Monday, April 2, 2018

HOW TO NOT BE BUSIER THAN YOUR NEIGHBOURHOOD CAT 101

(5 minutes read)

With over 6 months to the last post and 2.5 years to the last article, I’m making a habit of spacing out  writing. Spacing out writing gives you large pockets of time to think about anything under the sun. The result, often, is a mature point of view after covering multiple perspective or sometimes just a bag of crap. I hope I avoid the fate of the latter option.

So, I read this article recently on how busy life is getting and how we’re over-burdened to the point of exhaustion (Link here). As a closet workaholic whose reaction to organized chaos is delight on most occasions, I tend to agree that we’ve driven ourselves away from the basics and towards the idea of success/achievement at alarming Usain Bolt speeds. To justify my expensive MBA degree, I have explored this issue using a framework which can otherwise be communicated in a simpler manner. The list below is not exhaustive and possibly not a compilation of the most logically sanitized arguments. Having said that you’re free to challenge me and free to critique my reasoning (In your mind).

Question 1: Are we really busy in the first place?

Situation: Someone is talking and I have conveniently zoned out. I am thinking of biryani, of that pretty girl from work, of how Steve Smith could have potentially ended his glorious career. I nod as I generally do when I talk to people. I interrupt the person, recalling that I have something important to do (watch the latest GOT episode) and I leave. This brings me to the associated myth for this situation.

Myth: Pseudo achievement concept - The best time to do something important is right now so why not do it and finish it off.

Reality
: Not everything you do is urgent(Irrespective of importance). Taking time to introduce a life-saving matrix here: I was introduced to this matrix years ago to help me in times of distress. It has helped me make critical decisions like choosing between work and strategic sick leaves.





Recommendation: Looking at the above matrix, some non-urgent things can be pushed to a later time while some can be delegated/outsourced. While pseudo productivity will trick your brain into thinking you’re achieving something, you’re really better off scheduling and planning. Something like wearing a batman costume to office may be important but not urgent while responding to your manager's mail may be urgent but not important. I agree that it's a complex world and not everything is black & white. The idea is to improve decision making, not overhaul it. Trust priorities, choose your battles smartly and fight them well. Don't be Oberyn Martell.

Question 2: What is causing this lack of time in life?

Situation: I am working in office on an important project. It’s my dog’s birthday. The aforementioned entity is expecting a video call, a call at the very least. I am so busy with work and calls that I lose track of time and I forget there was a birthday. I realize much later that I’ve missed an important event. Now, I’m frustrated, sad and still overworked. I carry this guilt with me and it causes dissatisfaction. My dog is not talking to me anymore. Add up enough such events and I blame the government, my job and the Bengaluru traffic(in that order). You can put yourselves in my shoes and replace birthday with any other important event.

Myth: I just don’t have the time/ My job is the reason for all my problems.

Reality: You are just facing a bad resource allocation problem.

Recommendation: Simply put, you sow shit, you reap crap. The first and foremost thing to do is to stop, relax and, reflect for some time. See where you spend most of your time - whether it is binge watching Saas bhi Kabhi Bahu thi or gossiping with your neighbourhood uncle. Use this Excel below to identify how much time you use on a daily basis on certain activities. 


This is just a basic excel I created on the go. Try to bunch activities and limit yourself to 8 broad activities(No, facebook debates cannot be included). Following a Lean mindset, identify the Value adding and Non-Value adding activities. Retain activities that you think you need(Non-value activities are important too, in moderation) and eliminate inefficiencies. You're smart. You'll do it. Piece of cake.


Question 3: We are busy but we aren’t satisfied. Why is being extremely busy linked to dissatisfaction so closely?

Situation 2
: I’m sitting at home, watching a movie/sitcom while I chomp on rice without a care about carbs(It's a part of growing up and giving up on your stomach fat). I get a call from home. I start talking and I’m edging to get away to my movie/sitcom. With all the self-awareness, I understand in my mind that this is wrong. I wrap up the call within 5 minutes and resume my movie knowing at the back of my head that I'd have made the best son list at number 123342, 15 positions behind a drunk Shah Rukh Khan from Devdas.

Myth: I just don’t have much time to interact with friends and family.

Reality: This again is a subset resource allocation issue. You’re draining time on the wrong activities.

Recommendation: I’ve come to observe that 3 apps on my phone consume the most of my time. They are: Google Chrome (For Fb/Articles), Instagram and Zynga Poker. These apps assit me in my relentless pursuit and mastery of procrastination. Work, sleep, food habits, and daily interactions have all been made to revolve around these apps. I have also noted that whenever I travel and stay away from these apps for some time, I suddenly find so much time that I end up reading Chetan Bhagat novels and watching Jaani Dushman for the (n+1)th time (n tends to infinity).

I have no great suggestions here. Point blank - recognize the elephant in the room, make peace with the fact that the elephant is here to plunder your peace but make yourself in charge of how much time you give the elephant to shit on your daily plans.

I’m not pointing out anything path-breaking here. I’m only consolidating all that we already know about the issue and perhaps a way to tackle it in an organized manner. Take a break, reflect and I’m sure that you will find out things that you can alter which will make your life more productive with a very high “Life” Index.

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GYAN Section - Read at Will


I thought of a preachy list of things I have learnt over the years. This list of activities has helped me keep myself at peace for most parts and follow the things I love with all my heart:

  1. Discipline vs. Inspiration: Disciplined dedicated hours help and proper time/resource allocation makes it even better. Stopping kidding yourself and running on only inspiration as fuel. If the hours ain’t there, it ain’t happening.
  2. Hobby Cycle: Maximize time on things that make you tick – If your job is not something you are very happy about and you love to run behind dogs, reserve a time to do so. If you don’t do things that give you confidence, you bottle yourself up and set yourself up for misery.
  3. The pursuit of Happiness: Success is self-defined, satisfaction is a state of such accumulated successes and happiness is a state of such accumulated bits of satisfaction. The core is what you define as your metrics for success. Mess that up and you're a cribber for life.
  4. Invest in Experiences: Spending time with family/friends is always a good idea; taking road trips to places, traveling far and wide is perhaps one of the better educators; investing time in self-improvment also goes a long way. Don’t indulge in experiences at the expense of other important things. Make time before your time meets you.
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A flipside argument to following a “non-busy” approach is that it might breed mediocrity and lead to complacency in life. But the biggest assumption within that premise is based on the idea of productivity. I’m willing to believe that if you’re highly productive in your hours at work, you can take long breaks and vacations, and still shine your way through appraisals(I'm kidding, your leadership should like you).

I understand that I've been extremely ideal here but idealism is difficult unless you're Rahul Dravid. Piecemeal improvements are the way to go here. Even if there is one element within this article that you can adopt and improve upon, it would make me extremely glad and constitute a success in my self-defined success framework. And haven't we all learnt now that it would make me happy eventually?

If the line above made no sense, please re-read the article again, but we all know ain't nobody got time for that! :P

Do write to me in case of any feedback/queries on the article at sahilkaul1991@gmail.com

Keep hustling! 

Peace. J

Sunday, September 17, 2017

क्या हो गयी ज़िंदगी


आज सब्ज़ी वाले की दुकान पर सड़े हुए टमाटर देख के ख़याल आया
की तराज़ू के वज़न पे कट रही है ये नाज़ुक ज़िंदगी हमारी

कभी हुआ करते थे हम भी राजा अपनी बादशाहत के
आज कल नौकर बने घूमते हैं घर के काम निपटाने के लिए

कभी आलू कम पड जाता है तो कभी प्याज़ का रोना आता है
कभी दाले नहीं ग़लती यहाँ तो कभी केला पड़े पड़े सड़ जाता हैं

क्या था कसूर उस प्यारी सी आलू गोबी का इस दुनिया मे
जो बैठी रही बाहर सारी रात एक मुलाक़ात की याद में तन्हा

सुबह आते आते ढल गयी थी ज़िंदगी की चिंगारी उसके आस से भरे दिल मे
ना मिली मुलाक़ात, मिली तो बस बिरयानी के कारण बेवफ़ाई और अकेलापन

बस यही सारी तक़लीफें होती तो होती क्या ज़िंदगी
पर जीने के लिए कपड़ा और मकान भी तो चाहिए यहाँ

कपड़े धोना दुश्मन से जंग करना लगता है
कभी पाउडर कम पड़ जाता है तो कभी पानी नही आता है

कभी सब सही हो भी गया तो भी कहाँ चैन मिले गंदे कपड़ो को
सही वक़्त पर एलेक्ट्रिसिटी बोर्ड हमारी गंदी लगा कर पावर ले जाता है

कमरे की सफाई मे दुनिया के राज़ निकलते हैं हर कोने से
2 महीने पहले खाई गयी आलू भुजिया अभी भी अलमारी मे फसि हुई है

हैरानी इस बात की भी है कीआधा खाया हुआ बिस्कट मिला पिल्लो के नीचे से
बेड के नीचे नज़र डाली तो दिख गया जूतो का एक छोटा सा बाज़ार

जीना कहाँ है आसान यहाँ, हर दिन एक अलग जद्दो जहद सी जारी है
पर है एक आज़ादी सी इस ज़िंदगी मे, एक अनोखी सी बेवकूफी सी चलती है


और लिखने का बहुत मन था पर तुम सब को भी क्या बताउ मित्रो,
हमारी दीदी आई है आज 2 दिन के बाद, खाना बनवाना है तो चलता हू |


Monday, March 6, 2017

EXISTENTIAL ANGST

Bustling with energy in a small corner of mindfulness
holding on to the sliver of truth, seething with rage
staring into nothingness with sheer disinterest towards anything
with the mind trapped in the confines of a cage

Thoughts of a world that could be reality
of sweet goodbyes, happy endings and endless care
deep forgotten longings have resurfaced again
seems like a distant feeling from the past, far too familiar

Stuck in a disarray of my own principles and morals
a deep concoction of my own perils served on an emphatic platter
any movement - forward or backwards is lined with dire consequences
I stand here on the edge of conscience unwilling to plunge

When the friendly is misconstrued, when the convivial is misjudged
when the trusted is mistrusted, when the benign is mistaken
the tall shards of glass come tumbling down on the bedrock of reality
when your fundamental idea of integrity is bruised and shaken

The mind still yearns for moments that will never exist
Unwittingly searching for answers to deep questions where they do not lie
Unable to do either, the mind unwillingly submits to the dark unknown
Plagued by mild anti-social escapist tendencies that stupefy

Wonder if it could all have been unthinkably remarkable,
had things gone right in an ideal world, free from any distortions
but is this life just a figment of my creative imagination?
what if we are all just tiny pods glorifying the liabilities of our mere existence?


. . . Peace!

Sunday, October 18, 2015

THE BAG THAT OUT-TRAVELS ME

Date: August 20th 2014. Place: Hyderabad.

A bag came into my life. It was a green colour Quechua Forclaz 60 litre bag. The bag was pretty and I was immediately hooked. The bag belonged to Majid Siddique who worked with me at Deloitte then. I borrowed it from him for a trek to the Jhindagada peak, the highest peak of Andhra Pradesh. He also gave me trekking shoes that I would rather not talk about. I was astounded at how much the bag could fit. I was so excited that I put everything in it that I could carry. The result was that on my very first 3-day trek, I carried a load of 12kgs on my back. The problem, however, was that I weighed almost the same as the bag (See photo below for reference). Carrying the bag was an honour that came at a big cost. I was depleted by the time I returned from the trek. Truly Madly Deeply spent. 


Skinny Paradise

(Left) In front of the Peak - (Right) On the peak(Literally on cloud Nine. I counted)

But as they say, the first time is always special (Trek or otherwise). I returned the bag back to to Majid. Less did I know that the bag would come back to me. Over the course of the next few months, the bag was carried for a few treks. The bag had already been on about 3-4 treks before I took it on my first. Majid offered to sell his bag and he made me an offer I couldn’t refuse. I accepted the offer and the bag was mine.

The first place I took the bag to was Hampi. While my other fellow travelers carried hefty suitcases, I literally lived out of a bag. All my stuff came out and went into the same bag. Result: I took at least half the time that anyone else would take to pack their stuff. Stuff it, zip it, forget it. The bag made me feel like Superman. The T-Shirt in the picture below is a mere coincidence.

Clarke Kaul

Meanwhile, Naveen, who also accompanied me on the Hampi trip, needed a bag to go to Leh, Ladakh and he borrowed the Green Quechua awesomeness. Cognizant of the remarkable advantages of the bag, he was keen on saving some energy while packing in the oxygen depleted atmosphere of Ladakh. I graciously offered it thinking that that even though I couldn’t go to Ladakh then, at least my bag would. Naveen could literally live out of the bag as well. The bag had now seen heights of 16000 feet and above. The bag was initiated to the Himalayas.

Come May and I went on my first Himalayan trek to Roopkund. The bag faced a heavy challenge. I had to pack upwards of 15 kgs into the bag. If my bag were Sita, this would be its Agni Pareeksha. I stuffed things everywhere possible. I also discovered that the bag had 2 additional pockets by the sides. Desperation is the mother of life-saving discoveries. This was a tough trek demanding an uphill climb of around 30-40 kms. I travelled with truckloads on my back but the bag was utterly faithful. Not once did it fail me. I walked in winds, in rain, in the chill of the night but the bag was sturdy and intact. I came back with fond memories and the bag was a witness to it all.



(Trying to be Alexander Supertramp

The bag isn’t visible. I’m just flaunting here. It’s a good picture en route Roopkund

In the coming months, the bag was taken by Naveen to Coorg, and by Suboth to Hampi(Again!! The bag has some connection with that place. I’m planning a solo trip to Hampi soon. That’d be a third for the bag)

A very interesting thing happened when Vivek Gupta borrowed this bag for his
Mullyangiri trek. On the 2nd day of the trek, news arrived that Vivek (our Roopkund trek organizer) and Sashi were lost in the jungles of Chikmanglur(Read here) . At first, I was worried about Vivek but after 5 minutes, I was worried about the bag. This was shallow on my part. I was told that Vivek and Sashi set out to search for the trail after leaving the bags behind with the other members of the team. I was not sure how to react to the news as I was still sad that Vivek was lost. I was worried that I would not be able to ever look at the bag if there was a tragedy on the trip. Luckily, both Vivek and Sashi made it out of the forest with a few scratches and leech bites, long after everyone had written their chances of survival off. The bag now had the tag of a survivor's bag.

In the month of August, I took a trip to Pondicherry and the bag followed. The bag was getting some serious miles under its belt(s) (like literally).

Now, there is this thing about me - If you know me, you’d know my love for mountains. Himachal Pradesh is one place I have been wanting to visit for quiet some time. As destiny would have it, my bag beat me to a trip to Himachal as well. Praneeth Nadella recently took the bag to Himachal Pradesh on the trek to Triund and Indrahar pass, a trek I’ve been planning since December 2014. I had a deal with Praneeth - I wanted a picture of the bag on the summit.

A moment of sombre reflection for the bag, thinking of all the days gone by

 Praneeth not only sent me pictures of the bag, he also took a picture of the bag with Shoib Akhtar (Yes, the fast bowler from Pakistan). My bag not only beats me in travels but it also meets celebrities along the way.

Praneeth made the shoulder hoops count

The bag is pretty special to me. It has become a part of my identity and the life of my travels. I hope to take it to Himachal, Ladakh - Stok Kangri and East India in the near future. If not Everest, this bag will at least go to the Everest Base Camp during its lifetime. For as long as it lasts, it shall be my travel companion and will always be my Trekking bag that out-travelled me, in style!

Come to think of it, I should have a name for the bag now. #Now_thinking


Peace. . . 

Saturday, July 18, 2015

PEACE IN THOSE MOUNTAINS

Dedicated to our guide Pushkar Singh who led us through the Roopkund expedition. He recently passed away trying to save a trekker who slipped on the trail. The news saddened us immensely and reminded us of our own trek. Pushkar hand-held us through tough stretches after we slipped on the trail ourselves. May your soul rest in Peace in those beautiful mountains, brother.

Edit(on 20th September): After a phone call recently, we got to know that Pushkar is alive. This was great news for us. The Roopkund memory shall still remain a sweet one. :)





In the midst of those cold windy paths,
Lies a valley surrounded by those beautiful clouds
The clouds sweep around the valley pouring down rain,
When they do move away, they bring in the bright sunlight




The paths I walk are long and arduous,
They ought to be for they lead to harsh terrains,
Beyond these terrains lie the lands of extreme beauty,
The view shall more than make up for the hardship, I hope





I take one step and then the other, careful not to tread too quick
With careful precision, I ensure I stay within the boundaries
A slip may prove perilous here,
For it may take me tumbling down into the valley down below



The valley below looks as breathtaking as they come,
Lined with ferns, flowers and splendid trees
While a descend into its arm might not seem that awful
The elevation of our mortal selves so far high turns that into a grim fancy.





Slow progress is much appreciated on these turfs,
Hurry may get you nowhere in the territory of mountains,
For the purpose of it all is lost upon you,
If you neglect the sheer brilliance of the view and walk indifferent.








When I finally reach the valley, it is as if we were meant to meet,
The radiance of this place has caught me spellbound,
The mountains surrounding it seem like a protective fortress,
It is a moment that is now etched in the confines of my mind




The breeze flows by with the fragrance of the earth surrounding me,
It’s time to leave but do I hear a serene song in my ears?
I shout through the valleys to the mountains promising to be back someday,
To experience once more the overwhelming peace in those mountains.




Peace!

Thursday, April 9, 2015

OH BARBER, MY BARBER

To give you a background on the whole issue, the barber shop I frequented for hair-cuts no longer exists. The building it was in, was broken down for road extension. The government has triumphed. The shop is no more. What has remained, however, is a hollow structure that shall be brought down very soon. The horror/hilarity of all the hair-cuts gone wrong and my love for Dead Poets society has resulted in this poem. Here goes:





You stood there majestic on the bottle-necked road,
In the stark cold, in the dry heat, even in the torrential rains did you open
Gentlemen, some bearded while some with long hair frequented you,
Coming out child-like was treasured by one and all.

You stood there with open arms, wide doors and sharp scissors,
Welcoming anyone who'd come to look more civilized,
You made us wait with the odd newspaper,
The pictures of beautiful women on Page 3 more than made up for the delay.

We waited for you to wield your artwork on us,
Ever so patient in making us look outrageous at times,
Your profound art made me look like a lunatic sometimes,
But I took it as a growing phase in our chop-full relationship.

They tore down your building, it broke my heart,
The barber shop I frequented has been reduced to rubble,
Where would I pay just 70 bucks and get a hair-cut?
I'm not sure what feels more morose, my hair or my wallet?

There are too many unanswered questions in my mind,
The summer heat is making my head spin,
My hair are facing an existential crisis of their own,
My wallet is threatening to lock itself down.

You may be "hairstylist" or "hairdresser" for others,
They give you fancy names while they can,
But you'll always be that barber from Jabbar building,
My hair shall forever be indebted to you for the mess ups.

Hope to see you in some other building on another street,
Praying that building is not brought down ever, by government, earthquake, flood, or tsunami
Hope you treasure all the hair you chopped off my head,
The bits that were chopped off and locked in your symbolic vaults.


Farewell, barber shop! See you in Shyamlal building (I heard they are opening up 1-2 kms from my home. Now I will walk and get a hair-cut. Health included :D)

Peace!

Tuesday, December 23, 2014

THE JOKER


The stage is set and the lights are on,
Curious faces wait in anticipation
A dusty jacket waits on the empty chair of the dressing room,
In the air is a feeling of celebration

The crowd looks on to the stage, waiting
The stage is adorned in pretty lights,
The majestic carpet hugs the floor closely
It all makes for a glorious sight

He sits there lost in his own deep thoughts
a stellar performance is to be delivered
Visualizing the evening ahead in his mind
while the quandary within him quivers

He’s just had another fight with his child,
His partner has long left him in the past
His thoughts wander between now and 10 years ago,
He wonders if happiness ever does last

The time is right, the call is made and he sets off,
Everyone’s been waiting for him all night,
He’s quite the star as he enters with the widest of smiles
And the crowd cheers and thunders in delight

He starts off slow and builds up the tempo as he goes
People guffaw with plain joy on their faces
Everyone is equal here, no one is superior
Everyone has momentarily forgotten their races

He shows his prowess by adding humour to the trivialities of life
Spontaneous wit and observation are his best weapons
the conflict of thoughts in his head, meanwhile, is a constant struggle
but the crowd, abstracted and unmindful of any such occurrences, laughs on

He delivers his final act and wishes the crowd well on their way
The crowd stands up to give him a bidding farewell,
He smiles in return, it is a smile of satisfaction
The world sees what it wishes to see in you, he thinks

Let the demeanor not take away the truth,
He smiles wide but that’s only to hide the pain,
It may be sunny for the whole world,
But in his deep dark world, it rains.

His tragedy is the source of all his humour,
A joker he is, he has to perform,
To the world it does not matter what he goes through
The lights shine bright, the stage is set and the show must go on.


Peace. . .

Thursday, October 30, 2014

UTOPIAN IN THOUGHT

I sometimes marvel at the state of this world we live in
How despite all that could happen, things move on
How we, as people, evolve as we progress
How some are lured by extremities while some remain modest in approach.

Some walk the path of godliness and live in their world of make believe 
While some walk a path so downtrodden, they would make a devil smirk in delight
Some walk the path in the center swaying this way or that
A dichotomy of uncertainties dwells deep within them,

What made them walk these paths, I wondered,
Power, money, freedom and on went the prompt replies
Was it a moral thing to be consumed by these yearning?
Did ends necessarily justify the means?

Why we as a people had moved away from ideas of rationalism?
Why had crude materialism taken over our very being?
Each one seemed to move through this clutter without an indwelling sense of curiosity
Conformity would eventually be the price we pay for humanity

Was it possible to unlearn these years we had learnt wearing masks?
An art so mastered that turning back seemed like giving up on living itself
Was it somehow possible to give up this bloodlust for vices and progress forward?
Was there a future out there that would not encompass strife?

If only this world moved away from petty politics over trivialities,
Feuds over material possessions, lust for power and position
What if it rather moved towards the novel idea of free thinking,
The practice of self-development, the idea of peace, the religion of humanity

If only this world spoke the language of love
Unbounded by chains that hold us so far from each other
The good that we do may come back to us one day
And restore the balance that we so dearly need.

The mere habit of learning something new from each other every day wouldn't hurt,
Nor would the simple act of doing a good deed
How that place, in thought, is so simple to see
What a remarkably better place this world could be!