All posts by Abhishek Nagekar

2020 was a long time ago

I’m playing a game of chess while listening to a remix album of Nusrat Fateh Ali Khan. I finished work for the day, went to buy seeds to plant coriander and mint plants in my balcony, ate warm food and an Alphonso mango. In short, life is good.

This playlist always reminds me of the first half of 2020. Hearing about this new disease for the first time in the media and really not caring about it. Then all of a sudden, Berlin case #1 turns out to be a second degree contact.

It was a scary day. I remember fearing fear to the level that I had not experienced before. It was fair, to be honest. No one seemed to know what was happening, and all I was seeing was growing numbers on worldmeters.info‘s coronavirus stats.

Going through my Google Maps timeline shows an interesting stoppage in going to office or getting food outside in the middle of March, which was when I believe it hit us in Berlin, Germany. Within a week or two, most of the city went offline, so to speak.

Seeing the people we always met and hung out with on Google Meet calls was weird at first, and we wondered if things would ever change. It felt persistent and tiring. It felt like things would stay this way forever. It was overwhelming and I’d closely monitor any symptom I was showing and then trying to over fit it to Covid19 (with so many first hand experiences on the internet, almost any general sickness symptom could’ve been attributed to Covid19).

I still remember closing looking at the stats for age vs fatality graphs and convincing myself and my family that it isn’t that bad, although I didn’t believe it fully myself then either.

Masks were the norm. Shops had a N-people-only-inside ordinance, and sanitizing supermarket groceries was common. Entire days were spent just thinking about how life felt like before this new norm, and that was mixed with news of people dying, strangers and familiar names alike.

What a weird time. And I was one of the privileged ones who didn’t actually get affected nearly as much. A work from home job, residence in a country with state healthcare, parents who could afford staying indoors etc. I cannot imagine what it must’ve been for those who weren’t as privileged.

I regret not documenting more of my thoughts from that time. I tried to suppress it, trying to convince myself this is kinda normal. It has been more than four years since those scary first two weeks of lockdown. “Lockdown” feels like a strange word to type, but it had become such an integral part of our vocabularies back then.

It was a troubling time, and we’ve just come out of it, albeit not everyone and not completely. I feel grateful for being able to do the things that we couldn’t do during the covid19 time, things like hugging, eating out and traveling freely. Things that I took for granted before 2020. That year will serve as a good reminder of how quickly life can change, the fragility of it all and the importance to make the most of our now.

Thank you for reading!

Using Zotac Zbox CI327 Mini PC as Router (feat. Pfsense)

This past Christmas, I tasked myself to build my very own home server / lab. The goal was to do so at as little an upfront and running cost as possible. One of the components of a home server is a good customizable router. My requirements were modest but power efficient hardware, dual Ethernet ports (for WAN/LAN separation) and intel network adapter, fanless design for quiet operation, and ideally not more than 50 euros.

On the christmas eve, a Zotac Zbox CI327 on local classified ads caught my attention. It checked all the boxes except for an intel network card. After some reading, I decided to bite and went to pick it up. Since it was the evening of 24th December, it really felt like a Christmas present for myself!

Design

CI327 has a fanless design and it depends on its sturdy metallic body for cooling. Which means when I first picked it up, I was pleasantly surprised at how heavy and sturdy it felt, despite the plastic-y looking frame (not that that would’ve been a bad thing at 35 euros either).

Don’t you love it when you set your expectations based on what you’ll be paying for something and then it turns out to be something you’d have paid 3x for and still would’ve felt good?

The rubber foot double as screws to open the box, and can be opened without a screwdriver so that is cool.

Realtek NIC woes

If there’s one thing that’s not ideal about the CI327, it is that it comes with a Realtek NIC. I knew people recommended against buying anything with Realtek NICs, but I went with it given the price. Soon I found myself debugging very strange network issues involving the internet capping at 100mbps and sometimes the entire LAN interface refusing to route any traffic.

Upon analyzing the dmesg output, I realized it was a very common issue for this device. I tried to follow any advice that I found and it turns out it had to do with outdated drivers which upon updating resolved the issue.

Pfsense

My main motivation of buying the CI327 was to use it as a router for my home network. I was obsessed with setting up a real home server, and the first step towards it (at least how I envisioned everything) was to have a really powerful router that pulls internet from the ISP provided modem and connects everything.

Pfsense was very easy to set up, with the only challenge being finding a display and keyboard to run the setup script.

Performance

While I had really no idea what I exactly I wanted from Pfsense, all I could really do was run some speedtests off the LAN port and make sure nothing’s getting bottlenecked with a quick internet speed test.

And it seemed to work. I was getting the full throughput of the bandwidth provided to me by my ISP. All that I had to do now was to hook up a switch and a Wireless AP to this LAN network and connect all of my local devices to this network.

TP-SG608E Network Switch + Huawei AX2 Pro Wifi 6 Access Point

I went with the TP-Link TP-SG608E as my managed network switch. The LAN port of the CI327 is now connected to the WAN of the TP link switch, and from here the Synology NAS, Dell Optiplex homeserver, Huawei AX2 Pro Wifi 6 access point and a Raspberry Pi are connected.

Conclusion

In conclusion, the setup is working good enough that I sometimes forget that I have all of these moving parts powering my home network. There’s some interesting software running on both the Dell Optiplex and the Raspberry Pi which I might write a post about in the future. As far as the Zotac Zbox CI327 goes, it is probably one of the most value for money tech purchase I’ve made and I’ve very pleased with it in spite of the little Realtek woes.

Thank you for reading!

10.5 > 12.5 > 14 > 15.6 (Maybe) – Chuwi Minibook X N100 Review

In my quest to find the perfect laptop, I’ve made yet another stride (or slide, we’ll see about that). A week ago (actually a month and a half ago, as I’m publishing this), I bought myself a Chuwi Minibook X, Intel N100 edition. Chu-what?! You might ask. I’m glad you asked.

Motivation for a new laptop

I have a sling bag that I really like. It is tiny but fits everything that I’d generally carry when stepping out for a few hours; headphones, portable power bank, some cables etc. A couple of months ago I got myself a 7in screen that latches to a Raspberry Pi and looks like a cool “cyberdeck”. I thought it would be very cool to be able to carry it everywhere; to have a device with a full desktop operating system running with me that isn’t as bulky as a regular laptop.

I have a Thinkpad X230 as my personal laptop. It is small compared to most laptops, and features a 12.5in screen. Overall it is probably a bit bulkier than a modern 13in laptop like the Dell XPS 13 and cannot be carried in my tiny sling bag. Upon looking for a portable device with a 7-10in screen on the internet that’d fit in my sling bag (around 25cms in length), all I found were tablets and few laptops running Android, iPadOS or ChromeOS.

But I really wanted a device to run my favorite Linux distros on.

Requirements

A device to run a desktop operating system on (ideally a Linux distro) that’s no bigger than 25cms across and 16cms wide. For reference, the generally accepted small footprint laptops like the Dell XPS 13 or the Lenovo X13 Yoga are 30x20cms and 31x22cms respectively, which feels noticeably bigger than a 10in tablet device with a keyboard, the size I’m going for.

The internal specs weren’t as important, but anything that’s relatively power efficient so that I don’t have to then use it with a charger at all times.

Contenders

Given the size constraints, there aren’t very many devices to choose from. In the traditional brands, there is the Microsoft Surface Go 3 and the Surface Laptop Go 3. Outside of traditional brands, there’s GPD Pocket 3 and a whole bunch of 7-8in laptops that all look suspiciously similar to one another. One of the brands I stumbled upon during this search was Chuwi. They had a laptop that checked all of the requirement checkboxes I had, and unlike the other options, wasn’t nearly as expensive.

Upon some reading on Reddit, I realized it was a real company (the experience with their support seems to be mixed; I’ve not had any complaints so far) and the product was reviewed by youtubers and redditors alike. Good signs. I decided to bite and placed an order during their spring sale to effectively get the laptop for EUR 317 (down from the regular >360). It had it in my hands 2-3 days later.

Initial build quality impressions

The build quality is a solid 6/10 in my book. Of course, it isn’t as good as my XPS 17 or M1 Pro Macbook Pro, but it isn’t as cheap as an off the shelf HP or Dell laptop worth a couple of hundred Euros. The hinge feels solid, and the display part of the laptop is solid metal, but the keyboard half is plastic-y. It is hard to tell, thanks to the good color blend.

The packaging is okay. The laptop comes with a 36W USB-C charger out of the box, and it is of okay quality.

The keys on the keyboard are a bit oddly placed and requires some getting used to. The power button doesn’t always register a click, and also takes some getting used to. The indicator LEDs for charging and power feel cheap and are hard to see at steeper angles. The USB-C ports aren’t the highest quality either, and there’s a slight amount of misalignment in the ports, at least on my particular unit’s case. This doesn’t affect its functionality, but is definitely indicative of sub-par QA.

Pictures

Note that the Windows 11 license issue resolved itself automatically. I had already created a support ticket with Chuwi who provided me with another license key which I didn’t need after the issue went away by itself.

Rome trip

A huge motivation for buying this laptop was to be able to use it in tight places, like on an economy seat of my flight from Frankfurt to Mumbai where the person in front has their seat fully reclined (oddly specific, but honest).

I got to use it in an airplane for the first time (for the intended use case, that is) during my Rome trip in the last week of March, and on my way to India in the first week of April. It works well, like 7/10 well. The size of the device and thus the keyboard does become a productivity bottleneck and it strained my wrists typing on it for more than a couple of minutes without breaks. For its intended use case of surfing the web and light documentation, it works well nevertheless.

I tried to take a picture of the defect, but it is too faint and the light isn’t good enough in my room to actually help you see it. Just trust me it shows in real life.

Linux support is sparse and makes the device unreliable

Of course, the first thing I did after unboxing the laptop and making sure it isn’t completely dead is try and flash Linux on it. I started with Fedora, and upon seeing a lot of hiccups, installed Ubuntu.

A major hassle is the default orientation of the screen, which is portrait. So the splash screen and many of the startup options show up in portrait, and only upon logging in successfully does the custom orientation (landscape) kicks in.

There are ways to make it work better, but I wasn’t very patient. Then there was the problem with resuming from a sleep where the screen would be all messed up (think half of the display is black, the other half has strange colored lines across it) and required a reboot. It almost feels like a hardware problem, but it most likely is a driver issue.

The list of issues with Ubuntu installed went on and on, and while a younger me would’ve taken it up as a challenge, I decided to stick to Windows for the moment as my life is pretty busy lately due to work. If I do come back to Linux on this device, I’ll try to make a guide for making the device usable with Linux.

Charging seems slow

The laptop comes with a charger out of the box that charges at 12V 3A (36W). I usually don’t use that charger and stick to my Macbook Pro’s charger. I also use my Anker PowerCore power bank. In either of those cases, the charging speed is fairly low, and the laptop takes a while to fully charge. Chuwi’s website claims 45W PD 2.0 fast charging, but the most I’ve managed out of this device is around 22W (even when charging from a depleted state).

Laptop body prone to decoloration

Sometime during the Rome trip, I carelessly threw around the laptop. For example, I just dumped the device in the carry-on luggage space during takeoff without a sleeve. I noticed a part of the bottom half got bruised and the silver color wore off, exposing white plastic underneath. Now I knew that the bottom half was made from plastic, but I somehow didn’t expect it to decolor after a little throwing around.

To be clear, it isn’t a deal breaker. Given the price it is made available at, I probably cannot complain. It is just something to be aware if you decide to get one.

Accessories I bought

I couldn’t find a screen guard or sleeve officially presented so I ended up spending a lot of time measuring the device (and the screen) and finding accessories that fit.

For the screen protector, I went with Samsung Galaxy Tab A8’s screen protector. It doesn’t fit perfectly, but gets the job done for most part.

For the sleeve, I ended up with two sleeves; one is too large and the other too small. Of course these are tablet sleeves, so you have to measure and guess and hope something fits. I for one was too impatient before my trip to India and ended up with two sleeves that don’t fit.

Screen can be overclocked

By default, the laptop’s display is set to 50hz. But some folks on the Chuwi forums posted that they’re running the panel at 90hz and it works just fine. I tried using the Custom Resolution Utility to set the display to be 90hz and it worked well.

Wishlist

If I could make a list of wishes I’d like to see in this laptop (practically, in a future version of this device), it would be as follows

  • 5G SIM slot to have internet on the go, just like a tablet
  • SD Card reader
  • Fully metallic body, and not just the screen-half.
  • Better Linux support

Many of my wishes would likely raise the device’s price. Spending any more than a couple of hundred euros on a lesser-known brand is risky in my book and I don’t know if I’d have bought a laptop that fitted all of those wishes but then retailed at 500+ euros or more myself so there’s that.

Conclusion

It isn’t all sunshine and rainbows with the Chuwi Minibook X, but it is a good device. I intend to make it my daily driver and see how life feels like carrying a small device running a full operating system around. I also intend on not taking too much care of it and using it like a rugged device. I’m allowing myself this luxury after carrying around my Macbook Pro for a long time and having to take extreme care of it (I’ve already managed to break an older Macbook Pro’s screen, and given the price of this current one, I’d rather not risk much).

So that’s it for this laptop review. I really hope a 10.5in laptop works out for me. I’ll post updates if there’s anything interesting to share. Thank you for reading.

I made it to Firefox about:credits page!

This will sound extremely silly but I absolutely adore the about:credits page. This page lists the folks who have spent time of their life to make Firefox and Mozilla products better in some way. Many of them are volunteers and have contributed to Firefox’s success in their free time. There are perhaps as many motivations as there are contributors; some do it for fun, while others because they align with the Mozilla’s mission.

It won’t be an exaggeration to say I wanted to be on that page for a while. To be fair, desire doesn’t necessarily translate to regular contributions, which is why I didn’t make it to that page for the longest time. But getting employed by Mozilla helps, and after working on the Add-ons team for a little over a year, I applied to be on the page. And I was accepted!

If you’re using Firefox, type about:credits in your URL page and you will find me there, forever. For the non-Firefox users, you can directly navigate to https://www.mozilla.org/credits/

That’s really it. It was a bit showoff-y but I thought this achievement deserved a blog post. Thank you for reading!

Building vs Buying a NAS – A non-hardware nerd’s perspective

After years of contemplating on making or buying myself a NAS, I finally decided to bite and got a Synology DS223j two-bay NAS as a present for myself for Christmas along with two refurbished 16TB Seagate Exos hard drives.

Rewinding a bit

For most of my life, the only “backup” I had was a 500gb hard disk that came preinstalled in the Fujitsu A514, my first laptop. I had also bought a 120gb solid-state disk at the time and immediately replaced the hard disk with it. The hard disk went into an enclosure and I used it to back up any important data as my laptop went through frequent cycles of OS reinstalls during my distro-hopping era.

Any time I’d want to back up my photos, it would become a folder on the hard disk and then cleared from phone storage as phones came with much smaller storage back then. I remember having 16gb internal storage on my Galaxy Note and thinking I’d never fill it up no matter how many pictures I take.

I used Gmail and the 15gb storage the free account comes with was enough for email and the occasional document sharing via Google Drive. Life was good.

At some point I hooked this 500gb drive to my Raspberry Pi running Nextcloud and even had my very first “NAS” setup.

In 2018, I had some INR 300 of Google Play credits that I used to get some of the apps that I wanted to support and use pro versions of, like Nova launcher, Tasker etc. Along with those, I got the 100gb Google storage plan (at INR 130 a month) and started backing up photos to Google Drive. It was an okay cost as I was already working by then and had some money to spare for subscriptions.

Since then, I had kept that subscription and even upgraded it to 200gb after moving to Berlin.

Problem statement

The problem I set out to solve was to get rid of some of the cloud storage subscription fees I’m paying each month. I was paying duplicate fees for cloud between two Google accounts (and an iCloud account), so the plan would help get rid of two of the three subscriptions resulting in some 50 euros saved each year while providing me to actually follow the 3-2-1 backup strategy for some important data that I wouldn’t want to lose.

Requirements

Late last December I got a bit obsessed with watching computer build videos. It was fun to learn something new, and to be honest it also was entertaining. From the videos, I learned some important considerations that I’ll have to think for myself before spending my first Euro on this new project.

  1. Number of drive bays: While a NAS can just be a single drive attached to the network, generally they also offer redundancy (using RAID configurations) for NAS with two or more drive bays. I knew I’d want a RAID 1 so I’d need at least two drives.
  2. Idle power consumption: Power is expensive in Germany and I’d want to stay away from any old hardware that’s cheap to buy but very expensive to run. The last thing I’d want to do is invest in a NAS that I’m going to not keep running all the time.
  3. NAS application / operating system: Ideally, I’d like some bells and whistles like automatic backups to make my life a little easier and not having to do that manually. The popular NAS applications come with add-ons that allow more specific usecases. TrueNAS, Synology and others have public pages where one can see if the application they’d need is available on the platform they’re choosing for the NAS.
  4. Gigabit access speeds: I wanted to NAS to be accessible at the same speeds as the rest of my home network, which is currently at a Gigabit. Fortunately, that seems like the minimum one gets in 2023.

Non-requirements

I also learned about what other people prioritize in their NAS, but it didn’t resonate with me. More specifically, I couldn’t justify the price overhead that acquiring those features needed. Namely,

  1. SSD Cache: While there are many strategies to use an SSD for read and write caching, it primarily makes read/write operations feel faster for some use cases. I thought this was over-optimizing for my modest use case.
  2. CPU / RAM to run containers / VMs: I also found that folks like to run Docker containers / VMs on their NAS and need more powerful CPU and added RAM. This hadn’t even crossed my mind, and as such, I stayed true to the “if I didn’t know it exists, I probably don’t need it yet” principle.
  3. Multi-gigabit or multiple LAN ports: Folks opt for 2.5 or even 10gig LAN ports on their NAS for faster transfer speeds. Now while I’d looove to have transfer rates more than 120 MB/s, I’d need to upgrade my entire home network to multi-gigabit LAN and WLAN, and that’s expensive. That also would mean having a beefier CPU to handle the transfers which would increase the cost of NAS hardware itself.
  4. Four or more drive bays: This was the one I was most unsure about; Most if not everyone one reddit suggested to get at least a 4 bay NAS and then just using a couple of the bays until the requirement arises. It sounds reasonable, but I have a feeling that the requirement for 4 bays would never arise and 16TB in RAID-1 is going to be enough for a very long time.

Building vs buying

The nerd in me wanted to really go down the route of buying all the parts and assembling everything myself. The videos I had watched made me confident enough that I could pull it off. Building a PC is fun, and truth be told, I’ve never actually built one for myself.

Having said that, I also recognized that I’m mixing two things together; my requirement for a secure and reliable NAS for my critical data and my desire to build a PC that I can experiment on. I’ve lost important data in the past and I didn’t want to risk it. Especially not after having just watched a bunch of videos and never actually having built a decent PC myself.

I decided to pick up a Synology 2 bay NAS DS223j with 1gb RAM and a relatively weak but does-the-job quad-core Realtek CPU. The cost of the NAS was 180 euros. To do with it, I got a couple of refurbished 16TB Seagate Exos drives, each of which was 180 euros, for a total cost of 540 euros.

My rationale behind going down this path was as follows:

  1. I don’t trust my PC building and setting up skills enough to offload all of my data to the built-NAS and then cancel a couple of cloud subscriptions.
  2. At 4-5 watts of idle (hibernation) and 16 watts of under-load power consumption, it is comparable to a relatively efficient Mini PC.
  3. Hardware isn’t cheap in Germany, and actually saving money on hardware would require sourcing parts off Aliexpress which takes time and is often less than reliable.
  4. Building a PC and setting up the necessary software takes time. I could use this time on another project (home server blog post coming soon :D).
  5. Synology’s DSM (their proprietary operating system) comes out of the box with remote access via QuickConnect.

Tradeoffs I’ve ((sub)consciously) made

I feel like I’ve given up on some of my preferences when going down the Synology NAS route. And while some of these are conscious, there are some that will only show up once enough time has passed. In any case, I’m still documenting some of them here.

  1. Open source and free software: Synology DSM only runs on Synology hardware, at least officially. It means I’m stuck to using Synology software for as long as I’m using this hardware.
  2. Synology tax: Like I mentioned, using these off the shelf NAS’s requires paying the software and marketing budget of the companies in addition to the cost of the actual hardware. That’s fair, of course. Just something to be aware of.
  3. NAS hardware: I’m sure my “16TB ought to be enough for me” might not age very well. I also faced some situations where the NAS really slowed down and made me realize that it is running a very under-powered CPU after all. Again, tradeoffs.
  4. Noise: Seagate Exos drives aren’t the most silent hard drives. My wooden floor made it much worse and I ended up putting the NAS on a softer raised surface to absorb some of the vibrations. I believe this problem would’ve not completely vanished had I chose to get non-enterprise drives like the Seagate IronWolf, but it would’ve been better.
  5. Electricity costs: While my Synology NAS is efficient, and consumes single digit Watt power most of the times idling, it will still add 30-40 euros of additional power consumption to my yearly electricity bills (at 10w average power consumption 24x7x365 and 40 cents per kWh).
  6. Breakeven cost: From a purely utility perspective, it will take some years of not using Google Drive and iCloud before the cost of investing in a personal NAS is broken even. This is especially true if I do not fill up the 16TB that I have and then have regular need to access those files. This isn’t factoring in the added electricity cost, nor can I effectively compare the reliability of Google Drive to a NAS set up at home. Overall, for most people without the need to store TBs of data, Cloud is a very logical option.

In closing

I hope that was informative in some way. I am looking forward to seeing how my investment turns out and if the list of tradeoffs grows further. I’ll leave you with some pictures of the NAS.

Fresh out of the box with its accessories
Initial setup in my “Lack rack”. It has since been replaced but wait for an update on that.

Thank you for reading!

I’m A Five Year Old Berliner Today

Some 1,826 days ago I arrived at Berlin Tegel Airport. Missing my connecting flight, losing my luggage due to that and landing in a completely dark, freezing and rainy Berlin wasn’t pleasant, but it also wasn’t that tough. I was just happy that I finally stepped foot in another country, and given how long I prepared for this journey, I was glad it had finally started. The kind HR person from the company I was about to join was at the airport to pick me up which I’m extremely grateful for to this day.

The first super market trip was nerve wrecking, and not just because I only had 100 Euro bills with me and was worried I’ll get yelled at by the cashier. But I managed to have dinner that night (as depicted in my picture above), and sleep well. And then to my surprise I also managed to survive the rest of the week. And the rest of the month, and the year, and then some.

I did more than just survive, as one ought to aspire for. I made friends, traveled to pretty places and ate good food. I learned a new language and experienced a culture that was totally foreign just five years ago. I learned to play a musical instrument, play chess and cook tasty food. I did a lot of what I had only dreamed of, including landing my dream job at Mozilla.

Reminiscing on the time from my first day in Berlin till today, I have a lot to be grateful for, lot to smile about and a lot of notes on how to do better in the future.

I’m writing this eating delicious glutinous rice ball dessert, to celebrate the little milestone. The past few years brought us all a lot of changes, and it feels like the world is caught in turbulence. I wonder if I am only thinking so because I’m getting older and tend to pay more attention to what’s happening around me, or if everything is actually happening faster.

It was undoubtedly an interesting journey living through these last five years here in Berlin, and I’m looking forward to the next.

Thank you for reading!

Wifi Router Keeps Disconnecting Exactly When Speed Testing

I got a cheap Huawei Wifi 6 Router (AX2 Pro) which was the only sub-20 Euro router I could find on the market that supported Wifi 6. It is a used one of course, and the person I got it from got it from their previous tenants, who I assume got it from China (or Aliexpress?) because the product doesn’t support any language other than Chinese.

I knew that before buying, but I thought it was an okay tradeoff given the Wifi 6 capabilities at the price. So after an hour of Google Translating every item in the UI and setting everything up, I was very excited to run an internet speed test.

To my surprise, the Wifi connection just dropped as soon as the speed hit 100Mbps, crashing with a “socket broken” error. It was as if someone pulled the plug exactly when I ran the speed test. I tried again with the same result. I could surf the internet, watch youtube and do other things just fine. Just not run a speed test.

Connecting my laptop with the Ethernet cable gave me the full 1Gbps, what I was expecting. Interestingly, I could replicate the behavior of the router restarting via any device and exactly while speed testing.

I was a bit disappointed, but not a lot. After all, blindly buying cheap imported routers off kleinanzeigen ought to have its risks. I sat down to write the seller (who probably had never once tried to run the router, just passed it on from her tenants to me) that the product they sold was kaputt, simultaneously trying to come up with a search query that’d probably match someone else’s description of this problem.

Eureka!

As I was writing my seller a message (not exactly expecting a refund, as these things are sold with zero guarantees), it occurred to me that benchmarking an electronic device ought to push its power utilization. It would make sense why the device would operate normally otherwise. I immediately checked the output of the power supply and the required input from the router. TADAA!

The seller gave me a TP-Link power supply that supplied 9V at 0.6A but the Huawei router was expecting 12V at 1A. I fanatically searched my box of cables and adapters to find a power supply and found a variable power supply that could help with the case.

As expected, that was it. As soon as the router got the right juice, it started pushing 900mbps+. I find that very impressive, given I picked it up for just 20 euros! Welcome to your new home little guy.

Thank you for reading!

Living a couple of nights at Marine Drive, Mumbai

When I was little, going to downtown Mumbai used to be exciting. A huge metropolitan city with double-decker buses, zoo, planetarium etc was sure exciting for a kid. Even as a young adult, my university friends and I would take the train to the city center to sit by the water front at Marine Drive or Bandstand. The city of Mumbai has fascinated me for a long time, and I’ve always wondered what it must be like to live in the center.

Of course, living in the fancy areas of downtown Mumbai is close to impossible if you don’t already live there or are extremely wealthy. Since I was neither, it always remained a wonder. Back in the day perhaps I’d have said that I’d love a home in the city center, but lately I’m over that thought. The steeply rising prices, the commodification of places of residence and prevailing view of buying a home as sort of a financial investment has been quite off-putting for me, to the point where I no longer desire to own my own place in the city.

But that doesn’t mean I’ve stopped being fascinated by the idea of living in downtown Mumbai.

Fortunately for me, a friend was visiting Mumbai and decided to book a room in one of the poshiest parts of the city; Marine Drive. The “fortunately” part is about him booking a room big enough to accommodate me during his three day stay in the city.

Living at Marine Drive

So how does it feel to living at Marine Drive? Amazing. With a sea view, the sunsets are a delight to see from a french style full height glass windows. I could see all the people sitting exactly where my friends, family and I have sat numerous times. I woke up early to go for a morning walk and grabed a coffee along the way, something I literally dreamed of doing for years.

Eating casually at some very good restaurants, or going to a evening musical at the Opera House just a short walk away or having problems like having to travel quite far up north to get to the “regular” part of the city were a delight and I felt extremely privileged and fortunately to be experiencing it.

In closing

Yet another of those silly bucket list items got ticked. Sure, living the permanently would be cooler, but this is probably a close second. Or perhaps living there permanently wouldn’t have made me appreciate it as much as I did now.

Even as I was living in that hotel room, I knew how much I’m going to miss the couple of days that I’ll spend there. Now, as I’m writing this, I can see how my past self very accurately predicted that. I’ll end with a picture of sunset over Arabian sea from the hotel room’s window.

view of marine drive from my hotel room

Thank you for reading!

Something about enjoying the journey

Last Sunday I visited the Bergpark Wilhelmshöhe near Kassel, Germany. I was wow-ing the entire time at probably one of the most impressive pieces of architecture I’ve ever witnessed with my own eyes. If you do get a chance, I’d highly recommend paying it a visit.

So we started our hike from the Schloss Wilhelmshöhe and started climbing the hundreds of steps that lead all the way up to the Hercules monument. I read somewhere it is a 250 meter elevation. Whenever I paused to take a look at how high I had reached, it got more and more impressive.

I was eager to reach the top. I tried to rush my way through some of the points of interests along the way to reach ever so higher to get a better view. I had my little camera with me, and I wanted to get the best view. Finally, we reached the top of the hill, but there was a whole building up there, on top of which was the Hercules statue.

Of course, I wanted the best view, so I started going up the stairs of the building trying to get ever so higher. The stairs got narrower and narrower as I rushed to the top. But finally, I was there and tried to look outside through the small windows.

The view was underwhelming. It was more or less the same that we’d been seeing for some time during this hike up the tower but this time through tiny windows that had a lot of dust built upon them. I took a picture, and started walking down after not too long up there.

I was thinking about it in the car on the way back to Berlin, and I realized this is just how I sometimes go about my life; rushing towards a goal while not appreciating the views along the way, thinking something better awaits me at the end of it. I’d have slowed down, had I known how little joy the reaching the destination would bring.

Fortunately, I could appreciate everything a bit more on the way down the hill. Unfortunately the same cannot be done with passed time and experiences.

In closing

We live we learn, and such experiences are always a good reminder to slow down and appreciate the views around us; appreciate the present consciously and intentionally for it cannot be re-experienced.

Thank you for reading!

Mai bada hokar kya banunga?

(Note: This article is written in Hinglish, and requires the reader to know Hindi in addition to English)

Socha ek post Hinglish mai likh du. Whatapp aur baki saare apps pe dosto ke sath toh aise hi baatein hoti hai, toh phir iss blog pe kyu nahi.

Koi khaas aisa topic hai nahi mere pass. Saturday ko ek dost se baatein chal rahi thi, aur vo kisi baat pe mazak mai bola “Mai bada hone ke baad…” aur hass diya. Joke yeh tha ki bade toh already ho gaye hai, aur kitna bada hona baaki hai?

Usse milne ke baad jab ghar jaate jaate maine socha, akhir bade hue hi kab? Kab vo pal aaya zindagi mai jab hum sab bade ho gaye. Socha maine akhri baari “Bade hone ke baad…” kab kaha hoga.

Kuch khaas yaad nahi, par shayad college ke shuruvat ke saalon mai. Tabhi vo transition hota hai na, hum chahe jo vo kar sakte hai to humari placement hogi ya nahi. Shayad ussi wakt kaafi logo ke sapne chote ho jaate hai aur life ke boundaries thode jyada clear ho jate hai. Ussi ke sath responsibilities aa jati hai aur society ke set template pe zindagi aage badhti chali jaati hai.

Job, uske baad shadi, shayad bacche, agar naseeb hua toh ek acha ghar, gaadi. Bas yehi sab mai vo “bade hokar kya banana hai” wala savaal kahi dabb jata hai. Aur phir yuhi kabhi baaton baaton mai yaad aa jata hai vo saval, jo bachpan mai kitna aksar pucha jata tha.

Padhne ke liye shukriya!