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The Muse

May 06, 2007

Are you busy?

The other day, I was talking with a friend of mine after a while and she was asking me what I was upto. While talking with her, I realized how much of a slob I had become. I realized how important it us for all of us to keep ourselves occupied and be motivated all the time to keep striving for that something extra.

My psychology classes (yes, I took a couple), taught me that basically, motivation for an individual exists in two forms - intrinsic and extrinsic. As you probably guessed, intrinsic motivation involves striving to achieve something because you want to - the work is in itself the reward. Extrinsic refers to doing something for what you get in return - but externally (your paycheck, recognition, promotion etc)

When people say "I get paid to do what I love", they are referring to the fact that they have a win-win situation, they are both intrinsically and extrinsically motivated to achieve the same goal. When I think back to about a year or so back, I was enrolled in 12 credit hours of PhD coursework, I was doing research, I was writing a journal article, I was working a consulting job and I also used to go work out 3 times a week at the gym. In addition, I would take Sunday off and just not do anything except read something, watch football and/or sleep late. Its obvious to me that I was internally motivated to a really high level as there were almost negligible external rewards - no pay, no promotion, no recognition, nothing. I enjoyed doing whatever I did and I made the time to do all those things.

Now, anyone who tells me that doing all of that is equivalent to a day in the office better be joking. I think the two most overrated words in business today are "time management" and "multi-tasking". They are important, no doubt, but a lot of people abuse those terms and end up being less productive and becoming lazy jackasses. Nowadays, I work and do my PhD work and that's it. The difference now is that I get rewarded more for doing much less. Because my external rewards are so good, I find myself not being as motivated as I was to do a lot of things.

A lot of people express the opinion that they worked their butt off in school, and that they are now enjoying the fruits of that hard work. That's fine, it that's what you want. But I don't think everyone wants to chill out and relax, and take it easy as they start their career and think about family and all of that good stuff. I think that's when a lot of us want to keep ourselves occupied, keep ourselves active and keep ourselves motivated.

Anyway, my intent in this post is to just get you to think - are you really that busy? Can you not take that one hour to go walk the beach? Or go have lunch with that friend who you haven't met in ages? Or take up that one course you always wanted to? Or are you, like me, just too lazy to admit it? Go do something, screw being busy :)

March 02, 2007

Back from exile...

I've been on a self imposed exile for over 5 months now. Its one of those things where you actually have no excuse...just needed a break, needed to take care of some commitments and just unwind. Everyone is busy, and I am not lame enough to use that as an excuse. I've had my share of free time, just been using it to read, listen to music, travel.

Anyways, just wanted to appease those screaming, frustrated fans (all 2 of you). Me back.

Virginia Tech.
What a horrible horrible tragedy. I was a little early into my office and was drinking some coffee and perusing CNN when I saw the breaking news. I tried to dig up some additional information, but everything was sketchy at best. I left for a couple of meetings, then came back and was totally shocked to see the count at 32.
The last few days have seen the news channels here cover the event from every possible angle. What has stayed with me, and what will stay with me for a long time, is the spirit with which students from VT and others around the country have rallied around the families of the victims. I think the problem with occurences such as this is that you have no outlet for your anger. Who do you vent on? The killer - Cho Seung Hui - is dead, and had been diagnosed as mentally ill. His family is suffering as much, if not more, than the families of the victims. Some people in the media were wondering about the grieving that is happening for these 32 victims, and asking why that is not happening for the soldiers and civilians dying in Iraq everyday. I guess the only explanation I have is that a school campus is a sanctuary, not a battlefield like Iraq is today. Its just not right to hear about shootings and killings on a campus, where young minds go seeking knowledge.
The students and professors gunned down were at VT hoping to make an impact in the world in some way. We can all think about them, include their families in our prayers, and hope that their short life is turned into a testament of something beautiful and meaningful in some way.
On a personal note, I've moved into a beautiful - and small - house by the beach in sunny San Diego. I still need to get the house set up, but I'm getting there slowly. My parents are frustrated that I'm living alone and keep advising me to get some roomate till they find me another kind of mate :). Their argument is that having someone else ensures that one way or the other I get to eat and do not sit at home hungry. All you guys living in the US, you know how that works. Other than the obvious advantage of being able to run around the house naked, being alone is kinda nice. Have my space, can set it up anyway I please and have total control of everything. Also helps to have a place on your own if friends or family visit - which I expect to happen pretty regularly.
I've been travelling a bit. Other than being in India in Novemeber to attend my sister's (cousin) wedding, I was again in India over the last 3 weeks on business. Had a great trip, work was good, and also got to spend some time with my folks in Mumbai. My grandpa was visiting, so we had three generations of Vadivelu's in the house. My parents live in a gated community at Grant Road in Mumbai. The place is really nice, and my grandpa goes for regular walks in the garden we have inside. In the morning, he goes to a small but really nice temple within the complex and the 5 days I was there, I accompanied him. Also, after dinner, he is outside for around 30-45 minutes and it was really enjoyable walking with him, talking, getting advice, hearing about his thoughts on so many issues and just basically enjoying being around him. You rock grandpa! Also visiting were my brothers from Chennai. We had our usual arguments every now and then, but I miss them a lot and was happy to be with them. Love you Guru and Amu! Obviously my mom was going all out to ensure that her poor, starving son living alone in the barren US was well fed. I played it up for all it was worth, believe me!
On a sidebar, I've bought a new car - Corolla S. I've named her Sneha (don't ask).
All right people, I'll sign off and will try to be back to my regular self. Hope all of you are doing good at home and at work. Keep the faith.
PS. Special thanks to Srijith, Ponnarasi, Hastobeme and all of you who touched base with me when I dropped off the face of the earth. Very impolite of me, I apologize guys. Life's good with you guys around!

November 14, 2006

Where am I?

In India right now, #9 8 1 9 4 0 2 2 8 9

October 28, 2006

Tag Six

Tagged by Srijith - six weird facts or habits about yourself
(Ok, where do I start? Just six? I need to prioritize then :) )

I am very open in a lot of ways, but in certain things I have strong opinions. And people have said it is very very hard for me to change my views, and I agree. I do not change opinions unless there is hard enough data or information to back it up.

I love books. I think they build character, provide you with the ultimate escapism and are one of the greatest pleasures in life. However, I do not read a book to pass time or to help me fall asleep. When I get my hands on a book I like, I do not put it down till I finish with it. I have lost count of the number of times I have got into bed with a book and completed the book at the expense of my sleep. Sometimes, when I'm in the middle of exams or when I am doing some other work, I take some time off by reading books...obsessive I guess.

Eating Decorum
I simply cannot sit down and eat without being involved in any other activity. I can't just sit quietly somewhere and enjoy the food, concentrate on its flavor and all that stuff. My family keeps scolding me, and rightly so, as it appears rude to be not paying attention to the food or the great care with which it was prepared and so on.
Frequently, I will be doing one of the following while eating any meal:
a) Reading a book
b) Watching TV
c) Having a serious conversation with someone face-face or over the phone.

Freezing People Out
I have this weird, annoying and sometime cruel habit of freezing people out for obscene amounts of time at a stretch. Its not that I don't like them or something, its just that I don't have the tendency of just dropping in one of those obligatory how are you calls or emails. I form friends easily, but I form close friends very slowly. And if I am close with someone, then I tend to think that they are also like me - you don't need to just call up every two weeks to stay in touch etc. If you need to, you should be able to call friends after being out of touch for months and be able to start talking as if you just called up the day before. This annoys a lot of people no end, but that's how I am...

Eating while traveling
I have this insane craving for food whenever I am traveling. It doesn't matter if I've just eaten before getting on a plane or train or if it is 1:00 AM in the morning. Something about being on the move makes my stomach rumble. My absolute favorite thing is to travel on a comfortable clean train with plenty of food, books and music available. I loved traveling on the train when I was younger (traveled often to Varanasi, Kanpur and New Delhi), and I made sure that I got something to eat at every major station along the way.

Open Face
People can see when I am angry, when I am upset or when I disagree by looking at my face. I am simply unable to hide whatever I feel. If I am meeting someone and I disagree with something they say or talk about, it shows up plain and simple on my face. People who are arrogant, people who exhibit a sense of entitlement etc make me angry. Leads to a lot of awkward situations.