Categories
General Personal WordPress

Joining Automattic’s Worldwide WordPress 5K Run 2015

I am in a marathon, not a sprint, and no matter how far away the goal is, the only way to get there is by putting one foot in front of another every day.

    – The Automattic Creed

Being part of a marathon was always an attempted item in my bucket list. However, tight schedules prevented me from participating in any. Every year, there’d be four or five 10K’s or 20K’s at Trivandrum, Kochi, Bangalore or Mumbai. Each time the announcement came out in the press, I’d make a mental note to start training, only to conveniently forget about it later on. It didn’t exactly help that I was steadily gaining kilos (as well as continuous deposits of flab and inertia) over time.

However, Automattic’s Worldwide WordPress 5k Run 2015 (WWWP5K), was an event that excited me like no marathon ever could!
For me, WordPress is not just a semantic publishing platform – it’s a way of life. It’s an overwhelming passion, and the philosophy behind the content management system, as well as my love for Open Source software makes it my driving force. I owe most of my technical knowledge (as well as a bulk of my savings) to the content management system and the robust community that powers it. Btw, harishanker.net is proudly powered by WordPress. 🙂

Needless to say, Automattic – the company that runs the hosted version of WordPress at WordPress.com (Where this blog was hosted quite a while back), is one of my favourite companies in the world. Oh, I also happen to be one of the biggest Matt Mullenweg fans, alive. 😉

WWWP5k had its ‘official’ inception on September 29, 2013, when a bunch of Automatticians (home-grown fitness freaks themselves) decided to do something tangible to stay healthy, and invited other WordPress lovers across the world to join them. Yeah, the event was a runaway success.

So, this edition of WWWP5k kick-starts tomorrow (26th October 2015) till Sunday (November 1st 2015). If you’re interested, you can take part in the event between these days. The requirement? You should be a blogger using the WordPress platform (Not yet on WordPress? Create a WordPress.com blog for free!!)!

So, wherever you are in the world, if you’re free over the next week – do a 5k run! Feel free to use a smartphone/pedometer to measure your distance and check your route.  You can also do the run indoors in the comfort of your home, with your very own treadmill. Blog about your run, and share your selfies too (with the tag ‘WWWP5k‘ on your WordPress.com blog, or a linkback to this page [link: https://en.blog.wordpress.com/2015/10/23/wwwp5k-2015/ ] if you’re self-hosted).

As for me, I’m all set – my Nike running shoes are dusted, my route is set (the track around my apartment). Gonna take the run tomorrow (26th October 2015) at 5 AM IST. Wish me luck! (And join me too!)
Update:

I successfully took the marathon! 🙂 Detailed blog post coming soon:

Categories
Life Personal Thoughts Viewpoint

8 Things 2013 Taught Me

By all means, 2013 was a roller-coaster of a year; so much to the extent that I’d like to borrow an oft-abused cliche to describe the year – ‘life changing’.

Yes, 2013 changed the course of my life.

And what a year it was! From exhilarating highs to excruciating lows, from dizzying successes to debilitating failures – my life kept zig-zagging through a trajectory of the most unpredictable occurrences. Today, as I look back at the year that has sped by, I realize that I have changed. I’m not sure whether it’s for the better or worse, but the life-lessons I’ve learned over this year have been amazing. Things suddenly make more sense than they used to, and I’m sure these vital life lessons would go a long way in helping me live my life in a better way. I’d like to share some of them with my dear readers. 🙂

Life – As you know it

Here’s a list of 8 things that 2013 taught me:

  1. Stay Detached – I know, detachment is easier said than done. But, trust me, staying detached will solve a lion’s share of your problems. And by detachment – I certainly do not endorse living life in your own little shell (we’re all social animals for God’s sake!) Complete detachment practically impossible too  for lesser mortals like us. That said, we can definitely curb our desires. Give that overpriced, fancy new phone you’ve always craved for a miss. You’ll slowly notice your life changing for the better. Speaking from experience.
  2. Find time to do what you love – Thanks to economic pressures, we all end up doing day jobs we hate. We don’t have other options, many among us need to code our way to glory to earn our daily bread! It’s necessary evil. Yet, we all get our share of spare time – which, sadly, we end up whiling away doing the most unproductive of tasks. I hope I don’t sound like a management guru when I say this – but, try finding time to do what you love. Even if it’s for thirty minutes a day. If you’re a bibliophile, grab that John Greene book, if you’re into arts and crafts, start making seasons-greetings cards for your loved ones, in your spare time. These little joys of life have helped me survive the most traumatic of experiences all through this year. I’m sure it’ll work out well for you too 🙂
  3.  BE Selfish! – Okay, I know some of you guys are gonna beat me up for saying this – but trust me, you HAVE to be selfish to survive in these cut-throat times! For a person who virtually ruined his life trying to do good for his loved ones, this nugget came as quite a revelation! No, I’m not asking you to step on others shoulders and put them down so that you could climb up. Just realize this fact – at the end of the day your life is YOURS ALONE  – so is your happiness and your problems. So the next time you make that sacrifice for that friend, just think twice: Is what you’re about to do worth it?
  4. NEVER Stay Idle – How often have you been in debilitating situations, all your life? Situations which pull you down to your worst… As they say, “when life gives you lemons, make lemonade from it!”. Never ever let your depression leave you paranoid. The idle mind is, and will forever be the devil’s workshop! So whenever you’re down, or whenever you’re idle with nothing to do – find something to engage yourself. Preferably indulge in tasks that excite you. 🙂
  5. Never Take Anyone for Granted –  Oh, so you have that super-awesome buddy who has been with you through thick and thin. You consult him/her for your life decisions and you pretty much tell everyone that he/she will be with you till you dying day, right? Well, brace yourself – it’s easier said than done. This, my friend, is the age of unpredictability. People change, and before you know it, your ‘best friend’ will leave you for reasons that could be downright silly! Of course, all your love and care, all the sacrifices you’ve done for them will vaporize instantly. Be prepared for that loss – it might come any day. Practicing detachment will help ease your pain too.
  6. Brace yourself… The Sky is about to fall! – Yes, you read it right, my friend. With the randomness of life destroying all existing rules of probability, you’ll have no idea what’s about to happen to you in the days to come. Life has a habit of surprising you ever day. The surprise may be for good or bad – if it’s good, you rejoice. But what if it is bad? What if it destroys your life, as you know it? Always be prepared for the worse – you never know when your world comes crashing down. Quoting my dad: “Expect the best and prepare for the worst.” 🙂
  7. “Love your job… But NEVER fall in love with your company!”  Thus spake one of the front runners of the Indian IT Revolution.  Even whenone of the most-renowned CEO’s vouched for this axiom – I always rebutted this… only until I realized the bitter truth. If you’re employed, you are just a RESOURCE for your company. (In fact 99% of the IT companies publicly refer to their employees as resources). And like all resources, once you’re depleted, you must be set aside (read: kicked out!). Just make sure you do your job without fail and also ensure that you actually have a life outside work. And there’s absolutely no harm in changing jobs for a better package. When you’re nothing but a ‘resource’ for you company, what’s the point in being loyal to it?
  8. There is a better life outside the social network – This was one of my biggest lessons from 2013. Those of you who know me personally know how addicted I was to the whole concept of social networking. True, it did add a lot of brownie points to my resume – from introducing me to the career of freelance journalism to making me a professional social media manager. But at the end of the day, my life began and ended in the internet. I did learn the hard way about the dark side of social networks. That said I haven’t abandoned them; that would be sheer escapism – but I decided to ‘disconnect to connect’. And I must admit – I am happy. 🙂

The Last Ink Drop:

Just a disclaimer for some of my ‘intellectual’ readers – these realizations that I’ve had, these ideas… they’ve been around for a while now. They are not strictly speaking, ‘original’. But they have been discoveries for me personally. I can’t speak for you, but they have changed my life for the better. 🙂 If you feel like implementing any of them in your own life, be my guest. 🙂 I’ll only be too happy that I brought a smile to your life – if it makes you feel better.

And, I know an update here was long due. My apologies to those who still come back here searching for new posts and were left disappointed.  I’m going to be regular from now on. 🙂 Have a few surprises ahead for you guys too. Do keep checking back.

Season’s greetings, folks! Here’s wishing you a great year ahead! 🙂

Categories
daily blunder Fun Narration Personal

Daily Blunder | ‘Brutally’ Honest

I know it’s been over a year and a half (or rather, a year and three quarters) since I wrote a proper ‘daily blunder’. Well, there wasn’t exactly a paucity of blunders in my life to go on a ‘blunder-break’, so to speak. I’ve a database of infinitely-huge blunders that I could well publish a book on it (which is actually in the pipeline as we speak). As you might’ve guessed by noticing the frequency of posts (or sheer lack of it) in this blog, I was on a major writer’s block. It was on the compulsion (read: death threat) of a very close friend, that I chose to come out of my cocoon. Read on, if you still haven’t left this page out of boredom. 😉

If there’s one city in India which I love (second only to my hometown, Trivandrum), it is Kochi. For those who haven’t heard about the city, it is the commercial capital of the state where I reside – Kerala (India). Well, in a narrow minded mallu point-of-view, there’s nothing to like about both Kochi and Trivandrum either, but somehow, I fell in love with the city, which has been my home for the past one month. Oh btw, I got a job in this busiest city of Kerala. It’s been a month since I joined, and I’m all the more thrilled at the prospect of getting paid to use Facebook (yes, you guessed that right, I’m the Social Media Manager. At this small but growing company called NT Global).

Oh, I digress. More on the job on yet another post. 😉

So, this happened about a couple of weeks before I joined NTG. I had come to Kochi on a leisure trip with a friend of mine, Vishnu. Kochi wasn’t a part of our original itinerary. Vishnu was in search of a proper meningitis vaccination, so that his admission to a major US university would be through. We searched every single hospital in each nook and corner of Trivandrum and Kochi for the vaccine, but to no avail. Finally, we zeroed in on the elusive vaccine at a leading hospital in Thrissur. Jobless back then, I too set forth on an unplanned trip to Thrissur with Vishnu to get his vaccination done. After nearly a month of harrowing search for the mysterious vaccine, Vishnu got vaccinated in merely 20 minutes, at this hospital. Glad that our job on hand got over unexpectedly-early, we decided to halt at Kochi, stay there that night, go mall-surfing (read: window-shopping) the very next day and then return.

The very next day, we geared up for some serious ‘mouth-looking’ (translate that to malluspeak, or ask your friendly neighbourhood mallu if you didn’t get that 😛 ). Both Vishnu and I are serious literary- aficionados. We read, or rather, consume, virtually every book under the sun (provided it is captivating enough to satisfy our momentary vicissitudes). So that fateful morning, we decided to hop into a decent book store to start our sojourn.

We walked into the nearest mall, and located its sole, medium-sized book store. Like predators munching on their prey, we consummately started feeding on our staple diet of books. We didn’t notice time flying, as we carefully selected authors of our choice, browsing eagerly through books, both famous and obscure, satiating ourselves. Before we knew it, our tummies started rumbling – it was lunch time. We picked a couple of moderately-priced books and proceeded to the counter. The man at the sales counter seemed glad that we had finally decided to purchase books – he thought we’d sit there for the entire day, browsing (not that we didn’t intend to do that, but our tummies protested!). Vishnu was short of money, so I offered to pay. I fished out my purse from my pocket  to pay for our books; the cost of both would come down to around Rs 450. I fished a 500 rupee note from my purse and placed it at the counter.

 

Suddenly, the phone at the counter rang. The salesman at the counter picked it up and started talking. It seemed that the person at the other end was his wife or girlfriend or something. Unmindful of our presence, he started a very cheesy tete-a-tete with his lady love. We were exasperated. We didn’t have all day to wait. We could virtually hear our tummies which were about to burst. Vishnu gave the counter-guy one of his typical glares, magnified through his high-power glasses. The man seemed to take note of the stare, and quickly interrupted his motormouth girlfriend and cut the call. He took the books from our hand, checked the price and announced:

“450 rupa aayi, sir.” (Please pay Rs 450, sir)

I gestured at the 500 rupee note I had placed on the counter. The counter-guy looked at me, puzzled.

“Sir?”

I frowned and looked at the counter. My note was missing. Er… did I take that note from my purse and kept it on the counter, in the first place? I quickly rechecked my purse. At a quick glance, I notice that It had only one 500 rupee note and a few notes of 100. I had originally taken two 500 rupee notes from the ATM, or so I remembered, and one among them was missing. So obviously I had kept it on the counter. The counter guy had probably taken the note and shoved it to his safe.

“Njaan daa ippo paisa eduthu vachathe ullu. Kandille?”, I said. (“I’d just placed the money on the counter, didn’t you see?)

“Illa sir. Enikku… enikkormayilla…”, he replied. (Er…. No. I don’t remember, sir)

Vishnu came to my support:

“Alla, avan paisa eduthu vaykkunnathu njaanum kandathaa. Ningal eduthu counter il vachathaayirikkum,” (I saw him place the money on the counter. You must have absent-mindedly placed the note in the safe, accidentally)

The sales guy was scratching his head with the back of his pen. He opened the counter, checked the notes inside for a moment, thought for a while, and said:

“Ayyo, enikku orma illallo!” (Er… I don’t remember)

By now, I was sure that the counter guy was trying to con us. I politely convinced him that I did place the note on the table. Vishnu also went on to support me. After a few minutes of give and take, the counter guy finally agreed that I had indeed paid him. He apologized profusely for his mistake and gave me the balance amount of Rs 50. He neatly placed the books into a cover and handed it over to us, with a smile. We smiled back, and scooted from the place.

We decided to have lunch from the mall’s food court itself. It didn’t take a long time for us to finalize on our choice of food – noodles. The food court had a pre-paid system. You had to pay initially, and the food would be delivered within a short while. As I was opened my purse to pay, I had the shock of my life.

There, inside my purse, rested TWO 500 rupeee notes.

We had conned the book store. I didn’t pay them ANYTHING. We got the books for free!

If there’s one attribute I value more than anything else, it is honesty. I can’t say that I’m not a liar, but I try my level best not to lie/cheat. Pangs of guilt started attacking me. I had made a huge mistake – severe enough that the counter guy might even lose his job! 500 rupees was a huge amount in bookstore-lingo. I immediately shared my situation with Vishnu. He smiled.

“Buddy, I seriously think you need to give this a miss. We got a great deal man! We saved 500 bucks and got couple of good books for free. And we were paid 50 rupees too (the change) for accepting them. Cheers to us!”

I didn’t buy Vishnu’s reasoning. No sooner did we finish eating our lunch, I rode the escalator back to the first floor, and went to the book store. The counter guy saw me and smiled. He still didn’t realize that he was conned.

I gingerly walked up to him, and slowly made him aware of the situation, with apologies, weakly trying to conjure a smile. Surprisingly enough, the counter guy smiled. He said that such mistakes happen to everybody, and I was indeed a noble person to accept my mistake and promptly correct it. I paid him the 500 rupee note, profusely apologized once more and left the place with a lighter heart and a smile on my face. I had done a good deed, that day. God will reward me.

I reached home, late that night, by train.

The very next morning, I was rudely woken up by my mom. She was grumbling something. I drowsily opened my eyes, and vaguely tried to listen to what she was trying to say. Apparently, she had fished out an ATM receipt from my jeans pocket and was complaining about something related to that.

“… Mone, nee ingane paazhchelavu cheyyaruthu. 1500 rupa nee ATM il ninnum edutho? Ithream cash enthina eduthath? Ninakku paisa undennu karuthi ingane chelavakkaruthu. Save cheyyaan padikkanam…” (Son, don’t spend too much like this. You took a whopping 1500 bucks from the ATM? Why did you take so much money and splurge it? Don’t have the impression that you can spend like crazy cause you have money with you. You should start saving…)

My heart skipped a beat. Slumber left my eyes in a moment’s time. I grabbed the ATM receipt and looked at it again. It seems I had withdrawn 1500 rupees the day before. I had THREE 500 rupee notes with me, not two. I failed to notice the third note, which was kept in another chamber of my purse!! I didn’t make a mistake the other day, and I’d given an extra 500 rupee note to the book stall.

To cut a long story short, 500 rupees gone down the drain.

“Amma paranjathu shariyaa. Paisa sookshichu chelavakkanam”, I sighed. (Mom, what you said is true. I should start spending judiciously).

P.S. True story.

Categories
Movies Song

Kurutham Kettavan – A Malayalam Album With A Difference

I first heard of Kurutham Kettavan from mom. She heard about this new Malayalam music video featuring Suraj Venjarammoodu and Ranjini Haridas on TV and alerted me immediately. Not exactly a fan of Ranjini, I didn’t show much interest. But mom seemed all hyped up about the video, despite not having seen it. Now, my mom’s the last person who’d follow a new music album or anything. So I really didn’t have a clue as to why my mom showed interest on Kurutham Kettavan.

Only until I saw the video myself. 🙂

Made in the ‘Palavattam’ mould, the album tries to undo (irreparable) damage done to the Malayalam Music scene by a juggernaut called ‘Silsila’ (incidentally made by a namesake of mine 😐 ). Sung by Anoop Sankar (Asianet Plus fame) and composed by Hariprasad, the peppy number has a tongue-in-cheek video featuring Ranjini and Suraj.

The song is about the travails of a random guy, played by Suraj Venjarammoodu, who is  a Kurutham Kettavan (one who’s upto no good) from childhood. Ranjini Haridas is Rosykutty, his love interest. Pepped with 3D animation, the video has a cartoonish-feel to it, making it quite endearing. The song’s also pretty-good, and matches upto the ‘Palavattam’ quality.

Kurutham Kettavan is a product of Vishraam Creations. Favour Francis is the video-director. Prakash Velayudan has handled the camera while Sushil has crafted the 3D visuals of the video. The video is edited by Dheeraj Warrier.

You’d surely enjoy the video, if you know the language. Do check it out! 🙂