Archive for January, 2009

Why Google Employees Quit

January 20, 2009

In 2008 Google HR set up a private Google Group to ask former employees why they left the company. We’ve been forwarded what appears to be authentic posts to the thread by a number of ex-Googlers, which we reprint below minus identifying information other than their first names.

The thread shows a brutal honesty about what it’s like to work at Google, at least from the point of view of employees who were unhappy enough to resign. Top amongst the complaints is low pay relative to what they could earn elsewhere, and disappearing fringe benefits seemed to elevate the concern. Other popular gripes – too much bureaucracy, poor management, poor mentoring, and a hiring process that took months.

A few of the posts are more positive, and frankly there isn’t a whole lot here that you don’t see in other big companies.

One message stands out though in most of the posts – employees thought they were entering the promised land when they joined Google, and most of them were disappointed. Some of them wondered if it meant they were somehow lacking. One person sums it all up nicely:

Those of us who failed to thrive at Google are faced with some pretty serious questions about ourselves. Just seeing that other people ran into the same issues is a huge relief. Google is supposed to be some kind of Nirvana, so if you can’t be happy there how will you ever be happy? It’s supposed to be the ultimate font of technical resources, so if you can’t be productive there how will you ever be productive?

The full thread is below.

From: Stephen
Date: Wed, 28 May 2008 13:25:07 -0700 (PDT)
Local: Wed, May 28 2008 2:25 pm
Subject: Re: So… Why’d you left, guys? I mean, seriously.

Actually, I hit the Send button on this before I intended to.
I left Microsoft to work for Google in 2005. I stayed 10 months. I
was demoralized. I shouldn’t have ever taken that job. I was
disenchanted the whole time, and yes, like you, my regret over the
poor bargain I’d made affected my performance.

As I was saying. Google actually celebrates its hiring process, as if
its ruthless inefficiency and interminable duration were a sure proof
of thoroughness, a badge of honor. Perhaps it is thorough. But I
would be willing to wager that Microsoft’s hiring process, which takes
a fraction of the time, does not result in a lower-skilled workforce
or result in a higher rate of attrition. And let me say this: if
Larry Page is still reviewing resumes, shareholders should organize a
rebellion. That is a scandalous waste of time for someone at that
level, and the fact that it’s “quirky” is no mitigation.

I was, like you, offered a considerable pay cut to go to work at
Google. The relocation package was lame. So were the benefits. (I
had worked at Microsoft. Microsoft was self-insured, so there were no

In one TGIF in Kirkland, an employee informed Eric Schmidt that
Microsoft’s benefits package was richer. He announced himself
genuinely surprised, which genuinely surprised me. Schmidt, in the
presence of witnesses, promised to bring the benefits to a par. He
consulted HR, and HR informed him that it’d cost Google 22 million a
year to do that. So he abandoned the promise and fell back on his
tired, familiar standby (”People don’t work at Google for the money.
They work at Google because they want to change the world!”). A
statement that always seemed to me a little Louis XIV coming from a

I still can’t recall all the moralizing postures without a shudder of

From: Ben
Date: Wed, 28 May 2008 14:43:09 -0700
Local: Wed, May 28 2008 3:43 pm
Subject: Re: So… Why’d you left, guys? I mean, seriously.

Stephen wrote:
> He
> consulted HR, and HR informed him that it’d cost Google 22 million a
> year to do that. So he abandoned the promise and fell back on his
> tired, familiar standby (”People don’t work at Google for the money.
> They work at Google because they want to change the world!”). A
> statement that always seemed to me a little Louis XIV coming from a
> billionaire.

I ran into a similar irritation while at Google, actually – during that
time when the minikitchens were being stripped heavily. I heard that one
of the reasons was cost – I remember figures mentioned like “thousands
of dollars per day” – and it just didn’t jive well with me.

I mean, look at the profit numbers. Google’s net income for 2006, when I
left, was 3 billion. 22 million a year? Less than 1% of their *profit*.
“Thousands of dollars a day”? Even if it’s ten thousand, that’s still
well under 1%.

Reduce profit by 2% to make your employees much happier . . . well, I
know what I’d choose. In some ways it seemed like Google was getting
increasingly pennywise/poundfoolish, and that just seemed like a dubious

(Although, to Google’s credit, they opened up a new cafe that solved
many of my food-related issues . . . after I left. Sigh.)


From: Ted
Date: Wed, 28 May 2008 17:39:06 -0700 (PDT)
Local: Wed, May 28 2008 6:39 pm
Subject: Re: So… Why’d you left, guys? I mean, seriously.

Sounds familiar (I was at Kirkland too.)
Google took longer than any company I ever worked for to get thru the
hiring process (approx 5 months from resume to job start.)

The interview process was very mixed: They had me slated as a Windows
Developer for some reason, tho everyone on my interview loop wondered
why. I flubbed my first coding pretty bad but after that it was clear
that no-one on my interview loop had enough experience or knowledge to
level me. On the other hand they figured that out and scheduled a
follow on interview with the head of the Kirkland office who asked
reasonable and pertinent questions.

Unlike the previous posters, I was happy with my salary and (for some
reason I can’t articulate) I kept my own private medical insurance…

Also I was surprised that Google seemed to be proud that they didn’t
communicate from one interviewer to the next: at Microsoft it was a
good opportunity to find more appropriate interviewers, etc. if a
person seemed misslated. Oh well, I thought my interview and hiring
process was an anomaly.

From: Laurent
Date: Thu, 29 May 2008 08:10:08 -0700 (PDT)
Local: Thurs, May 29 2008 9:10 am
Subject: Re: So… Why’d you left, guys? I mean, seriously.

I also left Google after only 5 months.

As soon as I got inside, I had the feeling of being swallowed by a
giant borg :)

Really, I felt like I didn’t exist, watching people buzzing around
with laptops.

I did however meet with Larry and Sergey during a product review
meeting, and have only good things to say about these 2 guys.

Regarding compensation, I did have to negotiate quite a bit to get on
par with what I earned before.

For options however, I didn’t get much (something like 180 options and
330 gsu).

What was strange with me at Google was: while outside, I had all these
big ideas I could do if I ever worked there.

Once inside, you have 18,000 (at the time, Feb 2008) other googlers
thinking the same things.

I think it’s a good move for them to have App Engine: they won’t need
to hire that many people anymore, or buy small garage-guys because
now developers will be able to develop over the Google OS for free for
Google :)

One last thing: Google also thinks inside a box (the browser). I felt
this a lot, and was another reason I left. (too constrained)

It’s no surprise that they push to extend what the browser can do.
(Gears, Earth plugin)


From: “shuba
Date: Wed, 28 May 2008 22:01:06 -0500
Local: Wed, May 28 2008 9:01 pm
Subject: Re: So… Why’d you left, guys? I mean, seriously.

Hi Friends,

Yes, I do agree with Stephen about HR. I totally second the statement that
Google’s Hiring process is slack. Agreed, they receive a record number of
applications everyday, but still the feeling that the resume is lost in a
‘black hole’ when there is no reply in as long as 6 months, is terribly
disappointing. Also, the whole exit process could be bettered and ironed

I understand when Eric Schmidt says, one doesn’t work for Google for the
money alone. Job with Google is sure an experience. But, yes, bringing the
perks on par with other bigwigs will bring down the attrition level to some
extent, thou we all do understand that attrition is not a big problem for
Google right now.

Keep writing!


From: Shelby
Date: Thu, 29 May 2008 10:26:39 -0700 (PDT)
Local: Thurs, May 29 2008 11:26 am
Subject: Re: So… Why’d you left, guys? I mean, seriously.

I had an equally ridiculous hiring process – although mine actually
seemed normal (by Google standards) until the result. “And let me
say this: if Larry Page is still reviewing resumes, shareholders
should organize a rebellion. That is a scandalous waste of time for someone at that
level, and the fact that it’s “quirky” is no mitigation. ” – this
couldn’t be more true.

My experience actually in Aug. 2004 when I was interviewing for a
sales position in the Seattle office was the typical 13+ interviews,
including a day trip to MV where I was told that someone would take me
to lunch and instead she took me in a conf. room and interviewed me.
So I ended up not eating at all that day until I returned to the
airport at 4pm. However, I passed my interviews with flying colors
and was surprised 3 weeks later when I still hadn’t heard from my
recruiter about the results of the hiring committee meeting. Finally
he called to tell me that I was rejected because I was currently
working as a Flight Attendant. A job I had started 4 months prior
because it was a great opportunity to move into their management group
but then the airlines started downsizing management and so I applied
for the Google Travel Sales role instead. However, apparently the
elitist hiring committee members believed that FA’s are stupid and
there was no way they would be able to work at Google. Lucky for me
the recruiter agreed it was incredibly sexist and fought with HR to
bring me on as a temp. Three months later they resubmitted me to the
committee and had me remove my former job – instead I mentioned that I
was “traveling” for four months and bingo! I got hired full time. 3+
years later I was promoted twice and named a Google Luminary! Good
think Larry is such an excellent judge of character.

I have to say though, that level of bureaucracy remained pretty much
the whole time I was at Google. I finally left after a lifestyle
change moved me to Austin and they re-nigged on an offer to move me
into the Travel Vertical role for which I was promised before the
move. It’s a real bummer because I loved my co-workers and there are
a ton of great people at Google. But the management has no power to
influence change because they are micromanaged by the Execs.
I’m very happy at my new company though – making twice as much and
enjoying the benefits of a start-up culture again.

From: issara
Date: Fri, 30 May 2008 08:50:45 -0700 (PDT)
Local: Fri, May 30 2008 9:50 am
Subject: Re: So… Why’d you left, guys? I mean, seriously.

I was hired to work in Google’s Singapore office. I found out very
quickly that Google International is not the same as Google-US. The
offered pay was way too low to survive in Singapore, so I left after I
got another job offer that I felt was better for me. I really do
believe that Google is doing some important work with humanitarian
mapping projects and digitizing libraries. But for me, I felt that
Google’s popular image did not match its actions in the work place,
and that some of the things they did were not very “Googly.”


From: “Lisa
Date: Fri, 30 May 2008 15:16:20 -0700
Local: Fri, May 30 2008 4:16 pm
Subject: Re: So… Why’d you left, guys? I mean, seriously.

I’m enjoying this group and this thread.

I had a far different hiring experience — it moved too
quickly! I wasn’t actually ready to leave my previous position, but
when the Google recruiter called, it would have been silly not to talk
to her.

I had one full day of MV in-person interviews, a few phone
conversations, and the next thing I know, they’re calling me to
present an offer. In retrospect, I shouldn’t have accepted it. I spent
all of 11 days working at Google before I returned to my previous (now
current ;-) company.

I wish I had asked more questions and asked to meet the team I’d be
managing (at least some of them!) before I jumped on board, but
Google’s reputation as an employer is legendary. At the time, I felt
conflicted, but then I’d think “Google wants me, and everyone knows
how hard it is to get hired there. I should jump on this opportunity.”
I don’t bear any ill will — I think Google is an amazing company, is
doing some revolutionary things, and is full of smart people. And I
bought shares in 2004, so I hope they continue to be very successful.


From: Pam
Date: Fri, 30 May 2008 15:39:04 -0700 (PDT)
Local: Fri, May 30 2008 4:39 pm
Subject: Re: So… Why’d you left, guys? I mean, seriously.

I have been sitting back, surprised at the level of negativity
expressed by those on this thread, and wanted to share my very
different experience. Sure, Google isn’t perfect, its management isn’t
perfect, the HR department isn’t perfect, etc, but by and large they
do things better/smarter/friendlier than the vast majority of
companies out there.

My hiring process back in 2003 was, like some of yours, somewhat drawn
out, and I was made to contract for almost 4 months before being
hired, but Google gave me a chance, and I gave Google a chance. And
I’m so glad.

Forget about the cool products I worked on over the years that are on
the cutting edge of technology and impacting millions of people. We’re
mostly talking about work/life balance and job satisfaction. I get
such a kick out of thinking about the incredible stuff I got to do
while at Google (watch Barack Obama/Al Gore/Hillary Clinton/Colin
Powell/Malcolm Gladwell/Jimmy Carter speak, go to a trapeze class,
hear John Legend play in Charlie’s cafe, go to a chocolate trufflemaking
class, ski on Google’s dime year after year in Tahoe, to name
just a few), not to mention enjoy a work environment at Google that
was informal, comfortable, safe, and supportive — so different from
the work environments of my friends in other industries or at other

I wonder if post-Google bitterness is correlated to when you joined
and/or how long you were at Google. It seems that it is. Maybe it’s
the memories of Google in the first few years I was there that make it
it seem magical, but I really do treasure the time I spent at Google.
I left a few weeks ago, after almost 5 years at the company, because I
wanted to pursue a markedly different career path. Sure, I had times
when I was frustrated with the way Google was doing things, or when I
felt that my particular project, or assignment was lacking, and I
definitely had managers that I didn’t enjoy. But all in all — what a
freakin’ amazing experience!
And, separately, regarding the compensation issue, it seems to me that
Google would do their research and pay market wages high enough to
attract the best. If good candidates refuse to take the jobs because
the wages aren’t high enough to live on, they’d be forced to raise

From: “Logan
Date: Fri, 30 May 2008 15:56:47 -0700
Local: Fri, May 30 2008 4:56 pm
Subject: Re: So… Why’d you left, guys? I mean, seriously.

I experienced the same painful hiring process all of you did. The
reputation of Google is why I worked there for three and a half years. I
took pride in where I worked and the work I was doing. I knew I could get
paid more elsewhere but the caliber of people to my left and right was
amazing. I learned a lot and have benefited from the time I spent at

When asked by friends and family why I was leaving I came up with an
automobile analogy.

One auto has a 5 star crash safety rating, with good gas mileage, low
maintenance costs and good performance. Another, has bluetooth for your
mobile phone, 10 cup holders, sexy looking instrument panel, premium sound
system, DVD player and seat warmer but has poor gas mileage, poor
performance, bad safety rating, expensive maintenance, etc.

Some will make a purchasing decision on what really matters; safety,
performance, serviceability. Some will make a purchase based on “how many
cup holders the car has”. Google is the car with all the sexy features
but very little of what really matters. The amenities,extra-curricular(s)
and conversastion peice of “working for Google” is what keeps most
working at Google.

My $.02

From: Ted
Date: Fri, 30 May 2008 16:27:35 -0700
Local: Fri, May 30 2008 5:27 pm
Subject: RE: So… Why’d you left, guys? I mean, seriously.

My bitterness is almost entirely because of my manager. He was in my
orientation group in Mt. View and seemed like a good egg at the time. Just
as Google can be a great place for the software engineer to do great work
unencumbered, it’s also possible for a manger to be a complete jerk
unencumbered. Tho the other members of the group (that didn’t leave sooner)
thought that they could put up with anything to work at Google they did
notice my manager’s particular irrationality when dealing with me. There
were only two days of my six months there that I didn’t dread going to work.
My manager made sure that no other manager would talk to me and as soon as
the head of the office left town he tried to put me on a PIP. Life is too
short to deal with jerks so I felt I had no choice but to leave.
I do believe that I could have really enjoyed myself at the home office or
with a different manager, etc. but I wasn’t given the choice of what to work
on nor who to work for.


From: “Greg
Date: Fri, 30 May 2008 20:29:18 -0400
Local: Fri, May 30 2008 6:29 pm
Subject: Re: So… Why’d you left, guys? I mean, seriously.

I wonder how much of a difference there is between
engineering/non-engineering and MV/non-MV, in addition to the
old-timer/non-old-timer split.

I started working at Google a while ago as an engineer when there was
only the Mountain View office. (If I recall correctly, the NY sales
office opened later that month.) Google certainly seemed like an
ideal place to work at the time, and if I wanted to be an engineer,
I’d probably still want to work there. But there were certainly
issues, even back then, and I believe they’ve mostly gotten worse as
the company has grown.

The hiring process:
Google’s hiring process tends to have a lot of false negatives. If I
had submitted my resume myself, rather than getting recommended by an
employee, I don’t know if I would have gotten in. My GPA was a 3.7,
and the cutoff (at least at one point in Google’s history) was 3.8 (I
went to a tough school, the 6th 4.0 GPA in its history just graduated
this year). I honestly don’t know if this cap is still there (I
suspect not) but this is just one way Google arbitrarily cut down on
the number of people interviewed.

After I had been working, I found out that I was lucky that one of the
members of my team hadn’t interviewed me. My C++ skills weren’t
really all that great, since I hadn’t used C++ in a couple of years,
and I would have totally failed if he had interviewed me. He told me
that he would have been wrong to do so, since I actually ended up
replacing him on the team and automating most of what he had been
doing by hand, so I hope that my example helped make at least one
interviewer a little more reasonable. But the old-timers certainly
felt like they had to have tough interviews, and in many cases “tough”
equated to things like trivia questions or brain teasers, neither of
which are completely relevant to what people were being interviewed

The Google lifestyle:
Food at Mountain View in the early days was great. Things got a bit
crazy when Charlie was cooking in the same tiny kitchen that he had
cooked for 70 people in when there were something like 400 people
eating in the cafe, although the food quality didn’t go down nearly as
much as I would have expected it to. But this was just one of many
examples of overcrowding in the offices that happened over the years
at Google. (And honestly, keeping the cooks happy seemed like a good
idea to me…)

But along with the food came the Google lifestyle: if you were staying
for dinner, it better be because you were working afterwards. It was
frowned upon to leave right after dinner. I think a lot of people
spent quite a bit of time either just before or just after dinner
hanging out and not really being all that productive, which is nice
for the mostly 20-something crowd, but I can sympathize with the
people who have families that didn’t fit in. I had my own reasons for
not wanting to hang out at work, so I never really got that far into
the Google social scene. And my experience was that the people who
spent all their time at Google were the ones that ended up on the
sexier projects or in charge of things. (Admittedly, some of these
people were also workaholics, and I wasn’t willing to give up some of
my non-work social activities, but there seemed to be a bit of
favoritism going on as well.)

Engineers and everyone else:
Unlike most other engineers, I had a job that required me to talk to
people all over the company. I talked to the lawyers, marketing, PR,
product managers, executives, engineers… And because I started
early enough, I also knew quite a few people in sales. As far as
salary went, my offer was 35% higher than my next highest job offer,
so I think I lucked out there. That was certainly not the normal
situation, though. Over the years I talked to plenty of people about
what they thought about Google’s compensation… There’s a huge
discrepancy between engineers and non-engineers. Most of the adwords
support people I talked to complained a lot about their situation.
Not only were they generally overqualified for the jobs (given what
the work actually was, but Google has always prided itself on having
people with extra education) but they could fairly easily have gotten
higher-paying jobs elsewhere. The usual reason for sticking around
that I heard was that after a few years at Google, their resume would
look a lot better on the job market.

And that’s not counting the people who are contractors. I never
understood why all of the recruiters were contractors, given that
Google showed no signs of slowing down its hiring. All this meant was
that a lot of the recruiters had to spend a lot of time training new
recruiters, since they were replaced so frequently. (This, I think,
goes at least partway for explaining why the hiring process was
occasionally a bit slow.)

My biggest pet peeve was the management, or lack thereof, at Google.
I went through many managers in my first few years. I ended up having
at least one manager during this time that was an unpopular manager,
and because of that, I was told many times over that I shouldn’t
bother trying to get a promotion. When I left, I had never been
re-slotted. This, in spite of the fact that my technical judgment was
respected enough that I occasionally delayed launches until their
logging systems were operating correctly. And in spite of the fact
that I essentially consulted to other technical groups. I could go on
about this for a while, but then I might actually sound like I was

Remote offices
I worked in Mountain View for 3 years before moving to New York.
Around that time, I started traveling a lot: I had college alumni
activities in southern California, so I occasionally worked out of
Santa Monica, and my brother lived in Seattle, so I worked in Kirkland
a few times. The “Google experience” is substantially different
outside of Mountain View. And being outside of the Mountain View
culture bubble makes it that much harder to get taken seriously. I
honestly have no idea what it’s like to work for Google outside of the
US, but even when you’re only 3 time zones away, it’s sometimes hard
to get noticed by Mountain View.

This e-mail has gotten a lot longer than I really meant it to. But my
point is that there are plenty of good reasons people can have
negative impressions of working at Google. Just like there are plenty
of good reasons people have great experiences there.


From: “Lilly
Date: Fri, 30 May 2008 23:36:36 -0700
Local: Sat, May 31 2008 12:36 am
Subject: Re: So… Why’d you left, guys? I mean, seriously.

I left to go to do a PhD. I liked the work I was doing at Googlea and, like
Pam, I treasure the time I had there, but I also left exhausted and
processing a lot of stress. I joined in June 2003 as an intern and 6 months
later, my amazing manager, Jen, made me a full-time offer without any
additional interviews. HR worked with me to make sure I could finish school
and continue working at Google. I really felt like they had my back and my
best interests in mind.

I think for me, some of the trouble was the crazy unaccountable product
strategy processes that would tell you to work on high risk things on the
one hand, but would hold you back for taking those chance on the other. I
worked on Google Page Creator from the time it was just a 20% prototype and
I also spent a lot of time believing in and doing some a lot of work to make
Google Notebook something successful. I’m not sure taking on those
high-risk, challenging projects was a good idea in the long run, but nobody
told me “hey, we don’t think this project is really worth the resources.”
I’m sort of a heart-and-soul into project person so this meant that I spent
a lot of energy trying to good work on high-risk projects I believed in, but
through the inconsistent support and wavering strategies I had no direct
control over, I felt like a lot of my energy got wasted.

There was also a big management overhaul on our team about a year before I
left and I felt like my team spent so much time trying to figure what was
coming down the pipe next, who was leaving next, etc that it wasted a lot of
energy. In user-experience design, there are a lot of smart, capable people
who have to sort of surf the waves of having a really unclear relationship
with product management.

But on the upside, I really did take advantage of 20% time. In the first two
years, I really felt rewarded and appreciated for my work and in the last
two years, I at least felt respected if not rewarded. Many days at work were
really intellectually stimulating. And despite the management / exec
culture being weird, I felt like Google’s managers are really among the top
in terms of not being corporate world pillagers.

I had decided I wanted to go grad school in my first year at Google, but it
was fun enough that I delayed going *twice* (that was a really awkward set
of deferrals).

But in the end, I was pretty tired of the constant change, the inconsistent
management, and I wasn’t sure if the kinds of people old Google hired –
wearing many hats and workng butts off to take ownership of project’s
success — is the kind of person new Google needed — people who were better
able to step in line to keep the company marching under control. I was part
of the chaos generation.

From: Luqman
Date: Sun, 1 Jun 2008 01:34:53 -0700 (PDT)
Local: Sun, Jun 1 2008 2:34 am
Subject: Re: So… Why’d you left, guys? I mean, seriously.

It looks like most of us have same story to tell….

My case resembles that of Bob ….

It took two months(lesser than others I guess) for my hiring process
to complete, and I made it clear that I had an offer from IBM in hand
which was paying me good … but I was offered the same salary as my
previous employer … which always kept me de-motivated throughout my
tenure. I joined the job due to company’s name and reputation as well
as I had the option to work in day shifts.

There was no proper mentoring for 6 months and within 9 months of my
tenure my manager was not happy with my performance, and mgmt always
stressed on “Putting some Extra Effort” – in other words “Spending
some extra hours” … this may not be the case at Google-MV but this
is what it is in India.

If you don’t put extra hours then you won’t get promoted, no promotion
means no salary hike.

I feel sad about my decision on choosing Google over IBM … Small
pay, No work, No Team spirit, No Hike in 12 months, No balance between
Family Life and work are few things which motivated my move out. I am
still jobless after 5 moths of leaving Google, but I am happy with my
decision(I feel like it is better be jobless than work for google as a
Field Tech).

Coming to the positive side, I enjoyed helping fellow googlers fixing
their PCs or Laptops and helping them with their queries. But Field
Techs have to do all the crap apart from some good work.
I like Logan’s example … good decision.


From: “Marc
Date: Sun, 1 Jun 2008 09:22:03 +0200
Local: Sun, Jun 1 2008 1:22 am
Subject: Re: So… Why’d you left, guys? I mean, seriously.

I agree with Pam. I started working for Google in 2002 in Amsterdam to set
up the Dutch and Belgium Sales office and these years were the best of my

I had to wait 9 months before they hired me, but it was definately worth is.

I had only three interviews then, but number three was Omid, so I might have
been lucky back then. But waiting for 9 months was a challenge as well, but
I knew at that time that Google was something very special, so I had the
patience to wait and it was definately worth it!

I agree that the process of hiring is a pain in the behind, but i also agree
that the hiring process should be hard as Goolge should keep up the process
hiring people that are smarter than yourself. There aren’t many companies in
the world that have so many smart and ambitious people.

The challenge is to keep up the energy within the company and enterpreneurial
part and give people the opportunity to grow within the company. I do agree
that the HR process has always been tough and I do agree that that should
change. I do think too that Google is in the process of decentralising more
and providing management with more authority, also ouside of US.
But don’d forget that Google has existed only for almost 10 years with about
16,000 employees and a 20B dollar company and then you have growing pains as

With these numbers and the fact that Google has a model where
you look closely at teh high performers and the quality of employees is
extremely high, you have issues where you cannot make everyone happy at the
same time. It’s a lot about numbers as well and we must admit Google is
pretty good at numbers, right? :-)

Again, I worked for Google for 5.5 years and I had a great time growing from
a small company of like 500-600 people to 16,000 now.

Again, I agree that HR should be more decentralised and not all be approved
out of MV as the current long process of approvals from MV and little
authority from local offices causes pain and time and influences the spirit
within the company negatively.

And having worked for Google and leaving Google the right way without any
issues should be a great jump in your career as with Google the knowledge is
huge and not many other companies I know has this knowledge, so use that as
good as you can!

From: “Phil
Date: Thu, 5 Jun 2008 12:38:10 -0700
Local: Thurs, Jun 5 2008 1:38 pm
Subject: Re: So… Why’d you left, guys? I mean, seriously.

On Mon, Jun 2, 2008 at 5:30 PM, Dan wrote:
> I’m somewhat tempted to reply with my own list, but I’m curious ..
> what’s going to happen with all this info? Not obviously useful if no
> one is going to do anything with it (e.g., gather and post a summary
> back to the board, bring it to someone who cares).

At this point I think that the executive committee knows that there
are people out there holding these opinions. In fact, I was at a
couple of TGIFs where Larry and Sergey addressed questions about the
hiring process and others where other execs talked about why they were
making it harder for people to switch projects even though we’d been
bragging externally that it was easy. I thought long and hard about
how to talk about that during interviews. I think that a big part of
is is that Googlers are supposed to be totally “A” players who just
always make things work out well. And there’s some truth to that: for
each of us here with a bitter story to tell there are other people who
landed in pretty much the exact same situation and ended up loving it
(and a lot more who put up with it and kept their mouths shut). So,
until it gets hard for Google to hire top talent, I don’t think the
kind of complaints that have been raised here will become a priority
at the Googleplex.

There’s still a lot of value in this conversation though, if not for
Google, then for the participants. Those of us who failed to thrive at
Google are faced with some pretty serious questions about ourselves.
Just seeing that other people ran into the same issues is a huge
relief. Google is supposed to be some kind of Nirvana, so if you can’t
be happy there how will you ever be happy? It’s supposed to be the
ultimate font of technical resources, so if you can’t be productive
there how will you ever be productive? The truth is that Google can be
a really horrible place to work if you happen to run up against its
shortcomings. Not liking it and/or not being successful there is not a
good indicator of personal competence (and if you think about it you
may realize that some Googlers are successful despite being
incompetent, so it works the other way too.) With so much positive
press about Google it is very difficult to put a negative experience
there in perspective. This thread serves to balance the picture and
gives us a, sometimes badly needed, lens through which to view our
experience at Google and re-evaluate ourselves.

I think that it’s painful for some Google alum to read these posts
when their own experiences were so positive and their sense of loyalty
to Google runs so deep. I think that it would be a mistake to become
cynical about Google. Something truly unique and magical happened
there and may still be happening for all I know. But the magic was
neither universal nor unflawed, and the Google experience left some of
us with open wounds. I was going to say that it would be Googly to be
respectful of that, but to be honest, Google culture just isn’t that
mature. Not yet anyway. Nevertheless, the most positive thing for
those of us who are interested in this thread to do is to understand
and respect the experiences described here. Doing so will, in a small
way, strengthen our own careers as well as those of the people around
us. And eventually some little bit of the learning we do here will
inevitably seep back into Google and do some good after all.

From: Aaron
Date: Thu, 12 Jun 2008 13:48:41 -0700 (PDT)
Local: Thurs, Jun 12 2008 2:48 pm
Subject: Re: So… Why’d you left, guys? I mean, seriously.

My previous employer was sinking fast, and Google seemed like a good
opportunity to get out.

First, I was really disappointed with the salary that Google offered.
During negotiations, they accommodated me a little, but not much. I
was barely making more than I had been in the midwest, and the
difference in CA state taxes wiped out almost all of that. Then
there’s rent. My wife and I don’t have any debt, we pay cash for our
cars, we live in a modest apartment, we only have one small child, and
we don’t travel or live a luxurious lifestyle. Yet we were already
dipping into savings during the second month just to pay the bills.
Part of it was certainly my fault; I shouldn’t have accepted such a
low offer.

The relocation and hiring bonus’ stated values were pre-tax! That was
a huge unexpected blow to the pocketbook. It may sound strange to
some, but Google’s the only company that has ever done that to me.
Again, that’s mostly my fault; I made a naive assumption.

The relocation company told us it would take 8-12 days to get our
stuff. It took 14 days. We managed as best we could for almost 2
weeks with a 1-month-old baby in an apartment with no furniture, no
extra clothes, and a rental car. Google should have taken more
responsibility and initiative on this, but they stood very much
aloof. Their only other option was the corporate housing option (move
twice!). If I had known it would be this bad, I would have rented my
own truck for 1/3 of what Google paid the moving company. I can drive
from Indiana in 3 days; I’ve done it many times.

Anyway, Google should know that good engineers are in high demand.
They get their market value, especially in the Bay Area. So after
only 3 months at Google, I was aggressively recruited by another
company that offered 2x my base salary (which has been increased
repeatedly since then). The company also wanted to hire me to do what
I am most skilled at doing, and I could never say that about Google.
I took the job. I get invitations to interview at companies regularly
(Apple contacted me most recently) but I turn them down every time. I
like what I’m doing, I believe I’m well-paid, and we just released a
very successful product.

There are nice things about Google. I met some intelligent and good
people that will be lifelong friends. I got to see Ron Paul speak,
and I have many fond memories. The bureaucracy and authoritarian
“gods of coding rules and regulations” were crippling for an
experienced developer, but are probably just the right thing for
someone green out of college. To me, the food wasn’t that big of a
deal. It was good, but I’m not much of an eater. However, I was
really disappointed when the hot chocolate started disappearing from
the mini-kitchens. I hope that 20 cents a day was worth it to them!
As a full-time employee I prefer a good salary to graduallyevaporating
fringe benefits and arbitrarily-sized bonuses. I started
out in the dot-com boom, and I’ve seen those empty promises go
unfulfilled time and time again.

I’m not bitter anymore; just disappointed that Google didn’t come
close to what I thought it would be.

From: Juliette
Date: Fri, 1 Aug 2008 10:54:42 -0700
Local: Fri, Aug 1 2008 11:54 am
Subject: Re: So… Why’d you left, guys? I mean, seriously.

Google was my first job out of college. I was an English major at a
prestigious college and was hired to work in HR. That is one of the problems
I had with Google right there – is it really necessary to hire Ivy League
graduates to process paperwork? I went from reading Derrida to processing
“Status Change Request Forms” for X employees to go on paid leave. The term
“Status Change Request Form” will forever haunt me.

The company is – unquestionably – an amazing business model. Despite the
gripes some people may have at Google, employees are Google are coddled much
more than at most other companies. I left after working at Google about six
months (left without even thinking of a bonus) because my abilities were
entirely underutilized and, of the three managers to whom I was assigned,
two were complete nightmares. One was about six feet tall, and I secretly
referred to her as Medusa or Medea, depending on my mood. But that is
neither here nor there. Another reason I left was because I felt overmanaged
in every conceivable way. I shared, for a large part of my experience, the
same office as said manager of mythological Greek she-monsters.

I really have no hard feelings toward the firm. When I tell people I worked
at Google, most people are incredulous that I would have left after such a
short time. I want to make this response as objective and as helpful as
possible, so I have three suggestions for the firm in how to prevent cases
like mine from happening.

1) Avoid hiring creative writing/art/film production majors into highly
structured and highly interpersonal roles like HR. I spent most of my
college life writing short stories – alone. Perhaps not the best indication
that I care or even know how to be productive in a role that requires
constant client-facing time. My manager used to always pride herself on
being excellent at “customer service,” which she often said was her favorite
aspect of HR. Service ANYTHING gives me the chills, as it does – I am sure –
for most highly left-brain types.

2) There is Google quirky, and there is too weird to ever fit into a
corporate mold. Identify.

3) Make it easier for people to switch managers if the fit is egregious

4) Give a more accurate representation of Google to potential employees
BEFORE you hire them. All I knew before starting at Google was “#1 Place to
Work According to Forbes” and “Free Gourmet Food” and “Unlimited Sick Days”
and “We Want You to Be Googley!” Like, properly, echoing in my brain. My
twenty-two year old greedy magpie self was wholly drawn in by the idea of
having sashimi anytime I wanted without paying a dime. But as nice as it is
having a cushy 401K and unlimited sick days, I was not willing to sacrifice
my personal happiness and career fulfillment, not even for all the free
kombucha I could drink.

In short – I left for personal reasons listed above. Now is the time for my
shameless self-plug. After bumming it around for 5 months doing odd jobs
(like, properly odd… I did stints in PR, dog walking, babysitting,
modeling) I finally landed the job I’d always dreamed of, which is to write
for a living.

I now run my own fashion blog and host an online fashion “web show” at
If anyone out there is interested in fashion,
even as a passing thing, it might be of some interest.


From: Scott
Date: Mon, 6 Oct 2008 12:37:03 -0700 (PDT)
Local: Mon, Oct 6 2008 1:37 pm
Subject: Re: So… Why’d you left, guys? I mean, seriously.

Hi there,
Well I left Google three months ago so the scars are still fresh! I
worked in sales and a bit of sales management (will explain) in London
between 2004 – 2008.

I think with all these things, its the little bricks that make the
house. I have yet to find a perfect job, so I was pretty bummed when I
was pitched one when I joined.

Here is my two penneth
Management – I strongly believe there were a lot of people who did
very little in the way of people management. Due to the aggressive
growth of Google, a lot of managers essentially learnt nothing about
the products or issues with staff. Instead they ‘managed up’ covering
their own patch or careers. I averaged consistent high OKR scores
(despite the managing of the curve nonsense that creates more
subjectivity than objectivity) and despite having 5 managers in 3
years (all of whom knew nothing about my vertical) I watched newer
employees join talk utter rubbish, speak in non sensical management
talk, piss off agencies/clients (I know because they used to call me
laughing) and get promoted.

Mostly because they loved doing business in a suit, if you were not
wearing a suit and did a lot of brown nosing you were screwed. I did
neither…hehehe – Maybe that has something to do with a change of
culture. If that is the case then the rules to be Googley should
change. It sometimes felt like the rules to being Googlgey were a PR

Culturally – In London I just felt the soul of the place change. A lot
of people I worked with or knew there were deeply unhappy with the
lack of fun (Still are , but they won’t talk to management because
they know it is not important- see above). It all seemed to be
contrived and a little false. Of course nothing stays the same but you
when working with a team where politics, egos and bullshit didn’t
exist and suddenly it did, you can’t help but feel confused.
You read so much about how amazing it is to work at Google and for the
first two years it was. I was empowered, promoted, treated with
respect and honesty. Before I left it just was a place full of quiet
moans, talented people being undermined and a structure that created
hostility and politics.

I loved my time there. It was a real education. Not to mention my very
risque TGIF routines in London. Actually I think that maybe while I
was ignored. I was not going to compromise my personality by dressing
like a business consultant. I was serious at my job without wearing my

The food was amazing though.

Actually I have just read this back and it now appears I should of
left years ago. Whatever – Google you have some amazing people there –
start listening and responding. Wisdom of crowds….cough….splutter


High Speed Explosions Photography

January 20, 2009

High speed, or “flash” photography is an art, widely used in scientific research, which also has a dedicated following among those wanting to “blow things apart” in the most elegant way possible. It’s not easy to come up with a perfect shot… consider 1200ft/sec average speed of a bullet, plus a synchronizing laser, hi-tec flash setup and a fancy camera-work. The following is “the best of” gallery from a few masters of the genre.

High Speed Explosions Photography

High Speed Explosions Photography

Stefan, a.k.a. Fotofrog has a gorgeous set, where fruits and some vegetables get blown to smithereens, together with some tableware:

(images credit: Stefan – Fotofrog)

Crayons from Spyzter:

(image credit: Khuong)

Shattered glass lamp:

(“Shattered Glass” by Raniel)

Peeled banana (and more from Jasper Nance)

(image credit: Jasper Nance)

Antibacterial soap bar:

(image credit: Jasper Nance)

Unfortunate? doll:

(image credit: Jasper Nance)

Hot tomato:

(image credit: Jasper Nance)

Bullet through a bottle:

(image credit: Johnny Lee)

“Pulsetronics” is UK company specializing in high-speed photography, mostly for science research. They also have a few artistic gems there:

Full Magnum Force:

(image credit: Arya Abidi)

Two spherical shock waves are visible on this “schlieren image” (an interferometric technique used to study the distribution of density gradients within a transparent medium). A serious weapon with considerable force, but nothing a good solid bottle of beer couldn’t do:

Top 10 Most Viewed Photos of 2008

January 7, 2009

1. Best Wild Animal Photos of 2008 Announced

National Geographic's Top 10 Most Viewed Photos of 2008

Man and right whale size each other up in the winner of the 2008 Wildlife Photographer of the Year competition’s underwater category, announced on October 30. “The whales were highly curious of us. Many of these animals had never seen a human before,” Skerry told National Geographic.

2. Giant, Unknown Animals Found off Antarctica

National Geographic's Top 10 Most Viewed Photos of 2008

Collected from deep Antarctic seas, this 9.8-inch-long (25-centimeter-long) giant sea spider was one of 30,000 animals–many new to science–found during a 35-day census in early 2008 and featured in a National Geographic News gallery on March 28. Other odd discoveries included a balloon-like sea squirt and giant starfish.

3. Best Science Images of 2008 Announced

National Geographic's Top 10 Most Viewed Photos of 2008

Under intense magnification, a long-fin squid’s suckers–each no wider than a human hair–resemble the leafy star of Little Shop of Horrors. This electron-micrograph image may have only won an honorable mention in the 2008 International Science and Engineering Visualization Challenge, but thanks to enthusiastic bloggers, these suckers were the breakout stars of National Geographic News’s gallery of the contest’s highlights, posted on September 25. Among the other marquee attractions: a bugged-out take on the Mad Hatter’s tea party and a “glass forest.”

4. Eight Natural Wonders Added to UN Heritage List

National Geographic's Top 10 Most Viewed Photos of 2008

Filed with forests, waterfalls, and fantastically shaped granite peaks and pillars, China’s 56,710-acre (22,950 hectare) Mount Sanqingshan National Park was among the 174 wild sites–eight of them featured in this gallery–added to the UN World Heritage list in July 2008. Chosen by a committee of the UN’s Educational, Scientific, and Cultural Organization (UNESCO), World Heritage sites are natural and cultural areas recognized for their universal value to humanity. (Photo: CRIOnline)

5. Hurricane Ike Pummels Texas Coast

National Geographic's Top 10 Most Viewed Photos of 2008

On Sept. 13 a worker inspects damage in front of the JPMorgan Chase Tower in downtown Houston, Texas, after powerful Hurricane Ike slammed into the Gulf Coast, damaging buildings, flooding streets, and knocking out power for millions of people.With winds reaching 110 miles (177 kilometers) an hour, Ike came ashore above Galveston, Texas, as a strong Category 2 storm just after 3 a.m. ET.

6. Chile Volcano Erupts With Ash and Lightning

National Geographic's Top 10 Most Viewed Photos of 2008

After 9,000 years of silence, Chile’s Chaiten volcano erupted, generating on May 3 what may have been a “dirty thunderstorm.” These little-understood storms may be caused when rock fragments, ash, and ice particles collide to produce static charges–just as ice particles collide to create charges in regular thunderstorms. The eruption, which continued off and on for months, forced the evacuation of thousands of residents and cattle from this corner of Patagonia.

7. Alien-like Squid Seen at Deep Drilling Site

National Geographic's Top 10 Most Viewed Photos of 2008

A mile and a half (two and a half kilometers) underwater, this alien-like, long-armed, and–strangest of all–“elbowed” Magnapinna squid is seen in a still from a video clip obtained by National Geographic News from and published on Nov. 24.

8. Colossal Squid Revealed in First In-Depth Look

National Geographic's Top 10 Most Viewed Photos of 2008

The carcass of a colossal squid floats in a tank at the Museum of New Zealand on April 30, giving scientists their first close look at the elusive deep-sea creature. The squid was frozen for months after being caught by fishers off Antarctica in 2007. A dissection of the thawed beast yielded astonishing discoveries, including the animal kingdom’s largest eyes and light-emitting organs that may serve as cloaking devices, scientists said.

9. Best Microscopic Images of 2008 Announced

National Geographic's Top 10 Most Viewed Photos of 2008

Glowing-hot carbon nanotubes form an expanding orange ball in this winning image from the 2008 Small World photomicrography competition, sponsored by Nikon and featured in an October 15 National Geographic News gallery. In nine other masterworks of magnification, a beetle danced on a pin, and drugs yielded crystal rainbows.

10. Hurricane Ike: Galveston Braces for Storm

National Geographic's Top 10 Most Viewed Photos of 2008

Sylvia Renteria recoils as a wave churned by Hurricane Ike meets a seawall in Galveston, Texas, on Sept. 12. Before landfall, the National Weather Service’s chilling warnings of “certain death” spurred officials and residents of the coastal town to gird for the worst–and stoked fears of a replay of the devastating 1900 Galveston hurricane that killed 6,000.

Create customized windows installations!

January 7, 2009


  • Create a folder somewhere on your hard drive to copy the windows source files into
  • I called mine ‘XP_Source’ but you can use whatever name you prefer. Just make sure there is adequate space on your hard drive to hold the files
  • Copy the full content from the distribution cd into this folder
  • Start nLite

– Welcome screen shows you which version of nLite you are running and allows you to choose an alternate language.
– To continue click on ‘Next’.

– We must now direct nLite to the folder which contains the windows installation files
– To do this Click on ‘Browse’.

– Select the folder you created above

– nLite recognizes the language and version of your windows installation files

– You can save your current presets for future use or load presets from the last time you used nLite

– At this screen we have the options to choose what we would like nLite to accomplish for us
– These are some of the most advanced and customizable features within nLite
– In this example all of the pages are selected, but you can pick and choose which ones to proceed with

– To Integrate a Service Pack first download the correct pack for your operating system and save it to your hard drive
– Again, you can save it anywhere you want to on your hard drive. I personally chose to save it to my desktop so that I can delete it afterwards
– As you can see, nLite makes things easy for us!
– Links to download the most recent service pack are embedded within nLite
– We must now direct nLite to the service pack file that was downloaded in the step above
– Click on the ‘Select’ tab and the following box will appear

– Use the pull down arrow at the top of the window to help choose the correct file
– When you have located it, click on it, and and then select the ‘Open’ tab
– nLite will automatically extract and integrate the service pack into your windows distribution folder

– In this window we have the option to add hotfixes and update patches into the installion
– I created a folder on my hard drive where I have downloaded all patches and updates for easy reference
– If you are using Internet Explorer, run Windows Update and look for the updates. Then download the actuall file by searching for it within Microsoft’s website

25 Must See Bollywood Movies

January 3, 2009

Via: 25 Must See Bollywood Movies

Black (2005)

Sanjay Leela Bhansali’s ‘Black’ is made with astounding sensitivity and enthralling quest for perfection. It tells the story of a deaf and blind girl, Michelle McNally and her teacher, Debraj Sahai. They together embark on a journey to get Michelle out of an animalistic existence to reach a common goal; of knowledge and respectability. ‘Black’ is inspired by the life of Helen Keller and her teacher Anne Sullivan. Bhansali has extracted mind-blowing performances out of his actors, whether it’s Ayesha Kapoor as a boorish young Michelle or a full-o-beans adult Michelle played by Rani Mukerji or even the alcoholic teacher superbly enacted by Amitabh Bachchan. ‘Black’ is bi-lingual set against an Anglo-Indian family living in the picturesque Shimla. The filmmaker and his actors have bettered their previous best to create a luminous piece of work called ‘Black.’


Lagaan (2001)
’Lagaan’ was the most volatile combo of the two things that makes Indians tick- cricket and Bollywood. The result no doubt was exhilarating. The film was three hours long, but it passed in front of you in a jiffy, each ball being cheered, each shot being egged on. It’s a complete entertainer with songs that became instant hits. The film is a period drama set in the 19th century British-ruled India. Set in a small village called Champaner it tells the story of the simple village-folk struggling to pay off the annual debts (Lagaan) to the British. It had all the trappings of a blockbuster; Aamir Khan, great songs, humour, good-over evil storyline and to top it all, cricket. ‘Lagaan’ went on to be nominated as one of the five entries at the Oscars, the only film after ‘Mother India’ and ‘Salaam Bombay’. It won eight Filmfare awards in all the major categories.

Satya (1998)
’Satya’ spawned numerous gangster flicks but it remains one of the best in its genre. The film was about the genesis of a criminal from an innocent man called Satya. Another character that made a star out of a ‘nobody’, Bhiku Mhatre was a no-frills-no-nonsense role portrayed brilliantly by Manoj Bajpai. The dreaded gangster Bhikubhai is not your regular formula baddie. He is a trigger-happy underworld don who doesn’t need a ‘get-up’ to look the part. Despite being a sadist he evokes sympathy and has a great sense of humour. Manoj Bajpai’s intensity was almost reminiscent of a certain ‘angry young man’ of yore. Bhiku Mhatre floored the audiences as an attitude ‘bhai’ with killer statements like, “Mumbai ka raja kaun? Bhiku Mhatre!”

Dilwale Dulhania Le Jayenge (1995)
The film that may soon make an entry into the Guinness Book Of World Records, ‘Dilwale Dulhania Le Jayenge’ has run in Mumbai’s Maratha Mandir for 500 weeks. It completed 500 weeks on May 13 and will complete 10 years in October 2005. The film has won ten Filmfare awards – a record for a Hindi film. A complete entertainer, ‘DDLJ’ was a sweet love story in an NRI backdrop. Directed by Yash Chopra’s eldest son, Aditya Chopra in 1995 at the age of 23, it was a trendsetter of sorts with the lead couple being second generation Indians living in England with deep Indian values. The music of the film was superhit and so were the ‘great Indian wedding’ preparation scenes portrayed in the film. Shah Rukh – Kajol chemistry crackled on screen and they achieved the numero uno spot in Bollywood post ‘DDLJ’.

Qayamat Se Qayamat Tak (1988)
Aamir Khan’s debut film, ‘Qayamat Se Qayamat Tak’ made him an instant heartthrob. ‘QSQT’ is one of the landmark films of Hindi cinema. It was a welcome break from the violent 70s and 80s with all and sundry doing their ‘angry young man’ act. Even the original ‘angry young man’ was no longer angry. ‘QSQT’ was a simple youthful love story with a fresh look at doomed romance. It is about a star-crossed young couple from traditional feuding families a la ‘Romeo and Juliet’. The young lovers elope and are chased by their parents. When they find no hope for their love they decide to die and make their love immortal. The film was a blockbuster making Aamir Khan and Juhi Chawla household names.

Mr. India (1987)
Shekhar Kapoor’s ‘Mr. India’ had all the ingredients required for the superhit status that it acquired. A superhero like protagonist, great plot, Sridevi at her sexiest best, catchy songs and Hindi cinema’s most adorable villain, ‘Mogambo’. Anil Kapoor as the guy who had the power to go invisible was just awesome in the film. Amrish Puri’s menacing act as Mogambo was not just a turning point in his career but also the most memorable comic-book-villain-acts in Hindi cinema. The audiences were thrilled every time Amrish Puri glared down at them with his fiercely bulbous eyes sporting an atrocious blond wig and garish knee high silver heeled boots. They came back again and again to hear him mouth possibly the most repeated line of Hindi cinema (post 80s), ‘Mogambo khush hua’. Children loved the film for its special effects and the kiddie brigade taking on the villain. The grown ups couldn’t get enough of Sridevi in one of the most erotic ‘wet saree’ (blue clingy chiffon) songs ever in Hindi films, ‘ Kaate Nahin kat te’.

Jane Bhi Do Yaaron (1983)
You just can’t not watch this film and then once you have watched it you can’t stop talking about it. One of the most brilliant satires coming out of Hindi cinema, ‘Jane Bhi Do Yaaron’ has some of the brightest actors of Hindi cinema. The film is about two simple and honest photographer friends, Naseeruddin Shah and Ravi Vaswani. By chance they witness a murder and are dragged into the corrupt real estate deals with politicians and bureaucrats. Actors like Pankaj Kapoor, Om Puri, Satish Shah and Satish Kaushik shared some incredibly funny scenes in the film. Like Sholay people remember the outrageously funny dialogues of the film. Naseeruddin Shah’s “Thoda khao, thoda phenko”, Om Puri’s “Oye DMello, Tu to gaya” are some of the most memorable lines from the film. Some of the funniest scenes include a drunk Om Puri trying to help Satish Shah’s dead body start his ‘car’ (coffin) and the famous Ramlila scene are side-splitting.

Arth (1982)
One of the best films coming from the filmmaker Mahesh Bhat, ‘Arth’ was known to be based on his relationship with the late actress Parveen Babi. The film had two of the best actresses of Hindi cinema, Shabana Azmi and Smita Patil pitted against each other resulting in some super-volatile performances. The soulful songs rendered by Jagjit Singh and Chitra Singh were truly beautiful. The film is about the complexities of an extra-marital relationship from the points of view of the husband (Kulbhushan Kharbanda), the wife (Shabana Azmi) and the mistress (Smita Patil). Shabana excelled in the role of a wronged wife and gave the character a certain dignity hitherto absent in such roles despite the scene when in a drunken state she calls her husband’s mistress a whore publicly. But Smita walked away with the accolades as a guilt ridden, insecure ‘other woman’ and her final scene with Shabana when in a hallucination she picks up the imaginary mangalsutra beads of Shabana shakes you up completely.

Deewaar (1975)
Yash Chopra’s ‘Deewaar’ is a classic example of a perfect Indian melodrama of the 70s –two brothers raised by a long suffering mother. One turns out to be good and the other gets strayed into the big bad world of crime. Amitabh had already made a mark with ‘Zanjeer’ as the ‘angry young man’ and with ‘Deewaar’ he enforced his image emerging as a force to reckon with. The potent dialogues written by the hit duo of Salim-Javed left a huge impact on the audiences receiving whistles and claps by the front-benchers. Who hasn’t heard “ Aaj mere paas bangla hai, gaadi hai, bank balance hai. Tumhare paas kya hai? Mere paas … Maaa Hai ”! Amitabh Bachchan and Shashi Kapoor play brothers and Nirupa Roy their mother. In the climax when Amitabh is shot by his own brother to drive home the good-over-bad philosophy, he staggers into a temple where he dies in the arms of his mother. It was one of the most powerful scenes in the film. Though the entire cast including Shashi Kapoor, Nirupa Roy, Parveen Babi and Neetu Singh did a good job but the film belonged to Amitabh Bachchan who made ‘Deewaar’ a fare to remember with his powerhouse performance.

Sholay (1975)
It’s a tad difficult to fit ‘Sholay’ into a single paragraph. Arguably the most complete and entertaining film of all times, the film boasts of some of the biggest stars of its time-Amitabh Bachchan, Sanjeev Kumar, Dharmendra, Hema Malini, Jaya Bhaduri. It also made a star out of a character called Gabbar Singh -the most imitated character of Hindi cinema. The legendary Gabbar’s dialogues are now folk-lore ( Pachas pachas kos door gaon mein jab bachcha raat ko rota hai to maa kahti hai beta soja ..soja nahin to Gabbar Singh aa jaayega ) peppered with his quirky vicious laughter showing his tobacco-stained teeth or the trademark ferocity ( Yeh haath mujhe de de Thakur ), Amjad Khan as Gabbar Singh is a true blue cult-figure. Each and every character of Sholay is a part of the cinematic folklore, but apart from Gabbar the other most popular characters are Hindi cinema’s best-known buddies, Jai- Veeru and Veeru’s blabbermouth love interest, Basanti. The two friends singing ‘ Yeh dosti hum nahin chhodenge’ makes the most enduring image of screen friendship. Hema Malini as the chatterbox Basanti was a laugh riot. The three share some of the most memorable scenes in the film. Sholay is a classic to be watched again and again.

Bobby (1973)
This was the launch vehicle of Raj Kapoor’s son Rishi Kapoor and a 14 year old girl who became a teen-sensation-Dimple Kapadia. One of the sweetest love stories in Hindi cinema ‘Bobby’ is about a school going girl who falls in love with a lonely, rich young boy. It’s the rich-poor formula but the freshness of the lead pair was the clincher for ‘Bobby’. The music of the film was a smash hit with songs like ‘ Hum tum ik kamre mein band ho’ and ‘Jhooth bole’ becoming anthems for the youth. Dimple Kapadia with her short dresses and knotted teeny weeny tops became the darling of the nation. The screen chemistry of the hero and heroine was so amazing that when Dimple made a comeback more than a decade after ‘Booby’, Rishi Kapoor was signed opposite her.

Garam Hawa (1973)
’Garam Hawa’ is one of the most sensitively made films on the Indo-Pak partition. It doesn’t have the usual melodrama and Pak bashing. ‘Garam Hawa’ was based on an unpublished story by Ismat Chughtai and adapted for the film by Kaifi Azmi. Director M.S. Sathyu strayed away from the mainstream formula of the 70s to recreate the agonizing past that nobody had dared to touch. The film was about a Muslim family that decides to remain in India post-partition. It explores how partition affects them socially, emotionally and economically. The main protagonist, a middle aged shoe manufacturer in Agra was played by Balraj Sahni, one of the finest actors to have graced the Indian silver screen so far. Ustad Bahadur Khan evocative music helps lift the film even more. The film not only won accolades from the critics but was also lapped up by the common man. It also won the National Award that year.

Pakeezah (1972)
Kamal Amrohi’s ’Pakeezah’ acquired a legendary status soon after its heroine, the ‘Tragedy Queen’ Meena Kumari passed away. The film has a larger than life feel and is grand is appearance. The story of a courtesan played by Meena Kumari in arguably her best role ever, ‘Pakeezah’ was made by her husband Amrohi and took a long time to make. The film showcases the elegant past of the privileged class of Uttar Pradesh; their refined culture and grandeur yet at the same time their hypocrisy and decadence of the bourgeois society. Ashok Kumar and Raj ‘Jaani’ Kumar play the suitors of Meena Kumari who has a double role in the film. The incredibly lyrical songs or mujras in the film are breathtaking. The costumes and sets are gorgeous. As the film took long years to make due to the differences between the husband –wife team of Meena Kumari and Kamal Amrohi, Meena looks young and fresh in some scenes and in some painfully haggard and sad. But she covers it all up with her stunning histrionics and dialogue delivery.

Anand (1970)
Rajesh Khanna was the first official superstar of Hindi cinema. He gave a slew of hits in the late 60s and 70s, ’Anand’ being the most important one of them. It was a lighthearted melodramatic tale with deeply tragic undertones. Rajesh Khanna plays Anand, a man suffering from cancer, yet never seen unhappy or crying. Ironically the character is shown to be full of life and laughter. Amitabh Bachchan played his doctor in the film with whom he spends his last days. The film made by Hrishikesh Mukherjee who gave us delightful films like Gol Maal, Chupke Chupke, Mili, Abhimaan and Bawarchi is a true masterpiece. Many dialogues and scenes from the film became popular specially the way Rajesh Khanna said ‘ Babumoshai ’ . Add to all this some beautiful songs and you have a film that stays with you forever. ‘Anand’ won the Filmfare Award in 1972.

Padosan (1968)
Arguably the best Hindi comedy of all times, the mere mention of ‘Padosan’ makes you guffaw. The two uncrowned ‘Kings of Comedy’, Kishore Kumar and Mehmood are at their best. Add to this an excellent performance by Sunil Dutt as a harebrained young man and you have a super entertainer. Bhola (Sunil Dutt) falls in love with a lovely girl, Bindu (Saira Banu), his ‘padosan’ whom he admires from his window every day. Bindu flirts with her music teacher, Master Pillai (Mehmood). Bhola, with the help of his friends Vidyapathi (Kishore Kumar) and his cronies plans to win her over. Vidyapathi runs an acting school and is a singer as well. He turns into a ‘Dr. Love’ persona for Bhola and Bindu ultimately falls for Bhola. It has some hilarious numbers like ‘ Ik chatur naar karke singaar’ and ‘Mere saamne waali khidki mein’ . Kishore Kumar with paan dripping from the side of his mouth, his hair parted at the center with the edge of his dhoti in one hand and a paan box in the other is an enduring image from the film. His impeccable comic timing and the ability to generate fun even from a simple gesture and a word, is remarkable. One simple “Bhole” uttered by him sends you rolling with laughter. If this wasn’t enough there is Mehmood too as a south Indian music teacher with a choti hanging on his clean-shaven head. The scenes where the two suitors of Bindu are competing against each other are riotous. A true masterpiece!

TeesriManzil (1966)
’Teesri Manzil’ is a suspense thriller peppered with glamorous people, glittering sets and a lot of the swinging 60s style songs. The lead pair of Shammi Kapoor and Asha Parekh featured in a string of hits and this potboiler was undoubtedly their best film together. Shammi Kapoor as Rocky, a drummer at a nightclub with his Elvis Presley suits, hairdo and rock’n’roll style was a delight to watch. He is such a rock-star that you ignore his sometimes funny (read bad) enactment of a drummer. Asha Parekh with her tight churidars, the classic sixties bouffant, heavily made up eyes and fluttering eye-lashes wooed her fans dancing down the slopes in her sleeveless kurtas. And not to forget Miss Ruby played by none other than the ‘cabaret queen’, Helen who has some of the most memorable dances in the film. The sets were bizarre yet unforgettable. The matchless duo of Asha Bhonsle and RD Burman added punch to the sizzling numbers of Helen.

Guide (1965)
A true classic based on R.K. Narayan’s novel ‘The Guide’, Vijay Anand’s ‘Guide’ starred Dev Anand and Waheeda Rehman. The film was pretty bold for its time as it showed a guide and a married woman in love and even living together. Rosie played by Waheeda is a dancer who is forced to get married to a middle aged man. She meets an interesting man, Raju who is a guide by profession. The two fall in love and Raju gives Rosie the life that she always craved for. Things don’t work out between them and in a cheating case Raju lands up in jail. When years later he is released he is mistaken as a holy man. He tells the villagers a story of a holy man who had kept a fast for twelve days to bring rain to a drought-hit village. Unfortunately, a drought hits the village soon after. He keeps the fast and slowly grows week and listless. The rains come on the last day of his fast and while the villagers rejoice he dies quietly. ’Guide’ is a landmark films of Indian cinema, way ahead of its time. Dev Anand gives a remarkable performance, perhaps his best winning the Filmfare Award for Best Actor that year. But, its Waheeda who brings life to the film, specially in the first half as a free-spirited young woman who doesn’t mind a live-in relationship. She also won the Filmfare Award for Best Actress that year. Another plus-point of ‘Guide’ was S.D Burman’s music with songs like, “ Piya Tose Naina Lage Re”, ”Aaj Phir Jeene ki Tamanna Hai”, “Din Dhal Jaaye”, “Gaata Rahe Mera Dil”, ““Tere Mere Sapne Ab Ek Rang Hai”, “Kya se Kya Ho Gaya” and “Wahaan Kaun Hai Tera”.

Sahib Biwi aur Ghulam (1962)
According to some, ‘Sahib Biwi Aur Ghulam’ was ghost directed by Guru Dutt. The film was set in late 19th century against a feudal backdrop. Meena Kumari has never looked as sensuous as the Chhoti Bahu in ‘Sahib, Biwi aur Ghulam’ with a stray lovelock peeping out of her head covered with a silk saree pallu and falling on her forehead adorned by a big bindi. She plays the respectable bahu from an upper class Bengali household, yet when she starts a slurred “ Na jao saiyaan ”, the contrast is striking. The unshed tears in Meena’s eyes make her worthy of her ‘Tragedy Queen’ title. Undoubtedly, Chhoti Bahu is the most spectacular character in tragedienne Meena Kumari’s career; a role that was uncannily similar to her own life. Chhoti Bahu dares to question the system and tries to reclaim her errant husband. Unlike the other women in the house, she is not submissive instead she wants his adoration and time. When in her desperation she turns to alcohol, one is stunned by her passion and desire to win over her husband. Her most forceful dialogue from the film is when she dares to argue with her husband who equates her to the wives of other landowners, ” Hindu ghar ki bahu hokar, kya sharab pee hai kissine ?” Meena Kumari, like the miraculous sindoor she yearns for in the film mesmerizes you with her acting skills. The role of Jaba was played by Waheeda Rehman and of Bhootnath by Guru Dutt himself. The film remains with you forever simply because of the splendid performance of Meena Kumari.

Mughal-e-Azam (1960)
’Mughal-e-Azam’, a historical, had the grandeur of a Mughal court and a heady defiant note. Each and every scene in the film is a masterpiece moving in front of your eyes. The film took almost fifteen years in the making and cost Rs 1.5 crores in those days. The cast had the superstars of that time including Dilip Kumar, Madhubala and Prithviraj Kapoor. People from all over the country were brought to Bombay to work on the elaborate costumes, props. and sets. It had a grand premiere held simultaneously in 150 theatres all over the country. The filmmaker K. Asif left no stone unturned to make sure that his film becomes a part of the cinematic folklore. Its a classic tale of rebellious love between Prince Salim and the courtesan Anarkali. Their love is opposed by the powerful king Akbar leading to a father-son rift. Naushad’s music is spell binding specially “ Prem Joga”, ”Pyaar Kiya to darna kya ” and “ Mohe panghat . The recreation of the Sheesh mahal and the shots where the reflection of Madhubala in a giddy twirl is captured in loads of glittering glass pieces is fascinating. The humungous set for this legendary song took all the lights available (even 500 truck beams) and about 100 reflectors to bounce off the light. An intoxicated Madhubala declaring her love with bold lyrics like ‘ Parda nahin jab koi khuda se, bandon se parda karna kya ’ in front of the whole world and the powerful King himself is awe-inspiring. ‘Mughal-e-Azam’, has one of the most talked about erotic scenes in Hindi cinema. Dilip Kumar teasingly caresses an impassioned Madhubala’s radiant face with a long white feather. She shuts her eyes slowly with her lips turned towards her lover and there is a suggestion of a kiss when the two go behind the veil of the feather. The classical notes of ‘ Prem Jogan Banke’ sung by Ustad Bade Ghulam Ali Khan add a timeless quality to the moment. It goes without saying that the film was a blockbuster.

Pyaasa (1957)
Guru Dutt was one of the most brilliant filmmakers of India and ‘Pyaasa’ his most evocative work. Guru Dutt did the lead role of a suffering poet Vijay when it was rejected by Dilip Kumar. Mala Sinha plays his girlfriend, Johnny Walker his masseuse pal and Waheeda Rehman his admirer and a prostitute. The film is replete with symbolism, Guru Dutt’s forte. Whether it’s the powerful crushing the feeble or the hypocrisy of the society there is no parallel to the way it’s handled in ‘Pyaasa’. As an unsuccessful poet he is shunned by all and sundry from his own brothers to even the prostitutes. In bizarre circumstances he is believed to be dead and as luck would have it his work gets published and famous. The same people who ridiculed him attempt to cash in on his ‘posthumous’ glory. In a Christ-like manner the poet ‘resurrects in a function in his memory. The poignancy of the moment leaves you stunned. ‘Pyaasa’ is utterly bitter at times and painfully ironic at others. Its not the kind of film that one forgets in a hurry, it forces you to contemplate over matters that one usually shoves at the back of one’s mind. S. D. Burman music is brilliant as usual but the crowning glory of the film is the lyrics by Sahir Ludhianvi. Songs like “Jaane woh kaise log the”, “Jinhe naaz hai Hind par who kahan hain” and the heartrending “ Yeh duniya agar mil bhi jaaye to kya hai ” are true classics. The film is an absolute must see for all film buffs!

Mother India (1957)
Mehboob’s magnum opus ‘Mother India’ is a tribute to the Indian woman! The only film before ‘Lagaan’ to get a nomination in the Best Foreign Film Category at the Oscars, ‘Mother India’ is an epic. Nargis as Radha, a ‘Mother Courage’ like character was spectacular in the film. It was a performance of a lifetime, a role to die for. It won her the Best actress award at the prestigious Karlovy Vary festival. The film is emotionally charged as Radha represents millions of women across the country struggling to preserve their dignity while bringing up their children single-handedly. She works like a beast to feed her children and pay off the moneylender. Her sons played by Rajendra Kumar and Sunil Dutt help her in getting back their land from the vile clutches of the local moneylender. Sunil Dutt as the rebel son whom she shoots in the end is brilliant. While shooting for the film Sunil Dutt had rescued Nargis from a fire that had broken out on the sets. The two later married spinning a romantic folklore around the film.

Do Aankhen Barah Haath (1957)
The renowned filmmaker V Shantaram made a stirring ‘Do Aankhen Barah Haath’; a film about social reforms. It’s a stark black-and-white film about a jailor who believes that love and trust can turn even the most hardened criminals into God fearing responsible citizens. V Shantaram played the lead character of an idealistic jailor himself and his real life wife Sandhya plays a toy seller. The jailor takes six murderers out of jail and takes their responsibility to reform them. He gives them freedom and trust and gradually are reformed. Shantaram makes the film believable as the change is gradual and thankfully there is no melodrama in the film. The prisoners keep going back to their old ways but the jailors faith and psychologically handled situations make him a winner in the end.

Devdas (1955)
One of the most accomplished filmmakers of Hindi cinema, Bimal Roy made many films that fit the classics list, but Dilip Kumar starrer ‘Devdas’ is an absolute must see. We have seen many versions of ‘Devdas’ based on the novel by Saratchandra Chattopadhyay but this black-and-white version remains the best. It is tragic tale of lost love and a complex mish-mash of human relationships. Dilip Kumar as the self-destructive doomed lover, Devdas gives a remarkable performance. His drunken scenes are understated and that coupled with his inimitable style of dialogue delivery is a deadly combo. Its dialogue ” Kaun kambakht bardasht karne ke liye peeta hai ?” was oft repeated by Dilip Kumar fans. Vyjayanthimala as Chandramukhi and Suchitra Sen as Paro give sensitive performances. Motilal as Chunnibabu is a treat to watch. ‘Devdas’ won Dilip Kumar the Best Actor award and a Best Supporting Actress award for Vyjayanthimala.

Do Bigha Zameen (1953)
Another Bimal Roy classic ’Do Bigha Zameen’ is one of the most unforgettable films of Indian cinema. The protagonist Shambhu brilliantly played by Balraj Sahni migrates to Calcutta from a small village where he owns two acres of land. He needs to earn money desperately to pay the debt as the moneylender wants his plot of land. His son joins him in the city and becomes a shoeshine boy. Balraj Sahni becomes a rickshaw puller. The scenes with him pulling people in his rickshaw were so compelling that you felt the anguish and the urgency with which he enacts them. To get into the skin of the character, Balraj Sahni, a well educated westernized actor practiced rickshaw pulling on the streets of Calcutta and mingled with other rickshaw pullers without telling them who he was. The film explores the cruelty that is meted out to the poor in villages and cities alike. The film wasn’t a big hit but it won major awards at the Cannes film festival, Karlovy Vary film festivals and Filmfare Awards.


Awara ( 1951)
The USP of ‘Awara’ was the now famous Raj-Nargis pairing. Whenever Raj Kapoor and Nargis came together on screen, sparks flew. Their chemistry was electrifying and it crackles with raw passion in Raj Kapoor’s ‘Awara’. Nargis’s wild and carefree sensuality pulsates and Raj Kapoor’s scruffy hair-rebellious persona only adds fuel to the fire. The film was a runaway success not just in India but also in the erstwhile USSR and China. Raj Kapoor plays Raju an aimless youth turned into a criminal living in the slums who is loved by a respectable lawyer played by Nargis. The film established Raj Kapoor as the Chaplin-like ‘tramp’ of Hindi cinema. The music of the film was on the lips of not just Indians but people from all over the world especially Russians. The songs specially “ Awaara hoon”, “Ghar aaya mera pardesi ” and “ Dum bhar jo udhar muhn phere ” are remembered even today. The first ever dream sequence to be filmed in Hindi cinema where a gorgeous Nargis wafts through the clouds in search of her lover, Raj Kapoor took three months to shoot. It is a symbolic picturisation of the turbulence in the mind of the hero, he escapes the hell that the villain has created and climbs up to the angelic heroine. This song was a big attraction in its time and it spawned numerous dream-sequences.