Category Archives: Rant

Horrible Benders

I wrote about how I went sober (But eventually failed to maintain it), I wanted to reflect back on some of the worst benders I have been through. Why? Maybe just to remind myself why I shouldn’t drink like that anymore.

Below are some of my worst benders over the years:

Nagpur

man in white long sleeved shirt on red window
Photo by abhishek goel on Pexels.com

Most of my engineering days were about booze. And since I was young, the benders were not that bad. However, there are some incidents I remember.

  • This was when I was living with my senior roommates. For some reason, one day we decided to drink whiskey at 9 AM in the morning. I have never had a good relationship with whiskey, so after many pegs, while I was at Sandeep Kalia’s house, I puked in the toilet. His kindly grandmother (We called her aaji) was very concerned what was happening, but the others told her I had eaten something bad.
  • One time we went drinking at PP’s garage pub and drank too much vodka. While others were puking, I was puzzled why I was lying awake in bed and not able to sleep. This was one of the first times I realised that alcohol affects my sleep so negatively.
  • One time we were returning from a drinking session at one of the dhabas and my motorcycle got tangled in a high tension electricity cable hanging on the road and launched into the air. I remember passing out, but luckily I was back to normal next day.

Delhi & Gurgaon

grayscale photography of bottles on top of table
Photo by Pixabay on Pexels.com

Our time in Gurgaon was the first time we had freedom to do what we wanted and we had money to spend because we were earning. Sood sahib was my roommate and very frustrated with his job. So, almost every evening, he and his degenerate colleague would come over and get drunk. It didn’t help me that I worked night shifts and went to work drunk many times. However, this was not the worst part.

  • I remember we gathered together with Chatur after a long time and started pub hopping at Saket. He came all sophisticated in a car, dressed in a suit, which we found funny, but probably helped getting us into fancy places. So we got drunk on cocktails and not being satisfied enough, drank at 2 more thekas over the night. Eventually, Chatur passed out and we somehow got home. Again, I couldn’t sleep all night while Chatur was puking in a pizza box.
  • While working night shifts, it was very common for us to go drinking after our shifts. One morning, after our shift, we went drinking with Amar sir, who was famous for making “lauly (Lovely) pegs”. We were standing on the road outside DLF Phase II Central Arcade (Less than 100m from where my parents were sleeping). Since it was peak winters, we all got drunk on dark rum. My body doesn’t react well to dark rum & I don’t remember getting back home. Next afternoon, I woke up with my knees bruised and vomit all over my bathroom. Somehow, I cleaned everything up before my parents saw but felt terrible. All afternoon I drank water and Gatorade, but there was hardly any pee and it burnt when I tried.
  • We once went on an office party and Karkose (who incidentally doesn’t drink himself) suggested I drink beer buster, which is beer mixed with tabasco sauce. It felt fun drinking it then, but I couldn’t sleep all night because my chest and stomach were burning. Horrible experience.

Xiamen

Baijiu at Zhongshan Road, Xiamen
Baijiu at Zhongshan Road, Xiamen

I was drinking Baijiu at Zhongshan road with my office colleagues. It was very cold, so instead of sipping it like the others, I did shots non-stop. Big mistake! I couldn’t sleep because my chest and stomach were burning all night. I puked many times and next day the pain in my stomach was so bad, I had to see a doctor at the airport (I was travelling back to India). The doctor told me the 60% alcohol volume Baijiu had stripped my stomach of its lining and likely made ulcers. I couldn’t eat anything other than simple rice for at least a week afterwards.

I am just glad I didn’t puke in front of my colleagues.

São Paulo

happy diverse friends clinking bottles on terrace
Photo by Kampus Production on Pexels.com

I was at São Paulo for the second time and me and my colleague went drinking Caipirinhas at Eu Tu Eles. Now, Caipirinhas are one of the most deceptive drinks I have ever had. They are sweet and tasty, so it is very easy to have too many too fast without realising it. Anyway, I don’t remember how I got back to my hotel and what happened later. But next morning I woke up to find my hotel room smelling of vomit and my brain feeling like it was in a vice. I used many of the hotel towels o clean up the vomit and then hid the towels behind the AC unit on the balcony. One of the most shameful things I have ever done.

Bangkok

Once we moved to Bangkok, I discovered how cheap and easily accessible booze is. But since I have absolutely no friends here, there have not been many social occasions for me to go on benders. There have been just 3 incidents, all with office colleagues. Unlike the other incidents, I drank too much not because I was having fun, but because of peer pressure.

  • I was just visiting Bangkok and it was my farewell party. 6 of us finished many crates of beers within a few hours. I don’t remember how I got back to the hotel.
Stacks of beer bottles
Stacks of beer bottles
  • We (the wife, the kid and the dog) went to the kid’s friend’s house, whose parents are north indian. He doubted from the beginning, if me, as a Bengali would be able to drink much. To prove him wrong, I got shit-faced. Soon, I proved him correct by missing my step in the dark, losing my balance and falling into their building fountain. Again, I don’t remember how I got back home. Next day I cursed myself and promised I will never get into such a situation while out with the kid or the dog.
  • The last and most recent incident was when I went out to drink with my colleagues. 3 of us went through 8 bottles of wine in 6 hours. I came to, next day covered in bruises and my room smelling of vomit and me still drunk and stumbling about. Unfortunately, soon, the AC servicing guys came and saw the state the bathroom was in. I have never felt worse in my life than that day. My nails, my room etc all smelt of booze and I felt sick. It was truly the worst day of my life & the day I decided to give up alcohol for good.

I am still not at a stage where I can look back at all this and laugh about it. But just the act of typing all this out has strengthened my resolve to not get drunk ever again.

Kolkata: The City of (kill)joy

My family hails from Kolkata, the (supposed) grand and noble megacity. I have ranted about this city many-many times, especially during the only 1 unfortunate year in my life that I stayed here. But that was more than 15 years ago and since then, I have never stayed here more than a couple of days at best (My shortest trip was a few hours long).

Because of the holiday season in Thailand, I decided to go visit my parents for slightly longer and re-analyse this city to see what has changed.

Full disclosure: Even within Kolkata, my parents stay in an objective worse location, so my point of view may be skewed compared to people living in more affluent areas.

Nature

Kolkata is quite green, compared to other cities in India. Especially the area where my parents live, there are many trees around.

Palm Trees & Greenery
Palm Trees & Greenery

At one point of time, Kolkata was dotted with ponds & lowlands. In fact many of the neighbourhoods names end with “pukur”, which means pond. Over the years, these ponds have been paved over and lost to eternity; leaving only their namesake “paras”. However, there are still some around, in the less affluent areas.

Cleanliness

There’s no way around it; Kolkata is the filthiest city I have had the misfortune of visiting. There’s trash and filth everywhere, even the fancy neighbourhoods. No one gives 2 shits about cleanliness.

People openly spit on the streets, throw their garbage anywhere they want.

Services

If you want to get work done, Kolkata is not the right city for it. Mobile services are one example. Banking is the biggest one. I already discussed how I spent shit loads of effort doping paperwork to convert my SBI account to NRO. What came of that? Zilch. They just sent back everything without an explanation. This time, when I went there to close my account, they were quite annoyed to start their working day on a negative note of account closure.

Private banks are not much better. I required some services around my Home Loan, so I looked up “Loan servicing branches” of my bank and spent an entire morning visiting them one by one and they all refused to help me. They would either say “we can’t do this, go to xxxx branch”, or simply “We have never done this before, we don’t know how”. Eventually I did find a very good branch to assist me and my work was done.

Similarly, calling labour to your home for repair work is a nightmare with them not coming on time or not showing up at all.

One particular example. I needed to update some details on my Aadhaar card. So I looked up a list of Aadhaar processing centres across the city and went on a (seemingly) easy mission. Here’s what happened

New Alipore Useless Post Office
New Alipore Useless Post Office
  1. Attempt 1 – Hobe na (Won’t happen, no explanation given)
  2. Attempt 2 – Ekhane hoye na (This doesn’t happen here)
  3. Attempt 3 – Lok neyi (Don’t have staff)
  4. Attempt 4 – Token shesh hoye gechhe (Out of tokens)
  5. Attempt 5 – Election duty te gechhe (Gone on election duty)
  6. Attempt 6 – Kalke aashun (Come tomorrow)
Bhowanipur useless post office
Bhowanipur useless post office

Eventually, I had to go to the main office 26kms away, where my work was done reasonably fast.

Transportation

Transportation in Kolkata is a proper shit-show.

Road Transport

Kolkata people have a special affinity towards honking. Almost all the cars would start honking a few seconds before the lights turn green. Some cars even keep honking while the lights are still red. There’s honking while overtaking and especially when there’s a traffic jam. The first few nights, I could even hear the honking in my dreams.

Typical sound on Kolkata roads

If you drive your own car, it is a nightmare. People have no sense of discipline and you need to do all you can to keep yourself from getting hit. Very-very stressful experience.

One funny thing I noticed was the affinity of Kolkata Traffic Police towards road barriers.

The traffic police like to strew road barriers randomly on the streets (In the middle of major roads) with no explanation. You are driving along, minding your own business and suddenly there’s a barrier blocking your way and you either have to brake to a stop or swerve. I really don’t understand why this is. Not like the traffic is very fast here to begin with, why slow it down even further?

Random Barrier on the road
Random Barrier on the road

At traffic signals, the traffic needs to divide itself into 2 streams on the left and right sides of the barrier. Crazy.

If you decide to take a taxi, best of luck with that, too. Uber in Kolkata is notoriously bad. Every time I get a taxi, the driver calls me immediately after and tells me to cancel the trip and pay them cash. It is not even a one off incident, every time I call one, I go through 4-5 drivers who demand cash and cancel when you refuse. The cars are filthy inside and stink. The drivers also resist turning on the AC unless you keep pestering them.

The roads are also all littered with ugly billboards.

Curiously, most billboards in Kolkata are either for gold jewellery, political ads or house construction material (TMT bars, pipes etc).

Public Transport

Why use road transport you ask? Why not use public transport? Because that sucks balls, too. Kolkata people keep boasting about how they had the first metro in the country, but fail to mention how it has failed mostly into disrepair and has seen little expansion in decades.

Where else in the world can you find a metro with a frequency of 50 minutes between trains?

50 minute interval metro
50 minute interval metro

Where else in the world can you find a metro which doesn’t run on weekends? When my parents first told me about it, I thought surely they were misinformed or joking. But no, it is true.

In short, going anywhere in Kolkata is a struggle, whether you are rich or poor. We all suffer equally.

Food

Restaurant Food

Food in mid-end and high-end restaurants in India is quite costly for the value provided, but no different than the rest of India.

The good part is, there are many good restaurants and delivery is ever-present and fast.

But restaurant food is not what Kolkata is known for.

Street Food

Street food is where Kolkata really shines. It is cheap, delicious and (mostly) hygienic.

Others

Kolkata has many malls, but they compare nowhere to Delhi/Bengaluru/Mumbai mall standards.

South City Mall, Kolkata
South City Mall, Kolkata

However, the character of Kolkata lies not in the malls, but in the by-lanes.

By-lanes of Kolkata
By-lanes of Kolkata

Airport

Kolkata airport international terminal is the lousiest airport terminal I have been through. Unlike normal airports, both sides of a check in counter are named the same alphabet, but used by different airlines.

To make things more difficult for everyone, the displays above the counters don’t show flight information, but propaganda on how the airport is the “best improved” airport ever.

Guess which flight it is
Guess which flight it is

The immigration counters are sparsely staffed. When I travelled, there were 2 babus manning the counters.

The security check area has only 2 lanes.

2 lanes of security check
2 lanes of security check

The duty free section (as pcthepathfinder aptly said) looks like a stall at Pragati Maidan.

Kolkata Airport Duty Free joke
Kolkata Airport Duty Free joke
Bengali Airport Fight

Overall, I am glad to turn my back to this city and go back home.

Bye Bye Alcohol!

I have had a long relationship with alcohol, full of ups and downs. When I was young, the “ups” far outweighed the “downs”. Nearing 40, that is unfortunately not true anymore. It fucks up my sleep pretty badly and the after effects get worse every year. Notably, 2 very bad recent experiences recently led me to take steps.

Many times, I have tried to drink in moderation, which is all well and good before one starts, but after a few, everything goes out the window. After wondering why I do something that causes so much grief, I decided to give up on alcohol altogether.

What Next?

The most difficult part was, I had been conditioned to hold a bottle or can while doing certain things – watching TV, sitting on my balcony. And it felt weird to do these things empty handed. So I decided to swap alcohol with non-alcoholic drinks.

Drinks, but without alcohol
Drinks, but without alcohol

So now I have stocked my refrigerator with non-alcoholic drinks. Eventually, I would wean off these, too, as they have lots of sugar. One particular drink I really like is Bundaberg Root beer. Everyone around me seems to hate them, but I can’t get over how tasty they are.

I had assumed that the hardest part would be social events, but it is much easier to tell people you don’t drink (No one tries to coerce you) than to say you want to stop drinking after a few (Come on, just one more). For pure booze events, I decline them altogether now.

As of today, 1 month sober and counting, I notice these changes in my life:

  1. I am spending less time in bed on weekends, but still waking up more refreshed and have more energy throughout the day.
  2. I am not waking up to pee in the middle of the night anymore.
  3. I have more energy while running. Especially, my weekend runs now feel much easier.

Let’s see how long it lasts.

Cities

I think at this point in my life, I can safely call myself well travelled. Although I have never been to the quintessential western cities (Like New York, London or Paris), I have been to some pretty off-beat places.

raised building frame
Photo by Peng LIU on Pexels.com

I have a job where it is quite easy to shift my base to different places. I had a few offers to move again recently, and I was conflicted about it. So recently I started making a list of ratings for various cities I have been to, based on different parameters. These parameters are only based on things that are important to me.

Below are the cities, I have been to, rated on various parameters between 1 to 10.

Some things to remember

  1. I am only including major or metropolitan cities
  2. These ratings are purely based on my preferences and observations. Does not take into account other metrics I don’ deem important to me
  3. I do not take into account finances like income or cost of living. I assume proportional income everywhere
CityInfraFoodWeatherWalkabilityHistoryFriendlyDogTotal
Istanbul81069107555
São Paulo879958955
Bangkok6910679653
Melbourne10681042950
Budapest855896950
Vienna865894949
San Francisco757857948
Prague855894948
Helsinki9521043942
Kuala Lumpur655665336
Shanghai752852231
Bengaluru178364231
New Delhi281277027
Kolkata183165226
City Ratings

Infrastructure

This is probably the first thing one notices about a city, when you enter the airport and then when you leave it.

No doubt, Melbourne is the best city in this regard I have been to. Everything is clean and perfect. The roads, buildings etc. are all as should be in a utopian society.

Although I didn’t spend too much time in Helsinki, I found its infrastructure to be top-notch, too. The heated pavements were something I had never seen or imagined.

Budapest/Vienna/Prague all rank pretty high in this regard, too and São Paulo feels just like a quintessential European city.

San Francisco is beautiful, too, but I couldn’t un-see the mounds of human feces on every street corner and the sheer amount of homeless people.

Indian cities rank lowest. Although Delhi has a pretty good metro system, that is it. Everything is filthy and unkempt. Kolkata is even worse. Bengaluru, which has a huge potential has horrible roads and no water.

Food

Food is subjective, so the ratings are purely based on my own personal preferences.

Truly, I have never had food as good as Istanbul, ever.

Bangkok comes second, because of the sheer variety of the food available here. You have cheap (but hygienic) street food vendors as well as many Michelin starred restaurants within a block of each other.

Delhi and Kolkata come next, followed by São Paulo & Bengaluru.

view of a beyti kebab dish on a white plate
Photo by Mustafa Erdağ on Pexels.com

Weather and Air Quality

Weather is subjective and since I prefer warmer weather, I have rated Bangkok the highest.

Delhi and Kolkata are lowest because of the filthy air quality year round. Delhi is even lower than Kolkata because of the extreme heat during summers and unbearable (because there’s no heating anywhere) winters.

Walkability

I love walking (and street running), so walkability is important to me in a city. Perhaps it is not too surprising that these ratings mirror the ones for infrastructure as both these things are closely related.

Most cities in my list are extremely walkable, except the Indian cities, where walking on the streets is like gambling with your life. Maybe a few important ares in the cities have proper pavements, but certainly not throughout the city. To top it off, most motorcycle drivers feel free to ride on the pavements and cars try to run you down even at zebra crossings.

Historical Artifacts

Istanbul again wins hands down in this regard, being one of the oldest cities in the list and having been shaped by multiple empires.

European cities rank next, I love the thousands of years old architecture.

Most of the monuments in Delhi are a few hundred years old, but it is not difficult to find ones which are thousands of years old.

European colonised cities rank lowest, simply because they are not old enough to have significant historical artefacts, especially with the propensity of these colonisers to erase ethnic history.

brown and black mosque under white and blue cloudy sky
Photo by Yogendra Singh on Pexels.com

Friendliness towards outsiders

These ratings are purely about how the locals treat foreigners and expats.

Bangkok rates pretty high, because Thais, with some exceptions are very friendly and welcoming people. Although, if your appearance is very different from what they’re used to seeing, expect stares. Brazilians in São Paulo are also very friendly and welcoming. Because of their multi-cultural make up, there’s no one in the world who looks “weird” enough not to fit in there.

I have already written about the Chinese here.

I found most Europeans if not outright racist, at least pretty cold towards outsiders.

Australians are the worst. Although I did meet a few friendly Australians, most of them are racist pricks.

Dog Friendliness

I admit, some of the cities in the list above I visited before I had a dog and didn’t really notice how dog friendly they were, so the rating for those cities is from internet research.

Most cities in developed countries and São Paulo are as dog friendly as can be. Dogs are allowed almost everywhere – in malls, restaurants, cafés, bars, public transport, hotels. There are very little restrictions on what the dogs can do and where they can go, because their parents have enough common sense. These cities also have public dog parks.

India is not at all dog friendly. While pets are tolerated in Bengaluru and Kolkata, there are very few places where pets can go, limited to designated pet-specific businesses. Taxis won’t agree to take you if you have a pet. The public transport is not even human friendly, so I won’t even talk about dogs.

Delhi is the worst of all. People there actually hate dogs. There are severe restrictions on having dogs even in your own homes. Dogs need to take a separate lift when going out and they can’t be walked within the society grounds.

Bangkok is somewhere in the middle. Most people love dogs. Dogs are allowed in taxis and Tuktuks , but not in metros and buses. Most restaurants/cafes and malls allow dogs in the outdoor areas on leash and indoors in a pet buggy. Some malls and restaurants allow pets freely.

Microsoft Sucks Balls

At one point, I was a rabid proponent of Microsoft. Deeply entrenched in the Microsoft ecosystem and recommending Microsoft products and services to my friends too. But even after switching to Apple, I am being constantly reminded of how Microsoft sucks balls, thanks to my work ecosystem.

I have realised foremost that Microsoft has no idea what users want, adding/removing/changing things randomly as they see fit. Secondly, even after possessing vast resources, they are clueless on how to solve the most basic problems.

Below is a list showcasing how Microsoft sucks balls:

Windows

Microsoft x86-64 Integration

Windows has been running on x86-64 hardware for decades. You would think that is enough time to refine things and have them working in a seamless way, but, no. This is what happens when I wake up my work laptop from sleep, while connected to an external display:

13 seconds from sleep to usable
  1. Show signs of life : 1 second
  2. Flicker once : 4 seconds
  3. Flickr second time : 4 seconds
  4. Screen sort of pulsates, zooms in and out : 4 seconds

I have some questions

  1. Who, in Microsoft decided that waking a laptop from sleep to usable state requiring 13 seconds is acceptable in 2024? Macs take less than 1 second for the entire process.
  2. Why does the main display need to blink and be unusable every time I connect or disconnect an extended display?

Security/Group Policies

I understand that organisations need to have tight control on what happens on their machines. But the way Microsoft does it is completely bollocks.

  1. So, in our org, the Microsoft Store app is blocked by policy. Good enough. But then, if I go to the app’s Microsoft Store web page and click on install, the app installs just fine. What is even the point of blocking it then? Just to make things more inconvenient for users?
  2. Our organisation policy forbids one from saving/adding usernames/passwords to Edge. But there’s no policy to prevent importing of passwords via a csv file. So that’s what I do. Again, why block something half-heartedly just to make things more difficult for the user?

Bluetooth

  • Most platforms (Including Windows) can display the battery level of Bluetooth devices based on a standard. Other devices can also show you if the device is charging, which sadly Windows cannot do. What Windows does is, it gets confused and shows the battery level flapping like crazy.
Bluetooth battery level doing the St Vitus’ Dance
  • It’s 2024 and Microsoft still doesn’t allow you to reverse your mouse scroll direction easily. You need to dive into device manager to see the mouse’s HID and then mess around with the registry to toggle a value, reboot the OS to reverse the scroll. The alternative is to use an app the OEM provides and do it from there, but that is buggy too, as every time the computer wakes up from sleep, the scroll goes back to the default for a few seconds before reverting back.

Windows Hello

Ok, this one is more on OEMs than Microsoft, but why does Microsoft certify shoddy level sensors as Windows Hello certified? Approx half the time I try unlocking my laptop using my face, it fails. Even though I have “trained” Windows Hello multiple times under different lighting conditions. 10-20% times, even fingerprint recognition fails.

Even worse, some times, Windows Hello authentication succeeds, but windows still shows an error message “unable to recognise you” while at the same time logging me in. Make up your mind, asshole.

Wireless LAN

Many times, when my Laptop wakes up or boots up, it just doesn’t connect to my home WLAN even though the network is remembered and “Connect Automatically” is selected. Happened on my old Dell work Laptop and even on a newer HP work laptop, so can’t really blame the OEM for a consistent bug across different hardware.

Widgets & Shit

Microsoft introduced the new social area in Windows 11. It has a handful of supposedly helpful widgets but in reality, it is bullshit

  1. The news articles are of such low quality and full of click bait and propaganda pieces. And there are so many of the news widgets that it is impractical to remove them all one by one.
  2. The trafic widget is not configurable. Our company uses ZScaler, so the traffic widget always shows traffic conditions in Malaysia or Singapore.
  3. There’s no widget for Outlook calendar if you use the “new” Outlook.

Thankfully, they do allow you to disable this feature altogether.

Microsoft Windows does indeed suck balls.

Microsoft 365

Sharepoint/OneDrive for business

Some time last year, Microsoft pushed out an update that if you share a link for some Sharepoint file/folder via email, it would automatically give read permissions for that file to everyone in your To/cc list. While, this may sound useful, it makes your Sharepoint site into a horrible/fragmented mess of user permissions, something that a user cannot easily fix/reset via the GUI.

Microsoft Teams

  1. Sometime around June last year, I discovered a bug that if you share an HDR display in a teams call, teams crashes within a few minutes. Via my IT team, I raised a bug with MS. Almost a year later, Microsoft still has not been able to fix this bug. Even worse, the “New” Teams, which is supposedly built from the ground up, has the same bug.
  2. If you have a wireless audio headset with a mute button, the mute button does not sync with the Teams mute button. So many times I have been speaking thinking I have unmuted myself, but I forgot to unmute myself in 2 different places. Both hardware and software mute work independently of each other. The kicker? This feature works perfectly with Microsoft Teams on iOS and macOS.
  3. If someone updates their photo on Teams, the new photo appears on the mobile app almost immediately, but takes weeks/months to update on the desktop client, even the “new” client.
  4. Out of Office notifications between Teams and Outlook don’t sync well. If you set OOO on Teams, it ruins the format of the actual message

Microsoft teams sucks balls.

Outlook

Outlook was such a bloated mess, I was kind of relieved when they replaced it completely with a new app which is nothing more than a web wrapper. However, months later, it still has bugs. One annoying one is, if I select an appearance theme, it only loads 1/5 times I launch outlook. All other times, it loads with a plain GUI.

Not to mention that the new Outlook doesn’t even launch without an internet connection (Which is often because of the Wireless bug above).

Office Apps

While office apps have gotten better over the years, I don’t understand why there are 3 ways to open a Word/Excel/Powerpoint file

  1. On the web
  2. Inside Teams
  3. Using the desktop app

Bing Webmaster Tools

Bing Webmaster tools is the only Microsoft product I now use personally, to manage my blogs. While Bing perfectly recognises my vitriolic blog (This one), it refuses to index pages from my other, much nicer photography blog. All it says is that my domain is blocked. Customer service cannot provide a reason and they cannot talk to you more frequently than once in 6 months.

Although Microsoft Bing sucks balls, I cannot migrate to Google as a user (As a WebMaster, I find Google’s Search Console vastly superior).

Just stop with the bullshit studies already!

I read news everyday. At least some of the news articles are about bullshit studies telling you what is good or bad for your health. Over time, I started seeing a pattern. Most of these bullshit studies contradicted each other clearly. Below are some examples I found very recently.

Vitamins

photo medication pills on white plastic container
Photo by Anna Shvets on Pexels.com

This study says that Vitamins are good for you and can slow cognitive decline.

Then, this article cites several studies that say that Vitamins increase the risk of cancer appreciably and will kill you faster.

This study says the Vitamins are neither good nor bad for you, but completely useless.

Alcohol

three cocktail drinks
Photo by Prem Pal Singh Tanwar on Pexels.com

This article cites multiple studies which say that moderate alcohol consumption is good for you (and me).

This study proves that drinking even moderate amounts of alcohol will shrink your brain.

Egg Yolk

adding of egg on a heap flour
Photo by Klaus Nielsen on Pexels.com

We all know in the last decade there were several studies advising you not to eat egg yolk, because they are high in cholesterol.

Thankfully, it was recently conclusively proven that eating food high in cholesterol doesn’t cause higher levels of blood cholesterol.

Ketamine

This study proves that Ketamine helps with Depression and Anxiety Disorders.

This study proves the exact opposite, Ketamine can cause your Anxiety to become worse.

Psilocybin (Magic mushrooms)

wild mushroom
Photo by Fazlul Kader Chowdhury on Pexels.com

This article cites multiple studies which provide that Psilocybin can alleviate depressive symptoms for up to a year.

This study says that Psilocybin is in fact, bad for mental health.

Marijuana

dark green leafed plant
Photo by Washarapol D BinYo Jundang on Pexels.com

This study cites that cannabis is effective in treating mental disorders. There are many studies claiming cannabis is effective for pain management.

This study (among many others) cites the exact opposite. In fact, I, myself have seen marijuana crazed people in mental distress.

Grain free Dog/Cat Food

photo of person feeding dog outside
Photo by Ricky Esquivel on Pexels.com

There was a fad a couple of years ago where all pet parents started feeding their pets grain free food. The logic was, the ancestors of these animals lived in the jungle and hunted for food, so never had access to grain.

All was well, till grain-free pets started dying from heart failure. Now there’s an FDA alert against grain free food.

Ozempic

This article says that if you use Ozempic to lose weight and then you stop taking it, you gain back more than you had lost.

This study says the exact opposite.

Blue Light

Remember all the studies that told you that blue light in the evenings and at night is bad for you and your sleep? How every OS there is actually baked in a feature to turn your screen warm after sunset? Remember that they even sell lasses that block blue light?

This study linked from this article states all that is bullshit, it is now yellow light which is bad for you and your sleep.

I wonder what is the reason for such contradictory studies. I can think of the following cases

  1. Both studies are in fact correct, people are different and everyone reacts to things differently.
  2. Some of these studies are bullshit/unscientific.
  3. The entire mechanism of studies is inherently wrong.

Toxic Comics

Recently I started reading the newspaper again, which includes comics. As I read them over the months, I realised how toxic and negative most of these comics are. Below are some examples

Andy Capp

Andy Capp is a job-less alcoholic whose main hobbies are drinking at the pub and getting into fights there. The town counsellor keeps lining up interviews for him, but he keeps sabotaging them. And all of this is played out for laughs.

Andy Capp looking for free booze
Andy Capp looking for free booze
What a loser, Andy Capp!
What a loser, Andy Capp!
Toxic Andy Capp
Toxic Andy Capp
Toxic Andy Capp
Toxic Andy Capp
Andy Capp, the real loser
Andy Capp, the real loser
Andy Capp beating up Buddhists
Andy Capp beating up Buddhists

The Born Loser

As the name says, the protagonist is sort of a loser and this is played out for laughs. His boss, his wife and even his own children insult him all the time.

Brutus being insulted at work (Again)
Brutus being insulted at work (Again)
Brutus being insulted at work
Brutus being insulted at work
Gladys insulting Brutus
Gladys insulting Brutus
Gladys insulting Brutus (again)
Gladys insulting Brutus (again)

Blondie

Perhaps the most toxic boss of all time is in Blondie. The boss Julius keeps insulting Bumstead, threatening to fire him, fires him a few times. But he doesn’t even stop at that. Many times, he has physically assaulted Bumstead. I am just surprised he hasn’t asked to have sex with his wife. Despite all this, the Bumstead and Blondie go to his house for barbecues. Absolutely no self respect.

Dagwood kicking bumstead
Dagwood kicking
Julius insulting Dagwood
Julius insulting Dagwood
Dithers insulting Bumstead again
Dithers insulting Bumstead again
Julius insulting Dagwood (again)
Bastard Julius insulting Dagwood (again)
Dithers insulting Bumstead again
Dithers insulting Bumstead again
Julius insulting Dagwood (again)
Julius insulting Dagwood (again)
Julius insulting Dagwood (Agan)
Bastard Julius insulting Dagwood (Agan)
Julius invading Dagwood’s privacy at home
Julius invading Dagwood’s privacy at home

Pickles

Opal and Earl are a retired couple who sometimes take care of their grandson. Opal stops at nothing to insult day and night. I would like to see an alternate universe version where Opal is married to Sherif Roy Tillman, instead.

So now Earl can't even blink?
So now Earl can’t even blink?

Garfield

How can an article like this be complete without Garfield, who physically assaults Odie for no reason other than fun.

Garfield physically abusing Odie
Garfield physically assaulting Odie

Fuck Streaming Services!

I have been blogging regularly about my TV viewing and streaming services over the last few months. In short, I stopped pirating and switched over completely to streaming services. Till last month, I was subscribed to Apple TV+, Prime Video, Disney+Hotstar & Netflix. All combined, I was paying approximately ₹20000 ($250) a year on them. I was subscribed to all English TV streaming services possible in Thailand. Why, then, was I still not able to watch my favourite shows? These:

  • Fargo (FX On Hulu, not available in Thailand)
  • True Detective (HBO, not available in Thailand)
  • Curb Your Enthusiasm (HBO, not available in Thailand)
  • Young Sheldon (CBS, not available in Thailand. Available on Indian Prime, but not Thai Prime)
  • TVF Aspirants (Available on Indian Prime, but not Thai Prime)
  • Futurama (Hulu, not available in Thailand)
  • The Office (Indian version) (Available on Indian Hotstar (even there, censored), but not Thai Hotstar)

Nor can I hope to watch upcoming series I am looking forward to:

  • Alien (FX, not available in Thailand)
turned on flat screen smart television ahead
Photo by Lisa Fotios on Pexels.com

As yo can see, most of the services are US-only. Also, FX is a separate service, Hulu is a separate service and FX on Hulu is also a thing? What bullshit. Even if I was in the US, I would be paying 10x the cost of basic cable to watch all these shows. On top of this, all of these services have a separate selection depending on the country, a Prime exclusive show like Aspirants is not available on Prime Thailand. A Hotstar exclusive show like The Office (Indian version) is not available in Thailand.

Watching movies on these services is not great either. If I want to watch some specific movie, I have to open each app one by one and search for that movie till I find one which has said movie. More often that not, no service has that movie that I want to see and I have to end up renting or buying anyways.

So I say, fuck these services. If they are actively trying to keep from from buying their services, I would rather pirate. So this is what I switched to

  • ShowRSS : I get the RSS feeds of my shows from here
  • Put.io : I import these RSS feeds (One time) in this boutique cloud storage service. It also provides helpful APIs, ftp and WebDAV access to access the storage using other means.
  • Infuse Pro : I connect this app to my Put.Io account on all my devices to access my Library of TV shows. This is optional, you can use Put.io’s own app to do the same, but I really like the Infuse user experience. It also syncs your shows to Trakt
  • Trakt: To track my TV shows

Now to catch up on all the shows I missed.

Living in Bangkok: 3-year report card

I moved to Bangkok 3 years ago. After living here all this time, it is time to do a report card of things I like and things I don’t like.

Things I like (love) about living in Bangkok

  1. The weather is awesome.
    • In summers it never crosses above 35C and in winters it never goes below 25C. I simply love the weather.
    • I love the sudden & heavy nature of the rains especially that it almost never happens during commute times.
    • There’s ample sunshine all year round, something I really need and appreciate. UV is quite high but can be managed with sunscreen.
  2. There are many beautiful places to visit and stay at, within a few hours drive. Hotels and AirBnBs are cheaper than in India. The nearest beach is 70 minutes drive from my place.
  3. Bangkok (And even Thailand) is multi-cultural. People from all over the world live here, with Europeans and Japanese being most common.
  4. Salaries are higher than India for the same level of work.
  5. Tax rates are lower than India. It makes me feel sick to think how much I paid as taxes in India and how little we all got back.
  6. Gadgets are cheaper not only in absolute value but also accompanied with higher purchasing power because of higher salaries.
  7. Healthcare is cheaper than India and insurance plans cover yearly tests and OPD visits.
  8. Fuel is cheaper than India. Consequently,
    • Taxis are cheaper than India and better, too
    • Airfare for travelling within Thailand is much cheaper than airfare for travelling within India.
    • Electricity is cheaper than India.
  9. The rivers are well maintained and have great river-view dining and entertainment options. I also love the Khlongs that branch off the rivers into the cities. I love travelling the city by boats.
  10. Much better air quality than North India.
  11. People are very considerate & conscious of passing infectious diseases to others and self-isolate even for minor things like colds and wear masks.
  12. Food and beverages are abundant, varied and cheap.
    • Thai food in Thailand is better and cheaper than Indian food in India. No one (except Indian expats) brings food from home to office. Everyone eats outside.
    • International food in Thailand is about the same price as in India, but the quality of food and restaurants is much better. Even the high-end restaurants here are not more expensive than mid-range restaurants in India.
    • Indian food is more expensive than in India, but that is to be expected.
    • As of 2024, there are 35 Michelin starred restaurants in Bangkok alone. Many of them in the vicinity of where we stay.
  13. Rents are about the same as Delhi for comparable locations, but places are much better. But income is higher, so we can afford to stay at a much better location compared to what we did in India.
  14. Better infrastructure, any day.
  15. Thais are religiously tolerant. Keep their religious views private and don’t force it on others.
  16. Relatively safe at night. Relatively safe for women.
  17. More pet friendly, although not the same level as the west.
    • Most restaurants allow you to bring pets. Most of them also serve the dog water and are kind to them.
    • Most malls allow you to bring pets if they are in a pram. Some allow them on the floor on a leash even.
    • Most AirBnBs and many hotel chains are dog friendly.
    • Pet-friendly transportation exists, although at a slightly higher cost.
  18. Most Thais are very polite and friendly.

Things I dislike about living in Bangkok

  1. Very few microbreweries, because of laws designed to maintain the duopoly of ThaiBev and Singha.
  2. No hill-stations that compare to Indian hill-stations.
  3. Thais are obsessed with ice. Most drinks and even water served at restaurants are 80-90% ice unless you beg them not to.
  4. No Amazon. Local e-commerce options are not as good.
  5. Metros are more expensive than India. In most cases, cabs are cheaper than metros if 2 or more people are travelling, but traffic is horrible, so people prefer paying extra for the convenience.
  6. International schooling is much more expensive than India. It is because International schools here hire only native English speaking teachers and they don’t come cheap. Even at higher rates, school infrastructure are not as expansive.
  7. Thais, especially Thai women are extremely vain. They care too much about how they look. Although, this doesn’t affect me directly.
    • It is common for them to body-shame each other for putting on a single kg of weight. Plus sized shops are named Fatty-Fatgirl plus size, Fat girls and Chubbers. Consequently, cloth sizes are different, too. I wear M sized shirts and pants in India. In Thailand, same shirts are L or XL and pants are XXL.
    • Cosmetic procedures are incredibly common here. Many malls have entire floors with “clinics” dedicated to such procedures. Most women above 30 take monthly Botox injections.
    • Obsessed with fairness, much like India.
  8. Obsessed with social media. Are always on their phones even when out for meals with others and even dates. I saw the same thing in China.
  9. Have a strange relationship with ambient temperature.
    • Like to keep indoor temperature very chilly. But then wear jackets and coats. What a waste of energy unnecessarily cooling a place.
    • Cannot handle temperatures above 30C.
    • Cannot handle temperatures below 20C.
  10. Treat pets very strangely, is irritating.
    • Don’t sterilise their pet.
    • Many Thais keep part-time pets. Basically this means that the pet stays on the streets, but comes home to feed. Such people won’t let the “pets” be taken away and sheltered, neither will take responsibility when the “pet” harms someone.
    • Don’t let their dogs meet other dogs on the street even though the dog is begging for it.
    • They also try to project their desire to have a baby on the dog. Come on just let them be dogs
      • Keep wiping the saliva from their dog’s mouths.
      • Scold their dog if it sniffs another dog’s butt.
      • Don’t do anything when their unsterilised horny dog mounts another one at the dog park.
  11. Too non-confrontational. Will take abuse and insults without any retaliation.

Overall, the positives outweigh the negatives not only in quantity but also in intensity. Looking forward to many more years staying here.

Electricity Woes

The world’s first public electricity supply was a water wheel driven system constructed in the small English town of Godalming in 1881. I was born more than a 100 years later and this article documents my woes around electricity growing up.

Electricity woes
Photo by Pok Rie on Pexels.com

Asansol (Late 80s & 90s)

Asansol is a shitty town in West Bengal where one of my uncles lived. It was also the first stop where I went every year with my mother, during my summer vacations. My uncle and his family lived in the Sen Raleigh township at Kanyapur and it is the closest I have ever been to living in a village. I did not live in big cities during those years either (Gwalior, Indore etc), but this place gave new meaning to the term “backward”.

In summers, on average, there was electricity only for a few hours each day. At their house, even a fan was a luxury. I remember lying in bed for hours at night, not being able to sleep because it was too hot. When things were not too bad, the family used an inverter for the hours of the blackout. Eventually, over the years, even that became impractical because you could only charge it for a few hours every few days. Eventually, they switched their lights & fans to DC and hired pre-charged batteries on a per-night basis.

I also remember that they used their refrigerator as a wardrobe, because that’s all it was good for.

Still, I was a kid and resilient, so it didn’t bother me too much.

Kolkata (Late 80s & 90s)

Kolkata was the second stop in our summer holiday itenary & slightly better than Asansol. Electricity was more or less available, but there were sudden un-announced blackouts which the locals called “load-shedding”. Again, these would last for hours and I would lie in bed not being able to sleep. In bed, I would count down from 10 and pretend that at 0, the power would be back. When it didn’t, I would start again. Many nights, my mother would stay up fanning me with one of those Chinese fans till I fell asleep. Eventually, things became better after the power distribution in the city was privatised and today, such things are rare.

Karishma Apartments, East Delhi (1993)

Karishma Apartments (Now called Kirpal apartments) were shitty apartments, I lived in for (thankfully) 1 year around 1993. The story was, the apartment used some illegal way to apply for its electricity connection, which was eventually discovered and the electricity was disconnected for the entire complex. Most of the year I lived there, there was 0 electricity. Most people had their own generators putting away on their balconies. If I remember correctly, we shared a generator with another family and there were often disputes. Because of no electricity, there was hardly any water in the overhead tanks and there was a water tanker mafia selling water to everyone at exorbitant prices.

We lived on rent, we could have easily moved somewhere less shitty, no idea why we didn’t.

Gurgaon (2008-2015)

DLF Phase 3, U Block

There were daily power cuts during the summers. For others, it was no big deal because the power cuts were mostly in the daytime when they were all in their air-conditioned offices. I worked nights and these power cuts put a real damper on my sleep schedule.

DLF Phase 2, K Block

DLF Phase 2 being more posh than DLF Phase 3 had less power cuts, but they were still there. Still, it was not that bad.

Sector 22

We lived on one floor of a 3 floor house on rent for a few years. This was probably the shittiest house we have ever lived in. The landlords were kindly, but what they call “leechad“. They had 3 electricity connections for 3 floors, but chose to use 2 connections for one (their own) floor and the third connection was shared among the other 2 floors. Consequently, when we used the Air Conditioning, it would frequently overload and blow something on the electricity pole outside. The electricity people refused to resolve such issues at night and we spent many nights waiting for the fan to stop working when the inverter battery ran out. Eventually, we had enough and we gave notice at 2:00 AM one night after another incident.

Thankfully, this was the last of my electricity woes and since then, I have managed to elevate my life above such worries.