Thursday, January 25, 2024

Bhutan - The Land of Happiness - Part 2

Now we continue our journey into picturesque Bhutan, if you haven't already read the Part-1 of this post, I would highly recommend you to do that now before going forward. 

So far we had been mesmerised by the beautiful Dzongs, Clean rivers, Magical mornings and not to forget the Taktsang Trek. Next our journey took us to highest motorable point in Bhutan i.e. the Chele La Pass. 

Its a very scenic place surrounded with mountains in all directions. 

Just like with other places in Bhutan this one has lots of colorful flags all around us. Beautiful breeze constantly keeps blowing here, the scenery is just picture perfect.

Next was Dochula Pass, here you will see a complex of 108 stupas arranged in a circular fashion. 

Notice the small little square in the middle of all Stupas? That has a neatly painted Buddha surrounded by typical Bhutan wood work. It looks very beautiful. 

There is a nice coffee shop near by, this is where I met one of the most adorable Tibetan Mastiff. I instantly fell in love with it.

Next day it was time to visit Phobjikha valley, this is a must visit place, the valley is like an amphitheater of nature. This place is considered as the Switzerland of Bhutan. If you are lucky you can even spot the black necked crane

Near by there is a beautiful monastery called the Lhodrak Kharchu Monastery

Next it was time to visit the Punakha Dzong, a beautiful fairy tale Dzong at the bank of the river. 

The Dzong is magnificent, its huge and its beautiful at the same time. 

Later we visited the Thimphu Palace in the evening. Its is a spectacle to the eyes in the evening when all the lights come up. 

Its surrounded by these beautiful maple trees which looked magical during the evening.

Finally it was time to visit the massive, golden Buddha statue sitting in a meditation pose. Statue is grandiose and peaceful at the same time!

By now it was time to head back home. Bhutan is an amazingly beautiful place, her natural beauty and her people something I will cherish forever! We loved it, totally recommended! 

Sunday, December 31, 2023

Books Of 2023

Reading has become an integral part of my life. I have started feeling compounding benefits of this habit. It has helped me become a better person. My advice to my younger self would be 

Stop giving excuses for not being able to read consistently and make changes necessary to develop this habit without wasting one more moment!

Here is the list of books I read in 2023:

GETTING RICH IS NOT JUST ABOUT LUCK; HAPPINESS IS NOT JUST A TRAIT WE ARE BORN WITH.These aspirations may seem out of reach, but building wealth and being happy are skills we can learn.So what are these skills, and how do we learn them? What are the principles that should guide our efforts? What does progress really look like?Naval Ravikant is an entrepreneur, philosopher, and investor who has captivated the world with his principles for building wealth and creating long-term happiness. 

Assume nothing, question everything. 

Stop going through life,
Start growing through life!

If you’re the average person in the developed world, you spend 70 percent of your waking hours at work. And if you’re the average person, you’re miserable for most of those hours. This is simply not an acceptable state of affairs for your one shot at life. No matter your station, you possess incredible unique powers.

We're building more products today than ever before, but most of them fail—not because we can't complete what we want to build, but because we waste time, money, and effort building the wrong product. What we need is a systematic process for quickly vetting product ideas and raising our odds of success. That's the promise of Running Lean.

A book that distils the greatest mystic lessons for leadership and success, with deep insights for today’s times and for the future. The book highlights the key principles and values of Buddha’s root-level consciousness teachings.

What is that magic quality that makes some people instantly loved and respected? Everyone wants to be their friend (or, if single, their lover). In business, they rise swiftly to the top of the corporate ladder. What is their “Midas touch?”

What it boils down to is a more skillful way of dealing with people.

These days, consumers have real power: they can research companies, compare ratings, and find alternatives with a simple tap. Focusing on customer needs isn't a nice–to–have, it's a strategic imperative.

The Jobs To Be Done Playbook (JTBD) helps organizations turn market insight into action. 

The Six Hats method is a devastatingly simple technique based on the brain's different modes of thinking. The intelligence, experience and information of everyone is harnessed to reach the right conclusions quickly. 

No matter what your product or service, this book will help you reframe how it's presented to the world, in order to meaningfully connect with people who want it. 

The Messy Middle argues that the real key to success is how you navigate the ups and downs after initial investment is secured. It will give you all the insights you need to build and optimise your team, improve your product and develop your own capacity to lead.

Don't simply show your data - tell a story with it!

Storytelling with Data teaches you the fundamentals of data visualization and how to communicate effectively with data. 

The Japanese phenomenon that teaches us the simple yet profound lessons required to liberate our real selves and find lasting happiness. 

The Courage to Be Disliked shows you how to unlock the power within yourself to become your best and truest self, change your future and find lasting happiness.

What makes us brilliant? What makes us deadly? What makes us Sapiens?

Earth is 4.5 billion years old. In just a fraction of that time, one species among countless others has conquered it: us.

Yuval Noah Harari challenges everything we know about being human. 

How can we protect ourselves from nuclear war, ecological cataclysms and technological disruptions? What can we do about the epidemic of fake news or the threat of terrorism? What should we teach our children?

Yuval Noah Harari takes us on a thrilling journey through today’s most urgent issues. The golden thread running through his exhilarating new book is the challenge of maintaining our collective and individual focus in the face of constant and disorienting change.

Yuval Noah Harari envisions a near future in which we face a new set of challenges. Homo Deus explores the projects, dreams and nightmares that will shape the 21st century and beyond – from overcoming death to creating artificial life.

It asks the fundamental questions: how can we protect this fragile world from our own destructive power? And what does our future hold?

The methods contained within this book are so simple, so instantaneous, and so effective, it’s as if they work by magic. If you implement even one tactic in this book, you’ll see the change in your prospects' demeanor. 

Word of mouth is directly responsible for 19 percent of all purchases, and influences as much as 90 percent. Every human on Earth relies on word of mouth to make buying decisions. Yet even today, fewer than one percent of companies have an actual strategy for generating these crucial customer conversations. Talk Triggers provides that strategy in a compelling, relevant, timely book that can be put into practice immediately, by any business.

Just like dating, your company's growth depends on first impressions. So, if their first date with your product is anything but silky-smooth, you risk losing out to the competition. Add to that a few, unfairly poor reviews and you’ll be more than just stuck.

In this book, you’ll learn the simple 6-step strategy used by giants like Mixpanel, Ubisoft, and Outsystems that will get you more loyal clients in a fraction of the time.

Saturday, November 25, 2023

Bhutan - The Land of Happiness - Part 1

This Diwali we got an opportunity to visit Bhutan - The Land of Happiness. It was high on our bucket list and finally things were falling in place for the visit to materialise. 

Bhutan is a unique country since it gives more importance to Gross National Happiness (GNH) and not to the Gross Domestic Product (GDP). Happiness of her people is really important for Bhutan, you can see a glimpse of this everywhere. From the guides to the hotel staff to the people you mean on the roads, they all seem to be very kind, ready to help and of kind nature!

Another phenomenal thing about Bhutan is how they have preserved their natural beauty to a large extent.  

The moment you enter Bhutan you feel a sense of calmness everywhere, its fresher air, lesser people, lesser vehicles etc just make you feel a lot more peaceful!

The mornings are magical with pristine blue skies and beautiful landscapes. 

Bhutan has a lot of Dzongs. These are kinda fortresses which are now used as government buildings and monasteries. 

Quite often these Dzongs are located at the bank of a river. 

Bhutan was never colonised, this has helped them preserve a tint of buddhist architecture in every single building. 

Bhutan loves flags! No matter where you go you will see a cluster of colourful flags waving boldly in the cool breeze. 

Currently about 71% of land area in Bhutan is covered under forest. And this is not just a number in government books, it can be seen everywhere. The hills are covered with variety of trees, its difficult to find a bare patch of land!

Another glimpse of a magical morning.

We did the Taktsang (or the tiger's nest) monastery trek today. Whenever you google about Bhutan you are bound to see this picture. This monastery is located at the edge of the cliff. 

Its a wonder how they even built something so magnificent at the edge of a mountain!

This is the picture of Taktsang from the base village. Yep, at this point it did fell like too far away!

The trek is about 6 km from the base, the trail is marked and is very clean. It is a beautiful trail going through thick beautiful forest cover.

Like I mentioned earlier, you will find clusters of colourful flags everywhere and the trail is no exception.

The view from the Taktsang is breathtaking. As far as the eye can see in every direction, not a single patch of land remains bare; instead, it is blanketed with trees for miles on end.

Since the trail is relatively easy to walk, we weren't very tired after reaching back to the base. It took us about 7 hrs in total to go and come back. 

So far it had been an splendid experience for us, we were already in love with Bhutan and its green cover. In the next post, I will take you on a journey to its major cities.

Saturday, October 28, 2023

11 insightful quotes from: Six Thinking Hats

Reading 'Six Thinking Hats' written by Edward de Bono can transform the way you approach problem-solving and decision-making. It provides a practical framework that enhances creativity and critical thinking. This book equips you with valuable tools to improve your personal and professional life. 

The book presents a structured approach to thinking that utilises six distinct thinking modes or 'hats' to enhance decision-making and problem-solving. Each hat represents a different perspective, from factual analysis to creative brainstorming, allowing individuals and groups to explore issues from various angles. 

Use this book if you are seeking to boost your thinking skills and make better, more well-rounded decisions. Here are some insightful quotes from the book:

"White is neutral and objective. The white hat is concerned with objective facts and figures"

"The white hat defines the questions that should be asked" 

"Red suggests anger, rage and emotions. The red had gives the emotional view"

"The red hat is always applied to a specific idea or situation. The thinker is not permitted to change the idea."

"Black is sombre and serious. The black hat is cautious and careful. It points out the weakness in an idea"

"Critical thinking and black hat thinking are concerned directly with seeing how well a suggestion fits with what we already know."

"Yellow is sunny and positive. The yellow hat is optimistic and covers hope and positive thinking." 

"Positive thinking has to be mixture of curiosity, pleasure, greed and the desire to 'make things happen'"

"Optimism should lead to some action in the chosen direction."

"Green is grass, vegetation and abundant, fertile growth. The green hat indicates creativity and new ideas."

"The blue hat is concerned with control, the organisation of thinking process and the use of other hats"

Friday, September 29, 2023

16 insightful quotes from: This Is Marketing

This Is Marketing is a transformative book written by Seth Godin. It has since become a seminal work in the field of marketing and business strategy. Godin challenges conventional marketing wisdom by advocating for a shift from the traditional, interruptive advertising model to a more empathetic and human-centered approach.

In this book, he explores the idea that effective marketing is not about pushing products or services onto consumers but about creating meaningful connections and solving real problems for people. With its thought-provoking insights and actionable advice, the book serves as a guiding light for marketers and entrepreneurs seeking to build authentic, long-lasting relationships with their audiences in today's ever-changing digital landscape

Here are some insightful quotes from the book:

Saturday, August 26, 2023

Uttrakhand - Deoriatal Chandrashila Trek - Part 3

This is the final post that describes our trip to the Uttrakhand. If you haven't read the previous two posts already I would highly recommend doing that here and here

From Rishikesh we were to go to Sari basecamp from where we had to start our 4 day Deoriatal Chandrashila Trek. We were taken in a small tempo traveller from Rishikesh to Sari basecamp. The journey is long and takes about 8-9 hrs. The basecamp was a group of 6 big tents - with 8 bunk beds in each tent.

Do you see the only snow capped mountain in the above image? That is Chandrashila peak and that is where we had to reach in another 4 days via trekking! At this point it felt very very far away.

Evening view of a red cabin + snow capped mountains!

Night view from basecamp with the moon in its full glory is a treat for the eyes. You feel so mesmerised by the view that you just want to keep looking at the sky!

Here is where we met all our trekking buddies as well. We were 26 trekkers (including kids) + 3 guides.

My son was 2nd youngest -10 years old, youngest child was 9 yrs old kid.

We were trekking with IndiaHikes. It is one of the best organisation to trek with. Their values are all geared towards sustainable living and trekking. For e.g. they do not believe in generating trash. You wont find any dustbins near the camp site. Their expectation is that we carry all the waste we generate back with us and not leave it at the camp site. This is such an incredibly powerful value to have. 

They take this concept even further, they give all trekkers a small yellow bag, its called the eco bag. This bag is to be tied around our waist (all of us are wearing it if you look closely in the above picture), we are expected to pick up and collect any trash we find on the trail during our trek and put it in the eco bag. IndiaHikes then recycles it or disposes it off correctly. This small gesture helps leave our mountains cleaner and prettier!

Next day we had to start trekking. The path is filled with unprecedented beauty, mountains, jungles, streams, meadows and what not!

On Day 1 we reached the Deoria Taal lake, from here you can see the magnificent Chaukhamba peak (shaped like a crown)

Which we actually could not see because the weather wasn't clear enough. But we were rewarded during the night when the sky cleaned up and we were able to see the Chaukhamba in all its glory. 

This was the first place where we started sleeping in a sleeping bag. It is a different experience, its quite warm inside and it feels like we are a caterpillar in its cocoon.

Next day, with excitement filled in our veins we started again:

On the path the view and weather changes every few minutes. You are moving in a clearing and then suddenly you are walking in dense forest with rain poring like there is no tomorrow, then suddenly you come to a stream which needs to be crossed and then at some point you look up to see the breathtaking view of the mountains, sky and the sun!

Finally after walking for 8 hrs or so, we reached our camp site - Syalmi. This is a nice little camp site with 2 people tents neatly pitched. 

Next morning, dosa's were served for breakfast. Those were the best dosa's I have ever tasted! As soon as a new stock would come, they would disappear. People just couldn't stop having them!

This is Me with my full trekking gear - holding my breath for the picture!

Like I mentioned before, many random streams would come on our way and we could just drink water from them - #no-filter-required! 

Final day was the Summit climb, we had to wake up at 0130 in the morning and start at 0300 hrs!  During the night - or early morning depends on how you look at it - it rained heavily, I was thinking we will not be able to start our trek at all. But at 0130 our trek leader called out and asked everyone to get ready - we are going to attempt the summit - The Chandrashila Peak.

Walking through pitch darkness and the calm of the night was a completely out of the world experience. As the first light appeared we were about 3.5 km away from the peak. First time we could see the snow all around us, everything was pure white because of the fresh snow fall the night before. 

We even saw a Himalayan Monal, a beautiful and colorful bird - again pictures do not do justice here.

Finally we managed to reach the Tungnath temple - the worlds highest Shiva Temple. The temple was serene and peaceful place to spend a few moments of solitude. 

This is where Blacky found My son and decided to take a 45 min nap on him.

The last 1KM of the peak was a hike through the snow. So our trek leaders gave us micro spikes to put onto our shoes so that we get extra grip on the snow.

We finally managed to reach the peak - The joy of making it to the peak was something that I cannot describe in words, we even saw people shedding tears of joy. At the summit, you get this feeling that you have managed to do something that you didn't think was possible earlier. It widens your horizon, you feel this immense confidence pulsating through your body - everything feels within reach - or may be its just adrenaline messing with your body - who cares! 

By the time we started descending, the snow had started melting. In fact while climbing up we had seen a stone hut fully covered in snow and while returning it had no traces of snow left!

We reached our campsite at about 1600 hrs, this meant we were trekking for 13 hrs! After having a quick lunch we were taken to Sari basecamp in a tempo traveller and this is where our trek concluded. From Sari basecamp when we looked up towards Chandrashila, it was truly hard to believe that just a few hrs a go we were at the peak of that beautiful snow covered mountain!

Overall our trek was a huge huge success, thanks to the IndiaHikes team for taking care of us all through out the trek. Special mention of our trek leaders and guides, Vijay, Amit and Sayantan who never left us alone and kept encouraging us to keep moving forward!

Would I recommend Trekking to anyone? 110% YES without missing a beat. As IndiaHikes says it, "Everyone must trek"!
Have some Fun!