I am now 35+ years by my biological age. I wanted to write a small post here, mostly to read it again when I turn 40 or at some greater age.
First 22-23 years were mostly dedicated to formal education with some sprinkles of extra-curricular like theater, public speaking, writing. In terms of education it was a very regular one, with a graduate degree from Kirori Mal College, DU , in pure sciences (B.Sc) in 1994. Then a PG Diploma in Computers after my attempts to get into a MA (International Studies) at JNU failed. The high point of this phase was the time between 1992-1995. During this period I got exposed to a much bigger world doing lots of theater, learning lot many things and shredding so much of baggage which any avg middle class study-driven boy keeps. This meant going to various college fests, winning acting awards and so on. I was almost staying by myself after my class XI so I had more time and little or no family-pressure. After I finished my college in 1994, I enrolled for a evening course in Urdu. Did a program with National Museum and spent lot of them in their huge library. :). I also started to write as a Theater critic for a 'Sunday Mail' publications. Lots of things happening during this time. I stayed at JNU for probably 3 odd months.
Later a new group of friends in the PG course. My school life is not the high-point of my first 22-23 years of life since I didn't do much in school days, more so because there weren't enough avenues. My father had put to the best school which he could as per his means so I am really lucky to get what I got but as a school it didn't indulge in any genuine extra-curricular or things of that sort.
Next comes the work life. With my first job in a garage firm ACPL in early 1996, writing anti-virus TSR programs in assembly language was fun. My first salary was Rs 3600. When my daughter starts her school from April'2009, I would probably be paying more than Rs 3600 as her monthly tuition fee. And she is not going to a new age, new world, 20 students a call, international, all air-conditioned school. Its a regular school. But Rs 3600 were enough to pay for room rent, conveyance expenses, food etc. I was also taking some tuition which used to give me another Rs 650 - Rs 900 and most of that were getting saved. My next job was with Newgen (1997 - 1999) and Newgen was indeed a large firm. Then a brief stint at Quark, followed by Legato and finally at Adobe for last 7 years, since January 2002.
The high point of this period was 2000 - 2004 when two things happened. At a first level, this was the first time when I started to live with friends. Some of us took a large duplex flat in Noida and that bond is still very strong. I spent about 4 years there (2000 - 2003) and they were simply out of the world. I also bought my first car while I was there i.e. in Oct 2001. It was a WagonR and I still have it. We were at house no 437 in sector 37 and sometime back, we even attempted to have a blog on that.
Meanwhile I reconnected with some of the old college friends and met some new people in the process and we had a gang. We made numerous outstation trips and it was simply a blast time. Later I got married in Oct 2003 to a real old friend who was part of that gang and we had more parties. In fact there was a party almost every other day. We bought our 2nd Car, a Mahindra Scorpio, in 2004 and that meant more outstation trips.
By the mid of 2004 things started to move a little away. I had moved to my own house after my marriage so the connection to friends with whom I stayed with was gradually getting weak. The old college friend gang was also getting thinner since one of them moved to London. Others got occupied as they got married.
In 2005, Pihu came into our life. While Pihu was coming, our outstations trips reduced, gradually coming to zero. Parties stopped happening since we can't any long have a a drink-all-night-smoke-any-where scene. By the time Pihu was 2 months, we started our outstations trips to break the monotony. By the time Pihu was an year old, we moved to a new house and setting that up was keeping us busy. By this time, parties have almost stopped or probably they have taken a new form which meant less people, more clam and all that.
I would think that this is the time when the 2nd golden era finished. This was the time between 2006 begining to 2007 mid.
Smita took to work again and that pepped up things. Pihu started to go to Play School. And by the beginning of 2007, things started to change. We were again going out. Later I started Ghuamakkar in July 2007. Later in the year, I drove to Jaisamler. Things were again bright and chirrupy. In 2008, I drove to Allahabad and later all the way to Darbhanga. My work at Adobe was going steady and after a few changes, Smita was back to ZEE which she was enjoying. Zee gave her the freedom to work at flexi time. We also booked a house at the posh ATS, Paradiso, Greater Noida in early 2008. Last summer my niece has now started to live with us as she has taken a program at a nearby college.
Last month we went to Dubai, first international trip for the family together. I would guess that 3rd era has started from early this year and would probably carry on for some time. I would guess that we would most likely move to ATS house in 2009 as we complete 3 years in July 2008 in current house. or May be it would happen in March 2010.
I dont know what lies in future and probably I would want to write this kind of note when I get to 50.
Friday, October 31, 2008
I am now 35+ years by my biological age. I wanted to write a small post here, mostly to read it again when I turn 40 or at some greater age.
Thursday, October 30, 2008
For a while I have been wanting to write some thing on the latest cricket sensation, Mahendra Singh Dhoni or MSD and I didn't want to just write about his cricket scores. So when I learnt that he enrolled for a Bachelor of Commerce program , to be a graduate, it made me to pause and think and probably share some of my observations.
MSD enrolling for a graduate program is not a normal thing to happen. He is too big a star and I wont be surprised if down the line, he would actually be awarded honorary degrees by the high-n-mighty of the academia world.
His enrollment is to be seen in the context of the millions of fans, mostly growing kids who watch him in Boost advt along with Sachin and want to become MSD one day. Imagine that each one of them would understand that leaving studies entirely is not the thing to do. Dhoni did his class X and XII from DAV School,Shyamli, Ranchi scoring 66 % and 56 % respectively. Both of these scores are ok scores, if not good or great, esp if ones sees them in the light of him spending almost all of his time on playing professional cricket.
He enrolled at St. Xavier's College, Ranchi and probably he wont have to attend as many classes as other folks but he would still need to write his exam. Its a really bold step and it wont come easy. Bravo Dhoni.
I keep telling everyone these days that someone should make a movie on him, name the movie as 'Inspector Vijay' with Dhoni in lead role. Believe me it would be a hit.
Wednesday, October 29, 2008
I noticed that my lone Geyser is leaking when we tried using it on one of those rainy but not-so-cold days. We ignored the problem since it was still not winters and later thought that the temperature regulator knob which is at the base of Geyser might be the culprit.
Meanwhile to mitigate the risk (Wow, what a phrase) I installed another one in my 2nd loo which was lying in my store, feeling left out. You know, just to have a backup. The leaking continued. Finally I had the time (rather inclination) to call a plumber but he was not of much help. Later I got hold of an electrician and he told me that the tank is leaking, there is no problem with the knob.
So far so good. I was relieved to know that now we have isolated the cause and now its a matter of just fixing the tank. But as you would have guessed, it was not that simple. After looking at the tank, I was told that I have been a stupid person to buy a steel-tank Geyser. Steel-Tank Geyser can't sustain the high pressure water which most of the new-world high-rise apartment gets and if for some reason they leak, they can't be repaired unlike a Copper-Tank one. Also Steel-Tank-Geyser are not known to handle too-hot or too-cold situations, both of which is fairly common here.
Well, I didn't know that there is something called a Steel-Tank Geyser and a Copper-Tank Geyser. I just worried about buying one of reputed brand. I had bought a Usha-Lexus which is like one of the better ones.
Anyway, that electrician gone and more time passed. Meanwhile my wife fitted a LPG-Gas-powered geyser in the 3rd loo (yeah, we have so many of them), giving me more time to put my act together.
I asked around and found out that I may be able to get a Steel-Tank from Usha if I work hard. A more worldly solution is to junk this and buy a new one, this time with a copper-tank.
I am yet to make up my mind on what would I end up doing but I thought that I would spread this advice since the winters are zeroing in. Always buy a Copper-Tank Geyser.
Sunday, October 26, 2008
For a while I was looking at a way to change the photos on my travel experience site with least effort. Not that I finally found a good answer but I did find a WP Plug-In which seemed to be doing the job. This plug-in is called "Header Image Rotator plugin for Wordpress!" and here's the website of the author.
So I quickly downloaded and set it all up but it didn't work. Then I put a post at the forum but unfortunately I didn't hear back. I searched around and I could not find any answer.
At the same time my brother-in-law and myself were thinking about it, not the plug-in but about the fact that we should write the necessary code to change header-photos on its own. So recently both of us sat together and thought that before we write a new piece of code,lets see if we can fix this wp image rotator plug-in. We were doing everything as per manual but somehow it was not working.
Let me give a brief of how this plug-in works.
1. Normally any WP template, worth its salt, would have a style-sheet.
2. Typically they would have a header-image.
3. Header-image will have its own div or its own descriptor in the .css file.
4. Normally, header.php file would be using this div to set the header-image.
5. When we use this plugin we copy certain photos at a location and then tell the plugin the div which the header.php is using.
6. Ideally, the plug-in would replace the div with its own code.
After not making any headway, we though about looking at the executed code which the browser was getting. So we loaded the home page on a browser and did 'View Source'. What we found was that the plug-in was indeed setting the right div to a random image but after that statement, the original template was again setting the same div to what it usually sets, so what was indeed happening was
1. Plugin sets a random image from your collection as header-image
2. Then, the original template sets the default or what-so-ever header-image to that div.
End result is that for a user, the world is all same.
Here's how we fixed it
1. We copied the style-sheet div section of the header-image in the .css file and created another one with a different name. In my case the header-image css was
2. In plug-in settings, I mentioned
3. In header-php, we used
And Voila it worked.
If you are having some problems here, you can try your luck by doing above.
Thursday, October 23, 2008
Someone suggested that we try 'Govindam Prasadam' at ISKCON and being a sporty lot, most of us said, Why not. The other reason besides us being sporty was that on thursday, office food is a little drab in comparison to other days and 'Govindam Prasadam' was just of blocks away from our office in sector - 25A.
It was a group of 7 and after a 10 minute stroll, we found ourselves at the modest looking, 15 X 20 eating joint of ISKCON. The ISKCON at sector- 32 (right opposite the towering NTPC office in sector-23, on Atta-Flex road) is a new thing and probably the construction is still on. I would guess that the restaurant would get a bigger home once the construction is complete.
As of now, its a humble little place with polymer chairs and tables. Unlike the one in 'East of Kailash' this one doesn't give you many choices but I guess thats a matter of time. It can probably house 25 odd people at a time so it might get a little busy during peak time, also it may not be a great idea to enjoy this outing with a large group.
There are two Thalis which you can take. Rs 35 for a mini-Thali and Rs 45 for a normal Thali. In a regular thali you get unlimited supply of chapatis, two vegetables, one raiyta and rice. You also get some basic Salad and a sweet, both of which didn't seem to be under the 'unlimited' category. I think in mini Thali, you dont get sweet. Staff is polite and alert. They are usually the first ones to spot a need for another offering and are generous in their servings. All of us liked the food very much and would recommend it any day. Its light, fresh and very very homely. I would bet whether you can get this much at this hygiene level at Rs 45.
Since now the weather doesn't demand cool confines, I would suggest that you must try this on one of those boring office days. If you do try then please comment here on your experience.
Monday, October 20, 2008
This is from a personal experience and incremental learning which we underwent while trying to get our little daughter admitted to a school in Noida. Initially we were not panicky over the whole situations but after the some what initial unpleasant interactions, listening to fellow parents who were as pained, getting frustrated over the opaqueness of the whole process, we had to put our head down for a while and we started to think beyond the normal.
Both of us work at very reputed organization, at socially impressive steps of the rat-race corporate ladder (if anyone really cares), are young and honest, our offices are in Noida, we stay closer to Noida and so on. It seemed to us and our well-wishers that we would sail through but as you could imagine that it was definitely not very smooth.
So, cutting the crap, here's my personal 10 point guide for fellow parents. This is just out of my head and there is no data but if we all collaborate and share our information (write a comment) then we can refine the points over time, making it more effective.
10 Point Guide
1. Plan early. Read blogs. Join discussion forums,www.nurseryadmissions.com is really good, collect information about dates/names of school/criteria etc. Having this information would help you to do those extra things like getting a lease-agreement etc.
2. Make a list of 10 schools and put them in order of your preference. I would suggest that you must try 10 and probably that is enough.
3. Working Parents + Day Care (Creche) doesn't work. So if you can find a way to have your baby go to grand-parents then have it. If you can't then plan for it and when you fill the form, mention that they go to grand-parents.
4. Parents' educational qualifications count a lot. So if you have done a PG Diploma in HR while you were not doing much in life and are now a creative head of an Advt. Organization and think that writing PGDBM in HR is low-class then dump the thought and flaunt it. Schools love these things, probably because they are in education business, so mention all those courses esp if they are PG courses.
5. Schools do not understand corporates. So work-at-home is a sort of new-age thing for them, so be a little careful when you claim that you are mostly at home or at beach. Its always better to be a conformist and say that your work timing is 8 to 5.
6. Some professions do not work well. So if you are a lawyer, a media professional, a cop then you are not one of those good people around. Find a way to hide it. For example, an environmental civil lawyer is still a better one than a criminal lawyer. A safe way to portray would be to show your job as a dull-back office-insignificant one by adding necessary designations. So if you are a cop, say that you are posted at Head-Quarter's PF Wing or some such crap. I know cops dont read blogs but you get the idea. If you are a business-man, then probably you can say that you are a consultant and so on.
7. Some Job functions doesn't work well. One such job is Sales and Marketing. Somehow I have a sense that anyone who is into 'Sales' or into 'Marketing' is perceived as 'Miss Chamko' of 'Chasme-baddur' fame. In simpler words, if you are in 'Marketing', you might be looked down, more so from folks in Academia. Hide it. One advice would be to change your Job Designation, add something academic to it. For example, add 'Research' or 'Analysis' or some such crap. Try reading 'Head of Marketing - North' and then read 'Head of Marketing Research - All regions', somehow the later sounds more academic.
8. Stay in Noida. If you dont or can't then get into a Rent-Lease agreement and claim that you are in Noida. Except Somerville which insists on interacting with you through 'courier', everyone else would need a proof only at the time of admission. They would accept 'Rent Least Agreement' as a valid proof.
9. This is a little tricky but dont behave with school as equals. You are not as equal as them and thats the reason they dont treat you one being equal. Always go with the assumption that anyone with whom you interact (more true for big brothers like DPS, Apeejay, Amity, Cambridge etc then the newer ones like Khaitaan which is really polite) is your school principal. Even the nursery teachers who would take your interview (yeah, I know it sucks when they ask you those big questions about parenting) would love you, if you bow a bit and wish them. Be submissive, Yes Mam Yes Sir. They love it.
10. It would be harsh to be know-all so I leave the last to you.
I know some of the schools are not going to like this list and I would really encourage them to being some open-ness to the whole system. Its really a painful exercise for a Kid and parents and one thing with which we can all benefit is getting some transparency.
All the best and good luck !!!
Sunday, October 19, 2008
For our Kid's admission, we applied for Father Agnel as well. I visited the school couple of times and one of my friend's son studies there. Here's some info about the school which I learned during this time and which might help fellow parents.
Location - Sector 62. Its on the road which connects Labour Chowk to NH24. The other way is to find Fortis hospital in Sector 62 and then go West from Fortis, its right at the end.
Father Agnel is located very well for residents of Sector-62 which has a large no of apartments, Indirapuram which is just on the other side of N24 and Sector 55,56,57,58.
View Larger Map
The above is an interactive map so you can move the mouse and can also get directions from anywhere.
Father Agnel is a convent school and they have other schools in Delhi and elsewhere. Its a convent format but its a CBSE board. The one in Noida where we applied, seemed to have decent infrastructure, with clean small lawn in front, a moderately big play-ground in the back and not-so-large main school building.
What really impressed me was the new auditorium which can really give a run for the money to some of the bigger schools. I could see some more development happening which is a very good sign for folks who have more years to spend here.
The staff was very polite and methodical. They didn't take any money for the form and when we submitted it, we were charged Rs 100 (Thats what I remember, but it was definitely not more than 150).
Our first interaction was on Oct 14th. They were very organized and all the parents were requested to wait in the auditorium. It was a little warm inside but this was much better arrangement then what we saw in Somerville, Cambridge, Vishwa-Bharti etc. All the information regarding results were very clearly projected on the big screen which was also sort of very good, not very common in most of the interactions we had.
The results would be out on Oct 23, but since we got another school, we couldn't wait for these results. I was very impressed overall with the school.
Saturday, October 18, 2008
I was at Superstars the other day with a large group. We had some business guests from the other side of ocean and the team wanted to have some fun time together.
Superstars with all the great reputation was not a difficult choice. There were about 40 people and we had lot of fun since we could get hold of some free space to let loose. For about 2 odd hours almost every one danced to the desi (Ashok Masti to be more precise) tunes belted out non-stop by the DJ. We had got into a deal where we were to be served any Indian Beer or hard liquor, unlimited, a buffet for snacks and a buffet for dinner. All this at Rs 900 per person. It didn't seem like a expensive deal considering that Superstars has always been expensive (but valuable).
But the euphoria started to get a taste of real life when a colleague of mine was refused Fosters Beer, for no good reason since it was covered under 'Indian Beer'. My experience with these events have made me more mature and I let it go. Then I was refused any cock-tail, even though it could be out of Indian liquor. I failed to understand that if Bacardi is covered, soda and cola are covered then why can't they spare some lime, a little mint and some crushed ice to make Mojito. I was not really asking any Belly's or Cointreau or a triple-sec or a tequila. They did end up giving me one but it started to get unpleasant. I moved on and ignored and decided to have my share of fun with RC Beer, the only Indian Beer they were serving. Its such a shame to just stock one Indian Beer and that too a RC (I love RC though), when we have Cobra (UK fame), Tiger (Singapore) and Carlsberg (again available locally) around. Its not a Rs 100 a beer pub, its a Rs 200 a beer pub which we are talking about. Anyway, ignore.
Time to look at snacks buffet. It was a fairly Kake-Da-Dhaba kind of arrangement with 6 choice to choose from. Then came dinner which was a truly a flop-show. All this was understandable since they could always tell us that you dont get a fortune out of Rs 900 per person and I would not have any argument.
But can you explain following
1. The balls at the pool table were taken away.
2. Bar counter was closed much before time for us.
3. The guy who was supposed to help us serve the food was himself found chewing the green salad, picking his favorites every few minutes.
4. They wont put enough Vodka since they wont use a 'measure'
5. Some of them were im-polite
Enough was enough and even though I was not doing anything, a fellow colleague could not stop and he got into a chat with the super visor, one Mr. Rawat. Mr. Rawat listened to us and it was very clear that he had no intention to do anything and he was just trying to be patient. I would not blame him since it seemed that he had no good control. On being told that a gentleman called 'Jeet' has been rude, he summoned Jeet and challenged him. Contrary to what one would want to believe, Jeet refuted and challenged Rawat back :)
The only thing they could think at that point was to offer me additional beer, after 11 PM, and some ice-cream scoops for the handful who were still hanging around.
No sweat but I am fairly sure that I am not going to blow up my organizations' hard earned money on these folks. I am not a regular pub-hopper but some of my close friends have been and we always looked at Superstars with respect.
It seems that it has lost its sheen and at this rate probably its a matter of time when it goes down further.
Monday, October 13, 2008
Last week, few jigsaw enthusiasts at Adobe India did something magnificent. They pieced together world's largest jig-saw puzzle. As per Aditya Nagpal, who led the effort...
"It gives me great pleasure to announce that we've assembled the puzzle in 108 hrs 43 mins. This puzzle has been assembled for the first time in India and non-stop for the first time in the world."
This has earned the team a 3-way entry into the WLP Hall of Fame. Look at following links:
It took me a week to publish this but better late then never.
Congratulations Team. Great work.
Sunday, October 12, 2008
Just back from watching a play at LTG Auditorium. NSD is celebrating its golden jubilee and they are hosting a children play festival called JashneBachpan.
This is not really a review, its more of a small snippet :). I do used to write review for 'Samachar Mail' (A 'Sunday Mail' publication) about 14 odd years back.
"Deewar" is a short play, 1 hour one act, about two communities (Reds and Blues) which are separated by a wall and lot of mis-conceptions about each other. Over the course of play, some of the members of the community interact over-the-wall and seeing the limitation decide to break the wall. There are two Sutradhars (Bholi and Laali), one Watchman and one Neelu.
The high part of Play is its interaction with audience, kids in audience. They have been able to do it without making this whole thing too chaotic. Great. Also the performances are brilliant. I would think that Bholi needs some more sound lessons.
The play is directed by Vibha Chhibbar (remember Kamini jee of 'Chak De India', same girl) and she has done a very good job. Its by 'Fun..toosh' group of Mumbai. They are sort of cousins of 'Samskara Rang Toli' which is active in Delhi.
Pihu enjoyed it. At the end scene one of the Sutradhar invited 10 kids but they could not stop any one and there were at least 50 Kids on the stage ;). Great show.
Friday, October 10, 2008
National School of Drama (NSD) is celebrating their 'Golden Jubilee' and as part of celebration, they are organizing a festival for children. This is being managed by TIE (Theatre in Education).
As per their website, Jashn-e-Bachpan showcases the works of theatre groups working with and for children. These groups represent various regions and languages from across the country. As a special feature, this year we will also be inviting theatre groups from abroad to participate in the Festival.
Venue - NSD Campus (Abhimanch, Sammukh etc), Sri Ram Centre, LTG etc.
Date - Oct 10th - Oct 20th
Ticket - Rs 20 for children and Rs 40 for Adults
View Larger Map
There are two plays every day at 1730 and 1830 hrs. On weekend its at 1530 and 1830 hrs. Here's the schedule. There are plays in various languages.
Click this photo to see a bigger version of it.
I am just back from there and they have put this structure (a Cycle oozing out of a back-seat of a car) on the gate so you can not take your car in. Parking is available in 'Bhagwan Das Lane' as in previous years. I saw 'Rajesh Sharma' at the gate, one of those regular actors 5 odd years back , my 2nd innings hang-around time :)
We bought tickets for the play on Sunday, its called "Deewar".
Thursday, October 09, 2008
This post is a result of a conversation between two colleagues, one who’s Kid is trying to get admissions for the academic year 2009-20010 and the other whose kid might be ready for 2010-2011 and would need to start the process around September 2009.
I initially planned to include more schools but thats taking time so here's the one which i have been able to compile so far.
1. DPS Noida - Between 3 & 4 on 30th Sep- 2008 - Residence With-in 8 KMs.
2. Amity Noida - Born between 1st April 2005 - 31st March 2006 - Residing in Noida
3. Somerville - 3+ as on 01.04.2009 - Residing in Noida
4. Cambridge - Born between 1 Oct 2004 – 30 Sep 2005 - Residing in Noida
5. Vishwa Bharti - 3.5 years on 31st March 2009 - No restriction on residence
6. ApeeJay - Between 3 and 4 on 31 March 2009 - No restriction on residence
7. Khaitan - 3 on 1st April 2009 - No restriction on residence
For aspirants who would want to seek admission for 2010-2011, probably add one year to these days and they would still hold good.
Monday, October 06, 2008
We were coming back after a short holiday at Dubai. As we touched down, we called three Radio Taxis. Routes, the first one didn't pick up. Then we called Megacab and they refused to give one for Noida/Indirapuram. Then we called Easycab and we were told to ask for the Taxi at the airport since they have a counter there. One of our friends has already tried Quickcabs (or somthing like that) and they also do not cover Noida/Indirpuram. So we waited for the counter.
After our share of immigration, where strangely the guy who was manning the desk asked me that why I came back early, he was bluffing to make me say something odd, dont know why. It was a 3 day simple trip and probably I spent less time to really make good value of the all the expenses, but it was none of his business. Anway, I told him that the plan was to come back so I didn't really come early and I looked sorry to disappoint him.
We finally got out of Customes and headed for EasyCabs counter. We were told that we would need to wait for 15 minutes. Being alert and frequent travelers, we guessed it that the guy doesn't really know, when a Taxi would be available. If its indeed available in 15 minutes then they would say that its waiting at the gate. So I went to Pre-Paid booth which is run by 'Delhi Traffic Police'. I was non-politely refused when I asked for a cab for Noida. After thinking for another 40 seconds or so, we decided to take one till Delhi-UP border and request my brother-in-law to fetch us from there.
So much for so called NCR, where one even can not get a TAXI.
I paid , it was to be Rs 405 till Ghazipur. We exited, went to another counter. A guy there wrote a Taxi no. Located that Taxi. It was the old classic Amby which has lived its good times. The driver, Ashok Kumar, was courteous enough to open the boot but stayed away from my luggage, such show of respect of privacy was not observed when you are dealing with Radio Taxi, they would rather snatch your valuable heavy luggage. Anway, we got in. It was a non-Air conditioned vehicle with unclean seat-covers. But getting Delhi air after Dubai was still great fun. He dropped us at Ghazipur in 45 minutes, that was very quick. We got out, took our luggage out ourseves, this time he gave me the opportunity of opening the boot. As you would have guessed, I took the luggage out, gave him the pre-paid slip, thanked him and headed towards my bro-in-law's car.
This was a experience of a localite, imagine what can happen to a new person. Incredible India. I hope someone reads this and may be takes some action.