Ionică Bizău

Web Developer, Linux geek and Musician

My Journey To India 2017 – What I've Learned

In 2017 I travelled to India for 5 weeks. 🇮🇳 Finally, I took the time to write about what I learned there. As European, I tried my best to adapt to the Indian life as much as possible, eating what and how they eat, doing stuff the way they do it, visiting some nice places and working at the same time. 🍀

I was lucky because Bhargav–an Indian friend travelled with me and I had the privilege to be hosted for a few days at Suresh. 🙏

I made this video which covers a couple of highlights from India:

Summarizing, here are some things I learned during these 5 weeks:

  1. 🚦 The Traffic is Chaotic and you have to embrace it.

    They love honking their horns! 📣 And I mean... a lot! It is fun... because you need to get used to it anyway! It reminded me about the Romanian weddings they use to honk while driving to the restaurant. In India, I even saw messages like "HORN PLEASE" on many cars. 🚍

    Do you want to cross the road? Cars, motorbikes, bicycles, people, animals, all on the narrow streets. Kinda. But in any case, if you want to cross the street, look on the right side ➡️, on the left side ⬅️, forward ⤴️, backwards ⤵️, upwards 🔼, downwards 🔽 and only then cross the street and show to the drivers that you are crossing the street, so they will stop and blow the horn... they will do it anyways. 📣🚙📣🚗📣🚙📣🚗

  2. 🇬🇧 English and Hindi are Official Languages

    Hindi and English are official languages, so if you talk English everybody will understand you... well, not everybody, but I didn't have problems with communication. Indian accent is so cute too. 🇮🇳

  3. 🍚 Indian Food

    It's spicy. Really spicy. It makes you cry. But it is so tasty! I loved it. As a vegetarian, I was impressed by these marks: a green square + circle ❇️ means the food is vegetarian. If it is red 🔴, it is not vegetarian. 😐

    Oh, and I ate with my right hand! It's fun! Btw, I really liked idli and chutney, made by Suresh's wife! They are the best! 😋

  4. 😍 Indians are Very Friendly!

    I was amazed by their hospitality. I visited a couple of families, three churches and I was hosted for a few days at an Indian friend. They did the best for me to feel good in their homes! Food was way better than in the restaurants. 😌

    Also, in general, Indians ask a lot of questions! *How much costed your iPhone? 📱How much costed for you to reach our country? ✈️ Where are you from? 🌍 And stuff like that. Do not forget to ask them whatever you want. They will be happy to answer! 😅

    They will take photos with you! On the street, at the touristic points etc. Just be patient and you will see so many happy faces! 📸

    Indians will stare at you if you are not an Indian. I remember walking along the street and everywhere I was looking, I was seeing lovely eyes staring at me. I was smiling... and getting smiles back! 👀

  5. 🙄 Don't take Stuff for Granted

    Water? 💦 Always drink it from the sealed bottles. They are cheap. Make sure they do not have fake logos and double-check if they are sealed. I did the mistake to drink "DRINKABLE WATER" from a railway station and it was bad. Really bad. I got sick for a couple of days, but now it is a fun memory to share with my friends. 🤕

    Toilet paper? 🚽 At some hotels, you will find toilet paper. Check out this video to learn how to use the Indian toilet. It's easy. 😂🙈

    Internet? 📡 At hotels, the internet tends to work very slow... but good enough for messaging. 🐌 If you need faster internet, you may want to buy a SIM card and use a portable router.

    ATMs don't really work 💰Some of them have no physical money, others were blocked by my bank, others were simply not working and I have found couple which worked.

  6. 👨 The Indian Head Shake

    I have been watching videos regarding the head shake before going to India, and when I was there... everyone was shaking the head exactly like that. In short period of time I learned it, and after coming back to Europe it was hard to unlearn it! 😂

  7. Simplicity

    Among the things I really appreciated about Indians was their simplicity. They do not need fancy things to be happy. Being happy with what you have and working hard to keep growing is the key! 🚀

Photos and Videos from my Trip

1. Bangalore

In Bangalore I had the joy to make a jam session with the guys from Yamaha Music Station. 🎶 Here is what we did that evening:

2. Madurai

A city of temples! 🕍

We reached Madurai by riding a train from Bangalore. 🚞

3. Rameswaram

This island is close to Sri Lanka, in fact, you can see Sri Lanka from there. 🏝

4. Kanyakumari

The sunset and sunrise were beautiful there! 🌅

5. Jaipur

The biggest sundial in the world is in Jaipur! ✨

6. Amer Fort

This fortress is awesome! ⛰

7. Ranthambore National Park

We saw tigers! 🐅

8. Agra

Of course, the Taj Mahal! 🕌

9. Delhi

The Lotus Temple is amazing! 𑁍

10. Hyderabad

In Hyderabad I made another jam with a random drummer from a music shop:

My friends live there! 🎹 And I taught their cousins to play their toy keyboard:

And sugarcane juice is so tasty! 🥛

If you want to visit India, perhaps you need to talk to your epidemiologist to take the needed vaccines and medication, apply for a visa online, buy the tickets and fly! 🚀

My experience in India was intense and I definitely want to go again! 💖

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Accessing My Home Computer Remotely

I have a powerful ASUS machine which I use when I'm at home. I guess it was designed for gaming. It's quite useful for any tasks, but I often use it for expensive tasks using more resources (e.g. training neural networks). It got a fast enough wired internet connection, as well! :rocket:

When travelling, I do not have physical access to my home computer. However, I do want to access it sometimes (when I work on projects requiring lots of computations). :airplane:

The solution I ended with is to connect to it via SSH. :lock:

So, using my MacBook, I can simply run ssh -A ionicabizau@<public-ip> -p <port> and land in my home. There are a couple of problems, tho. Here is how I did it! :sparkles:

Port Forwarding

Using ifconfig we can see what IP the laptop got on the network:

$ ifconfig | grep 192
        inet  netmask  broadcast

(the xxx can be 100, 101 etc).

I opened in the browser (accessing the router settings) and set up port forwarding on this port range: 2042-5042 and using the IP I got in the previous command.

Then, I changed my laptop SSH server port and made it listen on 4242 (which, indeed, is in the range mentioned above).

Restarted the router and then I did a curl (which outputs the public IP information) and connected successfully to my machine, from my machine, but using the public IP.

Great! There are a couple of issues, tho!

If the laptop reconnects to the router, it may get a different IP on the network. Also, if the router reconnects to the internet, usually it happens to get a different public IP. :boom:

Same IP on the network

By running ifconfig I found out that the wired connection has the name enp5s0.

Then, I modified the /etc/network/interfaces file like this (following a couple of articles from the internet):

auto lo
iface lo inet loopback

# Set up a static ip on the network
auto enp5s0
iface enp5s0 inet static

Reconnected to the router, and I noticed in the ifconfig output. Rebooted, and the ip didn't change.

Now, I got back in the router settings and exposed the ports 2042-5042 on to the internet.

But the public IP may change...

I don't have a static IP. If I'm not wrong, one has to pay to the internet provider to get a static IP. I don't care if it's going to change, as long I know what new public IP it got.

I made a small tool which pushes the ip information in a GitHub repository: machine-ip. It uses to get the public ip information.

I created a GitHub repository storing the ip information of my home machine. This is updated every 10 minutes automatically

IpInfo allows as to make 1000 daily requests for free. That is around 41 requests an hour (1000 / 24 is 41.666...). Therefore the 10-minute update, which is good enough.

Running this in a cron job

I made another script which is executed in a cron job.

echo "Adding the ssh key"
ssh-add /home/testing/.ssh/id_rsa
echo "Changing directory"
cd /johnnysapps/notebook
echo "Getting the ip"
date > last_updated.txt

I ran sudo crontab -e -u testing and created my first cron job I've evern written:


# Min Hour Day Month Weekday Command
*/10  *    *   *     *       /johnnysapps/ip

*/10 tells the system to execute my script every 10 minutes.

So, apparently, it's working! :tada: Using my SSH keys I can connect to my home computer. In case the electricity goes down, I do hope it will not be down for more than 1-2 hours (which is supported by the internal battery).

When the electricity is back, the modem, the router and my laptop are going to connect back to the internet and my cron job is going to push the new IP data in my GitHub account.

Sweet! Now I can :airplane: :rocket:!

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The Joy of Being a Mentor

Helping our fellow developers—or generally speaking, helping each another—is an important part of society. We all work and struggle on this planet, so offering a helping hand is always welcome. :heart:

It's been more than one year since started teaching people to code. I do it on Codementor—an open marketplace for code instructors. In general, we set up 1:1 live sessions and start talking. :smile: Then after we get everything fixed and finally both of us are happy.

What I really like about Codementor is that it connects a diversity of people around the planet. Each mentee is unique (cultures, lifestyle, accent, beliefs etc.), but they all have one single goal: to learn—and that's one of the facts that make us happy.

While I do teach people to do stuff, I keep an open eye on things I can learn as well. For instance, I learned how to use Firebase by working with one of my favourite mentees! :blush: Thanks! :cake:

Obviously, that means I can now take care of people wanting to learn Firebase as well.

:zap: Here's how I do it! :zap:

I'm blessed to live in a small, peaceful, and friendly village from Romania, far enough from the noise of the cities and still have great people around, and of course, a great internet connection! :earth_africa:

In the morning I enjoy the birds singing (if I wake up early enough, sometimes there are few owls hooting too) and in the evening I listen to the crickets' songs.

:bulb: Tip: If you will ever need help in programming during the summer time, and we talk either in the morning or evening, you will have the opportunity to see the big crowd of cows going or coming back to and from the hill. It happens every sunny day, during the summer time. :cow2:

Even though I'm a remote developer working mostly from home, it's still a lot of hard-work. Rest and relaxation are important as well. I find that taking a few days break from work and hiking up the mountains helps a lot.

Often I take my bike and ride it to my little house between two hills—to be alone, hiding in the mountains for a while, after which I go back. There, I don't have internet nor phone signal. Being in a place where you can be alone with your thoughts for a good while is where great ideas are born. I note each one somewhere, and when I get the chance to implement them, I just do it. :sparkles:

Being in the middle of nature, listening to the flowing water, birds happily chirping all day is definitely something special—it's closer to our roots. I believe that if we want to be productive developers, be a good person to talk to, or just be human, we should take a look at the values that our Creator implanted in us.

Is what we eat and drink important?

There is a strong relation between the food we eat and the way we think. We should have our brains clean and agile when teaching others. That's done by knowing what, when, how, and how much to eat. As mentors, we should know the laws of life and health.

Not all of us work remotely, but I do recommend to get out of the cities and purchase a land in the countryside and start cultivating your own garden. Eat plants, not animals. We were designed to have a vegetarian diet.

There are so many things going on in the cities. Noise, crimes, immorality, pollution, and other unfortunate events. We can avoid all these. Faith, hope, love, happiness can be cultivated way better in the countryside, away from the cities.

Rest is important

While working is definitely important, rest is equally as important—if not, more so. Sleep 8 hours a night (sometimes before midnight) and wake up early in the morning.

:bulb: Tip: Bugs are much easier to fix in the morning than in the evening/night! :joy:

We were designed to work the first six days of the week (Sunday to Friday), and then rest on the seventh day: Saturday. One of the secrets to be productive is to value each moment of our lives. :hourglass_flowing_sand:

Summarizing, I always recommended: leave the cities as soon as possible, stand for good principles, eat and drink healthy stuff, work six days a week and rest on the seventh one, help the people around you and love them. We have no time to waste! :rocket:

PS: Most parts of this post were written near a forest, somewhere in the western part of Romania. :evergreen_tree:

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