Talk soon?

I asked my wife today this “What will make you have a second or third chat or meet with a person after talking to them for the first time?”

She said that if they share something interesting about themselves she will be more inclined to have a next conversation.

I remarked that if they asked me a question that made me share something interesting about myself, I would talk to them in the future. I would credit their effort and creativity in asking me such a question and that reveals to me that they were truly engaged.

You see the two different points of view. I was self-focussed and she was focussed on them.

Then, we discussed if the other person being open about sharing their situation in life is an important consideration. We differred here. I suspect that it takes a lot of energy and courage to share one’s life situation to a person that you just met for the first time. She said that it is an important consideration for her.

Here’s to making new friends.

Catalyst Habits Thinking Writing

Dig Deep

What do people mean when they say Dig Deep?

It could mean any of these things

  • Becoming specialized and gain deep expertise in a few subjects that are truly interesting to you
  • Attacking tough challenges by not giving up easily. 
  • Having well thought out views on important issues, even if it takes time to develop. Having deep views on a few subjects is better than shallow views on a lot of subjects.
  • Creating deeper and meaningful relationships with people that matter. It’s better to have 10 deep relationships than a 100 shallow ones. 
  • Going beyond the immediate and obvious solution to a problem. By digging deep, you could ensure the same problem doesn’t come back. If it does, that you have devised a clever way to detect and mitigate it before it impacts widely

There are likely other dimensions to it. Happy trails finding those!

Habits Inspiration

Chin up

Two words can imply a lot…

It means looking forward.

It means looking another person in the eye while having a conversation.

It means not letting immediate challenges keep you looking down.

It means facing a challenge boldly. 

It means facing the future instead of ducking under it.

It means being positive.

It means your expression is visible to everyone around.

It means keeping your ears and eyes open to read the room as best as you can.

It means not letting the butterflies in your stomach keep you down.

It means being open to and looking for possibilities.

It means being bold to point out problems wherever you are – work, home, other.

It means keeping your eye on the prize ahead.

So, chin up and keep smiling

Current Affairs Current Events

Powder Keg

Nothing is improbable anymore. 

A commercial plane flying from Athens, Greece to Vilnius, Lithuania is intercepted by a Belarus military jet and “recommended” to land in Minsk, Belarus despite the fact that the plane is closer to Vilnius. The Belarus Air Traffic control informs the pilot that there is a bomb threat on board. 

The plane lands in Minsk. Everyone’s luggage is off boarded on the tarmac and bomb sniffing dogs get to work. They don’t find anything. Meanwhile, a single passenger is isolated and taken separately by security agents. When the plane was asked to land in Minsk, he instantly knew what was afoot and declared to his fellow passengers that the death penalty awaited him there.

This passenger, Roman Protasevich, was a Belarus dissident living in exile in Poland since 2009. He was instrumental in organizing protests from abroad in 2019 against the autocratic Lukashenko regime that refused to accept the results of the election and bow out.

Lukashenko is ably supported by Russia which sees Belarus as the last stop against NATO expansion. So, now we have a Russia vs EU/West situation riddled with tension.

How did World War I start? Archduke Ferdinand of Austria was assassinated by a Serbian. What was seen as an insignificant killing quickly escalated into a full blown war amongst various nations in Europe. However, there was a backdrop of tension for decades before 1914 in Europe.

Does this incident have that potential? Tensions are already high between Russia and the USA and EU. Russia has continued to support Lukashenko and is promising to send him aid. Russia is brazenly attacking the US using cyber hacking as a war tool. 

Where can this go from here? Belarus will be sanctioned and isolated. Russia could start administering it by proxy. Belarus could see a period of unrest and Lukashenko could be deposed. With Belarus being a neighbor of Ukraine, one could start seeing war like moves in that region. 

It’s an interesting geo political situation that demands closer attention as I believe it has the potential to escalate.

Let’s see in 6 months. 

Personal Writing

End of an Era

My maternal grandfather Sri R.V.V. Rajan left Bhoolokam (our planet) this week. Significantly, he had turned 100 last year and we believed he was going strong. His Acharyan had predicted many decades ago that he would live to be a centenarian. It was quite prescient. 

I loved my Thatha (aka Sithi). He was a fun person to have a conversation with and to just hang out. 

A conversation matters and sticks with you when the other person is genuinely interested in what you have to say. My grandfather had mastered the art of showing such genuine interest. It came to him naturally. He would ask me about other people. He would ask other people about me and my family. I think it was his way of getting a 360 view. 

He experienced the Indian Freedom movement as a youth.He participated with zest in electrification schemes in rural Tamil Nadu. That work took him to various locations. He would recollect his work at Tamil Nadu Electricity Board with fondness and pride. 

His family owned classy cars and he came to see my grandmother with style in one of those cars for the pre-engagement meetup.

He was a good looking and active man. During most of my middle and high school days, he would bike 3-4 kms daily to visit his eldest daughter (my mom) and bring vegetables from the market. I would steal his bike to take “jolly” rounds around the neighborhood. Initially protective, he gave up on locking the bike.

The challenges of raising a family of seven children didn’t seem to faze him. He went about his life tactically, enjoying the daily rhythm of life. The daily requirements of our sampradaya kept him active and engaged. 

Innately curious, he developed a great memory to people and places. Relationships between people was his strong point. He nurtured and built his own social graph and used that to power his interest and empathy. In a gathering, he was the natural ice breaker.

He visited the United States once and was in admiration of this country. When I landed in New York, he was there and I got to spend a week with him. That was such a pleasant experience. 

In later years, he didn’t let his physical discomforts suppress his positive outlook and continuous engagement. He accepted being taken care of by a non family member.

As I reflect, the change in the last 100 years in this world is mind boggling. As I hold my grandfather’s ever present smile, some human qualities are forever comforting. 

Thank you for everything Sithi.