Looking back, looking forward!

One more revolution completed, amid the pandemic. Yet, it was an eventful year with lots of good memories, a new workplace, and a new set of friends.
As I look back at a good life, I would probably do a few things differently, if given a do-over.

Attend college

Actually attend college, instead of just writing exams. Have fun and make lifelong friends. While I am at college, maybe study engineering too.

Stay in Hyderabad

Instead of having a whimsical decision to move to Chennai for a job after post-graduation, I would stay in Hyderabad if given the same choice.

Continue Parixa

I would have stuck out longer with my first startup, giving it a real chance of success. I will hustle more, instead of folding it after 18 months.

Shorter stay in Frankfurt

Instead of spending 7 years in Frankfurt, I would return earlier. Maybe have our first child after returning, rather than before going to Frankfurt. My wife disagrees with this entirely.

Better Financial Planning

Earlier years were ad-hoc and reactionary. Although I corrected it later, I would sure start early.

Although I cannot change the past, here are a few things I would like to do in the future.

  • Start a company, grow a company
  • Write a book, maybe a few books
  • Sketch
  • Farm
  • Travel the country


42! Do I have all the answers?

As I turn 42, I feel that it is a significant milestone. I feel something unique and different about the number 42. Maybe that’s the reason Deep Thought computed that 42 is the “Answer to the Ultimate Question of Life, the Universe, and Everything“.

My life felt like 6 distinct phases of 7 years each. Was that true? So I sat down and recorded my life phases. I was almost right.

  • 00-07 The Forgotten Years
  • 08-15 The Student Life
  • 16-21 The Lost Years
  • 22-25 The Best Years
  • 26-33 The Globe Trotter
  • 34-42 The Guru

The Forgotten Years

I have a handful of memories of this phase. Some from Cuttack where I was born, some from Nagpur where I spent a few years. I am not even sure if those memories are true or just imagination.

The Student Life

This phase started as we moved to Hyderabad and I have my first true memories. Memories of the house I grew up in, the school I went to and of course the friends I made, few of them turned out to be life long friends. The careless years, which in some sense made me what I am today since I got hands on a computer in this period. I also look back with regret, as I made my dad buy a really expensive HCL Beanstalk PC worth about ₹95,000. He was going through a bad patch, yet he bought me the PC. Only when I saw someone take away our car, did the reality sink in.

I could never repay my debt to him. I owe my career to him.

The Lost Years

If there is a do-over, I would like to live this time period differently. I’d like to go to college, make friends and have fun. Instead, I moved to 3 cities helping out my Dad. However, not everything was lost. This period built my character. I learnt from both good things and bad. It instilled honesty, independence and a calculated approach to risk-taking. It also made me an introvert and cautious person.

The Best Years

After freelancing for a year, I joined MBA on my Sis’s advice, to get my career back on track. I am not sure what I learnt there but made life long friends. I also discovered my style of leadership. I co-founded startups with friends – twice. I also worked for other companies, including a startup, whose founder is one person I admire for his perseverance and wish I had even 50% of what he has. I also got placed from campus into tech subsidiary of a large global bank, which defined my career from that day on.

On the personal front, I got married and had my first child. Didn’t I say it was the best time!

The Globe Trotter

I got an opportunity to move to Frankfurt which helped me in several ways. The best is I could explore Europe with my wife and it felt like an extended honeymoon. It helped us understand each other and after some ups and downs brought us really close.

While on a personal level I was exploring Europe and it’s culture, at the professional level I learnt a great deal. I learnt work ethics from the best in the world. I also learnt good and bad processes at a Fortune 50 company. I also got to work on multiple systems working up and down the stack, years before full stack developer or polyglot programmer were trendy. I learnt how to build, manage and support true enterprise-scale applications.

It was a lifetime of learning stuffed into a 7 year period.

The Guru

I write this with great humility and wrestling with imposter syndrome. Only in the last year or so, have I finally accepted that I am expected to be a Guru with all the answers. It makes me realize, this is the phase of life where I consolidate my learnings and pass them on. I don’t think I have done a great job, but I try. I hope I have positively contributed to the lives and careers of the people I have worked with. At the startup I worked at, I made it a point to hire freshers and groom them.

Of course, to be a Guru, I need to constantly learn. This period taught me a whole lot. I learnt to build a product, run startup engineering, create a service line, create and execute go-to-market strategy and so much more. In other words, this Guru is also a disciple in some several areas. I am thankful to my Gurus who taught me so much throughout my life.

Special call out to all my managers. I have been unbelievably lucky to have such great managers throughout my career.

Every one of them has shaped me. At 42, if I have some answers, it’s all because of my Gurus.

Looking forward to what the next seven years hold for me!


Modi’s strategy for India

Narendra Damodardas Modi, an outsider to national politics, inspired a massive fan following to give BJP an absolute majority. The road to victory was paved with well-meaning promises to out-right hyperbole. What is undeniable is his single-minded pursuit to victory.

So, is Prime Ministership too big for Modi to handle? Does he have a plan to deliver on his promises? Is there a strategy in place? I think, as always, Modi has a single-minded strategy and it’s “Make in India“.

Make in India is a central piece of Modi’s strategy. Everything else either supports this or is mere lip service. Make in India is the meant to restart the economy, generate employment, reduce dependency on imports and bring “Achhe Din“. So Make in India is Modi’s single-minded pursuit. His actions make it crystal clear that it is all he cares about and has thought it through.

What does Make in India need? What does manufacturing need? Money, skilled people, land, energy, infrastructure, conducive environment, and a large market.

Therefore we see Modi waltzing the country and the world inviting capital, highlighting “Demography, Democracy and Demand”. Read that again, he’s highlighting skilled people, conducive environment and large market. In addition he’s working on the National Skill Development, reforming land and labour laws, building roads and ports and aiming at power surplus. He’s gone as far as avoiding signing a strict climate change policy commitment. He’s adopted the international scale of “Ease of doing business” to measure the improvements, and is making the states compete with each other. He’s literally dragging the states into falling into line or falling behind. He’s shuffling the babus until he’s happy.

The foreign policy, the environment policy, the fiscal policy, the energy policy everything is to support manufacturing. So, is it working? I think there are some green shoots. FDI has risen 100%. Electricity production is at growing at an all time high of 10%, and even surplus. But Land and Tax reform are stuck in Rajya Sabha.

Apart from Make In India, he’s done some work for the betterment of the lowest rung of society. The drive against open defecation, health and life insurance made accessible, direct debit of subsidy along with the massive drive to open bank accounts. I’m not sure if they are part of a strategy or not, but could be. Especially how Jan Dhan Yojana is linked to insurance and direct debit and all linked to Aadhar. So the strategy might unravel in days to come.

Everything else that in not supporting the goal is not getting any attention. So whether it is his pet schemes of Swachh Bharat Abhiyan or Namami Gange, or the black money bill – not much except lip service. Health, education (except to support manufacturing), safety and freedom/rights of citizens are overlooked subjects. By overlooked, I mean there is no change is status quo and the Modi government is happy to blame the previous one for all short comings in these areas. I hope not that issues like the women safety will gain attention only if it prevents Make in India.

The strategy Modi has embarked upon takes time. Building infrastructure and manufacturing capacity takes time and for their positive effects to reach the citizens takes even longer. Modi is playing to a two term game plan. However the average middle class Indian, the biggest Modi supporter is feeling left out. Nothing has been done for them. These people have now become vocal, thanks to social media. So the social media that elevated Modi to the top post, might result in his down fall too. There might not me a second term, because no one has the patience to wait for 7-8 years for achhe din to arrive, even if that’s the only realistic time frame.

Let’s see if Modi has a plan for this too.


Strange biases we have

When we see a person, like the one below, nothing seems out of the ordinary.

Me, Myself, and I by danielfoster437.

Even if we come across the person below, hardly ever an eyebrow is raised, but

Put a record on by StephenMcleod - artistic moobs

when we see him, something crosses our mind. Why is that? Because it’s some form of impairment?

Man With Hearing Aid by Arty Smokes

Then why don’t similar thought cross our minds when we see this form of impairment?

sexy girls, sexier glasses by .scarlet..

Maybe because visual disability is so common, we have gotten used to it? In which case, should these be replaced

hearing aid close-up by Photos by Mavis.

with something like this?

One thing to bear in mind, that hearing impairment will become common place as well, with everything around us getting louder, this is bound to happen. So get used to seeing more people with hearing aids on.


When in Rome, do as the Romans do

A few incidents in the last few weeks, made me think of this saying again and again. There is so much truth in it, which is simply glossed over. The biggest culprits are we (non-resident) Indians. Maybe what I say applies to other nationality as well, but I cannot talk on their behalf.

When we visit a new place, we take no time to dismiss their taste in food, clothing and lifestyle. Why do we yearn for a Indian food, abroad? Do people abroad not eat, or they have no taste for good food? Why not try local cuisine? It is not about imitating others or trying to blend in. It is about putting yourself in the other person’s shoes to understand and appreciate their culture and the generations of refinement that has gone into their way of life as well.

Food was an easy one to pick on, but I can go on about several other things. We never seem to stop and think why are things the way they are. Just because they are not the same as we are used to, they are bad or stupid.

On the flip side, when we visit India, we do not blend in there as well. We will criticize the traffic, the life style, the nosy neighbors etc. etc. We will not even drink the same water that others do. Are they so beneath us?

So instead of feeling at home, we are foreigner or might I say aliens, at home and abroad. What a cursed life to live.


Piece of action or peace of mind?

Every once in a while, I have to stop and think about how much consumption driven we have become. Indian’s were, and still are, one of the highest savers in the world. But things are changing rapidly with the young. Saving is not very high on the list of priorities.

Being Green

Everyone talks about being green, buying green. We participate in new fads like the ‘Earth day’. Personally, I think that not buying at all is even better.  Do you really need to buy a new mobile phone each year? What about the music player, the laptop, the car?

Whether I look at children or young employed adults, I see a clear trend. Everyone wants the biggest; latest; best, gadgets; phones; bikes etc. This is one American cultural influence I am not very comfortable with. Americans are known for their massive debt powered consumption. But imagine, with India’s population and her growing appetite what could happen to this planet?