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T: Tools of Titans

April 24, 2017

That’s the name of the book by Tim Ferriss that I’m currently reading and quite enjoying. It’s essentially a compilation of the highlights of interviews of people from various walks of life (in his words, world-class performers) from his podcast, which I’ve been listening to for a couple of months now. On his podcast, Ferriss has this very casual interview, which is more like a chat with all these cool, interesting people from a really diverse range of fields, on topics like their morning routines, fitness, productivity, books, etc. So the book is distilled version of the podcast and it features people like Arnold Schwarzenegger, Scott Adams, Cheryl Strayed, Maria Popova, Brene Brown and then a whole bunch of other people who I’ve never even heard of, but some of whom pique my interest enough to go look them up next.

Even though his podcast is supposedly a ‘Business podcast’ and the book delves into the tools and tactics of ‘billionaires’, I’m glad I decided to give it a shot and try both when a friend recommended it. Especially, the book. Maybe it’s the phase of life or frame of mind that I am in these days, but a lot of quotes/ advice in the book seem especially relevant to me. In fact, I don’t know of a book where I’ve gone about highlighting so many parts (on my Kindle) as I have, in this book.

So, here are some favourite bits from the book –

Seth Godin – “I think we need to teach kids two things: 1) how to lead, and 2) how to solve interesting problems. Because the fact is, there are plenty of countries on Earth where there are people who are willing to be obedient and work harder for less money than us. So we cannot out-obedience the competition.’

Chuck Close, an American artist – “Inspiration is for amateurs— the rest of us just show up and get to work. And the belief that things will grow out of the activity itself and that you will— through work— bump into other possibilities and kick open other doors that you would never have dreamt of if you were just sitting around looking for a great ‘art idea.”

When Kurt Vonnegut wrote ‘Write to please just one person,’ what he was really saying was write for yourself. Don’t try to please anyone but yourself…. The second you start doing it for an audience, you’ve lost the long game because creating something that is rewarding and sustainable over the long run requires, most of all, keeping yourself excited about it….”

And this line from the book, which is actually a Zen mantra –  ‘Sit, sit. Walk, walk. Don’t wobble.‘ is something I probably need tattooed on my hand or some place where I can ALWAYS see it.

Apart from so much learning, the book has also given me a bunch of other stuff to look up, the people who feature in the book, a bunch of books to read, music to check out. And to think, I’m not even done with 50% of the book!

Okay, I’m done gushing.

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S is for Solo

April 22, 2017

I don’t know if it is part of growing older but I think I enjoy doing things by myself a lot more than I used to.

In my twenties, or at least the early twenties I thought that the sight of anyone eating a meal at a restaurant by themselves was a sad one. Today, I’d probably be more than happy to do it, given a chance.

Maybe it’s my current stay-at-home-with-A status or just how I’m growing, but I’d jump at the idea of having a long, leisurely lunch by myself with perhaps a book (or my Kindle) or my sketchbook for company. The idea of some quiet and solitude seems so appealing. I think I’ve also grown more secure that I feel comfortable enough to do it.

Which is what I did earlier this week. Since my folks are here, I set off by myself, visited a couple of art galleries and then had a lovely lunch all by myself.

And then, there’s the other idea. Travel. Like I was discussing with a couple of friends sometime back, travelling solo is something I really wish I had done earlier. But all’s not lost. Now that A’s getting older and we’re all getting more confident that she doesn’t really seem to mind me being away for a day or two, I can actually think of doing it.

Of course, I wish it were that easy for a woman to travel alone India (that solo lunch I mentioned earlier – I had a creep almost ruin it for me while I waited for my taxi). But that’s perhaps all the more reason to do it.

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R is for Relief

April 21, 2017

That feeling when you finally finish something you’ve been putting off for a while because you’re SO afraid you’ll screw it up. And then you finally decided you’ve procrastinated enough (by painting tomatoes and more tomatoes and taking naps!) and decide to eat the frog (nope I haven’t read the book but I love the expression) and just do it. I’ve been putting off a human figure sketch that I’ve been working on because I’m not comfortable drawing figures. I did the first draft a couple of weeks ago, and was happy, and was just dragging my feet getting started on the final version. Because, what if it looks horrible? What if it looks nothing like the draft that I actually like?! Etc.

Anyway, it’s done. Phew. That feeling of relief is amazing. It’s great to realise that –

a. It’s done

b. You haven’t screwed it up (too much, anyway)

c. It’s D.O.N.E!

d. Bonus: It gave rise to a blog post for R!

*Happy dance*

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Q for Questions

April 20, 2017

On a daily basis, I answer an endless stream of questions from A. Some are easy, some I need to think, and for some I tell her I’ll need sometime to think and answer. And then there are those that have me really searching for answers or a way to explain to a 2.5 year old. Like – 

Why is that uncle not wearing a t-shirt/swimsuit at the pool?

Why can’t I go into the girls’ toilet with Daddy?

Why is that uncle not wearing a t-shirt? (at the temple?)

(Still at the temple) Why are they making so much noise?

Why did uncle K get married?

And then things like, why can’t we wear messy clothes? 🙄

And so many more to come, I’m sure. I sometimes wish the toddler phase came with an FAQ section. 

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Pretend-play

April 19, 2017

A has been doing a LOT of pretend play for the past few months. This one though, from yesterday takes the cake.

She picked up a barcode sticker from a watermelon that we bought yesterday, and stuck it on her tummy and kept walking around with it.

‘This is a bandage.’

Okay..

And then she explains, ‘When you were a baby, you were in my tummy, they cut it open to take you out. That’s why I put a bandage.’

🙂

 

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O: Old-fashioned

April 18, 2017

One of the days last week, I think it was for the letter J, I really struggled to think of a topic to blog about, and when I finally did get around to doing it, it was nearly 10.30pm. But I didn’t have to stress much once I thought of a topic because I have the WordPress app on my phone. I was in bed, ready to type out a post on my phone (I do that sometimes) and then just pass out.

That made me think how easy internet access and blogging is these days. Once upon a time, when I was still on a dial-up, this is what I would have done to publish a blog post. It’s of course hypothetical because, I hadn’t heard of blogging then. Still, I assume these would be the steps –

  1. Switch on the computer. (My phone now, is always on)
  2. Open a Word Doc or notepad to start typing a post (Now, if I blog from the phone, I go directly to the WordPress app, of course)
  3. Save the document every once in a while, because
    1. No power backup back then.
    2. Even software wasn’t evolved enough to auto-save every once in a while.
  4. If I wanted to add a photograph to a post, then Hahaha, good luck. These would be the steps (Gosh I should have just made a drawing with a flowchart instead of all these steps) –
    1. Youw ould, first of all, take the photograph with a good old-fashioned camera. Not a smartphone. Nu-uh.
    2. Hunt for cable to connect camera to computer. Connect.
    3. Then download the photo to the computer. (Smartphones, zindabad! There was a time when I was on Twitter but didn’t have a smartphone and very vaguely recall tweeting a photo this way.)
  5. Only once is the post is composed, edited etc, connect to the Internet. Who could think of wasting bandwidth in those days?After about 5 minutes of trying and finally successfully connecting to the internet, open WordPress or Blogger, which would of course open slooooowly, because that was the era of snail-paced internet. And then Copy and Paste the blog post.
  6. If you were really keen on uploading a photo, then you’d do it now. And wait and wait for the progress bar to indicate that it’s done.
  7. And then, click on Publish and wait, heart in mouth, for it to get published, hoping that no one calls your landline or the connection doesn’t break for some reason.

Et voilà, you’re done!

Sigh, I feel so old. And this darned era of instant gratification makes me both grateful and feel extremely spoilt. One day, I’m gonna show this post to A and see what she would have to say.

But I have one thing to say now.

There’s NO WAY I would’ve attempted the April A-Z blogging challenge in the good old days.

 

 

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N: News

April 17, 2017

When I was in high school, surrounded by a bunch of nerdy kids, I took to quizzing. This meant any free hour we got at school, we’d have a quiz in class, across the rows of benches. Naturally, I would also read the newspapers quite religiously each morning, assimilating bits and pieces of info that was both good to know and would come handy sometime in a future quiz, no doubt. 

Cut to 2017: I don’t read the newspapers. 

Well, at least the news part of it. I might flip through the magazine sections of it – I look out for stories on food, fitness, travel and art and anything else that might be interesting. But that’s about it. No current affairs for me. 
The reason? Most news these days either leaves me angry or sad. So really, why bother? I don’t want constant reminders of what a joke the law and order is in our country.  I don’t want to constantly worry about what it’s gonna be like when my child starts school, I don’t want to read about Trump, I don’t want to read about another refugee crisis. I’m quite happy living in a bubble for now. 

Besides, there’s the other form of writing that’s making its way from online media to the newspapers too. Just putting together a bunch of tweets and calling it an article with an unnecessarily long headline that’s often trying too hard. Or picking up someone’s FB post and then re-writing the gist of it and then calling it an article. Bah. 

It’s amazing how much content is generated these days. Every other day, a new news site or digital content platform vies for more eyeballs. Because, ka-chinng!

Whether it’s ‘re-targeted marketing’ – ads that chase you from site to site or ads that appear like articles, they are everywhere. Worst of all is the 1-1.5 page ads (usually real estate) that have relegated news to the second or even third page of the newspaper these days. Like S remarked, it was amazing that the day after the demonetization was announced, the newspapers that morning had no news on the front page – just some big advertisement as usual. 

The charm of newspapers, the need to keep myself ‘up-to-date’ has worn off over the years. No FOMO here thankfully. A 15-year-old me would be disappointed perhaps. Hopefully, someday I’ll get back to reading the news. But for now, no news is good news.