Posts in "Personal"

A Typical Day In India…

Thought I might write about a typical day for me in India. Could be incredibly boring for some, could provide useful information for others…who knows?!

My day usually starts around 9:30 – 10am when the maid comes in and starts cleaning the apartment. You don’t have hot water on demand, so you have to turn the heater on and wait 15 minutes or so before it’s hot enough to have a shower.

When I was in India last time, breakfast consisted of rice and curry (the sauce is called ‘gravy’ in India). But now I have my own place, I’m embracing traditional Western values by having muesli or cereal with fresh orange juice for breakfast ๐Ÿ™‚ I plan to start making tea in the morning too, but I haven’t gotten around to buying a kettle yet…

I get to work between 11am and 12 noon, getting there either by car if Aravind stayed over or tuk-tuk if I’m on my own. Trying to get a tuk-tuk is always an experience. The office is located in an area called Nungumbakkam, but thanks to my wonderful British accent, the tuk-tuk drivers simply can’t understand me when I tell them where I want to go.

Getting a tuk-tuk would cost a local about 70-80 rupees, being white, it’s extremely rare for me to get 80 rupees, it’s usually 80-100. For reference, 100 rupees is about ยฃ1.25 or $2.50.

I take lunch around 3pm. Sometimes I bring a packed lunch with cheese sandwiches and an apple, or I’ll go down to the sandwich shop below our office (think: Greggs, if anyone is reading this in the UK). If I buy lunch it’s around 60 rupees (ยฃ0.75).

Work generally finishes around 8pm and depending on the plan, I’ll either go out to a nice restaurant for dinner or go home and cook some pasta. Going out to a restaurant at a 4/5 star hotel costs about ยฃ15 for three people – not too bad!

If I have to make my own way home then the fun and games start all over again with the tuk-tuk drivers. I live in an area called Mandavelli, but once again, I say this word and a look of confused incohesion crosses the drivers face. It’s always an adventure to find out where you’ll wind up at the end of the journey…

…Since I live near Mandavelli station I use that as a local landmark when explaining where I want to get to, but it’s still incredible how many drivers have no idea where it is. This evening for example, I was taken to Mandavelli bus station.

I’ve also just discovered that apparently the way I pronounce ‘Mandavelli’, it sounds like I’m saying ‘head hurting’ in Tamil. That caused a lot of amusement in the office…grrr.

Anyhow, back to dinner and food…

Pasta is rediculously cheap, this evening I went and bought 2 packets of pasta, 2L bottle of coke, some milk and some juice and it came to 110 rupees – about ยฃ1.30.

Since they also have Pizza Hut and Dominos Pizza here, we’ll occasionally order a pizza, this is a bit more expensive, costing around ยฃ4.50 ($9.00) for a medium pizza, 4 slices garlic bread and a bottle of Pepsi. The pizza’s are all made from the same ingredients, so they taste exactly the same over here as they do in England (surprise?!).

In the evenings I’ll kick back and watch TV, I’ve got a nice 32″ widescreen flatscreen TV mounted on the wall with cinema surround sound – it’s all good ๐Ÿ˜€

Umm, so there you have it, a short ‘day in the life of’ someone living in Chennai. Not all that exciting really, except maybe second guessing where you’ll end up when you climb in to a tuk-tuk!

Playing The Matchmaker

I was inadvertantly playing Cilla Black the other day at the office, let me set the background if I may…

Anand, the CEO of Agriya, the company that I work for has decided that it’s time to get married. Or rather, his parents have decided that it’s time for him to get married – this being India afterall. A hunt up and down the state of Tamil Nadu has uncovered several likely candidates for the marriage.

One of the candidates parents were not keen on the proposed marriage because Anand was the CEO of a ‘small’ company, and to them that meant high risk. They wanted someone who worked for a ‘big’ company like Infosys for their daughter, under the belief that this would provide a more ‘secure’ income.

Keen to prove the daughters parents wrong, Anands parents asked them to come and visit the office and see for themselves that this was a medium sized business that was going strong. They agreed and visited the office the other day.

Unfortunately for Anand, the initial impressions were not good, they saw the downstairs office and were not completely impressed. Then they came upstairs to my office and they did a complete U-turn in their opinion.

The reason?

Agriya has two Westerners working at the office ๐Ÿ˜€

As soon as they saw me and one other European guy in the office, they changed their mind and said “Agriya must be a big company if white people are working for them”. So after that, it was Game On for the marriage!

See, not only am I doing a wonderful job, I’m also helping office staff to get hitched. I think that deserves a payrise…

Update: Game Off! Cancel everything, the sky is falling, the marriage has been cancelled! ๐Ÿ˜ฎ Rumours, hearsay and theories abound.

Can You Read My Mind?

Anyone that knows me will probably know my opinions on spiritual and alternative therapy stuff quite well. Suffice to say that I’m a complete non-believer in that sort of thing.

So when I had the chance to have my palm read on Saturday, I jumped at the chance ๐Ÿ˜€

The entire conversation took place in Tamil, but I’ve got the translated version here…

You have a nice hand, you will get lots of money, but you will spend lavishly – but you have a good chance to have more wealth than you can spend. You are very intelligent, you look timid, but deep down you are not. When it comes to work, and you know you are very correct, you will not let it go.

You have a lucky hand, whatever you start, you will do well.

You are coming to India with a mission, you rely on your friends from other countries to help you. You have the opportunity to marry only one girl and she will probably be from another country. You have the opportunity to have five children.

Nice and vauge, I hope you will agree. It could probably be applied to any foreigner coming to India ๐Ÿ™‚

Life After Freelancing

So I have decided to give up freelancing and forge a career in a ‘proper’ job where one works 9 till 5 (or to 6 in some of the meaner companies). One of the first questions potential employers ask (well, ok, the 4 billion or so recruitment agencies) is…WHY?!

Incase any potential employers are reading this, let me take a moment to explain why I want to move from freelancing to a ‘proper’ job. The answer is quite simple: financial stability.

Freelancing is fun, setting your own hours, working to your own rules, but at the end of the day, you still have no idea how much you are going to earn from one month to the next, you might go a couple of months with very little and the following month take a large order.

Sales was never my strongest point, I prefered to be given the work, beaver away on it and return a new shiney website that exceeded the clients’ expectations.

When you have a fixed income, it helps you to budget and plan ahead a lot better and removes a lot of the stress and worry on where the next paycheck is going to come from.

It’s a very simple reason to be honest with you, but there have been a few problems with making the transistion from freelancing to getting a full time job which I’ll talk about some other time.

The Running Man

I just wanted to share with you some results that I’m getting by going for a run fairly regularly around a local park. I started off really badly and was out of breathe but now I’ve done it nearly a dozen times I’m pretty shocked at the results I’m seeing. In just over a month I’ve managed to knock off over a minute from my original time.

The course that I run around is shown below. Thanks to Google Maps for the image (not entirely sure if I’m allowed to post such an image). The red sections are the parts I run and the blue section is the part I (currently) have to walk. The blue part is actually up a small hill ๐Ÿ™‚ The starting point is in the bottom right hand corner where the red lines meet to a ‘V’ shape.

Route of my running course

I’ve taken a rough measurement based on the scale in the bottom left hand corner and it seems to be about 1.1 miles all the way around. If I include the route to and from my house then the entire course is about 1.6 miles.

The bit I actually time myself around is the course shown in red though.

The time it takes me to get around this course is still quite shameful, but it’s getting better as time goes on as this graph below shows…

My Running Times Graph

For some reason I seem to be getting my best times on Mondays, then throughout the week the times creep back up again. My most recent run (today) gave a time of 11 minutes dead on, but on Monday I did it in 10 minutes 53 seconds, so I was 7 seconds slower. I wonder what it will be like on Friday?

One theory I have that I get better results on Monday is because I’ve had a couple of days rest and my body is better prepared. But it’s just a shot in the dark theory, so who knows!?

Summer Holidays

Just returned from a fantastic week long break in Crete – home of the first advanced civilisation in Europe, the Minoans. Greek Myth also says it’s the place where Zeus was born and where the Labyrinth is located.

It wasn’t all culture though…infact it was mostly not culture and consisted of relaxing in the sun by the pool, chilling by the pool bar and enjoying the nights out in places like Piskopiano, Hersonissos and of course Malia.

On one of the days we hired out a quad bike and let me tell you now, hiring a quad bike is like hiring some instant death. The things are lethal – with no differential on the axels, when you take a corner on the road the bike kicks out or wants to roll over – if you ever drive one just be careful!

Malia was the place to go for a good night out though with all the drink offers you can’t help but wonder just how watered down the alcohol is. As I found with Ibiza, hangovers simply do not happen in Crete and most days after a heavy night out I could wake up with a clear head.

I will be uploading some photos soon, so stay tuned!

The CD Was Nearly Called The Compact Rack

The Compact Disc is celebrating it’s 25th anniversary today. The BBC has run an article looking at the history of the CD from development to the present day decline as new media takes over. Some interesting facts about the CD…

  • The original disc was going to be 11.5cm in diameter but Sony insisted that the disc should be able to hold the full 74 minute recording of Beethoven’s 9th Symphony so it was increased to 12cm to accomodate it
  • Abba released the first commercial CD with their song The Visitor
  • Research on using lasers to read the data on the CD began as far back as 1969
  • Proof of concept using lasers was completed 12 years earlier
  • Record sales of CD’s peaked in 2000 with 2.455 billion. In 2006 that figure was down to 1.755 billion.

Now that new digital mediums are taking over, the CD could become as obsolete as the 3.5″ diskette. With software companies turning to digital delivery of their products over the internet there could be a time when there is no need for CD’s. Even now, with music being downloaded by more and more people, could buying albums on a CD become a niche market like buying albums on vinyl?

The full BBC article can be found here:

Weight Loss Tips!

Ha! I wonder if my blog will get flagged as spam if I talk about weight loss – not the normal topic of conversation on this blog that’s for sure.

Anyway, I’m sure there are some guys out there reading this that will look down at their gut now and maybe spend a moment or two pondering life without the belly (or maybe it’s worse than that…not the man boobs!).

Well I have a little tip for anyone looking to shed a few pounds and it’s so simple even a child could do it!

What is the secret? How did I lose over half a stone (7lbs / 3.17kg) in a month?

Quite simply, I virtually cut out all beer from my diet.

That’s it.

No exercise, no dieting, no eating miniscule portions.

I just cut right back on the amount of beer that I drank and the fat virtually melted away. It was incredible.

So if you have a bit of a gut, try cutting out the beer for a week and watch what happens – you’ll probably be pleasently surprised! The only downside is that next time you drink a beer you’ll feel the effects a lot sooner – though that might not be a bad thing – cheaper on the wallet ๐Ÿ˜‰

Climate Change & Offsetting

Recently I watched a program that casts some serious doubts over many corporations claims that they are green or carbon neutral. A couple of years ago it was Avian Flu that was going to decimate half the world’s population, before that it was SARS that was going to be the biggest killer of them all. Now it’s global warming and climate change – you can understand why there might be detractors.

Although there is no doubt that global warming is happening, I can’t see it as being the catastrophic disaster that the media is portraying it to be – simply because they’ll sensationalize any bit of bad news to make more money.

Nothing quite sells like bad news. Telling people “You are all going to be worse off! Find out why by buying our newspaper”. It’s a sure fire winner.

Anyway, climate change is now the buzz word and even the people living under rocks will be aware of it (you may have heard them comment that rocks are not like they used to be).

Never too far behind to miss a trick to make more money, many corporations are now jumping on this green bandwagon to give their corporate image that fluffy happy look. To be “carbon neutral” is the big thing. To leave the smallest possible “carbon footprint” is the goal.

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Let’s Go Galaxy Hunting

Ever fancied yourself as a bit of a galaxy hunter? Ever looked up at the stars and wondered if you are alone out there? Well, never mind the second question, but if you want to help classify over a million galaxies, then Galaxy Zoo could probably use your help.

They have taken photo’s of around a million galaxies (each one contains billions and billions of stars like our own sun…do the maths, it’s not hard to realize there is going to be at least one other ‘Earth’ out there capable of supporting life) and need help classifying them all.

You have to take a short tutorial explaining the different types of galaxies (Eliptical or Spiral) and then have to take a nerve racking test to find out if your galaxy hunting skills are good enough for what they need. If you pass then you are allowed to start classifying real galaxies.

The whole concept of letting people around the world help out with scientific studies is growing in popularity. Classifying the galaxies has been difficult to do with computers because they are not adept at spotting patterns, and getting a few people to so the classification would take time and resources. By letting hundreds, thousands, maybe tens of thousands of people around the world help out they can complete their study in months rather than years.

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My Work Has Been Recognised By Time Magazine!

Stockpicker website screenshot

Well here’s a turn up for the books (and about bloody time!), my work has been recognised by the world renown Time Magazine! I’m not directly recognised (boo!), but one of the sites that I worked on has made it to the Time Magazine Top 50 Websites of 2007. This has put such a big grin on my face and my ego has been inflated to biblical proportions. So…forgive me while I have a little boast ๐Ÿ™‚

The site in question is called Stockpickr and the aim is to allow people to enter their top 3 stock picks and then the site puts you in touch with people that have chosen the same stocks and people that have similar stocks. You can also check out the ‘gurus’ picks and find out who the best stock pickers are.

You can see the full article here: Time Articlel

I was responsible for the development of the site, having a large amount of input on how it was to work, what information was needed etc. I also created the layout and content architecture of the site which means deciding where everything should go, what text was needed, how the pages interlinked with one another and how everything fits together. Finally I created the programming requirements document which outlined everything the site had to do so that the programmers could understand the functionality that is required.

I’ve uploaded some screenshots of my original (1st revision) mockups for the site below…

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What Sort of Facebooker Are You?!

It seems that if you are a 20 something in the UK you can’t have a conversation with someone for more than 5 minutes without the dreaded words Facebook being mentioned.

Since it opened it’s doors to the general public in September 2006 it has seen a wild fire like growth in the UK. I don’t feel as if MySpace ever really cracked the 2nd generation of internet users (people that came online around 1995 – 2000), certainly amongst my circle of friends MySpace was never mentioned. With the garish profile pages, unreadable fonts and eyewatering backgrounds it was something that I feel appealed more to the teenagers than us college grads (being the sophisticated grownups dontcherknow).

Now here we are, July 2007, not even a year after Facebook opened it’s doors to the general public and I think 70% of my year group from high school is registered and a fair amount of people from my university. Most of my mates from back home have a profile and it’s growing day by day. Considering that there are were an estimated 1.3 million UK users in March 2007, I reckon there must be 2 million or more now.

So, with the meteoric rise of Facebook, certain types of users have emerged, which one are you?

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