Blog Past: London Vacation

A year ago around this time, I had gone to London for our vacation.

I will remember this London vacation for the time I spent with Abhishek.On work days now, I hardly get to see him since he tends to sleep by 8 pm. In London, it was just him and me for the most part during the day. We would walk together for long stretches, travel on trains and buses, or just sit together eating some food in Starbucks. He was full of questions, and I did my best to patiently answer each of them. He was also a little worried at times that we hadn’t left anything behind in the taxi, bus or train – ever since I lost a bag in a Singapore taxi during our vacation a year ago.

…For much of my life, Vacations were something that I never really bothered about. Now, I am already looking forward to the next one – so I get to spend more time with Abhishek!

Weekend Reading

This week’s links:

  • The coming rebirth of the desktop computer:  by Eric Knorr. “Google Apps and desktop virtualization foretell the reincarnation of the ‘desktop PC’ as a personal, virtual environment accessible anywhere.”
  • What’s wrong with America’s Right: from The Economist. “Too much anger and too few ideas.” There is a similar problem in India.
  • The Larger Struggle: by David Brooks. “A rivalry is growing between democratic capitalist and state capitalist systems.”
  • On the road with a Supersalesman: from Inc. “Grizz creates a vision and then carries people with him.”
  • Iteration and the Startup Path: by Will Price. “The journey opens up into an endless series of forks in the road, where each fork taken provides new context, learnings, and guidance.  Each fork provides both a new direction and momentum with which to carry the company and team on wards.”

The Rains have arrived in Mumbai!

So, finally, the rains have come. A little delayed (June 10 was what we had been told), but they are finally here. I hope we get plenty of rains this year after the poor show of last year. As a country, one would have thought we would have gotten serious about water harvesting after the drought of last year, but nothing seems to have changed. Water is going to be one of the biggest challenges we are going to face, but there seems to be little action on the steps needed to get the citizens to think about water conservation.

The good thing about the rains is that the heat has subsided significantly.  Each April and May seem to be hotter than the previous year. This year was no different. With more and more buildings coming up, the local effects add to the global warming impact, I guess.

Surat Science Centre

While in Surat, I took Abhishek and his cousin to the Surat Science Centre. It is so good that I couldn’t help thinking why every Indian city shouldn’t have one. There is a large area with science exhibits (good, but can do with more), a planetarium and a children’s play area. There is also a musuem with a bit of Surat history added on to it.

When I was in school, the Nehru Science Centre at Worli was a place I used to visit often. There was always something interesting going on there – the exhibits, special movies, quiz competitions. That definitely encouraged me to read and learn more about science and technology.

Every city needs a Science Centre — even in the age of the Internet, there is nothing to match the actual touch-and-feel that playing with different exhibits offers.

Surat-Mumbai Train Ride

Since Shatabdi does not run on Sundays, we took the Inter-City back from Surat. The second-class (“D”) compartment ostensibly was a reservation only compartment. What “reservation” means is that you get to sit. That’s about it. The compartment was absolutely packed with as many standees as those sitting. It was almost impossible to move – even to go to the toilet. I guess if one wants “experience”, then one should travel in the Chair Car compartments!

The scary part was seeing people hanging from the door. One small mistake in their grip, and they’d probably end up falling from the fast-moving train.

India needs to invest more in its rail networks — higher-speed trains and more trains. But with Mamata Banerjee busy making plans to take over West Bengal, India’s Railways stay frozen in time.

Digital Printer in a Pune Bus

I was pleasantly surprised to get a bus ticket on a Pune local bus printed out on a handheld printer and handed over to me. This was a most appropriate use of technology where I least expected it — having been used to the Mumbai BEST’s pre-printed tickets.

Towards the end of a bus route, I see the Mumbai bus conductors note down the ticket numbers for each of the denominations of tickets that they have, and then figure out how many tickets they sold, and calculate the money that they should have earned. All done manually. Presumably, their Pune counterparts have all of this done in a flash.

A simple use of technology that makes a person more efficient at what he is doing – we need more such stories!

Life’s Little Clues

On May 1, I was out on a bus ride with Abhishek when I saw some hoardings in the suburbs about a Maharashtra Day event on Marine Drive. I saw it, and promptly forgot about it. Big mistake.

In the evening, we were going to see a movie for which we had to drive through – you guessed it, Marine Drive. Life had provided me with a clue that I didn’t notice. We missed the first half hour of the movie as we were stuck in traffic.

Life provides lots of little clues. If only we could notice and remember these…

Blog Past: Bridging India and China

I will be visiting Shanghai again after 8 years. This is what I wrote after my first visit to China:

China is a competitor, but it is also an opportunity and a very big at that for Indian companies, if we are prepared to look at it that way. Walk through the Shanghai Museum and see how a first century AD export from India has made a deep mark across China. That export: the teachings of Buddha. Now, two thousand years later, India needs to learn and do the same. Our software, services, and even our films can be good starting points. US, Europe and Japan may offer the comfort of past successes, but there are fortunes to be yet made targeting the “bottom of the enterprise pyramid.” No pyramid base can be bigger that the combined markets of India and China.

Weekend Reading

This week’s links:

43 Signatures to open a Share Trading Account

Every so often, something amazes me. The other day, I got a booklet to sign for opening up a share trading account. (Don’t remember if it was a special account or an ordinary one.) There were 43 places marked out in the booklet that I had to sign. Get that again — 43 repeating signatures.

It is not that I am reading the 7-point font to understand what I am signing. I don’t get it. Why can’t they have a single signature at the end which says – I have read all your fine print and realise that I have no option but to agree with everything if I am to do business with you. One signature is all it should take. Why 43?