The Shooting Star – Shivya Nath

I have been following the works of travel blogger Shivya Nath since I found India Untravelled on Google. I wanted to go to Spiti and was looking for places to stay there and this was one experience that I wanted to have. She used to run the site that discovered these homestays before she sold that company to become a digital nomad. Not going to Spiti remains one unchecked item in my bucket list.

I picked up her book hoping to regain my bearings and rediscover my love for travel once again. I was going through a particularly difficult phase at work and hence, even reading the book got postponed for a really long time. I bought the book on September 18, 2018. I made slow progress but it’s finally done.

My travels have mostly been with family. I have travelled solo very few times.

Shivya talks about two journeys in the book. One, were her journeys solo to different parts of the country and across the globe. Another, is the parallel personal journey of overcoming restrictions of society and the ones that she herself placed and overcoming these to become a digital nomad and a travel blogger that she is today.

Her journeys across the world are well covered on her eponymous blog, The Shooting Star. But, I’d recommend the book more for reading about her parallel personal journey. For anyone who travels, one knows that this is a given as we travel more and more. But, it is still wonderful to uncover. Resistance from parents, hesitation before taking the entrepreneurial jump, worries about safety while travelling solo, meeting strange people in strange lands, discovering the things that matter to us the most and perhaps most importantly chasing the dreams and turning them into reality. It is this part of the book that I really enjoyed.

Chapter 1 Tritiya

Ayn was sitting at the console today. She got a notification for a Longreads story on the beginning of the Quantum Computing on the Moon. She opened the notification to read the story.

Quantum Computing came to the Moon with the Indian company, Pradnya Labs. Pradnya Labs was founded by Pradeep in 2020 after he quit his banking career. He started it for teaching Artificial Intelligence and Machine Learning to his peers. He found that more money was to be made by teaching others than the application of these skills in an industry that youngsters were getting into than someone who lacked experience in the field.

Pradeep turned out to be a much better teacher than an employee or a worker in India’s software industry. Pradnya Labs then expanded into digital literacy drives for the elderly. This Pradnya Labs saw as Corporate Social Responsibility as the company grew big in Southern India and went public in 2024. However, students who left Pradeep came back to join him in India as teachers. Along with them came two important people – Shruti and Sriram.

Shruti worked with Microsoft in the US and was working with its Quantum Computing division. Sriram came from Tesla and came from its famous Batteries Division. In a famous meeting held in a tea shop in Palakkad, they encouraged Pradeep to foray into Quantum Computing. First, they held classes for Quantum Computing core processes.

Pradeep learnt that Quantum Computers would not sit in people’s hands like ordinary computers. These would be installed in the cloud and would communicate with people’s devices through broadband. From the profits that Pradnya Labs made up to 2025 and raising money from family and friends, Pradnya Labs founded it Quantum Computing Division with Shruti heading the same.

In 2026, Pradnya Labs produced the first quantum computer, called Adi. Pradeep thought that putting these quantum computers in the sothern pole of Lunar craters would provide them with natural cooling. The Aitkens basin was identified. He spoke with Indian Space Research Organisation (ISRO) Chairman, Pavan. Pavan was not sure if Pradeep had a working idea and hence called his colleague at the Indian Institute for Information Technology (IIIT) Hyderabad, Mukunth for setting up a demonstration. Adi was setup with the quantum computer built at IIIT and was test run. Adi outperformed the IIIT-Q by 15 seconds.

Pavan asked Pradeep how they hoped to communicate with the Moon? Pradeep said a relay satellite would be placed near the Moon and would re-send the signal to Earth. Although, Pavan was not fully convinced, he agreed to place one Adi on the Moon’s Aitkens basin.

Meanwhile, Sriram was working away in a nearby lab in Hyderabad to build Tesla style battery packs within which the quantum computer could be carried to the Lunar South pole. He added a communications module. The body of the Adi-packs were tested in ISRO labs in Bengaluru. After they came through successfully, the first Adi-packs were launched to the Aitkens crater in 2025.

Through 2026, ISRO, IIIT and Pradnya Labs tested the relay system and found that the speed that Adi got was lost in communication with Earth. Dwitiya was launched in December 2026. Developed in the Pradnya Q Labs in Coimbatore, Dwitiya was faster than IIIT-Q by 83 seconds. ISRO launched a Dwitiya pack to the Aitkens basin in 2027. Happy with the results, Pradnya Labs got orders for Dwitiyas themselves as well as for time for use on the Lunar Dwitiyas.

Meanwhile Sriram got in touch with his former boss at Tesla and through him got Pradeep to talk to Elon Musk. Pradeep asked Musk for a redesign of their Starlink satellites to provide a way to receive data from the Moon and relay it to Earth. Working through 2027 and 2028, the Starlink 2.5 satellites were launched by SpaceX in 2029. These provided improved speed, better data crunching and faster applications. With the advent of this, many of the other service providers in India started gaining an equal footing.

Pradnya Labs’ profits soared. In 2030, Isha Ambani of Jio approached Pradeep with a new idea. She wanted Jio to build satellites that would relay the information from the lunar Dwitiyas back to Earth. Pradeep shared that they were working on Tritiya. One Tritiya would launch next year. But, one demonstration at the Pradnya Labs Quantum Computer simulator meant she paid for the construction of three more Tritiyas exclusively for use of Jio. In addition, she also paid Exseed Space for the construction of 25 Jiosats that would relay the information for users in the Indian subcontinent.

A total of five Tritiyas were launched to lunar surface at the Aitkens basin. Two were used for scientific data crunching for science institutions in India. Three were used by Jio. They said the three lunar data centers took care of half their data center needs on Earth.

It was one of the Tritiya that had predicted that an asteroid was to hit Earth in 2040. Ayn was one of the few human beings that left on the spacecraft one year before impact was predicted. Today was the day when the asteroid would hit Earth.

James Clear: Akrasia

From James Clear’s blog:

Akrasia is the state of acting against your better judgment. It is when you do one thing even though you know you should do something else. Loosely translated, you could say that akrasia is procrastination or a lack of self-control. Akrasia is what prevents you from following through on what you set out to do.

An important thing to look out for is:

Time inconsistency refers to the tendency of the human brain to value immediate rewards more highly than future rewards.

This is one thing that I’m trying to fix:

This is one reason why the ability to delay gratification is such a great predictor of success in life. Understanding how to resist the pull of instant gratification—at least occasionally, if not consistently—can help you bridge the gap between where you are and where you want to be.

My Gita by Devdutt Pattanaik

Devdutt Pattanaik is a writer whose books I love to read because he interprets puranas in their modern sense. It makes sense to me. It sometimes makes better sense than their traditional interpretation as I have heard.

My Gita is Pattanaik’s interpretation of the Gita. He begins the book by stating that the poem is not to be read from start to finish as one would a book or a poem today. He suggests that the wisdom is scattered throughout the verses of the Gita. Traditionally, the Gita would be expounded by a Guru to his disciple by teaching him only the relevant sections with explanations. Not the whole poem in the form it is read today.

Accordingly, Pattanaik’s book is arranged in a scheme such that the Hindu philosophy expounded in the Gita could be more clearly grasped and better understood.

The book is a tiring read. I have read various voluminous books like Radhakrishnan on the Upanishads and even his Dhammapada. I have even read Pattanaik’s earlier books but none have tired me so. It’s difficult to keep up with a thread of thinking in the book. This made my reading progress slow and tiring as I found it hard to grasp concepts.

The way to overcome this difficulty is to skim through the book quickly the first time to get a basic idea before reading the book understanding the depth of the book. The book is a complete guide to the Gita with context, several interpretations offered including alternative versions but finally is Pattanaik’s interpretation of the Gita.

Back to Reading

I had a promotion exam in the middle of July. This meant essentially that all of my reading went for a toss in the build up. A lax period arose as I stopped following many things that I had followed dilligently till then. I also had no list of things that I did follow. This meant that after the exam I was enveloped in a period where I did not know what to do. I raked my mind and nothing came to me or rather everything came at me at the same moment. At this moment, I just let things be and let them slide for a while till about day before yesterday.

I picked up Sadhguru Jaggi Vasudev’s Inner Engineering book and went through a few pages just highlighting them. I did not read it with any focus. But, after having read it, I felt happy for a few moments at having begun reading again.

p.s. I hope this has also started me blogging again.

This Was A Man

The finale of Jeffrey Archer’s Clifton Chronicles came out in the first few days of November and I finished it in four days flat. Then I went on to my next book, Retire Inspired and totally forgot to review the book here. I got an SMS from Crossword yesterday that Archer was visiting the Kemps Corner store yesterday at 6 PM. Work at the bank meant that I could not go to Kemps Corner to meet him. 😦 But, it reminded me that I had to write the review on my blog.

This Was a Man is the last in the series of the Clifton Chronicles. The book was a disappointment for me as a finale. The rest of the series was full of twists and turns and was much more fast paced. Many episodes running through the Chronicles find closure but the book seems to slow down as Harry Clifton ages. As a whole, the series is wonderful.

If you love Jeffrey Archer and his brand of writing you have to get this book and the whole Chronicles.

The Life-Changing Magic of Tidying Up

You would not think that you need a book to learn how to tidy up. When your mother asks you to tidy your room, you tidy the room. When you think back, you had not paid enough attention to remember how you learnt to tidy the way you did. You either picked it up from here and there – mostly from your parents and then improved over the years if you paid any attention or it became worse.

I picked up the book The Life-Changing Magic of Tidying Up: The Japanese Art of Decluttering and Organizing from the Kindle store after watching a couple of videos of it’s author, Marie Kondo. I first saw the video on Talks @ Google and two NHK videos featuring her work with two clients(#1 & #2).

The English translation of the Japanese book is a pleasant easy read. The book takes you through all the steps in a clear and concise manner, if you want to try the method for a few days. I read the book in totem before deciding to try it out. My parents had just moved out of home and left it to me and my wife.

After reading the book, I spent the afternoon explaining KonMarie’s whole process to my wife. We disposed a lot of clothes and began to try folding clothes as explained in the book. My wife though, kept tidying the way she always went about doing it. After a few more tries, I reverted as well. I think the book is best read by someone who actually tidies the home. It’s probably good to watch the #1 or #2 video that I pointed above to you before reading the book. Else it’s just another book read this year and you keep tidying the way you always did.

 

 

The Bestseller She Wrote

It had the bestseller she wrotecompletely skipped my mind that Ravi Subramanium’s latest book would be out in mid-October. As soon as I saw that his latest book was available, I boug
ht it on my Kindle and finished it in less than 3 days, as I have the other books that he has written.

I have enjoyed his writing style from the second book that he wrote. His writing is pacy while engaging. You begin the book and with his short chapters, there is immediate reading progress that you enjoy. In these short chapters or bursts he develops the broad sketches of the outline of his story and continues in the same speed till almost the very end. Then he begins slowing down and his finer strokes make their appearance and then the string weaves through all the threads to complete a beautiful fabric of a story.

To this, he adds a set of contemporary characters and events that makes his work easier to relate to to a contemporary audience.

His storytelling is a way of unravelling that I can enjoy once in a while. To me, it offered a nice change in pace and subject and I thoroughly enjoyed reading Ravi Subramanium’s latest offering.

DROP

dropOver the whole of last week I was watching a set of videos posted on YouTube of talks given by the brahmacharis of the Chinmaya Mission. This Dusshera, Dhanya and I visited the Chinmaya Mission campus in Powai, Mumbai. It was from the bookstore there that we picked up the novel, DROP. Dusshera is about dropping your negative qualities and attachments, picking up positive qualities and then fortifying it all with knowledge, as per one of the videos I watched. This was perhaps in the back of my mind as I picked up DROP.

The book was written by a group of Chinmaya Yuvaveers and weaves a story around a journey that a bunch of young people take as they travel “within”.

I liked the book as a whole and would definitely recommend that other people read it as well. It comes bundled with a sort of workbook that I am yet to go through.

I think the book has a Hinduism under-current that I am not sure if the authors were trying to fight against in some stage and were trying to glorify in certain stages. Weaving together principles of Hinduism, facts and fiction is a very tight rope walk and I think that these Chinmaya Yuvaveers have done it pretty well.

The book offers a nice parallel between the journey inwards and the outward journey one along the banks of the Ganges to it’s source.