The GrandFather I Knew (not)

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I stay in a joint family. And it’s kind of funny, because my Dad’s elder sister is as old as my mum’s mother. So basically, my Aunt is somewhere my Grandma’s age. Which made my Grandma, my Great Grandma’s age. And my Grandfather… Well you get the point.

Due to this massive age difference ( of 72 years between him and me), I got to know him as a person that the rest of the world didn’t. And didn’t get to know the man he was, till I was told stories about him by others. Added to that, I returned to Agra, only in 1996, and he was 80.

It was like the life he lived with me and the life he lived before I met him were two different lives. I never knew the weightlifter, tennis player, genius statistician or the economist in him while he lived. But I definitely knew the honour bound, simple living, high thinking embodiment of intelligence. Somehow his training me with handling money cries out loud that the economist in him had taken sanyas, but he taught me what few others would venture to teach (at least with their own money to burn) – how to spend money. He taught me, how money was the best servant but the worst master. He taught me how to spend money not on myself, but on others. He taught me how to loan out only as much as I can afford to give away, because money feuds can cause the best of relationships to thaw. And he taught me the value of relations. The value of family. The value of people.

A simple man, whose only expenditure on himself was a white dhoti every quarter, and perhaps a new shirt. Everything else he spent on his family. Which at that time mostly comprised of his grandchildren. I wouldn’t be wrong to say that I was pampered to a fault. In grade 3, I had a daily pocket money of Rs. 50, which had to be spent, and I could not spend it on my clothes, shoes or the likes. (Those I would get anyway). When I couldn’t think where or how to spend it, I spent it on others. And that is how I learnt the joys of sharing is priceless. To be able to spend on others is one habit that I owe to him.

Babu was someone who believed that SHE is the key to the betterment of the society, enabling socio-economic growth as a whole – Sports, HealthCare and Education. That today has become the core of the work that I’d like to do. He taught me never to be afraid of pursuing your dreams, because he said, that each human comes with a great potential into this world, and the problem is that they try and reinvent the wheel for the benefit of what others would think. He said, that even if you’d do something perfectly, there would be someone who’d find a fault with it. If only we’d spend more time in not conforming ourselves to what is the tried and tested path, and tread on the road untrodden, we’d realize that there is a lot more that can be done and achieved when the mind is truly unlocked, unshackled and set free.

They say that an educated person is one who can entertain a notion without having to support it. Babu was a traditional conservationist – to the tune of everyone telling my mother’s family that she’d been married into one of the most conservative families that there could ever be. But, the beauty of the mind of an educationalist was that he never forced his choices on others, and accepted that each and every one of us is entitled to make our own choices. On the contrary, he used to show signs of pleasure when I’d challenge his argument, and if I was able to prove his hypothesis incorrect, or mine better, he’d happily accept it – something that I am still trying to get myself to do. There were many a times when I’d go to him with a problem, and though he’d advise me, he would always want me to solve it myself. If I failed, he’d pick me up, tell me to dust myself, and ask me to understand the reason for failure. He was a supporter, immaterial of failure or success. He’d quote Einstein and say that one who hasn’t failed hasn’t ever tried anything new. Success gives name, failure wisdom.

It’s been 10 years since he’s left us, and in those ten years I have learnt, travelled and understood the world (or so I’d like to think). What changed is that the words that he’d spoken to me in those hours I spent discussing random things, started making sense, and I could sense the timeless wisdom in what he’d said. And I saw a plan emerge – he had made sure that I was well fed and watered, that I did not have to be forced to do something because I had to do it – I could choose to do what I wanted. And I believe that he’d have wanted me to give back to the society and work for its welfare. That idea gave birth to twins – Tathastu and Crussle – one for HER (HealthCare, Education and Rural Welfare), and the other a platform to bring together the various people who’d like to give back, and enabling a cross-platform (socio-economic growth platforms, and not the computer related iOS and Android ones), to leverage each other’s expertise. The time has come for me to do my bit in trying to make a difference and spoiling the Parity Party that our country is hosting. Because to grow, we need to make an effort. There are dreams out there lurking in the minds of men and women without the means, our job is to help them realize those dreams. And believe it or not, this has happened because of the vision and dreams of Dr. Jagdish Chandra Chaturvedi – who taught me all he could, and had confidence in what he sowed in me, shall ripen one day. It was a theoretical hypothesis, which now is being practically demonstrated – I am the unaware traveler who happened to stumble upon his unwritten book, and now is leafing through the chapters, learning as I progress – slowly but steadily.

Addiction

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A few years ago, I fell quite ill. So ill that I had to be heavily medicated. Quite heavily medicated. I was diagnosed with something commonly known in the USA as the “Kissing Disease”. Now while that is common in the US, it is pretty rare in India. So rare that it took 3 blood tests and a professor of pathology to finally figure out what I had.

Now to bring me back to normalcy, the doctors gave me truckloads of antibiotics and what not. With each passing week, the dosages decreased, and once I was as fit as the rest of the people (back to normal), the drugs were tapered off completely.

Anyone who might have had fallen extremely unwell, would agree to the basic cycle.

Now, the question you’d be asking is why am I telling you about medication? Well, the thing is, that in life there are temporary boosts/supports that are given to enable someone to bring themselves upto a certain level – be it of physical fitness, or mental ability.

Remember as kids, when we learnt how to ride bicycles (for those who did ride them), we had something called the support wheels. We could screw these wheels onto the bike, and not fall off when we lost balance. As we got better, we removed the wheels and learnt how to ride without them.

What would happen if we never removed them? – We would never learn to ride a bike. We would always be dependent on the safety that they provided, and never quite manage to ride up straight. We would continue to rely on them. Similarly, if we don’t taper off from a drug, it becomes an necessity rather than a temporary means to bring our fitness back on track. I becomes an addiction.

In 1947, we gained Independence, and some intelligent people realized that a few of us are opressed when it comes to education. They came up with a fast fix of reserving a few seats in the colleges and jobs for those opressed classes. In theory, I agree to the idea. But today, it’s been 67 Years since we gained Independence, and the reservations instead of being being done away with, are increasing.

Reservations threaten to become an addiction to the people, a dependency without which they would fail to function. Or would they? Today, the socio-economic status has bent more towards an economic divide rather than a caste-divide. I’m proud to say that people from all castes, creed and religion are treated equally when it comes to primary education (that is the basic K-12). What matters today is whether you have the money to pay for your education or not.

If we’ve not been able to do away with the caste based reservation till today, then we’ve been doing something wrong. It was a temporary fix to bring everyone on the same platform, not make it a crutch to be used for eternity. We, as a nation, need to rethink our policies.  If in 67 years we have been using this as a tool to NOT build the school education system, then I believe that we should be forced to live without the comfort of this zone, so that we finally bring about a change in the government backed K-12 education. On one hand we say we should all be treated equally, but on the other hand, if two students from the same school apply for the same seat in the same college, but are from different reservation categories, they have different cut offs. I, was lucky enough to study in a school sans reservation, and a college where the reservation did not affect the seats. And that perhaps is the reason why I till date don’t know the caste and creed of my fellow colleagues, and nor do I care about it. But people who are affected by reservation do.

Caste or creed or colour or religion don’t define intelligence or merit. We all are as intelligent or as stupid as everyone else. We are all as capable as the person next to us. Please stop this dependence before it becomes an addiction and the society is thrown into chaos and decadency.

Maglove – Of magazines and authors.

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Today my colleague and me were discussing the whole notion of MagLove. MagLove is not something to do with Magnetism, but rather with Magazines. There are a few Magazines that we swear by, have referred to whenever we needed a clarification, quoted the authors who’ve written in those magazines in those heated discussions as if it were the final word. Most of us who read magazines have sometime or the other experienced MagLove.

Which brings me to my next point – why? Now, as always, this is a blog in which I express my personal opinions, and in no way are to be assumed to be a generalization. The reason that I believe that we as readers love some Magazines/Authors more than the others is beacause we understand their analogies, their methodology of explanation, their curation of those bland facts and figures, their view on the things that we care about.

For example, I love Rishad Cooper’s takes on Bikes, and Osueph Chako’s take on Cars – which sort of reveals that I read Autocar regularly. I also love the writeups by Jeremy Clarkson, James May and Richard Hammond – and that’s the reason why I buy Top Gear. Also, Hormazd Sorabjee does a brilliant work of curating the perfect experience for me when it comes to cars – he gives us those all important cars that normal people can buy, as well as gives us something to drool about so that we can continue to dream big.

It’s something similar to what my dad does while watching cricket matches – he, for quite sometime, used to keep one of those AM radios that would broadcast the hindi commentry – it sort of completed the experience. Likewise, driving a car, experiencing a gadget, reading a science fact on wikipedia is one thing, but to have someone you trust, and have come to respect, write good things about it, is another. It is one of the major reasons that quite a few of the “Our Choice” Cars from Autocar have ended up in our garage (with a few exceptions – every once in a while we do have a difference of opinion). It also has a flipside, the responsibility is immense. On the author that is. Their review/article has the potential to sway quite a few decisions one way or the other, and thus the onus of the responsibility to write a review sans bias becomes all the more important. This does not mean that their article should be without emotion. We want them to sway one way or the other, and not tread the middle path (unless absolutely necessary), but we don’t want them to allow previous biases to affect their decisions.

This, my friends, is a very hard job, and I must commend all those authors punching away on their keyboards on their brilliant work, and the editors who burn the midnight oil to make sure the articles are legally sound, but without losing their soul. In today’s world of suing and cross-suing, that job, in my opinion, is as hard as churning out a good article if not harder.

I would like to take this opportunity to thank some of my favourite MagWriters, and their editors – especially Wired, Stuff (India), Top Gear, Autocar, The Economist (supremely crisp but a heavy read) and of course my new favourite BBC Knowledge India. I must really thank Preeti Singh for curating an experience that is absolutely brilliant (and the authors do a good job of keeping the articles interesting).

Hoping to become a loyalist of a few more magazines in the future.

Love Passion Karma – and a Firey encounter

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Tuhin from #BruteForce was smashing the set inside LPK – Dropping Bass like never before, and there was a certain lady who was single-handedly smashing a set of unruly guys outside. What exactly happened is something I don’t know, but when Jaskaran (who’d disappeared to get a beer) did not turn up for quitesometime, I gathered something must’ve happened to keep him from the amazing tunes that Tuhin was churning out. I somehow tore myself away, from the music, and hauled myself out.

What I saw was the certain lady I mentioned, fending off 8 guys who’d tried some hanky panky with another girl. The lady was none other than @MissMuttoo (or Ambika Muttoo for the non twitterati). Jaskaran had reached there by then, and there was Shane from Brute Force too, but despite the three guys (Shane, Jas and me) – Ambika was more than holding fort – she was whupping their arses and made sure they got escorted out of the premises (Brute Force right there). (I support what she did, and to a certain extent this incident led to another article – http://siddharthac.wordpress.com/2013/03/18/the-lost-ethos/ – so thanks Ambika ).

After picking up the drinks from the bar, we went inside again, and asked Jas why on earth would he need alcohol when the music there was enough to get us high. (I saved on my beer money thanks to the music, seriously – I was high on life right there). When we did enter the main area, which was difficult due to the massive number of people there – seemed like the party had carried on from the beach, and here flashing our CREW bands didn’t help – drat! – we saw that Tuhin had made way for Pearl and J00F. Now I have heard Pearl ever since I was a kid – there used to be a time when you could download a track from her website – I didn’t know what genre it was – but I loved it. I have her J00F sessions CD that keeps playing in my car (Thanks Jas for that). So to see her live and up close (I sort of was working while she was at Helios), was amazing. I know she brought Miami down during the ultrabook launch (when I was in Pune), but this was her and J00F together, and it was magic. They literally made the music flow out of them which hit you, and it’s the time when the mind shuts off and the heart takes over, to make your body move by itself – (seriously Jas, you didn’t need that beer).

All of a sudden Nik came took the mic and announced that John 00 Fleming has something special for us. I mean what can be more special than 3 days of amazing music day and night, some of the best artists performing on the sandy beaches of Goa, followed by crazier parties by the night – but if there is one thing about Nik, it is that he never lets you down; if he says it’s special, it is.

J00F whipped a track out of his bag and it really was some thing. What do Pandit Jawahar Lal Nehru and EDM have in common? Nothing you say? – Well prepare to be surprised – J00F gave us a mega mashup EDM version of the famous the stroke of the midnight speech by our first prime minister. It really was the headline of the party. ( you have to listen to it to believe it – http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=f-URCLnUIKc – though I don’t know whether that’s official, so please don’t go around suing me).

Unfortunately, I had to drive the next day back to Pune – early morning at 9, and my friends were dependent on me taking them back (being the teetotaller in the group – I know, it’s crazy, but I was high on life, and music), so I had to leave the party early at 3 AM. I so wish I can see #BruteForce and Pearl and J00F come together again – because they somehow define LPK for me – Love (for music), Passion (for what they do), and Karma (the brilliant things they bring to us). So guys, keep up your LPK, and we’re sure to have a few more magical nights.

PS- it was great meeting you Ambika (if you’re reading this), and I sincerely thank Jas for getting me introduced to you. #FightForWhatsRight :D

Beautiful yet?

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Sid C:

An amusing poem on being “ever-fat” written by a woman…

Originally posted on Thesau.r.us:

You used to think you were pretty
At least you try to tell yourself that
Before your cheeks got pulled for being too chubby
And you were called fat.
You thought yourself to be beautiful,
Oh how silly of you!
You looked again in the mirror
You weren’t pretty it was true.
You could see all your flaws which you never knew you had
The other people were right, you did look bad
First went the confidence then went the charm
You hid yourself under clothes
You hated your arms
But that wasn’t all as we rightly know
Your favourite dish was not favourite anymore
You simply lost your glow.
But all that didn’t matter as now you finally looked thin
A nod of approval from the others
But you stopped being comfortable in your skin.
You know that, but there is no going back
A look in the mirror…

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Sunburnt

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Goa. Probably the closest thing to Vegas in India. Boy oh boy! It was just amazing. But I’m not here to write about the joys of Goa, you would readily find truckloads of data with a single web search, but rather, I am here to talk about my experience of getting Sunburnt in the largest music festival in Asia, and probably one of the largest in the world.

I know this is a little delayed, but then again I was savoring the time of my life that I had there. Followed by some of the most hectic months, till finally I took a break from work.

On the face of it is another music festival, where loads of artists come and perform, and people – as they say – live, love and dance.

But when we peel the layers off, then we realize it is a lot more than just a fest. It is the hardwork, grit and determination of a lot of people that make it possible. And it is massive. I could write truckloads about Sunburn, but then you have an aftermovie that would show you more than I saw there. I just want to tell you about my experience as a member of the team.

It seems like just another event, perhaps like a huge party or something, but in essence it it a massive feat of management – people, time and resources. When you work with a highly creative and skilled team of people, they might not always have the same ideas and perspectives as you – to mitigate the differences, come to conclusions and move forward is a lot harder than it appears. Also, the timelines are razor thin. And the hardware setup freakishly expensive. Let me give you an example – we in IT, have a timeline of 8-10 weeks minimal to prepare for a go-live, with loads of iterations and testing, whereas here all you get is 2 days (and nights) to prepare and setup for a 3 day long festival where thousands of people turn up. There are no iterations, no stage wise plans, just the big bang – and it can go either way.

3 days, in an completely new location, on a beach, where building stages is a helluva task (sand keeps going down! and the stage keeps tilting one way or the other), getting the audio-visual stuff from another city (you can’t pop into the store next door and order a couple of Bass units), setting it up, taking into consideration that majority of the people working there might be unfamiliar with the stuff, with a good chance of them causing a blow out. 3 days of utter chaos, of trying to get everything right, but things never going strictly as per plan. 3 days of thinking on your feet, organizing things dynamically, changing course, detouring, re-routing every moment, hoping it shall be the last time, but expecting it not to be. And till the last moment, it is not. Something or the other seems to happen, something that you haven’t prepared for.

I had the chance to work with some of the best people in the industry. The stage I was given to handle the sound console had some serious talent – the Darkroom team
(Lookup the stage called Cubezoid in Sunburn 2012, and you’ll see what they can do), Modern Sound (some of the best sound equipment out there in India), Vijay Bhai handling the Sound and Lights (literally owns the sound), Sam – one of the best sound engineers you’ll ever see (and perhaps the coolest one I have ever come across), Amit Bhai – who taught me sound, Jaskaran – the eccentric stage manager, Dimple helping us with the hospitality, Ashir – from Red Bull who of course was single-handedly responsible for me being high on Red Bull, Babloo Bhai from Absolut – whose job was to diffuse any tension, and there was a lot of that pre-start and Tara, being the absolutely amazing host for our stage when Nik wasn’t around. And of course Nik.

There are things that money can buy – like equipment, and contracts, and RedBull (albeit buying it is sort of a sore point for Jaskaran and me – we love that drink, but still). And there are somethings that can never be bought – like the passion and dedication and attention to detail.

There was this incident when Nik came up to Vijay Bhai and asked him to run a sound check. Now we were doing sound checks all the while – playing music we loved on the badass sound system we could never own – at a point, we played Punjabi music (something Nik would never allow, so we made sure it happened before he woke up) – but I’m digressing. So we did the sound check, went to random points – one right up to the sound system, one at the back, one in the middle, and a couple on the extremes. And it sounded pretty mighty. Then Nik waltzed in (wearing his trademark red cap) and asked us to run the sound check again. Now this was the first day, and he made us run the longest sound check I know. He literally went to almost every point on the ground, and found that at one point – somewhere around 8 feet diagonally from the sound console – he couldn’t feel the “punch”. I mean it was one point in a half an acre area catered by that stage – but he still found it. And implored Sam and Vijay bhai to fix the same. Sam did some sound software magic that I probably am too lame to understand, and Nik ran the whole goddamn sound check again! This guy is crazy – for music, and he wanted the perfect experience for each and every person, on each and every square inch.

Nik is passionate about music, and probably that’s why despite being quite a good DJ he allows other DJs play the headliners (albeit he rocked the AfterBurn with Albin Myers) – he just wants to spread good noise. And that is one thing I took away from my experience – look at the bigger picture.

He’s passionate about what he does, and though I don’t know what happened to Sunburn and Submerge – I do think that it would be missing that little bit. And #AAA seems to be the place where music lovers, and purists should head to, knowing how much Nik and Pearl love their music, they’re there to share it with you. Because there are somethings money can’t buy – and passion is right up that list.

What will CRM look like in 2015?

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Sid C:

This is why Cloudification and Appification of Legacy Software is necessary. The FB and Twitter era expect more now.

Originally posted on Gigaom:

When I joined Salesforce.com in 2002, the question was, why isn’t enterprise software as easy to use as Amazon.com? That simple idea transformed an industry and gave rise to a $24 billion dollar business. With enterprise cloud computing, the technical barriers to CRM adoption were overcome, providing a clear path to CRM success.

A little more than ten years later, I believe we are on the precipice of another disruptive shift. The question we are asking today is, why aren’t companies able to operate with the same data-driven intelligence as an Amazon? As I see it, there are at least two major obstacles holding us back.

  1. The first obstacle is that CRM databases start empty. When you start your trial there are a couple records of demo data, but really it is up to you to fill it up. Sure there are add-on products where you can pay-per-record to…

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