Category Archives: Rant

A note on Work-life balance

Some people take work too seriously. I regularly see people (especially in South East Asia) living, breathing, eating and sleeping work. It’s so bad that there’s no semblance of work-life balance at all.

Here’s a typical day for some of these people:

  • Check work email and teams (Online 24×7) messages when you wake up for a few minutes in the middle of sleep during the night.
  • Wake up in the morning, check teams messages first thing, reply to emails
  • Get ready and go to work, glue yourself to the computer
  • Go out for lunch. Check teams messages and emails all the time, discuss work related things with colleagues
  • Go back to work, glue yourself to the computer
  • Go out for dinner. Check teams messages and emails all the time, discuss work related things with colleagues
  • Leave work at 8, check teams chats and emails during the commute home
  • Take calls from home till 11
  • Go to bed, check teams chats and emails on the phone when in bed
  • Work from home on the weekends
  • Miss your colleagues during holidays, so come to office any way on your holidays
  • Wash, rinse and repeat

I fail to understand how (or why) some people give their entire life to work with no regards to their health, personal/family time or hobbies. I have been through such (short) phases a few times in my life, too and have come out suffering mentally every time. This makes me wonder even more how some people do this day after day, year after year.

Now, I don’t care too much if such people don’t have care for work-life balance, don’t have hobbies or don’t have friends outside work. I don’t care that for them their entire life revolves around work. But I do start caring when this behaviour becomes the norm at an organization and people expect the same from you.

For me, I am paid a salary and in return, I work. It doesn’t mean that I am not motivated at all, I always try to give the best I can, but I prefer to draw clear boundaries between work and leisure.

I don’t have Teams or work Email configured on my personal phone. If there’s something urgent, they will call me. Unlike the above people, I also do my best to give 100% during the 8 hours I am actually working, I don’t stand around with my colleagues and gossip. Also, I don’t want to see work colleagues at all outside work hours or on weekends. I have a separate social circle for those times.

I am acutely aware that my way of working is not the norm anymore; thankfully I am in a position where I can get away with it.

As a great man said once “Work is work, life is life”. Ironically, he was a workaholic, himself, who later burnt out.

How I almost got dragged into a Ponzi scheme

This post is about the time when I almost joined a Ponzi scheme. It all started with a colleague “K” who I had worked with, in 2 different companies and had known for many years. I considered him a friend (still do). Now, K always talked about a childhood friend of his, “Z” whom he clearly admired. Z bought a new car, Z bought a PS3, Z is vacationing in Europe etc. Eventually, we all knew Z by proxy.

The Bait

Now, our friend K was not a very sociable person by nature. We hardly met or called each other outside work or visited each other at our homes. So, it was weird when one day K called me out of the blue, on a Saturday and asked me to meet for coffee. When I asked him what’s up, he said he wanted to introduce me to his friend Z and just have coffee together. I didn’t have any exciting plans then, so I agreed.

I met them at a swanky café at a reputable (disreputable, as I later found out) market in South Delhi. K was waiting outside with Z. Z immediately frowned and made a disappointing face when he saw me arrive on my motorcycle. K must have noticed this because he immediately said awkwardly something on the lines of “He also has a car, but is passionate about biking”. Introductions were made and we went inside the café.

The Trap

Z starts by plopping his BMW keys on the table asking me what my dreams are. I tell him that I like travelling. Z asks me how I would feel if some day I could just pack my bags on a whim, go to the airport without any plans and just chose a country from the flight list to fly to. I told Z that an Indian passport doesn’t work that way and Indians can’t just travel to many places without a visa. I must have embarrassed K again because he awkwardly turned it into a joke and we all laughed.

Z continues by telling me he made smart investments in a business a few years ago and now has enough money to do whatever he wants in life. He also tells me that on K’s insistence, and on identifying certain qualities in me (over half a cup of coffee, no less), he is ready to make me a partner in his business. All I had to do, in return, was to make a small investment to get started and then sit back and watch the money pouring in.

Ponzi scheme
Ponzi Scheme, PC: Abaforlawstudents

Immediately, alarm bells start to go off in my head. By this point, I also start to notice that every other table at this cafe is also occupied by people engaged in a similar conversation as us. I understand that I am being baited for some kind of Ponzi scheme and make up my mind that I need to get out, quick. Z asks me for a measly investment of ₹100000 and informs me that the window of opportunity will not be open for long.

I tell him I will go to the ATM and withdraw the cash. He asks me not to sweat it and fishes a POS machine out of his bag and asks for my card. He also tells me they have partnerships with many banks and they can get me a loan in a few hours. I tell him some bullshit about my card being blocked on POS machines and insist on going to the ATM.

The Escape

Z must have sensed I am about to bail because he frowns and says maybe K was wrong about my potential. I immediately high tail it out of the cafe and the market, start my bike and am out of that area in 10 seconds flat without even paying for the parking. I feel my phone ring in my pocket, but reach inside my pocket and switch it off. The entire ride home, I am racked with guilt on ditching my friend K and leaving him in such an awkward situation.

By the time I reach home, though, I realise it’s not my fault. It was K’s fault for using his friendship with me for such purposes and tricking me into such a position. By the time I switch my phone ON and get many missed call alerts from K, I am livid with K for doing this and plan to confront him at work on Monday.

The Aftermath

Over the weekend, I calmed down and realised what must have happened. Z must have convinced K into this Ponzi scheme. K was just trying to recoup the “investment” he put in. I also realised that doing all this must have been even more awkward and difficult for K than it was for me. I began to feel pity for him and wondered how Z could involve someone like K (unsociable, awkward), his childhood friend into such a thing.

When I researched more about QNET and MLM in general, I realised that almost everyone involved (except the people on top) are just trying to recoup their losses. And for money, they will get over their awkwardness, phobias and use their friendships to rope others in.

Monday at work was a bit awkward, K and I exchanged pleasantries but didn’t talk to each other like we used to. It took many days for the awkwardness to subside and many weeks for things to go back to normal. We never spoke about it ever again.

Later, I heard from others that K had approached them, too, but didn’t find anyone who had gotten in. I wonder if K was able to recoup his losses. Maybe some day I will ask him and we will laugh about it.

The Inscrutable Thais

I have been living in Thailand for around a month now. I have visited here many times before, but this is the first time I am actually living here. As such, my interaction with Thais has been quite different from other times and for most part, I have found them to be inscrutable. However some aspects of their (unique) character has struck me, which I would describe below:

Thai People, PC: mythaland.blog
  1. Most Thais have their main social circle at work. Unlike people who come to office just to work and then go home, most Thais are actually pretty good friends with their colleagues. They even spend extended hours at work (even if it is not needed) just to be close to their colleagues/friends. I found this very weird for the first few days; people at work well past dinner, but then I realized it is more of a “social” thing rather than an “overwork” thing.
  2. Thais love ice in everything. All their drinks are 70% ice. Even some of their desserts are full of ice. Whatever ice is left after enjoying the drink/dessert, they happily eat.
  3. Thais are extremely polite. Most Thais (especially in the service industry) will go out of their way to be courteous. On top of that, they are also very non-confrontational which means you will hardly see fights or arguments on the streets.
  4. For some reason, most of Bangkok malls are full of banks. Most malls have branches of all the major banks and they are open for extended hours and over the weekend. Strangely, the main branches elsewhere have short hours on weekdays and are closed on weekends.
  5. Thais don’t seem to be very fond of wearing jewelry. Also, jewelry stores are not very common in markets or malls (Unlike India) and can only be found in some specific areas.
  6. Thais love the colour pink. Unlike other countries, where the colour Pink would be considered overtly feminine, in Thailand, pink is common everywhere. You will find things like pink clothes (common among both genders), pink cars, pink branding, pink bikes, pink buildings everywhere.
  7. Thais love air conditioning. Be it offices, restaurants, malls, taxis, air conditioning is typically dialed down to an insanely low temperature. Most people from other countries would find indoors too chilly.
  8. Out of all the countries I have been to, Thailand easily has the highest ratio of women in the workforce. Almost everyone in the service industry is a woman, in the tech industry, the ratio is much higher than other countries & women are present at all levels. In fact 15-20% of taxi drivers I get here are also women, which, frankly, I have never seen anywhere else.

Looking forward to getting to know them even better over the next few years.

Weird Birthday-2

This year, I had another weird birthday. My last birthday was spent in Bangkok, alone at a hotel. After that, I thought I might never travel to Bangkok again, but coincidentally, not only am I back in Bangkok, I even spent my birthday in the exact same hotel.

The difference was, this time I wasn’t alone, but with family.

Spent the day at IconSiam & bought the Apple Watch braided solo loop as a birthday gift. Overall, a nice upgrade from my last birthday.

Quarantine Life

Since I left Gurgaon & moved to Bangkok, I have been in quarantine with my family. Almost 1 week in, it has been a bit difficult, but not torturous.

We are not allowed to leave our hotel rooms, except to pick up the food which is placed outside our rooms 3 times a day. Apart from this, our only window into the outside world are the windows with the same constant view.

Day View

The only difference in the view is how it changes between day and night & during different hours of the day depending on the angle of the sun.

Night View

Looking forward to getting out of quarantine in 9 more days and exploring the city (again).

I am a judgemental Person

I am not the perfect person (far from it, actually). One of my character flaws is that I am a judgemental person. I judge people by

  1. The make of car they drive. I look down on people who drive certain brands of cars.
  2. The make of smartphones/gadgets they use.
  3. The fact that they have a religious mark on their foreheads.
  4. The area of a particular city they stay in.
  5. How many people in their family live in the same house.
  6. How many kids they have.
  7. What chat app they use.

The list goes on. I hate myself for it, but I can’t help it.

It is not impossible to avoid COVID

I recently got a COVID RT-PCR test done. It was negative. I also got a COVID antibody test done. That was negative, too.

This means I have never had COVID. This is weird, because as per most judgemental North Indians, I should be teeming with viruses.

I am living life as close to normal as possible in the last many months. I have been ordering food from outside, going to malls, pubs, restaurants etc. but with precautions like wearing a mask (properly, not like Covidiots) and maintaining social distancing. I have even been on a airplane three times.

This makes me wonder if most people in North India are focussing on the wrong things to avoid COVID all this time. Most North Indians are

  1. Not ordering food from outside
  2. Not stepping outside their homes at all
  3. Being over protective of children

However, none of the above is stopping them from getting their maids to slave for them at their homes everyday.

It seems that most people focus on the wrong things and don’t exercise common sense and then cry when they get infected (Front line workers exempted). Even the country’s president doesn’t know how to wear a mask correctly.

Ram Nath Kovidiot

Goodbye, Gurgaon

The fateful day is here. After almost 13 years in this city, the time has come to say goodbye and move on.

I got married while living here, we had our kid here, bought our own apartment here; till a few months ago, I thought I would live here forever. However, the deteriorating air quality year-on-year and the complete apathy of the government decided otherwise.

For years, I watched the air quality go worse, for years I saw people turn a blind eye to it and eventually it became clear that this problem won’t be solved in the near future (or maybe ever).

PC: Rentomojo

I will miss

  1. Spending my weekend at Ambience mall, perhaps my favourite place in the city. I still remember the first time I went there to buy formal shoes for my first job here (the job didn’t involve formal wear).
  2. Having breakfast at McDonalds while soaking the winter sun at MGF metropolitan mall.
  3. The (few) friends I had here and drinking beer with them at one of the many craft breweries.
  4. The wide highways, flyovers and underpasses and sparse traffic.
  5. The ease of getting things done and solving problems by throwing money at them.
    Apps and online services for literally everything.
  6. Extremely fast same-day and next-day Amazon delivery.

I will not miss

  1. The horrid air quality between November and January every year and the grey/brown skies.
  2. The constant and relentless pitch of hindutva in every aspect of your life.
  3. Kids as young as 12 driving cars with impunity.
  4. People who cut in queue (in person or in their cars).
  5. The name “Gurugram”.

Mall Covidiots

The mall is where you get to see the worst of humanity, as I have previously noted here, here & here. These days, they are full of covidiots. On a recent trip to Ambience Mall, I decided to observe them in detail and discovered that there are different types.

The first type are the ones who wear a mask, but keep their noses out of the mask. Their aim is to fool casual observers into thinking that they are fully masked, but the joke is on you, as their respiratory tract is actually completely unobstructed. They can get away with this in 90% situations with minimal inconvenience of a mask on their face.

The second type are the ones who wear a mask on their chin. They don’t pretend to be complying with mask rules, but have a mask dangling from their chin just in case someone challenges them, when they can quickly move the mask up and cover their faces like nothing happened.

The third type are the boldest. They won’t wear a mask at all. They won’t even pretend to wear a mask, nor do they carry a mask in their hand. They are above all this pretentious bullshit. They roam around openly without a mask, just waiting for someone to challenge them, so that they can inform them who their uncle/father is.

The saddest part of all this? It took me less than 2 minutes of sitting stationary in the mall to take these photos.