Monthly Archives: March 2008

All about paris metro…

Anyone travelling to paris for the first time would probably benefit from these info below..

First thing to learn: Merci….. pronounced as “maer-see”…. is Thank U…..

Use this.. and use it often… They do it for every small favor u do them…

One more: “Ou est la Gare?” means “Where is the railway station?” or u could use “Ou est la metro?” (Le and la are pronounced almost same. So, dont worry about gender.. )

The metro is absolutely the most comfortable mode of travel (for one who does not own a car). And fastest too (for all)..

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So, use it well and u could manage to visit almost any place in paris without asking much from people there. Just to caution you, there is one down point to this. We found it pretty late. When we go by metro, we know where we get in and where we get out n nearby places to the station. We miss out on many other places which r not close to the metro stations… So, if you get time, travel by bus too. You would probably find many more things..

Firstly the DOORS… Dont worry. They operate automatically but are safe… I have even seen a guy put his foot in between the doors at the last moment before they closed, to an RER train and “The door opened up fully again” to let him in. But a word of caution. “It would be dangerous to put ur fingers in between doors before it closes.” . Any train stops for a minute or so at each station. And just before the doors close, it gives out a warning sound…. about 5 seconds.. then the doors close. Not bang.. They are already designed to slow down when coming close. Then with a jerk, it closes up.

There are 14 lines of metro criss-crossing paris… In addition, there are some 5-6 lines of RER (fast longer distance trains). Anywhere that the metro goes, u can travel one way in just 1.5 euro. The whole area of paris and ourskirts though is separated out into 6 zones, placed radially outer n outer. Most of places you would visit would come within zone 3. If u need to go by RER (say for Versailles, or to disney land), you would need to pay more.. That would work to about 6.8 euro or so to zone 6 ends… one way…. The city centre could be taken as the Notre damme or Musee de louvre…

The metro lines are named M1 to M14 and the RER lines as A,B, C … to G . But beware of one thing. Metro lines go exactly the same route always. But each RER line typically has three branches. like say C1, C2 & C3. Only one of these goes to Chateau de Versailles (just for example).

At many stations, multiple lines of metro / RER cross. Hence, to reach any point from one, u need to find which metro to catch, reach where n then move to which other line to reach ur destination. U can keep going in one metro line n another n another with the same single ticket until u come out. When u punch out once, that ticket does not work again to get in… Also, moving between metro and RER lines would need punches. But if that’s an entry punch to a metro line or an RER line, then fine. U can still get out fine at ur destination. N dont worry anyway even if u punch wrongly or miss ur ticket. Exit is not a problem. There r free to exit doors in most stations. Or even otherwise, u will find someone to help u get out…

The main stations have “Gare” in their names. Like Gare du Nord, Gare de la Est, Gare St. Lazare, Gare de Austrelitz etc… These r places where outstation trains start / stop. The TGV trains for going out of paris… N these stations will be linked by RER also.

Mind one more thing… There r many many exits to most metro stations. It would help to know which exit to take. Else, u would end up going round the station on road to reach where u need to.. One more point. While switching lines, do take care of the direction within the line that u take (check end point)..

U wont even need a map since maps r very generously displayed in all stations. But having one would help in little planning. One more point. Finding a ticket counter (Billet for ticket ) is not easy. Near one of the entry points, you would find one. But out of four or five exits, u may end up wasting lot of time searching. So, taking 2 / 3 tickets in advance if u know u r going to visit 2 /3 places would help. Unless you do multiple trips in a day, taking a day pass or even a weekend pass (14 euro) would not help.

It runs on Rubber wheels. Would you believe it? Dont… It looks like rubber wheels from outside.. But it probably has steel inside.. There are also vertical wheels and horizontal wheels.. (as you would have seen on the pic at the top..)

Some important stations:

Trocadero : Right opposite the Eiffel Tower

Palais Royal Musee de louvre : The Louvre Museum

St. Michele : Right next to Notre Damme

Charles de Gaulle Etoile : Right next to Arch de Troimphe. (one end of Champs Eleysee)

Anvers : Very near Sacred Hearts Basillic (Dont miss this one…)

Gare du Nord : Indian market is here…

Versailles is in south west corner of city.

The Charles de gaule airport is on the north east corner…

Marne le Valee : Disney land is to the east.

Enjoy touring Paris…..  🙂

India Vs Australia…

A moment to cherish… A moment to feel proud… A moment to put back all criticism of Sachin…

It was fascinating to say the least to see India beat Australia in the first final on sunday. There really was a great difference in strength. The Indians played for a win with much belief. There was a lot of poor fielding initially. But overall, the performance was much superior to that of the Australians’.

One aspect which many fail to stress is the importance of SPIN Bowling in allowing us the win. Australians as usual finding it tough to play spin and Piyush chawla and others did a great job…

I too had been quite sceptical about sachin’s performances. I have seen him play at times with seemingly poor attitude. Spending too much time to get too few runs. Not because of tough condidions. But at least at that time, it felt like he was failing to get the singles and so on…. But sunday was great. (Note:I didnt see the second final.. Just heard the roars from people watching it on the terrace of my office….) Sachin was really fluent in his strokes. Leaving deliveries wisely. Striking them at will and with confidence. And as usual accumulating runs at a pace he always does. As long as he was in, the Australians had no chance..

Great work team India…  🙂 🙂 :-B

Quick look at paris…

Firstly, the Eiffel Tower of course….

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Then, Musee de Louvre… (Louvre museum)

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N Notre Damme church…

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N the Versailles gardens… (call it versaai)

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and Arch de Troimphe (Arch of Triumph at Champs Eleysee)

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n Le Defence. (the newer paris…)

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Day 1 in Paris…

Day 1 begins…

Lets start a bit earlier before when we land in Paris… We?? Ya. We were 7. Five of us colleagues, wife of one of my colleagues and their kid, Avanti. She alone will invite a special mention. See pic below..

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Just above 2 yrs old n very cute n smart…. 🙂

Lets start from Namma Bengalooru…. 🙂 Our flight was at about 2 am here …. A 10 hr flight… But due to the 4.5 hrs that france is behind us, we would land at about 7 am there… It was funny. We could never classify what to call our meals in the flight. We had a breakfast, n then some snacks n then it was time to have breakfast again…. Just before we landed. A Boeing 777 with 2 GE90 – 115B engines. The biggest engine today. It took us safely till paris… Fortunately, it was a direct flight and so we had no headaches of luggage transfers etc..

7 am in paris we land… But wait… What do I see before I land? A big looking airport… The size is something I could not come to terms with quickly.. Just to be clear, after we landed, the plane travelled about 10 mts plus left n right to find the right parking lot… N at last, we were let off.. N what do we look for first???? Where do we get our luggage? U know why???? There was much valuable stuff in that…. What??? Our great Indian food stuff.. Lots of maggi noodles, some rice, some rava, some spices of course and then some nice “Puliyodharai mix” & “Vatthal Kozhambu” (Nice spicy stuff to mix with rice n have…). We knew we could not survive without these in Paris, being a pure vegetarian.

But at paris Charles De Gaulle Airport, luggage is not available so soon.. We realise that is going to be long before we get it n leave the airport. Firstly, we have our immigration formalities. We get to a queue after a lot of searching and asking. There were fortunately a few young french people who spoke “a little” english to help guide us. We knew a bit too…. Merci, Au revoir, Ca va? Tres Bien n so on… small snippets which we once in a while use.. Most commonly of course was Merci (Thank u). After a few questions, we were stamped in to paris n let to go collect the luggage.

Now. Where is the luggage? They say ” Go, board that train n then you would get it” . What? A train? Within an Airport? yeah… We were dumb enough to ask “Which station should we get down at?” And an airport staff there said with a wry smile “There’s only one.”. 😉 We felt so Stupid… But we had to ask. How would we know?

The train runs within the airport and we saw many many planes on both sides before we got there… Anyone in bangalore knows how many buses u find at Majestic bus stand. You find more planes in this airport.. There are a total of 7 terminals 1 & 2A to 2F. And each can house about 80-90 planes I guess. And terminal 1 even more I guess..

When we get to the other side, there r sign boards. Thats one good point. You hardly need to ask anyone where to find things. There r umpty number of boards “Sortie..” (for exit) and thankfully Bagages is close to baggage. We find them. In good shape. Nothing spilt. Nothing broken fortunately. Just a little bit of a leak of oil from my “Vatthal kozhambu” into the ziploc cover from the plastic bottle. Not serious… N dont mind. No one troubled us for having oil in the check in baggage. Its fine as long as it is bottled, sealed n put in a ziploc cover..

We come out n then look for a Taxi… We find many out there. One guy is ok to take us 4 ppl. four? We thought three and a kid. He says no. its 4. Not 3… We say “ok baba. rehne do..” (to ourselves of course..) 3 of my colleagues were on way to Tulouse (in south of france). Just four of us to be in paris… We tell him Place d’italie.. He fortunately spoke some english. So, fine. There we go…

It cost us 65 Euro for the taxi for a distance of about 45-50 kms I guess… With a little looking, found our Hotel Citadines… Got in, paid up an advance n checked in…. I took a high floor facing the street…. Room 621… Or rather Apartment 621… See pictures below… (I shot pics before I would get the rooms looking less cleaner…. 😉 )

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(A bit of “kirik” (mischief…) is always welcome… even in photos… 🙂 )

In the room. At last. Time to rest…. Took a short nap ..zzzzzzzzzzzzzz…………

External force is a myth…

Sounds funny???

Here is why …

Firstly, when we say “External…”, we need to realise that we refer to what is external with respect to the system that we consider to be under study. If we consider the system below,

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and call the sphere on the top right as the system, then the reaction force that it perceives from the other sphere and the wall are external forces to it. But if we consider the whole thing  as a system, then there is no external force.

Wait. What if I add gravity? Then that becomes an external force. Right? Yes. If you limit ur system definition to the sphere and the walls. If you include the earth which creates the gravity as part of the system, then that too remains an internal force…

lets go further… Force itself is a myth….

Come on.. Thats taking it too far.. Forces do exist.. I apply a force and push that rock  off the cliff.. Right????

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No.  What you do is to supply energy to the rock. How you do this is by transfering momentum from you to the rock. The rock gains energy, displaces and falls off… To make things convenient for ourselves, we introduce a concept called the force. We say that we applied a force on the rock. And the rock reacted back with an equal and opposite force. And that two forces existed. Its something like telling one lie to cover up for the lie we told earlier. Its just an anology. Not meant to offend anyone.

What else supports the fact that “force is a myth”. OK. How do we measure force? Its always indirect. Force gauges actually measure displacement caused by that force onto some plate or whatever. They have a calibration which says this much displacement must mean that this much force was applied. Then they report this.  Note: No one ever saw the force. What we saw is only the displacement.

Do we not feel the force when someone pushes us??? No. We feel the acceleration that we gain due to the energy / momentum that was transfered to us. mass times acceleration is called force and so we could say that we felt a force. But strictly speaking, we felt only the acceleration…

Hence proved…..   Do u agree?? Write in ur comments…

Experiments on a healthy work environment

This is one for corporates to think of… But top mangament is what the company is. And if you are part of it or close to them, you can try this out / get it tried… Product companies, I am sure can spare this much resource.

The aim is simple. To experiment a good healthy work environment that would enhance product / service quality, employee satisfaction, productivity and hence profits n growth for the organisation.

The method is simple too. Although not seemingly cheap initially. It would be an investment.  It would bear benefits over time and you would see it. Big companies I am sure would have resources to experiment it (or probably they already do..)

When I write independently thought up things, I dont look for ‘prior art’. Hence, please forgive me for my ignorance if I am writing stuff that you already know…

The method:

1. Setup a work place, say one that would accommodate 10 people on your office terrace or any place that would receive good sunlight. Of course, protected with sun film or whatever to prevent it getting hot. But some warmth and light are a must.  Architects I am sure would know what I talk of…

Louvre museum…

2.  Get one team to move to this place. Get them to work in mornings. If your team does not travel much to reach office, it would be great. Say they start work at 8 am..

3. Experiment for a month or so.  And as you know, collect satistics on say how many bugs they fix in that time,whats been the quality etc.. etc… N u already know what it used to be a month ago when they were working in artificial lights. with air conditioners that dont always work well to provide fresh enough air. N where mornings n nights r no different..

4. Analyse ur statistics after the experiment. If u find it encouraging, then here u go….

5. This could come on a rotation basis. Teams would move in to such a work environment for short periods. They would get some incentives to move.

6. Or better still, teams that show promising effort could be awarded with such environment. This would make teams work  together and better to achieve such an environment.

7. Or even better. If your economics works well, switch your whole office to such a structure that would provide such an environment. Hopefully, you would see much better business.

I realise now…

“Early to bed and early to rise” …

We have heard this only too often… Many of the elders in my family have told this to me. Or rather, many even demonstrate directly by their actions. Some of my uncles wake up at about 4:30 am and are off to sleep by about 9 pm. I had known this for long. Even health experts, magazines say this. But is this really true?

May be it was only something they did because their profession demanded it. Our profession is different. Conditions are different. We are not in villages doing farming. We r here writing codes / analysing or managing stuff in offices in cities. This does not apply to us. We work for clients in the US, the Europe, Japan etc. Hence, our work timings are very different. There cant be one size of shirt that fits all. Same way, this rule cannot apply to all.

So, it went. Though having known this for years, I never implemented it much. Although, i still have managed to wake up at 6:30 am n mostly go to bed by 10 pm. That was because I felt good working that way. Even during college days, before semester exams, the three hours of study in the morning has always benefited me most. Almost never stayed awake after 11 pm. Even in office, problems that remained unsolved the previous evening get solved with almost no effort the next morning. I have observed this quite often. But there it remained till now, in the back of the mind…On the contrary, waking up late or if the train am travelling by reaches beyond 8-9 am, the whole day feels wasted. This too remained…

Truths dont come to realisation through logic. They flash suddenly…

In recent times, I have been having to take more decision, both personally and professionally. In the ending months of the previous year, I have had to stay late at office. Too much work to be done n too few people available to do. This also meant lot of decisions to be taken regarding planning / project risks etc while staying late. I had just been doing it as I had not much time to think. But what I had been seeing over time is that projects were getting delayed, some risks went unaddressed causing enough turmoil. I attributed it all to human resource shortage n left it as I had no control over that. Personaly too, the work load at office meant that I arrived late. This stretched my day n decisions on finance, family etc.. were made later in the evenings n nights. They have not been great either.

This year has been little different. Year beginnings r low on workload for us, a service industry firm. Moreover, I was off to foreign land for a month n work pressures have not been much. So, my office timings have been more regular. Reaching office at 8:30 am to avoid traffic n leaving back at 6:30 pm as I was done with the work. Things have been happening differently. They r more in control…

All this happenings that i mentioned above, I am sure would be quite common to many of us working in cities, be it in the IT industry or banks n finance firms or call centres.

Yesterday, it just struck me… N I write now….

Its not been without reason that in olden days people used to wake early n sleep early. “Mornings are full of hope and belief. Nights are full of doubt, depression and useless thoughts” Does it strike a chord immediately? I believe it certainly would. Analyse your life and you would see this thing repeatedly happening only too often. Many of ur successful work (out of the ordinary, ones that brought you acclaim / awards) would have been executed in the mornings. Most of things that went awry would have been due to work / decisions taken in evenings or late nights. The jigsaw puzzle all seems to fit now. You ask me for statistics? Yes. I am going to collect. How? By your replies to this article. Please do write back if you share this experience / see opposing experiences. Over time, I am sure with many replies, we would have enough proof for this.

Extremes teach us most…

A thought experiment would help here. Say we get a thug (or goonda) to wake up early, get him to brush his teeth, have a nice cup of coffee, take bath, have good healthy breakfast……. N them tell him “hei. U got this task today. Go… Ur victim would be there in that place…. N u know what to do…” Funny???? What do you think would happen? Would he really do what he is meant to do? Would at least one thought not cross his mind “Why am I doing this?” . I believe it would.

Thugs, even if they work in mornings do not do so really. They would probably be under intoxication with alcohol effects remaining. So, it is still not the energetic morning for them. They live under gloom all day. And under gloom, u can only expect unproductive / criminal thoughts to come. Do u get the point? A further fact I heard recently fits well. It seems that in cold countries near the poles during winters when people hardly see the sun, stay either inside houses or offices most of the time feel a lot of depression. Another piece fits in the jigsaw puzzle…

Ms.Kiran Bedi, IPS Officer realised this probably. Thats probably how she got onto reforms at the Tihar Jail. Jails should be centres of reform for those who come in as thugs / criminals go out and learn to live a ‘day life’ forgetting their past ‘night life’. They are to be shown ‘mornings’, a new sunrise in their life.

Work done in morning / decisions taken in mornings would lead to good results.

By mornings, what is meant is not just the time of the day. It also means the physical state you are in. Having woken up after a good sleep n freshened up n nourished well by a good breakfast. Thats a good morning. Do try this. I am sure it would work well. Choose to avoid traffic with early morning travel. Put off any decisions to mornings. Things will work well.
What about me u may ask if you are working in companies that require you to be on night shift ? Simple. Decide if you live for yourself or for the company ! Yes. today you cannot avoid working late nights. But work to get off the night shifts to a regular day shift. Others who are starting careers would come and fill those slots. And then as they grow, they can also choose to work during day. Make a lifestyle change. That changes your health and life and nothing else… Choose to live happily n peacefully n it will come to u… Choose to avoid pizza with aerated drinks in nights. They dont get digested well and your next day too would be just so so… Apply this basic logic to ur specific life and you would find choices that could make ur life happier, funnier n nice…

One point I learnt when I was in france was that people realise there that they work only to earn a living and to have job satisfaction. Life for them is much bigger outside of office with 3 week vacations commonly taken. They work mostly for themselves. Not for the organisation. And thats good. The organisation will still run well.

Wish you all good and healthy living…

See article “Experiments on a healthy work environment” … to come soon…

Sunrise…