To do that ... I happen to write!

Wednesday, 26 February 2014

Changing business landscape

This has to be the quote of the decade:

Building a great business and operating it well no longer guarantees you'll be around in 100 years, or even 20. In 1958, the average length of time a company remained on the S&P 500 was 57 years; by 1983, it had dropped to 30 years; in 2008, it was just 18.

Wednesday, 15 January 2014

Convoluted Dreams - II

It was around 2:30 in the night. I was in deep sleep; when I could hear the phone ringing out. Suddenly my resting state of brain (sleep) was snapped and I woke up: within fraction of second I realized that I had mistakenly dialed some number in sleep and the ringing sound was coming from that. And I disconnected the phone.

Next morning I was wondering it's very interesting how the mind snaps into actions from the 'sleep' state by a trigger. It performed quite basic action: but it did it within fractions of seconds. This particular trait, I wonder, can be life saving in some situations.

Skip Shot

Yes, I haven't written for long, but for good an interview today prodded me to write.

I can't believe that I didn't remember clearly about skip shot in Water Polo. The interviewer asked me how would I throw skip shot, I was going in the right direction until I said that one should tilt their hand a little bit while throwing. Of course not, you throw a skip shot with full power and a straight hand. So that the ball hits the water and bounces in the face of the goalkeeper. Perhaps all this will make sense to someone who's played before! If you haven't, you should.

Of other interesting things, I realized that's it's important in the interviews to wrap it up by summarizing why I interviewed with them at the first place. #people-forget

Perhaps this is a re-start to my blog ...

Friday, 3 May 2013

Eagle Eye

Swooosh! It definitely had mistaken me for a goat or a lamb or something that it can hold on to, and drag along, and then maybe gnaw and claw and tear and chew as it sits peacefully on the top of the electromagnetic radiation bearing poles that powers my phone and creates so much ambient electromagnetic radiation in the process that I once, in a dreary Delhi winter, tried to research if it is possible to harness this energy to glow a bulb (I would have continued had someone said to me - Go Mohan, light your bulb).

At 6 AM in the morning when you go on the terrace of your roof to stretch and bend to touch your toes, ere the red sun rises and makes everything burn like hell, you expect peace and tranquility and chirping of birds. But lo! I was attacked. Shocked, I ducked and in my half bend posture raised my eyes to see huge flaps of brown wings steering away, nonchalantly, and turn away maybe for another circle of let's-grab-the-man-in-the-knickers.

Never until now, had I known that the smoothness of my hair can indeed be a life saving gift. I shudder to think about my hair entangled in the dirty claws of the beast, being either dragged along the length of my terrace. Or maybe the beast would have gotten stuck in the air trying to break itself free from its hold of my hair, flapping incessantly until I would have told her (him?) to become by "baaz". He would then have been bound to come and settle on my hand when i would have whistled. I am not aware if there exists some other "baaz" domestication process.

The other thoughts I had as I ran away downwards through the stairs was that the only other possibility that explains this bizarre incident can be that it was indeed sent by Gandalf and had mistaken me for Frodo, or behold! It can also be that it was not mistaken and it is me who is indeed headed towards the Mount Doom, as all of us our.

But of all things, from next time, I will take an eagle attack as an omen for CEO bashing.

Tuesday, 22 January 2013

Vietnam War: Why didn't the US use nuclear weapons in the Vietnam war?

This is my answer on Quora - thought of posting it here. I just aim to put facts into perspective; would appreciate if you let me know in case my tone is not neutral at any place in the below answer.

Contrary to what many people understand, US involvement in Vietnam has been since the time WWII ended, initially as an ally to French. This initial period ended with the exit of French and division of Vietnam into communist - north, and anti-communist south.

The American involvement restarted sometime around 1965 after observing gradual infiltration of South Vietnam by the North Vietnamese army, and continued over next decade under 4 different presidents. (1965-1975)

U.S. went as far as it could - dropping more bombing material than one could comprehend and using bio-chemical warfare - however, not even a madman would have considered using Nuclear Warfare unless its sovereign interests were fundamentally threatened. Of course, U.S. soil was never threatened. However, to understand why the U.S.A. didn't nuke Vietnam, one has to truly step into the president's shoes and see how events unfolded... it wasn't all that simple.
  1. At no point of time, did the U.S. ever believe that it might lose in Vietnam.
  2. Initially, U.S. was even reluctant to use ground troops, and took either bombing mission, or very specific search and destroy missions. U.S. never believed that North Vietnam could hold for as long as it did. The key idea was that bombing and these missions could deter the North Vietnamese. After all, Vietnam was considered to be a small agri-country (which it was!)
  3. U.S. believed that it was almost improbable that such a small country might be able to sustain such heavy bombing and would soon back off. However, several things, such as the underground tunnels - where a large population of Vietnam lived secure from the bombings, weren't discovered till late in the war.
  4. U.S.A.'s primary agenda was to avoid Vietnam coming under full communist control. For this the U.S.A. was happy to have a North Vietnam and a South Vietnam. Further, in the later years of the war, as the escalation increased, both the US and North Vietnam had agreed to continue the dialogue, including a secret dialogue outside the Paris talks. However, both the sides kept on fighting in a bid to gain advantage at the negotiation table (1972 Paris Peace Accords). Nuking a country didn't fit the negotiation strategy.
  5. Cuban Missile Crisis (read here: Cuban Missile Crisis) and 1968 Thule Air Base B-52 crash were closely averted nuclear disasters, and had shaken the U.S. It can be adjudged that they were much more careful about using nuclear weapons and wary of starting an all-out global war.
  6. Further, Russia and China were both supporting North Vietnam. Though it was unlikely that Russia and China would have started a war with the U.S., one of the most powerful armies in the world, still the smallest possibility of Nuclear Warfare (something that didn't exist at the time of Japan) was enough to serve as a deterrence. Also, the overall strategy for the U.S.A was to ensure more international corporation with world's leading powers. In fact, lots of bombing campaign in Vietnam and Cambodia were conducted in secret, to avoid any escalations. Even the U.S.A.'s decision to enter Vietnam in 1965 was a secret! So the use of nuclear warheads in initial years was out of question.
  7. As the initial years unfolded, and it became apparent that US wasn't able to make any decisive win, the internal pressure increased. By 1969, the government did not have support of its own people on the war. During one of the protest, 4 college students were shot down: 4 million students participated in anti-war demonstrations post that in a matter of few weeks. Soon after, the My Lai Massacre spurred massive national and internal protests. Thus after 1970, the main focus was to de-escalate U.S. involvement in the war and work towards a peace treaty. Nuke attack, again was out of question.
  8. At the end of 1972, as the peace treaty broke down, U.S. "bombed Vietnam to middle ages", targeting densely populated civilian areas in north Vietnam. Again, the intent was to gain advantage at the negotiating table, which U.S. did. However, at the cost of huge international retaliation - Swedish PM compared the bombings to holocaust. Nuking would have resulted in U.S. losing support of its own allies.
  9. It's naive to think that the possibility of a nuke-strike didn't ever come up. While the previous presidents, Kennedy and Johnson, were ambivalent about how far should the U.S. get involved, Nixon (1969-1974) was initially open to use more aggressive policies. Recently, declassified documents bring to light the 'madman' theory devised by Nixon. In October, 1969, without warning, he sent B52 bombers loaded with nuclear warhead, racing to Moscow! It was a game theory move to show Soviet that the U.S.A. can go to any extent, and Soviet should back down in it's involvement in Vietnam. You can imagine, the horror of it all - one mistake to WWIII. Anyways, after 3 days of flying on the soviet borders, Nixon recalled the mission and B52s returned. Soviet neither launch a counter offence, nor reduced their help to North Vietnam. However, the point to note is that even now - it was a strategic move and not really a bid to nuke a country. Anyone who knows anything about these bombs would know that using them would have been the end of the world as they knew it.

To sum it up, while no nuclear weapons were used in the warfare, the last point shows how close it came. 

Source: Wikipedia, Wired, "The Vietnam War: A concise international history by Mark Atwood."

Friday, 18 January 2013

Once upon a time, in the Himalayas ...

Once you go to the Himalayas, it’s hard to get its memories out of your mind. Not just the natural beauty. Or the thrill and peace of breaking away from the world, and stepping into another world. But also for the amazing people you meet. I too have one such distinct memory...

During August 2011, we drove from Delhi to Leh: battling flash floods, day long jams on Rohtang Pass, and dizzying passes. We woke up to a snowy morning on our 3rd day. After a quick breakfast at a makeshift dhaba on the roadside, we quickly huddled in the van before the warmth that chai bought disappeared. I sat on the back side of the car and the owner of the dhaba, who had come to bid us off, volunteered to close our gate. Just before closing the door, he lingered and said “good luck” in his half toothed smile. Till today, I can close my eyes and still see the vivid reflection of him waving us off.

Just after he closed the gate, I told my friend, “do you remember that English poem by Gabriel Okara where a man tells his son how he see so many people smiling but feels like it’s all fake”. She did. That old man smile was complete opposite of that – happy, peaceful, buoyant, serene ... a smile whose purity can be compared to the pure glacier melted water flowing by the road side ...

I know sometimes as humans, we single out memories that might not have been as grand as they look in our heads. But those memories are culmination of our overall experience, as in my cases, perhaps as if the warmth in the personality of all the pahari people I came across merged in that one old smiling man. To me, he stands for the genuineness of human emotion. Of hedonism. He stands as a reference point in my mind against which I can compare myself, and think about the gift that life is ...

As much as I like to put a picture of that man and let that say the rest, I feel words describes that memory more truthfully than a picture! Here’s however, the view by the road.

Tuesday, 18 December 2012

What song will you play?

I have "What a wonderful world" playing in loop.

Monday, 22 October 2012

Vietnam Diaries #10: Pass it forward

We crossed a rickety old wooden bridge that shook with every motobike, to leave the city of Ben Tre behind and wander off in a land criss-crossed by countless numbers of small rivulets branching off the Mekong river. My host took us to a trail which branched off from the stone path through a short muddy track... and we were at a home of a stranger: not just to me, but also to my host!

It hardly felt like he was a stranger; a war veteran (from the south Viet side!): he has a huge collection of antiques. Before going to his house I was wondering how interesting can that be! Well, it was interesting but that's wasn't all. We had coconut and fresh fruits from his farm, fed the fish, rowed his boat, tried climbing coconut trees (to utter failure), saw the wedding video of his son, saw pictures of his 4 generations; and wait: divided up work to cook food in his home. Plucking yellow chilly from its plant, chopping it to pieces and then casually rubbing my fingers on my face was the highlight of this cooking session! Nothing would help subside the extreme burning sensation for next 2 hours!

I ate one of the best meals of my life; washed the dishes and then slumped into one of the dozens of hamlock spread all across his house!

The experience is incomplete without a mention of how cheerful that stranger was! Laughing and cracking jokes by the minute. His personality put us at east within first few minutes of meeting him, and infused an extra sense of joy in everything...

When taking a leave, I asked my host: "how do I pay him back!". 
She said, "Pay it forward"...

Saturday, 6 October 2012

Vietnam Diaries #9: It's raining Cows!

When I say that this is the heaviest rainfall I have seen in my life, you better consider it with some merit as I have been to, and trekked during monsoon season in Augumbe - the place that receives 2nd highest rainfall in India, and have been during flash floods in Manali when on my way to Leh!

"But it's raining mad here in Vietnam, and the iJet intelligence system daily sends an email to my inbox around how the storm is going to hit me soon. And today was the d-day! Here's the latest:
Tropical Storm Gaemi is projected to make landfall in central Vietnam, south of Danang, late Oct. 6. From there, the storm will continue into Laos and Cambodia before eventually dissipating. 
Severe weather conditions are likely throughout central and southern Vietnam; officials predict heavy rain will fall in provinces from central Quang Binh to southern Ba Ria-Vung Tau. Authorities may suspend maritime services as the storm approaches. Flight disruptions cannot be ruled out during torrential downpours, though significant disruptions are unlikely. Expect localized road closures and mass transport disruptions. Power and telecommunications outages are likely...."

I tried and failed on the best way to capture it through my eyes, and failed even more miserably trying to capture it through my camera. Unfortunately (I am being sarcastic!), unlike India, despite heavy rainfall - several hours each days, for several days a week, for several week every month: there's no water log on the roads and traffic doesn't choke (even have experienced this first hand - towards the end of my bike trip in Vietnam)

Anyways, I went ahead and got drenched to my bones. I love rains here ...

... just that I miss having chai - pakora alongside ...

Friday, 21 September 2012

Failure is an option. Fear is not.

One of my favorite Ted talks - from the creator of Titanic and Avatar. A man who disappears for years between his movies - exploring! A man who has recently (after this speech) become one of the 3 men on the earth to have dived in the Marina Trench - the deepest places on the earth. 

Friday, 31 August 2012

Winning the IIT Journey

Having seen it first hand through my 4 years of education, I found this article profoundly true, well written and genuine. Do give it a read:

The candid blog talks about a journey of a guy through IIT Kanpur - taking one F (Fail) after another, with his final total stand at 11 Fs! And yet he resolutely kept moving forward with his life and always tried to make better of it. I take the liberty to quote from his blog, where he explains why he didn't commit suicide:
"The reality of it was an eye opener. Having been so near death, I was convinced for life that suicide is simply not an option for anyone and even those who do it must be terribly afraid in those last few moments of their life. But perhaps by that time it would have been too late for them. Regardless of my failures and whether or not I got the IIT degree, it was clear to me that I would never do anything to harm myself. My life wasn’t my own. I owed it to the people who brought me to this world, who trusted me and gave all they had so that I could have a better life and were counting on me to graduate and help them. I owed it to all those people who had enriched my life by just being there for me. I couldn’t die before I had fulfilled my duties to them, not even by accident, forget by suicide."
The pressure - not just academic, but social pressure to perform and conform to the standards is so high - that there have been an alarming increase in number of students giving it up. On their life. 

This has truly increased the respect for all the professors who are genuinely concerned about their students, all the classmates who reach out to help their peers, all student welfare clubs and the Psychiatrist department at IIT, and all the mentors who care about their mentees - in my eyes. 

Aside, it was great to find mention of Prof. H.C. Verma in the article. Brought back the fond memories of working through the books written by him, and attached another piece in my image of him.

Keeping aside the debate on how good are the IIT systems of education, the important thing to note for students is that there's nothing worse enough to throw away life, and for others is to realize that their genuine ethical help can be life changing for someone else.

Monday, 27 August 2012

Vietnam Diaries #8: Found! A McDonald free nation

A nation of around 90 million people, with 10% concentrated in a single city (Saigon), 5-7% GDP growth in recent years, PPP per capita almost close to India, and yet no McDonalds!

Actually, that's the first thing that struck me after landing in this country - no McDonalds, really, how?

While I am yet to find answer to this, I am wondering which consultant told them that the market entry scenario of Vietnam is not too great. The same consultant also must have told something similar to KFC, Burger King, Lotteria and Subway - who went ahead an set up a few shops anyways.

I have my own guess (without pouring numbers here) - the 'fast' food eating population is really low in Vietnam - and that's almost, how to say, inspirational! My translators just refuse to eat any biscuits, chocolates, chips or any such thing we bring to office. They don't even touch it, and prefer to eat their meals nicely or drink coffee!

Of course the other reason can be the famous supply chain issues of McDonalds: because it wants to procure just the right ingredients.

Any other conspiracy theories? 

Tuesday, 21 August 2012

Vietnam Diaries #7: Crazy language; and the pineapple-coconut tale!

I was recently in Hanoi, the capital of Vietnam. I met a few Vietnamese people there and together we went to a cafe shop by the Lake Turtle. 

Trying to order for my own, I asked for some dừa tươi. But they didn't understand me. "Something wrong again with my tone, they never get me", I thought in my mind only to quickly realize that I was speaking the southern language where 'd' is pronounced as 'y', however in north 'd' is pronounced as 'z'.

Correcting my mistake I again said 'zua t-u-oi' (or fresh coconut that is to say). And voila - they understood; nodding in appreciation - "ah, zua, zua tuoi".

After 10 minutes of wait - I got a glass with some juice in it. It totally didn't look like coconut or any of its derivatives. Nevertheless, I took a sip and exclaimed - this totally is not like coconut. 

"Coconut!", my friends exclaimed, and broke into a laugh. I was later explained that while Coconut is dừa; Pineapple is dứa !

All that is different is the tone - so if you speak it in a sad manner; with your voice going down at 'u' - that's coconut; but if you speak excited, as I was, with the voice going sharply up at 'u': Ta Da - that's pineapple for you!!!

And in case you happenstance to be ambivalent about it: neither excited, nor sad; your voice a flat tone - you will speak du'a - and that's melon for you!

Crazy language.

p.s. I was surprised as to how I was not able to pin down that the juice tasted like Pineapple before I was told it was so; all I could tell was that it was citrus and not coconut-like :)

Saturday, 18 August 2012

Vietnam Diaries #6: The charms of a new airlines!

Charms of a new airlines!
I flew VietJet this time around, primarily because it was giving me the cheapest possible flying option; and I was up for a surprise.

The first thing that struck me about VietJet was its similarities to Virgin Airways, an then our own Kingfisher airlines when they first started: Preppy red color splashed on the plane, brand new planes (so brand new that seats were stiff a little stiff when you try to push them for recline); trim, enthusiastic, happy and sharp looking air hostesses, and a very interesting in flight dining menu!

Where else in the world do you find a fresh coconut served on board? And that too for $2. 

The tickets are quite cheap, almost 50% of the state owned Vietnam Airlines; however it is going down the path of delays right from the start, given that, and the state of airline industry in general all across the world, I would like to fly this aircraft as much as possible before the cash considerations come into picture! For instance, in the US, one of the biggest air travel hub, domestic airlines have made a total loss of $60 billion in last decade. That's a lot of money to lose! A very well written NY times article on it here. Though a quote sums it all up: 

“I’d say that the only harder thing to start up than an airline is a nuclear plant,” said Bill Diffenderffer, the former chief executive of Skybus.

Unfortunately, for my readers who really want to fly one of these brand new airlines, Vietjet flies only in Vietnam as of now!

Oh, and finally in case you have been reading the news lately - apparently the entire world has taken notice of this airlines, though only good 9 months after its launch - when the Vietnam government fined Vietjet for hosting a bikini show in the flight. I leave it to you to find more details!

Thursday, 16 August 2012

Vietnam Diaries #5: The Bus Journey!

Every day we have to commute almost 40 minutes to work, in the morning and in the evening! And to do so we use a van with 4 rows of seating! 

Every morning and we prod along, sometimes sleeping, sometimes chatting, sometimes lost in our thoughts, sometimes reading, sometimes busy in our iPads, and sometimes working away on our laptops (which is very bad!), I am always reminded of the times when I used to go to school like this.

There was no way that you would not pull hair of people sitting in front of you, and then fight with someone troubling you from back, throw paper balls, foil paper balls, air planes,   water, snatch food, mess up hair of people, pull their ties, dirty their shoes, remember to cut nails, and on rarely rare occasion - read about the class test due in the first period! 

Every day when I go in the morning I have inkling that one day, one good day the scene will return back to those childhood days of going to school! 

Sunday, 12 August 2012

Vietnam Diaries #4: A 200 KM bike trip, and being mini celebrities

All along the way we were treated to the beautiful countryside of Vietnam!

My friend was visiting from Singapore, and thus it was finally time to stay back in Saigon for the weekend and do the things around Saigon which I had never done! 

However, the work week, which allowed only a few hours of sleep everyday happened and it was 7:30 AM on the Saturday morning as we ran around from one Tourist company to other asking us to take to the Cu Chi Tunnels (one famous site of war) and Cao Dai Temple (a new religion blemished in Vietnam!). Well, o'course travel companies being extremely efficient had optimized everything and there was no room for us. 

After much deliberation we decided we will go to Cu Chi tunnels the next day, and will be a little adventurous today. We would rent motorbikes - the manual 50-70 cc Vietnamese one and will venture to Cao Dai Temple - a good 100 km away.

For those who don't know, driving in Vietnam is not for faint hearted; esp. driving a motorbike. It truly feels like being in a motorbike race with enormous number of participants. Well, I guess I will write separately on it.

Given I am from India, I can drive very easily in such mad traffic. Thus after taking elaborate directions and writing the Vietnamese phrase to ask for directions down on paper, and memorizing them, off we went (and none of our phones had GPS!)

The ride was great, though it was almost 35 degrees and the sun was beaming down on us. But well, again, both of us were from India and the weather in Delhi at the same time was 45 degrees. So we went on.

After driving almost continuously for 2 hours, and having covered only around 60 km - we decided to stop for iced coffee and something to eat on a giant roadside restaurant. Stepping in the restaurant, and on seeing huge glass jars with snakes and scorpions in them we immediately cancelled plans to eat and settled for a Coffee. (With my shaky Vietnamese I was able to convey that we are vegetarian and just want Coffee).

Deliberately a small picture, to minimize the effect!
It was almost 3 PM and we were another 20 km from the temple. We had been traveling for almost 4 hours and there was no way we were going to make it. I usually never turn back, and sometimes pushing yourself that extra bit is all it takes. But having recently read  'Into Thin Air' I was more appreciative how 'turning back' is a mature thing to do in itself. There was no way we wanted to be stuck far away in some countryside where not a single person spoke English. So, THAT close to the temple, and after having traveled so much we turned back!

The return journey was much more relaxed as we had ample time now on our hands to eat and chillax. Immediate priority after turning back was food - we hadn't had anything after breakfast! Being close to temple, we were in good luck - and we were able to find a veg place! 

It was a small place in middle of no where, and those people had apparently never seen foreigners. We created a mini-stir by stepping inside and conversing in half baked Vietnamese.We were quickly made to sit, given iced green tea to drink, followed by delicious bowls of vegetarian noodles soup. All this while the entire family gathered around us and tried to speak to us. I tried repeating multiple times 'toi khong hieu viet' to mean that I don't understand Vietnamese, but that did little to deter their enthusiasm. 

They repeated something several times of which I was only able to capture Xinh Dep meaning beautiful. Finally they pointed out the earrings on my friends ear and made signs to show that they really liked it. And then they tried asking her where's the nose ring? Apparently, they knew something about India afterall! We took off, but not before trying to speak to their daughter and giving our share of Kit Kat and Oreo to her. 

Smile Please! 
As we hit Saigon, it was already dark and was time for delayed 4'o clock rains. One of the heaviest downpour of my life hit me, but nevertheless we continued driving and covered another 15-20 km in that downpour hour with already mad city rush thrown into chaos! Our map became a lump by the time we reached.

What a day! I am sure my friend would be quite thankful to me, as little chances otherwise she would have got to experience all this in that short trip to Vietnam. I think I made her obnoxious Visa fees worth it.

Saturday, 11 August 2012

Vietnam Diaries #3: Tipping the Em

At the airport, after having conversed back and forth in English and Vietnamese that I want something vegetarian (or an chay) to eat at the airport cafe; I decided on 2 items each for 27,000 Dong (~ 1.3 USD). I handed her a 100,000 Dong note and she returned 50K. 

However, when I gave her 5,000 dong (i.e. around 25 cents) back she refused to take it. 
Only when I really insisted she took it and thanked me smiling profusely. I was a little confused where all this was going because I was just paying the money for what I had bought and this WAS a fixed priced shop.

Anywho, I left the counter with a Cam On Em (which is how you say thank you to women) and totally caught Cam On Ahn (which is how you say thank you to men!) which she said back to me. Satisfied that my basic Vietnamese is quiet perfect now, I walked away.

Shuffling with the receipt a little later I noticed that the bill was only of 50K and not of 54K as I was thinking! I could not stop laughing thinking what the Em would have thought of me trying to tip 25 cents to her!

I want to go back and explain it to her, but obviously I can’t, and would have to live for a while with this unsettling stupid feeling!

Thursday, 5 July 2012

Vietnam Diaries #2: "This guys grows his own food"

L: "You know what, he grew this in his room"
J: "Haha. You are joking"
L: "NOOOooooo"
J: "Ohhhhh. Really?"
L: "Yessss"
J: "I hope it is not something illegal like Marijuana"

The guy who grows his own food is me, and this conversation happened between my team-mates - none of who belong to India, and were aware of this 'food'.

The first time I brought it to the office to eat, no one was ready to believe that I grew it myself. 

"Like, you GREW this in your ROOM?"
"You must be kidding"
"Man, you are like a farmer, growing his own food"

L was so intrigued that she took pictures and sent it to her friends saying that this crazy guys grows his own food and brings it to eat in the office. So cool!

Back came the responses saying

"You are kidding!"
"This guy belongs to like our grandparent's generation!"
"Are you serious?"
"What is this thing?"
"Can he also grow other vegetables also in his room?"

The American and Vietnamese in the team refused to even taste even a morsel, while other Asians acted bold and ventured to taste it (and found it pretty nice!)

To say the least I am VERY surprised. You too will be when I say that the food is just bean sprouts. I got the green beans (moong) from home - when in hotel, I soak moong in water to make it sprout. Voila. I am a farmer in eyes of my team mate.

A part of the confusion came from the fact that in this part of the world (South East Asia) the sprouts are eaten when fully grown, that is when the bean totally disappears and only the sprout remains. I never knew that the sprouts can be grown so long! And they never knew that it can be grown so short.

So much for diversity :D. Next time I think I will grow black gram as well.

Saturday, 16 June 2012

Vietnam Diaries #1: Mysterious Death, of my virtual Pet

"It feels great to solve one of the mysteries you think you will never find an answer to…!!!"
     - Me, exclaiming after solving the mystery

Having a team at work with people from Thailand, Singapore, Malaysia (and India!), who have trotted around the world for studying or while working creates a fabulous environment. There is constant commotion, a buzz - as ideas are exchanged and anecdotes shared about things and places, facts and figures, religion and politics, and life of common people. This fine day the discussion was revolving around some pet one of my colleagues wanted to pet. I found it pretty funny because the pet was a Moss! But, well, it is a technically a pet as you have to feed it, take care of it, and it grows at some 20mm per year. Looking at my 'this is ridiculous' expression, L mentioned that this is at least better that Tamagotchi which was a rage during her childhood days. 

"Tama-whatta?", I had never heard of it. And what do you mean by virtual pet!

Everyone else in the room perked up - this famous virtual pet - originated in Japan, widely popular in China, South East Asia - apparently never reached in India. I couldn't believe my ears when I was told that a virtual pet was a simple gaming console with 3 buttons - it had to constantly fed, bathed, taken care of when it was sick bla bla through those 3 buttons, and if you don't take care of it - it died (and like in real life - no second chances!). People would compete on who's Tama lived for how long. And you can also marry 2 Tamas and have children and so on ... da da da.

I was still laughing at how funny this all sounds when I saw the picture of this Tama thing. It looks like this:

So far so good, and the topic moved on to me recounting the AOE days, and how today it is all DOTA when something suddenly clicked in my mind. I announced it aloud - 

"wow, that's it - I am sure this is it. Oh, man I can't believe it. Is it really it...", I couldn't believe this was happening. I couldn't believe that this mystery that I have been carrying around in neuron connection of my brain, this mystery is finally seeing the light of the day. That too without any conscious efforts. As if Waston had once thought about DNA's structure and then one day after several years - the right answer suddenly clicked him! 

Even though I never made a conscious effort to solve this in last 16 years, 16 years ago it had baffled me so much that I still have vivid memories of it.

"When was Jurassic Park released?"
"When was this Tama thing invented"
"Dude. I think I know now"

And I ran to my desk and started googling for images until I found this.

What odds that I found this picture because, this 1997 model is rare, and in around 400-500 pictures I browsed - there's just one picture of this Jurassic Park Tama (btw, this one is up for sale!)

All ends quickly tied in: It was a gift from a Japanese chap. Little did he know that I don't know what the heck this toy is, little did I know that he did not know that I did not know what the heck this toy is. I tried playing it with several times. I thought it was some game where some chap would run around jungle trying to get away from dinosaurs and all that, but nothing like that happened. After trying to endless use the keys, and failing to figure out what these keys do - I let the toy be, thinking I will return to it sometime later. I did try playing it after some time, but it wouldn't work. I asked everyone around why - no one knew - after its death I carried it around for some 5-6 years hoping for a miracle, which obviously didn't happen until today.

I was a kid then, I did not know that pets once dead can't be resurrected. Even though they are virtual pets.

Though I doubt I would have played with this after someone would have explained me what this game was! Though gaming is a peer effect I guess.

"Imagine how much time you saved during your childhood which you would have instead wasted on this", L pointed out. True that!

When I recounted this incident to a friend, prompt came the reply: "Oh, so Farmville replaced this toy. Wow!"