Featured Stories

Immigrated, but still learning the lingo and etiquettes


Having lived in the US for 17 years, we should assume that now I should know the etiquettes and behavior local to here.

Nah! Not so much. I am better now than what I was 17 years ago, but still learning. 17 years ago if a stranger told me hello, I would stop say hi and then engage in a conversation. Mind you not just a casual conversation but asking the person if he knew me etc. etc. Now I have learned. This is the only country in the world where strangers wave and acknowledge your presence. I tried telling hi to people in Paris-and got glared back. Lesson learnt.

In the grocery store, I am still learning. If someone is near my shelf of wanted goods, I would try to squeeze in to get my stuff. And I have heard a rude “excuse me!” I have learnt that excuse me isn’t polite, locales say “excuse me” when they are upset. Upset, that I should have given a sign of needing those things from that particular shelf, instead of squeezing through. I am hoping I have learnt, but still a long curve ahead.

It’s not just the physical space that I need to learn. My Indian privacy boundaries are very different from locales here. If a locale at the gym shared how bad her day is going. I have not learnt to politely nod and mutter some inane comment. I would be curious to know what is it that has made her day so bad, is it her kids, or husband or job. Till I see a silent roll of eyes, I don’t get the cues. Still learning, the small talk and the curve looks steep.

Few years ago a friend of mine who works at a childcare got called for reprehension by the authorities. She had told one of the mothers that her twins are very “naughty”. In her mind she was complimenting the mom. But, actually the mom had taken offence. Because being called naughty here does not have a positive connotation. What she meant was that her twins were cute and friendly. Authorities told her to use the right words. Lesson learnt.

I am sure many of you have experiences similar to this. Please share yours.


Labs, HIP Gym In Naperville


When I first walked into Labs, it looked like a gymnasium in Manhattan. Not to say that Naperville is not cool. Labs is unlike any gym that I have seen. The rings, inside running track, state-of-the-art equipment, cycling studio and above all committed, knowledgeable trainers.

Rare photo of Chris -behind the desk 🙂

In my opinion, trainers are the most important asset of Labs. I have worked out with Chris, Gina, Zack and Steve. Whatever I write, will be less to describe them. All the four of them love to train and literally kick a***.  It’s not a single exercise routine they are following. They devise the workout routine for each class, after trying out the workout themselves. Passion for the classes, and people they train are clearly visible.



GINA in action


There are four group classes to choose from

Force : The one hour intense strength training session. Before Labs I couldn’t have imagined that I could really lift so much. Labs has helped me realize my strength, and I have just started.

Catalyst : The signature class focusing on all energy systems. This class utilizes both cardio and strength components in a unique training system. Fast-paced and constantly evolving, this class keeps your mind and body guessing. One hour is broken up into six cardio sessions and six strength sessions. One hour goes by quickly especially because the trainers are jumping through one station to another guiding, pushing the clients.

Fury:  When you don’t have an hour, but still want to get a tough workout in, Fury is the class. This is a half hour class and follows the catalyst mode.

Fluid Running: A run workout in the pool. I have done this only once, but regulars to this workout swear by it. Labs is the only facility in Naperville that offers this workout.

Labs also helps people train for marathon, iron-man and countless other things. There are some training sessions exclusively for high schoolers, Ninja and Warrior for the little kids. If you have a need for workout, I am sure labs has a solution for you.

When you join Labs, you’re not joining a typical gym. We didn’t come here to just “work out.”

Every one of us is chasing something. And we understand that, in this place – this shrine to

motivation, where you can hear the rush of pursuit in our every breath – you’re amongst a

community of like-minded individuals…


Unlimited Classes: $150/month for unlimited classes and all classes- contract for a year.

Only Catalyst/Force: $120/month for unlimited sessions of class that you choose and contract for a year.

Drop-in-rate: Call Labs to ask. Varies from $18-25 per session.

Don’t be discouraged by their contract agreement. If you are moving, hurt, or going through a rough financial period, you can sever the contract. I have a friend who suffered a knee injury and he wanted to get off the contract. Labs offered no resistance or unwanted rules, breaking off the contract was easy too.

From Oct. 14, Labs is giving out a promotion offer for $14 for 14 days. Join Labs Now.


Compulsory shut-off from work is NECESSARY

wooden signboard on tropical beach

It’s no longer cool to say that we are working 24/7, no time for family, books or entertainment. Many companies are recognizing the value of time off. To be productive and creative, absolute shut-off from work is warranted. While many companies are joining the bandwagon, some companies are already doing it.


Evernote a company based out of Redwood City, California gives $1000 as spending money to its employees for taking a week-long vacation. Evernote believes that employees need to refresh their mind to realise their full potential. They also have a policy of unlimited vacation days as long as the work doesn’t suffer. A company whose motto is “Meet Evernote, your second brain,” helps in decluttering and getting life organized. True to it’s motto, the company’s vacation policy is a start and a game changer, in a world where we have to put compulsory cues to STOP the work at some point.

Daimler Benz, the carmaker has a “Mail on Holiday” program that auto deletes all the email a person receives when on a vacation. The employees come back to an inbox exactly where they left before going on a vacation. It is a common practice to look at official emails when on vacation. It is the worst thing to do on a vacation. The world will not stop, the company will not cease to exist if they don’t receive your response. Thumbs up to Benz for their “Mail on Holiday,” program.



Fullcontact, a contact management platform for professionals and enterprises is based out of Denver, Colorado believes in taking time off and actually doing something about it.

Fullcontact offers it’s employees a PAID PAID vacation. Annually the employees get $7500 to go on a paid vacation. The catch- in our eyes is none. In their words, the employees should fully disconnect while on holiday. No official calls, no emails not even a slight trace of the office while on a holiday. It believes creativity and productivity requires everyone to fully disconnect from office for sometime.

Amgen, a biotechnology firm based out of Thousand Oaks, California is one of the best places to work for. The employees start with a paid 5-week paid vacation and a shut down during 4th of July and Christmas. Reiterating the fact, creativity and productivity requires periodically shut-off. Amgen has it’s policy in place.

Capital One, financial services company based out of McLean, Virginia has a robust vacation perk in place. Employees earn a 4-week worth of vacation for every 90 days of work.


If you are one of the lucky few whose company offers a great holiday perk, we hope you are using it. But if you aren’t, then make your own compulsory shut off days. We only live once, and the life that we remember in the last days on Earth is the time spent on relationships and not behind a desk.