I have been here almost 2 weeks and there are things I see / experience here that sometimes delight me and at other times flummoxes me!
- The very first thing that hits you is the size of apartments. When we entered our company provided accommodation, we were at a loss initially on how small a 2 bedroom apartment can be. A 1 bedroom place is less than 45 m2 (about 485 sq ft) generally and 2 bedroom places are 65 m2 (650 sq ft) perhaps.
- Ignoring the actual size, the furniture and layout is designed in a way to make the space feel more spacious than it is. You won’t probably feel cramped in an apartment that’s the size of bedrooms in India.
This exact line has been the response of me telling people I am leaving Amazon and moving to Tokyo. It has been a very interesting question because no one asked me why Seattle when I left Bangalore. In fact I have been pondering over this quite a bit and I don’t think I have a great answer.
I wonder if part of the question is implicitly asking: Why leave US? And why leave Amazon? If I have to answer the question of why Tokyo, I probably need to answer these questions.
I started my work career by doing an Intern at IBM. I definitely learned a lot on that role but that wasn’t really my first job. It was always going to be a short role with a fixed end date, so it always felt incomplete, like I didn’t belong. The first company where I joined for a full time role was Cisco but again that wasn’t really a job. I didn’t do a lot there, neither in terms of work nor in terms of achievement. For me looking back at Cisco brings fond memories of hanging out in a cafeteria, making some good friends and (of course) getting paid. I never talk of Cisco as my first job since I didn’t really work there. I left Cisco after 6-7 months so I didn’t really feel any emotion leaving or had strong bonds with my team etc.
It is quite likely that in the last hour you craved momentarily for something or someone or a feeling. It usually hits us out of the blue, sometimes lasting for one moment while at other times it lingers on. It could be a feeling of intense desire, it could be that sudden hunger for ice cream or it could be the strong urge to buy that phone.
Craving is defined as great or eager desire; yearning in Dictionary. Some of the common ways to describe a craving include using words like hunger, lust, urge, need etc. However I have been wondering on whether craving is a good thing or a bad thing.
The story really starts about 10.5 months ago when I bought a Fitbit. I thought now that I have spent some money I would have more incentive to be fit. But my real journey started way back. Back in 2007, I was in my 2nd year of graduation. I was a thin person. People (mostly relatives) used to question me on my food habits and the quality of the mess food. But in a way I never had to bother about fitness and weight since I was thin and that was all fitness meant to me then.
It was also during my graduation that I started eating a lot, at all times and all kinds of things. I also started getting more stressed and used food as a cope-up mechanism. In no time, all that oil and butter and fat was getting on me. I still remained thin but my waist started to creep up. However I was too lazy or too weak to exercise. I used to just convince myself that I don’t need to do any of it since that’s not my strong area. I considered working on a computer to be my strength and that’s all I did. Sitting and sometimes lying on the bed for hours at a stretch meant my body got little work out.
About a month ago I got a chance to read a very interesting book called Sapiens. It was written by a historian and it was one of the most thought provoking books I have had a chance to read. I rarely read non-fiction but history interests me somewhat. This book was more of a mashup between human history and psychology. It’s goal in a way was to write an unbiased history of the Homo genus, more specifically the Homo sapiens species. That, btw, is modern human beings
What really caught my attention was a very obscure fact. The brain matter of another human species, Neanderthals, was bigger than homo sapiens. Yet that specie died out and never developed civilization and sophisticated tools etc. For all of my life, I had assumed that humans are special because we have more brain matter. However I was clearly wrong.
Gokarna is almost a unknown twin of Goa. It’s a small religious town in Karnataka, located right on the beach and just below the state of Goa. My trip started off from Bangalore. There are quite a few different types of buses to go from Bangalore to Gokarna. I think there are trains from Bangalore as well but those usually take longer. On this trip we took a bus around 8PM in the evening and reached Gokarna around 6AM. The bus was a sleeper bus with A/C which meant I got some shut-eye during the night. However I strongly recommend to check the bus quality before going since buses can be really filthy. We had taken the KSRTC bus and seriously it was dirty, smelly and full of insects. I wouldn’t recommend it but I am hopeful that there are other cleaner buses as well.
Once we got to Gokarna town, we decided to wing it a bit in terms of where to stay. There are very few established places / hotels in the area. There are 3 major beaches with any kind of accommodation: Kudle, Om beach, Half moon beach. There is one more beach called Paradise beach but that doesn’t have any place to stay as such.
As I mentioned in some of my blogs from January, I started meditating this year. I had started to not like myself because I was always ready to snap. I had long thought of myself as a cool and composed person but that had started becoming more of a fictional character. So I turned to meditation to channel some of these energies.
Meditation is a fun activity when you don’t rush it or force it. I started meditating regularly and most days tried to do it in a part of my day where I wasn’t time pressed. Once I started to clear my head of the everyday thoughts about work, traffic, food, money, TV, technology etc I got a little more mental room to follow some of the other thoughts that would pop up. Earlier I would have run out of time or energy to even consider such thoughts but I felt more upbeat after starting to meditate.
If you haven’t already read the first part of us being in Liberia and Del Coco, I highly recommend reading it here.
We were on a week vacation to Costa Rica and spent the first few days basking in the sun and rolling in the beach. Our second leg was to go to Arenal Volcano region.
Initially we had planned to take a bus from Del coco to arenal volcano where we had planned to spend the last half of our trip. But when we did check out the bus situation it would take 6+ hours and need 3 bus changes to get to La Fortuna (which is the main town near Arenal volcano). Our hotel was about 10 KM from La Fortuna town so we would then have to take another taxi. We kind of decided at last-minute to get a rental car. If you book in advance you can get them for like $10-15 a day and ours was $25 a day. In hindsight, this was the best decision of our trip.
Recently I had a chance to visit Costa Rica. For those of you who don’t know where it is (like I did a year ago), it is in South America. I would say it is central america reaching out to meet south america. You can almost miss it in Maps between the Mexico at top and Colombia / Brazil below. My trip lasted almost a week and it was a very interesting one indeed. In some ways it was a trip of firsts. It was my first trip to South America. It was my first trip where I wasn’t on a vacation from work. It was my first trip to a volcano. It was my first trip where I drove a car. It was also my first trip where I felt US was cheaper.
I had been meaning to take a vacation since Gayatri had a week off around this time. The idea was to go somewhere where I can use an old Alaska airline credit but still not in USA. We kind of settled down to 2 main choices: Cuba and Costa Rica. Both had their pros / cons but what did it eventually was that Cuba was super booked. It seemed like every hotel was booked due to President Day weekend and flights were crazy expensive. As usual I tried to avoid crowds and ended up booking the tickets to Costa Rica.