Tuesday, July 21, 2009

"He who plants a tree, plants a hope."

- Lucy Larcom

The International Simulation and Gaming Association, ISAGA, an international organization for scientists and practitioners developing and using simulation, gaming and related methodologies, runs an international conference every year. Its 40th Annual Conference was recently held in NUS, Singapore. To commemorate its 40th Anniversary, ISAGA Conference Organizing Committee held a Tree Planting Ceremony on 2nd July at School of Computing, NUS. Here are some photographs of the event:

Reading the message from Vincent PETERS, General Secretary, ISAGA.

A native Singapore tree, Elaeocarpus Pedunculatus, was carefully laid into the ground by Pieter van der HIJDEN, a member of the Steering Committee of ISAGA, with the help of a staff member from the Office of Environmental Sustainability, NUS.

Prof KHOO Siau Cheng,
Acting Dean, School of Computing, NUS.

Organizing committee: Organising Chairs YEO Gee Kin (NUS School of Computing) and CAI Yiyu (NTU), Conference Secretary Bimlesh WADHWA (NUS School of Computing), Publicity Chair TAN Yew Khim (Taknet Systems Pte Ltd), Local Arrangement Chairs TAN Sun Teck (NUS School of Computing) and Abel Paschal TAY (of CEO Match, also the Publication Chair of the committee).

Everyone with the tree.

The Elaeocarpus Pedunculatus.

- Dr Bimlesh Wadhwa

Monday, July 20, 2009

Life in Monsoon

Going to office in Monsoon season is just like amazing race. I have seen couple of water logging, sudden traffic jam due to accident or flooding in subway. I think pictures tell more than words in this case.
Besides traffic, I also suffer from slight food poisoning. It is time to remind myself "bottle water only". Though heavy rain brings a lot of inconvenience to us, it reliefs water shortage that some area have limited supply of water last month. But now, no one needs to worry about that, no wonder kids and adults are dancing for the 1st rain.

Wednesday, July 8, 2009

And it all comes to an end...

The dreaded day has come. The end of the week-long workshop. Before I summarise my thoughts on the trip, Let's look at what happened on this final day.

The first item on this day's itinerary was to visit the very diversified MNC Honeywell. The company is present in many industries related to technology and manufacturing, for example, aerospace products & services, automotive products, homes and industry and many more. Here we were given a presentation on the company and then a visit to one of their technology labs, which was focusing currently on wireless monitoring technology. It really gave us a insight into how it was to work in an environment filled with computers & technology, left, right and center! And it was a huge compound.

Next we rushed back to our lodgings to get ready for our presentations for Prof. Iyer! The topics ranged from the culture of India to ideas that could be implemented in a technology hub like Bangalore. My group's presentation touched on the topic of India's retail industry and how opening up to more FDI (Foreign Direct Investment) can be more beneficial than it is harmful. It was a great experience to have at the end of this trip to see what everyone has learnt and seen in this short one week in Bangalore and I'm sure Prof. Iyer was impressed too.

After we ended, we rushed to pack our bags and bid our final farewells to ECC and the staff. We especially rushed to meet up with Jabaraj and his children (who were actually taking their afternoon nap) Oops!

The next stop was the appreciation dinner which was held in The Gateway Hotel near the shopping districts. At this dinner, we meet up with not only the Prof. Iyer and the May batch of NUS students in Bangalore but also most of the guest speakers we met during our workshop there. It was definitely a nice experience to meet up with all of them again! After some nice words from our organisers especially Prof. Iyer, we went to our tables and enjoyed a night of great Indian food and taking lots of photos!

As the hours passed, Theepan and myself as well as 2 other fellow students had to catch a midnight flight back to Singapore. The rest of the students did not leave with us as they were continuing their own adventures all over different parts of India!

As we waited for our plane, I had mixed feelings. Part of me wanted to go home but the other part really was going to miss the amazing culture and the very hospitable people of India.

I learnt an amazing amount of things in this one week of the Experience India! Workshop. I cannot thank you enough all those who made this trip possible for us like Prof. Iyer & Dr Bimlesh Wadhwa. I definitely recommend this program and the CS3109 Overseas Expedition module. It is one thing to learn theories in class and be tested for it. But nothing will trump experience it first-hand. Finally I must say I'm glad that Theepan and myself were given the opportunity to share our great trip with everyone!

To end it off, here are some shots of street photography on my last day in Bangalore.

Experience India! Day 8

This was the day I was looking forward to when I first arrived in Bangalore but towards the end of the trip, I just wished that this day would not come. Well in reality, for every beginning, there will be an ending. It’s a fact that we have to accept whether we like it or not.

On Day 8, the last day of Bangalore Exploratory Trip, we had one more site visit to another well- known company, Honeywell. It started off just like any other day but the atmosphere was a little different as it was the ‘finale’ of our Bangalore learning journey. So as usual, I shall commence my post with some background information of the company.

Honeywell is an American MNC that produces a variety of consumer products, engineering services, and aerospace systems for a wide variety of customers, from private consumers to major corporations and governments. Industries served by Honeywell are Aerospace, Automation and Control solutions, Specialty materials and Transportation systems.

The Honeywell staffs gave us a clear insight of the main businesses of the company. Thereafter, they brought us to the research labs to show their new products which are still under development. These new gadgets are capable of outperforming the current devices in the market. Overall, the site visit to Honeywell was a fruitful one.

Later we went back to ECC to gear ourselves for the Final presentation. We took this opportunity to show the knowledge we’ve gained through this trip. I learnt a lot from my friends’ presentations as each group was covering different topics.

Then, some of us did the packing at the eleventh hour before leaving to Taj hotel for our end of workshop dinner. Over there, we met the May batch group and had some interactions and photo sessions with them. All those who were involved in the workshop were present there to celebrate and take part in the dinner. The presentation of the May batch group was hilarious and it more or less summarized the feelings and experiences of every Singaporean intern in Bangalore. It was a great evening and it was time for us to part from some of our fellow friends who remained in India to explore more. Later, we arrived at Bangalore International Airport to fly back to Singapore. Despite the initial delay in Bangalore which was due to some technical faults in the plane, we still touched down in Singapore.

Experience India! , a week- long workshop, has given me an invaluable opportunity to explore the IT companies and many more in Bangalore. As a SOC student, it was truly an insight into 21th – century Information Technology in India.

I will strongly urge SOC students to go for this workshop as it is really an eye- opener. In addition, SOC students do get 2 MCs for this. The module is evaluated as “Completed Satisfactory/Completed Unsatisfactory (CS/CU)” based on the continual assessment and final report. Finally, I’d like to thank Dr Bimlesh Wadhwa and Juliana Ung Bee Chin for giving me an opportunity to share my learning experience in this blog.

Tuesday, July 7, 2009

Back to Work!

After a long day out of town the day before, this time we get back to the serious business! I must say it wasn't easy waking up early for this day as we only returned from Mysore after 1am the night before. However we still managed to be on time!

This day's first company visit was to the medium-sized IT solutions company, MindTree. At first I thought that I had more or less of an idea of the culture of the companies in India. But after visiting MindTree, I must say I was pleasantly surprised! MindTree has a really unique and strong culture, which they run their company by. Their Values are CLASS or;

- Caring
- Learning
- Achieving
- Sharing
- Social Responsibility

And they go by the DNA of Imagination to Action to Joy. It was also the first time we got a pretty in-depth tour of a company's premises. What we saw in the building really followed in facilitating the Values & DNA, not just in work culture but in the infrastructure as well. From gathering areas for informal presentations and discussions, to photographs of inspirational people (decided by the staff in fact), to a comprehensive 14 days to 3 month orientation & training program for new staff and even arrange their office cubicles in groups of 7, just like most Indian family households. MindTree goes out of its way to achieve success with the Values & DNA of the company.

Another point which they value a lot is the 95:95:95 rule, whereby 95% of the time, 95% of the information will be available to 95% of the employees. I find this and its other values really a great corporate culture and they have really impressed me. I may consider working in that company too! There's so much to talk about this company but I'd better move on to the rest of the day before this gets too long-winded.

MindTree Campus

So after lunch we visited Manipal Hospital. It was quite a fruitful trip and I know some of you might be thinking what has this got to do with entrepreneurship but I believe knowing about the healthcare system in India can come in quite useful when doing business in Bangalore. I must say the visit was extremely thorough and we weren't complaining. As Manipal Hospital is more of a tertiary medical care centre where it houses a lot of specialists, we managed to see a lot of types of medical care. One that really caught our imagination was Sports medicine department where they actually train the top athletes of India, like the national cricket team!
Manipal Hospital

After a quick stopover at the shopping district for some last minute shopping, we headed back to the lodging to complete our presentation due for the next day!

More street photography from this day...

Monday, July 6, 2009

Experience India! Day 7

Day 5 and 6 were full of joy. And now we are back to some serious business, on Day 7 and 8 (the last day), we had ONLY site visits. It’s still not so bad as we got to relax on the way to the companies and then we transformed into nerds again taking down notes in the companies. And one more thing which I’d like to share, the company visits are usually fun as we get to learn new things.

On day 7, we had site visits lined up for us. In the first part of the day, we traveled to Mindtree Consulting, Bangalore but it was pretty far. We also traveled on the new national highway which stretches from Bangalore to Mumbai, unlike other Indian roads, this highway was very smooth and even, so we didn’t have a bumpy ride. Mindtree Consulting is one of the fastest growing IT and R&D Services company.
MindTree is a unique organization and, their mission is:

- Successful Customers
- Happy People
- Innovative Solutions

The moment I entered Mindtree’s premise, I felt the presence of a strong and unique culture there. Then I learnt that every MindTree Mind is driven by CLASS, the acronym for our core values of Caring, Learning, Achieving, Sharing, and Social Responsibility. Even Mindtree’s logo was designed by a student of a school run by the Spastics Society of Karnataka. Mindtree trains fresh graduates within the same premise where the conditions are conducive to learning. I like the environment, wherever we went, we saw many colourful and cheerful paintings on the walls by the students of schools run by Spastic Society of Karnataka. Mindtree has adopted an entirely new concept and approach which encourages Innovation. In addition, Mindtree also sends out magazines to the parents of the employees (most of them are young and active) to give them an insight of the happenings in the company. The company ensures that every individual is well taken care of and promotes team work. These are the key factors for the company to excel and stand out in this competitive market.

In the second part of the day, instead of visiting a company, we visited a Manipal Hospital. Prior to the Manipal Hospital visit, we were told that they’ll be covering more on the entrepreneurial aspect of the hospital. But what we learnt were their services and facilities. Most of Manipal’s doctors are well- qualified ones who have served in overseas hospitals (US, UK, Canada and etc). Manipal hospital provides free and concessional services to the needy also. The Department of Social Service is responsible for granting this concessional care after evaluating the patients who require or ask for such free and concessional care. In spite of the frequent blackouts, there are attractive features that the hospital provides to their patients and patients’ family members. For instance, in their Ultra Deluxe Rooms, there is wireless internet connection, a telephone, a television and a controllable air- conditioner. Manipal Hospital’s physiotherapy treatments are so much affordable, unlike the cost of physiotherapy in other developed countries. The hospital’s physiotherapy department owns state of the art physiotherapy equipment to treat their patients also. And believe me or not, there’s an equipment to treat patients’ with severe back problems and the doctors guarantee a 100% cure depending on the individuals. I was really convinced by that statement. What makes the hospital to stand out is the abundance of hospitality. Unlike Singaporean hospitals, this hospital has an idol of Lord Ganesh, the god of wisdom and the remover of obstacles, which shows that religion, plays a big role in every Indian’s life. Manipal Hospital is contributing significantly to the growth of Indian Medical Tourism.

You may visit Manipal’s website also to find out more about them:

And don’t forget to check out the
Symptom Checker in Manipal’s website, it’s cool.


Note: This is post is going to be photo-intensive!

It's Sunday and we finally get to travel out of Bangalore for some great R&R. We got to be like silly tourists! We woke up really early in the morning, around 5am so that we could leave early for our 4 hour journey to Mysore. We took 3 different cabs and some of the drivers even gave us an impromptu explanation on the monuments we've see.

Breakfast @ Cafe Coffee Day
The sights on the way to Mysore

Tipu Sultan ruled the Mysore Kingdom for a period of time and the next few photos are of the places related to him and his family.

Tipu Sultan’s Summer Palace
Tomb of Tipu Sultan & his family

Next stop is Jamia Masjid where Tipu Sultan used to go regularly for prayers. He was known to have never missed any of his daily 5 prayers in his entire life.

Next we visited some other sights in the Mysore Kingdom

A Hindu temple in the Mysore Kingdom

St. Philomena Church

Our final stop is the Mysore Palace and I must say it was one of the most intricate and beautiful things I have ever seen. It was a shame that we could not take any photos of inside the palace but the exterior was just as beautiful.

And just when I thought the palace could not impress me any further, we were lucky enough to be there on a Sunday, the one and only day in the week where the entire Mysore palace and it's walls 360 degrees around will magnificently light up! It was truly a breathtaking view. On top of that, a military band was playing patriotic music right in the palace itself to the pleasure of every visitor!

I will definitely never forget this trip to Mysore and was definitely one of the highlights of this entire workshop. Really gave us an insight more into Indian's past and culture.