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Entrepreneurs’ Anthem

“Yeh Housla Kaise Jhuke, Yeh Aarzoo Kaise Ruke”

This has been one song which has always inspired me and helped me find motivation to fight against all odds. Song plays in a different setting in the movie ‘Dor’, and am too far away from anything like that in my life. But for someone who has jumped in uncertain waters of entrepreneurship and now learning to swim the hard way, this is certainly a song that would keep pumping oxygen in his lungs.

Determination, dedication and belief; without being arrogant or stubborn or foolhardy; and also being modest about it – is what would hand you swimmer that oyster of pearl! I especially love these lines from the song:

होगी हमें जो रहमत अदा, धूप कटेगी साये तले…

अपनी खुदा से है यह दुआ, मंजिल लगा ले हमको गले…

जुर्रत सौ बार रहे, ऊँचा इकरार रहे, जिंदा हर प्यार रहे…

यह हौसला कैसे झूके!!! यह आरजू कैसे रुके!!!

Hats off to singer Shafaqat Ali Khan and music composers Salim-Sulaiman. You guys are blessed, really! I am still searching who has written these meaningful lines. Any hints?

Enjoy the song:

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Facebook seems to have upped the ante in India and is aggressively pushing itself in India. For last couple of weeks, the very prominent “Find your Orkut friends on Facebook” campaign has been running on Facebook.

Orkut friends campaign on Facebook

Orkut friends campaign on Facebook

And yesterday I saw a Facebook promoting its ‘user-tagging’ feature in the status updates for wishing friends and family members for Diwali (check the attached screenshot).

User-tagging in status updates for Diwali wishes

User-tagging in status updates for Diwali wishes

User-tagging in status updates for Diwali Wishes - Expanded

User-tagging in status updates for Diwali Wishes - Expanded

Festive wishes often flood status updates over Facebook. Understanding this trend in user behaviour and using it to promote the newly launched ‘user-tagging’ is a quite a clever move. Facebook does not have a dedicated India team but someone sitting there in Palo Alto, USA is doing a smart job of product management of Facebook for India 🙂

Cricket is said to be – and I can vouch it is – a gentlemen’s game. And where else would have such game originated other than England. If you ever had followed the game closely, you would know what it means to have a game in overcast cloudy weather, just like what London weather is famous for. Last Saturday, the same magic was repeated again at the majestic new VCA stadium at our own beautiful city of Nagpur. An on-off drizzle with continuous cloud cover with cool breeze in hot city of Nagpur and a quality game of test cricket at the breathtaking new VCA stadium – that’s what we call magic!

VCA stadium at Jamtha, Nagpur was host for the final match of Irani Trophy with Mumbai and Rest of India battling out for the championship. The two squads had popular known names of Indian cricket like Virender Sehwag, Rohit Sharma, Wasim Jaffer, Ajit Agarkar, Sreesanth. However cricket crazy our country might be, domestic cricket is still a distant poorer cousin of the games involving national side. Even after all these big popular names, there wasn’t much crowd, and stadium was thrown open for all spectators for free. Thanks to this free entry, I and my brother decided in afternoon to make an unplanned trip to stadium and enjoy the game in superb weather for some time.

The drive to stadium itself was wonderful, leaving behind the city traffic and zooming safely at high-speed on the smooth NH-7. Stadium has a huge parking lot which is sufficient to accommodate all the traffic for a packed house for an international match. Stadium is walled from all sides, and just as you climb stairs and enter the stands, you are presented with lush green field and a colourful stadium. The whole lots of green, blue and yellow chairs (guess they had too much of orange colour in the city of oranges that they missed that colour in stadium!) are arranged with such discipline, and may be because it is brand new – it is really very well designed and managed. It presents the viewer with such a grand and picturesque sight that everyone is surely going to get impressed. Chair-rows have ample leg-space between them and heighted properly so that you always have whole view of the stadium every time. Although we couldn’t enter into the media-house and players’ section (pavilion and gymnasium and all), have heard that stadium has one of the best facilities available in the country. Sitting in stands it was difficult to make out who the player was (also because many of them aren’t known faces yet of Indian cricket). Score-board also wasn’t clearly visible (there was another electronic score-board but that wasn’t functional for this match). But that wasn’t an issue as the whole stadium has got free wi-fi connectivity :). I had good time checking the commentary of match over cricinfo.com on my mobile using that wi-fi connection (thanks to the superb handset that Nokia E-51 is :))! Though it was a small motley crowd of students, die-hard fans of game and people just passing time, a good fielding effort or an appeal was promptly appreciated and applauded.

And just like the London weather, rain-gods decided to add more beauty to the already lush green field. Drizzle stopped the game and covers were out on the pitch. We took this pause in game to check out the upper stands. That was one good move we made, for the view of stadium from upper stands is still more awesome. Just thinking of having a full-house for India-Australia ODI on 28th of this month thrilled us. What a great sight it would to see live Yuvraaj hitting Bret Lee out of park and Harbhajan trapping Ponting LBW in flood-lights at this sparkling new VCA stadium! This new VCA stadium is one of the best cricket grounds in world and that certainly makes each Nagpurian swell with that extra pride for his hometown! Nagpurians – do check out this newest pride-spot for our city.

Colourful Stands

Colourful Stands

Yellow and Blue Stands

Yellow and Blue Stands

Play in progress @ VCA

Play in progress @ VCA

Entrance of VCA Nagpur

Entrance of VCA Nagpur

A Tryst With Dengue

Last week will go down as one of the worst in my life. I was down with Dengue fever and spent 1 night in ICU and 4 days in hospital. I was supposed to travel to Delhi and Chandigarh for the new web business I am setting up, and had meetings on Monday and Tuesday (21 – 22 September). However I had started feeling uneasy on Sunday 20th itself, but thought it was because of the routine exertion and will go off with a crocin and a night’s sleep, and hence I continued with travel plans although I was feeling feverish at Nagpur airport itself. Monday and Tuesday at Delhi were horrible, with me throwing up everything I was eating, and running temperature. Somehow I finished my Tuesday meeting, cancelled my evening train ticket and returned back to Nagpur by Wednesday morning flight. That was one wisest decision that I must have taken in recent past of not traveling by train on Tuesday night. I landed in Nagpur with 104 temperature and straightway slept off after taking a crocin. Thanks to my doctor brother-in-law (jijaji) who immediately realized the gravity of situation (which I couldn’t understand) and put me on IV fluids (commonly known as saline) and gave all the anti-biotics and other medicines through it as I was vomiting everything I was eating. Although my temperature was back to normal on Thursday, blood test report showed that I am running an infection which is fast depleting my immune system. Biology students will remember the role of White-Blood-Corpuscles and platlets (which are responsible for stopping bleeding). Normal range of platlets count in blood is 1.5 to 4 lakhs, and it had dropped down to 30,000 in my case, liver had gotten an inflammation and there were all chances of complications, internal bleeding and liver, kidney and more organs failing. There was a patient with these complications in the same hospital being treated for dengue. Thankfully Jijaji understood the seriousness and I was admitted into ICU at 1am on Thursday night and treatment was started. I responded well, and by Friday evening, I was showing all signs of recovery.

But the night I spent in ICU, though I didn’t realize it then, was quite critical. For the first time I had hallucinations. I saw strange faces staring at me, and then these faces turning into monsters. I was just waiting for whole of my life to flash in front of me, but by God’s grace things didn’t turn that bad. I didn’t have a proper meal for whole 8 days and was relying only on apples and fruits and IV fluids. I came back home on Dussherra and have been recuperating since then. Thanks to my friends there in Delhi and Jijaji and my family that I managed to avoid complications of Dengue and am back in business in a span of 10 days.

My last post about Facebook Lite was more about how close it takes Facebook to Twitter.This post talks about the another most striking feature of Facebook Lite – the absence of applications and quizzes. While it certainly makes the page look less cluttered and clean, and significantly reduces the page-weight (hence making it ‘Lite’), this is a significant change in user-experience over Facebook.

Applications, quizzes and games have been a key differentiator for Facebook over other social networks (read Orkut) and were among the key reasons for its stupendous rise in popularity across the world. Official Facebook worldwide statistics put the number of active applications on Facebook at 350,000; and every month more than 70% of Facebook users engage with platform applications. This application platform has attracted more than one million developers and entrepreneurs over 180 countries. It would be interesting to see how these 1 million developers of Facebook applications react to Facebook Lite.

When it comes to Facebook usage in India, a quick look at the Indian traffic data for Facebook applications on Vizisense shows that different applications residing on Facebook apps server are accessed by 2.9 million Indian unique users per month, which is a sizable chunk (36.61%) of the 7.91 million unique users per month base of Facebook in India. Also it is a known fact that Facebook has seen more traction and early adoption among the more evolved internet users in India. It has significantly higher following among the high-income and more-educated users who are expected to have access to high speed internet connections; and also are more evolved and regular internet users to understand and appreciate these Facebook applications. Facebook usage among income-group of more than Rs. 15 lakhs is 1.62 times national average, and that among PhD/Doctorate is 1.38 times the national average. Facebook has been a welcome substitute for people who had got bored with Orkut and also irritated by the spamming, privacy concerns and fake profiles over it. Check the screen-shot of Vizisense data below.

Facebook Demographics - Income and Education

Facebook Demographics - Income and Education

This user-experience over Facebook Lite (with no applications) will not be a new thing. Those who access Facebook over its mobile site (m.facebook.com) get to see status updates, photos, external links, events from friends, but no applications. Facebook Lite will be extending this user-experience over web, of course with a much cleaner and easier page-design. Official Facebook statistics say that Facebook Mobile has over 65 million active users worldwide and that these mobile users are 50% more active than those over web. Assuming that more activity means more page-views, in India however numbers seems to be telling a different story.

Unique Users/month Page Views/month Page-views per user per month
Facebook India (overall) 7.91 million 774 million 97.85
Facebook Mobile India 0.028 million 0.783 million 26.25
Source: For Facebook India (overall) – http://vizisense.com/sites/facebook.com;
For Facebook Mobile India – http://vizisense.com/sites/m.facebook.com;
Vizisense data for month of August ’09.

Above table clearly shows that Facebook usage over mobile is yet to pick up in India and engagement levels are dismally small as compared to overall Facebook; and my guess is that absence of applications is one of the key reasons for this.

In light of this data, absence of applications over Facebook Lite page does not seem to be the best step forward for Facebook in India, one of the only 2 countries (other being US) where Facebook is testing its Facebook Lite page. There seems to be more to this move than what is meeting the eyes, and better and faster service to users with slower internet connections certainly does not look like the end-objective of Facebook Lite.

Having said that, only time will tell if this new lighter Facebook Lite page which downloads quickly on slower internet connections – but with no applications – will change the above data and demographics for Facebook in India. If it’s succeeds, it would be interesting to see whom does it dethrone – Orkut or Twitter :).

Facebook does not seem to get over of its Twitter-mania (or phobia).

First they made an unsuccessful attempt to acquire Twitter for $500 million, then they re-designed the site to make the content more sharable and put more stress on “What’s on your mind?” status messages, made sharing external links easier; and now we have the new feature on Facebook which allows user to tag their friends (or groups or fan-pages) with a Twitter-like @ symbol in their status updates. The @<username> identity of Twitter users is fast becoming a part of standard online coordinate of netizens. This @<username> has been the popular way of replying to tweets and linking to profile pages over Twitter, and it works exactly the same on Facebook as well.

@User Tagging on Facebook

@User Tagging on Facebook

Also, last week Facebook started testing in US and India it’s much talked lighter version named as “Facebook Lite” – a sleek, clean and lighter version of Facebook. Although Facebook officially says Facebook Lite is for users with slower internet connections, and NOT a competition for Twitter, one look at Facebook Lite page tells you the entire story. Here are the screen-shots:

Facebook Lite Screen Shot

Facebook Lite Screen Shot

Facebook Lite Screen Shot

Facebook Lite Screen Shot

The “What’s on your mind?” status update box makes way for a still bigger and simpler “Write” status update box. Prominently missing are all the applications and quizzes. The page reminds users of the earlier days of Facebook when all the quizzes and other application updates would not clutter your Facebook home-page. Stress is clearly more on status updates and wall-posts; and though not explicitly but Facebook seems to be trying to drive Twitter-like status updates and conversations through this Lite page. It would be interesting to see how these users will react to Facebook Lite with no applications and quizzes; and how heavy this Lite page becomes if ever Facebook decides to put applications on it.

Is Facebook really trying to woo users with slower internet connections, or is this another of Facebook’s attempts to get deeper in Twitter’s domain – What do you think?

“Piya Tora Kaisa Abhimaan!!!”

This one line of song from the movie ‘Raincoat’ has been lingering in my mind and heart since I heard it after a long time last night. There is so much pity, misery, helplessness, despair, pain in this one line. Love can, at times, really be such a depressing feeling!

Love in its purest form, I have been told, is all about giving. True lover gives up everything for his love, sacrifices all his happiness and pleasures for one smile of his love. In all other give-and-take affairs, it’s the receiver who is being humbled and giver takes all the pride. But here, we see a lover in his purest form bending to his knees, but that doesn’t budge the spine of the rude loved one even a radian. And still, the lover goes on; and the loved sticks to his ego, his false ego!

While love is all that concerns for the lover, the loved one, here, puts this significance to his ego. Goals differ; ideals, priorities mismatch, and you have such miserable situation. What a pity it is to lose something as ever-lasting like love for something as ephemeral as ego!

As I ponder over this gloomy song, I am reminded of a story of a pundit and a scorpion that I had read in my childhood. It must be from Panchtantra – they used to make such interesting and meaningful stories, I owe a lot of my ideals and principles to them. Story goes this way – a pundit was taking a bath in river, and he saw a scorpion getting swept away in the water current. Taking pity on the poor animal, pundit picked it up and started moving towards river-bank to take the scorpion safely out of water. However immediately the scorpion stung pundit with it’s tail. Pundit felt the pain running all through his body, he almost fell in the river, and scorpion fell off his hands and again began drowning with the river current. Pundit immediately gathered himself, and again picked up the scorpion and started moving towards safety of river-bank. However again, scorpion stung pundit, pundit felt immense pain, and scorpion fell off in river, pundit again picked it up. This picking up, stinging, falling off and picking up again went on for some time, and finally pundit managed to get the scorpion to the safety of land. An onlooker was watching this from bank, and said to pundit – “you are really a stupid man. Its dharma of scorpion to sting, and yet you kept on picking it up”. To this, pundit replied – “if that small animal cannot let go his dharma, how can I – a human being – let go mine. That animal was dying, and it was my dharma to save it”.

Doing what is one supposed to do when all is hunky-dory is no fun, is no great deal. It is when things go against you, it is when all your goodwill, noble thoughts, selfless help goes unnoticed, unappreciated and unanswered; that you need to continue being good. True test is do what is your dharma when everything practical around you suggest that it is stupidity to continue. In the last book I read – “Games Indians Play”, there is a quote from Bhagwad Gita which goes like this – “You have right only to your actions, and not to their results!” Nothing can be more true!

Blessed is the person who loves selflessly. Love is too precious to be put at stake for one’s ego. Love is said to transcend all boundaries, and so often I have seen it faltering at boundary of false egos. So often, people play the “who-blinks-first” game and stake their love, their friendship on the outcome. Not to lose in this game, their eyes are always wide open, but even with these wide-open-eyes, they miss seeing the obvious truth that love is far far more precious than these false egos. By the time their open eyes and closed brains realize this, often it is too late.  It becomes too late to blink and make up. It becomes too late to go back and erase everything, and start afresh. It simply becomes to too late to set it correct. It is simply lost, forever!

5 seconds of this song tells you all this, in the most hard-hitting manner… “Piya Tora Kaisa Abhimaan!”

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