deception Point (Dan Brown). I read newspapers and magazines more attentively (that the TV is not on in the background). And have been able to watch DVDs without the distraction of what-might-be-on-TV at that time. So, have run through my Friends collection quite quickly. It's not yet time for more DVDs, but that is parvadable, compared to the hegemony (may need subscription) of the cable-wallah.

What I am missing is CNBC-TV18 for my daily update on the markets. But with the work getting hectic, am not doing too much trading. And anyway, moneycontrol gives a gist of all the expert analysis from their shows. So, saves the effort. Also, we are checking the option of DTH. Some of our neighbours have installed DTH in their homes, so it looks promising. And whats more, I hear CNBC-TV18 wants to beam Awaaz on that platform. More channels are hitting the DTH band-wagon

Anyway, would be glad if some reforms as mentioned in the article are able to break the cable cabal, once and for all

Thursday, May 05, 2005

Truly Swadeshi

Since I don't have anything meaningful to say, I am flicking my sis' article submitted for her college magazine. Pardon her sophomoric effort, she relied on my help extensively. Too much of dental jargon might give you tooth ache


There are very few people in our lives, strangers perhaps, who inspire us to go beyond your capabilities and would do things for a change – for others. Most people we know would just sit on their pile of money making plan to accumulate some more. But there are a few, who really work for others- healing the world, making it a better place for us. Such people indeed reinforce my belief that heaven indeed, may be a place on earth.

I was looking forward to peaceful Sunday after long busy weekends. But my mother announced a dental camp organized by her colleagues (Adivasi Kalyanashram group). I didn’t have a choice but to attend. The dental camp was at Ambesari a few kilometers away from Dahanu. I was told that a senior dentist would accompany us with his dental van. I thought, like in Nair Hospital, we might just do OPD and maximum extractions. But when we were heading for camp, I just had glimpse of the dentist. He was so restless to reach destination and start work that he didn’t allow even a single break during the travel. After reaching we had formal introduction and I learned that he was Dr. Dipak Mankame. He completed his BDS from Nair at 1978, then DDS and then successive courses in Oral Surgery, Periodontology and Orthodontics. Just saying this leaves me breathless. He is now settled and practices (roaringly, I must say) in Florida, US. But he still visits India after every 2 months interval. During this tenure he does social service for the less fortunate and dentally needy.

Now coming back to Ambesari when we actually started working what I saw was beyond imagination. He had everything in the van from Airoter, Micrometer, light curing gun for composites, Apex locater, Xray machine, Extraction forceps, 3 cavitron, 3 suction, generator and the list is endless. In the village, even where there was poor electricity, he managed all the connections for compressor, suction and cavitron. The village folk barely had clothes to drape and could afford two meals a day. So promoting dentistry there was futile. But Dr. Mankame, more than us, knows the role dental hygiene plays in our overall well being and health. So, he could hardly care for the villager’s indifference. He carried the kids in his arms to the dental chair (some prefer the electric chair). He did Composite, GIC, Amalgam fillings. We even managed to do extractions and scaling.

Dr. Mankame has been involved in such activities since the last 10 years. But he still aims high. In spite of currently having almost state-of-the-art equipment, he has ordered much bigger and better fitted van. The new van will also have 2 cataract units assisted by an ophthalmologist.

Such people - earning a lot, yes but still giving out their money liberally for the benefit of others are exceptional. Such people go unnoticed but still have the power to set examples.

I am just glad that he converted my mundane Sunday into a meaningful one.

Stityantar is a great word

This is going to be a short blog.

This guy has not been offered to keep his job. And his readers are not happy.

Another guy, has been offered a new job. And he is taking it. And he is happy

This is going to be a cryptic blog.