Valentine’s day

We celebrate 21st anniversary of proposing each other on Valentine’s day today. Its been two decades since we ended the ambiguity about our relationship and still the excitement is afresh in our memories.

But that confession never meant that we may not have anymore valentine’s in our lives. But this may not have been obvious/ desired twenty years back when we had fenced our world between two of us. No one mattered us more than each one of us. We had, even limited our parents involvement in our lives.

But with every passing year, as we grew being more confident about our relationship, we ventured to spread and add more of us- crazy lovers- but I added far less than what she did.

But the crux of every such engagement was to live and live fully this life of ours.

I won’t mind including individuals in my valentine who were of same gender as me.

Burhan Dalal- he completed my assignments submission at college when I dated her. He pure to heart and full of respect for us till date.

Malik- my junior as a cyclist who lied to his elder brother to let me date her.

Simran- my sister who did not ask me for a refund. She paid for her trip to Indore when we got married secretly.

Rahul- for all his subtle support except when he drove her to nearest bus stop to elope with me on his LML Vespa two-wheeler.

Debraj- his blunt advise of quality of our married life and having a kid so early. Debraj, pls do not mind, it was not as explicit as mentioned here by me. You blessed us by visting us last week.

Manik- for being our first family friends. Manik and Shalu shared a similar rebellion history as ours.

Shalu- you being so practical but never so when it came to welcoming us at your place and feeding us with hand-made delicacies.

Shivam- a toddler ( son of Manik and Shalu) who made me experience being an elder brother (Pal Bhaiyya).

Pushpal- a down-to-earth but highly sensitive professional at work who fell for me to let his subtle care fall on me.

Reeta- most trustworthy at work and went on to be a great family friend. Daughter to two twins, she carries an unique aura of selfless (coupled with cautious) care and attention, only for us. I cannot forget the first and only lunch at her place.

Anjali- how can she be so similar to my own sister who shares same day of birth? She has to be warned, alrerted, and cared for at times , but simply out of my insecurity/possessiveness about her.

I am in Chandigarh since I turned 40 and yet to have a valentine here. But both of us have found our parents as valentines’, caring and demanding and yet so subtly.

I am grateful to you all. Never is a valentine owned only for selfish purposes.

Art of executing well

Actions measured/rated for ‘Outcomes’ are at best tasks. This was my underlying thought in response to my wife’s query on how can kids deal with stress during exams. In my personal life, I am known to be fixated in my thoughts, deliberative and contemplative. This is what my spouse thinks about me and she is right.

When I introspected further, I realised that I am an ‘outcome’ focused as well. For instance, brushing and taking a bath is a task for me. Diving further, into my contemplative-mind, I could relate how exercising is a task for me and hence easily built into my daily routine. Over the years, writing a few sentences in my personal diary is also a task.

Anything that does not need much forethought is a task for me. Quite rightly, Daniel Kahneman talks about ‘System 1’ and ‘System 2’. We can be productive if most of our decisions shift to ‘System 1’ of our brains. Daniel lists quick/fast as a trait of using System 1.

Last week, my boss was upset when his marketing executive replied that she was working on social media strategy. He was upset with the use of ‘strategy’. He would have been delighted if she instead, shared the list of tasks she completed. My approach at work is same. When the purpose is clear, there cannot be anything else to think except to execute well, using ‘System 1 and making it happen.

Chadar Trek- what makes it difficult?

  1. Walking with small steps when each feet is lifted just least from gound and landing as flat as possible.
  2. Extremely low temperatures with limited Sunlight
  3. Windy weather especially in evenings and night
  4. Balancing on hard uneven and crystal ice patches
  5. Crossing over the broken stretches of Chadar by wading through water
  6. Walking over the steep hills with loose rocks when Chadar is broken
  7. Tuning the body cycle to the trek schedule

Trek begins by 8 am everyday and hence waking hour is between 5:30 am to 6 am. At this hour the fingers and foot frozen. No amount of heating works except to start walking on Chadar ASAP.

The trek is about walking on river bed with steep mountain range on both banks of the Zanskar river. So mostly no sunlight on Chadar.

Face mask covering the nose and sunglasses do not go together during the trek due to fog forming on glasses. Not a single step can be taken without looking ahead where the foot is going to land. If this discipline is not followed the chances of slipping are very high.

The walking style to be adopted involves keeping hip muscles stiff and knees straight. Neck should be facing the ground at 60 degree angle to the whole body. Due to this walking posture, the strain on hips, shoulders and neck is severe. And this can increase manifold if carrying a heavy trekking bag. It’s advisable not carry any bag on shoulders that weighs more than 5 kgs.

Chadar gets damaged if using spike shoes to walk. The porters do not appreciate this and do not mind giving a stare as well. We should use normal walking shoes and gum boots as back-up option when having to wade through broken sections of Chadar.

Some other things to take care of are:

a. Carry extra pair of socks and gloves that are to be used while sleeping only.

b. Stretching of body parts at every resting point will help relax better

c. One of the key things to prepare for is getting up early that is 5 am. Body cycle should be well tuned to this and hence will need to be adopted 3-4 months ahead of the trek.

It’s a trek that will soon be history.

Relevance of a horoscope in life

It’s true for most Indians to have their horoscopes prepared. I am no exception to this. The astrologers prepare a basic horoscope called ‘tewa’ (hindi word for a shorter version of the horoscope focused on planetary positions at the time of birth). But I am not sure if ‘tewa’ as interpreted in the parantheses above is correct.

When kid is a teen, a more detailed version is prepared hoping to address several dilemmas likes of career to choose, probable marriage year etc. This, in my opinion served as a very important guiding resource for parents who were both, ambitious and anxious at same time.

It’s pretty interesting to read the narrative – the least technical part – akin to an essay by an astrologer or a software program (in most cases) uttering it’s own interpretations about your life. I read mine whenever I reach a store box in my closet. The pic below outlines what goes into a box with the horoscope. And accidentally though, it’s pretty logical.

Year 2017 in my life

I have been documenting every day of my life for fourth straight year. Some feelings and thoughts evolve while some stay unchanged and unmoved for years.

I was happy relocating to Chandigarh after staying in Delhi for nine years. We did not take long to settle down and get back to our routines.

I gained stamina with short and intense workouts but still gained 4 kgs.

Mentally, I was restless and unsure. The extract below outlines my thoughts:

The plan for third consecutive trip to Ladakh was well on track. Inspired by the “Data Visualization” book that I was reading, I tried to draw the 15-day bike trip.

Rafting on Zanskar river was the first one of my life. We could get the video shot by the guide as well. However, we could not cover some new places as planned. We were tired and rested for 4 days in Leh.

We had agreed to let-go the invitation for Canada Immigration. My parents had decided to sell the house that I owned in my hometown. I debt-free by August-end after paying-off the outstanding on the home loan from sale receipts.

I lost my grandmother in August. She was 100 plus and left us peacefully.

Back to my longing for activity and adventure, within a month of returning from Ladakh trip, I decided to go for Chadar trek. I am now scheduled to leave for the trek on Jan 13, 2018.

I felt irritated by the amount of time spent on my handphone. I was thinking about it since Jan-17. Finally, I succeeded in Oct. 2017 and deleted my Whatsapp account and uninstalled Facebook from handphone.

I was in bed by 9:00 pm on most days through out the year given short transit time to office and home. My waking times did not change though.

I read “In Praise of Slowness” and attempted adopting the message quite religiously. After a long time, I was taking things easily and was at peace.

I did not click much during the year. Most were clicked using the iphone 5S.

We finally decide to have a pet. On Nov 12, 2017 after returning from Jassica’s annual function, we bought a 4 week old Beagle puppy. We are now spending lot of time with him.

My elder daughter is back from boarding school after completing her academic year. She now rejoins the school in Feb 2018 to complete 10th year at school.

Monica and kids are now at home enjoying winter break. An eventful year is about to end.

Call for action: acts of dishonesty

My friend was critiqued for failing to cover for probable loss due to acts of dishonesty by the Company’s customers. The scheme was a big success till few learnt to exploit it. The loss was a few crores by the time the flaw in the sales promo scheme could be capped.

Most e-commerce players- atleast in India for sure- lose money failing to have a right approach to deal with such acts that, at best, are acts of dishonesty. For instance, the biker assigned the task of delivering the product to customer does not return the cash collected from customer.

When asked to return, he negotiates for having it adjusted in tranches from his earnings as a delivery person. He probably does not consider this as a fraud but a small favor from a large company to attend to his urgent needs of cash.

In such situations, legal help does not come quickly and there is little hope of having a quick recovery of the lost cash. Instead, the delivery person treats this as a good ‘job security’ deal.

There are many such acts of dishonesty we come across in our daily lives and indulge personally, as well. We are so adept at rationalizing our acts of dishonesty that we do not have a ‘guilt feeling’.

“Cheating is lot easier when it’s a step removed from money”, as per Dan Ariely in Predictably Irrational.

For sure a call for action

The anxious me!

I will be completing 1 year in Chandigarh on Dec 18, 2017. I don’t know where do I want to go from here.

My ageing side may asks me to stay and stop. But the anxious side may reason, don’t trust humans to be able to rest except when death wants me to.

So I may move on soon till I am dead. Where now?