Sunday, February 16, 2020

I turn 40 today. Sharing 20 facts in my life and 20 opinions based on my experiences.

Today (16th Feb 2020), I turn 40 years. I am sharing 20 Facts about me and 20 opinions I have about several issues. This is a summary of my learnings in last 40 years. 

Disclaimer: This blog post is completely my personal view and there is nothing official about it. Your views might differ, and I respect that.

A. Facts 

1. Birth date confusion 

I was born on 16th Feb 1980 at my Village Bhatotar, Purnia, Bihar. While applying for my 10th board exam, which happened in March 1995, Due to some minimum age requirement suggested, my certificate b’day was changed to 5th April 1980. So officially, I am still 39, but I celebrate my B'day on 16th Feb. 

2. Hostel, Hostel and Hostel

My both parents were middle school teachers and we were 3 siblings (Myself and two sisters). I got admitted to residential school when I was in class 3. I used to do most of the daily chores myself at the age of 8. My mother was teacher in same school, so it was not much of a problem. In class 8, I got admitted to a small city school (and hostel).. and after completing my 10th, I came to capital city, Patna for my 12th and apart from a brief time staying with uncle’s family, I stayed alone in hostels and then for engineering I stayed in hostel and then till I got married, I stayed away from parents/family.

3. School education

I used to be topper in my village school till class 7, then in my high school, I used to be in top 5 students. I passed my 10th with 56% marks (Only two students got above 60%, Bihar board was infamous in awarding lower marks). With some connection’s help, I got admission in good college in Patna (College of commerce) and I did 12th (In 1997) with 60% (Yes, I got First division!)

4. Typhoid is bad! 

I used to be a hard working student and apart from college, I used to attend coaching (Premier coaching, B.M. Das road) and was doing good. In August 1996, there was a competition (by a IIT coaching institute) in which I secured 3rd rank and due to that my fees (6000 Rs) was free. I started preparing for IIT. It was 8 hours class daily and some college work. I was doing good in coaching and teachers used to say, I will crack IIT for sure.. then in October I got Serious typhoid. My parents had to come to Patna to bring me home and I was bed rest for 1 month. Was rarely studying. I forgot many things and I had my 12th board exam in few months. I stopped the coaching and started preparing for 12th. I managed to get 1st division!

5. Missed opportunity

In 1998, I wrote several engineering entrance tests like IIT, Roorkee, Bihar combined engineering and UP engineering.. I qualified for UP engineering with rank 2400+ and I had counselling in Lucknow.. I took money from parents to go for counselling and everyone around me knew that I have gone to attend the counselling, but I went to my friend’s home in Patna itself and stayed hidden for 3 days and then came back to hostel and lied to everyone that I didn’t get a good college. Though, If I would have gone, I should have got average college for sure. I lost 3 years of my life because of this decision. I was thinking, I will get into IIT or Roorkee only.

6. Engineering college 

In those days, there was no engineer in my relatives and knowns, and the culture of bihar was such that, wasting years for preparing to get into engineering/medical was not such a bad thing and there were students, who kept on trying for upto 5-6 years also. Anyways, I didn’t qualify in 1999 also. My family started to get worried and in order to have a backup, I took admission in B.Sc (Physics honours) in Magadh University (RKD college) in 1999. In parallel, I was still preparing for IIT. In 2000, IIT and Roorkee changed the testing pattern, and there was a screening test first, in which they will select 15000 candidates and then there will be main exam, in which final ~3000 students will get selected. At that time, there used to be only 5 IITs and Roorkee used to conduct its own entrance. IIT Screening test was on 2nd Jan 2000 and once I came out of exam hall, I had told my friends, I am going to be selected for sure and I did. Same in Roorkee. I had got good hold on Physics and Maths, but my chemistry was weak and because of chemistry, I was not qualified in Mains. In 2000, I was qualified in UP engineering, M.P engineering [I had not applied for south India yet, I had not even thought to go so far], but people motivated me to try one more year for IIT.. I did start again .. But I got into some bad company of people and almost stopped studying.. and an year passed.. In the meantime, I had passed 1st year of B.Sc and I was in 2nd year. In 2001, I didn’t qualify for IIT or Roorkee screening also. Later in April 2001, one of my friend forced me to apply for Karnataka engineering (CET), which was considered easy. I did qualify for CET Karnataka with low rank (5500+) and I took admission in Vijaynagar engineerings college, Bellary, Karnataka in Electronics and Communication Engineering. This was 2500 KM away from my home. 

7. Something unreal 

I got 68% marks in 1st semester (my rank might be 50+ in my branch) and I was kind of careless, watching several movies, wasting time whole day.. bunking classes. I got serious scoldings from Papa.. but I didn’t change.. On 13th March 2002, something happened .. I felt someone (like God) came in front of me and told, you can do better.. Focus. Be good to everyone and somehow I got these 3 words imprinted in my mind “Spread Unconditional Love”.. My attitude changed in a moment.. I stopped going to movie (Took a oath, that I will not watch movie, will not play cards during semesters, later I stopped drinking Tea, Coffee and Cold drinks also).. All my friends went to Goa, but I didn’t.. and focussed on studies and result came .. I got 82% marks in second semester and I got 84% in 3rd (I was not only branch topper, but the college topper), 85% in 4th semester and so on.. Overall I got 81.3% (Average of 8 semester).. 10th June 2005 was my final year project test and my project demo didn’t work, and my team was scared that, we might fail, but there was a twist..Our project (Password protected CPLD based Switch) was liked so much by my department that, a day before, there was a demo planned by department for all students, where me and my team gave presentation and demo, and it was all video recorded. My respected guide, showed the video to the external examiner and somehow we were passed. No one left the college on 10th June except me. Everyone wanted to enjoy for few days before they start their job hunting. I left Bellary the same day to Bangalore (We were already staying in Bangalore for our project work) and on 11th, first thing I did was that, I took admission in NIIT Vijaynagar for Application development using Java/J2EE/SQL. 

8. My first job

I had written detailed blog on how I got my first job here. In short, it was tough, very very tough for me to get a job. Gap in education, Communication skill, not from a famous college, Being from electronics branch and project done in hardware side etc were primary reasons for my struggle to find the job.

9. Job hops

In Afila, I used to write C, TCL, Expect code to test network protocols. I was average performer.  Lot of parties, fun activities used to be there, but I was not feeling very happy about myself. I was looking for better companies, but I was getting into same trap as fresher. I kept on trying, and finally I got a job (Well paying!) in Novell after 1 year at Afila. I had 2 other offers, but Novell used to be dream company. Employee perks were awesome. Free food, free transport and several other things.. For the new comers, Novell’s Netware was the first network operating system and also IPX protocol was developed by Novell. People say, Windows NT was heavily influenced by Netware. In 1990s, Novell used to be comparable with Microsoft. The culture of Novell was great. Most of the parties used to be with family and strictly no alcohol. Work was decent. I used to do Load and Performance testing for identity management products. I used to be part of fun committee in Afila (More team) as well as Novell (Had organised several team outings including trip to Masinagudi). I was happy at Novell. But, after 4 years, there were some changes in company (It got acquired by Attachmate), and I got a call from Oracle (I had not applied though) and then I joined Oracle in 2011.

10. Marriage

It was an arranged marriage (For non-Indians: When a guy can not find a girl himself for marriage, his parents finds out one! I think, this facility is available only in Indian Subcontinent). Sharing one fun story - In our culture, Its not common to have engagement (Now trends are changing though). So by March 2010, marriage date was decided as 28th June 2010. I was in Bangalore and my spouse used to study her PGDM (in Human Resource) at Bhubaneswar, Odisha. I planned to surprise her, so I went to Bhubaneswar and informed her (once I reached Bhubaneswar on 8th May 2010 late evening) that, I will come to meet you tomorrow morning. She thought I am lying. On 9th May, 2010, I booked a car for whole day, went to her hostel, had breakfast in some hotel and then went to Nandankanan zoo, had lunch and then asked her to call all her friends for a treat at Cafe coffee day. My cousin used to stay in Bhubaneshwar and he along with his 4-5 friends had already booked half of Cafe coffee day, A cake, and I had purchased a ring for her and I had received a ring from her family (Reuse!) , Baloons etc.. She had no idea what’s plan..  
In the meantime, I called my Sister-in-law (Bhabhee ji, Wife of my cousin brother) and in discussion, she asked how is Arti.. I said, let me make a conference call to Arti, you can also talk .. and in reality, we were together talking on same phone, but acted like we are on conference call. 
In CCD, her 12-13 friends came and there I announced that, we will have engagement now.. We exchanged rings.. It became late evening and her hostel warden was not allowing to get inside, then I talked to the warden saying we are getting married and then she let her in.. So we got engaged like this. Till our marriage, no one in our family knew this. 

11. Kids

My son Akarsh Keshav was born on 24th August 2011 and Daughter Arshita Arghya was born on 25th October 2017.
There is interesting reason behind both my Kid’s surname. Akarsh was born during Krishna Janmashtmi, hence the surname Keshav (I had made a video of Akarsh when he was between 0-1 year). Akarsh is interested in Rubik’s cube. One of his rubik's video is here.
Arshita was born during Chhath festival (Celebrated by Biharis across India and world wherever they are), and the most auspicious thing in this festival is to give Arghya to Sun God, hence the surname Arghya. I had made a video for Arshita (Till her ~2 years)

12. Life in Oracle

Before joining Oracle, I had asked my would be manager that, can you please let me know the future plans for this product “Oracle Beehive”, in which I was going to work. In fact, before joining Oracle, I installed (It was complex install) and used Beehive to asses, if this will be a good move. In fact, I had another offer, who was paying more than Oracle, office was closer to my home compared to Oracle and 90% of my friend and family wanted me to join that company (It was McAfee, already acquired by Intel by then), but considering the product and their scope and Oracle brand, I joined Oracle. And I was happily testing Beehive... 
One fine evening (after 2 months), there was a meeting and project Beehive was put in cold store and in the meeting, it was told that, you will get to know what happens to you tomorrow.. It was a tough night.. barely slept.. Next day, came to know, Oracle has got a Cloud strategy and some of my team members will move to that team.. This was great news for me.. I was part of a central component whose work was to orchestrate the cloud subscription, order management etc..I was new to Cloud computing and it was a great learning experience. Used mostly Perl and Java. 

13. Joining Microsoft

One fine day in Feb 2014, I got a call from Microsoft HR (I had not applied as such, they got my contact from which had older resume!) for a telephonic interview next day. I said, that I am not prepared and I can not take a chance with opportunity at Microsoft, so I need 2 weeks time for preparation, if I may get? HR said, fine. He confirmed in email that you will get interview call after 2 weeks and I did get the interview. I was in Bangalore and I got telephonic interview call from Microsoft, Hyderabad on 26th Feb. Same day HR called me and said, you need to come to Hyderabad for interview. Can you come on Friday 28th? We will send you flight tickets etc.. I had said, I am bit occupied with work and can we have that over the weekend.. I got flight ticket for Saturday, 1st march afternoon ~3PM. I missed my lunch somehow, so when I boarded the plane, I was feeling hungry. I saw the price in menu and decided, its costly, so I will eat in Hyderabad itself.. But, after few mins, air hostess came and asked, what would you like to have sir? I said, no I don’t want. She smiled and said, its included in your ticket.. Any snack and any drink! Wow, Microsoft was winning me..  When I got down at Hyderabad airport, there was a driver holding my name’s placard.. I had never seen my name in placard (And after that, I never saw till today).. Driver took me to Jubilee ridge hotel where everything was free for me! Those who know me, knows that I am a foodie.. But believe me, I ate very less thinking, I should not get ill tomorrow and I had to revise few things before I sleep.. :) 
Next day morning, there was a cab arranged for me to Microsoft office. I interacted with the Cab driver, and he wished me good luck for the interview. First round was coding round - I did it. Second round was coding round - I did mistakes, but corrected and finally was able to get to the expected result. 3rd and final round on that day was by a senior manager. He asked few testing question and few puzzle type question. One coding question and then final question was, why should we hire you? I said, because of two reasons 1. I will get the things done - what ever it is and whatever it takes. 2. I ask questions - lots of questions, which will make the product better. I told him about how I asked 2 weeks time for preparation, and how I disabled my Facebook to focus on preparation. HR didn’t tell me clearly whether I am selected or no, and I came to Bangalore same evening. I was positive. Next day, HR informed me that, there will be one more telephonic round, and it happened.. A very senior person interviewed (Grilled) me on psychological questions only.. It was easiest round for me, as I was honest.. my conscience was clear. I was offered on 7th March.
As always, there was a twist! In the mean time, I did attend a day-long interview process at SAP labs, Bangalore and there was another day few more rounds, and I was offered before Microsoft had offered. It was clear to me that, I will join Microsoft, hence within few days, I informed SAP HR (and Hiring manager) via email. I didn’t hold both the offers and SAP HR though unhappy, was appreciative. Hiring manager called me and asked the reason, I said, I have got another offer where I will join. He asked me where — after a bit of hesitation, I said its Microsoft. Funny enough, He said, I came a month back from Microsoft only.. Let me know if you need any help in finding house in Hyderabad :) 
Onboarding at Microsoft was very smooth.. They had arranged packers and movers (who will keep the stuffs for a month in warehouse in Hyderabad), Flight, Hotel for a month and a daily (Including weekend) cab with driver for a month. 
I was supposed to go to office for 1st day on 14th April 2014 from hotel. While having breakfast, my son touched a fancy light, which broke (Yes, this happens with me only!) and in order to manage that with waiters, I was getting delayed.. But the hotel manager intervened and said, no need to pay for this (Not sure, but it might be ~5000 Rs).. You will not believe this.. This happens in films only - The cab driver was same as who took me from Jubilee ridge hotel to Microsoft for interview .. He didn’t recognise me, but I did.. I thanked him for his wishes .. I was late for first ever onboarding training! Later in the day, I got a call from Microsoft onboarding support team, asking if my son was hurt .. and said, you need not worry about the damage.. We have taken care.. Wow.. every weekend, we used to roam around Hyderabad for finding house or seeing places. 

14. Leaving Microsoft

In 2016 July, my designation SDET-2 was changed to Software engineer -2 (In fact, entire engineering organisation was made hybrid engineering, so every one was developer as well as tester as well as customer support).. But my work remained similar, though with more focus on test automation and involvement in customer issues. Some of the testing was getting done by Vendor companies like TCS, Wipro etc.. I used to lead testing effort for Enterprise Sales and SMB Sales. I was considered a high performing lead. Me and my 7 member team had raised 2000 bugs in 10 months :). In parallel, I started learning development skills.. I gave interview internally to become developer in July 2017, but I was not selected.. Later tried again in December 2017 and I was selected this time and from Feb 1, 2018, I joined another development team. There my role was to fix bugs, and resolve customer issues. I did fix few bugs and I did resolve several customer issues (ICMs).. but the pace of my resolution was slow compared to others.. and in July - August timeframe, I was told that, my skills are not matching and I am struggling.. hence it would be better if I look for a job outside.. They said, they will reduce the work load so that I can focus on job search.. Even I realised after initial setback, that, they are right. Considering my seniority level, I was not matching up with similar experienced developers. So while searching for the job, I was looking for QA/Automation role only. Most of the people close to me knew about this issue and were helping and motivating. There were few, who demotivated me as well - saying at the experience of 13 years, who needs testers, No company will be able to match up the salary of Microsoft, hence no one will even call you for interview.. why don’t you try something else? I was broken for few days.. My family and close friends stood behind me as a rock.. Coming from a family where most of them were govt. employee, it was a shock to them.. But I knew, I can pull it off.. Time is the only thing.. And the demotivating people were kind of right.. It was tough to get interview calls.. and whoever was calling, when asked about my salary, they used to not call again.. :) But slowly I started getting calls.. Some of the calls were because of friend’s referral.. I gave 10+ interviews, but was not getting through.. I came very close in Amazon (7 rounds spanning across 4 days) and VMware (4 rounds), but was unsuccessful again.
Then came an interview call from a company from Noida (I am not taking the name, but I am indebted to them for life)..In the first screening round, on the question of why do you want to leave Microsoft, I said everything honestly.. and I was later called for interview in Noida. They had arranged a hotel stay a night before.. Had a grilling interview (5 rounds).. Interview was over by 6PM and I had the flight at 8.30 PM.. and it was a Cab strike.. People there helped me a lot to reach the airport by 8.10 PM. Anyways, they offered me.. and they gave decent hike (Yes! They not only matched Microsoft salary, but gave more than that!) .. I was getting interviewed by another company in Hyderabad (With the help of my previous company's senior’s referral) and I got the offer from that company as well. But I informed 2nd company that, I will not be able to join (Have no words to thank my senior who helped me and the company). 
I was all set to join in Noida (Considering, my home, Bihar, is closer to Noida - I had a mixed feeling). I was enquiring about schools, house etc in Noida.. Only thing bothering me was that I had to keep my Hyderabad flat on rent and secondly both me and my son are asthmatic, and the pollution level in NCR is bad. Based on Noida company, I had already resigned in Microsoft and 17th December was my joining date at Noida. But as always, there was a twist.. I got a call from Salesforce.. It was a half day interview process.. and after few days, I was offered. I informed Noida company immediately. They felt bad..I kind of cheated them, but only thing positive in this episode, which they will also agree is, I didn’t delay it and in fact my joining was still 2 weeks away. So Microsoft episode ended with positive note. On the last days, there were team outings, cake cutting and farewell as usual like how people resign.. It was a mixed feeling.. Microsoft gave me a lot. Thats a great company with great culture and values. 

15. Life at Salesforce

Salesforce is a different company. It’s different than most of my previous companies. Its so open culture.. There is no cabins.. everyone is equal.. Entire Salesforce’s vision and goal per year is shared to everyone using V2MOM (Vision, Values, Methods, Obstacles and Measures).. So company has a V2MOM, which trickles down with specific details at each level and finally the individual contributor needs to write specific objectives with measures clearly defined and everyone’s V2MOM is visible to everyone .. This is so unique.. Secondly, there is strong focus on employee’s morale and health.. My higher management said to team that, if I see anyone working late, you will get negative points in appraisals.. Ever heard that? One of my very senior executive said in a team meeting that, we should try our best to deliver in time, but if team feels even in last moment that quality is not good, lets hold that feature..It’s ok to catch the next release vehicle. Trust is the number one value at Salesforce.. Thirdly, company’s focus on giving back to society. Our 1-1-1 model is unique ( 1% employee Time: everyone gets 7 paid leave for volunteering activity and its kind of negative thing if employees do not spend 7 days volunteering! - 1% Product licenses to nonprofits and 1% revenue to community).
Apart from these there are several things which makes this company so loved by its employees and its customers.
I am happy here. My current role is primarily do two things 1. Product quality champion (Making sure that product works as expected) and 2. Customer advocacy (Even though a product works, but will customer like it? Will customer feel the usage is simple? Will customer be able to integrate with existing solutions?). 

16. What if I die suddenly? 

In October 2019, I decided to decrease my weight with very strict diet. For 2 months, I used to eat only Salad in lunch, was not eating sweets and used to have light or no dinner and I had lost ~4 Kgs (Still I was overweight) and was determined to lose ~10 kg in next 6 months. I was going to gym almost daily. I was feeling good about my health, but my life and no twist! How can that happen.. 

On 5th Jan 2020, I had non-veg in lunch around evening time. It was bit spicy, so by evening, I was feeling uncomfortable in stomach. I thought, drinking Eno will solve the problem.. But no.. It didn’t.. Stomachache kept on increasing.. It became unbearable by midnight.. I was literally crying in pain.. My wife was trying all sorts of home made medicines but nothing worked.. At 2 AM, I said I am going to hospital. My wife wanted to come with me, but having two small kids sleeping it was difficult. She called up a friend, but I disconnected the call in few rings saying why to disturb others. Doctor will give some pain killer and I will be back in few hours.. I drove to the hospital.. Doctors in emergency started with pain killers, antacids etc.. By 6AM, they tried several medicines, but none worked. Then one of my friend was informed, and he came to hospital. Several blood tests, Ultrasound, CT scan, X-ray happened and doctors concluded that, I have a 20 mm stone in my Gall bladder and it should be operated immediately (Removal of Gall bladder). In the meantime, some of my colleagues also came to hospital. I called my brother-in-law. He had to leave an important official engagement at Delhi. He thought to have a second opinion from other hospital..we were about to drop the plan of operation immediately (Pain had subsided by then).. There is an important point I wanted to make here, hence gave the details. My brother-in-law met the main surgeon and asked, is there a problem, if we operate after few days, by then we would like to take a second opinion? Doctor said that “He might die”. From my limited understanding of medical science, I don’t think people die from gall bladder stone pain, but in rare case, someone might die. Just imagine, If I had already died? I have not even shared all my financial details to my wife yet..What would have happened to my ambitions, my career, my family… Ya its exaggerated, but that was one possibility. So my brother-in-law agreed to have the operation (he asked to me, and I was not in favour to go to other hospital, as there again all the tests will be done and I was confident that there also doctor will suggest the same thing)..So I was operated under general anaesthesia on 7th afternoon, and I left the hospital by 8th evening. It costed ~1.4 Lacs for 2 days though company sponsored insurance paid the entire amount. So that was a big relief. 
My office said me to take rest as long as I want. No conditions applied. After a week, I worked from home for a week and there after I joined the office. Doctor has suggested to not eat oily and spicy food [I used to eat lot of spicy food, especially non-veg] .. Also, I can start gym after 2 months.. I have gained back the lost 4 kg and likely to gain some more.. But I will work on this from March. 

17. Travel outside India

No. I have never been outside India. Not even Nepal, which is 3 hours journey from my home. I was supposed to travel to US once in 2008 from Novell, for its yearly BrainShare event. I had got company sponsored B1 Visa (I had travelled to Chennai for Visa Interview), which was valid till 2018, but due to recession, BrainShare was scaled down and my travel plans were cancelled. I wish to travel to Europe sometime when my kids grow up a bit. 

18. Education after B.E

I did my M.S (Computer science) in weekend executive program by Manipal University in 2011-13 batch. So, I am alumni of same university as CEO of Microsoft, Mr. Satya Nadella :) Doing Ph.D is in my wish list, But has not got time, and sufficient motivation to do the same. I had written a blog comparing executive M.S course of Manipal university and BITS Pilani here
Note that, this executive course by Manipal university was stopped after 2014 or 2015 due to some changes in UGC rules. 

19. What delights me

When I hear Music (Not very loud music), watching group dance (Synchronised ones), Seeing happiness on the face of family, Getting the work completed, Getting appreciation, Watching laughing people (Uncontrollable laughters, real laughters), Learning something new, Driving car on highways, Able to help others, Making others smile, Salary hike, Playing cards with friends.. There are 100s of things.. little ones.. 

20. What pains me

People who behave badly with people below their financial status or junior in their domain - One thing everyone knows that they are not indispensable, still they feel and behave as if they are entitled for something forever. Your life itself can go in a minute, forget about you designation, money and status... People fighting on superficial things like religion, region, caste and other things. Thought that people close to me will leave me one day..

B. My Opinions 

21. Spread unconditional love

It is the ultimate route to absolute happiness - I know this, but unable to practice myself. I get selfish. I get worried about self and close people around. Trying to be as less selfish as possible. I believe, every one has their focus area and territory defined for helping and caring.. some people keep on growing that territory.. People like Swamy Vivekananda or Mother Teressa makes the entire world as their territory and people like me keeps on having a smaller territory.. I wish and pray to one-god give me (and us) strength and willingness to help everyone.

22. My views on Religion

Religion was created for better management and making sure people follow certain best practices. It's like how different country and states were created same way different religion were created. Having said that, I believe in One God.. that there is some force (Which most likely does not have any Shape) similar to gravitational force, which is not known to human yet. Like 500 years ago, people were not knowing that there is a gravitational force, similarly people are not yet aware about this God-Force.. There is something which is making life possible. Heart beating .. running the universe.. Making us feel better when we meet family, making us feel sad when someone else suffers.. For now, I can call God as Humanity, though God-Force might be bigger than humanity..

Luck? yes, I believe in luck.. Actually, its mathematical probably like tossing a coin. It is possible that you toss the coin 10 times, and every time head comes. This luck/probability depends on several environmental factors. Say you practiced few questions y'day and the same was asked in interview, so you got lucky. Though luck can play only a part (Fortune favours the brave). As this is probability, it can range between 0 to 1. 0 means unlucky and 1 means pure luck :).

I would like to follow the process defined in my birth religion with equal respect to all other religion. I believe in process of my religion.. Its like joining a company and following their process honestly.. and we should be flexible to change the process based on newer facts and experiences.. Few things, I do even though I don’t believe in that.. for example, Process of touching feet of elders - I like it and believe, its a way to show respect.. whereas, killing animals on the name of god, I don’t believe in that but still I do participate in that in order to respect the tradition.. But if my religion will have a process to trouble other humans, I would like that process to change! (No religion teaches that in my knowledge.)

23. Reservation and casteism

It would have been better that there was only only one religion in world.. But we have few. Now inside my religion, there are 100s of division on the name of Caste. Though, we have come a long way and there is very less discrimination based on caste (Any form of discrimination should be a punishable offence), but there is reverse discrimination using reservation. It has become catch 22 situation. People want to remove the casteism, but do not want to leave the benefits of reservation. I never discriminated with anyone based on caste, but I was discriminated because of my caste. Here is how. Me and my friend used to prepare for IIT entrance exam in Patna. He used to go for individual tuitions for Physics, Organic chemistry, Inorganic chemistry, Physical chemistry, Maths. He used to stay in bigger room more lavishly. His father was Bank manager. He solved lesser problems in IIT than me, but he was qualified and I was not. Now, If at all, some fore-fathers in my caste had discriminated against my friends fore-fathers 50 years ago, why should I suffer for that? What is my fault.. and what is my children’s fault? Now, my friend’s son will again get reservation, and my son will not get. This is not fair. No logic can convince me that its fair.

Yes, there were caste/community specific issues, and in order to alleviate the poverty and making it level playing, we had reservation based on caste, but there should be a vision for future, at least a discussion should start on the modification of reservation policy. Earlier, there was no mechanism to figure out financial status, but now we have all the means to figure out who should be eligible for reservation and who should not. In fact, rich people from reserved category should come forward and say that, our family has now come out of poverty and we do not want to take reservation anymore. In fact, I know few friends, who didn’t take reservation.

IMHO, reservation should be gradually removed and replaced with explicit care from childhood for health and education for deprived (irrespective of caste) families. Though I know it’s almost impossible to remove reservation. No government can dare to even talk about abolishing reservation. Its point of concern that some of the leaders are talking about imposing reservation in private sector.

24. Government vs Private job

Both has pros and cons. It depends on risk appetite. Private job is risky (Job security) but is more rewarding. Though, If I had got a chance, I would have worked in Govt. Sector. I did try several govt job openings, but could not qualify. 

25. Future of testing jobs

Doing just the testing as a job will vanish in few years. Testers will need to learn and do portion of development, own up automation completely, perform devops tasks, Interact with customer and be frontline in resolving their issues. Testers will need to be aware of several solutions used by customer and they should be able to test integration with those systems. Testers will need to learn Machine learning to perform intelligent testing in lesser time and also testers will need to learn RPA technology. These all work will get combined in few years, and then name might not remain as test engineer.. 

26. Health

Health is the most important than anything else. Sadly, I didn’t do justice to my health, and ate carelessly and didn’t do exercise regularly. Now I am realising and wants to do, but still lose focus. But I can’t stress enough on this. If you can, you should take care of your health. It’s more important than work.

27. Communication skills

This is most important skills for advancing in professional career. What to speak, when to speak, the tone, the gesture, understanding the audience, listening carefully, talking confidently etc.. There was a time, I was unable to speak in English (I studied in Hindi medium till 12th) but I slowly learnt. I have stammering problem from childhood, which I have overcome to an extent, but now also, I sometimes stammer. This happens more, when I am stressed. Usually, no one notices this, but I have felt embarrassed because of this many times, as I could not speak the starting word of a sentence for few seconds. 

28. Software Testing versus Software Development

There is always a debate on which is better. One keeps hearing that testing is an easy job, which anyone can do. I would like to not compare these two. These two are different type of jobs. 
There are people who are earning by working in a factory year long, and then there are income tax people, who just do a verification of whether that person has filed correct income tax or no. Should you compare these two? Every job has its own importance and every job should be respected equally. I have worked for small stint as a developer, and it seemed to me, there is lot of small small things one needs to be careful while writing an enterprise grade software application (Like telemetry, debuggability, testability, localisation, extensibility, conformance to several compliances like GDPR, security etc…). Testers do not really take care of these many things when writing test automation (Ideally they should, for example, will my test script work in all languages? In RTL language? Is it extensible?), but there is analytical side, where tester needs to be very good on reading between the lines, understanding the customer from end to end perspective, which many developer lack (usually, developers has a narrow focus on their component). Having said these, the lines between developers and testers are blurring and now every one needs to know development, testing, automation, devops and customer support. 

29. Boy vs Girl

There need not be any comparison. Except for few natural things, there is nothing a boy can do which girl can not. India needs to do lot of work in the space of gender equality. Mentality needs to be changed. 

30. News channels in India

Most of the news channels in India are biased. Most of the channels are pro-government. There are few who are biased against government. It is rare to see unbiased reporting in Indian news channels. This is a sad state for the fourth pillar of Indian democracy. 

31. My home state Bihar

Unfortunately, my state bihar ranks lowest in almost every aspect of development. There are several reasons for this. Natural reasons - Every year bihar gets flood, which wastes lot of resources every year. No industry - Bihar has almost no industry like how Telangana and Karnataka has IT industry, Gujarat has Chemical industry.. Political - Most of the politicians lacked grand vision for the state, the fire to do something for Bihar is not there, No unity - If all political parties talk in one voice to make Bihar great again, its not impossible, Inequality among states - rich states are becoming richer and poor state is becoming poor, as most of the investment goes to already developed states.. Not having very strong regional love in NRBs - In some South Indian states, people wants to stay in their state, as they love their state but that strong connection is not there in many Biharis, and we (Including myself) do not feel any pain in moving out of Bihar, this is actually related to the almost no opportunities inside Bihar.. But I feel, that we must do something for betterment of Bihar. I had very high hopes from current chief minister Shri Nitish Kumar, but, I do not see much progress. I will give one example of the so called road development in Bihar (Which govt boasts a lot).. 11 KM road (Only available road) connecting Dhamdaha and Barhara kochi is always broken in my 40 years of life. Even if its made 3-4 times, the quality used to be so bad that, road gets back to its glory in few months. It takes 1 hour to cover 11 Km.. There is no benefit of remaining in denial.. I wish to see my lovely state prosper once again.

32. Humans living on other planet

Elon musk..what a brilliance.. what a vision.. I am sure, human will go and stay for several days and months on other planet in my life time.. There are few major issues like converting CO2 to Oxygen on Mars, an easy and cheaper way to stop effect of radiation and a guaranteed safe transport to/from Mars.. But I am hopeful, these issues will be resolved. 

33. Bangalore versus Hyderabad

I stayed 9 years in Bangalore and I am staying in Hyderabad since ~6 years. (4 years, I stayed in Bellary, Karnataka). I feel Bangalore has got over populated. Roads are congested with many fold increase in vehicles. Hyderabad is lot better in terms of traffic. Even though people speak Hindi in Bangalore, it is more common in Hyderabad. Apart from traffic, the cost of living is more in Bangalore. Hyderabad is paradise for foodies, especially non-vegetarians :) 

34. South India versus North India

I am stying in south India since 19 years. So half my life I stayed in North and half in south. The food habit, clothing, marriage customs, festivals etc are bit different in these two regions. Places are cleaner (on average) in south. Trains run on time (compared to north). There is lesser crime in south. There will be extreme cold and extreme hot in North, where as most of south remains not that hot or cold. Pollution is worse in North compared to south. Temples are of different design in South. There are many things common across India - respect for elders, arranged marriage, respect for guests and Cricket! I personally like South Indian food more than North Indian food :)  

35. Population in India

This is scary. We are going to surpass China in few years. The developmental index of China is way better than that of India. Infrastructure is better. We must control our population. This should not be politicised, but a strict rule of 2 child will help. 

36. My root - Mithila culture

Goddess Sita was born in Mithila, hence, she is also named Maithili. Mithila is a region in Bihar’s north-east side where people speak Maithili language (a portion of Nepal also speaks Maithili). The culture is slightly different than other major language based regions in Bihar (Magahi and Bhojpuri). I have written about festivals and rituals in Mithila here

37. AI and Quantum computing

These two are the future. We have already seen glimpses of what AI can do, but quantum computing needs few more years to show their use case. It is going to be huge shift in the way huge data is processed and stored. This is needed for expected huge data generated from IOT. 

38. Own house versus Rented house

Both has pros and cons. People staying on rent in my area in similar apartments pay ~30K as rent. I pay the same as EMI. In few years, house will be mine but rented guy will have to pay more rent every year without any return. I have no problem if my daughter colours the whole house, but if you do the same in rented house, it might be a problem! But, my office is 13 km away, If I stayed in rented house, I could have changed the house near to office and would have saved on commute time as well as transport cost. 

39. Saying sorry and not expecting sorry

At times, there happens to be conflict between our own people, who are actually very close, but due to anger or ego we do something which we should not have done. When usual conflict resolution does not work - as no one is ready to buzz, I will buzz. Now in order to make peace, I say sorry and patch up even if I know I am not wrong. If I know I did mistake, I will say sorry. This facility is available for only those, whom I consider my own or till the time I give up on the person due to repeated wrongs. 

40. School education in Hyderabad (Especially in new city - close to Gachibowli)

It costs a fortune these days for education. There is no government regulation. We parent also get into peer pressure to put our wards in best (Perceived) schools. Most of the schools in these area call themselves international, and charge anywhere between 2-5 lacs per year. I hope better sense prevail and schools do not increase their fees by 10% (with additional jump on class 1, class 5 and class 11) .. IMHO, there should not be more than 3-5% increase per year. 

C. What’s in future for me 

I would like to have stability more than higher salary. I will keep learning newer skills relevant and required for current and future tasks. I feel, I will be more comfortable in technical role architecting overall quality. I am focussing on Python (Data Science, Machine learning), Java (with Selenium, Rest API testing, Appium), Performance testing (I did this in past) apart from regular update of technical innovations and solutions used by customers. I will try my best to remain in Salesforce for foreseeable future. I know, in order to be relevant anywhere, I will need to up-skilll and re-skill myself everyday. 
As of now, I have no plans for any other career. Teaching is one profession, which is in my blood (My grandfather, my father and my mother were teachers!), so that would be an option to explore later in the career, though that usually needs a Ph.D and getting a job as teacher/lecturer in private institutes is not very transparent. 
Its obvious, company will see the value addition versus cost to keep the resource. If they get same or better quality of work with lesser experienced guys, why should they pay more to me? Thats a big challenge. Now a days, learning has become so easily and freely available and students are so well prepared - Engineering students in 2nd year or 3rd years are participating and winning coding competitions like ICPC, Google Code Jam.. (During my college days, there was no youtube!) and there are plenty of engineers in India.. So there is a huge competition out there. Apart from skills and hard work, luck too plays a part in deciding where will someone be in future! So let’s wait for another 10 years and I wish, I will write similar blog on my 50th B’day!

You do not get to celebrate your 40th Birthday everyday!! 

Wednesday, November 14, 2018

Chhath Puja 2018 at Nallagandla lake (Close to Aparna CyberZon)

Usually, I go to my native place (Purnia, Bihar) for Chhath puja, but this year, I was in Hyderabad. We wanted to see Chhath puja and get blessings from Chhatthi maiyya somewhere. Two years back,  when I was in Hyderabad, I had gone to Hussain Sagar lake (Near Sanjeeviah park), there Chhath puja happens on grand scale. I think there were 5000+ people there with excellent light, music, and all other arrangements. But this time, I wanted to visit some nearby place (I stay in Manjeera Diamond Towers, Gopanpally, Hyderabad).

Inquiring with friends, I came to know that some people do celebrate Chhath at Nallagandla Lake. So we asked few other family friends and we all visited the place in evening as well as morning. we had arranged music (Chhath geet) and even though there were less number of people (~50), we all did Puja with all rituals.

Kids were enjoying the most :) So if you are staying nearby Nallagandla, Gopanpally, we can connect (I know some people in different societies near by) and in coming year, we can celebrate Chhath with better arrangements.

Jai Chhatthi Maiya!

Sunday, January 18, 2015

Festivals/Rituals in Mithila culture

I belong to Mithila region of Bihar, India. Mithila is land of Seeta mata, who is also named as Maithili. Maithili (One of three major languages spoken in Bihar, others are Bhojpuri and Magahi) is our mother tongue. I am proud of Mithila culture. Though every culture has its own beauty, but As I have seen all the festivals since childhood, I am writing this post, so that world knows about our culture, tradition and rituals.

Disclaimer: All the details are from my own perspective and for most of the festivals, I have used example of my family and my village (Some festivals may be specific to a particular caste/community within Mithila). Festivals dates are approximate and may not be exactly right and these dates changes every year as it depends on Hindi calendar (Chaitra, Baishak... Falgun month)

Let me mention that, these festivals and rituals are going on since 100s of years, though many of these are either scaled down on grandeur or people stopped celebrating them, as people have moved out of villages and have comparatively less time for so many festivals.

You will notice that most of Mithila festivals are focused on two objectives
1. Relationship and bonding between family, friends and society should increase.
2. Have delicious and variety food.

In my village, just 25 years back, there was no TV, no Phone, no news paper. There used to be Radio, that too not with every family, so the means for entertainment was nothing like today. They used to have these festivals quite frequently, and people used to celebrate these with full enthusiasm and with proper (as per documentation or as per Pandit) procedures. Today things are changed quite a bit.

Let me explain the festivals and rituals which is part of Mithila's life.

1. Makar Sankranti (15 Jan).

In this festival, there will be some puja (Means Worshiping God. I will use word Puja several times below) done and then elder ladies (Like Mother, Grand mother etc..) will prepare a mixture of Til (Sesame seeds), Chawal (Rice) and Gur (Jaggery) [Called Til-Chouri], and keep in a bowl and all younger people (In village - actually not entire village, but our tola - i,e part of village based on a particular caste) will go to them, will keep their hands in front of them, and then the ladies will ask "Til Til Bahbee?" (Meaning, "I am giving you this Til-Chouri, will you respect this? meaning Will you care for me when I get old?"). This question will be asked for 3 times (We know the trick!), so we (Naughty kids) will say No for 2 times and Yes for the third time.. even the naughtiest kid does not say No in third time.. But decent people will say Yes for all three times..

Later everybody will eat Dahee (Curd), Chura (Flat rice), Kela (Banana), Sweets, Achar (Pickles), Tilkut (Special sweet made out of Til), Sabji (Vegetable curry). I remember in 2002, we were in 1st year of engineering, and we (some 20 North Indians), prepared Dahee, and Alu-Gobhee sabjee. Some of our south friends were also invited for lunch.. They were not aware that Chura swells and increases in size in stomach after some time and if you ate Chura for full stomach, you will start feeling uncomfortable after some time. Some of our South-Buddies couldn't eat dinner!
There will also be several different types of Laay/Ladu (Like Til ke laay, Chra ke laay, Murhi ke laay, Chaur ke laay etc..) prepared and stocked for coming days.. Til is very healthy in Winter season.  Later in evening, they prepare Khichdi for dinner

2. Narak Nivaran Chaturdashi (19 Jan)

I never did this, but its like a day's fasting kept by both Men and Women. This fast is done to not get into Narak (Hell) after death.. There are many recurring fasts (Like every Sunday some do, Every Thursday some do - they wear yellow cloth, Some do every Monday for Lord Shiva's worship), but this fast has special status.

3. Sarswati Puja (25 Jan)

This festival is also called Basant Panchami. This festival is for mainly for Students (But everybody celebrates). We do Puja of Goddess Saraswati (Vidya kee devi, Goddess of Knowledge). Its 2 day festival.
On day 1, Idol will be placed with some Puja. Students keep few books beside the idol, and they do not need to study this day, even Parents and Teacher do not force to study this day ..

There will be Prasadam given (specially sweet Bundiya) to all who comes to visit the Puja stall. In that night there will be Jagaran and next day, there will be Idol immersion into nearest river or pond.

4. Maha Shivratri (17 Feb)

There will be fasting for God Shiva. This fast is kept by both Men and Woman. I remember, In my village Bhatotar, we used to celebrate this festival at Shiv Mandir (Near Barhara kothi railway station). There used to be non-stop Keertan/Bhajan for 24 hours (We call it AshtJam), along with in-between drama/play.
One interesting thing about AshtJam is that it must be continuous (Hare Rama / Hare Krishna / Hare Shiva chanting) and even one second matters, so what happens is when One group is singing (say since 2-3 hrs) and then second group (Keertan Mandali) has to start now, the second group gets in along with 1st group, and sings together for 5-10 minutes, and then 1st group leaves the Mandap. They take some rest and join back again after 2-3 Mandali's are done the rounds.

5. Holi (5-6 Mar)

This is 2 day festival. 1st day is DhurKhel, where in we play with Dust. Mud etc.
As a kid we used to be spoilers (He he he .. sorry).. Like we used to put dust/cow-dung in milk vessel (for milk sellers), which used to almost get into fight most of the time .. Or used to throw mud on running train .. But essentially its to put some dust/mud to friend/relatives to make them dirty and nobody cares and get angry (As long as there is no much damage)..

Second day, we play with color (Wet color) and Abeer (Colored powder).. There will be village people marching whole village singing Holi songs..They play musical instruments like Dhol, Jhal, Majeera etc.. At every home (We call it Dwar, So most of the home in our villages, has two portions, one is Angan -Backside and one is Dwar. - Front), this group sings the song and it is host's (That Dwar's family) responsibility to arrange for some Tea/Paan/Bhang (as per their financial status) for all. Group will sing 1-2 song and the last song will always be "Sada ananda rahe ehi dware.." meaning "We pray that this home should remain happy always.".  There are Sara-rara songs, songs of love, song of God/Goddess, song of patriotism..

During my childhood, we used to sing one song (Though bit offending) "Haan haan, Kutte nahin samajhte Gandhi Jayaprakash kee bhasha, Bina maar ke nahin badalti englishtaani chaal, bhagat singh jaaga hai" Meaning "These British dogs will not understand the language of peace proposed by GandhiJi and JayaPrakash, rather they will not understand without beating, because there are people like Bhagat singh emerged" .. and it was like so much passion and energy.. Probably this song was written when we were fighting for independence, but people continued to sing even after independence!
There was another song "Jhanjhar Jhanjh Jhamam Jham Jhankee, Jhahrat Jhora Jhori Guyyan, Aju khele Holi, Ajun khele Hori guyyan, Aju khele holi.."..
There were few of my villagers who used to write Holi songs quite innovatively (Based on recent political atmosphere or other societal issues).. Essentially, what Holi meant is to become at good terms with all families, know each other.. so even if two families are not at good terms, they play Abeer/Holi and go to other's Dwar for singing..

Later in the evening, every younger person takes blessing (puts Abeer on elder's feet) from all elder ones. This is a sign of respect.. and then elder person will put some abeer on younger one's fore-head.
There will be special dishes prepared. For day time, we have MalPua (Prepard from Maida, Milk, Banana, Sugar - fried in ghee) and in evening, we used to have Mutton (Goat meat).

I also remember, for few years, we (the younger ones, aged between 10-20) get music system with sound boxes, and dance in Holi, which old people did not like and shouted on us.. but we didn't listen!

Another interesting thing was Pre-Holi singing. Every night (Which starts some 15-20 days before Holi, till holi day), after dinner, villagers gather to one family's Dwar and sing holi song.. That host serves some snacks, tea and Paan (beetle leaf), and at the end, some other family (This singing group used to consist mostly Male) head will propose to have the next day holi gathering at his home.. and cycle continued..

6. Dora (7 March) - This festival happens on next day of Holi. All families will gather at one particular woman's home (This lady is considered well respected as She performs Dora for all families). Every family will bring some home made sweets, fruits etc in some kind of bowl (Made by bamboo's thin peelings ).. The old lady will say a story (And it is same story every year) about some King and queen who got some Shrap (Curse) and King became very poor and queen also became very poor and they somehow meet after 12 years of painful separation..

7. Ramnavami (28 Mar)

This is a festival for the worship of Rama.. In some places there will be Ashtajam. In my home, there will be Ramacharitmanas path, in which my mother (and in between, My father, or If I am there, sometime I read too) reads entire Ramacharitmanas (Only Doha, its ~800 pages, 7 parts namely Bala-kand—77 chapters, Ayodhya-kand—119 chapters, Aranya-kand—75 chapters, Kishkindha-kand—67 chapters, Sundara-kand—68 chapters, Lanka-kand—128 chapters, Uttara-kand—111 chapters) ) in one go (No discontinuity, remember from above?).

So If I am supposed to take over reading, I will sit beside my mother and start reading and then my mother will leave the place.). This generally starts by 7-8AM and goes on till 11 PM. There will be Ramayan Arti at last and then only we will eat something (For all those who are going to read the holy book, must remain on fast since morning)

8. Satua pawan/Jurisheetal/Sirwa/Biswa (14-15 April)

This festival has different names in different parts of Bihar, but essentially what happens is we fly the kites on these two days (and after this day no kite flying till next year Makar sankranti). People eat Tender-Mango, Sattu (Gram flour), and there will be some Puja..

9. Akshaya Tritiya (21 Apr)

There is a trend in India to buy some Jewelleary on this auspicious day, but I didn't know this until I came to South India in 2001.
In my village, there was a tradition to call entire village (I mean part of it, because, most of the villages are divided based on Caste and religion - though Sad, but that is how management is easier, and there is harmony between all caste and religion in most of the villages) to their home (This is not done by all families, but only very few designated voluntary families, reason will be obvious in a bit :)) to have Sharbat..
So you have some 50-100 people standing/sitting at one place (Dwar of one particular family), and that family prepares lot of Sharbat (Water, Sugar, Lemon and some flavors like Ruh-afza) and serve to all (Unlimited) .. because this is hot summer time, having a nice Sharbat refreshes everybody, but can you have it again after some time on same day? May be once more? Fine.. hence there were only 1-2 families which used to host this Sharbat party..

10. Ardara (10 June)

This is a festival for Sun God .. There will be some Puja done and there will be once again special food.. like Rice kheer and Mango (In our region, there is a famous mango named "Maldah", which is called King of mangoes in our side - and I had not heard the name of Alphanso mango till I came to South India.. And I still like Maldah more than Alphanso..:))

11. Guru Poornima (31 Jul)

I don't think there is special food attached to this festival..But kind of some puja happens ..

12. Nagpanchami (1 Aug)

In this festival, we worship Snake God.. and leave some milk and Lava (Its like popcorn of Paddy) outside our homes (bit far) and we believe Snake comes and eats Lava and drinks milk.. Though most likely its rats or some other reptiles :). In our village, there is a Vishahra temple (temple of snake god) and there will be some special puja done there..
Here I want to add two small stories around how this temple.was made .

1. One fine day (some 25 years ago), one of my Uncle, who were doing some farming work in his field, got a clay (like brick) which had snake shape made on that.. Uncle conveyed this to villagers, and some one suggested that, we should do some Puja (Called Bhagait).. so there was some Bhagat (One person, who was probably drunk, and spins his head round and round and utters some things like a crazy person), what ever he says is like word written on stone. People used to believe that during Puja, God will get into his skin and at that particular time what ever He says is the order by God. (Not now, its 25 years ago :) )

He said, there should be a temple built over here (Where Uncle found that stone/clay).. so be it .. But who is going to fund it? read second story for that

2. So now, villagers put a sign board at that place mentioning, "Site for building Vishahara temple. Please donate 2 bricks, whenever you carry bricks in tractor or donate some money" .. and we kiddos used to play cricket nearby in high school play ground.. so what used to happen, if there were some tractors carrying bricks, they used to throw 2-3 bricks on that site voluntarily, but some tractor were not and we (or if there are other villagers seeing someone not honoring) used to request (or even force) to them to throw bricks.. also there was donation box.. and with the help of many villagers, we built the temple in some 10 years) and now this is the temple, where every people come to take blessings after all important rituals like Mundan, Marriage etc..)

13. Raksha Bandhan (10 Aug)

This is the well known festival, where in Sister ties the Rakhi (Made of Silk threads) on the wrist of brothers.. Sister does some Aarti of brother, gives sweet to brother after tying the Rakhi.. Later who ever is younger touches feet of elder one.. Many a times, Brother gives some gift to sister..
Now a days, most of the brothers and sisters stay in different cities across the globe.. so Sister sends Rakhee by Post/Courier to brother.. Both Sister and brother keeps fast till brother ties the Rakhi (and they confirm on phone) after taking bath.. There is a famous story of Rani Karnavati sending Rakhi to Humayun (Who was a Muslim emperor, and Karnavati being Hindu-Rajput). and Humayun saved Karnavati by respecting Rakhee..). In childhood, I had seen a Hindi movie "Saajan ka ghar" in which a brother "Depak tijori" met with an accident and when Sister "Juhee chawla" comes to meet in hospital, she comes to know that Deepak's one hand is chopped off..and then Deepak says, sister, Look this hand is saved in which you had tied the Rakhee..and he says, Alas, there were customs to tie Rakhee in both the hands.. and everybody watching cries at this scene .. :) ..

14. Krisna jamastamai / Jhoolan  (18 Aug)

This is a festival in which we celebrate the birth day of Lord Krishna.. We put idol of little Krishna (Nanhe Gopal) in a Jhoola (Cradle) and it will be regularly be moved by PanditJi..
At many places, there will be fair (Mela) organized. This was getting celebrated nicely at our nearby villages Barahara kothi and Sukhsena.. There used to be some Drama/Arkestra (Musical event) in evening.

15. Chaurchan /Ganesh chaturthee (29 Aug)

This festival is done in groups. a bunch of related families comes to one home, where in One lady does the Puja.. All other families keep their home made sweet bowl and Curd (in clay pot) near place of Pooja.. There will be some puja of Moon god.. and after this every body will take some fruit in their hand and see moon (Many a times it takes quite some time to see the moon, as it is rainy season). There are some villages in which there is a tradition of throwing Dhela (Small stones) or Kadamb fruit, having objective to break curd pot.. This is naughty thing to do, but in my village it was not quite prevalent..

 15. Ananat Puja (8 Sep)

In this festival, also all families gather at one home, where in one old lady says some story, and then there is one band (named Anant, which has 14 twists, made from special thread), and everybody wears this on their hand (between elbow and shoulder).. they keep this band for at least few weeks..

There is something interesting.. This festival relates to Samudra manthan .. so the old lady will search something in the pile of flowers and fruits and other people will ask "Anant bhetla?" meaning "Did you get Anant?" and lady will say No..for many times and lastly She will say "Haan bhetal" i.e "Yes I got.."

16. Jitiya (16 Sep)

This need special mention. I don't think there is any similar festival anywhere in India.. This festival is to showcase the love and sacrifice by mother for their son (Sadly, this is done for Son only.. if some lady does not have Son, still they do in hope to get Son in blessings by God).
In this festival, family members (especially younger ones) eat Chura, Dahee, Cheeni, Khaja etc.. in the wee hours (around 4 AM). I remember, after this early breakfast, we used to play Gulli-Danda or Budhiya kabaddi..
Later in the morning, Mother prepares a basket full with fruits, flowers, sweets, Gram, Some leafs like bamboo leaf, Maina leaf etc.. and cover it with some cloth and tie a knot.. And then do a Nirjala fast (i.e Fast without even taking water) for around 36 hours (Depends on some Muhurtam)..
Its quite difficult.. And after the time ends, Son opens the knot tied earlier to uncover the fruit basket..
Mother does some puja after that .. and every body takes the Prasad and then only Mother eats something..
Its suggested to first drink something hot just after long water-less fast like Tea/Milk, If someone drinks cold water, there are chances to have throat problems.. Its been like 20 years I am not there at my home on Jitiya, but still my Mother (and all mothers does that) does this Fast and I call to her and inform that I have taken bath and please ask some one else (my cousins) to open the knot..

I request to all mothers out there (In my community), If you do not feel well in between, please do take some fruit juice or hot milk (And generally, Juice and milk do not break the usual fast :) )..

I have seen one incident which is not good.. but let me share that.. My neighbor Aunt in Patna used to do this Fast.. she was very weak by health and still she used to do.. and after doing fast for some 36 hours, on the morning (after few hrs she was supposed to break the fast), she was preparing Tea and she got unconscious while she was holding the Pan (having boiling water) and unfortunately their only son (Who was 5 years old, and for whom she was fasting) was holding his mom, boiling water fell on the son and he got severely injured. Immediately both Mom and son were rushed to hospital.. Luckily there was no long term impact..

17. Biswakarma Puja (17 Sep)

This is a festival to worship Biswakarma (Who is engineer God i.e who keeps machines safe!). We worship our vehicles (By cleaning and putting garlands), factories clean their machines and all workers have celebrations (I think mostly no work on this day!).. Also businessman starts a new Bahee-Khata (Registers to maintain the business finances, applicable to small businessman and in today's computer age, this is becoming irrelevant).

18. Dashahara (Kalash sthapan to Jatra) (25 Sep - 3 Oct)

This is a 10 days long festival, which starts with Kalashsthapan (i.e one earthen pot filled with water is kept on a heap of soil, and on this soil Jau (Barley grain)  seeds are thrown, so that in 10 days it grows some 3-5 inches long grass, which is called Jayanti).

There will be Durga sapta sati (a holy book consisting of 13 chapters) path (reading), i.e someone will read the book (Either read this book daily which takes 2-3 hrs or can read few chapters every day and finish it off in 9 days).

There will be large Pandals prepared at many places having large idols of Goddess Durga and few other Gods/Goddesses. and there will be Mela around that Pandal..
On Ashtami, Nawami and Dashami, there will be some special puja done.
Dashmi is also called as Jatra (Yatra or travelDay). Essentially no body travels to other places between dashahra, and its considered auspicious to travel on Dashmi after the Puja is done in morning).
Every Male has to tie the Now-Grown Jau grass (Called Jayanti, 2-3 strands) into their Tikki (or Chutia, u might have seen on the head of Chankya.. These days we don't keep chutia, hence just tie in some hair).. Do Pranam (Touch feet) to all close elders.. So even if we do not generally go to to home village in Dashahra and do not tie Jayanti, we do Pranam to all elders (Close relatives) on this day on phone at least

19. Dhanteras (21 Oct)

On this day there is a tradition of buying some useful house hold thing like utensils or some vehicle or some Jewellary etc..

20. Deewali (23 Oct)

This is again special in our Mithila culture.. On this day, We prepare (or buy) Kandeel (a box type of structure made out of bamboo sticks, and pasted with colorful papers). (Earlier we - our family, used to prepare aeroplane  structured kandeel as well, but that was stopped some 15 years back, as it was quite time consuming and laborious task to maintain/repair it and cover it with colored papers).

Later on the day we prepare Ukka-Paati (This is made by tieng bunch of dried Santhi (Joot/Patua tree),  which looks like a cross (Christ's Cross!), and catches fire quickly.. We throw one-each Ukka-Pati on each house (in the family) and to nearest temples.  Later in the evening we lit many-many Diyas, Candles to lighten all the places, roof tops .. Hence this festival is also called Festival of light..

Then in evening we burst crackers.. and around 7-8 PM, we gather at one place to have Ukka-Paati (One person will bring the fire in one long Ukka-Paati from our Bhagwati-Ghar - which is like a small temple inside our house..; and then rest all (Male only again) will put their Ukka-Paati on that fire, so it seems like a large bon-fire, and everybody holds their Ukka-Paati .. so at times the hand feels the heat..

Earlier (some 40 years ago), there was dangerous trend to jump over this bon-fire across by young people .. this used to be considered brave and good.. But there was a incident, where in two person jumped at the same time from opposite side and the flame was so high they could not see each other, and both of them had a clash and fell in the fire (Not much harm though).. and since then this tradition is stopped.. In place of we jumping across the fire, we just cross the small fire (only my fire, not everyone's fire), then take 5 strands of burnt Santhi (Joot tree) and then everybody comes to Bhagwati ghar .. They keep these strands in temple, and do a Jayakara (Chant slogan - Bol de kaalika maharani kee jay.. and everybody says Jay) of Goddess Kaali.. And there after happens the tradition, for which most people come to their village/home from anywhere in India they might be residing in ..

I have missed 5 such occasions in my life time [during my engineering days (4 times) and once After my marriage (In that year, all my vacations were exhausted, as there are so many rituals.. it was like a month for Marriage :) ) .. Anyways, essence is everybody tries to reach home on Deewali.. All younger (Male/Female) touches the feet of all elders.

First Male group will start from Bhagwati ghar, do Pranam to many people and then start by houses in sequence..Do Pranam to all elder ladies.. and in between any elder male comes (and not yet done Pranam), then do Pranam .. What happens is this removes all the bad feelings towards others .. even if two families had fight few days ago, both family members will forget their enmity and do this ritual and mostly forget the fight (Until it happens again).. so in a way cleaning up the hunted feelings within society.. Finally everybody will reach to one common (Big famous temple in my village) Kaali mandir and there will be multiple Jayakaras..

At 12 mid night, there will be special Puja in Kaali temple..

21. Kaali Puja (24 Oct) 

Next day to Deewali is Kaali Puja, in which we worship Goddess kaali by doing Bali pradaan of goat (Though not favoring the cruelty on animals, but this is long tradition, and anyway goats are getting killed for usual meat eating - and veg versus non-veg is a seperate blog post!, so I neither condemn this ritual nor support this)..

In our village there will be football match and in the evening there will be some musical events..

22. Bhai Dooj (25 Oct)

This is also called Bhardutia. This is a festival of brother and sisters.. In this festival, Brother is supposed to go to Sisters place (If married) or do the ritual at their home.. So the ritual is to put 5 beetle leaf in brother's hand, put some Pithar (Paste made of rice), Sindoor (Vermilion), 5 nut (Beetle nut), 5 one rupee coins .. then sisters put the folded hand (With beetle leaf etc..) into a large bowl of water and clean his hands.. Later who ever is younger touches elder's feet.. Sister gives some sweet to eat to brother.. Brother may give some gift/money/sweets to sister.

23. Chhath (29/30 Oct)

This festival is celebrated to worship Sun God.. this is done in two parts.. One in the evening (Sunset) and one in the early morning (sunrise).

What happens is there will be one or more big basket (having Sweets, Fruits, Coconut, Sugarcane etc.) which needs to be carried from home to the nearest water-body (a pond or river) on head.. Here Chhath Vratees (People who does chhath fasting, and this is also quite tough fast. I skipped mention of Kharna and other related rituals) get into the water in evening time (say around 3 PM) and stay in there until sun sets.

After that, all these baskets kept on the river pond bank (Decorated with banana tree) is given in hands of Vratee, and He/She dips the portion of basket into water and then gives back.. and we take these baskets back to our home (We do not open the basket).

Later at around 3 AM, we all wake up and then take the basket back to same river/pond bed and again Vratee gets into the water. This time it will be colder (as compared to evening time), and stay there until sun rises. After the sun rises, each basket is again given in the hand of Vratee, and other family members put Milk into that basket (This process is called "Arghya dena" and is considered essential).

There are people who has this mannat (votive) to go to the water-body from their home (few 100 meters to even few kilometers) by measuring the distance by their body (Like how Hydra moves). It means a person standing, then sleeps on the road keeping a knife or stick to mark by his hand till he can reach, and then stands up and walk to the mark drawn, and again stands there, sleeps on the road and repeat the same until He/She reaches to water. In fact they get into water like this only, so there will be slope at the end, and one needs to be very careful. This ritual is not done by all, only very few people does this. I was seeing Chhath festival at Bangalore and Hyderabad, and here also there were people doing this ritual.

24. Devuthan Ekadashi (3 Nov)

Some Puja - in this also some people do Ramayan Path..

25. Shema Chakeba (8 Nov)

In this festival people (girls/ladies especially) make different birds, animals (Like elephant) using clay and color them nicely. They also make Chugla (Meaning a person who speaks bad about others behind them)..

In night (say around 8PM), ladies and children goes to nearby field, and they break all these clay and also burn Chugla.

26. Lawan  (25 Nov)

This is a festival for new paddy crop.. (Also called Navanna meaning new grain). In this festival people worship fire (Agni) God by giving some portion of Chura (Made out of newly cut paddy), Dahee, Mulee (Radish) etc.. Also people eat Chura/dahee/Cheeni.

Some more festivals and rituals

Apart from above festivals which is generic and happens every year for everybody, there are few other Rituals/festivals which happens once in life time (Again depends on Male or Female) as mentioned below.

1. Chhatthi
For newly born kid - on 6th day from birth

2. Barhi
12th day from Kid's birth .. after this day, mother can do house hold work, till then take rest new mom !

3. Mundan
Only for boys - Between 1 to 5 years.. Head Hair will be cut (Not shaved) - Huge celebration..

4. Upnayan
Only for male - Between 10-20 Years. Head Hair will be shaved and Gayitri Mantra will be taught. Again huge celebration

5. Tushari Puja
Only for female. Girls when get into marriageable age, they do this Puja .. hoping they will get better husbands!

6. Vivah
So many rituals in Vivah (Marriage).. There are two important Mithila specific words for arranging the marriage. One is "Ghatak" (Bride's family who comes to discuss for marriage with Groom's family, and One would-be groom has many Ghataks and One set of Ghatak visits many would be groom!) and second one is Agua (One/Two person who knows both Groom side and Bride side, which takes the initiatives and has very important role..) Role of Agua is decreasing day by day but they were the only means to introduce Bride and Groom family back when there was no matrimonial websites :)

7. Vat Savitri 
Only for married woman. For the first year after marriage, this is a big function.. Woman continue doing this festival every year, though in simple manner.

8. Kojagra
This is a one time festival, wherein, Bride's family distributes sweets to Groom's society/village.

Specially Paan and Makhaan is must.

9. Dwiragman
For Married couple - After marriage, bride does not go to groom's home immediately, rather She goes after few months or may be after few years!.. and that time again there will be function.. But now-a-days, this ritual is done few days after marriage itself, as most of the family members stays at different places., and its tough to gather again and again. 30-40 years before, most of the people used to do farming or small business and used to stay in village only, hence they had plenty of time :)

10. Madhushramini
Only for recently married woman (Within an year). This is 15 days festival, in which bride is not supposed to eat salt and do puja everyday. On 15th day, Groom is expected to be there to perform some puja.

After marriage, people have kids and same cycle repeats for Son/Daughter and GrandSon/GrandDaughter .. and as its Sashwat Satya (universal truth), one who is born will die one day.. So some rituals are done for the departed soul, by their relatives.

1. Shraddh
This is 13 days ritual post death, in which, 11th day, all close relatives will shave their head (or do a hair cut, if Upanayan is not done). There will be some rituals performed for peace of departed soul and there will be feast, where in 100s of people get invited.

2. Barkhi
Fom 1st death anniversary to 5th death anniversary - There will be Head shaving (Called Nakh-Baal) and there will be some puja/rituals followed by feast for villagers.

3. Ekodisht
After 5th death anniversary (Barkhi), every year, till the family can do.. They invite few people for eating on that day ..

Note: As mentioned earlier, it is all my personal view and the intention is to let the world know about our culture/tradition. There may be something incorrect as well, as its been 15 years, I was not there at village for any festival except Deewali/Chhath. Please let me know if something needs to be corrected or enhanced.