Six months back (14.Oct.2008 to be exact) I left my previous employer . It was a tough decision to make, after working with them for more than 7 years. It was equally tough to write the last day mail. This is what I ended up writing.

I have intentionally masked out some terms in the mail.

Dear all,
As some of you already know, I will be leaving B**** in the next few days. Although my dream was to work until retirement with this company, things took a different turn when I weighed work Vs family in a balance.
I’ve learned so much during my seven years here at B****. I believe I’ve grown both personally and professionally, and I attribute much of my growth to the amazing people that I’ve worked with and the awesome opportunities that B**** has provided me.
After a bit of googling I realised that writing a farewell mail is not all that easy when you want to do it from your heart. Let me share with you the most important life lessons I learned working for this great company. These are only my personal learnings and this could be different for others based on the situations they face.
1. Job-hopping is not all that essential
From my personal experience, job-hopping is not all that necessary for a faster career growth. It should be done only for the right reasons.
Whenever you are looking for the change, ask yourself these questions and evaluate the options given. It worked for me.
Am I leaving because,
1. The pay is too less -> You can convert an average salary into a good one if you have the right investment plans
2. The company is not meeting my demands -> Are you patient enough to wait for the right opportunities to come? People who have done this got better bigger opportunities than continuously demanding ones
3. I cannot tolerate some people (mostly managers 🙂 ) -> Accept people as they are. You cannot change how other people behave. Talk openly to them. If it fails, ignore.
2. Performance evaluation (P***) is not all that bad
I have seen very few people who came out with a smiling face after performance evaluations. Agree that few bad managers exist everywhere. Keeping that aside, what I learned is, we can make a change to this if we drive these evaluations. Rather than complaining that managers are not setting objectives on time, can we try to set our objectives (some of them may be termed wishes) and tell the manager – “This is what I would like to do”.
I am not speaking for managers here. I am not a manager myself. I am a TCP 🙂
3. Managing technology is easier than managing people

I learned that handling technology is easier than handling people. You realise it only once you are in that job. I salute all the good managers in B**** for the job they are doing.
4. Be different

I always tried to a different from others in whatever I do. I realised that this helps to innovate.
5. Do not compete with your colleagues, instead compete with the outside world

Many a times we compare ourselves with our peers to evaluate where we stand. Comparing yourself with outside world will make sure that you are valued correctly even outside B****.
6. Don’t say “I have no time”

This is one of the greatest learning I had with B****. I don’t agree when someone tells me – “I have no time”. If time is constant (24hrs a day) and it remains same for everyone, how can someone have less time. It’s all about how you manage your time. As taught in time management trainings, make an Urgent/Important Task Matrix. Trust me, it works!
7. Keep doing DAR (Decision Analysis and Resolution)

An average human mind can keep only upto 7 attributes of an entity in mind. When you have to take a decision which has more attributes than these, always go for DAR. I used this even for my personal decisions and it worked effectively. But keep in mind that there are some decisions you have to take with your heart.
8. Storm your brain

When you are out of ideas do a brainstorming. You will be amazed to see the results coming out.
I did use a mindmap to come out with this mail 🙂
9. Johari Window

A great technique to understand interpersonal communication and relationships. Google for this term. You will know what I mean.
10. B**** Office Sans

This is one of the best fonts I have ever used 🙂
Thank you so much for making my time at B**** a truly enjoyable one. I will try to meet all of you personally before I leave. Please keep in touch with me at n*******@y****.com
My very best wishes for the future goes out to each and every one of you.
Mit freundlichen Grüßen / Best regards,
Nirmal TS

I am Ujian

That’s the name of the album to be released in Germany by a new 14 year old pop singer Ujian (pronounced Uyan). When it hits the stands in June 2009, it might give Christina Aguilera and Britney Spears a run for their money. The talented singer hails from Switzerland and currently lives in Heilderberg, Germany.

“If there are any profits it will all stay with the zoo to refurbish the ape enclosure”, said producer Christian Wolf.

If you are wondering why the money is going to the Zoo, well, it’s because that’s where Ujian lives. Ujian is a orangutan at Heidelberg Zoo who learned to whistle last summer.  According to the zoo, Ujian started whistling after a vegetable delivery man was late coming to his cage. Ujian let out a disgruntled whistle in an attempt to get him to hurry up. From simple notes, Ujian soon graduated to melodic phrases. A local musician was impressed with his talent and decided to make a musical album having Ujain’s whistle in the background.

Ujian’s talent doesn’t end there. He along with his female live-in partners has painted and produced a number of abstract art works. The zoo recently held an auction of their paintings.

Even though Ujian might not be the first orangutan in the world to whistle, he can be glad that he is the first pop singer to produce a “Wind of Change” after Scorpions.

A caring elephant named Horton lived in the jungle of Nool. One day while taking a dip in the pool, a dust speck floats past him in the air, and he hears a tiny yelp coming from it. He finds out that the speck harbors the city of Whoville and all its microscopic inhabitants, led by a Mayor. Realising that Whoville would be destroyed if he doesn’t find a “safer more stable home”, Horton decides to place the speck on top of a mountain, the safest place in the jungle. The other inhabitants of Nool ridicules Horton and forces him to get rid of the speck. But Horton refuses saying “A person’s a person, no matter how small”. 
In the end, after facing lot of difficulties, Horton manages to convince others that he was right. Everyone helps Horton carry the speck up to the top of Mt. Nool. At the end of the movie, the camera zooms out, revealing that along with numerous other worlds in our universe, the jungle of Nool is just one speck among numerous others like our planet. 
The fiction ends here. Lets move on to a real life story.
On 23rd day of April 2009, an international team of astronomers discovered the most distant object in the universe — a spectacular stellar explosion known as a gamma-ray burst located about 13 billion light years away. The observations demonstrated that the record-breaking explosion occurred when the universe was only 630 million years old, or less than five percent of its present age. 
If you translate the numbers, it means, the explosion took place at a spot in the universe which could be reached if we travel at the speed of light for 13 billion years or the spot is 1,229,89,496,143,550,400,000,000 Kms  (76,422,129,851,386,900,000,000 Miles) away from us. Now, did you know that, to reach the sun we need to travel only 8.3 minutes at the speed of light?

No doubt we too live in Whoville.

Kurzarbeitergeld (wage for reduced working hours) or KUG wouldn’t be a new word for many employed in Germany during these turbulent economic times. Even though it is scary, I guess people who are receiving KUG should consider themselves lucky – that they still have a job in hand. 

Many undergoing Kurzarbeit would be waiting for the payslip (Brutto-Netto-Abrechnung) to find out how much they would have in hand for a month. The ones who already completed atleast a month with Kurzarbeit would be beating their brain to find out how KUG is calculated. 
In simple words, KUG is 60% of the difference Brutto (that is, difference between the Gross Salary you were receiving before Kurzarbeit and the Gross Salary during Kurzarbeit). In case, you have kids then it is slightly higher at 67%. Whatever it is, you might find that the calculations doesn’t seem to match with what you have in your payslip. Forget math and follow the simple steps below to find out the Netto (Net Salary) during Kurzarbeit.

Step 1
Step 2
Fill in the Brutto before Kurzarbeit and during Kurzarbeit. For example, if your Brutto was €4000 earlier and you are currently working only 50% (that is working for 20hrs a week instead of 40hrs), your current Brutto would be €2000. 
Also fill in the other details in the form and click berechnen.
Step 3
Note down the KUG calculated (€711,87 in the example above)
Step 4
Step 5
Fill in the Brutto during Kurzarbeit (same as before) and other details and click Berechnen.
Step 6
Note down Netto-Arbeitslohn.
Step 7
Sum up the noted down KUG and Netto-Arbeitslohn. This would be your Netto including KUG for the month.

Shall I change the title to “KUG calculation for dummies”?

Germany has its history written all over it, most of which every German would like to forget (or rather, not think about it anymore). But at times, the history sends its messages as gentle reminders of the pain the country and its people went through. 

Yesterday, some workers at a construction site, about 4kms from where we stay, uncovered human bones, what the experts later found to be the remains of a German soldier.

The remains also had 2 metal belt buckles, the knapsack of the soldier (which had an ashtray, a toothbrush with paste tubes and some coins) and some ammunition.

During World War II, Pforzheim was bombed a number of times. In one of the largest raids carried out by the British Royal Air Force, on the evening of February 23, 1945, about one fifth of the town’s population, over 17,000 people, were killed, and about 83% of the town’s buildings were destroyed.

Ironically, German authorities began an excavation yesterday at another site south of Berlin that they believe contains one of the last undiscovered mass graves of Jews killed by the Nazis. 

The excavation site marks the spot where, on February 2, 1945, 753 sick men and women, originally from Poland and Hungary, are believed to have been killed by the SS after being transported from Auschwitz death camp.

True reminders of the Final Solution (Endlösung) on Earth day.

I was at Karlsruhe Zoo during Easter weekend with my family. 

What amazed my 3 year old son the most was not the monkeys at the zoo, but the bus undergoing repair in front of the zoo.

It blew me away too, to see a pick-up truck and a van at the spot, engaged in replacing a tyre and 20+ onlookers (all watching just the tyre being replaced with at most curiosity).

Seems like German tyres are really tough! They rarely let the rim touch the ground.

A s my collection of DVDs (especially, the Thomas & Friends and Noddy favorites of my little mouse) grew, I was finding it extremely difficult to catalog them. A spreadsheet would have been a good solution some years back. But I don’t think I could manage the time anymore to type down all the inventory details into a sheet manually.  I stumbled upon a wonderful tool which cut the eternal Gordian knot for me. 

The Mac OS X based tool acts as a digital shelf. The really cool interface (which truly looks like a wooden shelf) displays the covers of all DVDs and books I have. All I had to do was to 

scan the barcode (ISBN/UPC) on my books/DVDs with the in-built camera on my notebook and Delicious Library downloaded all the necessary information from the Internet like the author, release date, description, and even a high-resolution image of the cover and added it to the library. The scanning and downloading of information is incredibly fast (that is, 4-5 seconds).  I even managed to catalog my television, DVD player, notebook and many other devices with the simple barcode scanning. The cool thing is, as soon as it locates the information on the net, it reads out the name of the item for me. So I don’t even have to look at my screen while scanning and can queue the items one after the other. 
This is how my shelf looks like now.
Delicious! Isn’t it?