Know Everything!

stock-vector-jack-king-queen-of-spades-vector-28951519When I was doing my undergraduate I was used to be regularly questioned by my friends on my interests in information technologies being a Chemical Engineer. I used to reply back stating that I am trying to find a link between the two. Though at that time my interests were not really based on what I claimed, I found my job requiring skills in both the areas and hence helping me perform better.

Today I find knowledge of ‘finance’, ‘history’, ‘psychology’ and ‘economics’ are essential to move up. Many technical people want to stay focused in their areas of interest which are mostly very narrow and expect to gain expertise in that field. But the whole idea can be challenged. Lack of knowledge in subject areas which seem totally unrelated can be a hurdle to professional growth even on technical areas of focus.

Knowledge of ‘history’ and ‘culture’ is very important to understand why your counterpart in an overseas affiliate behaves differently, knowledge of ‘finance’ is very essential to understand why and how top management decisions are made, knowing ‘psychology’ can help handle your sub ordinates better. Applying technical judgments in business world will fail miserably. Many technical people feel decisions are forced upon them because they fail to understand business needs and in a globalized environment they feel deserted when they fail to understand the history, culture and psychology of their colleagues.

Even technically many people want to ‘focus’ their expertise only on certain technical areas. Either they consider other areas not as challenging as their areas of expertise or they feel even their focus area is too much for their lifetime. And even to reason this behavior, knowledge of Indian culture and psychology is important. In Indian society ‘engineering’ enjoys higher status as compared to basic sciences, literature… And if you apply some ‘statistics’ you will find that this is purely linked to the higher average pay engineering graduates enjoy. Whether the JOBS really do any ‘engineering’ is a BIG QUESTION! I personally felt science more challenging and difficult than engineering. And today when I read the ‘history’ of ‘science’ itself it is difficult to make judgments on the validity of engineering we are doing now which are again based on science.

From childhood this idea has been drummed into us again and again: stay focused, jack of all trade makes king of none etc.. It might be true if our objectives are broader considering our lifespan on earth. Pathetically these objectives are too narrow or too ‘technical’ that it prevents achieve these objectives. Most of the seemingly unrelated subjects are highly correlated and technologies have very small lifespan. Hence to be successful it is essential to ‘KNOW EVRYTHING’

Note: The word ‘technical’ is not used with the right meaning in this blog. Even I was stamped non-technical by few people. To them technical is IT and rest of the world is non-technical 🙂

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The Power of ‘Charm’

“But charm is more valuable than beauty. You can resist beauty, but you can’t resist charm.” – Irene (Hors De Prix)

Very powerful is ‘charm’ that it tends to bias people against rational decisions. Throughout history men who were charming got more public recognition and rewards than men who really performed. And charm is not beauty, only charm can make popular a person as weird as Einstein. Though Niels Bohr had more results to his credit, he is no way near Einstein in popularity. Successes of many such people including Rajinikanth  (Tamil Actor) cannot be attributed to anything but charm.

This irrational bias can be attributed to the Theory of Thin Slices as explained by Malcolm Gladwell in his book ‘Blink: The Power of Thinking without Thinking’. In his book he claims most of the decisions taken by humans are in the time period of ‘Blink of an Eye’ without applying conscious judgment. This sort of decisions he claims tend to be more successful than conscious decisions except for cases where people fall to ‘charm’.

Though every human claims that at the conscious level they treat all equally, there exists an implicit bias that tend to provide unconscious favor to people who are more charming.

‘Charm’ provides an advantage in cases where decisions are to be made in short span of time. That is why the leaders who are selected to represent political parties for President or Prime Minister are the not the ones who are really capable political administrators. They are the ones who the people find ‘Charming’ enough to vote.

How many times we have heard of, seen to ourselves, people getting selected in interviews may not be as good as their competitors. I feel the ‘Charm’ effect provides this advantage. However the beneficiary has to be beware, while ‘Charm’ can help getting through and interview only performance in the long term will help sustainability.

‘Charm’ is definitely powerful.

Note: The Book ‘Blink: The Power of Thinking without Thinking by Malcolm Gladwell’ does not make any references to ‘Charm’ and is not a reference to view points mentioned in this blog. The ideas mentioned in this blog are purely my views and inferences made from other sources such as this book. No proper research has been done by the author and no claim has been made for the correctness of views mentioned above.

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India’s gateway to Internet

During a casual discussion with friends I was imagining how Governments are able to block web content. During my visits to countries abroad I was frequented by government notifications stating the site visited is banned (worse was that even Google apps was banned), but not such a single website was showing such notification in India. Curious to know I googled it to find such ones.

Indeed Government of India has its own short list of banned sites with its 13th July 2006 circular.

  1. http://www.soniamaino.com/ not working since Aug 25, 2006
  2. http://www.hinduunity.org
  3. http://mypetjawa.mu.nu
  4. http://pajamaeditors.blogspot.com
  5. http://exposingtheleft.blogspot.com
  6. http://thepiratescove.us
  7. http://commonfolkcommonsense.blogspot.com
  8. http://bamapachyderm.com
  9. http://princesskimberley.blogspot.com
  10. http://merrimusings.typepad.com
  11. http://mackers-world.com
  12. http://www.dalitstan.org
  13. http://hinduhumanrights.org/hindufocus.html
  14. http://nndh.com http://bloodroyaltriped.com
  15. http://imagessearchyahoo.com (should probably be http://image.search.yahoo.com)
  16. http://imamali8.com
  17. http://rahulyadav.com

These websites could not be accessed but however no notifications came up. The following message came up on a chrome browser.

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It seems the system of blocking is not without loop holes. The cached copy of page from Google gives latest updates of the website. One such blog with banned in India can be seen below.

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I was also curious to know how internet is brought to India and how many gateways the Government should control to censor web content. While I imagined several gateways there are only  eight gateways (called landing stations) that connects India to the world of internet.

  

  1. SMW3w : Stands for  South East Asia – Middle East – Western Europe this cable connects Western Europe, Middle East and South east Asia. There are a total of 39 landing points through the cable’s journey and it touches India at Mumbai first and connects the rest of Asia through Cochin. The landing station in Mumbai is owned by VSNL/Tata.
  2. SMW4 : Stands for South East Asia – Middle East – Western Europe, this cable connects Western Europe, Middle East and South east Asia. It has around 17 landing points and touches India in Mumbai and Chennai. Landing station in Mumbai is owned by VSNL/Tata and landing station in Chennai is owned by Bharti Airtel.
  3. SAFE : South Africa Far East Cable. This cable comes from Melkbossstrand in South Africa, linking Durban, Mauritius on the way to Cochin, India. Landing station in Cochin is owned by VSNL/Tata.
  4. FLAG : Stands for Fiber Optic Link Around the Globe. This cable runs through the Suez canal connecting middle east and touches India at Mumbai. The cable network is owned by FLAG Telecom which is bought by Reliance and is now a Reliance company. The landing station in Mumbai is owned by VSNL/Tata. From Mumbai the cable goes to  south east Asia.
  5. i2i : Airtel SIngtel joint venture company is responsible for this 3100 km long cable from Singapore to Chennai. The landing station is in Chennai. From Singapore it will connect to SEA-ME-WE 3 and APCN 2.
  6. TIC : Following the same route as i2i, TIC stands for  Tata Indicom India Singapore Cable. It  connects Chennai and Singapore. TIC is owned by VSNL with the landing station in Chennai. In Singapore the landing station is in Changi.  The cable is 3175 km long.
  7. Falcon : Europe-Middle East- India cable with landing station in Mumbai. The cable and the landing station is owned by Reliance.
  8. Indo-Sri Lanka Cable : Landing station is owned by BSNL and this cable connects Tuticorin and Colombo, Sri Lanka.

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and finally some stats

Note: The contents of this article are from various web sources. I have not done any research to verify the correctness of the information presented.

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The Meru Cabs Supply Chain – How They Operate

On a drive to airport with Meru cabs I enquired the cab driver how Meru Cabs operated. To licensed drivers Meru Cabs provides cars @ Rs. 900/day (Bangalore) exclusive of diesel charges and maintenance. This fee is to be provided by the driver to Meru irrespective of number of transactions he makes in a day. The maintenance costs as and when they occur is shared equally between Meru and the drivers. When request is placed for a booking via phone the address is recorded and hence need not mention address for pick up point every time. They can trace the address from the phone number. 30 – 45 mins before the scheduled pickup a group of cab drivers are intimated of the opportunity via the display screens fitted in the cab and they can confirm it by pressing when they are available (15 mins, 30 mins ..) for pickup at the spot mentioned. Once the confirmation is received the first one or the earlier one will be confirmed for pickup and the exact detailed address will be provided.

The message is then sent to the passenger on details of cab and cab driver number. The cab drivers are lucky enough if they can make more than Rs. 2500 in a day. My next question to him was that he could easily make it if he can make two, three trips to airport alone. But it looks like they get only one airport opportunity in a day. I also enquired why Meru always slips away with unjustified reasons for bookings to Railway Station. It seems like due to earlier problems entering Railway Station at Majestic they made it a policy not to take booking to Railway Stations, even to cantonment railway station.

900 such taxi’s are operating in Bangalore under Meru. In Delhi the count is 700 and the rate per day is Rs. 700 planned to be increased to Rs. 800 next month.

Note: The details provided above are based on narrations from Cab drivers and is not my views or do not authenticate any information regarding Meru Cabs.

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Chinese Vegetarian

My first visit to China was short and all I could risk to enjoy local experience was to take the local train instead of an boring taxi. I wrote down the hotel address “Hotel Regent, 99 Jinbao Street, Dongcheng District, Beijing 100005, China” on a piece of paper and started from office along with my colleagues to the hotel. Ignoring warnings of my colleagues I dared to take the subway and got down at WangFuJing station. It was only then I realized I am in a real foreign country. Nobody was able to read the address from the slip of paper, neither they were able to identify the hotel name. And thanks to one gentleman who showed me the wrong direction. I almost walked two kilometers in the wrong direction when one European victim trying to locate his hotel helped me with the right direction. I managed the visit with continental and Indian vegetarian food so I didn’t have a feel of Chinese food.

It was during my second visit I ventured Chinese recipes. My Indian colleagues always warned me taking Chinese food worrying it might not be vegetarian and may not suit my appetite. But curiosity didn’t leave me. My Chinese colleagues took me to restaurants and helped me find the best vegetarian dishes. I was surprised to see them explain the restaurant personnel for at least ten minutes each time they order for me.  I could member only a lots ‘bu sha’s’. Curious I asked them what these ‘bu cha’s’ are. It is a form of ‘no’ and they were ordering something with ‘no meat’, ‘no fish’, ‘no sea food’, ‘no egg’, ‘no pork’ etc… I wondered if there is no single word for vegetarian. True, if they forget any of the bu sha’s you can expect the left outs to be there in your recipe. But it is really worth it, I should say chinese vegetarian is really that good. For Indians, Chinese vegetarian would be a surprise in China as all that we get in India named as Chinese is only Indian.

The tempting Chinese dishes forced me to try them myself even when my colleagues are not there around me. One weekend in the Hotel I stayed (this hotel was Chinese) I ordered fried rice that was supposed to be vegetarian as explained in the menu. When it was served I was surprised to see egg along with it. So explained her bu sha mutton, bu sha chicken, bu sha egg, bu sha seafood, bu sha fish. The item was brought back with pork in it. Oops! I forgot the bu cha pork. I explained her again and she asked me ‘like goat?’. No! I screamed, bu sha goat (mutton?). A few seconds later I recognized that she was mentioning me as goat for eating only the greeny stuff.

Next time in a restaurant I explained all the bu sha’s without fail only to receive a reply ‘bu sha food. Get out!’. They are quite sentimental about food. I still wanted to try. I carried a pocket dictionary with me which had the Chinese word for vegetarian. Guess what! no body could understand what it really meant even in Chinese. Now I understood why it was hard for my colleagues to explain vegetarian food.

Chinese McDonalds, Pizza Hut and KFC do not have vegetarian meals. I have to manage with fries and fruits pies. However surprisingly Domino’s has a all vegetarian pizza (http://www.dominos.com.cn/english/pizza/pizza.asp# Look for Tomato Vegetable) . He looked surprised at me and mentioned that I was the first to order that particular pizza in his experience. I don’t know how long he was working at Dominos but it’s a comment worth mentioning.

The best of all Chinese dishes in the ‘Gan Bian Dou Jiao’ (Green beans fried with ample dried red chilli). Spicy and lip smacking it was a part of my every order. Next on the list would be sauted mushrooms, stir fired vegetables and the pumpkin cake.  But beware! if you forget the bu sha’s you can expect some pork sprinkled on the dishes!

Chinese Vegetarian in an real experience! You cannot buy it, you have to earn it!

Note: People travelling to Beijing need not worry as there are some few Indian restaurants that serve good north Indian food (veg & non-veg). The Taj Pavilion at China World Trade Center is a good one.

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