Tuesday, June 28, 2011

#Trust30 | Day 28 - Overcoming uncertainty

Nothing can bring you peace but yourself. Nothing can bring you peace but the triumph of principles.- Ralph Waldo Emerson

*This photo was from the first time I went skiing last Winter. I was tired, scared and wimpy. All because I didn't trust myself. I set my heart to believe I will crash into a tree or a fence and I will hurt myself bad. That was enough to stop me from even "giving it a chance". I think the first step to defeat is accepting defeat even before facing it. That day I was ashamed of myself - for setting myself up for failure.

Write down a major life goal(s) you have yet to achieve or even begin to take action on. 
I have several major goals, but let's just pick two from top of the pile:
- Build a world class mobile app
- Write a book

For each goal, write down three uncertainties (read: fears) you have relating to each goal. 
What are my resistances to building a mobile app?
1) I know nothing about programming mobile apps
2) Where do I get started? Should I worry about "having it all" before I start?
3) How will users react to this? Will this be a hit or a miss?

What are my resistances to writing a book?
1) I know nothing about writing/publishing a book
2) Am I a good enough writer?
3) What should I write about? I think my ideas are too random and not sorted for a book

Break it down further, and write down three reasons for each uncertainty. 
I suffer from the "I know nothing" syndrome. This is strangely only in selected areas. For example, if I am cooking a regular dish (I love to cook) and I experiment with the ingredients, I don't fear about the uncertainty. I guess I think to myself "What's the worse that could happen? The dish turns bad? I can always order a pizza then!". It is funny how that does not apply to my goals though. 

So how do we solve this "I know nothing" syndrome. Like a true engineer, break it down into manageable pieces. Solve each piece and put together (why do I feel like I am talking about Merge Sort algorithm, haha) the final product. Sounds daunting if we think about the final solution, but is not, if you focus on each little piece. So let's take my fears for "writing a book goal" and break it apart.

1) I know nothing about writing/publishing a book
Start writing few words a day. That can't be tough, can it? I feel like all my thoughts float into ether and I do not capture them at the time when it strikes me. Make a point of jotting down ideas-on-the-go. Use Evernote. Hmm. And then turn that into a tiny story for the day. I still don't have to worry about later. Just write. And do not fear the BIG goal.

2) Am I a good enough writer?
Let's just assume I am. Things go smooth if you trust yourself. Each time this fear stares at you, think of the time you got that one compliment from your well-wisher or reader. That should keep me going. Hmm.

3) What should I write about? I think my ideas are too random and not sorted for a book

Take inspiration from your surroundings. New York City is a great place to be. Specially if you are a writer who soaks up stuff happening around you. I should find myself lucky to be here. I have to start making notes of stuff around me. And again, just write.

When you have three reasons for your fear, you’ll be able to start processing the change because you know where the fear stems from. Now you’ll be able to make a smaller changes that push you towards your larger goal. So begins the process of “trusting yourself.”

This post is part of the #Trust30 Project. #Trust30 is an online initiative and 30-day writing challenge from TheDominoProject that encourages you to look within and trust yourself. Learn more at RalphWaldoEmerson.me

Saturday, June 25, 2011


Week-a-boo is my attempt to curate some of the quirky links I bump into during the week. Have a great weekend!=)

Humid humid NYC weather. Skipped a track event. Dragged myself to grocery store.
And now propped on the bed overlooking the clear skies over Hudson, is my dear old PC (Next week my Macbook Pro arrives, hurray!)

So anyways, what are you guys doing this weekend? Here are some of the quirky links I looked up this week. Good to snug up and read on, preferably with a hot chai=)

Watch this intense video footage of a woman about to jump off her apartment building

If you love museums like me, go straight to Google Art Project. Now. And the recommended TED talk from the Googler behind this project.

Insightful interview with an introverted engineer who went on to lead Mozilla

America's first package-free zero waste grocery store in Austin, Texas

This is how you can fix your bad habits

Byliner curates some of the best magazine articles all at one place. How cool is that?

Tips on how to train your focus

Why @shitmydadsays thinks Father's Day is BS

And finally...Tina Fey reads out BossyPants in her own voice. As for me, I have a large print edition of the book that I am reading. It has been quite a hilarious memoir so far.

Thursday, June 23, 2011

Role Models and all that;)

This is my entry for Indie Ink Writing Challenge - Week 7

No, I am not talking about Role Models, the movie dammit! Although, I really did like the movie.;)
But we are here to talk about more "serious" stuff. You know things like who inspired you, what in them inspired you and what became of you as a result..such and such. Hopefully I won't bore you. But as always I have little nuggets of events revolving around that, so it shouldn't put to sleep:)

Now, I can't pin down on one role model. I think I am just as wavering in real life. I liked a whole bunch of people as I grew up, haha.

The first one I remember was at, you guessed it, school! I did really really bad at Math and Hindi (India's official language) as subjects so I avoided them like the plague. I understood, appreciated and built my entire primary school life around English and Literature. Ya, I know. Genius kid I was. But all that was for one reason. To impress my beautiful looking personable and charming English teacher at school. Sophie was her name. OMG, I would do anything to impress her. I somehow felt if I grew up I should be like her. I would secretly read and re-read and re-re-read all the chapters from my English textbook weeks ahead so I could impress her. She was impressed with me too. I was quite the charmer, eh? I took pride in my highest marks on English, only the Math and Hindi screwed me over and over. My report card would read
English - 99/100
Math - 34/100
Hindi - 16/100

And I would sob over...you guessed it right...that 1 mark I missed before I hit 100. *Sob*

My dad never understood my obsession with English. I never told him till date it was because of Sophie. LOL. He always thought he seemed to have inspired that in me. BS.

Anyway, so a day came when the whole world around me shattered. Apparently, Sophie HATED my handwriting. That day she had given up on me. She called me straight to her desk and almost said that she couldn't take it anymore. That's not what she said, but I could read her eyes. She apparently had a tough time reading through all my wonderfully scripted answers on the exam answer sheet. She knew I was solid on the English but my handwriting gave her sleepless nights. I was too young to remember her exact words but that day I broke into pieces. But...I thought I was THE BEST at English! And all she told me was I would go nowhere if I did not make an effort to learn how to write legibly.

I was in tears. I sobbed whole night. I refused to eat and locked myself in my room. My dad was a little worried. By nature I was a rather fierce kid. Rebelling and fighting and devil-may-care attitude was more my style. Not the weepy, lonely, loser kid. And I spoke very little (that was a biggie, because I was quite a talkative kid too). Anyway, I silently saved up money to buy those handwriting practice books (you know with whole lot of rules so you could get those perfectly shaped ABCD's). I was too proud a kid to ask for extra money for this. I quit buying silly truck toys (I loved trucks and airplanes as a kid and hated barbies. LOL). I shut myself up everyday for hours getting the perfect cursive handwriting. I would stick my forefinger between each word, because Sophie told me I NEVER put spaces between words and that's why it sucked. (I remember this part because my fingers ached and my head ached out of boredom repeating this drudgery of sticking my finger between every word till I didn't require to do that)

Anyhow, it was months before I emerged victorious. The day I got 100 was when Sophie said I had the best handwriting and she gave me +2 for best handwriting (Thinking of that now, how silly it seems 102/100, haha)
Woot woot!

Oh shoot, wasn't this about role models or something. I guess I just got carried away.

I really keep jumping from one role model to another all my life. But seriously, as narcissist as it sounds, I would give anything to be THAT rebel of a kid I was. Maybe that is what I miss today. I think I would want to make my "kid self" as my role model today.


This post was a result of Chamindra aka Disease challenging me to this prompt:
"Tell Us About your Role Model and the Reasons Behind Your Choice"

So hoping I did a good job, I will go right ahead and eat a tiny portion of half-baked frozen yogurt I got today, temptations not withstanding;) Oh, before that, I happened to challenge Joelyn with this prompt:
"Imagine you get locked down in a library for a night, what would you do?"

Read about her adventure here

Thursday, June 16, 2011

Of Cherry Blossoms and Macarons!

This is my entry for Indie Ink Writing Challenge - Week 6

Something about the macarons screamed sandwich to me the day I was first introduced to them.
When I first saw those tiny creations of art, I blurted out "That's like Klondke but with pretty colors!"
My friend's face hung in shame. She swore I knew nothing about macarons and I should shut up. Of course, I didn't know anything abt them! That is the first time I saw. I was fascinated by the colors - pink, light green, brown, lavendar - than it's taste. And then another faux pas.

"But I though they are supposed to have browned coconut flakes over them, no?", obviously confusing a macaron for a macaroon. My friend decided she had enough of my macaron blasphemy (she is a big big macaron fan). Of course, I have to tell you they are one of the smoothest silkiest creations that melt in your mouth. I have since dreamed of cooking them, but have been discouraged. It is supposed to be hard I am told. Close to impossible. But after looking at this recipe and pictures I will say "It is worth the effort". I am macaron inspired right now. Haha.

What made the pictures even more appealing were the cherry blossoms...
Cherry Blossoms are another of those things I got introduced to after I moved to US.
I recently had been to a Cherry Blossom Festival at the Brooklyn Botanical Gardens. The Cherry Esplanade was nothing short of epic.

Plus all the cherry blossomy smell in the cool air was such a bliss. So seeing Cherry Blossoms associated with Macarons was almost like adrenaline rush (no kidding!) when I bumped into this recipe page. I have always struggled making meringue so I understand when people tell it is tough to make these babies.

Meanwhile my cherry blossom inspired smile =)

This week's challenge came from Karla V and the prompt was:
Canelle et Vanille (http://cannelle-vanille.blogspot.com/) is one of my favorite food blogs. Since you seem to share my love of good food, pick a recipe from that site and craft your own narrative surrounding the pictures and the food. Don't forget to provide a link to that recipe in your post.

Thanks Karla for customizing a prompt based on my interest for cooking!:) That definitely didn't feel like a narrative but I was short on time (and all those excuses;). I promise to enhance this post pretty soon.

I challenged Lilu to :
Sometimes we are not aware of our surroundings as much as we should be. We use the phone, listen to music, read a book and so on...but fail to notice some really simple pleasures around us. Write about the different things you noticed today. Yes, there has to be something different you will see otherwise you are not looking enough;)
See Lilu's response here which I haven't read yet! Reading right now...

Monday, June 13, 2011

Saturday, June 11, 2011

#Trust30 | Day 11 - Fear

If there is one thing that can give us freedom from fear, what do you think that one thing is?

I pondered on that question for a quite a long while now. In subways. In offices. In restrooms. In supermarkets. In bookstores. In restaurants. In musuems. In parks. In my bedroom. Nothing struck me. Then it occurred to me today, out of the blue. And this is the thing:

By learning to love and own your imperfections, you will have no fear

So here is the deal. Will jumping off a cliff (its called bungee jumping in the modern ages;)), skydiving or adventure sports of any kind give you this freedom. Maybe a bit. You will now have done something that you "thought" you could never do. But the ultimate escape from fear is learning to love yourself. As cliched as it sounds, it is the THE most important change that we can make in life. Yet in even acknowledging your imperfections there is fear! Funny how that works no?
So why are we doing this to ourselves? Hurting ourselves and worrying sick with lumps in our throats and knots in our stomach over things that don't really matter? I am not saying i you fear snakes, go dive into a snake pit without thought. All I am saying is this fear, this resistance is stopping you from being awesome.

Take this for example. I am in a room with a large audience with reputable people and world renowned author at the podium on the stage. Once she finished speaking, she opens the floor for questions. I have a question to ask. What is the first thing that comes to my mind?

- Did I phrase my question appropriately?
- Would she be offended by what I ask?
- Will I be able to ask her in a presentable voice and demeanor?
- What will other people in the audience think of me? *Cringe*

And the moment has passed. Someone else has asked a question and we are out of time.
OK, maybe my example is not that great. But you get the point. Overthinking led to resistance which led to fear. Now i will never be able to ask that question to her face-to-face. So was shutting down and going blank worth it? NO! Yet, we do this every single day for the simplest of things.

Now, sit down and write answers to these questions:

Is the insecurity you’re defending worth the dream you’ll never realize? or the love you’ll never venture? or the joy you’ll never feel?
No, not even close to worth. In fact this will turn into deep regret that I haven't even given it a shot for the fear of failing badly in it. Learning from failures and mistakes is what makes humans invincible.
Will the blunder matter in 10 years? Or 10 weeks? Or 10 days? Or 10 minutes?
Maybe 10 mins. Human memory is short. We forget our blunders as soon as the next one happens.
Can you be happy being anything less than who you really are?
I can never be happy doing something that is not me, not what I stand for. Funny how humans are motivated - it is not money but our passions that drive happiness in us.
This post is part of the #Trust30 Project. #Trust30 is an online initiative and 30-day writing challenge from TheDominoProject that encourages you to look within and trust yourself. Learn more at RalphWaldoEmerson.me

These are the voices which we hear in solitude, but they grow faint and inaudible as we enter into the world. Society everywhere is in conspiracy against the manhood of every one of its members – Ralph Waldo Emerson. 

Is fear holding you back from living your fullest life and being truly self expressed? Put yourself in the shoes of the you who’s already lived your dream and write out the answers to the following:

Is the insecurity you’re defending worth the dream you’ll never realize? or the love you’ll never venture? or the joy you’ll never feel?

Will the blunder matter in 10 years? Or 10 weeks? Or 10 days? Or 10 minutes?

Can you be happy being anything less than who you really are?
Now Do. The Thing. You Fear.
(Author: Lachlan Cotter)

Why work doesn't happen at work?

How many hours of uninterrupted work time do you get at office?
Why is it that getting even 1 hour of uninterrupted time at office such a rare sight?
So why cant we all just work from home or coffee shops or libraries or basements instead?
Does banning Facebook, Twitter etc. at work help your productivity? (Umm hello, we have all got smartphones now. Remember?)

The real problems are Managers and Meetings (M&M's)
In fact, the one day I work from home, I am free of distractions! Meetings are toxic. You will almost always only require a 5 min phone call to get something done - not a meeting. So a 1 hour meeting with 10 people actually wastes 10 hours of time.

Watch Jason Fried (I love this dude!) from 37Signals speak about the issues of working in brick and mortar places we call "office space", how it actually hurts our productivity because of M&M's and how can we remedy this.

PS: Extra points if you read his book Rework - a quick and dirty manifesto for entrepreneurs

Thursday, June 09, 2011

The Four-Story Jigsaw Puzzle

This is my entry for Indie Ink Writing Challenge - Week 5

As a kid I was really a riot. Right now, I am one millionth of a rebel I used to be. Sigh.

I loved playing in mud and making mud structures, mud buildings (castles?), mud pies, mud toys(!!), mud bears (sort of like gummy bears), mud trucks (I had a thing for automobiles then), mud bricks (seriously?), mud cones, mud version of Jack Frost. Mud everything. In short, I was obsessed with mud. My mom worried so much about this mud of an obsession. Haha. I played in the mud till all sorts of gross boils started springing up all over my hands. Till date I have a small, tiny circle-ish  patch near the knuckles of my left hand. As a sign of my epic muddy days.

I think those wounds got my mom sick with worry. My dad wasn't really bothered. He always said so long as I did not beat up some kid and get into trouble I was ok. He said, "You can beat. But if you get into trouble, don't expect me to come to any of those dreadfully boring Parent Teacher things with ugly teachers." Till date, he's never been to one so I am not sure how he assumed that 1) They were boring and 2) They had ugly teachers in my school.

I remember vividly when I built this absurd structure in mud, with great finesse. I prided in the right proportions of water I used, the best tools I used to give it a shape (apparently my lunch box and spoons to scoop up mud) and that I did it after class while all other "stupid" kids (how obnoxious could I get? haha) would play "chor police" in the ground. I don't remember what exactly happened then. I have no dramatic story attached to it - except that oddly I remember my dad had come to school to pick me up after that and the first thing he asked me was "Where the heck is the Diary Milk I gave you this morning?". I remember this maybe because in my mud obsessive life, a chocolate or candy had no place. I apparently forgot the chocolate in the deep realms of my backpack, melted by the scorching sun. My dad's reaction was a bit ballistic to my taste. He swore he was never buying me a Dairy Milk again. Through the entire ride home on his moped he kept swearing and swearing while I took delight in how many new swear words I was learning at the time. Once we reached home, he shoved it in the freezer and told me "Now you eat it like you would have ate it normally. Not now. Once that thing gets solid. Don't you ever leave a chocolate lying around like that". I think he had something nagging him about the Diary Milk. But I never asked. And he never got me a chocolate again. I didn't particularly care, since I never really loved chocolates/candies.

Ah, well, so much for the mud story.

My challenge came from WideLawns this week and the prompt was:

"Find the title of a news article from anywhere, any time. Use that as the title (metaphorically) of a personal essay about an event or events in your own life. Link back to the original article with the same title for fun."

Sorry, this post was very last minute and just about 15 mins ago I was reading this news article on New York Times and instantly remembered a part of my childhood :-) There is no jigsaw puzzle piece to my story, I think the "four-story" triggered my only childhood memory of building something. 

The Internet is my religion

Gotta watch this video. It will be the best 10 minutes of your life today (unless of course you are chilling somewhere in the Carribean with a billion dollars in your overseas account. Even then!)

So this dude fought cancer twice, juggled a couple of startups and went on to become a media activist. He speaks about how Internet became his GOD. No, really! Awesome. Inspiring. Stuff. Read Jim Gilliam's blog Make The Future

Quoting him from the video:
"God is what happens when humanity gets connected. Humanity connected is God"

And now the video...

Tuesday, June 07, 2011

#Trust30 | Day 8 - Five Years

Hey there Manju, five years ago!

You were pretty solid at your work but kept getting restless. You thought, heck I should do Masters. It will be a good deal to add to your resume. Maybe meet some awesome people on the way. So you went through trouble to apply and make decisions. Decisions you thought you would never regret - but you did. And life went on. You were in your early twenties then. Still figuring out stuff for yourself. Naive but bold and excited about days to come. And slowly you got sucked into a spiral of boredom, routine and all those man-made reasons that make you lazy, tame and unwilling to try something new. You took things for granted. You took respite in the status quo. You thought to yourself, "I am just about average. There is nothing much I can do"

Hey there Manju, five years from now (into the future)

You are shaking up things now. You look at yourself and raise your brow like Barney Stinson and say "I am awesome and legend-wait-for-it-ary". You take every opportunity that comes your way and turn it into gold. You think, "What the heck. Lets do it". You are now the CEO of your own world. You have trekked to the Himalayas, written a book, started a food establishment, married your prince charming, built the fastest, ultra low latency, highly scalable and revolutionary data crunching platform in the world. Hahaha. In short you are knocking the socks out of life. Congrats, you got from suck to non-suck.

This post is part of the #Trust30 Project. #Trust30 is an online initiative and 30-day writing challenge from TheDominoProject that encourages you to look within and trust yourself. Learn more at RalphWaldoEmerson.me

Today's prompt:

There will be an agreement in whatever variety of actions, so they be each honest and natural in their hour. – Ralph Waldo Emerson
What would you say to the person you were five years ago? What will you say to the person you’ll be in five years?

(Author: Corbett Barr)

Sunday, June 05, 2011

#Trust30 | Day 6 - Come Alive

This post is part of the #Trust30 Project. #Trust30 is an online initiative and 30-day writing challenge from TheDominoProject that encourages you to look within and trust yourself. Learn more at RalphWaldoEmerson.me

Pic courtesy: Sid at The Imaginarium

To-do list is OUT. To-stop list is IN
So here it goes, my To-stop list:

- Fretting over my imperfections
Yes. It is funny how it works. The moment you stop hating your imperfections and comparing yourself with others you take off in a big way

- Ignoring my strengths and picking on my weaknesses
You know how people tell you your weaknesses are in fact opportunities for growth. Your BS alarm should ring at this point. That fluff is solely intended for your annual performance review at work. Not in real life. So kick that off and move ahead. You are here because of your strengths and the world needs you for them.

- Not doing something because people will tell me so
People always have something to say. If they think what you are doing right now is crazy, then you know you are heading in the right direction. Go for it.

- I will wait for the right time
Yes, you can wait for the right time. But you just lost the "time" in the "right time". There is never a better time to do something than NOW.

- But I don't know anything
So how did you learn to eat, walk, talk and dream? By doing. Doing is knowing. Just do it.

Today's prompt:
Life wastes itself while we are preparing to live. – Ralph Waldo Emerson
If you had one week left to live, would you still be doing what you’re doing now? In what areas of your life are you preparing to live? Take them off your To Do list and add them to a To Stop list. Resolve to only do what makes you come alive.
Bonus: How can your goals improve the present and not keep you in a perpetual “always something better” spiral?
(Author: Jonathan Mead)

L.I.F.E Poster

Came across this on holstee.com
Don't you just love it? :-)

Saturday, June 04, 2011

#Trust30 | Day 5 - Travel

This post is part of the #Trust30 Project. #Trust30 is an online initiative and 30-day writing challenge from TheDominoProject that encourages you to look within and trust yourself. Learn more at RalphWaldoEmerson.me

Everest base camp - that is where I want to go and check it off my list before I die. Majestic, breathtaking and an experience to die for. I already follow blogs of people who have made it there. Plus A knows a guy who trekked to this place. I want to take the arduous route to the base camp.This is what I want to do. This is where I will be in 2012. 

Today's prompt:

If we live truly, we shall see truly. - Ralph Waldo Emerson
Not everyone wants to travel the world, but most people can identify at least one place in the world they’d like to visit before they die. Where is that place for you, and what will you do to make sure you get there?
(Author: Chris Guillebeau)

Friday, June 03, 2011

#Trust30 | Day 4: Post-it Question

This post is part of the #Trust30 Project. #Trust30 is an online initiative and 30-day writing challenge from TheDominoProject that encourages you to look within and trust yourself. Learn more at RalphWaldoEmerson.me

Today's prompt:

That which each can do best, none but his Maker can teach him. Where is the master who could have taught Shakespeare? Where is the master who could have instructed Franklin, or Washington, or Bacon, or Newton? . . . Shakespeare will never be made by the study of Shakespeare. Do that which is assigned you, and you cannot hope too much or dare too much. – Ralph Waldo Emerson
Identify one of your biggest challenges at the moment (ie I don’t feel passionate about my work) and turn it into a question (ie How can I do work I’m passionate about?) Write it on a post-it and put it up on your bathroom mirror or the back of your front door. After 48-hours, journal what answers came up for you and be sure to evaluate them.
Bonus: tweet or blog a photo of your post-it.
(Author: Jenny Blake)

Thursday, June 02, 2011

#Trust30 | Day 3 - One strong belief

This post is part of the #Trust30 Project. #Trust30 is an online initiative and 30-day writing challenge from TheDominoProject that encourages you to look within and trust yourself. Learn more at RalphWaldoEmerson.me

Come up to meet you, tell you I'm sorry
You don't know how lovely you are
I had to find you
Tell you I need you
Tell you I set you apart

Those lyrics from 'The Scientist' by Coldplay reminds me the strong belief I have in love.
If somebody told me a decade back about love, I would have brushed it aside as 'cheesy'
But now I believe it has become a way of life. I believe it will be the same for you once you find that love and grab it and hold on to it.
That could be anything. Your soulmate. Your art. Your work. Your friend. Your kid. Your mom...
I believe that this strong belief has opened up new doors in life. Since finding that one person who has changed it all, I think I have become more passionate now. I feel more inspired everyday I talk and share my happiness and sadness with him. I believe in myself more. It has only made me better. I believe I can shine by being me. Because he makes me believe I am awesome.

Who says you can't have it all when having that one person means that you have it all :-)


Today's prompt:

It is easy in the world to live after the world’s opinion; it is easy in solitude to live after our own; but the great man is he who in the midst of the crowd keeps with perfect sweetness the independence of solitude. - Ralph Waldo Emerson, Self-Reliance
The world is powered by passionate people, powerful ideas, and fearless action. What’s one strong belief you possess that isn’t shared by your closest friends or family? What inspires this belief, and what have you done to actively live it?
(Author: Buster Benson)

Wednesday, June 01, 2011

#Trust30 | Day 2 - Today

This post is part of the #Trust30 Project. #Trust30 is an online initiative and 30-day writing challenge from TheDominoProject that encourages you to look within and trust yourself. Learn more at RalphWaldoEmerson.me


Got rid of an 18 month old frustration, that was totally under my control all the time, but I hated to acknowledge the problem and do something about it, until today.

Today's prompt:

Your genuine action will explain itself, and will explain your other genuine actions. Your conformity explains nothing. The force of character is cumulative. – Ralph Waldo Emerson, Self-Reliance
If ‘the voyage of the best ship is a zigzag line of a hundred tacks,’ then it is more genuine to be present today than to recount yesterdays. How would you describe today using only one sentence? Tell today’s sentence to one other person. Repeat each day.
(Author: Liz Danzico)