Tuesday, January 25, 2005

Baba ....

An interesting pic which I got from Piggy.

Our computer is our head ....

"Our computer is our head and our Gandhi cap is the cover to protect it from the sun or rain". In an age where people cannot even imagine living without a computer, I was amused on reading this comment by Raghunath D. Medge on the Indian Express. I am sure your first reaction would be "Who is that ???" He is the president of the Nutan Mumbai Tiffin Box Supply Charity Trust. And why is that so famous ? Because they were awarded the Six Sigma award by Forbes magazine. Add to this that a group of students from Harvard Business School did a study about how they maintain such excellent quality assurance standards and that Prince Charles, on his visit to India, paid a special visit to them (They didn’t delay your operations during his visit though) . To think that a group of (mostly) illiterate set of people could achieve such a great distinction is mind boggling !

Mumbaikars have a unique way of having lunch at their office. Normally, you would expect them to carry their lunch when they leave for office/school/college, as in any other city. But no, they are so adamant about having their lunch freshly cooked that they get it delivered through a unique system (food courier, shall I say ?). I am not talking about a few hundreds, but approximately about 170,000 mumbaikars !!

To explain the system in a few words, about 5000 odd dabbawallahs collect dabbas (tiffin carriers) from suburban households all around Mumbai. They are taken to the nearest suburban railway station and sorted based on the destination. Another person takes over from here and delivers it to a bigger station and again sorted. After changing about 3-4 hands, the dabba is finally delivered to the desired destination. A complex coding system of colours, dashes, crosses and dots identify the street, building and even the floor of the destination ! The entire system depends heavily on excellent teamwork and timing, apart from the Mumbai suburban railway system (another Mumbai marvel, more on it later).

One might expect utter chaos and confusion, considering the numbers and the distance covered. Surprisingly, they have a complaint rate of just 1 in about 6 lakh ! That is a Six Sigma value of 6.15. The Six Sigma standard states that to achieve Six Sigma status, a process must not produce more than 3.4 defects per million opportunities (which would correspond to a Six Sigma value of 6). I guess their quality metrics must be the envy of many MNC's.

Some interesting information :

1. Most of the dabbawallahs are related to each other or belong to the same villages (adjoining Pune).
2. All of them are shareholders of the Nutan Mumbai Tiffin Box Supply Charity Trust !
3. They have their own unique Panchayat system to handle complaints/misconduct.
4. The monthly charges are about Rs. 200-300 per month.

That is some food for thought for each and everyone of us. Something which every Mumbaikar (or any Indian for that matter) should be proud of.

Tuesday, January 18, 2005

What a nailhead !!

This was the X-ray of a guy who had a 4 inch nail backfire into his head, but didnt realize it !!! When the nail gun backfired, it sent one nail to a piece of wood nearby, but what he didn't realize was that a second nail had also backfired. After six days, he went to the doctor complaining about what he thought was a minor toothache ! Imagine his surprise when the doctor comes and tells that a 4 inch nail is embedded in his skull !

I think he must consider himself the luckiest man in the world to survive such an accident. The brain is a really complex organ with a huge bundle of nerves and neurons. Any slight damage to them, and the results can be really unpredictable. Look at the way it has got embedded, missing the eye by a whisker and stopping just short of the cerebrum. The poor guy had it removed after paying close to a hundred thousand dollars for a surgery

I remember watching a very similar case on Discovery channel (or was that AXN ??) in which a nail, probably much smaller, had backfired from a nail gun. The most astonishing fact was that the guy didn't realize it for a full 20 or 30 years !! Yes, years it is. That is sometime, I should say !

Pongal Pics ...

As promised, here are the pics of my Pongal 'experience'. See Pongal 2005 for more info.

Thats me at the extreme left holding the kite strings. Subbu is at my immediate right.

(Photo credit : Aditya Deshpande for taking the picture. Hapi for sharing it with me)

A similar picture. Subbu explaining some funds of kite flying to me. Thats our kite at the top right corner. :)

(Photo credit : Aditya Deshpande for taking the picture. Hapi for sharing it with me)

What a blissful scene !

Thats me with the setting sun as a companion.

(Photo credit : Subbu for taking the picture. )

If you need high resolution images of any of the above, contact me .

Saturday, January 15, 2005

Til gul ghya ... goad goad bhola ....

Thats what the Marathi people say on Sankranti day. Which when translated means "Have these sesame sweets and speak sweet words". Of course, the Tamilians celebrate பொஙல் (Pongal) in a much grander version with "பொஙலோ பொஙல்" (Pongalo Pongal) echoing everywhere. It is a 4 day festival dedicated to the Sun God or Surya Bhagavan. The first day, called Bhogi, is for cleaning the whole house and throwing out and burning of all unwanted things, which signifies the coming of the new year. The second day, or the main Pongal day, is when the Sun God is worshipped for his life giving rays and for making the soil fertile. The third day is called Mattu Pongal, the festival of cattle, when farmers worship their cattle for giving them milk and helping them out in the fields. Its the day when the traditional ஜல்லிக்கட்டு (Jallikattu or bull fight) happens, where money bags are tied to the horns of ferocious bulls and the youth of the village fight with them and claim their prize. The last day is called Thiruvalluvar day in honour of the famous Tamil pulavar.

Even though Pongal is predominatly a farmer's festival, its celebrated in gaiety by everybody. Its one of the two major festive seasons of Tamil Nadu, Deepavali and Pongal. With 4 days off from work and other worries, people enjoy the break and go on a shopping spree. The shopkeepers too, sensing the huge market opportunity, offer large discounts.

So, you might ask, what special did I do on Pongal day ? Well, though I could not cook Pongal in our house, the least I could do was to wear our traditional dress of veshti to office. :) Me and Subbu (my roommate), wore a nice clean veshti after reaching office. There were lots of surprised looks here and there when we went for lunch, but the response was definitely positive. There was even a female employee, a proper Iyer, who couldn't stop smiling (that too for a full minute) on seeing us. I still don't know whether she was genuinely amused on seeing us wear veshtis, or whether we looked like jokers to her.

Our company has a tradition of having a kite fest on the Sankranti day in the terraces of all our buildings. Initially, we had thought of not wearing veshtis during the kite fest, as it might be 'dangerous', what with all the running around and strong winds. But, after the enthusiastic response, we decided to take the plunge. :) We went to the terrace with trepidation, fearing the worst. Again, surprised looks. Once we had taken the plunge, there was no looking back. We enthusiastically started flying kites, though I didnt know a thing about kite flying. Subbu was the one who lifted the kites high up the air. I just held the string for some time, flying the kite here and there, learning some funds from Subbu about controlling a kite. I must say, it is a tough job as the kite pulls at the string and the manja (the string) can easily cut your hands if you are not careful. It was a truly wonderful and fun filled experience though. Fun filled, due to the healthy challenges of who can cut whose kite. We lost our first kite pretty early in the evening. After that, we lost some time trying to float a new kite as there was hardly any breeze. Eventually, we did manage to fly one kite and at one stage, ours was the one flying far above all the rest. :) With the sun setting and only 2 kites left, we decided to 'do or die' by challenging our opposite floor colleagues. After some fight, sadly, we again lost :(

After about 2 hours of 'high flying', we returned to ground level really tired, exhausted and heads slightly aching. Needless to say, not much work happened that day. Will post the snaps as soon as I get hold of them.

Got up late today, watched 'Pardes' movie on cable and came to office. Its yet another weekend and time to enjoy !! :)

Listening to : Yeh Shaam mastani (Kati Patang)

Saturday, January 08, 2005

My old blogs ...

As I had told previously (in My first one ), I had made a very low profile attempt at blogging previously. I started to blog during last year April, after one of my friends coerced me to do it. Wrote some 10-15 posts, but after that got busy with work and many other things.

Here's the link to them :

Link 1
Link 2

Take a look at them too. Some of them talks about my BITS life and the Goa trip that we went for during our training. Those were the days ......

Listening to : Enter Sandman (Metallica)

Friday, January 07, 2005

Orkut ... at last !

The news is that I (atlast) got an Orkut invite ! :) I should admit that its been really looong to get this invite. Well, better late than never !

Added 36 ppl on day one !! 14 ppl have responded. Thats pretty good, I should say, considering that I am not considered so popular among my circle.

Another weekend has come. Had to stay late at office because of a stupid call. (Grrr !) A stupid call to discuss some really stupid bug about Daylight savings time mismatch. I spent a week on rolling out a build only to realize later on that what we were doing was indeed the right thing. The problem in fact lies somewhere in the product that integrates with us. Had to spend more than an hour explaning to him that we dont have to give a fix to them !! Well, in a way, I am also partly responsible for what happened. I should have actually verified their statement before rolling out a build.

Anyway, the weekend has partly pacified my mood :) Gotta watch a good movie this weekend. BTW, saw Swades last weekend. A truly 'neat' movie regardless of what the damn film critics say. As we all know, there is no use listening to a film critic's views. Its your own views and what you like that matter. Comparing Swades and Lagaan makes no sense whatsover !

Listening to: Wanted Dead or alive (Bon Jovi)

Sunday, January 02, 2005

New template !

At last, after about 2-3 hours of HTML CSS editing (I don't know HTML coding, you see), I managed to bring up my new template. Had to put a big fight for formatting the text, margins, padding etc etc. My first introduction to CSS. Pretty versatile, I should say !

Hope you like the white background (one of my favourite colours) with the ivy branch. Do send me your comments about the template.

High 05 !

04 down. Time to start a cheerful 05 !! 2004 ended in a sour note with Tsunami 9.0 (more than 1,30,000 copies sold till now) causing core dumps after being installed in SE-Asia 1.0 . This has also given a backdoor entry for the deadly Diseases 4.3 . A hotfix patch of Rescue&Relief 2.50 is being released all over the world.

Lets hope 2005 brings a fresh 'wave' of prosperity and hope to all the people ! As the Vedas say, "Dhanyam, dhanam, pashum, bahuputra labham, sata samvatsaram deerghamayuhu".

Happy New Year ! (புத்தாண்டு நல்வாழ்த்துக்கல்)