A day to remember!

I loved this weekend!! So much, that I didn't even find time for my favourite activity - blogging!! Anyways, I'm back now - just to share with you what I believe to be part of my most lovely memories!
As you know, I was restless with excitement about getting back to home terrain! But this time, in addition to the usual energy waves generated in anticipation of the 'going back home' activity, me and my Dad generated the extra ripple of surprise! I had informed my people that I would be arriving by 11am on Sunday morning - but instead decided to come on Saturday itself!
I suppose this idea sprouted from sheer peer influence! I realized that many of my friends had given their family surprises and so I thought, why not me too? I was initially planning to give my entire family a surprise, but then considering how mad my parents would be if I were to travel alone by auto in Chennai, I decided to involve my dad in the 'conspiracy'!
Daddu came, and this time also as usual, I was beaming as I stepped out of the airport into his loving arms! As I thought of how surprised my mom and sis would be, I was literally laughing with happiness! On our way from the airport, me and my dad had a few serious discussions on who would go in first - we finally decided upon Daddu going in and me following.
All I can say is, it was almost perfect! My dad rang the bell, and walked in. I was hiding behind the corridor wall and as soon as I saw my mom's turned back, I sneaked in and hugged her tight from behind and said "Happy Golu!" She turned back and I can never forget her expression! Her eyes opened wide and her mouth a little agape, before the situation sank in and her mouth curved up and her perfect white teeth beamed upon me! She said "Archun! What are you doing here!!" as she returned my hug! She was smiling and laughing and singing!! I joined in too - so happy that my mom was pleased to see me - but a little disappointed that my little sister, had chosen the right moment to bathe!! She however, had heard the commotion and so the effect of the surprise on her wasn't as dramatic! When she came out however, I saw that the shock still hadn't worn off and was a little pleased - which turned into a big smile as she hugged me too!!
My mom said it all in one sentence - " Emathithe! But it was the best surprise ever!!"
This time's homecoming was made perfect for me at that moment!

Pure ecstasy !!

I was up yesterday by 5 15am - went for jogging for about an hour, had my breakfast and returned to my room at around 7 15am; immediately went for my bath and then left at 7 45am; manned the bazaar booths from 8am to 6pm; left for my lecture which was over at 9pm; had my dinner and finally returned to my room at 9 45pm. All in all, a tight busy 8 - 10 day.
But you know what I did after I came to the room? Obviously I thought I was sleepy and tried to sleep - but I couldn't!! I lay down for about half an hour and having failed in my task miserably, switched on my laptop and blasted some music!! Very very unlike me! I always have preferred to listen to beautiful, soft music - especially in the night - but today just wasn't one of those days! At 11 in the night I was still bubbling with energy!
And the reason: I'm going back home soooooooooooooooooooooooooooooon!!!!

Rudrakaliamman Kovil - seva

Saturday,16th September, 2006
All of us at the temple!!

Super Gals!!
And now the reward...FOOD!!

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Morning colours!

"The dawn is breakin'
Its early morn..."
Quoted from one of my favourite John Denver songs, these are golden words! What is so special about mornings? You know, when I shifted from school life in Chennai to a uni life in NUS, the environment suddenly became conducive for late-night and late-morning activities - Despite this, I didn't give up on my habit of being up early.... Many people wonder and express awe at the fact that I - a hostellite, in NUS, - am up by 5 30 in the morning every day; A grunt granted if I say I go to bed early, but there's always a slightly disbelieving look that never leaves! After talking to my cousin brother in Banglore who emphasized this by saying - "Archun! You're in hostel da! We guys here sleep at around 2!" I really began wondering, why am I the odd one out?
And so, the introspection began! Well, firstly, I've generally been an early riser - what with several tuitions and school starting early in the morning, I would always be up at 5 30, no matter what! But several of my friends, who were like me, came here and began working late into the night! And that led me to the truth - I like getting up early!
Once I realized this, I thought - why? I wasn't getting any cooler, was I ? But then it struck me on the face! Every morning I get up, turn on the light and thank God for yesterday, and pray for a good one today - and once I open the blinds do you know what I see?

The dawn is breakin'
Its early morn...
The birds are chirpin'
The darkness gone...
Already, I'm so happy that I could laugh!
So kiss me, oh gentle breeze...
And smile for me, you rising Sun...
Tell me, that'll you be like this all day...
Blowing and burning all my fears away...
Wrap me in your arms
And hold me....
Like you'll never let me go...

What a wonderful way to begin everyday right? I love my parents for inculcating this early-rising habit in me! It makes me appreciate how beautiful life can be - and how happy you can be when you appreciate that!!

Not a bad movie...

OMG! I just realized that my last 3 posts are so boring!! All revolving around my studies in the uni! You must be thinking .. hey! what a geek! Well just to allay those thoughts away,here's my next blog..About Vettaiyadu Velaiyatu!!
Hmm...First things first - Kakkha Kakkha is still my favourite movie!! But to be fair, vettaiyadu velaiyatu scored higher on a few scales. It was much more closer to a real policeman's life - at least the first half. The second half was terrible! Too much violence - beating and bashing up crooks, hunting down the killers and all the masala stuff!
Not that the first half wasn't gross - well what do you expect when a thumb is hung on the father's doorstep, the body is bisected into half and so on? But it was very very practical. The line of thought and steps taken by Raghavan(DCP) to trace the murderer, were sequential and real. I also liked the fact that Kamal's (Raghavan) character wasn't potrayed as a very young man - rather an average aged police officer. The romance between Raghavan and Aradhana (Jyothika) was also handled beautifully - very mature and non-dramatic. The songs were also picturised quite beautifully and made me like them even more after watching the visuals.
Hmm....Overall, worth a watch on cd - so that you can fast forward the ugly parts.
Waiting to watch Sillunu Oru Kadal now!!


3M sought a strong image for their security glass. They modified a bus shelter and fitted their security glass and filled it with REAL BANKNOTES. Many have tried to gain access with golf clubs and baseball bats but obviously the glass remains intact! This is what you call having faith in your own product...
That's the company I'm talking about!
But what's this blog all about?? Well, I had the privilege of being part of an interactive session with Mr Pang - A Technical Supervisor at 3M's Innovation Center, Singapore.
You know, I've always wondered - what exactly do engineers do? Most of the engineers I know are managers! Well, there may be a few exceptions - but almost all of them, at least in India, are management oriented. And here was a job - which looked out for engineers - not just their 'knowledge' about 'technical stuff'! So I was all the more looking forward to this session - because Mr Pang had joined 3M as an engineer.
The initial presentation was about 3M - well obvious! It was like any other routine marketing startegy, but one thing that really impressed me was the concept of a 'dual career path'. A new one for me. The organization recognizes the managerial potential in most engineers - but not at the expense of engineers who'd rather take on the technical path! The managers have their technical counterparts - equal status, salary, etc.
Well, anyways, the topic for the session was 'organizing for technological innovations.' I got an insight into what this actually means for a normal employee involved in such a situation. Perhaps you read my previous blog on IDEO - Well the point here was to say that "Okay! All the informality and innovation can be managed in a small firm like IDEO; But what happens when it comes to something as big as 3M? How do you innovate and manage it?"
I learnt that in 3M there is structure and organization - evolved in a manner to encourage an innovative culture! There is heirarchy, which is respected and valued - to enhance innovation contrary to popular belief. I learnt how important this is when the organization is so big - What if there are guys in different departments working on the same project? There would be a waste of human and material resource at no extra outcome. In such situations, management becomes very important. At the same time, this should not prove a blockade to innovating teams.
Well that sounds really easy on paper - but is it actually easy? Yes! I learnt that from the way Mr Pang said so casually that "All you need to do is give your guys a call - tell them you'll buy them breakfast - and they'll be there at 8 15 for the meeting!" The relationship at the basic level is still informal and personal. Heirarchy plays a role in deciding what projects the team will work on, who is assigned a task and adhering to deadlines - All in all, a very condusive atmosphere!
All this is quite okay, but we were curious as to how they actually decide the teams? Are they cross-functional teams? How to co-ordinate the work? How to actually innovate?
We played a small game - where 6 of us had to get into groups. Each of us had to say the first word that came into our head and then pass on the buck to any other person in the group. Simple and stupid? Initially I thought so too! But when I looked back at how the game shaped up, it was very insightful! Well, I was sitting with my Indian friends and so when someone said food, I immediately said 'kozhakatai' and someone said 'rajma' and so on - but when we shuffled groups and I said 'Chennai' someone else said 'tamil' someone else 'Leonardo'!
I learnt 2 things from this little game - that your thought process is influenced by your group members - when someone said something about food, the first thing you think of is also most probably food! Another thing being that, when the group is diverse, the thought process also varies and this leads to faster innovation - for example 'tamil' appealed to that person in terms of movies and so he named the first actor that came into his head!
But actually, innovation isn't so simple. Mr Pang said, the toughest step is always defining the problem - so again he asked us what we found bad in Singapore? So one of us said 'food' (I suppose we were all hungry as the class is from 6 to 9 pm!!) And he asked - What will you define as good food? Tasty, we asked? Define tasty he said! Well, fresh, healthy, appealing and spicy! You get the point don't you? Once you have the problem defined, you can innovate in each area of concern. :-D
Another thing we wanted to know about was how much autonomy was given to the induviduals? Well, it seemed a lot! If someone had an idea, it was always listened to - and not just by the immediate supervisor alone. An idea would have to be rejected by a minimum no. of superiors before being directed away! Also, each employee was allowed to do whatever he/she wanted in 15% of their paid time! It could be anything - nothing related to the project or even with the company! Mr Pang, it seems, thought we were worth his 15%!!
Hmm...I suppose here's another of my abrubt endings! But I really enjoyed the simple session which appealed to my little brain and got me thinking about things I've never thought about before!!
Thanks Mr Pang!! And thanks to my lecturer Ms Sarah, for organizing this session!

A first for me....

It was an amazing week! Though I have begun to lag a little in doing my daily lessons, I'm thoroughly enjoying this new process! Well, yeah yeah...Its understandable that I'm learning something new and all ... But this week was even more special..
This Thursday I had my first lab session! Wow! I can't believe that I'm saying that - inspite of it contributing to 10% of my final score!!! I, who used to think labs were 2 periods of fun till my 10th; I, who dreaded practicals in my 11th and 12th!
I guess it was the exciting aspect of doing an experiment all by yourself...Till today, I have never experimented' on my own. I did give my practical exams for my boards alone! But it was not the first time I did the lab you see... So this time, even though I was experimenting on signals - after all a stimulation experiment - which involved no equipment as such, just software - I realized what 'experimentation' 'observations' and 'conclusions' meant!
I studied signals - their waveforms and spectra. Periodic, aperiodic, sampling, A to D conversion ,what aliasing meant and retrieval of the original signal from the digitized one. I really learnt these by observing the waveforms, studying the patterns, inputing different numbers and equations and reaching my conclusions. It was very very exciting. All signals - speech, sight, eeg, ecg which I've learnt about are studied in this manner - and then their traits are altered and modified to suit our needs. Like burning a music CD - what actually happens to the voice signal? What happens once it is digitized? How do we retrieve the original signal?
Ultimately, I still don't know if all my observations and conclusions are correct! I don't know if I'll get my full 10% for the experiment! But I do know that I learnt a lot. If anyone asks me today about spectra, waveforms, A to D conversion and vice versa, I'll be able to tackle the questions confidently. That's what education is all about - knowledge. And you truly learn only by doing.

I ultimately got 9.5/10 for it!!