Saturday, July 14, 2018

Cross-post from Instagram #3 | Kolkata, Pelling, Darjeeling

Instagram is very convenient.  Snap, tweak, filter and post - the work is done. Saves a lot of effort. And the cross-post, it makes the blog look seemingly active too. Multiple birds are killed with a single stone. :)

Here is a cross-post from a trip to Kolkata, Pelling and Darjeeling during June this year.

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Saturday, July 07, 2018

The year of EPGBM - Reflections

The last 12 months had been busy. In addition to work and the regular life, there was an additional  academic agenda. I nominated myself for a Business Management course. 

Name of the course was smartly abbreviated as EPGBM. And since the 3 letter acronym of the Institute offering the course stated with an 'I' and ended with an 'IM' -  I signed up for it. 

There were classes over the weekends, 11 subjects. 11 exams. 2 visits to the campus. At least 3 WhatsApp groups. Couple of fiery debates between members on the correct use of these WhatsApp groups. 

It was quite an eventful year.

While there was a lot to learn from the subjects, this journey also helped us to broaden our horizons and think beyond the regular academic content. And probably that was more important as a life lesson. I had finished my education back in 2007, and after ~10 years EPGBM was a pleasant surprise. As you grow older, you develop your own unique way to handle your academics. You realize what is important, what is not. I wish I had this insight when I was younger. It would have solved many of my dilemmas.

It is said that if you click the first non-italicized entry of a Wikipedia page and keep navigating from one article to the other, you will end-up on the Wikipedia article of 'Philosophy'. It is only because the core of whatever that is known to humans is simply based out of knowledge and reasoning of the human mind. 

Few years back I had developed this silly-ish desire to pursue a formal course in Philosophy. But the desire never materialized. Maybe this desire is just a fad that has clung far too long. But I still believe that studying Philosophy might help me to at least reason myself out of the questions that keep popping up in mind.

The 12 months with EPGBM, transition to a new Project, late night meetings and frequent travelling was an eye opener. I barely managed to keep pace with the course. Attending lectures and giving exams became a challenge. Sometimes I would check-in, board an aircraft, and even collect my baggage with an open laptop, earphones stuffed into the ear canals just to attend the lectures. Work was always a priority, but the course was important too. Family understood this situation and thankfully didn't contribute to this complex equation as a third variable.

And with all this, I realized that if I really wanted to formally feed some flavor of Philosophy to my mind, it will not work the way I handled EPGBM. It has to be a more serious, focused effort and should not be mixed with work. Multitasking seldom helps. And will not work in this case. At all.

The fad still remains, however. :)

As you start getting older you gain more experience in life. And sometimes that experience, your own log of successes and failures will make you reluctant and paranoid. The experience does good, but does bad too.

To ensure that I meet the desired 'KPI's of this course, I kept an Excel spreadsheet to track my attendance. I counted the number of lectures I attended. I forecasted and planned by absences too. Some may say I was just being methodical, but honestly - I was just paranoid. 

The funny part is - I never cared about being so systematic in my past 5.5 years of professional education. More than 50 subjects then, and not a single one was tracked this way. I was younger then, inexperienced, taking life as it came. But 11 years later, here I am - paranoid about just 11 subjects, tracking them in a file, looking at them every other week. With the kind of work we have been handling for the past few years, we have become more conscious of risks and are reluctant to take them. And many a times, this consciousness does not let us put a step forward in a direction that we do not know much of.

The two campus visits were fun. It was a good time off the regular work. Probably we all became at-least 10 years younger during those dates. The entire batch of 100+ students was put up in the same building. It felt like being in a hostel after several years.

And those typical hostel incidents happened too. A room-mate taking away the room keys, leaving the other one spending time roaming about. Someone locking the room from inside, watching a movie with noise cancelling headsets, while the other poor roommate searching for his whereabouts till the movie ended. Bunking a few classes. Skipping the cafeteria food for a better alternative. Late night conversations and morning walks.

And this is just a fraction of my experience. The fellow colleagues would have endless stories to talk about. I can guarantee.

Now that the course is over - we feel a void. The 3-hour slot during the weekends is now empty. We do not know what to do. It does not feel right to waste time now - we have been using those slots for the last 1 year for some good learning. We look around now. What can be done? There are chores in the house to complete, errands to run, pending work from office that can be finished off - but we do not want to do all that. It is all routine, mundane and boring.

Secretly, we want EPGBM to somehow continue.


Sunday, June 17, 2018

Cross-post from 500px #15 | Hands-on with the Raynox DCR-250 Snap-on Macro Lens

Finally I made a decision and decided to get a Raynox DCR-250 to satiate my desires to explore macro photography. I had been eyeing on this snap-on lens for about 5 years now, and clearly knew what to expect. The results are not at all disappointing, and to me this lens is the best equipment to start learning to shoot macro. Here are a few samples, cross-posted from 500px.

Macro photography is indeed tricky and requires patience, depending on what equipment you use. At the same time, it is quite tiring too. I think I need stronger knees, back and elbows. :)

Camera Shy by Vivek Pandey on

Morning Dew by Vivek Pandey on

The lone Ant by Vivek Pandey on

Planning for breakfast by Vivek Pandey on

Posing for the camera by Vivek Pandey on

Hanging in there by Vivek Pandey on

Side Eyeing Cricket by Vivek Pandey on

Monday, April 23, 2018

Cross-post from Instagram #2 | Various

And while the 2018 is slipping by fast, this is a mixed post from Instagram. Since January I've hardly been staying home, and there's suitcase with half of my stuff packed in there all the time. And with all that travel, here are a collection of sights that I saw through my eyes (with some filters added). 

And yes, a cross-post from 500px will follow soon!

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Thursday, January 11, 2018

Cross-post from 500px #14 | Cross-post from Instagram #1 | Egypt

Back in 2012, the Egyptian section of the Louvre Museum had overwhelmed us. It felt as if almost whole of ancient Egypt had been brought over to Paris, and perhaps there wasn't much stuff left back in the country. But then, we were proved wrong. Egypt has a lot to offer, even if you have seen much in museums across the world.

Here are my top 5 conclusions after visiting this magnificent country:
  • Egypt is not only about Pyramids, Tombs, Pharaohs and the mummies. There are several other things to do, see and experience. 

  • There is no bounds to variety in food. And this is irrespective of what your dietary choices are.

  • Feluccas are the quietest boats I've ever been on. Highly recommended in the not so crowded sections of the Nile.

  • For an Indian traveler, Egypt being referred to as 'hassle capital of the world' is probably an exaggeration. We Indians excel in dodging touts and souvenir sellers.

  • Bollywood has quite some fan following among Egyptians. As an Indian, you would be dragged into conversations about Amitabh Bachhan, Shahrukh Khan and Deepika Padukone.
It will probably take us one more trip to explore Sinai and a few oases on the west that we could not cover this time. Meanwhile here is a series of pictures from a recent trip to two cities of Egypt - Cairo and Luxor, cross-posted from 500px and Instagram.

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The Desert of Giza by Vivek Pandey on 500px.comRamses and the sky by Vivek Pandey on 500px.comAli, the Felucca boatman by Vivek Pandey on 500px.comSightings in Cairo by Vivek Pandey on 500px.comSunset in Luxor by Vivek Pandey on
Pyramids, Camels and the birds by Vivek Pandey on
Cairo by Vivek Pandey on
Cairo by Vivek Pandey on

Monday, January 01, 2018

Year end post

So here is the regular 'Year end post'. I have been drafting this since the beginning of December 2017, and the post will seem like a patchwork. But I think that is okay. All that matters is an update. Right?

2017 like every other year, just flew by. But the year was spent pretty well and I have no complaints over how it passed. Here are the top 10 highlights of this year, not necessarily in order:

  • Visited a one-of-its-kind medical museum at the Siriraj Hospital, Bangkok. Stood in the midst of hundreds of real anatomical specimens of the human body. An existential crisis followed thereafter.
  • Traveled to North Korea. Met the Indian Ambassador in Pyongyang under very strange circumstances. Did an AMA with Reddit India, and a short interview with News World India.
  • Discovered Kannur as an awesome beach holiday destination. Drove at the longest drive-in beach of Asia - the Muzhappilangad Beach. Overall, Kannur turned out to be a very pleasant surprise.
  • Lost a phone and switched across three smartphones in the same year.
  • Posted two short stories on Reddit. Two more drafted and shelved them to complete later.
  • Explored the rural Goan villages in an offbeat yet a cliche trip to Goa.
  • Took up a part time course in Business Management. The campus visit reminded of the college days, albeit most of the fellow students just like me were fat, balding and had smartphones to peep into all the time.
  • Visited Banaras after 17 years and witnessed the Ramlila being inaugurated by the current Maharaja of Kashi, from barely a few meters away.
  • Continued with my 1SecondEveryday Project this year too. I had only 6 misses in 365 days. Quite impressive, I must pat my back. :)
  • Did some touristy stuff in Egypt. Climbed inside the Pyramid of Giza. Saw the king Tut-Ankh-Amun resting in his tomb KV62. Roamed around in Luxor all day wearing a Jellabiya and took pride in the fake praise by the vendors and shopkeepers that I look like an Egyptian. A cross-post will follow soon on this beautiful country.

With so much that happened in the previous year, I just wish that the new year gets equally or more eventful. And yes, just like every other year I hope that some of those unfinished projects will see light of the day this year.

To end this post, here is a music video that has been running across our playlists very frequently, influenced by the recent travel to Egypt.

Lets begin 2018 with Boshret Kheir!

Sunday, November 05, 2017

My Mobile Phone History (2002 - 2017)

Last year when I switched to a new phone, I drafted a blog post with a collage of all the devices that I have used ever since I started using mobile phones. Unfortunately that draft post remained to be draft while I switched across four other handsets between then and now.

Here is that update image of my 15 years with phones. As you can see, it blatantly depicts how fickle I am towards the phones that I own. 

This post is simply for record keeping. I will post an update in the year 2020 to see how far have we gone from here.