Thursday, April 4, 2013

Better Tools give Better Productivity

i finally decided to have a proper working setup for my work last December. And as part of that inititative I invested money in a low cost(200 INR) keyboard and a basic minimum costing ergonomic chair.

The keyboard was an Intex Corona keyboard from a local gadget shop here in Pune. And the chair was a basic computer chair, a 3 line office chair costing 2700 INR bought from Pyramid Seating Systems -

The effect on my productivity was seen instantaneously and this has changed a lot of things for me in the last 3-4 months.

So I decided to improve this further and have got a better keyboard - its a Microsoft Keyboard K120 worth 500 INR. And it arrived just now.
The reasons for buying this are two fold -
A) The other keyboard purchase was experimental and hence low cost - and due to that the keys were sort of clicky and the 'b' key stoppped working.
B) Since that experiment succeeded, I decided to go for a proper equipment, as I believe that the trade that gives you your livelihood should be done well with the right kind of tools and it is worth parking money in any endeavour that helps you achieve this.

And this blog post is also to test out the new keyboard - Indeed feather touch, Microsoft is still good with its hardware :) Loving the feather touch after adjusting with low cost keyboard for a long time now. This is the Microsoft K120 keyboard and can be ordered from flipkart here - Microsoft Keyboard K120

Here's to more productivity and to more blogging.

Monday, April 1, 2013

Two Years Up

Its been a full two years since I got married and just one more day left to complete 2 years since I shifted base to Pune.  And after the largely popular post about how the first two months went, I have been regularly asked,reminded, and nudged about writing some more report card-type posts. But I have consciously avoided writing such posts, for the simple reason that it becomes cliched. Its easy to get caught into a trap of type-cast and I dint want to do it.

But, this March, I crossed a major milestone, which I felt was blog-worthy - so hear it is.

This March I complete 2 years of the 'journey' called 'marriage'. And the one word that describes this time period entirely is "learnxperience".

Yes, You read that right - "learnxperience" - i.e. learning and experience both achieved acquired in the same duration of time.

As you may have read in the previous post in this topic, the first year pretty much went in figuring out how to live alone, how to run a house, how to manage your emotion in order to maintain a calm environment in the house, how to do shopping ( a science indeed, and I am not talking clothes and cute handbags here), and coming face to face with all the funky differences that mankind can create in following the same religion and celebrating the same set of festivals.

And I thought that was the hard part. Yeah, everything was like nearly setup, and I just had to continue living things that way, easy right? Absolutely wrong. It was after this that it dawned upon me that sustaining initiatives and efforts started towards a goal is WAAAAYYY tougher than actually establishing them in the first place.

And at every step of this journey, I more than realized how much every step in your life is not only the actions involved (moving your hands and legs to act that out, shopping, eating, going for a vacation, just everything), but much more the intention to do that act well, and the positive will power to get things done.

Living with your parents gives you an unfair cushioned advantageous environment - where you only act, i.e go through the various activities that compose your life. You dont need to think if it is right or wrong, you dont need to think if that is relevant or not, because you got your ass covered, to use an American Idiom. i.e. You know you have a back up, or someone to watch you and atleast raise an alert if you are doing wrong.

Imagine after smoothly sailing in a ship for a good number of days, you wake up one fine day, to find that the navigating compass on your deck is gone. *Poof*, just gone. And you have no clue how to get it back? Thats the feeling I have been dealing with since the last two years, the sense of hopelessness much reduced now(although not gone entirely), now that I have picked up reading signs and a bit of directions.

So lets take a very objective view of the gains and the losses so far :-
First, I have gained lots of insights after I have ventured off on my own.
1. Running a home(not just a house) is not very different from running a startup. You are always on a tight budget and under constant pressure to deliver in various fronts at the same time- the various fronts being food, hygiene(cleanliness of house),professional work, and emotional company.

2.Communicating in a language is way different from knowing the language. You can know 10,000 words in a language, and yet communicate nothing using all those wonderful words.

3. Going through the actions of reading a book, or watching a movie together, or going out of town DOES NOT MEAN it is going to be a joyful 'being together' experience unless all concerned parties' mind and intention is in SYNC with that task. It takes much team mental effort to function as a family.

"Unifying under one agenda","participating and contributing to an activity","involving oneself in common tasks despite various levels of interest","doing things for the sake of the other people's pleasure around you","understanding and appreciating the intention behind the action done" - I used to take such things for granted that people around you will do such things back for you given you do the same things to them. But the last two years have been a jolt out of the blue in this regard.
And as of today, I am sort of disillusioned with some of these things, because how much ever you do such things, if other party involved has no inkling about the same, you are only going to get a cold response. And I have learnt to live my life inspite of the conditions that exist around me.

The good things are that my confidence levels in general have zoomed way up, and this reflects in my professional work as well. I now proudly call myself "Systems-In-Charge" of my home, not a homemaker ( the word homemaker is a totally misleading word, one person never 'makes' and can never 'make' a home, everyone involved together 'makes' a home).

I have always had great faith in networking with people around even if they may not exactly be "your type" of person, and this belief has been vindicated time and again in these two years.

I experimented with a couple of hobbies, and I am member of the very active "Postcrossing" community in Pune. Search in Google about "Postcrossing".

I also realized that in addition to food, water and air, I need music to exist and conduct myself in a sane manner. And the need to express my musical ideas has grown A LOT. So now I learn mandolin. And from being super tone deaf I have progressed to a stage where I can decode simple tunes and play them on the mandolin, the graph has been in the upward direction.

I have also learnt that nobody will take care of you or say "You go take a break for a while". And that it is all the more important to ensure a way by which your physical and mental health is taken care of. So even if it burns a little hole in my pocket, I have joined a yoga class, as means of both physical and mental healing and a compulsory personal time-out where I dont have to think of any matters of responsibility.

I have gained significant knowledge(earlier my level was -ve :D ) in dealing with finances and investing money, thanks to a lot of handholding and mentoring by the Mister. From feeling super proud of having an SB a/c balance,and one single RD, to reading through mutual fund papers(and actually understanding them) and accessing bank lockers with elan, I have indeed come a very long way in the last two years.

I bought myself a 2 wheeler last year, with my own money. I actually 'own' a high value property and heck, I even have someone working for me :D, the scooter wash guy. :D

Needless to say, My cooking skills have skyrocketed. Highly inspired by the show "Masterchef Australia" and with the mission to have a "LEFT-OVER free" kitchen, I set out to establish a lot of standards and metrics to the adhoc measurements approach that my mom taught me. Make no mistake here, My mom is absolutely brilliant cook, but like all geniuses, her descriptions about measurements are at best vague and are very easy to pick up if you are at her level. But for a total algorithmically-wired beginner like me, her instructions would totally bounce off my head. So I set out to fix this by establishing standard measures, such that even if this is the first time you are entering a kitchen in your life, you can pull off a reasonably good tasting meal by following a fixed set of steps. And the validity,the effect and the quality of this initiative can be judged by the fact that the Mister now happily cooks up rice,rasam,a vegetable, a payasam for two people. And Yes, you are welcome for a feast any day by our budding in-house chef, the enthusastic Mister. :)

Last but not the least, the most obvious thing I have gained is "weight", mostly due to wrong eating practices driven by a foolish state of mind. I am correcting this right now.

These are the gains. The losses have been more in the realm of the mind, than in the physical world.
I have lost attachment to any particular way of life. My personal hobby and work goals are the ONE and only drivers to the "way of life" I lead.

I have lost attachment to the expectation that the family will understand what you are saying. Primarily because, the family that I actively dealt with has changed totally. Even otherwise, I dont expect anyone to understand what I say or intend. I try saying once, I show it in action twice. After that I move on with life. IMO, Life is too short to be caught up with these things.

I have lost the entire set of friends that I had, due to sheer geographical location. I am almost nearly irrelevant to all of my personal and tech friends as they are all in Chennai. I have made a few new friends both personal and tech related here in Pune, but its still very low.  And before some of my cousins start singing the "this is what you get when you work from home" chord, I have a decent network in Pune, but a network !=(not equal to) friends. I guess it takes a lifetime to build friendships. And this really throws me in a wonky mental state when the Mister gets outings with friends where I am barred from participating. Incidents like these really rub salt into the wound, I am still learning to become detached from such feelings.

That is the end to this ultra long post summarizing the two years that have gone by. And yes, the apartment where I live now definitely looks and feels like a home than what it was 2 years ago.

And how much ever I may camouflage it, MOM, you are the one that makes any place feel like home, and brings that family environment. And I MISS YOUR AURA around me. I miss the ENERGY that fills the house when you and/or DAD are around. No thing or person or activity or effort can ever fill that space. EVER.