Saturday, June 26, 2010

Updates From Dallas

It's my first time living alone. I've always had roommates before this. At undergrad, there were a bunch of us in the hostel (or dorm, as it is called here). After the first two years, we had single occupancy rooms but that hardly meant anything. Most of us would keep our doors open throughout the day and people would be shouting out and walking into each other's room every now and then. Then Bangalore happened and I was lucky enough to find three friends from college to lodge with. It became a mini hostel and anyone that we knew, who came to Bangalore, would stay with us. In fact, throughout the first year there were only a couple of months when only the four of us were staying in the house! Charlottesville hasn't been very different. A roommate, the occasional birthday celebration and the impromptu get together for beer, meant that my habit of having quite a few people to talk to, to eat dinner with or just to go out for a drink on a day to day basis, stayed.

Not anymore. And 3 weeks into this, I have mixed feelings. I'm leading a pretty disciplined life. Office, home, go out for a jog at times, watch football highlights while having dinner, read a book or surf the net and go to sleep. And I can't say that I'm bored or particularly feeling the need of having people to shout out about a FaceBook status message, a news item or some stupid joke. It's a little weird. For the first week, I would go to sleep really early for lack of anything else to do. So then I started reading and have managed to finish my first book in a year. About A Boy by Nick Hornby. Quite liked it.

Weekends are fun. Coincidentally, one of my very close friends from undergrad is also interning at Dallas. We hang out on weekends. I talk about my MBA experience and he updates me on the trials and tribulations of a PhD student.

Work's picking up. It has been a good learning experience so far. Just getting up to date with what's happening in the wireless industry and getting a sense of current and future trends. My day typically begins with going through endgadget, gizmodo and similar websites to keep up to date with the iPhones, the Droids and the EVOs. Have been able to see and play around with a few. And I must say, there's a new found appreciation for non iPhone (read Android) devices. No, I'm not switching anytime soon but it's a really fascinating and continuously evolving space. There are an insane number of things that are being done by the startups and app developers - from location based services to media streaming to content aggregation to social networking. Reading about them in itself has been an eye opener for me because prior to coming here, I  thought that I had a fair idea of what was happening in the Smartphone world. Turns out, I knew very little!

Haven't really explored Dallas much apart from a few bars and pubs. Weekends are pretty much spent watching the World Cup. Praying for an Argentina - Ghana final which Argentina wins 3-2 in Extra Time. Is it asking for too much ? 

Sunday, June 06, 2010

Of Ringtones, Crying Babies & Bar Code Scanners

The last 30 days have been a mad dash. After 16 flights and over 70 hours of flying, I'm finally taking a breather. If this even remotely resembles the consulting lifestyle - spending half of your day in airports through endless lines of security checks and waiting in the departure lounge for the connecting flight; making a complete mockery of your food habits and sleep cycle - then I'm glad that I didn't get a chance to try it out.

Interviews, traveling across the world for a $150/day India trip, visiting ex flat mates and  friends in Bangalore and finding the house to be just like it was when I had left and finally the super exciting exercise of packing up for eleven weeks, leaving C'ville and arriving at Dallas - life's been pretty hectic of late.

This first thing which hit me upon arriving at the New Delhi airport after a 15 hour non stop flight from New York were the ringtones. Loud, gaudy and ringing for ages while the owner of the phone basked in the glory of his awesome choice of music. We keep hearing about the telecom industry in India. About the potential and the scope. I think people's obsession with flashy ringtones and caller tunes is a major contributor towards it. Anyway, I clearly wasn't expecting this.  Not after the ordeal which I had just been through. The kid in the seat behind me on the flight had made it his favorite pastime to kick my seat every 15 minutes for the entire journey. My occasional glance and request to his mother would only increase the interval. To begin with he was doing it unknowingly. But I think later he found a sadistic pleasure in it - to see me twitching and turning in order to get some sleep. He knew that I knew he would strike sooner or later. The certainty of the event combined with the uncertainty of the exact moment of the assault was what made it lethal. After sometime, I just gave up and watched Young Frankenstein and a crappy Bollywood movie instead. 

That was not all. There were a hundred kids in the flight and it seemed all of them were seated close to me. What more, they seem to synchronize their crying so that one would pick up immediately after another stopped. And somehow their moms seemed least bothered! Clearly, saying 'Stop crying Beta' to a 2 year old isn't going to work because a) his linguistic abilities are not yet developed enough to process that sentence and b) he's crying because he's pissed off about something (like alcohol not being offered for a second time, say) and the only way to make him stop crying is to find out and solve the problem. Action, mothers. Not words.

It's good to see India beating the Govt. forecast of GDP growth and surging ahead at 7.4%. It's sad to see simple things not being implemented especially when the Infys and the Wipros have had that technology for ever. Take bar code scanners to scan boarding passes for example. Or simple displays to help transit passengers figure out the details of the connecting flight. Instead, at places we have a person ticking off names from a list while collecting boarding passes and another one crying out 'All Kolkata passengers to the left and Amritsar passengers to the right' on top of his voice as we come out of the plane. The result - longer queues, greater confusion, more noise about nothing in particular and pissed off passengers. Having the technology is of no use if we are not able to find ways to put it to use in our daily lives.

Internship begins tomorrow. Should be exciting. New city. New people.