Sunday, December 26, 2010

2 People and the Joy of Christmas!

Whenever we give gifts, my wife and I try our level best to give something that would make sense and meaning to our friends. For a couple celebrating their anniversary, we decided we would try and make a caricature and gift to them. In a mall nearby, my wife and i always see the cartoonist, drawing caricatures of people. ( Oh btw, have you ever tried standing behind the artist and enjoying the caricature? It is so much fun to make faces looking at the work in progress, as the "models" go from smiles, to frown to worry; as they try to judge how good the cartoon is based on your reaction :):) )

Anyways, we always get these brainwaves quite late in the day. Their anniversary had already come and gone and we thought we would give it to them when we meet them for the Christmas party. And of course, today was Christmas eve - the day all shops close sooner than often and people rush to their homes to celebrate Christmas eve with their loved ones. :) So, we rushed to the mall. We find the cartoonist having lunch and we mentioned we would be back in like 20 min or so giving him time to finish up lunch.

When we came back, we saw him just getting started on creating a cartoon of someone. In true spirit, thinking we would be next in line, we saw down next to him, watching humanity running around doing their last minute gift shopping. After few minutes, he turns and looks at us and says " Oh, you are back with the photo to be cartooned. But i am sorry, i am doing my last one for the day - i am sorry i wont be able to draw yours today."

We were a little taken aback... being such well planned people, we had of course not planned for any back up :)

"Huh? But you asked us to .... and we need it .. you were having lunch..." our pleads and protests fell on a totally flat face. He stopped drawing for a moment, with a lot of deliberation, turned towards us, shrugged and said "sorry, I can't do your job now!" . And then calmly went back to his work. That's it - it was like an instant dismissal.

As we walked away from him trying to figure out what should we make of our gift idea, when my wife told me - "why don't you at least try to convince him?"

"OK" i said, and i went back to standing right next to the artist. Didn't want to disturb him - you don't want him to pour his frustration with us on the cartoon that he was drawing for some one else :). After some time, he turns to be with a lot of frustration on his face and picks up his eye brows. It's a silent, but about to explode with frustration "yes?"

I put on my what i think is my best smile, "you know, this was meant as a gift to our friends, and we haven't planned for anything else.. Is there some way you can help us out?"

I have tried this question at various places, and have had various answers ranging from a sweet smile and "Oh, okay, let me just do that. its after all just ten minutes' to the same sweet smile and "I am really sorry - i wish i could help you, but i really can't..." etc - but truly, i haven't had the reaction that i got from him, from many others.

he just dropped his hands in frustration, rolled up his eyes, got a frown on his face "you know, its Christmas eve, and i just can't keep working like..."

I didn't event let him finish "you know what, it's okay, i am sorry. Merry Christmas!" We simply walked away. It was Christmas and he was probably expected to be in a party. But then, isn't it the season of cheer? If Santa could hop on and off these many homes with his big tummy and still laugh all the way with his loud Ho! Ho! Ho!, would a smile from the artist have hurt? And to top it all, it was his benefit all the way - I was going to pay him - It was not free service! Why was he being grumpy at me for that?

Anyways, this small twist had given us couple of hours of our time that we hadn't planned for. The malls were closed, and on an outside hope, we called our Fitness Studio to see if they were open ( Probably Santa needed a workout ? :) )

Surprising they were. The person who took the phone was Sam, who had registered us and so we knew by name. So, when we were signing in, we asked Sam out of curiosity - how come you are working now?

She smiles sweet and bright and said "Well, the company's policy said that we had to be open today till 10 PM. And it had to be either me or my manager. My manager has two small kids and i was definitely not going to keep him at work on Christmas eve - the kids will be heart broken!".

Both my wife and I stopped in our tracks - we were pleasantly surprised. We know how important Christmas is for people here and to see someone working late into Christmas eve, and that with such happiness and cheer was very surprising to us.

"You know, i don't have kids", she continued with the same smile and cheer. " so i decided to stay back. And anyways, i can always get home before midnight and be with my family including my nieces on Christmas"

We were simply bowled over. You know how some people in such situation has that tone of "I sacrificed my joy. Sympathize with me". That was not how Sam spoke. She was just happy that she was able to get her manager's kids happy. It wasn't a tone looking for sympathy or any response. She just said ti so full of smile, cheer and warmth!

Just two random people from across different walks of life - both faced with same situation, work a little extra when everyone else is going home. And look at what a difference a simple change in attitude brings. I wonder how i react in such situation! Wish we all had that ability, the attitude to be like Sam, seeing the positive side of things always and having the happiness of making others happy.

My wish to Santa this year was to make more them like Sam :)

Merry Christmas! Ho! Ho! Ho!

Friday, December 10, 2010

"Take me to your leader!..."

That seems to be the standard dialogue Aliens say every time they land on Earth.. In one of the quirky moods, i was watching the movie "The Day the Earth stood still" ( not the 1951 original, which i have watched quite many years earlier :) - but the 2008 Keanu Reeves Version. The Aliens come out and tell the awestruck humans - "Take me to your leader".. the story goes that we are first taken to the political leaders, who speak of protection, of defending earth and killing the aliens which does nothing to the alien intent of eliminating Earth ( as a punishment for all the bad things we are doing ). Later, the aliens are made in touch with a brilliant scientist who shares all the good things we are doing with the aliens and tell him, that we humans have a history of uniting and doing good things when we are at the tipping point. This alien visit is a tipping point and hence we will pull up our socks. Fortunately for us humans, Reeves as the messenger is convinced and saves the world.

I switched off the flickering tube and i wondered to myself, who truly are our leaders? Is it the politicians who govern, who administer rules and regulations and direct the country, and thus the world; or is it the brilliant, eminent minds - the scientists, the thinkers who lead the world through brilliance, inventions and discoveries?

I, for one, tend to choose the scientists. It is these minds, that convey the growth that we have collectively had. It is truly these minds that have shown us the way to move forward. These eminent brilliant minds are our true leaders. The rest of us, politicians, economists, common public have only either supported the growth or stayed out of their way.

Don't misunderstand me- the rulers, the governors are necessary, to ensure that the scientific thoughts are directed well, are regulated well, and change is managed well among the larger world.

Who would you take the aliens too, if you were stopped one day and told, in a metallic voice "Take me to your leaders" ???

( The movie posters are courtesy, wikipedia. I just loved the 1951 poster and could not but put it there for all of us to enjoy. :) )

Tuesday, December 07, 2010

Of Innovation and Daily life!

Have you ever moved your house? If you haven't, you should definitely ! :) -That is the day when a lot of worldly realizations hit you. Things such as: There are still a lot of people whose bills cannot be settled by credit card; and, remember that plastic card called the ATM card - well the daily limit for withdrawal of money from an ATM is not so big!! :) ( especially when point no.1 has come true for you :) )

Normally, needing cash would mean getting hold of your account number - which beyond being printed in that obscure place in the cheque, we never bother imprinting in our mind. Then going to the bank, getting hold of the withdrawal slip and filling up all the numbers; withdrawing money. ( and if the cheque books and stuff are well packed by your better half, that simple task of getting the account number can be a very formidable task :) )

So here i was, in the exact situation that i mentioned above. All my documents were well packed and there was no way that i could convince my wife to open the package. It was easier to face the sarcastic look of the cashier while i ask her for the number of my account. As i walked into the bank, i was in for a very interesting and innovative surprise. ( btw, Can a surprise be innovative? :) )

There were no withdrawal slips or deposit slips!!!

Every counter had a card swipe machine in front of them. The same machine which you find in countless merchants - which is so familiar at the billing counter of any shop. Well, each counter had this machine. So, when you want to withdraw money, you simply swipe your card, key in your pin number and tell the amount that you need to the teller. She authenticates your id, enters the amount and you are rich!!!

That's it! Don't you think it is an excellent innovation? Of course, it does make it extremely painless, less time consuming and easy for the user, also imagine what it does to the bank... It doesn't have to maintain another set of database about the withdrawal slip numbers. they don't have to build logistics around printing and delivering those slips .. I think its simply great.

I have always been a sucker for using technology for simple day to day life activities. And i couldn't stop but keep marveling at this simple innovation that has made the process so simple. Another similar innovation that i have seen is in the Universal studio, where they have used fingerprint based biometrics for lockers.

They don't allow you into some of the rides in the Universal studio if you have a bag or a purse etc. And there are lockers available where you can store your belongings if you want to go to these rides. But lockers have locks; and together with it are those small things that have a tendency to get lost so easily- called keys. And i am sure the park management did not want to worry about lost keys, forgotten keys etc - So they had a very simple plan. They connected all the lockers to a central computer. You go to the screen, scan your fingerprint, and pick a free locker. the computer open the locker for you. Put your stuff in, and close the door - it locks. To open the locker, scan your fingerprint, computer identifies your locker number and opens it for you. After two hours, the lockers are auto opened ( if i remember right ) so nobody can take a locker for more than 2 hours!

I thought these instances of leveraging technology to help day to day activities are absolutely brilliant examples of out of the box thinking and innovation. No wonder more and more companies are asking the users to submit the ideas that they can convert to functionalities in their product.

Way to go, technology! :)

Wednesday, October 06, 2010

Of Growing Wisdom and Going Hair!

They say as age comes, so does wisdom. They also say, that as youth goes, so does the hair on your head.

I definitely don't know about wisdom, but my hairlines are receding fast enough to prove my age!

I cross one more year off my list this month!! :)

Psst - Who are these "they"? I would certainly like to meet them! :)

Tuesday, October 05, 2010

B a a a a b u u u u j i i i i i !!!!!!

New York city is a wonderland. The lights, the hustle, the people - it just grows on you! Our first visit to this wonderful city was in the biting cold winter. And so, it was but natural to try and visit there when the days are long, and the dun god stays with us a little longer!

And this time, we wanted to be tourist-y. And we saw this open-top buses going around and decided that it would be the best way to see all of New York. ( And it would also be the safest way to keep our spouses at a good distance from all those shops! :) ). So, in the mass of people swirling all around us, we found the uniformed sales guy of one of the open top bus tour company. and then we patiently stood around him as he opened the brochure, showed us all the routes, and all the additional things of the plan. My eyes, were going all around the brochure, looking for the one most important thing, the cost of this! ( I am pretty sure that all the other's eyes were also going round and round searching for the same! :) ). Finally found it - there it was, hidden among the colorful "!" and the "!!" - the number written after a $sign. It was 53$. A quick mental calculation ( backed by one of us who stepped back and did on his iphone :) ) arrived at $318 for 6 of us.

The rep was quite happy, and like an experienced rep, gave us our 6 seconds of private thoughts discussing the total cost. When he came back, we had decided - we were going to go ahead with it.

Credit cards were handed over, and the rep was sliding them through the machine. And one of us couldn't resist ask this ( for the rest of us, it was running in our minds :) - we just couldn't bring this out! ) " So, we are 6 of us, what discount do you give us? do we get a consolidated 6 tickets at $300?"

We were ready for a frowned "No", a rough shake of head, even feigning ignorance of our question. But nothing could have prepared us for the response. It was a classic Russell Peters moment. :)

The sales rep looked up with a beaming smile, and said "Baaaboooojiiiiiiiii!!!!!!!!!!" It was an instant recognition of where we came from!. I couldn't but help bursting out with laugh! "No baaabujiiiii.. we cant do it!!! :) Babuuuuuuuuuuuuujiiiiiiiiiiiii!!!" :):):)

The humor in the situation hit me instantly. Imagine New York City visited by 1000's, nay, 10s of 1000's of people everyday, and one question can spark recognition of an entire set of people! Brilliant. The most intriguing part was, as much as were we embarrassed at being called Babuji, i don't think the sales rep meant it in a derogatory way. It was just a friendly conversation. There was no sarcasm, there was no derogation, no humiliation - just a good sense of humor and a conversation between friends.

We did get the tickets - without any discount, and we did make the city tour. And i think this incident made it as much enjoyable as any other!

Recently, i had another chance to enjoy this moment. One of our friends had moved back to India form US and had given us the responsibility of selling off their car child seats. We had an enquiry about this from an India couple. We had our own travel plans that day and hence decided to meet them on our way, near their place of stay.

The meeting was in downtown Boston, quite near the waters. And my BlackBerry app told me that the only ends that residents of that area would try to meet might be of their clothes :) - It was quite a well off area. Few minutes later a Mercedes Benz pulls up behind us. One of those new swanky version, with in built GPS and all the bells an whistles. The potential buyers get out of their car, smiles and pleasant hellos are exchanged. They examine the car seat, the retail price of which are in multiple 100 $$. We had them listed for a throwaway price of 20$. We were more interested in getting that to people who could use them than having them stocked at our house.

Back to this couple, who live in a posh area, travel in luxury cars and hopefully will find good use of the car seat they decided to take from us. The seat is moved to their car. The lady takes her bag, opens the purse, and then looks up to us and asks

"Is it negotiable?"

"Baaaaaaaaaaaaaabbbbbbuuuuuuuuuuuuujjjjjjjjjjjiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiii!!!!!" :):):)

Tuesday, August 31, 2010

Happy Onam!

Come August / September, there is a smile in every Malayali's face and heart. It is the official excuse for us to eat, sing and be merry. Why, you ask us? Its because it is Onam - Kerala's own festival of Harvest!

There are things that we want very well defined - like the color and the feel of our clothes, like the dimensions of our house; and there are some things which are never defined - like our festivals. It simply means has its own unique meanings to everyone. And conveniently, we all take it to mean what we want it to mean!

For foodies (like me :) ), it is an excuse - and an official one at that - to eat more ( lovingly refered to as Ona Sadya ), for kids - it is an excuse not to study and to expect new clothes, for the new city bred middle class - it is a formal excuse to splurge at an exquisite restaurant ( and not the same one that they went all week, anyways :) ), and for those menfolk, nay, married menfolk, whose better halves control their reach to their favorite bitter liquids, it is an official excuse to bring out those bottles and enjoy them with their friends!

I have lots of fond memories (and quite so many almost withered photographs) of my own Onam celebrations. The first thing to think of during Onam are the pookkalams - the design made by colorful flowers. In those times, entrepreneurs hadn't commercialized our lives as much, so, for us short kids in shorts, it was nothing short of an expedition in the early morning to get ( pick, jump and pick, jump and steal :) ) as many flowers as we could get ( and get them before other kids get them or the neighbor wakes up to safeguard his little garden :) ). Once the collection is over, you hand it over to the experts - the parents, the uncles and aunts who would then use all their imagination to make pretty designs on the floor with them. Some geometrical, some color patterned - but there was one thing that was always there - they were always pretty and beautiful!

Almost in all the Onams that i can remember, i got the Onakkodi - the new clothes! My face would lighten up at the sight of those new clothes and i would try to be in them in no time flat. There were no brands, no fancy labels, but the just the fact that you are wearing something new was more than any other joy! There was only one more joy, that could overpower this one - the one that is caused by the lifting smell of the OnaSadya!

More than the varieties of food ( and the pappadoms - oh the pappadoms! - the crispy crispy fried wafers! ) it was the variety of people around that used to make me happy - All the uncles, the aunts, the parents, the grand parents - it was an occasion when the whole big house would turn into a big home by the loud conversations, the laughter and the happiness. Those few days, everyone would forget all the trouble of the day to day life - the togetherness would cover all that.

After the Sadya, after everyone has cleaned up, slowly one by one everyone would try to catch up few winks of sleep. The entire family would be in the same room, lying on the cold red oxide floors or on bamboo mats, chitchatting with each others, the voices slowly, lazily transitioning into silence or light snores.

You know how these politicians spoil everything for you? :) They had my parents convinced (like pretty much all the other parents, i guess ) that good education is a must have for all growing kids. It was already bad enough with the milk and vegetables, now education too ? :( Anyways, my parents were convinced and they took me off to Ranchi, where my father was employed, to make me join a bigger school and continue my studies. But then, to their credit, they did keep the tradition of Onam live, in our hearts and in our home!

Onam was still the day to expect good food and new clothes. It was just that the North Indian School mgmt found no reasons to give a week of holidays to the kids for some king visiting the Southern State of Kerala. ( Don't know legend? Look here! ) We might have moved physically away, miles up north, from the family in Kerala - from all those uncles, aunts, grand parents, but we had found our family here too. The colony where we lived had a very healthy group of malayalees an Onam was a reason for the dearest friends to come together, cook and eat the Sadya together. I still remember all the fun, laughter and cheer that the crowd would have at our house, people crowding to cut vegetables, to cook - the only difference, for me , was to convince my father that Onam was reason enough not to study ( I think the above said politicians had influenced by father much more than my grandparents - so it was as much more difficult to convince )

Those were the days the telephone numbers still 3 digits or at best 4, the TVs had antennas and the only network signal strength that we were all worried about were the Doordarshan TV strength! So the Onam was also the time write many letters - to all the family and near and dear friends, not a real substitute for the chitchatter while sliding to sleep in the cold red oxide floor, but it would convey all the happiness, all the cheer and the closeness that we felt with the same strength!

"Onam weekend" also made its official entry - the weekend when the Malayalee Association would hold the Onam festivities in the community center - cultural activities that included a Pookkalam competition, a very elaborate OnaSadya and a screening of a Malayalam film ( which almost always turned into a fashion show to showcase who had the best looking clothes :) )

Education or no education, it was not stopping me from growing up. towards my college time, the Indian govt, gracefully accepted my father's request for a transfer and relocated us to Chennai - In south India, neighboring our home state, Kerala. Time might have changed a lot of things, our address, our outlook, our clothes and shoes - but Onam still held a very special place in my hart. Along with the faded jeans, the graphic t shirts and Michael Jackson the city life had brought along its own influences - and so did it bring compromises on the Onam celebrations. The Pookkalams were restricted to the "live telecast of the Pookkalam competition from our studios". It was no more "cool" to wear shiny new clothes.. :). But one thing remained - The OnaSadya ( with the pappadums, oh those crispy fried pappadums ). Since it would have been such a drag to prepare the elaborate Sadya for just the three of us in the family, my friends were usually invited for the lunch. Some of them, throughly enjoyed it, but for some others, it used to be a refresher course in "100 different ways to use coconut in food items!" :) With my father being the eager host that he is, he would always ensure that the "guests" always eat to his, which usually was much more than their, fill :) After the fulfilling food, all of us would just crash out on the couch, and my mother would walk in with the small bowls of Payasam!! How much ever full we were, we would all invite this with smiles!

After the heavy Sadya and the payasam, my friends and I would chitchat about girls, about classes and making plans of catching up in the evening. The evening was to be my "treat" in any of the local chaat shops. The official Onam weekend still remained, but transitioned to a eve of Onam festivals at our college hostel. More of cooking, more of fun, more of festivities. I still remember one Tug of War competition which was between the lecturers and the admin staff of the college - and in the middle, the rope just gave way. As the lecturers piled on one another, there was a rush from the "organizing committee" to the kitchen!!! :)

As much as i was growing, so was technology and so were the digits in the phone numbers - they had increased to 7 digits from those 3 and 4 digits. One of those 7 digits also adorned our wooden cabinet. The long letters were now replaced by the long set of digits that we had to dial to speak to each of our friends and family. As much as the Inland Letter would limit the words in the letter, the fear of a huge telephone bill would ensure short wishes and small conversations! The only letter that still remained was the long distance aerogramme which would carry our wishes through the letter to our relatives living across the seas. making an overseas call would have tremendous impact on the telephone bills and were as yet forbidden acts at home! Along with these 7 digit wonders, some more things had changed, Doordarshan had given way to the Stars and the MTVs of the world. So as my parents and i cleaned up after the lunch, and lied down in the cold concrete floor of our flat, we would turn to the TV to watch the "Onam Special Malayalam Movie" !! Slowly, the conversations in the movie would transition to our light snores! :)

the nuclear family slowly gave way to the family of friends - and that was really a big group once i completed my education and moved on employment. Onam pookkalams moved back into my real life from those telecasted in the TV's - but there were slight differences though. Those homely events were now called "Corporate Motivational Events" and moved to the tiled and marbled floors of our offices. The search for the bright colorful flowers in the misty chilly mornings with friends were replaced by vroom filled motorcycle trips in the previous night to the crowded hot dusty flower bazaars. The fear of getting caught while nipping flowers from our neighbors Garden were replaced by the fear of not getting enough budget from our bosses to buy them! The simple eloquent color patterns were replaced by complex designs, downloaded from the Internet. The child's simple and wide-eyed "oooh - look at our neighbors designs, that is so pretty" were replaced the youth's competitive ' Look at them, their design has more colors, lets also get some more colors! - Lets google for more designs!!!!"

The thrill of wearing new dresses had transitioned to a fancy dress show aptly titled, Traditional dress days by our employers! This bought the comical melange of traditional "Mundu" being worn by very un-traditional youngsters so used to the jeans and baggies! So mundu's usually would be accompanied by a tightly worn leather belt around the waist to ensure no mishaps! :) And there would definitely be one of those jokers, who would conveniently forget that bright colored underpants would show up through the simple attire :). Colorful Saris and Salwars fought for attention among shiny silk Kurtas in the office space that would usually witness a flurry of light blue and white shirts! Even the OnaSadya had its own transition. The lovely aromas of home cooked food were replaced by wide eyes of those beautiful Sadya photos in the restaurant websites. The happy crowding around the dining table by the family was replaced by the still happy crowding at the local restaurant among thousand other folks!

Along with the wallets ( that would pay for the elaborate OnaSadya ) that would be artfully placed at some place in the mundu, shirt pocket or the belt,every person was also adorned with one more weapon - that of the mobile phones!. The short conversations after the long list of digits got changed to cryptic text messages sent as bulk to 523 names in the address book. The joy of hearing the family's voice in the phone was replaced by the joy of hearing the continuous "beep-beeps" as more and more friends and family sent the same messages to your phone!

Times changed, practices changed - and yet the festival keep coming back to us year after year.

Here i am now, sitting in a foreign country, looking at a blinking monitor as mails keep dropping in. It's just another work day here. Cars ply carrying their coffee drinking drivers to offices, people walk past each other engrossed in their BlackBerrys. A bowl of steamy Oats cereal sits on my table as i rewind my fond memories in my head. Feels very funny to look out and not see even a small sign of a festival. In India, irrespective of where you are, you could always look out nd see some sign of a regional festival - a corner temple having too many sandals outside, a sweet shop having a crowded stall, a child walking gleefully in new shiny dress holding her father's hands, loud conversation snips carried by the wind talking with laughter and carrying the wishes - there would be something that infect you with the pleasantness and cheer of the festival.

As i turn my gaze from the window, i can hear my wife in the other room, using the latest technology of internet based calling to wish all our family and friends a Happy Onam. No worry of a huge bills, no cryptic messages - the same long winded talks that you would have had if the family was sitting next to each other.I Can hear small snips of her conversations - wishing families happy Onam - inquiring about the Sadya - and i am suddenly drawn into a feeling of goodwill and cheer. Drawn to the togetherness that has somehow traveled across the globe from our family to wrap its warm hands around us.

It lasts a fleeting instant to be destroyed by the continuous "beeps" of new emails buzzing in. But it is enough - it makes my day and fills my face with a smile, as i alt-tab to my email window and start my day.. "Thanks for the mail - but i am not sure....."

Happy Onam Folks!!!!

Monday, July 19, 2010

Happiness - found at a subway station.

At the Harvard square t station in Boston, there is this street performer playing guitar and singing. We've seen them in so many places, in so many costumes.

But there's something different about her - beyond the fact that she is singing in Chinese. She seems incredibly happy just to be there and to be singing. No, I mean not just a smile, but from the heart. How does she do it?

Around her I find the contrast- people upset that it's hot outside, people upset that their mobiles don't have network signal, people who are upset, I don't know why! And me too, I am upset, for a silly fight at home.

Am almost embarrassed to look at her - how can i be upset when my life is so good? upset enough to spoil my day at something so silly? Am sure she has her won issues and problems - no man ever was and is without problems - but she simply choses to be happy. And here i was, choosing to feel miserable on a very very silly spat! As i kept looking at her smile, at some point, i realized that i was smiling too - my frown had disappeared!

With a loud racket, my train had arrived and while walking towards the train, dropped some money onto her box. With the same smile, she said - thank you!

No, thank YOU lady, thank YOU!!

Friday, June 11, 2010

Super Panda to the rescue !!! :) :) - A Very different Experience on internet purchase

I had a very pleasing experience on one of my internet purchases. I had ordered ink for my printer from an online store

I had no previous experience from the store - had zero-ed in on them based on the lowest price for the cartridges based on google results. So, apart from a decent, hassle-free shopping and shipping experience - i did not have any further expectations.

The user experience was good, and the shopping transaction completed easily. Shipping was also good - the cartridges arrived today by 6 days. But the best was yet to come.

Imagine my pleasant surprise, when i opened the package, and found a lovely handwritten post-it note from Lance - thanking me for the order and wishing me good times with the ink!! That was such a unexpected human touch - that i loved it!

It was such a nice change from the typical CRM mails that i get from many other big shops on the net - Keep up the great work Team yoyo!! - Next time my ink dries out - i know which URL i will click on!! :) It feels good to know that somebody actually looked through the order and packed them for you - and took pains to drop you a personal note - Especially during these times, where even the person at the fast food counter where you go every day, doesn't bother looking at your eyes - Something at the billing counter always is more attractive :)

And if you haven't tried Yoyo - i would recommend you give them a try - They not only deliver well - they might even bring a smile to your face on a gloomy rainy day! :)

Tuesday, May 25, 2010

An Ode to an Unknown Mentor

I read through a newsletter today that Rita Mulcahy, PMP has passed away. For anyone who has written the PMP exam knows that Rita Mulcahy's books were almost the bible for us - and a benchmark of how well we might fare in the exam.

I didnt know Rita. I have no clue of how she looked, how she thought and how she worked. But at the same time, her works has brought about another achievement for me, another ceritification for me. It must be amazing to know that what you produce is affecting 100's of; nay; 10,000s of people who wrote this exam.

I wonder if all those of us who have used her knowledge and the result of her hard work - would know, or even care enough to say - oops! Here was a person who had directed me, who had taught me quite a few valuable lessons - and that person, is no more!!

May her soul Rest in Peace.

Announcement about her death from the RMC site:

"Rita Mulcahy, Founder of RMC Project Management and the best-selling project management author of all-time, passed away on Saturday, May 15th 2010, from complications related to a five-year battle with Inflammatory Breast Cancer (IBC)"

Friday, May 21, 2010

What motivates People?

Through the tweet of someone whom i follow - i read ( actually heard ) a very interesting piece about "what motivates people to work better". ( You can hear it too at ) Even if you didnt like the actual message - you would love the way it is rendered through animation. Awesome!

Anyways - one of the key points mentioned was that in cognitive task ( for those of us lay men - it means that includes thinking, creativity and not mechanical repeatable tasks ) money is not a motivator. But to me, the most important point in the whole story was - "Pay People Enough to take the issue of money off the table" _Once you do that, then money is no more a motivator.

That to me is a brilliant thought. And a very subtle fact. And i guess it applies to all levels, all areas. If there aer things weighing down in you mind - your aim isonly to somehow make it happen. Once that is achieved, then you can chase your mind and your will.

I am sure a lot of my friends would say - waht's so big about this thought and tease me that i make a big point of it. But to me, i think this is a very important point that we can all use in our day to day work life as an important way to motivate our team.

Know what material desire is weighing down each of your team member. Use a solution to those problems as a incentive. Once that is achieved, do another search to identify what can really satisfy the sould of the team member. change your incentive plan to the new carrot.

Motivating your team is never a point of time exercise - It is an evolving activity and needs you to be always connected to your team!!

Wednesday, May 19, 2010

"I did something wierd today!"

And that would be wierder than taking up the mobile phone and sending a tweet mentioning this to half the world? :)

I was reading Dracula ( again! :) ). The whole book is written as a collection of diary notes - some by Jonathan Harker, some by Mina HArker and some by other characters. Stoker is able to simply pull the whole narrative together through these posts!

I was wondering how the book would have been written had it been Dracula 2.0...

As the train goes chug chugging to the carpathian mountains, Jonatahn would open up his laptop and start typing his blog - The Journey to the Carpathian, part 1. His fears, the wierd happening would all be noted in the blog. HIs lover, wife to be Mina would get a minute to minute update on his travel ( She would probably even comment - JOnathan, pull down the window of the train, you would catch cold! )

And then Jonathan would open up google maps and drop a pin on the current location where he is- Just so, that he can tell others that "oh, well, you know, i have been to all corners of the world, blimey!"

As he gets down and the localites give him the cross, the garlic and the other things to ward off evil spirits, he would take a video of the same using flip and directly upload that to youtube ( Fetching a comment from musiclova2145: "awesome video , dude!! Can i add some background songs to this?" )

And as they mention their wishes in the native tongue, Jonathan would open the translator app in iPhone or Droid and convert what they say to English. Now he is definitely a more informed man!!!

And i am sure he woul have been more informed about Castle Dracula, as he would have read about it in Wikipedia ( where else :) )

The Dracula Bite Video has a million hits in the last one month and has gone viral!
eBay suddenly has a lot more Garlic sellers..
Craigslist has seen a spurt in a lot of classified ads for night life lovers...

Would have beena pretty some novel - Dracula 2.0 :)