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Life Analytics

By | Food For Thought | No Comments

Analytics is one of the few industries or may be the only industry where usage is more than awareness.
Let me try to explain this by citing few examples from our day-to-day life.

Example 1: The IPL Phenomenon

In the recently concluded IPL cricket match, team “A” needed 14 runs to score from the last over. Bowler “X” who bowled superbly in the first spell was the obvious choice for many cricket pundits. But the captain tossed the ball to a bowler “Y” who had moderate success with the ball on that day. Everyone thought the captain made a horrible decision. From the body language of the vice-captain, it was evident that even he was not happy with the decision. He had a brief chat with the captain. But the captain was firm. Contrary to everyone’s expectation, the bowler bowled an excellent over. The team won by four runs. The gamble paid off. In the post-match presentation, the captain revealed his reason for tossing the ball to the bowler. Bowler “Y” had a reputation of restricting the opposition during the death over while bowler “X” was quite expensive when he was asked to bowl for the death overs.

Later the data revealed that bowler “X” was particularly expensive during the death over against the same team, especially when the matches were played away from the home. It was indeed a risk, but a calculated one. Analytics is all about how much confidence you have in your decisions and how much risk you are willing to take.

By the way, was the decision to ask Messi to take a penalty kick against Iceland based on sound analytical decisions? Let’s dive deep into the data and wear our analytical hats.

Example 2: The Butterfly Effect

Once I went to a temple. By the time I reached the temple, I was surrounded by garland sellers. We (family) had already made up our mind to buy coconuts and some tulasi (holy basil) leaves only. No garlands. But somehow, one of the garland sellers could persuade me to buy a garland. I had to shell out Rs. 40.

Garland seller: Sir, shall I give you 4 garlands?

Me: No, just one is enough.

Garland seller: Sir, there are four deities of Ram, Laxman, Sitaji, Hanuman inside the temple. So if you are buying, you might as well buy four.

Finally I decided to buy 4 garlands (@ Rs. 150, I got a Rs. 10 discount).
Then we all stood up in a queue for ‘darshan’ (seeking blessings). It was a long queue. Suddenly, we saw a beggar enter the queue. I ignored him. But he was quite persistent with his plea and was after me for almost 2-3 minutes. I lost my cool.

Me: Boss, there are so many people here. Why are you targeting me? You are wasting your time and opportunity to get money.

But beggar tha ki maanta hi nahi (didn’t listen to me). I got frustrated. As an analyst I was trying to analyse why the beggar was targeting me. I got the answer after a few days when I purchased an item from Amazon. The moment I completed the transaction, I saw a message.

‘Those who have bought item X have also bought item Y’.

Maybe, the beggar must have done a similar analysis. He must have thought – if this customer can be persuaded to buy four garlands, he can be my potential customer too. The probability of me giving him money was more than others. He was 90-95% confident and was willing to take a 5-10% risk. So he may not be aware of the field of analytics, but he was implementing it.

Example 3: Lasting Impressions

We were at a restaurant. A server came to take the order. My wife says, ‘One tea without sugar and one with sugar’.

The server promptly served the tea without sugar to me.

My son then asked me, ‘How does almost every server know that you are the one that drinks sugarless tea and not mom?’

Me: According to him, maybe people with white hair are older and older people have a higher chance of getting lifestyle issues like high sugar problems.

Wife: Why don’t you colour your hair? You will look at least 10 years younger after colouring your hair. I am dying to see you younger.

Me: That will not solve the problem. Even then, the server will serve the tea without sugar to me thinking males have a higher probability of getting high sugar problems than females.

The Conclusion:

A spiritual guru explains the basis of Karma (action). ‘Your karma depends on your state of mind. It could be either satvik (goodness), rajasik (passion) or tamsik (ignorance)’.

Cluster analysis is a grouping technique in which people are grouped according to their interests, desires and opinions. Our ancient masters grouped people depending on their state of mind.

In all of the above cases, I am sure that neither the captain, the beggar, the server or the spiritual guru knew what analytics was all about. Yet they were analysing. In fact, many people I know find it difficult to pronounce the word ‘analytics’.

Five years from now, analytics as an industry will be as popular as FMCG. But till such time we will have to live with people pronouncing ‘Analtitics, Analgesics, Analseptic, Antiseptic’ etc.

The day is not too far when a bank customer’s loan will get rejected citing a reason that ‘according to the logistic regression model, you are very likely to default on the loan’.

I always believe that life is beautiful.
But sometimes life gives me a shock, just to check whether I really mean what I believe.

Cycling to Mysore

By | Health & Fitness, Travel | No Comments

Mysore a place about 150kms from Bangalore. It is a blend of historic nostalgia and an urban touch. It is a nice place to be offseason to admire the true beauty of the city. But unfortunately, we had to be there for the long weekend and there were a hell lot of people on the streets of Mysore palace.

Background: Gang of 4 cyclists, a bunch of newbies excited about cycling long distance. We chose Mysore which is approximately 150Kms from Bangalore because there was only 3 days to ride. One day to go, one day to roam in Mysore and another to come back.

The Plan: The trip lasted just 3 days. One day’s intense ride of 150Kms followed by a nominal local ride which would not be that long. The last day to come back which would also be around 150Kms. The local plan was not fixed. We planned to go there and decide, we ended up going to Srirangapattana, KRS dam, Chamundi Hills, and Mysore Palace.

The Trip:

Day 1: We started off by 7:00 AM from Vijaynagar, just like any other ride, the starting was smooth as silk. Stopped at Bidadi to have breakfast. After breakfast and a lil rest, we resumed the trip. Now that the traffic was less once we were in the outskirts of Bangalore. We started to increase speed. Then there was a time where we lost each other, and I thought I could take a video.

After a while, we came across a lake. It was muddy but yeah, it was wonderful. Then came the first cycle trouble, one of our rider’s peddle came off. We had to do a temporary fix as we didn’t have the appropriate Allen key. From there on the peddling got a little slower. Later, it was fixed and we resumed cycling at a regular pace.

Then we stopped for lunch. Lunch was not that great. Can’t help it…… we were not localities and din have any patience to ask for a review as we were starving. Ate and left with a bit of sadness. After a while, we reached Srirangapattana. So the town was wonderful and we wanted to roam around cycled to see a couple monuments within Srirangapattana.

After Srirangapattana, we headed to KRS. Then came the real trouble, the other member’s cycle chain got jammed to the derailleur and he was unable to continue peddling. So, we thought we could call it a day and think about the remaining trip. We got a room in a lodge near KRS dam and rested and thought of getting the cycle shipped to Bangalore with only 3 of us remaining to continue the trip.

Day2: A new day, we started walking towards KRS dam. The view was lovely it was green on either side of the road. Paddy fields, river running, cattle and lush green trees. We went to the KRS dam, roamed around and on the way back, had breakfast. Then, started to walk towards the place where we parked our cycles. Got the other member an auto to get his cycle back home. Then resumed our trip to start the best part of the trip.

So, the best part of the trip was to go up a 3.5-thousand-foot-high hill. The initial part of the trek was a very steep rise, was cycling at only between 4 to 5 km/hr, after covering about 2 to 3 kms there was a slight reduction in the raise and we were able to go a little faster with a lesser effort.

Downhill was a wonderful ride, just guiding the handle towards the right direction like it was paragliding until there was another incident. I got multiple stings by a couple of honey bees. We stopped to see if the stings were serious. One of my buddies was able to pull the bee sting out and the thorn was about a centimeter long. I was a little paranoid, but nothing to worry. Until I found that the swelling was reduced the next day.

By the time we came down the hill to the mighty Mysore palace it was dark and there were too many people in the queue to get in. So, we just parked our cycles outside the palace and took a few pics to rejoice and started scouting for a place to sleep that night. Finally, we were able to find a good deal and a place to stay and once we put everything in place and got a place to park our cycles we left to have dinner. Had a good dinner in a local restaurant. The best food in the entire trip.

Day 3: we were reduced to 2 people because the other rider wanted to continue his ride since he had a few more days off. We started off in the morning to return to Bangalore. He continued his ride and had plans to reach Goa. Since it was just the 2 of us and we were following the same path we had come, we didn’t have any places to stop and admire the beauty. We had a couple stops to have breakfast, a small snack and lunch. We reached outskirts of Bangalore by late evening. Then we parted ways to reach each other’s homes.

On a whole, it was a wonderful trip with a little bitter experience here and there.

The Team:

His first long ride, a very good athlete. Never gets exhausted…. Never. Has been cycling for the past 2 weeks just to warm up and give the leg muscles a glimpse of what is to be expected in the coming few days. The person who got his peddle off.

His first long ride as well but has been riding cycle for quite some time. Owner of a wonderful road bike (most expensive of us all). The person who went on to complete the Goa trip.

My fourth ride, I’ve been cycling for close to 2 years, but this is just my fourth long distance ride. The person who got bee stings.

His seventh long ride. Has been cycling for quite some time.  The unfortunate chap who had to get the cycle transported.

Cyclist, cricketer, an athlete…. and a cycling wanderlust.

The books I read in 2016

By | Food For Thought | No Comments

Well I started 2016 with Shiva Trilogy. If you haven’t read these books, please hit the bookstore asap. These are one of the finest works of Amish Tripathi. The flow of the story is amazing. Although it took me more time to finish the third one. It is a bit slow, but then Amish compensated that by a mind-boggling Climax to the book. I wish to see a movie made on these books and I believe Farhan Akhtar will play the character of Shiva perfectly.

Then I shifted to romantic novels. Well as they say there are moods and I have a habit of reading novels depending on the moods/ state of mind. I read back to back three romantic novels. Not a big fan of either Durjoy Datta or Ravinder Singh. However, these books were a good read, especially if you are travelling. They were more like quick snacks. I remember finishing off one of these books in 5hrs train journey.

After getting over with my romantic mood, I was looking for my next book. And one of my friend who has deep interest in history and mythology suggested Ashwin Sanghi’s books. He has a way of telling the Indian history in a contemporary way. I loved his style of story-telling. People who want to get a feel of mythology in the form of fiction go for his books. Among his books, I read the following two – Chanakya’s Chant and Sailkot Saga.

Then I was looking for inspiration and found these two books. Coincidentally, both the books are based on Women. I was looking to draw inspiration from personalities and I encountered these two books. I was so inspired by them that I went on to write blog entries on them too.

Then in the later part of the year I stuck to fiction only. The White Tiger will simply show you the harsh realities of the world outside. I bet you will start looking the world with different perspective. Clifton Chronicles Series by Jeffrey Archer is another among the fiction novels I took up. This series has 7 books and I started with Book 3 – Best Kept Secret. Well it was not on purpose, purely out of ignorance. Then the last one ‘See Me’ by Nicholas Sparks is a special one. Well I was once again in romantic mood and this book helped me a lot.

Well the count for 2016 is 13 books. This is a personal record for me. However, then there was atleast half an dozen other books which I started but they couldn’t hold my attention for long.

Now as 2017 has started , I have already started my reading journey. As of today, I am reading three books simultaneously. I aim to double my count by the end of 2017. Hope for best and best of luck to myself 🙂 And please recommend books for me to read in 2018.

I am a firm believer that knowledge builds up like compound interest.I am a life long learner, avid football fan and occasional blogger.

There’s something in Bali for everyone

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Visiting Bali has been a fantasy I had for years. I envisioned staying among terraces of lush rice fields, watching farmers tend to their fields, listening to the melodies of exotic birds that resonate from swaying Banyan trees near crystal clear waters and golden glitter like sand.

As we landed at Denpasar Bali, the airport reminded me of a large warehouse with rows of eclectic people that reminisce of the tourist hub that Bali is. I was immediately impressed by the Balinese locals who were exceptionally friendly and helpful. As we head out of the airport, we gaze at a row of taxi drivers, one of whom dropped us to our much awaited destination. The Holiday Inn, Bali was spectacular. Tucked in the midst of the lush green pockets of Bali, the hotel is a cultural resonance of what Bali truly represents. Ceiling high curtains in vibrant warm palettes, cultural wooden flooring with a perfect mix of contemporary marbles, traditional Balinese statues embedded into hand carved pillars and hammocks swinging in the light night breeze by the ocean surrounding The Holiday Inn.

As we approach our room through the serene and wide wooden corridors, I feel like I am in a rainforest somewhere in Brazil. Vines suspended from the roof to the ground floor, chirping sounds of alluring birds, and a soothing hum fleeting through the corridors. We are greeted by a herculean wooden door that was adorned by intricate Balinese designs. Our room was picture perfect. We spent the night strolling along the Kuta beach and exploring the opulent Holiday Inn.

The next morning we wake up to a diverse and extensive breakfast spread – the perfect mixture of continental and Indonesian delights. After a scrumptious breakfast, we head for our city tour. Eight impeccable hours of culture, food and nature. Our driver, a very interesting gentlemen named ‘Wayan’ acted as our tour guide throughout the day. We visited the Mas village and encountered a scene that would probably have existed during the time of my grandparents. Traditional straw and hay weaved houses with a well on the front porch along with a generous area alongside the house devoted to farm animals. The beauty of the village were the ladies adorned with silver jewellery and colourful sarongs.

We then travel to the historic Besakih Temple which was atop a hill. The weather was exquisite and the architecture reminded us of a traditional South Indian temple in India, which was decades old, but cultivated its rich heritage. We gather all our energy to walk the 100 flight of stairs that direct to the mammoth temple. A herd of tour guides approach us. We engage a very intriguing gentleman dressed in a traditional Balinese ensemble resembling a dhoti and turban, who guided us through the temple, explaining each deiti with references to the Hindu mythology. As we exit the temple, a young girl raced us all the way out for about 3kms imploring us to buy postcards. Her sombre face, deep eyes and dismal emotions provided a glimpse of the developing Bali.

We had an elaborate lunch at the Sari restaurant with traditional delicacies at one of the most spectaular spots, overlooking the fascinating panorama of the Kintamani volcono. You undeniably cannot leave Bali without trying the highly acclaimed Luwak coffee, known as the Kopi Luwak – one of the most expensive coffee variants in the world. So we drive to the coffee plantation on our way down the mountains. Situated in between a considerable territory of greenery was a garden. As we walk through the garden, we are familiarized with the exhaustive process of coffee production, from the beans to the powder that are available at our nearest retail store. The most intriguing is the production of the Luwak coffee, which is produced by the beans excreted by the Asian Palm Civet. Although bitter, it has a very unique taste. Your tour ends with 10 small coffee cups lined in front of you, that resemble beer samplers, where you have to guess the variant of each coffee. Quite a challenging game and gimic that probes you to buy the coffee. Our final destination was the Tanah Lot temple. Tanah Lot is a natural rock formation on which the temple is built. It is surrounded by a sea, thus makes for the picture perfect spot – very romantic indeed!

Our day concluded with delectable seafood with the sound of soft waves by the beach at Jimbaran Bay. Or so we thought! As we were heading back into the cab, our exuberant driver asks us if we have ever heard of ‘Legian Street’. Even after a hectic 10 hour day of sightseeing, the explorer in us surged and we headed directly to Legian Street. Entering the street, we discoved a complete contrast to the traditional Bali. Colourful boutiques and hotels covered the vibrant street, but the most striking part of this place is the crazy and bustling night life, unlike any other I have ever witnessed. Known fondly as the ‘sleepless Kuta’, the entire stretch of road is huddled with vivid forms of entertainment. Whether you are seeking good music, a spot to enjoy a relaxed drink, or if you want to unleash the party animal in you, Legian street is the place. As you gaze around, the funky street is filled with people who have the most quirky and completely wacky sense of dressing. We walked into some of the most chaotic and noisiest dance clubs we have ever encountered. Who knew that a traditional city like Kuta would have concoctions that we have never heard of, skimpily clad women dancing on poles and people with the most zany sense of dressing. This is when I realized that there is more to Bali than just beaches – the city really is full of surprises!

After a hard night of Legian street, the next morning transported us right into nature’s lap, through a scenic drive from Kuta to Ubud, crossing tall mountains and foggy air, overlooking the luscious green rice terraces that Bali is known for. Contrast to the night and city life of Kuta, Ubud is pure nature. After delving into the scenic view within the hotel, we step out to a local spa for a relaxed massage. Having lived in Bangkok and experiencing some of the finest massages in the world, I genuinly did not have high expectations. But I was proved wrong! As we step into the high doors with intricate Balinese designs, the very friendly staff offer us a signature welcome drink of ginger and lemongrass tea. This drink is a perfect reflection of what a massage experience is all about – it’s unique, it’s healthy and it’s soothing. Through the pebbles and grass adorned corridors, we were greeted to a dimly lit room with a punjent lemongrass fragrance. Ironic to her petite appearance, my massuese exibited great skill using her hands, elbows and feet to release all the knots and tension in my body. I fell into a deep state of nirvana.

It was during dinner that evening that we savoured the Babi Guling, which is one of Bali’s most famed dishes. The pig is infused with a spicy concoction of turmeric, coriander seeds, lemongrass, black pepper, and garlic and traditionally roasted on a log over fire. The buffet was lavish, with delights from Rojak, to spring rolls and tender coconut deserts, with the background of traditional Balinese dancing and music. My food craving was scrupulously satisfied with a true cultural experience.

Our Bali venture concluded with one day in the picturesque Nusa Dua. This city is all about the beaches. Snorkeling, sun tanning and any form of water sports can be enjoyed here. This was my first encounter with crystal clear white sand. It really does have the tropical paradise dream-like charm. We enjoyed a relaxed walk along the beach, collecting sea shells as the sun set in front of us. The perfect ending to a perfect holiday.

Bali introduced me to a whole new meaning of a holiday. Kuta offered a wild night life with a city buzz, whilst Ubud tucked me into pockets of nature. Nusa Dua was the perfect balance between the two to completely relax along heavenly beaches. It is one of the few places around the world that offers something for everybody, whatever your interest may be – wacky night life, unique shopping, beautiful beaches, and for the foodies like me, some of the most mouth watering delights. Bali truly is the ultimate tourist spot for everyone.

To travel is to live. That’s my motto. Some of the best memories in life are my travel adventures. From the exotic cultural experiences in Asia, to the picturesque views in Europe, the people I met in North America to the food across all these places.