Brigade Road, Bangalore

Are Bangalore Days Over?

In February this year, I sent out a mail to my team in office which was somewhat on these lines:

We are all allowed to work from home once in a while but it is getting out of hands. I suggest that we get disciplined and work from home, at max, for 2 days in a Month and not more than once a week. That too, only if it is really necessary.

me, trying to act bossy

Heh, where are the days gone when you could actually feel embarrassed in public?

Most of the people whom I call as Friends or Colleagues or Relatives who used to live (in rented houses) in Bangalore have now left the city and have returned to their home towns. They all plan to stay there and work remotely till the pandemic gets over and their employers allow work from home. Some say that this would be allowed at least till December 2020. Some say it would go on till July 2021. Some even say that Bangalore Days are over as now the Internet is good enough all over the country that it is not really important to stay and work in the same city. The traffic and the hustle bustle in the city is not the same anymore. Office spaces on everyday are as vacant as the office spaces on Weekends. Most Restaurants have shut down. Food Delivery guys, who used to drive as fast as the F1 Cars, now just stroll their way to deliver food to a lone introvert stranger who is oblivious to the pandemic or may be understands that food is not the primary source of infection. The number of cases are breaking records every day and the overall morale of the place is duller than mood on pre-covid Monday mornings.

James Altucher, a famous blogger and entrepreneur, wrote something similar about New York City. He gave detailed stats of rent coming down, people actually moving permanently to other cities, and remote working is going to be the norm.

There won’t be business opportunities for years. Businesses move on. People move on. It will be cheaper for businesses to function more remotely and bandwidth is only getting faster. 

Wait for events and conferences and even meetings and maybe even office spaces to start happening in virtual realities once everyone is spread out from midtown Manhattan to all over the country. 

NYC IS DEAD FOREVER. HERE’S WHY

His views have some weight and it is not all wrong. However, he got a strong rebuttal from someone who is a New Yorker and takes pride in it. In fact, he is someone who usually won’t really speak out on each and every public related issue. But, this NYC Dead thingy hit him hard.

World Famous Comedian Jerry Seinfeld wrote,

Energy, attitude and personality cannot be “remoted” through even the best fiber optic lines. That’s the whole reason many of us moved to New York in the first place.

You ever wonder why Silicon Valley even exists? I have always wondered, why do these people all live and work in that location? They have all this insane technology; why don’t they all just spread out wherever they want to be and connect with their devices? Because it doesn’t work, that’s why.

Real, live, inspiring human energy exists when we coagulate together in crazy places like New York City. Feeling sorry for yourself because you can’t go to the theater for a while is not the essential element of character that made New York the brilliant diamond of activity it will one day be again.

Jerry Seinfeld: So You Think New York Is ‘Dead’
(It’s not.)

I had myself left the city on 14th July and went to my home town. I thought may be I would also stay there for a long time. Return to the city where my friends and colleagues aren’t there is not really fruitful, in fact, dangerous if you know what I mean.

But I returned back on August 16th, 2020 for several reasons, including my wife working in Bangalore at a place where work from home isn’t really allowed. Here is my opinion on whether the Silicon Valley of India is now a thing of the past:

No, Bangalore days are not over. Working from Home is not same as Working in Office. In fact, working from home, even from your hometown is not the same as working from your home in Bangalore. The feel is not there. Like Jerry Seinfeld said, some places stand out because of the Energy. I am not in a die-hard fan of Bangalore the city as such because it can certainly do better in a lot of aspects but I absolutely love working here. I really miss working in office, meeting people, discussing ideas, talking about weather and traffic even when there is always a love-hate relationship, having tea road-side, and in generally sitting at my desk in office. I have no qualms in saying that whoever, I know, has moved out of Bangalore has always complained about how the Bangalore work culture is perhaps the best there is and other cities are not the same. Since I have not really worked elsewhere in last decade (except small stints in Hyderabad and Jaipur), I don’t know that. But there is certainly something which makes a place worth living. Of course, without people, the soul is not there. Even if some politicians and their stooges do drama by Hindi-Hate-Mongering every few months, but there are still many sane people around care about better things and solve problems and not create them. There might be 1000 wrong things here but which place doesn’t? I have spent 10 years here and it has shaped my personality, I think, in a positive way. It has made me more accepting, more open and more optimistic. I want to stay an optimist, even if I am missing out on spending a long time with my family unlike many other folks. I’ve just stated about Bangalore but every city in the world is special for its own reason and you might have some reasons about it yourself.

I feel that once this is over, and this will be over soon, it would take just a week or so for normalcy to return. And not just Bangalore, every city around the world will rise up again. There might still be some people who will have FOGO (Fear of Going Out, h/t: Mark Manson) and might not return to office. May be, masks wearing will stay for another year. But I am sure, most people who really want to work and are ambitious, will return to the cities, and the offices will be swarming with people again. Humans are stubborn. These viruses and all might scare us for sometime. But, we will return to work and crib about how bad the traffic is and why can’t the government do something about it. We will return to work and go to the cafeteria and eat the tasteless food. Your favorite restaurants will be back serving your favorite overpriced meal. We will still use Zoom and all, but we will also meet people in person. The dullness in the air will transform back to the energetic vibe which makes us believe that tomorrow is going to be better.


Optimistically Pessimist

That’s the right approach to live life in these times IMHO.

Lockdown is going to get over guys! Congratulations. It was tough, right? We had to stay indoors. We could only go outside to buy veggies and milk. We had to talk to people from School/relatives with whom we had stopped the conversations, and rightly so, a decade ago. We all came online on Zoom and took screenshots. People became cooks and fought over Youtube and Tiktok. It was something!

Didn’t we all hear all the claims about how the life is going to be in this ongoing + not really ending anytime soon + post COVID-19 world? We were told that it will never be the same again. There will be only work from homes. Schools will be just on the laptop. Masks would be the things and it will become haute couture level fashionable to have extreme and funky masks. Social Distancing would be a norm for a long long time and you will never have to tolerate those folks who hug all the time! Of course cinema halls would be a thing of the past and most restaurants would be only take-away ones.

But… I don’t get it!

Was this all a scam? Like seriously was this all a conspiracy? Like last 2 months were just some chapters out of a fictional story and now we are back to business? Even news channels are now back to usual terrorism in Kashmir news and usual debates about how my orange is more saffron than yours or how bollywood-walas are shouting Black Lives Matter but not shouting say why is the road outside my apartment dug up when monsoon is just starting and when are they going to fix it again?

From June 8th, Malls are reopening, temples will be buzzing, roads are already full of traffic and pollution. Fun! Also, you can start ordering all the foods you were avoiding as well. You haven’t become thinner by not eating the regular weekend pizzas anyway. May be golgappas around the street corner again? Bring it on.

What was all that drama for? Banging plates to lighting diyas? No, of course, I know that the economy has to restart but where are the masks? Why have we let our guards down? Or we just stayed home to avoid police sticks? Why the neck is the best place to put masks but not the nose and mouth? Why do we need Institutional Quarantine when cases are now skyrocketing with or without it? Why we have so many people back on the road when the cases in India are past China’s number already?

You must have seen the pics of Mumbai’s marine drive full of morning walkers with masks half-heartedly on. Or the pics of the airplanes rush when it has landed. Or beaches in US where there are more people than there usually were. Don’t you think the new normal isn’t the same old normal at all?

Bottom line is that we people are resilient and smarter than you think they are. You might or might not have seen the show ‘Space Force’ on Netflix because it is somewhat a mishmash of comedy and science fiction and tragedy and as someone rightly said a cross between ‘Veep’ and ‘The Office’, but there’s a quote in that which is somewhat on the lines of:

When people have forgotten the atrocities of World War, they forget what is like to be in a War. When people have had no polio cases for a long time, they forget the importance of Vaccines. When people become too arrogant, they forget things!

Not exactly verbatim but something similar by Gen. Naird

I am optimistic that the world will become normal again. I am pessimistic about the time. I thought it would take time to heal, but I miscalculated. I thought it would be months before we are back on the street in the usual way. But here we are already late for the office.

2 Things A Soldier Needs

In a country like India, where even getting basic amenities is a struggle, there are only 2 things a Soldier, who defends us 24/7, needs.

Just 2 things. Optimism and Motivation.

the-memorial-stands-as-a-token-of-our-tribute-to-the-indian-army

 

They need to have that optimism, that whatever their job requires them to do, they should do that with best of their abilities. Their optimism helps them to do the job to fulfill some cause. The cause being safety and well-being of fellow citizens. They are hopeful that when they accomplish their jobs, someone somewhere would feel safer. Someone somewhere would have a place to stay. Someone somewhere would have something to eat. They are hopeful that their effort won’t go in vain. They are hopeful that even if their individual effort isn’t recognized, their leader, their team, their battalion or their country would get something better. Nobody wants to go to war. Nobody signs up with Army to kill someone else in order to win a war. They sign up to defend. But if someone has decided to get signed up, they’re hopeful that their in-charges would attempt their best to avoid confrontation directly or indirectly with another soldier who is hopeful for someone else, just like they are.

Another thing they need is motivation. They don’t get best treatment when it comes to place to stay, climate to work under, infrastructure to work with and even the equipment to work on. So they survive with just motivation. They are able to do what they are supposed to do, just because they have got a motivation. Their fellow soldiers motivate them. Their leader has motivated them. Their families have motivated them. Their country has motivated them*.

*Conditions Apply

There was a news recently of Indian army’s attempt to strike strategically some areas in the Kashmir which is under Pakistan’s occupation. Their sole motive was to destroy the camps which harbor people who keep sending infiltrators and terrorists to the  Indian sides and kill innocents. Army claimed that they achieved their mission successfully and in a way, took revenge of the Uri attacks and also send a signal to the terrorists that enough is enough.

How they did it, when they did it and did they do it actually, is immaterial and for everyone’s safety, should be, and is classified. If you don’t believe in it, your wish. You want to dance and celebrate it, your wish.

Now suppose you don’t believe it, which is fine, but if you question the integrity of the system again and again, what is the message are you sending to the world? That you don’t trust your army? Sure you can hate the government and their policies. But by raising doubts about the very statement which CANNOT be made public because it is a question of severe intelligence compromise, don’t you think you should take a step back? Don’t you think that by discussing the same thing over and over again, on news, on tv, you are not shaking the 2 very beliefs the soldier needs to be able to do their job properly? Don’t you think that more you do this, more the soldier would be forced to think that whatever they do, gets no appreciation, neither monetary, nor financially, so why should they do it honestly in the first place? You can say whatever you want, but isn’t this a basic fundamental duty to not meddle with lives of others, specially those who need soldiers and armies when basically every neighborhood country is at logger heads with us?

Don’t stoop so low, just to satisfy your own ego that you take away the only 2 things a soldier needs to be a soldier: Optimism and Motivation.