The Mini City – Kumbh Mela

First the quote:

On the sandbanks of the river Ganges at Allahabad, bureaucrats and workers from Uttar Pradesh, India’s most populous state and one of its poorest, took less than three months to build a tent city for 2m residents complete with hard roads, toilets, running water, electricity, food shops, garbage collection and well-manned police stations…..

…..Devesh Chaturvedi, a senior official who is divisional commissioner of Allahabad, is proud of the “huge task” that he and perhaps 100,000 workers have completed in organising this year’s festival. He mentions 165km of roads on the sand made of steel plates, 18 pontoon bridges, 560km of water supply lines, 670km of electricity lines, 22,500 street lights and 200,000 electricity connections, as well as 275 food shops for essential supplies such as flour, rice, milk and cooking gas.

Wow. I read this through here and here. Both articles attribute it to faith. The fact that the entire administration could accomplish this in 3 months is because of the faith that, this is ‘real’ service to the pilgrims attending the event. This is considered paramount in the Hindu doctrine. Doing service to ‘servitors to God’ is considered higher than serving the God himself – according to the Periya puranam.

While giving me faith that things like this are practically possible to accomplish, I wonder whether it would be feasible. I doubt if the various bickering political parties that fight to rule (and loot) our country, have the inclination. In our country, turning members of one religious community against other, seems to be the most common political mileage gaining stunt. Given this, accomplishing things like the Kumbh mela, based on faith, would just be a dream. Like millions of Indians (who are the receiving end of the Secular Government Tamasha), I do wish the dream come true some time though.

The Meeting Rule

I follow a meeting rule which is borrowed from Steve Jobs rule book. I read this in the Walter Isacson biography.

I will attend a meeting if, by attending the meeting, one of two things happen — I gain something from the meeting, or the other folks in the meeting gain something from me.

I follow the same rule when calling for a meeting, and inviting folks to it.

As a corollary rule, I will always _NOT_ carry a laptop to a meeting, unless I am presenting, or if I have been explicitly asked to take notes. The reason is that, if I do take the laptop, I will be distracted and be tempted to work in parallel. This would break the first rule. I will neither contribute fully to the meeting, nor will I gain something in its entirety.

Following these two rules sometimes gets me very antsy when a meeting is poorly conducted. But that is beyond my realm of control. I try my very best to ensure that my meetings are efficient.


In TamilNadu, poochaandi is a word that is typically used to scare children, to make sure they sleep early, or to get them to eat properly. You will often hear mothers saying – “Poochandi varan. He will take you away.” He is given descriptions of someone who will come and take away misbehaving children. Of looking ferocious and scary etc.

More recently, while listening to a lecture by R.B.V.S.Manian, I came to know of the actual meaning of the word. I obviously googled right after, and just could not find this gem of an information anywhere. So I thought, let me do the honors.

The 3rd, 4th, and 5th century in the history of Tamil Nadu was called the dark ages. This was right after the Sangam period. This was an age when there was quite a bit of Hindu suppression that happened in this area. Buddhism and Jainism were fast gaining popularity in other parts of south India, particularly in the Mysore State (what is now Karnataka). This was a time, when it is believed that, large portions of Tamil Nadu were taken over by the Mysore rulers. It is believed that there was significant religious suppression that happened during this period. The Buddhist and Jain rulers tried in as much to convert the Shaivites and Vaishnavites to their religion.

During this period, there was a ban on anyone applying the sacred ash (vibhuthi) on their forehead (or anywhere on the body). It was also called Kandu-muttu-ketu-muttu – literally translated prohibition to see and prohibition to hear. In other words, anyone who saw someone who had applied vibhuthi would be punished. Anybody who heard about someone similar would be punished. This practice carried on even after the fifth century, when some of the tamil kings who ruled Tamil Nadu were Jains/Buddhist themselves. One of the famous kings under whom there is record of this practice happening is King Koon Pandiyan, who ruled Madurai.

Around this time, there were a group of extreme Caivites (worshippers of Lord Shiva) who used to roam around in only their langote/komanam (single strip underwear). Their principle was that, they have renounced everything to God except that single strip underwear. They were also called “aandi” – crudely translated to “naked”.

The “Aandis” wanted to rebel the prohibition on vibhuthi and smeared their entire body with vibhuthi. Poochu in tamil means “to smear”, “to splatter”. Hence these people were called “Poochandi” — “Poochu”+”Aandi”.

Now why were these people feared. Quite obviously by the dictum of the king, if someone saw these people or heard about these people, they would get punished severely. Hence folks would get very scared and run into their homes and lock themselves up.

This fearful term has come handed down generations down, and even now, mothers quiet their little children saying “Poochandi Varaan” {Poochandi is coming}.


The Death of ST Ericsson

I just read from the SemiWiki blog that the mobile platform group of STE is going to be shut down. This is sad. During the hey-dey of feature phones, when Sony-Ericsson and Nokia ruled the roost, STE used to be the go to chip designers. They were the creme-de-la-creme, because of their rich history. The historical perspective, reproduced below from the semiwiki article, itself, can give you an idea of the technological expertise or heritage or lineage of the group.

Nokia originally had an internal semiconductor design group and in 2007 they decided to get out of doing their own chip design and relying on Texas Instruments and ST Microelectronics. This included transferring most of their chip designers to ST.

Then NXP, the old Philips Semiconductors, had a mobile design group, many of which were the old VLSI Technology engineers in Sophia Antipolis. They merged this group into ST but retained an ownership share, although later ST bought out this remaining share. Next Ericsson had an internal group called Ericsson Mobile Platforms (EMP). Its business plan was to create IP (software, silicon IP etc) to license to people who wanted to get into mobile, especially in upcoming markets like China.

The final step in the creation of ST-Ericsson happened 4 years ago when Ericsson set up a joint-venture with ST and merged the ST design group along with the EMP group.

Read the original semi-wiki article here.

Best Advice ~ Jeff Weiner

I have been following Jeff Weiner on his LinkedIn influencer feed for a while. He is a pretty darned good writer, and his posts are very insightful. In fact, some of them are so down to earth and pragmatic, that you wonder, if this guy is really a CEO.

In his post on the best advice he ever got, he goes over some pretty deep stuff. Three things that stood out to me are:

You can do anything you set your mind to — My dad

My wife keeps telling me this, and I kept refuting it until recently. To put this to practice, I applied it to an extremely simple thing such as ‘waking up early’. You ‘really’ can do anything you set your mind to.

Everything that can be converted from an atom to a bit, will be — Nicholas Negroponte

This is deep. Very deep. Especially in the current world and time. How many times a day, do you hear – “there is an app for that.”. Be it tracking the mileage my car gives per liter of petrol, to remembering to buy a few groceries on the way back home, to figuring out the best seat in a plane, to anything that you can think about. Just anything that can be digitized, … will be.

If you could only do one thing, what would it be? — Steve Jobs

This is the one thing that I have always admired in Apple. Do one thing, and do it so darned well, that you are the best. Nothing short. The story that Jeff shares in the post is that of, how Apple had started on the iPad first. At some point in time, when they realized the iPhone makes sense to be done first, they actually shelved the iPad project. They moved to the iPhone. Delivered it. And then moved back to iPad.

The story that comes to my mind is the famous quadrant that Jobs drew when he first came back to Apple. The four quadrants were laptop for consumers, laptop for business users, desktop for consumers, desktop for business users. Thats it. They focussed on one product in each quadrant. They trashed every other variant that was introduced during Sculley’s time.

Wisdom without compassion is ruthlessness, compassion without wisdom is folly — Fred Kofman

This is so deep that it took me a few seconds to digest this. But once you understand it, it is so true.

Read the original post from Jeff here.

Microsoft SSMS Bus Service

Yep. Intriguing title right? When I was with Microsoft Hyderabad, I used to be a Program Manager with the SQL Server team. We pretty much owned the front end manager of the DB, and this tool is called the SQL Server Management Studio (SSMS).

So recently, when I saw the two photos below – I had to blog about it. 🙂

ssms1 ssms2

Yep. The stickering says – “Glory of SSMS”. Now you see how the title makes sense 🙂