You always have an option, you just don’t know it yet.

This one is for all those people who are trying to figure out what they should do with their lives (and there is a fresh batch of these people every year) – No one tells you that you can grow up to be a famous porn star.

I see this great hullabaloo about the deadly cut-offs at the Delhi University this year. What course are you trying to get into? Commerce? Science? English? Pol Science? Why are you doing it? Because it’s the done thing to do? Because your parents think it will lead you to a secure future? Because your friends are doing it?

I bet most of you kids had some form of a career counselling in school. I had a sham version of it too when I was in the 12th. I call it sham because I remember thinking back about it recently when I discovered that there is this famous porn star – Jenna Jameson – who is apparently the Shah Rukh Khan of the porn industry. Heck she even has a wikipedia page to her name. How many of us will have the privilege of boasting about that during our lifetime eh? And I was thinking, no one ever counselled you that you could be a porn star when you grow up. Doesn’t that make you feel cheated? What else have they been hiding from you? They don’t even tell you that you can be Shah Rukh Khan. Hell they don’t even offer the encouragement that you can be absolutely brilliant at whatever you choose to do, provided you chose it and have fun doing it.

I remember this interesting anecdote from my career counselling session when one of the people in the counselling panel was rambling about the great future in one of the professions like being a doctor or an engineer (I don’t remember exactly which right now). This kid in the audience, one of us, stood up and said “Sir, you can choose to be whatever you want in life and be good at it. There are paan walas who sell a paan for rs 5 at the roadside kiosk and then there is this guy in a big shop in CP called Panchayat who manages to sell the same paan for rs 150. Both of them manage to sell paan all day long”. Now this guy understood life!

What I’m trying to tell you is that these famous and acceptable careers come and go as a fad each year. First it was law, then came this wave of everyone wanting to be a doctor, then engineering, then MBA. Actually now it’s MBA + engineering. I think the next wave may be journalism. There is enough masala to report on a daily basis. Or maybe becoming a baba and going on a fast religiously for any cause just or not will catch on as an acceptable profession too. Think about it. There’s good money in that and no one ever told you you could become one!

I was one of you too once. My parents wanted me to become a doctor. I guess my heart must not have been in it. Because now I am a person who studied Botany during graduation and through some miraculous twist of fate ended up learning how to design in an IT company. And trust me, it’s a lot more fun than Botany. At least for me. (although I have to say studying Genetics was a lot of fun too).

Over the number of years I have seen my friends take up a number of interesting professions. Someone went on to become a journalist. Someone chose to work in human resources. I know a guy who gets to play video games as a profession and he is good at it. My cousin gave up her job as a designer at a magazine to become a fashion designer. That radio jockey you love listening to every morning, guess what he chose to do with his life :-). Hey guess what JK Rowling decided to do with her life! My point is, keep your options open because there are a lot of fun things out there to do. You just have to figure out what is fun for you. The greatest learning in life will come from Experience so take in as much of it as possible. Stay away from home if possible. I never got to do that, but I have a feeling nothing teaches you better about life or gives you confidence like being responsible for yourself does. If you get through to DU, you have 3 years of college life. Bunking is a lot of fun. Do it! Cheat at least once during your exams! Trust me you will never forget for life what you cheated and it’s a great story to tell later. *Just be smart enough not to get caught*. Take part in extra-curriculars. Learn a new language! Learn how to program. Basically just soak in as much as you can while you have the time to. If nothing else, at least later on in life you won’t regret having missed out on the opportunity while you had the chance.

As for you parents – your kid not becoming a doctor or an engineer or not getting through to SRCC is not the end of the world. And yes it is perfectly acceptable for guys to take up humanities / arts in their 10+2! Trust me that is some regressive thinking if you don’t think it is and please, for their sake, snap out of it!

Of Botany, Project plans & Traffic jams

The thought had first struck me while we were in a meeting discussing a project deadline. Things were all going to be smooth from our side but there was the dependency of some inputs from the client. If the client does not respond in time, work could pile up at our end and create an unnecessary bottleneck. Sure one does buffer for it but the thought still struck me nonetheless. This was a couple of years ago and stayed at the back of my mind somewhere all this while.

And then it struck me again while I was driving to work yesterday. So by some chance of fate I find myself at a curve on the road  (which by itself is quite a  tricky maneuver most days) and I find myself behind this giant of a bus in my tiny Hyundai hatchback. And from the other side of the road at the same bend are a couple of more buses joining the chaos. This is regular weekday office-hour traffic for you on Delhi roads but the thought did strike me nonetheless. Because of the intersection of the path of these slow moving giants at that juncture, the pace of the traffic slowed down considerably for all those behind who had been moving at a decently fast speed so far. And till these buses made way for us to move, we would have to keep driving at their speed. And yet again I was taken back some 7-8 years to my botany class where we had been studying Blackman’s Law of the Limiting Factor.

Blackmans law of limiting factors states that if a chemical process is affected by more than one factor, then its rate will be determined by the factor which is nearest to its minimal value. Amongst the factors affecting the physiological process, the slowest factor affects the rate of the process. When photosynthesis is under the influence of several factors simultaneously an increase in that factor and the limiting  factor will bring about an increase in the rate of photosynthesis. (Source:

Or …

Blackman (1905) proposed the law of limiting factors according to which when process is conditioned to its rapidity by a number of factors, the rate of process In limited by the pace of the slowest factor. (Source:

So basically nature faces the same kind of problems that we face in our day to day lives. One thing interesting to note is that Blackman’s law essentially talks about external factors – which for plants are things like Light, Carbon-di-oxide, Water, Temperature etc – and is not so much factors that are internal to the system. If I try to map the analogy, in the case of a project, the external factors could be things like client feedback, supply of material etc and not necessarily an internal issue (assuming of course your planning is flawless 😉 ). In the case of traffic, the external factor could be this really slow vehicle that is slowing down all of traffic behind it (I bet some of you are thinking about those auto-rickshaws that insist on driving in the middle of the flyover), a traffic cop guiding traffic on the road, a cow which decides to cross the road … (I am refering to Indian scenarios here of course.)

Of course I am generalising here. While the Blackman’s law refers specifically to the quantity of the limiting material, I am simply refering to the slowest factor which can hold up / slow down the entire process.

And this might just be a sweeping analogy from my end. It’s been quite a number of years since I studied this particular topic back in college, but from the little I can vaguely recall, I am pretty sure that plants have figured out a way to cope with this mechanism. There is much brilliance in the way nature adjusts to or builds mechanisms to cope with adversities. And if we can learn from the process, we would perhaps be able to figure out interesting and innovative ways to overcome the issues that we face (project planning, traffic issues or any other such example where this can fit).

This also reminds me of what I had tweeted a couple of days back

… but we can surely get inspired.

Biomimicry is a known discipline and what I’m suggesting here is nothing new. Just sharing a thought that I had.

The one thing that we can derive from here for sure is that perhaps we can do with more Life-Scientists in B-Schools 😉

And that’s what I learnt from Cricket

If you are a regular Tweeter and one hailing from India and you are crazy enough to follow Indians on Twitter who are mad-frickin-nuts about the game of Cricket, you have like me most probably not been able to escape the mad frenzy of Cricket that’s been gripping the country for the last month or so. (Yes that would’ve be a perfect time to invade us because we couldn’t care less. We have already won the World Cup and that’s all we needed this year from Santa.) This post pretty much sums up all that I have learned from/about the game of cricket – a sport that I love to hate. Here goes and it is in no particular order-

1. Never confess in public that you hate cricket unless you want to get beaten up or looked down at like you be a miserable cockroach of sorts. At least not in India. *Whoops!*

2. As far as India goes, Cricket is a religion. No not one of the many religious religions that divide this county but one that unites everybody. Now that is one thing one has to grudgingly like about the sport.

3. Yuvraj and Dhoni are two different people and there is no such person as Yuvraj Singh Dhoni. *Who knew?!*

4. Your friends can and will refuse to defend you in a stadium full of people when you root for Delhi while Sachin is playing for Mumbai.

4A) Delhiites will root for Mumbai against Delhi just because Sachin plays for Mumbai. *Go Figure*

5. Who is Sachin you ask? Exactly! *teehehe ok ok, kidding*. Remember point 2? Apparently, if Cricket is a religion, Sachin is God (Sachin IMHO cannot be God, since God is a woman, but continuing … ). He is the guy the whole country worships blindly. I cannot write anything further without feeling insecure about my own safety, so I will move on from this point.

6. Nothing, Nothing and absolutely Nothing unites this country like the game of Cricket. The World Cup victory had even cynics like me cheering and I bet they heard us cheering all the way till Alaska.

7. World Cup is the best time to go shopping. No seriously, all the shops are empty, there is no mad line in front of the trial rooms at Zara because everyone is simply home, glued to their TV sets. (Pro tip: you can even try your hand at bargaining by telling the shopkeeper that India will win the world cup if he gives you a discount.)

8. Guys will slyly discuss Cricket in management meetings by attempting to derive effective management tactics from the sport. Apparently the same thing applies to Football. Basically whichever sport in more popular at that point in time.

9. Cricket World Cup semi finals = no traffic on the roads. Cricket World Cup finals = A day off from work. I could truly fall for this game. Have World Cups more often I say. Let’s just not make it a long drawn affair and jump straight to the semis and finals.

10. Little itty bitty, teeny weeny kids know the names of every cricketer and every possible cricket stat. There is real potential in this game to be exploited in the field of education. Have more cities and countries participating for kids to learn geography (who cares where it’s on the map as long as we know how many matches it won), have complex trigonometric calculations to deduce the score, name cricketers after historical figures etc, are some ideas off the top of my head.

11. You can buy Cricketers just like you buy vegetables but Cricketers are still more expensive than Onions or Petrol. Infact, you may never be able to afford one in your lifetime, not that you might want one.

12. The same people who play in the same team during the world cup, will play against each other in different teams during the IPL (It’s a league of some sorts that has something to do with movie stars. Don’t ask me, I don’t know. I just know that cool songs get produced as a result of this activity).

13. Unlike Football, no one pulls off their shirt to celebrate victory at the end of a game. Not even Poonam Pandey.

And that pretty much sums up what I’ve learned from Cricket. I still don’t quite like it, but I’m learning to put up with it. (Pro tip: log off Twitter and change the channel.)

And before I go, I’d like to leave you with the song ‘Loser’ by Ayreon. Not that it has anything to do with this post other than that I was listening to it while writing this, but I really like this song and it saves me the trouble of writing another post to tell you this.

After publishing this post, I have come to know from the great people on Twitter that a cricketer named Ganguly did infact take off his shirt after a match. And still no one bought him for IPL? Ok I may know a thing or two abt Cricket now but I will never understand it.

Love being a #BigLoser

Admittedly I am writing this post while feasting on a gorgeous slice of double cheese burst spicy chicken pizza (but hey, what’s  girl to do when she’s trapped in office on a Friday evening waiting for her colleagues to get that piece of CSS code to work just right *curses IE*). Coming back to the point…

It all started somewhere mid-Feb when I was pinged on chat by a friend – “Would you like to be a #BigLoser?”. Clearly any normal person would be taken aback by such a question and their first reaction would be to see red. But clearly the word ‘Normal’ makes me feel like an oxymoron (Look ma, I made a funny!) and the presence of a ‘#’ in front of any string of words always manages to hold my attention. (Refer to an earlier confession about being a Twitteraholic

So obviously, my next question was “Err.. what do you mean?”

Friend: Well, @b50 has started this initiative on Twitter where people can sponsor other people who commit to lose a target amount of weight in a year (that would be by Feb 2012. So clearly the entire plan stands only if the world survives). The sponsors will commit a certain amount of money per kg lost to charity.

Now those who follow me on Twitter would know why this would catch my fancy as they have been relentlessly subjected to my constant rants on how I never lose any weight (this would be a good time to ignore the first few lines of this post). So this was clearly an opportunity I grabbed with both hands, after making my friend up the stakes for me to 100 Rs per KG. (In hindsight, that was a smart move. There is hope that the charity might get some moolah at least.)

Joining #BigLoser was perhaps one of the smartest moves I made in a long time. Had been struggling a long time to get into a consistent gyming routine and now the very many followers of this initiative, sharing their efforts and tips keeps me committed enough to make the effort of waking up early each morning. While the easiest thing to do each morning after the alarm rang at least 7 times was to switch it off and go back to sleep, now there is a motivation to go to the gym at least one more time this week than the last, so I can come back and eagerly report it to others on Twitter.

I had also wanted to join Gold Gym for a very long time, but had always put off making the investment as I was never sure I would go there regularly. Well now I am and thoroughly enjoying the experience.

It has also made me connect with and get tips from numerous others who I had perhaps not been interacting with earlier. These people might not know it, but they are a great source of inspiration on a daily basis.

So I write this post to offer my thanks to @nithinkd, for introducing me to the initiative and sponsoring me and most of all to @b50 for coming up with this fantastic idea. @SashG and the many others who offer tips and encouragement on a daily basis.

So with 2 slices of double cheese burst pizza and 2 slices of garlic bread down and with one glassful of renewed zeal to burn off them damn calories at the gym tomorrow morning, I can very proudly claim that I love being a #BigLoser.

(As for you God, you have just ensured very unfair and unequal distribution of fat and wealth in this world. I am willing to trade off this fat and accept that blank check please :|)

A simple mind

Call this post a cumulative list of grouches/wondering/rants. But there are a few things in life that I will just not understand and thus I list them here. They are in no particular order of preference and I am pretty sure I will keep growing this list. So here goes …

1. I will never get the kind of people who have LCD screens to watch movies in the cars. Now it’s a well known fact that I am an avid tweeter and I use my phone to text (at times) while driving and despite being a skilled practitioner, I know this is not a simple task. Infact, sometimes I find just changing the radio channels distracting. So I will not understand the kind of people who will want to see a movie in their car while driving because it can be terribly distracting! You are putting my life at risk and not even doing justice to that movie!

2. People who stop their car at the red light AFTER having crossed the stop line. It is there for a purpose people! Not just street art. Thankfully for us, we stay in a place like Delhi, where there aren’t very many people who use the zebra crossing because they have already jay-walked across the middle of the road while the light was green for cars. After all, there is a reason the Delhi cricket team is called Delhi Daredevils. It seems to be an apt title for all citizens of Delhi

3. Jaywalkers. #NuffSaid

4. Girls who in this biting cold wear close-to-nothing kind of sheer stockings to show off their ultra thin legs. It cannot be all about fashion in this  weather girl! Cover up for God’s Sake!

5. Taxes! … moving on …

6. No let’s come back to Taxes. Why do I have to pay them and why is it so much? And why is so much of my money being wasted in painting zebra crossings that no one is using anyway?!! *sulks*

7. Girls with ultra thin legs. I mean seriously! Where are you getting them from? … no wait… let’s change this to ultra thin girls. Do they not eat?!

8. Men who crib about lady drivers. Listen here dude! All the bus drivers, autorickshaw drivers, cycle rickshaw and cycle riders and most bike riders are men. And I am sure there is statistics somewhere to prove that in any given city, they are far more responsible for accidents than the women drivers. So STFU already will ya?!

9. Why is all the stuff that you love to eat always super fattening and the non-fattening stuff boring? With all the advances in science and technology, why hasn’t anyone figured out a way of making french-fries and chocolate that can be eaten guilt-free? Non-fattening beer? No? Listen, the earth is going to end anyway, we’re all going to die. So why not focus your funds and energies on things that can actually make a difference?!

10. Men who incessantly keep staring at you! You guys make me look down sometimes to check whether I’m wearing all my clothes. I am really not some piece of art on a wall you know. Give us some space!

11. Men who look past you. What are you gay?! 😉 *ok this is a fake point. Just had to put it in for the funnies*

12. PMS! No actually, guys who PMS. And seriously, ALL guys PMS. I will never get that. I’m sure there is science behind it but I am pretty sure most men don’t actually follow that. They just up and about decide – I am going to be grouchy today! And God bless the women around them then because not even chocolate will appease the beast 😛

13. MNS. Nope, I sure don’t understand it. Not yet. *It’s a private joke. Don’t ask.*

Well that’s about all I have right now. But like I said… I’m pretty sure I will keep adding stuff here. There’s a lot in life to amaze you. I’m sure you guys will keep giving me substance to abuse on my blog :P. And I am not inviting any arguments here after point number 8.

Here’s to a wonderful new year 2011

Somewhere out there, there’s a new mistake waiting to be made.
Somewhere out there, there’s a new wish waiting to be hoped.
Somewhere out there, there’s a new effort waiting to be made.
Somewhere out there, there’s a banana peel waiting to be slipped on 🙂
Somewhere out there, there’s a new joke waiting to send you into fits of laughter.
And a new moment waiting to take your breath away.

So here’s hoping for a kick-ass new year. One in which we go the extra mile. In which we take more chances without the fear of falling down holding us back. Here’s hoping we make new friends, better mistakes, wonderful experiences, heartwarming moments. Here’s hoping you make someone smile and here’s hoping 2011 fills your heart with a lot of smiles 🙂


She crossed the road to chase the light so bright,
she was off chasing the sunshine.
Cannot tell one from the next;
Plunge ahead believing it’ll work out for the best.
There is no wrong here and no right
she was off chasing the sunshine.
she felt bad, she put up a fight,
ploughed, plundered, tired but still holding on tight.
she went off chasing the sunshine.

Let the games begin!

The moment we have all been waiting for since the first posters and signboards were put up announcing it 2 years ago is here finally. The opening ceremony for the Common Wealth Games – India, is today – 03 October 2010. It has been quite a ride and maybe a little more so for those who stay in Delhi. Sure many a things have been brought to surface, many a things that went wrong and were brought to light. For us in Delhi, or let’s say me personally, I have seen it change the face of Delhi in the course of these last 2 years. And on the threshold of the games, my heart does warm up with pride when I drive around the city which can truly be called world class now.

Common Wealth Games - Delhi 2010

Common Wealth Games - Delhi 2010 (image from

And before we know it, it’ll all be over. And we will move on to look forward to another event soon. To complain about the inconveniences caused, to root for its eventual success. And so will life go on. Many a events will happen and many will pass.  The mindset that comes with it – maybe it’s inherent. Maybe it will change. Maybe it is changing because people are demanding for it to.  Maybe things will actually improve (I believe they have already). Who knows. We have to wait and watch. For now, Let the games begin! 🙂

(I stumbled across this wonderful post while searching for an image for this post. All about Common Wealth Games, Delhi 2010 – Do find the time to read it.)

Nice people make nice designs

Like the name of the post suggests. It’s just a belief that I have had since I was introduced to terms like HCI, Usability, User Focus, User Experience Design etc etc etc. When I read and learnt more about these thing to start applying them to my work, I felt I was becoming sensitive to the idea in various aspects of my life.  The way you drive on the road, the way you treat strangers around you, the way you are sensitive to the needs of other people.

I remember standing on the Delhi Metro platform a number of times, getting pushed and jostled around, having people thrust their smelly armpits towards me, people looking away when they see an elderly/pregnant person standing so they wouldn’t have to give away their seats .. and I remember thinking, now this guy could never make a user friendly design. They are just not friendly to the people around them.

Or when you’re driving on the road. God knows all those blessed with vehicles have also been blessed with rear view mirrors in the same. And we can safely assume (hopefully) that they are trained to follow traffic rules. But when people drive with their lights on high beams, drive at full speed in residential areas, swerve without looking in the rear view and think they own the road. These guys probably can never make a user friendly design.

I own a Hyundai i20 and though a few acquaintances have had a bad experience with theirs, I find the car a delight to use. The entire experience is focused towards the comfort and convenience of the driver and I simply love driving it. Now the people who designed this car – Nice people! 🙂

This is perhaps just an inherent belief. Maybe one that I have cultivated over a few years now, all through observation – of myself and others. Maybe I am just shooting a baseless arrow in the dark here. But I truly believe usability touches (or should touch)  all aspects in our lives. Especially for those who design for usability. Life around us is a wonderful training ground. Which is why I say nice designs are made by people who are nice … or get trained to be nice 🙂

[Disclaimer: The author of this post by no means wants to imply that she is a nice person or that she makes nice designs. But she assures you that she knows nice people who make fantastic designs :-)]