Sunday, January 1, 2012

Glad to be back!

Honestly, I've been thinking about my India trip for a while now. Not because of anything specific, but because I wanted to see how things might have changed; especially with the whole Lokpal bill and Anna working to remove corruption. I was eager to come to this 'new India' which appealed to everyone, and obviously I was very excited. My flight landed in Delhi (my point of entry into India), and as I was just getting out of the customs area, the customs officer there asked me weird questions about what I had in my bags, just an excuse for a bribe. Not because I was carrying anything expensive, or carrying a ton of electronics items, but just because he was used to asking people for the extra bucks. It then got me thinking into a deeper problem : We are trying to pass this bill to track and remove corruption, but corruption at the lowest level has and will always exist. Is it really possible to eliminate that out completely? Will the customs officers in airports stop asking every other guy who lands in the country to put an 'X' amount of money into his passport while he acts like he's checking it and takes the money instead?

I really, really doubt that. I wasn't the only one who was asked to do that. Most people of my age are. They all do as told so they can avoid the unnecessary hassles at the airport. This being said, I obviously was very eager to get home, eat my mom's food after 18 months. I had even asked her to prepare a few of my favourite dishes and even bring it to the airport. India, obviously has changed. So have I. When I first went to do my masters, I used to find everything so expensive in the United States. I would see something, convert its price back into INR, and say "Hell No!". I still do this when I'm there. Now, I'm doing the opposite. I convert back everything to USD, and I'm like, "Wow, that auto ride cost me 50 cents! Awesome!".

Bangalore, needless to say is still the same. Crazy traffic, all roads blocked due to the Metro construction, and dust flying everywhere. Its great to be back at home. I remember once over the summer when I was in southern California, the fragrance of a particular flower (I really don't know its name). I just stood there for a while. Just stood still. That used to be the way my entire street in Bangalore smelt. The purity and the sweetness in it. Perfect. I haven't got the chance to smell that fragrance in Bangalore over the past several years : The flowers usually bloom during the monsoon, and I was usually away in Ranchi at that time.
Bangalore has its own charm. I just have two more weeks here, before I get back to Raleigh. Hope I have the time of my life! :)

Wednesday, November 9, 2011

The 8th November Story

Startups always have a lot of energy and enthusiasm. Yesterday, I sat up all evening and night to place an order on "Republic Wireless". At around 6:30 pm, the site went live to take orders, the servers couldn't support the traffic, and the site crashed at 6:31 pm. Noone could place an order. At 8:30, it goes live again, only to crash at 8:32. Obviously, they must have increased the server space on the cloud at least by 10 times. It then got me thinking about how the developers would be feeling at such a company. Your project finally goes live, and crashes within 1 minute because of the incoming traffic! Electrifying! You increase the limit on the cloud, and it crashes again!
That's the power of new technology. If people think your product is going to change the world, and has a business model that nobody has ever thought would be possible, even you cannot predict the expectations people have. I'm sure these guys must have heard a lot of "You can't change that, this is how it is!". But these guys did just that, and managed to come up with a really innovative idea. And the public loved it!
What actually kept all of us waiting for the Android Phone was the audience in twitter and on facebook. The comments and puns were all very interesting, and even republic wireless cracked a few jokes to keep us going! Loved it! :)

Wednesday, May 11, 2011

Dreams !! Dreams.... Dreams ???

Today, all of a sudden, I was thinking back to the time when I was a five year old. Well, not all of a sudden, but let me continue anyway. So when I was a five year old, and had absolutely no worries whatsoever in the world, I wanted to be a cop (We all did, didn't we?). I thought back then, that it was the best possible thing to be in the world. It was my dream. So I went and talked to my elder cousin about this, and she told me that cops get shot at every now and then, and it might even be fatal. The last thing a five year old wants to think of is that. She instead said I could be a traffic police cop instead. My dream changed, and overnight I wanted to become a traffic police cop. So I started learning the signals the traffic cop at the junction next to my house made (I did have all the time in the world!). A few days later, my younger cousin was home, and I told her this. She had a different way to look at things. "But Praveen, road accidents do happen right? What if a a car went over you?". I was like damn, people always keep doing this to me.
So I went over to my dad, just like any other kid would in a tough situation, and said, hey dad, everyone keeps saying something or the other about being a cop, and they scare me. So, what are you anyway, you seem to have a safe enough job. So my dad goes like, "Oh, I'm a doctorate". Kids learn fast, but they need to be taught stuff first. I just assumed he was a doctor. Well, it sounded like doctor. So, what's the first thing that comes to your mind when you think of a doctor? That red plus sign! So I ran off to make a small red coloured plus sign, and stuck it on his door. I would have said "Voila!" if I knew what it meant. My dad saw me sticking it, and said "What are you doing?". I'm like "Well, you said you are a doctor, people should know about it, how would they if you have no red plus sign anywhere?". "Well, you see, I'm not that kind of a doctor". "Ok, what kind of a doctor are you?". "Well, I've done my PhD., I'm a Doctorate in Chemical Engineering". That was too much to process for me. I was like why do people confuse me so much?! So I didn't want to be a doctor - to begin with there were two types, and I didn't understand what one category of them did. Life moved on, and I wanted to be something different each day - a bus driver to accountant, from an engineer to an artist.
So when I was 17, I followed the public junta and partially my dream (I had too many of them), to become Engineer Thothathri. Things moved fast, and I came to do my masters. After coming here, I first used to think "I'll get into a huge company with a hundred thousand people for my internship". I then started applying to smaller companies, but those with an idea that I thought could change the world. My dream changed.
Yesterday, my mom called me up, and asked me my plans. I said I think I cook well, so I want to be a chef at an awesome restaurant. "But then why did you do your engineering and get into the technical side of things in the first place?". "Well, I'm an engineer, and we do creative things. Engineering is pure application. I'll apply my engineering skills towards food, be creative and I'm sure great things will happen. You can't tell an engineer not to be creative, its like telling a bird not to fly, or fish not to swim, that's how we are, we've learnt to think out of the box during our undergrad years!".
Have you ever had a feeling when you think the other person on the line is listening with utmost interest, but in reality they hung up on you? Yup. Same thing.
Anyway, the point is, people change, and so do their dreams. The only thing is to always have a dream! :)

Saturday, February 19, 2011

What the convocation and BIT, Mesra mean to me....

It's official! In a few days from now, most of my friends would have got their degrees from BIT, Mesra. Me? Well, I'll get it 'In Absentia', probably a week later. I thought this would be a good chance to write about my undergrad university, and what BIT Mesra means to me.
I came to Ranchi on the 23rd of July, 2006, with a huge trunk and a suitcase, not knowing one word of Hindi,or anything even close to it. I would never have imagined the next four years of my life would be the best; and that life itself would change so much over the period. The very same evening, a few of my friends and I thought we should go to the 'Insti' and write down the timetable for the following days. Today, I feel that was the best decision we ever made. We didn't get to copy down that time table, but we did get to meet some very interesting seniors. So here's how it started : We left hostel 6, and were on the road near hostel 5 (old), and a senior asks us 'Freshers ho kya?'. I didnt know what to say. I think I stammered. I had heard stories; crazy stories of how people in hostels were asked to pee on immersion rods, and loads of other similar stuff. None of that happened. But either way, it was the only thing running in my mind. I was like "OMG... We are soooo screwed!".
Nothing happened that actually 'crossed the limit'. It was all fine, but they did make sure all of us cried most of the time. They asked us questions, and if none of us answered, we had to do something called a '90'. One of the things I was asked was what UPS stands for. I promptly said 'Unlimited Power Supply'. Can't believe I said that! Either way, after the session, all the seniors have been so helpful, and I've always considered myself very lucky to be one of the first few to have had such an experience.
Things moved on, I got to know my roommate better, and before we even knew it, the first semester was over. I think it was in the second semester when I started realizing that studies wasn't everything. College wasn't just about books : It was about having conversations on politics, ideas, GK, movies, drinking tea at Sharma Dhaba, and everything else you can imagine. The remaining years just flew by, and though a lot of crazy stuff happened, it was finally all over.
I miss the whole experience; those four years were absolutely awesome. BIT has taught me to think differently, to have hope, to always think big, to work hard, and to have a lot of fun. The convo is in less than a week, and I won't be able to go and attend it. I just want to go and see how things have changed, and relive those four years in the few hours scheduled for the convo. I sometimes feel if I had worked harder, I could have got that gold medal from the college. Naah, I wouldn't trade the fun I had those 4 years for a gold medal.

Friday, July 23, 2010

Balle Balle!! From Ranchi to Raleigh!! :P

Time really does fly fast. Four years back I wouldn't have ever thought I would end up doing my bachelor's at Ranchi. A year back I wouldn't have thought I would be going to NC State. But yea, things happen in quick succession, and voila.... here's where I am!
People keep telling me, "Oh, so you've also taken the one way ticket to the United States", or even better, "Oh, so here's a true Gandhian.... He said Quit India over half a century ago!". Haha. Funny. Personally, I've never seen the reason to settle abroad because of the opportunities. We have loads of opportunities here, in India. After all, most of the things sold in India with a "Made in USA" tag are probably not from America, but from 'Amjikere' local!!
But yeah, people do like to live in such a place where rules are written everywhere, and its easy, non chaotic and even seems utopic! Relatives here tell me ,"So now you are going to find out why people settle there!!". Yeah, I'm sure its a nice place to hang out, but hey, can you get away after jumping a signal with 50 bucks and no ticket?
I'm not saying you *HAVE* to pass the buck around or that I *LIKE* to do something like that, but that's how things are, and its hard to think of a place that doesn't work this way.
I've got a week more here in India, and then its back to studying computer related stuff again. I obviously am trying to enjoy every bit of what I have here, as I'll come again only a year later for the summer break. And its the shopping that I'm doing now that makes me think, "God... so many things... so many shops... We never had this even like 10 years back...". Real estate, technology, the standard of living, everything has just skyrocketed here.
Its not too much to say that a lot more development is going to happen here compared to anywhere else in the world, and I don't want to miss out on anything going on here in India. There has been an Industrial Revolution, a Green Revolution,... People are going to talk about these years later on as the I.T. Revolution. And India would be the epicenter.
Its very thrilling to say I am leaving in a month... a fortnight... and now a week... but so many different ideas and thoughts seem to creep up in my head. At the end of my masters', the only output I want is to have learnt something new, something different, something that can make things better for people. Even if not in a big way, the smallest of ways would be just fine!

Saturday, April 10, 2010

My First Blog

Well, theoretically this isn't my first blog. The first time I blogged was way back in December 2005 after reading an article about Blogging in the Indian Express at Bangalore. So, I went and sat in front of my P4 desktop, and the pathetic 56k Modem connection I had back then. To say that I was excited would be an understatement - I was both astounded and amazed. "My very own web page for free!", I thought, and sat down to write something about cars. (The only thing back then that was even close to blogging was having your own web page on Yahoo! Geocities.) It was a feeling I had never had before - it was like a six year old seeing a red Ferrari on his neighbour's driveway, or a ten year old laying his hands on a brand new X-Box. At the end of it, I experienced a sense of accomplishment and it felt absolutely wonderful!
The ironic part is that it took me another 5 years to blog again! Weird. Totally weird. I've always wanted to write. To write something with purpose, something that makes a difference, something that would be remembered. May be its all because I've always wanted to be a journalist, but have so often been told, "But your English isn't all that great!". True, true, very true. But hey, that doesn't prevent me from Blogging!
I thought the first blog would be a nice time to give some credit to the people who made me choose the name of my blog, "random thoughts ...". I had two seniors at BIT, Mesra - Shyam and Kalyan. They didn't teach me how to code in Perl, or to solve equations on transconductance (whatever that is!) in subjects like DIAC, but they did teach me something very very important. I remember going to them the evening before my interview for an internship at a financial firm to get "formals", as I had none, and the only advice they gave me was this : "Be random". I don't know why, but I took their advice pretty seriously, and it worked! Even they were shocked it did! Even today, before I go for an interview, a viva, a written exam, or I do anything at all, the only thing I tell myself is this : "Be random".