It's the end of the year and it's time for wishing everyone a very happy and prosperous new year and to recap some impacting events for my life. I had the best and worst of my life this year as well. To summarise, I had a lot of life changing events to my life this year and well, hey, I am no more a bachelor as I was when this year started. From new projects, friends, relatives to a gap of friendship, everything happened this year. This year has seen my depth of sorrows and heights of happiness.
A great project to start with!
I continued working with the British Television Broadcasting, Sports, Internet and News giant from the previous year and it continued to be the best and improving on it a lot. Starting from the Product Owner, Scrum Master, Developers, Testers, Service Providers, Vendors and my fellow co-workers, everyone were very caring and affectionate during the whole tenure while at the site.
We frequently have fun talks during our retrospective meetings and stand-ups and go out for dinner most of the time with the team and have crazy talks. People (other than me) get drunk to an extent, where they talk stuff that makes no sense. The good part is that they don't remember a thing next day. Coming back to games, we have this pool table in the first level, where my team includes the SM and PO along with me. They back me up always. I learnt a lot in aiming and pocketing the balls during these games.
We did have our other game, which was a chess tournament and it's a shame that I cannot participate on this due to the fact that I don't know a thing in chess.
Stack Overflow 100k Reputation
It's during this time, when I was already top of the world, I was elated to know that I crossed my 100,000 Reputation in Stack Overflow. Stack Overflow is the largest, most trusted online community for developers to learn, share their programming knowledge, and build their careers. It definitely takes nine lives (Yep, I am a cat, for those who are unaware about this fact.) to achieve or compete with Jon Skeet's Reputation.
Already I was elated, now to make me super-elated, I got an email from Robert Cartaino (LinkedIn), Community Manager at Stack Overflow congratulating me for the achievement.
Incidentally, the same week I got the first rank in the Stack Exchange Leagues. Following this, I did struggle a lot to achive this: Stack Overflow 100k Struggle Experiences.
A trip to Rolls Royce
It has been always fascinating for me to get into Aeronautical Engineering. Fortunately, I got a project related to aeronautics and rocket science and I had a chance to go and meet the people behind the Society of Air Breathing Engines. I even got a chance to get inside of a Rolls Royce Trent Jet Engine and I climbed up inside to explore it.
Frustrations and Dissapointments
We had some kind of big merge and then two scrum teams got merged for achieving a bigger goal. Unfortunately Scrum doesn't work that way. It has to have less than 10 members in a single scrum team. We had 25. This alone was an example for inefficient project management and inability to lead or organise a team. I wasn't able to cope up with the pressure and their expectations and unfortunately I had to quit the team. It was that very moment I had some good news as well.
When things go wrong, I was looking out much for better opportunities and I befriended a colleague in my company, who was at a very senior position. I told him about my current situation and he gave a hand to help me. Since he is a complete stranger, and he started asking me if he's okay to be my career counsellor and things escalated quick. He "kidnapped" me to London office to work and well, I found it interesting too.
The only thing people were worried about was that it was a weekend and he insisted me to travel with him and work during that time. There was a huge cat and mouse game started between me, the senior person and my human resources team. Finally I had to come back to my delivery centre to work for the rest of the days till I left to India. That was definitely a huge story of its own.
Sometimes best things do happen in my life too. I and my dad went on the search for the perfect partner spree and good thing was that I found my right girl. After talking to her over the phone, it was during those days I had to wait till I get a positive result and voila, it was positive! I liked the girl and she liked me. Immediately after exchanging the willingness, I booked my flights to and fro India for a week's time.
It's the 8th March, I got engaged to a beautiful princess and that set for a start of our journey, partially. The coincidence is that, our birthdays fall on the same week. We are a day less than a week for our birthdays!
Microsoft Most Valuable Professional
My life had mre to give for me. I was very much worried about my situation with Microsoft as a Most Valuable Professional, because of many reasons. The first one being I was kicked out of Stack Overflow for running a bot amok and doing some nasty things and secondly, I had to get engaged, so I went to India to spend some time and couldn't do much contribution. Fortunately, they didn't check much and the checks were done during April end and by then, I came out of the suspension.
Looking at my contributions as a whole year, I was awarded the most prestigious award of Microsoft Most Valuable Professional Award again on July.
I wasn't getting much visibility in my workplace and I explained my career counsellor, how much I needed this to survive and compete in England. After a few days of unassigned bench time, I got a call from her telling me that there's something special for me waiting. I was eagerly looking forward to what it was. I found that it was a marketing campaign to get more people to apply and work for my company.
I was one of the five chosen employees to represent our brand. I gave a short video interview, was featured in different areas of walls in our office premises and I had the best visibility possible. I had my friends pinging me the links to the corporate social account saying that they have put up my video and I was feeling I have to give much more to such a great organisation.
Shashank Thala & Exotic Saman
This happened! This really happened. I have been a big fan follower of this legend Shashank Thala, who's the Facebook Superhero of many. I got a chance to talk to him, befriend him through a project I was working on - Exotic Saman. I was feeling at the top of the world, literally and our first call lasted hours together!
The project Exotic Saman is again one of the best I did this year. What do we need in our life? Food! That's what it is all about. Exotic comes from the Greek word Exotikos meaning foreign and Saman is a colloquial word in India for Things. From the stone age to the modern age the definition and the challenges of the exotic saman have evolved. In a world like this where everything changes in the blink of an eye, we at Exotic Saman believe into taking a leap to achieve the unexpected.
A new friend (brother) for my life
It is this time where I started taking things seriously. I wanted to contribute as much as possible so I was very choosy in selecting a project so that it will help me grow and not use me up. I found a financial service project at my company and planned to opt-in. The good part was that my co-worker, colleague, peer, and mentor is a person from my own state and talks my language, understands my thoughts and that was a great start for a new friendship.
I wouldn't say him a manager, but a friend, a brother to me, he took care of me like a new born child and backed me up for anything and everything, professionally and personally. We worked on the team for about a month, till I got things set up and he helped me in every aspect. He gave me the best overview of the project and helped me come up to speed and brought the best out of me.
Food! Food!! Food!!!
After getting into the new project, I literally became a foodie. I started exploring all cuisines - Indian, Lebanese, Chinese, Mexican, Italian, etc. all of course, vegetarian, or at most ovo-vegetarian. It's by choice, religion and family that I am and will continue to be a vegetarian and will not go anywhere near meat, fish, non-vegetarian dishes, and also I am a teetotaler. I neither smoke nor drink.
Some of my experiences with WagaMama, Maveli Restaurant, Kebabish and of course, how can I forget the awesome food from the Gurudwaras?
An awesome food from WagaMama, a Chinese Restaurant.
Excellent dishes above and below from Maveli, an Indian Restaurant at Sheffield.
Gurudwara at its best here...
It's the Gurudwara that fed me almost the whole year, when I was starving and had not much funds. I have a huge respect to the Sikh Community for the service they do without expecting anything in return. I am still trying to find a way to give back something from my side other than sparing some change from my salary every month.
Meeting with the Kutti CEO
This guy, Vishnu Prasath from BrightBridge is one of my best buddies for the past three years. He's a self-made first generation entrepreneur. We first met through facebook and tried to accomplish a project together. I am not sure if the project came up well, but our friendship grew well. We met again in my marriage at Coimbatore.
Tying the Knot!
Not sooner, I had to leave to India again to join my hands together with the love of my life. Ummm... Well, it's an arranged marriage, but we started loving each other to bits as soon as we got engaged and first few conversations. We both started sacrificing our bad qualities for each other and planned to start a healthy new life.
Trip that screwed up and we learnt a lot!
These things happen only in India. You get married to an unknown stranger, yet you are supposed to take care of each other as if you know each others' positives, negatives, likes, dislikes, etc. Well, that doesn't work out for me, at least. It was same for her as well. We both accepted each other without stressing much on those areas. We went for a trip alone and then it happened! We both fell sick.
It was this time, we found how much we truly love and ready to take care of each other. Although we had the guilt of wasting the whole trip without enjoying, we had our best moments understanding our love. We came to a point where one of us cannot exist without the other.
So it happened. We got married. What next? My wife was working for a big, super big electronic commerce and cloud computing company based in Seattle, Washington. She left the job there for me and got ready to travel along with me to the United Kingdom. I had the responsibility of getting her visa sponsored and taking her to the United Kingdom and keeping her safe. That was really a task of a responsibility.
We all, two families, were waiting for the result of the decision taken by the United Kingdom Visa and Immigrations team to give us a positive decision. And this was the time we went to our personal trip and it got screwed up badly, and we both were sick. Exactly after fifteen days, we got the decision and her passport and supporting documents were mailed to her residential address. For some reason, we were sick and she went to her home while I went to mine. The documents were received by herself.
And yes, the decision was accepted to sponsor a dependent work permit visa to her and things were good. We set to leave India to the United Kingdom, the very next day!
(Thala) Deepavali Celebrations
Working at a financial instituion is not an easy one. I couldn't work at my ease, at my comfortable location, in my favourite machine, or my best time. I had to frequently travel Sheffield and my brother (from another mother) had to travel from London. We both meet at Sheffield to work together at the client site.
It so happened that I got married and this is the first time, the Deepavali festival is kicking in. Deepavali (Tamil: தீபாவளி) is the Hindu festival of lights celebrated every year in autumn in the northern hemisphere (spring in southern hemisphere).
I got my wife to Sheffield along with me and as two families, mine and my brother's, we celebrated Deepavali together. That was one of the most memorable event for both of us as this is the first time we spent some time together, outside, away from our usual houses. She learnt to travel outside and far too and she came to know the ways of commuting in the United Kingdom.
When things go well, we do have stuff like this. Look at a conversation between me and life.
Me: I am on top of the world.
Life: Ah, is that so? Now try this problem!
There were problems after problems for me this time. There were two incidents of conning and getting money from me, while one was because of my project dropped. There was this friend of mine, a girl, student from University of Leicester, who's so close to me. She shares literally everything to me and expects kind of an attention and affection. Since she was a good person by heart, which I falsely believed, I started helping her in all the aspects.
Finally I came to know her true intentions of conning me and getting money was revealed at last. But yeah, karma is a beach (read it differently). It spares no one. She found her so called "love of her life", choosing a wrong person and got into endless troubles. Now she stays the same. She's been demoted from once "close best friend" to "just friend".
Shit happens. But not something like this. The financial institute lost their budget and we all were expelled from there. It was just before Christmas and things like this were unexpected. Most of us do not have holidays left to even take them during the compulsory ones, as a lot of people like me, went back to their home country for their marriage and other personal occasions.
I was banking on this project to accrue my leaves, but disaster struck me as the project descoped and we all had to get a loss of pay as we need to take holidays.
Last Holiday & New Year Eve with New Friends
It wasn't a good thing to say that this is the first time I am going out with my wife after my marriage in the England. Finally, I made up my mind, got enough holidays to spare and then ultimately booked the tickets and started our journey of EuroTrip. Well, not exactly. We'll call it ET, as we say. The main places we covered were Leicester, Birmingham, Paris and back to Scotland and Newcastle upon Tyne.
The first step to the 1000 mile journey started from Newcastle upon Tyne to Newark North Gate. Following a lonely ice-breaking walk for half an hour, we reached Newark Castle.
After going through a low budget hoop train, we reached Nottingham. A quick sight-seeing and we set our board to Leicester! The first thing I did after reaching my home was, I went my other home - University of Leicester, Computer Science Department. It was a serendipity when we both just tried entering the David Wilson Library Cafe, we could hear a holy voice calling for me. It was none other than my Professor Thomas Erlebach. We had a nice chat for around half an hour and he was so kind enough to take both of us through the campus.
We took some nice pictures along with him. Also, since the University of Leicester is now totally rebranded, I had to take new pictures in the front of the sign gate!
The whole city had changed when I was back after two whole years. So my awesomeatic smart crazy nice friend took an awesome snap with my his awesomeatic Google Pixel 2 phone.
Some moments to cherish. We all had a competition of which ice cream wins. Either the Oreo Vanilla or the Magnum Almond. Unfortunately, no one expect me was able to accept Oreo Vanilla, so without a thought, the Magnum Almond edition won!
After the whole lot fun, we reached home back in Leicester and started to cook. The dish was so spicy that no one except the cook and his friend were able to handle the spice. I literally died eating it, but I should say, it is indeed an awesome dish after all. All is Well That Ends Well!
Scammed by a Scammer
I am a great fan of this theme Void - Onepage Parallax Personal Portfolio Templates. I am a User Experience Engineering Architect and playing a lot of roles. I would like to bring to everyone's notice that someone is misusing or inappropriately scraping the theme and reselling it at a lower price, claiming they are an affiliate of ThemeForest.
So what happened was, as any designer / developer / student does, I wanted to buy the theme somewhere cheaper and I met a person at Facebook, who goes by the name Amit Kumar, where he mentioned in one of the posts that he has unlimited access to all the ThemeForest themes:
I was feeling delighted and happy to find that I can get the theme from him and thought of striking a deal with him. I kept on asking the licensing part as I would like to buy all the themes genuinely licensed from ThemeForest, and since I was in the holiday mood, I couldn't think much this time and went ahead and asked him for how to get the theme and he asked me to pay the invoice and once the invoice is paid, he claims the following happens:
- Invoice will be checked manually for payment.
- The ThemeForest File will be download by their developers.
- The downloaded file will be thoroughly scanned and vetted for issues. (Do they think ThemeForest developers / vetting specialists are fools?)
- They will repack the file, so essentially they are tampering the original file.
- They will send me a download link that expires in a record time in an email.
- I should download the file, and if I fail to download in that time, it might not be available.
- There are no dispute mechanisms available for the same.
I was kind of okay as I am getting a ThemeForest Theme worth 19 USD at less than three fourth of it's price for 6.99 USD. After a few moments of thinking (I have to mention that I was travelling during that time and I had my personal problems along with me) and I trusted the guy and paid the invoice. This is the worst thing that happened to me for trusting some a hole and investing my time and money. Not sure when would Indians (yep, me too) would become trustworthy.
When things have already been crazy for this year, we had an End of Year shock in two ways. One, due to the cold climate or so, my nose started bleeding. To combat that, I and my wife went to the Royal Victoria Infirmary, and found no good. Upon returning home, we noticed that her phone was missing. We almost tried literally everywhere to find the phone, but to no avail. Not sure if it is worth lodging a complaint.
There are a few website upgrades and blog design updates. Previously I was running my blog on a beta version of the platform. Now I have upgraded it to a stable one and not only that, I have also upgraded to an AJAX based design so that the user experience is really seamless. I really would like to bring in the ease of reading the blog as in Medium.com.
Also I have planned to release a post every week. Happy blogging and developing!