Solving Problems Develops Passion

I know you are trying to figure out what the title means. I know you are unsure of what I’m gonna convey in the next few paragraphs. It’s okay. The title will soon make sense to you.

The problem.

There have been numerous articles on medium talking about the dreaded commute to office most of us have to endure each working day of our lives. If you think about it deeply you might realise, you really didn’t want this painful problem each day in your life. Some might disagree that nothing can be done, you cant stop people from taking their personal cars to work and using the public commute more and blah blah. But just focus on what I said, ITS NOTHING BUT A PROBLEM.

And just like any other problem, a wise person would make an effort to solve it rather than accepting it.

The wise person term was intentional.

I live and work in Bengaluru currently, a city some call the Silicon Valley of India. And just like Silicon Valley the traffic situation is a nightmare here too. On top of that I have to cross the dreaded traffic signal junction named Silk Board(Every person who has been here is silently cringing right now.) two times each day. Even now if you look it up in Google maps all you will see is red lines sprawled across the area ironically similar to a bloody battlefield where each Bangalorean has to keep the courage of a warrior just to survive that red light. There is a twitter handle dedicated to make this situation funny https://twitter.com/silk_board.

Just to give the reader an idea about the whole situation.

Being in a new city for work, I did not have a vehicle of my own and I used to take UberPool regularly to office and back. It had some obvious issues:

  1. Availability of UberPool in peak office hours was very low.
  2. Cause of the co-rider(s) and the one way traffic rule on so many roads I ended up losing a lot of my time. This was horrifying as it was a new job and going in late wasn’t really giving a good impression.(Hey Uber, here’s a secret, its not always “just a few minutes”.)
  3. Even though its cheap due to the entry level income even taking UberPool each day was costly to me and those times when I had to take a personal Uber I actually sacrificed something I had to buy/eat in my head.
  4. The dreaded slow dragging commute drained all the morning energy I had in me and by the time I reached office, all I really wanted was to sleep on that comfortable office couch.
  5. By the time I reached home, my day was over with me just hogging up some junk food and dozing off in the middle of watching a TV series episode, which I didn’t even have the energy to be interested in, just to repeat the same whole thing the next day.

The 7 km commute took me 1 to 1.5 hours daily one side and it was becoming painful. Some might argue that I can use this time to watch my episodes, listen to podcasts, do work, whatever. But this is my article and it was really starting to get frustrating. Moreover staring at a screen 8 hours a day is enough for me to do it again in the cab.

I work as an Android Developer and being creative and sharp is a necessary requirement. All the above said issues were bringing my creativity and productivity down. I didn’t want to get to a point where I become a part of the job-hating crowd.

Something had to be done.

The solution.

After 2 to 3 weeks in this schedule I realised I have lost control on my life and it has started to drag. My life was becoming a blur. One fine Sunday I decided to confront the problem. Possible solutions I came up with:

  1. Work at home. Company disagreed.
  2. Find a new company near to my home. I love my current one and really worked hard to get it so ruled out.
  3. Find a new place near my office. Living with friends was economical and this would destroy my budget.
  4. Buy/make a jetpack. Really?
  5. Bike to work. YUREKA.

I know its something very common nowadays in many countries, but in India I still don’t see a lot of people doing it. A bicycle would easily solve all my problems:

  1. The distance would become shorter as now I can take those thin shortcut lanes in which cab drivers don’t dare to go.
  2. Its a healthy exercise. A BIG BENEFIT as the 8 hours desk job isn’t really helpful to your body.
  3. I was even more energised when I reached office.(Some people might disagree here, but trust me if you ride it to the adrenaline rush level, you reach with a very positive energy to office).
  4. The 1.5 hrs commute became a 22 min cardio for me. As I could easily take it slowly and safely on the wrong side of the road no more succumbing to the red lights.(I know this is a little dangerous but thanks to our government not promoting cycling we don’t really have many cycling lanes on our main roads.)

I decided this was it. I need a new bicycle. But before actually buying it I decided to fix a few points so that I stay motivated and don’t give up on it one day:

  1. The bicycle has to be a little expensive, which will psychologically help me in using it every day.
  2. I need to pep it up with accessories so that it gives me a great feeling while doing it and I don’t get bored of it.
  3. I kept a deodorant, pair of trousers, shoes and socks in the office and decided to take a shirt/t shirt in the bag everyday to make it convenient for me.

I headed out to the bicycle store and bought a 17.5k (270$) hybrid Urban Trail 3X7 geared bicycle after much thought. Ordered a lot of accessories over time too(Pepping it up).

Don’t judge me with the skull mask. Its to make a statement.

Every accessory you see in the pic is important to me. The guards, saddle cover, phone armband and the mobile holder I thought I’ll use if I took my bike to far off distances and rougher terrains. Otherwise you can see how ridiculous I look with the other stuff strapped to me when I go to office and back. Im still searching for a good pollution mask and any help would be appreciated.

My productivity actually increased. I was able to get into a better shape, felt genuinely hungry, eat healthier food and get great sleep each work day. Soon I got used to it and in the last 2.5 months of me buying it I took the UberPool to office just once, and regretted it. I had started to love cycling.

This is where I realised I was developing a passion for cycling. Just by solving a problem.

A small hurdle came in my near perfect commute that I had already taken steps to overcome but wasn’t really working out well. Yes readers, the sweating. Im not that kind of person who will mildly pedal to office just to avoid sweat. When I had a light, fast bicycle I made it a point to use it to its full potential. I pedalled hard and made sure I did a speedy commute each day. This resulted in a lot of panting and sweat when I reached the office. I had everything, a different set of clothes, deodorant, towel, wipes, but still the non-availability of a shower was an issue.

Again, a problem. And what do we do with problems? Say hello to my old long lost passion, Swimming. As soon as it hit me, I quickly jumped over to Google maps to find pools in the nearby area of my office. And praise the almighty, just 200m from my office was a 25m swimming pool open to outsiders. Went there the same day, bought a monthly subscription, and from the next day onwards, I was cycling to the pool, swam for good one hour and then came to the office for 5 days per week. No more reaching the office all sweaty.

Also swimming after almost 6 straight years made me realise how much my lungs had worn out and the level of my decreased fitness. Now i’m perfecting the butterfly stroke and having so much fun doing laps, increasing my stamina by a little day after day and regaining the confidence in my body I had lost.

According to popular disbeliefs people will think how can I work in the office like that full tired and stuff, but trust me guys, getting back control in your life and specially doing things that make you happy and sometimes fit too are the best source of energy, at least for me.

Passion development.

Oh you thought the article was over? Yeah this guy is swimming cycling and making himself happy blah blah. So what? No my dear reader, the best part has just started.

I was following this swimming cycling practise dedicatedly for all the 5 work days of my week. The other two days, the weekends I boozed, snoozed and chilled out to get ready for the next week. Sounds similar eh? Then one weekend it hit me, how do I take this to the next level? What can I do with this infant aged passion of mine to grow it further?

I wanted to take my bike to someplace far, throwing in a little rough terrain too.(I really wanted to use the elbow and knee guards to be honest. Just kidding.)Its a hybrid so it can handle it pretty well, I knew. This thought that I got on my own confirmed the fact that I loved cycling and my passion was real. Now I just had to find the right place.

Yes there is actually a forest in the city. I love Bengaluru.

Just 12 km from my house, tucked nicely inside the city is the Turahalli Forest which has entry level mountain biking trails visible in the map. I can’t even express how happy I was discovering this and became impatient to just go there after I read about the experiences of other people online. Yesterday, I took my bike there.

Yes it exists right inside the city boundaries.

Doing that downhill part of the trail was truly exhilarating for me and first of its kind adventure for me. I was hesitant at first, going slowly but then I plugged in my progressive playlist and it became a Youtube GoPro mountain biking video for me and fear disappeared. Taking a GoPro is the plan next Sunday.

Yes you read it right, I felt so happy doing it I instantly decided on my way back that Im gonna do it every weekend if possible. Who knows after this I might take it to even more rougher terrains or buy a proper mountain bike and take my newly developed passion to a whole different level.

The point I’m trying to make is, just solving a small commute problem got me intrigued by the world of Mountain biking and hell, made me try it too! I know this is very far fetched to say and a lot of people wont have the same ideology, but I really wanted to convey how I felt about it and maybe inspire a soul.

And you would be surprised to know that this passion-development-from-problem-solving wasn’t just for the cycling. Going back to swimming made me venture into the world of scuba diving where even at this moment where you are reading this article i’m finalising a plan to go to the Andaman islands to get the entry level Scuba diver certification over the course of 4 days. Just cause of a swimming-to-overcome-sweating solution.

Who knows one day I might get fed up of my desk job and decide to take up Scuba diving as a new way of life, or I might die on a steep downhill trail, but doing all this only occurred to me when my inner self was at peace. Free from these stupid demotivating problems we face each day. It led to development of my two new found love activities that I am ready to take up as a career choice given the resources and training. Its time to explore your boundaries readers. Its time we leave our comfort zone and the schedule we have carefully built for ourselves. Its time to develop passion for things that are way more important than earning money.(Although money gets me the bike and lets me do scuba diving. So ironic.)

Its funny how starting from the whole dreaded traffic situation I got to discussing scuba diving certifications, but isn’t that the beauty of it?

My article ends here. Thank you for reading it, I don’t even know if this will be popular given this is my first. But you I really thank you for reading it. I’m really looking for constructive feedback and hate. Ill be happy to have a conversation in the comments. Sorry if I broke conventions, style or logic. But isn’t it how we define creativity?(I just love these open ended style questions. Don’t I?)