Friday, June 2, 2017

Ola and Uber - An Experience

I have been using either Ola or Uber for my daily commute to work for the past few months.  I had a conversation with Drivers quite regularly, ranging from Politics to Movies.  I became interested in how their experience with Ola or Uber was like and how they felt about their customers.  They shared some funny and some scary incidents.

Some points that were repeated way often:

1.  Ola's business model does not help drivers, almost to the point of being predatory.
2.  Ola passengers (yep, us) are quite rude and demanding.  Uber's passengers are relatively more accommodating and polite.
3.  Ola's app is unstable, clunky and crash prone.
4.  Uber's initial plans for drivers were awesome, not anymore.  Less payout nowadays, but still better than Ola's (Uber suffered $780 million Losses this FY)
5.  Uber's app is super accurate and robust.
6.  Passengers don't understand the concept of Uber Pool/Ola share.  They just look at the low price, but don't grasp the fact that the low price comes with an increased travel time.
7.  Customers trust Ola more than Uber.

Overall what I could gather is that Uber has a far superior technology and platform and is cheaper than Ola.  Consumers, however, are more comfortable with Ola.  But the tide is shifting with consumers steadily adopting Uber.  

Sunday, March 19, 2017

Space as The Final Frontier - The ultimate High

Movies like Interstellar or 2001:A Space Odyssey always make me feel insignificant and hopeless.  It leaves me in despair.  But also accompanying it is a sense of grandiose and greatness, it's a mixed and confusing feeling that feels like an afterglow of a drug binge (metaphorically), quite difficult to put in words or even describe orally.

What I can describe, though, is the sense of adventure and camaraderie I feel towards humanity and the earth after watching those movies.  We don't take Elon Musk seriously enough when he says that humans need to be a space faring civilization.  We cannot leave all our eggs in one basket, aka the Earth.  There are very high chances of a global extinction event over a long period of time.  It could be caused by anything among disease, war, extra-terrestrial objects hitting the Earth, climate change, a gamma ray burst etc.  It's a question of 'when' and not 'if'.  And as the current species roaming around aimlessly on the planet, we have to start acting in that direction, else our progeny would never forgive us.

But apart from acting out of the fear of the impending doom, it's the sense of adventure that moves the needle for me.  It's exploration for the sheer sake of it, like pure mathematics or like when the medieval explorers went out to range over the then formidable and unconquered seas.  Space is the next frontier, and in a few hundred years, we surely could and should have a colony on Mars.  By then, hopefully the rocket technology will have advanced enough to send humans beyond the Oort cloud to the nearby stars to search for our neighbors, just like medieval explorers did (although it did not turn out very good).  It's going to be humanity's blind ambition and hubris that will take us there.  Everyone alive today won't be there to see it happen, but we owe it to the future generations.  We owe to expand the knowledge we have of our past and future.

So what's to be done?  Bask in the glory of current scientific achievement.  Dream big and hope bigger.  Some people claim that we might have reached the end of Physics as we know it, but so was felt in 1920s when relativity was known, even before the giant called Quantum Mechanics was in its infancy or DNA hadn't been discovered.  Such is the nature of Nature.  Layers of mysteries that lead to further questions.  An endless race towards finding the grand unified theory, the ultimate truth of the cosmos.

Feels good to vent the High out.

Saturday, February 18, 2017

Days of our lives at Work and Workplace

Let's talk about Work and Workplace.

We spend around 40-45 hours a week at work, considering a 5-day work week.  It amounts to 26.7% of our week.  Over a long stretch of time, we must be spending at least 25% of our LIFE at work.  That's a quarter!  And considering we sleep for around 30%, work amounts to 38.1% of our conscious lives!

Those exclamations aren't just out of place.  It struck me like a brick.  It is common knowledge, but there is a difference between knowing something, realizing it and it cutting through your conscious.  It was an unnerving realization.  If I am miserable at work, I am unhappy for a quarter of my total life, and more than a third of my conscious life! That's 5 years in an active carrier of 20 years.

I went meta to understand what caused this sudden surge of spirituality; I concluded it could be mid life crisis, a time when career, personal life and unrequited dreams surface from their graves.  However philosophical it might seem, I gave it some thought.  We, the middle class working people, indeed do spend quite a lot of our life working.  It just does not make sense to be miserable at work.

The major factors causing distress, in my opinion, in decreasing order of wretchedness, would be:

1.  Supervisor/Manager/Boss
2.  Sense of Purpose - Kind of Work
3.  Pay
4.  Colleagues
5.  Workplace ergonomics

Some of these are out of an individual's control, after all we do not get to choose our boss.  I have also observed that no matter how awesome your workplace is, you are bound to get bored or annoyed of it at some point in time.  After all people leave the Googles and the Facebooks to join the Ubers and the Airbnbs.  But let's discount that case for this discussion.

In that case, from the above list, that leaves very little in our hands.  We can demand better conditions and more pay, or fake a sense of purpose, but that's about it.  What's the solution?  Honestly, I am not sure.  I would rather ride out the bad part of work whilst searching better opportunities.  I like to call it The Grunt, as Learned Helplessness never helps.  Again, it's very subjective, but chanting 'All Is Well' during finding a solution helps.  But the critical part is to keep looking for better in case of a bad workplace, and getting comfortable is quite impeding to this initiative.  And it's never too late, starting afresh does not mean a demoting experience.

As nicely stated in this article, "To not to have entirely wasted one's life seems to be a worthy accomplishment, if only for myself".