Monday, August 29, 2005

That Thing About Americans

When you say America, land of the free sounds like a synonym. Talking about Americans, (restricting to the sub-group of people in big cities) it would be an understatement to say they are insane. Unfortunately some people would call that last statement partially false. I belong to that group. The problem is its impossible to tell who is insane. In the yesteryears it used to be simple. People talking to aliens or the blue skies were insane. Those who indulged in other activities, excluding murder were not.

I like the big cities (for clarity, I shall call it New York or NYC from now on) thought processing. "EVERYONE IS INSANE". Let me explain:

Nowadays, the people in the Versace suits have cell phones, and these cell phones have micro-mini ear-mounted mic/earphone combinations, hence being greeted with the sight of a career savvy woman in a $2000 Versace who is having a lively conversation with a rather bored parking meter is not an uncommon sight in big cities (for clarity, I shall call it New York or NYC from now on). This is a common enough experience that most New Yorkers try to get used to it by consuming humungous amounts of alcohol which is about 9 parts lemoneade to 1 part Bacardi Limon served with a breath mint for $12 plus tax, which comes to $72. The semblance of insanity therefore is the norm.

One thing I have noticed since landing in big cities (for clarity, I shall call it New York or NYC from now on) is no one bothers how ever the hell you dress (or dont dress). The other day I drove to pick up a friend from the airport. As things would have it, I was late at work, so I got late home which made me conclude I would be late in picking up the dude. In the rush of things, I changed into the first shirt which I found lying on my room floor and dashed out without realising I had worn it inside out. I broke journey to get some gas and a coffe from the not amused at all cute girl at Starbucks.

Here is the funny thing. Not a single person said a word to me about my shirt. And despite the fact I looked like a really dumb jar of oatmeal, the cute girl at Starbucks was very kind to me. My neighbour who greeted me as I ran to my car treated me like any normal human. The lady who pulled up next to me at the gas pump exchanged the regular hello - how are you and smiles. But not a single word about my shirt being inside out.

This made me wonder, how the hell would anyone react to this in India! Lets restrict this to my apartment complex in Bombay. The first person to notice this would be the lady who sits on the second floor and oversees everything which goes about the colony. Soon word would spread - "Joshi's son wears his shirt inside out" (Marathi: Joshi'n cha mulgaa shirt ulta ghalto). This would be the talk at kitty partys and early morning walks. Finally one of the women would tell this to her husband. Then the rebellious Uncles of my society would call a general body meeting to discuss the consequences of these acts. "Our grandsons can get influenced by such behavior and stop wearing clothes" There would be discusions on how to bring an end to this but no action taken.

Very soon the rumours would spread that Joshi's son also wears his underwear inside out and all the 16 year old girls would smile sheepishly at me whenever I walked by them.

Finally one of the ground floor uncles would walk up to me and object to my clothing style.

Now depending on how my day has been, I could come up with either of the two answers.

  • Oh, I never noticed this. I am sorry. Thanks for letting me know. (This would be the end of it and it would be forgotten after a while.)

  • This is my way of saying I go against the core of society. My dressing symbolizes the inversion of social morales and the base of my own ethics. (The uncle would spread the word that Joshi's son leans towards the same types)

Meantime, Bird would be interested in knowing if any penal codes exist on wearing shirts inside out.

But in America, this would be cool.

I think I am becoming a believer of the everybody-is-insane mentality of America!

Thursday, August 25, 2005

Extrovert Sensor Thinking Judge

Team dynamics. Good companies not only hire smart people, but smart people who fit the bill. It may sound cliche, but you have to fit into the team. Thats the most important aspect of hiring.

The Myers-Briggs Type Indicator (MBTI) helps in determining personalities of individuals for better team dynamics. Have you noticed this one person who sits all silent in a meeting and requires huge amounts of energy to give a presentation. This person who gives an amazing speech but once the speech is done, walks into his cabin and shuts himself up for the next hour. Its not because he has a problem. He is just an introvert. If you dont give breaks after every hour, this guy will get drained out. Keep him with too many people around and it will sap up his energy.

The exact opposite for extroverts. People are their energy. They will talk their thoughts out loud. Keep them alone and they shall die. Know this and make your team work better. That was the goal when my company asked me to take up the MBTI.

The test breaks your personality into four types. And each type is broken into two. 0 is minimum (borderline) while 30 is the maximum in terms of score. An online test with about 100-120 questions with multiple choice answers were asked and evaluations were based on that.

1. Where do you focus your attention?

  • (E)xtraversion: These people tend to focus their attention on the outer world of people and things.
  • (I)ntroversion: People who prefer introversion tend to focus their attention to on the inner world of ideas and impressions.

2. The way you take in information

  • (S)ensing: Tend to take in information through the five senses and focus on the here and now.
  • I(N)tuition: Tend to take in information from patterns and the big picture and focus on future possibilities.

3. The way you make decisions:

  • (T)hinking: People who prefer thinking tend to make decisions based primararily on logic and on objective analysis of cause and effect.
  • (F)eeling: Tend to take decisions based primararily on values and on subjective evaluation of person-centered concerns.

4. How you deal with the outer world?

  • (J)udging: Tend to like a planned and organized approach to life and prefer to have things settled.
  • (P)erceiving: Tend to like a flexible and spontaneous approach to life and prefer to keep their options open.

The above is only an overview. And remember, you maybe right-handed, but that does not stop you from using your left hand. An extrovert could be an introvert at times. A Perceiver could be a Judger under certain circumstances. But what you mostly tend towards is the result of this test.

How did I stack up?

  • I am on the border of Extraversion/Introversion. Do they call that Ambivert? But as per the person who had come to make a presentation, I could lean towards the Extrovert side. I agree to that. I am always "hep and happening" but I need that little time to myself to think and reflect.
  • Sensing and Intuition - again a bordercase. Could swing either way. Likely to swing more on the sensing side.
  • A Thinker for sure.
  • And a Judger all the way.

Did that surprise anyone? At work everyone was pretty surprised on me being a border case for extro/introvert. Also that I lean towards the sensing side.

The whole group discussion was pretty well organized. There were some 12 of us in the room and everyone had to guess the other persons personality before the the test results were revealed. In my case everyone shouted EXTROVERT. He puts the Aussies to shame they said. I always knew the world does not see me the way I am. My best friend still has a hard time figuring out what I will do next, while I can read her like a book.

So finally for all those out there who have know me for years (or wanna know more about me), this is the summary of MBTI:

  • Decisive, clear and assertive.
  • Logical, analytical and objectively critical.
  • Adept at organizing projects, procedures and people.
  • Likely to value competence, efficiency and results.
  • Likely to prefer proven systems and procedures.
  • Focused on the present, applying relevant past experience to deal with problems.
  • Usually seen by others as conscientious, dependable, decisive, outspoken and self-confident.

I wont say all are right. The fourth and fifth points, I might disagree a wee bit.

If you really want to know more, go ask my MOM!

Also, what personality do you think you would fall into. I have this great book (Bird, I'll have you read it when I am in India) given to me by the person who conducted this presentation (for coming out to be the most deceptive of the lot) which identifies each trait of every personality combination in great detail and how to bring out the best in that person. So if you wanna know something about yourself, or simply, what would be your boss's weakness, shoot me an e-mail. But really. Think about it this way. Knowing your husband is an Introvert INtuition Thinker Judger might help you understand or predict his behavior. Thinking of taking a trip to Europe together? Let the thinker do the planning if you want it well organized. But if you are backpacking and looking for adventure, leave it to the Feeler.

And just to let you know, most CEO's of yester-years were ISTJ's. Hmmm... being an ESTJ, I missed it by one letter. Maybe I'll be the first to change the flow ;-)

Monday, August 22, 2005

You Shop Till I Drop

Here is my advice to all you sane men out there. Never, and I repeat, Never go shopping with the woman-kind (why do they call them kind? They are a brutal mass of infinite energy when it comes to shopping. No kindness shown.).

When she asks, "What you doing this weekend?", say you are going to Tibet to take up Buddhism.


Super Flow Boot Cut 518, Low Slouch Cuff 509, Boot Cut 515, Scoop Neck Top, Dip Dyed Flutter Sleeved Top. ... all these keep ringing in my ears. I wake up at night stammering numbers like 515, 509..... etc.

The next time some girl says, "Lets Chill", ask her to define "Chill" or just go sit in the freezer (bad joke!) but NEVER.EVER.GO.SHOPPING.

Chill can mean, walking the mall for some 6 hours, getting into every possible store (irrespective of what you want to buy), comparing prices, and finally making no purchase.

Damn it, I have never walked to and fro in a mall, as much as I walked this instance. The Chinese woman giving out free samples of General Tso Chicken also realised she's seen me before and stopped handing out those free samples to me!

Ok, even if you have to go shopping, do not, and I repeat, DO NOT, go shopping for Jeans. Seriously. The womankind will wear these Gawd knows zillion styles of Jeans, try every one out, ask your opinion, how it looks, how it fits, claim that you are staring at her butt and ignoring the jeans (and rest assured, you shalt get smacked for it). Finally she will claim one particular piece of cloth fits the best (which, I can bet, would look the same to you, compared to the last 30 styles she has tried out) and then finally say, Forget It, it doesnt feel right. Eventually people will call the store manager when they see you jumping up and down pulling out your hair in frustration, and have you thrown out of the store.

Always, always, always carry nutritional power bars. The woman will never stop shopping till the shops close and if you dont have something to munch on, you are at the mercy of Chinese woman passing out samples every time you cross her path. To those who can afford it, carry your laptop. No, I dont mean you can eat your laptop. But you can surely get some work done.

If the woman is your wife/fiancee/girlfriend/ChickYouTryToImpress, never have a smile of your face when you pass by
Victoria's Secrets. And to all you men who have stopped reading my post and started sufring Victoria Secrets website, go ahead. You have my blessings. We shall meet around some corner of this planet and if your wife/fiancee/girlfriend/ChickYouTryToImpress has not caught you staring at the beautiful Adriana Lima, we shall smile at each other!

Never ask questions. If you ask things like "Whats this?" and "Why this?", be prepared for looks which say - "Whats your IQ? Negative 200??" or "How does it matter to you, your job is to hold the bags"

Words such as, "Lets break for lunch", "Do you really plan to buy anything from here?", "How much longer?" and "Look, Video Game Parlour!!" are strictly forbidden.

Always say "Yes". "Will this look good on my Mom?" - "Yes". Even if you have never seen her Mom! Always, "Yes".

Only one time when you say NO and run. When she says, "I forgot my purse"

And I am bored of General Tso chicken.

Friday, August 12, 2005

Aamir Khan blogging?

I am not sure how true this is, but is Aamir Khan blogging to promote Mangal Pandey?

Also, Pals arrives tonite. Check what yahoo has to say about the weather over this weekend? I think I am gonna make my thousands.

And its a lazy Friday, hence this post. Ok Smithy, my ethics just went for a toss!

Tuesday, August 09, 2005

Blogger Vacation

We slowly approach our first milestone at work. Over the last month my role has shifted from that of a developer to that of a program manager. Coding has given way to Microsoft Word. Debugging has given way to sending some 50 mails everyday telling people to do this and do that. Fighting with developers and testers has given way to making developers and testers work together to meet our client requirements. Spending hours behind the computer has given way to spending hours at meetings which end up where they started. Incessant phone calls to the client to make sure we got the tiniest detail right. And then there is the lunch and dinners which you never get to attend as a programmer, when your client visits the company. In short, I was actually getting into management. Not that I didnt enjoy it, but I missed getting my hands dirty with code.

And it was time for my quarterly review with Director saab! From my
previous experience I knew I had to go about singing my own praise and not criticize myself. So I was on full song. My director says, "Good, even I like the way you managed things. I plan to keep you in this role for the next projects which follow." Geez! Talk about kicking yourself in the butt yet again. No more coding! Microsoft Word, zindaabad.

Was talking with Dad on the phone and I told him the same boring story as above. He says, "You can continue programming at home. But you can never learn management sitting at home. Specially after you are married, your wife takes over that department (ok fine, I added that last bit)."

Meanwhile, a NRI-Nanguys reunion seems to be coming up soon. Pals and Bakshi will be here. How many of you wanna bet that the weekend of 12th August will be raining in Baltimore? Its the
Pals Effect. I am putting down a few thousands on that.

Abbs has finally got his USA visa. He finally took my advice and wore a shirt which says "I dont booze, Save Bird from extinction, I am a Republican, I can kill Pals for free and I love Farro" with Farro's+GWB's pic to the consulate. The lady flipped! She didnt know what Bird we were talking about and volunteering to kill Pals made things simpler. Come next month and I'll have a booze-um buddy!

And with that I am going to be off blogging for a while (I can sense Bird rejoicing). My brain, heart, body and laptop all suffer from lack of attention. The laptop goes for some repair work (now is the right time since I have no coding responsibilities). This gives me time to get off my net addiction, take some time off and reflect on my life. Concentrate on some personal milestones. Also I can give time to my BharataNatyam dance class. Deep down inside I am scared it'll drive me nuts. Cant imagine getting up in the morning and not having a PC to check e-mail. We have become a slave of this e-World!

Of course, I'll be checking ya blogs and mail from work. Perhaps posting once in a while. So keep writing!!

And yeah, I was joking about the BharataNatyam part, altho it would be funny if I start practicing it.

Sunday, August 07, 2005

Smile, an everlasting smile...

Blame it on the coffee. I dont know why but I had a coffee at about 11 PM (Starbucks yoohoo!) and now sleep seems to avoid me. So what better to do than bore your lives blogging away. And since I am 100% awake, I will invariably type something which makes no sense.

I was a shy introvert when I first got to Syracuse. If some chick used to smile at me, I used to look the other way, while my mind would say, "You are a stud". But very rarely did I smile back. Only later did I realise that in America, everyone smiles at each other (unless you are in New York City). It did depress me when I realised I am not the stud I thought I was.

Back in India if you are walking at Andheri station and some kaku smiles at ya.... you run! No seriously, how many times do you see someone smile at each other (as strangers). But you know what, it makes one hell of a difference. The last when I was in India (heck, 16th August will make it one year), Merwans Cake shop and Mc'Donalds was a regular stop as you pass by (more of Merwans actually). The way people order stuff made me wonder if the people on the other side of the counter are slaves? But here is what makes a difference. Walk up to the girl at Merwans, before you place your order, smile and ask her how she is doing. Either she melts, thinking you are hitting on her, or she feels really happy. In either case, you get amazing service (not to mention a freshly baked cake). A simple smile makes a big difference.

I always smile and greet the girl who sits at the entrance of Ballys. Someday she works at the bar (bar for protein shakes and smoothies) at Ballys and its been more than once that I got a free sample.

So the smile can be very effective weapon. And it makes the other person feel that wee bit better. Of course, you have to be a little bold to use it. Sometimes its not returned.

But if you wanna take this one step further, you gotta move into compliments. Subtle, but mesmerizing. And more importantly, relevant. Telling the girl at Merwans that she has an awesome figure might not be the ideal thing. But admiring the fact that she can handle so many customers at the same time would work well. While the Bally's Blonde would be really pleased when she hears her workouts are showing good results.

Of course, intellect plays a big part in this game.

Woman: How are you today?
Me: Not bad, how are you?
Woman: Beautiful.
Me: Now that I could tell 3 months back when I saw ya for the first time.
Woman: *Gives confused look... like whats he talking*

At such times however solid that pick-up line would be, you look dumb! All you scientists who have done complex calculations by now to figure out who is the dumb one, let me tell ya, despite the other party being the dumb one, You look dumb!

Ok, I think the coffee effect is wearing out.

Love, hugs and a pillow!

PS: Bonus points to the one who can guess which song I was hearing in the car. The post and the title reflects it.

Thursday, August 04, 2005

Paper Pollution

What has the world come to? Times of India of all the things.

Mangal Pandey: Rahmans Rising. I mean, what the heck? Couldnt they get any better title for the post? And then they set it up brilliantly.

1. There is porn in Potter VI
2. Mariahs nude in her new video

(by this time the brain is already in the porn mode)

And then:

"Mangal Pandey: Rahmans Rising" - Cracks me up!

I know, some say I have a brain which can see things from the most weird perspective.

Comment Alert for Bird and Abbs (and Iyer, if u have met him (pals) ever). Women are asking "Who is Pals?". You guys can handle this better than I could.

Wednesday, August 03, 2005


Heads up for Microsoft Recruiters. Hire Arun Iyer for position of Technical Evangelist. This should explain why.

Monday, August 01, 2005

Its My Life!!!

Ideasmith asked an interesting question in the comments of my last post.

Question: If a person has rights over his own life, does that include the right to end it too?

Personally I think so. But the law doesn't agree, if Bollywood is to be believed..."Aatma-hatya kanooni jurm hi nahin, paap bhi hai!!"


This takes me back to one of the classic plays written by Shakespeare. Julius Ceasar. There is a character called Cassius whose phrases stand out so clear, I have not forgetten them since I first read the book.

At one stage he mentions, "Why, he that cuts off twenty years of life, Cuts off so many years of fearing death" to justify the killing of Ceasar. Cassius was someone who strongly believed that ones life was in his own hands. And God has given him the ultimate power to end it when he wants to. On the other hand, Brutus was not a firm believer of this idea.

The following by Cassius had made me think about what IdeaSmith mentioned many a time.

" I know where I will wear this dagger then;
Cassius from bondage will deliver Cassius:
Therein, ye gods, you make the weak most strong;
Therein, ye gods, you tyrants do defeat:
Nor stony tower, nor walls of beaten brass,
Nor airless dungeon, nor strong links of iron,
Can be retentive to the strength of spirit;
But life, being weary of these worldly bars,
Never lacks power to dismiss itself.
If I know this, know all the world besides,
That part of tyranny that I do bear
I can shake off at pleasure. "

Come the fifth-century. Theologian Augustine of Hippo, argued that offing yourself is never justifiable because it violates God's injunction "thou shalt not kill."

My take on this? I rather make it illegal. What do I mean by this? Take the tradition of Sati. It is suicide in a way. People forced the woman to jump into the funeral pyres. This was banned. But, what if some woman, without any pubic pressure wants to go Sati because she cant live without her beloved husband? Its still banned. But if this was allowed, as in suicide by choice, people could manipulate the womans mind to go for it, yet make it look by choice.

But without the strings of public pressure and all attached, "If a person has rights over his own life, does that include the right to end it too?", I would say YES. But as a law, its a strict NO!

Its my right to drive on SV Road. I pay road tax. But the law says I have to stop when the light turns red.

You have the right to your life, but a law which stops you from ending it. I prefer to keep it that way.

You didnt start it, dont be the one who ends it. And if you do.... please write all your money and belongings on my name.