Amar Bail

A plant of eternity

Archive for February, 2009

Let me entertain you!!

Posted by Haris Gulzar on February 26, 2009

I am not really sure what to name this post. I had many options to choose from as the title of this post. The options I was confused amongst were:

1)      Battle of Minds

2)      The Perfect Blend

3)      Let me entertain you

4)      A team apart

5)      It’s the journey that matters.

The first option was too trivial, and you’ll know why in just a short while. The remaining 4 options were the cause of my confusion, and again, you’ll know the reason as you read through the post.

The Beginning:

I’m not sure about the exact date, but it was probably the 2nd or the 3rd of February 2009 when we came to know that Pakistan Tobacco Company (PTC) would be coming to IBA campus for the Battle of Minds (BOM) competition (and hence the reason why the first option was a very trivial choice to be the title of this post). This was the 2nd time PTC was holding this competition at the National Level. PTC was to short list 4 teams from each university. These teams were to compete amongst themselves, and the winning team was to go to Islamabad for the grand slam round, hence one team from each university was to participate in the grand slam. There were 6 universities from across Pakistan that PTC was holding the competition at. These universities included IBA, the GIKI, the UET Lahore, LUMS, NUST Business School, and NUST college of EME. The trailer looked good enough to motivate us to make a team and register for BOM, and so we did. Two of my hostel as well as class mates, Shahid and Umar (both Electrical Engineers from NUST college of EME), already knew about PTC and the BOM, and were interested in participating. So it was the 3 of us hostelites wanting to try our luck, but the team was supposed to be a 4 member team. The 3 of us, although did bring some academic (I am a Software Engineer from FAST-NU Lahore campus) and geographic diversity, but unfortunately had the same gender :P. I asked a female Karachiite, Sarah, a BBA-Marketing from IBA if she was willing to join us for the competition, and to our surprise, she agreed to team up with us :D, bringing in even more academic and geographic diversity, and obviously, the gender diversity as well :D. We were all set for the competition.

It was supposed to be the 19th of Feb when PTC was to visit IBA campus to give away the team registration forms, and 20th Feb was the last date for team registration.

19th Feb:

It was the engagement session, as they had named it, the first of the rounds of BOM, where they first introduced PTC; well, it wasn’t only just an introduction of PTC but a little more than that, and later gave some details about the BOM competition held in 2008. PTC gave away T-Shirts, and obviously the team registration forms to those willing to participate. We later had a Hi-Tea (this obviously is always worth mentioning :P)

20th Feb:

The team registration forms that we were given included a detailed personal information form as well. We had to fill in our academic background, our extracurricular activities, our achievements, our work experience etc; it was more of a CV on PTC’s format. We made it heavy on extracurricular activities, not that we exaggerated, but we put in all the smallest of activities that we ever participated in, and the reason was that someone had told us that PTC not only considers GPA, but also gives high weightage to the extracurriculars. We also had to decide on a team name and the team leader. We probably gave more than a couple of hours to decide the team name because all four of us would just not agree on one name. And guess what, the team name that all 4 of us finally agreed on took us only 2 minutes to finalize. Shahid suggested it; the other 3 were like, “OHHH PERFECT”. The name was to be “The perfect blend” (Hence the 2nd potential title of this post), and who else was unlucky enough but me to be named as the team leader :P. Well, I was actually a self proclaimed team leader, but no one from the other 3 members had any objection, so there I was. And the reason I say I was unlucky, well; this is another secret that will be revealed shortly. So, we filled the forms to the best of our capabilities and submitted it, hoping for the best, this was the max we could have done at that point.

23rd Feb, 5:00 PM:

The fun starts. I was fast asleep when I got a call on my mobile, a call from Islamabad. I received the call, still being half asleep, when I heard the other person say something about “The Perfect Blend”, and my eyes went wide open. I was quick to say that I was the team leader of The Perfect Blend, to come to hear from that person that our team was shortlisted Alhamdulillah. We were among the top 4 teams that were shortlisted to go to the next round. Around 60 teams applied from IBA, and getting shortlisted, as we thought, did not only have a very low probability, but it was out of question as well, but jisay Allah rakhay, usay kon chakhay :). I informed my team about it, and it wasn’t long when we had changed facebook statuses and had sms’es coming from all those who got to know of our selection. My team and I were happy Alhamdulillah.

The 2nd round was to be held on the 25th of Feb, and we only had 2 days, in fact, one and a half day to practice for the competition. But as if we cared :P. We were probably happy enough to digest the news of our selection, that looking at, or researching for any practice material would have been the last of the thoughts to come in our minds.

24th Feb:

The fun escalates. The three of us hostelites gathered in my room for something that was to be called “preparation” for the coming day. The competition was to have a case study, and some questions following it that needed to be answered. We downloaded a small, or rather a very small case study, and started solving it, only to find ourselves engaged in arguing every now and then, and sometimes loudly too, in trying to convince each other. Soon, our 4th partner suggested that it’d be great if we sang a song while introducing ourselves at the start of the competition, as if the case itself wasn’t enough of headache for us engineers. Our 4th partner being a marketing graduate had participated in a couple of competitions of the same kind during her BBA, and hence had a good idea of what awaited us. The song she suggested was “Let me entertain you” by Robbie Williams (and hence the third option from the possible titles for this post). She knew what possibly could be a great start to such a competition. It was 3 people sitting in my room who weren’t sure if they can even think about singing a song in front of quiet many people, and it was the 4th member of our team who was constantly trying to convince us that it was the best thing anyone could have done to impress the panel upfront. This is where I thought I was a bad team leader, or rather an unlucky team leader, who hadn’t even imagined ever if he’d start off participating in a formal competition with singing a song, along with 2 other people sitting right next to him, convinced that they would be the last person on this earth to sing a song, that too, such an up-beat song, and one whose lyrics weren’t only difficult to understand, but were impossible to sing.

This day was to prove a long day for us. One of our seniors, who had participated from IBA in BOM 2008, told us that we should think of a team logo and a tagline before hand, as we might be asked to come up with these things for the introduction part. The time it took for us to come up with different suggestions for our team name was nothing when it came to deciding the tagline, although the logo part was easy. Shahid was artist enough to come up with at least 20 different excellent logos, and we soon finalized on one logo. The tagline that was finalized after much discussion was “A team apart” (hence the 4th potential title for this post). This tagline was simple had it only been one person thinking on making one, as they say, too many cooks spoil the broth :P.

It wasn’t till the dates changed that we finally decided that we will sing a song. Sarah was to take the lead, and the three of us only had to sing the chorus, that is, we only had to say “Let me entertain you” for a total of 4 times, THAT WAS IT :D. This was some relief, though the BIG DAY was still to come. The competition was to start at 9:00 am, and we had to report at 8:45 am.

25th Feb:

The fun reaches its peak. We were on time and were called in at about 9:10 am for the competition to start off. Some formal initial briefings took place, after which we were asked to introduce ourselves. My team was the third in line. The two teams before us were good and confident, but both of them didn’t sing a song. And then, it was us. Each of us introduced ourselves, where we belonged from, some of our academic and extracurricular achievements, and how we were different from others (remember that all-sort-of-diversity that our team had :P), that was when, against all odds, I announced that our team had prepared a song, yeah it was me to announce this. AND WE DID IT, and I thought it was good. This lead over other teams wasn’t to remain for long, as the 4th team had also prepared a song for their introduction; that was when I realized how correct our BBA partner was who had an idea of what was selling in the market.

We were escorted to the room allotted for my team, handed over the case studies and all the required stationary, and were given 90 minutes to read and solve the case study, and to make a presentation. The time we were given was just about enough, or probably we didn’t “practice” much :). We decided to first read the case individually and then discuss important points out of it. Coming up with solutions for the questions wasn’t really difficult (though coming up with the right solutions was :P), 90 minutes were gone in like 20 minutes :D, though we managed to make the presentation and be on one page about what we thought the solutions were to the questions we were asked.

The part of this competition that I enjoyed the most starts from the point we were asked to put our pens down and handover our presentation to the PTC staff. We were to present our solutions after two other teams, so we had more than an hour to relax and to have fun. Umar’s mobile had quite a collection of both English and Urdu songs. It was sort of a farmayishi program. One after the other, we used to say, Umar wo wala gana hai? yaar Umar wo wala gana laga do, yaar ye gana dubara sunna hai and so on… But how was it possible for me and Shahid not to sing, especially when everyone around was in singing mood. These 60 minutes or so were probably the most fun we had throughout the competition, but the fun wasn’t over yet. The climax was yet to be seen.

One of the PTC staff members came to our room, and this obviously meant that it was our turn to present. I was to go first, Umar was to follow me, next up was Sarah, and last to come in was Shahid. Somehow, we didn’t present as we had planned. Something went wrong; deep inside ourselves we knew that we’ve lost it all. We knew we won’t make it through this round. Our presentation took almost 25 minutes, and we were back in the same room we had been sitting in since morning. We were served with lunch, and were told to report back in another 60 minutes for the results. Lunch was good, good enough to cheer us all up after a bad presentation, good enough for us to enjoy it. This was when Sarah very rightly and truly said “It is the journey that matters, not the destiny” (the final option for the title of this post). If words can really express it, this saying made my day.

It really is the journey that matters, and not the destiny. That was when we recalled each and every moment that we had been through for preparing for this competition, talking to seniors and asking them about BOM 2008, sitting up late and deciding if we’d be singing a song or not, practicing it over and over again with one of us giving the beat, and others shouting LET MEEEEEE EEEEE ENTERTAIN YOU, synchronizing ourselves for the gap between repeating the chorus lines, quarrelling over a case study, deciding team names, deciding a team logo, the tagline, the presentation flow, who’d speak on what, and obviously the singing and the ghazal session and the jokes session before we had our turn to present, it was all just too great, just unforgettable. It most definitely is the journey that matters.

Soon all 4 of the teams gathered again to hear the results. My team was not expecting any good news; all four of us were prepared to be told that we had lost. AND GUESS WHAT!!!!! WE LOST 😛

The Ending:

All the participating teams were given a key chain cum 2GB USB. The winning team was most definitely better than us. This competition gave us a lot to learn from, and for me, what I think was most important of all, this competition taught me how to play a role in a team, how to be a good team member, it taught me how memorable the time spent with your team can be, and obviously, that it is the journey that matters, and not the destiny.

I am still not sure if this post should really be named as “Let me entertain you”, but this competition has also taught me that spending time on deciding team names, logos, taglines, and similarly, post titles is not a good place to spend our time at, we should rather be “practicing” instead :P. Thank you so very much my team members, Sarah, Shahid and Umar, for making this competition so memorable for me. I hope I haven’t missed out on any important detail of the competition :), and apologies to all the readers who have read so far, I never thought this post would go this long, but I somehow couldn’t control my words :).

Advertisements

Posted in English | Tagged: | 6 Comments »

Time Table

Posted by Haris Gulzar on February 22, 2009

Ever since I remember, I have been advised to make a time table and strictly follow it for all my day to day activities. I used to be given examples of people who were organized and who had schedules that told them when they should eat and when they should sleep. They say it makes you a better person if you have a timesheet about whatever you are up to. But is it true really? I can’t recall of any time I ACTUALLY followed my time tables, though I remember making many time tables, probably to show to my advisors, or just to convince myself that it really helps. I remember spending a lot of time deciding what should I be doing at what time and how long would each activity take. I used to paste the time table sheet right on the study table to assure myself that it’s right in front of me, but I hardly ever consulted it or followed it.

My previous semester at MBA saw me waste a lot of time. I say this because there were times when I had lots of pending work to be completed but I just used to do nothing. That was when I recalled the advices I used to get from elders about how to utilize each and every second and how can one be a better person by organizing himself and scheduling his activities. That was when I thought about making yet another time table. I literally allocated time for all the activities I engage myself in. My time table contained separate time slots for washing clothes once a week, two time slots for cleaning my room, yet another two for watching a movie, the time I’d be spending sitting in front of my PC, the time I’d go to bed and the time I’d wake up at. I even had time slots for doing nothing at all. It obviously also had time that I was to spend studying. My time table went to details like what I would be studying what day. I even allocated time for going for a walk. This highly structured time table made me follow at least one of the scheduled activities, and that obviously was sleeping. I never got late in going to bed :P, though sometimes I woke up late but who was there to take notice :P.

This obviously didn’t work for long. In fact I probably started wasting more time than what initially became the reason for this time table. I needed some mechanism to organize myself, and hence I switched to a task based scheduling, i.e. no activity was to be given any specific start or end time, but each day would have a certain activities completed. Each day I used to make a list of things I needed to complete that day, may it be going for a walk, completing assignments, or may it be one of my favorite activities, doing nothing. I think I hardly completed the entire set of activities for a day within that day. It wasn’t long when I started taking the important activities like studying and doing assignments to the next day’s task list. In fact at about mid day I used to decide if I’d be able to complete one or more of the listed activities within that day or not, and usually made up my mind well before the day ended that these activities were far more time consuming than I thought they’d be. Hence the task scheduling mechanism failed badly as well.

Something inside me is still very strongly convinced that time tables do organize a person, and following a time table can really make you a better person, and make a person make best use of his time. This semester, from the very start of it, I made yet another time table. A very relaxed time table, one that had many slots for doing nothing, so to make myself comfortable with what it says I have to do each hour. This time table is well elaborated as well and contains time slots for all of my “important” activities, even the time for writing this post, though I’m not completely following it but am close to doing it. I really hope I use my time, probably the only resource we don’t care much about, the way it really should be used. I hope I become an organized person soon :).

Posted in English | Tagged: | 5 Comments »

Four Years Spent or Life Lived!

Posted by Haris Gulzar on February 4, 2009

 

A long journey it was wasn’t it? But it flew by in just a snap of fingers right? That’s exactly what a snap of fingers can mean to us. It just feels of something from a very recent past that we were together. And yeah, I should be stressing on the word “WE” shouldn’t I? It started off with 5 sections. It started off with people belonging to one section or the other. It started off with the person from Section E getting 3 A’s, and a person from Section B getting a GPA of more than 3.5. The groupings used to be from within the sections. But what did it end with? It ended with a very proud Batch 2002. It ended with one batch, one entity, and one unit. That’s the transformation these four years made. It turned us from “ME” to “WE”. The maximum GPA was then not from one section, it was from amongst the batch, friends were no more from any one section, they were from the entire batch.

FAST-NU Lahore Campus, almost our second home. That’s what it really had become for us. We really lived like a family. We used to sit in circles in the back lawns, talking about just anything that popped in our minds, may it be “aaj mausam kitna acha hai!”. We used to stay late in campus, just to stay with friends. We used to reach university well before the class was due to start, so as to finalize the day’s schedule with friends. We used to keep seats for our “Best friend”, who obviously came in late because they got their assignment as well as ours printed. We used to delay our lunches to make sure we have it only when our mates were free. We used to take courses after having a look at the number of available seats for that course, to make sure that all friends are in for trouble together.

I still remember the summers of 2005 when I, along with a few very close friends, used to come to the university almost every day and used to pick Jaman from the trees located near back lawns. We used to borrow the lunch boxes of faculty members from the kitchen, put the Jaman in them, and used to place them under cold running water, and ate them as soon as we thought the Jaman were chilled enough. This Jaman party usually lasted a couple of hours. The Chicken Karahi and Shawarma parties in evenings weren’t too uncommon either. The “aalo walay parathay” and “kulfa” in the basketball court was a special get together menu. We used to bring in all this stuff inside university and used to get together in CoNE lab or in girls café, and in case we got caught during a round of the faculty advisor of CoNE lab, we had to invite (bribe) that teacher as well. Stuff from International bakery like Chicken bread, a 2 pound fresh cream cake, and Pizza’s were normal on birthdays.

Arguing from teachers about marks was almost an everyday routine, may it be a quiz, an assignment, a mid-term exam, or a project. And not only did we used to do it during class, but as soon as we saw a teacher who had been teaching us in that semester, the first thing that came into our minds was “Sir, wo mainay aap se marks ki baat kerni thi”. Friends would rarely compare the marks they received on a quiz or an assignment, but the marks they got increased later. It usually went like “Oye! Teray kitnay marks barhay?”, and the other person would answer “yaar sir barha hi nahi rahay number, buhat bola hai magar wo sun hi nahi rahay”, and the first person used to announce victoriously, “meray 2 number barh gaye”.

The last year at FAST-NU was no doubt the best of all years. People chose their project PC’s as far as they could from the lab entrance and the lab attendant room so as to be able to play games. All the Age of Empires and Counter Strike matches we used to have, and not to forget the MOHAA challenges, and the lab attendant coming over to us, asking us to shut the game down, and we asked the attendant one last chance to continue playing. People would suddenly find someone standing behind them with a fire extinguisher in their hand and before the culprit could be figured out, the zszszszszsz sound of the fire extinguisher used to make everyone laugh at their maximum volume. The black day, the white day, the batch dinner, the job fair, the batch picture and obviously the most memorable “02” sign we made, will stay with us forever.

All those one day trips in each semester, the singing and dancing in buses, the bar be queue, the SOFTEC events each year, its preparations and success, the spring fun fair festivals, dedicating songs to batch mates, the surprise engagement functions on those spring festivals, the welcome and the farewell parties, all the shughal in boys common room, having aftaar together with friends, occupying the discussion rooms and sometimes getting the juniors out of the discussion rooms only because we were seniors, who can ever forget these memorable moments. These will stay with us throughout our lives. Did we only spend our four years in gaining lifelong friendships, in learning what it meant to have a friend, in knowing that we’re incomplete without these friends? NO, this cannot be termed as only spending our fours year at FAST, we definitely lived our lives in these four years.

Posted in English | Tagged: , | 4 Comments »

Fingers snapped and two years were thus gone!

Posted by Haris Gulzar on February 2, 2009

Below is the email I sent to my colleagues at CambridgeDocs when I resigned. It is one of my favourite emails because it summarizes my experience at CDocs.

——————————————————————————————————————-

Assalamualaikum everyone,

I hope all of you are doing good. Most of you might know that I’m leaving CambridgeDocs and going for my MBA degree from IBA Karachi. I wanted to share with you all my experiences that I faced during my stay at CambridgeDocs. The email below is supposed to be a lengthy email, hence the best time to go through the entire email is during work hours :).

It was the 13th of July 2006, my first day at CambridgeDocs. I had a small meeting with Irfan, Adeel explained to me about all the modules of xdoc that CambridgeDocs was working on. I was introduced with the employees of CambridgeDocs. The total strength of cdocs was about 13~14 people at that time. I was asked to read the xml and xsl tutorials from w3schools. Later that day we had a tea break (a tea break in cdocs terminology meant KFC, Pizza’s, Shawarma’s etc), and I left the office sharp at 6:00 PM :).

Days passed by, many people left CambridgeDocs, many people joined. I have seen CambridgeDocs grow in front of me. This journey from about 13 people to more than 80 people now, this journey from a Software Engineer to a Senior Software Engineer, this journey from cdocs working only on xdoc modules to working on several projects now, this journey from 1 office at STC (410-A) to 3 offices at one time has passed in a snap of fingers. I have probably had the best time of my life at cdocs. Everyone so caring as a family member, everyone so friendly to help you out whenever you need them, everyone so lively to make you feel you’re not alone. People like Muzi, Sheraz, Adeel, Junaid Iqbal, Mudassar Sultan, Shahbaz, Omair Siddiqui, Usman Khalid, Ahmed Nawaz, Abdullah Jamshed and many many others have been so great friends and colleagues, that I have always felt at home while being at work.

The tea breaks we used to have twice a week at 410-A, the company sponsored lunch and dinners almost every month (yeah I’m teasing you all new comers :P), the First Pay Lunch, the company trips twice a year, team lunch etc are all part of the memories that I’ll be taking along with me. The great MUSHAIRA sessions we used to have in MOP (The OPM team used to be called MOP, for those who don’t know), the Friday movie nights, the big screen Pakistan vs India cricket matches in 627 (STC), late sittings and coming on weekends, the Table Tennis matches at 80A, all this will probably stay with me throughout my life. My special thanks to Muzammil for all the jokes, the ‘JUGATS’ and his witty comments, and for being such a great friend, to Sheraz and Adeel for being just like my elder brothers, to Shahbaz, Omair, Wajid and Ali Adnan for sharing all the poetry with me, and finally bringing in Usman Khalid towards poetry as well :P. This sure is an achievement. My thanks to AJ for the free cozy rides back home (AJ: can we extend this service for a couple of days more :P), To Usman Ali for sharing such lovely songs with me (no kidding, he surely has a very vast collection of EXCELLENT songs :P), to Alvi for being such a nice friend, for Ahmed Nawaz for being so lively and cheerful that you forget all your sorrows when you’re in his company, to Junaid Iqbal for all the walks we used to have when we needed some time away from work, and to Salman Iqbal for being a great Table Tennis Partner :). I’d also like to thank Farhan Qureshi and Usman Qutab (both being X-Employees of cdocs) who’ve played a very important role in my professional growth. I might have missed many names in the list above, but all of you have been so great and so valuable to me, that mentioning each and every name is a bit difficult.

My very special thanks to Shaukat Sb, Iftikhar (STC), Faraz, Ali, Adil, and Shahid Sb, because without their help and care, my stay here wouldn’t have been this lovely for sure. I really salute them from the core of my heart for whatever they all have done for me. I’d really miss Shaukat Sb’s “Sha Shee Shew, main houn na”, and Faraz whispering in my ears “Aaj aapki favourite biryani paki hai”, and Ali coming in and saying “ye raha aapka special wala paani” :P.

My very very special thanks to Irfan as well, for giving me the opportunity to be part of this wonderful family, and to allow me to make as many mistakes as I did, so that I learn from them.

I myself have tried to be as friendly as possible, but please accept my apologies if I knowingly or unknowingly hurt anyone.

I’d love to stay in contact with you all. You can find my contact information below. I wish you all have an excellent future ahead, and that you all have a great stay at CambridgeDocs. I wish and hope that CambridgeDocs grows even faster than what I have experienced in the past two years. May Allah shower his blessings on you all, and may Allah keep you all safe. I’d request you all to please remember me in your prayers. Do take very good care of yourselves.

 

Regards,

Haris Gulzar

 

Mobile: 0333-4887672

MSN: hgulzar2001@hotmail.com

GTALK and Email: harisgulzar@gmail.com

Posted in English | Tagged: | 2 Comments »