Every single day you make a choice

So you had a bad day? What did you do? Did you corner yourself in a room and cried like it was the end of the world?

A bad day is just another day which would pass. The question you should ask yourself is how can you avoid such circumstances in the foreseeable future. There are certain things in life which are beyond your control. You can’t do anything about them. But few things if taken action at the right time can save you from experiencing another bad day. Let’s say you arrive office a bit late and a mail from your manager is sitting right in your mailbox which reads “Urgent! Meet me when you are in office”. Suddenly you realize that you made a blunder last night at work and while you knew this, you procrastinated to proactively inform your manager in advance. Now you are screwed. You get comments like such kind of mistake can’t be tolerated from a person at your level. You either come back and keep cursing your manager while comforting yourself with excuses like “Well, this was only first time. How can he be so mean?” or you focus on improving yourself, take a note of the incident, analyze what sort of actions lead you to do this mistake and how do you plan to not repeat it. You see the difference. While the first choice won’t add any value to your personal and professional growth, the second choice not only makes you a better human being, but also helps you to see and tackle the situation from a different perspective. This is called as “Not going below the line”.

There is no secret ingredient. It’s just you

When I was preparing for Joint Entrance Exam (the toughest exam for engineering in India), I observed a very common pattern. About 70% of my friends gave up that they can’t clear it right before few months. To succeed in life, you must first believe that you can. There is noone in this world who knows you better than you know yourself. Your strengths, weaknesses, your skills and what are you good at.

Planning and Execution will keep your life stress free

I worked on two important projects at Microsoft. Both were critical for two reasons. One, tight deadlines. Two, to make Microsoft mission come true.

While working on these two projects right from the beginning to their completion, I realized how important planning is. If you don’t plan well, chances are you would freak out sooner or later. People usually tend to procrastinate when it comes to planning. They think that it will just happen as time progresses. Successful people spend a lot of time planning and less time on execution. That’s why people with huge experience are given the planning phase of the project. Sometimes, a decision tree is helpful to make calls and minimize risks in future.

Continue reading 7 important lessons to hack your life

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March 28, 2012

Raining was incessant that day. Clouds were roaring as if whole sky were to fall down. Amidst the shine of lightning and sound of raindrops striking the window, Mary was laughing insanely on a joke told by her boyfriend Peter on phone. “And you know what, that poor guy kept waiting for her forever while she was enjoying the romantic weather of Paris.”, they cracked again.
Another lightning flashed and the electricity was gone. Intensity of rain increased. It was as if cloud and lightning were competing with each other on who could scare the people more by its power. If there was anything in world Mary was afraid of, it was the darkness. Her mind started filling with all the dark thoughts. Had it not been Peter on the phone comforting her the whole time, she would have gone crazy. Even though she was living in that place for years, she still had nightmares in some of dark nights. Her hometown was known for witnessing extreme weather conditions and electricity was kind of boon. Her parents were divorsed and her dad used to be away most of the nights due to some business work. All she had got was Peter, who used to add relief to her crazy nights.

“Mary, look through the window”, Peter’s tone was loud and clear.

There was a long flashing light coming from the uphill. “Is it really what I’m seeing, a comet?”, Mary asked. Her voice was mixed with shock and surprise.

“Yes, and you know what does that mean?”. Although she couldn’t see him, but she could clearly picture his smiling face.

“Do you really believe in all these stuffs?”. “My dad says it is a superstition”, she further added.

“You never know until you try”.

“I just made a wish”, he was beaming with joy. “Make yours quickly before it’s gone”.

She closed her eyes and whispered something.

“What did you ask for?”. Peter was jumping with joy.

“We shouldn’t reveal our wishes, else they are not fulfilled”, she chirped.

“But promise me that you would tell me when it becomes true”.

“Is there anything that I haven’t told you about?”. “I can’t even imagine my life without you”, her tone was serious and filled with love.

“Hey Mary! I got to tell you something”.

“What?”, she was puzzled.

“Not now, sometime later when the time will be right”. “Now go to sleep. It’s late”.

The clock striked 12. It was her birthday. She usually didn’t get many wishes. But one birthday wish was enough for her.

“It’s been 5 minutes. Still no call from him. Stupid, forgot my birthday again”, her heart was racing.

Then she heard the doorbell. Her mobile screen lit up and read the message, “Open the door”.

He was outside, standing completely drenched in rain. He smiled, screamed “Happy birthday, girl!” and asked, “Won’t you welcome me in?”.

Oh! She was so shocked and surprised that she couldn’t think a bit about him being waiting outside in the rain.

“Yes, yes, please come inside”.

“I will bring towel and something hot to …”

Before she could complete her sentence, he put his lips on hers and kissed like a warrior thirsty of blood since centuries. She had never experienced something like this before. It was hot, wet and full of love.

He continued. “Mary, this is the only gift I got for you. I just want to tell you that my love for has no boundaries. It is as pure as the morning dew, as bold as a mountain, as innocent as a cocoon and as selfless as moon”, he was going poetic.

Rain drops were dripping his chin. “You will get cold. Wait here. I will bring the towel and something hot to drink”, she commanded, left him in the hallway and moved quickly upstairs.

While she was in her living room, she could hear him singing something. Oh! This was a song from Romeo and Juliet.

Can you tell me, softly
How you’ll always haunt me
Can you help me
Hold me

She was humming with him when her landline rang.

“Hello Maya! I am Pe.. Peter’s mom here. He met an accident while he was going to meet you. His motor bike skidded and.. and he…”

She couldn’t hear the whole conversation. Her hands were shivering. The phone slipped from her fingers.
She started thinking backwards. Although she got a message, there was no mobile with him. She couldn’t see his motor bike outside the house. And his his face was white and fingers cold. Had her wish come true?

Fast forward 5 years, the clock striked 12:05 again and she heard the door bell. But she is too scared to open the door. Seems like his love for her draws him to her home on her every birthday. The boy who used to comfort her in crazy nights has given her the worst nightmare. Perhaps, she won’t be able to sleep on her birthday night ever.

Copyright © 2017, Aashish Barnwal,  All rights reserved.

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Have you ever felt that you are not able to do something because of less time? Have you ever wondered that why few achieve so much in the same 24 hours while you struggle to be good at one thing? It’s not always because you are comparatively less efficient than other guys . Efficiency is nothing but a measure of productivity against time. And if you learn to manage time efficiently, the productivity would automatically bump up. The question you should ask yourself is,

The most successful people are the busiest and they can still find time. Why can’t you?

Life is all about setting priorities right and if you do not learn to focus on what is important and what is urgent, sooner or later, you will find it slipping out of your control.

I often get questions on how do I get time to do so many things. To summarize, I do fashion photography, play piano and write blogs apart from my full time Software Engineering job.

Since last few years, I had been living the life of a night owl. I used to sleep late in the night and wake up in the early noon. It’s hard to believe but I used to be proud of myself for a such a crazy schedule. I followed this insane routine for 7 years and then I thought for a change. Months of efforts didn’t work out well for me. Our body is not a robotic machine which can be changed to work in a different environment as easily as the tap of a button. t adapts slowly to the changes we wa It must be given proper rest to function it well.

Waking up early morning can do wonders

Sometime back, I got a chance to visit US on a business trip. People who visit there often complain about the jet lag for days. My bad schedule in India worked there like charm. I woke up at 5 in the morning and slept at 11 at night. Every morning, I felt charged up. I was way more productive.

Continue reading Manage time like a boss and become more productive

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July 13, 2012

Dear Mary,

I won’t ask how are you, because I know you would be gleaming with happiness living in your beautiful world. And I wish you to be always the same. I won’t ask you about your whereabouts either, because it will tempt me to follow you no matter how far you are.

Do you remember the first day we met and I had almost evinced that I like you until you told me something that stopped me right there? Since that moment, I never stopped loving you. Day after day after day, it just kept on growing stronger. My love for you is like sleep. It started slowly and I fell all at once. People say there is no magic in this world. They just don’t look for it in the right place.

Days bled into years. There are things in life which are hard to change. Yes, “The fault in our stars” is still my favorite and no matter how many times I watch it, my heart takes control over my brain and I think of nothing but you. I dated many gorgeous girls, yet my heart longs for you. I traveled places to look for someone like you, yet when I see pictures of us, my breathes skip.

While I am composing this, that song is playing in the background and I feel so much connected with it:

So many people all around the world,
Tell me where do I find, someone like you girl,
Take me to your heart, take me to your soul,
Hold my hand before I’m old,

Just wanted to let you know, you are the only love of my life. Hope someday you will understand my feelings and that day would be the second happiest day of my life.
Yours,
Peter

Copyright © 2017, Aashish Barnwal,  All rights reserved.
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In the life of every person, there is someone who (s)he looks up to. It is the human psychology. We tend to choose a hero whom we appreciate. Why? The reason is obvious. Sometimes, we love the way our hero lives. Sometimes, it is his popularity. Sometimes, it is just because his dreams were what  ours is now. He kept on improving each day, each week until one morning he became what he always wanted. And we start seeing the perfect version of ourselves in him. Each time we come across his story and picture, our inner self echoes, “Yes, this is who I would like to be one day”.

But the question is, does it help by just following them. Sure, it is motivating. It elevates your desire to do something. It boosts up your will to achieve what you wanted. However, until and unless you do not work freaking hard, improve yourself day by day, that chosen hero remains in pictures. Like we see Hulk in Marvel movies. Remember not all people are blessed with quick learning abilities. We have to keep trying hard to know what works for us best.
I personally had many heroes in my life so far. When I was learning programming, I chose a hero who knew infinity as compared to me. When I was doing photography, I chose a hero whose shots just made me feel wow. When I was playing piano, I chose yet another hero whose fingers seem to turn into bots.
What I observed while following my passion is that even though, I chose my heroes, I made great progress in one while very little in other. What were the things that went bad and I couldn’t do well? Was my execution plan wrong? Was it the lack of motivation? Did I not have enough passion? Well, it was about my devotion and the efforts I needed to put.
To fix this, I made an execution plan. I set an achievable goal. Like, at the end of this summer, I would shoot at least 10 great photos. Or by year end, I would learn to play a song X on piano in melody and arpeggios. And I keep on checking myself every two weeks or so about the progress I make and the areas where I lag. This trick is working great for me so far.

Don’t follow a person. Follow your dreams. Chase your passion. That is going to define who you are. Be your own hero.

Who knows, by doing so, you will become someone so unique that people will start looking up to you. That said, we can’t compare between Beethoven, Mozart and Bach. All of them have made significant contribution in the music realm.

Let me end this writing with a small inspiring video of Matthew McConaughey at the 86th Oscars® in 2014 | Best Actor for his performance in Dallas Buyers Club. Whenever I feel low, watching this speech of him helps me a lot.

In his words, this Oscar goes to my hero, that’s who I chase. Now when I was 15 years old, I have a very important person in my life come to me and say, “Who is your hero?”. And I said I don’t know I gotta think about that, give me a couple of weeks. I come back two weeks later, this person comes up and says “Who’s your hero?” And so I thought about it and I said you know who it is, it’s me in 10 years.

So I turn 25, 10 years later that same person comes to me and goes “so are you a hero?” And I was like, not even close. No, no, no. She said “Why?” I said because my hero is me at 35. So you see every day, every week, every month and every year of my life, my hero is always 10 years away. I’m never going to beat my hero. I’m not going to obtain that, I know I’m not. And that’s just fine with me because that keeps me with somebody to keep on chasing.

Copyright © 2017, Aashish Barnwal,  All rights reserved.

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If you haven’t read Part 1, it’s here: Stranger. Friend. Lover. Acquaintance. – Part 1

That little encounter soon progressed to long hour chats. They talked about everything. He never met someone like her before. Her curiosity to know things, her sense of humour, her laugh, her smile. Unlike him, she was not very punctual. May be that’s how girls are. When she didn’t show up on time, he used to get frustrated. But her one cute smile would melt away all the anger. With each passing day, he felt like she is in his breathes. She was the sugar of his coffee. The words of his book. His life without her was meaningless.
Talking to her, hours would dissolve into minutes. There was hardly a day he spent without talking to her. She had become an addiction. He wasn’t sure if this was how being intoxicated felt like. If this was addiction, he would happily embrace it for the rest of his life.
When you talk with someone for quite long, chances are your topics will decay, unless you know how to talk cheesy. And he was an expert in that.

“When I chat with you, my 45 minutes tv episode extends to 3 hours.”
“Are you trying to suggest that I’m a bad influence on you? ;)”
“I am not complaining.”
“I know.”
“BTW, you can’t deny an influence ;)”
“That’s cool :)”

 

“Dined?”, Sid asked.
“Nope. Need to wind up few things for the morning lab”, her voice was exhaustive.
“My god! Why do you study so much?”.
“Not like you”
“That’s true. Half of the time we keep on talking”
“Ha ha ha :)”

Continue reading Stranger. Friend. Lover. Acquaintance. – Part 2

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My contribution on Quora on cracking technical interviews:

 

  1. What should I do in the next 6 months to get into a company like Amazon/Google?
  2. How do I go about preparing for interviews on GeeksforGeeks?
  3. What are the top 20 websites for interview preparation?
  4. What are some useful websites for a CS student?
  5. How does one become good at problem solving?
  6. Career Cup or GeeksforGeeks?
  7. Should I do competitive programming or learn GeeksforGeeks, from a placement point of view?
  8. Which is the best book to start learning algorithms?
  9. Which books should I refer for data structures in C?
  10. I suck in competitive programming but I wish to make a mark there. I’m improving my skills by practicing on GeeksforGeeks. Is this the right approach?
  11. Should I learn algorithms and data structures in my vacation or learn any other thing? See details.
  12. How many academic projects should be mentioned in the resume while appearing for big companies like Amazon, MS, Adobe by a fresher?
  13. What are your reviews of Data structures and Algorithm made easy by Narasimha Karumanchi? Should it be used and when?
  14. Is it neccessary to put subjects of interest in our resume, we dont get good job at big tech companies if not added?
  15. Do we have to mention our Data structures skills in our resume in subjects of interest part ?
  16. Does the bloggers get paid when they write article on geeksforgeeks?
  17. How can one contribute to GeeksforGeeks and become one of the moderators?
  18. Studying Algorithms and data structures cover similar topics in c,c++ and Java languages?
  19. What is the difference between dynamic programming and recursion?
  20. What is easiest approach to tackle Dynamic programming problems?
  21. How should I explain dynamic programming to a 4-year-old?

Copyright © 2017, Aashish Barnwal,  All rights reserved.

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My interview with GeeksforGeeks: Geek on the top – Aashish Barnwal

My contribution on GeeksforGeeks over the years:

  1. How to prepare for top MNCs?
  2. Implementing Iterator pattern of a single Linked List
  3. Curiously recurring template pattern (CRTP)
  4. Opaque pointer
  5. Factory design pattern
  6. K Dimensional Tree | Set 1 (Search and Insert)
  7. Design an efficient data structure for given operations
  8. Ternary Search Tree
  9. Print unique rows in a given boolean matrix
  10. Implement LRU Cache
  11. Sort numbers stored on different machines
  12. Find the k most frequent words from a file
  13. Given a sequence of words, print all anagrams together | Set 1
  14. Given a sequence of words, print all anagrams together | Set 2
  15. Generate integer from 1 to 7 with equal probability
  16. Graph and its representations
  17. Median of two sorted arrays of different sizes
  18. Iterative Quick Sort
  19. Magic Square
  20. Comparator function of qsort() in C
  21. Copy elision in C++
  22. Playing with Destructors in C++
  23. Casting operators in C++ | Set 1 (const_cast)
  24. DFA based division
  25. Counting Sort
  26. Space and time efficient Binomial Coefficient
  27. Efficient program to calculate e^x
  28. Greedy Algorithms | Set 2 (Kruskal’s Minimum Spanning Tree Algorithm)
  29. Greedy Algorithms | Set 3 (Huffman Coding) – GeeksforGeeks
  30. Greedy Algorithms | Set 4 (Efficient Huffman Coding for Sorted Input)
  31. Greedy Algorithms | Set 6 (Prim’s MST for Adjacency List Representation)
  32. Dynamic Programming | Set 27 (Maximum sum rectangle in a 2D matrix)
  33. Dynamic Programming | Set 28 (Minimum insertions to form a palindrome)
  34. Dynamic Programming | Set 30 (Dice Throw)
  35. Dynamic Programming | Set 31 (Optimal Strategy for a Game)
  36. Dynamic Programming | Set 34 (Assembly Line Scheduling)
  37. Find minimum elements after considering all possible transformations – GeeksforGeeks
  38. Check whether a given graph is Bipartite or not
  39. Maximum of all subarrays of size k (Added a O(n) method)
  40. Linked complete binary tree & its creation
  41. Print all permutations in sorted (lexicographic) order
  42. Lexicographic rank of a string
  43. Union-Find Algorithm | Set 1 (Detect Cycle in a an Undirected Graph)
  44. Measure one litre using two vessels and infinite water supply
  45. Random number generator in arbitrary probability distribution fashion
  46. Iterative Postorder Traversal | Set 1 (Using Two Stacks)
  47. Iterative Postorder Traversal | Set 2 (Using One Stack)
  48. Boundary Traversal of binary tree
  49. An in-place algorithm for String Transformation
  50. Morris traversal for Preorder
  51. Construct Full Binary Tree from given preorder and postorder traversals
  52. Two nodes of a BST are swapped, correct the BST
  53. Check if each internal node of a BST has exactly one child
  54. Largest subarray with equal number of 0s and 1s
  55. Check if a number is Palindrome
  56. Given a number, find the next smallest palindrome
  57. Construct BST from given preorder traversal | Set 1
  58. Construct BST from given preorder traversal | Set 2
  59. Flattening a Linked List
  60. Find the largest multiple of 3
  61. Count numbers that don’t contain 3
  62. Check divisibility by 7
  63. To find sum of two numbers without using any operator
  64. Find a pair with the given difference
  65. Add two numbers represented by linked lists | Set 2
  66. Longest Palindromic Substring | Set 1
  67. Longest Palindromic Substring | Set 2
  68. Count the number of possible triangles
  69. Find the number of islands
  70. Pascal’s Triangle
  71. Stack | Set 1 (Introduction)
  72. Heap Sort

Copyright © 2017, Aashish Barnwal,  All rights reserved.

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19088041-A-man-sitting-in-a-cafe-and-thinking-about-love-Stock-Vector[1]

Lafz toh bahut hain bolne ko,
Par kuch baatein aankhon se hi byan ho jati hain,
Waise toh bahut hasinayein dekhi hai maine,
Ek tum hi ho jisse sochkar meri shab ki subah ho jati hai.

लफ्ज़ तो बहुत हैं बोलने को,
पर कुछ बातें आँखों से हि ब्यान हो जाती हैं,
वैसे तो बहुत हसिनाएं देखी है मैंने,
एक तुम हि हो जिसे सोचकर मेरी शब कि सुबह हो जाती है।

[English translation]

So many words are there to say,
But some conversations are better expressed through eyes,
Though I have met many beautiful girls in my life,
It’s you for whom my evenings get wash away in mornings.

Copyright © 2017, Aashish Barnwal,  All rights reserved.
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There is a part of us which reacts to a situation or the behavior of a person in very specific way. This happens more often when the person happens to be a very good friend or a close one of yours.

There are times when we wish we had a magic wand so that we do some miracle to make the person behave the way we want her to be. More specifically, we want her to be like us. We never think twice that that unique difference defines us.
Irony is we don’t see things as they are, we see them as we are.

A small encounter in my life forced me to rethink and correct my perceptions about the things I visualize, behavior I observe and the way I react.
After a small phone conversation, we decided to meet on dinner as it had been quite long since we talked about the world around us.
It was hard to believe that she was the same girl I met 18 months back, crying over her life, her selfish friends, her bank balance, her big dreams, her having no supporting friend blah blah blah. The problems just never seem to end for her. I always thought that no matter how much good happens in her life, she would always be a crying baby. Each time we talked, ninety percent of our conversation was about her and her problems. There were times when she irritated me like hell.

But today, I met a new girl in her. She was mature, talked so much sense and beamed with confidence. Her life was very happening and full of exciting things. She had big plans for future and she was very positive about them. Her patience level had gone stronger.

But this change didn’t come overnight. It was the result of consistent effort of weeks, months. I remember all the hard work she did to get a better life, a life that people appreciate and want.

But, why am I writing all these things? Well, it was only after meeting her that I realized that I liked the older version of her more when she used to share every single detail of her life. It’s not that I am not happy with what she is today. I always wanted her to be happy. It’s just that she has become independent enough to not need me anymore and this is what hurts.

You realize the value of something only when it’s gone. There are some things which should not change.

Copyright © 2017, Aashish Barnwal,  All rights reserved.

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