Thursday, September 30, 2010

Stats: HisTory!

1.       On Sept 23rd, exactly 7 days back we had published the first set of statistics for this blog and hoped to cross 1000 pageviews by Sept’30 2010. We have surpassed our initial target! As of 11.06 pm CET, this blog has now got total of 1500 pageviews in the month of September’2010 alone! An amazing feat, considering the fact that the pageviews before September were only 28!

2.       See the split of people visiting this blog from various parts of the world. US of course tops the chart, followed by India, Norway and UK. I have also already turned off "Don't track my page views" so the Norway numbers are from elsewhere!
3.     A lot of feedback received offline – by word of mouth, email, chat and also as comments on the blog and facebook/orkut has been received with an open mind. Thanks a load for that. I will focus on the suggested improvement areas and thanks for branding my writing as “creative writing”. Hope I am able to raise the bar to your expectations and do well!

4.       Year 2010 has been a significant year for this blog, as we had the maximum no. of blogs (22 so far and counting) posted ever in the five years this blog has been online and the highest ever in a single month (Sept 2010 where there are 21 blogs including this one).

5.       Blog “Tribute to the Dell Inspiron 5150: My first laptop” is now having 87 clicks after just 3 days of being posted. This is one of the fastest blogs to touch the three figure mark!

6.   Through this blog, am able to moor my thoughts and energies onto something i wanted to do for so long and in a way helping me look beyond the loneliness that depresses one in this part of the world. Kudos to!

The parallel life with Rajnikanth

This blog is a recap of the way my life has turned in the past few years, synchronizing with the year when Rajnikanth had his major films released.

1999: Padayappa
The days I kept 'Padi' (meaning 'step' in tamil) on my nascent engineering career, relying on my 'Appa’s' support ( I was on a paid seat in engineering so thanks to my Dad ( in tamil called Appa) and family support!)

This movie was released in 1999 where Rajni is shown as a self righteous good man who looses all the family fortune to his relatives and then comes up the hard way and becomes rich and famous. Those who were foe’s earlier now turn friends barring 'Neelambari' the awesome role played by Ramya Krishnan. I haven’t seen this movie before 2002 but had heard rave reviews about this movie. My folks and family members were all gaga over it when it was released and they saw it in during their trip to South India.

During this time, I had just completed over a year in my engineering college and was also the year my sister got married. Indeed a period where I took sometime to come in terms with not having my sister as a day to day part of my life. The first two years of engineering from 1998-2000 were indeed fun, where the focus was less on academics and more on whiling away your time doing nothing. My mom had to literally coerce me and say "Padi..Appa"! (which is like pleading in colloquial Tamil saying "Son - i request pls study"!)

2002: Baba
The days of struggle

The film's story is about a carefree young atheist, Baba, who is a reincarnation of a failed saint from the Himalayas. After several twists and problems caused by corrupt local politicians, Baba is taken to Mahavatar Babaji, whom Baba was a follower of in his last life. Baba gets tested by the deity and is given seven chances of wishes; the test is that if he uses any one of the wishes for his own personal desires, he would have to take many more births for him to get rid of the karma.

Though this film did not ring the bells in the box office, I still fell for this movie. I graduated out of engineering in June 2002. All my friends were working in atleast some organization where they were doing either a software / networking job - like TCS, Tara Infotech, Mastek, Patni etc. This was the most challenging period of my life now when I look back, as I did not have a job. I was recruited for a BPO job at Wipro Spectramind for their AOL Process through an off campus process.  I  attended the induction from Mr. Raman Roy and worked for 2-3 days at their office in Powai. It is indeed strange that in the first place, I was the same person who coerced my Engineering batch mates to take up BPO jobs after my first day in Spectramind and in a weeks time sent them a long email justifying why they should not take up a BPO job. There are no hard feelings  to folks who work in the BPO industry, but its just that as an Engineer, you cant be in BPO at the ground level - getting your accents rite and being as friendly as you can, to irate customers. In three working days I realized that this is not my cup of tea and gave back  Wipro Spectramind the opportunity I was given to work for them. Thanks but no thanks. Rajnikanth also had returned money to producers who lost money due to Baba as it did not do well.

And while I was there sitting jobless at home from June 2002 - Sept 2002, I was at the lowest ebbs of my career and personal life. These were the days when i was applying jobs - right,left and center. I used to go to walk-ins armed with a bag of resumes though many were of no use for my candidature. The Times of India "Ascent" section and other job sections in newspapers were read with interest, disappointments and suspicion like never before. I happened to also go along with other jobless colleagues of mine to companies all over Mumbai - submitting our resumes. Most of the times we were "shooed" away by the watchman himself - who was like a pseudo HR - asking for our college, marks and resume. At times he also had a smart comment on our marks saying if they were good, bad or worse to fit the grade in his organization. The times between this helter-skelter running in Andheri MIDC, Vashi and host of other places were spent in either peeling and gobbling banana's in the 5 minutes that we wanted to spend on unproductive work like eating food or sipping chai's to rejuvenate our mind for the next level of disappointments.

Not only was I sitting at home doing nothing (though i was looking out for jobs), but also had a break off then, which was a shock. I watched Baba during those days of struggle and got mesmerized by the entire theory of meditation. I researched further on the internet on Paramguru Mahavatar Babaji and was impressed and astonished. Adding to my trips to the temple and chanting mantra’s to seek mental solace from the restlessness caused by 'friends going for jobs, but I am jobless at home post graduation' syndrome , began my tryst with meditation. It just happened to come from within me. One of the theme songs of Baba was also soothing to do the meditation and channelize my energies to gain positivity and polarize the nature to help me find a job. There was also another meditation CD of Master La Del Pie shared by my friend Ankush , which I used sporadically. Over a period of these 2-3 months starting June’2002 I managed to get into total peace of mind and meditation for periods ranging from 30 mins - 1 hour three times a day.

And then the unsaid or miracle happened. I had applied innocently to all companies my web browser’s links could take me to - some aspirational and some out of sheer desperation. Applied to Infosys, Wipro and host of other companies, though I knew that there were better graduates with better % than myself. But as my friend Vishal says 'Hope is everlasting'. Then one day while chatting to a friend of mine and scrolling my mouse for deleting the 'SPAM' folder of my yahoo mailbox (gmail was not used then), I saw the invitation for an entrance test from Infosys. I was excited, shocked, pleased and nervous - all at the same time!  Over the days prepared for the same and gave the test in VT - in a college downtown. Was glad to see so many more candidates coming for the mock test  - happy in one way that I was not the only one who was jobless - sad in one way that there definitely were better people than me!  Miraculously scraped through the aptitude test and was shortlisted for interview. Indeed a breakthrough achievement  - given the fact that I was poor in all the aptitude tests that I had given while in college. The next big leap was the interview where we knew that Infosys had a tendency to ask puzzles in the interview. So there were the days when I poured into Shakuntaladevi and other books out of pressure than choice and simultaneously preparing for mock interviews. I used to talk to myself for hours together in front of the mirror practicing my facial expressions, body language to show more optimism. I also gave some mock interviews by having my mom and dad pose as interviewers and armed them with a list of questions ready to ask me. I practiced my responses to the standard questions and also asked them to ask me some out of the box questions (the stress interviews) for which I had to hold my nerve and yet give a sensible answer. Used to unwind at various intervals of the day listening to songs beyond those from Tamil Movie Baba - 'Chand Taare Tode Laaon' from Hindi Movie Yes Boss and 'Chale Chalo' from Hindi Movie Lagaan to keep myself motivated. Miraculously also scraped through the interview and got a job! I was informed on Sept 5th of my job in Infosys and that I had to join on Sept 30th in Bangalore! Just a day after a shocking but messy breakup!

Boy o Boy, as I write this blog, today is September 30th, 2010, exactly 8 years later and it is still so fresh in my minds as if all of this happened just yesterday! I don’t think I would have cracked Infosys without the meditational discipline and sense of personal power that I felt those days of struggle praying to all gods I could and Babaji - who I was introduced in a strange way by Rajnikanth through his movie. Here is one salute to Rajni Sir!

2005: Chandramukhi
The year of "going through the grind"

When this movie released, I was in US and saw the movie by getting a DVD from the Indian shop in Middletown, Connecticut. Nice movie with good songs. These were definitely the days I was aspiring to do MBA and getting slowly fed up with my day job doing mundane IT tasks.

2007: Sivaji
The year of 'redemption'

After five years of efforts, perseverance and interest to do MBA. Got an admit in an MBA school - SPJIMR. To watch this movie, me and my friend Deepak R eagerly awaited for a screening in Connecticut and drove down 30 miles one way to watch the movie to a packed house and a ticket costing USD 15. Awesome experience! My first time watching a Rajnikanth movie in a theater and the crowd was ballistic. They didn’t think twice to come in front of the theater and start bursting into a dance with screams and a shower of loose change upon seeing Rajnikanth sing songs, woo Shreya Saran or fight the villains. Loved the movie and the songs and more importantly 'Thalaivar' (fondly means "Chief" in Tamil) being forever young at heart, mind and soul.

2010: Enthiran
The year of turning '30'

Rajni Sir, turned 30 this year. I felt crazy, sad and bad that I am becoming an 'oldie', an 'uncle' at such a young age. I still remember the first time I fell down a bicycle or the times I was driven to school by my father. I still remember the mad rush to get seat in an engineering college and the struggle after that to get a job. Why does life go so fast? Why does my hair grey so quickly? Then I realized after seeing your interviews and off screen presence over the years (when you are not acting). You are simple, light hearted, good natured , have self deprecating humor and are totally at ease with yourself. It doesn’t matter what happens to your body or age as long as your spirit is motivated to stay young. You have constantly been reinventing yourself from being a simple village lad in Annamalai/ Muthu to a scientist cum Robot in Enthiran to suit the audience tastes and also personally challenging yourself. You taught me that. It is not great feeling that 'Enthiran' is releasing tomorrow and I can’t watch the movie even if I want to in Stavanger. We don’t have any screenings here Rajni Sir. Wish I was in US / India to watch it first day first show. I am sure the movie would be a big hit.

As you have seen multiple transformations in your roles from being 'Muthu', 'Annamalai', 'Padayappa', 'Baba', 'Sivaji' to 'Enthiran' hope I see similar transformations in my life from being 'Adolescent scientist', 'Engineer', 'MBA' to a 'Writer' and 'Motivational Speaker' who is a successful sales guy at the backdrop of good health and happy family life.

Wednesday, September 29, 2010

The right time to be an Indian

India can now qualify to be a Senior Citizen (a person who has crossed roughly 60 years of age), being on its own for over 60 years after having gained independence from the British Raj in 1947. The battle that was fought over decades with the British and other colonizers like the French and Portuguese is now a memory of the past. It is something that comes up only sporadically when one reads a History textbook or comes across during the Republic day, Independence day or while surfing television  channels.

From the time we have gained independence, it has been an exciting journey for the country to start walking as a toddler, stumble across the license raj, political instability and finally take mature steps towards industrialization and opening up of the economy in 1990’s with a stable government at the helm of affairs. This era of liberalization that current Prime Minster Dr. Manmohan Singh (he was the finance minister then) and Mr. P. V Narasimha Rao  (he was the Prime Minister then) created, opened up an ocean of opportunities that continue to flood India across various sectors like IT, Telecom, Manufacturing, Automobiles, Aeroplans, Consumer Goods even today. This has definitely contributed in immeasurable ways to the growing confidence and self reliance of Indians on their own skills, hardwork, talent and entrepreneurial skills. We as a nation have hence overcome the self-doubts created by the colonial mindset unknowingly inherited from the British. 

As I write this, the generation I belong to (age group between the 20’s and 35’s) is indeed fortunate to have the right platform to showcase our talent in this ocean of opportunities. Gone are the days when a job in a public sector company – like a Reserve Bank of India, Nuclear Power Corporation or Government was your license to retiring young and stay complacent.  The today’s youth works in the swankiest of the organizations with air conditioners, Computers, Mobile phones and other perks like travel through aero planes to India and abroad than trains. He switches jobs faster, gets unhappy very soon has low patience levels to wait and watch. He wants to be in the midst of the action – to do, to drive and not to be driven around. He is in a period of time when the entire world is waking up and excited about the “India Story” and respects and looks at Indians in a different way than before. The acceptance from the West is indeed reassuring for the easterner, who reciprocates the feeling by being as Westernized as he can.  He eats Pizza, has an IPod, plays his Wii, has an IBM Thinkpad and can get the latest of American / European brands in the nearest mall. If one is in the Information Technology (IT) industry, the perks get even better with an opportunity to travel to the Western World and enrich your personal and professional life. The global Indian (GI) gets to visit places that he dreamt of – Niagara Falls, Florida, Las Vegas, Big Behn, Florence, Rome, Switzerland during his journey of serving the Western World with their technology needs. And the GI works with customers or makes friends in Western World, he starts feeling more wanted because of this “Wow” factor that the world has for India. The GI saves most of his money in the foreign currency and repatriates it back home to India – which not only adds upto India’s Forex reserves, but also at times becomes the reason for sudden demand driven hike that leads to increase in real estate prices, inflation, gold prices etc. 

The GI is indeed doing what the colonials did to India centuries ago – plundered the wealth of the foreign land he is in and repatriating it back home. The only difference being the GI is being a soldier without a sword and is not interested in gaining territories demarcated by physical boundaries. He is conquering his new horizons (markets / customers)  by using a combination of the most intangibly significant inheritance from the British – English, intelligence and hard work. In return for conquering these horizons, he is providing services and enabling business in these horizons to transform themselves to the next level.  If the colonial rulers plundered India of her wealth and in return gave bloodshed – this is exactly the opposite where you transform businesses and communities across the globe.  This is GI’s and India’s soft power. The empires of the companies for which GI works are built across countries not by coup or force, but through business interests and focus to conquer unchartered territories.  And in this journey to conquer the unconquered, the GI spreads India’s soft power.

Though in these times of a slow global recovery, there exist protectionist measures in different markets where governments are being socialistic in the name of capitalism – in the long run it would be difficult for the pseudo socialists to ignore the contribution by India and its sons and daughters in enhancing the competitiveness of their nations.  

From the days of India being branded as the land of “farmers and snake charmers”, this is indeed a moment of pride to celebrate, treasure and spread further the message that “This is the right time to be an Indian”.

Tuesday, September 28, 2010

Germany: Koln and Bonn

A local bus seen on the taxi ride from Bonn to St. Aug
Travelling to new locations is an experience that we seek for pleasure and for business. During one of these trips in 2010, when I was traveling a hell lot in the first six months of the year, I got a chance to visit Germany for a business trip.  It was indeed a marathon trip, where I had to fly from Oslo – Germany -  UK – Oslo in a span of four days. The first two days, had to spend time in Germany for a Business Meeting. Took a  flight from Oslo, Norway to Dusseldorf in Germany.  From Dusseldorf me and my manager took a local train to Koln. One of the harrowing experiences was – everything was in German and the ATM Ticket vending machine for the train journey won’t budge if we did not have cash. Credit Cards for some reason were not accepted. Luckily my colleague had some Euro’s that were perhaps saved for a rainy day and we were able to get tickets and board the train.
Once in Koln, we took the Taxi to our Hotel. While on the taxi, saw some really long German buses, a host of different architecture and way of life, Lindt Factory and other interesting sights.

Lindt Chocolate Factory
Hotel Hangelar, St Augustin
St. Augustin Church
Deserted Main Street of St. Augustin
We wanted a hotel in Koln / Bonn but there were very few hotels in these places and were fully booked – thanks to the summer. So we booked a hotel in a quiet town called “Sankt Augustin” which was at a distance of 8-10 kms from both Koln and Bonn.  We stayed a couple of nights in Sankt Augustin and had overnight internal preparatory meetings and the actual business meeting  (for which we had to travel to some other place) the next day. The town of Sankt Augustin is a small quiet town somewhat in the middle of nowhere. Though not that far from Koln and Bonn, it usually has tourists who come on a religions pilgrimage to Koln, Bonn and other areas. The day we arrived, we checked into a hotel and then  walked down to the main street to find a place for dinner. The streets were totally deserted, though it was hardly 6 pm and we saw a Church (L shaped) and quiet streets with bilboard signs in German. We soon had a quiet Pizza place where they spoke decent English and had a beer and pizza and retired back early to bed for a hectic day of business meetings next day.

At Bonn Square
The next day, after the meeting was finished,  we travelled back to the hotel Hangelar where we stayed and the others who had flown in for the meeting left their own ways. I and another colleague of mine then decided that now that we are done with business, it was time for pleasure. We decided to meet at Bonn Square in the evening to walk around Bonn. Bonn as a city has a lot of historical significance and was the capital of West Germany from 1949 to 1990.

The Bonn Square was very picturesque and had the typical European touch of cobblerstone footpaths (which i have begun to enjoy and cherish so much!) with scenic buildings with sloping roofs giving a feel of the "old world"  with comforts of the new world.  Bonn is also the birthplace of Ludwig van Beethoven - better known as Beethoven, the German pianist and composer.

From the Bonn Square, we walked around and saw the "University of Bonn", "Born Minster", Sterntor (star gate), Beethovenhalle (birth place of Beethoven). The town is a strange concoction of history and modern lifestyle. Most of the American Brands like Pizza Hut, Mac D's etc have a shop at the center.

The Bonn Minster is one of Germany's oldest churches having been built between the 11th and 13th centuries. At one point the church served as the cathedral for the Archbishopric of Cologne

Bonn Minster

University of Bonn

The Sterntor is a reconstruction of a gate of the medieval city wall

Sterntor (star gate)
American brands have invaded Bonn!
River Rhine
River Rhine with wonderful skyline of trees and churches

At the birth place of Beethoven
Indian Restaurant in Bonn
It took us sometime to walk around the city, enjoying the weather and the new surroundings. On the way to the riverside where the Rhine flowed, we had "Crepe" - a common street food item ( a la Vada Pav/ Double Roti / Sada Dosa in Indian term) in Europe. It was a long walk to the Rhine, but enjoyable. From there we walked parallel to the river toward Beethovanhalle. Finally exhausted after a long day at work and now walking around Bonn, we decided to have food and luckily found an Indian restaurant just overlooking the Rhine. Had loads of food to keep ourselves stocked and make up for the compromised lunch in the morning.

Sculptures depicting the heads of Saints Cassius & Florentius in front of the Bonn Minster.
Life @ 80 mph in AutoBahn
                                                                       In this trip i not only saw these exciting places as mentioned above, but also had a chance to travel through the "Autobahn".It is another name for a highway (like the NH in India) or Interstates (like the I90/ I91 highways). In fact, for highways in Austria, Germany and Switzerland the word Autobahn is used.The advisory speed limit of the German autobahn is 130 km/h (80 mph) and i could literally experience the same as depicted in the snaps! It reminded so much of the US interstate highways in terms of nature of the road, the scenery that flies by as you speed up to your destination and also the way the "Exits" are laid out. The first section of Autobahn was created between Koln and Bonn - the section that i travelled in. It was indeed an enjoyable experience to be driven around so fast on world class highways. After indeed a long day, finally decided to call it quits. Took a cab back to Sankt Augustin to my hotel from Bonn and slept the night out, before leaving early the next morning to UK.

A typical fountain
Bonn Minster
Life on the fast lane

The classic tourists nightmare. Where to go?

Monday, September 27, 2010

Tribute to the Dell Inspiron 5150: My first laptop!

Setting the Stage:

It was the month of July in 2004. Almost 2 months since I was in the United States, on an official assignment for my earlier company – Infosys. The quiet town of Middletown in Connecticut was my first real life experience into the American neighborhood and way of life after having seen it and secretly wished to be there in those numerous English movies. The world was changing then.  Though the long distance international calls over the telephone were still a tad expensive, the explosion of the power of internet for VOIP, voice and webcam chat was well under progress. It is during this time that I needed a way to communicate with my family split across Asia (India) and Europe (UK), while I was in America.
My companion during my sabbatical
The option for a desktop computer was ruled out even before consideration as the visibility for my official assignment was not more than 6 months. The pains of trying to take it back to India or finding a buyer who can buy it were ones I did not want. So I decided to buy a laptop. Had never aspired to buy one that desperately while working in India, but now seeing the necessity, I thought – Why not?
It was time for my second purchase in the US (post my Digicam) and the research started. The numerous visits to website and brands and the features of the machines started.  My life after office work revolved around Hard Disk Drive capacity, RAM Capacity, ability for wireless internet etc. Soon enough, me and another friend cum colleague of mine - Gyan, decided to buy the robust Dell brand – known for its sturdiness and value for money features. After doing research and the various brands available – I finalized on the Inspiron 5150 Model of Dell and loaded it with all the best features I then could (including Wireless Network Card, a 15.4 inch screen, 40 GB Hard Drive, 512 MB RAM, Intel chipset). It totally cost me USD 1456. 

The painful wait for “Union”:

In Norway - ready to be a companion to my spouse
I eagerly waited for a week for her to arrive, to have the first glimpse, the first touch and the first feel. I almost infuriated the apartment support staff in Hunters Colony where I resided checking each day if a parcel for me at 41 Hunters had arrived. Though the online shipping status showed it in transit, something in my heart said that the status might not be updated yet, but she would be there waiting in the small room stacked amongst other boxes – waiting desperately for me to lay my arms on her. Then after the fifth day of ordering – she had finally arrived. My heart knew no boundaries and was overjoyed. I brought the box home and unwrapped the contents with the utmost care. Then wrapped inside white crepe paper, I slid her out with the most delicate moment of my hands and my heart almost cried out when I saw her top lid with the galvanized blue coating that was split horizontally into two by a  straight line of steel with a circle in between saying “Dell”. It was love at first sight.

The good times:

One of the numerous movies watched on her
Once she was unpacked, it took time for her and me to know each other. We did it the right way, now when I look back. I was not desperate to force her onto things. We took it step by step. She needed to know a lot about me – a login name and password, which gave me private access to all that we had in between us during our relationship, a disc of other softwares that I could install on her so that the needs that she can’t fulfill herself  - can be fulfilled by someone else. Once she was setup totally and our trust established – we had  a joy ride. We had our dates almost every day in exotic locations like Google, Yahoo, Deals2Buy, EdealInfo, TimesofIndia, Rediff and host of other sites. We networked a lot with her other family members spread across the globe through our high speed internet and exchanged web pages, images of happenings the world over and some cookies that we could much on when were hungry and skipped authentications. When I was feeling low, she used to sing out the loudest through her speakers, reading whatever she could find in her playlist in Winamp and make me feel better. When I was excited and want to celebrate – she shouted out loud the peppiest of numbers to further add to my happiness. She was frank enough to admit that she couldn’t directly carry my voice or video to the external world. The gracious lady that she was – she offered me two ports, where I could plug a handicam and mike to speak to family and friends across the globe and see them.  I don’t think she needed letter of references from these devices in the form of a software install to ensure they work on her. Her all encompassing compatibility with host of hardware devices easily allowed these devices to “Plug and Play”.  We also ended up in watching a lot of movies / documentaries. Though she could not remember all of the movies in the world – she liked crunching onto a VCD/ DVD that I fed onto her mouth through a DVD drive and while she crunched and spun it in her mouth for proper digestion – I could in the meanwhile watch the movie on her 15.4 inch display screen, shielding the moving from other prying eyes around me. Being hidden behind the laptop screen is a boon in disguise for a lot of folks who share apartments with roomies and gives an opportunity at times to skip critical tasks that you are required to do as a part of your share in living together. 

For the last 6 years – the number of movies I have seen on her would have outnumbered the total no. of movies I would have watched anywhere else in my life. 

Adding humor to our miserable lives:

Caught red handed in each others company!
Weighing close to 7 kgs, she was not lean in any way. She was bulkier as compared to other cousins (read laptops) like the Samsungs, HP’s, IBM Thinkpad’s.   She had no intentions to loose fat or alter her appearance, as she felt comfortable in her skin. I accepted her as she was and have no regrets for not choosing a leaner black Thinkpad which looked more like a iron tin box that could store rusty screws or a Samsung whose mouse was as untrustworthy as the Indian politicians – toggling their locations on screen when there was no movement of the hands on the mouse, just like politicians switch parties for no real reason.

To cool her brains (processor), there was a fan at the bottom.  Most of the times since she mostly graced my laps or the pillow on my lap, the fan never got a chance to vent out the outburst (heat of the processor) that was generated day in and day out. Due to this, the heat slowly spread throughout her base, which heated her up real bad – red with anger. As a result, when it was too much for her to handle – she used to quietly display on her screen that it was a high temperature and she was shutting down for sometime. She used to politely request that if there is anything blocking the fan vent – to unblock it. After realizing this for the first few months, I felt bad and guilty and asked god –
 “Why is she called a laptop when I can’t have her on my lap?”
“ Why does this happen only to me or my beloved ones?. I can’t stay separated even an inch from her”

A part of the fun in MBA school!
To this, something in my mind said “Son, if you both want to mutually co-exist, its necessary that you give her space in this relationship. If you are too close, you will burn your balls” Now when I look back, the thought could have come from God through my mind. I philosophized and decided it is not wrong to give her “Space”. Hence from then on I started keeping a book below her, so that she was not only balanced on a flat surface, but there was also open spaces below the fan (where the book couldn’t reach) – so that all the heat generated could immediately go into the environment. This proved to be a master stroke and no wonder my “Heating Bills” in the snowy months of November – March for 4 years in the US never peaked high. My friends used to chide me saying “Now that you have Dell, your heater bills will be less” and laugh out. Or some used to say – “Why don’t you invert your laptop with the base up, so that while her base is all hot and fired up, I can break this egg and create a quick omlette on her” and burst into a silly laugh.  Her self deprecating humor in showing off her heat made all those friends and well wishers of mine forget their sorrows for a moment and laugh out on her and made her “the butt of all jokes”.

Doing some serious stuff on her, while in UK
Then there was the other humor about her weight. There was a time when lots of laptops in our neighborhood were getting stolen. In a week once we lost 5 laptops of friends and colleagues living around Hunters, which was a record. People started double locking their doors or some even started keeping valuables like laptop into their suitcases and then locking and tying the suitcase with chains and putting long sheets of clothes on top of it – to make it look like a seating area. It was then that there was as wisecrack who said “Lets shift with Deepak, so that our valuables are safe. When a thief comes and tries to steal his Dell laptop, the thief will burn his hands with the heat and will sag with the weight. He can even trip and fall on the laptop and be caught!” and burst out immediately laughing.
When some of my roomies started getting the Thinkpads, the Apples and the HP’s, they used to make fun of her saying “One day when Deepak is married and has kids. His kids will ask – Dad what is that thing that looks like a laptop, but so huge and lying around in the house? Some of our friends came home today to play and when we showed them this, they got scared and ran away”
Some others used to further be kind, yet poky and say “Years down the line when there is a museum built to show the historic evolution of computers, like the “National History Museums” shows the evolution of living organisms, this Dell laptop will show the emergence of laptop in the twenty first century. So you will be making tones of money by selling this to a museum Deepak!”

Commemorating over 6 years of togetherness:

On the eve of the bday, sleeping next to her
Dad playing a computer game, in Mumbai, India
This July 2010, I completed 6 years with her. In these six years my Dell has not only been in USA, but partnered me in the journey across geographies and my life as well.  Born in Malaysia and branded in US, she was at ease in India where I took her for vacation or for good. She was with me when I was working from Infosys Pune in the rainy months of 2006 and also came back with me happily during my MBA in 2008. She also enjoyed her time in UK and in 2009 when I travelled to Norway, I chose her over the Sony VIAO  (my second laptop till date, which I got about 2 years back while in B-School). She has not only seen me being promoted in Infosys from Software Engineer to Programmer Analyst, but also allowed me to write my resignation letter on her when I wanted to quit Infosys. She was eager to help me prepare for my applications for MBA or the GMAT exams, but was also a part of my MBA course throughout.  She not only was instrumental in helping me work on my TCS application forms, when I got through post MBA, but at times, she helped me work from home while in TCS.  She has also seen me get promoted this week to the next level in TCS. She has been magnanimous enough to get connected to my TV set to display movies that are played on her hard disk while in US, India through an S-Video cable.  I chatted  (text, video, voice) on her backyard using enablers like yahoo chat, google talk etc. with friends, relatives, prospective brides and also viewed their photos. In a way she was also instrumental in helping me find a life partner through an online portal. I have learnt the tricks of the stock market and invested in IPO’s and stocks using the browser on her back. She has also been with me when I had a taken a sabbatical from work in 2006 to prepare for GMAT. She was the only one with me in CBD Belapur, listening to the quietness of the house and the gushing of the waterfalls. We were both preparing for GMAT. I read the recipies on her screen to prepare the most exotic of cuisines or plugged her onto the power socket in the airport to spend time accessing the internet, while we waited for our flights back to India. I blogged and opened up to the online world only through her. In fact most of the blogs on this website between 2004 and 2009 were written on her.We also played a lot of computer games one her.

Mingling with other women:

Knowing the times my Dell has spent – lying on my tummy when I used to doze off watching movies in the US or getting my first touch in the morning when I used to switch my laptop on before opening my eyes or brushing my teeth, she indeed warmed up nice to the other women in my life – my wife.
When I moved to Norway and my wife joined me, I used to travel regularly outside of Oslo and Norway.
She also mingled with my friends
During those lonely times in a lonely place like Norway where we knew no one, she gave unhindered support and company to my wife throughout. I knew that while I went out, I could count on the Dell to take care of my wifey.  My wife though used to poke fun at times on her initially, over a period of time melted and enjoyed her company. She kept her as lean as possible by cleaning up all the things that made the Dell slow. And together they laughed out loud while watching “Sex and the City”, “How I met your mother” or other such programs / movies in the emptiness of Waldemar Thranesgata 11.
A pride of our parties in US

She has also been equally kind and nice to my neice Sanjana by allowing her to watch “Bee”, “Incredibles” and a host of other animation movies / cartoons in London / India.

The True Survivor

The world has been through two World War’s. The Dell has seen two such crises in her life in 2006 and 2008.

Good old times
This is a true life incident. There was some issue with the design of the Dell Inspiron 5150 laptop. An issue so serious that class action litigation was filed in the US. There were complaints from users that the laptop heated up a lot and at times burnt thighs and other parts of people. There were some cases of batteries exploding while users were working on the laptop. As a result of this, Dell was made to give a 1.5 year service vendor during which – irrespective of the warranty period of the laptops of this model, Dell had to service it with parts replacement etc. for free of cost and also give free pick-up and delivery of the laptop.  During my second trip to the US in 2006, she started having some problems. There were ulcers in her mouth which was reflected with the bad behavior of the CD rom drive. There were also some issues on the display or motherboard, which I do not remember. I was worried and hoped she pulled through. I immediately punched the 911 (Dell Helpline No.) and was delighted to know that she could not only be cured immediately, but for no cost. The Dell helpline swiftly arranged for DHL to act as an ambulance and there was a stretcher (cardboard box) on my door step the next day. I packed her with the utmost care and also covered her with crepe paper and thermocol around to ensure there were no vibrations that impacted her. I got her back in eight working days. Those eight were the worst days of my life, waiting for her to be cured and come back to me. I was worried if she was meted the right treatment in the hands of the strangers, but since they were her alma mater, I tried convincing myself to wait patiently.  She was finally back and not only working like before, but also cleaned and looking much brighter and working much faster! I couldn’t help observing new plastic sheets near the mouse pad and on the blue galvanized outer coating, that were put to avoid dust sticking onto her. I let them stay on for years from then on, till one fine evening in 2008 I peeled them off as the cover had real gone dusty and bad.

Sleeping with her, next to me
The next heartbreak came in 2008. All was going on well between us. My B-school assignments, class presentations, in school assignments were all on her. She was also a critical part of my placement committee work and most of the emails/ planning were done on her.  In September of that year suddenly one fine day – the unexpected happened.  Her hard disk drive crashed. I tried everything I could to retrieve her. Tried booting in safe mode/ use DOS to log in just hours before the indications of crashing. Nothing worked and she was zonked. I felt bad and worse. She was my first major investment in my life in the US and how could I let her go? Also because of lack of computational power, my B-school work, placements work all got impacted. Life was harder than I believed it was. Thankfully I got a spare Dell laptop from my roomie Deepankar, which helped me pull through those days. Thanks to my brother in law (bil) Mahesh, I got her fixed with better hard drive and RAM from bil’s office. But when she came back, I was so glad. I didn’t care the data I lost when her hard drive crashed. Though data can never come back and impacted me to some extent, I still had her back! She was also in for a surprise after coming back. While she was away, I got infuriated of the spare Dell laptop, which though was doing its best to support me, still felt short. I finally decided with a heavy heart to think of alternative laptop. Though I had a desire to buy one for long, I did not really want to upset her. Finally now being a chance, my mind thought through and thought she would do good with some company. After all even she knows that when she is not around there is someone who needs to take her role. Instead of spare laptops from other places its better to have one in the family. This led me to buy the Sony VAIO. Though Dell was back, she was still amicable and went along well with the VIAO. They exchanged numerous files with each other and enjoyed sitting next to each other and network with each other through the internet.

Laptopping even before brushing teeth!

I have seen many friends who changed their laptops like babies change nappies. At first even I felt like doing the same, but then thought of the good times that I had shared with her. Just because there is someone better, faster and sleeker available, does this mean I ditch her and move ahead? When will I stop to wander my philandering wishes if I am always inspired and instigated to buy the latest machine? After brooding over this, I decided – It has to be her or no one. Come what may – through the “Heating” problem and “Weight” issues – we pulled through. Cos she is heavy, at times my back ached during those walks through the gravel footpath from my hostel to MBA classes at SPJIMR or during the times I carried her across airports, bus travels etc. But in the end if you really love someone, it is never a burden as your love overcomes the challenges and increases your endurance.
Even now, she is there with me as I write this tribute to her. She is lying on top of a book, with enough exposure for her fan. Though I don’t switch her on always, she still has power going onto her all the time and she keeps blinking, as if keeping an eye on me. In this lonely house in Stavanger, when I long for companionship or the presence of familiarity – the very fact of just running my eyes over her is very re-assuring.

Some say – “Buy a Dell and go to Hell” and I say ‘Bought my Dell and love her like Hell”.