Kushal in 2010

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about meThis following blog post was written by me in 2010 when I was a college student:

Social networking is one of my favorite online activities which includes real-time tweeting. Reading novels and posting reviews on Goodreads is among the other ones. I tried Dancing as well, which is one of my ways of balancing out my adrenaline rush and enjoying the music. And guess what is my profession: Computer Engineer. But I don’t spend all my time in the air-conditioned office, I rather like to go out and do something that makes a difference and I call it an investment in our future. One of these activities is teaching the underprivileged children in the nearby slum area. I seldom miss a chance to volunteer and have worked with various NGOs and societies. I believe in the idea of excellent education for all children which is the vision of Teach for India.

Motorcycling
I love to take risks and that’s why I like stunting. I believe in the quote, “if four wheels move the body, two wheels move the soul”. Now you can reckon how much I love my motorbike. I’m d kind of guy who’ll be sneaking out of my bedroom at three o’clock in the morning to look at my bike.

(If you don’t ride in the rain, you don’t ride.)

One can key me out as a speedoholic. When I sit on my bike and kick-start it, I get a strange feeling as if I were omnipotent.

(Everyone crashes. Some get back on. Some don’t. Some can’t.)

Here is a video featuring one of my driving experiences:

Photography

 

In photography, my interest prevails as I keep up my photostream on flickr. Though with the advent of Instagram  I started clicking more pictures by using a smartphone.

I am going to put all about me and my thoughts on this blog, and I hope that you revel reading it.

More : http://about.me/kushalashok

Technical Presentation at Toastmasters ACB9 – Mobike | How stuff works?

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Tonight I delivered a prepared speech at Toastmasters club after several months. It was my 19th (ACB9) Speech as per Toastmasters International education system; project 4 of Technical presentations manual, which provided me 12 minutes of stage time. You can refer to the slides which I used during the presentation, by using this link: Mobike PPT

Also find below the link to white paper which inspired me to choose this topic:

Mobike White Paper 2017

In terms of experience, I got an engaging audience and all of them had used Mobike before. Thus, it was quite easy for me to get their attention. I was worried that I may have included too many technical terms for everyone to understand, but I believe it went well since I got voted as the best prepared speaker. I think the inclusion of a poster from movie “3 idiots” successfully brought back nice memories for everyone.

I also got a nice feedback from my evaluator and she rightly mentioned that I could not summarize the speech to reiterate the key take away since I ran out of time. The agenda of this speech was not to publicize or praise Mobike, but to inspire people to learn and investigate more about the machines they use in their daily lives. To have that curiosity and zeal, to find the answers, and more importantly; to ask questions.

I also got some feedback from the Grammarian on my pronunciation, which reminded me that I still need to work on it. It gave me another reason to continue delivering more speeches at Toastmasters clubs.

P.S.: I used the word of the day (in retrospect) twice, once in my prepared speech and once during table topics.

 

 

10 months without blogging

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I have never been a regular blogger but I did write diary entries from time to time and the whole experience of documenting my thoughts has been wonderful. Other than making the memories permanent, it also serves as a way of sharing my knowledge and experiences. The only reason Google is able to answer most of our queries is because somewhere, someone wrote about the solution online and Google team is smart enough to make that answer reach you.

This is the reason I am writing a blog post after more than 10 months now and the first topic that came to my mind was applying PAN card and Aadhar card for Bhutanese as foreigners in India. I am not sure if people will be getting this as a result when someone searches for “How to get a PAN card in India” but at least if a Bhutanese citizen if making a specific search like “PAN card for Bhutanese”, he or she might stumble upon this post and it shall fulfill my purpose.

The only thing that is lacking in my blog is discipline. If I can follow a schedule and write posts regularly, I am sure I will be happy about it and maybe even proud to be owning a blog which narrates my story beautifully.

Procrastination

My first expert

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This post is dedicated to my Mom and today being the Mother’s day I talked to her patiently and tried to understand her concerns after a long time. I left my home after completing 10th grade and started living in a hostel while preparing for JEE. I will always remember that I used to fail whenever I tried to lie to her. For instance, when I was out with my friends playing counter strike at Reliance WebWorld, no matter how much I tried she would instantly know that I am lying about my whereabouts. After many such failures, I simply stopped trying because I had learnt that there is no way around it. Thus, I started speaking out the truth. Not to my mother, but my father instead. I know that this must be quite opposite to what most people do, but for me convincing my father has always been easier.

My mother has been an expert teacher for me literally. She not only helped me learn that the letter B comes after the letter A in English alphabet, but she also straightened me and guided me whenever I made the wrong choices. And she did all of this while managing the house and completing all the chores. Now that I think of it, if I had to cook food, teach children in school for 6 hours, keep the house clean and manage clothes for everyone, I would hardly have any energy left. But even today she manages all of that on her own.
While watching the India’s got talent show on television yesterday, I was again reminded of the ways in which my mother took care of multiple tasks at once. As the anchor talked about Goddess Durga and her multiple capabilities, I was recalling all the tasks that my mother have been completing since so many years without any fail. No wonder our mothers are able to take care of us while managing their own job and the complete household.

Another experience that refreshed some memories of mine was watching the movie Piku. I never thought that emotions could be so well related to motion. The movie simply portrayed the common yet complex situations we face with our families and successfully puts across the importance of relationships. Especially the relationships that we share with our older generation. No matter how open minded or educated they are, there is always a gap that we need to bridge. I have certainly learned a lot from this movie and I am sure that these learning will help me in future. Now that I am working as a Senior Systems Engineer and hardly have time to sit idle and meditate, I think there is certainly a need for increasing my threshold of patience and this movie has helped me get one step closer to that goal.

Following is a picture of me with my mother. This one was clicked by my father when I got back from school:

mom and me

Also, do have a look at the Godrej Expert.

My friend Sachin

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This post is dedicated to my friend Sachin Mittal whom I know for more than 7 years now. Our friendship began in college where we used to hang out together. We belonged to the same batch during first year and studied together during all our exams. Even today when I look at the pictures or videos that we shot, it brings a smile on my face. Laughing on each other’s poor jokes, playing the same prank again and again, enjoying the common sense of helplessness before an exam and then talking about the wrong answers after we came out of the exam room, all such memories are always there with me.

2009

Tea with snacks

 

Since we belonged to different streams of engineering, we were allocated to separate batches in the second year of college. But we continued to go on short trips, which increased further as he moved to a room in the same building as of mine. We started sharing more and used to talk about our failures and aspirations. Other than the daily outing to the nearby market, we also went on a long trip to Kedarnath which started with a simple discussion we had on a Tuesday evening. Following is the narration as per my recollection:

Sachin: It’s Tuesday, Do you wanna go to the temple?

Kushal: I don’t think one should only go to temples on a Tuesday. But never mind, it has been almost an year since I went to one, so let’s go.

After paying a visit to the temple

Kushal: You know what, I think I missed out on a few things by not visiting a temple during all these months. And this visit to the nearby temple did not make up for it. How about the Kedarnath Temple?

Sachin: I have been wanting to visit that temple since long. When do you want to visit?

Kushal: Tonight!

The next thing I knew, we were four guys with baggage on my Bajaj XCD driving as fast as we could, to catch the last bus to Haridwar. The whole trip was as adventurous as this beginning and we literally ran down the hills while coming back from the Kedarnath temple.

After college, though we got placed in the same company, I started my job a few months sooner since I belonged to the computer science stream and he was a mechanical engineer trying to fit into the same shoes. After almost an year we met again as he got the same allocation as mine. We continued the journey of our friendship together and he played a huge role in helping me meet my love. From recharging my phone to getting my bike repaired, this friend of mine did everything I ever asked of him. He has always been there when I needed him the most. He has been the source of my strength and optimism.

Today I am married and we still share the same trust and frankness which we had in college. I am lucky to have a friend like him and shall cherish this friendship forever.

Holi 2015

Holi 2015

Following is a video that we created on our last day in college.

P.S.: This post was inspired by Housing.

Coming out of cocoon

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How often do we make a new start in our lives?

I feel that one of the biggest changes in ones life is a change in housing. And that is what I am going to write about today. I was born in Delhi and brought up in Ghaziabad. I lived there in the same house for 10 years until I moved to Delhi for getting senior secondary education. This was the first time I was supposed to live away from my parents. Luckily the distance was not more than 70 km which allowed me to meet them every weekend or sometimes even before that.

Being the only child of my parents I was not habitual of sharing my things or dealing with bad breakfast. On my first day in the hostel I fell ill and kept vomiting. This worried my parents even more but I managed to live through the night. Next day I was late for school and by the time I got ready, all other hostelers were already done with their breakfast. I grabbed a piece of bread and  rushed towards the school bus but missed it by few meters. Now was the time for me to learn the skill of hiring an auto-rickshaw. I was not the only one who missed his bus, I found that there were 4 more hapless folks like me who just got out of the hostel and asked me about the bus. We walked to the main road and waived down the next auto. The words that came out of the driver’s mouth had struck heavily on my pocket money and if one of us were not accustomed with Delhi’s traditions we would have been duped. There were around 6 fly-overs that we had to cross and every time the auto started climbing, the speed reduced from 40 kmph to 25 kmph. Thus we reached 20 minutes late when the assembly was almost over and teachers were ready to take our class (literally). I felt bad that day and even the day after that and the day after that but soon I learned the skills of a Delhite. I had now started a new life and it required new means to tackle situations like these. Following are the two solutions we found:

A. Carry the uniform in the school bag while you go to school in casuals

This method only worked till the guards and other school staff were not familiar with our faces. We went to school in casuals and entered through the admin block. Then simply went to a washroom and changed into our uniforms to go directly to our class rooms.

B. Find a whole in the wall or just create one

While we were playing in the ground (one fine day), we found a whole in the school’s wall which provided direct unrestricted access. This was only useful till they repaired the wall but guess what we did after that? We started jumping the wall which of course had the down side of risking being caught by the school guards. But it was high time that I came out of my cocoon and start a new life.

Disclaimer: Please note that such activities even landed me to principal’s office and the readers shall perform them at their own risk.

 

Look up to optimism ^

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Have you ever tried looking up at the sky when you are feeling low?

Well, I used to go to my roof at night, lay down and look at the stars as I thought about my life and its complexities. Quite often, these serious discussions with myself would start with a pessimistic approach and all my problems would get stated one by one. As I tried to establish the fact that my life is miserable, I soon reached a point where there was no hope left and I would simply start cursing. And just when I was done with the reiteration of all my failures, I would realize that its a waste of time and energy to think about things that have either ended badly or are anyways going to end badly. In a few moments I would start dis-regarding my problems. It started with the most significant ones. The problems that could make me lose my mind during the day were now being pushed aside as I decided not to care. This process continued till I learned that in fact all my problems could be shrugged off, if I chose to.

Now was the time for my optimism to check in. Since I had already gotten rid of my problems, all I could think of was present; since present was the only time period which I had control over. My mind which was earlier full of destructive thoughts started thinking about creation. I was now in the cool dude zone. I simply wanted to enjoy my life and live it to the fullest. Thus, I decided to to call up my friends and plan a night out.

Night Out In Patiala

Now that I think of it, these night outs were never actually planned well. Since most of the times we would either end up on a highway with no petrol or one of us would get hurt. Nevertheless these incidents were always enjoyable and rather created memories which helped me move from the pessimist to the optimist zone. After a few hours of drive on the highway, having sweet tea at truck stops served with regular leg-pulling and fresh PJs; life simply got a new beginning. And the next time I looked up at the sky, I could admire the beautiful stars while not thinking about the darkness.

As juvenile as this narration may seem, such instances had a huge impact on me, my way of thinking and my way of life.

Backdrop:

This post has been inspired from the Look up stories happy hours contest by Indiblogger. Though the idea of writing an inspiring story from my life in itself was intriguing, I wanted to first have a look at the website to which I will be sharing a link to. Even though I have worked on various websites based on similar looking bootstrap templates, I have to admit that the photographs and color schemes used to create the theme were attention grabbing. If you are looking for inspiration or simply want to browse through a good looking website, check out https://housing.com/lookup

Movie Review: Don’t Underestimate Shamitabh

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Shamitabh Poster
Don’t underestimate this movie as another Bhoothnath flick. If you don’t believe me yet, check the IMDB rating. The story is good, acting is better and Amitabh Bachchan is the best. This movie made me laugh and enjoy several moments that includes sarcasm and egoistic remarks shared between Dhanush and Amitabh. Some things did fall apart for me like the lessons given by Akshara in a primary school and the chemistry between Dhanush and Akshara. But I guess it’s ok as per Bollywood standards. What I liked though, is that the movie also had an important appeal with it which makes us think about people who work behind the scenes and never get the recognition.The fact that you will see the names of the corresponding valets in the credits at end, establishes this further.

It also explains how ego can hurt us all if not controlled at the right time. Some of the sequences were simply excellent and succeeded in sparking the targeted emotions. The theme set for Dhanush as a die-hard movie fan, plays an important role in justifying some of his extreme actions. The child like playfulness, the fun loving personalities and the human bonding is portrayed very well.

I also felt that what Dhanush was trying throughout the movie while acting as dumb, Amit Ji pulled off right at the end with much more perfection.

Did you know that you have hosts in 190 countries?

Where are you going?
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This time the happy hours at Indiblogger introduced me to airbnb. This website is going to help you if you have plans to travel or host. The concept of renting your place on a daily basis might have been there since long, but the way airbnb has created an attractive and easy to use platform for both the hosts and travelers, is commendable. Other than the interface and beautiful images that made me think about my next trip, the website follows a process that is very secure and makes you feel safe while you are looking for a place to stay.

One can feel the seriousness with which things are being verified while completing his profile. And the best part is, you will enjoy doing so because you are given an opportunity to add more details about you from different platforms, ranging from your name to a 30 seconds video. All this information will later help you get legitimate deals both as a traveler and a host.

While browsing the website, I noticed a search box with the caption “Where are you going?”. I started off by typing in New York because it is one of the places that I would like to visit in the coming years. To my surprise, I found hundreds of listings which were within my budget and offered me a private room. And this was not just true for my first search; I started searching for other places like London, Bangkok, Seoul and Paris. For all these places there were listings below Rs. 2500. Ranging from Rs. 989 per night in Bangkok to Rs. 2410 in London, I was happy to learn that if I arrange my flight tickets, I can book my accommodation in any of these places right now; without killing my savings. Thus, I added these listings to my wish list along with some notes which I could use later.

And the best part was that there were enough images uploaded by the hosts to make me comfortable already. And images were not the only things that I found credible, the reviews posted by guests sealed the deal for me. And the reason that I could trust these reviews was that they were connected to real people having profiles at various platforms including facebook, linkedin and more importantly a verified ID (e.g. Driving License). If you consider the amount of details that are being added and verified at each step, spamming and faking any of this information seems very difficult to me. And this is the reason, that I would suggest my friends and acquaintances to try Airbnb while planning their next trip.

And for those who are willing to host and make some friends, make sure you add enough details to your listings while being as descriptive as possible. Once again, the Airbnb tips and tutorials will help you complete the submission process.

P.S.: After you sign up, don’t forget to download the mobile app.