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This happened the last time – and I bet it will happen again once the dust and smoke settles down.
Last time, people commended – how life went back to normal and the resilient nature of the people of Mumbai India.

It is actually sad that people approve of how life gets back to normal.
It should not! Lessons need to be learnt and things need to be changed …

We Indians are probably one of the most tolerant and laid back group of people in the world.
It’s time to get a little bit angry and a little paranoid …

It’s not too late to have a plan. Terrorism is upon all of us now – not only in J&K.
Time to stop covering our eyes and prepare to deal with these guys as and when the situation arises …

Startup hiring …

Yes we’re hiring …

There are millions of blogs out there on startup hiring which preach on the dos and don’ts of startup hiring.
I’m not trying to preach anything here – just sharing my experience with the first batch of hiring activities that we’ve been upto …

Hiring they say – is difficult – even more so with a startup.
We guys keep getting a decent amount of resumes every week which we religiously archive. So when we decided to get a couple of people, thats where we decided to look in first. We’ve had a multitude of resumes from various different segments (all computer related of course) – quite a few freshers and people with a year of experience and looking to change a job and some even with 2, 3, 4 and 5 years of experience. (Yes. We were shocked ourselves when we found out that people with so much experience want to ride the uncertain-startup-waves). But its definitely a good sign to see people wanting to not work in a multinational company, take a little bit of risk and do something extremely exciting at work.

The first thing that I personally check for is the to field of the email.
All people interested in joining ThinkingSpace, need to mail in their resumes at careers [at] thinkingspace.in.

It is unbelievable how many people bulk send their resumes to various companies and put all those addresses in the to field. C’mon people! Give me a break. If you cannot take the trouble of personally emailing a company you’re looking to join (something you will be investing the next 2 – 3 years of your life in) then I am not going to bother calling you for the interview – no matter how impressive your resume is.

As a matter of fact, the resumes of such people are not that great anyways – so this is a good quick filter.

The smarter ones bulk email putting you in the bcc field – better – but I still know you are bulk mailing. So out goes your resume. Learn how to use a mail merge next time.
Bulk mailing also indicates how desperate you’re to get a job and that you’re not particularly interested in the company you wish to join.

So far, we have been calling people directly for an interview – which works out decently well for us.
Except that some people are unprofessional enough not to show up and not inform you. Then they email you and tell you something to the effect of – I have my certification exam – can I come back next week. Yeah right!

The first inteview we do, we generally try to check whether the guy is right for a startup and whether a startup (particularly our startup) is right for them. So far, all the people we interviewed knew what a startup was like and gave decently convincing reasons as to why they wanted to join one.

After this is over, we generally start the technical process – which involves a few coding challenges and a rapid fire technical interview. I know we are doing this in the reverse order (first HR and then technical) – but it works for us.

There is no sense in spending time, money and effort in doing a technical – getting a good person and then finding that they didn’t even know what a startup was and what will be required of them.

The technical round is another shocker. It is amazing how many people over rate themselves.
The question – “On a scale of 1-10 (1 being the lowest) – where do you rate yourself in XXX” always gives an excellent picture of where the guy actually is.

The good ones generally tend to rate themselves much, much lower than the bad ones.
Its also shocking to see how many people with their basic computer fundas all mixed up think they can code well. I’m guessing this trend has something to do with the larger companies (read Infosys, Wipro, TechM) picking up large number of people with no coding skills and then training them.
People have become complacent knowing that if they have decent aptitude skills, they will make it.

Unfortunately for them, a larger number of companies don’t have thre resources nor the time to teach people the basics of OOPs or whether private constructors are allowed by the compiler and what happens when you define a constructor to be private. Four years of an engineering degree ought to have taught you atleast these things …

It also pays to be sincere and honest I feel.
Atleast for startups. You could know a lot of things, but when you don’t – you must have the heart to admit it and the drive to figure it out yourself.

I’m not sure how late I am to learn about this – but just found out about this feature on IMDB which gives you exhaustive details about the demographics of users that voted for a particular title.

Being a movie and a stats junkie, this is just too freakin’ brilliant for me :D
Do check it out.

Click here to get to the page

Click here to get to the page

Summary of Information

Further demographic breakup

Further demographic breakup

It’s 12:20 AM and people are still out having a gala time bursting fire crackers – even though the guidelines set by the commissioner of police said it should be done by 10 PM max.
But what can you do? We’re a democracy right?

In India, I have learnt this the hard way – you just need sometimes to let go.
In a very funny sort of a way, you have to are forced to respect the collective decision of many people at your own expense even though each individual in the collective is being a selfish idiot!

Speaking about diwali, a couple of interesting incidents took place in the days leading upto the festival.

The first incident has to do with our dead telephone and the line repairman.
Mysteriously, about a couple of days from diwali, our main land-line phone went dead. I raised a complaint on Saturday but we were all pretty sure that nothing would get done until the long diwali weekend (stretching upto Thursday) was over.

Imagine my dad’s surprise when the phone magically rang on Sunday morning and the person at the other end of the line was the repair man asking whether the phone was working now. (Apparently there was a fault with the underground wiring … apparently)
My dad was so elated and surprised at the same time, that he profusely thanked the repair man for fixing the phone a day before diwali – and that too on a Sunday! He even wished him a happy diwali.

Imagine our surprise, when the repair guy says “Thank you for your wishes. I’ll come to the premises myself and meet you in person!”

Come he did, in a good 10 minutes.
And when he left, he had downed a good glass of soft drink, some exquisite sweets and pocketed an easy Rs. 51/- (diwali bakshish)

You give your little finger and pull out your entire arm :)

The other incident however was to do with our maid.
All through the diwali cleaning – which lasts a good week, my mom asked our regular maid to help out with some of the nitty gritties. Now, all maids in Pune (and I’m pretty sure in India too), look forward to demand an extra bonus during diwali.

My mom promised the maid a whole month’s pay for the bonus – provided she helped her with the extra cleaning of the place.

So today, on diwali, when my mom finally gave the maid her one month’s pay and two boxes of diwali sweets (which she had specially gotten packed and gift wrapped for her) our maid instead of graciously accepting it and thanking her, turns around and asks my mom “Where is my sari?”

My mom was completely taken aback and couldn’t believe what she was hearing.
Definitely dented her trust in the human kind a bit I’m sure.

Ofcourse she didn’t get her sari. There was no talk about a sari. An extra month’s pay itself was a substantial amount. Another case of giving someone your little finger and they trying to pull your entire arm out.

But what can you do? C’est la vie!
I read that in Japan, it is impolite to leave a tip. They believe a person gets paid for doing his / her job to the best of their abilities. Expecting money for doing a better job (that they do right now) is just insulting.

Sigh …

I spent a good hour at Landmark (which is a pretty large bookstore in our city) the other day – having nothing to do. I ended up buying two books even though I entered the shop with the intent of just casually browsing through the store and passing some time …

While browsing, I had picked up a couple of books with the intent of buying them – but later placed them back on the shelf, changing my mind the last minute.
The books I eventually ended up buying were – The Alchemist (something that I have wanted to read since a long time) and Games Indians Play (a book in which the author tries to explain why Indians behave the way they do using Prisoner’s Dilemma in Game Theory)

The books I ended up placing back on the shelf were – “A Thousand Splendid Suns” by Khaled Hosseini (not the right time to jump into a large novel) and “It Happened in India” by Kishore Biyani (wasn’t very keen and would be able to borrow it from a friend later).

Anyways, getting back to the topic at hand – the reason I wrote this post – is because I was wondering — how we willingly spend money for different things.

I have never felt the pinch while spending money on books – I spent a good 400 bucks on books I didn’t even intend to buy when I got to the place.
Similarly, I never quite feel the pinch while buying computer hardware – say a new hard disk or some ram.

Honestly speaking, I have started feeling the pinch (computer hardware) a little as compared to my college days – but nothing compared to spending a similar amount on getting my bike serviced — or on buying clothes for example.

I found it ironic that I could buy books worth a 1000 bucks in the morning – and cringe when my mechanic told me later that evening that I would have to change the brake liner of my bike which would cost me 250 bucks.

I really wonder why…

Maybe its because the way we are brought up.
Maybe because I had a sort of a “no questions asked fund” for buying books as a kid – that I continue not to feel the pinch now.
Or maybe I just strongly believe in the benefits of buying books.

I really don’t know – but I definitely do believe — different people do have different policies on spending money on different things. I just really do not know why.

One thing I love to do – sometimes even more than reading is watching films.
In my humble opinion, a good film talks to you at so many different levels and takes you to so many different places in those 120 minutes – that nothing else compares to it.

Well, there are books of course – but the joy of watching a well made film comes very close to that of reading an extremely good book. I do believe that making a film is a lot more difficult than writing a book.
A director has to deal with gazillion different things simultaneously as well as please the millions of people who would throng the talkies to watch his masterpiece.

sr.jpeg

Excuse me while I get all sentimental and emotional about films – because I have just come back from one of the most horrific film moments in my life. I have just returned from watching the Bollywood film – Black and White.

The greatest of the directors — the Peter Jacksons, Steven Spielbergs, Martin Scorseses, Quentin Tarantinos, the James Camerons give you — the viewer — the respect that you deserve when you walk into the talkies to see one of their films.
They know that their audiences are not stupid idiots who will watch and take any crap dished out to them.
Walking out of the theatres, watching one of their creations — you feel special — pampered in some sort of a way and take that nice, happy, satisfied feeling all the way home.

I’m extremely sorry to say that Indian directors on the other hand – are exactly the opposite.
They think — we — the audience — are a bunch of morons who will lap up all the meaningless, mind-numbing crap that they throw at us — with our mouths wide open – asking for more.

There are definitely some good film makers in India right now (Aamir Khan, Nagesh Kuknoor, Anurag Basu, Anurag Kashyap) — but the percentages of the films these guys produce compared to the vast numbers that are being churned out annually is very, very meager.

I have no idea why such crap is made and even accepted by the masses.
Today’s film for instance (Black and White) would insult the intelligence of even an eight year old. The research these guys do is limited to their imaginations – and the dialogues are as cliche’d as ever.

It’s about time I think – we guys really refine our tastes and get some quality cinema out.
Please God – let it happen soon :)

(If you are wondering why I went for this movie if it was full of horse shit – was because my mom wanted to see it for some inexplicable reason and me and my brother volunteered to take her.)

The pain and agony of those 140 minutes I tell you – was unbearable.

After all these years, I have come to realise that blogging is a lot like going to the gym.
You start with all the gusto – only to find that you have a blog space somewhere and you don’t feel like writing anymore.
One can always try again .. right?

thebandsvisit_arrival.jpg
The Band’s Visit

Anyways, I am sorry about writing another movie review out here – but I just wanted to get the word out on this movie which I just caught.
It’s called – The Band’s Visit and it has to be one of the simplest and sincerest movies I have seen in such a long time!

The movie is for most parts in Arabic — and is about an Egyptian police band which comes to Israel and ends up in the wrong town. The movie has an extremely high rating on Rotten Tomatoes (98% critics) – and that is how I came to know about the movie.

The movie is advertised as being a comedy – but it does not have many ha ha moments. On the contrary, it is pretty sad at places. However, the characters are extremely endearing and five minutes into the movie and you know you have gotten a winner. Once the movie was over, I could not believe how something so simple could be so enjoyable and captivating at the same time.
The way the characters interact with each other and the social situations that they get themselves into is extremely heartening and a pleasure to watch. You can relate to the movie at so many different places!
The movie is by director Eran Kolirin and he does a marvelous job at it. It also happens to be his directorial debut.
The runtime of the movie is about 1 hour 20 minutes — and if you are into foreign films and don’t mind sub-titles, this will be an extremely refreshing change to the mind-numbing, fast action paced movies out there.

Two thumbs up from my side :)