November 29, 2019

To reply or not to reply...

...on a sticker comment?

Maybe my age is finally showing or maybe it's a wider issue. Either way, I really don't know if the author of a sticker comment expects me to reply. Should I reply with another sticker or should I consider it as a proper comment?

One particular sticker comment that confuses me even further is this sticker:

What does this mean? Okay I know it's abbreviated form of "What's up?" which can be used as a greeting. So are they saying "Hi" or are they actually asking "What's up?" ? In either case, how can "Thanks" be an appropriate response to that! Believe you me, I have seen that response to this sticker quite a few times. So much so that I actually checked if "Sup?" still means the same. Urban Dictionary confirms what I already knew:

A term that cool people use because they are too damn lazy to say What's up. (Too much effort involved there man.)
Can someone please explain to me the proper etiquette here?

P.S.: To make matter worse, it seems my mom frequently uses stickers as a comment. It makes me feel so unhip. Seriously. When did I miss the evolutionary step while my mom picked it up? 

November 28, 2019

The decade 2010-2019

The 2010s are almost over. I started the decade strongly with frequent posts on the blog. I am ending the decade by trying to get back to blogging. The decade saw very few posts. I didn't post anything between 2015-2018. So yeah, there has been a hiatus in the blog. So I decided to expand the decade meme to include a brief highlight of each year in the decade. It was busy few years with a lot of moves and changes. Let's get started.

2010: I affectionately call 2010 as my thesis year as most of the year was dedicated to writing, editing, submitting, and defending my PhD thesis. So I commemorate the year with the picture from my PhD defence day. My advisor, Gary Mavko,  also features in the picture for obvious reason.
I also started a job in 2010. This entailed the first move of the decade from Mountain View, California to Houston, Texas.

2011: 2011 is my Canadian year. I spent about 5 months in Canada to get my H1B stamped. I feel slightly guilty complaining though. Canada is beautiful during the summer months. I did take full advantage of my stay. The picture I picked to commemorate is from Lake Morraine in Banff.

Although I don't count my days in Canada as a move, I did feel nomadic as I stayed in hotels, moved from Ottawa to Calgary with little luggage to sustain me. The year ended with me moving to London in late November. 

2012: The Olympic year. So I crossed off 'attend Olympic' from my bucket list in 2012. Being in London during 2012 meant I attended several Olympic events. The picture shows me supporting the US and the UK during the Olympics.

In yet another move, I moved from East London to West London to be closer to work. 

2013: Another item crossed off from my bucket list: I finally managed to visit Taj Mahal. The picture proves that I have indeed been there and done that. 
I again moved houses. This time I moved from South-West London to North-West London.

2014: Yet another move. This time I stayed in the same area but moved flats. I felt at home for the first time ever since I left Mountain View in 2010. I stayed in this flat for 2 years.

I also earned my British driving licence and bought a car. Life became so much easier. As a result, I started volunteering with professional society, Society of Petroleum Engineers (SPE). 

Career-wise, 2014 is what I call a dead year. I worked on projects that an intern should have been given, and not someone with about seven years of experience. Definitely not to someone with a PhD degree in Rock Physics. Even when I specifically asked to work on the projects that are more closely related to my expertise. Luckily for me, I could still salvage the products and got something useful out of the projects. Not that that made a difference. Thankfully, I had SPE to distract me. 

Oil prices took a dive in mid-2014 which had long term impact on my career. 

2015: I was able to turn around things at the job using my dead-end projects. Again, it didn't help me in the long run but I did earn respect from colleagues. To be honest, that is what is important in the long run, isn't it?

Anyway. A big event of the year was a family wedding. I travelled to India for the wedding. The picture for the year commemorates the wedding.

2016: The redundancy year. As the oil prices continue to be low, I was made redundant from work. It was quite a stressful time. However, I took this opportunity to transition my career from science to trading. I became an analyst on the trading floor. It was a sharp transition with a very steep learning curve but it was a fun, fast-paced working environment that I enjoyed very much.

Since we are counting the number of moves I made in the decade, I moved back from West London to East London to be closer to work.

I also received recognition for my volunteer work with SPE. The picture is from the award ceremony.

2017: The MBA year. The major part of the year was consumed by preparation, application, and admission to the Executive MBA programme at London Business School. despite my busy schedule with my job on the trading floor and my volunteer work with SPE and SCGB, I managed to arrange and connect with most of my classmates even before the classes started. Looking back, I really don't know how I managed that but somehow I did. I even found time to roughly write the draft theory for two papers - one related to energy economics, another in social equality, in the middle of all this. 

In addition to all this, I also managed to buy a flat. My first fixed asset. I moved into my new home in the middle of the year. 

I am sharing two pics for the year. First one is my Executive MBA profile picture. Second is the welcome pack from my mortgage bank. 

2018: The tornado year. Honestly. I can't find a word strong enough to describe the year. It was an upside-down kind of year. A whirlwind. So much so, that parts of it are a blur to me. I can't place the events in their chronological order.

In the normal order of the things, receiving my British citizenship would have been the biggest event of the year. It is still a big event of the year, just not the biggest. In fact, I remember counting down towards the date of the ceremony because it would have meant the end of daily torture.

I resigned from my job. I quit the Executive MBA. I "moved" to India. Well, if you call staying at one place more than a year, then I definitely moved. If not having my stuff counts, then I am just spending time in India. Choose one.

There are so many good things that I want to associate with the year, apart from citizenship. I am picking two messages that I received (hopefully) that I want to keep. 

First came from Google Doodle on the 90th birthday of Dr Maya Angelou

You may write me down in history
With your bitter, twisted lies,
You may trod me in the very dirt
But still, like dust, I'll rise.

Does my sassiness upset you?
Why are you beset with gloom?
’Cause I walk like I've got oil wells
Pumping in my living room.

Just like moons and like suns,
With the certainty of tides,
Just like hopes springing high,
Still I'll rise.

Did you want to see me broken?
Bowed head and lowered eyes?
Shoulders falling down like teardrops,
Weakened by my soulful cries?

Does my haughtiness offend you?
Don't you take it awful hard
’Cause I laugh like I've got gold mines
Diggin’ in my own backyard.

You may shoot me with your words,
You may cut me with your eyes,
You may kill me with your hatefulness,
But still, like air, I’ll rise.

Does my sexiness upset you?
Does it come as a surprise
That I dance like I've got diamonds
At the meeting of my thighs?

Out of the huts of history’s shame
I rise
Up from a past that’s rooted in pain
I rise
I'm a black ocean, leaping and wide,
Welling and swelling I bear in the tide.

Leaving behind nights of terror and fear
I rise
Into a daybreak that’s wondrously clear
I rise
Bringing the gifts that my ancestors gave,
I am the dream and the hope of the slave.
I rise
I rise
I rise.

The second one was a message from Amazon:

2019: The recovery year. Well, that's what it was. The year I did nothing. Unless you count gaining weight as doing something. My medical test reports have been all over the place. As we move towards the end of the year, tests are getting back to normal range. So hopefully I will start the new decade with good health.

I also attended yet another family wedding.

That's my decade done. How was your decade?

November 24, 2019

Week that was (18/11-24/11)

Should I dare proclaim that I will at least write a weekly post from here on? Given my recent past in updating the blog, even I feel it's a bit premature. So let me start by saying that I will TRY to update the blog at least weekly. The inspiration, of course, comes from Sanch's weekly gratitude posts.

So what did I do this week, you ask? Why I learnt and made some golgappe this week. 130 edible golgappes, that is. It took me 3 days to make as many golgappes.

Fortunately, they came out well. Well, the ones that did puff up. It is so satisfying to see them puff up and so frustrating to see them bomb. In any case, I did learn something new this week so that was good. How was your week?

November 10, 2019

I knew there was a reason

Fall cleaning some of the old pictures (hence all the picture posts). Apparently, I have 500GB worth of pictures so I am deleting the bad ones. Almost deleted this one too. I noticed the reason for this picture. The reflection on the coke bottle catches almost a 180degree view of the campus from our department. Can you see it?

Photo Credit: Richa, 2007 (Stanford Campus)

Tickles my funny bone...

This one does. You are here and not there. Apparently, I needed a sign to tell me that... (Fairly sure must be some fire drill stuff but it's still funny! Yep, I am qualifying again)..

Photo Credit: Richa, 2007 (Stanford Campus)


As the green turns to yellow to brown, Fall makes a colourful entry. 

Photo Credit: Richa, 2007 (Stanford Campus)

November 9, 2019

Smart BMI

You learn something new every day. Ok, not every day, every day but quite frequently. As I am so focused on the topic of health, medication, and weight, I searched to see if BMI changes with age. In my head, it should. And, indeed, it does. It is just called Smart BMI. It was launched by the WHO (World Health Organization) on February 01, 2014. And it actually considers age and gender, which make sense.

So now, ladies and gentlemen, instead of aiming for a BMI of 24, one can think about the best BMI for your age. Why does it change, you ask? Well, because biologically we gain weight as we age. Our "normal" weight increases with each passing decade. So how can you expect to weigh what you weighed in your teen when you are 50 years old? You will end up being underweight or even anorexic if you do.

As the figure above shows, the range of good BMI (the green area) increases with age. (you can check your SBMI here. It has the missing scales). Just not that. A low BMI, as shown here, also poses health-risk. I like that. Usually, a low BMI is defined as underweight. It somehow makes people happy. Being underweight, that is. As if it's an accomplishment, a compliment, and not the warning bells as it is supposed to be. At least, this new scale shows that there are health risks associated with a low BMI.

Where do I fit in this, you ask? Well, I am a moderate risk at my current weight. In fact, the WHO describes me as obese. The website is much kinder. It only says that I should focus on exercising and healthy foods. It also gains points from me for saying this:
"You have never been on a specific diet
Well done. The best diet is "no diet", as long as the body is getting a well-balanced, mainly plant-based mix of carbohydrates, fats, proteins, minerals, vitamins and enough, but not too much energy."
To me this is perfect. Except for the missing part about animal protein.

P.S.: Today's tone courtesy of Grammarly:
I approve. What do you think?

November 8, 2019


...for Sodium. So I have been reading up on the weight gain due to medication. And up comes one of my pet peeves- Reducing the amount of sodium in the diet. I have never been able to understand this one. So searched how sodium is related to weight gain.

Well, as it turns out (since I need to qualify everything these days, here is one- I am not a medical doctor. My knowledge on the subject is solely based on the Google search), sodium retains more water in the body, hence increasing the body weight. Another one says that sodium intake and weight gain are correlated. Although they did qualify that sodium is indeed not the cause of weight gain but as high sodium diets like chips, fast food, etc. are also high-calorie diets, this causes weight gain.

So going back to water retention and apparent weight gain. Honestly, I am not that much fussed about the weight number that I stop water intake. As per me, water is the solution of most of the minor sickness and is good for your skin, hair, and almost all bodily function. In short, I am a big fan of water intake. And if sodium helps me to retain more water in the body, I don't really mind. As long as all my organs are working fine, I wouldn't mind the number called weight due to water.

But then that's me. Everyone must have their own take on this. Let me know what you think. Or if I have missed something critical about sodium intake, please do let me know.

**Rant over**

P.S.: Grammarly thinks that my rant is:
Hmm...interesting. I think this is an improvement. Hope someday they have a tone called 'Rant'. 

November 6, 2019

Blast from past

Browsing through old pictures and discovered this gem from London Olympic 2012 (Another one checked out from bucket list):

Photo credit: Gayathri, 2012

Weight issues

Yesterday's post about Snapchat made me realize that my weight issues might be medicine related. I had been on anti-depressant and beta-blocker (for BP and tremors) medicines for almost a year (middle age is catching up). Currently, I am only on beta-blockers. But I am also exercising almost 2-2.5 hours daily along with a healthy diet (as in strictly home-made food with no saturated fat).

In ordinary times, I should have lost some weight and a few inches in the last 2-3 weeks. However, my dresses stubbornly refuse to loosen up. So I am now blaming my medication. I am hoping I will come off the beta-blockers soon.

Before all this started, I wanted to lose 5 kgs to be in the slightly overweight range. Now it has changed to 15 kgs (ideally I would like to lose 20 kgs to be in the healthy weight range). I will give myself 8-10 months to achieve this once my medication has stopped.

In the meantime, I hope it doesn't increase any more than that. Keeping my fingers crossed while exercising my butt off. Wish me luck!

Snap Chat

Trends come and trends go. Apps come and apps go. Anyone remember 'My Space'. You know what I mean. I don't like to run after the latest trend just because they are the latest. So, I give them some time to settle before I try it. So I do have an account on most social media. I may not use them regularly but I do have an account.

I haven't been up-to-date on my social media trends recently. Well, for the past 2-3 years actually. So I recently downloaded a load of them: Tiktok, Spotify, and Snapchat to name a few. My dearest cousin showed me the cool pictures you can take on Snapchat a few months back so I gave it a try. Here are a couple of shots.

To be honest, given I have been working out for a couple of weeks, I expected my face to be a bit less round but guess it takes a few weeks for exercise to show effect. Will try again in a few weeks.

I do like the filters from Snapchat. Some of them are pretty cool (okay slightly silly but still effective). Try them, if you haven't yet.

November 5, 2019

Traffic Rules

So I almost had an accident this morning. I have had this almost accident several times now so thought I will vent out a bit. It always happens on a blind wide turn. Let me explain it using a diagram.

So I am scooter no. 1 in this picture, driving/riding on the left side of the road. I need to turn left at the dead end. SoI trying to follow the yellow dotted line path to make this turn. Scooter number 2 is another rider who is trying to turn right into my road. For some unknown reason, or maybe due to lack of either traffic rules or lack of basic common sense, they are trying to follow the green dotted line path. This path essentially means that they go to the right side of the road to make the turn and then go back to the left side of the road after making the turn. Did I mention that this is a blind turn?. None of us can see each other unless we are turning. Did I mention utter lack of common sense?

So that's how I almost had an accident this morning. There was also a speeding car involved on the right side of the road I was turning in. At the blind turn! They just had to overtake while approaching a blind turn. To save 10 secs. They might kill someone to save 10 secs. But then who cares for human life in India. People die on the road like vegetables in India.

BTW, I also sketched out the right way of making that turn. Just in case someone is interested in saving themselves and other pain and possible loss of life. It just requires to travel 10m further on the same road, remaining on the left side of the road before cutting across and end up on the left side of the road they are turning in. Basically following the green dotted in the diagram.

P.S.: I am so proud of myself of getting through this entire post without mentioning the lack of helmet or seatbelt. I think I am going to award myself by allowing myself to rant about it now. The thing that never made sense to me by any logic I have applied is that why people complain about everything wrong that government does but refuse to wear helmet and seatbelt. The government doesn't gain anything by us wearing the helmet or the seatbelt. It is for our own protection. Why don't people jump on the chance of protecting themselves? I don't even understand why do they refuse. Seriously, you don't even feel them. And it may save your life but somehow like a 3-year old they throw tantrums at the prospect. I can understand a three-year-old doing such a thing but an adult? Seriously? How do they justify themselves? 

November 4, 2019

Retirement Plans -01

I never imagined I will be making retirement plans. Ever. Let alone at 42 (almost!). But then life has a way of surprising you. So here I am thinking, rather writing, about my retirement plans. Of course, it all depends upon the amount of money I would have in my kitty but let's, for my dream-sake, assume that I will have plenty of money. And of course, good health is also necessary.

So what would I do? Here are some preliminary plans:
  • Travel 01 - World tour. I like to visit new countries, learn about their culture, economy, politics, flora and fauna. So it will not be enough for me to spend 2 days in a country for the sake of a world tour. I would need to spend a considerable amount of time in the country, say 2-3 months. I will need to choose the best weather to visit the country too. 
  • Travel 02 - Road trips. I have quite a few cross-country/cross-continent drives that I want to do. I still need to work out the specifics for each road trip but I think I know the ones I want to do: US cross country, Canada cross country, Europe cross-continent,  Australia-New Zealand cross-continent.
  • Learning 01 - Learn at least one language. Let me start by stating that I am really bad at learning new languages, unless, of course, we are talking about computer languages. Retirement would mean that I would have unlimited time at hand so why not try again. I will start with Spanish, then French, then Mandarin. 
  • Learning 02 - Learn music. As in be able to read music. Learn Hindustani classical music, if someone is brave enough to teach me. I am pretty bad at it. All the Raagas are a jumbled mystery to me. Can't tell one apart from the other. Learn an instrument, either piano or guitar. I have always thought that my hands are too small to learn either but then I see small kids with their freakishly small hands playing. It gives me hope. Maybe, someday, I can play too.
That's all so far. Will improve upon it later.

P.S.: 1. So I have installed Grammarly plug-in for chrome. It's showing me a disapproving emoticon which enlarges to this: 
Guess, it needs to learn my writing style. I think it's genuine, down-to-Earth, and sarcastic with a hint of cynicism (at least, I find it funny!!). Not sure if Grammarly even understands sarcasm. I sincerely hope it learns or we are going to have a "war of words" on our hands.

2. And of course, on the chance that Grammarly indeed doesn't get my sense of humour, it is a great application. It is highly recommended. 

3. One of the downsides of being me these days is that everything needs to be qualified. And yet it will be taken the wrong way and someone or the other will be upset. I so need one of those enhanced diplomatic immunity for any spoken words by yours truly or in the presence of yours truly. It's not that I want a universal approval. I just want to live my life smoothly instead of people around me becoming defensive. May even affect the quality of service I receive. Few restaurants, gas pump stations, delivery services, train service, few other services come to mind. It happened (and is still happening) for every little thing that was spoken by me or in my presence. It does become stressful after a while. Retirement should fix this. I am keeping my fingers and toes crossed. 

Another Funny Bit

Read on a T-shirt during evening walk...

Belated Diwali Wishes

Photo Credit: (c) Richa, 2019

Funniest thing I saw today

Photo courtesy: Science Humour