2016 in the hindsight

2016 is by far the best year in my life. It has been fan­tas­tic in all the aspects of my life.

I base this review on few impor­tant things I list­ed in my /now page.


Our lit­tle fam­i­ly start­ed new adven­tures in 2016. I start­ed my cool new job. LOVEOFMYLIFE start­ed her ear­ly child­hood edu­ca­tion stud­ies in May and is doing well. Sam grad­u­at­ed from his pre-school and start­ed his pri­ma­ry school soon after return­ing from India in July. He liked and tran­si­tioned smooth­ly into his new school.

After three long years, we trav­eled to India in the last week of May. We cel­e­brat­ed Sam’s fifth birth­day at my par­ents house with fam­i­ly and friends. We spent most of our time in India vis­it­ing grand­par­ents, rel­a­tives, and friends. I got to spend some time with my broth­er. He even taught me how to dri­ve a man­u­al car. I learned and enjoyed dri­ving on the Indi­an roads amidst chaot­ic traf­fic and pot­holed roads. It has been such a won­der­ful trip to home that board­ing the return flight felt ter­ri­ble. After return­ing to New Zealand in the mid­dle of July, it took me three months to ful­ly come out of the home­sick­ness.

This year is also sig­nif­i­cant on the fam­i­ly front because my rela­tion­ship with my sis­ter was deep­ened. I felt an intense long­ing for her at the end of 2015. Giv­en our both imme­di­ate fam­i­ly sit­u­a­tions and the phys­i­cal dis­tance, I was­n’t sure if our rela­tion­ship could sur­vive and con­tin­ue. In an inter­est­ing series of events, she rec­i­p­ro­cat­ed my affec­tion and we devel­oped a great bond­ing.


I final­ly became a Hap­pi­ness Engi­neer at Automat­tic, end­ing my two-year quest. I first applied for this role in the August of 2014. After three appli­ca­tions, and two tri­als, I final­ly made it and start­ed on the 18th of July, soon after return­ing from India.

I applied for Hap­pi­ness Engi­neer role to turn my admi­ra­tion for Matt and Word­Press into some­thing use­ful and mean­ing­ful. I felt this akin to falling in love with some­one; you can’t con­sid­er some­one else if the per­son you loved said no. I think this is why I did not lose enthu­si­asm even after turned down twice. I saw Hap­pi­ness Engi­neer as my iden­ti­ty. So I code-named this quest as Chai­tanya 3.0. I ded­i­cat­ed most of my spare time for this quest since July of 2014. I enjoyed every moment of it: learn­ing WordPress.com, help­ing peo­ple in the WordPress.com forums, learn­ing to write well, fail­ing twice, cre­at­ing my resumes, the two tri­als and final­ly mak­ing it. I am very proud of this strug­gle and glad that my efforts ulti­mate­ly became fruit­ful.

Becom­ing a Hap­pi­ness Engi­neer also means, I had to quit the job I enjoyed for four years at Ori­on Health. Like I said, I applied to Automat­tic to turn my admi­ra­tion for Matt into some­thing mean­ing­ful and take part in his mis­sion; not because I am unhap­py with my cur­rent job.

Ori­on Health offered me a great sup­port role in the June of 2012 when I had no oth­er options after my then employ­er filed bank­rupt­cy. At that time I was lit­er­al­ly left on the road with­out two months of salary and with lit­tle cash in the bank, and a fam­i­ly to feed. In that des­per­ate sit­u­a­tion, by offer­ing me a job, Ori­on Health saved hard times for my fam­i­ly and revived my dream of liv­ing and work­ing in the first world. So it was dif­fi­cult for me to quit Ori­on Health. As much as I loved Ori­on Health, I could­n’t work for two employ­ers at a time and I chose to move on from Ori­on Health. I left Ori­on Health with a heavy heart. But I left know­ing that my work was appre­ci­at­ed. I was told I will be missed and that I am wel­come back any­time. I am grate­ful for the oppor­tu­ni­ty to work for them and over­whelmed by the farewell I received.

Ori­on Health will always have a spe­cial place in my heart. I only stopped work­ing for them. I still work­out on their premis­es with the same awe­some train­er and the work­out group —who are now my ex-col­leagues — I exer­cised with for the last three years.

But oth­er­wise, I am glad to final­ly become a Hap­pi­ness Engi­neer, con­tin­ue build­ing my career in cus­tomer sup­port, and work for Matt and Word­Press.


Since start­ing with Automat­tic in July, I trav­eled every oth­er month to three dif­fer­ent coun­tries in 2016.

In the first week of my new job, I flew to Jeju island in South Korea to meet some of my col­leagues in the Asia region, my team lead who flew from the US, a team­mate who flew from Pak­istan and anoth­er team­mate from Indone­sia.

In Sep­tem­ber, I trav­eled to Cana­da for Automat­tic’s Grand Meet­up. I spent a week meet­ing, work­ing and bond­ing with my team­mates and rest of the Automat­ti­cians from all over the world.

In Novem­ber, I trav­eled to Sin­ga­pore for our team meet­up.

This is the first year I trav­eled these many coun­tries in a sin­gle year.

Exercising and eating

I exer­cised 117 hours this year. These are few­er hours than last year, but it is still a lot of exer­cise hours con­sid­er­ing I did not work­out for two full months (June and July) when I trav­eled to India and South Korea. I also missed ten work­outs when I trav­eled to Cana­da and Sin­ga­pore.

At the begin­ning of this year I had a res­o­lu­tion to get six-pack abs. This is not for van­i­ty. I see six-pack abs as the result of astro­nom­i­cal lev­els ded­i­ca­tion, hard work and sac­ri­fice. I also want­ed to work on six-pack abs to prac­tice mind­ful eat­ing and over­come my fond­ness (err…greediness) for food.

But all the hard work, great time, lit­tle sleep, cel­e­bra­tions, hol­i­days and trav­el this year means, I ate good food and a ton of it! So the six-pack abs still remain elu­sive. How­ev­er, in the gym I am pick­ing up high­er weights than ever and my body fat per­cent­age con­tin­ues to be in the fit range.

I con­tin­ued my week­ly run­ning streak from 2015 sum­mer and ran every Sun­day for the rest of the sum­mer in the first part of the year. I ran Round The Bays in March and WWWP5K in Whistler in Cana­da with my cowork­ers. I com­plet­ed both the runs with rea­son­able per­for­mance. But unlike in 2015, I did not run every Sun­day in the sec­ond half of 2016.

I think over­all I moved enough in 2016.

Meditating and playing elevate

I lost my 234-day med­i­ta­tion streak in March. From then on my med­i­ta­tion streak has been spot­ty. I got back on track with med­i­ta­tion, but I haven’t been as reg­u­lar as I hoped to be. But I med­i­tat­ed fair num­ber of days and enjoyed it.

I also lost 610 day long Ele­vate streak in June. But this is not my fault. The streak was sol­id until I had to return the iPhone 5 when I left Ori­on Health at the end of May. I had to wait until Octo­ber to buy iPhone 7. Mean­while I tem­porar­i­ly used my old iPhone 4 run­ning iOS 7. The lat­est ver­sion of Ele­vate app requires at least iOS 8. The iOS 7 ver­sion of the Ele­vate app per­formed ter­ri­bly and crashed mul­ti­ple times in iPhone 4. And at the start of my hol­i­days in India, I did not have a reli­able inter­net con­nec­tion. So between mov­ing time zones and iPhones, I could­n’t play Ele­vate some days.

Lat­er in June, I rebuilt the streak by chang­ing the phone’s time to the missed dates and played every game. This is kind of cheat, but I could­n’t let go of some­thing I built over the past few years due to what I see is a logis­tics prob­lem. I did­n’t have to cheat ever since I got my iPhone 7 in Octo­ber.


I wrote 46 posts on this blog in 2016. I also post­ed some pho­tos on my pho­to­blog.

I set a new social media pol­i­cy this year: Share on blog first. Every­where else next. This means, my words will be first post­ed to this blog, and my pho­tos will be first post­ed to my pho­to blog. Then my blogs’ Twit­ter and Face­book con­nec­tions will push my words and pho­tos to those closed, pro­pri­etary social net­works.

I also changed this blog’s address to short­er chait.blog. Many thanks to my employ­er Automat­tic who owns .blog and offered one .blog domain of choice for free to all its employ­ees. I also cre­at­ed chait.photo.blog (a free sub-domain of photo.blog), for my pho­to blog.


I read the fol­low­ing books and liked all of them:

  • So Good They Can’t Ignore You – Cal New­port
  • The Rich Employ­ee – James Altuch­er
  • The Slight Edge – Jeff Olson
  • Don’t Sweat the Small Stuff. – Richard Carl­son
  • The Art of Trou­bleshoot­ing – Jason Max­ham

Learning to write well

I love to write, although I don’t intend to become a writer. I write as a hob­by, and to feel bet­ter when I am low. Writ­ing well is also impor­tant for suc­ceed­ing in my job. I see learn­ing to write well as a life long process. As part of this, I read the fol­low­ing clas­sics this year. I intend to re-read all these books every year.

  • The Ele­ments of Style – William Strunk, Jr. and E. B. White
  • Eight Let­ters to a Young Writer – Teju Cole
  • Style : the basics of clar­i­ty and grace – Joseph M. Williams
  • On writ­ing well : the clas­sic guide to writ­ing non­fic­tion / William Zinss­er

New Zealand citizenship

Five years after becom­ing per­ma­nent res­i­dents, we were grant­ed New Zealand cit­i­zen­ship in Decem­ber. But since India does­n’t allow dual-cit­i­zen­ship, I had to let go of my Indi­an pass­port and cit­i­zen­ship. It is weird that I will be treat­ed as a for­eign­er in the coun­try I was born and raised. Nev­er­the­less, I see myself as both an Indi­an and a New Zealan­der; both coun­tries are close to my heart.

That pret­ty much sums up my 2016. I could­n’t ask more from it. Thank you 2016 for being nice and kind to me.

Here’s to great 2017.

5 responses to “2016 in the hindsight”

  1. Wow. Glad to hear that after three appli­ca­tions and two tri­als you final­ly got LUCKY! As some­one who is look­ing to land myself a job at Automat­tic once I grad­u­ate; I will take your sto­ry as an inspi­ra­tion — to not give up even if I fail in the first place. Way to go broth­er.

    1. As you may be aware, we are always hir­ing. Look­ing for­ward to see you join us soon. All the best!

  2. Yeah, I’m very much aware of that. Thank you 🙂

  3. I did­n’t know you had two tri­als before get­ting hired at Automat­tic. I felt real­ly encour­aged read­ing about your quest since I’m get­ting ready to apply again. Hope to see you soon in queues 🙂

    1. You should sure­ly apply again! I too look for­ward to see you in the queues. All the best 🙂

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