The Rise and Fall of the Third Reich with Google+

William L. Shirer’s chronicles of Nazi Germany is a best-seller in it own merits. I haven’t read it. And from the likes of it, never will.

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Just like the above definition, today’s story also revolves around three nations. Nations not representing any physical form, but the virtual world of eNations. Lets face it, every time we read about how Facebook could be the 3rd largest nation in the world; we sit back and wonder; what privileges do we enjoy as citizens of Facebook-land?

Well today’s discussion is not about how great Facebook is or what would world be like if we used Facebook identities as passport replacements (although that would be pretty awesome). Rather this discussion is about how 3 distinct e-players shaped the world of social media forever.

If you haven’t figured out who these 3 players are, that’s too bad. I didn’t expect you to be reading this. Period! Kudos to you for sticking to it regardless.

The mother of it all was Myspace. Myspace introduced us to the power of social networking, reigning supreme as the most visited site on web between 2005 to 2008 and then made way for its eventual killers (first Google and thereon Facebook). And in spite of multiple site redesigns and celebrity ownerships; myspace went on a steady decline never to recover again.

The second was the killer of the first, the infamous Facebook. Facebook was smart in every way possible. It was created in an Ivy League for Ivy Leaguers by an Ivy League dropout (The Social Man). He was a shrewd man who looked deceivingly geeky; the perfect recipe to success in a league of (supposed) ultra-smart Ivy Leaguers.

But just as the Third Reich, one would naturally expect the most from the 3rd entrant, Google+. They had the time to learn and no-nonsense backing of a demigod (yes, Google) in their favor. Add to that a not-so-smart enforcement of all Gmail and YouTube users to sign up for it.

But what the Googlers (Eric, Larry and Brin) failed to realize was how Hitler himself had to settle for taking his own life at the end. And unfortunately for Mr. Vic Gundotra, history repeated itself. Google+ is history and so shall be his forceful legacy.

Perhaps the next blog will be called The Fourth Kind, but we’ll have to wait out a while to see that happen. Twitter faces an acquisition threat every few months and WeChat is too Chinese to be messed around with for now. And now with Instagram and Whatsapp by his side, Zucky Zohan will make the internet population silky-smooth!

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The PYRAMID Theory: The Golden Rule of Switching Careers

We are all more or less familiar with the term jump ship.
Even if we weren’t, just about each and every one of us has (at some point of his/her career) been involved in it.

A few years ago in a discussion with a few of my colleagues back at Ogilvy, I had presented this theory on “the quickest way to climb the career ladder”. Authentic or not, just about everyone from that day’s discussion have somewhat put it to good use.

The Pymarid TheoryThe idea was quite simple actually. We’ve all read about the great Maslow’s “Hierarchy of Needs“, we are all aware of how the climb to the top is always saved for a lucky few. What we don’t express is how we all can in some way or the other make it to the top of the game at the end. Considering how the career pyramid has just about the same layers across industries and corporations alike, you’ll notice its only the sub-layering that can be rather broad, leaving the barebone to be mostly same.

So this is how it works,

  • A Midlevel Manager looking after Google Search can switch to a Leadership position at Bing.
  • A Junior Manager looking after Google Search can switch to a Midlevel position at Bing or Lead at a startup like DuckDuckGo.
  • Don’t even contemplate being a Fresher at Google and found a service like Leap2.

From a local perspective it could be,

  • A Midlevel Manager at Unilever can switch to a Leadership position at Marico.
  • A Junior Manager looking after Unilever can switch to a Midlevel position at Marico or Lead at a local house like Akij.
  • Don’t even contemplate being a Fresher at Unilever and found a company of your own like Sumon’s Aroma.

I obviously had envisioned it in terms of advertising agencies in Bangladesh, and my colleague left to join another agency after some time. However I myself didn’t follow my own model and decided on switching industries for my next career move.

Was it right? Was it a mistake? That only time will tell.

Career switching consists of only scope and opportunity cost. Question is…how much?

Journey of the Spirit | The Bottomline

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The earlier posts were intended to build a hype or just share the rush of blood I was experiencing preparing for such a trip. It was absolutely unexpected from me (judging by my past of even previous posts in this blog) to make a trip of such spiritual fulfillment!

Things NOT TO DO

  1. Rent a hotel/hostel/apartment beyond 500 meters off  the Masjid al-Haram .You are there to offer as many waqts of salat as possible at the Masjid al-Haram. Practically its borderline impossible to pray 5 times a day at the mosque, do tawaf as you wish and still be able answer the calls of nature and hunger frequently.
  2. Try to kiss/touch (or worse give a flying kiss) the Hajre-Aswad. This is something you learn by at least burning your tongue once. We all want to touch the famed black stone from the heavens in an effort to purify our sinful selves. Although it is encouraged to kiss the stone if you get a chance, dying while trying isn’t so. With the number of pilgrims doing tawaf any given time of the day, I believe this privilege calls for Herculean efforts.
  3. Save up on zamzam as opposed to consume it. We all have families asking for exclusive prayers and a gulp of zamzam to every possible hajis, but if all are busy saving gallons after gallons to consume it later; what’s the point of being there at the first place. For all you know, most countries sell zamzam water through various legal and illegal channels. But one mustn’t forget, a gulp of zamzam after a tiresome tawaf or umrah is a feeling unlike any other. Coming from a person who is fiercely loyal to his choice of drinks, this is a fact!
  4. Behave. Lets face it, we are there at The House of Allah to worship. There is no first or second prize tied to it, nor is there any physical measure of closeness to The Almighty. Its in our hearts and it is between you and Allah. Keep it to that and let others be. Pushing, shoving or

Things TO DO

  1. Spend as much time at the Masjid al-Haram as possible. No brainer, you are there for that reason alone.
  2. Take the VIP bus to Medinah. Just to be safe and sure, the VIP buses are operated by SAPTCO are best for travelling between the two holy cities. Unless you are too smart to take a plane ride, this is THE OPTION to take.

This is just one man’s opinion for now. But Umrah is a destination for all, so would request my readers to add more to the lists 🙂

Journey of the Spirit | The First View

They say first impression is always the last impression. And apparently that first impression is made within the first (and lucky) seven seconds. And its not like we put it in practise for job interviews or business presentations, think of love at first sight!

After we huddled and cuddled through a million pilgrims to find a place to offer our Jumu’ah prayers, we were met with a sight only a few get to experience.

Standing near Misfalah looking towards The Kabbah
Standing near Misfalah looking towards The Ka’aba

I heard a Muslim scholar say that it is only one out of every 100,000 Muslims that get a chance to perform Umrah or Hajj. Looking at the picture above, it surely gave me the pride of being amongst the select few.

As we offered our prayers sitting smack in the middle of usually busy road, the absence of a prayer mat (thanks to my stupid rush earlier) or the fact that my wife and I prayed side by side were overtaken by the sheer excitement and amazement of being at the foothills of The House of Allah .

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Right after Jumu’ah prayers

My dearest wife offered me the option to complete the Umrah rituals at night since it was Friday and just about the whole Saudi Muslim population were there at the gates of Ka’aba. But I couldn’t resist the opportunity to get on with it right there, right now!!!

Journey of the Spirit | The Kingdom

How long does it normally take to go from Dhaka to Jeddah? The answer would range between 7 to 12 hours; 7 if it is a direct flight, 12 or so if flying via a stopover.

We flew direct and it still took us 13 hours. And the usual culprit, Biman, was in no way responsible this time.

In fact a rather comfortable ride in a Biman plane that actually had inflight entertainment and palatable food was a pleasant surprise. The so-called Enemy no. 1 of Biman (as per local newspapers), Mr. Kevin Steele, seems to have done a good job of (trying to) turn the sinking ship around. Unfortunately for him though, a new B777-300ER with 419 passengers must be serviced not only with a good pilot and decent choice of movies, but also good inflight service. This concept of hospitality  is where Biman still has a long way to go.

The stewardesses were no less than my mother’s age and I am not bluffing when I say my mom probably looks younger :p. Ihram and unfriendly biman-balas don’t go together. While the 7-hour flight in an Ihram was hectic enough, the crew’s sheer disinterest in listening and total lack of competency was disappointing (if not irritating). Even my usually chilled-out wife got into a tussle with them after a good 45-minutes of calling for them while we heard them chatter away in the crew zone.

But still, I was very impressed with Biman (notice the absence of we).

The Jeddah Airport (not even the Hajj Terminal) looks like it was made during the Gulf War for emergency troop landing and evacuation. Ask why? Well wartime airports handle a lot of passengers in and out but don’t really need to offer any added services. Such is the case of Jeddah Airport as well. Except for one food court and 5 to 7 no-gooder outlets selling god knows what, there was nothing. Literally, nothing!

But the best was yet to come 🙂

As we quickly maneuvered through the lines we were met with a line of some sort (resembling the size of the Great Wall actually). We were both in high spirits and quickly made a few Bangladeshi friends. Previously, in Dhaka we have stood out almost an hour and a half in immigration, so a line full of noble-minded Hajis seemed like a breeze.

Four hours later, we had inched 10 steps forward when an officer announced that the women weren’t allowed to stand in this line and would have to go join a female only line at the other end. My wife and her newly made friends had to leave their Mahrams behind and reluctantly make their way to the back of yet another long line.

In our line, time just didn’t seem to pass. And after four and a half hours as I stood ten feet away from the long-awaited immigration desk an argument had started between the Bangladeshis and some Indonesians who were trying to break into the line. As the commotion attracted the attention of the airport authorities we all felt like justice would be served.

The result? This Deshi Bhai and I were asked to go back to the end of the line. Simply because we happened to be within earshot of the officer who’s idea of sorting this mess was forcing anyone closest to him to leave the line. Like literally the end of the line. By then two more flights had landed and it was longer than ever.

Wife and the other women were through by then and most of my Bangladeshi friends were almost through as well. Meanwhile I waited on; patiently counting hours behind some bullying Turks and rowdy Arabs.

I finally made it through at 10 30 am; a painful six and a half hours since I had initially stood in line.

The long road to repentance had just begun!!!

Journey of the Spirit | The Airport

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Toweled up and ready to roll!

So made it to the airport after a bit of getting used to in Ihram. The closest to this in my imagination was a Lungi, and you are right if you imagined a South Indian look for me.

After enjoying Chennai Express thoroughly and being a big fan of Rajnikanth Jokes, I felt and looked like the Mahatma as soon as I was clad in white. Although my not so progressive wife believed otherwise and kept insisting on how my current look and feel is to resemble only piece of clothing you are allowed to wear when facing Allah, the Kafan.

Enlightenment aside I am really excited about the Biman B777s. Being an aircraft enthusiast for life, finally there is a plane to ride that carries the national flag with pride.

Had a bit of an episode with this so-called international SIM service provider Matrix. To my disbelief they gave us two SIMs with 20 Riyals of talk time for FREE! Yes, FREE!!!

I was so intrigued by tier business model I actually told them my job as a telecom professional to get a conversation going. Although the sales reps didn’t know much, they surely did try to rip us off by initially saying the SIMs will cost us 200 Taka each.

But just as every other time in tho trip, wife intervened. She calmly asked, “Aren’t these supposed to be free?”. As I tried to brush her away, clearly puzzled and uncomfortable the guys at the counter yes, “Oh yes, we have that as well”.

So much for earning a cent of Sawab by not trying to cheat pilgrims :p

Well the coffee shop guy was unusually nice though. He offered a 10 Taka discount on a 80 Taka bill. Wife things these are all small bursts of blessings from above.

Let’s wait to see the plane 🙂

Journey of the Spirit | The Preparation

It comes naturally. To you, me and everyone around us.

Religion is a spiritual journey that is bound to touch our lives at some point of time. For some it happens early thanks to the surroundings, to others it is more of a self-discovery instigated by anything between curiosity to a life-changing event. The later being the most common (what were you expecting?).

Sorry to disappoint you, I somehow haven’t fully realized when my time would come. I feel connected. To the Almighty, to all His sayings an the ones of His Messenger; but that ticking alarm clock inside myself is somehow on a “snooze”. It’s like I accidentally pushed snooze while it was calling out for me to wake up. Wake up and see what I have been missing out on. The gratefulness to Allah I was avoiding to show.

Hey, I am no fundo (aka. fundamentalist). The fact I use a word like fundo should suffice for that.

I always believed I was that Progressive Muslim that really is nothing but a person in a confused state of religious belief. I didn’t realize that overnight. Nor was this acknowledgement an easy thing to admit. But as the wise men say, “better late than never”.

The past year has been one of the most fulfilling and exciting time of my life. I got married. And looking at those millions of gorgeous wedding ceremonies and suave honeymooners one might tend to believe that is it. Whereas it was quite the opposite.

Being married had more things to offer than a lifetime of companions had in stock. It was incomparable, never thought of and perhaps never to be experience that I look forward to repeat for years a to come InshAllah.

I am lucky (Alhamdulillah) to be completing a year of being with the love of my life, the woman I wanted to be with the very moment I saw her. And this is a story of the journey I took to celebrate this memorable year at the most magical of places in the most holier of manners.

My travelogue of our 1st anniversary is also where I wish my spirit would hear it’s calling.

I am going for Umrah to the holiest of all places, to be in His house. A guest, a pilgrim, a believer!

My wife and I after a lot of planning, failing and waiting could finally secure the visas for Umrah on Jan 20th. We owe a great deal to my ever-supportive father and his cousin, who’s travel agency actually got the deal through for us. From MOFA to an all Arabic visa with hyroglaphic written all over it, my passport returned in a desolate state. Visa and Bangladeshi Passport don’t seem to get along so well lately. Perhaps we should look at MasterCard :p

my bashed up passport finally arrives
my bashed up passport finally arrives

The trip planning was on for over a month now. Being the OCDed travel junkie I was, I had surprisingly left all the findings and activities to my beloved. Perhaps the reason she had been there a few times before and was far superior a Muslim and Human in every aspect of life was a game-changer.

She didn’t let me down. She panicked, chilled, complained yet at the end, I believe came up with a solid travel itinary. From Tawaf briefs to Ihram trials, she made sure it was all covered. I mean she even got the adrenaline addict out of me by offering the opportunity to climb the holy Cave Hira or Jabal al-Nour. What happened to that will be unveiled in a few days though *wink*. High on excitement for that (that’s again the progressive Muslim in me talking).

So the flight is tonight. At 1130 pm to e exact. The fact which might put a lot of you off is again making me excited now, we are flying Biman. The carrier from my childhood days. The birdy from my country, a sexy new B777!

Branding explained

The story goes like this…

The year was 2007. A  young daydreaming adman in pursuit of savings (like everyone else) invests in digital assets by spending a few minutes to differentiate himself. It was no exhaustive personal branding effort, not did it have any monetizing attributes. It was a clear and simple eccentric move on my behalf. A move that after half-a-decade looks like this, S@B!H

Successful? cliched? pointless? why? what the? lost it?

I don’t have an answer yet. But I would however be interested to know how you do it!

An apt quote on “personal branding” from the
Father of Modern Advertising!

 

The Uselessness Syndrome

For as long I can remember, the driving force behind all my endeavors has been a single cause. A single fear.

The fear of waking up one mine morning to realize, I am useless.

As our societies embrace the vices of capitalism, the dream of equality and justice takes a step closer to oblivion. The rich get to live in Elysium, while the poor are stuck at District 9. That is where the world is headed, and the reason my fear never burns down.

Unhealthy competition nurtured by unrealistic compensations have turned us into guinea pigs on a rat race to the mirage of success. And with my outdated degree, outspoken stance and out-of-style hairdo; I am constantly living on the edge of self-doubt.

Today we need to learn, act and earn faster than ever before, kids are the smartest in human history, dissatisfaction and divorce rates are higher than ever and listening to your heart equates to an unstable state of mind; however the absolute truth of life remain unchanged from yesteryear.

Content(ment) is king.

And in the words of Lao Tzu,

“Be content with what you have; rejoice in the way things are.
When you realize there is nothing lacking, the whole world belongs to you.”