Wear Sunscreen

I hope the writer will not sue me for borrowing the title :). Today a friend of mine shared this song. Honestly, this song has done something to me. I do not what, I do not how, I do not know why, but something has changed.

I have re-played the song many times since I heard it first. When I looked up Wikipedia for some info, I found this. Here is the original article in Chicago Tribune. Even if you read the article, I would recommend that you watch the video. It gives an altogether different angle to it. May be I am exaggerating. May be its impulsive. But what the heck. 🙂

How beautiful it would have been if the song was played on our Convocation Day. I will not write much as the song itself says it all.

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Kitchen musings: A thought on life

Life can be imagined to be like a serving of vegetable platter: Some items taste good, some do not.

Yup, Life is one such preparation. Some moments are as per our taste and we enjoy them, while the others are not that enjoyable. In fact, I think you can extend this analogy to almost anything in life (including people) and not just situations. This can be due to various reasons: uneven amounts of ingredients like salt, pepper, absence of some important component and all that stuff. But the most important thing to note here is that you yourself are the cook. 🙂 So, choose your recipe wisely.

Another interesting thought to ponder upon: If you do not know how to cook, should you try it using a manual first? Hmm..

Bon appétit!

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Higher studies, MS, MBA

If I am not wrong, most of my colleagues and batch-mates are thinking of doing either of these or have probably joined a course in some college. I do not have the statistics though.

But I think that 2 years into corporate world, and most of us are looking for either a change or some add-on to their career. But how do you decide which one to opt for? What is the criteria to chose any of these career paths? Well, I think that there is no (or rather should not be one) set criteria. Its a personal choice. And it depends on lots of factors.

A lot has already been said on this topic (try googling “MBA vs MS”). I am not going to tell you here what you ought to do, nobody can tell you that, but only a couple of questions, that you must ask yourself before going for it. These questions are based on what I experience, so they might not even be valid for some of you. Let’s get straight to the point then.

Q) Am I going for further studies simply because I am frustrated with my job or am desperate?

This would probably be the first question that I would ask before going any further. Think about it, are you trying to go for the degree just because you are fed up of your job and you want a change? Or is it some sort of peer pressure (most of your batch-mates and colleagues have joined good colleges for any program)? If your answer to any of these questions is yes, then I would suggest you to re-think and then decide instead of acting on impulse. In the long run, its going to harm you only. Look at it this way: If you change your job and will probably be happy about it, then is it worth spending 2-3 years in college again? You can earn much more work experience (and eventually a decent pay-check) in these years. However, if this is not the case, read on.

Q) Am I simply opting for MBA because it is the “IN” thing? Everybody is doing it, so it must be the right thing to do.

This is a continuation of a point that I mentioned in response to the earlier question, regarding peer pressure. However, this relates to another issue that is seen in our society: Mob Behaviour. Most of us think that if everybody is doing it, it must be OK. This goes for every decision that we take, not only education, but that’s another topic for discussion. What we should realise is that if everybody is doing it, that does not necessarily mean that its going to benefit you as well. One has to act as per his own situation and priorities, and decide accordingly.

I guess there is also a strong money factor involved here. MBA grads from top colleges get decent packages. If your aim is money, then you probably would not bother what kind of job it is. You can choose a course that has more chances of paying you a higher package. Also, do try to find out your tentative packages for both cases: If you do not go to college and go for a regular job, and second, if you go to a college to pursue some degree, and then get a job.

Whichever path you take, the important thing is you must know what you want to do with your life. Easier said than done, but you can always try.

Fix the lifestyle you want. Then work backwards from there. – Cal Newport

Some related resources:

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Just an Observation

Often we hear our elders saying that our generation is different from theirs in lot many ways.

One thing in particular being that the current generation is relatively less aware and alert politically than they were back then. Also, that at times, we lack the motivation and enthusiasm necessary to do stuff that would be beneficial for the country. Sometimes they also say it in a different way: “Today’s generation is smart and practical”. I can neither agree with them nor deny them. We both might be right from certain perspectives. We might be smart and practical thanks to technology and global exposure, and I wonder what they mean when they say practical. But this bugs me sometimes and honestly I also feel that they might be right. I see this in my field as well. After graduation, only a limited no. of students opt for research. Now, even Army is feeling the heat.

I recently came across a famous speech by Richard Hamming that he gave at Bell Labs, titled You and Your Research. Its a really inspiring speech and has lots of lessons for life, that must often be read. At the end of the speech there were some Q/A asked. One question caught my eye, something that I often find asking myself:

Question: The remarks about having courage, no one could argue with; but those of us who have gray hairs or who are well established don’t have to worry too much. But what I sense among the young people these days is a real concern over the risk taking in a highly competitive environment. Do you have any words of wisdom on this?

Hamming: I’ll quote Ed David more. Ed David was concerned about the general loss of nerve in our society. It does seem to me that we’ve gone through various periods. Coming out of the war, coming out of Los Alamos where we built the bomb, coming out of building the radars and so on, there came into the mathematics department, and the research area, a group of people with a lot of guts. They’ve just seen things done; they’ve just won a war which was fantastic. We had reasons for having courage and therefore we did a great deal. I can’t arrange that situation to do it again. I cannot blame the present generation for not having it, but I agree with what you say; I just cannot attach blame to it. It doesn’t seem to me they have the desire for greatness; they lack the courage to do it. But we had, because we were in a favorable circumstance to have it; we just came through a tremendously successful war. In the war we were looking very, very bad for a long while; it was a very desperate struggle as you well know. And our success, I think, gave us courage and self confidence; that’s why you see, beginning in the late forties through the fifties, a tremendous productivity at the labs which was stimulated from the earlier times. Because many of us were earlier forced to learn other things – we were forced to learn the things we didn’t want to learn, we were forced to have an open door – and then we could exploit those things we learned. It is true, and I can’t do anything about it; I cannot blame the present generation either. It’s just a fact.

Then it hit me. Often what the elders say, might be right, but its just that they probably are not looking at it the way Hamming described it. To understand in a better way, let’s look at the situation in more detail.

The time that the earlier generation used to live in was really chaotic. India had just gained independence, the nation building process had just started, and loads of things were to be done. The whole nation had participated in the Independence movement, following and supporting Mahatma Gandhi, Pandit Jawaharlal Nehru and other great leaders. Back then they had, as Hamming puts it: tasted the success of their hard work and courage. People had really earned their independence and therefore they knew its value. They had suffered greatly under the British regime. They fought back and had eventually won the battle. They knew that only half of the job was accomplished and the other big task of building the nation from scratch remained. It had to be a collaborative effort.

At such point, it is bound to happen that one would find himself brimming with confidence and enthusiasm. That desire to create something new; that feeling of doing something for the nation, something that they had very recently experienced; it was still fresh. And it was this very feeling that triggered people to do something. Motivation and strong will are the 2 major forces that drive a person to accomplish whatever task he decides to do. Back then, people had both: The motivation from the fact that they had played a key role in the freedom struggle and their efforts reaped rich results, and the strong will to carry on with the same zeal that was in a way catalysed by this very motivation. These teachings were subsequently passed on to the next generation which might also have had a glimpse of that period. This is probably the generation to which our parents belong to.

Compare that to today, phew, we have so many things to do everyday! People do not have time to think about themselves, leave aside anything else. And in all this hustle-bustle, somewhere we are slowly forgetting that we are indebted to our nation. Again, I am not trying to criticize and teach you anything new here. I am just putting up my thoughts on how I see it. Simply paying your taxes does not count as doing your duty. The 2 major forces come into picture here as well: Motivation and strong will. I even think that strong will is not in question here. It then boils down to motivation. What stops us from getting motivated to do our bit for the well being of this country? Well, what does not!! Materialistic and corrupt society, preference to individual over the nation, fast paced lifestyle, etc. Everything that we are surrounded by. Another important contributor to this phenomenon were the economic reforms of 1991.

What can we do then? Does it really come to the so called values and culture of our country? I would say yes, in a way. Its essentially the value and culture that are being passed on since ages. Our grandparents taught those to our parents and so on. Of course, we have every right to question them and not follow them blindly. But think about this: How do we learn about our past? Through books, through the teachings passed down from our parents and grandparents, isn’t it? To inculcate all these values into our lives blindly would be foolish but so would be to ignore them without pondering upon them! Societies change in due course of time but the core values should and must be preserved. We cannot create or simulate situations similar to that in our past, but we can try learning from their outcomes.

One might argue that where does culture and values come into picture here. Well, I am trying to comprehend the way our elders thought when they were young, compared to us. And also the kind of environment that they were brought up into. That affects one’s attitude and the way one leads his life. I am trying to understand what is the difference in the society that we are living in now and that was there 60 years ago and how it made all the difference in an individual’s attitude. The values and culture are links between these societies that act as a type of benchmark.

Apart from the points mentioned above, the other big motivational factor was the presence of great leaders. They were the heroes of the masses. They had led the battle to free the country. Everybody wanted to be like them. And I would even say that this factor must have often surpassed their own motivational reasons. Compare that to today, people hardly take interest in politics. The corruption level in the bureaucratic system is so high that I think most of us have given up any hope that it is still possible to get back on track from here. Why then bother knowing anything about it. But politics is an essential part of the democratic system and however polluted it might be, something has to be done about it.

In a nutshell, my point being that when its said that we lack motivation and enthusiasm, its right but its not something for which we can be blamed blatantly. We were born and brought up in a post liberalisation era, where talks of nationalism and patriotism were rare. On the flip side, ask yourself a question: How many people you know celebrate their patriotism on days other than 15th August and 26th January? I am not saying that all is lost. We have young people who are still carrying forward that enthusiasm and working hard for the country. In fact now it requires more courage and confidence than ever before to do so, as this is something different from our normal lifestyle of today. There are youngsters in the army, in research, and in many other fields. Though the drop in the number does raise some concerns. But I think as time progresses, more and more of us will try to do our bit. We humans are like this aren’t we: we wake up only at the last minute.

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Welcome to my blog. Today I start a new chapter with this blog(infact the site) , where I will be sharing my thoughts, experiences and ideas with you all. Well, as a start, let me introduce myself. My name is Vishu and I am a software developer from India. Apart from my work, I like getting involved in various other activities like reading, movies, cricket, travelling etc. You can have a brief overview about me by visiting the About me section link on the right. Since I am new to the blogoshpere, I don’t know what else to write, but let’s see what you might expect as we will proceed further with this blog.

At the very outset, I would like to tell you that the contents of the blog will not be restricted to any specific genre. I believe in being the jack of all things and master of none (..ok some). The blog content will vary from politics to philosophy to human behavior(..heavy stuff ?). At times, there will be posts that make no sense at all. Sometimes they will be the outcome of what I experience, and sometimes, just one of my many whims. One thing that you may find peculiar in most of the posts will be the questions in various forms. Here, I would like to bring to your attention the title of the blog.

I believe that in your day-to-day lives as well, you must have, or you will, come across such situations where you often question yourself. Be it your personal life, your daily office musings, or in general, the environment around you. The people around you as well. This blog would be one such place, where will I ask myself, and will simultaneously try to reason the thoughts that come to my mind. This is where I would discuss and debate upon them. Some discussions might be futile, some might yield some positive results. That, only time will tell.

Well then,you can find me here anytime. I hope I’ll see you around. Cheers!

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