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Personal

Working from Home

For the past three weeks, I have been working from home. We are faced with a global pandemic that, as on today, has affected more than 5,00,000 people all across the globe and more than 800 people in India. My work place allowed us to work from home during the period. The period of work from home was extended after the Prime Minister of India announced a 21-day national lock down.

Photo by bongkarn thanyakij on Pexels.com

Before I got to work from home, schools and colleges shut down. Then IT companies in Pune asked its employees to work from home. Our fiber optic cable based internet provider faced issues for a few days but seems to have stabilized two days into the 21 day lock down. Over the last few days, there have been power outages where I had to switch to my Jio hotspot to access the Internet to continue to work.

My nearly 3 year old daughter does not understand why things are shut down. The concept of a lock down is alien to her. Her explanation for why the school is shut is that her teacher is asleep. At the rate at which the lock down is getting extended, I think her class teacher will soon compete with Kumbhakarna.

Despite having heard podcasts about working from home and having read various articles and online websites about working from home, I did not find myself prepared for this transition. Since we live in a 2 bedroom apartment, I was able to assign one bedroom for me. However, it has been getting more and more difficult to demarcate work time and home time. They have been fluid so far.

Internet speed and power outages have affected my productivity besides the usual transition time to getting used to a new setting. Focusing on work when you can hear your family members next door is difficult. I have been getting better at tuning out the noise as time passes.

A few months back, I had started listening to the Distributed podcast started by Matt Mullenweg (co-founder of WordPress, that powers this blog) that spoke of how to re-imagine the work place of the future when everyone was at home. His company, Automattic is totally distributed.

Om Malik, founder of GigaOm, wrote a piece a few days back about working from home. The article links to further resources that might help in your quest to work from home. He had started a website called WebWorkerDaily way back in 2006 to think about the distributed future of our work place.

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Personal

Kids

I’ve subscribed to Ryan Holiday’s daily email newsletter, Daily Dad since I heard about it on his podcast with Peter Attia. Before this, I had struggled with answering questions related to bringing kids into such a violent world and the curbs on our freedom that they impose. In his newsletter edition on March 13, titled The Trade off is worth it (you can listen to the edition as a podcast) answered this question for me.

This is the last paragraph in the newsletter:

Most of the freedom I had before kids,” Paul Graham wrote, “I never used. I paid for it in loneliness, but I never used it.” It’s true for you too. It’s true for all of us. We’ve paid a high price for these kids, but we have gotten—we will keep getting—so much. 

The quote above is from Paul Graham’s essay on Having Kids, which is also a great read. That is a longer answer to Holiday’s concise one.

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Personal

Humans at their Best

Joaquin Phoenix
Image: Harald Krichel, Wikimedia

Joaquin Phoenix won the Oscar 2020 for the Actor in the Leading Role for his performance as Arthur Fleck in the Hollywood movie, JOKER! But, what I liked was this insight into the current world scenario:

I think at times we feel, or were made to feel, that we champion different causes, but for me, I see commonality. I think, whether we’re talking about gender inequality or racism or queer rights or indigenous rights or animal rights, we’re talking about the fight against injustice. We’re talking about the fight against the belief that one nation, one people, one race, one gender or one species has the right to dominate, control and use and exploit another with impunity.

But human beings, at our best, are so inventive and creative and ingenious, and I think that when we use love and compassion as our guiding principles, we can create, develop and implement systems of change that are beneficial to all sentient beings and to the environment.

Listen to his whole speech on the Oscars website.

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Personal

Pune Coffee Brewers Club meetup

I first heard of coffee brewers when I read Mehul’s Twitter update that he was participating in a brewing competition and came in at no 3. Coffee brewing is basically the process of making coffee from the stage of coffee beans to a concoction that you can consume.

Today, we met at The Fat Labrador, a cafe situated in Bavdhan, Pune.

Coffee devices and brewing paraphernalia that we used today. Image Credit: Pradeep Mohandas

This is the second meetup of Pune’s Coffee Brewers Club. We started out with discussing coffee recipes that some of the brewers had arrived at ostensibly after a lot of experimentation with a lot of coffee devices. There was a lot of talk of mgs of coffee, minute-second readings of the time they allowed it to brew and broadly methods by which coffee was brewed (immersion and pour over).

After that introduction, Mehul spoke of the factors that affected a good coffee output: temperature, pressure and time. We then got to try both the methods using a pour over method and an Aeropress.

We tried tasting different beans that Mehul had carried with him from Mumbai. After a few rounds of this, we got to try out an espresso from a hand pressed espresso machine.

Mehul ended the session on how us newcomers could begin getting a glimpse into the world of coffee brewing. He suggested getting the coffee that is freshly roasted (3-4 days old roasted coffee). I was assured that Indian roasters do not usually sell stale coffee. This is to be consumed over the period of next 3-4 weeks for best effect.

He suggested beginning with a simple process of coffee brewing. Get fresh ground coffee put it in a cup of boiling water, let it brew for about 3-4 minutes and then consume. The next step would be to have an aeropress to make the coffee. Aeropress is considered a very versatile, cheap and easy to carry device that does most of the functions that a coffee brewer is looking at and hence quite highly recommended. It comes at a price range of about three to four thousand.

The next step up is getting a simple grinder. Mehul had got his off AliExpress for about INR 900. When we reach a place where we can’t turn the grinder anymore, we reach the zero setting. As we turn, the grinder churns out coarser coffee. If you plan to go ahead, you can invest in better grinders as they turn out more consistent and get control over the size of the coarseness of the coffee beans. Prefer manual over electronics.

The next investment is in a measuring pad. The cheapest one is off Amazon that costs INR 200-300. This helps to measure the amount of coffee beans you take. This too gets complicated with higher price where a timer gets added on which helps you measure brewing time.

The next investment suggested for your upward spiral into the world of coffee brewing is a goose-neck kettle. This is useful to control the way in which water is poured on the ground coffee beans. These comes with insertable thermometers that helps you control the temperature of water that is used for your coffee.

I am not sure whether I am going to personally follow through with coffee brewing beyond say South Indian filter coffee. However, I’ll let these notes remain for future reference. I also got hold of ground filter coffee powder from the Fat Labrador that I will try out. I had a good filter coffee and Bombay Masala sandwich after the meetup.

Great to meet Mehul after a long time and nice to meet fellow coffee enthusiasts in a new city. If you find any errors in the notes above, they are most likely mine, and request you to leave them in the comment section to help me fix them.

(added later) Mehul shared links on the Pune CBC WhatsApp group for some of the products he recommended. Sharing here for the sense of completion:

  1. Cheapest scale. 1 gms increment. Max 10 kg.
  2. Scale that Can measure in 0.5 gms increments.
  3. Scale that can measure in 0.1 gms increment.
  4. Simple gooseneck kettle, no thermometer.
  5. Simple gooseneck kettle, with thermometer.
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Personal

Rithika’s Vidyarambham

Vidyarambham is celebrated at the end of Navratri on Vijayadashmi day. It is the auspicious ceremony to introduce kids to learn alphabets, music, dance, start a business, before going to school etc.

The priest who conducts the vidyarambham writes, “Hari Sri Ganapataye Namah” on the child’s tongue with a golden ring. She is also made to write on rice.

A picture of Rithika writing in rice during her Vidyarambham. Image Credit: Pradeep Mohandas
Rithika writing in rice during her Vidyarambham. Image Credit: Pradeep Mohandas

As we planned to send Rithika to school next month, we conducted her vidyarambham on August 25, 2019 at the Ayyappa Temple in Dhanori.

Picture of Rithika with her father. Image Credit: Dhanya Vallat
Rithika with her father. Image Credit: Dhanya Vallat

Best wishes to Rithika as she begins her life long journey of learning from her father.

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Personal

Shri Krishna Janmashtami

Shri Krishna Jayanthi is celebrated as the day when Krishna was born. This falls on the day of Rohini Nakshatram in the month of Chingam, as per the Malayalam calendar. This fell on August 23, 2019.

We celebrate this day by decorating the pooja room, undertake fasts, offer Prasad like Appam and Palpayasam , chant the Vishnu Sahasranamam and play devotional songs. Shri Krishna Jayanthi is also known as Ashtami-Rohini, Janmashtami or Gokulashtami.

Photo of Our pooja place decorated for Shri Krishna Jayanthi. Photo Credit: Pradeep Mohandas
Our pooja place decorated for Shri Krishna Jayanthi. Credit: Pradeep Mohandas

It was a working day for Pradeep ettan. After he returned from office, we went together to visit the Ayyappan temple at Dhanori. The statue of Krishna was beautifully decorated with sandalwood.

Photo of The Sanctum Sanctorum at the Ayyappa Temple, Dhanori, Pune. Photo Credit: Dhanya Vallat
The Sanctum Sanctorum at the Ayyappa Temple, Dhanori, Pune. Credit: Dhanya Vallat
Photo of the Sanctum Sanctorum of the ISKCON Temple, Camp, Pune. Photo Credit: Dhanya Vallat
Sanctum Sanctorum of the ISKCON Temple, Camp, Pune. Credit: Dhanya Vallat

From there we went to the ISKCON temple in Camp, Pune. The temple had created a carnival like atmosphere and depicted the life of Krishna in life size displays. The statue and sanctum sanctorum was beautifully decorated with colourful flowers.

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Status Updates

Moved to Pune

I moved jobs and joined a new company in Pune on July 29. Three days later, D and R moved in to our new rental.

Video of the first ceremonial milk boiling done at our new home in Pune.

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Memories Personal

Aurangabad

We decided to spend a two day holiday at Aurangabad. Aurangabad is close to 150 km from our current base at Lonar. We had a pleasant three day stay in Aurangabad. We went mostly for buying stuff for our home. Pictures are from our stay in the hotel.


Aurangabad reminded us so much of Mumbai because it has one of the only nearby malls. We also drove rather leisurely and enjoyed the ride with music. We didn’t want to rush back to Lonar and stayed on for another day.

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Status Updates

Hi! From Lonar

It’s September. I’ve moved to Lonar and moved my family here for work. It has a hypervelocity crater and the work doesn’t give me too much time to spend there.

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Status Updates

Back to Mumbai

I went through quite a series of unfortunate events the past couple of weeks which put me off wanting to update anyone about anything. The latest of which has me in bed with a sprain in the back with a very slow recovery.

The only good news has been that I’m back with D and the kid after a separation of 7 months.

In the period while D was away, I expected to be more involved in stuff I was interested in. But, I went through a deep dive asking myself what I really knew about things I prided myself on knowing. The answer came back as not much. So began a process again of narrowing focus and looking at things I wanted to take deep dives in and things that just infatuated me at that moment.

I think back now on the 7 months as lost months where I lost an opportunity to know things better than I already had. Now, the focus is on the kid and I’ve put aside my own interests. Focussing on work and home and more on home than work.

October 20, 2017 Mumbai