It’s fun, and only slightly illegal

When I started this habit of quarterly updates last September I thought it was a neat idea. What I did not realize was that I might be short of words even if I wrote only once in three months. Now, if I am not able to figure out what have I done in the last three months that I would like to talk about, then am I leading the life I would like to? I am sure that some of my friends, colleagues and acquaintances would have the same feeling too.

So why am I doing this any way. I can still hear Br. MacCarthaigh’s commandment “no introductions” in essay classes back in school. This, however, is not an essay, and it is all that I would perhaps be able to write of in this email. I will take a few minutes to explain the purpose of these emails and go along with the risk of losing my readership.

For a number of years I have been noticing that I have been losing touch with people whom I knew. We would promise to be in touch and start exchanging emails. The gap between these mails or phone calls would increase and finally fizzle off. Some stray event would remind me of someone and I would try to write back but that person had by then moved on and the old email address was not valid any more. Even if it did work, it was awkward finding words and picking up the thread.

I tried out some tools and explored the possibility of developing one. I will perhaps write out the specs of the tool some day but I can’t wait till it is developed. Others might benefit but I would lose all my contacts by then. Then I remembered something from my brief encounter with the operations research approach to maintenance of light bulbs.

The approach says that you change all the light bulbs in your charge at a predetermined interval. It doesn’t matter whether they have conked off or not, you just change them. That does not rule out the need for changing bulbs as and when they break down, but you do that as and when required. I leave it to text books to explain the virtues of this approach. I will only say that I have adopted a similar approach.

I have started going in with a mass mailer before a quarter starts (or ends – depends on how you want to look at it). That triggers off notes from some of you. I try to get back with a reply that in turn some of you respond to. This goes on for a while and fizzles off till I return along with a change in the season.

Of late business networking sites have also interested me quite a bit. I have been able to track down some people I knew and had lost contact with. Late in 2005 I was able to find Joao in Portugal and last quarter I found Marcin in Poland . These sites also throw up interesting tidbits.

I have 170 odd contacts in my Linkedin contact list. One of them is in the HR function of Cognizant in Calcutta, one in Bangalore and works for HP, while a third works for Birlasoft in Noida. None of them know each other, but all of them know this gentleman who works for Novell.

I don’t know how such patterns in human connectivity would affect you but it amazed me when I figured this out. It is not difficult to imagine from a logical perspective but to actually see it happen within two degrees of separation is strange. Does that make me a “connector” as Gladwell would define it?

Before I lose all my readers let me squeeze in a few more words.

I pulled off a hat trick of having a visa stamped on the passport for an aborting long term travel. I didn’t travel to Moscow first time this happened, I did not travel to Paris the second time, and now I did not travel to Stoke, near Manchester. I am losing my touch. This destination was not as exotic or exciting as the last couple of times.

I was settling into business operations when I wrote to you last time. This quarter end finds me looking beyond that. Mild cribs, renewing contacts and going places have been major themes in my mailers till now. I will try to come back with a “things I built” theme next time.

Ah, and yes, I almost forgot this. During the last few weeks I have been spending a lot of time at a site that plays songs from the 50’s. I did not know that I did not know of a lot of singers like Alma Cogan, Miki & Griff, Teresa Brewer, Doris Day, Frankie Laine, or Tennessee Ford. The name of the station is “Jodash 50’s” at and the utility I use to record these songs is the Hi-Q Recorder. It’s fun, and only slightly illegal. Thus spake Monty Python.

(Note: You have received this email because you are in my address book and distribution list. Please feel free to ask me stop bugging you with these quarterly mailers)

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