Random thoughts

Even my worst critic would agree that I travel fairly regularly.
Anything that moves.
The crowds that engulf me are families, kids, matronly aunts and jolly uncles, late 40s trudging along their arcs of life, and the omnipresent 20 some things. Dedicated. Focused.
The chatter goes on around me.
Someone is calling home.
Telling bye bye or hello to their mates, loved ones.
Business men on their bijnesh calls.
Additionally always there are office calls. More like calls from office. Or to office colleagues.
And these are always about :
Status updates
And that one single messaging :
– I’ll dial in tomorrow for the client call
– yep send me an email. I’m carrying my laptop.
These guys and girls. They are not in management roles. Not people who carry around office blackberries.
But they always carry their laptops home.
I’m one of them.
So are we ever really on leave?
Will someone die if I don’t log in tomorrow?
Why should the business be impacted by one person going on leave?
That’s ridiculous.
And that’s the reality.

What the Analyst!!

Recently, I got my first opportunity to contribute to another blog. I was expected to write on a non-technical topic for a blog which is run by one of the most technical person I know of. So here’s what I wrote. Original Post from The CyberPlus Blog is here. Visit the blog for some fantastic stuff.

For the first 21 years of life, I only knew the term ‘programming’. It had a mystic quality to it, the whole idea that everything and anything you saw around you could be programmed. Now, programming could be analogous/hardware based, or digital/software based. A simple example could be how your fan is programmed to rotate at higher speeds as the regulator is turned upwards, versus how your latest TV is programmed to switch channels when you press the swap or back button on your remote, retrieving data from its flash memory about which was the previous channel. I had understood this much by the time I turned 21. And I had learnt a few lines of BASIC programming, heard of FORTRAN & COBOL, of the ubiquitous C, and the scary JAVA. But that was the limit of my information on programming, and that’s where I intended to keep it.
Then, one day, I joined a bioinformatics PG Diploma course. Based on the information I heard from the faculty about the course, I was confident that I could survive by doing minimal programming, and by making sure my grades were good enough in the biology side. I didn’t have anything against programming, but somehow didn’t see myself writing code for a living.
As I progressed through the toughest year of my life, I slowly realized I liked writing code. But the fun I had was not in the code itself, not in making it efficient and perfect. Rather what kept me invested in my programs was the idea of the problem, and that it needed solving, and there could be multiple ways to solve it, and there could be one most efficient & perfect way to solve the problem. But being the lazy person I am, I never probably got to the point of coming up with that ultimate coded solution to any problem.
Then, when time came for me to take up a job, I was recruited in a Multinational Pharmaceutical giant, for a programming position. Over the last 5 years, I have held positions of increasing responsibility in the organization. And as is true with most of these big companies, change is a constant. I went from being called an Analyst, then a Programmer, and back to being an Analyst again. And finally, now that I ponder of my future and next steps in my career, I realize that programming doesn’t necessarily make you a programmer. It is also a tool that will ensure that you can be an Analyst.
What’s an Analyst you ask? Maybe you need to watch from F.R.I.E.N.D.S! System Analyst, Software Analyst, Analyst, Statistical Analyst, Financial Analyst, you can find these terms everywhere, in every company. An Analyst, simply put, is a person who decodes the data held in a database to come up with a solution, or a proposal for a solution. This is based on the data available, and sometimes on the data projected, and is enabled by the programming the Analyst is able to do to retrieve this data and transform it into information. And a solution is what we need, what we want. It’s a pretty cool job title, and a pretty important responsibility in this world of increasing data dependency. The directions taken by the people who drive our society are information driven, and as an Analyst, you are in the thick of providing this information.
And hence, a small request to all my Analyst brothers and sisters out there. Try to write bug-free codes please.

Royal Notes – My thoughts about Queen.

The midnight Phone Call.. Tring Tring….

The incessant ringing of the landline woke up the mother in the dead of the night. The daughter at the other end of the ISD call asked her, “hing ko english me kya kehte hai?”. The Rajouri street dogs outside kept barking away to glory. Probably they knew the answer. 

This was one of those slice-of-life moments that you get to experience with Queen, or Rani from Rajouri, India. Many more light scenes like these will keep you either laughing out loud, or smiling that slight smiling remembering the time when you did something similar.

The story of Rani takes us from the very real life of Delhi, with its numbu-pani and aloo-pakode stalls, to the bustling streets of Paris (Parieiiieeieiieieieiie ….. if you want to  say it like one of the Parisians ), all the way to Amsterdam, with its boats, booze and b**bs, and then back to Delhi where she finally finds her freedom.

A beautiful film all the way through, Queen can boast of a fantastic soundtrack by Amit Trivedi who continues to mesmerize with his music, and this time even decided to sing some. Of course some songs took me back to Udaan. Listen to the full songs on youtube, and let me get you started here. The camera work and edits are crisp, though during a few scenes I would have liked a little more clarity of what was going on. The scene when the friends leave a piece of their soul on the Backpacker’s Hostel wall would be one such. Though we can guess that Rani puts her wedding invite on the wall, I personally would have liked to see it more clearly. But that’s how the Director wants to push this film through I guess, sometimes in your face, and sometimes very subtle. For more reviews and spoilers, there are too many websites out there. Go look them up on the internet, or as its called in today’s tongue, Google them! I have just 3 things to say.
  1. Kangana proves her mettle with this role. As expected in all her films, she has the booze on her side, but just for a few minutes thankfully. She is raw & vulnerable as always, but also has those moments when her inner strength boils up to the surface, resulting in a scene soon when we see he smiling. And man, that’s a pretty face. Hoping, just hoping, that Queen is a beginning of a journey, and not just a blimp in the talent Radar that fades within a moment.
  2. Olexander, or Sikandar, well I hope both of you don’t show up in a sequel. Bollywood and Sequels don’t make good bed-buddies.
  3. Rajkumar Yadav/Rao – Boss, you nailed it. The bursts of english, the sense of achievement and ownership, and the sense of helplessness of failing to find your missing bride, well, as I said, you nailed it, Bro.
Go watch it if you haven’t yet. What are you, living under a rock?
Don’t know where and how? Here, Einstein! This should be helpful.

And remember the biggest lesson from the film. Save for your honeymoon, starting now. Only then can you afford a fancy one. Unless you are smart and marry someone overflowing with cash.

These were not the people you just read about!  These are some Hyppie type firangs 🙂
1. I have been getting fleeting glimpses in my head about another film, somehow related to this one. And finally it surfaced. Mahanagar, a 1963 Bengali film by Satyajit Ray, had a female protagonist with a similar steely determination.
2. The songs. These 2 have intertwined in my head somehow. 
From Queen:
From Udaan:

The Ship – filled with meaning!

Sugababes, one of the most successful all-female British bands of the 21st century, were formed in 1998. But one by one they left, till by September 2009 none of the founders remained in the band; each had been replaced by another member, just like the planks of Theseus’s boat.”
– Sam Jacob, Writing for ArtReview [source-Wikipedia]

This film, with 3 protagonists going about their lives in search of meaning, starts of on a idea which is a philosophical question version of the above paragraph. Filmed in a languid pace, sometimes focusing on blank landscapes, the imagery itself evokes a sense of peace, and of purpose.
Sample this:
-“A group of jain monks are seen walking through a landscape filled with windmills, the turning fans and their shadows reminding us of how time flies by. There are no sentences spoken here. We know one of the monks is ailing, maybe walking towards his own death. And the shadows of the Kal-chakra pass over his head.”
-“The sound of wind, a birds-eye view of a grassland, ruffled by the blowing wind. No characters in sight”
-“A valley. somewhere in the himalayas, a mountain stream gurgling through, a wooden bridge”

The actors perform their parts marvelously. The monk, transforming from a lean, yet healthy man – to a man on his deathbed, fasting, ridden with bedsores, and yet a steely determination in his eyes. The young stock-market player, with his empathizing selflessness. A admirable bewilderment and joy from the photographer who regains her vision. A supporting cast who fit into the puzzle marvelously. The banter between the monk and the lawyer, in the second story, bewildering, logical, funny. The daily laborer, once shell-shocked from the loss of his Kidney, and at the other time, joyous from a future filled with hope. The lovely fight in the kitchen about creativity, and our own vision of it.

The circumstances under which the paths of the protagonists cross is believable, and seems like an organic growth of the complete film.
Life of Pi left me with a lot of questions. Even now it creates discussions in our group of friends. It was splendidly made. This film, maybe doesn’t spellbind you with magical effect. But it does so with its completeness of though.
Slow, and yet crisp, a must watch “Ship of Theseus”.

Glad I watched in on the big screen.