M is for Material

I didn’t think I cared for many things material. There’s a small wooden bird figurine I bought on a trip to pondicherry that I’ve grown extremely fond of. When its tail broke off, I remember feeling very sad. And I remember how happy I felt when I realized I could superglue it back. That’s probably one of the countable material items I care for in my life as of today.

Among the tiny list of things I care about, I did not think my kindle was among them. Nor did I think a Keychain I had as a primary would be on that list. But the old saying about knowing how much you care about things only when they’re no longer with you is true. I lost both of these items earlier this week and when constant efforts looking for them in every corner I could think of proved futile, my nonchalance of “yeah, they’ll turn up eventually” broke. And I’ve found myself thinking about them every now and then all evening. I did not know I’d miss them so much. But I do. The Keychain was a gift from a friend who’d brought it for me from China. It’s not a terribly rare Keychain, just Spiderman themed. But he’d thought about me when he saw it, enough to ping and ask if I’d like it if he bought it for me. And that act of his meant a lot to me. The Kindle was also brought for me by another dear friend from Germany and I’d taken it from him on the day of his wedding, when I’d attended it. I’m leaving out a lot of details but I guess those details are the reason I find myself regretting not being careful about these two specific items.

I don’t know if I’ll get them back. If I’ll remember suddenly with a jolt where they might be. I probably won’t. This post is acceptance of that.

But it’s good to know I care. About things people give me or make for me.

It’s a nice feeling.

And Then There Were None

I’ve tried to start this book thrice before and everytime I’ve stopped short of moving past the first chapterfor reasons I cannot remember anymore because this time, I crossed the first 20% within minutes of picking the book up. The rest of it built up in excitement and intensity with each….milestone and the crescendo culminated in a loud bang at one point (in my mind 😉 ). A childhood poem “Ten Little Indians” is used as the template around which the plot is woven, but just when it seems like things could be predictable, the story takes a turn. Now, generally, towards the 80% mark, one is able to atleast guess what the ending might be like. But this book gave away nothing till the very end and That was the most satisfying part of all, to me. There are ten characters that are of importance in this story and while none of them is memorable, all of them were extremely interesting in their presence whenever they appear. I’ve been told that this is “the Best Christie”. The description leaves a sour taste in my mouth because it makes me wonder if it’s all downhill from here, given that I’ve only read 4 other Christie novels.We’ll see! 🙂

Subjective Rating: 4.5/5

No one can write just one..word

Today (prompted by a breadcrumb of other thoughts), I found myself thinking about how Lays used to be called Ruffles Lays, atleast in India. But when I looked it up, I couldn’t find a shred of textual evidence on the Internet. Pretty much everything listed Ruffles and Lays as two separately owned brands under Pepsico.

And this wasn’t actually the first time I’d thought about this. I’d thought about it before but was just to lazy to search more and prove my memory right.

Until today –

I found this video from years ago – published 2012 , but I know it’s atleast from a decade more ago – https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=yhXog54Ipaw

that proved definitively that it used to be called Ruffles Lays !!

(Image from video)

Then came the inevitable rabbit-hole-diving that led me to reading about the supply chain journey of potatoes ending up as Lays – well, whatever’s public info anyway. Thank you Meeta Punjabi, 2015 – http://www.fao.org/fileadmin/user_upload/ivc/PDF/Asia/15_Punjabi_potato_contract_farming_for_Pepsi_India_formatted.pdf

Then there was a thought about the whole “which flavors are in India (since 1995) and which ones aren’t” and how new flavors are introduced. One of the first major introductions-in-forever came with Lays Maxx made it here in 2015 –


But there were older ones surely? When was that Caribbean flavor introduced? Wasn’t it called West Indies something? And that meant some association with Cricket…right?

I thought about this a lot before I finally hit upon 2 articles – one that proved that this flavor was atleast as old as 2012 –

a) A guy reviewed it here as received from an Indian friend of his in 2012 – http://www.thejfg.com/2012/11/23/review-lays-west-indies-hot-n-sweet-chilli-potato-chips-the-ghost-town-of-dc-black-friday/#sthash.s7KAiiqP.dpbs

b) I searched for Lays in association with flavors in 2011 after I found article (a) and this led me to finding DING DING DING


There were SIX flavors introduced as part of the World Cup 2011 promo! Each for one of the countries playing in the WC :

  • Herb ‘n’ Lime (Aus)
  • Peri Peri Sauce (SA)
  • Sweet Onion Sauce (SL)
  • Grilled Cheese (Eng)
  • Hot & Sweet Chilli (WI) aaand
  • Magic Masala (Ind)

Somehow 3 of the 6 from this list have gotten all but phased out from the Indian Market. The Grilled Cheese flavor makes an appearance every now and then, but let’s be real. It isn’t reeally going to make it back here…(awkward)…

I have never heard of Mango Mastana or Hip Hop Honey. But if either of these were on shelves I would not buy them.


2013 apparently saw the arrival of French Salt & Pepper and Chile Lemon. How are these winners of over 120 available flavors across the world?

“The company recently launched two new flavors – Lay’s Chile Limon and Lay’s French Salt & Cracked Pepper. To promote both the flavours, the brand has also launched a set of TVCs beginning with Chile Limon flavour. The Lay’s French Salt & Cracked Pepper, which will have a universal positioning would be unveiled after 20 days.”

– Prasant Naidu, 2013 – https://www.business2community.com/social-media/lays-india-announces-two-new-flavours-but-cuts-down-on-social-media-buzz-0428683

And yes, there are at least 120 flavors of Lays globally – https://taquitos.net/snack_guide/Lays_Potato_Chips… Of course, filtration was probably done by way of availability of raw product and what was Feasible to sell while making a profit. But still..come on Pepsico -.-

Also Lays, Cheetos and Uncle Chipps are All owned by PepsiCo. So next time you say “I hate Cheetos but I love Lays”, you should know that it doesn’t matter.

But you probably knew that… I didn’t.

Aug 05, 2021

There’s this thing I need to get done by August 22. A person whose inputs I’ve come to really value said I need to get the first cut by Aug 06 if I’m to realistically get the final cut by 22nd, so that gives me just a day to go.

Where I am in the process- I’m still being a little clandestine about the whole thing, so I am going to publicly talk about it in code. Maybe as a recipe for something to be baked or cooked.

So if I think of it as stages for the entire task to get done, there’s

a) Deciding the overall ingredients
b) Deciding which ingredients need to go where i.e. which ones need to be processed first and which ones follow and so on.
c) Outlining the recipe itself
d) Preparing the dish
e) And serve.

I’ve completed (a) and I’m just about done with (b) – an hour’s work should sort it. Which gives me around 40 hours to get done with (c) and (d). (e) isn’t applicable till a week later atleast.

This is good. Outlining it all down is giving me some clarity, even if it isn’t in the most explicit terms.

Alright. Game on.

Update – This did not work out the way I planned. Stashed for later implementation.

July 14 2021

Didn’t work much today. Did some stuff that was pending at home though. Had tea at an administrative office. Got extremely drenched after probably more than a year.

Oh and also started watching “The Indian Detective” starring Russel Peters late today. I’m on episode 2. It’s a cringe-y, cliched-jokes-filled piece of mindless production so far. But then again…it did make me get to episode 2 at least. The “detective”-ness is still very much in the making but Russel Peters is alright. Anupam Kher is bearable and somehow they picked all the worst Hindi speakers to speak Hindi while shooting in Bombay. Good stuff guys…

God…Is this what hate-watching is?

July 12 2021

Started learning about the Supply Chain domain today. It’s pretty interesting. I’ve worked on Time series data in the past, but to see this play out in a logistics domain is extremely fun. The thing that stuck with me the most was the realization of how complex something as trivial-seeming as an order fulfilment at McDonald’s can be – right from procurement of raw materials, all the way down to me getting my fries 5 minutes after I’ve ordered it. The course is called “Time Series Forecasting Using R” and I’m looking forward to learning more.

I also heard the soon-to-be-ex-COO of Swiggy speak about trends in the food-tech space, a podcast from 2018 but somehow seems relevant even today.

The Brandon Sanderson Checklist

Brandon Sanderson has been an absolute favorite of mine from when I first heard of him in 2018. This checklist tracks his books excluding his Graphic Novels and YA novels. I will add them to the list at some point.
How many have you read? Which ones are your favorites?

Summary :

★ – Currently reading , ✅ – Completed reading
Cosmere Books read : 7/11
Novellas read : 2/10
Legion Series Books read : 1/3

Cosmere novels

The Final Empire ✅
The Well of Ascension ✅
The Hero of Ages ✅

The Stormlight Archive
The Way of Kings ✅
Words of Radiance ✅
Oathbringer ★
Rhythm of War

Mistborn – Era 2
The Alloy of Law ✅
Shadows of Self ✅
The Bands of Mourning

Warbreaker ✅
The Hope of Elantris
The Emperor’s Soul ✅
The Eleventh Metal
Shadows for Silence in the Forests of Hell
Sixth of the Dusk
Allomancer Jak and the Pits of Eltania
Secret History
Arcanum Unbounded (Collection containing many of the above)

Legion series
Legion ✅
Legion: Skin Deep
Legion: Lies of the Beholder

The Agatha Christie Checklist

Tracking the Agatha Christie books I’ve completed because it looks like I’m invested now. How many have you read? Which ones are your favorites?

Summary :
★ – Currently reading, ✅ – Completed reading
Hercule Poirot Books read : 4/47
Miss Marple Books read : 0/12
Tommy and Tuppence Books read : 0/5

Hercule Poirot collection

Short story collections listed as “ss”

  1. The Mysterious Affair at Styles (1920)
  2. The Murder on the Links (1923)
  3. Poirot Investigates (1924, ss) ★
  4. The Murder of Roger Ackroyd (1926) ✅
  5. The Big Four (1927)
  6. The Mystery of the Blue Train (1928)
  7. Black Coffee (1930 play – novel published in 1998) ✅
  8. Peril at End House (1932)
  9. Lord Edgware Dies (1933)
  10. Murder on the Orient Express (1934) ✅
  11. Three Act Tragedy (1935)
  12. Death in the Clouds (1935)
  13. The A.B.C. Murders (1936)
  14. Murder in Mesopotamia (1936)
  15. Cards on the Table (1936)
  16. Murder in the Mews (1937, ss)
  17. Dumb Witness (1937) ✅
  18. Death on the Nile (1937)
  19. Appointment with Death (1938)
  20. Hercule Poirot’s Christmas (1938)
  21. The Regatta Mystery and Other Stories (1939, ss)
  22. Sad Cypress (1940)
  23. One, Two, Buckle My Shoe (1940) ✅
  24. Evil Under the Sun (1941)
  25. Five Little Pigs (1942)
  26. The Hollow (1946)
  27. The Labours of Hercules (1947, ss)
  28. The Witness for the Prosecution and Other Stories (1948, ss)
  29. Taken at the Flood (1948)
  30. Three Blind Mice and Other Stories (1950, ss)
  31. The Under Dog and Other Stories (1951, ss)
  32. Mrs McGinty’s Dead (1952)
  33. After the Funeral (1953)
  34. Hickory Dickory Dock (1955)
  35. Dead Man’s Folly (1956)
  36. Cat Among the Pigeons (1959)
  37. The Adventure of the Christmas Pudding (1960, ss)
  38. Double Sin and Other Stories (1961, ss)
  39. The Clocks (1963)
  40. Third Girl (1966)
  41. Hallowe’en Party (1969)
  42. Elephants Can Remember (1972)
  43. Poirot’s Early Cases (1974, ss)
  44. Curtain (written about 1940, published 1975)
  45. Problem at Pollensa Bay and Other Stories (1991, ss)
  46. The Harlequin Tea Set (1997, ss)
  47. While the Light Lasts and Other Stories (1997, ss)

Miss Marple Collection

  1. The Murder at the Vicarage (1930, Novel)
  2. The Body in the Library (1942, Novel)
  3. The Moving Finger (1943, Novel)
  4. A Murder Is Announced (1950, Novel)
  5. They Do It with Mirrors (1952, Novel)
  6. A Pocket Full of Rye (1953, Novel)
  7. 4.50 from Paddington (1957, Novel)
  8. The Mirror Crack’d from Side to Side (1962, Novel)
  9. A Caribbean Mystery (1964, Novel)
  10. At Bertram’s Hotel (1965, Novel)
  11. Nemesis (1971, Novel)
  12. Sleeping Murder (1976, Novel)

Tommy and Tuppence Collection

  1. The Secret Adversary (1922, novel)
  2. Partners in Crime (1929, short story collection)
  3. N or M? (1941, novel)
  4. By the Pricking of My Thumbs (1968, novel)
  5. Postern of Fate (1973, novel)

July 5 2021

Today, I’m experimenting with a new way of logging.

An incremental account as opposed to a summarized one at the end of the day.

Morning log – The plants did not require watering today as it rained heavily last night for quite a while. Breakfast procured, tea prepared and work has begun at an honest, early hour. A good, hopefully productive 2 hours to go before I am interrupted by other humans….unless I indulge in distracting myself before that. I also began reading my 5th Agatha Christie novel today – Poirot Investigates – Short stories involving the duo – Hastings’ and Poirot’s cases. The similarities between them and Watson and Sherlock of the Conan Doyle persuasion isn’t lost on me. But of course, this subject of comparisons has been of interest for decades to bloggers and literature students across the world. One read I found particularly interesting as I looked up the internet to support my immediately preceding comment was this – https://dirkdeklein.net/2018/04/13/when-arthur-conan-doyle-looked-for-agatha-christie/ .I must read up more on ACD’s “occultist” practices. But perhaps, that’s an activity for a later time. Off to work now.

July 4 2021

The day began with the watering of them terrace plants and flowers. I know I intended to find out the names today and have failed as expected. But now I know there’s a Hibiscus plant there, some curry leaves and one lemon plant. It’s definitely a lack of attention to detail as far flora is concerned. I’m able to appreciate the beauty en masse . It’s the individualities that is still posing some trouble. I will persevere.

The rest of the day was spent in this and that. I did however begin re-learning some Django today and I’m remembering how much fun it was the first time I was obsessed with it in 2019. Looking forward to working on what I have in mind.

Fun bit of Trivia I learnt today : The music that appears in a comedy scene in 2009 Tamil Movie “Siva Manasula Shakti” was a direct rip-off of Ashley Tisdale’s 2006 song intro – “So much for you”. Had quite the laugh when I realized.

I also made some more headway at what I’m supposed to be finishing for work. I should be done with a few more hours of work.

I Will wrap it up by tomorrow and move on to the next feature by Tuesday.