Archive for the 'random experiences' Category

Anything worth doing…

Some of the recent sessions that I’m attending got me thinking about what makes people do less than what they can?

It could be mere smugness, one might have easily settled into a comfort zone, it could be constraints, it could be a lack of empathy – no clear understanding of what the other person/customer really wants from you or pure arrogance because you can get away with it!

However, whatever the reason for you to do that, at the end of the day you are shortchanging your own potential, your own ability and your own self and not being totally honest with yourself and the world about what you have to offer. The moment you start living that way, you stop learning and you don’t embody a future learner anymore.

In your tryst with destiny, always remember no political agenda, no hurt feeling, no animosity, no lack of faith, absolutely nothing is an excuse to bring less than your full potential to the table. In doing so, you are doing more harm to yourself than good.

Like a wise person once said, “If anything is worth doing, it is worth doing it well.”


Untying the horns around my head

My architecture professor during Engineering days used to regularly wrap up his sessions with this thought, “I’ve taught you this session in a particular way and in the process tied horns around your head. So go home and untie those horns and look at the material all over again.” Frankly, I used to be amused when he used to say that. The reason? Simple, apart from the way he had taught it, I did not know of any other way of looking at the material.

As I have gained experience, I’ve added more dimensions of looking at the same problems, solutions and options in a way that could not have happened in the pre-experience, student era. Of course, some of this has to do with experience depth but some of it is just “a different setting”, “being able to listen to others viewpoints”, “different applications” or a “tough situation” where one has to apply ones knowledge, skill or perspective in order to make a decision or take action.

I’ve never stopped to wonder, how much beneficial this kind of exposure would be for children over a period of time to look at what they are learning as well as being able to look at themselves and their development in a different light.

What do you think? Would you like to share an experience that untied an experience around your head?

Blinded by “Free”

During my last trip home, I happened to meet a family friend’s daughter who was doing her masters in US. She was on a vacation because she had not managed to land a “paid” internship in her industry. What with this recession and everything! She was almost at the end of her trip, so nothing could have been done about it. But out of sheer curiosity I asked whether she had tried any company in India/abroad for an “unpaid” internship. She made it very clear to me that she valued her vacation more dearly than an “unpaid” internship – where she would have to slog for no money as well as not get to take her vacation. I see her point of view but the irony of it all didn’t escape me.

Sometimes, the most valuable of “internships/education” are unpaid/underpaid and we don’t see the value of it until way later. I remember as a student writing articles for newspapers and for the kind of work I put in to write one article, I was really paid peanuts. However, what I learnt while doing the stint was how to do a thorough market research and write a professional article putting it together. Those hours of research, figuring out who to speak to, how to get to them and making a questionnaire (dynamically deciding what to ask/not), not to mention the intense exercise in listening and writing down the notes as fast as I could have been one of the best forms of “training” for a marketing job that I’ve had.

I also want to mention another incident where it kind of struck me real hard how we miss things when we are offered something for “free”. I was at a school in Chennai and talking to the owner’s son. He saw what I had to show him and calmly asked me how it would fit in with all the infrastructure that he was about to get fixed up by a “large education” company that had offered to especially “network” all his classrooms for “free”. I was stumped. Not only because the school was already built and that there will have to be considerable drilling and panelling work that will have to be done but also because the kind of state the school was in, it did not seem like it could take that kind of heavy weight infrastructure installation, not to mention the fact that he himself mentioned that his teachers will need enormous amounts of hand holding to use the infrastructure/simply go digital. What the large company was doing by giving them something for “free” was overselling them and leapfrogging them into a space where the “large company” had an upper hand in systems, content, installation and operation. It was a good move by the large company but a bad choice for the school, unfortunately they were not able to see beyond the “free”.

So, next time you are offered/get something for free, don’t forget to look at the fine print, well better still if you can foresee the writing on the wall sometime in the future.

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Free Minutes and Public Spaces

One of the best things about cheap minutes and better connectivity is that people can talk to their near and dear ones anytime, anywhere. It is the unwarranted side effect too – especially when it comes to commonly shared cramped public spaces like a train compartment or a bus seat!

I was recently travelling in a train. We had a very early time of arrival (2am) at our destination, so we decided to retire around 9pm itself. Unfortunately for us two people (looked like local businessmen) boarded the train at about the same time and apparently had a lot of business to attend to. They sat there all night making loud calls and all kinds of noises – negotiating deals, getting someone’s kid an engineering seat in management quota, reeling out data of who clears which quota for how much money and more…

We tried requesting them to be a little quieter, to no avail. By the time we got down, he was sound asleep and snoring but I had learned a lot about negotiation and management quotas, not had a wink of sleep and was in a very sour mood. Left me wondering, shouldn’t there be an etiquette around using your “free/cheap” minutes in public spaces, if not, what is our alternative? Can there be an interesting business around charging more for minutes depending on “noise levels” around you – so that fellow travelers, movie goers etc. are spared the torture of being privy to the most personal and intricate details of someone else’s lives? What say?

The “Free Hand” Lesson

It’s been a long time since I blogged – took the so-called “blogging vacation”. Back now….

I was watching a movie about karate (the karate kid) and a particular scene stuck in my head. The kid was trying to learn Karate from a book! It was as if a light bulb went on for me. I’ve never seen Indians try to self-learn something (some people are good at observing others do things and learn, but I’m trying to make a different point here). It is somehow not taught in our schools and not present in our culture. There are no stories and mythical characters who have self-taught themselves. There is a very strong component of “guru” as a human element being present or they were magically gifted (like Hanuman).  The only self-taught person I know of in Indian mythology was Ekalavya and he was suitably punished for learning something he “shouldn’t” have! I’m not arguing that one kind of learning is better than another but there is definitely an interesting element to being a self-taught person and having different sources of learning.

Is this why we see such a proliferation of exam-oriented training/coaching centres? I’m wondering what is the kind of sales that self-help books have in India (anyone from FlipKart want to comment)? Probably that is not even the right metric, because someone may wrongly believe that they can learn/want to learn from a book and purchase it and never use it again. What do you think?
PS: Karate means “Free Hand”

Story of me and my watch…

It’s been a while since my favorite watch stopped working. I had two more so I started wearing them until one of them broke and the other well, I guess just gave up on me! Anyway, why am I talking about my watch? For sometime now I’ve not had a watch to wear (I’m not complaining…) but I feel wierd. The laptop or mobile are not my first reference points when I think of time. So, I definitely miss my habit of looking at the watch. Yet, not enough to get it repaired! I manage most of the time with the help one or the other gadgets around.

I’m not yet in the group of people who believe that wrist watches are not for me and not in the group of people who wear it either. I know it’s quite circumstantial, yet…they say you can be from the analog world or the digital world, but I feel like I’m somewhere “in between” right now! Anybody else feel this way?

Bangalore Traffic Police Go Hi-Tech

Embarassed as I’m of what happened, I can’t help but write about the incident and the revelation. I broke a “u-turn” rule recently near Koramangala in Bangalore in order to avoid a huge traffic jam and got caught by the traffic police. Well, as notorious as they are for taking bribes they are there at all the places, you can’t really escape as much as you wish!

Anyway, coming back to the point, as I approached the officer to pay my fine I noticed that he had a blackberry with him and a small printer (like the ones that print credit card slips at retail stores). He asked for my license and I gave it to him, still puzzled at the hi-tech gadgetry and sophistication around him. He asked me for a few details, took a picture of my license and printed me a receipt for the fine! I was shocked, to say the least!!!

When I probed further, he told me that they have been using this for the past 2 years and that the blackberry application was indigenously developed by the Bangalore Traffic Police department. The photo of the license and the details get uploaded via satellite link to their server and it gets recorded as a transacion in his account. He felt pride in explaining this to me and I was literally dumbstruck!

What can I say, if they keep a tab on that account the corruption levels can definitely be monitored and controlled to a large extent and as to the technology adoption hats off to the department.

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