What are you watching these days? These are the movies I watched recently

A good movie helps you break the monotony. Movies can be one of the good weapons to fight this depressing time. With so much time with myself during the lockdown, I have been watching a lot of movies. Here are some of the good movies that I watched.

 Green Book (2018)

This is a story about a black musician in the days when the blacks had a hard time in the USA. He has to travel across the country for various concerts for which he hires a white Italian guy. The movie is about the chemistry between these two and how they become friends over the whole journey. Vey simple and humble movie.

The Gentlemen (2019)

This is a typical Guy Ritchie movie – fast paced, stylish, fascinating characters. The movie has a perfect combination of crime and comedy and with such a good caste you will be guaranteed a lot of entertainment. More than everything else, the movie has been written in a unique style – it’s more of a storytelling, which you will surely love. And it is really really funny.

Marriage Story (2019)

Man, this is such a difficult watch. This one is story about a couple with a kid going through the horrible pains of divorce. They had a very great relationship but there were some differences which leads to a disintegration. The movie is difficult to watch because you see both the sides, you see how great their relationship used to be and how miserable the divorce process is. Adam Driver is one hell of an actor, very underrated, but I do not think he is anymore underrated. He has some other great movies in his name – Paterson, BlacKkKlansman etc. Well, I did not mention Star Wars because I think they grossly undermined the gem of an actor he is.

Richard Jewell (2019)

Clint Eastwood’s movies are generally great watch, so is this one. This one is a story of a security guard Richard Jewell who discovers a suspicious backpack under a bench in Centennial Park in the USA. He is hailed as a hero who saved many lives, but later the FBI names him the prime suspect in the bombing. It is really scary to such thing happening to a great saviour and how media and the authorities devastated his life. The lead actor is fabulous in the movie and so is Sam Rockwell.

COVID19: My Yoga classes have resumed and its such a relief

In India, the lockdown has been extended by 3 weeks more. It had to be, it was not a surprise to most of the people. Hopefully, it will help the country contain the number of infections and let us buy more time to strengthen the medical facilities. Extended lockdown means we need to be more careful of our well-being. We have to be more careful of what we eat, how healthy the lifestyle we are following and how much mentally prepared we are. If we are mentally healthy and calm, we can easily cope up with the difficulties we may face during the lockdown.

Towards the last days of lockdown phase-I, I was getting a lot anxious and very irritated. The daily household activities – preparing meals, cleaning the dishes, cleaning the floors etc was slowly getting on my nerves. I had settled my routine but one thing which was missing was regular Yoga and meditation. I am used to of going to a studio and attending Yoga sessions. I find myself more comfortable doing it that way. I find it difficult to do it myself watching some video online etc. The studios are closed for now and it’s been nearly 2 months I am away from yoga and meditation. Last weekend, I talked to one of the trainers to do a live session for me and thankfully she agreed. The sessions started this Monday, morning 7-8 am, and it’s the fourth day today. We are using Zoom app for it. The initial couple of days were kind of difficult as I was out of yoga and the flexibility was nearly gone but I thinks it’s getting back. Today’s session was really relaxing.

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Yoga has helped me a lot through my bad times. It really is a powerful tool which if done regularly, can really do wonders. I have witnessed it myself. I will try to discuss this whole thing in some other post. But for now, I will tell you that the best thing it does is settle your lifestyle. It gives a person very disciplined approach to life. For example – since I started the online classes, I have been sleeping on time, getting up early in the morning, doing yoga, having breakfast on time. There is less distraction now and I am more relaxed – both mentally and physically. I am having my meals on time, I am taking care of my body and my mind. Overall, it also adds up to your productivity. This is what yoga does to you – in very simple words. It helps you lead a very balanced life which if you carry for a long time has to benefit you no matter what. I certainly recommend everyone to try out yoga and see the changes yourself. Yoga will really help you sail easily through these bad times and some tough times ahead.

COVID19: How to be mentally strong during the lockdown

We humans are not programmed to stay inside for very long. Staying at home for long can be very very unsettling and with the given situation outside, it only makes it worse. Everyone you know is locked down. You cannot visit the market, cannot hangout with friends, cannot go outside for a run, cannot got out for lunch/dinner at your favourite joint. You are getting bad news from all around the world which worries you even more. There is a need to keep ourselves very calm and composed amidst these unwarranted sequence of events. I am too getting anxious about the whole situation sometime but I know I am strong enough to fight it. We have to be mentally strong for ourself, for our loved ones and for the good times to come. There are some ways in which we can try to prepare ourself and fight the traumatic situation.

1. Make some routine and be more disciplined.

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A disciplined routine is the best thing you can do to help yourself. If you are spending your time in an unmanaged way, it will make you bored, leave you less productive and add to anxiety. With a more disciplined approach you will have enough time with yourself to be relaxed. You will have a less burdened lifestyle. Try to fix a time – for waking up in the morning, having your meals, your exercises – essentially all the things which you are doing on a daily basis. Once these timings are in place and have been followed for few days you will realise how relaxed the daily life has become.

2. Exercise Regularly.

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Exercising is a great stress buster be it in any form. You can try some yoga, pushups, aerobics etc, anything can be really helpful . Now is a good time to add regular exercising in your routine. It will give a boost to the mental health and boost your confidence. Meditation and breathing exercises can destress a lot, so one must try them out. There are many online classes these days which I think can be really helpful.

3. Talk to your family, relatives and friends.

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Last night I called 3 friends from my school on WhatsApp(video). We talked after a long long time and it was so fun. Remembering the things we used to do in the school brought back a lot of good memories. It felt so good. It’s a good time to connect to people and share the feelings and show love to them. It can really cheer you up. Browse your contact list and give a call to someone randomly. Simple!

4. Music, movies, games and TV shows.

One of the biggest stress buster for me. I spend a lot of time listening to songs, exploring new genres and artist and believe me if you are a music person it surely makes you happy if you have found a handful of new decent songs.

There is a lot to watch on TV as well. Netflix is reporting a spike in usage time by users. There are a lot of good shows on Netflix. I recently finished Money Heist(Season-4), did not like it much but that’s okay. There are many shows you must watch – Kingdom(Zombie), Altered Carbon, Marriane(Horror), Dark(SciFi) to name a few. I am watching new movies regularly as it keeps me really distracted.

I play PubG regularly. Little PubG break in the day and after dinner relieves me a lot. It’s good that they have set a limit of 3 hours, which I have never hit though. You can try some games these days.

5. Engage yourself in doing random things.

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How does your room setup look like? Do you think it would look better if you shift the bed to other corner? Well, try that out and see. Who does not like such changes. It surely gives a nice feeling. How about a dinner date setup? You can enjoy that as well. It’s a good time to engage in bit of gardening. Writing and reading can also help you relax. I am posting more often on my blog and I keep on exploring some blogs to read – it really helps me kill some time. Cooking can be a great thing to do these days. For me it’s a new thing so I am enjoying it a lot. A self-cooked meal can really make you happy even if it not very delicious.

I am trying to make a routine with all the activities I do with a time attached to it. I will try to share it on the blog. Meanwhile, the above mentioned things are really helping me a lot to kill my stress. If you guys have some other cool ideas, please let me know.

COVID19 Realisations – Cooking is fun but can someone do the dishes or chop the vegetables, please?

15th day into lockdown and I have realised cooking is fun and I am liking the kitchen more these days. But there are a lot of things that you need to take care of, which kills the fun somehow and makes it really difficult specially if you are not into habit of cooking. I had never spent a lot of time in the kitchen so this whole experience is a mixed ride – from fun to irritation to fun again, then to a point where I say chuck it I will grab some readymade stuff. I have spent more time in the kitchen in these 15 days than I had ever spent in my whole life. Cooking a good meal is an art and you have to spend a good amount of time to prepare a delicious meal. I never had that much time with me to try cooking.

I will briefly tell you my background. I stayed with my parents for the initial 16 years of my life. For the next 6-7 year I had to move out for higher studies. Then, I got my job in Gurgaon and have been staying here for last 9 years. I was never bothered about the food. There were tiffin services, cooks at different point of time so I never had to learn cooking. I have always a craving of eating good food but sadly I have mostly compromised on that. And now that I have to manage 3 meals a day, for last 15 days, it seems like I am spending the whole time in the kitchen. Cooking is really fun. For people who start learning, they can actually see the transition from shit to a very tasty food and that makes one so happy. But the whole arrangement of things, cleaning the dishes, cleaning the whole mess the new star chef has created make everything very tough. I think most of the newbies would agree on this. Cooking would really be fun when you have someone to help with your mess. Can someone do the dishes or chop the vegetables, please?

Black and White Remote Control on Table

Add to it the work from home scenario. Those update calls can really screw up the whole routine. You have to get your breakfast ready before the first morning call. Thankfully, the breakfast is easiest of the three meals. It does not take a lot of time and gives you a good start of the day. Then, there is a call around lunch time, mostly after the lunch. Lunch is really hectic. It takes nearly 1 hour to prepare my lunch – including the dishes, chopping, cooking and then some cleaning again. I finish eating my lunch mostly by 2-2:30pm in the afternoon and by this time I am very exhausted. The evening snacks is around 5.30pm. I like cooking dinner and I have been focusing more on having a delicious dinner everyday. To me cooking lunch sucks. Cooking lunch is such a drag for me and I just do it because it challenges my survival, but cooking dinner is really fun and I never complain about it. I really put my heart in it.

I got to try a lot of things in the kitchen in these 15 days. I have cooked a lot of things – half cooked rice to burnt rice to super oily and super spicy curry to very bland and tasteless curry. Slowly, I perfected few things, got some good idea about the measures and quantities which make me feel good now. I am sure many people around the world would be struggling in the kitchen. The fight for survival teaches you a lot of things and hopefully makes you stronger and wiser. Cooking is not really tough as I always assumed but it does demand you to pour your heart in and it asks for some patience as well. After all, nothing leaves you happier than having a self-cooked delicious meal.

COVID19 Realisations – Domestic Helpers are such a luxury

We are under a 21 days lockdown in India. This essentially means if you are a sane person you would not move out of your house unless there is an utter emergency. A 21 days lockdown can teach you a lot of things. One of the things is how much of luxury are the domestic helps and how much dependency do they have in our lives. In India we can hire them for a very very affordable price. They help you with literally everything – dishes, cooking, laundry, cleaning the house, helping in the garden etc. You can go beyond that also – there is no limit. A domestic help who can do these things can be hired in a range of Rs 10,000 (about $150). And now I realise that it is nothing.

The maids usually visit in the morning, wrap things up in less than couple of hours. Even before you are having your breakfast, like a genie, your entire mess has been cleared up. You are not bothered at all. You find the kitchen is super fresh, the floors are shining, the clean windows letting in the fresh breeze of air. In the lockdown these domestic helpers are not allowed to move, so we have to take care of all the things. The kitchen does get very dirty, the sink gets flooded with utensils and blocked water, the floor looks gloomy with dust, peels of fruits and vegetables coming out of the garbage bin – is what the initial few days’ scene looked like. We are now getting a hang of the household activities and trying to minimise all the clutter we were careless about before.

Slowly, I have come to realise these domestic helpers are nothing sort of angels in our super busy lifestyles. They take all the pains to make your days shiny and nights relaxed. We need to recognise them for their efforts. We have to give them more respect, they deserve a lot of that. Less of that haggling when they ask for money and more of love and care is what they need.

COVID19: Coronavirus is more than a virus.

Well, I have to get in a habit of writing more and more. There is a complete lockdown of 21 days here in India. I have been working from home. Work part is not much disturbed. Being a software person, home and office are one and the same. It’s all about the laptop, internet and some music. Work is home and home is work.

There has been a lot of realisations in these lockdown days and there are still 9 more days to go. Even after that one may not be as mobile as they were earlier. This virus has killed everything – social life, personal life, economy, travels, weddings, celebrations. The world is not the same, at least for next few months. People are caged in their houses, streets deserted, malls closed, public transportation halted, no more morning walks in the parks, not hanging out with friends. The world has come to a still, and the places which are not are paying heavily for the carelessness.

There are so many challenges for a person under lockdown the first being he has never been programmed to be this situation. And that is why it is more haunting. Well, couple of initial days were not so bad, to be honest, but 21 days is really hard and one has to slowly and gradually make him stronger for that.

बाहर डर का माहौल है । There is a sense of fear when you step outside. A crowd in a grocery store is a big alarm. The coughing person on the cash counter at the grocery store is a big alarm. They are really a lot exposed as they have to deal with so many different people daily. It’s scary sometime to go to the grocery store. Till this virus takes a little breather we really do not have any option at hand. Nevertheless, life has to go on and it goes on irrespective of all the uncertainties. Hopefully we will come out as a winner from this pandemic.

I intend to write a lot more and I hope that will help me kill some time. Take care you guys, stay safe and sound.

Is Uber useful anymore?

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There used to be a time when using Uber was cheap. There used to be promotions and discounts and life was very easy. But now Uber has become really expensive. So expensive, that it hurts when you add up the total expense. The pool sharing has become very tedious as well, as it takes a lot of time for even a very small distance. Surges are now very common. Here in Gurgaon, whenever it rains there is a traffic disturbance and the Uber prices go very high. The surges are very common during festivals as well. I have paid as much as three times the normal during the festivals. These surges are very common in mornings as well. All of these factors add a lot of unnecessary dependencies. Either you have to wait for the surge to go down or adjust yourself according to the situation. I am so fearful of the rains these days that whenever the sky is dark, I book an uber immediately and leave everything behind to get to my home, else an easy wait time of a couple of hours for things to be normal – the rain and the surge.

There are many other problems as well. The drivers sometimes create a lot of nonsense. The whole followup and guiding them to lead to the pickup point is so cumbersome. They sometimes do not follow the exact directions and blame their GPS is not working or something else. Some are very finicky about the wait time. They won’t listen at all. Some do not follow the trip directions very well and some follow it so strictly that they do not take any suggestions. Then there are behavioral problems with drivers as well. Last week my friend dropped his phone on a ride and when he asked the driver to return it, he said that he had driven very far off and it was impossible to return it. There were many follow-ups but the driver never agreed to come anywhere near my friend’s location.  One of my colleagues lost his traveling bag the same way. Sometimes it is really hard settling an overcharge. There is no proper customer support to listen to your queries. You raise a concern and if those people are not satisfied with your reasons they will not settle the amount. I, very often, come across this issue. Uber is least concerned about these things, I guess.

All of these things are making the experience little too difficult to consider Uber an option. I feel helpless. I do not own a vehicle. Options are limited. So, I am totally dependent on Uber. That is what Uber always wanted you to be. So dependent and helpless, that you can not do anything. I used to think Uber was always a better option than owning a car and adding to already such a messy and massive traffic. But the burn it is leaving behind in my pockets is totally refuting my concepts. A few months back, it seemed I was saving a lot with Uber. But the base price has gone up a lot and there is hardly any saving. I spent Rs. 2500 in the week ending 26th Aug and that is quite a lot. I think I will have to think of an alternative. Maybe I need to buy a car.

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Spend during 20-26th Aug