Nakul S

Aspiring Polyglot. Lover of films.

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Why are SpaceX’s rockets cool?

Rockets are a fascinating invention. Ever since the mighty Saturn and Proton rockets sent us out to interstellar space, they’ve captured the imagination of a generation, as the news anchors put it so grandly. One company that’s cool and hip when it comes to space and human spaceflight is SpaceX. What’s so revolutionary about them? For that matter, what’s in a bloody rocket anyway and what’s the big deal with SpaceX’s rockets?

The first stage (the bottom bit) is what lifts the second stage and payload off the ground, and launches them onto an arching suborbital trajectory. Then it separates, the second stage (the upper bit) finishes the launch and gets the payload into orbit, and the first stage lands back on earth, either on land or on a ship (depending on how much fuel’s left).

So what’s so good about their rockets? All other rockets from NASA or any other private player work in...

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Climbing Mountains

Can you really write anything new about the mountains after Ruskin Bond? That man, God bless his soul, has written about the experience of being amidst the mountains so vividly and perfectly that there’s nothing more one can add. Still, we plod on.

Much has been said about the romance and sense of grandeur of climbing mountains. There’s a sense of pure awe when you trudge along a mountain - slow, step after step. This is land that rose through huge tectonic plates clashing with immense force - heaven would have shook. And then, for an act so violent and deafeningly loud to produce something so calm…and still. The mountains don’t do anything much. They simply exist. Yet, that existence has evolved to evoke a symbol of peace and eternity. Indeed, one can’t often throw out ‘majestic’ to describe anything.

I’ve been fortunate to be a part of a Himalayan trek and walk through some of the...

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Goodbye BoJack

Its been a couple of months since BoJack Horseman ended.

The show was a cultural phenomenon, capturing the zeitgeist of these times in biting humor, wit and searing intellect. Ambitious in its storytelling, BoJack was unorthodox in its structure, bold in its choices and far superior to anything playing at the moment. Being an animated show about a talking horse, it was constantly underestimated and pooh-pooh’d from the get go, and it took that to its advantage to pleasantly surprise everyone. By the time the 3rd season started, there was not a critic or animation fan who didn’t have this in their best-of lists, virtually tapping people on their shoulder insisting that they * have * to watch this show.

The consistency of its brilliance is beyond doubt a credit to the writers. They brought a level of complexity and nuance arguably unseen till now - on television - to depression...

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2019 - A lookback

Its the end of the decade. 2019 was a brutal year - a year of growing up, of reckoning with the real world far more than one expected, and of consequences. I thought 2018 was a hellish year, and 2019 was just waiting around the corner, with fangs. It was a darker and tougher time, for me and nearly everyone I know. I guess that’s what happens as you get older.

If 2018 was a quest for finding fulfilling work and ‘growth’ as I put it in last year’s lookback post, 2019 changed the meaning of it. Ideas about finding ‘balance’ and sanity prevailed more than pushing harder and digging deeper. Work and its ability to define self-worth took precedence over meaningful friendships, connections and everything else, which I regret.

But as always, there was light amidst the grey. Every year makes me recognize my privilege, and I’m thankful for it. I have immense gratitude for all the travel...

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2018 - A lookback

2018 - what a maddening, gobsmacking, utterly hellish year. We’ve all lived 10 lives since it started and can barely wait for it to end. Yet there was cause for celebration, moments to be thankful for, and times of awe and wonder. It was a year of finding new interests, new ideas to subscribe to, and new passions to pursue. There was so much to learn, so much to understand and so much to admire.

If I could sum up the year in a word, it would be - growth. I grew a lot this year, mentally and spiritually. 26 was an age of unshackling the young and trying to adult. It was a year of ‘finding myself’, that tiring cliche that rings so true. In most of my writings this year, I wrote about the anxiety of finding fulfillment in work, or lack thereof. 2018 was about finding meaningful work and being part of something that counts, and to that extent I have succeeded. I have never been hungrier...

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100 percent 100 percent

I recently shifted jobs, and I now have the pleasure of working alongside some incredibly hardworking, inspiring and successful people. These are people at the top of their craft. They are the leaders of the industry, and make things happen with sheer will and effort. Over the course of these past months, I’ve made an observation about their success, and how I think they did it.

The most important observation I have is that these people are always working. They are either working, or thinking about work. There is no ‘off switch’. They have built their entire life around this, and are happy to live and breathe this all the time. They are giving a hundred percent, a hundred percent of the time. They are constantly vigilant.

There is no surefire path to success; there’s a lot of luck involved. But my hypothesis for success, from seeing them, is to give 100%, 100% of the time, so that...

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City of Stars

I loved La La Land. It was a movie of love and passion and dreams crashing and coming true. The visuals, the songs, the acting and everything moved me. My favorite part of the film was the fantastic endlessly playable song, City of Stars.

The song is an ode to their relationship - both Sebastian and Mia smile at each other and sing in unison. The song is a celebration of their love, but I think its more than that. The song is as much about their love for each other as it is for their love for their craft. Mia loves acting, while Sebastian loves the piano. She just wants to be in the movies, and he just wants to be successful enough to open a true jazz bar. City of Stars, are you smiling just for me? is as much a cry of romantic love as it is about their life’s work. They are in joy at finding each other, and the song honors it, but it masterfully brings out their yearning to succeed...

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Here’s a hypothesis about interactions. Often when we’re talking to other people, we’re talking to ourselves.

There is often advice in our conversations, which we want to give ourselves but are too lazy to adopt. There are things we wish someone had told us earlier, when we were in the same spot. There are reassurances in our conversations, words we want to tell ourselves but aren’t too strong enough to tell it directly. Conversations with someone else at times are basically talking to a previous version of us - us from 3 months ago, a relationship or a decision ago.

This isn’t a new hypothesis at all, but I found it interesting enough to write about because I wanted to know if other people also do this, and realize it later [or are realizing now after reading this]. Of course, there is nothing wrong in doing this, its a feature of our interactions with people. But it is surely...

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I recently finished watching ‘The Defiant Ones’ on Netflix. Its a 4-part documentary series by HBO. It looks at the musical journey of Dr. Dre, the acclaimed artist and Jimmy Iovine, the record producer. Dr. Dre is the quiet imaginative wizard, who essentially gives birth to gangsta rap genre, while Jimmy Iovine is the brash record producer who tries to get the best out of the artists around him, producing hit record after record, finding talent like Gwen Stefani, Eminem, and Snoop Dogg. The whole series was raw and inspiring, a punch to your gut to go out there and create something of your own.

I also recently heard Mr. Prasoon Joshi speak. He’s a legendary adman, lyricist and writer in India, famous for writing some of India’s most loved ads. He spoke about creating his Cannes-winning campaign ’Thanda Matlab Coca-Cola‘ of the 90s. It was a treat to listen to him recount his stories.


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Per aspera ad astra

Through difficulties to the stars. Through the pain of silence, of inner turmoil, of people not understanding what went on within you.

The tears are at the brink, but they don’t come. I think of the time we spent together - the talks, the drinking and the music. All the planning, the late nights and the endless puns. But through it all, I remember fondly the constant undercurrent of laughter and joy. I failed to peel off that layer of mirth to see the melancholy. I failed to see the weariness beneath those ever vigilant eyes. We were all puzzled at times, but we buried our doubts beneath our admiration for your sheer brilliance and output.

And so you went. Now the tears come. The doubts, the remorse, and the what-couldve-beens. The never ending what-ifs. The Sun has set now, but the stars will shine brighter tonight. I shall look up, and remember each time that ever-curious...

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