End of September 2011

Probably the worst of the months ever. I did not write (either on the blog, or on Project WSD or on the secret project). I did not read (despite ordering all those books). I did not keep accounts (I have been keeping accounts since Feb this year. This was the first time I missed a month). In terms of output, September 2011 is a month that I would love to remove from my calendar.

However, workwise it has been ok. I played a tiny, almost negligible, part in organizing Kyoorius Designyatra 2011. This is a confluence of designers from across the country for three days of networking and workshops. After more than two years I was part of something that invigorated my brains and made me think of interesting things. And yet again, was part of the team that worked on something, that probably would translate into the single largest project that my employer has handled. So, work wise, the month was ok. Could have been better if I could win a couple of more pitches that I was a part of.

Having said all that, we are end of the day selfish animals. We dont get happy for things that we do for our employers. At least I dont. Need to figure out some way to work on some pet projects by the side.

Travel was ok. Spent some time in Goa, Mumbai and Chennai. In fact got time to travel out of Mumbai with PJ and Rr. Though it was just a day long road-trip, loved the experience. Then Chennai, I wanted to meet a good friend but had to rush back to Delhi. May be next time.

Played poker at a casino on Goa. Made about 10% on my buy-in. At one time, I was up by 800% but then what I end up is what matters. 10% for about 6 hours on the table. More on this in some other post.

And that I guess would summarize the month for me. Hope Oct 2011 is better.

And while I was writing this, I realized that every month I could write a summary of my activities over the past month and put them in categories. These categories could be Travel, Buddhi Vilas, Reading, Writing and Poker. And then I could have mini-categories like branding, communication, reviews etc as regular posts/tags.

What say?

I came, I saw ...


Loved 7882 from Vimrod.

To Pile On, Or Not To Pile On

This post is about a question that has been bugging me for a while. This is going to be a mother of a post! Here are case facts.

One. I, M, 29, love to travel. So much so that if I had an option, I would become a truck driver, or join a circus or something. I love to stay on the roads and love the impermanence of things when you travel. I love to see new places, meet new people, experience new things and generally not make any commitments. I have been fortunate enough to see few cities and fewer countries and more I see, more I want to explore. Of course I dont have the balls to do it now.

Two. Most of the time when I travel, it is for work. And the sad part about travelling for work is that your itinerary is defined well in advance and it hardly gives you time to explore the place that you goto.

Three. When I do extend my travel and decide to live at a new place for a few days, I cant really afford hotels and guesthouses. And the ones that are in my budget are too dirty and far from the places of interest to consider. No I am not picky at all. I mean, I am but not for things that I know are impermanent. So I end up crashing at my friend's places. I know a lot of people but have very few friends. In fact can count them on my fingertips. So when I am in Mumbai, I invariably stay with Neo. Bangalore, SS02Sep grants me a room. The US trip, iCEcUBe and PD sponsored acco. And thats that. Apart from these cities, there is no other place that I am comfortable at. And because I dont have acco, I decide against traveling to other places. Side note for non-Indian readers (if any), AirBnB is not really a rage in India and very few people offer beds to strangers. And when they do, they at times charge as much as the hotels.

And after the facts, here is the million rupee question. When I travel, should I be taking my friends for granted and pile onto their places? Do I invade their privacy? Do I infringe upon their personal space when I go and stay with them for days? The second part, the one that bugs me more than the first, is, are all my friendships all about convenience? If Neo decides to move to, say Delhi, will I be as good friends?

I know a part of the answer. Because all these people are friends and they are mature enough to say no, I dont think I cause inconvenience. The hard bit is, how much can I stretch this arrangement? And if I cant, what is the way out?

Anyways, end of the long rant, the question remains, to pile on, or not to pile on?

And the pic above, is of a signboard in Mumbai. Clicked while I was on one of those trips to Mumbai.

Dear Myself!

Credits: Hugh
Dear Myself,

Hope you are having a good day. Normally I don’t write into you. More often than not, a polite conversation with you helps and we sort our disagreements. In extreme cases, I take you out for a drive or an icecream and we are cool after that. But this time, unlike all the other times, things have gone to such an extent that I don’t think a mere conversation would help. I think I need to put on record my opinion. At least it will help me put everything in one place.

I am writing to you, to officially (no I am serious) point out that I absolutely hate the fact that you make me drive all the way to Gurgaon every day. Agreed that Gurgaon is the millennium city and the land of opportunities etc but are you sure you want me to go through this grind day after day? If there were just one or two bad things, I would have relented and not felt so fucked. I tried making a small list. Here are the findings. The traffic is bad. Traffic management is worse. Roads are probably the worst. Rampant urbanization and unplanned growth have created such a mess that I don’t think we’d be able to fix it ever. Public transport is non-existent. And whatever alternatives we have, the hand rickshaws and auto-rickshaws, they fleece as if we live in the banana republic. People, both on and off the road are rude and believe in public display of useless aggression and fake power. Electricity is a problem. Things are expensive. No one feels safe anywhere post the sunset. There is not a place where you can feel at peace. And many more. Why would then you goto a place like that everyday?

If you were doing some brilliant work, I may have let you go there everyday. But what you do, are you sure that’s the best utilization of your time and effort. I mean I understand that you are not the most brilliant sample of the homosapien spieces. I also understand that you are mediocre at best. I know that you want to defy authority for some stupid reason that only you can comprehend. I am ok with it. You know that I would support you through thick and thin and despite you have your quirks and whims, I have always been on your side. But this is something I fail to understand. Why would you even bother with all the hassle of the drive till Gurgaon everyday? Why do you put yourself and me through the torture everyday? How does your conscious allow you to kill yourself every day? And you have been doing it for almost two years now! Havent you?

Please know that I am not asking you to quit. Not for a single instant. I hate quitters. I really do. All I am asking for is an alternative. Or may be an option. Or something that allows you to stay sane! Like Hugh says, Life is short. Make it amazing!

You know, its your life. And mine as well. If not for me, please take time and think about things for yourself. You are a bloody gift to this world and it sucks to see you getting wasted like this. I think after 29 years of coexistence, my comments merit atleast one thought (if not a detailed inquiry into reasons)! Please do it. And if there is anything I can do to help you get out of the mess, I am just a nudge away. Actually closer!

Love you.
Your’s Yourself.

Evernote - Loving It

So once I got the ipad, I asked around for applications that I should be using to make the most of the tablet. One of the recommedations came from JFK and I was asked to explore Evernote. I had been using it sporadically but I hadn't given it much thought. Post recommendation, I started using it and to be honest, I was skeptic in the beginning. I wasnt really sure if it would be of any use. Especially to me, where I tend to read about a million things and want to collect notes, people and contacts about each of those things. But then, as the new Tata Sky ad says, poochne main kya jaata hai, I gave it a shot.

The first thing I noticed was the beautiful logo. The elephant. Famous for its memory. And the use of green. Good design is probably 90% of the battle won. The UI on ipad was very impressive and once I logged in, I could see my notes that I had created on the desktop version. And then when I got to reading, editing and using those notes, I was mightily impressed. I knew I had struck goldmine. With notebooks, tags and easy accessibility from all the devices that I use (HP Mini, BB, iPad), it meant that all my notes, thoughts and links were at my fingertips. Since these are native applications, rather than browser based ones, they can store some data locally and it feels to me that I am working on a local application. And this IMHO is the killer feature.

Its been just a few days that I have started using evernote and I can already see that this would be one of those utilities that I wont be able to do without. The best part is the seamless syncing that happens on all the devices. I use it on iPad, BB and my laptop.

Right now, I have just been storing links, notes and memos. I haven't had the need to retrieve anything so far. But in near future, I would have to. When that happens, lets see how it works out for me.

More than just using Evernote as an alternative to personal information manager, Evernote also marks a turning point in the way I treat files and think about storage and accesibility. With Internet getting fast and ubiquitous, rather than using a mere device to store documents, I now rely on (and trust) cloud services. With time, most of the things would move to cloud and hopefully all the services would have the sane head that Evernote guys have - to have a native application for most of the access devices. Though browsers are advanced and all that but the experience of an app is unmatched.

Cloud obviously comes with its set of challenges. Security for example. But since I dont really work with James Bond and I am no Paris Hilton, I am not really concerned about illegal access (and misuse) of my documents. I tend to keep things simple and so far, I am loving it. The other services that reside on cloud and I cant do without are Todoist, Delicious, Dropbox, and Google Reader. Do you recommend anything else?

And yes, I use the free version. Even at megre USD 45, the premium version of Evernote is still expensive for me. I recommend everyone to give Evernote a shot and share your feedback!

Pursuit of Simple Pleasures

Last few weeks have really been maddening. So much so that I haven’t had time to even get a haircut, clip my nails, read things that I like reading and enjoy all those small things that make life, worth living. I am a romantic at heart. No, not your famous romantic, but this one. And as a result, I like doing different things and taking time off from regular humdrum of life.

I like sitting at coffee shops, staring at space, skimming through books, writing occasional blog posts, thinking about things that I ought to be doing but never end up doing, competing with brain, and doing nothing at all.

All these sound really stupid when you look them through the lens of a 30 year old, especially when that 30 year old is still to figure out what he wants from life and is supposed to support his family. Its sad that world does not allow for such foolhardiness.One of those things that I want to ponder on!

P.S.: Just finished writing this piece of post and when I am reviewing it, I think its an utter waste of time! But then, what else would I be doing with all the free time that I try and steal from life?


Yes, I know I have committed a cardinal sin. I have not updated this blog for a long time. Despite boasting about Project 0911 and Project WSD. Despite planning well in advance what posts would I be writing and when. I also had in place a strucutre for something larger. But then like all other things that I plan and wish for, I did not work hard enough on this.

Like they say, time once gone, can not come back and I know that the days that I wasted in Sept 2011 so far will never come back, I have learnt my lessons and I shall work harder. Like I keep saying that if we humans came with a definite expiry date, we would be better off. We would stop going through the motions and actually get things done!

Anyways, coming back to the point, I have no one else to blame but I for not posting. I can cook stories and give lame reasons but I dont want to. I accept my mistake and I shall try not to repeat it.

Apologies to myself. Hope to get back to blogging soon.

Live blogging a ride on Delhi Metro

Today am going to work on Delhi Metro. I don't even remember when was the last I rode with Delhi Metro. Have heard horror stories. Here's a live blog of thoughts.

Left home. Have to take a rick to reach Metro station.

Reached metro station. @kv told me to walk up the two flights. Walked up the stairs. Thanks heavens for my netbook. I can't even imagine lugging a heavy laptop up the stairs! Surprised to see neat queues before the security check.

Train is not really crowded. This being the terminal stop. There are places to sit. Tried sitting. Really uncomfortable seats. I'd rather stand.

So far we are on the elevated corridor. With the advantage of height, I can see the city, the life, the way I've never even thought. I love standing on roofs and looking down. Its like seeing the big picture and getting hold of secrets.

Third station. Crowds building up. All those stories about rude people and shoving et al, they are slowly becoming evident.

Hate the announcements. Sandeet na bajaye, farsh par na baithe etc. 1984 anyone?

Whoa! An aunty is wearing yellow nailpolish on toes with golden chappal. A green suit. She's apparently going to work. I mean yellow. And aunty. That's the difference between Delhi and Mumbai women. Delhi, they think bling is cool and put everything that is shimmer and a lot of it. Delhi women need a crash course, no a full time, long term course, on the art and science of decking up.

And ladies and gentlemen, here comes the first shove. One uncle just stepped on my feet, stomped the way you crush a cigarette butt and dint even say sorry. Glad that he's not a fake. He meant harm and he is not apologetic about it.

The aunty in yellow nail polish just got down. Good luck to her. And to her colleagues.

Just wondering, like the Mumbai locals, why can't the Delhi metro have first class coaches? Am not for discrimination but people who want little more privacy and can pay for the privilege, yes privacy is a privilege in India, why shouldn't they have an option?

Crossing Yamuna. Really wish that yamuna was clean and we could have had a few picnic spots around the banks. Wouldve made awesome evenings!

And my first stop is here. To reach work, am supposed to change the train twice.

Had a quick break to catch on some breakfast at McD. EggMcMuffin. Ymmm.

And magically, the way it happens in The Truman Show, moment I step out of McD, I see hoards of people, all going in the direction I am going. There must be a million people here, give or take a few hundred. Where the fuck are all these people going?

And the new coach has yellow lights. And I am on the yellow line. And that aunty with yellow nailpolish.
Whoa, this dude in orange shirt just came in between me and the wall and stood with his ass pointing at me. And by the way I was standing next to wall. I dint know that air could pass between me and the wall where this guy wedged himself. And he's wearing chameli ka tel. I mean some tel that is pungent like sulfer is and is filling my nose with it. Someone get him a deo please.

And for the records, Mr. Sreedharan, yellow ambient lights are depressing.

Love the gush of wind in my hair. I am right under the AC vent. Loving it. Everythings not bad about Metro afterall!

And just when I had thought I have placed myself at a comfortable distance from the orange dude, another gentleman encroaches on my space. Not that own the space but the concept of personal space is being violated!

Finally got some space where I can rest my back.

Like Yogi (Berra) said, you can observe a lot by watching, any student of people watching needs to ride on the Delhi Metro for sure. Even Mumbai locals for that matter.

For the record, we've been standing on this station for close to five minutes and they aren't opening doors. Junta around me is getting jittery. And yellow lights aren't helping.

Ok, the door opened with beeps, the way timebomb beeps and surprisingly about half the coach got down. And bigger surprise, twice as many people boarded the train. All within 30 seconds! I dint know that each coach could accommodate these many people. And more than that, the engine could lug a train with so many people. These engines should be used to launch aircrafts etc.

Damn the jouney is too long and too boring. Am almost losing interest. The live blog could continue till the world war three. My car's the best. I miss :(

For some reason, people don't smile here. Everyone has a glum face as if they are being sent to the gallows against their wish! Guys, its 9 in the morning. Can we have some sunshine please? When God was creating humans, he should have put some more funny bones in us. We have 206 and we could certainly adjust some more.

Back just starting hurting. The right knee is almost ready to buckle any moment. Am standing on one leg. Plan is to get down at any station once I cross the border and then call office to send a cab. I really need more money in life. I need material comforts. Can't do the metro routine. Need to have another car. Wondering if my boss reads this blog? Don't think so. He aint got no time for his emails, leave alone blogs. And that too mine.

The station I am supposed to go is still ten odd stops away. At this rate, my thumbs would get a heart attack. Been using them frantically for last hour an twenty mins! Not ten. Make that twelve.

Love the wind from the AC shaft. Its just right. Not too cold. Not too fast. Not too wild. The way it should be.

And, for the record, I have lost interest. The station would not come in this life time. My bodys aching like its been put in a grinder. Everyone has a long face on them. They've shut down the AC. Enough.

I can't even tolerate music no more. I have no clue where I am and when I'd reach. It'd be better is someone put a mask on my face and took me in white van with no windows etc. At least there'd excitement that am getting napped. I'd have a shot, though distant, at my 15 seconds of fame!

 Finally! I get down from the metro. The next battle I need to fight is to find a way to reach work. Am told you can take an auto but am not really looking forward to haggling with them on the fare.

One things for sure. Am not coming to work on the metro ever again. The commute sucks. I'd rather be stuck in a traffic jam for four hours.

Signing out.

Dear Nature

Dear Nature,

Before I get into a long drawn rant about things that I want to crib today, I want to thank you. Thank you for a lot of things, including and not limited to, the wonderful life that we are very attached to, the rains that always brings the best of my moods out, the mountains that I love to explore, the cool breeze that elevates my spirits, the diversity in individuals that makes us what we are, the thumb that made us different from our cousins, the absence of the tail that helped us walk straight, the curiosity and more than that the ability to actually chase the questions that trouble us. Thank you. Really I mean it.

Now, that the mandatory disclaimer is done, today I want to talk about something that you think it was required, but I think is inane. I understand when we were nomads and hadn't discovered fire and invented the wheel, we needed to fend for ourselves. A thick coating of hair helped us keep warm. Apart from being the protective coating, it gave us a natural cushion while we were sleeping. And some people even say that it helped us save ourselves from mosquitoes at night. Whatever your reasons may have been, I humbly want to submit that they are not really required now. With global warming and other things that have made planet warmer, we dont really need hair to keep warm.

You know what bugs me the most? The fact that I need to cut trim them every once in a while. Everyone knows that you, nature, by the very nature, are unfair. You've given very few people a lot of things and a lot of people nothing. So while some people have awesome hair, people like me have hairlines that are receding as fast as Usain Bolt can run those 100 meters. In fact imagine the plight when you goto a barber and ask him for a haricut. He also smirks at you and tortures you by asking the style you want to cut your hair into.

The plight bit is fine. I am used to people staring at my bald head and cracking jokes. The bit I cant tolerate is the fact that I need to maintain the hair frequently. You need to get a haircut once a month. Trim your beard once every few days. For a change I thought that let me be supremely lazy. I shall not trim my beard and let it grow. I dont mind what people think or say but since my work requires me to fly often, and security at airports in India is bonkers, I am stopped multiple times at each airport and every guard like man eyes me like I am on the most wanted list of Interpol, RAW, Delhi Police and other intelligence agencies. I am often frisked multiple times, bags searched to the seam, asked rude questions and made to strip to my birthday suits. And not to mention the personal frisking. And why all this? Because I refuse to shave, because my facial hair cant stop growing, because someone, at God's decided to humor himself by giving us men hair.

I know I cant do jackshit about it now. I can only ignore all those wise-ass comments from barbers and continue being humiliated. But I do have a request. A humble one at that. I shall live my life in whatever way but from the next generation on, could you please do something about hair? And nails for that matter!

One of your out of favor childs'

Dear Girl in Blue Dress

Dear Girl in Blue Dress,

I am so sorry. I was in the same coupe as you were in. I was there when those men intruded on your personal space and dared to touched you. I saw your Dupatta being pulled away. I saw you crying. I saw that despair in your eyes. Your eyes were searching for help in that crowded metro coupe and they infact had briefly met mine. I looked into them, gave them my sympathies and then diverted my attention on my ipod, pretending to search for the next song that I wanted to hear. Ofcourse I was pretending and I was still aware of what was happening to you. I told myself, what every other man would have told himself, that I dont know you and hence what was happening to you, was not my problem.

I know that I am proud to be a male. I am chivalrous when with womenkind. I am courteous when I am with elders. I am loud when I am with girlfriend. I am protective when I am with my sis. And yet, I am indifferent, with every other women. I dont even consider that more than all these superficial relationships defined by us, you and I share, a stronger and bigger relationship. HumanKind.

I know we are the men of Anna. We have taken loud pledges against corruption on public forums, and in person we dont mind paying that ten rupee note to get things done faster. We pledged with Anna and we joined him for his fast, and post that we went to fancy restaurants to party and debate on things happening around us We went to India Gate with a candle in our hand, and post that raced our bikes around that very India Gate, a little high, on alcohol and pride. Rather that all these fancy things, a mere act of helping you would have elevated me higher than any other deed. 

I am sorry. For not having the balls to act and stop those men. I can ofcourse give a lame reason that there was just too much crowd to do anything. I can even say that since I did not know you, why should I get into trouble. But end of the day, my inaction cant be justified. And of all those men who were meek spectators. What troubles me the most is that some were secretly enjoying the act as well. I wish I could slap some sense into them. And you know, I dont think I even I have the right to comment on them.

I just want to tell you that Delhi is not what you think we are. We are not rapists and we know our limits. There are some people who need a life and I am extremely sorry for letting things happen to you.

And I hereby promise that next time I see something like that happening, even if I dont know the woman, even if I am outnumbered, even if I am handicapped, I would do my bit to help you. I promise.

And once again, I am really sorry. I am sincerely ashamed. 

An Ashamed Delhite.

Inspired by an incident that a friend had to go through while traveling by Delhi Metro. And this is from and for all those men who just stood like meek spectators. Would I have done anything about the incident? May be not. But I shall, next time it happens in front of me.

The New Blogger

Blogger has come with an update! And this is my first post with the new blogger. Lets see if this new version helps me write more. Or helps the quality of posts. Or gets me new readers. What else do you expect from a blogging utility?

Thing with blogger is that while all the people in the world, read WordPress, were innovating and releasing new versions at the rate of millions releases per day, blogger was sitting idle and whiling away time. And now when Wordpress has become the defacto standard for bloggers, they are playing catchup. And with this release, they are not getting any closer to WP sometime soon. This only makes blogger closer in look and feel to the parent, Google.

Although blogger is nowhere close to Wordpress and gives me no real powers, I still like the simplicity of the entire thing and hence been using it for all these years. Anyways, this is not really a post but this is an experiment. Lets see how the new blogger treats me!

The Nidhi Kapoor Story

Did you like this post? May be you want to read my first book - The Nidhi Kapoor Story.

Check it out on Amazon or Flipkart?