You can take a Mysorean out of Mysore… But… You cannot take Mysore out of a Mysorean!

The last week, given that I now travel to Electronics City for work daily, probably for the first time in six years I had to stay in Bangalore on a Friday evening and Saturday morning and experience the traffic! Though I had decided to stay back in my lovely lazy house in a green locality, a wake up call at 9AM (Yeah!) made me wonder what to do over the weekend. Took the normal 60 route and went to Basavanagudi, had amazing dosas at Vidyarthi Bhavana, a recollection of my stay there two years back and then…. headed to Mysore. As I just wondered why I was heading to Mysore for hardly a day left, thoughts came back on an old post which said, You can take a Mysorean out of Mysore… But you cannot take Mysore out of a Mysorean.

As I got into the bus, still wondered why I was going back to this old statement, a bus probably full of IT professionals heading for their home for the weekend (Yeah I can probably claim that I am not one now ;)). Each of those people had the essence of Mysore sunk in their hearts and well would probably live Mysore and breathe Mysore as many do worldwide! As a matter of fact, the past few weeks I have had quite a few people call me and ask how is life in Mysore and how is it as a destination to setlle! Though I had good words to say, I had to tell them that they cannot love Mysore by force, they probably need to go through an experiential phase and then decide on their investments! A lovely lazy city, I can claim, but still not a hot investment destination and I hope it never will be one.

What probably makes a Mysorean is the culture of the cultural capital of the state. The early morning walks on the lake bunds of the city (there are some 7-8 big ones), the walking tour of the palaces, the visits to the Chamundi Hills at the center of the city, a near-perfect zoo with great walks, the heritage buildings in every nook and corner – including the DC office, the Oriental Research Institute, the Palaces, the University, the colleges which are centuries old, my alma-mater Marimallappa’s, the spice markets in SriramPets and the ShivaramPets, the large markets of the city, wide roads and add to this an inclination towards preserving the culture, traditions, languages (yeah the city also houses separate Universities for Music and Sanskrit along with the Central Institute of Indian Languages) with a touch of modernity in the Urs Road, the KD Road and as my friend Raghu says you cannot miss the Purple Haze in Vijayanagar. So much in a city that still is green and decently planned around 10 miles away on both sides with huge riverbanks, cool evenings ranging from 17-23 degrees across the year!

Coming back to the primary discussion, the people in the bus, would probabaly have spent their younger days enjoying the city as it grew, with weekend trips to Betta or Chamundi Hills, savouring the dosas at GTR, the great dishes of Nalpak (which at that time was housed in Urs Road), VB Bakery on the Chamraja Double Road, the churumuri stalls near the town hall, the roadside stalls of VV Mohalla, the Chaupati point near Eshwara Temple, enjoying the delicacies of Annapurna Sweets and Mahalakshmi Sweets, visits to the huge markets with parents and relatives to breathe in the aroma of the city! More to add would have had the weekends spent in Ranganathittu or Talkad/ Gopalswamy Hills or BR Hills and of course the never ending Blue Lagoons near KRS. The rains of the city makes it more beautiful as people head to the Sangam’s, Sterlings and the Skylines of the city.  A visit to the city, without probably visiting the KD Road (Kalidasa Road), KD Cirlce juction Vijaynagar (though useless) (KrishnaDevaraya Circle) or the bylanes of Saraswathipuram would be meaningless for some window shopping or fun destinations. And yes the latest fun destination – the Planet X!

The view of the sprawling race course and golf course from the top of Ch Hills brings back the sweet green memories as one falls into a well of the childhood spent in the city. You must have had a great past life to have enjoyed this city and its colors with the Royal Aura. Wherever you go, you get back to the past and drool over the sweet memories of the city! And yes to be honest, no place other than Basavanagudi even has a scent which can resemble the aura of Mysore. For reasons unknown of my 4 years of stay in Bangalore (Keeping in mind, a year in Bristol and another in Chennai), I have probably visited every weekend to Mysore without fail (though the actual reason may be that I did not invest in a washing machine for some time ;)). But well this time, I honestly tried to stay back in Bangalore over the weekend and well, god knows what pulled me back here – Just as they say You can take a Mysorean out of Mysore, but you cannot take Mysore out of a Mysorean.

As my tribute to the city, I plan to cover one epic building/ downtown monument/ roads etc.. as I visit every alternate weekends hence forth! So, Read On!

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Is it getting too Cloudy out there?

Thanks to my past company’s interests and my projects in Management Information Systems and Enterprise Resource Planning, the sky above still remains cloudy :). Well one of my slides had to carry this to keep the audience alive! See the trends, its still cloudy out there!

Google Trends as of Jan for Cloud Computing

Mentor or Tormentor

As I was reading some articles to develop a case study, as a part of the work that me, my colleague Binoy and one our Professors are working on at Great Lakes, I stumbled upon an article which talked about Mentoring in the Indian Medical Industry. Well closed the tab by mistake and could not relocate that article to link here, but certainly there seems to be a dearth of good mentors in any industry!

I have had the chances of having many good mentors in the five long years in the Information Technology industry as a consultant and probably even before that! Thought early morning four AM, is the right time to probably remember them as its been long since I even recollected those names! Yes, I dedicate this blog post to those who guided me across the past five years :).

First, it was Jayashree, Ravi, Vinay and Dr. Shekar Bhorgaonkar at HP Labs, Bengaluru. As I moved to Bangaluru, when it was still called Bangalore, in Feb 2001, the aura of the newly opened Forum, the taste of the McD burgers (one reason I hope, my ex-team understands why I detested them going to McDs for all those unwanted parties we had :)) was probably driving me away from the core research work I was working on with Dr. Shekar – a part or the extension of his brainchild the GKB. It was then that Ravi n Jayasree who drove some sense in getting both me and Dushyant back to work and understand the criticality. It was mostly through their action and not by coercion. We were influenced by their dedication and hard work! Vinay on the other hand was a perfect guide and we did learn quite a lot technically from him which are of great use even today! On the other end Dr Shekar, was the Director of HP labs and well on the first looks you could never bet upon that, he sat with us, worked with us, dined with us without any air. Clearly a management lesson on leading your team forward by involvement. On my last day in labs, he asked me and Dushyant as to what our goals were, there were some 20 odd BITS, Pilani interns with us and were well decided on their future. Well Dushyant was clear that it was one of the IIMs and was probably offered to continue his role, which he declined and spent an year cooling his heels before heading to Ahmedabad. I was confused, now I had a mouthwatering offer in a niche firm to the internship there to higher studies, to which Dr. Shekar said – well hit back the bed think, if you are not going for studies now, I do not think you must continue in this role! Straight and honest :).

I did just that and well as I pursue my program here at Great Lakes, I think five years of work experience has given me much more of an edge and understanding capabilities which probably was what he was referring to at some point of time.

Moving on in Torry Harris, where I spent a relatively unheard of five years (Yeah! Somehow I was too lazy to move or attrition was unheard of in Floor #3), I did have a chance to interact with a few great mentors like Lata, Manasa and Dhana who even today guide me in times of crisis. Dhana to a large extent tries to own up things and plan when your mind reaches a blank. The philosophy that these people followed in Torry, which I presume I continued to some extent after they exit was probably Team Oriented Management Mentoring – what has been defined as aiding individuals to develop abilities in high performance organizations while battling for space in competitive environments – which you can see as perfect examples in Maddy, Harsha, me et al…. I had seen the exact opposite also, so probably can differentiate between the two pretty easily and the legacy left behind by the team that was built from the mid-2000’s still stays on.

In Orange, I met one heck of a person. Yeah I am sure he would not mind me using such words. He was a bar bouncer by night, a Line manager managing their operations by day. Wow! He just meant take life seriously, but take it easy! I have never seen anyone who could hop between clubs, drink shots after shots of tequila and still come back, stand straight in office the next morning and positively attend all the high-profile meetings and schedules with such little preparation! Only Dhana probably gave him some competition in that aspect. No one else did. People called him rude, brash, but trust me many would agree that in that environment he was the most ‘people-friendly, objective-focused, logical’ manager. Sad that Vic, is not in Orange anymore but still his charismatic leadership was an example for anyone and working for a long time under him, probably maximized by learning!

As I move on probably, today, I have meetings with my officially nominated mentor and unofficially accepted mentor. I would not argue who is better here, its probably known and not the right time/ place to pick it up! The only point that I wanted to make here is that its through great mentoring that great teams are built up. Mentoring processes must not be focused on individual development but much more of a team development and organization oriented. That is when, it would probably reach the pinnacle. Mentoring is more than initiatives, competencies and approaches, its about maintaining relationships.

Its probably time that I went back to Bengaluru and meet Naveen, Navya, Kapil, Alok, Reshma, Vishal, Ranjana et al… and figure out if I was their Mentor or Tormentor?

How not to manage a team – Series 2

Had not thought of the second post so early on the series. Well this weekend I learnt plumbing from my dad! I am officially the plumber of the house now :). Before I go on an intro to my dad, who gave me management lessons while plumbing! My dad had not gone to any Grade A B School. He retired from India’s premier telecom organization in a top managerial role. He was equally technical, and as far as I am aware, is a master of several trades and has an amazing handwriting which any calligraphist can envy.

It was another hectic weekend for me and after using the Friday for settling bank accounts, today I got a new Geyser (water heater) for the first floor. The electrician came and mounted it on the wall, as we were not having the right tools to play around and well left us off to fend for ourselves or call a plumber for the remaining work. My dad having seen me play around with the rinch when I installed (read my word – I have never heard anyone install a tap!!! IT industry ruined me) a tap in my aunt’s house last week, decided that I use my plumbing skills at our home as well! Well after buying the necessary accessories, I set off and successfully installed the heater, with of course a few management lessons from dad!

Lesson 1: Listen to your superiors (read supervisors): Well this was something I have never done in my office! That was my argument with dad and told him out rightly to stop instructing me on how to hold the spanner and just give way! Well he added some thing, that my conscience would let me identify the right superior from the wrong. So correct this lesson for today, its – Listen to your superiors. Only if your conscience says that they are right and they are the right people to listen to! How right! I have always felt that some decision makers do reactive decisions and I absolutely do not trust them. If your superior has trust in you and vice versa then definitely you will listen to him or her. I am with you dad, the next time, I accept the plumbing work at home, I will follow your advice or ensure that you aren’t around when I do the work ;).

Lesson 2: Be Patient. My teacher in my primary school (Satnam Kaur), had once told my mom out rightly in a parent teachers meet at CFTRI that I was the most overconfident kid around! Aunty, if you are by any chance following my blog, add to that I have even become, the most impatient kid around! Well, believe me its a very bad combination. You can never manage you team either by being overconfident or by being impatient. My company too was following the tagline Be Impatient, I think someone realized it and sent it to the oblivion forever! Be patient to your team members and listen to them, and show confidence in their work. Do not be overconfident and leave everything to the team, one day they will think you are escaping work and just “Delegating” and will say goodbye to you!

Lesson 3: Be Aware and Be Impartial: Well my dad says that even though, he was the top rung for his division, no one recognized that or as a matter, for proof, I still see lots of his team members call him up for advice on all walks, even after his retirement. That he says is because, he was aware of a. their strengths and responsibilities b. he was impartial, being impartial to your team makes each member contribute equally and put in a 100% to the team c. Know their personal responsibilities and ensure at least a few in the team know about each other at home – Well this according to him helps in a government atmosphere, where work is unpredictable. Knowing each other and each others families quite well, helped him and his team achieve amazing success at critical times of establishing an OFC network from scratch as per his thoughts. I am not sure if this works in IT (Cross Crush problem will occur as per my knowledge ;))

Well apart from that, he did give gyaan on knowing your strengths and best of all he said, “Do not ask your team to do anything if you do NOT know how to do it!”. Well I knew that he knew plumbing as well and asked him not to pat his own back, but he was not at his comical best 😦 and I had to face his wrath. Well introspecting the last statement, I have decided to go with it as well. I have seen managers in the past who do not know what their team is doing, go to client review meetings, bluff, get caught and ensure that both they and their company stand in the ‘Jahaapana’ pose and walk back! Well if you don’t know your goals and the path to the goal, how will your team know! Makes sense… in fact a lot from practical experiences.

Well, finally I dedicate this blog entry to Dhriti, one of the latest entry to our family – my niece. Andy and Lakshmi have been blessed with a baby gal and I wish them al the best of luck and well I hope one day she reads my blogs and well…. Writes better ones ;).

How Not to Manage a Team… – Series 1

I was skimming through what had transpired over the previous year in my career and hence my “PAST” experience, rather just a year back, forced me to start writing this post. The post, initially was intended to be a story on ‘How not to Manage a Team!’, well but even though the topic remains the same, I will post what were the mistakes, I saw in the person and probably what would be right in getting your team to achieve what you want starting this series, as and when I recollect my past supervisor’s mistakes.

The first thing that you need to realize when you are leading or managing is a team is that YOU have to trust the team. Trust bonds your team together and brings together a feeling of oneness. I have seen managers showing trust in just a few resources and giving up on the rest, that to me is never going to let the team settle down as a mosaic. My past experience shows that some managers express trust only in the froth. That is too dangerous as well. The moment the team gets below the brim, they will know the truth and never ever trust you in the future.

The trust also does not develop, by sending forwards as good morning mailers or as Sidin Vaidukut, says in Dork, by sending cheeky Jesus/ Rama will save you in the morning, just pray SMSes. Its going to build over the time. Give the team the time to stabilize and grow, then build mutual trust. Believe me your team will Rock or else, you will be labeled a Dork!

Bengaloorinalli PanchaVarsha-abdhi!!!

Well, the significance of February 14th for me has not been that I have not been able to find a valentine till now. I have not tried and I dont think I even have time to try it tomorrow as well! It will be five years that I made Bangalore as my froster home this Febuary 14th.

It was the V-Day that me and Dushyant had to report to in HPLabs for our internship and sadly, though not interested in staying in this city, both of us moved to Bangalore expecting life to change with times and the city of course.

In the course of Five years, both of us have moved in different directions, Dushyant passing out of IIMA and setting up his own firm and me, still seeking out to what I want to do in life. I still remember working four days a week in HP and having a sweet guide in Dr Shekar Bhorgaonkar, our department director and the amazing team with Vinay, Ravi, Prashant, Pavan Joshi and of course Jayashree and team. The HP stint has given me a lot in life!

Coming back to the Feb 14th, I think 2005 was the first valentines day Fourm celebrated and I still remember, that there were red and white helium baloons all around the mall. Of course, we just went to Mc Ds there to have lunch and came out as usual. As I complete five years in Bangalore, I am amazed by the way the city has changed! The few things I liked earlier was my travel from Banashankari (Andys house to Forum), by the innumerable 201’s, The McDs, Krishna Sagar, Grameen in Koramangala and sorroundings… The Rush Hour hotel in Koramangala cross, The Jogi posters in Forum!

Anyway, life comes a full circle sometimes and I am spending the first day of my fifth year in Bangalore in Koramangala as well due to some appointments. Time has flown quickly and I do not know if I like Koramangala the same way as we did when we were interns! Happy V-day to all of you!

Dedicated to my Quarterly Appraisal

This is in dedication to my quarterly appraisal starting tomorrow. I have gone so insane that I have forgotten which quarter it is for. Someone, please remind me 🙂

Appraisals Ahoy

Appraisals Ahoy