Did You Check My Blog?

07/05/2010

10 utilities which make my life easy and cool

Filed under: Software — Jimy Shah @ 7:50 pm

I am often attracted to new widgets/software which promises to simplify my life in one way or another. I don’t care about the learning curve as far as it serves any of the two purposes:

  1. Simplify tasks which I repeat frequently
  2. Make me feel satisfied that I am using something “cool”

It’s difficult to pick 10 out of many software that I use, but I will try to list the ones which I use the most. I either found these tools while aimlessly browsing download.com or were introduced by a friend who would be using these widgets. Here goes the list:

AutoHotKey: I am a keyboard person. Mouse is so 1990s. I use autohotstrings to replace few letters with a long pre-defined text. Like my signature or custom template for emails. It is also very powerful in automating process of typing/clicking or opening some application.

Launchy: The first thing that I do when in front of a computer is to hit Alt+Q (my shortcut for launching Launchy). I cannot remember when was the last time I went to Start->Program Files->someProgramName to start some application. I also search the web and send quick emails directly from Launchy. It is so very convenient.

Taskbar Shuffle: I may have 20-30 applications open at a time, I want to group/arrange them in my own way and that is exactly what this tool does.

Startup Batch files (windows scheduler): I like it when all the applications which I regularly use are already opened when I start my machine. Few webpages which I visit every morning and few software which I will need to work on.

Remember the milk: It would be sufficient to say that this is a to-do list manager which I have settled for, after trying out many others. Features such as grouping, reminders, integration with Google Calendar and mobile interface makes it a powerful tool.

Google suite (Gcal, Gmail, GReader, GDocs, GChrome, Picasa et cetra): Is there anyone out there who does not use even a single application from Google? I would be really surprised if I find someone. It makes me nervous but I often dread a day when Google might make its services paid.

ReadItLater: I often come across articles via Facebook, twitter, blogs, colleagues or emails which I would want to ready but not at that very moment. With just one click, I can tag the pages and read it later whenever I have free time.

Amazon Wishlist: Safe, easy and fast way of maintaining a list of books which I would like to read. It also makes it easy for me to purchase them.

Saavn/Dhingana (online song streaming): Who doesn’t listen to music while working? Well, I surely do. I have playlists created on these sites based on my mood for the day J

Digsby: All in one client. It is a one point access to all social networking platforms.

I often hear that using these tools require lot of effort in familiarizing, memorizing the functionalities and remembering to use them when needed. I would say that’s the most interesting part. It makes my daily work easy, fast or fun.

What utility tools do you use? Do you have any favorite which aids in your daily work?

Do share the experience of reading this blog by leaving a comment to this post. It is the only way for me to improve.

Cheers,

-Jimy Shah

Live 2 Eat, don’t Eat 2 Live!

06/20/2010

Old Indian ads which still bring smile to my face

Filed under: Nostalgic — Jimy Shah @ 3:31 pm

For a change, no party, no movie, no eating out and no India calling today. This Friday seems to be little boring. As always YouTube comes to my rescue and what do I accidentally find? The gems of yesterday: Commercials that many of us have grown up watching. I am sure we all have some association or memory related to each of the following advertisements.

Here is what came to my mind as I was watching them:

  • Doordarshan startup theme

I don’t think anyone can forget this startup theme. It sounds more familiar than windows startup.

  • Parle-G biscuits

“To dunk or not to dunk” is a new thing for Oreo cookies but it’s a tradition since decades in India. Parle-G is the one who started this tradition. I know many friends who still enjoy the moist Parle-G biscuit dunked in a hot cuppa tea.

(more…)

04/24/2010

That feeling of “Aaha!”

Filed under: Uncategorized — Jimy Shah @ 12:11 pm

“Aaha” is the best feeling that I have ever experienced in my life. It reminds me of the old days slogan used by Iodex “Aah se Aaha tak”. I am writing this article after having felt both these feeling in last 2 hours. Straining my body in Gym gives the feeling of aah which tempts me to quit at that moment. But after experiencing that pain for a long time, when I lie down on my bed, I get that aaha feeling of relief. Those wonderful moments of relief makes me feel that all the pain was absolutely worth it.

This is not restricted to just gym, I often get similar feeling on completion of projects, on Friday afternoons, after cooking, during India trips and many more times. Would I have ever experienced this great feeling if I would have not waited for it? Probably not. This is like a special happiness hormone secreted by your body only if you had put in extra effort for something.

It makes me think harder on how I can alleviate this feeling of pain at the same time keeping those Aaha moments alive. Talking about physical activity which is absolutely necessary, I try to use the following techniques, which often distract my mind away from pain:

  1. Listen to high tempo music: This gives me that boost to keep going.
  2. Watch/Listen/Read: I download movies, news articles or books only to use them in the gym. I am anyways going to spend time doing these activities then why not do some light physical routines along with it? Treadmill is my best friend when it comes to reading/watching stuffs.
  3. Think about Food: Yes, I do this. I always think about what’s the first thing I am going to eat after returning home (or sometimes on my way). I am a big time food junkie, so thinking about food definitely makes me forget the pain.
  4. Engage in enjoyable physical activity: For me this is tennis. While playing tennis, I never think about the physical pain, empty stomach or the pending work, because I really enjoy it. This is truly a win-win scenario for me. I get to enjoy the play as well as get the physical exercise necessary. On top of that I get to socialize as well, wonderful!

     

 

I want to conclude with what my gym instructor used to say in order to motivate us:

 

“Feel the pain”

 

What a wonderful statement. I do feel the pain when I am playing tennis or working out in the gym, but I enjoy that pain in a way, by using different techniques. So, always embrace those aah moments because the aaha moments are waiting for you on the other side.

 

Do share the experience of reading this blog by leaving a comment to this post. It is the only way for me to improve.

Cheers,

-Jimy Shah

Live 2 Eat, don’t Eat 2 Live!    

03/18/2010

Narendra Damodardas Modi: The man who gets “famous” for EVERYTHING he does …

Filed under: Politics — Jimy Shah @ 10:47 am

“People are not upset when any other player is out with a low score, but if Sachin Tendulkar is out even at 90, he is criticized because people judge him on a different scale. I’m glad that I, too, have been judged on a scale of expectations and not on a scale of credit and discredit. “

— Narendra Modi comparing his situation with that of Sachin’s / May 26, 2009


Image source: http://narendramodi.com/

Let me start with a confession: I am strongly biased in my views FOR Narendra Modi.

Modi, the name for which everyone has a clear opinion on. Either you are a big fan of Modi’s entrepreneur skills or you simply hate him for Gujarat Riots in 2002. I have very rarely come across people who have mixed opinion on this politician. I belong to the prior group and I have my own reasons and biases for it. I always wanted to write something about this great architect after the recent news about Supreme Court’s summon. Thanks to a friend, after reading whose article, I felt the moral duty to share my views on this Man with capital “M”. May be because it’s MY state and hence MY chief minister that I feel so obliged to share what I think about this whole debate on “Who is Modi, a great leader or a murderer?”.

For many people, when thinking about Modi, the first thing that comes to their mind is 2002 Gujarat Riots. On the contrary, I see the skyline of Gujarat that seems to have changed overnight. Every time I go to Gujarat I see so many changes in transportation, industries and incentives for young entrepreneurs that it’s hard to comprehend. Probably this is the Gujarat which the prior generation might have just dreamed of.

This does not mean that my memories of 2002 are diminished. I can never forget that ringing sound of lamp post which was used as an indication that a mob is approaching our area and we need to get ready. Those sleepless nights, wild thoughts and insecurity of tomorrow lasted for months. I can still visualize that night when I saw a mob of 100s of people, 20 meters away from me, shouting and screaming with metals in their hand. Sound of gunshots was so common that even a firecracker burnt in marriage would throttle our heartbeats. People were talking about leaving their home and going to a more *safer* place. That mere thought of having to leave the place was just dreadful. There were fewer days without curfew than with curfew. Shops, businesses, offices and schools remained closed for days. After being on the ground myself, I believe, its not just 1 or 2 individuals who suffered during that time but it is each and every individual living in Gujarat who had to suffer in one way or another. I don’t know when our impotent judicial system will uncover the culprits, but for me “it was a wave of emotion which took over every Hindu and Muslim and caused brutal damage”. The good news is that it has passed and its time now to move on. I don’t know what the facts are and truly, I don’t want to know them. It’s just going to open up the wounds which took long time to heal. This being said, if it’s Narendra Modi who was responsible for this massacre, he should be given his due punishment for sure. But I think until he is proven guilty, we need to blame our nonfunctioning system and not him or his government.

Leaving 2002 behind, I think Modi has tapped into the inborn skill of Gujaratis, that of being successful entrepreneurs. In 2001 he was sworn in as the CM, when Gujarat was trying to fight repercussions of earthquake. Now is 2010, 10 years from then, Gujarat has achieved what seemed impossible in 2001. Be it the Vibrant Gujarat initiative or Jyotigram-Yojana, Gujarat has grown at unimaginable pace. From a common man’s perspective he is getting more and better opportunities to work, better road and transportation facilities, access to drinking water and cheaper utilities due to increasing competition. As a common man from Gujarat, I am enthralled to see these changes in front of my eyes. It makes me feel good when Modi says “There is no red-tapism in my state, only red carpet”. This is a statement which is backed by big business tycoons and their investments in Gujarat. It is also evident from the fact that Gujarat is one of the fastest growing states in India.

Talking about the debates and furor in media, I feel Modi is getting political mileage out of it instead of damaging his image. I know that outside of Gujarat people have equally strong and opposite views for him. I doubt he will ever be a national leader with the stain of 2002 riots on him. I know he is often talked about being denied US visa, but never saw people appreciating his efforts in bringing global companies to Gujarat. What I like about this man is his vision. People compare him to personalities like Hitler, but I see him more similar to someone like Steve Jobs. Just as triumphantly Steve Jobs came back to Apple after being written off, Modi has repeatedly won the elections and people of Gujarat after being written off.

For me he is THE visionary who changed, transformed and enhanced the lives of my friends and family back there in Gujarat. I know this is highly one sided view, but this is what comes to my mind when I think about this divisive figure. Are you a fan or a critic of this controversial personality?

Do share the experience of reading this blog by leaving a comment to this post. It is the only way for me to improve.

Cheers,

-Jimy Shah

Live 2 Eat, don’t Eat 2 Live!

10/25/2009

How I got my share of Sushi

Filed under: Uncategorized — Jimy Shah @ 4:02 am

 

Thanks to Jaigaru, ohhh I mean Jaiganesh, I got a chance to explore a new cuisine last week. I being a Curry lover have always kept myself away from the “dry” Japanese food. Colorful Sushi has always appealed me but I never got the courage or the company to enjoy it. Fortunately last week, we went to this place called Aoi with lots of hope and expectation. Jai liked Japanese food and he was the one who encouraged me to try it out that day. So we entered this very Japanese looking restaurant and the ambience was filled with that typical seafood smell. There were posters of traditional Japanese village and some underwater creatures. The restaurant employees were dressed traditionally with lovely looking Kimono.

We started by ordering hot Sake which was a pleasant surprise as I was drinking hot wine for the first time. With the help of an attendant we decided to order California Maki and Shiitake mushroom Maki. It was exactly what I have been observing people eat for many years. How could this experience end without any surprises and that also a pleasant one? With our Maki there was a small tiny mountain of some green paste. I was already warned by Jai about the deadly potential of that paste. So I just applied a minuscule amount to my roll and engulfed it. The effect was instantaneous. I could feel the tangy sensation rising from my mouth to forehead. It brought some water from my eyes too. This was the “strongest” spice I have ever tried in my life. It showed its effect in a fraction of second. Later we discovered it was called Wasabi.

Then we tried some noodles which were served in a huge bowl containing few noodles, vegetables and sprouts. At first it looked very dull and boring but after adding some Japanese spices it tasted interesting. It was good to try very distinct spices (and sauces) which were vastly different from Indian spices. At the end we were given a small bowl of pineapple and papaya which was very soothing.

We left the place fully satisfied and without overeating (something that happens to me always). To add the finishing touch to this beautiful meal we went to Starbucks for its heavenly coffee. After the coffee we headed for a movie (Wake Up Sid) which was a disaster. The movie was pathetic but the comments that we friends passed throughout the movie and a constant background sound of a mysterious baby kept us entertained.

This evening just made me realize that it is always a good idea to challenge your beliefs. You will either make it stronger or end up giving it up as it was just a prejudice.

Do share the experience of reading this blog by leaving a comment to this post. It is the only way for me to improve.

Cheers,

-Jimy Shah

Live 2 Eat, don’t Eat 2 Live!

09/27/2009

Witness it yourself by rising early

Filed under: Uncategorized — Jimy Shah @ 4:32 pm

Out of few things which I remember about my primary school days is a famous quote by Benjamin Franklin reiterated by my teacher “Early to bed and early to rise makes a man healthy, wealthy, and wise“. During those days as all other advices, I ignored this one too. Since then till today I have always remembered but never implemented it into my life. But something strange happened last week. To work with international officemates I was supposed to be in office by 6:00 am. This looked like a daunting task to me. In order to be at work by 6, I have to start my day at 5. Goshhhh…. that was painful. I could not sleep before midnight and still had to wake up at 5. I woke up very frustrated each morning, but once I sat in front of my computer and started working, something magical happened.

I realized that everything was so calm and pleasant. From the office glass wall I could see something very beautiful; I was able to see the transition phase of sunrise. By the time it was 8:30, when people started coming in, I realized that I had accomplished almost 50% of my work in 30% of my work hours. That was fantastic. My rest of the work day went very smoothly because I was already ahead in my tasks. No pressure, no panic. But the pain was again experienced next morning when I had to again wake up at 5. Next day also at work I felt the same, very satisfied and productive. The week ended soon before I could realize something substantial. Today when I try to recall what I did last week, starting my day early comes to my mind as the most prominent thing. I am tempted to repeat a modified version of this again. Modified because I know without *solid* reason I can never wake up at 5. May be 6:00 am? I just need to make my small little brain understand how wonderful the feeling of starting the day early is. All I need to take care of is those few minutes where I subconsciously decide “Why should I wake up so early? Let me sleep for 1 more hour”.

Things are changing and I am trying to shift my day schedule a little early. That very feeling of empty roads to travel, wonderful morning view from office and loads of work accomplished before the “actual” start of my day is pulling me towards it. On the flip side there are many forces against this which might make this just a dream rather than a reality.

I still remember Sumit, my roommate in Grad school, used to wish us good morning when we used to wish him good night at 4-5 am on most morning. I was not able to understand why someone could wake up so early, may be because I had never experienced it before in my life. But now when I have witnessed it few times myself, I completely agree that it is a very wise thing to do on any given day. If you have a choice, one should always go with early rising rather than late sleeping. I know some of my nocturnal friends (including myself few days back…) might not agree but this is my interpretation of last week’s experience. One has to witness it in order to believe it. I know how easy it seems to tell all these, but it is far more difficult to implement it. I am truly aware about this fact. That is the reason why I am writing this blog so that if I digress from my new decision, of rising early, I can get back to this blog and realize the commitment that I made in “public”. I don’t want this decision to be like all other New Year resolutions which never go beyond a week or two.

I also found a very interesting article on a very famous blog site Zen Habits about rising early: http://zenhabits.net/2007/05/10-benefits-of-rising-early-and-how-to-do-it/. I bumped into this article at the right time when similar thoughts were stimulating the right part of my brain. So overall I think that rising early has many sweet advantages which are hard to ignore. This is the conclusion that I am drawing at 12:18 pm on a Sunday afternoon when I am wide awake with a hope that this conclusion and post will motivate me during those tough mornings when I want to sleep extra hours.

Do share the experience of reading this blog by leaving a comment to this post. It is the only way for me to improve.

Cheers,

-Jimy Shah

Live 2 Eat, don’t Eat 2 Live!

09/17/2009

Journey under observation

Filed under: Uncategorized — Jimy Shah @ 12:29 am

Today I made a conscious decision of observing the entire experience of my visit to Pittsburgh. I intentionally did so because somehow I felt that I am leaving out on something during my travel experiences. I find my journey a tiring and an unpleasant experience rather than finding the enjoyable moments in it. I made constant notes during my trip whenever I got time to make sure I do not miss any points. Here is how it went:

I was going on a company visit to CMU hence made the necessary reservations of flight, hotel and transportation in advance. My US Airways flight was at 7:58 pm from Logan International airport of Boston. In the morning itself, I checked in and printed my boarding pass. I took printouts of all receipts and other necessary documents for my trip. I had already requested a colleague to drop me off at Logan Express from where I can get shuttle to the airport. At 5:00 pm we started from office, went to my apartment, I took my luggage and docked my car in my apartment parking lot. I was dropped at the shuttle service. I purchased a round trip ticket and boarded the next bus (there is a bus every 30 minutes). The operator of that bus carefully placed my luggage onto one of the compartments based on the airline which I was travelling. This bus starts from Framingham (place where I live) and goes directly to the airport without any stops in between. It stops at each terminal and the operator comes out and hands over your luggage to you. I find this very professional, personal and appealing feature of this shuttle service.

The first thing that I did after taking a seat in the bus was to check that I have my boarding pass and Drivers License necessary to board the flight. I don’t know but somehow I have this habit of checking on things after I get on to a vehicle instead of before that. After being satisfied, I relaxed a bit and was enjoying the soon to end summer of Boston. I picked up my phone and called a friend and happily started chatting. After 20 minutes talk our phone got disconnected and coincidentally my terminal B also arrived at the same time. I directly entered the security check and for the first time in my life it was complete empty. I had to ask the security officer if that check point was for some first class passengers only as it was so deserted; but to my surprise it was not. I reached my terminal at 6:00 pm with 2 hours to spare before my flight takes off. First thing that came to my mind was Starbucks, but I held on to that thought and went for a Panini at Sbarro. That was the only option apart from pizza so I went with it. The other restaurants in the food court were Legal sea food, McDonalds and Asian too (Sushi place). This has been my major qualm with the restaurants here, why doesn’t they serve some good vegetarian food? The ratio of non-vegetarian to vegetarian food has always been 9:1 at most places. Anyways, let’s move on otherwise I can go on and on and on regarding this issue.

After satisfying my appetite, I went for the ultimate, the Starbucks iced coffee. Enjoying my coffee, I booted up my laptop and started jotting down draft for this post. Its 6:48 pm and I am already feeling sleepy. I think I should keep aside this interesting blog for now and start working on some pending office work.

Ok, I am back and sitting idle at Pittsburgh airport waiting for my return flight to arrive. Let me recall what happened after I finished my dinner at Logan airport from where I left this post. After 15-20 minutes of working I packed my bags and headed on to my gate assuming that they will let us in 30 minutes before. Here again I was surprised when I went there, they had already started boarding. I took my seat and as a typical traveler, took out my book and started reading. A young Indian lady in her mid 30s accompanied me on the next seat. We had a long conversation throughout our flight which started by an ice-breaker by her “Isn’t the flight leaving early?” This is when I realized that the flight was departing 20 minutes early as all passengers were already on board. Luckily for me she was from Pittsburgh and pointed me to some interesting places to visit in Pittsburgh. She also pointed me to an Indian temple which is very famous in Pittsburgh. I wish I had visited those places. As the flight was afloat in the mid air, I kept my book aside and took out my laptop to continue my office work from where I had left it. After observing me for 15 minutes she jokingly commented “Are you writing a book?” I just laughed and explained what I do and what software engineer does. It was good to know a dentist taking so much interest in computers as she candidly accepted that all she knew about computers was to turn it on, do few clicks and turn it back off. She was very helpful and accompanied me till I got my shuttle at Pittsburgh airport. I wish all passengers were like her.

Super Shuttle took me to Holiday Inn resort where a cozy bed was awaiting my presence. I checked in and took a relaxing hot shower. I watched TV, surfed internet, updated my Facebook status ;) and slept around midnight.

The morning was not very hectic as my work was to begin from noon. I woke up around 8:00 am and got ready by 10:00 am. Took the hotel’s complimentary shuttle service to the university center of CMU and I could already see a colleague of mine present there. We started setting up our booth, yes our booth, as we were there for recruiting at the career fair. It was all set before 11:00 am and we turn by turn went for breakfast and some beverages. The rush started to pour in just little before Noon and it continued from there on till the end. Entire hall was jam packed with engineering students. It was good to experience that even after sharing the hall with top guns such as Yahoo, IBM, Mozilla, Pepsi co. and many others our booth was constantly occupied. The most interesting experience that I had was of a student coming to me and saying “I am not looking for a job, but just wanted to tell you that MATLAB on a Mac is not performing as good as it does on a Windows”. It was so exciting to see a student’s concern and willingness to share his experience and help us improve our product. There were few students who were diehard fans of MATLAB and Simulink and it was so evident from their conversation. On the other hand there were students who had never heard of MATLAB but were all excited to find out more about it. Overall it was a good experience and a very fruitful one.

Finally a tiring day of non-stop standing and talking for 7-8 hours was over. I was physically so exhausted that I went to my room and ordered food from Pizza Hut for delivery. Enjoyed the P’Zone, surfed internet, watched some “Shaq’s challenge” show where Shaquille O’Neal challenged Michael Phelps in swimming. I slept at 11:00 pm.

Next morning I woke up at 5:30 am and was all set to check out at 6:20 am when my shuttle came in. Dozing in the shuttle I was dropped off at the airport. After the security check, I hunted for the final piece of my trip, a souvenir of Pittsburgh. It was still 2 hours before my flight was going to depart. After futile efforts of looking for Starbucks I tried some local coffee shop, but as I expected the coffee was pathetic. All you coffee lovers would understand how it feels without a coffee in the morning especially when you start your day at 5:00 am and have 2 long hours to pass without much to do. I just took a water bottle and sat down near a power outlet at my flight gate. Here I am completing blog with my experiences during this small but memorable trip.

I hope to get back around noon and go to work. One thing which this blog idea did was it never allowed me to get bored during my wait time at the airport and when I read this entire blog again I could recall those moments right in front of my eyes.

Do share the experience of reading this blog by leaving a comment to this post. It is the only way for me to improve.

Cheers,

-Jimy Shah

Live 2 Eat, don’t Eat 2 Live!

09/12/2009

The feeling of getting back…

Filed under: Uncategorized — Jimy Shah @ 2:57 am

I can smell the theplas and the dhoklas. I could imagine myself enjoying the paan at a local paanwala and talking about cricket matches and local politics. I can hear the humming sound of mosquitoes at night. My eyes can feel the burning sensation due to unprecedented level of pollution. I feel the zing of meeting friends and family. If you haven’t guessed it yet, this excitement is all about my visit to India this November. The sheer feeling of landing on crowded streets of my hometown, Vadodara, gets me goose bumps. It’s been long 3 years since I visited India. Only after I bought the tickets I was able to convince myself that I am truly going to be there… yes finally.

My mom has already started thinking about what I will be feed 4 times a day during my 1 month trip. By now all my relatives and friends must have received this info as my mom like to share her happiness. I am just trying to imagine what my visit is going to be like, what all will I do during my 34 days visit. Will I meet friends? Have dinner at relatives place? Go to our religious temple in Rajasthan? Visit Goa with my best buddies and try to mimic Dil Chahta Hai? Shopping? Eating home made food for 1 long month? Holly cow… I cannot comprehend what all I want to do in this short 1 month span. I am all excited and charged up to be there after a long time. At the same time I am worried too that my friends and family are going to be little stunned when they see my recently developed “family pack” abs, sorry flab(s). But one thing is for sure, whatever others say the first thing that my mom will say is “Jimy tu thodo sukai gayo chey” which means I have lost some weight. I don’t know why moms are like this, but the fact is that this is how moms are and they are the best in this world.

Last time when I visited India the first thing that I did was drove my car and went for dad-hunting. This was because I gave a surprise visit and only mom was in the house. So I had to go to the local brokerage firm and see the reaction on my dad’s face where he was happily trading stocks. That was fun. But this time I have decided not to make it to too dramatic by giving a surprise. This time everything is planned.

Other thing which I want to do is to travel in the train. Possibly I will take train to Mumbai when I go for the visa stamping. I want to enjoy the pakoras and the chana-dal at train station. Relish the pleasing sound of stone-music created by orphans in the train to get some money. Meet with some of my school and college friends whom I haven’t meet since 4 years. I am trying to imagine how much the town would have developed. When I last visited there were no malls in my town, but by now I have heard that there are at least 5 big malls developed. People shop at super markets instead of local area shops, small kids which were not able to walk properly will be riding bicycles and going to school now.

Hmm…. I think I am getting over excited about my trip. It’s hard to put into words, but I am truly super excited. It does not matter whether I stay in US or Europe, the sheer thought of going to India gets me animated. This makes me believe that irrespective of how many years I spend outside my country, the feeling of motherland is so pleasing. I am so glad that I made the decision to make this trip keeping aside the worldly duties.

Thepla, dhokla, pav-bhaji, dosa, samosa, paan, mosquitoes, pollution, friends and family……..here I come…

Do share the experience of reading this blog by leaving a comment to this post. It is the only way for me to improve.

Cheers,

-Jimy Shah

Live 2 Eat, don’t Eat 2 Live!

08/29/2009

My True Graduation…

Filed under: Uncategorized — Jimy Shah @ 7:22 pm

The first thing that comes to my mind when I think of school is backpacks. That also fully loaded with two-ton books, some cool gadgets to show off, compass box stuffed with equipments to shape our future, and most importantly those fancy multi-sectioned lunch boxes. Two full decades of school life just passes through my memories giving that nostalgic feeling and making me say “I wish those days were never over”. So here is my journey of those two decades:

Kinder Garden: My mom always jokes that during kinder garden I was being dressed up while I was asleep and was carefully dumped into school rickshaw.

Standard 1-5: I started getting ready while being wakeful (my first exposure to multitasking). I made friends, played antakshari in school rickshaw and started getting used to the ever growing monstrous homework.

Standard 5-8: Here comes the much awaited phase where I got promoted from half-pant to full pant in school uniform. Aaha… I also got to write with ballpoint pens graduating from the Natraj HB pencils. I got the opportunity to ditch my school bus and be a free bird by riding bicycle to school.

Standard 8-9: Here I got a bigger promotion. Trashed my bicycle and started take bajaj sunny
to school. Started going to tuition classes to get ahead in the education race. The routine was: go to tuition in morning, go to school in the afternoon, play cricket in evening, do homework, watch cricket or TV serials or play video game at night.

Standard 10-12: Here comes the so called crucial years of my career, the board exams. Separate tuition classes for each subject, cut-throat competition, daily tests in tuition classes and first bunks to school periods. Even today I believe those were the most hectic and demanding 3 years of my life. Peer pressure, family expectations and internal desire to do well in the board exams were the biggest drivers. The most common piece of advise from elders would be “This is the only year when you have to work hard, concentrate and you will be happy for your entire life.” That year never ended, not till today. I still remember the day before board exams when relatives and friends would come to wish me luck and bestow their blessings. It was a ritual which everyone followed during board exams to encourage the students.

Board results: Results of XII board exams are out and my parents have started speculating: “how much is the result this year, what was the cut-off for medical college last year, how much is the fees for Xyz College, what would be my ranking in the state boards and many more. As a tradition, on our way back from school where we were informed about my results, dad would stop the car at a local mithaiwala and get some sweets anticipating many friends and relatives would visit our place to congratulate us. And of course… I still remember that smile on my parents’ face each time they would announce my result to someone. Just because of that moment I always think all my efforts were completely justified.

Bachelors’ degree: This was the most fun part of schooling in India. Here I got to interact with many different students from different parts of the country. Enjoyed bunks, celebrated different day’s (govinda day, black&white day, V-day etc.), got ragged on the first day and continued that tradition when I became senior, proxy attendance, walked out from lectures using the back doors and enjoyed the delicious food in canteen. Then came the submission phase where people were found at all different places of campus, except classrooms, completing their journals. Next came the reading vacation where I spent 1 month at home. This month was filled by group studies, explaining concepts over the phone, running to the sincere students to get the IMP questions list which would have been shared by teachers during lectures. Then came the day of exams where I used to enter the campus with fully loaded brain and behaving like an MBA (Mane Baddhu Aavadeche) which translates to “I know everything”. On last day of semester exams we directly went for cricket, then movie and then used to dine out.

Aptitude tests: Now was the phase when I was about to graduate from college and was planning for further studies. I joined the coaching classes EEC
who claims to prepare students for GRE, GMAT, TOEFL, and IELTS. I used to attend verbal and quantitative classes and then practice more in its library for the rest of my day. When bored, we used to get down across the streets where you get the world famous samosa sandwich and pav-vada (name of that place was Vishal sandwich, right across BHS school). Six tiring months of this effort and then came the time for GRE and TOEFL exams. I selected Ahmedabad center for the test which was proclaimed by some co-students as not a recommended center to score high. Disproving the myths I got back home with some satisfactory scores in these exams. Applied for Grad schools and waited and waited and waited for their approval.

Departure from India: It was an experience of mixed feelings and emotional environment. I arrive at the Ahmedabad airport in a mini-bus (32-seater), filled with family and friends who had come to see me off. I entered the airport and all the passengers of that bus wait till 3:00 am and left the airport arena after seeing my plane take off.

Arrival to the US of A: Landed at DFW airport around 11:45 pm on 10th January 2006. A student from Indian Student Association of UTA came to pick me up. Those first glimpses of IHOP, Taco bell and Denny’s across the freeway were mouth watering. I was dropped at BT 110, an on campus apartment, where an undergrad college friend of mine, Vivek, was a tempac. It was 12:30 am and I entered BT 110 to find Dhiraj sleeping in the living room suddenly waking up. I inquired about Vivek and I was escorted to another apartment where Vivek was enjoying the blazing fast internet on his newly owned laptop with some other guys. I later discovered: that apartment belonged to another good friend of mine, Darshit, who had gone to India at that time. So people were enjoying the internet and empty apartment during his absence. I was introduced to everyone, Kaushal, Sandeep (another tempac), Dhiraj, Manoj, Ashish and ofcourse Vivek (whom I already knew). I was feed khichdi, given access to India calling to inform my eager family that I had reached safely and showed the bed where I can crash. I will never forget what Dhiraj, Ashish, Kaushal and Hemal (residents of BT 110 where I was tempac for a week) had done for us. Soon, we (Me, Vivek, Sandeep and a Delhi dude Anshul) moved to a new apartment in the same community, very close to BT 110, ours was BT 118 and the fun started.

Graduate school: Things started falling in place. I got my first job (thanks to Hemal) and hence got my SSN. I received the first paycheck of my life, $58, for 3 days. Classes started, I got involved in research activity and also started working multiple jobs. I learned the most important lessons of my life during the first 6 months at UTA where I managed everything from laundry, cooking and cleaning to my own finances. Soon those hard working days were over and I got assistantship, then life was at its best. Made lots of Gujju friends and enjoyed many memorable days at taj-chat house, masala wok, fun asia, Arlington highlands, coldstone and many other places. We used to cook for 11 people at our apartment. My mom was shocked to hear that something (cooking for 11 people) which makes her nervous even today was being done daily by us. There was also cooking turns, cleaning sessions during apartment inspection, arrival of cops at our birthday parties, getting drunk which was followed by sessions of shayari and garba…. Oh my god… those moments are still alive in front of me. I can still see myself crossing that cooper street which was the only distance between my apartment and my research lab. I remember playing badminton on a tennis courts during our first week of tennis with Vivek.

Then came the hard time to move on and get started with our careers. Within the span of 6 months all of us (7 roommates in CC 211 and many other friends) moved to different places. Now there are no more wild birthday parties, no late night movies, no starbucks at 2:00 am and no sitting on the stairs of our apartment for hours. Everyone is busy in their own life (including me) and with many I haven’t talked since 6 months. Life has moved on, and moved on very fast but those moments are and will be always cherished by us forever. I am very sure that those were THE golden days of my life.

Here I am today, sitting alone on a rainy Saturday afternoon in my apartment and trying to recall the journey of my true graduation….


Do share the experience of reading this blog by leaving a comment to this post. It is the only way for me to improve.

Cheers,

-Jimy Shah

Live 2 Eat, don’t Eat 2 Live!

Image courtesy: Wikipidea, http://www.hindustanpencils.com, sawme.files.wordpress.com, www.attemptednovelist.com, notebookreview.com, whatscooter.com, mapds.com

08/23/2009

Are you bitten by the “impulse shopping” bug?

Filed under: Uncategorized — Jimy Shah @ 9:14 pm

As I wrote about Change is the only constant, I discovered one more incident to attests to it. There has never been a day when I went to office depot and came out with only what I entered to buy. This weekend something unexpected happened. I went to office depot, picked up item X which I intended to buy and left the store. I even did not look at the store flyer or any other isles. I did not realize this change immediately after I left the store but today when I was reading an article on impulse shopping I realized that I exactly managed to cut down on my impulse spending. Now suddenly I feel great about it. It sounds like an achievement to me.

Yes, impulse spending has been one of my weaknesses. I think I am doing well recently to overcome this weakness. For me impulse shopping is something that you feel great at the time of shopping and later you regret. This feeling is like a free fall; even since you become the proud owner of that item you sooner or later start feeling guilty about that spending. It just shows that you did not intend to purchase that product if you were given some time to think about it. What is it that is stopping us from taking that time, thinking about it and then making the decision? There are many factors but the three dominant ones are marketing, peer-pressure and lack of information.

Marketing: Those flashy adds which run 24X7 on television, media hype about a product, store employees trying to convince you that this purchase will be the best thing you can do today etc. are marketing strategies that companies use. How many times you have gone to Costco or BJ’s and got out with 70% of the items which you did not need at that time? How many times you have been driven to a store by just looking at the big SALE signs? I definitely have committed these mistakes many times, but its frequency and magnitude has reduced drastically over last couple of months.

Peer-Pressure: This is the one which many of us feel does not apply to me. But I am very sure that deep down under, in some corner of you, it does affect you also. For instance: your co-workers discussing about their newly owned Iphone in the kitchen area, your best friend’s wife boosting about the new HDTV that they bought yesterday and how amazing the deal was, your friend giving you a ride in his newly hatched, fully loaded luxury car. There are many more such incidents which somehow leave an impression on your mind about that product. To make things worse you find that same product in the front isle of the store that you visit the next day. Now when you find that product, that dormant impression that was left in your mind takes life and prompts you to go closer and explore that product. It depends on individuals how much you can resist to such temptations. If you are like the ideal
customer you might end up spending your hard earned dollars on that product. At that moment, factors such as availability of money and need of that product are easily taken care of by the impulse shopping bug that was alive in you.

Lack of information: I really feel bad when I come home with a product and soon realize that there are cheaper, better quality things available which can suffice that same needs. This should be very rare in today’s information overloaded age, but believe me this happens very often than you can imagine. Consumer Report, CNET reviews, Amazon or even GOOGLE
should give you a very good idea about any prospective product that you are eying to get home. When that impulse shopping bug was biting you, if you were aware that there are other better deals available in market, it might have be easier for you to resist that spending and move on.

For me getting a new car is one of the prime candidates for impulse shopping. Most of my friends know that I have talked about buying a new car more times than Obama talks about health care reforms. Every time I sit in a brand new car, the impulse shopping bug in me becomes active. After I leave the car, I will google the price, ratings etc. Sometimes I have also been to the dealers to find out more about the car. But today I can proudly say that I have repelled those storms. I still have my old, reliable, sturdy and sexy beast, Nissan Maxima with me and I plan to hang on to it for a long time. This impulse shopping fever lasts only few days then it settles down. Now I am aware about this cycle and hence I somehow convince myself to hold on for few days before I take any major purchase decision. This extra time that you get before making the purchase gives you chance to analyze, evaluate and rethink about your decision. If that decision was a result of impulse shopping, in most cases you will end up scraping that idea. This is my way of saying NO to impulse shopping.

How do you avoid this monstrous bug?

Do share the experience of reading this blog by leaving a comment to this post. It is the only way for me to improve.

Cheers,

-Jimy Shah

Live 2 Eat, don’t Eat 2 Live!

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