26 May, 2010

We love the darkness…

Ever wonder why a lot of these manager types are unhealthy and borderline anemic? Oh the same applies to IT types too…yes you…reading this blog when you should be outdoors. Anyway, it’s a simple thing. We love the darkness and our artificial lighting and not to mention artificial air and ready-made coffee. We love to lock ourselves up in dark rooms to discuss…ahem…quarterly strategy. I’m not sure if this nocturnal behavior is specific to only us IT types or is a universal disease as we move up the great corporate ladder.

There’s bright sunlight outside, the birds are chirping, lovers making love, children playing in the streets and we are locked up indoors. And just in case we have these vulgar thoughts (like the one I am having) of seeing the sun, we draw the blinds, turn off the lights and sun bath in that holy glow of a MS Powerpoint presentation off the white walls. Come to think of it, I think all us IT types are vampires. Yes Vampires! We hate the sunlight, we work well during the night and are pale and generally hate the human race, especially those ones that are technologically challenged…you mean you’re not reading this blog using a blackberry with active sync which backs up data on that server in San Jose and is also integrated with your VoIP network??? How dare you…infidel!!! And we love to collaborate with other vampires too.

Standard operating procedure…enter room in groups (missing the black leather suits like those in Underworld) and sit…switch off them lights….pull down them drapes…bring in the goblets of blood ( cups of terrible coffee) and let us now see how to drive this silver bullet into them werewolves ( Code for ‘How to increase market share by killing the competition).

Below is the summary of the Daybreakers movie (courtesy Wikipedia.com):
Daybreakers is a 2010 science fiction horror film written and directed by Michael and Peter Spierig. The film takes place in 2019, where a plague has turned most of the planet's human population into vampires. A vampiric corporation sets out to capture and farm the remaining humans while researching a blood substitute. Lead vampire hematologist Edward Dalton's (Ethan Hawke) work is interrupted by human survivors led by former vampire Elvis (Willem Dafoe), who has a cure that can save the human race.

Convert this into a long term strategy with SWOT analysis and throw in an Ansoff Matrix (PS: I learn these big words to impress the MBA types at b-school) and we have a regular IT company vision (and sometimes mission) statement:

ABC IT Ltd. Is a 10 year old horror IT company founded by Chris Gupta (who was formerly Krishna Chandra Bhatia). The company’s long term vision is to enable every human on the planet with IT tools they may not really need. The company has set out to research the best industry practices while investing heavily in tomorrow’s technology. Lead by an able CFO, Kumar Santhanam (formerly known as V.S.K Kumar…notice how these CFO types are normally Tam-bram accountants) and CMO, Vincent Kapoor (Yes….he was previously known as Bunty Singh Kapoor…now he is Italian) to enable humans to move into the Cloud.

PS: All names here are fictional. Any co-incidence with human entities is purely by chance. I cannot say the same for Vampire Converts though

18 May, 2010

From the center of the Mosh pit


There is nothing more overwhelming than standing at a Lamb of God concert at the fringes of what you thought was a safe distance to watch people running into one another, and then all of a sudden, the area around you clears and you go ‘Oh f**k! This is going to be bad’. The drummer pounds up the double bass and you see what could almost be a million metal heads rushing at you to mosh. Ok! Not a million….I are bad at accounting…..there were probably a thousand…okay…. something in the region of seventy-five.

I was at the Lamb of God concert on Saturday and oh boy, it was fabulous. Close second in terms of energy to the Iron Maiden concert, but it was awesome none the less. Probably the best mosh pit experience. It’s a positive sign for the Indian metal scene when you have bands like LOG come down to add to the list of previous acts like Iron Maiden, Megadeth, Machine Head and others. A few more bands and India would be witness to the holy four of metal…Anthrax, Slayer and Metallica. (Megadeth already came and conquered).

What was more encouraging to see was the Indian bands who seem to have more than impressed many of the LOG members. It is however a sad shame that while we Indians want the metal and rock scene to improve, we are far too critical of our bands. Barring ‘Extinct Reflections’ and ‘Scribe’, the other bands were greeted with ‘F**k off the stage’ and even had empty plastic bottles thrown at them. One of the bands had to even get a little aggressive with the audience, but then, this is a sad sight to any one who wants to see India compete on the international scale. On an unrelated note, ‘Bhoomi’ have the same sound they had when I heard them at engineering college 8 years ago and don’t seem to have any signs of evolution….the other band from the North-East- ‘Boomerang’ were trying too hard to be ‘Rage against the Machine’ that they failed to impress. ‘ Scribe’ came in with a lot of energy and were fairly crisp, except for the vocalist who was all in your face with his frequent ‘buy my album’ rants.

The best part of the evening was the final performance of ‘Extinct Reflections’. They were one of the bands which we’ve been following right from college and they’ve grown from strength to strength with their sound and bandwidth. A band that probably gave us our first glimpses into the sounds from the west through covers of bands like ‘Lamb of God’ and ‘Death’…to a band that found their own sound. And I’ve seen the vocalist at other avenues where he’s sung U2 and other bands….so they’re not one trick ponies like a lot of other Indian bands. It was kind of sad that this was the last performance of theirs as a band, but I guess the ride was worth it.

The headline act for the evening was simply awesome. With a crowd that knew the lyrics to every song, people head banging around you, a hint of weed in the air’…and the many moshpits made the Lamb of God concert totally worth attending. And the audience was a good mix of young college kids, folks like me who’ve grown up listening to these guys and parents who’ve accompanied the younger generation of metal patrons to the show. There just is not enough for me to say to describe how the music brought back a lot of painful memories from engineering college when this was the sort of music that made sense. It was the kind of music that fueled and anger for which most of us did not know the source. And it was probably the same connection that brought dedicated fans to the concert. Except for this odd bhaiya-behanji type couple who must have thought ‘Lamb of God’ was either a religious discourse or free biryani being served. The expression on their face when they were caught smack in the middle of a mosh pit was precious. They were wise to leave before the concert was hitting its climax with songs like ‘Redneck’ and ‘Black Label’.

Overall, one brilliant way to spend the weekend.

10 May, 2010

The Ball and Chain

In case you think I am referring to the missus (or to be missus)….I’m not. Still single and ready to mingle! Target Audience- please take note. We’ve been handed laptops by the office management. Nooooooooooooooooooo! Do you know what that means?

For those of you still virgins to the ways of the corporate world, a laptop is not a status symbol, but is instead the ball and chain you drag around, quite literally thanks to the weight, indicating that you are employed in a fancy job and the company believes it cannot do without you accessing your emails from home. I know I’m fairly important to my company, I just did not expect I would be THIS important.

For those of you who scoffed at my disregard to the laptop, you know it’s true. Besides being a burden you lug around everywhere and ensure no one steals it, the laptop is officially the end of spare time that you might have. No offence to my office people, we marketing chaps need to look good and tip top when we meet potential clients, customers and the whole jazz band, and I will do so with a smile on my face….but why????? Oddly enough, the 20 year old Nikhilesh would have rated this as the coolest thing to have ever happened to him, (besides that cute girl who took his phone number…..but never called back…ever!) but 25 year old Nikhilesh knows otherwise. And the most depressing part about all this is that the model given by the office is the exact model I purchased before going to B-school. The least the could have done was give me a Macbook or something lighter. Sigh! The dark cloud to the silver lining of management!

Anyway, I guess it could be worse. They could have given me a laptop and “a blackberry”. Double kill!!!

05 May, 2010

First lessons from ‘Dork’

Before I start this, I must offer sincere thanks to Sidin Vadukut for his book ‘Dork’. Why is it so? Here goes. Although I stay in Bangalore, my company offered to put people up in this fairly nice hotel near the office, which is 13 kms from home. Initially, I thought it would be weird to stay at a hotel, but then it seemed a darn good place to make friends with the new folks who would be working with me. So here I am, at a hotel, near the office , in the town of Bangalore, where I have a home already.

Now, here is where the ‘Dork’ learning kick in. Unlike our protagonist, I do not assume that the company would pay for everything and go berserk and do things like order the lobster or send my clothes to express laundry. I am however still very tempted to raid the mini fridge in the room, but then I have the induction program at 8 AM and don’t want to show up with a hangover on day one. That is to be reserved for subsequent Monday mornings when I drag my feet out of bed and grumble to work. (HR personnel reading this, I kid a lot…so don’t put this in the evaluation). I shamelessly call up the HR and ask them as to what the company is paying for and what not. So, phew, I just saved myself from maxing out that credit card, and raiding the mini fridge. (They can pay for the booze at least…give us a daily stipend or something….will make suggestions to HR at induction tomorrow morning…PS: it’s 11:15 PM here and the free wi fi sucks….missing my upgraded 1 MBPS connection at home).

Besides coming off as a total cheapskate in front of HR, I am now a cheap bas***d in front of the hotel reception too. I asked them if they would charge me for using the wifi. Also, I asked them to bring up extra pillows as the ones in the room are terribly soft. You see, us hard working folks are not used to these finer things of life. In the coal mines, we sleep on rocks…. Anyway, I ask these chaps to bring up pillows which I ask, “are you going to charge me extra for this?”. The same questions followed when I asked for an extra towel.

Now, I’m not cheap… I do enjoy spending money…especially on myself, but then there are boundaries between what I am entitled to from the company, and what I need to pay for. The point of this whole ‘away from home’ exercise is not to spend money, but to know the team better. By the way, on a different note, this hotel room reminds me of the first few months of college when we were living out of suitcases. Sniff….nostalgia you scoundrel…making me all senti inside! Sniff!

04 May, 2010

The Mistaken Profiles

Don’t ask me how we got to talking about this topic, but over lunch, 3 of us friends were talking about the sort of profiles at sperm banks. For starters, who actually mentions the entire truth on their profiles. Take for example, a guy looking to make some money, while in grad school, so that he can use it to buy weed or booze would not write – “Poor student, with addiction to weed who thought why not make some money by getting to read some dirty magazines or watch certain questionable material”. Wouldn’t they normally write something like – “Smart graduate, top of class, willing to contribute towards the betterment of mankind and self improvement”.

Wait! I just think I hit on a business plan – SPERM BANK PROFILE WRITER.

Taking my meager skills, I can present what would be versions of the truth for people looking to make some money out of what I would call…ahem….vigorous exhaustive work. I could make a pauper sound like a prince. Anyway, after that brainwave of an idea, back to the matter at hand…no pun intended.

What if some poor woman decides to go for it based on a profile which says something like ‘height 6 ft. 5 inches, successful lawyer from Harvard, Blond hair, first generation Greek immigrant, interested in sports and opera’. And then 9 months later the kid turns out to be a short dark, Indian kid, with a bright future in the ‘outsourcing’ domain and the only sport he plays is ‘online cricket’. Now, can someone really return the goods…or do you go back saying that you’re not happy with the product? Now these people are definitely not from the poorer brackets of the world where they would choose to abandon the child. It’s probably a whole new ballgame if you married a guy based on the above criteria and the kid turns out otherwise….suddenly remembering the joke from ‘The Big Bang Theory’ where Leonard thinks the possible kids that he and Penny would have his brains and her looks. But in all seriousness, how does one settle the matter if they get messed up in this deal? What if some bored nurse in the night shift decides to swap samples, just for kicks?

The Convocation…

Ladies and Gentlemen, yours truly is now officially an MBA graduate…or holder of PGPM certificate considered equivalent of an MBA. (PS: For those unaware, most Indian B-schools give you a PGPM degree…not an MBA, so don’t think of my prized possession as anything less). It was a great convocation, barring a few friends who were absent; it was nice seeing everyone in my batch happy for once. Through all those roller coaster up and downs we’ve been through over the year, it was really nice to see smiles on everyone’s faces. And I must admit I cried a little when we got to throw those funny hats into the air. It was one awesome feeling that has taken many years in the waiting, and boy, after a long time, something felt this great.

Now, I need to point out that among the family away from family, I am the first MBA grad. So yaaay! Allow me to explain. No matter how old you get, when you’re with friends you have grown up with, there is always that silly childish pride in being the first to get something totally irrelevant to ones friendship. By this I mean, things like the first bike, first cellphone, first computer, first graphics card, first to have a girlfriend, first to get married…and many others. And it is this silly competition that probably comes out of being friends from school for so long that it really does not matter, but still matters. I’ve always been bringing up the rear on most of those matters. I got my first two wheeler way after everyone else, I am yet to get a license too. I got the cellphone way after everyone else. And I am certainly not the first to get married….let’s not even talk about the GF bit. But, here I am…the first to hold an MBA. And there’s this odd childish sort of joy that swells up in me that has kept me grinning these last few days.

Now that all this is done, it’s time to get back to making the most of what I hope is going to be on awesome life ahead. Wish me luck folks! Let’s hope I don’t have to wait ten more years for the next big achievement.