Friday, December 31, 2004

Just a Thought

Just a thought. If we can save a small amount from what we would spend on this New Years Eve (lets say have one drink less) and just donate that money for the Tsunami affected, it would be worth it. Lets say, $5 or Rs. 50/- wont make a difference to you, but will make a big difference to someone out there.

Everyone have a great 2005!!!

Thursday, December 30, 2004

Know Thy Neighbour

One of the big differences I have noticed about USA as compared back home in India is awareness of your surroundings. Allow me to explain.

Back in India, if my neighbour sneezed, I would know. And every building complex has this lady who sits at the window, acting as if she were knitting, while all she does is watch the people enter and leave the complex. This lady knows all the latest news, who is dating who, who broke the first floor glass pane while playing cricket, which kid hides and smokes, which kid bunks classes etc. etc. And everyday this lady would transform herself into my apartment complex's NBC (My apartment was named "Nandanvan" hence we call NBC as Nandanvan Broadcasting Center). So by the end of the day everyone used to know the "fresh news".

Back to the present. Personally I have no idea who my neighbour is. Sometimes I hear the sound of kids playing, so I figure its a whole family, husband, wife, kids... but no idea who they are. Today as I checked our notice board, I read there was a murder in my apartment complex (No. 2400) on 23rd Dec. A 23 year old woman was killed. I had seen some cop cars around since the last few days but never knew it was this serious. And the worst part, I came to know on 29th. Heck, a murder and I know a week later. Ever my roomie was not aware of it. If this was in India, I would have known this in a coupe of hours. And I am pretty sure they put it on the board today since I check everyday.

Cops are looking for some chap who was seen carrying a white coat and a box or something like that between 6 AM to 1 PM on 23rd. Hmmmm.... I was prolly fast asleep then.... but I feel bad for the girl.

Anyways, it just shows how limited interaction is between neighbours here. In a way I dont like it. Back in India, there was a lot of communication and a daily "Whats cooking at ya place?". But looking at it from another point of view, everyone here minds their own business. There is no lady knitting at the window saying, "Apoorva walked in with some girl I have never seen before". Heavens sake lady, she is my cousin from Krakozia, visiting!!! But then, maybe this same lady might have seen the guy with the white coat and box is she wese here. There are pros, there are cons.... which one do I prefer... ? I'll go with the nosy lady.... always saw her as an angel in devils disguise.

Talking about deaths, its sad to see the earthquake toll rise and rise. Everyone is doing their best to collect donations. A friend of mine at amazon pointed me to a one click donation on Just log on to and you'll see it. Many other sites there too, Scoble recommends Command post ( and also amazon.

Things definitely cannot come back to original for those who have lost near and dear ones in this calamity. But lets pray that they have the courage to see themselves through it.

Sunday, December 26, 2004

Eternal Sunshine Of The Spotless Mind

Have you guys seen the movie? I saw it like almost a year ago when it released and absolutely loved it. Somehow, I dont know why its not a famous one and why people have not really heard about it or seen it. Its a love story, but not a simple love story. It mixes its complications into the simplicities. Wont tell you the story now and ruin the surprise. Watch it. I just got the DVD from blockbuster.... I am sure there is one close to your place, and they have a movie pass scheme going on.

Stars Jim Carrey (minus his antics), Kate Winslet, Kirsten Dunst. Definitely worth a Dekkho!

And these holidays have been declared as the ultimate movie marathon for me... prolly more than 8 movies in 3 days! Hopefully back to the books and setting up some web stuff from tomorrow.

Thursday, December 23, 2004

You are Hired!

The last few days have been exciting and a little nerve wrecking. For one, I was off to Baltimore, MD to interview with company A (I dont plan to disclose the name on my blog) and the very next day with Company B.

And these are some of the highlights:
  • It snows on the day I decide to drive down.
  • My cars wiper blade comes off (fortunately I fix it back on).
  • There are wind warnings all the way and when crossing this rather long bridge I could feel my car move around with the wind. Fortunately it was not too bad to lose control.
  • Even tho' I chose to drive out about 3 PM to beat the rush hour traffic, I still get traffic.
  • Driving into the sun with no sun glasses is a really bad idea!
  • I spend 2 hours on the eve of my interview playing Wrestling on PS-2.
  • When the director interviewed me, he asked me to come in and take a seat (gestures towards a chair). He walked out to get some coffee while I sat on the seat he pointed to. After a while I ealise I was sitting on his seat, staring at his computer screen!
  • I liked their idea of "Lunch Interview". Its not with one person but with the whole team. So there were 8 of us in a conference room, yapping away. The only minus point being the food order had not gone through, so it came in an hour n half late. In those 90 minutes I was grilled by 8 people, all at once!
  • Even after making it clear my knowledge about statistic was rather elementary, this one statistician went about asking me complex fundas on statistics. When I could not answer, I asked him what the right answer would be. Unfortunately for him, the explanation he provided was wrong which the director immediately noticed and started grilling him further on that area. I pretty much enjoyed what followed for the next 15 minutes and more importantly, my throat got some much needed rest.
  • This particular lady who interviewed me happened to be from the Carribbean and had an amazing accent.

All in all, I loved the experience and loved Company A and its people.

The next day interview with Company B went off reasonably well too. It was really short and rather simple.

The final verdict was I heard back from Company B in a couple of hours after the interview that they liked me and would make an offer. But I needed to get back in 24 hours since the need was immediate (one of the things of being a consultant). And I loved Company A but no responce yet. So it was a gamble where I could reject B and wait for A. A lot of to and fro phone calling finally got a response from A saying they loved me and were making an offer.

So come 4th January, 2005 and I am heading off to Baltimore.... if I pass the drug test that is :-)

Saturday, December 18, 2004

RSS.... biased?

I was watching Discovery a few days ago and they had this whole thing going on about India. Right from how advanced Banglore is, but drive 100 miles out of Bangalore and you are 100 years behind. Good program. They also did this little bit about Indian traditions and interviewed some RSS leaders (Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh - not to be mistaken with the RSS of the tech. world).

There was a time when I had seen this big protest by RSS against Valentines day and thought that it completely sucked and never paid much attention to them anyways (ok, I admit I was single then and the sadist in me enjoyed it). So when this topic came up in the interview, the RSS leader says they are not against love. they feel love is an integral part of life and it should be expressed everyday and not only on Valentines day. Make everyday a Valentines day. They are against all these marketting gimmicks and the other blah blah blahs which come with Valentines day.

Wow! For a while my opinion about the RSS changed. "Make everyday a Valentines day". The genX will love ya. Then the critic in me took over and I started thinking. Why do we have Rakshabandhan for just one day? Why do we celebrate Teachers day for one day? Why do we celebrate Childrens day for one day? Why doesnt the RSS oppose that? Or is RSS only opposing westernization of the Indian culture? Why dont they ban cigarettes? I prefer a ban on cigarettes than a ban on Valentines day.

On a lighter note, Bird looks like someone who could lead the RSS. Maybe he could try explaining!

Thursday, December 09, 2004

"Donate" Some "Soogar" on Me!

There is this story which happened a while back when I was at Dunkin Donuts and the Indian (Gujarati) woman working there asked me if I wanted some extra "Soogar" (sugar for the normal). And when i said regular "Soogar" she asked if I was a Gujarati. Hmmm...

Anyways, right next to my health club is a Dunkin Donuts (how very convenient to gain the fat u try hard to shed). Its owned by an Indian family who on the whole are pretty friendly. I probably visit it once a month and the lady at the counter always asks me the same questions... family background, place of origin, if my uncles wife's great grandfathers cousin had a cat etc. etc.

Today I decided to indulge in some hazelnut Coffee after my workout and walked into Dunkins. The same lady was there to take my order and she looks at me, smiles and says "Kem Chho?" (Gujarati for How are you?). By this time I have accepted the fact that I look Gujju... and reply back in Gujju saying I am doing good and ask how she is been doing? Also, I am surprised that she remembers me and has not yet started checking on my family tree. She asks if I want "Extra Soogar" in my coffee and I politely refuse. Mind you, all this conversation (and what follows) is in Gujju.

Then she looks at me and asks, "Howz Alpesh?". Eh..? "Aint You Alpesh's brother?" No!! "Oh, then who are you?" Apoorva. "Where are you from?"

Here we go again.... I have been missing this conversation so much!! At the end of the conversation I concluded my Gujarati has improved!

The time finally came to pay up and scramble out of there when she says, "You dont want anything else? No 'Donate'?" I assume it was Donut. But no lady, no donut and I am a poor man, so nothing to Donate either.

I pay my $ 1.15 and run out without any donations!

Wednesday, December 08, 2004

Fries & Large Sprite for $1.59

Interesting scenario I came across few days back. Was too bored to cook, so Ram, Jugs and me decide to head for dinner to Panera. We reach 5 minutes before they close and they didnt have Jugs & my favorite sandwiches, so we decide to try Quiznoes and as luck would have it, they were closed too. Why does everyone wrap up by 9 PM? So finally we decide to head back to Taco Bell (right next to my place). All that driving for nothing!! But Ram insists he wants fries, so we go thru a drive thru of Mc'Donalds enroute to Taco. And my simple order to the person there was, "One Large Fries." And his reply was "$1.59".

So I drive around to pick up my order, pay him through the little window (the chap happens to be an Indian too and kinda knows me due to my frequent visits) and he hands me over this huge drink. Then he notices the puzzled look on my face and says, "One large Sprite right?" n I was like, "Fries". So he smiles and says thats gonna cost a little more and gets me the fries and then says dont worry about the extra money. So I insist I want to pay, and he refuses to accept the money. Oh well, okay, I say the customary thank you and am almost in the mode to drive off when he says, "Here, take the Sprite too." When I say I really dont want it, he insists I take it and its for free. Rams already grabbed the Sprite by then and the three of us drive off with a huge fries and a huge Sprite for $1.59. Not a bad deal at all.

Ram gets a brainwave after a while which goes like, always go into the drive thru, ask for a Large Sprite, at the window say it was large Fries and drive off with both for $1.59
Hmmmm.... smartass!

By the way, I dont plan to do that.... so no hate mail please!

Tuesday, December 07, 2004

Nothing is constant but Change...

Its was three months of staying in Bombay and people have asked me if I see any changes to the time I was last here (which was like 2 years ago). Yup, the changes sure are there, some for the positive and some for the negative.
  • The youth, or call it the next Gen (do I sound old?). I note this from many incidences I came across. The attitude is simply disrespectful. That too selective disrespect. This kid in the 18-20 age bracket was ordering his Happy Meal from Mc'Dees and was an example of rudeness in the manner he spoke with the girl taking his orders. And no, the girl was not at fault. Its high time we treat each individual as a human first.... and stop creating a divide as per the jobs we work! Enough of the "If you aint a doctor, an engineer or a banker, you aint good enough!!"

  • The traffic: Its got from bad to worse. Roads are cramped, and worse, more and more people break traffic rules... drive through signals etc. I used to hang outside the hospital when Mom was not well and sometimes just observe the traffic. What probably was a 2 lane road was running 4 lanes already. Immense amount of honking (hello, you are right in front of a hospital - but no one cares). The worst of the lot was I could see an ambulance about 50 meters away, siren on, flashing its lights stuck in traffic and no one giving way... and u cant blame them... here there are already 4 lanes of cars on a road which is meant for 2 lanes, how can you make way for an ambulance without space? Who suffers? We, the people. Because of? We, the people. On a positive note, the Western Express Highway is reasonably nice. Good traffic flow and you do manage to get to places fast. But leave the highway and tah-dah! Back to Square One.

  • Pollution: Its definitely up. Altho they say its less now compared to 9 months ago (thanks CNG) but I could still feel it. The air and the noise... everytime I was out I came back with a running nose. I should say I got used to it in a while... again on a positive note, the autos shifting to CNG etc. is thefirst step towards reducing pollution.

  • Cars: Lots of new models coming in... chevy, Toyota, Honda... already in and running! Porsche, BMW and Audi coming in soon. Benz getting in their SLK's. Lots of SUV's. WOW! I never thought India would see that... only question, where does one plan to drive a Porsche on crowded Mumbai roads?

  • Bank Loans: Anyone and everyone seems to be picking up a bank loan to buy property, cars etc. Ever since the entry of the better known names (ICICI, HDFC, HSBC etc.) getting a loan has never been simpler and paying in monthly installments is convenient.

  • Broadband: Its finally here... but the next step would be to make it dirt cheap and available to every household. Security threats will be very high after that.

  • Multiplexes and Malls: There is one almost around every corner. 6 years ago, saying I live near "Shoppers Stop" was cool. Now its like "What Shoppers Stop? That small little shopping complex?". Altho, the movie ticket prices for the night shows in the suburbs are exhorbitant.

  • Coffee Shops: I know, they were here 2 years ago. But the number has increased, altho they still charge you extra for every add-on. Where is Starbucks??? I heard there is one in Delhi? Barista is still not in the same league.

  • BPO's, Call Centers etc: They employ a lot of people and pay reasonably well. Start you off with about 8-12K and move you on to 20K+. As per my well placed sources, the moment a guy in India touches 20K he gets married.

  • Fitness and the Hip Look: The youth is into working out and staying in shape (which is good). Gone are the days where I used to see rather obese people who looked like they just got up from sleep, wore the first pair of clothes which fell out of the closet and walked into school (I was one of them - actually I am one of them. Mom just said she plans to give a quick crash course on eating, walking and dressing habits). Coming back to the point, walk into a grocery store and the the girl next to you will resemble someone who just came straight from a fashion show.

  • Prostitution: How much ever the non-profits and the other organizations try, its on the rise. There were a few nights when I walked home from Juhu (around the Mocha/JW side) and every corner had these ladies stare at you... and if you look around, all these big cars pull up to them. Sometimes I wonder, what could have led these girls to such an act?

  • Singles: Most of the girls I knew (I mean like old time buddies) are no longer single. Some engaged, some married. Actually, had I stayed on for another month I would have some 10 weddings to attend. No surprises if my next trip has me playing with their Kids!! Lesser singles I know...

Sunday, December 05, 2004

Saturday Nite Entertainment

This was my third Saturday since I got back and to say the least, the last 2 have not been too entertaining. The first one went in overcoming my jet-lag. The second was Thanksgiving weekend and everyone was outta town except this one loser I know, which happens to be me!

There is a saying which goes vaguely like, or has the same meaning as, "Search your own backyard before you search others". Holds so vey true. First hand experience here. Been searching around the city for a hang out spot which would be to my flavor. Now, there is no dearth of nightspots in a city which was the former corporate capital of USA and frankly the riverfront has an amazing open air bar (Kahunaville), while the regulars like Hooters, Chilli's, TGIF's, Bertucci's, Champps etc are always withing 5 miles drive. But none of these places seem to have the right kinda atmosphere (for me). Either its too crowded or its too routine/music sucks etc. Its good, but you dont attain nirvana... you know what I mean!

Walk exactly 3 mins from my place and there is this small strip which has a Grocery store, Laundromat, Chinese Food stall and a few other things like a liquor shop etc. Along with them exists a Bar called Pepi's. Looks like a small place from outside and I had never thought of checking it out. I had a change of thought today and ventured in. And viola! Few minutes in there and I was in love with the place. Its got this all wooden look to it, a bar in the center and dining tables around. Lots of space. Not crowded but not empty. They had a Karaoke night happening and it was rocking, altho I didnt know most of the songs being sung, but the elder people sang some country music while the younger lot had some rock n R&B. Good blend. Very down to earth place where everyone seemed to enjoy themselves. So Pepi's it is!!

Conclusion: Search Your Own Backyard before you search others!

Friday, December 03, 2004

Google search against MSN search

As of now, Google is the mother of all searches. Smart hires and difficult interviews to get through into Google (at least the US locations).

Microsoft is warming up on the search front and altho BillG admits that Google is miles ahead, promises Microsoft will produce a much better search engine few years down the line (maybe 5?). The problem is just like how almost all people expect Windows on their PC, most people expect Google in their search. Just like its impossible (almost) to change laymen from Windows to Unix/Linux, its going to be difficult to change people from Google to MSN Search. Create a better engine, but how do you change the mindsets of the people? Marketting? Maybe...

Anyways, just a funny thing I found out... I was just trying MSN Search and comparing it to Google Search. So I type up "Apoorva Joshi" (yeah yeah, I am in love with myself) in both.

Google gives me 37 hits. But there is no mention of this blog.

MSN gives me 6 hits, and it does count in

Interesting! I never expected my blog to show up really. With Google it was out of question, since its spiders would find no links. But it makes me wonder, what is MSN using that it missed out on 32 links which Google caught up, but got through into this one link which Google did not. I am no search engine expert so sorry if this question sounds like an average dumbass one to you.

Irony of things, I have posted on many MSDN blogs about stuff and it shows up in Google, but not on MSN. Whereas blogger is a Google based software and it shows up on MSN and not Google. How about searching your own house before you look into your neighbours buddy?

Wednesday, December 01, 2004

Just Another Day...

Things are pretty slow these days. To make it worst, the sun sets about 4 PM and its pitch dark by about 5. If there is cloud cover, you dont even feel that the sun was up. And its cold!! Things are as routine as they can be, I sleep every night thinking I am gonna get up early and visit the gym. Like always, I dont!! So the routine of indulging in fat reducing exercises continues in the evening with Ram and Jugs for company. Of course, I see no difference in my weight... but then, Rome wasnt built in a day. Till then I use this dialogue which Vrinda (my cousin sis) had told me - "At the moment I am perfect for my weight". When that gets too boring, I have sentences like "Round is a shape, hence, I am in shape!"

So most of the gang is headed to India this December, either to get married/engaged or partner looking. Some are going just for a break. Found this article on ToI today, which went on about how people in USA are duping Indian girls, getting married to them and when they get here the girls realise its to what the guy had mentioned it to be, leading them to suicide. So now some organization is keeping track of all the Indians in USA (through some spy network) so as to provide the right information. Sounds like an interesting job (the spy thing). I wonder if there are any openings. Lastly, are they keeping a tab on the guys, or also on the girls? And who verifies the authenticity of the people who verify our authenticity?

Its been raining today (its nice that my car gets a free car wash), but it just makes the surroundings more cold and yucky! Also high speed winds (about 50 MPH) seem to have caused problems in few places. Now, am I glad I didnt have to drive more then 2 miles today. Also saw this disturbing (but fantastic) movie - Final Destination 2. Its gonna keep the geek in me awake all night thinking about the different aspects of the movie.... I shouldnt.... I should be asleep by now, since I have to get up early and goto the gym!!