Monday, January 31, 2005

And I'm lost... again...

Have you ever observed how some people appear to be born with an incredible.. almost unreal.. sense of direction. They always seem to know of multiple paths between any two points in the city... Path A if time is at a premium, Path B if you want to aviod traffic, Path C if you want to put your tyres, shock-absorbers and yourself through minimal pain, Path D if you want to have good food on the way, Path E if you want to go through MG Road... and so on. There was this story-with-moral that I'd read as a kid that renders itself to the context at hand quite well. The story goes something like this. "Little dude has a pet cat. Dude and cat are best friends. Cat disses off dude. Dude desides he's had enough of the stupid cat. Dude takes cat for long walk with intention of abandoning it. Dude leaves cat under a tree and bolts. Dude runs hard and fast and realizes he's lost. Dude, much distressed, sits by the roadside and sheds copious amount of tears. Short while later dude sees cat passing him by. Dude follows cat and reaches home. Dude, much relieved, sheds copious amount of tears. Dude and cat best friends again." The afore-mentioned gang is much like the cat in the parable. You could leave them blindfolded in a dark alley in some God-forsaken corner of the city and realistically expect to find them answering the doorbell when you got home (unless, ofcourse, they got mugged in the dark alley and ended up in the nearest hospital with the same amazing speed). As I said before, almost unreal, like something straight out of a Stephen King novel.

At the other end of the spectrum is this small set of people who seem to be hopelessly cartographically challenged. Normal in every other respect, but filled with an unreasonable dread at the prospect of having to navigate to the neighbourhood grocery store. And anything more than that is a project by itself requiring careful planning down to the minutest details involving temperature, atmospheric pressure, humidity, alignment of the stars etc., lest something go wrong and they find themselves on a road they hadnt planned to be on. Now life would be totally awsome (for me atleast) if i were a member of the amazing-direction-sense gang, but I'm quite clearly not. My idea of a successful excursion is taking my bike for its periodic servicing to the friendly neighbourhood service station navigating through the maze of one-ways that so inconviniently exist between my workplace and the service station, and getting it back post-servicing without making more than five wrong turns in either direction. This ordeal I got to repeat every couple of months and it never gets any easier. Through much soul-searching and plenty of experience I have realized that it would probably not be possible for me to gain admission into that exclusive club of "Navigation-Supermen" even if I devoted the rest of my natural life exclusively to that pursuit... besides, it would be totally lame to do so and I'd probably go down in the history books as the stupidest human that ever lived, which is really not quite the way I want to be remembered. And as I discovered on my recent trip to Hyderabad, the city I had spent the better part of my past 25 years in, my particular shortcoming does have its advantages. It was like visiting a whole new city, complete with all the thrill that accompanies such an experience 8-) .. until later.. cheers

Thursday, January 13, 2005

The power of good cheer

I guess anyone reading this post is well aware that I'm not the kind of person that gets up in the morning thinking, "Oh boy! I cant wait to get to work." Infact work is about the last thing on my mind when I get up in the morning.. and that too only because try as I may, I cant banish it totally from my thoughts. And when I get to work my philosophy is: The pretense of work is more important than work itself.. or some like that, and to that end I always try to create an illusion of working hard without actually doing anything spectacular. In the mean, I do a whole lot of non-work that keeps me happy and cheerful, with the result that I always have a goofy smile on face and am always in mood for small talk and banter. Consequently, I have an excellent rapport with all my collegues who, I suspect, regard me as a bit of goofball who's fun to have around. So, thats about things at work... Now there's an old Chinese saying that goes, "Man that pretend to do work sometime need to do work." ... ok, I made that one up, but I'm pretty sure the Chinese did have something to that effect. They have wise sayings for all conceivable... and some inconceivable.. situations. Anyways, the point I'm trying to make is that this man.... er, me in this case... realized the truth in the saying a couple of days ago... and not in the most pleasant of circumstances either. A day before a key deadline someone discovered that my component was refusing to work in harmony with the rest of the product and my manager almost had a stroke. All this, while I was having a peaceful cup of coffee in the cafeteria. Emissaries were despatched to far corners of the building to locate me and not long after that I found myself rushing to the scene of the disaster. When I got to the S of the D, I found that a couple of my colleagues were already on the case. I just stood by, making knowlegible sounds and nodding my head solemnly from time to time, as I stared at the monitor with no clue about what was going on. In about an hour's time my colleagues managed to isolate the problem and suggested a solution to me. It was then that I realized that I would, by myself, have taken substantially longer just to identify the problem. Armed with the knowledge of how to proceed, I proceeded to my desk to be productive for the first time in a very long time.... and boy, it was tiring. I did manage to get the fix in just before the deadline, much to the delight of my manager who commended me for my efforts. And I had my colleagues to thank for that. For all I know they might have taken up the task of identifying and isolating the problem because they had nothing better to do in life but I'd like to think that they did it because they genuinely wanted to help me. And they probably wouldn't want to help me all that much if I were a taciturn chap who kept to himself and made for very uninteresting company, which I probably would be if I buried myself in my work. So, if I were a diligent worker I probably wouldnt have got the help I did, and would most likely have been in some really hot water by now... wow... Is life ironic or what... 8-) .. until later... cheers..

Friday, January 07, 2005

What's in a name..

If you ask me.... everything. Your name is your identity. It's how you will be known to the world. Now that it's been established unequivocally that your name is indeed a pretty big deal, consider the fact that you have absolutely no say in deciding your name. Invariably, your name is born before you are. And in the few cases its not, things are not much better. By the time you are in any kind of position to assess the impact of your name on your life, its too late. Case in point, "Pushkaraksh". Now who in their right mind would willingly have a name like that? unpronouncable, almost impossible to spell correctly and looks & sounds like a random collection of letters someone sneezed out. Worse still, no one quite seems to know what it means or stands for. I've lived with that name for 25 years and have still not been able to figure that out. I have lost count of the number of times I've been asked what my name stood for. And I always had trouble answering that question till i came up with a neat answer. Now anytime I'm asked the question, I just say, "It occurs in the Bhagwad Geeta", with reverence and that puts an instant end to any follow-up questions that the potential inquisitionists might have had.
At this point you might be tempted to ask, "So, you got a very unconventional name. What's the big deal?" ... allow me to explain.
  • I've always been happy with people calling me just Pushkar, but for some reason people feel impelled to use my full name. I'd be ok with that too, if only they got it right. Over the years I've seen my name mutilated beyond recognition over and over again.... Pushkar-sh, Pushkar-ksh, Pushkar-esh, Pushkar-akash, Pushkar-sha ... the list goes on.
  • Now to my name truncated to Pushkar. For some reason my friends always found it very amusing. Push being push, and "kar" the hindi equivalent of "do"... and they thought it the smartest thing in the world to call me "Pull-kar"... or pushing me and saying, "but thats what your name means, doesnt it?"... and when they got computer literate and learnt about the "stack" and push and pop in connotation with the stack, there was a new addition to the list of names I was called... "Pop-kar"
there's more such incidents, but i guess you get my drift. Having a good name is like winning the lottery. One in a million. For the rest of us, I guess we must just learn to live with our names and look at the bright side of it. In my case, if you google-search "Pushkaraksh", a handful of links get thrown up, all of which point to me.. Now that is something I can live with. And hey, things could always have been worse.... I could have been named "Gaylord Fokker" :) .. until later... cheers...

Thursday, January 06, 2005

Why am I here...

Well, I really dont know why I'm here.. or what I plan to have in my blog ... or how frequently I plan to post... or any other deeply philosophical questions like those. Its been a tough day at work pretending to be busy while actually not doing anything particularly useful. I've come to believe in the saying, "Work's not supposed to be fun... thats why it's called work.." and anyone who says they enjoy their work are clearly lying. Well, they may actually be speaking the truth, but i prefer to think they're lying.. it's much easier for me to hate my work that way.. and one more thing i believe in is that managers exist to make life miserable for their underlings... it gives the manager a warm feeling inside to see his subordinate in pain and suffering... and it makes a manager truly ecstatic if the above-mentioned pain and suffering has been inflicted by him. I'm a big fan of the Dilbert comic strip and feel the pointy-hair manager is a fairly accurate representation of the average manager. And in true Dilbert style I've created a list to allow me to get maximum mileage doing minimum work. Today, feeling particularly generous, I've decided to share some of my infinite wisdom with the world I live in to do my bit to make it a better place for all of us. So, here goes:
  • Managerlogic: "Employee at his desk do useful work...", so stay longer at your desk... there's plenty of ways you can keep yourself entertained at your desk.. some of those can get you fired or even sent to prison, so try to avoid them.. some of the safer ways to entertain yourself at your desk include: posting to a blog, surfing the web, calling your girl-friend on the company phone... the list goes on.
  • Managerlogic: "Employee walking around with document in hand be productive"... so, when you decide to leave the sanctuary of your desk, make sure you got a sheet of paper in your hand.. doesnt matter if it's a printout of the amazing collection of one-liners you found when you were surfing the web doing the being-at-desk-and-looking-busy part..
  • Managerlogic: "Employee that send manager lot of status updates be doing lot of work..." you could use the system to your advantage here. If you spent the last couple of hours surfing the web and downloading large image files, you could send a status update saying you stress tested the network under extreme load and found the performance satisfactory.. or not.. as the case may be.
  • Managerlogic: "Employee that be in training get value-add that help him be more productive" .. this one is a gold mine. You could con your manager and enrol for all kinds of training ranging from French language classes (reason: "This will really help me deal with our client in Nice much better..." .. never mind that the client in Nice is Harvard educated and speaks much better english than you..) to Manager effectiveness training (reason: "I aspire to become a really effective manager like you.." .. and it doesnt hurt a bit that the instructor for the class is that really cute HR chick....)
  • Managerlogic: "Employee that look busy be busy" ... so, always try to look as if you're trying to solve a problem on which the fate of mankind depends. walk really fast, have a permanent frown on your face, talk to yourself and look lost in thought. This has a very welcome side-effect. People will think you have rabies with the result that they make way for you at the coffee vending machine lest you lose it and bite them in the ass. As for you, less time spent at the coffee machine means more time to be at your desk and browse...
well, there's more pearls of wisdom where those came from, but presently my fingers have begun to hurt from all the typing.. so while you guys digest all the wisdom, I'll return to my browse-and-look-busy routine... until later.... cheers