Monday, December 29, 2008

5000 hits

This blog, these 'logically obscure' thoughts, rantings or musings, has hit its 2nd big milestone: 5000 hits!

Thank you, one and all, for making this possible. Keep checking in.

Cheers.

Friday, December 26, 2008

Mallu Discount

We coined this new term yesterday. No offense to all the mallus out there but just couldn't help ourselves. Come stay in the gulf and you'll know what I mean.

Anyways, we (me and Amit) went to watch Ghajini last night. Decent-to-good movie I'd say despite the whole world going gaga over the movie and Aamer's performance. Why I say this is because of the so-called 'Mallu Discount' factor. So what is Mallu Discount?

Mallu Discount is nothing but the South factor. Let me explain. Indian cinema defies logic - all genres inclusive. Even the most realistic of movies seem to make no sense at times. There are exceptions but I am speaking of the vast overwhelming majority. Singing & dancing around trees, fight scenes, romance, acting (read: overacting), larger-than-life characters, item numbers, cleavage & finally climax (no, not that one!) - these are all the essential elements of Indian movies. Put this all together and you have a masala bollywood flick. Multiply this by a factor of 10 and you have a masala 'south' movie (Pot-bellied actors added to the list!). This south factor is what I call 'The Mallu Discount".

So while watching Aamer pull off some absolutely nonsensical stunts last night, I turned to Amit and frustratingly remarked, "Kya horaha hai yeh sab? Kuch bhi kya!" (What's all this? Anything?) And in his typical quick wit he replies, "Chod na yaar. South ki picture ka remake hai. Mallu discount de de!" (Let it be. Remake of a South movie. Give some mallu discount!).

We both burst out laughing. The movie suddenly became more tolerable to the extent that I ended up saying to my bro, who had tickets for the next show, that it was a decent movie. Definitely worth a watch.

Mallu discount helps.

Thursday, December 18, 2008

It's been four years

Can't believe it's been 4 years. Really? Has it been that long? Looks like it all happened yesterday.

Four years ago, today, I got recruited by Oracle through campus placements. This day does not sound so significant but try telling that to a budding MBA pass-out appearing for his first real job interview! It was huge. It's one of those days that somehow just got stuck in my memory. One of those days that I could finally look up to the skies and say, "Yes, I have done it".

I still remember that day. It was cold, so cold and foggy that when I thought I reached Oberoi Hotel, I could see nothing. Not even the gate. Upon asking, was told I was standing right in front of that gate. All this at 7.30am in the morning, all suited up, on a bike, at the peak of Delhi winters. That was something! I thought my brain would freeze. Brrr. Not to forget, after watching a movie (Swades) till 2.30 am at PVR Priya the night before.

Yeah! So Oracle had taken telephonic interviews of candidates from 10-15 B-Schools over 2 weeks across NCR and had asked about 32 of us to appear for personal interview. Little did I know that a simple sounding 'personal interview' was not even the appetizers.

After registration and breakfast, we were asked to be seated as 2 separate groups randomly. And then we were made to strip! (Just kidding! Wanted to see if you guys are paying attention). So with the 2 groups ready, we were then made to do several team building exercises. This went on for more than 3 hours. I still remember all those activities. For one activity, they made us all sit in a semi-circle and blindfolded us. We were then handed some abstract object. And were supposed to identify who else has that exact same object - all this blindfolded and seated with the moderator sitting right in front observing our each and every move. Phew! Then this other activity, they made all 32 of us stand in a large circle. Every guy/girl was made to say his/her name. And then, this is the bizarre part, each one of us were supposed to repeat all the 32 names. I did manage 27 though. Anyways, all this went on till lunch. Post lunch was going to be our interview.

Round 1. I thought I'd be kicked out right then and there. Mysteriously, they called me for Round 2, which was much better. Followed by Round 3. And then they informed us that they've come up with the first cut. 16 were shortlisted and were going to be further interviewed. I had already packed my bag. Was thinking about dinner and which movie we'd watch later that night. And, poof, they called out my name. So, I was shortlisted. Great. Now that really freaked me out. Coz now I was this close to getting through and loosing out would really really really suck. So it was time for Round 4. This time with the senior management. It went OK. Round 5 was with Head of Recruitment. Basic irritating HR questions. Finally Round 6 was with the Director. He asked me just 3 questions:

Director: Are you ready to relocate to Bangalore?
Me: Yes. I can take the evening flight if you want me to.
Director: Have you been to Bangalore?
Me: I will, tonight, if you hire me.
Director: So, you think you are hired?
Me: Yes. I would like to think so.
Director: Thank you, Masood. (Got up and shook my hands). See you in Bangalore.

It still hadn't sunk it. It was too good to be true. Interview with the Director or Round 6 was taking atleast 15 minutes per candidate. Supposed to be the toughest. And here I was, out in 30 seconds. There has to be something wrong.

It was 7.15 pm in the evening. Close to 12 hours since I got there. Finally, the moment of truth. They were announcing names of selected candidates alphabetically. That's the first time I ever cursed myself for not having a name with 'A'. Seven names were called out. And number 8 was a certain 'Masood Salem'. All I could do was smile meekly and slowly clap. Was too exhausted for any other emotion. Only 9 were selected. Once it sank it, tears followed. I called my dad. And my brother. Other calls starting coming in. It was all happening. Laughter, tears, excitement, fear, hope, dreams fulfilled, new dreams, all at the same time.

It was one of the most satisfying and fulfilling days of my life. That day, I became somebody. I achieved something. I was going somewhere. My journey had begun.

Tuesday, December 16, 2008

BUSHoes

This incident had me in side-splitting laughter. At the end of 8 years in office, there couldn't have been a more better farewell for this joke of a president. Oh, why didn't the shoes hit him? Why! Why! Why!

"This is a farewell kiss, you dog. This is from the widows, the orphans and those who were killed in Iraq." - This is what the Iraqi journalist, Muntadar al-Zeidi, yelled before insulting, arguably and laughingly, the most powerful man on the planet.

How does America react to this? Does it ban shoes in press conferences? Or will it now provide training on how to dodge shoes? Or, better yet, how to pick them up and throw it back? Didn't the SS expect this? Oh, they didn't?! Where is their ground-breaking, state of art intelligence now?

The president of America, the leader of the new world, commander-in-chief of the most powerful army in the world, all this and more. And this is the kind of treatment he gets?

There couldn't have been a more degrading, insulting, debasing, cheapening thing than this for the man. And thoroughly well deserved.


video

And a small note for Mr. Obama: Boy, you have some pretty lofty 'shoes' to fill in, eh? ;)

Thursday, December 11, 2008

Travel, Work & Award

I am back to work today after a short 'working' vacation. Yes, I am a sucker at this. Not one day went by with me not checking or answering my email, prepare proposals for clients or get into conference calls. Somehow, and thanks to Murphy's law for this, I feel that all my clients or team or my manager needs me or my assistance while I'm away. So be it. Here I was in the process of closing serious business, while having home-made Gulab Jamuns and mouth-watering mutton biryani at my in-laws. Such is life. But no complaints. I love every minute of it.

And so it was a pleasant surprise to find an award waiting for me when I got back. No no, not for my work silly, but, yes, for my blog! My first. I am honored. And who else but Iya to hand me this one.

It is called the Butterfly Award. And I am so proud to have it on my blog. So thanks a lot, Iya, for giving me this honor. I am ecstatic.

Now, I don't know if we are supposed to pass this on or simply bask in its glory. But if I have to, I'd like to give it to Iya again. (Can we even do this? Re-award someone! If not, then let this be a first too)
I'd also like to give this to Priyanka whose blog is the reason why I have a blog today.
And lastly, but definitely not the least, to Tara who has a lovely carefree way of writing.

I feel good.

Friday, December 5, 2008

I met Shaheen today

It is 3.15 am and I am unable to sleep. The reason for this is because I met Shaheen (name changed) today. Let me tell you about her.

Shaheen is 25 years old, married for 8 months and, if I am not wrong, is pregnant. She was originally based out of a small district close to Hyderabad called Nizamabad. She is beautiful, energetic, has a sharp sense of humor and is a wonderful human being. She is religious and believes in the oneness of God. She has 1 elder sister and 1 younger brother. A loving husband and in-laws. She was currently living in Mumbai.

I met her today at her 'Dusvan' (Tenth). Exactly 10 days from today, she was one of the 200 odd victims killed in the Mumbai terror attacks. I spent 3 hours at her house with her family and relatives mourning her death. Her husband is still admitted in J J Hospital with 4 bullet wounds.

Shaheen died saving a 4 year old girl. When the gun fire broke out, the little girl ran towards the noise thinking they are firecrackers bursting close by. Shaheen ran behind the little girl and managed to pull her to the ground but not before a bullet went right through her neck. She was dead on the spot.

I have never met Shaheen before. I never knew her or her family before today. But I felt compelled to give her a visit to offer my prayers for her soul and my condolences to her family.

What kind of justice is this? Why did Shaheen have to die? What was her fault? That she was trying to save a little girl? or that she was present at that very train station at that ill-fated time? Why is she not with us today? Didn't she have a right to live, to have her babies, to see them grow old, to grow old herself?

Terrorism is not permitted in Islam. Killing innocent people is not permitted in Islam. These so called Jihadis or Islamic fighters (Not sure if they really are the ones behind this because I seriously doubt it) are going against the very principle of the religion - 'Peace'. They don't even know who all they killed - Hindus, Muslims, Christians, Jews? Could they differentiate? Which religion permits you to kill innocent people? For sure, Islam does not.

Innocent people died last week for no reason at all. I was with the family of one such victim today. I am never going to forget this night. She is a hero - a real unsung hero. May her soul rest in peace. Amen.

Tuesday, December 2, 2008

Mumbai Attacks and Politics

The Mumbai terror attacks, despite being tragic for all those who lost their lives, also stinks. It stinks of a very large political scandal that seems to overshadow all the obvious evidences (read: planted evidences). There has to be more to this story that just a handful of 20 year olds walking into Mumbai and wrecking havoc. Doesn't it sound too naive?

Or is it just a coincidence that the men who was on the verge of uncovering the real masterminds behind the Malegaon blasts gets martyred (read: ASSASSINATED). For the first time, we had some evidence of political motives and politicians behind attacks and not just Islamic fundamentalists or Jihadis. Who were they going to unmask? But it's all lost now. Is anyone talking about Malegaon now?

So who was really behind these attacks? Yes, the LET did this. But who 'sponsored' them? Some evidence points to the Musad due to attacks on Jews. Could be possible? But if it was Musad, wouldn't the terrorists have completely wiped out Nariman House? Why is it that the terrorists kept hostages and did not come up with a single demand? Couldn't they have traded the lives of the hostages with their own? Why didn't they even try? And why is it that only 1 terrorist was 'left' alive? Obviously, they needed someone to tell the story. And here is a pic of the guy 'they' left alive.


Look closely. See any thing similar in these two pictures? Just an observation but worth a thought. The second snap was taken during the Godhra aftermaths.

I think Nariman House was just a divert. Likewise for all other places. Their main targets were Hemant Karkare, Ashok Kale and Vijay Salazar amongst others. The motive was to prove the inefficiencies of the central government and to make terrorism the main subject of the next elections. The idea was to scare the hell out of every Indian and, in the process, save their asses. I think this plot was hatched in India, by Indian politicians and for political motives. The timing couldn't be better, isn't it? Or is all this again just a coincidence?

Do we want another war? Hell, NO! But where is all this pointing to? Who are going to be worst affected? India and Indian citizens. Hindus and Muslims alike. At what cost? And for what reason? For one political party trying to topple another and come to power. What are they going to promise this time? Education for all, better healthcare, lower taxes, better foreign policy, greener India, more jobs? I bet it's gonna be none of this.

This is politics and it stinks.

Also read what fellow blogger Priyanka wrote on the same subject. I couldn't agree more.
http://acaseofme.blogspot.com/2008/11/dont-listen-to-me-im-just-citizen.html

Friday, November 28, 2008

India calling

I'm flying off to India tonight for 10 days! Just taking some time off from work and see the wife.

Don't think I'll get much time to blog. I wanted to post some stuff on Mumbai but shortage of time got the better of me. I will do so but later. My heart goes out to the families of all those who lost their lives due to these senseless terror attacks. I wish we could undo all this. I wish.

I was supposed to fly via Mumbai but got my flight rescheduled via Hyderabad.

See you in a bit. Peace!

Monday, November 24, 2008

Mamta vs Obama

Mamta Banerjee has said that she is the Obama of India!

(Silence)

(More silence and trying to keep a straight face)

Couldn't hold it any longer and I burst out laughing! This was was most hilarious piece of news I've heard since Obama got elected or even since the day he decided to run for office.

Mamta Banerjee comparing herself with Barack Obama.

(Another bout of hysterical laugher)

What are these freakin politicians thinking? Or do they even think? Clearly, they don't. But that's a well known fact. So what made this lady call herself the Obama of India? (I still can't take that smirk off my face) And what more, who all believed her? I am prepared to be shocked. After this, I think I can take anything!

Not to be one-sided, isn't it too early for any comparisons? I mean, Obama has not even taken office yet. He has just promised. Only time will tell. Can he really open 2.5 million jobs next year or in the next 2 years? Will he take troops out of Iraq and Afghanistan? On education (No-child-left-behind reform and cheaper education), Environment (Investments in alternative fuels, reduced dependence on Middle East oil, More green jobs etc), Healthcare (Put things back together from the tatters left by the Bush administration), Taxes (Proposed tax cut and tax relief) and Women (His proposed policies against women inequalities)? Is he going to live up to all this?

It's all too early to tell. As for Mrs. Banerjee, I'd really be interested to learn how she plans to be the Indian Obama!!!

Saturday, November 22, 2008

Believe it or not

If I say that I lost 8 kg in 30 days, how many of you are going to believe me? Believe it or not, it is true. 30 days of diet control, brisk exercise and lots of drinking water and here I am - 8 kg lighter.

But coming to the more serious part, why did I have to loose that much weight? That's coz I was, not 8 but actually 18 kg over weight!!! I swear! I know, my height hides most of the weight but according to my BMI, I need to be atleast 18 kg lighter. Thanks to my post-marriage laziness, ice-cream-doughnuts-muffins-desserts indulgence, culinary skills of folks at home and, ofcourse, the KFCs and Burger Kings of the world!

So, with 2 inches off the waist and 8 kg lighter, let me tell you how it feels! It feels like a job half done. Boo. Yes, don't want to rest on my laurels now. We are on a roll, people!

Finally, I can hope of fitting in that CK trouser. Finally!

I will check back again in 30 days with another update. Oh, and how did I do it? Atkins baby, Atkins! (www.atkins.com)

Peace.

Friday, November 21, 2008

Tumse he

Na hai yeh paana
Na khona he hai
Tera na hona jaane
Kyun hona he hai
Tumse he din hota hai
Surmayi shaam aati hai
Tumse he tumse he

Har ghadi saans aati hai
Zindagi kehlati hai
Tum se he tum se he
Na hai yeh paana
Na khona he hai
Tera na hona jaane
Kyun hona he hai

Aankhon mein ankhen teri
Bahoon mein baahein teri
Mera na mujhme kuch raha hua kya
Baaton mein baatein teri
Raatein saugatein teri
Kyun tera sab yeh ho gaya hua kya
Mein kahin bhi jata hoon
Tumse he mil jata hoon
Tumse he tumse he
Shor mein khamoshi hai
Thodi se behoshi hai
Tumse he tumse he

Aadha sa wada kabhi
Aadhe se zayada kabhi
Je chahe karlun iss tarah wafa ka
Chode na chote kabhi
Tode na toote kabhi
Jo dhaga tumse jud gaya wafa ka
Mein tera sarmaya hoon
Jo bhi mein ban paya hoon
Tumse he tumse he
Raste miljate hai
Manzile miljati hai
Tumse he tumse he

Na hai yeh paana
Na khona he hai
Tera na hona jaane
Kyun hona he hai.

Lyrics by Irshad Kamil. Music by Pritam.

Dedicated to my wife! :)

Tuesday, November 18, 2008

How I met John Grisham

My fascination for John Grisham's work started when I first read 'The Partner'. This was way back in 1998.

Books were an unchartered territory for me then. All I'd ever read was Archie comics, Enid Blyton short stories, Hardy Boys, Secret Seven, you know what I mean. Real mainstream fiction did not exist in my world. My world did not have place for anything else. Then I stumbled upon a copy of 'The Partner'. My brother had just finished reading it and couldn't stop raving about it. First reaction on seeing a 416 page novel - like hell I'm gonna read this! It was lying around for a week. I always heard him say that a book is a whole new world. Always got me thinking: What world is he talking about?

"They found him in Ponta Porp, a pleasant little town in Brazil, on the border of Paraguay, in a land still known as the Frontier. They found him alone, as best they could tell, though a maid came and went at odd hours during the eight days they hid and watched."

Woah! That opening hit me like a thunderbolt. Who found who? Why were they searching for him? Why was he hiding? Or was he hiding? Did he know they were there? What did they want?

And thus began my amazing journey living the lives of fictional characters created by Grisham. All characters are etched in my memory as if they are a part of me now. Or maybe I am a part of them. I was lost in Grisham's world. Nothing else mattered. He could take you to places you will never go to, meet people you will never meet, do things you will never do and live the life you may never live! How about being a gay American senator lined up for the top job at the white house and have 3 former supreme court judges know your secret? Or how about being that rookie lawyer who fights and wins the lawsuit of a lifetime? Or how about being that jury member who can manipulate an entire jury and deliver whatever verdict you want but only at a price? Or how about trying to save a man on an electric chair? Or how about defending a black client who is on trial for the murder of 2 rednecks who had raped his 7 yr old daughter? Or how about having someone buy you a judge seat in the supreme court? Or how about writing a report that could implicate the whose who of American legislature and then run for your life?

There is more. But I cannot finish. I can only get started. And then the mind takes over.

Saturday, November 15, 2008

Before and After

Friday is a public holiday here in UAE. I go to work on Friday and take Sunday off. Since it is a holiday, I don't have any arrangement to travel. This is what I did to get to work for more than a year on a Friday, before I got my driving license.

Before:

7.15 am: Wake up on yet another Friday morning.
7.50 am: Catch a cab from my appartment to the bus stand.
8.00 am: Board the bus or shared taxi to Dubai.
9.20 am: As we approach Dubai Internet City (my office), I ask the driver to drop me off on the highway.
9.22 am: Either wait for a cab or start walking into the underpass that helps me cross the road. No pedestrian crossing. Have to walk along the road for 20 min.
9.45 am: Login in work.
12. 00 pm. Friday prayers. No cabs at this time around this area. Start walking from office for 2 km to the closest Masjid.
12.35 pm: Reached. Pray.
1.05 pm: Lots of cabs here.
1.10 pm: Back to office.
5.30 pm: Getting ready to head back home. Either some kind soul comes from home to pick me up or step out and walk 1o min, by jumping a wall, and head to the highway.
5.40 pm: Buses don't stop. Ask for lift. Avg waiting time: 1 hour.
6.45 pm: Someone finally stops. Get a ride home.
8.00 pm: Get down at bus stand. Take a cab.
8.15 pm: Back home, finally!

After:


Wake up. Get ready. Step into the car. Drive to work. Work. Step back in to the car. Drive back home. Period.

Blissful! :-)

Wednesday, November 12, 2008

Dubai Driving License - Part 4 (The End)

Pass!

I couldn't believe my ears. Had I become so paranoid that my ears were ringing with what I wanted to hear? How could this happen? How could I, me, Masood Salem, pass the great Dubai driving test?

But pass I did. And that too with style. Not one remark on my assessment sheet. Too the extent that the examiner even complimented on my drive.

Why wouldn't he - I was the first guy to pass today!

This is the hardest I ever had to fight for something. Seriously. Nothing had eluded me so much in my life. And hence this 'victory' (Yes, I would call this a victory by all means!) is all the more sweeter.

So, this finally is the last 'episode' of my driving license saga. Part 4 - The conclusion. The grand finale. The End.

Cheers.

Monday, November 10, 2008

ARK

A few thousand years ago, Nuh (as known in Islam) or Noah (in Christianity), on instructions from God, built an ark (a big boat) and together with his family, some followers and with one male and one female representative of all animals on the planet, boarded the ark and set assail. God, too upset on mankind's sinful ways, had decided to flood the earth and punish all those who were left behind. They sailed for 5-6 months before the waters receded and finally saw land. With no human alive, they were the source for all post-flood humanity.

Interesting, isn't it? That is not my purpose. The reason why I write this today is because ARK can be used in one more context - Acts of Random Kindness. When I heard about this (and this I did while watching the movie 'Evan Almighty'), it really got me thinking.

We talk about change. We talk about the world, the country, our workplace, the government or the people or even ourselves. But are never the ones who are the catalyst for that change. We just talk and talk and talk. And if someone does stand up, there are thousands to pull him down (sometimes literally). So how do we influence change? Aren't we too small or too minuscule in comparison to the larger scheme of things? Who is going to notice? And despite taking efforts, is anything really going to change? The answer lies in ARK.

ARK does not require you to be in a position of power to change things. All you need to do is one random act, one small deed, one gesture per day. How about not breaking traffic laws for a day? Or throwing the wrapper of that chocolate bar in the trash rather than on the road or, as you walk in or out of work, greeting all security guards you see that day. The list can be endless.

And goodness can be infectious. You never know who you may be inspiring.

Monday, November 3, 2008

I miss you

I miss you; when I wake up every morning,
As much as I do even when I am snoring.

I miss you; when I get ready for work,
Not finding my stuff feels like a dork.

I miss you; when I unpack my lunch,
Not making me feel even to munch.

I miss you; want your voice on the phone,
But all I get now is a stupid dial-tone.

I miss you; when I get back home,
Only waiting is my bed’s foam.

I miss you; your side is empty,
Sleeping now feels like humpty-dumpty.

I miss you; my wife, my friend,
Comon, bring this distance to an end.

Sunday, November 2, 2008

Jagjit Singh - WOW

Breath-taking. Spellbound. Mesmerized. Out. Of. This. World.

That's all I can say after attending Jagjit Singh's concert on Friday night. No wonder the man is a living legend. For close to three hours, we didn't know what hit us. He had us possessed.

And what do I tell about his troop! The jugalbandi was mind blowing. Sameer Upadhya at the tabla and Deepak Pandit on the violin had us gasping for breath. And, if this was not enough, the surprise package of the evening was Nithin on the flute. I think God was listening. And just when we thought we'd seen enough, how about a jugalbandi between the three? What more, even Agni on the synthesizer decides to join in. Absolutely unbelievable. This was the highlight of the evening!!!

Some all time great gazals like 'Woh kagaz ki kashti', 'Huzoor aap kabhi', 'Hosh walon ko khabar', 'Mein nashien mei hun' and 'Hazaron khwaheshien aise' to some foot tapping punjabi gazals, he had us under his spell all along.

Before the concert, I was wondering what excited me more - the concert or the hotel? But we have a winner hands down!

Wednesday, October 29, 2008

Jagjit Singh Live at Emirates Palace

My brother just booked us tickets for a live Jagjit Singh concert taking place on 31st Oct. What more, the venue is the great Emirates Palace hotel. For those who (still) don't know about the hotel, it is an absolute marvel. Take a look as these pics:



Don't know what I am more excited about - the concert or the hotel!

But, whatever it is, this is enough to make me forget that I flunked another driving test today!

Monday, October 27, 2008

In a Jiffy

A year looks like a reasonably long time when we think about it but it passes off in a jiffy when you have to live it. That's how fast this last year of my blogger life has passed - in a jiffy!

This blog has become an important part of my life. It's my diary, only public. Just as Iya stated in the first comment I received on the blog, this is the world of 'self-expression'. More on Iya later. Coming back to the blog, I always wanted to be part of the blogger community. For more than 2 years, was just a follower, sometimes expressing my views via comments but mostly just a reader cum observer. Then, my wedding date got finalized. And what better time to start 'self-expression' than a wedding! And that's when this journey started.

From the preparations, the shopping sprees, the fears and inhibitions, the honeymoon planning to the actual wedding and the honeymoon - I covered this beautiful phase of my life here.

And in the midst of 'marriage mania', I went to Dublin (Ireland) for two weeks on training.

Come March and with everything behind me, it was back to routine work and married life. Some events had an epochal impact on me like the accident and the milestone. Some brought delight and happiness like success at work, Dad's birthday and Roger Federer. Some disappointments like my driving license ordeal. Some observations on current affairs, Dubai taxi or Ramadan. A few movies. And some just brought plain 'ol satisfaction or nostalgia like completing 3 years at Oracle, Bangalore, IPL, my team in Oracle India and my birthday. All in all, it's been fun!

I would like to thank Priyanka, whose blog opened my eyes and the doors to the blogger world.

My wife for being my strength and inspiration. And for being my most silent reader! For the record - she has not commented ever.

Thank you, Iya, for your generous comments and for always being there.

My sister, Ruhi, for being an ardent follower with crispy comments.

And a big thank you to everyone else as well. There is going to be more. This is just the beginning. Stay tuned.

Wednesday, October 15, 2008

Dubai Driving License - Part 3

Road test 4: Fail

I'm beginning to think - Is it even possible to pass?

Statistic for today: Only 11 passed out of possibly 150+ students.

Edison once said after failing to invent the light bulb - "I have not failed. I've just found 10000 ways that won't work".

So let's be optimistic. I've just found different ways on how not to pass. Hurray!

Ought to share my wisdom. Think so too?

Just one: Don't look like an Indian!!!

Monday, October 13, 2008

Tharki?

Someone dropped by at my blog with the following Google search query:

"wanted tharki girl in bangalore"

I just couldn't stop laughing. It made my day!!!

To the wise (read: desperate) guy or girl (really?): Sorry to disappoint you but this is not that type of a blog.

Insanity

I think everyone deserves one chance at insanity. I'm just trying to come to terms with it.

Tuesday, October 7, 2008

Check this out...

I've never posted links to other blogs here. Maybe I never came across something exceptional enough. But this has to be an huge exception.

An Ode to India TV

Just check this out!

Super!!! Hats off to the author.

Monday, September 29, 2008

Happy budda...err birthday to me!

I've turned 27 today. It is quite an ideal age I think - not too old, not too young. Just about perfect. Every day from now is going to be a step towards really getting old. Till today, I never felt I was growing old nor did I ever feel old. I don't today as well. But I know next year, I won't be feeling the same. Next year, I will feel older. But then, why worry about something that is invariably going to happen unless ofcourse the Almighty has other plans!

So I am thinking. What should I be doing this year that I know I won't be able to do next year or the year after? I always believed that there is a time for everything and, whatever has to happen, happens at exactly that time. My dad told me something a few years back that I could never forget: "Waqt se pehle, aur kismat se zayada, kuch nahi milta" (I can't come up with a satisfactory translation for this. Sorry about that). So it's my job to figure out the right time. I will be doing more of that introspection this year.

It's my first birthday with my wife. We have had a memorable and fantastic last 8 months of companionship. Thanks for everything, Love. I miss my closest friends today. All who matter have either called or emailed in person with wishes. Thanks guys. I am with my family today and that is a blessing I can't be thankful enough for. So here's a BIG thank you to one and all.

(I wrote this on 29/9 but did not get a chance to post it. Putting it up today on 1/10)

(Mysteriously the posting date still shows 29/9)

Sunday, September 28, 2008

Dubai Driving License - Part 2

I failed my third driving test today. It's actually no big deal. It is just my third test.

Since the last month and a half or so, there has been some changes. I've changed my driving school. After my last experience with them, I'd had enough. I am now with Belhasa. Also, I've moved from Manual to Automatic transmission. About Belhasa, they have lesser administrative processes but they charge about 50% higher though. The number of classes between tests is also more, 12 instead of 8. So again, more expenses. But it is closer to work. And things move fast.

Either ways, I still flunked.

Maybe I am a bit too desperate. Should just let it happen at its own sweet pace. Like nature, some things cannot be tampered with.

So, note to self: A driver's license is not the only thing that matters. Watch the sunset instead.

Tuesday, September 23, 2008

Life has its own ways to mess things up. Sometimes we run away from the harshest realities of life only to run right back into it again and realize you were actually running from none other than yourself.

I am my own nightmare. I made this Frankenstein. And I have to live with it. No more running. No more hiding.

Monday, September 15, 2008

Diversity at work

I work under a Moroccan manager with Russian, Indian, Lebanese, Jordanian, Tunisian, Pakistani and Swiss colleagues, Filipino sales assistant and a Sri lankan office boy in an American company located in the Middle East!

Tuesday, September 9, 2008

He's back - Federer wins 5th US Open

Roger Federer wins his 5th consecutive US Open championship. He is the first man since 1928 to win 5 straight finals. And the only man in history to win 5 consecutive championships in 2 grandslams - US Open and Wimbledon.

What a champion! After loosing the Wimbledon and French Open finals, nobody gave Fed a chance to win any other grandslam. Why? They said the psychological impact of loosing at Wimbledon would be so profound on him that it would be his end. And he then lost the world number 1 ranking to Nadal after spending a record 237 weeks on the top. Were we ever going to see the same Roger Federer again? Will he ever win again?

And how did he respond?

With absolute magic on Arthur Ash stadium last evening. Murray had no chance against the Federer juggernaut. He just went ahead and proved why he is arguably the greatest player ever to pick up a tennis racket. Last night's match was one for the fairytales.

Roger Federer is back and with a BANG.

Monday, September 8, 2008

woo-hoo!!!!


194.65%


:)

Redemption personified.

Confused? Read this.

Update: As on 18th Sept, the number stands at 213.4% ! :)

Monday, September 1, 2008

Ramadan Kareem


Today is the first day of the holy month of Ramadan. Muslims all over the world will observe a fast from dawn to dusk for 30 days. I have been asked several times by friends and acquaintances as to why we fast, what is the significance of this month etc. Guess there couldn't be a more appropriate time to discuss this.

Significance: It was in Ramadan that the first verses of the holy Quran was passed to the Prophet (PBUH).

Purpose: With thousands of people dying each day due to poverty or hunger - fasting brings us closer to the harsh realities of life. It reminds us of the suffering of the poor, the less fortunate. While fasting, we are supposed to observe self-control, righteousness and sincerity. We have to abstain from what is wrong, immoral, unethical, unjust and fallacious. It is a time to speak cleanly (and not use obscenities), the truth and refrain from lying, it is a time to refrain from violence, it is a time to remember the great Almighty, the time to seek forgiveness for all sins, it is a time to regulate our worldly desires to the minimal (avoid wastefulness) and negate showing off, a time to refrain from inappropriate sexual desires. It is also the time to donate a part (2.5%) of your savings to charity (not only to those outside our social circle but to anyone who is in need). A time for mercy, care and kindness. A time to learn patience, discipline and strong will.

It is a time to observe and live the primary principle that governs Islam - Peace. A time to, not just be a good Muslim, but a good human being.

Apart from fasting, a Muslim is supposed to lead a life like this always. The month of Ramadan is a time that reminds us our true calling - who we are, what we are and why we are!

Wishing you all Ramadan Mubarak and may you make the most of this blessed month.

Friday, August 29, 2008

What's in a name - II

As if this was not enough, someone called me 'Masrood' today!!!!

Money, Moolah, Bucks, Dough or Cash

I just realized something today. And it got me worried.

For the last 5-6 months, all I do all month is wait for 25th of that month. Why? That's my pay-day. Doesn't matter what day of the month it is. I just wait for 25th. Period.

And while on my way to work this morning, I was doing just that. Glanced at my watch to see what date it is today, quick calculation and, all of a sudden, it struck me: Is this what I do all month? Wait for the 25th? Yes, subconsciously &, even consciously, that's what I do. Why do I do that? What am I gaining? But what really got my concerned was: What am I possibly loosing out on?

I have no recollection of how time flew these last 6 months. I was so preoccupied waiting for something in the future to happen that I completely ignored what really was happening. I was secretly wishing for time to go by quickly. This never happened to me while working in Bangalore. I only waited for my pay-day if, and only if, there was a big commission expected. Like once in 3 or 6 months. Not every month. This is disturbing.

Money does make our heart smaller and life less meaningful. Unless we do something about it. This has to change. I have to change.

Monday, August 25, 2008

Back to work

Time out is over and I am back to work on a typical Monday morning. Tired, sleepy and bored. Boo.

Weekend was fun. Doha is not too different from Dubai. Traffic, erratic driving, luxury cars, corniche, food joints, malls, humidity & buildings to sum it all up. We spent most of our time indoors during the day waiting for the evenings before stepping out. Out here in any Gulf city, be it Dubai or Doha or Manama, stepping outdoors is either going to one of the umpteen malls or to the movies or to the beach or eat out or spend time in the car commuting between places. We visited the malls and ate out. Too hot for the beach. Not interested in wasting 3 hours inside a movie hall. Commute was OK. We almost ended up slamming our car into a SUV. We did hit but only just. No apparent damage to either cars, except a few scratches, so no one really bothered to call the cops. All's well that ends well. Overall, it was a good, fun weekend.

Now that I am back to work, this week is important for me. I am expecting 3 big orders to book this week. If all goes well, and I so wish it does, I will be at 200% of my numbers. This would be my first real good quarter since in joined Oracle Dubai. Gone are the days when my achievement was never in the hundreds. It was always in thousands. Don't believe me? OK, here are a few numbers:

Dec 06 - Feb 07: Achieved 2712% of my target
Mar - May 07: 1387%
Jun - Aug 07: 1801%

Big numbers right? Even bigger commission cheques I assure you. These were the numbers I wooed my interviewers with before starting with this job. Now wait till I mention my numbers since I moved here:

Sept - Nov 07: 25.1%
Dec - Feb 08: 32%
Mar - May 08: 42.3%

Pathetic I know. That's why this week is important for me. This is my chance at redemption.

Wednesday, August 20, 2008

Time out

Tomorrow evening, I am off to Qatar for a much deserved break. Unfortunately this is not a full blown vacation per se but I would consider it as a welcome change from the scheme of things. My wife's sister lives in Doha, Qatar. We've been thinking of visiting them for some time now. With Ramadan starting next month, looks unlikely that we could have traveled before October. So here we are then.

Looking forward to an enjoyable long weekend (I am taking Friday off). We are back on Sunday night. Cheers.

Thursday, August 14, 2008

'Snooze' it

Just wondering....

How many people 'snooze' their alarms each morning to get those few extra-precious minutes of sleep?

I snooze my alarm three times. I get 9 extra minutes or 540 seconds. Doesn't look much, isn't it? Try explaining that to me at 6.45 am!

Are we addicted to snoozing? I know I am. It is my most trusted companion. Regardless of anything, I know my alarm will ring again in 3 minutes. Period. Unless, in my slumber, I accidentally pressed 'stop'. Not good. Rush. Excuses. Dog ate my homework?!!

So why can't we just wake up at the first alarm? No more snooze. Me gonna give it a shot.

Monday, August 11, 2008

What's in a name?

Quite a bit, I think. But my problem is not with my name. Frankly, I just love it. True.

Plenty of reasons why:

1. I like the meaning. Masood means lucky, fortunate, happy. And I am.
2. I like the significance. My grandfather's name was Masood. I was born right after he expired. And he was a great man. (May his soul rest in peace). Also, Masood was one of our holy Prophet's (PBUH) companion's name.
3. I like the uniqueness. In 27 years, I know of just 1 more guy named Masood. Ofcourse, come across the name on TV or the internet a bit.
4. I like the simplicity. Simple. Six alphabets. Not too big. Not too small. Easy to pronounce I thought. But not the case.

And that is what I don't like. People not pronouncing my name properly. On last count, there are about 6-7 different ways:

1. Ma-su-d (The right way. My way)
2. Mas-ou-d (The Arabic way. Probably the technically correct pronunciation)
3. Ma-sue-de (The American way)
4. Ma-suuuud (The people-with-a-lot-of-time-to-call-out-a-name way)
5. Mah-su-d (The African way)
6. Ma-soor (Yes!!! With the 'r')
7. Mohammad or Mansoor (People have. Very nice names but hello...not my name!)

And why do I write about this? Someone called me 'Masoor' today, again.

Wednesday, August 6, 2008

Team BI-ZAR

Aimlessly going through some old emails, I suddenly noticed a year old email lying in my sent items. One look at it and tons of fantastic memories came rushing back to me of my days in Oracle Bangalore. This is what that email contained:

"With eleven new hires we started, towards millions we darted,
Nobody else would have dared it, coz nobody else would have nerved it,
With just quarters three and four, eleven million in revenue galore,
Brightest among all superstars, step aside for BI-ZARS!"

I wrote this citation last year when my team was nominated for the 'Superstar Team of the Year' award. In two quarters that we were operational, we closed more business than 15 other teams that had worked all year long. Our team spirit was uncrushable, team work nonpareil. We called ourselves Team BI-ZAR (Logic behind the name - Business Intelligence cZARs (Our product line was Business Intelligence) and by BIZAR we really meant 'bizarre'). Truly a superstar team.

Here's a snap of the team during one of our 'bizar' moments

Oh, and did I tell you we won the award?

Tuesday, August 5, 2008

UAE driver license & Emirates driving institute - Lethal combo

Yesterday was 4th August. Duh. So? It was the day of my highly-anticipated, much-talked-about driving test. It was yet another attempt to own the priziest of all prizes - a driving license in Dubai! And what an experience I had!

My test time was scheduled for 10am. I got there 20 min before time. Stood patiently in the queue to register myself. Within a few minutes, my driving permit was submitted. Now, all I needed to do was wait for them to call out my name. And, wait I did. Hundreds of names were called out, driving permits returned, tests given, licenses issued or declined but there was no sign of a certain name I was waiting to hear.

12.05 pm
I decided that's it. What the fuck is happening? Why is my name not being announced? I walk up to the registration counter and find my driving permit stacked with several others. I think to myself, "OK, they delayed the registration I guess. But atleast it's done. They'll call out my name anytime now".

So, waiting game - the next level. In the meanwhile, I try to socialize....with the cashier! He looked Indian that's why. I walk up to the guy and smile. It usually works wonders. After a harmless discussion about the weather and traffic, I casually pop out what was really on my mind, "Tell me something...when the registration takes so long, what's the reason behind it?". Quickly, he replied, "Maybe your appointment was not confirmed!". Huh? "But my date and time was given by you guys". I think the cashier sensed what was I getting onto. "But if you got your permit back, then it is confirmed". He even smiled. Reassurance.

1.55 pm
Still no sign. I noticed a few guys who had been waiting all morning. I walk up to another Indian dude in a suit (It even rhymes! This is crazy). His test was scheduled for 8.30am. We smile at each other, secretly refueling our tanks of patience and determination.

2.30 pm
OK. This has ridiculous. I've been waiting for close to 5 hours now. A more determined walk to the registration counter, tough stares and a few hard questions later, this is what that Arab guy tells me, "If no my signature on your permit, then no appointment today". I didn't like the sound of that. Signature? I knew what he was talking about. I had noticed that while standing in the queue earlier. My permit had no signature. I ask him why. He says I was not on time. I explain I was on time and have been here for 5 hours now. He replies, "Sorry, go take another appointment". And immediately looks away. Hello?

What the fuck! I've been here all morning and they say I don't have a fucking appointment. I was not alone. 15 of us. Agitation. Angers flare up. More arguments. I decided to stay put and flow with the tide. And, best of all, no one is ready to explain or help. Absolutely no one.

2.55 pm
One kind soul finally takes notice. He collected our permits again. In the midst of chaos, made a few phone calls and informed us that we will not be having our tests today. More agitation. But but but he will try and get us a new appointment at the next available date. Crap. As far as I know, there is a mandatory gap of 30 days before a new slot is selected.

3.20 pm
My name is finally called out. I am given 2 options: 7th August or 10th August? Surprised, but in less than a micro-second, I shoot back, "7th".

4.10 pm
I am back to work, dozens of emails waiting in my inbox, precious money spent on taxi, hungry and thirsty, back and legs paining and frustrated beyond belief! After settling down at my table, I try and recollect the happenings of the day. I am shocked. A quick glance at my driving permit lying on my desk and my eyes stop at this sentence: Emirates Driving Institute: Proud to be professional

All I could muster up is a smile.

Wednesday, July 30, 2008

Boiler Room

I first saw "Boiler Room" nearly 3 years back. And it's been on my laptop ever since. If you are a hotshot sales guy, this is the movie for you. I'm not gonna give details about the plot or anything else. Just posting excerpts of my favorites scenes.

In this scene, Jim Young (Ben Affleck), who is the Head of Recruitment, gives a pitch to a room full of new applicants about the job, the firm and why they should work there. So here goes:

Jim Young: OK, here’s the deal. I am not here to waste your time and I certainly hope your not here to waste mine. So, I’m gonna keep this short. Become an employee of this firm and you will make your first million within three years. OK? I’m gonna repeat that. You will make a million dollars within three years of your first day of employment at J T Marlin. There is no question whether or not you will become a millionaire working here. The only question is how many times over.

You think I’m joking? I’m not joking!

I am a millionaire. It’s a weird thing to hear, right? Tell ya, it’s a weird thing to say. I am a fucking millionaire. And guess how old I am? 27. You know what that makes me here….a fucking senior citizen. Lucky for me I happen to be really fucking good at my job or I’d be out of one. You guys are the new blood. You are the future big swinging dicks of this firm.

Anybody tells you money is the root of all evil doesn’t fucking have any.

They say money can’t buy happiness? Look at the fucking smile on my face. Ear to ear, baby!

You want details. Fine. I drive a Ferrari. 355 Cabriolet. What’s up! I have a ridiculous house in the South fork. I have every toy you can possible imagine. And best of all kids, I am liquid. So now you know what’s possible. Let me tell you what’s required. You are required to work your fucking ass off at this firm. We want winners here. Not pikers! A piker walks with a bell. Piker asks how much vacation time you get in the first year. Vacation time? People come and work at this firm for one reason – to become filthy rich. That’s it. We’re not here to make friends. We’re not saving the fucking manatees here. You want vacation time? Go teach third grade.

Your friends are shit. Tell ‘em you made 25 grand last month, there not gonna believe you. Fuck them. FUCK THEM. Parents don’t like the life you lead. Fuck you. See how it feels when you’re making their fucking Lexus payments. Now go home and think about it.

Think about whether or not this is really for you. You decide it isn’t? Listen, its nothing to be embarrassed about. It’s not for everyone. But if you really want this, you call me on Monday and we’ll talk. Just don’t waste my fucking time.

OK, that’s it.

Monday, July 28, 2008

The Black Swan theory

I came across a really thoughtful theory this morning - The Black Swan Theory.

This theory talks about taking into consideration high-impact, tough-to-predict, rare events beyond the realms of human imagination. We humans are hopelessly poor in predicting the future. We underestimate the extremes in our range of outcomes. We jump to conclusions using every piece of information that confirms out outlook and conveniently ignore the ones that make us rethink.

So what happens if these extremes occur? These unexpected events have a far more significant impact on us compared to those mundane, predictable events taking place daily. For instance, take 9/11 or the invention of the Internet or the dot com crash or the great depression or the personal computer, world war one or even the ongoing sub prime crisis - all these events have had an epochal impact on us.

Now think monetarily. Few who predicted such events were in far better shape than most. For some, their losses were minimal. For some more, they even made some money. And for many others, lots of money!

The black swan theory could be a smart tool for investment. Lets say, you invest 85-90% on regular, predictable, safe bets. Now, how about finding those 'black swans' for the remaining 10%? Think of some radical ideals to bet on as black swans. What could be the next big thing that could happen in a year or two? Technology breakthroughs, global recession, war, revolution, peace, hyper inflation etc. Sure, you may not have a well-defined ROI or, for that matter, not even know where to bet or if it is even practically possible but just think about it. It is a start. Consider the what-if scenarios! The idea is not to invest in these as a fall back option (for a rainy day) but use these to spread your portfolio. To make some money. Don't expect to win many of them. But the ones that you win, will be nothing less than a jackpot.

And how about using this theory not just for investments but also in our personal lives? Is it possible?

Friday, July 25, 2008

Corporate lesson 1 : Communication

The first lesson I learnt when I entered the corporate world was about communication. I always fancied myself as a good, confident communicator - both verbal and non-verbal. Language was not a problem. Infact that's what had landed me the job in the first place. So I thought I was in good shape but that conviction lasted only till my first few days at work.

I think this incident took place towards the end of my first week at work, some time in May 05. My company provided us with provisional accommodation for 15 days, within which, we were supposed to hunt for a suitable place to stay for ourselves. So I decided to ask people for help. After all, this was my first trip to Bangalore. I could use all the help that I can get. And, who better than my boss to ask. He seemed like a nice, sensible guy. Surely he would help me out. All I need to do is ask. That's what he told me.

So, ask I did. While we were walking to the cafeteria. And here's how that conversation went:

MS: (In a low tone) umm...Boss, As you are aware.......
AB: Pardon? Sorry can't hear you.
MS: (Louder and nervously) Actually..uh..I am staying at this hotel...and..umm we got just 15 days to find a house..so uh...just wanted to know.....actually, where do you stay? Coz the thing is...I'm new here so uh...don't really know any places.......and I thought if you knew any.......
AB: What? (Confused)
MS: (Took a deep breath and tried to compose myself) Boss, do you know any real estate agents who could help me find a house?
AB: Oh, that...OK. Hang on. (Takes out his cell phone) Here, note this number. Call this guy. He helped me find a good place.
AB: Actually, let me call him up right away.
MS: OK

This small incident thought me big lessons:

1. Be audible and clear
2. Be concise and to the point
3. Speak only when you need to speak. Timing is everything.

These are the basics of business communication. Till today, I haven't forgotten that incident.

Note: AB was my boss till my last day at work there. I considered him my mentor and, for the two n a half years that I worked with him, went to him for all kinds of advice, both professional and personal. I am still in touch with him, despite both of us moving on. More on him in a later post.

Monday, July 21, 2008

The Dentist

I decided that the best way to keep my mind off from what was coming is to go for a movie. But, unfortunately, plans changed and we ended up loitering around the mall, waiting, dreading!

And then it was time. We took a cab and I told the cab driver to take us to 'New Medical Center'. We reached there in 10 min. I walked up to the information desk and asked them, "Which floor is the Dental clinic?". In typical mallu accent the person replies, "Sar, naat yin this building. Go straiiit yand leyeft. Wold NMC building. Mejaanine floor, Wokay?". Wokay.

We walked to the wold NMC bldg which was just a couple of min away. At the reception, I confirmed my appointment, handed over my insurance card and took a seat. How long was this gonna take? Whose bright idea was this? What the hell am I doing here? Of all places, of all people, I was at a dental clinic seeing the dentist! Great!

Invariably time passed. Someone from the reception suddenly yelled, "Maaassuud". Gulp. I looked around to see if someone else got up. Someone. Anyone. None. She cried out again, only louder this time. I decided to finally give in. There is no way out. I had to go. So I got up. Looked towards the reception, quickly nodded and walked towards the death..err...dentist's chamber!

"What have you done to your teeth? Where have you been all this while? My my...tch tch tch...is this your first time? Look look...it's all falling off. Here...see....take a look at this piece. Do you want to take it home? I'll gift wrap it for you if you want."

Who me? What did I do? I was abducted by aliens. They don't have people like you there, you see. First time.....and last. Yeah, right! That's exactly what I'm here for!! Great idea. I'll gift it to my boss.

Wow. What a start. This was going to be an interesting session.

"Let's start with this one. I'll need to take an x-ray. After which, we will first drill through it and then fill it up." Wha?! What logic! First drill just to fill it up again. Sounds like a roadway project in India.

45 minutes went by. "Take a look in the mirror. How does it look?". Frankly speaking, I was impressed. This guy was good. Really good actually. There was no sign of any cavity. The sensitivity was gone. All this without much pain.

I was beginning to like this guy. So much so that I even got a follow up appointment fixed. All my inhibitions vanished. The doctor, though a little cranky but very caring and fatherly, was an expert at his job. I would be visiting him more often to maintain my teeth. And would highly recommend everyone else to do the same. There's nothing like healthy teeth. Cheers.

Thursday, July 10, 2008

He's my dad

I was in his hands when I was taken home from hospital for the first time after my birth. He's my dad.

He took me to kindergarten for my admission and, when I fell off the slide that day at the playground, he was there to pick me up. He's my dad.

On my first day at kindergarten, the moment I realized that he was going away, I started crying uncontrollably. I kept crying. And he came back. He couldn't leave. He's my dad.

Whenever I missed my school bus, he would drop me to school. And every single time, he would hand me a Dh 1 coin to buy something at the canteen. He made me feel like a king. He's my dad.

At my first sports meet, he bought me running shoes. Shoes that were pricey and beyond our modest budget. But he still bought them for me. He's my dad.

Every time I scored good grades in school (specially in Maths), he would smile and look at my proudly. He's my dad.

When mom went to India for a few weeks, he tried to help me not miss her much. He took me out to my favorite restaurants, to parks, to the arcade, to my friends, he did everything that an eight year old would want. He's my dad.

When I had undergone a minor surgery, he fainted because I was in pain. He's my dad.

He helped me through the confused phase of adolescence. He shared his experiences & wisdom with me. He shared his dreams and aspirations with me. He showed me how to talk like a man. He showed me how to walk like a man. He showed me the difference between right and wrong. He's my dad.

At my first step of success, class 10 board exam results, he was with me, next to me, while I saw my grades. He's my dad.

He supported my interest in sports, pushed me to go for training and just weeks before my class 12 board exams, allowed me to participate at the national sports meet in India. He paid for my ticket and expenses despite the extreme financial crisis that we were in. He's my dad.

The day I left home for college, he cried. And cried each time he entered my room and would not find me there. He's my dad.

For four years, he fulfilled my every single need and desire without a question. His greatest dream was to see me as an engineer. And he did. He's my dad.

He let me choose my career and, without second thoughts, let me go away again for my MBA. He came to the airport and cried seeing me leave. He's my dad.

When I got my first job offer through campus, he was the first person I called. His joy knew no bounds. He's my dad.

On my first day at work, I called him to take his blessings. He wished me loads of professional success, growth and prosperity. I have not run out of those wishes yet. He's my dad.

The day I got my first salary, he said he was very proud of me. He's my dad.

When I got back from Dublin last December, he hugged me and told me that he had never missed me more than he did over the last 2 weeks. He's my dad.

But the truth is, I am more proud of him. I am proud to be his son. Proud to carry his name after my name. Proud to call him my dad.

It's his birthday today. Happy Birthday, Dearest Dad.

Thank you for making me the man I am today. Thank you for everything.

Jaane Tu...Ya Jaane Na - Movie review

Saw the latest from Aamer Khan banner last night. Here are my ratings:

(Does not contain spoilers)

Arc: (Low)ish - (High)ish - (Low)ish

Star power: 2 (All new comers. Some cameos from Naseeruddin Shah, Paresh Rawal, Sohail and Arbaaz Khan, Kitu Gidwani and Rajat Kapoor)

Mumbling quotient: 9 (Sounded clear)

Bladder: 7 (Depends on the size of your coke! Just over 2 and a half hours)

Artistry: 6 (Not the typical Rehman ......but yes, it does come in flashes here and there. 'Kabhi Kabhi' is a nice foot-tapping number. Otherwise, overall, about average. Some scenic locales add freshness to the movie)

Sadism: 0 (A romantic comedy - what sadism?!?)

Originality: 1 (Very common story line. Every couple of years a movie like this comes out. Infact Genelia played a very similar character in Tujhe Meri Kasam with Ritesh Deshmukh)

Incomprehensibility: 0 (If you can't figure this one out, stick to Tom & Jerry, dude!)

Humor: 8 (Now, this we have in plenty. Some clever, some 'duh' and some spontaneous - its all good)

Scariness: 0 (You don't need to carry NTG)

Suspense: 0 (No prizes for guessing this one!)

Overall: 7 (The movie is predictable. Imran Khan looks good and makes a promising debut. Some characters look out of place but this is a light script so it really doesn't matter. It is an enjoyable movie but only for those who don't take cinema too seriously and are looking for plain entertainment. Movie defies logic more than once. But again, it's just a movie guys. We need a few like these as well. So just chill and enjoy the popcorn!)

Monday, July 7, 2008

Disappointing weekend

This weekend was way too disappointing for my liking. The buildup was phenomenal but the climax, a complete anticlimax.

1. Federer lost the Wimbledon finals to Nadal.
2. India lost the Asia cup finals to Srilanka.
3. Ferrari not on the podium at the British F1 Grand Prix.

Bummer.

Even worse, they lost to guys or teams I despise the most!

BUMMER!

Thursday, July 3, 2008

Inflation in UAE

For years I never understood inflation. Not even the definition nor the concept. All I knew was that the prices increased. Stuff got dearer. But why? No clue. How? No idea!

Then I moved to the Gulf last September. And this region has been experiencing a double digit inflation. So I was forced to take notice. What the hell is happening here? The cost of every damn commodity is sky rocketing. Two of the most talked about problems the region is currently facing are the rising cost of living and the depreciating value and purchasing power of the local currency, both of which are directly related to inflation. This made me think. Isn't this the most natural phenomenon for any region known for its exponential growth? And also for it's artificiality!

I think this is a direct result of being complacent. Anyone who knows two of the most commonly used words in macro economics will understand what I am talking about. 'Demand' and 'Supply'. When there is excessive demand for a certain commodity, the prices will go up. When there is a monopolistic scenario where greedy traders control the market, the prices will go up. When there is no liaising within the UAE on fiscal policy, the prices will go up. The fact of the matter is that the country has bit more than it can chew. It is a vicious circle. With increasing multi-billion dollar real estate projects, millions will be required to populate the offices and residential units. This will in-turn increase demand exponentially for basic commodities like food, schools, hospitals, transportation and other factors that go into an individual's monthly expenditure. Where there is demand, there is inflation. Inflation and development go hand in hand. To reduce inflation, demand has to come down. And, with the number of projects announced daily, this may not be far away.

Increasing interest rates will not help. It will only reduce liquidity in the market. People will not be able to buy those billion dollar properties. That will reduce the demand. And they can't afford to do that. They need the money. It is a double edged sword. In all cases, they need to sustain high demands. But inflation hits all commodities. Even the industry that started it all - Real Estate. Thus higher costs will also affect the developers. Several will go bust, leaving incomplete projects, and in some cases, projects not even started with desperate investors in the lurch. What next? Chaos. Damaged reputation. Demand falls. In the meantime, with the US economy under recession, what happens if the dollar peg breaks? The value of the local currency increases that will paralyze the non-oil economy as it will drive exports down and make it more expensive to sell property. Demand falls further. What next? Oil prices? US-Iran crisis? I don't want to think any further.

For now, I am happy to buy a tin of Nido for Dh 74, which was Dh 30 a couple of years back, and pray......that my employer increases my salary! :)

Tuesday, July 1, 2008

UAE driver license

I flunked my driving test last week. This is a strong enough reason for me to sulk. But guess what? I'm perfectly fine. It was just my first test I tell myself. Nothing to be proud off though.

So, after I flunked, I asked the other 3 guys with me if it was their first tests as well? These are the answers I got:

Seventh, Fourth and Fifth!

I was like...what?!!? They were laughing at me. These guys just flunked yet another driving test and were perfectly cool about it. How? Why? Had they resigned to their fate? Did they know something that I did not? What am I missing?

Anyways, there were four of us in the car and only one guy passed - the guy appearing for his fifth test!

So I think this is going to be a long journey! My next test is now on 4th August. A good one month of nothing before appearing for another test. And all this shit after I fuckin know how to drive!!

Getting a drivers license is a menace in UAE. So much so that there have been reports in the newspapers about it. Take a look at this:

http://archive.gulfnews.com/articles/08/06/17/10221535.html

I should take heed from the fact that I am not the only one suffering.

But why is it that this makes me feel better? The thought that there are others out there feeling miserable and helpless after failing to get a drivers license when they need it the most. People who are spending precious dirhams paying for extra classes and test fee. People who have to go through many inconveniences because they cannot legally drive their own fuckin' cars. People like me.

Friday, June 27, 2008

PDA - hunt and haunt

I've decided to buy a PDA.

I'm getting rid of my Nokia E65. No, nothing wrong with the phone. Trust me, it's great! But it is not serving my purpose, which is connectivity. By connectivity, I mean I want my emails, my calender, my files etc accessible to me 24/7. I spend 3 hrs in the car daily traveling to and fro from work. And on most days, I need to be wired. Having a laptop is ok but again, everytime I need internet on the move, I need to connect it to, yes, my cellphone (which doubles up as a modem). So I decided to modify this chain a bit. From Me -> Cellphone -> Laptop -> Work to Me -> Cellphone -> Work.

Easier said than done. This is going to have repercussions. For starters, big hole in my pocket (PDAs don't come cheap!!!), angry wife (Imagine sending out a quotation while I am strolling leisurely in the park with my wife), no peace of mind (There's always going to be some work). Maybe strained eyes too.

And, after much deliberation, I concluded that all of the above are manageable. Have a big commission check coming (Talk about counting my chickens before they hatch!), my wife is a sweetheart (She'll understand) and about peace of mind, what's that?? Oh, did somebody say strained eyes as well? Who?!

So, the next step, the million dollar question: Which one do I buy?!?

And this has been haunting me for over 2 weeks now!

Tuesday, June 24, 2008

Movie review - Sarkar Raj

I saw Sarkar Raj this weekend. Thoroughly enjoyed the movie. I think it was a fitting sequel to Sarkar. It was well connected and thought through. Had interesting, almost intriguing, twists and turns. I am rating the movie using a mechanism I thought about a few weeks back. Does not contain spoilers. Ratings are subjective.

Arc: (Low)ish - (High)ish - Really (High)

Star power: 9 (Aishwarya looked completely out of sorts though. But yes, both the Bachchans steal the show! A couple of new faces show promise as well)

Mumbling quotient: 9.5 (Crystal clear)

Bladder: 10 (You can make it all the way. A little over 2 hours I reckon)

Artistry: 8 (Camera angles, background score, cinematography and direction - Bang on!)

Sadism: 8 (Justified)

Originality: 6 (Maybe some dust from The Godfather series has rubbed a bit)

Incomprehensibility: 9 (Makes sense all along)

Humor: 2 (Hardly but unnecessary)

Scariness: 1

Suspense: 7 (Can keep you guessing)

Overall: 8.5 (Would have been a 9 if Ash wasn't part of this project)

Tuesday, June 17, 2008

Tiger Woods & Roger Federer - What is their secret?

Tiger Woods has clinched yet another major title, his 14th I think. The US Open 2008. Now he's only 4 away from the all-time majors record of 18 set by Jack Nicklaus. The great Jack Nicklaus. No other player in Golfing history has come even close to what these two have achieved. Truly the game's greats! But the greatest? Is it Woods or Nicklaus? This question has been baffling golf fans all over the globe. I think Nicklaus is the greatest right now! And I think Woods is on his way to greatness. And rest assured, by the time he hangs up his boots, he would have reached where no other golfer in history has ever reached. He's just 32.

A similar story is being scripted in another sport - Tennis. Roger! Roger! Roger!!! Yes, Roger Federer is close to reaching tennis immortality. 12 grand slam titles - and 2 shy off the record set by Pete Sampras. But like Sampras, Federer too has not won the French Open. Sampras never made it past the semis though. Federer has lost the final 3 times in a row to clay court nemesis Nadal. Does not take any luster of Federer's achievements and domination of the men's tennis circuit. Maybe just a little for the purists. He is and has been the world number 1 for the last five years, which is also the record for the most consecutive weeks as number 1. At 27, he has the second highest career earnings in history. For some, he already is the greatest ever! For some, he is one of the greats. And for some more, he is on the way! But you know what? Let's visit this space again in, say, 3 yrs, when he is 30 (usually the crossroads for all tennis players) and take up this argument. I think there will be no argument.

What's common between these two gentlemen - Mr. Woods and Mr. Federer? Couple of points come to mind right away - masters of their sport, rich, innovative, great suits and watches, the Gillette ad etc. But all this is superficial. I think it's the kind of human beings they are. Both of them have never been caught on the wrong foot or with their pants down. Both have exemplary behavior in public (on and off the court), superb sportsmanship, do not succumb to pressure, lead by example, support many noble and humanitarian causes, have revolutionized their sport, are honest and even modest. Millions of people all over the world look up to these guys. And, boy, have they obliged or what!

These two are great sportsmen but even greater human beings. They don't make too many of 'em anymore!

Friday, June 13, 2008

Dubai Taxi

Much has been said and written about the Dubai taxi. This is my attempt to uncover the other side of the story. These are my personal observations over the last 8 months. So here goes:

1. A taxi driver has daily targets varying from Dh 300 to Dh 400 per day. This varies between different taxi companies. Their fixed salary is on an average Dh 1800 per month. On attaining their targets, they get commissions (avg. around Dh 1000 per month)

2. They work 12 hr shifts usually starting anytime between 4 and 8 AM and vice versa. A couple of taxi companies have 24 hr shifts.

3. Different colors of the car roof top denote different taxi companies. Red, Blue, Green, Yellow, Orange, Blue etc. Red is owned by His Highness Shaikh Mohammad.

4. Taxis are not allowed to pick up passengers from bus stands except the Red ones. If they do, they are fined Dh 500. The shocking part is when there are too many passengers waiting; the RTA officer wants them to pick those passengers!

5. Some of them have to pay for their own fuel – usually Dh. 25-30 per day.

6. These guys drive close to 400-500 km each day within their 12 hrs.

7. They don’t have a designated lunch time or a rest time. If the RTA finds a taxi driver not accepting passengers because he is having lunch or resting, they are fined. Yes!

8. Some companies provide accommodation, food and annual vacation while others provide none and vacation is bi-annual. And if they report late for work from their vacation, they are not given keys for the taxi. They are at times called to office every morning and made to sit there till close of business and then asked to come back again the next day. This happens for 2-3 weeks before the keys are handed over. Some punishment, huh!

9. Once a driver completes his shift, he is supposed to go to the company, deposit the collections, get the car washed & pick up his partner driver. The partner then drops the 1st driver to his residence, visits the company again and logs in his attendance. And that is when his shift starts. This whole exercise takes close to 3 hrs. So for instance, if driver 1 completes his shift at 3pm, it is only by 6pm that driver 2 is ready to take passengers. That particular taxi does not accept any customers between 3 to 6pm. SO there must be hundreds of such taxis which are not doing business for 2-3 hrs daily, which sometimes are rush hours, just to change shifts – explains why there aren’t taxis on the road when we need them the most!

10. If they are involved in an accident where the driver is at fault, they are supposed to pay 10% of their car’s cost which amounts to almost Dh 8000.

11. If they don’t hit their target for the day, their commission takes a negative cut.

They toil around all day in traffic that we dread the most, sometimes hungry and not rested, working graveyard shifts, sitting at one place, working on minimal wages, away from their families for many months at a stretch, under the ever-so-prowling eyes of the RTA, with traffic laws getting stricter by the day!

Would you like to work this way? If yes, great! Next time a driver annoys you, do as you wish. But if it is a No, then spare a thought for these guys. Next time, before you curse them or blame them, think twice! I am not taking sides. Just bringing out their side of the story.

Wednesday, June 4, 2008

"Aamir calls Shahrukh a dog"

Headlines: Aamir calls Shahrukh a dog.

Really? Aamir called SRK a dog? Wow! Where? On his blog. What? In a public forum? Wow again! Some guts that man has. After all, who can say such a thing to the King Khan. Wonder how SRK would respond!

Easy to generalize and conclude such statements, right? And that is what our (in)famous press does these days. Well, let me retract. Aamir merely says that he has a dog named Shahrukh at his Panchgani home. That too the dog originally belonged to the caretakers of that house. He 'inherited' it when he bought the house. Some also say, he bought the house because of the dog, which I find hard to believe.

Coming to point why I am writing this post, so what if he keeps a dog named Shahrukh? Does SRK have a copyright over his name? Secondly, AK is known for his say-it-as-it-is approach. That's why he's AK. So how does it matter? It does matter to the press. They had a field day (for many days!). And to a few million die hard SRK fans. I am an SRK fan; more SRK than AK fan. But, if AK posts a comment like that, I give credit to him for doing what he does best - being himself. The man is the only guy who can say something like that and still stand his ground. And that too in writing! Flashback to the filmfare awards 2008: Everyone remembers the way SRK and Saif completely took apart their fellow colleagues with their timely, witty and, sometimes, gross (and offensive) gags. I remember telling my brother, "Only SRK can say all that and get away with it". But only AK can say something about SRK and get away with it.

Finally, there is someone in the industry who doesn't kiss Shahrukh's ass (unless Aamir plans to buy a bitc.....err female dog! Any guesses on it's name? ;))

Tuesday, June 3, 2008

Indian Premier League (IPL)

First chapter in cricket newest revolution has ended. The IPL concluded this past Sunday. It was curtains for one of the most successful cricket competitions in recent times. And what a story it has scripted. Baring the world cup, never has such interest ever been generated for Cricket. The T20s has taken the world, and now India, by storm. As if being world champions was not enough! And, rest assured, IPL 2 will be bigger, grander and larger than life! And I will be waiting.

Yesterday evening, for the first time, I realized how addicted I had become to it. I got back home at about 8.40pm, walked into my room, kept aside my cellphone, keys, wallet etc and walked back into the living room. Took me a few seconds to hunt down the remote and turn on the TV. And, as if by default, my fingers pressed '2', '1', '0' in quick succession that took me to SetMax. And, after I saw a young Amitabh Bachchan delivering dialogues in his trade mark style, that it hit me like a lightning bolt - No more IPL!!! It is over. Gone. Finished. Concluded.

My heart sunk. I was missing it. I was missing the IPL. As a ardent cricket aficionado, this was not good for me. My thoughts started scrambling - Why did it have to end? Would I get to see Warney in action again? or a pulsating Shoeb Akhtar running in to bowl? Before all this could get the better of me, I could hear my mind say what Agent Smith said, "Everything that has a beginning, has an end!" (Btw, my mind said it in exactly the same way and style as said by Smith in Matrix Revolutions! I don't know how it did that. Amazing the possibilities of a human mind.....human who?!).

I got in bed later at night and my wife asks me, "Everything ok?". I replied, "Yes. Why? Do I look like something's wrong?". She replies, " Yes. Since the time you got home, you look lost". Not knowing why she felt that way, I replied, "Everything's ok dear. Maybe I'm just tired".

Sorry honey. I did'nt realize it last night but did so when I got to work this morning. It's the IPL or, rather, the lack of it.

Thursday, May 29, 2008

Is the new V3 firmware available for your Nokia E65 model?

Following up on my last post,

The V3 firmware is available for upgrade from the V2 or V1 but you have to see if it is so for your specific Nokia E65 model.

To check if the new firmware is available for your model, click here

Your phone's product code is displayed as 'CODE' along with other details beneath the battery. Go to the link provided and enter that code.

My product code is 0553428 and the new firmware is available for my phone.

Monday, May 26, 2008

Milestone

Our lives have milestones. I know mine does for sure. I've never gotten around to actually jot down my goals in life, aspirations, '101' things-to-do before I die, milestones or stuff like that. And neither have I ever acknowledged a particular achievement or accomplishment as a milestone before. (Come to think of it, there have been quite a few already!) But yesterday, I realized, I crossed the biggest and, possibly, the most significant milestone of my life!

:)

Monday, May 19, 2008

Daag e dil humko yaad aane lage

Daag-e-dil humko yaad aane lage
Log apne diye jalane lage

Khud farebi si khud farebi hai
Paas se dhol bhi suhane lage

Ab toh hota hai har qadam pe gumaan
Hum ye kaisa qadam utha ne lage

Kuch na pakar bhi mutmain hain
Ishq mein haath kya khazane lage

Ek pal mein wahan se hum uthey
Baithne mein jahan zamane lage

Apni qismat se hai maqar kisko
Teer par aa ke bhi nishane lage

Daag-e-dil humko yaad aane lage
Log apne diye jalane lage.

Wednesday, May 14, 2008

Open your heart - Jon Bon Jovi

Some lines from Jon Bon Jovi's Open your heart....

Open your heart (I want to love you girl)

You made me love again (I want to show you my world)
I won't let them take your love from me
Open your heart (I want to love you girl)
And baby love again (I want to show you my world)
I won't let them take your love
I won't let them take your love
I won't let them take your love from me