Sunday, February 22, 2015

My take on the AIB roast

A lot of water has flown down the Ganga since the AIB Roast first hit the headlines. People praised it to begin with and called it "Indian stand-up comedy finally coming of age". Most people found it funny and bold. Then someone decided it was indecent and actually filed an FIR against those who produced it and participated in it. Since then, every few days we find someone or the other voicing their opinion on this. We have had Aamir Khan, Twinkle Khanna, Shah Rukh Khan, Varun Dhawan and many others give their two cents on this.

I have actually seen the entire Roast on YouTube before it was pulled off. So, unlike many others, I at the very least have the legal sanction to comment on it!

For me, it worked only in parts. I honestly don't find abuse funny. Merely mouthing expletives just doesn't cut it for me. No, I am not against using expletives but I don't find them funny by themselves. The Roast depended a lot on people finding expletives funny by themselves.

To be fair, there were some really good jokes. But all in all I found it pretty average in terms of humour content. I don't think this was 'Indian stand-up comedy coming of age'. If anything, it served to highlight that Indian stand-up comedy still relies heavily on expletives that appeal only to immature imbeciles who have had a less-than-perfect schooling.

Almost all the jokes that targeted Karan Johar were about him being gay. To be fair to him, he took these jokes very sportingly and what was probably the worst-kept secret of Bollywood is now completely out in the open. Then there were jibes galore at skin colour, religion and relationships.

This brings me to the reaction to the Roast. All I can say is that it was wholly unnecessary. It was on YouTube. There's much worse on YouTube and this elicited the kind of response it did only because of the names involved. Poor Karan Johar had to have the High Court restrain the police from arresting him for this! Please give the poor guy a break!

If you get offended by such jokes and language, you have a very simple choice: click on Stop!

Friday, February 20, 2015

A productivity hack that is really working well for me

As an organisation grows, individuals who have started it have to take on additional responsibilities. As a result, the number of things on your to-do list grows significantly. You often have multiple urgent things that you need to do NOW. You are always picking one over the other saying you will come back to the other. Your list of things left undone grows.

The number of emails you need to attend to also keeps growing tremendously. You are away from your computer for a few hours and by the time you get back to your computer, you find 50-60 emails that have hit your inbox and need to be responded to.

I have this policy of 'Inbox 0'. This means that I always need to have no emails in my Inbox. When an email comes, I need to read it and do one of four things:

- Delete it if it is not needed at all (promotions, alerts etc.)
- Just move it to an appropriate folder if I don't need to do anything about it
- Respond immediately and move it to an appropriate folder
- Add an item to my to-do list and move it to an appropriate folder

This adds stuff to my to-do list and I was looking for a way to optimise how I manage my to-do list which was getting just too long and unmanageable. I use Wunderlist for managing my to-dos (and might I add, evangelised many of my colleagues at work to use this great tool as well - it syncs your to-dos among your phones and computers, has multiple lists and easy prioritising).

Then, one day, on Quora, I got this article in my email alert: As a startup CEO, what is your favorite productivity hack?

Now, now, Vikram, I can see you raising your eyebrows! I am not CEO of a startup, but I am a co-founder of a startup. So, I thought might as well read it as I was looking for ways I could be more productive.

Here is what I have started doing after reading the article. The article recommends other tools but conceptually what I am doing with Wunderlist is the same. It is not rocket science and after reading this, you might say: Much ado about nothing! But then, most great ideas seem simple. The fact is I was not doing it until I read this and after beginning to do this, it has helped a lot!

So, I have an "Inbox" list on Wunderlist. Here is where all new to-dos go to. Every week, on Monday morning, I go through this list and move to-dos to my "This week" list. These are things I would really like to get done this week. Then, every morning, I go through my "This week" list and move to-dos to my "Today" list. Then I take up things from my "Today" list and then actually do them. At the end of the day, it feels really nice to see that most of your to-dos are done.

I have tried this for a couple of weeks. It has worked really well. Yes, it might be early days yet but I am going to persist and continue this. Many things that were pending for a long time have got done. Earlier, all I was doing was responding to email. This meant OTHERS were dictating what I did in my day. With this method, I am dictating what I do with my day! This is really important!

There are many productivity hacks that people use. It is important that you pick something to make sure you get things done which are important to you. Many of us end up doing things that are unimportant to us and just react to emails and things others want us to do. That is not what we are meant to do!

A stupendous success!

The First ever Dialysis Olympiad in India organised by NephroPlus was a huge success. Almost 350 patients and their attendants participated in the event this Sunday, the 15th of February in Hyderabad. Right from the morning, patients started participating in the various events that were conducted with great enthusiasm and a 'will to win' which was the theme of the event. Here are some pictures from the event:

For more pictures, click here.

Friday, February 13, 2015

Is the AAP Delhi victory going to usher in a new kind of politics in the country?

Never before in the history of an Indian election has such a decisive mandate been given by the electorate to any political party. The soon-to-be-installed Arvind Kejriwal Government will have practically no opposition in the Delhi assembly.

Many analysts express deep concern on how a party that tends not to shy away from acts that cause people to describe it as 'anarchist' would behave when there is no opposition. Recent signs however show that Kejriwal and his team have learnt their lessons. They seem to have mellowed down, become more mature and sensible.

How did they manage to get such a huge mandate?

Conspiracy theorists claim that the BJP intentionally lost this election. Well, if it really was so, they would never have unleashed PM Modi during the campaign. Why would they want to tarnish his reputation of winning elections? The truth is that the people really wanted an AAP Government.

Is this is a referendum on the Modi government? I highly doubt this. People these days differentiate between the Centre and the State. Its been under a year since the Modi government took over at the Centre. Its performance, despite the huge expectations has not been bad. I don't think people would swing from a 100% verdict for the BJP to an almost 100% verdict against the BJP in such a short span of time.

Now, coming to the larger issue - of the impact of this election on national politics. Unfortunately, I don't think we are going to see much change in the way politics is run in much of the rest of the country any time soon despite the AAP victory.

The reason for this is that the AAP would first focus completely on Delhi and make sure that the promises it had made, especially with regard to a clean, corruption-free administration are fulfilled. Any attempt to look at other states would take away the focus on this. AAP is a young party with a very poor organisation structure beyond Delhi. It would be foolhardy of them to expect similar successes elsewhere due to this major handicap.

Despite PM Modi's best intentions on the issue of corruption, the BJP is pulled down by the baggage it has carried for all these decades. There are just too many people who are from the 'old-school' who believe in the culture of entitlement that afflicts the traditional political class in this country. And this is why he will fail when it comes to providing an administration that is as clean as one that the AAP can provide.

About other parties in the country, the less said the better.

Monday, January 26, 2015

Announcing India's first ever Dialysis Olympiad!

NephroPlus is organising India's first ever Olympic style Games event for dialysis patients! We at NephroPlus firmly believe that dialysis patients can lead normal lives. What better way to prove this that organising such an event?

It is going to be a one day event conducted in Hyderabad. The event is open to all dialysis patients across the country. There are events like 50 and 100 meters sprint, 250 meters walkathon, 500 meters cycling, table tennis, badminton etc. For those not inclined to exert too much, there are events like chess and sudoku!

The event will end with our signature event - Aashayein!

All in all we promise a super duper fun event!!!

To make sure patients who stay in other parts of the country who do not want to miss their dialysis, a participation allowance is being given for early registrants that should cover flight tickets as well!

If you want to come and spend a few days in the city of Hyderabad also, you could use the allowance to cover your accommodation! Dialysis can be arranged at a NephroPlus centre at a reasonable price.

So, if you are on dialysis or know someone who is, please register today!

Thursday, January 15, 2015

Mumbai Diary

I have fond memories of this city. My aunt stayed here until a few years back. As a kid, I have spent many summer days here. The idlis at Sukh Sagar, the pizzas at New Yorkers, my aunt's cooking itself was no less a treat! Then we had a summer camp here as well where cousins from all over gathered and had a blast for a couple of weeks. I remember the drive to Kalambole where we had our fill of water melons from the road side shops that stocked mounds and mounds of this delicious fruit and we kids along with the adults trooped into a shop and finished off 15-20 water melons in one stroke!

Going back to this city is always enjoyable with all these memories!


We partnered with the renowned Dr. Umesh Khanna (well-known for his landmark paper "The Economics of Dialysis in India" among several other accomplishments - but I have always associated him with this paper only!) to run his massive dialysis centre at the Lancelot Compound in Borivali West.

I had a great interaction with all the guests (patients, for those uninitiated in NephroPlus jargon!) there. They all seemed genuinely happy. Dialysis, in some ways, can be a humbling normaliser. Whether your nett worth is a crore or a thousand, you use the same needles, the same machine and the same technique to get your body cleansed.

Annual Patient Picnic of the Mumbai Kidney Foundation

The next day was Sunday and the Annual Patient Picnic of the Mumbai Kidney Foundation (MKF). This was truly an amazing event. It was held at Borivali National Park. Dr. Umesh Khanna (who founded MKF) along with his wife, Dr. Molina Khanna, who happens to be a gastroenterologist were exemplary hosts, literally running from here to there to ensure that every patient and family member had a great time. Handling the mammoth crowd of more than 300 people was quite a task.

This reminded me of NephroPlus' very own Aashayein event. Patients need such outings and events to meet fellow-patients and have a day of complete fun!

With Dr. Umesh Khanna

Dialysis Patient singing 'Ek Chatur Naar'

With the NephroPlus team

With Dr. Umesh Khanna and Dr. Molina Khanna (second from left)

Attitude of the patients 

One thing I noticed was that most patients in Mumbai - and I met and saw quite a few during this trip - were generally happy despite the burden of a chronic disease. Few complained. They were all having a gala time. One patient sang the whole 'Ek Chatur Naar' song from the film Padosan while the others egged him on. It was a truly pleasurable sight!

The other patients also were very strong-willed and cheerful. They looked determined not to let the disease get the better of them.

Vada Pav

I asked one of our techs at NephroPlus, Mumbai where we got great Vada Pav, the snack, Mumbai is world-famous for and he took my colleagues and me to a 'bandi' called Mangesh Vada Pav. The crowd there was insane. People were literally falling over one another to get their hands on a Vada Pav. I have no idea how the guys there managed the stall. It required some deft pushing and pulling by the tech and my other colleagues to get our hands on some Vada Pavs. They were really awesome!

My cousin, Deep

I got to know of Deep from another uncle of mine who stays in the US. I had no clue that my own cousin was on dialysis. Deep has a condition called Neurogenic Bladder which causes the kidneys to get damaged and lose function. He has been on dialysis for a couple of years now. He is only 23. I can completely relate to Deep because I was also diagnosed at 21. When I came back from Mumbai, I got Deep back with me and both of us spent some quality time together. Here are some pics from Deep's visit to Hyderabad.