Yosemite

This place surely has some enigmatic aura and it is complex to decipher the pull it has on the mind.

…may be geographically the landscapes have their own identity which is very unique to this terrain.

Or may be it is the experience of the journey that leads to Yosemite… after the seemingly long and never ending curvy roads … you start to get the glimpse of the granite treasures.

Or may be on a more poetic note…the mountains and cliffs stand out as the ancestors of the past wanting to tell their story. A story of the turmoiled, rebelling and unsettled soul.. looking into our eyes and asking for our attention and respect.

Reasons could be infinite but there can be only one motive … to cherish the memories and experiences of this pristine place. I hope it gets more beautiful by the day and more resilient to averse global warning changes.

God Bless You Yosemite… You are precious!

The price of dreams

A very interesting person we met in San Francisco, he happened to be our taxi driver. He is Indian but staying in the US for 22 years now. He was quick to judge and guess that we are Indians too and then he narrated his story…

He is from Jalandar, Punjab. 22 years back, he took 6 odd months (which currently takes 16 hours by flight) to reach US via the Mexican border to fulfil his American dream.

Here is the visual map of the places he was transported before he made it to the U S of A.

I leave it to the reader’s imagination on what must have been the quality of travel and sanity of his mind! But what intrigues me is that people believe and have such dreams and are willing to pay unimaginable price to achieve it.

And when he reached Mexico, the agent showed him the border and asked him to fend for himself. We could sense from his tone that he was not too happy with this deal as he was asked to pay more but was only shown the path unlike his previous travels where he was transported (convenience) from one place to another! 🙂

But, today he is happy that he is a legal resident. He has 2 sons and feels gratified that he now has the power to call anyone to US via the legal channel!

No dream is too big or small, no endeavour is trivial or magnificent… in their own right, they are all priceless.

map courtesy – geology.com

Disclaimer – This post is not for or against the Wall. This post is only to illustrate the power of dreams.

Ka-chow California!

A very memorable trip! San Francisco, Yosemite, Monterey and beautiful memories enroute.

The state maintains a good mix of contrasting ideas – old and new. It lives up to the expectations and also surprises with more! Kids will be happy and so will the parents enjoy this trip. To keep it crisp, I am sharing some highlights from our travel.

Yes it was the Christmas season, but a happy kid is the not what we had expected after 16 hrs of travel. The vibrancy of the city got us from the hotel rooms to the streets.

And here we were on the streets of San Francisco enjoying the antics and affection.

Playing with bubbles around Union Square

Getting Fire Warden Sticker from the Fire Dept.


San Francisco Zoo – What a wonderful zoo! I have never seen the animals so happy and the staff so loving and caring towards the institution. 

Gauhati the rhino from Assam, shares his moment of success after breaking apart his toy! 

Didn’t know that Rafiki was a real monkey, till we met this family!

The little toy train is worthy of a ride! 


Exploratorium – Must see and enjoy place for kids and also adults

Personally for me, I have never sensed such closeness to design ever not even in the art galleries – demystified science is design and nature’s art.


California Academy of Sciences is an interesting place with a variety of indoor exhibits.


Yosemite Ski and Snowboard Area – Enjoy snow sports at the Badger Pass


Monterey Aquarium is one of its kind. It replicates the sea ecosystem in the aquarium just as shown in the movie ‘Finding Dory’


Whale watching in Monterey

We were lucky to have witnessed migration of grey whale family.


Submit yourself and travel local across the roads and water.


10 days and so much action but truly a child’s delight and a parent’s paradise.

I will probably have to write different blog for our experiences at Yosemite, Red woods and some travel tips! but till that time I hope this is useful for you.

In the marriage of Apathy and Empathy…

Pain! what else can you expect? And that’s what we will get if we don’t have a mindful view of the purpose and process.

Let me provide clarity on this article, it is not about humans per se, but about our choices and our approaches.

Although Apathy and Empathy are human emotions but you will find their conflict of interests in all spheres of life and non life. it could be

  • 2 puzzle pieces that don’t fit
  • 2 individuals that cannot get along
  • 2 ideologies that are not compatible

When expectations are not met, relationships turn sour and sometimes break. It can be emotionally toiling but why to lose heart and boil blood? Can we have an objective view of our heart breaks?

Yes of course, it has taken me a long time at the cost of my heart breaks to see a pattern that can help prepare for future scenarios. So lets start from the basics, why do Apathy and Empathy come together in the first place? Because,

  1. Opposites attract,
  2. There is a gap that is to be filled between them

(There might be other reasons but for brevity lets retain the focus on these 2 aspects)

And here are the learnings or pointers for study,

Learning 1 – When Apathy and Empathy come together, they should realise the powers of attraction. It is the oppositeness that has got them together. Their fascination is limited to knowing the unknown and discovering.

Tip – Focus to discover the unknowns and check mark the common areas.

Learning 2 – Understand and define the threshold for opposite behaviours. Be unbiased and objective. This comes easy for Apathisers, but can be difficult for Empathisers. So if you are leaning too much then detach yourself for awhile. Check your biases.

Here is a good article to be on the top of the game. https://www.businessinsider.com/cognitive-biases-that-affect-decisions-2015-8

Tip – Define how much is too much

Learning 3 – Set goals for the commitment. Goals can be individual and also combined. What is to be achieved and why? Define the success parameters.

Tip – Test the equation.

Learning 4 – Review hypotheses, Move on, with or without. Do a SWOT (Strength, Weakness, Opportunities, Threats) of the situation even if you have succeeded.

Tip – Keep talking about it. The more you express the more perspectives you get.

This is what the process looks like, inspired from 4D.

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Commitments fail, be it human to human or human to non human, but an objective view can help to define ‘ourselves’ in the situation. So before losing your heart and taking a drastic step, pause to reflect and then move ahead.

Also understand that,

Apathisers are not always brutal heart breakers, but they have different views and rationale.

Empathisers on the other hand are over flowing with emotions.

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And we are not perpetually apathetic or empathetic, but it is our choice of role that we want to play in a given situation.

So, if expectations are not met, it is only because the views and intentions are not aligned.

So it is a divorce? happily ever after?

Depends on YOU!

Thanks for reading!

My work-life philosophy

Everyday majority of time is spent at workplaces.

It is our second home our inseparable part. And it is very natural to have a love – hate relationship at our workplaces. But it is a challenging one, since we are dealing with projects, personalities, practices, power structures, perspectives all at the same time.

It can be rewarding and enriching but it is also be discomforting and frustrating. As a result we are spending a lot time thinking about our work outside of the places and time limits.

Time and again we have to remind our selves that there is life beyond; here Gita helps me realise the alignment of variables and MMW helps to manage expectations.

Following is my visualisation to find a balance of personal well being and being competent.

Inspired by My Gita and Make Meaningful Work

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Some waves meet the land and some meet each other :)

Koh Nangyuan beautiful islands near Koh Samui, Thailand. The crazy and choppy catamaran ride was worth it 😱.

There is beauty left in this world but we as global citizens have to be weary of plastic. Although there are restrictions in Koh Nang Yuan, few plastic bottles are seen and thats very sad!

Even in Koh Samui which is bigger island, plastic is used blatantly. The guavas that we bought from local market was packed in each plastic bag!!!

The Tesco’s and other super markets are not helping either. There are piles and piles of packaged drinking water, I wonder what were the options before the advent of commercial drinking water and what do locals drink.

There are laundrettes and water dispensing kiosks but the service is not publicised enough.

So travellers when you go to pristine locations and even otherwise, it is your responsibility to guard it. Please carry cloth bags and re- usable water bottles. Be eco friendly so that we can cherish the planet a little longer.

Beautiful Bali

It was an interesting experience to view Hindu culture from a foreigner’s perspective not that I am very religious in any part of the world 🙂

  1. Religion and Show Off

It was thrilling to see statues from Mahabharata and Ramayama, beautifully presented in white and gold and full of virtue. Less colours more emotions!

Yes, Bali has largest Hindu population, but there isn’t any mention of longest, tallest or wealthiest temple. No gods seemed to be fighting for popularism and each one seemed to be at peace with the space, pace and tranquility. In short it appeared that human politics and insecurity has not corrupted religious aspirations.

There is a tendency to find and acknowledge guiding forces in everyday things. I was very surprised to see statue of ‘Rice Goddess Dewasri’. The statue stood in her most graceful self in the paddy feilds.

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2. Religion and Attitude

Balinese have revered the practice of offering to the natural forces, be it the seashore, the 5 star rated resort or a moving car, this practice was followed 3 times a day. It was a very humbling experience to notice that irrespective of their social and economic statuses Balinese don’t forget to be thankful to their surrounding forces and I think that the reason why they are so humble and welcoming.

Another striking characteristics is the creativity. Bali appears to be mecca of all creative arts. Silver/gold jewelry, leather works, handloom, batik, wooden and stone sculptures… Bali has it all. You also find arts from the other parts of the world! but it just means that they can master any art.

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  1. Religion and Sense of Humor

Kecak Dance – The most intriguing part of this musical show is the there are no musical instruments used in it, the troupe creates music by repeating sounds i.e Kecak kecak kecak…

It had a class and spontaneity and the whole crowd enjoyed it. It wasn’t religious and didnt feel the need to be righteous. Hanuman would flirt with the crowd, the narrator would rave about Sita’s beauty in an envious way just a reminder that the gods were as humans.

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Apart from this, yes there are pristine beaches and green paddy feilds and genuine smiles.

Demon – etisation,

This vacation was a medley of different sorts, apart from meeting close relatives I was more interested in knowing their views and experiences on demonetisation.

On 8th Nov 2016 the Indian government demonetised circulating notes of Rs 500 and Rs 1000.

I tried to speak to as many people wanting to hear views and experiences in 1st hand. I am not interested in chinese whispers of media or gossip mongers.

So when I spoke to

Army men – they said the terror funding has reduced by 85 -90%
Rickshaw walas – I asked them what they did when passengers didnt have money, He said kya karen? baad main dena.
Ola and uber drivers – they said it hasnt made much impact,
Vegetables vendors in city – They managed to sell prepaid bunches.
Vegetable vendors in Hingewadi – managed with PAYTM on the 3rd day.
Fruit vendor in Parle – kal dena
Doctors and dentist were not so happy
Beautician wasnt that excited.
Chemists – pay later. or they can come home with the card machine.
Carpenter – refused cheque since he had swipe machine.
My friends and cousins working in the corporate world are happy.
My parents and other senior citizens got preferential treatment at the banks.
Corporate banker is happy too.
My folks in villages in konkan are least affected too.

I wasnt there long enough to understand why prices of vegetables and dals have fallen down and to know what happened to the beggars at the signals and temple gates because they couldn’t be seen!

Demon in disguise!

Some people have claimed deaths due to inconveniences caused by demonetisation. If this is true this is sad.

But there are so many variables to the cause and impact. and which variable is important – emotional, social or economic? After all it is money, honey!

 

 

 

We, the Beings

Whats up with the technology talking to each and the humans ceasing to do so? It appears that the humans are getting anti social and the technology is getting social!

Some glaring examples would be Amazon Go and chat bots.

I wonder why we are doing this to ourselves. What is it that we want to prove?

A- We are so smart that we have created a substitute for humans (as if there are less humans on this planet)

B- We want to save money (Save money for what and how?)

C- We don’t need anyone (really can a human not need another human?, but we were the original social animals, correct? )

D- People are so difficult to manage (Yes we are difficult, but so are machines, codes and garbage that comes from machine waste)

E- We want things fast, fast, fast really fast (How fast is really fast? Can 9 pregnant women delivery in one month? )

etc. How far can we go with these excuses? So much apathy and we talk about design thinking and empathy!!!

How ironic we have become? Can human social needs be really ignored? Will the crime rate reduce if we are surrounded by machines and codes? Will earth be a peaceful place if we cannot / do not want to share it with others?

There is nothing new in these questions, probably we have sensed it. But why no one is alarmed?

Well I am, and my resolution for the coming years will be to encourage and retain human experiences not just in my life but in others’ too.

So,

I am going to switch off my phone.

I am going to smile and talk to co passengers.

I am going to spread the word…

What are you going to do to retain the human touch in your world?

Think, think, think …

A brand, a product range : The appeal, the Endorser

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A few days ago I was very delighted to buy Patanjali Hing from a Pakistani store in Hong Kong.

There was a sense of Indian triumph for ‘Made in India’. Staying away from the motherland I am always at my patriotic best. I am and was in awe although Patanjali is not my kind of a brand. What I mean is I won’t go out of my way to buy the products.

Just the day before, I stumbled upon Patanjali Atta Noodles in a different online Pakistani shop. I was very interested to try the product so added in the list. I usually add products over the week before I check out. When I told my friend, philosopher and guide about it he scornfully ridiculed me and asked me not to buy such products.

Right now I checked their website, and ohh my …

There might be ‘customers’ who use these products and will vouch for the brand. And I can understand their preference for the oils and the dhoops, but why on earth should this company / organisation get into making noodles. What is the endorser’s service to humanity for promoting such fallacies?

How on earth, eating atta noodles healthier than eating plain dal chawaal?

Marketing gimmick of getting into the market when the competitor is low (Maggi fiasco) might cost a lot to the brand.

A brand has an appeal and hence the choice of product range. The endorser has an image that too should reflect on the product range. In this case the endorser is also the owner of the brand. God bless the complications.

I find it quite gross that Patanjali also has a beauty products. Come on now! Baba Ramdev and beauty ???

Something is seriously wrong…but surely not with me.