Weekly updates from Israel

When I first got to Israel, I hoped to keep family and friends updated about all that was going on through regular blog posts, just like I had in Japan. But after writing about my first month, I never got to writing again! It’s too bad, because there’s been so much going on and I feel myself changing everyday. So starting this week, I’m going to write weekly highlights, which are going to touch on all the interesting things I do every week. Unlike my previous posts, this is not going to involve a day by day account of what I ate, places I saw et al. It’s just going to be some very quick updates and photos. If you want to get notified about these posts, just subscribe to my blog and you’ll get an email everytime there’s a new post here!

How to subscribe:

Rahgiri: Dancing on the streets

The Inner Circle at CP

I went to Rahgiri today with my parents and sister at CP. The idea is for people to reclaim their streets. So every Sunday, the inner circle is blocked from traffic from 6 am to 10 am. This was the the third week since it was started. There were people walking, running, cycling, skating. There were some kids playing football on the side and cricket in the parking lot. Sponsors such as reebok had set up zumba and aerobics session and there were crowds of people aping the instructors on makeshift stages. Dancing on the street was so much fun. I dont think I’ve done it before. There was yoga happening at one place but that didn’t seem too popular. There was a gym equipment area too. You could rent bicycles for free, but there was a long line. There were performances too, one of them by Papa CJ. Times of India had initiated this and had heavily advertised everywhere by putting up billboards. There is no way you can go to CP on a Sunday morning and not know that Times of India has organized Rahgiri. 

All India Skating Association had set up in a small part of the Inner Circle

A biker among the crowd (and TOI adverts in the wheels of the bike)

Gyming in the parking lot


No fitness event in India is complete without cricket

After spending some time hanging out and walking around the inner circle, we went to get breakfast at a popular south indian restuarant nearby called Saravana Bhavan. This proved to be a popular choice and we saw several other people in sports attire coming for breakfast here. By 9 am, there was already a waiting line.

I loved seeing people out on the streets and so many health freaks and adventure lovers. India has not always had so many such people (atleast not at the forefront) and it was nice to see a gradual increase. It reminded me that in a country of 1 billion people, even if 0.1% people show an interest in something that’s 1 million people, which is a huge number and market in itself.

Being used to Japan and Singapore, I was initially being careful to walk in the right place and obey the rules, but a few minutes of being at Rahgiri reminded me that this is india, where you are free to do what you want. Not that things were chaotic, infact they were quite orderly by India standards. But I loved whatever little chaos and disorder there was.

The implications of being a democracy: Social activists take advantage of open streets and have people scribble anti-rape messages on the ground with chalk

Things I don’t understand about the workplace

Disclaimer: All of the following may come off as highly sarcastic. It is not. My questions are not rhetoric questions. If you have answers, please comment and let me know. You will be doing me a favor. Really, I mean it. 

1. Formal Clothing

There are a number of social norms in the workplace that I don’t understand. I can’t help but wonder where these norms originated from.

Formal clothing for example. Why do people need to wear suits and ties to office? I don’t see why you can’t wear casuals to work and dress up for meetings with external clients. Whenever I dress up for anything, a lot of my attention and energy is on my clothes. I actually find myself working best when I’m in my most comfortable clothes which require least attention.

2. Casual Fridays

Another related thing I don’t understand is casual fridays. Apart from the fact that there is only one day of the week allocated to casual wear, why is it friday? Friday is probably the happiest day of the week anyway. If anything, wouldn’t it make sense to wear casuals on Mondays to ease the blues of starting a new week after the weekend?

3. Separate Offices

Apart from clothes, I wonder why executives have separate offices. Do they need more silence or privacy to do their work than other people in the company? Or do they have more private meetings? Separate rooms for executives often just increase the distance and hierarchy among employees and I can’t understand why there can’t be separate meeting rooms or private rooms, kind of like libraries in colleges, which can be used by anyone in need.

4. Fixed timings

The 9-5 timing is also a strange phenomenon to me. Different people have different times at which they are most productive. So why force them to work between 9-5? Why not just let decide on their own work timings? Maybe meetings which require everyone to be physically present at office could be between a designated time (like 9-5), but apart from that, as long as people do their work on time, I don’t see why they need to work in specified hours.

5. Fixed Workplace

Infact, if you really think about it, a lot of jobs today shouldn’t require people to show up at office at all. They can just work from wherever they are. It would save a lot of commute time and money. They could go to work if they want, but unless they need to work with a team or attend meetings, they don’t need to show up at a specified location everyday.

Rediscovering Home

Today’s the seventh day of summer break. I’m in New Delhi visiting family and friends. And so far, its not been half as monotonous as I expected. Having lived away for a year now, I realized that even though I spent 19 years of my life in this country, I know very little about it. So for the 20 days that I’m here before flying off to Japan, I decided to do something new every day.

DAY 1: Tried Darjeeling Tea

DAY 2: Roadside Chaat and trying a new indo-chinese restaurant with family (right)

DAY 3: Lunch at Johnny Rockets and Frozen Yogurt at Red Mango, both new places for me!
DAY 4: A virtual Japanese immersion; Japanese short films (Tokyo!-bottom left and Interior Design!-top left) and a novel by Murakami (right)
DAY 4: Solo shopping for gifts at Dilli Haat 

DAY 5: Exploring old Delhi: Chandni Chowk (top left), Chai (bottom left) and Paan (bottom center)

DAY 5: Oxford Bookstore (top left) and Cha Bar for lunch 

DAY 6: Visiting my friend’s university and going to a nearby college hangout for lunch! 

DAY 6: A book and movie that I’d been putting off for the longest time 

Ofcourse, this required a great deal of discipline on my part. It’s hard to step out of my comfort zone in a place where there are so many comfortable options. Going to a new restaurant and taking the risk of being potentially disappointed by it is tough when there are 20 other options that I know will unfailingly please me. Nevertheless, it is a skill to look for uncomfortable and new things to do where everything is so familiar. The past 6 days have taught me things that I thought I already knew. It has been about unlearning and re-learning. Change the perspective from which you view things, and suddenly, everything will be new all over again.

Procrastination is Good

I’m procrastinating. I convince myself that I haven’t blogged for a while and I must immediately do so. I  remember not thinking about my blog for weeks at a go. But when loaded with presentations, projects and the headache of packing, my blog seems more important than ever.

I think of the books I need to read, and the Japanese language classes I need to take in preparation of my study abroad in Tokyo. I know that in 24 hours, when I’m officially done with the projects and presentations, I will forget the books and classes, because I’ll be walking around the dorms looking for friends to talk to. I know that the Big Bang Theory and Mindy Project will take precedence over everything else, even if I have to start repeating old episodes at one point. All the education talks and courses that I’ve listed down for the three weeks at home will be conveniently forgotten when I reach home, and I will instead stalk all my facebook friends to see what they’ve been upto all year.

The long hours in front of the screen will give me a headache. The sitting will deprive me of my appetite. The laziness will make me drowsy. The lost hours will make me guilty.

That sounds pretty bad right? Well, it isn’t. When you fight against procrastination and win, you sometimes wish you could go back to procrastinating once in a while, to letting your mind wander and not doing anything particularly productive. But your brain is fine tuned to always do something that stimulates it, and something that makes your conscience feel good about time well spent. There’s always something better and more productive to do, but at one point, you have to stop and let your brain do nothing for once.

Just another 24 hours before I can close those nudging powerpoint and word documents on my computer and procrastinate other less important things. But right now, I have to go. The powerpoint is calling me.

Hate turned Love

Think about your best friends. Done? Now think about what your first impression was of them.
If you are anything like me, chances are that it wasn’t love at first sight. I have rarely instantly liked the person who I end up being best friends with. Infact, I initially really disliked a lot of my current best friends and may have said some not so nice things about them. Most people who I hate at first sight are the ones who I end up becoming good friends with later.
Also, people who I love at first sight are those who I eventually end up really annoyed and irritated with. I find myself trying to recall why I liked them so much in the first place. Haven’t you had those moments when you look at your friend and wonder why on earth you’re friends with this ridiculously unbearable person.
Until recently, I was absolutely bewildered by this weird trend all my friendships seem to take. But then I realized that I’m perfectly normal and its actually expectations at play. When I hate someone, I expect absolutely nothing from them. They can ignore me and insult me and I wouldn’t care. When I love someone, I expect them to be ideal people whom I’ve dreamt up in my foolish head. The hated ones always turn out to have a better side to them which surprises me, and the loved ones have bad sides which shock me.
This new discovery influences much of my outlook of people and I end up being friends with those whose better side is only starting to show. I already know the ugly part of them. Now it is time to discover their beautiful side.
I guess its safe to say that I don’t believe in love at first sight. It has deceived me so many times. But hate at first sight? That’s a whole different story.

The Dark Ages: Revisited?

The last week has been a bad week for the human race. With all the blasts, the earthquake, and yet another atrocious rape case in my city, we are once again reminded that although we have come a long way in terms of science and technology and human development in general, there are still parts of the world which remain far behind the 21st century. 

It makes me realize that the old ways are so etched inside our being that it is often hard for people to let go and give way to the new. In my country, women are not respected as much as men. They are wives and daughters and sisters before they are human beings. And no matter how many women start entering the work world, or start living independent of men, they are still wives and daughters and sisters first. They are to serve  men and take care of them before they take care of themselves. 
Similarly, when it comes to violence and terrorism, it is mostly just a convenient way to get what you want and protest against governments. But at the end of the day, it doesn’t make much sense to harm those who have nothing to do with it. Before the concept of ‘nations’ came around, this is pretty much how things worked. People’s lives were irrelevant compared to rulers’ egos and power. I am not suggesting to compare present day governments to kings who used their citizens as puppets, but I am saying that people’s safety seems to matter less as compared to politics and establishing beliefs. 
People like to think that we’ve come far and are propagators of ‘modern’ thinking. But somewhere inside us, the past remains. While some of us still yearn for power and attention, some of us forget the new times we are now living in and have a tendency to think like we would have in the past. We forget that we still haven’t developed the ability to win against nature. 
Some part of the past, the dark ages lives within us, and there is not much we can do about it. But what we can do is to fight that part of us, and start living in this amazing new world that the human race has built for itself. 

My NOT-TO-DO list for 2013

They call it a “New” Year. But despite that, every 1st of January gives me a deja vu, mainly because of the people talking about New Year Resolutions and how they never last.
Lets face it, not more than 1% of New Year Resolutions last beyond 3rd January (okay, i confess. I made that up).

So this year, I decided to make a list of things NOT to do in 2013. Here goes:

1. Do not stay in Delhi for more than 200 days. TRAVEL!

2. Do not let anything remain the same. I love change. Monotony disturbs me.

3. Do not say things you do not mean, “Lets meet soon”, being a classic example.

4. Do not spend TOO much time in front of the computer or TV. Read more!

And one last thing,


Inspired by PeaBee’s My 2013 To Do List

When Film Makers do things a little differently

I recently went to see Breaking Dawn 2. (Yes, I happen to be a twilight fan )
I sat through the entire first half of the movie cursing the directors and the horrible job they had done with this movie. It was too fast moving and far too inaccurate. I didn’t like it. At all.
Then the second half started and I spent the first few minutes promising myself never to see a movie made by these guys again. But the last 15 minutes of the movie changed my perception entirely.

These guys had done things a little differently from the book, and I really liked that. It came off my black list in a second.

There really is no point watching a movie if you’ve already read the book. You know what’s going to happen in the end. But when movie makers decide to add some twists and turns contrary to the book, it makes seeing these movies worth it.

I know that there are movie critics out there, busy writing negative reviews about how movies often take away the essence of literature, but I love seeing film makers do thing differently, and I wouldn’t mind seeing a Harry Potter movie in which Harry’s parents are still alive.