Magical Mauritius! Here Are Some Things That May Help You Plan Your Trip

Mauritius Roads - Biking Around

An island country that is probably as big as Mumbai + some surrounding areas, Mauritius is THE Honeymoon destination. So much so that every third couple there might be on Honeymoon. So as it happened, I made a ~10 day trip (Yes, Honeymoon) to Mauritius. Here are some notes & postcards from my travel that may help you.

The Curious Case of Many Temples

Mauritius has a ton of folks whose family shifted base there from India many generations back. So Indian tourists are liked & locals will resonate with you. Many folks in Mauritius make an India trip to shop for weddings and carry back a huge list of stuff ordered by their friends! [Yes I Smell Business Opportunity Too]

Hindu Temple In Mauritius

Indian Temple @ Mauritius

The density of Hindus in Mauritius (while people keep mentioning different figures ranging from 50% to 90%) can be gauged from the no. of temples you see across the country. I kid you not, one temple seen every 10 mins when zipping across the country on a bike. Read More

Commitment To Equality – Pricebaba

Following is an email I sent to the entire Pricebaba team last year. Some of my friends have recently pushed me to share more insights from running Pricebaba all these years. So I would be sharing a few notes that I wrote to the Pricebaba team over the years. Please do note that this was written back in time and often impromptu emails sent out without much editing or at times much thought. I am open to feedback and comments on these :)

From: Annkur P Agarwal <annkur@pricebaba.com>

Date: Mon, Feb 2, 2015 at 7:17 PM
Subject: Commitment to Equality
To: all <all@pricebaba.com>, “community@pricebaba.com” <community@pricebaba.com>

Dear Friends,

Every since I started working in 2002, I have had invaluable learnings from the people whom I met and transacted with. However my learnings in recent years has been far greater than the entire previous decade of work that I saw. A large part of these learnings are as a result of starting PriceBaba. I have had to break many barriers within myself, learn new skills every day and grow myself as an individual & leader. In our Super Saturday sessions and other leadership meetings, I try and share a lot of these learnings with you.

Today I want to share another commitment that I have towards the PriceBaba team and the society as a whole. This commitment is towards equality. So much so that we are adopting Equality as a company value today. In some forms, it has been around in our values as growing each other, but let’s be more explicit about it.

During my US trip with 500 Startups, Read More

Little Things That Make Me Stick To iOS

iphone 6 annkur

Its been a decade since I got a smartphone for myself. Right from the Treo 600/650, XDAs to the Nokia E series, I happened to use all the pre-iPhone era devices. But for a good part of this last decade, I have stuck to the iPhone. So far I have tried twice to move to Android with a lot of conviction. First with the Galaxy Nexus and second time with the Moto X 1st gen (I moved to a 5s from there as hinted here). One of my complaints from Android phones I owned always has been the poor camera, but that can be excused given that I never bought a top of the line Android phone for myself. May be my experience would have been different had I got something more mainstream like the Galaxy S5 / S6 or the Nexus 5x (priced Rs 26-30k – it fits my budget) today.

But the camera issue aside, I have been trying to figure what habits of using an iPhone has me locked down into this iOS world? There are a few small things, moving away from which would mean a bit of a learning curve on Android. Perhaps that’s what makes me fret every time I think of moving to Android.  Read More

Heavy Computer User? Here’s 7 Ways To Fight Repetitive Strain Injury

Originally written in 2007, this article on RSI / CTS by Ankesh Kothari was first written on the site DumbLittleMan. Since the same is no longer on the web, this is being reproduced by me with permission from Ankesh. Video at the end wasn’t part of the original article. 

I first experienced RSI 3 years ago. Because I make my living online and have to sit at the computer 6 hours everyday, I couldn’t just take a long vacation and wait for my body to heal itself. I researched a lot and asked a lot of questions. With trial and error, I found some simple changes that could help decrease the risk of RSI.

What is RSI?

RSI is the dreaded abbreviation that stands for Repetitive Strain Injury. It occurs because of repeated physical movements and affects the nerves, tendons, muscles and other soft tissues. If you sit on your computer regularly, the repetition of thousands of keystrokes and prolonged use of the mouse can cause RSI to you too.

Symptoms of RSI

Most computer users experience tightness, stiffness or soreness of hands, wrists, fingers, forearms and shoulders. Many also experience burning sensations. It’s not life threatening but it’s very discomforting and painful. It can also prevent you from doing your work and enjoying your life.

Scary Fact: 10% of all computer users will suffer from RSI one time or another.

Scary Fact 2: Doctors can’t cure RSI. There is no magic pill that you can take which will make the RSI go away. RSI can only be cured by stopping the repetitive action that caused it in the first place. And even then, it may take weeks. Read More

Fear & Greed

A friend recently made me aware that a lot of our small and big life decisions are driven by fear and/or greed. Here is my attempt to capture how this plays out in real life, moment by moment. I write this post at 2AM on a terrace as another friend (let’s call him Mr X) sitting next to me watches.

I never write a blog post when someone is watching. Fear.

I don’t plan to sleep on the terrace today, because – Mosquitoes? Rain? Fear.

I want to listen to Mr X telling me about yesterday’s revenues. Greed & Fear.

I want to listen to what my colleagues are talking about near the gate. Because – Fear of missing out.

I don’t want to answer questions from Mr X. Because – Fear. Fear of revealing things before time.

Mr X wants to know if I am “high”. Because – Fear. (Because curiosity too ;))

  • PS: He just admitted it

Mr X wants to know if I own this piece of writing. Because? Reminds me if I will fear losing the copyright to it (or It will be revealed to the world before time) if he clicks a photo of it as I am typing this. Fear.

  • PS: He did click a photo.

Mr X wants to play a board game at 2AM in the morning and I am not okay for the same on terrace. Because wind. Because fear of losing the cards. Fear.

Now can you separate all these fears into two parts? Authentic and inauthentic? Mosquito may be a real danger or losing cards to the wind. But large part of what we are driven by is inauthentic. Get Present To It. Acknowledge It. And don’t be driven by it. 

PS: More on greed some other day. 

A Week With The MacBook Pro Retina – Everything I Wanted

Bidding Goodbye To MBP

I got my first laptop in 2010 during a trip to US. Having been a desktop only person and managing my college projects / work from home or cyber cafes until then, I was thrilled to be an owner of the MacBook Pro 13”. Back then my decision to go for the Pro vs the Air was influenced by several Mac lovers. While I really appreciate a light weight machine that the Air would have been, the MBP was a great choice for me lasting almost 5 years. I was a full time writer back then with a lot of video editing and typing being part of my computing. The MBP served more than well all these years. In fact, even today it is fully functional with upgraded RAM (8GB) and an additional 128GB SSD to support the 250GB regular HDD. Safe to say, Apple has a customer for life — at least for laptops.

Last week I treated myself with a new MacBook Pro Retina. Read More

Focused vs Unfocused – The Larry Page Perspective

The Vinod Khosla fireside chat with Google founders is great. My favourite part from the interaction is this:

 

VK Let me go back to Larry. As CEO of Google, a lot of these guys have board members who keep saying, Focus on a few things. Self-driving cars is one. You’ve done some things in health and others. How do you decide what’s focused and what’s unfocused?

LP I’ve been thinking about this change quite a bit over the years. I think it sounds stupid if you have this big company, and you can only do five things. I think it’s also not very good for the employees. Because then, you have 30,000 employees and they’re all doing the same thing, which isn’t very exciting for them. So I think, ideally, the company would scale the number of things it does with the number of people in a linear fashion. As far as I can tell, that never happens. It’s logarithmic with the number of people, if that.

I would always have this debate actually, with Steve Jobs. He’d be like, ‘You guys are doing too much stuff.’ And I’d be like, ‘Yeah that’s true.’ And he was right, in some sense.

But I think the answer to that – which I only came to recently, as we were talking about this stuff – is that if you’re doing things that are highly interrelated, then there is some complexity limits. It’s all going to escalate to the CEO, because you have things that are interrelated. At some point, they have to get integrated. A lot of our Internet stuff is like that. The user experience needs to make sense. It needs to feel like you’re using Google, not that you’re using something else. So I think there is a limit on how much we can do there, and we have to think carefully about it.

Everything about the automated cars is like– Sergey can do that, and I don’t have to talk to him. I like talking to him. But I don’t really have to talk to him about that, because there’s almost zero impact on the rest of our business. Although it does use some great engineers who we have on mapping and other things. Naturally, they move to that project, but that’s a scalable process. I don’t have to talk to those engineers. They just move magically.

So I do think companies usually try to do very adjacent things. They figure, “We’re going to know exactly how to do something that’s very similar to what we already do.” The problem with that is that causes a management burden. Whereas, if you did something a little less related, you can actually handle more things.

Jugaad & Growing Up With Constraints

Silicon Valley

One of the observations that I made during my stay in Silicon Valley was the absence of Jugaad. Jugaad is a relative term, fellow entrepreneurs in US work hard and do well with bootstrapping just like we do. But the reason I say absence of Jugaad is because the magnitude of Jugaad I have grown up with in India is far higher.

From what I saw people in US follow the protocol (be it business, a line at the bus stand or crossing the railway tracks), they pour a lot of effort in small things. This shows when they are designing a product, launching their ventures or even when setting up their homes. We like to push out things in a hurry, not listen to any wisdom that increases the workload and look for safety hooks. It seems as if we are hard wired differently.

The more I think about it, it is so much cultural. Me and a few more of my entrepreneur roommates (during incubation in Silicon Valley) grew up back in India with little or no luxury. Almost all of us started working In our teens and while today we choose to do a startup and talk of passion, let’s be honest – all of us started working for we needed to either support our families, education or at least not be a liability on them.

I remember a couple of us talking about how Friday evening brings such cheer on the streets of Mountain View. People out in big numbers, long lines outside Ice-cream shop on Castro Street (oh and you can’t imagine the clubs) and hardly anyone works over the weekend (even the startup junta). My roomie was mildly upset that he doesn’t think of his existence in India in the same way. Neither of us would really think of going to a club back in India and can hardly think of life from an angle which would say ‘how can this be more fun?’. That’s when it occurred to me that so many of us back in India have only worried about survival. Survival = Luxury here.

Even after being educated basic existence here is tough. Read More

Barometer of Love

The only thing I have learned about love is that saying it means little on its own. The ones I love should feel they are loved and that’s what counts. So I rarely use the word love, but if the ones I really care for feel loved, my words are worth it.

 

The Hard Things Challenge (Entrepreneurs Listen Up) #HardThingsChallenge

Hard Things

I recently read the book ‘The Hard Things About Hard Things‘ and it couldn’t have come at a better time for me. Every little self doubt that I have while building my company and every fear that I can’t express is touched upon in this book by Ben Horowitz. I have always loved reading Ben’s blog and this book just takes it to another level.

So as I gift a copy of this book to my friends in the Startup world, I propose to start a challenge (thanks Subhendu for the idea). After you receive this book as a gift from me under the #HardThingsChallenge, read it in 7 days and gift it forward to someone else. If you fail to do so, you gotta gift 2 copies of the same to fellow entrepreneurs.

To start with Amit (@amit_lakhotia) and Subhendu (@Skipiit) have accepted the challenge – Go Read :)

#HardThingsChallenge