Monday Reads – 08/03

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Happy International Women’s Day! We kick off this week’s reading list with a reminder of how much more we have to do to get to true gender equality.

Ten things to know about gender equality – As this article by McKinsey & Co states, ‘Creating more opportunity for women and the next generation is an aspiration and a very real goal that can lift the global economy as well as contributing to a more just society. It is a goal we need to meet collectively.

How to have better arguments online – ‘The troubled times we live in, and the rise of social media, have created an age of endless conflict. Rather than fearing or avoiding disagreement, we need to learn to do it well.

A Radical Mind – An old, but still wonderfully fresh interview with mathematician Benoit Mandelbrot, who coined the term ‘fractal‘.

Let’s Talk About Being Busy – We live in a world where being busy is seen as a good thing. But is this really the case? Watch this video and decide for yourself.

Can physics prove if God exists? – A wonderful article, for atheists and believers alike.

Memories of a memorable meal

How good must a meal be if you still remember it longingly over 33 years later? Very good? Well, this was certainly the case for one of the best meals I have had in my life so far.

When we think of memorable meals, many a times we tend to think of Michelin starred restaurants, glamour, celebrity chefs, etc. But this one was none of those sorts. It was a plain, simple meal, but one that me and my family still remember fondly!

The trigger for this post was my dad asking me if I remembered this particular meal we had. I responded immediately, “Of course” and remarked to my wife that Dad was referring to the meal that I often mention as the best meal I have had.

Before we get to the meal proper, let me outline the setting. It was autumn of 1987 (I remember the year because that was the year that India hosted the Cricket World Cup for the first time). We were on a trip to Srinagar in the Kashmir valley. Our trip had started a few days earlier when we left Mumbai by, I think, the August Kranti express to reach Delhi. After a few days of sight-seeing in Delhi, we took the overnight train to Jammu and immediately took a cab for the drive to Srinagar.

The drive itself was incredibly scenic. It was the first time that I was seeing Alpine scenery and the scene at every curve was simply mesmerising. After a while, it was time for lunch. And the driver of the cab stopped in front of this nondescript wooden cabin on the side of the road. The back of the cabin overlooked a valley with a stream flowing swiftly below. The setting was beautiful, more than making up for the otherwise plain interiors of the place. But all of that was forgotten as soon as I had my first bite of the food. I don’t think I had ever eaten anything with as much relish as I had that meal, before and after.

I know I have not mentioned anything yet of the meal. What was it, you ask? Well, let me not keep you in surprise any longer. It was….. the humble Rajma chawal (rice with kidney bean curry). Served with a healthy dollop of ghee, each and every bite of that Rajma chawal was heavenly. Forget Rajma chawal, that meal set the standard for every subsequent meal I have had, and nothing so far has beaten that for the pure emotions and memories it generated.

I was only 12 when I had that meal, so maybe I was a bit impressionable. But hearing my father also speak about it so many years later only reinforced what a superlative meal it actually was. I do not remember much more of that particular journey or the meal, but my dad mentioned that he had been asking the driver for a suitable halt for lunch for some time before we reached this place, but the driver kept insisting that we wait till we reach this place. Boy, am I glad that we listened to him!

I do not recollect the name of the place we halted at. Curiosity prompted me to do a search online. And the internet pointed me to a place called Peerah which is very famous for its Rajma chawal. Maybe this is where we had the meal…

Monday Reads – 01/03

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Here are a few articles by way of welcoming the third month of 2021, which is also the start of Spring in many parts of the Northern Hemisphere…

The Feynman Learning Technique – If you are looking to learn new things, but struggling to find a workable approach, then you might find this technique helpful. I personally have had the chance to do something similar in my role as Visiting Faculty in Digital Marketing, though I still have a long way to go before I get to the level of a child (or rubber duck!).

Two by Two – Every management grad must be familiar (and possibly fed-up) with Two by Two matrices. But they do have a certain charm! In this article, Professor Scott Galloway describes an interesting Two by Two matrix to categorise tech companies.

How East and West think in profoundly different ways – The basic concept of this article (that people in the East and West) think differently should not really come as a surprise. This article goes into greater detail to examine how geography influences the way we think and behave.

Can Magic Millets Provide A Solution For Malnutrition? – I have been trying to follow the principles of a Whole Food Plant Based Diet for a few years now. As such, I have an interest in food from the perspective of local, sustainable and healthy food choices. One of the food types that’s been talked about regularly of late is millets. Read this article to find out more about the role that millets can play in building a healthier diet.

Monday Reads – 22/02

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A few very interesting articles from the world of Business in this week’s list:

The future of work after COVID-19 – Many articles have been penned on this topic over the past 10 – 12 months. But this is one of the first, detailed and data-driven articles that I have come across on this topic. It also have some (relatively) good news for India.

A Framework for Innovation in the COVID-19 Era and Beyond – Another buzzword that has been very prominent lately in the context of Covid is Innovation. While my personal opinion is that some of it is just plain opportunistic, this article by a couple of academicians in the USA aim to provide a framework for assessing innovation.

Your Environment Shapes Your Decisions – A wonderful article on why the typical modern office is a terrible place for decision making. Just one of the great lines in this article – ‘If you’re not pushing paper, firing up hundreds of emails, calling and attending meetings, and chasing something down … just what the heck are you doing?

Solve Problems Before They Happen by Developing an “Inner Sense of Captaincy” – The second article this week from the excellent Farnam Street Blog. ‘If we want to get away from glorifying those who run around putting out fires, we need to cultivate an organizational culture that empowers everyone to act responsibly at the first sign of smoke.

How boredom can be a force for good or bad – In the modern work context, ‘being bored’ is not seen as a good thing (read the third article on this list). However, this article makes the point that boredom might not necessarily be a bad thing. What’s important is that we try to understand why we are bored and find an appropriate response. The article explains this with a few examples.

Monday Reads – 15/02

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Every Monday, I shortlist a few interesting articles that I have come across recently. Here is this week’s list:

The Algebra of Wealth – Regular readers of my weekly list would know that I do tend to recommend Prof. Scott Galloway’s articles quite regularly. And why not, when he makes such interesting and thought-provoking points. Please take the time to read this through.

12 Life Lessons From Mathematician and Philosopher Gian-Carlo Rota – Another regular source of articles is the Farnam Street Blog. I especially liked this one as I am also a part-time / Visiting Faculty (in Digital Marketing).

Let’s Talk About Social Media – There is no doubt that social media is a real time killer. Unfortunately, it can be quite addictive, as this short video highlights.

Why your mental map of the world is (probably) wrong – I love reading maps and I could thoroughly relate to this article. Worth a read even if you are not as fond of reading maps as I am!

More than just a bath towel: An ode to the Kerala thorth – And finally, in a lighter vein, an article about one of the most important pieces of clothing in a Malayalee (Kerala) household!