Last week I had the opportunity to share my thoughts and experience with about 70 students from University of Mysore. The theme was life in the Indian IT Industry in 2021 & beyond – emerging trends in the industry & how to stay competitive as a professional.

I enjoyed the journey through the memory lane to distill the highlights. Here is a short summary:

  1. Trend is your friend
  2. Dream > Learn > Publish & Help (repeat)
    • Dream: possibilities are endless
    • Learn: on-the-job learning is different from college-learning
    •  Publish & Help: publish your works & build trust
  3. Compete with yourself, not others
  4. Avoid the zero multipliers in life

What did I learn from Reshma Nilofer

I am fascinated by the shipping industry. 90% of world logistics happens through maritime. 100s of seafarers are held hostage at any given time and hardly any of us care! The TED talk I have watched the most times is Inside the secret shipping industry by Rose George. In a connected world, only 10% of freight ships have internet available for its crew. I subscribed to the Shipping Podcast by Lena Gothberg a couple of years back & happened to listen the interview of Reshma Nilofer last week. She is a maritime pilot (India’s first woman) at Kolkata Port (Syama Prasad Mookerjee Port Trust) & recipient of the Nari Shakti Puraskar in 2018 from the Indian president.

1 insight:

  1. Seafarers and maritime industry deserve recognition as much as healthcare workers in keeping the world’s supply chain running during the pandemic

2 experiences:

  1. Accident while getting off a ship in bad weather in Aug 2020
  2. Serendipitous entry into the shipping industry

3 ideas:

  1. An aspiration for product labels to indicate the role of maritime industry in delivering the product to our hands.
  2. The pilot is employed by the port, not the shipping company. He/she stays offshore at the port and uses a pilot boat to reach the ship. The pilot understands the waterways around the port and maneuvers the ship through the confined waters.
  3. The highest grade of qualification for a seafarer is Master Mariner. A master mariner’s license is considered unlimited because there is no tonnage or geographic limitations for the holder to operate



What did I learn from Micheal Saylor

Micheal Saylor, CEO of Microstrategy, came up in my radar when I was developing deeper interest in bitcoin (reading this & listening to this). In Aug 2020, Saylor invested $250 million in bitcoins using Microstrategy’s cash in the balance sheet. An investor buying bitcoins is one but a business owner of a publicly listed company making a corporate treasury decision is serious.

1 insight:

  1. Technology has “dematerialized” goods. Google dematerialized books & libraries. Apple did that to the camera, photo album, clock, atlas, music. These goods will never see inflation because the marginal cost for these goods is zero due to the demat.

3 ideas:

  1. The headline inflation published by the government is irrelevant for most people. Inflation depends on the life we live and aspire for. Hyperinflation exists in scarce assets such as real estate in Tokyo, London, New York.
  2. To drive adoption among masses- make it easy & give them a role model
  3. On top of the core Bitcoin network which is the base settlement layer, blocks will get built such as Square & Paypal will solve the problem of buying coffee with bitcoin. Apple could provide the hardware wallet to store bitcoin. “Every time a new consistency joins the bitcoin network, they are going to plug a functionality gap”.


I have not watched a single episode of Seinfield nor his standup comedy. I did not know how popular he and his shows are! Then why did I add the Tim Ferris interview of Jerry Seinfield to the listen queue?

  • “he was offered $5 million per show to stay on another season – but quit because he knew the thing that made the show great was slipping away.” from Morgan Housel’s blog
  • Systems, Routines, and Methods in the title of the podcast! (a case of catchy-headline bias!)

1 insight:

  1. On writing – It is hard (arduous, painful, pushing against the wind in soft, muddy ground with a wheelbarrow full of bricks). No one can write all day. Two phases in writing: free-play creative phase followed by polish and construction phase. After you finish writing a piece, cherish the wonderful moment. Wait for a day before sharing with others. 95 percent rewrite.

2 experiences:

  1. Verbal duel with the owner of The Comedy Store in LA (Jerry was 25 years old): I was angry. I was angry. I was frustrated. I was resentful. But I used that. It was just fuel for me. She wasn’t stopping me. Nobody was going to stop me. But when someone is that hostile to you, that can be a very good thing if you’re tough, if you’re tough enough to eat that shit and say, “She’s not stopping me.”. I went from three days a week to seven right there.
  2. As a parent, Jerry did not have time for meals with friends and that is when “coffee happened”.

3 ideas:

  1. Survival is the new success
  2. Life in the 40s – “You get this free ride till you’re, let’s be generous, 43, and then God goes, “You know what? I’m going to move on to the people in their — 16 to 23 and I’m going to give them my best. If you want to hang around, you can hang around, but I’m not giving you anything anymore. It’s on you now. If you want to stick around, go ahead, but I got nothing for you. You figure it out.”
  3. The mind & brain are different. Mind is the wisdom. Brian is primitive/stupid so systemization & repetitiveness is the key to master

Following books were referred to: Is This Anything? by Jerry Seinfield, The Last Laugh by Phil Berger, Body for Life by Bill Phillips, Seriously Funny by Gerald Nachman


In the 2000s, Contest2Win was a significant Indian internet success story & Alok Kejriwal was the brains behind it. I looked up to Alok in those days. Hence was curious to hear to his thoughts & what is he up to recently.

1 insight:

  1. Gaming/sports has strong sense of engagement. So much that people watch other people play even when they are not going to win [or have the pleasure of playing]

2 experiences:

  1. Softbank was early investor in Contests2win. Softbank invited Alok to China & helped establish the Mobile2win business. (2001)
  2. Alok’s company Mobile2win came up with idea to use SMS for the TV show Indian Idol voting (2002)

3 ideas:

  1. Startups that change human behaviours become big
  2. Difference between a mature & young entrepreneur: knowing what to punish yourself for & what not to.
  3. Entrepreneurship requires deep insight. Such deep insights come from silence which in turns comes from being meditative.


Founded in 1559 by Maharana Udai Singh II as a capital of Mewar kingdom. Surrounded by the Aravali ranges, the Jagdish Temple of Lord Vishnu, the City Palace, Lake Pichola are the places to begin your visit. Be at the city palace by 9am to beat the crowds.

Lake Pichola is man-made, built in 1362AD by a trader, not a king. It forms part of the sophisticated lake system of other artifical lakes such as Fateh Sagar.

If you like to include a cliché or two, use the public transport to reach Sajjan Garh/Monsoon Palace for sunset

Chittorgarh, 120km from Udaipur, was capital of Mewar kingdom until Akbar’s siege.

Will go again for:
– Hand-made art/crafts
– Lakes and forts
– Bhel puri

Will not go again for:
– The dust
– Expensive

Thai SukiWhen the plane touches down in Thailand, the mind is set on 2 things: Thai food & Thai massage! Yes, there is a long queue for the visa, the taxi will overcharge, and the traffic is congested. Yet good food & a hearty massage make for a great day in Bangkok.

In a recent short trip to the land of the free (Thai means free, hence land of the free is Thailand), besides the usual indulgence in the sour & spicy Thai flavours the new experience was the Suki, Thai-version of the Chinese hotpot.

The concept of Thai Suki is simple- Every table has a gas or electrically heated pot of broth & ingredients such as vegetables, meat, sea food, noodles can be ordered to choice. The ingredients are cooked in the broth & dipped in a spicy sauce to make for variety of tastes. The broth turns into a nice soup with flavours from the ingredients such as a tinge of sweetness from the corn, the earthy flavours of the mushroom, amazing aromas of celery… Spring onions, Bok Choy, Pumpkin, Carrots, Lotus Roots, Chrysanthemum were some of other vegetables on offer.

We made it to the MK restaurant around 6.30pm on a weekday & the occupancy was close to the capacity of 30-odd tables, primarily locals. As it turned out later, MK is a popular chain of over 300 Suki restaurants operating in multiple countries. The other option is Coca Suki, who are the original creators of the concept in the late-50s.

On other news from this trip: I was accompanied by a friend who was visiting Thailand for the first time. He violated the basic rule of ordering food in Thailand – “never ask for spicy food”. The chef did bloody well to more than meet the request!!!


Though a long time resident of Bangalore in India, Tamil is my mother tongue. Over the years of travel, a few interesting experiences:

Context: Cafeteria in Paris, France @ Lunch time

With the lunch tray in hand, am standing in the queue to pay at the counter. From nowhere, I heard a voice “Eppadi irukkirikal” (meaning “how are you”). First time in Paris and only a couple of colleagues whom I had just met, for that minute I was sure something was wrong in my head and am listening non-existent voices. As I recovered from the shock, the smiling lady at the counter introduced herself as having come from Pondicherry, India and hence Tamil speaking! Pondy was a French colony.

Context: Hotel room in Paris, France @ 7pm on a freezing Monday

Pizza craving had set in. Just for some kicks, decided to rehearse French to order. After some time of “livraison domicile s’il vous plait” (meaning “home delivery please”) and more practice, called a local pizza place. The patient order taker on the other side worked through my broken French accent and managed to take my order. Towards the end, he asked for my full name. I was in half the mind to question the need for full name yet just decided to give in. The guy repeated my name and then says “sir tamil ah?!!” (meaning “are you Tamil”) Dumbstruck! Turns out he is of Sri Lankan origin, coming from Tamil-speaking Jaffna, north of SL.

Context: Nasi Kandar restaurant in Shah Alam, Malaysia @ Lunch time

Nasi Kandar is Malaysian dish-rice with variety of curries and sides. Typically, the restaurants are quick self-service restaurants. One afternoon, with 2 Malaysian colleagues we headed to one of these for lunch. After serving our plates and paying at the counter, we took our seats. One of my colleagues, called the waiter and requested for something (can’t exactly recall what it was). After a couple of failed attempts, I pitched in and spoke Tamil to the waiter knowing well most of them were either from Tamil Nadu, India or conversant in Tamil. How many times does a foreigner get to help locals communicate!

Tamil is the official language of Sri Lanka and Singapore, besides India.

Looking forward to the long weekend in May, I was exploring options to head out “somewhere” in the Philippines. After Puerto Princesa, Palawan in December with family and Boracay in February with friends, now was time for a solo outing.

The craving for white water rafting got better off others and it was Cagayan de Oro in the south. CDO, as it is called in short, is part of Mindanao, one of 3 island groups in the country.

Getting There: On the Friday morning, I reached the domestic terminal in Manila for the Cebu Pacific owned Tigerair flight. Cebu Pacific has since renamed Tigerair Philippines to CebGo. The flight was delayed by a few minutes but that didn’t bother me much, I just wanted to relax and go along with the flow. Cebu Pacific is popular for the onboard fun games, probably reflecting the spirit of Filipinos. It seems the Tigerair subsidiary doesn’t share the same culture. However, they did hand out a bag of free samples of some useful cosmetics such as face wash and sun screens.

Picturesque landings are a common affair in the Philippines with runaways close to the waters. Landing at the Laguindingan airport was no different. With only hand baggage, I was out in a jiffy to be welcomed to the cacophony of operators peddling the shuttle to Cagayan de Oro city, a 40km ride for 200 pesos. Private taxis are instantly available; expect to pay about 600 pesos.

Staying: Seda and Limketkai are locally owned luxury hotels. After I discovered Tune hotels had a property, I didn’t look further. Booking it through Kaligo gave the opportunity to earn a few miles. Unlike the Tune hotel in Kuala Lumpur’s low-cost terminal (now shifted to KLIA2) where air conditioning and towels had to be purchased separately, I was pleasantly surprised to have them all packaged in the price of 1500 PHP here.

Going Around: After a quick bite at Mang Inasal, I took a taxi to visit 2 places in the mountains. Mapawa Nature Park and Malasag Eco-Tourism Village. Malasag is visiting home to some of indigenous tribes who seem to have least influenced by the 400 years of colonial rule. They sell hand man crafts and perform tradition dance at 4:30pm. There is small aviary, not the best I have seen. I did manage to see the national bird, Philippine Eagle albeit in captivity. The cafe has some spectacular views of the city, the waters and the mountains in the other islands, reminding of the views of Bergen, Norway from Mt. Floyen

The next day began with yummy stack of pancakes at Circa 1850, independent restaurant yet sorta attached to Tune hotel. Bugsay rafting turned up a hour late to pick me and others from the hotel. I preferred with advance version, after all I can claim to be an experienced rafting junkie with runs at river Cauvery, Sita and the mighty Ganga ;-) I had to settle for the basic version to go with group. So here it was, my first Jeepney ride from the hotel to the starting point on the Cagayan de Oro river.

The 14 km rafting with about 13 rapids of maximum grade level of 4 guided by the pros was fun, leaving ample time for small talks and soaking in the views. Living in this country, you realize the role of volcanoes and see plenty of evidences dating back millions of years, not in museums but in the outdoors.

City of golden friendship is title given to CDO just as Bangalore is city of gardens which it is not anymore! I usually don’t believe in such tags but guess what! A couple from Zamboanga was on a road trip around the island. I met them at the hotel and we were together in the rafting group. They were really nice to invite me to join them post-rafting for a drive.

Philippines is the second largest exporter of Pineapples in the world. Del Monte has an entire civilization built around Pineapple farms with golf courses and an air strip for private planes. I did have an inclination to visit the place and the Dahilayan Adventure Park in the area. However, I had saved it for a future trip with the wife and little one or friends since a drive were the only viable option. Thanks to the warm Filipino couple, I had the opportunity to visit these places.

Dahilayan Adventure Park is an amazing fun place creativity done with tons of activities for all ages. I was amazed somebody made up such a business so far from the city in a not so prime island group of Mindanao. But then it seems to be working well, the place was bubbling with activity.

After a good night sleep and another nice breakfast, it was time to fly back to civilization.

Blame my phone crash, no pictures!!!


Malaysia, Indonesia, Singapore, Thailand, Brunei, Cambodia, Laos, Myanmar, Vietnam and the Philippines form a political & economical association referred to as Association of South-East Asian Nations i.e ASEAN.

AirAsia ASEAN Pass

AirAsia has a launched pre-paid ASEAN pass for about Rs 10,000 ($160) valid for 30 days and 10 credits. The 60 days/20 credits version is Rs 18000 ($290). Taxes and add-ons such as check-in bags need to be paid when you book the actual flights.

A one-way flight between any 2 destinations in these countries will require either 1 or 3 credits. The way it works is you buy the pass & redeem the credits to book the flights

The details are well-laid out here.

From India, AirAsia flies to Kuala Lumpur from 6 cities (Bangalore, Chennai, Hyderabad, Kochi, Kolkata, Trichy) and a return ticket should be anywhere between Rs 10,000-15000. If you are flexible with dates and patient to book way in advance, look out for the periodic sale for some sweet deals.


Adding up an additional Rs 5,000-10,000 for taxes/add-ons + Rs 5,000-10,000 for visas, one can fly around South-East Asia for just about Rs 30,000-45,000.

This is a great product from AirAsia leveraging its wide network in the region.

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