Sunday, December 9, 2012

Two cultures

Have developed a liking towards the Japanese culture! Many aspects of their culture and country such as the silk Kimonos, the Japanese tea ceremony, their obsession with the 'sakura' (cherry blossom) tree, sake, the Japanese manga and cartoons ('Inu Yasha', 'Dragon Ball Z', 'Cardcaptor Sakura'- to name a few), their love for the Tuna fish, charcoal fish, the importance they attach to the presentation of food, the low tables, absence of chairs, their liking for golf, their fame for cutting edge technologies, the fact that they have a train like the Shinkansen, their sense of perfection (just my opinion) and many, many such things that I can't even remember right now, have always intrigued me.

Guess I was exposed to this truly unique and mesmerizing culture ever since I can remember but like most things near and yet so far (in my mind that is), realization dawned on me only recently! When my college offered basic foreign language courses, I elected to learn Japanese. The course was called “Basic conversation in Japanese” and was offered by ABK-AOTS DOSOKAI, Chennai Centre.

In spite of having a very good instructor, I never managed to learn many Japanese words beyond: sashin (photograph), sakura (cherry blossom; redundant, I know!), nihon/nippon (Japan), nihongo (Japanese language), daigaku (University), and such; and a few sentences such as “watashi wa my-name desu” (meaning “I am my-name", “desu” is just a way of bringing closure to the sentence I was told) and “Hai. Wakarimashita” (meaning, “Yes. I understand”).

My Japanese teacher back then told that Japanese is a lot like Tamil (my mother tongue) when it comes to sentence formation. I was surprised when she said, “Think in Tamil when you initially form a sentence in your mind and then translate; don’t think in English”. In fact, I was surprised when I started watching some South Korean serials (with English subtitles of course), surprised that there were some words that were so similar between Korean and Tamil. ‘Omma’ in Korean means mother. It rang a bell coz in Tamil, it is ‘Amma’. ‘Appa’ in Korean means father. It is the same in Tamil as well; and then there are the words ‘Aigoo’ (Korean) and ‘Aiyoo’ (Tamil), which have a similar meaning and pronunciation.

Was surprised that there is any similarity between these languages at all, considering that they come from different parts of the globe. True that life is never devoid of surprises! I was not exposed to the Japanese script during the course. I heard from a friend who was attending weekend classes that it takes a four year course to completely learn the Japanese script. Whew!

The fact that some of the Japanese liked Tamil movies like Chandrelekha, Muthu makes me glad in a teeny-weeny sense of the word. Of course only a Jap can feel all these elements of their culture in true depth and sense, but the fact that I like it too somehow gladdens me and feels like it has given me refreshing perspective.


Another culture which fascinates me in equal measure is the Italian culture. Talk about Italy and one's mind instantly thinks of places such as Venice, Milan, Florence in Tuscany, Rome and Sicily (was it the Godfather movies from which I heard this one?).

To talk about the Italian cuisine alone, this one post would not do (ever watched David Rocco's cookery show called Dolce Vita?; seems dolce vita means "the good life" I thought it sounds so cool!). With the pastas alone being example enough to speak for the Italian cuisine, it is hardly surprising that Italian cuisine is as famous as it is across the globe. With their innumerable football teams, their innumerable fashion designers, fashion labels, the people (Leonardo da Vinci, Amerigo Vespucci, Marco Polo for some and err, the models?) this shoe shaped country sure is interesting. I am not familiar with the Italian language, though I am a little familiar with the accent (wink). Recently I wrote about the Italian word 'ciao'. Well, as of now, that is the one Italian word I use extensively.

Personally I want to say with all earnestness, that I believe to study and understand the history of my culture and my people, even if I were to give up everything else that I am doing right now and go for it, my one lifetime would not suffice; so what I intend to do (if at all) with these new found likings of mine, remains to be seen.

Thursday, November 8, 2012

Corporate SIM

Buying a corporate SIM sure is easy. All you have to do is take a photocopy of your Identity card with your organization to get one. Mine being a postpaid number I kept paying bills online once a month and all was well. I moved back to Chennai from Bangalore and so I wanted to deactivate my number and be done with it.

But the outstanding amount was 1300+ bucks (unbilled amount). So I called up customer care and sought a way to resolve the matter. They asked me to wait till the billing cycle is over and pay once the bill is generated and then close the connection immediately. And then I forgot about it; completely!

After some three or four months I came to know that I had to pay some 1200+ bucks- the actual bill plus the rental for three months which calculated to about (249 rental + 99 bucks internet plan) *3.

It is funny that mobile phone service providers who literally sit on your head asking you to take this offer or that, or who constantly keep reminding you of their presence somehow chose to keep mum about it. Maybe coz I wasn’t using the number anymore? (!!). But to be honest, I don’t remember receiving emails of my bills either.

Though the amount doesn’t account anywhere near being called huge, I told myself for the umpteenth time that I should be more careful with (my own) hard earned money. When I asked around, I heard of people who received bills after almost a year of having stopped using the SIM and being asked to pay hefty amounts.

So, if you have a corporate postpaid SIM, be extra careful about it; if you don’t want the SIM be sure to deactivate the number promptly.

Monday, November 5, 2012

An insider’s perspective

In light of the recent comments (rather mean!) from some of my relatives, family friends and such about an IT job, with some merely gossiping about it, some declaring that IT jobs are a bad thing to have happened to India and that expenses on rental properties, bank loans' rates, real estate costs, etc have all gone up, thanks only to the IT jobs, while a few going as far as to state that IT employees are software coolies, I would like to add some aspects of what it is to hold one:

  • Cool outlook: Though it is ironic that every Tom, Dick and Harry lands up in an IT job (the job being something totally astray from his/ her chosen field of education), it is still lucrative to the eyes of many.
  • Good infrastructure: The infrastructure of the IT offices is by far among the best, perhaps next only to the Hospitality Industry. Undeniably, one of the best aspects is that you go to office before the “Suryabhagavan” shines with all his glory and you start from office well after Sundown. And of course the office is air conditioned (thanks to the fact that on prolonged usage computers emit heat). What better way to beat the heat eh?
  • Onsite opportunities: Chances of being sent abroad on deputation are high in an IT organization since most IT firms cater to clients abroad. If you work hard enough and most importantly, if you are lucky enough, you get to ‘see the world while you are still young’, like they say.
  • Employee centric policies: Since it is a people intensive industry a lot of attention is paid to make most of the policies as employee centric as possible as compared to several other industries. Though there are outcries here and there saying that there is no Employee Union as such, most policies are still employee centric.
  • Pay packages: One might genuinely believe that he/she is offered a pittance for a pay and might even be modest enough to say it. But then to people, of course that person is either joking or being too modest. Not particularly anyone's fault if an IT job is construed to be that high paying. Besides, a little mystery has never hurt anyone, has it? So, one can afford to let it pass I guess; just saying.
  • Banking: Two words- ‘Corporate’, ‘Salary Account’, are enough to ensure that banks are only too happy to serve you. Opening an account, taking loans, applying for a credit card etc are much easier if you are from the IT industry and in most cases, you are more favored than a government employee.
  • Tech savviness: When people around you have cool gadgets and are tech savvy, you tend to acquire a little of the trait. And societal compulsion (!) mandates that you indulge in acquiring a few of the latest gadgets yourself in order to appear so.

The list is endless with possibilities- most professional ethos, positive work atmosphere, austere disciplinary standards (ombudsperson), young workforce (good or bad debatable, but for me good), flexible work timings and work from home options (not always though), flexible work wear (again, not always) and many such things. There are of course several occupational hazards such as hectic lifestyle, lack of an organized lifestyle and so on, but it is true of many other professions as well.

To the fellow IT job holders! The next time your friendly neighborhood aunty (not Spiderman!) is kind enough to sit judgment on the fate of all IT employees come next recession, you might consider flaunting any of the above mentioned aspects of the job. Or should you rather ignore her for the better? It’s your call.

Friday, September 21, 2012

A sarcastic mail

Had sent the below mail to my credit card company (dated 21/09/2012):


I would like to know why I have still not received my Credit card statement due for Oct 1, 2012.
I received an SMS about it on 12 Sept stating that the bill will reach me shortly. However I have still not received one.

As a customer, am I expected to keep mailing and follow up on receiving the bill myself?

I am already not pleased with the fact that once the bill is paid by me, it will take 3 days for the same to be reflected in your system, which means that if the last date is 30th of a month, then the last date for me is in fact the 27th, as mentioned by a call center executive of your company. What displeases me is actually the fact that I was not informed prior about this.

So, in this case if the last date is October 1, the actual last date is 28th.

This is just my 3rd billing cycle and I am already faced with so many systemic problems and I am beginning to wonder about long term relationships.


Honestly getting romba (super) annoyed with all these "Service Providers"; meaning my credit card company, my mobile phone service provider, my 3G data card service provider, my 2G data card service provider (before my 3G, both of them happen to be different companies), my television's DTH service provider; every one else in fact. Love them or hate them, cant live without them right? There lies the problem I guess.

At least buying a product is something different. You just buy it once, you have to go to them only if you have some problem. Otherwise it is like they never even exist. But this is different. You have to be in touch every month. There is always some problem with one thing or the other. God save the planet from these "Service Providers"!

Just wondering how the poor soul reading this mail (on the other end) would feel. Well, I cant help it!

Wednesday, September 12, 2012


Just figured the Italian word "Ciao" is the perfect synonym for the Tamil word "Vanakkam" (வணக்கம்). I have always wondered how I would explain the word 'Vanakkam' if someone were to ask me for its meaning.

Can I say it is a greeting, stands for 'Hi' or 'Hello'. But then, how would I explain those news reporters sign off saying "Nandri, Vanakkam!" (நன்றி, வணக்கம்!), meaning "Thank you, Bye!"; obviously, in this context the word takes the meaning "bye".

Unlike 'ciao', 'vanakkam' is formal though. Until now I was using 'ciao' thinking it only stood for "bye". Now, whoever said ignorance is bliss?!

Until my next post, ciao.

Thursday, July 26, 2012

10 Random Pics

Posted here are 10 random pics taken over a period of time. Pics were shot with my Samsung Galaxy Ace S5830 phone which has a 5 MP camera.

Wednesday, June 6, 2012

A (small) wish come true

I had sent an article to the Hindu Nxg. And it (finally) got published!

The article is about the tough times Chennaiites face right now owing to the summer and such. It was a wish come true to see the name "AKIHTRA" appearing on the Hindu website under the Hindu logo, considering the high regards I have always had for the Hindu.  

You can read the article from the Hindu website or the Nxg website. Some of the comments are interesting, check them out as well.

Two TED talks I liked

I recently came across the following two TED talks, both of which I liked. In the first one, the Speaker talks about why it is important t...