Sunday, January 27, 2013

These 10 years

Today I finish 10 years in the corporate world. It has been one heck of a ride, a lot of fun and luckily very little nastiness to remember.

The first job at GE was not the first time I was making money. I used to take tuitions while I was in engineering and by the standards those days, made a handsome amount ;) I even managed to save up a bit. Then there was the TA/PA/Grading jobs in UW. That period was very eventful, nervous, ridden with financial difficulties, emotional upheavals and what not. So when I got a co-op in GE, I was ecstatic. It was a lot of money compared to what I was making till then and ensured at least 6 months of peace from the uncertainty of having or not having a job.

I was at GE for two years. It was always turbulent, always turmoil, always uncertain. Then I switched to Cisco and since then, it has been one smooth, nice, comfortable journey, so much so, that the difficult past seems very unreal now. When I think of it though, it makes me happy to be where I am today, and feel peaceful.

I remember the first week at GE though, it was very weird to be getting in at 9 AM and getting out only at 5 PM. The whole day at a desk or in the lab but always indoors - it was the first time I was doing it and it was a very very weird experience. I remember very clearly thinking at the end of the first day if I would sleep though a good portion of my 30-year career. It was that weird and that boring. But somehow to this day, I am doing the same thing, and not sleeping at all, so all is well, I guess ;)

Friday, January 25, 2013

Please vote!

A while ago, a reader had commented that rather than voting and later claiming "I voted, did you?", it might be more useful to at least let the readers of this blog know any information upfront on upcoming polls, electoral lists etc.

The suggestion was a good one, and so, here you go. Please make sure if you are a resident of Karnataka, to enrol yourself to vote in the upcoming Assembly elections. Here is a link with the details:

We verified our presence and are (hopefully, if no one deletes going forward) all set :)

Saturday, January 19, 2013

This day that year

Somehow I always manage to remember it - I don't think about it like other days - birthdays, anniversaries, major milestones etc but somehow when I see the date on my phone, I always remember it. It always manages to strike out a chord in my mind and heart.

This day in 2004, nine years ago, I met with a life-threatening accident on I-94 between Milwaukee and Chicago. I went back into the blog to check if I had written about it earlier - I have, but only in passing. A bunch of friends from engineering decided to meet up in Chicago for a re-union. I was the only one with a DL and so I rented and drove around the mini-van that we had hired. It was an AMAZING three days catching up with old pals and what not. The last day, we could not sleep - everyone had early AM flights to catch. So we left Chicago around 4 AM, went to Milwaukee to drop off a few people with flights heading out of there and the rest of us were going back to Chicago, in a snow laden environment. There was a car, that did not check for it's blind spot and came right on to us. In order to avoid it, I braked hard and thanks to the snow, we swiveled and swiveled till we hit the curb. In fact I had not noticed the curb and could only see the huge semi-truck on the other side. I thought we were going under it. I was traveling to India three days later for a vacation and the only thing I remember thinking hard, really hard was "If I have to die, God, please don't kill me here in the US, I want to die in India, just give me three more days of life". When we stopped, there was air bags all around me, and my friends seemed all ok except for minor bruises. We called 911, the rental company, etc. The cops managed to chase down the car based on our description, the rental guys towed us to the closest gas station, gave us a replacement and we were all set to continue in about an hour and a half. Luckily the Chicago flights were all in the afternoon so we had not lost time as such.

The biggest challenge was to overcome my fear and shivering and get back behind the wheel and drive the rest of the 80 miles or so to O'Hare. I did NOT think I was up to it. I had to use all my courage and every bit of my trembling nerves to be able to do it.

I called my friends in Madison, and they said there is no way I should drive back to Madison from O'Hare. I told them, I would be OK, that the worse was over, but they would not listen. K had his PHD presentation that day so he said he'd start for Chicago as soon as that was done, so I waited in O'Hare. My friends all got their flights postponed to late evening and waited with me.

Finally K and M reached and drove me back to Madison. I am thankful for that gesture to this day. When I reached Madison, we returned the rental car etc and went home. An ordeal was over. I lived the day, I survived and got a new lease of life.

My friends were none seriously hurt and I also escaped with just a minor neck ache (thanks to the air bags). Else, I don't think I would have thankful memories of that day, I cannot think of what the guilt would have done to me if things had gone otherwise.

I happened to chat with Subhash the previous night (when we could not sleep and I had to find SOMETHING to do to keep me awake as I was (and still am) not a coffee drinker). He usually was the lone contact online on my Y! chat and was always "I'm on SMS" and I had a prejudice against that status. But I pinged him anyway, since I had to keep awake. General chit-chat and stuff later I logged off. The next day I woke up in Madison, and logged in, I saw him online. I pinged him. He seemed to be the only connection I had from my previous life into this re-born life. I told him what happened after I logged off and went out, and he was shocked enough to call me at that time (it was very late in the night for him then and he later told me he was with a super boss when I pinged him). My friends and K were suspicious and asked me who this guy was and what was really going on, and I honestly told them, we were just friends. He was just my senior from college etc. And equally honestly had to change my stand to - we are thinking of marriage, less than a year later.

Of course, no one believed me then :) I think.

Sunday, January 13, 2013

The first movie

Today we finally took Rohan to the cinemas. The reviews of Seethamma Vaakitlo Sirimalle Chettu were good, so we decided to go. The four of us (me, Subhash, my mom and father in law) went in the evening. The movie was disappointing, but the son sat through it reasonably well. I am assuming, if we take him to a movie he will like (like Cars2 or something), it will even be fun ;) Subhash had to do a bunch of breaks to take him to the loo and back and I was feeling sad for him, but otherwise, nothing to complain.

Friday, January 11, 2013


I wish more people would stop petty thinking, bickering, power-mongering and focus on real development for once - like this one:

NEPRA had a turnover of Rs 40 lakh in 2012 and expects to close the 2013-14 fiscal year with Rs 12 crore turnover. Working with the NEPRA model, an average five-member ragpicker family can earn up to Rs 9,000 per month. This amount stands in stark contrast to Rs 50 per day that most unorganised ragpickers manage.

Sunday, January 06, 2013


So, there was some goof-up by the bill desk folks and my Amex payments for the electricity bills did not go through this time. The bills had come up for presentment twice this month so I was a little suspicious on what was going on, but being in Hyd at that time, and not having the bills in hand, I could no cross-check and forgot about it when we came back.

The other day the meter-reading guy came, slapped some arrears and left saying if we don't pay, they will disconnect. The standard procedure. But since this is BESCOM I was going to deal with, for once, and for a change, I did not panic. I wrote to their MD and some other officials with whom I had corresponded earlier and they were very prompt in responding and we finaly identified that the issue was with BillDesk not processing payments.

So at the end of two days, we did see the line getting disconnected and I still haven't seen the refund come into my credit card but I am neither irritated nor extremely worried - and that is the magic of customer service. That is the difference it can make to end users. And coming from a government entity, it is all the more to be relished! The BESCOM guys came back today, we made the payment offline at a counter, everything was restored and I have the contact from BillDesk whom I can chase for the refund of what we already paid last month. We ended up paying a little bit extra (BangaloreOne charges etc), but still, the exercise was not nerve-wrecking.

BWSSB on the other hand has gone back to their old ways of no water, no responses etc. I called on Friday morning, and after two days of calling, finally the BWSSB tanker came today - but one too late, we already had a private tanker fill up last night, since we had run completely dry! If only I could see BBMP and BWSSB go the BESCOM way, I am sure Bangalore will be a more pleasurable place to live in!

Those student days

This year I had to see-off two of my engineers out of Cisco because they moved to the US for higher studies. Invariably there would be discussions on universities, campuses, life in the US (both joined Cisco right out of college and had never been to the US), visa processing, what to take etc. Since I am an ex-NRI, they used to ask me for advice now and then - and it used to be fun trying to recollect what I was like back then (12 years ago!!), what I did, what I carried with me, the whole visa nervousness, that first landing in the USA - land of dreams!, slowly getting adjusted to a new life etc. It all feels like so long ago now, almost unbelievable that it ever happened to me. Very refreshing for sure, just to think of those times and places, so different from the content and happy life that it has now become. I try hard to recollect street names, addresses etc (even the California routes are very elusive to my memory now, I have to refer to Google maps every now and then).

All in all, it is nice to see others embarking on the same journey and enjoying themselves. When I see the pictures they post on Facebook, I wonder, did I really live that life at some point - I cannot seem to believe it!

Saturday, January 05, 2013


Finally finished reading "Durbar" - Tavleen Singh's book.

The only thought I had before and after reading it was - how did the sycophantic government let anyone publish this. Not that the book was insulting to anyone, but it laid bare a lot of inside realities which are hardly flattering to the dynasty.

All in all a great read. Exposed me to a lot of those little details which went into history before during and after emergency - when I was not even born yet.

My thought for this book is that it should be made a part of all curriculum in schools as a non-detailed text book for everyone to know why we are where we are and how to avoid these pitfalls. Else, generation after generation - we will continue to suffer the same evils. But this is never going to happen - we all know that! So instead, I encourage everyone to read it if you can get your hands on a copy.

Wednesday, January 02, 2013

2012 - the year gone by

Time for the customary year end blog.

After the very sad 2011, all I hoped was for a sober, unexciting 2012. I just wanted it to be normal. As normal as possible. But it turns out, it was not such a bad year after all.

-Son fell sick very little - the first big plus.

-We were able to successfully finish all my mother-in-laws' last rites - to our satisfaction and inner peace. I hope she is happy wherever she is.

-Work-wise, we both did reasonably well :) Not a bad year at all.

-My mom and Dad stayed with us for nearly 4 months (with mom coming and going, but Dad here throughout) - their longest in 7 years - the last one being their US trip in August 2005. The son and they bonded well, and so did my Dad and father-in-law, it was a very happy time. The happiest family moments I have had for a long time.

-My sister had a kid - yay! One more cousin for Rohan!

-2012 brought a couple of new beginnings for 2013 to hold up and enliven. Thanks to these, 2013 will be a very exciting, promising, nervous and tough year in a lot of ways. I hope it goes well, and we end up celebrating all of it.