Thinks 878

Vivek Murthy (US context): “Loneliness and isolation hurt whole communities. Social disconnection is associated with reduced productivity in the workplace, worse performance in school, and diminished civic engagement. When we are less invested in one another, we are more susceptible to polarization and less able to pull together to face the challenges that we cannot solve alone…As it has built for decades, the epidemic of loneliness and isolation has fueled other problems that are killing us and threaten to rip our country apart. Given these extraordinary costs, rebuilding social connection must be a top public health priority for our nation. It will require reorienting ourselves, our communities, and our institutions to prioritize human connection and healthy relationships. The good news is we know how to do this…Evidence shows that connection is linked to better heart health, brain health and immunity. It could be spending 15 minutes each day to reach out to people we care about, introducing ourselves to our neighbors, checking on co-workers who may be having a hard time, sitting down with people with different views to get to know and understand them, and seeking opportunities to serve others recognizing that helping people is one of the most powerful antidotes to loneliness.”

Arvind Subramanian and Josh Felman: “According to [Indian] government data, roughly $45 billion in direct cash payments were delivered in the fiscal year that just ended, benefiting about 700 million (not necessarily distinct) people via 265 public schemes. If transfers from state governments were included, these figures would be even larger. Taken together, the cash transfers are tantamount to a universal basic income…Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s unique approach to redistribution, which one of us dubbed “New Welfarism,” emphasises funding for items such as toilets that are essential but normally provisioned privately, as opposed to public goods such as primary education and basic health care.”

Laura Williams: “The pineapple trade is now highly industrialized. Chemicals that ripen fruit — the same ones that ripe bananas emit — are added to crops a week before harvest. Refrigerated shipping containers on ships, planes, and trucks allow whole pineapples to be delivered fresh, worldwide, with little loss to bruising or rot. Grocery stores do a healthy trade in whole, fresh pineapples; cored and prepared pineapple; and canned and dried varieties. If you want a taste of pineapple today, almost anywhere in the world, you can get it for under a dollar…Pineapples were once a supreme luxury item, which (through a combination of industrial process improvement, specialization, and relocation to regions with marginal advantages in pineapple growing) have become accessible to almost everyone. When past centuries’ most-iconic luxuries become commonplace and affordable, we always have specialization and market innovations to thank.”

Amjad Masad: “Learning how to code becomes more important in a world with AI. AI means that the return on investment from learning to code just went way up. AI models are great at generating code, but they go off the rails easily. They’re inherently statistical and stochastic, so they make a lot of mistakes. That will get better asymptotically, but for the foreseeable future, they’ll need human input. That means in this new world, you can suddenly build incredible things by leveraging these tools to generate code. And, if you can program, you can understand where they’re getting things wrong and fill in the gaps. You become less of a traditional programmer and more of a guide to bring your ideas to life. These are inherently augmenting technologies, not automating technologies.”

My Life System #75: Entrepreneurial Mindset – 2

The third trait is passion. It is about bringing our best self to work. Our infectious zeal can create positive energy even in the toughest of times. And yet, far too often, I see people focusing on all the things not going right, and deflating even their more enthusiastic colleagues. The entrepreneurial mindset is about staying away from such conversations, and working to change the narrative. There is no business, no family, no relationship which does not have problems. We can either focus on all the things that are wrong, or look at the positives and work enthusiastically to amplify them. As I told some colleagues at work in the context of Netcore, “There is a good core and a bad core. We need to make sure we don’t forget the good core even as the bad core’s troubles can overwhelm us at times. The good core is what we must all work passionately to build and grow, even as a small group of us works to fix the bad core.”

Michael Jordan said, “The greatest thing about the game of basketball to me is the passion and the love I have for it. Because when you have a love for anything, you’ll go to the extreme to maintain that level…To be the best at anything, you’ve got to have a certain love for that to make you overcome all the obstacles that will be thrown in your way.” Passion is what will give us the ‘fire in the belly’ to climb mountains beyond mountains, to walk on fire, to win even the toughest battles.

Many others have also written about the entrepreneurial mindset.

HackTheEntrepreneur: “[Entrepreneurial mindset is] a way of thinking that enables you to overcome challenges, be decisive, and accept responsibility for your outcomes. It is a constant need to improve your skills, learn from your mistakes, and take continuous action on your ideas…The biggest killer of the entrepreneurial mindset is not what you would expect. It’s not failure, the economy, or bad ideas. It’s doubt – in ourselves, our surroundings, and our abilities. Self-doubt kills many dreams, long before any external factors can come into play.”

MIT Sloan, quoting Rowena Barrett: “An entrepreneurial mindset helps leaders create value by “recognizing and acting on opportunities, making decisions with limited information, and remaining adaptable and resilient in conditions that are uncertain and complex..An entrepreneurial mindset is resilient, resourceful, and solutions-oriented — even when the conditions say otherwise. People with these mindsets are lifelong knowledge-seekers who are curious and creative, and they are critical thinkers. They’re self-directed, action-oriented, highly-engaged. They have optimistic interpretations of adverse events and see problems as potential opportunities. They’re about looking to others, and the value you can create for others by solving problems for others, and they surround themselves with an intentional community of positive influence and critical guidance.”

Accion: “A positive attitude and outlook is a must for successful entrepreneurs…Cultivating a positive attitude is not about sticking your head in the sand and ignoring things that could go wrong, but about learning how to mentally reframe your response. There is no point in wallowing in mistakes. One way to change your outlook is to look at a negative pain point and ask “How can I actively correct this?” By exploring your reaction and response to a perceived problem, you’ll soon learn to cultivate a positive approach to change. Positive people look to challenges as a way to improve and learn, so you should try to focus on this skill.”

Fashinnovation: “An entrepreneurial mindset is a set of skills that never keeps still in a certain moment. This mindset is always looking for constant innovation that can make a difference in your journey. The passion for what you do and seeking innovation can be life-changing.”

Entrepreneurial thinking is a state of mind – one doesn’t necessarily need to create a startup to experience it. All of us can bring this mindset to what to do: learn to solve problems rather than complaining, ask ourselves what we would do if we were not afraid to fail, and convert our passion into a viral energy that enthuses those around us to give their best.

Thinks 877

Josh Waitzkin on how people identify their peak energy: “I ask people to rate one through 10 how their energy levels and creative state is in different parts of the day. And then of course, I examine it. But people tend to have a pretty good sense for this. I think it’s really important. One of the things that I have every one do — and that I’ve been doing my whole life — is ending my day thinking about the most important question in what I do. Then waking up in the morning, first thing, pre-input, and brainstorming on it…Ending the day strong, like I mentioned before, and focusing on what matters most and building the musculature of focusing your being on not all this ancillary stuff that just comes at you, but what really matters the most. Releasing it, not stressing out a little about it all night, sleeping well. And then first in the morning pre-input, not after checking the news or checking Bloomberg or checking Twitter or checking stock prices. Pre-input, brainstorming on it. Because what you’re doing that way is you’re systematically opening the channel between the conscious and the unconscious mind. That’s something that is something you can do it systematically, day in and day out rhythmically.”

Bloomberg: “In the very near future, employees working in just about every industry imaginable will need to know how to prompt chatbots such as ChatGPT effectively and efficiently. “Using AI models to generate things is expensive, and the outputs can vary massively,” said Ben Stokes, the creator of PromptBase, a marketplace for good AI prompts. “A good prompt engineer can create prompts that produce consistent, high-quality outputs (e.g. images, text or code) at low costs (either API costs or images credits etc.)…Often, this can involve a little role play: telling ChatGPT to “pretend” it is something else. “You are an interviewer for a job at a multinational bank,” you might say, followed by a detailed description of the role and requesting they give you a grilling. You might ask it to play the role of an app designer writing specifically for Apple’s iOS and have it spit out code to your specifications. Like a good journalist, who might ask a similar question in different ways to elicit a more thoughtful response from a subject, the specific words and structure can provoke the AI to behave in a certain manner. It’s not just what you say, but the way you say it. The more complex the prompt, and the more strict the guardrails of your directions, the better the result. Setting out a scenario in a chatbot’s “mind” works just as it does for us humans, encouraging us to think outside our normal perspectives.”

Charlie Munger on his own imprint on the world: “I would like my legacy to be a more relentless determination to develop and use what I call an uncommon sense.”

Katherine Boyle on her most contrarian, high-conviction opinion: “We are in a full-contact, all-out war with forces competing for control of our minds. Not just attention but control. Avoid any expert, meme, substance, or practice – however safe or mundane it may seem – that claims it can improve your mind in a way that invites these forces in, especially permanently. This may seem like a consensus opinion, but in practice, eradicating these forces from one’s life is a daily battle that requires contrarian actions, not just belief.”

Andy Kessler has Holmesian advice to those who feel bombarded by information. One of the tips: “Ignore the feed. When I met with JPMorgan CEO Jamie Dimon in 2019, I asked if it could see his office. I have a thing about checking out a CEO’s view. His was terrific, and it wasn’t even on the top floor. I asked if he had the bank’s profit-and-loss statement, with minute-by-minute updates, on his computer screen. He looked at me like I had two heads and said, “Of course not.” I admit I was disappointed, but then I realized he shouldn’t. Instead, I suspect, Mr. Dimon has honed the art of delegating fire-hose duty to others so he could think and lead.”

My Life System #74: Entrepreneurial Mindset – 1

I was recently giving a talk to colleagues at work, and I talked about some of my experiences as an  entrepreneur. In the Q&A, I was asked, “What is the entrepreneurial mindset? Can each of us be an entrepreneur while working in a company?” It was a good question; on most previous occasions, I have spoken to fellow entrepreneurs and so the answer was obvious. While I did give an answer then to my colleague, the question stayed with me and I realised it deserved a better response.

According to me, the entrepreneurial mindset has three elements: problem solving, not fearing failure, and passion. Let’s dig deeper into each of them.

First and foremost, an entrepreneur solves problems. There is little in the world that cannot be made better. An entrepreneur sees the friction, asks the questions, and comes up with a solution. As Uri Levine writes: “Start by thinking of a problem—a BIG problem—something that is worth solving, a problem that, if solved, will make the world a better place. Then ask yourself, who has this problem? Now, if the answer is just you, don’t even bother. It is not worth it. If you are the only person on the planet with this issue, it would be better to consult a shrink. It would be much cheaper (and probably faster) than building a start-up. If many people have this problem, however, then go and speak to them to understand their perception of the problem. Only afterwards, build the solution. If you follow this path, and your solution eventually works, you will be creating value, which is the essence of your journey.”

The entrepreneurial mindset is about bringing this same approach to the work that one does – what is it that’s not working well, why is that so, how can it be improved. An entrepreneurial mindset can thus be applied to any situation. There is no process which cannot be made better, there is no product that cannot be improved. Even as we go through daily life at work, we tend to become mechanical about our tasks, doing something today in the same way it was done yesterday and the day before. If we can just push ourselves to stop for a moment and think about a better way to do things, we can make productivity enhancements which can benefit many others. So, don’t just look for problems at work and complain; come up with solutions and solve them.

The second characteristic of an entrepreneurial mindset is to not fear failure. Too often, we stay away from the risky path because we are afraid of the outcomes and their consequences. Most of our life we are taught to eschew risk-taking, so it is not surprising that when given an option, we choose the path of caution. I tell my colleagues, “When you are working in a big company like Netcore, you have an opportunity to think differently and innovate – and you have a safety net. So, don’t let the fear that the idea will not work hold you back.” A mindset change is needed – where leaders and managers need to encourage their staff and teams to be bold, innovative and dynamic. Some ideas will fail, but a few will succeed. A culture of experimentation is a must for success. For those working, failures and setbacks must be seen as possible stepping stones to success. As Thomas Edison said, “I have not failed 700 times. I have not failed once. I have succeeded in proving that those 700 ways will not work. When I have eliminated the ways that will not work, I will find the way that will work.”

Thinks 876

Timothy Lee: “Computers and smartphones have become ubiquitous across the economy. But this has led to only modest changes for established industries like health care, education, housing, and transportation…Most of the American economy is not information-focused: It’s focused on delivering physical goods and services like homes, cars, restaurant meals, and haircuts. It will be hard for AI to have a big impact on these industries for the same reasons that it’s been hard for Internet startups to do so…Software didn’t eat the world and AI won’t either.” [via Arnold Kling]

Mint: “The fundamentals of India’s economy are less dynamic than often assumed. India’s poor are mostly concentrated in rural parts, and especially in the poorest (and most populous) states whose per-capita income growth has continued to lag behind the top five richest states of India. The share of India’s rural population reduced by a mere three percentage points between 2011 and 2020 and at present stands slightly below two-thirds of total population. In nearly every country where poverty has been eradicated by industrialization, we usually observe a sharp and continuous reduction of the share of agriculture in GDP. In India, the share of agriculture declined sharply from the early 1990s through to 2004 but has remained stuck at 16-17% ever since. The decline in share of agriculture in the total labour force has also been modest—it stands at 43% at present, starting with just around 50% in 2011. Among other fast-growing emerging economies in Asia (China, Bangladesh, Vietnam), India’s agricultural share of GDP is the highest.”

Token Dispatch: “Just like Bitcoin and Ethereum are changing the way we think about money, we can use the same principles to revolutionise social media. By decentralising content, we can create a public pool that no one entity controls. Think of it like a big public park: everyone can come and play, but no one person owns it all. That means more innovation, more competition, and more control for us, the users and creators. To shift from a traditional social media platform to a decentralised blockchain platform, significant changes are required. This includes developing and deploying new technology infrastructure based on decentralised technologies like blockchain, changing the business model from selling services to using cryptocurrencies for generating revenue, providing users with more control over their data, and complying with data privacy and blockchain technology regulations.”

Andy Matuschak: “Books are surprisingly bad at conveying knowledge, and readers mostly don’t realize it…Books are static. Prose can frame or stimulate readers’ thoughts, but prose can’t behave or respond to those thoughts as they unfold in each reader’s head. The reader must plan and steer their own feedback loops…Let’s reframe the question. Rather than “how might we make books actually work reliably,” we can ask: How might we design mediums which do the job of a non-fiction book—but which actually work reliably?…How might we design mediums in which “readers” naturally form rich associations between the ideas being presented? How might we design mediums which “readers” naturally engage creatively with the material? How might we design mediums in which “readers” naturally contend with competing interpretations? If we pile together enough of these questions we’re left with: how might we design mediums in which “reading” is the same as “understanding”?”

My Life System #73: Thanking Others

One word we all like to hear is “Thanks” and yet we don’t use it enough with others. None of us are Robinson Crusoes living all by ourselves on an island; we are forever dependent on others. A “Thank You” is a good habit to cultivate – it brightens the recipient’s day and it makes us feel good.

There is a sound economic explanation for being thankful. Jon Stossel writes: “How many times have you paid $1 for a cup of coffee and after the clerk said, “Thank you,” you responded, “Thank you”? There’s a wealth of economics wisdom in the weird double thank-you moment. Why does it happen? Because you want the coffee more than the buck, and the store wants the buck more than the coffee. Both of you win. Economists have long understood that two people trade because each wants what the other has more than what he already has. In their respective eyes, the things traded are unequal in value. But this means each comes out ahead, having given up something he wants less for something he wants more. It’s just not true that one gains and the other loses. If that were the case, the loser wouldn’t have traded. It’s win-win, or as economists would say, positive-sum. We experience this every time we have that double thank-you moment in a store or restaurant.”

Irrespective of how many challenges life throws at us, there is much that we have to thank others for – not just our parents, teachers or colleagues at work, but also the kindness of strangers. The person in the bus who got up so we could sit, the person in the queue who let us go ahead because we were in a hurry, the bellman at the hotel who held the door ajar as we were trying to lug the suitcases with both hands, the bus conductor who waited a few seconds extra so we could get on board, the sales person in a store who went the extra distance to ensure we got what we wanted, the person who stopped for a few seconds to help us find what we are looking for in a foreign city. Every one of these interactions was done without expectation of reciprocity; every such moment is a “thank you” moment. We may probably never see that person again, but a gracious acknowledgement from us ensures the cycle of good deeds continues. In some cases, we may be the recipient, while at other times, we may be the doer.

From The Clean Space: “Martin Seligman, a leader in the field of Positive Psychology, wrote “when we take time to notice the things that go right – it means we’re getting a lot of little rewards throughout the day”– it’s a virtuous cycle that only makes you feel better and better. Every time you express or receive gratitude, your brain releases dopamine, making a recurring connection between the action and feeling good. It also helps reduce stress reactions in your body.”

We will all echo James Clear’s sentiment: “I’m starting to believe that “Thank You” is the most under-appreciated and under-used phrase on the planet. It is appropriate in nearly any situation and it is a better response than most of the things we say.” So, let’s make this small change in ourselves: thank others when appropriate. And hopefully, we will have our own experience of the “double thank-you” moment.

Thinks 875

Rajeev Bhargava: “If a nation is a people in conversation, then anyone stopping this conversation is damaging it…At no point must the state hijack the conversation, dictate its agenda or control it. It is a part of the conversation, not its permanent leader. Indeed, it is the duty of the state to rein in those who disrupt or block the conversation. The nation expects it.” [via HT]

Hugh Hewitt: “My defense of reading fiction in a time of urgent facts boils down to four points. First, fiction can keep anxious minds from chewing themselves to bits…Second, reading can give a sense of proportion, which our distracted age needs most urgently…Third, reading can take us into unfamiliar worlds and better prepare us to live in our own…Fourth, and finally, time spent with a worthwhile novel is not time sucked away and spat out. It is time, and the lessons of time, brought into focus.”

ksred: “The format of the [Emergent Ventures] Unconference is something I have not seen anywhere else. It really puts forward this battle of ideas with the freedom to explore without any judgment. This is how it works: There are several venues and several time slots available to talk. A grid board is put up representing these. Anyone who wants to put a talk forward, writes the talk title on a sticky note. Anyone who wants to attend a talk, finds one or more talks of interest. People are not discouraged from attending multiple talks.”

Richard Nixon: “What makes life mean something is purpose. A goal. The battle. The struggle. Even if you don’t win it.” [via Shane Parrish]

My Life System #72: Secrets

For anyone who likes reading mysteries and thrillers, a common theme is how many of the main characters have secrets which tumble out as the pages turn. These cause the twists which make the stories so exciting. Our own lives have their share of secrets which we do not want others to know about. We also want our private spaces that we don’t want others to intrude. It is as true for teenagers as it is for adults. These secrets make each of us a bit mysterious and life that much more ‘thrilling’. A key question that many of us will face at some point is whether we should share these secrets with the ones we love or not. More often than not, the right decision is to be open and transparent because secrets in real life, as in fiction books, have the habit of unravelling when we least expect them.

During my IIT days, I enjoyed the occasional alcoholic drink with friends. It started with wanting to be part of the group and not be left out. As long as one limited it to just one glass or two, it was fine. (Only once did I go overboard when I mixed a few drinks in the interest of experimentation. The result was not pleasant.) I don’t think I ever told my parents or close family members during those growing up years about it. I didn’t know how they would react and decided it was best to keep it hidden. When I was engaged to Bhavana, I told her about the fact that I did drink once in a while. While she didn’t say anything, I realised it was not something she liked. And soon thereafter, I gave up drinking entirely. What I am glad about is that I shared it and did not try to hide it.

Chrstina Herson writes: “We should share more secrets, and there are many reasons why. One is that we use a lot of mental capacity keeping secrets. A study showed that we are actually thinking about a secret three times more often than actively hiding it from others. This results in a cognitive burden that is associated with poorer mental and physical health…So, just thinking about our secrets can burden us and thus decrease our motivation seen from this cognitive perspective… Sometimes, we face adversities and here, our social relations are a very important resilience factor that enable us to hold pressure and bounce back. When we share our inner thoughts, we create a social reciprocity that creates trust and an even stronger relationship.” Michael Slepian adds: “The hard part of having a secret is not that you have to hide it, but that you have to live with it, alone in your thoughts. When the only venue to work through it is your own mind, you are not likely to find the most productive way of thinking about it. Like a carousel that just never stops, each time you think back on it, you may go through the same motions, having the same negative thoughts, reiterating the same regrets, and finding yourself getting nowhere. It often takes a conversation with another person to escape the loop… When you open up to others, others will open up to you.”

The fewer the secrets we have, the happier we are. We don’t want something gnawing at the back of our minds that one day someone will bring out the secret in the open – deliberately or accidentally. So, in life and at work, it is better to be transparent. And yet, there will be times when for various reasons, we may not want to share. Over the years, I have found my diary to be a good outlet because once I write it out, I can move on – especially if I have made a mistake. I have also realised sharing with family (Bhavana and Abhishek, in my case) is the best way to move on from an incident or experience we don’t want eating away our mental energies.

Thinks 874

Gillian Tett: “The irony of this dash to live on digital devices is that it has created a dire need for metals, rare earth minerals and other commodities, ranging from sodium to nickel to lithium. Who controls those supply chains, and whether they are in private or public hands, is therefore critical. As is the question of whether entrepreneurs will jump in to create extraction processes that are large-scale, low-cost and green…Although tech entrepreneurs such as Mark Zuckerberg and Steve Jobs have become household names, most people would be stumped if you asked them to name an industrial entrepreneur. So I am curious to watch the progress of Hall’s lithium venture, alongside the dozens of other start-ups quietly moving into this field. [Amanda] Hall is confident, pointing out that since she offers an extraction service, rather than actually owning a mine, she can work with a private group or a government, whatever happens in places such as Chile. The question for western governments is how many other entrepreneurs they have waiting in the wings. “Getting your hands and your boots dirty is so important — we are bringing new technology into that space,” Hall says. Let’s hope others are listening.” Key point: “Forget mining bitcoin: real heavy industry is the challenge.”

EconTalk: “Is the perfect really the enemy of the good? Or is it the other way around? In 2008, Duke University economist Michael Munger ran for governor and proposed increasing school choice through vouchers for the state’s poorest counties. But some lovers of liberty argued that it’s better to fight for eliminating public schools instead of trying to improve them. Munger realized his fellow free-marketers come in two flavors: directionalists–who take our political realities as given and try to move outcomes closer to the ideal–and destinationists–who want no compromises with what they see as the perfect outcome.”

Ninan: “[India’s] demographic dividend can be turned to good account only if human capabilities are built and put to productive use well before birth and death rates converge and mark the tail-end of the demographic transition, a couple of decades hence. By then, going by current trends, India might be an upper-middle-income country approaching early middle-age. For, it will be the work of at least 20 years for India to attain the living standards typical today of parts of Southeast Asia, Latin America, or China, whose current per capita incomes (using purchasing power parity numbers) are about two and a half times India’s.”

WSJ: “Efficiency is about how work is done, and it is closely linked with productivity. If workers are more efficient—reducing the time and resources needed to complete a task—productivity should theoretically improve, too. Productivity, as narrowly defined by macroeconomists, measures the amount of output produced in one hour of labor. How companies measure productivity varies. Some businesses consider the revenue or profit generated per employee. Others focus on projects delivered or new products shipped. Improved processes could also pave the way for companies to employ fewer people. At some point, however, shaving time off workers’ tasks in microdoses reaches a limit in terms of cost savings. Companies ultimately still need innovation and investment to fuel long term growth, said Roger Martin, former dean of the Rotman School of Management at the University of Toronto and now an author and adviser to executives…Around 43% of workers say they spend more than 10 hours a week trying to look productive rather than on valuable tasks, according to a February survey of 1,000 full-time workers by the workplace analytics company Visier Inc.”

My Life System #71: Non-stop Flights

I wrote previously about my preference for business class when travelling outside India. “For me, business class is not about the food, drinks or networking. It is about sleep and comfort for my body and mind. For any travel longer than 4-5 hours, business class is a good investment. It provides excellent RoI (return on investment) in terms of thinking time and idea flow.” I also mentioned my liking for the non-stop flights, even though they are likely to cost more. I realised that I should have explained this better.

There are three benefits of non-stop flights. First is the obvious saving of time. Any connection means a minimum of two hours and probably longer. The second benefit is the lower risk of delays because of the possibility of missing connecting flights; there is also the problem of baggage getting misplaced during the transfer. Running from one gate to another gate at crowded airports is not very exciting! The third benefit is the elimination of the interruption in one’s flow (or sleep). It is much easier to plan out for a 16-hour flight than two 8-hour flights with a break; the latter leads to dead and unproductive time especially when one is tired and sleepy.

With Air India starting a non-stop to San Francisco from Mumbai, both the US coasts are covered. The time taken to get to New York or San Francisco is now the same – about 16 hours. The added advantage is that in the case of getting to another destination in the US, the time can be shortened. My hope is that as Air India buys more aircraft, it will cover more US destinations with their non-stop flights in the years to come.

There are a few disadvantages of non-stop flights, as Directnonstop explains: “There are often not too many nonstop flights between two cities, unless those two cities / airports are particularly busy. Thus making the nonstop flight harder to find than a connecting flight. Also, with fewer flights, that often means less flight time choice. [Also], while many airlines maintain extensive networks of airports they serve, most do not have nonstop flights between every pair of airports. Instead, they might rely on hub airports, or other connecting intermediate airports to get travelers from their starting airport to their destination airport. So, if going for a nonstop flight ticket, one has to sometimes put aside airline / frequent flyer miles preferences and go with whatever airline offers nonstops.”

Many friends I know prefer to avoid Air India for US travel because of some bad experience in the past. I think that’s a mistake – I have had my share of flight delays and unpleasant journeys on other airlines also. I just think the convenience of the non-stop makes Air India the preferred option from India – especially when going to the US. From Mumbai, it is the only option.

So, the next time you are travelling, consider the non-stop flight. It will be a better experience. The 16-odd hours on a US flight to either of the coasts can actually be made more productive with some planning. Going forward, I expect more direct connections between international cities from India – which is good. I still remember my early US trips with the connections either through Europe, South-East Asia, or the Middle East, and flight times exceeding 20 hours. Hopefully, they will stay memories of a world gone by!