Saturday, April 30, 2011

A Dog’s day out

Stealing = Replacing?

Today when I saw my husband wearing a different helmet, I was all prepared to ask him where did he lose the original newly bought helmet, thinking how irresponsible! I instantly asked him “Whose helmet is this?” He replied, “Last week when I left my bike in the Mysore bus stand parking, I had left my helmet on the handle; when I came back, it was replaced by this helmet”. I was like “Wh..wha..what? whaaaaat? Why ..how? Really HOW!!!”. I was too mentally exhausted to even get angry at this situation. Apparently the person took our bigger & new helmet and replaced it with his own. But my husband seemed cool as a drink! So I asked him, do you like this helmet? He answered happily, that the helmet is perfect; the previous one was big and bulky. This one fits him correctly, it’s smaller in size and it has a cool tinted glass visor which is good for the sun J The previous one was really too bulky, he looked like with an alien head or like one of those virus fighting officers in the those apocalyptic movies.
So I don’t know what to say to our stealing replacer or replacing stealer! May be “Thank you”? J

Thursday, April 28, 2011

Magic Numbers - 'The Pulse'

Today I stumbled upon this band named Magic Numbers and I totally fell in love with their songs and music. Here is a song to share :)

The big question of GOOD NEWS!

Last year, I had read an article in TOI – may be a Sunday glossy edition; how having a baby is a matter of public discussion in India. It was like someone wrote my words in the paper. The author discussed the age old topic of having a baby right after your marriage; relatives & neighbors & pretty much anyone is allowed to invade our privacy by asking, “So when is the good news? When are you having a baby?” The author correctly said that it is incorrect to discuss my personal bedroom information out in public. And really what is the rush to make a baby right after you marry. It must have been the case in previous generations where women stayed at home, cost of living was affordable, not all the kids born will study etc..Today our generation is so much different even from that of our parent’s! As a matter of fact I see vast level of difference in thinking and ambitions even with the generation of my cousins who are just 2-5 years younger than me.
Today, there are number of factors that we might have to consider before having a baby. The cost of living in the big cities has sky-rocketed. Needs like a house, a car have become a must and they are really expensive too. Education in India has become so expensive with private schools charging a huge sum of money starting from kinder garden. In these times, when I have a baby I want to be sure I have enough money to raise it in a descent safe environment with good quality food, clothes and school. All these factors were not such a big deal in the past. Even the number of kids is important. I believe to have one kid and provide it all the facilities than have 3 or more and then run out of money, patience and end up frustrated with the situation. Moreover, being an Indian I think we have to do something about the population control, right? It is our kids who will have to face the competition of large number of kids at their times. When our parents studied they probably had 15-20 students per class, my times we used to be from 60-90 per class. Imagine what it will be in 2025! Either we pay lakhs of rupees to make sure our kid is in a school with less number of students per class or go to regular cheaper affordable schools with 100 students per class, where the teacher barely knows 20 names in her class. Let alone be personal attention!
Beyond this, there is personal interest too. Our generation is much more ambitious than our parents with respect to career and education. Forget 10th or 12th grades, even the Masters Degree has become too common now. I have friends doing PhD! Friends trying for better jobs, better locations, better companies, better salaries, better life! Remember the old hindi movie dialogues “Ladka padha likha hai, sarkari naukri hai etc etc”. (The eligible groom is educated and has a Govt. job). How many of our generation actually look forward to Govt. jobs in India?
I do face the ‘good news’ question once in a while; but not as much as I had imagined when I moved to India. When you stay away, the question is not on your mind. But the mere thought of moving to India, makes us think of answers to the social question of, “Any good news?” I have to mention that I have very broad-minded in-laws and parents to support us in letting us decide our lives. It is a very big factor in India, where parents dominate in decision making even after your marriage! I think the trends are changing and we do see more career-oriented couples these days. Basically there are many more levels to consider in our generation. Again I know the ‘you don’t have to put so much thinking blah blah’ kinda comments people would make. I think it’s quite ok to think, plan and move ahead. Being Indians we all HAVE to have a child, there is no escape from the society and relatives etc. But what is wrong, if we think ahead of time for a better future of our child?

Wednesday, April 27, 2011

Beep…Horn..Honk…Noise

The concept of a horn on the vehicle…what was it at the beginning and what is it now? The horn as I understand should be for an alarm to others in sudden situations of possible collision. This I am saying with respect to India of course. In the US, it is just to curse at someone driving incorrectly in most descent cases; and of course this again happens very rarely. Like it’s an insult to be honked at in the US. In the time I lived there, my husband never ever let me press the horn button in the car. Not even in the parking lot. Because it’s illegal or wrong or whatever, to honk without a reason. I would say to him, “I don’t even know how our car honks, one small beep? Please”. Never got to do that! L
Now that I am back here in India, it’s NOISE on the streets. My cab driver uses his horn like an UGLY sound translation of saying “Move …move..move move move....out of my way…move move” which sounds like “Honk…Honk…honk honk honk…honkkkkkkkkkkkkkk!!!!!” And this is the case with everyone on the roads. Honk was supposed to be like, “wow! Look out. We almost collided”, but now it’s like “Move..I gotta go…get out of my way..movee ..Dude, just move!” And since everyone honks, everyone ignores too! So there is more and more noise! Most of the times my driver honks at people standing at a red light! What is that supposed to mean? Really! When that happens to me when I am out with my husband, I totally turn back & throw up my hand in the air asking “WHAT??” Can’t they see the red light? When did the rule change to drive through the red light? I totally don’t understand the ways of driving anymore, the more I analyze the more my head gets crazy! Not to mention the different volumes of honks we have on the street! But really, why do we honk so much? I would really like to have a NO-HONK day in India. That would be something isn’t it? Imagine the levels of noise pollution we would reduce for ONE DAY!

Tuesday, April 26, 2011

Value of "MY" time

Today I had the most annoying experience of the HR of my company. They had arranged an induction program in the client company for those who can’t go to the base company. 5pm – 6pm was the meeting schedule. I reached at 5pm sharp. The HR couple, who sit in the same location as us, arrived at 5.06pm. Fine! Then the HR lady starts to struggle to get her presentation from some location to her laptop. Some network connectivity issue & she can’t get through. It’s 5.15, 5.25, 5.35. I had totally lost my patience. Finally at 5.45 I asked her openly in front of everyone, if she was going to be done with her presentation by 6pm, because some of us had tasks to finish before the end of the day. Of course she hadn’t started yet, so finishing by 6pm was out of question. I walked off the meeting with the option of attending it some other time.
The whole time I kept thinking what kind of HR management is this to be late first at the meeting. When you arrange a meeting, you are supposed to be present before the invitees, because you are the host. It’s like I invite you over to my place & I am out. How embarrassing is that? If you come late, at least be prepared to proceed with the meeting you have arranged! To come to the meeting and then hunt for the slides to be presented is utter mismanagement. You don’t deserve to be in HR management! My anger is with the fact that there is no concern of someone’s time. How can someone take my valuable time for granted? And it was a batch of about 20 people! I totally disagree with this behavior of wasting one’s time! 5 mins here and there is tolerated, but more than 45 mins and nothing happening, disgusting! For a huge company, it’s a very pathetic. I really wonder what they learn in their HR management courses. They can’t even do justice to the word MANAGEMENT and they have management degrees! Bite me!

Medical service in India

The recent article in the news papers of President Obama saying, he doesn’t want his citizens going to India & Mexico for cheaper medical treatments has been on my mind for a while. There a so many levels to this article from both US and Indian side. At first look it seems very offensive for an Indian. I instantly remembered how confusing the medical insurance logic used to be in the US. You always have to have insurance if you want medical help. Or the medical bills are enormous to get you bankrupt. Pretty much you can’t go to a doctor without any insurance. I remember my American friend once saying that he can’t take chances to fall sick, because he is low on his insurance & there were another few months to go for the year-up. I thought, how can we decide not to fall sick?
Next the task of getting an appointment with a doctor in the US is quite challenging. Doctors can be available sometimes only after months. If you want to see the doc immediately, the receptionist needs to be convinced that it’s an emergency. Again those have various rules & protocols! May be even calling a 911! Too disciplined and systematic! At such times we remember our Indian medical services from our childhood, where we would just stop by at any of the familiar clinics in the neighborhood for problems of cough, cold, fever, aches, EVERYTHING etc. If the doctor in the clinic refers to any other specialists or other hospitals, getting those helps are not that tedious either. Bottom line, we can get medical help any time we want. But quality is what matters! In India if you have the money, you can avail the best of medical treatments, no doubt about that. Our doctors are very efficient in their medical skills. Govt. Hospitals are cheap but lack in quality of medical help and other services. But Private hospitals provide all that is needed. We have the latest technologies and many successful ‘first time’ operations have been performed in India.
Moreover, India has the traditional old medical methods of Ayurveda and Homeopathy in comparison to only Allopathy outside India. We know how they are all herbal, natural, no side effects and have life-long relief from various ailments. There are various reasons why foreigners come to India for medical help, apart from being cheap. Though the President’s comment sounds offensive, the US needs to come up with a simpler method of medical care that is easy to understand and use. In the US, I used to be very careful not to fall sick due to the insurance logic. Now in India, I can fall sick without worries. As long as there are doctors and I have money in my pockets, I am good J
I think it’s an opportunity to make best out of the president’s comment; improve our medical services even more than now and at affordable prices keeping in mind the Indian pockets than the foreign ones! The statement itself proved that people come to India for the remedy, not just for cheap services. Foreign patients won’t come for cheap death, right?

Monday, April 25, 2011

Sathya Sai Baba’s Death

Finally the news was broke yesterday about the death of the Godman, self-proclaimed reincarnation of Sai Baba of Shirdi. Important declaration first: I am not a believer of such gurus or babas. But in reality we have tons of believers from all parts of society rich and poor, who follow Sathya Sai baba and many more. The recent Swami Nityananda episode was no new eye-opener of all the fraud these godmen run. I have really never bothered to follow the lives of these godmen. I have learnt that Sathya Sai Baba apart from his religious lectures also did a lot of social upbringing of the people. Free hospitals, schools, universities, clean drinking water projects etc. Apart from the videos of his magic’s revealed on youtube, I haven’t heard of any major scandal.
After his demise, there are many questions to be answered. I read that Baba himself had predicted he would live until 95/96 years of age, but he died at 84 years. How did that happen? Unless, there is the fictional concept of resurrection right away! The next big question is that of his trust – His Empire worth £5.5 billion now needs a chairman. Who will head it, how will they decide, so much of money can cause so much of greed and bad end to an institution to which a huge population around the world depended upon for hope, trust and a good future. Now that there is no godman, who will these weak people look up to?
The news papers are full of his stories; how the Baba never acted on invitations from scientists who challenged him of his magic, powers or knowledge. There were already news about Baba predicting his next Avatar to be from Karnataka state and now we see articles like abandoned boy in Maddur might be the next reincarnation of Sai baba. The whole event seems very crazy from believing a regular man to be God and then his huge empire spread across the globe and now the fight for the ownership of this empire. All that he taught in his spiritual preaching eventually goes to a toss, in the greed to get his property! As a normal human to another human, I wish his soul rests in peace.
I on the other hand, continue not to believe such gurus and instead do my duties sincerely. I have only one life and very little time to achieve infinite things!

Sunday, April 24, 2011

Wanna Park?

You wanna park? Parking here!!! Wait, too bad the shop owners got there first!
Parking board in front of a street shop

Wednesday, April 20, 2011

Shakti Campaign

Watch Video first!
I already saw a commercial about this campaign before. This video is very interesting with regards to record numbers, experiences, views and opinions. Frankly, I have the same views like all the women in the video. Women and men have lived together in a society forever. Then what is it that men find so intriguing about every woman to the extent of making heinous crime? Every man has a woman in his life in the form of a mother, sister, wife or a friend. Do they never consider that about every other woman on the street? Why don’t men feel threatened like women, where do they get the nerve to openly tease or touch women? It is the violation of basic human right. No human is allowed to touch you without your consent!
Even today when I step out there are several men who turn back & see or keep staring. Either it’s me or some other woman on the street, but the story never stops. Every time I see a man staring at a woman, it totally fires me up. There is no attire you can wear and make sure you won’t be looked back at. Since childhood I had been visiting Bangalore. Around in 8th grade I wore a pair of regular jeans and I was embarrassed by everyone on the street staring at me. Since then I never carried jeans to my Bangalore trips. Now of course the times have changed. But the ogling has not. Today morning I saw a pair of men looking & turning back at an Asian looking woman wearing a regular pair of capris. Harmless, and yet they looked. Have men ever thought how it feels to be starred at, ogled at! Would they like their moms and sisters and wife to be ogled at?
I have really never understood what kind of psychology the rapists have! It is hard for me to even force anybody to go for a cup of coffee..and there are men who force themselves completely..against the consent of the woman! Such criminals should be punished with the highest degree and these decisions should be made in quick time. The problem is with the fundamentals of our society; we have always had a male-dominated society; separate conservative rules are made for women while men have NO rules. Also women are raised with the fear of being delicate & easy victims; we are always told to be careful & watchful. Instead why are men not taught to respect women and treat them with dignity? An ideal society would be one that is not divided into men and women with different rules. We are all equal, no woman should need extra care and security and no man should have extra rights than women! Every woman should step out fearlessly like men do.

Hindi Dialogues

My grandfather is a big, big, BIG movie buff. In his younger days he was friends with the famous superstar, GOD! Kannada Actor Rajkumar. He shows me his black and white pictures with him, some famous Kannada actresses..not very interesting to me. Earlier he would watch EVERY movie running in the theaters. I remember one of my first movies I watched with him was TEZAAB! Now-a-days he’s too old to go to the theaters; moreover his hearing is not that good and of course he can’t relate easily to the latest movies & the topics. When I tell him about animation & computer graphics, he is too surprised & fails to imagine how it can be done on a computer! Couple of years ago, he was visiting me in Pune & he saw me working on my PC and said, ‘You have to be really very intelligent to work on computers. Regular people like me can’t do this!’ I couldn’t take so much appreciation, so I stopped him & made him sit with me to see how things work on a computer. I tried my level best to explain him an application like notepad equivalent to a manual diary. I explained him it’s no rocket science to work on a computer; anybody could learn & do it. At the end of notepad session, he still stuck to his opinion that we are more gifted & knowledgeable to work on a computer. DUH!!!
Anyways, recently my mother showed him a channel ZEE CLASSIC which shows ONLY old old hindi movies. Like really old that I can’t believe cinema shooting was so lame. Of course it has evolved, by lame I just try to explain how old the movies are, that play on that channel. My grandpa LOVES the channel! Anytime you come home, that is the ONLY channel on TV. We all are sick of it! Today morning he was watching “Sachaa jhutha” starring Rajesh Khanna, Vinod Khanna, etc…There was a scene of flooding in a village and a woman trying to collect her important belongings before everything is washed off.
The woman says “Jaroor kisi ne iss gaon me koi paap kiya hoga, jo itni badi baad aagayi” (For sure, someone in this village committed a huge sin to cause such a devastating flood). It may not sound funny now, but I laughed soooo hard at this one, in the moment. The dialogue just cracked me up….I kept laughing for a while. Remember those rainy day jokes? When certain parts of the city got heavy showers, we’d make fun that people in that part had sinned too much! Ha ha

Tuesday, April 19, 2011

Long long lonnnng names

Today when I got to fill up a template HR document, the format already had someone else’s name and I had to replace it with my details. The existing name in the name field had “Vignesh Kumar Naidu Babu Pappala” (name changed but the size retained). I know we have those long name jokes, but to see one myself was really hilarious.
I pinged my husband to share my humor, he replied back saying “Oh please! My friend’s name is Venkatesha Kumara Ashoka Raghu Rama Chandra Palladi” (name changed but size retained).
What are the parents thinking keeping such long names for their kids? I sympathize with the name bearers and the officials who have to deal with such long names. How do they come up with such long names really? May be every elder person in the family must be wanting his name to be a part. So the typical nomenclature that we have of [Name - Father’s Name - Last name] is probably replaced with Name, father’s name, grandfather’s name, great grandfather & uncle names blah blah blah Last name! How would the person remember his own name?
Good God! And I thought my name was long, Shilpa Suryavanshi.

The 'tube and bulb' effect

My grandpa has recently got a denture made for himself, for his upper jaw. When I first saw him, I had a head-shaking effect! Either the dentist has not done a good job or he’s not great with colors or they really don’t care about dentures for old people. What I am aiming at is that, when I first saw him smile, I saw a huge difference in the colors of the original teeth and the new ones. To break it down to simple words, the new denture is pearl white in color and of course the old original teeth in his mouth are not so pear-white! J
I instantly laughed at him saying, “Grandpa what is this? You have a tube-light and a bulb effect in your smile!” Ha ha…We laughed so hard. The upper jaw is of pearl white teeth and lower jaw is kinda off-white, let’s say it’s got a golden touch! Ha Ha…Aah the old age! I think he doesn’t bother about it as long as he gets to eats everything he craves for! At this age he still wants to eat all the crispy cranky junk food and I wonder what he would do without his pearl-white dentures!
After the humor we got from his colorful teeth, now the joke is on us; to see those dentures parked in a see-through box, when he’s not using them. There is something very sick about seeing dentures, I don’t know how but it totally turns you off! Bleecch!

Monday, April 18, 2011

A Healthy start

I have been living with my grandma for a while now; the new change of residence based on new job! Grandmas’ are a higher degree of love and care and pamper than mothers. As a matter of fact we have never been pampered by my parents. So my grandma who still calls me ‘putti’ (fondly calling to a little girl); insists me on eating at all times! I am a bit cautious to not put on weight. My logic is to keep a check on the weight before it’s late to start working out. And I am not much of a work-out person either; I never needed to before! The only work out I do is walking about an hour which by the way has obviously stopped due to latest new work routine.
Before, I was used to having cereal in the morning and light lunch & dinner. But ever since I started to live with my gammy, I eat good Indian-oily-heavy breakfast, then the same descriptive lunch, an evening snack which is again some bakery food item and of course a heavy dinner! When I tell her that I am putting on weight, she retorts back, ‘Yes! That is good. You need energy to work’. In my head I am thinking, I go by cab, I take the elevator, I sit at my desk & work & again come back home by cab. Where do I need the energy?
Now after realizing that I can’t go my grandmas’ way I finally told her yesterday that I shall not eat anymore of her breakfast. Instead I have started eating cereal from today. So finally I have successfully stopped a super calorie diet and I plan to reduce it each day. Today I had a good day with light breakfast of cereal, lunch packed by me and a descent dinner; could not resist her much at dinner timeL. After all she’s my gammy! J One day at a time & I shall conquer over my grandma’s over-loving & pampering to grow healthy!

Sunday, April 17, 2011

The Beauty of Dosa


Saturday breakfast was regular dosa and sambar. The batter was so well fermented that every dosa looked just awesome!

Friday, April 15, 2011

“STANDING IN LINE” – Beyond Indian understanding?

Today I was standing in line at the cafeteria to pay a bill. There were couple of guys standing randomly around the counter. I still stood a bit distant from them, as if in an invisible line. A guy just came stood ahead of me like I am invisible! I was so annoyed! Was it not obvious that I am standing for a reason in front of the billing counter? Do I look like a fool to just hang around there? At least ask me if I am in line. What kind of etiquette is it, to just go ahead breaking lines and ignoring others who sincerely stand in line? I didn’t let him go. Though I have a bad sore throat today and I sound so horrible, I still said to him in my hoarse voice “Excuse me! I am standing in line.”  He promptly went & stood behind me. Already having no etiquettes, he had no manner to even apologize!
Same day incident 2: I was standing in coffee line and two people ahead of me decided to get coffee/tea for the rest of their team who arrived late after a bunch were in line. So Wrong!! Shouldn’t they be standing in line too? Not fair that you have friends getting things for you because they are already ahead in line. The other day I had to drink tea, because the coffee was out!
In spite of working in such world class companies, these engineers don’t have any etiquette at all! It is so upsetting. Really, all that education and high-paying jobs can’t bring you a bit of class? Not asking for much here! What is with Indians not understanding the concept of standing in line? Every time we stand in line there is some idiot going ahead of us making us look like fools!!!

IT sector employments

Since I started work, I have noticed that the IT boom in India had really introduced so many employment opportunities for different classes of the society.
1)      Cab drivers
2)      Men and women for cleaning purposes
3)      Help men for small things like brining in your printouts, fixing the printer
4)      A IT helpdesk where engineers fix different things starting from setting up your laptop, making all installations, setting up your inbox etc.
5)      Food catering and may more that I wouldn't know of.
Much of the help provided is really not required, but it does provide employment for the needy which is good in a way. Today when the printer was out of paper, I had to call a helpdesk, raise a request so a boy comes with paper & fixes it. It is his job! At Microsoft, we’d do it ourselves unless the printer would be screwed up and you would have to raise a request to fix it. Even with the machines, at Microsoft you have to install OS and everything, yourself from scratch; there is no department of engineers that will do it for you. It is good for the knowledge purpose, I prefer it this way! But it’s a different story in IndiaJ. The cleaning ladies are given jobs to clean everything around the premises, including furniture, window panes, cubicles everything! The floor is constantly wiped by a person, so much that I would think twice before stepping a foot!
There is fleet of cabs which run between the company and the pickup points of employees. Though it’s not a great pleasant job driving in Bangalore traffic, they do it willingly for the money.
But all these are good opportunities for people who haven’t been able to educate themselves for their reasons and yet they can now make a better living than if there were no such opportunities. And I am just talking about one company; imagine the endless list of IT companies in Bangalore itself. No wonder the IT boom has brought in benefits for the whole society. It has increased the standard of living of everyone in the city! J

Wednesday, April 13, 2011

A Lady and Gentlemen


I was reading an article in the paper the other day that discussed about girl-child killing. And that in the coming decade, India will exceed China in the same! China has its policy of one child to control the population. In India, though we don’t have such a hard and fast rule to control the population, there are so many hopeless traditional beliefs of having a son than a daughter! I did not know that the amount of girl killing was still so high in India in these modern days.
But these days everywhere I go I really do see very less women. Starting with my joining to the new company, I was one girl among 12 men on the joining day. It was so weird that at one point a late coming new joinee came straight to me thinking I was the HR and he started talking to me about his joining. I kept waiting for a long time, but in vain; no other lady joined the company on the same day as me.
Now that I am taking the cab service to work each day, again I am the only girl in the cab. Today, I had to come in a 6-seater car like Qualis. I was the only girl amongst the driver and 4 other men passengers. As awkward as it was, the cab service guys made sure that I sat right in the front, next to the driver. The person who was already seated was moved to go back in the cab and the driver was notified to drop me first. I appreciate the care and first service they give to women, because the work hours are late …8pm. Generally, I would not like to be treated separately because I am lady, but based on all the scary incidents that have happened in the past with cab drivers and women commuters, I really appreciate the service and the fellow men that care to provide better experience. J
What are all the men going to do if there aren’t equal number of women in the future? They would not be left with a choice but sing “Lady Gaga’s song – I was born this way”! ;)

Tuesday, April 12, 2011

Continued…from Breaking news article

As I had mentioned earlier, that I fired my super-smart maid, here is how the story goes! Before I fired her a week ago, I had my mother in-law and another guest visiting us, all family. As per my deal with the maid, I was supposed to give her clothes to wash only on alternate days. One of such days, I gave her to wash my mother in-laws clothes, which pretty much covered the space on the wire to hang them to dry. She did not let go the opportunity to say that “You should soak less clothes. Now see there isn’t enough space to hang them to dry!” I didn’t want her to win her way like always. So I replied back instantly, that it was just one such day she had to wash more clothes what is the big deal? She immediately retracted from her previous statement saying she didn’t mean to say the load was much! Like I can’t read between the lines!
Another day passed and I used to fill up the whole sink with utensils to wash; the sink size is quite small. While washing the utensils, she turned to me and said “You should give me 600/- from next month. I agreed for 500 but see how much work I do”. Let me break down her work first-
1)      Utensils every day
2)      Sweep every day, wipe alternately (Sweeping is really not sweeping, because she barely touched the broom to the floor!)
3)      Clothes wash on alternate days
4)      I am out of town almost every week for 2-3 days for interviews, and she doesn’t work those days
5)      Sudden holidays for her random festivals of gods I have never heard of, I would say my bad!
So in a month she had worked hardly 15 days! With this break up in my mind and the fact that I had landed two jobs in Bangalore, I giggled….no wait, I LAUGHED wickedly in my head and said, “600 right? From next month? DONE! For this month 500 as per agreement. Next month 600! For sure.” I couldn’t wait for the day when I would tell her that she was fired and that I don’t need her less-than worth services!
I could sound so wicked in my mind, but in reality I can’t put it out; as already seen in my maid articles she ruled me! So when the time arrived, I just told her that I was going to stay with my mother for a few days and hence I don’t need her to come anymore. And paid her the 500/-
Goodbye Radha!

Software Testing - Great career!

After my bachelor’s degree in computers, I started my career as a Software Tester. Back then, my father who has electronics degree used to keep on touching the issue of me, working as a developer. In his words he would say, “Shilpa, I think you should be into software development; because you are a software engineer. Testing is not a great career! Coding people get better salary.” I used to end up having arguments with him saying, I know my job and my career. The fact that being a software engineer, I know there are different phases of a software development process and hence there are different teams who together contribute to make ONE software. When I left my first company in India, I used to get a salary of Rs. 23k per month. I used to ask him, “You think the company pays me so much to do nothing or some worthless work?” For a fact I of course know my work, my domain and I am proud to be a Software Tester. It is no less than a developer’s job. As a matter of fact, unless we testers approve the developer’s work, their code, product would never reach the market. We are the ones who certify that their work is eligible to go to the customers in the market! With that view, I could say a piece of code is nothing unless tested and verified to be correct, now doesn’t that make a tester much in control of the process! J
The whole process of software development we know how it goes, every team contributes equally. There is no one higher or lower in the activities. But even today, for some reason ‘Software Development’ is considered as a much high-profiled job. With no knowledge of software processes, even now I get comments from relatives saying why I don’t get into development! No thank you. I have made a decision very smartly based on my interests, personality and ability. I love my job profile of tester and if I have to belong to any IT domain it would always be Software Testing.
Here is an article from Times of India, to all those who think Software testing is a low-profile job! It is NOT! J
Article in TOI - 12th Apr 2011

Monday, April 11, 2011

Salaam Salem


Super old station with old-fashioned cardboard
 tickets and train schedule painted on the wall.
Over the weekend, we travelled from Bangalore to Salem to visit some relatives and a temple inauguration function. Seriously, I don’t know how but every time we go there, it is this crazy super hot weather time. From Bangalore itself we started with a slight heat wave; once the train stepped out of the city it was beautiful view of mountains, farm lands and the huge rocky hills rather boulders.







Funny tongue twister names of stations
Vendors coming in every few minutes selling tea, coffee, sundal (yum), Churmuri (not so tasty dry bhel puri), other south Indian snacks like nippat, chakli.. you end up eating so  much of traditional junk food J. When we reached Salem it was 10.30pm; as we reach the place we already start feeling sticky & hot with the humid climate. It feels like it’s been an age since I had a shower and wait this is just the start.
When I step out, the city is soooo busy, loud and crowded. The city buses are up and running even at late hours. When I reached the bus stand, it’s even more bustling. All the shops are open and brightly lighted, there is crowd on the road like it is 5-6pm in the evening and traffic is just as busier as all. On the way to the bus stand I saw flower shops and the owner is nicely weaving garlands, the snacks shops are busy arranging things at the stall. At one point I just had to say, “What is wrong with this town? Don’t these people have homes to go to? Don’t they SLEEP at all?” It was 11pm at night and everyone is travelling to somewhere; I didn’t even bother to take a picture of the crowd. We learnt that the bus we needed to continue our journey was at 12.30am! So we visited one of the relatives place; had cool well-water shower J at midnight. It was so refreshing but mind you, by the time we reach back to the bus stand we were sweating all over again! The refreshing feeling was so short-lived L People there are just used to the heat. Like last year when I visited around the same time of the year, I was covering my head with a scarf and for onlookers I was uniquely different. One of our friends asked me too why you are wearing this cloth. I said in utter disgust, “THE SUN. It is so HOT here”, like it was not obvious enough. To that she took a moment to understand and then just giggled it off like Duh! How silly! A scarf!
“Tamilnadu buses”, I don’t know where to start from. First of all the boards on the buses are always in TAMIL ONLY. Any kind of text is nothing but tamil. I see two strong beliefs here; first they believe everyone can READ tamil and secondly no other people apart from tamilians travel there. There will be NO ENGLISH or HINDI board; anywhere! I was soooo glad to have family that could read and talk tamil. If I were left there alone I would pretty much feel “cast away”! Now once we enter the bus it is another whole new experience. The buses are highly lit even past midnight! The ticket conductor will start his work only after he puts on loud deafening music in the bus. Needless to say it is ONLY TAMIL music! For some reason they must believe that, 'we just started work and now everyone in the bus will also stay awake with us through the journey; so what if the bus is starting at 1am and normal people would want to sleep at this time!' We took chance to plead to the conductor about 4-5 times to reduce the volume, he would do it for a song and the moment another song starts his hand automatically goes back to the volume button. We had a word fight saying we were so disturbed by the loud music; to this he said “He can only function this way at that loud volume of music”. Our journey ended after two hours; I gave my dirty looks to the conductor through the remaining ‘loud awakened journey’! I believe that if I show my anger and disgust to such people they might change a bit; my husband every time just laughs at my stupidity saying “your looks don’t matter to them; they will stay just as they are”!
Beautiful Kolam outside each house
After sleeping for a few hours, we woke up at 6am. As we had already showered and come, we didn’t have to again! But the place was worth of a shower every hour. It was nice and cool in the morning. We saw beautiful kolams and rangoli’s outside each washed doorway of the houses. We had awesome authentic Tamilnadu breakfast – Parotta (also called as Burotta) with Coconut and tomato chutney and kurma. I wanted to take pictures of the man making them so swiftly and perfectly, but couldn’t. So I have a pretty famous video on the internet.
Once the temple rituals started we went to the location. It was a typical Indian ritualistic event, with the yagna, the flowers, the banana stem podium, the SMOKE…blah blah! They had a new kalash installation at the gopuram of the temple. At most of these events, there is some kind of a ritual where one or more devotees carry a copper pot full of water on their head and apparently, ‘the soul of god’ or GOD himself enters them and they wobble and look hypnotized. I don’t wish to hurt anybody’s feelings but to me it just so FAKE! I just think that it’s been a ritual since hundreds of years and anybody who carries the pot now has to demonstrate the look of the ‘GOD coming into the body’ or the whole show is incorrect, right? This I say even with an example that my bother in-law once picked up such a pot and nothing happened to him in the entire time he held it. When I heard this story from my husband, I was like See! I told you! It is all fake and it is a show that the people expect and enjoy and they just blindly follow it. 
Lunch preparation for all the devotees visiting the occasion
The only hard part is to see such a huge crowd of people believe such things even in today’s times! They all have the latest mobile sets with all kinds of technology and yet they believe these ideas.  When we look at them we feel the large distance between us and them, in “thinking and beliefs”.
Inauguration of the Kalash of the Gopuram
We finally retracted back our journey to banaglore. A peculiarity of the scenery I saw in Tamilnadu, is that it seems to be surrounded by mountains. But these mountains look all white and hazy even during the day time. I asked my husband why so! He says because tamil nadu is rich in iron, they have big steel industries, there is always digging and quarry work going on in these mountains and that is why they look so hazy because of the dust! May be! Next time I plan to go, it better be December!
Hazy moutains

Friday, April 8, 2011

Big and small companies

After 2 months of interview sessions and travelling every 2nd day between Bangalore – Mysore, I finally have two job offersJ. One of them is a small company and another is a MNC. I see a huge difference between the two companies starting from offer letter to procedures.

Big Company
Small Company
Slow in interview process and confirmation
Quick in interview process & confirmation
Big Salary
A bit less than the big salary!
An official offer letter in PDF format, salary breakdown, other legal bondings etc.
A general 4 line email saying they would offer xyz amount of salary.
Offers other benefits like medical insurance, travel allowance & facility
Nothing mentioned in the 4 line email!
The offer letter declares the date of joining
I was allowed to choose my join date J
Thorough pre-employment medical check up
Again, nothing mentioned
Require all kinds of documents & certificates from birth
Nothing mentioned!


But the major difference in the two companies would be the exposure and the learning opportunities and eventual career growth. From my past experience, I know working in a small company is always beneficial in the sense you get to learn a lot. There are opportunities in work and management, and we get exposure to leading teams & making decisions.
This will lack in big companies as there are enough people to do the jobs; if we don’t know a method or a technology someone else who knows it gets the chance to do the job thus missing the opportunity to learn it. And the recognition of work and credit is distributed in a big company whereas; small companies its more specific which adds as encouragement to work better.
I was in a big dilemma as to which one to choose. At this point of my life and career, there many dependencies I have to consider. Salary of course matters to an extent. Beyond that, living in a huge city like Bangalore, commute is major headache. So I had it into consideration from first, to apply to companies such that I can live close and not spend 4-5 hours in travelling each day. My approach for application of jobs was very straight forward. I knew which part of the city my husband would be transferred to. So I strictly applied to the companies in that area ONLY. This would help us to live & work in the same vicinity and save almost 4 hours each day.
I have yet to find a new place close to work, for now I manage from my uncle’s home in Bangalore. Thank god for that! J

Thursday, April 7, 2011

Jan Lokpal Bill - What is it?

Anna Hazare is fasting unto death since 5th April 2011. He is demanding enactment of a strong anti-corruption law - Jan Lokpal Bill - to ensure swiftness and certainty of punishment to the corrupt. Last time when Anna sat on fast:
1. 6 corrupt ministers in Maharashtra had to resign
2. 400 corrupt officers were dismissed from job
3. 2002 - Maharashtra RTI Act was passed
Across India, join Sri Sri Ravishankar, Swami Agnivesh, Arch Bishop of Delhi Vincent Concessao, Mahmood A Madani, Kiran Bedi, J M Lyngdoh, Shanti Bhushan, Prashant Bhushan, Arvind Kejriwal, Mufti Shamoom Qasmi, Mallika Sarabhai, Arun Bhatia, Sunita Godara, Swami Ramdev, All India Bank Employees Federation, PAN IIT Alumni Association, Common Cause, Foundation for Restoration of National Values and many other prominent organizations and leaders, as India comes out on the streets!  200+ CITIES WILL RALLY BEHIND ANNA!Salient features of Jan Lokpal Bill
1. Drafted by Justice Santosh Hegde, Prashant Bhushan and Arvind Kejriwal, this Bill has been refined on the basis of feedback received from public on website and after series of public consultations. It has also been vetted by and is supported by Shanti Bhushan, J M Lyngdoh, Kiran Bedi, Anna Hazare etc. It was sent to the PM and all CMs on 1st December.
2. An institution called LOKPAL at the centre and LOKAYUKTA in each state will be set up  Like Supreme Court and Election Commission, they will be completely independent of the governments. No minister or bureaucrat will be able to influence their investigations. Cases against corrupt people will not linger on for years anymore: Investigations in any case will have to be completed in one year. Trial should be completed in next one year so that the corrupt politician, officer or judge is sent to jail within two years. The loss that a corrupt person caused to the government will be recovered at the time of conviction. How will it help a common citizen: If any work of any citizen is not done in prescribed time in any government office, Lokpal will impose financial penalty on guilty officers, which will be given as compensation to the complainant. 
3. So, you could approach Lokpal if your ration card or passport or voter card is not being made or if police is not registering your case or any other work is not being done in prescribed time. Lokpal will have to get it done in a month’s time. You could also report any case of corruption to Lokpal like ration being siphoned off, poor quality roads been constructed or panchayat funds being siphoned off. Lokpal will have to complete its investigations in a year, trial will be over in next one year and the guilty will go to jail within two years. But won’t the government appoint corrupt and weak people as Lokpal members? That won’t be possible because its members will be selected by judges, citizens and constitutional authorities and not by politicians, through a completely transparent and participatory process.
4. What if some officer in Lokpal becomes corrupt? The entire functioning of Lokpal/ Lokayukta will be completely transparent. Any complaint against any officer of Lokpal shall be investigated and the officer dismissed within two months.
5. What will happen to existing anti-corruption agencies? CVC, departmental vigilance and anti-corruption branch of CBI will be merged into Lokpal. Lokpal will have complete powers and machinery to independently investigate and prosecute any officer, judge or politician. This movement is neither affiliated nor aligned to any political party.
Latest I read was that corrupt politician and Agriculture minister Sharad Pawar has resigned.

End Corruption - Support Anna Hazare

Recently, I had shared my anger and disgust about the endless corruption cases in India. And I used to discuss with my husband as why don’t people do anything about this! One or two scams are typical but each day a million dollar scam comes to light. Each and every politician is so deeply involved in fraud that they don’t even think once before saying they are innocent!
FINALLY, the famous social activist Anna Hazare has stood up against corruption and thousands of Indians are supporting him. Activists fasting for various reasons are very common in India. But this is truly for a great cause. I cannot praise him enough for starting a movement that will hopefully get the corrupt politicians behind the jail bars! I know it’s a long fight, but at least there is start now.
Here is a website you can join to support Anna Hazare.
More on politicians, recently after India won the world cup, every state government is giving away prizes to players participating from their states in the form of cash prize, land etc. The Karnataka chief minister didn’t stay behind; he declared lands for EACH player in the team. I stopped to think, who is going to pay for these lands? Is the minister paying these prizes from him pocket? Its either WE - the tax payers will pay for it or even worse, the poor farmers will lose their lands to some world cup they wouldn’t even know of! On what basis does the govt. decide to give away these prizes? Wait! Unless they are false commitments like one made to the differently-abled athlete Ramesh Tukaram, who was promised a land when he won the Arjuna Award from President APJ Kalam in 2002 and has not received it yet! (Not sure if I should laugh in disgust!)
This shows how “king-like” life, the politicians live who openly declare prizes at the cost of the tax payers, which is by the way ILLEGAL! Go Anna Hazare! Please help this country from this disease of corruption!

Tuesday, April 5, 2011

Cricket now and then...

Yesterday, on the occasion of Ugadi / Gudi Padwa /Hindu New year festival I went to visit my grandpa. A retired military cook and a very passionate cricket lover. So much that he watches every cricket match, any team, any series. Including the Indian premier league (IPL) matches which are ‘like play until you die’ kind of matches; they just don’t get over! I don't understand! Players play match after match; I really wonder when do they live with their families! And how many matches and results and records can we keep track of really? My grandpa does. He’s retired and I think IPL is the best thing for him to kill time at home, when he’s not on the road visiting places – his favorite pastime.
I hadn’t met him since the world cup match win; so when we met him yesterday and asked him, “Tata, how was the final match?” His toothless grin was so adorable. Instant glowing cheerful face with praises of the Indian team, he had a comment of every aspect of the match, bowling, fielding, batting, both teams etc. As we talked we realized he was there at the first world cup win in 1983 too. So we asked him how was that match and how were those times.
He remembers where he was on the day of finals in 1983 with West Indies. TV sets were not common then. Radio was the only medium to listen to cricket matches. They would sit in groups with paper and pen noting down the records of the match. Keeping track of the runs, wickets, overs on paper! Can’t imagine eh! Today, we have to see a replay and a slow motion, just the description of the wickets to us is not fun!
Cricket has evolved so much since 1983. And how lucky for my grandfather to WATCH another world cup win. And now he’s waiting to watch the IPL starting this week! Crazy cricket-loving Indians! J

Breaking news! ;)

Fired my extra-smart maid today for obvious reasons and better future options (to be continued...) ;)

Sunday, April 3, 2011

Child Labor

Today I had a positively productive evening, I hope so! We stepped out for a walk with a visitor we have today at home. On our way we stopped over at a temple, I generally go to. The best part about temples is the “Prasad” that you receive from the priest; they are just too tasty and yummy. I know I sound like a little girlJ. So after our prayers, I noticed that they were going to offer Prasad in those leaf bowls. I insisted to wait for it, so we sat in the nearby seating area.
My new friend - Apoorva
Before, I had noticed a girl about 12 yrs old smacking one of the two kids she was taking care of. When I sat down, the same girl came & sat next to me & questioned me instantly, “Akka (Elder sister), Where do you live?” Generally I wouldn’t answer such a question, but she seemed so innocent so I gave her the landmark to my house. She said she had seen me before in the temple. She asked me who the two guys were with me, brothers or friends? I said one was my husband and another friend. She gasped, “You are married? You look like a girl!” (blush J) Kidding! She slowly peaked at my toe rings and said she didn’t notice them before to know I was married. Moreover, she hadn’t seen married women in jeans! Hmm…I didn’t know what to say to that. I asked her name; Apoorva a very nice name. And then she came to her point saying, “Akka, if you need any help please let me know. I am looking out for work at homes”. I was a bit taken back. I asked her what her age was, she said 14. She really didn’t look old enough. I told her it is illegal to hire children below 14 to work. I asked her why she wanted to work; she said she has two months at hand and all her friends work so why not her!

I tried to explain her that her age is to play and study and enjoy like all other normal kids. Someday she has to work & earn like everybody, but then she can’t play or study. On enquiring, I got to know that she had no parents anymore and she lived with her elder sister & husband and the two kids belonged to her sister. I learnt that she goes to school and she just gave her 8th grade exams; which also made me realize that she is not 14 but much younger. I promised her that I would buy her books for her 9th grade, but that she should not work as a help at homes. I tried to explain her how she should study and educate herself and do a job in an office when she grows up. Apparently, her elder sister is working in some kind of office or factory, which is good. I tried to educate her about different jobs with minimum basic education, which would give her opportunity to do a decent job than wash clothes & utensils at homes.
Sadly, it is a new trend these days in India to hire poor girls from the villages who stay at home and take care of the kids and everything. This is very common with the highly-paid IT couples, who prefer to hire help because they are busy with their jobs. In fact, my mother had suggested me a while ago that if I settle in Bangalore then she knew a friend whose daughter has such a help. I stopped my mother right away and showed my anger regarding the topic of hiring a small girl. I told her no matter how busy my work life would get in future; I would never hire a young girl to take care of my house and family and that she should never bring this topic to discussion again. It is just wrong and educated people like us should not support or follow such trends. I understand that the poor families need money for their survival, but still I would not be a part of such employment.
I hope I could share some good knowledge with Apoorva and I plan to buy the 9th grade books for her. I might have disappointed her with respect to giving her a job. I still want to appeal to my IT friends that it is wrong to hire children. Please stop child labor!

2011 Cricket Worldcup winners?? Oh INDIA it is!

What a day, what a match, what a show! WHAT A TEAM! My day started with stepping out to finish some chores and every 15-20 minutes we saw groups of cricket fans on the streets on their bikes with the Indian flag and chants of “We want worldcup!!! We want worldcup!!!” Every time I missed taking a picture of them. We made it home an hour before the match. Prepared lunch. The game was interesting starting from the toss itself, with Dhoni asking Sangakara what he’d called for. Worldcup Final match and the referee did not hear the call?? Come on! As we started with bowling, the Indian team showed high class of fielding! Yuvi especially with his fielding is an inspiration to everyone in the team. Finally, the men in blue have learnt to dive and fall and slide on the ground to stop the ball!
We played very well until the last powerplay where Sri Lanka took good chance to make a big score of 275 which rather should have been about 230. When the Indian rock stars Sehwag and Tendulkar came on the ground, we’d hoped for endless big shots of 4’s and 6’s. But the wicket of Sehwag in the very second ball shook us! And the soon failing Tendulkar was like the land slipping off under our feet. Something in my mind kept saying we will still make it; Like from the movie Om Shanti Om, "Picture abhi baki hai" (The movie is not over yet!). In the past three matches the whole team has contributed in spite of Sachin failing soon. Gambir was the best player with his cool head and smart game play! Virat Kohli played a great game too. Dhoni for the first time in the whole series played the game he used to play in his new days in the Indian team, so aggressive! Yuvi as usual was a bit hasty yet Dhoni like an elder brother was controlling his mood and his strikes. The winning 6 was the only thing I was waiting for. The team earned yesterday’s win and the cup. We screamed and yelled & clapped endlessly!
Sangakkara’s post match interview is one of the finest ones I have heard. In comparison to the Pakistani captain, Sangakkara showed his sportsmanship by declaring that the Indian team played very well. In his words “The way the Indian team played today, they deserve the cup. When you have such an awesome batting line-up, even 300 is not enough. (Their) batting is unbelievable, best in ODI cricket, they have a good captain. MS is very intelligent, very smart. He is the epitome of captain cool”.  
The celebrations were just perfect bringing tears of joy, when the whole team lifted up the Cricket GOD SACHIN! Yuvi’s special person as he mentioned earlier was Sachin and he was playing for himJ. Virat Kohli’s words “Tendulkar has carried the burden of nation for 21 years; It was time we carried him”, were very heart warming. Finally the master blaster has the worldcup feather in his hat, very well earned! 
And what a support from everyone in the country and around the world! Australia’s ex-wicket keeper, Adam Gilchrist in the audience was a pleasant surprise element. Indeed, India was the favorite worldcup winner choice J.
The whole series ended just like our bollywood movies where all is well in the end and everyone lives happily ever after! The hero never dies whatsoever and eventually triumphs against the bad. Sri Lanka was a very good competitive team and the players showed very good sportsmanship. It was a fair clean game with great suspense & thrill. Congrats Team India…You make the whole nation very proud! Jai Ho!