Thursday, January 31, 2013

The Blind Watchmaker

There is such a wide variety of books available (English and Marathi) that I very rarely read the same book twice. The only books that I remember reading twice are ‘Fountainhead - Ayn Rand’, ‘Batatyachi Chaal - Pu la Deshpande’, ‘Vapurza - Va pu Kale’, ‘Cheaper by the dozen - Frank B. Gilbreth, Jr.’ and ‘Selfish Genes - Richard Dawkins’.

Richard Dawkins is an evolutionary biologist and in the book 'The blind watchmaker' he explains the theory of evolution by means of natural selection. It needs skill to express the knowledge you have in a way even a layman understands. The beauty of his books is of course the content and the simple language/examples that he uses. The Blind Watchmaker is a great read (and for that matter Selfish Genes too), it is a reminder of the elegance and simplicity of evolution, the only rational explanation there is for the unimaginable diversity of life on Earth. Definitely something I would want to read one more time...

Thursday, January 24, 2013


I want you to write down the names of people you think you have a deep connection with. People who you feel comfortable to call in the middle of the night if you need them (Let's leave out family members for now). Did you write it down? How many names did you come up with? My list has less than 10 names.

I read in a book 'The power of habit' that a human brain is capable of handling 12 close relationships at any given point in time.
Considering the busy and stressful life that we have today how many people can you devote quality time to? Should one spend their time and energy on the people who made it to the list and deepen those relationships or variety adds spice to life?

What do you look for in a close friend? Is being close friends a mutual feeling or someone who you think is close to you may look at you as just another friend in town?
What are the ingredients of forming a close friendship?

Genuine interest in others life - they feel the need to share with you and the feeling is mutual
Acceptance - of the decisions one makes
Comparing - This does not work in friendships, 'Oh, I have a better/worse house, life, family than you do', 'You have less problems than I do'
Respect - As every other relationship in life respect is important in friendships too, belittling a person in public or private does not work. 'I struggled to be where I am today, you were simply lucky', no that doesn't work.
Grow as a person - Any relationship is successful when both people in it grow on various levels be it mental, emotional, spiritual, intellectual, physical... If you use a person as a crutch all the time without giving support it does not work
Reciprocation - Generally if all or most of the above things are satisfactorily established then there is reciprocation. That means if just one person cares to keep in touch, call, check on you, invite you, make you a part of their life events and basically take an initiative to meet and maintain the relationship then it may not work, it has to be two sided.
And most of all the experience on both sides need to be enjoyable.

So getting back to the list - let me ask you is it permanent or it changes with time and situations? If it changes then what happens to all the interest, respect and your emotional bond with the person?

I have seen lot of factors affecting friendships - common interests, habits, food/beverage/activity choices, change of a relationship status - single/ married/ with kids, job status - working/ non working and geographic location to name a few. Sometimes one just finds new friends who match the above points better and you are out of their circle. And last but not the least with age one's needs of discussions may change i.e. from sharing 'oh last night I was so wasted' to something thought provoking and profound.

If something goes wrong in the friendship specially with someone in your list it can hurt for months, the pain is similar to a heartbreak. Does it need 'quantum of solace' to get over it? Or you just forget about it pretending nothing happened?

If things go sour where does the love go? I think it stays, it stays in the core and its just that people move on.
I want to dedicate this post to all of those who were or are on my list. You or I might have chosen intentionally or unintentionally to part ways, my apologies, but I want to let all of you know that you are the part of very beautiful memories that I have today. Thank you for your friendship!

Saturday, January 19, 2013

The Indian IT Work Culture

"You are leaving? it's just 5:30...", the most common question people asked at one of the companies I worked at. Why are they asking this I thought, I have been here since 9 and have done more work than what was planned. (oh and not to forget I spent 2 hours on commute each day in the traffic). Some of the team mates stayed late till 11pm. I wondered what do they work on for these long hours? I used to think they must be working hard because they were the ones who were noticed and promoted. One day I had to show my manager the report of work done by me vs them. I had done 5 times more work than what they had. He was shocked to see this as much as I was.

I have heard a lot of similar stories from people who have worked in India. Smoking chai lunch gossiping and chitchat - the day would fly by them. People who are in office for such long hours and have sedentary jobs, when do they exercise, spend time with family/ friends/ hobbies, basically when do they live their life? In the process of evolution nature certainly takes actions on the muscles which are not used. If people in the IT stop exercising then how would the future human generations look? Would 'Wall E' be a truth someday? Why "being available" is more of a 'in thing' than efficiency I thought...

Body is the only thing that we have from the time we are born till the time we die, we must take proper care of it. What they did with their bodies was not my problem but then I had a problem with the assumption that they were working more because they were not and also with the fact that people like me were looked down upon for simply leaving on time (and for having a life!). I thought why isn't this behavior discouraged by the upper management as it spoils the work culture.

There was this quiet thin girl who sat next to me. She worked straight from 9:30 to 5:30. Her work amazed me each day. She was meticulous and her work was detailed, neat and clean. She was organized and of course good with time management. But with her sort of demure personality will her work ever get noticed, will she get opportunities? I worried.
Is it better to deserve a thing than have it rather than having and not deserving it? Because she deserved it more than anyone else. I wouldn't know what happened to her because I left the company.

Should one give in to peer pressure, get exploited? Or stand by their principles?
We have to stand for something otherwise we fall for everything. Having a balanced lifestyle - work, exercise, hobbies and some time with my family and friends was more important to me than any damn opportunities.

I recently read a strong message from Narayan Murthy to Infosys employees on this same topic and felt really good that he noticed and raised his concern. What took him so long to see it? But better late than never. Will this work culture in India ever change? I hope it does!

(You can find the message from Narayan Murthy here -