Posted in Product Reviews

Step-by-Step Guide: How to Choose Your First Dishwasher Detergent Powder


One of the basic ingredients that a dishwasher needs is the right detergent to clean your soiled utensils. The pandemic has fuelled the purchase of dishwashers in urban and semi-urban Indian households, but a large number of women still struggle to get their greasy kadhais and tea pans cleaned effectively with their expensive dishwashers.

We all know that, choosing the right amount of salt, rinse aid and appropriate amount of dishwasher detergent is the cocktail for success in each cycle. In this blog post, I am not covering dishwasher tablets as I will be writing about them some other day.

Before choosing your first dishwash detergent here are the three main factors to consider.

  1. Availability of the detergent
  2. Cost of the powder
  3. Cleaning efficiency

I am going to discuss the top three brands used majorly in most households with a brief post mortem of their performance in all three categories mentioned above.

IFB Autodish

Availability (4.5/5) – Ready availability of the powder in offline and online malls makes it India’s fast selling dishwasher detergent.

Cost (5/5) – On my 8-place dishwasher, this one lasted close to 45 days+ with some days where we ran the machine twice in the same day. Cost per day comes at around 7 rupees per cycle. In larger dishwashers this might last only for about a month bringing the cost upto 10 rupees per cycle.

Cleaning Factor (3/5) – Biggest pro of using this powder is its ability to not corrode aluminium vessels when put inside the dishwasher. Normally aluminium vessels are a strict NO in any dishwasher, but if you use IFB Autodish, I can assure you that they won’t damage the vessels. My aluminium cookers came through just okay. Charred Kadhais and milk pots or tea vessels did not get cleaned thoroughly with IFB and hence we did not buy this brand again.

Finish

Availability (3/5): One of the major drawbacks of Finish is that is imported from UAE. This means whenever there is a lockdown, the product becomes unavailable on Amazon. We therefore stock 2 units extra every time.

Cost (3/5): The cost for one cycle may rise upto 10 – 15 rupees in case of Finish due to its pricing. A lot of people are slowly moving to Presto for the same reasons.

Cleaning Factor (5/5): Inspite of all the above factors, I have ordered this brand more than four times in the last one year mainly because the way it cleans soiled dishes. If you use their salt and rinse aid along with their detergent in the right amount, rest assured that the utensils will come out sparkly clean with zero residues. Many of my friends have settled for Finish despite its cost and availability only for the same reason.

Presto

Availability (5/5) : Presto being Amazon’s brand is always available round the clock to all areas in India. This is also one of the reasons why this brand picked up really well during the last lockdown.

Cost (5/5): Comes almost with half the price of other brands, this one is a must if you are using the dishwasher in a shared accomodation where your other partner/roomies don’t want to burn their money. The cost per cycle comes somewhere between 5-10 rupees per wash.

Cleaning Factor (3/5): Although I have not personally used this brand, one of my friends have given mixed reviews of this brand. In soft water conditions, the powder managed to clean fairly well, but in hard water areas, the brand just did not live up to its expectations like Finish. But many people simply don’t mind scrubbing the left over residues again in the sink because of the cost efficiency of Presto.

Additional Tips:

  • Never compromise on the quantity of dishwasher detergent given by the manufacturer in the manual.
  • Do not attempt substituting dishwasher detergents with regular dishwash gels like Vim or Pril etc in the name of cost cutting. They produce unimaginable amount of suds and clog water inlets giving you 2-3 hours of extra work. There are times when the foam produced by dishwash gels overflow and you will have hard time cleaning it in the kitchen.
  • Salt and rinse aid should be rightly calibrated and refilled regularly. Because every cycle runs with the combination of salt + detergent + rinse aid. Use the settings judiciously to get better results.
  • Gel based dishwasher detergents should be used carefully and must be completely avoided if you have faulty detergent compartment. Overflow of suds may happen in this case leading to E4 error in your dishwasher.

In my honest opinion, one must test detergents from various brands and then come to a conclusion as pH value of water and vessels in every household will test the limitations of every brand of dishwasher detergent. After all, life is nothing but trial and error.

Posted in Daily Prompts

Invalid Comments & Essential Learnings


Judgement consumes joy.

An RJ friend of mine who hosts shows regularly dialled me recently for some help. She had a great piece of content but was afraid of posting. I asked her what is stopping her? Her answer was what if my cousins once again read them on net and make fun?

This took me back to 5 years back when I pinged one of my close friends.

“Hey, how was my blog post?”

…. After about 2-3 seconds of delay, there was a “..typing” on his WhatsApp status and then came a ping

“Ahhh … it does not have the fire”

That was just the beginning of it. Little by little, I kept on showing my work to some more folks who constantly kept on sharing similar comments. All these comments came from people who were not even reading the entire blog post. One even went to great lengths by saying “You are a better reader than a writer”.

“You should stop writing”

– a dear friend from social media

Normally, once you start putting out content you slowly start becoming insensitive to such comments. But, in my case, it was just downhill. I let these comments get into my skin. Comments from strangers who don’t even know the craft of writing were passing random comments. Slowly, I hung my boots and focused on other aspects of my life. Life went on but every day I missed sitting and writing blog posts.

Whenever someone used to ask me, I had a laundry list of excuses ranging from “I don’t have time like I had in 2016”, “I don’t write in that genre anymore” etc. It was only recently that my good friend Krishnan gave me a dressing down. He simply asked me “How does it matter whether you write good or bad?” 

It was then I remembered how much I missed was the constant transference of thoughts from my book to blog and receiving love from my small family of readers. Those messages on social media really mean a lot to me.

Somehow we all need friends like Krishnan who can jolt us and bring us back to reality. It was time to come out of my self created jail and break free. So, I have decided now that no matter who thinks that the piece that they are reading is an absolute suicide, it should not bother me from sitting in front of my iPad and bleeding letters one after another.

It really should not bother me. I will wholeheartedly welcome all kinds of comments and take just the good and discard the rest. These essential learnings were absolutely necessary for me.

Here are the three resolutions that I have taken this year for myself:

  • I will write irrespective of what others comment about my writing
  • I will continue to work on my personal growth and draw boundaries 
  • I will work on consistently putting out articles week after week

Let’s see where this year takes me in terms of writing blogs here at Word Press.

Header Photo Courtesy @ Pexels
Posted in Daily Prompts

Dove Body Love Supple Bounce Body Butter Review


Self-care products have literally taken the whole online stores over a storm as more and more people are staying at home and taking good care of their skin. Since the lockdown I myself have experimented with so many skincare products starting from basic Cleanser, Toner, Moisturiser (CTM) to night skin care products like under eye cream and gels.

But one thing stayed common throughout my beauty regime and that was body lotions and body butters. With a very short shelf life, body butters are a must on every person’s skin care checklist. Their benefits are many. Apart from keeping the skin moisturised and hydrated, they play a vital role in keeping the stretch marks in check. Not just that, for dry skin related rashes and chapping of skin, body butters are an excellent solution. I have infact tried on many of these in the past two years. Today I will be sharing a small review of Dove Supple Bounce Body Butter.

Pricing:

Priced at Rs. 280 for a jar, it definitely is budget friendly for a single person. But if you are family of four then I doubt this may not last more than two weeks.

Fragrance:

Just like products from Dove family, this one also has a very mild fragrance which does not stand out in the crowd. It is best to pair it with a body mist of your choice in case you want to have a lasting fragrance throughout the day.

Moisturising Effect:

The jar has a ”48 hour” claim which I highly doubt in extreme winters. But yes for normal humid weather, it did stand the test of time by keeping my skin hydrated for 24 hours completely. It’s good if you apply the body butter twice a day.

With its light formulation, one can be rest assured that it will not leave oily marks on your glass table or glass panels at home/office. The formulation is excellent and dries out quickly after the application.

Ingredients:

Dove has formulated this one with the usual ingredients like glycerine in addition with certain plant based ingredients like Camellia Sinensis Leaf Extract & Sunflower Seed Oil to keep your skin soft and supple throughout the day. The product does not have Paraben and is cruelty-free.

Waterproof?

I tested the product by washing my feet after the application of the body butter. To my surprise the moisturizing element stayed even after minor water splashes.

Will I recommend it to my friends?

Hell yes. For anyone who wants decent moisturisation for their entire body and does not want a strong scent, then this is the product. Also, compared to the rest of the body butters in the market, this one has a shelf life of 2 years. So, just in case you don’t end up using it in a year then you still have some time left before you discard it completely. Normally, a lot of body butters come with a shelf life of 6 months only.

Cons:

The packaging and the inside plastic layer which is clumsy to remove for the first time. Also the fact that one has to use his fingers directly inside the jar is worth the concern if two or more people in your house are dipping fingers in the jar.

Not ideal if you are looking for a moisturiser for more than 20+ hours. It stays good for 8+ hours.

Conclusion:

Overall this product is a good one for everyday use. Body butters also help in reducing wrinkles and rashes on the body. If you are still skeptical about replacing your body lotions with body butter, I would recommend to start with this product as it is very less greasy as compared to the ones by Nykaa or MCaffeine. Once you start applying body butters, you will start seeing the changes in a week or two. Pair it with a good talcum powder in case you feel, the greasy effect is too much. The changes will be very noticeable.

Header Photo by Romina Farías on Unsplash

Posted in Daily Prompts

My Journey of Finding The Perfect Routine


The secret of your success is hidden in your daily routine

During my days as an NCC cadet, one of the memories that I vividly remember is those early morning routines. Making the bed, running 2km and then the gruelling drills, the night routines of pressing uniforms and polishing shoes… Small habits that I can still recollect perfectly.

These routines were simple yet had a powerful footprint on our overall personalities. Making one’s bed – as simple as it may sound was the key to accomplishing the very first task of the day. 20-30 min exercise stretched all our muscles and prepped us for the hard day ahead. The night routines gave us a sense of purpose for the coming day. We were very clear about what we had to achieve and where it took us ahead.

Then came the working phase of my life where the corporate world and its environment did not inspire me much to stick to a regimental way of living. I let myself go with the flow of life until 1 decade later during the lockdown I had to question myself “Do I ever have a perfect routine?”. The answer was a clear N.O. in all caps. A strange FOMO caught me. Is it just me? Or ….are there some others in the same boat. You know we Indians take great joy when 2-3 people are sailing in the same boat along with us. It gives a strange sense of relief.

I then quickly WhatsApped a couple of people in my friend’s circle only to find the virtuous common loop of waking up late, working late and sleeping late.

Eureka!

All of us had a common thread of zero rituals. We were just cogs of the endless loop where we were running after appraisal or money or something or the other. Almost everyone conveniently blamed their bosses, toxic workplace, nagging spouse and whatnot. I knew in the end it all boiled down to accountability. We all lacked it. We were reckless, swayed from one end to another in the rat race forgetting the higher purpose of life.

Accountability is the first step to beginning long lasting change.

I then set sail on a journey to find the routine which will finally help me breathe in peace. I had to be precise about the “Why do I need to do this?” and “What will I gain from it?”. Because I did not want to be a Tim Ferris or Robin Sharma from day one. Setting huge expectations from day one is the first step to scare your brain from taking new routines.

I listed the perfect routine. It was simple. I wanted to be able to start my office work on time, work on my health and finally grow personally as a better person. Once I listed these, it was time to confront the ugly truth.

I listed what was exactly stopping me from achieving this. Smartphone, Netflix & Amazon Prime, and window shopping on the Amazon app topped the list. This was followed by irregular sleep time, late suppers and late breakfasts. It was as if I was caught in a virtual time loop where every activity was delayed by a few hours.

After the listing, it was time to take action.

  1. I started with a 3 min compulsory morning meditation for 60 days until it became a part of my routine.
  2. I replaced my hot water showers to cold water showers without skipping even for a day straight for 100 days until it became a part of my daily regimen.
  3. Compulsory 30 min walk in the early mornings everyday for past 1 year with my dog boosted my morning mood. I no longer wake up with a groggy face. I am rather excited to see what Mother Nature has to offer.
  4. A cup of black coffee everyday before workout turned out to be a gamechanger
  5. After 6 months of the above routines, I introduced 10 min compulsory exercise regimen in the evenings. It then increased to 30 min everyday until its part of my daily routine now. Mixing Yoga with some HIIT helped me burn more calories than the traditional yoga workout.
  6. I then kept a strict timetable to switch off my work by 7pm and have supper by 9:30pm. This not only made me free for the rest of the evening but also gave me time to journal the day and also pick my favorite book and read.
  7. I then changed my lunch time as well from 3pm to 1pm. This was definitely a gamechanger as it made me energised throughout the evening.
  8. Introducing vaccum cleaner and dishwasher to my kitchen was once again a novelty which helped me gain few extra hours everyday for myself. It’s been close to 7-8 months, and there has been never a day where I have slept with a sink full of soiled dishes in the kitchen. A clean home indeed changes the vibe. With a vaccum cleaner, I could clean the home more thoroughly thereby reducing everyday mopping.

In the end, as I had targeted before 2021, I returned back to my blogging as well. Almost a year full of experiments on my own self has been very rewarding.

Micro habits lead to larger benefits provided you allow yourself to give them a minimum of 100-200 days. A perfect routine can really up your game and put you way ahead of your peers in just a matter of few weeks. One needs to have the will power and determination to see through the entire process.

A decade of irregular lifestyle can actually build up a lot of habits which become difficult to unlearn. It can silently kill the precious man-hours that could be put to use for better productivity. But in the end, it’s up to you whether you silently watch your life pass by or take charge of it and carve something beautiful out of it. We all have just one life. If we ourselves do not take control of it, who else will?

Let the coming year bring the best out of you. Best wishes for the new year.

Posted in Daily Prompts

How Headspace Changed My Life


Note: This is not a promotional post.

Right after the lockdown started, there was too much going on in my life with respect to work and personal life. Each day became a struggle as everything was uncertain and everyone around me were losing jobs or even worse losing their loved ones. It was then, for about a week, I was constantly in a very low mood. I had read a lot about meditation but was never serious about doing it for a continuous streak of 60+ days.

Thanks to this app Headspace which initially came as part of gift from my employer but eventually grew on me to such an extent that right now there is not a single day that goes by without sparing a minimum of 5-10 minutes solely for meditation. As Robin Sharma says in his book “The Monk Who Sold His Ferrari”, your mind is like a race car and it needs some time to cool down. You cannot allow it to continuously keep thinking all the thoughts that keep coming inside.

A little reflection everyday goes a long way in saving mindless scrolling of pinterest/Instagram looking for external short term doses of motivation. All the answers that we are seeking are right inside our subconscious mind. All we need to do is dedicatedly believe in ourselves and religiously set aside a minimum of 5-20 minutes everyday. Mindfulness has helped me to up the game at office and personal life by 2X in the past one year.

The constant reminders from the app is very subtle and gently grows on you just after few sessions. With a full year subscription, one can access literally hundreds of customised guided meditation sessions. Last year around this time I was suffering from insomnia. I tried everything that Google had suggested (except for the sleeping pills part), yet the result was not satisfactory. Finally, I did give a try on the headspace sleepcasts and ASMR sessions. From a mere 4.5hrs of sleep, today I am able to sleep peacefully upto 8 hours without any disturbance.

Relaxing the mind is an art and just like hitting the gym to get your muscles, one needs to train his/her mind everyday. It does not matter whether you are setting just 5 minutes or 3 minutes in the beginning, all that matters is maintaining the pace and sticking to the journey. There is no hard and fast rule to compete with others. You got to meditate for yourself and just be a little better than who you were yesterday. Mindfulness has taught me the importance of living life with complete awareness, acceptance and without holding any form of grudge. It certainly has made me a better person and a better employee at my workplace.

With pandemic, we were all suddenly made to transition from typical office work environment to a 100% WFH setup in no time. With remote working, I am sure a lot of people managers went through cycles of anxiety, irritability and frustration. I was no exception. What job took me 5 hours to get it done now took few more hours. And the worst part is nobody to be blamed as various team members were busy coping with the ongoing pandemic. Some had lost their closed ones and some were busy arranging oxygen for their parents. My anxiety in the new workplace grew to such an extent that silently I started stretching more and more until it took a toll on my mental health. I silently suffered.

Anxiety took to the next level when my signs of frustration was clearly evident at my home. My mother was the first victim. And then, I once again sought help from headspace. The courses on relaxing and focusing at workplace immensely helped me to take a pit stop, reflect and correct my course. Within 2 months, my colleagues also felt a tremendous amount of change in the way I was reacting to the everyday drama. Some deep rooted issues which were not addressed within me for almost 2 decades were answered during these daily meditation sessions. It felt almost like a ton of unwanted burden lifted off my shoulders with great ease.

Headspace has a very simple and animated UI. The courses are designed for individuals from all walks of life and all sorts of situation. There are some really gentle yet powerful movement exercises as well to get you going in between your sedentary lifestyle. For people, who like to meditate along with a group of people you have a group meditation once in a hour where you can virtually join along with hundreds of folks across the globe. There are hundreds of courses that one can take in order to get some mindspace. My favorite ones are the Priotization, Creative Writing, Anger & Pain Management, Anxiety etc. Each session/course starts with a simple yet powerful opening affirmation and a small brief about what we are trying to achieve with each session. This helps one to get a complete context of the next few minutes where the teacher will be guiding you all the way from beginning to end.

I would certainly recommend this app for anyone who wishes to learn meditation and mindfulness with zero background. The app uplifts one’s soul and refreshes mind one session at a time. State of awareness about what’s happening around your surroundings elevates your game to the next level and helps you to take conscious choices in your life.

Posted in Daily Prompts

Tradeoffs of Being A Misfit


From childhood, most of us are taught to speak the truth, and fight for what is right and stand up for our rights. But how many of us, grow up to stand by those ethics at various phases of lives?

This was way back few years when I had quit my job from a startup in Bangalore and my laptop which was at IT admin needed an unlock. The HR promptly called me to ask what were the credentials as the IT admin was unsuccessful in unlocking the password after multiple attempts. At that time, I was in a new workplace where the IT team suggested a hack to unlock the Mac and safely retrieve whatever leftover data was there on the drive.

Since the HR was unavailable, I had asked one of my previous colleagues to reach out to her and communicate the hack. Instead of going to her and conveying, this ex-colleague of mine promptly kept his mouth zipped. I happened to connect with him few weeks later and asked him “Did you get a chance to tell her how to unlock the system”. And then there was an awkward silence followed by “I could not, because your exit was not so pleasant so I did not want to give the HR an impression that I am still in touch with you”. To my dismay, this is coming from one of those colleagues who was with me through thick and thin and shared many coffee or chai breaks together. With time, I reconciled with this office friends and we are in talking terms, but things are just not how it used to be before.

As I said earlier, whistleblowers and people who speak their minds, or who challenge allegiance to authority are often the most loneliest folks in the crowd. None of them want to be in their company. Because conventionally these folks end up doing something that makes them stand out in the crowd, and nobody wants to be that black sheep amongst the herd of fluffy white sheep.

From my 10 years of experience, what I have gathered is that it’s always better to be sincere to your own conscience than becoming a person who is busy pleasing others. On a short-term, you might not be the apple of everyone’s eye, nor you will be the person who is on every office party invites. But on a longer run, it surely pays off to be that person. Better to be known as a rebel with a cause than be a fool who is busy patching others flaws and sucking up to mediocrity.

With every decision we take in our lives, there is a certain amount of sacrifice that one needs to make. The biggest downside of being a misfit it that, you will be not having many friends. Partly because people do get apprehended by your low tolerance to non-sense. You might eventually be singled out from a bunch of nut heads who are busy sucking up to each other. But that’s okay.

There are also added advantages that come with one being a misfit. One of them is that your association with people becomes very premium. Not everyone can afford to be amongst wild, raw and strongly opinionated individuals. Your selective set of folks will stand by you through thick and thin. You are no longer bound to a pack where you have to cover up other’s mistake just to be able to fetch your own food. You can hunt alone and enjoy the meal all by yourself. Your thoughts become less contaminated by the folks who choose to follow the herd and always lean on where the majority of the opinions are formed.

Every time I switch a company, my close friends often ask me the same question “Are you going to give up some of your ideals to blend in with the sheep?” and as usual I stand by my age old answer “No ways”. I am okay to pay the price for being a misfit, rather than be a mere spectator to all the drama that today’s Indian Corporate companies demand. And trust me there are always folks who really appreciate you for who you are and those folks do not care whether you are a black sheep or a whistleblower. They only measure you by the quality of your work and your ethics. Those folks are more than enough for a lifetime than to be amongst folks who are coward to tread their own paths.

Featured Image Courtesy: Photo by Jordan Donaldson | @jordi.d on Unsplash

Posted in Daily Prompts

Back To Writing Again


It’s been close to one full year that I have not had a chance to pen down my thoughts out in the open. Thanks to Covid-19 and the whole uncertainty that was thrown into all our lives. It seems like a lot of things drastically changed in my life over the past few months and every-time I took to writing, there was this strange sense of “WRITERS BLOCK” that had hit me.

But now, I have finally decided to return back to my den again. I will now write regularly everyday and keep the momentum just like how I used to write all the 9+ years of blogging at WordPress.

Thanks to all you beautiful people for not giving up on me, and constantly sending me WhatsApp messages to remind that I should get back to writing again.

Posted in Daily Prompts

When Will Climate Change Be Our #1 Priority


 It’s surely our responsibility to do everything within our power to create a planet that provides a home not just for us, but for all life on Earth

Sir David Attenborough

This year Mumbai saw the heaviest form of rains. Several landmark buildings and large trees fell flat on the ground as the water and wind battered the city ruthlessly for days together. Our area especially was not a flood-prone area and yet the water started collecting everywhere. A couple of hours later, my Twitter feed was full of flood graphics from Jaipur and other parts of India. 

Within days, the death toll of human lives and livestock kept increasing. The Govt or the Met department could not really do much in spite of predicting that this year the rains would be heavier than expected. Usually, organizations like India Meteorological Dept, Indian National Centre for Ocean Information give a heads up before such rains. But in spite of all this, proper correctional measures were not taken by public and private entities to contain the situation. Flood prone areas were not prepared for this kind of danger.

My own house tucked safely in a tower was not spared from the torrential rains. After the whole wrath from the rain had ended, I was remembering the words of 17-year-old Greta Thunberg.

People keep doing what they do because the vast majority doesn’t have a clue about the actual consequences for their everyday life. And they don’t know that rapid change is required. We all think we know and we all think everybody knows. But we don’t. Because, how could we? If there really was a crisis, and if this crisis was caused by our emissions, you would at least see some signs. Not just flooded cities. Tens of thousands of dead people and whole nations levelled to piles of torn-down buildings. You would see some restrictions. But no. And no one talks about it. There are no emergency meetings, no headlines, no breaking news. No one is acting as if we were in a crisis.

Greta Thunberg

There is no disagreeing to what climate activists across the world are stating. Climate change is for real and unfortunately, major economies are not giving it the required attention. Below article is from Indian Express.

Melting of glaciers is not important as of now!!! Really?

As we can see, the case of Greenland cramped conveniently between the algo failure and Biden campaign. 

The world is definitely not heading in the right direction. Melting glaciers are nothing but our neglect to put a clamp on the emission of greenhouse gases. This impacts all countries and whatever happened in Jaipur is a perfect example of that. Not just Jaipur, carbon-negative countries like Bhutan also are facing the brunt of climate change even after their best efforts to save their environment. 

If the sea levels are accelerating at this pace, many more cities and countries will face grave danger during monsoons. Each year we are inviting the horrors that would have actually impacted us only after a century. Day by day we are fast tracking the pace of our extinction. Biodiversity hotspots are vanishing, thanks to irresponsible and reckless permits granted by Govt for mining industries and poor environmental policies in place. Forests are our saviours. They are our only hope from saving our climate. And yet, none of the media is covering this story. What happened to Amazon rain forests in 2019 was a grave reminder for this. 906,000 hectares of forest was swallowed in a series of fires swallowing one forest after another. Earth just lost a unfathomable amount of natural reservoirs of fresh oxygen.

Amazon fire satellite image.png
Locations of fires in Amazon rainforest, marked in orange. By NASA Earth Observatory images by Joshua Stevens, using MODIS data from NASA EOSDIS/LANCE and GIBS/Worldview, Fire Information for Resource Management System (FIRMS) data from NASA EOSDIS, and data from the Global Fire Emissions Database (GFED)

There is a good reason why people in Bangalore and other metros are currently not happy with the rapid urbanization. Half of their natural lakes are dried up, and the illogical concretization of city has only led to erratic weather fluctuating from one day snowy to other day raining cats and dogs. There is no consistency or predictability to what we are experiencing these days. Heatwaves are increasing very rapidly all over the globe. Countries which are not supposed to face the heatwave might start getting the effects of it.

Extreme heatwave in Japan

Our marine life is also becoming extremely fragile every day. Unmonitored oil spills like the one which happened recently in Mauritius are the disasters which further kill our global fishbowl and precious coral reefs.

All the above mentioned disasters might seem like an individual event unless we see it from a bird’s eye view. Climate change impacts series of disasters at once. Politicians may come and go. Parties may win or fail. But all that we will be left with is this nature. Our very own Mother Nature, from whom we are born and within whom we shall finally disappear and decompose. So, it is very clear that unless we make it a point to start taking quick actions, we might be unlucky enough to be the victims of climate change.

We all have one planet to live in. Unless we become super rich in the coming years and think of building our own ecosystems in Mars, we should do all that it takes to make this planet a peaceful place to survive.

Header Image Photo by Markus Spiske on Unsplash

Posted in Daily Prompts

How Universal Basic Income Can Fix Our Society During Covid-19


We all know that the Novel Coronavirus has disrupted our lives. It has taken a deadly toll on the self-employed entrepreneurs, underprivileged and workers from unorganized sectors like weavers, handloom workers, fishermen, leather workers, beedi workers, plantation labourers etc. These people lack social security, disability cover, health & maternity benefits, old age protection and other benefits which the organized working sector enjoys. While the IT crowd is busy getting bored infront of a Netflix show, the poor people from the unorganized sector are still struggling to satiate the hunger for their families.

Here is a small story of one of my friends, Kavita, who is staying in the remote part of Karnataka after her marriage. Kavita and her husband were working as accountants in a local timber company. While she used to ensure the bookkeeping of the timber, her husband used to help the manager in smooth operations of the company. Kavita has a 10-year-old daughter studying in Kannada medium school in the same village and has a 3-year-old infant as well. Right after the COVID-19, the local timbre company fired both Kavita and her husband leaving them unemployed.

For a few weeks, everything was manageable as they both found temporary jobs in the same village. It was 3 weeks back that her husband fell from a motorcycle and injured his left leg, leaving him bedridden for the next few weeks. Kavita is the single breadwinner of the family now. While we friends and her relatives sent her some financial help, it was not sufficient for her. The surgery for her husband left her penniless, needing for a proper steady income.

This is not the story of Kavita alone. It is the plight of several such men and women today in India, who are struggling to run the livelihood. More than the pandemic, it’s the fear of financial crunch that is running in their heads right now. June 11, 2020, the National Human Rights Commission (NHRC) of India suggested the United Nations Human Rights Council (UNHRC) regarding the implementation of Universal Basic Income (UBI) as a means to improve the livelihoods of poor people in India who suffered major loss during the COVID-19.

Concept of Universal Basic Income (UBI)

UBI ensures that a fixed income shall be given by the state/Govt to all the underprivileged people. This will help them sustain their livelihood without falling into the hands of extreme poverty.

Before the pandemic outbreak, many countries had already tested the effect of UBI and failed. Partly because most of the economies feared that it will only inculcate the lazy folks in society to take advantage of the scheme. Also, some Govt’s estimated that it will cost them more money to keep up with the funding for many years.

The damaging impact of this pandemic was so high that the % of unemployment in India alone rose from 6.6% in Jan  2020 to straight +25% by the end of April – May 2020. Women who were already spending an average of 3 hours of unpaid domestic care, were forced to take up additional responsibilities of managing both household chores and office work. Men working in unorganized sectors were the first targets of losing jobs. With no income from both the sides, most of the families are now dependent only on the ration distributed by the Govt Labor Dept.

While the adults are suffering from unemployment, the situation is not easy for students and kids as well. Almost 24 million children are at risk of not returning to their schools due to the pandemic states United Nation’s Policy brief on the pandemic’s impact on the education programme. The educational financing gap is likely to increase manifold. More than 1.6B learners across the globe are affected due to COVID-19.

With families having no proper income, the kids, elderly and the other dependents go through extreme mental stress.

How can UBI be the ray of hope?
Most of the countries including the UK, India, France are now considering the option of UBI thinking about the long term benefits that their countries could benefit. The global pandemic was definitely an eye-opener for all those economies who despised at the thought of paying fixed allowances to its citizens. 

Quite contrary to the beliefs made by economists, the trials of UBI had begun almost a few decades ago in countries like Canada, USA and Iran. The benefits were visible but the government had to clamp down the scheme due to the increase in expenses.

Iran, which happens to be the only country to continue funding its UBI programme has shown positive effects of such welfare schemes. Although a majority of people in Iran feared that UBI might be used negatively, what Iran found was a steady increase in the quality of lives. There was an increase in sanitation facilities, people were using the money to start their own businesses, fewer crimes were reported, and most importantly labours did not abandon their current job markets.

Canada also started its trial of fixed pay income in 2017 and mentioned the positive impact it had on the social environment. About 70% of the participants enrolled in the programme were already employed and yet had difficulties in paying their expenses such as rent and food. The fixed income not only helped them pay their expenses, but it also helped their citizens to buy fresh produce from markets and pay for their other miscellaneous expenses. 

Some of the top benefits of UBI are:

  • Increased sense of security
    A fixed income provides a sense of security amongst the people, leading to a decrease in stress and less mental health problems in the state.
  • Reduction in self-harm, crime and abuse
    Financial crunch can be emotionally draining. There are times when the pressing financial need can push a person to start indulging in petty crimes to sustain his livelihood. 67% of prisoners in India are still waiting for bail. Most of them are booked under petty cases for which they do not have money to arrange for their bail papers.
  • Reduced aggression towards Govt.
    Naxals and other extremists use the concept of inequality and twist them for their own benefit. It is evident that, wherever the Govt has failed to provide basic facilities, the Naxals start feeding wrong information in the minds of villagers. This causes a huge loss to Govt in the form of curbing insurgencies and clearing up the mess of bomb blasts, and murders.
  • Increase in small and micro businesses
    A lot of young people today have ideas, but no money to turn their ideas into reality. A small amount of steady income can take their burden off the shoulders and inspire them to grow their own businesses. This also resolves the unemployment issue bothering the Govt every year.

Conclusion:
India is one of the very few countries who halved their MPI (Multidimensional Poverty Index) and achieved the biggest reduction in the number of poor people. But, the pandemic is a huge surprise for all economies across the globe. Nobody anticipated the flu could disrupt our lives to this extent. While we cannot go back in time and prevent the situation, but we can do what we can with the resources that we have.

With lots of people still not returning to their workplaces, and not having any open work opportunities, Govt should do something at the earliest. Time is really running out of our hand, as another family is right now starving to death as we read this. Any amount of income to the poor and underprivileged would definitely cheer them up during these dark times.

Header Photo by Belle Maluf on Unsplash

Posted in Kindle

Book Recommendations During Lockdown


If you are a regular visitor of the social cataloging website “Goodreads”, then you are very well aware of their poor UI. Even after the 2013 acquisition by Amazon, the site still lacks personalization of feed and content discoverability of new books. If you login to Goodreads, chances are more that you will be transported to the old world of 2000’s website.

The listopia by Goodreads is pure gold. It has more than hundreds of recommendations for 100+ genres. But the biggest difficulty is to find the right one. Well, let me help you cut the chase.

During this lockdown, a lot of them have been asking how do you find time to read and where do you find the book recommendations. There is no better time than now to invest your time and energy towards reading a good book. Don’t worry! You might be a person who has never read a book before or is someone like me who cannot sleep without reading a minimum of 10 pages a day. Follow the steps given below, bookmark the webpage and keep it for your future reference.

  1. Visit “Goodreads” on Wikipedia
  2. Hop on to the “Winners” category
  3. Scroll down to your favorite genre and find the best book recommendations from each category.

If you further scroll down in the same page, you will find authors which have won Multiple Awards. It is helpful if you run out of all the book recommendations and are looking for something new.

Isn’t it very simple!

Header Photo by Darwin Vegher on Unsplash

Posted in Daily Prompts

The Happy Secret To Better Work


As part of one of my daily challenges, I vowed myself to watch one TED video every day under each category listed in the TED library. I have corrected my mistakes, laughed like a lunatic at some and learnt some of the best practices shown by world leaders from various walks of life.

I thought it would be great if I can share some of the best videos with you guys. I sincerely hope this weekly series will provide some kind of motivation to you. Feel free to share the video with someone who really needs to see this. After all, sharing is caring!

Today’s Video Category: Work

Topic: The Happy Secret To Better Work by Shawn Achor

Why I recommend this?

People often tell us “Work harder, so that you will succeed faster… and then you might end up becoming happier along the way”. What if someone told you that this theory is broken and leads to ultimate failure in the long run?

Shawn Achor’s TED video is like watching a standup comedy. He is the NY bestselling author of The Happiness Advantage and Big Potential. His main work is about utilising the potential of positive psychology to increase human potential.

Header Photo by bantersnaps on Unsplash

Posted in TED Talks

Art of Seeking Rejection for 100 Days


As part of one of my daily challenges, I vowed myself to watch one TED video every day under each category listed in the TED library. I have corrected my mistakes, laughed like a lunatic at some and learnt some of the best practices shown by world leaders from various walks of life.

I thought it would be great if I can share some of the best videos with you guys. I sincerely hope this weekly series will provide some kind of motivation to you. Feel free to share the video with someone who really needs to see this. After all, sharing is caring!

Today’s Video Category: Adventure

Topic: What I learned from 100 days of rejection by Jia Jiang.

Why I recommend this?

Life is an adventure and filled with rejections and failures along with success. Believe it or not, we all have faced rejection at some point or other. Right from our kindergarten phase to our K-12 and now, even at workplaces, we all have been victims of rejection. The power of rejection cannot be understated. Sometimes, the victim loses his self-confidence. It’s the fear of rejection that stops us from growing to greater heights.

Jia Jang, top keynote speaker on emotional intelligence speaks how we can transform the fear of rejection into a very powerful mechanism to build a new life.

He talks about his experience of facing rejections and addresses the common fears that come along with rejections to every human being. Get ready to laugh and learn the art of facing rejections successfully in your life.

Articles featuring Jia Jang:

Afraid of Rejection? How to avoid it.

How One Entrepreneur Triumphed Over Rejection — 100 Times

This Startup Founder Experienced ‘100 Days of Rejection’ And Learned To Love It: Now He’s A Huge YouTube Star

Header Photo by Priscilla Du Preez on Unsplash

Posted in TED Talks

Appreciate What You Have Before It’s Too Late


A long time ago, there was a man who was quite hesitant when it came to appreciate what he had in his life. He had a wonderful partner and a doting family, yet not even once he had expressed his genuine feelings. Eventually one by one, he lost every person from his life. Year after year, he kept losing people, friends and loved ones. He never had a good chance to sit through those people and tell them how much important or loved he felt in their company. As years kept on rolling, he realised how shallow is life. He neither excelled in his personal life or professional, he neither achieved successful relationships nor valuable networks. In the end, he remained a lonely person throughout his life.

One day, he had a chance to meet a monk. Looking at the frown on the man’s face, the monk asked “Dear friend, what is wrong with you? You seem so worried and look defeated”. To this, the man had tears rolling down his cheeks and he sobbingly told the story of his life. The monk patiently listened to his story and gave him a pitiful look. He said “Mate, that is what life is all about. Death and parting is an inevitable phase of life. That is why it is very important to express your feelings and appreciate the good people when they are alive.”

Feelings of regret usually resurface only once the person is gone from our lives. We never make time for those who genuinely care for us. We seldom realise that each day they are one more moment away from death. As I was browsing through the net, I came across this TED video by award-winning artist Tony Luciani and his journey dementia of his mother. I must say this was by far one of the most heart touching TED talk I had ever seen.

Tony Luciani takes you through his passion for photography in a series of wonderful portraits of his mother. Each photo speaks volumes of how a patient with dementia struggles to live a normal life. It also throws light on how those families struggle along with the patient. It is heartbreaking to see a fragment of their memory breaking down every day. The artist explains the painful moment when his mother forgot to recognise him. Tony’s talk is one of courage, resilience, nostalgia, empathy, and moreover a living tale of making the most of life through art, one frame at a time. People like Tony fill light on the joys of caring for elderly parents. Most importantly, it teaches us to acknowledge and appreciate our loved ones while they are alive.

Header Photo by Melanie Wasser on Unsplash

Posted in TED Talks

Why Every Woman Should See This Video Once A Month


As part of one of my daily challenges, I vowed myself to watch one TED video every day under each category listed in the TED library. I have corrected my mistakes, laughed like a lunatic at some and learnt some of the best practices shown by world leaders from various walks of life.

I thought it would be great if I can share some of the best videos with you guys. I sincerely hope this weekly series will provide some kind of motivation to you. Feel free to share the video with someone who really needs to see this. After all, sharing is caring!

Today’s Video Category: Activism

Topic: Why we have too few women leaders by Sheryl Sandberg

Why I recommend this?

If you are looking for a good TED talk under Activism then this has to be it. This talk by Sheryl Sandberg never gets old. It’s a good reminder for all ladies out there who are dropping off from their workforces every day. Don’t leave before you actually leave. Lean in, and make the best use of the opportunities available for you. Not just women, this video also gives a clear picture for all men who seldom fail to understand what it takes to help ambitious women in their lives.

Header Photo by Bonnie Kittle on Unsplash

Posted in Community Building

Why Listening Is Good For Your Business


Angry customers are your company’s valuable assets. As a Community Manager, I have to admit that, I have taken calls where the user was venting out his frustration with regards to a certain process in the app or a query which was not handled efficiently by the feedback team. I have been on the other side of the phone where the user would go on and on and stop only after he felt he was done with it. This is more common if you are working for apps with a massive DAU. As months go by, some managers choose to ignore and stop taking calls or even worse hear the disgruntled user with no empathy.

Now the big question is does this really help both the parties?

I always believe that most disgruntled users can sometimes be your answer from heaven. They give you a walkthrough of the ignored bugs and missing UI features. There are times when they vent out all the frustration and give you pointers on how your company should be dealing with certain issues. There have been multiple cases where a major product feature was introduced in the app after a heated call with angry users. Businesses could be transformed for better if we try to channelise the anger hidden inside the dissatisfied user into something productive.

As humans, we always avoid confrontations. So is the case with several budding startups. There are very fewer people who welcome negative feedback just like positive feedback. We need to stop responding to unhappy users with templatized email. Some templates can really act like salt on their wounds, waiting only to be petrified and manifesting as a 2-star rating on the PlayStore or AppStore. Or sometimes users uninstalling it even before they complete the whole onboarding cycle. The company not only loses its credibility but also loses loyal users one by one.

We may evade the nasty questions. We may even delete the negative reviews. But will that put an end to the problem of dissatisfaction? Hell no. What then is the way to resolve this constant dissatisfaction amongst your content ecosystem?

Here is one solution which fixes 90% of your problem. When I say problem it includes almost everything right from bad onboarding, bad UI, buggy web pages, slacking in-app features, data draining features, annoying push notifications, unsuitable feeds etc….All of this can be fixed if only we were to sit down with the angry user and listen.

“Always listen to your customer and do not interrupt them.”

There are cases when you might feel “Oh God, the payout button was right near the bottom of the screen… How did this donkey miss”. But instead of telling him directly, we might have to see it from the user’s perspective. We may have to enquire what made him miss the button on the page. The answer might be very simple “Bad in-house donkey designed the misleading UI path”.

Unhappy users not just ruin your PlayStore ratings, but they also act as potential triggers to people who might likely come and download your app in good faith. Word of mouth acts faster than a wildfire. A larger percentage of users still can be brought back to your app with the simple act of listening to their queries wholeheartedly.

Listening is the most underrated skill in the world. Listening to someone uninterrupted for more than 180 seconds is tougher than stopping yourself from eating the doughnut. Your customer is the ultimate jury of your product. No matter who uses your product or not, your customers will use it. They would have painstakingly gone through your whole app and explored it. And when they feel the app doesn’t meet their requirements or did not respond to their queries they take the easier approach. Write a nasty review or shout at your customer service.

Several times the users need a patient ear to hear their sorrow story and respond with empathy. Time and again, you hear that the frustrated user might have a pain point elsewhere… Maybe he just had a bad day or his flaky internet connection got him worked up so much that he did not have the patience to go through the basic troubleshooting steps.

Next time you hear an angry customer, here are few steps that you can follow:

  1. Assess their mood. Respond as per their mood. If someone is already having a grumpy day, do not add more fuel by raising your voice.
  2. Acknowledge and be respectful. Understand that he is a human being first and then your user.
  3. Provide a solution only after he has asked for your advice. Never ever cut the flow of the conversation and try to offer your advice. It is as good as Google offering advice way before you have actually typed the question!

When was the last time you picked up your phone and answered an angry user? If not, then its time to do the drill and most importantly listen to them.

Photo Courtesy by Jopwell from Pexels

Posted in TED Talks

3 Things To Learn From Dead People


The purpose of life is not to be happy.

It is to be useful, to be honorable, to be compassionate, to have it make some difference that you have lived and lived well.

Ralph Waldo Emerson

It’s a common sight to see newspapers carrying obituaries. Whenever someone famous dies, the national dailies pay tribute to them with an exceptional headline and a brief about their achievements. Dead people often give us interesting insights about human life. You learn a lot from their mistakes and their decisions. You understand that even the best of the best people in this Universe never had everything figured out in the beginning. They too had their own share of struggles in their lifetime.

One man from India, Mr Laxman Narayana aka Lux Narayan, CEO & Founder of Unmetric – social media benchmarking & competitive intelligence company began his project dedicated to these obituaries. He thought what if we could put together as many obituaries as possible and studied them one by one. He wondered what could be the main messages that these well-lived people impart the current generation. Throughout a span of two years, he managed to study close to 2000 obituaries published by the New York Times.

With the help of data science, Lux and his team studied the words used to describe these famous people. They took the headers used to describe these people and also took words from the paragrpahs of the obiturary. His study included both famous and non-famous, yet high achievers featured on the New York Times.

Here is what he finally concluded.

True growth happens when you choose your path from your heart.

More than 40% of the people featured in the newspaper led a very diverse life. Their careers were not completely focused on traditional professions like an engineer or a doctor. Instead, they comprised of people from theatre, music, tailoring, fashion designing, architecture, editing, designing etc. They proved it again that in order to be successful, one does not need to pursue only Engineering or Medicine.

All things come to you at their own pace. Patience is the key.

Lux and his team studied the average age at which these people accomplished big feats in their life. He found that the average age was 37. Maybe the current generation needs to slow down a bit and try to understand that it is perfectly okay to not having everything figured out by their 20’s. Nobody has everything sorted then and there. We all make mistakes, a lot of them and learn.

True success is measured by the number of times you have helped people genuinely without ulterior motives.

Lux found that the word “help” stood out very clearly from the whole data of famous vs non-famous people. Their attitude towards helping others in society is what made them so remarkable. It was this unique ability to use their skills to help humanity that made them so big. These people believed in the art of giving.

We all live with plans for our future. But, we need to even remember that life is best understood only when we study our history. History is nothing but chronicles of dead people. They offer so many valuable insights into the current day scenarios. So, the next time you find an obituary, try to stop by and read.

Remember that it is important to live a purposeful life. A life driven with purpose serves as a guiding lamp for hundreds of others who are lost in the modern world chaos. We all have a very limited amount of time on this Earth. Let’s make our lives fruitful while we are alive so that our obituaries will have a thing or two for the future generation to learn.

TED Talk by Lux Narayan

Header Photo by Giammarco Boscaro on Unsplash

Posted in TED Talks

How Boredom Can Lead To Your Most Brilliant Ideas


As part of one of my daily challenges, I vowed myself to watch one TED video every day under each category listed in the TED library. I have corrected my mistakes, laughed like a lunatic at some and learnt some of the best practices shown by world leaders from various walks of life.

I thought it would be great if I can share some of the best videos with you guys. I sincerely hope this weekly series will provide some kind of motivation to you. Feel free to share the video with someone who really needs to see this. After all, sharing is caring!

Today’s Video Category: Addiction

Topic: How Boredom Can Lead To Your Most Brilliant Ideas by Manoush Zomordi.

Why I recommend this?

For years before Kindle came in my life, I was a big addict to Instagram, Twitter and WhatsApp. The constant need to check what others are posting was growing onto me. It has taken me exactly that one hack which Manoush Zomorodi suggests in the TED talk. “Delete the app”.

It was only after I deleted, signed out or snubbed the notifications of these apps, I found liberation from my addiction. Addiction, be it towards drugs or phone is a disease and it should be treated like one. Manoush clearly explains how phones ruin our lives and completely take over our mental space. What do we do then, to escape from boredom? She asks us to allow ourselves to be bored. Boredom can lead us to our most brilliant ideas. And apps like Snapchat, Netflix, Facebook just rob us off from this most important ability. Being bored is not dangerous, for it leads to most brilliant ideas. But, being addicted to apps is definitely dangerous. To know more, go ahead and watch the video.

Header Photo by Ashkan Forouzani on Unsplash

Posted in Kindle

How To Remove Personal Documents Permanently From Your Kindle Device?


If you are a regular subscriber to periodicals, or are in the habit of reading too many PDF documents on your Kindle then it’s a known fact that even after you delete the documents, you can still see them in your Library.

A lot of forums on Google and Quora ask you to factory reset your Kindle. Sometimes people even believe that if they go to Calibre and connect their devices, they can get rid of these documents.

Well, I must say that, even if you do it, there are high chances that the documents still will be found in your Kindle device. But the fact is NONE OF THESE REALLY HELP BRUH!

What then could be the possible solution?

  • Login to Amazon (Depending on your country suffix the .in, .com or .uk)
  • Type this in your browser https://www.amazon.in/myk (Depending on your country suffix the .in, .com or .uk)
  • Manage Your Content & Devices > Content > Select “Docs” > Select the documents which you want to delete > Hit Delete
Snapshot of your Amazon Content Directory
  • Open your Kindle device > Connect Wi-Fi > Sync your Kindle

And you are done! Not only does this action help you delete documents, you can also get rid of your old e-Books lying in your Kindle as well.

Hope this article was helpful. Please leave your comments.

Header Photo by Vikas Pawar on Unsplash

Posted in Daily Prompts

Astrology – A Pseudoscience?


Believe in yourself & the rest will fall into place.

Unknown
Views expressed are strictly personal 
and does not intend to hurt religious 
sentiments of anyone.
(including my dearest Astrologer friends)

One of my dear friends who is in his late 30’s, recently seemed very worried. His parents were looking for a bride and he was going through a tough time. Tough time not because of his age. It was something else. Just like any other arranged marriage, the parents showed him dozens of photos and he had to choose his option(s). After wading through three or four stacks of such photo albums, he managed to finalise his choices on five girls. [Lucky boi…. in spite of the sharp drop in the male : female sex ratio our good friend had the liberty of choosing his life partner].

Out of the five girls, he narrowed down to one and right when he started building a castle of dreams he was awakened by his family members. His elder sister broke his dreams by saying since the horoscopes won’t match the alliance won’t proceed further. Our hero was disheartened, and depressed. This is the story of lots of youngsters who are searching for their life partners based on planetary alignments in this Milky Way Galaxy.

One must not discount the effect of astrology in an Indian household. Astrology is the flag bearer of all decisions here. Matchmaking is just one aspect of this $2.2 billion industry. The fate of a bride and groom are decided by mere tallying of nine planets. All the astrologers majorly consider nine planets into accounting, which is fair enough because the olden day astronomer had the knowledge of only those. But one should not forget the fact that in our Solar system, the modern-day astronomers have discovered 12 planets. Who knows, it can grow even more with the advancement of new technology available in today’s world.

Somehow the whole table of astrologers still needs a minor update because the central hypothesis of astrology depends on the impact of the planets on our lives. I have not come across any astrologer who factors the other planets as well in his calculations. Probably that is why some of the theories in astrology are still considered as pseudoscience in the West. There has been no scientific validity carried over by scientists to inspect the element of truth in those theories.

In spite of knowing all this, in Mumbai locals, we still find bills from Astrologers with Sai Baba or Kali Maa photos and claiming they can do black magic and help you attain whatever you want in life. Do these so-called soothsayers even know of the Indian Laws? Claiming to provide remedies for black magic is a punishable offence under anti-black magic laws in states of Maharashtra and Karnataka.

On the other hand, even if I want to believe in astrology there are times when the real-life evidence completely negate what the astrologers have predicted. Like the Mayans predicting June 2020 is the end of the world… Duh! And a couple of my friends who eloped and got married in spite of the ultimatum given by their parents and astrologers. The family priest even said the guy will die shortly after the marriage. My good friend regularly goes for K2K rides and he is still alive. #Touchwood!

Also, if we go back to the sexagenarian folks still alive around us, you might see that a lot of them got married without having any astrologer intervention in their marital lives. These people are still together and are happy with each other’s companionship. These incidents further pushed me away from believing astrology as a driving factor to determine the chances of a happy relationship. There are plenty of families, who jumped into this calculated arranged marriages and have seen both the bride and groom applying for divorce shortly after marriage. Mind you, these are the same couples who had 30+ Gunas matching with each other. So how did Astrology fail?

This made me strongly believe that Astrology is pseudoscience. Sometimes predictable and many times unpredictable. One cannot completely depend on astrologer’s predictions and stop working hard in their life. If an astrologer said you have a Gajakesari Yoga, it means you have a good chance of amassing a fortune. It does not guarantee that you will end up becoming a very influential person without putting your efforts. It also does not mean that you quit your job and while away your time, waiting for the Gaja Kesari yog to feed your stomach. History is a testimony for those umpteen number of accidental lottery winners who win big and lose exponentially in just a matter of time. There is nothing like good luck or bad luck. You either win or lose. Either way, you end up learning lessons in your life.

Similarly, just because the couple passed the 36 guna test, does not validate for the fact that the guy and the girl will stay together forever. Both parties have to equally invest in their relationships and work hard every day. It’s not enough to love your partner for the first few months and suddenly stop loving her the day you get to know she is maangalik or discovers that her Sade Sati [the most difficult 7.5 years of astrological phase] is about to begin tomorrow.

A strong belief in one’s own self is needed. It is heartbreaking that several couples chose to abandon their partners when they get to know that their future is going to be rocky due to some calculations in the Hindu astrology. Equally idiotic it does seem when people take it for granted that “acche din” (good days) are ahead of them and stop working towards their dreams and goals. God helps those who help themselves. Unless we put our hard work, no astrologer can change our fates in a day’s time.

Header Photo by Josh Rangel on Unsplash

Posted in Daily Prompts

Bye Bye Chinese Apps. Now What??


I am uninstalling Chinese products. Bye TikTok. Bye Helo

Anonymous Influencer on Instagram the other day

I love my 5 lakh family on TikTok, but today on my show I am uninstalling TikTok, PayTM etc

Famous anchor on BTV

I love my TikTok family, it has given me so much love and everything but it’s time for me to support the greater love for my country. So I will now be available on Roposo, Trell, IG …

Another influencer on TikTok

It’s clear that the ongoing bilateral talks between India and China are the most speculated and talked about subjects all over the social media platforms. Adding to all of this, the rage-fuelled in the hearts of people after the Galwan valley incident seems totally justified. 20 Indians death including that of a CO is not something that we can shrug it off saying “this too shall pass”.

The nation is shell shocked at the way things turned out in the valley claiming the lives of our soldiers. The quick reaction of Indians was to uninstall Chinese apps from their phones and quickly trend #banchineseproducts without even paying heed to the global dependency of economies on a country like China. Within hours, even before fact-checking, people started sharing WhatsApp stories and memers were busy framing their IG posts around how Japan shunned away US products. They urged the nation to stop supporting a list of apps which included TikTok, Mi Community, Likee, Bigo etc. I have something for my friends who shared the Japan meme. If you still believe Japan’s ban on USA products here is something you should not read. [Because after reading that you will only regret why did you share the meme]

Since I work at TikTok, a lot of Creators whom I manage started messaging me one after the other asking about the current state of affairs. This included people who were worried about their TikTok profiles and the other half who were already in the mindset of uninstalling the app. A lot of Creators were pushing me to convince the latter to prevent them from uninstalling the app. And my two questions for them was:

Will my convincing stop them from uninstalling TikTok? Hell No.

Will the existence or non-existence of TikTok affect their lives? Hell No.

TikTok is just a fun app. Uninstalling this app does not stop their livelihood. That is why it’s so easy to do it and showcase their support towards the ongoing cacophony. What they are missing to comprehend amidst the noise is that more than 50+ top startups are funded by Chinese investors. Not just that, India is one of the largest importers of active pharmaceutical ingredients [API’s] from China. Our Sports, Fitness and Clothing industry also gets its raw materials and ready-made stuff from China. One should not forget that the desi Indian made tee which we all might be flaunting would have travelled more than us to China, Hong Kong and made its way to the streets of Mumbai.

Right from Amazon Kindle to your expensive Mac Books, every electronic gadget is having atleast one part which has been “Made in China”. China’s export value as of today might be around $2.5 trillion. Global economies are dependent on China for goods like your personal computers, mobile phones, solar cells, AC compressors, Shoes, Cement, Energy-Saving lamps, Ships, Coal etc. Anyone who wants to set up a new gym or dojo knows that the best quality equipment and efficient ones are always Chinese. Not that the European made dumbbells or boxing gloves are inferior. It’s just that the Chinese ones are cost-effective on a longer run. In a capitalistic society, the business owners especially the Micro, Small & Medium Enterprises (MSME)’s are more inclined towards reducing the production costs, thereby increasing the overall profits. Chinese goods facilitate this intention of MSME’s very quickly. It is at this point we should reconsider our move of uninstalling an app with a few MB’s from our smartphones.

How many apps can we uninstall? How many TV’s or AC’s can we destroy now? Or even worse how many Indians are ready to ditch their Mi phones and go for Samsung by paying exactly double the price and getting the low-quality phone in return? While I am not saying what these youngsters did was bad, but my only concern is that youth should not blindly follow the trend. They should be well informed. Patriotism should not turn into jingoism.

To be more precise, we need to acknowledge that our dependence on China is not from the past few decades. It started approximately 207 BCE – 220 CE as part of the silk route. It’s time to revisit our pasts.

TED Ed Video on Silk Route and its effects on various cultures across the world

I want the youth to understand that way before the COVID outrage, the Bubonic Plague also made its way via the silk road and claimed the lives of millions of people across nations. What paved as an excellent means to spread languages and the wide-spread of Buddhism also took a toll on lives. So, it’s now very clear that pandemics are very hard to control. It spreads like wildfire at times when we are not prepared fully. But the youth seems to be blind towards the whole gamut of economical situations going on in India right now.

Have we given a thought as to what would happen if the media keeps fuelling the ongoing cacophony? The boycott is going to trickle down its chills to all sectors slowly one by one. Importing goods from our European counterparts are not going to be cost-efficient, especially during these times when Govt is taking your hard-earned tax money and coming up with new schemes like Garib Kalyan Rojgar Abhiyan. The Govt has to take our help to support the needy sections of the society. And we should be supporting the initiatives instead of immaturely name-calling BJP or Congress. We are still coming out of the lockdown and slowly adjusting to the macros of the economic conditions of India.

If we want to compete against China then we need to understand their vision and their big plan of dominating International Trade. Without understanding our neighbour’s strategy we will never be able to compete with them at a larger level. So, the question is can we reduce our dependency from this nation? The answer is maybe [if we all put a lot of hard work]

Our youth should stop concentrating on quick fame and should focus on upskilling themselves in vocational skills. Are the fame addictive youth ready for this great sacrifice for the sake of this country’s decrease in dependency on our neighbour? China, whose economy was once dwindling is now bigger than our economy. Ever gave a thought how did it happen? [If you are curious then I have something for you at the very end of this article]

While our youngsters are busy shooting 60s videos and posting 24 hours disappearing IG stories, China would be silently working towards building its mighty One Belt One Road initiative.

China’s Trillion Dollar Plan To Dominate Global Trade

These are tough times. Agreed.

Our nation lost brave soldiers. Agreed.

COVID-19 has taken its toll on our entire economy. Agreed.

What happened in Galwan cannot be ignored. Agreed.

But what is totally stupid is an uninstall of few apps which consume no less than 40MB space in our China-made phone [95% of all phones that we use atleast have one component which is imported from China]. Even if we were to, we may but stop showcasing it with all the pomp and jazz around it.

As I said earlier, patriotism is good. It’s good to be a rebel. But we should all be rebels with a cause and strategy. Without a strategy, we will never be able to be completely self-reliant.

Jai Hind!

For more understanding, I suggest you go through this video which clearly explains the rise of China and as the TED speaker predicted how it has become super powerful in 2020.

Header Photo by chuttersnap on Unsplash

Posted in Daily Prompts, Kindle

How Are Big Goals Achieved?


We have almost crossed half a year, and it’s time to have a quick look at our goals. Some of them would have started off 2020 with rosy resolutions on January 1, like reading x number of books a year, or hitting the gym three times a week etc.

How far have you all reached? If you have already halfway on your journey to achieve your resolutions then well done my pal! You are on the way to achieve glory.

If you ask me, last year I sucked at a lot of things and excelled in many more areas. This year the history repeated itself. Series of failures, followed by corrections in my own habits which led to success in achieving goals. I have to give some credit to Mr Brian Tracy here. Because without him, even this year my goals would have gone down the drain.

In his book, GOALS!: How To Get Everything You Want — Faster Than You Ever Thought Possible, Brian emphasized on a whole set of dos and dont’s. Out of everything, the only thing I remember is the following:

  1. Write your goals down
  2. Hold yourself accountable for them
  3. Believe in yourself and go after it.

I would like to add one more line here.

Never be hard on yourself.

While you are on your journey to achieve goals, there are times when your goals might wander off, you may lose focus. You might take some time to realise that you have strayed away, which is perfectly okay. By choosing to be kind on your own self, you are helping yourself to stick to your goals again. Being hard on yourself will only push you towards non-performing zone leading to anxiety, frustration and disappointment.

Whenever you want to achieve any goal/habit, you need to simply start making it a part of our lifestyle. Like if you want to remain fit for your whole life, starting off with 2 hours of gymming is a bad move. Instead, starting off with 10 – 15min of simple workouts could be a great starter. Once you make the 15-minute routine as a part of your daily lifestyle, you may now increase the interval from fifteen minutes to twenty-odd minutes. In this way, gradually over a period of time, there are chances of you not missing the gym and consistently meeting your fitness goals every day.

Similarly, if you want to inculcate reading as a habit in your life then start carrying a book everywhere. If you know you have to wait in a long queue or stand during your way to the office, then it’s time to open your book/kindle and start reading a few paragraphs. Remember what I said earlier, never jump into big steps immediately. Start small. Once your brain gets used to the fact of reading for two or three pages, you may now jump to a whole chapter. If you want to write 10 blogs a month, start by writing your first paragraph then another followed by a blog post in the first few weeks. Once you are familiar with the process, then you may gradually increase your posting frequency. Never set unrealistic expectations to spoil your fair chance of winning those rosy dreams you dreamt on January first.

It is important to remember that there will always be that initial discomfort when you are about to start a new routine, new habit, or do something completely out of your comfort zone. Acknowledge it. Note the discomfort in a diary and keep going with your goals until you achieve end results. Doing the same thing religiously for more than forty to fifty days will surely remap the neurological paths in your brains leading to better results. Consistency ultimately beats natural talent. Never compare your goals with others or your pace with other people around you. Your only competitor should be you, yourself!

Tell me how do you plan to work on your goals in the coming weeks. I am excited to know.

Header Photo by Estée Janssens on Unsplash

Posted in Daily Prompts, Kindle

How an Indian Developed A Top Notch FOSS For Readers Across The World


Necessity is the mother of all inventions.

sony e reader
Sony E-Readers

If I were to ask you to name one device to read books right now, your answer would be Amazon Kindle or Kobo. But little do we all know that way before Amazon came and dominated the e-Reader market, Sony was the pioneer in it.

Sony ruled the e-reader market with its flagship products like Sony PRS T1, T2, RS350 etc. In fact, Sony was the first company in the world to launch the world’s first commercial e-reader back in 2006.

They called their cute e-readers as PRS [Portable Reader System]. These devices had to be loaded with books purchased by Sony eBook library available in countries like US, UK, Japan, Germany etc. These devices were still evolving and were a far fetched dream for Indians who were sniffing books on the roadside second hand book-wallah’s or visiting prestigious book stores in their cities to buy heavy paperbacks. I too was one amongst them. I still have vague memories of visiting those narrow lanes of Avenue Road in Bangalore to buy all those Indie Novels at half-price. Imagining the thought of having a personal library of my own, with racks and racks of books stacked one against another was just a daydream. It was only in 2018, after reading in actual Kindle Oasis borrowed from my good old friend Krishnan, I was able to finally decide on purchase of a device which was purely meant only for reading.

Almost everyone who has had Kindle App on their iPads or phones or ones who have actually gone ahead and bought an actual e-Reader all go through one common problem. The device supporting only specific formats of books only for reading. A pdf, or.docx document can be easily read on iPad or laptop but try that on an e-Reader, the small grey-scale screen turns you off. This restricts any reader from consuming a ton of books every month. Not everyone can afford every book from e-book stores. To solve this million-dollar problem, a guy who was studying at the California Institute of Technology [CalTech] wrote a small software called libprs500. The objective of this software was to convert the existing file into a readable format for an e-Reader. This young man by the name Kovid Goyal went a step ahead and created a graphical user interface for this software which is now being called Calibre. The word “libre” in Calibre stands for freedom.

Readers who had hundred of e-books on their computers now found a new way to transfer them to their expensive e-Readers and start reading them just like any other e-Book. All that was made possible by Calibre – the new open-source e-book management suite free for all to modify and convert all sorts of e-book formats to files which were compatible with their respective e-reading devices. Thousands of people who now have books downloaded from Telegram and other DRM free portals are now able to convert the books and read seamlessly on their reading devices. Kovid’s contribution has benefited readers across the world and it is now one of the top 50 must-have Softwares for all book-readers.

How can a person who consumes digital books benefit from Calibre?

Calibre nearly does everything that an ordinary reader would want to extract the last bit of their expensive e-readers.

  1. Helps you manage your dozens of books that you had shoved in your small e-reader [We all know how clumsy it becomes to start dragging and removing books one by one on any e-reader]
  2. The software can be used offline as well.
  3. Calibre can be used to fetch news from over 1500 authentic news sources which include more than 10 National News dailies from India and several hundred from across the world. This is very helpful for someone who wants their papers to be delivered to their Kindle every day at 6AM.
  4. It’s a one-stop software which will help view any e-book in pdf, kpx, .mobi, .epub and many more formats.
  5. Not just newspapers, you can also download content from magazines available on the net. Quite relieving if you are willing to consume as much content as possible without spending much money.
  6. You can even collate all the important RSS syndications, make your own recipe and schedule it every day for a particular time to be delivered to your Kindle.
  7. You can edit metadata of books in your collection and be a librarian yourself.

What started as a project during his free-time in Caltech has now completed ten long years. By far, everyone who has used Calibre agrees to the fact that the UI sucks but it is one of the top-notch Free or Open Source Software [FOSS] available in the market.

No wonder, the software has won hearts from more than 200+ countries. Out of 236 countries where Calibre is available, Spain, USA and Germany are the top three consumers of this software.

The Economist, The Hindu, NewYorker Magazine are the top three custom news sources accessed by readers across the world via Calibre. Being open-source software, one can easily modify the software as per their needs. For a market like e-books, where huge corporations like Amazon, Barnes & Noble monopolized the purchase rates of books, Kovid’s Calibre broke the monopoly.

He freed readers to access whatever they like and read however they wish to. Calibre had something for every kind of reader. Even for non-book savvy, it made a customized wizard which let them configure news and make it automated to be sent to their devices every day.

If you connect your Kindle email address to Calibre, then rest assured that you will get all the news updated regularly on a daily basis delivered to your Kindle at the desired time.

Even while commuting or standing in a long queue, this feature makes your life sorted as you are constantly accompanied by information wherever you go.

Isn’t it time to take a minute to appreciate the inventor of this brilliant software created by an Indian? Some might still grumble that the UI sucks and the website still follow the old-school methodology of presenting its manual. But who cares? As long as you are able to manage your e-books in whatever format seamlessly without tampering your private information, it’s okay. Calibre is known to be very transparent and the software does not store any of your personal data.

In a world full of money-making, greedy, publisher friendly market, Calibre has surely become a boon. It has opened doors to all those readers who want to read anywhere and anyhow. I have seen hundreds of students who are now using Calibre to consume knowledge every day without even spending a single penny. Knowledge is available across the world, but are the corporations making it accessible to common readers was a big debate for many years. We are glad someone like Kovid came forward to address this issue.

To know more about Kovid Goyal and his other projects you may visit his old website.

To download Calibre for your systems or mobile phones you may click here.

Header Photo by Markus Spiske on Unsplash
Posted in Daily Prompts

Here’s Why You Should Stop Blaming Govt EveryDay


Opinions expressed are solely personal.

March 25, 2020, is going to be a memorable day in the history of India. The Government announced a nationwide lockdown, bringing its entire economy to a halt for the sake of our nation’s well being. Nobody could have envisioned that what started as a pandemic in China, would escalate so quickly and spread like a wildfire. Organizations across India asked their employees to work from home. Daily wage workers were asked to stay put wherever they are. Doctors and forefront workers, cops and officials took the burden of controlling this pandemic. The government appealed all the employers of daily wage workers that they should not cut their wages nor fire them from work. The government also assured that their daily food requirements would be borne jointly by Central Govt and State Govt.

Celebrities started getting busy with their #lockdownlife posts on IG. Here and there people could see non-stop announcements made by the Government to stay inside their homes. People were asked to leave their houses only at certain timings and that too, only for essential services. The Government even made sure stocking up of grains or vegetables were not needed. In spite of all this, daily we were seeing hundreds and hundreds of migrants taking the walk under the hot sun. Walking miles away, with their bags and kids on top of their heads, their faces severely suntanned and dehydrated. It was very distressing.

Quite quickly the national media started covering it, and this attracted all celebrities, influencers, several NGO’s, Govt officials, volunteers to go out and start distributing ration supplies enough for a month to the migrants. The media started slowly covering all of this by zooming in and zooming out each person a thousand times. It’s a very well known fact that most of the channels are backed by one or the other political party in India. It did not take much time for channels to take undue advantage of the situation. They started poisoning the minds of people by saying “It’s the fault of Government that it did not make apt arrangements for the migration of these workers”.

Just like hundreds of online Tiddi Dal [Locust Swarm], the Tiddi’s of Twitter started tweeting relentlessly tagging each party and the mud-slinging started. We could see party workers of each side taking cheap shots at each other, while the migrant workers were marching one step at a time towards their native places. Nothing stopped them from walking. No media, no relief centre, nothing ever could assure them that their voices are heard. None of them actually addressed the root cause for the worst migration of the decade.

In the hindsight, nobody ever gave a thought about what made the migrants leave the cities, after all, they had travelled all the way from their native places to stay here. Was it the lockdown? Was it their panic state? Or was it the Corona? The answer is none of these. The problem was very simple. When the lockdown was announced, the government expected a very simple gesture from its fellow citizens. i.e to follow basic gesture of humanity. In other words, the Government pleaded its educated citizens to be kind to the homeless, destitute and BPL citizens. But what did we do?

In my own residential complex, the secretary fired all the security guards and maids. He made sure only one guard and one maid was retained. In the neighbourhood buildings, similar scenes were happening. In a residential colony, where the maids spent a maximum of 1 hour at every home were ousted because the secretary was afraid of the pandemic. Several factories, and small scale employers, hoteliers, darshini hotel owners, automobile service station owners, milk diaries, everyone started shunning these migrants away. Within a matter of 48 hours, the reality was very clear for the daily wage worker. There is no work left for them which means they have to either move to another place or in short better return to their own home towns. With whatever little money was left, all the poor worker could do was to pack his bags and leave. One can only imagine what would have gone through his mind, looking at the eyes of his family members and the small kids waiting for food. It’s terrible and scary.

Indian railways and Govt of India opened access to free food. Lakhs of meals were supplied to all migrants at each node. Several IAS officers started making alternate arrangements for these migrant factory workers and poor people. Several government officials donated a day’s salary to PM-CARES fund.

For a country as massive as India, with a population of over 136 Cr+ people, it was a bold decision to stop the economy, incur losses, all for the well being of its citizens. My Gov introduced dedicated Telegram channels to spread correct information and appointed several district and state officials to help people get passes. Arogya Setu app – Indian Government’s Contact Tracing, Syndromic Mapping and Self Assessment tool was asked by public to download. The app crossed 100 million installs within 40 days. Indian Airforce worked ceaselessly in the transportation of essential medicines to all state capitals. Women self-help groups from remote parts of India started making masks on large scale to bridge the gap of deficit in the availability of masks.

Jointly, several government bodies and eminent social personalities came forward to help bust the myths related to Corona. All India Radio FM Channels continuously started broadcasting dedicated programmes where people can ask any kind of doubt they had on the pandemic. Several people from remotest parts of Assam, Sikkim and Meghalaya were constantly calling and asking their queries on the radio show. PM Modi was a regular appearance on all national channels. His message on being self-reliant [aatma nirbhar] was broadcasted and memers made a joke out of it. Troll pages started feeding on this because they were sitting cosily on an armchair and busy critiquing the government.

Meanwhile, our twitter brothers started long threads of how the BJP government fractured the whole economy and is not enabling safe transportation of migrants etc. It did not stop at this. They started trending various hashtags every day. It was so easy you see, to use 280 characters from their smart keypads and accuse the government and its system with direct references to Part 3 of the Constitution of India. 

See that is where we all faltered. It was very easy to say fundamentals were not covered, this and that. It was even easier to Wiki something on Constitution of India and twistedly tweet it. What missed out from our own people was a quick self-assessment on our display of national character.

How many of them did a quick glance on Part IV A of our Constitution?

For those of us who are still scratching our heads, here is Part 1V A [Article 51 A] in the Constitution of India which reads:

article 51a constitution of india

They say tough times build character. When the Government asked us to stay inside homes, how many of us violated? When the liquor ban was lifted, how many of us behaved sheepishly without following social distancing? When the lockdown was being eased out, how many people violated the basic precautions every time? Every time the Govt eased out some regulation, the numbers would quickly soar, the green zone would rapidly become red. Seeing this, the Govt extended the lockdown, brought Shramik trains, started safe migration of workers. Here and there the planning definitely went haywire, we all know that. But, let’s say if we were to be PM of India for a day… would we be 100% perfect if a pandemic like Corona attacks our nation?

Let’s keep Modi aside, be it any PM, everyone would definitely make some errors here and there. Modi is no exception. To err is human. Some of them blame the government for poor healthcare and infrastructure. This comment of poor infra came from an NRI friend of mine. A brief stay in the US of A, makes him feel that the Indian Government is a chutiya. What about the USA now? We all know how much of drama came out of POTUS, the shouting matches at White House between media and Trump and not to forget his recent withdrawal from WHO.

Why drifting to USA, when we have better examples of our own citizens chutiyapa here right in India! One of my friends is a physician. We all know, how the lockdown has been very hard on self-employed, people facing entrepreneurs. Private doctors were the worst sufferers. This doctor friend of mine happened to start her clinic few weeks back and even though she keeps it open for just a few hours, she constantly battles the social distancing issue between sick patients. In spite of the loud announcements on media, it seems that people just don’t get it. The patients keep getting closer to each other and the doctor with all the right PPE [Personal Protection Equipment] feels scared to prolong her duty hours. Right from day one, crowd control is becoming a major issue. If educated citizens do not follow the social distancing and precautionary measures, what can we expect from illiterate folks? Today I read in a national daily, that instead of taking the scientific approach to prevent Corona, several groups of women in Assam and Chattisgarh are now worshipping Corona as an angry goddess. According to them, the goddess is angry and if they worship her, the chances of Corona Maatha leaving this country is very high.

Corona is a deadly pandemic. It has halted several nations and crippled economies across the world. There are hundreds of unsure circumstances that IAS, IPS officers across the nation are fighting. Crowd control, distribution of medicines to every nook and corner of the country, hospital management, vacant beds and ICU equipment replenishment… not one or two… Forefront workers are facing the worst nightmare of their lives. Nobody tweets about these. Instead all are indulging in the black sabbath of blaming the Government and defending their own interests.

It is very hard to control and satisfy the needs of ten members in a joint family. Imagine the onus on Govt to handle lakhs of casualties on a daily basis. What our neighbour China did, or Italy did should not affect us. Because we are a very diverse country with a democratic political system. Nobody can trust what China is publishing on its tactics of preventing Corona. Also, let’s not forget we are not a very disciplined crowd from ages. We pee where the signboard of “Yahan pishaap karna mana hain”, We spit where the signboard clearly says “No spitting”. We are still a country where online frauds are done by a 10th class drop-out and the victim is a graduate from Tier 1 college. Our degrees cannot be a yardstick to our common civil behaviour.

This lockdown did lock us down, but not the way India was locked down during 1975 – 1977 [Remember there was this thing called Emergency?]. Educate your neighbours that the unlock of lockdown is not a celebration. Its testing time for our national character. Let’s be responsible citizens and cooperate with the forefront workers aka the Corona warriors. This time not by pounding plates but by being a responsible citizen and not tweeting blatantly without fact-checking from our end.

Jai Hind!

Header Photo by Pedro Céu on Unsplash

Posted in Daily Prompts, Kindle

Why I Ditched Reading Self Help Books?


Disclaimer: If you are a huge fan of Sadhguru, Osho, Gaur Gopal Das, Robin Sharma then please do not read any further. There is nothing that would kindle your interests.

“Success is what you do….” – said some author in some book which I don’t even remember now. Half of the self-help material which I consumed voraciously over the past few years are now vaporized completely from my brains. All that I now remember is that “Never Ever Give Up… Keep Going”. Simple, straight and direct-to-my-brain!

As a book worm, one of the most common questions asked by your fellow book-nerds is “What’s your favourite genre?”. Three years back, I would excitedly square my shoulders and say “Self-Help & Motivational Books”. Well, that was me about 3 years back.

After reading around dozens of self-help books, all the way from Robin Sharma to Ramakrishna Mission, all I found was each one beats around the bush to say the same old thing. As one of my good old Goodreads friend said “All self-help books are nothing but pure word play”.

Since the day, I started reading IT by Stephen King, I have ditched the whole self-help category and have embraced thriller, horror, supernatural and non-fiction category. I am not even regretting my decision now.

How did this transformation happen? In the year 2018, I was completely reading a series of self-help books in order to maintain my peace of mind. As I was reading these books, there came a point when my brain completely stopped reacting to all those flowery words like “Discipline, Dedication, Motivation, Arise, Awake..etc etc”. It was then I started searching for that one book which would kick start my desire to consume books again. My mind started looking out for a different kind of stimulation. I tried varieties of self-help books until I gave up and turned to Mr.King accidentally. Since then, there is no turning back. The King of Horror for sure has his way of drawing readers and make them addicted.

My first book by King was, “On Writing: A Memoir of the Craft” by Stephen King. It stole my heart. I highly recommend this book for everyone who wants to be a writer someday in their life. After this book, I then moved on to autobiographies, Kannada short stories, books on investing, history and Indian polity, International relations etc.

Surprisingly the old NCERT textbooks started seeming very interesting to me. Especially the literature textbooks. What was drudgery to study and pass marks now seemed like excellent companions and guides to life. The poems which we had to study with a red eye, now made so much sense.

Having said that, do I completely despise the whole self-help genre? Hell no. Who is going to save my sleep after reading a hundred pages of Stephen King?? Who is going to make me feel happy when the whole world is collapsing around me? Self-help has now become like a pickle. I go and infer only those parts which are pragmatic to my lifestyle. Just because an author says wake up at 4AM and run till 7AM, I won’t be doing it. Why? If I look at my own routine, I am a night owl. I am highly productive only after the sun sets down and the lunar clock starts ticking.

One of the biggest advice I would like to give to my younger self is to not completely rely on one genre. That’s a terrible mistake I did. As readers, we need to have a more open view of our whole world. We need to read all sorts of books. The good, bad, ugly, intolerable, mind-numbing and torturous ones too. That is when you will truly decipher what truly interests your grey cells and what does not. Exploring other genres has definitely made my reading journey invigorating. I can clearly see how my point of view about the basic human mind has started to shift.

Too much horror or too much non-fiction is also never good. One needs to maintain an ideal balance of all genres in order to develop his purview about society. Human beings come in all shapes, sizes, and from a variety of backgrounds. Stories are nothing but a compendium to the psyche of society. The characters, no matter how gruesome, scary, nerve-racking they are, we have to understand that they are not solely a figment of the one’s imagination. In some or the other part of the world, we do find psychopaths willing to turn Stephen King’s words into reality. There is no guarantee that Hannibal Lecter was purely a work of fiction. Who knows, what inspired Thomas Harris to come up with such kind of sick, and pure ingenious of a character?

That is why my suggestion to my fellow readers is that read what is edible by your brains. Read what nourishes your soul. Just because thousands of readers have voted a book five star does not mean it is tailor-made for you. Your taste could be very different from what your girlfriend/wife or the next-door neighbour reads. Take your time… and read slowly. When you mindfully think about the book after having finished it, ask yourself “Did this book make me happy? How do I feel”. If you feel terrible, then its time to ditch the book/genre/author. Life is too short to bear the torture of something which your brain hates to the core.

I am now curious to know what are you reading during this lockdown? Have you signed up for any challenges yet? If not, check these cool challenges hosted by Goodreads. In case you want to go by the reader’s choice then here is the list for you. In case you want to start your own 2020 Reading Challenge then here is something you would love to participate. Work, sleep, waste time, cook food, put your baby to sleep, go for a walk…. above all spend at least 5 minutes every day reading a few lines. It surely has some astounding benefits in the long run.

Header Photo by  Lacie Slezak on Unsplash

Posted in Daily Prompts

Are You Prepared For The Post COVID-19 World?


Just when I was about to open my Yoga mat and begin my workout, I was rattled by a series of messages on WhatsApp and Messenger. I learned, to my dismay, that Chiru Sarja – the famous Kannada star had died due to cardiac arrest. What followed next was a series of images of he and Meghna Sarja happily smiling during their wedding videos shown on TV a couple of years back. My heart went out for Meghna as she was pregnant and fate had something different planned for both the mother and the child. Life is really unpredictable.

Losing a partner is one of the most painful events that can happen to anyone. One person departs from the world, leaving the other partner completely alone with hundreds of memories which keep haunting you until you choose to make peace with it. Sometimes, this process of arriving at peace takes months, years and sometimes even decades. If you are fortunate enough, God sends some help here and there to provide some relief to the grieving heart. Whatever having said and done, pain is personal to every human being. Unless we decide to move on, nobody on this planet can make you move on from the pain of bereavement.

After losing several people in my life, some due to unprecedented incidents and some due to cruel fate, I can say one thing very clearly, life is very short to waste time on things like doing dusbmash videos on “Bored In The House” song by Tyga.

Okay, I’m bored in the house and I’m in the house bored (bored)

Bored in the house and I’m in the house bored (bored)

Bored than a muhfucka in the house bored

And I’m bored than a muhfucka in the house bored

Bored in the house, Tyga

Right when COVID -19 was at its peak, lakhs of teenagers and celebs were grooving to this song expressing their boredom inside their well-furnished cosy apartments. I wonder have they ever thought of how the world would now transform after this pandemic.

There is a reason, why we all have been given this precious life. It’s to our best abilities that we should make the finest use of our time on this Earth. The other day, I saw an email from Coursera saying they are opening free access to more than 3000 courses for students who are willing to upskill themselves for the post COVID world.

In addition to this, the email also had stated that Coursera is now extending the offer to earn free certificate for more than 100+ courses till July 31, 2020. These include courses for career development for existing employees in organizations, language courses for aspiring translators, courses for high-school students, courses for those who are interested in health and well-being etc. More than 5000 universities have collaborated together to make this happen. Isn’t it awe-inspiring to just sit at the comfort of your home and earn a degree?

Right as I am typing all of this, I can hear my neighbours playing thumping music 24*7 and wasting time watching Netflix and lolling away their time. I wonder what would they do once they get to know the jobs are not going to be the same as before. The workplaces will not be willing to accommodate more people and are more likely to cut down half their workforces due to the plummeting economic conditions. And yet another day I got a call from one of the famous TikTokers saying he is really upset that his likes and views are not the same anymore and he feels the world has already forgotten him.

After hearing him for about twenty minutes, I asked him what is it that keeps him awake at night. I expected an answer like “My dreams and goals etc etc”. He proved me wrong instantly by saying “I’m worried about my consistent loss of followers…and…bla bla bla”.

He just lost me right at that sentence. Rest all was just gibberish for me. I wonder what would he do if one day the platform chooses to axe his content or pull down his whole profile? What skills does he possess to feed his family two square meals?

It is very evident from the above scenario that instant gratification has crippled our youth permanently. They have lost primordial skills of hunting a job, standing in long lines for just a role in a movie, slogging day and night to come home and study for a competitive exam.

All these skills have now been replaced by a small device called smartphone in front of which they set a ring-light and get drowned in the death lights. While the jazz and fame of staying connected with fans are all fine, but how long is it going to stay? Are you armed for the post COVID world where your existing skills are never taken the same way as it was taken before? I am not instilling the fear of oblivion, instead, I am just throwing an open-ended question to see how many of us are really geared up for the next revolution.

Come what may, it’s a well-known fact that the future is never going to be the same after this pandemic. We have to stay relevant or die. Evolution is merciless. It has no place for weak players. Survival is possible only for those who are willing to evolve and adapt quickly. A few million years ago, say during the mesolithic or neolithic age, homo sapiens took decades to adapt. For them, life was like a marathon. But today’s rapidly changing conditions are not conducive for such kind of slow-paced learning. Today’s world is filled with sprints. You finish a sprint – learn – move on. There is literally no time to sit – ponder – sob – then pick yourself up. Unpredictability is on the rise. One moment you are there, another moment you are gone. We cannot afford for the perfect conditions to make our dreams happen. The world belongs to those who quickly understand who they are, what they can do and how can they achieve their dreams quickly. Therefore it’s our duty to be cautious and not continue the precarious way of living our lives.

Header Photo Courtesy: niklas_hamann on Unsplash

Posted in Daily Prompts

Mindful Ways To Beat Insomnia


With the great lockdown, almost all of my friends and colleagues are facing one issue common throughout this whole period i.e. INSOMNIA. Almost 2/3rds of my friends are working late night or sitting behind their Macbook’s typing some random shit or pretending as if it’s still not time to go bed.

I would be lying if I said that I am getting good sound sleep here.

Recently there was a health and wellness session in our office, and there was a poll on Zoom. It asked how many hours of sleep do we all get? A majority of them responded having less than 6 hours of sleep. There were still some 18% of people who still had around 9-10 hours of sleep everyday. [No point in envying those sleeping beauties]

During the months of Feb, March and April, my insomnia escalated to an extent that it started building irritability, lack of focus, staggered dip in my productivity and disturbed sleep patterns. It was not too late when I started noticing those panda-like dark circles under my eyes. Each day was a broken record of varying wake-up times. One day I would happily wake up at 5:30am and feel like I have conquered the world, only to wake up the next day at 8:45am. The pattern continued and completely wrecked my personal and professional life.

It was then, I decided I should do something to address this problem of not getting adequate amounts of sleep and bring some order to this chaos.

During my daily meditation, I would often ask myself… What is preventing me from sleeping like a baby? And the answers were really simple.

  1. Constant worrying
  2. Irregular wake-up routines
  3. Too much attachment with the smartphones and e-readers

Here’s how I addressed each of them.

Constant Worrying:

Each day before sleeping, my only thought used to be of worrying whether I will be able to sleep tonight or not. Tossing and turning and thinking the same thing over and over again, until I heard Mr.Nir Eyal speaking about the art of not fretting over falling asleep in his audiobook Indistractable. He stated in his recent LinkedIn post that

“Ironically, I wasn’t falling back asleep because I was worried about not falling back asleep. Once I realized my rumination was itself a distraction, I began to deal with it in a healthier manner. If I woke up, I’d repeat a simple mantra, “The body gets what the body needs.” Once my rumination stopped, so did my sleepless nights. I soon started regularly falling back asleep in minutes. We should stop worrying about outcomes we can’t control and instead focus on the inputs we can.”

Nir Eyal, Indistractable

Just like Nir, I was using Kindle but my mind was always worrying whether I will fall asleep or not. I stopped worrying and downloaded some beautiful 3D recordings from sleepcasts by headspace app. In a matter of 15-20 minutes, I used to yawn like a crocodile and drift off to sleep.

Irregular Wake-Up Routines:

Want to have regular unbroken sleep, then practice waking up every day at the same time. Sounds unbelievable? But that is exactly how this works. I started waking up at 7am every day, no matter how late I stayed up the previous night. Slowly within 15 days, my sleep cycle started getting restored. I now fall asleep faster at night and wake up refreshed. The groggy feeling came down gradually. I now wake up feeling very much better than how I used to feel a month ago.

Attachment to Smartphones, Kindle etc

No.1 culprit which upset my sleep routine was none other than this small 5-inch device called a smartphone. What used to be a 5 minute TikTok watching session, used to become more than 90 minutes of binge-watching TikTok. Over the last few years, I have developed a strange obsession with books. I cannot sleep without reading a minimum of 2 pages from a book. It’s like an internal alarm buzzes constantly until I pick up a paperback or kindle and satiate my hunger for books.

Little did I realise that reading a book from paperback is completely different from reading a book on Kindle. With the backlight and all the jazz, my mini Kindle was none other than one more device which emits blue light. Although it’s levels of blue-light emission was far lesser than that of my smartphone, it did harm my sleep. There were days when I used to consume books voraciously and wonder why am I unable to sleep even after reading Kindle. I quickly unplugged all the devices off my bed and now I just use my BlueTooth headset to stream my sleep casts by headspace. With over 20+ nice soothing sleep casts, it is best for anyone to unwind at their own space and drift off to sleep.

Keeping all these tips aside, the biggest secret of curing insomnia is to be mindful of your surroundings. Watch your bed space, and eliminate all the unnecessary tech which will rob you of your beauty sleep. Start a healthy sleep ritual. It could be going to shower before sleeping or reading a paperback or could be listening to old Bollywood songs. Let go of all the tensions and just relax all your muscles. The easiest way to fall asleep is to stop worrying about your sleep and just relaxing.

Seek help from a doctor, or get yourself treated by training your mind to sleep as soon as you lie your head on the pillow. Act on insomnia before it leads to some serious issue.

Header Photo Courtesy:  Annie Spratt on Unsplash

Posted in Daily Prompts

My Journey With Headspace App for 30 Days


I wake up every morning to Xiaomi India sending its faithful push notification. It says Lockdown Day#: Interesting things to do at home. The moment my eyes start reading that, my auto-pilot mind just moves my fingers to swipe and erase the notification off. Gone are those honeymoon days of painting and chilling out during quarantine. Now, every day is a day filled with adventure and lots of productive work.

The first week went in organising and getting used to the work-life balance. It was not really easy. One of the first things I had to deal with, was my acute neck pain and frequent distractions at work.

Thanks to this beautifully hand-crafted app called Headspace which literally saved several man-hours of chaos in my life. I used to meditate before, but with this app, with the animations, guided meditation packs the app has caught my attention so much that right now its close to a month-long streak of meditating daily.

Never ever had I been this consistent in my meditation practice. One of the most beautiful things that this month-long meditation has taught me is to be completely honest with my own self and address the sources of pain in my heart. Once we find out the sources, the journey of finding and tracing its impact on your present-day life becomes very much an adventure. Instead of judging myself harshly, I am now 2x more self-compassionate. Meditation has taught me to slow down and think before I react.

It has given me the strength to focus on my work despite so many upheavals in my own personal life. Dealing with loss and grief takes a big chunk of your time and energy. It drains you from inside and makes you feel very hollow. But with meditation, instead of getting agitated, I learnt to acknowledge, embrace the chaos and move on with my day to day activities.

If someone is really interested in learning how to mediate daily, then here are my five tips.

  1. Start small. Say meditate only for 2-3 min every day. Once you are comfortable with this duration, you may graduate to 5min, 10min and eventually to whatever duration your mind can hold up.
  2. Show up every day. There were days when I felt like I should just skip my practice. But, as Andy Puddicombe says, consistency plays a very important role in training our minds.
  3. Whenever your mind wanders off, or you feel like you are unable to focus on your breath, do not beat yourself up. Instead, be kind to yourself. It’s okay for the mind to wander. Because it is still learning how to sit still.
  4. Spend 5 min in just observing your thoughts and write it down.
  5. Choose the same place and same time every day for few weeks to get a hang of the practice.

We are all taught to be outrageously extroverts. Schools and colleges always emphasize on selling ourselves by standing out from the crowd. On the contrary, what I feel is meditation should be taught to young kids, boys and girls, men and women as a part of their regular studies. Schools and academic institutions should also emphasize on the importance of having a quiet and calm mind. It not only benefits them during times like these but also helps kids think more clearly. I wish I had started exploring this side of mine very earlier. But, better late than never!

Header Photo Courtesy: Unsplash

Posted in Daily Prompts, Kindle

Never Judge A Book By It’s Ratings On Goodreads


With my faded pyjamas and legs on top of the study table, I was comfortably sunk in my own world of books when my friend called me. After the usual lockdown Q&A, she said “I have always been wanting to read books. How do I choose?”

Here is my simple and straight forward answer.

Never judge a book by its cover + it’s ratings on Goodreads

Year after year, after signing up for book reading challenges hosted by Goodreads. I am happy that I manage to achieve  my book reading goals every year. I religiously devote a minimum of ten-twenty minutes every night before my eyes give up and I start yawning like a crocodile.

Coming to the main point of not getting carried away by the online ratings, I wish to say that ratings on Goodreads can be highly misleading. Take, for example, Don Quixote – One of the most important books rated by all leading magazines every year. Like any typical reader, I G.O.O.G.L.E.’d – saw the ratings and purchased a copy of it, only to be disappointed right after the first few pages.

book review don quixoteNow if you were to ask me about Don Quixote, I have to say that this book is a sleeping pill. [No offence to people who love Don Quixote]. There were days when no doctor in Bangalore could put me to sleep except Don Quixote. With its too chivalrous write-up and slow narration, it would make me fall asleep in just 3 minutes. Soon after this, I picked up several books by Chethan Bhagat, Robin Sharma and many more authors only to be disappointed by the rating given by readers on Goodreads.

There are plenty of underrated books in this Universe, waiting for you to pick them up and read them end to end. But due to the bias of ratings that we see on online sources, we end up choosing hyped books. Life is too short to waste time on books which serve no purpose. The next time you pick a book, please feel free to dump it right then and there if the book doesn’t kindle your interest further. Not every book in this world [deemed as bestseller] would entertain you. Do not let the boredom set in, and make you abandon the habit of reading books permanently.

First, decide what kind of stories do you really love to hear/read? Based on that, you can then choose books based on their plots given online and then choose them for reading further.

Happy Reading!

Header Pic Courtesy: Photo by Nemichandra Hombannavar on Unsplash

Posted in Daily Prompts

WFH & The Busy Syndrome


I called up my friend yesterday and asked her “How’s the lockdown treating you girl?”

Her instant reply was “I have lost track my biological clock. It seems like I am working 24*7….”

Being busy is good but how much busy is actually good for you?

Having a gazillion number of tabs open on your Chrome/Mozilla or working on fewer important tasks that will fuel your career? What do you prefer?

If you are a person who prefers to have a million tabs open and random music shuffling on your Spotify, then this is for you:

Get up. Breathe some fresh air. Close all tabs. Work on one thing at a time.

If you are someone who feels working on fewer high-value tasks does wonders for me then this is for you:

Get up. Breathe some fresh air. Cross all the tasks and eat one ugly task at a time.

In this era of constant chaos, it has become a style statement to constantly keep ourselves busy and lie to ourselves that we really do not have time for certain tasks. Choose your tasks wisely. Ask yourself, do you really need that TIMES OF INDIA EDITORIAL tab open [while you clearly know subconsciously that you will not even read a word until it is 10:00pm in the night].

Today’s economy is very volatile and it is very important for you to use your time to upskill and stay relevant at all times. Wake up and stop wasting time on the least important things and focus your attention to only the top 3 tasks which you feel really important and worth giving your energy.

Let the lockdown not drive you crazy. Use this time to focus your attention only on high-net-worth tasks.

Header Image Courtesy:  Gift Habeshaw on Unsplash

Posted in Daily Prompts, Kindle

My Experience With Audible by Amazon


For those of you looking for a short & crisp review of Audible here you go:

7

8

9

If you are someone who just wanted the gist of the whole article then yes the article just ended with the last image. You may now go and catch up with your Netflix show or bore yourself with any other article on the net.

But, if you are someone who wants to read the long-form article and make me happy then here you go with the longer version of my  experience with Audible.

“…. This is Audible… The Compound Effect…Multiply Your Success One Simple Step At A Time by Darren Hardy…” said the deep voice from the newly installed “Audible” app by Amazon.

I woke up at 5:45am in my hotel room and finished my ablution to get ready for my yoga session when I was reminded of the fact that I had downloaded this new app called Audible by Amazon right when my Indigo flight was about to take off. After my shower, while my daily dose of black coffee was ready to be brewed in the kettle, I was just scrolling up and down the app to just get a hang of it.

I had read somewhere that either you can purchase the audiobooks directly from the app/Amazon website or you could download one book per month [Free-Of-Cost] as a credit from the audible library. Without delaying a second, my mind chose the second option of downloading one book on credit. After all, we are Indians and we are like this only. We want to see how good an app fits our expectations by fully exploiting all that is available for us on the table without paying one rupee.

Like a kid in the candy store, I was completely lost in the library of audiobooks. I did not know whether to take refuge under self-help section or jump straight into the piles of books listed one after other by some famous authors like Malcolm Gladwell, Chris Bailey, Shashi Tharoor, Vikram Seth etc. My black coffee was done and it quickly reminded me that I now had just another couple of minutes to quickly finalise my decision. There came this beautiful white cover of “Compound Effect by Darren Hardy”. I tapped on the “DOWNLOAD” option and then kept the phone aside.

After finishing my cup of black coffee it was time for me to go downstairs and start my Yoga. It was during this time, I was going thru how to get started with audible and how to I….

Before I could realise all of this, I was almost halfway through my Yoga and was already enjoying my first chapter from Darren’s Compound Effect narrated in his own voice, set at 0.85x speed [because I cannot do a proper downward dog with a voice going in 1.5x and expecting me to concentrate… I could be a turtle at times and I enjoy it].

I took an oath that every day I will listen to Audible until I finish my workout. While I was mostly travelling during the majority of February month, I ended up finishing the book in a matter of 25 days. The book said it was 4 hours 44minutes long. Some people listen to it like their whole life depends on audiobooks by listening to the book at 2X speed and end up much before than 20 days. While some turtles like me, who listen while bending and twisting their head in contorted body positions find it extremely peaceful to go through the audiobook at lesser speeds.

On the 19th day, I simply could not believe that I had simply finished a book by just listening to it for a mere 15 minutes every day. [Well… I was working out only for 15 min the whole month] Not bad! Was my first thought. So will I now go ahead and purchase books on Audible? Hell yes [But I managed to download another book this month using my credits.]

Here is why I think Audible is best if you are a person who loves podcasts and listening to the radio.

Your Audible Book Layout Looks Like This
  • The collection of books runs from Arts & Entertainment to Crafts and Hobbie’s; From Food & Wine to Literature & Fiction; From Mature Content to Science & Math and many more genres. So stop giving excuses that the collection isn’t vast.
  • You can listen to the book at your own pace. Speeds vary from 0.5x to 3.50x
  • Jumpstart to any chapter that you would like to listen first.
  • Snooze off automatically with the Sleep Timer at the bottom of the screen.
  • What’s more… Bookmark your favourite chapters and lines from the book just like how you do it on a Kindle or your paperback.
  • If you are a person who regularly gets stuck in traffic or you are always busy with greasy hands in the kitchen then you have this amazing option called “Driving” mode which will remove all the unnecessary options and just helps you skim through the book at ease.
Audible in Driving Mode
  • Download your audiobooks to your phone and listen when you are stretching your legs in the plane or a place where your Wi-Fi sucks.
  • Just like your Kindle, Audible also could be accessed from anywhere, anytime. Even if you switch devices, you will never lose track of your books or your bookmarks.

For the guilty mommies and daddy’s who never ever tell Grandma’s Stories to their kids:

If you have kids at home, and you are one parent who hates telling bed-time stories to your kids then just invest in a nice pair of wireless headphones and put them on your kids head and switch on the audible app. Audible is now offering free books for kids. [Time to be a good mom/dad without dozing off and embarrassing yourself in front of the kid]

For the Hindi Book Lovers:

Lekin humein Angrezi nahi aati hain?

Koi baat nahi… Audible main Hindi Books bhi hain. Bas kaan main lagao aur sunte jao.

My Judgement:

I loved listening to books on Audible and I think it’s a new age tech for all those “old-school book lovers”. But, it’s time to upgrade yourself and listen to the book narrated by your own favourite authors. Even if you are an arch-enemy of these new-age reading apps just like the way you uninstalled the dating app from your kid’s phone… download karo Audible magar pyaar se.

How did I benefit from Audible?

I commute a lot [before the lockdown2020 ofcourse] in the crowded cramped Mumbai Locals with a fictitious baby bump [my laptop bag] and a dupatta wiping the sweat off my forehead after the marathon from one platform to another.

Whoever has travelled in Mumbai Locals know that nothing matters more than catching the right train at right time and also saving your life hanging by the thin thread of life and death. So it’s clear I do not want to hold a book in one hand and be the Sharmila Tagore of “Mere Sapnon Ki Rani Kab Ayegi Tu” song while my whole life is hanging by the worn-out grab handles of the local.  There are days when I have the luxury of having a nice place for my bum and reading THE WEEK magazine and throwing shades at all those miserable people standing with “mujhe seat de do” look in their eyes…. and then there are days when I literally pray to all the 10,000 Gods in Hindu Mythology to just let me inside the train. There are times when even the strongest Airtel network cannot penetrate the crowded trains and reach my phone… so the offline version of audiobooks on Audible perfectly suits my requirement.

On the other hand, I fly a lot as well. Most of the times, I end up taking a mid-night flight which means you are always having red-eye and people think you are a ganja addict. To keep myself awake, I plug in Audible into my ears and pretend as if I am listening to the world’s best rap music. By the time, the air hostess asks “Yatriyan Kripayan….” I am already done with 3 chapters and 4 paragraphs. Thanks to the Sleep Timer, by the time the flight is halfway to the destination, the app is off and I would have slipped to an indefinite coma.

I am a huge consumer of audio content, so be it a podcast or audiobook, I literally don’t give a flying fuck. For me, it’s all about consuming content. So yes, Audible literally suits me the best. Be it my gym, or my commute or my long hours of cooking something which I end up throwing in the dustbin… I am rest assured I am listening to something really meaningful and not wasting time in listening to the B-Town gossips streaming from the local radio stations. Even from a pricing perspective Audible is really light on pockets. So, yes mitron… during Covid time… try kijiye Audible. 

Posted in Daily Prompts

Why Mumbai Truly Makes Me Stay Here Forever


Last weekend after spending a brief period of time in Bangalore, I must admit I started to become a Bangalorean again. The cold weather, the vintage Kannada boards, Kannadigas and the strong scent of filter coffee from nearby Priyadarshini’s and the steaming idlis took me back to 2011 when I first started my IT career in Wipro. Although I had to commute from BTM to Electronic City… without the help of 356CW life was still in slo-mo. Nothing was ever done in a hurry. Everything was in a soft and slow manner.

Before I could reminiscence more, a loud honking of cabbie woke me up from my dreamland. Lo… and we were stuck halfway through towards Infantry road. How can you forget the epic traffucks when you are in Bangalore. It is at that point I started missing Mumbai.

Mumbai is a very busy city. Right from the whistling Mumbai Locals which trail their way throughout the city relentlessly almost 22 hours a day…till the vendors who risk their lives jumping from one train to another selling their stuff…. Everyone is busy. 

The city doesn’t have much IT crowd. And that is why you will still see some amount of honesty in auto-rickshaw drivers and the cabbies. Everyone knows it’s difficult to make money and everyone has their own share of difficulties every day.

You hardly find lazy people here. The traffic is just traffic here and doesn’t become a bottleneck to reach from Destination A to Destination B. Quite contrary to what has happened to Bangalore today.

I can vividly remember my ordeal to get to Colors Kannada office. I had to really haggle with the auto guy. The reason was very simple. He would not go the bare minimum 1km distance for the min price. He exorbitantly charged flat 60 rupees. I mean how in the hell does 1km get so expensive. In Mumbai, it’s hardly 30 rupees.

My next encounter was my travel to KIAL. The airport is so far and no proper train connectivity you really have to be dependent on cabbies. The cabs also charge a flat 1000-1500 rupees depending on the demand and supply chain. The same amount of distance in Mumbai costs you a maximum of 600-700 rupees. 

By statistics, Mumbai is 5x expensive city than Bangalore. But still, a man can survive in Mumbai with whatever little he earns. Try that in Bangalore….. !!! Right from the maid till the auto driver, right from your plumber to commuting everybody thinks the common man in Bangalore is heir to some big angel investor. But the reality is quite different. 

Last week someone asked me whether I would like to relocate to Bangalore or stay in Mumbai. And with a heavy heart, I had to say Mumbai because this city has some bit of humanity and ethics still left. Mumbai doesn’t drag you to the streets and harass you by charging logic-less prices for the common man. This city knows the struggle of a family man. I sincerely prayed to God that the metro work of Bangalore gets completed as soon as possible so that one day people have to totally ditch the buses and rickshaws to travel in peace.

Until then, the common man in Bangalore has to keep earning 10% higher than what he earns every year in order to keep up with the pace of day to day expenses.

Header photo courtesy:  Bhupendra Singh on Unsplash
Posted in Daily Prompts, Kindle

Master The Art Of Getting Things Done Rather Than Waiting For The Right Moment


“If you can’t fly, then run. If you can’t run, then walk. If you can’t walk, then crawl… but by all means, keep going” – Martin Luther King Jr.

Have you ever come across people who want to accomplish their goals yet are trapped in a cage full of excuses?
Not sure about you, but I have come across many. A classic example of this behaviour can be seen in a group of bookworms. Whenever there is a group of people who love reading books, you can clearly see the distinction between people who read on E-readers like Kindle and another group who refuse to move away from paperbacks.

It has happened to me so many times. People sometimes just don’t get the actual reason why I moved away from paperbacks and switched completely to Kindle. It always leaves an element of curiosity in them. Because after all, books are nostalgic….it’s a different feeling to hold the book in your hands and read. [I agree]

You might be wondering why did I pick this specific example. Let me explain this for you all.

I am a person who focuses purely on the journey and not the egalitarian ways of working things out in another way. For me, it’s all about getting my work done on a daily basis and reaching a few steps closer to my goals.

I primarily focus on getting shit together rather than worrying about the right time to launch things.
In other words, I work towards making results happen and do not take any excuses into account.

As a result, every year, I manage to finish my book reading goals as compared to my other friends. This was possible, only because I read a few books on Kindle and a few books from my paperback library. I was not even once bothered about how was I achieving my goals…. my focus was only to finish my challenge. Kindle or paperback never mattered.

When you focus on getting results, you don’t get stopped by obstacles. Come what may, you always find ways to work it out. But when your focus is purely on aesthetics and other stuff, you get easily derailed from your journey and before you know, you would have lost a great opportunity.

A perfect example of this is the guy who is obese and wants to join the gym. He knows that the only solution to lose weight is to join a gym and start working out. But, he still keeps grumbling to himself that he does not have the right kind of gyms nearby / he does not have friends to join. On the other hand, there are so many self-taught yogis who practice yoga daily all by themselves 365 days a year. Whether they are in their homes or out on the streets, you can always see them not skipping their daily practice.

My two cents are very simple.

Focus on getting your goals completed successfully.
When your focus is completely determined towards becoming #1, your brain starts processing the information deep down your subconscious mind. This is the beginning of holding onto the journey of your dreams. Never be bogged down by phrases like “right-time or perfect-time”. The time will never be right… it’s all in your hands whether to make it right and use it to your advantage or just wait for the perfect moment [which never comes at all].

There is nothing called a PERFECT moment. This moment is all you that you have got to make your dreams come true. Stop procrastinating and start chasing your dreams.

Jon Tyson

Posted in Daily Prompts

A Visit To “World For All”


There is nothing as intriguing as looking into the eyes of a dog. Today after ages it felt like I was at home…. The smell of kennel, the howling of dogs and those shiny bright eyes full of hope and energy …. all thanks to “World For All”.

World For All Animal Care & Adoptions is an NGO which helps adopt Indian stray dogs. WFA is based out of Mumbai. This time they partnered with TikTok and launched a campaign called #PetBFF.

Me being Creator Manager for the Pet Animals vertical from TikTok, I had the golden chance to interact with the staff of WFA and learn more about various kinds of dogs who have found shelter at WFA.

There are dogs which have been abandoned by their owners and there are dogs which have been subjected to animal cruelty. It was quite heartbreaking to hear stories of each dog landed up in WFA.

Today’s event was all about breaking stereotypes of buying only dogs of certain breed. The event was more about creating awareness about adoption of Indies. Being a mother of 3 dogs I myself know how hard it is to raise Indies in a society full of labs, golden retrievers and GSD’s. There are lots of prejudice that people carry when it comes to Indian Paraiah breeds. It was very nice to have Disha Patani, leading Bollywood Actress coming to the NGO and sharing her thoughts about adoption and animal cruelty.

It was fun to interact with top animal creators of TikTok along with other famous creators of TikTok like Shivani Kapila, Awez Darbar, Naghma, Paras Tomar, Faby, Deepak Chaudhary etc.

For people based out of Mumbai, this is one of the go-to places if you are a hardcore dog lover. You can volunteer in the daily activities of the NGO and also spend some quality time with the dogs over there. The place is situated near the vicinity of Kamal Arohi Studio, which is another plus point if you want to have a walk near the lush greenery amidst the hustle and bustle of Bombay.

Posted in Daily Prompts

Epic Battle Between Quality Vs Quantity


Complaining is easy. Executing is hard.

Gary Vaynerchuck

I wish I had started blogging long time back….

I wish I had started taking this course long time back….

I wish I had taken my career seriously….

How often do you come across such people who always dwell in the “I Wish” world??

If you are one amongst them, then this blog post is for you.

Dear friend,

It doesn’t matter where you stand right now or how much money you are making today… All it matters is how much hustle are you going to bring in to change your life. 90% of them right now only exist in the “I Wish” world. Nobody is ready to get their hands dirty and do the thing.

One of my friends always had issues with my writing. He had a notion that he is a person who gives huge amount of fucks to write that perfect blog rather than me… who blurts out things in a random way.

Today, its been 3 years of his crib… and i can see his dusted blog still standing there all alone as a testimonial for his quality. And me progressing few hundred posts and pedalling my way upto my goal [The goal of writing as much as I can, because I genuinely love to write]

Moral of the story is very simple. If you give too many fucks about quality, you will end up nowhere. Stop being a perfectionist and start putting out content on whichever platform your audience is. Do not get too uncomfortable with the fact that your work does not have the quality that you think it should have. In this big world, where 90% people are too busy clicking selfies, making TikTok videos and uploading tons of content…. you have to remember nobody gives a shit.

People only notice whether you are making some noise or not. As long as you are making it…. be rest assured that quality also falls in place. You will eventually reach the quality with regular hardwork and consistency. Until then, allow yourself to make as many mistakes as possible and start writing.

Do not let your fear for perfection, paralyse you from putting out content on the net.

Happy writing!

unsplash-logoStage 7 Photography

Posted in Daily Prompts

From Prompts To Actual Writing – My Evolution


It’s been quite a few months I started writing again…

Thanks to my co-workers who reminded me that I have a blog here at wordpress.com.

As I was talking to my colleagues about my blogging journey, I remembered my evolution as a random 1-2 post blogger to writing several hundred posts over the years.

How does it all begin… someone asked me…

The answer is simple… I started blogging just for the heck of it using word prompts given by the WordPress community. Slowly I picked up prompts given by dedicated prompt accounts from Twitter. Over a period of 1.5 years, after writing more than 200 posts I slowly gathered the confidence to write on any topic I longed for.

Nothing happens overnight. I still forget my flow, I commit grammatical mistakes and I sometimes don’t end a blog post the way it should end… But… who cares?

As long as you are writing something…. and you are happy from your heart…nothing should stop you from writing.

One tip for bloggers who want to start writing this year:

Start a blog – Pick a topic – Shut up and just write. [Trust me you will go blank, you will be scared but the journey is worth it.]

Happy Weekend You All!!

unsplash-logoPereanu Sebastian

Posted in Daily Prompts

Packing of my CT100 – Part 4


By 3PM, we already understood that our fate is going to be in this Yelahanka Railway Station for an eternity. Till 4PM, the policeman kept telling us that no need of wrapping the vehicle, but the agent was telling us that it’s a risky affair to transport without any wrapping. The agent who agreed to wrap the bike said it will be Rs.700 for each vehicle. We three, with our puppy faces started bargaining and finally, my friend played the victim card.

He said, “Boss, look at the bike and arrive at a decent price… We do not even have money to go back to Bannerghatta… Please adjust…..” The way he said made that agent feel pity for both of us and then he generously agreed for Rs.400

We paid our dues and then walked back to the platform. And then started discussing whether 400 rupees was even worth it or not. Right from draining the fuel, to pushing it till the platform it was all our effort. All that the agent did was to put two cardboards on my bike and then use some plastic gunny bags to wrap it all over.

(Remember that CT100 is an economy bike… Even if you think there is no fuel left in the bike, you will still be surprised to find fuel in the tank. In my case, we got around 2L of petrol from the tank).

By the time it was 5:45PM we had lost our patience. We kept on stalking the supervisor chamber every ten minutes. We were literally the most hated personalities of the day for the enquiry office personnel. At 7PM, the supervisor arrives and says throw away the old paperwork and write a new challan. We wrote our details in it and put the value of the vehicle as described by him. (Poor RE Rider had to re-brand his bike from RE to Bajaj Pulsar to avoid extra money for shipping). I asked for places where the bikes will be delivered from that particular cargo…to which he responded that it stops only at four places i.e. Mumbai CST, Kalyan Jn, Pune, and Lonavla. I did not have a clue on other places and just wrote CSMT. (Short form for Mumbai Chhatrapati Shivaji Maharaj Terminus – UNESCO Heritage Site with daily over lakhs of footfall every day)

In ten minutes he finished off all the work and asked us to leave. Before leaving he told us “We are pushing your vehicle today and it will reach CST the next day. First 6 hours it will be kept for free, post which you have to pay a fine of Rs.10 per hour. And please write your phone number on top of the gunny bag so that the railway personnel can call you (TBH Nobody called me when my bike was dropped at CST. I had to pay a fine of Rs.380 to get my bike back)

With my two-wheeler safely packed to board inside the cargo, I breathed my first sigh of relief. I knew something big awaits me in Mumbai (in terms of dealing with Indian Railways) but I was mentally prepared for everything.

To be contd...
Posted in Daily Prompts

JLT – Just Like That


I won’t be continuing the Part 4 of my Mumbai series, partly because today was one hell of an adventurous day. Traveling the GULLY BOY featured Lower Parel flyover and attending the Grazia event at Phoenix City Mall…. it was all life in fast forward.

Every day is an opportunity to learn something new. We learn new things only to apply it tomorrow for a better future. Today was no exception. One of the biggest lessons that I learned today was about the importance of being authentic in the job that you are doing.

A series of events today taught me that, if you are not truly passionate about the work that you are doing, you will definitely not enjoy doing that work. It’s very important to love what you are doing. Otherwise, you will end up being an imposter amongst a crowd of spectators.

PASSION is something which cannot be copied.

LOYALTY is something which cannot be bought.

BEAUTY is something which cannot be judged superficially.

TRUST is something which you can never break.

SMILE is truly the most inexpensive gift of human life. But unfortunately, the wave of social media has truly changed the meaning of a smile. Almost everyone whom I met today was sad…. for one thing, or other. But everyone had mastered the art of hiding it and faking as if they are leading a 100% perfect life.

While I am nobody to judge them. I mean… who am I to ask them to not hide their real feelings. Everyone needs a mask. Some need it to hide their pain, and some need it to hide their demons. Reasons could be many, but the overall objective is to hide your real self from others. Social media today has made it really difficult to stay authentic. Everyone wants to be seen, and everyone wants to be accepted just like others.

What everyone has forgotten is that “You are unique and You are beautiful…. just the way you are…..”.

That’s it for today’s JLT post.

Thanks for giving it a read!

Posted in Daily Prompts

Unpredictable Indian Railways – Part 3


Whoever has shifted their vehicle from one state to another using Indian Railways are very well aware of the kind of paperwork and jugaad that goes into transporting their vehicles. While, packing of the vehicle is one aspect, the amount of unrest that one has in their heart until the vehicle reaches its destined place is another thing.

For a noob like me who dreads train travel primarily because of all the jargons that they use, it seemed like MISSION IMPOSSIBLE. But, thanks to my friend Arun who had mastered the art of sending all kinds of bikes safely from point A to point B through Indian Railways.

“CT100 in rail? What if something goes wrong? What if there is damage?” were the initial questions that I asked Arun. His one answer was “People send RC390’s man! ….”. (Okay, I got my answer)

My bike had almost zero fuel, but still, to be on the safer side we filled fifty rupees worth fuel and went to Majestic Rly Station. As our friend Arun was well versed with the paperwork, I took my pen from my pocket and started filling it as if this is the 100th motorcycle I was sending from Bangalore. Halfway during the paperwork, there was an agent next to us. With a thick Kannadiga accent, he asked: “Baaambay huh?”. In unison, we both nodded yes. He then passed a wry smile and turned his head towards another Railway official. The officer said, due to some unexpected repair work in the platform, for the next 10 days all the cargo that needs to be sent to Mumbai had to be sent via Yelahanka Railway Station.

I immediately had this sentence in my mind “Did I hear him say Yelahanka?”. (Whoever has stayed in Bangalore knows what a pain it could be to go from Majestic to Yelahanka in the noon).

I went to the nearby ATM, withdrew some 2000 rupees cash and then we started slowly riding towards Yelahanka. After some time when we reached the station, we saw there were few officials and a whole idle station with barely a few passengers waiting for their trains. When we asked the Enquiry, he confirmed that the cargo for Mumbai arrives there and one needs to wait for the Supervisor Incharge for Cargo until 5:45PM.

We checked our watch and it was just 1:45PM.

With the already filled paperwork in my hand and a helpless face, I looked at Arun. My expression clearly said, “Now what?”

He quickly said, “Let’s check how do we empty the fuel and keep the bike ready so that by the time the supervisor comes we are all set to transport it”. Right then, we could hear the railway police shouting at an RE rider. He was arguing that how will he push his bike all the way from outside to get it packed inside but the police had his grim face which said: “That’s your headache….”.

At once we both were happy that someone else is also part of this safar (suffer).

To be contd

 

Posted in Daily Prompts

Before Packing Bags to Mumbai (Part 2)


With little knowledge of what awaits me ahead, I entered Hotel Grand Hyatt at Ulsoor.

Little did I know, that things were about to get a 360-degree turn.

I answered my interview questions and vroomed back home zooming past the Bangalore traffic with ease. (All thanks to my humble CT100).

After a few days, it was confirmed that I had cleared the interview and my new job location would be Mumbai. I did not know how to react for a moment. I asked myself should I be happy or confused or sad. And a strong gut feeling said “Fuck You… Buckle Up and just go with the flow”.

In December 2018, I took a 2-months break from my awesome job at a fintech startup. This two-month window gave me a strange level of daredevilry to accept whatever was coming my way. I said yes for the relocation and dialed all my possible acquaintances to understand what is it to stay in Bombay. I have to say 90% of the feedback was not so positive.

But as I said, I was already pumped up with blind confidence… So, I asked a 2-week window from the new employer to sort things from my end and start this new journey to Mumbai. In this short duration of two weeks, all I did was put a closure to all the issues that would bother me once I go to the new city. One of the key important things was to first hunt for a stay in Mumbai until my PG was sorted. The second important thing was to transfer my two-wheeler to Bombay.

While the majority of them said that riding on my CT100 would be an awesome experience, there was this one friend who put some sense in my head. As the joining date approached near, my accommodation was becoming more of an issue. Primarily because the employer did not have the arrangements for the stay inside the campus. In this kind of situation, it was definitely not the best option to ride all the way from Bangalore to Mumbai on my humble 100cc vehicle. Because it would only make me more tired and would have left me with very less time to go and hunt a decent room for myself.

Two days before my departure to Mumbai, I did one last round of checkup for the bike, removed the clingy mobile holder and vroomed to Majestic Rly Station with all the necessary papers… Little did I know the drama that was about to unfold before me…

(to be contd...)
Posted in Daily Prompts

Moving to Mumbai – The City Of Dreams (Part 1)


Life in Bangalore was too good. Surrounded in a bubble-wrap of love, warmth and my lovely family in Bangalore I have now moved to Mumbai. Well, a lot of my friends still think it was my worst decision ever… But why let others decide what you want.

I have always believed “CHANGE IS THE ONLY CONSTANT THING IN THIS UNIVERSE.”

And every change has some meaning in it.

A friend of mine once said, “I am getting good opportunities in Gurgaon but I do not want to leave Bangalore and here the salary needle is not moving at all”. I could push him to an extent to go to Gurgaon but ultimately he did not budge. He chose to stay in Bangalore only with the same position.

This friend had the fear of missing out on all the fun and activities that he was used to in Bangalore. He simply did not want to take the risk of traveling to a new place again, relocating all his stuff and getting adjusted to the new surroundings.

To be honest, even I was like him a few years back. I longed for my comfort zone. Bangalore – my Kannadiga people – the comfort zone of not having to deal with an identity crisis or deal with totally new kind of people. It put me in the FEAR ZONE – where every little thing started bothering me. I was affected by opinions from others and cared a lot about what others would think of me.

What happens when you dwell in this zone of fear?

It leads you on a negative path which hinders your progress in life.

So, stop wasting too much time thinking about what could go wrong and trust your decisions.

Travel as much as you can right when you are young and independent enough to achieve it. Hold yourself accountable for every action that you take in life. Do not take anybody for granted. Hustle. Persevere. 6 months of consistent hustle can put you two years ahead in your career.

Never let go of a good opportunity just because of your fears.

Trust the process. Everything happens for a reason. Even if you fail, you will learn something from it. Do not let your past mistakes dictate your future.

Do something every day that scares you. Each day is a new beginning to explore your fears and grow. Just take a deep breath, gather your five seconds of courage and let go of your comfort zone.

Conquer your fears every day. When I initially landed in Mumbai, I had (and I am still having) my own share of struggles. Everything was confusing at once. But then, that’s the part of life. Nothing comes easy in life. And if you think, life is unfair to you, go watch GULLY BOY. Life is always unfair at some point for everyone, but that’s nature teaching you the art of survival. Do not put yourself down just because of your inexplicable assumptions and fears. Thousands of people come to Mumbai every day, with no solid background or money with a small hope of living their dreams. Every day when I see those people walking briskly near Kurla station, I can feel their enthusiasm, their struggle to get things going….. and their sheer determination to achieve their dreams.

After having stayed in a beautiful and pleasant city like Bangalore, for sure it was difficult to adjust in this kind of fast-paced city. Everyone is in a rush here…. Nobody has time to ask about your whereabouts or your well-being. Everyone is so disconnected but at the same time connected to a common thing “DREAMS”. Getting a proper accommodation is a big hassle in Mumbai, but there is nothing to be afraid of as there are umpteen number of FB groups and apps whose daily life is nothing but connecting you to a potential PG or a flatmate.

When people used to say Bombay is the city of dreams, I used to wonder what is so special about it as any city is a dream city. Now I understand why….

This city is like a melting pot. And this is just the beginning of my experiences here. (to be contd….)

Posted in Social Media Marketing

Unlocking Snapchat For Small & Medium Scale Business Owners


Snapchat!!!

The first thing that comes to your mind is the yellow ghost and then all you know is it is an app dedicated to make something like Instagram stories.

I am sure everyone would have downloaded the app, clicked some selfies and then did not understand where to take it ahead. Few people still use it to text their friends and share snaps but apart from that, if I were to ask you what is the use of Snapchat for your business…. most of you would simply shrug their shoulders and say “IDK Bro!”

Does it sound like the story of your life?

No problem. Nobody is judging you here!

Snapchat in India has really not scaled up to a large degree compared to other parts of the world.

So what exactly is Snapchat?

Snapchat is a camera company. The app mainly has a very simple interface which makes it easy for people to click photos and have some fun.

Yes, it’s really that simple app!

Snapchat is currently the most happening platform where you have people from age 18 – 24 years old. Much before Instagram came up with the concept of stories, Snapchat was the one who pioneered the idea of stories (snaps/videos that would disappear after 24 hours).

Snapchat became really popular with teens and youngsters because Snapchat is all about being in the moment. You cannot edit and photoshop your images here. The best part about chatting with people on snapchat is that the content gets deleted once you and your friend has seen the text message. With lots of in-built filters and sponsored filters, the app has really caught the attention of content creators from all over the world.

With an increasing number of millennials coming up on Snapchat every day, this could be an addition to your social media channel to increase your sales. Here is how you can use snapchat in your daily business.

Well begun is half done:

Download Snapchat and register it with your company name.

Snapchat does not show your snap codes to your other friends. Hence you might have to start sharing your snapcode with your friends on Whatsapp or Messenger. Feel free to share your snapcode on your business cards, menus, flyers, Ads, FB Pages etc. Take a print out of your snapcode and post it outside your store. Ask your customers to add you on Snapchat.

Keep it real. Be Yourself.

Since most of the content is raw and unedited on snapchat, you don’t have to really struggle to be “PERFECT”. People love candid things on snapchat. Use Snapchat as a great platform to shoot your BTS (Behind-The-Scenes) videos. Shoot the way you organize your store or cafe. Shoot snaps of your day at the store. (Don’t forget to tag locations, they increase your overall visibility on Snapchat)

Use your customers as your Snap Ambassadors:

Most of the transactions happening on Snapchat is all real-time and hence my suggestion to you is to encourage your customers to snap more often when they walk-in. You can offer them discounts for tagging you and taking snaps. Hold a special meet up exclusive for snapchat influencers in the locality. This might help you to get more followers and more footfalls.

Snapchat Takeovers:

HealthifyMe is doing an excellent job by giving their Instagram accounts for takeover. You can use the same feature for your snapchat accounts as well. Ask your enthusiastic millennial customers to takeover your snapchat account for a week. This brings a fresh perspective to your snapchat account and also encourages people from your customer’s circle to come and add you.

Use Snap Map’s for your advantage:

Asking your customers to take snaps will only help you in making your business visible in their friends’ circle. Snap maps are low-cost organic ways of making yourself visible in the nearby locality.

Make sure when you post your content, you make your content available on “Our Story” feature as well. This helps people across the world discover your snaps.

So the next time you see the yellow ghost on your screen, don’t just restrict yourself only for some crazy dog faced selfie. Use it efficiently. And please don’t forget to have some fun along the way.

Happy Snapping!!! 👻

Posted in Daily Prompts

Celebrating 6 Years of Blogging With WordPress


This December 20, 2018, my blog completes 6 years of its existence on the web space. What started as a means to vent out my frustration during my bench period at Wipro, became a digital journal over the years. In these six years, I have learnt so many things from this habit of blogging regularly. I have had the opportunity to network with so many talented individuals. More than that, my blog stands as a testimony to the journey that I have taken so far.

wordpress stats
Blog traffic over the years

I started blogging here on December 18, 2012. I did not publish anything except importing two of my tiny blog posts from Blogspot to WordPress site. Other than that, I spent a couple of more months only in doing some minor cosmetic changes to the blog. I learnt how to play around with various themes and fonts.

It was only after few months, i.e in 2013, I took blogging a little more seriously. I started blogging small snippets on a daily basis. This regular habit helped me publish a total of 81 posts in a span of one year. My traffic kept on increasing and this further motivated me to write more. There were weeks when I used to get around a 1000 hits organically. All thanks to my blog series on Steve Jobs. The first lesson that this journey has taught me is

“Never get discouraged. Do not think it’s too late to start blogging today! Just start and keep writing. Find what interests you a lot. It could be anything. Fashion/Automobiles/Software/Cats or anything. Just find that one topic and start writing. Everything else will fall into place.”

The regular habit of writing small snippets, boosted my morale to continue blogging for another year. The result was my Daily Post series. I started taking random topics from WordPress’ Daily Prompts and started writing. Although it did not spike my traffic a lot, it helped me maintain the same momentum in 2014. By the end of 2014,  I was astonished to see myself publish about 119 posts. At this point, I learnt that

“It’s not the number of posts that you write. It’s the quality that you put it out there.”

Now that I started focusing on quality, I stopped myself from publishing anything that struck my mind. This took a hit on the number of posts I published. It reduced to a total of 70 in the year 2015. But this did not stop me from working on my blogging skills.

One day as I was reading blogs by other eminent bloggers, I felt that I need to work on my vocabulary. I downloaded the Prompts Book from Daily Posts @ WordPress and started writing one post after another based on the writing prompts in the ebook.

By the time I was through 60 posts, I realized that consistency is very important when you are blogging. Some people who started blogging along with me, were way ahead of me because they had worked consistently by putting out articles more often than me. This taught me to

“Never ignore the power of consistency. It pays you well one day. Consistency beats even talent at some point of time.”

Then came the big break in my blogging life. A period which was emotionally very challenging for me. 2016-17 were two such years where my entire focus shifted from blogging towards motorcycling. I was now dealing with too many things. Work, Blogging, Motorcycling and not to forget my depression. Each day was a struggle. There were days when I would write just two lines and stare for hours together. I used to get completely blanked out. It was as if there was a huge void which could never be filled.

With great difficulty, all I could publish was mere 43 posts in all those two years. I thought this was the end of my blogging. But, I learnt something very important in those two years of depression:

It’s okay to stop doing what you’ve been doing all these years. It’s important to take care of yourself beyond blogging and other stuff. Do what makes you feel better.

Right when I thought everything was over, there came this song on radio which pumped me up to push myself and do what I was destined to do again.

This song really pushed me to stop feeling blue all the time and start seeing the brighter side of things. I welcomed life with a smile and thanks to youtube, I once again felt “Afterall, it’s not the end of it”.

My first focus was to concentrate on the basics. That is to once again start writing – editing – and publishing. By the time it was November 2017, I bumped across this amazing video by Casey Niestat. This video really gave me the confidence to come out of my comfort zones and start concentrating on my craft again.

2018 will be the most memorable year of my life. Because, I regained control over my life again. And all this was possible because of the break which I took during 2016-17.

Writing one paragraph at a time and focusing fully on what is it that I truly want to convey to my audience made a huge difference in my craft. It was no more a fountain of some words all over the blog post. It was carefully crafted version of what I wanted to say to the outside world.

The reflection of this is the stats of my WordPress blog. I just wrote only 26 posts, but my traffic increased the combined traffic of 2016-17.

My blog crossed the 50k hits mark which almost seemed like a huge milestone for me. I had never ever dreamt that one day my blog would cross 50k hits.

6 years into blogging…. seems just like 6 seconds in my life. Thousands of words have been written here on this weblog. Hundreds of people have read my words. Some liked it, many others resented it. But in the end, my words stayed here. The time when I used to spend hours together staring the blank screen, thinking what to write, how to write, will people judge me…. has now been transformed into “Open… Type… Edit… Type… Pause… Publish”.

Read a lot so that you can write better. And don’t wait for any inspiration. Just go ahead and type wordpress.com and create your free blog today.

JUST WRITE & HIT THE PUBLISH BUTTON.

Mr. Mercedes GIF - Find & Share on GIPHY

Good luck to all you budding bloggers out there!

Posted in Daily Prompts, Social Media Marketing

Are You Taking Your Consumers Seriously?


You invested a great deal of money on Facebook Ads, people came, installed and then dropped off….

Sounds like story of your business?

Wait no further to take a step back and realign your strategy towards dealing your social media strategy.

Your consumers are moving more fast than you can think of. They are exposed to content which has been tailor-made for them by intelligent AI driven social media networks.

They are immune to your Ads. They are immune to your efforts of capturing their attention. If you don’t be a Dale Carnegie for them, they will soon abandon you and your platform and move somewhere else where their voices are heard!

If you want to talk to your target audience, give them something 10x more interesting than what they are consuming right now. Make sure you’re making enough noise to cut through their existing chaotic social media feed.

If you still think, money can buy you customers, then you very well belong to analog world. Because today’s millennials are 100 times more sharp and come with layers of thick skin which won’t absorb your content just like that. It’s high time you stop taking them for granted. Your consumers are today more interested in knowing who you are as a person. They are more interested in knowing your culture. They like you being more transparent.

They are watching you all the time and will notice every word that comes out of your brand. You cannot speak your language infront of them. Consumers today want you to speak their language, they want you to get down to their level and tell them why do you matter in their daily lives.

Are you ready to wrestle for attention in the digital sandpit? If not, then it’s time to rethink where you are heading to.

Posted in Daily Prompts

Instagram Stories & Me


For a very long time, I had a question at the back of my head

“Can one catch up with all the stories that gets piled up on your Insta feed?”

But then, every time I posted a quote or a screenshot of my favorite post from Reddit, I instantly saw a lot of people coming to my stories and consuming my content. This selfless act from others made me take up the 7-day challenge to see every story that pops up on my feed. That’s when I decided to catch up with all the stories that flash on my screen.

Now that I follow 500+ people on Insta this meant that I need to dedicate a minimum of 1 hour a day just to see what people are posting as stories.

I used my lunch hour to go through the stories and initially my reaction was like

“What the hell are people doing here…. except posting crazy selfies and random shit”.

But slowly I began to realize the power of stories:

  1. Instagram stories are very powerful ways of conveying direct messages to your audience which self-destruct after 24 hours.
  2. They are more personal and sometimes when you have too many photos to go through the grid, seeing stories actually helps you to catch up with all the latest things that is happening with the account.
  3. Some story feeds are so interesting that the live polls and the live videos actually make more meaningful than going through each account and checking their photo feed.
  4. I saw that some of the famous Instagram accounts were even running Ads on Insta stories. When I asked one of them, she said the lead generation from one story is more than that of fb stories and an Ad on Instagram.
  5. I also understood that some of them don’t really understand the difference between what needs to be put on their feed and what should not be.

It was also interesting to know how some brands were literally harnessing the power of stories to showcase the brand’s behind-the-scenes videos. It was a great way to interact with their fans and increase their engagement.

I have now stopped scrolling endlessly to catch up with all the photos. I now go through all the stories and interact with my favorite Instagrammers by DM’ing them right away.

This helped me to initiate meaningful conversations with some of the leading Insta influencers in my city.

So, all in all… I can say that the story feature in Instagram is quite interesting. And if you are one like me, who always thought “Why Stories?”, then probably its time for you to ask yourself “Why not see some stories?”

Posted in Financial Literacy

Are You Well Prepared For The Ups and Downs Of Your Life?


How many of you have purchased high net worth gadgets right after you started earning a decent amount of money by swiping your credit card?

How many of you have bought an insurance scheme/policy just to get some tax benefits without even knowing the payout period and the immediate benefits that it will offer to you and your dependents?

How many of you have blindly followed some article and invested more than 40% of your income into only one mode of investment (either mutual funds or SIP’s)?

How many of you now regret looking back at the choices that you have made?

If you have said yes to any of the above questions, then this blog post is for you.

Financial literacy is one of the most important skills that we all have to learn in life. I am glad that my blogging Guruji @theonlysup introduced the word “financial planning” in my life. So was I wise since day one? Hell No. Inspite of he telling me the pros and cons of not planning your finances properly, I chose to go ahead and fuck up things for my own self. I almost got into a credit card debt of Rs. 25,000 at one time. I was clueless as to how to start managing my money and come out of this credit card trap.

Our education system is so pathetic that we are taught the kind of Math which we never use in life, we are taught the geography of nations which we never visit until we are in our thirties…. and we are forcefully fed so many unwanted concepts that we hardly use in our daily lives.

I wish if every curriculum made it mandatory to learn saving money and to understand the various modes of investing money, society would be a much better place.

  • People would no longer associate the topic of “personal finance” as taboo.
  • People would chart their career choices as per their necessities in life. People would not go ahead and grab that glamorous MBA degree just to slog under some big MNC in order to clear their student loan.
  • People would think twice before buying that eye-catchy credit card which offers some bounty as cashback.
  • People would hound for the perfect method of investing money and calculate the payouts on their own and would be more aware of where to invest how much.

I am going to write a series of articles here on my own experiences with money.

I am going to share my mistakes and my wrong calculations which led to so many hassles at one point of time. I will also share some nice snippets of information if you are willing to know the various kinds of policies that exist in today’s current market situation.

If you are looking at something specific to be answered here, please let me know. I will be more than happy to read, understand and then write about it.

Coming back to my title, “Are you prepared for the ups and downs of life?”

This was a question which was asked to me by my personal finance advisor recently.

With great confidence, I said “Yes” (I mean who the f*** cares)

He then asked, “How much risk cover have you planned for your family?”

I was like “Risk cover? I got some couple of LIC policies and some minor RD’s”

He was having this expression

It was then, my advisor explained me about the various types of risks that one can come across in short span of life, the depreciation of money that happens every year, the various ways of planning our risks, analyzing how much money would be required at what age etc.

He further took time to show me the different kinds of insurance policies that are currently running in the market,  their benefits and why he took a particular policy and why he closed some etc.

I was amazed to see how a guy of my own age is having so much knowledge about all these. With each passing minute, I was feeling ashamed of all the poor choices that I have made over these years.

He then told me about the five common mistakes in financial planning that stops us from achieving our financial freedom on a long run. They are:

  1. Ignoring inflation.
  2. Underestimating expenses.
  3. Starting to save too late in life.
  4. Investing too aggressively or too conservatively.
  5. Investing with the sole motive of saving taxes, without a bigger goal.

I had committed most of the mistakes too early in life where I should have taken a step back and analyzed my needs.

One should always keep in mind that the future is uncertain. Whatever decisions you make today will affect your financial responsibilities accordingly.

  • If you are married, your kids would be affected by your decisions. If you make a good move, then rest assured they will be having lesser debts when they grow up. If you make a bad move, then you will be burdened with lots of financial hurdles in order to secure their future needs.

Another important thing that one needs to keep in mind before taking any insurance product online is that

  • How will this pay my bills when I am retired?
  • Does it give me the option of compounding my principal amount or is it subject to market risks?

If you are still in your 30’s then before buying any product you need to ask

  • How does this insurance product help me secure my finances?
  • Does it offer any protection against medical emergencies?
  • Does this product help me in wealth creation during my retirement years?

Always remember ups and downs are part and parcel of life. There is no running away from them. But the only thing that you can do is to protect yourself from those risks by thinking what’s best for you and taking the right decisions before purchasing any product or policy online. With sites like policybazaar and lots of youtube channels and blogs, it’s much more easy to educate yourself and make the correct choices.

  • Do not fall into any obligation and buy something just because your friend opted for it.
  • Do not buy anything without reading the pros and cons (the lock-in periods, the growth and the payout clauses etc).
  • It’s okay to be late but it’s not okay to never buy any risk protection for your family leaving them vulnerable towards the uncertainties of life.

Everyone at least once comes face-to-face with one or two of the below mentioned financial needs in their lifetime:

  • Short-Term Goals (in your 20’s to 30’s)
  • Wealth Creation
  • Child’s Education
  • Child’s Wedding
  • Family’s Protection
  • Retirement

In my future posts, I am going to cover the above mentioned six major financial needs that people face in today’s world and how to go about them.

Feel free to read and give me feedback on each of them. Alternatively, if you need any clarity on any personal finance related things, please leave your query in the comments section below.

Thanks for stopping by and giving it a read.

— ARK

Posted in Daily Prompts

Why Should You Ride In Rain?


It was pitch black and I could not see a thing.

Rainwater formed streamed inside my jacket and made my back wet… The shoes were getting wet as fast as possible. The heavy feeling you get when your socks absorb too much water is very frustrating.

Within the next five seconds, rain was all over me, and I struggled to see past five meters ahead of me from my Bell helmet.

The headlamps of my toy bike were not very effective and well prepared for this heavy downpour. In spite of the raincoat that I was wearing to cover my whole body, the rain tried to slow me down every second. It was like going against the grain each minute.

Some people stopped riding and took shelter under the roofs of some roadside shops. Some even were curious to know what’s keeping this woman riding when the weather is all so bad.

But how do I tell them how much I enjoy riding in the rain!!!

According to me, everyone should experience the joy of riding in the rain at least once in their lives. Here are some of the reasons that I have listed down:

  1. Patience: It teaches you the importance of having patience in life. One cannot simply over speed on the wet roads. You need to have patience and a great sense of alertness.
  2. The joy of Solitude: The joy when you alone are treading your path while others are running away from the bad weather makes it even more thrilling to keep moving. As soon as it rains, most people run for cover. You are left with little or no vehicles on the road which makes it even more interesting to ride all alone and be one with nature.
  3. Nostalgia: Rain brings back the good old memories of childhood. Crossing the puddles and splashing muddy waters all over.
  4. Increase in confidence: Riding in rain or shine makes you a better motorcyclist. Any seasoned rider will vouch for this. It increases your confidence.
  5. Getting out of your comfort zone: You will get outside your comfort zone. All your rainproof jackets show their true colors. And there are too many things to be handled at the same time. When it rains, it’s not just the rain. It’s the visibility that takes a hit. It’s the temperature which becomes too cold. It’s the amount of uncertainty which comes your way. You are very unsure what happens in the next few kilometers.

Riding in rain teaches you the important lesson of letting go of your urge to be perfect in life. You cannot expect a perfect weather all the time. Life is a mix of rain and shine. Without rain, you will never appreciate the shine in your life. You have to enjoy everything when you are on a motorcycle. You cannot resent anything. You have to embrace the storms and keep going.

Do you enjoy riding in the rain? If yes, let me know why!

Posted in Daily Prompts

Dogs or Humans, Everyone Needs Love & Affection


She was just the size of a football when I first met her along with my good friend Shrikanth Kote at Brush and Bones. She was jumping around busy chasing a 10-year-old lab which had cancer.

I still remember how Hemant and Sohini showed me the pup and told her about her issues. Her skin problems and her medications, her food habits, her personality everything…

After the whole brief, they asked me whether I was still okay to adopt her. My answer was “Ab lene ka socha hain tho… I have to understand that all of this comes part of the adoption”. I rest assured both of them, that I am going to take this “Khujli Rani” (Queen of Scabies) to my home forever.

I didn’t inform any of my friends or my mom. I just went and told my house owner that I am going to get a puppy. The house owner quickly agreed unknowing that I am not getting any high pedigree dog, but a normal Indian Pariah dog with too much skin problems.

The day I got her, everyone was having one question on their minds. They had doubts about my mental health and my level of sanity to take home a small pup with little hair on its body and too many rashes. With the effective guidance of Shrikanth, Shireesh Verma, Sohini, Hemant, Kaveri, and everyone it took me very less time to fix this beautiful pup.

Now, let me remind you she was not just a pup. She had a name and a personality. Her name was Tara (which I hated it for quite some time) and her personality was “radioactive”. Controlling her energy levels required me to change my house from the small locality to 14km away from the city. A bigger space meant she had more room to run around and chill. Along with her came several other changes in me, including bringing of another dog “Arrow” into my life. Arrow and she became friends very quickly. This also made two dogs cope up with their loneliness together during my absence during office hours.

From Scabies to her first vaccination. From being bitten by street dogs to she going and terrorizing other dogs. From being that silly Tara to a full grown Mommy Tara, we both have come a long way.

Yes, today as I am writing this, she is sitting next to me and taking rest. She will soon give birth to pups in a day or two. One of the most common questions that I ask every pet owner is that what is the single most memorable event in your life with your pet.

The answers are either too happy or too sad.

One of my friends said, “He will never be able to forget the day he put his dog to sleep”. And then he shared something very interesting to me. He forwarded me a piece of an interview with a vet. The Vet said, one of the most heartbreaking scenes that Vets undergo is that look the dogs have on their faces when they are about to put to sleep. Dog owners never want to see this tragic moment and usually go out of the room, leaving the dog to desperately search for their owners in a room full of strangers. He further urged people to take some courage and be with their beloved canine friends during their last hours of life.

For some reason, the message touched my heart. I was then recalling all the ups and downs that I and Tara had endured all these days. Right from people calling her piece of shit to our owner quarantining my house (because it had a sick dog inside it)…. we both have seen it all.

Most of my close friends never wanted to visit my house because she had scabies. But there she was….. Tara… standing beside me all the time. She was like James Stewart of MX racing world…. who didn’t know that he was black until he started feeling racial discrimination. Tara never even knew that she was hated for the way she looked like. The moment kids started running away from her, she thought they were trying to ask her to run towards them. And that’s exactly what she used to do.

She was there when my mother served me an ultimatum that it’s either the dogs or her in the house. She was there when few of my marriage alliances made faces looking at her. She was seeing all of it. And so was I. We have seen all of it together.

Yesterday, she was panting restlessly and walking all over the house. Someone said the dog knows what to do when it gets the labor pain. We made her bed and gave her all that she wants. But our Tara Madam has her own ways… She kept on running here and there until I had to shift her bed on my bed and make her sleep beside me.

There… right when I looked at her eyes and started patting her… She let out a huge sigh and then drifted off to sleep. Nature has given motherly instincts to everyone. But, during these times, along with the instincts, one needs to also understand that domesticated dogs look for some love and affection from their owners during these times.

Stand by your dogs when they need you. Don’t just shake it off and say “Come on… they know what to do”. Ofcourse, they know what to do. But your mere presence can make a lot of difference for the momma dog, in calming her down (especially when you have more than one dog in the same house). For a dog, which has not seen anybody else in its life other than you, your presence makes a very positive impact. I have had a neighbour who always loved dogs and their company but was too disgusted to clean their plates or make their bed. I used to wonder whether she really loved them or not. Because unconditional love sees beyond the food plates, their vomits or loose stools. Pure love understands the limitations that these four-legged angels come with. You can’t say that I want a clean house without having some fur all over your house.

There are times when you feel like pulling your hair and screaming. But you will endure it easily if you remember why did you get your dog in the first place. With little love and affection, nothing is hard to conquer in this world. Because we all are beautiful souls looking for love and acceptance from others.

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Love helps anybody get up from pain. Affection and attention are two little ingredients that can transform you in ways unimaginable. Acceptance of others weakness and embracing them with love and care are some qualities which build character in a person.

Be kind to one another. And do not take anyone for granted.

“Choose your love and love your choice” – Thomas S Monson.

Posted in Daily Prompts

Why I Took A Break From Self-Help Books


Self-help books are great. They help us find the center of our Universe and enlighten us on the most important priorities of life. But, what if your whole reading list contains only self-help books?

Well, this was me a year back.

Picking up every damn book from the bookstore written by Robin Sharma, Wayne Dyer, Norman Vincent Lewis etc.

In the end, I realized, I needed a break from all these books to figure out what works the best for me (not some big guy selling too much philosophy in each book).

So why did I do this to myself?

What made this transition happen?

Just a 30-days Reading Challenge from different genre helped me realize that self-help books are great just once in a while. Theories like “Wake up at 5 am and be like a robot, make time sheets, track your food intake” sounds sweet on paper, but how about practicing at least 1% of those rituals in actual reality?

In the self-help genre after reading 10 books from the same author, you literally start beating yourself up in order to keep up with the “ideal life” mentioned in the book. Life is imperfect. And life is best enjoyed with all the imperfections around us. The more you beat yourself up, the more screwed up it becomes.

On the contrary, if you just let it go and try to figure out the recipe that works best for you, you will eventually win. Like no matter who says wake up at 5, what if, your office hours and your routine demand you to take rest till 8 am and be up until late night 12:00 am.

Similarly, someone may say, travel every weekend and get lost in the woods. But what if you are an introvert who enjoys more time in the reading room than roaming outside?

The best option in all these cases is to give yourself a break from all the ideal life philosophies and figure out what works best for you. Understand what interests you the most, what works the best for your life and plan your life accordingly. This not only lowers your stress but also helps you understand that there is no point in being so hard on yourself.

Allow all the noise inside your head to settle down. Take a deep breath and keep that goddamn self-help book back in the shelf. Be yourself first rest everything will fall in place.

Posted in Daily Prompts

Take That Half An Hour Away From Your Day For Yourself


We all pretend to be super busy whole day. We let days slip by right in front of us, only to regret it later “Wish I had started back then”.

But guess what, you can take control over your destiny. All you need is that decent thirty minutes of break wherein you forget everything else and just focus on who you want to be, and what you want to do.

A careful and honest evaluation of one’s own day reveals lot of flaws within our own routines.

I used to procrastinate a lot. I used to constantly forget my inner GPS and stray away from my personal and professional goals.
Thanks to Youtube, I stumbled across this beautiful video by Jay Shetty and it taught me a simple mechanism. The 30 min rule!

I tried this method constantly for two weeks and here is my obeservation:

  1. I feel much more accomplished at the end of the day.
  2. I am able to complete more tasks from my to-do list.
  3. Mind is very uncluttered.
  4. I don’t feel the loss of enthusiasm at my workplace anymore.
  5. It has taught me the energy vampires that used to suck the majority of my time from my daily routine.

I request all of you to go through the video once and try the thirty-minutes rule in your daily life.

“Your future is created by what you do today, not tomorrow”

Choose your time wisely and live your life more productively.

Lots of love,
ARK

Posted in Ramcharitmanas

My Fascination Towards Ramcharitmanas


It all started during my degree college days when I had “Sunderkaand” as a compulsory book for Hindi First Language paper. The book which was given to us was an excerpt from the epic poem “Ramcharitmanas” by Goswami Tulsidas.

Here are some of the facts that really attracted me to go beyond the syllabus and start exploring the beauty of Ramcharitmanas:

  1. The poem was composed by one of the world’s greatest poet in Hindi i.e. Goswami Tulsidas in 16th Century.
  2. The book “Ramcharitmanas” is considered to be one of the finest pieces of literature in Hindi.
  3. During the composition of the book, the poet came across a million hurdles. But Tulsidas was relentless to complete the whole book.
  4. Little do people know, that Tulsidas wrote this during the reign of King Akbar and also he existed in the era of William Shakespeare.
  5. The way the whole poem is written is something which is worth reading at least once in a lifetime.
  6. The endless descriptions and personifications and the usage of words literally makes one fall in love with Awadhi and Hindi.

I then started hunting for the big book of Ramcharitmanas by Gita Press and every time on Flipkart and Amazon, this book was out of stock.

Finally, after years of search, I caught hold of the thick print and hard paperback edition of Ramcharitmanas by Gita Press at Ragigudda Hanuman Temple, JP Nagar, Bangalore.

With an amazing offer which was there for the book, I took this and that’s how my journey with Ramcharitmanas started.

Each line and each paragraph or quartet carries such beautiful message for mankind. One should go ahead and start reading it in order to experience the bliss of Ramcharitmanas.