Monday, December 18, 2017 0 comments

Adieu 2017

Okay, as 2017 draws to a close, as usual, I take some time to retrospect and reflect on what were the things which went well, and what were the critical learnings.

I started the year jobless, and I remained without a job for the first two months. To mention that in brief, it was a period of uncertainty, tension, doubt and it was definitely not a very pleasant feeling.

However, thanks to support from friends and family, I finally managed to get a new job in March, which led me shifting to another city. So after a period of over 3.5 years, it was finally time to bid adieu to Mumbai. I have had lots of good experiences in the city, met new people, made quite a few friends, interacted with colleagues, discovered my interest in modern board gaming, which led me to participate in several board gaming sessions, learnt to enjoy the continual monsoons, experienced the humidity and complete absence of winter, explored the areas, long walks on marine drive, vada pav, paani puri, had exposure to both Corporate and Factory HR- Professionally, and frankly did a lot of amazing things with some amazing people.

Nevertheless, moving to Kolkata was a good experience as well. The obvious advantage was getting a proximity to home, which helped a lot. I had not expected to be back in my home state so soon, but it was welcoming all the same. I reconnected with some old friends in Kolkata, and made a few new ones. Even discovered a Board Gaming café here, which I happen to frequent on most weekends. Again took a new place on rent, in a pretty decent society, though a bit far away from central Kolkata, but having good facilities nevertheless.
The new job is also going decent (with its shares of ups and downs of course, as I believe no job can be perfect). The best part of it being that my colleagues (especially in my team, HR) are really friendly, supportive and helpful, and I absolutely enjoy working with them and spending time with them. There were lot of new things to be learnt, both professionally and personally. I even got to see Shaan perform live in one of our corporate events.

On the personal front, I made few bad decisions, especially the one to get into a relationship with someone whom I didn’t know that well. Let’s just say that it did not turn out well for either of us, and we decided to separate pretty soon. That was also a learning though. One should never rush into these things, without considering all factors.

I got to visit my home once every month, and it feels good re-connecting with family, enjoying good home cooked food, and just relaxing without any worries. Thankfully my parents are still doing well, and are in good spirits.

One thing which I realized had taken a back seat was ‘fitness’. After a lot of procrastination, I finally pushed myself to go to the local gym, go on walks, etc. Very recently, I repaired my cycle (which was lying dysfunctional for over a year), and I today, I actually cycled over 10 kms to office, from my home. It was an exhilarating experience, to say the least.

Another thing which I ensured, was that I travel to at least two new places this year. So I made trips to Rajasthan and Uttarakhand (I have never been to either of the states earlier). I also visited Ranchi for the first time and met a friend there. I attended weddings of a few close friends, even visited Mumbai two times in between.

Also met Girish in the beginning of the year, who had come over from USA for a few days. I was still in Mumbai back then. Subodh’s wedding in Baroda was also one of the highlights.

I am also really glad that my habit of reading books remains unchanged. I have read quite a few good books this year, but two of them which stand out are ‘Sapiens’ and ‘Homo Deus’ by the same author, Yuval Harari, an Israeli Historian, who has written about the history of mankind, and has also predicted how things can be like in future. I would recommend everyone to read these two books, to get some incredible insights on life and evolution.

I have also developed my body clock to sleep early and wake up early. Nowadays I try to wake up in between 6 and 6:30 am, and go to sleep at max by 10:30 pm. This has really helped me develop a healthier lifestyle, though I have a long way to go.

There were failures too of course, I wanted to revise and brush my concepts of Japanese, but could not really spare sufficient time to do so. Neither have I been able to practice much on my keyboard, and my telescope remains inside my house, not yet opened once in the past year.

Hopefully, I will work on the above and more going forward.
That’s it from my side. Thank you for reading. Wish you a happy near year in advance.

Thursday, October 19, 2017 0 comments

Happy Diwali 2017

Happy Diwali, everyone. Hopefully all of you are having a good time with family and friends, and enjoying the festive season in India.

For me, this year has been eventful so far. It actually seems like it whizzed past by. And less than two months left for 2017 to end.

I joined a new organization, new role, new colleagues, new city, new experiences. Lot of new things on the professional front. And lots of learning as well. Shifting from Mumbai to Kolkata made me feel a bit apprehensive at first, but I am glad that I have (Almost) settled in. Being a native of West Bengal obviously makes things easy for me.

On the personal front, perhaps it wasn’t that positive but at least it made me learn few new things as well. I got into a relationship which did not work out, but made me learn lot of things.

Made few new friends here, unfortunately not enough. Discovered a Board gaming cafe in Kolkata, which was surprising, and also became part of a small Gamers group, which is probably my only social activity in Kolkata so far. Need to expand my circle probably.

I also travelled quite a bit this year, and quite a few places for the first time. I finally managed to make a trip to Rajasthan, which I wanted to for some time, and later also to Uttarakhand, which is another great state, especially for people like me who love the mountains. Ranchi was another city which I went for the first time. Saw MSD’s house as well. Will probably write about my travel experiences in a different post.

Recently, some of you might have noticed the #metoo hash tags being shared widely on social media by many people, most of them being female. That was a trend started to share the fact that the respective person has also been a victim of sexual harassment.

For many men, (at least in the Indian context), it came across as a complete surprise that so many women were saying ‘Me too’. But the depressing reality is that Almost every woman has been a victim of sexual harassment at some point in their lives, and many have witnessed it several times.

This is sad and shameful to say the least, but what makes it even worse is the complete apathy to this situation by many men. While its certainly true that not all men indulge in sexual harassment, it is also true that most of them have not done anything to oppose or stop it, or try to support the respective victim, instead of blaming them for getting harassed in the first place.

So it is upto us, especially men, to try to make the living and working environment women friendly and opposing harassment in every form. That is the only way we can hope to achieve gender equality.

Till next time, keep enjoying.

P.S.- PS4 Gaming is still on. And so is extensive reading.

Sunday, July 16, 2017 1 comments

Homo Deus

In the era of Twitter, Instagram, Snapchat, Facebook, etc, I seriously feel that the attention span of people has gone down. People are highly addicted to their virtual environments and have little time for real face to face conversations or doing simple things which do not involve cameras or mobile phones.

I believe we should make an active effort to detoxify ourselves or this is only going to end badly. Most people would not even prefer to read detailed articles on blogs, and can seldom go beyond a few paragraphs. We all need instant gratification, immediate pleasure. Meaningful relationships are giving way to the Hook Up culture. Even when people go out to travel, they are more focussed on taking selfies and uploading pictures than living in the moment.

Most of the youngsters constantly crib about their work life and their bosses, but very few of them actually do anything about it. We really do not know what is the kind of future we are heading towards. I would recommend anyone who likes to read, to get hold of the two masterpiece novels written by Yuval Harari, ‘Sapiens’ and ‘Homo Deus’, to get a broader perspective on life and human beings in particular.

Monday, February 27, 2017 0 comments

I am a Feminist, and why you should be one too

Okay, to be honest, this post is not about Describing or explaining Feminism, or about bashing pseudo feminists. Lot of people have already done both in the past. I am simply trying to put into words the reason for me being a feminist. Do note that I shall mainly be focussing on the Indian context only, as I have little or no experience of Feminism views outside the country.

In the past few years, Feminism as a principle has been bashed almost unequivocally throughout the country. By media, journalists, politicians, social activists, college students, working professionals, the common man, and so on. It has almost become a fad of sorts- If you are a feminist, you should be treated akin a criminal. How dare you even think of supporting women, who have just no other work than to surpass men and disparage their efforts in every possible way. How can you be so blinded by their hogwash? Can’t you see they are just trying to dominate, and make lives miserable for men? Girls are asking men to stand up for a reserved seat in a bus or a train. That is just beyond criminal. How can we think of reserving seats for them in the Parliament or in top Business schools such as IIMs? How can women claim to be equal to men and then ask for reservation? Isn’t it the height of hypocrisy? How can a girl log onto a dating app as Tinder and claim she does not want to ‘Hook up’. Isn’t that criminal?

I think you get the idea. Female bashing has become the new trend. Shortly after the New Year incident in Bangalore (Sexual Harassment of hundreds of women), a new Hash Tag was born- #NotAllMen. Of course the men had to stand up for this shocking incident. By proudly proclaiming that Not all men were rapists or molesters. That there are many good men like ‘them’ in the world as well. How dare the women say that all men are criminals (its unsure who and where said that though). More and more men were coming forward and bravely posting their comments on Social Media, as to remind everyone(especially women) that Not all men were bad, not all men were sexually harassing others. That is such a noble thing to do, isn’t it? [Note- Heavy Usage of Sarcasm, and if you could not get it, then bless you]

A few days ago, I read a comment on Quora [A Popular website on writing Questions and Answers or General topics] in which a girl had mentioned that she is Proud not to be a Feminist, as she believes Males should get equal rights as Women. Reading that statement actually sent me into a state of shock. Here is the Dictionary Meaning of Feminism, just to get it clear:-

-‘The theory of the political, economic, and social equality of the sexes’- Webster
-‘The advocacy of women's rights on the ground of the equality of the sexes’- Oxford
-‘Feminism is a range of political movements, ideologies, and social movements that share a common goal: to define, establish, and achieve political, economic, personal, and social rights for women.’- Wikipedia

If you go through any of the above meanings, it becomes apparent that nowhere Feminism endorses the denigration of rights for men. It is really unfortunate that many people, even now, feel that feminists try to belittle men and criticise them for anything and everything. Most of these people have not read about the history and the past, where women have struggled for even basic rights. They did not have the right to vote, the right to live an independent life, or even the freedom to marry someone of their own choice,or to have legal and social equality. I would recommend everyone to read about the three different waves of Feminism, and more on the History of the past few hundred years before jumping to any conclusion.

I first heard of the term when I was in school, maybe in Standard 9 or 10. One of my schoolmates told me that he considered himself to be a ‘Feminist.’ He tried to explain to me what it was, but at that time, I could not really comprehend what it was all about. But what I did notice is that lot of males shy away from using the term to describe themselves, even if they believe in equal rights for men and women. Some of them think the term ‘feminist’ is too effeminate. It will make them look unmanly if they start calling themselves a Feminist. Others think that one can only be a Feminist, if he or she attends Protests or Demonstrations holding Placards and Charts advocating women rights, shouting at the top of their voices. Hence it is highly probable that if you ask a person, especially a male, if he is a feminist, he will answer in the negative. Fortunately, over a period of time, I learnt that gender discrimination is wrong. Girls have just as much of a right to education and a decent living as boys do. It is high time that men learnt to keep their (gender) superiority complex in check.

Lot of men write that Women abuse lot of laws to their advantage. A notable example being the infamous Sec 498A in the Indian Penal Code, which has been misused by several women to imprison their husbands or his relatives, on the pretext of harassment, and to get hold of his property/money. Or maybe the law on Adultery (Sec 497), which is currently biased in favour of women. While it may be definitely true that women might have used the law to their advantage, but the fact is that Both men and women use the law to their advantage. It would be extremely unwise to focus on one aspect and ignore the other. If there are laws which (presumably) favour women, then there are many laws which favour men too. We still do not have a concrete stand on Marital Rape or even Domestic Abuse, which is prevalent throughout the country, and almost all the victims being women. The majority of victims of sexual harassment continue to be women, and there appears to be little improvement in this regard. We continue to bash the victim with an archaic mindset(blaming her clothing, her upbringing, her nature and everything else except for blaming the criminal). This is a typical drawback of a highly Patriarchal society such as India.

Hence the call of the day, is that we need more Feminists. We need them to come forward and promote the cause of Equality, while supporting social, judicial, economical and legal rights for women. And we definitely do NOT need more men reminding us that they have never harassed a girl and how proud they are of themselves for doing so(almost as if it is an achievement- ‘not to molest’). If you are a man, I would just ask you to put yourself in the shoes of a woman for just a few minutes. You might perhaps understand, that women are judged every single day. For their looks, for their behavior, for their basic actions. We live in a society where women have to be on their toes throughout, in fear of being attacked or harassed(physical, mental, emotional, anything).

Let us come forward and do our best to make our society a better place for women. There is lots to be done.

Saturday, December 31, 2016 0 comments

2016 in Remembrance

So i sit at my laptop, on New Years eve, all alone in my room, with a glass of Apple Juice and a jar of Cheeslings in hand, I wonder-'How have things gone so far.' And yet another year comes to a close, with more insights. Let us think about the year that went by, and what did it bring about for me.

Tuesday, December 13, 2016 0 comments

Metal Gear Solid the Phantom Pain: Game Review

Okay, I recently finished Metal Gear Solid 5, the Phantom Pain, and I decided I would write a Game Review for the same.

I shall be referring to the game as MGS5 for the remainder of this blog post. I would be pleased to say that this game definitely lives up to the Hideo Kojima Masterpiece of a Gaming series. Let me divide it into the following categories:-

i) Graphics:
Undoubtedly one of the major highlights of this game are its mind-blowing graphics. You will need to play it yourself to believe it. Whether going down the valleys of Afghanistan or the Grasslands of Africa, you can almost feel yourself to be present at the surreal locations. The character designs have been done pretty well as well.

ii) Gameplay:
This is probably the best part of the game. The gameplay includes improved controls, while at the same time keeping it simple. You have a wide arrays of weapons and items to choose from. You also need to save civilians and other people during a multiple array of missions. You have Buddies to support you, and you can call upon Helicopter support, Bombardments, and so on. For travel, you can use Horses, Jeeps, Trucks, and what not. As you gain experience, you can build upon more sophisticated equipment and weapons. Though one negative point is that some of the missions seem repetitive with almost similar objectives. Maybe instead of having 50 missions, they could have restricted it to 25, so that the repetitive factor would go.

iii) Story:
This has always been the USP of all MGS games, and once again the story does not disappoint. Set in the early 1980s, this game is a Prequel to the current MGS universe, and features Big Boss, the original Snake. Without giving away any spoilers, I would like to say that the story definitely captivates you and also explains a lot of things on past events which ultimately ended up shaping the future.

iv) Replay Value:
You can definitely replay some of the missions at harder settings, and there are around 150 side missions to choose from. For sure, you will not end up getting bored. I devoted a good 35+ hours to this game, without even completing majority of the side missions.

Overall, MGS5 is definitely recommended to all gaming fans and a Must for all MGS lovers. Just get it and deep dive into the Universe which gave us Foxhound, Outer Havens and Diamond Dogs.

Overall Rating: 9/10

Until next time, adios.

Monday, November 21, 2016 0 comments

The Himachal Solo Trip

So here goes. My first solo trip. Destination- Himachal Pradesh. I shall not be elaborating much on the places, but only covering the basics.

There are multiple ways to reach Himachal of course. I took a flight to Chandigarh, from Mumbai, and then took a train till Kalka. From Kalka, I took the Toy Train to Shimla, which takes around five hours in all. It was a pleasant ride, on the hills. Of course, if you go by road, it will be faster, but I wanted to try the train ride, and it did not disappoint. There were several foreigner tourists in my coach, mostly middle aged or seniors. I had a nice conversation with an elderly couple, who were from London, and visiting India for the first time. They had taken a tour package for a duration of three weeks and would be covering the major parts of North India, such as Delhi, Agra, Jaipur, etc. Here is a shot taken from the toy train:

I reached Shimla by early evening, close to 5:30 pm. My hotel was near the station and I decided to walk down. After getting some rest, I went for a walk on the famous Mall Road. It was a bit chilly at night, and I had not brought any warm clothes with me. But by the time I reached Mall road, it was already late and most of the shops were closed. I still had a good leisurely walk and returned to the hotel.

The next day, I booked a cab and did a Shimla tour. I covered some common tourist spots, such as the Jakhoo temple(devoted to Lord Hanuman), which had lot of monkeys roaming around, and Kufri, which is famous for adventure sports and Horse Rides. I tried my hand at few of the mini sports, including a Reverse Bungee jump. Picture below.

After Kufri, I visited the Viceregal Lodge, which is a typical portray of British Architecture. The gardens outside are well maintained. They charge you an entry ticket of Rs. 20 for visiting the garden and outside area, and Rs. 40 for a guided tour inside. Unfortunately the guided tour would only be done after 2 pm, so I took the garden pass and roamed around the beautiful area. Co-incidentally I met the British couple from my train ride over here as well.

The final destination in Shimla for me, would be the Army Museum. Amazing place and very well maintained. There is a Golf Ground nearby as well. Very scenic and picturesque.

I reached my hotel by late afternoon, and ventured towards Mall Road again, this time a bit early.I bought a jacket, as I was actually freezing by now, and walked for some 2-3 kms, before returning to my hotel. This was the end of the Shimla tour, and I took a bus to Kullu the next morning.

The bus ride to Kullu took more than eight hours. The roads are bumpy, but the view is really good. You can see the mountains, and later the river Beas flowing by. It is actually a sight to behold.

I reached the hotel by late evening. I decided to visit Manikaran and Kasol the next day and then move towards Manali, which is around 40 kms from Kullu. Unfortunately I had a minor accident that night, as I slipped and fell into a drain, injuring my right leg. I went to a Pharmacy shop and got the leg bandaged. Nevertheless, that did not dampen my spirit, and I was looking ahead for the things to come.

So next day I took a taxi to Manikaran. Manikaran is famous for its hot water springs. It has a Gurudwara and a Ram Temple. It is a good place for sight seeing. On the way to Manikaran, you pass through Kasol, which is actually a small town located on the valley. It has got the rather infamous name of being a Doper’s Paradise. From there, I went straight to Manali. I ended my day with a visit to the Hidimba Temple, and finally called it a day at my hotel.

The next day was devoted to roaming around Manali. I covered Solang Valley, which is famous for adventure sports when it snows. However, at the time when I visited, only Para-gliding was one. With my bum leg, I could not have done it. So I just chose to take a Cable Car ride. It reminded me of my trip to Mt.Titlis in Switzerland. The view was pretty good, and I took some good pictures before coming back down. Rohtang pass is another area which you can visit from Manali, but the Hotel person told me it was 50 kms away and not really worth going at, unless it snows. So i decided to skip the same, and head over to a place called Naggar, where you had a Castle(where some shooting of Bollywood films such as Jab We Met has taken place) and an Russian Art Museum, which took some amount of climbing up. Finally, we took a visit to the Manali clubhouse (Nothing much to do here but check out on some scenary and buy some gifts) and to the Mall Road, which is similar (but not as comprehensive) to the one in Shimla. There was a shooting of some Indian tv serial going on(I did not recognise the cast). Finally, headed back to the hotel. I had a night bus to catch for Dharamshala.

Unfortunately, this was the worst part of my journey. I wrongly estimated my arrival time at Dharamshala to be 6:30 am, whereas I actually reached at 4 am. Throughout the bumpy ride, I stayed awake, and started feeling nauseated. Ultimately, I puked in the bus. It was a horrible ride to say the least, and here I was, dropped at 4 am at a deserted place somewhere in Dharamshala. Somehow I managed to locate a taxi, and asked him to drop me to my guesthouse, which was at Mcleodgunj. I did an early check in and just crashed.

I woke up at 10 am, and decided to walk down to the Buddhist Temple, which is also the residence of the Dalai Lama. There were lot of monks of all age groups walking down the streets. It was a serene and resplendent sight to behold. Obviously there were lot of tourists there too, including foreigners, some of whom were practicing meditation on the temple grounds. After roaming around for some time I decided to walk back to the guesthouse. I inquired about a place which had waterfalls, named Bhagsu. So I decided to walk down there. It was a total distance of around 4 to 5 kms from my guesthouse, but made pleasant by some of the scenery nearby. You need to climb the steps for around half an hour to reach the top and get a good view of the waterfall. However it is not recommended to step into the water, as it can get risky. There have been cases of people getting drowned or thrown down.

I called it a day after coming back to the hotel. The next day was reserved for the Triund trek, which will take the better part of the day. I started at around 9:30 am and it took me roughly three and a half hours to reach the peak. I must admit it was quite a pleasant trek, and almost anybody can attempt it. I spoke to few people on the way, and accompanied a couple to the top. There were lot of foreigners too, and all of them were wishing us Happy Diwali. All in all, I would definitely recommend this trek, even to amateurs or newbies. I was back on the base by around 4 pm. Post which I took a taxi to the HPCA Stadium in Dharamshala. It was a well maintained stadium and after clicking few pictures i returned to my guesthouse. I took a bus to Chandigarh the next day. Had a short detour to the newly built Japanese Garden before heading back to Mumbai.

So there it ended, my first solo trip in Himachal. I really had a good time, and would hopefully return there again someday. In case you have any comments or questions do feel free to reach out to me. Until then, adios.