With Fast 9 coming out this week, I was reminded of all the incredible car chases in film history (The Fast franchise isn't about cars anymore, it's about Family™). So, I went down a YouTube rabbit hole rewatching some of my favourite chase sequences. While there are a ton of cool, technically impressive car sequences in cinema history, these are some of the ones that come to mind as my favourites.
I've been obsessed with Minis ever since I saw The Bourne Identity and The Italian Job (I first saw the 2003, then saw the 1969 one later on). There's something about the fantasy of driving tiny fast cars in cities that's just pure unadulterated fun!
What made the 2003 Italian Job even more fun to watch was knowing all the actors were driving the cars themselves; they had to take specialized driving classes for the film.
Another fun fact: the soundtracks for both The Bourne Identity and the 2003 Italian Job were composed by John Powell. (Powell scored the rest of the Bourne series too)
Funny enough, The Love Bug came out as the same time as the original Italian Job, in 1969. I remember watching this as a kid and just having my imagination going wild in this scene. The practical and creative filmmaking techniques of the time are still quite difficult to live up to these days.
Say what you will about the man, but his dedication to practical stunts has created some of the best action sequences in history. I mean, driving a motorcycle head on against actual traffic in Paris?
As far as car chases go, this one was just pure fun with the crazy stunts.
Despite The Matrix Reloaded being a very CGI heavy movie, the highway chase involved rigging actual cars to be crushed, flipped, exploded, you name it.
Ronin's famous Paris car chase is on this list not only because it was the scene that inspired so many countless chase scenes to come, but also because of how much it really does grab your attention. There's no music, no CGI. The rigging, the coordination, everything about this scene is a masterclass.
Another fun fact: some of the same team that worked on this scene also worked on the Bourne Identity Mini chase scene.
There are lots of fun and impressive car scenes in the Fast movies (one would hope), but this one stands out to me as probably my favourite. There's no particular reason behind it, I just remember enjoying it a lot when I first saw it.
I've been thinking about how we present ourselves to people.
Which part of yourself do you present to others? How do you segment the self that you present to your partner and your kids, friend group A and friend group B, people you date and people you work with? And even with those, I imagine there are divisions.
Everyone does this at some level, and it's usually done subconsciously.
Some reasons may include some trauma you experienced as a child or as an adult that causes you to build a wall. Or, you simply don't want your boss to (understandably) know that you secretly run a fight club. That would probably be bad.
There is a fine line between healthy and unhealthy boundaries.
People are very multifaceted. We might have different sides of us that we should to different people, but it’s important to recognize what we are hiding and why. Are we embarrassed? Are we afraid of being judged? These are important questions to work on (whether by yourself or in therapy) to ensure all your relationships (professional, platonic, romantic) are healthy.
If you find yourself playing “mask off, mask on” often, you’ve got some work to do. And that’s totally ok! We are all works in progress. But the important thing is to recognize and acknowledge it.
"What kind of life do you want to live?"
This is a question I've asked myself since I was a child. Another one is "What is the purpose of life?"
These aren't original questions. Philosophers have asked and tried to answer these questions for as long as we could think of them.
I used to want to "save the world". I'd watch cartoons and read detective novels (a lot of Hardy Boys and Nancy Drew, if you want to get specific) and fantasize about saving the day. As I got older, I channeled those feelings into a career choice. I wanted to become an Oncologist (or so I thought).
I went through a lot of verbal & physical bullying and racially targeted aggression after moving to the US, which got worse in middle school after 9/11. I watched my grandmother suffer through cancer for all of my childhood until she finally passed when I was in high school.
I wanted to do something about those feelings of helplessness. Of course, I wasn't consciously thinking it at the time — I didn't really understand why I wanted to go down that path.
My father never knew his grandfather. My great grandfather passed away very young, leaving my grandfather and his siblings to look after themselves. They grew up in a village in Gujarat. My grandfather moved out of the village, went to University. He marched with Gandhi, saw independence, and joined the new Indian government as an IRS officer. He married my grandmother, and they raised my father & my aunts. Throughout all these life events, they become very active in their community and made community service a central pillar of their lives — and made sure to pass those values down to their children.
My family immigrated to the US in 1996 with less than nothing in our pockets. My Dad got dealt a bad hand in India, and so we needed a fresh start. Where better than the supposed land of opportunity? But in the US, he got dealt another bad hand during the dot com crash of the 90s. I saw him pick himself up over and over again, figuring out how to survive and eventually thrive. I'll never forget finding his journal as a kid, where he wrote down his thoughts on not being able to find a job after the crash. I don't remember the specifics of what he had written, but I'll never forget the realization of our reality as a family. I hadn't known at the time the details of what he was going through, or that he didn't have a job. He wanted to shield me and my brother from the pain and discomfort that life can cause. The uncertainty. But I also remember being grateful for being fully aware of this truth.
Survival is endemic to my psyche now as an adult.
When I was in University, I had an incredible opportunity to do a research internship at M.D. Anderson Cancer Center. I had a rude awakening during my time there. Medicine was nothing like what I expected. It was a lot of hard work, a lot of important menial work, and quite simply not what I expected. I wanted the recognition! I wanted to be a part of the dramatic calls you see on TV!
I wanted a sense of control over life's unpredictability, and a feeling of comfort. I wanted someone to always tell me everything will always be ok.
Life doesn't work that way. Life isn't fair. Life just happens. What does matter is how you respond to it, and how you shape it.
Throughout all of this, I had been teaching myself how to code and how to (what we now call) design. I didn't do it for any reason other than the fact that I loved it! I loved making stuff. After that internship, I faced an internal reckoning. It threw me off course. I flunked Organic Chemistry, which was insane. The lowest grade I had ever gotten in my life up to that point was a B! In that moment, I experienced my first "thrive or survive" conflict without realizing it. Realizing I needed to listen to my heart, I "pivoted" (lol). I switched my major from Biochemistry to Fine Arts in the middle of my 3rd year of University. And my coursework up until that point qualified me for a minor in Biology to boot, something I always forget.
Ever since then, I've been embedded in New York City's startup scene. When I reflect on the first 10 years of my career, all the decisions I've made make sense with the benefit of hindsight. Of course I made those decisions, of course I chose that startup, of course I left at the right time. But whenever I made one of those decisions, everything felt like a risk to me. I constantly second guessed myself, was constantly tugged between deciding to thrive or survive. I didn't have a financial safety net that many in tech do, particularly entrepreneurs. I didn't have any connections to the industry. I had to figure it out as I went. And along the way, I made incredible friends and connections who helped lift me up, and hopefully I lifted them up as well.
Two years ago, I felt enough at peace with myself to be able to expand beyond my own survival and start volunteering & being active in my community — an urge and a calling I credit my grandparents for. And last June (2020), I left my comfy job at MongoDB to spend some time working on my own projects and see what could happen. For the first time in my life, I didn't have to worry about money for the short-term. I could just... focus on what I wanted to do. Ultimately I came to the conclusion that the idea I have now is not something I wanted to build a business out of, but rather just keep it as a project.
So here I am again, deciding which turn to take in this next chapter of my career. I've always been a risk taker (I get that from my Dad). But part of me will never be able to shake that survival instinct.
What kind of risk do I take next? What's the best path to my ultimate goal of being able to continuously make an impact in the world? How can I get to true financial independence so I can work on truly impactful projects without worrying about money and can invest in others' projects? I'm always pulled between both directions any time I make a career decision, and quite often when I'm in between decision points. When you have lived through this many survival events as a child, these feelings and instincts are almost impossible to shake. All you can do is manage, sit with, and be at peace with them.
I suspect I'll never find peace with these questions in the long run. All I can do is make the right decision for the moment, and keep moving forward from there.
I'm incredibly grateful for my career thus far, and hope I never lose sight of the fact that my entire life and career has been a risk. And that sometimes the biggest risk is not taking one.
I dream to be able to set up my next generation to truly thrive, so they don't need to think about surviving.