Tuesday, December 09, 2008

Microsoft interviews and Live Butterfly Exhibit

About 6-7 months back my interviews at Microsoft for internship wasn't much of a pleasurable experience, though I got through. I was open about the criticism and talked about it at length with my Recruiting Coordinator when she had come down to Pitt some time after my Google internship. She intently took lot of notes and said she shall see to it that this time (for full-time job interviews) skill-set to team matching is relevant.

Large Tiger From Seattle Trip and Live Butterfly Exhibit

So, around Mid-October, the time when interviewing activity was at its peak and all I did was give interviews and telephonic interviews had pretty much become an integral part of daily ritual... Everything is set and I'm about to board the plane to Seattle. As I step inside the plane, air hostess greeted me and my cell went off. Call from my travel agent from Microsoft... her opening statement was 'Dear Atul, your interview has been postponed'. W@F! Before I could react or actually swear, she added, 'As in, instead of 9am it will start at 12 pm'. ~~phew~~ I was so relieved, plus I would get extra 3hrs to rummage through those algos! I landed safely in Seattle, checked-in my hotel, took a nice refreshing shower, read some more algos, and crashed into the soft spongy bed covered in cleanest possible white sheets. I can't sleep well in soft bedding but I love them nonetheless. Everything was going smoothly, kinda too smoothly. Something is not right, my intuition nagged me!

Well past midnight, suddenly my body started itching... relieved that my intuition wasn't entirely amiss but with mounting irritation I got up and took a sponge bath with ice-cold water to placate the growing itch. Before crashing again I checked the sheets, never heard of ants in US but just to be sure... Lo and Behold! I was shocked! I was almost speechless. I saw a few bed-bugs out there! I was stunned. Quiet frankly, I had never seen those blood-sucking-bugs before! The fact that these have been sucking my blood for few hours and were bloody red by now, sent creeps through me!

I called the manager and he rushed in incessantly showering apologies. Instead of getting furious at him, I politely asked him to move me to better room. Having felt that something crept over my legs, I kept waking up with a jolt every few minutes for the next two hours. I know this sounds funny, but it actually happened! Damn! What a way to start interview day! I was a little apprehensive and my mood was pretty dull the morning I woke up. Seattle's eternal gloomy weather didn't help my mood. And the itch (which by the way lasted for well over a month!) only fueled my restlessness.

At Microsoft, I met my on-site coordinator and she told me where my first interviewer will be. He's from Filesystem-and-Storage team, she said. That did cheer me up a little but I was still apprehensive about the remaining 5-6 interviewers who would follow. But as the day unfolded, I was getting happier, because every other interviewer was from the same team! And I should say every one of them was impressive. By end of the day, I had already cooked up
dreams and fantasies about being part of this group!

I so throughly enjoyed the interviews and was so excited by end of the day, that when I met Buffy I was going on and on and on about how the interviews were, what each one of them asked, how impressive all the people I met were, and why I want to be part of this group and blah blah.

The next day, I met my old-time colleague and junior, Mahesh, aka VAM. He too had to hear some of the ramblings and so did Anna (aka Arun) on my way back to Pitt later that day. I told VAM that I had seen Live Butterfly Exhibit from a distance the last time I was in the town. This time I want to see it from inside. He confessed that he haven't a clue where such a thing is. But I was insistent that I indeed saw it for sure, so after some Google'ing we found it! Thanks to VAM! And while I took 300+ photos in just 2 hours, he was very patient even while his stomach was growling with hunger! He later dropped me to airport and my wonderful 3-days trip to Seattle came to an abrupt end!

Back home at Pitt, though, I was a little happier and energetic being than I was when I left for interviews.

As I just got over with my last exam today, I wanted to unwind. So I spent good part of 6+hrs on the harrowing task of swifting through 300+ photos, re-touching the odd 50 that I shortlisted and tagging each of the butterflies with correct name. I then
spent well over an hour cooking this post. If only I had more time and a tripod on that trip, I could have had better and many more photos.

Now, you deserve to see the beauties I clicked...

  1. Photos from Seattle Trip and Live Butterfly Exhibit
  2. Tropical Butterfly House at Pacific Science Center

Tuesday, December 02, 2008

Interesting Mumma at the gym

Today while I was working out on cross-trainer at the gym, I saw an amazing feat... While I was drenched in sweat, a beautiful lady (maybe in her late twenties) walked in. She had a very cute baby strapped to her belly/chest. I was wondering what is this lady doing here. She cleaned the cross trainer besides me, set up the magazine on the display board and gleefully hopped on to it! Man, she wanted to workout!

From the corner of my eye I saw her reading the magazine, working on cross-trainer, taking care of her baby strapped on to her chest and also talking on phone to somebody. I wasn't eavesdropping, but I bet the mommy was talking to older of her kids who might be old enough to be away from her for a few minutes. I guess she was consoling her... "Honey, mumma will be back home soon :)"

I could not help but stare at her a few times, and also the cute little baby. I smiled to myself, wondering her resolve to take care of everything all at once. All I hope is she didn't think I was laughing at her. Because quiet contrary, I was in fact considering her in very high regards. I didn't know precisely how to react, but I did spend a few moments wondering about her. And how highly would the kid think of her mumma when he grows up to be a sensible person. Besides, maybe this is a gross generalization, but I think that women are a little more efficient at multi-tasking then men, at least it is true of most women I have observed in India.

Kudos to all you women juggling many things at a time!

---- edit----
A verdict from an experienced buddy of mine, W0lf (aka Anshuman), who commented on this post, reproducing here where it is more likely to be noticed, only because I second that opinion:

As a married man, I have to agree :-). The best women are definitely better than the best of men ;-).