A Letter to my 12 year old self

17th September, 2019

Dearest Shrey,

How are you doing? I hope you are in good health and enjoying the innocence and bliss that comes attached with childhood, oblivious of the vices and problems that exist in this beautiful and amazing journey we call life.

Today, I’m writing to you my first letter (I’m sure this won’t be the last) after qualifying as a Chartered Accountant, primarily because I thought that I must and lastly also because I though I must. So..Yes, ten years down the line, you will prove to the world and everyone in it, that you can and you will accomplish everything that you ever set your eyes upon (Be proud, but don’t let that turn into vanity).

Read the next part of this letter very carefully. It contains some of my learnings over the years and advices that I’ve received and experiences that I’ve lived. These are as much a part of me as they will become a part of you in your journey.

Right now, you are naive. You understand things but you don’t pursue them aggressively and looking at myself, it will be fair to say that the only things you’ll ever pursue aggressively will be those on which your life depends. You will fail in a French exam once and then pursue it aggressively to score an unbelievable 97 in an exam which will matter. You’ll have to listen to a lot of naysayers before aggressively pursuing and acing the CA final examination. While all this is good, it is my sincere advice that you’ll have to learn to pursue even the important things in life, not just those on which life depends.

You will develop a habit of leaving majority tasks midway and passing it on to others. I don’t blame you. I have always lived like a manager- possessing the art of getting things done through others. While it may not be bad to possess such a valuable art, but you’ll have to eventually understand the hard fact of life that before getting work done through others, one needs to know how to do it himself. I can proudly say that I learnt it, albeit the hard way. I can also assure you that you’ll learn it too, but it would be better if you took cue right now and start working over it rather than going down my path.

Discipline is of paramount importance. I was taught this at school. You have also been taught this at the very same school. The problem with me is that I didn’t realise it’s importance till recently. Look, in your future, there will come a time when you’ll have to sit at home for six months at a stretch and prepare- to turn a dream into reality. I have done it too, trust me it’s not as bad as it sounds. However, let me tell you one interesting incident- I used to do a major chunk of my studies during the night and sleep till late in the morning. Though this has always helped me while studying but there came a time when I was all jumbled up about the days of the week or for that matter, I couldn’t recollect whether a particular event had occurred a day before or two days before. Six months is a long time and I’m thankful that I faced such situations. It taught me one thing very clearly- Discipline is the keyword. I had to incorporate it in my life at all costs and I did. You’ll be surprised and happy to know that bringing my life into a routine helped me focus more, grasp a little bit more and also recollect a little bit more (okay, a lot more :p ).

My dear Shrey, there is one area in which you’ll suck. You will have a really hard time keeping in touch with the people, whom you love and care. Most of your friends will complain about this to you. You might even end up losing a few good ones. But the worst part is that you won’t find anyone, who will teach you the nuances of this art. I, myself, am struggling with it even now. I’m trying nevertheless and hopefully, in some future letter, I might even handover the key to you, but for now- you are on your own, buddy!

Technology is the buzzword right now and it’s highly unlikely that this trend shall recede anytime soon. Discoveries are made everyday and consequently, you’ll have to keep yourself abreast of the changes regularly. You will need to keep an eye out for new things and latest developments in this field. There will soon come a time, if it hasn’t already, when our very life- mine and your’s, will depend largely on technology. Also, this is my benign attempt to make you understand the importance of recognising which way the wind blows and adjusting your sails accordingly.

You have a very bright life ahead of you and in this, you’ll come across a handful of luminaries, who will have a lasting impact on your life. These people will inspire you, they will motivate you, but they will leave a big hole in your life too. You will desperately want to and try to become like them. At times, you will feel the frustration because no matter what you do, you will realise that you wouldn’t have moved an inch towards those idols among men. Let me tell you, the way is very simple and clear-Spend more time on growing yourself, on grooming yourself and practising. Everyone can touch those towering heights of greatness and fame but a very few people ever do and those are the ones who have understood the axiom that the body grows with age and time but greatness only dwells where there is uncompromised practise and a willingness to grow, not on a physical plane (over time this happens anyway), but on a psychological plane.

I have so many things to tell you and yet it feels like I’ve said enough for one letter. Also, I require some content for my successive letters too, right :p

So here is one final piece of advice before I end this letter with which I’ve become so attached:
Be inquisitive- be curious, in short never ever stop being You!!

And PFA your future self in the attachment which I’m adding herewith.

Keep smiling like always 🙂
Lots of love,
Shreylockholmes
[you will get this name somewhere in these ten years;)]

Can we not?!

Our earth is one amazing planet. But we humans are a total disgrace to it. Sometimes I feel that humans as a race, should be obliterated from the surface of this beautiful lump of rock and water and Life. 

This nature strives to endow us with spectacular sights and smells. The sun gifts us light. The stars alongwith the moon conspire to enchant us. But here we are- always wanting to obliviate all of these marvellous creations and do what we were never supposed to: Fight! 

Senseless violence. Humans have fought over anything and everything. It’s as if we have some innate ability to do so. The most ironic thing to fight over is Religion. The one thing, which above all- teaches us Peace and Harmony and Brotherhood and Love. The thing which abhors violence. The thing that was actually meant to connect us. RELIGION.  

Next we find ourselves fighting because of our skin colour. I can’t think of a reason which is thus bereft of reason. “Paint the world, not the skin”. I read this when I was a kid and even understood it then and now I am at a loss to understand how the learned men couldn’t get it right. 

One more reason that we fight is, well.. um.. because our ancestors fought and their ancestors fought too. Silly, right?! Thus, today I want to ask this one simple question- Can’t we stop fighting ? Milleniums and milleniums have passed since the dawn of the first civilisation. Yet, sadly, we have still not garnered the qualities of Peace and Forgiveness, Forbearance and Patience. 

Just imagine a world where there are no borders or boundaries. A world where nobody dies because of hunger. A world where the aspirations of each child is turned into reality. A world where people work not for the advancement of their region but for the advancement of the humanity as a whole. A world where every person is treated as who he/she is- a Human Being.

We can do so much together and yet we choose to remain shut and cut off from each other. Let us usher in an era of freedom and  make this earth a kaleidoscope of awe and wonder. For a wise man once said, “United we stand, Divided we fall”. The scope of this should not remain limited to our family or community, but should encompass all humanity. And by doing this, we will have created a place, which can be equated with God’s own creations.  

Can we not ?! 

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Is stress required in life?  

Well, most of the readers will obviously say a big NO. I mean, why take stress and bring home all the diseases which accompany stress. Only a fool would believe stress is not bad. And mind you, such fools do exist. 

I am one among them. Personally, I believe that stress is as important in life as salt is in food. Just as food without salt is useless, so is life without stress. It is in moments of stress and pressure that the mind functions optimally. In fact, it would not be wrong to say that stress acts as a stimulus for greater efficiency. 

Take any list which contains influential people. You will not find even one person in that list, who reached where he/ she is now before undergoing a period of stress and utmost pressure. There is an old adage which goes: every carbon molecule can get converted into a diamond, but very few, which take on the pressure finally become one. 

However, just as a lot of salt can poison the entire food, similarly, a lot of stress can harm a person. One should not keep on taking stressful tasks one after the other. Stress is just a part of our life, and yet we tend to make it our life. This can have  serious implications across various dimensions of life. 

To conclude, I would like to urge the fellow readers to remove the perception that stress has a very negative connotation. We must learn to use stress to our advantage. We need to learn, how to use it to navigate through unfavourable situations and turnaround our losses into our gains. And be very sure, this is quite possible. In fact, not just possible but rather probable! 
Happy Reading !! 

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Leave a mark

Life is supposed to have some meaning. We all come into this world to do something, atleast we all come into being with the capability and the capacity to do something. Yet it is surprising that most of us actually perish without doing anything remarkable. 

In the words of the great teacher Swami Vivekananda, 

Get up, and set your shoulder to the wheel – How long is this life for? As you have come into this world, leave some mark behind. Otherwise, where is the difference between you and the trees and stones? They too come into existence, decay and die.

And though I know and understand all of this, yet here I am without having done anything. For days I wondered why wasn’t I able to do anything worthwhile. Why have scores and scores of people died unceremoniously. 

One day it suddenly struck me. It is simple- because we are afraid. We are scared of venturing into uncharted waters, well most of us are. The few spirited souls who navigated through those rough waters were the ones who eventually succeeded. 

Having realised that we are afraid, I soon began wondering- what is it that we are afraid of? More so, what is it that I am afraid of? Right away, I began making a list of what all things ailed me. The one gargantuan thing, right at the top was – what-would-others-say?! 

This what-would-people-say has ruined lives. Rather, I would say, destroyed lives. But now, what to do about it. How to overcome​ the monster that is staring at us, laughing straight on our face. How much ever I tried, I was unable to find a way to cope with it. And this remained so, till one day I heard a wise man speak. 

He said, ” Ever since our birth, we have seen, heard, felt, etc. But all this has been done within. If we have seen anything, it is merely the image that has fallen on our retina which the brain comprehended. Any sound that we have heard thus far, has been a sound wave perceived by our brain through the vibrations it caused on the eardrums. And this goes on for everything that we have felt or smelt too” 

I deduced one important meaning that day. Life is really simple. We tend to make it complicated by trying to see, hear or feel what others might feel. Infact, we don’t even know whether they might feel the same way. I mean, do you clearly remember each day when your best friend ended up in a situation looking like a fool. I don’t. 

If we can’t remember what follies our best friend did, then why do we care so much about what others, whom we barely know or don’t know at all, might remember when we do something. The truth is – nobody cares. Everyone is too busy with themselves. They might just laugh at the spur of the moment but afterwards, nobody remembers. 

Still if some of you readers disagree with me, ask your selves the times you laughed at someone because of a certain act of theirs, which is considered as absurd. I bet most of you wouldn’t be able to remember 10 times, when you laughed at a ridiculous situation. 

When you yourselves don’t remember such incidents, then are you not a fool to believe that others might remember your each mistake. And are you not a greater fool, to not participate in activities that might actually be of some utility, fearing a negative reaction from the public.

In the end (RIP Cheston), I would just like to add that to create a mark in this world so that you and your deeds don’t become oblivious in the annals of history, you have to do something worth remembering and not let the fear of what-others-might-think make your existence similar to those of stones and trees. They decay and die! 

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Bitcoin – The New Age Revolution

Bitcoin is a word most of us have heard somewhere or the other. However, most of us have only a minuscule knowledge about it. Through this blog, I would like to throw some light on this latest revolution.

What is Bitcoin?
Bitcoin is a crypto currency. Simply put, it is a digital form of money. It was designed by Satoshi Nakamoto. Interestingly, no one knows whether Satoshi Nakamoto is a real person or a group of programmers using this pseudonym.

How Bitcoin works?
Bitcoin is different from the app based wallets that we are used to, like Paytm and Freecharge. While these apps use actual currency for carrying out transactions, Bitcoin is the currency through which we can transact. Bitcoin itself is a store of value.
To understand this, we first need to know the history of our current system of currency.
Remember the olden days, when there was no money. People used barter system for carrying out transactions. But doing transactions in barter system was cumbersome. There arose a need to have a common denominator which could be used for the simple act of buying and selling. This lead to the invention of money. First it took the form of any and every item which was perceived as precious- shells, precious stones, metals, even animal dung in certain places.
With the advent of civilisations, there arose a need to have a standardised denominator which could be used for trade throughout the empire. First coins were minted. Coins prevailed during the dark ages. But as civilisations grew, demand for currency grew too.
Soon demand for coins-far outstriped its supply. There just wasn’t enough metal to keep up with the supply. The solution- Notes were conceived. And today, we have a mixture of coins and notes as the drivers of world economy.

Importance of Bitcoin

People have faith in their currency. But these coins and notes are not true money. They are merely representative money. If you have a 2000 rupees note, it doesn’t mean you have 2000 rupees. What you have rather, is a promise by the government of the day, that they will pay you 2000 rupees worth of true currency (in most cases Gold) whenever you demand it.
If you are able to understand this, you will surely understand what a bitcoin is. Bitcoin is in essence that Gold, figuratively. It holds value by itself. It does not derive its value from any source.
Also, it does away with major flaws of Gold as a store of value. It is infinitely divisible (8 decimal places normally, more with consensus of the network).
It is a decentralised currency. This is a very big statement. It means that no one has the right to create bitcoins. Our paper currency decisions are taken by bankers and governments, but in case of bitcoins, there is a fixed supply limited at 21 million. Moreover, these are not just there. These have to mined.
The mining process involves compiling recent transactions into blocks and trying to solve a computationally difficult puzzle. The first participant who solves the puzzle gets to place the next block on the block chain and claim the rewards. The rewards incentivize mining and include both the transaction fees (paid to the miner in the form of Bitcoin) as well as the newly released Bitcoin.

More about Blockchain

Investment source

What particularly caught my attention is the investment opportunity in Bitcoins. Past reports have shown a 30,000 times rise in the price of bitcoins since its inception. Infact, in the short term, its price has risen astronomically. Over the past one year, it has increased almost four fold from less than $500 to $2072 (21-05-2017).
Rather than only speculation, this increase is also based on one of the most fundamental law of Economics- the law of Demand and Supply.
There will only be 21 million bitcoins in existence at any point of time- neither one less, nor one more. And when demand is not met with supply, the prices are bound to increase.
Many well known analysts have bet that the price of one bitcoin can easily touch $100,000. Some opportunists claim the amount to be $500,000. As a CA student, it wouldn’t hurt me if I were to assume it to rise to just $3000, for that would roughly translate to a 33.33% profit.
Just FYI- @$100,000 – profit would be 4900%
and @$500,000 – profit would be a whopping 24,900%.

Cons
The universe prefers balance. The same applies to Bitcoins too. Till now, you just read about the bright side of bitcoins. You were only shown the rosy picture. But now prepare yourself for the anticlimax.
Most of the exchanges which allow trading of bitcoins charge a certain percent as fees. It can vary from 0.3% to as high as 10%.
Secondly, these exchanges are not always safe. Classic example of this is Mt.Gox- the $460 million disaster of bitcoins. The underlying blockchain which powers bitcoins transactions cannot be hacked but the exchanges can be hacked into.
Thirdly, many illegal activities and terrorist fundings are done through bitcoins. The Ransomware is most recent example of how hackers can use this technology and yet remain incognito.
Conclusion
Bitcoin is the technology of future. It has the potential to overthrow all the existing currencies of the world. Taransparency and decentralization are its forte. Just imagine a world where power to create money is not in the hands of a few select individuals but can be mined by anyone who has the required hardware and software.
Truly, a revolution has begun. Not the conventional revolution but one which has the potential to disrupt the power balance of the world without even firing a single bullet!