Sunday, December 31, 2017

Year-end reflections

2017 will go down in my professional career (till now) as the year I worked the hardest. Personally it will be the year I traveled the craziest (mostly for work) and didn't really have much of a work-life balance.

The way things are getting extremely connected (always-on) we are increasingly immersing ourselves into a work-only culture. The constant checking of email on phone, the buzzing of instant messages from all over the world (office colleagues, customers, partners, vendors - the list goes on). I think it is now time for us to actively disconnect or at least have preset hours in a day where we intentionally switch-off our email and all kinds of messaging services even on our phones.

If you are like me, what can we strive to do differently next year? Well, I have been going through a mid-life crisis of sorts (for several years now) and I am beginning to question my definitions of both - happiness and success. These are highly subjective, overly marketed and poorly defined terms in everyone's life. Unless you really "identify" your definition of happiness and success - you will be endlessly and thanklessly stuck in the rat race called the "fast-paced life".

So, my plan for my resolutions for 2018:

  • Identify what is my definition of success and happiness
  • Ruthlessly cut down on peripheral activities that do not contribute to either
  • Subscribe to the JOMO (Joy of Missing Out) philosophy
  • Actively minimize and simplify my life
Wish you all an amazing 2018

Saturday, December 23, 2017

Binge Watching

Today will go down in my life history (in Google) as the day I binge watched Conan videos all day! I have binge watched only once before. That one time when we discovered House of Cards and completed Season 1 in one day. But today was different. I was not watching episodes (they have continuity, and that's a reason why we can't stop at the end of an episode cause you are curious to know what happens next!). Today I was just randomly watching Conan videos all day, with my YouTube on auto-play.

Now, I am a big fan of a lot of talk shows. My daily dose of YouTube videos (in no particular order) consists of:
  • The Daily Show with Trevor Noah
  • The Late Show with Stephen Colbert
  • The Tonight Show starring Jimmy Fallon
  • Jimmy Kimmel Live
  • Last Week Tonight with John Oliver
While all of the talk show hosts are funny and interesting, I guess most of them are very driven by political opinions and current affairs. Conan on the other hand is pretty random, and I love his sense of humor. He has all these random videos of him traveling, learning self-defense, being mean to his staff and generally being silly. I would highly recommend you binge watching him.

Sunday, December 17, 2017

Wise Men Dancing

In my quest to stay abreast with the latest music that the current generation is listening to, I still try to listen to the top tracks every week from YouTube. Most of the music is hit and miss for me now. Reflects my age.

I realize that you somehow can only associate with the songs that you heard as a teenager. Songs before that are too old for your taste and the songs after that are just not cool enough. I think every generation thus has a decade of music and musicians that they really like and then everyone else is just okay.

Anyway, while listening to the latest generation, I chanced across this video by Carly Rae Jepsen featuring Tom Hanks (my generation). It is tastefully done, and for some reason I think I really love videos which get popular old male actors to dance in them.

So without further adieu I need to link you guys to the other cool song that I know of an old male actor featuring - Christopher Walken (again) and his amazing dance in the Weapon of Choice by Fatboy Slim.

So I guess, I can safely conclude that - to get a lot of views for your video, you don't necessarily need a lot of cute girls (read K-pop) but you can do it by getting a wise old actor dance for you!

Sunday, November 26, 2017

Beat Yesterday

By some pleasant random act of fate, I ended up switching my fitness trackers from my beloved Fitbit to a Garmin. While the Garmin by all means is awesome, I have a feeling it is meant for serious athletes among us. Most of the times I feel like my Garmin fitness tracker looks down upon me. It's like - "You are too unfit for me! Getup you lazy human, I am designed to be worn by active ones!" Doesn't help me with my inferiority complex.

Anyway, the one thing I like about it is the concept of beat yesterday! It doesn't set me ambitious impossible goals. The goals for the next day are based on what I did the previous day (or rather they use a smoothing factor of last several days!) This means that if I have had a particularly active week, then my challenge for next week is to live up to my previous week. In the same context, if I have been lazy for a while, Garmin steps down my challenges and just expects me to do marginally better.

This I feel is a very important life lesson. You have to work hard for everything in life. And consistency is rewarded more than random acts of hard-work followed by bouts of lazy days. Your goals, hobbies and ambitions can only be achieved if you consistently work towards them and just continuously aspire to beat yesterday!


Saturday, November 18, 2017

Pseudo Carpenter

Last few weeks, I have had the pleasure of installing a lot of IKEA furniture. Tables, Chairs, Beds, Wardrobes, you name it and I tried my hand at assembling them.

IKEA furniture assembly is easy. I believe they have a bunch of monkeys in a room somewhere. And the monkeys have been trained to follow instructions. The assembly manual of every new piece of IKEA furniture is tested and quality controlled by the monkeys before it is released to the general public.

Assembling the furniture gives you a false sense of accomplishment. I pretended like I was a carpenter for a few days. In reality, all I did was follow the simplified instructions. Playing with a lot of LEGO blocks as a child also helps.

Anyway, IKEA deserves all the credit for making me feel happy! I have never ever been good at wood-work. The only time I had to do some remote wood work was in the first year of engineering. We had to make a T-joint using a block of wood. I think mine was the worst amongst my classmates. So now being able to assemble several pieces of furniture really gives me a high!

Saturday, September 30, 2017

Anti-social Media

Sometime almost a year ago, I felt depressed, demotivated and very sad with where my life was headed. I decided that Social Media was turning me dumber, and I was wasting a lot of time on things that didn't matter to me.

I deleted my Twitter and Facebook account in one shot and got rid of the social media addiction that I had developed. Now I no longer get to see my friend's babies, their travel routines, and how much fun they are having. My real-life friends are still in touch with me, and then I occasionally reach out to distant people whom I miss.

Deleting Facebook was the best thing I could have done to my time. I magically garnered at least 1 hour of time on weekdays and a solid 3+ on weekends. I never ran out of data on my phone, other than that one time I had to tether for work related stuff. That, along with the fact that I didn't have to be jealous of anyone else's awesome life, really helped.

Over the years I have realized that I can't wane myself away from stupid addictions unless I really discipline myself by taking extreme steps. This doesn't mean that I don't waste time anymore. It's just that my new time drain is Reddit.

Tuesday, August 8, 2017

Simple Wardrobe

Talking of minimalism reminds me that I have reached the zen state in one aspect of my life - clothes and shoes. The rule I have adopted is very simple.

You can only have "X" number of items of clothing. The x is what you are comfortable with (it can be any number, smaller the better). And the x splits into a, b, c for types of clothing and so on. So a simple wardrobe could be:

10 Formal Shirts
5 Formal Trousers
5 T-shirts
3 Shorts
etc. etc

While the concept is deceptively simple, it's harder to implement than what you think. The key is to maintain the X constant. So if you plan to purchase something new, an old piece of clothing has to give way. And it has to be of the same type. So a trouser can only replace a trouser and so on.

I have been using this system for last 2+ years. I look boring cause I keep repeating my clothes, but at least, I have reduced my clutter, and I am happier with my wardrobe more than ever before. And the best part is - every piece of clothing is something I love and comfortable in. And I no longer do random purchases because I see things on sale!

Sunday, August 6, 2017

Fake Minimalist

So we moved again. Again??!! Yes again. And I went through the notions of packing, throwing, repenting buying and cursing myself for all the stuff we own. And while I thought I had become a minimalist since the last time I moved, I figured that was just a notion.

The good part is - there was no significant increase in stuff since the last time we moved (28 boxes). The bad part is - I still have a lot of stuff (28 freaking boxes of what??!!). Minimalism is harder than you think it is. While I have severely cut down on my purchasing habits, it's next to impossible to reduce what I already own. And trust me - I have already minimized my clothes and shoes. So the boxes I am talking about are everything else but clothes and shoes.

I think true minimalism comes when you actually manage to throw away 80% of the stuff you own and live in the 20%. So here we go again. Back to square one. Minimalism is a journey and I have just begun.

Saturday, July 1, 2017

Smart Consumerism

So 4 years ago I bought a Samsung Smart TV. It is an internet connected TV that lets me do other things on the TV beyond just watching cable. Now my favorite activity on the internet that I love to do on the television is - watch YouTube.

I believe I watched more YouTube on my TV than I watched cable television. Then all of a sudden on 30th June 2017, YouTube stopped working on my TV. I searched around on the internet a bit and realized that YouTube decided to move to a new platform (HTML5) and the older apps are no longer supported. Samsung has gone silent on this issue, but it is anybody's guess that they won't go update their old TVs.

And it dawned on me that - what used to be consumer goods with decades of life (our TV, Refrigerator, Washing Machine grew up with me), now will suddenly stop working on you, even though they are in a perfectly good condition. This my friends, is the beginning of SMART Consumerism.

While we get all gung-ho about IoT and everything getting "SMART". What we tend to forget is - these products will not be updated forever. I am sure most manufacturers will support them for 3-4 years (even if they plan to support!) and then they will expect you to trash it and buy a new one.

There goes minimalism down the drain and so does the planet. Say hello to more stuff.

Friday, June 9, 2017


If you have been reading my blog long enough, you know that I believe that climate change is real. I believe that my activities, however small they are, affect the earth negatively.

Lately, I have been reading about the other side of this issue. I understand that quite a few of us believe that climate change is not affected by human activities. And all the climate models worked out by scientists are incorrect. Of course everyone is entitled to have their own opinion, and everyone has their own source of information ascertaining their point of view.

I can understand that if we continue to be skeptical of climate change, we can continue to burn fossil fuels, use coal for our power plants, use fossil fuel based transportation and continue to increase our carbon emissions. Anyway that's what we have all been doing all this while, and that is what has put us on to this path of fast-track progress!

My only concern is - What if?

What-if the climate models turn out to be real?
What-if we are indeed affecting the climate by our activities?
What-if incessant and uncontrolled carbon emissions will cause irreversible increase in earth temperatures that will make this planet inhabitable?

I understand that we can continue to be skeptical, and not believe in the scientific research being published. We can continue to live the way we have lived for the last several decades.

But also, we can now strive to change our habits on a personal level. Try to reduce our carbon footprints in our own small way. Irrespective of our belief in climate change, there is no harm in being frugal in our consumption of the earth's resources, being mindful of carbon emissions, and adopting a less fossil fuel based lifestyle.

It is not because we have to believe in climate change. It is just because we have a shared responsibility to our planet. And we don't want to worry about the what-if?

Wednesday, May 31, 2017


Seems like I haven't written here forever.

As I grow older, I am slowly lacking discipline in my daily routines. While I can complain I am "busy", what I believe is - I am getting increasingly lazy and letting myself become the middle-aged man that I always dreaded to be.

Distractions have increased. Entertainment now takes higher priority than hobbies. Work seems to occupy more of my personal time than ever before. And things that I should be doing, get procrastinated while Work, YouTube and Reddit take precedence. Health also seems to have taken a back seat.

This is more of a wake up call for me (and for you) to not let life drift away, but continue to do things that matter to you (and to me) most! And if you haven't yet figured out what matters to you - may be you (and I) should do that right about now!

Sunday, March 5, 2017

Thank you Fitbit

Yeah this sounds like a commercially motivated post. And if I think hard enough, well, it is!

I have been using Fitbit(s) for over 3.5 years now. They have been practically tracking my every move ever since I bought my first one. And I am sure they are doing tonnes of longitudinal research to analyze how "people like me" live.

The innocently sounding "Every breath you take" song from Police has taken a completely different meaning these days. With everyone from Google, to the agency that shall not be named, to fitness tracking devices have been diligently "watching" us.

Anyway, the intention of this post is not to scare you. But I have been growing increasing dependent on Fitbit for my "fitness goals". The company on its end has been diligently helping me track my habits. In the recent couple of months I have had some major troubles with my devices and they have been always sweet enough to give me replacements without any complains. I believe they realize my longitudinal value as a "happy customer" as much as I rely on them for my everyday tracking!

So thank you Fitbit. You are helping me a lot.

Sunday, February 26, 2017

Guns N' Roses

Guns N' Roses was "the" band during my teenage and then under-graduate years. Sweet Child O' Mine was our anthem, and I believe everyone of us could sing it at a moment's notice.

So I was thrilled when I heard GNR is on tour and covering Singapore this time. I managed to see them live yesterday and yeah it will go down as one of my most memorable concerts ever. I got transported 15 years back and felt young and (not so wild - yeah I was studious you know!). But anyway, loved it, screamed and jumped to my heart's content.
Not in this Lifetime Tour

Both Axl Rose and Slash have visible aged. But their energy and showmanship remains amazing. Every time I see a band that I grew up with, I realize how old I am. These guys were all my teenage idols and now they look like a bunch of old uncles!

Sunday, February 12, 2017

Survived the cold

Having born in the western part of India and then subsequently hardly ever seeing temperatures below 24°C my tolerance to cold is abysmal. And the previous attempts when I did go to colder places like in cold classrooms or in the summer in cold places, it was a nightmare for me.

This time around, I made it to some of the coldest places in Central Europe in the dead of winter and survived to tell you guys the tale. The average temperatures were -1° to -3°C and the coldest I survived was -9°C. Now before I start, this is how I mostly looked during the entire trip:

Covered from head to toe except for a small slot for my eyes to see where am I going. I pretty much made sure that not a single body part was exposed. And then, for the parts that were covered, I made sure that I had several layers. On an average (warm day of a -1°C) I was 5 layers of woolens and thermals. And on particularly cold days, I went up-to 7 layers.

And like a true Oscar award winner, I would like to thank Uniqlo for making amazing winter clothes and Timberland for making shoes that could survive the cold and provide me the grip on slippery surfaces. Finally I would love to thank Mumbai and Singapore for being warm and sunny so that I can just wear a shorts and t-shirt and comfortably walk around.

Wednesday, January 25, 2017

Coffee on-board

I am sitting in a high-speed train, having a coffee and looking out the window to a snowy landscape while traveling at 150 Kph. I have nothing much to do than admire the landscape and think about having finally fulfilled this dream that I had for years.

I always wanted to board a train, travel through a cold country and have a coffee on-board. Never figured why I so "wanted" to do this. Maybe because of the British cinema that I was exposed to in my early life, or maybe because of the video games that I played that were set in cold landscapes with trains in them (e.g. Project IGI, Return to Castle Wolfenstein etc.)

Now, I have nothing much to write. But I am blogging cause I want this moment to last for eternity. And it feels exactly the way I felt it would feel. Of course, surfing the internet on the train was not a part of the deal!

Saturday, January 21, 2017

49 Weeks to 2018

Have had some of the busiest days of my life in the last month. So when other things take priority, blogging goes on a back burner. Hope you all had a lovely start to the new year, and wish you an amazing year ahead, or rather wish you happy 49 more weeks to 2018.

Depending on how you compartmentalize your days, they can be very long or very short! Hang on to your resolutions and make sure you achieve them this year!