update #41: hamburg & cologne 🇩🇪 and two books

kochland & the mastermind

this is just a regular update as i remain nomadic for the rest of the year for family and friends. it’s often unstructured and without a narrative.

where am i at the moment: copenhagen, denmark 🇩🇰

last week was a little different. departing from my usual explorations i checked out the biggest food fair in the world in cologne for a couple days. it was fascinating to walk through a trade fair striking up conversations with business people from around the world as the showcased their work and hoped to do business development. often times they were a part of their countries delegation and provided insight into the offline world of business growth and partnerships. enjoyed this opportunity and the plenty of food I got to taste. i’d recommend attending a food fair if you haven’t attended on before. I didn’t attend this from a business perspective but mainly as a tourist and it was such a different way to spend a couple days, ha! below is a photo with a chef from orkide selling their sunflower oil.

post cologne, I headed to hamburg which has many wonderful coffee shops and beautiful running routes. the joys of being by the water are beyond compare. it rained through my entire time there but i got to enjoy a lot of great vegan food too :) my time in germany was less than a week and mostly a gateway to make it to denmark which is where i’m at now. the eurocity journey from Hamburg to copenhagen contains a unique experience: the loading of a train onto the ferry from the border crossing which is a departure from the usual busses cars, and bikes which are loaded to transport people over water. glad i’ve got that one in the books.

talking about books: i finished two books that i’d recommend.

kochland: the rise and rise of the koch family and how they masterfully grew their businesses and cemented their stronghold over commodity businesses, politics, and employee unions in america.

the mastermind: rise of an obscure and misfit internet entrepreneur and eventual global cirminal drug lord, paul le roux, born in zimbabwe and based in the phillipines who built his success on the enablement & rise of america’s opiod epidemic (built the Shopify for painkillers is a cruse way of putting it) and penchant for building morally bankrupt businesses in unforgiving geographies. his empire has all but collapsed while he appears to be getting away with it all through his cooperation with the government.

what’s striking in both cases is the ability to entirely control their private organizations and distinctive management philosophies employed. they also make you think about the kind of goals & principles you want your organization and the path it takes to achieve and enforce them. my mind is still racing in so many directions but both books provide awareness about the limits of taming global corporations that tread the law and exert significant control over the politik (including presidents elected in both countries).

now, i’m excited for the next week in copenhagen.

update #40: a wonderful week in paris

this is just a regular update as i remain nomadic for the rest of the year for family and friends. it’s often unstructured and without a narrative.

where am i at the moment: cologne, germany

being in Paris this last week has been a blast for so many reasons: the place i was staying, the great food, and bike-friendly streets to explore.

generator hostels: what a wonderful place to stay. also, it’s a wonderful business that was recently sold in a $400mm transaction to a london based pe shop. as far as hostels go this was definitely the most modern and friendly hostel i’ve stayed at this year. from the interior decor, to the cafe & car, to the high-speed wifi & rooftop views it hit all the right marks. if you get a chance, i’d recommend you stay at one of them especially if you want to have a lot of ephemeral interactions.

vegan food: where do I even begin. think my two favorite spots are cliché but deserve every bit of praise: hank burger and hollybelly. the former specializes in vegan burgers and the latter is a breakfast favorite (see above photo 🤤). i went back to both for a second time with a week 😳 overall, I probably tried 5 new vegan restaurants and only have strong recommendations for all of them. the city is a vegan’s delight.

biking + exploring: everyone always talks about how europe is decades ahead of the rest of the world but it’s true. i did almost all of my exploration via a combination of lime or jump. yes, it’s more expensive than public transit but significantly more fun. it also doesn’t feel unsafe when biking around…almost never in fear of being run over. this trend has continued as i’ve made my way to germany fwiw

i think the hardest part of my time in france was the language barrier but barring that 10/10. can’t wait to be back here.

see you next week!

update #38 & 39: india

a combined update

this is just a regular update as i remain nomadic for the rest of the year for family and friends. it’s often unstructured and without a narrative.

where am i at the moment: bangalore, karantaka

as soon i landed, I headed to my first cricket game in a long long time. sadly though I had the privilege of watching india lose to South Africa in the final t-20 match of the tournament.

it was a also pleasure to be back home in time to celebrate my dad’s birthday last week for which we did our usual multi-hour dinner as is customary for birthdays (family photo minus 1 vj below). i am so grateful for so much my parents have done and after being not so good about coming home for the last few years i’m trying to make it home to spend many key moments as i can.

timezones: the biggest adjustment, however, of being back tend to be adjusting the sleep patterns to match a different timezone (usually either pst or est). as always this has had a noticeable impact on my eating habits, sleep, and mood :/ it’s a difficult trade-off but one i tend to make.

in a world where we talk more and more about distributed workforces, i think timezones remain a non-trivial obstacle for building teams where geography doesn’t matter. it’s an idealistic goal imo and one that’s not worth it in the fullest meaning. from my experience (<1 year) it’s been best to work with folks an at most a 5-hour difference in timezones. if you’ve worked on a remote team, i’d love to hear more about your experience overall but also on the topic of timezones.

purpose: being back home also always gets me to question what i am working and why. it’s always such a good time to reflect on what do you want without being caught up in the madness of everyday. life goes over at a different pace for me and always gives me the opportunity to ponder. now’s a good time as ever to think about this.

where i’m going next: heading to paris this week. as always please send me your recommendations for things to do, places to eat at, and people to meet!

some more thoughts: i wrapped up this past week getting to be in Bombay to see a political leader who’s in charge of the the road transport, highway, and shipping as well a small & medium businesses speak.

some key points for the plans to drive growth in the country to become a $5t economy via areas he can have an impact on were:

  • increasing the rural spending power via incentives for non-agricultural job creation not near urban centers

  • reducing transport costs via new highways across the country (& potentially water ways too)

  • increasing access to lower-cost capital markets for non-large cap companies via reduced friction to go public

  • subsidizing any manufacturing that’s focused 100% on exports, & lastly

  • reducing india’s dependence on importing oil (more geopolitical than growth related imo)

many of the above can be found as key points in 1) studwell’s book of how asia works where growth models across the asian continent are dissected (eg. export focused subsidies) and 2) zeihan’s book the accidental superpower which includes themes of what’s made countries successful (eg. transport cost advantages). india’s fared well over the last few decades but a lot of the above will be critical for the next one to be even better. hopefully, it’ll help lift the last few hundred million or so out of poverty and help in building the foundation for many successful businesses.

leaving the above aside as they are a lot are good plans for the future waiting to be executed, i’m still quite optimistic about the prospects of the country as it’s already become a better place to live for nearly all sections of the society (except for some — topic for a different post). the changes are stark since 2011-12 which is when I last spent any meaningful time here and cannot wait to see where it goes.

see you next week!

update #37: toronto's energy & friends - old and new

new cities and throwbacks

this is just a regular update as i remain nomadic for the rest of the year for family and friends 

what I love the most about this picture from my airbnb was the amount of glass from new builds and cranes for new builds.

where am i at the moment: back in vancouver, bc

last week: toronto, on

there was so much about the trip to toronto that made it one of the best weeks in a new city this year. everyone encouraged me to go visit the city before i left the country and i’m glad i did.

apart from the beautiful weather, which i hear isn’t exactly present all-year round btw, the public transport, construction, and warm welcome really has me excited about the city. the energy over the course of the trip was delightful and a feeling that i’ve really ever felt in la, sf, or bangalore. alongside vancouver, which i love for different reasons, toronto is now my top pick for cities to potentially move to next year.

it was also a week filled with people.

a group of us who were all last together in the 9th grade did dinner which was a real throwback. below is a picture of the 4

midweek my best friend from college, alex, came up from nyc to spend a couple evenings together and i am so grateful he made the trip out.

a thought which was top of mind as i saw long time friend was those you once spent everyday with, you will not see enough before everyone dies…its a powerful one which drives to go out of my way to catch up with folks. lucky that there was so much of this last week

the other side of the thought about is that there’s going to be new people who you’ve not yet spent a fraction of the time with yet that you’re going to (hopefully). in toronto, I got to hang out with a solid crew (mostly met via twitter) who i am certain i’m going to see more often. special shout out to nick achkarian 💙

there’s a whole other side of toronto which makes it amazing for tech companies, startups, and talent from around the world in general. not content for this email but i’ll ship it to my blog soon.

the food in the city was great as well. a few staples from the city were my top picks: planta queen, pai, and gusto 101 (v basic i know).

where i’m going next: vancouver for most of this week before I head to india on friday am. though pray for me since i am going to be going through sfo (good lord)

something to think about: reaching out to a friend you were once very close to.

see you next week 

update #36: thunderstoms, vancouver, and the upcoming week

this is just a regular update as i remain nomadic for the rest of the year for family and friends 

where am i at the moment: ottowa, canada

after sending the last update, i had another couple of days in banff which were quite eventful. primarily the thunderstorms which were expected all week and they finally hit. by gosh i hadn’t experienced this much lightning and thunder in a very long time and it was a bit frightening. feeling a little brave i hung around the city bridge to try and capture some lightning and ended up with the eerie photo above. worth it.

living location - vancouver: post banff i returned to vancouver where i continued to pursue imagining what it’d be like to live here while traveling / being nomadic. i got an airbnb in somebody’s garden suite (basically a full 1000sqft place in their backyard) in burnaby heights (20 min east) to try out what it’s be like to not live downtown. overall, was pretty happy as the neighborhood turned out to be quiet, safe, and walkable with very pretty views of the downtown skyline & the water. relatively close to some commercial parts of town (east van) and good access to public transit. getting downtown via bus only took 35 minutes at 8 am.

this city continues to grow on me.

this past week, i also got to meet a lot of people in vancouver who’ve provided such a warm welcome. it was also a week where I got back on some projects again with the main co. it was great to settle down into a bit of a routine.

qq for you some of you might have already bought a place some might be thinking of buying one. what factors are most important to you?

photos: I now have about 5,000+ photos from my Canadian travels to “deal with”. now I need to go on vacation to cull, manipulate (slightly), and post….lol

you might wonder what i’m doing in ottowa…just a transit through to Toronto where i’m spending all of next week working on some stuff during the day, meeting friends, and maybe sneaking in a quick round trip to the Canadian side of Niagara which I hear is prettier.

where i’m going next: TO. if you have recommendations for places to eat or things to see, i’m all eyes

something to think about: if you could eat only one specific meal for the rest of your life for dinner, what would it be?

see you next week

ps. I initially typed the answer to why I travel but it turned out to be too long for this update. I will publish it as a blog post sometime soon :)

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