THE YEAR THAT WAS: 2017

As I sit in the familiar comfort of my Razai with a warm cup of Chai in my hand, I couldn't help but notice that it has been 12 months since I smelled the aroma of a cardamom Chai mixed with Delhi's fog! We say this every year, but didn't 2017 just whiz by faster than we could imagine?

2017 for me can only be defined as the year of big transformations. The year that brought with it momentous changes, of positive nature, in both personal and professional aspects.

time, year end, clock
Photo by Szűcs László on Unsplash

Professional Updates

After completing my MBA last year, I toughed out 6-odd months in an internship, then 6 more months in a temporary contract (known in French as Contract Duration Determinée or CDD). However, at the beginning of this year, I was finally able to secure a full-time contract (known as Contrat à durée indéterminée, in short CDI) in a leading global firm. 

Having worked in India for the most part of my professional life, all these contract types were very alien concepts for me. In my previous jobs in India, the process flow was as follows - a company hires you (usually from the first contact to final offer, I have never spent over 4 working days), and then you continue working there till you retire, or you leave by giving a 30-60 days notice. The company can also fire you if they don't like your performance by giving you same notice or compensation for the same. 

However, from what I have gathered, it is quite hard for even private companies to eliminate positions or fire employees due to labor protections in France. For all practical intent and purposes - it is deemed nearly impossible unless there is gross misconduct. Hence, large companies usually require you to go through a trial period of internship or a temporary (fixed duration) contract before they can trust you enough to give you a full-time contract. 

While there is protection for employees (which a surprisingly high number of millennials in France seek), this whole process makes employers very cautious while hiring new people, leading to lack of liquidity in the market. Therefore, you will see people sticking around in the same company or companies having to keep the same people around for decades, even if there is a visible mismatch. Plus making it hard for new talent to get hired properly for a job fitting well for their profile rather than in a firm which is willing to give them a CDI. 

However, having decided to have built my career in France, I am adapting to the prevalent system, and happy to report my CDI contract to you guys. 

Personal Updates

This is the big one - After ~2 long years living on our own, while spending Friday and Sunday nights in Eurostar to travel between Paris and London, the wifey has now relocated to Paris! As some people are calling it - The Khannas Reunited! :)

With that, we have now commenced The Grand Tour of Europe! As our weekly shuttles between London-Paris have come to an end, we have decided to spend our travelling budget on visiting a new country every alternate month - or simply 6 or more new countries every year! 

In terms of cities, this year we visited the regular London, Paris, Delhi, and Hyderabad, along with new additions of Prague (Czech Republic), Copenhagen (Denmark), Champagne (France). Ghent (Belgium) and Lille (France).

We also spent a lot of time exploring the streets, museums, and gardens of Paris. On that note, I think we should cover the Parisian expeditions in a separate post. Something similar to Sahil's post on Paris hall of fame

Onwards! 

For 2018, instead of making several small resolutions - which almost no one ever keeps - I have decided to do six '30 day challenges'! I first heard about the concept in this Ted Talk and was quite intrigued by it. With several small life improvements and personal projects that I am working on in parallel, I think dedicating a month to each of them would be quite interesting as well as productive!

Keep watching this space for more info! Till then...

Wish you and your family a happy and prosperous New Year 2018!

I should probably write more of these year-end reviews: THE YEAR THAT WAS: 2014

My watch is ended

Keeping up with the Game of Thrones theme, as with most of our conversations these days, I recently used the epic half-liner from previous season “My watch is ended” with my wifey to remind her of:

  • The batteries of my watch have died again: even though I have been wearing wrist watches for over 20 years now, I have no idea how long are the batteries of a watch are supposed to last! Empirical evidence suggests anywhere between 6 months and 10 years, depending upon the weather conditions on Mars during that period! 
    • Side note: I can never ever wear a watch that needs charging every night! Even though I would love to, but for the foreseeable future I am not going to try any smart watch 
  • She got her first French salary (yippie!) and as per the tradition, she needs to buy me a ceremonial gift! 

For the impatient readers, Tl; Dr version of the outcome of that discussion is: after hours of research and keeping in line with my personal preference towards not charging a personal device for as long as humanly possible, we bought this beautiful piece of Fossil Mechanical watch! Just look at the video and appreciate all the intricate machinery slowly humming along inside!

A post shared by abby khanna (@furobiker) on


For the patient ones, I did some research on types of watches and how to select a good watch. While selecting a watch is a matter of personal taste, I have documented here various types of watches available in the market so that you guys can make more informed decisions in the future: 

Types of Watches: 

Based on the “movement” (a.k.a “calibre” or the basic mechanism driving the watch and the associated functions, also referred to as ‘complications’, such as calendar, multiple time zone features etc.) a watch can be categorized into two basic categories: Quartz movement or Mechanical movement. Various manufacturers implement these movements using their own styles/techniques, but essentially these two kinds of movements are building blocks for all kinds of watches: 

How to find out if the watch is quartz or mechanical: 

Just look at the seconds’ hand! If it is making clear jumps between seconds, it is a quartz watch, if it is making a sweeping motion or several tiny jumps between seconds, it is a mechanical watch. 

Source: https://i0.wp.com/www.precisionwatches.com/wp-content/uploads/2016/05/quartz-vs-mechanical-watch-movement-gif-1.gif?fit=734%2C200&ssl=1

Quartz Movement:

Powered by a battery, watches based on quartz movement are pretty accurate and require much less maintenance than mechanical watches. Just an occasional battery replacement and it is good to go. Typically, quartz watches are much less preferred by watch enthusiasts due to lack of craftsmanship and technology or engineering prowess in designing intricate parts. 

Mechanism: 

Simply put, the battery sends current through a quartz crystal (hence the name quartz movement). The current electrifies the crystal, which in turn vibrates. These vibrations create the movement to drive the watch motor, which in turn drive watch hands. These watches run quite accurately till the time battery is providing ample current to the crystal. As the battery starts running out of juice, you will notice that the watch has started losing time. 

Mechanical Movement: 

Powered by a wound spring, most of the luxury watches run on mechanical movement. In a lot of mechanical watches (for example in the video above), there is a provision to witness and appreciate the intricate components, working together in a tightly woven configuration to power the watch. Several super-luxury watches still have hand-crafted intricate parts, designed for a snug fit and supposed to work fine for decades. 

Mechanism: 

Mechanical movement watches store energy in a wound spring. The spring transfers energy to gears and sometimes other springs to provide regulated power to the watch hands. I am assuming your next question would be: From where does the wound spring gets its energy from? Good question! 


Types of mechanical watches: 

Manual: Remember the typical watch our grandparents wore? They were rotating the crown on the side of the watch to wind up the spring. The energy is stored in the spring and is typically enough for ~24-hour period. Though some of the newer watches may store enough energy for ~2-day period. 

Automatic: Automatic watches also have the option of rotating the crown to wind up the spring. However, they also have a metallic weight (called rotor), which is free to move when the body of the watch moves. So, when you walk or move your wrist, the metallic rotor moves, winding the spring. Hence, when you wear it daily, there is no need to wind up the spring, as it gets automatically wind up when you walk or move your hands. 

... and 

Well, that was a brief overview of different types of watches. Personally, mechanical watches interest me more, especially where the mechanism is visible through the front glass. If you are interested in the engineering behind watches you can also look at how basic gearing works in such watches and how different manufacturers add complexities (in simple terms – features) to their respective products.

Let me know if you found this brief note useful! 

Getting back to writing

Getting back to writing

Last week, I was out for a formal dinner with some colleagues. Amid regular getting-to-know questions, one that stood out to me was “What do you do outside of the office?” Even though I am busy from the moment I wake up, to the time when I finally switch off my phone and sleep, I realized that day that since past couple of years, I have not worked on any of my specific hobbies or a personal project!

Side note: Apparently, playing games on X-box or assembling so many pieces of furniture for your new house that one can easily qualify any carpentering exams does not count. 

I started remembering the things I liked and the side projects I worked on during me pre-MBA life in India. Travelling – it is something I do to relax, not as a personal project. Reading – sure, but the number of books I have read in 2017 stands at 3. Writing – the last time I wrote on this blog was over 12 months ago! Coding – I have quit more times than I have started! Running – Although, I increased my stamina to go up to 12kms in one go, I have not been regular in the last 7-8 weeks. 

The same night, I went out to buy a mop to clean up the spider-webs from this blog. Currently, I am going through quite an exciting period in my life, and if I properly get down to jotting some nice experiences, I can fill up a few hundred pages! So, why not! 

When I started this blog page a few years ago, I decided that everything I write here should be either:


Something I am knowledgeable about


About a year and a half ago, I switched careers – from a procurement advisory function, I have moved full time to an energy management and automation firm. This is a completely new industry for me, and I am picking up new things daily. I have a lot of stuff in my head to write about – renewable energy (especially solar) and its impacts on the grid, building management systems with the focus on energy efficiency, automation and digitization of the manufacturing industry, 3D printing to name a broad few topics.

Every time I pick up a notepad (yes, I am old school when it comes to writing) to write about these topics, I feel quite underwhelmed with the things I know vs. the things there are actually worth knowing about the topics I am going to write about. If you look at the chart below, I am currently hovering over the valley of despair!


Dunning Kruger Effect

Something I am learning about


The target at the very top of my mind is my slow progress on learning the French language. I am doing ok in reading newspaper level French, however, when it comes to speaking and more importantly listening to French, I fall flat on my face. There is nothing worth writing on this topic, but just leaving it here as a casual reminder to self. 

The other thing I am learning is nuggets of history about the things I like and the things I am discovering. Just in the past quarter, I have learnt about the The Ashes Cup while touring The Lord's stadium in London, the fine art of making scotch while touring The Glenlivet distillery in Scotland, life of Pablo Picasso and the depiction of his state of mind through his paintings in Musée national Picasso (Picasso museum) in Paris, among tens of other things. 

Wait, these all sound pretty solid ideas to pen down what I learnt, remembered and then augment with external research! 

Alright, back to work now! Till we meet again next week!