Books Roundup – From March 2014 to Aug 2014

7 Sep


There are few things I like more than curling up on a sofa with a book in hand and a cup of hot tea beside while the rain comes down outside the window. It has been pouring hard in the last couple of months and I have read a some amazing books during this period. I am glad that I kept up the velocity of reading at least 2 books every month. In fact it has been at least 18 books in the last 6 months. So Yeaaaayy. Here’s the list.

1. Steve Jobs by Walter Isaacson – 5 stars

Absolutely loved the book. Walter has a gripping style of writing that keeps you wanting to read further into the book at the cost of your sleep even. And Steve’s character was brought forth by him for the genius Steve was in creating art through the handheld and personal computing devices as well as music and animated movies Apple and Pixar created. Of course with some ugly personality flaws thrown in for good measure. I can totally see why so many wannabe CEO types try to imitate Steve Job’s style of management but only one Genius could pull it off.    

2. What color is your Parachute? by Richard N Bolles – 4 stars

Classic Self help book for people wanting to change their careers or Jobs

3. Finding Ultra by Rich Roll – 4 stars

A 40 year old guy picks himself from his couch strategically placed in front of a TV set and goes on to become one of the fittest men competing and winning Iron man events. Now that was an inspirational read.

4. The Perfect Storm by Sebastian Junger – 5 stars

Saw the movie starring George Clooney much before reading the book but loved the book even better. The author, Sebastian gives the reader the feel of actually being aboard the Andrea Gail while the gallant crew brave the stormy seas. Wow.

5. The Four Pillars of Investing by William J Bernstein – 5 stars

Best book I have read so far on investing and building a winning portfolio. Reading this 10 years back would have helped me even more but then its never to late to learn, isn’t it?  

6. Your money: The missing Manual by JD Roth – 4 stars

JD Roth is a finance blogger who started the famous blog This is a well written and easy to read book. Especially liked the chapter titled Blueprint for Financial Prosperity in which he cuts down to some basic lessons while dealing with money.

7. 98.6 degrees -The art of keeping your Ass Alive by Cody Lundin – 3 stars

Comprehensive book Surviving in different conditions like Extreme cold or in the desert. Its a book you hope you never need to ever use in practice.

8. The Mediterranean Diet by Marissa Cloutier and Eve Adamson – 3 stars

Nice book on the food and health benefits of the Mediterranean diet and lifestyle. What did I incorporate from this book? I make a yummy avocado salad and help grow some herbs and vegetables in the garden  🙂

9. The richest man in Babylon by George S Clason – 4 stars

Written way back in the 1920s it still contains relevant gems on what it takes to create wealth. The author makes use of excellent parables set in Ancient Babylon.

10 Unbroken – by Laura Hillenbrand – 5 stars

Very well written true story of the American Olympic runner and fighter bomber Louie Zamperini who was taken a Prisoner of War by the Japanese forces in WW-2. Before that he was a castaway in a lifeboat on the Pacific ocean for a month when his plane crashed. Sometimes truth is stranger than fiction for sure and Louie’s life reas like one big adenture. Looking forward to the movie when it releases.

11. Finding Flow – By Mihaly Csikszentmihalyi – 5 stars

Excellent Psychological study into achieving Happiness by learning the joy of complete engagement. Mihaly is the pioneer of Finding Flow  that helps one to lead a richer engaged life.

12. The Bogleheads Guide to Investing – 4.5 stars

This book captures the wisdom of many successful investors following the Bogle style of investing and provides an easy to follow plan. Its about keeping it simple in finance like investing in a few Index funds, proper asset allocation and re balancing the portfolio every couple of years. It also tells the many pitfalls while indexing. Ouch!

13. Essentialism – The Disciplined Pursuit of Less by Greg McKeown – 4.5 stars

      In the authors words essentialism forces us to apply a more selective criteria for what is essential. The pursuit of less allows us to regain control of our choices so we can make the highest possible contribution towards the things that really matter. Very well written book that made me appreciate the beauty of essentialism and try to incorporate some learnings into my life.

14 Harry Browne/ How I found Freedom in an unfree world – 2 stars

    This book talks about ways to live your life the way you want it.  Honestly I could not connect to this book and found it a bit difficult to read. This book comes highly recommended on Good reads and Amazon but I just did not like it and could take nothing out of it. I might need to read it again at a different point in my life and see if I understand it better then.

15 The Last Lecture by Randy Pausch – 4 stars

You might have seen the video on youtube of Randy Pausch’s last lecture at Carnegie Mellon University before he passed away. It is a beautiful oratory directed to his little children who he knew would grow up without him. This book is his story.

16. Slow down to the Speed of Life by Richard Carlson and Joseph Bailey – 4 stars

A book about slowing down the frenetic pace in life and living in the moment. The Slow movement resonates well with me and there were a lot of things for me to take home from this book.  Well written book this.

17. Encore by Marc Freedman – 3 stars

A book about how the baby boomer generation can find work that matters in the second half of the life.

18. Born to Run by Christopher McDougall – 5 stars

There is a tribe in Mexico called the Tarahumara who run extraordinary distances(upwards of 50 miles) in the Copper Canyons regularly. This includes children in their teens as well as old grandfathers in simple sandals running in the searing heat without their bodies breaking down. The author goes into what makes the Tarahumara the ultimate ultra-runners of the world and it is truly a fantastic and captivating read. 
Link to Last years Books Roundup






My Life Bucket List – 1 to 50

16 Apr


There are a few things in life that I have always wanted to do and experience. Here are a few of the items on my wish list, some of which I have been fortunate enough to cross out.

  1. Go Skydiving       Done in Los Angeles in 2002
  2. Learn to swim  
  3. Attend La Tomatina  (Spain)
  4. Backpack through South East Asia (Completed in 2014. Vietnam, Cambodia, Laos, Thailand)
  5. Visit the Eiffel Tower
  6. Learn to Scuba dive    Completed in the Andaman islands, India
  7. Spot the big jungle cats(Lion, Tiger, Cheetah, Leopard) in any reserve
  8. Watch Whales and Dolphins out in the ocean       Watched 4 Blue whales and many dolphins in the Indian Ocean off the Mirissa coast,Sri Lanka
  9. Walk across one of the Spanish Pilgrimage trails
  10. Complete the Everest Base Camp trek, Himalayas, Nepal  Done in May, 2012
  11. Get Married
  12. Have a pet dog
  13. Summit Kilimanjaro, Tanzania, Africa
  14. Take a ship to Antarctica
  15. Act in a play  Done a few times
  16. Sing in front of a crowd of at least 100
  17. Learn to play some cool songs on the guitar
  18. Meditate everyday for a year
  19. Win a 100 meter running race
  20. Take part in a marathon At least 10 kilometres
  21. Visit Every Continent
  22. Go white water rafting  Done in the Beas, Manali, India
  23. Ride a chopper  Done over the Hoover dam, Colorado, USA
  24. Watch a meteor shower in the desert 
  25. Get an article that I have written published in a Magazine\Newspaper
  26. Be my own boss and earn a living working for myself
  27. Participate as a Best man at a wedding       Trevor and Vinita’s wedding, Mumbai
  28. Become a God father  God father to 3 amazing kids
  29. Dance the Salsa with a Latina girl
  30. Read at least 24 books in a year
  31. Travel to 50 countries
  32. Visit and trek the grand canyon
  33. Visit the Taj Mahal
  34. Achieve Zero debt
  35. Win a football tournament with at least 12 entries  Pune inter IT football champs 2006
  36. Win a Ping Pong tournament with at least 32 entries  Three times doubles teaming up with Akshat Nimbalkar
  37. Win a Badminton tournament with at least 32 entries
  38. Write a book
  39. Get an MBA degree (SIBM, Pune, 2006)
  40. Win a cricket tournament with at least 12 entries
  41. Travel any one inter continental railway from end to end( Europe\China\Russia)
  42. Take a Sabbatical from work to reflect current journey
  43. Backpack through Europe
  44. Go fishing in a boat in any one Ocean(Pacific\Atlantic\Indian)  – Pacific Ocean
  45. Catch and cook my own fish dinner
  46. Learn any one of the Asian martial arts
  47. Get boxing coaching lessons
  48. Undertake a road journey along the coast of India
  49. Cycle from Pune\Mumbai to Goa ( approx 500 kilometers)
  50. Stay a few nights at Santorini, Greece
    Attend La Tomatina (Spain)

In Pursuit of Flow

16 Mar


When does time stop for you? When do you find yourself doing exactly what you want to be doing, and never wanting it to end? This could be reading a book, cooking, dancing, writing a computer program or playing a sport. A few weeks back while I was playing Table Tennis I was so caught up in the moment playing each point that time itself ceased to exist. I was in the zone and ended up playing as well as I had done in a long time. When the game was over I was in a state of happiness that lasted the rest of the day. I hadn’t felt this way in a long time and I realized I needed to read about and explore this feeling more. If you have played sports you would know the feeling of being in the zone. That is the precisely the elusive thing called flow.

Mike’s Csikszentmihaly is the author of the book “Flow”. He is known for his signal contribution to psychology – the concept of flow. And flow could aid filling your days with a bit of happiness.
Here are the components that are required for flow in any task according to author Martin Seligman in his book Authentic Happiness : Using the new Positive Psychology

  • The task is challenging and requires matching skill
  • We concentrate intensely
  • There are clear goals
  • We get immediate feedback
  • We have deep, effortless involvement
  • There is a sense of control
  • Our sense of self vanishes
  • Time stops

Notice a salient absence: there is no positive emotion on the list of essential components. While positive emotions like pleasure,
exhilaration, and ecstasy are occasionally mentioned, typically in retrospect, they are not usually felt. In fact, it is the absence of
emotion, of any kind of consciousness, that is at the heart of flow. Consciousness and emotion are there to correct your trajectory;
when what you are doing is seamlessly perfect, you don’t need them.

Most of the top sportsmen and outdoor adrenaline enthusiasts certainly have learned to harness flow. I can picture a Sachin Tendulkar or Roger Federer exhibiting their skills in cricket and Tennis at their prime. And then too flow must have been elusive to them all the time. Since you get immediate feedback and require skills in a sport it might come a bit more easily but flow can be achieved in a range of other day to day activities. A housewife could obtain it while cooking a tricky dish that requires her total concentration or an IT engineer could have it while developing an android app that does something cool.

A good recipe for happiness is incorporating activities in your day to day life that gives you flow. I realized that I can achieve flow in some of the following activities

  1. Playing sports like table tennis, badminton and football
  2. Reading a book
  3. Adventure sports like Scuba diving, rafting or Hiking
  4. Working in the Networking domain in IT

So when does time stop for you?

Roundup – List of books read from March 2013 to Feb 2014

16 Mar




I am quite pleased with the amount of time I am spending reading books of late. Since March 2013 when my DW gifted me an iPad getting books I want to read quickly has become so much simpler. This alone has helped me read probably the maximum number of books I have read in a year. It works out to a book almost every 2 weeks. Here is the full list. I have not included technical books that I have referenced quite a bit but not read cover to cover.

1. Good to Great by Jim Collins – 4 stars
2. Authentic Happiness using the new Positive Psychology by Martin Seligman – 4.5 stars
3. The Four Hour Workweek by Timothy Ferris – 4 stars
4. Mojo: How to get it, how to keep it, How to get it back by Marshall Goldsmith – 3.5 stars
5. Work less Live more the way to semi retirement by Bob Clyatt – 4 stars
6. The know it alls guide to Life by John T Walbaum – 3 stars
7. Get A Life – You don’t need a million to retire well by Ralph Warner – 3.5 stars
8. Vagabonding by Rolf Potts – 4 stars
9. Arabian Sands by Wilfred Thesiger – 4 stars
10. Mutiny on board the H. M. S. bounty by William Bligh – 3.5 stars
11. Do the work by Steven Pressfield – 3 stars
12. In the wilds of Africa by William Henry Giles Kingston – 3.5 stars
13. Escape from cubicle nation by Pamela Slim – 4 stars
14. Getting things done by David Allen – 3.5 stars
15. The Power of Now by David Allen – 3.5 stars
16. Into thin Air by Jon Krakeur – 5 stars
17. Mud sweat and Tears by bear Grylls – 4 stars
18. Running the Amazon by Joe Kane – 4.5 stars
19. Do more Great work by Michael Bungay Stanier – 3.5 stars
20. The long Walk by Slavomir Rawicz – 4 stars
21. The happiness project by Gretchen Rubin – 4 stars
22. The Art of Non conformity by Chris Guillebeau – 4.5 stars
23. In the Heart of Africa by Samuel White Baker – 3.5 stars
24. The millionaire in the Mirror by Gene Bedell – 3 stars
25. How to find fulfilling work – Roman Krznaric – 4.5 stars
26. Big Data – Viktor Mayer Schonberger – 4 stars

A Short History of Nearly Everything

18 Mar


A Short History of Nearly Everything” by Bill Bryson is a wonderful book that has more than rekindled my interest in Science and interestingly philosophy. It made me stop completely and reflect just how insignificant I am when you consider the history of the world and the vastness of the universe. But it also helped open my eyes as to how lucky I am to to be here in the first place and more importantly that I am actually able to comprehend why I am lucky. The following two passages in particular were my favourite from this amazingly well written book. A must read.

“If you imagine the 4,500-bilion-odd years of Earth’s history compressed into a normal 24 hour earthly day, then life begins very early, about 4 A.M., with the rise of the first simple, single-celled organisms, but then advances no further for the next sixteen hours. Not until almost 8:30 in the evening, with the day five-sixths over, has Earth anything to show the universe but a restless skin of microbes. Then, finally, the first sea plants appear, followed twenty minutes later by the first jellyfish and the enigmatic Ediacaran fauna first seen by Reginald Sprigg in Australia. At 9:04 P.M. trilobites swim onto the scene, followed more or less immediately by the shapely creatures of the Burgess Shale. Just before 10 P.M. plants begin to pop up on the land. Soon after, with less than two hours left in the day, the first land creatures follow.   Thanks to ten minutes or so of balmy weather, by 10:24 the Earth is covered in the great carboniferous forests whose residues give us all our coal, and the first winged insects are evident. Dinosaurs plod onto the scene just before 11 P.M. and hold sway for about three-quarters of an hour. At twenty-one minutes to midnight they vanish and the age of mammals begins. Humans emerge one minute and seventeen seconds before midnight. The whole of our recorded history, on this scale, would be no more than a few seconds, a single human lifetime barely an instant.

So Humans walked for only 0.01% of the History of the Earth. Wow. And yet we might have caused more destruction than any other organism that existed before us. And we act as if we’ll always be here.

Who do my atoms belong to?

Every atom you possess has almost certainly passed through several stars and been part of millions of organisms on its way to becoming you. We are each so atomically numerous and so vigorously recycled at death that a significant number of our atoms – up to a billion for each of us, it has been suggested – probably belonged to Shakespeare(or Asoka) or some other figure from the past. So in a sense we are all reincarnations – though short-lived ones. When we die our atoms will disassemble and move off to find new uses elsewhere – as part of a leaf or other human being or drop of dew. After all we are mostly made up of just Carbon, Hyrdrogen, Oxygen and Nitrogen elements.

This made me think of how our identity is such an illusion in the history of time. Yet we have created so many divisions. We fight to prove our tribes and personal superiority over others. When in fact nothing is really mine or yours. Wouldn’t it be right to say whatever I am made up of belongs to the universe and it will always be the universe’s to take and create from. I am everything around me and everything around me is I. Jee Wheez. Thats mighty philosophical but it puts things in perspective for me.  

Life mein Ek baar

24 Jan

Do you remember the last time you did something for the first time?  Perhaps, something you’ve always wanted to do in life but didn’t have the chance or gumption to try out until this moment. You surely would have felt the sheer excitement of trying out something new, slowly but surely gaining control of the fear that is screaming wildly within you but that has ironically rendered you speechless. Then a moment of self-doubt. Maybe you should back out but then you decide You’ve come so far you got to do this.You focus every pore of your body on that moment. And then you do it. And then that strange floating feeling. Yeah, The moment when you felt more alive than ever before. And you want the moment to last forever!

I just watched an episode of the series called “Life mein ek baar” starring Purab Kohli where he and 3 other guys travel to different parts of India trying out activities like bungee jumping that they hadn’t done before. And that made me think back to the things I had enjoyed doing for the first time and which had made me feel as alive as ever. I remember as a child I had two big fears, a fear of heights and a fear of water. You’ll never find a picture of me as a kid splashing in the sea or venturing out onto a mountain ledge. And this I believe is why the top couple of moments that I felt most alive was when trying out something related to these two very elements, water and heights. Doing something for the first time, especially if it’s something you were afraid of to begin with does wonders to your self-confidence. It also opens up a passion for something you might not have known you had earlier.

So here’s my list of all time favourite things I did for the first time

5. Being a part of an underdog team that just about beats the odds 

In the 2004 Pune Inter-IT tournament my organization BMC Software which I represented as a right defender lost each and every match except the last one. We scored a solitary goal in that last game against another equally weak team, and this was our only goal of the tournament. We ranked 11th among the 12 teams that participated but we were quite pleased with ourselves that day. We had just formed the football team a few weeks back and we knew if we gave it some time and some practice we would definitely do better the next year. And we did practice hard ( 3 times a week over the next 6 months). A couple of extremely good players joined the organization as well and we had a well oiled team for the 2005 tournament. We made it through the leagues and in the knock-outs defeated heavyweights like Infosys and Amdocs. In the finals we were pitted against PSPL whom we defeated by a solitary goal. In fact all our knock out wins came in the form of hard-fought solitary goals. We had skinned our knees and unfortunately someone broke his shin bone as well but we were over the moon that day. Most of all the bonding we shared in the team and of course lifting the trophy.

4. The First crush   

It was so many moons ago during the Jurassic era of Chris De Burgh love songs but I still remember that feeling of the first crush. Of how the birds actually seemed to sing with you and the brooks babbled away their poetry in those early teen years of puppy love. And when I held her hand for the first time, the world really did stop for a 14-year-old. Ah poetry be damned,  maybe it was just my heart skipping a beat!

3. Scubadiving in the Andamans   

Gliding through the emerald blue waters with my sweetheart and the most exquisite marine life. The sheer romance of it. No wonder folks exchange wedding rings and pledge to be together with such regularity while scuba diving.  Diving is not too difficult to pick up and does not get your adrenaline levels into the stratosphere (unless you spot a shark I guess 🙂 Here’s a post of my first scuba dive.

2. Skydiving 

The farms looked tiny from the rather big gaping hole at the back of the plane. We were at 13000 feet and it was time to plunge. “No” I thought “so fast really?” The girl ahead of me somersaulted out from the hole. I must have been crazy to sign up to do this I thought. Luckily it was a tandem jump and I got pushed through that hole in the plane. Next was the most amazing part of all, the 45-50 seconds of free fall. That was a feeling I had never experienced before and it was wonderful. So much so that I had forgotten to look at the altimeter which read 5000 feet in just 45 seconds.It was time to pull the rip cord already and float safely to an inviting firm ground. My first and only sky dive ranked up there on things that made me feel alive.

And the top one by far for me

1. Swimming a lap across the pool for the very first time     

I learnt swimming really late in life, somewhere in my early 20s. But it was definitely not for want of trying. I remember many different folks trying to teach me to swim but it usually resulted in me swallowing a lot of water, splashing about for a few seconds before finally giving up full of chlorine.I just didn’t know why I couldn’t do it. One evening I tried especially hard for many hours to try to master this monumental activity called swimming but I failed yet again. My friends and I came back from the pool but once home I decided to go back to the pool alone. It wasn’t more than 5 feet deep so it was quite safe really. I just jumped in almost like a zombie and dog paddled my way across the pool. And before I knew it had swum the entire length back. I couldn’t believe it. I had finally done it. I followed up that first lap with a free style across the pool and I knew it was for real. More importantly I had discovered a small part of me that day. Without a doubt swimming that first lap is the top ranked activity of something I did for the first time.



2011, The year gone by

6 Jan

Here are a few things that come to mind when I look back on 2011.

Following a Fitness Regime

One of the biggest pluses for me has been the consistence with which I have been able to go about my 4.4 kilometre brisk walk. No, I don’t have a pedometer but one lap of the Pune race course walking track is approximately 2.2 kms and I do 2 laps. I just didn’t play enough sports last year though. Well maybe a dozen cricket matches but that just doesn’t cut it. No football at all and just a handful of badminton and Ping pong games.Sheesh! Talking about sports my dad and I enjoyed watching the Blackburn Rovers football team live in my city. My dad himself played the game so well and I am glad we were able to watch a first division european football team together . India winning the Cricket Worldcup in 2011 was an unforgettable moment too.

Travel Experiences 

The trip to the Andamans stands out for the sheer joy the trip to those idyllic lands and waters gave to all of us who went there and of course the thrill of learning to dive in those emerald waters. I enjoyed taking the road trip to Goa with my family, especially since it was the first time I drove all the way from Pune to Goa. I cannot forget driving down those beautiful hilly coastal roads of South Goa but the one memory that certainly sticks out is eating these really yummy Sannas(its like a sweet idli steamed with a hint of toddy) at 5 am before the drive back to Pune. And I enjoyed the fishing. Both my brother and I have wonderful childhood memories fishing in Goa and it was great to see my nieces enjoying it so many years later. I couldn’t believe we were actually fishing out crabs too with a fishing rod. The greedy crustaceans refused to let go of the bait even though they were being pulled out slowly from the water. A few smart ones did let go but I ate the really greedy albeit dumb ones.They were positively yummy. Next time Sannas with crabs. Now there’s a dish.

Learning a Language

Hablo un poquito de Espanol 🙂 I did enjoy learning Spanish immensely. We started off with 15 people in the batch but roughly 50% dropped out over the next 3 months. During the course I got drawn to searching for Spanish songs on youtube and found some that I could actually understand and sing. Me Gusta tu by Manu Chao and Para tu amor by Juanes stand out for its easy to understand but beautiful lyrics. A new language truly opens a Wall sized window into a different world. Me gusta mucha.


The year had its gut wrenching moments, of coming to face with mortality, of a feeling of irreplaceable loss but also of a realization to live in the moment. I will miss that proudly sagittarrian fitness fanatic, that wanderer of the Himalayas, passionate orator of many a diverse topic and above all  treasured friend to all those who knew him. He would have laughed heartily if he read these lines and that’s how I will always remember him. I will also miss a favourite uncle of mine, another man who I think lived every moment to the fullest.

2011 might have gone but some memories will stay on for a long time to come.

The 4% Rule

23 Dec


This is a rule which dictates approximately how much of your nest egg you can withdraw in the first year of retirement, which can then be increased annually to account for inflation. For example if you have a nest egg of 50 lacs you can withdraw 4% or 2 lacs in the first year to stand a reasonable probability of it lasting 30 years or more.

Turned around again the 4% rule can be used as a tool to approximate how much of a nest egg you need to build up for retirement in order to have a reasonable chance to live off it in perpetuity (perpetuity here being death of course). So if you need an annual amount of Rs 4 lacs to retire you should multiply this figure by 25 to give you the nest egg you will need  to live off the interest. In this example 4 * 25 = 1 crore Of course remember to account for inflation as this future amount will not have the same value in terms of purchasing power that it does today.

How does it work? Your nest egg portfolio might be earning 10% interest with a 6% inflation. 4% acts as the spread here and this is the reason your nest egg has a probability of lasting longer if you limit withdrawals to 4% annually. It very much depends on your asset allocation as well and there is always a risk of running out much earlier if you have invested most of your retirement in equity which then crashes or there is a long period of extremely high inflation.

My thoughts – To be on the safer side 3% is always better than 4% to increase the odds of your money not running out when you need it the most.  But it also means a lot more hard work to build up that egg too.


The Rule of 72

23 Dec

Do you shudder at the thought of making those calculations for your personal financial management? Here are a couple of handy tips in 2 back to back blogs so you’ll be able to make some approximate calculations within seconds without spreadsheets, a calculator or the internet.

The Rule of 72

This is a handy tip to remember if you want to calculate the approximate years it will take for your invested money to double if invested at a given interest rate.

Step 1 – Identify the interest rate you are getting on the Fixed Deposit, CD or Bond? Lets say 8%

Step 2 – Divide 72 by the interest rate you identified. The resulting value is approximately the amount of years it will take for the money you have invested to double. In our example 72 / 8 = 9 years

Of course you can turn the same formula around to calculate the approximate rate you should invest your money at, if you want it to double in a fixed number of years. For example if you want your money to double in approximately 7 years , divide 72 by 7 to get the interest rate you should invest at. In our example  it would be approximately 10%

The next blog will deal with the 4% rule which is more handy when planning how to get out of the rat race

Avoid crowds to save time and your sanity

28 Nov

Do you face the daily stress of commuting during the peak hours? Or the discomfort of going out for a movie or out shopping on a Friday or Saturday evening sharing the streets and the malls with what seems like the remaining billion or so people in the country? This stress is something that can certainly be reduced from our lives by making a few changes to our schedules and time tables. And in the bargain free up some time to do the things we love to do.

Some of the areas where I have tried to do just this are

1. Daily commute

I spend around an hour every day commuting from home to work. This is a reduction of about 20-30 minutes from what it was before I decided to change my timings to skip the peak traffic times. Going early to work and getting back early saves me time and I arrive home a bit more cheerful than when I was part of bumper to bumper traffic and the cacophony of incessant honking.

2. Shopping

I don’t enjoy shopping in crowds, period. Shopping out on Friday or Saturday evening almost regularly meant unavailability of parking slots, standing in long queues at the change rooms and not getting enough time from the sales folks. What a terrible experience for someone who doesn’t enjoy shopping in the first place. Then i discovered morning shopping. There are hardly any people; you get to choose what you want in peace and sometimes you tend to get early bird discounts.

3. Movies

Again I’d rather prefer to watch a movie in the morning or afternoon than being part of the maddening crowds on weekend evenings. Of course the ticket prices in the mornings are much cheaper too.

4. Eating out

I prefer a relaxed lunch to fighting for parking slots in Koregaon Park at dinner time.

5. Overnight sojourns

There’s nothing more harrowing than driving down to Mahableshwar or Mulshi on a long weekend. The whole of Pune and many from Mumbai seem to collectively travel to these places. I prefer to take a day off before the long weekend and travel a day earlier in peace. Then on the return journey while you are on your way home you can watch a sea of humanity travelling in the opposite direction honking furiously and moving at 10 kilometres per hour. Did I mention the availability of good rooms by doing this?

6. Vacations

Would you rather go to Goa during the New Year week when it feels more like Dadar Central? Probably not. I cringe at the idea too. I prefer going to Goa in the off season during the rains. It is peaceful, greener and probably three times cheaper than the Christmas week. It does rain a lot but it is so much more beautiful too.