Monday, March 30, 2009

Moving Eastward

Its time for a new chapter to begin in my life. I am relocating to Yahoo's office in Singapore. Today is my last day in Bangalore. That's the easy part to say. Now to the tough part.

What prompted this? My recent travels to a few countries opened me to the significant cultural differences that I thought would be great to learn, absorb & appreciate. Also, the travel bug had bitten both me and my wife and we thought this would be a great time to spend some time traveling, especially before other responsibilities catch up with us. So, time was ripe for me to move on. At the same time, Yahoo provided me with an opportunity to continue my engagement with them out of Singapore and it was a win-win arrangement.

Why Singapore? After my visit there last year, I was most impressed with the city. It has fantastic public transportation, has built a great nation in spite of not having much natural resources, has propagated communal harmony in spite of being a pot boiler of multiple religions and cultures. Its also a place that's very inviting with great immigration laws and comfortable life for expats. Its also a great hub to commute around most of south east Asia. And finally, Yahoo has a office with some significant engineering work being done out of there and they offered me an option to work out that location.

While pointing out the good things, there are of course significant shortcomings also - a horrible weather, a very big carbon footprint due to importing everything they require, a insecure system which relies of fickle expats (22% of population) for their economy to grow and a system thats often criticized for being only a pseudo democracy with significant media restrictions. These things bother me, but just enough for me to decide against going there. Probably living there would give me a different perspective on these.

What about Bangalore? Well, I can't say the same great things about Bangalore - but it has been a good home for me and my family over the past 4 years. I have also been a good resident, paying all taxes, investing locally (and hence contributing to the local economy) and celebrating the same festivals that Kannadigas celebrate. Though I have been a vocal critic of some of the issues plaguing the city, I see a lot of hope in where this city can go with action groups and active communities contributing to make this a better place. With the intellectual capital brewing in the city, I also think, it might be the epicentre of creating the change agents that the country requires to move to the next level of development.

I will miss a few things from my life in Bangalore:
  • Friends - I have been blessed with acquiantances of some great people during my stay here and instead of taking names - I would just say each one of them has contributed to enriching my life here.
  • My ex-colleagues across all my three employers - Trilogy, Ugenie and Yahoo have made me a better person, a better professional and it has been a good learning experience. I hope I have contributed to their causes as well.
  • The weather - when you are heading to Singapore with a horrible hot weather through the year, there are probably 360 days you are going to long to come back to the brilliant weather back in Bangalore.
  • My favorite eating/drinking joints - ranging from the upscale Ebony to the down-to-earth darshinis and the always good Stones and the creamy-ice-creamy Corner House - have been great memories and I hope they stay with me forever. Kesari Bath, Rava Masala Dosa and Hot Chocolate Fudge will rate the highest here.
  • My own home at Mahaveer Nest, Devara Chikana Halli and the locality, that has grown on me with acquiantances with all the shopkeepers and the presence of the serene Aiyyappa Temple being a tempering influence on me, will not be there anymore for me to return to everyday in the evening.
These are some of my thoughts before I head out there. I will keep you all posted after reaching there on some of my experiences.

Saturday, March 28, 2009

The Iyer is back (in my surname)

Well, this month, I formally changed my name to include my surname "Iyer" into all my official records. My name has been taking twists and turns over the past few years. The reasons for that are mostly historical in nature. Till my grandfather's generation, the Iyer surname was well in use, but sometime around the time my father was born, which was at the peak of Dravidian movement, using the Brahmin surname become very unpopular, and so, that generation en-mass dropped the surnames and just adopted initials. (Note: This story and explanation are just what I gathered from talking to a few people and I could be quite wrong. Correct me if I am wrong.)

Following up on that, my initial records were all "V Shreeniwas". When I applied for my first passport (when still in college), the Passport office wouldn't accept initials and hence I became "Shreeniwas Venkatesan", but as it became fashionable to again put the Iyer surname, I did so and bunch of other documents have my name as "Shreeniwas V Iyer" or "Shreeniwas Iyer". It was getting messy. I decided to finally reconcile all of it to the name "Shreeniwas Venkatesan Iyer", which pretty much solves all of it.

So, I signed a affidavit, got it notarized, published the changes to two newspapers (Deccan Herald and Prajavani), applied for a "Miscellaneous Change" at the passport office and got a sparkling new passport with my now newly acquired name.

While I did all this, I was wondering how many people would have actually read my name change notice in the newspapers. I was pleasantly surprised to know that there is an Indian site that is tracking these changes and this was captured there.

ps: I was not a egosurfing cruise, I was just checking out the hypothesis presented by Robin Wauters about twitter tags at TechCrunch.

Administrative note

All tech posts have now moved to http://tech.shreeni.info or you may subscribe to its RSS feed. In due course, I shall be moving it out completely, so if you follow my tech posts, please shift to following that blog.