Portrait of a lady in McLeod Ganj

Simply brilliant!

Joshi Daniel Photography

Black and white portrait of an old woman from McLeod Ganj, Dharmsala, Himachal Pradesh Street vendor | Mcleod Ganj, Dharamsala, Himachal Pradesh, India

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Happy Solo-ship!

“To wander is to be alive.”
Roman Payne, Europa: Limited Time Edition

The idea of traveling solo, goes way deep into an individual’s personality. For me, it’s in the search of freedom and peace!

Solo trips have taught me a lot of things, the major one being self realization. When I’d first moved out of my house for college, I treated myself as a free bird 🙂 Unaware of the real world or it’s actors, that I was kept away from so long. Thus, I learned the concepts of “betrayal”, “hypocrite” and “true love”.

This adventure started in my life from 2008, when I’d traveled alone for the first time, to Mandarmani. I still recall the fear as well as happiness I’d experienced during that journey and stay. Having no job at that time, my only option was saving from the monthly cash I was sent from home. With that, I could afford just-enough food for 2 days.

My next few travels began from 2013, starting with me setting foot in the States. Even though I’d not call this (these) as leisure travel(s), I did explore a lot of places and things on my own. Post this, I explored Bangalore (where I was staying since 2010), on foot and bus. Next, I explored Puducherry, Hyderabad and Varkala.

All of these travels have shown me different things every time –

  • How well one can stay with minimum spend on accommodation and food.
  • How to meet new people and actually talk to them with a free mind and heart.
  • Serenity is best achieved with no thoughts in mind.
  • Ways of fighting your worst of fears and realizing they never were or can be true.
  • When various difficulties arrive out of nowhere, how help approaches, also out of nowhere.
  • You automatically obliterate every bug from your regular life.
  • Learn how to read various people; their expressions, emotions and moods, with focused observation.
    • Believe it or not, it helped & still helps me know the different kinds 🙂
  • It’s easier to complete your to-do list with no set planning needed.
  • It’s not so difficult for a female to travel unaccompanied or independent.
  • How much some things or people back home mean and matter for you.
  • When you see some old couple having fun on their vacation, if you feel the view, you realize a lot about life.
  • The biggest thing is…. you are not the only solo one there.

“…if we’re all alone, then we’re all together in that too.”

– P.S. I Love You (2007)

So far I’ve taken very few solitary vacations, but I’m hungry to see more and I’m sure I will!

20151128_075634

Having been to the mountains, snow, forest, desert and plain beautiful architectures, I evidently discovered that I love the sea THE MOST! It helps me soothe my soul!!!

 

The Good, Bad and Reality!

A very common way of greeting someone unknown –

Hi! How’re you doing?

This takes me back to October’14, when I was flying back from a business trip in Charlotte. I was at the airport 5 hours ahead of my flight time, because I had to meet one of my friend, who was flying in that day from NJ. Well, she landed on time and we only had a short duration in between to hug each other and exchange few presents, before I had to board. While we were crossing the terminals (we’d run back to take food from the main terminal), walking towards my gate, they’d actually announced a change in the gate number which I never heard. This led to my first miss of itinerary.

So, I waited until the next flight, which already had a long queue of on-hold passengers. But, I convinced the officer to let me board explaining my situation and the flight was a great one as here’s where the story began…

I was pretty nervous about not making it on time to catch my connecting flight and also the current flight was delayed by 1/2 hour. There, I met my first lesson – Michael (from Missouri). He noticed my restlessness and out of curiosity just asked – “How’re you doing?”

Being an emotionally extrovert person as I am – “Not so good. I have another flight to catch from Dulles and this flight is just not flying yet.” He smiled and started having a relaxing conversation with me. There he suggested me an option –

“Forget collecting your baggage from Dulles and just board your next flight. Once you reach Doha, just give Qatar a call and say that your luggage didn’t come. They’ll send it on the next flight.”

Once we reached Dulles, a Qatar personnel stopped quite a few of us stating that our luggage will be coming right away. What she missed out on stating was that; they were the hand checked baggage! So, I ran to get my luggage (forgetting what Michael had told me) and by the time I reached the Qatar counter, there was only one lady present, to tell me – “The flight is closed!”

Lesson Learnt: At times, it’s good to not panic and take other’s suggestions!

Part 2 of this experience involves, meeting a Pakistani. Since I was stuck in Dulles until next day’s same flight, I had to visit the Qatar office, to make my reservation for the same. There was the girl (Zuni) who was talking very bluntly with me until she realized that I’m an Indian and she said “Namaste” with a smile. She then helped me book a ticket (told me to pay by card, the next day at the counter), make a discounted reservation for the night stay and arrange for a shuttle to take me to the hotel. There, she also made me an offer –

“Why don’t you just carry your clothes for the night along with other important things and leave behind the rest here, until you come back tomorrow for the flight.”

I bought that option and left for the hotel. When I called back a person from my office, informing about the situation, I was asked a question – “Was she looking trust worthy and wearing an uniform?”

Even though my answer was Yes, I was haunted by the absurd thoughts of what could go wrong with my baggage, for the rest of the night…

Part 3 is the best one as here’s where I met the most influential person of this experience – Zalfa.

After checking out the next day, I had no other option than wait in the lobby since my flight was not until 10:30 PM that night. While watching TV there, a lady passes by me and sits on the empty sofa by my side. And then she asks me the question with a smile –

How’s your day been?

My response was a true one – “not so good”. Her reply was “Don’t worry! You’ll be fine.”

I thought that she’s not understanding my situation; I’m not able to go home… Then our conversations began and she asked how I got stuck there. I re-iterated my story from the beginning. Then I asked her the same question, and the answer I got made me realize that, I’m going through Nothing!

I’m from Syria and I can’t go home!

Our conversation continued and went till the personal level…By now, she knew that I am the only child of my parents and the fact that I’m not into the normal factors of getting married and having a child, despite having a guy back home.

There, she shared some of her experiences, where in she’d had 3 failed marriages for dropping her baby without her husband’s consent (because she thought, it’s her body and hence, her wish) and how she feels now, that her decision was wrong. She explained me the importance, need and beauty of marriage. She talked about the love of a baby (your own as well as adopted). We talked for about 5 hours, until I had to go to the airport to collect my luggage and start back home.

By the time I was on the flight, with all my luggage’s securely checked in (they were as I’d left them last night), I had new ways of looking at things. I landed back home with a changed me!

The Good: No harm came my way, as could have on a foreign land. Instead, the whole incident changed my thought process on a lot of things!

The Bad: You will ALWAYS take stupid and wrong decisions with an uncool mind. I faced my consequences of missing the first flight, just because I had to get food 🙂

The Reality: Strangers can leave larger impact than your own! You are not the only one having a bad day!

Human & Food!

Anything good that satisfies human (an individual), is food. Rest are just junk 🙂

The word Food, has a deeper meaning than what’s just found in the restaurants!

In a sentence, food is something that’s made out of raw materials, cooked properly. But it may not necessarily be always satisfying.

So what do you do with the food?

The first thought that comes in your mind must be -“consume it”. But is that the only thing you do?

No!

First: You see it.

Second: You smell it.

Third: You touch it.

Fourth: You taste it.

Fifth: You chew it.

Sixth: You consume it.                 It doesn’t end here…

Seventh: You digest it 🙂

Food(1)

Pic source: theinspirationroom.com

Now, think which parts of your body were used in the entire process… Everything! This was about the food, that goes to only one part of our body; the Stomach.

What are the rest?

  • Thoughts, that are food to our brain.
  • Moisturizer, that is food to our skin.
  • Emotions, that are food to our heart.
  • Environment (natural and artificial), that is food to our sense organs.
  • Apparel and accessories, that are food to our entire body.

There are more, of course!

Why do we need food?

To live every moment of our mortality. But again, every food is not good for us… That’s why we have – Junk

This was just food for human. We have other living beings & things as well, that have their separate set of food needs.

Food for thought?

A BASIC IDEA ON AGILE SOFTWARE DEVELOPMENT

The “What Is” Factor

Planning always starts with You!

Out of the many basic models available to develop software, Agile is considered as one of the most pragmatic development approach. This model involves breaking down the entire product into small bits and progressing with them in iterations (not the Iterative model).

 

We Know Waterfall

The most archaic and commonly used model in SDLC, this methodology has never lost its limelight. It is a very easy-to-manage-and-understand kind of a structure, that follows a very simple mantra –

Wrap up one and move on!!!

Based on the information and lessons gathered from its previous phase of development, the entire project plan is sequentially laid down.

Then The “Why” Comes

Even though Waterfall can help wrap up a project easily, need of flexibility and “ongoing project” factor can act as a needle to the balloon. Once a phase of development is completed, there is no room for revise-and-fix until the Maintenance stage of the workflow. Then come the challenges of timelines, extended work hours and defects, which ultimately articulates as –

We cannot move forward for Go-Live…

With Agile methodology, a lot of these can be curtailed. This model accentuates interaction among the customers, analysts, developers and testers, and speeds up the process of problem solving. Need of exhaustive documents is diminished, leaving time for in-depth analysis and the verification of code becomes possible at each stage of development. The entire design being broken down into pieces, the team defines –

  • “What to be developed” in each iteration
  • How much time is needed to code a piece
  • Review of code
  • Testing the developed piece
  • Running through integrated test scenarios and scripts

and delivers what was asked-for.

Since the users are able to verify the working code post iteration completion, the evolutions (if identified) are easily implemented with the upcoming iterations. This helps tune the requirements at a stage when they are easily modifiable.

The Types

Extreme Programming a.k.a. XP

To understand this method of development, think of a kid building the blocks.

Kid

Day 1: The kid sees the picture of a castle, so he knows what he wants and by when. So he gathers the set of blocks that he needs. He builds the top of the castle first and keeps it aside. Then he starts building the body, while doing which he keeps on changing what he’s building every time, as it’s not meeting his desire.

Day 2: He finished building the body and now starts working on the base. After completing the base, he’s now ready to attach the three parts. Before doing so, he revisits the top part of the castle and finds a color mismatch in them, so he decides to change it.

Day 3: He attaches all the parts of the blocks and is ready with his castle. He matches it against the picture he’d seen and is happy with the results.

The above is very novice layout of how this process works. Below is a formal illustration –

Extreme

The user stories are mainly written or at least reviewed by the customer. Based on these stories the functional and technical designs are created. The coding of one story will involve at least 2 developers and post development of the story the same gets tested by the user, owing to which, the end product is an assured success. An important term that is used and tracked in this methodology is Velocity. This mainly derives the number of stories completed every iteration, thereby driving the project schedule and release plans.

Pros:

  • The stories for coding come directly from the end-users’ perspective.
  • Developers are provided the time needed for the coding of any particular piece.
  • Allocation of items to resources is done based on the individual’s knowledge.
  • Review of code is done by a different developer than the one coded.
  • Testing of the coded piece is done by users prior to release.
  • Resultant design is achieved faster and successfully.
  • Parallel development becomes a possible chance, with proper merge of code on completion.

Cons:

  • One piece of code may be touched by more than one developer.
  • If code review is not done properly, next iteration’s development on the same piece may get impacted.
  • The end-users are expected to be involved throughout.
  • A piece of code being worked upon by multiple developers need to be properly integrated and coordinated with, in order to avoid overwriting.
  • Allocation of items may not always be sequential; one resource may get assigned a story that can be developed after another resource’s completion.

Scrum

You are told what you have to do and by when, in the beginning itself – you don’t know anything else!

Scrum

The captain of the team lays out the plan –

“Bob to John; John to Tim; Tim to Marty; Marty scores. Pass on the ball within 25 seconds and the rest of us will take care of the obstacles. GO!!!”

Scrum-1

Product backlog is a consolidated list of requirements, which are not planned for any development yet. This includes all the enhancements, defects and cosmetic changes as well. The Scrum Master is a person responsible for the entire cycle of the model, starting from allocating time and resources to backlogs till the code merge and release.

The entire process in this methodology is tracked by the use of a Burndown Chart. This mainly derives the number of backlogs completed in every sprint, thereby driving the project progress and further sprint plans.

Pros:

  • In each sprint, the team identifies the changes needed for any implementation.
  • Developers are always documenting their code along with any clarification and/or learning gathered during the development.
  • The allocation of items, since done by one person (Scrum Master), is always taken up proceduraly (what needs to be developed first).

Cons:

  • Assigning backlogs is not done based on a developer’s technical strengths. This may lead to delay in completion.
  • Time allocated against each backlog is based on the technical difficulty rather than developer requirement.
  • Since only one person is the owner of the entire process until the end, it may become an overload for the individual.

What Will Suite Us?

The unceasing communication between teams and rapid development of small bits of the entire product is the main tune of the Agile methodology. For an efficacious project, the vision till the testing process should be clear from the beginning.

Being the enterprise-wide GRC solutions provider and having delighted some of the world’s market giants with their team work, MetricStream can definitely think of Agile as a winning alternative to Waterfall. Having the teams sitting together already, it will be a piece-of-cake factor to make everyone work with proper coordination and beat the complexity of multiple resources working on one piece by introducing Object (form) locking.

Conclusion

With the combination of XP and Scrum, Agile can make the project more control and direction oriented. This method, apart from making everyone work together throughout, also gives them a huge exposure different learnings as well as client interaction. Meetings like –

  • Design Review: where the proposed design is reviewed by the users and approval is taken.
  • Daily Stand Up/Scrum: where the daily progress, roadblocks (if any) and updates are discussed.
  • Planning: where the planning for the upcoming iteration or sprint is decided along with resources’ leave plans.
  • Retrospective: where the team talks about the positives, negatives and improvements (if needed) from the past iteration/sprint.
  • Demo: where the developed piece is demoed to the business to take feedback and sign-offs.

will always make sure, to keep the project on track.

Then again, we always have to keep buffer for unexpected things; like Monday sick-leaves!

We see ourselves everywhere, every day… till the end !!!

Ever traveled in a public transport or walked down some lane alone? Try to remember when you were a kid and while travelling with your parents, if you saw some high-school kid going alone; you’d think – When will I be going to high-school?

When in high-school, you saw some college student and you thought – In a few years, that’ll be me, all funky dressed up, going to higher education and having fun!

When in college (and if you’re outside your home land), you go to some shopping/eating place with friends and see some salaried person spending the hell out of his/her pocket; you think – In some years, that’s me doing that!

When working (staying away from parents), on your commute to office (or any business travel), you see:

an infant crying in his/her parent’s lap – These are the best days; I was there…

a small kid going to school – That was me, just few days back; setting foot for the first time in school…

dressed up college students, laughing their heart out – Oh, those were the days…

an old couple, supporting each other – that’s where it’s going to end………

All along, we kept/keep seeing ourselves thru someone else, but don’t realize the same. Life is too short to keep wishing for things.

Do It !!!

Religion is not a crime

“Human Being” is a wonderful creation by Almighty. The intention behind this creation was to give capability to feel, think, love, express, be generous and kind. With evolution of this race evolved a more brutal concept; Inhumanity. 

In today’s world, the biggest enemy of any person, is another one. The most uncertain thing that can happen to someone, is also a person. If you come to think of all the reason behind these, you will find none, as there is none. These things are happening for mere lapse of judgement and overpowering of greed. But that doesn’t signify that “His” ultimate creation does not exist anymore. We do have good still present between us; all we need is the open mind and eyes to realize them.

No one is/should be generalized as bad because of other’s actions.
HInduism, Islam, ChrIstianity, SIkhism, BuddhIsm or JaInism… AlmIghty says, “I” am everywhere… respect and love everyone, unless proven to be wrong for their individual actions!

Choice or Enforcement!

Don’t lose yourself in the crowd of decision-making. Whatever you do or want to do in life, will always matter to you the most; from birth till death…

Individuality, a word to start with. “You and I are not so different” as we are individual people, the only difference being in the decisions we take.

You get up everyday, and start with your routine work on weekdays (unless there’s a holiday). Do you choose to do it? Or you just do it because it’s become a habit and your daily-life-habits are enforcing you to do it? – ever thought about that. Why do these same routine works change when we have a holiday or over weekends?

Life gives us options every moment; do we always make a choice or just go along with the enforced laws, is something we need to think about. Take any simple activity of your life as an example and think for 4-5 mins what you do about it and IF you may want to change anything around it 🙂

Marriage


One of the many, biggest life changing decisions that an individual has to take in his/her life! Some people want it (choice), some people just do it (enforced). What happens after this new beginning?

Are you always Happy? – No; there will always be up’s and down’s like any other thing in your life.

Do you stick with it? – At times; because you have to, else, what will the society say (enforced).

Do you enjoy the new surrounding? – Yes; if you love new challenges and like to experience changes OR No; if you look at it as a difficult phase of your life and can’t work out how to deal with it.

Do you give birth? – this is another milestone of your life that has many dimensions:

Yes – because you want to and that’s what you’ve always thought of doing OR because you have to (generation portray), as that’s what people will keep telling you.

No – because you choose not to [or at times, mere scientific disabilities 😦 ]

So many questions and so many situations, yet the decisions you need to take are always simple. The moment you complicate the available options, you give birth to problems. Make choice of your own or follow other’s, it’s always up to an Individual.

Don’t lose yourself in the crowd of decision-making. Whatever you do or want to do in life, will always matter to you the most; from birth till death…