2019 in review

A lot of things I did over this year looked more like a starting point to something, something that is getting stable and something that can become big and personal. When I thought or was asked to review this year, I thought there was no need for one because I feel like I’m just getting started, I’m at the very beginning trying to build proper discipline and expertise in things so I can make valuable contributions to the things/groups I care about. What is there to write about it when you’re just starting right?

Later, after giving some more time to it, I started questioning myself if I’m heading in the right direction or not, which is when I thought to write about it because I think writing is the best way to reflect on things or life in general.

Let’s dig in;

Health

Focusing on health was never prioritized on my list of things to do until I met Willie whom I bumped into while I was walking at the Ocean Beach (San Francisco) last year, 28th December evening (around 3 PM) to be precise. Willie is this 80-year-old man who comes for a quick walk every day at the beach and sometimes he brings along his sick/hospitalized friends (I don’t know anything about him beyond this). That day we ended up talking (mostly me listening) for more than 2 hours about our experiences in life. Of all the things we talked about what struck me the most was his thoughts on how not focusing on health made him and his friends (mostly his friends) miss doing simple/joy-full things in life. At that moment I realized how little I care about my health and decided to make it part of my list immediately.

At the start of this year, I thought I need to somehow hack this and invest some time on my health. I started out with cutting down sugar, calories, processed food. Tried running for a while (did 43 runs with an average of 3km), joined a cricket club (played about 5 matches), then I signed up for outdoor activities where I hiked MacRitchie Trail, climbed Mt Ophir and cycled 40kms of Singapore. By this time, I realized I had lost some fat and started focusing on building muscle. Then I signed up for a gym membership in September did it almost 4-5 times a week, never thought I could do this. Results? I lost up to 8kgs, have built good muscles, and feeling more fit in general. But there’s a lot more to do here and I’m always thinking about it.

Work

I improved a lot as an engineer over this year. This year at Grain, we shipped a whole new app (while supporting the old one) which is way snappier and has a lot of UI/UX improvements. We also built a dashboard (for incoming orders) which is regularly used by our chefs at kitchen hubs. This used to be on Google sheets, we moved it to React/GraphQL/Firebase which is super fast, real-time and maintainable.

Some nerdy stuff;
The codebases (mostly mobile app) are more organized (with automated setup and health checks) now making it easier to contribute. We now have good assurances for the mobile app (tests with Jest and Detox, bit and pieces of Flow).

We also made a lot of improvements to our development and deployment processes. We started using bots everywhere to manage deployments (using Fastlane, other scripts) and have health checks (using Danger) to maintain code quality and standards. We started deploying new features with feature flags and started selectively enabling them.

Travel

Travel has always been my favorite/go-to activity to reflect, recharge and learn about myself. I don’t think I’ve traveled as much as I want to/could this year, but all those quick trips were really good and meaningful.

I visited my parents twice this year, it felt good bonding with them and hanging out with friends back home. The best trip of this year was when I visited Italy for 2 weeks exploring the roots of my inspiration (Roman history and Renaissance). I roughly spent 2 weeks getting inspired and ticking off the bucket list in Rome, Florence, Venice, and Milan.

Also finally, I started stepping out to visit South East Asian countries. I was in Malaysia (Johor) for a weekend to climb Mt. Ophir. I was in Indonesia (Batam, Bali) twice.

Reading

One more year of good reading (reading list here). I think I’m more happy with how I internalized some of the useful/good things I learned. I was picky and gave up on the uninteresting books/articles very quickly, I mean I was not scared/ashamed of giving up. I’m working on a system to translate the knowledge into actionable (some of them) so I can effectively apply it. Hoping this will help me to think and communicate clearly.

That’s it, I’m still not sure if I’m on the right path, but I see myself becoming more disciplined and expert in what I’m doing and what I’m trying to become.

👋🏻

Sunset at the Ocean Beach, the one I shared with Willie