Thursday, December 30, 2021

2021 as it Was…

Hmm… Where to start?! A dilemma you have when you have written nothing on the Blog for the past one year. While people are busy summarizing 2021/reviewing it/summing it up/adding it up/rounding it up, etc. around this time, let me do the same. What else can one do if one is active on the Blog only once during the year? I would like to share what I was up to in 2021, what inspired me and made me happy and the best place to start would be ‘movies’.

I first request you to read this post which talks about the movies we watched and were looking forward to watch in Q3-Q4 2021 (that too in theatres) and yes, we made it work. I make that sound like I’m part of the team whose telescope is going to touch the sun. C’mon, with the Virus still around and with a ~4 year old daughter, we went to the theatres and watched some movies (sometimes alone and sometimes together). That’s a big feat, isn’t it? Let me start with my most favorite – ‘Spiderman: No Way Home’. I watched it alone surrounded by a bunch of teenagers. It reminded me how old I have become. At every scene where (SPOILER Alert!) the three Spidermen (if you haven’t watched the movie, then stop reading this post right away because there would be a few more spoilers) appeared together, the people weren’t on their seats. They jumped, shouted, and hooted. After a while, I too joined them and laughed my heart out. It was nostalgia at its very best and if you like (I mean, even if it is ‘only a little bit’) superhero movies, you should watch it.

The second favorite being ‘No Time to Die’. Were all the rumours true about this one? Yes, each of them and every bit. The legend finally falls in love, he fights nanobots, saves millions of lives before himself succumbing to death. It’s surprising (in a nice way) to see how the James Bond movies have evolved over the last six decades. From a cold, dark, playboy character to a warm, empathetic, loving man it was amazing to see the evolution of a Spy – from 20th century to 21st century! The third favorite is ‘Shang-Chi and the Legend of the Ten Rings’. The story was good, the action scenes brilliant. I was happy to see the Asian representation in the Marvel Cinematic Universe and O man, it didn’t disappoint at all. It made me feel we are finally overcoming racism, discrimination, etc. But are we really is the question and the statistics suggests otherwise. There were so many scenes that reminded me of my stay in Guangzhou and Taipei. The cultural references reminded of the various conversations but at times they also felt a bit of a stretch. Such movies always provide me a hope that we can together build a sustainable world, a hope that we are moving in the right direction. A few other movies that I watched were – ‘Free Guy’, ‘The Matrix Resurrections’, ‘Ghostbusters: Afterlife’, ‘Eternals’ and ‘The Green Knight’ in the descending order of my enjoyment.

Work and house chores went as usual. Both happened from home!😉 I did some exciting things like making a couple of professional videos and they have turned out to be nice. We got both the doses of the Covishield vaccine – two of those few times I physically went to the office.

We went to Kalimpong for 3 days and that was the only proper vacation I had this year. And no matter how many times I requested this Guy to go to a beach, he would never agree. Kalimpong is running in my mind like a happy dream where we went to different cafés, a cacti nursery (yes, you read that right – Cacti), a Science museum, few temples, enjoyed the view of Kanchenjunga from different places and ate the best Momos ever. I did go to Nagpur, Ahmedabad and Bangalore to see families but I wouldn’t call them vacations.

Kalimpong Viewpoint 1

Kalimpong Viewpoint 2

Us...

For the first time in my life, I gave a guest lecture at Ashoka University – basically I tried summarizing for myself and the students what I have done over the last 12 years. Seemed like a not too bad journey. Could have been better but not bad. I wish there was a recording but unfortunately there isn’t one. If any of you readers are interested to know what I said, I have the script with me and don’t mind sharing the same.

I did a course on Scrum – the Certified Scrum Master (CSM) and although haven’t been able to apply the concept at work, I wish I can do so one day. In one sentence I learnt – ‘preventing mistakes before they become blunders’. The whole concept of Scrum helps in assigning the right roles and responsibilities to different people within a team and creates necessary feedback loop between the users and the developers. Don’t ask me to apply this to Indian weddings, though.

Of late, I have developed an interest in ESG (Environment, Social and Governance) and planning to start a course on SCR – Sustainability & Climate Risk from January. I have done a lot of study in this field – calculated my own carbon footprint to start with, have become mindful of the things I do and how it is having an impact on our planet and its species. I have realized that I can cut down my carbon footprint by >40% by just doing a couple of train trips instead of taking the plane. Yes, for someone who is thinking about climate change and their carbon footprints, this is the best place to start. And then there are finer things like paying for the carbon emissions which can’t be helped (these fees then go towards investments in sustainable options), planting trees, growing fruits and vegetables in your verandah/garden, eating local produce (which is good for the body as well), avoiding plastics and if can’t be avoided - reusing them, reducing milk/eggs/meat/sea-food intake as much as possible while not compromising on your health.

I think I was always very much interested in human psychology and more so now because human behaviours are evolving in this new normal. Studies are suggesting that we would not have universities and colleges conducting 100% physical classes anymore. An employer asking its employees to turn up to work all 5 days of the week will not be true anymore. People are even questioning the number 5 there. A lot of medical care will be provided by robots. In short, our life is going to be very different. I feel, bringing Data Science and Behavioural Economics can do wonders in the future. From developing ethical models to nudging the customers towards doing the right thing to preventing fraud, the use cases are just infinite.

I also read (am reading) some nice books.

  1. Thinking Better: The Art of the Shortcut in Math and Life by Marcus du Sautoy
  2. Third Thoughts by Steven Weinberg
  3. Sweet Sweet Revenge Ltd. by Jonas Jonasson
  4. Sapiens by Yuval Noah Harari
  5. Wuthering Heights by Emily Bronte
  6. Re-read/Heard the Neapolitan Series ‘My Brilliant Friend’ by Elena Ferrante
  7. Screen Free Fun
  8. Parenting in the Age of Anxiety
  9. Meditation Manual

I get to hear a lot of good Shayari from my Superpartner anyways – good dose of it keeps me going / keeps me grounded. The Sher below was apt 1.5 years ago when we shared it with a cousin and it is still relevant and will be, always.

कोई हाथ भी न मिलाएगा जो गले मिलोगे तपाक से
ये नए मिज़ाज का शहर है ज़रा फ़ासले से मिला करो

Koi haath bhi na milaaega jo gale miloge tapaak se
Ye naye mizaaj ka shahar hai zara faasle se mila karo

No one will even shake hands if you embrace zealously
This city has a new air about it, meet but a bit remotely

–बशीर बद्र (Bashir Badr)

And more or less this is how I have spent my 365 days or so this year. I wish all of us have a very joyous, healthy and happy 2022. Cheers!

Happy New Year!