How many times have you changed your narrative?

We all have a story. That story evolves and progresses as we grow old. We always justify our present by looking at the past. We try to build a narrative that is comforting to our minds. Every milestone in that narrative has a good reason. You did your MBA because you were saturated in your engineering job. You did not get a good job after an MBA because the market was not right. Then you worked for an NGO because it was your inner calling. You met your spouse because it was just meant to be. So on and so forth. As long as all those narratives accurately justify your present, you try to watch reruns of these narratives in your mind. It is peaceful.

But oftentimes we are forced to change that narrative because the present demands it. For instance, you did your MBA because there was no other option. You met your spouse at that party because your friend wanted you guys to meet. Now that you are not happy with your spouse, you change the narrative of meeting your spouse from a happenstance to a bad event triggered by your stupid friend. You might have struggled at getting good jobs in your early career but now that you have a cool high paying job you attribute that to the fact that you went through all those wrong jobs.

The more we change our narrative, the more we get uncomfortable with who we are as individuals. And it is not our fault that we change our narratives. See the world around us, it enables us to do so. The choices that we have today from options on Tinder to what you can major it at university to the toppings on your burger and overwhelming. Inadvertently you are bound to make the wrong choices that won’t clearly justify your present. That piece of puzzle won’t fit right but you have to live with it eventually. Which means you have to live with the discomforting “reruns” of the present narratives until you get a chance to change the narrative again.

Given such situation it would be only a wishful thinking to have a constant unifying narrative that clearly explains the story of your life without a glitch. Having said that, the lesser we change our narratives the better it is. That is just a deductive reasoning and a hope for better living.

Now look at the other side of the coin. People around you also try to build a narrative for you. They might have a collection of hundreds of people around them. Some narratives are objective and shallow chronology of events. For instance, he went to school, he sucked at school, he dropped out, he got into drugs, he was lucky to meet a super smart entrepreneur who changed his life. Some narratives from your close ones can be subjective, their own reality of how they have seen your story evolve. Your dad might create a narrative that you joined that low paying NGO job after your MBA because you couldn’t deal with pressure of the corporate job. How others perceive you also change the way you see yourself because now their narrative of yourself and your narrative is in a direct conflict.

Again it will be a wishful thinking to align your narrative to the perceived narrative of other. It won’t happen. But smaller the differences between how you see yourself and how others see you, higher the mental comfort you will have around them. I believe that the lesser narratives you have about yourself, the easier it is for people to build their narratives of you closer to the one you hold.

The double-edged sword of incentives

Back in the 18th century, Britain was overcrowded with prisoners

Convicts from Britain were transported to Australia

Rise of crime owning to poverty in overcrowded cities was the main reason

These convicts were usually transported on Hulks( transport ships)

Life on these Hulks was terrible, more than 40% of the convicts died on the way

The captain/owner of the Hulk was paid on per convict basis

More the convicts he carried, more money he minted

However, these convicts were poorly treated during their journey; low rations, unhygienic conditions and cramped quarters

The management wanted to keep the costs low

Over a period of time, the British Government learned about this

They changed the payment system to transport the convicts

Now, the management of the Hulks would be only paid on the basis of per convict that safely landed in Australia

Post this, the number of convict deaths on the hulks dropped by a mere 2%

Nothing changed actually, the Hulk management was now incentivized to cram more convicts on the transport hulks

Towards the beginning of 19th century, all private Hulk ownership was phased out

British Government took the ownership of transporting convicts

Any reflections?

Some Wishful Thinking

150 years ago big factories were based near a thermal power plant, steam was needed to operate machinery.

80 yrs ago the advent of electrical transmission allowed factories to be closer to human settlements; Freedom 1.0

This led to the formation of megacities in the developed world

30 yrs ago you could place that factory anywhere in the world; globalization, freedom 2.0

Manufacturing in the developed world became uncompetitive. This led to the formation of megacities in the developing world, all Manufacturing was outsourced there.

20 yrs back internet happened that led to the rise of the knowledge worker

10 years back Manufacturing GDP started to shrink, Service GDP rose

The economic costs of settling in a city were prohibitive. Health costs were alarming. Stress on the transport system was overwhelming

In 2020 there was an exodus of people from cities to small towns. This exodus was triggered by a virus

By 2030 70% of knowledge workers worked from home; Freedom 3.0

New small and sustainable cities began to form

The burden on megacities was halved. Real estate prices collapsed. Carbon footprint per capita reduced by 30% and everyone lived happily ever after

Or was it just wishful thinking?

You are not exactly doing what you were trained to do?

Are you an Engineer, Geologist, Literature major, Finance major, Botanist?

And you are not exactly doing what you were trained to do?

Not your fault

We are all entangled in the trap of #Taylorism and how it shaped our education system

What is Taylorism?

The principles or practice of scientific management and work efficiency

Translates to: reward obedience and embrace repetitive tasks

The Taylor system demanded specialists because specialized people do specialized stuff day in and day out and that leads to efficiency

And hence our education system developed the “batch” production process. Here the products were students

Our education system was designed to “mass-produce” specialists and not “mass-customize” multidisciplinary individuals

Eventually, there was an excess supply of mass-produced specialists for the economy to absorb

Hence, Mechanical #Engineers, ended-up coding and Botanist majored in Finance to work at the Wall Street

But Taylor was right then, the world badly needed efficiency

However, our #education system continues to mass-produce specialists when the world actually needs multi-disciplinary individuals

Direction and Impact is all you need

Usually, people struggle with two aspects when it comes to having a purposeful, #happy and #successful life

1. Finding a direction
2. Creating an impact: making it big in that direction

Direction: Knowing that you just love to play cricket and you are going to make a living out of it

Impact: Playing for your country

Direction gives you a sense of purpose

The magnitude of your impact gives you a feeling of accomplishment and happiness

Without a direction, the possibility to make it big is almost 0

Unless you are just lucky

To achieve their wild dreams, people without a direction often seek shortcuts and random approaches (it is their strength or risk-taking aptitude)

Very few succeed out of sheer luck; right time, right place and big dreams

People with direction strive to create that impact all their lives; some are able to create modest success stories and some definitely make it big

You will hear more popular stories about people without a clear direction who make it big (rags to riches, lost causes, serendipity).

Those stories are really interesting, everyone wants to believe that anything can happen.

The problem is no one wants to talk about direction and #purpose yet everyone wants to make it big

Bollywood: La Familia

Why is the family business model so prevalent in #Bollywood? If we thoroughly answer this question, we might get some cues on why #nepotism is so rampant in Bollywood

Bollywood is small. Yes very tiny for the disproportionate influence it has on us. The estimated size of Bollywood is $3B per year. Just to give you a perspective, Avengers End Game collected $3B worldwide.

Small and fragmented industries are not able to pull capital from big investors or production companies. Why risk your capital on something tiny and uncertain?

Then who has the risk appetite to invest in risky and fragile concepts of Bollywood? You are right! family businesses

Standard practices/decision making/hiring in any business depends on what kind of capital the business uses. Study how venture capitalists manage their investments, you will get an idea.

The moment it is a #familybusiness, it is up to their discretion to decide how they manage their business and how they hire, retain, or fire talent.

To conclude, here is a definition of Nepotism pasted from Google
Nepotism (noun): The practice among those with power or influence of favoring relatives or friends, especially by giving them jobs

Connect the dots 🙂

If you personify China

China is a very hard working individual with a very bad attitude. And It is a very difficult combination to deal because the bad attitude would be always justified by the hard work and the value that was created after so many years of toiling

There has been muscular growth (GDP, roads, prosperity) without adequate emotional growth.

Hence China lacks soft power.

Lack of soft power is balanced with hard power: hard influencing, stubborn nature and bullying.

Sadly no one can shape China’s #behavior/attitude today.

Boycotting Chinese goods is like giving it more reasons to carry a nasty attitude.

China has to reflect and seek help before it turns into a monster that needs to be decapitated.

Once there was a hard-working European nation with a very bad #attitude.

And the rest is history.


Death of a Star : Depression and more

India was shaken by the untimely death of Shushant Singh Rajput(SSR) and so was I. Not that I was fan of SSR but because someone so young but successful just took his dear life. SSR was a small town boy, an outsider who had been successful in Bollywood, that in itself is a big win. As the news came out, within minutes several theories surfaced as to why SSR committed suicide. Media did its part, bombarding people with hypothesis and the depression the actor was going through. Media did what it did best; generated cacophony.

In the meanwhile I started doing my own research, reading selective articles about Shushant as well as consuming the crass news that surfaced in the days that followed his death. Depression became a hot topic, people who were no authority in the field of depression (psychological sciences) began to give lose opinions. About a week after the star’s death, people drew causalities as to why he was depressed and his death was attributed to the Bollywood Mafia.

After we get access to enough information, it is usually easy to connect the dots because we fall for confirmation bias. All the conclusions we draw are conveniently supported by attributing to selective data that we find appropriate. Unfortunately, all VIP deaths are subjected to such analysis. In hindsight everything is 20/20. But as I was slowly progressing towards finding out more, I happened to watch SSRs old interviews. Obviously due to confirmation bias my lens of seeing those interviews was muddied. But here is what I gathered, SSR was no doubt intelligent, a deep thinker and passionate about science, especially astronomy. He liked to explain complex things and one might think what he was doing among the Bollywood populace of mediocre intellect at best. This inference was easy to arrive at, you could simply read the comments and understand.

But what is difficult to identify is a person who is extremely passionate about something beyond the common life and disconnected with his/her surroundings. SSR was somewhat disconnected from the reality. Philosophy, astronomy, spirituality are some of disciplines that have immense potential to disconnect you from the current normal reality. Alternate reality is what you seek. The harder you seek that alternative reality the more detached you become from the present world. It is just like developing alternate consciousness through drugs. People who are not comfortable in their present reality, reticent and recluse often fall prey to this. Maybe those who become successful at chasing such disciplines become great scientists and philosophers. Those who don’t give-up and accept their reality. That leads to the next question, why SSR was so detached from his successful reality? And that question would be always left unanswered.

Some thoughts about depression: Again, I am no authority on this subject but would like to jot some observations. I know friends who are/were depressed. One common thread was they struggled at accepting the reality and were never comfortable with the thought of nothing could be done about the present reality or past events. They are immensely talented and have their own ways of exploring alternate realities. Now the challenge is was depression a reason that one may strive to seek alternate realities and chase arcane subjects or is depression a result of inability to make peace with the current reality and smoothly transcend into alternate reality.

Inbetweeners : How to define funny?

If there is one show that tickles my funny bone to the core, it has to be the Inbetweeners. And I reflected on why things are so funny in this show. Inbetweeners is a coming of age dark/absurd/sex comedy that revolves around 4 blokes. Now there are umpteen shows in this genre that I don’t care to recall.

But here is what Inbetweeners so funny

  1. Element that slaps general morality and assumptions: For example, a joke on a person with a disability. It is morally wrong to make joke on a disabled person. But have you wondered how that person would react to a joke on him/her? What if a disabled person turns out to be an asshole? or a perv?

General morality and assumption: You shouldn’t make fun of people with disabilities

Scope for comedy : A twisted disabled person is uncommon and hence it is OK to laugh at an absurd joke

2. Elements that you find very embarrassing under certain circumstances surroundings: Eg: Shitting in your pants in an examination hall will naturally qualify as one of the most embarrassing event for an adult or a teen for that matter.

Very embarrassing : Shitting in pants

Add a situation: Examination hall

Scope for comedy: Shitting in pants+Examination hall

3. Shock! : eg: Your friend has crush on your mom (Here crush is an euphemism for derogatory words). I won’t elaborate this more. One more example of shock is showing a middle finger to a geriatric for no reason.

4. Anticipation of a tragedy: Once you understand the pattern of the comedy, you find the joy in predicting the punchline . You laugh hysterically when the plot exactly turns out to be like you guessed it to be.

How one should value money?


What if I say the quality of your life depends on how you perceive money. Much like the quality of your life is affected by how you might perceive relations.

Money is nothing but a record of value you create. When someone offers you Rs 100  for some task, that amount is nothing but a record  of value created. You can spend that money on soda or buying a lottery ticket. You can also choose to store that money under your pillow or keep in the bank to earn some interest on it. 

That is a simple definition of money. But depending on how you earn it, you might give it your own meaning. If you win some money on the lottery ticket you bought that is easy money. You will spend it likewise. If it is hard earned money you might spend it so. Poor spend it for instant gratification, the rich invest it, shopaholics spend it impulsively. Nothing is wrong with that, but the various ways people spend money makes it even difficult to understand what money really means. 

Hence often money is not seen from an objective lens. Its meaning remains vague.

But here is one way to look at money. Whether you keep money under your pillow or in your bank, money is nothing but the value you created by working hard or winning a lottery, doesn’t matter. Money you have is the “inventory” of value you create. This value can be exchanged for value you need to make your life easy. That air travel ticket, that movie ticket, rent, buy burger etc. How much inventory of is enough? Only so much that you don’t have to make those difficult decisions or compromise in your life.