Thursday, October 30, 2008

Trick or treat?

Halloween is just around the corner and my daughter is suddenly showing a lot of interest in Halloween. She is looking forward to going for “Trick or treat” with her friends tomorrow. I took her yesterday to the town centre and got her a beautiful (!) witch costume.

I did some research on Halloween to see why it is being celebrated and to tell my daughter some stories about Halloween. Here is what I found out.

Halloween is celebrated on October 31st which is the eve of All Saints day celebrated on Nov 1st. For some reason Halloween was thought to be the night when ghosts, spirits and witches are very active. It seems in those days people used to disguise themselves by wearing masks so that ghosts would not recognise them. This is also in one way supposed to be a celebration marking the end of the harvest season.

Halloween seems to have originated from Scottish and Irish people and then spread to parts of Europe and US. While Halloween seems to have originally been a function related to superstitions and religious beliefs, over the years I think the stress has shifted more on having fun. From what I could gather, today Halloween is a modern day holiday and seems to be more about costume parties, “trick or treat” for children and an event for the elders to get together.

By the way "Trick-or-treat", is an event for children during Halloween in which they proceed from house to house in costumes, asking for treats such as confectionery with the question, "Trick or treat?" The "trick" part of "trick or treat" is a threat to play a trick on the home owners or their property if no treat is given.

One interesting thing I read is that during Halloween people carve pumpkins and paint scary faces on them to keep the evil spirits away. This is a practice which is followed in India as well though we do it throughout the year and not only on Oct 31st. Isn't is a small world?!

Wednesday, October 29, 2008

A typical Software Project manager

An imagination .. A typical Software Project manager singing about himself in Aalavandhaan style like Kadavul paathi mirugam paathi as imagined by a team member ..

Politics பாதி .. படுத்தல் மீதி
கலந்து செய்த கலவை நான்
இம்சை கொஞ்சம் .. Insecure கொஞ்சம்
புரிந்து கொள்வது கடினம் தான்

கையில் விழுந்து காலில் விழுந்து client ஐ கவர பார்க்கின்றேன்
ஆனால் issue மீது issue வந்து கலங்கி கதற வைக்கிறதே!
Rating குறைத்து வயிற்றில் அடித்து மிரட்டி பார்த்தும் பயனில்லை
கூஜா தூக்கி ஜால்ரா அடித்து காலில் விழுந்தும் பயனில்லை
அருமை client e அருமை client e நாளை project தருவாயா?
Budget குறைத்து வயிற்றில் அடித்து இருக்கும் revenue பரிப்பாயா?

Dr.Kalam on Leadership

I am a great fan of Dr.APJ Abdul Kalam. A man who rose from a humble background to become the missile man of India and then subsequently the President of India. In his tenure as president he opened the gates of Rashtrapathi Bhavan to the public and made it “People’s bhavan”. The only president who tried to connect with people especially the younger generation. In my opinion his strong character came out when he sent back the Office of Profit Bill to the Parliament for reconsideration. He was a different president and was not willing to be just a puppet in the hands of the government.

I came across this video in you tube.

This is an interesting interview with Dr.Kalam. In this video he talks about several things but what stands out are his thoughts on leadership and the narration of his experience with Satish Dhawan in the context of a leader taking responsibility for failure.

Dr.Kalam talks about six traits a leader should possess. They are:

Have a vision
Have the ability to take the unexplored Path
Know how to manage success and more importantly failures
Have Courage to take decisions
Have nobility in management – Transparency in every action
Be in continuous touch with people

For those of you who don’t have the patience to watch a 22 minute video, here is the personal experience that Dr.Kalam narrates in the interview.

This happened when Dr.Kalam was the Mission director for Rohini satellite launch and Dr.Dhawan was the Chairman of ISRO. Rohini Phase 1a was launched in August 1979 and was a big failure. It seems Dr.Dhawan took the press conference in Sriharikota after the launch and took complete responsibility for the failure and said that Kalam’s team was short of technological support which he would provide and that he was confident that his team would come out good in the next attempt.

Rohini 1B was launched subsequently next year in July and was a success. Dr.Dhawan apparently asked Dr.Kalam himself to take the press conference. What an example of leadership? It is very hard to find such great leaders who take the blame when there is a failure and give the credit to their team members when there is success.


I mentioned in one of earlier blogs that my daughter is showing some interest in poetry. She gave me a challenge recently to write a song about cinderella in one of her favourite tunes. I chose the song "Sahana Saral thoovutho" from the tamil movie Sivaji .. Here is how my song goes. My daughter liked it very much and was extremely happy. So this definitely helped me score some points. :-)

Cinderella dreams வந்ததோ
இன்றெல்லாம் நிஜம் ஆனதோ
ஒரு Pumpkin coach ஆனதோ அடடா ..
நாலு எலிகள் குதிரைகள் ஆனதோ
உன்னை palace கொண்டு போனதோ
கனவோ.. நிஜமோ .. Fairy godmother மந்திரமோ..
ஓராயிரம் ஆண்டுகள் சேமித்த காதல் இது ..
உன் Step mother தாண்டியும் சேர்ந்தே வாழும் இது ..

Tuesday, October 28, 2008

A Strange coincidence

There is a famous Shakespeare quote on greatness which goes like "Be not afraid of greatness: some are born great, some achieve greatness, and some have greatness thrust upon 'em." There are many things in life which end up in some places where they were not originally intended to be just by chance ..

I read this interesting article in Wikisource about our national anthem in light of the above. This is apparently a response from Jawaharlal Nehru for a question on the national anthem in Parliament.

I have seen articles else where that our national anthem was actually sung by Tagore in praise of King George V. The counter argument goes that Tagore referred to God, though it seems more appropriate for a King. The above reply from Nehru tells us why Jana gana mana ended up as our national anthem.

Following is the translation of our national anthem in english.

O! Dispenser of India's destiny, thou art the ruler of the minds of all people Thy name rouses the hearts of Punjab, Sindh, Gujarat, the Maratha country,in the Dravida country, Utkala and Bengal; It echoes in the hills of the Vindhyas and Himalayas,it mingles in the rhapsodies of the pure waters of Yamuna and the Ganges. They chant only thy name.They seek only thy auspicious blessings. They sing only the glory of thy victory. The salvation of all people waits in thy hands, O! Dispenser of India's destiny, thou art the ruler of the minds of all peopleVictory to thee, Victory to thee, Victory to thee,Victory, Victory, Victory, Victory to thee!

Isn't it a bit strange that the song which has become a part and parcel of our lives and one that has been asociated with India by people all over the world ended up there only by some coincidence!

Monday, October 27, 2008

Some musings on Life

I was chatting with one of my friends who for some strange reason has "Strange are the ways of life" appended to his id. In a rare moment of inspiration based on this I shared some thoughts on life. This is what I said to him.

"Life is a sly criminal that can make you cry and at the same time have the audacity to laugh at you. It stops laughing only when you learn to laugh back at it."

This came in a flow, don't really know why! Not that I am in a bad situation crying

I was in a circus last week with my daughter. There was an event with horses running around performing tricks. I didn't see the horses but only saw some familiar faces from my workplace running around and a few familiar faces again from my workplace as the ring master. I am sure you will agree that most of the typical managers are ring masters who tame their people and make them run around according to their whims and fancies. When someone is different and he doesn't fall in line he is whipped.

In one way even life is a ring master. It conditions you and makes you run around ..

What is your opinion about life?

Saturday, October 25, 2008

The Aftermath of Sudoku - Better be odd

As I said in my earlier post, I have numbers dazzling around in my head courtesy my new addiction to Sudoku. I just found something odd about numbers in nature or maybe I should say something about odd numbers and nature!

When you talk about a group of things that have come naturally they are always odd numbers. Be it the Seven hills of Tirupathi or the Triveni Sangamam at Allahabad or the confluence of three oceans at Kanyakumari. I have a limited knowledge of geography but I am sure there must be more such instances but I have never heard of even numbers in such cases.

The fantasy for odd numbers is not restricted to nature and is evident when it comes to man made things as well. Be it the Seven wonders or Seven sisters, or in stories “Seven dwarfs” in the Snow white story or the Three muskiteers. If you have read Enid Blyton you must be familiar with The famous Five and Secret seven.

I wanted to mention of the Trinity of Hinduism as well here but I was not sure if I should call it natural or man made.

What is the reason for this fantasy for odd numbers? If they are so popular and commonly used then why are they called odd? Are they popular because once they were branded odd? Is there a hidden message here that you have to be odd to become popular?

What do you think?

The magic of Sudoku

I have been resisting the temptation of Sudoku for a couple of years now. I finally gave in last week. I saw a book on sale for a few pence and it remained so for a few weeks. So I finally decided to see what Sudoku has to offer.

Believe me I have numbers dazzling around in my head as my write. I have solved several Sudoku puzzles over the week and I am qualified to call myself a Sudoku addict now. What appeals to me is the simplicity of the game and its straightforward rules. It is all about permutations and combinations and doesn’t need any mathematical genius. Above all I get it free on the London paper and it is a great companion for the one hour train journey which I do very often!

Contrary to what I thought, the book I bought claims that Sudoku originated in the US and it became a big hit in Japan subsequently. I have read else where that Sudoku originated in Japan because of the limitations of the Japanese language when it comes to crossword puzzles.

What is your experience with Sudoku?

Friday, October 24, 2008

The Festival of lights is here again

The festival of lights is here again. Diwali ..

Is it the celebration of the victory of good over evil, Krishna killing Narakasura, as the story goes in the south? Or is it the celebration of return of the good, Rama coming back to his Kingdom after exile, as the story goes in the North?

Whatever it is, Diwali to me brings back fond memories of my mom. I must admit that the festival of colours has lost some colour as far as I am concerned for the last 4 years without her.

The love and affection in my mom’s eyes as she applied oil on my head in preparation for an oil bath .. The happiness with which she prepared all the sweets and delicacies I liked .. Those lovely moments when she handed me a sweet or asked me to burst crackers.. The glow and appreciation in her face when she saw me in a new dress .. That was Diwali for me for many years and is still fresh in my memory.

Today Diwali makes me look forward to only the trip with my daughter to the cracker shop and bursting the crackers thereafter. It is a pleasure to watch her eyes gleam when I buy her all the crackers that she wants. I think I will miss it this time being away from India.

What does Diwali mean to you?

Wish you a very happy and prosperous Diwali.