The Curious Case of the Jeans Loops

A trip to the mall on the weekend is usually undertaken to enjoy, refill kitchen groceries, enjoy some delicious food, or even buy new clothes. One of the objectives of going to the mall this Saturday was to buy a pair of jeans for me. This may seem like a simple mission given that I already had a fair idea of what I wanted to buy and where I wanted to buy it from. But this turned out to be a little more complicated than anticipated.

I usually buy my jeans from Levi’s. I know the pair of jeans I buy there. The only problem I anticipated was the color of the jeans. To confirm this, I tried on a pair of jeans. They fit me well and I was quite happy with how they felt. But, when I tried on the belt that I had, the end tip of the belt did not quite reach the second loop. This meant that the end tip was left hanging between the first and the second loops. This was irritating.

This presented an unanticipated problem. Finding the solution for this involved an exercise of the little grey cells. I thoroughly enjoyed working on a solution to this problem and felt that you may enjoy this solution. Hence, this blog post.

But, before I can tell you the solution. I have to help you understand the problem. To understand the problem, you will have to understand the anatomy of a belt.

Anatomy of the Belt. Image Credit: Art of Manliness

I wear a belt with my jeans. After the belt goes around my waist, the end tip travels through the frame and prong and goes through the first loop on the other side. But since there is still more strap left, the end tip passes through a second loop before it stops. If this tip hangs after the first loop, it keeps moving around when you walk or run, and is a major source of nuisance.

The same issue arose again and again for different pairs of jeans or chinos that I tried in different stores. The sales assistants at these stores did not seem interested in helping me solve this problem. This meant that it was up to me to solve this problem.

The solution struck me when looking at the mirror in the trial room of the Lifestyle store. To help explain the solution look at the picture below.

The Second Loop. Image courtesy: Dhanya

The major design change that was causing the end tip of the belt to hang, and unable to reach the second loop was because of a change in the position of the second loop. The second loop had moved from the left of the vertical line to the right of the vertical line.

This provided two solutions. I could either bend over the end tip to push it back into the first loop or buy a shorter belt that would end immediately after it passed through the strap. The first solution leads to wear and tear in the belt and reduces how long a belt would last. The second was a much better solution.

Comparing the belt that I was wearing to the belts available for sale at the Lifestyle store, I realized that I was wearing a size 42 belt while I should be wearing a size 36. The Lifestyle store had size 34 and size 38 belts. Size 36 belts were not available. The Size 38 belts also hung between the first and the second loop. Whereas, the Size 34 belt did not even reach the first loop of the belt.

Thus began a mall-wide search for a size 36 belt. I finally located a nice size 36 belt in the Reliance Trendz store and purchased it. The belt fits me quite well. The solution negated the need to buy a new pair of jeans.

Why I do not like my own voice?

Photo by Ku00fcbra Arslaner on Pexels.com

I have also had a love-hate relationship with music. Sometimes, literally. It was while learning music that I realized that I did not undergo a change usually available to boys. It left me with a lack of confidence in my voice.

The name of the change is violent. Breaking of the voice. My voice did not break, but my heart did. The first time that I remember.

While I forget the reason for joining the music class, I do remember why I kept going. I went to meet a girl. Most of our conversation was in innocent smiles. The love was never expressed. No words were exchanged. I would not classify it as romantic love. But, it was at a time when I was introduced to my hormones.

The love was shown in trying to match musical talent. The music teacher, who will soon turn villain in this story, was the judge. When either of us did well, he would speak words of encouragement. We would both smile to each other. He would make us sing once again in front of one or both of our mothers, who accompanied us to these classes. That was a special high.

My voice did not change. But, my music teacher thought that a change was coming and asked me to quit learning music. I moved to another music teacher and continued learning for another year. The shock of the request of my former teacher was such that I lost all love for music and in a couple of years, quit learning music.

It broke my heart to quit learning music. I feel I would be a totally different person today if I had continued learning music. But, later in life, this was an illustrative study in how deeply a teacher can affect the mind of a student.

The point of writing this post is not to blame the teacher, but to explain why I do not like my voice.

This loss of confidence in my own voice, led to me stop directing or playing a part in plays. This stopped me from volunteering to speak in elocutions, debates, presentations and speeches. This stopped me a few years ago from starting my own podcast. It stops me from speaking in Twitter Spaces or Clubhouse. This stops me from trying to put my voice in YouTube videos.

I speak only on occasions where the idea overpowers the voice.

A Meetup in March

I could not find my black Pilot V5 pen. No, that’s wrong. I did not go looking for my black Pilot V5 pen. On the days that I do not write in my analog Bullet Journal, I find myself out of control.

I write to think. I write to connect the ideas. Only a few bread crumbs of those ideas, find their way as a blog post on this blog. I want to write more because I want to think more. I want to think more to learn a little more about this world.

It was with this intention that I joined the Clear Writing course. I hoped that the course would improve my practice of writing. I did not want to make what I write better. I wanted to make myself write more here. I completed that course in January 2022.

The creator of the course had gone on a trip to Bengaluru to record a few episodes of his long-form podcast. He decided that he would take this opportunity to meet a few of his course participants while he was there. This made a few Punekars jealous and who decided to have their own meetup. With or without the creator of the course.

An announcement email went out. This was followed by expressions of interest in being a part of the meetup. With or without the creator of the course. The interest swelled in the email thread. For better planning and co-ordination, a WhatsApp group was created. About twelve people joined the group.

A political and economic institution was proposed as the location of the meetup. A Sunday morning was picked for the time. The pictures on Google Maps pointed to a British-era institution. This formed the basis of my decision for going for the meet-up. Meeting interesting people would be the cream between the biscuits. I don’t like the cherry on the cake.

I went for the buildings but I enjoyed the conversation with the people more.

Coming back to the meetup.

In the early hours of the morning of the meetup, the Punekar who had been jealous and had said we should meetup pulled out because of a family emergency. A huge question mark now hung on my bedroom ceiling. Should I get up early on a Sunday morning when the meetup may involve just me?

I think only those pictures of British-era buildings pushed me out of the bed and into the bathroom. Since, you the reader, would not want to know the details of my morning constitutional, let’s skip to the drive to the location.

I wanted to tip the hat the Creator of the Course, even if he would not be coming. So, I played one of his long-form podcast episodes while Google Aunty (I picked the female voice on the app) directed me to the location.

Google Aunty took me to a location that had the board of the place where I wanted to go but road blocks so that I could not go in. This could have been one of those rides where Google Aunty would take you to the back of someone’s cattle shed. But, the WhatsApp group had warned that the front gate of the institution was undergoing renovation and an alternative gate would be available to enter into the institution.

But, to the side of the under-renovation gate, I saw the beautiful (for a Mumbaikar) parking – ergo, paid – lot. I parked there.

I spent my slow walk to the campus of the institution frustrated by a building that hid the British-era buildings that I had hoped to see. The building housed a hotel (quite a famous one, it seems), a co-working space and a few start-ups or companies.

Then, I saw the well laid-out British-era buildings with sloping red roofs. The buildings were laid out as if space was not a constraint. I think most of the expectations from the trip was met when I saw the buildings.

Of the twelve who first expressed interest and joined the WhatsApp group, the leader fell to a family emergency, a couple fell to illnesses and the rest other than the four of us who turned up there were probably sleeping a few extra hours, it being a Sunday.

We moved from the extraordinary British-era campus to an open-air hotel serving breakfast. I was slightly disappointed by this move, but as if to make up for it, we went to the hotel from a gate at the back that allowed me to explore more of the campus.

In the hotel, I heard polite conversation, friends catching up after a week away from each other, morning strollers catching up on local gossip and friends meeting up after ages. Conversations happened in English, Hindi and Marathi. I heard a few words of Kannada but that was drowned out by the other languages.

Our conversation started with which cohorts we belonged to. There was a person here from the first cohort! As if to continue the trend, she was also here in the first meetup of the alumni in Pune.

The conversation mirrored the conversation outline of the long-form podcast. We broke ice with talking about ourselves. What we did, where we came from, what we wrote, where we wrote. Then, we moved on to anecdotes from our lives that we used to make points. We used the anecdotes to discuss various issues, micro and macro.

We spoke of running, cycling, walking, tekdis not being places where we were taken to, if kidnapped; how we are able to or not able to impact the world, the difference between the ideal and the real and much much more.

If we had spoken for a couple of hours more, I am sure we could have shipped an episode of the long-form podcast. As in the podcast, I wished we could speak more.

We got up from the table having decided to leave. But, we continued talking, as we settled the bills. We even stood right in front of the bill payment desk and spoke some more. We spoke. We did not take photographs. But, then everyone had some call. We parted with half-good-byes. Perhaps, to return, to continue the conversation. The next time I come for the meetup, I will probably come for the people.

The people at the meetup encouraged me to share some of the anecdotes I had shared there. I got the feeling that I must sometimes write of the everyday. This blog post is an exercise to do this. To write about the everyday. To repeat something that I said above, and I quote:

<start quote>I went for the buildings but I enjoyed the conversation with the people more.<stop quote>.

Energy Management in COVID-19 aftermath

I wanted to intersperse how I used energy management intuitively while I was recovering from COVID-19 in my previous blog post about energy management. But, I left that out so that I can link to the post while writing future blog posts about managing with energy rather than with time.

In my blog post about COVID-19, I had shared that I felt better energy-wise only after February 8, 2022. However, this was followed by difficulty in focusing on the task and bouts of tiredness. I was not able to work beyond 2 hour chunks of time. I had trouble comparing text or reading on Indian Philosophy. I could also not read lighter non-fiction or fiction.

I decided to let the amount of energy I had decide when I worked. I put aside all other tasks and decided to do only my primary work role. I worked for two hours and then rested for half-an-hour. This has continued for the last two weeks. This meant I had to work longer to cover my 8-hour work day.

It required a lot of sleep and plenty of water to recover energy-wise. As of today, I would still say that I have recovered only 95%. I still feel bouts of exhaustion ergo I can now work for a 3-4 hour block. As I did with the 2 hour chunks, I repeated the process for the 4 hours chunk.

I think this gave me the experience of working depending on my energy situation. Although, I learnt this intuitively, Matt’s video helped me structure my practice in a much better way.

Space, Nuclear and Quantum

I recently tweeted looking out for people in the civilian nuclear energy space:

Do share any people you may know about on Twitter. Thanks in advance.

Space

India has developed reasonable capabilities in space. It is now embarking on developing a civilian space sector. In the strategic sector, India has developed a Defence Space Agency and Defence Research and Development Organisation (DRDO). It has secured communication and remote sensing capabilities.

The importance of the space sector is to continue reliable communication, navigation and remote sensing capabilities without having to depend on foreign countries. It is also to build and develop products and services in India that can be provided to the world at competitive prices.

I think we may be late on this path but we are on the right path with respect to space.

Nuclear

India needs to grow. India needs energy for this growth. Meeting these energy needs using hydrocarbons is not sustainable.

I think nuclear will form a large percentage of sustainable energy production in the country.

Quantum

Quantum is important for research and computing today. But, in the future, there will be quantum computers that will need Indian expertise to operate and program.


My understanding of Quantum and Nuclear is limited. I have not been watching these fields as closely as I have watched Space. What I have listed above are my assumptions. This is the starting point for my thinking about these fields.

COVID-19

This was initially written on February 6, 2022. Links added and post expanded with more details on February 8, 2022.

I tested positive for COVID-19 on January 26, 2022. I was fully vaccinated with COVAXIN.

I had high fever (102 degF) on January 25, 2022. Having Dolo 650 did not help in controlling the fever beyond reducing it marginally to 100 degF. I consulted with a doctor on the Government of India’s app eSanjeevani. The doctor prescribed antibiotics and suggested that I do an RT-PCR.

My wife did not sleep that night. She says she could feel me burning with fever. She then went on to apply wet cloth on my forehead to try and cool my head. Her efforts to check oxygen levels and temperature gave differing levels which increased her worry at night. I slept through this asking her not to worry. This did not help her.

The next day the fever subsided. It was followed by cold and episodic cough. But, I think the worst was the week after. I was exhausted and could not focus on anything.

Although the symptoms (including the episodic cough) subsided after a week, the exhaustion lasted till February 6, 2022. Only a lot of sleep and a lot of fluids help me overcome the exhaustion.

I spent the time watching YouTube videos of Matt Ragland. But, I slept through many of the videos. The exhaustion was a constant right through the last two weeks.

2022 – Write and Read

I had a lot of plans for 2022. Like everyone else. One thing that 2021 illustrated was not to say yes to too many things. You end up disappointing others and yourself.

This informed me when I was filling up the YearCompass and I chose to select two things to focus on for 2022. Writing and reading.

I write for a living. I write field documentation and manuals for a living. I want to practice writing more type of documents to expand my horizons. I also want to write fiction. I want to contribute by writing documentation for open source software.

But, as I shared above, I want to focus on two things at a time. I want to first improve my skills in writing field documentation and fiction.

The other thing I want to focus on, is reading. Through 2021, I had stopped reading. I could not read anything long. I wanted to get back to reading. I started by listening to the audiobook version of Dune. I followed that up by listening to the audiobook version of the Neuromancer.

Towards the end of 2021, I started reading Indian Philosophy, inspired in part by the work that Ryan Holiday does with Stoicism. So, one branch of my reading will be spent reading/listening to fiction and another reading Indian Philosophy.

2021 Status Update

My friend Saurabh introduced me to the wonders of a year-planning tool called YearCompass. I spent today filling it out with the new Kanwrite fountain pen that I got from Amazon today.

It has helped me clear many things that I want from me in the new year ahead.

I know I have not been hanging around here a lot but thanks for sticking around. I hope to see more of myself here in 2022. Wishing you all a Happy New Year.

Balcony Scenes

Pune skyline is red and purple. The city roads in the foreground. Image Credit: Pradeep Mohandas

For the past few days we have been taking pics of the horizon at sunset. We have been sharing these on my Instagram account. This one had me thinking.

The horizon is beautiful in a palette of red, blue and purple. There are several mixtures of these colours in striated layers at the horizon. There are stray clouds throughout the sky. Some are black and menacing but most are white and look almost lazy. The winds carry them.

At the level of the road, I am not sure how many notice the colours mixing on the celestial canvas. I am sure a few boys and girls look up. I am also sure a few men and women also look up. Some prodded by the aforementioned boys and girls and some of their own curiosity. Some may have looked by mistake looking for metaphors to compare their loved ones.

But the streets are busy mostly. It is full of people rushing here and there. Some scooters and bikes shuttling between traffic. A few car drivers also forget they are driving four-wheelers and not two-wheelers.

But amongst this mass of people who move like an organism, you can spot a figure or two stop. This irritates the aforementioned organism. But those that stop, look up. Some of them are looking at awe at the cosmic canvas, not able to do anything but stare. Some point their smartphones and try to capture the infinite scenes in the rectangular boundary.

Not all are satisfied. No camera seems to capture the beauty quite like their eyes.

Bookend November 2021

This is a post after a long time of no writing and no reading. This post is just to bookend things.

We drove back from Kerala in the first week of October. We moved rental houses within Pune in the last week of October. The strain of moving houses has been more mental than physical. For quite some time, I have not been able to read or write anything much. I have been much more active posting on Instagram.

I had intended to use the blog and write more seriously after putting out Pradeep’s Space Newsletter #28 on October 7. VM at The Wire Science re-published it on their website.