22 Important Life Lessons From A 40-Something

Thought Catalog


1. You cannot go back in time with your older, wiser brain and make different choices.

2. A whole lot of stuff can’t be undone with, “I’m sorry”.

3. You can never really take back what you say.

4. Life takes work. It doesn’t happen by itself, no matter how effortless someone makes it look. Put some muscle into it.

5. Don’t wait around for an invitation when faced with a task that needs to be done. It’s probably not coming.

6. Don’t wait around for a thank you after finishing a task that needed to be done. It’s probably not coming.

7. Express appreciation to people who make your day better, easier, happier.

8. For the most part, you’ll never know the full impact you have had on someone’s life.

9. Doing good and good intentions are two different things.

10. Being thankful that you are not living in…

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First encounter with the middle east: Truly global experience

I work for a Danish engineering consultancy firm on a project by Govt. of Qatar in city of Doha. My team consists of a Pakistani team leader, a British Senior Engineer, a Draftsman from Phillipines and myself as an Engineer from India. The Project is headed by a Canadian Manager. Not just my office but this part of the world is full of people from different nationalities. This is a mini-world in itself.

After more than an year long stay at home, I got an opportunity to get out of the country and this one was much awaited. I was expecting it since few months but this opportunity knocked suddenly and the timing could not have been worse. It was a nice Tuesday and I had just began to adjust with the week with a mild viral fever. I was thinking of taking an off but little did I know that my boss is going to surprise me. I got an email from him that I have to leave for Doha office in Qatar as there is urgent requirement there for a project. By the evening, I came to know that I have to catch a Thursday early morning flight by Qatar Airways. I had one day to pack my bags for a 2-3 weeks stay and I had no clue what awaits for me there. Also, the mild viral fever got worse on Wednesday and I could not have even taken the day off because I had to deal with all the administrative paper work on the same day for my transfer to Doha.

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After a long sleepless night and smooth 3-4 hrs flight, I reached my destination and set my feet on what the world call as the Middle East for the first time. It was hot as hell with dry hot winds blowing at my face. Soon I entered the terminal building to get cooled down by the air-conditioning. This is the standard way of living in most of the Middle East urban cities. All the buildings even the elevators, bathrooms, toilets everything is air-conditioned. On streets, people can be found taking a nap inside their cars (mostly SUVs) with Air-Conditioning turned on.

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I reached the apartment that company booked for my stay and on my way I found wide roads with nicely designed medians with planted desert trees. I am a civil engineer by profession and so such things get my attention easily. It seems to be a well planned city as far as roads are concerned. The roads are another aspect of the middle east cities as they are full of rich people who love to drive expensive cars and so the one thing they really care about are the roads so that they can enjoy fast driving in their Porches,  Ferrari and SUVs. Every day on my way to office, I get to see cars like Audi, Camry, Accord, BMW, Land Cruiser and 10 other parked. The level of car brands can be estimated by the fact that every taxi is a Camry here. The drivers here are mostly Indians, Bengladeshi, Pakistani, Filipinos.

Heisenberg’s Principle: Uncertainty in Position and Time

After spending 5 years in a row at the same place for my college education I was full of energy and waiting to explore the outside world. And as I was feeling I exploded like a bomb and got scattered everywhere. For about 3 years just after my graduation,  there has not been a place where I could stay for more than 4 months in a row 😛

That is what exactly Sir Heisenberg said about a high energy sub-atomic particle whose exact location and velocity can not be known at the same time. Felt exactly the same moving from one city to another hopping jobs as time goes by.

9, June 2009 – 20 Aug 2009 : Magarpatta city, Pune

21 Aug 2009 – 1 Jan 2010: Somewhere on Solapur highway, Pune

1 Jan 2010 – 15 march 2010: Magarpatta city, Pune

15 march 2010 – 11 Aug 2010: Delhi ~ Gurgaon

12 Aug 2010 – 1 Nov 2010: Mumbai ~ Pune ~ Goa

1 Nov – 27 Nov 2010: Delhi

27 Nov 2010 – 15 Dec 2010: Lausanne, Switzerland

15 Dec 2010 – 1 April 2011: Renens, Switzerland

1 April – 20 April 2011: Renens ~ Lausanne, Switzerland

20 April 2011 – 31 October 2011: Lausanne, Switzerland

1 November 2011 – 25 February 2012: St. Sulpice, Switzerland

After living this wild nomad life for so long time, I decided to stay put at Home Sweet Home and recharge my batteries 🙂

26 February 2012 — Present day: Delhi ~ Gurgaon

Meanwhile I plan for the next adventure, I shall rest and spend time with my family.

What makes us human?

Image   Never Again

The photographs above are from the Dachau Memorial located at the once Dachau Concentration Camp near Munich, Germany. It was designed by one of the prisoners of the camp who was saved during the liberation of the camp by the american troops. The only message these survivors wanted to convey was “Never Again” i.e. the brutality and terrible torture of one man over the other must not be repeated in future. The sole objective of preserving this place was to remind people of what it means to be human and what are the greatest threats to humanity.

I went to visit Munich in September 2011 on the occasion of the famous Oktober Fest.  I enjoyed it a lot with my cousin while travelling across the beautiful city of Munich and even made some German friends there. The short video shows the some people singing, dancing, drinking and celebrating so close to such a deadly and soul-less place. The same people who once has to witness such horrors but they decided to learn from it and rise.

Oktoberfest celebrations

Although I am very fond of the World War period history but I never imagined that these concentration camps could be preserved and I will visit one of them one day. I was surprised but curious to go there when I came to know about it. It’s an open space with a huge ground but later I came to know that it was occupied by short structures built to accommodate war prisoners and political criminals captured from different European countries. It was one of the prototypes of the various concentration camps to be followed and was built in early 1930s. The exhibitions were full of the stories of the prisoners of the camp, the times of the war and the horrible ill-treatments given to those captured there.

While studying about World War II at school and the in-human treatment of the Jews by Hitler, one question I always felt unanswered to myself that how could men be so cruel to their fellow people ? One man’s hate can still be justified but how can men in such large numbers madly follow one man full of hate ? How can they not think by themselves and resist such happenings ? How can they not stop themselves from filling those people into small rooms and later killing them with poisonous gases followed by feeding them to open furnaces ? I could not think of anything more in-human than this. In the stories I read at that place, I found my answer.

At that time, almost everyone was afraid of Hitler in Germany, people have to follow orders or they will have to face the same punishment which they are giving to others. It makes sense that Hitler controlled these people by fear, the very thought of being treated like they are treating the prisoners would be enough to make them do these things. Few men tried to resist but they were captured and punished to set examples to stop others like them from raising their voices. The brutality must be so severe that these people suppressed their humanity to live their lives. But still in the darkness of fear and brutality humanity survived in hope of freedom among the prisoners.  And they were brave enough to survive and even teach others the lesson of humanity.

More information is available on the official webpage of the memorial: http://www.kz-gedenkstaette-dachau.de/stop13.html

I strongly suggest interested readers to watch the movie Schindler’s List (http://www.imdb.com/title/tt0108052/) if they have not have yet.

In my opinion, the greatest threat to humanity is personal greed and ego. The lack of understanding and trust among people encourages such feelings. Only if people can truly understand each other these threats can be overcome and humanity will prevail.

 

I love not the man less but nature more

into_the_wild

There is a pleasure in the pathless woods,
There is a rapture on the lonely shore,
There is society, where none intrudes,
By the deep sea, and music in its roar:
I love not man the less, but Nature more,
From these our interviews, in which I steal
From all I may be, or have been before,
To mingle with the Universe, and feel
What I can ne’er express, yet cannot all conceal.

– By George Gordon Byron

Online freelancing $$$

I am not much of a hobby kind of guy and because I feel its waste of time as there is no value addition. In time I developed some computer programming skills. As part of my research work I have to write many computer programs for analyzing data, processing images etc. I enjoyed it a lot and don’t feel the work labor while doing it. Recently I discovered this concept of online freelancing. And I just knew that I found myself a hobby 🙂

online jobs           freelancing websites

There are some websites like http://www.elance.com and http://www.odesk.com that brings the contractors and the clients from all over the world closer. Most of the clients are from the developed western countries who have something to get done quickly and it just requires a normal PC with some software to do this job. These jobs are not important and worth enough to hire somebody on a payroll but these often require high skill and education levels which is difficult to find in developed countries at low cost. On the other hand, because of sheer competition among people in developing countries, there is a huge workforce with good skill set and education level available at low cost. These includes students and working professionals with some free time like weekends and evenings. I fall into the second category.

Online freelancing websites is a perfect platform to close the gap between the developed and developing countries. It  is a modern day version of the famous outsourcing concept started by big companies like Infosys, Wipro, TCS etc. in the IT world. But this is much more interesting than the outsourcing and the good thing is that there no middle men involved. The client and contractors are free to interact and I have seen many people getting long term clients which will then work for full time later with each other.

I started my online freelancing account in June~July 2012 and I was not much ambitious about it. Anyways, I got my first job assignment in October 2012 and there has been no turning back since then. I mostly work on image processing jobs on Matlab, opencv+visual studio platforms. So far I have worked on 13 jobs for 9 clients and I still am getting new jobs every week. I believe that in the age of recessions and laying offs this is a perfect way to keep oneself upgraded and most importantly working and earning.

Next travel destination ??

Summers are here and few friends have been constantly asking about making some travel plans. But where to go now? With the whole world open for exploration and money in hand there are a lot of options to choose from.

Some of the common destinations are:

– Thailand (Bangkok, Pataya, Phuket)

bangkok    Pataya-Beach-Thailand    bien-phutket

– Indonesia (Bali, Cambodia)

bedugul_bali    tracks-cambodia-ancora

– Andaman & Nicobar Islands

Port-Blair

– Leh-Ladakh

pangong-lake-ladakh

– East India (Bhutan ~ Assam etc.)

Kingdom-of-Bhutan-–-Land-of-the-Thunder-Dragon

The next question that comes to mind is how to choose out of these options ?

The deciding parameters would be:

– cost (travel, accommodation and food etc.)

– vacation time required and available

– climate

A deciding score can be made based on above mentioned parameters for any destination and these can be compared and choice can be made. But these factors will vary depending upon time of the year (peak seasons) and at time of some festivals ( Tomatina in Spain, Oktober fest in Germany) at certain places.

I would give a weeks time (2 weekends + 5 weekdays) that is total of 9 days to explore any place.

Travel Cost (www.skyscanner.co.in)

1) Bangkok: 15-16k

2) Indonesia (Bali~Cambodia): 34-35 k  (almost same as that of few European destinations)

3) Andaman & Nicobar islands (Port Blair): 9-10k

4) Leh: 17k

5) Bhutan: No direct flights found but makemytrip claims to be offering a package with flights from Kolkata ( none flights found by the website from Kolkata even)

Climate (Google Search)

Bangkok: Peak season is November to February but July~August is also a secondary season.

Indonesia: Best time to visit Bali is May, June, July. Rest of the time is too dry.

Andaman & Nicobar Islands: During the time of August,  weather is not good due to excessive rainfalls > 400mm  :O :O :O !! The best months to visit would be February ~ March.

Leh: Ideally open for tourists during months of June~September.

Bhutan: Many cultural festivals are celebrated around the year. Summers are not the peak season but will be cheaper due to less tourists.

Accommodations (www.hostelworld.com)

1) Bangkok: Nice hostels are available for ~ INR 700 per day in Bangkok, Pataya and Phuket. For around 7 days it will be a sum of some 5000 bucks.

2) Indonesia: Almost same price as Bangkok

3) Andaman & Nicobar Islands: Cheapest hotels are available at 1000-2000 per room per night

4) Leh: Cheap private hostels available at INR 500 per person.

5) Bhutan: Not much information available on internet

Assuming availability of cheap accommodation everywhere this factor can be ruled out for making a choice.

Total accommodation expenses for a 7 day trip (excluding days of travel) would be around INR 15k including food and local travel.

The factor that makes most of the difference is the flight travel. An average trip to Bangkok and Leh would cost like INR 30k while that to Indonesia will go as high as INR 50k