Saturday, November 17, 2012

Doubt pe doubt, Parag doubt

How do you woo someone?
Offer them lift to office everyday?
That would be so unhealthy. Won't you rather instead walk with her to office everyday.
Do part of her office work for her?
And then cry about it all your life if you do end up with her!

So being "caring" doesn't cut it. Friends are caring, family is caring.
Caring is just a temporary band aid. A single instance of difficulty soothed by a superficial act.

Of course being funny helps. The girl finding you funny usually mean that you share some past intellectual interests. But soon you will run out of stories to tell her and she will get fucking bored of you. Unless, you have an endless supply of stories.

So what is this this business of "finding your soul mate"?
Must be something to do with completing each others sentences and deriving pleasure from doing the same things in similar ways - "Oh! once a month on a weekend we go on this log drive, bust into some elderly couple's home and suffocate them to death with a pillow and steal their dentures for our private collection. We have been married for 5 years now and tomorrow we are getting a new cupboard coz the old one has run out of space for our ever expanding collection!"

Wouldn't we all want to find our soul mates no matter what the cost?

So how do you find your soul mate?
This solution is probably impractical.
But one seemingly good way of finding your soul mate might just be "creating them".
It seems to me that there is a high probability of two people being soul mates if they grow up together. Of course it isn't a sure fire way, but being in the same physical space and environment (locality, school, college, first job) tends to nurture people similarly. Add to that a few crisis situation faced together (school project failing at the last moment, being on the college fest organizing committee, delivery deadlines at work) and the habits and thinking patterns grow even more alike. Of course you might hate to be with someone who has now grown up to think like you all the time and might feel suffocated. A few years of being away from each other and living out in the world might fix that - make you realize the need of a companion who understand and sees the world in the same way as you do.

As humans we try to take the least difficult way out.

But lets drift away from the topic now. How do you define difficult? What makes something difficult? And the why the fuck do we care?

What if I keep doing things out of my comfort zone all the time and become desensitized to what's difficult and what's not?
What if I start to wanting to be many things at once?
What if I want to be attached to someone and yet be completely alone at other times?
What if I start doubting my love for someone and yet be completely sure of what I feel at other times?
What if doubting my love leads me to doubting everything else?
What if I start doubting my doubts?
What if I doubting my doubts actually keeps me grounded in reality and fuels my thirst for knowledge and newer skills?
What if I discover my love for self, my own growth and improvement?
What if I start doing things for their own sake, striving for perfection while doing so?
What if I discover a source of unconditional love (of the nurturing type) within me?

But what if doubting my doubts is what actually makes me get up every morning and embrace the day with every fiber of my being? What if, ironically, that is what keeps from succumbing to existential crisis? What if I want to question the authority of the Creator from the Creator himself?

And what if I meet someone who wants to be many things at once, be attached to someone, be alone, doubts her love, doubts everything, doubts her doubts, grows, strives and learns to love unconditionally?

Would I recognize her as my soul mate?
Would she recognize me as her soul mate?

Would we really care?

Maybe all I need is not someone who completes my sentences, but someone who completes my questions.

Friday, November 2, 2012

Getting Vibram FiveFingers in India

Here is how to get Vibram FiveFingers in India:


  • A friend in USA or elsewhere abroad.
  • 6000 INR in your account and an international credit card.
  • 2 to 6 Months of patience.
So one of the obvious most inexpensive ways (i.e. saving shipping charges and custom duty) of getting stuff from abroad is to get one of your friends/relative to buy it there (or you can order it online and get it sent to their residence) and then get it for you in their luggage when they come visit India. But if their India visit is not scheduled in the near future, there is an alternative method you can use. Here is what I did to get my Vibram FiveFingers:

  • Wait one of the American festival days around which discounts are offered on a few selected items only. I ordered Men's Bikila around Labor's day at 40% discount (at 54 USD instead of the usual 90 USD).
  • Get the item shipped to your friend's place in USA/Canada using your international credit card. I got it shipped to my friend Sneha's place in Canada. Shipping was free for USA/Canada.
  • Write up a letter addressed to "The Office of the Commissioner of Customs (Import)" of your nearest big city in India. I addressed it to the office at the Airport Parcel Sorting Office, Mumbai. 
  • The letter should say that the value of the goods is less than 10,000 INR and is meant as a gift from your friend to you. Also specify what is actually inside the package (i.e. shoes) and attach a copy of invoice (should be addressed to your friend) along with the letter. 
  • Ask your friend to forward the shoes to you using SpeedPost (a.k.a. Express Mail Service) ensuring that the letter+invoice is attached to the outside of the package in a plastic sleeve. Use the cheapest post option to ship the shoes onwards to India. Sneha used the land express post which cost 50 Canadian Dollars (Air express post was 80 Canadian Dollars). Ensure that whatever option you use, has a online tracking feature.
Indian laws prohibit you from importing goods of value greater than 2000 INR. If you do, you will be fined and an additional flat 40%  duty will be assessed on your goods. This is totally mental, but there is a way around it. As per law, you can receive gifts from your friends abroad of value upto 10,000 INR without paying any fine or duty. One of my past experiences is recorded here.
So as an experiment, I got Sneha to ship these shoes (with the letter attached) to see if it passed smoothly through the Indian Customs . And it did. Here is my timeline.

  1. Labor Day was on Monday, September 3, 2012. I ordered the shoes on 4th September 2012 - it was still Labor Day in USA. The shoes cost me 54 USD. Two days later the charge appeared on my credit card as 3,124.32 INR. The website tells you how to measure your size while ordering.
  2. +8 days on September 12, 2012: Shoes arrived at Sneha's. She wasn't at home when they tried to deliver, so she had to got to the post office to pick them up.
  3. +10 days on September 14, 2012: Sneha Shipped them via Land Express Post for 50 Canadian Dollars (~2700 INR). They issued a standard EMS tracking number.
  4. +49 days on October 23, 2012: Post man delivered the package home at my Mumbai Residence.
While the shoes were in transit, I could track them on the CanadaPost's website as well as IndiaPost's IPS Web Tracking site. IPS Web Tracking is not the same as tracking tool on the homepage if IndiaPost. IPS Web Tracking presents a combined information from all the worlds postal services as the package makes its way to you. IPS stands for International Postal System, more information here.
Here are screenshots of tracking reports from both websites:


IndiaPost - IPS
You even get presented with a delivery certificate at CanadaPost's website
And finally the shoes, ordering them cost me a total of ~ 5800 INR, 49 days worth of patience and time (mine as well as my friend's), but in the end totally worth it:

Here is the text of the declaration letter attached to the package while forwarding to India:

Saturday, 10 September 2012

Office of the Commissioner of Customs (Import)
Airport Parcel Sorting Office, Speed Post Centre,
Opposite Hotel Sahara, Vile Parle (East), Mumbai 400099
Tel: +91 22 26156063

Dear Sir/Maam,

Sub: Declaration regarding the good in the package

The package accompanying this letter contains a pair of shoes for Mr. Anurag Chugh residing at [insert address]

The goods valued at 54 US Dollars (approximately equivalent to 3000 Indian Rupees) are meant a a GIFT for Mr Anurag Chugh. A copy of the original invoice is attached as proof of value of the goods.

I understand that as per Indian Import Laws, the receiver is allowed to receive gifts from friends abroad of value upto 10,000 Indian Rupees without imposition of any fine or custom duty. Upon arrival of the package at the Indian Customs, I hope that you will forward the package to Mr. Anurag Chugh without imposition of the same.

Thanking you

Yours faithfully

Sneha Lele

[insert address]