14 September 2019

The case of the “battered” wife

Last night, I had heavy snacks after coming back from work. And when I say “heavy”, I mean the helpings were generous enough to be counted as dinner. After that I had gone to greet a friend for his 50th birthday and then came back home for some tabla and qawaalis.

At around 11 PM, I was done and was ready to go to bed but was somewhat hungry again. First thing I noticed in the kitchen is that Sharmila had left some fresh potato curry and a couple of fritters for me. She knew she would be late from the party she had gone to and all I needed to do is open the refrigerator and grab some bread or rice or something. She is very nice that way.

As you might have expected, I opened the refrigerator – and was immediately accosted by a whole array of cooked food neatly arranged in the shelves. Now, for me, food is more a function of my hunger and less of my taste buds. I grabbed whatever was in front and pulled it out. Not entirely sure why, I also grabbed a half cut lime that was within an easy reach for me.

After opening up the container, I realized I had grabbed the bowl of noodles that Sharmila had cooked for Nikita. Also, anybody knows noodles and potato curry are not exactly the pairings for the sophisticated. Nevertheless, I marshaled on. Took a small portion of the noodles, a more-than-required portion of the curry, those two fritters and threw them into the microwave. After much head scratching, I realized that I had no conceivable way of doing justice to the lime. So, I put it back.

Don’t remember much of the dinner except that the potato curry tasted yummy. For a split second, I wondered whether I should have finished the whole curry.

All things done, went up to bed. And that is when I heard the garage door open – rather unexpectedly. I did not think she would be back before 1am. And it was only 11:30PM. Figured I would just lay there and wait till she came up.

Predictably, I heard next the house door open… a few footsteps to the kitchen followed and that is when I knew everything was not in place.

“Jegey aachho?”, I heard her yelling (“Are you awake?”). And before even I could say anything, I heard the next question – “Dosa-r masala ta kheye diyechho?”

In about half a second, I realized what had happened. That potato curry was not for me. She had cooked it and kept it for cooling down in the kitchen. That was meant to go with the masala dosa she was planning to make for breakfast the next day. And now she was staring at the dosa batter in one container and the near-empty masala pot in the other with nary an idea what is going to be for breakfast!!

The soporific effect of an irritated wife kicked in instantaneously. I was deep in sleep before you could cry “Uncle”!

13 September 2019

Friday evening relaxation with Nusrat Fateh Ali Khan and Rahat Fateh Ali Khan songs

“Tu mileya te mil gayi khudayi ve
Hath jod akhaan payee na judaayi ve
Mar javangi je akh mein tho pheri
Dua na koi hor mangdi”

Somebody with a better grip on Punjabi needs to help me with the translation but I believe what the words mean are

I found my God when I found you
I now pray with folded hands that we be never separated
I will die if you ever take your eyes off me
I have no other prayer (than you)

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13 September 2019

The Algebra of Happiness

That was a quick read. Did not land up being a great fan of it. If you are a young person in twenties or thirties, you might like this – kind of a Ready Reckoner for Happiness. But, if you are somebody in my age group or at least have any reasonable level of reflections on life, you are probably going to find this book not having much depth. Perhaps, my disappointment is because I could not learn anything new.

Scott – who is a professor at NYU – where I have a daughter – starts by tying to be funny and some of the doodles will make you crack a smile. But the narration goes all over the place and I, at least, could not find a coherent path. Plus, it came across as more of a “mea culpa” on his life.

That said, there are a couple of things that caught my attention. First is his reference to the app 1 Second Everyday. Seems like an interesting idea (you take a second of video everyday and then look at the collection – often mashed up – much later to go thru reflections and recollections). I have downloaded it but not tried it yet!

Couple of the more memorable statements include:

“When times are bad, people look for gray hair for leadership. When times are good, people look for youth”. and

“Entrepreneurship is a sales job with negative commissions until you raise capital; they are profitable or go out of business – whichever comes first.”

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8 September 2019

Range: Why Generalists Triumph in a Specialized World

I got to know about this book written by the investigative journalist David Epstein, while reading another book.

First, I have to start by saying that I became a believer of “breadth over depth” long time back in my career (which explains why I have never worked in the same industry twice and have thus never been accused of being an expert in anything). Therefore, my recommendations for this book might be a form of self-rationalization.

But if you want to understand why variety of knowledge and experience leads you to understand the deeper structures of a problem and their relationships much better – which is impossible to do if you are looking thru the tunnel vision of one discipline only – this is a good book to read.

The author does a good job of separating those domains where deep knowledge actually helps (he calls it “kind domain”). These are also the domains that are likely to be taken over by computers. e.g. Watson will beat humans in chess. But when it gets to “wicked domains” – requiring a lot more of strategic thinking – that is when interdisciplinary knowledge becomes interesting. (Till date, all progress of Watson solving cancer has been nothing to write home about)

On the flip side, the author makes most of his points in the first quarter of the book. The rest of the book is filled with a lot of very interesting stories and examples from all over the world. However, at times, it becomes difficult to understand what the core message in those stories are or how it directly relates to the original point. To be fair, there are connections – it is just that he does not draw the line for you.

All in all, a very enjoyable read. Highly recommended.

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