ATP 2004-15 – The 3 phases of domination …

Though we have 3 great players in the current generation (Andy Murray is very consistent and is always a contender at the major tournaments, but I do not think he is solidly in the Federer/Nadal/Djokovic conversation), there has been a distinct set of domination phases during the 2004-2015 time period, as highlighted below.

 

Federer Phase (2004-2007, 4 years)

Grand Slams == 11 (68.75%)

ATP 1000 Titles == 13

ATP World Tour Final Titles == 3

Ranking == No:1 for 3 full years (2005-07) and majority of 2004

 

Rafael Nadal Phase (2008-2010, 3 years)

Grand Slams == 6 (50%)

ATP 1000 Titles = 9

ATP World Tour Final Titles == 0

Ranking == No:1 for 1.5 years (Out of 3 years)

 

Novak Djokovic Phase (2011-2015, 5 years)

Grand Slams == 9 (45%)

ATP 1000 Titles = 21

ATP World Tour Final Titles == 4

Ranking == No:1 for 3.5 years (Out of 5 years)

 

Adios!

 

 

 

 

Myanmar – Day2

Was amazed at the smart phone penetation in Yangon. Rickshaw drivers, vegetable vendors Etc. were also using huge smart phones.

Noticed a lot of the ladies having a kind of face paint. It is actually some extract from tree bark, to protect from insects and also as a sunscreen.

During my walk to Yangon Railway Station, I saw a lot of Nuns. Good ol’ Vatican doing good job in Myanmar, a country with 90%+ Buddhists 😉

Here, men and women wear a kind of Kerala style lungi. Not kidding!

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Myanmar “lungyi” … Men and Women wear it.

During the 3hr loop train around Yangon and suburbs,.there was one stop for 30min, in a market area. I noticed this boy, who is mute, doing a lot of mischief. But all vendors doted on him, fed him snacks, played with him. It was nice to see … The boy was having a blast.

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The boy I am referring to is the one in red shorts …

Once I was done with the loop train, I took a cab to pick up my bag from the hotel and hurry to ….

Shwedagon Pagoda!

The main tourist attraction of Yangon. 2600 years old. Maintained by generations of Kings and even during British Colonial times. 112m tall spire, the top is encrusted with diamonds, rubies Etc. Very well maintained, crowded, well, golden, golden, golden …

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Shwedagon Pagoda … The pride of Yangon.

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Panoramic view of Shwedagon Pagoda … Yangon, Burma.

It started raining cats and dogs at around 3.30PM and I had to scratch the plans for Chauk Htat Gyi Pagoda. Would have to cover it after I return from Bagan.

After a one hour cab ride, during which I took a cat nap, I reached Aung Mangalar Bus Station. Name sounds fancy, and that is about it. Buses are fancy though …

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Aung Mangalar Bus Station … A sea of buses.

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One of the luxury buses at Aung Mangalar Bus Station …

Then I saw these guys playing the game, similar to volleyball, but only with legs. Man, the game looks tough. And the dudes were playing in quite heavy rains!

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Sepak takraw … (As Srivatsan points out) … It was interesting to watch.

Adios!

Tulips in Turkey …

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I have not been to Netherlands (as an adult), yet. Till then, Turkish Tulips is all I have …

Adios!

India – How good is the Education system?

India has 3393 Engineering Colleges, as per AICTE (http://www.aicte-india.org/). By most estimates, these colleges are churning out upwards of 750000 Engineers per year. When we administered a written test to a handful of fresh engineering graduates, even people with CGPA of 9+/10 scored 3/30! We checked again (and again) to confirm if the questions were “too tough”. No, it was not. Such a situation is really scary. Almost 95% of the resumes/profiles we get are unemployable.

Here are some articles touching upon the subject:

http://articles.economictimes.indiatimes.com/2013-06-18/news/40049243_1_engineers-iit-bombay-batch-size

http://www.wsj.com/articles/SB10001424052748703515504576142092863219826

http://timesofindia.indiatimes.com/home/education/news/AICTE-may-bar-new-engineering-management-colleges-from-2014/articleshow/12063375.cms

Some recent tough (funny?) experiences I had:

(A) Broadband/Modem password: After countless attempts, I was connected to a Tata DoCoMo “Internet Specialist”. The issue was that the password sync between the server/account and the modem at home was out of whack. So they gave me a generic (anyone-can-guess) password for the account. The conversation went like this:

Me: “Can I go ahead and change the password to a personal/private one?”

“Internet Specialist”: “Why?”

Me: “I would like to use a secure password”

“Internet Specialist”: “We would not recommend that …”

Me: “But your own password page asks me to change the password to a secure one, with one capital case, one special character and one number”

“Internet Specialist” (No Answer)

Me: “What does your other customers do?”

“Internet Specialist”: “No one changes this default password we have provided”

Me: “You mean to say millions of your customers use the exact same password!? That too despite what your own website asks people to do? (I.e. Change password to private one)”

(B) The “Concerned Department” Syndrome: One unlucky day, something happened in my brain and I decided to subscribe to Business Today magazine. I made the full payment in Dec 2014 and waited till March 2015, to see that I have not received a single issue! I called Business Today Customer Care 3 times, over a period of 3 weeks, which India Today Group also acknowledges, to cancel the subscription and to get 100% refund. I also sent countless emails to a ridiculously titled “wecarebg@intoday.com”. Because of all their proactive “caring”, I had to call them and remind them to respond to the emails, repeatedly. After weeks of “fun”, I am at a stage where I am not sure if I will get a refund … Hopefully, “The Big Man Upstairs” will help me here 😉

Customer Service Agent: “We will inform the “concerned department” and they will get back to you within 24 hours”

Me: “But it is already 5 days since …”

(C) HDFC Credit Card: I am a big fan of HDFC Bank and has been a loyal customer for the past several years. Whenever I log into my online HDFC Account, there is this popup which claims “You are preapproved for XYZ Credit Card”. After ignoring it for years, I decided to apply one fine day (Again, not sure what happened to my brain). After providing all the forms, after providing all the “extra forms” requested, after having someone come to my home to do an in-person verification, one fine day, I suddenly get “REJECTED” message. More than frustration, I was just plain surprised. As mentioned above, it was not that I needed a Credit Card. My momentary Brain-Freeze was the culprit. What transpired was that some HDFC Agent gave me a call on a working day at 10.23AM IST and since I did not pick up the call (probably due to this rare event called “Meetings”), decided to REJECT my application. No SMS, No email, No call on my land-line … Nothing.

Employability is going to be an even bigger problem in India, I feel. It is fine to have a large workforce. But quality and professionalism matters as well. All this Engineering/BPO wave will die down once Engineers start finding zero Engineering jobs and customers sternly bombard firms with complaints and they start losing accounts.

Will our Education institutions ensure folks are really equipped to join the workforce? Or all they churn out are this fancy-looking CPGAs who cannot distinguish an NMOS from a PMOS?

Time will tell …

Adios!

2015 Cricket World Cup – Now that India is out …

(A) If someone had told in Jan 2015 that India would make the 2015 Cricket World Cup Semi-Finals and lose to Australia, chasing 329, any Indian fan would have been happy. IMHO, rather than venting on India #givingitback, let us remember that this was a good World Cup performance by India, overall

(B) Going forward, India should encourage bowlers to develop their batting skills as well. In this day and age when every team bats deep, India’s tail starts from No:7. Examples of premier bowlers who are no bunnies with the bat: Mitchell Johnson, Miitchell Starc Etc.

(C) India’s fielding, barring a few dropped catches here and there (Kohli dropped a sitter at Sydney), is steadily improving. Ravindra Jadeja is electric in the field

(D) We arm-chair critics can ridicule the Indian players, who were chasing 320+ against a great bowling line-up, against a fantastic fielding side, in an away game, and in a World Cup Semi-Final. There is no shame in losing to the 4-time (!) World Champion in their backyard, chasing 300+

Cannot wait for the Finals … I am a huge fan of Brendon McCullum. So, I support New Zealand. But I think it is Australia’s Cup to lose …

Adios!

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.

Adios!

Why “Early Bird Work Hours” make sense in India …

From the moment we wake up, we get swamped with Information, Crises/Issues/Problems, Meeting Requests, Phone Calls Etc. It is increasingly important that every individual figure out how best to maximize the output that can be derived from the fixed amount of time we all have every day.

On a typical working day, I am at my desk around 4-5 hours before the majority of my colleagues start coming in. And I do leave office well before the majority of my colleagues leave for the day.

My reasons for my typical Work Timings are:

(A) My mind is fresh

After a good night’s sleep, my mind is raring to go and may a times I have noticed that some of my most vexing problems were solved during that early morning window. A particular problem over which I might have spent hours dwelling on (the previous day), is solved within the first hour of waking up. In the Technology world, each problem requires deep thought, involving a lot of variables and data and it is paramount that your mind can process all the necessary data and make sense out of it, quickly. A fresh and well-rested mind helps a lot with it.

(B) The scary Indian traffic? No worries …

For some reason, 90%+ of working adults in India still love the good ol’ 9AM-6PM work commute. Considering the super-long line of traffic, traffic jams, the harassed and angry commuters, the smoke and dust, the dangerous and pot-hole-filled roads Etc., I keep thinking why folks are putting themselves through such torture. My work timings allow me to beat the peak-time traffic and if the roads were in not so bad a condition, my overall commute time would have been even better.

(C) Quiet window of 3-4 hours:

No face-to-face meetings.

No chit-chat, laughter and guffaws among colleagues.

No ringing phones (except for mine :-)).

No opening and closing of doors. 

Well, you get the drift. It is mostly peace and quiet. The right environment to tackle tough Engineering problems. Every Individual has work which only he/she can do and must do. Guess which is the best time for such work? 🙂

(D) Overlap with Remote Locations and also with the Local Workforce

In this day and age, rare is a person whose work only depends on interactions with counterparts in the same timezone. A typical worker has to interact with various time zones (Pacific Standard Time, Eastern Standard Time, India Standard Time, Japan Standard Time Etc.) and having a good time overlap with counterparts help a lot.

You still have a good 4-5 hours of overlap with the local workforce. One can schedule all local meetings and one-on-ones during that window.

(E) Relaxed 2nd-Half with Family

Assuming it is a typical day, where you do not have crises which require immediate attention, you are back at home and ready to play with kids, have leisurely walks with family, dinner with Family Etc. All leading to a slow and steady winding down towards the end of the day.

 

Well, the above is not for everyone, obviously. If your body clock does not allow you to wake up before 11AM (for example), you cannot follow such a regime. But for folks who wake up early naturally, maybe you should try such a regime, if you do not already.

Adios!