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Startup hiring …

Yes we’re hiring …
There are millions of blogs out there on startup hiring which preach on the dos and don’ts of startup hiring.
I’m not trying to preach anything here – just sharing my experience with the first batch of hiring activities that we’ve been upto …
Hiring they say – is difficult – even more so with a startup.
We guys keep getting a decent amount of resumes every week which we religiously archive. So when we decided to get a couple of people, thats where we decided to look in first. We’ve had a multitude of resumes from various different segments (all computer related of course) – quite a few freshers and people with a year of experience and looking to change a job and some even with 2, 3, 4 and 5 years of experience. (Yes. We were shocked ourselves when we found out that people with so much experience want to ride the uncertain-startup-waves). But its definitely a good sign to see people wanting to not work in a multinational company, take a little bit of risk and do something extremely exciting at work.
The first thing that I personally check for is the to field of the email.
All people interested in joining ThinkingSpace, need to mail in their resumes at careers [at] thinkingspace.in.
It is unbelievable how many people bulk send their resumes to various companies and put all those addresses in the to field. C’mon people! Give me a break. If you cannot take the trouble of personally emailing a company you’re looking to join (something you will be investing the next 2 – 3 years of your life in) then I am not going to bother calling you for the interview – no matter how impressive your resume is.
As a matter of fact, the resumes of such people are not that great anyways – so this is a good quick filter.
The smarter ones bulk email putting you in the bcc field – better – but I still know you are bulk mailing. So out goes your resume. Learn how to use a mail merge next time.
Bulk mailing also indicates how desperate you’re to get a job and that you’re not particularly interested in the company you wish to join.
So far, we have been calling people directly for an interview – which works out decently well for us.
Except that some people are unprofessional enough not to show up and not inform you. Then they email you and tell you something to the effect of – I have my certification exam – can I come back next week. Yeah right!
The first inteview we do, we generally try to check whether the guy is right for a startup and whether a startup (particularly our startup) is right for them. So far, all the people we interviewed knew what a startup was like and gave decently convincing reasons as to why they wanted to join one.
After this is over, we generally start the technical process – which involves a few coding challenges and a rapid fire technical interview. I know we are doing this in the reverse order (first HR and then technical) – but it works for us.
There is no sense in spending time, money and effort in doing a technical – getting a good person and then finding that they didn’t even know what a startup was and what will be required of them.
The technical round is another shocker. It is amazing how many people over rate themselves.
The question – “On a scale of 1-10 (1 being the lowest) – where do you rate yourself in XXX” always gives an excellent picture of where the guy actually is.
The good ones generally tend to rate themselves much, much lower than the bad ones.
Its also shocking to see how many people with their basic computer fundas all mixed up think they can code well. I’m guessing this trend has something to do with the larger companies (read Infosys, Wipro, TechM) picking up large number of people with no coding skills and then training them.
People have become complacent knowing that if they have decent aptitude skills, they will make it.
Unfortunately for them, a larger number of companies don’t have thre resources nor the time to teach people the basics of OOPs or whether private constructors are allowed by the compiler and what happens when you define a constructor to be private. Four years of an engineering degree ought to have taught you atleast these things …
It also pays to be sincere and honest I feel.
Atleast for startups. You could know a lot of things, but when you don’t – you must have the heart to admit it and the drive to figure it out yourself.

The logic of spending money …

I spent a good hour at Landmark (which is a pretty large bookstore in our city) the other day – having nothing to do. I ended up buying two books even though I entered the shop with the intent of just casually browsing through the store and passing some time …
While browsing, I had picked up a couple of books with the intent of buying them – but later placed them back on the shelf, changing my mind the last minute.
The books I eventually ended up buying were – The Alchemist (something that I have wanted to read since a long time) and Games Indians Play (a book in which the author tries to explain why Indians behave the way they do using Prisoner’s Dilemma in Game Theory)
The books I ended up placing back on the shelf were – “A Thousand Splendid Suns” by Khaled Hosseini (not the right time to jump into a large novel) and “It Happened in India” by Kishore Biyani (wasn’t very keen and would be able to borrow it from a friend later).
Anyways, getting back to the topic at hand – the reason I wrote this post – is because I was wondering — how we willingly spend money for different things.
I have never felt the pinch while spending money on books – I spent a good 400 bucks on books I didn’t even intend to buy when I got to the place.
Similarly, I never quite feel the pinch while buying computer hardware – say a new hard disk or some ram.
Honestly speaking, I have started feeling the pinch (computer hardware) a little as compared to my college days – but nothing compared to spending a similar amount on getting my bike serviced — or on buying clothes for example.
I found it ironic that I could buy books worth a 1000 bucks in the morning – and cringe when my mechanic told me later that evening that I would have to change the brake liner of my bike which would cost me 250 bucks.
I really wonder why…
Maybe its because the way we are brought up.
Maybe because I had a sort of a “no questions asked fund” for buying books as a kid – that I continue not to feel the pinch now.
Or maybe I just strongly believe in the benefits of buying books.
I really don’t know – but I definitely do believe — different people do have different policies on spending money on different things. I just really do not know why.

When life gives you lemons …

I met up with a friend of mine recently who is working with this big multinational company.
Lets assign this company a completely random name – just because I am too lazy and don’t want to keep typing it again and again … Umm .. lets call it TM.
Okay …
So this friend of mine – an extremely bright, intelligent and hardworking student from back in college joins TM thinking that its a big company with thousands of people – and he’ll have every opportunity to grow and learn there …
He couldn’t be more wrong …
When he met me, he was completely stressed out – and very dejected …
I couldn’t believe it was the same confident guy I knew back in college …
He was suffering from something I call – “The Big Company Syndrome”.
I’ve had so many of my friends tell me the same story this friend of mine tell me – and about this same company – TM.
Moreover, you can smell something fishy when a company asks its employees to sign a two year bond of Rs. 100,000 (or was it 200,000?) as means to retain them…
Anyways, in bigger “service” based companies such as TM, people get treated as resources.
Most often than not, your superiors don’t give a crap about you and you end up being the extreme end of the tail in which everyone above you is trying to please everyone else above them and as such, don’t bother with those below them.
A very common occurrence in companies such as these – is having no work and ending up on bench for a long, long time.
This might be extremely hard for many to swallow .. but according to me, you are already in an awesome spot.
If life gives you lemon … Make lemonade!
How difficult is it anyways?

  1. Cut the lemon in half.
  2. Get a glass of water.
  3. Squeeze each half of the lemon into the glass.
  4. Add a pinch of salt.
  5. Some sugar to taste.
  6. Stir well and drink chilled ๐Ÿ™‚

My friend here, tried his best to get work – but his superiors just neglected him …
All his requests were met with a few peanut jobs – which he completed in a matter of days – and again, had nothing to do.
This, he explained, bothered him a lot – and rightly so …
When you have been hired to work, it hurts not getting any responsibilities …
But the really sad thing is that in such large companies, nobody really cares …
Unless you have a terrific team leader or project manager, you are going to be in the same predicament.
And chances of getting a great superior are very, very low …
If you are stuck in a similar situation, you have two options:
Option A
This is the more ethical and fun option to do:

  1. You type out a nice resignation letter.
  2. Pack up all your stuff.
  3. Delete all the personal files from your machine.
  4. Walk up to your manager – preferably when he is surrounded by other co-workers.
  5. Tell him what a jackass he has been.
  6. Throw the letter at his face.
  7. Storm out.

You’ll definitely get a better job. Don’t worry.
If you were good enough to be hired by this company, many other companies will take you easily.
Option B
Though I agree that this option borders on the unethical side, it is completely justified in such a situation.
Company loyalty can go take a hike.
In this option, the first thing you should do is stop asking your boss for work. That is simply the dumbest thing to do.
Come to work on time, punch in and relax.
You’re still getting paid right?
Do the work they give to you – but don’t be too enthusiastic about it – because honestly, nobody cares!
In your free time – and you’ll have tonnes of it, read, blog, write some pet hobby projects, put it up on the internet for others to use and grow yourself …
If you really get good at it, you can even consider freelancing – but this depends on how good you are hiding it during company hours.
I have heard stories of people running entire software side businesses using the company phone of TM itself.
They work as software contractors – getting work from some people – outsourcing to others – and taking a cut in the middle. They make this money in addition to also getting paid from the company for doing nothing.
This would be entirely shocking to many – but sadly, this is the way most large Indian software companies work.
You just have to learn how to work the system …
If you can’t, you’ll probably screw up your health with all the tension or commit suicide with all the depression, that’s why is important to do activities that release tension.
And if you look at it – in the long scheme of things that is life – a couple of bad years in a bad company does not make any difference …
On the other hand, it just makes you stronger and wiser …
So when life gives you lemons, just make lemonade yaar!!! ๐Ÿ™‚
[ Min number of posts to go till Mar 17, 2008 : 75.]

Let there be light …

Today has been a pretty horrendous day actually …
We had no electricity for almost 12 hours …
From about 12 in the afternoon to about 12 now …
It is a pretty sad experience really – something we haven’t faced for a while …
There was a time – about a year ago, when there would be no electricity for 4 hours daily in the summers due to load shedding …
Thankfully, that situation has improved tremendously now – and electricity disappearing has reduced quite a bit …
Anyways, what was really cool today – was the experience of it all …
Allow me to get a bit philosophical (and a little kooky) while I try to explain what my experience was …
Before I get started, just a little background information …
Our house has two floors and each floor has its own UPS (inverter) backup which allows us to run a couple of tube lights and fans for 4 – 5 hours …
When initially the power went out, it was still bright outside – and everyone — in the optimistic anticipation that power would be restored soon (it generally does by around 6 P.M.) – spent the back up electricity running fans when they could actually do with some discomfort – in order to save the power up for later …
However, when the inverter beeped and let us know (at around 7 P.M.) that it was almost drained — and there were no signs of the power coming back, we cramped up into two rooms (from four initially) to save up on the remaining power …
After a while, when the inverter complained again, we were forced to move into the drawing room to further save up on power …
And we eventually had to switch from the single bright tube-light to the very dim, power saving lamp — when the inverter started beeping – notifying us of its final stages …
This is a pretty depressing feeling – knowing that you’re at the end of your line …
The inverter would give up any second now – and we’d have to spend the rest of the night in complete darkness …
At around 10:30 P.M., the inverter finally croaked. All of us gave up, switched off the lamp and went to bed.
A lot of work still had to be done.
Mail had to be replied to. Some coding was still left. My brother had to do his assignments and journals.
Everyone felt so helpless…
I somehow could relate to the movie “Children of Men” – in which there was no hope for mankind even at the peak of their civilization — when all the women become infertile.
(However, I related to it at a slightly different level)
At around 11, I crawled into bed – anticipating an extremely hot and humid night – with the guilt of leaving tonnes of work incomplete — that needed to be done by today.
Suddenly, just as all hope was exhausted, the inverter clicked – letting us know that power was back on.
Electricity was finally restored!!!
The street lamps outside — slowly came to a glow, televisions were switched on in the neighbourhood and the fans in my house started rotating again…
Suddenly, out of nowhere – I felt hope …
I don’t know how and why … but I felt everything was going to be alright …
Whatever the worries – at home, work, about the future, etc – I felt everything was going to be okay …
(This is the kooky part I was mentioning about)
I am not being an idiot by pinning my hopes on the state government – and every time they restore power – but on a more general phenomenon …
So many times in our lives, when we’re feeling down and out due to situations not within our control — something miraculously happens and everything is back to the way it is supposed to be…
Though this may not happen everytime – it does give us something to live for…
Perhaps this is something which makes humans – humans…
As ‘The Architect’ from the Matrix aptly put:

“Hope, it is the quintessential human delusion, simultaneously the source of your greatest strength, and your greatest weakness.”

Or as I would prefer to put it:

“Everything will be alright in the end. If it is not, its not the end!”

[ Min number of posts to go till Mar 17, 2008 : 77.]

You can't have your cake and eat it too …

If you really think about it, India is in a pretty mixed up place – economy wise …
We’re nowhere near a capitalist economy – nor are we entirely communist either …
We are somewhere in between …
I am talking about this because of late, there have been incidents in my life – caused by this aspect and I was wondering – whether a right balance could ever exist …

When I was returning from Proto a couple of weeks ago, I was to come to Mumbai by flight and then catch a bus from there to Pune. My flight was supposed to land at 10:40 PM – but it being Indian Airlines, it only landed sometime around 12:20 AM.
Luckily I had no checked in baggage and I was able to get out of the airport by 12:30.
I rushed to Dadar, and in my heart knew — that the last State transport bus would have long left and I would have to spend the night at the bus stop. I reached the bus stop at 1:00 AM.
Unbelievably – there was still a bus going to Pune (which I think would have probably been the last one).
It left with around 10 passengers (out of a capacity of 35 – 40) at 1:15 AM and albeit an extremely bumpy ride, I was home by 5:00 AM.
I secretly thanked the government for running such buses – even when there were hardly any passengers at such odd timings.

This is the other incident.

I live on the outskirts of Pune. As such, we have all the benefits which come with such a setting.
Clean, calm and pollution-free surroundings, lots of open spaces, etc. etc.
At around 10 kms – the main city isn’t too far either …
However, we also face the problems which come along with such a setting.
Namely, that of infrastructure — in this case, the internet.
The place where I live, there are no private players providing high speed internet services (or broadband).
This is primarily because not many people would go for it – so it does not make sense for these companies to lay fibre cabling all the way for a handful of subscribers.
The only one which does – is the government owned BSNL.
Until sometime ago – they had the monopoly in the telecommunication sector – and if you had a phone, it had to be from BSNL.
As a result, they have cables already setup – through which they provide the internet services.
The service though, leaves a lot to be desired – and the sorry fact is – being a government enterprise, no one gives a damn.
I’ve been having connection issues since eons (it works sporadically and mostly, only at nights) – but no one seems to be bothered. After about a hundred complaints, nothing comes of it.
I seriously have started believing that if anything needs to come of a government run agency, some palms eventually have to be greased. Haven’t tried that yet – but sadly, we’ll probably have to do it eventually.

So coming back to the issue.
Living in an entirely capitalist economy definitely has its merit. I honestly believe that the entire country progresses at a much, much faster rate as compared to living in a communist one.
People who are smart, talented or hard working get their just rewards – encouraging more people down that road, thus leading to faster growth of the entire nation.
(Monopolies are a negative – but then, thats just the way you look at them)
However, if we were actually in a completely capitalist economy, I would have spent the entire night at the bus stand and would still be on dial-up connection at home.
And if the government does step up and provide services like the state transport bus running at night or me getting my broadband at home (even though its on only half the time), am I right to demand good service — or should I just be grateful that I am getting such services in the first place and be happy with it?
The Indian consumer at large, I think, follows the latter ideology …
What do you people think?
(My connection went off and on 7 times while I wrote this post)
[ Min number of posts to go till Mar 17, 2008 : 79.]

The getting to places on time thing …

I am generally a pretty punctual guy (though results may vary sometimes)
I do get to places within a couple of minutes of the scheduled time – and then spend 30 minutes waiting for other people to show up …
All this waiting experience, has given me qualities of a saint and one thing I can do for eons is wait for people to show up …
Though it is absolutely frustrating sitting somewhere “alone” and looking like an idiot waiting for people to show up, I guess I have gotten used to it …
Some people from my college group of friends (you know who you are) are so often, so obnoxiously late that they believe that you would be stupid to expect them to be anywhere within 30 minutes of the scheduled time. (An exception to this is Mr. Mayank Tripathi who actually turns up much before the scheduled time)
After all these years and with the friends that God has gifted me, I have learnt that it is entirely stupid of me to actually get to the place “before” time – so I am trying to devise ways and prediction algorithms to get to the place “exactly” on time – give or take a few minutes.
(In my definition a few minutes = not more than 5)
So how do I do it you ask?
Well, what I am now going to share with you are years of careful observations and conclusions …
[Step 1]
First you figure out who are you going to meet and check whether these people have a history of being punctual. If yes, keep the scheduled time as it is.
If I am meeting my school friends (who are generally mostly on time), I add about 5 minutes.
If I am meeting my college group of friends, unless I have called one of the attendees up and made him solemnly swear to be on time – so that I can have company – I add about 20 minutes.
And when you are going to meet really important people, you MUST always be on time.
This has two benefits.
If the really important people are prospective clients or people you meet for business, there is nothing more pathetic than turning up late and wasting the other person’s time …
When the really important person is not a someone from the above category, it makes sense turning up on time because when she turns up later, you can make her feel guilty for having to make you wait for so long … ๐Ÿ™‚
[Step 2]
After you have properly selected your end goal time, you have to move backwards.
You first figure out how much time it would take you to get to that place given perfect roads, no traffic and no signals.
Then you add all factors in …
[Step 3]
If you are going to face bad traffic, add that much time to it.
Other things to consider:

  • Time of day (early mornings and late nights have less traffic and all signals are turned off).
  • Bad and potholed roads (reduction in speed of travel)
  • Whether you will be riding with a pillion (can’t drive like a maniac then)
  • Whether there are some excruciatingly long signals on the way
  • The vehicle you are traveling in (cars take 50% more time than bikes in traffic)
  • etc etc

[Step 4]
Once you have considered all these points, and gotten the estimated time of travel, you have to start calculating the time it will take you to get ready and leave the house.
Other factors that come into play in this scenario are whether you will be alone at home while leaving – because in that case locking all the doors and gates would throw in an additional 5 minutes before you can get out …
Putting all these steps into use (1-4) you will come across a time at which you have to stop doing whatever you were and start getting ready.
I shall explain with an example:
Say I need to meet school friends at 6:30 for coffee in Camp which is about 9 kms from my place.
Mode of travel – bike.
[Step 1] – Umm … I guess I could reach on time (some of the guys come on time) – so 6:30 it is.
If I was meeting college friends, this would slip to 6:50 (You get the workings …)
[Step 2] – Perfect roads, it takes me 15 mins to get there on bike.
[Step 3] – Adding the time of day, signals, bad roads and traffic, it would take me 8 mins more.
[Step 4] – Time to leave the chair and get ready to leave in the evening – about 10 mins.
No body at home – so have to lock up – 5 mins more.
Putting it to a total of 15+8+15 = 38 minutes to get to the place from my chair.
Rounded off to 40 minutes.
So, I gotta stop doing whatever I was and start getting ready at about 5:50 in order to make the appointment on time.
So there! Now you know …
I hope this extremely nerdy, though very insightful article will inspire some of you to get to places – more on time. (Yeah! You know who you are! Don’t make me spell it out)
[ Min number of posts to go till Mar 17, 2008 : 84.]

Being emotional versus being logical …

I’ve wondered about this a lot lately …
Human beings are logical creatures (when they are in the right frame of mind) …
Very, very logical creatures …
And I feel (out of a lot of personal experiences), that any problem can be solved and worked out by being completely logical about it, thinking in a clear and concise manner.
Keeping emotions out of the equation …
Emotions – always get in the way of things …
But that cannot really be helped, can it? Human beings are also very emotional creatures …
Sometimes, you take drastic steps – by just being emotional about the whole episode – without thinking things through – and later are happy about the fact that you did.
On some contemplation, you will realize, that you would have not taken those steps if you had sat and thought about the situation in a logical manner.
Which brings us to an interesting juncture – what is the right mix of logic and emotion that needs to go in making an important decision …
This can actually be a dumb point, because when you’re highly charged about and emotional about something – you’re probably not thinking straight about it – no logic.
Whereas in many situations, if you actually sit and think about something through, the charged up feeling and emotions have probably drained off …
I can probably enunciate with a couple of situations where this dilemma may arise …

Say you’re at work – and have probably been wronged in someway.
Maybe you got passed off for the promotion you were expecting, or probably someone (your boss) insulted you etc. etc. – and you’re in a rage.
Very charged up, very emotional – you probably want to quit right then and there – throw your resignation on the guy’s face and walk out of there …
Maybe its a stupid thing to do – and maybe you’ll regret it later. But you want to do it.
You’ll probably regret NOT doing it at all …
Thats the defining moment …
If you take the plunge, you will probably be happy at the fact that you served just desserts.
You’re ego will definitely have jumped a couple of notches …
However, once you start thinking about it, you probably will NOT do it.
Maybe you will feel guilty of being tame and afraid of a confrontation. Things will probably go on as they were – without much change.
So, what would probably be a correct alternative to take?
I know I am generalizing this thing to a great deal and it depends from person to person … But still, what according to a third party watching the proceedings, would be the right thing to do?
Listening to your heart or to your mind?

Another completely different situation can be as such …

Say you like somebody a lot and want to ask him / her out.
You are pretty much at a point in which you cannot help but think about this person a lot.
Pure logic would suggest that you talk to the person concerned and find out whether he / she feels the same.
If they do, awesome. Otherwise, you will know for sure and you can move on.
When emotion kicks into the scene, things get pretty messed up.
You don’t know whether you should ask, whether its the right thing to do, whether you will mess up his / her life, whether you will mess up your life, whether you will still be able to be friends, (and lots of such whether questions).

As Dennis Hopper would say (from Speed): What do you do Jack? What – do – you – do?

It is a very interesting situation actually – and probably millions of people find themselves in it every day of the year.
Basically, I feel – the underlying principal in all such scenarios is “change” – and how much people are afraid of it.
Or maybe, I am just generalizing again and may be completely off the topic.
If you read the book “Who Moved My Cheese” – there is an interesting question:

“What would you do if you were not afraid?”

I think the answer to this probably would help a bit in such situations …

Umm … How bout a few billions?

This post comes as a result of some musing after watching the movie – Notting Hill recently.
Apart from being an extremely well made, highly entertaining romantic comedy which I thoroughly enjoyed – an incident from the movie struck me …
If you have seen the film, it’s at the dinner (William’s (Hugh Grant’s) sister’s birthday party) at which Bernie (Hugh Bonneville) asks Anna (Julia Roberts) how much she made in the last film she worked – and she says “15 million dollars”.
Hmm …
So I pondered …
How did it all start? I mean – how did movie stars start getting paid so much.
If you think about it, every job comes with an upper and lower limits of payment – which are pretty much well defined for a period of time.
Like, for example, it is an accepted fact that most of the bigger movie stars make millions of dollars for a film. If you think about this a bit more – you can say that this is justified as the distributors of the film eventually rake in enough money which justifies them being able to pay their actors.
This finally brings us to how much we end up paying for a movie ticket.
Here in Pune – a night show in a decent enough hall costs anywhere from 150 bucks – 200 bucks ($3 – $4) a ticket which even though is kinda on the higher side by Indian standards – I don’t think people seem to mind paying it nowadays (by the number of shows running housefull even on weekdays).
And finally again, people don’t seem to mind because the standards of living have gone up.
So indirectly, the more money we tend to make, the more money those actors tend to make :).
I know this is a dumb metaphor – but there is a definitely connection there (I can sense it :)).
In the end if you think about it, (even though I haven’t got the faintest idea about acting) – does it warrant a sum of 15 million dollars to be paid for a film?
I will consider the next case – that of a software developer which I can more relate to.
Again, in India – it is a well known fact that software developers (or Computer Science / Engineering graduates) tend to make more money than most of the other faculties when they start off.
Even further down the line (couple of years), a software developer is likely to make more money than a similarly skilled mechanical engineer working in an automobile company.
And if you think about it – all software developers do is sit in front of a monitor all day long and type code. You don’t actually need to be a genius to do it – just about any human being with a normal level of IQ and will power can do it.
Furthermore, in most of the projects – major parts of the code which you need, can be found somewhere on the internet by careful searching – which makes it more of a jigsaw puzzle assembling job than actual, smart work.
So what do software developers do – which results in them getting higher salaries, air conditioned offices and the like?
Where did all this trend start?
And how do we go about accelerating it … ? ๐Ÿ™‚

Does cheering actually help?

We’re having a table tennis tourney going on in the company with lots of people participating in both the singles and doubles matches.
This is directly proportional to the reduction in the amount of work done by the people – those who are participating and those who come to watch the matches and cheer their friends.
In table tennis, unlike outdoor sports, you are not allowed to cheer / jeer while the game is in progress. Therefore, except the occasional “wooos” and “ahhs”, there is nothing going on during the game play.
However, when a point is won, people do come out and encourage their friends.
The more popular you are, the more support you have during the games.
However, even though we are a very small company (the numbers in the range of 40 – 50), we do not know everyone well.
It’s more or less like a typical office.
You have a few close chums, some people good friends and others acquaintances whom you share a very casual greeting relationship.
Anyways, the point I am trying to make here is that you don’t know everyone decently well.
During one of the matches in which a friend of mine was playing, it got pretty close – even though she had just learned to play recently and the other guy played decently, but looked somewhat nervous.
At that point, I wondered, that if we all got behind our friend and cheered her (she had more support definitely), it would break the other guy down and she might win the last round – and thus the game.
However, the cheering actually never happened and thus we will never know – but this sparked a debate between me and my team mate whether cheering actually makes any difference.
I was of the opinion that it always definitely helps and he was of the opinion that it doesn’t – and sometimes even is detrimental to the player.
After countless minutes of debate, we finally agreed on two points – which I definitely feel does not do complete justice to the entire topic of “Does cheering actually help?”
One point was thus:

I’d like to refer to my previous post here “That moment of giving up” in which my boxer friend told me that he gives up sometimes when he’s fighting it out in a god forsaken place where no one cares about the result of the game – he wonders whether getting all beat is really worth it.
Thus, the point here is – that when you are down by a few points, having no support whatsoever, makes you wonder whether it is worth it – and you end up not fighting back as best as you could.
On the other hand, if you have people behind you egging you on – no matter what the result, you atleast fight till the end – which is a good thing!

The other point made was:

This takes the case of Indian cricketers who enjoy the status of demi-gods in the country.
Many of them comment that playing a game in India, draws huge crowds, and thus an awesome support which can create quite a lot of pressure to perform. Many players feel that they enjoy and play a more natural game when they are abroad as they don’t feel the heat of the pressure the crowds bring in. So in this case, all the cheering and support is a bad thing.

So, in what conditions is cheering a good thing or a bad thing?
Is it always good? Always bad?
Does it always depend on the individual in question? Does it depend on the way the crowd is cheering you?
Do players who are trying to be something they are not, fear the pressure that crowd support brings? And do underdog players thrive on cheering and perform that extra bit because of it?
A very open ended debate and I’d really like to hear your thoughts on it!

That moment of giving up …

I was watching the Australia, West Indies match tonight in which West Indies actually pulled a surprise when it beat Australia.
I was favouring Australia to win till the last minutes of the match, when the wicket of Clarke fell and I knew then, that the Aussies had given up on the match.
It’s a very funny feeling this … giving up on something.
Knowing that no matter what you try, what you do, you aren’t going to make it.
The thought of it is actually very depressing – who would ever want to give up on someone or something that they want real bad, but life is ruthless and more often than you’d like, you end up ‘giving up’ on the thing that you were chasing.
I have faced this situation a lot while playing basketball back in school and junior college.
We had one of the best teams while in school and we lost very rarely, so I was not hit by this feeling that often.
However, once we moved into junior college, people went in different directions, our team shrunk, and the 10 good players who’d play the 40 minutes shrunk to 4 or 5.
More often than not, we’d lose closely contested games in the dying minutes due to the sheer exhaustion that we’d experience towards the end of playing time.
I am guilty of giving up on many occasions, but all of them, as much as I can remember were due to physical (and fitness) reasons.
The series of events would be such …
You’ve been playing for 35 minutes continuously and you don’t have the stamina you had back in school. You are barely just able to run.
The other team is leading by 2 points. There are 5 minutes left in the game and you can easily win it.
At precisely this time, some random guy from the other team comes around, takes a three and makes it. Your heart sinks with the ball and you trail by 5 points now.
You are completely exhausted, panting, and want nothing more than to crash on the ground and lie there for eternity.
You are pushing yourself to run all the way across court to get in position for the pass. Somehow your team loses the ball, the opponents are on a fast break and you are chasing them.
At precisely this moment, a couple of thoughts will flash in your mind.
1. That you can’t take this anymore and you are going to die soon.
2. That this is just a game … is it really worth it?
I think the entire game turns around depending on the answer each player gives himself.
If everyone (or the majority) push themselves harder, your chances of winning increase a lot. Any rational person would definitely say that people need to push themselves … and stick with it รขโ‚ฌโ€œ giving themselves a good chance.
However, nothing seems rational at that particular point of time. When you can hear your heartbeats distinctively, but not the voices of those around you nor the crowds cheering insanely.
More often than not, people give in … and the rest is history!
I was speaking to a friend of mine who recently took up boxing and did exceptionally well at it (he represented the state in his first tournament).
I asked him what made him give up sometimes, while he was boxing.
He thought for a while and said that boxing is a very tiring sport (and painful and very risky too). So while you are out there, fighting this random guy from another never heard of city, in some small town where nobody cares, you come to a point where you ask yourself whether it is worth it …
And there you get your answer …
I feel the trick here is to postpone the “Is it worth it” question as much as possible …
Every human being has a break-in point – and so, everyone can be broken … the question is to find that point and somehow avoid, postpone or hasten it depending on which side you are on.
Anyways, experience tells me that once you give up, there is no way even a miracle can save you … What I’d really like to know is why people give up in other life scenarios and what drives them to it …