Posted in Random, Thoughts

The Instant Gratification Monkey


From the Keys of a Chronic Procrastinator


The YouTube link in the beginning is a TED Talk. Specifically, the one that granted this post it’s title. In case you didn’t guess, the talk is about procrastination. The speaker is a blogger, Tim Urban, writing at Here’s how he breaks down the mind of a procrastinator: there’s a Rational Decision Maker, which is the same as the mind of a normal, non-procrastinating person, and an Instant Gratification Monkey. There’s also a Panic Monster, who however isn’t a permanent player. So what happens is the Rational Decision Maker does exactly what he sounds like. He thinks a situation through and comes up with the sane thing to do.


So, say I have an exam tomorrow (I do have one the day after, but anyhow), the RDM will tell me to stop this right now and get down to study. The Monkey is the one that messes all this up by saying go on, do what you like, finish off the whole post at one go. Then, read up on the different kinds of biriyani in India. And if you’re done somewhat early, reorganise your Music folder.


The Monkey wants immediate fun. The here and the now and the this. FUN. NOW! The RDM works more rationally, and thinks of longer term stuff. So giving the test well gets me a good grade which increases my chances of having a better job and so on, but may not be very interesting or fun at the immediate moment. The RDM is a grown up in these ways. It’ll allow you to relax and everything, but only on times that are actually relaxation times, like Sunday afternoons when all the chores are done. The Monkey is more of childish and wants, well, instant gratification.


And so, when the deadline is tomorrow and it is crunch time, the Monkey will want… well, anything that might make it happy. And thus, it descends down a spiral of worthless unproductivity (there’s a very nice Lennon quote which goes “Time enjoyed wasting is not wasted”, but try saying that when you find yourself watching all of Taher Shah’s masterpieces on YouTube) until it gets to the point where it’s now or never, and if you miss your chance then, you miss it forever. And that’s where the third guy, the panic monster steps in. What he does is, he scares the hell out of the Monkey and hands the control over to the Decision Maker, who then makes the best of a bad job. And this cycle loops for whatever work a procrastinator does.


The life of any procrastinator who wants to get anything done involves setting traps for himself that may somehow force him to get stuff done. Take for example, me. Resolving to wake up early and get lots of work done, thus making the day nice and productive (inner self sniggers), I decided to get one of those puzzle solving alarm clocks (  | I never sleep through alarms, but I do snooze a lot of them, which is just as bad. These apps make you solve puzzles to turn them off, or even snooze them. Sounds perfectly ghastly, is so too). Day one of the new alarm, I go to bed at 12:00 am, confident that the new alarm will do it’s job and wake me at 7. At 7, the alarm wakes me, interrupting a particularly nice dream involving a chocolate sauce fountain. I turn off the alarm, uninstall the app and go on sleeping till 8:30. The Monkey, well rested, ensured my day was a very wholesomely happy one.


I could give you a bajillion examples. The countless times I stayed up nights trying to finish homework. The night before exams, crashing through the entire semester’s worth of knowledge in hours. The blog articles written after missing three posting deadlines and multiple stern admonitions from Aditi (who am I kidding? Aditi just nudges me ever so gently as yet another deadline whooshes by). And the cycle repeats. Relaxation and delay, realisation and panic, rush and regret. And so on.


So I have decided to stop. It’s sort of simple really, to kick the habit. And it’s not that bad. “Everything in moderation, including moderation”, and so on. That was Oscar Wilde. And he was right. Mild procrastination increases creativity. Letting those ideas marinade at the back of your mind really helps them cook, so to speak. And once in a while maybe it’s good to let go and relax. Emphasis on ‘once in a while’.


So I have to make detailed timetables and timelines, dividing upcoming tasks into bite sized chunks and arranging them in such a way that I don’t get bored. I’ve got most of it planned out in my head. I’ve even allowed little breaks for relaxation. So all I need to do is make an actual timetable or feed it into my calendar. Heck, I’ll start on it tomorrow. Till then, remember people, consistency, punctuality and a serious approach to work is key.


Posted in Poetry


Black hard rock,

Ugly, yet symbolic.


Born out of the pressure,

Constantly pushed down.


Why, when it may as well have glittered,

When it could just be precious,

When it could have been desired by all,

Did it turn to black rock?


Akin to impressionable minds,

That can be carved into differing personalities.

A push in the right direction,

And behold, a diamond.


And yet, a whisper here,

A dark thought there,

A glimpse of a vice,

And what are you left with?


Charred coal.

A shadow of the person that one could have been.

A disappointment,

A failure perhaps?


Why, you say,

Does it even matter?

Must we not all end up as ashes?

Thrown into sacred waters,

Or saved in a precious urn.


But oh, how it does,

For the ashes of a diamond

Are revered and remembered.

While those of coal,

Lie forgotten or despised,

Till the end of time.

Posted in Collaborative story, Story

Chapter Three

Rohit Agrawal was satisfied.

Winding back a couple of months, the Mumbai branch, for some reason was not performing as expected. All the cash inflow, the years of effort gone into setting up what was to be the new headquarters, gone down the drain. A most regrettably spectacular waste, it would seem.

To not let reports of his pure incompetence reach his seniors, the ex-branch manager had sent in reports containing only estimates and worded in the most aimless generalities, and included almost no concrete facts, other than an occasional parameter which happened to paint a roseate figure or the newest branch’s operation. Even that was rare. The visits to Mumbai themselves were fruitless. Rohit didn’t have the time to monitor the operations himself, with all the running about it took to set up the branch.

After replies to mail after mail were sent in as colourful presentations and quarterly reports containing bare slivers of usable information, Rohit asked in his immediate subordinate, Anand Vyom to look into exactly what was going on. Finding the branch grossly deficit in meeting its targets and horribly mismanaged, Anand replaced the manager with the first somewhat suitable applicant.

Rohit, finding the new manager inexperienced and way out of her depth, had taken it upon himself to oversee her initial months as manager. Long story short, Jyoti proved to be very competent and the time Rohit had expected to spend teaching her managerial strategies were spent discussing where Agrawal Enterprises was headed, and then on to where they were headed.

Things, it would seem, were going well. Well enough that the Mumbai visits were more recreational than supervisory.

And so, yet another day spent in his chamber in the offices, he went through his daily grind of mails back and forth, looking out to a most spectacular greyscale view of Marine Drive, when a voice on the intercom sent chills up and down his spine and the waves washing in to the coast started rolling in shades of blue and the sun spread warm yellow along the road and in through the window, lighting up all the room, colouring with it the carpeted floor and the light blue walls, the brown door and the woman in azure walking in.

An hour later, as she walked out, the blue hues of her dress wrapped up the rainbow in itself and took it along, leaving behind a rich businessman in a pale grey reverie.

Posted in Poetry

Life in Leaves

This is inspired by a Ted talk I watched recently. I feel like I should say more, but I have nothing else to say. So here goes.


The world is a library,

And those who inhabit it,

The books.


Each one of us has a story,

Who we are, where we come from,

Or maybe the way we look.


Then every conversation is a reading,

An insight into another world.


Unique in every way,

Never fitting into a single mould.


We’re all curious melanges of emotions –

Giggling, sobbing, shouting, sometimes silent.


A tale of love whispered to a friend,

A secret anecdote of when one got violent.


Or perhaps harmless gossip,

An opinion, an idea, a rant.


Maybe a quest for good advice,

Or a smile, accompanied by a compliment?


Just so long as we invest that time,

Talk to someone, build connections.


Have long heart-to-hearts,

After all, we’re unabridged versions.


Don’t rely on the chat box,

A digital emoticon fails to convey.


It is the act of sitting down over a cup of coffee,

Or hug that goes a long way.


Posted in Random, Weather

Musings on Mausam

Silence pervades the hostel. Well, not silence, but pretty near. Crickets chirp outside, I am busily clicking away at my keyboard, and the raindrops keep steadily doing their drip-drip outside the window against the fuzzy static of the rain in the distance. So it’s not really silent, but all these sounds can be taken for granted. A nice little excursion into the phrase ambient noise. You won’t notice it unless you want to.

I focus on the rain sounds, on how the rain is affecting me. My typing has somehow synced with the steady dripping. Out of the blue, someone starts playing Maroon5’s Payphone very loudly. Jarring. I am unsettled. Shaken out of the rut of my mind, I go back into the rain, picking up the threads of my consciousness where I lost them.

It’s uncanny, how much influence the weather has on us. Almost as much as say food, or people. Maybe even more. We are but slaves to the elements and the atmosphere. Think about it.

Imagine it’s summer, outside it’s a bright sunny day, so you’re bouncing and full of energy. Until you go outside, and then you lose it all. The sun is up there, sapping away all your energy and your enthusiasm (this is from an Indian point of view, so summers are extremely hot and horrible) and you turn into this limp, wilting vegetable and decide a nice cool drink and a nap is probably the order of the day. The evening brings with it coolness, productivity and/or the desire to chill around with friends. The day promises productivity, but doesn’t deliver. Might, if spent indoors, with access to air-conditioning.

Now imagine it’s mid monsoon, and you wake up to the sound of steady rain, a continuous dull hiss outside, dark grey skies and a confusion as to whether it’s evening or morning. The bed seems too comfortable and inviting, and all your senses tell you to stay in bed. You give in. When you do wake up, it’s midday and the rain has lightened up a bit. So you go out and about your business, packing an umbrella, using it whenever you go out, and then cursing as to what to do with the wet floppy thing indoors. The day passes, well enough if indoors and exceedingly wet and irritating if outside. But there’s this sense of general dissatisfaction and a feel of a day wasted. Wasted? No, not wasted. But not what it could have been. Not what it would have been on a drier day, maybe.

There’s honestly few things that solicit mixed feelings more than rain and rainy days. The ‘cry in the rain, the droplets hide your tears’ and ‘splash around in the puddles and make paper boats’ crowds are out in equal force. The rains put some in romantic states of mind, and some in various moods of productivity. If you have the time and will to venture outside, you’ll find in equal number, people joyously soaking in the rain, having fun, and solitary figures moving around pretty dejectedly.

And constant rain gets on your nerves too. Mine at least. For starters, it restricts and hampers movement. Today, I was about to go out, and just at the gate, I left the group I was going with to get my umbrella. Well, my umbrella wasn’t in my room, someone had already taken it. And just then it came pouring down. Kind of sad and ironic that you go to get your umbrella and come back soaking wet. You don’t see that happening too often. Never, in fact. Incessant torrential rain also tends to come creeping into every aspect of your life, through windows, seeping into bags, ruining notebooks and making little puddles on the windowsills and creating little pockets of irritation on your mind.

Tell you what, the best weather is probably the light drizzling and/or sunny sky when it clears up after a spell of heavy rain. Especially if you stay in a place with a lot of greenery. All of nature looks scrubbed clean, there is this beautiful clarity to everything. Then, as the sky starts to clear you get glimpses of the most beautiful clear lapis peeking through (Usage of lapis was intentional there, so that you’d look it up and know exactly I’m talking about., for your convenience). You end up feeling like you are striding a brand new earth. It feels glorious. A fresh start, new life, and then you step straight into a puddle and that’s about it for that.

Posted in Collaborative story

Chapter Two

“Aggarwal saab? Mr Aggarwal sir, over here,” the chauffeur called out, waving his arm in the air even after his slightly annoyed client had nodded in acknowledgment.

“It’s Agrawal, for-”

“Here Aggarwal saab, let me carry that for you,” the betel-leaf chewing man chattered on. “Arre sir, it must being very hot in Kolkata, no? How you people managing, tsk tsk. I tell you, you should…”

Rohit Agrawal rolled his eyes and tuned out the driver’s how-to-survive-in-Kolkata monologue. The only “chutter putter” he longed for belonged to someone who was probably serving jalebis to her parents at home, her eyes sparkling as she spoke about her day at work. He marvelled at her capacity to work for 8 hours straight, day in and day out, only to go home and cook food. She refused to let the hired help cook all the meals, claiming that making one hot meal a day with her own hands was her way of giving back to her parents, who had supported her throughout her rather long cycle of career changes.

“Besides, I won’t get to do this once I get married….” she had said coyly when he’d persisted.

He shut his eyes while the car sped over the Bandra-Worli sealink. He reminisced about the day they’d sat on Marine Drive, or as she fondly called it, ‘Queen’s Necklace’. He remembered how she had pointed out the street lights and compared them to pearls on a necklace. Who would have thought he’d grow to love her and her city almost as much as his hometown. True to her name, she brought light into his life. Metaphorically and literally.

That crimson red dress that she had worn the first time they had gone out, the bronze streak in her hair when he had brushed aside a stray ringlet, the flush in her cheeks when he’d complimented her. He longed for that colour, vivacious and bright, and he knew deep within that he would travel across continents to meet her if he had to. What blue had it been? Ink blue? No, prussian. Yes. Prussian blue. He laughed softly. The way she had shaken her head, with a tiny crease between her brows, her lips pursing just the slightest, till he had guessed the colour right.

The arrival of his destination pulled him out of his reverie. After he had put all his luggage in place, he called her up, like he always did when he reached. Her voice instantly relieved the exhaustion that had settled within him after the flight. After deciding when and where they would meet the next day, he hung up, a soft smile playing on his lips. It did not fade away till he had fallen asleep, probably thinking about her even in his dreams.

Posted in Book Reviews, Random

Intermittent Moonshine of a Spotty Mind

It has come down to this. I have a set of examinations in four days. Three, if you’re picky about it being the next day once it’s past midnight. Personally, tomorrow comes when I wake up, or the sun rises, whichever happens later. Also, there is an assignment I need to start on, about World War II from the Russian perspective. And there is more to do. Miles to go before I sleep. And promises to keep. You get the gist.

This post is more or less what the title says. Also, I recently watched Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind, and this had been stuck in my mind for sometime. Random background music YouTube is playing from my recommendations. Seven Nation Army by White Stripes when I decided I should start ( Good song, it is. The Arctic Monkeys’ Do I Wanna Know is on now ( A friend actually recommended it way back. About two years ago or so. Intriguing song. Sparse but oddly impactful.

I’m basically writing whatever is flitting through my head. Which, suddenly subjected to close inspection decides to think smart stuff, gives up, and settles back down on my to-do list. Like I am trying to prepare a sort of analysis of Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy. That’s one book that fits the title rather perfectly. I wish I could say I thought of that beforehand and all this chit-chat was just an artful lead up to the book review, but no. It just struck me. And before anyone who knows tells me Douglas Adams was far from spotty (for the uninitiated, he wrote the book. Books, to be exact, the full trilogy of five [I do not count the sixth][Also, yes, trilogy of five, I made no mistake there]). That was a very messy parenthesis. Do bear with me. Anyway, Douglas Adams was far from spotty, but anyone who knows that will know he thought of the Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy for the first time while he was drunk out of his mind in a field in Germany, and then forgot about it for quite a few years until he started writing for BBC. Which classifies as somewhat spotty.

Plini’s Cascade on now ( I don’t like it now. Not at the moment. Not in the mood for music this involved and energetic at 3:52 AM. I’ll change to Clapton performing While My Guitar Gently Weeps at George Harrison’s memorial concert. (

Beautiful music. This is probably Harrison’s most famous song from his time with the Beatles. Impassioned lyrics about apathy, and probably some of the most heartfelt guitar work ever. But, one thing that remains unknown is that Clapton played the lead guitar for the album version too ( Not that it matters all that much.

Anyway, going back along the rails of the train of thought, I encounter Hitchhiker’s. Brilliant book. No plot, some half-boiled characters and yet, what a read. Anyhow. Mind goes back to Clapton and Harrison. It is a very interesting relationship they had. Harrison’s wife, Pattie Boyd, the subject of several of his songs, was one of the most admired women of her era. Later, when Clapton and Harrison grew closer, Clapton fell in love with her, and eventually won her over. However, Harrison and Clapton remained close friends, appearing with each other on stage and working on each others’ albums, which is pretty cool.

Current song is Hey Jude, by Paul McCartney, Elton John, Sting, Mark Knopfler, Eric Clapton, among a lot of other people. This is a very, very beautiful version of the song. Please do listen, even if you’re skipping the others (

Following was a period where I stared off into the distance because you cannot write “Nothing”, or “Mind is blank”, and so one whiles the time away, revelling in the music. And then comes up. No spoilers, but it forced me to change tabs and watch the whole thing. Very fun, it is. And brilliant actor, that guy.

Well, I will start reading up on my Russia and WWII assignment. Very thought provoking, since they suffered the greatest and harshest losses in the war. This pushed me to pick the topic. Please do watch, it is a very well made, informative and educating site. I will not end by saying that “War is a horror”, that we must not repeat those past mistakes. We all know that. It is not something that needs explaining. I will end with nothing. Just a silence, to let your thoughts fill the void.

PS: I know the change in tone is very abrupt. I said I’d follow my mind where it goes, as it goes. I did. I take your leave now.

Posted in Poetry


Chills down the spine,

Prickling at the nape of the neck,

A faint melody, a distant tune, a familiar hum –

Like brushing off the dust from old, yellowing books,

Stirring long forgotten memories.



A song reminding us of days long gone.

Lyrics making us question ourselves.

Resonating with something deep within,

Chilling to the bone.



Of confrontation, of being caught, or of simply owning up.

Clutching at our chests,

Leaving us numb and breathless,

Like a weight pressing down from all sides.



The thrill of meeting a loved one,

Or that degree marking the culmination of hard work.

When the leg inadvertently bounces out of excitement,

And the hairs raise of their own accord.



And then there’s the cold.

The harsh wind, stinging at the face.

Bringing tears to the eyes, goose pimples across bared skin.

Yet, it’s not always the cold that gives you goosebumps.



Lyrics from a song I used to love, ’cause why not:

 “I wonder sometimes about the outcome of a still verdictless life, am I living it right?”


Posted in Collaborative story

Chapter One

So, here we are. And this time, we’re writing a story, in collaboration. We’ll take turns to write, one chapter each. So here goes.

The world was simple in the eyes of Rohit Agrawal. It all came down to a few straight lines. One from his penthouse in Park Street to the ground floor. A fifteen minute drive along Park Street to the offices of Agrawal Enterprises, and back. A bi-weekly flight to by Mumbai, and back. Occasional business meetings in the Astoria, and back. His world had the simplicity of luxury and the detachment of money and power. For him, it was a good world. It minded it’s business, he minded his.

Word had spread among his associates and fellow businessmen that he was hard and unfeeling. That he had no capacity for emotion and his only care in the world was his business. He never denied it. On the contrary, he encouraged such talk. He had never donated to charity, and seemed to let his brain run his life, his heart taking a back seat. All in all, the kind of man who would be accused of being a heartless businessman.

It was said he saw the world in black and white, in terms of his gains and losses. Those who said it, they had no clue how near they were to the truth. For Rohit Agrawal was colour blind. Partially. His condition was complicated. In fact, nobody else knew of it. Normally, he saw the  world in black and white, but with one person, one Jyoti Roy, manager of the Mumbai branch, he saw colour.

In his chauffeured BMW, he was trying to think of the world of colours, the last time he visited it. He couldn’t. Grey asphalt outside the window, his black leather seat, mottled-grey overcast skies above all kept dragging him into the real world, with the pale gray chauffeur and his black uniform, the dappled grey of the trees and the majestic white buildings speeding past. He looked at his own colourless palms and then picked up a colourful grey advertising brochure he was supposed to be reading. Today was one of the grey days.

At work, he attended a sales presentation, where he took two minutes to figure out which curve on the graph was green. Then with a masterful speech on why he believed the new tactics would at the least double sales, he went on to his own office. He decided he’d expand into the property business, and told his secretary tell his Delhi agent to scout for land he could invest in. This was followed by reports from various branches of Agrawal Enterprises, until the secretary reminded him of his 12:30 lunch with the Income Tax department representative, and the 5 pm flight to Mumbai. He stared at the black mahogany of his desk, and then of a face, candles fluttering in the wind, yellow irises in a white porcelain vase… suddenly, the vision vanished, and his hand reached into a drawer and drew out a sheaf of papers, and began poring over them intently, making notes in the margins, letting his work flood over him.

That evening, on the plane, he smiled at the white clad airhostess and idly toyed with a grey silk handkerchief, anticipating its miraculous bloom into a yellow sliver of fire when he entered an apartment that night. Then, shaking his head, he devoted himself to the mails his Delhi agent had sent him, occasionally making notes on a pad using a ball-point pen writing jet black ink. His attachment to colours surprised him.

Posted in Book Reviews

My Beautiful Shadow

During my primary school years, all I really cared about, academically, was the library period. That was probably the only class in which the teacher remained as quiet as the students (rather, as quiet as the students are supposed to be), so when she did speak, she had my undivided attention. I suppose twinkling-eyed, large-hearted Ms Dolasha did tell us to “never judge a book by its cover”, but oh well.


My Beautiful Shadow – Radhika Jha


Undoubtedly, it was the cover of this book that caught my eye. My fingers brushed across the spines of books, shelf after shelf, hesitating occasionally while I peered at the titles. I had picked seven out of the eight allowed books and was on the lookout for something different, something that would stand out in my bundle of ‘Robin Cook’s and ‘Agatha Christie’s. And so, yes, I judged this book by its cover and the Asian woman gazing into the distance called out to me, my hand pulling it out, seemingly of its own accord and adding it on top of my neat stack of books.


It started off as a rather engaging read, light and simple, the chapters not too long, (am I the only person who prefers books having chapters that don’t exceed 10-12 pages? I feel like it’s the same as when you have two small pizzas as against one medium pizza and somehow you can eat six slices of the entire medium pizza, yet eight slices of two small pizzas seem too much even though they probably amount to the same thing. I digress.) and characters not too many. (Again, am I the only person who forgets character names within a day? I finished reading this book yesterday and the names are already fading out of my mind like a drop of ink dissolving in an ocean. I digress yet again.)


The book follows the story of Kayo, her obsession with shopping, her eventual stumbling into the pitfalls of debt and the extent to which she goes to recover the money. Only to fall deeper in. One would think that knowing that her father had died precisely for the same reasons, owing money and being unable to repay the loan sharks, she’d know better than to spend without second thoughts, but as the author so aptly puts it:


The problem with beautiful things is that when you have one, you want two and when you have two, you want three. For the eye’s hunger has no limit. Unlike the mouth which has a bag, the stomach attached to it, the eye is simply an opening. Behind it is the bottomless cupboard of the mind.


The story is simple. So simple, in fact, that I wondered quite a bit as to what I would write in this book review. I’ve pretty much summarised the book two paragraphs above. But it’s not so much the story, as it is the words, the underlying meanings, the hidden implications that are left between the lines, that make this book so intriguing. I can quote a dozen sentences that made me stop midway and ponder, but I’m writing a book review, and not a book so…


For, peace and happiness, I realised, were two different things. Happiness was like the bubbles on the surface of dirty dishwater. Peace was the water itself. Water washed away all dirt, it made things pure and whole again. If I let the water run out of my life, there would be no bubbles. And then what would be left?


A year ago, I’d have scorned at this. Among the other “deep” stuff that I came across while reading. I didn’t get some grand enlightenment or anything, I’m still grumble-y, lazy, self-centred me. But the subtlety with which these things are interspersed among the story, just scattered among the words, leaving you to pick them up at your own leisure, left me hunting for these so-called pearls of wisdom.


The book has a very Asian tinge to it, some of their values echoing those of mine. A strong family bond, for instance. The desire to keep your loved ones happy, at any cost. Kayo refers to her family as her garden, the place she turns to for peace. One questions her decisions, especially the one of selling herself for money, and wonders why she wouldn’t simply confess to her husband and ask him to clear her debts, but I suppose nobody’s perfect and maybe we think we would do the “right thing” were we in her situation, but who are we to say, really.


The end is predictable, yet abstract. No, she does not clear all her debts and live happily ever after. After all, this novel is about consumerism in Japan, portraying the people as constantly desiring more – more clothes, more shoes, more successful children scoring better grades, and yet everyone around the protagonist, including herself, fits perfectly into this mould of elegantly dressed, high-heeled women projecting wealth or power. She mentions how everybody is so similar that they cook the same meals on the same days, buy the same vegetables, carry the same bags and lead almost identical lives. In stark contrast, there is a chapter or two in which she stays in the countryside, where everyone is happy with what they have; a garden, a bird, nature itself fulfilling the hunger that she always felt.


You hope that maybe she’ll go back to her house after that and everything will be okay, but the book strives to be realistic, and remains slightly open to interpretation. There is no spoiler, for maybe what I took away from the last few pages may be poles apart from what the next person would. But the slight disappointment that struck me at the lack of clarity towards the end dissipated, eventually leaving me with the essence of the book.


In conclusion, if you’re apprehensive about reading Robin Sharma but want something to question or muse over, give this book a read. Or you could just go over and read:

It’s shorter than a book, but just as satisfying.

*hehehehehe Suchit, I can shamelessly plug too*