An Ode to The Street-Savvy Characters of The White Lotus (No Spoilers)

In The White Lotus S2, there are only two types of people – the ones who are street-smart and the ones who are not.

The street-smart ones know how to get their way, even if it’s through unethical means like manipulation, lying, and deceit. “How do you sleep well at night knowing you did this?” doesn’t apply to them. They sleep quite well because, in their world, happiness is correlated with survival, satiation, and goals, not empathy. Due to this, their conscience is clear.

In the real world, we often come across such multi-layered people. The outer layer may be enticing, but the inner layers are complex and dark. It is next to impossible to decode the various layers someone may possess. This is where you take that leap of faith and hope they are worth trusting.

When we get duped, we try to find relief in the thought that the culprits will live their lives in guilt. Or hope karma will eventually get them. Often, it never happens. And that’s what the White Lotus S2 shows – the brutal reality of it all. No one is shown guilty. Or maybe they do, for a second, before the realization dawns on them that their dreams have now been fulfilled. They walk into the sunset hand-in-hand with their partners-in-crime, forgetting the sins of the past and awaiting a sparkling future.

The naive ones, who say and do all the right things, get played and left behind. The only positive aspect of their experience is that they are one step closer to being streetwise.

When the good guys lose, you understand that the universe doesn’t owe anyone anything. It’s up to each of us to subject ourselves to vast experiences and come out of them better equipped to deal with the eccentricities of the world.

An Ode to My Favorite Products of 2022

Since the year is almost over, I thought I would take a moment to list my favorite products of 2022. Purchases that have improved my life, delicacies I enjoyed, and things that exceeded my expectations.

Most of these products are only available in India. Still, you might want to check out your local Amazon website to see if you get anything similar.

I don’t plan to get into many technical details about these products, as that’s not the intention. It is merely a list of products I loved this year and my brief thoughts on each. I consider them excellent, unconventional gifts as well that are not just easy on the eyes but functional and useful.

1. Atomberg Ceiling Fan – Renesa

This was the first purchase of the year that I absolutely loved. Atomberg ceiling fans have created quite a reputation in a short time. The sleek ceiling fans have been developed by two IIT geniuses. Atomberg fans are entirely manufactured in India. The Renesa variant comes with blue night lights and a remote control that would be useful during those cold, chilly nights. You can easily switch off the fan without leaving the comfort of your bed. It is also said to be energy-efficient, but honestly, I haven’t been keeping track. My electricity charges appear more or less the same because I often use my air-conditioner.

2. Mi Robot Vacuum Cleaner

I purchased the Mi Robot Cleaner during the online sale season. I got it for around 5-6k rupees cheaper, so I recommend you wait for a sale before buying this product. After a lot of introspection, I decided to buy the robot vacuum because I honestly couldn’t find the time to clean every day. I needed help. The vacuum cleaner took some time to adjust to my 2 bedroom-kitchen apartment. It would spin round and round till it would find its way. Give it a few weeks to a month to completely adjust to your home. Note: It would gobble up anything that comes in the way, so I recommend keeping your charging cables and small items away.

3. Yogabar Wholegrain Breakfast Muesli

The dark chocolate and cranberry version felt like love at first taste for me. I am not much of a Muesli fan, but I was mildly surprised by how good this one tasted. It’s a must-buy for all dark chocolate and cranberry fans. The Yogabar Protein Bars are also a favorite (especially the dark chocolate variant).

4. Laneige Lip Mask

My lips tend to get very dry, and no lip balms or chapsticks helped. Laneige lip masks were a savior. Apply a thick coat at night and rub it off in the morning. You will be surprised by how soft and subtle your lips are. The plus point is your lips do not get “addicted” to the mask, as in your lips won’t become drier after a few hours. It has a healing effect, unlike most lip balms/masks that tend to make your lips smoother only superficially.

5. Home Plus Magic Atta Kneader

This appliance is most suited for people who don’t like kneading or who cannot knead due to some ailments. Add 2 cups of the dough and mix it with one cup of water. Run for 30 seconds, and you’re done. We prefer adding oil to the mixture to prevent the dough from getting sticky.

6. Girnar Detox Kahua

I just cannot get enough of this green tea. I have lost the number of times I repurchased it this year. It has a spicy, warm taste that can destress you instantly. Usually, we associate green tea with a bland, sour taste (at least I do). I wasn’t much of a green tea fan, but Girnar Kahwa changed everything. In fact, it’s the only green tea I like.

7. Palmer’s Cocoa Butter Daily Skin Therapy Solid Formula

Whenever my skin gets extra dry, I reach out for my Palmer’s cocoa butter cream tub. It comes in a sold consistency, and you must warm it up between your hands before applying. It lives up to its name – it’s definitely healing and therapy for the skin.

8. Women’s Horlicks (Caramel)

I bought the malted milk drink not for its nutritional value but out of curiosity. I remembered having Horlicks as a kid and was intrigued by the new women’s version in the market nowadays. I was pleasantly surprised by its soothing taste.

9. Loyka Almond Brittles

Almond brittle is a type of confectionery. It is made by mixing caramelized sugar with almonds, then spreading the mixture thinly on a surface until it hardens. It has a crunchy texture, complemented by a sweet, nutty flavor. I absolutely loved this particular almond brittle from Loyka.

An Ode to Dealing with Tough Managers

Photo by Jonathan Borba

Recently, I posted being concerned about my performance appraisal this year as the previous ones did not go well. I have some news to share – I finally got good feedback! This is a reason to celebrate, as my head was clouded with self-doubt over the past year, and I questioned my work quality. “This is the only type of work I believed I was good at. Am I not as good as I think?

When managers take time to appreciate your work, your confidence hits a different level. It’s the type of reassurance every hard-working employee deserves.

Needless to say, I am over the moon. If you had gone through my past appraisal posts, you would know how distraught I was. I gave it my best this year and wondered if it would be enough as my confidence was quite shaken. But it ended well (this year, at least). Now, the challenge is to maintain this level of performance.

I am not exactly sure what I did right this year, but I am sharing one key takeaway.

I know the internet is filled with advice on avoiding interacting with difficult managers as much as possible. I did this initially. I was intimidated by my managers and found it challenging to reach out to them. They weren’t particularly friendly either. So my solution was to avoid them. My advice is: don’t.

Try increasing your interactions with them to a point you no longer feel intimidated by their presence. I started asking questions regularly, reaching out for discussions, and becoming more proactive. Initially, it felt tough, as anyone would feel uncomfortable interacting with someone who intimidates them. But then, things started getting better. My fear was gone as I trained myself to approach them more. This helped me ask better questions and seek their help if needed. This, in turn, improved my work.

I realized they weren’t criticizing me on purpose. I did lag in some areas. When you are only given negative feedback, your first impulse is to escape. I almost thought about quitting, thinking maybe they disliked me for other reasons.

At this point, I can’t help but think how many employees must have quit their jobs because they couldn’t take criticism. We see posts about “work where you will be appreciated.” Sometimes, we need to take time to reflect on whether it is really them who should work on appreciating us or if it is actually us who need to make improvements.

Yes, some managers will not like you or your work, no matter how hard you try. You need to change your job for peace of mind in such cases. But often, that’s not the issue. Sometimes we overthink and overanalyze things and make decisions on the spur of the moment. Like quitting. When we quit, we stop ourselves from learning from our mistakes.

Learning only happens when someone points out the areas you need to improve. Some managers communicate this empathetically and effectively, but some might take a different route.

Not every manager excels at communication. As long as a supervisor doesn’t abuse or resort to toxic, manipulative techniques, employees should reflect on what is needed, reach out, ask questions, and work accordingly.

I Created 3 Bank Accounts To Manage My Finances. Here’s How It Went.

Photo by Expect Best

I first read Monika Halan’s Let’s Talk Money a year back. In the book, she talked about the importance of having 3 bank accounts to manage finances.

  • Income Account – This account can be where you receive your salary, rental income, cash gift, etc.
  • Save-it Account – The second account is for saving/investing. Keep in mind not to transfer any amount from this account to your spend-it account later on. This account is for saving, not spending.
  • Spend-it Account – The final account is for managing your expenses.

Monika Halan instructs you to transfer a part of your income every month, without fail, to your spend-it and expense accounts. This enables you to have a hands-free approach to managing finances.

Previously, I had two bank accounts and felt it was more than enough – until it became difficult to track my expenses. I used to micromanage my finances through an Excel sheet. After much introspection, I realized it would be much easier to have a separate account for expenses alone. Another reason was that I realized I was being extra stingy because I couldn’t properly track and compartmentalize my money. That’s right. I did not know how much I was spending, so my solution was to spend less. I decided to start a new bank account to give myself a breather.

My first two accounts were in a public bank (my income and spend-it accounts). I decided to try a private bank next. I wanted a bank with good customer support and technology, and I ended up going for a digital-friendly bank. The account opening was entirely online. You have almost every bank in India with a digital onboarding process nowadays. You can open an account within hours. I sat through a video-KYC process, and that was it. The welcome kit, containing the debit card and checkbook, was mailed to my address in a week.

Now that my expense account was in place, I slowly started transferring my expenses to my account each month, which was 40-50% of my income. I wasn’t restricting myself from spending what I could anymore. I could see I had the budget for it in my expense account.

The thing with being in a perennially “saving” mode is that you forget to indulge and pamper yourself. So having a third account helps. My expense account is also connected to UPI, and I use it for all my POS transactions, ATM withdrawals, automatic subscriptions, etc. The funds are deliberately kept limited in this account to ensure I would not lose any part of my savings in case of any online/offline security breaches. Would I recommend the three-bank approach to managing your finances? Definitely, it has made my job easier.