Month: August 2020

Monday Reads – 31/08

person reading book and holding coffee
Photo by Vincenzo Malagoli on

We are 2/3rds of the way into this year! We are also well into Festival Season here in India. And the anticipation of New Year is building! This week has an eclectic mix of thought-provoking articles:

Why You Never See Your Friends Anymore – This article is from last year and talks to American culture. But the world has changed so much in the intervening months that I would consider it relevant to many of us. I am sure most of us would relate to these lines, ‘Even if you aren’t asked to pull a weekend shift, work intrudes upon those once-sacred hours. The previous week’s unfinished business beckons when you open your laptop; urgent emails from a colleague await you in your inbox. A low-level sense of guilt attaches to those stretches of time not spent working.

How to Take the Perfect Breath – I have been practising some Yoga regularly for the past couple of years. And I believe it’s helping me. This article talks about the potential benefits to our sleep, digestion, immune and respiratory functions of breathing well.

The Last of the Monsters with Iron Teeth – Many of us in India from my generation (growing up in the 80’s) would easily relate to this article that speaks of the importance of unsupervised play in the learning and development of children. ‘The failure of adult culture, both its physical architecture and its social institutions, has impoverished children’s culture. And in return, children no longer avidly train, in their play, to take over the burden of preserving and remaking adult culture.

Why Finger Lickin’ Will Never Go Out Of Fashion For Indians – Today is Onam, the highlight of which for Keralites is the Onam Sadya. So it seems like a particularly apt moment to celebrate the tradition of eating with our fingers!


Monday Reads – 24/08

crop executive designer analyzing data using graphics tablet in office
Photo by bongkarn thanyakij on

Business Models for the post-pandemic world, the robotics revolution, the Observer Effect and the Conflict of Obsessions make up this week’s list.

Modern Business Models Will Drive the Post-Pandemic World – What are the critical components of a business model that is most likely to survive and do well in a post-pandemic era? Read this article to find the answer.

The robot revolution has arrived – A long article that explores in detail the role that robots are already playing in our world and what impacts this is likely to make as more and more robots enter our lives.

The Conflict of Obsessions – Anyone who has worked in the field of Data and Analytics will be familiar with the premise of this (another) long article. The conflict that Avinash Kaushik writes about is between the Data Analyst / Visualiser on the one hand who would like to convey as mush information as possible in a visualisation / infographic and the Data Consumer on the other hand who is trying to answer the question of ‘What’s in it for me?‘ in the shortest possible time.

The Observer Effect: Seeing Is Changing – Anyone who has studied Physics would be familiar with the famous thought experiment of Erwin Shcrodinger and the cat. However, this effect is not restricted to Physics alone and has been observed in Biology as well. We would all likely agree with the statement – “In general, we change our behavior when we expect to be seen.” This article concludes with looking at how we could use this effect to our benefit.






Monday Reads – 17/08

Independence Day - 2020

India celebrated its 74th Independence Day on 15th August. And this week’s set of articles reflect this important day, and other topics such as Yuval Noah Harari on the consequences of Coronavirus and Accelerated Learning:

Nationhood at its Zenith and Nadir – This article explores what it means to be an independent nation in today’s times.

Yuval Noah Harari: “Every crisis is also an opportunity” – In this interview, ‘Israeli historian and author of Sapiens, Homo Deus, and 21 Lessons for the 21st Century, analyses what the consequences of the current coronavirus health crisis are likely to be, and underlines the need for greater international scientific co-operation and information-sharing between countries.

Accelerated Learning: Learn Faster and Remember More – A very interesting article on how ‘You can train your brain to retain knowledge and insight better by understanding how you learn.

Can Travel Cure Bias? – Let’s face it, we all have some biases, whether conscious or sub-conscious. This article argues that “In a perfect world, travel can indeed cure bias… We can better navigate the cultural zeitgeist of a place and its people when we roll our sleeves up, dive in and throw out the book we think we already read.

Freedom from the Curry Tag – One of my pet peeves, after living abroad for many years, is how there is an overwhelming tendency to club all Indian food under the generic ‘Curry’ tag. I wish and hope that non-Indians will appreciate that Indian food is far more diverse (and tastier) than what passes for Indian food (curries) in most Indian restaurants outside of India. This article explores ‘How Indian-origin chefs liberated Indian food from the anglicised spicy gravy narrative‘.

100 Common Birds in India

Image of peacock

I have been bird-watching for over 3 decades now. It’s one of my favourite hobbies, though I have not been able to spend as much time on it these days as I would have liked to.

India is one of the most bio-diverse countries on Earth, with a diverse range of habitat ranging from dry deserts, high mountains, to tropical rain-forests and a long coastline. And this diversity extends to the species of birds found in India as well. With over 1,200 species of birds, India ranks 9th in the list of countries by number of bird species. About 12% of the total bird species on earth can be found in India. And my guess is that I must have seen about 20 %- 22% of all the bird species in India.

Bird-watching is a very easy hobby to get into. All it needs is a good sense of observation, sight and sound. A pair of binoculars would be helpful, but not absolutely essential (to get started). But one resource that I would advise is to have a book handy to identify the birds that you see.

There are a few good birds available. One of the most commonly referred to birds for beginners is Dr. Salim Ali’s “The Book of Indian Birds“. This is the book that sparked my interest in birds and I would strongly recommend it for anyone interested in Indian birds.

I also came across a resource recently which might also be very useful for beginners. This is a PDF called “100 Common Birds in India“, written by Dr. Raju Kasambe. It is available as a free download here –

This handy book covers all of the commonly found birds of India with their distribution map. I hope that you will find this helpful!

Monday Reads – 10/08

design desk display eyewear
Photo by on

In this week, we look at articles on the perils of working too hard, and other topics that I found interesting. Hope you like them!

When productivity becomes an addiction – Working ‘hard’ as always been looked upon favourably. This article explores what happens when “getting things done is taken to an extreme”. One suggestion by neuroscientist, Dr. Sandra Chapman, “Take five minutes at least five times a day to completely stop. Turn off your technology and go outside.”

Work Less – More on the same theme. “If you could work fewer but more focused hours, you’d free up time for true rest. For play, connection, self-care. And perhaps, more than doing the tasks themselves, this would be the true victory.

The Great Distancing – An article focused on the United States of America, but well written and worth a read.

The Computer Scientist Who Can’t Stop Telling Stories – The last article for this week is the fascinating story of Donald Knuth, a computer scientist who began writing his magnum opus, a book series on “The Art of Computer Programming” in 1962 and has yet to complete.