The absolutely true diary of a part-time Indian

Written on 7:23 PM by Tushar Thole



This book is a great choice if you are not in a mood to know more about things flattening the world (The world is flat), communism (Animal farm), investing (Rich dad poor dad), racism (How to kill a mockingbird), history (India - The definitive images), self-help (Eat that frog, How to win friends and influence people)…Well maybe I gave you my excuse for picking this one. Regardless of what your excuse is, this is an incredibly fun book to read.

Also since it had the word “Indian” in its title it caught my attention. (I enjoy reading novels or stories with Indian characters). But after browsing through it I figured out that it was a (fictional) diary of a ‘native’ or ‘red’ Indian boy –Arnold Spirit Jr.


Arnold hails from a (red) Indian reservation (he refers to it as ‘rez’) in WA. His life is in a mess and he is so frustrated at God that he wants to ‘kill’ him. He is not particularly attractive, has suffered from a serious brain damage as kid and at a tender age of 14, has attended 42 funerals. His dad is an alcoholic, mom does not have a steady job and sister is a hopeless romantic who has run away to fulfill her fantasies. So he decides to break free from the rez and moves to a ‘all whites’ school in a nearby town.


This move also not very well received by Arnold’s community and he is accused for being a ‘white-lover’. His best friend Rowdy is mad at him for ‘betraying’ the tribe which supposedly has ‘cursed’ the tribe leading to a couple of deaths in his family. He is also having a tough time getting settled in new school which is in town where even cops are so racist that (native) Indian drivers are getting a ticket for DWI (Driving While Indian)!

In such hopeless situation, drawing cartoons is Arnold’s way to vent frustration.


Native Indians were nomadic but now most of them have settled into reservations created by the government. But Arnold Spirit is turning a nomadic again in search of a better life and greener pastures.


The book is really witty and filled with really nice cartoons which accompany the story as seen here.

Great read and Sherman Alexie totally deserves the slew of awards that were bestowed upon him for this book. Recommended!

How to win friends and influence people!

Written on 8:32 PM by Tushar Thole


If you’re one of those who hate self-help books (maybe because you think perfection ko improve karna mushkil hota hai) then you can stop reading here. No donut for you :P


While growing up, this is probably the first book in this genre that I had heard of. Since it is written half century ago I was skeptical whether its advice is still relevant. I already had got myself burnt by reading ‘Eat that frog’. I guess only because I could get hands on its audio version we decided to give it a try during our road trip to Southern California during Thanksgiving. Both of us loved it and finished (listening to) it in two days flat!


The book is replete with great and easy-to-follow advice .All the “techniques” (Btw it would be really ironic if you realize that you need to learn/master a something as fundamental as “Smile!”) are explained with the help of witty anecdotes. This is unusual given that most of the books in self-help genre are such that you immediately figure out that their authors are the ones who need help the most :)


I’m so impressed that I’ve put its summary in my office. Highly recommended!


Rahat Fateh Ali Khan Live In Concert!

Written on 3:18 PM by Tushar Thole

I love Sufi music! So when we learnt that Rahat Fateh Ali Khan was going to perform in Bay area how could we let this opportunity go! Even though the show was poorly organized Rahat mesmerized the audience and created magic through his voice! He sung most of his immensely popular bollywood songs which stand out from the noise just because of his voice. The best part was that he also sung a lot of Qawaalis that are made immortal by his uncle, Shahenshah-e-Qawwali Nusrat Fateh Ali Khan.

Here are some of the songs that he sung. (Invested an entire Sunday morning to find nice videos of Nusrat and Rahat in action.Don't forget to have a look!)

On a side note people were literally throwing money on him which we thought was really inappropriate. But after looking at this youtube video it seems it's a tradition in the country Rahat belongs to! So never mind :)

Eat that frog!

Written on 3:51 AM by Tushar Thole


If you eat a frog every morning then that will probably be the worst thing you’ll do that day and you are rest assured that nothing worse will happen to you. That’s the (only!) point this (rather forgettable) book is trying to make.

It (repeatedly!) reminds the reader of the 80/20 principle and suggests various techniques (using lists, ABCDE method etc.) to identify tasks which will have a positive impact on life and suggests to tackle them first.

There is nothing new and even though this book is just about 100 pages; in my honest opinion that too is overkill. Maybe I am spoiled due to abundance of useful information available on the internet in a concise form (blogs, articles etc.) that I feel that if the author were to write this book in 2008 he would happily settle for a blog entry instead of writing a book. I had high expectations from this book maybe because a sane friend suggested it :) Even though it is evident that I did not like it I will not say that it was completely a waste of time. But again, if you ask me glass is always half full!

Rich Dad Poor Dad and Rich Dad’s Prophecy

Written on 3:23 AM by Tushar Thole


Does this book need any introduction? I don’t know why I did not read it for so long. Better late than never!

Pretty much everyone I deal with in day to day life knows how to earn money; there are a few who know how to manage it and then there are a precious few who know how to manage it effectively! The people in the last category are commonly known as ‘RICH’!People usually take all matters related to their careers seriously, work really hard to get a promotion or a salary increment yet are completely ignorant and are at the mercy of someone else when it comes to taxes, investment and long term decisions related to financial matters. After going through these two books I have realized the importance of having a good financial IQ and how to work towards improving it.


In Rich dad poor dad Robert Kiyosaki touches upon following principles.

  • The rich don’t work for money
  • The importance of financial literacy
  • Minding Your own business
  • Taxes and corporations
  • The rich invent money
  • The need to work to learn and not to work for money

Even though the book is a pleasure to read and does not take infinitely long to finish here’s a summary for the fast-food generation.


In ‘Rich dad’s prophecy’ he predicts a stock market crash in near future (2016) and also discusses 401K and other retirement plans along the way. Even there is not even a remote connection between his predictions about the stock market crash and the current economic recession it gave me a good insight into things I was looking around for an advice.


As a side note this was the first time that I tried audio books and I am completely mesmerized by this phenomenon! This is perfect for someone like me who cannot get enough of reading and is always trying to get more done in the available time. I finished these two books in less than a week and that too while doing activities like driving and washing dishes :) I am hungry for more and will encourage you to try out one!

India The definitive images

Written on 1:46 AM by Tushar Thole

It’s quite funny to “read” a book containing photographs (along with some commentary) and then write a review about it. But believe me this book is worth it.


After staying in US where people call half century old stuff “historic”, I desperately want to read up some book about India’s magnificent past (Any suggestions?). So I grabbed this one when it came in my way. Even though it does not quench my knowledge thirst in any way ; after investing about a couple of hours into it I touched upon some epoch- making events in Indian History and also came to know about origins of some of the most famous photographs.


Apart from an introduction from Khushwant Singh it contains timeless images from some of the most celebrated photographers such as Raghu Rai, Steve McCurry , Raghubir Singh and others. Recommended!

8 things...

Written on 9:54 PM by Minu Agarwal

8 TV Shows I Love to Watch:

  1. Friends
  2. The Office
  3. Malgudi days
  4. Top Chef
  5. I dream of Jeanie
  6. Lonely Planet
  7. Tom and Jerry
  8. Sex and the City

8 Favorite Places to Eat:

  1. Vaishali (South Indian place) on FC Road in Pune
  2. Badshahi (typical Maharashtian cuisine) in Pune
  3. P F Chang's
  4. Sarvana Bhavan at Lexington Ave in NYC
  5. College Town Bagels in Ithaca
  6. Bella Luna Restaurante Italliano, Palo Alto
  7. Subway sandwiches
  8. California Pizza Kitchen


8 Things That Happened Yesterday:

  1. Maharashtrian lunch at Nitin’s place
  2. Collected atleast 15 samples of exotic perfumes
  3. Was very nostalgic and by chance I had the Swades CD playing in the car..so heard ‘yeh jo des hain tera’ song 5 times!
  4. Had free champagne at Nordstrom
  5. Had the worst dinner at P F Chang's…after complaining to the Manager, thankfully didn’t have to pay for it
  6. Watered the plants after a week!
  7. Excitedly went for shopping only to know that the mall gets closed really early on Sundays
  8. Had tasty rasagullas


8 Things I Look Forward To:

  1. Tushar
  2. Hawaii trip – First wedding Anniversary
  3. Drive to Big Sur
  4. Meet my mom
  5. Hair length reaching down the hip
  6. Visiting Cornell during snowfall
  7. Jogging on the road with my favorite music plugged into my ears
  8. Learn Swimming


8 Things I Love About Winter:

  1. Garam chai ki pyali
  2. Colorful Sweaters
  3. Vapor coming out of mouth (Can pretend to smoke in the morning)
  4. Dewdrops on leaves
  5. Winter sales
  6. Christmas lighting and decoration
  7. Shekoti (born fires)
  8. Roasted bhutta (Sweet Corn)


8 Things on my Wish List:

  1. I-phone
  2. 26-inch waistline
  3. Develop reading habit
  4. Start my own company/business
  5. Backpack trip to Europe
  6. Teaching at school (childhood dream)
  7. Oh speaking of childhood dreams…I always wished I could fly…
  8. Ballroom dance with Tushar

8 Things I’m Passionate About:

  1. Tushar
  2. Eating
  3. Sleeping
  4. Watching movies
  5. Watching planes and choppers flying in the sky
  6. New clothes
  7. Mom
  8. younger brother

8 Words or Phrases I Use Often:

  1. Really?
  2. Chalo
  3. Hmmmm
  4. You know…
  5. I mean…
  6. Kuch bhi
  7. Itna Ghatiya
  8. OK


8 Things I Have Learned From My Past:

  1. No shortcut for hard work
  2. If you want something the entire universe conspires help you achieve it!
  3. You need to take initiative to be in contact with old buddies
  4. Listen more speak less
  5. Laugh your heart loud whenever you get a chance
  6. Just do it, jo hoga dekha jayega
  7. Believe in yourself
  8. Time flies
8 Places I Would Love to Go or See or Visit:
  1. Hawaii
  2. Egypt for Pyramids
  3. Norway and Sweden to see 6 months days and 6 months night
  4. Amazon Rain Forest
  5. Kenya Jungle Safari
  6. Himalayas
  7. Fatehpur Sikri near Agra
  8. Alaska

8 Things I Currently Need or Want:

  1. Regular exercise
  2. Nice pair of specs
  3. Visit to a spa for herbal body massage
  4. Colorful bed sheets
  5. A trendy purse
  6. Breakfast ideas
  7. Good cell phone handset
  8. Try new cuisine in San Francisco
P.S. Tagging Tushar,Parag and AG!

The VMware experience

Written on 9:29 PM by Tushar Thole

I am Tushar Thole and I approve this message :)



VMware put my VMware endorsement on its campus recruitment brochure as seen above. I did not know about it till Bhuwan saw this @ Columbia university career fair:)
So if you're interested "Learn more and apply online at www.vmware.com/campus"

The crime of reason

Written on 7:38 PM by Tushar Thole

Prof. Robert B. Laughlin, Stanford University gets his name in history books (again!) for being the first Nobel Laureate that I have ever seen in flesh! Just kidding…He shared the 1998 Nobel Prize in Physics for his theory of the Fractional Quantum Hall Effect.

The occasion being the talk he gave at PARC – ‘The crime of reason’

Here’s the abstract of the talk in his words -

“There is increasing talk about the disappearance of technical knowledge from the public domain, both because it is a security danger and because it is economically valuable. I argue that this development is not anomalous at all but a great historic trend tied to our transition to the information age. We are in the process of losing a human right that all of us thought we had but actually didn't - the right to learn things as we can and better ourselves economically from what we learn. Increasingly, figuring out important things (as opposed to unimportant ones) for yourself will become theft and terrorism. Increasingly, reason itself will become a crime.”

I twitter!

Written on 8:31 PM by Tushar Thole


Why should (do) I twitter?

Most important reason is I am lazy! There is so much going on in my head all the time that it is not really possible to put all these (mostly incoherent) ideas into a (meaningful) blog post. Just off the top of my head things that I would like to blog about are …trip to Kanha national park in may06, Konkan trip with my family in jan08, thoughts after my India trip, my parents’ visit to US, recent Vegas trip, Camping in Big trees state park, Rafting at American river…so on and so forth…The main motivation to start my blog was to keep track of interesting things that I was/am doing (For e.g. rants are not particularly interesting to a general audience but a hiking trip?…maybe). So twitter serves as a temporary relief that I have kept a note of this “thing” for now and it is fine even if I don’t find time to blog about it.


Secondly, many times I get many (weird) ideas while say driving or just while living my life. Not all of them are worthy a blog post. In these cases twitter works the best! That’s what ‘micro-blogging’ is all about!


Just to make it clear I don’t think that the world needs to know “what I am doing right now”. That is why stayed away from it till now but for reasons stated above I thought I should twitter too! IMO it’s a nice way to snapshot your mind a few times a day!


Potential risks?

Some of the folks are taking twitter’s message (“what are you doing right now?”) too seriously and update their status a little too often with (mostly useless?) information such as “I just made dinner… I am eating it now...wow it is so good and yummy...I am sleeping now…I am asleep and dreaming about XXX (I meant fill in the blanks btw!) right now…” Ok. I made up the last one but you get the point -Potentially people are giving out too much personal information. But that is true with blogging or with pretty much with all other web 2.0 features (social networking websites etc.) too. Just be careful about what you write about and you will be fine. Lets say you are an insanely beautiful female (these days this applies to guys too!) and has a bunch of stalkers then it will be a really bad idea to update the world on where you are and what you are doing all the time!


How do I twitter?

Currently I am looking for some cool tool/Firefox extension etc as I hate going to twitter.com every time to check (others’) and update (my) status. If you know something that I can use do shout back!


Find more about twitter here.


P.S Click on the twitter image to see my tweets:)

Unforgettable tour concert!

Written on 10:11 AM by Minu Agarwal

(Review of Unforgettable tour concert near San Francisco on July 27th,08)

It all started with a month long contemplation of whether to go or not. There are concerts taking place in bay area every now and then but then we thought what can be bigger than Mr. AB, jr. AB, Ash, Madhuri, Preity all on one stage. I follow Amitabh’s blog religiously and read updates about the concert preparations on it which excited me even more to attend this concert. I had never seen a celebrity in my life so this was gonna be my first time!


We got the tickets online from Sulekha.com. Someone told me that it’s better to go early since there are chances of getting stuck in the traffic and not finding a parking spot near the Arena. The show was at 7pm and we reached the venue at 5:45. We had packed Tiffin and carried cameras, binoculars and camcorder. After reaching the entrance we saw a looong queue waiting for the doors to open and heard announcements telling the viewers to not carry any electronics and food items insideL. So we had to leave everything in the car.It was cold and breezy that evening and we waited for more than an hour in the queue freezing! Everyone was dressed up as if they were to attend a wedding! When the doors finally opened the crowd went helter-skelter, queues were broken and a huge mass tried to squeeze through narrow doors. It reminded me of the chaotic situation outside Indian temples.


Oracle Arena is a huge Auditorium accommodating nearly 10,000 people. The stage was very well placed and big screens were put up for close views of the stage. Soon the show started with a performance of bay area Bhangara group. Following that started the solo performances of the stars. First came Ritesh Deshmukh, he danced really well and connected with the audience wonderfully. His energy level was great and his dance choreography was the best amongst all. Then followed Preity, performing on the signature song attached to her image, yes it was Pretty Woman! The most impressive part of her performance was the total dress change that she did in less than 10 seconds. Then Abhishek made a ‘dhansu’ entry from the audience. Ash’s solo performance was just mediocre because it started with ‘Crazy kiya re’ western number which doesn’t suit her image. She looks best in Indian outfits and shouldn’t have started with a western style song. Jaya Bachchan gave a short speech about global warming with a straight face.


As expected, Amitabh was legendry on stage. He sang multiple old songs in an unshakeable voice which made us think whether it was all prerecorded. He performed a sentimental scene from Deewar which was beyond words. He had tears in his eyes at the end of the scene to make it realistic.Among ladies, Madhuri absolutely stole the show! From ‘Ek-Do-Teen’,‘Dhak Dhak’, ‘Dil toh pagal hain’ to ‘Aaja Nachle’; every piece was classy. ‘Dola re’ by Ash and Madhuri was beautiful.


The show went on for more than 4 hours and surpassed all our expectations. The props used during all performances were really creative and side dancers from Shiamak Dawar’s academy were outstanding.

Here are a few pics clicked during the show by one of my colleagues (Officially it wasn’t allowed. But the heck, we’re desis:D)


It truly was an unforgettable experience…

Why do we do this?

Written on 4:09 PM by Tushar Thole

Came across a nice advt. Makes sense except the yes/no part in the end:)

Interpreter of maladies and Unaccustomed earth

Written on 6:43 PM by Tushar Thole

Jhumpa Lahiri is phenomenal as an author!

'Interpreter of Maladies' totally deserves the Pulitzer Prize which it received in 2000. Stories in both books deal with 'an immigrant experience' something which I'm personally going through. Characters in her stories are mostly (Bengali) Indian immigrants and are torn due to cultural differences between their native land and US. After reading Wikipedia
entry on her, I realized that protagonist in her stories is mostly inspired by her personal life. Jhumpa's parents moved to US when she was three. Her family kept visiting Calcutta every summer. She changed her name from Nilanajana to Jhumpa as she thought it was too embarrassing (?).Remember Gogol Ganguly from her novel ‘The namesake’?

It is often said that Jhumpa portrays lives of Indian immigrants as dull. After reading her book I can say that this accusation holds water.But even though her characters are not leading a very colorful life a reader can easily relate with them.For me, transition to US(the country and its culture) came naturally but when my parents paid me a visit a couple of months back I was trying really hard to keep them engaged in something or the other so that they would not feel bored or more importantly “out of the place”. I had made a plan for every weekend and successfully executed it as well. In hindsight such a scheme will work for a couple of months or even for a year. But what if they have to move here permanently leaving their motherland or karma bhoomi behind? Will that transition be easy for them? May be since I had these thoughts running in my head while reading these books I thoroughly enjoyed them.

Highly recommended!

English August

Written on 6:30 PM by Tushar Thole


One of my friends suggested that this book might be a good read as the movie based on it was hilarious.

This book is written by an
IAS officer himself so maybe I was expecting too much.The plot looked promising as well...A rookie IAS officer moves to a small town called Madna and experiences the corruption, bureaucracy, difficulties in running an administration first hand. (I am simply fascinated by Indian Administrative Services. At some point I wanted to become a part of it. Given that I am 25 I still have 3 more years to take the plunge if my current profession gets too boring!)

It is a known fact that bureaucracy can lead to pretty hilarious situations...Yes Minister or The office lovers please stand up!
But instead this book gave me an impression an IAS officer who is no less than a king in a small town completely ignores the welfare of people and drinks whiskey,smokes marijuana during daytime to compensate the cultural shock of suddenly moving to a small town from a big city...Maybe after first 150 pages(that's when I stopped reading it)
the rookie gets out of his depression and every page in this book is filled with witty remarks and funny situations but I could not stand it...

Not recommended.

Shanti Bhushan

Written on 3:49 PM by Tushar Thole

On 28th July,08 Dad was felicitated with 'Shanti Bhushan' award by Bhartiya Jain Sangathana for his social work.




A proud day for Thole family:)

C.R.A.Z.Y.

Written on 10:29 PM by Tushar Thole

Yes, we did it! Three movies back to back in a theater!

My mom was watching an English movie in a theater for the first time and she made her “debut” really memorable with a hat trick!


Obviously it was impromptu. First one we watched was Wall-e. Frankly I don’t get what the hype is about. My friends called it extra-ordinar-e. I agree that it’s a brave attempt on Pixer’s part to produce a movie

- which has a story that is difficult to understand for kids when compared to Ratatoullie,The Incredibles and Finding Nemo

- most of the frames are really dull

- merchandise opportunities are none.

But I didn’t like it .I’ve seen better ones.


Next one was Hancock. I think Will Smith (hero as well as the producer of the movie) should have spent a little more time/money to rewrite the story to make it more appealing. Even though a super hero story line has become a cliche’ recently, I thought it’ll be a fun movie after watching trailers. But after the first half an hour, the movie lost its grip. Will Smith should get an Oscar for keeping a straight face for the entire movie. I have no clue why on earth a talented actress like Charlize Theron would spoil her reputation by accepting such a lousy role.


Fortunately to wipe out these bad memories came the icing on the cake – Dark knight. What a movie! Awesome! Brilliant! People were lined up outside the screen well in advance to get a better spot and some of them were even dressed up as Joker. As I am writing this it is enjoying its numero uno position on IMDB for the best movie of all times. I never read any comics when I was a kid and this was my first Batman movie ever so I wasn’t too excited about this movie. It has a great story and every actor has given his/her 200% .The one who stands out the most is Heath Ledger. His joker is one of the best of villains ever on silver screen. It’s so sad that he is no more :( Minu was probably bored by this time hence wasn’t paying much attention and mom was trying her best to understand whatever was going on the screen so I had to update them from time to time about the storyline. After a while an irritated lady sitting in the front row started giving me glances so I had to stop my commentary :) The crowd enjoyed the movie so much that everybody clapped in the end.


We emerged out of the theater after almost six and half hours. I’ll have to try really hard next time to break or even match this feat :) What a fun day!

Knuth almighty!

Written on 4:34 PM by Tushar Thole

Flashback -
When I was pursuing undergrad in Computer Engineering in Pune, one of my friends bought the book series "The art of computer programming" by Donald Knuth. Those were the days when we used to study only during PLs (preparation leaves) so when everybody found out about this we started calling him "Knuth" just to ridicule him. We still call him by the same name!

Current -
While browsing through SCPD's website I came to know that Donald Knuth is going to talk about "fun with Binary Decision Diagrams" and I jumped at the opportunity! Not that I am interested in listening anything about binary decision diagrams I just wanted to see him. He's one of the icons of computer science who has shaped the way people think while designing an algorithm.When it comes to computer science, Knuth is no different than a GOD. He is almost 70 years old and he seemed too passionate about his work.He is currently working on the 4th volume of the book series. It's the same content look that I see in my grandpa's eyes when he is with his grandchildren. For Knuth bits and bytes are his family and he seems to really enjoy their company.

Managing humans under thousand splendid suns...

Written on 3:50 PM by Tushar Thole

Ever since parents have taken the charge of the kitchen me and Minu are relieved from the cooking duty. The free time is well spent in reading!I have been thinking for a while now about using public transportation to commute to work so that I can read a little more. Lets see how that goes.

Here's a short review of books that I've read in past two months -

Managing Humans - **1/2
I am a big fan of Michael Lopp's (Rands) blog.Most of the times he writes about things that are really useful to survive/perform better in a corporate environment. But then he also writes about a lot of useless stuff and moreover all the chapters are derived from blog posts. So I will suggest you saving some money and reading blog posts online. It's definitely NOT "the best book on management out there" as Joel Spolsky says.
Here are some of my favorite posts

  • Ninety days -I finished first 90 days at my job a couple of weeks back!
  • Avoiding the Fez - In first 90 days at work I have seen an example of a Fez diminishing into nothingness in front of my eyes. Believe me it is scary.Silicon valley is all about "The survival of the fittest!"
  • A Glimpse and a hook.
Thousand Splendid Suns - **
This book is such a disappointment! I tend not to read two books of an author back to back so I waited for a long time after reading Kite Runner.But the characters in this book are portrayed poorly and it seems like a listening to a documentary on Afghanistan. It got so depressing that I had to stop reading it when I was almost 90% done. Sometimes even though I am not enjoying a book I keep reading it in a hope that it will get better. When I gave up on this one the protagonist in the novel - Mariam had become 40 years old (the novel started with she being 5 yrs old or something) and I cannot recollect anything pleasant happening to her even once! That's too depressing! Minu and I had a hearty laugh when I narrated the story to her and she was wondering why I kept reading it in the first place:)





luka chipi...

Written on 1:49 PM by Tushar Thole

Every time I listen to this song I get really emotional.
“Kya bataoon maa kahan hoon main
Yahan udney ko mere khula aasmaan hai
Tere kisson jaisa bhola salona
jahan hain yahan sapno vala
Meri patang ho befikar udd rahi hai maa
Dor koi loote nahin beech se kaate na
kaise tujhko dikhaun yahaan hai kya
Maine jharne se paani maa tod ke piya hai
Guchcha guchcha kai khwabon ka uchal ke chuwa hai
Chaaya liya bhali dhoop yahaan hai
Naya naya sa hai roop yahan
Yahaan sab kuch hai maa phir bhi
lage bin tere mujhko akela”

Happy 50th birthday mom!

:)

P.S. Was supposed to post this on May 9th.

Match Point

Written on 4:04 PM by Tushar Thole

These days I drive to work which takes half an hour in each direction.Here's an interesting thought which originated during the commute.

Life is unfair. Opportunities you get are analogous to waiting times at a traffic signal. Everything depends on the timing! Sometimes you might have to wait for a long time till the queue built up in front of you clears up and there will be times when you are the first one to pass through. Relating this to the professional life, I see people with 6 years of experience who don't even have a US degree, managing a team working on cutting edge technologies. At the same time there are people with 10+ years of experience with a graduate degree from Stanford working under them. (I am not suggesting that becoming a manager is the nirvana of a software engineer. Replace the label "manager" with whatever you want to become or achieve in professional life.) You'll argue that a person's promotion (as an engineering manager in this discussion) does not solely depend on his/her technical skills or background. It is also a function of his people management skills (soft skills) and his desire to manage a team (there are people who want do a technical job forever). True. Agreed. Given all that I am trying to figure out what are the reasons behind a meteoric rise of an individual. Exclude "startup superstars" for now.Just as an exercise compare your manager with your director. Both of them might have almost similar profile/background/professional experiences . Both of them possess people management skills.In a place like silicon valley where every other person is technically sound (lets not argue about that. It's just a hypothesis) I think becoming successful very heavily depends on being at the right place at the right time!

I'd seen an excellent movie based on this idea called Match point directed by Woody Allen.Highly recommended.

Freebase

Written on 5:12 PM by Tushar Thole

Attended a lecture by John Giannandrea, CTO of Metaweb Technologies on "Freebase: An Open Database of the World's Information" at PARC which happens to be just across the street from VMware office.

ABSTRACT

Freebase -- an open database of the world's information -- is built by a global community and is free for anyone to query, contribute to, and build applications on. Drawing from large open data sets like Wikipedia, MusicBrainz, and the SEC, Freebase is curated by a passionate global community of users and contains structured information on millions of topics such as music, food ingredients, rocket engines, stock indices, historical events, and more.

This was arranged as a part of 'Going Beyond Web 2.0' lecture series.Online archive of previous lectures can be found here.

Notes to self

  • Revisit - DB normalization, Transaction processing.
  • Know more! - URI,onotologies, semantic web, RDF,Powersets,Schema "last" or schema "later"
  • Look at - Google maps API, Freebase API

Windfall

Written on 2:03 PM by Tushar Thole

I vaguely remembered reading about Once, an Academy/Grammy award winning Irish musical, so thought of giving it a try. We*’re not especially fans of musicals and when we read the movie description on Netflix DVD cover we were really disappointed. Being a strong believer in Collection Fusion (yet another Info retrieval buzzword), I usually dissect the movie before watching it by reading IMDB reviews…as there is nothing more painful in life than watching a crappy movie on a lovely weekend! Also we are past the stage where we would like to watch the first day first show of any movie so it’s better to play it safe by knowing in advance whether it is worth the time. Though usually I am very meticulous I somehow forgot to do this ritual for Once and it turned out to be a very pleasant surprise. It made our weekend musical and magical! I can still hear those words lingering in my head…Falling slowly, Say it to me now, When your mind is made up …Superb music, awesome lyrics…I cannot (and don’t want to either) get those beautiful songs out of my head. More about the movie here.

Go grab a DVD now! Believe me you’ll love it!

*Usage "we" is a side effect of marriage and refers to me and my better half Minu:)

Upsilon Pi Epsilon

Written on 1:31 PM by Tushar Thole

I got inducted into UPE!

Upsilon Pi Epsilon (ΥΠΕ): International Honor Society for the Computing and Information Disciplines is the first and only existing one of its kind.

UPE is endorsed by the Association for Computing Machinery (ACM) and the Institute of Electrical and Electronics Engineers Computer Society (IEEE-CS), the two largest computer organizations in the world. Aside from conferring honor on computer science and computer engineering students, it has a large involvement with the ACM International Collegiate Programming Contest.

Membership in UPE, like many other honor societies, is lifetime; however student members inducted get a free year of ACM membership as well. Additionally, UPE gives out a number of scholarships for its members and ACM members.” – Wikipedia.

Apart from the lifetime membership I will receive a recognition pin, certificate and honor cord to wear at my graduation in May.

A link to JHU chapter is here.

It’s a great honor and what an awesome start to the week!

Encyclopaydia

Written on 1:02 PM by Tushar Thole

R. Jacob Vogelstein, One of the professors @ Hopkins, has started a new website called “Encyclopaydia” to keep a database of salary information of Hopkins alumni. This is a great tool as it gives a good idea about what to expect in terms of salary when you graduate and provides a basis to negotiate the salary with a potential employer.

There might be better websites of this kind out there but this is the first one that I came across. Do have a look!

Here comes another bubble!

Written on 1:02 PM by Tushar Thole



Even I am moving to Palo Alto :D

False idle time

Written on 3:04 AM by Tushar Thole

In storage jargon false idle time refers to the idle CPU time when all active processes wait for I/O. I think it is best suited to my current situation as I wait for the green signal from USCIS to start working for VMware.

Yes I am missing my better half a lot and people are annoying me by asking same irritating questions everyday such as “आला का OPT?” (Did you get OPT?), “कधी जाणार US ला?”(When are you going to US?). As if I want to keep it a secret! One of my neighbors had assumed that I am no longer going back to US and looking for a job in India! But other than that there is nothing else to complain about.

I wonder whether I can buy this much free time in near future when it is simply fine to not log onto Internet for a week straight. You have no idea what it means to someone like me who spent past 15 months of my masters program treating my laptop as one of my body parts. This reminds me of my meeting with Dr. Yair Amir on my last day at Hopkins. He congratulated me for my decision to take a 50 days long break before joining VMware. He was fortunate to get A DAY long break after his PhD in Israel before moving to US! Now every year when he goes to Israel for a couple of weeks for a vacation he does not even carry his laptop. It is an extreme step for someone like him who is running a company and reminds me of a factory, given the rate at which he is churning out publications in the field of distributed systems. Shouldn’t I consider myself lucky that I don’t have to resort to such extreme measures to spend time with my family?

To avoid my empty mind from being devil’s workshop I started doing what I do the best. Read. So far I have read 5 Marathi books in a fortnight. One fine day will start blogging in Marathi too. Although I don’t mind reading English fiction (loved Kite runner which I read during summer, 07), I prefer nonfiction any day. I was searching for a good book about India as I feel that I am getting detached with my motherland. It may be due to lack of reading Indian newspapers or watching Indian news channels (most of which are after sheer yellow journalism with an exception of NDTV). Have started reading ‘India unbound’ by Gurucharan Das and will keep you posted on how it goes.

A while back Indian stock market was a gold mine. India was rated as one of the top 3 countries for investors. Even after the recent dip it still is a better place to invest than US.Gone are the days when stock trading was considered as gambling. Today an average Indian looks at stock market for a serious investment. I have tried taming the bull in the past and was pretty successful too. Compared a lot of options to trade online such as ICICI-direct, sharekhan, religare etc and I guess I will go for IndiaInfoLine. Here is a good guide if you are new to investing.

As mentioned earlier I am also going to D.Y.Patil College to guide MSc students for campus placements.

Blame it on my marriage but collection of my photographs is growing by 200 a day! Minu is yelling at me for not uploading wedding pics to our wedding website but I get demoralized just by the sheer volume of pics. Thanks to my awesome camcorder, making movies is the next best thing! I recently went to Stud farm too to shoot videos. I wish I could keep the camcorder ON all the time to capture new tricks that Mahi is learning day by day! I am yet to learn movie editing though.

Hearty chats with the family members, evening walks with Swapnil, simply lazing around at home…activities like these are refueling me with enthusiasm which I hope lasts till my next visit to India. But I must confess it does worry me that I am not working at the moment. I laughed at myself when I came across a blog from one of Blogger developers who is quitting Google to explore other interests for a while! I guess this guilt feeling ain’t my fault. This is the way we Indians are brought up. Anyways I sincerely wish

"चिठ्ठी आयेगी आयेगी...चिठ्ठी आयेगी!” Amen.

Playing “Big brother”

Written on 2:38 PM by Tushar Thole


Well, the title has nothing to do with the reality show which was in news recently due to racist remarks against our very own Shilpa Shetty who eventually emerged as a winner.

Currently I am on an extended vacation in India thanks to USCIS who is taking its sweet time to grant me the OPT status. As there is nothing concrete on my TO-DO list I am simply looking for something to keep my spirits up. As usual Sweety, my younger sister, who is pursuing masters program in Computer Science under University of Pune, is my favorite target.

Once I found her resume lying on the table and I asked her what it was for. She told me that campus placements are about to start in her college. Her curriculum also requires her to do an internship in the last semester which is kinda neat. I started bombarding her with questions such as what preparation she is doing for interviews, which companies she is aiming for, which domain (applications/systems) she is interested in working. Sweety soon declared that it was the time to go to college just to get rid of my annoying questions. To her dismay I dint let go of the topic and kept pestering her for a couple of days questioning her career plans. After digging more I found out that no initiative was being taken by her College (D.Y. Patil, Pimpri) so I decided to meet her Head of the Department. When I discussed this topic with her HOD he suggested me to take up a session for MSc students on career planning and how to approach campus placements.

This sounded like a good project to keep myself engaged for a couple of days so I agreed to take up a session on how to prepare a resume and a cover letter, how to apply to companies, how to prepare for interviews and last but not the least importance of networking! It’ll be just like your elder brother telling you what to expect when you approach a potential employer. Reading articles like this and this while surfing internet is surely not just a waste of time! Hope these students get some food for thought out of this whole thing.

If you have knowledge then let others light their candles in it!

स्वप्न

Written on 10:37 AM by Tushar Thole

More about the theme of this blog in आमची मराठी !

"भग्न स्वप्नांच्या तुकड्यांना कवटाळुन बसण्यासाठी मनुष्य जन्माला आलेला नाही. मानवाचे मन केवळ भूतकाळाच्या साखळदंडांनी करकचून बांधून ठेवता येत नाही, त्याला भविष्याच्या गरुडपंखाचे वरदान लाभले आहे. एखादे स्वप्न पहाणं, ते फुलवणं, ते सत्यस्रूष्टीत उतरावं म्हणून धडपडणं, त्या धडपडीतला आनंद लुटणं आणि दुर्दैवाने ते भंग पावलं तरी त्याच्या तुकड्यांवरून रक्ताळलेल्या पायांनी दुसऱ्या स्वप्नांमागे धावणे हा मानवी मनाचा धर्म आहे...मानवी जीवनाला अर्थ येतो तो याचमुळे! "
-- वि. स. खांडेकर (अमृतवेल)



P.S. Used an awesome software called Baraha to write this blog. If you have trouble viewing this blog then read instructions to install Marathi font here.

With every great love comes a great story!

Written on 4:24 PM by Tushar Thole


Yet another year...Valentine's day is at the corner.
If you are one of those who're away from their valentines( just like me :( ) and wondering what to do then watch 'The notebook'. It's the most romantic movie I have seen so far...It's even better if you've seen it with your special someone before:)

Happy valentine's day!

Ain't no sunshine...

Written on 1:45 AM by Tushar Thole

Ain't no sunshine when she's gone.
It's not warm when she's away.
Ain't no sunshine when she's gone
And she's always gone too long anytime she goes away.

Hey, I ought to leave the young thing alone,
But ain't no sunshine when she's gone, only darkness everyday.
Ain't no sunshine when she's gone,
And this house just ain't no home anytime she goes away.

What's more apt than this Bill Withers' song to capture my current state of mind!
Now you know the reason in case you are wondering why Pune is getting colder these days:)

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