Farewell Dear Friend

As stated in a post a few days ago I lost another member of my team. This one hurts the most. We joined the company around the same time (she in the 3d week of December, 2006 and I in the 3rd week of January) and have been in the same team since then. We were teammates until I took over the team in July 2008. From that time onwards she has been my backup and the heart & soul of the team. She has been a source of inspiration, friendship and won the admiration, respect & affection of almost everyone who has ever interacted with her.

The rest of the team and I have taken her leaving us very badly. I mean, she left because she got a wonderful opportunity in another company and further her career as well but that doesn’t make her absence feel any lesser. On her last working day / her farewell, I was in Bangalore for the GB training. I jumped at the chance to not be there while her farewell was done – I just didn’t want everyone to see me bawling like a little girl! The rest of the team and she were crying a lot.

We are missing her charm, her sense of  humour, her wisdom, her personality, her advice and her love. The team and I are going to find it very hard to get over the fact that her smiling face is not there to greet us everyday. But we wish her well. I’m going to try and get her to join the rest of us for an early dinner on my birthday in 2 weeks.

This is the last team photo with her in it. She’s sitting in the front row, right in the middle. All the best Ajeeba for your new role in the new company.

Back From Bangalore

I’m just back in my apartment & in my bedroom. I was in Bangalore for the past 3 days, to attend a Green Belt Training, having left Cochin on Monday evening in a Volvo bus. I reached Bangalore by 7 am the next morning and was there till last night when I left for back home. I was joined by two colleagues from my office and there were 14 of us in all who attended the training. The 3 of us from Cochin were put up in an apartment owned by the company and used as a guesthouse for out of town employees who visit the city on official business.

The apartment was nice although a bit on the old side. Small but nice living room with somewhat spacious bedrooms, 3 in all. I really liked the half circle shaped sit out area in the bedroom that I was in, giving me a good view of the neighboring houses & apartments and some lawn area. I was greeted each morning by a rush of welcoming cold breeze and the caretaker would serve us some excellently prepared coffee. I found the cups to be too small for my liking and would ask for 2 cups the sweet brew each of the 3 mornings that I was there. I would wake up at 6:30 am,  brush my teeth & wash my face and come to the living room where the days’ paper would be waiting.

I’d sip the coffee and read through the papers and enjoy the cold breeze blowing in through the huge windows behind the dining table. By 7:30 am I would go and take a shower and a shave and get ready for the day, while the caretaker prepared his sumptuous breakfasts –  toast & huge stuffed omelets the first morning, stuffed dosas on the second and puri & potato curry yesterday.  The dinner he served us on day 1 was also great; simple yet delicious. I’ll write a couple of more posts on my trip a little later. Right now, I’ve gotta go get ready for work.

Spain Won, Who Cares!

Howling mad awful, long & boring – that is how I would describe the 2010 football World Cup! Unable to get ESPN or any other S band channels on my extremely old Sony tv (really ancient guys) I was left with trying to watch the game online. My 256kbps speed connection can only do so much – I found a good site that offers live streaming of the match for free but it’s stop-start-flicker-start-stop-start-flicker after about every 7 or 8 seconds of proper viewing. Watching a dull game like this one on this type of online streaming gets on your nerves and almost put me off football entirely – almost!

I clicked off the streaming website after around 60 minutes, my brain having become numb and dulled out. I couldn’t bear to watch it anymore so I switched to watching one of the many downloaded episodes of Star Trek that I have, occasionally checking the score updates that the tweeple I follow were putting out on Twitter and also checking the news. It seems like the match would never end! After a 0-0 stalemate the match went to 30 minutes of extra-time. “Another 30 minutes” groaned football fans across the globe! Paul the octopus must have wanted to commit suicide and willing made into calamari!

So Spain won *yawn yawn* big deal and all that. I wish they hadn’t and I wish the Dutch had played a bit more better. But this World Cup has left me longing for the European League and the English league in particular. Can’t wait for it to start! I’ll try to buy a new big screen tv before that.

Gio Wants To Go Out In Style

I only came to know at the start of the World Cup that veteran left back Giovanni Van Bronckhorst was the player chosen to captain the Netherlands side. Not only is Gio a player representing my favourite nation in football but he also once played for my favourite club side – Arsenal FC. At 35 years of age, Gio is winding down his professional playing career – on 12 May 2010, he announced that he will end his playing career after the World Cup in South Africa.

The Dutch player with Indonesian heritage started his career with RKC Waalwijk before moving to his hometown club Feynoord Rotterdam for 4 years. Post that he moved for a highly successful spell at Glasgow Rangers and then to an injury plagued time at Arsenal (he however won the League and two FA Cups with them) and then left to join Barcelona, winning two La Liga titles and the Champions League before moving back home to Feynoord and winning a second Dutch Cup with them.

Funnily enough for a player who scores ever so rarely his 6th goal for the Dutch national side came in the semi-finals of this tournament against Uruguay and what a cracker it was! Now he wants a fairy-tale ending, bowing out of his playing career by captaining his national side to a World Cup final win in his very last match. He’ll get the opportunity in a few short hours from now as his Dutch teammates and he face off against the mighty talented Spanish team. Will Gio get to fulfill a dream for most players? Let’s find out.

Germany Beats Uruguay For 3rd Place

In an entertaining match good enough for the final, Germany edged out Uruguay 3-2 and secured the 3rd place for themselves. Sami Khedira scored in the 82nd minute to give Germany a 3-2 victory and third place for the second straight World Cup. But the Germans had to survive a final-second free kick by Uruguay star striker Diego Forlan from just outside the penalty area. It ricocheted off the crossbar, and the whistle sounded. Rain-soaked players shook hands and awaited a medals ceremony that was not nearly what they wanted. The Netherlands and Spain will play for the championship on Sunday in Johannesburg. Germany coach Joachim Loew, his voice still hoarse from the flu, said his team was going home “with a very good feeling.”

Khedira’s header after the Uruguay defence failed to clear a corner kick by Mesut Oezil ended Uruguay’s hopes of beating Germany for the first time in 82 years. Uruguay came from behind to lead 2-1 when Forlan brilliantly volleyed in Egidio Arevalo’s 51st-minute cross for his fifth goal of the tournament. Germany defender Marcell Jansen tied it five minutes later with a header after goalkeeper Fernando Muslera misjudged a cross. In the dying moments, on a rain soaked pitch, Uruguay had one more opportunity. But Forlan, who has been especially dangerous on free kicks, hit the bar.

Uruguay has beaten Germany only once in 10 matches, in 1928. Germany beat Uruguay in the third-place match in 1970, the last time Uruguay reached the semifinals.  In its last three World Cup tournaments, Germany was runner-up in 2002 and third in 2006 at home. Thomas Mueller opened the scoring for Germany in the 18th minute, also his fifth goal at the World Cup. Edinson Cavani equalized for Uruguay in the 28th when he slid a shot past goalkeeper Hans Joerg Butt. Miroslav Klose’s aching back prevented him from playing for Germany and he finished the tournament with four goals and 14 for his career. He is one goal shy of Brazilian forward Ronaldo’s World Cup record and, at 32, doesn’t expect to play in 2014 in Brazil. Loew was forced to make five changes to his team. Defender Philipp Lahm and forward Lukas Podolski were out with the flu. Backup striker Mario Gomez also has the flu.

The End Of A Long Week

Wrapping up stuff at the office that I need to finish & organize before my trip to Bangalore. Speaking of which, I didn’t get train tickets confirmed so I ended up getting bus seats booked on a Volvo bus. So it looks like  just me & the HR AM who will be going from the Kochi office for the GB training in Bangalore. But I’m hoping that my friend & Bangalore colleague Smitha, who I have never met but communicate with on a regular basis over the phone and now on Skype, can also join the training. There are vacant slots available for the training and so she can join as long as she gets approval from the GM.

I’m going to Bangalore for a GB training & I’ll be staying in the company guesthouse near MG Road. However the training will be conducted in a hotel in Koramangala. I wanted to also find out a good bar in the area where I will be visiting and so did the quickest thing possible – I posted this question on Facebook and Twitter. The few responses I got are promising – there’s supposed to be a Jimi’s Beer Bar near the training venue as well as a pub called Enigma. Can’t wait to see if they have some interesting stuff to drink and hopefully some international beer. My travel mate however does not touch alcohol. His loss!

Post work I headed out to Bay Pride Mall for some coffee and I ran into a couple of former colleagues from my Aspin Wall days – Prince and George and they had two of their friends with them. After chatting for a while they invited me to join them at the food court in the mall for a bite to eat. I had a plain milk & coffee with a club sandwich. After that we left the food court and I went to the Archies Gallery to see if I could find a cute little gift for my colleague who is leaving for her new job on Tuesday. They had loads of stuff that I would interesting….and pretty much outta my budget range. Still I got her a little cuddly teddy bear that I’m sure she will like. And now to relax at home.

World Cup 2010 – Almost Done

We’ve got just two matches left to play in this 2010 edition of the greatest & biggest sports tournament in the world. The surprises were plenty, the heartbreaks galore and the final heroes are to be determined in the next two days. Favourites have died out and withered and some new fans were created. And here we are – almost a month ago from when the tournament kicked off.

The semi-finals were decided by a single goal each, a 3-2 win for Holland over Uruguay and a 1-0 win for Spain over Germany. Most people went for a German victory but Spain have proved to be silent and strong and beating them now is a heavy challenge. Uruguay were a delightful revelation in this tournament and I’m sure that some of their key players may find themselves being sought after by some of the bigger clubs in Europe (those who aren’t already signed). The Netherlands seems poised to write their own destiny and erase of heartbreaks and broken promises of the past; while this squad may not have been their most talented ever they sure seem to be the most united.

We have the little matter of finding out who the 3rd place winner is going to be – and that will be decided later on tonight when Germany face Uruguay. And then tomorrow the Netherlands will face off against Spain in the final and whichever side wins, it will be a first World Cup title for them. Two European sides facing off, which nation will stand alone in the end? Let’s find out.

A Parting Gift

See this cute little angelic looking figurine.  It’s my little girl. My little angel.

This cutie was given to me as a gift from my second in command. She is or rather was my backup for 2 years. She joined along with me in the same profile and then when I got promoted she became my right hand…woman. She is an extremely efficient & wonderfully talented person and she is also one of my closest friends and well wishers. And now she has a chance of an excellent opportunity and career growth with benefits. So she is leaving the organization and taking up a better profile in another company.

She truly deserves what she is being offered and a whole lot more. The only person who does not believe in her capabilities is herself. I always tell her that she is worth a whole lot more but she never listens to me. Well atleast now she is getting a good profile where she can show her worth. But am I really gonna miss her. She’s been a solid rock, a pillar of the team and she helped mold the newer members so well. I am so proud of her but sad that she has to move. But I am happy for her getting a good profile and a fatter pay check. All the very best.

New Faces For Arsenal

Gunners boss Arsene Wenger may have been out at the World Cup in South Africa working as a pundit for French television, but Wenger has not wasted any time in strengthening his squad. Long-term target Marouane Chamakh, the Morocco striker, was signed on a free transfer before the tournament, and confirmation of the arrival of promising French centre-back Laurent Koscielny came yesterday in what is understood to be a £10million deal. Wenger, though, fully intends to bring in more defensive cover as well as possibly a new goalkeeper, while the matter of the future of captain Cesc Fabregas, who will face team-mate Robin van Persie in Sunday’s World Cup final, remains to be sorted one way or another.

Wenger also revealed his doubts over first choice goalkeeper Manuel Almunia. The French manager revealed a decision on who was to be his number one next season would be made shortly. He has stated that a decision on the goalie position would be made once the World Cup was over. Juventus are open to offers for Brazil midfielder Felipe Melo, who has long been on Wenger’s radar, while Arsenal could also yet move for Joe Cole, the England midfielder now a free agent having left rivals Chelsea. However, with veterans William Gallas and Mikael Silvestre set to leave after the end of their contracts, and Sol Campbell considering his options, Arsenal are in more pressing need of at least one more body at the back. The Gunners have been linked with Bolton’s Gary Cahill as well as German international Serdar Tasci.

Disconnected & Frustrated

Well I’m back online….atlast. I last used the internet during the early hours of Monday morning, 3am till 3:30am. I had to leave for the office early that day due to the 12 hour bandh in the state/nation and I reached home around 7pm that night. Unfortunately when I came home that evening, I also noticed that my internet connection was out. A call to Tata Indicom’s call center quickly let me know that there was no server problem and hence it might be a cable issue, either in my abode or on the streets.

The issue wasn’t fixed the next day either and I complained again. I got the standard response “sir, we’re sending a strong reminder and asking the tech team to give utmost importance to your problem. It will be rectified as soon as possible”. I am so tired of hearing this. I waited all Tuesday and all of Wednesday. Yesterday I was told that the tech team would call me and I did get a call in the evening asking me if I was at home as the problem was fixed but that they also needed to make a change in the router IP. I said that I would reach home quite late but that since my folks were at home they could go ahead and pay my apartment a visit. They said ok…..and the buggers didn’t show up!

This morning at just before 8am I called up and told the girl who handled my call that the issue was still looming large and that no one had showed up despite the problem. From her tone I knew that she just wanted to close the call as soon as possible, so I asked her to escalate the call to a supervisor. She first hesitated then said that she would check for availability and a little hold later informed me that no supervisor was available at the moment. She then promised me a call back….which never happened! What is wrong with this company’s customer service?

I’ve stuck around only on loyalty; I’ve been their customer for more than 3 years. For the first two years I barely noticed any issues but since then it is getting extremely bad. If there is a server issue that means no internet connectivity for 2 days straight. I am promised a call back and no one does bother to pick up the call. I’m told that an engineer would visit my apartment to get the thing fixed and no one shows up for a day. I’m not sure that I want to continue with this ISP anymore and I’m going to check out other options. Any suggestions?

Forrest Gump Goes To Heaven

Got this is my office e-mail the other day :

FORREST GUMP GOES TO HEAVEN

The day finally arrived. Forrest Gump dies and goes to Heaven. He is at the Pearly Gates, met by St. Peter himself. However, the gates are closed, and Forrest approaches the gatekeeper.

St. Peter said, “Well, Forrest, it is certainly good to see you. We have heard a lot about you. I must tell you, though, that the place is filling up fast, and we have been administering an entrance examination for everyone. The test is short, but you have to pass it before you can get into Heaven.”

Forrest responds, “It sure is good to be here, St. Peter, sir. But nobody ever told me about any entrance exam. I sure hope that the test ain’t too hard. Life was a big enough test as it was.”

St. Peter continued, “Yes, I know, Forrest, but the test is only three questions.

First : What two days of the week begin with the letter T?

Second: How many seconds are there in a year?

Third: What is God’s first name?”

Forrest leaves to think the questions over. He returns the next day and sees St. Peter, who waves him up, and says, “Now that you have had a chance to think the questions over, tell me your answers.”

Forrest replied, “Well, the first one — which two days in the week begins with the letter “T”? Shucks, that one is easy. That would be Today and Tomorrow .”

The Saint’s eyes opened wide and he exclaimed, “Forrest, that is not what I was thinking, but you do have a point, and I guess I did not specify, so I will give you credit for that answer. How about the next one?” asked St. Peter.

“How many seconds in a year? Now that one is harder,” replied Forrest, but I thunk and thunk about that, and I guess the only answer can be twelve .”

Astounded, St. Peter said, “Twelve? Twelve? Forrest, how in Heaven’s name could you come up with twelve seconds in a year?”

Forrest replied, “Shucks, there’s got to be twelve. January 2nd, February 2nd, March 2nd…. ”

“Hold it,” interrupts St. Peter. “I see where you are going with this, and I see your point, though that was not quite what I had in mind…..but I will have to give you credit for that one, too. Let us go on with the third and final question. Can you tell me God’s first
name”?

“Sure,” Forrest replied, “it’s Andy.”

“Andy?” exclaimed an exasperated and frustrated St Peter. “Ok, I can understand how you came up with your answers to my first two questions, but just how in the world did you come up with the name Andy as the first name of God?”

“Shucks, that was the easiest one of all,” Forrest replied. “I learnt it from the song, “ANDY WALKS WITH ME, ANDY TALKS WITH ME, ANDY TELLS ME I AM HIS OWN. . . ”

St. Peter opened the Pearly Gates, and said: “Run Forrest, run.”

Stargate Universe : Episode 13 “Faith”

The tensions after the unsuccessful attempt by the civilians to take over the ship haven’t completely died down. Col. Young in an attempt to cool things down has ordered the soldiers to try and bridge back relations with the rest and himself tries to patch things up with Dr.Rush. Suddenly Destiny drops out of FTL and into normal space but there are no planets nearby and the stargate hasn’t dialed either. They notice that there is star in front of them; one similar to Earth’s sun and which Destiny was not aware off. It was the proximity to the sun’s gravity which caused the ship to drop out of FTL.

Because of this, Destiny is now performing a parabolic course around the sun, which will take a few weeks. By the time Destiny leaves the system, it will resume its course. Rush also makes another discovery; there’s a planet almost identical to Earth in size and climate orbiting the star, and it’s within shuttle range. In investigating the reason Destiny did not know about this system, Rush and Eli can find no glitch. A team comprised of Scott, Greer, T.J, and Dr. Caine take the shuttle to the planet and land near some woodland. They exit the shuttle to check the surrounding area. T.J. takes a sample of water from a stream and tests it’s purity. Discovery of a kiwi like fruit brings excitement to the team and they bring back supplies of plant life.

Rush has calculated that Destiny is going to jump back into FTL in four weeks, two days, and seven hours, and suggests they use the time to send some people on the planet. So it is decided to let a team go down to the planet for that duration in a shuttle and stock up on supplies; when the Destiny comes back into range the team will join them back. Once on the planet Lt. Scott hands out jobs & assignments and pitching of tents and shelter. As the weeks pass the people on the planet have a great time and are enjoying the outdoors, playing make-shift soccer matches and swimming in the lake. They also discover a strange & alien looking obelix which emits a strange light & radiation towards the end of the month. By this time, Lt. Scott gets the team to ready their supplies and head on their way back to Destiny – but there is a catch. Some of the people don’t want to leave the planet!

The team becomes divided and has arguments as to whether the aliens who created the planet & the obelisk would be hostile or not and that staying back would mean death. Finally, T.J. admits she is pregnant, a fact only previously known to Chloe, and she can’t bear the thought of raising her child on Destiny. Scott reports the problem with Young, who is adamant that they return. Scott tells him that, in total, eleven people have decided to stay, including Caine, Chloe, T.J., and himself. Later, Young tells the news with Rush and Wray; Scott believes he has the obligation to protect those on the planet, and wonders what to do with them. Wray believes they shouldn’t force them out of the planet; Rush believes otherwise, since they can’t risk any more losses. He believes Young should retrieve those who wish to return, and then have the rest rounded up by force. Young however, has another plan in mind.

Young decides to take the damaged shuttle which can land on the planet but will not be able to make it out of orbit again. He lets some people who want to stay, stay back on the planet provided that all the military personnel come back with him to Destiny. He will give the people who stay back on the planet the damaged shuttle for shelter and fly-overs. Most of the military personnel come as ordered, and he convinces T.J. and Scott that the crew aboard the ship need them just as much as those on the planet will. Caine and about six other civilians remain behind, while everyone else comes back without incident. Chloe decides to come back to Destiny. The ship soon jumps into FTL again and the crew, minus 7 who stayed back on the planet, enjoy a feast in the mess hall.

It’s Down To The Last Four

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That’s a very strange looking line up for the 2010 World Cup semifinal. Infact at the beginning of the tournament I guess only Spain were a big favourite. However it was Spain who have looked the least impressive in reaching the last 4 stage, but they have been consistent with 1-0 wins in their last two matches against Portugal and Paraguay respectively. So except for their first match, a dismal 0-1 loss to Switzerland (who didn’t even make it past the group stage) Spain have been solid even if they haven’t made sparks fly as of yet. However every Spanish squad player and fan alike would prefer a cup win instead of flashy & impressive wins, if you ask them.

The biggest shock so far was the demolition of Argentina by a strong Germany. 4-0 victory? Highly unlikely you would have said just before the start of the match. Germany have thrashed in 8 goals in the last two matches to oust their old rivals England & Argentina and are looking very impressive. If Germany do win the cup, my vote for player of the tournament is going to Miroslav Klose – the way he has scored goals and come back after that red card against Serbia is awesome. And he is towards the end of his career at the age of 32 and probably playing in his last world cup.

Uruguay have surprised me as well an so far they have been excellent. They faced the Cinderella team of the tournament Ghana and beat them via the penalty shoot-out after a hard fought 1-1 draw. There’s only a few names from their squad that I am familiar with and their achievement is nothing short of wonderful. Can they go on and win the tournament? Unlikely but still it’s a great tournament for them. Which brings me to their semi-final opponent and my fav – Netherlands.

Despite  beating Brazil and having won each & every match they have played so far, I’m still not sure that the Dutch will win the cup. The reason is that their strikers aren’t banging in the goals and it’s left to the wingers to get them. Dirk Kuyt, Robin Van Persie & Jan-Klaus Hunterlaar have only scored one goal each, while Wesley Snijder has 4. Arjen Robben has 1 but he is just back from injury. I’d like to see Van Persie & Kuyt getting into the box and scoring a few.

So which two teams will reach the final? Most people are predicting a Netherlands vs Germany final by the way things are going but I wouldn’t write off Spain yet. They are quite but might have saved the best for the last stages of the competition. And Uruguay will have nothing to prove and hence nothing to lose and everything to gain. All the best teams!