Last-minute syndrome …

The other day, I was waiting for VFS Global in Chennai to open up at 8AM IST so that I could apply for my Vietnam VISA. The security guards (there were several of them) were busy keeping the various VISA applicants at bay, till the official opening time. Most of the folks were there for UK and Schengen VISAs. I noticed a lot of staff members riding into the building parking at 7:59:59AM IST. Now, Chennai, like any other Metro, has traffic issues and quite often there are traffic jams. The way these employees were hurrying in and literally running to the office, indicates that VFS Global has some kind of strict work hours and clock-in/clock-out culture.

My questions: Why are folks cutting it so close? Why are they timing it to the last second? Aren’t there enough variables to make it a huge challenge to “arrive on time”? Won’t the first item which does not go 100% as per plan derail their entire schedule? Isn’t it a lot of stress piled up over a long time?

When I hear talks of India opening up Semiconductor Foundries, I really wonder … In general, respect for time (especially, others’ time) is NOT a huge strength in this part of the World.

  • Ever waited for a celebrity to show up for an event?
  • Ever had flight delays due to passengers turning up at the last minute?
  • Ever wait around for attendees to turn up for a meeting?
  • Ever have to remind people of time commitments they themselves have made?
  • Ever show up on time for a party and notice you are the rare person to show up on time, as per the time indicated in the invitation?
  • Ever seen students do last-minute scramble outside the exam halls as if furiously turning pages in front of the hall will ensure A+ grades?
  • Etc.

Well, you get the drift …

I sincerely believe that one of the biggest things that is holding back India is adherence to time commitments.


You are a true sports fan if …

(A) Once you start admiring a person or team for the way they play a particular sport, you go all in … I.e. Support them, as a fan, through thick and thin …

My Idols through the years:

Tennis: Boris Becker …. Patrick Rafter … Roger Federer … “Big 4” (Roger/Rafa/Novak/Andy)

NBA: Michael Jordan, LA Lakers, Kobe Bryant …

Cricket: Mohammed Azharuddin … Yuvraj Singh … Virat Kohli …

NFL: Peyton Manning … Aaron Rodgers …

As you can imagine, I have gone through many a heart-break as a fan 🙂

(B) You wake up at 1.30AM to watch the Pre-Show!

Example: I woke up at 1..30AM IST to watch Pre-Show of NZ-SL game in the 2015 Cricket World Cup

(C) A hard-earned win by your idol sends you over the moon and changes your crappy day into a remarkable one …


(1) LA Lakers beating Sacramento Kings to draw level at 2-2 in the 2002 Western Conference Finals on a Robert Horry 3-pointer

(2) India beating Pakistan in 1996 Cricket World Cup, at Bengaluru …

(3) Novak Djokovic beating Rafael Nadal in a dramatic 5-setter in 2012 Australian Open Final

(D) You can list out every major victory, scores and other titbits …

Example: You want to test me? 😉

Enjoy the 2015 Cricket World Cup folks … May the best team win! Go Dhoni! Go Kohli! Go India! Go Smith! Go Sanga! Go McCullum! Go De Villiers!


LinkedIn – Danger of becoming yet another Spam Platform?

I have been using LinkedIn since 2005 and am a huge fan of the platform. It is a great way to keep in touch with all the folks in your professional world. And obviously, as we all can see, majority of the professional world thinks so as well. I do see some signs of trouble though.

(A) Ego war about “Connections”

I notice that a lot of folks have changed their profile names to “John Smith (3000+ connections)” Etc. As far as I am aware, LinkedIn focuses on the quality of the connections (E.g. Do you really know that person?) as opposed to a numbers game, and does not allow connections count to show up above 500. It just says “500+” if that is the case.

I even noticed one guy with profile name suggesting “10000+ connections”!!! Either he is some super-human with super-human memory and super-human networking skills or he is just one good ol’ LinkedIn Spammer who spams folks galore with Connection Requests and “hope for the best”. If someone asks him to recollect and talk about these 10000+ connections (which is what he claims), the facts will come out 🙂

I have a simple rule with these Spammers. I send their requests to the ideal place where they belong, which is either be tagged as Spam or be deleted and be 100% ignored.

With all kinds of shady elements lurking online, one cannot be too careful.

(B) Lowest-quality Recruiters and Consultants

These are folks who have barely passed out of college and pose as “Specialists”, “VP”, “Account Manager” Etc. Pretty much the only skill they have as a Recruiter is to search online for keywords. For E.g. If a Company approaches them seeking candidates who fit the key words “ASIC”, “Design” and “Networking”, they have enough skills to type those keywords in some Search Engine and search for hits. The fact that they barely understand what these words mean or anything beyond those words, is lost on them.

In my case, requests from such “Experts” are also doomed to be reported as Spam or be deleted as soon as they comes in.

I notice that these problems are much more prevalent in India than in the Western World.

I hope LinkedIn really goes after these two issues and continue to make the platform a worthwhile and enjoyable experience for all the skilled and legitimate professionals out there.


What can we learn from Sports?

A lot of folks look at a Sports fan with sympathy, similar to the way one would look at some addict well on the way to oblivion. Is that really fair? Though I would never advocate someone plonking themselves in front of TV for a multi-hour marathon TV-watching experience, following Sports as a fan does bring some benefits to our lives.

(A) “Going all out during a game”

“And accepting the results gracefully, once the game is done”. Rafael Nadal is a prime example. I have never seen him sulk or belittle his opponent after a loss. Some of the losses, like his 2014 Australian Open loss, are never easy and yet, he is gracious as ever when giving credit where credit is due. We can always come across people in our daily lives, who never ever admits their failure and instead blame everyone other than themselves. (Have you ever seen a Driver on Indian Roads admit that he/she is NOT a good driver? :-)). I.e. Textbook “Sore Losers”. I love watching Sportsmen/Sportswomen win and bask in the glory. I am equally a fan of studying how Sportsmen/Sportswomen handle adversity. It is easy to be graceful and magnanimous when one has won. Try doing it when the outcome is not what you wished for or hoped for.

This is one area where I feel Virat Kohli can improve. I am a huge fan of Virat Kohli for his skills and his fighting spirit. His records speak for themselves. A highly energetic cricketer, if ever there was one. But he rarely accepts his getting out gracefully. Mostly it involves discussions and arguments with umpires, some choice words (mostly to himself) Etc. In a recent occasion, he was clearly out caught and yet he sulked all the way back to the pavilion. Basically, he seems to be having the mentality that if he gets out, it has to be an error by someone else, for he is not supposed to get out, ever! 🙂

(B) Tactics

One of the great pleasures a Sports fan has is in doing “Monday Morning Quarterbacking” or critiquing after the end result is well known. I have also developed some advanced skills in this arena.

“If only Federer had played more aggressively …”

“If only Djokovic had hit a down-the-line shot instead of going cross-court …”

“If only McCullum had enforced follow-on …”


As one can note, making decisions when the end result is far away from being known, is an altogether different ballgame.

Which is why, it is highly enjoyable to test your wits while a sports event is unfolding. For E.g. Rather than passively watching Tennis on TV, try “playing” along with your favorite player. Each time the ball comes over, try deciding in your mind what shot you would make.

The tactical decisions Players and Team Captains make offer a lot of lessons for the Corporate World as well.

(C) Inspiration for Fitness

Whenever one watches supremely fit athletes indulge in their sport, one cannot help but be inspired to get off the couch and indulge in some activity. For E.g. After watching a Tennis match involving Novak Djokovic, rarely have I reached out for a Donut right after the match :-). Similarly, how can one NOT be inspired by Rafael Nadal’s “guns”?

(D) Practice and Preparation

A few years back, Roger Federer was asked by Jim Courier (TV Analyst) on his “Off-Season Preparations”. Federer jokingly replied that he is supremely talented and all he does is lie on the couch and let his talent do the hard work. In reality, even a supremely gifted player like Federer spends countless hours on the practice courts and in the gym.

Peyton Manning is another example of what Practice allows a person to do during the game.

As Malcolm Gladwell fantastically articulates in his hugely successful book “Outliers”, it takes countless hours of practice for a person to be an Expert in anything. Rarely does Talent do the work on its own.

(E) Handling Setbacks

Saurav Ganguly made his Cricket debut (ODIs) at a very young age. But due to attitude problems and other similar issues, he soon lost his place in the Indian Cricket Team and had to spent several years in the wilderness. But when he got his next chance, boy, was he ready. A Century on Test Debut, followed by a stellar career as a Batsman and as a Captain was what happened thereafter.

Another example is Stanislas Wawrinka, who after 12 straight losses (never once winning a set!), turned things around and beat Nadal in 2014 Australian Open Finals.

After the huge setback Peyton Manning had in SuperBowl XLVIII, let us see how he handles it in 2014-15 Season.


WOF (War On Fat) Tip: Lifestyle …

Just an hour back, while I was on my way to the Gym, a neighbour who was also headed to the Gym asked me, “Why are you going to the Gym? You look pretty fine to me … My case is different as I need to lose a lot of weight”.

Do you see the problem in his thought process?

For some reason, folks think that healthy diet choices and healthy lifestyle choices (like regular exercise) are required only when a crisis situation arises.

– You scored triple-hundred in the latest Cholesterol numbers from the Lab Tests?

– Family and Friends making snide remarks about your girth?

– You flunked the Fitness Test for Military enrollment?


You get the picture.

My answer to my neighbour would have been, “My friend, thanks for the generous remark. But if it is true, it is all the more reason for me to work out regularly. Fitness is not a “on a whim” activity. It has to be a lifestyle activity requiring dedication. Maintenance of a fitness level is much tougher than attaining a fitness level”. Actually, in this case, I did not say anything. I just smiled and shrugged.

There is no “Destination” as far as fitness goes, in my opinion. You try and achieve a level and then comes the tougher job of maintaining that level. All this is assuming that the goal you are trying to attain is important to you. A lot of folks get momentary inspiration to “get fit” and that inspiration lasts for a few weeks and then the lifestyle is back to good old ways.

The primary question we should ask ourselves: Is being fit important to me? (Why should I be fit? Am I willing to make sacrifices? Am I willing to show dedication?)

If the answer to the above question is “NO”, that is a very understandable answer. Who am I to judge others’ decisions about their own fitness levels? But if we answer “YES” to the above question, then we should zone in and be disciplined.

Yesterday, while I was out for a drink and dinner with my friend, I had to have some Paneer Curry which was obscenely dripping in oil. Here is an example of my not attaining a perfect mental control yet. Need to keep plugging away …

One thought comes to mind: Is “Oil” the cheapest ingredient in the World? Why are people using it so much? It is quite frustrating to see every dish just dripping in (cheap?) saturated fat. Looks like the entire Food Industry wants us to stay unhealthy and overweight. Chips? Fried Snacks? Soda? Oily Curries? Buttery Pizzas? Chemical-filled Juices? Man, is the battle-line drawn or what!


The trouble with Debate …

Most of our daily lives involve debates. Maybe not to the extent as in this Piers Morgan piece 🙂

Who wins in a Debate?

One aspect I notice is that very few people enter a debate at the 51-75% mark, where they lean towards a point of view, but is willing to move to the other side based on the arguments presented by the other party. I.e. A Semi-Open Mind. Mostly, we deal with folks who are very determined about their point of view. Irrespective of the views and points raised by the other party, most of such debates will end with “Let us agree to disagree” or some such neutral statement.

Dont get me wrong, I am also guilty of such behaviour.

Take Global Warming, for example. Is there Global Warming or not?

What is the Truth? Is there such a notion, Truth?

Each side can line up a set of Researchers and Geologists who can lay down a series of “proofs” as to why their point of view is the “Truth”.

Point to ponder, isnt it?


Protected: WOF (War On Fat) Diaries … (Month3)

This content is password protected. To view it please enter your password below: