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Search text: "keval" found in 41 'blog entries.
KType is now RocketKeys!Thu, 31st Jan '13, 3:35 pm::
Little over three years ago, I took a long walk and came back determined to build KType - a tool to help people with speech disabilities. It took over a year of intense independent research and development but I finally released KType Pro in late 2011. I went to India in early 2012 and beta-tested it with the inspiration behind KType - my cousin Keval - who took mere minutes to start typing full words and sentences. Eight-months later, I released KType Free to help spread the word. Throughout the process, I received unbelievable amount of support from my wife, family, friends, and even complete strangers. Best of all, I regularly received words of encouragement from actual users and their families.
In October 2012, I was contacted by a brilliant researcher-turned-CEO, Alex Levy, whose company MyVoice develops "life-changing aids for people with speech and language disabilities." Over the years I met numerous developers, speech-therapy experts, and families of people with speech disabilities and I always had a difficult time explaining to them what KType really was. Yet from the very first minute of our conversation, it was clear to me that Alex truly understood what I was trying to do with KType and he could explain the app better than I ever could. Wasting no time, I flew up to Canada the next weekend to plan the future of KType and to attend my first Halloween party.
Since my return from Canada, I worked with Alex and his team on releasing the new version of KType. I am so happy to say that KType is now RocketKeys, part of the MyVoice family of apps, and available in the Apple App Store. Tomorrow, I'm driving up to Orlando, where Alex and his team are exhibiting RocketKeys at the Assistive Technology Industry Association 2013 Conference. From what Alex tells me, we have a very popular booth in a prime location, so I should be prepared to talk to attendees all day non-stop. I can't wait!
Three years ago when I decided to change my entire life around and take such a huge career, financial, and social risk, I asked my wife what her thoughts were. Without a blink, she replied "Do it." I told her to take some time to think clearly about it because it could mean lots of personal stress and financial difficulties. She immediately said "You'll figure it out. I'm not worried." For a while, I thought she was just being nice or didn't want to discourage me by saying anything negative but now I realize, she was just being honest. She truly did believe that I would figure it all out even though at that time, I had no experience in the assistive technology industry, had never built an Apple iPhone/iPad app, had never done multi-year independent research, had no experience in building prediction engines, and had absolutely no support from anyone in the field.
It took a few years but she was right, I slowly figured it all out. And she supported me the whole time in the most-likely-to-make-Chirag-succeed-way, by telling me that "it doesn't sound too difficult for you." There are two surefire ways to encourage someone: (1) tell them it is impossible (2) tell them it is trivial. The latter works better on me because when everyone tells me it is impossible, at least I have an excuse when I fail, like when I ran just 50 miles instead of the 100 miles that I signed up for. But when someone says it is too easy for me, my ego won't let me quit, no matter how difficult it really is.
I have no idea what the future holds but I know I couldn't have gotten here without my wife's support. Juliet, I love you and hope you're ready for my next big project after this :)
New mission in lifeThu, 29th Mar '12, 2:50 pm::
I have a new mission in life - spread the word about KType to the whole world. One would think that being technical, I would use some sort of affiliate-marketing search-engine funnel-optimizing analytics-dashboard to let everyone know how useful and accessible KType is but after much consideration, I have taken the old over-exuberant-salesman route - I'm making phone calls! Instead of getting better search-engine placements to directly attract end-users, I want doctors, speech-therapists, and non-profit organizations to recommend KType to users who might benefit from it.
One of the best ways for me to do that is to contact the Assistive Technology Device Loan Programs for all the US States and offer them fully-functional copies of KType at no cost. Users with speech/motor disabilities can borrow iPads preloaded with KType from their state organizations and try the app out for up to 30 days. I'm also offering to train (over the phone at present) any potential users and their caretakers at no charge. Since most organizations already have funds preallocated for iPads, there is no additional cost to them to offer KType.
It is a very time-consuming process but I think it will ensure long-term growth of KType. While I would like to take out magazine ads and rent trade-show booths someday, for now I just want to find potential users and work with them to improve the app. I know it worked for my cousin Keval (the K in KType) but I don't certifiably know if it works for individuals with stroke, cerebral palsy, or ALS.
If you would like to help, suggest Assistive Technology organizations, speech-therapists, and medical caregivers that I can directly contact. Or better yet, ask them to check out the KType Demo.
KType - First UseSun, 12th Feb '12, 2:26 pm::
After 18 months of research, learning, and coding, tonight was the first real-world test of the KType iPad app and I couldn't be happier at the result. My cousin Keval was very happy to 'say' something on his own!
Life plansThu, 14th Jul '11, 4:10 pm::
After over three years, I went grocery shopping all by myself today. Usually Juliet does all the shopping and sometimes I tag along but she's been pretty busy with work lately. Now that she is qualified to assist in surgeries at a number of local hospitals, she leaves the house by 6.30am and gets home after a long 10-12 hour shift. I'm keeping pretty busy myself with my research and consulting work but thankfully I'm not as busy as her. So I've started to become more of a house-husband and help her out with chores.
It's finally starting to feel like normal life now. I hope to visit India next year and have my cousin Keval try out the KType app. For the next year or so, I want to work with him and others like him to improve KType and make it more accessible. Only time will tell what happens after that.
Juliet and I want to start our own family in a year or two and we'll most certainly need a bigger house. I bought my 750 sq. ft. house six years ago as a single, care-free guy and never imagined that someday I'd get married and need more space! While it's a bit early for us to buy a house, we still spend hours on Zillow each week, fawning at all the pretty houses with lots of rooms and space. We want a 2,000 sq. ft. house with half an acre of land or more but in the area we live in, large plots of land almost always come with a huge 5,000 sq. ft. house. Unless there is a big reason to move, we'd rather stay in this area because the weather is great, the people are nice, and we like the relaxed pace of life.
I know it sounds lazy but our long-term plan is to organize our life and standard of living such that we don't have to have full-time jobs. We want to travel, raise a family, and spend time with our loved ones without having to work 40-60 hours per week. That means while we can technically afford a gorgeous Mediterranean-style waterfront villa, we have to resist the urge to sign our lives away to the God of Mortgage and the Deity of Bills and instead live below our means when it comes to big-ticket items - house, cars, gadgets.
For now, our hunt for a mid-sized house surrounded by lots of evergreen trees in a large plot of land continues. Here's hoping we find it within a couple of years.
KType.netFri, 4th Feb '11, 4:45 pm::
Happy B'day to Keval! To celebrate his birthday, I launched KType.net today. I've been working on the iPad app for a few weeks now and things are coming together quite well. I'll have a video demo soon. For now, you can checkout the demo online.
Starting KTypeFri, 17th Sep '10, 12:05 am::
For some time now, I've been looking for a good way to build a system to help people with speech/neurological disabilities communicate better and tonight, I found it. After my cousin Keval from Mumbai got in an accident over six years ago, he lost his voice and motor skills. Over the years, he has gained some control over his right hand but it is not enough for him to type on a keyboard or use a mouse. It appeared from some videos that my sister sent me last year that he might be able to use a touchscreen to push digital buttons so I decided to look into developing a software/hardware system customized for him.
I created a rudimentary on-screen keyboard that helped guess what he was trying to type, a "smart" version of the T9 typing-mode on cellphones. I called it KType and it used Google's AutoSuggest feature to "guess" what the next word or phrase would be. That it was a good idea was confirmed when I recently ran across Google Scribe - a simple demo that works on the same principle (and uses the same Google data-source) as KType but offers a different user-interface.
I sat with Keval for many hours during my recent trip to India to try and figure out what kind of system would work for him. Last month, I met a friend's brother who has a neurological disorder that prevents him from speaking and makes motor control very difficult. I know I shouldn't extrapolate too much from just two people's requirements but I know that if I am able to make something that works for both, it will most certainly work for a hundred others, as there are many people who have problems speaking and using general-purpose electronic devices to communicate. With all of this in mind, I started to build a list of requirements for the hardware and software platforms that I will use for the next generation of KType.
The hardware I need to use will:
- Be cheap and affordable: After all, health-care is expensive as it is. No need to make software that only runs on $10,000 machines. Maximum hardware cost: $1000, prefer to be: under $500, sweet-spot: sub $300.
- Be available throughout the world: If not immediately, then within a year or two at most. No NASA rocket parts, only commodity hardware.
- Have a touchscreen: It can be used as the primary input or as the configuration panel.
- Have good audio out: Will be required for text-to-speech.
- Be connected: Wireless required, Bluetooth highly desired.
- Integrate with other devices: I may need the ability to integrate with joysticks, hardware push buttons, HDMI monitors, and other I/O devices.
- Run on battery and for many hours: So the user can be mobile.
- Easy to reset: 9 out of 10 errors should be fixable by turning the device off and on again.
- Relatively easy to program: This is very important for me because I don't have five years to code patiently. I want to give a working KType device to Keval yesterday.
The software I need to use will:
- Be free from licensing issues: I want everyone to use KType without any restrictions.
- Work on multiple hardware devices: I want to write once, deploy anywhere. I am not building a high-performance, finely-optimized video game. I just want to make code that works and is stable, even if it's not "perfect".
- Allow users to update to latest version: I don't want to manually upgrade all the devices. Ever.
- Perform low-level hardware-functions is necessary: If I want to create a wireless network between my selected hardware device and a webcam, the end-user shouldn't have to deal with complex configuration. I want the ability to create an ad-hoc wireless network dynamically in code.
- Exist today in usable form: I'm not going to wait for Apple, Google, Microsoft, or Adobe to release their latest and greatest SDK before I can start coding. I need to get started right away.
- Be fast: While initially I'll do simple things like easy-to-use on-screen keyboard, I have plans to do some very CPU-intensive processing in the future. So I can't really develop in QBasic.
- Have an extensive set of libraries: I don't want to reinvent the wheel. I want to use the most advanced wheel freely available today.
- Not be a fad (i.e. be around for a while): I plan on working on KType for the foreseeable future. I can't start to code it in Erlang and find that the flavor of the day is Clojure or Ruby. Last thing I want to do is a complete rewrite. So the software platform I decide to use, better be around for a long time.
Having mulled these requirements over and over in my mind for the past few months, I was starting to get disappointed that I couldn't find a viable software/hardware solution. While the Apple iPad definitely met most of my hardware requirements, programming for it in Obj-C hardly fulfilled my software requirements. Finally tonight, I came across AirPlay - a software development system that will let me write code in C/C++ and run it on a variety of hardware devices, including the iPhone, iPad, and Android devices. Though AirPlay may not meet every single software requirement immediately, with the iPad expected to get some competition in the coming months from the likes of Samsung Galaxy Tab and Archos Tablets, I think making a cross-platform software that would work on any of these devices will be the best solution for me and my users.
I started to play around with AirPlay tonight and I'm definitely excited. My iPad is setup and ready to be programmed. Can't wait!
I am in my childhood home. Juliet is unpacking my bags while my dad and sister are questioning why I brought so many shoes. This is the weirdest feeling I've experienced in a while. It's like my two worlds have come together in a dream land of sorts. On one hand I feel completely at home with my family, talking and chatting in Gujarati. On the other, Juliet's here with me and we are packing and unpacking stuff all day like we are on a vacation to the Florida Keys.
I met my cousin Keval for the first time in over 5 years this weekend and he looks so much better. His recovery from the multiple brain surgeries between 2004-2006 has been nothing short of miraculous. He is able to move his right hand and communicates using an alphabet chart. There has to be a more comfortable way for him to communicate better using technology.
Today Juliet and I will get the final measurements taken for our wedding garments. We also have to check out our hotel rooms and the venues for all the different events. It will be a busy two weeks but I am so excited.
I value leisure more than almost any important activity or task. My inner-lazy would rather not do something than do it. I would rather sit around and think about cheaper ways to make a GPS locator for missing cats than to actually go out and do it. I would rather spend all Saturday laying down in the hammock, watching birds fly across the sky above me, than work on even the most interesting projects.
And so that is exactly what I haven't been doing for the past eight months. Currently, the things that occupy my time are: My full-time job (45-50 hours per week), Masters college (16-24 hours per week), SCHED (12-16 hours per week). That's an average of 80 hours of work and school per week. I started working on a new hardware/software project last month to help my cousin Keval communicate better using a data glove. While I only spend 8-12 hours per week on this project, I need to spend closer to 16-20 hours per week to make significant progress and hopefully in a month, I will be able to. Add to that about 10 hours per week of house chores, pet care, paying bills, and immigration paperwork. Did I mention I have a wife who I love to spend time with? So add about 2-4 hours of wifey time on weeknights and 12-16 hours on weekends, and I'm at about 30 hours per week. This brings me to 90 work/study/projects + 10 chores + 30 wifey hours = 130 hours per week of doing stuff.
There are 7 * 24 = 168 hours per week and I'm booked for 125-130 of them. This leaves me with about 40 hours to sleep, shave, and shower or in other words, less than six hours per day to rest and take care of myself. I would rather just chill and do nothing for all 24 but then that would be too easy. My life's probably going to be like this for the next two years after which I will take a few years easy to reprioritize my goals and ambitions. Until then, it's slaving away all day with barely any sleep.
Of course, I love all of the things I do on a daily basis in the big-picture sense. School is tough but I am learning so much. Work is just as demanding but I'm building cool new tools to help manage and grow the business. SCHED is growing faster than anyone anticipated and we're getting a lot of good feedback so it's wonderful to make new features that users love. Juliet's very understanding and supportive of all of my commitments so the few hours each day we do get to spend together, I get to just sit back and relax. I really have nothing to complain other than the fact that I miss having time to go kayaking.
Different parameters of relationshipsFri, 18th Aug '06, 12:25 am::
On the surface, this has been a relatively normal week for me, with the usual deal of work, bills, home, chores etc. Nothing really out of the ordinary. Well almost nothing. The two read-but-unreplied emails waiting in my mailbox, sent by the two strongest humans I personally know - my dad and my uncle, keep staring at me every time I check my email, as if mutely yelling at me to hit 'reply' and type away something beautiful and worthy of their dignity. Alas, it's not easy.
My dad sent me an email last week telling me he missed me. It was so loving and sincere that when I showed it to a friend of mine, she wanted him to adopt her. Few days later, his brother, my Paresh uncle, emailed me to tell me how my cousin Keval is slowly getting better. While mentioning that he was pleased to read my views about life on my 'blog, my uncle wrote about his thoughts on life, knowledge, and relationships. It didn't occur to me until now that while millions of people live their entire lives without even saying "hello" to their parents and elders, I take for granted all the support and love in the world that I get from my family without even asking for it once. And then when someone tells me they love me or miss me, I find it extremely difficult to respond to them. Woody Allen's America does that to you.
I wouldn't even have begun writing this 'blog entry tonight had I not clicked on this video of father & son unknowingly. Team Hoyt is a father-son team of Dick & Rick Hoyt, "from Massachusetts who together compete just about continuously in marathon races. And if they're not in a marathon they are in a triathlon - that daunting, almost superhuman, combination of 26.2 miles of running, 112 miles of bicycling, and 2.4 miles of swimming. Together they have climbed mountains, and once trekked 3,735 miles across America." It sounds like typical father-son adventurous duo till you realize the son, Rick, can't walk or talk. The father pushes, carries, lifts, and pulls him from the start till the end. Every year at the Boston Marathon, this team gets the loudest, most-cheerful standing ovation. I know this particular video has some typical-cheesy music but that didn't stop me from sobbing for 4 minutes and 14 seconds, and then again for 4:14 when I hit replay. Last time I was in India, Google Videos weren't accessible from there. I think it's a good thing because I don't think either my dad or uncle will be able to control their tears if they saw this video. I mean it made me so weak in the knees that I decided to shed my fake outer-shell of "I'm so awesome and my life is so great" and admit that I sobbed and cried uncontrollably when I saw the video.
Like my dad always says, I rarely propose concrete well thought-out arguments on my 'blog entries, and usually ramble aimlessly. Today is no different. Yet, almost always, I have underlying themes. I guess tonight, it's the latent energy to persevere. By latent energy, I mean the hidden strength that these two stalwarts in my family seem to possess since birth. Ever since I was a kid, they were the two strong brothers I could always look up to for help, advice, and guidance. To me, they were and are now more than ever, the resolute pillars of persistence. In my eyes, nothing has changed, rather they both have shown time and again that they're getting wiser and more down-to-Earth by the day.
But in their eyes, something has changed. They now think of me as a mature grown-up man that they can share their views with, as equals, instead of just teaching me like I'm a student and they're teachers. That is something new to me. Suddenly, I'm seeing them in light I've never expected, as real humans with strengths AND weaknesses. While my dad and his elder brother have always tried to be my best friends, I'm new to this aspect of theirs - the side in which they stop being perfect figures of authority and become my friends with unhindered emotions and honest feelings - no pretense of being the bigger man.
But I'm so used to them being the head, the father-figure, the authority, that this closeness is leaving me speechless. The weirdness is of course that I feel completely comfortable in writing about it here in public, I guess, because I am so used to being honest and open here. Writing becomes difficult as soon as I have a specific audience.
On my 'blog, I write for everyone and no one. I write for me and for you. But in an email or phone conversation, I have to talk direct with one person and then depending on who that person is, it's either casual or formal, easy or difficult. For now, it's a new experience for me to get to know my dad and uncle on a man-to-man level. It sounds so generic and mundane when it happens to other people but like my uncle said, "as you go in deeper into life, you will open new horizons of knowledge and see different parameters of relationships."
First thing I do every morning as soon as I wake up is read my emails. Now a lot of people say that is a bad thing to do but it helps me instantly transition from the sleepy state to alert/awake state. And somedays, there's some good news in an email or two that jump starts my day with a smile.
My Paresh Uncle from Mumbai, India has emailed me a couple of times in the last week or so to tell me that my favorite 'blog reader/critic is back! His son, my cousin Keval, has been recovering slowly but steadily for over two years now. Lately, my uncle has been showing Keval the pictures I've taken while travelling around. We don't know yet if Keval likes the nature pictures. If he does, I'm going to take my kayak and camera around everywhere from now on.
As I write this, my little devil kitties are jumping and fighting all around the house. They chase each other, one of them grabs the other and pins them down, then the grabbed-one escapes, and the cycle starts all over again. I've seen their playful antics tens of thousands of times and am still amused by it each time. For now, it's time to hit the shower and get to work. I'm working on some exciting stuff!
This has been another awesome week here in India. Went to see my mom's family yesterday and spent some time talking to my cousin Keval before that. I'm returning to US tomorrow but my flight's been delayed. Now instead of reaching Tampa at 1am on Saturday April 23rd, I'm gonna reach at 1pm - a twelve hour delay! Urgh... But otherwise, everything's great and I'm having such a wonderful time here with my family.
Wow so much to say. First of all, my mother had a successful surgery to remove the metal-plate from her arm. She is healing well now. It was a year ago yesterday that Keval got into the accident in Goa. One year in coma... And what's amazing and heart-rendering is how much his parents are doing for him.
So on Thursday Jan 13th, my friends Arthur and Michele flew in from Jersey to Tampa. I waited at the airport, eating some good TGIFriday's when they landed. I got a call from Jessica that she was in O'Briens with her friend Terasita. So I took Arthur and Michele directly to the pub. Had a few drinks and then got back home to introduce them to my awesome kitties.
Woke up late next morning and went to Olive Garden for lunch. Next up, the Salvador Dali museum, followed by the Skyway Bridge. Had dinner at the Original Hooters later that night and went to bed early because we had to leave early for Disney the next morning.
Drove to Orlando the next morning and was at the doorsteps of Disneyworld's Magic Kingdom. After some ticket/reservation troubles, we went in. It was awesome! We took a lot of pictures and even one of me with Donald Duck :) Went on tons of rides and rollercoasters. Michele was chicken so she barely went on any fast rides. Arthur and I basically went on everything Magic Kingdom had to offer.
We got a decent 3 bed apartment for the night and didn't get to sleep much since we had to leave early for Epcot the next morning. Again at Epcot, we had some annoying ticket problems. Take my advice: DO NOT BOOK your Disney tickets through www.disney.com or their Walk Disney Travel Company. They SUCK monkey rumps!
So Epcot was a lot of fun too. We went on Test Track and Mission Space early on. Then spent some time at The Living Sea watching Dolphins poop and do stunts underwater. Next up, the World Showcase. Basically Disney has created 10+ countries themed sections that people can walk through to see what life is like in those countries. From Canada to Morocco they have a wide selection. I was kinda mad India is not there. But anyways, had a lot of fun touring that. Best of all was the Acrobats show in 'China' with 5-12 year old little kids jumping on top of each other and doing some amazing stunts. Loved every minute of it and glad that we didn't miss it.
After Epcot, we drove home and just sat in my living room, talking and watching stuff on TV. At 4am, I dropped them off at the Tampa airport. Work on Monday was a big blur to me since I was so exhausted. All in all, it was a great mini-vacation - my second in two weeks! And it was with two people I care so much about.
Anyways, I'm gonna head off to bed now. Long day ahead tomorrow. Lotsa cool things at work to do.
Sometimes with great happiness comes great sorrow. I just received some awful news. My Divyesh Mama (mom's cousin) passed away last night from heart attack at the age of 46. He was the one who inspired me to get into the science field ever since I was a little boy. He bought me my most favorite game of all time - Brick-o-built, or as I still call it, my Red Game. He took me to science museums everytime I went to Bombay. He took me to his engineering work sites and showed me how he worked. And now he's no more. So many people close to me passed away or met with accident since I last went to India.
This is one tragedy on my family after another. From my cousin Keval's accident to my great-grandma's death to now my Mama's sudden death. Life is so delicate. We all forget that. And we all take it for granted. I am so sad right now. I guess that's why I got kittens. I am all alone in this land with nobody to hug when something like this hits me. At least now I have Giga and Tera. Good night.
Running a MarathonSun, 31st Oct '04, 6:20 pm::
I RAN THE DC MARINE CORPS MARATHON!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! OH MY GOD I AM SOOO HAPPY! And best of all our whole Team (my cousin Sagar, my cousin Purvi's fianceee Allen, and myself) completed it :) In case you want to see how I did, here is my timing.
Our team name was: For Keval. I am so happy because every minute that I ran, I was praying for Keval's speedy recovery. If you haven't been following my 'blog, he got into a motorcycle accident in January '04 and has been in coma ever since. We are all still hoping he wakes up some day!
I don't think I have ever been this tired in my entire life. 26.2 miles (42 kms) is a LONG way! Anyways, tonight is time for celebration. So some pizza and drinks follow. I will have to go to bed soon too because my flight is tomorrow at 8:55am.
Last year I also would not believe that my cousin Keval would be in hospital right now, 3 months in coma. Nor would I believe that Keval's dad, Paresh Uncle, would be in the news for getting angry at reporters because some minister across Keval's room had a loud birthday bash. I'm just overwhelmed at what Uncle/Aunty are going through right now.
My uncle reportedly said: "My 22-year-old son has been in a coma for the last three months and he was operated upon two days ago. How can he recover with so much noise?" You can check out the video of the CNBC broadcast here.
Job, Career, New lifeTue, 13th Apr '04, 7:45 am::
Here comes the long overdue lengthy 'blog entry. Lately I've been busy with too many things in my "real" life. So as you must have heard it by now, I have a job offer in St. Petersburg, Florida. My client wants to hire me full-time and will take care of my work visa (H1B etc.) requirements. The salary is good and my responsibilities are managable (or so I think). Here's what I've been upto:
Took a JetBlue flight to Florida on Friday night at 6:55pm. My online friend Taylor picked me up from the airport and brought me to his home. Turns out, just like his online persona, Tay is a real cool guy and despite his warning that in two days we'd be hating each other, we're still great friends; REAL friends now, not ONLINE anymore. After all, once I move to Florida, he's probably going to be one of a handful of people I know. So it's in my best interest to be nice to him *grin*
Next morning was the main interview with my client. It's always better to be over-dressed than under-dressed said Tay's dad. So over-dressed in a suit I went to my client's office, courtesy of Tay and his white pickup (more on the pickup truck later). Now about my client and soon to be boss... He is one of those people that you can instantly see made his own wealth from scratch. Very well-spoken and big-heart, he welcomed me into his office building like I owned it. My quite casual interview went on for the next six hours! My uncle had told me managerial positions aren't given by short 'n stout IQ tests but rather by long active personal examinations. Basically my client wanted to see whether my personality would fit in with his company or not.
To my pleasure, he thought I would fit in great and wants me to start working as soon as I graduate. I have a couple of commitments in Jersey (my work, my new apartment lease etc.) due to which I might be slightly delayed. But otherwise I'm trying to relocate as soon as I can. After all, Florida is beautiful and the work environment was great. Having been brought up in an mini-entreprenueral environment, I feel more at home as a manager in a small firm than a widget in a behemoth corporation. My dad owns his business and while I never said I want to inherit his particular business or form some startup with VCs etc., I've always looked at my work as if I own it. There is a spectrum of mentalities when it comes to responsibilities and I lie on one end, treating my work as if the outcome affects my whole company directly. At the other end of the band are most people who would love to get a job in Microsoft and Morgan Stanley - their work affects their bonuses. In between are people who partly care about the company and partly care about their packages. It's not about which mentality is right or wrong, it's more about can you find a place where you can fit in. Given my entreprenueral mentality, I think I'd fit better into a small company with broader responsibilities than in a large company with extremely specific job requirements. The big companies are doing fine without me. It's the small company where I can actually make a difference as well as learn what hard work and sleepless nights are all about. So yes, I'm fully aware my new job isn't going to be a cakewalk by any standards. Unless I interpreted things wrongly, it's going to be very difficult and I have a lot of goals to achieve in a very short time. Oh well, I've managed before and can do it again. The only difference this time is that now I know I must take care of my health before anything else.
During the interview I met one of my client's coolest employees and we went to lunch to The Dish. Interesting concept - you collect any amount of vegetables, fruits, mushrooms etc. in a bowl and sauces in another bowl and hand it over to the cook. Right in front of you they heat it all up together on a HUGE stove and hand it back to you. It was one of the best things I've ever eaten! Who knew broccoli could ever taste this good. Just thinking about The Dish makes me hungry. After lunch the interview continued and my client's wife walked in sometime around 3pm.
Now here's the critical part. Since the beginning of the interview, I was also interviewing my client in my head. I wanted to be sure that I was going to work at a place where the atmosphere was professional, systematic, and yet had some amount of homeliness and familial values. While my client proved to me within the first hour that his company is strong and growing, I still wasn't sure whether the work environment would be comfortable enough. I don't mind strict suit and tie formalities but being alone in this country for years to come, I want to work in a place which I can call home, simply because after work I gotta go back to an empty nest, obviously not home. And then one question she asked got rid of every doubt I had: "How is your cousin?" I'm just amazed that my client told her about Keval and that she remembered. It meant a lot to me. That's when I realized I'd found a new home and moving to Florida would be just like moving from my home in Calcutta to my aunt's home in Jersey.
Interview ended at 4:30pm and Tay being the coolest guy ever picked me up. One phone call after next, I estimate I spent $50 just one phone calls in that one day to inform everyone close to me that I am "gainfully" employed now. Tay's stepmom cooked some awesome Fettuccine Alfredo with vegetables for us for dinner and suggested a good comedy club we could go to. She basically knows every nook 'n cranny of the state. I told Taylor that people like her are the duct-tape that hold our society together, like my grandma and aunt, they take care of everyone and everything simply because they feel like they must. This is what I did at the Coconut Comedy Club: One Margarita, two Margarita, Motorcyle, Floor! Just kidding! I wasn't drunk at all. Seriously. No really. Trust me. I swear!!!!!!
Anyways, next morning we left for Universal Studios early and enjoyed about 5 rides/shows in 5 hours. It had been a while since I had just let loose and got the hell scared out of me - Back to the Future was the best. And then after the rides I kicked some Tay-butt in Ice Hockey and he danced like a chicken while playing Dance Dance Extreme Revolution Version XVII or something like that. As funny as he looked while doing it, I gotta admit there's NO way I can move that fast - not even if there's a gun on my head. So props to him.
The last ride that scared the HELL outta me was in his pickup truck from Universal Studios to the airport - the gas tank was EMPTY!!! There were no gas stations in sight and inside my head I was literally going crazy. I tried to stay as calm as I can but I knew something was gonna go wrong - after all my trip had been so wonderful and nothing is perfect ever! I'm gonna miss the flight! I'm gonna miss the stupid flight! Urghhhhhhh! Thankfully we found a gas station before the tank ran out and the ride to the airport thereafter was pretty smooth.
The only sad part was saying bye to him at the airport and early that morning, to his family. But the good thing is I'm moving to Florida and will be seeing more of them. Then the sad part will be saying bye to EVERYONE IN JERSEY!!! I admit it already - I'm gonna cry. I'll cry when I leave my present work and cry when I leave my friends and most of all when I leave my aunt's home. This is gonna suck major. Oh well, I'm a cruel bastard who keeps doing this to people ALL the time!
Keval has been taken out of the ICU and put in a normal hostpital room. He is breathing on his own and we all know he is fighting hard. We love him a lot and yes I dream about him almost every other day. I don't know why all of a sudden so many dreams about him. Its over two months since he's in coma and I guess I've finally come to terms with the whole deal. One of the early stages of experiencing trauma is disbelief or disassociation. Next is realization and then comes acceptance. I guess I'm somewhere between the last two stages. I just hope I was close to my Paresh Uncle 'n Rita Aunty right now. I used to think my parents were loving. From what I hear both of them have been doing to save and recover their son, they are the best father and mother alive. And if you believe in God, pray for Keval.
I just had a beautiful dream. I was in India at Keval's apartment and we were all talking while Keval was resting in bed in the other room. I just walked across the room and caught a glance at Keval. He was sitting in his bed praying to God. He turned his head at me, smiled, and then went back to sleep. He didn't say anything but the look on his face said that he's soon going to be back! Even if none of my own dreams, goals, wishes ever come true, I hope this dream comes true. You should have seen the smile on his face... I love you bro and we all miss you very much.
Just got this email from my sister:
"Keval opened his eyes a little bit for a few times since last night. That means he might get conscious in a few days. We are again planning to go to Mumbai in holi holidays, that's next week. Lets pray together."
Bena [means sister in Gujarati]
I suddenly feel so relieved. May I can finally sleep now.
Happy B'day Keval! I know I speak for my whole family and all your friends when I say that we just want you to wake up!!! Bro, open your eyes. You turn 22 today. Share your own b'day with us. That's all I want...
Been busy with stuff lately. Gotta send my resume to a few places. Keval's condition is still the same. He turns 22 in 3 days. It'd be wonderful if he wakes up on his b'day!
Been busy with work lately. Studies, job-hunt, GRE preparation, work all going in full-swing. My cousin Keval is still in the hospital. There's nothing we can do except wait and hope.
Saw Elyse over the weekend. Had some Smirnoff Ice and pizza while chilling with her. Had a lotta fun. Rest things are going ok I guess. Can't wait till I'm assigned my research topic.
Had my first day of school during my last semester. Three economics classes and one math. Nothing too interesting. Mostly decent boring stuff. It didn't seem too difficult either.
Keval's condition is still critical but hasn't changed in almost 3 days. We're just praying for him to get well.
I got news that Keval's toes almost moved. Another good sign I'm sure.
Keval just moved his jaws!!!!!! After 2 days on life-support system my cousin just showed some motion. Doctors are still saying that the situation is critical. But now we have much more hope. And of course he moved his jaws. He loves food :) My earliest childhood memory of Keval is him jumping as high as he could to grab the sacred onions hung outside the doors of his neighbours to ward off evil spirits. Seeing as how many onions he stole and instantly ate, I'm sure the neighbour's house was always haunted by monsters.
Thank you whoever is up there. Thanks a lot. Now we wait till he stands up on his own feet and gets a loving hug from the hundreds of people who love him.
For the first time in my life I wish I was a doctor. Keval's dad, Paresh Uncle called me up and said if I were a doctor, he would instantly call me to India otherwise it's better that I just stay here and pray for Keval's recovery. It hurts to be here so far away but I'm going to do whatever he says.
I try to divert my mind and think about other things but it's kinda hard to watch a movie when you know your cousin is half-way around the world attached to an artificial lung.
My cuzin Keval who got into a major motorbike accident yesterday in Goa, India is right now in Mumbai. His condition is now worse than we previously thought. After a second brain surgery to fix the blood clotting from the first operation, he is in an extremely critical state right now. We are all praying. Guess that's all we can do right now. But I trust him, he's a very strong kid - hell the strongest in the whole family. He must pull through.
Keval is recovering now. He is still in the ICU and condition is still very critical but I've been told to worry less. I guess I'll try. Thanks everyone for emailing me and praying for Keval's health.
Great news. They had kept Keval on an artificial respiratory system and now it has been removed because he is normally breathing on his own again :)
The only KevalSat, 17th Jan '04, 1:35 pm::
My cuzin Keval from Bombay is right now in a hospital in Goa. At about 3:30 PM Indian Standard Time today he had a severe accident while riding a motorcycle. He suffered injury to brain and eyes. After a successful brain surgery, doctors say he is in critical condition for the next 48 hours. My whole family is extremely worried at this moment. I don't have a brother but he's closer to me than a real brother. I got news that things are better now and that I shouldn't worry. As always, my dad said "Don't worry. God is with us." I'm sorry but I can't stop worrying. I am considering flying off to India in case the situation doesn't get better in a day or two.
I love you Keval. And I have faith that you will recover fully vey soon.
Last night as I was walking down Stone St. alone, I noticed at the strange shape of the shadows formed by the buildings. I wondered how many men it took to put out 12 black garbage bags. I was wondering what kinda person lived in a room, from which dark red light glowed. That's when it hit me! This was me, being my normal random inquisitive self. I'm never like this, when I'm walking with someone. Oft when I'm walking with a pretty lady, I think of different things, sometimes funny things, sometimes deep ideas, but never my carefree 'I-wonder-what' stuff. I always wonder how I'll know if someone's The One... Now I know. If I am thinking about the length of a squirrel's tail while walking down, holding someone's hand, she's the one. Hehe. Of course, if all I'm thikning about, are squirrels, then she'll prolly leave me, but you know what I mean.
Quote of the day: "I am C. You are C++" - Keval, my 21 year old cousin.
"And guess what the average age is in the [Indian IT] industry? Just 26 and a half! These 26/27-year-olds have changed the world's perception of India. It's not just a country of snake-charmers; it's a country against which protectionist walls have to be erected. Of course, we can also charm snakes." - Arun Shourie: Listen to the new India. Thanks Keval!
The Office Space Random Quote award for May 14th, 2003 goes to Keval Mehta. Congratulations! The lucky winner will get, umm, nothing... Prolly some peace of mind. Gotta love my cuzin though. Totally unexpected and spontaneous. Anyway here's the chat transcript:
- Keval: i'm tired of studying
Keval: and i'm not gonna do any more
Keval: i prolly wont
Chirag: when did you make this decision?
Keval: just an hour back
Chirag: lol really?
Keval: i am also not gonna pay any bills
Keval: i'm just gonna see some kung fu with my girl
More fun with the search feature - on average, I use the word 'pretty', in pretty much every other 'blog entry :)
(Warning - will take very LOOOONG to load - since well, it's half of my 'blog entries ever!)
Anyways, I've been chillin' @ the student center all day now. Trying to study, but just don't feel like it. Met up with Mihir and Radhi for a while. Radhi's my cuzin Keval's old classmate - in fact she told me they studied in the same class from kindergarten right till end of high school! Pretty awesome considering I don't even have friends who've been with me for more than 3 years :( I guess that's what happens when you keep moving from one place to another every few years. Hehe.
Here's to another great free lunch @ the Busch dining hall with Michele! Thx girl :) Well you see, me and her have Physics lab together on Monday (we're lab partners) and since we always finish our lab before everyone else in the class, we leave early and she takes me lunchin' @ the dining hall. She's got a 50 meals per semester plan, and since she doesn't eat @ the dining hall everyday, rather than waste 50 unused meals, she feeds me :) I love free food! Hehe. Sure... it's not that expensive and I can probably get my own meal plan (actually, it IS kinda expensive), but the thing is, I don't get hungry during the normal dining hall hours. I am hungriest after 10pm in the night, and they close at 8pm. So it's pretty much useless for me. However, free lunches... aha... I'm ALWAYS hungry for them :) Ya ya, I'll prolly have to make it upto the girl some way or another. I know she loves Taco Bell, so let's see...Hehe...
Anyways, tonight some guy's gonna come to see my room and decide if he wants to move in or not. If he does, then I'll be sharing my room with him till May-end and it'll save me (and the other 9 people in our house) like $65 a month! However, it'll also mean I lose some of my privacy. But oh well... let's see how it goes...
I got a class @ 4:30pm, then going to my room. Will do some computer science homework, setup two websites, and if I have time, work on Chime Away! v2.0 :) Yup, there's a v2.0 coming soon, basically cuz everyone wants to cycle their own away messages. So ya, I'm gonna try my best to finish it asap. You know what I love about my life @ the moment? I'm not bored. There's always some work I can do (and hopefully it's something I like).
And if you're reading this Vishal... you rock dude! And I miss you and Chetan - the two best friends I will ever have. And if you're reading this dear Dad... u da bomb pops! And if you're reading this grandpa 'n ma... I love you... And if you're reading this mom and sis... you are the two loveliest women on the planet and I love you both... And if you're reading this Niki, Keval, Sneh, Sagar, Chris, Megan, Vicky, Mich., Kath, Art, Manzinder, Syed, Steph, Aript, Ritesh, Vu, Steve, Taylor and whomever else I forget, you have made a big difference in my life, even if in small gestures of friendship; you guys have certainly made my life worth living and it is because of you guys that I look forward to waking up everyday (and those stupid 10am classes). And if you're reading this Jackie... yes I know I just mutilated and slaughtered the good ol' English language, but you know what, you inspire me and you better keep writing. And if you're reading this Jenny... you already know how much you mean to me, and just to annoy you even more, I won't write explicitly why you're the coolest chica I know.
There! Now I sound just like a high-school girl on her sweet-sixteen birthday! Hehe... Ok class now - it's already 4:25!
I'm studying for my economics exam right now.
My cuzin Keval just came online and told me that the IBM Research puzzle we solved together last week, has a list of people who answered it correctly, and our names are in there! Scroll to the bottom of this page till you see "Keval Mehta (12.14.2002@06:34:36PM EST)" and "Chirag Mehta (12.14.2002@06:34:36PM EST)". Well, next time we'll hopefully solve the puzzle on the first day itself. Hehe... And so our names would be on the TOP of the list rather than at the bottom. Ok back to Econ now.
Oh and I forgot to add to the list: Vera (the funniest dear-old-lady), Astrid (Kath's roommate), and my bro Keval from Bombay. Sorry to say, I really cannot show what he sent me, it's waaaaay too raunchy for my 'blog. Hehe. Ah, just like a true brother :)
What a great time to write my 'blog! Well it's been kinda hard to come online, mainly because I am having so much fun here in Bombay ;) My cuzin bro Keval and sis Nikita are both fast asleep behind me right now and I gotta be extra careful not to type loudly. Hehe. Reminds me of my first few weeks in US when I used to share my cuzin Sagar's room. Oh and a 10^10^10^10^10^10 thanks to everyone who emailed me saying that they want to read more about the stuff that's happened since I left US.
So lemme start from the very beginning. My flight from Newark to Bombay via Amsterdam was pretty exhausting. Although it was not terrible, it was still pretty uncomfortable, mostly because of the total lack of leg-room. But the 4 hours that I got to spend @ the Amsterdam airport were quite cool. I met this Russian chic Kitana (weird name) and had the world's worst glass of Coke. Too bad she had to take a different flight :( The funny thing is, she thought I was a Latino and not an Indian. Hehe. Of course then I proved my Indianhood by talking in the famous Simpsons character Apu's typical Indian accent.
Flight to Bombay was pretty good, mostly because I slept through half of it. I had some red wine, and now I know why scientists say a little of it is good for your health. The reason is - IT GODDAMN BURNS YOUR WHOLE CIRCULATORY & RESPIRATORY SYSTEM! Of course, I loved every second of it, but still, it was pretty unexpected, cuz I thought wine would be nice and sober, not hot. After I landed in Bombay, it took me over one hour to get my luggage and during that time I noticed that the famous Indian actress Rekha had been on my flight too! Somehow she got her luggage within the first 5 minutes. Ahhh the joys of being a celebrity... As soon as I came out of the airport, I saw my cuzin Keval, Paresh uncle, Ruskin mama & Family, Khushboo, Niyati, Baboo and god knows how - my buddy Vishal! I was like... err... he does NOT fit into the picture since he's supposed to be in Calcutta. Turns out he came here on a business trip and decided to drop by exactly @ the time of my flight. Hehe. No wonder I'm a happy man - my family & friends love me.
Now on 28th, I went high-quality-expensive-traditional Indian clothes shopping all around the city but didn't like much. Then went to meet a few relatives @ night. The fun part of the day was sitting in the car with Nikita and see her drive... Trust me it's gotta be one of the most thrilling rides in the world, even more adrenaline pumping than those roller-coaster monsters in theme parks.
On 29th (almost today), I went shopping once again and met my uncle's sister (that is my dad's sister's husband's sister) who took me around to a few more good clothes stores. I picked a nice dress for cuzin Sneh and my aunt and two for Sagar. The measurements/stitching/etc. will be ready in 2-3 weeks. I'm thinking of getting something for myself too, but not very sure. Maybe I'll get something custom-tailored in Calcutta. Then later in the evening, I met Nikita's fiance Mehul and we went to a really good fast food place - Cream C**** (it's too late for me to remember that right now). Anyway the food was good and it was great hanging out w/ the future bro-in-law. The neatest part came afterwards when we four (Mehul, Niki, Keval, and me) went to this roof-top hang-out-type restaurant called Koyla (which means 'coal' in Hindi). We just sat there for over two hours and chatted random stuff, mostly me telling my corny jokes :) Hehe. But it was all fun and in the end, we decided that I needed to stay more in Bombay and that just one day that I got to spend with everyone, is not enough. Let's see... there'll be a big debate in Calcutta soon. Hehehehe...
After Koyla, Mehul left for his house, we came home, Niki started talking to Mehul non-stop on her cell, I introduced Keval to the raw genius of Office Space that I have on my hard disk, and I worked out for 45 mins and did my regular 1000 half-crunches :) By god I'm tired right now. After my exercise, I checked my email and started this 'blog.
Happy Family News: My cuzin Keval from Bombay, managed to get an all-paid full-scholarship-type admission into one of India's biggest engineering colleges: K. J. Somaiya College of Engineering. Congrats bro! Oh well, smile all you can for the moment cuz in the end you'll end up studying god-knows what even more!
Just got back home. Had a pretty decent day @ college. Nuttin that interesting though. One good thing... I got my Linear Algebra quiz and Calc3 exam results... Let's just say I got good grades (cuz any more details and you'll think I'm trying to show off).
Oh and I spent almost half an hour before one of my classes sending sms (text message over cellular) to my brother Keval in Bombay! It was sooo much fun. My fingers hurt though. LOL.. Anyway it's dinner time! Yay! Tata...
Quote for the day: "Someday we, and by we I mean me, will be important..." - as quoted from some movie by some guy in the bus today.
Happy Birthday to my cuz bro Keval! I wish I was with you guys!
Had a long long boring day @ college today. 3 math classes for 5 hours and 3 hours of homework after that. My brain is completely ruined! I can't think. I need sleep. Good night. Got lots of homework to do tomorrow. Urghhhhhhh.