I am a big fan of the James Bond series of films and to this day, "From Russia With Love" remains one of my favorite James Bond movies, not to mention Sean Connery's fabulous role as the 007 agent in the movie.

In any case, I am getting to spend a few days in Russia this week with a number of my other colleagues from Microsoft.  The trip is less than half way through and I thought I will share my initial observations.  This is the second time I am visiting Russia.  The last time was in the Spring of 2001. 

1.  The country is gearing up for May 9th celebrations on the 60th anniversary of the end of WW2.

2.  Literacy in Russia is phenomenally high - somewhere in the 99+%.  That forms an awesome basis for the country to propel ahead in the information era.

3.  Mobile phones usage is very high with literally two-thirds of the country's population having access to a mobile phone.  Just in the last year, the number of mobile phone subscribers have gone up by 30+ million.

4.  I fully expect adoption of technology (internet, PCs, etc.) to be on a hockey stick curve in the coming years.

There is one other story I wanted to share with you which I thought was funny.  One of my colleagues here is Andrey Kruchkov and he narrated this.  For those of you who are Bollywood fans (Hindi movie industry in India), you would know that "Sholay" that was released back in the mid-1970s is a classic, all-time hit.  Apparently, Andrey had watched the movie 8 times growing up as a kid.  Recently, he and his wife were planning to go out for dinner one evening and when Andrey realized that Sholay was going to be telecast in some Russian TV channel, he cancelled the dinner outing and instead ordered pizza.  His wife had never watched the movie and so was wondering about his behavior.  They ended up watching the movie and Andrey was predicting the next scene pretty much throughout the movie to his wife's complete amazement.  Never did I imagine that a Russian friend of mine would be so excited about an Indian movie that came out nearly 30 years ago.  The world is a small place :).

Namaste!