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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.

Credits

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.

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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.
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Two Years!

It is two years today.

I still wake up some nights with a start thinking about that horrible and terrible night. An ambulance siren far away is often almost always a trigger. But I have come to terms with her loss much better than I thought I ever would.

The first year, I missed her a lot! But was thankful at times that she did not have to see a company I had founded closing, basically going broke and in debt. But I have sorely missed her last year while getting married, getting a new job, doing so many fun things as a family with my dad and sister. This year, has been one of the best years of my life and mom has missed it!

<3 you mom.

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The October 2018 List

I am trying something new – which is to write a list of things I am consuming and at times reflecting on through the month of October 2018

  1. Recomendo – A really nice newsletter. The point is simple – a newletter via email that recommends 6 different things. These could be a movie, television series, book, an online article to read or even a life hack.
  2. Player Unknown’s Battlegrounds or PUBG – A multiplayer shooter game. I find myself addicted to it, that said its not as addictive either – I can easily not play it for a couple of days. It’s available on Steam, Android and iOS
  3. Afternoon Naps – I have started to take short afternoon naps, usually around 20 mins. These are really great in getting some brain rest going, also it is a lot more relaxing physically than just lying down on a bed.
  4. Atul Gawande on The Path to Perpetual Progress – This podcast was really nice one on the Knowledge project. Atul Gawande popular for his Checklist Manifesto and other books, was recently in the news for being selected as the new CEO of a healthcare company started by Warren Buffet, Jeff Bezos and others.
  5. Raja Rasoi aur anya kahaniya – A Netflix documentary series on food from around India. While this is a show on history, it explores the history of all the really nice things we eat all around India.
  6. Behave: The Biology of Humans at our Best and Worst – Is a nice thick book that can be a bit tedious at times. I was really attracted to reading this book because of a few videos and particularly this article on “free will being basically an illusion” that the book covers.
  7. Bluetooth Headphones from Seinheiser – While I always thought spending on a big headphone to listen to music while working was a bit of a waste. But living near a construction site and a train line, I finally gave in and spent a bit of money. Noise cancelling headphones  + bluetooth are awesome.
  8. Dil se re – So I usually listen to a playlist. But I started listen to this old classic from 1999 – on repeat to get started with the day usually. I am not sure if this song repeat habit is good, bad or  ¯_(ツ)_/¯  — but I quite liked re-connecting with this old classic from the great AR Rahman.
  9. Sanjay Dutt and Sanju: I was a fan of Sanjay Dutt growing up. A bollywood action star and toxic masculinity, what’s there not to like for a teenaged boy. I saw his biopic and found the entire it’s media fault narrative disappointing. Sanjay Dutt’s life surely is quite incredible for its ups and downs but the movie on it, reduced it to an insipid narrative.
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A haircut, a cola and a Test match

Recently, I watched in bits and pieces, India winning a test match against England on television. I am one of those cricket tragics, who watches only test matches. The rest I feel does not have enough context. I was thinking a bit about why I think of the long form game with such romance. And I remembered a very blurry memory from my childhood.

I remember as a child (and that would be the 80s) getting a haircut from the local barber shop. The cricket match was playing on a grainy television set in the shop. The great West Indies team were hurting the Indian team (sometimes quite literally with their fast bowling attack) but everyone in the barber shop was egging our cricketers along, at the same time praising the opposition’s quality and excellence. My dad having with a general receding hairline had his haircut in a few minutes. Then it would be my turn. Though I love the game of cricket, I preferred the usual soft toned Mohammad Rafi songs that usually saloons played instead of the West Indies bowling at Indian batsman.

Why you might ask?

Well, the guy with scissors would mutter a cautious word to the Indian batsman. Snip, Snip, Snip he would go around my ears and suddenly groan “Play straight, play properly. Don’t throw your wicket away”.

“Yes, please follow your advice. Don’t cut off my ear now” – I wish I had the courage to say that.

That particular day, I hated the cricket great Kapil Dev. He was not the cautious kind. If someone bounced a ball at 90 mph at this head, he was going to hook it out for a six. Sometimes he would miss, sometimes he would flamboyantly smack it out of the ground for six. While it was all riveting, I hated him for making this man with deadly sharp scissors, very excited. Kapil Dev was getting him excitedly shouting sometimes in admonishment and sometimes in pure joy.

After that near death experience at the barber shop, my dad would take me to the nearest provision store and we would share a cold drink. It was always a bottle of Thumsup. Getting a Thumsup after a haircut, was our tradition. Apparently it was older than even before I could begin to form proper words.

We would walk back home and as a family watch a slow moving and detailed drama called Test cricket. Kapil Dev, Viv Richards, Malcolm Marshall would usually write unusual twists and turns that made watching a whole day’s game worth the time spent.

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Mr. Ambassador, you say light at the end of the tunnel, but how long is the tunnel?

Over the past week or so, I have been watching this riveting, well edited documentary series, namely “The Vietnam War: A film by Ken Burns and Lynn Novick

I like documentaries by Ken Burns and hence started to check this one out now that it’s available on Netflix.

Ambassador Elsworth Bunker during the Vietnam war suggested that they were now looking at the light at the end of the tunnel.

The interviewer replied “Mr. Ambassador, you say light at the end of the tunnel, but how long is the tunnel?”

The political bluster, the terrifying ego of an empire willing to send thousands of their young into war and death and millions of their so called enemy, the sheer resoluteness of a people – who has just won their fight against colonialism are some of the narratives captured very well.

I am only half way through it but really liking it. Also quite disgusted by much of what it reveals.

That said I wonder what people from Vietnam think of such documentaries? 

Do they think of this as an indulgent America putting balm on their own wounds from a war, while more or less forgetting the lessons from that war?

About the title:

Ambassador Elsworth Bunker during the Vietnam war suggested that they were now looking at the light at the end of the tunnel.

The interviewer replied “Mr. Ambassador, you say light at the end of the tunnel, but how long is the tunnel?” – episode 6 of the documentary.

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A couple of books about our world

I recently picked up a couple of books on Kindle. Starting with the An Era of Darkness by Shashi Tharoor. The book is highly recommended by many friends and relatives who have read it, have been surprised on India’s colonial history. I personally did not find An Era of Darkness as illuminating, but then I have been reading about colonialism for a while now.

The other book I am reading and finding interesting is “The Wealth of Nations by Adam Smith” and it was thanks to a quote by Noam Chomsky – 

People read snippets of Adam Smith, the few phrases they teach in school. Everybody reads the first paragraph of The Wealth of Nations where he talks about how wonderful the division of labor is. But not many people get to the point hundreds of pages later, where he says that division of labor will destroy human beings and turn people into creatures as stupid and ignorant as it is possible for a human being to be. And therefore in any civilized society the government is going to have to take some measures to prevent division of labor from proceeding to its limits.
He did give an argument for markets, but the argument was that under conditions of perfect liberty, markets will lead to perfect equality. That’s the argument for them, because he thought that equality of condition (not just opportunity) is what you should be aiming at. It goes on and on. He gave a devastating critique of what we would call North-South policies. He was talking about England and India. He bitterly condemned the British experiments they were carrying out which were devastating India.

– Chomsky

The bold letters are my emphasis. I am actually surprised how I managed to not read this book all this while.

I am looking for recommendations on books that explain our world practically and philosophically rather than spiritually.

Drop in your recommendations, I would love to check them out.

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I have joined Automattic

On 12th Feb, I joined Automattic as a Community Wrangler.

They are the fine folks behind WordPress.com, Akismet, Jetpack (two plugins this blog has be running on for a long time now), Longreads, WooCommerce and much more.

It also has open-source at the core of is DNA. The company works in a completely distributed manner, which means everyone works remotely.

As a Community Wrangler, I would be working with the volunteers and also full time folks who mainly keep the WordPress community running. This is a really exciting new journey I have embarked upon.

And yes, Automattic is hiring!

That said, starting full-time with Automattic was the second best thing to have happened to me this month. A week before I started work, I got married to my best friend Kavita. ♥️

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New Year Resolutions!

A few days before 2014 dawned, I wrote a clever post about how I felt about new year resolutions. Overtime I have in a way become less ready to dismiss or accept just about anything.

I prefer to think of myself as someone who can give time to listen and understand.

So this tweet by Scott Berkun resonates well.

I agree!

So I do not care weather they are resolutions or new habits you decided randomly on 1st of January or the 1st of June. That is cool, you are trying to change something in your life. Let me know how I can help you out.

My Resolutions

  1. Write at least a 100 odd posts here
  2. Learn to be calm, meditate and find stillness
  3. Take a holiday and travel
  4. Watch a Test match live again (hopefully Wankhede)
  5. If #2 works out, read atleast 50 odd books in the whole year
  6. Learn to play a musical instrument
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WordPress India is five years old!

A bit more than 5 years ago, a BBPress installation was done. No one but a few hundred bots signed up. Alex and I decided instead of people coming to our website, we would start a Facebook group.

What do we call it? We tried to keep it simple and obscure enough to everyone and not just someone who codes, feel welcome to join in.

Hence we called this Facebook group “WordPress India”. A couple of days ago, on 22nd November, we completed five years of the group.

On the 5th anniversary, Saurabh, Alex and I took part in a Live Hangout and talked about marketing yourself at WordCamps and meetups.

Catchup on the discussion here.