Friday, August 19, 2016

Pens of India

There is this particular brand of ballpoint pens that I have been using for the last 10 over years. Every time I do an India trip, one of the items that I stock up on - are these pens. They just work without any hassle, and are very very cheap. Somehow, inflation in India doesn't seem to have affected their prices and as far as I can remember it has always been Rs. 5 (The Lexi 5n Variety).

Lexi Pen

Now before you judge me, I have to remind you that I have given other pens a very reasonable try.  From the very expensive Watermans and Sheffields of the world, to the Lamys, Parkers, Pilots and Uni-balls I have tried them all.While those pens look incredible beautiful and are a pleasure to show-off, when the pedal hits the metal (or when the tip meets the paper!), I find that the paper qualities that I use to write on are not upto their standard. The most common problem I have is - they blot/ smudge on the paper.

I also toyed around using classy ink (nib-tip) pens. They write beautifully but they are a nightmare to carry around. Especially in an aircraft, the ink tends to come out because of the low cabin pressure. And then carrying around the ink everywhere is kind of a hassle.

As for these pens from India, they just write! Smoothly, without any issues. Any kind of notebook or paper I buy, they work. I am running out of my last pen in my current stock, and I thought I write about them. Why? Well cause they help me plan my day every day!.

Sunday, August 7, 2016

Get up and go

So Pokemon Go was released in Singapore yesterday. I bumped into a lot of people walking around with their phones out hunting Pokemons in the mall next to my house yesterday. I can see the frenzy catching up instantly. Now it will be another round of national pastime until something else comes along. Angry Birds and Candy crush, you have been now one-upped.

Anyway, social evil or not, I believe this game will go down in history as the first game that made people come out of their houses out in the open and explore their neighborhood albeit through Augmented Reality. What Geocaching, most fitness bands and health tracking devices couldn't do, Pokemon Go achieved it. Period.

This is what Gamification is all about. Challenging friends on Fitbit never helped if they were as unmotivated and lazy as you were. And if you had a really fit friend, most of the times they were far far ahead of you and you had no motivation to compete. Thank you Pokemon Go for making the world a healthy place again, I hope you figure out how to keep people out of danger while they are zapping away monsters with their phones out in the open. And I hope you can monetize all that information you gather from our Pokemon habits to creep us out further.

Sunday, July 31, 2016

Follow your dreams

As far as I recall, every kid is told that they can follow their dreams. Somewhere in the middle of your life you are beaten into submission and you follow a safe track for your life. Sometimes you choose it, but most of the times it is the "tried and tested" path that your parents walked on. Get a "stable" job (or whatever that means!). Work a 9-6 routine till you retire.

There are some amongst us, who go against all odds and still follow their childhood dreams. I always am amazed by such people and I have my utmost respect for them. A few years ago (2013), I came across this relatively unknown singer (for me!) and his song. Now, if you read the YouTube comments below his song, they are mostly negative. For me, however he was an inspiration. Follow your dreams. He did what he loved, and he did what most of us can never do. This was his first English song that got my attention a few years ago. It apparently took him 30 long years to pen the lyrics for his first song. That's dedication!

And recently I came across a new song by him. It's different, but mind you, he got a nice voice and he followed his dreams, what many of us dare not do!

Sunday, July 24, 2016

10th Anniversary

So it dawned on me that I have been writing this blog for 10 years. Today, I officially mark the 10th year of me writing my thoughts here. What started as a "Hello World" persisted as a weekend hobby for a decade.

A decade is almost 30% of my life. A long time indeed. But as I grow old, I realize that time periods look smaller and smaller. So a year of my life used to be a significant time period when I was in school. Now even 5 years look small. I think that's what growing old is all about. In my teens anyone above the magical age of 25 looked old to me. Now in my late 30s, everyone looks young (may be the early 70s are the old people for me as of now!).

Life goes on. Thank you for reading my thoughts. And thank you for being with me in this journey.

Saturday, July 16, 2016


So after a long while, I managed to change jobs. I have left everything related to SAP. That's 12 long years of doing it. I am obviously sad, scared and generally running around with butterflies and moths in my stomach.

I can't really share much of what I went through in getting this job. But trust me when I say I had to go through a lot of pain and I networked. I am sure everyone has their own way of finding jobs. And looking at the career ladder (of salaried professionals) I can see that most of you are at higher (more successful rungs of that ladder than I am). But for the rest of you, who are like me, these are the 2 most important things I did that helped me:
  1. Make a list of companies that you would love to work for. I think this is the single important thing that helps you focus, rather than going out there on job-sites and sending resumes incessantly. If you are in your mid-career right now (like I am), blasting resumes doesn't help much (or I think so!)
  2. Use LinkedIn to Network. I think I was very shy at doing this and even when I started I was hesitant. I did reach out to a lot of people that gave me a cold shoulder. But you just need that 1 person to respond. So don't lose hope. And use the list that you made in point 1 to focus on your networking. And of course, don't spam people.

Saturday, July 9, 2016

Too much stuff

If there is one thing I have been obsessed with since last year, it has to be minimalism.

The best definition of minimalism I found is here, quoting them verbatim:

Minimalism is a lifestyle that helps people question what things add value to their lives. By clearing the clutter from life’s path, we can all make room for the most important aspects of life: health, relationships, passion, growth, and contribution.

I think it all started when I realized I have been hoarding (slightly only!) collectibles and trinkets and then as I moved houses several times I realized my possessions have been increasing progressively.

Anyway, since sometime last year, I have been (very!) consciously reducing my possessions and generally not shopping (unless absolutely necessary). So I don't go shop because I feel so, or shop because there is a sale, or shop  because I have nothing else to do. If I really have to buy something, it first goes into my "To Buy" list and stays there for a while before I go spend. And yeah, I ain't talking about groceries, medicines and other everyday essential stuff. They are of course bought when I need them. And trust me, I ain't turning ascetic or anything like that.

Last week I came across this video which sort of reinforces what I am doing, and I think it's best to share it with all of you. It's called the "Story of Stuff" and walks through our general obsession with buying and hoarding onto stuff.

Sunday, June 26, 2016

Tactical Ignoring

My knowledge of human psychology is almost zilch. I never can understand other people's behavior nor can I judge people correctly. However lately, I have come to recognize a certain pattern within some individuals I know. It is - "Attention Seeking". And I understand that the only way I can curtail it is by "Tactical Ignoring".

Without getting into too much details - I had this one "friend" on Facebook who always writes extremely controversial status messages to garner attention and have virtual wars with his followers. A few years ago he began by writing misogynistic messages (while he was single). Every post was so politically incorrect and so anti-feminist that he would definitely spark a controversy. Astonishingly within a few years he got married. That's the time I realized that he was just trying to garner attention and stay in the Facebook limelight.

Lately he has shifted to bashing the ruling populist Government in India. While, those are harmless Facebook posts, reading them definitely affects me. So I decided to start ignoring him. And finally, I un-friended him off Facebook.

What may seem as "exercising free speech", is many times just attention seeking. Especially when the free speech comes from keyboard warriors. In the world of constant social media that we live in, I find a lot of attention seekers! So next time when you plan to engage with someone on social media for their snide remarks, just practice tactical ignoring!

Sunday, June 19, 2016

Accidental Marathoner

Last month a bunch of my friends and I signed up for what we thought was a relay race for a Vertical Marathon. Vertical Marathons are races in which you have to climb a tall building (in our case it was a 64 storied building).

We were 5 of us. So for a relay, 64/5 came to approximate 12 floors per person. 4 weeks before the actual marathon, I started training for the event starting at 5 floors a day, and about a week before, I could comfortably do 12 floors. Just to be prepared for the race, I started doing 20 floors.

Anyway, on the day of the event, we were negotiating on who will do the extra 4 floors (we volunteered the fittest amongst us!). And then we went to line up for our turn. To our utter disbelief we were told that there was no "relay" and we had actually signed up for a "group" climbing event! What that meant - each one of us had to do the 64 floors, and our group would be timed by the slowest in our group!

And then the ordeal started. What I thought was a casual 12 floor climb, turned out to be a beastly 64 floor hike. Slowly and steadily I paced myself, and I am proud to say I survived to get my first (and probably only!) Marathon medal of my life.

Marathon Finisher

If there is one thing that I have decided not to ever do, it has to be a marathon. I think I am physically incapable of that kind of endurance. While, I know that if I train long enough, anything is possible, I don't fancy putting myself through the pain.

So this thing was just lucky. Now I thank my friends for being as ignorant as me and not reading the rules! Anyway, after having completed the climb, I can definitely tell you that - climbing 64 floors ain't as difficult or tiring as doing an actual running Marathon of 42.195 km.

The running Marathon is not only tougher but also longer and I believe really tests your endurance to the limit. So while I fancy my medal, I still admire all my brave friends who have run marathons!