Saturday, November 16, 2013

Why 'sach' a hype? Tendulkar and the 1980's kids

(I just heard Harsha Bhogle articulate something similar much better today on TV, but here are original and equally heartfelt thoughts I had drafted earlier this week. Have used "I" and "me" here only because over time I have learned not to speak for others, so let me speak just for myself.)

Sachin Tendulkar defines my childhood in many ways.  Obviously he was the Master Blaster, a divine combination of the Gavaskar (The Master) and Richards (The Blaster).  He was flamboyant, elegant, beautiful, destructive, and had an aura of invincibility under any situation.  He was a thorough gentleman and a role model for an entire generation - even my mother would agree.  As he walked back to the pavilion for the last time, he definitely evokes a lot of nostalgia - all the matches watched together with dad, brother, friends, neighbors who let you in because you couldn't waste time climbing 3 flights of stairs, or unknown countrymen on the streets, buses, trains of Thane-Mumbai.  My best friend from childhood was at Wankhede yesterday - to 'soak in the enormity of the occasion', to 'cherish some of our best moments growing up, one last time', and 'saying a final goodbye to our childhood' (in his words).

Yet, some people ask - He is only an entertainer. What real value does he contribute to the nation?  

Now, you see, India in 1980's and early 1990's was very different.  I don't remember it as a confident nation as it is today.  My father's generation came out of acute poverty and was busy procuring basic necessities - job/business, home, schooling, first car for their families.  We were repeatedly told in schools that India was a developing country, unlike the top countries like USA, USSR, Japan, etc. People looked up to everything foreign with awe and admiration - be it chocolates, toys, electronics, or Olympic/Tennis/Soccer stars, Scientists/Entrepreneurs or regular people in general.  There was nothing Indian that was the World's best, and very few Indian things were World Class. As I grew up reading, fascinated about NASA or Bill Gates or the sky-scrapers of Manhattan or Japanese automation, I developed a sense of crazy nationalism that one day India should be the world's best, No. 1, On the top of the world. 

Our cricket team too reflected the country's psyche - Tigers at home, pussies abroad.  When shit flew into their face, all they did was collapse. Except just ONE person in his early 20's who faced up to McDermott, Qadir, Hadlee, Alan Donald, Waqar-Wasim, Warne and not on dead dust bowls home, but on fiery pitches of Perth, Sydney, Durban, Nottingham.  Only one person who screamed "World's Best".  Only one person who carried the load of the entire team, single handedly destroyed the opponent.  And only one person we all could hope from, because one he was gone, the team collapsed within minutes. This person - our Sachin or apla Tendlya - was the only one who showed us that "It's possible", that Indians can be No. 1 in the world. And that you should "Follow your dream". His attitude on the field, and behavior off the field was something most of us tried to emulate, either in our day dreams of becoming the next Sachin, or in the careers that we would eventually choose. 

Perth 1992

During that period, there was definitely a lot of disruption happening in Indian industry (Reliance's Jamnagar plant, the IT sector, or Indian diaspora's success in world finance in NY and Software in Silicon Valley), and India as a country just blossomed after 1990.  But all this isn't as well telecasted as a sports match. Sachin also preceded some other symbols of national pride. To put things in perspective, most people fell in love with Sachin almost a decade before they heard of Dr. APJ Abdul Kalam, or India launched PSLV, or Pokhran-2, or when most of us felt "India was shining". Sachin was the public face of Indian success years before news of Indian borns becoming CEOs of major corporations or Tatas buying international companies became a regular feature. 

Today I can walk confidently in International offices with no inferiority complex what so ever.  Of course the credit of this goes to thousands of successful Indian businessmen, executives, scientists before me who created the positive stereotype and respectability.  But just like Sachin is credited to influence a generation of fearless Dhonis, Yuvrajs, Kohlis, Sachin's contribution to inspire a generation of confident 1980's born Indians, can't be underestimated.

Whether you agree with me or not, Apla Tendlya will remain a special part of my childhood, or who I or some of my friends have turned out to be.
Vs. Australia

Friday, October 26, 2012

Monday, December 08, 2008

Sorry Officer. I didn't intend to speed...

I have had some interactions with the US cops. And I just respect them completely! In India, a police-man on the street is someone you want to keep away from. They mean trouble, pain, irritation, and road-blocks for any matter. Although, I have been pulled over many times in India for jumping lights and in rare cases "lane cutting!", I rarely bribed them and took the longer route to get my license back from the Ghatkopar chowki at Eastern Express Highway paying the legitimate fine of Rs 100. But I still find them avoidable.

In the US however, my style of reasoning with the cops has worked so far. Very well.

1) I was driving back during lunch time with a friend Karthik on I-295 at 78mph on a limit of 65mph. A black car behind me (did not look like a cop car) flashed some blue lights at me from inside the windshield. I casually told my friend, "I do not know how some people are allowed to use blue lights for fun". He looked back and screamed, "Dude! its a cop car!!!". That was the first pull-over for me. My friend was a bit concerned that I would jump out of the car and go and try to talk to him the way we do in India. So he started yelling at me what to do. "Pull the car over. Shut off the engine. roll down the windows and DONT MOVE". I did all that.. and the normal proceedings followed. I told the cop, "Sir, I am sorry to speed, but I really did not intend to. I was just getting back to work on time". Whatever I said was true. And I had least expected it to work, but it did! Since I was not speeding too much and was under 15 miles over the speed limit and it was my first time, he gave me a clean chit! I was relieved for not losing $100 on the ticket fine and was so surprised that a cop would just let me go. Because it is my first time!!

2) My second pull-over was funny, it happened in LA as I was nearing the end of my 13-hr long drive from SF to LA. My parents were there with me when I was pulled over. They were totally unsure of what is happening, given that it was LA and 2:00AM in the night. And we were all surprised when the cop said, "You were driving too slow. What's up?" He was checking whether I was drunk. He asked me whether I was sleepy and where I was driving from. He later asked me to "Drive carefully". "Take a break and drink some coffee". My parents were completely bowled over!!! They had never seen this version of a policeman.

3) My third pull-over also happened during my parent's trip. I was driving them back from Shenandoah valley and Luranay caves to Richmond. We took the internal road called US-33 instead of the freeway 64. The speed-limit was 55 and I was suddenly caught by a policeman driving over 60-65 in a 35mph trap. I had not noticed the 35mph board. I was way over speeding. By law. This is what I said to him, "Sir, I am sorry I did not see the 35mph board. Trust me, I had no intention to speed. I am heading back to Richmond and chose to take this road instead of I-64 because I wanted to show my parents the beautiful countryside. And we are really enjoying the drive here. I will drive slowly from here on". Again a perfectly honest and true plea. And he really gave me the benefit of doubt. I wonder if any other Indian policeman would have done that.

4) My friend Sangram and myself were driving back to Richmond from DC in his car. Sangram has an unfortunate track record of getting noticed by the cops. He had "scored" 7 tickets in that calendar year. he suddenly pulled over and asked me to take over the wheel. I did, and was soon pulled over by a cop for over-speeding. Same story again and he let me go! Sangy said, "I am sure if I were driving, I would have got another ticket by now. This is SO not fair". yeah, I think I agree, but hope that US cops give me the benefit of doubt in situations where I am really not excessively speeding.

5) Lake Tahoe. Sangram was also one of the folks in our car. We came out of a restaurant and the cops pulled me over for not putting on the lights. Again, they were just checking whether I was drunk. They let me off. Lucky no 5.

6) Traffic light at Embarcadero and Middlefield intersection Palo Alto. I really do not know what happened after the light went green, but I found myself rear-ending my car to the car in front and he went and hit someone else in front of him. Technically I am at fault. 100%. The lady in the first car was probably too slow to start at the light, but that is no excuse. 100% at fault, I stepped out of the car to check the damage. Fortunately for me there was none, except the screw marks on all the three cars. The person I hit did not want to call the cops. But the grandma whom he hit wanted to play by the book. She called the cops! I thought I was dead. But luck played favorable once more. The cop told the granny, "Do you really want to book him under the offense? Nothing really has happened to your car". He came to me and said, "Nothing in the law could have saved you. She did!"

UPDATE: 3rd March 2010
7) Driving on University Ave towards work. Cops on bike caught me at 40mph on a 25mph limit. It seems I have run out of my luck. For the first time a cop gave me a paper. Either the ticket or the instructions to do the driving school is on the way :(

Sunday, June 22, 2008

My parent's trip - 2007

Under progress.

New York/Washington DC/Philadelphia
13 hr drive on the beautiful CA-1


My parents arrived at IAD, Dulles from a hectic tour of France and a subsequent Europe tour. My brother Shantanu was in Paris at that time for his internship and everything worked out too perfectly for us. They toured Paris and some areas of France and then proceeded on to a conducted Europe trip in France-Italy-Germany-Austra ending in Switzerland. They covered scores of cities in their tour and really had a good break after a long long time. They had NEVER traveled far distance without me and my brother (Most of the Indian parents of their generation belong to this category. Having worried over 20 years about their kids and their future and nothing else). I was glad they made this trip. Although I was worried that they would be tired after their 15 day trip, I was happy to be proved wrong. They still had a lot of energy and enthusiasm to tour more.



I showed them the Capitol area and drove back 2 hrs to Richmond. My parents were still amazed by the inter-crossing bridges and wide roads, but it was not a shock because of their Europe trip. However, they were surprised at the number of cars in the US and were quick to blame the world oil crises to the huge SUVs and trucks that we saw on the way back. We had a quick meal at Panera and my parents loved the place instantly. My dad slept off soon that day, so the welcome cake was cut by my mom. Sangram got the cake, my favorite one from ColdStone. My mom loved the cake.

New York/Washington DC/Philadelphia

I had my CFA 3 days after my parents came. I planned to give the CFA at Philadelphia because my cousin Milind Dada lives there. He was gracious to show them around NY and Phili before I was out of the exam. Then we proceeded to the magnificent Niagara Falls. Some pics of my parents visit to NY and Phili.




We started from Phili to Niagara after my exam was done. It was a 8 hr long drive, I think. Niagara is beautiful. I don't need to say it. Some of our pics.



I was concerned at first to take my parents to Vegas. Didn't want to shock them too much! But my parents immediately took to liking Vegas! We didn't gamble much. But the dazzle of the artificial city filled too much youth into my parents. For the first time, I left them alone and went off to sleep early. My parents had a good time roaming around through various casinos: watching the MGM lion, taking the the NY-NY roller coaster and other things. My parents also loved the '5-star' suite of the Vegas Hilton, the food and everything else.

We watched a Circ-du-Soleil show called "Zumanity". People who have seen it should know that it was not a good choice. I had to stop my father from walking out of the show atleast 3-4 times. Anyways, but to make up for this I took them to the Broadway show "The Phantom" - a version of the 'Phantom of Opera'. Needless to say everyone loved it. It was grand, expensive and an epitome of perfection. They had not left a stone unturned to create a perfect show. Some of the scenes, especially those in water and those with the Phantom left us amazed and was an icing on the top of the Vegas cake..


Americans have a superb knack of making beautiful things out of nothing. Disney is another such example. The happiest place on the earth is too perfect and too beautiful. I again least expected my parents to enjoy Disney, but we all did. Good music, creative shows, a parade full of life surely gave them a right to say 'its a beautiful small world'.

SanFrancisco and the 13 hr drive on the beautiful CA-1

More on this soon...

Saturday, April 12, 2008

2007. The year that was....

Blogging after a long time again. Just looking back at the year that went past by a long time ago.

Anyways with Amitabh Bachchan and Aamir Khan starting to blog, I am not sure whether friends read each other's blogs anymore. Hence I will try to keep the 2007 blog short.

In a nut shell
CFA exam
My parents' trip
Job search
The GreenPoint Mortgage eposide
Out of Recoveries
My Friends Back Home

In a nutshell

Very uneventful and simple year this was. My parents visited me - that was the high. I was not able to go back home - that was the low. The Capital One role which I so excitedly enjoyed in year one did not charm me anymore. I looked hard for a change outside and was unsuccessful. One would imagine things would be easy with an IIT stamp on your resume, but with so many thousand IITans out in the market, it is not easy as it seems. Finally I changed and joined a very active and energetic team in Capital One. Things were going great when I finally decided that it was high time I move closer to my girlfriend, fiancee and future wife - Dina Thomas. I decide to call up Yahoo! who had offered me a job in October. After breaking my head over getting entry into various types of jobs with no success, it was ironic how easily I got a job with a Computer Science firm. They are right when they say: "Jeno kaam teno chay, biju kare so gota khaye" (One should do what one is supposed to do. If any Tom-Dick-Harry tries to do what he is not supposed to, he is bound to drown.)

Anyways how can I finish the summary of my year w/o mentioning the horrible credit crisis that hit the US financial markets. Three-fourths way down the year it gave me my first experience of a job-loss and by the end of the year it has reduced my net $ worth by a third.


CFA stands for the Chartered Financial Analyst exam conducted by the CFA institute. It is a 3 part exam and I cleared the first one in 2007 and have appeared for the second one in 2008. Now, I will not get the charter even if I finish the three exams because I do not work as a Financial Analyst anymore, but I still plan to pursue this program. It has helped me clear my financial fundamentals. I have gained a decent understanding of economics, accounting, and valuation of fixed income instruments, derivatives, assets and also helped me gain the introductory knowledge of Portfolio Management and Corporate Finance. I enjoy studying these subjects and since there is no material impact to my career at all, my claim is quite true.

Job Search

Henry Kissinger said: If you don't know where you are going, every road will get you nowhere.

Anyways, since I see this happening to many of my friends around me, I don't think there is any particular problem with me. And anyways, I don't want to match Mr. Kissinger in smartness and cunningness. 18 months in Capital One Recoveries had left me bored. The fervor that I had for the 'Unassailability' initiative was slowly dying. My first manager and a great mentor Vinayak had left the company and so did my first team-mate and friend Abhay Bhootra. Slowly the place had a very few known faces with almost all my same-age buddy group - Aman, Rajat, Nizar, working there no more. I wanted to move out. Either out of the group or out of the company. After a few failed attempts at jobs outside of the company, I was lucky to land up a great role with Capital One's mortgage subsidiary in Novato about 30 mins drive up San Francisco. It was a great team headed by company stars Vijesh Iyer and Senthil Subramanian.

The Greenpoint mortgage episode

Greenpoint Mortgage was a subsidiary mortgage originator firm of the NorthFork Bank which was acquired by Capital One. Thus with tremendous excitement I left for Novato in the San Marin county. The place was about 1 hr drive up north of Dina's place, hence my future was about to be long drives over the weekends. (Although I loved driving and still can drive long hours, I have started to love it less these days. And commuting is a totally different animal than vacation driving.) Anyways, I left with some fanfare. My Richmond-DC friends were really kind to gift me a full set of FRIENDS episodes - a gift that I cherish and enjoy atleast 4-5 times a week.

On Aug 20 2007, I joined GPM at 9:00AM PDT. Met my manager, settled down and left for lunch by 12:00 noon. Something surely was cooking, because Rob Finnegan the Senior Vice President (3 steps under the CEO) at Capital One was there on the visitor list. I came back from my lunch and at 1:00PM PDT which is 4:00 PM EDT our CEO Rich Fairbank announced that we were shutting down this business.

FCUK! What the hell was happening? I really didn't understand anything. But luckily, before I could fathom what was going on Ashish Masih my previous VP called up and said that I could come back. This was such a great relief! Couple of more folks mailed me saying that they were ready to have me on their teams. Then I met Rob on the hall-way and he exclaimed, "Hey Man, how are you doing?" He swiftly corrected himself. "Shit happens, alri'te. But dont you worry. I will come back and catch you at 3:00". Rob is SVP at Capital One and was representing the Capital One CEO and the Chief Risk Officer to structure the close-down. I made sure I was at my cube at 3:00. He took me for a walk and explained me the situation. Such a great guy. Some folks immediately under him have some issues with him, but I was so many levels below him that I was his instant fan. He talked to me as if I was his buddy. I noticed him snapping his fingers in his trademark way. To one of my curious questions he answered, "why not sell this? because no one wants to buy this shit anymore!". Anyways I was more than assured of a job in any team back in Richmond/DC, so my jobless feeling did not remain for more than a few minutes actually.

Anyways my close friends had a great laugh when they heard what happened. And I had to start planning for my next steps. It was sad to know that I had to leave California and Dina. Something that I had planned for and dreamed for a while. I made sure that I spent a lot of quality time with Dina and other friends once I was here. I decided to move to a hotel in Los Altos (near Palo Alto) and drove 1 hr both ways. This commute was the BEST commute in my life so far and I don't expect to be commuting over a better route ever again. For those who know the SF landscape: I used to take 280 from Page Mill to SF, take route 19 inside the city over the Golden Gate bridge and then take 101 to Novato. Can it get better?

Meanwhile, Vijay Krishnan a friend of mine who then worked at Yahoo! passed my resume to some recruiter. I didn't know then that this was going to be a successful attempt. ( I also sent my resumes here and there in SF. I dont even remember exactly where).


I interviewed Yahoo! and got a job from them. But I didn't accept it and decided to join the MainStreet Customer Acquisition team in Capital One instead. MCA team acquires customers in the Subprime segment. Although the subprime segment is the same as the 'subprime mortgage crisis', when it comes to credit cards this still is an extremely profitable business. The MCA team is responsible to acquire more accounts and quality accounts which produce minimal losses (charge-offs). I reported to Rod Fertig who was just 26 but 2 levels above me. Amazing dude. Extremely passionate, clear thinker and hard worker. Knows very well how to lead a team and knows how to cut through the crowds. He is sure to go great guns whereever he goes.

The 5-6 months that I spent in MCA helped me understand the core of the company's business. The work culture was inspired by a Toyota program called Work In Progress Cap or WIP-CAP. The idea here was that instead of people working on 10 things at a time, people should work on only one project at a time in a team. Thus in the entire MCA team there were just 7 projects but all were expected to happen 4-5 times faster than usual. This ridiculous work culture taught me so much about the business in 4-5 months that I could have taken an year to learn otherwise.

The group was split in Richmond and McLean (near Washington DC) and I had to commute 2 hrs once a week. I had fun commuting to McLean and meeting new people and also living in the hotel!


I had got a job offer from Yahoo! in October but I did not act on it. It was during my Christmas break to California I realized that I should relocate to the Bay Area. I contacted Yahoo! again and decided to leave Capital One. It wasn't an easy decision to leave MCA and Capital One.

I am currently working with the Mail and Messenger teams and do a lot of deep analytical stuff. The job is interesting. It is definitely more technical and deeper than Capital One (as far as analysis is concerned) but less of business exposure. And Capital One has a great associate-manager development culture which Yahoo (and I believe all the Silicon Valley companies) simply lack.

My Friends Back Home

Last year we started a small initiative called "My Friends Back Home". The idea started out with us contributing something to the education of kids back in India. The idea was simple. Many people contribute little and help raise some money that will sponsor the education of 3 organizations in India. I do not know whether to consider it successful or not, given that we had to suspend it because all our team members are in different regions of the world. But in a span of 6 months we collected and sent over $1200 to the three projects. They were Sshrushti and Sankalp (Asha projects) in Delhi and Disha a project in Thane. Although this idea did not reached its full potential, I think we did something small but nice.

Sunday, November 05, 2006

2006-Half Yearly Report? oops... the One year Report

This was the start to the original post on 19th August titled 'Half yearly report'

6 months after I left India, I thought it appropriate to 'report' to everyone. However 10 months have passed and I still haven't finished this piece. Today I decided, that I should just publish this although incomplete.

But it is exactly one year ago, that I left from my wonderful homeland, (infact at this same hour) and within 24 hours it will be one whole complete year for me in the US. I owe a report to you all, about whatever I enjoyed in the last one year. This is dedicated to you all in India who define what I stand for and also all those who made my life in the US so wonderful and who are redefining me over the past one year.

Half Yearly Report :P oops... the One year Report

Its 365 days now, that I saw you all the last time. And in less than 1 month from now I hope to see you all again. Although I had promised myself not to stay away from my land for more than 8 months in a row, I wasn't able to live up to my promise because couple of my friends spoiled my plans by sending me invites for their marriages for December :P and I must attend them. And my brother, cousins and my friends have/(can manage) their vacations in December. So December 2, I return back to India :) I am absolutely excited.

I shall stay short in this blog, and try to make it as clear and readable. (Have paragraph headers for selective reading)


Future Study: My plans (or lack of it) over future study

CapitalOne: The company and my work


The American Suburbia:

Some things that I like about the US:

The Great American Road system:

I believe I can fly:

My America Darshan

I have always loved to travel. And here, I am enjoying the freedom (read singledom) and the ease of traveling. Airfare doesn't seem too much in terms of dollar amount (A 3000 mile flight from DC to California costs $250, which in terms of purchasing power is Rs 2500). And with a car of your own its very convenient to plan trips. Further rental car business is highly evolved here. You can get the best and the newest of cars/vans rented easily (and if 4-8 people pool in, the cost doesn't seem too much).

Some special places I visited

The best city in the world after Bombay (Not finished off with a detailed blog on NY)


Future Study:

My work is going OK. There is nothing rocket-science in corporate life anyways, and I am still dabbling with the idea 'to study or not to study'. I hope I take some decision before life takes it for me. It wont be an easy decision to pursue a PhD. Coz it takes a lot of guts to dedicate 5 years of your life towards a particular subject.
(And it also means lot of time in the US, which I don't want) OR maybe this comfortable life has sucked out the risk appetite from me, I guess. And I see this disease all around, in most of my friends. I just wonder, if my generation - arguably the luckiest generation India has produced, can not take risks and can not pursue what they really want, who will?

Back to Index

Capital One:

(Pic 1: Entrance to Capital One Main Campus)
(Pic 2: Working out at Capital One! Lots of pun intended)

(Pic 3&4: Outer and Inner world of Capital One)

Has been a fantastic place for your first job. I love this company for many reasons, firstly they flew me business class :P, they put me up for 4 months of housing and 3 months of rental car. They even take care of small small stuff like driving lessons. Regarding work, they give you enough time to come up to speed, and its a really warm and friendly place to spend your entire day. My manager is an amazing guy, an Indian, and a Wharton MBA. I am thankful to him to help me have such a smooth transition into my new life.

CapitalOne has a good 9-5 work culture, and its interesting to see how these American people balance their work and life. They are very punctual and have a systematic way of doing things. We have all ex-McKinsey, ex-BCG people all over, and so many Wharton grads running the business. The work is ofcourse not very challenging (like CS research work) or intellectually stimulating, but its a good platform to learn to sell your ideas. The job is 10% of problem finding, 5% of problem solving and 85% of presentations ;) (which certainly is an important skill to learn)

This chilled out life-style could be a perfect final destination for those who are okay to settle in Richmond. A young chap starting out his career though, should be wary of not getting spoiled by this relaxed life. Infact the 'fun' is eating up too much into my time. When it is summer time people go mad. We have 'happy hours' every now and then. i.e. we go over to someone's place and people have beer and chicken/meat over hazaar talks of golf, Nascar, baseball, football and during the soccer WC, for a change, 'soccer'. I was mostly lost in these discussions and wanted to do something. So my team (full of Indians :P) organised a 'cricket fun-day' on a soft-ball field.. and believe me.. IT WAS A HIT! We had 32 people playing that day, out of which 22 were Americans!!! and 6 women!! Rules were simple.. 6 balls per bowler and 6 balls per batter ... -2 for a wicket.. and we had some fantastic sixes and brilliant catches from the Americans.. and the result was awesome -> I was placed 'runner-up' for the monthly 'Most Valued Person' award in my department :P :D :D :D Reason :'teamwork initiation'

What does Capital One do?

It is one of the top 4 credit card issuers in the US. There are different parameters to measure the rankings of Financial Institutions and our Company ranks anywhere from 1 to 10 in different aspects. Recently we became the 10th largest bank in the US (not just the credit card business.. entire banking business).

What am I doing here?

What do we do for work? As a CS person, Nothing. Many people have asked me this question. And this is my answer in short:

  • In the US, you cannot give (or refuse) money to anyone based on age, income, gender, race, place of residence, or any parameter which can be seen as discriminatory.
  • All credit based decisions are made on the basis of the person's past financial behavior. And thankfully here in the US, these people have detailed information of how people manage their finances, and how risky they are - in simple words, whether they pay on time, or whether they run away with money, etc There are credit bureaus which keep track of every person in the US.
  • Now, Capital One itself has 25 million customers of the 250 million people in the US!! Further our annual marketing budget is over $500 Million. This means that we send approximately over 300-400 Million pieces of mail in an year. This covers approximately 50 Million people in the US (many people get mailed repeatedly).
  • Hence it is not possible to manually decide whether someone is credit-worthy or not, based on his/her past profile. This is where statistical modeling and lot of analysis comes into picture. Because of the heavy volumes, we need models which will convert different numbers on people's credit bureau reports, to a single value - whether it makes economic sense to make this person our customer or not.
  • This is the job of an analyst. We don't make the statistical models, but I am one of the many analysts in Capital One, who helps the company explore into the data and understand what strategies work and what strategies do not. Or better, what strategies might work and what might not.
  • This job is definitely not rocket science, but there is definitely a lot to learn. It happens many times that out of sheer raw analysis, you figure out something, but it requires your manager's and other seniors' business acumen to understand the undercurrents below something that seems obvious. This is where the learning opportunity is.

Our CEO:

Our CEO is Rich Fairbank, and I had the opportunity to talk to him for 10 mins!!! He is such a great guy! He founded the company in 1994, and has grown it into a multi billion dollar giant. Earning over $250 MM himself per year, he certainly lives upto his name!

Back to Index


Richmond, I think, is just like Lucknow or Jaipur.

  • Its 2 hours away from the capital.
  • Its half as cheap as Washington, DC.
  • It has half the crime in Lucknow and has less than 1/10000 of history of Jaipur. (But its a Historical city by American standards. Technically there are just 4-5 historical cities in the US: Philadelphia, Boston, NY-NJ, Chicago, maybe that's it. )
  • It has the divide. Nice rich small red houses in one part of the city on both sides of a beautiful boulevard called Monument Avenue. Lots of monuments. (Arthur Ashe was from Richmond and stands forever in one of the squares). Really safe neighbourhood. Lots of small shops (quite unlike in this mall era) and a very lit up road with beautiful restaurants, pubs, art shops, dress shops, theatres on both sides of the road. The place looks really beautiful in the evenings, and esp. in summers, with all college students and families coming for a regular hang-out. And it has the supposedly dark neighbourhoods where we did venture to go in (and frankly didn't find it much different from Ghatkopar west)
  • To talk of Lucknow and Jaipur, Richmond town also has very few tall stories. Most houses are a couple of floors in height. You would be surprised to know that there are electricity and phone poles and wires running throughout the city!!
I stay in Richmond suburb called Glen Allen. And frankly most suburbs in the US would be like this. Well planned, all facilities, huge apartment communities, big wide roads, plenty of parking, HUGE malls and so on. Very very safe, and equally boring. Those small personalized shops are inexistent. All the shops are big chains Krogers/Kohls/Target/JCPenny/bla bla.. And if you are in the centre of a mall you wont be able to recognize whether you are in Virginia or Texas or California.

Some pictures of my apartment complex and home.

Back to Index

American Suburbs:

I hate those Indians who keep on saying "America mein yeh, America mein woh". Most of the time, they are talking about the American Suburbs. And their houses and roads in American Suburbs. 20 miles away from their offices. Some of them have bought a house in remote parts of the suburbs or some of them live in the plush apartment communities spread all over American suburbs. And I am positive, these Suburbs have started booming since 1990s. There wasn't much civilization before that. Now I am sure one can buy similar nice houses far away from Mumbai or Pune, Delhi or even on the borders of cities like Jaipur, Lucknow and have twice as better life-style than in Glen Allen or New Jersey suburbs.

It is really unfair to compare these Amrerican suburbs with inner Bombay or Delhi. Compare Bombay with NewYork and you will see more similarities than saying one is better than the other (not completely though). I have seen 'some' places in New York/Philli/Baltimore. They are no better than shanties. You cannot have a house in Glen Allen, or suburbs of Denver, Kentucky, Boise and complain that you can not get similar lifestyle in Bombay's Pali Hill. And people who afford houses in upscale NY/Chicago can surely afford the best of Malabar hill and Juhu-Bandra.

There is one big difference though. Some parts of these big cities are really beautiful and extremely clean. Bombay still has that complete homegeneity everywhere, even if you are in Malabar Hill or Nariman Point.

Back to Index

I like these things about the US (materialistically):

  • Big and systematic road system. Comfort of driving. You have a car, money to fill up
    gas, and you are the king.
  • Clean Air.
  • The prosperity and infrastructure has reached all over the US. In remotest of the villages. And that's why it is possible to stay 20-50 miles away from the cities and still have good work at hand.

I am sure, and I pray that we will reach this position sometime soon. In 10-15 years maybe. Our traffic just catches up faster than the infrastructure improvements we make. And we always forget that we have the world's best railways. I am dying to make a train travel soon :)

Back to Index

Cars and Road Infrastructure:

Cars!!! The car business is probably the most evolved business in the US. And everyone has a car. Its a must. I don't know how much does the car industry contribute to the US economy in dollar amounts, but I am sure that directly or indirectly this industry is the highest employer. Road-system, Gas-industry, Car insurance, used-car industry, mechanics, rental car industry are HUGE industries in the US. Let me not go on and on, but to give you an idea -> There is a company called Car-Max. It deals with ONLY used cars. They buy used cars and do all the repairs whatever is necessary and sell off (or finance) the car with a guarantee!!! It has showrooms ALL over the US, and its a FORTUNE 500 company!! -> A used car shop!

BTW I bought a car called Toyota Celica. Its a kind of sports car. Its doing good so far.

The roads are simply awesome. People obey traffic rules. If there is a STOP sign, people STOP, whether anyone is coming or not.

Huge and long interstate highways run north-south, east-west all into the US. You could go from any city to another without meeting a signal. And the interstates are extremely safe all over the US. And that makes so much travel possible. Everyone travels at around 75 miles per hour (120kmph).

Railways.. Railways?? Uh? whats that? Thanks to the super powerful auto and gas industry lobbying, railways are inexistent. They are costlier than airfare.

Back to Index

Washington D.C.:

Thanks to Capital One, I got my rental car in a week of coming to the US. I got my driving license too and immediately thereafter I drove to Carnegie Mellon University, Pittsburgh. It was a 6 hours drive and the first leg was really really confusing. I didn't know the roads, and all the signs over the road made things worse (or simpler!). I had a map in my hand and it was tough to juggle looking at the map, finding directions and driving, all at the same time :) And the exits here are such that you go round and round and just lose sense of what is North and what is South. Luckily I have a good direction sense (much better that people I know here) and ultimately was on the right inter-state. I picked up some friends from DC and then navigation wasn't much of an issue. It was Thanksgiving time and became colder as we went North. The road to Phili was like our 'Ghats', but with a difference.. everyone still drove at 75 mph. It was undoubtedly scenic and this 350 miles stretch took me from cities to villages to forests and mountains.. and finally we reached CMU. The university is small and beautiful in some parts. We also visited Mt Washington to have a breath-taking view of the night-time skyline of Pittsburgh. The city is a blue-collared city, as it had many steel mills in the past. The American Football team is one of the best in the US and is called 'Steelers'.

Back to Index

Virginia Beach, Chesapeake bay bridge:
Been there a few times. Nice placid beach. Off Norfolk. A nice place for camping. What was more interesting for me, was the Chesapeake bay bridge. Its a 17 miles long bridge-tunnel combo crossing over and under the Chesapeake bay. You get a wierd feeling when you are driving over the sea (because the waves are over 20 feet tall), and it feels more wierd when you go under it. (visit this link)

Back to Index

Philadelphia :
Milind dada (cousin) stays there. The drive around Phili is awesome. You see HUGE american cargo and navy ships in the bay. And the road cuts through some of America's oldest factories. By no means a pleasant sight, I am still amazed at the 500 feet tall rusting structures.
Some of the bridges here are the oldest and the tallest in the US, and are beautiful. It is a historic city (first capital, independence bell etc). Milind dada took us on a duck-boat ride. These vehicles are decomissoned world-war amphibian trucks, which can ride on the land and run in water as well. The city-tour took us through US's first Capitol/constitution buildings etc, and then into the Camden harbour.
Although the city is not as rosy as Chicago or Boston appear, I always look at it with amazement whenever I cross it.

Back to Index


The city is similar to Phili in many respects. Huge populations of poor people, crime, industry interspread with certain pockets of excellence like the Wharton School (Phili) or the Johns Hopkins University (Baltimore). I have some friends in Johns Hopkins and one of my very good friends stays there. I haven't been so much into the poor neighborhood of any other city as much in Baltimore. Primarily because Johns Hopkins is in midst of such neighbourhood, and secondly because I was lost once coming out of Baltimore. This was when I realized that US is not just about dreams and prosperity. Although everyone around had homes (and other necessities), there barren life was definitely pitiable. Some of the buildings around had broken glasses and lots of graffiti. There were run-down cars and lots of tires and scrapped metal around. There definitely seemed some demonic existence in that place.

Back to Index

Atlantic City:
The Las-Vegas of the east coast. A gambling city. Sort of maya-nagri. Built on reclaimed land. Donald Trump owns 3-4 casinos in this place. Lots of glitterati, and I didn't like the feel of this place.

Back to Index

Jacksonville (Florida):

My first LONG road-trip. 7 guys rented a Dodge Caravan and left off. It was a 10 hr drive. Florida was beautiful as expected

Back to Index

Texas: Dallas-Austin-Houston: Work took me to Houston. Thanks to Capital One, I could take a detour via Dallas and Austin. Didn't get much time to see around, but the interesting part of the trip was me renting a Ford Mustang and driving from Dallas to Austin and then from Austin to Houston. Texas wasn't as hot as I thought it to be.

The Ford Mustang not only made my drive easier - it also made me a hero for a day for my nephew Ameya (Shri Dada's son) who was really excited to know that he has an uncle who 'drives' a Mustang :)

Back to Index

San Francisco:
Earlier this year, I went to Stanford University to meet some of my closest friends from IIT. That was an awesome 5 day vacation. California is so much more beautiful than the west coast, in terms of diverse flora-fauna. It was just the start of Spring and the nature was as rich as it could be.
I stayed over at the Stanford University and the sprawling campus is probably the most idlyllic places of worshiping education, I suppose. The buildings reminded me of Spanish Castles shown in all the 'Zorro' movies. With palm trees lining up the main driveway, the campus surely welcomes you very well. The church, the Palm drive, the Oval lawns (forgot the name) and the golf course are some of the beautiful tourist attractions of this place. Located in San Jose, the campus is strategically placed placed at an appropriate distance from SanFrancisco city and the beaches. The Bay Area or the Silicon Valley have grown around the Berkeley and Stanford areas, it looks like.

I did visit the SanFrancisco city, but couldn't spend much time there. Had a nice dinner and a drive over the Golden Gate Bridge. It was not as awe-inspiring as I thought it would be, probably because it was night and rainy, but I can imagine its magnificent presence during the day.

The trip cannot be complete without the mention of the Mystery Point and the Monterey Beach. The Mystery point is nothing but a display of man-made illusions, intellegently created using the slanting trees and slanting house with slanting floors and slanting ceilings to full advantage. We then proceeded on to Moneterey beach, or better known as the 17-mile drive. I am sorry I am not a good writer, and cannot help but repeating words and feelings - this place is heaven. You should be here to believe it. A perfect set for all the Mercedes, BMW ads; thats all I can say - I leave it up to you to imagine what this place must be like.

My chauvanism forces me to add this- to put it in short, this place is ALMOST as good as the Konkan coast from Shrivardhan to Harihareshwar. (Note the 'almost' - bole to - 'not as good').


On Memorial day long weekend this year, me and my friends from Richmond DROVE to Chicago! At the end of the trip we had put about 1800-1900 miles on the spacious Toyota Sienna. That distance is slightly more than Mumbai-Delhi-Mumbai.

Over that last one year, I have made some wonderful friends in Capital One. Most of them joined along with me, and some of them were here before me. The road trip was FUN. Esp. driving on I-76 and I-70 over the Pittsburg turnpike, reminds you of the Sahyadris and the Khandala ghat. The charming landscape includes rural villages, farms with wind-mills and all - reminding you of the photographs that generally adorne the pharmaceutical calanders I have at home.

Chicago - is a beautiful city. I had heard only of crime and guns and murders and Sears Towers when it comes to Chicago, but the city was much more than that. I was the driver when we entered Chicago and the first poster that welcomed us read out loudly - 'HAND OVER YOUR GUN FOR $100', ' GIFT YOUR CHILD HER FREEDOM' and so on .. This, added to the urban legends I had already heard about the place, didn't help when I had to fill gas somewhere in one of the shady suburbs of Chicago. My friends only made it worse for me, and kept teasing me for thinking twice/thrice before getting out. (I must add though, that none of them got down either :P) It didn't get better as I stepped out of the car. The place reminded me of all the dhishum-dhishum American movies I had seen. The pump did not work at first. Anyways after all that, that was the shortest time I have ever taken to fill up gas. My driving woes did not end then. We did not know where to go, someone had the Global-positioning-System (GPS) and kept on ordering me from his seats and all my friends screaming for the slightest mistake I did :)

As we entered Chicago, I further regretted being at the wheel. This time because I wasn't able to get a full view of the Sear's towers I was dying to since my childhood. Chicago skyline is beautiful, and on a warm sunny day, it was a treat to walk through the downtown. Anyways, with a couple of missed turns and wrong exits, we finally reached our hotel. We came back to the downtown, to meet our friend who flew in from Boston.

(Pic 1: Against Sears Towers)
(Pic 2: In the evening)
(Pic 3: Chiacago's 'Marine Drive' from the J. Hannock towers' 96th floor)

(Pic 1: Kids playing- a sculpture at Navy Pier)
(Pic 2: My friends - on the prowl)

There are three cities I have been to, when I think - 'Yaar Bombay ko aisa banana hai'. Chicago is one of the them. With tall buildings lined up on the coast of Lake Michigan, with cold winds blowing from the lake, with the pure blue carpet of pure water spread out in front of you, uninterrupted only by the sight of valiant surfers, on a bright sunny day - you just want to be ultra rich and living on the Chicago's 'Marine Drive'.

We spent the evening at the Navy Pier. Looked as if there was some fair going on that day. It was nice. While having our dinner I saw one of the most beautiful fire-cracker display ever. From there we went on to the John Hannock centre (a 100-odd storey building, second highest after the Sears towers). We went to a cafe on the 96-th floor and that was (till then) the tallest I have ever been in a man-made structure. I just cannot describe in words what it felt to be there.


The independence day weekend sent us to Boston. We were hosted by our friends and seniors - Gautam Tambay and Abhimanyu Bhuchar. More charming than the beauty of the city, was the hospitality of the two hosts. Fully royal at heart, they more than enthusiastically showed us around Boston downtown and Cambridge area - where the historious Harvard and MIT universities have been established.

Our hosts stay in downtown Boston, paying over $2400 in rent p.m. and hence we were fortunate to spend time Boston's most posh and happening areas. We watched France beat Brazil in one of the pubs adjoining the Charles River. Summer had set in and people in Boston were in full spirits. It might sound cliche by now, but we enjoyed the walk in downtown Boston. The Harvard campus surely had its own charm and daunting presence. I had just finished reading 'The Class' and it felt nice to see the 'Elliot Hall' myself.

People say Boston has terrible winters, but fortunately when I was there, the summers were really kind and I thoroughly enjoyed this trip.

New York!:
Went there for 2 hrs on Christmas. Couldn't resist myself. Was also there at New Years. Been there many times after that. Then a very special friend was interning in NY. And many other friends keep visiting NY, thus bringing me to NY very often. Would surely like to stay here at least for one year, sometime in future.

Just attaching two pics during my friend Manish's trip to NY. Dina is also seen in the picture.

(Pic 1: Dina, myself and Mirchi at Liberty Island)
(Pic 2: Riding the bull at Wall Street - only if)

Back to Index

And I flew high..

Sometime this year during summers, me and my friends decided to go flying :) Really.. Flying.. Went there a few times, till it became too costly :P

(Pic 1: Me with the Cessna plane)
(Pic 2: My home and my office in the Wyndham area - this is not the Capital One campus)

Tuesday, October 24, 2006


Buxfer is this new cool online hisaab sheet. Developed by my friend and genius Shashank Pandit.