I’m very late with this post, but in case anyone’s still interested …
Fifty-two hours on the train, minus delays. That’s all I was thinking of as I huffed and puffed up the stairs at the Nizamuddin station. Shadan called frantically, ‘Where are you? The train is about to leave!’ And I reached, the very last person to board the train, but board I did. I was greeted by happy faces who looked all set for Goa.
Hmm … so was I the only one dreading the long journey back and forth? I had been on another such train journey to and from Bhubaneswar in 2007, which was an adventure of sorts—but that’s another story. I did, however, vividly recall Vibhor’s agitation during that journey: he was not long back from the US and couldn’t imagine how a trip between continents could take less time that it did between Delhi and Bhubaneswar. He was better reconciled to the travelling time during this journey. I guess he managed it by finding himself a job on the train: standing by and guarding the loos! As you can see, the angelic Mukesh helped him.
The others also seemed to have a well-planned agenda for the long journey, mostly involving cards ...
... or just generally sleeping through it all …
… but also some very serious reading.
And then there were those who seemed to be catching up on current events …
… but actually spent the time looking at pictures of hunks!
It’s quite surprising how quickly time flies when you’re with friends, and the hours did pass by pleasantly, listening to music, chatting, playing antakshari and watching movies.
And yes, I was the one who recommended Turtles Can Fly (it really is an excellent film), but poor Ashish and Anindita looked as if something had hit them, while Jonaki and Preeta just shook their heads at me, looking doubly disapproving because I had watched the film while listening to Springsteen on the iPod. (Don’t be too hasty in condemning me, dear readers: the film had subtitles and I’d seen it before!)
For some strange reason, Airtel had decided to paint over all the windows of the train, thereby blocking our view of the outside, so we kept the doors open to the beautiful scenery and hung out there.
And then we reached, our co-passengers clearly looking relieved that we were off the train, while the onslaught was about to hit the hotel. A blush of bougainvilleas greeted us, and despite the initial mayhem of finding our rooms, we were keen to find out more about Goa. We started off in the afternoon, a gang of us, and walked down to Dona Paula, a lookout point near our hotel. It was cloying, muggy weather, but the walk, the view of lovely Portuguese-style houses on our way, and our first view of the sea refreshed and excited us. We were now prepared (or so we believed!) for the days of presentations ahead.
On the next day, after Vivek started out with a look at the company’s performance through the past year and what we’re looking at in the coming one, Sanjeev, Hitesh, Saravanan, Naval, Sanjay, Srini, the regional sales managers and Angshuman talked to us about performances in their respective divisions. I’m always surprised, given Saravanan’s reserved nature, at how funny and quirky his presentations are. And though I did know that the warehouse was being upgraded, Sanjay Khanduja’s presentation was an eye-opener in terms of the amount of work involved in the upgrade.
In the next couple of days, our editorial presentations did go well, despite last-minute revisions late into the night. I won’t bore everyone with the details, but since most of our department had stayed back in Delhi for work, the HSS presentations were being handled largely by Praveen (Dev), with a couple of us pitching in.
Anindita presented with us, and she completely impressed me with her thorough product knowledge and precision.
And so the days passed, ending with an awards ceremony, which for the first time included editorial awards. Jonaki and Shabnam from development and Praveen Tiwari, Sachin and Praveen Dev from commissioning got well-deserved recognition for their work. Thomas got kudos for making ESM the most successful department. Among the other awards, we were all impressed by Tapan Saha’s proaction, which served the company well as a whole (instead of particular divisions) and set a great precedent. Way to go, everyone!
While during the day we were sober, rational people, in the evenings, the full moon and the waves transported even the most hard-nosed and sceptical amongst us to another world. Fire-eaters and limbo dancers helped us stay in that heady world. We partied hard, dancing away into the night, playing in the casino and singing as if there was no tomorrow. Even Srini joined in! You must see the video at http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=f3jRdkb3jIU (Thanks, Ashish, for uploading the videos!) You'll find more NSM videos on Youtube under 'alexblooz'.
Vivek was caught in this FM fever, and I’m sure at least initially wondered how he could make a safe escape …
… but he seemed to have made peace with it later.
On the last day—our day off—there were the water sports (I had the most marvellous time watching the sunset at Baga beach while high up on a parasail), the trip on the Mandovi river, the snacking at the beach shacks, and loads of fun doing everything. We also went to a quiet and picturesque beach called ‘Coco’ to watch dolphins and found that it houses the central jail of Goa.
As I travelled back from Goa, heavier by a wealth of information from our sales teams, two Portuguese wine bottles, and many great experiences, I felt that every bit of the 52 hours on the train had been worth it.
I’m very late with this post, but in case anyone’s still interested …
We said goodbye to our old office at Patparganj and hello to our new swank premises at NOIDA. Here are some moments caught in motion (and commotion) on the last day at work. It’s amazing how many people wanted photos of themselves at their old desks! Follow this link: http://picasaweb.google.com/shinjini.c/WorkShifts#
Robert E Kennedy, the author of The Services Shift: Seizing the Ultimate Offshore Oppurtunity, talks about the future of India as an offshore destination, policy changes in the U.S to keep jobs, about slowdown etc. Read the interview at http://www.financialexpress.com/news/buy-american-does-not-come-free/443555/2.
A.C Fernando , author of Business Ethics: An Indian Perspective, talks about his book and business ethics in general. To watch the videos on youtube, click here
From the day I last attended Patparganj office I was excited to see my new office. As I made myself sure to reach the office as early as possible the day started with water running out of order in the morning at my home and when this was fixed to add to woes I was lost finding the shortest way to reach the office. But once I reached what I saw was really astounding work of architect, this was the place, atmosphere, ambience etc.I ever wanted to work, in one word, I was awestruck.
The setting was perfect and we joined at the prayer, thanks to Nav, Shadab, John, and Sanjeev. It continued to with funny games and quizzes, the most liked was the musical chair and the tele shopping skit played by the school team. Babita finally won this contest with Navin being proactive contender until his survival. Rambir’s nostalgic speech won lots of applause and continued with beer guzzling and cake feast.
Bheja Fry show was delayed a lil’ bit but was packed full house with patient audiences who were looking forward to this first day first day flick. I didn’t turn up to this show as I look up to see some real bollywood potboiler someday.
To me this new place of work bring great positive energy and space to prosper and achieve our aspirations.
An invention that could change the internet for ever
The new system, Wolfram Alpha, showcased at
Although the system is still new, it has already produced massive interest and excitement among technology pundits and internet watchers.
Computer experts believe the new search engine will be an evolutionary leap in the development of the internet. Nova Spivack, an internet and computer expert, said that Wolfram Alpha could prove just as important as Google. "It is really impressive and significant," he wrote. "In fact it may be as important for the web (and the world) as Google, but for a different purpose.
Tom Simpson, of the blog Convergenceofeverything.com, said: "What are the wider implications exactly? A new paradigm for using computers and the web? Probably. Emerging artificial intelligence and a step towards a self-organising internet? Possibly... I think this could be big."
Wolfram Alpha will not only give a straight answer to questions such as "how high is Mount Everest?", but it will also produce a neat page of related information – all properly sourced – such as geographical location and nearby towns, and other mountains, complete with graphs and charts.
The real innovation, however, is in its ability to work things out "on the fly", according to its British inventor, Dr Stephen Wolfram. If you ask it to compare the height of Mount Everest to the length of the
Dr Wolfram, an award-winning physicist who is based in
"I've wanted to make the knowledge we've accumulated in our civilisation computable," he said last week. "I was not sure it was possible. I'm a little surprised it worked out so well."
Dr Wolfram, 49, who was educated at Eton and had completed his PhD in particle physics by the time he was 20, added that the launch of Wolfram Alpha later this month would be just the beginning of the project.
"It will understand what you are talking about," he said. "We are just at the beginning. I think we've got a reasonable start on 90 per cent of the shelves in a typical reference library."
The engine, which will be free to use, works by drawing on the knowledge on the internet, as well as private databases. Dr Wolfram said he expected that about 1,000 people would be needed to keep its databases updated with the latest discoveries and information.
He also added that he would not go down the road of storing information on ordinary people, although he was aware that others might use the technology to do so.
Wolfram Alpha has been designed with professionals and academics in mind, so its grasp of popular culture is, at the moment, comparatively poor. The term "50 Cent" caused "absolute horror" in tests, for example, because it confused a discussion on currency with the American rap artist. For this reason alone it is unlikely to provide an immediate threat to Google, which is working on a similar type of search engine, a version of which it launched last week.
"We have a certain amount of popular culture information," Dr Wolfram said. "In some senses popular culture information is much more shallowly computable, so we can find out who's related to who and how tall people are. I fully expect we will have lots of popular culture information. There are linguistic horrors because if you put in books and music a lot of the names clash with other concepts."
He added that to help with that Wolfram Alpha would be using Wikipedia's popularity index to decide what users were likely to be interested in.
With Google now one of the world's top brands, worth $100bn, Wolfram Alpha has the potential to become one of the biggest names on the planet.
Dr Wolfram, however, did not rule out working with Google in the future, as well as Wikipedia. "We're working to partner with all possible organisations that make sense," he said. "Search, narrative, news are complementary to what we have. Hopefully there will be some great synergies."
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