Happy Place

We all have our happy place right? Or we don’t? The place we go to when we want to get away from it all. It could be a physical space that we head out to (not possible often enough). Or it could be the mind space. Mind full of happy memories. Mind where we also look forward to a great time ahead and feel happy. The smile on our faces and people wonder if we are insane. Yes there is also a box in our mind which tends to get opened up. Of memories that are happy ones and yet create an ache.

For a long time, books used to be my happy place. I could totally get lost in words and the pages. Used to transport myself into the unfolding plot.

Off late though I have discovered meditation. Yeah a very late entrant into this. It’s been a week. Am still struggling to cleanse my mind of all the thoughts and immerse myself. But I think I have found my happy place.

Lot of people who know me, weird is what they will think. I do not come across as meditation kind of guy. But I felt I need to experience this too.

It has been a great experience so far. I am doing only 7 mins of chakra meditation. Hopefully when I learn to let go of all the thoughts, I might be able to increase the time.

I haven’t figured out the chakra part either. I am sure as I move through various chakras, I should be focusing on the body part that each chakra impacts. Will learn as I go along 🙂

So what’s your happy place?


Doomed to fail

Let’s face the truth. We all are doomed to fail. All the efforts that we put in towards what we call success in life, are nothing but efforts to delay the inevitable.

Let’s take an example. Example of life. Will death be considered our failure to live? If so, then since our birth till we die, all our efforts for a better health and life are nothing but efforts to delay the failure.

Business for example. Every business has a cycle. The ups and downs. A trajectory that almost always spirals downward. The attempts are made to stop the trajectory from flatlining.

Brands constantly reinvent themselves and make themselves relevant to new consumers so that they don’t disappear into oblivion.

Business and brands have a role to play hence they must keep on doing what they are supposed to do. What matters to me is life and living.

In our effort to delay the inevitable, we focus so much on all the effort that is required, we stop living. We are more bothered about death and afterlife that we don’t even realise we are putting this life to waste. What is the point of living to be 100? What are we going to achieve? If anything, we are putting pressure on the eco system and thereby whole lot of other people who have to work even harder to go on living.

Same thing with relationships. We all want our relationships to succeed. To end a relationship is to accept that it has failed. Hence we focus very hard on making it work. We don’t realise that the spontaneity that existed at the beginning, we have killed it by making an effort to make it work.

But I guess that is how we are wired by the social construct. We are not supposed to FAIL. The education system, the professional life… they all instil in is the stigmas of failure and we carry that into our personal life too.

This post is totally random and stems from something I read about failure.

Covid-19 impacts billions!

The headline caught your eye didn’t it?!

This post is going to be one big rant and might raise heckles for many. It might also sound simplistic and shallow. But hey, this is my blog 🙂 you can choose not to read further.

It’s been said often enough that we tend to read anything that either matches with our thinking or a fatalistic headline that helps us form an opinion that we want to form.

The last six months, whether it’s the media or different governments that have fuelled this virus and made it infectious more than the virus itself. Whatever axe they all had to grind, it’s been done.

But what has happened in the bargain? The educated fools like us have gone totally over the top in keeping ourselves safe and have taken paranoia to a completely new levels. We, the ones with our childhood vaccination cards, our healthy diets, our obsession with fitness are behaving worse than Michael Jackson who supposedly used to live in a very sterile environment to keep himself safe.

Organisations who have been announcing WFH till end of year or next summer to show how much they care for their employees. These organisations can continue working from home. But what they don’t realise (or maybe they don’t want to since it is in their best interest) is the impact it is having on billion others.

Various sectors of the economy have shut down and may recover eventually or may never recover and people employed in these sectors are the collateral damage to the stupidity that was perpetuated. And of course it is a spiral because there would possibly be other sectors dependent on these sectors that will also collapse in a domino effect.

Everyday that we work from home, everyday that we say we love this work life balance, everyday that we calculate our supposed savings, we don’t realise that jobs are lost because of what we are doing.

How long do you think you will continue to have a job if this continues? Unless you are in a Sector which can totally work online, your job will be safe. But don’t get complacent. Eventually the domino effect will reach you too.

How does the economy roll? It rolls because people are moving, going places, doing things, buying things that keep them moving, doing stuff that involves being out of home on weekdays and the weekends too. And because people move around, the entire eco-system keeps moving in line with their movement. It generates revenue for many businesses and generates employment for many. Which in turn leads to more consumption and an ever revolving wheel keeps the economy moving. Because then the corporates spend money on marketing to these people and that spending fuels further demand and more employment…

But if this does not happen, there are job losses, pay cuts, reduced spending and the wheel stops moving.

So us educated fools who should realise the larger implication are secure in our homes and secure in the salary that we are getting so far and thinking that we will get through all of this. OUR lives are precious. Others be damned. But you know how karma is.

So we focus on the 70000 increase in cases yesterday number because it reaffirms our resolve to work from home. We focus on the number of deaths and tell each other “look how deadly the virus is!”

The other day I read an article about how people are moving out of New York. Deserted streets and shuttered shops. Rats deserting the ship. A city that perhaps gave them so much in life, is being abandoned for a sprawling villa in Florida.

In India we are not doing that yet simply because infrastructure beyond the cities will not support our lifestyle. Instead we are raising walls around us. Looking pitifully at those who have to work out there or talking very intelligently about job losses and blaming the government for not doing enough for those poor people.

Why?? Why should it be the responsibility of only the government to take financial measures?? And where will the government get the money from if we stay at home and no economic activity happens?

What’s it gonna be? Take risk now and step out with all safety measures in place? Or become unemployment statistic eventually.

Mask up and step out people. There are a billion who need you to do so. Get the wheels moving because the government needs those taxes coming in. Get out of the house for your own sake. Because if you don’t, you will wither away.

A Year Older

A year older and hell of a lot more wiser this year. The year has been quite the roller coaster. The highs have been higher than Mount Everest and the lows would put Mariana’s Trench to shame.

The going was pretty good till shit hit the fan. The lockdown. I don’t know how people sound so happy about WFH or want it to continue forever but I surely can’t cope up with it.

Not many people but a few know that I am partially claustrophobic. I never take a window seat on flights (I had avoided flying as long as I could). When I have to spend long time living in hotel rooms, at night, either I would go to rooftop or spend time in the hotel lobby.

Mental health would have taken a beating for many but the conversations around mental health are drowned out by the euphoria around WFH. We all know it is fake but in this situation most would accept it because the alternative is scary.

So being stuck in a room all day has taken its toll. Sure wish we can go back to work. And of course opening up will lead to economy also taking an upswing but that’s a topic for another post.

After the year gone by, nothing in the coming year can get any worse (or maybe there are more nasty surprises round the corner haha)

So here is to positivity, whole lot of optimism and a totally normal next year to me!

Getting older

Disclaimer – Not for LinkedIn but since blog is synced. You have the choice of not reading.

Just finished read Fair Warning by Michael Connelly. It’s the third book for lead character Jack McEvoy. Must read book if you haven’t read it still.

So while reading, I realised that the character has aged. Jack is over 50 now. That got me thinking about my favourite Michael Connelly character – Harry Bosch. He is 59 now. Was 39 in his first book. Mickey Haller would be perhaps younger.

Michael Connelly is a master writer. One of the rare ones who have stayed with the lead character for a long time across many books. Even woven in other lead characters or ones from other books. The relationship between Harry and Mickey for instance. Or Rachel Walling who appears in novels for Harry as well as Jack. For those who don’t follow Michael Connelly books or do not get as immersed as I do, they won’t get the emotion. But the ones who do, will know how it feels every time a book ends. Will there be another Harry Bosch book? What will we do when there is no Harry Bosch?! 20 years span is a long time and we tend to build a relationship with the character.

In similar vein is Jack Reacher by Lee Childs. He was 36 in his first books and over so many other books, Jack had grown older. 50+ now.

Now why is this interesting? Because the characters and I are pretty much same age. I have grown old with them. The lives so to say are intertwined and in a few instances have been quite similar. Also the nature. Whether it is the need to always do the right thing or to be anti establishment on occasions, there are similarities.

Why this post though? It’s about getting older and about making the act of getting old look good. It is not easy task. In our country, the legacy of govt jobs means we all have a retirement to look at by a certain date. That itself creates a certain behaviour. It is almost as if life comes to an end. Most people start retiring from life a few years before it actually happens. All their thinking is about where to settle, what to do, how to manage pension and stuff. In their mind, they already have.

But Harry hasn’t, jack Reacher hasn’t, Jack McEvoy hasn’t and I haven’t either. It’s lot more fun not to think of “that age”! And now with what has happened in last few months, there is no point in planning too far ahead. Plans do not work out. Also all the discussion about being under 60 or over 60, geez who wants to get old!

We were the ones

We followed the lockdown even though the gnawing sensation in our stomach told us how bad it will be for us.

We clapped and we lit diyas.

We donated to every one who sent us a message on mail or through an app because we believed in humanity. Even if it was a small amount, it was big for us in the larger scheme of things.

We got happy when the EMI moratorium was announced and disappointed when we found out it was a scam.

We sat in our apartments and in our houses and watched on tv how in the name of religion, in the name of politics, or mismanaged initiatives, people were still out on the street. Not just out but in huge crowds.

We watched in disbelief images of people thronging markers as if nothing has happened.

We watched the wedding on tv when there was a lockdown everywhere.

We watched the entitled getting a pass so that they can go to their farmhouse.

We watched the government announce schemes for various strata of society. We watched RBI governor talking about interest rates and stuff. And we realised none of it is for us.

We lay on our beds in the dark with no sleep in sight, wondering whether we will get a pay cut, whether we will get laid off or will we get furloughed and how will we manage our lives.

Because we are the ones – the middle class, the consuming class or the salaried class. The ones who pay taxes and watch our money get wasted. We are the ones who buy everything that keeps the corporate India running and the bottom half getting wages.

We are the ones nobody has talked about or thought about during this entire locked down. All everyone asked was that we should only give, give and keep giving. Because we are not corporate honchos or celebrities or the political leaders who can sit in the comfort of their mansions and talk about social good, knowing fully well that they were well insulated.

This too shall pass. We will survive somehow. The so called new normal for us will be a life cut down to the basics. Our new normal will be about adjustment and compromising on our dreams. Because we are the middle class. Neither here nor there.

Utterly random thoughts

Just some thoughts that have been swirling in my head.

1. Reel is not real – how ironic that during this lockdown, a lot of OTT is full of movies and programs that show how US of A is at the forefront to fight any crisis, calamity, epidemic, or aliens invasion. Contagion, Outbreak, all Marvel movies… for last few decades, Hollywood has driven the narrative of US being the superpower in every respect. Playing the world police and what not. But right here and right now, they surely don’t look the superpower… do they? While what is happening in US or anywhere in the world is very unfortunate, successive governments are to be blamed for the near invincible feeling amongst the US population. The power shift had started after the financial meltdown of 2008. Now it is complete. US, Europe are definitely not the centres of power. Read the other day (can’t believe everything I read anymore though) that lot of Chinese firms are getting ready to buy out cash strapped and almost bankrupt companies in Europe. Rock bottom prices will prevail.

2. Optics? So three months moratorium on EMI AND CREDIT AND STUFF. The government had to be seen doing something for the middle class too after the big SOPS for the low income people. Wasn’t thought through. Tell me how does a 3-months moratorium starting from 1st March makes sense? People got salary for March, might get for April too. The shitstorm starts after that! Salary deductions, job losses etc. That’s when most people would want relief from paying EMIs. Oh but wait. They can’t get any relief. The moratorium will be over by then. Muddled thinking I say. The best would have been that there is an option of 3 months. People can choose the period when.

3. WFH images and stories and gyan – I want to throw up. Yeah you gotta work from home. So suck it up and do your work. Spare us the philosophy!

4. Petroleum companies will rake it in. Some utterly random calculation tells me that petrol and diesel prices should about 40% less than what they are right now, given the crash globally. Imagine the money these companies and government will make once the lockdown is over!

5. Continuing point 4, imagine what will happen when the lockdown is completely gone! Having lived in the north most of my life, I have been witness to the scenes at various restaurant serving non veg right after the navratras are over. My feeling is that post lockdown will be quite similar 🙂

More random thoughts in coming days.

The other side

It’s 4 mins past 10 on 31st December.

A whole lot of people either must be at or heading for the intensely stressful New Year Eve’s party. Stressful because if you are not partying on 31st, you are a loser. And that is irrespective of whether you are Gen X or millennial or Gen Z ( couldn’t resist the dig).

So the other side. Now that the decade is coming to an end… the year is coming to an end. A lot of what Hollywood had predicted in many of the movies back in previous decades hasn’t happened and might not ever.

So what is going to be on the other side? Of the decade… of the year.

Don’t we all hope that it will all be better than this year or this decade or this year? Don’t we wish that we will get all that we want and never got till now? Don’t we wish for world peace, environment, less pollution, better economy, better jobs, better relationships, better whatever… bollocks!! We all wish this every year. Just because it is going to be 2020, no mind is going to be ignited!

I might be raining on your parade but tomorrow is no different from today. Except that we will have to struggle with writing the year for a few days (if we still write else auto correct and the machine takes care of it all).

So yeah nothing changes. You are still you and the world is just the way it was…

And resolutions… let me know how many can make the resolutions last beyond January.

Fun blog to end the year 🙂

The Surge Battle

There was a time a while back, when stability and forming a habit was a good thing. Being predictable in our behaviour was the norm. There would be people who would say that a clock can be set to perfect time by their routine.

Not anymore.

I am writing this post while I wait for the surge to end on #uber fares. The fare that should be under 350 (a year back it was closer to 300) is right now 483. #uber app says fares higher due to demand. Well some of it might be true but I think they have figured out my pattern. They know what time I usually book a cab for work. So here I am. Waiting out the surge period and hoping I beat Uber pricing today. So much for being routine oriented and predictable.

But this doesn’t just end with Uber. Take airlines and travel apps for instance. You check out pricing for a certain sector a few times and watch the fares go up. Surge pricing? Hell yeah! Our constant looking at fares has triggered some code somewhere to let the app know that there is an interest in a certain sector and fare algorithm must kick in. I knew back in old days, if something was popular and lot of people were buying it, prices would come down to get more people to buy.

Now, you hope that there aren’t many people interested in the same thing you are else the prices will go up.

By the way, an update… fare is up by a rupee on Uber 🙂

So someone help me understand. I think it has to do with economics and I was terrible at that.

When surge pricing is happening, or airline fares are going up, is there a calculation by the companies which tells them that beyond a certain price point, the consumer may not use the service. Or they now know that irrespective of the pricing, the need far outweighs the price?

Think about it. All tickets sold out at a reasonable price would have been a far better proposition than to wonder that if we jack up the price real high, ticket might not be sold. But obviously morons out there are ready to buy at whatever price.

What if we as consumers decided not to use the service because “fares are slightly higher due to increased demand” (that slightly bit is a sick joke!). We boycott all those who indulge in such practices. I know I know it is all about business demand and supply but still. It’s alright to make profit but more than 50%?? Or in case of airlines, 3 times?!!

There is a fallacy in the logic somewhere and at some point of time, it is going to bite them in their ass.

And I still wait because the far now is up to 490.

If this continues, the government and the auto makers won’t have to blame Uber and Ola. People will start buying cars and using them. The economy will be back on track!

Everybody hurts

So for a long while now I have been travelling to work and back in an Uber. Take that Gen Y!

My usual tendency is to doze off as soon as I am in the cab. But when I don’t do that, I observe. People commuting in their cars or the cabs. Watching them, this song by REM comes to my mind.

People don’t look happy. They don’t look stress free. They don’t look optimistic. They don’t smile. Even if there is more than one person in the car, the conversations don’t seem to be happy conversations. The ones who are not driving, they are glued to their screens. This is across all kinds of cars. From small car to SUV to luxury sedans.

I know driving in Delhi can be very stressful (why do you think I don’t drive anymore!) but this look on people’s faces is not about stressful driving.

We don’t seem to be happy. We don’t seem to be content. We look angry. We look agitated. We look lost. We look disenchanted. Why is it so?

Is it because we have far too many expectations from life? Is it because we have set goals too high for ourselves? What is lacking in our lives that is causing this? Is this only while commuting (when we think we are all alone) or is it all the time? Or when we are with people, we tend to put up a facade.

I had watched the video for this song “Everybody hurts” long back. But this morning I watched it again. Realised that we could very well put images of people on the road in Delhi into the video and it will fit in.

Come on people. I am as stressed as you are but I don’t let it pull me down! Ok so I don’t smile much (been told often enough) but it doesn’t mean am not optimistic about future. Doesn’t mean I am not content. So go ahead. Get that happy look.

Watch the video (courtesy YouTube) and see what I mean.

Sub titles

First there was canned laughter. It prompted us to laugh at appropriate time during a sitcom. So much so that if there was no canned laughter, we didn’t find the prog or the movie funny enough.

Then came the sub titles. All programs have them now. Even the movies on screen at times.

The intention was noble for sure. The accents might be difficult to understand and hence the sub titles. Also it helped popularise English programming. But like canned laughter, there is a fall out.

How many of us, even though we understand the accent completely, also focus on reading the sub titles? My guess would be everybody! If on Netflix or on Prime or any other platform, if there are no sub titles, we switch them on.

The impact of canned laughter and sub titles, to my mind, is huge. We have been dumbed down. We have lost our capacity to think on our own. Everything is a prompt. We can’t function unless we are prompted to do so. We don’t get the joke or the nuances of what is said unless prompted. We expect someone to tell us the sub text of what is happening. We don’t get it on our own.

Zombies all of us. Lost of capacity to think and appreciate 🙂

Interactive Show

Maybe I am getting old. Maybe people are going overboard because they don’t want to be seen as dumbasses who can’t grapple with the next big thing in watching serials but the new Netflix experiment with left me rather irritated.

For me, binge watching (that’s what I end up doing most of the time now), is about starting the serial and throwing the remote away. Get immersed.

But this holding on to the remote because you have to make choices, sucks! People may call it next level of immersion but hell, I thoroughly disapprove.

When not watching tv, our lives are all about making choices. Spare me the act of making choices even when am watching!! Let me calm my mind with some mindless stuff rather than this!

And surprisingly, IMDb rating is 7.7. So obviously it’s not that quite mind blowing as it is made out to be. For me, to watch anything, the rating has to be over 8.

So yeah bring on the hate for me. I did not like the show and couldn’t go beyond first episode one. The first choice itself of sugar pops or Frosties was laughable!!