Thursday, July 29, 2010

Ladakh - Day 8 - The lake Before Pangong - Preparation For The Big Surprise

The descent from Chang la is long and very scenic.

“Grassy slopes where Changpa nomads camp with their herds of yak, sheep, goats and horses. The camps are run mostly by women who milk the yaks (rather naks as the female of the species is properly called) to produce vast quantities of cheese over the summer months. Goats are sheared for the prized pashmina (cashmere) wool.”

That’s from the travel guide…

It gross injustice to use any one word or phrase to describe Ladakh – desert, mountains, snow, hill region, poplar, Buddhism, Monastery… because Ladakh is all of that and much more that words cannot describe, because every kilometer, the landscape changes.
This I have already mentioned.

The drive to Pangong too was very different from other parts of Ladakh.

The shades of the picture were mostly pastel and the texture was soft and smooth. There was a little more polish and refinement to the landscape than other parts…soft effects, special effects too…

Snow, more snow, frozen lakes and streams…

Pale yellow and green pastures with yaks, horse, sheep and cattle grazing in small herds in the distance

Marmots in the region…

As u approach Pangong, a small beautiful lake heralds the great waterbody.

That’s Fee, yours truly and Tim standing before the lake while Nicholas took a picture

You pass by a gorge of limestone cliffs
Stretches and stretches of smooth sand – perhaps this was once the bed of a lake or a river

This is the first view of Pangong after which the blue lake disappears behind the cliffs before reappearing again in all it’s splendour.
There is a signboard that proclaims it and people stop here to take the ‘first picture’.

Monday, July 26, 2010

Dilbert - The Joy Of Work - Scott Adams

Most of you would have read the Dilbert comic strip.
Well, Dilbert is this fictitious comic character created by cartoonist Scott Adams.
I was surprised and delighted to know the guy is an author too.

It would be difficult for me to write just one paragraph of humour. I dont know how someone can author four books of humour and that too on the same subject - office work.

The joy of work is Dilbert's guide to finding happiness at the expense of your co-workers. This is not a book to be reviewed but to be read and enjoyed.

Since this was light reading, I chose this one for reading in the cab.
It is hilarious. Sarcasm and exaggeration at their culminating points.
As one might imagine, the book isn’t just a collection of cartoon strips. There is a lot of text organized into chapters that contain strips too that are related to the topic/chapter.

It’s a sort of empowerment guide to a victim office goer. Dilbert is completely on the side of an ordinary worker while running down, bosses, supervisors, managers and the top management. Of course, in a funny way.

There are parts of the book that make you fall from your chair and roll from one end to another in laughter. And then there are the others that are just okay.

Will mention the names of a few chapters to give you an idea.

Managing your boss
Cubicle sex rumours
Cubicle yoga
More sleeping tips
Pretending to work
Laughter at the expense of others
Starting false rumours for fun
Pretending to be psychic
Office pranks
Surviving meetings
Managing your coworkers
And so on…

For background,
Scott Adams spent 9 years as a necktie wearing corporate victim assigned to cubicle 4S700R at the head quarters of Pacific Bell. He lives in Northern California.

That explains all the jargon, the terminology u8sed in this book, that is typically the lingua franca of an IT/software professional.

This book therefore would be appreciated mostly by IT professionals.

Perhaps there is one percent truth in the scenarios and suggestions found in this book and 99 percent exaggeration.

I will end with this extract from the book. It was one of those parts that made me fall from my chair and roll from one end to another in laughter. Almost.

As we all know ombudsmen (or HR personnel playing the role of Ombudsman ) who are appointed to arbitrate in disputes, conflicts only cause more annoyance and irritation to already annoyed employees by offering no clear solution and giving general ambiguous HR gyan that makes you feel like slapping them.

So the author suggests that we should make use of the ombudsman to have some fun by asking questions on ethics like the ones mentioned below.

Questions for the office ombudsman
- every one of my co-workers is mentally undressing me. It makes me feel like a … what the… what are you looking at?

- one of our vendors gave me a sports utility vehicle. But it’s not the colour I wanted. Is it okay if I kidnap his dog?

- when I phone in a bomb threat to the office, is it wrong to use my company calling card?

-I discovered that my boss has been embezzling from the company. Should I stop dating him?

-My travel allowance for food is 30 $ per day. Can I spend some of it on drugs if I eat them?

And by the way, Scott Adams defines Ombudsman as the combination of ‘Om’, a spiritual thing, ‘bud’, an alcoholic drink (Budweiser, I think) and something called ‘sman’!

Thursday, July 22, 2010

Paradox Of Growing

Recently my manager called me to tell me that we had won that project for which I had been doing some presales work. The deal was valued at just fifty thousand rupees. But we were jumping.

We are a 200 people company. It’s like a family. We are attached to one another. Everyone’s working hard so that one day it will become a 2000 people company. We think of that day often and we believe it will come soon.
When we win a project or a client, we are overjoyed no matter how small the project value. Because we are happy for our company. We are happy for our bosses who work 14 hours a day. Our heart goes out to them.

The other day he showed me our growth plan graph with numbers doubling and sometimes tripling annually; 500, 900, 1800, 3000, 5000, 10000 and so on… we smiled at our own eagerness to get there… we felt such delight at the thought of this dream turning into reality.

And then, as I returned to my desk, I found myself pondering….

The Paradox of Growing.

When we become a 2000 people company, the atmosphere will be so different.

Alienation, the characteristic feature of all superstructures will smite us too.

Nobody will know one another.
The small family of now will then become a giant with too many strangers. People will become mere headcount.
A certain charm will be lost.
We will know only a few people around us.
There will be a long hierarchical chain between us and the founders with whom we so closely associate now.
Numbers will become mere statistic, except our own salary figures.
There will be so many verticals and so many transactions - we will lose track of projects won and lost, leave alone care about them.
Struggle will become impersonal.

We will no longer be emotional about the company, like now.

Yes. That’s the paradox of growing.
We are emotional about the company and that’s why we want it to grow.
But once it grows, we may no longer be emotional about it.

Is there a way we can remain at charming 200 while making the kind of profits Infosys does?

Tuesday, July 20, 2010

Ladhak - Day 8 - ChangLa Pass - On The Way To Pangong

To go to Nubra and Pangong, you need a permit since the areas are close to Pakistan and China borders respectively. A 7 day permit is usually arranged by a travel agency for 150 rupees or so.
We started in the morning. I, Fee(German), Tim(Korean) and Nicholas(French). As I have mentioned earlier, I mer Fee as I was standing in a queue before the SBI ATM in Leh. She had aleady teamed up with Tim and Nicholaas and they were looking for one more person to share the taxi and the expenses with. And I was the lucky one.

So we drove down the Manali highway past Shey and Thikse after which the taxi turned left. Since the rest of them hadn't visited Thikshey, I asked the taxi to stop at Thikshey so they could take a picture of the lovely looking monastery perched on a hilltop.

We stopped at a junction where the road forks – one of them going towards Hemis and the other towards pangong – and had breakfast at a small roadside shop. Tim and Nicholas had parathas I think of which they had already had a taste. Tim had learned two phrases ‘Achha hai’ and ‘Badhiya Hai’ which understood to mean good and great respectively. Whenever she used them, everyone was amused.

As we proceeded towards Shakti valley, there appeared in the distance Chemde monastery perched on a hill. This monastery was not part of the deal and hence I had to be content with a few pictures from the taxi window.

Continuing ahead past Sakti, a large village with its fields sprawled on the wide snaking valley , a spectacular sight when you look back as the road climbs out of the valley…

Thats a marmot

You head towards Chang La Pass, the third highest motorable pass in the world (17290 ft).
There is a military post here.

You get free tea in a military shop. There are signboards that warn you not to stay longer than 20 minutes. Oxygen is very thin and breathing can get difficult.

There is snow as far as eyes can see. I touched freshly fallen snow and was delighted like a child. Light, powdery, white and fairytale like.