Saturday, 2 December 2017


Holy Water definition - (noun) Water that has been blessed by a priest for use in "symbolic" rituals of purification

A month ago, I found out that the babysitter had been giving Holy Water to our 3-year old. A devout Catholic and extremely fond of our lad, she was upset about him getting unwell very often, and so she reckoned that it was only wise to have sought a little divine intervention to help him stay safe. Needless to say, I was left aghast. Make no mistake, I am not an atheist. But in today's age of science and technology, it is kinda silly to seek recourse to religious (and largely symbolic) articles, instead of medicine. Moreover, it would have probably been acceptable if the water was fresh - holy water is usually distributed during Easter, which means that the water is usually stored for almost a year before it is changed. The philosophies behind religious symbolism are not commonly understood.

Speaking of things that are not commonly understood, there's something else that's setting the popularity charts ablaze in the world of investment, and yet is very poorly comprehended. Say hello to cryptocurrency!

One of the most popular descriptions of cryptocurrency is 'a form of digital money that is designed to be secure and, in many cases, anonymous.' It is a currency associated with the internet that uses cryptography to track purchases and transfers. The first cryptocurrency was bitcoin (2009) and to date it remains the most popular. Since then, a plethora of cryptocurrencies have made an appearance over the past decade, with more than 900 now being available on the internet.

Contrary to the name, however, cryptocurrency has not yet gained acceptance as legal tender. Till date, Japan remains the only large economy to have officially recognised cryptocurrency (bitcoin) at par with fiat currency. Although many countries do consider cryptocurrencies as legal, most of them only consider them as a trade-able commodity or as property for tax purposes. In fact, some countries like China, South Korea, Hong Kong and Britain, among others, have all moved to either ban or restrict the use o cryptocurrencies. Closer home, the RBI had made known its position on bitcoins by stating that they were not to be used for payments and settlements, although the use of the underlying blockchain technology could be explored.

What is it that makes economies wary of using cryptocurrencies as legal tender? Let’s see how cryptocurrencies match up against the generally-accepted characteristics of a currency: -

  • Fungible – Advocates of cryptocurrencies vouch for their high fungibility on the basis of the argument that digital 1s and 0s that represent units of bitcoin on the blockchain are absolutely like each other. However, cryptocurrencies are not really fungible in the traditional sense. Some bitcoins, for instance, are not clean, in that they leave a trace on the blockchain. In such a scenario, clean bitcoins tend to command a better price than their counterparts. Moreover, it is possible for service providers or exchanges to blacklist specific bitcoin wallet addresses, which would then render any transactions with such bitcoins worthless. The tracing and monitoring of cryptocurrencies, therefore, does not make it any more fungible than fiat currencies.
  • Non-consumable – Bitcoins, being virtual currency, are inherent non-consumable, and possess value in themselves. Like fiat currency, they can be used to procure other commodities/services, without being used themselves, unlike commodities like gold and diamonds.
  • Portable - It can be argued that cryptocurrencies are easy to transport/transmit and literally weigh nothing. In fact, it comes with its own global teleportation system. However, it is worthwhile to consider the fact that heavy investment and a great degree of skill is required to keep digital money secure. Also, since cryptocurrencies are decentralised and unregulated, there is absolutely no hope of remedy or legal recourse in case hackers make away with your cryptocurrency. To cut a long story short, cryptocurrency once lost is truly lost forever.
  • Durable - Cryptocurrencies edge out fiat currency and precious metals when it comes to durability. However, there is the risk of a huge problem in case you lose the private key. Imagine a crashed hard drive - this is not necessarily a remote possibility.
  • Divisible - Cryptocurrencies score high on the divisibility parameter. Bitcoins, for instance, are divisible down to 8 decimal places (1 Satoshi = 0.00000001 BTC).
  • Secure - Being in digital form does not make cryptocurrency any more secure than physical assets. In fact, it probably is even tougher to secure something that is virtual and extremely vulnerable to attacks from hackers.
  • Easily Transactable - Being decentralised, cryptocurrencies require absolutely no intervention by middlemen and are not bound by bank branch office hours. This makes them theoretically low-cost and easily transactable.
  • Scarce - Most cryptocurrencies have designed to be limited in number. Hence, in the long run, they are scarce. Physical assets derive their intrinsic value from a combination of their scarcity and their utility outside the purview of currency. In the case of cryptocurrencies, they have no other use apart from that of a currency. However, it must be noted that bitcoins can be mined (it serves as a price discovery mechanism). Thus, it is their scarcity and mine-ability that determines their intrinsic value.

As we can see, cryptocurrencies have their sets of pros and cons vis-a-vis fiat currencies and physical assets. However, the pace at which bitcoin prices have risen in the past year alone sets warning bells ringing. It would not be unfair to say that the phenomenon of rising prices of cryptocurrencies point towards a bubble in the making.

Some aspects that add to the skepticism are: -

  • The fact that cryptocurrencies are traded anonymously means that they are traded in an ecosystem that is largely shrouded in mystery
  • The decentralisation and lack of regulation makes systems like the blockchain a highly risky and potentially investor-unfriendly place
  • There seems to be a great gap between the intrinsic value of cryptocurrencies and the prices they command; what's worse is that this gap is impossible to quantify, unlike in the case of physical assets
  • Unlike commodities, investors do not really have anything to hold at the end of a transaction. At least in the case of physical assets, investors can hope to cut their losses by salvaging some value through the sale of an asset that has lost its value. In the case of cryptocurrencies, there is no middle path; it's usually 'all or nothing'.
  • In this market, the innovators and early adopters have made huge gains, Late adopters and laggards stare at the possibility of humongous losses in case cryptocurrencies end up failing or turn out to be a widespread fraud like some detractors fear that they might be

In conclusion, I think that unless investors possess the kind of money to purchase infrastructure capable of mining cryptocurrencies and keeping them secure from the threat of hacking and system crashes, they should avoid cryptocurrencies like the devil avoids holy water.

Speaking of Holy Water - last week I saw the babysitter making my son drink holy water yet again. 

This time though, I smiled nonchalantly...because every morning since the past month, I have been refilling the bottle with RO-purified water.

Saturday, 11 November 2017


Once again, like November last year, Delhi has been engulfed in Smog. If experts are to be believed, the situation seems to be much worse this time around. The Delhi state government has decided to take late quick action and introduce the odd-even car rule between 13th-17th November to help alleviate the situation.

Needless to say, the rising pollution levels in the country as a whole and particularly in the Capital are matters of grave concern. But in true Indian spirit, let's just laugh it off like we don't care.

The Prince of Wales and his wife, the Duchess of Cornwall (Charles and Camilla) arrived in the Capital on Wednesday, the 8th of November on a two-day visit. They were greeted by a thick layer of smog. I wonder if they really could see the officials who had come to welcome them; that would have been quite a sight.

Presenting a song composed by yours truly as a tribute to the Royal Couple's visit to Delhi. I swear this is not a parody of the Deep Purple classic 'Smoke on the Water'.


We all set out for Palam
On the DMRC Orange Line
To click selfies with some Royals
Coz we are Firang-philes

Ole Charlie and his Begum
Were at the best place around (at the time)
But when their aircraft made a landing
They had no choice but to get aground

Smog On The Water...And Royals in the Sky
Smog On The Water

We fished out our cameras (that double up as phones)
And turned on their auto flash
We pointed them at Charlie and his wife
But all we saw was ash

We squinted harder and harder
To catch a glimpse of royal meat
But when the haze had finally cleared
We saw they'd already beat a retreat

Smog On The Water...And Royals in the Sky
Smog On The Water





Sunday, 24 September 2017


A UN forecast tips India to surpass China in terms of population by the year 2024. The same forecast estimates that the Indian population could cross 1.5 billion by 2030. To put this in perspective, India and China will together have accounted for almost 38% of the world population by then. But while China's national agenda seems to have given significant focus to population control, India's efforts in this direction thus far have been perfunctory at best. There was a time when large families were considered a blessing because 'many hands make light work'. However, in current times of over-stressed resources, drying investments, dearth of job creation and human jobs being threatened by artificial intelligence, a rapidly rising population could mean a looming crisis.

Only a few months ago, India had surpassed China to emerge as the 'fastest growing large economy'. However, the economy is currently in a tailspin, grappling with high inflation, poor consumer demand, lower private investment and stagnation in exports, among other worrying factors. The demonetisation of November 2016 and the seemingly poorly implemented GST are likely to have given rise to significant uncertainties pertaining to growth, inflation, liquidity and the banking system in the country, at least in the short to mid term. Consequently, there are concerns that GDP growth is likely to drop by at least two percentage points. Some economists opine that a drop of one percent of the GDP leads to the loss of about one million jobs. And worryingly so, a survey conducted by economic think-tank Centre for Monitoring Indian Economy estimates that roughly 1.5 million jobs have been lost between January and April 2017.

As per a UN report, the size of the Indian working-age population increased by 300 million between 1991 and 2013, while the number of employed people increased by only 140 million. In China, the number of jobs grew by 144 million between 1991 and 2013 for a 241 million rise in the working-age population. The relative inability of the Indian economy to generate sufficient employment signifies a serious challenge given the continued expansion of the workforce in India. As per media reports, this situation has worsened ever since, with merely 1.35 lakh new jobs having been created for the 12 million people that entered the workforce during that period. Although the government had initially promised to create one crore jobs per year, one of its pledges for 'New India', as listed on the PM's website wants citizens to be "job creators rather than job seekers".

The Centre has now indicated that they might release a stimulus package to boost the economy and help create more jobs. Needless to say, this needs to be done quickly; the spurt of layoffs being witnessed in the recent months is alarming. Without a quick and sustainable remedy to the looming crisis, India's potential demographic dividend will be rendered a colossal 'demographic handicap'.

Thursday, 31 August 2017


I Stand At The Foot Of The Hills,
Sapped, Drenched, Hungry, Full Of Despair, 
Gazing Dis-spiritedly At The Summit,
And The Vast Rocky Expanse Leading Up To It.

But Soon As The Orange Sun Emerges,
From Behind The Imposing Peaks Of Green,
And Begins To Bathe The Azure Sky,
In Hues of Orange, Purple and Gold.
And As The Sun's Shiny Gilded Rays,
Begin To Seep In Through Slits And Crevices,
Created By The Lazy Lifting,
Of The Woollen Blanket From The Luscious Lofty Hills.

I Wait For 'God's Fingers'
To Gently Cast An Even Sheet Over Me,
And I Wait For The Warmth Of Those Heavenly Rays,
To Dry Out, Renew And Rekindle My Sappy Spirit.

Crepuscular Rays: Rays of sunlight that appear to radiate from the point in the sky where the sun is located, especially those that stream through gaps in clouds or between other objects.

Please feel free to leave comments, whether or not you liked what you read. It's a great way to start a conversation or a dialogue. I might be pretty boring in real life, but I promise I'm a lot more fun in this avatar.

A big thank you to Vidya Nidhi from Bangalore for allowing me to use this wonderful image clicked by her. The photo of Crepuscular Rays was clicked in Munnar, Kerala. Vidya Nidhi is pursuing a Masters' Degree in Psychology at Montfort college, Bangalore. She loves traveling, cooking, and reading. She attributes her interest in psychology to her curious nature. Her Instagram URL is

I would also like to take this opportunity to share something with you. I have nominated my blog for IndiBlogger's Indian Blogger Awards 2017. I have nominated my blog for 5 award categories, namely Humour, Memoirs, Short Stories, Poetry and Self Improvement. Although the determination of award winners of blogs will largely depend on evaluation by an esteemed jury, about 20% of the scoring will be based on testimonials sent by readers/fans. So if you've ever liked what you've read from my blog, now's the time to show it some love by clicking the link and leaving a testimonial/comment.

You will be able to leave your comment while being logged into FB. Your comments are important to help me pull off a win, or maybe come close. Most importantly, it would let me know where I stand.


Sunday, 20 August 2017


Imagine a scenario - You are a young strapping 18 year old youngster, lively and bubbling with energy, and you are standing in a queue to buy tickets for a movie. The movie is extremely popular, and all of your friends have watched it. But you haven't watched it yet, and because of a hectic schedule, today's the only day you can think of watching the movie. But there's a problem - tickets are getting sold super fast, the queue is long, and you're almost at the tail of this queue. But hey, heroes find solutions, don't they? The rules say that you need to be in queue, but winners "bend the rules". So you decide to break the queue, manipulate your way ahead, and get hold of your ticket. You save the day.

Let's change your circumstances a wee bit now. Imagine yourself now as a young man who's physically handicapped, or a man who has brought along his 4-year old kid, or a pregnant lady, or a senior citizen. For all practical purposes, you now prefer to follow the rules and get into the queue. Now imagine a youngster who's standing right behind you trying to break the queue and get ahead of you. How would you react to that?

Chances are you're not going to like it a wee bit. In fact, you might even consider giving the young brat a piece of your mind.

Here's the funny thing about rules - as much as you'd want to be able to do whatever you wanted to do and whenever you wanted to do it, without being bound by rules, you wouldn't want the same absence of rules to apply to everyone else. The reason is simple - it's because of the human need for self-preservation and security.

Here are some interesting things about rules:-

Rules ensure a great deal of consistency. Consistency helps in setting expectations for ourselves and for those around us. In civil society, for instance, we know that if we want to be treated with respect and dignity, we will need to behave ourselves and maintain good conduct, We know that we can not invade others' private spaces and properties - we can not barge into someone's house and grab stuff from their refrigerators, no matter how hungry we might be. We could, however, request for help and assistance; that would be acceptable behaviour. This is what differentiates us from other species. Without any sense of consistency in terms of behaviours and responses to behaviours, we'd all be savages.

Rules foster a sense of trust and security. In the absence of rules, everything in the world would be grabbed and controlled by those who were strong, whether physically or economically; the weak would end up with absolutely nothing. Rules ensure protection for the weak. This is why the Human Race has witnessed the emergence and spread of so many great religions and dogmas over the ages. Religions and their laws were introduced to lay down a set of rules and instil a fear of a higher superior power, who would be the supreme authority. As time progressed, religions would eventually come to be replaced by constitutions, rules, and statutes. Without these in place, society would be rife with injustice and exploitation of the weak.

Rules reduce chaos. Imagine not having traffic rules. Imagine not having queues. Or maybe absence of rules pertaining to celebrations in public spaces. The results would be chaotic, and maybe even dangerous, right? Rules help keep chaotic situations and potential dangers at bay.

Sunday, 6 August 2017


I've always been a lover of music. Wide exposure (especially through the Internet) has made me an avid fan of music cutting across genres, ranging from 'Bollywood' music, Ghazals, Sufiana, Hindustani Classical music to Classic Rock and Heavy Metal. Although listening to music topped my personal list of stress-busters, learning the guitar was a thought that always fascinated me since my teenage days. I would sometimes borrow my sister's old guitar to try my hand. and slowly and patiently managed to work my way through the basics. So imagine my delight when my sister and brother-in-law gifted me a brand new acoustic guitar on my birthday early this year.

Learning to play the guitar was an attempt to go beyond merely listening to music to overcome stress. Almost a year into the journey, I can proudly say that I have come a long way. Apart from the musical bliss, however, learning to play the guitar has taught me a few 'Lessons of Life'.

Lessons learnt from learning to play the Guitar:-

  1. No Pain, No Gain: Bruised and blistered finger-tips can deter many beginners early on. But it is important to carry on. Eventually, the calluses formed on the fingertips through repeated friction help desensitise guitarists from the pain, and the guitar-playing only gets better. In life as well, perseverance pays off in the long run.

  2. Fear Hinders Progress: Early on, I purchased a Capo thinking it would help me avoid barre chords. I even came up with a phrase of my own 'When Life Gives You Barre Chords, Put A Capo On It'. However, I eventually realised that avoiding barre chords led to heavy restrictions on my learning. After mastering the basic open chords, I realised I couldn't play beyond a few simple songs only because I did not know have to play barre chords. When I realised how much of an obstacle it had become, I finally decided to let go of my fear and ditch the Capo. Although it was painful and extremely frustrating in the beginning, it opened up a whole new world for me in my journey as a guitarist. In life as well, one must learn to let go of fear and take a leap of faith. You might end up failing, but at least you moved.

  3. It's okay to ask for help: Although I did not take help from a personal guitar coach, I did not hesitate to look up tutorial videos on YouTube or even consult friends for help with strumming patterns and chord progressions. Seeking help does not amount to self-doubt and does not mean admitting that you are weak; it simply means you want to improve.

  4. It is never too late to learn: Most of the world-renowned guitarists started off pretty early, with an average age of 15 being the latest (Judas Priest's Glenn Tipton apparently started out at age 21). Although I'm nowhere in the A-league of guitarists, I'm not the only one to have decided to learn to play the guitar after crossing the age of 30. It is never too late to start learning; learning can start at any time and can go on till a person's final breath.

  5. Understanding 'why' can make life easier: There is logic and science behind the sounds a guitar makes - string combinations, string tension, muting effect, et al. Likewise, people and things behave in a certain manner for a plethora of underlying reasons. Understand this helps us gain wonderful perspectives and insights about people and about life at large.

  6. Innate talent can be an advantage: Like many others, I was fortunate to have an innate ear for music. I realised I had the advantage of identifying right notes from flawed ones, and this held me in good stead. There is nothing to be guilty about using your innate talent to your advantage. In fact, not putting your talents to good use is foolish.

  7. Talent without hard work does not guarantee success: You might be a naturally gifted musician at heart, endowed with all the flair and brilliance that the best guitarists possess. But if you do not work hard at sharpening your skills, you will not progress beyond a certain level.

  8. Passion can be a form of escapism: Often, the love for playing guitar can transcend the passion for music; it could reflect escapism or a filler to a void in a person's life, or perhaps something to boost a person's sagging self-image. It is okay to pursue something passionately to fill a void, but one must be careful to be able to draw the limits so as to not let his/her alternate life take control of conventional life.

  9. Perfect string + Bad Tuning = Noise: A perfect guitar string that is tuned badly can ruin a musical performance, even though the string is not inherently flawed. Likewise, most people are inherently nice, but could come across as repulsive simply because of behaviour spawned by bad experiences.

  10. It is hard to hold onto a habit that you don't enjoy: It is not unusual to hear about people who initially take to the guitar with full enthusiasm, but eventually the interest fizzes out. The same can be said about gymming, and about hobbies. If you decide to pursue something that you do not enjoy, and that you are not really passionate about, you are bound to end it sooner or later.

Monday, 24 July 2017


It has lately become common to hear news of layoffs, especially in the IT, Telecom and BFSI sectors. The reasons range from a general slowdown in the economy, lower consumer spending, a sharp contraction in exports, and artificial intelligence/automation taking over jobs that were otherwise done by humans.

Needless to say, losing a job is a gut-wrenching experience for those who have been let go. Indeed, people who lose their jobs are left to struggle with tremendous amounts of stress, anger, hurt, grief and fear about what the future holds for them. Interestingly though, some (if not all) of those left on the job after a layoff also tend to find themselves mentally and emotionally drained after surviving the ordeal. These survivors go through what is known as ‘layoff survivor sickness’ (LSS), which is a complex concoction of emotions.

Losing a job is not just hard for those who have been let is also mentally and emotionally draining for survivors

Layoffs are used as a measure to “get rid of the deadwood”, reduce costs and improve efficiencies. However, they create a sense of personal violation and can severely impact personal and organisational performance at a time when the organisation needs a concerted effort to bring about a change for the better. There are at least five survivors for every laid-off employee, and therefore, organisations can not afford to ignore the impact of LSS. Unfortunately, not enough has been written on this subject.

The feelings and emotions that employees going through LSS encounter are:-

1) Fear, uncertainty and insecurity
Employees that have survived a layoff might find themselves in shock, and although they will initially feel relieved that their jobs are intact, they might eventually begin to feel anxious. The fear and insecurity will stem from the perception that their jobs have been retained only for the short term and that there are more cuts to come in the near future.

What employees should do: The most human and instinctive reaction to layoffs is panic. This can hamper an employee’s general well-being, peace of mind, and performance at the workplace. The ideal thing for an employee to do is to maintain his/her composure and have a back-up plan in place for contingencies. Discussing possibilities of cutting household budgets with dear ones, evaluating and enhancing skill sets, and regularly monitoring opportunities are some activities that could make employees feel more in control.

What employers should do: It would not be wise for companies to create fear and panic among employees by bluntly revealing their layoff plans to employees. This would make it practically impossible to get employees to sustain their focus on their tasks. However, the right thing to do would be creating and maintaining lines of communication to keep employees regularly updated about the state of the business and to seek advice. Some effective channels of communication are information meetings, informal chats, emails, and even one-on-ones. This approach helps foster trust in the management and better understanding among employees.

2) Anger, resentment, frustration, betrayal and distrust
It might be argued that employees who have survived ought to be grateful for having been allowed to keep their jobs. However, it is sometimes possible for survivor employees to feel anger, resentment, betrayal and distrust towards the organisation and their bosses after a layoff, especially if it came as a complete surprise.

What employees should do: Contrary to popular belief, keeping grief and frustration bottled up is not the right way to go. Venting feelings should not be construed as a sign of weakness, albeit in a professional and civil manner. Layoff survivors ought to surround themselves with positive and supportive people. However, engaging in gossip and loose talk with excessively negative colleagues could be unproductive and exacerbate the negativity.

What employers should do: Companies should desist from misleading employees about their downsizing plans. For instance, stating early-on that jobs will not be affected, only to eventually bring the axe down will certainly lead to a great degree of anger and mistrust among survivors. It can cause a major dent in motivation and even lead to high performers considering leaving. After the layoff, employers must actively listen and respond to survivors in an empathetic manner.

3) Guilt, sadness and depression
It is normal for employees who have survived a layoff to feel a heavy sense of guilt. They begin to retrospect about their careers and the reasons for their survival. Survivors who witness their valued colleagues or work buddies being fired are overcome with grief, which could develop into depression if left ignored.

What employees should do: It helps to recognise that these feelings are normal. Denying or bottling up these feelings will not help. In fact, taking time off to grieve can be of immense help. Talking it out with someone who is a good and sensible listener can also help alleviate the pain.

What employers should do: Providing counselling to survivors can be highly beneficial to help employees acknowledge and vent their feelings and to attain some sort of closure.

4) Feelings of disillusionment and worthlessness
Survivors might feel disillusioned with the work life and culture in the organisation and might begin to look at themselves as mere numbers/resources and statistics in the eyes of the management. They might begin to feel that the organisation doesn’t really care about them or their co-workers and are only concerned with revenues and profits.

Layoffs aren't easy for the management either

What employees should do: Employees must recognise the fact that layoffs are not easy for the management either – these are decisions that require a great degree of courage and objectivity. Layoff survivors invariably tend to end up with heavier workloads, and therefore, it would be helpful for them to openly communicate with their bosses the fact that it would be possible to make a few mistakes while coping with the workload. Survivors should also consider attributing a sense of value and purpose in their own profession rather than in the organisation.

What employers should do: Employers should ensure that their layoff processes are respectful and afford a dignified exit to those being asked to leave. Layoff survivors should be able to see that dismissed employees are being treated well. For instance, if the employees who were asked to leave suddenly find it hard to get in touch with the HR department to get their paperwork or compensation settled, it will put the company in bad light, even in the eyes of survivors. Companies must also explore the possibility of extending a few work-linked benefits like insurance, healthcare, etc., to retrenched employees after layoffs, maybe for a few months. The organisation must also share with survivors their plans for improvement, and results.

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