What a Sunday!!

Monday morning – absolutely the most wrong time to write a blog. The moment this one is published, my CTO friend is going to call me to say those 3 magical words – What The Heck!!! I have so much work pending on me to do and yet I am typing this up because I feel compelled to do so.

This past Sunday on 16th April’17 , I over committed my time with a couple of events on a weekend – a time which is exclusively owned by my kids otherwise. I was afraid I will feel guilty at the end of it.

I had been invited earlier to this event that was coming up but couldn’t make it then; And since it had a very interesting name – FeministMohalla, I was curious to try it out atleast once. Add to it – it was an initiative by a dear friend Swarnima Bhattacharya and her partner Rachel – So I had to do it!

As I reach the Humayun Tomb, which is a recognized World Heritage Site – I did not really know what to expect. I saw a group of people surrounding lovely Swarnima in yellow- the storytelling had already begun – yes I was late by few minutes.
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The discussion started with the real meaning of a harem and went on to de-mythify a lot of our impressions about the status of royal and ordinary women and their role in the administration and ruling of various lands -in those times. I had heard of Humayun, Babur and Akbar but I had never heard much about the women around them.

The first lady I heard of, was Aisan Daulat Begum – Babur’s maternal grandmother. She was wife of Yunus Khan of Moghulistan (in today’s Afghanistan). A sternly bought up woman herself- she had tremendous influence on Babur’s bringing up and his rule across and thats how the entire lineage was called Moghuls here in India.

There after, we heard of many names, many of them unheard of before.

1. Aisan Daulat Begum- Babur’s maternal grandmother
2. Gulbadan Begum- Humayun’s sister
3. Bega Begum- Humayun’s chief queen
4. Hamida Banu Begum- Humayun’s wife -Akbar’s mother
5. Mahchahak Begum -Humayun’s wife and governor of Kabul
6. Jahanara- Shah Jahan’s eldest daughter

Each of them had such beautiful stories of courage, love, loyalty and a display of tremendous talent and amazing administration abilities to their credit. The one that stayed with me was Mahchahak Begum (incorrectly known as MahChuchak Begum)- threw out the then Naib Subadar and ruled Kabul on her own. She lead her army in person and defeated Munim Khan at Jalalabad. She chose to rule in her own name not in the name of her 3 year old son Mirza Muhammad Hakim (whom Humayun had appointed as the governor) – a clear sign of courage to oppose blind patriarch.

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Besides the women warriors, rulers and queens , I also understood a few things about Mughal architecture. It never occurred to me that the water bodies around every monument could be there for any reason beyond beautification. And then there was light thrown on the fact that the people who came from the deserts had a thought that  heaven is a place where there is water in abundance and hence the water fountains and water columns around the monuments. This made sense.

I thoroughly enjoyed my visit to the monument and the story telling. A very honest attempt to dig out genuine details of history. Well done team! I am absolutely sure, I am registering for the next event asap. Follow the #FeministaMohalla on twitter for more updates!

I had to miss the concluding story and rush back to my place since there was another event I had to go to and in between had to pick my daughter / get my son going for his studies for the Monday test.
Started back for Innov8 for the  Google Women TechMakers event being held in conjunction with the Google Developers Group, New Delhi for International Women’s Day. I did expect some tech enthusiasts and knowledge sharing. But the energy I felt there was unmatched to any tech event I have attended before. A group of 40-50 odd college going young girls and a couple of trail blazers like Neha from JSLovers and Sanya Khurana. What energy and passion at show!! So many technical resources and forums discussed and bought to the front for both young men and women to learn technology. They had so many questions and all they wanted was to build something meaningful and reach their dreams!!

So proud of each of the girls in the event. True gems – precious ones. I am so looking forward to see each of them build a legacy for their self and the world.

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I was lucky to have as enthusiastic co-panelists like Dolly Bhasin, Tarusha Mittal, Ankita Gulati and Rohini! We had some awesome time – getting to know each other and sharing our experiences.

As I was heading back home from the event – I couldn’t get over the fact that since history,  women have had  active careers and yet, we were still struggling to accept that women are able decision makers and still dont allow them the freedom of choice. Though we need a lot more societal changes for that day when its just a TechMaker event and we dont need a Women Tech Maker event – a lot is happening and changing and until it does happen as we want it to be – our salute to all the resilient women out there. Keep going. And our dearest men – thank you. Thank you for being by our side and fighting it out together.

Happy Sunday for me- it was worth it, out and out. And a Happy Successful life to all of us!!

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Get healthy in 1 step…really!!

I am going to share with you my biggest mistake regarding my health that I committed and am now trying to fix it. I have begun to feel better ever since I took that 1 step towards my health and am hopeful this will help you to identify if you are falling trap to this mistake/myth/habit/illusion – whatever you may call it and if this could eventually pose a health challenge to you too.
Here is my story – I have forever been a slim person and was one of those people blessed with magical metabolism that would digest the right things and detox my body of unwanted things.
And I am pretty sure, a lot of you are blessed with good health that you take for granted. Well, there are reasons (beyond hospital bills & insurance premiums) why its said that Health is Wealth.
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So lets hear it- straight from the horse’s mouth – what is my point that I am driving you to?
Slim is fit: This was my mistake – I believed that I am fit since I was always a slim person and with not much extra flab to shed. Well, the truth is Fit is Fit. Slim is NOT fit. Slim is not as dangerous as obese but being slim doesn’t signify the status of your health in anyway other than that you are not obese.

I realized this more as I stepped into my 33rd year as human on the planet. Until then I abused my healthy blessing to no ends by eating wrong….eating at wrong hours…. Countless chocolates, softdrinks as much as I pleased. I seriously didnt have any fixed timings for food. If you are thinking I am going to say – Nothing can be more wrong than this, here is the worse thing – Even with what little meals I ate – I never ate what I should. I ate mindlessly.  And for a long time I was okay (like I said – for 33 years) – my body could handle all the abuse and kept releasing digestive enzymes on my command and never acting like it was upset at me for being a complete mismatch for its expectations and needs.

And then I slowly saw the signs. I started to get tired, used to feel irritated, started to look dull. I still didnt care as much. Specially since I wasnt particularly suffering from any specific disease. I knew I could someday reverse these “temporary issues” with healthy eating habit and fitness regime and having a routine. Something I knew but I never did. Soon, I fractured my right leg quite effortlessly with just a not so jerky twist. I began to have pains in my bones. I couldn’t wear high heels as much as I enjoyed them.Yet – I didnt pay heed. I was as ignorant as one can be towards ones body.
But then I started to have massive hairfall. And this was heart breaking. I couldnt take it. I also knew – it might be something that has reached out of my control and I cant easily reverse it. This was when I started to regret my doings.

On SOS basis – I put my health on priority. I made sure I dont skip meals – as busy or angry or mad I am due to any reason – I will have my minimum 3 meals a day and at as fixed a time, as I possibly can work around. But there is something I did that truly had a midas touch effect on me.
milkAny guesses what is that one thing that can help you fix most of your health issues, besides having a fixed routine for eating and exercises? MILK. Seriously. Specially if you are pure a vegetarian like me, you have to have a glass of milk everyday. Its funny I am writing this blog at a time when people around me are talking about Women’s Horlicks -because I started taking women’s horlicks regularly since last year. And I am strictly NOT endorsing them. But it has worked for me.

My hair loss significantly reduced- milk protein and calcium has visible benefits on skin and hair – and body overall. My body pains have almost vanished. Even my toothache has reduced – not sure if its related but other than increasing my milk intake, I havent changed anything in my diet, hence building the inference. And I think better calcium intake could have helped my teeth too.

I can’t reverse or stop my aging or the health issues that will come with it. But I am glad I took charge of my health while things were still in control.

Take that 1 step in your life. Add a glass of milk to your diet. If you are one of those that dont like packed milk, go farm fresh -try Farmagic. I love the taste of fresh cow milk they send.Its a feel good factor, if i take it with health supplement (more of calcium, which my body needs) – you can take it with any health supplement you like. Eat regularly and exercise.
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Test your fitness

  1. An average adult should do 30 minutes brisk walking, or walk 10,000 steps daily. Try doing this – you will know how good your health is.
  2. Look at your hairfall – is it normal?
  3. After your day long of office or household work – when you lay down – how does it feel in – your knees /  your lower back / your shoulders. Do they pain noticeably?
  4. Frequent Heartburns / Acidity?
  5. Fatigue / impatience/irritability

I do not wish to act as a health professional but I strongly believe that health science evolved based on human experiences. So the basics of health lies in us being able to hear what our body wants to tell us. Listen to it. Take rest, if it asks you to. Eat / sleep / work – as per your body’s expectations. Put yourself in a routine.

Take care of yourself. Stay healthy. Stay blessed. Dont forget your glass of milk tonight before you go to sleep!!!

Please do share your experiences – specially if you start drinking milk today onwards and comment on what effects you see on yourself.

Context Driven Testing spreading its wings

Recently, I happened to attend another test meetup in the region. To my pleasant surprise, it was very well organized by Gaurav Bansal of Xebia.

I spoke about the relevance and importance of understanding business and more importantly setting up the business context when performing testing. Further in the talk , I also bought up strategies for inculcating the trend and sustaining this business knowledge in the test teams and ways to ensure it keeps growing with new work , new testers coming in. Difference between business knowledge and business context. It was very well received and thoroughly participated by the testers attending it. It seemed they enjoyed questioning and understanding, as much as I was enjoying, listening to their perspectives, challenges, issues and answering them with my thoughts.

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I had started with the statement – Testing is a cost for business and in itself adds no value. This sentence was debated by the testers in audience for good 10 minutes or more until we settled on it in the context of our discussion. Which also told me the kind of thought processes the testers were bringing in. I heard all sorts of terms – ROI, Quality, Value add, etc – coming to “Testing’s” defense. Some of the testers did seem to be very aggressively defending but it was fun.

Post my session – Gaurav and Rajneesh from Xebia gave sessions on Behavior driven testing and Exploratory testing. I could hear lot of resonance of thoughts from the likes of James Bach, Elizabeth Hendrickson and Michael Bolton. Both sessions were very interesting and informative. Attendees were loving these sessions. Brilliant job – Gaurav and Rajneesh!!

Rajneesh @3rd meetup

There was a surprise item of Lightening talks were the speakers could write their names and their talks on a whiteboard and speak to them for 5 minutes with or without presentations. There was a host of exciting topics and the speakers spoke to the topics with utter sincerity and thorough research and with lot of experience sharing examples.

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I was proudly watching my fellow testers speak and learn through the enthusiastic cross debates amongst the attendees themselves, and with the speakers too. I had so much fun learning.

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As I was enjoying all the action &  looking around – I couldnt help but notice pretty faces sitting all over and it was such a pleasure to see such a huge turnout of women testers. I remembered those 4 girls at my earlier meetup. And then this one had so many more and all participated. It was a through treat to my heart and mind both.

Last meet up we did and then this meetup – number of women attendees increased manifold.

Women at 2nd meetup       Women in Testing- 3rd meetup

Thanks to Gaurav from Xebia and Kapil Saxena from Magic software to get so many team members from their teams to participate in the meetup.

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One thing that was noticeable was – James Bach was thoroughly loved and followed there. Everyone at the meetup knew James and mostly just him from the testing community. Mere mention of James, made folks standing nearby join our conversations. I hope James you read this blog.

This time I had a particular point on my agenda – to know what our testers thought about certification. So I mentioned that on the whiteboard and spoke on it as a lightening talk. To my surprise – everyone was looking forward to the talk that I hadnt even prepared for.

The moment I said – what do you think about certifications in Testing – the testers who had contained this thought with them for a long time now, suddenly burst with questions like  –

– What are the best certification in testing

– What are the most popular ones

– Will I get a better job if i do a certain certification

– if not ISTQB then what?

At this point I was tempted to tear apart the myths and tell these naive souls how they were getting caught in the populist theory. But I realized they were not to blame. Almost all of the attending testers said their organization gives preferences to ISTQB certification for promotions or hiring. As I tried to understand – what did they gain out of this certification – they clearly said –  does it matter?  I know i will get the job if i am certified so I will do it anyways. Plus we get a “common language” that we can speak across as testers. Standardized meaning of testing. One such tester also said – Exploratory testing was Monkey testing – only to realize later that he was absolutely wrong and the place he learnt that definition, actually taught him incorrect definitions thus resulting in “non- standardized language”. They really didnt know why would they even do this certification.

Okay – all those who are taking time to read this blog need to observe something – the speakers and topics were more than a hundred percent “context driven” in their souls and approach. But attendees clearly showed the lack of it. They were here to learn and they did learn but there will be so much unlearning to do before we learn right testing.

When I spoke to them – I mentioned that they shouldn’t focus on certification a whole lot. They should be keen on learning testing and that they should go for BBST.  And oh boy – who knew BBST there ? 2 of the lot. Only 2 had heard about it. Thats all.

But the bigger worry was – the way I looked at them – I felt they werent prepared for larger doses right now. I asked them to not bother about certification or even BBST but first go to http://www.satisfice.com and learn some testing. Then we can talk more about BBST. One of the attendees who knew BBST said – there wasnt enough information about it. Most of the attendees said – we can do BBST and would love to (after I could explain them somewhat , what BBST is) but our managements dont support them . The managements want all testers to be ISTQB certified.

As a tester who practices Context Driven testing, I have to admit that I was pleased to see what the speakers wanted to talk about and teach the crowd. But the level of ignorance testers had, about ways to learn testing was not encouraging one bit.

I am calling all CD testers to do better story telling, making ourselves more heard. We need to not only influence testers but also the managements to understand right testing.

For the benefit of those, who asked at the meetup – Will be publishing shortly what BBST means, in James Bach’ s own words. Meanwhile – go through http://www.satisfice.com.