The Ascent

I Love You India.

Photo for  Sundara  from the Z.P. Urdu school near Palghar

Photo for Sundara from the Z.P. Urdu school near Palghar

(But please tone down the spice level on my food ;P)

On my 6th year anniversary with my wife, I flew from Toronto to Mumbai. A mere 14-hour flight… We left at 9:10pm and landed at 9:10pm. Let me tell you, that messes a brain real good!

Definitely not our most romantic one.

We did a similar thing 2 years ago when we took a 13-hour overnight train from Xian to Ba Da Ling, close to Beijing. We were cramped in a tiny section with 4 other people sitting on a flat hard bench.

So hey, compared to that one, it’s this one wasn’t that bad!

Our Airbnb host was nice enough to let us check in late in our Andheri West apartment. We had a nice chat with her and went to bed.

We were thinking of taking it slow for a few days, but Audrey ended doing a business meeting and I ran around doing some SIM card and food shopping.

Classic Danny and Audrey.

In Search Of A Co-Working Space

When we were done with our mini-vacation, I contacted WeWork Marol for a place to work. That place looks great! Unfortunately, they were full, and they had just opened 3 months ago. I inquired about the one in Koramangala in Bangalore, because I would be staying there. Full again. And same thing, it had been opened only 3 months ago.

Obviously, I was quite disappointed since I really needed a place to work from and WeWork seemed great.

But that made me realize one thing:

The Startup scene in India, and especially in Bangalore, is incredible!

I did a quick Google Maps search after hearing the Koramangala was full, because we had booked our lodging for the month there and wanted to walk to work.

Turns out there were about 20 co-working spaces there!

We didn’t settle on one until we arrived in Bangalore later.

We currently work from WeWork EGL. It’s awesome. The people working there, and from there, are great. They make my stay there very enjoyable.

I love you India.

Nice Landscapes And Smiles

5 days after we landed in Mumbai, we went to a very small village north of Mumbai called Ashte. It’s a quiet village with really nice landscapes. It’s where I got started with my photography assignment for Sundara.

It took me at least two days to get back to it. I was quite rusty.

But this all changed 3 days after when I went to shoot at the Z.P. Urdu school near Palghar.

The kids were the most amazing in the world. I don’t think I’ve ever seen so many beautiful smiles all at once.

They were genuinely happy. I don’t see that back at home. Kids in Canada are too concerned with getting toys. More toys. Always more toys. These kids played with each other and didn’t anything to have fun, smile and laugh.

It was the most fun I’ve had during a photo shoot.

I love you India.

Smily kids of the Z.P. Urdu school. Photo taken for  Sundara .

Smily kids of the Z.P. Urdu school. Photo taken for Sundara.

Brew Pubs

When we landed and arrived at our apartment in Bangalore, the first thing we did was look for a pub. We had heard Koramangala had a few.

We stumbled upon Brooks and Bonds, which had just opened recently.

It was nice!!

It had a really amazing 2-floor rooftop patio, and great pub food and beer.

The temperature in Bangalore is so nice. That pub night was one of the nicest we had in a while. That was a proper Danny-and-Audrey-style anniversary dinner!

Oh, and that was at least 3 times cheaper than Canada. So yea to that!

Yesterday we went to a place called Prost and had a delicious Red Ale and Steak. For $10 CAD. Beef is rare in India, so that was a real treat at a bargain!

I love you India.

There’s An App For That

India took Apple’s iPhone’s slogan very seriously. Especially in Bangalore. There’s an app for everything!

I haven’t cooked anything since I’m here. I’ve used Order by Zomato quite extensively, but there’s a bunch of other local apps. I have a list of 5 at least. It’s cheap, it’s good, it’s fast(ish), and there’s a lot of variety!

The PayTM app is accepted everywhere. Almost no one pays with cash. You scan the QR code and your payment is done. Simple and quick!

Ola and Uber greatly simplify transportation. I get picked up from my apartment and get dropped near my office for anywhere between $0.50 to $0.80. The return is more tricky because of traffic (which is quite insane…), but an Uber Pool costs me $0.80, door to door. Sometimes it takes 30 minutes.

Dunzo.in is something I really want to use. You have things you’d like to get done by someone else? Just pay them to do it for you for insanely cheap. It works for repairs, shipping, buying, home services, etc.

India, your use of technology is probably the best I’ve seen in the world. Your innovations never cease to amaze me.

I love you India.

Staying Long Term

Initially, I was thinking of staying about 3 months in India. I strongly considering changing my mind and staying longer.

I initially wanted to go to New York City after. I wanted a vibrant, hectic city where everything is fast-paced and everyone works hard.

And that’s what I found here in Bangalore.

Excellent startup vibe, great food, great prices, nice people, nice co-working spaces, perfect use of technology and innovation.

India, especially Bangalore, you’ve won my heart and beat NYC as the place I want to stay most currently.

So India, I love you!

Thanks for reading and sharing! :)

First published here: https://theascent.pub/i-love-you-india-582fb9fd2c96

Everyone Seriously Should Visit Canada In Winter

Photo by  Owen Farmer  on  Unsplash

Photo by Owen Farmer on Unsplash

It’s 7pm, just 4 hours after my plane landed in Montreal. I just came back from an hour-long walk outside, in the dreadful Canadian cold.

Before coming back inside my hotel, I touched my beard, as bearded dudes do for no reason. It was covered in ice. And it’s not even that cold today. I think it’s -8 degrees Celcius.

Trust me, for February in Canada, that’s warm. Like… t-shirt weather!

I came inside and immediately the ice melted and I was wet like a dog. And I hadn’t showered for about 24 hours, so I probably smelled like one too. If there had been people around when I walked, I’m sure they would have spared a coin thinking I was a homeless person.

Anyway, I had to dry my beard with a towel.

This is kind of a shock to me. I’ve been away from Canada for a while so this is not normal for me anymore.

I don’t know where you’re reading this from, but I know this is not normal for a lot of people out there too.

I’ve traveled to many countries over the last 3 years, and I’ve never seen anything else like a Canadian winter.

Twelve hours ago, I was in a dorm room in an apartment in Málaga. It was 17 or 18 degrees. Fast-forward to 12 later and I was looking down by the window from the airplane.

All I saw was white. White everywhere! And it wasn’t even snowing, it’s just that it snowed a lot this winter apparently.

Gone were the palm trees, the beaches and the mountains.

I had to face reality.

The truth is, I didn’t want to come back. I was scared of the Canadian winter. Everyone is, outside of Canada.

I was afraid of the -30 degrees. The slippery roads. The prices.

But I had things to look forward to. Like seeing my family, my friends, and most importantly, my wife. Long story short, because of her work, we haven’t seen each other for 6 months. Kind of. She had a week off in between so we were together during that time.

But to my surprise, I actually enjoy it right now.

Canada is cozy.

Canada is different. Even the language is different, at least in Québec.

In my flight from Málaga to Montréal, most people spoke French. Yet, if you’re not used to the accent, you seriously doubt that it’s French they’re speaking.

It’s my native language yet I’m always taken aback when I hear it. I spoke Spanish and English for the past 3 months. When I travel, I mostly speak English. If I meet French people abroad, I tone down my accent so they understand me. And that my friends, is fucking exhausting. It’s much easier for me to speak English then fake a French accent I don’t have.

Truth be told, some of my new French friends don’t even know I speak French. It’s too much effort making them understand me so I speak English. Shame on me.

When you arrive at the airport, you hear music in Quebecois. You get in a taxi and you hear music in Quebecois. People listen to music from here.

Where else do you see such cultural identity. Everywhere in the world they just play top American music. Or reggaeton in Spain.

When you stay in your country for so long, you don’t realize the things that make it different, the things that make it worth visiting for an outsider.

People are scared of the Canadian winter, but man, it’s the best time to come. It will shock you. You’ll be born again. You’ll have experienced one of the harshest winters in the world, yet you’ll realize it’s not even that bad.

There are so many cool things to do in winter here.

Have you heard of snowshoeing? It’s awesome.

  • Dogsled?

  • Ski-doo?

  • Ice fishing?

  • Sugar Shack?

And the food too. Though not directly related to winter, have you heard of:

  • poutine?

  • smoked meat?

  • paté chinois?

And that, for sure you heard, but we’ve got Maple Syrup. Like a shit-ton of it in winter! It’s the main reason to go to the sugar shack I mentioned above.

Oh, and we give out free water at restaurants. Just saying.

But I confess, the reason I was walking for an hour was not to experience the cold, it really was just to find the nearest poutine place… not joking…

But in doing so I realized if you’re not from a Nordic country, but even then, there are tons of reasons to come to Canada, and especially in winter. It brought me back to my roots and suddenly feel proud of it.

So there you have it folks. Come to Canada before winter ends!

Author’s Note

Hey guys, I know this is a different style of story than usual, but I hope you still enjoyed it.

The lessons here are:

  1. dare go outside your comfort zone, and

  2. appreciate what you have.

Thanks for reading and sharing ! :)

First published here: https://theascent.pub/everyone-seriously-should-visit-canada-in-winter-2b333ffcc040

You Are, Or Will Become What You Listen To

Photo Credit: https://unsplash.com/photos/1oKxSKSOowE

Photo Credit: https://unsplash.com/photos/1oKxSKSOowE

What do you listen to?

Think about that while reading this story.

The other day I wrote: You Are, Or Will What You Read. The idea came to me when a reader of my other stories said she was inspired by what I wrote.

I then realized how much I was also inspired by many other writers and had become what they write about, simply by continually reading their stories.

Last night, as always, I was listening to a podcast on the way home from work. The guest speaker was talking about morning routines, diet, workout, being curious, learning new things, etc.

And everything he said, I was nodding to semi-frantically, probably looking like a deranged person. Or maybe people just thought I was listening to really awesome music!

It’s then I realized that not only did I become what I was reading, but also what I listen to.

Podcasts

Photo Credit: https://itunes.apple.com/nz/podcast/the-tim-ferriss-show/id863897795?mt=2

Photo Credit: https://itunes.apple.com/nz/podcast/the-tim-ferriss-show/id863897795?mt=2

About three years ago, I followed a program by Tai Lopez called the 67 Steps. He has since become a controversial person, but his discoveries in the 67 Steps were good. They put me in the right mindset for wanting to change.

Every day, I would listen to one of the Steps while walking to and from work. I did that for about 3 months.

More recently, I’m listening to The Tim Ferriss Show. For those who don’t know the show, Tim is interviewing incredible people in all sorts of fields, ranging from a sex worker to top politicians, and everything in between.

The magic of that show is that each person is so different that you see other perspectives on the same subject. That is very much on purpose. Tim asks the same questions to each person, then adds other more personal questions. He makes them all expose their vulnerabilities and it’s very enriching.

I also started listening to The School Of Greatness, by Lewis Howes, based on a recommendation from a friend. That friend is a fascinating person and I understand how now after listening to what he listens to.

The great thing about podcasts is that you can listen to them whenever you’re doing mundane tasks, like walking to and from work, brushing your teeth, washing the dishes, etc.

I also find that hearing the person’s voice helps it give it more personality and depth as opposed to reading.

Music

Song: Impossible, Album: Unleashed:  https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=6qTghUgMOeY

Song: Impossible, Album: Unleashed: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=6qTghUgMOeY

Turn up the volume, close your eyes and let the music take over your soul. — http://kushandwizdom.tumblr.com/

I have particular tastes in music. I listen mostly to a variety of metal genres, but the music that inspires me the most is Epic music.

People find that funny. But it works. It puts me in the mood to accomplish things that are out of my comfort zone. I feel more powerful, both physically and mentally.

Anyone else listens to Epic music?

If you watch TV shows like Masterchef, you know the kind of music I’m talking about. You see epic music in trailers and movies all the time. Sometimes in video games as well.

Currently, I’m listening to a lot of Thomas Bergersen and Hans Zimmer. Thomas is one of the two composers from Two Steps From Hell. Hans Zimmer is best known for almost all the best compositions in Hollywood. These two composers are so inspiring to me. Feel free to try out my Thomas Bergersen playlist on Spotify here.

For me, combining violin and french horn just gets me emotionally. By having no lyrics as well, it helps me get into flow state. I can code for hours. I can lift weights longer. I can do more push-ups, etc.

When I listen to epic music, I feel epic.

I know my wife sometimes fuels on songs with powerful, uplifting lyrics. It works for a lot of people. If anyone has good examples of songs with powerful lyrics, feel free to share in the comments.

People Around You

When people talk, listen completely, most people never listen. — Ernest Hemingway

Who do you listen to the most? Who do you go to for advice? Why do you go to them for advice?

Think about that for a minute.

When I think about that, my wife comes to mind immediately. In my mind, she’s so much smarter than me. I go to her for advice on many things. She’s not afraid to tell me the truth. I trust her.

Who tells you the brutal truth? Trust these people. Listen to them.

She does things I want to do. On many points, I want to become her. Listening to her advice is a first step towards that.

When it comes to writing, I listen to the writers around me. People who do it professionally.

When it comes to working out, I listen to people with a similar body type, but have reached the goals I’m looking for. There’s quite a few of them at the gym.

Hear their journey. No one gets to where you want to be without breaking a sweat. Think of them as mentors. Listen to their advice.

Conclusion

Pause for a minute. Take this opportunity to think about what and who you listen to.

Do you see they shape the person you are today or will become tomorrow, just like reading books or Medium stories?

If you don’t currently listen to uplifting podcasts and music, I strongly encourage you to do so. If you don’t listen to other’s advice, please start now.

All that puts you in the right mindset for improving yourself. Improving your life.

What podcasts do you listen to?

What music do you listen to?

Who do you listen to?

Have you become what you listen to? Do you aspire to become what you listen to?

Keep listening to what inspires you and you will become inspiring yourself.

You can do this!

Thanks for reading! :)

First published here: https://theascent.pub/you-are-or-will-become-what-you-listen-to-558532e80bfe

A Single Mom, Strawberries and Rain — A True Story About Real Hard Work And Perseverance

Step 1: A Single Mom

My three brothers and I grew up in a poor family, raised by a single mom. My mom was always working really hard to make sure we always had food and a roof over our heads. She would always find ways to give us gifts on our birthdays and at Christmas. But apart from that, we couldn’t get any luxury.

Because of that, I had every reason to want to chase money. To want to end this “miserable” life.

The thing is, I never actually cared for money. Strange isn’t it?

Step 2: Strawberries

It’s made stranger by the fact that I started working on the farm (strawberry picking) when I was 8 years old. I was getting paid by productivity. The more baskets I filled, the more money I made.

By the age of 12, I was one of the best, if not the best. Jealous kids thought I was cheating, grown-ups looked up to me. And that’s what I cared for. Being treated like a grown-up and learning from them. I was hanging out with people 3–4 times my age. Even today, I have much deeper conversations with people who are older than me.

But back then I was a kid. I had not realized the truth of it. I thought I was doing it for the money. Heck, I remember that summer when I was 11 years old. I had bought a 27 inch TV (back then, that was impressive), a Playstation, a surround sound system and tons of games. When other kids told me their parents bought them a Playstation, I was so much more proud to say to I had bought my own.

The truth is, that money and what I bought back then is long gone. Long gone.

What is not gone are the lessons and skills I learned so early in life: Working hard (as if I couldn’t bring food on the table), perseverance, waking up early, listening to “mentors” and more.

“Become a millionaire not for the million dollars, but for what it will make of you to achieve it.” — Jim Rohn

Back when I was the king of the field, I didn’t make the most money because I chased it, but because I aimed for excellence. I worked harder than the rest, I woke up earlier than the rest, I listened to advice and I showed up consistently. Rain or shine, literally.

Money was more of a metric. Like a scale when you work towards gain or losing weight. It was a good way to gauge if my learning was progressing or not.

Step 3: Rain

I met my wife in the strawberry fields when she was 15 years old. We had plans to go out to the movies and to the restaurant with friends for her 16th birthday.

I remember that day so well not because it was magical or anything, but because it was a *shitty day (pardon the term). It was down-pouring rain, but our boss would not allow us to stop. There was at least 10 cm of rain on the ground and we were all down on our knees picking the strawberries up. Definitely no enjoyable experience. For a normal person.

While most gave in and left, I was still there picking strawberries. Remember, rain or shine. I had to brave this rainstorm. If my mom could raise four brats by herself with nothing, there’s no way that rainstorm would win against me! My memory may serve me wrong here, but I think I had a record day that day.

Lessons Learned

And this is how I approach life. It took me years to realize it, but now I get it. Real hard work and perseverance matter. That is how you reach your craziest goals.

I’m leaving you with great quotes that resonate with the lessons I learned from these early experiences:

There’s no substitute for hard work — Thomas A. Edison

Great works are performed not by strength but by perseverance — Samuel Johnson

“…I am not afraid of storms, for I am learning how to sail my ship.” — Louisa May Alcott

“No one succeeds without effort… Those who succeed owe their success to perseverance.” — Ramana Maharshi

Thanks for reading! :)

First published here: https://theascent.pub/a-single-mom-strawberries-and-rain-a-true-story-about-real-hard-work-and-perseverance-12f3ecb99145