The phone screen and distraction

One of the things I started to work on a bit last year was to reduce the number of notifications I get on my phone to checking the phone all the time.

The phone is something I use a lot for listening to music (Spotify), making payments and Twitter. I also use it to get around with Uber or Ola.

I use WhatsApp and Telegram. But also use Signal for checking my text messages. I use Todoist for dumping all the tasks into it.

I use Pocket and Kindle to read. My book reading is still very strongly paper based.

Last month I spent over 10 hours at an airport as part of a layover between flights. To kill sometime I spent organising my apps into folders and reducing the number of screens I had on my phone.

This is my first screen or rather home screen.

This is the second screen with all the apps setup in folders.

Two taps instead of one

I stopped opening some apps I often open as a default because of muscle memory.

Grouping all the apps also meant I need two taps instead of one to open an app. Which means one more mindful step.

I have removed the Facebook app from my phone.

This experiment is working out and I am going to have more tweaks to cut down even more of my time spent on the phone screen.

I want to at some stage get to the ultimate stage of not having Slack on my phone.

Culture Lists

Books read in 2019

After being stuck in a bit of a rut in terms of reading books, I ended up reading more books in 2019 than previous years.

I read a lot of things online and this year I had to make a conscious effort at switching off from a screen and carry a book.

Culture Learn

The romance to open web

This weekend I ended up listening to a podcast by Matt Mullenweg with Anil Dash.

For me, both are pretty much people I most admire when I think of the words “open web”.


Songs, Choirs and A.R Rahman

While looking around on a Saturday afternoon to find something new to listen to while working, I came across this wonderful mixture of “Hey Jude” – Beatles and “Tere Bina” – A.R Rahman.

This song is performed by the Shillong Chamber Choir group. The fun thing about the video is that, the whole group looked like they were really having a lot of fun while shooting the video.


The Russian folk song and its Hindi cover “Darling” in “7 khoon maaf”

A favourite song I often listen to a lot, is “Darling”, from the movie “7 khoon maaf

The movie is based on a short story by Ruskin Bond titled “Susanna’s seven husbands”. The song “Darling” is basically a Hindi cover version of the famous Russian folk song “Kalinka“.

The song has a speedy tempo and its tempo increases consistently over and over again.

It is performed ever so brilliantly by Usha Uthup and Rekha Bharadwaj.

WordCamp WordPress

Visiting WordCamp Nagpur and speaker slides

This is my second visit to the Nagpur and both have been thanks to attending a WordCamp in the city.

Culture Reflect

Yuvraj Singh: Swagger and Inspiration

Today Yuvraj Singh announced his retirement.

He was known to typify the man who walked on the field with swagger, played with flamboyance, and showed ability that borders on genius.


Who can forget his 6 sixes against England during the inaugural T20 World Cup in South Africa.

But the most enduring memory was Yuvraj Singh, who was often being criticised as a bit of a has been in 2011, come out and play the best cricket of his life. It was not surprising that when Indian became World Champs in 2011 in Mumbai – Yuvraj was the man of the series.

But the saga had just started. News trickled out that Yuvraj had been sick during the tournament. Over the next year, he fought lung cancer and with chemotherapy he survived and beat cancer.

He did not just beat cancer, he managed to get back to cricket and play at the highest level all over again. His international career after his comeback was patchy but is the most inspiring part of his career and a testimony to mental strength and courage.

Learn Reflect

Being Mortal

I discovered this book thanks to a couple of podcasts, I came across. Also a cousin whose taste in books I quite like, highly recommended it.

The podcasts had Atul Gawande, sagaciously explain the issues around caring for the old and infirm. Atul Gawande brings in a lot of data, a lot of empathy and accepts that a lot of medicine is work in progress.

Fair warning, there are plenty of triggers in this book, as it does tackle a difficult topic. The topic of growing old, or falling sick and being mortal.

There are some beautiful and profound insights in the book. The writing is often arresting and sometimes beautiful.

Below is one of my favourites from the book

As our time winds down, we all seek comfort in simple pleasures — companionship, everyday routines, the taste of good food, the warmth of sunlight on our faces. We become less interested in the rewards of achieving and accumulating, and more interested in the rewards of simply being. Yet while we may feel less ambitious, we also become concerned for our legacy. And we have a deep need to identify purposes outside ourselves that make living feel meaningful and worthwhile.

From Being Mortal
Culture Learn

What’s really important in your life?

A couple of days ago, I met a friend with whom I went on a very long walk. We walked for over 3 hours, waiting for breakfast, coffee later and some cheesecake by noon. There is something great about walking and talking with a friend for hours. For some reason there is a lot of clarity and elasticity in thought while thinking about things during a walk.

So I wondered if the best way to enjoy my walk was not just walk to music but also listen to a podcast and think about things. Today I loaded listened to Atul Gawande and Tom Jennings talking about mortality.

There is a lot to take away from that podcast with quotes like

What is turning out to be the powerful way of actually having this conversation is, you put the pills down, and you talk to the patient and you say: ‘What’s really important in your life?’

While listening to it can tear you up a bit, especially if you have lost someone, but it has a lot of amazing insights into how we view our work and how it can make a difference.


The November 2018 List

A list of things I am consuming and at times reflecting on through the month of November 2018

  1. Printed Newspapers – Since the end of 2015, I have not really subscribed to the printed newspaper. This month I moved to a new flat and subscribed to the Mumbai editions of The Hindu and The Indian Express. There is just something edifying about reading a newspaper first thing in the morning.
  2.  Bad Movies – I saw a few bad movies. But the Marathi film starring Madhuri Dixit called Bucket List was a terrible waste of time. Another bad movie was the Ballad of Buster Scruggs on Netflix. It had some good moments but overall quite terrible.
  3. Outlaw King This movie on Netflix about Robert the Bruce was good and well made. Captain Kirk (new one) makes a decent Robert the Bruce. The historical is about the rebellion by Robert the Bruce after the death of William Wallace. It has some historical inaccuracies but can be forgiven. Fun fact: The movie Braveheart was about William Wallace but in Scottish history “Brave heart” was almost always referred to Robert the Bruce.
  4. Narcos – Mexico: Well the 4th season on Narcos is not as exciting as the first two. But still good if you are a fan.
  5. Wire ties – I ordered some wire ties. Mainly some velcro based small bands that can be used to tie up and keep in place all those million charger wires. I also bought some twist tie wire spool. I wonder why I never used these before in my life!
  6. New Apps – I settled on using Todoist for tracking what I need to do everyday. It works great across platforms. Also experimented with Headspace for learning how to meditate.
  7. Shivaji the Grand Rebel – A book but David Kincaid written in the 1930s is a interesting book. By no means a great historical book but is a good read for a synopsis on the life and times of the Maratha king.
  8. Visit to a dentist – I had a terrible toothache. I kept putting a trip to the dentist away for almost 5 years now. But this was the month I finally made my first ever trip to the dentists. I found out that its not as horrible as I thought it would be.