My recovery

Wanted to quickly share my post concussion recovery experience. I am fully aware that many many folks around me have suffered bigger injuries & are going through greater pains. (As a matter of fact my grandma has been bedridden for more than year after a head injury). My injury is fairly minor. My pain so far has been manageable. I did not have any clots, did not have any internal bleeding (only external & minor bruising of the brain). This post is not about how great my suffering is (it is not that big a deal actually). I am writing this mainly as a way to document my symptoms and also to answer questions from well wishers. Often times when people ask how am I feeling, I freeze..can't think of a few words at a stretch to coherently describe how I feel.

It has been 3 months since the fall and I continue to have the below symptoms. The good thing is, a month or so ago all these symptoms were far more severe. Nowadays they are less so.


The double segregation

Growing up in India, I had seen a lot of black superstars & achievers represent the US of A. Images of Michael Jackson (MJ), Michael Jordan (MJ), Magic Johnson (another MJ :-)), of Oprah and numerous Olympic medalists, numerous superstars from sports, arts, media & a whole lot of other fields…they all seemed black. Growing up, seeing all these flag carrying stars, I assumed that African Americans dominate the American society.

And then as a grown up, I emigrated to the US in my mid-20s and saw something totally opposite on the ground. At first it was puzzling, then a bit unsettling and these days it is disturbing & bothering me enough to actually write about it. It took me a good half-a-dozen or so years to believe what I saw when I came here, to unlearn all the assumptions & impressions that were formed in my childhood years.

We still have those super stars out there but by & large, the minority communities, particularly blacks & Latinos are so rarely seen in good schools, in good jobs & in the so called good neighbourhoods. What saddens me more is that I see this in the biggest melting pot of all – NYC. [here is a recent study that says NYC schools are the most segregated!]

More interestingly, immigrants who moved into the US from all parts of the world sometimes exacerbate the issue. One would expect them to be a lot more open minded than otherwise. But what I often see is the opposite. They are too keen to learn the way things work in the host country & rapidly assimilate all their biases. Mainly because they don’t want to risk standing out anymore than they already do. One area where I often see this play out is the neighbourhoods they choose to buy their homes & the schools they choose to send their kids.

This is the other segregation that has been a culture shock to me since we started our research to buy a home. Again, coming from India where one can see the extremely wealthy & the extremely poor living right next each other & being comfortable with it, the concept of having neighbourhoods strictly defined by household income/wealth & home sizes baffles me. Just as how foreigners visiting India are shocked by the coexistence of wealth & poverty and the perceived apathy, I am shocked by the economic segregation of society in the Americas, particularly in the suburbia.

I have always believed that you earn what you earn, I earn what I earn. Doesn’t mean we cannot live next to each other, doesn’t mean our kids cannot play together in each other’s homes or even the neighbourhood playground. The way the societies have evolved in the US, particularly in the suburbs does not encourage or permit interaction across the different strata of the society. Each section lives in its own segregated, isolated bubble.
In this aspect though, NYC is much better than most parts of the country in breaking down these barriers.

I have been thinking about these issues long & hard for months if not years. I have been bothered by many associated issues (that I have not written or talked about yet). However, I hesitated bringing them up all these days mainly because:
  • There is probably not much that is new here although I might offer a different viewpoint.
  • I don’t have a full handle of this really complicated issue. This issue in truth is beyond my ken.
  • I am not offering any solution.

And also because I feared that this might seem like an attack on the American society as well as fellow immigrants....while it is not! This is not an attack on the society. This is an attack on a particular issue in the society.
I can think of 100s of things that the US is great at. I can think of  another 100 reasons why I choose to live here. But when it comes to the above mentioned double segregation, I am definitely saddened and shocked. Shocked since my impressions as an outsider (on race) & my very different worldview (on income/wealth) are at odds with what I see day-to-day.


email experiment - my newest experiment at work

In the past, I have shared some of my workplace experiments such as this and this. Here is one more...my newest experiment at work: The email diet!

The topic of emails & how they get out of control & drive us to insanity came up during year end performance reviews. I strongly believe that our workdays should flow based on some pre-determined, clearly defined priorities an not get pulled into 100 different directions by the 100s of emails coming our way. As I was lecturing on how one should not let the emails dictate the flow of our work day, this idea came to my mind. I decided to give it a try, have been implementing it for over a month now & am loving it! This diet has indeed made a noticeable difference to my workdays.


Social mobility vs social connection

Recently a friend of mine commented how "Khmer people live with the most basic of amenities, and they are the 3rd happiest people on the planet. How is it that the rest of us have designer clothes and luxury cars and still be grumpy all the time?".

Sentiments like these, we hear too often..

Also recently, as I was chatting with a few other friends of mine, I saw a theme emerge in those conversations... which was the exact other side of the above coin!
Some of these friends moved in a deliberate attempt to pursue better opportunities, more professional, material success, to make it "big" and all of them were generally disappointed with the inability to make meaningful social connections wherever they landed. Some blamed it on their age/life stage and others on the culture of the new place.

Connecting the two, I have come up with a hypothesis and also a simple mathematical logic that supports the hypothesis.


Illustrating the power of Friendship Paradox

It is no secret that I have come to love this theory a lot. I have been having conversations around this topic with my friends & family. While they seem to understand it, I was not sure if they share my level of appreciation for it.  

And hence, I have come up with an example to illustrate the exponential power & beauty of network topology - the friendship paradox. An imaginary story like illustration inspired by something I saw on TV...