Friday, August 12, 2011

Poke the Box: When was the last time you did something for the first time?

I am sucker for Seth Godin's books and essays.
Poke the Box is his recent manifesto about starting.
I know I know. I am not going to listen to you, lol.

I just love reading and re-reading his books for the insightful stories he shares and how short and pithy he keeps it. But mind you, if you are looking for a how-to book, this isn't for you. There are other books of his, that do a better job at that. This is sort of like a poster, you can stare at and ruminate about what you are going to

In his own words:

Starting a project, making a ruckus, taking what feels like a risk.

Not just, "I'm starting to think about it" or "we're going to meet on this", or even "I filed a patent application..."

No, starting.

Going beyond the point of no return.



Making something happen.

The job isn't to catch up to the status quo. The job is to invent the status quo.

Wednesday, August 10, 2011

War of the Word

You know how you get into that REM kind of deep sleep. You are floating somewhere, amongst mountains and beautiful valleys, air bubbles and flowers and lots of food (in my case, haha)..only to be interrupted by a freaking phone call x-(

So this is how my REM was disturbed last night.

Phone rings

Me: Hmm..
Voice on the phone: Where is the fcuking print?
Me: Whaa???
Voice on the phone: I cant find it. Where is Print and Print Preview?
Me: Print Preview? What? Who's this? Someone from office?
Voice on the phone: This is God. Now where the fcuk is print?
Me: Dad!!!!!! WTF?
Dad: Yes, good morning. I got my computer fixed today at the store. The guy formatted the whole damn thing and put Microsoft Word 2007. I can't find print preview, I don't see the usual buttons. That arrogant SOB changed everything.
Me: Who? The store guy? But that is the new Word dad...Word 2007 interface is different.  And it is not the store guy's fault.
Dad: I am talking about Bill Gates
Me: He doesn't work for Microsoft anymore. He runs charities and Malaria awareness and...
Dad: SOB. Did I wake you up?
Me: (Sarcastically) Oh no, I was doing laundry.
Dad: Don't get sarcastic with me. What do they teach you at work these days? To get sarcastic with your own parents?
Me: I didn't know they "teach" at work. And it is not Bill Gates' fault.
Dad: First I lose my files. Then I don't find a print preview. And then I have to deal with your chatter.
Me: Stop PMSing ok? I know where to find the print preview. And I am not saying a word until you apologize to me.

Crickets chirping

Dad: OK
Me: Ok what?
Dad: Apologized
Me: From when did OK replace a Sorry?
Dad: Fine
Me: I am looking for S-O-R-R-Y
Dad: I know how it spells. You just spelt Sorry
Me: Ok
Dad: And I just told the word
Me: Fineeeeeee. Click on that Windows logo on the top..extreme left
Dad: You kidding me?
Me: No. That's where they put it all. Open, Save, Print etc..
Dad: That arrogant SOB
Me: Ya I know. They should have asked you.
Dad: What do they pay you guys for? To readjust buttons on the interface? That is what you call programming?
Me: Oh come on. I don't work for Microsoft.
Dad: Then what is it that you do? Why do you get paid so much more than me?

And then an hour long discussion continued...

Monday, August 08, 2011

Divider skirt

The other day A and I were discussing the very controversial topic of Divider Skirts. Ahem.

The first time I had mentioned it was to my dad, at age 15. It was one of those "I need to get  new uniform because I have grown taller" moments. My dad was very bothered at the rate I was growing tall. He was bothered due to economical reasons, of course. So it was time. He had to take me to store to buy me a new uniform. That meant two sets - one green in color and another a white one. White, because, that's what we wore on Saturdays, you know, for doing all that morning drill stuff? Anyway. This time, however, it had to be a divider skirt, not the normal one. So when he took me to the local garment retailer, I said,"Umm, this time I need a divider skirt".

I heard my dad squeal, not in delight, but in disgust.

He looked straight in my eye and said, "And WTF is a divider skirt?"

How uncouth and un-gentlemanly of him.

"Divider skirt, that which divides like a trouser", I said

"So you mean long bermudas", he said


He chuckled and said to the sales guy over the counter, "Some divider skirt, kathe yaaro..." (which in the local slang means - Some divider skirt, my friend)

The sales guy nodded like he knew what I was talking. He brought two or three of them. Of course, my dad asked him to stop bullshitting and get the cheapest one available but also the most durable. To which, I seemed to have told him that the most durable wasn't necessarily going to be the cheapest anyway, because of obvious macro economics laws. And he very unabashedly asked me to stop bullshitting him.

Now our very serious sales guy added an extra 20 Indian rupees to the most awesome divider skirt he fished out for us. Of course, that didn't please daddy dearest.

Dad: Woh last time,  two sau ka liye the.. (The last time I purchased it was 200 Indian rupees)

Sales guy: Woh, do saal pehle ka tha saab. Abhi rate-aa bad gaye (It was 2 years ago, the rates have increased now)

Dad: Zamaane se aarum yahan pe. Tumhaare saab aur hum ek ich school mein padthe the (I have been a long time customer here. Your owner and I went to the same school)

Sales guy: Maaloom saab, vo-ich bees daala main. Nahi tho vo assi ka padtha, divider skirt (I know, that's why I charged only 20 against 80 rupees for a divider skirt)

Dad: Ek beech ki seelaayi ke liye assi lethe? Kya zamaana aa gaya. Apne zamaane mein hum usse bermuda bola karthe the (For a sewing in between, you demand 80 rupees? In our times, we used to call such a thing as a bermuda)

Meanwhile, lots of chuckles were exchanged between men in the store

Me: This is so disgraceful. I won't take anything less than a divider skirt.

Still heard chuckles from men.

Me: But Mrs. Bhaskar Rao will not let me do drill if I don't have a divider skirt

Dad: Does she wear one?

Me: No she wears a saree

Dad: There is no divider saree?

Me: I need a divider skirt. Now.

Dad: Fine.

Looks at the sales guy and says something and finalizes it for the same rate as the original non-divider skirt

The ride back home on my dad's TVS moped was spent listening to him grumbling about the divider skirt. And if you knew my dad even remotely, this went on for some time from grumbling to humor to crass jokes on how divider skirts could actually empower women.

That night ended on a note.

Dad: Tell Mrs. Bhaskar Rao, I am getting her a divider skirt on her birthday.

Monday, August 01, 2011

Monkey business

On days when I am overwhelmed, I set aside everything that is overwhelming me, fish a book and walk out to find a lonely spot to read. I am not sure if that is a nice way to overcome overwhelming tasks, but seems to work  for me. So for the past week I have been reading the manifesto style "The Art of Non-Conformity" by Chris Guillebeau (this dude is awesome!) If anything, this guy should pay me for I have influenced atleast a dozen New Yorkers this week on the subway, brandishing the book at their face. If you keenly observed New Yorkers they dont give a shit, really. No matter what you do. You might make sounds, fall on your face or even roam around pantless on the subway and they will not as much as raise an eyebrow at you. As if to say, "Like seriously, you thought that was the weirdest thing to do? Grow up!"

Anyway, so the point I am trying to make is - New Yorkers wont bat an eyelid until you are hooked on a book and then they want to watch the book cover to see what got you hooked so badly. Yeah. No kidding. I have many a times based my choice on dear New Yorkers book choices. Each one radically different. The joys of a subway travel.

Now if you have read this far and survived, you would ask me why the title reads "Monkey Business". That's because instead of a traditional book review I chose to quote this story from the book. I am sure you have heard this tale in one form or the other (amazing how many variants you have for a story that has a moral in the end). Definitely a good book if you want to get a shot of inspiration.

The Art of Non-Conformity: Set Your Own Rules, Live the Life You Want, and Change the World

 And now, ladies and gentleman, the monkey business...

"Five monkeys are thrown in a cage by a sadistic monkey-hater. Enough food and water is available at the bottom of the cage, saving them from starvation while forcing them to lead a boring life of staring  through the glass every day. The food at the bottom is bad, but sufficient. At the top of the cage, however, a large stalk of bananas alluringly waits. Conveniently, a ladder to the top has been provided by the sadist.

After getting over the shock of being caged, one of the monkeys scales the ladder and reaches for a banana. All of a sudden a fire hose appears from nowhere. The monkey at the top of the ladder is soaked with cold water but not only him - all of the other monkeys are soaked as well, in an exercise of group punishment for the sins of one freedom-loving monkey.

Over the next few days the experience repeats itself several times. One monkey makes a run for the bananas, the whole troop of monkeys gets soaked, and pretty soon the group starts beating up the monkey brave enough to scale the ladder. The bananas are still at the top, but just out of reach. The monkeys reluctantly accept the fate of living a life without bananas.

Then one day the experiment changes...

The sadist takes one monkey out of the cage and replaces him with another one. Not knowing the consequence of being doused with the cold water, the new monkey immediately begins to scale the ladder in pursuit of a banana, the rest of the monkeys pull her down before she reaches the top, and the troop settles in again.

The next day another monkey is replaces, and then another, and the process repeats itself: the new monkey lunges for the banana, gets pulled down, and adapts. After five days, no monkey from the original troop remains, and no monkey has even been soaked with cold water - but every monkey knows they are not supposed to climb the ladder. One of the monkeys finally asks - "Hey why cant we eat the bananas?" The others shrug their shoulders and say "We're not sure - we just know we can't"

So kids, basically the moral of the story is "DO NOT SETTLE"
Always remember - It is easier to be a cynic, than a believer