Podcasts, Job, California

2021, Dec 19    

I’ve been expressing myself more over the past few years. Far, far more than I did in the ten years after leaving high school. I wish I had written more during that time but I was riddled with perfectionism and couldn’t commit very much to paper. It felt like revealing too much of myself. Thankfully, that has changed. In the past I would vacillate from feeling suffocated by the weighty meaning of everything I said and did to feeling empty from the futility of stagnation despite everything I said and did. Now I have landed somewhere more reasonable - I want to change things but I don’t expect that herculean effort today will get me there.

My creative energies were at first channeled into writing stories - I committed fiction and nonfiction to Medium. I wrote on this blog and a few other ones. I journaled a lot as well - almost 500 words every day for the past year. All that has come together to lead me to the next stage - that inevitable creative outlet of early 30s burned out dudes - the podcast.

The first one is about hiring as an engineering manager. It’s a tough market out there and there are a lot of questions to explore. I have been obsessed with engineering hiring since I ran my startup a few years ago. Hiring felt like the hardest part, the most distracting from the everyday operations of running a company. It also seemed like there wasn’t really any scaleable business to be built here. I have a lot of friends who work in the hiring space and the money has been getting absurd. Engineers in India can probably command 2x the salary that they were asking for last year around this time. This is part of a larger trend of prices going up and inflation skyrocketing but there are plenty of podcasts about that.

The second podcast I am making is called Reinventing Hinduism. It was spawned from a conversation I had with my cousin - about the relative unrecognizability of the distinctly North Indian-flavored BJP politics and our identities as South Indian Hindu atheists. I have been loathe to connect with my Hindu identity, partially because it wraps itself into family dynamics and morality very quickly and the knot becomes hard to disentangle. I spent much of my life distancing myself from the problematic portions of Hindu thought - anti-Islamic sentiment being one of them. It’s a verboten topic in American liberal circles because of America’s mostly illogical opposition to Islam. But the story in India and the interaction between Hinduism and Islam is very complicated. It’s less “enemies” and more “best frenemy”. I read a portion of the Quran in 2013 and to say that it was completely unfamiliar to me would be a lie. There are clearly many Islamic elements that have embedded themselves so deeply in Hindu society that we cannot recognize them as foreign. To excise these would be nothing less than self-mutilation. I want to examine all of these because if I, with all of my privilege and discursive abilities, struggle to comprehend the history of my origins, then how about everyone else with less time?

I’m not done with the podcasts yet either - there’s one more I want to make - about the journey I took to reach the level of expressiveness I have now. I want that one to be much more about my community - the people I have gathered around me intentionally. I haven’t published an episode of it yet but I am excited.

I’m starting a job tomorrow! I am a bit pai seh about talking about it too publicly right now. Suffice it to say - I am really thrilled to do the job itself, to work with the people involved and to build the product that we’re aiming for. That said, fate has an incredible sense of humor.

I personally didn’t see myself getting back into a job and I resisted this one for as long as humanly possible. If it doesn’t work out in 6 months, I know that the world is full of opportunity and I can leave whenever I want. I also know that I have far more tools at my disposal to actually enjoy a job than I did 10 years ago. The past 3 years have given me the chance to reconnect with a lot of childhood joys and simple pleasures. My hobbies are numerous, I have strong relationships with family and friends and I have found the confidence to rely on myself.

California has been a big part of this reinvention journey. I didn’t like this place when I was younger - I felt like Californians were out-of-touch dreamers. For most of the time that I would visit here, I felt like I stepped into a space station. World’s elite, far removed from the material concerns of most of humanity. Californians think about very abstract, heady things. America is itself a bubble of prosperity removed from the harsh realities of crop cycles and harsh weather. Being the naval guarantor of the world means that the whole world continues to invest in you. California is the America of America.

Singapore meanwhile is a place filled to the brim with blunt pragmatism. After 5 years of having the idealism osmosed out of me and supplanted with an unshakeable spine of practicality, I think I am ready for California. It doesn’t take a long sojourn here to realize why there is so much blue sky thinking - there is a lot of blue sky. I’ve probably seen more of California in the past few months than I did in the 5 years of visiting this place for work back in the 2010s. I cannot say whether the place has changed, but I know that I have.

I am incredibly excited for my next few years. I have so much to say and so much to explore. I have so many people around me to love and to be loved by! What more could I want?