amitbhatnagar on December 22, 2010

As some of the readers of this blog may recall from an earlier post, I definitely have the most common Indian first name in our generation. Not convinced? Here are some statistics:

  • In my undergraduate institute, I had five Amits in my class. And this is just about my stream “Computer Science and Engineering”; I am not even trying to count the Amits from other streams, but the number should be at least 12!
  • In the first year of engineering, we had to share hostel rooms: four guys in one room. In my room, there was one guy named Achal, and three of us were Amits! The hostel had a common phone for incoming calls from families of students (Most of us didn’t have cell-phones at that time), and one day in the very first week, when my roommate Amit Verma turned up twice for phone calls meant for Amit Bhatnagar and Amit Sachan, he instituted a rule: The callers should be asking for the person they want to talk to by their last name!
  • At Adobe, I was one of five (or maybe six, I don’t remember correctly) Amits in my team. At company level? I don’t have the exact number, but the internal directory of the company had a maximum limit of 32 results for any search string.The last I searched for “Amit” as the first name, I maxed out the limit!

Anyways, when I got an admit to a B-school in USA, I was very sure that I should no longer be worried about this. In US, it should be the Johns and the Mikes, who should be facing this issue, not the Amits. Right? Unfortunately not! In Goizueta class of 2011, we have four people named Amit. Actually, it appears that Goizueta has a history of admitting many Amits. There were 3 Amits each in classes of 2009 and 2010 too!

I used to find solace in this fact that at least I don’t have a common last name; certainly, A “Bhatnagar” is relatively harder to find as compared to a Gupta, Kumar, Patel or Singh. But this changed when I joined Goizueta, and didn’t get a firstname_lastname email address for my official school ID, as I had a namesake from class of 2008. (Yes, another “Amit Bhatnagar”!) I was a bit disappointed, but still, I didn’t foresee the repercussions of this event.

Quiet often, my teammates sent across their drafts for team-assignments to the wrong Amit Bhatnagar; I missed birthday parties and Club leadership meetings; And at times, I was deemed unresponsive when mails supposedly addressed to me went unanswered.  And these are all the instances, where I actually got to know about this and explain the situation. I’ll perhaps never get to know how many people hate me for ignoring their mails.My namesake perhaps doesn’t check his mail quite often. And when he does, he has every reason to get irritated! The first time I got to meet him, he expressed his irritation: More than a year after he graduated, he had suddenly started mails requesting him to complete specific questions in team assignments! Anyway, by the end of the first year, everybody knew that just for official school mails, I am “Amit A Bhatnagar”. The problem was mostly over, and I had already seen the worst of it.

Or so I thought! Recently, I appeared for an interview with one of my target companies. After the first round, some of my friends got invitation for the second round, but I didn’t. Instead, I got a message from the company’s travel agents to book my flights (which I guess was for the second round) When I contacted them, I got to know that I had indeed made it to the second round, but perhaps, the HR lady, while sending out the invites, followed the regular firstname_lastname format for all the Emory guys, and hence missed my actual mail ID. Anyway, I booked my flight and got ready for the interview. At the pre-interview breakfast, we had an introduction session, where each of us had to share some elementary information and a “fun-fact” about oneself. I couldn’t think of a better fun fact than this, and everyone had a good laugh at my situation! But more was to come: the fun-fact for the girl sitting next to me! Believe it or not! Her husband’s name is “Amit Bhatnagar” (Yes, a third one!) and people in the common interview invite list were thinking that both of them were appearing for the same interview! Now, this was really unbelievable, and had it not been a formal interview session, I would have thought that she is making it up! (As an aside, her husband turned out to be a good friend of my brother-in-law and an “orkut friend” of mine, whom I had added six years back, just because I found someone sharing my name! Small world indeed!) By the way, do I even need to add where did the email for the offer letter go, once I cleared the decision round? I am sure you must have guessed that!

So, dear readers, when it’s time to find a name for your kids, think about my story twice and don’t go by popular superstars’ names (I am assuming the commonality of Amit in our generation is thanks to Mr. Bachchan’s popularity in the seventies and eighties). Try finding names in other languages maybe. (I suggested a Japanese name for my niece)

Do you have any such experiences with your name or other common names? Do share such stories in your comments. Maybe that will help me feel better 🙂

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amitbhatnagar on December 18, 2010

The hunt started some time in summer of 2005, when for the first time I thought of having a place that I can call my own. I found it, stayed there for a little longer than a year, but decided to move on in the second half of 2006 to a place that I spent a lot of time at: almost three years in fact. But I always knew that it was temporary, and finally, I have found a place, which I know I will stick to, hopefully for the rest of my life!

Well, if you thought that I am talking about finding a permanent place somewhere in US after landing a full time position here, then, I successfully misled you in the wrong direction. (If not, pardon the bad joke! :-|) I was actually talking about my new homepage: amitbhatnagar.com. 🙂 The first time I started blogging in summer of 2005, like most bloggers at that time, I created an account on blogger, and got my first homepage: amitbhatnagar.blogspot.com (which still exists). Due to some technical glitches on blogspot, I lost control of my blogger account. And I am glad that I did! Because that’s when I moved to WordPress ( I wanted to have a personalized URL, and bhatnagaramit, abhatnagar, amitbhatnagar1 and other such variations were already taken.) and created my new blog at amitbhatnagar.wordpress.com. I really liked it, but it was only when I created a personal website for my MBA application blog, that I discovered the power of WordPress. By the time, I overhauled the student blog (again wordpress-based) of my school, I had started loving WordPress.

By this time, I knew that I wanted to host my blog at my own website, but amitbhatnagar.com was not available. So, finally, when this summer, I found that this domain is available, I immediately grabbed it! And a few months later, with multiple experiments with themes and WordPress plugins, I am finally ready to launch my own personalized website. Well, right now, it’s just a blog, but hopefully, some time soon, I will be adding more pages to it making it a complete website.

Considering how many times I have promised to be regular on the blog and failed, I won’t promise anything this time, but at least, I will try . Do share your valuable feedback in the comments section and keep coming back, as I continue my “Race Towards Infinity!”.

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amitbhatnagar on December 11, 2010
Originally posted on the course-blog for "Strategic Decision Analysis"

As I had mentioned in an earlier post too, I interned with Manheim auctions during the summer. Prior to that, I also worked on a GMSC project with them in Spring 2010 semester. Although almost whole of the time during these 7-8 months, my work was with the home-office, I got a chance to visit the live-auctions twice. It was a fascinating experience, and you have to be there to believe how exciting an auto-auction can be. Typically, a car gets sold in less than 30 seconds of hitting the auction floor!

Anyways, that’s not the main point of this post. Actually, I want to share something, which I observed multiple times on both occasions and found quite interesting. As I look back now, I know that I can explain in Jedi-terms what was happening there.
Okay.. So here is the sequence of what I often saw:

The seller starts the auction at a particular price. (Let us say $24,000)
Nobody bids.
The seller drops the price successively ($23,000, $22,000, $21,000) till he finds the first bidder, who bids let’s say $21,100
The bids starts coming in now: $21,200, $21,300, $21,400….
You will expect that the upper limit in this case would be $21,900. Right?? After all, the seller didn’t find a single buyer at $22,000. No! Surprisingly, more often than not the winning bid will cross the prices, which originally found no takers! And don’t be very surprised, if in a case like this, the winning bid crosses the seller’s originally asked price.
Two interesting observations here: Normally, in an auction, you will expect the seller to start at his reservation price, and expect the auction to take the action from there. Here, since the seller has the option of lowering the reservation price, you will often see the sellers start from well above their reservation price, as seen in example above. Second observation is even more interesting, the one pointed out in the last step of above sequence.

What exactly is happening here? My guess is that the buyers are simply avoiding the Winner’s curse, or at least minimizing their loss from the same. If they bid at $24,000, and win it because of no further bids, it’s the case of Winner’s Curse. They may feel that they have just bought a lemon, and they don’t even exactly know how much loss this is going to bring to them. However, in case the price is lowered, and the auction-action has brought the latest ask-price to $24,000, they know that at least one other buyer was willing to pay $23,900. So if the other buyer’s estimate was correct, their loss is no more than 100 bucks! So even if the Winner’s curse hits them, it may not be that hard for them!

Specifically at auctions at Manheim, a good number of their buyers bid online through a webcasting channel called Simulcast. These buyers do have factual details about the car, but since they are not present at the auction, they may rely on reactions and bids from the people at the live auction before launching their first bid.

I was trying to find a video on YouTube that illustrates the above phenomenon. Unfortunately, I couldn’t find one. But this one does come close, and will give you a fair idea: Manheim Auction. See the car that comes in at 1:15. Original ask price is $26,500, which quickly drops to $22,000, from where it starts getting bids. Finally, the car is sold for $22,900.

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amitbhatnagar on November 27, 2010
Originally posted on the course-blog for "Strategic Decision Analysis"

This summer, I interned with Manheim Auctions, world’s largest B2B auto-auction company. In addition to my internship projects, I also got a chance to read a lot about auctions in general. One of the articles that I read introduced me to the concept of sniping, where one of the bidders places his bid at the very last moment, giving other bidders no chance to outbid him. Sniping works only in auctions with a fixed end-time, which is the case with most online auctions.

To make things clearer, let us take an example of an English Auction, where three bidders A, B and C place a value of $9000, $10000 and $5000 respectively on a car being auctioned, each of which is much higher than the car value for other bidders. If the auction proceeds in the usual way, the bids will start at the seller’s reservation price (let’s say $3000), proceed in increments of let us say $100, and increase to A’s max value (=$9000), and then, B will outbid him by placing a bid of $9100, and win the auction. This is the usual story.

The twist in the story comes, when A decides to play a sniper, and will completely ignore the auction game being played, till the very last minute. So, the bid starts as usual at $3000, other bidders gradually drop out, and the game is down to two players: B and C. B outbids C at $5100. When the auction is in its very last minute, just when B feels confident that he is going to win, as no one has challenged his bid for last two hours or so, A makes an entry placing a bid of $5200 and steals the game from B.

As expected, B feels cheated. He was ready to pay up to $10000 for the car, but due to sniping by A, he doesn’t even get a chance to do so. The seller feels robbed too! Part of the auction’s magic is how the selling price gradually builds up, when two final players compete for the item. If one of them is absent for the most time, the items sells for less than what it could have sold for.

Sniping is rampant on most auctioning platforms. In fact, many sniping services and software have popped up in the market now, which do sniping on your behalf. As expected, sniping is frowned upon by both sellers and all non-sniping buyers, and although some companies in some regions (Ex: eBay in Germany) have tried to ban it, it’s not easy to prove the intent. How do you differentiate between a sniper, and a casual buyer, who just happened to check that the car is about to be sold for a price that he can happily beat?

eBay’s proxy bidding system is an answer to sniping. (Of course, beating the snipers is not the main objective of the system. It is also time-saving and convenient for the buyers) This combines the elements of second-price auction with the regular auctions. The main auction proceeds as the regular incremental English auction, but if you choose to go by proxy-bidding, you enter the max value that you would be willing to pay, and from then, onwards, the system will play on your behalf. (In the second price auctions, you pay the bid by the second highest bidder, here it is second highest bid plus the minimum incremental bid). It literally takes 0 seconds for the system to place a higher bid on your behalf.

Going back to our car auction, even though A may have entered in the last minute and placed the bid of $5200, the proxy bidding system, playing on B’s behalf, will beat him by placing $5300 and winning the auction for B, the deserving winner. Thus, the sniper can win only if he had bid beyond B’s max willingness to pay.

You may question that though this is fair on the buyer’s side, the seller is still not much better off with this system, getting just $5300 instead of $9100, which he could have got in a fairer world. You are partially right, but the idea is that when A loses out again and again, this may act as a deterrent for him in future. He doesn’t know B’s max WTP and may think that he could have got it for maybe $7000, had he played fairly. Once the snipers know that they are failing, and become regular players again, the fairness of the game will be restored, and the seller will get his due price.

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amitbhatnagar on November 12, 2010

“Segment! Segment!! Segment!!! Never work on market level averages. Average distort reality!”  A very common advice in the B-school especially for those who have taken Market Intelligence or are preparing for consulting case interviews. But it is surprising to see how often the real world businesses completely ignore it. Not sure whether they are not aware of this, are too lazy to go ahead with an extra-level of data-analysis, or maybe (actually, most probably), they actually want to “distort reality”.

Case in point is the cartoon that I located in USA Today last week:

US Today: Spending by significant others
Well, I am not sure if this study has any significant meaning for the reader. The source that says “1000 adults 18 and older” doesn’t help either! Maybe education and income level may have been an overkill, but I don’t think it would have been too tough to present the data by gender. At the very least, they could have shared the breakdown of the people surveyed. It would have been good to see whether the conventional wisdom that women love to spend and men are more conservative in spending is still true or are the things changing. (I think they did try to guess the former of the two possibilities: see the position of the lady and the men relative to the two main data-pieces.

I know that this isn’t very serious topic, but when you are carrying something on the front page of your newspaper, it better carry at least some meaning.

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amitbhatnagar on November 8, 2010
Originally posted on the course-blog for "Strategic Decision Analysis"

On the occasion of Halloween, Yahoo! launched a new game “Shambling Hordes”: a game that makes you a commander of a troop of zombies out to capture enemy’s tomb. Well, I don’t know much about Zombies, and am not crazy about internet games. But what attracted me about the game was the introduction. Here is an excerpt:

Interested in game theory, advanced mathematics, classical economics and budget allocation problems? No? Let’s try again. Are you interested in commanding a legion of Zombie warriors in a pitched battle against your friends and random people online? We thought so, which is why we wanted to let you know about Shambling Hordes, a new social game experiment developed at Yahoo! Labs now available in our Sandbox.

Full details here: http://research.yahoo.com/project/3350

This was sufficient to pull me into the game and indeed, the game utilizes multiple concepts from Game-theory.

Yahoo game Shambling hordes

As I mentioned, the objective of the game is to capture the enemy’s tomb. (And as you might have guessed it, the enemy’s objective is to conquer yours). So on the way to your enemy’s tomb, you keep on conquering new territories. During your move,you can move any or all of your zombies to an adjacent territory. Moves of both players are executed at the same time, so the game is played as a simultaneous one. For example: In the attached image, I have captured four territories, against the enemy’s three, and am well on my way to the enemy’s tomb.

The real fun begins when you and the enemy step on a territory at the same time. A series of three battles ensues, where you have to divide your troops (typically 100, sometimes 105) into the three battlefields: left, center and right. For any battlefield, the group with more zombies win. So if you divide your troops as 33-34-33, and the enemy divides theirs as 40-40-20, the enemy wins the first two, while you win just the last one, and will have to give up the territory in question. Even this distribution game is a simultaneous game, and if you figure out the opposition’s strategy, it may be easier to beat them.

Yahoo game Shambling hordes

For example: when the enemy found that I was trying to “maximize” my chances of winning 2 battlefields by consistently playing a 50-50-0 (or another permutation for same combination), he beat me twice by playing a move like 40-55-5. My strategy had worked earlier, but perhaps, it would have been better to play a mixed strategies game.

There are multiple games going on in parallel: capturing the territories, distribution games in battles, blocking enemy’sprogression (by capturing multiple routes to your tomb) etc. but I would like to mention again that the main purpose is to capture enemy’s tomb. I lost the first game I played by losing the track of the main objective. I had won more territories, killed more of their zombies, won more of the battles, but missed that one of their zombies was nearing my tomb.

I know that this may be getting confusing now. So why don’t you try the game yourself and then, come back and leave your experience as comments? Not often, you will get a chance to play a game for hours, and have no guilt of wasting time. After all, you are just preparing for your SDA class!

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amitbhatnagar on June 11, 2010

This appears to be an old video, but I found it interesting and in line with what we are doing at Goizueta: starting a new Toastmasters Club! Also, since I have just re-joined the Toastmasters family by signing up for the membership of Cox Toastmasters, the Toastmasters Club at my summer employer: Cox Enterprises, the timing for this post is just right!

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amitbhatnagar on December 26, 2009

On Thursday, the most awaited movie of the year “3 idiots” was released. I had liked Chetan Bhagat’s “Five Point Someone”,when I read it in Engineering Final Year, but somehow, after reading “One night at call center”, I didn’t want to read another one by this writer.  I would not have had high expectations from the Bollywood adaptation of FPS, but Hirani and Aamir’s names made sure that I was eagerly waiting for this movie. So I made use of the vacation time and went for the movie right on the day of its release.

To begin, I’d like to address a few comparisons:

  • FPS: Yes, “3 idiots” is loosely based on FPS. But very, very loosely. Except for a few sequences, Hirani could have just made the movie w/o crediting Bhagat (not that I am suggesting this) and it could have gone almost unnoticed. Which one is better? FPS covers college-life in more details, but overall, 3i is much better.
  • Aamir’s earlier movies: A story of friends automatically brings comparisons with DCH and RDB, while attacking the education-system and parents’ attitude makes you recall TZP (in parts). But, a comparison with any of these three isn’t good for any movie. 3i doesn’t even come close.
  • Munnabhai series: No, the comparison is not just because of Hirani-Vidhu combo.  It is the right combination of message, emotions and comedy that the movie shares with Munnabhai –I & II. But, on all three elements, I’d rate 3i lower than at least Munnabhai-I.

But still, “3 idiots” is certainly one of the best movies released in 2009. Especially, if you have ever lived a hostel-life (specifically, an engineering college hostel life), you can easily relate to many things. The ragging scene ( I was lucky to escape most of that), millimeter (We had an equivalent “Chhotu” in our hostel), the technically-named pups: kilobyte, Gigabyte (We had “Floppy”!!) the no-change attitude of most professors: all this and more reminded me of my days at MNNIT. I also liked the jabs that the movie took at our education-system, the rat-race mentality and “What will the neighbors say?” attitude of the parents. I hope that movies like this one and TZP make parents think twice before forcing their wishes on their kids. The acting is top class: Aamir is beyond any comments, but even Madhwan and Sharman were flawless. And like in all his other movies, Hirani plays at will with the audience emotions: making us cry and laugh whenever he wants.

However, there are some things in the movie, which could have been done a bit better. Just after the intermission, I guess the movie goes too bollywoodish: the story becomes a bit less believable. I won’t disclose the post- intermission twist, but another thing that’s less believable is the fact that Rancho (Aamir’s character) goes on to top every exam. Now, anyone, who knows our education system, knows that a Rancho can’t succeed in reality, not in the exams I mean.  I would have preferred him to barely pass the exams (maybe flunk a couple) and then, go on to succeed in the real world. (Remember Rancho’s book equivalent Ryan?)

Also, I am not sure whether the main characters (other than Rancho) were developed sufficiently in the storyline. Okay, Raju (Sharman) is a God-fearing middle class Indian, while Farhan (Madhvan) loves photography. What else? We never really get to know them. If you’re not convinced, compare and contrast this with DCH, which was no doubt Aamir’s movie too, but all three major characters were developed so strongly that most viewers would relate to at least one of them. (And that’s where I feel that the book scores over the movie.)

And the last complaint that I have with the movie is the same one that I had from the book: I think that Raju’s background (Alok’s in FPS) could have been treated with more dignity. I think that there is a big section from the Indian lower middle class, for which good education of one of the kids, serves as the way out to resolve the family’s financial worries. Hirani could have avoided making fun of this segment at every possible opportunity. It made me laugh at times, but still, somewhere it pinched.

BTW, this review would be incomplete without commenting on the music. I think that standalone, the music could have been classified as “nothing great!”, but the way the songs fit in with the story, makes them more powerful. I can easily imagine “Aal is well!!” to be a college-anthem these days all over India. “Zoobi doobi”  looked a bit out of place in the movie, while “Badal Awara” was likable to listen to (Somehow, the music appeared to be familiar; is it “inspired” by some other Hindi song?)  Even if you don’t like the song for the music or lyrics, you’ll certainly like it for the beautiful visuals of the Himachal. The song that I liked best in the movie was “Give me some sunshine!!”  It’s difficult not to be moved by the lyrics. Specifically, the lines “Give me some sunshine, Give me some rain, Give me another chance, I wanna grow up once again!!” are just too good. But surprisingly , the song that was echoing in my mind when I woke up the next day, was the one which I didn’t notice that I liked that much in the movie: “Jaane nahin denge tujhe!”.  I don’t remember such an intense song from Sonu Nigam, since “Tanhayee!!”  (which, BTW, is one of my all time favs).  I have been listening to these two on repeat mode since I came back from the movie. BTW, after listening to the lyrics of all the songs, I was almost sure that this is Prasoon Joshi’s work. (Did anyone else feel the same way?) Anyways, good work by Swanand Kirkire..

Well, as I look back at what I have written, it seems I have written more negatives than positives. This doesn’t mean that I didn’t like the movie. On the contrary, I really liked it, but wanted to point out a few issues that I had with the movie. (And I know that not many share my viewpoint.) I could have easily ignored these, but we expect perfection from every Aamir Khan movie and as he himself said in DCH: “Perfection ko improve karna mushkil hota hai”. Ignoring these minor negatives,  I really enjoyed the movie. Much more than what my complaints above suggest!!

My rating: 7.5/10

PS: Strangely, the imdb page for the movie is not up-to-date. Not only one of the character’s name (Sharman’s character name is shown as Hari instead of Raju) is wrong , but it’s also missing a very important character of Chatur. Last status update was on 28 September 2009. 😮

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amitbhatnagar on July 20, 2009

Has been a long time that I posted something here.. Today too, I have just peeped in to say that moments from now, I’ll be leaving my hometown and in another 40 hours, I’ll be at Atlanta, my home for at least next years.. I don’t think that it’s a news for anybody, who knows me. But for others, here’s the reason: I am joining the full-time MBA program at Goizueta Business School, Atlanta.

I plan to update this blog a bit more frequently, though I am sure that BSchool life won’t give me many chances for that. Still, I think of keeping this updated with everything non-MBA in my life: Visits to places, my stand on political and social issues, Toastmasters speeches and may be some quizzes too.

Where does the MBA-related stuff go? For that, I have a separate blog: http://missionmba.net. The MBA-blog has been more active for last 2 years or so and I expect it to continue the same way for another 2 years. But keep following this one too, I promise to at least try to keep this regular.

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amitbhatnagar on April 18, 2009

Two weeks back, I had to take Chhatisgarh Express again and like always, the train was late. So, I located an empty seat on the platform and made myself comfortable. The guy next to me was almost my age, had a laptop with him and his lappy-bag was carrying a Kingfisher-airlines tag. In sum, he was clearly a software engineer coming from Bangalore/Hyderabad for a vacation to his home, or so I thought. Since it was still more than an hour for the train to arrive, I tried initiating a conversation.

“So you too a software engineer?”

“No, I am not.”

The tone was blunt and the implication was clear => “I am in no mood for a conversation.” So I thought of winding up the conversation.

“Sorry, you are approximately my age and were carrying a laptop. I, by default, assumed that you must be a software engineer.”

BIG MISTAKE!! The guy was already offended.

“So, what do you think? Only software engineers deserve to have laptops? Or can only people like you engineers afford to have them?”

😮 I, of course, in no way, meant anything even close to that. And about the question of affording, in a good number of cases (including mine), the laptops that we software engineers carry are not even ours, they are company property. But yes, I still was quite sure that at least in our age-group, it’s mostly the software engineers, who’re associated with carrying laptops.

“Well, In India, the IT revolution hasn’t caught that much. So mostly, you’d find people having professional uses for a laptop carrying it?”

ANOTHER MISTAKE!!

“Oh!! In India!! And where are you from? Are you not from India?”

“Of course, I am an Indian and I am proud of it”

“Yeah.. It’s very clear how much proud you are. Generalizing everything from the eyes of a software engineer and commenting negatively in public on progress of the country. See!! I am from defense and I hate it when you civilians make fun of India”

Oooh!! So the guy’s from army. That explains his passion for the country. But this time, I was offended, the phrase “You civilians” pinched me. I had heard this or its different connotations earlier too and I find it really disgusting.

But this wasn’t a time for a counter-attack, I thought of setting things right first. I objected to his remarks and told him I wasn’t making fun of the country, I was just looking at things as they are. I also told him about my own feelings for the country and also about what this “civilian” is doing for his alma-mater and society. Within 5-10 minutes of conversation, I guess it was clear to both of us that it’s an argument between two guys, who actually are passionate about taking India forward. But he still wasn’t too friendly. So I gave up saying that I understood that he was upset over something else and hence, there wasn’t any use in carrying the conversation forward. Precisely, at that time, somebody called him up and perhaps this was the break he needed.

After the call, he was a bit mellowed. He admitted that he had missed his train 2 hours back and hence, wasn’t in a good mood. We had a very good conversation then onwards. I told him about my life as a software engineer, also discussed my MBA plans and what I want to do after that. He told me about his life at Navy: how he gave up his dream for joining an IIT and never regretted the decision after entering the National Defence Academy for the first time. Felt really good to see that the government is taking very good care of the defense people. They surely deserve every bit of that for the work they do for the country.

Very soon, the announcement for my train’s arrival was made and I cursed myself for not bringing up the topic about his attitude on civilians in a conversation of about an hour. So I told him about the blog and promised to write about the conversation.

And then he did it again: “May be someday I’ll see your photograph in a newspaper as a successful businessman and realize that this was the guy I fought with. You seem to be a good guy. If even some of civilians start thinking the way you do, the country would be in a better shape.”

Ha!!This was one of the times when words of genuine praise do not make you happy. I thought of correcting him, but the train was already there. So I reminded him of my blog and took leave.

I may have made a mistake in generalizing that most of the laptop-carrying guys are from software industry. But what is worse: This generalization or generalizing that all civilians have zero feelings for the country? Aren’t people like Narainmurthy, Leander Paes, Mother Teresa, AR Rahman all civilians? They may not be fighting it out in the open, but in their own way, aren’t they doing their bit in making a name for the country? Talking about common men, I agree that most of us don’t do much in our daily life. But when the call from the country is there, a good number of us respond in our ways: be it contributing for flood-hit areas of Bihar or standing up against reservations, you’d find civilians contributing to the cause. This may not compare with the live action that army-guys are involved in, but would it be justifiable to write that off completely? Most importantly, like every other bunch of people, no two civilians are the same (or for that matter,no two defense guys either) Then, why this generalization: “You civilians”?? Why do you actually need to have a dichotomous view of the world: civilians and servicemen?

These are some of the questions I would have liked to ask that guy. I am still looking for the answers. I understand that some of the civilians would be making comments on this post as usual, but I would love to see the view point of somebody from defense too.

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