Life

Falling off the map

Pico Iyer

The timestamp for the first chapter is 1990. I imagine myself then, 26 years ago, cognizant of the places being referred to in the book only thanks to an atlas, and a penchant for remembering country-capital-currency courtesy school quizzes. Just text in the head, with no images to go along, in a world before the internet.
What then, are these lonely places? From Iceland up there to Australia down south and from North Korea to the right and Paraguay to the left (ideologically, just the opposite!) Pico writes about seven places (the others being Vietnam, Cuba and Bhutan) that have seemingly exiled themselves from the world. In Pico’s words, “Lonely Spaces are not just isolated places, for loneliness is a state of mind“.
Australia is probably the one place that can be deemed ‘alone’ (in terms of geography) too, but all of the other places are just that – lonely, despite being inhabited by populations vibrant in their own way, or being surrounded by nations that are seemingly not too different from them. “More than in space, then, it is in time that Lonely Places are often exiled, and it is their very remoteness from the present tense that gives them their air of haunted glamour.”

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Bombay Brasserie

I suspect I’ll have to lunch/dine out pretty much every single day at least for a month if I have to keep up with the number of restaurants that are opening in Indiranagar. One of the most prominent places that have sprung up in Spring-Summer 2017 is Bombay Brasserie. No prizes for guessing that it’s on 12th Main, though on the side closer to 80 ft Road. (map) I think they must have hit a wall trying to find space on the other side. (The Dravids stay there. #getit 😉 )

Anyway, we landed up on a Sunday afternoon without a reservation, mostly because they wouldn’t take a reservation. It was crowded as expected, and we were told that there would be a waiting time of around 45 minutes. I pictured myself braving the Whitefield-Indiranagar traffic on another weekend, and immediately expressed my deep appreciation for the short waiting time. But the lady at the reception was absolutely ‘crabby’ – tough countenance but total softie inside, since we got the table in less than 20 minutes! And that too, a lovely swing from which one could see the road. The decor consists of what is now becoming a standard – quirky furniture and showpieces (that Remington typewriter!), and a white-teal-blue colour scheme. But this has been done really well, with plenty of well arranged seating space, giving a lively yet relaxing vibe. I’m sure it looks even prettier at night.

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Free* Will

*Conditions Apply

The first documented appearance of the subject on the blog is in 2011, and I seem to have posted on the subject every alternate year, the last being in 2015. But it’s sheer coincidence and not really pattern following that led me to think, and write, about free will now.

Across my life, I have moved from having a faith and believing in predestination (will of God), to being agnostic and believing in karma, to being an atheist and believing in the influence of luck (random chance) in all the plans I make. In the last version, the view is that my free will is dominant – I make my own choices which dictate my future and nothing is predetermined. The luck explains the good and bad out-of-ordinary things that change my future, but it is random. Karma stories are a forced narrative based on hindsight. More

Wanderers, All

Janhavi Acharekar

“Window Seat”, the author’s first work, ranks among my favourites, so I picked this up with much expectation. While it did not really bowl me over, it does have a few things working for it.
The story, or rather stories, is just as the title suggests – journeys. As Kinara’s dad tells her- “it’s about journeys. We’re all on the same one.” At one level, these journeys are physical – the one that Kinara undertakes, aided by a cryptic set of maps and notes from her Dad, who had traced the family’s journey from sixteenth century Goa to twenty first century Mumbai, or the ones that her ancestors Gajanan and Murli made from Khed to Bombay. It is also the journey of Murli, whose story , set in the late nineteenth and early twentieth century, runs as the parallel narrative to Kinara’s own Goan backpacking trip. And finally, it is also the journey of Bombay – from Bal Gangadhar Tilak’s fierce oratory to the plague to the Quit India movement and the Bombay Docks explosion – as seen through the eyes of Murli, and other characters around him.

Float

First published in Bangalore Mirror

Take a deep breath and imagine this – a Moroccan themed rooftop lounge and restaurant serving Japanese and North Indian, located in the concrete abomination called Outer Ring Road. Whatever floats your boat, you might say, and Float is exactly what you now have in Kadubeesanahalli. (map, same building as Jashn) Truth be told, they have actually done quite a decent job with the ambiance. In addition to the standard tables and bar seating that offer a good view of the cityscape and probably the sunset as well, there are comfortable cabanas that amply justify the lounge tag. And if that weren’t enough, there are hookahs too, which seemed to be quite popular, judging by what we saw. But wait, there’s more. We were all in agreement that the dinner was just about average, but around the time we lef, there was a burst of affection for the place from the ladies in the group. Sounds fishy? It literally was, because the gamechanger was a mini fish spa located right in the middle of the restaurant, which was discovered only after our meal had ended. If you think this is surreal, let me share a quick note on the music. In the space of an hour and a half, I heard Guns N’ Roses, Coldplay and Backstreet Boys! The place might be named Float, but one way or another, it will leave you floored.

The menu makes you think, on multiple levels. Considering the place is fairly new, how could the menu get so dirty so fast? Beyond that distraction, the first drink we tried was the schizophrenic sounding Luv U Like A Women that added to this perception by being just a Cosmopolitan by another name. The group was unanimous that I needed a drink named “For Taller, Stronger, Sharper” – a warm combination of Brandy, Horlicks and honey. That wasn’t as bad as I had feared though it could have been mixed better. The second drink we tried from the Dawa Daaru section was what they called Sarkar’s Prescription. The description sounded like the Hot Toddy/Doctor’s Prescription available elsewhere – apple juice, cinnamon, cardamom, black pepper, honey and brandy. But trust things to go bad when the Sarkar gets involved! I was also punished later for giving the Scotch Float a chance – after all, what kind of person would ask for a drink that mixed whiskey and wine! One drink that worked relatively was Knock Out – a vodka, green chili, tabasco shot floating in beer. The mocktail we tried – Flying Kiwi – was colourful enough to be a kids drink, but was fine in terms of taste.

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A Kerala Holi Day!

This wasn’t really a planned holiday, but thanks to my AmEx card, we had a Taj voucher to use. That sum being reasonably insignificant in the Taj scheme of things, we wanted to limit the amount we spent for a ‘free voucher’, and that was how Kovalam was chosen as a destination. That, and a chance to see relatives we hadn’t met in over a decade! In line with our miserly approach to this trip, we decided to get there by train. Through some excellent inattention to detail, we ended up in a 2nd Class Sleeper and not the A/C ‘Garib Rath’. It had been a while since we made a summer train journey, and the lack of practice showed! Meanwhile, train journeys are an excellent discovery process – of towns one never knew existed – and this one was no exception. But to cut a long story short, Kerala in the morning was quite a welcome sight!

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The Girl on the Train

Paula Hawkins

It does have a lot going for it, and I now understand why it has been such a rage. Quite a fresh take on the amnesia thriller, the author makes it easy to connect with Rachel, with whom the story begins – she is the girl on the train. Through her eyes, we see the other characters. The build up in the initial pages – we know something is about to happen – is done really well, and while the multi -first person narrative is not new, the skill with which it has been wielded deserves a thumbs up. It is not just the shift in perspective and the fresh format, but the timing of it that makes the whole thing work. A lot of work seems to have gone into Rachel’s character and the gamut of emotions one feels for her is proof that it is a job well done! But..

In the end, I think it was the expectations that spoiled it for me a bit. That, and the length. The immediate comparison was with the other girl – Gone Girl. I’d totally loved its unpredictability. In this case, there just aren’t enough twists to warrant 300+ pages. Actually, the pace towards the end is fantastic – I read the last 100 pages in one go – but I felt that all of that could have been made more gripping.  More

Communiti

One of the best things about long weekends is the traffic, or rather the lack of it. Communiti had been hitting my Insta and FB feeds since it opened, and the long Republic Day weekend gave us the perfect excuse to make the long distance trip into town. It’s right next to Taj Gateway on Residency Road and very hard to miss! (map) We got there before 7 on a Saturday night and easily found a table in the al fresco section. If you get the right table, there’s a good view of the road to be had. The decor is typical gastro pub – quirky lighting fixtures, long benches, and so on. Their brewery will start only in March, we were told.

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10 Observations from working with Millennials

The dynamics of ‘work’ have been changing for a while now, so much that when I think about writing on the subject, my thinking almost seems outdated! Not surprising, GigaOm’s post from a year ago – How the great generational shift is causing transformation in the very nature of employment – shows as many as six generations active in the workforce these days! Each of them with different world views, attitudes, priorities and approaches to work. But given that I’m trading one demographic number for another in a couple of days, I thought it an appropriate time to share a few observations based on my recent experiences. Since I had written earlier on the challenges faced by my generation in The Future of Work and The Entrepreneur & the Professional, this post focuses on a younger workforce. Millennials, if you are into labels.

The first two points set the context. I mention these two because I think they have a direct link to the worldview, attitudes and behaviours of the emerging workforce towards work, and their life in general. They serve as the backdrop for me to observe the 15+ people I have managed in the last 4-5 years. More

Stumbling on Happiness

Daniel Gilbert
The title is quite misleading – this is by no means a self help book! It will not tell you how to become happy. In fact, I’d say that Daniel Gilbert truly appreciates the uncertainty and ambiguity that is happiness, its subjective uniqueness in each human’s mind, and therefore, even when he gives us his perspective on how one can predict the chances of one’s happiness, he underplays it!
I found the book to be a systematic deconstruction of happiness which takes it into realms such as cognitive science, psychology, behavioural economics and even philosophy to a certain extent. Right from the explanation of the literal ‘blind spot’ in our optical mechanism, the ‘deal’ between the eye and the mind, and then using this blind spot as a metaphor for the lacunae in our perception and imagination, it is a fascinating step-by-step analysis of how we perceive happiness, with studies and examples to back it all up. He is also able to point out why our own predictions of happiness regularly go wrong, even on events which are repeats of our own earlier experience!
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