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Monday, April 30, 2007

In the papers!

Hi! Well guess what, yours truly is in the papers again along with 3 of his best pals! And whats more, its all for good reasons!! Check it out here. And if you wanna see a scanned copy, thats available too here. Finally some hard work pays off. I should really thank Pallavee (Dhaundhiyal) of Education Times (Times of India - Delhi) for having interviewed me and preseting a clear cut story about what we guys have been upto. I love the photo that shows up in the story, of course we provided it to her, it was taken around the last days we guys spent at IIIT together from Suchit's camera. Notice the laborer in the background - I think he worked in our mess. Also notice the channa-jor garam waala in the extreme right - well that is India for you - some of the brightest and smartest technocrats and some of the really poor and under-privileged within the same picture frame. It is out duty to bridge this gap, and well even thought we may not be doing anything about that directly (at least right now), even a sensitivity to the issue itself would go a long way.

On a personal front I have not been keeping well, hopefully (inshallah) with the grace of almighty lord and with the help of my friends and family (fuelish people, A/A and mom dad) I should be back into the action soon.

Tuesday, April 24, 2007

Mira Kamdar at Stanford (Planet India)

Hi. I am sort of breaking a personal pledge i took sometime back of not writing anything for a few days - a personal reason that I am not willing to share just yet, but anyways, I thought I heard a few ideas which were really new and brilliant and deserved peoples' attention.

Mira Kamdar was at Stanford today. She is the author of the book Planet India. I loved the way she spoke and well frankly, I had no idea of who she was until yesternight when I found out about her talk. She gave the talk in the same room in which ambassador Ronen Sen had given his talk while he was in campus, in the grand Encina Hall of Stanford. So lets cut to the chase and talk about what she actually had to say:

So what she says is that India is this great big test case for all that has to come in the world. She says that with so many diverse groups and as such the inherent nature of the culturally, socially, economically diverse society, India looks like a good tests case. In the sense that given the set of constraints which India and its people live in, the entrepreneurs there come up with so many creative solutions to problems facing everyone in the world, the most out of the box solutions are seen in the Indian landscape. And why is that important? That is important because most of the world is like what India is, not like what Palo Alto is. That is to say, India is a good picture of what the world is and what problems it faces, unlike EU or North America.

Another point that she made was that a lot was hinged on the success of India. A lot was hinged on whether India succeeds in feeding all of its over 1 billion people, succeeds in generating employment for its people. And why is that? The reason is this. Remember the talk about the race between India and China. Well according to Mira (and I concur) there is NO race. China is already a century ahead of us and doing very well and so there is no race - china wins hands down. So there are these nations in Africa which are saying - Hey so whats this whole noise about democracy, why don't we just do what China is doing! India has to succeed in that it has to show the world that the success can be theirs WITH democracy in place.

Well that was all I could soak in, rest of the time I was busy eating the moderately good Indian (desi) food that on offer there. I feel I should attend more of such talks!

On other news: I am doing an independent study on the organized retail sector in India with Rahil Kacheria (Stanford' 08) and Prof. Tom Kosnik. In case you or someone you know are in the retail sector in India, please feel free to get in touch at thathoo@stanford.edu

Monday, April 02, 2007

Trying to get in, even after getting in!

Actually the title of the blog pretty much sums up what i started to feel in the last legs of the winter quarter here at Stanford. Even after you get into Stanford, it is not smooth sailing. I mean of course its hard, the course workload and the research work are heavy and take their toll, and of course if you are used to Indian food, you get terrified even thinking of the bland food out here, etc etc. But here is the thing, i am not talking about that - so what the hell are you talking about Mr. Thathoo?? I am taking about trying to take courses at Stanford. Every now and then there come along courses which are offered by the very people who invented that field of study, and of course you want in on that, dont you - you greedy grad student!! So you see this email from Terry Winograd himself advertising this course he is offering next quarter along with - are you ready for this - Hasso Plattner and Zia Yusuf. If you dont already know, Hasso founded SAP AG., and Zia is ex-HBS exec. VP of SAP. And of course the "admission" to this course is application based and Mr. Thathoo gets tossed out just liked he did at Rudy's the other day by the bouncers.

Then another email is received - this time talking about an inter-disciplinary course with 2 trips to Switzerland and lots of fun in building a real neat thing - yet again - "No Vacancy". Its sort of amazing the amount of rejection a person has to put up with in life. Especially if you are interviewing for tech companies, and that too on the phone, you know what I am talking about!

Of course then there was this course which Zakir Hussain is taking ( wah Taj waale!), and do i get in?? Of 'course' not - all the seats have already been filled by ABCDs and people who otherwise just want to brag about taking a course with zakir hussain (btw, i fall in that category!)

That is why I went to the Gurdwara in San Jose today, to pray to the almighty as he alone saves, and also to eat delicious food at the langar!