Thursday, December 30, 2004

Learnings v2004!

I haven't been regular with my blogs lately. Well ... Life was pretty much routine ... 5 days in office and 2 in Pune :) ... the speed of time passing by has never been so much! Before I even realize ... another year in life is gone ...

2004 will definitely be one of the eventful years in my life! If I look at myself just a year ago (well it seems like yesterday) I was a totally different person than what I am today! The year began on a disasterous note for me. I had requested my grandparents to come over to Hyderabad and spend some time with me. Now ... what could have gone wrong with that! But when we were driving towards Ramoji Film City on the outskirts of Hyderabad, my grandmom suffered a massive cardiac arrest. When I took her to the hospital her heart had almost stopped beating. I still remember each and every moment of that day when I was standing outside the Critical Care Unit of Apollo Hospital in Secunderabad. I could not even see my grandmom, all I could see was a set of monitors with a dozen waves and numbers - CONSTANTLY FLUCTUATING!! Everytime there was a spike or a drop I skipped a beat!

That ONE day made me a totally different person. Careless, rash, over-confident and (a bit) arrogant that I was earlier taking everything and everyone for granted, that ONE day made me realize what "RESPONSIBILITY" in life means. I had assured my parents that I take complete responsibility of everything when I flew my grandparents from Pune! So God forbid if something had gone wrong how was I going to be able to face my parents! Forget anyone else how was I even going to face myself! In a flash I could remember that hundreds of occasions when I had taken my grandmom for granted, misbehaved with her! And probably thats why when in the evening the doctors told me that she was out of danger "the (mistakenly) Responsible 23 year old guy" was in tears ... with unfortunately no one to wipe them!

That day I learnt the value of LIFE - its invaluable! I learnt the value of having a shoulder to cry on when you desparately need one! I learnt that nothing in life can be taken for granted! And most importantly I learnt that there was something that was more important than me - LIFE ITSELF!

In this very year I have misunderstood the best of friends I have and relized it the hard way that once said cannot be undone! I learnt that its important to count 10 before you lose your cool!

Work life too was sweet and sour. I had the best and the worst of times of my professional career in 2004! Unexpected promotions and as well as unexpected (and unwanted) organizational changes! I learnt that it is very easy to stay where you are scream that "LIFE IS HELL" ... but then if you want to change things then first thing that changes is you yourself! You take one step from your HELL and you realize "well ... life's not bad!"! Its your perspective, your attitude ... the way you look at things that matters!

A few months ago a friend used to ask me "how's life" practically everyday at lunch. And I used to be surprised when he expected my answer today to be more positive than that yesterday! But now when I look back at the year that was ... I realize 2004 taught me that thats just the way it should be! :)

Wednesday, December 08, 2004

Happy Birthday Amol ...

Yesterday morning I was watching an episode of FRIENDS. For once I paid attention to the title song ... I mean the whole soundtrack!

So no one told you that it was going to be this way ...
Your job's a joke, you're broke, your love life's DOA,
Its like life's always stuck in second gear;
And even if it hasn't been your day, your week, your month or your year ...
but I'll be there for you!!!
When the rain starts to pour ... I'll be there for you
Like I've been there before ... I'll be there for you
'cause you're there for me too!

And since today is the 9th of December ... no candies for guessing whom did it remind me of!

Well ... time just flies by ... it just does. It seems just like yesterday when I joined SP college for my 11th and 12th classes. I hardly knew anyone in my class well when I stepped into my 11th Standard class. Slowly however I started knowing a few people. It was 9th December 1996 when a newly made friend in SP College Amol Palshikar invited me to his place for his Birthday party! And on this day (9th Dec) all these newly made acquaintances came together for the first time to become FRIENDS!

We started of as just a group of 16-17 people who used to come to college together, attend (read bunk) classes together, used to hang out together and peacefully go home! Kids, as we were then, little things like reserving the bench next to you for your friend, trying to get into the same batch of students for practicals, trying and joining the same private tution classes for 12th standard ... were of great importance to us! But still we were 17 distinct people and clashes of opinions, interests were inevitable. Well ... 17 is indeed a large number to be called a mob. Factions were formed and people started dripping out gradually. The 12th standard results, though individually grrrreat, were another bad thing to happen for the group. For engineering, no two people in the group went to the same college, same class! Yet seven of us out of the seventeen stayed together, through thick and thin ... passing this test of time! Amol Palshikar, Adwait "Paatya" Patankar, Bhooshan "Waikar" Dixit, Ajay Joshi, Shantanu Subhedar, Sameer "Samy" Sohani and me! And since we came together in SP college we still call ourselves eSPians!!!

People say that on a sunny day everyone likes to be called your friend, but only those people who stay by you in a stormy night are the ones who matter to you etc. etc. ... friend in need blah blah blah ... Well, we never went by these sayings or others of the same meaning ... we have lived them all these years!! We were, no ... rather, we are really strong individuals with our own opinions and identities and so we do have our share of differences at times. But I guess to create the warmth we share this friction is inevitable ! BUT when we need to be together, we are just perfect ... like lego pieces making up for each other's virtues and vices!

Just to give an example. Amol might be a busy man. We usually blight him a lot saying he has a big attitude. A man of really strong likes and dislikes, its very hard to convince Amol for something! He really infuriates you at times because of his whims and fancies but then you still want him to be involved in everything that you do! He will not agree for any plans easily but when it was my birthday this year, at the end of a long day at work, when Pune roads were flooded with Ganapati mandaps, he still drove all the way from his office in Aundh to my place, just because I said so! Well, thats how we all are! I remember till a few years ago we used to surprise the birthday boy by barging into his house at 12.00 am on his birthday with a cake ... Today I still miss both - the surprising as well as the getting surprised!

Sadly today "grown-ups" as we are ... such surprises are history. So much so that on Amol's birthday today I even cannot be with him ... damn this job! But then I think do I really need to be there physically! Wherever I am in the world ... do I need to say it out loud that "I wish that Amol has many many such Happy Returns of 9th December" and "for many many more years to come we all still remain the same espians that we are for the last so many years!" No!! I dont need to say anything ... its all so tacit ... perrrrfectly understood! After all its been 8 years already and and inspite of life's surprise ups and downs we are still the BEST of what friends can ever be ... and that's something ... that really IS!

We have had the best and the worst times in life, but we had them together! We have done the craziest of things in life just for the heck of it, but again together! We were not only in different colleges, we are in different companies (well not all), different cities, even countries ... yet when required we are still together! And one day we all dream of settling down in Pune and living our lives TOGETHER! I am sure to death that this dream will be reality soon ... really soon!

Well ... today again on Amol's birthday, the seven of us still being INDESPENSIBLE PARTS of EACH other's life ... indeed ... eight years ago no one had told me it was going to be this way!

We all 7 years ago ...

Espians at Paatya's engagement last month!

Thursday, December 02, 2004

5 modes of transport, 15 hours of travel, upmteen amount of patience and a Training that was worth it all ...

Back to my blogs after a long long time now! Life had become boring in the last few weeks, same old hectic routine ... I was too busy but nothing really mentionable happening! But this "unhappening" phase came to a very memorable(!!!) ending this weekend. Well this is going to turn out to be another looooong blog ... but I hope the content deserves the size!

Needless to mention, I was in Pune over the weekend. I had to reach Hyderabad early on Monday morning because I was scheduled to attend a training course by David Soloman on Windows Internals on Monday, Tuesday and yesterday! It was a full-time training and covered the Windows architectural details and its evolution thru 2000, XP and 2003. Listening to David LIVE was indeed a great opportunity and I did not want to miss it at any cost.

So for the return journey I booked a ticket for a Volvo that is run by the Andhra Pradesh Department of Tourism! Being a government vehicle, it is known to be very reliable (surprised?? Dont be ... Talk to Mr. Naidu who is resposible for this change). For the last 8-9 times that I had taken this bus it took me to Hyderabad safely in max 9 hours (a distance of 534 km.). So depending on past experience I booked seats for me and a friend (Suyog) in the same bus. The bus started sharp on time - Sunday night 9.30 pm from Pune! So I thought I would be home in Hyderabad by 6.30am on Monday morning. Unfortunately, destiny had other plans ahead this time. :(

At around 2.00 am in the night the bus halted. I woke up and thought that it is a casual stop where the two drivers of the bus change duties. So I got down for a call of nature and went back to my seat trying to get some sleep. That time I noticed that the AC in the bus was not working! That usually does not happen. Usually even when they halt the bus for a cup of tea for the drivers or for any other reason the AC is kept on. When I got down again I saw a milestone that said that Hyderabad was still 400+ km ahead which meant that the bus had travelled only around 100km in 4-5 hours!!! Something somewhere had surely gone wrong! So I went to one of the bus drivers ...

Me: Driver, kya hua hai yaar ... itni der se gadi kyun ruki hai yahan pe?
Driver: Sahab gadi ke turbo ki waat lagi hai, gadi nahi chalegi.
Me: Matlab?
Driver: Woh gadi ka turbo hota hai na woh ud gaya hai, isliye gadi aage nahi jayegi ...
Me (Realizing that the argument was going no where): To ab hum kya kare?
Driver: Maine Hyderabad phone lagaya hai, woh log dusri gadi bhejenge, us mein chale jayenge.
Me: Oye, Hyderabad se gadi yahan aane mein ki subah ho jayegi, hum kab Hyderabad jayenge, kab office jayenge
Driver: Shaam ho jayegi sahab
Me: Dusri gadi Pune se jaldi nahi aayegi kya?
Driver: Aayegi na sahab, ek gadi aayegi, usme jagah hogi to fit kara doonga.

The argument was going absolutely nowhere. I realized that we had to make some moves ourselves. I called Suyog out of the bus with the luggage so that we could try and get into the next bus that is going towards Hyderabad. Surprisingly, as the driver had said another AP tourism volvo came from Pune towards Hyderabad. But it was a ray of hope that didn't shine too long! The bus already was overfull because it was carrying its own passengers PLUS passengers from another bus that had broken down in Pune itself! Phew!!!!

After a long wait a couple of private buses stopped by and offered to give us a lift! Condition - we had to travel in the cabin of the bus, sitting next to the driver and cleaner! Wow! We had no choice, as luck might call it - we were on the receiving end! It was a bus belonging to "Sahara Travels" which I had never taken before! We paid him 100 bucks each and got into the cabin. In the cabin which is around 8 feet long and 6 feet wide, which also contains parts of the bus' automotives, the driver seat, the entrance inside the bus and many more things - there we were NINE of us, scrambled, barely managing to get our bottoms placed somewhere, totally sleepless!!

Thankfully this bus speeded pretty fast. Solapur, Omerga etc. passed quickly and by 6.00 in the morning we had crossed over to Karnataka. Things started getting better when some passengers in the bus alighted from the bus and we got a decent place to sit somewhere in Karnataka! The bus crossed Zaheerabad in AP and it was looking that I would barely be able to reach office by 9.00 - 9.30, that too directly from the bus, not even managing to go home for a wash! I thought ... well so be it! Anything for the seminar! I called up a few colleagues in office and made sure that though I will be late I will surely attend the training and that my seat should not be passed on to someone waitlisted.

But that was not the end of bad times. A little ahead from Zaheerabad (around 60 km away from Hyderabad) the Sahara Travels Bus Driver came to know that some ocrtoi officers are raiding buses ahead and he just refused to move any further because of a fear of being caught! And there we were not even in a proper town place from where we could take a bus to Hyderabad! Suddenly the feeling dawned on me that I had missed the training I was so desparate for and knowing that it does not happen too frequently in India only made the feeling worse. So much so that I had started becoming totally numb, not feeling bad at all at that point in time. Because after all there was nothing much left that could have gone wrong! That I think was the height of ill-luck!

But we could not staying there and crying about it, we had to reach Hyderabad. We tried a few buses going towards Hyderabad but they were full to the brim! Finally after a lot of time we managed to get a 6-seater rickshaw (tam-tam as it is called in Pune) which dropped up just on the border of Hyderabad city. From there we took a public transport bus which got us to the city and I reach home around 12.00 noon on Monday!!!

I got ready and reached office ready to get back to the boring routine! But there was a surprise waiting for me ... David's flight to Hyderabad was delayed due to fog problems and only 1 hour of the course had been covered! And also my seat in the training was NOT given away to someone waitlisted :) ... Yesssssss ... there is GOD!!! And he does not have his eyes closed - proven again!!! :) I ran (probably the fasted in the last few years ;) ) and talked to David. Without any hesitation he agreed that I could attend the course from that point on and even offered to help me at the end of the day's course in case I was not clear on some things!!

And it wont be wrong if I said that the past Monday, Tuesday and Wednesday were the best of classromm training I have EVER attened! Most of David's seminars/trainings are recorded as videos and people in the company have access to them. But a live classroom is always different! And that too from a person who has studied Windows inside out and even knows the team well - it was totally different!!! During the seminar he makes comments like "Dave Cutler's philosophy behind this decision way back in NT times was ... ". It was illuminating to learn the internals of the most widely used OS in the world and its evolution from NT ... 2000 ... XP to 2003! (WELL ... I know many people will jump here and start an argument on whether the "most widely used" or "most popular" terms are correct here ... but that is NOT my central point here at all!! We can take that on some other time)

So in the end when I thought over it yesterday ... the experience on travelling from Pune to Hyderabad using a Government Volvo, a (octroi-not-cleared) private bus's cabin, a tam-tam, a Muncipal Corporation of Hyderabad Public Bus and a rickshaw and then getting to attend a great seminar like that ... I think it was worth it!! After all good things do come at a cost :)

The David Soloman Windows Internals Training class