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In this blog, I intend to write my thoughts on things happening around me, the news I see in the TV, something I read or anything that captures my attention. I will try to avoid the effect of everyday ups and downs of my personal life on the contents of the blog.

Saturday, August 9, 2014

Grandmas…the family glue

I happened to lose my paternal and maternal grandpas when I was quite young but was fortunate to have my grandmas for a long time enough to realize their value in the family system, here I am just trying to put it in words.

Its a huge extended family we have on both sides. My paternal grandma though not physically in the best of conditions with her mobility chose to live most part of her life all by herself in a big family home at our native village amongst the company of other close relatives in adjacent houses. She was assisted by a trusted godsend for anything and everything that needed to be transacted with the world external to our home. When needed, she had the skills to arrange more personnel to assist. A natural effective administrator, she was the Sun of a solar system around her.

Our Hindu way of living loads our calendar with a lot of opportunities for family get togethers in the form of celebrating birthdays of Gods or as commomoration of the fall of demons of our mythologies and even in the form of anniversaries of dear ones we lose from our life over time. So nice of our parents (my dad and his siblings) that they tried their best to get back to our hometown for most of these events. For us cousins, the kido-army of the family it was pure fun to be together at the cost of parents' peace. Can't think of any better way to enjoy school holidays and experience tradition, goes without saying the never-ending array of authentic stuff to feed on. It used to be riot on the street with us being there with nothing to fear as almost all the houses were of our own relatives.

My grandma remembered to ensure every little detail is taken care of before we arrived including favorite snacks to be prepared. Arranging supplies of banana leaves to served food on, who said the west came up with the concept of disposables. Arranging for enough supply of milk during the days of our visit though we used to own cows but not as much to feed THE army, inviting people for occasions though snail mail, arranging for enough helpers with domestic chores. Remember, I am not talking of the days where everyone had a motorized vehicle to rush to the nearest departmental store to pick stuff or order online/ phone. We neither had the vehicle at home nor a departmental store in the village, nor a phone and online what?…it was all about planning and optimizing your trips to the nearby town. She did it best, on top of it being a consultant to the entire extended family on rituals, important dates of Hindu calendar, connect the dots when anyone tries trace through family history to recognize relatives. Many a times this exercise ends up converting friends and acquantances into relatives…

Moving on to my maternal side. Again, our typical summer vacations were spent 50-50 between pattern and maternal grandparents…never missed the hill stations or beaches. We just never knew about that kind of vacations. We used to call our maternal grandma as manni which means elder brother's wife. It's because she was the wife of the eldest brother in a huge family. Being called manni by the majority at home made her manni to all including her own children and grandchildren. She was no less than Leonardo da vinci to me. An encyclopedia of knowledge who could tell even the remotest of little story from our epics, who had gone through the pains of India Pakistan partition first hand and moved to India in those conditions with a few weeks old baby on hand (my mom) in 1947 to start life afresh. One who was oozing ideas and who could also implement those ideas be it sewing, cooking, sketching, making innovative effective tools, so much so well that even at an age of 96 she found a way to neatly remove a hard p-o-p cast on her broken hand.  A person who I've never seen complaining even once in her life time about ANYTHING, something I wish to follow, the rest of her talent admittedly is beyond my abilities.

Too many words, still failing to express all my thoughts about my grandmas. If you try, I am sure it'll be  no different.

As long as the grandmas were around, they were the hub of activities. Either directing others on some next-steps or in their later days, indisposed, drew friends and relatives from far seas visiting constantly or ringing in to check on them. And suddenly it stops. It stops so abruptly that it is impossible to miss. Every time I go to my village home  house now, yes, without her it looks a house. The silence is deafening. It's long since all the cousins got together, maybe the last was when she left us…


Grandma! undoubtedly, are the glue of families. Anyone having a grandma now don't fail to appreciate, thank and take care of them. Ones who don't have their grandmas, don't forget them and their contributions to your life.

Sunday, April 15, 2012

Just 30+, still my days are counted

I must be proud that members of my family pretty much rule the world. We are now an unavoidable part of everything that runs the planet, from taking financial decisions to conducting life saving medical surgeries and from guiding mass murderous missiles to enabling terrorists in executing their vicious plans, we are involved. However, I am not so happy of the fact that it's just about 30 years since my generation started in my family and I already see that we are fast being neglected.

I am the Laptop and I belong to the family of computers.

Though the exact year of my birth is still not traceable and along with it the person who created me. It is widely accepted that it was Adam Osborne who created the first of my kind in 1981 that reached a commercially viable scale. It was called Osborne-1 a cute fat looking model. Xerox PARC made an handsome NoteTaker a few years before Osborne but was too expensive to be produced at a larger scale.
Since then, my generation popularly know as the Laptops was the craze. Our presence made our older generation Desktops to feel lesser. Not priced for the common man, we were the pride of the white collared humans. In the 90s and first decade of the millennium, the CEOs and CFOs of organizations flaunted our company. All my cousins occupied the plush board rooms and got to visit the greatest hotels acroos the globe while it was actually our older relatives called the servers sitting in a highly guarded prison like atmosphere called data centers who slogged through the night to provide the actual information needed for those meetings.




Little did I know that our limelight years are coming to an end when we were mass produced and started to replace some of our immediate previous generation, desktops. I was able to see the development of my next generation sitting in the same plush rooms where plans were hatched to replace my generation with my juniors in a very short time. Though they still are not reachable for a common man, my juniors known around as tabs are taking over our territory quickly. Sorry to see that unlike my generation which though went around the town still upheld our tradition and identity of having exclusive keyboards and not marrying anyone outside the family the new generations are unpredictable. I cannot easily now differentiate a member from the  family of telephones from one of my own kind. They marry and blend so much that a PDA (Personal Digital Assistant) considered one of our kind is capable of calling anyone in the contact list thus behave like a phone. I even see them shedding the primary organ we had, keyboard. It is all built-in and blended as part of  the touch screen display. They are testing limits of interactions even using handwriting and voice recognition.



Hard to believe that the top offices already see us as embarrassment to hang around with. They prefer the younger, sleek and slimmer tabs to be their companions while we are left at a point where we are not capable of crunching heavy numbers like the servers who are still housed in the much respected data centers nor comfortable co-workers to stay at someone's desk for 8 hours job like the desktops. We now serve as a back-up of our desktop relatives at work places and as their substitutes when people choose to work from home a few hours in a day.

With a heavy heart I must accept the truth behind Moore's Law, a rule of thumb in the history of computing hardware whereby the number of transistors that can be placed inexpensively on an integrated circuit doubles approximately every two years. Such speed of growth in technology leads to such a speedy replacement of generations, we like it or not.



Saturday, June 4, 2011

Human islands

About 20 years ago, there used to be a lady living somewhere in our neighbourhood who used to walk alone at a specific time every evening talking at high pitch, fast paced, highly animated and no one next to her...our neighbours said she had some mental disorder.

Fast forward 15 years from then, as I enter an elevator in a mall I see a good looking, well dressed man, alone, talking at high pitch, fast paced, highly animated gesturing with both his hands facing the wall...he's called tech savvy, he was using his bluetooth hands free, mobile headset.

Sometimes I have literally felt like an alien when I see 19 out the 20 people around me in a bus busy with their gadgets and me being the only one switching my gaze from one to the other bemused. Going further with my observations, understandably, I see the level of comfort in staying in this state improve down the generations just as the natural progression we see with handling gizmos. The generation of the 90s late Gen-Y and early Gen-Zs who are the youngest to enter the workforce have almost transformed into a species of Homo Zappiens. They zap between identies online donning a new avatar for every profile online. In fact, even if you live in the same house with them, or in the same aisle at work the best possibility of grabbing their attention will be by leaving a 'post' or 'invite' online than attempting to strike a live conversation with them. Its so amazing to see the dexterity with which this generation could type a 'long' Short Message Service (SMS) text in their phones just by jabbing their thumbs into the little keypad involuntarily with their eyes busy on something else. My dad finds it so hard to avoid pressing 4 keys at a time with full concentration on the keypad and screen, his generation had a technological shock when telephones swiched from rotor dialling to push buttons. I lie in between, slow but comfortable with the keypad and all the menu options and not a frequent user of SMS or even the mobile phone.

It's become a common scene in urban life today and to a good degree in rural set-ups too that when people are alone for even a short while flip out a gadget and get connected to someone elsewhere either engaging through a telephone call, SMS texting or through social networking web-sites, thanks to the never ending technological innovations. Though they enable us to multi-task and complete a lot of things while on the go I also notice that it is leading to people miss out the pleasure of having a conversation with a stranger, miss opportunities of being forced out of the comfort zone leading to what I call 'lateral learning' by mere sharing of experiences which could be one of the little things that's helped our species evolve to where we are.

Something seems to be not right when people sharing a physical space fail to communicate with each other and individually go to their 'Contact list' for a conversation. Though the quality of living is improving over the years the quality of human communication seems to be detiriorating. If we decide to interact only with people who are part of our '(online) community' or share the same 'interests' and who are introduced to us only by a common friend then we are missing something...and that something is definitely not available online.

Saturday, January 1, 2011

Provenance

Oh no! you don't have to 'google' for this word 'cos that is what I did for you. Recently, I read something that inspired me to write this post around this term. Provenance = History of origin and ownership of a valued object. Generally used in the context of a treasured art work and more on wine. The history and origin of wine is very important for the valuation of it. A key information for wine buyers. In archeology, a variant of this term is used as 'provenience' = exact location where an artifact was found. Alright! that's about the word and its meaning. Anyone who wanted close this web page just knowing what it means may now click the 'X' button in the top right corner of this window.

Let us now look at provenance, perception around provenance of a few more things and concepts around us and how it is affecting current affairs. Let us take a very popular product which is tied to a place, 'SWISS-Watches'. From middle of 16th century when the jewelers of Geneva were forced out of their business of watch making their innovation and entrepreneurship kept them going even to this date. The jewelers turned the engineering of clock making to a craft, which they mastered NOT by mass producing, cost-effective, production lines but as cottage industry, like customized art work. They built their brand over centuries which still stands rock solid. The 'provenance' of their watches fetch them a premium in any part of the world.

Ooo! that's something hard to duplicate. In modern days superior laser technologies and advancement of science has replaced expensive mechanical movements that are prone to error factors over time with cheap but more accurate quartz oscillators. With a huge market, more competition and pricing pressures the game is different. When the job of a watch is to show time accurately, sound logic would say that it is a low cost and more accurate watch which will have better market. Contrary to it, Swiss watches are still regarded the best. It is the image that was built over centuries what is technically called the 'brand'.

Provenance not always works to the favor of the place of origin. In examples like good quality automobiles, electronics or software products from emerging countries like India or Korea. They are perceived to be of lesser quality as these countries for a very long time were seen as mass producing, low cost locations than for their innovation and quality in product design. It took some of the now top companies like SONY, LG, SAMSUNG, TOYOTA and hard to believe HONDA a few decades to shatter the stereotyped mis-perceptions and establish their new brand. Each followed a strategy that fitted them well. Some hid the popular names under a new brand like Honda-Acura, Toyota-Lexus. Some piggy backed on a host name downplaying the real origin, some get aggressive and turn their roots as the USP like Colombian coffee. Some just stick to their existing reputation and make a market out of it, still Chinese silk and Indian spices sells well due to the centuries old reputation.

Hope the next time we see the 'Made in xxxx' tag of any product, we will think twice before deciding based on what we've heard about...

Saturday, April 24, 2010

Earth Hour





















Let's talk black and white, after all it is about keeping the light on, in this case turning the lights off. The emerging economies (BRIC) are so much power starved that it is unfair to compare the developed vs developing nations on the same scale.

But why am I raising this with a topic 'Earth Hour' ...?

Good to see that the 'Earth Hour' campaign has caught up good steam in about 3 years. It originated from Sydney, Australia in 2007 when the city's household and businesses decided to turn off their lights for an hour campaigned by WWF. Many other countries joined the next year onwards. Earth hour is observed on the last Saturday of March.

The statistics on energy saved due to this is highly debated and my verdict is that it will definitely be insignificant if we take into account the additional energy consumed by the propaganda, campaign materials and celebrity ramp walks involved, but is it really about the energy saved in that one hour? NO, to me it is more about spreading the message. The message about how much energy could be conserved by thinking a second time on the non-essential power usage we do, about bringing an awareness to people who have never seen a power cut or energy shortage in their lifetime.

Now, let me get back to my 'comparison' which I started with. At a rate of 0.7 kW per person consumption in India vs a 11.4 kW per person consumption in the US it is not a same plane comparison. 25% of world's energy is consumed by USA with 5% of world population. With 20% of the world's population, China consumes at a rate of 1.6 kW per person. I use USA as my benchmark not to point fingers rather to point out that any country that has reached a level of development of USA will be consuming at that rate. If by magic, we make all the other countries as developed as the US we all will be guzzling 11.4 kW per person which is scary, it is worse because our source of energy is mostly finite dependent on hydel or fossil fuels. I do not want to comment on who deserves more power, the developed nations whose development and better technology is also helping developing ones to be efficient or the developing nations who deserve a chance to catch up with the developed nations. It will be a never ending debate. The need of hour is AWARENESS.

If saving power is the motive, my thumbs down to earth hour campaign, it makes no senses to people like me living in place where we have such 'earth' hours almost every day and with such high power tariffs we cannot miss to switch off unwanted lights. We save much more power with regular power cuts than a once a year DAY for it. Brazil, having 90% of its power generated from water was caught a deep power crisis when rains failed for a few years. The government had to impose extreme steps like power-rationing mandating industry and middle class household to cut consumption by 70% or face a 300% fine on bills else risk lines being cut off.

As a global awareness campaign I see Earth hour is popular and hope it has the desired effect too on people who can make a difference with just a second thought


Bangalore, India during earth hour

Bangalore, India after earth hour