Mihajlovic and the purpose of life

Imagine you’ve been diagnosed with a deadly disease. What would you do? How would you like to spend your time? Frankly, I don’t know. I have never given this a thought. But I do know that I would not want to spend it working a full-time job. The job that I have.

Sinisa Mihajlovic, an ex-Serbian footballer and a Serie A legend died yesterday (16th December 2022) following complications of leukaemia. Almost 3.5 years back he first announced that he had this disease. At that time, he was the manager of Bologna FC. He continued to manage them even after being ill for almost 3 years. This is something that I have failed to wrap my head around. This act no doubt portrays his character and professionalism. Still, I fail to comprehend why anyone who probably has nothing to achieve particularly from a job in a familiar domain, will continue to do it even in a situation like this. More than the physical pain, I have so many questions about the psychological part.

One reason why someone would continue to do what they have been doing even in this situation is simple. You know you will come around very soon. You know you’re far stronger than the disease that is engulfing you. You will eventually beat it and come out with flying colours. The other reason is more abstract.

After a certain point, one should find the purpose of their life. This purpose, of course, will change over time. Your purpose at 25 might not be the same as when you’re 40 or when you were 18. Many people in the industry take breaks from what they are currently doing to find this purpose. A break for a month, 3 months or even a year. And then there are many who don’t tie the purpose of their lives with the job they’re doing. They have other priorities. The sense of fulfilment comes from there.

If someone truly finds a purpose, taking the steps in life becomes really easy. I really don’t know what governed Sinisa. But, I do know, the football world lost a top-class professional. Ciao, Sinisa.

Leaving with some of his best goals in Serie A.


Turned 26 today.

26 always felt like a special number to me. There might be quite a few reasons for that.

While I was giving my first big examination of life, that is the 10th board (or as we call it Madhyamik Parikhsa), my elder cousin turned 26. And he went on to join his first ever job. Not only him but there were many of my elder relatives who would join some big MBA colleges before landing a lucrative MNC job. 26 always felt like the age of independence to me. Always thought of it as the magic number. Whatever you do in life, you ought to find yourself by 26. I always believed that.

Another reason might be in the number and the significance in life. 10 years since the first significant examination of life. One is expected to grow enough by 26. You are not in your early 20s. You are expected to have some sort of ‘stability’ in life. You’re also far (?!) from your 30. You’re not likely to be a family man or start taking more responsibilities. (At least I think that’s the case for most of the middle and upper-middle-class families)

Previously, I had made a chart about the things that I would like to do by 26. Looking back at the chart, I see most of them being done. But one big question which I didn’t ponder upon was the purpose of one’s life. I often think about it nowadays, might be because of watching ‘The Good Place’. What’s the purpose of this life? I started working full-time 16 months back. Got promoted 4 months back. Might get promoted again. Or leave the current organization for something else. Then? When would it stop? All these nowadays feel so mundane. Lucky are those who have the purpose of life figured out.

One of my friends topped CAT 3 years back. But he didn’t join any IIM. He was aiming for ISI. He could only get into ISI last year. Now, 3 years back I thought he is crazy! Might be out of his fricking mind! Now, I feel like, he is one of the most mature men (or women) that I know of. He had clarity of what he wanted in and from life. He set his goals and achieved them. I wish I will have that soon.

The day, otherwise, was quite ordinary (really love these ordinary days). Did something similar like I had done the last year. Then went to East Bengal Club to witness the first training session of this season. And finally ended up listening to some stories by a random Swedish gentleman at Broadway.

Cheers to 26. I guess.

The Island

I have been living in Bangalore for more than a month now. A few days (actually it has been almost a month) back I visited someone who has been here for a while and has ‘temporarily’ settled here with his family. We (my Mom and Aunt were also there) were overwhelmed by their hospitality. But my biggest takeaway from the night was something else.

The host was reminiscing about living in a city far away from home and how things have changed for him. How many events he has missed. How most of his family members haven’t yet visited his place. This is his ‘home’ but still, there was some kind of longing associated with his native place. The place where he grew up. The place which is still very dear to his wife. On that day he insisted that we will surely meet again. We have to meet again.

I am yet to meet him again (I hope I will soon do that) but this reminds me about the true nature of human beings. No man (or woman) is an island. Since coming to Bangalore I feel like there are numerous islands like that. Especially in a city like Bangalore where there are so many ‘outsiders’. These Islands long for visitors. These are the Islands where companionship is valued most. These Islands want to see familiar faces once in a while. I wonder why is that? I then remember one of the quotes by one of my online Dadas (oh I have many of them) who is also a Football Analyst at a big I league club. I asked him a while back why investors invest in a club if he is not getting any money back? His answer was quite poignant:

“Do you think Money is the most important thing in life? It isn’t. We as human beings want to be a part of something bigger. We want to surround ourselves with people who appreciate us. We want to be celebrated.”

I think those Islands also want something similar. Some appreciation through companionship.

Knowing yourself better

Recently I came across a video where one IIT professor was reacting to his student’s video. In that video, the student said that he took Mechanical Engineering just because he was good in Maths and Physics, and at the same time he was also advocating why Software or any IT job might be a better option for an average student. I had a spontaneous smirk when he said that thing about Maths and Physics. This was the reason for me for taking Mechanical as well. Nowadays, whenever anyone asks me what is that one mistake that I would like to correct, I always say I would undo this one.

I used to enjoy studying a lot. Back in 10+2, solving Math problems were like a second hobby for me, after, obviously, watching football matches. But college life changed everything. A thing of pleasure started feeling like a huge burden. My college routine piled up more misery on top of that. And things at times seemed unbearable.

Except for a few topics like Thermodynamics, Heat Transfer, etc. (which were ‘Math heavy’), I hardly enjoyed any subject. Then I came to know about Operations Research (OR) in my 4th year. That subject was a kind of revelation for me. Whenever I used to do Math, I would have one question in my mind: How can this be directly applied to real-life problems? OR kind of made me realize on a large scale how we can use Mathematics for that.

Looking back at my college life and those ‘sad boi’ hours, I kind of feel contented that I went through this. You know there is a pattern in sitcoms where they will introduce a side character to bring together the main couple of the show (Karen in The Office, Kelly in Superstore, etc.). My college life kinda did that for me. I realized what I should be doing. Where I am good at. I stopped pursuing MS in Mechanical Engineering and instead focused on doing something related to Math or Data. Data, numbers, stats have been something that always made sense to me. And then I decided to do my Master’s in OR. Now I use OR techniques on a daily basis to make a positive impact for my organization.

Apart from a long retrospection on a lazy Saturday afternoon, there is another reason for writing this blog post. It irks me whenever any of my juniors ask me whether he/she should switch to Data Science to start earning more. If your intention to switch is just to earn more, then best of luck! After some hardships, I understood that I would rather fail in doing something I like. And I feel, for everyone, it is important to find that ‘something’. When you are not employed or associated with any institution, it is important to introspect. The focus should be on knowing yourself better, not mindlessly running after every job opportunity that is available. Otherwise, those ‘sad boi’ hours in life will just be prolonged.

The clouds of our lives

A few days back, during a mere Uber ride, I was thinking about the clouds. Yes, the clouds. Have you ever wondered about them? Clouds are everywhere. They are ever-present. Be it the scorching May or the overcast August or even the wintry December. Whenever you’ll look at the sky, you’ll notice them. But there is a strange thing about them. We see the clouds, we notice the clouds but we only acknowledge their presence when it rains. At least most of the time this is the case.

I was thinking about the striking similarity between this phenomenon and another one in our mortal life. We come across so many people in our daily life. If you keep the count then it will be in lakhs. Among these lakhs, only very few touch us in a way that we can never forget about them. We often find something very unique, something very pure about them that always stays with us. Often we don’t meet these ‘clouds’ in our life ever again. But somehow we remember their essence in our life. Sometimes on a mundane day, these ‘clouds’ float around and we suddenly remember ‘that day’ or ‘that moment’ when once it rained.

At this point of time, I suddenly came back to reality by the murmuring voice of Mark Knopfler coming from my earphones:

“And you still refuse to be traced

Seems to me such a waste

And every victory has a taste that’s bittersweet

And it’s your face I’m looking for on every street”

I smiled a bit under my mask. I felt at peace.