What if Google was a guy?

An Answer by Me on Quora:

What if Google was a guy?

Thanks for the A2A, Dimple Bhatia! Happy New Year to you, btw. ūüôā

If Google were a guy… hmmm… interesting question, I should say! While I see many funny, witty answers down here – Bhuvi Jain, as always :), and Arnima Sharma for the College Humor videos I should say, I liked best – let me try this time to answer it like the engineering/numerical/data analyst that I professionally am. So, my answer is going to be mostly about the career options that the guy Google would follow through, from the most boring on upwards… The impacts of these on his personal life may appear on some of those – I can’t really guarantee it. The answer shall be a flow of ideas straight from the brain to the keyboard without much edits.

Before that, though, I don’t understand why most people here seem to think that Google is the one who knows everything, or the one with all the answers. No – Google is just a search engine which knows the fastest and best ways as to where to look for answers. If we were to humanize a website with the most knowledge/answers, that would be Wikipedia.

First off, with his great indexing ability for such a vast space as the internet itself, the first job for Google that comes to mind would be that of a librarian. Of course, while most people would consider it a boring job – and so, not many GFs – I think a librarian would have a great time just reading up on all that is available around him at the workplace. And, with the aforementioned level of ability, getting to be the librarian at the best damn library in the world would not be any difficult for Mr. Google. Who knows, maybe he could even get to meet a very intelligent SO right there in the library itself, and that would make for a great marriage itself…

Second guess at a career – first-class researcher. We know that he can get a great amount of the required data very quickly. We know that his analysis of what is necessary, and what the next step is from the available data is excellent – just look at the insane amount of suggestions that he provides just from the first few letters you start typing into the search box! Now, I cannot still say with absolute certainty as to which field he would choose – but if I were to guess, I would hedge my bets on applied math. After all, he is quite a bit into algorithms from the data-searching process, which comes naturally to him. Again, this would term him a nerd during school/college; but hey, the contributions forthcoming from his research would be great enough to compensate for any name-calling. Besides, I think he would be self-confident enough to deal with any attempt at bullying. This position should also lead to a quite intelligent life-partner, IMHO.

My next guess would be that he would be a great help to the police and other higher-level investigative agencies in all kinds of investigations. Who better than someone who knows where exactly to look for information than Google to do this – whether it be a case of missing persons, murder investigations, financial wrongdoings, or whatnot? He might even set up his own shop as a private detective, and go down in history as the best in the trade, more famous than Sherlock Holmes – most likely even without the cocaine-snorting habit that the 221B resident was known for. Now, if he were a cop/FBI/CIA/equivalent-in-other-countries guy, then there is not much I can really say about his chances of romance/marriage and happiness or lack thereof.

My final and most likely, in his case, guess – getting a bit tired from the typing, and thinking up stuff by now… I think he would be the one to start the tech revolution in the Silicon Valley (or wherever else he may be comfortable settling down in). Also, I think that he would have started the Big Data trend that has only caught on recently. With this, he would be among one of the first software-related billionaires in the world. I am pretty sure no shortage of girls/models/actresses then, unless he’s already married by the time he hits success…

Well, hope this answer provides for a decent reading…

Sai’s Note: For those that do not know, in Quora terminology, A2A stands for Ask to Answer. That is when someone wants you to answer a particular question, and also gives away some of their own points to motivate you to answer.

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New Year’s Writing Resolution

So, here we are in the New Year – 2015 of the Gregorian calendar. My resolution this year has been to get to write more. I had an interesting discussion with a professional writer as to how to get this regular scheduled thing going on, and also as to how he keeps getting the flow of ideas streaming along.

Since I told him that my primary aim is to maintain a blog, before getting into any subject- or topic-focussed writing going, what he suggested was that I should get some discipline going:

Write something down daily, even if only a few lines a day. Keep this up for at least two to three months, and by then, you will not be worrying about either of those two things. Also, you will have developed your individual writing style by then.

This is what he told me to do, and stick to. I have been doing it for the past two-three days really, but in a notebook of my own – nothing worth putting down here. But finally I seem to have hit upon an idea that I think I can write about on here. That will come up after this, obviously. If I am not able to finish the piece tonight (too late now, after all), I promise it will be up on here tomorrow.

So, here’s hoping that there will be plenty more that I can put up here, instead of in my notebook. I know that I haven’t got more than one reader I can count on right now, but reader-count is not what I am doing this for – not right now, at least. ūüėõ

“BIG BEN” Before Becoming the Clock Tower Name….

It is quite an interesting tale, how the name Big Ben became popular, and became used to refer to bulky Benjamins, one of whom eventually lent his name to the famous clock tower in London. It all started long before in the streets of London itself (where else?) in Woolwich in the mid-1600’s.

Let us go back to those days into the dockyards of Woolwich, and meet Benedict, the man this piece is about. In those days he was not called Big Ben. No, then he was called¬†Big Dick, because he was a dick; there is no delicate way of putting it, no better way of putting it ‚Äď that was simply what he was. Growing up among the docks, working with the dockworkers and deckhands, it could be understandable to have a bit a coarse nature, but he was a bad man who was feared by those very same dockworkers. There were others like him in town ‚Äď in fact, the army posted a battalion in regular attendance to prevent major fights and any damage to goods coming in or going out from Woolwich. Yet he was the most feared.

And then, one day, it all changed. No one knows what happened exactly ‚Äď he never said much. It all changed, and for the better… [Ed‚Äôs note ‚Äď From what scant evidence there is available from a priest‚Äôs diary about a confession, all that can be said is that he had a direct talk with a young child who didn‚Äôt know who he was and just asked why grown-ups like him do such awful bullying, which led to his own introspection]

Since the change he took up a personal crusade of sorts. What the army battalion had been posted to do, he started doing on his own. He started getting the help of the armed men when strictly necessary, but tried getting the dockworkers to organize themselves to work better, and save money to improve their lives. Those same people that used to call him Big Dick behind his back out of fear now called him just Dick or Ben out of affection. Over time, he had his new friends in the military help him have the new ordinance storage depot in Woolwich start armaments/ammunition manufacture to create new jobs in his village. People (even those in the army) were already calling him Big Ben out of love and respect by then… the touch of white in his hair helped, no doubt.

Big Dick to Dick to Ben to Big Ben ‚Äď quite a journey for a man that ended up touching quite a lot of lives…

Note:¬†This is all imaginary stuff (obviously) I had to write because I wanted to write something, and when I asked a friend for an idea, the first thing he said was ‚ÄúBig Dick‚ÄĚ. Of course, his nickname in college was Little Dick, and I suppose that is still subconsciously gnawing at his mind. ūüėõ I thought about writing that, but this seemed better. Dedicated, of course, to the one who gave the idea. To AK, LD6. ūüėĬ† Comment away, everyone‚Ķ

Originally written – 17 March 2014.

Something I wrote for Rakhi…

I look back at my life – at all the odds and ends
And I have to say this to one of my best friends

You taught me a lot
Whether I realized it then or not
What to do when sad
When things were really bad
You were always there for me
Showing me how to be happy

I hope I learnt it well enough
But I know what to do
When life gets rough
All I need is to talk to you

Yes, we’ve had our petty squabbles and our big fights
From the perceived and the all-too-intended slights
But if I had to live my life anew
I’d want as my sister, always, you!

This is dedicated primarily to my Akka (elder sister in Telugu), who is obviously the  inspiration. But I’d also like to dedicate this to all my other sisters  (since some or most of it is true about each and every one of them) Рlisted other names on FB not listed here.

Originally written – August 1, 2012.

Yet Another LOTR thing

In my last post I said: “There are those who believe that Harry Potter¬† is up there at the top of the fantasy pile, but believe me, HP comes¬† nowhere even close to the amazing series that is LOTR.”

To which, Krithiga said:
“I¬† wish people stopped comparing the two. Each has its own merit and short¬† comings. In Tolkien’s case – it is the inability to sustain the¬† interest of a casual reader and in JK Rowling’s case it is the some¬† times Hollywood type sub-plots. Both are vast, have adorable characters,¬† both are rich in terms of beings and beasts. It’s really impossible to¬† rate one better than the other. May be the films, yes, LoTR is one of¬† the best films ever made, but story wise it’s just impossible. So is the¬† case with other books in the “Fantasy pile” – Philip Pullman, for¬† instance.”

First off, let me clear up about the movies. Yes, LOTR¬† is the much better adaptation – one of the few cases where I think the¬† movie was¬†almost¬†as good as the¬† book. Harry Potter movies, sadly, leave much to be desired. I wasn’t¬† referring to the movies when I said HP comes nowhere close to LOTR.

Yes,¬† LOTR makes it difficult for the casual reader to stick with it and¬† finish reading it – sad, but true. However, I never was a casual reader,¬† and so I can’t really sympathize with them. It still shocks me that¬† people find LOTR “difficult to read”, when such a beautiful work compels¬† one to read on and on. Harry Potter, on that count, wins hands down. I¬† know a few friends who started “reading” properly after getting on the¬† HP series.

While HP may have it’s fair share of good characters,¬† and a wide array of “beings and beasts”, it is not vast. It isn’t,¬† whatever people may say. It is a rather straightforward story about a¬† boy facing a great, evil, Dark Lord. Not in it are the complex¬† intertwining relationships where the deeds of many, big and small,¬† finally affect the ending. Some may say that in LOTR as well, it all¬† rested on whether Frodo destroys the One Ring or not, and that is all¬† the story is about. LOTR is more than that. It is not just the overthrow¬† of evil. It is also the establishment of that which is fair and good –¬† where many wounds need to be healed and many wrongs set right, for such¬† is the vast scope of that story.

LOTR is the product of a great¬† imagination. To have built a whole world, and its history and mythology¬† is definitely a lot more than a single story – however clever the plots¬† and references made within it. LOTR encompasses many things which HP¬† simply can’t hope to – not any longer at least, seeing as it is coming to¬† its end. Anurag has¬† said that HP has a lot of plots “flicked shamelessly” from LOTR. To¬† that, I have this to say – “Dude, it isn’t that HP flicks from LOTR, it¬† is just that LOTR has so much that very few fantasy writers in the¬† future can ever get out of its shadow!” Tolkien simply envisaged every¬† kind of character that can be present in any “good vs. evil” plot.¬† Period! That is why I said LOTR lies there, right at the top of the¬† fantasy pile.

I can go on and on about why LOTR is much better.¬† Die-hard fans of HP would never agree, and even when they like LOTR as¬† much, they would still say that it is not fair to compare them both. I¬† would say it is not fair to compare them both as well. Harry Potter is a¬† good series, no doubt. And I am glad that it grew from a pretty¬† children’s story to a good “grown-up” (should I say?) one – makes for¬† much better reading to those of us who are getting older. It has¬† achieved cult status, but will not become a classic. The Lord of the¬† Rings, on the other hand, is an epic and a classic. It wouldn’t be fair¬† to treat it on par with HP – that would be like comparing the Valar with¬† mortal Men, Numenorean though they be! Noble they might be, but not for¬† them the grace of the Eldar!

PS:¬†I know that I haven’t really put forth very well why LOTR is the best. I¬† wanted to get some things out of the way, collect my thoughts, and put¬† in a coherent piece here. But well, the previous post had too much¬† discussion threatening to break loose. I wanted that to continue on this¬† post – hence the hasty post. Krithiga, I also replied on Anurag’s¬† behalf about the discussion you wanted to be a part of in the comments¬† for the previous post there.

Originally written – April 26, 2006.

Another LOTR thing

OK, so it‚Äôs been quite a long time¬† since the movies came out, and the craze obviously is not anymore there.¬† And, I did write about the books and the movies already. But I think¬† that there can‚Äôt be enough said about these books ever – I don’t think I¬† can ever be done talking about them. I don‚Äôt need to get into all the¬† reasons why JRR Tolkien is a genius, and why LOTR is by far the best¬† work of fantasy ever written. There are those who believe that Harry¬† Potter is up there at the top of the fantasy pile, but believe me, HP¬† comes nowhere even close to the amazing series that is LOTR. But let me¬† get to the point of this post.

I¬† was watching the LOTR movies on cable last weekend ‚Äď hence the post.¬† There are undoubtedly many fabulous characters in the series, and it¬† would just be impossible for anyone who read the series to pick out just¬† one whom they liked the most. Does one pick the King, Aragorn? The¬† powerful and wise wizard, Gandalf? The fleet-footed, keen-eyed Legolas?¬† The serious, stocky Gimli? The Elder Elf, Elrond? The Dark Lord himself,¬† Sauron? The fair, intelligent Faramir? Frodo, who proved stronger than¬† anyone expected him to be? Galadriel, the fairest of them all? How can¬† one choose? And yet, in most lists that people (at least those I know)¬† seldom seem to mention Samwise Gamgee! And that, to me, is simply sad.

How¬† could such a beautifully crafted character simply fall out of people‚Äôs¬† attention? Of course, he was always second fiddle to Frodo, in a way.¬† But, as Frodo himself says, ‚Äú‚ÄôTell me about Master Samwise Gamgee‚Äô, and¬† people would say, ‚ÄėYes, Samwise Gamgee ‚Äď Frodo couldn‚Äôt have gone as far¬† as he did without Samwise, the brave‚Äô‚ÄĚ or something quite close to¬† that. Here is a hobbit who is true to himself and to his friends. One¬† who goes willingly into peril for his master, his friend. One who¬† provides Frodo the strength to go ahead with his rather burdensome task.¬† One who retains his wonder at everything the world has to offer,¬† in spite of all he has seen. A hobbit full of wisdom and commonsense, a¬† true friend! And the list goes on‚Ķ but what more does one need to say?

I  admit that I can’t choose one character as my favorite among the many  great ones in the series, and then not change my mind immediately. But I  am sure that Samwise Gamgee is there right on top along with all the  others I like, maybe more than most of the others.

Originally written – April 20, 2006.

My first bit of creative writing, if I can call it that…

I am a lonely person. I am a busy person. To explain what I do is actually pretty simple. Now that I have some time on my hands, let me do just that. But this short note on myself will not be as simple as what I do, because I am very complex.

I am the head of an international enterprise. I hold the absolute monopoly in the field and that explains why I am so busy. I have been doing the same thing for as long as I remember. I am too old now to even contemplate those heady early days¬† when I first sensed the opportunity. Now, of course, everyone knows what¬† I do. In fact, no one on this planet can say that they haven’t known me.¬† I am in the transportation and courier services industry – to put it very broadly. But let me assure you, this is unlike any of those¬† overnight or overseas delivery companies you see advertised on TV and hoardings and where-not these days. My service is the fastest and the most wide-spread one by far. I provide my services to everyone, and I don’t charge a penny! There are, however, many related industries which thrive because of work that¬†I do. I don’t have any problem whatsoever with that. To each his own. All I ever wanted was power, absolute power, which I wield already.

I run a very tight ship, taking care of almost all the transactions my enterprise is involved in. Not for me the laissez-faire management and delegation that every one seems to engage in nowadays. This has led many to believe that I am at many places at the same time. They are not too wrong actually. Of course, I do give a lot of leeway to my dedicated development staff. They’re still learning. In the early years of my career, I used to be very innovative, if I say so myself. I was the first one to realize the benefits of economy in bulk. I was the pioneer in mass-targeted outreach campaigns. At the same time I am also a strong advocate of personalized individual attention for all my clients. Little surprise then that my client√®le includes the best among men, and the worst among men. Not that they have any alternate choice in the¬† matter. Call me boastful if you will, but this is the truth. It’s been too long since those days though. Everything those kids in development tell me nowadays, I have done before. But there are some exciting new ideas, which seem very promising in the field trials. Of course, they’re all variations of previous experiences of mine. I am getting bored – maybe it is because of the monopoly I have! You wouldn’t have seen me indulging in such retrospective musings just sometime back.

There¬† are, however, some interesting wrinkles to iron over every now and then. Some people don’t quite understand that they don’t have a choice in whether they deal with me or not. It’s just a matter of time. I am patient; I can wait. You’d come to me yourself someday. If you don’t, I’ll come myself, personally, to make sure you don’t miss your appointment with me. Considerate of me, isn’t it? There are again those who think that they’d deal with me on their own terms – fat chance of that actually being true. I think I deserve to use those words immortalized by Don Corleone more than he ever did – I make people the offers they can’t refuse,¬†really can’t refuse. To all those pretentious many who think they can say that they’ve¬†¬† dealt with me on their own terms, I have this to say – I win all the time; and the terms are my own. Do not deceive yourselves.

There goes my buzzer – I am already late for an appointment, and in spite of the monopoly I have, I don’t believe in keeping people waiting. I have been too cryptic so far. So let me introduce myself and get this over with.

I am the Grim Reaper. Yes, I am Death… And I will come see you sometime. You can count on that, if on nothing else!

Sai’s Note – I have been wanting to write something for quite a while now.¬† These last two sentences “I am the Grim Reaper. Yes, I am Death!” popped up in my head, from nowhere. So this is a very poor attempt at expanding on those two sentences without giving out anything in all that precedes these sentences. Hopefully this isn’t too bad an attempt – I solely blame my long layoff period from writing for anything bad about this piece. Feedback welcome, obviously.

Originally written РJanuary 29, 2006. 

Life’s Simple Pleasures…

There are some things in life which¬† are immensely satisfying – as someone said “It‚Äôs the simple things in¬† life that matter”. By this, I don’t mean in anyway the poetic allusions¬† to smelling the flowers, looking at nature, hearing brooks pass by¬† making lovely sounds. No, no! Mine are much much simpler – so here goes a¬† small list…

Waking up after a good sleep¬† – Usually¬† we hear about a good night’s sleep. I get the same pleasure out of a¬† good sound sleep anytime of the day. How different can it be if it is in¬† the night or in the afternoon? Of course, the one after a hard day’s¬† work is obviously much more enjoyable, but who puts in a real “hard¬† day’s work” nowadays?

Eating a tasty meal¬† – Those of us¬† that have stayed in a hostel, or otherwise away from home for a¬† considerable amount of time know exactly what I mean. The others – well,¬† it can’t be explained. So just take this one from me.

Having a glass (or more) of cold water on a hot humid day¬† – Cold drinks just don’t compare with a glass of nice cool water. So¬† refreshing, and as the water goes down the dry throat – well, almost¬† heaven!

Meeting old friends after a long time  РAhh! The good old days!

My¬† ideal day (for now) would be getting up after a good night’s sleep,¬† eating the great food Mom makes, and then heading out to meet friends¬† over a couple of glasses of (or more, again) … well, anything! ;-p and¬† then head back home for another nice sleep session…

But, here comes the clincher – I don’t think that all these even compare to how good the following feels –

Taking a leak¬† after having held it in for what then seems like eons… I don’t think¬† anyone can deny that this is as close to heaven as one can get for a¬† few seconds here on earth. The relief – nothing in the world can trouble¬† anyone in those 2-3 seconds of the initial burst…

So, let me¬† hear some of what the others think about such ideas as the simple¬† pleasures in life… maybe I missed some on my list that I would have¬† otherwise included…

Originally written – April 8, 2005.

The IIT Brand… is it that necessary to us?

A female friend of a friend of mine who’s at IIT:
“You know, you are ideal boyfriend material : XYZ caste boy, smart, intelligent, and more importantly, from IIT!!!

Well,¬† as flattering as it may sound that gals think we are “ideal boyfriend¬† material” and may even consider taking us home to the folks, I don’t¬† take kindly to the “more importantly, from IIT” bit.

Admittedly,¬† most of us have dreamt of being in that club which theoretically¬† includes the best brains in India. But once reaching there one thing¬† that most, nay all of us have realized is that though we may have¬† cleared one of the tougher entrance tests and ‘proved’ our mettle, what¬† really matters in the end, on campus – and for most, off it – is not the¬† fact that we had a better education, but that we made some memorable¬† friends that stay for life. Ask any IITian what he remembers from¬† his/her campus life, and I am willing to bet my hand (forgive the¬† cliche) that they’d refer to some anecdote of hostel life or the various¬† hang-out spots present on every campus.

Though IITs do play a¬† great part in how we shape up as individuals, what we are is not¬† determined by IITs, but by what we choose to take out of them… “more¬† importantly IIT”… well, it ain’t that important to us, if anyone is¬† bothered to know. Apart from the pressure to keep up a front of¬† superiority, which none of us feel, being branded is not what we want.¬† Most of those who come into the IIT system are already highly¬† individualistic people who are each unique in their own way, and I think¬† that branding them all is not just an insult to the individuals, but¬† also to the system that made them unique in the first place.

It¬† was not just this girl’s comment that made me write this down. Sometime¬† back, I was reading an article about IIMs and how nowadays a majority of¬† the students there are from an IIT background. The author goes on to¬† write “the IITians no doubt would be circulating this article in email¬† forwards patting themselves on the back… blah blah blah”… Do people¬† really think that we are such egotistical idiots who take the first¬† opportunity at “blowing our own trumpets” as a former prof of mine was¬† fond of saying? Well, no doubt that we are immensely proud of our being¬† alumni of such great institutions, but we value the fact that what we¬† learned most from that place is that we are not special because we got¬† in, or survived 4/5 years in the system, as may be the case. The place –¬† and the system, even – is special to us because of the people who made¬† up the place with us, and what we all shared. I think this is something¬† that people see in almost all other educational institutions. I don’t¬† know why people tend to glorify us – well, I can’t say I have a problem¬† with that. My problem is that in glorifying us, people tend to¬† concentrate on things that are not special to us, this special set!

I¬† really didn’t know what I would write when I started this… just¬† pouring out on the keyboard whatever is coming to mind, and so the post¬† may look logically unrelated to the start. This is just what I felt as I¬† sat down and this post just came onto the keyboard without much¬† intervening thought process. So in the end this post is really a¬† rambling, but I don’t care. The “more importantly IIT” specification¬† leaves as bad a taste in my mouth as does the “XYZ caste boy”, though I¬† perfectly understand the importance of the latter specification to many¬† in India.

Finally, yes, we are proud of what we were, what we¬† are, and we know that our time at IIT did indeed help us become what we¬† are. But – and I think almost everyone else from IIT would agree with me¬† here – we would have become as special anywhere else if we had this¬† same set of friends and companions-in-misery as we had in IITs. So¬† please, we may indeed be ideal boyfriend material, but its more¬† importantly because we are smart and intelligent, and not “more¬† importantly, from IIT”…

Update:¬†Well, I¬† don’t think I made myself even remotely clear as to what I meant in the¬† whole rambling above… Well, all the IITians I have known – seniors,¬† juniors, my batch-mates, people from other IITs – are special in their¬† own way. My problem as such is not that people make us out to be a¬† special set, but the reasons they give. I mean, saying that we are¬† special just because we made it to IITs is a gross injustice to all of¬† us – we all are special indeed and we are special in our own personal¬† way. I believe we all made it because we are special, and not the other¬† way round. I may sound very conceited, but that’s how I feel. This is¬† not to say that those who haven’t made it are less special or anything –¬† just that we had some extra luck favoring us that fated day as well…

Originally written – November 14, 2004.