A photograph from a street at Yerevan, Armenia.

” When was the last time you listened to someone? Really listened, without thinking about what you wanted to say next, glancing down at your phone or jumping in to offer your opinion? ” – Kate Murphy

This message that I read somewhere really made me give a thought to it and decided to add my two cents to it. I did some reading on it and it can be realized that the above quote’s concern is actually pretty widespread in our day and age. It’s hard to find a good patient listener these days. Comparing to a few years back, I can relate that I really find a hard time reading a full-length editorial page or a long format post. Right after we delve in, we are constantly distracted by a notification or a call or something else of that sort. The short attention spans of people are the reason that most ads these days are very short. While exploring this theme and reading on it, I happened to read about Kate Murphy’s book titled “You’re not listening“. As she explains it, the theme is on the erosion of listening skills.  I’m yet to read it, but my initial impressions remain pretty optimistic.

“Despite living in a world where technology allows constant digital communication and opportunities to connect, it seems no one is really listening or even knows how. And it’s making us lonelier, more isolated, and less tolerant than ever before. In this always illuminating and often humorous deep dive, Murphy explains why we’re not listening, what it’s doing to us, and how we can reverse the trend. She makes accessible the psychology, neuroscience, and sociology of listening while also introducing us to some of the best listeners out there.”

In its review, The Guardian referred to it as sort of an exploration into the modern epidemic of self-absorbed talk. They tag it with

” Restaurants are noisy, social media connections are shallow, giving a TED talk is living the dream. What happened to conversation? “

She writes:

“At cafes, restaurants and family dinner tables, rather than talking to one another, people look at their phones. Or if they are talking to one another, the phone is on the table as if a  part of the place setting, taken up at intervals as casually as a knife or fork, implicitly signaling that the present company is not sufficiently engaging…people just as reflexively reach for their phones. Like smokers and cigarettes, people get jittery without their phones.”

She puts in a lot of interesting statistics and some surveys on how quality time is sabotaged by the sheer absence of listening skills. I’m yet to read the book completely and have only gone through some excerpts. As I understand from reviews, she puts in a lot of interesting suggestions to better engage in profound conversations.  I’m looking forward to reading this sometime soon. She writes in the book  “Our devices indulge our fear of intimacy by fooling us into thinking that we are socially connected even when we are achingly alone.”

Six months to live | Notes

Almost two weeks went in a blink. I couldn’t pen anything for the past two weeks. My mind was overly occupied with other professional and personal stuff that didn’t yield the notes of composure and poise that I specifically need when I write at this place. It’s like a small personally curated garden of thoughts at the border of my mind. I put my heart and soul into every little word, graphic and theme that you find inscribed here.

While looking at some of the old files on the network, I stumbled across this old book I read at school. This came out somewhere in 2001. So we are talking about a book that I read circa 18 years old!

The publisher Plough summarizes the theme of the book as below:

“I wouldn’t trade my life for anyone else’s. If I could choose not to have cancer, and continue my life as it was, I wouldn’t do it.” – Matt Gauger.

You’re twenty-two, in love, and just starting a career. The last thing you’re worried about is the purpose of life (whatever that means) and when you’re going to die. If you think about such things, you certainly don’t talk about them.

With his sociable personality and love of music and basketball, Matt had plenty of friends but didn’t really stand out from the crowd. Then, a month before his wedding, he was diagnosed with cancer. Six months later he was dead. But Six Months to Live isn’t really about dying. It’s the story of how Matt and his family and friends struggled to accept his suffering, and how it changed each of them. It’s about facing (rather than avoiding) life’s most important questions, and – instead of going through the motions – living life to the full.”

Among the books of similar themes, I’ve come across, what rapted me is how positively death was faced by the young man and the pragmatic and inspiring support system of his family and community he had embraced.  The 13-year-old me who read it 18 years ago still remembers this takeaway. True stories like this truly inspire me. If we think about it, this sort of support system is what makes our lives truly memorable. That’s some real wealth and fortune if we are blessed with it.


Sensemaking: The Power of the Humanities in the Age of the Algorithm‘ is an incisive book written by Christian Madsbjerg. I stumbled across this book during a spun-out wait at a bookstore near an airport boarding gate. The power of the Humanities in the Age of the Algorithm – Well, that caption was intellectually pretty much beefy enough for me to be riveted by the overall theme of it. I had thought about this status quo before, wherein we’re living a world where “technology dripped” people and organizational machinery slowly chip away the humanities aspects of even trivial matters. Industries and businesses heavily tend to rely on extracted data and algorithms without contemplating on the cultural nuances and the socio cultural engagement with their clients that often used to lay the foundations of such connections. While we thrive in a world of increased automation, machine learning, artificial intelligence, the importance of profound human connections and the liberal arts aspect of such engagements are often relegated to a frivolous domain. The book is straightly addressed to a worldwide audience and this can be perceived by anyone at any corner of the world. Businesses or individuals trying to develop a global engagement at a particular place with any product or service have to spend time understanding the culture of the people there to understand their preferences and the factors influencing their decision making. The author recommends to use liberal arts,  philosophy and cultural understanding as tools in developing that understanding and not to dominantly rely on clusters of data without their contextual underpinnings. We find that the author narrates through different thinking approaches like “deductive” (top down reasoning) and “inductive” (Bottom down reasoning).  The book walks us through some of the consultancy experiences that the author had with automobile companies such as “Ford“, wherein for example, a deeper understanding of the cultural preferences and nuances of customers helped them to resurrect their once failing Lincoln brand. This is one example. The author provides several compelling examples from different industries and contexts to propound his case. It’s a good insightful read if you’re interested in this sort of a theme. I’m adding some quotes from the book, which I felt was interesting.

“Over time, as management has become increasingly professionalized, you can sense a kind of nihilism or loss of meaning in the executive layers. This nihilism is strongest in large corporate cultures where management is seen as a profession in and of itself, with no strong connection to what the company actually makes or does.”…

“Without this texture of experience, the data shoved before these executives’ eyes loses any truth. Context and color are absent; all that remains are abstract representations of the world rather than the world itself.”

Quoted from “Sensemaking: The Power of the Humanities in the Age of the Algorithm” by Christian Madsbjerg.