Safe Travels.

Long time, no see.

Brother where art thou be?

A lot happened during this year (just like every other year). Quite incredible then that I write this 360 days after my last update. The world has been up to its mad usual self, and I’ve marched on like Hercule Poirot on an icy Tuesday night. (I just coined that reference. I might not be legit at all). I got a job, moved into a nice house and bought a Honda. However, the highlight has to be travel.

  • 2014 started in NYC (which is not my current abode, since I’m now based out of Boston)
  • I traveled to India in the summer. In India, there were trips between Mumbai, Pune and Bangalore
  • Later in May, my travels took me to Istanbul in Turkey and Athens in Greece
  • Countless trips to New Hampshire
  • Heck, even work is a 25 mile one-way commute every day

In the spirit then, the next twenty odd days will see me making trips to South Florida and DC. I’m especially excited about my first Florida vacation – as a single explorer – where I’ll be staying with an extremely nice couple I found on airbnb, near Hollywood beach. In addition to the Ft. Lauderdale area, I’ll be visiting Miami, and at least the Palm Beach or the Keys. The trip to DC arises out of enrollment in the “Washington Seminar Program” – which is (hopefully just) a conference structured administrative program. The reason I signed up was that it’s basically 3 credits at the price of one-and-half.

Re. Florida: At first slightly apprehensive about traveling alone, someone remarked last night that I was twenty-six now (unbelievable) and needed to do this. I absolutely agree. Here’s my plan – I’ll be just like one of those backpacking tourists, ready to immerse in the surroundings, sprawled on the beach with a book and a drink, hitting random bars and partying with strangers. I should be okay, right? Anyway, I’ll be making a chronicle of how it goes, either here or on tumblr. Vines, videos, pictures. They’re all coming. Should I buy a monopod?

Books have been ordered by the way –

  • The wind-up bird chronicle, Haruki Murakami (I could never finish Kafka. Maybe I’ll find this more interesting)
  • Fodor’s South Florida 2015 travel guide (I did mention being “very” touristy?)

I’ll carry my copy of Animal Farm, just in case I magically get through those above within the five days. There’s also going to be a lot of planning (starting tomorrow). Maybe I should learn a language. A language would be fun.

Awesomeness comes naturally to those who’re too busy ignoring it

Until later then.


To be perceived super-cool, I’ll add some pictures from the summer now.

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Istanbul – Blue Mosque, Bosphorus and Baklava (lots)

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Athens – History, Beaches and Women 

Link

That idiom literally translates to “To reform and begin again, a fresh start” and that is exactly how I feel about tonight. There had been far too many weekends, endless Saturday nights which had been wasted in a drunken haze, or as it was justified, in stress-busting. But this was a unique Saturday, one which hopefully signifies a change for the good.

To begin with, it was an early morning start. Believe me, that itself is a rarity, and I’m not talking only about the weekends, I usually start really late on all days, I really do. It was followed by a very useful couple of hours of studying for the upcoming GMAT. A massive three course “Marathi Thali” was for lunch. Now, I’m not a big fan of Marathi cuisine, but the food at Shreyas (here in Pune) was sufficiently satisfying for it to be mentioned here. Anyways, on my way back, I got into this discussion with my friend, on the pros and cons of getting an MBA degree; knowing that we were both of the consensus that eventually even an MBA would lead to a similar “White-collared labour” situation. He brought up the necessity for working on one’s own projects in order to break the shackles and as one thing led to another; I was discussing my father’s persistent habit of bringing up start-up ideas and then not really going anywhere with them. The stage where my dad would always give up would be at deciding names for the supposed website for his plans.

I had been discussing a couple of my “vices” sometime back. I guess another would have to be the fact that I’m usually very fickle. It’s like; I would suddenly have this great zeal for working towards something, and then another morning I could wake up, and be totally uninterested. I’ve always been like that, and maybe I get that from my dad. So here I was, fresh from this discussion on making my own way, and about how my father had always encouraged me at it, yet there was nothing to show from either of us. I came home, and started researching the various options for creating a website. I finally chose godaddy for the hosting. And so here I am tonight, the owner of my very first website – www.safalmantra.com Yes it is work in progress, but I really hope it works out.

My dad was really excited with the prospect of us finally getting started with something, and I would be talking more about the idea behind safalmantra in my coming posts. For now, let’s just say, it’s an honest attempt at helping the youth discover the best options towards a better tomorrow.

As promised, I will also be updating the Causes section highlighting the need for responsible drinking with a special mention of groups that have been actively working towards the same.

Happy reading !

My vices

There’s a couple of things about myself that have been bothering me all day. Here, I’ll just go ahead (I’m also blunt) –

1. I don’t think I smile enough when I see/meet new people. In fact, I don’t usually have a smile for people I know (I’m counting out good friends here). You know those people who are presentable, or likable or that kind; I’m not one of them. I admire them, I try hard to be like them, to have a ready, natural smile for everyone; but I just ain’t one of them. Here’s how it is I think –

So basically once you’ve learnt the art of smiling at everything happening in and around you, good or bad, you are happy.

2. The second thought that bothers me is that I somehow don’t even happen to have a cordial ‘Hello’ or a ‘Good Morning’ or ‘How’ve you been?’ for acquaintances; like those at the office, people I see for almost 10 hours every day. I see others carrying out their simple courtesies everyday, but I just don’t seem to be able to put the good words together. Heck, I don’t even even have a polite reply when people wish me !

Attitude. 

 Do you suffer as I do ?

Falling Slowly

There’s a girl I know who always makes me feel like this song 🙂

     I don’t know you
But I want you
All the more for that
Words fall through me
And always fool me
And I can’t react
And games that never amount
To more than they’re meant
Will play themselves out

Take this sinking boat and point it home
We’ve still got time
Raise your hopeful voice you have a choice
You’ll make it now

Falling slowly, eyes that know me
And I can’t go back
Moods that take me and erase me
And I’m painted black
You have suffered enough
And warred with yourself
It’s time that you won

Take this sinking boat and point it home
We’ve still got time
Raise your hopeful voice you have a choice

You’ve made it now
Falling slowly sing your melody
I’ll sing it loud

Crazy day ( & a Hazard )

Right now, at this moment my head is mixed with confusion, panic, jubilation & surprise. This day was certainly one that began all too well. Work was largely smooth & excitement brewed up constantly on twitter as Eden Hazard’s next destination seemed more & more likely to be Chelsea. Surprisingly, I was almost free from work at around 7.30 in the evening; when ..well, everything got screwed up, or rather someone screwed everything up. I choose not to share publicly how my professional life goes, & so I shall stay mute.

The confusion brings back memories ( and not so happy ones) of a not too distant past, and it really craps all over my mood. The evening, as a result has largely been an anxious one. To these thoughts, I remind – Every morning is a new opportunity. I hope to sleep over the confusion & have a fresh start tomorrow.

As for Eden Hazard, well, you already see a certain CR7 in him, don’t you ? Arrogant, attention-seeking, naturally gifted & world-class ! After, rounds & rounds of sly promises/interviews/tweets & what not over his next destination, this is what he came up with sometime back –

” I’m signing for the champion’s league winner. “

The media has already declared this means he’s joining us, but with the kind of day it has been, & remembering how fickle ( never-mind attention-hogging ) Hazard can be, I fully expect him to join any of Chelsea, Man Utd, Liverpool, Aston Villa, or even Nottingham Forest ! He has confirmed in the past, that he’ll be joining an English club, limits that list down to 5 past Champion’s League winners. Man City, Arsenal & Tottenham (when was he ever even thinking of them ? ) surely miss out on the Hazard boat then ( unless he meant I’m joining the champions, league winner ! )

I wish you & you a good night. And some good for self.

Analysis of an Argument

This is the first of the series of the GMAT writing posts I’m planning. This is how the official GMAT website defines the “Analysis of an Argument” question –

In this section, you will be asked to write a critique of the argument presented. You are NOT being asked to present your own views on the subject.

Here’s the argument I will be analyzing in this first post –

Most companies would agree that as the risk of physical injury occurring on the job increases, the wages paid to employees should also increase. Hence it makes financial sense for employers to make the workplace safer: they could thus reduce their payroll expenses and save money.

Here goes my analysis. Hope it reads well !

“Brute force is not for the clever”

While the argument provided fairly evaluates the cost of physical injury; the underlying assumption that financial compensation is a linear increasing function of the physical nature of one’s work seems extraordinarily misplaced; and not just in today’s corporate-driven world, but throughout human history.

Why, if this were to be true, it would have been the invalids who carried the rock under the unforgiving sun, those who cemented the bricks and welded the steel while dandling on thin ropes, during the construction of some of the most magnificent wonders of the world, who would have walked away with wealth and fame beyond imagination as a result of their hardships; and not the likes of say, Ustad Ahmad Lahauri , Adrian Smith or Sir Joseph Bazalgette, who simply dreamt of, planned  and designed the Taj Mahal, The Burj Khalifa tower, and the London sewer system, respectively. The creativity of one’s mind, it has to be admitted, has proven to reward much more, than the strength of one’s muscles. Therefore, it becomes extremely difficult to fathom that a potentially injury involving line of work is valued as highly as is suggested here.

On the other hand, organizations, especially those closely involved with physically challenging work environments, heavy machinery and manufacturing, do end up paying a hefty sum towards insurance premiums, covering for accident hazards, damages, employee claims and what not. The annual insurance bills can in fact attain parity levels with the annual payroll at some of the more strategically inclined modern industries. This is where, I believe, safety and risk-aversion measures have a crucial role to play in cutting down costs.

Carefully planned workplaces, which follow stringent safety norms and regular disaster management drills will not only prevent physical injury, but also go a long way in preserving a companies’ fixed assets – its machinery and infrastructure, whilst also drastically cutting down the insurance bills. No wonder then, that today, almost every organization around the world is going earthquake proof, making infrastructure and machinery investment decisions after exhaustive research, and working closely with skilled safety and disaster management experts. Avoiding damages, it seems, is the best way to cut losses. After all, the less you lose, the more you make !

 

 

That kind of a day

Its been a really weird day. Unfinished & rather fruitless. I’d been determined to get a couple of good hours into studying, but that didn’t really work out. I’d hoped I’d get through a few of the road-blocks at work, but they’re still very much live & kicking. The Mumbai Indians crashed out of the IPL, rather meekly. To be fair though, I had secretly traded Chelsea’s European delight for MI’s IPL success, sometime late last week. Guess, that deal worked perfectly. Sacrifices, often lead to great things 🙂
Hoping for a better tomorrow. Every morning is a fresh opportunity. Goodnight

Standing in the way of control

Today’s horoscope tells me

“You might just blow your fuse today. Anger will melt all sense & sensibilities. But, if logic does prevail eventually, things may just improve as the day passes. It is high time you awakened your softer side.”

 

I’m doing this for you
Because it’s easier to lose
And it’s hard to face the truth
When you think you’re dying
It’s part not giving in
Part trusting your friends
You do it all again but you don’t stop trying

Standing in the way of control
We live our lives
Because of standing in the way of control
We will live our lives

Why don’t you smoke?

I’ve come across this question quite a few times, and frankly, the reason is, its purely out of choice. In return, I always come up with, “Why do you smoke ?” And generally, nobody has a clue, as they give me a puzzled, all confident smile.

The reason I’m jumping my ass into this ever controversial tobacco battle tonight is something I witnessed about an hour back. I was inside this grocery store, buying some random stuff, and amongst the small crowd, there was this really cute little girl not more than 6 or 7, buying herself an ice cream. Seemingly her parents had sent her to the shop, just outside the apartments’ gates, to pick her favorite ice cream. I was looking through the rack for the stuff I had come for, while noticing how cute the entire thing seemed as she kept contemplating between the flavors. Just as she finally decided on the dessert she wanted, she went to the counter, and muttered, ” I want this ice cream, and 2 cigarettes “. I was aghast, shocked with complete disbelief. What did this little ice cream girl have to do with cigarettes? The shopkeeper, almost matter-of -factly, handed her the 2 smokes, and she happily exited out.  Just as she was leaving, I asked her, almost calling out, “Aapko cigarette kyu chahiye ?” (Why do you want these cigarettes? ), and in unison with the shopkeeper, she replied, her dad wanted them ! It was just plain, disgusting parenting, and I didn’t know what this kids parents were upto.

But, what happened tonight is obviously not the reason I don’t take to smoking, the reason I don’t is that I have a choice. I have the choice to avoid one of the ways to fall to something as fatal as cancer; I have a choice to keep my lungs clean, be able to maintain good stamina, to keep healthy, and to not slowly, voluntarily kill myself. I have seen and read about innocent people, little kids who’ve had to face life-threatening, and often fatal diseases, for no real faults of their own. Kids, who were born to HIV; people who faced cancer just out of sheer bad luck, whose bodies were messed up from the inside, and they didn’t have a clue about where it came from. I know, just as much as anyone that I could face it tomorrow. But I have this choice today, right now, in this moment, to make it less probable. I have a choice to a healthy life, and I know I’m not the cleanest one around, nor for a moment am I implying, that I don’t have habits that I don’t regret, but this is something, that never caught up to me, and so I plan to keep it that way.

As for that little girl, I really can’t come up with words to express how pathetic I feel about her parents. Your parents are the ones you look up to, especially, more so as kids. They are your role models, the ones you brag about, the ones you protect, the ones you defend, the one who defend you, but parents like hers, are shameless, and to say the least, not worthy for any child to look up to. I am just a young guy myself, but that right there, is something I would never be proud of, as and whenever I become a parent. And, to think that her father send her out at 10 in the night, to buy cigarettes, with the lure of an ice cream, just disgusts me to the core. Think about it, I don’t imply you were to ever do this, but unless you were to quit, you’d never know when it drove you to this !

Strings

There are so many things which come up as this chain of these events, and each of them in itself is a mystery, and once you’ve crossed one hurdle (which had loomed so large initially) and you leave that behind it seems so little in front of the next one.

And that thing you did, you’re like OK that was OK, but this next thing is a challenge.

Eventually I guess its always about going from strength to strength and how much you have it in yourself to never quit.

We can all do so many things, our decisions only await the expenses of our doubts ( and probably a little bit of laziness )

Sometime Around Midnight

This is a song from The Airborne Toxic Event ( also of the FIFA 09-Gasoline fame ). It played almost in an infinite loop in my playlists about a couple of months back. Its always left me dumbstruck, probably the most haunting lyrics and tempo I ever heard.

Try and not get lost in the words. Would love to know your favourite lines.

And it starts, sometime around midnight.
Or at least that’s when you lose yourself
for a minute or two.
As you stand, under the bar lights.
And the band plays some song
about forgetting yourself for a while.
And the piano’s this melancholy soundtrack to her smile.
And that white dress she’s wearing
you haven’t seen her for a while.

But you know, that she’s watching.
She’s laughing, she’s turning.
She’s holding her tonic like a cross*.
The room’s suddenly spinning.
She walks up and asks how you are.
So you can smell her perfume.
You can see her lying naked in your arms.

And so there’s a change, in your emotions.
And all these memories come rushing
like feral waves to your mind.
Of the curl of your bodies,
like two perfect circles entwined.
And you feel hopeless and homeless
and lost in the haze of the wine.

Then she leaves, with someone you don’t know.
But she makes sure you saw her.
She looks right at you and bolts.
As she walks out the door,
your blood boiling
your stomach in ropes.
Oh and when your friends say,
“What is it? You look like you’ve seen a ghost.”

Then you walk, under the streetlights.
And you’re too drunk to notice,
that everyone is staring at you.
You just don’t care what you look like,
the world is falling around you.

You just have to see her.
You just have to see her.
You just have to see her.
You just have to see her.
You just have to see her.
You know that she’ll break you in two.