Showing posts with label work. Show all posts
Showing posts with label work. Show all posts

October 28, 2011

Blowing In The Wind

How many roads must a man walk down,
before you call him a man?

My career as a public servant lasted through university. I quickly transitioned to the private sector after graduation, whereupon I allowed notorious companies such as Satyam to profit from my talents. Endowed with responsibility and managerial powers from a young age, I never maximized the amount of rent that I could extract from my employers as long as I enjoyed my work. When the excitement cooled and the learning peaked, it was an automatic trigger to explore new opportunities.

And how many times can a man turn his head,
and pretend that he just doesn't see?

Having spent two and a half unforgettable years in China, it was time to shift gears. After completing a circuit of Southeast Asia, I came to Mumbai. In a country where 58% of children do not complete primary school and only 6% of the population make it to university, I entered the non profit space for the first time. I joined Teach For India, a movement of young leaders intent on ending educational inequity in the nation.

The answer my friend is blowing in the wind,
the answer is blowing in the wind.
- Bob Dylan

October 23, 2011

Humble Beginnings

After I started working in Mumbai, an HR lady gathered some information on me so that she could share my profile information with the rest of the staff.

HR: So what are your strengths?
Me: Smart, handsome, responsible, versatile, hard working, well traveled, ...
HR: Are these your strengths or your praises?
Me: Is there a difference?
HR: ... And why aren't you smiling in your photo?
Me: I usually don't smile in my pictures.
HR: Why? Are you afraid you won't look good when you are smiling?
Me: No, I look good either way.
HR: Aren't you modest!
Me: Oh yes, add humility to my list of strengths.
HR: ...


"In reality there is perhaps not one of our natural passions so hard to subdue as pride. Disguise it, struggle with it, beat it down, stifle it, mortify it as much as one pleases, it is still alive, and will every now and then peep out and show itself...For even if I could conceive that I had completely overcome it, I should probably be proud of my humility." - Benjamin Franklin

July 04, 2011

The Headshot Controversy:

My namesake website was relaunched, coinciding with the initiation of my job hunt after my return to Canada from China. features information about the companies I worked at and types of projects I was responsible for handling, as well as a link to this blog.

The website content is pretty standard, apart from a controversial head shot which steals the show. The background photo of me is so deliciously sinful, that a few nations immediately moved to block access to the website. As always, my friends provided positive feedback on the vivid imagery:

The website seems like a temple to yourself


Some constructive advice... kindly  remove the 'masturbatory' statements.. and your handsome pics  ... and let your work talk for themselves...


Holy crap!! That's the only word i can think of. The height of it all is the face profile pic....


Can't even open the page it's taking so long to load! is there arnaboner in the site hence the block? must be the purported intensity of the profile pic.


Whao a Bollywood movie star!


Have posted this picture of you on craigslist with your email address.



Arnab what the hell is up with the bigass picture. that was utterly unnecessary and your potential employer might balk at such blatant display of handsomeness. ur practically bragging. tone it down would ya. or better yet do without it.

May 18, 2011

A Time For Change

After two years at Interone, I decided to ride off into the sunset and return to Vancouver. Before I left Beijing, I cleaned my room for the first time. In China, retailers and other persons involved in commercial activities never seem to have any change for the 100 RMB notes that are dispersed by the ATM's. Any occasion to break up a large bill into smaller notes and coins must be seized. This solves the problem of not having any change, but the issue of having too much soon rises as I stockpile smaller denominations. A continuous struggle exists to maintain an equilibrium between an empty pocket and a healthy collection of loose change to meet the daily needs of an individual.

When I returned home at night, I would empty my pockets of any remaining currency. The bills would float gracefully to the floor, awaiting the tender touch of my fingertips the next morning. Before leaving for work, I would pick out the crispest of the notes and stuff them into my pocket for a new day. Over the years, a surplus of small change congregated on my apartment room floor. I collected all the money I could find into a plastic bag. I used this lump sum to pay for my farewell lunch for around 20 colleagues. The waiter gave up on counting the cash, so my coworkers divied up the bills and did the accounting work for him. Once the bill was paid, I still had a lot left over.


"Change will not come if we wait for some other person or some other time. We are the ones we've been waiting for. We are the change that we seek." - Barack Obama

November 27, 2010


I stretched my arms and breathed a sigh of relief, having just launched the biggest project of the year at work. I shut down my computer, switched off the lights, and locked the doors. I was about to embark on my grand voyage through China the very next day. Several meters away from my office stands the recently opened World Trade Center Phase 3 tower. I walked into the gleaming new lobby. Eighty floors later I was in the highest bar in Beijing. The aptly named Atmosphere provides a panoramic view of the city, from the modern skyscrapers of downtown to the sprawling structures of an imperial capital.

I was meeting up with my friends in Beijing, some of whom would have left the country by the time I returned from my trip. Coincidentally, we bumped into the CEO of my company and several other higher ups. An office ARNABabe who was at my table spotted them. The two groups awkwardly combined, as I introduced my colleagues to my friends - my onetime Irish roommate, a scintillating Malaysian diplomat, a Nokia employee, a couple of ABC's (American Born Chinese), and a tousle haired iPhone application developer. After having a few drinks and reminiscing about our past escapades, we parted ways.


“Don't be dismayed at goodbyes, a farewell is necessary before you can meet again and meeting again, after moments or lifetimes, is certain for those who are friends.” ~ Richard Bach

October 18, 2010


When today's tech savvy toddlers were posed the question "What do you want to be when you grow up?" one of the most frequently heard answers was "Technical Project Manager". I live that dream.

My job as a Technical Project Manager (TPM) at Interone allows me to work in a creative environment, alongside art directors, designers, copywriters, and developers in the online division of the advertising agency. What exactly do I do as a TPM?
  • I oversee the technical design, development, and launch of multilingual websites in multiple countries simultaneously, always having to be aware of the statuses of dozens of projects at once
  • I supervise the technical staff, which includes developers (who write code) and content editors (who upload content to the  website), by explaining to them what tasks have to be completed and when, providing guidance on how to accomplish these tasks, checking that they have all the materials they need, and helping them when they are in a bind
  • I evaluate business requirements and alternate solutions, provide cost estimates, and schedule resources
  • I coordinate with third party vendors and service providers
  • I identify, report, and fix bugs
  • I star in the occasional movie
  • I interview potential candidates and perform other day to day managerial tasks
It is a multidisciplinary job that requires not only top notch technical skills, attention to detail, devastatingly gorgeous facial features, and a sharp intellect, but a 360 degree understanding of what needs to be done in the minds of various stakeholders and the ability to bring it all together into a combined product that can be launched under tight deadlines.


"A leader is best when people barely know he exists, when his work is done, his aim fulfilled, they will say: we did it ourselves." - Lao Tzu

October 13, 2010

Beast Inside

After years of getting the cold shoulder from both Hollywood and Bollywood, my talent was finally recognized in the People's Republic of China. I acted in a short film called Beast Inside. Along with my fellow thespians, I was picked up in a van and taken to an abandoned warehouse where the movie would be filmed. My principal scene was the first to be shot. It would set the tone for the rest of the movie. After a few practice runs to see if the lighting and camera angles were correct, I changed into my costume.

Everyone held their breath as they waited to see how I would perform in my long awaited debut. Crew members ran around me, releasing smoke from canisters to create the proper effect. The director signalled that filming had commenced. Even through the haze, the spotlight shone brightly on me. I rose to the occasion, nailing my scenes after only a few takes. Everyone applauded as the director yelled "Cut!". I humbly acknowledged their praise as I walked off the set.


"A man of knowledge lives by acting, not by thinking about acting."
- Carlos Castaneda

July 28, 2009

Let a Thousand Flowers Bloom

When not instant messaging, napping, working, or watching subtitled episodes of the cartoon Spongebob Squarepants on their computer, Chinese cubicle dwellers often play a web-based game that involves planting flowers and watering them. Occasionally another player comes along and steals a plant, upsetting the victimized player who has been robbed of a chance to smell the roses. Having never played it myself, I presume the social aspect of the game is what makes it so captivating.


"Letting a hundred flowers blossom and a hundred schools of thought contend is the policy for promoting progress in the arts and the sciences and a flourishing socialist culture in our land."
- Chairman Mao

June 28, 2009

How Cute

Many foreigners come to China to cash in on the highly lucrative English teaching industry, charging exorbitant hourly rates to teach a language that they themselves may or may not be fluent in. I had no such aspirations and offered my services free of charge, providing my coworkers with tips on the correct usage of words and their meanings. Somehow my female colleagues at Force Research ended up with the misconception that the word "cute" meant intelligent. As a result, whenever I did something clever (which was not a rare occurrence) they would tell me how cute I was.


"You so cute." - Chinese girl

May 12, 2009

Lazy Gay

My office in the Dacheng International Center was recently renovated. There was a lack of available meeting space. The cubicles were shifted back so that additional rooms could be created. The construction took place over the weekend, leaving the office a dusty mess when all the employees arrived at work the following Monday.

Chinese lady:
Our desk and chair so dirty. 
You just stay there! 
Dont clean this!  
So lazy!
I thought that the cleaning lady will clean it.
Chinese lady:
Dose she clean your desk?
Yes, she cleans it every day. 
Chinese lady:
Your chair is dirty, too. 
You are a lazy gay.

March 30, 2009


My Chinese market research company conducted several English language focus groups in Beijing. My colleagues had to transliterate the comments the participants had scrawled on the worksheets that had been given to them. The writing was by and large quite messy. I provided valuable assistance in deciphering the more difficult to read words. One lady at the office asked what the word "prejudice" meant, so I explained that it is having an opinion in advance that colours someone's judgement.

Chinese lady:  I have prejudice against you. Right?
Arnab: Yes, but it's bad to have a prejudice.
Chinese lady: I can say you have prejudice against me. You have prejudice against me.
Arnab: How?
Chinese lady: I really beautiful, but you thought no.


See also: Pride (totally unrelated)

March 27, 2009

Shop Talk

While I worked as a primary developer of product releases at ResponseTek, several new terms were introduced into the technical lexicon:
  • ARNABranch - Whenever features, changes, or bug fixes had to be developed, I requested a branch of the code base to work on.
  • ARNABuild - As I made rapid progress on my project, I would roll out incremental packages tot the quality assurance (QA) team so that they could validate and verify my work.
  • ARNABug - Occasionally an ARNABuild behaved in an untoward manner. These ARNABugs were not necessarily introduced in the current ARNABranch, although they were detected in it.
  • ARNABeta - When software is ready to be tried by its users but is still not ready for the big time, a 'beta' label is slapped on it. ARNABetas looked very good but rarely worked.

December 24, 2008

RT: Year One

In September I completed my first anniversary of working diligently at ResponseTek (RT), an employer of mine. As a principal developer of the flagship Customer Experience Management (CEM) product and visionary founder of the Council of Office Lunches (COOL), I was given great responsibility and many learning opportunities at the organization. While helping ResponseTek grow as an organization, I also grew as an individual (includes net gain of 15 pounds over the year).

“You won't realize the distance you've walked until you take a look around and realize how far you've been.” - Anonymous

Some of the highlights during my time there:

  • Good times with my friends and collegues at various events and gatherings, COOL and otherwise
“To become truly great, one has to stand with people, not above them.” - Charles de Montesquieu


  • A grand slam of feature packed quarterly releases (Fall, Winter, Spring, Summer)
“You will achieve grand dream, a day at a time, so set goals for each day / not long and difficult projects, but chores that will take you, step by step, toward your rainbow. Write them down, if you must, but limit your list so that you won't have to drag today's undone matters into tomorrow. Remember that you cannot build your pyramid in twenty-four hours. Be patient. Never allow your day to become so cluttered that you neglect your most important goal / to do the best you can, enjoy this day, and rest satisfied with what you have accomplished.” - Og Mandino

  • Introduced valuable documentation practices into the organization
“Aspire rather to be a hero than merely appear one.” - Baltasar Gracian

March 23, 2008

Pregnancy Scare

Trading in the physically exerting role of globetrotting adventurer for that of an office dwelling software engineer has taken a toll on the wondrous ARNABody. The attractive structure is increasing in mass at an alarming rate of 2-2.5 pounds a month. My Adam's apple has receded and my rugged jawline has become soft and rounded. To alleviate my concerns, a chubby coworker cheerfully declared that "You're only fat if you feel fat". He also mentioned he has not seen his Adam's apple in years.

Some of my colleagues attributed my rapid swelling to my "pregnancy". Just as female frogs change sexes and transform into male frogs when the female:male ratio is unfavourably tilted, they hypothesized that I am also mutating due to the extreme workplace ratio that is prevalent in the IT industry. My frequent cravings for poutine and other edible heavenlies was pointed out as further evidence in support of this gender jumping theory.

March 03, 2008

To and FRO

If you are a foreigner planning to work, study, or travel within India for more than 180 consecutive days without leaving the country, then you are required to register your details with the closest Foreigner's Regional Registration Office (FRRO) or Foreigner's Registration Office (FRO) within two weeks of your arrival. Five other law abiding non-citizens and I decided to fulfill our legal duty soon after our arrival in Hyderabad. Our first stop was Satyam City Center in Begumpet (across the street from popular department store Shopper's Stop). One of the better furnished Satyam office's, here we picked up letters attesting to our proof of employment and other required documentation.

A foreigner is required to submit the following (from the Indian Bureau of Immigration):
  • 4 recent passport size photographs (the remaining 16-20 photos in the set became valuable collectors items among the female interns)
  • Photocopy of passport photo page and a valid Indian Visa page
  • Proof of residential address in India (electricity bill from the landlord and a letter stating that we lived there)
  • Documents of identification
  • In case of Employment Visa, request letter, undertaking, contract agreement from employer
With documents in hand, we arrived at the police headquarters. We were promptly directed towards the authorities responsible for foreigner registration. Initially reluctant to process our documents since we had arrived after lunchtime, after some light persuasion they agreed to do what they could. We were herded into a crowded room with boxes full of overflowing stacks of paper and rows of men with stamps. They inspected our documents, frowned, and approved them with authority. We were then told to wait outside. Several hours later a kindly clerk gave each of us slips containing an identification number and a date when a letter stating that we had registered with the FRO would be ready for pickup. This letter is collected by Indian authorities when you are leaving the country. If you do not have this document then, you may be deported from the country as punishment. Unfortunately before my letter was ready, I had been transferred to Bangalore and did not get the chance to pick it up.

After I had alerted Satyam's foreign affairs department that I had not transferred my registration from Hyderabad to Bangalore, they directed me to do so post haste. I made my way back to Hyderabad for 5 days, spending a few extra days reuniting with old friends, eating biryani, and inspecting pearls. The FRO had relocated from the old police headquarters to an even older one so the surroundings were once again unfamiliar. The officers in charge were disgruntled at first since I did not have my identification slip and gave me a lecture about irresponsible foreigners thinking they can come to India and do whatever they want. They saw my passport and then lightened up when they realized I was a Bengali. After explaining the Satyam diet and why I looked different from my picture, they allowed me to bypass the long lineup so that I could immediately finish my paperwork. The staff were friendly and helpful, especially the ones that were not snoozing or reading the newspaper. They passed around my picture and chuckled. First I retrieved my letter stating I was registered as a foreigner in Hyderabad. Then I applied for deregistration from Hyderabad. After I was granted this, I requested that my information be forwarded to Bangalore so that I could register there. I did not want to further increase India's population count by being registered at more than one place at a time.

Back in Bangalore, I went to the FRO and let them know that I had given them permission to receive my original paperwork from Hyderabad. They stamped my documents and told me to write a letter to the Hyderabad FRO stating that the Bangalore FRO had noted my arrival and were ready to receive any documentation that they may have concerning me. I followed instructions, but several more trips to the FRO were in vain as the documents never arrived from Hyderabad. The on duty clerk finished his crossword puzzle and informed me that there was no problem and whatever documentation I had collected over the year would be enough to ensure my departure from India.

January 27, 2008

The Satyam Diet

I lost weight during the year I spent working in India. Most of it can be attributed to the Satyam Diet plan that I followed in Bangalore. My eating habits changed to accommodate my work schedule. My hours spent in the office were from around 10 in the morning to 7 at night. One hour on each side could be added as traveling time. Since my carefree existence allowed me to indulge in at least nine hours of sleep a night, by the time I woke up and got ready, there was no time for breakfast apart from some fruit or juice picked up on the way to work. The office gruel served at lunchtime was so consistent in its putridity that eating even a tiny portion of the fare tormented my taste buds and stripped me of my beloved appetite. Apart from the tasty morsels provided by office belles the amount of food I consumed during the midday meal was severely diminished. With two of the days three meals much smaller than I regularly had, dinner became a meal of meals. I would visit the finest establishments around the city, having food of singularly high quality but with a diversity of flavour, ingredients, and preparation.

No diet can be successful unless it combines both food intake and physical exertion. The exercise portion of the diet was provided by the 8 floors I had to climb every time I took a break (a surprisingly large number of times) with my colleagues or went to lunch. There was only one elevator for the many hundreds of employees, and with a significant proportion of these taking a break at any one moment in time, the elevator was always stuffed to overcapacity. The dozens of Satyamites left behind on each trip eagerly hoped that the next time the elevator opened its doors, they would find themselves within its friendly womb. Unable to bear the thought of lost productivity due to waiting for the lift, I resorted to using the stairwells to physically transport myself from the bottom of the building to the top and vice versa. During these breaks, often times I would partake in strenuous games of table tennis. My innate talent was not enough against my experienced opponents, so I had to work on my conditioning and reflexes. Other times I played carrom, a game similar to billiards or pool but played with bare hands.

Combined with the occasional escape from a wild mob or leap from a bus, the Satyam Diet worked wonders. Not only can a job provide opportunities for career development and financial stability, but it can also have a profound impact on other facets of life.

December 29, 2007

The Interview

A man with unshakable integrity and an inherent reservoir of talent will seek out a place of work that recognizes his capabilities and hires him on the basis of his education, past experiences, and potential for growth with no trace of favoritism bestowed upon him. To level the playing field, I chose to apply for new positions through the Internet using job sites such as and I also skimmed through emails sent to the SFU Computing Science jobs list for any interesting opportunities. A few hours were spent applying to a handful of companies with positions meeting my criteria. Within days of my return from my Indian odyssey, I secured an interview with a Vancouver-based firm known as ResponseTek.

My last job interview had taken place over a year ago so I was a little rusty. To regain entry into the working world I would have to rely on my solid credentials and understated charm rather than on providing eloquent and long winded answers to inquiries of my activities, challenges, goals, and other topics frequented by interviewers. A shining example of nature's splendour, I bathed, trimmed the ARNABeard, combed my hair, and dressed myself in business casual attire. I took a cursory glance at the mirror before heading off towards the unknown. After taking public transportation to downtown Vancouver, I wandered the streets until I located the building that contained the head office of ResponseTek Networks.

After being granted entrance into the secure facilities by the receptionist, I was told to have a seat until my interviewer arrived. I composed myself and waited. Minutes later a man introduced himself to me as the Director of Engineering and asked me to accompany him. The interview took place, the details of which I do not remember very clearly apart from the fact that I summed up my educational history and Indian experience to him and other members of his team. After getting a brief tour of the working premises, I gave my customary limp handshake and was guided out.

When I taste some food, I can immediately determine how savoury it is. When I watch a movie, I know when it is engaging and when it is boring. Whenever I view my countenance in the reflective surface of an ARNABabe's dilating pupil as she briefly makes eye contact with me, I can feel the passion erupting in her veins. But when it comes to interviews, I have never been able to accurately judge whether it has been a success or not. As such, I left the ResponseTek premises with no expectations either way.

Days later I received a phone call notifying me that they were ready to offer me a position as a software engineer. The opportunity to join a small but fast growing company where I would play a starring role was quite tempting, and after some deliberation I decided to accept the offer. My job hunting expedition lasted a little over a week, having the good sense to end not long after it had started.

November 20, 2007

A New Chapter

My career to date is composed of 8 months at of Canada Revenue Agency and one year at Satyam Computers Ltd. One is a Canadian government institution and the other an Indian software giant. One is answerable to the people of a great nation and the other to the hundreds of large companies across the globe that form its client base. One is a slow moving non-profit organization that handles the largest amount of money among any outfit in the country while the other is a fast growing publicly traded multinational firm that handles sensitive data belonging to others. The workplace culture of these two organizations is not as great as appearances might at first indicate. Both have an approximate employee strength of 40,000, multiple office locations spread out over vast distances, relaxed working environments for the legions of cubicle dwellers, and a need to manage large amounts of information securely and efficiently on behalf of third parties. As an employee, I was a small part of a much larger picture.

Just imagine that the picture was much smaller, with me comprising a greater portion of it. Would the picture then not be prettier? So my quest began for obtaining a job with a small company with big ambitions and a need for superior, albeit raw, talent. It also made sense for my third job to be something completely different, with a company that was focused on offering a particular service or on creating a product of their own, rather than according to the mandate of someone else. As I gave it a little more thought, a list of features that I was looking for in a prospective employer emerged.

Basic Requirements:

*Increased amount of responsibility
*Small company with an involved and capable leadership team
*Fast paced work environment with enhanced learning opportunities
*Reasonable working hours so that I can still have time to pursue my varied interests
*Sufficient salary and vacation time to allow me to maintain my princely lifestyle

Additional Features:

*Location with plenty of dining and entertainment options
*Amiable colleagues with distinct personalities
*Miscellaneous environmental stimuli

As I embark on my quest to find enriching employment upon my return to the golden shores of the Greater Vancouver Regional District, it will be interesting to note whether prospective employees will look upon my international experience with favour, indifference, or contempt. With the specifications formalized, a new chapter in the iconic tale that shaped a generation can begin.


“I know not what I may appear to the world; but to myself I seem to have been only like a boy playing on the sea shore, and diverting myself in now and then finding a smoother pebble or a prettier shell than ordinary, whilst the great ocean of truth lay all undiscovered before me.”
-Isaac Newton

October 24, 2007

Arnab Appreciation Days

My contract with Satyam expired on June 13, 2007, a date that marked my one year tenure at the company. Satyam admired my strong work ethic and love for the company and its associates. With glorious joy, my departure from Satyam was celebrated through a series of Arnab Appreciation Days. My humble and approachable nature had made me a popular figure to the employees of the organization, and the endearment was mutual. Tears were shed and fond memories recollected. Goodbyes were said and best wishes exchanged. After serving the company with passion and earnestness, it was time to go our separate ways.

At the farewell ceremonies my new logo was revealed to the public. The stylish "Arnab" word mark with a Bengal tiger proudly perched atop drew rave reviews from the audience at hand during the daring debut. The symbiosis of light and dark, and of man and nature, used the traditional "Arnab" colours of red, black, and white.

October 03, 2007

Canteen Angst

In the 8th floor of the Hebbal office of Satyam Computer Services Ltd lies the canteen. Affording stunning vistas of Bangalore, much time is spent on this floor by employees. In particular the view of Hebbal Kere (lake) is fantastic. During the course of my 8 month stay at this office, the lake was systematically drained until it was converted into a puddle. Hundreds of workers were then sent out to clear the lake bed of all the rubbish that had been deposited throughout the ages. Once the trash was removed the lake was to be refilled with clean water, allowing it to regain its original luster.

Apart from enjoying the view, a host of other activities take place here - playing table tennis or carrom, listening to Kannada songs on the radio, watching live cricket matches on television (or old games which India won), socializing with colleagues, and the most dreaded of all - eating the food provided by the caterers. A consistently putrid combination of rice, spice, and assorted gravies is offered to the masses who line up with trays in hand for their daily subsistence. The portions are great in size, but minimal in taste. More enterprising associates try to escape this facility in search of tastier dishes, but do so in vain. Encircled in barb wire fencing and high walls, the office is situated in a secluded business park. A shortcut to Hebbal village through military dairy testing facilities has also been blocked by the authorities. The sole remaining option is a hospital cafeteria located within the same complex. This is not a very palatable option either, although its business has boomed due to the influx of Satyam canteen refugees.

Taking a keen interest in the culinary welfare of my colleagues, I arrived at work earlier than usual one morning so I could attend a food meeting held by the building's corporate services staff at 10 am. They explained that the food was carted in during the morning from outside caterers as government bylaws prevented them from cooking fresh food anywhere but on the ground floor. The point that was driven home to attendees of the meeting was that although the quantity of food provided could be changed, the quality could not. One person mentioned that the food was "C/O the Dustbin" to much applause and synchronized head nodding. Another complained that the canteen teaman had laughed at him when he had pointed out severe deficiencies in the tea making process and had told him that he expected an improved product the next time. He was assured by the corporate services staff that next time there would be no such outburst of laughter.