Death Markets

I wrote this in a mail to the Satin group. This was in response to a mail by Amit Varma talking about priests in Haridwar who conduct the pre-ashes-dunking ceremony, and their fees, and the bargaining, and what could be a decent solution for the problem. I thought it might make sense as a standalone post, so I’m reproducing it here.

Continue reading “Death Markets”

Weddings and getting back in touch

Traditional South Indian Wedding

Day 0 Evening: Groom and family arrive. They are welcomed and the bride’s parents worship the groom (vara pooje)

Day 1 Morning: Wedding

Day 1 Evening: Reception

Day 2 Morning: Some pooja, etc.

Day 2 Evening: Groom and family kidnap bride and go off

Modern South Indian Wedding

Day 0 Early Evening: Groom and family arrive. They are welcomed and the bride’s parents worship the groom (vara pooje)

Day 0 Late Evening: Reception

Day 1 Morning: Wedding

Day 1 Evening: Groom and family kidnap bride and go off

Today I went to my second ever North Indian wedding. Here is what I gathered from it.

Day 0 Early Evening: Groom and family arrive. They are welcomed and the bride’s parents worship the groom (vara pooje)
(of course here there’s full fanfare and naach-gaana and all that)

Day 0 Late Evening: Reception

Day 0 Night: Wedding

Day 0 Later Night (technically Day 1 morning): Groom and family kidnap bride and go off

At the wedding tonight, I bumped into her. After the initial pleasantaries and confirmation that we had indeed recognized each other after eight long years, there was nothing left to say.


I’m off on a pilgrimage tonight. My mom, for a long time wanted to visit Horanadu and Sringeri and for some reason she’s had to keep postponing it. Finally, taking advantage of my joblessness we are going tonight, along with two of my mom’s cousins.

We’ll be back on Saturday morning so till then my blog will be on? break (ok I haven’t been too regular of late so the break might not mean much). It’ll also mean that I’ll be off email and GTalk and BRacket and all that.

Nevertheless, I hope to be twittering continuously. I got my twitter to work (the helpdesk got back to me saying that the india short code is facing some problems nowadays so I should use the international thing). This is my twitter page:
And this is the RSS feed:

Being a jack of many trades

Earlier today, I had written that bosses are unlikely to trust employees who they think have the option of easily quitting their jobs. I had made the point back then that you shouldn’t take a job for which you are over-qualified.

Thinking about it, it strikes me that if you are versatile, you face a similar kind of problem. Suppose you have the necessary skill sets to do say four different kinds of jobs, and are doing one, irrespective of where you go, your boss will think there is a good chance you might take flight to one of the other jobs. Now, if the potential bosses think like this during the interview itself, there is a good chance that none of them is willing to hire you!

From the point of view of long-term stability, what most bosses are looking for is for focussed and committed employees. And unless your “skills vector” points broadly in the same direction of the required skills for the job, the cross product will be big enough to cause concerns over stability in the mind of the interviewer.

One option, of course, is to focus on one particular direction and forget your other skills, so that the component of your skills vector in this particular direction will dwarf the components in other directions, thus reducing the cross product when compared to the job profile skills vector. But what do you do if, at a particular point of time in your career, you are a jack-of-several-trades – like I am at this point of time? You need to be able to do something now before you are able to improve in a component.

You might appreciate the following analogy if you understand contract bridge. What do you do with a hand where in each of the four suits, both you and your partner are reasonably strong, while there is no single strong suit? You need to choose a trump, and may end up choosing the longest of suits. But due to this choice, you may not be able to use your high cards in the other suits to the fullest extent.

Bridge offers a way out for this, by allowing you to bid for a no trump contract. The challenge here is to find the equivalent of a no trump contract in the job market.

Speaking to Baada about this, we somehow thought this too might fit in with the seminal studs and fighters framework. It is likely (not guaranteed, but likely) that a stud boss may just look at the magnitude of the skills vector and the unique direction it points to and say “OK if i train this guy in my direction, i’m sure he’ll grow quickly along that and will be useful to me”. My little experience says that fighters are more likely to look for “proven track record in chosen field” and “focus” and would thus not be too appreciative of a big cross product.


i think i’m going to have some free time in the first week of may. i used to have this plan of randomly touring karnataka. and despite the heat, i think this would be a good time to do it. also, given that it’s election time, I think i can get lots more insights from my proposed tour.

i hope i can get someone to sponsor this trip. in return i’ll blog about it for them, and write maybe three articles per day about my travels and insights. Hell, I’ll be doing a grassroot level election coverage for them! So I’ll definitely be adding valoo.

i wonder how to approach this problem. can someone please suggest?