Monday, May 19, 2008

Story of a lunch box

First day to Engineering College November 20, 2000. Amma and acha were excited for their son starting his graduation. My amma was so relieved that her son is joining an institute near to our house, a "day scholar" in our dictionaries. Like school days she woke me up early and was behind me to speed up things to catch the 8 am bus to college. After getting blessings from acha and ammumma i was ready to leave, suddenly amma stepped into the picture and gave me a "tiffin carrier" (an indian term term for a lunch box). My friend raman was waiting for me at the front gate and gave a ridiculous look at me which said "bloody nursery kid". I felt a bit embarassed but didn't want to disappoint amma so took it along and hid it deep inside the bag. On the way to bus stop i learnt that raman had a similar box too. Sometimes two is a company isn't it? Reached college and met a lot of new friends most of them stayed in a hostel who had their lunch in hostel mess ( it really is a mess!!!). And others went for lunch in the college canteen where chandrettan (proud college canteen owner) purposefully added more masala that day to seduce the hungry stomachs out there. He said to me with a grin "Todays special is Garlic Chicken". Man it looked so inviting but kya kare i have a genie in my bag too. Went to the class room to fetch the lunch box, no one was around and i did not feel like eating alone. A walk past the college verandah saw a lot of girls sitting either side of an aisle that led to a room and eating in their lunch box and as always chatter box in full volume. Went to raman even he did not have lunch, and said to me "Only Girls bring Lunch Box da!!!" that was the sucker punch dialogue my ears wished to hear it sounded like hotel california to me. i decided to skip my lunch, for sure not from the lunch box.

That day evening amma opened the lunch box and saw it returned the same way she packed it. Not a grain of rice moved. She asked me "If you dont want rice i could have packed roti for you". Busy with my PC i replied "I did not get time ma, also no body brings lunch to college." She felt bad and her face became pale. I added "Amma, from tomorrow raman is also not going to bring lunch, he says only girls bring lunch to college." Amma adores raman a lot, coz of his honest and simple nature. Sometimes she thinks if raman does something it should be correct. This gave her a bit relief, but still she asked "Is food good out there? ". This interested me, i started explaining her all sorts of thing about the canteen. The food, the smell , the crowd in the canteen, even the big moustache of chandrettan which reminded me of Ravanan himself in teleserial ramayana. Though amma was not convinced, acha knew the fact that more than the food its the teenage pride is what at stake nothing else. With a smile he said to amma "If he wants to have lunch outside let him have it, he is old enough to think about himself. And more over how many days he will eat your curd rice and sambhar". Next four years that old lunch box was secluded into an old almirah of ours. No one disturbed him for ever it still sleeps there, or else amma would have given to some kid in her school.

Things changed, life went a software engineer now(unknowingly), working in a distant country far from my home and country in the United States of America. Recently i joined a new office in Easton, Columbus. Its about 17 miles from where i live, so i cannot drive back home for lunch. And food in the cafeteria is not suiting my tastes. A lot of cheese in all food items doesn't get along with my taste buds. Tried restaurants and fast food places around the office, options are limited as i can see. This is when i returned to my old forgotten friend my "lunch box". Not the same one i had in india, but its distant american cousin i would say. As it served the same purpose. Now daily morning when i fill my lunch box with rice/roti/paratha/bread i remember the day i said 'NO' to my mom's sweet lunch box. I wish i could get back to that day and have a hefty meal from my mom packed lunch box, until then its a not-so-good-self-cooked-food in a tiny lunch box of mine. Sometimes money cant buy you everything right friends??

Friday, May 2, 2008

An Autobiography of a Software Engineer from India Inc

Warning : Before reading this Be prepared. Coz while writing I was not.

My boss has a very good sense of humour, here is one such incident that happened recently.

In a busy day with endless conference calls, same time meeting, code reviews, test plans etc etc.
He asked me "How old are you kid?"
I was thinking what bad timing to ask a stupid question. Still I replied gleefully "24"
He asked "really??" he looked puzzled by every means.
To confirm I said "Yes Sir" .....though behind in my mind i was calculating.
After thinking for a while he said "Do you know what a birth certificate is??"
I smiled and said "Yes sir we do have birth certificates in india and 90% of times they are true"
He was at his best teasing, but he continued "i really cant understand at this age how you chose a career for yourself? My son is 25 and he is finding it difficult to think on what he needs to do?"
After a pause he said "you might be producing engineers in a factory, not in a college" :)

That day evening i came back and was thinking about the circumstances and environment that makes us poor indians nothing but a software engineer. A very venomous breed as my dad says "you guys have everything in life hefty paycheques, sporty bikes, cars, friends, freedom...but no idea on what so ever about the work you do" i tend to just see of his sarcasm always but this punch line somewhere was bothering me... Upon thinking on it i feel, We software engineers are a dangerous lot. Here are a few pointers to guide you through.

Money : compared to the previous generation of ours we are making quite a dime out here. Most of us have no idea what our salary is, though we speak about ctc's and take homes we dont give a shit about 100-200 rupees less/more. We are the biggest reason for inflation in our country, i cant say its buying power its more like "shit load of money" any time in a month we are rich/poor no guarantee upon it.
LifeStyle: Our motto is live life king size, groped by the tarantino and bond flicks we tend to spend on all useless things from leather to steel to god knows what. A party or a treat is a must, even if cat in your gave birth to a kitten sometimes its that ridiculous.
Time: Ohh you said it, "Time can i get some of it". We dont have time for anything at all. "Sorry my friend i could not call you on your wedding day was kinda busy with some deployments" .."Ooops dont think i forgot your birthday..was just a bit busy(you bet)"... "Look dude i dont have time to listen to you..i gotta go some testing to be finished" "Ohh dinner this weekend...hmmmm..sorry boss..i have prod call this weekend..DR testing you know..shit!!" I can quote all day if you want, the fact is we dont have time. Software engineers just have 12 hours a day not 24 like you.
Work: The kind of work we(i must admit in this context we is "most of us") do just needs common sense and experience. But we like to boast about it a lot, touch wood if one day goes down or the copy,paste functionality goes away in computers we all are doomed. I would love to see the share values of all software biggies that day...
Love: This one is not only the girlfriend/boyfriend in our lives but its the complete package that includes dad,mom,bro,sis,doggy,uncles,aunties all of them. Because of the above factors and a predominant pressure cooker environment at office our love-nerves are very weak. Most of the time in a busy schedule we speak to our loved ones on phone, we speak so much on phone that we are in love with our phones. My room mate sleeps with his mobile on his chest that has jyothika's picture in it. He feels his SonyEriccsson W800i is his jyothika. So our love is nothing but our mobiles. Some call their mobiles their soul partner coz she knows it all.

Having said all this 0% bullshit, i think my skillset were always aligned and synchronous for making me into a good software engineer.

Following two attributes we own and improvise a lot at office and these are the same skills (luckily) i had in me from childhood :

First one is copying. The biggest amount of work we do is "Ctrl+C, Ctrl+V" which means copy code from some website and paste it in our application code. I was always good at copying, ask all my classmates i would even copy their names at the end of the exams in the test papers. My buddy ramakrishnan can tell you a barn full of stories about my copying skills.

The next one is marketing, its not like "selling icecubes in iceland" its even difficult. First you need is a poker face and a vocabulary that can confuse anyone. Chew up your daily dose of technical geek are there. One such sentence is "The logic is to leverage the sustained rise of accounts in a post processor environment". Gods of ours will find it difficult to understand it let alone our clients.

My Software Engineering Teacher Mrs.Sheela taught us "Software Engineering is a complex subject, Its a systematic, disciplined approach to make softwares". A few years in this lane you will understand she was correct its complex for sure rest of it am not pretty sure.

The competent programmer is fully aware of the strictly limited size of his own skull; therefore he approaches the programming task in full humility, and among other things he avoids clever tricks like the plague.--Edsger Dijkstra

Thursday, May 1, 2008

A Message by George Carlin

This is a forward i received from my buddy, i wanted to share this with y'all. Its worth reading once.

Isn't it amazing that George Carlin - comedian of the 70's and 80's - could write something so very eloquent...and so very appropriate.

Who is George Carlin?
Dig this

What a difference a sad event in someone's life makes. - GEORGE CARLIN

A Message by George Carlin:

The paradox of our time in history is that we have taller buildings but shorter tempers, wider Freeways ,but narrower viewpoints. We spend more, but have less, we buy more, but enjoy less. We have bigger houses and smaller families, more conveniences, but less time. We have more degrees but less sense, more knowledge, but less judgment, more experts, yet more problems, more medicine, but less wellness.
We drink too much, smoke too much, spend too recklessly, laugh too little, drive too fast, get too angry, stay up too late, get up too tired, read too little, watch TV too much, and pray too seldom.
We have multiplied our possessions, but reduced our values. We talk too much, love too seldom, and hate too often.
We've learned how to make a living, but not a life. We've added years to life not life to years. We've been all the way to the moon and back, but have trouble crossing the street to meet a new neighbor. We conquered outer space but not inner space. We've done larger things, but not better things.
We've cleaned up the air, but polluted the soul. We've conquered the atom, but not our prejudice. We write more, but learn less. We plan more, but accomplish less. We've learned to rush, but not to wait. We build more computers to hold more information, to produce more copies than ever, but we communicate less and less.
These are the times of fast foods and slow digestion, big men and small character, steep profits and shallow relationships. These are the days of two incomes but more divorce, fancier houses, but broken homes. These are days of quick trips, disposable diapers, throwaway morality, one night stands, overweight bodies, and pills that do everything from cheer, to quiet, to kill. It is a time when there is much in the showroom window and nothing in the stockroom. A time when technology can bring this letter to you, and a time when you can choose either to share this insight, or to just hit delete...
Remember; spend some time with your loved ones, because they are not going to be around forever.
Remember, say a kind word to someone who looks up to you in awe, because that little person soon will grow up and leave your side.
Remember, to give a warm hug to the one next to you, because that is the only treasure you can give with your heart and it doesn't cost a cent.
Remember, to say, "I love you" to your partner and your loved ones, but most of all mean it. A kiss and an embrace will mend hurt when it comes from deep inside of you.
Remember to hold hands and cherish the moment for someday that person will not be there again.
Give time to love, give time to speak! And give time to share the precious thoughts in your mind.
Life is not measured by the number of breaths we take, but by the moments that take our breath away.

George Carlin