Thankful Week 2 – Spouse / Significant Other

Topic 2 from the 52 Weeks of Gratitude list.

What to write here? The bachelor who has been single – and the intro-/extrovert who is shy enough to readily mingle 😀 – does find it difficult to expand on this topic, doesn’t he? So, what do I write here? Who to thank? Maybe summarize some significant candidates, rather what I saw/learnt/developed through them, of the “arranged marriage” market in India? 😛

OK then… let me take up three candidates here: no names/characters obviously! Basically, why I am thankful to them… 🙂 If there is anything here that might seem insulting/hurtful to those addressed below, I am sorry. :/

First let me thank my Mutual Refusal Friend – MRF from hereon.

I don’t remember when/how the profile exchange happened, but our parents told us to talk and see if we do match each other. The first phone call… we realized that we wouldn’t be a good pair, but would be good friends. Especially with the shared frustration of family-induced pressures in partner-perusal! 😀 Thanks for bearing me when you could, Ms. MRF, and a happy married life once again. 🙂

Second in line of the significant thank-ee’s (if that’s a word) is my Ex-Fiancé – EF for further reference.

As clearly mentioned, I did have a fiancé, but not any more. No need – nor the reason for this post – to get into why the “ex-” adjective came to be. Why am I thankful to her still? I used to have a simple/complex (one’s p.o.v.) health issue that could be tackled either by regular meds or by surgery. I had been on meds till the engagement and then went on to get the one-time surgery post-engagement, thanks to my commitment to a new life due to her. Well… so, a great thank you, EF for having gotten me out of the meds-cycle. Also, on a lesser note, thanks for giving me a fresh outlook as to how to proceed on this match-seeking process. 🙂 Wish you all the best in finding someone who is a better match than me.

Finally comes the Poorly Interactive Inspiration – PII hereon

Like the “name” says, my interaction with her has been poor – but that’s maybe my fault or hers… or simply that she is the first serious post-break-up interaction… sorry for that. Anyway, since this is a post expressing my gratitudes, let me express my thanks to you for having inspired me to look seriously for my professional field shift. I had been putting this off until I got to know of this lady and her career field. 🙂 Whatever it is, our process didn’t work out but I’d always be grateful to you for the career inspiration, 🙂 as well as the re-easing me into lady interaction. 😛

Oh well… maybe I missed some… maybe I should just have thanked God for keeping me away from the other unclear/over-proud “matches”… maybe I should have thanked my ex-crushes for introducing me to this notion… but am still thankful to be a bachelor 😀 😀
More to come…

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52 Topics for Weekly Thankful Writing

Alright… a late start to this “weekly” exercise. This is something that I had found quite sometime back in 2015 on Bikramjit‘s blog. I had thought to take it up, work on it daily and finish it up before 2016 arrived… but now, am even starting late… :

Anyway, here is the list of 52 topics, one per week, for this year. I am not sure I will follow the weekly schedule – am thinking of making this a more regular exercise… let’s see…

52WeeksOfGratitude

A Theme For Weekly Writing

How can I overcome the phobia of talking to people?

My Quora Answer to “How can I overcome the phobia of talking to people?

Warning: Pretty Damn Lengthy!

Came to this question through Dhakshitha Rao‘s answer in my feed. As always, she gave an almost perfect answer to the question.

But when I read through the question details, I almost felt like I was having a deja vu. Let me explain: I was also an IITian a long time back, with no real experience in any extra-curricular activities; the only hobby I had when I entered IIT was reading (and following cricket a bit, not much); I was (and still am) really naturally-bad at any sport I played; and I was basically an introvert, with maybe 3-4 close friends from school – finding it difficult to open a conversation with people I didn’t feel close enough to. Even some relatives – aunts, uncles, some cousins – were among those I found it difficult to talk to, even though they were the ones who started the conversation and even when they were really good at talking. I am not saying I didn’t talk – I did have loads of fun just shooting crap with that small group of close friends, or close cousins.

Then, I get into a hostel, in an IIT, with people I didn’t ever know, not even from the coaching classes – well, I’d seen one or two guys in my institutes, but never spoke much to them… as you can imagine, I had no clue what to do! Apart from the fear of what the seniors would do in the usual senior-junior introduction sessions (no “ragging” in our IIT, not even back in 2000), I was also wondering about how to get to know one-two guys well enough each in the hostel and in the department. That, I thought, should be enough, comfortable, to get through these four years.

What happened was that the group of guys in the rooms near mine, including one of my first-year room-mates, were of the more social, funny types who were great chaps (I hate writing this “great chaps” openly – what if one of them reads it all the way till here? 😛 ). Some of them knew one another, some of them knew some of the preceding batch seniors in the hostel… well, whatever combination of events happened (I don’t remember much now), I just went along for the general group-ish hangouts, and sat there without saying much – I was still too scared to talk thinking, “What would they think of me if I opened my mouth?” They just started to ask me point-blank for what I thought about things, and I started opening up… and soon, I made yet another group of friends for life! More importantly, I finally got to a place where I can now start a conversation with people I don’t know!

So, why did I stick with this group, and why did I start opening up to them? It was simple: Like I said, I wanted to make one-two close friends, max! There were these guys from similar backgrounds, who also seemed seriously social and actually wanted to get to know new people… that was the reason I got going along with them in the first place. Then, I realized some of them shared my interest in reading (nowhere near my almost-crazy level, though), so we had something to talk about… Then, they got me interested in other things that they were interested in: football (what some idiots call “soccer”) being the main one, movies by genre, GK in general, etc., etc. Basically, the reason I started opening up to them was not only because they were asking me for my opinion, but also because I sensed an opportunity to widen my range of interests/hobbies. This same thing later on led to me making good friends within my department (where I was exactly in the mid-tier of the class – basically, average), and other departments/hostels as well.

I know I have written a rather lengthy synopsis of my life in IIT. I wanted to basically give the full context of my story, and not just say that I know where you are coming from. I have been where you are now. I’ve gotten over most of it. I still don’t go talk to new people by myself, but that’s not because of fear anymore – I know that.  The basic points I want to highlight for when you want to overcome your phobia of talking to new people are the following:

  • First thing you have to do is, explore yourself: find what interests and hobbies you have. It is not a question of whether you are doing the things or not, or how good you are at them currently. About the football I mentioned above, I started playing it, even though I sucked at it. I improved a bit, but remained bad at it over all the four years – and yet, I played it because I love the game.
  • Second, keep yourself open to try new things. Yes, I know it is scary to get into something new, especially when you are an introvert – not just the fright of failing at it, but the far bigger fright of having to interact with new people in the beginning phases of trying these things out. But, you have to force yourself into this mindset. This is something I am telling you from deep personal experience. There is nothing that can help you in “overcoming” – or rather, working around, as Dhakhsitha put it – your fears.
  • You say you have two-three friends on campus, right? What do you do with them? I suppose, just hangout and talk? Stop that! Take the help of the friends you already have to expand your fields of activity. Join them in stuff that they do without you – this way you get to know other, new people.
  • Maintain a cheerful exterior. It doesn’t matter how scared or worried or negative you are feeling inside. Keep smiling, and show off a positive face to others. That way, the social people might approach you for conversations. And you know what? Having a nice, pleasant talk with someone, especially about general bullshit, actually helps alleviate your fear of being an introvert and might get you out of that zone – at least into the ambivert level (not a bad place to be at all, let me assure you). Who knows, it might be that your tension of approaching others is actually showing off as “don’t talk to me” to others
  • As Dhakshitha (and some others) pointed out, use common interests to start conversations with people, and to keep them going.
  • As for making more friends, start in your hostel. No better place. Just start with the group of people that sit and hangout in your corridor. Be honest, and tell them that you want to just make friends, and that you were an introvert & scared to join them till now. Be prepared to take insults, though. Trust me, that is how engineering students talk to each other for fun – no harm intended or even meant.
  • As for friends in the department, the best place to start would be your lab-mates. I am pretty sure there would be a few people who are usually along with you in almost all the labs. You already have something common to talk to them about. Take it slow – start with one-two of them, casual remarks in the lab, and then, more than casual conversations outside. Once the others (if there are more than 3-4 in the lab-groups – I come from mech., we had 7-10 people in each lab group) notice that you actually talk, and others talk back not-in-a-stiff, to-the-point manner, they might open up too. This is a long process, though – lasting at least the whole of a semester.
  • The main thing you have to remember is this: When someone approaches you, to talk, for help, for anything… don’t get nervous and run away. Even if you are nervous, talk to them like you’re perfectly normal. If they need help, help them out, and you can fret over your tensions later on. Doing this will make them want to come back to you. And it is such repetitive interactions that lay the foundations for friendships.
  • As for interviews, I already covered that in two points above: maintain a positive exterior, and the preceding point.

Phew! A rather lengthy answer, even by my standards – and I DO write very long ones! Hope I did not bore you to death, and I do sincerely hope that this answer does something to help you out. All the best! 🙂

How do I react when people talk behind my back?

Answer by Me on Quora:

How do I react when people talk behind my back?

TL:DR –  There is no need to be really annoyed with people talking behind our back. Most of the time, it is just a matter of convenience. So, cheer up, don’t react… keep your annoyance at bay – too much irritability/annoyance just spoils the day, maybe more.

Why do people talk behind your back? Because, sometimes it is more convenient to do so, rather than having discussions with the subject of the said discussion sitting right there. Why is it more convenient? Because it might lead to a less biased discussion, instead of to a possible argument. People need to talk about their feelings to work through them (or work  them out), and it is better done when the subject of those feelings is  not present right in front participating in the discussion.

Imagine a situation where you have a serious crush on someone you know, and you need to figure out whether what you have is just infatuation or it could be more than that. Who would you talk to first? That same person, or one of your close friends? Obviously one of your friends, am I right? Say you work it out to “relationship-possible” status and tell the main guy/girl. What if they then simply get annoyed with you for talking about them behind their back, and not expressing your feelings directly to them in the first place? Does that make sense?

Also, just think about what you are doing with this question: You are basically talking about your close ones behind their backs. Yes, you have posted the question anonymously, but that doesn’t change the fact that you did in fact talk about things that they do without letting them know – i.e., talked behind their backs. Now, if you get annoyed when people do that to you, why do you do that to others?

You mentioned that they let you know that such and such discussions about you have happened while you were not present. You should, in fact, be happy that they are so open about it. “Talking behind someone’s back” is actually what happens when people talk about someone in a gossipy and/or negative way, and do not let the person in question know.

What I am trying to do is point out why there is no need to be really annoyed with people talking behind our back. Most of the time, it is just a matter of convenience. At the other times, when it is actually in a negative/gossipy sense, then do what Sriram Srinivasan said: “Ignore and move on”. There is no point in wasting any time thinking about such stuff either. If they are close friends, you anyway know there are no bad intentions involved in even the most “negative” things they talk about you – it is mostly all in fun!

So, cheer up, don’t react… keep your annoyance at bay – too much irritability/annoyance just spoils the day, maybe more.

What are some cool WhatsApp group names? – About A Group I Created on WhatsApp!

YET Another Answer by Me on Quora:

What are some cool WhatsApp group names?

Well, this is a group name I coined – I created the group, so am the Group Admin…

Basically, this is a small group of close friends from my days in college. We graduated out of IIT-Madras, and I wanted a group name that would abbreviate to IIT. Those from IITM will tell you that we are used to referring to our college as “insti” – a short for Institute (the lazy bums that we were). Hence, Insti.

Now, being a close-knit group that has always maintained contact through the 10+ years since our graduation, we are still as open, frank and candid with each other as we had been throughout our four years in college. In fact, it was this ease for frankness with which we could connect with each other that made us a great group of friends within the first two months of college! Now, what can be a synonym for such frank, candid people? Here comes Ingenuous.

As candid as we are, we also know each other too damn well. We know each others’ strengths, but more importantly, each others’ failings. Yes, we DO support one another through all the rough patches in life. But also, once those are through, we never fail to immediately start reminding each other of the foolish things we did that first led to those rough patches – all in a playful manner, of course. I had a collection of fools to name (myself included, obviously). Who is the most foolish person that Indian history tells us of?  So, who better than Tuglak?

So the group that I created for my closest college friends is named:

Insti’s Ingenuous Tuglaks

What if Google was a guy?

An Answer by Me on Quora:

What if Google was a guy?

Thanks for the A2A, Dimple Bhatia! Happy New Year to you, btw. 🙂

If Google were a guy… hmmm… interesting question, I should say! While I see many funny, witty answers down here – Bhuvi Jain, as always :), and Arnima Sharma for the College Humor videos I should say, I liked best – let me try this time to answer it like the engineering/numerical/data analyst that I professionally am. So, my answer is going to be mostly about the career options that the guy Google would follow through, from the most boring on upwards… The impacts of these on his personal life may appear on some of those – I can’t really guarantee it. The answer shall be a flow of ideas straight from the brain to the keyboard without much edits.

Before that, though, I don’t understand why most people here seem to think that Google is the one who knows everything, or the one with all the answers. No – Google is just a search engine which knows the fastest and best ways as to where to look for answers. If we were to humanize a website with the most knowledge/answers, that would be Wikipedia.

First off, with his great indexing ability for such a vast space as the internet itself, the first job for Google that comes to mind would be that of a librarian. Of course, while most people would consider it a boring job – and so, not many GFs – I think a librarian would have a great time just reading up on all that is available around him at the workplace. And, with the aforementioned level of ability, getting to be the librarian at the best damn library in the world would not be any difficult for Mr. Google. Who knows, maybe he could even get to meet a very intelligent SO right there in the library itself, and that would make for a great marriage itself…

Second guess at a career – first-class researcher. We know that he can get a great amount of the required data very quickly. We know that his analysis of what is necessary, and what the next step is from the available data is excellent – just look at the insane amount of suggestions that he provides just from the first few letters you start typing into the search box! Now, I cannot still say with absolute certainty as to which field he would choose – but if I were to guess, I would hedge my bets on applied math. After all, he is quite a bit into algorithms from the data-searching process, which comes naturally to him. Again, this would term him a nerd during school/college; but hey, the contributions forthcoming from his research would be great enough to compensate for any name-calling. Besides, I think he would be self-confident enough to deal with any attempt at bullying. This position should also lead to a quite intelligent life-partner, IMHO.

My next guess would be that he would be a great help to the police and other higher-level investigative agencies in all kinds of investigations. Who better than someone who knows where exactly to look for information than Google to do this – whether it be a case of missing persons, murder investigations, financial wrongdoings, or whatnot? He might even set up his own shop as a private detective, and go down in history as the best in the trade, more famous than Sherlock Holmes – most likely even without the cocaine-snorting habit that the 221B resident was known for. Now, if he were a cop/FBI/CIA/equivalent-in-other-countries guy, then there is not much I can really say about his chances of romance/marriage and happiness or lack thereof.

My final and most likely, in his case, guess – getting a bit tired from the typing, and thinking up stuff by now… I think he would be the one to start the tech revolution in the Silicon Valley (or wherever else he may be comfortable settling down in). Also, I think that he would have started the Big Data trend that has only caught on recently. With this, he would be among one of the first software-related billionaires in the world. I am pretty sure no shortage of girls/models/actresses then, unless he’s already married by the time he hits success…

Well, hope this answer provides for a decent reading…

Sai’s Note: For those that do not know, in Quora terminology, A2A stands for Ask to Answer. That is when someone wants you to answer a particular question, and also gives away some of their own points to motivate you to answer.

New Year’s Writing Resolution

So, here we are in the New Year – 2015 of the Gregorian calendar. My resolution this year has been to get to write more. I had an interesting discussion with a professional writer as to how to get this regular scheduled thing going on, and also as to how he keeps getting the flow of ideas streaming along.

Since I told him that my primary aim is to maintain a blog, before getting into any subject- or topic-focussed writing going, what he suggested was that I should get some discipline going:

Write something down daily, even if only a few lines a day. Keep this up for at least two to three months, and by then, you will not be worrying about either of those two things. Also, you will have developed your individual writing style by then.

This is what he told me to do, and stick to. I have been doing it for the past two-three days really, but in a notebook of my own – nothing worth putting down here. But finally I seem to have hit upon an idea that I think I can write about on here. That will come up after this, obviously. If I am not able to finish the piece tonight (too late now, after all), I promise it will be up on here tomorrow.

So, here’s hoping that there will be plenty more that I can put up here, instead of in my notebook. I know that I haven’t got more than one reader I can count on right now, but reader-count is not what I am doing this for – not right now, at least. 😛

Something I wrote for Rakhi…

I look back at my life – at all the odds and ends
And I have to say this to one of my best friends

You taught me a lot
Whether I realized it then or not
What to do when sad
When things were really bad
You were always there for me
Showing me how to be happy

I hope I learnt it well enough
But I know what to do
When life gets rough
All I need is to talk to you

Yes, we’ve had our petty squabbles and our big fights
From the perceived and the all-too-intended slights
But if I had to live my life anew
I’d want as my sister, always, you!

This is dedicated primarily to my Akka (elder sister in Telugu), who is obviously the  inspiration. But I’d also like to dedicate this to all my other sisters  (since some or most of it is true about each and every one of them) – listed other names on FB not listed here.

Originally written – August 1, 2012.