Things I Think on the Run

For past couple of years, I have been trying to cultivate the habit of running 2 – 3 times a week on a regular basis. Though, not a marathon runner, yet, I do enjoy the range between 5 – 10 kms.

A typical run of mine looks something like this:
Courtesy: Strava
I go on these runs without headphones, between 10 – 12 PM, which helps in clearing out head. This allows me to think about a bunch of stuff about life that I generalize by extrapolation while on the run.
So, I decided to note them down here.

    1. Motivation is overrated, Nothing is spontaneous
      There are several days, where I just don’t feel like getting off the chair or couch and hit the roads running. I go even further to convince myself that I’ll keep at the schedule by putting an intermediate spot next day and this is just one of those rare ones where one is completely drained out of any motivation whatsoever. Even believing that next time it will just spontaneously happen! Of, course it never goes down that way.

    2. Finding sweet spot is hard work, Improvise
      I have been stuck to live in places full of people, vehicles and cattles with all their nuisances which just takes the entire fun of being out in the open. I had to struggle to find the right window, which suits my preferences and avoid these distractions to the maximum extent. After trying out early mornings, daytime, early evening, I go between optimal window of 10 – 12 PM in night now.

    3. Not every day feels alike, Be disciplined
      There are just some weird days which pull you toward one of the extremes, not allowing to set the mood for a run. But, I have always regretted giving up on those days because, next day almost always turns out even worse. There just doesn’t seem any reason to give up because of circumstances. Only right thing is to stick to your commitment.

    4. Chaos doesn’t sustain, Rhythm is the key
      One can easily notice how my speeds digress widely during the run. It’s easy to excitedly start out sprinting or lazing around in the middle only to lose momentum in the very next lap. Chaos is fun but, doesn’t sustain. Best way to last long is finding the optimal rhythm for self that neither lets one burn out nor, wastes one’s resources by keeping idle.

    5. Journey can be tumultuous, Keep going
      Even on such a rather short route, there are numerous blockers that set me off. A honking car suddenly changes its direction to get rid of me, people on the sidewalks just won’t give up the entire half of the road while roaming in the wrong direction or, a combination of them will shoot a cloud of suffocating dust cloud, which I suspect is going to give me a lung cancer some day without me smoking! In such setup, I can either drive myself crazy or, focus on my goal. Only sane choice is, keep going.

    6. Adversaries are blessing, Face ‘em
      While out on a run, a sudden stomach pain because of drinking too much water or, random backache because of incorrect posture or, a knee joint starts creaking. First thing that comes to mind during such times is “Hah, today just wasn’t right for this. Should stop it now”. But, I have come to understand this is just a passing thing and, if I can manage to make it through this brief period of indecision, physical pain vanishes away magically by itself too. Body gives up only after mind gives up.

    7. Situation makes nice things scary, Judge wisely
      Like most humans, I adore those canine friends of ours called Dogs. At households or during daytimes, they seem harmless, friendly beings. But, as soon as you are out on an empty road at night, they turn into these snarly, biting, scary creatures making you extra jumpy every time you come across one of them. Of course, this is completely due to frame of references.

    8. More can be done than thought possible, Stretch limits
      How many times I have completed that 4K mark thinking that’s all I have in me and can’t take this anymore. Only to realize that if I just don’t stop, not only do I cross the 5K but, even reach 6K, easy! Makes me wonder how little I understand about my true limits or, even if there are any? Or, it’s just me setting limits on my potential?

    9. Short term quick results are rare, Value macro
      It’s convenient to get excited about a day long routine to get effects of month long effort. But, they just don’t happen. Only when repeated countless number of times, a marathon will feel effortless. Only when thinking of the bigger picture, a single day’s pain will make sense. Even when an isolated effort doesn’t feel fruitful, knowing its role in the overarching goal keeps the spirit up.

    10. Things are better appreciated in retrospect, Extrapolate Future
      Most of the days, when I’m out running, zillion other things cross my mind that I could be rather doing, which are more pleasant and convenient and gratifying, right now. But, never has been a day where I chart the historical data and been disappointed about those runs. They have helped me to become more active, healthy and fit. And, projecting the trend, I can only predict things are going to get better even it just doesn’t feel right at a particular moment.

    The Agony of Indian Customer Experience

    Timeline of using Fastway Packers & Movers to ship a bicycle from Mumbai to Bangalore:
    • On December 22nd, I scheduled a pick up of a bicycle on next day for shipping it from Mumbai to Bangalore which was supposed to cost me INR 2,000/- and should taken 5-7 days. After picking the cycle next day (December 23rd) it was stuck in Mumbai for next 3 days until I called and asked the shipping date.
    • On December 25th, Fastway informs me that it’s going to cost me INR 2630/- rather than discussed 2K originally in the name of taxes and other expenses which was never disclosed originally. Even then, I agreed to make a wire transfer of INR 2300/- to Mr. Rajveer’s ICICI account and the shipment was promised to reach me by next weekend. It didn’t reach me till January 4th.
    • On January 5th, I called up again to ask the status and I get response that it’s stuck somewhere in Pune because of single shipment that other bunch of ludicrous arguments and again promised delivery by end of week “for sure”.
    • On January 9th, I called up again what time it’s going to reach me and of course the guy says the cycle was “just” loaded on truck yesterday from Mumbai! Yes, after almost 3 weeks of keeping me in dark about the status I’m told that it was definitely going to reach me by Monday.
    • On January 11th, I haven’t received it till 5 PM in evening and. On calling, the other guy hangs up saying that he will call me back with the status of shipment and isn’t replying to my calls since. Later on, I call again to get a delivery date of January 16th.
    • On January 17th, I go to nearest police station to file a complaint for possible fraud against Fastway where police, after making me wait and talk to clerk, constable and sub-inspector, calls and warns them again to get a date of January 19th (because of some recurring bullshit now) and asks me to file it if it doesn’t go through.
    • On January 19th, Today, Truck is still on the way to Bangalore, owner is in Goa, still asking me to wait for it. I give a last warning to him that if it doesn’t happen by 20th, they should be talking to Police on 21st.

    At this point, I’m utterly frustrated, angry and in despair. I don’t know what can I possibly do to get my stuff, money and time spared from this company and the worst thing I can inflict to get even.
    Irony is, this is not the one of the off cases that might happen to any of the companies or, customers anywhere. This is the kind of nuisance one has to go through every now and then when dealing with most of the services which involve online-offline (O2O) nature even in 21st century around here.
    Here are few of the other chosen services that have left bad taste in past:
  1. Banking
    Couple years back, when transferring cash via ‘mobile based payment’ option with ICICI, for some reason the amount was transferred to some random account or, the recipient hadn’t enabled that option or something else. I lodged a complaint only to get a mail that amount was transferred to ‘intended recipient’. I kept trying for reversal of transaction at different levels of authorities there only, to keep getting the same bullship reply. Ultimately, I gave up and lost around INR 8,000/-.
  2. Hyperlocal Services
    Internet evolution has allowed to schedule pickup / delivery services as per convenient time, at a precise given location with precise set of items. But, the end workers (delivery personnel) are a ridiculous bunch of people. Most of the times, you end up with follow up calls asking for replacement options for out-of-stock items, delivery address or something else.
    No. Train your people, keep your catalog updated and deliver on-time. Otherwise, I don’t want to deal with your shit!
  3. Telecommunication
    Airtel is supposed to have the best network infrastructure, speed and quality on a national scale. But, what you end up with is dropped calls, one-sided phone checks, shoddy data limits at unreliable speed and connectivity issues. The complaint acknowledgement takes 24 hours and resolution 5 working days. Only option you are left with is of some miracle happening, things start working smoothly on restart so that you can get on with things you actually would like to do.
    What do you do when this is what “best” has to offer?
  4. Transport
    Last month, I booked a bus ticket from Bangalore to Goa after carefully selecting seat, bus and timings via redBus. Only to end up getting a call, an hour before travel time, from a random guy telling me that my bus is cancelled, seat is transferred to another bus from a different provider at a different time and sends me detail via SMS. What other fucking option I have then? Even if I don’t want, I need to now! You need to be at certain time in a certain place. After an hour of harassment of finding the new pick up place, bus and switched-off contact person you reach there only to find that none of the shit promised in the original ticket is working in the bus. Sweet!
  5. Public Infrastructure
  6. I ordered a LeapMotion kit to be shipped from US. After arriving in India, it was handed to India Post. It travelled places all over India including Mumbai, Delhi and Goa only to never reach me. I had to query with Mumbai Post Office, Mumbai Customs, Delhi Post Office, Delhi Customs and Delhi GPO because all their fucking website says is ‘Held at Customs’ and none of the employees ever have a clue of what’s happening in the world and complaint page looks like this.
    I ended up asking for refund from source to get out of this hell. Luckily, their shipment was insured saving them loss too.

    Such are the horrendous examples occurring all over the places more frequently than I’d like to admit.
    This behavior exposes a rather deep rooted issue in the belief system of businesses and services 
    provided in a country of 1.25 billion people like India.

    From viewpoint of supply side, you are insignificant, replaceable and just another number much alike a miniscule drop in the vast ocean. You are just a piece of business who spits money in exchange of any shit service they provide. This is the problem with an economy like India with such a diverse social segments ranging from billionaires to middle class to extremely poor with increasing chunk of population towards latter. I can only imagine that perspective from behemoth companies in country with limited supply options and barely aware people with limited expectations will be to provide minimum possible acceptable value while asking for maximum acceptable rates.

    Thing is, when you are trying to be at forefront of technology & innovation in a global information age, aware of the best services and customer experiences, minimum criteria is just not good enough. You expect companies to care about their service, serve in the best way possible they can and most of all treat you like a person and always questioning would I be happy at the receiving end of my service given the promises that were made? If the answer is no at any point, you should be willing to redo the entire process.
    In stark contrast, though I might be biased, international brands (expanding after other developed countries) in India almost always rate higher on the scale. They understand that customer is the backbone of their business and a lasting company needs happy users. They, even go out of their way to make their service usage pleasant.
    Take couple of hot homegrown internet business and their international counterparts:
    • Ola vs Uber
      On choosing ride now option, I chose my exact map location. Ola driver calls me thrice in a different language to ask my landmark, location etc only to arrive after 20 mins compared to promised 4 mins shown while booking, with a car in shabby state and non-working AC. On the other hand, Uber driver reaches in almost the expected time at the location with a nice car with working equipments where you set the location and off you go.
      On sending a valid complaint to Ola, you get an automatic thanks and will look into email while, Uber gets you refund with no questions asked along with apology.
    • Flipkart vs Amazon
      On choosing to refund, I have to pack stuff up, choose a courier service and ship it to given address in case of Flipkart while, Amazon pick up comes right at door at the appointed date to make your life easier. That’s what customer centric company is supposed to be.
    It’s just not good enough to barely make things available which were not while following the same pathetic ancient practices. That is only going to last until customers are stuck in mental state of cheapest option is the best option.
    With the rising income levels of middle and upper-middle classes, people are more and more getting sick of the service standards and beginning to embrace the idea of higher charges in exchange of superior products and services.
    Companies need to do the same because, once the international brands hit the economies of scale, only quality of service is going to be real differentiator.

    NYE ’16 fraud in Goa

    For New Year 2016, I had planned a 10-day Maharashtra – Goa trip for my family. They were scheduled to be in Goa between December 29th – January 2nd. So, this being the first time my parents were out of station for New Year, we decided to attend the NYE event in Goa which would be suited for everyone in family.

    Now, Goa has pretty wide set of offerings for NYE ranging from Beach Parties to Underground night club parties. We learned about few of them from radio, word of mouth and locals and talked to organizers of 3-4 different events. We were a total of 11 people ranging from age of 17 to 60.

    And, as the fate will have it, we come across White Farm Party.

    We contacted the number on the pamphlet and the sales guy came to our hotel to meetup.

    We had few basic fit questions which go like this:

    Q: Is this party suited for family setting?
    A: Yes, totally. Actually, stag entry is prohibited and no stray person will be allowed.

    Q: What are the charges for the event? Does it include food, drinks and performances?
    A: Two options: Silver (INR 2,000/-) and Gold (INR 2,500/-) on December 30th. On 31st the charges will increase by another INR 1,000/-. Gold has more options regarding premium alcohol (Scotch) and food. Latter also includes seating for everyone in contrast to the former and gives you access to a separate segment for Gold tickets.

    Q: What is the expected population size at the event?
    A: This is a huge event, might go upto 7K – 8K people.

    Q: Who are the performers at this event?
    A: Among others, Remo D’Souza and group, Abhijeet Sawant, Russian Dancers. The party goes till 4 AM.

    At this point, we thought this sounds pretty good deal and will be a fun thing overall. We buy 11 Gold tickets from the sales guy paying him in cash of total INR 27,000/- (11 * 2,500). Unfortunately, we didn’t ask explicitly for a receipt after getting the entry tickets as everyone was pretty chilled out around (Hint: That is always a big mistake).

    Now, on evening of December 31st everyone is ready for a great night and off we go and you might have guessed, everything goes spiraling downwards from there:

    After some address searching, we reach at the mentioned location around 9:30 PM only to find an average sized 2-floor house at a farm, although well decorated. First realization, this place can host 200 people, at best, with current strength of around 100. Never Minding the size, we think even better that smaller set of people are here, implies better quality (Boy, what was I thinking!). We collect our wristband tickets in exchange of passes and proceed.

    Next, there is no family around at this event. I could barely spot 3 couples, other than us, out of entire population. Say What?

    Next, The two floors are split for two different classes of tickets. We proceed to 1st floor only to find there are barely any seating options as affirmed. Now, We have 4 people in 45+ age range and definitely can’t go for a straight 6-hour party haul. We grab a small corner table and go to talk to manager. He explains that there are no seats for Gold class and there is a higher class with reserved seats. Meanwhile, another event staff goes to table and asks people sitting to clear it out. We are baffled by this. We explain the things discussed at point of sale but, they are not listening.

    Next, couple of people go to bar to get drinks only to find there are no starters along with drinks, again unlike the confirmation, which further reveals that food charges completely exclusive of the entire ticket amount! Another parallel debate begins about the difference in the way it was advertised and reality. We’re appalled at this point and everyone’s mood is off.

    Next, background music is being organised by some local DJs and bands and no real performers as advertised. We have no hope that any of the good ones will actually turn out.

    Meanwhile, I try to get hold of some starters from the event kitchen only to find a single person handling everything with a single cooking setup. It takes him almost 25 minutes to get me a single plate of Chicken Tandoori Kabab. We have come to hopeless realization within an hour of arriving here that this is not working out.

    Next, out of several shiny white clad russian women, few of them get up on the table for their dance performances. I would have loved to be there by myself but, not everyone is going to like this.

    We need to get out of this place.

    Next, I go to the ticket counter to tell him how ridiculously we were duped into something completely different than what’s happening here and ask for refund. And, sure enough that guy has stopped listening. In retrospect, I would also not have believed someone saying they want refund during the event. But, then he goes one step further and starts threatening that either go “enjoy” the party or he is going to “kick me out” of there. Now, this attitude totally pisses me off and have a very high pitched vocal argument. I’m rather chilled out person who totally tries to avoid any sort of violence but, within a second of that statement 5 thoughts cross my mind on how to hurt this guy ranging from breaking his nose to burning this place, which is already covered with clothes all over, down.

    We were way beyond our point of frustration and embarrassment at this point and walked out to somewhere else. We not only just wasted a good chunk of cash on this but, that made this the worst NYE experience compared to what we had originally in mind.

    I still painfully remember how this entire thing made me most helpless and duped I ever felt filled with shame, embarrassment and frustration. And, I couldn’t think of anything I could do to get even.

    Now, don’t get me wrong. I’m a highly reasonable person with rather logical brain and totally understand how the event organizer could have seen this entire drama in a different setting from other side of table. My utter anguish was because what the sales guy promised us for the event in contrast to reality. Because, these agents are paid on per ticket sale basis, that guy went as far as it took for him to sell as many tickets as possible.
    I would have been totally fine if I was sold ticket with explanation of what’s exactly going to be here. Be it no seating option or, a small event or, mere russian dancers or, food is extra or, stag friendly place.
    It might have been foolish of me to listen to the sales guy other than what was written on pamphlets in the first place or, not verifying authenticity of entire thing independently. But, during such vacation travel and high state, I doubt anyone really thinks about these things until later and most people would be vulnerable to such.

    I dropped a mail to Goa Police later on with details in the hopes that someone looks into this matter and takes some strict action to put up preventive measures against such fraud in future.

    Do you have any suggestions on who else can be told about this?

    2015 in review


    • NYE 2015 isn’t too rad. Beginning with walking around Powai with flatmates. House and Locality seem like the best place out of last three in past 3 years since I moved to Mumbai.
    • I have gotten Montra Trance 2015. Starting to stretch my legs around. These are the best couple of months to do anything outdoors in Mumbai. Better make the best out of it.
    • I have completed my 25th birthday this time around. Couldn’t sleep through the night before. Major quarter life crisis thoughts are driving me crazy. This is getting worse.


    • Time for bi-annual home trip; part-1. There is major change happening with home situation.
    • Dad is retiring after working for almost 40 years as Photographer + Public Relations with CCL. I still can’t wrap my head around this as I recall after barely completing a year of my first full time job calling him up and asking how can I go on? How do you do it? What’s the secret? Reply from other side comes out to be “It just happened”.
    • Newly built house is also almost ready. With retirement, comes surrender of company quarter, the house where I grew up between year 4 – 18, which has the very first memories of mine. Construction of standalone house has been underway for some time now. Folks back home have decided on details pretty much themselves with me dropping in time-to-time with a bit of Financial Aid.
  7. Back at work, After few projects around Risk Management and Infrastructure, I have been fully working with a trading desk which involves analyzing data / financial markets, statistical prototyping,  building production code and trading in live markets. I find the process pretty fascinating mostly because of fast iteration and quantified result metrics.
  8. I have gotten couple of weekend squash pals too now along with higher quality gears. Getting decent at it. Other club players still killing it though.
  9. March

    • Time for a quarterly adventure travel trip is here. Perfect time for a trip to snow valleys around IISM Gulmarg. I have gathered a pretty awesome Snow Skiing kit from Wed’ze / Decathlon. Another exciting new batch of people, events and nature. I’m an Intermediate skier now and the first runs from actual mountains are epic at just another level compared to baby slopes!
    • Weather already seems to turning pretty hot, Screw you Mumbai. Though, This has been pretty fun set of weekends of weekend biking. Find stats on Strava.
    • We have rebuilt a core strategy for desk in equity market with better scaling options of HFT and taken it live. Bunch of small portfolios put into test. Results look promising.


    • On structured reading front, it’s turning out to be another failed attempt to keep the schedule. Barely able to do some reading around fundamental philosophy and psychology. Gotta work on this.
    • On weekends, I’m taking up Financial Technology / Programming module of QuantInsti for increasing sized batches of global quantitative finance professionals.


    • Scuba Diving time. After couple of reschedules of this awaited trip of the year, it is finally happening. I am learning to be an Advanced Open Water Diver with Barefoot Scuba, a PADI diving agency based out of Havelock in Andaman. Underwater world is breathtaking.. literally. Getting up close with Sharks, Mantas, Turtles, Snakes and a vibrant variety of fishes while just focusing on breathing in remote open sea waters hundreds of kilometers away from mainlands.


    • A major fire has taken place in apartment besides my building. 7 people dead in this awful mishap. Lots of safety practices revisited around Lake Homes society.
    • It has started to rain in Mumbai, best time for visiting mountains around. For some reasons, I’m rather bored of them, they just don’t seem as exciting as 2012 anymore. Still able to do few road trips with friends of friends. BTW, Road trips in car, not my cup of team. Please don’t invite me, I’m a terrible shotgun rider.


    • Meanwhile, my food experiments have continued all the while. I am about to hit 200th mark of restaurants in Mumbai from where I have had a meal in past 3 years. Food is fun.
    • I have been able to accomplish learning a bunch of financial concepts, jargons and techniques. Feels like I have collected major chunk from trunk of the quantitative finance tree.
    • I have produced few spun-off projects too alongside. Like everything government, dealing with audits and demos with exchanges and SEBI is excruciatingly painful, which takes up a major chunk of time during releases.


    • I have worked out a regular schedule for off time and trying to stick to it. Weekdays involve alternating between Running and Swimming. Weekends involve Squash or Cycle rides. Society facilities make a lot of sense now.
    • We have taken another HFT strategy live to the market. This one involves lots of upcoming experiments of market conditions to get to sustainable profitability. 


    • In other development, BITOSA Mumbai chapter is properly formed along with a get together of alumni from all the batches. Getting to know few interesting people from BIT.
    • Annual review has finished recently at iRage. I have a long discussion with team regarding firms’ future, my role in it and differences between my ideal work scenario vs reality. During recent past, this sense of irreparable mismatch in goals has been sinking in me. Alongside, desire to build something, not sure about specifics, from ground up has been spreading in my head. Putting some more thought into it.


    • After lots of simulations, one thing seems certain at the moment: leaving the firm. After some discussion, we decide on end of month to finish up appropriately with knowledge transfer and finding a replacement. This 15 month stint, though short, gave me dozens of productive weeks and has come to a natural end and separation.
    • Now what? Ever since graduation, as I have kept learning more, set of options seem to broaden continuously. At this point, it seems like there is a wide array of choices I can choose to pursue. I am trying to reason out the most amenable one.


    • Time for bi-annual home trip; part-2. New house looks all set now. We have bought the first car for home. Diwali at home is good. Mom decides to take up Chhath making this an extended trip. Got a chance to meetup with bunch of friends from 2006 graduating batch of class Xth in Ranchi too.
    • I have brainstormed a list of problems worth solving with available resources and working on finding intersection with present interests. After weighing options, I am finding it hard to start the process single handedly in Mumbai. I decide to move to Bangalore for now in the hopes that being closer to ecosystem is going to keep the spirit up while working out details.


    • Amidst all the confusion, I have decided to take next 2 months to learn all things to make a decision if startup is the right option for me? I am meeting with people, I have worked or studied in past with whom a meeting can be scheduled. And, learning the crux requirements and skills needed to build a company from ground up.
    • Family is scheduled for 10-day Maharashtra-Goa tour and I am joining them briefly around NYE in Goa. First time at a beach on the NYE and it didn’t disappoint. Lights, music and vibe is pretty awesome. And, the counter hits 2016.

    Hope you all have a great year 2016 ahead!