7 facts about the VAC & US Consulate Visa Center, Chennai.

Very recently, I had the opportunity to apply for a US Visa, and thankfully, get it approved as well. However, it was not without its troublesome and frustrating moments, a few of which I’d like to list down so that you can brace yourselves.

Keep in mind that the interview happens across two days:

The first day is at the VAC, behind the Good Shepherd square on the Kodambakam high road. They will scan your fingerprint and then take your mug shot.

The second day is at The Consulate itself. You’ll have your Visa interview here.

1. The VAC respects your time slot.

When you reach the VAC, you will be greeted with a humongous queue outside the walls. Worry not. The watchman at the gate respects the time slots that people applied for. If you just walk up to the front of the queue and show your appointment confirmation, he will let you through provided your time slot is within the next half an hour.

2. The VAC allows mobile phones inside.

You can take your cell phones inside. At one of the gates, they will ask you to take it out, and switch it off in front of them. You will be scanned thoroughly and asked to display any metallic object on you, including keys, your wallet and even your belt, if you have one.

3. The sign!

You’ll see a very… peculiar sign board outside the gates saying “DS form correction done very quickly and very cheap. Contact auto stand”. A couple of us had a nice laugh reading that loud again and again. Apparently, the first step at the VAC is checking for discrepancy in your DS forms. I did not see anyone being sent back, but make sure to have exactly the same details both on your passport and your DS form.

4. The Consulate does not care about your time slot.

I had booked the time slot for 8:00AM. When I reached near the embassy at around 7:35AM, there was this massive queue outside the walls, outside the barricade on the side walk. This was apparently the queue to just get inside the barricade that takes you to the door that will lead you inside the walls of the Consulate.

I went and queued up. A minute later, I simply asked the person in front of me whether he was there for the 8:00AM slot. He graciously replied that he was there for the 10:30AM appointment! I felt a shudder down my spine. Frustrated, I walked over onto the front through the highway (yes, we are queuing on the sidewalk of a highway) just beside the queue. Before I could ask the person standing there in a purple tucked in shirt and black pants regarding time slots, a couple of police officers came and shoved the few of us there on the highway back to the rear of the queue. All of them only spoke Tamil, so whatever I tried to communicate in English fell on deaf ears and they waved us all back to the rear.

Within these 5 minutes, the queue had grown to a +15 people. I went and stood behind them, patiently. By the time the queue was half done (it was 7:52AM then), a certain gentleman came up from the rear of the queue and asked me my time slot. Upon hearing my reply, he said his was at 8:30AM and asked me whether he could stand behind me in the queue. After a minute, I asked him to hold my place. I again went over the front and boldly stepped up to the man in purple shirt.

He was a very gentle and calm person who had just the right words for any sort of query you put to him.

He’d say: “Queue”.

I tried phrasing my concern of the 8:00AM appointment in three different ways to which I got the “Queue” answer all three times. I went back and joined the queue. All this while, all the other time slot people ranging from 8:30AM to 11:00AM went ahead in front of me.

5. The Consulate strictly forbids you from taking in any mobile phones, bags, pen drives, etc.

Even though this was clearly written on the appointment confirmation, I thought it was ridiculous that they would really expect people to not show up with cell phones. I mean, I had just taken an Uber to get to the place!

Suffice to say, after passing the initial purple shirt guy and getting inside the barricade, the security guard outside the front door thoroughly searches everyone and just says “No cell phones, pen drives and bags allowed inside”. No debate there.

6. The “Personal belongings deposit counter!”

Ha, this is great. While you would notice a small metal cart being manned by two shabbily dressed old gentlemen with these words above written on them standing in your way while you make your way into the barricade, you’ll most probably brush away the feeling that it has anything to do with you. Well, like it or not, if you have any belongings with you that is not allowed inside the embassy, then your only option is to drop it off at this small metal cart!

Unless of course, you have another person (friend / family) waiting for you on the highway being hauled by the police every other minute or so.

Suffice to say, I had to give my Moto G3 and Nokia 2690 phones at this counter in order to get into the embassy. They charge 10 bucks for safe keeping. They will print two receipts with your passport number on them, one of which you will have to sign which they will keep, and the other to keep with you.

NOTE: You might find people desperately hunting for 10 rupees to pay these safe keeping gentlemen. If you happen to see anyone like that, have a mind to just give the 10 rupees and help them out.

7. Special language queues.

I think that we enter our primary language or “Language in which I would like to have my Visa interview in” at some point while filling up our application form. The thing is, if your application has this “language” field as anything other than “English”, then you will be taken out of the primary queue, and given another language queue, for each languages (Malayalam, Kannada, Telugu, Tamil). These queues have seats. So you can sit and relax while waiting for your chance while all the “English” language people have to wait in this huge queue waiting for at least 40 minutes to get your chance.

Well, that’s about it. Just thought of sharing these points so that you know these are for real.

Apart from these, I booked my accommodation at St. Xavier’s guest house for 650 bucks a night. I must say these people put the word “budget” in “budget hotel”! It was good enough for a one night stay, but if you’re the type who wants everything to be crystal clean and well serviced, then this might not be the place for you.

Also, while you’re waiting for the interview in the queue, you can actually see others’ interviews being conducted right in front of you at all the counters. You will see interesting questions, emotions, rejections and acceptances as well. Be strong and be confident. If your case is solid, then you don’t need to worry.

I got my B1/B2 Visa and am pretty excited about attending & speaking at Djangocon in two weeks!

Many thanks to Elizabeth from Chinnocio for helping me out with the Visa application process.

Help me pick a story.

At times when you least expect it, is when you suddenly get a whiff of a lovely idea for a story. I’ve had more than a few such instances and even though a few of those ideas have materialized into stories on this blog, I’ve lost even more due to putting it off for another time.

This is the way I found in order to let those ideas remain, so that I have one to pick from whenever I feel like writing. Below, you can find the ideas that I have in mind right now. As much as this is just a reminder/reference for me, I’m putting this up as a blog post so that you can tell me which story you would like me to write first. Leave a comment if you feel like it.

Currently started drafts:
——————————-
1. A long life, and a few last words.

Last words of an old Tree.

2. The Lost Ones.

The land of characters made up by authors, who never make it to books.

Lingering ideas:
———————

1. The Seed of Eternity.

His journey seeking the seed of eternity. Believed to contain the entire history of Earth, passed on from generation to generation. A certain plant/tree or a community of them are responsible for guarding and nourishing the seed of eternity within each generation before passing it onto the next. His quest leads him to places unknown, where he learns the language of the Green and listens to the stories they have to say.

2. The Village of Kadur.

A remote village located at the foot of a mountain range. The arrival of the supply truck that reaches Kadur once every year is considered to be the Holy day. Celebrations and Festivals happen around the day the truck arrives. Even the elders of the village remember the truck reaching Kadur on the same day every year since their childhood. The story speaks about the mysterious driver, and about that day when the truck does not show up…

3. His Journey to Salvation. (Half baked story idea)

Software Engineers, heroes of the digital world. The days of yore and the stories of brave knights and brave adventurers setting out on dangerous journeys to slay the dragon or fetch the Excalibur are over. With planes, automobiles and arms, they are heroes no more. The world today is at the fingertip of people who command the greatest knowledge over the digital world. Their nemeses fight hidden and are never known. Join our hero as he sets off on his quest to brave the odds and slay the nemesis once and for all, saving our World and restoring peace to the era.

Weekend PythonExpress workshop at BMSIT, Bangalore.

Arun taking it away!

That’s Arun. Jovial, cool, slightly crazy and a nice guy who is as curious as a 5 year old all the time about the things happening around him.

Santosh, the celebrity of BSMIT.

That’s Santosh. Don’t get him started on being sarcastic. He’ll just have too much fun. A pure geek since his college days, there are very few people around whom he is not acquainted with.

Yours truly.

Last but not the least, yours truly.

Arun, Santosh and I planned to do a beginner level Python workshop at the BMSIT Engineering college as a part of the Python Express initiative. Karthik, who was the organizer, was only too happy to welcome us. The three of us decided to use Anand’s Python Practice Book as a guide. We were planning to cover until Object Oriented Programming. However, there was no point in rushing through.

The idea was to get the kids comfortable with Python. Both Arun and Santosh realized this very well. During the introductory session, which was handled by Arun, he quickly gauged that most of the students were not even comfortable using the interpreter. He took his time, teaching them about variables, strings and conditional statements, by giving them enough exercises to work on as well as using his incredible humour and charm to keep the crowd engaged.

Arun - The man.

Only Santosh and I knew it was his first ever session. No one could have guessed. He was in the zone and a couple of kids came and personally thanked him for making the introduction so welcoming that they were motivated to sit through the entire session. One of them even skipped lunch to stay back!

Way to go Arun!

He finished his session by 12:20PM when we broke for lunch. The lunch was exceptionally good and we had a full stomach by the end of it. We got back and it was about time for Santosh to start his session.

The poor guy had a really sore throat. We tried to arrange speakers, but they were even less audible than one’s voice. In a room with ~100 young, energetic, curious youth, you had to shout at the top of your voice to have your voice heard. That is exactly what Santosh did.

Santosh in charge.

He lost himself among the crowd and did not care about his voice. He had a keen sense of understanding the audience well and dynamically changing his presentation style to suit them.

We had a box of chocolates around. Every time someone finishes a problem first, they are awarded a delicious chocolate! We really needed to buy a bigger box.

Gauging the exhaustion on the face of many, we decided to wrap up our workshop around 4 by finishing off a quick peep into file handling.

I must say it felt good to have been back at a college. When I was roaming around the lab, I noticed most of them earnestly taking down notes in a notebook out of the fear that they would be missing some point. To one of the guys, I asked,

“Hey, will you really be referring back to these notes again?”

He: “Absolutely! Not all of it, but many points in it”.

“Alright”, I said and went around.

While I was passing this young man a second time, he called me and said,

“To be honest, no. I don’t think I will be referring to this at all”

“Thanks for not lying to me”, I said with a smile.

It was good to meet Karthik, who was the one coordinating the entire thing. It was interesting to know he was a Linux Kernel lover who was cracking his head on getting deep into it. Dharshan, his friend, one with a very soothing personality, was a great help in getting us around the venue as well as with the setup.

I did not get to know many of their names, but I remember Aranya, a college student who is an “investment consultant”. Yeah, no kidding. I have his card right here. Also Utkash, who was really keen on getting to understand the intricacies of the Internet. Then there was Kunal, who was from the EEE stream, but interested in programming. A very enthusiastic lad.

All in all, it was a day well spent. Malaysia was extremely fun (long story) and after hanging around the front gate for a while, our cab came at around 5 and we were on our way.

I should do this more often.

ย 

An introduction to Redis – PyCon Singapore 2014.

The following is the transcript of the talk “Redis – What, why and where” that I gave at PyCon Singapore 2014. You can find the slides down below. Try as I might, I was not able to embed the slides from slides.com. So I have shared the links.

My talk was on Friday, 20th June, 2014 at 1:00PM.

—-

Ladies and gentlemen,

Do you know what my prayer was the moment I knew I got my talk selected? That I would not be allocated a slot right after lunch. Yet here we are.

You must be wondering why a dude from India has come all the way over to Singapore and is giving a talk on Redis at a Python conference. Well, I believe you’ll have the answers to those questions by the time I am done with my talk. This is intended for a beginner level audience and as such, if you have already implemented redis in your stack, then you might be a little disappointed.

There are times when, in your Django web application, you need a certain specific data to be saved. Let me give you an example. Let us say you are gathering all the tweets for the Football World Cup. You hit the Twitter API and tweets are pouring in by the second. How do you keep a counter? Of course, put a Python variable in the loop and keep incrementing.

tweets = fetch_tweets(hashtag = "#WorldCup2014") #Use the Twython Library
count = 0
for tweet in tweets:
    entities = process_tweet(tweet)
    count = count + 1

The only problem is that if another process/view wants to display it, it won’t be able to access it.

Which means you should have persistence. If you’re using Postgres or any other SQL database for that matter, you could have a field that would allow you to keep the count or maybe do a count(*) on your Tweets model each time you want to get the total number of tweets.

#Assume you have defined a model Tweet
count = Tweet.objects.all().count()

The count(*) option is going to get your SQL query to execute quite slow once you have about 20000 rows or so.

#Assume you have defined a model Stat to store the count which has a field tweet_count
Stat.objects.get(hashtag = "#WorldCup2014").update(tweet_count = F('tweet_count') + 1)

The next option being to increment the count within the Postgres field. This has an immense potential to lead you into race conditions and thereby screwing up your count.

So a fast, reliable and persistent solution is to have redis. Believe it or not, you can use this as an actual Database because of its persistence. All you need to do is to get the redis server up and running on your machine, use the redis-py Python library to increment a “key” by one each time a new tweet comes in. You don’t even need to “initialize” the key. The increment command creates a key if it is not already present and increments it. Really neat. Hence, redis is a persistent key-value based NoSQL Data storage.

import redis #We are using the redis-py library
r = redis.StrictRedis()

tweets = fetch_tweets(hashtag = "#WorldCup2014")
for tweet in tweets:
    entities = process_tweet(tweet)
    r.incr("tweets_count", amount = 1)

count = r.get("tweets_count")

Now, persistence is not the only thing that makes Redis useful. Suppose you just don’t stop with counting tweets. You count the pictures, videos and other links form within them. Also, you are doing the same with Facebook as well. Now you have two sources and their corresponding fields. Intuitively, a dictionary comes to mind. Name of one dictionary would be “Twitter” and the other one “Facebook”. Each of them will have fields “statuses”, “photos”, “links”, etc.

Guess what? Redis has a dictionary data type and let’s you do exactly this. The various types of in-built data types that it provides is fantastic. People tend to call it the data structure server due to this reason.

import redis
r = redis.StrictRedis()

tweets = fetch_tweets(hashtag = "#WorldCup2014")
for tweet in tweets:
    entities = process_tweet(tweet)
    r.hincrby("Twitter", "tweets_count", amount = 1)
    if "photo" in entities:
        r.hincrby("Twitter", "photo_count", amount = 1)
    if "video" in entities:
        r.hincrby("Twitter", "video_count", amount = 1)
    if "link" in entities:
        r.hincrby("Twitter", "link_count", amount = 1)

twitter_photos_count = r.hget("Twitter", "photo_count")
...

posts = fetch_fb_posts(hashtag = "#WorldCup2014")
for post in posts:
    entities = process_post(post)
    r.hincrby("Facebook", "posts_count", amount = 1)
    if "photo" in entities:
        r.hincrby("Facebook", "photo_count", amount = 1)
    if "video" in entities:
        r.hincrby("Facebook", "video_count", amount = 1)
    if "link" in entities:
        r.hincrby("Facebook", "link_count", amount = 1)

fb_photos_count = r.hget("Facebook", "photo_count")
...

It supports 5 data types comprising of strings, sets, dictionaries, sorted sets and lists.

So, one, the persistence and two, the data types. These two are what makes Redis special.

Narcissism
———-

Oh and incidentally, I am Haris Ibrahim K. V. and I am from the southern most state of India called Kerala. I work as a Computer Science Engineer at a small company called Eventifier. I’ve been a Python developer only since the past 7 months and hence, have relatively lesser experience when it comes to programming. Although I have organized conferences and workshops by myself, as a part of my earlier job, this is my first ever talk at one. So there might be a few rusty edges. Do bare with me. Also, as a hobby and passion, I love writing.

Alright, enough with the narcissism. Let’s get back to business.

Redis stores its data in a Big In-Memory dictionary where they keys can only be strings, but the values can be any of the 5 data types that we mentioned earlier. Each of these data structures have their own implementation which will come to later. Let us go back to a few more use cases where you can use redis.

LEADER BOARD (using sorted sets)

Let’s talk about leader board. What I am trying to do here is to give you examples that cover all the 5 data structures that Redis provides so that you will know what to use where and why. Leader board. I am sure you are familiar with the concept of leaderboard, but for those among you who are not, it is place where the top 10 of something is shown. Top 10 or 20, it does not matter. But a list of entities sorted based on their rank.

An example should clarify this right away. Let’s go back to the football world cup example. The tweets are pouring in. Boy, reminds me of monsoon back at home. Anyway, You want to show the most retweeted tweets in descending order of their retweet count. This will give you an idea of what is trending for that particular hashtag. Now, what do you do? This is where the “sorted set” data type comes into picture. As the name suggests, it is a set, but sorted.

What is this sorted based on? Ah yes. So when you hear a sorted set, the picture that should come into your mind is a key with a value as a list of tuples. I use “tuples” in a loose sense. Once you have that picture in mind, this is how the structure would look like:

key: (score member) (score member)

All you need to do is to define a key called “trending_tweets” and then use the “zadd” redis command to specify the score as the number of retweets and the member as the “tweet text + username” or something.

import redis
r = redis.StrictRedis()

tweets = fetch_tweets(hashtag = "#WorldCup2014") #Use the Twython Library
count = 0
for tweet in tweets:
    entities = process_tweet(tweet)
    r.zadd("trending_tweets", tweet.retweet_count, tweet.text)

trending_tweets = r.zrange("trending_tweets", 0, -1)

You could also store the tweet ids as the members and just do a query on your SQL database to fetch tweets with those particular ids. This would work much better since sorted set is a set and it will be expensive to maintain uniqueness on members if they are huge chunks of text.

import redis
r = redis.StrictRedis()

tweets = fetch_tweets(hashtag = "#WorldCup2014") #Use the Twython Library
count = 0
for tweet in tweets:
    entities = process_tweet(tweet)
    t = Tweet.objects.create(tweet = tweet)
    r.zadd("trending_tweets", tweet.retweet_count, t.id)

trending_tweets = r.zrange("trending_tweets", 0, -1)
popular_tweet_list = []
for tweet_id in trending_tweets:
    popular_tweet_list.append(Tweet.objects.get(id = tweet_id))

To retrieve the top 10, use the “zrange” command and specify the indices. That should get you going.

CACHING (using list)

This introduces a new data type as well as a useful feature.

Redis allows you to set “expire” on certain keys. You can specify the key name and the number of seconds in which the key should expire. You might have already guessed it. Yes, you can implement a caching mechanism with this. The timeout remains valid as long as you only “alter” the keys using operations such as increment, add, etc. However, if you set the key once more or delete it, the deal is off. No timeout for you.

The way to implement this would be to first know what value want to be cached. Save that value into redis with a key. Call expire(key, seconds) and you’re done. What goes hand in hand with this is the TTL command. Known as Time To Live. As you could guess, this gives you the time left before a certain key expires. It returns -2 if the key has expired or -1 if an expire has not been set on the key to begin with. Pretty handy.

Let’s go back to the Football world cup tweets example once again. Suppose you want to showcase the photos that got retweeted the most every 5 minute or so. You might have to do something like fetching the popular tweets, get the corresponding photo url, push them into a list and set an expiry on that list’s name.

import redis
r = redis.StrictRedis()

tweets = fetch_tweets(hashtag = "#WorldCup2014") #Use the Twython Library
count = 0
for tweet in tweets:
    entities = process_tweet(tweet)
    t = Tweet.objects.create(tweet = tweet)
    r.zadd("trending_tweets", tweet.retweet_count, t.id)

trending_tweets = r.zrange("trending_tweets", 0, -1)
popular_tweet_list = []
for tweet_id in trending_tweets:
    popular_tweet_list.append(Tweet.objects.get(id = tweet_id))

if r.ttl("trending_photos") in [-1, -2]:
    for tweet in popular_tweet_list:
        r.rpush("trending_photos", tweet.media_url)
        trending_photos = r.lrange("trending_photos", 0, -1)
        r.expire("trending_photos", 120) #Expire in 2 minutes
else:
    trending_photos = r.lrange("trending_photos", 0, -1)

The list is a double ended list actually. You can insert at the left or the right. Accordingly you can pop from either side as well.

CREDITS

The first person whom I would like to thank is someone who deserves much more than me to be up on this stage and give this talk. However, he usually prefers to be behind the scenes, getting things done and motivate people to do things. He is my colleague and the CTO of the company I work for, Mr Nazim Zeeshan and there he is.

The second would be Sripathi. There is a company called HasGeek back in India who organizes technology conferences and workshops. They had organized a Redis miniconf recently where Sripathi gave a talk on Redis Memory optimization. What I am going to present next is from his inspiration.

Last but not the least, the PyCon Singapore team who organized and made this a reality. Kudos to them!

INTERNAL DATA TYPES

This is something that I picked up from what Sripathi explained. I confess I’m not an expert on this but thought it would spark a few minds if presented. Redis stores all that we talked about right now internally using 6 different data types.

Refer to the slides and video for this part.

—-

Slides:

http://slides.com/harisibrahimkv/redis-what-why-and-where

Video:

https://archive.org/details/IntroductionToRedis

A sunny Saturday at BeaglesLoft.

Siva sent me, Krace, Kartik and Sayan an email asking whether we would be available on the 7th of June to volunteer for the first offline Django meetup. I was only too happy to receive the invitation and replied saying “I believe I can make it”.

The next mail in my inbox is where I found TechBuilders. The email was from the BangPypers mailing list posted by someone called Niranjan. This is the link that was in the mail:

http://techbuildersbayesianreasoning.splashthat.com/

Even during my time at HasGeek last year, I used to keep wondering why isn’t there any learning related to Math happening among all these Computer geeks who were working on Python, JS, Ruby, etc. I even had a decent conversation regarding this with the one person whom I found to be interested in the Math aspect of computers. His name is Abhijith and we became friends at the Fifth Elephant conference last year when he signed up to volunteer for it.

Suffice to say, visiting that link, when I saw that these people were trying to bring Math and Computer Science together, I knew it was something that I could not miss at any cost. I sent Siva and the rest of them an email then and there itself saying I had stumbled upon this TechBuilders meeting and might not be able to make it for the Django workshop.

I love teaching and hence was extremely upset about missing the Django workshop. However, on the other hand, I felt like the TechBuilders people had read my mind. It was, as Paulo Coelho would say, a calling. I could not resist going. Also, I had to give up on my Saturday writing as well.

It was being hosted at Haggle’s office. The people working at Haggle were the ones behind BeaglesLoft (a playground for creators and innovators) and also behind TechBuilders, their initiative to teach the Bangalore tech community something that it is lacking. The office was just a 5 minute walk away from my home.

The mail which we received from Asya, the quick witted community manager at BeaglesLoft, on the day before had asked all of us to be there at the venue exactly at 10:30AM and not to follow the “Indian Standard Time”. Little did they realize the inevitable force they were reckoning with. The meeting started at 11:00AM.

The event was supposed to start off with Sandipan from JustDial giving a talk on how they were using Bayesian theorem at their company. Unfortunately, he had some emergency and could not make it. So Niranjan, who is the founder of Haggle, took the stage and started off by introducing us to what the whole deal was about.

The thing that I liked about Niranjan was that he was not pretentious. He really observed Math was not a part of the IT culture, along with the liberal arts being treated as a completely separate entity as well. He wanted to create an atmosphere where these things would co-exist and would value each other’s importance. There, he was doing it.

Not just that. I have heard many people twisting their words to indirectly mean “spread the word”. Niranjan directly told us to do it. His conviction to doing this impressed me. Apart from taking the initiative to build the community, I must say he is a really good teacher too. He taught me Math and that, is amazing.

If you were to meet me before my 4th year of college, I would have told you, without question, that I was going to become a Math teacher. So when he talked about Mass Probability function and the Bayesian theorem in a way that I could understand after more than 2 years of staying away from it, it felt really great.

You must read his series of blog posts on Bayesian Reasoning here: http://beaglesblog.tumblr.com/tagged/techbuilders

We were asked to read them before attending the meetup. Having been the college kid, I put it to the last moment as usual. An hour before the meetup! I finished off all the posts within 45 minutes and it was time to leave in order to reach the venue on time. That dreadful feeling of not having revised what you had learned that dawns upon you on the morning of the exam day was on me. I know, it is funny. But to know that it was not something to worry about, made me feel even more excited to attend the gathering.

Towards the end of his session, he proposed a few use cases where Bayesian reasoning could be applied so that we could break up into teams and work on modelling them.

One was about a Rikshaw driver. Suppose you were one and someone came and asked you to take him to Jayanagar, how would you apply Bayesian reasoning to know whether it would be profitable for you to take him there.

Second one was about the problem given on the blog itself, identifying a person whom you meet in the US as being from Bangalore or not.

The third one was the famous Monty Hall problem. Even though I say it is famous, it was the first time I was hearing of it. It is an interesting problem which makes you realize why Math ain’t your gut feeling. It is a bit crazy, but yeah, read it.

We decided to then split up into three teams of 5 each. The decision was followed by an interesting 5 minutes of trying to figure out an algorithm to split us up. Whether the count should start from 1 and go until 5 before the 15 us were through or whether it should start form 1 until 3 until all of us were through. The confusion was funny enough to have while we were learning Math!

I was in team 2 consisting of:

Sandeep, an IIITB graduate who was going to join Haggle in a few months. He was sharp. The moment we gathered around a table to “brain-buzz”, he came up with this idea of building a recommendation system which would analyse the social media streams of users and figure out what sort of restaurants he preferred to eat out of.

Ashray, who was working with Haggle already. A strong and silent person, I would say. He was as keen as the rest of us on learning together.

Ashutosh, who is Sandeep’s junior at IIITB. He is awesome. When I was struggling to get the basics really strong, he took my pen and paper from me and taught me the reasoning from step 1 patiently, with examples and proper explanation. I hope to see more of him over the coming days.

Last but not the least, Fasil. I would define him as exuberant, but not the BSing kind. He was very outspoken but knew exactly well what he was speaking about. He was working on his own startup.

By the time we had discussed and modelled our recommendation system, it was time for presentations.

Oh, and I forgot to mention the drinks and biscuits that were there all along! No, no, seriously. What kind of a chump would I be if I did not mention this after eating 6 of those delicious cream biscuits right under the nose of my team mates while they were busy building the recommendation system!

Asya, Reya and Tania made sure we had the best atmosphere for thinking and solving the problems at hand. These are the times when I really see the importance of good community managers. They make other people’s lives easier. I never saw myself like that when I was at HasGeek I guess. I just hope others did at least.

It was time for the presentations and team 1 was the first one to go in front. They had build a model around detecting the person who was sarcastic. After analysing manually a few 100s of a person’s tweets and identifying the sarcastic ones in them, each person was assigned a probability of being sarcastic based on how many times he was sarcastic among his past 100 tweets.

This was done for more than a few users. After having built the prior data, when a new tweet came in, you could use the Bayesian reasoning to find out what was the probability of that tweet being sarcastic given it was from a particular user. They had a few numbers as well for demoing this.

Second one was us. Well, I have already explained what we did. The interesting point that Niranjan made was to use more than just words for our probability calculation. Because if we were to just look at words like “Pizza”, “Burger”, etc, then we would miss out on differences between sentences like “I hate pizza” and “I love pizza”.

Once ours was concluded, team 3 came in. They had a funny use case. I have learnt to take things in a lighter note and I hope people don’t jump around reading the use case. It was about the probability of a girl going out with you given the fact that she smiled at you. As funny as this was, for a few of them to think of something like this, would mean that the social media that we have today would have already gone miles ahead in terms of taking advantage ofย  us on similar terms. It was scary.

Niranjan came up to conclude the presentations. This is where he asked us to spread the word and help build the community. He left the rest of the afternoon as an open invitation to do anything sitting together or to move out.

They were taking memberships for the community and I “sold my soul”, as Asya put it. We hung out with each other for an hour or more, getting to know each other better.

I met Samarth, a smart lad who was a Hardware hacker by passion working at Infosys. His face was familiar and there was only one question that I could ask him about it. “Were you there at any HasGeek events?”. Yep, he was there for Droidcon 2013.

Then there was Vamsee, who was a kindred soul when it came to people calling him “Vamshee” adding that all-too-horrible “h” right in the middle! We shared our grief with each other over how inconsiderate people were towards our feelings.

Then there was Ashutosh, Jha (because I really can’t remember his other part of the name), Fasil, Prateek, who asked me, “Hey, aren’t you that guy who wrote that Eventifier blog post? That was amazing”. I was so happy! Jon from Minsh was there. It was good to meet him after such a long time. He was the first few geeks whom I interacted with as soon as I had joined HasGeek. Definitely a part of what made me grow.

We shook hands and were about to leave when I met this unassuming young fellow at the stairs.

“Hey, don’t I know you?”

“I am Rishab. Umm.. Do you know me?”

I unleashed my secret weapon once again.

“Were you at any HasGeek event before?”

“Oh… Were you at MetaRefresh 2013?”

“Yeah, I was a part of the organizing committee”

“Okay. Maybe you heard about that guy who gave a talk on CSSDeck?”

“Oooh! It was you! Now I remember… Cool man”

So that was him. He had generated a whole lot of buzz with his flash talk at that conference. He said he was working on his own startup now. I bid him goodbye and was on my way.

Now I have an excuse to learn Math. I hope these folks keep at it. It was amazing.

A short review on “On Writing” by Stephen King

When Krace first called me asking, “Hey, what is your take on Stephen King novels?”, I was pretentious.

“Although I have not read any of his works, I must say I have heard not-so-good reviews about them”.

I’m sure God won’t forgive me for saying that. I thought he wanted to buy a book for himself and hold true to his resolution of reading as much as possible. On my last day at HasGeek, I was surprised and happy when he gifted me with Stephen’s “On Writing”.

This was 7 months ago. That is how long my reading has suffered. Religiously, I would take this book with me every time I went home in the hope that I would read it from there. Alas, that never happened. During one of my visits, I was talking to my Dad about his childhood days in the hope of recreating the history of my village through a story. I got what I wanted from him and finished writing the first two paragraphs, setting the scene. My sister saw this unfinished piece of work lying on my bed. She read it. Being a voracious reader, she had already finished reading Stephen’s book. She came to me and said,

“I advice you to read ‘On Writing’ before you start off with this piece”.

I did not pay heed to that advice and hence the book remained unread and I did not make much progress with my story either.

The last time I remember when I could not put a book down and *had* to continue reading it was when I was going through Lord Of The Rings. That was during my second year of college and hence almost 3 years ago. Today morning is when I finally found that same spirit again.

The rooftop garden of my office is a lovely place. There is no wifi reception there to begin with. No distractions. It is high enough for one to consider the street sounds to be meager background noise. I reached there about 8 in the morning, made myself comfortable on one of the straw chairs, adjusted the cushion, pulled another chair to put my leg on, took out the book and started reading. I had finished almost 130 pages out of the 285 already.

The next three and half hours were magical. Stephen describes writing as telepathy. For the ignorant, that would sound like a cool word filled with philosophical mumbo jumbo. However, once you start seeing his study with the writing table, the unfinished manuscripts stacked neatly in the drawers, him sitting on the chair with door of the room closed, writing away, you realize you went back 16 years in time. Or maybe he came 16 years into the future.

The image of his life and his struggles become so vividly clear in your mind that there were moments when I really felt like I was with him during those days. Of course, if it was a writing describing his life story, that should be called a biography. This is not so. As he puts it himself, this book describes how a writer is formed. It maps to any budding author’s life. After all, no author had a red carpet laid in front him to be a part of the ministry of authors. They all struggled to get there.

Inspiration is overrated in the modern world. Many find that as an excuse. They wait as if it is someone else’s responsibility to get them inspired. Although websites like zenpencils and the kind are doing a pretty good job at it, the point you are missing is that inspiration is not the solution to your problem of creativity. It is only a part of the puzzle. Grit, determination and perseverance are those which will get you where you want to reach.

Coming back from the slight detour, even though there are more than a few moments in the book where you can imbibe tremendous inspiration from, Stephen gives absolutely practical advices so as to what makes a great writing and what constructs are the worst that you could use.

I quote, “The road to hell is paved with adverbs”.

Those words are going to hit you like a truck the next time you write ‘he said sarcastically’.

For the past few years, many people have told me to get rid of using the passive tone in my writing. Upon asking why that is, I never got a concrete explanation. Stephen just bursts forth with anger and criticisms against using the passive tone in your writing unnecessarily.

I quote, “It’s weak, it’s circuitous and it’s frequently torturous, as well. How about this: ‘My first kiss will always be recalled by me as how my romance with Shanya was begun’. Oh, man – who farted, right? A simpler way to express this idea – sweeter and more forceful, as well – might be this: ‘My romance with Shanya began with our first kiss. I’ll never forget it’. I’m not in love with this because it uses ‘with’ twice in four words, but at least we’re out of that awful passive voice.”

He goes on dissecting the construct even further and giving us more reasons to hate and crucify the passive tone. It is for the timid writers, he says. For those are afraid they are not able to convey what they want to. I was always afraid and I still am. However, I am happy that I wrote the last sentence instead of ‘I have always been afraid’.

I would not recommend this book to those who are interested in factual writing. As much as it offers practical advises like the ones above, it revolves around imagination and creative writing. Taking in things from around you and converting them into what you want them to be. Digging for the fossils, as he puts it. Be patient, be careful. Dig slowly and you will get the entire piece unscathed.

One thing becomes absolutely clear from this book. If you have a passion for writing, the only thing that is stopping you from doing it is your lame excuses. You will want to believe they are real excuses so that you can convince people. But they are lame. You are just lazy to write. You would rather be entertained and wait for your all important inspiration to shower upon you. Get rid of the fear. Don’t be afraid. Just write.

Thank you Krace for gifting me this book. You knew what I wanted more than I knew it myself.

My beginning and journey so far with Eventifier

The beginning
——————-

“Yawn”.

I was quite irritated being disturbed from my peaceful sleep by my phone ringing. With sleepy eyes, I looked at its screen. It said:

“Jaseem Abid calling…”

“Oh man, not now.”, I thought. Not because of any personal reasons, but just because I was craving for that deep sleep and my mind working was the last thing I wanted at that point. I put it to silent, ignored the call and peacefully went back to sleep.

When I woke up after an hour or so, I found a message that Jaseem had left.

“Hey, there are these guys looking for a Python dev. Wanted to talk to you about it”

(Detour)

This happened sometime in September 2013, while I had already submitted my resignation at HasGeek. I had talked to other folks and was looking around quite desperately to find another job. There were a handful of people whom I talked to before I made the decision to resign. If not for the support offered by people like Arpan & Vamsee, I would have probably gone into a state of depression. They were kind enough to let me learn from them by staying with them in case I wanted to polish up my programming skills. Sajjad was another person who gave me hope by introducing me to Gautam and considering my engagement with Akshara Foundation. That, however, had been on hold since they were trying to figure out a road map for the next year and said they would need at least a month before letting me know.

Even Kiran had introduced me to Sameer from Next Big What. He recommended me to them as an excellent writer. Discussions were going on with them where they wanted me to complete a few tasks before they could take it forward. Since I expressed my interest, as delicately as possible, to write code, they gave me a data set, asked me to Visualize it using JavaScript and write a report on it. JavaScript! Visualizing data sets! I was doomed. For all the Data Visualization hacknights and JSFoo conference I organized and was a part of, I had never written or read a single line of JS.

However, if not then, when I was going to learn programming? I intended to give it my best shot. I had not quit HasGeek then. I was a full time employee. Hence, I had to do this task in the midst of all the emails and organizational activities. I had one week time. At the end of piling up all the tutorials, copy-pasting code, trial and error fixes, I finally managed to do a really, extremely crude bar graph visualization of the data set. No one would be able to understand the joy that I felt at being able to do that. Also, since I had finished this by the evening of the day on which I was supposed to submit it, I had to finish writing the report in an hour, which I did. I think it was a sad piece of work and that they were not quite amused. Suffice to say, there were no further interactions.

You can find the code as well as the report here: https://github.com/harisibrahimkv/d3_viz

The situation was really quite dire. I had no industry skills in terms of programming apart from the few incomplete pet projects I tried to do during my time with HasGeek. Since my job was mostly related to organizing, emails, community management, etc, I never could find an uninterrupted stretch of time to dedicate to learn writing code. After all, I do realize that managing humans is far more rewarding and complicated than managing code.

You must be thinking how I found the courage to actually submit my resignation without having another job or the necessary skills to attain one. Well, I guess many people do it and it is not so much of a big deal. Let me tell you though, it was and still is a really big deal for me. Anyway, there was a person behind me finding courage to take the step forward.

(Following is one day before I submitted my resignation)

Sudar Muthu is a loving Husband, a caring Father and a passionate programmer. Even though I had heard his talks before at HasGeek events, we got to know each other better when I approached him for doing a hands-on public workshop on “Processing Data using Pig”. We used to keep in touch after that and we met each other again at PyCon India 2013, which happened at the very end of August. That was my first ever PyCon and I was glad I attended it. I was catching up with friends over breakfast. I could relax and take my time to do it since I was not a volunteer (although I ended up pushing boxes, selling T-shirts and packing participant kits).

In the midst of breakfast, Sudar walked past me. I called out to him.

“Hey Sudar!”

“Hey Haris, how is it going? It has been a while.”

“Not bad. My first PyCon. You have a talk today, don’t you? Looking forward to that. Feels glorious not being responsible for anything that is happening around me for a change”, I added with a chuckle.

We chit chatted for a while. At some point, the conversation shifted in the direction of me explaining that I was in a troublesome situation where I wanted to shift to a programming career and I could not leave my current job unless I found another job, which was quite impossible in the current state of affairs. He had just one question to ask.

“Do you need to have a job?”

That caught me off-guard.

“W-What?”, I asked, stuttering.

“Are you in a situation where you need to have a job? Where people are depending on you or you have big loan to repay or something?”

“Uh, no. Not really….”

“If you really believe that you are not doing the right thing, then this is the time to make the difference. Before financial aspects become a responsibility and burden. Take some time off and make *absolutely* sure that you make the most out of it. Otherwise it will be an even worse situation”

I could only look at him with wide open eyes. I would not say I was in a shock, but it was something quite close. I could feel my brain rewiring, dropping certain assumptions, bringing up new plans, constructing alternate routes, opening up new doors, and a little devil at the corner who would damn my soul if I were to fail myself in taking and executing the right choice. All happened in a split second.

We chatted for a while more regarding this. However, my innards were bursting with a sense of anxiety and excitement.

“This is it. I am going to do it”

On September 2nd, I submitted my resignation.

(Coming back to where we left off)

I called Jaseem then itself. He explained that there is this company called Eventifier being run by three friends.

“They are not hardcore techies, but are really nice guys. I am planning to work with them for a month and see if we can continue the engagement. I’ll whatsapp you Jazeel’s number. He is the CEO of the company.”

This is back when I had whatsapp and the Nexus4, courtsey of HasGeek. He went on for a while longer talking about the company. He ‘whatsapped’ me Jazeel’s number.

Quite frankly, I was not amused. Due to my extreme ego of thinking I was destined to be the greatest person in the world, I thought, “Well, yet another startup somewhere. The Akshara one looks more promising. And oh! These people are building a product having something to do with social networking!”

Whatever is the opposite of fanboy-ism, I used to be that when it came to social networking sites. I never had any proper justification for my thoughts I guess.

I tucked the idea away in a corner of my mind and moved forward. October came and whatever I explained in terms of Akshara and Next Big What happened then. I was at home for a week during October for Eid. One of the days, while I was watching some movie on my laptop at around 8’o’clock in the morning, my phone rang. It was an unknown number. I attended the call.

“Hi, is this Haris?”

“Yeah, this is Haris”

“Oh hey, I am Jazeel. Jaseem must have spoken to you about me. I am calling from Eventifier”

“Ah yes! I remember. I am so sorry. The days have been too busy that I forgot to call you”

“Its alright. He said you were looking to move out and find another job. How are you placed now?”

“Well, I am talking with a few people, but nothing confirmed yet”

“Yeah, the thing is, we are also looking to hire a Python developer. We just moved to Bangalore a couple of month’s back and are planning on expanding”

Jazeel went on to explaining what Eventifier does.

“Also, we got funded by Accel. So, would you like to meet and talk sometime soon?”

“Ehm well, you should know about my Python development experience as well. I don’t have any experience writing production code. I have used it for my projects at college as well as to do some pet projects which you can find on my Github profile. I guess that is about it”

“Oh cool. Let’s talk about it. Are you in Bangalore now?”

“Uh no, I am at home in Kerala. I’ll be back on Wednesday. Maybe we can meet Thursday early morning? Say, around 9?”

“Sounds good. I’ll just confirm with the rest of my team and let you know over email”

“Cool”

“Okay, bye. Oh and how old are you?”

“Uh, 24. Why?”

“Nothing. Just wanted to know. I’ll send you an email”

“Alright. Bye”

“Bye”

On Thursday morning, standing in front of the Accel partners office, I just cut my call telling Jazeel I had arrived. After a few minutes, someone tapped on my shoulders. I turned around and saw this handsome looking young man with a slightly golden colored beard and hair, standing behind me with a smile.

“Haris?”

“Yeah”

“Hey, nice to meet you. I’m Jazeel. Let’s go in.”

We shook hands and he led me in. I had to sign in my name in the visitor’s register, after which we went to one of the meeting rooms. He asked me to wait while he fetched someone else whose name I did not quite catch. At the moment, tension started creeping up my spine. I thought to myself,

“What the hell am I doing here? I haven’t even prepared for an interview! Heck, I should have at least read something up about their company. Oh my God…”

My thoughts were cut short by Jazeel entering the room along with the “someone else”.

J: “Hey Haris, meet Saud. He is the Chief Designer of Eventifier”

I was a bit amused. The CEO was as old as me and now he brings in another 25 year old saying he is the chief designer! “Gosh, this must be like an army of Ershads!”, I thought. Ershad is a friend who dropped out of college during his second year. A genius hardcore programmer and a Free Software enthusiast. He used to be the winner of all tech competitions around Kerala.

S: “Hi. How are you doing?”

Me: “I am fine, thank you. How about you?”

S: “Good, good.”

J: “Yeah so… Nazim will be here in a bit. He is the CTO”

Augh! What am I going to tell him, what am I going to tell him! Technology scared me.

Me: “Ah okay. Well, maybe to begin with you could elaborate a bit on what we discussed that day? I mean, about how you guys founded the company and what it is about?”

Jazeel and Saud together explained their adventure. That story is already told and hence I won’t go over it. Towards the end of it, the door opened again. A simple looking cool person with long hair and an almost-French beard entered.

J: “Meet Nazim”.

Me: “Oh hey, I’m Haris”

N: “Yeah hi, I’m Nazim”.

He had a really soft voice.

Me: “Well, as I was telling Jazeel, you guys should know I don’t have any experience writing production code. Only a few pet projects and a handful of tutorials is what I’ve got. Apart from attending and organizing the best workshops on Python and Git, I’ve never actually quite gotten down to using them.”

There was laughter around the room.

Me: “What do you guys use and what sort of a workflow do you have?”

I could not believe how humble the three of them were. Very down to Earth, soft spoken and very gentle. I have met a lot of people during my HasGeek days and I must say almost every one of them had one point or the other where they would try to sell themselves showcasing their talent or skill and asserting they are good at it. Nothing of the sort came from these three. As far as I am concerned, after having accomplished so much and establishing a company, if you can be so humble, that is quite an asset.

N: “Yeah so… We use Django and Python. And we have made a git repository on Github where we push the code. We pull from there onto the server and deploy it”

Me: “Uh okay. Um, is that it?”

N: “Yeah, that is pretty much it”

Me: “Cool”

J: “We’ll get Ajay, our adviser, to meet you now”

With that, the three of them went out. I sat there for a while. Ajay came in and asked me about my previous job and a few metrics related to it. It was a short conversation. After that he went out. Jazeel and Saud came in.

J: “Yeah, we are happy to have you onboard. Ajay also felt you would be a good fit”

Wow. That was fast. Was it that they did not hear what I said about not having any experience or whether they chose to simply ignore it? Whatever it was, I thought getting to be in the company of these people would be an unmatched asset. I had almost made up my mind.

J: “So what do you feel?”

Me: “From what you have told me, I’m interested in going forward as well. But you should know that I won’t be able to contribute to your code from day one onwards. Maybe you can send me a small task that I could work on in order to get acquainted with the technology?”

J: “Sounds like a good idea. I’ll tell Nazim to get in touch with you regarding that”

We discussed the joining date, which would be on November 11th, a Monday, since I was leaving HasGeek on October 31st and would be at home for a few days after that. We decided on a salary as well, after which we parted.

I was leaving for Goa that day along with Kiran and Zainab to attend NitroDroid. I remember calling my Mom and Dad while I stood waiting to embark on the KSRTC bus to Goa and telling them I had made up my mind to join Eventifier.

On Octoer 31st evening, I was sitting with mixed feelings. I tweeted out this the day before: https://twitter.com/harisibrahimkv/status/395799344231616512. I believe those emotions are better kept inside of me and hence I shall refrain from writing them. Around 5, I packed my bags and got out. My eyes watered slightly.

The Journey so far
————————-

I have never pulled an all-nighter in my life. Until the day came where I had to finish Nazim’s task. I finished them on the 9th of November at 6:00AM, having sat through the entire night. No coffee, no energy drinks. Just working.

On Monday morning, at around 9:00AM, I tweeted this and got out. Full of excitement, I reached there only to find Jaseem there. He waved to me from the great glass building and asked me to come in. I obliged and went in, thus starting my first day with Eventifier!

PS: Meanwhile in the Founders’ home.

“Nazim, Nazim! Wake up! Haris has tweeted! I think he is already there.”, Jazeel was frantically trying to wake Nazim and Saud up, having himself only woken up at about 9:45AM.

“Wha, what?”, Nazim stuttered, waking up lazily and rubbing his eyes. “Oh! We have to go now.”

They had hired their first employee.

***

Bryan Adam’s “Summer of 69” is one of my favorite songs of all time. There is one line in that song which says, “Those were the best days of my life”. That is exactly what I have to say regarding the past 6 months. On different levels, it has worked out really great.

First of all, establishing a routine. I was adamant about establishing a work life balance. Although a few people advised me against doing that during the early days of joining a company, I did not pay heed to it. I should say it has worked out quite well. From day 1, I would wake up at 6, finish off my chores and prayers, bath and leave to office around 7:30. Breakfast would be from the Madhurai Idly Shop near my office. I reach my desk by 8:15 – 8:30. I check my mails and Twitter for half an hour and then jump into work. Usually it is even earlier. Since the office is a shared space, two other companies use the space as well. However, none of the employees come in before 11 or so. Hence, I get a lot of peaceful time to work. I would leave back for home latest by 4:30PM every day. This way, I avoid the rush hour traffic both in the morning and in the evening. Weekends – absolutely no work. Even if I laze out completely, I used to refrain from work. This was not the best of things to do, and I am rectifying it slowly. I was more than glad that the company allowed me to maintain this.

I took up cycling. A gazillion thanks to Sam Kocsis for letting me have his bike, a Bergamont Vitox 6.2, while he was going back to the US. It has been a tremendous experience the last 6 months cycling wherever I go. The concept of having to wait for transport has become so alien! The best part is, the grey areas of traffic where a cyclist can easily find his way through traffic. However, I must say most of the motor vehicle drivers are inconsiderate towards cyclists. They blow their horn and give looks that says, “Why the hell are you even on the road butt head?”. Anyway, I am enjoying the ride.

Cooking was another interesting practice I started. It is amazing how the human mind and body works once you decide on doing something. It adapts pretty well and delivers. Although not a master chef, I can make decent food for myself hence eating home cooked food and bringing the cost down as well.

All this would not have had its fun if my work did not go well along with it. I was amazed at how pleasantly all three welcomed me into their team like a family. At times when I get excited about something that I am working on, I stay back late and feel lazy to cycle back home. During those days, all of us go back together to their home, which is close by to the office and I spend the night there. We kick up a ruckus now and then with the football they have in their home. However, lately, Nazim skilfully bent the ball to go and hit the mirror hanging on the wall just above the basin. Suffice to say, they are ‘mirrorless’ now.

I started learning Django. The craft of software production, at least to get things done, was not so hard as I had thought it to be. I started delivering within two weeks. From then on, things moved forward with quite a pace. Exploring different ways of doing things, looking into cleaning up code, a couple of rewrites, etc.

The most interesting part is working with Nazim. Being the CTO, he is the one who wrote the entire code base single handed. Jazeel was on Marketing and Sales while Saud was on Design and Administration. Hence, for a person with 3 years of hands-on experience with Django, he has always let me do my stuff. Elaborating on that, whenever I am building something, I would discuss now and then about it with him. The funny thing is, he would know that the implementation would have a bug if done that way. However, he would never say that up front. He would let me do it. I would happily do it, test it on local or staging and it would fail. I try to isolate the bug and ask advice on what might have gone wrong. He would sit back on his chair, legs crossed and say,

“I am not sure, maybe something went wrong with <that particular part of the code>?”

Guess what? That would be the exact part of the code which would be causing the bug. As such, my respect for him has continuously grown.

I believe I am off to a good start on my plans to get into teaching. The learning experience has been amazing although I myself think I have not worked hard enough. Well, it has only been 6 months and I believe there is a lot to come.

Saud is the one who comes earliest to office among the three. Around 10:30 to 11:00AM. A pleasant soul to talk with. He always inquires about how life is, about family and in general whip up a sweet conversation. Someone to whom you could open up to completely and he will sit and listen patiently until it is over. Now that Praseetha has joined us, he has the job of being a mentor as well.

Jazeel, being the face of the company, is the cool dude around. Lately he has switched over the US timings since all his calls with clients are during the night. He usually comes to office around 3PM or so and starts his day then. He has his own strong opinions on matters which he is not even in the slightest sense afraid to shout out. Conversations with him leads to insightful discussions. I guess getting through to the customers is the greatest skill that a sales ops should possess.

Oh, and at times, we go around working from different places as well, like the Ants Cafe and Mr. Beans It has been amazing so far and I pray that it continues to be so. Our team goes strong with 6 including me, Jazeel, Nazim, Saud, Nawaz, who is a sales ops and Praseetha, whom I have written about aplenty before.

—————————————-

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