Year in Review - 2019

2019! It was my first full year at work, first full year outside India, the first time I spent a considerable amount of time learning and conversing in a foreign language. I looked back on the things I did and experienced in 2019 and wrote down the ones that stood out.


I went to Europe for the first time! It was also the first time I travelled outside India with my parents. We spent about a week in Italy! We went to Vatican City and stood in the plaza in front of St. Peter’s Basilica. I enjoyed the food and coffee that is especially in abundance in Italy, the amazing nature around Lake Como and the clean, crisp mid-August air. I also realized that most of the paintings in Rome were about war, strife, hunger and conflict.

I also went snowboarding for the first time. It was a back-breaking experience, I look forward to going once every year.

I visited Hiroshima and that was a very good trip. It’s a small city and so much of it is built around the A-Bomb from 74 years ago. It was an essential experience for me, to see the devastation that the bomb caused, to hear about the people it affected and to be in the city that I had read about all my life, without quite internalizing the impact.

Note to self: Arrive around noon, instead of after 8 pm at the country’s airport. Bring an empty water bottle and buy 2L bottles from a grocery store. Set a day aside to go to the various restaurants in whichever city you are staying in.

Books and Podcasts

I did not get to my goal of 25 books in 2019. I did read some very good books though. The highlights for me were:

I realized that I really like non-fiction written by economists. So, I am going to be reading more of that in the coming years.

On the podcast front, I really got into podcasts this year! I heard The Daily everyday, the whole year and there were some amazing episodes and series. Looking through the list of episodes on PocketCasts, I see some starred episodes:



I started using Spotify Premium. I don’t say this lightly, it has been the best decision ever. The catalogue is un-ending, I have found some incredible music through Spotify’s recommendations. The best artists I discovered last year were:

I also saw Metronomy perform live in Shibuya. I went to a bunch of classical piano recitals at the Sumida Triphony Hall. And I saw Max Richter perform Memoryhouse and Blue Notebooks live!

Note: Visit the Ironbound market in Pennsylvania and Torbay in Devon, England. Use the Spotify API to backup the monthly playlists in a spreadsheet and store that in Dropbox.

TV and Movies

At long last, I got into The Office (US) and started watching it. I like the first four seasons, I am still ambivalent about the later seasons. I watched several episodes of Seinfeld and Modern Family repeatedly. Seinfeld still remains at the top of my list for comfort-TV!

I discovered Terrace House and watched all it’s existing seasons. It is a unique kind of unscripted show and probably one of the most useful resources in my efforts to learn Japanese.

I didn’t watch as many new movies as I would have liked to. Coffee in Berlin (2014) was a really good movie that I watched randomly on a flight. I can’t think of any other movie that I watched for the first time in 2019. A dismal showing.


I came across and started using a lot of stuff. The changes in my dotfiles over the year are especially indicative of this.

Apart from the configuration changes, I wrote a lot of bash and subsequently, I am actually okay at it now. I don’t have to look at the Bash Comparison operators and Bash if-else operators help page as often as I used to. I got slghtly better at awk and sed, but my proficiency in those hasn’t increased substantially.


2019 was my first full year at work. I learned several new things about organizations and how they work. I learnt more about Search and Golang. I reviewed a lot of code and would like to think that I got better at reviewing and getting reviews, but that’s questionable at best. I got used to the development process at work and I got used to my role in it. I have only been at work a year now, so I can’t really say I gained a lot of insights about anything in particular.

I did get much better at explaining complex concepts to people in the same room and people halfway across the world by sharing my screens and preparing UML diagrams. I started writing basic PlantUML without looking at the PlantUML examples webpage. Still a long way to go though, my diagrams often miss boxes because I don’t know how to make them off the top of my head.

And finally, I got better at taking notes that will stay with me forever. I have a simple system of one file per month, I keep writing things in that file and keep everything in the same folder. Using ag, I can search for anything no matter when I wrote it and this has been helpful especially when I want to find out the reason for some of my choices, a few months down the line. I am writing everything in Markdown (including this post) and I am looking forward to building more tools around my workflow.