Sunday, October 26, 2008

One Month Already? [Rant alert ! ]

I've been in Karachi for more than a month now and I don't know why my life still feels like a roller coaster ride. It's not like I wasn't expecting it ... Like all families, my family has it's own share of idiosyncrasies and issues (did I mention that I live in a joint family system? ) Combine that with a rather unstructured way everything works in Pakistan and with the fact that I've almost no friends over here. I've been having really crazy mood swings over here. Some days I'm extremely cranky and ready to snap at anybody who says anything to me, and then I start feeling guilty and become mad at myself for behaving like that. Some days I feel depressed when I think about the future, my career and etc (this can be cross-referenced with the point about my crazy family above :p) And then there are good days when I feel hopeful and optimistic and all becomes worth it.

So, I know the above description of my life sounds as if I'm suffering from bipolar depression. I've always been somewhat of an idealist and an optimistic person. There are so many things around me over here that are wrong, improper and inefficient. A lot of things are not according to my taste or liking and I keep asking myself 'How does my family live like this.' I have this continuous urge to change things, to make them better but change is hard. Especially when it's against a system that's so deeply entrenched in the daily life over here. It'll take some time ... either I'll be able to persist or maybe just give in to the system. I'm sure you must've heard the story about the frog who jumps out when you put him into a pot of boiling water. But if you put that same frog into a pot of cold water and then heat the pot until it boils, the frog stays in there and never jumps out.

Anyway, I've still kept my old job. The only difference is that now I work from the basement of my parents house, all by myself. My laptop computers, a router, a vonage phone, a cable modem and a dsl modem all sit on an old discarded dining table. My mother keeps complaining about all the wires that run all around the place and the maid manages to disturb something in there almost every time she comes in to clean the place. I havent been able to get an airconditioner installed in there because a carpenter needs to come in and create a wooden wall in there so that I could have my own little office there (everything happens very slowly here) I could go on and on about all these small ISSUES I'm having here, but I dont think I have a right to complain as the good always comes with the bad and a lot of it just needs a little bit getting used to. So I'm just going to plod on and work my way through this. I'm grateful to my friend Sam. K from Kansas City who sometimes bears with my, out of the blue phone calls and listens to my rants and my moody behavior.

btw, golf instructors are CHEAP here in Karachi. I paid Rs. 400 for one hour of instruction by a pro at the DHA golf club. Thats only slightly more expensive than a decent meal at KFC !! And I'm already hitting straighter and farther :D

Tuesday, September 16, 2008

And people ask me Why !!!

Over the last few months I've been bombarded with the 'Why are you going back?' question. My response which is usually along the lines of 'I want to live with my family' doesn't seem to satisfy them. The incredulous look that they give me is often followed by something like:

  • You're crazy dude ... who wants to go back to that hell hole.
  • Or ... Are you sure that you've thought through this properly?
  • Or ... Are you having immigration issues?
  • And ... I'm sure you'll realize you're making a mistake and come back running after a few months.
All of that is usually said with a smug and/or arrogant look on their face. They like telling me about countless Pakistanis who went back and then decided later that they had made a mistake. I obviously being quite stubborn have stood my ground and insist that me and my situation WILL be different.

There have been only a few people who actually actually understood this urge of mine to move back to Pakistan. And I'm really grateful for that. I got the much needed support from them. After living here for almost six years, Dallas seems more like home than ever. All the quaint little oddities of this town, the dismal performance of the Dallas Mavericks and fun filled memories seem so endearing now. Playing golf every weekend, RV trips to Colorado, hanging out with great friends, road trips on long weekends, having Wii Boxing tournaments with friends and the list goes on. Life seems so perfect sometimes and then as soon as I talk to my father or my mother, everything I have over here begins to look kinda mundane and selfish. I dont think I'll ever find contentment over here regardless of how successful I become or how much money I make.

So here, I'll tell you why I've decided to move back; In ONE line and a link.

I do NOT wish to end up like the guy in this blog post.

p.s. And since it's the month of Ramadan, please remember me in your duas.

Thursday, August 28, 2008

How marketing is done !!

Haha -- I came across this on my computer while I was cleaning up some old files ...

A couple of years ago there was a sudden rush of adrenaline when me and my friend Younas got bit by the entrepreneurial bug and the result was this really interesting promotional brochure that I created in MS Paintbrush ...

It sounds funny now when I read it after such a long time ....

(Click on the image to enlarge it)

Wednesday, August 27, 2008

Strategy Vrategy

Strategy Strategic Alliance

Strategic Analysis Competitive Strategy Strategic Thinking

Strategic Direction Business Strategy Marketing Strategy

Strategic Planning Strategic Management

Growth Strategy Strategic Change Corporate Strategy

blah-blah Strategy. . . . . . Strategic Goo Goo

You know .. when you were a kid .. there was always a word or a phrase that got so popular, and everybody who was supposedly 'cool' would be using that phrase to sound cooler than they really were. Well things are no different now that we've grown up.

The word 'Strategy' is being thrown around by anybody and everybody these days. Now I understand if I hear the CEO of a fortune 500 firm talk about business strategy on Bloomberg tv but what if your 10 year old son tells you that he's trying to make strategic alliances amongst the neighborhood kids . When I was in business school, all I would hear from my class mates and teachers was the word 'strategy' in it's different form and variety. Even our dean used this word several times during his speech at our graduation ceremony. I didn't realize how infectious it was until I found myself using the word 'Strategic Direction' with my friends Younas and Aman in one of our weekly meetings for Pkstudent. I immediately felt guilty about it ... just like when you find yourself caught in a stupid fad .. and realize how senseless it is.

The firm where I work right now is filled with OLD people who've been there for several 10+ years. I've sat with them in a lot of what we'd call 'Strategy Meetings' but I have NEVER heard them utter the word 'Strategy'. Apparently, it's just a bug that the newer generation has got bitten by.

I think the only other word that would come even close to being thrown around these days is 'Social Media' ..... Go Figure!!

Monday, August 18, 2008

Expendable !!

Who is Expendable ??
Were the words I heard as I walked past the conference room at work.
It was the company's CEO's voice and he was waving a printout of an excel sheet in front of a senior manager.

The glass door of the room was closed, so I couldn't hear the rest of the conversation. But those two words had quite a chilling effect. I had been hearing about the firm's financial troubles, but I didn't know it had gotten this serious.

I've known several people who at one time were trapped in companies in the middle of layoffs or acquisitions and I remember them displaying helplessness about everything happening around them. Some of them worked their butts off hoping that the 'Recency Effect' would work in their favor while others updated their resumes and chatted up their LinkedIn contacts in search for a new job.

Since this was now happening to me, I decided to tap into the internal grapevine and went out for lunch with the director of my department who is coincidentally the only other Pakistani in the firm. He confirmed that the layoffs and/or salary reductions were the only course of action left for the firm to stay in business. But he did mention that I didn't have to worry about it as I was not within the axe range 'SO FAR' (his words). He said I was too underpaid anyway to be of any significance to the bottom line :P

Gee -- as much scary this situation might be, the optimist in me is already looking at the possible opportunities. With my move to Pakistan only a month away I think the time is ripe to push even more within my organization to think about outsourcing their menial IT tasks overseas.

So bear with me folks as I gear up for the choppy seas ahead. I'm going to try and keep this blog updated so that I can have some outlet for all the pent up energy.


Thursday, June 05, 2008

An interesting way of thinking about a startup

During his lecture, a Texas venture capitalist showed a really interesting video to demonstrate a startup company in its early days.

In this video, the safety of all four team members depends on perfect co-ordination and communication between each other. If one falls down or starts acting selfishly, the others could potentially get hurt.

And according to the VC, in his thirty years of experience in this industry, he found out that most startups end up the exact same way as this video.

Enjoy!! and be worried :p

Saturday, May 17, 2008

A late night post

You know sometimes when you're sleepy ... but don't want to go to sleep just yet. It's 3:40 am right now in Dallas ... and I just dont feel like sleeping. It's as if I'm trying to stretch the evening as much as I can to keep the inner peace that I've been feeling tonight. The quiet hiss of the air conditioner over the silence in the apartment seems to have a tranquilizing effect and when the air conditioner goes off .. I can hear sounds of me breathing in a strange calming rhythm.

There is probably another reason why I don't feel like sleeping. Tomorrow I'm gonna walk in my grad school commencement ceremony. And surprisingly, I'm not excited about it. First of all, I haven't really graduated yet officially because I still have to take classes during the summer. I decided to walk early because I wasn't sure if I would be here in Dallas in December, when the next commencement ceremonies are going to be held. Secondly, a lot of my friends and some aunts/uncles are going to be there at the ceremony to cheer me on and all their support really means a lot but there's this nagging feeling that I had for the last few days that I couldnt figure out. I should be happy about this right? But instead I'm actually dreading this thing. And then it finally hit me ... I have worked really hard for the last two years to get this degree. Full time school along with a full time job was one of the hardest things I have done so far and I'm extremely proud of this accomplishment. Coming from a family of businessmen, ever since I can remember, I knew that my father wanted me to get my MBA. A lot of career related discussions revolved around the idea that I'd one day get an MBA degree. I remember him telling me over and over about the son of the owner of HKB in Lahore (they were our customer at that time) who did his MBA from LUMS. And my dad was obsessed with the idea of me doing the same thing one day. It was his idea of the highest academic achievement the son of a businessman could get.

And he made sure I got the best education possible .. sometimes even if it was outside of our financial realms. It's just amazing that he never said no to anything I wanted (ofcourse within limits)

And with their Duas and Allah's grace, I've achieved all this that my parents had always dreamed of. And then tomorrow, when I go on stage to get my degree, I sooo want them to be here with me to share this proud moment. I want them to be proud of what THEY have accomplished during their whole lives by raising their kids to become what we are now. And in my mind, it really should be all about them. If they are happy and proud and content, I'll automatically be happy with them. And that really dampens my mood about the graduation tomorrow because they won't be here to see the grand finale of this whole so called formal education path that started many years ago at Les Anges Montessory School, Lahore.

Thursday, April 10, 2008

A Blogging Hiatus

Lately, it seems like I'm getting pulled in several different directions and I never have time to do everything that I'm supposed to do. Plus I'm at an inflexion point in my life where I'm not sure where I'll end up. And even though there's only a handful of people who check this blog ... I still feel a little guilty of not keeping it up to date. When I started blogging, there were about 20 blogs that I kept up with, and now only 4 of them are still active. Which tells a lot about soul barring/rant heavy blogging in the long run. They don't often scale over in long term unless you write about something purposeful that you feel strongly about.

I actually miss reading about lives of strangers (spread all around the world) who felt like friends because I followed their blogs & they followed mine. But now I feel like it'll take too much effort to find new people to follow. So I just follow a handful of tech blogs which gives me enough material to read while I goof off at work or fill space on sleepless nights.

So, I think I'll take a break from blogging for some time. I still do a lot of writing, but that's being done at . It's more purposeful and more rewarding than my usual ramblings.

In the meantime, help us spread the word about and if you'd like to volunteer - email me.


Friday, March 21, 2008

Good Friday

My DirectTv (satellite tv) suddenly started showing HBO even though I haven't subscribed to
it. (Technical glitches in hi-tech equipment can prove to be good sometimes)

Got a coupon for two free games at a hi-tech driving range called top-golf. So you can guess what I'll be doing tonight after work.

Just received my new cell phone that I ordered a couple of days ago. And no, it's not an iphone. After using brick sized pdas/phones for a few years, I've actually transitioned towards decent sized cellphones (Still a smart phone though). I'll have to spend this weekend bonding with my new phone :p

I've got plans to go watch the Indian movie 'Race' today. Lets hope it's as good as the trailers make it sound.

And last but not the least .. it's FRIDAY!! I've had one helluva week .. so I'm looking forward to getting a little R&R this weekend.

Tuesday, March 18, 2008

LUMS - Comics

Came across this blog during one of those pointless browsing at work .. it's pretty funny and does bring back some memories of LUMS.
Here's some of funny ones.

The girl in the above picture reminds me of my best friend Aman. You would have thought that this tendency to outperform all his peers would end after he graduated from college. But NO! During the ski lessons in New Mexico last weekend, he was with us in our group of eight friends. And while the rest of us were still trying hard to stay on our feet and not fall down, Aman was gliding down the slope (almost effortlessly) and became a favorite of our ski instructor. It felt like I was back in one of our classes at LUMS where Aman would be asking all these ridiculously advanced questions to the teacher, while the rest of us sat there giving him murderous looks .. lol

*edit* btw, I exaggerated that a little ... Aman is one of the smartest people I know but he continues to underestimate himself. I think his down to earth nature is what everybody loves about him ... (if I were a girl, I would have ended this with a 'Muaah') LOL

Tuesday, March 04, 2008

I'm a nomad .....

I've moved so many times in the last 5 years I've been in the US.
And I moved again last weekend and while I was lugging a huge couch up to the 3rd floor, I decided I'd write a blog post about my moving experiences that I might one day read and laugh about. Here it is:


Comments about the Apartment

Reasons for Leaving

Feb 2003 - Sep 2003

In Arlington, TX

First ever home of my own. I shared the apartment with my cousin and set it up (like a typical bachelor pad) It was a lot of fun and I did my first cooking experiments there. Being the place of my own, I’ll always have fond memories of the place.

One of my best friends from Pakistan moved to Arlington, so we decided to get a bigger apartment.

Sept 2003 – April 2004

Still in Arlington, TX

A nice place with a view of the pool. And the rent was soo cheap – it wasn’t long before we found out why. The apartment complex was highly subsidized by the city to provide housing for the less fortunate (read unemployed – I’m trying not to sound racial here) people.

The neighborhood was so bad I remember that I used to hide my laptop in my dirty clothes basket when I would leave the apartment because I was afraid of a break-in.

April 2004 – Dec 2004

Arlington, TX

Moved to a nice apartment complex. Decided to spend a little money on furniture to make this place look like home. Another friend moved in with us from Tyler but soon left afterwards.

My cousin bought a used mattress which was accompanied by tons of bed-bugs. After they spread out to all our furniture (and several failed fumigation attempts) we decided to trash all our furniture and move.

Dec 2004 – June 2005

Still in Arlington, TX
Back to a small apartment with no furniture.

I finally graduated and got a job in Dallas. Since my roommates were still in college, we decided to get a plan halfway between Dallas and Arlington.

June 2005 – November 2005

Irving TX

A really huge 3 bedroom apartment with a view of the pool again. We all pitched in to buy new furniture for the apartment and swore we wouldn’t move again – even though it felt like we were living in the middle of little-mexico. :p

Little did we know that God had other plans for us. One sunny Saturday morning, our neighbor burned down the whole building. Luckily I was able to get out of there in time with one shoe on and my work laptop. (my personal laptop died in that fire *sniff sniff*

November 2005 – June 2006

Irving, TX
The apartment complex gave us a smaller apartment that was available at that time.

Note that we were back at square zero without any furniture.

My cousin also graduated and we decided to split with our other roommate (due to differences in opinions) and we moved to Dallas

June 2006 – April 2007

Dallas, TX

A nice little 2 bed, 2 bath apartment in a predominantly white neighborhood with our own country club, lakes, jogging trail and a bar !!!

We bought furniture AGAIN !!!!

My cousin decided to move back to Pakistan and I decided to move to a place of my own.

April 2007 – Feb 29 2008

Dallas, TX

Still in the same neighborhood and living by myself. Life got a little boring at this time.

Got bored and when a friend decided to move in this area, we decided to get a place together.

March 1st – present

Just moved in this new place last weekend. It’s an awesome place and we again have a view of the pool!! We bought more furniture here – lets see how long this lasts.

Lets see what its going to be this time. I have a feeling it’s going to be soon !!!

Friday, February 08, 2008

Feeling emotional?

I was in my car last night, driving at around 40 mph - It was dark, cloudy and the road was almost deserted. The radio was blaring but I was lost in thought about yet another peculiarity of life and was barely listening to the babbling of the radio DJ.

And then this song came up. In the backdrop that I just described to you above ... the song was just mesmerizing. I hung on to every single word and could feel the emotions behind each sentence. It was a feeling that I can't replicate again even if I listen to the song a hundred times.

So if you haven't seen 'Tare Zameen Par' go check it out.

Friday, January 25, 2008

Data Center art !!

Now we've seen almost all kinds of art .. but i can assure you that you havent seen this.

Now for a little bit less aesthetically pleasing data center sights .... or u can call this a network admin nightmare :p

And a totally random treat for those of you who don't keep your monitors clean:


Thursday, January 17, 2008

D x V x FS > R

One thing that you would notice about engineers is that they love equations, formulas and proved theorems. If you don't believe me, try this: Ask an engineer for help with a simple math or physics problem. You will suddenly see the guy's mood become brighter as he warms up to the challenge and jumps right into the problem (This is how geeks reminisce about college -- Instead of fraternities/parties/spring breaks.) The final answer would consist of some extremely advanced formula or theorem that you've never heard of before and you end up being more confused about the subject than before. (And this is how they show off ... lol)

Unfortunately, there aren't any formulas to help us out in real life (e.g social situations) BUT I attended a seminar last week in school in which we discussed a couple of frameworks to deal with a few particular situations at work.

The following information will be not new to you. In fact, we all do this unconsciously in our mind, but I thought it was cool to have it written down as a framework.

For example, when dealing with an issue at work/writing emails use the following framework :
What is the issue?
So What impact does it have?
Now What can you do?
Who needs to be involved?
What are the First Steps needed?

A safe way to provide feedback to a friend/colleague/team member:
When you describe behavior the impact on me/group is ____ .
I feel Describe a feeling (Cannot start with 'that')
What I need from you is Result

Clear mis-understanding:
I assumed _______ because of ________.

Never use the following phrases :
Get over it.
You shouldn't feel like that.
Don't take it personally.
What ever !!

And if you're wondering that title of this post meant:
D x V x FS > R
Dissatisfaction x Vision x First Steps > Resistance