Simply Living Hardly Thinking

Not Always
October 7th, 2014 by bkbirla

How to make the damn thing scale

Steel_ruler_closeupSo all of us have been thinking how some of the websites are not able to take on the traffic they get exposed to. We have reached a critical mass in the industry and it is important for large internet companies to take this more seriously and also understand that scaling goes beyond adding hardware. Here are few aspects I would like to point out based on my experience.


This is one big issue. Even Flipkart has pointed this out in their apology. The dynamics of marketing have changed. The various mediums have evolved and how the marketing is measured has not made much progress. Traffic estimation has to become more scientific and we also need to measure both online as well as offline mediums.


Another ignored area by lots of companies. A strong testing organization is need of the hour. Software has become much more complex and distributed. Testing is not just about overall functionality. In most of the scenarios the actual user scenario leads to invocation of multiple components and interactions between those components need to be carefully modeled to handle edge case scenarios. Always remember, you are as strong as your weakest link. Testing strategy needs to take into account for the weakest component also.

Hardware is not magic bullet

We can not solve everything by adding hardware. Sometimes business owners do make an assumption that just adding hardware can help but it can also make your deployments more complex and sometimes that can cause more harm.

Horizontal or Vertical

Old technical debate about the right way to scale things. But at the internet scale of things, you will probably need both.

Chose your open source wisely

Gone are the days when people wrote code from scratch. Nowadays it is common to use components from all over the place. It is important that you test all of them properly for scale before using them. Just because they worked well in some other scenario does not mean that they will work well for you. The way you use them might be different.


Performance is still relevant and important. In the days of quick development cycles, this is often ignored and pushed to be last priority. But bad performance of a single component can have a cascading effect in the entire cycle so individual components need to be designed and tested to perform under stress.

Do add other things if you think they are important.


September 16th, 2014 by bkbirla

Poem : बुलबुला


बुलबुला हूँ कुछ ही क्षण में
क्षत विक्षत हो जाऊंगा
पर अपने जीवन की अल्पता से
मैं नहीं घबराऊंगा

चाहे सतह पर ही हो मेरे
सात रंगों की चमक
चाहे अंतरमन में उपस्थित
हो एकाकी शून्य तक
एक बच्चे की ख़ुशी बन के मैं
स्वयं ही बिखर जाऊंगा

अपने जीवन की अल्पता से
मैं नहीं घबराऊंगा

किसने समझी है यहाँ पर
नटखट समय की हठाखेलियाँ
एक क्षण में प्राप्त सब है
दूजे में सब खोये यहाँ
कब तलक इन आंकड़ों में
फँस के मैं रह पाऊँगा

अपने जीवन की अल्पता से
मैं नहीं घबराऊंगा

ना तिमिर का भेदी हूँ मैं
ना कोई घर का दिया
एक पल में जी लिया
एक पल में मर लिया
लुप्त होते होते भी
बस यही दोहराऊंगा

अपने जीवन की अल्पता से
मैं नहीं घबराऊंगा


August 18th, 2014 by bkbirla

Celebrating my Steve Jobs moment

So I know you are confused. What’s the deal about this Steve Jobs moment and why the hell I am celebrating it. I think my story of getting fired from my own company last year on 20th Aug, 2013 is well known. I don’t know who it was but someone named it as my Steve Jobs moment. And now the question that why I am celebrating it. Look, let us get it straight, getting fired from your own company is not a happy moment for anybody. But life has to move on. You have to figure out what to do next and get it done. There is no single failure which can bog you down for life. So I have decided to celebrate it.

So now comes the next question, how to celebrate it. After all we are used to celebrating birthdays, anniversaries, new year etc. Nobody knows how to celebrate this. So let me try to put forward a framework and activities to celebrate it.

  1. You can call or drop in to my office and say “Happy Steve Jobs Day to you”. Add the music and tune if you wish. I have chocos for everyone who drops in to my office and the coffee is on me.
  2. You can wish me on my social media accounts. Here are the links – Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn
  3. You can send me books like How (Not) to Get Fired from Your Job
  4. You can send me chocos, flowers, gifts etc. I am accepting it from everyone. Even ZhaapNow is welcome to send it across.
  5. You can share your Steve Jobs moment with me and feel lighter about it. I will give you a jadoo ki jhappi to make you feel better ( 2 jhappies for women entrepreneurs ) and you can remember the magical lines by Gulzar – Dil bahal to jaayega, iss khayal se, haal mil gaya tumhara, apne haal se.
  6. Enough yaar, think of few things yourself also

And here is a report card of good, bad ugly part of my life after Steve Jobs moment. I had stated following agenda last year and I seem to doing OK on some fronts – Entrepreneur, Interrupted and then Resurrected

  1. BBG ( Bhoole Bisre Geet ) work has continued to give me happiness beyond I could ever imagine. In last one year we have done shows for Airforce, Cancer patients, Mental patients, kids with genetic disorder, Mumbai police etc. All these events have brought happiness to me and made me feel that there is no happiness like spreading happiness.
  2. Launching AdalBdal with some dear friends has been awesome experience. It is not just about how this product has expanded to other geographies, but also the process of building it. I have enjoyed spending the time together, debating on various features and spending our weekends building this. And yes, eating together on weekends also.
  3. I have been on a mentoring sprint in past one year. I must have easily mentored over 100 entrepreneurs over past one year. I meet atleast 3-4 companies every week. This has been one of the most satisfying aspect of my professional life. Working with such a diverse set of individuals and business scenarios has helped me understand the startup eco-system much better. The best part of all this is that it has happened over a friendly cup of coffee, not any complex mentoring/accelerator/VC setups.
  4. I have been able to take care of my health much better in past few months. I have been doing regular exercise and also trying to inspire few friends. My sincere thanks goes out to my friends who inspired and  bigger thanks to friends who blackmailed me to ensure I take care of my health.
  5. I finished a poetry book titled Besabab Likhta hoon Main
  1. I was planning to work on suicide issues in IIT Kanpur. I have not been able to make significant progress on that front. This has been due to some lack of effort on my side as well as bureaucracy in IIT. Hoping to make some progress on this in this year.
  2. I am also falling behind on launching another product company. Hoping to get that out in few months.
  3. I have been planning to launch a music album titled Kaash but I have not been able to finish it yet.


  1. It is sad to see a company you built with your blood and sweat going down in a year. I still get lots customer complaints and unfortunately I can’t do anything to fix them. Where peers have grown by leaps and bounds, lack of Zhaapnow growth hurts me and pinches me.
  2. I thought getting fired from my own company was a shocker enough but the real shock was after that. What the company did to me and rest of the employees is what I call “assholeness of legendary proportions”. They fired almost all the employees who were good performers just because they knew me. Come on Bhukhri/Bhukesh, you could have cooked up better reasons dude. IITK CS ka itna bhi izzat nahin utaro.
  3. They just refuse to grant me even an ex-employee status. No responses to mail reminders on settling things and they don’t even have the basic courtesy of returning my sister’s fridge which I had brought to office, let aside money and stocks. So much for professionalism of a company funded by respected names in the industry. Holy be thy name.
And here is a song to end the post which sums up lots of philosophies of life…


August 4th, 2014 by bkbirla

Ten gems from Kishore Kumar

So here is my top ten in no particular order

Amazingly romantic song. The way he puts emotions in every word is awesome. The way of conveying love is so indirect and beautiful.


Deeply philosophical and a song which conveys various emotions tangled with each other. His voice brings out the confusion of emotions in a very elegant way.



The song that mixes melancholy and hope in exactly the right proportions.



And this song when hope is gone and sadness engulfs you from all sides. The texture of his voice is awesome in this song.



The feel of this song is amazing. Takes you to a word far far away.



This voice could melt mountains any day. Looks almost like a conversation but his awesome voice quality comes out.



Full of life and every word unfolds like a dawn. Full of life and shining.



Sorrow drips from each and every word which just pierces the heart.



The humming before song is one of the best you can ever hear.



And how can I forget this which made Kishore Kumar. All time favorite romantic song.

July 13th, 2014 by bkbirla

Lucknow Matar Tikki Recepie

This is Lucknow special. I haven’t come across this anywhere else. Making this is simple. Boil white/yellow matar after soaking it overnight. You might need 6-7 whistles. Spread it on a non-stick. Keep disturbing it with a spatula at regular intervals. When it gets stuck to tawa, peel it and mix it back. This is what makes it crispy within. Keep pouring some ghee/oil also when it has become a bit dry. When it becomes relatively solid, make tikkis from them and shallow fry. One easy way to make tikki is that stuff it hard in a small katori and then bang it upside down on tawa. This does drink good amount of oil so plan it based on your tolerance levels. I made this with olive oil.
I haven’t done much garnishing in this pic except lime juice and red chilli powder. You can always add chopped ginger and corriander leaves. Broken gol gappas on top of this make it even more crunchy.


July 1st, 2014 by bkbirla

No greed networking





Let me get back to my childhood. We used to stay in a small place called Etawah. I am talking about late seventies here. We used to celebrate 3 festivals. Holi, Diwali and Eid. The schedule on Diwali and Eid was pretty much the same. Go around the town with dad and eat to your heart’s content. It was an occasion to connect up and ask haal-chaal. And then there were occasions of marriage in town and I always saw my dad manage the kitchen and those days were different in terms of how marriages were organized. It was not outsourced like it is nowadays. And then when someone died anywhere in town, my dad was always there to lend his shoulder to the departed soul. The principle of networking was simple, be there in happiness and be there in sadness.


And let us turn the clock ahead by thirty years. Things have changed. Festivals have evolved and so have the people. Principles of networking have also evolved. People are taught networking in colleges. People signup for things ranging from golf to NGOs just to network. It has almost become like a sales exercise. Networking has turned out to be an extremely selfish exercise.


What if we could follow rather simple rules for networking. I mean just try to help people and hope some goodness comes back to you. I know this is a bit idealistic, but give it a shot, and let me know if worked for you.


June 1st, 2014 by bkbirla

Poem – इस पेड़ पे जो लटकी हैं, वो लाशें नहीं हैं




इस पेड़ पे जो लटकी हैं,

वो लाशें नहीं हैं
खुशबू थीं वो किसी घर की

इज़्ज़त थी किसी के दर की

खेलती थी कभी शायद

इसी पेड़ के तले

छुपती थी कभी शायद

इस पेड़ की ओट में

और शायद कभी इस पेड़ पे

चढ़ के खेल भी होगा

पर आज वो लटकी हैं

एक बेज़ुबान बुत बन के

पेड़ ही अच्छे हैं

शायद इन इंसानों से

जीते जी भी छाँव देते हैं

और मरने के बाद भी

मुक्ति आग देते हैं
इस पेड़ पे जो लटकी हैं,

वो लाशें नहीं हैं
कुछ सवाल हैं वो

बहुत ही तीखे

इस गर्म सन्नाटे में

हम सब के लिये

जाति में बांटते हैं हम

जाने क्यूँ हर इंसान को

धर्म से आंकते हैं हम

इंसान की पहचान को

नज़रें बदल जाती हैं अपनी

लिंग के आधार पर

रोती होगी इंसानियत भी

इस घिनोने अत्याचार पर
इस पेड़ पे जो लटकी हैं,

वो लाशें नहीं हैं
एक धब्बा हैं शर्म का

हमारी नंगी अंतरात्मा पर

एक धब्बा है शर्म का

झूठे सांस्कृतिक गौरव पर

एक धब्बा है शर्म का

काल्पनिक आज़ादी पर

एक धब्बा है शर्म का

लोकतंत्र के छलावे पर

सच्ची अंतरात्मा तो वो है

जब कथनी और करनी मैं न भेद हो

सच्ची संस्कृति तो वो है

जहाँ नारी को वस्तु न समझा जाये

सच्ची आज़ादी तो वो है

जब इंसान में इंसानियत हो

सच्चा लोकतंत्र तो वो है

जहाँ हर व्यकति की इज़्ज़त हो
इस पेड़ पे जो लटकी हैं,

वो लाशें नहीं हैं


Apologies to people who find these pictures disturbing, but as a poet my duty is to put the naked truth in front of you.


June 1st, 2014 by bkbirla

Poem : ज़िन्दगी में

कितने लगायें अब पैबन्द ज़िन्दगी में

हो चुके हैं सब रास्ते अब बंद ज़िन्दगी में


रिसते हैं अब तो ज़ख्म लहू से कभी अश्कों से

अपने भी हुआ करते थे हौसले बुलंद ज़िन्दगी में


लम्हों को जाने मुझ से ये कैसी दुश्मनी है

मुझ को भी मिलते ख़ुशी के चंद ज़िन्दगी में


ना होता दर्द ना होता रंज मुझ को भी ए “कशिश”

अगर होता मैं भी संगदिल तेरे मानिंद ज़िन्दगी में


May 20th, 2014 by bkbirla

Some days you remember and some days get engraved on you

This sums it up. Memories are good, but then few things are beyond memories. Few moments, few days, few mins which take you beyond the realms of memory. Yes, they get engraved in your soul and your very existence. And this picture sums it up.
We at BBG are always proud to do music shows for various causes and we were performing in Regional Mental Hospital, Thane to entertain the patients on 17th May, 2014.
One of the patients got up and sang the following song – Donon ne kiya tha pyar magar, mujhe yaad raha tu bhool gayi

What an emotional rendition it was. All of us were just stunned. He was in tune and voice full of emotions. We could see people in the crowd crying watching this emotional rendition. Isn’t that what music is all about. And when he was asked about his story, he told that he got divorced from somebody he loved. What a way to express his feelings.


I have no idea for how long he had been waiting for this expression. I don’t even know if this expression changes something in his mental state. But one thing I am sure of is that he would have slept a better sleep, probably with a smile, remembering some good times and most of us who were present to witness this would have got a different perspective on love. Remember, this is not a movie where real life. The emotions were real and so were the tears of people who watched and heard this.


I will not thank anyone for this meetup. We at BBG are just fortunate to get an opportunity to provide an expression of emotion opportunity to somebody who needed it a lot. We are blessed indeed.


March 24th, 2014 by bkbirla

Change the world… Welcome to AdalBdal

Simplicity is the ultimate sophistication.” – Leonardo da Vinci


And here we are after months of work on a simple product which has the potential to change lots of things.  And when I say lots, I actually mean it. We have a simple platform for you to exchange stuff you don’t need any more –


First of all let us get our pronunciation correct. It is pronounced as “A Dal B Dal”. Do it right or you will be punished by atleast 10 PJs from me.



Aren’t we in a race where we keep producing more and consuming more depleting the resources available to us. Look around, how many things you have around you which are of no use to you but can make perfect sense to people around. It might be old books, old mobiles, old clothes, stamps, coins and many more. Isn’t it time to put them to use, if not for yourself, for somebody else.


So go ahead, first upload stuff which you don’t need any more, find stuff you might need and meetup and exchange. The platform works anywhere and everywhere. It is location aware and shows you how far things are from you. It has a built in spam protection for you as the person interested in your product will not be able to message you till you have decided to engage. Messaging will enable you to figure out the logistics of meeting and exchanging.


And another major question which I hear from friends is that how do you ensure that the two items you exchange are of equal value. Look value perception is a state of mind. We enjoy soft drinks for Rs 13 which are made for probably less than 50 paise, we buy hand bags for thousands which are probably made in few hundreds. So come out of the standard “value perception model” and build an eco-system to reuse more and more stuff. It’s easy and it can be lots of fun.


Happy AdalBdal….