Meeting Urban Sanyaasi

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Before this new found camaraderie goes the same way a lot of others have, I thought I should document my first thoughts. 

This is what happens to Twitter/Instagram friendships 

1) After 1-2 meetings, the conversation becomes repititive 

2) Beyond the initial common things you connected online about, there is nothing else in common

3) The conversation in real life does not flow as naturally as it does online 

4) The person is misogynistic or sexist or has other qualities which are non negotiable in my books

5) The chemistry you share online may not translate into real life. Connecting with someone in real life is very different from connecting with them online.

The problem with friendships today is that we meet for a specific purpose – for a meal or a movie or to do something else. We don’t spend time doing nothing or sharing silences together. 

When I called R yesterday, I realised this was the first time we were talking on the phone. I was going to meet someone I hadn’t even spoken to before. He invited me home for coffee because he is a coffee consultant and why go to a cafe when he can brew the best coffee.

 I was going to meet a stranger from the Internet whose hobby is nude photography at his house. I could read the next day’s headlines in the newspaper if he turned out to be a rapist. But my instincts are good when it comes to such situations and I told myself I would leave immediately if anything made me remotely uncomfortable. 

So we met and spent 2 hours talking which could have gone on for an inappropriate amount of time if he didn’t have prior commitments. The conversation flowed easily, there were no awkward pauses and I had a great time. Very rarely do I talk a lot. There are few people I can banter around and talk non stop and it feels good to find someone new to be able to do that with.

I asked him about his career, his hobby, his family and friends’ opinion on his hobby, about openly being a nude photographer in India and we discussed attitudes of Indians towards sex. 

I know we may never meet again or we may discover things about each other we dislike or there may be a conflict am not willing to resolve or the conversation may die a natural death but it was nice meeting someone whose life is so different from your own.

 I have recently added strangers to my Facebook friends list and taken them off the restricted list. All of them talk about interesting and different stuff. None of the usual baby/couple/family pics or lame forwards. 

All in all, an interesting trip and I can’t wait to go back to Mumbai and hit the gym. 

Fat, sick and nearly dead

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I watched part 1 and 2 of this documentary on Netflix recently.  It is about a fat guy, Joe, who goes on a juice diet for 60 days. He loses lots of weight, meets many people along the way, inspires a few to try the juicing diet, continues eating fruits and vegetables and working out and gets off all his medication.

I don’t agree with diets but some parts of the documentary made sense.

  • Juice diets are very difficult. They lead to a loss of energy initially and should be tried by those who can curb cravings. The documentary shows people who don’t eat healthy start off on juice diets. While I wouldn’t recommend it, staying away from fatty foods does reduce the cravings. There is one simple funda- the less you eat, the less you feel like eating and vice versa. I don’t miss pizza anymore and have it once every few months. The more desserts I eat, the more I crave for them. Jumping straight into a juice diet does give people the confidence that eating right isn’t all that difficult. 
  • Part 2 talks about how kids today influence their parents by forcing them to eat healthy. A friend had mentioned how her son is taught in school to eat healthy and refuses to eat junk food. 
  • There is a truck driver, Phil, who was one of the first people to start juicing and lose weight. 5 years and a divorce later, he has gained it all back. He has to start all over again but this time he decides to take help from the community. The support system is so important and a big reason why I go to a gym far away from home. I want to have access to the right kind of support. 
  • Most of the people go online for support. While I know many runners and trainers, I have a support community online too. Like, am constantly in touch with people for whom fitness is important. 
  • The first thing most people did was throw out junk food from their house and stop storing it within reach. This simple step can reduce junk eating by 80%. 

All in all, this is a good documentary and I can’t wait to go back to Mumbai and get back on the bandwagon. 

The Last Mughal : The fall of a dynasty, 1857 by William Dalrympyle

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I started this book, then moved to another one and decided to finish reading it. I think a friend recommended the author (not sure though) or maybe because so much of Delhi is courtesy of the Mughals that I picked up this book.

As the title mentions, the book is about Bahadur Shah Zafar, the last Mughal Emperor and talks about the revolt of 1857. I realised how little I knew about the Revolt of 1857. What I’ve read in my history textbooks is a condensed version. William Dalrymple fills in all the gaps and vividly describes the events. I could imagine the battle and my loyalties kept shifting between the ‘Rebels’ and the British. The book has more of first person account of the British because they have written about the events, kept notes and mentioned them in letters. The author had to connect the dots and try to figure out about what the Indians were doing and thinking.

My blood boils at the thought that people today malign Mughal Emperors who did more for Hindu Muslim unity than any other King. And how did we forgive the British so easily? They tried to raze the entire city of Delhi. Just the thought of that makes me want to discriminate against them.

This book is a must read if history interests you. I have been wondering what reading goals I should take up in 2017. Let me admit that reading 100 books is impossible. So, am going to read good books even if they are classics and am not reading any new authors. 

Ill and overworked 

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I just arrived home after a hectic day. KC could not believe it when I was in office at 10.30 pm since that is past my bedtime.

The plan for this week was to travel to A’bad, fly to Gurgaon, then to Indore and finally back to Mumbai. I had to postpone trip to A’bad because of a presentation to the top management next week. I, my colleague and a junior have to give the presentation. Since my manager wants us to give our own views, his involvement has been minimal. Last week we were at our wit’s end since we had no idea what needed to be done. But over the last few days we got clarity and work started. 

The best skill I have picked up in the last 3 years have been presentation skills. My ex manager has worked in advertising and is superb at PPTs. For me, a PPT started and ended with data. I would dig out as much data as I could, figure out what it was saying and then build a presentation. M taught me to do the reverse. He would ask me what story I want to tell. And then make me dig out data to back up the story. This required a huge change in mindset. 

The current PPT is the first I have made in my current role. Generally, all PPTs are made by the MIS executives but I decided not to use their help. I sat down and culled out all the data even though a person could have sent it by email. I wanted to spend so much time with the data so I have it on my fingertips. I also spent time in adding humour to the PPT and make it non boring. 

My manager is like a human computer. He does not use excel or a calculator unlike the rest of us. Every data point is on his fingertips. And he loves asking 10 questions at every slide or excel sheet. The biggest compliment was when he didn’t ask more than 5 questions because we had anticipated all the questions and answered them in advance. 

He asked me “Are you going to keep the slide this stark? Is this the only data you will show?” My reply was “Sir, I will only show data I want to talk about. The only story they are going to hear will be mine. I won’t give them more ammunition to ask questions. And I don’t want them to read the slides instead of listening to me”. These are the exact words M had said to me once.

Whether I get to present or not, whether the management is impressed or not, I am impressed with myself and the work I have put in. And am happy to have gained a useful skill. 

I have worked through a bad cough, first day of periods and a bad case of loose motions today and won’t have time to rest before next weekend. Good night. 

Things to do when you are ill

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  • Go to work where you are as productive as you can be
  • Travel to Surat because a distributor appointment and market work is more important than your health 
  • When you have to skip gym to go to the doc, finally take the next day off
  • Wake up late after a sleepless night of coughing 
  • Run errands 
  • Wash clothes
  • Draw the line at folding them and putting them away
  • Binge watch How to get away with murder
  • Eat leftovers for lunch
  • Buy groceries
  • Eat junk
  • Take panga with a professional troller on Twitter and spend hours giving it back to her army 
  • Read
  • Have soup
  • Turn down friend’s offer of hot chocolate and company 
  • Take a shower 
  • Blog

I suck at being ill, resting and doing nothing. Someone should tie me up and blindfold me. For once, it isn’t dirty talk. 

How to recruit

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There are 2 ways people in the corporate world recruit:

  • The logical way. Where you find someone who fits the requirements. No emotions attached. No favours done. Clean and professional.
  • Do favours and get people who will back you up, most of the times, at the cost of skills

Most people do the 2nd. The corporate involves a lot of politics and you need to have people backing you up all the way. And yet, I can’t do it. Recruitment is about getting the candidate who matches the requirements. I can’t be emotional about it. I just can’t. Maybe it will hurt me in the future but it is beyond me. I would never push for someone in a role where he/she cannot clear the interview without a push.

I was ill today and wanted to take the day off. But I couldn’t. In fact, I can’t take a day off before Saturday even if my productivity level is lower than normal. I just hope something good comes out of this.

Ciao. I need to sleep.


Bucket list – 2017

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Quickly penning down bucket list for 2017. It is a littl difficult to write this when I don’t know if I will spend the year in Mumbai or Gurgaon or somewhere else. Let me try though :

  1. Run 1000 km in 2017. I will run, not more than, 1 half marathon in a quarter. The focus will be on getting faster. Timing target for ADHM is 2 hrs 10 mins.
  2. Run in 10 different cities. I ran at Delhi, Gurgaon, Mumbai, Bangalore, Baroda, Ahmedabad, Singapore, Bandhavgarh, Karjat and Vizag in 2016.
  3. Get another course certification. Got TRX certification in 2016.
  4. Read 45 books in 2016. I will take the same reading challenge of 100 books in 2017 as well.
  5. Write everyday. Really, really want to do this.
  6. Go for a trek. Carried forward from pending goals of 2016.
  7. Curb on shopping. To start with, I won’t be shopping in this sale.
  8. Attend MAMI
  9. Watch more movies and documentaries
  10. List out fitness goals – a separate post on this
  11. Donate regularly. Have become a permanent donor with MSF. Add one more charity in 2017.
  12. Don’t cry in Mumbai
  13. Continue to maintain a work life balance
  14. Shift with KC – whether in Mumbai or Gurgaon (preferably, the latter)
  15. Have more sex (always on the list)
  16. Don’t while away office hours on social media
  17. Meet new people
  18. Don’t give a fuck about people unless they give a fuck about you
  19. Pick your battles at work
  20. Cook more
  21. Go off sugar
  22. Take a solo trip
  23. Trips to Jodhpur, Manali and Kaziranga national park
  24. Read all the books already purchased and languishing on the bookshelf
  25. Run at Sanjay Gandhi national park
  26. Cover all running routes in Mumbai
  27. Did a duothlon in 2016. Do a triathlon
  28. Start swimming
  29. Update CV
  30. Blog

New year resolution- to not kill myself in 2017

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Year end is a time to make lists. Stuff you did in 2016 and what you plan to do in 2017. But those are for people whose life did not change at all in the year and so they haven’t learned the lesson that you are not in control here. Life happens and all you can do is survive it to the best of your abilities.

Most of the times I know what am going to write but sometimes I start typing and thoughts just frame themselves. This is that kind of post. Sorry if I sound incoherent.

In 2017, I want to survive. I may have fun, I may not. I may have people around, I may not. I may do well professionally, I may not. I just want to survive.

I will hone my skills for survival. So I will run faster, get better at the gym, get closer to my ultimate fitness goal, will travel, will meet strangers on social media, will make time for loved ones, will do whatever I need to do for survival and not kill myself in 2017.

Life can throw up whatever it wants but I won’t let it break me.

I want to stay in 2016 because like Cinderella I need to leave this beautiful place and head to reality in 2017. I want time to slow down and crawl to the new year.



Why this trip is the most significant of all

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Our first road trip was to Bharatpur. I had a 2nd hand Zen for 3 years before that but was too afraid to take it on a long drive. Once we bought the new car, we started taking it for long drives 1-2 times a year. KC likes to travel comfortably and driving isn’t his idea of a good time while I don’t know anything about cars beyond driving them. 

We have wanted to drive on the hills for a long time but they seemed daunting. This trip to Dharamshala and Mcleodganj has been completely planned by KC and am a freeloader with no contribution. His only condition was that we would take a train. I agreed reluctantly but added that if the train tickets didn’t get confirmed, we would drive. As luck would have it, that is what happened and KC got the car tyres changed on Saturday in preparation for the long drive.

We halted at chandigarh for the night so the drive wasn’t too hectic. The plan is to drive back to Gurgaon tomorrow with a break at Chandigarh for lunch.

This opens a whole new world for our trips and we will be driving more frequently to hill stations in Himachal.

I am looking forward to them.

Dear Internet, we need to chat about Dangal

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I have deliberately stayed away from reading about Dangal because I wanted to watch it with an open mind. But some controversies have trickled in through Twitter, some discussions on feminism and how preachy Aamir’s character is in the movie.

I watched it with low expectations because Aamir does get preachy. Lagaan and Taare Zameen Par are my favourite flicks, other movies I can barely stand.

Thankfully, Dangal has surpassed all expectations and I loved every minute of it. So am not sure what the hell the Internet ranting about.

  1. Somebody complained that Aamir’s character pressurised his kids into following his dreams. Well, that is how athletes are made. Nobody is born with a dream or commitment and discipline. Someone else has the vision for you. He wouldn’t have been able to push his daughters beyond a certain point if they didn’t want it for themselves. They do come to that point.

  2. Feminism. Behind every successful woman is a person who pushed her there. It could be a tyrant father who chops their hair or a family who threatens to get their daughter married off if she doesn’t score well in her exams. Women of my generation didn’t get where we are on our own. We had a lot of help. We were pushed into standing up for ourselves. We were pushed into going beyond the normal. Maybe 10 years down the line, women will be able to make choices independently from what everyone wants them to do.

  3. Tyrant coach. All coaches are tyrants. The first trainer who asked me to do 100 squats is a tyrant. So is the one who wouldn’t let me stop in TRX class and ensured I completed each set. That is how athletes and champions are made. By a tyrant driving them.

  4. I loved the fact that the movie talked about how training has to be customised. Everyone is different and the training has to take into consideration each person’s strengths and weaknesses.

  5. Loved that Geeta won the finals on her own, without her father guiding her. The victory was hers. It would have been easy to show Aamir in the last scene coming to help her like a regular Bollywood movie. But Aamir graciously let Geeta shine.

  6. People have criticised Sakshi Tanwar’s character. Her staying home instead of travelling to see her daughter’s match has been criticised. The explanation is simple- finances. Who was going to fund the trip? Aamir was needed there else he wouldn’t have gone either. And I assume she was working and supporting Aamir while he was in Patiala/Delhi.

Dangal is perfect. There is no false note and nothing Bollywood-ish about it. One of the best movies this year.

I guess it is time to make an year end list on Bollywood.

What say?