Thursday 24 March 2016

A procrastinator's mind

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It has been a week since I came up with the title. Not that I wasn't getting enough time; a weekend passed in between, unproductive days went by, and it's not like I am super busy with something else. I could have plucked 500 bananas from banana trees (obviously!), made a 1:10 detailed prototype of the Eiffel tower, tamed a horse, stripped a car to its constituent parts, and arranged it all back together, taught a hen how to play football, and I would still have had enough time to finish this post in the meantime. But only a fellow procrastinator would know that the most difficult thing for us is to START.

Fellow procrastinators, do not believe people immediately if they say 'OMG I am a procrastinator too..Big time!' Around 80% of the people are pseudo-procrastinators. They are the kind of people who are like 'I totally spend so much time on facebook and instagram, and at work, I spend half the day on whatsapp. I am such a procrastinator!' ; and the same people will tell a procrastinator simply 'not to procrastinate and everything shall be fine'. The fact is, procrastination is not optional, we can't just not procrastinate.


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I am so content sitting around the entire day and doing literally nothing (which involves imagining totally unrealistic scenarios which are never ever going to happen, or even looking at a blank wall most of the day). It's not like I have nothing to do, I have like 15 things planned out for each day, but every time the moment comes, my mind tells me 'start half an hour later'. EVERY SINGLE TIME! At that point I know (from experience mainly) that this is not going to end well and starting out right away is the wise thing to do. But I am powerless, bewithced. Some 'other guy' inside my head calms me down saying 'it is not going to be like last time. We will finish the task in half the time. So we might as well find out what is the most plausible explanation for the disappearances of ships and aircrafts from the Bermuda triangle'. And before I know it, I have the answer to things like why Santa wears a hat, why Neo might not have been the Chosen one at all, and why the golden ratio is just an overhyped myth. Half an hour stretches to 7 hours, 15 tasks get filtered to 4. 

Then I suddenly remember that I need to put my clothes back into the wardrobe, which I had been ignoring for the past five days. Also, the kitchen needs to be put back in order and suddenly the study table seems to be in too much of a clutter to work on. I promise myself that I will start working as soon as I get all of the above done and the 'other guy' is confident of finishing all the 4 remaining tasks, and has even laid out a plan to possibly complete 2 more tasks by the end of the day. By default, I believe him.

I finish all the household work and clean a few more shoes and windows before I finally sit down to work. I realise that I took more time than necessary but well, if not 6, I can at least manage 4 tasks; finishing the additional 2 tasks was a bonus anyway. 

At 7:56 PM, I think 8:00 would be an awesome time to start fresh. So I take 4 minutes to imagine what it would feel like after finishing the remaining tasks. 'Not a very productive day, but at least I 'could' manage something. So if I keep working at this pace, I can totally gain something nice from it. And I can reward myself later with some beer or death by chocolate pancakes. That's unhealthy, but may be from tomorrow I can also work out a little. I'll be all strong and muscular in 3-4 months and may be bash up a few bad guys on the street passing lewd comments on girls. May be if I concentrate a little on how machines work, I can totally get an iron man-like suit and save the world from the zombie apocalypse. I wonder if by then we'll be able to figure out some other planet we can dwell on. The universe works in strange ways, I wonder if I am some kind of a chosen one...'  and on and on and on it goes, till I realise that even if I start now, I won't be able to finish even one task. So I might as well start the next day.


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It's not like I don't feel bad that days after days and years after years have passed by like this. But I always hope the next day is not going to be like the one before, or the ones before that. Things can change, and have too over the years, and I mean for the better. At least a deadline imposed by someone else ignites a blazing fire near the buttocks on the last day, which makes me complete my work at rocket speed. But it always leaves me unsatisfied because I know I could have done so much more and so much better. Being overly optimistic, I am lucky that panic still works for me; some people just freeze at the last moment and their minds just go into a state of total hibernation.

Even though it took me more time than necessary to complete this post after starting it (nearly all day; I also had plans to do some illustrations and learn a few words of Spanish, but well, may be tomorrow), I am happy to get it out of the way. And remember fellow procrastinators, it is tough, but all is not lost. With constant efforts, we can improve our productivity gradually. May be I will write a post on how to go about it, but not today... It is too late to even start!

Tuesday 15 March 2016

9 reasons to go learn a new language!

I had a fascination for learning new languages from a very young age. I don't exactly know why, but I wanted to learn 'all' the languages that there are in the world. While growing up, that 'all', gradually became 'as many as possible'.

Even though I might have had to compromise on that, the fascination for languages is still alive. I have always felt that more the number of languages we know, the lesser the barriers we have. These barriers isolate us from people, places, culture, knowledge and all such wonderful things out there in the world for us to see and experience. Want some more reasons? I'll give you 9


Learn a few words of the language spoken in your next travel destination, and trust me, you will transform your entire travel experience. Travelling is not just about visiting places and taking pretty pictures. A 'buenos dia
s' or 'Quoi de neuf' is enough to get you warm smiles and great hospitality. You will find yourself so much more connected to that place and their people, and that for me is a very important aspect of travelling.


We absorb aspects of culture from a lot of sources. It might be from the places we travel, books we read, music we listen to, movies we watch and so on. Doing all that in one language is like having one flavour of ice cream all life. As soon as we switch to another language, we learn something new, and subconsciously, imbibe a few aspects in us, which stays with us forever.


When you learn a new language, you unlock treasures of knowledge attached to that particular language, culture, place, its history, facts, traditions and a whole lot more. Whether you consciously try or not, tiny, seemingly unimportant things will also help you learn a lot of things.


I cannot ascertain it from my experience, but research does suggests that learning a new language keeps the brain more active. Studies show that multilingual subjects fare better in standardised tests than monolingual peers.


Who won't be impressed if you can say 'I'm a rabbit' in 8 different languages? And imagine you go to some other part of the world, and you can speak a few words of the native tongue. Trust me, the locals will gaze you with the same admiration like people view Hillary Clinton when standing next to Donald Trump!


Learning a new language boosts your confidence enormously. It helps dispel your doubts and fears very effectively and you discover a new zeal when you are communicating with other people. Add to it, the constant encouragement and motivation which you will get from people speaking different languages, for speaking different languages, and you will have an endless dose of 'felix felicis' (Harry Potter reference; a potion called 'liquid luck') with you.


Learning a new language will suddenly open unexpected doors for you, at least in terms of perspective. The same thing which you thought was the only explanation all your life, a new language might just change it at one go. If you cannot relate to what I am talking about, I will give you an example from my own experience. Being brought up an Assamese, I need fish to survive. If someone would have just told me that Gujaratis are vegetarians, I would consider them unfortunate and unreasonable. But getting soaked in their culture and being a part of them (language played an important role here), I understood their take on it and suddenly I broadened my view of the world, albeit in a small way.


If none of the above reasons have awakened an interest in you, let me tell you, you increase your chances of getting employed manifold if you are bilingual, or even better, multilingual. In the current globalised world, the companies are constantly expanding overseas and dealing with clients all over the world. So not a bad idea to engage yourself in learning a bit of an alternative language.


Even if none of the above reasons were valid, I would still opt to learn a new language simply because it is so much fun. There are so many ways to learn a new language. We are well within our rights to go creative and crazy in the process of learning it. It requires making mistakes like a baby does when he/she learns the mother tongue, and it only helps cheer you up everytime you fail in the process of saying 'Au revoir et bonne nuit'

Thursday 10 March 2016

What the ATP top 10 might be in 5 years

The way the 'Big 3' has dominated the world of tennis in the last 13 years or so, it is very difficult to imagine men's tennis without them. Digest this for a fact; 42 of the last 51 grand slams (starting Wimbledon 2003) have been won by either Roger Federer (17 slams), Rafael Nadal (14 slams) or Novak Djokovic (11 slams). Only 6 active players in the field are former (or reigning) grand slam champions, namely, the 'Big 3', Stanislas Wawrinka (2 slams), Andy Murray (2 slams) and Marin Cilic (1 slam).

But we all know that the fairy tale run of these champions will have to end someday. Federer (34) and Wawrinka (31) are already in their 30's, and Nadal (29) is just a few months shy. The reign of the current no. 1, Novak Djokovic (28) will probably last a few years, but even he is edging ever closer to the dreaded 30's. Andy Murray (28) and Marin Cilic (27) haven't made threatening runs in grand slams recently, and they aren't exactly young (in tennis terms) either.

The 'Big 3' have dominated men's tennis for about 13 years now.
The question is who will take their legacy forward

Nobody has burst onto the scene like the way Rafael Nadal did in 2005 when he was just 17. Neither has anyone looked good enough to emulate the rise of Novak Djokovic over the past decade... yet.

Some of the youngsters have shown flashes of brilliance or the talent, to seriously be considered as contenders of grand slams in the coming years. Judging by whatever little I have seen of the new crop, here is a list, envisioning the top 10 players in the world after 4-5 years.


Just over 22 years old, Dominic Thiem is the youngest player in the top 20. The Austrian looks poised to challenge the big guns in the coming years with his great defensive skills from the baseline, quick court movement, and an enviable single-handed backhand, which he uses to exploit both sides of the court.


The 18 year old German is the youngest player in the top 100 (ranked 58), but he already looks like he belongs among the big boys. He has a decent serve to trouble his opponents, plays aggressively off both wings, and is one of the two only two players in this list who shows a bit of eagerness to come to the net. Remember, Novak spent a lot of 2013 and 2014 trying to improve his net game, which reaped him a lot of benefits in 2015.


The 25 year old Milos Raonic has been impressive this year, after injury hampered most of his 2015. His potent serve and rocket like forehand is now ably supported by his ever improving court movement and decent net game. He looks like a player who is here to stay for a long time.


Kei Nishikori at 26 years of age, is the oldest player in the list, and also the shortest. The Japanese has had decent success in the past few years, but I think his best is yet to come. He has one of the best backhands on tour, he is very quick off the blocks, and plays very good counter attacking tennis.


One of the best shotmakers on tour, Kyrgios at 19 has already made his presence felt by beating some of the best. The Australian has a good serve, can play aggressively from the forehand as well as the backhand, and is a clean striker of the ball. If he can develop a good temperament, Nick has the ability to dominate anybody on tour.


Jiri Vesely is 22 years old from the Czech Republic, and people have already labeled him as a future star. The only lefty in the list, Vesely has a more than handy serve and is a good striker off both wings.


The 23 year old Australian has been in the scene for a few years. He had a decent 2015, and will be looking to use that as a launchpad to get some significant results in the next few years. 
Even though he has the ability to dominate from the baseline, the world no. 20's game is really pleasing to the eye, and his shots look effortless.


Another 19 year old Australian, Kokkinakis is also a talented young player, who can crack decent shots off both sides, and prefers playing from the baseline. In addition to this, he also possesses a decent serve.


This time it is a 19 year old Croat who looks likely to break into the top 10 a few years later.
He seems like he is on the right path to achieve a lot of success with his stable, uncomplicated baseline game, and a seemingly positive attitude.

10.  (1) HYEON CHUNG

I have 2 contenders for this spot, as I do not know who to leave out. I am a little more inclined towards this 19 year old South Korean, who is a talent sure to make ripples in the tennis world in a few years. His game is a bit like Tomic's, looks effortless and pleasing, but he does have an aggressive mindset, which is a good sign for any youngster.


The 2015 junior US Open champion, Taylor Fritz, is just 18 years old, but he looks set to make a huge impact in men's tennis. He has a very good serve and a rocket forehand. The only reason I have a tiny bit of skepticism regarding this fellow is because he reminds me of the way Jerzy Janowicz played in the 2012-13, and then quickly faded away into oblivion. If he nurtures his talent properly, very few might be able to stop him from being a serious threat to slams in the coming years.

If you feel there can be a few more additions to the list, or anything else regarding the article you liked/disliked, f
eel free to express your opinion. Criticism or advice always paves way for improvement.