It’s not only with blonde, but at times the much-acclaimed, multi-million dollars algos running multi-million dollar sites can also turn out to be totally dumb. Cleartrip gave me a wonderful example of this today.

I was checking for tickets for return trip from Pune to Ahmedabad and Cleartrip came up with the best price offer for the trip. It was indeed the lowest fare possible, just that it needed me to jump from one aircraft onto other in the sky. Cleartrip’s super intelligent algo suggested that I should take 07:55am flight from Pune reaching Ahmedabad at 09:05am; and guess what, start return journey from Ahmedabad at 08:45am!!! Check this screenshot. 

Best case for me to do this would be to the Akshay-Kumar style dare-devil act of jumping from one plane onto other. It becomes more challenging and exciting as the most likely time when these two flights will be closest will be when Ahmedabad-onwards flight would be descending and Pune-onwards flight would be ascending. Though this won’t be at 32,000 feet, it would be somewhere in morning clouds over Ambavad! Sounds exciting? Wanna join?😛

Jokes apart, it is really sad to see such stupid mistake from Cleartrip. With all these millions of dollars spent into making these travel engines, more millions in marketing this engine, and what you get is such stupid miss. Not that it will make them lose their business, but certainly gives them a bad name. And yes, also gives me a good laugh thinking how it would be to make this return trip successful🙂

Google recently made another attempt at breaking Facebook’s monopoly in social networking sphere by launching Google+. Its a good product, concept of circles of friends is interesting and mimics real life situation. However Google has made a mess of it by compulsorily linking Picasa albums to Google+. Picasa is a wonderful photo-sharing product and should remain so, it’s incorrect to abruptly turning it into a feature of a social network.

Many people, including me, used Picasa to share photos which they do not want to share on Facebook. Picasa has been my private photo sharing tool, and I want it to remain so. Google+ still shares the photos and comments only with people it has been explicitly shared with by email, but a tag of person outside this sharing list of emails can make photo go out of those circle and can make it public. It’s a definite breach of privacy. Google does notifies about this possibility but it would be really stupid for them to expect people would understand complete implication of this just by reading the note. I am sure soon there will be an uproar about this, just like what happened with Google Buzz when it by default made contact list public as your connections on Buzz.

Photo-sharing is a very important feature of a social network, and contributes a lot to its growth. Facebook now has more photos being shared than proper photo-sharing sites like Flickr and Picasa. Considering this, it is understandable that Google wants to leverage it’s existing photo-sharing facility for Google+. However by doing that, they are demoting Picasa into being just a feature of Google+ than being a proper photo-sharing site. They should give an option to delink Picasa from Google+ for those who want to continue using Picasa as it has been till now. And if it wants to, I am sure it will definitely come up with hundreds of more engaging and interesting features and ways to get more and more photos shared on Google+ specifically for purpose of photo-sharing on a social network. Hope someone at Google is listening to this!

“Life is all that happens when we are busy planning for it”

I had heard this way back, and had smiled at it. Being the person that I am, I smiled thinking how people living their lives on their own terms would laugh upon this and say its not true. They will laugh on people who plan, plan and plan but never act. Never get enough momentum, enough reason to get their plans in action. And meanwhile life takes its own turns and twists, making all their plans useless in one stroke. Many people refer to this as luck!

Then there are people who plan things really deep… deep to the extent of making it a totally foolproof plan. Problem with foolproof plans is that it strives on plan B and plan C, which are not really foolproof. So when your foolproof plan fails because of luck or “acts of God”, they blame externalities and go to plan B and plan C. But they don’t just to plan B and C, then panic and rush to these B and C plans, they often miss out planning the movement to plan B and C, and hence though they have backup plans, these backup plans backfire stupendously. When their master plan fails, their confidence on their own planning skills, their execution capabilities take a hit, and this gives a severe blow to the execution of plan B and C. So however good is their backup plan, they don’t get to execute it the way they would have loved to.

So then is what this quote says true – does really life is all that happens when we are busy planning for it? Does really planning ever helps in life?

I would say, it helps when you do it at broad levels. While it is always good to plan things to tee, it should be done when you have parameters on which success of plan depends in your control, or plan to get them under your control. Given the externalities that life throws at you at every other moment, it’s best to plan for broad objectives that you want to achieve, and leave the “reaching there” part to the doer when he is doing it on field. Plan for distance that you can see and visualize sitting at your couch, but not for the potholes and blind turns that you don’t know are present there on those roads. Let your better sense of judgment and common sense tackle these twists and turns on ground. Keeping an eye on the big picture will be sufficient to direct you through these unexpected events on your planned track.

So there you are… I had not planned this blog post word by word, but it happened as I started writing. So plan your life to the level that you always know what direction you need to take at every fork on road. No point in planning to drive down the road but not knowing which turn to take! Plan what you can plan, and be ready to take on what you cannot plan.

Facebook recently released their intern Paul Butler’s work – “Facebook Connection Map”. It’s an interesting way of looking at how people are connected on Facebook. I took a closer look at how these connections are for India on Facebook and found some interesting things to point out. Here they are:

India – Pakistan:

Offline animosity of India and Pakistan continues over Facebook also. There aren’t many connections between two countries. However it’s noticeable that strongest linkages between two countries are of:

  1. Karachi – Mumbai
  2. Karachi – Delhi
  3. Srinagar – Islamabad/Rawalpindi
  4. Lahore – Indian Punjab

No surprises here, eh? Certainly not for the Karachi Connections🙂

South vs North India:

South India is much better connected than North. Besides Delhi, Lucknow – Kanpur and Jaipur, North does not have much to speak. Whereas the triangle of Bangalore – Chennai – Hyderabad is super connected with each other. Also whole of coastal Kerala is quite connected, among itself and also to Gulf. Again, no surprises, eh?🙂

Chennai – Truly South India:

Delhi is well connected with Hyderabad and Bangalore, but not with Chennai. Talks a lot about why Chennai specifically represents the South India than the other two cities – distinctly different and still very regional to become a cosmo city like Bangalore or Mumbai.

Cities hunt in pairs:

Bangalore – Mysore, Mumbai – Pune, Ahmedabad – Surat – Baroda, Lucknow – Kanpur, Indore – Bhopal, Nagpur – Raipur, Hyderabad – Vizag connection is very evident. Just like pace bowlers in cricket, cities also grow in pairs.🙂

Facebook is still blue, no red on it… yet:

And yes, thankfully naxals are not on Facebook. Big hole in Dandkaranya and interiors of Bihar – UP  makes Facebook a safe place to be🙂

For reference, here’s the complete world map:

It has been a long hiatus from blogging. Have had several things to blog about – movies, books, interesting people and encounters and also loads of travel. I almost always had blog posts ready in my mind, but nothing could make it to blog, purely owing to procrastination from my side. So it’s perfectly fitting that what I am blogging about after this long is procrastination itself.

Recently I read this interesting article about procrastination. From stating that “Procrastination is basic human impulse” to identifying “divided and competing selves of same individual” as key reason for procrastination, this article goes into in-depth scientific analysis of why people procrastinate and what can one learn about procrastinator’s mindset by studying this behaviour. The overall tone is that procrastination is a vice, and it is definitely the most common ‘weakness’ for all candidates filling personal details section of any job/education application. But more I think of it, I feel it’s not all that bad, and that it has some positives also.

Though I have intently tried not to, I myself have been in the shoes of procrastinator often, especially off-late after I have done my MBA and supposedly have a more evolved thought-process🙂 . I don’t think it’s just coincidence, rather I feel it has a lot to do with the tendency of adjusting to unfolding information and managing things as they come.

Let’s first agree that procrastination is not shirking work. Procrastinator is a rational person who genuinely intends to do the task, but always finds a valid reason to postpone it to a later date. He is not avoiding responsibility but instead is always intelligently and dynamically prioritizing other important tasks over the one he is procrastinating. He is not just simply making excuses every time he is not doing the task, but instead is generating more and more options of optimally utilizing the available resources. He is not taking losses when he does not do the task, instead he is on the fly creating newer and newer scenarios of doing the same task on a later date and still achieving the optimal result out of it. He is continuously doing the cost-benefit analysis of utilizing the available time for the task and impact it will have in the larger scheme of affairs. And the rational fellow he is, he ends up finding reasons – mind it, very valid and creative reasons – of not doing the task at that moment.

When one procrastinates, he is actually intelligently evaluating option of doing thing now or later – a process which indicates the evolved thought-process that one not only possesses, but also applies in daily life. Procrastinator is not in a military setup where all that he has to do is blindly follow orders; he is not slave of any mechanized setting where something has to be done only in a specified way, in pre-decided time duration and at the standardized time. Instead he is always pushing his rational thinking, his creativity, his analytical thinking process and his intellect in general to newer limits. He is mastering the art of prioritizing things on the fly based on the continuous inputs that he is getting from universe!

So all those who are still identifying procrastination as their weakness, you guys need a serious rethink and introspection; and appreciate the incredible service procrastination has been doing towards evolution of human beings!!! World needs to wake up to procrastination that is the being a critical stimulus for human creativity to flourish… and is continuously allowing more critical and important tasks to be done before the less important ones, so that this world can be a better place sooner than one is thinking it can be!!!🙂

Image Credits: fopaws.com, glasbergen.com


Kite Runner is an intense book. It has been a best-seller across the world, and I might have been quite late to awake to the riches of Khaled Hosseini’s writing. But I have never been a fiction-reader either. Still this book kept me glued, and I had to complete it before it goes back and down the stack of books in my cupboard.

Much has already been written about Kite Runner book, there have been plenty of reviews and also a movie based on it. It’s a story of two kids who grew up together and were almost brothers – but couldn’t be because one was son of master and other was son of slave. Slave-kid is ready to take on anything in life for his master’s son, whereas master’s kid stands as a meek mute spectator when the slave-kid is being insulted. This guilt never allows master’s kid to live a normal life, but destiny gives him a chance to pay back the price of his meekness and get the burden of guilt off his chest.

Kite Runner

Story is beautifully weaved in the Afghan country of 1980s. The portrayal of Afghanistan and its culture is simply amazing. What beautiful country it must have been! How beautiful their culture has been! Khaled has very nicely crafted the character of Baba – father of the master-kid – a virtuous, god-fearing, respected, stern Afghan lord. You can feel the strength of his character in the story.

Khaled has also portrayed with full life the brutality of Soviet invasion and the destruction it caused to the whole of Afghanistan and its culture. The plight of the wealthy noble Afghan lord, his meek child, and the also the brave but unfortunate slave-kid is horrifying to read. While the heart keeps on saying that this is just a fiction and not to be believed, we all know what mess Afghanistan has been for decades now. I have been reading about the rich culture and life and history of that part of the world, and this novel gave me one very dreaded glimpse of how horrible life have been there since the cold-war days Soviet invasion.

The story of guilt of the key protagonist of the novel is also heart-touching. And it leaves me with a question difficult to answer.

I guess every sane mind and feeling heart will have some guilt or other that keeps pricking him every now and then. It is up to the heart and mind to decide what to do with it. Should the guilt be simply swept to a dark corner of life and heart and forgotten with an iron lid on it, or accept it as your destiny and live with that for your whole life. While forgetting the guilt behind that iron curtain would just turn heart into a stone that hundred more such “guilts” won’t matter to it; making an irony of the iron-lid heart it is. You may decide to live with it if you want to. If you have an option, you would want to go back and set things right, set the canvas back to blank and move ahead in life – hopefully becoming enough careful and concerned that you don’t ever get into any other guilt-trap. That’s what our master-kid does when he goes back to the troubled homeland to hopefully set the wrongs that happened of him in his childhood.

But what do you do if this is not an option… If there is no chance to go back and erase all the black letters that life happened to write on naïve white slate of life… If the guilt is something which is going to be like the sore thorn that neither can be pulled out, nor be just brushed off in the deep pit of forgetfulness of mind and heart… What if you have to live life with that dark ugly feeling of letting down someone who was counting on you, dreaded feeling of helplessness of not being able to do you bit when it was required the most, horrible feeling of being guilty of your own soul.

Guess there isn’t an escape out of this. Mind and heart has to come to peace with it and accept it as the resident sorrow of life. The guilty serpent will have to keep crawling on its belly; Adam’s apple is going to stay stuck in the throat. Souls guilty of guilt will remain slaves of the guilt forever… till the radiance of forgiveness and peace of being true to yourself don’t cleanse you off this blot of guilt.

Over last couple of weeks, I have been floored by the Pranav Mistry’s “Sixth Sense” technology that he showcased at TED India meet. Suddenly there was huge surge of national pride, and everybody went mad talking about it. Twitter, Facebook, forward mails and what not. Talks about Indians leading the technology and all that.

I had seen his technology and realized the immense and game-changing potential it possesses, but around 10 months back in Feb 2009 when he showed it for the first time in TED US meet. Here is the link to that. No questions about the amazing invention it is, and humongous new revolutionary possibilities it opens up. But what pains me is that this news was totally missed back then in Feb-March 2009 when it first came out of labs and was demoed to real world. We say we live in the information age today, whole world is a village, it takes not more than a blink to break the news to each and everyone across the world. And what are we seeing here.

Pranav Mistry became source of national pride only after some media guy gave it that twist. It becomes a rage across Indians when invention actually travels to India physically with its inventor and people get to see it. Is this any different than the middle-ages, just that the modes of transport has improved now and so transportation across seven seas now needs not more than few hours.  Why didn’t this ‘Sixth Sense’ took every Indian media by storm back then in March 2009 itself?

What are we talking about? We are talking about a really really futuristic technology, but fail to take advantage of very basic applications of information access we all have right now. Why are we riding a bullock cart on the information highway? I can understand we need to be fed news, but we can choose which source to consume and also need to give some thought before consuming it. Why do we act so dumb and take whatever is thrown at us as a Gospel truth? Information is good, but let us treat it as that only and retain the ability to decipher it with a little application of the reasoning we have.

Makes sense?

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