Monday, March 12, 2018

The Hidden Life of Trees

Reading "The Hidden Life of Trees" is an epiphany. Author Peter Wohlleben works wonders with words when he describes how trees in a forest love to live with their own kind, form societies and support each other. I was fascinated to know that old mother trees nurse their young kids and make sure that they grow thick and tall. The wood wide web or network trees form with fungi and other organisms to communicate and develop strategies to fight infections shows how complex a forest system is. 

I appreciate trees around more now after reading this book. I took mental tour of the dense forest he manages while reading the book. Made me remember the book वृक्षगान by Sharadini Dahanukar.
I loved the way Peter explains that given enough space and time, forests are capable of surviving and thriving on their own. Our intervention is not much useful. Societies have to be smart and leave forests to their own. We would be better off even with leaving 5% of the space for our forests. A happy forest fosters happy and healthy community. 

I was impressed that legislators are discussing about "tree rights" in Germany, similar to "animal rights" movement. A sign of development indeed.

I listened to audio version of the book back in October 2017 and was re-reading it on Kindle during our India trip in November. The book helped me rekindle my love for trees and nature. Remembered the weekends spent cutting grass in our plantation @Jala Taru Mitra in Pimple Saudagar. 

While a walk in Kharee Wada at Uccasiam, Palyem spotted a banyan tree resting in paddy fields. The Banyan is next to Vetal Temple and a house. If we allow the tree to grow it can easily take over the about a kilo meter area in the field. Will we allow that to happen? Do we have the resources to let that happen? Will see. Right now enjoy the young tree. Young per Banyan standards of course. 

Friday, February 23, 2018

Hillbilly Elegy

Last year has been quite a ride for immigrants like us in the US. Not a day goes withought immigration mentioned in the news. Immigration seems to the top agenda on the government’s priority list. Pundits accredit the reason for Trumps victory to support in Rust belt. Hillbilly Elegy is “a memoir of family and culture in crisis”. The catch line – “Profound … a great insight into Trump and Brexit” made me pick this book. I expected a political analysis for the plight of millions of poor people in the Rust belt.

To my surprise, I found the elegy an honest tale of a boys struggle to beat the odds and succeed. I had expected rant against globalization, immigration and the government. Instead I read about the struggles of the working class and reasons why it’s so hard for them to pursue the “American Dream”. I remembered Baluta – the autobiography of Daya Pawar, an untouchable. The author’s descriptions of feeling out of place after modest success resonates with Daya Pawar’s sentiments.

Vance is a gifted writer. His has the ability to observe things that matter. Reading the book made me appreciate why it’s important to have emotional and economic stability at home. More than anything having that peace of mind seems to be of utmost importance for kid’s development. I highly recommend reading the book.

Sunday, January 28, 2018


I read Freakonomics in 2007-2008, in Pune. Freakonomics got me interested in economics. I was particularly interested by the bad-ass sociologist Sudhir Venkatesh. Sudhir's book - Gang Leader For A Day: A Rogue Sociologist Takes To The Streets, was the first book I read after coming to US in 2011.

Listening to Freakonomics audio-book made me remember these finer details. Context matters so much while reading a book. Although I liked Freakonomics back home, this time I could relate to it more. All case studies in this book are US specific and things made more sense this time around. 

I would recommend this book. There is only one caveat though. It's one of the pop-science books though, and in order to understand the subject matter we have to spend time with at least 101 on the subject. Economics in this case.

Monday, December 25, 2017

Shree Kalbhairav Mandir Hindale Deogad

Shree Kalbhairav is Kuladaiwat of Marathe's from Hindale. Hindale is a village in Deogad in Sindhudurga district. I visited Kalbhairav for the first time. It was nice to visit with Aai, Baba, Gauri and Bela. I reckon it will be good hike from Khudi - Kot Kamte - Hindale and back to Khudi. Can't wait to do it with Gauri and Bela soon. 

Kalbhairav temple in Hindale. 

Looks like there are not many Kalbhairava temples in India. Reading about it is fascinating. Our temples have rich histories and tell stories we can relate to. Many southern temples display our architectural prowess in the past. I have already added quite a few to my "To visit" list. 

God's palakhi. Like everyone, even the Gods want to take a stroll around. 


Nature's beauty. 

Banyan tree at the front door of the temple. It's good that to get to see large trees like Banyan and Peepal with India's growing population. Looks like it's going to be harder to see 

झांकळुनी जळ गोड काळिमा पसरी लाटांवर 
पाय टाकुनी जळांत बसला असला औदुंबर going forward. 

Konkan is still green, keeping fingers crossed hope that it will be same hot, humid and green for the foreseeable future.

Entries on my grandfather and father from the Kulavrutannt.

The data is old, but guess it's a good starting point. Also girls in the family don't get a separate paragraph, which is not correct. Something to be fixed in the new edition. :). 

Wednesday, November 15, 2017


Want to bench 180 pounds. Right now I can bench 125.

Planning to progress as follows.

130 - Jan
135 - Feb
140 - Mar
145 - Apr
150 - May
155 - Jun
160 - Jul
165 - Aug
170 - Sep
175 - Oct
180 - Nov and
185 - Christmas 2018.

Wish me good luck!

Monday, October 2, 2017


I vividly remember discussing with my father how computers are going to take away job from people. That must be around 2000. Bank employees used to organize in regular strikes protesting introduction of new technology. An organization called Swadeshi Jagran Manch was quite popular. We used to debate why using sub-standard products made in India was a patriotic thing to do. Similarly Narshima Rao and Man Mohan Singh were not popular in India when liberalization was introduced. However as famously said, "No force on earth can stop an idea whose time has come" and nothing could. Economic reforms and information technology created a sizable middle class in India and things improved for the better. 

Reason I remembered this was the recent opposition to proposed bullet train project in Mumbai, and series of protests to nuclear power plants and many new projects over the years. When the developed world is thinking on "how to handle income inequality issues caused by Artificial Intelligence" it's a shame that everything related to progress is being opposed. 

We want more and not fewer nuclear power plants, bullet trains, AI, Mars missions to achieve the dream of a vibrant economy. Because to quote Henry Ford - If I had asked people what they wantedthey would have said faster horses. A capable leader has to show people the new way of doing things. 

10/16/2017 - Why Indian government is still in the transportation business? Shouldn't railways, state owned bus transportation companies etc. be run by corporations? Imagine IT being run by government. What mess it would have been. 

Wednesday, June 28, 2017

Steve Jobs

I have had wanted to read this book for long. I remember a person at our gym being morose and leave immediately after seeing the sad news of Jobs’ demise on TV in October 2011. Steve is a celebrity with many movies and books dedicated to him. He is part of the folklore. Something our grandchildren are going to read about in the annals of computer history. I remember buying three iPhone 4 phones for my friends and colleagues in India in 2012. And back in 2005, was amazed by seeing iPod for the first time. Apple products lure you to use them, and it’s no wonder the creator of the company warrants peoples awe.

Movies tend to be hyperbolic. I had not quite warm feelings towards Steve from the way he was shown on screen, in movies. But books have an advantage of going deeper and trying to have a coherent narrative. That's what Walter Issacson has done in Steve's biography. He has set high bar on how to research a person and do justice.

One thing I loved about Steve’s life is his focus. Focus that would make simplicity possible in all Apple products. That simplicity would have come at a cost. Cost of losing market share on the short term and cost of “displeasing” people who were not aligned to his vision. That needs courage. I can only imagine it doing at the scale of a million dollar company (at that time of course). Now Apple is the most valuable company in the world. No wonder Steve was whimsical most of the times. I think most of this quirkiness about minor things was to make sure that everyone is on their toes and important details are not missed. Something akin to Van Halen and the Brown M&Ms.

He wasn’t perfect. The author has taken care to share this insight and at the same time made us empathize with Steve. Now I think of him a soul who constantly hustles, never settles and takes all of us ahead. That’s a beautiful thing.

A book soon to be added to my collection. I enjoyed reading it.

Note - 8/7/2017 - Updated iPhone 4 I bought 5 years back last Thursday. The phone itself must be about 7 years old now and works perfectly for calls, music, text messages and WhatsApp. This long shelf life speaks a lot about the build quality and thought put in place to deliver a wonderful product. Steve created that thought. That's his legacy.