Category Archives: Self Help Books

Day 25: The story of the half


So here it is. Day 25. I’m now 25% of the way towards my destination of a 100 days. Just to brush myself, I am on a medical leave of absence from my university now and I wanted to make the maximum use of these days, so I set myself a list of 7 goals to be accomplished in a hundred days. This began on January 12, 2012 so that the one hundredth day would be 1 May, 2012. The significance of this date is that it is then that I would submit my papers for readmission for the next semester and hopefully get back to the United States. You can read all my goals on Day 1.

Twenty five percent has a special significance for me. There is a saying in my native tongue (M) that literally translated to “You half, God half”. What this is meant to imply is that in any task that you do, half would be your contribution, while the other half would be from God. No to be taken literally of course – if you are running a 5K, this does not mean God is going to run half of the marathon. I think this refers to all those extraneous factors that are totally beyond your control – which are definitely part of any exercise. You may call this Luck, the people from my native state would prefer God.

I read a very interesting article once that gave a new twist to this saying. The author claimed that he could pinpoint where God would begin and end his influence. He (sorry to my female readers – Nah! You are all optical fibers anyway) cannot help you begin, as this would mean that God is partial to you – which is a gross violation to all the other participants. He cannot help you finish, the same logic applying here as well. Thus, if you put in the first 25% and the last 25%, God would take care of the half in between.

Growing up, I derived a lot of comfort from this saying. To begin something is also a lot harder than simply maintaining it. So if I begin something and put in enough effort, there would come a period where things kinda happen by themselves. Then the task is to take it to completion. I would eagerly begin a task and then wait for God to put that on Auto pilot. I started to learn something – let’s say calculus, would struggle with the initial concepts, then understand them and soon would be more than half way through the chapter. Then I would come across more advanced topics, where I would lose interest and stop. This is not a very good example, but is the only one that I can think of now.

I think very differently about this saying now.

For one, I would like God to take charge of the whole 100% and not just the half in between! But also, I would like to think that he/she is with me in the beginning and the end as well – so that I am not orphaned at either ends of my task.

What would the Gita say?

For one, I am sure that the Gita would claim that it’s all you – “You half, You half”. Further, it would argue that we should do our tasks unmindful of the results so that anything in between shouldn’t affect us – God is an omnipotent being, it is stupid to imagine that he has no role in something..

Aaargh! I really don’t know – it could either be “You half, You half” or “God half, God half” – depending on your point of view. ūüôā

It’s definitely not a mix of both!






Day 23: What is boredom?


I was afflicted with the same disease today as yesterday – complete and absolute boredom. I had no motivation to do anything – I tried reading a book, moved on to tweaking dreamweaver, then lay down thinking I wanted to sleep, then got up and made some soup (My own proud invention). Then I decided that I wanted to write but ended u watching Alien (1979) again. Great movie by the way.

Also, didn’t go to the gym.

So, what’s happening Lord? I ask myself. I ask you. But who are you but nefarious optical fibers that link servers floating around in ¬†a virtual universe? (Evasion, is the first step of a coward), Focus! What is happening to me?

That question itself is not well constructed.. “What is happening to me? ” – It first of all claims innocence on the part of “me” – I am not at fault, please help! A kind of passive of a crime by deigning helplessness. Nothing is happening to me – I am happening to myself. (Philosophizing, second step of a coward).

The lack of motivation is definitely true. The Gym is perhaps the foremost example. I find myself making constant excuses not to go to the gym. Once there, I simply can’t wait to get out. I fool around and then wait for either A or D to finish off so that I can run away with them. I finally found that Artisteer cannot be used to maintain a website, so that kind of rules out that program for the website. I had Dreamweaver installed on my brother’s laptop, but then found out that the heavy volume that I bought is only a Bible of Dreamweaver CS4 and does not really tell you how to learn with it. I feel like I have learned enough Java and there is no progress with it. The same with Tensors – reached till Ricci tensors and then proceeded no further. Bought 10 CD’s of the Bhagavad Gita and heard only one and a half. All my books are half read. I’m basically a ruminating cow now – with a full belly but no nutrition. The “hunger” that I ¬†felt before is replaced by something much less defined – something that’s like a mid summer sun at high noon – oppressive and lethargic. Lethargy – just don’t know if that is the cause or the effect. All this when time lime 25 is approaching – a full 25% of my allotted time.

I am definitely bored. I could blame it on my stomach bug – it seems like i’m pregnant with a food baby all the time. But that won’t go away that easy – been the bane of my life for some time now.

Maybe, like Godin, I should wait, wait?

But I don’t wanna be bored. I loved it early, when I was full of energy and ethusiasm and looked forward to doing everything. Achieving a lot. How did things change? What set this up? Could it be because, i had kind of reached a stalemate in all my goals? Possibly. How do I get out of this?

I’ll sleep on it, and like Scarlett O Hara, will deal with it t0morrow!

Day 22: The Bored sea scrolls


I am so bored. Given my pompous declaration of six highly ambitious goals and subsequent forays into world class wed design on the foots of Steve jobs and Bill jobs, you would expect that I would have no time to be bored. That’s what I thought too…but then I was simply bored the whole day today. I had a bunch of books that I wanted to read – my mind wouldn’t settle on any of them. I tried lying down to sleep, but I was so awake that I couldn’t sleep. Had no motivation in the gym – did a paltry lip service to my routine and then went out to have Shavarma with AJ.

I open one book, then read another before moving onto a third almost immediately. Tomorrow I am gonna read the Mindfulness method and finish it. Only then will I read anything else. I swear!!!

Mindfulness Ahoy!

Day 4: The war of the operating systems


Dreamweaver, ASP.NET and WordPress are all stuck. I mean of course that I have no idea how to proceed from here. ¬†Maybe I should wait to get Dreamweaver running on my Mac again – and then design a style sheet of my own. But due to some stupid licensing issue all my applications have stopped working as soon as I reached India. But then today I got my hands over a program called Artisteer – which is yet another webdesign software. Oh for a day when I won’t come across a web design package – and yet My site is no where up in the air.

But this proves just one thing. When you are strongly willed to do something, ways open up by themselves. I had no idea how to built a website till 3 days ago – but I am quite confident now that with enough time, I’ll soon have my website running. Oh for that day!

As the Rig Veda proclaims:

aa no bhadraaha krithavo yanthu vishwathaha

Let noble thoughts come to us from all sides.

It seems that I am not making any progress on any of my other goals. I hope to start going to the gym from tomorrow onwards. I am beginning to see the beginnings of a resolve to give up smoking. Being fit is as much about good healthy lifestyle choices as much as it is about working out. PLus, I genuinely need some time away from my home each day, and gym is definitely the best for that.

Have been reading Steven Covey’s book. In the first habit now. I feel that I am proactive enough which could perhaps be why I find it slow.

Day 3: The war of the websites


So much for my enthusiasm yesterday. I really thought that I would have become a professional web designer by this time today – unfortunately there seems to be something that I am missing. I can’t seem to tweak the website that I have been given to get the graphic page that I want. I’m stuck for the day and I think I’ll take a break now. Maybe wait for S to get back to me so that I can drill him with more boring questions.

It was also my brother’s birthday today – always a happy occasion. I look back to all those times in the past when I was consumed with dread for my brother – true, he wasn’t ever as academically successful as I was and I have always felt it my responsibility to bring unto him an ‘awakening’ of some sort. I needn’t have worried, I was just projecting my own fears onto him. He’s still lazy but he has everything that’s needed to make it. I see it in the set of friends that he hangs out with, in the interactions that they have with each other, in the way he carries himself and in the way he treats and cares for other people. He is my brother after all! ūüôā

Now that I am not working on the website for the time being, I opened up Stephen Covey‘s Seven habit’s of highly effective people. I have started reading the book some five times by now – but for many reasons has never completed it. This is quite unlike me – I never leave books incomplete – no matter how boring¬†. This does not mean that I don’t think the book is great. Given that I have always been condescending towards these self help – management success books, I was quite struck by the quality of his thoughts. I think, for me, the best thing is that book does not claim instant success – He does not say do this and you’ll be rich tomorrow; practice this and you’ll be surrounded ¬†by friends the next day. Instead, he argues for permanent qualities like character, honestly, sincerity and constant education – things that I myself hold dearly in my life. In fact, I am starting to find the Bhagavad Gita everywhere – have no doubt – the reasons our values remain time honored ‘values’ are because they work. Implementing them in our life is of course, neither easy nor rapid.

I want to one day be able to write about the Bhagavad Gita – at this point, I don’t think I know enough to be able to sermon anyone. In the very low probability event that someone accidentally stumbles on this site, I don’t wanna be seen spreading misinformation. But here are some of my thoughts on the Gita:

The context is this: There is about to be a great war, it’s the climax to one of the greatest epics in human history – the Mahabharata. The Pandavas after decades of ‘injustice’ are at war with the Kauravas who are also their first cousins. On the battle field, Arjun, the greatest warrior dude of the time, falls limp at the thought of having to slaughter all the people that he grew up with – there is also his grandfather, his teacher and other people who literally raised him. This is not a battle between nameless faceless people, this is a war among kith and kin. There is guaranteed to be all out sorrow in the end. Arjun tells his friend, charioteer and great soul Krishna his thoughts – he tells him that it would be better to be selfless at this point and give up right now, than to fight a losing battle. He tells krishna that he’d rather go back and live a hermit than to do this ‘crime’.

Now here’s the great paradox of the Gita – Arjun, by all standards – past and present; will be seen as a noble soul, who does not want to inflict suffering upon other people – who instead of fighting a bloody war, wants peace. Who doesn’t want peace? If Pakistan comes up tomorrow and tell’s India: lets’s not keep fighting and inflict disaster on both sides of the border. We give up – keep kashmir for yourself and let us focus on reviving our economies, teaching our poor and preparing for the future. Enjoy kashmir and good luck with it!! wouldn’t the international community upload Pakistan for it’s noble selfless act that put an end to a bloody war?¬†(What if India were the one to make the same gesture? Would Indian’s think the same? Would the international community respond in the same manner? )

The fact that it was Arjun who raised this and not someone else has a lot of significance for the context: Arjun is part of the Pandavas who are the good guys and protagonists of the story, he is a very able warrior – perhaps the best, he has defeated almost everyone who he has come into contact with – this includes God’s, demon’s and other star warriors. The Kauravas are terrified of Arjun more than anyone else. If anyone can defeat the Kauravas by himself, it’s definitely this dude. So the fact that it is a great warrior who has raised this point has a lot of significance, if it had been anyone else, History would have judged him a coward, who perhaps spoke of his own fear of mortality than out of genuine compassion. This isn’t some puny weakling who is now wanting to avoid a war, but a great warrior.

Krishna responds differently, shocking Arjun. He enunciates the tenets of the Gita – which the way I see it is a philosophy to lead life and succeed emotionally and mentally. I should stop here – I don’t know much else to comment upon. But perhaps I should think of starting a blog on the Bhagavad Gita – maybe do one shloka a day – that would be a great intellectual feat and something that can genuinely help others. But this requires a lot of thought and planning. But doable of course.

This brings me to my own attraction for the Gita. You see, twice in my life I have fallen victim to depression – not the serious persistent kind, but the kind that is onset by an event and goes away in like a month. But during this time I am in terrible agony and thinks constantly of suicide. I now know why ¬†I fall into these mental ‘traps’ and I find that the key is to be able to uplift myself mentally. ¬†This is the task 5 that I have set forth on day 1. The Gita might be just the thing. Let’s see.

I should be writing a post on my depression soon – but it’s a personal post and is always a pain to get to. But let’s see, I can no longer avoid it.

Day 1: Things to do in the next One hundred days


It seems like I have an awful lot of things to do in the next One hundred days. I am quite delighted that I don’t have moderately ambitions goals like “conquer the ¬†world” or “derive the theory of Everything” in my list – it might be easier to teach my father to use the internet.

So let’s see:

  • ¬†I definitely need to work on my body – I have come to love the sadistic feeling of pain and sweating it out at the gym. Also, I need to start now if I wanna have those six packs by the summer beach season. That reminds me to buy a protein pack. I have been using Gold Standard, but that thing is expensive here – maybe I should look around for ¬†a less expensive local brand.
  • ¬†I should definitely solve the problem of torsion of compound prismatic bars. This would make Prof AK quite happy and let him know that I have not wasted his or my time during the break. I would need to convince him that both I am Ok as well as give me something to say for the next four or five years. You see, I’m now on a medical break (Long Story) …and I am quite convinced that AK wasn’t delighted at the turn of events. The project was just shaping up when I just took off and left. I assume there would be a host of papers already published by the time I return – I’m not afterall the only one in the world working on Flexo-electricity. Solving this would be my deal breaker. I can hold my head high when I get back to Brown – and probably start on the experimentation right away. maybe have a paper by the MRS fall conference. Wait, Baby steps lord, baby steps..

This isn’t easy however, and would be the most comprehensive of my tasks – I’m from a materials background and this is a purely mechanics topic. I had famously flunked both the mechanics courses in my undergrad. If only I had known that mechanics would come to bite me in the ass years later….

So to do this task, I need to do the following subtasks:

  1. ¬†Learn Solid mechanics – Professor Bower’s book might be the way to go. I need to open up the book and start reading…maybe I should print the whole thing out – I cannot read a 1000 page book directly from the screen – it might be easier to turn into a cyborg. So the hope is to be able to understand the torsion of prismatic bars ¬†– I’m hoping to god that someone has actually derived it. I have no intentions of turning into a Timeschenko at this age. Brown doesn’t pay me enough
  2. Even with subtask 1, there is no actual closed form solution. This can only mean one thing РAbacus!! Apparently this is some kind of modeling software that would do all the thinking for me. But I had drilled Sean into doing this for me. But that a-hole did nothing! I mean NOTHING! but he did prove that there is no routine in Abacus to calculate strain gradients Рthe holy grail of flexo research. So I would need to write the subroutine by myself.  If I can do this, I might as well write the complete subroutine to be able to calculate the polarization values directly Рthis would be a small step for mechanics, but a giant leap for me. Go me!!
  3. With all of this, I might as well finite element analysis. Which apparently is the basis of all of modern mechanics.

I guess Ak would come and kiss me if I do all this. Maybe I should get two PhD’s for this, instead of one? Some I should look into. If only I had an identical twin brother. Damn random gene pairing rules.

But I should do this task. It is not only a great intellectual challenge, but might propel me from an average student to a research biggie. I should do this..i should ..

  • The short story collection – This is like the one of my oldest dreams. Something that I have wanted all my life. Seriously, I think that this is one of oldest of my unfulfilled dreams. Plus, if I just worked out in the gym and studied for my research it wouldn’t be a medical leave would it? 20 stories should ought to do it. I so far have one. I’m 5 % of the way there. Way to go Lord, way to Go!
  • Design the website – I have been wanting to design the AK group homepage since forever. This might I might actually be able to do it.

I return back having designed the website and having solved the torsion problem; AK would overflow with tears of joy. And I can forever look back and call this my Happy hour. I should do this. Plus, from what I see so far, this is kinda fun!

  • ¬†Work on Depression methods – practice and perfect Wakeful meditation. I should do this, no question about it.
  • Also, learn General relativity ? – this involved tensors, manifolds and field equations. Ambitious but achievable

I guess that’s it. My stepping stones to greatness. I will elaborate on each of them in subsequent posts. There is a story behind each. It should be fun.

So there it is – 99 days to go! Come D-Day May 22, 2012!!!

LordGabbana! Prepare for greatness!!