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2010: The Year in Review (Finally!)

Posted in Life with tags , , on May 6, 2011 by Saquib

The year 2010 – this will be the one that influenced a big part of my life. The year started with a great promotion at work, I was awarded in India in front of hundreds of my colleagues. On top of that, a fantastic time in Shillong, lots of memories with my peers. Murad Bhai, a colleague of mine, and me explored the places in quite an eccentric manner. The year went by faster, I was provided additional responsibility to also introduce and manage the Samsung Electronics portfolio. This was huge, preparing rollout of a major brand and at the same time work on a great marketing plan for the FIFA World Cup.

While my work had tremendous success in the World Cup, my supported team didn’t have the same share of luck. I’m a German fan, as I’ve always been. We did tremendous up to semis where we lost to Spain. It was a heart breaking experience that took me several weeks, if not months, to recover from. About the same time, I also had an offer to work as the Asst. Vice President of Business Development of a leading software company that focuses on biometrics identity management solutions for government sector. As difficult as it had been to decide, I took the job.

Apart from professional side, I was a bit disappointed with my personal achievements. 2010 was a bit bland. Of course there was the occasional hanging out with friends, but I can’t recall any major activity. In fact, this was a terrible year for me in terms of discovering new artists and movies.  This was also the year when I started going out after four years, only to break up after a few weeks. There was a part of my life that sucked after that, but I guess with age and experience you learn to handle yourself better and move on. Thankfully though, I had a better time with gadgets – got the newest MacBook Pro and a Blackberry on my list of “owned items of envy”.

Looking back at notable events, 2010 was also the year of historic rise and fall of the stock market of Bangladesh. With whatever little idea I had of numbers and economy, I knew the whole boom didn’t make sense. And sooner the bubble burst into invisible droplets of water in the air. It was sad to see this many people fooled and a hefty sum of money being laundered. It was a massive crime that involved people from all parts – government officials, so-called bankers of Bangladesh, and influential businessmen. What might go down in the books as one of the largest financial corruptions of our nation, this rise and fall reached a new milestone in making the corrupt filthy rich and the poor poorer. Yes, it did sprinkle some luck on few innocents who were able to get away from this.

I guess it would have been obvious to talk about the success of our cricket team in 2010. But since I’m writing it in 2011, I’m sure you know by now I’d been over confident if I put it in this post.

Development, nevertheless, had its own share of success in our country. The biggest one to note was Dr. Maqsudul Alam and his team decoding the jute genome. Long gone are the days when we wrote essays about the now forgotten “Golden Fiber” – the world’s most biodegradable fiber. An achievement like this has its impact in Bangladesh and all over the world. Decoding the genome means, in a crude way, knowing everything about its DNA, including growth, strength, yield, and maintenance, among others. This now allows researchers to come up with new ways of modifying the plant and developing solutions to make it grow with a high yield in many locations all over the country. Agriculture is the unavoidable backbone of our economy. No matter how much we focus on cutting edge engineering education, to have real impact and to solve real issues, we need to work very hard on strengthening agricultural science. Few universities offer courses in this area, and there are even fewer opportunities for job. I hope our government now realizes the severe gap in facilitating agricultural scientists to have an environment suitable for research and development. Hopefully this new milestone will change the prospect of jute in our economy and provide the long awaited opportunities that our agricultural scientists are deprived of.

But I think the most significant time of the year was those two and half months of preparing for the GMAT. For years I’ve been lazy, keeping it away for another year. But with enough experience gathered professionally, it was about time I pressure myself to study.  It might be just 20% of the entire year, but it was one of the most important periods of my life. When you know there’s so much that test score means and you want to do it right in one shot, the pressure gets intense. Working at a new place, dealing with new people, and then working on GMAT wasn’t the easiest experience for me. But I guess I was able to focus to get it right. With application deadline on the first week of January, I had very little time to prepare not only for my test, but also for the entire application package. I had 4 days to prepare for the TOEFL, and less than two weeks for my essays and recommendations. Little did I know, my least prepared application would give me the best opportunity to make a difference in life. I will remember this journey for a long time – locking yourself inside the room for weeks, only going out to work wasn’t easy. There were many days when my parents did not even see me. Both of them work and leave early, and when I would come back and sneak inside my room they will miss the opportunity to talk to me. I had to have dinner alone, leave out everything the whole world was doing. I had access to the least number of preparation books and spent hours online trying to solve problems and understand explanations. But I guess when you are strong in your ambitions, you can beat the odds. And the important thing is, it was worth it. I’m thankful to the almighty for finding out that it all worked out in the end.

So there you go, I finally put together the long awaited year review. I’m sorry for being late and not being able to talk about exciting things, but I kept my promise of giving this to all the readers of my blog. 2010, has been a mix of success and failure, missed opportunities and hard work. But I guess you can’t have it all in life.  However way life turned out to be, this is the year that is responsible for some of the most precious things I ever achieved.  A lot of 2011’s success has depended on last year, and I’m happy to start this new decade stronger, smarter, and more content than I ever was in life. Cheers to the ever so memorable 2010, and hoping for bigger and better memories in 2011. (Belated happy New Year!)

2009: Erratic, eventful, and imperative

Posted in Life with tags , , , on December 31, 2009 by Saquib
So I take my foot off the gas and put attention to the rear view mirror.  It’s amazing how you find another year in your life passing away, and where you stand from your resolution. The year 2009 – the year when I didn’t plan for too much; yet it’s been one of the most remarkable years of my life, in fact, I would also say it’s been the busiest year of my life yet. That sort of makes sense when I question how did this year go by so fast, and what did I do exactly?

There are couple of very interesting and promising things that did take place for me. The most significant part of this year has been my new job. I didn’t plan, although I did send out my resume just about this time last year, only to see this becoming such a huge part of my life. And most of my 2009 has been around my work life. Call me workaholic if you will, but work definitely helps me. I think in the recent years I have started to think a bit too much, over analyzing and trying to find meaning to everything. And work has helped me stay focused and busy so that I don’t have to deal with the fact of being lonely or the grievance of the society where I grew up.

My new job helped in many ways in my pre-MBA career. I’ve had the opportunity to learn, lead, make decisions, develop strategies, and produce results. I had to make my way through many problems and issues I couldn’t forecast, and I had to deal with the stain of corporate world, I had to be at work till 2am, travelled to locations all over the country, dealing with people I never thought I had to deal with, pushing my reasons and fighting for my team, and in the end coming up with the highest growth in market share for the major products. That being said, this year was also the landmark for me to be annoyed by people more than ever. I have come across some of the most aggravating people of my life – many whom I met this year, and some who I knew but turned like this now.  Even when it’s not been the dream job, I still found many employees nationwide who respect me for what I do, believe in me, wants my opinion, and listens when I have something to say. I really feel I have finally stated to do things in 2009 that greatly impact people’s lives.  These are the things you cannot value with money; after all, this is how you make your mark as being different, to show the true essence of leadership. And when I look back and see everything I did to help those people whose work depend on my decisions, I feel good, I feel honest, and I feel it couldn’t have been without their support. And that’s why even when I have some of the worst days of my life; I come back next day for those people, and to do things that truly benefit my company – not just to impress the management team members.

I have travelled a lot throughout Bangladesh this year. I had the opportunity to learn from my colleagues and taste life in all corners of the country. I had been to Khulna for the first time, had excellent time in Chittagong and Cox’s Bazar, and got to learn a lot about national markets and lifestyle; from a business perspective, that is. I also had the fabulous Sundarban trip, where I literally experienced every corner of the South-West; from the huge seaports, to deep rainforests, beach, clear nights in the river with the stars, and then the incredible sea. This has been the year when I have travelled the most countrywide.

But work aside, my 2009 also includes the point of listening to the highest number of new artists. My life and bond with music has grown; with 1106 artists and 1643 albums now stored in my prestigious music collection, I am quickly growing that “show-off factor” of having an anthology of some of the most promising and uncommon artists of my time that none of my friends can even come close to. Music helped me just like every year, whenever I was lost, confused, broken, or happy – it all just works with music. The words and melodies, the sense, and the vibe – nothing else makes more sense to me. And I am growing a stronger addiction for it every second of every day. So yes, 2009 has been an important year for music to me. I have not only discovered more albums than before, but the industry did come up with some immense releases of existing bands. People have asked if I’m turning bitter, but Train’s “Save me Francisco” is my favorite album for 2009 – so you know I still do have that soul alive! Self titled album of the Fray and “Battle Studies” by John Mayer are also worth mentioning. I had big hopes for Natalie Imbruglia and Norah Jone’s new albums, but they just didn’t make me feel what I was looking for.

Work has taken away all of my hanging out and being on concerts thing, something I do plan to fix in near future. I have also been playing lesser video games – which is not a good sign for a free soul, but I have been on Businessweek and BNET sites more than ever. I have grown a feeling of disconnection with the society, and you can easily spot that from my Facebook page, which I’m increasingly finding to be useless. But that hasn’t stopped me from watching more of downloaded TV shows. This year I finally started watching One Tree Hill, and completed six seasons in 5 months to finally catch up (it doesn’t come close to the OC though). And great shows like Dexter and HEROES still keep me busy – so I barely make time for the real world.

You can’t also deny the fantastic come back of our cricket team in 2009. Sure the change of captain changed the whole way the game was played, more wins and more hopes. These days when the tigers go out there, I have started to believe they can fight the odds.

And yes I continue to be single, three years now. But I am getting more used to it than before. I do feel left out, but I try to keep facing life and deal with a lot of stress on my own. I’m not into alcohol or cigarettes, and that makes it obscure. It’s been tough but I would say I didn’t do that bad after all. There’s just a lot more to do out there, and I have made choices for what’s important to me.

So that’s pretty much my 2009. Here’s me looking forward for a bigger and better 2010, a new decade with new hopes. What happens in the next ten years will be how I leave my mark on this planet. Happy New Year!

Matchbox Twenty’s Exile on Mainstream

Posted in Media with tags , on November 8, 2007 by Saquib

Eighth Grade – 1997: Now, I won’t deny I never listened to POP, but little was I aware of good music that exists outside that genre. We didn’t have CDs as popular back then, at least I couldn’t afford one. I was at one of my cousin’s place… and he played the “3AM” on Tape… I listened, I witnessed the most powerful musical experience till that day, and I was overwhelmed. It was Matchbox Twenty, it was a Band that showed me what True Musicians are capable of – I discovered a whole new genre in music, little did people around me listened or had much interest, those tapes weren’t available in Dhaka. I made a copy of the whole album, and I loved every moment of listening to it, in fact I still love playing those tracks.

In course of time Rob Thomas and Matchbox Twenty not only did keep up to my expectation, but surpassed it in many degrees. Song’s like “If You are Gone”, “Push”, “Crutch”, “Last Beautiful Girl”, “Unwell”, “Bed of Lies”, “Leave”, “Bent”, “Disease” – almost every single track from every album had an impression that’s gonna last as long as we know music. What’s even more fantastic, is the fact over 90% of the songs written by Rob Thomas himself – he is my idol, a personality that at a time made me understand the power and credibility of a musician’s soul – something way over mere commercial success.

Perhaps the most successful formula for Matchbox Twenty’s music is the awesome mixture of loneliness, psychological abuse, humiliation, anger, and hopelessness : feelings that surround so many of us, I can feel the music, because I’m used to feeling the same way, i can picture my past through Matchbox Twenty’s music – what more would I ask for?

In course of time, Rob Thomas and his band changed the style of their music in many of the tracks. Many recent releases have also been solo tracks, on several different occasions (e.g. New York Christmas). It’s clear to me, Rob Thomas doesn’t want commercial success (although he gets it anyway), but what he does is he doesn’t play it safe! He goes on with new lyrical styles mixing some old with it . The 4th album, is just that. “Exile On Mainstream” is very very different from many other tracks of his previous works. The album has only 6 new tracks, but they are also new in style of Matchbox Twenty’s music. It should be noted, every member contributed in song writing for this new album – just proves just how strong these musicians are. Most of the new tracks are more aggressive in pace, but goes around the same themes for lyrics.

I guess it’s must checkout because of some great new fast paced songs coming out from the Band. My favorite here are ” These Hard Times” and “I Can’t Let You Go” – absolutely awesome songs that themselves are really worth. But I wouldn’t say it’s the best album from the Band. The full album consists 6 new and additional 11 old hit tracks. This post is just for demonstration of all the new tracks. The quality of the MP3s have been reduced because I expect you’d only be trying out the songs, and then pay for the real album. There’s no way you can say the album is “same old” – its really all new, and cool but more new tracks might have added more fun to the full album. Download the preview low bit rate tracks from here and please, do post your comments!