Post is part of the project- Birds in the neighborhood. | Bird 48
I am extending the definition of neighborhood to include any place I visit as Earth is my home. Earlier, up to bird 47, all the clicks were taken around 100 feet from my home in Warora (Dist: Chandrapur). The following shots were taken at a Pond (Mama Talav) near Bhatala in Warora Tahsil of Chandrapur District (Maharashtra, India). The place is between three villages Bhatala, Kotbala and Khemjai and easy to identify.
The adult Black-winged Stilts are 33–36 cm (13–14 in) long. They have long pink legs, a long thin black bill and are blackish above and white below, with a white head and neck with a varying amount of black. Males have a black back, often with greenish gloss. Females’ backs have a brown hue, contrasting with the black remiges. In the populations that have the top of the head normally white at least in winter, females tend to have less black on head and neck all year round, while males often have much black, particularly in summer. This difference is not clear-cut, however, and males usually get all-white heads in winter. (The paragraph taken form Wikipedia)
Half an hour after waking up in morning yesterday (i.e. 20th January) felt different. Multiple ideas, emotions and words were rising in my mind yet I was able to channelize it a bit and write most of them. Having many thoughts, some times uncontrollable is something which keeps on happening always. The difference is that until some 7-8 years back I was able to channelize the multiple thoughts and tasks, not just about writing but everything. Yesterday, I experienced my old self. I an writing all of it here today so that I can always come back to it. I am not claiming it to be poetry… read it as it is…
मैं मर भी जाऊ तो ज़िंदा रहेंगे, ज़िंदादिल भी, मेरे सपने मेरे सोने के बाद भी जागते रहते हैं,
शिक्षक हूँ, सपनों के कई बीज बोए हैं, संजोए हैं सपनों की लहलहाती फसलों के सपने देखे हैं ।
चेहरे पर सवाल लिए मिलता हैं इंसान से इंसान ये कौनसा दौर है की ‘शक की‘ होती है पहली नज़र
कम शब्दों में कहने दो, फिर चुप रहने दो, अच्छा होगा जरा emotions का रायता फैलाने की आदत हैं मुझे…
ललकती आँखो में चमकता शहर बसा तो लिया हमने, खोयी सी नज़र क्यों गाँव ढूँढती हैं शहर के कोने कोने ?
फटे कपड़ों से शरीर छुपाने की मशक़्क़त में पहले ‘सोच’, फिर ‘शब्दों’ का ‘संकोच’ हुआ,
अब नंगा हूँ तो न ख़ुदा का न बंदों का डर हैं, धीरे धीरे लौट रही, मेरे कलम की ‘आवारगी’
संभलकर देखो तुम मेरी आँखों में जो छलक रहा हैं ज़रूरी नहीं प्यार हों जाम हों या हों मिलन की आशा
लड़खड़ाते लब्ज़ से फिसलती खामोशी कुछ कह रहीं, ज़रूरी नहीं अरज हों आरज़ू हों या हों तड़प बेतहाशा
चलें? साथ जलें? तेरा असर तो हुआ है, हैं तू भी ज़हर ज़रूरी नहीं की मौत तक चलें या एक रातभर तेरा नशा
मैंने मोड़ दिया है समय का रुख़, मेरी मौत से मेरा नया जन्म होगा
So another ‘Calendar Year’ is here (and the ‘newness’ of the year might have already gone. By the logic of my elders ‘Navyache Nau Diwas’, meaning novely of every new thing lasts only for Nine days.) … just an other Calendar year. Yet again the memes about new year resolutions which lasts just till the year is new, have flooded the timelines on various social media accounts (and I think by today most of these memes might have come true again) . There is some element of truth to these memes. Nothing to be ashamed of, but the observations are worth pondering. Why many of us get driven to make resolutions around new year, why very few of us are actually able to carry out what we resolve and can we program ourselves to keep more of the promises we make to ourselves?
What’s a Year?
A year is the time taken by Earth to orbit all the way around the Sun. A day is the time taken by Earth to revolve around its own axis for once (we have divided this time into 24 divisions called hours. Let me not go into more details of the day here, yet you can read about sidereal day, stellar day, etc.). Now, the length of the year is approximately 365.2425 days. But including a few hours of a day in one year and leaving others will cause confusion. So we generally have 365 days in a year and we accumulate the excess hours as an extra day (Gregorian Calendar).
(Do you Know: Hence 97 out of 400 years are leap years? Note, 1700, 1800, and 1900 were not leap years but 2000 was a leap year along with every other year divisible by 4 but not divisible by 100. Again 2100 will not be a leap year. ).
Things get interesting with ancient Indian/Hindu Calendars (Old Shaka, Vikram Samvat, etc.). These calendars follow lunar months. Hence twelve months (masa, lunar month) is approximately equal to 354 days, which is about 11 days less than the length of a solar year. This creates a difference of about eleven days, which is offset every (29.53/10.63) = 2.71 years, or approximately every 32.5 months. Purushottam Maas or Adhik Maas is an extra month that is inserted to keep the lunar and solar calendars aligned. (There is an additional correction of maas, when one month gets dropped/canceled for further corrections over longer durations- centuries)
(Do you Know: When I talked about the day, it was a 24-hour day of one complete revolution of Earth around itself. Apart from that divas (solar day- based on solar movement. One sunrise to another is 1 divas. Note that this time is not 24 hours) and tithi (lunar day – based on movements of the moon. A tithi also is not 24 hours but can vary between 21.5 hours to 26 hours.) are two concepts you can read about.)
Indian National Calendar, also known as Saka Calendar was prepared/adopted by the calendar reform committee led by Senior Indian Astrophysicist Meghnad Saha. by studying different calendar systems used throughout the country. It has the same length as that of the Gregorian year.
The Hijri or Islamic year also follows the lunar months and hence are 354 or 355 days in length.
(Throwback: During school days, while very early education of basic astronomy (as part of the geography syllabus) was being taught, I was very much confident that the time taken by Earth to complete one revolution around the Sun and reach some fixed point on orbit once again should be called a year. But later, I got to know that even the position of the orbit is not fixed and neither is the time for this revolution. This is one of the incidents that fuelled the understanding that we can not have ‘absolute’ knowledge about something.)
What’s a ‘New Year’?
Actually, when I thought a little deeper, there was nothing special about the moment when the calendar changes. A little more thought and it again felt special, along with countless other moments. (Remember, It is not just about one calendar but every other calendar. People generally use such information to discredit one thing and childishly think that it makes other things look better, by default.)
The current calendar according to which we just celebrated the new year is the Gregorian Calendar introduced by Pope Gregory XIII as a modification of the Julian Calendar. The Julian calendar day Thursday, 4 October 1582 was followed by the first day of the Gregorian calendar, Friday, 15 October 1582. The Julian calendar, first implemented by Julius Caesar in 46 B.C., had fallen out of sync with seasons since the Roman emperor’s system miscalculated the length of the solar year by 11 minutes. So the new year day of the Julian calendar is not the same day as the new year day of the Gregorian calendar… though both are the 1st of January in respective calendars.
Currently (from 1901 to 2099), Julian Calendar is behind the corresponding Gregorian date by 13 days. Some people around the globe (traditions who follow the Julian Calendar) will be celebrating the new year on the 14th of this month. But the Julian Calendar itself is a modification of the old Roman Calendar which used to start on the 1st of March, when September was the 7th, October 8th, and December 10th month as their names suggest. Though most of the world accepted first the Julian and then Gregorian Calendar as it should be for practical purposes in an increasingly connected world, the observation of the new year has been different at various times in various places. 25 March to honor Lady Day, 25 December as Jesus’ Birth, 29 August in Egypt (sometime), 23 September as the birthday of Emperor Augustus, etc. There was a time when 1 January was celebrated as the Feast of the Circumcision and Naming of Jesus, but not as New Year’s Day.
Various European nations and colonies adopted 1 January as the start of the new year during different years, mostly when the Julian Calendar was still being used. To name a few, France in 1564, most of Germany in 1544, Spain and Portugal in 1556, Sweden, Norway, and Denmark in 1599, Scotland from 1600, and Russia in 1725. England, Wales, Ireland, and Britain’s American colonies did so in 1752.
The various calendars from the Indian Subcontinent, which mostly follow lunar months, celebrate the new year on different dates. A significant lunar position combined with social-cultural significance like the first new moon of Chaitra month (the first new moon after the solar equinox) is Gudhi padawa celebrated as new year day in Maharashtra and some other states of India. While in Gujarat, the new year starts with Kartik Month (which coincides with Diwali) of the same calendar, Vikram Samvat.
In the Indian National Calendar, Chaitra is the first month of the calendar. Chaitra has 30 days and starts on March 22 in non-leap years and in leap years, it has 31 days and starts on March 21. (Similar to Farvardin, the first month of the Iranian Solar Hijri calendar this start coincides with the March equinox.). But the diwas starts with Sunrise, so no point in staying awake for midnight strokes of 00:00 hrs.
In Islamic Calendar, the year begins on the first day of the month of Muharram. This keeps on changing with respect to the Gregorian calendar as there are no adjustments as per solar/sidereal year. A day in the Islamic calendar is defined as beginning at sunset, that’s when the new year starts.
What’s so special about ‘New Year’?
Till now you must have understood what a new year means and when does it start. If you don’t, you are not alone, we are two (at least).
The meaning of the year actually depends on the calendar accepted/followed by the socio-economic structures you are a member of. In the more connected world of this era of globalization, we find ourselves to be part of many such structures. For most of us, we are still following the native calendars of our forefathers for festivals, religious activities, events related to traditional occupation, etc. Yet, as global citizens need one calendar to be in sync, the Gregorian calendar is driving the most significant parts of our lives now. We might decide on the various dates as the start of a new calendar year, new economic year, or new ‘personal’ year starting from your birthday, but the year we are talking about is majorly Gregorian. (How will your colleague from another part of this planet wish you on your birthdays as per say Vikram Samvat birth ‘tithi’ when it keeps falling on different Gregorian dates and times every year?).
Yet, who has denied us our right to observe any calendar in any way we want? But as per my understanding, most of us need some social confirmation from others about various events, and the more diverse your social circle, the more likely you are to go back to the Gregorian calendar.
Even in the Gregorian Calendar, every day is the start of a new year that is going to end next year at the exact same time (don’t be too smart to talk about 29th February. You already know what I mean.) So what if your resolution lasted only a few days and then discontinued ? If it’s still relevant, today another new year is starting. Go ahead and do it again. Don’t say I am never going to break my resolution again. Because everyone does (almost). Let’s be different by accepting it and doing it again. Let’s develop the awareness that every moment is special. Believe it and reap the benefits.
(Note: I started writing this piece on 30th December of 2022 and posting it today on 9th January of 2023. I had resolved to finish it in two days, but couldn’t. So what? I just kept on revisiting. I was sure, any day I finish will be a special day. Today MAXIMESS completed 14 years of incorporation and I am writing this finishing note sitting in Aundh (Pune), where some crucial meetings about the inception of MAXIMESS took place in 2008. My advice for myself if this article finds me 14 years ago? It’s Okay if you are not constantly at some tasks, make sure you revisit it today. The today in the title means the day you are reading this article. Yes, it starts now. )
Tesla founder Elon Musk’s net worth is $238 billion. How much is $238 billion?
A recent Statista article by Katharine Buchholz have interesting explaination for you. It says, “If the 50-year old started spending a dollar each second (without accumulating further wealth and the dollar not inflating or deflating), his current riches would last him more than 7,600 years.”
It’s only around 2000 years from Jesus time till now. If Elon Musk spends $1 per second, it will last his 7600 years. Interesting way to explain numbers, right?
If you want to go into calculations:
A billion is 10^9. 238 billion is 238 * 10^9 i.e. 238000000000.
One year have 60*60*24*365 = 31536000 seconds.
238000000000 divided by 31536000 = 7546.9 (To easily understand 238 * 10^9 divided by 31.5 * 10^6 gives us around 7.5 * 10^3 = 7500 approx.)
In the same article, she writes, “A million seconds are close to 12 days, a billion seconds amount to almost 32 years.” Though I always play around with numbers, such refreshing interpretation makes it interesting.
If you want to go into calculations:
A million is 10^6. And One day have 60*60*24 = 86400 seconds.
1000000 divided by 86400 = 11.57 i.e. a million seconds is 12 days.
But then multiply by thousand and it is 11570 days i.e. 11570/365 =31.69 i.e. a billion second is 32 years.
I have enjoyed creating such wow moments for my students. One such interpretation came while making sense of the facts mentioned in textbooks. The radii of atoms are of the order of 10 ^ -10 m (10 Angstroms i.e. 10 raised to minus 10 metres) while nucleus of atoms had radii of the order of 10 ^ -15 m. So ratio os radii of atom and that of nucleus is 100000 = 10 ^ 5.
Then, to make them realise the comparative size, if radii of nucleus is 1 cm than radii of atom is 1 cm * 100000 = 1 km. Understand this, if atom have radius of 1 km (imagine a sphere of 1 km radius) the nucleus at its centre is of the size of a marble/a sphere of radius 1 cm. The students will start getting amazed at this point. 1 lakh i.e. 10^5 times does not make that impact which comparison of 1 cm and 1 km does make.
Now, this is just radius. By volume the ratio is 10 ^ 15. Really, really large number. That is the ration of empty space in atoms as almost all mass (protons and neutrons) is in tiny tiny nucleus.
So I would ask, though not practically going to happen, imagine that every atom collapses and only protons, neutrons etc are present together (no space in between) Earth will become of a size of room with same mass and a human being will be a fraction of spoonful in volume while weighing same.
In the classroom, teaching students to understand and interpret numbers is always an amazing experience. I think, some skills will be useful across the industries.
Let me know if you love such food for thought. I would love to serve if so.
It’s been almost 19 years and I have never written about how I landed into my first business till now. I think I should write it down while remembering some key memories of the time. I was around 19 years old then, studying B.Sc. First Year in my hometown. It would be easy for me to talk about how passionate I was about doing the business but that would be a lie. Truth is, I started it out of necessity. I could do it because some dots were present at that time and I could connect them.
At that time, I was looking for ways to support my family, my ongoing degree education, and save for my post-graduation. Mere three-digit pension my mother used to receive was hardly covering the day-to-day expenses. To overcome this, I cancelled my admission to a reputed institution and decided to cut costs by continuing my studies in hometown. But cost-cutting was not enough.
Fortunately, the campus of my degree college and that of my earlier junior college where I completed my 12th was the same. During my 11-12th, somehow I earned local fame for a different way of thinking, learning, and also for my oratory skills. My batchmates and juniors used to call me ‘scientist’ while talking to each other. All of this had happened naturally and that wave was strong for a few more years and this proved really helpful to me.
So, I was in the B.Sc. First Year. Some of the 11th class students studying in the same campus knew me personally. They started to come to my home to ask their doubts. I have this habit where I first find out what the student knows, and then I go on building upon it in the best possible way. Genuinely saying, I had no formal training of all this, but Maybe, having read too many fiction/non-fiction books during schooldays has helped. So the word about my ability to explain concepts in a way that helps students understand better and also enjoy studies started spreading.
During the same time, the education department was vigilant and was taking strict action against salaried (government grant) teachers involved in paid coaching. So there was a chance that students would flock if a good teacher presents them with an option. This opportunity was not directly visible to me first but became clear to me as it worked in my favor. (Later when those teachers started their coaching, I could maintain the first spot till the time I was operational.)
So, I decided to start a coaching. I named it ‘Drishti Study Centre’. Drishti means Vision. My belief that the right vision will help you learn anything better was the reason behind name. I chose Chemistry as a subject. I decided to use a 150 sq ft room in our house, which was a small shed on government leased land. The area and the locality were not favorable yet within the first three days room was packed (25-30 students could seat). From the fourth day we were in a rented hall with a capacity of 80-90 students and by end of the week over 200 students had registered with advanced payment.
How could Drishti Study Centre grow so quickly? I think the answer lies in the dots I explained in the above paragraphs which somehow got connected. The support of well-wishers was obviously a very important factor too.
I remember counting the first bundle of cash, First color TV, first CD player, first Fridge, first owned plot, first Bike in our family coming with that venture. I could support my own education and some more family responsibilities. I remember eating sweets in a hotel every day for many consecutive days only because I could not when I earlier wanted to. Many foolish dreams and foolish ways of completing them!
With time, I had to get a PAN number and pay excise duty/tax. I Was not aware of any business terms and legalities. (I even don’t understand many of them till date, but I complied with them). Then in 2005, I had to plan for my M.Sc. I gradually closed the operation by carefully completing the syllabus for the last batch. Many of the students are still in touch and I am very proud to be part of their journey (though very small).
Though, my subjects in B.Sc. were Physics, Maths, and Electronics. I.e. my formal education in chemistry was of HSC level and I was about to teach Chemistry to HSC students. My students knew it yet trusted me with their learnings. Also, I didn’t consider it as my lacunae, instead, I think that it helped me to avoid information overload and I built the concepts bottom-up than top-down. along with that, While I was teaching Chemistry, I participated in most Chemistry competitions like quizzes, seminars, etc., and secured top ranks. It was helpful for me in two ways; increasing my chemistry knowledge and also establishing my authority in a subject.
Coming to the point, I don’t want to lie by saying I had a plan. I didn’t. Even when I went on to start multiple ventures after my M.Sc., I don’t think I had a plan. All I had was courage and the ability to adapt quickly. First I started teaching because I needed money. The next time, I left a good salaried job and started teaching for much less because students needed it. And then, I Went on to spend most of my time as an activist and social entrepreneur.
Until a few years back, the practices, the vocabulary, and the community of the entrepreneurial world were unknown to me. I have started from scratch multiple times and never thought of ROI in some of the ventures. I went on to do something because it needed to be done; sometimes for me, sometimes for friends, and sometimes for society. If there is a person with the problem and if its solution is not going to bring profits, will that never be solved? I feel we all can take up such problems. TCO has always been an important metric for me. Not ‘Total Cost of Ownership’ but ‘Total Cost of Overlooking’.
Today, I understand the sustainability of the solution and hence, how business is important. As I am deep diving into the role of Product Owner and understanding the systematic methods of creating value, I feel confident moving forward. With the new insights, I keep on visiting my journey so far, not to regret but to analyze what knowledge at what point would have helped me make better decisions. But when I think about my first business, I wouldn’t change any bit of it.
People of India, I don’t trust us. Or even our ability to think empathetically or to find pragmatic solutions. That is the realisation which compelled me to stop my initiative of giving better political candidature in my constituency. From then I have tried to focus on creating more job opportunities, improving access of quality education, providing farmers with alternative to loan sharks etc. But instead all my energy have been wasted by poor governance, kept so by political and bureaucratic system.
I don’t want to fight. For me, this is not about winning or losing. This is about finding peace.
I am starting my attempt to find peace at 12:00 am (midnight) on 26th January, 2022. Republic Day. The day I adore and pride more than Independence Day. Why is my peace lost? I am not worried about my future or yours. I know how to survive and my son will too. I am worried about the compromises he too will have to make to survive and grow. For many of you, this will sound absurd or weak. It doesn’t matter. I am not writing to convince anyone. I am just writing and recording it to put forth what my actions meant when you will try to interpret it as per your will.
Update: 6:48 pm, 25th January 2022, Mumbai (Near Mantralaya): I have started my 24+ hours fast from 12:00 pm (noon) today. I am still wondering where is the source of apathy we observe in most politicians and bureaucrats. In selective scenarios, they know how to fake the empathy as rule of engagement. Where does the apathy and disregard for the constitution and deceit towards the oath come???
Update: 7:32 pm, 25th January 2022, Mumbai (Near Mantralaya): Gandhiji is still here. Some cats have joined me, trying to rub their backs against my shoes and jeans. Will Google if it means something.
Update: 8:11 pm, 25th January 2022, Mumbai (Starbucks, Near Mantralaya): Need to charge the mobile. Having a cold coffee too. Gandhiji haven’t moved a bit when I left. Let’s see.
Update: 9:33 pm, 25th January 2022, Mumbai (Near Mantralaya): Came back and Gandhiji is still here. Haven’t moved a bit. I have brought 2*1 litre of water, I think it will be sufficient. A lady who leaves at the corner of footpath have warned me about thieves here. I know, I said and thanked me. The traffic have decreased substantially but still more than what I am used to in my hometown.
Update: 10:05 pm, 25th January 2022, Mumbai (Near Mantralaya): The statue of Gandhi here is taller than some trees around and shorter than some. For some birds, round head is perfect spot to sit and shit. Hence the you can observe bird poop marks near his head. I think, instead of statue, if it was real Gandhi, still he wouldn’t mind the birds on the head. Brain keeps on wondering, I don’t have any plan to control it too.
Update: 10:43 pm, 25th January 2022, Mumbai (Near Mantralaya): Just besides Gandhiji, there’s a statue of Jamsetji Tata. Lighting and overall maintenance is better there. But I am sure, Gandhi doesn’t care.
Update: 11:12 pm, 25th January 2022, Mumbai (Near Mantralaya): One of my favourite clip from any web series, I found that what the protagonist of series is talking about America there, similar are my thoughts about India. I saw it first around 3-4 of years ago and still watch it sometimes.
Update: 11:50 pm, 25th January 2022, Mumbai (Near Mantralaya): Traffic have lowered. The sound of JCB and other construction machines is stopped, temporarily, and started again as I am typing. I have doubts now, what am I going to say if at all we go live?
Update: 12:00 am, 26th January 2022, Mumbai (Near Mantralaya): Happy Republic Day. 73rd Republic Day, right? There is no change. Low but steady traffic continues. Gandhiji haven’t moved still. It’s 12 Hrs of fasting except for an espresso shot and a cold coffee.
Update: 12:30 am, 26th January 2022, Mumbai (Near Mantralaya): The corruption is not the problem to be solved. The Citizen Experience is. The files which should automatically move to next table are kept waiting with some expectations. We fight for why there is this expectation and real problem gets ignored. Question is how an officer or even minister seating on the pile of files without next appropriate action for months, even years? Solving this problem through acquaintance or greasing for individual files is what goes on but shouldn’t the system be free flowing by it’s intrinsic nature?
Update: 12:33 am, 26th January 2022, Mumbai (Near Mantralaya): Let’s start walking towards Hutatma Chauk (Fountain). Gandhi is universal. In addition, may be it’s time to take the advice of martyrs of Sanyukt Maharashtra Samiti.
Update: 01:00 am, 26th January 2022, Mumbai (Churchgate Station): So I am taking a rhythmic walk, lisning to ‘Shrivalli’ song from Pushpa. I stopped to take few clicks of Churchgate Station. It’s shining with TriColour lighting.
Update: 01:30 am, 26th January 2022, Mumbai (Hutatma Chauk – Fountain ): The fountain is under maintenance. The statue of Hutatma (Hutatma Smarak) is not moving. The flame is continuously burning with ‘Jay Maharashtra’ written in backdrop. Will the flame ignite enough willpower? It’s 13.5 Hours of Fast along with almost 5 km of walking. May be it’s time to rest now.
Update: 02:05 am, 26th January 2022, Mumbai (Hotel Flora Fountain): Have never taken bath at this time before. Feeling good. It’s 14 hours of fasting now. I guess this was easy part. Let’s see how it proceeds. Momentarily, had this thought that should I extend my fast to help other people like me, facing apathy from government and delay in routine work. But priorities are clear now, will not do that voluntarily. On one side the story of fast (this is practice for longer one that may be needed soon) continues, on other I need to tell the story of a file. Let’s do it slowly, after few days.
Update: 09:15 am, 26th January 2022, Mumbai (Hotel Flora Fountain): I just woke up a little while ago. It’s 21 hours of fast.
Update: 10:00 am, 26th January 2022, Mumbai (Hotel Flora Fountain): Google gave Republic Day doodle on search/home page.
It’s 22 hours of fast now. 24 seems possible. Let’s see how far can we go.
Update: 11:30 am, 26th January 2022, Mumbai (Hotel Flora Fountain): Astonishingly, I am not feeling hungry. It’s almost 24 hours of fasting. Tried to meditate but focus lasted for very short.
I am thinking, injustice takes away your peace. When you are subjected to injustice, and you stay silent because you want to be peaceful, the peace gets lost like forever. Instead confronting it and fighting is better. This will also take away peace but won’t disintegrate your persona and you can again go back to peace. But my quest is more, ‘How can I be peaceful even when I am confronting the injustice?’
Update: 3:52 pm, 26th January 2022, Mumbai (Near Mantralaya): Just came here again. Spent last few hours reading and walked here. Gandhiji is still here. Almost 28 hours of fasting now. I think I can go on. Actually, I should go on.
Update: 4:55 pm, 26th January 2022, Mumbai (Fountain): I think a walk of 3 km was bad idea. Energy needs to be conserved. It’s 29 Hours of Fasting. Yesterday, I had coffee. From 9:00 pm yesterday, it’s only water. I am feeling somewhat peaceful but I think it’s misleading. Low energy might be slowing my thoughts.
Update: 5:32 pm, 26th January 2022, Mumbai (Starbucks Kalaghoda): Having iced tea. Have to take decision on the fast whether to continue and for how long. An observation, on glimpse of food item, there is automated craving 😀. System 1 thinking I guess.
Update: 5:55 pm, 26th January 2022, Mumbai (Hotel Flora Fountain): Came back to hotel. This post is getting so long that hardly any one will read. Some people might reach till here if something happens and they want to know more. (Tell me in comment if you really cared to read till here. 😀)
Update: 8:35 pm, 26th January 2022, Mumbai (Fountain Inn Restaurant): So finally out to eat. Peace? Not so sure yet. But strength is needed tomorrow. Strength is needed for WAR.
Update: 12:02 am, 27th January 2022, Mumbai (Hotel Flora Fountain): Fasting is not as difficult as ending it.
Update: 10:35 am, 27th January 2022, Mumbai (Fountain): Gandhi came to visit. Just came out of room to see this. Today is special I guess.
Update: 10:59 am, 27th January 2022, Mumbai (Near Mantralay): Reached. Planning to seat here for long time.
For years, I have been thinking of founding a forum for improving Citizen Experience. That will make sure that no work stays pending and report cards of departments are created based on citizen inputs. I have some idea of how to do it. I had decided against the idea when I stopped politics and activism. May be this another episode of excitement and it will pass. I will keep waiting to see if Gandhi moves.
Update: 4:58 am, 28th January 2022, Mumbai (Airport): Just boarded the Nagpur flight. Enjoyed a great breakfast at Airport Lounge. A lot have happened yesterday. A long pending work is now done yet I am not sure if to forget all the trouble, struggle to move on or to remember and find fight so that no one else suffers the same. Peace is subjective. And it’s not constant.
Some days back, I saw a teacher using animation to teach how the human heart works. Now-a-days there are many new apps coming to the market, providing such animated/video content for visualization of various concepts. Majority of the teachers, students and parents are in awe of the ease of digital learning in the form of audio-visual content. But I sense few problems here and would like you to understand it so as to avoid its ill effects.
We must embrace digital technology for its many benefits such as all time availability, wider reach, compact storage etc. But if the approach is not right, students may miss some of the golden benefits of learning. I still remember how I learnt ‘working of the human heart’ during my school years. The experience is still very strongly imprinted in my memory. One of the ‘AHA’ moments of my learning I will never forget. I will use this example to make my case.
I had this habit of trying to read things and try to understand before they are taught in school. So I was reading the sentences and then was trying to understand it using the diagram given in the same book. Slowly, I was building the whole picture. I was using my imagination to visually recreate the working of the heart in mind. I was connecting the part read and understood with new information coming in with each statement. If, at times, I struggled to understand a few lines, I would go further with the awareness of what is missing. If I could understand the next portion, I would find the context to understand earlier lines. Taking effort to read and make sense of it, build context from other parts of text, use other available tools to construct meaning… I would use it all during my studies. At the end, when I could understand the concept and see the whole picture, it was the most beautiful feeling. Maybe an AHA moment as people call it. I am aware of the use of these strategies by me from the age of 13–14 at least. Gradually, I improved in use of these strategies further.
I forgot how the human heart works in the next few years, apart from a few things. As new information and learning’s come in, our memory discards some old unused, unrevised information to make space for new. Most of us forget. Then what is the purpose of learning it in the first place? For me, I forgot the facts. But I learned how to think, how to read, how to make sense of new information, how to build complete pictures from many small connected bytes of information from the same topic and it stayed with me forever. I am happy I didn’t see any animation or gulp in the versions understood by my teacher at first. Because, not everything you learn stays with you, but your learning of how to learn will stay with you. Slowly, when you narrow down on your field or subject, many of the things you learned will fall out of relevance. But never the training of how to think.
Autobiographer of Albert Einstein, Denis Brian, tried to put Einstein’s view on education in the following words, “Education is not the learning of facts, but the training of the mind to think.” I agree with Einstein with my experience. I now realize, when people defend the importance and benefits of education, I should ask what they mean by education. Mere learning of facts won’t make a good person or professional.
Education, when done right, has the potential to help us achieve much more. But isn’t it the time we revisit our beliefs about what education is and what should be our approach about it?
I should not forget to mention the role of motivation here. The AHA moments are addictive. If we know what is expected of us as learners, and we achieve it with our efforts, the sense of accomplishment activates the reward circuits in our brain. The associated interplay of chemicals and experiences in our brain imprints a memory of pleasure and we can get it. Result? We have motivation to repeat that experience. That’s the motivation to study.
In my experience, to understand the knowledge structure of any concept or subject, we should avoid trying to download someone else’s understanding as it is. The byte sized information, served gradually, allowing the learner to make sense out of it, to create meaning and build the knowledge structure by herself/himself is important.
“Do not feel lonely, the entire universe is inside you.”
Rumi. His every word, every thought touches something very deep inside me. Is it because it’s very real or is it because it’s surreal ? Is it because it’s very comforting or is it because it’s unsettling ? Is it because it’s very true or is it because it’s beyond the truth ?
Rumi is reminder that everyone of us is bigger than we are, yet a small part of what we can be.
Remember, you are everything you are and everything you can be. Be the universe !
‘Luck Surface Area’ is great concept modelled by Jason Roberts.
The formula is Luck Surface Area = D x T, where D is doing and T is telling. We can increase our chance of serendipity by doing and telling. We are increasing the probability of good thing falling in our yard by increasing its area. It makes sense actually.
Do great things and in great way. Network and tell people about you, your vision and work you do. By doing and telling, you are preparing yourself to make most out of the next opportunity coming your way. In Oprah Winfrey words, luck is preparation meeting moments of opportunity. So all the best to you for increasing surface are of your luck.
Birdwatching, a key highlight of 2021 for me. Learning and experience of it went on to help me personally as well as professionally.
By casual observation, I used to feel that there are some 15-20 bird species observable around my house (100-200 meters radius). I didn’t know names of those species or their characteristics. At the start of 2021, equipped with Canon EOS 1500D mounted with 55-200m lense and the Merlin App/Google Lense App and leveraging work from home, I started my Birding/Birdwatching journey.
This is what I observed and what I learned from it:
(1) Observation: Though being very casual, I captured (in camera) 47 species of birds by July 2021. I observed but could not capture Indian Paradise Flycatcher, Common Crow and couple more whose names are unknown to me.
Learning: Gut feel do not give you actual picture. In business and othe critical scenarios, we should not conclude based on gut feel but should analyse based on data.
(2) Observation: I used to capture photo, then use AI in above mentioned app to approximate species and identify by comparing features from trusted resources. Still, for some of the species I took a week for confirmation.
Learning: Technology have come a long way. We need to appreciate the super-capabilities we have today. I tried to imagine a time where Ornithologists had to rely on very big hard bound encyclopaedia and telescope only. (I can’t express the profoundnesses in words. Hope you will imagine and understand.)
(3) Observation: With time, I wanted to get better in names of the species, their characteristics, what are different features of bird called etc. Vocabulary (a bit of it) of the domain helped me interact with content and experts in systematic way. This helped me with the next bird I observed.
Learning: Every domain have its own vocabulary, rules and structure. Getting familiar with it helps us learn better and faster. Otherwise context and coordination takes more time of consumption of content than actually understanding it.(even in meetings 🙂 )
(4) Observation: As I started and continued Birdwatching, slowly my family members too started taking interest. They would ask me to to share my learnings. They would spot birds for me and bring to my attention. Even my 2 year old would spot birds while playing outside or while watching outside window and call me to click photos.
Learning: Our enthusiasm positively affects people around us and they try to participate. When peers actively participate, imparting learnings to each other becomes easy. Learning together is more effective than teaching and our unpretentious demeanour with inquisitive mind can help form community at work.
(5) Observation: Birdwatching became hobby and I started to take out some time for it deliberately. Even when there was a stressful phase and some lingering problems, I could find some time for birdwatching. I would forget the problem for some time and it had rejuvenating effect. That helped me to understand actual priority of problem by having high level view and solve problems efficiently with fresh creative thinking.
Learning: We get fixated on challenges and problems. But defocus and distraction are important to be able to focus with fresh perspective and tackle the problem from new angle. Problems (and even solutions) are a very very small part of our life. Life is beautiful and being aware of it makes us be good and do better at work too.
Many of the very difficult problems have simple solutions and they exist right under our nose. Defocusing the mind once in a while and giving time to ‘unimportant’ things helps.