Ode to my little brother

ImageI’ve changed his nappies. I’ve made him cry. He has made me slam doors and scream my lungs out.

He has made me happy. He has made me proud. He has made me feel like the best human being on the planet.

He has shared secrets with me. I have given him good advice. I have given him bad advice. He has protected me. He has supported me unconditionally.

He drank his first beer with me. He hated it! Now he loves it. So if he ever becomes an alcoholic it will be my fault.

My brother is one of the most sincere, positive, generous, and open hearted people I know. He is also one of the most creative people I know –- except for when he designs his own tattoo. Thanks to me, he now has the coolest tattoo ever. His thoughts, my advice = great result. You are welcome, Anish.

He has a precocious mind. He knew what he wanted to major in, in the eighth grade. His first short story was published when he was in grade 10. He started his own business with his friends when he was 15. He is a football fanatic and I know he will work and excel in that industry one day.

He has numerous unique, multi-dimensional skills:  Intelligence (he passed his CFA the first time round, after studying only for a week!). A diligent and responsible work ethic. Can dance hip hop, rap and bhangra equally well to the same song. Can sing without embarrassing anyone. Superb design and video-editing skills. Taught himself to play the guitar. Can cook Indian food (!). Can do the tough-mudder.

He is amazingly patriotic, even though he hasn’t really lived in India. That feeling along with his talent, could make him a game changer for our country. I hope India doesn’t disillusion him irrevocably.

He has taught me to believe in who I am by always looking up to me. I feel a responsibility towards him as a big sister; it helps me make decisions sometimes. He is the most mature 24 year old I know. I won’t make big decisions without his opinion. He inspires me in many ways.

I hurt when he is hurting, and also when he acts stupid. I want to protect him, but still be the cool big sister. A tough balance to keep.

I worry who he will marry, only because in my mind no one will be good enough for him. But I do hope he finds genuine true love and is able to keep it for life.

He was born on my request when I was 9; I was a lonely child. He is the best gift my parents could ever give me. I am blessed to have him as my brother, and really wish he didn’t live 13,334 kilometres away.

Happy Raksha Bandhan, my dearest brother. I miss you.

From search engines to knowledge engines

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(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 Void.com

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.

Back? Maybe!

I have to, HAVE TO get this blog running again. I miss it a lot. I’ve just got myself an iPhone4 (yaay!) on which I have downloaded the WordPress app, so I hope it will push me to post something. Like this post, which is nothing really but something! Will have to get used to this touch pad though, my wrist isn’t responding too well to it.

Stay connected for something soon.

Tantalizing India

So I haven’t written in almost 4 months. Disgraceful, I know. No good excuse really. Anyway, I was sent something recently that did make me want to take the effort to write; perhaps posting this information nugget will spur the desire to shake awake this blog again…I dunno. Anyhoo.

3 Indian boys have decided to take some time off to travel every state of India: 16,000 km in 18 days; according to the Limca Book of Records, this has been done in 19 days, 23 hours — the guys plan to beat this.

It’s not often that you read about Indians taking time off to undertake traveling feats. When I was sent a message by the boys themselves, it was such a refreshing read that it got me quite excited for them. I’m a slow traveler, so am not envious of them traveling through 28 states in 18 days (they’re not going to see anything!) — but hey, it sounds like a fun time-challenge that will certainly test their limits in numerous ways. They will learn a tremendous lot about themselves as well as about the roads in our Bharat mahan, and they may even become new record holders.

You can read more about their trip here on their blog that will be updated regularly from their journey that begins on June 16; you can also follow them on Facebook.

They also seem to have done some cool stuff in the past. Ummm…not quite sure what, but they have some awesome pics from whatever they’ve done that you can look at here.

Good luck, guys!

On a separate though relevant note,  a site worth checking out if you want to backpack around India: oktatabyebye.

Update and thought for the day

I’m not doing very well with my resolution to write more on here. Oh well. Just got back from a lovely holiday in Japan and Taiwan. Went to visit two of my close friends who showed me the best time. I’m really lucky to have some awesome friends. Hopefully some posts should come out of the trip — I took notes on my holiday for the very purpose. Now just need to get my act together and write.

In the meantime I’m leaving you with a liberating quote. Found it on Facebook;  Googled it, didn’t find it anywhere so no information on the who’s and when’s.

It’s in Spanish and translates to: “Life protects those who decide to be free.”

Richard and his song

This is a story that reiterates a fact that we often forget: persistence and passion certainly pays.

I’ve known Richard for over 10 years now; we went to university together.

He was a big-talker, and not a good singer (sorry Rich, but this line is key to the story). I remember listening to him sing at uni and thinking, oh dear, someone please tell him that singing isn’t his thing — maybe he should just pursue playing the guitar, or playing golf, that’s where he has scope.  But, crushing someone’s passionate ambition is the most horrible thing you can do to a person. He wasn’t as bad as the crackpots on American Idol. He’ll figure it out, I thought.

And he did. He knew what he wanted and kept at it; nothing could stop him. Belief in himself and sheer desire to write songs and sing, today has lead him to have two bands, regular gigs at public live-music nights, and a recent appearance on Dubai One TV (which you can watch here). He sounds fantastic. The song you will hear is one written and composed by him, and very him indeed. And I love it.

If you like what you hear, you can often catch him at Peanut Butter Jam on Friday Nights (at Wafi).

Lesson: Any talent can be nurtured. All you need is the desire and discipline.

Wisdom teeth out!

After at least 5 years of pain (and procrastination), today I finally got two wisdom teeth taken out. Knowing that I was going to do it this week, made my week go quite bad. The thought of it gave me nausea and I didn’t have much of an appetite.The internet lead me to read many good but many more bad stories. I instantly bonded with people on twitter.com/oralordeal and, if nothing else, didn’t feel alone. And the number of YouTube videos!? Jeez. Didn’t have the courage to watch any of them. Why would you even put that on YouTube.

But I was really worrying for nothing! My fantastic dentist (Dr Sangram Singh at Canadian Specialist Clinic) pulled them out in 6 minutes flat. I kept my eyes closed the whole time. The only pain I felt was in the beginning when he was numbing my mouth with the injections; and when I saw the cotton gauze full of blood, I felt a little giddy – perhaps because that’s when you realize that a tooth has been yanked out that’s why you are bleeding. As you can see in the picture (sorry if I grossed anyone out), I had large wisdom teeth. But it’s not like they were giving me any wisdom. Why do we even grow things that are not useful? Like fingernails, or earlobes.

As I write this, the right side of my face is still numb. It’s a weird sensation. I can’t speak properly, my mother is finding it very entertaining. Eating ice-cream with a half numb mouth isn’t quite as enjoyable either. I’m told that once the local anesthesia wares off and the pain kicks in, that’s when I will be cursing. But, I’ve taken the medication, so hopefully it won’t be excruciating.

Anyway, I’m glad it’s over and I have a weekend to recuperate at my parents house with loads of TLC and ice-cream.

Yes, I will be putting them under the pillow for the tooth fairy!