Monday, September 24, 2007

Vikram's school

Some of you might know that Vikram comes from an illustrious family of lawyers. Both his parents are lawyers. Vikram's grandfather was in fact, the first Chief Justice on the Indian Supreme Court after independence. His family owns a village and tea plantations near Chennai. The most impressive thing though is the free school that Vikram's family operates for poor kids in the outskirts of Chennai.

On my last visit to the Chennai office, Vikram took me to this school and I was impressed by what Vikram's family has done there. It is a very impressive school with K-10 education and Vikram's family fully pays for the cost of running the school with the mission of educating the poor children in the village. In addition, the children are given free food and clothes and Vikram's family goes the extra mile to run a school bus to pick up the children from their homes so that they do not miss out on school because of commute problems. I spent some time at the school and it is a great feeling to see these smart curious boys and girls who would have been spending time working as labor on farms if not for the free education provided by the school.

I'd like to give Vikram my support and best wishes in his endeavor of giving a better future through a good education to these little kids.


Friday, September 21, 2007


I can still remember my interview with Vikram, which we had in his house. Some of the interview questions were:
a. Do you think India will win the match today?
b. In what channel do they telecast the match?

As you may not have guessed, I answered these two questions wrongly!

Soccer cleats

My favorite thing about Vikram is that he either couldn't afford or was too lazy to buy a decent pair of shoes for most of my first year here at Efficient Frontier. He wore worn out soccer cleats with no socks. It was also during this time that he and some of the other engineers played cricket downstairs in an open office in our Palo Alto office. Perhaps he felt the worn out cleats gave him an unfair advantage in "indoor cricket."

Demon Tea

I remember that Vikram returned from India one time with a 1kg sack of tea leaves, possibly from his family's plantation. We brewed a pot of the tea and everyone at the time (me, Shawn Myers, Bill Hudak, Trish?, Anand) drank a cup. The tea turned out to be so strong that Bill became sick and had to go home for the day, and from then we called his stuff "Demon Tea."

Vikram and the Princess

Though Vikram is a happily married man now when he started Efficient Frontier he was an eligible bachelor. When questioned about his dating life by co-workers (Junior, DWhite and Trish), Vikram would say he was too busy with school to meet girls. We offered up our matchmaking assistance for our seemingly shy friend but he wasn't interested. So we assumed he was content with work and his studies…that is until we learned about his secret, double life...

You see, at the time Vikram lived in a cottage behind a professor's house. This professor was the world's foremost authority on Bhutan. So when the Bhutanese King sent his daughters to the U.S. for college he entrusted them to the care of this professor. Do you see where this story is going? So it turns out the reason our friend and colleague, Vikram, didn’t need our dating help was because he spending time with a princess. Would our friend become Prince of Bhutan? Was there a royal wedding in our futures?...

Though he broke the princess' heart (I may be embellishing a bit here) he had a vow to return to India and his family. Upon his return home he met and married his lovely wife and the rest is fairytale history.

Thursday, September 20, 2007

Flaming Fingers Vikram

Vikram has always been partial to Cheetos. This is the transcript of an actual conversation with Vikram:

Anand: had a good janmashtami? filled up with goodies?
Vikram: yes, it was good. thanks. sweets though - i dont like sweets
A: no murukku business is it?
V: "cheedai" - non-sweet round items. not liked either. no festival involves popcorn or corn-puffs unfortunately.

There has always been an easy way to bribe Vikram to do anything one wants: Offer him Flaming hot Cheetos. Trish used to do this to great effect back in the day whenever she wanted Vikram to load her click data or her revenue data and so on.

The thing about flaming hot cheetos is that it converts your fingers to a reddish-purple hue. And when you spend most of your time typing at a keyboard, this converts all your keys to a reddish-purple hue also. This also renders your keyboard unusable by anyone except a touch typist because the lettering on the keys are indistinguishable.

Tuesday, September 18, 2007

Tax Fugitive Vikram

Vikram famously never filed his tax returns. His thinking was that since he surely didn't owe any, he didn't consider filing important. (For those of you keeping score, Vikram comes from a family of illustrious tax lawyers in India. He probably knows whereof he speaks). This went on for a long time, until he came visiting last year. He finally ponied up a few hundred bucks for a tax preparer and had all his 7 years of taxes filed. Turned out he was due a huge refund. Unfortunately, he didn't actually get any. He also owed various cities and states many hundreds of dollars in parking and other driving related tickets. Apparently they garnished his IRS refunds to cover them.