6 January 2020

An interesting dilemma… what do you think?

This news article from USA Today talks about the twins born in two different decades. One was born on Dec 31, 2019 and the other on Jan 1, 2020.

First off, congratulations to the parents. I never had twins but I suspect they are awesome fun to raise (a little more work though, I presume). (Knowing me, I would have a large excel spreadsheet of similarities and dissimilarities as they grew up).

Now to my real point. The “spreadsheet numbers guy” in me is having difficulty with the thought that the kids were born in two different decades. Two different years, yes. But two different decades? Not so fast.

The Gregorian calendar starts from Jan 1, 1 AD. (Anything before that was BC. And the previous year was 1 BC. There was no year 0). That would mean, the first decade would have lasted from Jan 1, 1 AD to Dec 31, 10 AD. The second decade would have started on Jan 1, 11 AD. And ended on Dec 31, 20 AD.

If you keep going forward, you will realize that this current decade started on Jan 1, 2011 and will end on Dec 31, 2020. Therefore, we really have not moved on to another decade. That will happen this year end.

(Of course, the non-numbers part of me wants to disregard logic and call everything that is XXX0 to XXX9 to be a decade and just sheepishly admit that our first decade was a year short)

What do you think?



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3 January 2020

From the poems of Abdul Hameed Adam

This particular rendition is by Ghulam Ali.

“saki sharaab la ki tabiyat udaas hai
mutrib rubab utha ki tabiat udaas hai
hai husn ka fusoon bhi ilaj-e-fasurdagi
rukh se naqab utha ki tabiyat udaas hai”

Before I attempt to explain…
Some background about the poet: Pakistan born, employed by the Indian Army, served in Iran and Iraq during the second World War, took to heavy drinking after seeing the violence of the War

Also “saki” refers to the lady who serves you the drink at the tavern

Now my attempt to explain a language that I have only a fleeting exposure to…

“Saki, please bring the wine: for I feel depressed today
Musician, please pick up your instrument: for I feel depressed today
The charm in your beauty is the only medicine for my distress
Please lift your veil, my love: for I feel depressed today”

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2 January 2020

This is why I do not read news any more

Was trying to check how the market did today and this popped up in finance.yahoo.com Really? We are surveying the public on whether somebody is guilty or innocent? Are we back to the medieval days of meting out justice? I bet most people who have an opinion on Ghosn do not even know how to pronounce his name. Also probably cannot point out where the country he has fled to (Lebanon) is on a world map.

Who cares about my opinion on whether he is guilty or not? Why not let the legal and jurisdiction system take its course?

I understand that some may be frustrated with the time taken by such systems or the system itself. But taking opinions from people like me who understand very little of the actual subject matter let alone the complications of inter-country jurisdiction and laws is just a way of whipping of passions for no good, if you ask me.

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1 January 2020

Lessons learnt as a CEO – part three of three

Last couple of weeks, we used metaphors from childhood life and teenager life to explain my lessons as a CEO. In this third and last lesson, I will take you all the way to old age.

Lesson 3: Get ready to be lonely

This hits you hard when you become the CEO the first time. Especially, if it is not a small start up kind of environment. Till the point that you became a CEO, you always had people you could “freely” chat with. There were some of your peers that you were close with. If you expressed a company-contrarian point of view over drinks with your direct reports, nobody thought the company was thinking of changing direction the next day.

What I learnt is that all that goes away the day you become a CEO.

It is truly – and the only – peerless job. When everything is said and done, it is you and you only who will carry the weight of having to make decisions. You can get all the opinions you want from everybody – and in an ideal world, you should get conflicting opinions – but then you have to close the door, close your eyes (or perhaps go for a long walk if that is your style) and make the decision. All by yourself.

Your ability to express your points of views will be severely curtailed. If you prematurely express your thoughts, it will unfortunately have the effect of shutting down everybody – well, most. The organization does not read your thoughts as merely thoughts. They read it as your commands/decisions. You can ask folks “What do you think if we did….” and rest assured that more often than not, there is a Chinese whisper going around in the organization the next day that “apparently we are headed in the direction of ….”. Communication is tough.

I have heard advise from others about forming a sounding board around myself with current or ex-CEOs from outside and Board members. I have found such folks either not having a great familiarity with the context or of very little operational experience to be of much use. It is good to hear their points of views but I am not sure there are silver bullets anybody will have for you.

So, like it or not, it is going to be you and you only. With often suppressed ability to be open.

Just like in old age, your life (work life at least) is going to be very lonely. You need to get ready for it.

1 January 2020

While no Abbey Road…

… this was a classic picture taken by Natasha. Sharmila, Nikita and I had left for the airport. The Roys from Dallas, Haldars from Minneapolis and Sanyals from New York hung back with Natasha for some time. Then Natasha hailed an Uber to go back to her apartment. Just as they turned the corner on Broadway, she spotted the Beatles like moment with the three families crossing the road!!

1 January 2020

A logic/mathematical puzzle to start the New Year

Sunil Roy and I were strolling down the road – somewhere in Chelsea area with the rest of the family – when he posed an interesting puzzle for me. See if you can get it.

To give everybody a chance, refrain from posting the answer in the Comments section. Send me a personal message and I will put your name up if you solved it.

You have two dices. One has 1 thru 6 painted on its faces like a normal dice. The other has blank on every face. You can write down any integer number 1,2,3… on each of the blank faces of the second dice. You can even leave it blank – which would stand for 0. You are allowed to repeat the numbers (you can have two faces with the same number).

The question is: What numbers would you paint on the six faces of the second dice such that:

(*) When the two dice are rolled together, the sum total of the two faces up can be any integer between 1 and 12 AND
(*) The probability of any of those integers (meaning the sum of the two faces up being 1 or 2 or 3… or 12) is exactly the same.

You can assume that the two dices are unbiased. (It will be completely random which face will show up)

1 January 2020

When 15 Bengalis get together…

… a gargantuan feast cannot be too far behind. Especially, if you throw in the reckless wanton of the New Year’s spirit to go with it. Even the chefs at the Grand Sichuan were going “Dude! We got to eat too!!” Speaking of reckless wanton…. that wonton soup was to die for!!

That was excellent food! And it was great to have the four families from Dallas, Atlanta, Minneapolis and New York together for the New Year’s!