Workaholics Anonymous

It's been a long hard day at work, and you are just too tired.  Your eyes are drooping and your spirits are sagging. So what would you rather do to cheer yourself up?

a) Get on the bus/train back home and catch a quick refreshing nap on the way; or

b) Get home groggily and take a hot/cold shower to freshen you up; or

c) Starbucks, here I come. Get yourself loaded on caffeine; or

d) Pull out your mobile device/iPod and play games till you go crazy; or

e) Get home and watch a movie lazing on the couch; or

f) Watch the umpteenth re-run of supposedly funny sitcoms; or

g) Call up some friend and chit-chat away to glory; or

h) Logon to the computer and do some work; or

i) Cook half-heartedly and be morose; or

j) Cook whole-heartedly and feast on your work; or

k) Just get home, hit the bed and sleep through the evening; or

l) Finish the long-delayed grocery shopping which just cannot be put off further; or

m) Finish the long-delayed laundry, which just cannot be put off further; or

n) Go jogging; or

o) Hit the gym and get health-conscious; or

p) Gaze into nowhere in particular and be half-asleep; or

q) Dream about the love of your life and what could have been if you were not alone at that time; or

r) Eat chocolate and drink some caffeine-laden soda or some uber-healthy juice; or

s) Skip the bus and just wander along on the way home thinking that the exercise might freshen you up; or

t) Walk home along the river with spectacular views of New York City in the evening twilight; with a sprinkling of rain in the air and a cool breeze blowing across; feeling the breeze in your face and immersed in the strains of 'Dil Gira Dafatan' on your earphones.  Heck, nothing beats that. :) 

Must have done all of the above, but the last one really pepped me up today. And for a change, I wanted my home to be a couple of blocks further away from the train station. 

Life rocks ! :) 
(And why is it that it's always 't' that ends up as my favorite? ;))


Looking forward to the weekend, eh?

Every day, when I walk from the WTC path station to my office, there's these bunch of pedestrian cops (as in, cops for pedestrians, not the other meaning !) who ensure that no one jaywalks at the traffic junction. It is not much of a traffic junction; but these 4-5 cops ensure that there is no pedestrian congestion near the WTC re-construction site. And they do a mighty good job at it. And that got me wondering - what do they really look forward to when they go to work everyday? I mean, it looks quite a thankless job from the outside, doesn't it?

Of course, this seems to be pretty much the same question as I had about toll booth operators last week. Or, do I have the same question about everyone who goes to work? Well, maybe. :)

So what does the security guard think when he goes to work? "Hope, nothing goes wrong today." Or maybe, "hope there is some action today." 

What about the guy working at the met office? Oh well, about the met guy, I have a whole lot of questions. How does he really work? Does he think something like, 'been predicting sunny weather for days together; time to pull out my rain slides today'? And if his dog is like Marley, then it would be 'dog barking too much, thunder and lightning forecast for the day'.

For that matter, what do software engineers look forward to when they go to work every day? Do they think - 'wow, another fine day in front of a bright large monitor, with pizza for lunch and a tank of soda for drink...can't wait to get to my desk and type all day' ?

Jokes apart, I think the met guys end up doing a fine job anyway. As do the toll booth operators or the cops at the WTC re-construction site. Ok, you can add the software engineers too. 

And I think I can safely speak for the latter that typing all day in front of a computer is much more exciting than it sounds. :) So, maybe work at the met office is fun too. And being a cop is definitely a cool job. 

So that brings us back to the question - what do all of these people really look forward to at work?

Well, what do you?


Crazy cricket connoisseur?

As the Indian Premier League 2 enters the final week of its league matches, die-hard cricket fans like me are obviously excited. Since most of these matches are scheduled at 8 pm India time (10-30 am EDT), it's pretty easy to follow them 'live'. And that is a scarcity for cricket fans in the US.

So, everyday, I am all set on Cricinfo following ball-by-ball commentary of practically all of these matches. The thrill of watching T20 live on television has been conveniently replaced by the 'excitement' of reading text commentary live. Well, not just the commentary. I devour practically every single word published on Cricinfo's IPL site - all the articles, anecdotes, observations, interviews, quotes, statistics, caricatures and of course, match bulletins and reports. 

It has reached to such an extent that even when I get to see a match live, I make sure that I am logged on to Cricinfo so that I do not miss any of their educated observations. And I suspect there are many others like me. :)  

Gotta admit that the love for sports makes a man do weird things in life. :)


The inevitability of the gym

Finally, I bit the bullet this week. Guess it had to happen some day. Such are the times we live in...


All my life I have never been a fan of hitting the gym. Exercising regularly was a modus operandi that was always going to be tedious and quotidian for me. It meant that I had to stick to a routine in life. Oh, what fun life is without the glorious uncertainties of our daily living! ;) Or so I thought, and believed without an iota of doubt. :)

Or perhaps, I wasn't so keen to jump the gun, since I was sure that the novelty would wear off. Three weeks of exercising and I was sure to go back to using the time 'productively' to read some novels or just relax. :) There was no point in really starting it if I can't get myself to be disciplined about it.

Well, it never really mattered when I was a student. Commuting to my college across Mumbai was an exercise in itself; you didn't really need more of it. :) When I joined work in Bangalore, I seemed to be able to keep a check on my weight simply with my usual diet. I was never much of an 'eater' anyway; so it didn't matter. But then, as I got more settled at my work place, the pounds started coming in. 

One of the realities of life as a software engineer is the sedentary lifestyle it comes bundled with. For eight hours a day, most of the effort you put at work is right at your desk. (And well, at times, it does have the tendency to balloon to 16-20 hours for months together at a stretch.) So, the only real exercise is for your fingers typing in, your glazed eyes looking at the computer monitor and a stressed mind muddled with exploring possibilities. (Of course, a hyperactive mind helps ! :))

Once you are back home, your brain just needs to cool off. Which means, 'relaxing' by training your eyes on the idiot box, or typing away to glory in endless chat sessions, or plain good-old 'eat-drink-sleep'. The next day, you are back up and are on the next bus/train to work thinking of how to handle the morning meeting.

Replace the 'software engineer' with any other vocation, and it would still sound pretty much the same. Most of the 'working' generation these days end up leading a sedentary lifestyle (well, at least the white-collar ones). And it's not the only generation that has the problem.  Better nutrition & health-care and newer technology has meant that the modern man puts in probably a fraction of the 'physical' efforts of his predecessors. No wonder then that according to the latest stats, eighty percent of adults over the age of 25 in the US are overweight. 78% of them do not even meet basic activity level recommendations. I am sure similar numbers would hold true for most of the developed nations. 

The only way to lead a healthy lifestyle then would be to manufacture the activity routines and fit them in our daily lives. For most people, the gym becomes an inevitable need. Of course, it is not the be-all and end-all of being healthy, but for most, it might be the only way. Such are the times that we live in...


So how does a treadmill-phobe like me end up in a gym? 

You see, I shifted my residence last week to reduce my commute to office by half.  So, when a software engineer suddenly ends up at home before 6 every day, what does he do with all the extra time? Especially, when he is used to 'relaxing' (see aforementioned activities) after dinner. Well, after two weeks, he ends up checking out the gym in the apartment just to find something to do. And in just a week, he finds the whole concept refreshing. From the drudgery of slogging out manufactured activity routines to intoxicatingly addictive gym-phile, in just a week?? Ah, such are the times that we live in... :)


Toll booth toil

So what does the toll booth operator really do all day?

Other than collecting tolls, that is. 

Of all the jobs in all the world, that of a toll booth operator is one that leaves me quite perplexed. All day long, he sits all alone in a tiny booth, with just fumes and smoke for company. And perhaps a lot of cash in loose change. So, what does a toll booth operator really look forward to at work? Going home, perhaps.

Even a traffic cop at times is stuck alone in the midst of traffic. But at least he has the freedom to move around. And maybe have occasional chats with colleagues or locals when the traffic is less. But for the toll booth operator, no traffic is almost akin to being in a jail. Rather, being in solitary confinement. One with hardly any scope for movement. For twelve hours every day. Making sure that the correct amounts are paid.

So what does a toll booth operator really think all day? 

"Look at that snazzy BMW. Must be having loads of money."
"Oooh...that Beetle looks cute."
"Whoa, fifth chick in the last five minutes. Might be my lucky day."
"C'mon, loser. Grow up. Get an E-Z Pass."
"No E-Z Pass. At least should have the decency to get exact change."

Or more likely,

"Darned...looks like another thousand vehicles coming in."
"Please please go to the next booth. I am in no mood to put my hands out in the cold (or heat)."
"Yes, yes... all of you have to come to my booth. Why don't I ever get lane 13?"

Or perhaps,

"Damn, another E-Z Pass guy. At this rate, I will have no job by Christmas."
"Should I call the cops on this guy?"
"Did this guy give me the $5 bill? Or, was it the guy before him?"

Whatever it is, the job of a toll booth operator does seem to be a nightmare job. And with pranksters like these, why would anyone even want it? And would there be anyone with years of experience on the job?

Well, well, if it is such a nighmare job, it does come with a decent paycheck too. Booth operators end up making over a 100k a year. Now, that's way more than what my white-collar job pays me. Doesn't seem to be that bad a job any longer, does it? :) 

Of course, only if you are ready to be in a booth with barely any human contact, half-in and half-out, uncomfortably reaching out every minute or so. 

There is always a catch.


Try, try and you will succeed.

When I was a kid, I learnt of the story of Robert Bruce I of Scotland. More accurately, I read of the legend of King Robert and the spider. 

Well, the story so goes that Robert Bruce fought the English six times and lost. One day, it is said, he lay in a lonely hut on a heap of straw, wondering if it would not be better to give it up and leave Scotland to herself. Just then he caught sight of a spider trying to swing itself from one rafter to another. Six times it tried, and six times it failed. "Just as many times as I have failed," thought Bruce, and he said to himself, "If it tries again and succeeds, I, too, will try again." The spider tried again and it succeeded. Bruce tried again, and he, too, succeeded.  

Well, some stories do stick to you for life. And for a 6-year old, listening to a story as fascinating as this does have a tendency to leave some imprints for life.

So here I am, on the umpteenth attempt to restore my blog. And the umpteenth attempt to attempt to be disciplined about it. Let's see what happens this time round. 

Cheers ! :)