Day 5. Post 5. I’m allowed a blab.

It’s past midnight. I have just come home. I’m exhausted and have no energy to write. BUT, the good thing is, what felt like an eternal writer’s block is slowly disappearing. I now have a few good post ideas floating around and I’m excited to develop them.

Writing everyday is not easy, whether you have the time or not. But, since I’ve committed to it and started the process, everything I see, or read, hear, smell or feel makes me wonder how I could turn it into something interesting to write about. And suddenly stories start coming to my mind. I have to be switched on all the time and lock in what I’m going to write about everyday, or I’m never going to live up to this self-inflicted 60 day 60 posts challenge. I say it like it’s painful, but it isn’t. It’s glorious to be writing again, and to have people read what you write and react to it.

The challenge is to not only write, but to write something of some value. Something that your readers will find interesting, amusing, inspiring or entertaining. Good writing often needs additional reading, some research, perhaps a visit somewhere, and better organisation of your time so you can fit in what you need to do, to write more than a personal blab at the end of a long day – like today 🙂

Tomorrow will be a better writing and less blabbing day. 


From search engines to knowledge engines


(Photo credit: PK Gulati’s facebook page!)

Yesterday I had the privilege to listen to who I would justifiably call a genius of our age – Amit Singhal, the guy in charge of coding Google’s search algorithms.

A fascinating subject, Singhal explained the basics of data on the internet and what Google is doing to turn the information we receive through search, not only into knowledge, but a step further into wisdom.

He said that a key issue today is “quality noise” that needs smarter engines to understand things, not just strings. Every year, Google undertakes 500 improvements to improve search with the aim of giving us the most locally relevant results. The ultimate goal is to be able to give us concocted wisdom on any query we search for. The recent launch of Google’s Knowledge Graph is a step towards that. He believes that 5 years down the line, machines will have gathered enough artificial intelligence to compete with human intelligence. This will completely change how we operate by adding a different level of efficiency to our daily lives.

He also said that he sees a future where we wouldn’t even need to take the effort to come to a device and type to search; it will all come to us in an easier, more natural way. Perhaps he is referring to voice search and Project Glass.

What was also great about the session was the quality of questions asked by the audience. Questions were on how social media affects search, to which he said that it will perhaps increase in influence, however social search is still in its infancy. On the subject of Google owning the content Vs just directing the user to the original source, he said that people actually want the results to be original sources, showing not much benefit for Google to own it. And on the subject of search engine optimisation that digital agencies undertake for clients, he said that by actually helping build websites that are better read by search engines, the service is doing a favour to them as long as it is not abused. He also said that Google ads do not and will never have influence over organic results.

The recent debates over Google removing information upon government requests was also a great question posed, which Singhal answered by saying that Google needs to abide by the laws in the countries that they operate and content that goes against those laws is removed on request. However, they are transparent about why content was removed in their transparency report.

I have to mention here that he was beautifully media trained.

The talk and Q&A were intriguing and coming straight from the horses mouth, definitely a rare opportunity to experience that. He managed to inspire even the two kids who attended it with their Google t-shirts on, to ask him smart questions infront of a 150+ sized audience. Organised by dear friend PK Gulati Managing Director and CEO of TiE Dubai, I left the room feeling lucky and inspired to have been engaged with the smartest man in technology today.

Incredible Times

Courtesy: Hugh Macleod, Gaping

If you are looking for some inspiration and are out of resources, subscribing to Hugh Macleod’s Gaping Void cartoons is a good place to start again. His cartoons, more often than not, hit hard the spots they need to hit.

His J.K.Rowling type of story definitely inspires, as do his daily thought-cartoons (above) and his book: Ignore Everybody.

Sometimes it’s all you need to get that kick you need.

The essence of his new book called  Evil Plans: Having Fun on the Road to World Domination is best summarised by the editorial review on Amazon: “Freud once said that in order to be truly happy people need two things: the capacity to work and the capacity to love. Evil Plans is about being able to do both at the same time. The sometimes unfortunate side effect is that others will hate you for it. MacLeod’s insights are brash, wise, and often funny. “

Another book to add to my “must read” list.

Bachchan struck at Dubai Film Fest

Working on the Dubai International Film Festival is as exhilarating as it is exhausting. My main role has been to manage real-time updates from the festival, i.e. live-tweet /Facebook from the event as much as possible. Fun, eh? Anyhoo, with a million things happening at the same time, my responsibilities extended into doing anything needed on site in relation to PR, and helping handle the red carpet.

Honestly, I am not at all star-struck, never have been. But, when I saw Amitabh Bachchan get onto the carpet I was like a little child overwhelmed and excited by the tangible presence of one of the most saught after stars on this planet. At 67, he looks great and sounds even greater.

I was right up the front of the celebrity carpet where I was put to take a picture of every talent and upload to Twitter instantly. Amitabh Bachchan was the first celeb to arrive and the next thing I hear is “Abha, please walk Mr. Bachchan down the red carpet.”

WHAT!? ME? OKkkk! Omg. So awesome.

I stood next to him on the red carpet for atleast 15-minutes. Neither did he look at me, nor did he acknowledge my presence. I did give him the occassional poke when his publicist was pushing me to get him to move quicker through the media (very uncool), but those pokes were conveniently ignored. Obviously. I’m lucky he didn’t growl. Anyway, it was still awesome. I’ve grown up admiring Amitabh Bachchan; being physically next to him was surreal and just simply cool.

I have no proof or tangible evidence of this little event other than this ridiculous picture of the back of our heads.

I frantically searched online to see if SOMETHING was there that put me in the same frame has AB, only to find a video of him at the red carpet with, again, the back of my head. Argh.

It’s ok. It’s all in my head.

The second best highlight for me at the festival was being able to watch the world premiere of the first Emarati feature film on Dubai – “City of Life”. Excellent film about many realities of this city that are not often talked about. I will surely review it soon.

The Dubai Film Festival is on till December 16, so if you haven’t checked it out yet, do give it a look — some really cool films are playing.

I’m here!

This transition phase of moving from Madrid to Dubai has added to my schedule a number of silly yet important things to do. 6-hours of Spanish a day and doing the bare minimum blogging for other websites, among the silly yet important things to do, has left me tired and numb, so not quite motivated to blog here. (I prefer being numb to being sad, is that a bad thing?)

This week is a little crazy. I have a training day at the Madrid office of the company I’m joining in Dubai, as well as the DELE Superior Exam the coming Friday. The probability of me passing the exam is equal to the probability of me failing it, so I’m just going to see what happens and not worry about it. Did I tell you it’s a 5-hour exam!? They really test your ability to concentrate for that long more than anything else.

So do bear with me for the next few weeks. Once finding some ground in Dubai, I hope to blog about more concrete things that affect me, and the world around me. Until then, incase you wanted to know:

– I got red highlights in my hair.

– I finished reading Como Agua Para Chocolate (excellent book) and have started reading Isabel Allende’s El Reino del Dragon de Oro (The Kingdom of the Golden Dragon).

– I gave up the job as Dubai expert for Planet Eye.

– Sent out 21 postcards from Madrid to dear ones. (I really enjoy sending postcards!)

– I watched Kika, Amorres Perros, Princesas, Los Habitos Negros, Flores del Otro Mundo, and El Nido Vacio. All GREAT Spanish-language films.

– Took a Typhoid vaccine.

Peace out for now.