Friday, July 30, 2010

Men are from Mars, Women are from Venus

I am reading the book 'Men are from Mars, Women are from Venus' by John Gray. It contains many insights about the differences between the ways of communication between men and women. It will give you many ahaa... moments.
Some of the gems...
Men like to solve their own problems and they like taking advice when asked.
Women like to share their problems, even when they are not expecting them to be solved and they don't require solutions. They just want their men to listen to them.
Women should not give advice to their husbands unless asked.
Men feel fulfilled in a relationship when they feel needed but turned off by neediness
Women feel fulfilled if they are cherished.
Women grow resentful when they feel that they have given more and are getting less in return.
They should learn to set boundaries, so that they dont resent it.

ʺNeedingʺ is openly reaching out and asking for support from a man in a trusting manner, one
that assumes that he will do his best. This empowers him. ʺNeediness,ʺ however, is desperately
needing support because you donʹt trust you will get it. It pushes men away and makes them
feel rejected and unappreciated.

Men are afraid of giving because they are afraid of not giving enough. So they don't make an effor to give.
What women says should not be taken literally for e.g - If she says "You never listen to me" - what she says is he is not listening to her right now. Women like to take poetic license in expressing their feelings but men just give information like.

eg. W: ʺWe never go out.ʺ M: ʺThatʹs not true. We went out last week.ʺ

When a venusian is upset, she uses generalities
Male intimacy cycle: When men become too close, they withdraw. It is normal for men. When they come too close, they feel like loosing themself. So they got their caves and rejenuvate themselves.
Women should understand this and not punish them for pulling away

I haven't completed the book but  I will write the summary of remaining points in my book reviews blog.

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Friday, July 23, 2010

Finding what I love to do.

This thought is not new to any of you. Everyone might have at one time or the other about this. 

powerful motivator in our lives isn’t money; it’s the opportunity to learn, grow in responsibilities, contribute to others, and be recognized for achievements.

Don't you agree?  And how is this possible? It is possible if you do the best of your work. And how can you do that? You can do that if you love what you do. So that is how I started about this quest of finding out what I love to do. So I turned to my faithful friend Google and found one asking to just keep writing till one thought just hits you in the heart making you ask how is it that I didn't know this till now and another asking to write down my strengths and weaknesses  and find that sweet spot of what you love and what people are willing to pay for. I did try the first method but couldn't get much far. The second one yielded some options but actually may be my mental chatter was too much that I couldn't converge on one thing. And then of course, I drifted off. But whenever I didn't feel fulfilled, again my thoughts would come back to this question. After all, Steve Jobs has said -
 "If you haven't found it, keep looking. Don't settle.As with all matters of the heart, you will know when you find it."

So I kept looking. I have a job writing and maintaining software and I do it quite well. But it feels as if I only do it for money. It is not satisfying very much, though I would get occasional spurts of contentment in solving issues or exploring new technologies. So what is that I love. I would love to develop an android application for an idea I have. But I am not able to do that. So do I really love it? So how much should we love something. Here Paul Graham has an answer  -
 As a lower bound, you have to like your work more than any unproductive pleasure. You have to like what you do enough that the concept of "spare time" seems mistaken.
That is it. But I have a lot of spare time but I spend it watching movies online.But if I think more, I would love to do that. But why I am not doing that? Because I am lazy and more than that I am procrastinating. And now here I have a dilemna whether I really like it or not. And PG has a solution too. That is to 'always produce' 

"Always produce" is also a heuristic for finding the work you love. If you subject yourself to that constraint, it will automatically push you away from things you think you're supposed to work on, toward things you actually like. "Always produce" will discover your life's work the way water, with the aid of gravity, finds the hole in your roof.

So I will apply that and see if it works. Another person I respect a lot, Rajagopal Sukumar, the CIO of Cognizant, says that we can learn to be passionate in this excellent series.  Sukumar says that if you have the aptitude, by constantly producing, you will become passionate about it. And Paul says that if you don't love it, you will not be able to produce it. So this is the ultimate test. 

First find out what you like. Then try to grow passionate on that. You will either become passionate about that or you will drop out of that. 

So dear readers what do you think of it? Lucky are those who know what their passion is. Are you among one of them or did you discover it? Share your stories of how you discovered it. 

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Sunday, July 18, 2010

How I ended up taking up Engineering ? - Thanks to my maths teacher.!!!

I grew up in a very picturesque village called Devapur, in Adilabad District of Andhra Pradesh, India which is surrounded by hills on every side. During the reason season with clouds touching the peaks of the hills, it will be just amazing. Just around our colony, if we walk for some distance we will go in to the hills and the picture below is one of the entry into those forests on the hill. I and some friends of mine used to just around in the hills in the evenings of summers. 

One of the routes into the forests 

I love being in nature. We had a big vegetable garden behind our house. Every year before the start of rainy season, I would gather seeds of bottle gourd, ridge gourd, bitter gourd, beans,tindora, spinach etc and wait for the first rains to plant them. I used to have an amazing feeling seeing them germinate, grow. After some days we used to build supports for the creepers to grow and wait for them to bear fruits. Then I used to pluck them with pride after they grow sufficiently. To stop from cows or pigs from eating all these, I, my brother, my father and mother worked hard before the start of rainy season to build a fence around our house. To this day I remember the memories of those days. It used to be hard work and  we had a lemon tree in the backyard, sometimes we got pricked by the thorns but at the end of the day it felt so satisfactory. Also, we had a very big playground in our village and I used to enjoy a lot sitting on the grass in the big ground with wind blowing on my face. Everyone would have had memories of playing the ground, but I was very bad at games - that is another story though.  We had all sorts of fruit trees in our house. Guava, Pomegranate, custard-apple, mango, berries, banana trees around our house. I used to be very proud of our garden and I loved being in nature. When I learned of photosynthesis, plant propogation etc, i was naturally interested. Botany interested me. So I kind of decided that I would be mostly studying botany later. 

A view from my backyard

But all of this changed after seventh standard. We got one teacher named Shailaja, for mathematics.  I was a not up to the mark in mathematics. In the sixth standard, I didn't understand half of the syllabus especially geometry and got just 60% marks in the annual exams. So I was not that interested in mathematics. But Shailaja madam was very passionate about maths.More than what she taught, how she taught was very much instrumental in making me lose my fear of mathematics. She used to tell us about Shakuntala Devi. That year we had equations and in-equations in our syllabus. So she used to give us puzzles on solving equations which were very much fun to solve. She also told me to solve all the example problems in the text book. All these went a long way in increasing my interest in mathematics. We again had the same teacher again in our X standard. By this time, I was very much confident in my ability in mathematics.

One day, madam told us her own story of how she always wanted to be an engineer and told the story of Ramanujam and his mathematical prowess. We were floored at the story. She increased the profile of maths over other subjects and she romanticized engineering which in turn increased my interest in mathematics more 
And I ended up getting 99% in mathematics.!!! 

So now I was equally open to going mpc way or bipc way. After coming to know that medical education takes a lot of time, I finally ended up taking MPC and going on to become an engineer.  

So thank you Shailaja mam if I have successfully completed my engineering and working here in the US, it is because of you.. 

Of all my school teachers, my English teacher and Maths teacher have influenced my life very much. Though I couldn't know the importance then, I can appreciate them better now. I always wanted to thank them personally but due to various reasons I couldn't express that. So here are my thanks to them. My thanks to my English teacher is here.

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The Story of how my - 'Pride went before a fall'

I have written the story of my grammar and handwriting here. Now I will write about one more incident concerning my English teacher.

I was pretty good at academics in my class. My ma'm was aware of that. But she was aware of one thing I was not aware of. One day we were having a refresher of previous days class. I was asked a question. I was not able to answer. And I was standing there with head seeing the ground, unable to face her. And that was when I heard the line "Pride goes before a fall". I didn't understand what she was trying to say. What was I proud? No I never spoke condescendingly of anyone. I always gave everyone respect. So I ignored it. This was in II standard.

Then in my V standard, one day I didn't do my homework. And again she made me stand with a head looking into the ground. My class teacher came into the room to make some announcement. I felt very bad standing like that in front of my class teacher and suddenly I started crying. Then I heard the dreaded words again - "Pride goes before a fall"

After that I again had the same analysis done and concluded that I was not to take it seriously.

And the final time I heard it the last time was in my X standard, one day when she was questioning everyone and most of the class was standing for not being able to answer the question. I was able to answer the question asked to me and I was sitting. I looked at one of my friend Biswajit and started smiling. My expression was one of concern - like I am sorry that you are not able to answer the question. But I couldn't say the words - I just smiled at him. He too smiled back. My teacher watched him and started scolding him. He told that I was laughing and she started scolding me. I tried to explain that I was just concerned about him. But she wouldn't have any of that. She continued scolding me and I started crying. And then she let out the dreaded sentence - "Pride goes before a fall".

And I was reminded of all those events where I was being chastised with this line used on me and I always that I was unfairly being scolded all these times. But this time I couldn't ignore it. But I couldn't understand it.

Ten years have passed since and now I feel I understand it. What she was trying to tell me was - not to get so caught up in the fact that you study well so much that you cannot handle failure with grace. You would do well to remember your roots. 

It is very easy to get all wrapped up and identifying ourselves with the work we are doing, company we are in etc. But we should never forget the fact that everything is ephemeral in the world and hence we should live with humility. 

Point taken ma'm.
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Friday, July 9, 2010

To Each his own and other musings...!!!

 Role of government:   Should the government bail out the banks? So should we become a company too big to fail? While not bailing the banks out would have been catastrophic, what is the limit? Sometimes, it looks like a world described in Atlas Shrugged is good, but is it really true? Would you really ignore a dying friend who couldn't fend for himself? What about children etc ?  It looks like completely selfish pursuit as described in Atlas Shrugged cannot be possible. Somewhere government should enter? Where is it and what are its limits? There is no right answer to this. I think there is no stable defined role for the government. It just has to cater to the existing demands of the people in the best way it sees. Hence, by design, it cannot satisfy everyone. To each his own. One person may see it as right and one may see it as wrong and the result can only be seen a long time later and sometimes never. Seeing this, I am getting more and more confidence on the fact that there is no one truth. To each his own.

In the Dream World: I have had many many ideas but very very few have seen the light of the day. That is enough proof that I am living more in the brain and less in the real world. May be I am becoming a philosopher. i.e not only giving out unproven theories but trying to live them. Not that it is wrong but I feel that I should live more in this world. The ideas are not bad but my mistake lies in trying to do them all alone. Slowly but surely I am realizing that we need good company to live in this world to lift us when we are down and for being lifted when they are down, to support each other and to push each other when other slacks. I had such good company in India in Sandy, but in the US with work taking most of the time and remaining time being spent on cooking and cleaning, there is very little time. But I think that should not be an excuse to not do anything.I have always kept to myself and lived an introvert. I have to connect more and live more in this world if I wish to realize most of my dreams.

No single madness aka passion: I am not sure if this is a problem. I have lot of interests good governance, education with values, good web sites, blogs, green energy, music and movies. Any thing in these fields I devour it. While reading each of it, I learn something new, I get new actionable ideas and feel inspired but with reading so much in so little time, at the end of the day I am not able to remember anything and it looks as if I haven't read anything at all. And it looks as if I am wasting the time. Though in reality, I am enjoying the time, I am feeling guilty of not utilizing the time well. Why this paradox? Though I am hopeful that my knowledge will one day come helpful, I am afraid of the fact that I might keep feeling guilty till that day comes.. !!! Sometimes, I feel if only I had only one madness or passion, I might have excelled in it and would have spared you of this long broody posts :)

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Tuesday, July 6, 2010

Is Honesty The Best Policy Always ???

I read this post in Sandy's blog and it being very close to one of my thoughts, I decided to reblog it. Read this original post here.

So what are my thoughts on this ?
From our childhood we are taught that people in the world are either black or white. But as we grow up we understand that there are really very very few people in the world who are entirely black or white. For every dishonest thing any one does, those people have justifications of why it is right. And if you see from their side, it is not entirely trash too. I think there are ethical dilemnas and questions like till when will you be honest.

Consider this situation: Suppose you are going to a marriage and you have promised that you will bring one important thing to the marriage and the marriage might stop if you don't go. Suddenly you realize that you lost your purse. Suppose it is a remote place and the last bus for that place is leaving soon. You have no time to get more money. Let us make it more complex. Suppose nobody is giving you the money for ticket. And you find that one gentleman's purse falls down and you find sufficient money for the ticket. What  would you do? Would you steal the money ? If the option of borrowing doesn't exist , will you steal the money? Let is make it more complex. Suppose you need some money for operation of a loved one and you are not able to get money ethically. And you have some ways of getting money unethically for the operation - Will you do it?

What I am trying to do is making the decision sufficiently white so that you take it. In the real world we are faced with these and many more situations where you will have to take such decisions. Sometimes, these are personal like the questions above or sometimes they may be systemic.
Take the passport question for example - How many of you have got the passport without paying a bribe ? Anyone. That was my first brush with bribery - The officer who asked me just casually asked me - pay 300 rs. I was shocked. How can he claim the money so easily. I dared to ask him - Why is it for?  He said it is for something and took it. Will you risk not paying the bribe and getting your passport delayed ? How many pay claim the HRA allowance and medical allowance with fake bills ?

Generally, I try to avoid all such things. Once when my bike was towed for parking in a no parking zone (which I knew only after they towed - There was no notice there ), the police asked me to pay 100 bribe and take it or pay 200 rs fine and take it. I chose the latter route as I was very much against paying bribes. But the more I have seen life, the more I understood that it would take a lot to be honest always.

Now ignoring the money aspect of it, again, with the experiences I have, I am not sure if honesty is the best policy always. When there are dark secret about you and you have question, for which you have to let the truth in the open. Then you will be in the situation of damned if you tell and damned if you don't. While it was easy to hide the truth, telling the truth has had a very bad impact. Sometimes it seems as if not telling would have been better. But hiding the truth means  being dishonest with them and with yourself. So I told but paid dearly. I would accept that we shouldn't do something which would hate to accept before 10 people, but what if you were foolish enough to do such things ?

I would say everything is relative. There are no absolute truths. Every rule can be broken if situations permit.But as much as possible we should strive to be honest as we all know that is the right thing to do. It is better to design systems which will make it easy to be honest than having systems which will make it easy to be dishonest.

Sunday, July 4, 2010

Reflecting on America

It is American Independence day today and I am in a mood to reflect about America.

Nothing is either white or black, everything has shades of grey.

America is not an exception. After getting independence, America has brutally eliminated the native population and expanded westward. And America bullies other countries and has gone to war under flimsy contexts for power, resources or markets. Government is very much influenced by big corporations, especially the war machine wherein war are created to sell more weapons. This said, America has been the best hope for the modern world of democracy as every country tries to emulate US. Things which I love in US are

1. Google :
 Yes I literally love it. Imagine a company doing so much for an individual consumer. May be there is lot of money doing this, but  I am sure, it doens't have to do all this for free.GMail, Gtalk, GVoice, Blogger, Picasa, YouTube, Google Docs, Google Sites and more than that, Google is the company which has brought the 'free' and generosity model mainstream and I love google for that.

2. Interstate Expressway System: 
If America has companies all over the country, the main reason is the Interstate Expressway system. Princeton is not a big city nor is Basking Ridge but each of it has big companies in it. Can you imagine companies in your town or my town in India? It is because each town and city is excellently connected with the highways and with 24X7 electricity and internet, there is no big reason to be in the city and pay huge rents. And that explains the prosperity

3. Obama: 
People might say he hasn't done much, but he is putting one plan after the other for action and I am sure he will be able to achieve what he promised. His speeches are amazing and arousing. I would love to have such a leader in India.

4 Attention to Detail: 
Here all the public works are done with a lot of attention, Initially I thought it was paranoia but after seeing how the number of accidents is very very less, I understand their strict process and attention to detail in public works. To illustrate, if there is road work, they put the notices from 2.5 miles ahead alerting the rider. In Walmart, near a mirror a warning will be there. On plastics bags, a warning will be there that they might suffocate small children. All this shows, how much attention to detail each thing they do has.

Now  only these things come to my mind, but I will add to this list as I am impressed more. Happy Independence day from America to all Americans..

Witty Questions - Tag From Sandy

Sometimes when we have nothing much to blog, these tags are blessings in disguise...Sandy has passed to me some witty but probing questions to lets start....

1. What one material thing are you hoping to inherit?
Some inheritance I get without asking  - my life and my genes which shape my character... And of course I am not hoping for any other inheritances.

2. If You were a character in a movie that you've seen who would I be and why?
I would like me and my friends to be superheroes from the movie 'Incredibles' to cure all the ills of the world. On a different note I like the character of 'Tyson' in Happy Days very much for its humanity. 

3. If You could do one thing for Someone, no matter what it was, what would it be for Who?
Hmm..tricky one, nothing is fixed so difficult to answer...Maybe I would get a doctor degree for my wife who always dreamt of becoming one...

4. You’re driving. It’s great weather. Attractive member of opposite sex in expensive car looks at you and half-smiles. You’re in a relationship. Do you return the look and half-smile back?
Yes a smile doesn't harm 

5.Pick a situation
a. You’re 42. Would you rather go without sex for three years and win a lottery after that, enabling you to never have to work again? Or
b. Get twice the lottery money now (at 42) but have your partner sleep with your boss?
No-brainer - First one..!!! 

6. What has been the craziest thing u have ever done?
I haven't done many crazy things, but I think telling proxy attendance and standing up and accepting it when asked and telling my madam that your grammar is wrong would rank among some 

7. God gave u chance to alter any one event in the past, present or future. What wud that event be?
I would have cared about certain people better. 

8. Would you rather go bald or lose your front tooth?
One is happening without my permission, so I would go with that. And that is less painful too ;) 

9. Your sibling is sleeping with your married close friend. Who do you go to first, sibling or married close friend? 
With whomever I have a better relationship with...!!! Really should I confront ?? I'm unsure.

10. Would you rather your kid turn out to be a nymphomaniac or gay?(For my amusement, please answer in the format: I would rather my kid be —) 
I would rather my kid be nymphomaniac

I pass on this tag to Ketan, Vyshu and Srinivas.