17 January 2016

The Defiant Dozen

To the untrained eyes, it might appear that more Bengalis showed up for coffee and chat session at Starbucks than for the run preceding that. One might even be tempted to conclude that we prefer the aforementioned coffee and chat session more than our run. And one would be well advised to given in to that temptation. For, we do love our food and parties more than our runs. On the other hand, in the Maslow’s hierarchy of a Bengali’s needs – there is another item that outranks food and parties – and that is sleep!!

Thankfully, this morning, twelve of the group defied that hierarchy and came out to run on a cold and windy morning. The defiance was in full display, when faced with closed gates at the trail due to flooding, the group simply went around the gate and commenced their running! A few missed the photo-op at the end since they were putting in longer runs.

Thanks for coming out – Samaresh, Sudipto, Manas, Malobika, Sharmila, Indrani, Puja, Ashok, Surojit, Arup and Ayan.



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17 January 2016

I might have met my twin !!

Okay, he is a handsome looking, younger, Caucasian guy with a lot of hair on his head. And I am anything but! However, it is another of those great “intersections points” I had on the road.

This one does not involve any airport or distant places. It was in fact in Norcross (a suburb of Atlanta) where our office is located. A few days back, sometime late in the evening, I realized that I was the last person left in the office. I still had a few emails and documents to go thru. I packed up, locked the office and went to a favorite bar of mine near the office. It is actually a very old railway station converted to a bar and restaurant. (called The Crossing). Early in the week, usually the bar is not that crowded and it allows me to do all this email and document stuff I keep for the end of the day. The best part is the train going by every fifteen minutes or so (mostly freight trains and a few Amtrak trains) and rattling the whole place. Still get fascinated watching a train go by so near and close.

In any case, on this day, at some point I started to wind up all the office work and settled down on my second and last drink. I am not sure how it happened – I think I was talking to the barlady Nicole about Powerball – but I somehow managed to talk to a couple – who had come and settled down not too far from me sometime during the evening. At the end of half an hour of talking, I came away convinced that he is my (better) twin!!

Tim and Nanette were their names. Tim mentioned about being in a “gap year” (retiring for some time before going back to a new job). That was all the lead I needed. I am a big believer of that. I excitedly told him about all my “time off” years. We talked about the philosophy of breaking up retirement from “once and done” to multiple periods of retirements so as to enjoy life in the different decades we live thru. We also talked about the common challenges people have (and frankly, we had) around the prospect of taking time off. (Most of it is around a feeling of financial insecurity – which, in my personal opinion, is a false fear). We also talked about Bronnie Ware’s “Top Five Regrets of a Dying Man”.

What was absolutely weird were some of the common things we have done during our time offs. Turns out he is a mixologist too!! And a runner!!! And practices music! Knows somebody who plays the tabla (which is what I play)!! I tried to encourage him to write up his life story in a blog. Did not need any encouragement – he already has multiple blogs and FB pages. (As an aside, he wrote about our meeting too!! – http://www.myfirstretirement.com/2016/01/15/gap-year/).

The picture below will give you a great idea of how much fun I had that evening with two complete strangers at a bar! I hope to run into them and exchange our stories more often!!


15 January 2016

Puzzle: Inverted License Plates (or why Sharmila does not go for lunch with me anymore :-) )

A couple of days back, after Sharmila had returned from India, we went out for lunch. We were discussing her experiences in India when the topic went to the new restrictions of driving in New Delhi. If you were not aware, New Delhi has promulgated new rules (I am not sure if it is effective still) that stipulates that cars with odd or even number license plates can be driven on alternate days. So, one day, if cars with only even number license plates can be driven, the next day it would be for the cars with odd number license plates. This, if I am not very mistaken, is to keep the pollution under control.

As a side story, I am told that women drivers are exempt from this rule. Which prompted me to suggest to Sharmila that we lost a great business opportunity to sell “burkhas” (the head to toe garb that many Muslim ladies wear) in New Delhi. Who is going to figure out whether it is a guy or a girl driving once they put a “burkha” on 🙂

In any case, another idea came to mind then. How about those guys with license plates that are reversible? Like if I had a license plate “6666”, I can easily take out four screws and put them back on with the license plate looking “9999”. In practice, that is not possible since there are other things written on the license plate that will clearly expose the trick but that did give rise to today’s puzzle:

How many license plates can be there which when reversed (and reattached to the car) gives a legitimate alternate parity (odd becomes even, even becomes odd) license plate?

Assume the following:

  1. License plates are no more than 4 digits long
  2. A license plate cannot start with 0
  3. 0,1,6,8,9 are the digits that while reversed looks like legitimate digits
  4. There cannot be two license plates which look the same on the roads ever