Archive for October, 2006

The early bird can keep the damn worm!

October 31, 2006

I don’t like waking up early. Especially if I’ve been to sleep late. The way I see it, my options are:

1) Not exercise in the morning
2) Reduce the time spent chatting with my friends at night

Honestly, I’m more inclined to go with the former. (You’re welcome!) So there goes half my strategy of the twice daily workouts. I also still need to go to the gym and start my membership. Will take care of that today.

Talked to dad’s partner (aka my new boss) about what I might be doing here. He said that one role they’re looking to fill is an internal auditor, to make sure proper processes are being followed. It actually sounds interesting, especially since it’ll give me an idea of the processes in all the departments. People won’t like me much, but for once, I don’t really care.

I’ve already made a few observations regarding the Indian mentality towards life and work, but I keep learning more and more, and the more I see, the more I realise that there will need to be a big change in work ethic before India can approach anything close to being a superpower. One of the big problems here is that people never say no, no matter how much work you give them. They’ll always tell you something will get done, no problem, you’ll have it tonight. Then, when it doesn’t get done, they’ll say they got distracted by some other emergency. And when asked why they didn’t inform you ahead of time that the task wouldn’t get completed, they have this nonplussed look on their face, as if you were speaking in Aramaic. Don’t worry, they say. It’ll get done tomorrow morning, guaranted!

Saw dad bitching some more guys out today for something stupid they did that will cost him lots of money. It’s still fun, especially since they usually deserve it.

In other news, I’ll be getting my cell phone later today. For those of y’all who would like to call me, drop me an email and I’ll send you my new number. I’m getting this phone as part of the Reliance CDMA mobile network. Looks aight, and should get the job done. And if you’re not sure how much it’ll cost to call me, check out these phone cards . Surely, I’m worth a few bucks, no?

Lucky me!

October 31, 2006

I got a Friendster message from this person today:
—————————————————————-
How’s it goin? I’m Kristy, I just moved right near Cupertino and I
wanna meet a nice guy around here . I moved here a couple of weeks
ago for work and now that I’m here I have nobody to hang out with! I
read your profile… You’re cute and I liked what you had to say :).

I’m
22/F/single and I’m lookin for a guy who is a little bit older or more
mature than me. You say you’re 25 and you’re cute so I guess you’re
qualified 🙂

My friend Jen from back home suggested I tried
using friendster to meet people in my area. I just signed up and my
profile sux hehe. I do have a blog/profile page at FlyFemale.com … I
have alot of photos and stuff up if you wanna see me.

I left you a personal msg on my homepage and I took a new pic for you today. Come check me out when you have a chance, k?

Lookin forward to seeyin ya,
Kristy
——————————————————————-

What do y’all think? The information in her message is at least four months outdated, but I think she’s being sincere. I mean, she certainly looks trustworthy…

Seeing things from the other side

October 30, 2006

It was interesting to see dad bitch someone out and for once, not be the person being berated. Apparently, dad was being overcharged by his travel agent, and he was not a happy camper. And you do not want to try and pull a fast one on my dad because you’ll usually fail, and even if you succeed, he will find out and there will be consequences.

Case in point: Dad’s on the Executive Board of the local Rotary Club. There is a Past President of the club (let’s call him GM) that dad doesn’t get along with at all. Among other things, the guy used his position to have the club pay for some of his own personal expenses. That kinda stuff really pisses dad off, especially when the money is meant to be used for other, more socially relevant purposes. Anyway, there were major disagreements, and at one point in time, GM and some of his cronies tried to get dad and his friend kicked out of the club. Dad went to a lawyer and established that their actions were illegal and against the Rotary International constitution. When GM’s people realised that over 75% of the club members sided with dad, they essentially crapped their pants. They also sent an unconditional letter of apology to dad regarding the whole nasty affair.

Now here’s the kicker. This all happened 4 months ago. At this moment, GM is running for election to a senior Rotary position, and there’s no way in hell he’s going to get elected without dad’s support. So now, this bugger’s calling my dad and asking him to vote for him “for their old friendship”. It was all my dad could do to not laugh out loud. I might not agree with everything dad does, but when he wants to make a point, rest assured the point is made.

First day

October 30, 2006

Came in with dad this morning. Got a more detailed rundown on the two sides of the business from one of his senior managers. Looks interesting. I don’t know yet if I want to spend my life doing this, but I will learn a lot by being here for a while. Especially because I’ll be privy to a lot of the executive decisions that most of the other engineers won’t be. Another cool thing? Next month, dad and his partner are going to Delhi to complete negotiations for selling part of their company, and he agreed to take me along with them. I won’t say a word, but I’ll definitely be drinking plenty of coffee that weekend so I can stay awake and alert. I also know a couple of people who are there, so it should be nice.

Funny aside: I’m in dad’s office, reading a manual. An employee entered the office with some papers. Dad’s on the phone. He had five consecutive phone calls on his three phones (two cells, one landline). As one call was winding down, another phone would ring. It was really amusing to see him going from one phone to the next for ten minutes.

Where’s the water?

October 29, 2006

In our apartment building, we aren’t connected to the city water supply. We rely on an overhead water storage tank that is filled everyday using an electric borewell that gets water out of the ground. The tank is usually close to empty by the end of the day, and needs to be refilled each morning. I realised this last night, when I needed to use the bathroom. So, at 2am, I woke up my parents, asking them where the borewell switch was. I then proceeded to lock myself out of the house when I went to the apartment basement to turn the borewell on. In case you’ve never tried it before, I wouldn’t recommend doing that, especially when you don’t know how much longer your bowels are going to hold out. Disaster was averted, however. Thank God we have a loud doorbell.

India lost today in the Champions Trophy and is eliminated from the tournament. *sigh* That’s about all I want to say about that.

In other exciting news, I finally got to have frankies for dinner. A frankie is a uniquely Indian fast food item that I’ve never found anywhere else. The way my mom makes it, it’s essentially a wrap made using a roti, stuffed with a vegetable patty (made of potatoes, peas, and other stuff), as well as spiced onions, and the inside of the roti is lightly coated with vinegar for that extra kick. Mouth-watering stuff, I tell you. That first bite was almost orgasmic…

Yes, he’s good, but…

October 29, 2006

There’s a show on Zee TV that’s very popular right now, called Sa Re Ga Ma Pa Li’l Champs. It’s American Idol with kids under 15 and with no Simon Cowell. In other words, the judges are all nice folks who always tell the kids how good they are, even if they have to point out minor flaws. Now, to be fair, from what I’ve heard, the kids are all amazing singers. That’s not in question. What I do have an issue with is the way people treat one of the three grand finalists in particular, Diwakar Sharma.

Diwakar is blind. Totally. Completely. That doesn’t change the fact that he’s a very good singer. In fact, the first time I heard him sing, what struck me wasn’t so much the quality of his singing as the quality of his voice. He wasn’t the best singer, but I thought he had a beautiful, clear voice. It’ll be sad when puberty hits.

Now, a lot of people believe that he’s still in the competition (and leading, last I checked) because of sympathy votes. Again, I can believe that, and I’m ok with that. I wouldn’t have voted for him, but I can understand why people would have. And I can also understand that his parents are proud of him, because he is handicapped and yet is succeeding in a large competition. What bothers me is how people keep fawning over the boy “because he’s blind and yet he’s singing on stage in front of so many people, and how brave he is, and how he is very blunt and straightforward with the judges, etc.”

Granted, I don’t know what it’s like to be blind. I can only imagine what it must be like to not have the use of one of the more basic senses.

*p.s. The grand finals are actually going on as I type this. Shah Rukh Khan is going to be presenting the award. I’ll be sure to keep y’all updated as things progress. )*
*p.p.s. Shah Rukh Khan has become a real advertisement whore these days. I kid you not, he’s in something like 30% of all the commercials on TV these days.*

Still, I fail to see the correlation between eyesight (or lack thereof) and singing. Maybe I’m just being obtuse and amazingly stupid, but how does the fact that he’s blind make it any more special that he’s a good singer and can sing in front of large crowds of people? In fact, I could make the argument that he probably has a sort of advantage over the other contestants, because he CAN’T see the crowd, and so is less likely to suffer from stage fright.

What annoyed me even more was when Shiamak Davar, the show’s dance choreographer (more on that later) kept emphasizing how “special” Diwakar was, and how we should all thank God for giving us someone as special as Diwakar. Shiamak is a well-known modern dancer in India, and gifted Diwakar with a gift certificate to his dance academy (which I thought was also weird).

Don’t get me wrong. I think it takes immense guts to get on stage in front of so many people and perform. And I also have a good deal of admiration for Diwakar for not letting his handicap slow him down, and leading a normal life. But in terms of being a contestant on a singing show, I don’t think he’s any more or less special than any of the other kids who made it to the finals.

Now, regarding the choreography… you know how, in Indian movies, the songs frequently have backup dancers? During the grand final show (which so far, has been going on for over 3.5 hours), there have been perfomances by all the other finalists who were eliminated earlier, as well as the final three. And during each song, there were backup dancers doing their thing. But here’s the funny part. They were all kids. And when I say kids, I mean they were all under 15. Turns out, they’re part of Shiamak Davar’s Junior Dance Company. But it was still weird seeing these kids doing the kinds of moves you’d associate with people ten years older. Lord knows I’ve never seen a thirteen year old dance like that.

Another funny note. When these kids were doing their performances, they were kinda sorta dancing along with the backup dancers, while singing along flawlessly. That automatically set off some warning bells, and I started watching closely. Those kids were lip-synching! I mean, they had sung the songs originally. They just weren’t singing during those particular performances, since they weren’t competing for prizes anymore. Mom didn’t believe me at first, but after a particularly bad bit, she stopped saying anything.

*Show update: Diwakar came in second. The winner was a girl named Sanchita who was definitely the better singer. In my opinion, this was the best possible result. The best singer won, but the “blind kid” did really well. And no, I’m not cynical. Why do you ask? *

In other news, we took a look at the new house today. But this post is long enough. More on that tomorrow.

This better work

October 28, 2006

One of the things I was most worried about on coming to India was what to do about my gaming computer. This was a gaming powerhouse that I’d had assembled in August 2005, the late fulfillment of a promise I’d made to myself while still in college. I wanted to just ship the whole thing over, but dad convinced me it made more sense to just remove the critical components (CPU, motherboard, graphics card, sound card, hard drive) and bring those over myself. Which I did. I brought them into the office today, and his techs are looking at the parts, figuring out if they can find the appropriate cables and power supply to house everything. I’m mildly hopeful about the outcome. I’m also a little anxious, since I was really hoping to catch up on my gaming backlog while I was here. I guess we’ll see how things go. All I gotta say is, it would really suck if I end up not being able to game for a year and a half. It would really, REALLY suck.

The other thing I was worried about was the broadband connection at home. Turns out, there might be a solution. Currently, we have an ADSL connection that provides 450 MB of downloading per month for Rs. 250 (BTW, Rs. = Rupees. That’s for the uninitiated. ) I’m looking at upgrading to a 10 GB data transfer option for Rs. 3,300. It works out to be more expensive per MB, but the speed is 4 times faster. Also, there’s free usage between 2am and 8am, which is when the bulk of the downloading will happen anyway. Lotta TV shows I gotta catch up on. Hehehe…

Hanging out with Adil last night was fun. He showed me a few of the new (and old) hangouts in town, and also showed me where the big gyms are, including the local Gold’s Gym franchise. I’ll be checking those out this weekend so I can get my iron on. Need to get fit for New Years. Adil also mentioned taking a French class, with a cute teacher. Maybe I need to start exercising my mind as well as my body… *ahem*

On that note, dad showed me another biodata/picture today. That was a no, but it did remind me about my promise to start uploading more pictures. And I figure, what better way to start than by showing y’all my biodata peekture? So, here you go. Enjoy:

Incidentally, this was taken last year, just after I got highlights. If you look closely, you can see the golden bronze glint in my hair. ;

Driving’s like riding a bike, but with more wheels

October 27, 2006

Damn, I forget to blog this morning, and all sorts of stuff starts happening!

Well, not really, but still…

Last night we went to my dad’s partner’s anniversary party. This is also the man who will be my boss for the duration of my employment here. My main motivation for going was to finally see Saumil again. For those of you who don’t know (and that would be… all of you), Saumil is probably one of my two oldest friends. Our families have been friends for at least 20 years. Plus, they moved from Houston to Baroda around the same time we did, so he and I grew up together. His life followed a somewhat similar path to mine, with the one difference being that he did his undergrad in India (IIT-Kanpur… but that’s a whole ‘nother story) before coming to the US for his Masters and work. He moved back at the beginning of the year to work with his dad, and he’ll be leaving next summer for business school. So, at least till then, I’ll have someone to do stuff with, even if we enjoy different things. Plus, and this is a key plus, he was the one that suggested we could go to party in Mumbai at least one weekend a month. For that alone, I love him.

Anyway, he was going to be there. It also gave me the chance to see all the other family friends’ kids. Now, I’m the oldest one in the group (I think). But it was still definitely weird to see these kids more or less grown up. And, I hate to say it, but the girls have all, bar none, turned out to be quite cute. However, as soon as that thought entered my mind, I immediately remembered that I used to know them when they were thiiiiiiiiis tall, and any thought of something happening was immediately replaced with the thought of “Ewwwwww!” Plus, to top it all off, the cutest one is the one who’s mom I’d least want to be related to. Not because she’s a bad person, mind you. She’d just be… a lot to handle. And no, I’m not naming names. ;

Incidentally, they were projecting the India-West Indies cricket match on a big screen at the party lawn. At the very end, West Indies were trying their best to snatch defeat from the jaws of victory, and it was funny to see everyone standing up in front of the screen (and yes, I was one of them). And as soon as they finally hit the winning shot, everyone turned away at once and started commiserating about how bad a loss it was for India, and how they screwed up. ;

On the way home, I got to drive Dad’s Camry. It felt kinda weird, since I was driving on the wrong side of the road, and it was a stick shift, albeit a powerful one. However, I did learn to drive in India, and the old instincts were just starting to kick in when we got home. Still, I much prefer the smaller car, which I got a chance to drive today.

After I walked/jogged 6 km with dad this morning, I kinda decided I wouldn’t be going into work today, especially since there isn’t really anything for me to do yet. I do need to get my computer reassembled (more on that later), but they’re working tomorrow so I’ll just go in then. After a late lunch, Roshni and I went to a couple of cell phone providers to compare offerings. Dad wants me to get Reliance, since we have a corporate plan and I’d get cheaper rates, but I wanted to see what the competition was offering. Unfortunately, the offerings weren’t very impressive. So, Reliance it is. And I’m gonna tell dad to get me a swank phone too. Might as well. Unfortunately, the Indian cell phone market is extremely confusing. They don’t have any “single monthly fee, X number of minutes” plans. You can get either a pre-paid or post-paid plan, and how much your bill amounts to depends on who you call, who calls you, and where both of you are located at the time. I’ll try explaining it once I understand it myself, if only to show you how frustrating it can be.

Afterwards, Roshni (who’d accompanied me) drove to the movie theater to meet her friends, and I got to drive my Indian baby (my American baby being my Honda) home. And even though it was only a couple of miles, it felt good. It’s a smaller, zippier car, and much easier to handle than the Camry, making it perfect (in my opinion) for Indian roads. And after seeing how many Santros are on the road, I think a lot of people here agree with me.

In about an hour, I’ll be meeting Adil , my other remaining buddy in town. We went to school together, and have been friends for… umm… 18 years? 19? Something like that. He works for the Times of India now, in an editorial capacity. He’s going to be my hookup into the interesting things to do and places to go in Baroda, including which of the new restaurants are worth checking out. Let’s see if he can introduce me to some cool people too.

Random Note: Forgot to mention this earlier. On Tuesday, while driving to Hemal’s engagement, my dad had mentioned that there was a new airline starting service in Baroda, called Indigo. And do you know what my first question to him was? I didn’t ask what the rates were. I didn’t ask what other cities it flew to. The first question out of my mouth was, “What’s their USP ?” I noticed it at the time, and thought it was interesting. Wonder if it means anything…

My new workplace

October 26, 2006

Went to the office this afternoon to take a look around. It’s actually very impressive, even by American standards, let alone Indian ones. Nicely landscaped and well-maintained compound, and a very professional-looking building/factory. The cubicles are upstairs, and the assembly/testing area is downstairs. All in all, I wouldn’t mind working at a place like that. We also met with a representative from Reliance Mobile, one of the major cell phone services in India, about a new phone. I’ll probably head over to a showroom tomorrow to look at some actual phones. Anyway, I’ll try to take some photos of the office soon, and post them on the blog. There were also a couple of other sights I saw that need to be captured on film (or memory card, so to speak) in order to be best appreciated. Me explaining them would kinda dull the impact. Trust me, you’ll know what I mean when you see them.

Where all the magic happen(ed)

October 26, 2006

Well, I’m finally home. HOME home. My room still feels the same. Hell, it almost smells the same. Not sure yet if that’s a good or bad thing. Anyway, it seems that Xanga now features video blogging. I’ll have to check that feature out. I wanna make this blogging experience as interactive as possible. And I figure, the more entertaining I make it, the higher my audience retention is going to be.

BTW, I finally got to ride in dad’s new car. He got himself a Toyota Camry, which is a pretty big deal in these parts. Deep Maroon colour, though I’m sure that’s not the official name. Felt pretty smooth, though I still wish I had my Accord. I wonder how long it’ll be before he lets me take it out for a test drive?