Wednesday, May 19, 2010

Humbled By The Big B!

Amitabh Bachchan replied to me on Twitter! Yes, I am as excited as I should be if Amitabh Bachchan responds to me on Twitter! To add to that I am the 2nd person (besides his son and Sachin Tendulkar) whom he has responded to! The exclamation signs should be a good indication of my present excitement levels! Presenting the conversation below.

This was my original Tweet. By the way, the third person he was following was another Suhel from the world of advertising - Suhel Seth.

At this time the Big B was just learning to find out who is tweeting to him, and to respond to them. And within 2 minutes I check my replied to find a response from the biggest star of Indian cinema!

As someone tweeted, I was one of the first lucky 5 to get a response from Mr. Bachchan, couldn't agree more with him.

God bless you Mr. Bachchan

P.S: I had received a ":-)" from JuniorBachchan sometime back. Wonder if I can be termed a family friend of the Bachchans now;)

Saturday, May 15, 2010


Dear Google,

How you've grown since we first met! You were a little noun then, and now I believe you have become a fully grown up verb in all the dictionaries. 5 years back, when we saw each other on this day in the hot Hyderabad summer, you welcomed me to your well air-conditioned home with all the food in the world. You were straight out of a fairytale, and continue to be.  I fell in love with you and still do.

We were both much younger then. I, just out of college, you, a year after going public. To me the idea of an office was that of steel desk and wooden chairs with loads of paper files piled up, gathering dust. Some young kid carrying trays of tea in chipped glasses and an old fan whirring above. I can't start describing how and how much you changed my persceptions. Having spent the three previous years in a college hostel, feeding off stuff that can be termed edible at it's best, the food you provided seemed to come straight out of a dream. To be honest, I still think I wandered into the Hansel & Gretel house, only here there's no witch, but a fairy godmother. All credit for helping me move from 66 Kgs to 87 goes to you. Also, thanks to your gym I am back to 74 now.

As I type further, I realise it's quite pointless to thank you for the past 5 years, because you figure in every nice thing that happened to me during this time. Some of the closest friends I have today, the little joys of promotions and hikes, the first foreign trip and the ones after that, the sense of achievements in setting up a part of the business in Gurgaon, the opportunity to learn from and interact with people of outstanding calibre, well everything actually! Besides everything else, you found me my life partner! To say you're family is understating the obvious. Oh yes, Misc-India too, for those who know:)

I am in an obviously emotional state as of now, and please do not assume that I will stop cribbing henceforth. Every time I am skipped for a promotion I will feel pissed and threaten about calling it quits, every bad review I will blame you and your screwed up systems, I will complain about the office being cramped, the lack of a campus, how all other offices are better than ours. I think we've learned to live with each other's eccentricities. [That doesn't mean you don't give me that next big hike, okay?]

I could go on and on, but as they say a picture says a thousand words, so signing off with some of the cherished memories. Thanks for everything, and looking forward to many years to come.

Love You,

Batchmates of 16-May-2005 (Remita & Darshini missing from the photo)

The Hyd office - October 2005

Gurgaon Office, May 2006

Google India with Sukhinder, December 2006

Shailesh Joins Google India - April 2007

With my then girlfriend, now wife - December 2007

Team India grows! - November 2008

Lights Out at home, Night out in Office:) - September 2008

Tie Day In Google - December 2009

Google India offsite in Sri Lanka, November 2009

Google Dublin Office, April 2010

Sunday, May 09, 2010

Review Of 'Open' By Andre Agassi

Open, Andre Agassi's autobiography written by J. R. Moehringer with inputs from Agassi is more fast paced and gripping than any thriller I have read in recent times. In my last tweet I had promised not to give in to the charms of the world wide web or the television before I finish the book. Less than 48 hours since then I just turned the last of the 388 pages and didn't even feel the absence of the new-age necessities.

If you spent sometime watching tennis in the '90s and/or early '00s you will connect with the story more than otherwise, however, this is not just a tennis story. It talks about the life of a child prodigy who never wanted to do what he was precocious at. Yes, one of the greatest tennis players of our times hated the game with all his heart and was forced to continue with it due to an overbearing, almost maniacal father - Mike Agassi. Andre was signing autographs and winning tournaments at a time when most of are playing in kindergarden. His future was planned even before he was born, he had to become the No. 1 tennis player in the world, and there were no two ways about it. 

His father had not just built a tennis court and bowling machine in the backyard of their Nevada house, but also calculated to the nearest hour, how many hours of practice/day/year he would require to become the world's best tennis player.

The story is similar to Michael Jackson's or Brooke Shields' (who later on went to marry and divorce Andre) and many other similar child prodigies. However, it's one of the rare cases where a man who has won and earned everything from a particular profession goes on to admit how he hated the same profession, from the beginning till the  end.

He talks about his opponents throughout his career - Michael Chang, Jeff Tarango, Jim Courieri, Jimmy Connors, John McEnroe, Boris Becker and Pete Sampras - in a completely politically incorrect but brutally honest fashion.


The book also is about tennis:
• On Sampras: Agassi says Sampras "sounds more robotic than" a parrot. At his depths, Agassi thinks: "I envy Pete's dullness. I wish I could emulate his spectacular lack of inspiration, and his peculiar lack of need for inspiration." Agassi tells of betting coach Brad Gilbert about how much Sampras tipped a parking valet; they ask the valet, who says $1; Agassi's conclusion: "We could not be more different, Pete and I."
• On Chang: "He thanks God -- credits God -- for the win, which offends me. That God should take sides in a tennis match, that God should side against me, that God should be in Chang's box, feels ludicrous and insulting. I beat Chang and savor every blasphemous stroke." When Chang wins the 1989 French Open, Agassi thinks, "I feel sickened. How could Chang, of all people, have won a slam before me?"
• On other opponents: Agassi writes about holding grudges against Becker (who Agassi says blew kisses at Shields during a match), Jim Courier, Thomas Muster, Yevgeni Kafelnikov, Jeff Tarango (who Agassi says cheated during a match between them when Agassi was 8). (Courtesy:
He also talks at length about his famous hair and image, both of which were interlinked with each other and fundamentally based on lies. His long flowing hair during the early days was a lie, he wore a hairpiece for most of his career. His infamous Canon's 'Image is Everything' campaign ruined his reputation, for which he blames his youth and the Canon ad-execs, not completely digestible though!
He talks about thehighs of achieving super success at an early age and then not knowing what to do with it. He takes us through the leanest phase of his career, '96-'98 when he reached an al time row ATP ranking of 141 and played in the lowest rung Challengers tournament. Of his much publicised relationship with Brooke Shields, their marriage and detailing how things broke apart. While introspecting he finds that there was not much to begin with perhaps.

What makes the book special is the journey of his comeback. From being down in the dumps, failure on the court, a bad marriage, a treacherous childhood, to making it back to the circuit and as a Grand Slam champion. In fact by winning the 1999 French Open he became only the 2nd person after Rod Laver to win all four Grand Slams in the Open era. The book also talks about the people who stuck to him through his career - his friend Perry Charles, trainer Gil Reyes, coaches - Brad Gilbert and Darren Cahill, mentor JP and his family. Finally he talks about his marriage to Steffi Graf and how things have been peaceful and calm for him since then. They are doing some good work for the education of children in Las Vegas (where Agassi grew up and became a class nine drop out).
I can't claim to have read enough sports autobiographies, having read only Sunil Gavaskar's 'Sunny Days' before this, but after the last couple of days I have a new found respect for Agassi, for tennis, for sports at large. I am assured of one thing - will watch the upcoming French Open and Wimbeldon with a lot more interest and respect! I have always been an unabashed Sampras admirer, but this book helped me get a perspective from the other side, in fact a much closer and more detailed perspective of the world of professional tennis and the mind of his best known opponent.
Thanks to my friend, Anal Ghosh, who recommended the book to me. I pass on the recommendation to those of you who cared to read this:) You may want to buy it from Flipkart at a good discount.

Thursday, May 06, 2010

Twitter Lists & @sachin_rt

Now that Sachin Tendulkar, a popular right handed batsman from India, has joined Twitter, everyone and  their aunt is making a beeline to follow his 140 characters of wisdom and thus increasing India's Twitter population. There will perhaps never be a better time to plug my post from a few months back, Dummies Guide to Twitter.

One new addition to Twitter since then, somewhat underutilised so far, is Twitter Lists. However, I find it to be  one of the best feature of the micro blogging site as it allows to follow people, listed in bunches the way you want, and not have them clog your timelines.

This is how it works. Let us say you are interested in what a bunch of people are tweeting, but you don't your timeline to be cluttered with their tweets, perhaps because they tweet too much, or because they all belong to a particular profession and you would want to read their tweets together. What you can do is without actually following them, you can create a Twitter List, and add all of them to the list. This will appear on your Twitter homepage. You can click on the list and read all that these people have to say.

Here's an example - I took a bunch of people from the media -  e.g. Rajdeep SardesaiBarkha Dutt,  Vikram ChandraPrannoy Roy etc - and added them to a list that I created called Media-People Now if and when I want to read their tweets, I just go to the list and see what's going on. Similarly I have also created a list for


Bollywood &


You can just follow these lists (just like you can follow an individual Twitterer) and you also just need to go to the list and see all that's being talked about, and your timeline remains clean. You can also see how  many lists you have been made a part of, this is shown next to your 'following' and 'followers' count under 'listed'

In the 2 days since he joined Twitter Sachin has already been added to more than 2500 lists. Mostly he's been added to lists called - Sports, Cricket, Heroes, Legends, God (very common) and Genius. However I came across these somewhat 'unusual' lists that Sachin has been listed in by his followers!


Weird that I don't remember the list owner having played for the India, Mumbai Indians or the Mumbai cricket teams.


I agree, though Sachin has been tweeting a bit much, can't call him a spammer yet!

Salman Khan

A little bit of an identity crisis there, Sachin is sachin and Salman is Salman. Or so I thought.


The advantage of being Sachin Tendulkar is that just by joining Twitter you are labelled a geek.


He definitely holds a good record against the Aussies, but does that make him an Aussie himself?


Interesting way of looking at life, either you are 'Tech' or 'Non Tech'. Cricketers fall under the latter, unless you're Anil Kumble.

Cool South Asians

Another new way of looking at the man we've always associated with cricket and India. And God.

Un Met

An honest list owner, he hasn't met SRT and he is not ashamed to say so.


If Sachin can be Salman then why not SRK? Fair point, fair listing.

Reliable Sources Cool People

When you've scored all those runs and centuries you're indeed somewhat cool. And winning the matches for India makes you quite reliable too. Another honest label.

Leaving Legend

This may come in for some criticism. Agreed he's growing old, but does just that force him to leave the league of legends? The jury will be out on this.

P.S: Sachin has confirmed that @sachin_rt is indeed him. Also, the his account now carries the 'verified' icon. Thanks @manansinghi for the tip.