Sunday, June 17, 2018 1 comments

All Hail Nihilism

This is going to be a short post. Haruki Murakami is one of my favorite authors. And as I browse through one of his novels (A Wild Sheep’s chase, incidentally I have already read 8 of his novels), I feel the reason why I like his writing style so much, is because he focusses on the mundane, daily aspects of our life.

Not some glamorous world tour, not some fancy murder mysteries, not some adventurous secret agent like James Bond, or Ethan Hunt, or Jason Bourne. No fantasy fiction either (Though of course the book has a lot of magical realms or mystical things to it). Which means we wont find the Starks battling the Lannisters, or Neo finding his way out of the Matrix, or Frodo making his way to Mordor to destroy the One Ring.

No, rather most of his books depict a male protagonist, who is usually solitary and lonely facing certain unique situations (usually negative or sad). He usually cooks his own food, listens to some classic music, goes out for a brief walk in the park, occasionally goes shopping for clothes, feeds his pets, goes to the library and reads certain books, uses public transport to commute across the city, speaks with certain random strangers at times, and listens to the birds chirping while doing his morning walk. Or he might be busy cleaning his dishes, or taking his dog out for a walk.

Yes, these are the things which we usually do on a daily basis, but seldom pay heed to. We might catch up with a tv show, or go through the pages of a novel, or just lie down on the bed with a beer can and listen to some relaxing music. But more often than not, we crave for out of the world, materialistic things. We feel that the Euro trip vacation will make us happy. Or getting that new job, or a new girlfriend or boyfriend. Or purchasing the latest gadgets in the markets, or eating at the latest cafes or joints which have opened up, in order to be socially accepted and to upload pictures on social media.

Yes, our instagram and Facebook accounts matter more than having a long interesting conversation with someone. Checking into Cafes has become the Thing to do, as is checking into international airports.

While trying to seek the glorious, we have forgotten to pay heed to the little things in life, for those are ultimately which matter and which will result in bringing us happiness. For life otherwise has no meaning and no purpose. We are born, we do certain things, get into certain professions, create some relationships and then we die. In the rush to glory, maybe pausing for a bit, and taking a step back to reflect, might help.

Until later, from a nihilist. Adios.
Sunday, May 6, 2018 0 comments

Living the Mundane Life with Glory

Today was an interesting day. Not that kind of interesting. Majority of the time, I would lead what you would call a typical ‘dull’, bachelor life.

Go to office on weekdays, come back home, have dinner, go off to sleep. Wake up, repeat. And that’s about it. On weekends, I will mostly immerse myself into reading, playing video games and watching tv series, with an occasional outing with friends or eating out. Board gaming was a passion, but unfortunately, the sole proper board gaming café in Kolkata is going to shut down. I miss Mumbai in that respect.

But by reading Murakami, I am amazed at how he describes this so called mediocre, dull life in his books so well. Just a typical day, where the narrator, takes a shower, makes his toast and coffee, sits down at his table, usually alone and listens to some good music. Or he goes out for a walk at the local park, sometimes takes the train to a particular destination, watches people go about their daily schedule, such as the milkman delivering milk, the librarian maintaining her accounts, so on and so forth.

And you know what, that’s what life essentially is. It is not a glamorous show off of your latest Europe vacation, or posting those selfies in 5 star hotels on Instagram, or giving hash tags of Foodporn at expensive restaurants, or having the most expensive of scotch with your baes, or checking into every international airport on Facebook. We have become social media validation seekers, chasing a hollow, meaningless goal which only gives us temporary pleasure. And as Mark Manson mentions in his book ‘A subtle art of not giving a f*ck’, seeking pleasure will only make you more miserable in the long run. Rather, accept pain and suffering as part of your life, and seek to enjoy the process of doing things. That in itself will bring you happiness.

While the day-to-day activities might seem pretty mundane, 95% of your life comprises of it. We should learn to accept what we have, and not compare our lives with the so-called perfect social media life of others. You do not have to party at expensive pubs every weekend just to pretend that your life is more cool and happening at others. Pursuit your own specific interests, and learn to enjoy the process, no matter how strenuous or cumbersome it might appear to me .

Personally, I am trying my hands at cooking. Though I am not good at it, and I do end up making a huge mess in my entire kitchen, I have nevertheless managed to make few items, and I take pleasure out of it. Even if it drains me out physically. I have also started walking for at least 30 minutes daily, and it helps calm my mind and take my tension off from my hectic schedule at work.
I am reading a lot of good books as well, and it helps adding to my knowledge and experience. Here are the names of books which I am reading at the moment:

• Triggers, by Marshall Goldsmith – Corporate Self Help
• A Wild Sheep Chase, by Haruki Murakami- Fiction
• The Idiot, by Fyodor Dostoyesvsky- Classical Russian Literature
• The Subtle Art of Not Giving a F*ck, by Mark Manson- Non Fiction
• Catalyst, by Chandramouli Venkatesan (Recommended by my friend Divya)- Non Fiction- Management
• The Gene, by Siddhartha Mukherjee- Non-Fiction/Biology
• A Game of Thrones, by George R.R. Martin- Fantasy Fiction
• A Suitable Boy, by Vikram Seth- Fiction
• Faultines, by Raghuram Rajan- World Economy

And I have recently completed the following books:
• The Country of First Boys, by Amartya Sen (A collection of his essays)
• Lone Fox Dancing, Autobiography of Ruskin Bond
• Democrats and Dissenters, by Ramachandra Guha- Non-Fiction, History
• What Got you Here Wont get you There, by Marshall Goldsmith
• Making Breakthrough Innovation Happen by Porus Munshi

Yeah I know, that’s a lot of reading. And a lot of people ask me, how can I possibly read so many books at once, and that too on multiple genres, without getting confused or lost. Well, I really don’t have an answer, except for the fact that I have been reading since as long as I can remember, and it has become a habit. It is something which I am extremely passionate about, and I am sure I will carry on reading till the day I can. One of my next goals is to get a nice book shelf created.

Today, I went and visited Birla Planetarium in Kolkata. I remember I had come here as a kid. I saw a show in the dome, which resembles the one at Nehru Planetarium. The show was titled ‘Cosmic Collisions’ and was a refreshing experience to see the virtual night sky, all lit up.

Few more things which I would like to do, is to get involved into some social work, and also try my hands at theatre/drama. Lets see how it shapes up. Till next time.

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.