14 January 2014

Learnt something new!

Was a panel speaker at Armed Forces Communication and Electronics Association event (“Big Data and Predictive Analytics in Fraud”) in DC today. I was the only person from the industry and this was absolutely my first time speaking at a government conference.
Learnt the hard way that you should always wear a national flag pin when you are a speaker at a government event.
Fortunately, one of my colleagues had one to spare!!!


14 January 2014

Side benefits…

Came to speak at an event in DC. Ended up meeting a long lost friend, philosopher and guide. Met Hari last in April 1983! He was one year senior to me in my MBA school. Following his guidance, I went for a summer training in COSL. And then following his advise, I took up a job there a year later. One of the dream places as a first job. Great learning, great people, great technologies! Could not have received better advice.

Nearly 21 years later, Hari still looks the same and as that same infectious loud laughter. The only difference is that he has become a hotshot CIO in DC area now!! I had totally forgotten that he married a colleague and friend of mine. (I am sure Mala is going to kill me). Otherwise, I would have made efforts to meet her too!

An interesting find this evening….
Hari yesterday played golf (he is big into golf) in California with a friend of his. A little bit of prodding led to the discovery that his friend’s wife worked in my team in i2!!!

It was absolutely fabulous getting to see him after nearly 21 years and reconnecting…


13 January 2014

What was that again?

I will not mention who the subject of this story is – for, like most others, I value my life too – but it was too hilarious not to share.

It was a Sunday afternoon – and like most Sunday afternoons, I was going around doing my business – which means mostly doing maintenance work inside and outside the house and cleaning and organizing stuff. Since the temperatures were a little better, I decided to clean up the garage.

Soon, I noticed a lot of clutter – including shoe boxes lying around. I was almost going to throw them into the garbage when I realized that they actually had shoes inside. Opened a box – and there was a nice pair of running shoes inside. And “nice” to me, means flashy colors 🙂

Of course, worried that *somebody* might have forgotten about them, I went inside the house and had this conversation with her:

Me: “Did you know that your new running shoes are lying around in the garage?”
*Somebody*: “I know. I have not found a matching shirt to buy yet. ”
Me (totally confused): “Ok. So why are the new shoes lying around in the garage? Why are they not in the closet where you keep your shoes?”
*S*: I have run out space for more shoes.

I returned to the task of cleaning up the garage wondering what the hell am I thinking taking a year off from work….

13 January 2014

Backpacker of 89 countries.. and counting…

Another goal fulfilled – quite accidentally and again thanks to Facebook – during this trip to India was to meet up with my friend Shridhar Sethuram. We studied MBA together in IIM-A and frankly I would not say we were very close those days. However, it is his arc of life after the MBA days that has fascinated me. He has achieved a lot that I have been dreaming for some time. I have been trying to look for an opportunity to be in the same city as he for quite some time. Finally, managed it in Bombay. He was gracious enough to join Sharmila and myself for breakfast at the Executive Lounge in JW Marriott.

I cannot recollect ever going to meet a friend with paper and pen in hand. I had my questions ready. It was more of an hour and half of interview than meeting really. I also brought Sharmila since I thought he shared with me the same traits that led her to call me “quirky”. Her verdict, at the end of the day, was that Shridhar is myself on steroids 🙂

We were scheduled to meet at 7:30am and he showed up on the dot at 7:30. When thanked for showing up on time (I did not want to miss a single minute of my time with him), he pointed out that he has trained himself to be on time – everywhere, without fail. Sharmila looked at me and rolled her eyes 🙂 (major source of argument at my home – I insist on being on time always 🙂 ).

We have all learnt geography in our elementary schools. And sitting in those classes, we often thought dreamy eyed about visiting those esoteric country names we had to learn about. Except, Shridhar actually did it. Fascinated from elementary days geography, he started visiting different countries every year after we left school. Every year, he takes time off multiple times, brings his backpack out and hits the road. Evidently, he never plans out his visit – just shows up in the country with the visa and starts asking around people and uses buses, autos, bikes whatever he can. He has so far covered 89 countries. Is planning to hit 100 soon. One marvelous thing I learnt : “What if you cannot get any local help?”. “Rajib, anywhere you go – even in the shadiest areas, people always – ALWAYS – want to help you. Especially, if they realize you are not from their parts of the world”. “How about local language?” “We figure it out”. That has to be the greatest sense of adventure of all.

The pictures from his backpacking can be found at his blogsite http://www.backpackthrulife.com

One virtue Shridhar said backpacking has taught him is the sense of simplicity. When your entire life has to be packed in a bag, you quickly can get rid of the “extra” stuff in life and get tremendously focused. He goes around in Bombay (he works in an investment firm) in his bicycle!! (Not the motorized kind!!)

So, I asked him if there was anything he picked up locally that has stuck with him. “Dancing”, he said. It would appear that both of us were blessed with two left legs when it came to dancing. And both of us have been to more Latin countries more number of times than most of our friends. While, I stayed away from the dance floor, he saw that as a hindrance to understanding local people. Got himself a teacher and now has been dancing for six years!! I think I am going to still take a pass on that one 🙂

And thus the morning rolled on… from his marathon runs to yoga practices to meditation. About thirty minutes were spent on exchanging our views on the “Art of Living”. We jousted on the concept of classes for Yoga (I am against any form of group classes – I believe that when a student is ready, he or she will seek his or her guru). We delved into the essence of spirituality versus religion, the true purpose of Yoga – stretching or meditation, value of poetry versus music and such topics that most people would be utterly bored by.

But for me, I finally met somebody that I have immensely admired and would absolutely love to take a few steps with in this short life.

Do you think backpacking in a new country with Shridhar should be added to my bucketlist for the sabbatical year that is coming up?


12 January 2014

Chalupa run!

Today’s group included two of our youngest members and two more in the junior group. Not sure what happened to the rest of the adults. I know one of them is in a mourning period after the Saints loss. Others are probably recovering from parties!! 🙂


9 January 2014


I was driving up I-20 towards Lake Oconee for an office meeting this morning when I thought I saw an unique name of a town. But it went by very fast. Decided to turn around, took an exit 5 miles later and came around, drove back for 9 miles, took another exit and turned back again and then drove slowly till I could get the spot.

Sure enough! A town called Social Circle!!! Just when I thought here in Georgia, our innovation in naming places peaked when we named every street in Atlanta, “Peachtree”!!!