The one where it snows in Paris

In what should be a non-event for most of the people, it snowed in Paris this week. Oh boy, and it snowed heavily than what I have witnessed in past 4 years in France. And it wouldn't be an overstatement if I say, I have never seen Paris look so beautiful in my life!

View from my balcony

Being born and grown up in harsh, hot weather of Delhi, with blinding-foggy winters, I have had only a few brushes with snow in my life. My first encounter with snow was when I used to work in Romania. That got out of hand, pretty quickly. The whole town was covered in snow for over 3 months! Suffice to say I believe I finished the quota of snow-days for 24 years of my past life in those 3 months! 

The little town I lived in, Timisoara, had a different charm in the snow. Having an apartment and office in close to each other helped me a lot to discover new snow-covered ways through parks, central squares, near rivers and over the bridges - all while walking back and forth from work. Though I didn't realize it at that time, but the sentiment snow evokes in me is something as close as love as one can feel! 

The yearning I had, over the years, to see and feel fresh layers of snow never went down even a notch. To add to it, I don't remember where, but there was a scene in a movie (or a TV series?) where the actor opens his mouth to taste the pure taste of snow, as it falls, made me add that to my bucket list! 

And, I tasted snow! it fell by buckets, in the shape of tiny feathers from the sky! 

I left for work at 5.30am couple of days ago, and it was snowing lightly. Though I hate to get up so early, not to mention venture out of the house at such ungodly hours, but what I felt was surreal that day.  While the world (and the Mrs.) were tucked in their Razais, I was the lone soul walking outside, with an ocean of snow in any direction I saw. Only to be punctuated by some iconic Parisian buildings. I was creating fresh footprints in the freshly laid snow, with no sounds except the one I was making while stepping on the snow clouds! 

To put it briefly, I witnessed and felt pure magic! I can write pages to describe what I felt early morning that day, and still feel that I haven't conveyed my feelings properly. But instead...

... I will take a pause here and wish everyone reading this to feel - every single day of their life - the happiness and magic I felt that day. 


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


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. 


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. 


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. 


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!