Tuesday, December 4, 2007

The Incredible Get Together

Posted by Varun | Tuesday, December 4, 2007 | Category: , , , | 1 comments

Incredibles is a group of people who happened to have cleared the same aptitude test and cleared the same interview from various parts of the country who met each other on 8th July 2005 in Mahindra BT (Now known as Tech Mahindra), Mumbai for the first time. We call ourselves ‘Incredibles’ because everyone’s special in one way or the other. It’s a group of 28 people out of which 7 of us decided to meet believe it or not in London on one particular day. 18th November to be exact. I had written a mail to our group the very next day about the visit and the fun we had. I did not want to spoil the format in which it was written and hence kept the post as it is.


To say that the get together was incredible would be an understatement. We had lots of fun when 5 of us met after long time. The meeting was decided after long mail chains on Friday. 7 of them agreed but only 5 turned up (which includes me). Sagar did not come due to the hangover he had of the previous night and Pavitra did not turn up because she had other appointments to attend to.

Manny (Manjali fondly called Manny) was the first one to arrive at the scheduled time. I had not even taken a bath when I got a call form her from London Victoria. I knew I had 30 min before she would arrive in Wembley. I got ready as soon as I could and rushed to the station. I was there; right on time to greet the always smiling Manny :). After the initial chit chat we decided that we should go home and wait for other people. While on our way I got a call from Nandita telling me that she has left Watford junction and on her way to Wembley. So we decided against going home and went back to the station to pick Nandita up. As always we were there well before time to greet the nervously smiling Nandita who was trying to find a familiar face in Wembley. Her smile widened when she found both of us waiting for her.

We had got intelligent this time and called Bhavin to check where exactly he is. As expected he was just 20 min away from Wembley. This gave us the opportunity to shop in Wembley. Nandita was dumbfounded when she stepped inside Primark. She liked anything she saw and wanted to buy everything. She finally bought some 5 to 6 items and wanted to come back for more. After the shopping stint we went to the station again to wait for the guest of the day. There he was in his usual style all smiles. It was 1.15 by the time he came which meant it was time for lunch. Called Harsh and asked him to join us in a nearby restaurant (Tulsi). By the time he joined us we were freezing outside the restaurant’s door.

The lunch was fantastic. It was as though we were having our lunch in Mumbai (just paying 4 to 8 times for each dish and some 20 times for a roti)

The menu was

Stuffed Capsicum
Paneer Kadai Masala
Veg Kofta
Garlic Nan

Isn’t it mouth watering?

After the lunch we headed to a nearby sweet mart (Suraj Sweet Mart) where we bought some laddus and Jamoons. The sweets were really sweet …I mean to say the vendor had put an extra pinch of sugar in all the sweets. After lunch we just chatted, chatted and chatted as if there was no tomorrow. I had vacuumed our drawing room especially for this occasion… It was fun… We had so much to talk and so less time.

By 6.15 we decided that we wanted to have some Dosas. We headed to the very famous ‘Chennai Dosa’. The menu for Dinner was

Chole Battura
Onion Rava Masala Dosa
Orange Juice
Mango Lassi

The dinner lasted for more than an hour due to the mad rush in Chennai Dosa. But it was fun again… We had no complaints. Nobody needed to rush anywhere.

The dinner signaled the end of the wonderful day. Everyone really enjoyed a lot. Special thanks to all people who turned up. For people in UK who did not come… Don’t worry we can get together one more time on some other day. And for people in Mumbai, Pune and Bangalore and US of A, we’ll plan something like this in the next year well in advance so that everyone can join wherever they are at that point in time.

Chalo phir.. Its time for me to sign off… Before anybody can say anything, I had no work today and I guess I have utilized it very well by writing to you guys… I would love to get some replies.

Love ‘n’ Regards,

Wednesday, August 8, 2007

Mind the Gap

Posted by Varun | Wednesday, August 8, 2007 | Category: , , | 5 comments

23rd July 2007

These are the 3 words that almost every person in London would be familiar of. These are the words that are heard / announced in each and every tube station. It is used to caution the passengers about the gap between the train and platform.

London’s divided into 6 circular or I can say hexagonal zones. Almost 12 different lines run through the entire city. The tubes here or so called underground trains run underground as well as above the ground level. It goes underground as we enter the Central London Zone or the Zone One. Until then, it runs above the ground level. There’s a tube map that’s available at every station which is highly informative. Looking at the map and after few consultations I knew I had to change two lines to reach my destination ‘St Paul’s’ The station is called St. Paul’s because the famous St. Paul’s Cathedral is right outside the station. But there’s one more building outside the station that’s quite famous. That’s my office. British Telecom Centre (BTC).

I left my place at around 8.15 am, had to reach BTC by 9.30 am. There’s no fixed time to reach the office but since it was my first day, I wanted to be there right on time. Boarded my first tube at the Wembley Central Station. Tube trains normally have 8 to 12 bogies with 3 doors each. The door looks as though it opens and closes automatically but it’s manually controlled by the driver of the train. Wembley Central falls on the Bakerloo Line but St. Paul’s on Central Line. I had to change my train at the Oxford Circus Station. There are huge sign boards displayed whenever a station hosts more than one line. Some stations boast of servicing more than 4 lines. These are some of the busiest stations. The tubes got me to my destination well in time. I reached by 9.15 without breaking a single sweat. The trains are quite comfortable. The first day at office was quite comfortable too… Since I had no communicating device with me I had no work to do. This gave me time to plan for the first real sight seeing. Got hold of a laptop for some time and planned my first outing in London, ‘The Tower Bridge’. The first thing I wanted to see here in London was the River Thames. And if I could see River Thames standing on the world famous Tower Bridge there was nothing like it. Tower Bridge is quite close to my office but it’s on a different line. I had to change 2 trains before I could get to the Tower Bridge. It was drizzling quite steadily that day with the cool breeze blowing. This did not stop me from visiting the Bridge as I was quite equipped for it. Unlike my office, Tower Bridge is quite far from the railway station. It’s at least 0.5 km from the station.

Thames was flowing in its full glory due to the recent rain falls and the bridge over the over-flowing Thames looked quite stunning. I had seen that bridge some ‘n’ number of times in snaps, movies, wallpapers but it felt so very good to be standing on it. Yet another engineering marvel. There was a Chinese family that clicked my snap with the tower bridge. I wanted to see the tower bridge illuminated but it did not happen because they are automatic lights that turn on when it gets dark. It gets dark quite late here and I could not wait that long all alone in the rain. There’s Tower of London right next to the Tower Bridge where rests the famous ‘Kohinoor Diamond’ and the crown jewels. I could not get into the castle as it was closed for the day.

By the time I returned from my rainy adventure it was 9.30 pm. I wanted to inform the whole world about my first day, my adventure, share snaps etc as soon as I returned home but all I could do was to have my dinner and curl up under the blanket :)
Prince’s first day in London came to an end with three words ringing in his ears. Yes… You guessed it right … ‘Mind the Gap’

Wednesday, August 1, 2007

Prince's Diary Continues.... First Bus Ride

Posted by Varun | Wednesday, August 1, 2007 | Category: , | 3 comments

Keeping in mind the length of the post I’ll be writing a new post everyday instead of adding to the previous post.

22nd July 2007

The early sun rise and the very uncomfortable spring bed had absolutely no effect on me as I slept like a log till 7.00 am. Since I was in a hurry to see London, I got ready at 7.15 and ventured out into the unknown. Every street, every lamp post on the street was new to me. Started clicking snaps like there was no tomorrow. A person (Sri Lankan) nearby noticed the mad man and asked whether I was new to this place. I affirmed and asked whether there were any places nearby that were worth visiting. He told me about a Sunday market that’s put up temporarily every Sunday next to the famous Wembley Stadium and the best part was he told me that he’ll be taking me there if I wanted him to. Shopping and a famous stadium… This was too good an offer to resist. This meant that it would be my first bus ride here in London. The most expensive city bus ride in my life. It cost me 2 pounds one way. The person I met at the bus stop got me down at the right bus stop. The Sunday Market is a big market with lots and lots of Indians selling cheap smuggled goods. You just about get anything here. It is as good or as bad as a Heera Panna (Mumbai) or a National Market (Bangalore). It’s a very good place to buy toiletries it seems. The market’s setup temporarily every Sunday right next to the lovely Wembley stadium. The stadium has a huge arch that’s visible from quite a long distance. It’s a little engineering marvel. Since I had no idea that they allow people to get into the stadium I just clicked few snaps of the stadium and one with me in the frame. By the time I returned home my friend Ankur had left a message with the land lord asking me to call him back.

I called him and fixed a time when we could meet. Since I had already ventured out I knew the exact bus stop where I had to get down to meet him. I reached that place at 10.30 only to find out that my friend still followed Indian standard time. He reached the place at 10.45. The place was Wembley Central. It’s a tube (Underground metro or local train in London is called a tube) station. We were supposed to go to Greenwich that day. But due to some stupid reasons we could not. We roamed in and around Wembley that day. Had lunch at a restaurant called ‘Chennai Dosa’. It was not bad. But again very expensive or is that what I felt due to the currency conversion that I quickly did in my mind :). Did nothing more that day… Informed everyone through mails and telephone calls that I had reached UK safely and there was nothing to worry. It was 8.30 pm by the time I came back home. The best part was that the Sun was still shining when I returned home. I had heard about this phenomenon of early rise and late setting of sun but never really believed anyone completely. It was wonderful to witness it first hand. Had dinner, selected the dress I had to wear the next day and went to bed a little un-satisfied that I couldn’t visit any one of the major attraction in London. Little did I know that the Wembley Stadium is in that list too :)

PS: Next Post – Mind the Gap

Tuesday, July 31, 2007

Prince's Diaries

Posted by Varun | Tuesday, July 31, 2007 | Category: , | 2 comments

I am in the land of Queen Victoria and a place which I always dreamt of coming to. Have you heard the title of my post somewhere …Yes, you have… The title’s inspired by a movie called ‘Princess Diaries’ where a small town middle class girls wake’s up one morning only to find out that she is the next princess of a Kingdom. The journey so far has been ‘a dream come true’ for me too and since am in the land of the Queen I feel no less than a Prince…

I plan to write one day at a time and will update the same post every day… So keep watching this space for more action.

21st July 2007

I had finished the entire packing last night itself which enabled me to get up as and when I wanted without any hurry. My flight (Virgin Atlantic) was at 1.35 pm and I had to reach the airport by 10.30 am. Bhava (Jiju) readily agreed to drop me off at the airport. He might have not realized this, but the moment he agreed to drop me, all my tensions of getting to the airport vanished in thin air. Because I knew I was in safe hands and I would have no trouble what so ever… Thanks Bhava (One with the orange T-shirt).

Chandan and Mimi, undoubtedly two of my best friends were there with me at the airport to see me off. I had assumed that these two would accompany me to the airport without even asking them whether they were free. Would have been disappointed if either one of them had not turned out that day. Luckily, it was my day and everything was going my way… Thanks guys. Whenever I accompanied someone to the International airport the only question that came to my mind was ‘Will I ever be the one who’ll be going into the airport instead of going home after waving good bye?’ Here I was, all set to get inside the Chatrapati Shivaji International Airport. I was on the verge of realizing a dream.

We reached the airport at around 10.05 am. Clicked few snaps and waved good bye to Bhava. After Jiju left we had to wait for my team mate, ex- team lead and above all a friend who was supposed to travel along with me till London. He came to the airport at around 10.20 am with his wife, a cute little 10 month old kid and his in-laws. The moment I saw his MIL giving him instructions to keep his passport and visa safe, I told Chandan that it was good that I didn’t have my parents in India to give me instructions and suggestions. But I was just kidding. I badly missed them. I would have loved to enter the flight, my first ever flight outside India waving good byes to my parents. They would be so happy to see me getting inside that flight. I know for a fact that both of them would have missed me that day. I missed you too… Really missed you….

By the time we entered the airport it was 10.35 am. Got in the queue for baggage screening first then for the luggage check-in. It was around 11.15 am by the time these things were sorted out and I could meet my friends again. Waved them good bye and came through for the immigration check. The immigration officer stamped my visa without even asking a single question. The ‘masoom chehra’ must have done the trick :)

Since it was printed in the ticket that we’ll not be served lunch we had to have something before boarding the flight. I had my first subway sandwich that day. It was as though the sandwich was welcoming me to UK. It was good. Not bad actually. After having our continental lunch we went through the security check-in only to find out that the flight’s delayed by 20 min. Meanwhile I had called almost everyone on my phone book and informed them by trip to UK…
The flight started boarding at around 1.45, business class people getting the first preference.

The flight took off at 2.05 IST (30 min delay). My dream finally got its wings…
The in-flight experience and service was brilliant. It was an Airbus 340 with 2-4-2 seats. I had an aisle seat. The seats were comfortable and all the TV screens were working. I ended up watching 2 movies along the way. ‘Bridge to Terabatia’ and ‘Zodiac’ (Very good movies). Kept myself busy with a book ‘Marley and Me’ when I was not watching the television… Tried to sleep for a while but the excitement kept me awake the entire journey… The Zune kept me great company when I was not busy watching TV or reading a book. The food served was excellent too. It was authentic Indian food.

The Virgin Atlantic finally landed at 7.30 pm (GMT). By the time I could complete the immigration and collect my luggage it was 9.30 pm (GMT). The black Taxi welcomed me at the Heathrow with both hands wide open. The driver happily escorted me home (PG) for a whopping 3100 Rupees. Common… it was my first day here… I am bound to convert currencies…

It was one looooong day…Thud… What was that!!!??? It was me hitting the bed… It was 11:30 pm (GMT)…

Friday, July 27, 2007

Munnu and Me

Posted by Varun | Friday, July 27, 2007 | Category: | 6 comments

This post is dedicated to one of the best friends I ever had…The title of this post is inspired by the book called ‘Marley and Me’. All dog lovers and people who’ve raised dogs any time in their lives must read this book.

Even before writing the first line my eyes have become moist. Just the feeling that my beloved dog (This will be the first and last time in the entire post that I would be referring to Munnu as a dog) it as is no longer with me makes me sad. But that is how cruel life can be sometimes. I was watching a movie last night. A movie called ‘Eight Below’ (Recommended). It’s about eight sleigh dogs. After reading the book I had made up my mind that I’ll be writing something about Munnu but watching this movie made me to get up and start writing. So here I am…

My Munnu

Munnu – The name has absolutely no meaning. If I remember correctly, it was the first word that Chaiti (My sis) uttered when she saw the cute little fellow. The cutie was completely white with a little brownish tinge here and there. The only peculiar thing about the color was that both his ears were brown. I was playing cricket with one of my friend whose name also happens to be Varun that day when we noticed two kids throwing something in a ditch nearby. Curiosity led us to that ditch. Curiosity kills the cat but it saved the life of the little fellow in my case. If we would not have saved him that day he would have died in day or two. We brought him home with no second thoughts only to be discouraged by my mom not to keep him with us. Like an obedient son I agreed but not before feeding the little guy some milk and trying to feed him some biscuits. He was so small he could not balance himself on the 4 little feet of his. After feeding him I left him in the portico thinking that he’ll be gone by the next morning. But it was not so. He did not go anywhere. He had himself in a corner where we had stacked up some bricks. One brick on his head and he would be no more. He was so little. The thought of this made my mom’s heart melt and rest is history.

The little fellow immediately became the center of attraction. He loved this attention. Just like any baby would. As soon as he would realize that you are no longer interested in him he would do something or the other to catch your eye. It was very difficult initially to feed him. He just could not drink or eat anything from his bowl. He did not know how. It was an empty syringe that came to the rescue. I would fill that syringe completely with milk and empty it in his mouth.

He was one quick leaner. It was not long before he started eating his own food. Like his owner he ate selected food only. Only what he liked. I have improved to some extent now. The 2 yr stint in Mumbai has made me better in this matter.

He always had that naughty gleam in his eyes. He was always eying something or the other. He used to sleep in the portico on a bed made especially for him. During the rains (It was his first), I pestered my mom to let him inside the house. So there he was inside the house in the verandah very happy to have escaped the rain. The next morning was not a good morning for me. He had torn all possible socks he could find that night, out of which 90% of them were my dad’s :). My dad now wouldn’t mind sparing 100 pairs more if there are any chances of my Munnu coming back to tear them.
My mom used to run a school. Not just teach. We owned that school. Munnu soon became the pet of not just one but many kids who would come to the school. He was pampered and fed by almost all the kids. He would snatch lunch boxes from the kids but I don’t remember a single kid complaining about this to their parents. This is just how much the kids loved him.

Bathing Munnu was one huge task. The sound of his leash would send him running all around the house. He hated water…. When he was young a small tub was his bath tub. As he grew older, the tub converted to bath room then later into open space outside our house where we used a big hose pipe to give him his weekly bath.

I have many many and many fond memories with this fellow but I would not bore you guys with all these stuff. It’ll remain mine and only mine.

I can keep writing non-stop about him. But that was not I was here for. I had to apologize to him. I know this sounds crazy but I had to…

He must have missed me terribly when I left for Mumbai. My mom and dad were with him for one more year but after they left for Bangalore he did not have anyone he could call his master. He became lonely and the skin allergies got the better of him. I could meet him only twice in the last 2 years. The first meeting was lovely but the second meeting was gruesome. The skin allergy I was talking about was all over him and the worst part is he had surrendered to his fate. He was just not making any attempt to come out of it. He just did not have any motivation left in him to come back. The day I saw him this way I knew that the inevitable was near. But what I could not afford was a stay in Mandya… I had only few days of leave left before I could fly back to Mumbai to the stupid work I do.

The only regret that I have is that I was not with my beloved during his last days or should I say last few years. I know for a fact that if I would have been there with him, he would still be with me

I’m really sorry Munnu, I really am.

Lots of love and best wishes,
Your friend

The post looks more or less like a jigsaw. Please bear with me for that. The emotions just took over…

Sunday, May 13, 2007

Was it really worth it??

Posted by Varun | Sunday, May 13, 2007 | Category: | 12 comments

Whenever I talk to my mom over phone the first question that crops up in my mind is was it worth it?? Was it worth coming to Mumbai? Was it worth coming 1000 km away from home just for a simple job when you knew that Bangalore has the highest number of software companies in India?

This is one debatable topic. I’ve had my share of happiness as well as frustrations in Mumbai. I would say the happiness certainly has a huge edge over the frustrations or else I would have never stayed here. Whenever you come out of your house and are seeking something you always have huge expectations out of it. I am no special here. I had huge expectation from Mahindra British Telecom, TechM now.

I started writing this blog on February 18th 2007 and after that I never really got time to complete it. I have come to the office this Sunday for some stupid End to End Support and I have absolutely no work. End to End Support is supporting End to End Test team if they face any difficulty testing the modules or programs we developed. Explanation given for non-techies only :)

Let me continue my blog now….

Where was I? Expectations… TechM more or less catered to all my expectations. They gave us a lovely flat to stay. The flat was very near my office. Believe me or not, I have never taken a local train to go to office. This could be one reason why I liked Bombay so much in such short span of time. I never had to get up early in the morning nor had to board an already overcrowded train to reach office. I would take an auto which would cost me 9 bucks or if the autos were hard to find, I would just walk. Best part here is I always had one of my friends; it was Chandan more times than not to accompany me on this short dash to office.

This was more or less my daily routine. Out of 4 people in the flat, 3 worked in the same project and that helped us to decide the time one reaches home. The one who reaches home first would either buy veggies on his way or the groceries that would never last even a week. After coming back from work; we used to cook, and if you are not already aware of this, I can cook and am pretty good at that.

Weekend: My weekend starts one day earlier. Guess how? I watch the preview show of more or less every movie that releases. I always loved watching movies and Mumbai fulfilled that desire of mine. I never miss out on a good movie. Now a day I’ve begun to choose and filter good movies from bad ones. Initially it was like a dream run. We would watch any movie that would release. If I’m not watching a movie or going out shopping, my next destination is a resort in Bandra. He He… That’s what it feels like to go to my sister’s place. I just relax there. We do absolutely nothing on weekends apart from changing curtains, dusting the house, changing bed sheets, catching up an old movie on TV, F1, Cricket, updating iPod, late night dinners, shopping for veggies and groceries and lots of other things. It just feels like you are back in your own home. Feels so good…

I must really thank my mom here. She always claims that she has trained her son to do every house hold chore and I’m just proving that her claims are really true. I cannot really say I’m proving her right, it’s just that it really helps when u have to stay all by yourself away from your home. My wife would be one lucky girl. :) He He He…

I think I’ve just gone off the track. Let me come back. Why was I frustrated here? There were two occasions when I felt absolutely helpless.

The first one was when my mom had to undergo a second operation on her broken hand. I just could not do anything to help my mom and dad out. I know there were everyone there to help but I just couldn’t do anything. I was undergoing training in Pune that time and we were not given leaves during the training period. I finally found some solace when I came to know that the second operation was completely successful. Hearing this wonderful news outside Shirdi temple was an added bonus. I had been to Shirdi with Chandan and Kundan his younger brother that day...

The second occasion was when my dad had a major heart surgery. I was told about the surgery only after the surgery was successful. It was bitter as well as sweet news for me - bitter because, nobody informed me about my dad’s health until the operation was successful and sweet because I was the first one to talk to my dad on phone after his operation. The only thing that came in the way of the news of my dad’s heart attack and me was the distance. Everyone knew that I could do absolutely nothing sitting here in Mumbai and they did not want to put in me in the trauma they were going through. I completely understand everything but sometimes I feel that I staying so far made people think twice before informing me.

But keeping aside these two things if I have to think whether it was really worth coming here, I have nothing else to say other than a BIG ‘YES’. Mumbai has certainly changed my life for good. I recommend a two year stint in Mumbai to everyone. It certainly changes you as a person. This would have put my mom and dad in worry. Don’t worry. I’ll come back to Bangalore. I promise :)

Did I get my answer? I really don’t know… You tell me…

Tuesday, February 13, 2007

Secret of Life

Posted by Varun | Tuesday, February 13, 2007 | Category: | 10 comments

I came across this mail one day and absolutely loved it. Just wanted to start blogging with something beautiful. Will surely update with some of my own stuff as time flies...

The secret of life is to make the best of whatever comes along, Make every day fresh and new,Go in search of knowledge and experience.

Let your questions and your answers reconcile.Do your best to remember that the best kind of learning curve is an educated smile.

Share your magic with the people who share your memories.Let your feelings run deep.

Be in touch with the people who live in your heart. Be a caring person who plays for keeps.

To really know what success means, earn it. Don't rely on some elevator to get you there. The higher the floor you want to reach, the more important it is to take the stairs.

The easiest lessons to remember are the ones you learn the hard way! Appreciate the little things that make each day unique and special.