Learnings- the way to retain

I had studied probability and statistics (a little more seriously) as a Phd student. Since then I used the concept sparingly.

13 years later, I recall so little about the same; limited to the basic concept. The only instance of using it explicitly came when I was to forecast the lifecycle of batteries being manufactured.

In practical world, you are expected to offer solutions within hours. There is little time to revisit your past learning, demand for additional data from stakeholders, and submit your workings. Though, implicitly the past learning of the concepts does help and shape your decision-making most of times; exceptions being when impulsive.

Hence, the learning from my past is that you are not an expert on a subject till you can teach or practice. We may not get to practice but we can always teach to retain what is learned.

Workouts- settling for a routine

Last year in April, I started focusing on running as exercise over cycling. I chose Punjab University ground for workouts. Unlike to my usual routine of extended but slow workouts, I opted to go for shorter but more rigorous ones. I usually did 4-5 short sprints post a 1.5 km warm-up.

This routine continued till July month, before I left for my third Ladakh trip. Post returning, I exercised on 4 days and gentle walks on other 3 days of the week.

After returning from the bike trip, I restarted cyling hoping to finally settle down with my favorite sport. But I could not continue with it for long. A 60 km ride made me feel so tired that I did not spend time stretching exercises later.

For remaining part of the year, I continued changing my routine every few weeks. When I chose running, I felt well exercised but usually suffered from pain in calf muscles.

Cycling gave me a moderate but extended workouts. But limited stretching post cycling made me feel heavy and dull.

Chadar trek in Jan made me walk on ice for some 70 km over a span of six days. Post returning, I continued my walks followed with extended exercises for abdomen, shoulders, legs etc.

By April, I decided to follow a mixed routine; cycling on weekends and walk and running atleast every alternate days. I have kept changing my mind. I love cycling but when I feel missing my fitness benchmark I return to running.

I am yet to settle into a particular sport. I am not sure if I need to. May be this is the best routine to follow- alternating between cycling and running every few months.

Likelihood of a debt trap.. again?

I was pretty content to have done away with all debt in my life, till recently though. But I feel like falling for it again secretly. Secretly, since I am yet to openly acknowledge to my family that I am ready to fall into the debt trap again.

As per the formal accounting conventions, no asset can be created without debt or cash. So for all practical purposes, it is still economical to borrow to acquire an asset and then repay the debt in equated monthly installments.

The inherent assumption in equated monthly installment rationale is certainty of future cash flows and hence, an implied ability to repay.

So the culprit for all practical purposes is “certainty of future cash flows”.

Chitkul trip

Chitkul was chosen by me for two reasons. One, the roads were good unlike two years back when I was on my bike trip to spiti. Two, the destination, at an altitude of 11k feets, will be pretty cold to let us experience cold weather in summers.

Drive from Chandigarh is usually 13 to 14 hours but it is advised not to overstretch the drive to reach Chitkul the same day. Our halt was at Rampur Bushahr for the June 20 night.

Rampur is pretty hot given its low altitude after descending from Narkanda. We needed air conditioned rooms to get a good sleep in the night.

Chitkul is 120 km ahead, a 5-hour, drive from Rampur Bushahr. The road from Karcham is a narrow one. One cannot average more than 15 km an hour while ascending towards Chitkul.

Sangla is a popular destination enroute to Chitkul. Given the easy availability of hotels and home stays, it seemed most tourists would be optimg to park themselves in Sangla and the plan a day trip ahead to Chitkul and the last border post.

We reached Chitkul by 12 noon and stayed at The Wanderer’s Nest. The place is costly but food is good and and can surprise many about the variety in their menu.

Chitkul is a village with less than 30 houses and is very clean. The village has a basket ball court and a villey ball court. We could see kids playing volley ball and badminton too. We did not see any kid with a mobile phone. Only BSNL services run and that too with 2G services only. So may be this is a blessing in disguise.

The locals would guide us to a short trek towards North of the village during evening hours to view the sunset and towards South for a 4-hour trek to view Black Galcier.

I tried the Black Glacier trek which is muddy, narrow, and a steep trek. I returned after climbing for 1 1/2 hours.

Three narrow streams flowing through the village add to the beauty of the village. And spending some time on the banks of the BASPA river is also refreshing.

Mourning Manik

I once asked him, “When do you sleep?”. He said pretty casually, “While travelling or a few naps here and there, whenever possible.” I never saw him feeling sleepy.

He never had a day-off from work. He was always cheerful and soft spoken. He had troubles and concerns about his business but he never seemed overwhelmed by them.

He was literally never free and hence did not take family vacations. His life was a hurried one that involved falling for the love of his life, fathering his only son and ensuring continuity of his business.

His parents and his elder brother could have bailed him out pretty early, but for reasons unknown, they could not. I recall he mentioning about the debt burden, he inherited, that cannot be repaid by liquidating his unit. The debt trap engulfed his work and family life. He struggled but still stayed on.

Five years ago when I met him, he was bald and still driving his scooter. He had calls to attend every now and then while he volunteered to pick me from airport. He was bald and had a pot belly.

His persistence at work was taking a toll on him. And yet he put up a smile of an optimist. He smartly dodged any sympathetic gestures and defended his individuality and self-respect.

On June 7, 2018 he was at home when he complained of some uneasiness. He requested his family friend to drive him to the nearest hospital. He gave up while on the way. He was declared dead at the hospital.

My friend is dead. A friend of times when I was unsettled and poor. A friend who always cheered me up. A friend who never disagreed to what I said. A friend who listened patiently.

I will miss him since he was not even 50 when he gave up. He called me a week back and I replied, “I call you back.” I should have taken his call. He must have had something to talk about.

Our Manik is no more. God! please rest his soul in peace. He is tired. Manik, it will be tough for Shalu without you but then your son is a blessing.

I will remember you once again, if I can, when I breath my last.

Next Steps- deciding on first list of subjects

It will not be easy for my daughter to decide on her career interests so early in age. With her limited reading outside her school textbooks, I decided to start suggesting a list of subjects that she should pick-up. I am pretty sure, by this approach of mine, I will not be deciding for her. My suggestions are just going to help her learn the process of deciding.

The subjects she should pick-up are:

a. Social science: With increasing role of technology in our daily lives, the paradigm of social science goes beyond human-to-human interaction. An exposure to the basic science, will lay a strong foundation for her.

b. Psychology: Specialising in Psychology will help her master the theories pertaining to human behaviour. I will personally share findings from latest empirical research to keep her abreast with the relevance of theories she studies in her curriculum.

c. Consumer Behaviour: This is a subject mostly on the application side of Psychology. This course has to be done outside of her regular curriculum since there are hardly any institutes offering it as a specialisation in India.

d. Research Methodology: This course will help her learn research design, conducting empirical studies and comprehend the existing empirical studies better. Post this coursework, I will not have to summarise the findings as mentioned above in point b.

e. Designing: Design is omnipresent in everything we use, engage or interact with. A formal course on ‘design’ as a subject will help her learn the design principles better.

f. Software programming: Some exposure to coding will help tune her logical skills to applying them. May be she codes our her first software product herself.

g. A design software: Adobe photoshop remains the most common and effective application to express creativity.

Once she is done with these 7 subjects in a span of 5 year post 2019, she in my opinion can be:

a. Behavioural scientist

b. UI/UX designer with a Software company

c. Set up her own independent research/product design company

d. And so much more

I have to be sensitive about not enforcing any of my opinions or viewpoints on her, atleast explicitly. After it is for her to decide her future.

Next Step!

My daughter completes her schooling next year in June. I have been madated by my spouse to help our daughter decide the field of education she should pursue for further studies.

My wife believes the impending decision is a high-stakes one and cannot be taken impulsively. Of course she is right but I am personally more concerned about ‘being prepared to be wrong’.

If we reciprocate a high-stakes decision with an equivalent financial commitment then we risk ‘not prepared for being wrong’. For instance, what if I end up paying Rs 1 cr for a medical seat and she decides midway of her graduation to drop and do something else.

Rather, I will provision for atleast 10 different options she tries her hand at before zeroing on one that helps get money and satisfaction.

And I will ensure she is not constrained by the limited choices offered in higher secondary education- non-medical, medical, commerce, and home science.