Tuesday, December 31, 2013


If I had one word to describe 2013: mind-blowing
A quick recap:
Jan  - iamsick is making a lot of progress, got into the OCE challenge, get office space.
Feb – Audrey leaves the team, we open our bank account, stress is palpable.
Mar – Co-wrote first song with Edi (amazing!), 3 conferences, 1 award, more news than I can keep up with, painful month.
Apr – Recovering from March, unprecedented flash floods kill 11 in Mauritius.
May- Trip abroad. Feels good to take time off. Tables turning.
Jun – Revamping iamsick. The suspense is killing me.
Jul – Our first hire! Our first negotiations! So excited! End of suspense. Leave for Cali. Heartbreaking yet exhilarating.
Aug – Start new job. The curtains have been drawn. A whole new world. Lee Thompson Young commits suicide. Music on the streets.
Sep – Jacuzzi, schnitzel and wine. Parks. New iamsick launches. Music club!
Oct – Maroon 5! Living a normal life again. Algorithms.
Nov – We’re changing the world! Trip to TO. Many meetings.
Dec – Mandela dies. Algorithms. Poker. Guests. Adventure, happiness, uncertainty, new ideas, hope.
Over the course of 2013, I’ve met incredible people. They have inspired me, challenged me, and believed in me. Some gave me the vote of confidence when I needed it the most, some kicked my ass. But in the end, I’m closing 2013 with a smile. I don’t really know how long I’ll stay in California, but right now, I’m happy :)
Golden Gate Bridge at Sunset
On the other side of the Golden Gate Bridge
Now let’s get to the resolutions. How did I do this year?
1. Get funding for (somewhat, but not “the amount” yet)
2. Improve rails,java, sql skills (game change! enter Scala)
3. Improve use of tools in our process (getting there! )
4. Get fit (sigh)
5. Cook more often 
6. Get away from Rogers Telecom.(VERY SOON)
7. Master chest voice and vibrato on 2-5 songs
8. Go to 5 open mics (3 times in MV, 2 times in TO)
9.  Write 5 songs (One Day, Where Do We Go, Excuses & Apologies, Sun Still Shines, NewestSongWithoutName, Best Day)
10. Try something new.(I went rock-climbing. It scared the crap out of me and I almost cried but I did it! sort of)

Friday, November 29, 2013

First American Thanksgiving

Languages are like tectonic plates that are constantly moving, and along the seams where they collide, you have Creole. - Phillip L., history professor, CA
Change Me As We Go is about taking ideas from one field and applying them to another. It’s about sharing our views and learning from each other. Yesterday, I had my first American Thanksgiving. We were invited to join a colleague, his aunt, uncle and cousins for an exquisite family lunch. As we introduced ourselves, we learned a bit more about american culture, the history behind thanksgiving, Austria, Canada, and a bit about Mauritius, of course. I told them about the Dutch, French, and British settlers, the different holidays we celebrate in Mauritius, and how we generate hydro power from accumulated rain water in our reservoirs. Then I explained how you will barely ever see any Mauritians speaking our official language (English) on a daily basis, while virtually all media is in French, but most people really speak Creole. Furthermore, I admire many of my friends of Indian decent who can not only speak English, French, Creole, but also one or more of Hindi, Tamil, Bhojpuri, Telegu, Urdu, Arabic. I explained that our Creole was mostly derived from French, and was quite similar to Haitian creole and Seychellois creole and that started a short discussion about language. The quote above is a line said by uncle Phillip which stuck with me during our conversation.
I also heard a very interesting story of how online genealogy research has led them to suddenly discover that they have relatives in Ontario, Canada! It was a fascinating story. Unfortunately, it would be really hard for us to find much about our history. Most Mauritian Chinese came from the same areas of China. So we know where our grandparents or great grandparents are from. Could there be more to the family history than we might think? Maybe we have relatives in Trinidad! Or Saudi Arabia or India. The Hakka people migrated a lot. I wonder…
Overall, I would say it was a very pleasant first Thanksgiving in America and it was an absolute joy to share this special meal in such great company. While I’m typically not a history buff, I really enjoyed hearing uncle Phillip’s mini history lessons. It somehow gave me a little glimpse of why history fascinates some people. It’s not just about remembering the past. It’s also about inspiring the next generation, contributing to their careers, and hopefully their character. Thank you to the wonderful family who made my first American thanksgiving a special one.

Monday, November 25, 2013

Comments on News Articles in Mauritius

Change Me As We Go is about accepting that we are not perfect and that sometimes, we should learn to improve ourselves before criticizing. Words are cheap.

While I cringe at some of the articles written in Mauritian press, something else ticks me off even more: the comments. Every news article is usually followed by a seemingly endless thread of comments, most of which are blaming the government for anything and everything, their language often flourished with inappropriate words. Their occasional refuters unfortunately don't fare much better either. While I agree that there is for improvement for those at the helm, it just strikes me that so many Mauritian internauts complain relentlessly, without any constructive propositions. Just saying the rules/government/mentality sucks isn't going to change anything!!!

Having spent the past 6 years in Canada, where the public is very engaged and people right and left are trying to find solutions to every problem imaginable, I find it a desolating comparison. I know that the most vocal comments are likely not representative of the nation's opinion as a whole but I still find it concerning that many people are still waiting for the Government to fix all their problems. Why do we feel so powerless as a people? Why don't we learn more about the real difficulties of our Government and try and come up with solutions together? Why don't we have more public engagement? As far as I can tell, most of the community is not involved in politics. Criticism flies left and right but I rarely see a comment that is carefully considered and passionate about improving from the status quo.

Perhaps being a remote island unbeknownst to most of the world has something to do with it. A lot of things seemed out of reach or impossible when I was living there. Becoming a famous musician? Impossible. Becoming a famous scientist? Also impossible. In fact, becoming a famous anything seemed quite impossible unless you were an extinct animal (ie dodo) in Mauritius. It felt like anything I did wouldn't matter as much, because we're a tiny spec in the Indian Ocean, in our own little bubble.  The highest indication of success was if you became a doctor or lawyer. When my physics teacher told me "maybe one day you will work for Microsoft", even he didn't seem so convinced. Now I work for Apple. Kind of crazy if you ask me :)

Then I moved to Canada and almost anything became possible. High school graduates were building playgrounds and schools in Africa, college students were creating their own charities to improve access to education, people young and old are running for the cure, everyone is involved, everyone is doing something. Many university students teach anything from ballet to French in their spare time. Sure, people still complain about the Government here too, but many more people are doing something to change the world, because we know that we can.

So, dear Mauritians, it's time to wake up and realize that you too, can make a difference. You are a talented people. Don't let it go to waste. Speak slow, think fast. Say less, do more :)

Inspiring The Next Writers

Writers who don't proofread their work because they have editors/proofreaders are like coders who don't write tests because there's a QA team. Do you know what happens if coders don't write tests? Planes crash, machines go crazy and people may die :)

I regularly read Mauritian news online but with time, it has become less interesting to do so. I find many  (not all!) of the articles lackluster, sprinkled with grammar and spelling mistakes. My eyes tend to glaze over. To be fair, Canadian and American press also suffer from the same plague. One could argue that my expectations have gone up with time, but I'm not sure that's the case. It bothers me when newspapers don't hold high standards regarding the articles they publish. They are supposed to be authoritative sources of information! I wish people would at least proofread their work, ensure their verbs are properly conjugated and their sentences are proper.

When I was a student, I used to read the papers (English and French) to find new words and different ways of expressing ideas. Bhishmadev Seebaluck's "Dear Shakespeare" column was a staple in my weekly English diet. I would underline new words or interesting expressions and add them to my copybook, complete with definitions and examples. I would review them every now and then to refresh my memory, and these articles are what got me ranked in the top 10 in General Paper in my year. I am incredibly grateful to great journalists and writers who, through their work, have enticed me into pursuing eloquence and, by extension, excellence.

Columnists like Bhishmadev Seebaluck have inspired many readers (including myself) to develop vocabulary, creativity, and mastery of language. Writing is an art and a profession. Isn't it the goal of every artist to inspire others through their work? How can you inspire the next generation when your articles read like the noise in your head? Of course, it would be over-the-top to have every article à la "Dear Shakespeare", but a little effort in language mastery would go a long way to inspire the next generation of writers in Mauritius. The arts are so underrated in our educational culture already. There are many passionate young writers budding in our midst who could use some encouragement. So if you are a writer, please, be an articulate writer. We want to look up to you.

Some Mauritian writers who make me proud (I'll add to this list as I find more):
Bhishmadev Seebaluck
Ananda Devi
Jacques K. Lee

Sunday, October 27, 2013

One Day (original)

Back in November, I was shuffling through my "poems" and this one caught my attention. I started playing some chords and improvising a melody. The first try was the right one. I then added the 2nd and 3rd verses to complete it. It's one of the songs that was the easiest to write and I'm quite happy with it. I hope you enjoy.
If you'd like the chords:

Lyrics below.

One day, you'll remember waking up next to me
And how it felt to swim chasing the sun

And you'll stand alone on the lakeshore watching stars
And you'll think of us, and how we were happy

One day, you'll wish you could bring back these days, so carefree
One day, you will look back and wonder how it could have been
It could've been with me
If you had stayed

And you'll stand alone on the lakeshore watching stars
And you'll think of us, and how we were happy

One day, I found the answer was that there were no reasons at all
That one day, I decided I would take another road that won't cross yours

In parallel, I'll see you and you'll see me
And we'll be within reach but we won't ever meet

So you'll stand alone on the lakeshore watching stars
And you'll think of us, and how we were happy

I willl be happy
I'll be gone and happy

I'll be happy without you

Saturday, August 24, 2013


Business is a tough world. Small companies like us start, struggle and fail every day. Meeting deadlines, making payroll, and staying on top of the competition are just a few pressures that weigh on entrepreneurs every day. Under such stress, it's easy to lose objectivity and become stubborn or even selfish. After all, isn't business all about making money? Not quite imho.

Do I want to make a ton of money? Yes, of course. But I think that cutting corners is not my way to do so. At the end of the day, businesses are run by people. Whether it's an investor, a user, or an employee, he/she has emotions, financial needs, families to take care of. Recognizing their priorities helps me better understand why they would want to be part of my business to start with. It helps me focus on long-term sustainability of the team/relationship instead of on my immediate need to get things done. 

People have talents and ambitions. As a leader, I believe it is my job to ensure that I help my team members achieve personal success. This also applies to potential employees. If someone offered them something better suited to their needs, I would not try to persuade them that I have the better offer. I think that being honest about one's shortcomings is important in building trust. Trust is not only needed at the consumer/user level, but throughout the organization. If I can't inspire trust from my team, how can I expect trust from my customers in the long run?

The first manager I had always used to ask "what can I do for you?"
That phrase set an impression on me. I felt that he was approachable and supportive.
My second manager said "If people are happy, they'll stay", emphasizing that work should be rewarding and enjoyable.

So my philosophy about employees  is the following:
My job is to keep you happy with the job. Your job is to keep me happy with your job.

It's still too early to tell whether this the good strategy but let me know if you disagree. What is your philosophy on hiring?

Monday, June 24, 2013


What's Your Gobi - Part II

I was just reading an article on "How To Change Your Brain For The Better" and one of the captions started with "to become more resilient [...]". That word rang a bell and it suddenly hit me.

Running when you don't feel like it, when you feel you can't anymore. Stretching your limits beyond what you thought was sane. Running beyond reason. Running against your will. Running for the sake of forcing your mind to do so. That thought has been roaming in my head ever since Stefan Danis' TEDxToronto talk but I only found it now. (If you haven't seen it:

I found my Gobi. But instead of running, it's about staying. Instead of doing, it's about restraining from doing things I would regret. Instead of giving into the temptation of destructive behaviour that would satisfy me in the moment, I have to keep my cool. I've been rejected. I've been let down. I've even been betrayed. I've been cornered in to a lose-lose situation. Instead of physical pain, emotional distress. The Gobi's 50% physical and 50% mental. My Gobi seems to be 100% mental. My Gobi is to stay. To stick to my words rather than my feelings. To fight every battle because I believe in the dream. To keep going until I reach the impossible.

Instead of 7 marathons, life has thrown me a few rocks that have hit hard. But I stubbornly kept marching ahead. It hit my heart, my health, my creativity, my confidence, it hit it all. But I kept marching on. Not out of strength really. I just didn't know how to stop. At one point, I felt like I was exploding. I wanted to run away to Alaska or something equally remote, and not have to talk to anyone for a month. Just me, fresh air, and music.  Of course, that never happened. Perhaps it will at the end of the 7th mental marathon. But we're still at #3.

Shortening the gap between a negative event and opportunity. I've been working on that from day 1. Some people get there in a day, or in a month. I thought I was that kind of person. But instead of getting to acceptance, I tried to skip ahead to opportunities. It's time to get to it now as unpleasant as it is. Acceptance. Resilience. It might seem paradoxical, but resilience comes from accepting vulnerability.

Stefan Danis: if you read this blog, thank you for inspiring people to find the strength in themselves to dust themselves up and fight their own little demons for a brighter future.

Sunday, April 21, 2013

Amy Winehouse

I had never really been a big fan of hers. I didn't know her or her music. I didn't think too much of it when she passed away. Today, I listened to her father's book describing her battle against drugs, terrible men, paparazzis and alcohol. She had been clean of drugs since 2008, and almost over her alcoholism. It was such a sad story. Just when things seemed to finally look stable, she was gone. I wasn't sure what to expect from this book but it gave me new insight into the world of addiction and the lonely battle that addicts have to fight. Their many lapses. The people. The good and the bad people. There were many anecdotes that demonstrated her altruistic nature despite her eccentricities. She once rented horses 24/7 so that local kids could ride them for free. She was truly generous. I have to admit I had never thought that about her. I have to admit that I probably believed (or didn't really question) whatever I saw in the news but it's disgusting to learn how people made money from making up cruel sensational stories about her. Let's give Lindsay Lo a break shall we?

Difficult things

Let them go
Without breaking the flow

Let them win
Without losing within

Keep them close
They who hurt you most

Say I lose
But don't show any bruise

Still remember
The forgotten, buried under

Still remember
That memory is a player

Bare your soul
To people in a role

Wait in silence
For the world's sentence

Keep a secret
Knowing it spells regret

Trust the fool
To be your very fuel

Confront yourself
Before confronting someone else

See your faults
Before unlocking the blame vault

In the fun and the game
Believe again with no shame

Wednesday, April 10, 2013

Do You Believe?

I think it doesn't matter what I believe. Things that cannot be proved are not worth arguing over. No one can win and everyone will lose. I don't know if there is or isn't a higher being. But if there is one, I sure hope it doesn't write our "fate". I don't believe in fate. Otherwise, anything bad I do could just be "fate" and a "blessing in disguise". I could transfer all responsibility for unfavourable outcomes to "fate". No thanks. I rather own it and call my successes/failures my own. Please don't tell me things happen for a reason. I tend to stop hanging out with you after that. 

Sunday, April 7, 2013

Written Therapy

I just published a bunch of posts that were sitting in my drafts since as far back as 2010. I think they all have something in common. They were posts that I wrote when things were not going so well, and usually I try to keep my posts positive. I think it's okay for me to indulge in some negativity/uncertainty every now and then, don't you think?

Writing usually helps me articulate my thoughts so usually I tend to have a "solution" of some sort in the post simply because I found my solution. I suppose the recent posts are examples of when writing didn't actually bring me to a conclusion but the process always helps nonetheless.

I'm looking forward to my songwriting session in a few hours. It's funny but two decades later, still nothing else cheers me up like longitudinal waves hitting my eardrums with just the right frequency and rhythm. Songwriting is like performing magic. Creating something out of seemingly nothing. Turning lows into highs every time life makes a dent on us (or others!). The pen is like a magician's hat. You never know what will come out of it.

Why You Need To Regret

It's been almost 2 years since I've had the idea for this post but never had the energy to write it. "Live Life With No Regrets" is one of the most unrealistic mantras that Western culture has popularized. I personally think regret is crucial to advancement.

Regrets are the difference between what you did, and what you should have done. I think regret helps us focus on immediate areas of improvement. As long as regret lasts, it contributes to our thought process and our decisions. I think regrets motivate us to become a better version of ourselves, because they remind us that a better outcome could have been possible had we done the right thing. If you're not thinking about what you wish you did differently, how you could have prevented having this regret in the first place, then you're not regretting.

So... If you don't regret wasting your time, how can you become efficient?
If you don't regret causing someone to break down, who says you won't do it again?
I'm not talking about momentary regret where you just kind of feel bad/guilty but then forget about it by checking facebook. I mean lasting regret. The kind that makes you think "DAMN, why did I do that? Why didn't I do X instead? I so could have avoided Y & Z".

I think we need stop trying to always feel good about ourselves and occasionally let ourselves become vulnerable enough to admit our faults, to appreciate the pain we cause, and to truly remedy the situation if it isn't too late. Apologies are nice, but how about avoiding actions/words that would require apologies in the first place? Doesn't that sound like a good idea? But how can you ever achieve that if you don't truly take time to appreciate the consequences of your wrongdoings? THIS IS WHY YOU NEED TO REGRET.

Mauritius 30.03.2013 - Killed by the Weatherman

Easter was not so celebratory this year in Mauritius. On March 30th, flash floods claimed 11 lives on paradise island. Most of them were caught by surprise in a pedestrian subway, which was allegedly filled within seconds. Easter Monday was declared an official day of mourning as the island struggled to recover from the shock. In the above video, we're shown a house where the water rose up to the ceiling. The damage costs are yet to be estimated but distaster management teams from Singapore and UK are investigating. The UNDP as well as the Commission de L'Ocean Indien are also working towards recommendations on mitigating such risks in the future.

Please donate to any of the following links to help families affected by the floods.

My thoughts go to all those who have been affected by the flood. The solidarity of Mauritians has been incredible, as expected. May our little paradise shine again soon. 


Oct 10, 2010

When I was young, I used to dream of moving to a big city and being an independent individual. I couldn't wait to be able to assert my own personality and way of thinking without having to worry about what people would think of my upbringing or some stupid thing like that. Whenever I disagreed with people on things like racism and they wouldn't listen to me, I would just take a deep breath, go to my room, and write songs, telling myself that I'd soon move to Toronto and all this will be over. It won't matter...

The past few months have been very difficult. A lot has been going on and I can barely keep up. I feel frustrated and yet I'm finding it hard to formulate what hurts me so much. I want things to change faster, I want this to be over. So I shut myself out from the world (or somewhat) and all I did for the past month was go to work, get home, shower, write music or do nothing, go to bed, go to work... Today I realized that I've unconsciously gone back to the same coping mechanism. I'm telling myself not to sweat it because somehow, some day, it won't matter.

BUT WAIT! I'm not going anywhere anymore. There's no packing up to another country to start a brand new life. This is it.

Reason To Hate (03.07.12)

Ironic. Seems I started writing this about a year ago. It seems like there was not much progress in one  year. Not in the right direction anyway. 

March 7, 2012
We were in the middle of a pretty serious discussion and I was not very happy. Then the call dropped at the worst possible moment, time just right it could have been a hangup. I knew that his battery had just died. But being already upset, it's as if I wanted there to be another explanation. It's like I wanted to have a reason to call him a jerk and to hate him for hanging up on me. I quickly realized, as I discarded the message I was already starting to compose, that my reaction was silly. Obviously it was not his fault that his battery died. Right at once, little evil voices took up the bashing. "Why can't he charge his battery properly?". Silly questions that only make sense to someone trying to pick a fight. That's exactly what I caught myself doing - picking a fight. And it made me wonder. How many times do we do that? How many times do our arguments escalate to the point where we are just arguing for the sake of arguing, where we will do or say anything to attack, where all we want is the other party to admit defeat and apologize. How many times have we let our annoyance explode into loathing then vengeance. This time I caught myself on time. There were times when I didn't and I do feel bad when I think about them. Our emotions, our temper are so volatile.

Wednesday, April 3, 2013

Here again

I remember staying up late to write, furiously capturing memories while they are fresh. One day, I hoped, it could help me understand youth better. I remember staying up also because I wanted to listen to that song one more time. I remember believing in fate and "everything happens for a reason". I remember hardly believing he was actually  flirting with me. I remember knowing it was doomed before it even started and still trying to go as far as I could. I was never one to leave stones unturned.  I am reminded that I'm now somewhere similar. Things will get better.  I will trust again some day. Maybe even faith. I just have to write my way through it. Another album or an anthology perhaps. 

Thursday, March 28, 2013

Moving on is easy

The hardest thing is not "to move on".

Walking away is easy.
Starting over, leaving the past behind is easy.

What is not easy, is progressing while staying put.
It's standing tall and calm against the storm.

It's staring as the past moves on ahead of you.
Moving on while unable to move.

Changing your perception of unchanged things.
Turning frustrations into renewed self-confidence.

Detaching the pain from once neutral surroundings
which have now become tainted with anger.

It's investing in stocks that keep on falling
It's staying on the fault line after the quake

It's trusting that people can change,
and their evils past may be truly gone.

It's easier to trust when the past becomes less vivid
But how to fade memories that surround your every view?

Through the people and the places they travel
With them, the bad and the ugly circle

If I can't move, how to make them go?
How to forgive what I'm not allowed to forget?

Moving on is easy.
But how do you stay?

Tuesday, March 26, 2013

Unlikely Friends

There was this guy I became friends with when I was around 13. He was the typical teen who just hit puberty and thought his inappropriate jokes were cool. I found him annoying at times, but overall, I thought he was nice. Then one day, out of the blue, he completely ignored me. Pretended I didn't exist, didn't say hi, didn't reply to messages, avoided me like the pest. I thought it was really strange because we were just friends and nothing had happened. I shrugged and moved on. Boys are complicated, I was told.

Years later, we met again at a social event. By that time, I resented him for ignoring me without explanation. However, he had a guitar and he was not bad at it. The music lover inside of me nudged my ego aside and after a few hours, I broke the ice and we've been friends ever since. Our previous friendship was never mentioned. It was as if we met for the first time. Years later, I learned what really happened. But until then, the elephant in the room was ignored for the sake of making music.

He was not exactly the most charming person either. He was blunt, somewhat pessimistic, and often had little regard for people's emotions. Yet, something about his honesty was intriguing and I thought I'd just wait and see. With time, I learned to appreciate it instead of dread it. With the bluntness taken for granted, talking about anything and everything openly was fair game. We agreed to disagree sometimes. Strangely and unconsciously, we became pretty good friends. I remember being surprised and touched when receiving an email from him when he first moved to Australia, letting us know he got there safe and sound.

I probably became very much like my friend. I tell the truth as it is unless I have a good reason not to, and I guess I expect the same from people. I was addicted with Dr. House partly because of his obsession for the truth. It became even more obvious when, a few years ago, I was almost overjoyed to hear a colleague tell me "You know, the first day I saw you, I thought you were a stuck up bitch. You were all dressed up and looked all pissed off. I thought you were gonna be a nightmare". Most people would probably get a bit defensive but I felt an immediate connection at that moment because this was someone who got it. He knew that I would appreciate the honesty and that we could laugh about those first 5 mins.

Friends like these can sometimes be hard on the ego but they are worth it. The best friendships can sometimes be the unexpected ones. And the battles worth fighting may not always be the obvious ones either.

Now, I have another decision to make. Is this one a worthy the effort? I can deal with ego-crushing bluntness, but I'm not sure what to make of ego-flattering, bent truths that may or may not redeem themselves in the future. I don't know what to make of heartfelt promises that always fall through. I don't know what to make of "I'm sorry, I wasn't thinking". 

Monday, March 25, 2013

Everybody Lies

Dr. House was right about the fact that everybody lies but I have been struggling with this truth. I've worked hard to muster the courage to tell the truth when it matters. Even when it hurts, even when when it's inconvenient. If it's the right thing to do, then it's the right thing to do and you just take a deep breath and say it. Life tends to remind me every so often that truth and courage are not universally important for human beings. It's such an inconvenience.

How do you build team spirit when there is no balance? How do you trust someone who will let you open up to them but not reciprocate? Can you ever trust one who will watch you vulnerably asking for the truth, and lie to your face under a masquerade of comforting words? Is "I wasn't thinking" ever a good enough reason to fail to protect someone? My answer is a ringing NO.

I can pretend that I'm not angry anymore. If I need to, I can pretend we're friends. I may forgive, in the [distant] future. And if I do, I will also forget. But right now, I can't forget. I refuse to lower my standards when it comes to the definition of loyalty. I grew up surrounded by amazing people who kept their word and kept the best interest of others before theirs. If they can do it, so can everybody else.I was told that this is a depressing world and that I should just accept that everybody does shitty things sometimes. But they're probably lying. After all, everybody lies.

What Do You Do When Life Drives You Nuts?

Once, in Lil Blume's communication class, we were given a peculiar exercise. From a long list of emotions, we had to circle all the ones we had felt in the past week. I remember it being quite revealing for those who don't usually pay attention to how they feel. If I were to do this exercise for the past 3 weeks, I would probably cover the entire negative side of the pallet, and probably most of the positive ones too. Yes, it`s been a roller coaster ride. What do you do when life drives you nuts?

Usually, I would play music. I played two shows last week and it definitely helped. Catching up with people at the show was really nice. Being on stage again always feels safe. It must sound strange but as I step into the limelight, exposed to all judgement, it tends to feel like retreating to a safe haven. A place where I can be myself, a place where the more honest you are, the brighter you shine. It`s like stepping foot in a parallel world, leaving your worries at the door. It's also a place where hard work almost always pays off.

Sometimes, though, music is not enough. If I`m too upset, I won`t have the energy to play or write right away. Today, though, I just needed to clean the house. As Paolo Coelho describes it so well in the Alchemist, cleaning the exterior somehow purges the interior as well. While I don`t enjoy cleaning, it never fails to improve my mood and calm me down. Maybe because cleaning brings fast and noticeable results. Less chaos probably also helps me feel less stressed. Perhaps cleaning is something that I know I can do successfully

After the music and the cleaning, the process usually ends in writing. Engraving the memory, with all its flaws and beauty, into a song, a lyric, or a melody. Remembering exactly how it felt so that those who hear it won`t have to be alone.

Sunday, March 3, 2013

Co-writing my first French/English song :)

Yesterday, I met with a fellow songwriter to try and write together. From one song I heard at the meetup where we met, I knew we had an artistic affinity. We also found out we both speak French but had never written any French songs yet. One day we should do that, we said.

So we met yesterday, not knowing whether the creativity streams would converge or diverge. None of us had any idea of what to write about. We decided to go through some of his mini recordings and see if anything grabbed my attention. The first one was as far as we got. "I kinda like that!" I said.

We took 5 mins aside to each come up with different ideas about where to go from there. After 5 mins we had 3 ideas. We picked one of mine that added contrast to the rhythm as the pre-chorus. A few minutes later, we magically had a chorus forming. This was getting really exciting. Before going to bed, I listened to the recordings from that session and aside from the music, all you hear is giggles and excitement. It was a magical moment that any songwriter yearns for.

While looking for an interesting way to end the chorus, Edi came up with a hook that brought the energy right back up. "Where did you go?" was all we had but it worked so well and was so catchy. We tried finding different meanings to this phrase, different phrases that could fit, different words we could end with, but in the end, "Where did you go?" it stayed.

We were so excited. Now on to the lyrics. We started to struggle. We knew we wanted to talk about two friends meeting after some time apart and sadly find that they have nothing left in common. Yet all the lyrics we came up with didn't feel fresh/original. Something wasn't quite right. We thought the verse would be about the memories, and the pre-chorus about the change. Yet we couldn't fit anything properly.

Then I had this crazy idea. While playing the verse melody, I heard "Et si on pouvait tout se dire...." in my head. I brought up the crazy idea and after a good laugh we decided to give it a try. That got the ball rolling and in 20 min, we had our first verse!

Et si on pouvait tout se dire comme autrefois
Tout semblait toujours plus simple entre nous
Nos aventures aux petites heures du matin
Qui n'existaient plus que dans nos regards n'y son't plus

We have more lyrics for the other parts but we're not sure about them yet, so you'll have to come to my show to find out :) My show is on March 14th at Hart House (UofT downtown campus). It's FREE and the details can be found in the following link:

Wednesday, February 6, 2013

Can trust be regained?

To me, trust is an investment in a relationship with somebody. Be it a friend, business partner, significant other, stranger, family member, trusting someone is a risk we're willing to take. It involves two parties willing to bet on each other's integrity. Like any investment, we lose some, we gain some. But once an investment fails, do you reinvest in the same person?
For a long time now, I've wondered if it made any sense to repair broken trust. I still don't have the answer. In most cases, I have rebuilt trust with time. When I forgive, I forget. When I forget, I can trust again, to a certain level. The problem is to get to the "forgive" part. And once we forgive, forget and trust. Is it worth it?

It starts with a surprise

Ever had an exchange with an acquaintance or even a friend or family member, which surprises you to the point where you wonder whether you know them at all?

Sometimes, these discrepancies are just things we didn't expect but are okay with, just personal preferences such as belief in Astrology. I would consider this as just a difference. A belief/opinion that I don't share and that's completely fine. I don't think we need to agree on everything. In fact, my best friends and I often disagree on many, many things.

But sometimes, what we hear is shocking, against our moral code, against anything we think friendship would ever represent, against all expectations. There are certain things that I expect from any true friend. A true friend doesn't use your secrets against you. In fact, a true friend doesn't tell your secrets to anybody, even when you're not friends anymore. Does that not make sense? Is it just me?

The disconnect

Once my perception of a friendship is shattered, I feel an instant disconnect that is hard to ignore. I don't know who you are or what you want, but clearly it's not what I want. I'm gonna have to revise my trust level in you, "friend"... I think friends should have each other's back (unless legally bound otherwise, which is a completely different issue). Friends should respect each other's opinons, feelings, and trust. Anything less is just not friendship to me.

After years of internalizing the importance of honesty, trustworthiness, loyalty and the like, I find it hard to "not make a big deal out of it" when a friend's "loyalty" ends where his personal gains begin, or when people start to equate friendship with networking. I insist that networking is motivated by personal gain, while friendship doesn't have any other motive than enjoying each other's company.

The Guilt card

In their defense, people sometimes make you feel guilty about the whole situation, even though they know they messed up. "Get over it", "you're blowing this out of proportion", "I'm sorry, I didn't know you would be angry about this little thing", "I'm sorry, I wasn't thinking". The last one is possibly the worst. You weren't thinking? THEN THINK MORE OFTEN. "Not thinking" is not the excuse but the crime itself.

When I forgive, I forget. And I usually do forgive. But it takes time. I'm told trust is like paper. Once crumpled it can't be perfect again. After a few years, wounds heal and memories fade. The context is gone and so are the consequences. Forgiving becomes much easier. But until then, you'll just have to earn it. Otherwise, I'm sorry but you're not sorry.

What did scouts not prepare me for?

When I took my scout oath to keep myself "physically strong, mentally awake, and morally straight", I really tried my hardest (perhaps a little too much) to abide by the 7 rules of scouting. Yet, I'm kind of surprised that I still remember them.. In the right order even:

A scout is to be trusted
A scout is loyal
A scout is friendly and considerate
A scout is brother to all scouts
A scout has courage in all difficulties
A scout makes good use of his time and is careful of his possessions and property
A scout has respect for himself and for others

The three virtues were honesty, devotion and purity.
The motto was to "Be Prepared".

I haven't consciously thought about these in years, but I suppose they have contributed to my personality, my moral values.

Unfortunately, the rules never addressed breaches in a tangible way. Losing badges and scarves don't apply beyond scouting years even though the rules still do. I think scouting prepared me to face physical challenges but not social/personal ones. As I tend to say lately, the problem is always people. And I don't mean "problem" in a pejorative sense, but I really think that proper handling of interactions is the key to success in many situations. The problem is always people. Solve people and you solve it all.

Sunday, January 13, 2013

Change Me As We Get to 2013

You'll notice that this year's list is way shorter. This is because of my tight schedule working for and Locationary at the same time. There is hardly any time left for music but I do take long showers.. That'll do :)

1. Get funding for
2. Improve rails,java, sql skills
3. Improve use of tools in our process

4. Get fit
5. Cook more often
6. Get away from Rogers Telecom.

7. Master chest voice and vibrato on 2-5 songs
8. Go to 5 open mics
9.  Write 5 songs

10. Try something new.

Did You Change Me, 2012?

Let's see what I managed to check off my 2012 resolution list...

Computer Science
- Graduating from BSc!
- Learn PHP, MySQL, AJAX, RoR etc.(okay I did learn, I'm just not done :P)
- Finish the 3 websites currently started. (priorities change...)
- Create a mobile app
- Look for jobs & apply  (I actually got one so do I get bonus point?)
- Use cool stuff I learned in practice (I implemented a bayesian filter :D)

Music (This category is an epic fail)
- Write, write, write! 12 complete songs minimum. (only managed to finish 1... and started about 10)
- Work on 5-10 covers
- Band practice every week/ learn to co-write
- Sell out CMAWG CDs already!
- Finish my website so people can buy stuff
- Improve vocal technique/ control (vibrato, breathing, mix)
- Learn new piano techniques
- Learn new guitar techniques
- Diversify (and update) my music collection with 50 new artists of various genres (I swear Evanescence is a new band :P)
- Book shows in summer and play at least 10 shows.

- Find developer to partner with
- Continue the work in progress :)

- Eat more healthy
- Get sick less often!!!!!! (And not end up in hospital)Well not quite.. but I tried..
- Stay away from psychos who have issues or want to kill themselves. No jokes.
- Be less "anti-social", building more confidence in certain areas
- Improve conflict resolution/ negotiation skills (believe me, there is ALWAYS room for improvement in this area because it's like the jungle!) -- I did improve but there is still room!
- Keep in touch better and more often with the ones I love and am so grateful for.
- Cardio workout 1-2 times a week
- Dance class
- Be more productive
- Try something new (skiing, snowboarding, rock climbing, new language)
- Be less sarcastic and/or irritable when stressed (I tried but not sure I succeeded)
- Be more organized
- Figure out my pre-mid-life crisis triggered by imminent graduation :)
- Get the driver's license. Seriously.