Sunday, October 28, 2007

Having a mission statement in life

We should all have a mission statement in life. Because when we write down a mission statement, we know what we want from life, we know our purpose and we can try and achieve happiness by getting what we want out of life.

Actually we all have a mission statement but it remains in a fuzzy part of our mind. Bringing it out in the open clears what are the things that we want from life. So that at the end of our life we can be happy of doing the things we wanted to do.

We are confused most of the times what we want from life. We trudge along everyday with uncertain what to do in the future. Best way to know what we want to do is to think that if we were to die in say 6 months, what would be the things we would want to do so that when we die we go with happiness and contentment in our heart. The things that we want to do would be our mission statement.

I found this excellent site which makes it easy to find what our mission statement in life is. I urge you to please try it because your goals of life will get clear by this. It just takes around 4 minutes of your time.
Just click on create your mission
Then in the flash window that opens go to Kickstart and follow the instructions.

Also don't forget to read

Saturday, October 27, 2007

Why only cricket?

This question has been asked and the issue has been a debate for a long time now. Why only cricket? Why do people in India ignore most of the other sports. Why does cricket enjoy such a large fan base? Why do people make cricket stars their gods? Lots of questions these and the answers if any stem from some valid facts. Consider what P. T Usha has to say at
Well, she shares what I think and most of us Indians feel. Cricket seems to be the only sport which manages a consistency of some sort in holding our interests. We won the 1983 world cup which was enough to stir people's interest in cricket. The recent twenty20 world cup win has again somewhat revived people's interest in cricket. The other sports be it hockey, football, or any other sport does not interest people because they lack consistent performance. I am sure if some level of achievement happens in the other sports, then people will start taking interest in them too.

The two dragons

The search for the dragon of the blue
Seeking rest is the tired soul

Two dragons we are, the red and the blue
Red symbolizes love and blue the spirit

The exhausting world is set as a labyrinth
Too many paths, too many hurdles to overcome

But the heart is strong and keeps on searching
Fighting to get the rest it longs for

Rest in the bosom of long lost love
Like a drink from the everlasting spring

To meet is our destiny, written on our foreheads
When, where and how is a romantic mystery

The stage is set, the universe awaits
Not far now says the rejuvenating spirit

So till we meet, we carry hopes and dreams
They will be fulfilled and cruel separation no more.

Written from the depths of my heart - The Red Dragon

Friday, October 26, 2007

The green grass

We all have heard it "the grass is greener on the other side of the fence". Well there is a comical continuation to it "the grass is greener on the other side of the fence cause maybe they used better fertilizer over there".

The fact remains that most of us try to live another person's life. We tend to worry about the gardens far away when there are roses blooming right outside our window. Life has become a comparison and nothing else.

We see people and start envying them. We say maybe we could or should be like them. They are smart or beautiful or ambitious or successful. So we should be like them too. While having an aim in life is good but isn't that living another person's life. We want to be successful by comparing ourselves with the other person. We want to be like them or maybe even better than them.

That is what ruins many people. Consider the movie stars, the cricketers or other famous personalities. Many people consider them gods and want to be like them. They will run away from home, lose everything, risk their lives just to try and become like them. As I said having an aim in life is good but then throwing away your life for it is sheer madness.

It doesn't matter how much better we are than other people. What matters is how much we improve over ourselves. Every instant we need to grow better than our past selves. That seems to me like a path to success. We should constantly challenge ourselves, break our own barriers. Attempt things which will get us out of our comfort zone and go that extra distance. That is what creates success in our lives.

Sunday, October 21, 2007

Friends: Attachment and separation

This topic is very touchy for me. And frankly speaking in terms of remaining in contact, I don't think I have been very good at friendship.

For me friends are divided into three categories:

1)Normal friends are those who we meet whether in college, home or at work. They are with us when we work, when we play or at any events.
2)Good friends are those who care for each other, who seek each others company not just for work, play but also to share their joys, sorrows and things from their personal life.
3)Best friends are those who are more so like brothers or sisters. They will be with each other whenever possible. They do not even need to ask about problems as they know all about the other person who he is, how he thinks, his likes, dislikes and troubles.

Now most of us have a lot of friends of the first type. Many of them are people where we work or when we went to college or school. Getting friends of the second and third type is difficult atleast for me. But once we get such friends, life completely changes. We feel someone cares for us. Someone ready to share life with our own. That is a very beautiful feeling.

Frankly, I have just recently been attached so much to friends. Previously, I had many normal friends and whenever separation has occurred, it pained a bit but then life continued and since the bonds were not that strong, the pain of separation eased out over a period of time.

Recently, I don't really know the reasons but I have become attached to a few people. Maybe because we worked together, actually stayed together for such a long period of time. Maybe because they were the ones who cared for me even if a little bit. Maybe this attachment is stronger from my side than the other. So now when there is a lot of separation going on with friends, a really painful feeling is felt inside.

Just thinking that we won't be seeing the other person too often causes a feeling of nausea every passing day. A sick feeling occurs in the stomach just thinking about how that person will get separated from us. And I don't think there is any solution to avoid this pain. It will have to be endured and we have to make peace with our hearts and hope to remain in touch with the person as much as possible.

This post is for one of my good friends who might be separating in some time.

Stage Fright: What I did (or understood about it)

We know that there are two kinds of people. One is the type who love to get on to a stage and talk their heads off. The other type (which includes me) are the ones who are happy standing at the bottom of the stage and listening. Now mind you it does not mean that we don't speak. We could be giving those stage guys a run for their money when talking with friends and family. But when it comes to climbing those few steps of a podium and speaking, we get tongue-tied. Our hearts start beating faster, the pulse races, we have butterflies in our stomach and even fainting is a possibility.

I've always had this stage fright thing since childhood. Getting on to a stage and speaking was a no no with me. So I would avoid any debates, elocution or other such competitions although I was at a different level of thinking. I once managed to get myself registered for a Marathi elocution competition but chickened out at the last minute. Because during rehearsal when I went and stood on the stage, I got the worst case of the stage fright and could not speak a word. So I made excuses and managed to escape from there.

This trend continued even in college and engineering. I never tried for any competition in college like drama or elocution because of my stage fright. It's just recently that I have managed to improve myself. Now I still get stage fright and am scared when it comes to going on stage. But thanks to some books and philosophy I manage to overcome my fear.

Following are the things that guide me whenever I get stage fright:

1) I was lucky that I had to give presentations to people I know and had worked with a for a long time. So I would get the courage because I would tell myself that these are my friends and I am just explaining things to my friends, so there is no need to be afraid because they know me and I know them. And since the presentations were a little informal, I would try to use some humor in the presentations because humor always manages to reduce the tension.

2) Dale Carnegie's book helped me. One statement that helped was that if you are afraid of doing something then you should keep on doing it as much as possible and soon you will gain confidence in that. That is what I tried to do when I was giving presentations to people. Every presentation helped me gain more confidence in myself.

3) We get stage fright because we are afraid that we may do or say something wrong and embarrass ourselves. Important thing is to prepare ourselves well in advance and go for it. We should rehearse the presentation or speech as much as possible. Even the actors in movies do not get the shot in the first take. They have to rehearse again and again. So we should prepare and concentrate on giving the speech and throw out all the negative thoughts when we are preparing for it.

This does not mean that I have got rid of my stage fright. I still feel afraid to go on a stage and speak to many people or even while giving an interview to a client. But what has changed is that I think of it as an opportunity to face my fears, show courage and increase my confidence.

I still have terrible stage fright in cases of dancing or singing. I just cannot bring myself to do it. Reason is because I have never learned to do them. So I lack the confidence required to start doing them.

But if we need to remember anything when we get a stage fright is
"Courage is not about not being afraid. It means that although we are afraid we will face our fears"

So if you are a person who has stage fright and you want to improve, the next time you get a chance, just grab it. Go on the stage, face your fears and see the level by which your confidence will improve.

This post is for a request from a friend.

Sunday, October 14, 2007

A visit to the Prince of Wales Museum

Today I took the time to visit the Prince of Wales museum at Fort, Mumbai. I wanted to visit it for a long time and decided that today I will go for sure. My mom was apprehensive cause today was Eid and there was a possibility of something nasty happening. That could also be seen by the number of police patrolling several of the places. But I had made up my mind that I had to go there to set my mind at peace.

So my journey started at around 10:30am. I caught a rickshaw, literally as it was a four person sharing rickshaw and I was sitting in the front seat with the driver. Then I reached Kurla station and went to buy a ticket. But today being Eid and Kurla being notorious for long queues, there was a really long line for the ticket. Somehow, I managed to stay patient and get a ticket. Then I headed for the platform for the fast train. Unfortunately, the fast trains were running very late for who knows what reason. So I changed to the platform for the slow train. Unfortunately again, the slow trains also were running late for who knows what reason. Somehow, I managed to hang on to a slow train which luckily made me hang only till Dadar where one could see a magic trick. Like a magician pulls out a rabbit from his hat, so also a large number of people pour out of the trains at Dadar.

The journey after that was pretty comfortable till CST. The I had to walk in the 12pm energy sapping sun. But I enjoy walking, especially when there is a challenge to it. The last time I had gone to the museum was in my college days and I was unclear about the directions. Now I know we can ask for directions, but to (real)men it seems like accepting defeat when it comes to asking directions, so we generally don't do that.

To be continued...

The Story of Jesus and the ten lepers

Today was church time again. So I headed to Holy Cross Church at 7am. Today there was a sermon on the story of Jesus and the ten lepers.

The story is that there were ten lepers who came to Jesus to get healed. Jesus being the good dude completely healed the ten people and told them to go and show themselves to the temple priest to be officially declared as healed cause at that time people with leprosy were not allowed to stay with other people. But after healing them only one of the ten came back to thank God and Jesus. So Jesus asked if all ten were healed why only this person a foreigner has come to thank God but others have not.

The priest giving the sermon told that maybe one person thought that lets see if the healing is permanent, another thought that any great man could have healed him, other thought that maybe there was no leprosy, etc.

The moral of the story was that when we get blessings in our life we forget to thank God. We get good parents, good friends, a good life. But we take things for granted and we forget to thank God for all the beautiful things that are present in our life. So we should not be like that and be thankful to God.

Saturday, October 13, 2007

Life means Learning

Learning is such a beautiful thing. But somehow most of us stop learning after a certain age. We just don't seem interested in it. Maybe one of the reasons for it is whatever learning we did previously was just for achieving a career and not much more than that.

Personally, I feel it is important to learn. And by learning I don't mean earning hundreds of degrees by going to college. Sure, if you are interested then by all means do so. But if there is no interest and learning is just for improving your career then the motivation will decrease after some time.

So when we learn, it should be about things that interest us. You like fashion, learn about fashion. You like gardening, learn more about plants. Interested in programming, learn a programming language. But we should learn something because that is what makes us human beings. Constantly challenging and improving ourselves is what makes life interesting.

When we learn stuff which interests us, even though it might not make us rich in money but it will surely make us rich in satisfaction.

My goals of learning right now are divided into the following:
Improving my English vocabulary
Sharpening my basics in C/C++ programming and data structures
Improving my understanding of philosophy
Improving my physical fitness through exercise

Monday, October 8, 2007

Be True

I had an appointment with the dentist today. As I was waiting for my turn, I noticed a magazine related to education. I picked it up and as I flipped through the pages, I found a couple of interesting articles. One of them was this poem called "Be True"

Be True

Thou must be true thyself,
If thou the truth wouldst teach;
Thy soul must overflow, if thou
Another's soul would'st reach!
It needs the overflow of heart
To give the lips full speech.

Think truly, and thy thoughts
Shall the world's famine feed;
Speak truly, and each word of thine
Shall be a fruitful seed;
Live truly, and thy life shall be
A great and noble creed.

by Horatius Bonar

Saturday, October 6, 2007

Why are humans so biased?

Do you remember the stories of prince and princess, of kings and queens that we read in our childhood in books like "Chandamama" or "Tinkle" or any other. It would always be that the prince would be handsome and the princess would be beautiful. And they would meet and live happily ever after.

This shows how biased we are and how we inculcate these values right from childhood. The hero is always rich and handsome. The heroine is always beautiful and attractive.

Most men are always attracted to the beautiful chicks. And most women always admire the smart and handsome men. Whether it is for a date or a proposal, the first thing that is seen is how beautiful the person looks.

This mindset has been prevalent from our grandparents and parents time who I am sorry to say really have closed minds when it comes to things like these.

So the truth seems that the rich, the smart and the beautiful always seem to have an advantage in this world.

Thursday, October 4, 2007

Facing a Job Crisis

One of my friends mentioned that she doesn't like what she is doing right now. She said something called "job satisfaction" seems to be missing from her present job. Now I must admit that I too sometimes get this feeling and I am sure a lot of people must be facing the same situation.

Now this might mean different to different people. One person might feel that he should be getting dirty into device driver programming and kernel stuff instead of creating sissy GUI apps. Another might feel that it's okay to get a 9 to 5 job and have a happy balanced life instead of slogging 12-14 hours a day over something stated as highly challenging.

Then there are those who are even more diverse. One of these guys might feel what the hell is he/she doing in a cubicle, staring at a screen and ordering the hardware around when they could be out in the world enjoying the glory of travel and nature, doing things that directly help other people, enjoy their role in this world.

That is what means a Job Crisis for me. I too tend to get into a mini job crisis sometimes. For me, I'd more enjoy a 9 to 5 job if it were possible and enjoy time with my family, friends and nature. But then I also love some really technical stuff. So I get caught between the two, trying to balance both.

Well, coming to the solutions. I am no expert in such stuff but the first thing to do is to really find out what you want to do. It doesn't matter what. Anything that you want to spend your precious life doing. Once that is decided things become easy because you get a priority of what you want to do. Like if you want to create GUI applications, take courses on GUI tools, read books on creating cool GUIs, etc. If you want to balance your work and life, decide how much time you will spend on both, cut down on your work, get involved at home, etc.

And when you are satisfied with your efforts go and get that job which you want and I can almost guarantee that you will get it.

Tuesday, October 2, 2007

Why we dislike estimation?

Well, haven't we all(by all I mean the software engineers and programmers and testers and anyone involved in the task of creating and selling software) suffered the effects of the nightmare called Project Estimation.

Don't we feel upset that we end up getting the short end of the stick. All is well and fine with the world, until a project is to be brought forth into this world. Then start all the procedures of requirement analysis, design, test cases, etc, etc. But not before the estimation both in terms of time as well as money is sent to the client.

Now we all should know that estimation is one of the most important tasks of not just software engineering but any project be it mechanical or civil or electrical. It is estimation that enables one to know how much resources (time, money, manpower) they will require to satisfy the customer with a quality product.

But that is the exact point which makes the software industry so different than others. With dynamically changing skill requirements and an attrition rate higher than any other industry, the software industry begins to differ from the others. The estimation procedures seem extremely flawed since most of the projects have never been previously executed. So an estimation ends up being more of a guess work than anything else.

The sad part is that the time frame seems highly improbable in most cases and is merely something as minimal as possible to bag the project. Later, when the schedule naturally starts slipping, the late stays and the software patches and the heated arguments start to flow. More people are added to the project completely ignoring the wise teachings of "The Mythical Man Month". I would recommend this book to all software professionals who are serious about creating quality software.

To be fair to the guys who do it, they have to do it to get the project as that is where they can compete with their competitors. Because the entire industry does it and now we have come to expect that a project will always have extremely tough deadlines and we need to deliver within that time frame.

Now the average programmer(which includes me) has nothing to do with this. His world consists of completing the task as needed. He take it as a challenge to dive into the difficult if not impossible tasks of building software castles in the air. But because of this he suffers not only physically but also mentally when the realization of the position he is in dawns upon him.

There are times when the impossible is achieved and the ecstasy that follows is immeasurable. But such situations and far and few. And while we muddle through nightmares to satisfy our conscience, we begin to feel that are we really software professionals or slaves of our own enthusiasm.

Guess this post is starting to get a bit long so I estimate to write some more in another post.