Friday, 20 January 2017

Why you should Judge a Book by its Cover

By my estimation I have reached the half way point of my life. I have been betrayed by people who have been my friends for years. I have seen people change so much that they can barely be said to be the same person (save and except that their physical characteristics remain the same.)
It takes years to really know someone, and even then you will most likely not truly understand them. I am being reminded of a dialogue in Ayn Rand’s “The Fountainhead”. I’m paraphrasing the same here -
“What’s the matter with you? Why such talk—over nothing at all? People’s faces and first impressions don’t mean a thing.”
Ayn Rand Fountainhead Judge Book by Cover“That, my dear, is one of our greatest common fallacies. There’s nothing as significant as a human face. Nor as eloquent. We can never really know another person, except by our first glance at him. Because, in that glance, we know everything. Even though we’re not always wise enough to unravel the knowledge. Have you ever thought about the style of a soul? … I think, that every human soul has a style of its own. Its one basic theme. You’ll see it reflected in every thought, every act, every wish of that person. The one absolute, the one imperative thing in that living creature. Years of studying a man won’t show it to you. His face will. You’d have to write volumes to describe a person. Think of his face. You need nothing else.”
“That sounds fantastic. And unfair, if true. It would leave people naked before you.”
“It’s worse than that. It also leaves you naked before them.”
The truth is, we do judge people by first impressions. To my female readers, I think you will agree that you avoid men who look, for lack of a better word – “rapist-like”.  On the other hand, we sometimes decide to give people, who look pleasant, the benefit of the doubt.
In the end, your first instinct is usually right and you tend to focus on those few rare instances where you by chance were wrong and conclude that’s it is wrong to judge too quickly. I agree it’s not ideal but it is a great time saving and labour-saving device, and only mildly less accurate.
So go out there, and trust your instinct, and pay attention to first impressions. You may find that your first instinct is usually right, and all the steps you painstakingly take to confirm your suspicions has been a waste of your time.


Tuesday, 10 January 2017

Accepting Mediocrity

Since we were in school, we were told to follow our dreams. But this comes with unexpressed caveats. Your dream can be a doctor or astronaut, but not to be a sweeper or waiter. Here lies the grand flaw.
Its true that society’s progress depends on everyone aspiring higher, but lets keep in mind Edgar Allen Poe’s words - “I have no faith in human perfectibility. I think that human exertion will have no appreciable effect upon humanity. Man is now only more active - not more happy - nor more wise, than he was 6000 years ago.”
A dialogue from the movie Lakshya can also be referred to here:
Romi's Dad – “Tum jo bhi karo achha karo. Agar scientist bano toh achhe scientist bano. Agar ghaas kaatne wale bano toh achha ghaas kaatne wale bano. Warna kya faayda?”
(Translation: Whatever you do, you must do it well. If you become a scientist, become a good scientist. If you become a grass-cutter, become a good grass-cutter. Otherwise what's the point?)
I would go one step further. It is not important that you even be the best at what you do. It is not even necessary that you do something. If you are happy dreaming your life away, then do it. After all, Y.O.L.O. and you should live the way you want to without being influenced by others.
Happiness is a choice. As long as you have your health, you can get happiness too.
I must differ from Friedrich Nietzsche as I believe that the happiness which is the fruit of labour is merely a different kind of happiness, but not necessarily, sweeter. We must stop pressurizing little children and make them all believe that they all will be President some day. On the contrary we must teach them that success is good, but not always necessary to attain happiness.


Wednesday, 4 January 2017

How Tradesmen Ruined the Sangam in Name of "Religion"

Triveni Sangam Allahabad
Triveni Sangam, Allahabad
I went to Allahabad for work recently, where I decided to go see Triveni Sangam, where three rivers meet -  Ganga, Yamuna — and the invisible Saraswati River.
First of all, the boatmen charge a bomb to go there. Make sure you bargain and not pay over Rs. 450/- if you are alone (Initially, they quoted Rs. 1250/-!). The boat ride itself is pleasant, but the duration is exaggerated. It takes only about 20 to 25 minutes one way and they tell you it takes one hour.
When you reach Triveni Sangam, you are made to sit before an eternally smiling Pandit, who will have you believe he works for God, when he only works for the ‘Gandhis’ in your pocket. He’ll perform the puja and make you also pay for coconut used in the puja. Although, he says that ayment is optional and we can give whatever amount we choose, that is absolutely a lie. If you give a 50 rupee note, he will say ‘50 mein kya hota hai!?’and he will force you to pay at least 200! Please refrain from sitting with these pretend pundits.
The actual difference in the water colour is something which isn’t that evident. Perhaps it can only be seen in certain light at certain time. The Saraswati river is supposed to be invisible and it is believed to be flowing under these two rivers.

The only thing you will see for certain are people getting naked and bathing in the water to wash their sins, without even repenting them and tradesmen and “god-men” trying to exploit them... If you are religious, do go to the Sangam, but try to ignore all the things people trying to corrupt your religion. I think the State Government should regulate the fare charges and also the sums charged by the so-called “Pandits”. If this is done, the seren location will no doubt, become far more enjoyable.

Monday, 26 December 2016

Freshmenu – Food Review

Many of you may have heard of Freshmenu because of their aggressive advertising on Facebook. When I first visited the website I noticed that most of the food items were kind of over-priced. I ordered the most reasonable thing on the menu which was the Mongol Chicken Meal-For-One which contained Mongol Chicken Rice and Nutella Lava Cake (Eggless) for Rs. 360/-.
Customer Support and After Sale assistance: When the order arrived I realized they sent me a Strawberry-Guava yogurt instead of Nutella Lava Cake (Eggless). I called and complained about the mistake. They delivered the Nutella Lava Cake (Eggless) the next day and let me keep the Strawberry-Guava yogurt free of cost. So, as far as response to complaints, they are pretty good.
Quality of Food: The Mongol Chicken Rice was medium-spicy and delicious. The chicken pieces were tender and cooked in an amazing sauce. As promised, the quantity was enough for one person. The Nutella Lava Cake, was chocolaty, but could have been much better. The packaging ruined it and I’ll explain how, below. The Strawberry-Guava yogurt had a really fresh flavour.
Packaging: The Nutella Lava Cake and Strawberry-Guava yogurt came in cute glass jars. Now, for the yogurt, that’s fine. But a Lava Cake is preferably eaten hot but you can’t microwave it for more than 15 seconds, since the jar heats up. I was forced to eat it at room-temperature and it lost something that way.
Delivery: Delivery was on time. No complaints there.
Areas of Service: Mumbai, Delhi, Bangalore and Gurgaon.
Payment options: Cash on Delivery, Debit and Credit Cards, Netbanking, Wallets such as Paytm, MobiKwik, Citrus, Freecharge, PayUmoney.
Website: Pleasant and easy to navigate.
Others: It’s clear that Freshmenu has inventory issues. The menu keeps changing within hours. What’s on the menu at one time may disappear few minutes later, due to unavailability. If this was rare, it would be excusable, but it isn’t when it happens so often.

Conclusion: I had a nice one-time experience, but I doubt I would order from here again, mainly due the price being a bit over-board. If they slashed prices by about 25%, I would definitely consider it. 
Food Review, Restaurant

Wednesday, 21 December 2016

Xiaomi Redmi Note 3 - Gadget Review

Xiaomi Redmi Note 3 - Gadget Review Mobile phone SmartphoneRating: 8.1/10

‘Xiaomi’ is known for providing smart phones which are value for money. Before purchasing the Xiaomi Redmi Note 3, I was using the Xiaomi Mi 3 and that too had an amazing battery life and was reasonably priced. I bought Xiaomi Redmi Note 3 for Rs. 11,999/-. Had I bought it during the Snapdeal Unbox Diwali Sale, I could have got it for Rs. 1000/- off and also got 32GB SD Card absolutely free! Unfortunately, I missed that opportunity due to my own stupidity. Anyways, let’s review this bad boy!

Ø The Great Battery life is easily the best feature of this phone. Even on heavy to usage it can work for a day or day and a half. It also charges quickly.
Ø Functions smoothly and does not lag.
Ø It has an excellent and easy-to-use interface. The options to clean the phone, delete files, cache, app data, etc. and manage app permissions are quick to access.
Ø Fingerprint sensor works well.
Ø The phone is value for money.

Ø Camera does not work great in low light. One can easily can see the noise in pictures.
Ø No tempered or toughened glass.

Xiaomi Redmi Note 3 - Gadget Review Mobile phone SmartphoneIf a good camera is really important to you, this isn’t the mobile phone for you. Also, unlike the Xiaomi Mi3, this device does not have Gorilla Glass. I, personally, hate using covers or scratch guards since they ruin the look of the phone. The phone is also more delicate than Xiaomi Mi3.
Battery charges quickly and lasts long. All other features are good. Plus, using a Fingerprint scanner feels pretty James Bond-ish doesn’t it?
Xiaomi also has several service centres at Mumbai and these centres are really responsive and approachable. That’s the reason I chose this phone over the AsusZenphone Max.
So, is the phone worth the price? Definitely!

Mobile phone Review, Xiaomi Mi 3, Smart phones, Xiaomi Redmi Note 3, Gadget Review, 

Sunday, 18 December 2016

Why a Non-Catholic, like Me, Loves Christmas

Christmas Cake Festival
Christmas Cake
Unlike other holidays celebrated in India, Christmas isn’t about making noise, wasting water, risking your life or killing an animal. Christmas is simply a time of the year where one is supposed to feel grateful to the Lord and one another, while bonding with family and loved ones.
Christmas has not yet been commercialized
I would say Christmas in India is better than Christmas in western countries since it has not yet been commercialized to such an extent. As a rule, though I am non-catholic, I spend Christmas vacation with family and New Year’s Eve with friends and acquaintances. If at all I choose to travel with family I choose a quaint place and avoid strenuous sports or activities.
Comedian Kautuk Srivastav loves it!
Even Kautuk Srivastava of SnG Comedy loves Christmas. Watch their Video Podcast here:

There are also several NGOs with whom you can volunteer during the Christmas vacations. The Robinhood Army also plans a lot of fun things to do for street children during the Christmas vacations. They organize games and magic shows for the children.
Sweets and Goodies
I know I this goes against what I said previously. But I would be remiss if I only focused on the emotional bonding and introspection related aspects of Christmas and not the gifts and sweets that come with it. Some of my catholic friends also send chocolates or plum cakes or regular cakes to my house. Visiting their house is also an amazing experience, since I get to feel genuine love and affection and am fed like a pig that is about to be slaughtered (Forgive the grim metaphor).
Conclusion – Why Christmas is the Best
I love Christmas because it is a time of sober celebration and emotional bonding. This year I believe I have been a good boy and hope Santa gives me the thing I ask for every year – ‘Peace on Earth’. I urge all my readers to also plan a peaceful and meaningful Christmas this year. Take Care!

Thursday, 15 December 2016

Why I pick Trains over Planes

trains planes same pictureThe Indian Railways is one of the biggest employers in the world. Even without statistical data, this is rather apparent to anyone who travels in inter-state trains, especially for long journeys exceeding 24 hours. Travelling in these trains will show you a variety of people, from different parts of India, having different backgrounds.
Trains v. Planes
From a plane one can see a whole stretch of land or a vast portion of the sea. But in order to really feel minuscule or insignificant you have travel the same distance by rail, since travelling in trains is like observing each and every dot of an impressionist painting. The only question you have to ask yourself is whether you are ready to witness the world from that perspective.
Building Character
I have, personally, found that travelling in General compartment for over 24 hours at a time builds character and endurance. All modern day philosophers must perform exercise at least two or three times. If you are not ready for that level challenge, the next but best thing is to climb into Sleeper class with a General ticket and pay the fine to the T.C. You won’t get allocated a seat, but you’ll be allowed to be inside the sleeper coach. Please don’t pick a high-end train like Rajdhani. Pick one of the lesser known trains.
This way you will have to learn to “manage”, and share seats. Your sitting down will depend on the kindness of others. You may find yourself constantly shifting from one place to another. Getting a place to sleep will be exceptionally tricky. If you are not so lucky you may have to stand for most of the journey.
You will get plenty of time for self-analysis and to be lost in thought. You all know what its like to sit at the window seat during a 20 minute bus journey. Now, imagine that lasting for about 24 hours. If you don’t have any luggage your mind will be free to wander. Keep a pen and paper on you in case you are the type of person who likes to jot down good ideas or thoughts that may end up be life altering.  However, if you do have luggage which you have to keep an eye on, that will make the journey all the more challenging.  
As for myself, I will be performing this ritual annually so that I am reminded to remain simple, considerate and cautious.