Monday, January 28, 2013


School kids are an important mechanism to get donations for charity. I don’t really know the reasoning behind why kids are made to go collect money, but thinking out loud it may be – to create a sense of discipline about money early in their lives or to make them feel that they contributed to a noble cause.

Anyway, I think the intention has always been very clear – it’s the children who have to go and collect the funds. It’s their sweetness and innocence that makes the donor contribute her bit to their cause.

I remember my good old days going door to door collecting funds for some charity. Not only were people extremely stingy, but at most places, I got free things to eat but not a cent in my kitty. I mean, the amount of stuff that I got to eat could have easily been valued at more than 5 times the amount that I actually collected. I learnt an important lesson – people are ready to give away non-monetary things much more easily. But now that I look back, I might very well be eating stale left overs (somehow all I ever got was cold-stuff from the friendly neighbor’s fridge).

But these days, I have found a new trend going on. Parents, bring their kids’ donation card to the office and then make all co-workers contribute. Also to make sure that we don’t set a low bar, the parents put in their first donation which is like a huge number. Then to fit in and not look like a heartless soul, every single body in the office puts in the same amount as what the parent contributed.

In the last week itself, I have spent like a week of my salary donating money to kids whom I have neither seen nor do I know they exist. My only connection with them and the charity (which I know nothing of) is their parents! Sometimes its so bad, that I don’t even know what I am contributing for!

I could very well print a card and take it to office saying it is for my kid’s charity and put some insane figure as my contribution and make others do the same. Don’t get me wrong, I am completely for donations. And if I meet school kids on the street asking me to support their cause, I do put in spare change. But what these parents do is just plain extortion.

Friday, January 25, 2013

The extra-hot coffee

As long as I have been writing this blog, I have been a caffeine junkie. Not something I am proud of, but well also not something that I am trying to abstain from. I love my coffee and if anything, I love to learn and know more about coffees.

Uncle made coffee

Now, the local coffee uncle from whom I get my daily dose of coffee makes his coffee piping hot. But every once in a while, I like to indulge myself and I go to a Starbucks or a local expensive pseudo-Italian/ American coffee shop. Not only are their coffees super expensive but also, they are fattening and not hot enough.

Kopi Uncle

To put things in perspective a visit to a Starbucks costs me worth a week of my regular street-side uncle made coffee. And then how many calories does a Starbucks have? Well, my favorite coffee – the Vanilla Latte actually contributes to 12% of my RDA. You can see the nutrition content of all of Starbucks products here. Finally, my favorite uncle makes his coffee so hot, that if I am not careful enough I can actually burn my tongue. As for the expensive coffees they are hot enough to be used as ice-packs. Yeah I know, most of you won’t agree with my rant about the degree of hotness of coffee. But lately I have noticed that Indians have a tendency to drink very hot liquids as compared to the rest of the world that I know. So if you are an Indian reading this blog post you know what I mean.

So with all these issues, how do you still splurge and feel less guilty and more happy? Well, Starbucks allows you to customize your coffee. So my order these days is super customized. I ask for a tall Vanilla Latte, non-fat, sugar-free and extra-hot. And with my funny accent most of the times the baristas don't get it. Then I have to repeat again and again and again till the whole place knows. Anyway, trying to be shameless, I don’t care as long as I get my perfect coffee. And it is less sinful with almost half the calories of their original drink.

Sunday, January 6, 2013

Lizard Brain

Most of us have heard and know of the “flight-or-fight” response, “amygdala hijacking” and associated behavior. Though I knew the scientific theory I was never that cognitive of its impact on my everyday life till I read Seth Godin’s Linchpin.

Before I write anymore about it, let me define the Lizard Brain the way Seth does it:

“The lizard is a physical part of your brain, the pre-historic lump near the brain stem that is responsible for fear and rage and reproductive drive.”


“The resistance [sic] is the voice in the back of our head telling us to back off, be careful, go slow, compromise. The resistance is writer's block and putting jitters and every project that ever shipped late because people couldn't stay on the same page long enough to get something out the door”.

And for the visually motivated amongst us, there is a nice little video that someone put together to explain the lizard brain and its importance:

What is the Lizard Brain?

Okay, in simple words – I find my Lizard brain to be that part of my brain that is judgemental, scared and prevents me from trying or doing anything out of the ordinary. It is that part that keeps reminding me that – people are looking, you are not supposed to do that and I should be happy with whatever I have achieved and not look for more challenges.

The advantage of knowing of its existence now is – I can rationalize my fear. Each time that I am attempting to do something different and my brain prevents me from doing it, I can actually rationalize that its not me but a little part of my brain. Then I can consciously go and do it. So may it be public speaking, helping a stranger or just writing a blog post. Acknowledging its existence has now helped me become a little less shy and more disciplined with life in general. If you are like me, may be understanding this part of your brain might really help!