Saturday, September 27, 2014

To be or not to be

Don't aim at success. The more you aim at it and make it a target, the more you are going to miss it. For success, like happiness, cannot be pursued; it must ensue, and it only does so as the unintended side effect of one's personal dedication to a cause greater than oneself or as the by-product of one's surrender to a person other than oneself. Happiness must happen, and the same holds for success: you have to let it happen by not caring about it. I want you to listen to what your conscience commands you to do and go on to carry it out to the best of your knowledge. Then you will live to see that in the long-run—in the long-run, I say!—success will follow you precisely because you had forgotten to think about it.
- Victor Frankl

When I heard a friend speak of her fabulous trip to Greece, I grew envious.
And then I realised there was nothing to envy for we always see the greener parts on the other side.
Most of us are doomed to mediocrity, but there is nothing wrong with it.
We will never do the best things we hear of and read of and see... we will always do that which we are able to and allow ourselves to.

One should look back at life as though it has already been lived and once you do that acknowledge that you are about to act as wrongly now as you did the first time. - Frankl again.

Monday, May 26, 2014

The Surrogates are here

We have achieved and destroyed a lot of things very quickly.
The last 20 years have been transformational, with personal computing, air travel, and the internet changing human lives forever.

And now, the surrogates are here.
I didnt know we were so close to the Bruce Willis movie about the future where humans opted for artificial bodies, and artificial looks to lead a more visually appealing, safer and stronger life.

It will start with medical surgeries/ implants/ limb replacements.
It will soon go to making a normal human stronger and reducing and eventually removing his need for using his biological body.
It's not too far fetched.

Humans cant be broken, technology is broken.
I wonder if this will be a curse or a gift.

Not too long ago, mobile phones made the world so much better with the ability to stay in touch.
And now, some companies and the government have the power of knowing where you are and more scarily, people are in touch with others through their mobile phones in the midst of being physically around some other friends.
The ability to stay in touch has transformed into a habit of wanting to be in touch, when there is no real need for the same.

I wonder where Bionics, Apple, FB and Google are going to take us.

Sunday, December 29, 2013

Farooque saab

Met Farooque at Dehradun airport in September, and told him about this article that my friend had written.
He was a pleasant man. Spoke to him for 2 minutes at the bookshop at the airport, about how nice the said interview was, and about how simple people are difficult to find.
He died yesterday.
Such is life.

What struck me today morning while reading the newspaper was how fondly people spoke of him and remembered past events. And I thought that, well, that's a life well lived isn't it.
Nobody cared about how much money he made, or how big his hits were, or whom he bedded.
People just remember his lucknowi chikan kurta and his nodding smile.

I was visibly sad when I read about his death.

Monday, September 2, 2013

Life at 26

A lot has changed in the time that I have lost the will to write; somebody crazy has entered my present and promises to mold my future. Am not sure how this came to be; is this what I hoped for? Sure it is. This is an amazing place and I have not felt this breeze in a while.

8 months ago, life seemed alright and drudgery was beginning to rear its head. Somehow, my work life has drastically improved - to the point where I can't distinguish between within and without.

It's a scary time this, because my road seems to have changed; the dense, beautiful forest has given way to vast plains of new shoots. My troubled past seems to be overwhelmed by this change, and parts of me which had been lost are finding themselves again.

This country has evolved to the point of acceptance and withdrawal. There are many far-fetched thoughts in my head, all of which seem attainable, and if not, then worth the endeavour. Suddenly, everything seems to have become exciting. Sure, there is deep fear that I will be disappointed and broken. And if I am broken again, I wonder where my soul will wander off to. 

I wish to study again
I wish to live away from India for a year if not many
I wish to allow room for changes in my insolence
I wish to read ever more.

Friday, August 9, 2013

Facebook

And I just deactivated my facebook account.
Feels oddly relieving.
Like pooping after a long time.

Friday, June 7, 2013

Who are you supposed to be?

The other day a friend spoke of gender biases - "he allowed her to cut her hair."
"What did he mean by the word "allowed"? And why doesn't that happen the other way around?"

To this, another interjected and said that it's not a question of gender but of a partnership - one often seeks another's approval, either sincerely or just to keep the swords sheathed. (No pun)

So, I think today that, quite often, who we are is a resultant of who we are with. That said, at a certain age and at a certain stage we choose those with whom we would like to be associated. We shed the lipids and we bulk up on the protein and vitamins. At a certain stage, we proclaim to ourselves that this person is who I am and this is how I choose to go along on my journey henceforth.

The big caveat here is - do we have the freedom to do the said? That freedom is a choice; it's another thing that most people choose to live in a creation of the large society around them, and that they believe that they are left with no choice.

As the Oracle had said, there is always a choice and we have already made the choice - it's up to us to understand why we have made that choice.

And then there are the hedonists. The purists. The egoists as portrayed in Ayn Rand's creations. Mr. Rituparno Ghosh seemed to have lived for himself - he lived his way. There are many who decide that they don't have to subject themselves to categorisations as accorded by society - the religious badges have begun withering away with many classifying themselves as agnostic, which, for me seems to be "I dont know, I dont care and it's none of your business"

This brilliant piece for Ghosh, who died last week, written by my friend, says a lot about the man. He created for himself at times, they were parts of human life which were easily glossed over. He looks (looked) weird - may be a man, may be a woman - but the point is, does it matter?


To end, it is difficult enough to tolerate much of what is thrown at us. There is no need to torture oneself by ignoring the choices that we indeed have. There are things which are beyond us and there are things which are very much within our locus of control. Had written about this 3 years ago.

And on that note. I shall eat some meat.

Thursday, April 25, 2013

The glory of travel.

It has only been 3-4 years old for me - my thrill of traveling.
Many of my stories are unknown to others - isn't that just brilliant. In these tech-know-everything times, to have secrets; not dark secrets but glorious gems hidden away in your mind and in your diary.

A brilliant article about the glory of travel

Sunday, April 14, 2013

What if we all died at forty?

A thought-provoking post on Marginal Revolution.

Death has always been intriguing.
People believe that they will continue living and they will continue remaining healthy; and then we throw a spanner (pile) in the works. Bam!
It's over.

Hence, what if everyone started living as though they would die at 60?

Would people become more innovative at work?
Would people spend more?
Marry earlier and produce offspring earlier?
Travel more?
Quit people and work more easily?

We earn money under the pretext that we will have enough money after retirement - hmmmm.
Oddly, nobody can see themselves at 60 when they are 30.

Shouldn't we all be living as though there are only a few days/ weeks/ months left?

Sunday, March 31, 2013

Climate Change

So, how often do 28000 rivers go missing?
It seems to have happened in China

And, with 9 million people to bury every year, China is running out of space in their cities for burials. Duh.

And India is not alone in its annoying superstitions; apparently, an old Chinese custom declares that a dead woman should get married to a deceased bachelor.

Amazing eh. 

Thursday, March 21, 2013

Dutt to Jail

Funny that this blog is called 'khadda' which means hole. Modeled after Galt's Gulch.

Yesterday, Sanjay Dutt was sentenced to completing his 5 years in jail for possession of an AK47 blah blah. Indians know the story - kinda. This is today's article - very thought-provoking view of how one ought to think of what happened to the man.
The story is simple - he used to be a wild child who loved guns and drugs. Of course, I am saying this based on what I have read which often is garnished with a lot of rubbish.

The points are:
Luck is a strong force; many celebrities and powerful people have gotten away with worse.

A bad decision can haunt you forever. Quite often, what these biggies say is that , 'hey, now we have changed ... sorry for what happened.' Which is quite the conundrum eh?

How do you repent the things you have done?
What is the cost of a life?
How strong is money really?

Wednesday, March 20, 2013

Pitiful

This song by The Kings of Leon is one of my favourites by them:

But everybody says this place is beautiful
And you'd be so crazy to say goodbye
But everything's the same, this town is pitiful
And I'll be gettin' out as soon as I can fly

It's the story of our lives in India :P
We live in the city in which we grew up; off late this trend is changing because work takes Indians to another city and they move there.
Bombay-ites love Bombay, largely because of inertia. They become comfortable with their friends, neighbourhoods and the functionality of the system.
At the thought of moving to a city like Pune or Bangalore (let alone Hong Kong), the conversation is like the 4 lines of the song mentioned above. 

It's not easy to leave a city like Bombay which provides some of the things we like having around - this could be a pub, a good restaurant, egg bhurji at 11pm on the road, taking a train to churchgate and of course, our friends - which makes me wonder, could it really be a product of our grooming?

The Indian social setting is based on friends and family; inevitably, people get married and then they are stuck. I don't mean it in the derogatory sense, (but all married people look similar into their 30s) I just believe that people get stuck with the concept of family and friends - there is a strong sense of attachment and duties and how things ought to be.

A friend recently told me that what the urban Indian yuppies want nowadays is easy money, a good social setting, a sexy wife (or husband) and home cooked food available at will (just like it was when living with the parents); they want to move out and create their homes the way they want it but want to live near the parents, they want to travel the world but can't imagine being away for too long. 
The West has spoilt us with choices I think. 

I don't understand the concept of marriage and I hate being tied down. Compromises are OK, but not when stretched to an extent where it changes the fibre of who I am. I don't like loud people, I don't like taking pictures of a monument, I hate traffic, I love my space, I love open spaces and I enjoy good company. I love the mountains and I enjoy my fair share of nature. I like new foods and new drinks and new people.
I don't understand what marriage or a relationship has to do with 'stability' or an anchored physical location to live at.

All these thoughts are spewing forth because of a dear friend (who I miss terribly - and that I mean) left her home country and work city and moved to another country which is culturally similar and moved in with her boyfriend.

Digression: I think live-in relationships are the way things should be. It gets rid of the legal and societal hassles (and burden) that come with a marriage. 

So, she moved in with this dude she hasn't known for too long but long enough (the time, I mean). She quit her job and is studying for an exam and praytell, what is wrong with that? Moving to another city is not a life changer - it could be a simple temporary move, one can just take it as it comes. Indians care too much about how others see them (don't roll your eyes, I know it is true) and the new Indians like to live life as though they are self-centered, but the truth is that they are torn between these dichotomous strains. 

So hey, as I had mentioned earlier and as the Beatles said, life is very short and there's no tiiiiiiiiiiiiiiime for fussing and fighting my friend.
This town is pitiful, and I'll be gettin' out as soon as I can.

Until then, let the beer flow.

P.S. I crave Korean Food.

Monday, March 18, 2013

The power of media

Something is changing in the world and we are not noticing it.
The speed with which information is now shared makes lemming behaviour come to the fore.

A good article here about how 1 photo went kinda viral on the net and nobody knew who shot it, where it was shot or when. And eventually, the truth surfaced.
But by then, everybody 'knew' where it was from and didn't care about the correction.

This kind of behaviour is all-pervasive now - we talk about things nonchalantly and care lesser about the things that matter. The need to be heard is becoming all the more important, which shows itself in the need for facebook, facebook stalking, blogging, twitter-ing (or as is called - tweeting), whatsapp chats and group chats.

The first time it happened was during the age of hotmail - the first few years of free email - when people loved sending forwards and exchanging trivial information.

Oddly, the need to be connected is now so strong that stronger, more wholesome relationships are breaking down in favour of shallow, short-lived relations.

We live in interesting times. 

Thoughts

Mortality must've hit you right? Instead of seeing yourself dying at 70, you see yourself dying 5 minutes from now.

Don't know why people believe in living for others, because living for oneself ought to come first eh? The Indian society is structured in a way that the family and the community comes at the expense of the self and now the new yuppie indians want the best of both - they want mummy's love and they want a super sexy wife.

Why hasn't euthanasia been legalised yet?

Why don't we have good sanitation for the general public - is it really that expensive if property rates can be easily north of INR 5000 / 20000 per sq ft.?

Why do you work for INR 100k per month if you have free family wealth of INR 5 Cr?


Monday, March 11, 2013

Building demolition

Now isn't this awesome. Plain awesome.

The Japs have created a way (someone else?) to demolish a building with lesser noise, more cleanly and much more beautifully.

Thursday, March 7, 2013

Farooque Shaikh

My friend's post about her meeting with Farooque Shaikh.

Loved it - people get blinded by the pursuit and eventually start tripping on it.
It's important to take a step back and take it all in, see things in a simpler light and slow down just a tad.

Tuesday, March 5, 2013

To be Indian?

Interesting article, would also call it nice.

When did religion become so important?
And oddly more people around the world are agnostic or atheist than ever before (after religion had spread its tentacles) I think.

"As a female Muslim atheist, this is the kind of society I want to live in. And I don’t want to have to cross the seven seas for a little bit of respect. I want it here, in this country I love despite itself, and from people I love, regardless of their beliefs."

I do get tired of this country's nonchalance, nepotism, bureaucracy, and zero-sum policies (political, legal and social). 

Monday, March 4, 2013

Travel now.

I like my dentist. For one, he is really good and secondly, he loves traveling.
The second reason is a good one eh?

He looks like a normal old-ish Maharashtrian gent but last year he was in NZ and this year he is going to go Cambodia.

Anyway, he said today, as he has said before, "one should travel as much as possible, only so much that you can save money, and when you save it, you start worrying about investing and losing and taxes and thievery. What's the point re? And travel young, it's difficult when you're older - but oddly, you have more to spend when you are older."

When young people travel 'too much', they are branded as careless, hippies or loafers, unambitious, ingrates - and when old people travel, they are called cute.

Fk this all. Traveling is happening babay. Travel I shall.

Olive Ridley. Patagonia. Mountains. Forests. Antarctica. Mountain lodge. Good food. Good sex. Good health. 

Monday, February 25, 2013

Asexuality

So, House: Season 8 Ep 9
There is an asexual couple - not celibate, because celibacy is a choice - and House, of course, is intrigued. He bets 100 bucks with Wilson that he will prove that the patient is not asexual.
And of course, he does. The guy was asexual because of a tumour, blah blah which interfered with his libido and his member's ability to sit up - and his loving girlfriend, and then wife said that she too is asexual.
All's well that ends well huh...

Wilson: "I think they were happy, even if it was based on lies..."
House: "Most happiness is."

However, the episode was more interesting because of a patient who had Alzhiemer's. His wife takes care of him and is emotionally attracted to another guy, which makes sense, but she continues with the marriage - may be out of duty, may be out of love, who knows...

Anyway, towards the end, she says that she has had enough. And yes, one would right? What's the point of taking after someone who reboots his memory every 15 minutes or 1 hour and barely remembers you? And what if you can't form lasting memories with that person? Why should one be stuck to another just because of a religious custom, social dogma or a legal shackle?


Monday, January 28, 2013

Turn

It is a gift - a mind that thinks and questions. As I walked into that gargantuan marriage function after a train ride, I couldn't help but wonder if the 1000 odd people there actually cared for the married couple. I'm pretty sure they didn't. I disdain this show, this farce, this parade for the benefit of an ogling audience which munches on copious amounts of digestibles. I wore a simple kurta and jeans and I saw people uncomfortable in tight clothes of western origin - I smirked as the wind found its way up my kurta and de-stressed me. A few pleasantries exchanged and luckily I met my childhood friend who was getting married; customs dictate that I wait by and get a photo clicked with him and his wife. Luckily, I didn't care for that. He saw me and I had come there because he was a nice childhood friend, who after years away still took the effort to invite me to his marriage functions. I am sentimental (and mental) and I do these things. I hold on to simple memories and I like keeping my word.
I walked out and decided to walk to the station, through people on the pavements, people huddled around a fire, a naked child and the filth of Mumbai metres away from a lavish spread of people. I sang a little song at my lips, crossed the street and found my way back home.
I had accepted a certain fact - that I was going to be stuck here, but something seems to have changed. It may be momentary but my longing mind reaches out to the years ahead and hopes against logic.

Wednesday, January 23, 2013

Walking

Sickness can change people. Yesterday, I got out at night for a drive and a walk. Jaundice had kept me away from wonderful Mumbai winter nights and yesterday I pushed myself to get out.
As I walked near my school I thought of all the poor rich souls cooped up in their beautiful homes, tired after a long day at work and an even more tiring back home and I thought to myself - what is it worth if you can't get out at night for a peaceful walk?

What do I think of? Nothing really... times gone by, times ahead, changes in my life and how the moon looks in the dead of the night.

We need the simple things - chai, walks, good food, good rest, good work, good growth AND good health.

Friday, January 18, 2013

Avoiding the Mistakes

Humans are fallible and that makes us special because we can reason.

I'm watching Lance Armstrong's interview with Oprah Winfrey - and he said that, look... I've made mistakes, we all do...
Lance said that the word 'cheat' is for people who gain an unfair advantage over others. Based on that, he was not a cheat, he was playing on a leveled field... this is what he said.
To which Oprah said, but you are Lance Armstrong - you are held to a higher standard.

Isn't that unfair? Just because somebody is more popular, he/ she is not allowed to 'cheat'.
It's an interesting conundrum...

And this goes to the effects of popular behaviour... when many people do a 'something', does it become acceptable behaviour?
The broken windows theory - a run down house has its windows intact for a long time until one day, somebody comes by and throws a stone, breaks a window and walks away... Over time, as other people see the broken window, they believe it's OK to break more windows for fun. Eventually, all windows are broken.

We use this in our lives everyday.
Well, that guy just threw plastic on the street - I guess it's OK to do so.
My uncle told me that only fools pay full taxes - hell! I ain't gonna pay up...

We use reason from time to time and say that, 'Well, it's wrong to do so and so...But... just this once."
We succumb to group behaviour.
People are docile when alone and in groups, they can wreak havoc - think gang rapes, looting, rioting, protesting.



We play a game in our lives where we battle with elements much bigger than ourselves - based on that, it is difficult to win; the best that most can do is to avoid mistakes.

The slippery slope - we are all prey to it. We find ways to justify unacceptable behaviour; it may be unacceptable by your mind, your body, by the people around you or by some other barometers.

'Just this once, I am going to cheat on my diet" And there we go... we make it a habit.
Not paying taxes is acceptable behaviour justified easily by saying that the government does barely anything for us. It's as though we take a democracy for granted. Look it countries in Africa, look at Pakistan, Nepal, Bangladesh, Myanmar, Sri Lanka - most of our neighbours - many other countries. We have had a 60+ year democracy without military rule - that is an amazing fact. Very few countries make it.
The slippery slope is difficult to avoid.
We make a habit of exaggerations, white lies, falsifying data, self-adulation.

Humans are fallible and that makes us special because we can reason.
Sadly, most people stop reasoning. It's just too hard.

Angry people become stubborn. They create irrefutable arguments. They make their own decisions which may not make sense. They go through with them because ego rears its ugly head.

Avoid the mistakes.
Stay away from negative influences and use a rational head.
Keep a diary.
Question the norm.
Done. 

Friday, December 14, 2012

Crying


Odd that as I was listening to Kumar Gandharv, I stumbled across an article on another case of mass shootings in Connecticut

A friend wrote this on her facebook wall: "How many more innocent deaths before the gun laws change in the US?? Isn't it about time?"

Don't know how gun laws are so ridiculous in that country - may be it has to do with the Wild Wild West days and the fragmented original states of America.

About time these laws are amended.
One of the most severe (and very few) drawbacks of living in the US

Friday, December 7, 2012

Let Go

With my eyes shut, I have heard myself saying these 2 words quite often lately...
Things have changed and I can't accept one particular change - and that's a good thing.
Heady times tell me to let go
All that once was, is not anymore
And all that is will soon be gone.
It is the law.
I remind myself of the fragility of all that surrounds me
And if this may seem flighty, it isn't
It is the law
I may go hungry
I will grow old
I will lose my abilities
I will disappoint
But when the dust settles, the few stars in my sky will remain
Or so I believe
There is nothing that is hidden here
Read again.

Monday, December 3, 2012

The Smelly Socks

We finished it with chai, emu, eggs, bread (paav), and bun-maska!
The 1st Red Bull Soap Box race in India, held in Mumbai.

The event was horribly organised but it all ended well on a historic 2nd December, 2012. The Smelly Socks rode down the Mount Mary hill curves and ended with 3 functional tyres and a tired Po - the Kung Fu Panda.

It was interesting how I managed to mumble some words to the superhot VJ Ramona before sitting in our car which had been built almost single-handedly by one of our team-mates. He is 50 years old but younger than most 26 year olds I know. Awe-inspiring bugger.
I rolled down the steep ramp in our car and as soon as I hit the road I veered off-track and into the haystacks; banged my head on the steering control - a severe bump right above my left eye!!
What ensued was a ripped front portion of our car, my teammates pushing my car along, hollering some mumblings, lifting the car up at the turns because of our poor turning radius - in fact, I lifted the car up by myself at one such turn!! It ended with me doing the flintstones drive with my legs powering the car towards the end :D

Some things are inexplicable. I don't know why the rod didn't hit my eye. I don't know how we managed to change the hard plastic cap for a soft cushion wrapped in paper - the very portion that hit my head (I think).

Am alive and I loved it. The 1st ever such race to be held in India and my teammates made it possible for me to roll downhill in our contraption. Tired. 

Wednesday, November 14, 2012

Kote

"So convenient a thing it is to be a reasonable creature, since it enables one to find or make a reason for everything one has a mind to do."
Benjamin Franklin

Wednesday, October 31, 2012

Janta

Finally found my way to Janta ! A homely, no frills, good food, cheap alcohol bar in Bandra. Don't know how I had managed to avoid it for so long...
Anyway... big shout to A, N, S and S - three of them were new folks A and I met there; 1 was from Coimbatore/ London and the other 2 were from Bangalore. Fun people. Relaxed, easy to converse with and just plain fun. No baggage in public. Need more of those kind in Mumbai. Daym.

Indian aggression

An article in Bloomberg Businessweek - Scaring India to Save it - talks about behavioral psychology and its use at the Mumbai local train stations.
What caught my attention was this:

"They say that many antisocial behaviors in India can be traced to generations of scarcity—of resources and opportunities—and what they call an empathy gap. “We have this idea that whatever little space I get, whatever little opportunity comes my way, I need to make the most of it rather than giving it away, because for the longest time we’ve been used to limited resources,” Prasad says. This fear of scarcity contributes to the inconsiderate driving, line cutting, and pushing and shoving to board trains and buses before they’ve come to a complete stop that characterize any Mumbai commute."

Indians, I believe, tend to be quite aggressive. We become easily agitated in discussions, we like domineering, our answers to most issues tend to revolve around "finding an alternative route" instead of solving the issue.

The paperwork that is required to operate a small business just kills energy - annihilates it. In addition to that there are rounds of backs and forths just to get things done. Why cant I change my electricity provider online? Why is there so little delegation of work? Why do people drive the way they do? What can one do if there as an errant parker on the road? In general, I find it astonishing that people refuse to solve problems - they grow bitter, angrier and eventually fume at not having taken the appropriate steps.

Just yesterday, I was appalled at a decision by a friend to opt for a longer, tedious route compared to a quicker, effective, albeit costlier route. He would not have behaved the same way if the more complex route was the only option. Makes one think of what options really mean... especially when they come gradually instead of abruptly - think of a INR 2 rupee increase in petrol prices each year as opposed to sudden moves.



Friday, October 26, 2012

Reputation

There is a lot to learn from reading books... Charlie Munger finds it difficult to learn from other people through conversations when compared to reading what they write.
Imagine, if you had the chance to learn from somebody who has lived a long life and that too, an exemplary one. Now imagine, if there were 2 of them.
Buffett and Munger. There is a lot to learn through what they write and say and through the books and people that have influenced them.

There was a guy named David Sokol who was considered by many as CEO designate of Berkshire Hathaway and boom! He bought some Lubrizol shares before he pitched the idea to Berkshire, and subsequently, Berkshire bought Lubrizol. Odds are that Sokol didn't mean to front-run because he made an estimated USD 3 Mn on them, which, for sure was not that much for him; odds are that he didn't think much about his purchases before pitching the idea.

Not a shred of reputation will be tarnished. Not a shred. And hence, Sokol had to leave Berkshire. WB must have been more unhappy than other shareholders, but something that is mildly wrong is still wrong.

Never do anything - anything that can ruin your reputation or keep you up at night. That's it. And you live a wonderful life.

A similar thing seems to have happened to Rajat Gupta; based on the overwhelming praise he has received from outstanding global personalities and also based on what the judge said - Rajat seems to have done a lot of good stuff. But he bragged - may be unmindfully... there was precious little for him to have earned by talking to Rajaratnam or whoever, but he made a mistake.
And the US is brilliant at setting standards. Nobody is above the law. We like you, you are a good guy, but you did a wrong thing - behind bars you go.

It makes me think of the fragility of life and how much we take for granted. We lie at times without thinking much about it, we evade taxes, we bribe, because it's a way of life, but is it?

Addendum:
I just went through 2 official documents about Sokol, Lubrizol and Buffett. Here and Here.
There is nothing 'financial' about this, hence this post is on the Khadda.
I like what Munger said:


"Charlie Munger: I think it's generally a mistake to assume that rationality is going to
be perfect even in very able people. We prove that pretty well regularly.
WARREN BUFFETT: Do you have any explanation for the irrational?
CHARLIE MUNGER: Yeah. I think hubris contributes to it."

It's amazing - the kind of things that lead people astray; is it really worth it?

Monday, October 22, 2012

Saturday, October 20, 2012

Running, Brains and Evolution

An intensely engrossing talk. Do read it.
People are suffering from fallen arches on their feet (flat foot?), lower back pain. Brains are the largest consumers of energy in a typical urban body. We can't climb trees! We are lousy primates. We wear shoes and land on our heels which is actually bad for our posture and our health...
Truly fascinating.

Makes me wonder about how human eyes will develop based on its new need for reading / watching TV. Also makes me wonder if we will keep becoming weaker creatures over time. What good is hair any more? We don't venture out in the sun. We wear a hat or a hoodie or a car over our heads! No wonder people are going bald younger...

Graham

"Money won't make any difference to you and me, Warren. We'll be the same. Our wives will just live better."
Benjamin Graham - Lowe

Monday, October 15, 2012

Why so serious?

A few days ago, I was sitting with a couple of friends late into the night at a coffee shop. Prior to that we were at a pub. They made a plan to go drinking next week and I said, "Will come if I'm alive."
At the coffee shop, we were speaking of a soap box race and me as the designated driver; I said, "Damn... that would be a cool way to die."

To this, my friend asked me why I was so obsessed with death.
For one, it's a certainty - there is no getting around it.
Secondly, when one has few expectations from life, the need for psychiatrists goes down!
Thirdly, it keeps me on my toes all the time which also makes me unwilling to compromise on the quality of my life.

May be this very characteristic about me suits my profession.
Wonly twendy fyyeee eye syay!!

Friday, October 12, 2012

Sam Walton

"I solemnly promise and declare that everytime a customer comes within ten feet of me, I will smile, look him in the eye, and greet him. So help me Sam."
- Sam Walton, Made in America

Tuesday, October 9, 2012

Monday, October 8, 2012

Honestly!!

From Farnam Street - A refreshing video and a fascinating idea.
A Little Bit of Dishonesty.

Sunday, October 7, 2012

Ratan Tata

History is beautiful, especially when it is one's own.
This video of Ratan Tata's formative years at Cornell is deeply sentimental; his love for cars and for planes; the stories about his times with his friends, his disdain for cold weather, him trying to land a small plane at JFK airport and in general, everybody's fond memories of those times.
Sure, the bad stuff would be edited out or left out - but what it must be to look back at the 1950s and say, damn, I've come far!

"Don't slam the door!!!"
A great story in the video is the time when the engine stalled and Ratan had to go for a forced landing! :D

The last 8 minutes of the video are exemplary - praise after praise for Ratan's humility and demeanour. What more could one want from life? To forge lasting relations with people, to enjoy life and do justice for the society around you.

"His way of saying goodbye was, 'Tata'" :D

I hope that his reputation is never tarnished because he is one Indian that most Indians tend to admire. Unmarried, lives with his 2 dogs - German shepherds, humble, soft-spoken, true grit and deeply in love with what the family name stands for.



Friday, October 5, 2012

The Snowball

"He (Stan Lipsey) stayed in the hotel that Buffett recommended and ate at Buffett's favorite steakhouse - and was baffled at how Buffett could stand either one of them."


Thursday, September 27, 2012

Sailing away

I have begun reading this book called "The Zurich Axioms", seems to be a wonderful read about living a life, speculating and being un-Indian.
Recently, I completed reading this book called Civilization by Niall Ferguson and I thought to myself, "Why, when Europeans and Chinese kept over-reaching and doing extraordinary stuff with innovation and the like, did Indians not do anything worthwhile on the global scene?" We never sailed far away, we never craved to conquer other countries, our economic might through our spices and agriculture was only for the East India Company's benefit.

In India, one community does stand out for its chutzpah and that is the Patels of Gujarat. They have always been the ones up for an adventure and that is why they are found all over the world.

Going back to history and to the Zurich Axioms, the book says that Switzerland succeeded because of its knack for adventure and speculation - I don't know if that is true but it is truly an interesting way to live a life.
When I think of Indians, I think of the following words:

Society
Compromise
Peace
Contentment

Indian culture has been predominantly influenced by Hinduism and not by Islam, may be because Islam is a relatively new religion in India, and Indian Muslims are Indians at heart (or so I want to believe). I am not against any religion!!! I am against idiots ;)

Going on, Hinduism - if one looks at the Gita - stresses on doing what should be done. There is no urgency in any of our historical texts/ myths. The concept of meditation stresses on attaining peace. Only society allows an individual to be safe from external aggressive forces. Hinduism also stresses on striving to escape the cycles of birth and re-birth. The concept of Karma has been misconstrued to doing 'good' and avoiding doing 'bad'.
All of this meant that there was no need to do anything new and independent. It also meant that it makes sense to live life with the primary motive of attaining peace.


All of this still influences the India of the 21st century.
We care too much for what the society thinks of us, and how much money we have for later in life and how producing little human beings is imperative for continuation of 'the family name'.
Of course, by now we dont care about how dirty we make our community, because we only care about our own houses - but this is a topic that it quite futile to cover.

Ah, India. We are complex, no? Yes, no?

Monday, September 24, 2012

Compromise

Yesterday, I was speaking with my Mom about how my generation is so different (on the topic of marriage and relationships); there was a time when people adjusted and compromised.
My mother's take was that it was out of respect for the elders and for the society. I refuted that claim; I said that it was more because there was no individualism, there were no choices. If your father told you to travel 20 kms to do something, you couldn't say, "Hey, I have this and this to do... please send somebody else for this menial task."

This lack of choices influenced a person's behaviour when married. Divorce was a no-no. Fighting was a no-no. Pizza was not allowed. There was no TV. There were no eligible hotties to tempt one.

My mother said then that today's people don't like to compromise. And I agreed. My mother said that it is important to compromise. And I agreed. And I framed a hypothetical situation:

Your (My mother's) daughter is 25 years old and gets married to a 25 year old guy. What should she do if, at the age of 30 the guy meets with an accident, becomes impotent and loses both his hands?
Another question in my mind is: What if, at the age of 30 she finds out that he is cheating on her? Regularly.

The answer, I believe, would be vastly different between:
the 1970s and the 2010s
one's own child and another's child
one's own plight and another's plight
a guy and a girl
a young married person and an old married person

Bharat believes in compromises. For the benefit of the whole. For the peace that goes with one's reputation and standing in society.
India believes in opportunities. India wants to do new things and doesn't want to adjust.
Life is now about taking chances and standing up for oneself, even though it may be at the cost of societal standing or parental disapproval.

Do read this story from Satangel's Review. It influenced this post.

Wednesday, September 5, 2012

Fortune 500 in 2030

I like Doghouse because they/ he tend(s) to make unconventional and slightly outrageous, although at times, inane comics.
But this one takes the cake!! (for this week at least) - had to repost it.


Haaaa!!! And I love the revenue and profit numbers
And the fact that Berkshire and Exxon Mobil are gonna stay there!

Friday, August 31, 2012

Solitude

Oh, I love being alone. Only with other people around.

Monday, August 27, 2012

You boy!!

"Oh my! I have never seen a man laughing as much as you do"... "You must be keeping her very happy!!"...
My friend and I debated whether the boisterous aunty was Punjabi or... well.. guess, she had to be Punjabi. Her daughter was clearly embarrassed with her mother's loud persona at the store - she quietly asked us to leave while we still had the chance. There I started laughing again, much to the delight of the Punju aunty.
I turned to my friend, "Wow... aise logg kahan miltey hai!!??"
She managed to turn an OK day into a good day :)

Activity makes one believe in one's worth. When I tell my friends that all I do is read in my office, many snicker and quietly wonder if I do any work... This topic has been broached before but the essence is that somebody running around while working at a McDonald's would seem to be doing more 'work' than a writer. Against this backdrop, I see around me that people often find it unnerving to be in a public place, alone and useless. And this feeling has been exacerbated by mobile devices (which are often used to cover up times of vulnerability and loneliness and uselessness).
May be that is why meditating, aka sitting still and breathing, is rewarding.
More people ought to try it.

Tuesday, August 7, 2012

Who will cry when you die?

When I was dying, I wondered whether or not I was loved. But then, oddly, I thought of who I loved. Do you know who I thought of? I thought of her. Chitrangada Singh.
Ha.
But well, I do believe that it's really irrelevant because once you die, you are, well, dead; so it doesn't really matter who thinks of you in a kind or an unkind way. And yet it does. It does because the alive when thinking of their death like to think of pleasant things and yes, it is warranted.
I am certain that people will cry when I die and even years after I'm dead - but does that show who I am  and what I have done or does it show who they are and how well they thought of me? I believe it is the latter.


Monday, August 6, 2012

Boxes

A painter paints, a farmer farms, a singer sings.
A human being in the 21st century works and manages to live.
We like compartmentalising. I like that word by the way... compartmentalise.
It is pervasive; humans like knowing what is to be done and at times are more comfortable being assigned tasks.

For example, what can one person be doing if on a vacation for 30 days? Odds are that by the 2nd week, the person will re-think the vacation and would want to go to familiar surroundings or watch a familiar movie or have a drink with a friend.
For example, a human would much rather believe in God and heaven and hell and karma that consciously, continually and strongly challenge it. The middle ground is agnosticism wherein there is no need for an answer - may be because 'just in case God exists, you don't wanna anger him!'

A similar analogy is the way a life ought to be lived. In India, marriage is not an option and children are not an option. Not so long ago, living away from the parents was not an option. Not so long ago, bias against blacks in the US was not an option. Not so long ago, accepting homosexuality - especially in the Christian world - was not an option. Non-commitment is still barely an option. Abstinence used to be an option but seems not to be any more.

Humans like rules and like believing that they can break them. At times, they like to break the rules. And at times, well... they should be broken. Sex before marriage. Polygamy. Green hair. Euthanasia. Capitalistic slavery. Prostitution. Tax evasion. Money laundering.

Leave a Mumbai-ite with some money, alone in New York city with USD 5000. He/She would have the freedom to do whatever provided he spends 4 weeks in the US. Odds are that he will get bored and will crave to fly back.
Make a human leave his job with the condition that he can't take up any other job but do give him more than enough money - I believe that he won't know what to do with the entire day. After all, how much can he travel, read, watch TV? 3 days? 7 days? 6 months - Ha.

We like knowing what to do because that allows us to break away once in a while and relish that break. The novelty of anything brings with it joy.

But what is the mindframe of a yogi? How does a philosopher live his life? How does a writer live her life? What if joy itself is a part of the construct may be just because he/she has had that option/ control in his/her hand? Does that change the impact of the compartment? Should that be an endeavour?



Saturday, July 28, 2012

India should not strive to become a superpower

"For very many years, the Indian experiment with nationhood and democracy was written off by Western observers. Indians were informed, through a series of premature obituaries, that our country was too diverse to be a single nation, and too poor to be run on democratic lines. To be sure, the nation was scarcely stable or secure – it lurched, as it were, from crisis to crisis, from riot to assassination to border conflict to open war. But somehow, India survived; somehow (and despite the Emergency) it even stayed democratic."


"But to fly from Bangalore to Delhi, and back, is literally to fl y over a serious challenge to the 
emergence of India as a global superpower. Obscured from the bird in the sky is the Naxalite insurgency in central India, which covers at least one-tenth of the country’s surface, and which has at its core the sufferings and discontent of tens of millions of tribal people."



"The challenge of the Naxalites; the insidious presence of the Hindutvawadis; the degradation of the once liberal and upright Centre; the increasing gap between the rich and the poor; the trivialisation of 
the media; the unsustainability, in an environmental sense, of present patterns of resource consumption; 
the instability and policy incoherence caused by multi-party coalition governments – these are seven 
reasons why India will not become a superpower. To this, so-to-speak objective judgment of the 
historian, I will now add the subjective desires of a citizen – which is that India should not even attempt 
to become a superpower."

These are excerpts from a fantastic Guha creation.
India is a mystery. It should not be a country - It should have been a continent comprised of many nations. It seems to me that there is nothing that binds us together except history.

"Back in 1948, doubts were also being cast about the Indian experiment with nationhood. Never before 
had a new nation not based its unity on a single language, religion, or common enemy. As an inclusive,
plural, and non-adversarial model of nationalism, the idea of India had no precedent or imitator."


The concept and practise of capitalism has changed human nature. It has made humans more useless, more shortsighted and oddly stupid in their real selves. Sure, it makes people create the LHC or discover the Higgs Boson or create skyscrapers or ships that fly to the ends of the Universe - but we have left the true animal behind. Somewhere, India was and still is a strong bastion of what it was to be human - Bhutan may still be there. The pursuit of excellence and a good life has been replaced with that for power and more. It is not the right path.
The urge to pee is greater than the urge to pray is greater than the urge to dominate.

Thursday, July 26, 2012

Do Nothing

Action Bias. It is a plague that has hit large swaths of humanity. The incessant need to do something. May be that's why I like walking alone because then I am not answerable to anything or anyone. Just like the time, recently, when I walked alone at this village in Ladakh called Stok and I stopped walking and I sat down for a half hour may be just because I wanted to.

An ad made me right this. I think it is write in the message it's trying to convey. Go nowhere. Do nothing.

It's your time
To waste time
Coz you'll never be young again
So go nowhere
And do nothing
Chat up the wind!
Kiss every frog
Stare at nothing
Waste more time
Coz you'll never be young again
Tick tock Tick tock Tick tock...
Waste away (Empty your head)
Float away...
Coz you'll never be young again...

There was a time not so long ago when people had time. It seems to me that people don't have time nowadays. Ok, will leave office at 6pm and go to gym and eat and watch TV and sleep. I will wake up early because it's the healthy thing to do, eat some food and watch a movie and go shopping and meet a friend and talk and talk...
What happened to not doing?


Thursday, June 21, 2012

Life and Ladakh

The fragility of life haunts me in a romantic way. I still think of my friend who died more than a month ago, and the way he died makes me really believe in the power of life and that which we don't cherish - life itself. Tsunami, earthquakes, car crash, an odd fall, a virus or a bacterium, a deranged human being, a missile from an unfriendly country - anything can hurt us and there is nothing we can do. I have written this way often and yet have not grown tired of it. Should I tell her that I love her? Should I tell him that he is awesome? Should I smile more often and be crazy for no reason? Should I breathe some pure air because I have the ability to? Is the process of earning money interfering with one's desire to live one's life? Can this be balanced? I can't eat Korean food once I'm dead, nor can I kiss a girl or drink some wonderful water.


In other news...once again, I am off to the mountains (This Sunday). I love them because they don't care.
And once again I must say goodbye in case I don't come back alive; it would be a wonderful way to leave existence - in the mountains. Am not ready of course, far from it :)
Have sustained an injury in my right knee but still going for a 4 day trek through Sham valley. After that, plan to live in a village away from Leh. Let's hope I make it through all of this.
PS I weigh 73 kilos. Shall let you guys know what the number stands at when (and if) I'm back.


Wednesday, June 13, 2012

Farrokh!

Somehow, I have managed to stay away from Queen for the last 25 odd years. I am happy now for I have found Freddie Dikra :d a.k.a. Freddie Mercury aka Farrokh Bulsara
The music, the lyrics, the insanity, the voice, the voice, the voice.

Dynamite with a laser beam
You say Shark, I say - Hey man! Jaws was never my scene and I don't like Star Wars!!
All I wanna do is... Bicycle!!
I dont have no time for no monkey business!!
200 degrees!! That's why they call me Mr. Fahrenheit!!

I have been a little insane about their songs - but I wonder what Queen would have been without Freddie.

Freddie!! Sing away in my head por favor!!



Monday, June 11, 2012

SHUT UP YOU IDIOT

Spoiler Alert.
The final season of House MD has ended. A fitting end. Am happy we did not have to deal with the misery of Wilson's death or House's imprisonment/ death/ suicide/ murder...
Am truly going to miss the show. My eyes were watery when the house burnt down on house and Wilson tried to run towards him.
I hope that some of the 'lessons' don't leave me - those related to being an ass, having fun, not believing people at face value, the value of relationships, but foremost may just be the fear of imprisonment - may it be through a physical injury, a mental illness, a prison, bearing with personal commitments or just living a woeful life.

Sunday, June 10, 2012

Kleptocracy

Yes, please look up the meaning of the term first. Kleptocracy.
Generally, I write about China on my other blog but I thought I should write here for a change. First, is this post by a very interesting man who lives in Australia and operates a very small short-focused hedge fund. The post talks about how the country is a little bit difficult to decipher. The one-child policy and the country's economic regime has created very unique behavioral patterns which ought to culminate towards a revolution.
Second, is this video which is a 40 minute interview of a guy who speaks of China becoming a mafia state. All plausible. 

Tuesday, May 22, 2012

House MD

Once again, House MD makes me right, yes, right, this post. Season eight is marvellous. Chase was stabbed and what ensued was classic House. House and Wilson share a wonderful relationship. Chase said, "He is the only one who can fix me". Something like that.
The frailty of that which we call life is astounding. Most of the times, good things happen and sometimes, bad things happen. There need not be a reason. Bad things happen.
I am undergoing physiotherapy for something odd with my left leg; the mere thought of not being able to walk is demoralising. The thought of being left alone is unnerving. And yet, that is the way life is deemed to serve us, or may be the other way around.
Often have I been called odd. I do see myself as a misfit and oddly, many people think so too about themselves. But I guess life is well-lived in one way - the individual way. I am reading the biography of Steve Jobs and the following part of the ad campaign which is now popular says a lot about who we, as humans, are supposed to be.


Here's To The Crazy Ones. The misfits. The rebels. The trouble-makers. The round pegs in thesquare holes. The ones who see things differently. They're not fond of rules, and they haveno respect for the status-quo. You can quote them, disagree with them, glorify, or vilify them.About the only thing you can't do is ignore them. Because they change things. They push thehuman race forward. And while some may see them as the crazy ones, we see genius.Because the people who are crazy enough to think they can change the world - are the ones who DO !

Going back to House, how does compassion change facts? Why are morals expected of people in a way that is deemed fit by the assessors? What good is a life lived in subjugation? It could be taken away anytime. 
Jobs had often said that he didn't expect himself to live long.

Monday, May 7, 2012

Yangry

For long have I skirted this issue... why do we lose our cool? And by we, I mean I. :)
Personally, I guess it has to do with being stuck in situations which are leading nowhere, which in turn cause frustration. This could have to do with a simple conversation with a strongly opinionated person who is not open to backing down from a conversation that is leading nowhere.
I also lose my cool when emotions and societal norms are mixed with logical/ correct or business-oriented decisions; that is to say when bureaucratic delays and known errors are caused through egos which can't be countered.
Sadly, I can't remember the last time I got really angry. I wonder if that's bad. I get frustrated, yes, but not downright angry.
I want to walk.

Wednesday, April 25, 2012

Seriously!

Was listening to the radio today... yes... radio still rocks!! Anyways... someone said... "I don't take myself too seriously; I see quite a few spiritual types who become very serious - that is when I get bored." I couldn't help but smile with fondness. Suits are dangerous and so are the people within. Life is a bit of a joke and it's best to dance your way through it. It is a bit of a jolt that I received in the last year regarding the importance of sincerity and the futility of seriousness.
And hence, quite a bit of my hair was coloured purple and may be why I mustered up the courage to sing regularly at karaoke and may be why I wear more colours on myself and may be why I decided to begin meditating on a regular basis and may be why I started paying attention to my fitness and may be why I love music at a different level now. The peeps are a little missing... but the peeps shall be found... here's to life y'all. Here's to life. 

Saturday, April 21, 2012

To Life

I spoke to a friend from Junior College yesterday and it took me back to those days. How I detest and love who I used to be... I still don't know why it took me such a long time to become comfortable with myself. I used to be insecure and now some people see me as quite self-assured; I believe I'm just a shadow of my past now. It frightens me when I think of how enjoyable life is right now but yes, the core of man's spirit comes from new experiences. Gosh, how I love my 'profession'. Very odd that be. Let the music flow. Cherish the alcohol. Stay away from boring people. Do new things. Look into the horizon. Pay due respect to the mice. 42. Always know where your towel is.

Sunday, April 8, 2012

Ben

So he died yesterday. This post is not with the intention of receiving comments or making a mark. May be it's just a reminder. Things happen which are outside our realm of control. I loved him for selfish reasons, but I loved him nonetheless. I hate that this happened.

Saturday, March 17, 2012

100 100

So I had to write about this. This will be one of the many 1000s of articles/ posts about Tendulkar's 100th century. Although a '100' is quite an arbitrary number, being human we consider it a milestone. If he had ended his career at 99 centuries, we would have longed for that one more.
For many Indians, cricket for the last half of the 90s and the 2000s was a lot about Sachin Tendulkar. This guy is five feet five inches tall and has been called one of the worst sledgers in cricketing history because of his uncounth stubbornness at the crease and his focused and composed demeanour. He has always let his cricket speak for him and cricket fans the world over hail him as the little master.
For me, it is emotional just seeing him play well. The way he removed his helmet, looked at his bat and then looked up - may be at his father - it made me want to cry a little. When India won the world cup, I was happy for him because he needed it for the country. I wonder what he feels everytime he does his country proud and when he knows that he is such a revered figure in this country. I remember his performance in the '96 world cup and in '98 in Sharjah. The younger population will never understand what it meant to us when we saw him unleashing the demon within and clobbering mighty bowlers with his mouth shut.
For me, he has been larger than the Indian team and he has been a face of India in many parts of the world. A 100 100s don't mean much, may be it is as good as 99 or 101 centuries. There have been so many times that he has been dismissed in the 90s, and he in fact holds the record for the most number of times dismissed in his 90s, largely due to his fantastic and long batting career.
I remember his slight stride with a the straight face of the bat at a 45 degree-ish angle off the vertical and the ball would go soaring away for a six. People would be perplexed with his technique and with his effortlessness. I remember how charged the atmosphere was in the Sharjah series when we had to attain a certain number of runs to qualify for the final. Am not sure why that series was so important but it is etched in my mind. 143 runs. Long live Sachin.

Tuesday, March 13, 2012

Fund

So I have started what can be termed as a proprietary fund and at times when I think back at what I have been through and what I am currently going through, especially the last 4-5 months, I feel fortunate for having access to such an opportunity. I already see myself developing in odd ways. However, the risks are difficult to comprehend.
As an employee, one's issues are competitive and seniority oriented. One looks forward to promotions, appreciation, beating another person in the team/ company, getting recognition from a senior but is never too worried because diligence tends to pay off.
As an owner and as a fund manager who is responsible for a corpus, everyday is an intellectual and mental struggle which is also very rewarding because of the freedom and control and lack of fear. However, the risks are such that I could not have comprehended them a year ago. Here I am, sitting on a corpus which needs to be invested, but I am slothy about it because it needs to be deployed qualitatively and carefully - not rapidly for the quick buck. The strain of sitting on cash is quite something. The strain of waiting for an investee company to perform is also difficult to adjust to because in a normal business, one is more in control of what is happening whereas here, one has to hope for the investee management to do good work. 

Monday, February 20, 2012

Lennon

John Lennon has his band of followers even today. I have loved him only because he was a part of the Beatles; for me the band was bigger than him. But once in a while, I have come across some of his (possible) quotes such as:

Life is what happens while you are busy making other plans.

“When I was 5 years old, my mother always told me that happiness was the key to life. When I went to school, they asked me what I wanted to be when I grew up. I wrote down ‘happy’. They told me I didn’t understand the assignment, and I told them they didn’t understand life.” 

Monday, February 13, 2012

My life

Nick Drake started singing and I wondered why I got his portrait made... and then I heard his voice and the truth he spoke - so I smiled. He sent my mind back to school and college; it seems like somebody else I am thinking of right now.
I remember my insecurities and I remember crying alone. I remember my clumsy gait and my pretenses. I remember my blind pursuits and being called strange. Most of my oddities are from Junior College times, the frugality, the search for who I was, the need to slightly impress those around me. One of the many crazy things I also remember: I never knew how to behave around people, I could never hear myself speak when people said I spoke to rapidly. I remember jumping from the window ledge to the corridor for no particular reason except may be to emulate someone else. I wondered (as I do now) why people behave the way they do. Odd things make me tick and surprisingly, that was the same then.

But I see myself today and I believe that I have become more shallow, much meaner and slightly cold. I have also gotten in touch with myself and I know that I strive to be immensely truthful. A friend asked me if I am different around different people... and I said that, a few years ago I would have said, 'Yes'; now, I say 'No'. I am quite the same around most people: a little lost, a little crazy, quite silent, an open book but immensely personal. My coldness stems from reality and the tiny issues I have with social customs - I usually mean well but can't seem to bother with niceties.

There was a time that I felt I was quite alone, in terms of how I am; now, I am quite sure there are many weirdos like me. Does it matter? May be. "I want to be unique! Everybody else is!!"

I may never understand the influence that music has had on my development, but I hear Nick's voice right now and I know he is beautiful. 

Wednesday, February 8, 2012

Hotel

I was at the Sahara Star yesterday, which is near the domestic airport terminal in Vile Parle East. Was dinnering with a friend and his wife -OMG this is insane!!! I now have friends who are married!!!! Insanity I say!!! This is madnesss!!! This is not Sparta!!!!

Anyway, we ate at Namak where they have some odd custom where they welcome people to eat with their hands. The servers were sub-par and slightly confused, although the hospitality was stupendous - the greeter made sure we sat down and took care of us until one of the servers could come by with menus and complimentary refreshments. So we had food there, which was nice and not excellent, but nice nonetheless.. loved the biryani :D

We then went around the circumference of the dome inside the hotel and made our way to the coffee lounge, and this is why I am writing this on my blog. We sit down at 1020 pm, the place is about the shut at 11 pm. Yes, there is a normal coffee shop at the lower level which, I believe, is open 24 hrs a day.
We sit down and are lusting after the pastries on display; I feel like having an espresso and the server says something odd. He says that there is a cover charge of INR 500 per person. I am utterly dumbfounded.
I ask him to ask a senior person if we can not pay that ridiculous amount because we had just finished dinner downstairs... The senior dude comes along and says that he is sorry, but it is a policy of the 'restaurant', but he did say that since the place is shutting soon, we were welcome to sit.
So I think, well, if we can sit, and we want to have a coffee and a pastry, why can't we order it? He says that we can, but it will be subject to the cover charge. Ludicrous.
So, we decide not to order anything.

What transpired above was rather ridiculous for a hotel as nice as the Sahara Star, especially because it was with paying guests of the hotel. A cover charge? Really? Some rules need to be bent. Yes.

Wednesday, January 25, 2012

Ruminating yet again

I attended a dear friend's marriage in Agra. It was cold, I was surrounded by his IITian batchmates and I was happy to be there. 
I saw J. Edgar and got a peek into the life of a person who changed the world in a not-so-insignificant way.
I saw Coriolanus and wondered what Ralph Fiennes is made of. Wonderful actor he is.
I heard Michael Buble for the first time and I heard the mischief of Sinatra in his music.
Advaita, the band, is going to create some truly amazing music in the years to come. I know it.
Max Chandra is in Chennai right now (as far as I know).
Unfaithful made me question the concept of sanity.
The Selfish Gene makes me question the nature of human beings, reaffirms my belief in the insignificance of it all and makes me smile at the thought of our pursuit of the natural us.
And here I am waiting, while I see multitudes of people passing me by.
Often, and without effort, I see people through another eye; as though I am an alien looking at the human population engaged in activity. It scares me when I see myself functioning this way; detached, unemotional and yet immensely sensitive. And even though I am consciously engaged, I am alone. I am not sad, just pensive yet crazy. 

Tuesday, January 10, 2012

Who are we?

I have written about this guy before, here, and luckily, I came across another article on him. More of an interview. The guy is nearing Chennai - please do read this interview/ article about Max Chandra and The One Step at a Time Foundation. I liked this:


"Do you miss anything?
I cannot say that I miss much. I miss intimacy - not sex - intimacy in holding hands, in a kiss, in a hug... I miss having a friend to talk to when I am suffering or when I am excited. I miss sharing moments."
May be this speaks a lot about who we really are. And somehow it is at conflict with who we are genetically supposed to be - food and sex should spur us on, but it is not the same anymore. We, as living beings, have changed.
__________________________________________________________________________


Moving from one charitable foundation to another initiative: CancerFights
I was at Pritvhi Cafe with my friend who had come down from the US and at the tea/ snacks counter I saw a familiar face. AP seemed shock to see me; we were seeing each other after school (10 years ago!) and what followed was a flurry of words about what we are doing and how life has been. I knew she had been on TV as a presenter on a business news channel and I also kinda knew that she was doing her PhD in finance. And then she drops a bomb - she was starting a charitable organisation/ foundation. I was taken aback because a person who has been on TV, professionally, and who is pursuing her PhD is not expected to do something as 'altruistic' as this. However, this post is not about her.  
This post started with Max and is now at AP. It amazes me that there are still some of us who are capable of doing this - leave the line, care less about the material, care less about accepted norms of progress. Who are we if not willing to do something meaningful? Odd that I just wrote about this very topic some days ago. When I read a bit of what CancerFights had on their site, it disturbed me because... I was there, back from a lazy day of work, the purpose of which is to potentially live life with a better temperament and improving rationality and knowledge along the way. I managed to quit my job and stay away from the family business and I believe I'm doing a great job with my life; I also believe that I will soon try to teach a case study oriented course to undergraduates who could really use such a non-rote course. I wasn't disturbed because I am 'not doing anything meaningful', I think I am on my way to doing worthwhile things; I was disturbed because I envy such people.
To walk for consciousness.
To work closely with cancer patients - the quality not the quantity.
Here's to living a meaningful life. Congratulations Max and AP.

Thursday, January 5, 2012

Why?

Zed.
So it's SE, LK and RS whom I quite miss. Am sure I wouldn't be able to tolerate them for too long but I can't most people. Oh, how easy it is to succumb to the lure of the material world and the fear of being penniless. SE asked me, "What is the purpose of life?". "To enjoy life to the maximum extent", I replied. And then I added, "Bearing in mind limitations such that the enjoyment can be sustained until the end." He frowned. Why? Zed.
So here I am, working out financial valuation in my odd way while listening to this new piece of alternative, folk Indian band, in my office which looks more like a studio. My head is spinning (is that English?) for I am contemplating the investment decision I have made. Monday shall be decision day.
What value am I adding to society by pursuing this career? Not sure. However, this career allows me free time to then participate in this society. Spanish classes for now, teaching is on the cards, so is travelling. I hope I can teach something that is case-study oriented to students - the shallowness of Indian education will ruin us as it has been for a while. Why? Zed.
Procrastination is evil. I should work on this soon!!!


Friday, December 30, 2011

Time

In Inception, the movie, we are introduced to the varying degrees of time based on the difference between the real world and the dream world. Similarly, it is interesting how humans tend to give credence to seconds, minutes or hours based on the nature of the activity. But usually, by the time a human being draws closer to his death, he remembers time in years and at times as bundles of years together. Each day with a girlfriend at the age of 24 is kinda remembered or cherished; which, by old age, becomes compressed into a statement. In the words of Juliet (from the song by the Killers), "O Romeo, yeah, you know I used to have a scene with him."

As humans we have calibrated time down to seconds, for most useful purposes. But the mountains don't care. I believe that they measure time in centuries or millenia. And the planets don't care. They may be seeing time in hundreds of thousands of years, may be even millions... and yet here we are, this intelligent species that crawls through time as ingrates continually succumbing to societal pressures and becoming more lethargic and less alive with each passing year.

A few people believe that I tend to talk about pessimistic or depressing stuff, but most of what I talk about tends towards hope and living. This year, 2011, is drawing to a close. I closed an important and ruinous chapter in my life. I have started an important phase - my office and my company - and I see an important chapter opening soon enough. 2011 has made me younger, healthier, more introspective, calmer and more adventurous. I hope that truth doesn't leave me, although I'm pretty sure that will be my undoing.

Thursday, December 8, 2011

Human Nature

The above title may be considered an oxymoron. The picture below is partially the reason why.


The low-hanging fruit were plucked by humans before the middle of the 20th century. Most of our recent advances have been innovation-related - nothing wrong with that. It seems to me that until the age of 21 or so, when people start working for money, humans are rather natural; they are animalistic and constantly developing. And suddenly, as soon as they are thrown into the 'corporate world', something in them dies. I spoke with RS recently about how work done as an employee is usually mechanical, whereas work done when self-employed or when leading a team is raw, fruitful and exciting. Another friend works for a consultancy, one of the best, and says that all he really does is get things sorted and pretty looking - the answer to a client's problem is quite straight-forward but this dogma of mechanical or process-oriented work is slowly chipping away at human ingenuity. I had written about this in an earlier post but I felt the need to elaborate here. The prevalence of 'financial firms' is disturbing because their contribution is minimal relative to their potential of ruining the way modern societies function. Why are more engineers moving into finance and consultancy? And why are scientific brains rotting away in non-research oriented fields? Where have the artists disappeared?

Tuesday, November 22, 2011

Struck by a nose

At the Laxmi Lawns next to Magarpatta City, Pune, I bumped into a cute girl. "Sorry 'bout that", I said, she turned and smiled. She took two steps and turned back at me, smiling, to see me smiling at her. That is the double take. Small things like this make life interesting.

I was there with a friend for a two day concert. The NH7 weekender concert, we went there for the Dewarists stage. Brilliant crowd with some very fine ladies. Brilliant music and a crazy atmosphere. Indian Ocean, The Raghu Dixit Project, Swarathma, Advaita (a new band we discovered), Papon and the East India Company (another new band!!! Banao is a hit!!!). Imogen Heap was there - she had collaborated with Vishal Dadlani on a new song.
The last day ended with many performers present on a new stage. Insane!!! A massive crowd with a DJ for a while, then Pentagram, then Raghu Ram (from Indian Ocean), Monica Dogra and Shaair joined in, so did Imogen. They mixed their sounds and their music - it was just happiness everywhere. People jumping and swaying and singing and shouting.

I remember lying down flat on the grass listening to music from 50 metres away and a guy comes up to me and asks, "Hey can I take your photo?" "Sure, do I need to keep my eyes open?" "No man, whatever you wanna do!" "Cool"

I went wild during Raghu, Indian Ocean and Papon. Hadn't danced (jumped/ moved wildly/ uncontrollably) like that for a long long time... I asked the girl in front of me for a cigarette. She obliged. I offered to take better snaps because she was short. A small conversation ensued. The music ended.

I walked and moved without care through a spattering of people, some on the grass, some in their groups. It was lovely. I was struck by a nose. Figuratively. Funny how that nose is still in my head. Figuratively. I think I have a thing for noses. Figuratively and, hmm, literally. Muahhahahahahaaaaaaa.

Life is good and the girls are gorgeous.

Thursday, November 17, 2011

Them that stare

LK and RS make me smile. Sadly, I can't meet them often and may be that is for the best - it leaves a sense of 'what's new?'.The way they make me smile is unlike how most others can; it has a hint of introspection and provocation.
Here I am in my office at the end of my first real week and already my time seems so qualitatively utilised. The discipline is still very lacking but that can be attained. I am reading the things I really wanted to and I absolutely enjoy this feeling! Sadly, envy is creeping in and Munger comes to my rescue :) He posited that envy is the worst of the 'seven deadly sins', because nothing good ever comes out of it - the same can't be said of sloth or gluttony.
Something is amiss with my personal life and I feel it gnawing at me; and then it strikes me - quicker and firmer than it used to - there is much time left and there are wonderful things to be done and luckily, this is the best of times.

"In sooth, I know not why I am so sad, it wearies me. But how I caught it, found it or came by it, what stuff 'tis made of - I am to learn."

Odd how I still remember this. 

Sunday, October 30, 2011

Lunacy

It's nice to be ridiculous. Don't nose what ziss cruel corporate world has done to me!!! I have become tame. I miss being crazy. Luckily, some friends and some 'stuff' bring out the nut in me :)

See, things like the picture above need some serious lunacy :) Had to post this post this post. Damn! It's like spelling B-A-N-A-N-A-N-A  Damn!!!!

Saturday, October 22, 2011

Menial, Useful

Fascinating things are happening. Occupy Wall Street for example. How is it that certain people are paid millions of dollars for work - work which is not really that amazing or productive? If Apple creates a revolutionary product and charges people good money, where they have the discretion of buying it, I believe it is more than acceptable. If an organisation jeopardises the financial system through leverage while paying its employees insane amounts of money for long and rather un-intelligent work, that is odd.

I am writing about this because I met a friend yesterday who quit her seemingly cushy job at GS India. She is probably quite intelligent but the work she did, as is in most investment banks, was quite mind-numbing - literally. I have worked at a small investment bank and even though I don't know what really goes on at the larger I-Banks, I do know that they employ an army of people who can work crazy hours at typically 'programmed' jobs. These 'Analysts' (please dont get me started on the first year, second year and third year analysts) and 'Associates' largely mine data and prepare documents. These documents may be for internal review, marketing or presentation purposes. They are paid wild amounts of money for the implied dedicated hours of work they will perform.
An example of disparity: A person working as a copywriter in an advertising agency may be paid INR 50K to 100K per month (I am being very optimistic here). A copywriter is a creative person and quite often he/ she will come up with interesting ideas/ concepts for advertisements or presentation. Real work that be.
An analyst at an investment bank usually prepares pitch books or public information booklets or financial models. According to me, this work is compilation of data in a more presentable format. And these guys are paid upwards of INR 150K per month.
Ridiculous this disparity be.

The reason I write about this is that I see many friends working at sad places and or sad profiles and or for sad money, but thus be life. With this, I go back to Europe. Appreciation for fashion, art, creation, life, outdoors, society and a lesser emphasis on materialistic pursuits. (Lesser not no).
The nature of work has changed drastically. Work used to be more immediate (Bake cookies, sell cookies) or (make steel, sell steel). The supply chain was shorter and life's conveniences were not many. I see that in India, the sheer abundance of people makes many employed people rather useless at their jobs. Tasks can be unbelievably menial.
And this goes out to those who know me. Let's do something really worthwhile with our lives. We should, for what else could life be worth?