When i’m nervous, im really nervous. I dont like feeling this way. Over the years i have realised that we are governed by our hormones and there is not a damn thing we can do about how we feel. Yeah sure you can fight it and repeatedly tell yourself that it is just a chemically induced reaction and none of it is real. It is like a computer program. But that being said, you can only fight it for so long till it completely overpowers you. That is my state this second.

Leaving home is never easy. I barely kept it together in front of my brother. During this transition period, as i have repeatedly mentioned in my previous blogs and loyal followers of mine will understand just how much it affects me, i am at my worst. I am vulnerable, almost sick to my stomach, there’s usually a lump in my throat and i am an emotional scene away from breaking out in tears. I would’ve wanted to go to the ship right away from the airport but it so happens that they’ve had me brought here a day early. Just in case. I am currently in a Chinese hotel where no one speaks english. I had an interesting interaction with the waiter over my lunch order and soon i’ll have another one for dinner.

I dont get why i get this way. I have barely left my bed, the weather outside is perfect for a brisk run but i am in bed binge watching episodes of Scrubs which i started a few weeks ago and it is now nearing completion. Something comforting about familiar faces and their company. Texted mum and dad. Bro too. For some reason bro gets really quiet when im at sea. He called me yesterday while i was at the airport and said that the house felt really big and lonely now that i was gone. I barely kept myself together after hearing that.

The pick up is at 0830 tomorrow and its straight to the ship after that. Roughly 12 more hours to go. I’ve been anxious and nervous about this moment for a long time, ever since i found out i will be promoted. I keep running these scenarios in my head wondering what is going to happen and if i will be able to keep up and run the ship. Currently i am just focusing on the fact that I just have to do 3 months from now on and ill have a huge cabin now.

The situation around my joining couldn’t possibly be more ideal. I am going back to the ship where i was a few months ago. I will be sailing with the seniors who recommended me for a promotion. I will have a 1 week handover with my senior from college who is someone i like hanging with. My Chief for the first 3 weeks is the same chief who runs on the ship and is very laid back barring a few episodes of madness. That’s quite possibly the best case scenario and maybe the best possible start i can have in my new role. It is still a little overwhelming though. I know i am just freaking out for no reason but uncertainty has always made me nervous. The training wheels have come off and i will pretty much be on my own and there is a lot to learn. But then i suppose i have always learnt by doing things and less out of books and manuals.

Even this rant has not helped me calm down. I have been passing in and out of sleep all day. It all begins tomorrow. My life as i know it will be totally different. I only hope i can deliver. I’ll know more tomorrow.

Totem : Chapter 9

Maybe there is no point in figuring out one’s reason to live and a purpose. I mean you only get one lifetime. If you spend that time in a closed room accompanied only by your thoughts then how have you really lived? To some far off civilization this may seem completely outrageous and an utter blasphemy but here on earth, getting drunk on a karaoke night, singing 80s ballads was considered fun. And yes sir it was. I would’ve joined in but I had promised myself baby steps. Nothing too dramatic or irrational. Plan was to ease myself back into the world and blend in like I was never gone. My friends were pissed at me but I was sure they would come around.

The DJ fiddled with some technical difficulties. The girl in the middle of her Adele song was furious and stomped her feet and shot her angriest, meanest look at him. It was rather cute really. I turned back around on my bar stool to face the bar and my beer again. Little beads of condensation climbed down the curved bottle leaving behind a wake of its passing. More followed, while the tiny bubbles travelled up inside, condensation flowed down on the outside. I traced it with my finger all the way to the top where the drops kept on accumulating. I tore up the label and stared at the liquid inside that brown transparent bottle. How it waited there for me with patience. How it filled up with life when I disturbed it. So much so that it would overflow with joy. And how it would mellow down if I left it alone for a while, untouched. Much like my life in the past few weeks.

That bartender arrived with my cold pizza and broke my chain of thoughts. It was the greasiest looking pizza I had ever seen in my life but who cared. Tonight was about living in the world. There were no rules. Pizza and beer for company. Things were looking up.

A woman came to the bar and ordered herself a drink. The music was back on so I couldn’t hear what it was but soon after the bartender returned with a short glass filled about half with a brownish liquid. I couldn’t really tell what is was because my knowledge of alcohol is atrocious. I have no idea what makes whiskey, bourbon, cognac and brandy different. They all looked the same to me. But that’d not the point. There was something about this woman. She stood out. Something about her posture, the way she stood, the classy demeanour; it was hard to look away. But I had to, she was standing rather close and I didn’t want to come across as a pervert. Women in india get enough of that. Didn’t want to increase the numbers. I returned back to my pizza and beer but the inner monologue had stopped. Which was odd, because this was the first time in months I had total silence. No thoughts, no noise; just total silence. I was amazed at this and it was welcoming because it was nice to get a break from myself. I didn’t understand what caused this and just like that I knew what it was.

I looked at her again. She clutched her glass with three fingers and her thumb down her side. The little pinkie dangled in the air making imaginary circles. She wore a red overcoat and black heels. Her hair were perfection. Even in the dimly lit bar they shone like an eclipsed sun’s halo. I could think of nothing else to do than to just keep looking at her. Who was she? And where had she come from? And by what miracle did she decide to go to the same bar on the same night at the same time as me?

A slightly inebriated man came over towards her and said, “Hey can I buy you a…”

“Go away” she said, cutting him short. And she said it with conviction and a stern face.

The message was clear. There was no way in hell that guy had any chance of even being in her proximity. It was rather amusing and funny. Ordinarily I would’ve made an entry in my head but I was five beers down, so I smirked and shook my head. She saw this from the corner of her eyes and returned the same stern expression to me. I was paralysed.

Time to set sail…

it’s that time of the year again. It’s time to leave. Heading back to sea to join the 12th ship of my life. But this one might be the most crucial one when it comes to the grand scheme of things.

It will be very different now. I will be joining as a 2nd engineer and that rank is basically the focal point of all activities. He’s the man who is consulted for basically all activities and he’s incharge of engine room management. Any rank above him is too lazy to do any real work (except paperwork) and every rank below him is basically inexperienced. So it’ll be upto me to find a balance between this and that and avoid disasters.

I remember around 10 years ago, roughly around this time, i was joining my first ship ever as a cadet. Since then, it has been crazy. There is no other word i would use to describe my experiences in life and work. It was both good and bad, probably in equal parts.

Still, leaving home is never easy. Although this time, thanks to my new rank, i will be sailing for 3 months only and then ill be back for a 3 month vacation. this time i was home longer as they had to accommodate me on a ship that had a vacant position. But this time spent at home was exhausting. When i came back my brother had just had a surgery on his shoulder after an injury. In the middle i was training for running events with my bad knee and pushed myself to the limit. I could’ve done better but i was still happy with my effort in the end. This past month both mum and dad were hospitalised for about 2 weeks and i was running around, holding the fort. I took a break from running after my last race in december and now when im trying to get back into some kind of fitness, it is an uphill task. And now i have the daunting task of joining my ship as a 2nd engineer.

it always becomes a tad emotional. I hate goodbyes. But this time i dont know if i will be that emotional. To be honest i am a little bit glad i am getting away from this madness. I lost the love of my life so she won’t be seeing me off at the airport either so that’ll probably make it a less emotional goodbye.

Three months are probably not much when you’re used to going out for 5 months at a time. I know it’s all in my head and my own demons are acting against me. I know i’ll be fine when i set foot on the ship. This time with no distractions, no commitments and nothing tying me down. Just me at the helm of my own fate and my actions steering me toward my destiny.

Wish me luck.

Totem : Chapter 8

I reached the bar early, to make sure I had the tab running before anyone came, checked if they stocked everyone’s favourite poison for the night. The music was far too loud for my taste but I realised I hadn’t been to a bar in quite some time now. Same old classic rock which was cool a while ago, became uncool in the middle and then I guess became cool again. Or this place refused to grow up and move with the times. However music had taken a turn for the worse much like everything else. Classic rock was a cliché but it was a cliché for a reason. People who were born right in the middle of the hippie culture and the hook up culture were blessed. The kids from the 90’s. They’ve had it best and being a 90’s kid myself I agree with that completely. The music was just right, we were just stepping into the new age of technology but still knew where we came from. The term playing automatically meant playing outside and not messing with someone’s heart. Things were simple back then, and sophisticated. People would talk and say things they meant. These days; don’t even get me started about these days. Its hard enough getting two words out of a former best friend, forget about having an actual meaningful conversation. How I hate these present times.

The bar filled up slowly, people came and went. It was nice to be among people again to be honest. I just sat there waiting for my friends and kept observing everyone around. They all seemed happy. Laughter blended in with the cigarette smoke and the smell of whiskey along with the loud music perfectly. It occurred to me that during my version of exile, I don’t remember laughing even once. I became so obsessed with the quest for finding answers that I gave up the pursuit of happiness in the process.  I don’t think one has to do that really. Seeing all these people in their element, all dressed up and ready to have a good time, was pretty much what I wanted from my first day back to civilization. Say what you may about mankind and its obsessive need to be happy, to feel alive, an adrenaline rush, it is a pretty fun way to live. I mean sure even if I did find the answers about the reason for my existence and my purpose, what good will that do? And what will I do after I find the answers? And what if the answers aren’t quite what I had imagined them to be? What if I find out that the human beings were planted on planet earth by some super smart alien race to test out the planet before the top dogs come and stay there permanently, before we ruin all the clean water that is. I decided to take a sabbatical from all these unanswered questions and vowed to drink many beers.

Hours flew by and no one showed. I tried calling and everyone dodged my calls. I wasn’t entirely surprised and a part of me accepted that I deserved that. But I wasn’t completely devastated. I was out in the world again, a single guy in his prime. Although I decided not to do anything about that just yet. Baby steps, I told myself. Tonight’s objective was just to test the waters and return unscathed. And so far things were looking up. I mean the beers were good, the music was fantastic, people were having fun, I finally dressed up properly in months; I was feeling pretty damn good. I turned off my phone and sat there quietly taking it all in. It turned out to be a karaoke night at the bar which brought back some good and some rather embarrassing memories. People stuck to the classics. Metallica, Linkin Park, Nirvana things like that. The thing is in india everyone thinks they can sing. Just like everyone thinks they have the potential to be a good cricket player and the same way they all think they can be movie stars. Needless to say, some delusional yet oddly confident singing started taking place. But everyone was too drunk to care and joined in the chorus in unison

Ruined once more

I stood there powerless. I had no control over what was going on or where things went from there. I was reduced to a mere bystander even though the events unfurling before me had a great impact on my life. She continued as if nothing mattered. She had that kind of a power over me. She knew i loved her and nothing would change that. I wish i could reason with my stupid heart but she knew i couldn’t do anything about it. She owned me in every sense of the word. She loved me too. I can tell when a person loves me. But she was damaged and disturbed. Nothing could stop her or change her ways. She was an indestructible destructive force. We were together but I had no control over where things went. Fearing to tarnish my “nice guy” image in front of her and the world, i soldiered on while she proliferated my misery. I could say nothing or do nothing for the fear of being tagged as an asshole and being blamed for ruining the relationship. Men in love often suffer through the same predicament while women do as they please. They are ill treated by society, harassed at work and looked at differently because they are women. But they possess a towering power over the men who love them unconditionally.  They talk about feminism and equal rights but never has there been a bigger mismatch when it comes to two people in a relationship. We all know who calls the shots there. Men in love would always want to work things out. Women choose to be mad at every thing instead. Men look for camaraderie while women seek to blame. Men stick around and fight, women tend to walk away. The world is unforgiving towards women, and women are unforgiving towards the men who love them and want the best in the world for them.

So i carried on with my scars, both fresh and old, both external and self inflicted, both tortured and conflicted. This was my life. Till the day she left me. I now nurse myself back to health just to be ruined once more.

I don’t know

I often hear people complain about their relationships. They are almost always unhappy and constantly complaining about every little knickknack  there is. They’re openly mean to each other, they take their issues outside and fight while present among their friends. I find it rather disturbing and there’s an epidemic increase in such cases. Just the ones i see and know. Not one of my friends is in a happy committed relationship or marriage.

i find it hard to reason with people. Especially these days when no one listens anymore and everyone wants the mic. you could go to great lengths to explain something to them citing examples and facts but all you get is a disheartening “I don’t know..” in the end. It’s this “I don’t know” that is the crux of the problem. It is so convenient and an easy escape. No one takes the time out to understand now what the problem is and what can be done to fix it. All i hear is “I don’t know what his/her problem is..”, “I don’t know if i can make it work with him/her..”, “I don’t know how i got here..”. This wretched i don’t know ruins everything.

If someone was to sit down with their loved one and discuss what the issues are and how they can make it work with each other then the world would be less miserable. People would be less miserable and they would intern make less people miserable. And why not? You love this person. You would rather talk to your friends and bitch about your problems but when to comes to your own loved one you keep quiet and let all your issues boil and churn inside into a toxic flaming ball of resentment. Find the time to turn that “I dont know..” into “I know what’s wrong and i can fix it but doing this..”.

Im no expert in this department but i offer my two cents regardless. For me it makes no difference. My only two options are sitting alone on my bed here at my house or sitting alone on my bed on my ship. There is no other option for me. I don’t have the option to fight with someone or have issues with someone. Oh how i would love to have issues with someone. But all those of you who have what everyone wants in this world tend to take it for granted and throw it away without a second thought. Would you rather be like me? Because none of you realise just how lucky you are to have someone to love while i look around and find nobody to talk to.

Totem : Chapter 7

I read every spiritual book available and I was still nowhere near. I hadn’t even taken a step in the right direction. I was right where I had started. Only now I was alone. Mankind had tried and given up on the search of understanding. That was the only logical explanation. They had created gods to justify the unanswered questions and had given him supreme powers. Powers that no one had seen in action but believed they existed. Because they made things easier. They had a direction to turn to when things turned bad. They told themselves that god loves everyone and he included everyone in his grand plan. Lies we created to make ourselves feel loved, feel purposeful, feel important. And people went to great lengths to appease these gods. They donated large sums of money, they fasted, they celebrated the triumphs of their gods and they loved their gods because he loved them back tenfold.

I believed in nothing. I was disappointed with people, with mankind. What was worse was that people fought over these gods, these fake beliefs. They were willing to kill each other in the streets. Hatred spewed openly and for what? Because someone believed something you didn’t? Someone followed a different set of rules? Someone worshipped a different god? I guess this was the bigger question-why had man become so foolish? The answer was something I didn’t bother looking up. It was a disgrace. And in the midst of all this negative hate spewing atmosphere we were supposed to live. We were supposed to start a family and bring a child into this world and protect it from all this. But this hate is in the air, its a plague. It poisons everything it touches. We teach our kids right and wrong, we also inadvertently teach them what to accept and what to reject. What to follow and what to let go. We teach them that our beliefs are right and only we are right.

The world was far more flawed than I expected it to be. The deeper I went, the harder it became to accept my reality. I decided to do what everyone else had been doing all along. I reopened the doors I had shut previously and reached out into the world. My friends thought I was dead but I didn’t bother explaining to anyone about where I was and what I was doing. They would think I had become crazy and who would blame them. It was a crazy quest. I wouldn’t say it was a total failure. I now understood myself a lot better. I understood what really mattered to me in life and what were temporary addictions, like friends and alcohol. Still I decided to stop living like a social outcast. I decided to dive back into the world I was once a part of. I set up an outing at the regular bar and invited some of my friends, those who weren’t mad at me and who actually took my call. I was nervous if im being totally honest. I hadn’t spoken for so long I had forgotten the sound of my own voice. And I was expected to explain where I was and what I was doing. I hadn’t even come up with the perfect lie yet. The kind that would result in the least number of counter questions. Plan A was to use the line “I decided to live off the grid for some time”. Sounded pretty solid in my head but if someone asked why, I would have no reasonable explanation. Plan B was to say “ ive just been really busy” but that never works and you come across as a snob. My intentions were pure and I didn’t want them to hate me for it. However I couldn’t tell them the truth without raising a few concerns. I decided to wing it. I was pretty good on my feet. With enough alcohol and time, I would come up with something I was sure.

Apple Watch Series 3 Review

So i finally put my foot down and purchased the new Apple watch series 3. Now, one thing you should know right away if you’re in India is that you only get the GPS model. The LTE model will not come to india because none of the telecom companies have volunteered to provide a service for this. Which also means there won’t be any stainless steel or ceramic models and you’re stuck with the aluminium. Which isnt a deal breaker really.

Now, no doubt the apple watch had my attending right from the first series that was launched a few years ago but as is the case with every new technology, it takes a few years to work out the bugs, errors and functionality issues. Having previously owned a Garmin Fenix 3 HR and a few Fitbits, i was curious to know how would the apple watch compete with rival brands. As an apple loyalist for many years, i was rooting for them but i know how things have a tendency to let you down.

Right away i could tell there is a much larger functionality on the watch itself. I found myself barely looking at my phone while i was outside and i could do a variety of tasks on the watch itself while it was paired with the phone. I could send and receive messages, answer calls, read emails and even book a cab. The new improved Siri somehow responds better on the watch compared to the iPhone. wonder how that works but i found that Siri was able to pick up voice cues with incredible accuracy which is something i cannot say about the iPhone or the iPad.

It is light in weight and even with a case and a screen guard, it weights much less that a bulky Garmin which occupies most of your wrist and becomes a pain to wear on those long runs. With Garmin, my biggest beef was that the app was ridiculously slow and cumbersome. Getting it synced was a nightmare and the app would often forget all data synced previously. So you’re stuck with today’s data only. Also, that even though it was called a “smartwatch”, it barely had any features. You could get notifications but barely do anything about them. While on the run screen, you cannot switch back to any other screen unless you end your session. Although to be fair, it had an incredible battery life.

With the Fitbit, the app was good and i liked the challenges you could compete in with your friends but the band offered very little apart from that. I would’ve liked a few more features for that kind of a price but it was a let down. Yet, it still remains everyone’s entry level fitness band.

Another rival brand which is rapidly gaining popularity in the fitness world is TomTom. Now their biggest asset is their ability to store music and a decent enough battery life. The features are still limited and offer little else apart from tracking your runs etc.

The Apple watch adds to the functionality of a Garmin, the music capability of a TomTom and the seamless syncing of a Fitbit and makes it even better. The watch is incredibly useful and offers a ton of third party support as well. I have downloaded all of runtastic’s fitness apps and i now have all my workouts on my wrist. I have synced music on my watch and i get about 10 hours of music and tracking. And all my data gets synced in the blink of an eye and i am a fan of the fitness rings and i strive to get all of them closed every day. which isn’t always easy.

Coming to the cons, i’m afraid there are some. The battery life isnt great but if you are really careful with your use, you can get about 3 days. I personally have it on airplane mode all day when im home. That way it tracks my movements but doesn’t use up a lot of battery. at night i switch to power saver mode with barely uses any battery at all and still gives you the functionality of a watch. When i step out, i have my phone and my watch synced and i am glad i am not one of those people who have their faces constantly buried inside their phones. I can do pretty much everything i need to do right from my wrist.

Another con is that once you sync your phone and your watch or when your watch connects to wifi, you download all of the day’s messages on to your watch. Even the ones you read and discarded. If a message is on your watch, it stays on your watch and you have to delete it from the watch. Deleting a message or an email on your phone does not delete the message from your watch. And that becomes a bit annoying. I personally get a lot of spam texts from restaurants, real estate agents etc and deleting them twice, once on my phone and then on my watch is a pain. And there is no option to delete multiple messages at once. So you have to deal with them one by one.

Apart from that, it dont really see anything else that bothers me. I love the apps, i like the feel of the OS and the responsiveness has improved greatly over the previous generations. And while other brands cost a lot more and offer a lot less, i feel that this is worthy of it’s price tag.

My verdict : Definitely the right purchase if you’re looking to a wearable for workouts, runs etc. and for daily use as well.

Totem : Chapter 6

It became rather nice after a while. I detested the mere sight of people but loved being in my own company. My thoughts would wander right to the far corners of the world and then circle back right to me again. I didn’t completely disregard the understanding and teaching of others. They say every person on this planet has the potential to teach you something. Even the unremarkable ones. There’s always something, some skill, some attribute that is worth holding onto. The process of learning starts at birth and doesn’t end till the time its all over. Even in death, we learn about the sweet release of life. Not having to exist anymore, no more burdens, no more commitments, no bonds, no chains, no one to answer to and no one to miss. For that final brief second, I would like to believe that a person usually draws a breath of solace and lets go of his earthly bonds for good. I believe there’s solace in death. But for obvious reasons I can neither confirm nor deny that. I wasn’t much of a reader before but I decided to see what other people in the world had figured out. No one would recite their teaching right away ofcourse but hints appeared in between the lines. An expression here, a dialogue there, these subtleties kept popping up in everything I read and it made me realise that many others like me have this inner quest. They choose to be less vocal about it because who cares really. Most lines have a fixed trajectory. Graduate, get a job, get married, have kids and die. Some lives are unremarkable right from the start. You can tell just by looking at a person  that he will not accomplish anything remarkable. He will settle for his version of happiness and will never have the courage or the chance to discover his true potential. Eventually he would lie on his deathbed looking back on his life and who knows what he will feel. Will he die an old man filled with regret, or will he be happy with the chances he took and the ones he let slip? I guess some questions are destined to remain a mystery.

I carried on in my quest and settled in quite comfortably in my fortress of solitude. I would keep myself entertained with TV or playstation or music. I knew the human mind needed constant stimulation, else you risk stagnation. Its a part of the process. Keeps the mind motivated and focused. Its a cheat code really. Give yourself a good time and you’ll instantly feel better, you’ll react better and you’ll be ready for whatever life throws at you. I still couldn’t get to the crux of the matter. The big questions still remained unanswered despite all my efforts. Why were we here? What is our purpose? Human beings have their own version of their purpose. Something they studied to become like doctors and engineers. But in the grand scheme of things, how does that help anything? How does my going to office affect the universe? Me, an average looking, 5 feet 10 inches tall, reasonably interesting man, how does my existence change anything? It makes small changes in the lives of the people I live around but if I alienate them completely, then I make no effect at all. It bothered me to a great extent that we continued existence for thousands of years and generation after generation passed but no one had figured out the answers to the bigger questions yet. Yes we learnt how to feed ourselves and protect ourselves and populate the planet but what else?