I opened my eyes.

I opened my eyes. It was like being punched in the face by a prize fighter. I could feel my teeth loose in my mouth. I felt like I was dipping my body under a polar ice sheet. Blood was pouring down my face. I could feel it because I could taste it as it ran down my face, from my nose, trickling down around my lips and dripping on the floor. I could taste it as it ran past my lips. Sweat was fogging my eyesight. Salty, grimy, mixed with my pain. My pulse was racing. My arms were shivering. It was cold, and yet I was sweating. I held my hands in front of my eyes. They were bandaged. Shaking. My legs were on fire. My thighs were aching. My calves were burning.
I tried to get up. My stomach was aching, I could barely breathe. I tried to breathe in, slow through my nose and push the air out through my nostrils. I couldn’t. I was hyperventilating. My mouth was gasping for air.

I was in a white room, just an upturned sense of direction and me. Lying on the pristine, sterile floor. I could see a door, with a metal handle. Steel. An eyehole in the door. I tried to get up again. This time I made it to my feet. My right eye hurt. I scratched my head, it hurt, and I realized I had no hair left on my head, I could feel my prickly scalp. It felt good. Who gave me a buzz cut?
Where was I? What the fuck was I doing here? I was thirsty. I passed out.
Then I woke up and realized it was all a dream. I hadn’t reached Leh yet. I was in Chennai.
Can’t wait.
Stok Kangri – here I come.

Stoking the fire

I stare at my belly. Have, every day, for the past ten months. It should have disappeared. In its place should have been a shiny new six pack. What I see, instead, is my fat, faithful tummy. No luck. I tell you this just in case you think exercising for an hour each three times a week will give you the right to own a six pack. It doesn’t. Nor does eating right eighty percent of the time. Maybe it’s because the other twenty percent makes up for it. Please beer with me.
Anyway. I’m going to climb Stok Kangri with my friends. Eight of them to be precise. Why? You know why. Mallory already said it. Go look it up. Because it’s there. On Wikipedia. (Ha. Pun intended).
So, clothes have been purchased. Money has been spent, tickets have been booked. Courage has been built up. Now all that remains is the gulping of cold air, and the trekking of the route and the bloody long grind. On summit day (or night, as it seems it will be when we start the summit climb). Can’t bloody wait.

Happy New Year, here’s to a great 2015.

So, 2014 is coming to a close.

What did I value the most in 2014?

Time spent with my family, and friends.

The privilege of having a job that let me pay my bills and live a comfortable life.

And a house I love.

The health to enjoy my life.

Neighbours who don’t shout when I scream (in joy, when Chelsea scores, or Metallica rings in my ears).

A great team to work with.

The mind space to read, write, think and speak what I wanted (mostly!).

What do I want the most in 2015?

Time spent with my family, and friends.

The privilege of having a job that let me pay my bills and live a comfortable life.

And a house I love.

The health to enjoy my life.

Neighbours who don’t shout when I scream (in joy, when Chelsea scores, or Metallica rings in my ears).

A great team to work with.

The mind space to read, write, think and speak what I wanted (mostly!).

What will I do differently in 2015?

Less TV, less junk food, less shouting, less drinking, less consuming, less buying, less criticising.

More reading, more exercise, more running in the rain, more creating, more writing, more thinking, more fearlessness, more love, more risk, more happiness.

A few ideas for me and you in 2015 –

Plan your next vacation. Travel abroad if you can. If you can’t, visit the furthest state in India, by train. I’m taking one month off in September. Where are you going next?

Sleep at least 8 hours a day. Don’t keep your phone next you at night.

Reduce TV viewing by 50%.

Stop reading the newspaper (they peddle crap anyway).

Stop drinking beer (have wine instead – especially Bordeaux).

Read one book a week.

Play with kids every day. If you don’t have kids, fall in love, and make some. It’s healthy! Married people live longer, stronger and are eventually less stressed (google the research papers!).

Stop taking selfies, and soak in the sun instead.

Start a daily diary.

Stop working for The Man, start a business.

Enjoy time on planet Earth.

Learn to be stoic.

Here’s to a Happy New Year to you all….

The Silver Bullet to Success at work, and indeed in life..is…

…is

You want to know, don’t you? Now, I’m not going to disappoint you by saying there is no silver bullet. There is. But, here’s the thing – it’s extremely hard to put in practice. It’s the formula used by sales rockstars, leaders, great managers, Presidents, housewives, mothers, Army Generals and sports stars for decades.

It’s proven scientifically. It makes logical sense. And yet – it is super hard to implement.

What is it you ask?

Here it is – maintaining your energy levels. As simple as that.

What? Energy? Do I hear you say that is an absolute let down? Something you already knew? Well, that’s the thing you see – it’s simple, it’s something we all already knew, and yet, is a guaranteed precursor to success.

You name an expert in any field, or any famous person and I will point you to the boundless energy they store and display in the practice of their craft.

That’s it. Maintain your energy.

How, you ask?

Stay tuned. There’s more to come.

Breaking Bad…Habits

Do you have a habit you want to break? Something you do often but don’t want to anymore? Something you can’t resist, and want to stop doing? If yes, read on.

I have a simple idea that works. It’s not complicated. I won’t recommend any Jedi mind tricks. No positive thinking. No visualisation. This is an ongoing experiment, so it may not be perfect. I do believe it is the simplest way out of a bad habit.

What’s the worst that can happen? The technique won’t work. No harm in trying the technique out, right?

So, here goes. This is what I want you to do.

Let’s say you have a bad habit, call it X. You resort to X whenever you feel stressed. Or tired. Or low. Or angry. Now, here’s what you do. Calendarise X. If you do it 5 times a day, calendarise it for once in a day. On your phone or whatever it is you use to plan your big ticket items for your day, week or month. Try it out for a week. Then calendarise it for once a week. And so on. Until you can control it. You now know when you will indulge in X. You now have total control of when and how and where you will do X. Because X is a part of your plan. Not the other way round.

Here’s how it works. The trick is to make your habit a controlled part of your life. You then don’t do it unconsciously. You trick your mind into thinking about it. You enter a zone where you can predict when you plan to do X. You are aware of when and why the need will come. But you know you have given yourself permission to do it in just a few hours. Or days. Or weeks. So you wait and then do X as planned, not when you feel like you want to X.

Now, you control X. X doesn’t control you.

Soon, your left brain takes over and you tide over the need to do it.

That’s it. That’s all it takes. Try it. Let me know how it goes. And you’re welcome.

PS: How do I know it works, you ask? I’ve tried. It does work.

How to win the IPL: Notes from IPL 2014

Admit it: you watched the IPL. Love it or hate it, you can’t avoid it. It’s like a drug. So, here’s a confession: I have a love hate relationship with the IPL. Before every season starts, I proclaim that I won’t bother watching, but end up watching at least a few matches, till the late hours. So, this time around, I made a few observations, and am penning them down here.

The shorter the version of cricket, the more crucial each turning point. Because success at a crucial turning point can mean victory or loss. A catch dropped can mean the match lost. Or a run out can turn things around.

Hence the higher the need for specialist players. And the less the impact of all-rounders. However, the specialists may not be defined as only batsmen and bowlers and fielders and keepers but batsmen who can chase at 10 an over or bowlers who can get a wicket when the chips are down or fielders who can take that spectacular catch. Which is why a Rajasthan Royals will find it tough to win. Which is why CSK will continue its dominance. They even have a specialist captain.

And these players need to play every match regardless of what stage of the competition it is. Thus resting Maxwell and then dropping him cost Kings XI the Cup.

This means a reliance on players whose basic skills are of a very high order. And a lessening of impact of all-rounders. Kallis and Watson are good examples of players tagged as all-rounders who didn’t succeed. A player like Watson will have far more impact as an explosive opening batsman instead.

Also, very few can take more than one role at a time. Which can probably explain why Dhoni comes so late down the order on most days, as he expects his specialist batsmen to do the job, and he clearly considers himself a specialist captain who can keep. Who just happens to be a great finisher.

Going by this logic, to win, there are 3 routes to excellence in T20: A team can choose to be great at batting (kings xi) or bowling (KKR) or rarely, both (CSK and sometimes Mumbai, and in the finals, KKR). There is no space, however, for teams that rely on bits and pieces players. Thus, Pollard would do best as an explosive batsman, not as a bits and pieces player.

Jadeja, by the way, is an interesting example. He seems to have done better as a bowler this season than a specialist batsman!

So for teams like Delhi or Bangalore, what does this mean and how can they try to win in the next few years? I believe a focus on assigning players these roles will be a first step. They already have the players required.

By the way, this has an interesting side effect: players who do well in ODIs may not be the right selectionsfor T20 or tests. Because, in my (amateur) opinion, Tests, while way longer than T20 matches have the exact same need for specialisation, only in a different way – because a test is over 5 days and 360 overs, the need for a cricketer to be very well grounded is very high! Another nail in the coffin of the ODI!

List of Specialist roles (feel free to add):

Chaser

Death bowler

Wicket taking bowler

Opening bowler

Fielder

Keeper

Dashing Opener

Dashing middle order

Batsman good at playing spin

Captain

T20 Coach

5 suggestions for wage slaves like us

1. Don’t work from home: The Dog. Noisy children. Chores. A leaking tap. The neighbor’s son putting on loud music. The temptation to work on your bed. These are just a few reasons why you should never give in to the temptation to work from home. There is a reason why your office is the designated space for work. For one, none of the above ever comes in the way of your work, when you are at the office. Also, there is a certain expectation to perform your duties when you are in the office. So don’t mix business with pleasure.
Now, the trouble with this is that if you live an hour’s commute away from work, getting to work can be very painful. Time, effort, fuel, and health wise. Which leads us to the next suggestion.

2. Stay close to work: Because a long commute is one of the top reasons of modern day office goer’s stress. And, divorce. Now, the data for divorce rates are currently available only for Europe and the US; however, it’s difficult to imagine how this would be any different for other parts of the world, including India. Having commuted 70 kilometers to and from work every day for three years, I can personally vouch for this. Just the sheer joy of having a 15 minute commute makes me question why anyone would not live close to work. Benefits of a short commute – extra time, minimal effort, hardly any driving stress, a far lesser fuel budget for the month (which given current rates of petrol and diesel add up a substantial amount), a dramatic decrease in back and neck pain. Cons – can’t think of any!
Now, the million dollar question is, would you relocate to a house closer to work if you didn’t love your job? Which then leads us to…

3. Do a job you love: Really. Because if you don’t, you won’t want to get up and go to work. Granted, not all of us can have the luxury of choosing a job we love, but can we at least do something we like? If not every day, at least every week? So, allow me to suggest a variation which will be easier to aim for, especially for wage slaves like me: do something you really enjoy doing as a part of your job for at least 2 hours every week. This should keep you alive for the 96% of your work week which may not inspire you. You can’t imagine any such activity in your job? Then I have a suggestion for you. Read on.

4. Why are you working in this job then? Find something you love doing, that adds value to your current job. Or change roles. Or quit and find a job that you love somewhere else.

5. Better still, work for yourself. Find your intersection. Your intersection is where your passion earns money for clients looking out for your service.