Learning to be ‘Slow’

Few days back I realised that I was keeping myself busy. In my ‘free’ time I kept myself busy with my favourite pastimes- reading writing, photography and fitness. I was rushing into every activity in my pastime. I felt it was a spillover from the work environment in my office. Is it that I enjoy being busy? Is it that I had fallen in love with ‘speed’? I had no straight answers to any of these questions.

I digged deeper in trying to visualize my behavior when ‘free’. I learnt to watch television was not my favorite pastime, music seemed too loud to me and newspapers distractive. I wanted to do too many things together, but concurrently limit my engagement to productive activities only.

I may have fallen for ‘speed’ in life. Last Sunday, I recall having read a book by one of disciples of Swami Chinmayananda on mediation- how to calm our minds?

And the recent read, “In praise of Slowness” by Carl Honore majorly reconfirms the symptoms of ‘speed’. I will now learn to be ‘slow’ interspersed between days of hurried life.

Death! I lost my grandparents

“Death” is simply “end of life”. As I have grown older, I have been getting more accommodative about it. 

Thirty years back, I was a kid and could not even believe loosing my grandarents forever. Even a thought made me restless those years. I use to talk to God in those years and dare him to do so. 
I lost my grandfather 10 years back. I noticed that I was not even close to the extreme feelings I had as a kid. I visited him when he was unconscious lying in a hospital, breathing his last. I held his hand and called him, saying “its me” and he could just raise one of his eyebrow to acknowledge. He loved me a lot and I loved him too. He passed away a couple of days later and I did not return to attend his last rites. He is still alive in my memories. I still talk to him in my dreams talking to me the way he use to. 
My grand mother breathed her last on August 22 2017. She was well past her 100 years in this world. She had lost her appetite 10 days before she left us.
 She was visiting me in Chandigarh earlier this year. When I use to step-in to her room to touch her- as if trying to find the same motherly touch- she, at times, failed to recognise me. But when she did, she asked me a question that made me defensive and uncomfortable. Her question was, “Do you earn enough?” She said, “You have your parents and kids to look after.” 

Today, when she has suddenly (yet predictable) gone from our lives, I am in tears. I regret being assuring her ‘all is well’. But given her age, I could have only assured her. 
She said, “Grandson should attend the funeral of grandparents. And when I die, and it can be anytime, please do come.” My mother stepped in joking, “how will you know he is around?” My grandmother went mum. But her desires and expectations did not fade even when she visualised, she being dead and carried to funeral on shoulders of near and dear ones. 
My parents who are also past their sixties, at times, sounded exhausted with effort in caring for her. They also sounded emotional while sharing their versions of conversations with my grandmother. Some of it being like “how are we going to live without you?”
I was informed about her demise at 8 pm on Aug 22, 2017, after I returned home from “work”. I cried in washroom. I cried before my wife saying, “the pain is same irrespective of whether you weep for soemone young or old, for an unxepected and an expected death.” Why did I feel so sad when even my grandmother wished she lives no more? 
I have no answers. I am pained for her end. I am lost in making myself ‘prove’ at work. I am really lost, expecting any concession on being pained by the loss. I smile when at work. My colleagues can never know what I feel. They feel only for what they lose. 
That’s life. Learning for me continues….

When Am I breathing last here?

No Point – thinking about a few things in life

Most of the times my mind is thinking a lot many things, but not able to focus singly on one issue. I lost a few productive hours of my day. But I do not want to lose them henceforth.

I have been focusing on reviewing my cognitive thinking and finding it to be mostly following a historical path. No amount of reasoning and self-control is helping it take a more ‘rational’ approach. The thinking continues to be extensions of past experiences.  My concerns center around destiny, uncertainty, commitment, results from hard work, success as a ‘random event’ and death – ending life.

The best I can afford is ‘ignore’ when these concerns come to mind. I have fallen for them in the past. I have subjected my ‘heart’ to the same rut that my mind has been repeating. The ‘unlearning’ has failed till date until when I am tipsy.

Over the years, I have realized that there is no point in deliberating about few things. There is no point even talking about them.

Ladakh Again

After several months of planning and itineary preparation we set out for our third consecutive trip to Ladakh. 

We started on July 8 morning from Chandigarh and returned on July 18 2017. This trip was shortest of the past two trips.

Biking on roads at high altitudes is something we have got accustomed to. We face no major health issues and when it comes to speed and control of our bikes, we have got better, every passing year. 

Key highlights of the trip were:

A. We did not follow the itinerary strictly. We ventured onto Zanskar Sumdo road but after covering some 30 km we decided to return. We did not reach Krugiak. The roads are bad but worst was that the area was deserted with no tourists at all. I had personally expected some pleasant weather and landscape that were different from the usual Ladakh landscape.

B. We did stop at Keylong when I realized that I had left my wallet at a dhaba in Marhi- enroute Rohtang pass. Thanks for the cooperative policeman who helped us trace it and then instruct his colleagues at Marhi police station to keep it safe till I we returned.

C. It did not rain en-route this year and despite being at high altitudes it was unusually very hot- may be we were comparing our experience to last year same period.

D. We experienced rains in Leh for the first time. Khardungla was closed on the day we planned to head to Nubra Valley. Further, Shyok river was flooded and not safe for biking. We dropped the plan to head towards Nubra Valley and via Shyok to Tso Moriri lake. 

E. We spent lot of time on recording videos of the moments unlike in last two years when I atleast focused on taking pics.

F. All three of us left our belongings couple of times. Lucky to find them back though.

G. We had two friends joining us at Leh.

H. Breakfast paid by Imran was one of the best I had in sometime. Fell in love with oats porridge mixed with pieces of banana and sprinkled liquid chocolate.

I. Mohsin was much fitter compared to last year.

J. Aditya had gained weight. Further, was more confident while riding his bike. Though he kept missing Sunil – his fellow rider from last year.

K. We promised not to return back to Ladakh and if we did not go beyond Leh to Pangong lake and or Nubra Valley. 

L. We split with Swati and she decided to return from Sarchu.

M. I wanted to find sometime alone and focus on few things I would have loved to but could not do so.

N. Aditya had his raincoat tangled in rear spricket of his bike and Mohsin was lucky not to get hurt while helping Aditya pull his bike out of a rough patch on muddy road with loose gravels and water overflowing. 

O. Main market of Leh is a place to spend good time. We did justice to this time. We tried Punjabi Tadka, Brazil Cafe and Ladakh-Yeti cafe.

P. Walking for some 30 minutes post a full day of ride is very relaxing.

Q. When it comes to riding at high altitudes limit the ride to max 100 km per day.

R. Was enlightened about Israel and its citizens by Khursheed.

S. We may do North east and or Bhutan next year. 


“WE” – Mohsin, Aditya, Jaspal

“Two friends”- Aatif and Khursheed

Next steps with Data Visualization skills

I have been spending a lot of time watching videos and Ted talks on ‘data visualization’.
The constraint of not trying anything new – except a few mountains with sun shining above and a stream flowing from within the mountains towards plains; max a boat could be added with a few birds in flight- in ‘drawing’ as a subject in my childhood reflects on my poor visualization skills. 

I was getting carried away by a thought- if I have a good data visualization software, I can do a great job at visualization. This was true till today morning when after watching a Ted talk on data visualization, I decided to instead focus on data sets that I intend to collect and then try understanding it better. Representing them using a software comes later.

So start with I intend to capture the word count of my blog posts since 2006. And then may be use of some positive or negative adjectives. 

Now, I believe having a story to share and share it sooner.

Debt and Decisions

Some 5 years back, my investment advisor addressed my dilemma to build personal assets, savings etc. but asked me to create a liability first. This was quite logical and I am being a finance professional had been raising debt for companies that was at least twice their own equity in the business.

In 2012, I heeded to the advise and raised a home and a personal loan. I used the money to buy a house. With this decision the incremental outflow was going to be 45% of my monthly income. I sensed pressure on cash flows for first few months.

I stopped checking my bank account frequently. Passed on the responsibility of managing the household expenses to my spouse. I diverted my attention to other details in life as if saving money was a foregone thought. I did have moments of fear and helplessness. I exploited my credit card limits to meet my urgent needs of cash and in repayment made the issuing bank double its profits.

Today, after 5-year repayment, I decided to sell the property and foreclose the debt. This will give me the needed cash inflow to create liquid asset that has no corresponding liability to meet. However, no wealth created in process.

The main reason for not creating wealth is lack of discipline. I have come to believe its only self to be responsible for decisions.