All roads lead to Rome

Decisions, History, Uncategorized

This is an old saying which we learnt in grade 5 or 6. And I am a little sheepish in claiming that I didn’t know the actual origin of this term.

At the height of the Roman Empire they had built about 13000 km of roads in the Gaul region(the Western European region) now part of France, Belgium etc. and about 4000km of what is now considered Britain and in other areas of Europe.

One of the core principles of the Roman doctrine was to build roads so that the Roman armies could move fast and was the reason for their undisputed might.

All the central or key roads used to terminate in Rome so that the transportation of the army from the central location to any direction was quick.

So why did I decide to look at the roads of the Roman Empire. It started because I was delving into railway line gauges- the width between the inner ends of the railway track.

Globally most railway tracks are built on what is called as standard gauge. In India we now follow what’s called the broad gauge network for all our railway lines. Initially we also followed the standard gauge or what was known in India as meter gauge.

We had to convert to broad gauge because the only way to carry a large population cost effectively in a developing country like India was to accommodate more people per journey.

So if there’s a broader track, you can have broader bogies and when you have broader bogies you can accommodate more people in a bogey.

However now most of our metro and high speed trains that are coming are coming with standard gauge. Which led me to research the size of the standard gauge -Its 4feet 8 and 1/2 inches. This is a very odd figure.

That led me to the history of the development of the standard gauge to Britain, in a town which had coal mines. Which had old remains of roads of the Roman Empire of that width.

Till then I didn’t know that the Roman Empire had extended all the way to Britain. Which made me research where else it had gone. And that brought me to the way the Empire had constructed its road network.

You see how a search for one item led me all the way back to an Empire which existed more than 3000 years back but which still impacts the diameter of the engine of the space shuttle – 4ft 8 and 1/2 inches.

Till next time time then look out, history impacts our decisions today.

Carpe Diem!!!

Persistence trumps Genius

Great People, Habits, History, persistence

I didn’t know what to write today. I was way too exhausted, having had a long day at work.

This word persistence was playing in my mind for a long time today. So I just started writing. As I started writing more and more examples started coming in my mind of whether great people in history were geniuses as we attribute them to be or were they persistent.

Was Michaelangelo persistent or a genius – was David a master piece because Michaelangelo had a vision for David – if he had not kept chipping away at the stone consistently day-in and day-out, he would have not realized his vision.

The Sistine Chapel ceiling would not be so amazing if he had not persisted in doing those paintings.

Look at Edison or Einstein in the scientific arena, they were persistent in their work. No doubt they were brilliant in their own right but that brilliance would not have seen the light of day, if they did not put in the work.

Having said this, identifying the leverage points and then doing the work will anyway give much better results than just doing “donkey”. Persistence does not mean wasting energy in entropy.

If you focus your energy on the key points and then work, chances are you will trump genius any day.

Till next time.

Carpe Diem!!!

A helper’s high – 2

charity, Habits, Happiness, History, Karma

Just a few days back I wrote on this topic.  When you help somebody,  the universe tends to give back more than 10 times over. It’s all about Karma.

Today I happened to be reading Chanakya Neeti. A little bit about Indian history. Chanakya lived almost 2500 years ago in India and was the advisor to two generations of kings Vikramanditya clan, the kings of Patliputra (now Patna the capital of the state of  Bihar in India).

Vikramanditya was among the people who stopped the movement of Alexander the Great and his army, east of the Indus River. Alexander who had been unbeaten till then from Greece to India couldn’t continue on his dream to conquer the world and eventually died at a  very young age

Chanakya authored some of the most elaborate thinking related to politics ,economics and general rules for living in a society. Chanakya Neeti is about the rules for the society to live a decent life.  It was written in Sanskrit. I was reading the English translation since I haven’t learnt Sanskrit.

Now in this book in the 12th chapter, 2nd stanza,  Chanakya wrote that if one does charity then God rewards that person ten times over. Even two and half thousand years back, he wrote that in a civilized society people should be giving or doing charity.

It’s so good to know that an idea that you believe today was also suggested more than 2500 years back.

Till next time then get a helper’s high by helping someone.

Carpe Diem!!!

Bye-Bye 2020

Affirmative action, History, Human Brain

Most people have been cursing the year gone by. All the pandemic related issues and the geo-political issues in some countries and all the horrible stuff. When I look back however I see a lot of things which were positive about the situation.

  1. Did anyone watch the conjunction of Jupiter and Saturn. I watched it. What a celestial experience. I would never have been able to watch it if it happened during normal years since it could only be observed around sunset. It happened after about 400 years and next nearest situation will happen after 60 odd years.
  2. Due to the work from home I got a chance to regularly go for a walk and made a habit of minimum 6000 steps. I am still far away from 10000 steps but I am religiously hitting more than 6000 steps everyday. In my normal routine where I was spending more than 3 hours travelling, it would never happen
  3. Which brings me to another point – for years I have been reading books and everyone talks about why time is so critical, but because it was forced on me I actually involved myself in reading more, learning more exercising more, being more involved with the family.
  4. If I look outside my house there are so many businesses which have suddenly grown so dramatically. I am not talking about just the Amazon’s of the world. Today I can even get ready “coconut chutney” in dry form delivered to my home where I just have to add water when my wife makes dosas or idlis for lunch or dinner.
  5. I operate in the business to business world selling IT services. earlier most prospects would not even consider talking, they wanted you to visit them. Today the same people are readily and actually only wanting to talk to you in a conference call saving everyone so much time.
  6. My wife invested the time in learning so many things like “crochet” and made woolen items, she learnt how to “jam” in singing sessions

It is always easy to criticize and crib about the situation in your life. It does not mean that people do not have problems. But if you only think negative then you will only get depressed. On the other hand you could look at the positives and find solutions to the challenges you have.

Hopefully with the vaccines now being made available in most countries, hopefully over the next year or so a major set of the global population will get vaccinated and the herd immunity will also take place and we will get to move around again.

But life will throw some other challenges again… you will again need to figure out some other solutions….As Joe Polish says Winners find Ways…..

Till next time…..