Friday, October 31, 2014

Ana-Maria, the woman in orange

Ana-Maria. Isn't that a beautiful name? Formed by joining two commonly used names, the two of them can exist independently but when concatenated form a more beautiful bond. I heard this name for the first time a decade ago. The Romanian software programmer, with flowing black hair, raised the levels of enthusiasm in the team to get the work done the fastest possible way. I was amused by the Ana-Maria effect. Years later, I came across another Ana-Maria when I was strolling the quiet streets of London a week back. I didn't know her name was Ana-Maria initially. But like the earlier Ana-Maria, this one too left an impression.

This Ana-Maria did not have flowing black hair. She had auburn hair. But it was not the hair that caught my attention. It was the color orange. She had a scarf and shoes which were orange in color. She was dressed formally. While I was walking the streets in lazy pace, she whizzed past my side suddenly emerging from back out of nowhere. She was not running, but she was in a hurry. When such things happen, you tend to admire the only view you have. But in this instance, the orange color was drawing my attention to her scarf and shoes. Since the time I took up camera, I have begun to like these colors. Give me red, pink, yellow, or orange any day. When you are photographing a person in a crowd, these colors are striking.

I still didn't know her name. But since she was walking in the same direction as I was going, I looked at her shoes and also her scarf. Scarf is an attractive accessory. When you don't see the face, scarf drives your imagination and paints a picture of the person in your mind. In this case, she had draped the scarf elegantly on her neck making her graceful and beautiful in my mind. While I was admiring her, a little girl and a man both dressed formally shot past me from my back. They were trotting after the woman in orange. In the midst of hurrying to catch up with her, the man was softly calling out her name. Ana-Maria...Ana-Maria. Very soon, they were able to catch up with her. With great efforts, I averted my gaze while the trio had a private argument in a public place.

Although I summoned up all the reserves of energy, I couldn't help stealing occasional glances at Ana-Maria and presumably her family while passing. Ana-Maria was on the verge of sobbing but demanding in whispers when she was not trying to suppress the anger and hurt  from escaping from her body. Her husband was intently listening but poised to put forward his point once Ana-Maria has finished. Her daughter was watching her not taking sides and isolating her dad or mom but while empathizing with both of them. As a family, there were handling it well. How many of us can do that?

Tags: Musings,London,Woman,Orange

Tuesday, October 28, 2014

Big cities have quiet spots

What is the first thing coming to your mind when you hear the word city? Too many people? Busy pace of life? What do you find while browsing through the images when you are planning a visit to one of the big cities of the world? Crowded spaces! Despite the crowded spaces, a big city can make you feel lonely. As everyone is busy in their pursuit of happiness, a man or a woman becomes an island and eventually lonesome. It is an interesting philosophical statement. Strange as you might find it. The big cities can make you lonely not only because everyone is busy but also due to the quiet streets in the middle of the concrete jungle where you can hear a pin drop.

I love big cities not only because of the busy pace but because of different-as-chalk-and-cheese experiences. I was in London a week back. London is a big city, crowded but still secluded. During my exploration, I stumbled into a deserted street. The streets were lined up with office buildings and apartments, but there was not even a soul on the streets. It was an amusing contrast for me. Here I was in the middle of a crowd and two minutes later, I am walking through a street where there is absolute silence. Two minutes earlier, I would not have imagined the noise around me would dissipate thereby making straining my ears to listen to signs of life.

In a big city, you might come across a deserted street emerging from a busy street. For instance, take Trafalgar Square. You can cut across to the Mall from Trafalgar Square through a busy street or through a couple of small deserted streets. To imagine we left a busy square to enter a street with not a soul in sight is difficult to fathom. Sometimes you find lovers tucked away in these streets. Most of the time, a big city does not give you privacy when passions rises up. So you are forced to create an island ignoring the world. When you are lucky, it gives small islands of refuge.

It is not true that big cities can't give you a quiet spot where you can relax and organize your thoughts. If you differ, then you haven't looked hard enough in the city. What I suggest for you is to take a series of right turns or left turns or combination of both from the main street. You will come across a quiet street. Before you leave, please  make sure you have a GPS enabled mobile or even a small map with you.

Tags: Musings,London,Streets,Silence

Thursday, October 23, 2014

St Paul's Cathedral, my sacred heart of London

Have you looked at St Paul's Cathedral from the Millennium Bridge? When you are the standing at the Tate's end of the Millennium bridge, you see the dome of the cathedral rising up into the sky. The dome is what makes this view unique. Right towards the lower edge of the frame created by your naked eye, there is a sea of people crossing the bridge. The dome and the human sea together makes this view unique and breathtaking.

The dome of St Paul's cathedral is a light show in itself. Depending on the mood of the sun, the dome displays different colors. This phenomenon makes the dome more interesting and exciting. Similar to putting hand into the cookie jar without knowing what cookie you may end up with, you will see a different color every visit. When you travel in Europe, cathedrals and domes are a familiar sight. Have you noticed dome is a significant feature in both Christian and Muslim places of worship? It is easy to differentiate between the domes (Christian versus Muslim) the way it is constructed.

For me, the sight of the dome from Millennium bridge represents a different thing. Have you climbed the small hill in Parc de Buttes-Chaumont? If you have climbed on top of that small hill, you will get a view of Sacre Coeur from there. The sun, if he likes you on that particular day, will play his magic on the domes of Sacre Coeur giving you a look that is equally breathtaking. The view of St Paul's from Millennium Bridge reminds me that St Paul's is my Sacre Coeur in London.


Wednesday, October 22, 2014

Your reputation precedes you

"I have heard about you." It is a fairly common statement. Consider the scenario. On a day at work, you meet a colleague. You extend your hands for a firm handshake and introduce yourself. The other person states his name. At this point, you realize the name had cropped up in a casual or a serious conversation. You decide to share this information with the other person. After your revelation, what is the other person's reaction? Is that person surprised, puzzled or uneasy? What would have been your reaction if the roles were reversed?

Yesterday, I was in a similar situation. I met a colleague for the first time. As soon as the introductions were over, I blurted out the truth. I have heard about this person before. I carefully chose the word "blurted" for I regretted sharing the truth. The other person was visibly uncomfortable. Luckily, I didn't have to analyze his facial patterns to find out what he was thinking. He carefully framed the response. "I hope you heard good things about me." It is ingenious but pointless. Ingenious because the unprepared gives out the truth. Pointless because there aren't many unprepareds.

So what can we do in such a situation? As you may have realized, there is no ideal answer to this. One way is to acknowledge and ask what context did the other person come across you. Who was he speaking to? The other way is  to acknowledge and apologize for coming across the other person for the first time. Try to find out what the other person is currently doing at work. What is past is past? There is no point in worrying what the other person has heard. You may be famous or notorious. Right now, you have to move on.

Tags: Musings,Work,Colleague

Sunday, October 19, 2014

Seats seats everywhere but not a single one to sit

I avoid the rush hour while commuting. Since I stay far away from where I work, I have to catch a very early train in order to be at work on time. Then there are days where you tend to miss the your original schedule and, as a result, is caught up in the rush hour. This occasion turns out the day on which you don't get a seat, and you end up standing till your destination. For commuters to London from Reading, this is a daily phenomenon. But I travel in the opposite direction away from the regular traffic.

During the rush hour, most of the seats are reserved. Just like in India, there are unreserved compartments although I have not figured out how to identify one. In reality, all the seats might not be taken. The reserved seats have a piece of paper sticking out of the top of the headrest. This piece of paper indicates the length of reservation with respect to the from-station and the to-station. You can still squat here, but you will have to vacate when the rightful owner turns up.

On the day when I took this picture, most of the seats were occupied, and these stubs were sticking out of most of the seats. I found a seat after the first stop.

Tags: Photos

Friday, October 17, 2014

Movie Review: Philomena

Two different people comes together in life for a purpose. When the difference is akin to chalk to cheese, we can expect a lot of drama and comedy. Hence, this approach is a commonly used one in the movies. Every year, there are movies of two people who can't stand each other taking part in a journey. Philomena is also based on a similar premise. The movie succeeds in giving you a lot of smiles and ends up tugging your heart because of the phenomenal actress called Judi Dench and a surprising performance by Steve Coogan.

Stephen Frears tells the anguish of a mother who goes in search of her son whom she had given up for adoption. He bases his movie on the book "The Lost Child of Philomena Lee" by Martin Sixsmith. Philomena Lee is played by Judi Dench while Steve Coogan plays Martin Sixsmith. Both of them are at a crossroads in life. Philomena constantly wonders what happened to the baby she had forced to give up for adoption. She was an unwed mother, and her family had left in an Abbey during her pregnancy. The sisters at the Abbey had given her son for adoption. Now that she wants to find out, the Abbey is not cooperating in her search. Martin has just lost his job and is trying desperately to overcome the depression. The two of them embark on this quest.

Martin and Philomena are different people. Martin is an atheist while Philomena believes in God. Martin has suppressed hatred while Philomena has nothing against the world. The situation is weird as we expect Philomena to be angry because she is the wronged woman. Philomena is grateful for all the niceties of life while Martin is rude. Philomena is full of wonder when she finally ventures out of her small world with Martin. She is naive. But her naivety is beautifully portrayed by Judi Dench. Judi Dench, with her performance, forces us to look at things we take for granted in a new perspective. The performance also raises questions. How can one be forgiving? Why isn't there any rage? Steve Coogan's Martin learns a lot from Philomena. At the end of the movie, he is at a place that holds more peace than when he started. Steve Coogan, who also wrote the screenplay, delivers a performance that hooks us as the movie progresses. He plays the bumbling Englishman with a characteristic sense of humor initially and later turns serious. Steve Coogan has sprinkled the right amount of humor in his performance thereby not making it heavy duty.

Watch it for Judi Dench.

Language: English

Genre: Drama

Rating: ****


Thursday, October 16, 2014

Books: DarkMarket

Over the years, the internet has transformed from a luxury to necessity. It is fast becoming a fundamental human right. In Finland, it already is. With internet proliferation comes a group of people who are exploiting it for making money. For instance, you have either heard about or received emails regarding the promise of treasure out of nowhere commonly referred to as the Nigerian scam. There are a whole lot of other scams. Misha Glenny uses his background in investigative journalism to trace the rise and fall of DarkMarket, one of the sites favored by hackers. In order to uncover the complex world of secrecy and anonymity, he travels from Brazil to Turkey via Scandinavian and East European countries.

Although the book chronicles the rise and fall of the website named DarkMarket, it is not a straight narrative. It does lack a chronological narrative. The book jumps back and forth between different characters and time periods. As a result, the book confuses anyone who is not reading this at a stretch. The book also will disappoint you if you are looking for conclusions. The authorities catch a major player behind the website as documented in the book. But after capture of this criminal, no one is sure if they have got the right person. The major success of the book turns out to be the shocker it delivers to a person who has adopted technology with both hands without realizing its darker side. These days, we conduct a lot of our day to day activities using the internet. Our online identities are vulnerable. An experienced hacker can effortlessly extract this information from our computers. The extracted information is sold cheaply to fraudsters who then uses it for various schemes. Any legal procedures against these people take enormous efforts, and sometimes fruitless, because these crimes extend international boundaries. With law enforcers spread across the world, it is difficult to keep it a secret and also to get everybody to  cooperate. Since there is a lot of money involved here, the organizations behind these websites are becoming like the modern mafia.

Technology makes our lives easy. At the same time, technology also has an evil side. We have been ignorant of the negative aspects. Misha Glenny wakes up from the slumber. Forget the lack of structure in the book. This book is still a must-read for you to understand the darker side of the internet. I am sure you will be afraid to use even the nearest ATM machine after reading this book.

Tags: Books,Misha Glenny,Hackers

Wednesday, October 15, 2014

When if becomes when

Communication plays an important role in both our personal and professional lives. If you analyze our daily life, you will find us sending out messages. We all have our signature ways of communicating such as overly optimistic, neutral, unfocused and even apocalyptic. In recent times, I have been noticing the usage of if and when while communicating. It is interesting when you choose one instead of the other, the meaning of the sentence changes. Not only does the meaning of the sentence changes, but also there is a change in the tone of the message.

The first instance of change was to move towards optimism from pessimism, and it happened when a person corrected a colleague doing a presentation. The presenter was describing a new process which spans multiple business units. Since there are at inception stage, there were struggling with the corporate inflexibility and also self-doubt. Midway during the session, the presenter said, "If we reach this stage, then everybody will realize the benefits." The colleague quickly corrected, "When we reach that stage, everybody realizes the benefits". Consider both approaches. A simple change. But the message now was sounding more confident than the first take.

The second instance was to sound more apocalyptic than cautionary. Here the speaker was involved in an initiative that was going through trying times. So as the person-in-charge, he wanted all artifacts to be in place so that there is a proper audit trail of what transpired. To achieve this objective, he addressed to his team members. "I want it all in one place. When this explodes, I want everyone to know what happened here. Remember when it blows up and not if it blows up." He was sure the blow up was imminent.

If you analyze this further, the changes were small. But the underlying messages changed. A simple change from if to when can create a bigger effect in the minds of your audience. Always keep this in mind while you are composing the next message. Decide how you want to sound and choose your ifs and whens wisely.

Tags: Musings,Communication,If,When

Tuesday, October 14, 2014

Movie Review: The Lives of Others

The German movie Das Leben der Anderen or The Lives of Others is about an oppressive state where citizens are made to distrust each other, freedom of expression curbed, and individuality suppressed. In order to tell this story, the director Florian Henckel von Donnersmarck sets his film in German Democratic Republic (GDR), five years before the fall of Berlin Wall. In this drama, the director focuses on a Stasi agent who is efficient in bringing out confessions. When he starts eavesdropping the life of an artist couple, he couldn't resist from getting involved in the lives of the couple. Does this actually bring any difference to the couple? It does not. But does it tell us the value of freedom we take for granted. It does!

Ulrich Mühe is the Stasi agent Wiesler. Mühe plays the methodical agent with considerable restraint. There is no emotional outburst only calculated moves. So he never loses his calm under extreme circumstances. Even when his superior suspects foul play, Mühe displays no visible change in demeanor and before the superior could act, he has already made his next move swiftly. At an unanticipated tragedy, Mühe shows the breakdown and swift recovery of Wiesler beautifully. Sebastian Koch and Martina Gedeck plays Dreyman and Christa-Maria Sieland respectively. They are the artist couple where Dreyman is the playwright and Christa-Maria Sieland the actress. Among these two, Martina Gedeck gets our attention mainly because she is vulnerable, and the exploited. Even the scene where she gets used by a party boss in the car and the subsequent scenes where she tries to forget the incident shakes us up.

Years have passed since the Berlin wall has come down. The director successfully creates an atmosphere that is devoid of color and indicates a potential decay. The film is set in drab locales depicting the strangled growth and stagnant mindset. The movie also focuses on the helplessness of people who wants to change the system and not escape from their current predicament. Unfortunately, they have limited options. It also brings a revulsion in us towards the oppressors. The only drawback is the sudden change of mind in Wiesler. For a man who has devoted his life for this line of work, the change is dramatic and abrupt. But if we overlook this factor, we have a moving tale to watch.

Must watch for serious movie lovers.

Language: German

Genre: Drama

Rating: ****


Monday, October 13, 2014

Explaining God and Mythology to children

My mom used to take me to the temple regularly when I was a child. So it didn't take much to instill the concept of god in me. The job was easy for my mom. My mother reluctantly rewarded me a candy that cost ten paise at that time. She also made sure I earned it. She always went to the Shiva temple instead of the nearby Ganpati temple. The Shiva temple was bigger and well managed. The long walk, the temple pond and the tranquil silence surrounding the sanctum sanctorum occasionally broken by the bells. All these helped with the concept of God and subsequently the belief. It is another matter that growing up thwarted these beliefs. Still I would any day go to the temple because of the silence it offers. You are never able to switch completely off the disturbing chatter until you are in a place of worship. There may be talented people who can accomplish this feat in a noisy place such as a bazaar. Then, they are exceptional. 

The biggest challenge I face right now how to explain God and Mythology it an eight-year-old. Is there a God? Before thousands and thousands of years, did you know what happened? These are the sample questions. When we grew up, there was Ramayana and Mahabharata on Doordarshan. I was surprised to know there is a newer version of Mahabharata in one of the TV channels in India. I consider the TV series created by B R Chopra and his son is timeless. You don't need to shoot it again. You only need to telecast it again. Then, there are other ones like Kailasanathan that incidentally is also my daughter's favorite. I am glad she is getting a fair share of Indian mythology. At the same time, it is becoming increasingly difficult the questions for which I have not found answers yet. Over the years, the stories in Hindu mythology have mutated to distort the original story. The latter day narrators have increased the scale of events, voiced the morals loudly and added sub-plots. How do I tell which is the modern variation against what was written down initially? When we grew up, our first tryst with Mythology was through the TV. It was from Uncle Pai's Amar Chitra Katha books. If you look back, the word "Amar" is so right. I am writing it after 30 years! Isn't that evidence? Even while watching Ramayana and Mahabharata on TV, our reference point was these books. The next Monday, with landlines not achieving the current penetration and our usage strictly monitored, we could discuss these anomalies at school.

Unfortunately, my daughter does not have that reference point. While I am glad she is getting her mythology lessons, I am afraid she is getting a lot of irrelevant subplots.

Sunday, October 12, 2014

Photos: Late Sun

As the summer bids good bye, the length of the days shorten. It becomes increasingly difficult to get up from bed when there is no sunlight. The commute becomes tedious. If you still look at this from a positive angle, there are still excellent settings for a picture because the sun, running late, casts an array of never seen before color palette. I say never seen before because we commute usually when the sun is out and misses out on these color palettes during summer. Here is a picture taken in Reading UK right in front of the railway station during the morning commute.

Tags: Photos


Saturday, October 11, 2014

Photos: The British Weather

After a dry September, October is here with a lot of rain. The temperature is dropping. The days are getting shorter. Anyone in this part of the world should be going with an umbrella. I have a lot of time while waiting for my train from Reading station. The waiting time also turn out to be the best time to take pictures using iPhone. Here is one showing the British weather.

Tags: Photos


Friday, October 10, 2014

What makes a photo interesting?

What makes a photo interesting? If you ask an expert, he/she will come up with many reasons. Does a photographer, if we discount their skill levels, think of these numerous reasons before taking a picture? I doubt so. In spite of not thinking about the rules related to photography, aren't people able to come up with breathtaking pictures? I am leaning towards yes. Of late, I come across many blogs that regularly features digital photographs. Many such blogs contain quite a lot of encouraging comments from the subscribers and readers. When I examine the picture, it doesn't make any sense to me. Whichever way I look at it; they do not rise above ordinary.

A few years back, I was requesting my friend's to give me pictures to post on my blog. Although I promised a link to their profiles, it is difficult to match the photographer's aspiration to what I am writing. East is east. West is west. Never shall the twain meet. Since I was in the company of two excellent photographers with opposite attitudes to photography, I decided to learn from them. The resulting exercise turned out to be a boon and a bane for me. I am able to make interesting pictures that were the boon while my condescension towards ordinary pictures turned out to be the bane. I refrain from commenting on these blogs.

There are two styles to shooting a picture. One is visualizing the result before you shoot. You have considered all the necessary rules and incorporated a couple of them. If you do have trouble digesting this, you may check out, The shot are planned in a split of a second in the mind of this photographer. Such is his brilliance. The second style is shooting from the hip. There is no plan. You like a scene and you want to immortalize it. So you click it. All of us adopt this technique. But it takes talent to create interesting pictures while shooting from the hip. If you want to see pictures of this kind, check out Shooting from the hip also implies creative genius and an underlying laziness. So this photographer, brimming with talent and laziness, does not update his site too often. If you can find him on facebook, you will see a lot of hidden gems inside his albums.

Now let's come back to our original question. What makes a photo interesting? A photographer friend summarizes, "I take a picture thinking it is a great picture. Nobody likes it. And then I have another picture that I think is mediocre. People can't stop raving about it". These days, I just click if I like what I see in my front. It is more exciting and rewarding when the audience finds a meaning. Sometimes, they get close to what we had in mind. Sometimes they, with their line of thinking, help us find the reason we thought the scene was best to be captured using our lens.

Tags: Musings,Photo,Style

Wednesday, October 8, 2014

The importance of laughter

When asked about the secret of his youthful looks, my wise friend calmly replied. "I laugh every day." I still remember that evening. The table had a lot of delicious food on it, and our stomachs were hurting because my friend was cracking one joke after another giving us little time to recover in between the jokes. Now I am wiser; I tend to agree with my friend. A sense of humor is important to survive the hardships of the day. Sadly, I also realize my ability to look at the lighter side is either diminishing or becoming inopportune. A recent bus ride shook me up and made me realize the importance of laughing, sense of humor and related paraphernalia. 

On days I am lucky to get a ride back from my colleague, I end up in the south part of Reading. From there, I walk to the nearest bus stop and use one of the local buses to reach home. The bus stops in front of Royal Berkshire Hospital, one of the famous ones in this part of the world. One of the fellow passengers who boards from my bus stop is a gentleman on a wheelchair. He is the last one to board as the driver has come out of the cabin to lay down the plank that will help the gentleman steer his wheelchair into the bus. The wheelchair is not powered by a motor. It is one of the old ones where you use your hands to control.

When the bus stopped at the Royal Berkshire Hospital last week, a young man boarded the bus. He was also on a wheelchair. His wheelchair was powered by a motor so he could easily fit it into the designated place in the bus. When the wheelchair of the young man had come to a stop, he was also face to face with the gentleman on the wheelchair. The gentleman on the wheelchair was watching with interest while young man parked his wheelchair. The gentleman said, "I like it." He was quick enough to clarify, "Not your condition. But your toy". Both of them laughed. The young man's legs were amputated below the knee and the stumps, though covered, were visible for everyone.

I would classify the statement uttered by the gentleman as a jovial remark. It was not a joke. It could still bring laughter to them and smiles on the lips of everyone who were listening. It is truly important to laugh. It removes the drudgery of everyday life.

Tags: Musings,Wheelchair,Laughter

Tuesday, October 7, 2014

Let your team member bask in the glory

In the hectic and frenetic professional life, do we take a moment to pause in order to reflect upon the good work put in by our colleagues? Do we stop on our tracks for a short time to appreciate how our subordinates are accomplishing their tasks while juggling priorities, at times even important personal ones? You may wonder what got me pursuing this line of thought. It was a casual conversation with a professional acquaintance which put in this path.

The conversation happened last Friday in one of those least likely places. After dropping my daughter at school, I was hurrying back to my desk when I bumped into this acquaintance. Since I knew the initiatives, he was working on and also his unhappy state in being associated with these seemingly impossible ones, I was quite surprised to him in a cheerful mode. In the next 30 minutes while other parents were hurrying back to wherever they were planning to go, the acquaintance animatedly, and happily, described what was going well with his initiatives. The customer was finally seeing changes in the many initiatives that had been going nowhere for a long time. They had expressed their happiness in the sudden turn of events in front of his colleagues, his superiors and also his competitors.

Needless to say, I was late when I got back to my desk. But the whole event made me wonder. Why did the conversation take such a long time? Normally, I would have expected the pleasantries to last a couple of minutes. But I had spent half an hour talking to this acquaintance. The whole point of 30 minutes of conversation was about how the acquaintance felt good while delivering a difficult task. Are we so lost in the pace of doing business that we don't have time for simple pat on the shoulder? Are we so driven to make super efficient professionals out of everyone that we forget to give a minute break to bask in the glory of accomplishment, regardless of the size, before giving out new assignments?

Tags: Musings,Acquaintance,Colleagues,Subordinates

Thursday, October 2, 2014

Books: Uneasy Rider

Easy rider is the title of the famous movie featuring Peter Fonda and Dennis Hopper. Though I haven't seen the movie, a good look at the poster tells you it is about men, motorbikes and riding. So when Mike Carter names his book as Uneasy rider, you pretty well know where it is leading to. First, this book is about bikes. Second, this book has an unusual way of looking at things, topped with generous dollops of humor. Thankfully, the book is enjoyable because of the second factor. Although the humor comes in the form of self-deprecating type, it is thoroughly enjoyable.

After hitting forty and a divorce, even though he is unsure which is the hardest hitter, Mike Carter decides to take alcohol-induced challenge. Go on a bike trip all over Europe. Possessing neither a motorbike nor a license, he has to acquire these two before setting out on this adventure. He not only does these two but also goes on a course for riding in Wales. Then, he sets out on a road trip from Britain. The trip lasts six months,  and it also takes him all over Europe, Scandinavian countries, Eastern Bloc countries and finally reaches Turkey where he turns around to head back home. During this trip, he finds out more about the middle age crisis, the necessity of human contact, countries and their customs, and finally how to reconcile with the past.

The book is for men. What is the big thing with 40? Why do men feel chained after marriage? Why is it important to buy material possessions like a big ugly motorbike to boost your ego? Why do men after a certain age wants to lock their eyes with young things a little longer than necessary even though it is not leading anywhere except an instant ego massage? Why does thinning hair trouble men? These are some of the many questions asked in the book. Brace yourself. There are no answers in the book. The author frames these questions in a funny manner making you think harder and finally lets you reach the futility of this line of questioning. This style makes the book very enjoyable. These are the very questions which pop up in your mind at the most inopportune times. Mike Carter has written it down in black and white.

Throughout the book, Mike Carter teases himself on why he is doing what he is doing. Who in the right mind will embark on a journey like this? Despite all the self-flagellation, Mike Carter finally finds peace. Most importantly, he makes new memories. He can move on. But, does this book serve as a solution to all men undergoing similar uncertainties in life? No, I don't think so. At the same time, the book confirms the fact you may not be the only one having self-doubts, and you are the only one who can solve the conundrum. 

As a bonus material, here is an article published by Mike Carter on the most beautiful motorbike rides in Europe.

Tags: Books,Mike CarterMotorbike

Wednesday, October 1, 2014

Make it easy for others to remember you

We are happy when we meet colleagues and collaborators with whom we have been conducting business over the phone. It is good to associate a face to the name. Isn't that one of the overly used phrase for such meetings? Once we have a name and the face together, how do we recall the association? Isn't this a challenge? There is no easy answer. But there is a simple way. Acknowledge you don't remember. As the second step, re-introduce yourself if the other party can't recollect or ask if you are at fault.

The other day, I went to meet one of my collaborators. We had met previously albeit briefly on two occasions. One was formal and the other informal. I had scheduled a meeting, serving as a placeholder to block his time. As always, I turned up early. The other party was happy to see me. He congratulated me on the two new assignments. One assignment was correct, which incidentally was also the reason for the meeting. The second one caught me by surprise. I was surprised as I was not aware of this new development. He was surprised that I was surprised. On hindsight, it should have set the alarm bells ringing.

After a fruitful discussion which did not last the whole of the time allocated for me, I was about to take leave. It is then the collaborator points to an email from me and asks if I know me. Philosophically, I could have argued I don't and am still trying to figure out me. As a business setting is not an ideal place for philosophizing, I decided to re-introduce myself. My collaborator had mistaken me for a colleague.

This incident is also a good lesson. No matter at what stage you are in your career, there is always something new to learn. Always ask if when in doubt. In this particular case, re-introduce yourself.

Tags: Musings,Meeting,Collaborator

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