Tuesday, December 30, 2014

At Abu Dhabi Airport

 Here I'm at the Airport Lounge waiting for my flight to take me back home. There are are so many songs just around this feeling and they are all playing in my head now.
From Doughtry to John Denver... 
My Credit Card has some privilages that hitherto I was unaware of. For example, I'm eligible for availing Airport Lounge Services free of charge six times a year. Here I am at the fag end of the year. But then , its nice... the food sumptious and wine heady...
Its been a vacation long in waiting whose time has come... I busted the last one due to some project concerns and almost lost this for the same reasons. 

Its been an eventful year gone by. 
It began with the promise of a new job and life. Then the bank offer came up and changed my life completely. I never thought I'd ever move out of Mumbai again. With a decent house, all the amenities and a good circle of friends I thought I'm good, till Abu Dhabi happened. It actually was an outcome of something I had initiated back in March-13. My family life was on the rocks and I wished I could escape it through a job outside Mumbai so that it won't look too freaky. Most of that year went like that... We barely tolerated each other. She had drifted away. I saw her moving away. I had little energy left to steer or confront which looked facile... We discussed the Abu Dhabi offer and decided I should take it. 

The biggest casualty was my daughter. I knew I'd miss her and I did. When my family visited me in May, they left a few of their clothes behind. I'd open the closet and stare at her frocks and her T shirts. I'd smell them. They always smelled of the detergent though. I should have known. She missed me too. I was surprised. She is not someone who expresses her hurt or feelings much. But this time she decided to let her disapproval known. 

Over time, and my frequent visits, some of the distances were bridged. I have my wife and God to thank that she came around. Its been like this. I put her in tough spot, she makes a huge sacrifice to make it good, she expects me to reciprocate or at least step up. And despite my best intentions I don't measure up. This time again she has decided to let go her career and join me in Abu Dhabi. Its a big sacrifice. I kept pushing back, not sure if I can step up to it but she was resolute. I think I've mentioned in my previous blogs somewhere, I need the bar lowered or I'm sure I'll fail yet again.

Hope things will be different this time. I'm looking forward to this trip. Looking forward to 2015 and hoping I can build on what began in 2014...

Saturday, September 20, 2014

Month 105,104

I'm writing after august and most of September. The challenges at work continue. I had thought I have established some good credentials, but the goal post moved and where it moved, I could not get to in time. So, I've failed. My first failure. And it's going to cost me. They will bring another guy on top of me to manage things. Cool...

It's tough to accept demotion. I'm struggling to come to terms with it. Spoke to my wife. She seems okay with it. There are 2 possible ways to respond. Accept and continue. Try spend as much time as possible in the region. Get my family here. Make money and stop bothering about career. The other is to start another journey. Just like my site, find another hobby, another hillock to climb. Stay away from family for 3 years, improve resume as much as I can and then return to India. 

The first one is too humiliating. But it gives me money and a chance to stay on here. The second means 3 years of separation with my family and the hope that I can find something in India in 3 years. 

Thursday, September 18, 2014

Kids can surprise!

D is my best daughter....
Growl!!! I'm your only daughter. 
That's how the conversation goes in my house. In most ways my daughter is middle of the road kind. She goes to school. Has very few friends. Gets a few B's and an occasional C. Her achievements are few and far between. This upsets her only when one of her friends wins something. But generally she is unperturbed, unflappable. 

We have accepted this. Though we keep trying to get her interested in things, keep prodding her to learn new stuff, she shrugs it all off. 

Yesterday however we were in for a pleasant surprise. No, she did not win anything. Nor did she score perfect marks in her report card. What she did was to operate the printer all by herself. Now that's something even my wife doesn't / can't do. It so happened that she wanted a printout of a form she wanted to fill out. The paper tray of canon mx860 is at the bottom. Also you sometimes struggle to keep it aligned. The fact that she could negotiate all that and take a printout surprised me no end. The same day she also fixed the clock. It's actually a digital photo album. We use it as a clock as we can see the time even in the dark. Now it's 3 yrs old and it has serious challenges. The buttons are all stuck  and it takes some amount of skill and great patience to set it once it's switched off and back on. My wife stays away from it. It's too irksome for her to set it.

That my D could do these things on the same day it most intriguing. What actually happen that day was that a friend of hers won some competition and she was a little upset that she could not. 

But for both of us parents, it revealed a side of hers that we had never seen before. The fact that she has resolve and will was new to us. 
She is my best daughter. Love her the most. Miss her the most. 

Friday, September 05, 2014

52:30 10K

ADNEC is a big place. When a colleague told me about a 10K run in Sep, I flatly refused. Too hot I said. But then, it's in ADNEC he said. So what, I quipped. It's covered and airconditioned he explained. I registered. 
When I reached there in the morning, I was all groggy. I had a fitful sleep yesterday. In fact I was so dazed I wore my bib upside down till someone casually pointed out. 
The arena is huge. Quite spacious. There was a small crowd of runners. Perhaps about 100. Mostly white. NO Desis! I believe UAE is 50% or more desi, and yet no one to represent the race(pun). 
But even with such a massive structure, We went back and forth in a serpentine manner 4-5 times to clock the distance. It's 2km per lap. 

And I did well. Best 10K I've ever clocked. 52:30. I just need to stay the course. Hope I do. 

Saturday, August 16, 2014

Month 107 106

Jun and Jul were hectic. My first project went live. Some kind of relief. Though I won't feel till all aspects of it are working fine. 
Went to Mumbai twice. In Jun and then again in July. Staying away has created a closeness I had not felt in a long time. Her job circumstances have not improved. She's seriously pondering coming over, which is good. Sometimes your boss' boss can have more impact in your life than the boss herself. She is realizing it now. Also, there is another job opty that has come up. Though it's not confirmed yet, it may cause changes in plan. Still fluid still uncertain. 
I'm so much in work that I'm not able to gym properly. For the entire work week I just can't make it to the gym. Over the weekend I try and make up for it but just 2 days a week is not good enough. 
There are serious challenges at the work place. The entire environment is broken. Don't know how will I be able to manage it. My new role as the pmo is posing significant challenge. Also, there is pressure to recruit PMs. The new CIO wants diversity and in IT in this region it's hard to get. 
Did I mention I'm liking my cooking. Despite some screwups I was able to prepare edible stuff that I then enjoy eating for the rest of the week. 

Sunday, June 29, 2014

A Good Run!

I've written about my improved performance (running) since I landed here. It's difficult to believe and tempting to think that I've actually improved. Especially after 2 years of decline, I could turn things around. Perhaps it's the miscalibrstion of the treadmill or perhaps it's a friendly gradient of the belt or both. But the truth is that for the first time in my life I ran 8 Km on the trot in 40 min. The best ever in India was 5 km in 25 min. Sometime in apr, I had run 7 km in 35 min at the Sheraton. I've done a few 6 km in 30 in between. All pointing in the same direction. Let's hope this reflects positively on my on road performance. I intend to start my corniche runs again in October. Hope, they are good. 

Btw I looked up Dubai marathon. It wierd that there is no 21!kms category. It's either 42 kms or 10. No half marathon.  That's wierd. Hence I probably will be running Mumbai in 2015 also. Hope I make it count. 

Friday, June 13, 2014

Month 108

The month gone by had its challenges. The new CIO has taken charge at the bank. He brings his own ideas to the table. I'm hearing about an impending reorg. Having come here for just 3 months, I'm a little un-nerved by this. It seems my portfolio will move directly under him. This can be both good and bad. On one had where it gives me an opty to catch his attention, I'm also opening my self to scrutiny. With my current boss, I knew he had brought me here and so I enjoy a level of comfort. That comfort does not exist with the new boss. Lets see how things turn out.

My wife's experience at the bank back in India has not changed much. Though she has a new boss, the super boss remains the same. That is a challenge. If things remain this way and her new boss does not show spine to stand up to the super boss, the stress levels will stay high. 

My daughter was ranked 7th in the english olympiad, in her school. She was happy and I was happy for her. As a person, she is not a high achiever. These are small trophies we'll all cherish as she grows. 

I'm having my second round of sore throat and running nose. While these are minor ailments, these are the times you miss family the most. Holed up in the house, I'm cooking, cleaning and tending to self. The good thing is I do not have high fever. That would have made things worse. 

I started off once again with my 1000 year project of creating an workflow engine. I had the energy for a day or two. Its back to square one now. 

The temperature here has soared. I bathe in sweat, within 3 min of walking into the sun. This heat has caused this cold and sore throat. The entire summer is ahead of me. Dunno how to survive this. Back during the time I was holed up in my house in Virginia, I used to wonder, between extreme cold and heat, I'd prefer the heat any day. At least I see the sun. I'm not very sure now that I'm walking in 44 degrees direct heat.

Thursday, May 29, 2014

Putting it on Burning it Off

A while ago I read an Article on yoyo diet. It described people who shed weight on an impulse but do not have the staying power and so soon bounce back to their chubby selfs. It warned against quick weight loss diets stating some long term hazards of such manuovers. I was amused by it and pretty smug in my ability to keep my waistline. 

Alas! Ever since I landed here, I've fallen prey to the rich food and generous helpings served at the local restaurants. I prided myself in my ability to burn it all on a treadmill. But despite my best attempts, the fat seems to stick refusing to vaporise. 

I've now come to believe the reason I could stay slim all these years was not so much due to my ability to burn but my extremely boring diet. Day after day, year after year I ate egg white bhurji and 3 chapatis in my lunch. So much so that my lunch partners marveled at my darb routine. In dinner 5 days a week I ate salad. All in all same shit 5 days a week kept the flab away. 

Not any more. I seem to be wilting in this summer heat in Abu Dhabi and it'll take some serious and boring lifestyle changes to stay in my pants ;)

Friday, May 23, 2014

Prayers and Promises

Back in 2006 when I was going through the self inflicted paranoia, I turned  to god. I've confessed before, I'm not a religious man, but I'm a man of faith. I prayed to him hard and with all sincerity I could muster. I said to Him " No one in my family including my daughter, my wife and myself should ever be... Neither in the past, nor in the present nor in the future...". And God bailed me out. It took me time to realize and believe that I've been saved.

Later as time went by, the prayers changed. I moved on from the above to asking different things. They reflect my personal aspirations, family commitments and promises to self. I've asked to us to be together and happy. I asked for my daughter to have stable environment. I'm always afraid that somewhere in course of time, my daughter will drift away from me(emotionally). I've prayed for us to be together and me playing a constructive role in her life. I've asked for my wife to find a good job and be happy in it. I've asked for us to be together and happy as a family. I've asked for maids to stay so that my daughter could get some stability. I've asked for myself that "I do something more challenging, rewarding and satisfying...". For most part these were in harmony with each other. My prayer for personal growth, did not conflict in any way with my family commitments.

Then times changed. We had a few crises and I was not sure any more of what I wanted for self and family. I was ambivalent. During the rough times in the family I left it to God to decide if staying together is what he wanted me to do.

A few months ago, when the Abu Dhabi opportunity came up, I wasn't sure I wanted to take it up. It reflected a contradiction between my personal goals and my family priorities. How could I ask for stability for my daughter as I was the one rocking the boat. How could I ask for my wife to have a successful career when I was uprooting her. And yet how could I not accept this offer when this gave me the break I wanted for myself.

When I reached here I changed my prayers once again. I wanted my daughter to find happiness here. I wanted my wife to find a good job here. I wanted us to be together here and happy. I had preferred personal ambition over the family. There were some mitigating factors. I knew my daughter was losing her friend in India as our neighbors were moving to the US. So perhaps moving here may not be that bad for her. My wife had a tough / unreasonable boss who she hated and at some time was seriously contemplating quitting. I thought she may want to make a new beginning here. I spoke to my wife at length before accepting this offer and we agreed, this was the way to go. All in all it seemed plausible and even desirable to be here together as a family.

Earlier this month my family visited me here. My wife liked certain things about Abu Dhabi. I was happy she thought she could move here. They left last weekend and she joined the office this monday when she heard the news. Her boss was moved out of her area and her new boss seems to be a good person to work with. Not only her boss but her role may change a bit. She may get elevated in her role if not her designation. It was overall good news for her.But then there is the price. It now seems a better proposition to stay in her current job and grow.

For the last few days I'm confused. I'm in search of the right wish, the right prayer and a promise...

Saturday, May 17, 2014

Month 109 1st Year Gone By

So I reach my first milestone on this journey. Its been of year of hope and despair, endings and new beginnings, bitter truths, compromises and uncertainties . I hit a few low notes half way through the year. The desperation of Oct-Dec, the fears of Feb and March. Doing things against my principles. Facing up to them.

In the end, I've reached a trajectory that I think will help me deliver what I hoped for in the next 9 years. Challenges exist. My family will be uprooted. Honestly, they were well settled in Mumbai. Abu Dhabi will be be a challenge for them. I'm staying alone here for at least a year. The typical challenges of settling in.

The job all said and done is still a new challenge, too many concurrent threads. I need to balance multiple programs.But thats part of work life.Lets see how it goes.

Tuesday, May 06, 2014

Family Visit

The good news is that my family is here. On vacation. The bad news is they are bored. Now I can't afford them to think negative about this place. They plan to move in next year and I'd like them to enjoy their stay and look fwd to the impending relocation. 
But that's not so. Wife of a friend has already spooked my wife about the most important things. Quality of education for my daughter and work opty for her. 
To add to it, the internet / cable in my brand new house does not work. There is a cabling issue and neither Etisalat nor my owner have done anything about it. 
I'm using iPhone personal hotspot to connect to the internet. That works but is severely restrictive. 
It's just their 4th day and the signs of fatigue are setting in. The fact that my wife has to do all the chores is not helping either. 
Hope they are able to get past this brush with reality. Else we're doomed. 

Monday, April 21, 2014

Perhaps its True

I registered for a gym yesterday. The building I've moved into is brand new and has lots of teething problems. For example, the internet cable is not laid right and most of the homes do not get internet or cable. There is a gym room in the building but its bare. When I asked the Nathur(watchman) he confirmed that the gym will not be equipped till the entire building is occupied. In India I'd raised hue and cry about it. But here I merely shrugged and got out to check out gyms in the neighborood.

And gyms, there are aplenty. I could find 3 gyms within 200 m radius. The first one I visited and a 1 yr membership for 1500dhms. But it had restriction on using the treadmill. I could use the treadmill for only 40 min and could not run beyond 9kph. 

Okay! I said and went off to the next gym. The yearly fee was 1800dhm and you could run for at most 30 min. Speed no limit.

I returned home wondering how I could get my time on the treadmill. I tired running over the weekend in corniche and realized how hot and sultry its become in just a month. I do not think I can run along the corniche dr for the rest of the season. 

Yesterday, while returning home from office, I went to google maps and searched for gym near me. It brought up a pointer right at Electra and Salam junction. I popped in. The guy there looked at my employee card and said, xyz bank! We have a special scheme for your bank at 1000 dhms a year. That was great, till I saw the notice on the treadmill. It said, restricted to 20 min during rush hours. I enquired about the rush hours and they said, till 8:30pm. You could run for longer time after 8:30 pm. 

It worked perfectly for me. I did my 30 min run today. The treadmill was in miles and I went to 7.5mph straight away to test the fallacy of 7 km 35 min (12 kph). Well to my surprise, it held up well. I actullay did 7.5mph for 30 min without running out of breath. So, its official. I can claim, I can run at 12kph for 30 min. Yahoooo!

Friday, April 18, 2014

Pasta Time

After an exhausting run I had to cook my dinner. And so I decided on pasta with Alfredo sauce. I love Alfredo and had got a bottle in the morning from the groceries. I was checking with my wife on how to go about it and she asked me to add garlic to the preparation. I actually tried frying it before adding it. Some of it got burnt. I was disappointed. But when I sat to eat my dinner the burnt garlic really added to the taste. I loved the pasta. I believe it was better than any I had in a long time

Getting Warmer

I've heard horror stories about Abu Dhabi's summers. I've been here in sep-03 and have faced the heat myself. Today again I felt the tremors of the things to come. 
I knew it was getting hot so I delayed my going for my weekly run to about 7pm. Finally, by the time I reached Corniche it was close to 7:45 but the temp was high,  no breeze at all. I huffed and puffed my way and struggled to complete 10k. Also,
Corniche is a little farther from my new place. It's almost 2kms and that added to the effort. Pretty soon I'll not be able to run there. The only chance I have is a gym. 

I visited a couple of gyms today. One restricts running on treadmill to 40 min and not more than 9kph. The other to 30 min with no speed restrictions. The latter is more expensive at 1200dhm for 6 months. I have a gym here in the building but there is no equipment here. 

I'll decide tomorrow on my gymming future. 

Tuesday, April 15, 2014

New Home at its bare best!

Settling into the new Apt

Yet again I move into another apartment. The excitement of moving into a new house is always very palpable, very real. The first house I remember moving in as an adult was in Chandigarh. Back in 1999. Fresh out of B school I had just joined a product company. The money was good but the city was expensive even then. Its wierd, but as I recall, whenever I've gone house hunting (rental), I've always liked the first house the most. Internet postings were not so popular then. I scanned the newspapaer classifieds and narrowed down the search. It was a studio right above the garage section of a bunglow. It was freshly painted, White. Cheap destemper but clean. The rent was Rs.2700 pm which I think is high even today. But after visiting about half a dozen other places I had finally selected the first one.

House hunting in Abu Dhabi was also old world. I tried looking up houses on dubizzle, but most of the places were either too expensive or too downmarket. I have a close friend living here and he looked up a few places for me. Somehow, I did not like any. In the end it was a broker and with 100dhms fee, the first place he brought me was a brand new building that was still not occupied. I checked out both a studio and a 1 bhk. The studio was too small, but the 1bhk was a dream. With glass facades across the living room and the bedroom, it gave me okayish view of the city. There were 2 toilets and an open kitchen, I loved the moment I saw it. 

We left the place and he took me around some 7 other places, but my heart was stuck on this one. In the end, after a couple of weeks of searching, the first love prevailed and I finally eliminated all others to settle for this one. With 80K a year rent, the 1 bhk was pushing the envelope. With dedicated parking, I thought it was worth it. And so I took it up. I'll try and post a few pics in another post, just for posterity. 

Wednesday, April 09, 2014

Running Feel Good

Ever since I landed in AbuDhabi I've eaten like a pig. The food for the entire month was on the company and I've gained no less than 3 kgs in the last 3 weeks. 

Though I've tried to burn it all by running, it's stuck to me. Perhaps the tread mills are rigged to give guests a false sense of achievement. In India, just prior to relocation I could not do 5 km @11 kph on the treadmill without stopping once for a breather. Here I just zoom. Today I did 7 km in 35 min. That is an incredible 12kmph for 35 min. I've never done this before. The very best I ever did was 5 km in 25 min on the Gold gym treadmill. I was totally blown away. 

Not surprisingly I'm not able to lose weight though I'm clocking more than 20km a week. 

Tuesday, April 08, 2014

Month 110

A lot of changes and a fast paced life. It seems I've just changed lanes and suddenly hit the freeway. Days go by in a haze. A lot of pending work. Housing not closed yet. My family's visa, my driver's license. Furnishing the house a long list of unfinished work.

It'll take time to get this under control. I'm missing my daughter a lot. Her mother is having a tough time managing her alone. Wish they were here.

Its a long way from how I felt about relationships exactly a year ago. I just have to look at my draft blogs that I never published and don't want to revisit...

Yet to prove self at work. Hope in time will be able to settle...

Friday, March 28, 2014

Corniche Run

So I decided to go out and run today. Its been 2 weeks since I landed and I've been holed up all this while because of sore throat and back issues. Now that, my back is a little better and throat less itchy, I decided to take my chances and go out for a run. I must say, Abu-Dhabi looks gorgeous from the Corniche promenade. I ran a good 6 kms and still I could not reach the other end. I need to check how long is the beach. But it was truly amazing to look at the glittering shimmering towers in the fading lights and suddenly these fading facades turn into beacons as the lights come on. Totally loved it... 


After a lot of back and forth, I finally made it to Abu-Dhabi on the 14th of Mar. I have traveled in the past. But in all my excursions so far, this was the most painful one. The first challenge was to secure a passport, then visa and so on... It kept me on the edge for more than a month. Now that its settled and I'm here the other aspect that's gnawing at me is the separation from family. Wherever I've traveled, my wife has joined me in at most 3 months. But this time, we'll be separated for perhaps a year. The other and emotionally more poignant part is my daughter. I've never been attached to someone like I'm to my daughter. Of course, as a child I was extremely attached and insecure about my mother. But as an adult, I find myself most vulnerable when thinking about leaving my daughter behind and moving here.

She has taken it well. I believe, my daughter has a relatively robust emotional build. She does not cling to anyone, gets over people much faster. I say so because I've seen that  in a couple of cases when the maids at our house changed to whom she was very attached, she coped well. I think she could do it because her parents were with her. But this time I've moved away and so I have yet to see how she copes with it. The one constant in her life is her mother. But I've seen her staying away from her for 2 weeks at her Nanu's place. Though she was a little sad for a few days, she held up well. And then I came over and she was bright and chirpy again.

Today I spent 2 hours chit chatting with her on the skype. I loved it. She enjoyed it. We exchanged smilies and read each other stories. I read her a O'Henry and she read me couple of Tinkle stories. God, bless her! She makes my world beautiful...

The work, if may say is still evolving. I think, I should get in front of business now. I also have to learn and accept the way they work here. All that will take time.But I hope I'm able to make a positive impact in coming months.

Post #34 Another AWS Issue

Its been 2 months since I uploaded my last update to my website. Since I've moved to Abu-Dhabi, my new bank account is created and its in local currency. As I want to keep my Abu-Dhabi expenses separate, I created a new account. I downloaded my local bank statement and tried uploading it.

I was hoping it would work seamlessly but alas! All of this because I was perhaps lazy and stupid not to implement the mm/dd/YYYY format in my code. As in India, all dates are in dd/mm/YYYY, I did not implement it and so the statement upload failed. The good thing is I knew immediately why the failure occurred. I also corrected in about an hour and then uploaded the new War to Amazon Beanstalk.

Ha! So, it showed Uploading and Deploying for a long time and finally it gave a warning message that the action has timed out, but not to worry it'll finish in some time. Okay, I said. After a while I got a mail saying the new version was deployed. Cool! I ran the application only to find out it was still broken. I kept trying uploading it as war for some time using the web interface and then finally got Amazon Eclipse plug in installed to see if I could use Eclipse based interface. But no luck. However, the application continued to run fine in its 2 month old version with all monitoring parameters Green.

I then tried restarting the app server using the beanstalk web interface. Again, the same thing. The action times out with reassuring message that the script will eventually run and finally you see that the action is completed on the web console but there is no impact on the EC2 server.

As luck would have it, an Amazon sales person tried to reach out to me to see if they can expand their offerings to me. I got back to him with this problem and asked him to get it resolved. He asked me to log the issue on the "vibrant" amazon AWS community forum and I'd surely get a response.

Okay, I did that too. And after 3 days the query is still unanswered. So much for the vibrancy.

I finally decided to take the matters in my own hands and deal directly with the EC2 instance, instead of using beanstalk. I logged into EC2 instance and saw a lot of OS / Applications updates pending. Crossing my fingers I ran them. They ran fine but after they'd run, I tried deploying again. This time the Site stopped responding completely. Ouch! I brought down my own website. Whatever was working till now had also stopped. In desperation, I used the old Windows Trick on the Linux Server called, "Reboot the Server".

And viola! the site came up, I could upload the new war and it worked fine.

So, here is a piece of  advice to Amazon AWS. There are a lot of individual users, small firms that use AWS. Amazon offers them absolutely no support. They have to live on the forums, which for all its vibrancy, pass up a defects / questions logged. The paid model starts with $49 a month fee. My entire bill of hosting the server is $50. And its a personal expense not a corporate one. How could I subscribe to $49 plan?

Anyhow, here this ends. Perhaps, I'll try and find another host for my site. Someone who cares about $50 a month revenue and helps out its users with troubleshooting instead of turning them away.

Saturday, March 15, 2014

T2 Mumbai

I'm writing this blog from the new Mumbai Intl terminal. I was told horror stories about the immigration queues and the long hours it takes to go past immigration. I think these issues will linger for arrivals. For departures however, my experience was great. There were hardly any queues at immigration or airline check in counter.

And I'm talking Jet airways in the middle of the day @4:00 pm. Its possible, that the intl traffic is at is slowest.

The access to the airport is much better than before. I cam via Andheri Kurla rd as most ppl from central suburbs would. There is little you can do about the AK road and you can only hope that the traffic improves a bit once the metro starts and ppl leave their cars home.

But the access to the elevated road from AK road was seamless. I was very pleasantly surprised.

Okay. So I left the terminal around the time. The flight take off was delayed as the skies were jammed. So, there was enough air traffic. As at Mumbai, the intl and domestic routes share the same landing strip, probably days are domestic heavy while nights are for the intl.

The overall look of the terminal is as good as or better than many other international terminals I've seen (not too many but surely a few ).

The decor is neat and lighting is diffused. At times I felt it was on the dimmer side but it was always adequate.

Given its a new terminal, they have taken notice of the travelers using their mobile devices at the airport while charging them simultaneously. To that end there were plenty of power outlets with multi pin options.

They even had charging cables and stations for mobiles. Andriod, iPhone, Nokia. All kinds of charging cables with a platform. All you have to do is plug your device in and sit around for a few minutes while it charges.

There are Laptop stations, just like a cyber cafe bays. Each station has about 10 bays. 6-7 of them are equipped with HP touch PCs. They look beautiful. And then there are empty bays where you could plug in your laptop and work.

The free internet connection by GVK worked seamlessly. I sat for around an hour browsing and working on my laptop. It was great.

I do think that the terminal is small and perhaps will be inadequate as the air traffic grows. Hopefully, by then Mumbai will have its Panvel intl. airport operational.

Monday, March 03, 2014

Stomach Churn

It's been a tough month. As the travel date approaches there seem to be a lot of loose ends sticking out. 
First the passport police verification which is still not complete. There itself I hope I get the documents in order. Also there are no last minute issues. 

Then there is registration of my car. The RC book is still not come. 

Next is my wife's car repairs. 

Then there is a medical. It would happen once I land there on the job. I'd have preferred it happen here than there. 

The visa has not yet come. I have to collect forex. 

It's not excitement and anticipation. It trepidation and anxiety. 

I'm sleeping fitfully. I may be coming down with a sore throat. 

I shouldn't have attempted peeking into the future. I faintly remember myself promising myself not to. Did I?

Let's see how things go. 

Monday, February 24, 2014

Month 112 and 111

Changing Jobs is never easy. Especially after you've worked at a place for more than 10 years. Till mid December, I was chasing up two opportunities as desperately as a horny dog chases a reluctant bitch. I was pushing cajoling, following up with them on almost daily basis. They would sometimes ignore my mails, messages and calls. I'd be hurt, sulk a bit and then chase up another contact from the same company. Or I'll go after the HR consultant. Then after I'm done with one, I'd follow up with the other. There was a rigor, persistence and steadfastness with which I kept the tempo, till I finally landed one.

That was it, I stopped chasing the other one too. Following up on anything is a tough ask. Especially when you risk giving away your desperation and be completely at the mercy of the provider. You debase yourself often. You brush aside the bruises that come from their indifference, curt responses and simply ignoring your existence.

The offer that landed in Dec, initiated back in Aug. I got a call from an HR consultant and I met with the group CTO of a financial co. The role was of IT Head for one of their Lines of Businesses. The interview was short and the CTO introduced me to their HR Head to take it fwd.  Then the lead went cold. Nothing moved.

In Oct I went to the US. It was a an eye opener. I realized I'm getting wiped out in my new role. Sooner that later my role will shrink just as the business from the LOB I was to manage shrinks. The writing on the wall was bold and clear. It wasn't coming from some internal sales guy or one off client. Client after client said the same. Be it NY or NJ or Chicago or Huston. By the end of the visit I was totally disillusioned. I was was also disgusted with myself for not being able to move it. I remember the night before I was to return, looked at my reflection in the bath mirror and spat at it. I was ready to explode. But there was nowhere to go.

Right while I was in the US, I got a call from an old friend of mine in the UAE. He had submitted my resume to his IT and they were keen to talk to me. He told me the name of their IT guy who showed interest. I rung a bell. Upon questioning, I realized, he was my classmate from B-School. I agreed to talk to him. I really wasn't sure about how it was going to be.

The classmate called and we spoke. He made it clear from the beginning that our relationship will be of a boss and a reportee. While I was smartening over it, he came up with another one stating I'll be a Project Manager. Now, I was a PM 10 years ago. Today was a Delivery Head with 300 ppl team. I was disheartened and yet I did not close the door. I needed a way out.

Upon my return, from the US, I got interviewed by my classmate's boss. And he mentioned he wanted me to speak to their COO as the next step. And then, there was complete silence. I kept following up but to no avail.

3 weeks passed. I was already desperate and was ready to explode. Out of sheer frustration, I sought out the Group CTO of Company A on Linked in, and pinged him. I wanted to know his feedback. I wanted to understand where was I going wrong. He graciously accepted the request and responded assuring me there really wan't much wrong with my interview, just that the IT Head position was put on hold and if I was available he wanted to initiate that discussion. Well, I was game and the interviews started anew. I've mentioned about them in a previous posts.

I spoke to the CEO, COO, CRO and then CEO of another LOB within the same group and the HR. After about half a dozen rounds the things started to move. However, the CEO to I was to report to, came across as a demanding man. Instead of making me feel at ease, he confronted me saying, he is a difficult man to work with and he has fired 3 CTOs in the last 4 years. And that the industry is in a slump and that the future is uncertain. Not very comforting. But given my circumstance, I nodded politely and murmured something that sounded like a lame assurance. Anyhow, I realized that this position will come with a lot of uncertainties.

I reached out to the other co. I messaged my classmate, telling him about the other opty. I told him, I'd prefer to work for him if he can expedite the process. He heard me and might have tried to push things, but nothing moved at his end.

I finally landed an offer with the first co. late December and accepted it. The pay was marginally better, with a joining bonus. I took it and stopped following up on the other one.

Right after the new year, I got a call from an ex colleague of my present company and he congratulated me on the offer. After the pleasantries were exchanged, he came right to the point and warned me about the CEO I was about to report to. He was a vendor with this CEO and had a not so good experience. After he had leveled with me he wished me luck and left me sweating on a Jan morning....

I continued with my notice period, till one day I got a call back from the other company that they would like to pursue it if I was still game. I said yes and set them a definite timeframe to close it, or I'll take up the first offer.

Another round of interviews followed. They finally closed it right on the last date of the agreed timeline at 7:00 pm IST.

The next day I had a tough time refusing the first company. I spoke to their HR apologized to him. He was surprised. It was just one day before joining date. I knew I was wrong. Very wrong and I heard him out. I also apologized to the HR consultants. It was embarrassing and it was hurting me. It was against my ethics and yet I did it. Why?

The money. This series is a countdown series. A 10 year countdown to retirement. Month by month. The other offer allowed me an opty to get there faster. I took it. Am I selfish? Yes, I am... 

Friday, February 21, 2014

Getting Things Done!

Eversince I resigned from my position from the software company, I've tried to get a bunch of work done. A lot of it mandates my interaction with govt. agencies.
Such as
- Getting a passport
- Changing my electricity meter from Builder's name to mine
- Removing lien from my car
- Collecting PF from my previous company that I left more than 10 yrs ago.

And my interaction / brush with the admin has been bitter sweet. I have made progress but I still haven't concluded any of these transactions. Everything is work in progress, some since Dec-2013.

I thought, I had completed a few of these tasks, till I later found out that I actually did not. They are like Hanuman's tail that keeps growing and growing....

I have a couple of more weeks to conclude these. Hope I'm able to fix some of these...

Monday, January 20, 2014

The Run 2014

As far as results go, this was my worst performance till date. I have run 5 half marathons in the last 4 years and 2:11:34 is the absolute worst of them all. And its not unexpected. There are no miracles. I got what I prepped for.

Having said that, I must say, Mumbai has upped its game on fitness. With each passing year, more and more people are improving their timings. I was was ranked 1700 something in my category 2200 something overall. In 2009 a friend of mine ran the marathon and clocked the same time. He was 600 something. He clocked the same the next year and was 1000 something. In 2014 the same timing got me 2200. Wow Mumbai, you rock! 

And it was so evident on the road. I agree I was slower than previous years, but mostly, by the time you reach Haji Ali, the crowd disaggregates . As you hit Chowpati, it visibly thins down. But not this time. This time it stayed crowded till the end. Interestingly, there were girls (ranging from in their 20s to probably mid 30s) running alongside me who not only kept pace but beat me to the finish line. Incredible! It was a little embarrassing but what the heck. Great showing by girls...

Another inspiring bit was the blade runners. I saw a Surd, a one leg amputee on the blades starting off at the Bandra sea link alongside me. He was a short stocky guy. Well built. He carried a thin long stick with him, perhaps for support. Once the race started, I lost him in the crowd. As I continued my run, I caught sight of with him again around the 9 km mark. He must have slowed down due to pain / discomfort as I generally keep a constant pace and I was catching up with him. Seeing him pull through the journey sent a shiver down my spine. I slowed down and kept myself couple of paces behind him slightly to his left so as not to make him conscious. He was running to the far right, perhaps to avoid getting caught up in the crowd. I could see him grimace, and yet push through. A lump formed in my throat. I so wanted to tell him how inspired and honored I felt running besides him. But then, thats not like me. Right! I broke away and ran ahead. I hope he finished the race. But having seen him run gave me enough of an adrenalin boost that I ran 14.5 km before my first break. Typically, I take a break around 12 km mark. He helped me push myself harder. If not for him I'd have clocked worse than I did. God bless him!

Anyhow, no knee pain, no pulled back. Only 2 blisters. Manageable. I'm happy to have finished it in the time I did. 

The big question. With declining performance year on year, 2 years in a row, will there be a next time? We'll know...

Post 200

This blog post has been an 8 year journey. Its seen my joys, my misery(some of it), my wild and way off target predictions, my views getting shaped on things I care about. It may not have my deepest fears or confessions but it does recount an evolutionary journey. In between there have been long hiatus. Those were my darkest days. There may be no record of them in this blog, but they are etched so deep in my conscience that they don't need recounting. Nor do I want to revisit them.

I hope to continue giving prose to my thoughts as they churn and soak in the world around me. A view of the world through my lenses.

Saturday, January 18, 2014

Post #33 Going Back 13 years.

Back in the day, when mobiles were a craze and the SMS was just catching on, I had an itch. What if I could get the my bank account balance on my mobile. Not just for one bank but a consolidated balance across all banks.

The idea got me excited. I had a Nokia mobile with a serial connector. I hooked up my mobile to my desktop and wrote an ugly little program in VB.

I remember I had accounts with HDFC, ICICI and Citi. It took me a good while and along the way I got my accounts blocked for exceeding max tries for wrong passwords. Finally I had cracked it. I could get balances across all 3 of them. Each one of them had their own checks and balances. One of them checked for Referer Header and logged out in absence of one. Another one used javascript to create "POST". and so on.

Cut to 2013, When I was toying with the idea of my website, I the thought of revisiting this had occurred to me, but then I let go because I thought, It would be difficult to write this service for dozens of Banks in India. How will I keep the passwords safe. With hundreds of thousands of users using my website, I'll have to invest a lot to make things secure. But a year on and I being the only user, I think I can do it. I should do it to make my my own life better. I take 30-40 min every month just downloading the statements from the banks and then uploading these on my site. If I could write the program, this could be automated saving precious time.

And so I embarked on this journey all over again. Its fun. With its usual challenges et al. I started on this last week. I've had success in one of the banks, though I think they certainly have upped the game and it took me some time to understand how I should work around it.

Its a lot of work. I need to make an entire framework of how to schedule these downloads etc. I'm not even sure of whether this would work from within AWS environment.

A lot of challenges and the thrill of doing it... That's what I live for :)

The Eve of the Run

I sit here nervous about tomorrow's run. With the minimal prep, I'm afraid I'll embarrass myself. None the less I've charged my mp3 player, have tanked myself up with sugar and other carbs. Laid my clothes and shaved for the photoshoot.

My bldg. soc. has its annual day today. Not sure how long will the celebrations go. I have to get up at 4 am tomorrow and the music is playing out loud. So not very sure, when I get to sleep.

I'm wondering about last year. The times have changed... or have they?

Friday, January 10, 2014

The Impending Run 2014!

Its time of the year for Mumbai Marathon. I haven't blogged about my preparedness or my expectations this time. The reason is I have few expectations. Starting April, I had a heart scare and kept me off the treadmill till September. The other problem was by back that's become too fragile. I had 3 back spasm incidents in 2013. To add to the misery, due to lack of exercise, I've put on about 5 kilos of unwanted weight. Add them together and summarize, I'm a gonner. I'm not confident of even completing the race. None the less, I registered in July and so I went to collect the bib et al.

My stamina has also suffered a big fall. If I could put a finger to it, I've never run well since my last bout of flu in Dec-2012. Its a shame. I did not run a single 10 km in 54 min or a 7 km in 37 min. 11.2 kmph which was my hallmark till last year has come to 10kmph this year. I've not done a single 16 km run this season.

Will there be a next time, was my muse last year after my dismal performance. All my fears about giving up are coming true. If you are not improving, you are declining. How prophetic!!