Monday Reads – 01/06

footprints on sand
Photo by Lina Kivaka on Pexels.com

We are kicking off the sixth month of the year, and what a year it’s been… This is the month that signals the start of summer in the Northern Hemisphere, the onset of monsoons and the start of a new academic year in India. All of these things will continue to happen this year, of course, but it all feels very strange…

Here are a few articles to kick off the new month (which brings us that much closer to the end of this year!):

Five near-future trends changing the way you work – This article was written a few months before the pandemic, but I think the trends mentioned still hold true and are worth ruminating over.

The secret to a long and healthy life? Eat less – I know it’s a bit strange to talk about long and healthy lives when so many are dying due to the Coronavirus. Having said that, I believe that the results of the studies mentioned in this article have very important implications for all of us.

The Joy of Bone-Exhausting Work – I am sure most of us are familiar with the feeling of satisfaction (and exhaustion) after doing some hard, physical labour. This article goes on to add some important things to keep in mind after doing hard labour and raises the question of how we could bring this joy to our daily lives.

Does music help us work better? It depends – I am definitely someone who cannot work with music on. I like to pay my complete attention to the music that I am listening, and therefore, having it on while working is a distraction. But there are many others who seme to enjoy working with music on. This article explores this subject in detail.

Lonely Planet TV – Back in the 1990s, a few years after India had ‘liberalised’ her economy and we were exposed to the joys of satellite TV, a travel series burst on the screens. I was captivated by the series that, for the first time, exposed me to some of the most beautiful and captivating destinations around the World. The series – “Globe Trekker“. The great news is that Lonely Planet has now thrown open access to all the episodes of this iconic series, along with many more. Go ahead and rediscover one of the great travel shows!

 

The King of Fruits

Varieties of Indian Mangoes
Varieties of Indian Mangoes, and other fruits

I am talking about the Mango, the undoubted King of Fruits, in my humble opinion. This is a fruit native to India (as highlighted by its scientific name, Mangifera indica). The best part of an Indian summer is the pleasure of consuming the different varieties of juicy and tasty Indian mangoes.

The start of this year’s season was severely impacted by the Covid pandemic crisis. For a while, there was huge uncertainty on whether we would even get to consume any mangoes this year. But then, the logistics slowly started opening up. Many farmers started supplying directly to apartment complexes. And because of the collapse of exports, the prices have been reasonable.

The first mangoes we consumer this season were Raspuris and Sindooris. This was followed by one of the varieties most commonly available in Bangalore – Banganapalli or Bemisal. We then started receiving regular supplies of the prized Alphonso varieties, but at very good rates. Next in line was the glorious Imampasand, possibly the best variety we have had this year. This was followed by Badami and Mallika.

Each of the varieties has unique flavour characteristics. While Alphonsos are usually considered the King of Mangoes, this year we were exposed to other varieties that are equally, if not more, delicious.

It’s a shame that most of the outside world do not know about the varieties of Indian mangoes. I came across this interesting article that explains more about this King of Fruits. Happy reading, and happy mango eating!

Mangoes
Photo by Gowri Subramanya on Unsplash

Wrapping my African (Virtual) Journey

Ethopia
Photo by Trevor Cole on Unsplash

It’s been a fascinating exercise jotting down my Travel Bucket List for Africa. I have discovered so many fascinating places and learnt so much more about this vast continent. This is the last article in the Africa series.

Ethiopia – I did not know until now that Ethiopia, with a population of over a 100 million people, is the most populous landlocked country in the World and the second most populous country in Africa. I would start my visit at the ‘political capital of Africa’, Addis Ababa. It is so called because the African Union is headquartered here. The country also has the most number of UNESCO World Heritage sites in Africa. These include the historic towns of Harar, Gondar and Aksum, Tiya and probably the most famous of them all, Lalibela. For natural beauty, there is the Simien National Park and the Danakil Depression, one of the lowest (and hottest) places on Earth.

Djibouti – This small country at the confluence of the Red Sea and the Gulf of Aden seems like an interesting place to visit. In addition to the capital Djibouti City, I would visit Lake Assal, the second lowest place on Earth and the Goba’ad and Hanle Plains for bird-watching.

Eritrea – The UNESCO World Heritage listed city of Asmara, the capital of Eritrea, and the city of Keren are the places I might visit in this country.

Sudan – The country where I conclude my (virtual) travel around the continent. The capital city of Khartoum seems like an interesting city to visit, straddling as it does, the confluence of the Blue and White Nile rivers. I would then visit the UNESCO World Heritage listed region of Meroe. Other places to explore include Kerma and Naqa. I would wrap up my journey at the northern town of Wadi Halfa, close to the border with Egypt.

My East Africa Travel Bucket List

Giraffe, Serengeti, Tanzania
Photo by Justin Lane on Unsplash

The region of East Africa contains all the sights that one usually thinks of when one thinks of Africa. This is what my bucket list for the region looks like.

Tanzania – Another country that can justifiably claim to be a microcosm of the continent, from beaches to history to wildlife, this country has it all. I would probably start with the wildlife. Ngorongoro Crater and Serengeti National Parks are undoubted bucket-list places when it comes to wild-life watching. But there are other interesting areas of natural beauty that I would like to explore, such as Gombe National Park, made famous by Jane Goodall’s work with Chimpanzees, Mount Kilimanjaro – the highest mountain in Africa and Selous Game Reserve, one of the largest protected areas on the continent. I would then make my way to Zanzibar, and explore Stone Town. Finally, I would end my journey on the Indian Ocean beaches of Pemba Island and Mafia Island.

Rwanda – A country that’s unfortunately been in the news for the wrong reasons; I would probably start in the capital city of Kigali before making my way westwards to Volcanoes and Nyungwe National Parks before finishing my journey at Gisenyi on Lake Kivu.

Uganda – It came as a surprise to me that this relatively small country (82nd largest in the world) is the 31st most populous country in the world with a population of over 45 million. Kampala, the capital city, would be where I start my visit to this country. I would then make my way westwards to areas of natural beauty such as Murchison Falls and the wonderfully named Bwindi Impenetrable National Park! I would finish my journey with some rest on the Ssese Islands on Lake Victoria.

Kenya – I would start my exploration of Kenya country at its capital – Nairobi. Next up would be wild-life spotting at some of the most famous National Parks in the world – Masai Mara and Amboseli. I would probably also visit Tsavo East National Park and Lake Naivasha. I would then head off to the Indian Ocean coast, to visit places such as the UNESCO World Heritage Listed Lamu Old Town and Mombasa.

 

 

 

Monday Reads – 25/05

person holding white ceramic mug beside macbook pro
Photo by bongkarn thanyakij on Pexels.com

A few months into the lock-down triggered by the pandemic and we are starting to see more opinions on what the ‘new normal’ might look like and how we might have to adjust. Here are a few such articles that I found interesting.

Work From Home Is Here To Stay – So we might have all heard by now that many (tech) companies are making it optional for employees to return to their offices to work. This article has a very interesting take on this – “The post-pandemic workplace will have fewer lunches, happy hours, and conferences where schmoozers can make their mark… So if your main job skill is networking, you might want to learn the art of actually working.”

Mental Models For A Pandemic – In this Farnam Street Blog, the author poses some very thought-provoking questions. How can we improve our Antifragility? How can we grow stronger through change and challenge? Worth a detailed read.

What We Leave Behind – Another thought-provoking article, this one is by Professor Scott Galloway. As he puts it, “This is an opportunity to spend less on stuff, spend less time commuting, and reallocate that capital and time to our partners and children.”

These Are The World’s Happiest Places – This is admittedly an old article, written well before the pandemic hit us. I would be interested to see research on how the pandemic has affected these results, but my sense is that it might not have a significant impact. “…three-quarters of human happiness is driven by six factors: strong economic growth, healthy life expectancy, quality social relationships, generosity, trust, and freedom to live the life that’s right for you. These factors don’t materialize by chance; they are intimately related to a country’s government and its cultural values. In other words the happiest places incubate happiness for their people.”