Sunday, May 27, 2007


You take one step towards future from the present and several things happen. Your present becomes past. The fears of change and future are allayed. The mind is filled with excitement and heart is filled with new memories of something which has just morphed into being the past from present.

Why is it that you always long to go back in time and live the days of past again. When you are in college, you always long to go back to school days. Suddenly the prayer halls which you never liked to attend while you were in school start looking charming, lovely and innocent. Why is it that the school teachers whose lectures were terribly boring, you start missing them? The chirping of students around in the class, playground all looks very rosy and distant.

I miss my school days most. Whenever I try to remember my college days, I never have many memories. It's always studying on those lawns, or those haunting lab assignments or one or two events that I had participated in. But they are all there because they are part of my past. Not because they are special to me. I never feel that thrill or long to re-live them.

And I have this question today that why is it that most of the times you think that you were much happier in the past. You always say 'Good Old Days'. Have you ever heard someone saying 'Good Present Days'? Sounds odd, doesn't it?

The event that instigated this question in my mind is that suddenly I realized, I wanted to go back to UofA! It's been just five days in the industry and I miss a hundred things already from my grad school days. I want to get up at 10 in the morning like old days. I want to be able to go to sleep at 3 at night. I want to go to library in shorts. All of a sudden the formal clothes start feeling clumsy on my body. I would rather go back to my attire of jeans and a T. This really amazes me because I have always loved wearing formal clothes. May be the reason is because I have to press them before wearing and it's such a laborious task.

The most annoying thing in the present is to have to shave alternate days. There was a time during grad school when I used to shave once in a week and could afford that unkempt look. An old T with worn out jeans and carelessly parted hair and grown facial hair. This was the look not very unfamiliar to me in those days.

It is really marvelous to think about this! I could never imagine that I would recall my days at UofA and even more I would even long to re-live them! This really astonishes me.

Is it that we never appreciate the beauty of present because we are too busy dealing with our day to day lives. We are afraid of the future. But when the present becomes past, we are carefree. Because it is never going to affect our lives. Those days, places, events are all past. You don't have to worry about them now. Whereas the present, it is still there. The actions we take are going to decide the future. They are going to make an impact on our tomorrows. That's why we are always very cautious and worrying about what will happen next if I do this or that.

Only if we had the powers to know the future, we might be able to appreciate the beauty of present.

Thursday, May 24, 2007


I've been commuting between NJ and NY for four days now. It's been a very interesting experience! Will jot down some observations.

1. People never rush in and out of trains or on the platform. No matter how crowded the platform is and no matter how quick the train takes off, people will never rush or push aside others. Extremely patient, tolerant and considerate of others. Something of blaring contrast with Indian mentality.

2. Two guys never sit together in the trains even if they know each other well. If you are a man, sitting close to another man is looked upon as suspiciously gay behavior. I have been observing people on the trains. I never saw two guys sitting on a 2-person seat. And when they sit on a 3-person seat, they sit on far corners, trying to maintain as much distance as possible.

3. On the escalators, 2 people can stand side by side like all escalators. But interesting thing is that the left queue always moves. That is if you want to stand on the escalator, you are supposed to stand on the right side. If you want to climb up or down, you are supposed to be on the left queue.

4. On the NJ Transit (NJ to NY) the ticket checker comes to every seat, takes the ticket from you and places a chit (A colored strip of paper with some numbers written on it) with a punch hole on the head of the seat in front of you. There is a leather pocket on the seat in which they slip this piece of paper. And when your destination station is about to come, they come and take this chit back.

5. You can buy ticket on the train also but you need cash. I had a bad experience when I was carrying the pass but the pass was of next month and the conductor said you will have to buy ticket as this pass is not valid in this month. I had to get down at the next station. I did so even if the conductor didn't ask me to. Plain old ego! Lesson learned: Always keep your eyes open, inspect the things you buy and carry some cash in your pocket always.

6. NY people have complete disregard for walk signs on the road. They act just like we do in India. They will look at both the sides for coming vehicles and if there is no vehicle till a reasonable distance, they will cross the street even if the walk-sign is off. How I love this spirit :P

7. Within Bloomberg, the free food is consumed in same quantity as it would have been in India somewhere. People here in US do not feel embarrassed about free food. Even in my school, I hear people mentioning free food every now and then. In the school, we have this custom of having cookies, coffee etc on every special lecture organized by the department every week. And the subject line of the email always reads 'Free food now on the 9th floor atrium !'.

8. Bloomberg has TV screens here and there in the office space. Recently they are showing the photographs of new hires. It was fun to see my photo being displayed across all the floors of the office :)

Monday, May 21, 2007

First day at Bloomberg

Today was the day I would not say I had been waiting for very eagerly, but certainly the day which holds significant importance in my career and my professional life. It was my first day at Bloomberg LP, as my internship commenced today.

I had already visited the place yesterday as part of 'net practice' and so I was quite familiar with the system of the local trains here. I live in Iselin in New Jersey state which is about 30 miles from Manhattan, where my workplace is. So the way I commute is I take a train from New Jersey to New York, Penn Station. And from there I take a local train (NY Subway) to reach office. This total takes about 1 hour and 15 minutes.

It is just like commuting in Mumbai. The fight to beat the morning rush, mechanically boarding the trains, switching the trains, reading on board to kill an hour of commuting and finally reaching the office in time. Or rather before time.

The Bloomberg LP building is one of the most impressive and massive structures on Lexington Ave. which is the heart of Manhattan, NY. The building is an architectural marvel. It is built in the shape of a hoarse shoe. And the complete structure has glassed outer surface and the exterior walls are slanting, giving it a very creative and modern look.

The training program started right on time at 8 in the morning. There were about 30 other people starting the internship in the same batch. We were given the schedule and on the first look itself we realized that it was going to be a hectic day. The composition of the batch was really impressive. People from UC Berkeley, CMU and other giants formed the part of group which was really cool. It felt good to be working with people from such places. The places which are like pillars of computer science field.

The workspace is really cool. With all the free food and drink stuff like cookies, chips, juices, cold drinks, coffee and so on. Everywhere you go in the building, you will encounter Bloomberg TV and Bloomberg Radio. To the extent that even in the restrooms they have kept TV screens which show Bloomberg TV. All the walls in the office building are made up of glass which they say signifies Bloomberg's open and transparent policy.

The Bloomberg has specialized computers which they call Bloomberg Terminal. They have two monitors which are connected with each other and you can seamlessly work on both with just one mouse. This was my first experience with such terminals! It was fun though. The keyboard are also tailored to the Bloomberg Software.

The training was more or less boring except for the last part which was Introduction to the Basics of Finance. It was by a very cool fellow who taught us as if he was teaching first day class in some MBA school. At the end of the day we were given two free books, one 'Bloomberg by Bloomberg by Mike Bloomberg' and another by that finance guy about basics of finance.

I learned new lesson today about Metro trains that once you swipe your Metro pass, you can not reuse it for another 18 minutes ! I made a goof up of coming out of the exit door immediately after entering and then I tried to re-enter. The gate got locked and the security personnel told me that this is how it works. It blocks for 18 minutes after one use! Crazy american customs!

The difference between NY commuting and Mumbai commuting is huge. Mainly in terms of facilities and infrastructure. Here also you will encounter multitudes of people. All busy and rushing. Ofcourse the number is not comparable in absolute terms with the number of people traveling in Mumbai locals. But the trains are a lot cleaner. They have a/c which goes without saying. And you can easily stand if you don't get to sit. The timing and punctuality of trains is definitely same. Here I can't say NY has and edge over Mumbai as Mumbai locals are also very efficient and punctual. It's just that in Mumbai, the unmanageable number of people turn the whole local commuting into a frenzied walk through a pandemonium.

It so happened that I started reading the book 'Maximum City - Bombai Lost and Found by Suketu Mehta' and couldn't keep myself from comparing the two Cities. The jewel in the crown. Mumbai in India and NY in USA.

The cities which appear to be extremely charming from outside but are hollow from within. The pockets filled with money, mind filled with worries and hearts empty of emotions. Everyone is in the race to outsmart others. The corner cabin in office, a brand new car, branded suit and tie. Status, money and lifestyle. All at the expense of peace of mind. But who cares about peace of mind anyway? All that matters in this rat race is money.

Life is too short. You have to act quick. That goes in harmony with the lifestyle of NY and Mumbai. That's where I would love to belong. People say you wear out after a few years in NY and Mumbai. I say to them, let me have that too. I will feel it myself and then decide whether it is true or not. Let's see how my dreams are fulfilled. Let's see after these three months, where destiny takes me when next year I look forward to start my full time employment.

Thursday, May 17, 2007

Down memory lane - First few days in Tucson

It's been almost a month. I have been underground totally. Partly because I did not have time for thinking and writing anything due to my exams. And partly because I actually did not have anything to write about.

Now I am back. I hit upon some writings that I did about 8-9 months ago. It's about my experiences in Tucson and UofA during very initial days. This post will look a little anachronistic but I thought it would be fun to keep it here.

Enjoy ! (If at all anybody is bothering to read my blogs. Of which I am highly skeptical.)
September 06, 2006

It is a new life out here. Everything has changed around me and here I am typing my story in Tucson during the last one month.

I finished one month in Tucson. And it has been an eventful journey. It is the beginning of a new life. The life of a graduate student and in a broader sense, the life of an independent human being.

I remember landing here one month ago. It was a calm night at Tucson airport which I have realized now to be a typical characteristics of all Tucson nights. Mostly clear skies and favorable temperature. I was loaded with three huge bags. A big blunder immediately followed.

I was standing at the baggage claim and it was the area for some other airline. As such I am quite used to standing for baggage claim for long time because it has always been the case that my baggage takes the maximum possible time. My bags usually enjoy that ride on the luggage belt and that is why I suppose they take long time to come out to me. But this time it was different! As I said, I was standing at the wrong place. And I realized that after almost 15-20 minutes. Having realized that, I went to the actual claim place then and took the bags. Then a bigger problem was facing me.

I could not locate any free trolley to put my luggage on and the trolleys required some coins, I don't remember how many quarters. I did not have the change and thus could not get the trolleys. I was wondering how I would drag the bags away from the claim space. And if this was not enough, I could not locate Somu – the person who was supposed to come and pick me up. I waited for him for 10-15 minutes and was wondering if I should make a call. But again the problem was I did not have coins to operate the public telephone. I realized that it was a grave mistake not to carry change, especially quarters.

Luckily, I spotted him in some time and he was with another guy named Mohan who was the one with a car. So we started towards my first destination. The name of the place is University Gardens and Kishore – India Club president lives there. So he had arranged for a temporary accommodation at his place.

I reached there and saw a flood of people already gathered. All unknown faces. Most uncomfortable situation for me! It is always difficult for me to mix with the people seamlessly in initial meetings and more difficult thing is to remember people’s names and faces after having met them once. So I was sitting there without speaking much when Karthik came forward and started talking with me. And it was the start of a new friendship for me. As I look back over the past one month, I feel that we have been very good friends now.

Then some seniors tried to start the mock ragging but could not convert it to a full scale ragging and thus we were saved a lot of unnecessary stupidity. I escaped further boredom by making an excuse that the flight was tiresome and I needed sleep.

The first morning in Tucson was very eventful. I was sitting in the drawing room of Kishore’s place and I heard a knock on the door. I opened the door and saw one more stranger. I just said ‘Hi’ without much interest and introduced myself. He introduced himself as Vinayak ! He was the one I was going to live with here. He had been in Tucson for a couple of days and so was familiar with places. We went to see the place which was going to be our home in Tucson for at least a year from then. The name of the place is ‘Crossroads Apartment’ which is two blocks away from Kishore’s place – University Gardens.

The apartment looked beautiful even when it was unfurnished at the time we saw it first. It is Ground floor – First floor type of structure. The kitchen and sitting room are on ground floor and the bedroom is on the first floor. It is built in 1950s and is a pretty old type. We have trees in front of the house, tea-tables and swimming pool. It is an ideal quiet place to live in. It included all the amenities like air conditioning, heating, gas, microwave oven, and furniture etc. And the biggest plus point of the place is the free wireless internet! We have been using that heavily since the day we came.

Continued ......

Next few days

Thus after looking at the house, we agreed to sign the lease for a year. The contract is $475 per month and early vacating would result in penalty of $900. The contract would cover furnishing including microwave. After finishing the formalities we went to do the shopping! After all it was like setting up a new home! This was the first such experience for me as I have never been in a hostel.

I remember buying things like dust-bin, pillows, broom, cleaner, detergent powder, oil and what not! I would not say that the experience was exciting because it really was not! But anyway, it had to be done. Gone were the days when I used to enjoy the freedom from going to any grocery store or a mall back in India. Now it had to be done and done by myself. Thus it was a unique experience of shopping for my own house. We finally moved into the Crossroad Apt. that day only and started arranging things.

The memorable experience on the first day in the new house was messing up with air conditioner. I tried to lower the temperature in the AC and it did not like to take orders from its new master. Thus it straightway refused to operate. And there we were. Left in the heat at night. But luckily the there is a fan in the sitting room. So I brought my bed from the bedroom and set it up under the fan.

The responsibilities were many during initial days. Many formalities had to be completed. I remember I had to submit some documents at the college, open a new bank account, apply for electricity transfer on our name, get the keys to our post box, activate the gas connection and many other things. These were my first lessons of an independent life. A unique experience was at post office. We went to that place and did not know what to do. Because there were some numbers being put up on the board and we did not know whether we had to get a number from somewhere. I remember asking an American gentleman and he was kind enough to explain me the system of getting a number from a machine and waiting till the number is called.

I am very impressed by the system here. Most of the people enjoy their work and look happy. At least they look happy which is in sharp contrast from the situation back in India. But I will refrain myself from making comparisons. People here are very patient with everything. They would listen to you carefully and try to help you. Holding the door open for the person behind you is a very normal custom here. I am greeted with a broad smile wherever I go. Even government places like post office or Social Security Office have friendly people. And things move in a very efficient manner. At least till now, I have not encountered any stumbling block in my processes.

I remember my struggle to memorize the roads in and around the University. I am not legendary for my road sense anyway which I confess. The University is huge. It is about 1 square mile in area. And it is so wide that many busy streets pass from within the University area. It is a beautiful place. Full of trees and gardens and fountains. The buildings are very old fashioned with the tallest building being our own Computer Science department building. All the buildings are redbrick type. I have fallen in love with some places like Student Union which where I am sitting right now, writing this. They have benches under the trees where you can sit quietly and do your work. And added advantage is the wireless availability at this place. There are fountains around this place which make beautiful sound of water and reminds me of the days when I used to sit in my balcony back home listening to rain.

There are two libraries I visit often. Both have very nice places for studying. Isolated tables and chairs provide a refuge from the busy places of university. The place is full of multicultural people. I remember the first day of International orientation when every one was asked to identify oneself with the country. No wonder we Indians outnumbered every one else. Even China. Indians were the biggest in number. Followed by China. The orientation was not very eventful and was mainly a series of boring lectures.

----------Coming back to the topic of people composition of the University, there are people coming from various parts of the world. And the roads in the University are always full of people during the weekdays. Apart from cars, people use bicycles and skateboards. The roads have restrictions for everything. Some roads you can’t ride your bicycle on, some roads you can’t do skate-boarding and all sorts of rules to make the life of pedestrians easier. One more interesting thing about campus is the UofA anthem playing at 12 noon everyday. It is a very jolly theme and exciting to listen to. They play it from the top of library and graduate college buildings and it creates a very energetic atmosphere.

It ended here. I think I had got tired of writing. I get bored of things pretty quickly and I am sure I was fed up of this too. So it ended abruptly here! But when I read it now, it feels nice to recollect some of these incidents.