Wednesday, December 29, 2010

Honda Design Philosophy: What we can learn

One of the world’s most successful car companies: Honda.

The lessons that one can learn from such a success are innumerable! Here, I would like to highlight their design philosophy and how it can help us in our work.

It is the design which lifts up the imperfect to something attractive or beautiful. In addition, true design means a design which perfectly satisfies the need for practicality.
-Shoichiro Honda, 1977

Many a times the requirements that we get are imperfect and vague. The customer is sometimes not even in a position to define what is required. It is up to us how we design the business case, the technical architecture, the user interfaces and bring out the best value possible. But, we should not forget the practicality of the solution. Nonetheless, the practicality may not be understood by all, therefore, it is our responsibility to keep it in high priority.

Design has to be a symphony for our eyes. Individual positions must be designed one by one while maintaining a good overall balance. Having said that, if we worry too much about overall balance, there is a risk of making it a please-everyone design with no unique characteristics.
-Shoichiro Honda, 1977

We can re-phrase the line to, “Design should be a symphony to our senses”. The way we work and the work we do should give us a good feeling. Even a simple work such a making a ppt is sometimes ignored by many. We should realize that every small step towards a project builds up the image in the customer’s perspective. Hence, every detail should be designed well to maintain an overall balance. It is important to note that our objective should not be to get a please-everyone design but to get a good overall balance while giving attention to details.

Man Maximum, Machine Minimum

How many times, we notice that we depend a lot on jargons and technical terms. These jargons and technical terms are no more than machine parts for us. They are necessary but not in excess. In the end we should ask, have we conveyed our idea to the consumer? A consumer for a BA can be the technical lead or programmer. A consumer for a consultant can be the client. A consumer for a UI lead can be the end user.

Tuesday, December 28, 2010

Marching towards extinction

"Only 1411 left"

When we saw this, we all wondered what was it all about. And then we were enlightened that India is left with just 1411 tigers, and if we don't do anything about it, then in some time, we will be able to see them only in photos and videos.

The long Christmas weekend was enlightening for me as it brought such thoughts to my mind. There was just a small difference, I was not thinking about tigers, rather, I was thinking about Bachelors. The species of bachelors are being eliminated at such a rapid pace that by the end of 2011, I don't think there will be a single one left.

This year the most tragic month was November. Every single day, my hand used to shiver when opening my FB account. One or the other mutilation story was up there. There were nightmares of a world without Bachelors. What will the world look like?!

Interestingly, the world  around disguises itself to make us feel better. In one of the discs, there were a good number of "Bachelorettes". But as one inched closer to them the ever honoured Sindoor nicely touched up by the make up was in your face. I could see a live example of how Lakshmanrekha would work on Bachelors. There is no better repellent that a simple vermilion.But my full sympathies go for the species of my kind. Where else do we go?

The few of the kind left in this wilderness, find no peace on the weekends. They wander about in shopping malls, movie halls, FB, gtalk or they huddle around in closed group booze parties. They keep away from their phones and never think about going homes to see their parents. They know that they will be slaughtered at the first sight! They keep hearing news that another relative came down with a proposal from a neighbor. When they call back home, out of guilt for not calling for long, only one line gets repeated invariably every time:

"अब तो तू settle हो गया है | लड़की देखना शुरू करें ?"
("Now that you are settled, shall we look for a bride?")

They worry about what will happen if they agree to lie on the deathbed. They ask around in hushed tones.
"How is the married life? How is it going?"
And they get the answers in even more toned down voices,
"Everything is great man!" (As if We don't know!)
"Life is good. We went to @$$%$#& and had loads of fun!" (Ya ya, no daru, no ladki. You have always been a naturalist!)

And then they give us the impression that they are really enjoying their life. So, just as old friends we invite them over a party on weekend. And as usual we get the replies of why not, see you over the weekend! But friends change a lot.....

On Saturday morning you get the msg: "Not possible, got some work"

So, on monday morning on a gtalk chat you ask what happened and you get the reply:
"यार महीने का सामान लाना था |"
"उसके मम्मी पापा, चाचा मामा, बड़ी बहिन, छोटा भाई......आ गए |"

You sort of get the feel of the life to come. And you start wondering how long before you will also be caught....Just then you see the municipality van coming to your neighborhood. Someone must have complained about the increasing number of stray dogs menacing on the streets. The municipal worker chases the dogs, puts a ring around the head of the dog and ruthlessly pulls it towards the standing van. The dog gives the best fight possible, but the metal ring only gets tighter, tight enough for not even the bark to come out. The van finally leaves, and the dog looks back at the streets, only a few minutes ago the dog was running around jumping with joy!.....

The feeling lingers on for the day......And then you get call form one of the rare species,
"आज रात कहाँ पार्टी है?"

You forget about the weird feelings. You don't dare check the FB status messages for the fear of getting another bad news or the same old rhetoric question,
"When are you getting married?"

You just put on the fist T that comes to your hand, pull out one of the jeans from the to-be-washed clothes pile, pick up the bike keys and leave for the streets...............

Thursday, December 09, 2010

Snippets from Life

I was super excited to meet my Di and her hubby for the first time after marriage. But, the last minute invitation left me wondering what to take along as a small gift. At last I thought that a tie and cufflinks would be the best gift easily available in any big clothings store. So, off I went on my bike to get them. The tie was easy to choose. A black tie always works well for any man! And then I asked the sales girl "Where can I get cufflinks?". Salesgirl says," What are cuff....". Alright, I explaied to her that cufflinks are like buttons of shirt to be worn on the sleeves. She says, "Sorry sir, we are a big shop". I said, "So what?". She says, "Sir, we are a big shop, we don't keep buttons. Please go to a tailor shop to get buttons!!"

The whole idea of becoming a BookFish Champion for Bangalore chapter sounded like I won a title of sorts. But, it was not long before I realised that this fish has long been out of water and almost everyone was a champion! Anyways, so we kickstarted the activities again. One of the first sessions was on India After Gandhi. We got some 15 serious peopple for our book dicussion. And the whole topic was vibrant enough to keep people engaged beyond the 1 hour sessions. So, we decided to go ahead with one more session on the same. But, the real "champions" woke up from their slumber and growled at us:
 "I propose it is better to avoid topics that can be associated with politics, religion, sex."

Meeting with IIM Lucknow batchmates after a period of 6 months was refreshing. The interesting moments were watching Ballu depressed, Mooli excited and "mysteriously" dissapearing,  Ashu puzzled over million of invitations, Anshul wondering who the "girl" was, Roshan diplomatically answering "hmm" and Ayan fantacizing his loliness in his one room set. Ballu made some fingerlicking chicken specialities and promised to serve us in many more parties. But, the best part was the gambling on the floor over Teen Patti. Ashu took over 5 hours to convince everyone that Poker was a better game than Teen Patti. The game lasted for just 4 hours. And yes, like any gambling many a people lost their entire earnings on the game, and other walked away with the booty. Well the whole booty was a matchbox full of matchsticks!!! :D

Friday, October 22, 2010


अब इंतज़ार नहीं होता |
हर पल साल जैसा लगा करता था, उन बीते दिनों में,
अब इतना इत्मीनान नहीं होता ||
गुमान था हमें अपनी सहनशीलता पर |
अब उस गुमान का मैं वजूद खो बैठा ||

Tuesday, October 05, 2010

Towards Financial Inclusion

India has been sleeping for long, but not anymore. One initiative after the other leads to one conclusion, that India is yearning to leapfrog the world leaders.

The latest initiative is the new system in place that allows free funds transfers. (Although a couple of us already knew about it through the discussion with Viral from UID office). National Payments Corporation of India(NPCI) is leading this initiative which will enable 24-hours payment system
allowing free remittance to any account across India.

We know about a couple of mobile fund transfer facilties functional around the world:
- M-paisa in Kenya
- Wizit in South Africa
- Smart Cash in Philippines
- Intra-bank in US and UK

How does this differ from the present payment gateways?
The system in place will work in collaboration with banks and telecom companies. This will not tie up the systems with any banks or telecom operators, hence giving it the required flexilbilty to scale up. Seconly, it will be free to use ulike the Visas.

What will happen to the Visas and Master cards?
Time will tell!

What do you all think?
I am waiting to hear.


Monday, April 19, 2010

Delhi : There is always place for one more!

Delhi is daily explored by millions of eyes, perceived in new ways by every mind and thousands of articles, books and blogs try to frame Delhi in their own words. So being in Delhi for long, I could not stop myself from writing a short ode to this great place in my own words.

For me Delhi has never been just a place but a living organism. I know it is an organism for many but then the personality of this organism is what defines Delhi for me. It’s daring, it’s individualistic and above all it’s “accommodating”. “Space for just one more” defines Delhi for me.

The up and down going lifts are so omnipresent in Delhi malls and the housing societies. You get into one, suddenly 2-3 more people press the open switch and get in. Then some more get in while the life is just about to lift. Then, some more… Then the 2-3 earlier people realize that the lift is going up rather than the way they intended it to go: “down”. In such a pressed situation, they find humor and say, “Koi nahi, baad main jagah nahi milegi!” And then 2-3 more try to get in, although they find no space except shifting vertically or just accommodating by breathing in! As the lift cries “overweight!!” the new entrants look around for those who are not able to bear the press and body heat. And definitely they get a few mere mortals who alas think of using the stairs to go up using the stairs.

Driving in wide Delhi roads is a pleasure, but the real fun is down the narrow bends and busy streets. Even the cycle riders drive with so much passion for speed and thrills that it is a must watch. The rickshaw pullers park their vehicles with pride on the middle of the roads just to get his hourly dose of Gutka. There are surely more daring stuntmen on Delhi roads than on the X- Games till date. And amidst all this one has to maneuver the car with the best skills at hand. Suddenly one may find someone bringing the car from the opposite side (I mean the wrong side of the road :) ), but it will not be his fault since he was only trying to save some petrol (One has to understand since he was driving a gas guzzling SUV all alone!!). And you may be at fault if you try to show anger or don’t give way to this another simple Dilliwalla, since you are not trying to adjust. Try to give some space yaar!

Metro is a real boon for Delhi. It is such a delight to enter an air conditioned medium of travel for going around to places in this sweltering heat. Gone are the days when killer buses were the main mediums of traveling besides maintaining a population check. With the metro, the least expected was some decency. And one is not disappointed; surprisingly Dilliwallahs do show some decency once on the metro platforms. After listening to the repeated announcements, the crowd does allow the people getting down, the first chance. But then, the impatiens creeps in, in milliseconds. Some people try to squeeze from the sides and others try to make a tunnel through the outgoing crowd. I learnt about the tunneling in VLSI, but it was here that I actually got to see it :P. And not to mention you will again be the culprit if you come in between with these innocent travelers, cause they are only making the way by offering you the first chance.

Another repeated announcement is that, “Please leave the seats reserved for women and elderly passengers”. And yet another accommodation! An elderly woman asks a male passenger sitting on such a seat to please let her sit, and the request doesn’t go unnoticed. She is given a seat :O but only after the man asks his adjacent passenger to shift a bit and make some space :D. Now what’s wrong in that? After all he is such a nice and accommodating Dilliwalla.

Hum jahan khade hote hain line wahin se shuru hoti hai. Another live presentation of this statement is seen everywhere right from the morning Mother Dairy crowds to the PVR movie ticket queues. If there are 10 people, then, not surprisingly 10 lines will be definitely there. The great Q manager is handled no better than the wooden stick on an ice cream, although here is holds nothing. And if at all there is a queue then there will be a body right behind one who is pressing to such an extent that you can feel a second skin on your back. The idea of space between two people, remember the one arm’s distance in school parades, is still unheard of beyond those school parade grounds.

Then there are millions of other instances on every corner which demonstrate this unique personality of Delhi. Two cars stopping right in the middle of the road to discuss something. A truck reversing on the great 6 lane fast traffics; yet another moment of glory for the Schumacher on the Delhi roads to maneuver clear of these obstacles. Traffic police ignoring the cycle riders jumping the red lights. And the greatest of all according to me: zooming the car right in front of a renowned dhaba, calling the vendor with the flick of a hand, ordering a Butter Chicken with 2 Tandoori rotis, rolling back the car windows with AC running on full, putting the Punjabi hip hop music on full blast, rolling down the windows again and shouting, “2 Thumps Up aur ek tandoori bhi laga do”, space for more?? And you got to experience the Surround sound by standing right at the center of all this, that is at the dhaba stall, with around 20-25 such moving discotheques around you. But there is always space for one more :)

Saturday, April 03, 2010

Temple of Worship: 2

Boredom on a Sunday morning took us on a small pilgrimage to another temple of worship. This one was in one the busiest places in Delhi and for those who are not aware of busy streets in Delhi it is like walking against the tide with hands and legs tied down. But our will power was just strong enough for us to move ahead and execute the plan. We were in the vicinity of the place looking for a place to park our car, when some one (that too in Delhi!) informed us that the place had its own parking place. We felt luck already in our favour as this was not likely in such a rush hour, our worrisome faces turned upside down into wide grins.

Much to our amazement the parking was not just available but it was free! Now that is what I call a grand welcome in such a place. As we interested the compounds of the temple, we were asked to deposit our shoes in either of the two shoe collection centers. Yet another surprise awaited us as we saw well educated people and old ladies on these counters who not just collected our shoes for deposit but touched them on their foreheads as a worship of gods.

Once we had parted away with our shoes we moved forward towards the temple. A jet of water on the entrance cleaned our feet. And pieces of cloth were made available to us to tie on our heads as a mark of respect. We moved with the other people, and they were not heading directly for the temple but towards a stall. We moved with them and found that prasadam was available to be given as chadawa inside the temple.

Finally we made our way to the main entrance of the temple with our hands joined together in due respect and prasadam held in between. We were hypnotized by a faint music being played inside as we reached the doors. It was not just the coolness of the air inside but this aura emanating from an omnipresent magnetic source that pulled us apart in all directions. What was left with us was just kindness, love, compassion and respect for everyone and everything around. We moved around aimlessly and sat mesmerized by the music for unknown number of unforgettable moments.

As the temple musicians stood up, we realized that the music had come to an end way earlier. It was just the smiles and the laughter around which kept the rhythm flowing. As we stood up we were directed by some people to have some food in the common room. And here we saw astonishing scenes as we sat among hundreds of fellow humans, all looking to share joy and good life rather than just eat food. A surge of around 100 more people was not a problem for this place as more carpets were rolled down and more plates were put forward. No one was denied the entrance to this feast. It is difficult to please the taste buds of everyone, I was sure that everyone would be left asking for more. But I was again in for a surprise as no one was left without having a stomach full and some even had their Tiffin full for those at home.

We returned from this trip to find a new life in our selves. I cannot define what was so great about this place. Sometimes one cannot feel where one is, or what one is there for, or what time of the day it is, or as a matter of fact what one actually is. One is left as a fearless spark of life capable of lighting up the world with it power of love. I came out of this place believing I was one such spark of life!

Temple of Worship: 1

We entered the premises of this place of worship and were welcomed by knowledgeable children running around asking them to be hired as guides for the tour. Surprisingly, it was the school hour and these children were, may be, too knowledgeable for the schools too. Helplessly and with exactly the same reasons we go for free credit cards, we had to hire one of these buzzing children to guide us. And the results were almost the same, we got not one but 2-3 guides free alongside.

The main temple was not to be seen without bowing our heads to various other temples on the way. Surely, India has millions of gods, and may be the highest in terms of gods per square kilometer too! The key people of these temples of worship were excited to see the first disciples (or the first customers) of the day. Suddenly they into action! As if the Maharaja himself was on the rounds, we were given utmost respect and were asked our names. Surprisingly, next in their questionnaire was the name of our hometown, place of birth, mother’s name, father’s name…. Our confusion ended with the end of his chant, “And now Shrimaan Ankush will pay Rs. 100 as prasadam”. I said,”…”. Yes, this had me speechless, I had only heard about this, now witnessed it first hand. I said, “I don’t have it.” He asked, “How much do you have?” I said, “Rs. 20”. Another chant and I was lesser by Rs. 20 in my wallet. The priest felt victorious, after all his gods really pleased “him” for the day.

Meanwhile, our guides were running around playing hide and seek. As we asked them to take to our main destination, we were again taken aback. The guides pointed to the direction and said they are not allowed there, so we have to now cover the rest of the enlightening journey by ourselves. Thankfully we were guided not to take in our cameras and mobile phones inside the main temple. And of course we owed them the fees. Now, their faces now seemed to emanate the same aura as the priests inside.

As we walked on, we felt that the journey was yet to begin. We were suddenly surrounded by a feeling of fear. There were policemen all around, some smiling, some just chattering around sipping tea and some chewing gutka. And, we had some eyes following us down to the corner of the street.

The security check-post was another beginning. First we passed through our classic metal detectors. I think they are made up of 2 things: an old door frame which was found inappropriate for houses and a beeper which beeps whenever someone passes across. Some technology! And when there is a detector, the next security person surely passes his hands around on your private parts. And the awful feeling is not because of the feeling of the hands but rather because of the smell from his mouth which is a fermented mix of gutka, tea and the aloo paranthas of yesterday. And, God only help you, if he doesn’t burp straight into your mouth.

I thought the worst was over. We were herded into a metal cage tunnel. It was a long tunnel made up of metal mesh of around 7 ft. height and 4ft. wide. The twists and turns took us into another security check! Again, the metal detectors. And, again the hand frisking! I tried to clam myself as I thought that this is nothing to visit the greatest holy place. This time my wallet was also to be tortured. Toilet paper was examined by the security personnel as if I was about to blow the place with it. And finally he decided to throw it away. And we were pushed further into the maze of metal mesh.

We had a great view in sight now: an army, many more policemen, and some old ladies who could not walk fast and were fat enough to block the 4ft wide metal tunnels. Although our minds resented the idea of coming to this place, our hearts were full of compassion and love for god to overcome all this. We heard the ladies chanting slowly and we tried to join in and motivate them forward.

And, here it came, the 3rd security check! I felt like running back but to my dismay I could see the metal tunnel on my back. Metal detectors! Hand frisking! Wallet checking! And this time, my driver’s license in a plastic cover was an issue. The license was Indian so it was passed across but the plastic cover could be “a potential weapon” so it was retained back. Move on…

We moved on with the crowd. Now, all points of discussion were also over between us. And, finally came the moment of enlightenment. As the metal passage expanded from 4ft wide to around 10 ft wide our attention was caught by the big artillery pointing toward us from our left hand side. There was also a big security of around 15-20 men and women pushing people further. We heard them shouting to the group of ladies before us, “Idhar kya dekh rahi ho? Right mein dekho aur Badte jao. Chaliye maaji, keval aapke liye nahi khola hai” (What are you seeing here? See to your right, and move on. Move on mother, this is not open only for you”). Yes we were also “privileged” to see the “God” on our “right” with our own “worldly” eyes. God was visible for only about 1-2 seconds but it such was a “glorifying” experience!

Wednesday, March 31, 2010


I swam across oceans,

I crawled across deserts,

I trekked the highest peaks,

I crossed great rivers,

I ran bare on fire,

I walked naked on ice,

I have been a king,

I have been a prostitute,

I killed many,

I killed myself,

I create my gods,

I wear my religion,

I am a great friend,

I am a bit better, enemy,

I lived for ages,

I died million times,

I followed the sun,

I was outrun by the nights,

I stopped....

I let the darkness to prevail....

I thought....

I meditated...

I introspected....

I stopped fighting the lies....

I was in the darkest of the nights...




Faint light within, then shone on the mighty me,

I now knew, why stars are not visible in the electrified city,

Truth was again facing me,

But, I fear the cycle to repeat.....

My will power suppresses the fear,

I wipe away my dry tear,

Hope has kept me alive,

So I know, hope will again show me the light....

Saturday, January 02, 2010

1 Hour 30 Minutes

The time on my watch is 5:30pm. The class is just 1 hour 30 minutes long. (This is me, the real me)
1 Hour!! 30 minutes!!! (This is me, the inner-self)
You mean 90 minutes!!!!

What are you going to study?
A subject called ATSC.

Creepy. Isn't it?
Not quite, after doing 5 semesters of MBA studies, ATSC doesn't seem to be all that scary. ATSC is just Applied Theory in Strategy and Competition.

So no funny expansions for ATSC? You guys are famous for those.
Who has time for expanding everything. And then you can burn your gray cells for thinking of some expansions. Gray cells are valued assets not to be wasted on matters of zero ROIs. And don't disturb me! I have made up my mind to concentrate a bit on the game theories and transactions costs. I want my full worth from the MBA program!

Fuck off!

Some theories explain cause and effect in different contexts. Example are perfect competition, duopoly theory, monopolistic competition, TCE, agency theory, game theory, real option theory, RBV, KBV of the firm etc. (This was the teacher......With all due regards, I don't know why teachers always sound similar to cheaters........almost replaceably!!)

The time on my watch is 6:00pm. My eyes have been following the average cost function, the total cost function and every curve on the slide. Now, the other part of me.....

That's me! :P I will take over now!! :D lol! ROFL......ROFLMAO
Nooo!!!!! I won't let it happen. Take deep breaths. Deep breaths help to increase the oxygen supply to the body and in turn keep oneself awake.

Why do I see everyone turning back ?
Everyone looks at the watch on the back wall to check what the time is? Everyone is damn bored after studying the same damn strategy for 2 years. It started off with the first class in hel(L). And I think the last class will end with it.

But dude, they already have watches on their hands!! Then why are they looking at the wall clock? Is there something special?
I look at the wall clock and at my own watch. I repeat this foolish exercise twice to answer. No, there is absolutely no difference in time. Maybe a difference of 1 minute. But that is it! Then why? I try to apply theories and globes......

When you looked back twice to observe the time on the wall clock and then match it with the time on your hand watch. What did you do? You exerted pressure on your body (you craned your neck back and forth) and mind (calculated the difference between the observed times). So, you kept yourself from dozing off to that another world. Wow!

But there is something romantic about the way things go even in this boring class. The way people around you look, back and forth. You again look at the watch. Do you remember your love? M.... :) How do you feel? You always get lost in her eyes.

Her eyes, black, pitch black. Almost like the black holes of the universe. Un-noticeable. Negligible. Ignorable. But when you see closely, or get tooo close, they attract you. You move into them powerlessly, like a weakling, defenseless, frail, paralyzed and vulnerable.

You again look at the watch. You again think about her. The pain of parting was not enough. The expectation of someday meeting her again keeps you alive in an even more excruciating pain, making you feel debilitated. You again look at the wall clock. Maybe the wall clock has the answers. In your own words....

घडी घडी ,घडी पर नज़र।
कैसा है ,ये तेरे प्यार का असर।

You are crippled. And you are crippled by a force which has an increasing rate of return. That's love! You can't plead for death. Running away was never the answer. You can only plead for life. Since, life will bring along moments. Moments to remember her. Moments to expect her. Moments to see her again.

But you can plead for something else too....

घडी घडी ,घडी पर नज़र।
कैसा है,ये तेरे प्यार का असर।
ना मचा तू इतना ग़दर।
अब बस कर, बस कर, बस कर॥

So, tomorrow we will do the case on Bird's eye and UK frozen food industry. Thank you.

So the class is over?
Of course! See it was that easy to attend the 90 minutes of this distressing class. I told you. I am trained to beat these tortures. But, why don't I recall anything after 6:00pm? Anyways, it was all globe. But what happened?

घडी घडी ,घडी पर नज़र।
कैसा है,ये तेरे प्यार का असर।