What I listen to

The good thing about a long commute between home and work is that you have lots of free time which you can utilize to good use. One way I utilize that time is to listen to music and podcast. I love listening to these, here is a list of current favorites.

 

Gaana

Gaana is great if you love music and spend lots of time listening to it. It is cross-platform, so I can access it on the web and as an app on my phone. I use to use the free version which was great, but now I pay for the subscription which cost me 200 Rs for 6 months. It is a great deal for me as its cheap, there are no ads, also the feature to download music and listen offline is very useful, as there are many places like metro where the net is weak.

https://gaana.com/

 

This Week in Tech

I love Twit, I listen to many of their shows regularly. My favorite among them is This week in tech. The show is produced very well, Leo is a great host, and generally, they bring a lot of very good guest. The conversation is often insightful, interesting and fun. They also dig deep into topics I have interest in.

https://twit.tv/shows/this-week-in-tech

 

This Week in Google

This is the second show I regularly listen to on Twit. It is very similar to TwiT, only it is more focused on Google and has fixed guests. Jeff Jarvis and Stacey Higginbotham both are great and gives interesting perspective in the show.

https://twit.tv/shows/this-week-in-google

 

The Filmcast

Watching films is one of my favorite pastimes. I also like reading, listening to it. I found this podcast after listening to a few others, and I like this one more because of how the three guys talk about it. They talk about the latest movies and reviews them, the conversation is interesting and fun.

https://www.stitcher.com/podcast/the-filmcast

 

The Rewatchables

Similar to Filmcast podcast this one also has great hosts who talk in depth about a movie. Its USP is it selects movie based on how rewatchable it is. We all have our old favorite movies which we rewatch multiple times. This is great as basically, they are talking about those special movies. I discovered many good old movies which I have not to watch before.

https://www.stitcher.com/podcast/the-ringer/the-rewatchables

Seinfeld

I love viewing TV/Movies and have many favorites, which I keep rewatching and loving it. Though If you told me to pick one if I ever were to be stuck in an island, and had only one choice, I would take the seasons of Seinfeld. Even now whenever any episode shows on TV, I would watch and enjoy it. The jokes never get old for me, even when I know all of them, all the punchlines, it still makes me laugh. Recently with Amazon prime video subscription, I was able to go through all the seasons of Seinfeld and thoroughly enjoyed all of them.

Seinfeld is one of those rare gems of a show which is perfect in everywhere. It is insanely funny, and the jokes are even funny after so many years. The show’s tagline is “Show about nothing” but the great thing about Seinfeld is it talked about everything and joked about everything. The characters are all very memorable and brilliantly played.

Of course, this might be different for the younger generation. I watched a Youtube video of teenagers, who were shown clips of Seinfeld and was asked about their reactions. Many still found it funny but there were some who says that the jokes not politically correct. These days you have to be careful what you say which is a shame. There are too many judgments made on every single thing. In my opinion, comedy should have the freedom to do what it like, if you do not like a particular routine or a particular comic, you can just ignore it. There is no need to be angry and call for the ban.

I have some references in life, and Seinfeld is one of them, once in a while I would remember a particular quote of it, a particular scenario of how it played out and apply it. There are many quotable quotes, here are some samples I like.

“If you can’t say something bad about a relationship you shouldn’t say anything at all.”

“Jerry, just remember, it’s not a lie if you believe it.“

“When you look annoyed all the time, people think that you’re busy.”

“We’re Not Gay. Not That There’s Anything Wrong with That.”

“I want to be the one person who doesn’t die with dignity.”

“Festivus for the rest of us.”

Cooking

“the practice or skill of preparing food by combining, mixing, and heating ingredients.”

For my whole life I have been eating food without worrying/wondering much about the cooking part. I know the basics of what goes on there. I even have tried on rare occasions few dishes, with varied success. With few of my family members have made their livelihood doing just that so the knowledge and appreciation are there, but recently I have got a better understanding and appreciation for it.

All my life, I had the fortune of being around people who can cook, so good food was never an issue. Last month I had to go to Norway for work for 3 weeks. Since I do not know how to cook, I was prepared to eat outside mostly and occasionally cook Maggi and other ready-made variety food. Accepting the fact that it would probably not be an enjoyable experience or going to be an expensive one.

After reaching there I had the good fortune of meeting a group of friends from south India who stayed in the same hotel and who actually could prepare a decent meal! Since we all went for work, our schedule was mostly to spend the day in office, come back in the evening, rest a bit then cooking started, dinner, a little rest, then sleep and so on the next day. In this, the time we spent was during the cooking process took from 1 to 2 hours to cook, sometimes more. Since we all were in the same room, and the room itself was small, we all took part in the cooking process. Apart from cutting some vegetables, I did very little else other than watch with interest how the process was done.

For starter, I realized that even cooking seemingly simple dishes took quite a long time to do. The cook had to be constantly very attentive and patient as there are several periods involving doing lots of things, then a long period of wait. I am a science student and most things I do well, it is because I have a system and process to do it. Like making tea, I know how many people to drink so I calculate the cups of water/milk, teaspoons of sugar/tea. I am always amazed by how home cooking is many times not done by proper measurements but by natural instinct as to how much ingredients to add. My mum regularly says while cooking she puts things anadaj se(by guess), and similarly, the person who cooks here did the same. He used to put some ingredients, somehow he knew and the food tasted great.

I am not sure I ever will learn to cook much but it is an art I do appreciate more now after spending so many hours around it. I did also come around an article recently talking about if you can’t cook it is nothing to be proud of, and I agree everyone should make at least some effort to learn.

https://www.hindustantimes.com/brunch/can-t-cook-or-won-t-cook/story-n3fznopKBssGVD8A7gjViL.html

When did doctor stop caring

Last week I took my dad to see his regular diabetes doctor. He has been visiting the same doctor for a while now, and generally goes on his own. This time I thought it would be good if I talked to the doctor myself, as whenever I asked dad after a visit he says the doctor did not say anything just that everything is normal.

So I took off from work and reached the clinic at 4 PM. The doctor came at 5:30 PM that already frustrated me, but I would have given the doctor a pass on being late as it may be he was checking on other patients. My dad says this happens everytime he goes, so this doctor is a regular latecomer and just does not value his patients time.

Anyway, when we go inside his chamber he is talking on his phone, signals us to sit. The attitude already seems off to me. He checks the reports and just writes in the prescription to continue same medication and to visit him again in three months. I try to ask questions and he gives a very little answer, I almost have to more forceful with my questions for him to give a better answer. But that also was not why I got upset. What upset me was even before we left and my dad was having some parting words with him, he was already looking at his phone barely acknowledging us.

I have been noticing this kind of behaviour by few doctors. To me, doctors like teachers are only a few noble profession. You do it not only because you make money but also because you really care and you want to help people. Maybe I am being foolish here in thinking I should expect it to be better. I do know quite a few doctors who do show kindness, but its increasing rare which is a shame.

Time for vacation

The other day I was listening to the radio, and the discussion going on between the people were if they used up their leaves which they are entitled to by their respective companies. Two out of three said they did not take many leaves.

Every new month I get a mail from HR giving the status of leaves I have taken and what is pending. Last checked I have accumulated 136 outstanding leaves! What is more astounding is, it is not as if I can cash these pending leaves. One day when policy change it will just be reset. So I might have nothing to show for it.

I used to think that if I did not need it why to take leaves. I generally am healthy and on only few occasions I would take a long vacation. So over nine years, I have piled up this number. Which I now feel is a wastage, I should take more leaves even if it means sitting at home and watching the full Breaking Bad series in one go 🙂

Merci Arsene

I love sports, especially football. Arsenal is the only club I can say am a true fan of. It all started in the late 90s, in those days not like now when you have a lot of live sport on TV but World cup football was a still big deal, everyone would tune in and watch it. In one the matches, I remember one particular goal by Bergkamp goal  in the world cup that fascinated me. It was just sublime skill, from there on I became a fan of Bergkamp, of course, he went on to score many more beautiful goals. Since I was a fan and he came to Arsenal I started following Arsenal.

It was a great time to follow the gunners, they use to regularly win trophies or at least be challenging for the top prize. Then there was the unbelievable invincible team. Most of all I love Arsenal because of how they played. They played the beautiful game beautifully. The main reason was that they had a manager in Arsene Wenger, whose philosophy was simple. He believed that football has to be played in a certain way, and that way was beautiful passing attacking football. Under him, Arsenal became from being called ‘Boring, boring’ to one most of the most entertaining club. You just have to see some of the team goals they have scored to see that.

He was responsible for bringing numerous exciting footballers we got to see, Bergkamp, Pires, Henry, Fabregas, Ozil and so on. He had enormous faith in his brand of football. His belief in that philosophy was so strong that, the second decade of his career though there was plenty of criticism he never wavered. Many argue, including me that he was too set in his way. Arsenal needed a change and in his last few years, most people could see that we were not really challenging for the major trophies, worse we were probably degrading.

So the club even when it did not want to, had to let him go. I am happy it went this way, and unlike other clubs which fires managers so easily. Arsenal showed patience and did it the dignified way. There are many qualities I admire about him when you hear him speak there is always a dignity to it. He is a man of top quality, his conduct has always been top class.

He might not have won as many trophies as I would have liked. But I would not trade watching wonderful football for it. Thank you, Arsene for all the entertainment. Merci Arsene.

Mandarmani

One of my favorite short vacation destination is a place called Mandarmani. It is a seaside resort village. To travel to it, you can take a bus/car ride from Calcutta which will take you 4 hours.

I like it because the beach is nice and there are generally not many people. It is very different to the more famous Digha beach, there are just too many people around there. The hotels are all close to the beach itself, so you will get a great view and good breeze. The food served is very tasty if you like Bengali cuisine. One downside though is for what the hotel provides its a bit expensive.

There is nothing for sightseeing, it’s just beach, you can see some crabs but that’s it. If you just want to chill it’s an ideal place.

https://500px.com/hsushenon/galleries/mandarmani

Who do i read

 

Vir Sanghvi

He is probably the oldest writer I still follow now regularly. I started to read him when an article came in Hindustan Times on Sunday. He writes on varied topics mostly related to India. He is also a very good food critic.

 

Paul Thurrott

He was mentioned to me by my brother, from then on I have been following his posts. I have a keen interest in all thing Microsoft, and he writes very well about them. I also like the fact that he is very critical in his writings, you can’t call him a fanboy. If you read many tech writers, sometimes it feels like there is a bias.

 

Om Malik

One of my regular podcast watches is twit, he comes sometimes and I found his thoughts interesting.  His blog is mostly tech and related stuff, he writes very well, worth a read.Additionally, his photography skill is pretty good.

 

Bijan Sabet

One of Om’s post mentioned him, he is an amazing photographer. I love his work, especially the very interesting one he did on taking one photo per day for a whole year.

 

Seema Goswami

I started reading her short article in the Sunday magazine which came with Hindustan Times newspaper. Her sharp and witty take on different topics make her article very interesting to read.

Look up

Of late I have noticed that whenever I am traveling I spent a lot of time staring at my mobile. This is probably true for most people these days who have a smartphone. Whenever a moment arrives that you are not doing anything, your automatic tendency is to fetch your phone and start going through the messages, social sites, games etc. One of the things I enjoy to do is travel, even for short trip as I like to see new things. When you look out of the window of the vehicle even for the same journey there is always something new and interesting happening. So when I started to stick to my phone longer and longer, it was a cause of some alarm.

The other day when a lift arrived at the ground floor we saw a guy still busy with his phone and did not step out till someone told him to. Obviously later the people around started complaining how the newer generation are completely addicted to their phone these days. We all have noticed that even in a social gathering where people are expected to interact, you will see some just look down and play with their phone.

I agree more and more it seems like this has become an addiction for a lot of people. They just can’t live without their phone even for a short period. There is a term coined for this FOMO (Fear of missing out) “a pervasive apprehension that others might be having rewarding experiences from which one is absent”

I now have put a rule on myself, where I make sure I do not spend too much time on the phone. I call it 50%, so basically if I am on a bus and if it takes 40 minutes to arrive at the destination, I will try and not spend more than 20 minutes on the phone.

My problem with Aadhaar

“Aadhaar is the world’s largest biometric ID system, with over 1.19 billion enrolled members as of 30 Nov 2017, representing over 99% of Indians aged 18 and above. World Bank Chief Economist Paul Romer described Aadhaar as ‘the most sophisticated ID programme in the world’”

Let me start by saying I totally like the idea of Aadhaar. The idea that almost everyone in India would have an ID that would work as proof of identity in the most scenario and it would be impossible to fake. For a country like India with its complexity and population, to get this done properly has huge benefits. Not only for the individual but also for the government and corporations. The whole identification process would become seamless.

My concern is right now it has become more than what it was plan for. Aadhaar is not just an ID card now, it is becoming a monster with all data linked to it. The government has done a fabulous job in getting most Indian to make one. Now it is forcing everyone to link it to all his other data like bank account/phone/tax etc. In itself if you think about it, it is fine if government wants to have everything under one umbrella, the concern is data breach. Once Aadhaar becomes all powerful then if there is a data breach that would be a huge disaster.

Recently I read an article where Bill Gates talks about Aadhaar a bit, very interesting what he says. Here are some quotes “Aadhaar is just a 12-digit lie detector. You may claim to be someone and Aadhaar can tell if you’re speaking the truth or lying. Yes, there are many applications linked to Aadhaar and there are records related to them. Privacy issues can come up with the applications that get built on top of Aadhaar. But none of the records reside on the Aadhaar system itself. The irony is that I often tell Nandan (Nilekani) that if I had built Aadhaar, I would have created it with many more inbuilt capabilities, but Nandan was very careful about not intruding on privacy.”

So the chief architect of Aadhaar Nandan Nilekani, who I respect because of what he has done with Infosys, had the idea from the very beginning of what it should be, at the core a lie detector. Problem is he is no longer in charge, the people now may be modifying the code as we speak and including all sorts of data in it. Another big issue is transparency, information flow has always been a big problem in India, many people say many different things and common people just do not understand fully. Most of the time they just do as told. So there is less clarity on the scope of Aadhaar and many doubts.

There are currently multiple cases being fought in the courts right now regarding this. Fundamental to them is the right to privacy, people are arguing that the government cannot force them to link their other data to it. They fear that their data are going to be misused. We will see what the court says, but people’s opinion is split now about Aadhaar. Many people legitimately fear(including me) and there are equally many sound people who argue that these are fears are baseless.

There have already been few data breaches mainly due to mischievous people who had access to the data and who leak them. The fear is there will be lot more and at larger scale, these are not good signs especially when the people in charge refuse to acknowledge that there are some problems.

I had a personal issue with it which raises my doubt. My dad had linked the gas subsidy to his bank in Canara bank long time back, he was getting the subsidy in that bank every time no issue. Then we open an ICICI account for him and connected the Aadhaar to it also(as is needed). The subsidy money started going to ICICI instead of Canara! This happened without our permission! and if I had not checked I would never have known as there was no notification. This kind of things creates doubt about how the system was developed and how its getting implemented now.

In my opinion, Aadhaar is a great concept but currently, it feels like something is broken with it. It is too important to not be near perfect. The government has to get this right. I hope they take security issue seriously and fix the loopholes.