Monday Reads – 20/07

woman using her laptop on video call
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With Bangalore and many others parts of the World going back into lock-down, this week’s articles continue to be influenced by Covid-19.

The Covid-19 changes that could last long-term – Now that it’s been over 3 months into the changed lifestyles that many of us are experiencing post lock-down, it’s a good time to take stock and consider what of the changes might we end up living with for longer. This article looks at the impact on our personal lives, work lives and the climate.

The Implications of Working Without An Office – Results from a detailed survey (US only) on the impact of working from home. Some very interesting insights here, especially on the key downside of Work from Home – ‘the loss of unplanned interactions that lead to important outcomes.’

The Boeing-747: The Plane That Shrank The World – Continuing on the Covid-19 related topics, British Airways, currently the largest operator of the Boeing 747, announced that it would retire its entire fleet of the iconic aircraft earlier than expected. It’s hard to imagine that this iconic aeroplane made its debut half a century ago. I have a personal connection with this aircraft as I made my first international journey on one. It will be a sad day indeed when this plane will no longer grace the skies.

Tradition is Smarter Than You Are – Ending with a relatively long read, this article discussed the point that rational thinking might not be the key to our success as a species. We must consider that ‘cultural evolution is often much smarter than we are‘. A very interesting read.

 

Great to have live sports back

an empty sports stadium

I don’t think anyone will dispute the fact that the months of the enforced ‘lockdown’ due to the pandemic have been quite trying in many ways. Yes, it is nice that many of us have got more time to spend at home with family, but I must admit that the past few weeks have started to tax. The inability to go out for a relaxed time with friends and family or even popping down to the local restaurant for a quick meal has led to a feeling of frustration or ‘cabin fever’. After all, there is only so much of music that one can listen to or television to watch.

It is in these conditions that ‘live sports’ on television has come as a whiff of fresh air. Starting with the German Bundesliga, and moving on to the English Premier League, FA Cup and now, international cricket, these events have once again given me something to look forward to outside of work. Yes, it is strange to see the games being played in empty stadiums with none of the spectator noise. I can only imagine how strange it must feel to the players themselves. But I, as a humble spectator, am not complaining!

It also helps that the football club that I follow – Arsenal – have been doing well lately, They just defeated Manchester City in the FA Cup semifinals to advance to their 21st FA Cup Finals. A few days before that, they had defeated the League Champions. The general sense is that the vision of their relatively new managed, Mikel Arteta, is beginning to take shape on the field.

In the cricket, West Indies have been going a good account of themselves so far in their test series away at England. It’s not easy to play well away from home in test cricket and the fact that this team is putting their head down and playing with discipline is great news for their fans (of whom there are many around the world).

Of course, a big miss in the sporting calendar this year has been Wimbledon. Yes, the US Open is scheduled to be played later this year, followed by the French Open. But I believe that there are still major question marks about both of these tournaments.

In other sports, Formula 1 is also back. But I am no longer following this sport. No disrespect to Lewis Hamilton, but it just doesn’t feel like it’s worth the time.

What about you – are you following any of the live sports? Please let me know in the comments.

The Indian Monsoon

Monsoon Western Ghats
Photo by Satyan Chawla on Unsplash

The Indian Monsoon is considered as one of the biggest and most important weather systems on the planet. This is an eagerly anticipated event every year. By the end of May, with most of the country sweltering under the scorching sun, the eyes of the nation turn towards the South West, waiting for the first signs of the arriving rains.

The monsoons usually hit the mainland of India (the state of Kerala in the South West) on the 1st of June and makes it way steadily northwards to encompass the whole of the country by early July. June 10th is when it hits my home town of Mumbai.

Growing up in this city, I used to dread the arrival of the rains, bringing as it does long periods when the sun is obscured by dark, grey clouds. It did not help that the onset of the rains coincided with school reopening. Trust me, it is not fun to walk through school in the pouring rain and having to stay in class with wet uniforms, backpacks and, sometimes, damp books.

My feelings did not really change after I finished education and started to work. Other than the fact that school was replaced by office, everything else remained the same – commuting in the rains, having to make ones way through the crowds of umbrellas while trying not to step into puddles, having to spend hours in the air conditioned office with wet clothes and socks, the very thought depresses me!

But it’s not all doom and gloom. The rains bring renewal. I stayed at the foothills of Mulund hills and it was always fascination to observe the almost immediate transformation of the barren brown hills to lush green ones. Not to mention monsoon treks in the Western ghats (and the occasional holidays due to heavy rains and flooding!).

A few years older, and I have become a bit more accepting of this annual occurrence. It is a big change from the almost monotonous weather during the rest of the year (in many parts of India). It plays a very important role in irrigating the land and filling up the water reserves that sustain 1.5+ billion people and wildlife. I won’t go so far as to say that I enjoy this season, but I have definitely begun to appreciate it!

 

Monday Reads – 13/07

people playing cricket on green grass field
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News from the fields of Business, Sports, Arts and more in this week’s list:

Let’s Get Ready to Rundle – I have to admit that I had to look up the meaning of ‘Rundle’ and I am still unsure what it means! Irrespective, this is a good article to catch up on the latest tech news.

Why Nerds Are Unpopular – This is an old article, but I only came across it recently. And I think it’s still very relevant. A long, but thought-provoking read.

Eight odd details hidden in masterpieces – Overlooked details from some of the most famous pieces of Western Art.

Drizzle, bubbles and a dystopian feel greet Test cricket’s new normal – The return on ‘live’ sports on TV has been very welcome! Now I have something to look forward to post work. Sunday marked the first time after a very long while that I watched the entire day’s play of a cricket test match. And an enjoyable day’s viewing it was too…

 

A Day in the Life

adult books business coffee
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My writings have slowed down, maybe it’s the Writer’s Block. I am struggling to come up with ideas to write about, so the only article I have been writing in the past few weeks is my weekly summary of interesting articles I have come across recently.

So what’s going on these days? This is what a typical day in my life these days looks like:

Wake up and sweat it out – I try to wake up around 6:30 am, and spend some time doing my morning exercises. I do a brisk walk of about 2.5 kilometres four days a week and half hour yoga sessions on a couple of the remaining days. Sunday is usually my rest day.

A bit of cooking – I am the designated breakfast maker in the household. So, about an hour, post exercise, goes into making breakfast, typically South Indian fare such as Dosas, Idlis, Poha, etc.

Getting the kids ready for class – My kids have online classes in the morning. So alongside preparing breakfast, I help getting the kids ready for their classes.

Helping the kids with their online classes – My kids are still small, so they need some assistance at times with their classes. This takes up about two and a half hours.

Getting ready for work – Post kids online classes is when I get ready for my work. This is also when I enjoy my first cup of coffee for the day!

Work, and lunch – After an hour or two of work, it’s lunch time! Lunch usually consists of fresh fruit and some light South Indian fare.

Further work – The rest of the day till evening goes in work. I usually have a couple of calls during the day, which is a chance to connect with co-workers from across the world. This is also when I have my second cup of coffee for the day.

Dinner – I try to have an early dinner (at least by Indian standards). So I take a break from work around 7 pm for a relatively light dinner.

Back to work – My work currently involves working with colleagues in Europe and the US of A, so I usually spend a couple of hours at work, post dinner.

Relaxation – It’s after kids are in bed that I try and get some relaxation / entertainment time. Thanks to the restart of the English Premier League, these days this consists of watching some football (time-zones permitting). I also watch some streaming video.

One of the challenges I am facing these days is to get a clearer demarcation between work time and personal / home time. I admit that I am one of those people who miss ‘commute’ time, even if prior to lock-down, commute was only a 15 minute walk. But the discipline and activities involved in sticking to that routine felt like it gave me a greater degree of control over my time. These days, when I feel bored, I just sit in front of my computer and do some work of spend some time casually browsing. I miss the experience of going out, traveling (on work or for pleasure), meeting people, eating out, getting my senses stimulated by the sights and sounds outside. I do hope that things get back to some degree of ‘normalcy’ soon…