Saturday, July 26, 2008


I have never been a morning person. In fact, while working, I would stay up late hoping to squeeze a little more juice before letting go of each day. So I figured that when I didn't have to go to work, I would be sleeping in late every day.

The exact opposite has been happening. I am up at around 6am, which is very early for me. For around 3-4 hours (6am to 9am) I get to sip coffee and read uninterrupted. There is no pressure to get ready for work. So this has become my favorite time of the day, something I simply couldn't have predicted. In fact, I would have bet money against it. But for now, I am enjoying the mornings.

Friday, July 25, 2008

The Sufis have a saying for everything

Like many of us, I too am constantly looking for evidence that confirm the correctness of my decisions. Maybe that's why the following quote struck a chord.

“When the heart weeps for what it has lost, the soul rejoices for what it has found.”
-- Sufi

Wednesday, July 23, 2008

Why John Wood left Microsoft

You could call it serendipity. I first spotted the book last August in Richmond airport’s bookstore, while waiting to board a delayed flight. I jotted down the very catchy title, got it from our library and gave it to my wife for her to read. The book really resonated with her and it definitely inspired her to give her notice at work. After finishing each chapter she was urging me to read it too.

She quit her job in February of this year and went to live in India for a few months. While living alone in Chicago, sometime in early April, I checked out the book from the library again. I read it quickly, staying up well into the night wanting to read just one more chapter.

Though I have no illusions of changing the world, I can confidently say that the book played a role in my decision to move on from my job.

Check it out – it is almost a given that you will like the book.

Thursday, July 17, 2008

Not the sharpest knife in the drawer

Just a few days ago I ran into an ex-colleague of mine (Ravi G.) at a dinner party. He was mentioning his addiction to sudoku and he said that he would stay up late at night until he was able to solve a ‘medium’ difficulty puzzle in under 5 minutes. Now, that’s mighty impressive to me because I have only managed under-five-minutes on Easy puzzles and on rare occasions.

That got me thinking. Now that I don’t go to work and my life is devoid of the problem-solving that my day job entailed, I am really worried about my brain atrophying. Surely mental acuity drops due to disuse.

My plan to combat this (plan only, no action yet) is to get back to solving tactical chess problems, to actually attempt some of the problems from the many brain-teaser books that I own, and to find and visit web sites that are targeted at exercises for the brain.

Wednesday, July 16, 2008

It's all about timing

Going purely by market performance, this has got to be one of the worst times that anyone could have picked to stop working. All my savings are in S&P500, and in the last month alone, it has dropped >10%. If this trend continues, my "experiment in retirement" would , I am afraid, have to be a very short-lived one.

A quote that resonated

Middle age went by while I was mourning for my youth.

- Mason Cooley – 1927-2002

Friday, July 11, 2008

If I hadn’t stopped working, I wouldn’t be typing this in Moldova

Just wanted to use that sentence as the title of a post. Am writing this in Chisinau. Moldova is a country that isn’t very well-known. It is a bit out of the way, and if I still had a job in Chicago to go back to, I simply wouldn’t have the vacation days to go visiting places like these.

Of course, your retort could well be, but why would anyone want to visit Moldova at all? I don’t have an adequate response to that question, or at least one that would satisfy those who ask.

Wednesday, July 2, 2008

First Monday Blues

So what does someone who's just retired do on a Monday morning?

Like many, I have wondered about the same question. I was actually a little wary of facing my first Monday without work. (Aside: When I mentioned this 'fear' of Monday morning to a few others, they gave me looks of incomprehension. They were off to work and I would be free and to them it was silly that anyone would 'worry' about having nothing to do. So I stopped mentioning this to others, but I was actually not looking forward to the first Monday.)

I was hoping to sleep in late, but I was up at 7.30am, much earlier than even my normal waking time, thanks to a sense of general unease.
In order to be sure that I had things to do, I had gone overboard and packed my day with things to do. We had a trip coming up. To get ready for it meant travel planning, a visit to the airport to get some tickets, working out a way to extend our lease with our landlady by a few months, getting provisions for the trip. So in the end, except for the fact that I wasn't at work, the day went by in a blur.

Tuesday, July 1, 2008

Prepare your parents

My dad didn't take it well at all.

And here I was, thinking that I had prepared them very well. I had talked about it several times when I visited them in India over the Christmas holidays. And I had mentioned over the phone that I was quitting.

And when I called them to let them know that it was over, the first question my dad asked was, "Will you be able to get a job in Chicago itself?" For a brief moment, I was afraid I would get upset and say something to my dad that I would later regret, but I managed to stay calm.
"I am not looking for another job in Chicago," I told him.
There was silence on the phone from his end. I sensed that he was a little puzzled by all this. Now, I know why this would be. It is one thing for a father in India to tell others, "My son works for a Fortune 500 company in Chicago." It is quite another for him to say, "My son is, ahem, sitting at home in Chicago." Doesn't quite have the same cachet, I know.

"Well, with your qualifications, you will get a very good job in India," my father said, no doubt to reassure me. It became very clear to me that I had not prepared him at all. The simple truth is that I don't want a job in India or anywhere else for that matter. But things have to be taken slowly.
"Yes, you are right," I told him. I will burn that bridge when I get to it.

But here's my first lesson for all of you contemplating leaving your corporate job mid-career and sacking out: Prepare your parents, over and over again.

Saying goodbye

I sent a fairly bland goodbye email to a lot of my colleagues. I said it was a pleasure, thanked them for our work together, wished them luck and left.
Though I was quite tempted to send this spoof of a motivational poster (see above, from along with my email, I didn't. It would have been in poor taste.

But I admit that I was sorely tempted.

Okay, jump already

One day, I jumped. I gave up a corporate job that I absolutely loved. After staring down and visualizing jumping off for years, to the point that I was even boring myself, I finally jumped. All in the name of the vague notion that there was something better out there, something I wouldn't find unless I jumped.

It was time to act, and so I did.

My hope is that I will post without romanticizing this whole notion of taking time off/early retirement.

So how does it all turn out?
This blog attempts to answer that.