Constant Cadence

The optimal way to cycle is to maintain a more or less constant cadence; that is, the rate at which you pedal. This is not easy on a single speed cycle, but on a geared cycle you have all the help you need to keep pushing at an optimal constant rate. So, when you are riding uphill and it becomes increasingly tough to pedal, you just shift the gears down but maintain the cadence. You obviously lose speed, but the combination of a lower gear and optimal pedaling speed results in the best usage of your resources. You could stay in a higher gear and put more effort in pedalling, but that would tire you down. Gearing down and pedaling at the same rate is your best bet even if it means that you move slower.

This trick, like everything else about cycling, has an analogy in life. When you face a rough patch, or obstacles, or an unexpected lack of results, maintain your optimal cadence, your rhythm. While riding uphill in life, you automatically shift down to a lower emotional and mental “gear”. The win is in not letting the situation affect your cadence. Put in the same number of hours. Maintain your schedule. You will probably be less productive, but you will be better off than resisting the change or giving up altogether. In life, like in cycling, you can only control how much you pedal. The result varies.

Imagined Reality

We stopped checking for monsters under our bed when we realized they were inside us.

As a kid I used to be scared of the night watchman. Every night, during his patrol, as he passed by my house, creating a ruckus with his baton and whistle, I used to curl up into a bundle of pure fear. I could never dare to look out my window to invalidate my baseless imaginations but my young mind painted the image of a red-eyed hairy daemon, walking through the streets in search of kids to devour. The quiet of the night and the solitude used to make the moments all the more ghastly. I knew he was employed as a guard and it was his duty to keep thieves and burglars off our houses, but the knowledge never helped me feel otherwise.

As a kid, what frightened me most were imaginary things that I believed were real. As an adult, I realize how easy I had it back then. What keeps me awake at night now is the fear that what I believe is real might just be my imagination.

The Age of Documentation

This is probably the most adorable advert Apple has ever commissioned. The warmth and EQ is very christmasy, the message is subtle and the technology and features (did you notice the slo mo?) have been sprinkled ever so lightly. It is the perfect concoction of subliminal messaging and good storytelling and is bound to meet Apple’s expectations on the returns.

The advert aptly captures (and attempts to vindicate) our obsession with documenting our lives. Today’s technology has aided, and exacerbated, this nature. Before Instagram, Facebook and Twitter existed, people drew self-portraits, kept diaries, wrote letters and documented life as it happened, but the technology available was never simple and accessible enough to overshadow life itself. You didn’t kiss such that you could take a selfie at the same time, you just kissed (and someone else took a picture and made it the world’s most famous kiss).

Granted that photographs and videos are amazing ways to recall our most beautiful experiences, but somewhere between the Mona Lisa and hashtag we began replacing experiences with tokens of memory. We are so busy capturing the moment (and making it look beautiful) that we hardly enjoy it. Every experience reduced to a dead digital copy, like a thin slice of our life mounted on a microscope slide, labelled, sorted and stored. And let’s not even talk about how we make it even worse by sharing these “experiences” to the world in an attempt to gain approval and feel good about ourselves.

On Moving Mountains

You don’t move mountains. You don’t bulldoze them with the brute force of your will. They are stronger than the forces of your nature. You erode them. You chip at them with the strength of you determination. You annihilate them bit by bit with the power of your perseverance. You don’t need an unstoppable force to conquer an immovable object, you need an unending resilience that refuses to back down. Come what may.

Police evicting Kejriwal from outside Sheila Dikshit’s house a year ago.
Police evicting Kejriwal from outside Sheila Dikshit’s house a year ago.

As Lame As It Gets

If I were a superhero, stories about me would narrate how, against all the odds, I manage to sleep in a devastatingly cramped and noisy place to save the world time and again. Sleep-Man’s incredible feats of dozing-off would bring peace and security to the planet. You see, sleeping is one of my lame superpowers (Yes, I got more!). Time, place, ambience and my own condition are irrelevant when I decide to have a shuteye. Every time I wake up after an economy flight on a no-frill airline lands (the gold standard of discomfort), I see a strange mix of awe and hatred in the eyes of people sitting around me. My sleep is invincible; or so I thought, until, one night, the noise of paper tearing off woke me up.

Throughout the 4 years of my graduation, I curated a collage on the wall of my room. It was a collection of interesting pictures that I found in the newspapers. I used to stick A2 sized sheets to the wall and then use them as a base for sticking the cutouts. As the semesters passed and the collage got bigger, it got increasingly difficult to firstly, stop my dad from throwing me out of the house for ruining the wall, and secondly (and more importantly), keep my creation where it belonged. I was making a huge engineering mistake. I was sticking all the sheets together, making the collage one colossal, and heavy, sheet of paper. Gravity. That insensitive canine female. On a good day the collage would simply come off the wall. But, on a bad day it would come off partially and then get torn partway.

And that’s what happened on that fateful night. I was doing what I do best; Sleeping without the darndest worry of what’s happening around me. And all of a sudden, I am wide awake, standing next to the wall, holding the partially torn collage, stopping the cleavage halfway. I guess, sometimes we superheroes have to give in to our weaknesses, be a little selfish, and abandon the world we are sworn to protect to save the little personal worlds that we call ours. Yes, the Sleep-Man got woken up by the sound of a paper tearing off. It wasn’t just another paper though. You may slow-clap now. Quietly; I am sleeping!

By the way, this song, totally relevant!