Category Archives: books


“In Istanbul it’s the “vvvvoooooot” – sirens of the boats, the “chck” from the chimney, waves of the Bosphorus hitting the quays along with the seagulls and old-fashioned little boats – “putu putu putu” kind of thing.

These are the things that immediately, if I close my eyes and you give it to me in another corner of the world, make Istanbul suddenly appear in my mind’s eye.”

– Orhan Pamuk’s Istanbul


exuberance abound:

these days, i’m drawn to create rather than write. it’s just this exuberance, this momentum, that comes from living for a cause. i know how important it is for me to believe in something outside of myself. and while this is all well for my disposition, it does nothing for my writing which thrives on misery.

in this trying period of exhilaration, i can’t help imagining how glorious it would be to live life on this constant high and though i think i might know the method to achieve this, do i dare? oh what am i talking about. of course i dare, it’s just – i don’t know how and i take far too long to recover from failure. i’m kind of lost here – like the geek who pored over 10 encyclopedias to master the theory of swimming only to find, at the edge of the water, a rush of theoretical concepts that don’t translate to practice. which foot to put in first, where should my arm be, do i bend my head like that, oh take a breath of air. what do i do??? (i can swim, by the way. i’m only hydrophobic. only of vast expanses of water. which means i’m a perfectly competent bathtub swimmer.)

i have 10 encyclopedias worth of fantastic advice and i am stranded in limbo. guess i must stop reading and stop thinking and just go. journey of a thousand miles begins with a single step. and that one step is a hell of a bitch.

oh well. grumpy val will be back. watch this space.

books so far:
tipping point (ok, i know. it’s just i swore off malcolm gladwell with blink, which was my first attempt.)
x beyond good and evil, nietzsche (gave up, too difficult)
x presentation secrets of steve jobs (gave up, too boring)
anthem, ayn rand (really fascinating)
everything is illuminated, jonathan s. foer (WIP)

most important prayer:

Old Man: “It goes like this. Let’s see now: ‘Protect me from knowing what I don’t need to know. Protect me from even knowing that there are things to know that I don’t know. Protect me from knowing that I decided not to know about the things that I decided not to know about. Amen.’ That’s it. It’s what you pray silently inside yourself anyway, so you may as well have it out in the open.”

Arthur Dent: “Hmmm, Well, thank you – ”

Old Man: “There’s another prayer that goes with it that’s very important, so you’d better jot this down, too.”

Arthur Dent: “OK.”

Old Man: “It goes, ‘Lord, lord, lord…’ It’s best to put that bit in, just in case. You can never be too sure. ‘Lord, lord, lord. Protect me from the consequences of the above prayer. Amen…’ And that’s it. Most of the trouble people get into in life comes from missing out that last part.”

identity crisis.

Books I’ve finished so far this year:

Unleashing the Ideavirus by Seth Godin
The Power of Six Sigma by Subir Chowdhury
Sati by Christopher Pike
The Great Divorce by CS Lewis
A Grief Observed by CS Lewis

I read really slowly, but cramming in some reading on the train commute every morning has helped tremendously. Especially since all I do after work is watch sitcoms.

Sighs. I miss being in the whole…dynamism of attending lectures, reading papers, writing papers, discussions, rushing for deadlines, crazy project meetings etc. I feel mediocre and uneducated. There’s just this raw glamour about being an “undergrad” as opposed to being a “graduate” and “working”. I hate telling people I’m working! It’s like I’ve never been in school before. I want to say, “I’m working. BUT I’VE GONE TO SCHOOL BEFORE!!!” I’ve resorted to saying, “Just graduated…(mumbles) working now.” But I con’t continue saying that, like, 5 years down the road. Help! My time is running out! And I’m holding on to an identity that’s slipping from my grasp. I don’t know who to be anymore!

When I tell people I’m 24 this year, I wanna add that I’m young! I don’t feel any different from a 19 year old college undergrad. Please believe me. Except, it’s true that I’m different because I was really immature at 19. Positively crazy and embarrassing. But I COULD be no different. What if I’m just a more mature (in thoughts!) version of my 19 year old college undergrad self? You know what I mean? 24 year old is just a mistaken tag for me. It connotes things that are completely incongruous with the person I feel I am. And it’s not fair. There are people who always wanted to be done with school. I never wanted to be working. I loved being a student!

Of course, I know this is all futile and childish. But I guess I just have a lot of identity negotiation and finding myself to do before I learn to age gracefully.

And I think this sudden outburst might have something to do with the fact that I’m beginning to claim more ownership of my job. In the past weeks, I’ve been coming to terms with the fact that this job is real. I’m REALLY working; it’s not some internship or vacation job. I know I have a problem with attention. My eyes never stop darting around, looking for the next thing I could be doing. It’s the way I shop, too. And for the past months, I’ve been looking at my job as a “transition” while I decide what to do with my life. And at some level, that is true. I do have leeway to decide what it is I want to pursue. But I wonder if I’ve been pushing away commitment to my job because I’m afraid to settle into this whole business of working.

Sometimes, I think I really do like advertising. The field fascinates me. But grounding myself into this and really pouring my heart and soul into it would mean that I’m REALLY IN THIS BUSINESS. I think that scares me on a subconscious level. But then, I’d never achieve excellence this way.

So, 24 or not, I resolve to start taking work seriously even if I’m still sorting out personal issues.