#untitled - 160220. This too shall pass.


Its been a while since I wrote an untitled piece (the last one was in Nov last year). Thing is, there's way too much going on in my head and I don't know who to talk to and thus this post. Super ranty. Read at peril. Ignore if you can. And why am I writing? Clear my head. Archive my thoughts. Throw my intent in the universe. 

So, this is one of those days when I have a mile-long list of things to do and almost no energy to get any of those done. I mean I have all the energy of a child to move around, walk fast, talk faster, think faster than all of the above. But I don't have the energy to open my Asana and start knocking off things from it. You know, there's way too much work to even think about working.
Guess you know the feeling.
Or may be not.
Anyhow.
The point is, I have a lot to do and no energy. And I can't seem to find it. I don't know why. I get inspired by the largeness of ideas, the awesomeness of people and opportunities that are so much in abundance. And I know that I am at an amazing place and the timing is amazing and I have the will and inclination and all that. And yet, for some reason, I am poor and stuck. Stuck as in I am still a nobody. Stuck as in I still have limited capital. Stuck as in I don't know how to break the shackles of helplessness. I feel that life is moving past and I am stuck at an obscure corner, with no ride to ride on. Ride to ride on. Lol. 
You know, FOMO!
I know I shouldn't but I am afraid. Of missing out.
And I know its a fleeting feeling and this too shall pass.

If there is a trough, this is the deepest ever I've been. And while I know that this too shall pass and I will eventually come out of it, this feeling of getting stuck is not cool. And not cool is this feeling of helplessness. I don't know what to do to get out of this.
And I am fucking up at multiple levels.
What multiple? All levels.
Everything that you use to measure your life, I am fucking up!

I want to eat healthy.
I was supposed to be on this vegan and sattvic diet - I subscribed and all despite it being an expensive idea - but I am unable to keep my hands out of large plates of food. I am eating like a dude who's just come out of famine. May be, in my head, subconsciously, I am staring at impending starvation and thus eating all that it can lay its hands on?

I am supposed to meditate.
I try and sit down every day but I am unable to concentrate. With all the bells and whistles that I can manage (you know, an app, silent and cold room, etc). And yet, I can hardly concentrate.
This post that I am writing right now, I have this window open for more than half an hour and I have typed less than 200 words. And I have posted a photo on Instagram, opened numerous WhatsApp conversations with people that don't really care if I have a conversation with them or not, replied to a few emails and judged these three kids at the Starbucks where I am sitting. Why Starbucks? Because I can't seem to sit at home. I need to make a den for myself that is me. And no one else. And with the kind of money I have, it is impossible to have a den per se. A roof is a luxury. And I have just grabbed water and all that from the bar. 
All in the last 30 mins. If I could concentrate, I could change the world, you know! Remember that thing about the dude asking for a lever long enough?



I am supposed to get fitter.
I know that I need to start yoga, go for a run, climb 100 flights a day and do other such things. I am unable to do even one of those. Of course, these are merely tiny steps that I need to take to be able to reach my ultimate goal - climb the Mt. Everest and run a marathon. But I am not fucking taking those steps. I don't know why I am unable to.

I am not being a great contributor to the community. Or my family. Or my people.
They need emotional, financial and life advice and I don't have what it takes to give any to any. I've always imagined myself to be that strong pillar that allows everyone around to take shelter. Ok, shelter is not the word - support is more like it. But I see myself as a pillar that supports and enables people to climb higher. But here I am, leaning against nothing but wind!

Things are not that bad, to be honest. May be they are - since I am talking about myself, maybe I am biased?
I do know I am not doing well. Except for putting up the facade when I meet others. And they may seem very well be if you look at em from the perspective of those that look up to me (if there are any). But on the standalone, unbiased basis, they are not. I need a fucking intervention. I don't know which one. Devine? Medical? Spiritual? Don't know.

I am lucky to have the option to live my life in a way I would love to - I am mostly the master of my time, my office is at a walking distance from home, a tiffin service delivers food (and that ensures that I don't have to think about what to eat), there is a maid that knows what to do. Everything is on autopilot. But I am struggling with work and I haven't been able to crack this piece - mostly a result of my inability to generate new business. And like all similar things, it's a vicious circle - I need money to invest so that I can generate business. And the business thus generated would throw more money at me to invest in more people, processes, and things that allow me to generate more business. You know what I am saying?

I need to create opportunities - work and otherwise and I am unable to make any headway with that. There are other business things that I am a part of that could start moving fast and give me access to work. But I am stuck because the ones that are supposed to lead those things have other priorities. Of course, I am to blame. I have entrusted my life with them and if they have other things happening, I need to move ahead. No?

Ok, Eureka!


Thing is, as I was writing this, something occurred to me. This is why I love writing - answers often dawn upon you; plus this is a great way to emulate conversations with others and I think the best when I am talking to others. 

So, what if I am merely drowning in the pool of misery that I have imposed on myself? In the sense that I can see the effects of my inability to get work (less money, stress, inability to support others, etc). But I am not seeing the cause. I have been reliant on others for far too long. What if I take things in my own hands? I become that person that drives things. That makes things happen. That pushes around? Moves the blocks till I find an answer!

Plus, if I reflect on the last few days, I've had a very erratic schedule - I am sleeping at odd hours, doing things that were not planned and taking way too many breaks. I can blame those on all the meetings that require me to criss-cross the city. But then those are part and parcel of life. Irrespective of the time I sleep, I can at least wake up at 5:30 every day and reach work at 6:30! How tough could it be?

Let's do it. Starting tomorrow. Irrespective of what time I sleep tonight. Will set alarm once I have finished writing this piece. No, I am not picking my phone up unless I finish this piece. I did! I could not concentrate. :( 

And finally, if I try and review things that I have planned to do in a certain day, week, month, etc, I often miss those goals (which is ok - I often have stretch goals and I like the idea of impossible challenges) but I don't even revisit the ones that I miss and I don't lament over those. I don't obsess over the fact that nothing is moving. If others can't, I need to be able to move those. Even if its a pendulum motion where I go back to the center after all the hard work, I need to get things moving. I know, I know. The direction is more important than speed. But right now, I am standing still. I am not creating opportunities. I need to do that! I will have to simply work harder than I have ever worked in the past and create more opportunities. It's ok if I am 37. I can still work hard. Like I said at the beginning of the rant, I am full of energy. Lemme put it to good use!

And with this, over and out! Thank you for listening, reading, etc, etc.

Film Review - Parasite (by Bong Joon Ho)

So, last night, I saw Parasite. You know, the movie that the entire world has been going ga ga about? from Cannes to LA to backroads of Versova to online dating forums and beyond!



The film opens on a family of four, the Kims, living in abject poverty (in a basement at the end of a street where drunkards routinely come and puke and piss) and have no hopes or plans for the future. Their phones have been disconnected because they've not paid the bills. And because they don't have phones, they can't get work (after all prospective employers would call you to hire you).

Life looks bleak when suddenly they get this stone that is supposed to bring them prosperity. And true to the charm, it does! Their life changes when the son fakes a degree to get hired as an English home tutor to the daughter of a technology tycoon, Park. From there on, with access to some money, thanks to the son, they start dreaming of a better future and a better life!

Once the son is settled in at a tutor at the Parks, he puts in motion a chain of events that changes the lives of each character in the film - there are 10 key ones (the Kims, the Parks, and the housekeeper).

There is a LOT more to the film than just this. I've not even scratched the surface. But revealing anything more would mean taking away from the experience of watching the film. So, I'd let it go. It's a pity that I cant write a lot about the film without revealing the plot! The thing is, when I write reviews, I try and reveal only as much as the director has chosen to in the official trailer of the film

So, what worked for me?
1. Great story
This is one of those stories I wish I had written! There were way too many twists and turns and surprises that I was on the edge. Constantly. The first half dragged a bit but the story did hold my attention. Repeat. Story. Not the film. As a writer, I was interested in knowing what would happen next.

The storytelling is subtle. Unlike other stories, where they tell you things, in this one, you discover things. For example, you realize that Kims are not the most honest people when they fake a degree to get the son a job. But the story plants the seeds when they do a small gig and try to con the employer to give them more money than they deserved!

The storytelling is layered. For each thing they communicate in the story, there is a deeper meaning which is often left unanswered, unexplored for the audience to derive the meaning out of.

2. The art
The house, uff!
I want to live in that house! It has everything that I love - a large space with high ceilings, minimal, spacious, modern, lot of wood, a patch of garden, airy windows, a secret chamber in the basement, diffused, automated lights, art and what not!

Apart from the house, the basement, the gym and other places that they've used in the film, they are brilliant. You want to immerse yourself in that world. You want to see more of those and yet you only get the glimpses. And that's probably the biggest secret of them all - less is more!

3. Faux philosophy
At multiple points in the narrative and the story, multiple characters use their versions of life philosophy to justify things happening around them. And each dialogue could take the shape you want to mold it in. You can scoff at those. You can like those. You can nod at those. You can laugh and dismiss those. All al the same time!

4. The symbolism
The name, Parasite, itself is such a brilliant tool to tell me what to expect. A parasite takes from others and survives at other's expense. In the world of the film, each character is a parasite of sorts. The rich wife, the successful business, the scheming family, the house help, the guests and people in general. Even the young boy. And it has been showcased so well that you forget that they are individuals. They are what the film is called! Parasites!

5. The contrast between the first and the second half
If I could divide the film into two halves, I'd say the first one is, well, quirky. There are these little schemes that the Kim family plots and plays and executes. There are these little funny incidents that make it a funny, happy movie. And the second, in contrast, is, well melancholy. No, wait. Melancholy is not the word. Its surprising, intimidating, complex. It's unexpected. You are taken down this dark journey that you did not expect when you were seeing the first half. You are half expecting a horror film with ghosts and skeletons luring out from abstract corners of the house. But its nothing like that. It's worse. Better, if I may!

6. The last 10-15 minutes
It is no doubt the best part of the film. It's a force majeure, if I may. It's been shot hauntingly well - you feel the excitement and togetherness and love of the characters (for each other). You also feel the pain and the anguish and despair that they have!

What did not work for me?
1. Lot of open ends. Like A LOT!
When I see a film, I want closure. I want to see each character reach their destiny. Or fail to reach their destiny. I want to see the struggle. I want to know how much they invested and how bad they wanted things. And I want to see a meaty melee where the characters are literally dying to reach where they wish to go!

2. Did not make me invested too much for, for too long
The film failed to give me a reason to stay invested after a certain point in the narrative. And the film takes almost an hour to reach that point. I don't want to write that point here (it will spoil the suspense). See footnote 1. 

That's it.
Just two things. Really. 

Verdict? 
Please do see it. It's a great piece of cinema.
I'd give it 4 stars (on a scale of 5).

Small print?  
Did the film deserve all those awards?
Well, no!

And why not?
Well, a film to me is a story told on the visual medium. And a great story (irrespective of the medium) is supposed to inspire me, inform me, move me, heck, change me as a person! Great performances of great actors do that. When I see a Godfather, it makes me want to be like Don Corleone. I see Dangal and I want to be like Phogat. I see Chak De India, I want to be like Kabir Khan.

Great stories and great films stay with you for your lifetimes. I saw DDLJ when I was a kid and I can not forget, Ja Simran Ja. I saw Uncut Gems recently and I can not get Ratner (Adam Sandler) out of my head. I want to be like him. I want to go all-in on whatever I am doing, live life on the edge, have a mistress that no one knows about and all that. I saw Joker months ago and I want to be like him - you know, not know what I would do if I caught the car I was chasing! I would sing my own song and not tote the line.

If nothing else, the film has to be such a force that it keeps me hooked on the edge of my seat. Like War did. Yeah, the one with Hrithik. That War. There was no story to it and the plot was predictable but it was a visual treat. I had my eyes glued to the screen! I could not NOT see it!

Parasite?
Which character would I want to be? Not sure.
What would I remember? Just the house!
What did I takeaway? 2 hours of great entertainment.
Will I give it an oscar? No!

Truth be told, if the film was not as hyped (because of Palme d'Or and the Academy Award and all the acclaim), I would've come out of the theatre with even more praise! You know I was expecting a LOT more! Like a typical middle-class Indian - always asking for more!

But then, would I watch a Korean Drama if it did not get all this acclaim?
I will not have!
Thanks to the hype I saw it.
That's where I'd leave it.

So yeah, that's that. Do see the film! 

Thanks for reading,
SG

***
**
*

PS: I do want to talk about a few things but that would mean giving away the plot and the story. What I write hereon assumes that you've seen the film. 

DO NOT READ IF YOU DO NOT WANT SPOILERS.

So, I've been talking to people about it and because I don't seem to find it worthy of all the acclaim, I am told that I have missed a few things. Here is a list. And my thoughts.

a, I am told it's like Slumdog. And there is this portrayal of the shocking class conflict - the difference between the rich and poor and all that. Remember that rain? The rich use that as an excuse to throw a grand party the next day when the sun is out and the poor are left to fend for their lives with nothing to salvage! They say its a social satire. Well, may be. Not to me. These differences do not shock me at all. I see that routinely. At home, at work, in public places. A Barista at Starbucks just confessed that while they get a tad more respect at a Starbucks, they still are invisible people that are not important for the world at large. And that's the fabric of the very world we live in. Some are more privileged. Some are less. 

b, When Kims barely manage to escape from the house (after the Parks come back when the campsite is flooded), why couldn't they merely disappear? Run away from it all? Why would the Kims come back to the house? All it would take is to switch off their phones and run away. You know, ghost! The Kims anyway don't have much left that they could be attached to!

c, Apparently, in the end, there is this track that has been performed by the actor himself where he discloses that it will take him 500 years to get his father out. Assuming he can't just barge in and get the guy out. Assuming the father can't merely walk-out at the dead of the night and disappear in Korea. Probably I don't understand the Korean police system. I mean it's fairly easy to commit a crime and disappear in India. May be it is not in Korea.

d, After the Parks come back, there are far too many close encounters between them and the Kims. The thing is, there were far too many of those. And there are Kims find it far too easy to escape. It's surprising that the Parks did not find anything amiss in a house where the Kims were making merry into! It's all too easy!

e, I am told that this is a classic Bong Joon Ho film. And no, I have not seen any of his other films. So, I'd let that pass.


Footnotes 
1, Continued from above.
So, when the Kims have finally "taken over" the Park's residence, I could've left the cinema hall. There was nothing left for me to see. That is where you could have ended the story and I would have found closure and moved on. It would be a great enough victory for them - that they were living in a basement and now they sort of control a large house! That could've been their victory. I would've left the hall, if not for that incessant doorbell. The bell took way too long to ring. Could've made this part crisper, shorter, sharper. Oh, but when it did come, I was hooked! I wanted to know what going to come next. And like I said, what came next, blew my head off! 

2, Some of the fan-posters are brilliant. Here's a collection for you to ogle at. Here is my favorite...

Source - Mubi

Announcing 1000 x 1000

So, I had some time to kill in the morning today - I was early for a meeting (to avoid traffic). And while I was whiling away time at a Starbucks, I got reading. And somehow, I stumbled onto this post by one of my favorite twitter users - Visa

And I was like, Fuck! I want to do this as well. Of course, it would take commitment and I need to think it through and all that but it would be super cool if I did. No? I don't know if I would have time to do it or not. What about making an announcement and not doing it? What about all the other promises that I have made to people and haven't delivered on those? Where would I get the ideas from? Did I not try this multiple times in the past? What about SoG? What about other things that you were working on? Etc etc.

THF FUCK SAURABH!

Since when you got into this analysis-paralysis? STFU! Do it! 

Yeah yeah. 
Here I am! 
Announcing that I would! 

So, I will publish 1000 posts of at least 1000 words each over the next few years. 

Each post will talk about a thing that I am curious about, a thing that I think needs to be shared widely, a thing that I have an opinion on, a thing that I believe that everyone ought to learn. And more! The idea is 1000 essays of 1000 words. 

And why would I do?
  • Well, the "O faaaaaak" went in my head when I read about it
  • Plus this is something that I can easily do over the next whatever number of years I have left. Plus I have things to say. And a lot of those at that. And this project looks like a great idea to blurt those out. Visa calls these vomits. I'd say thought streams.
  • To be able to write these articles, I will have to read, research, think, talk, ponder, make mistakes and more. Each thing will help me grow as a person. Each thing will help me develop something new! 
  • Plus the articles can open more doors for me - serendipity you know. 
And that, ladies and gents, is the big thing for the day. Help me with it, will you? 

*** 

PS: Last night I was talking to a friend about the creative process that artists follow when they create their work. She brought up the Oscars acceptance speech by the director of Parasite and how he mentioned something like creative work is personal. And my friend wanted to know how do I choose things that I work on. Since this is the most recent thing that I am getting excited by, I can try and list the process. 

Here it is. 

I ask myself a few questions. If the answers are overwhelming yes, I do it! Here are the questions... 

  • Does the idea make me go "O faaaak"? O Faaak is my way of saying that the idea is so brilliant, so amazing that eyes have popped out from the socket and all that! 
  • Is it something that I can humanly do? For example, while I may want to play sports at the professional level, at the age of 37, can I do it? No. But can I write 1000 articles of 1000 words each? YES, I CAN! 
  • Is it something that would teach me something new?
  • Will it get me more opportunities? 
  • Will I be as excited about the idea in 5 years? I often overlook this question but I must use it more often. For this project, I don't think I will be excited about it unless I see some validation/rewards with it. May be a book? I don't know. 
If I get more than three yeses, I do it. Or else I often don't. 

That's it, Princess :) 

Thoughts from a mehil

So, last night, I went to this musical mehfil, as the curator put it. They had three groups performing their sets. While all of those are fairly known in their circles (of musicians, producers, community, etc), I was unaware that they existed. And I was in for a surprise.

The music was EXACTLY the kinds that I like. Earthy, Hindustani (mix of Hindi, Punjabi, Urdu, Bhojpuri, Bhajan, etc), with meaningful lyrics, played without any bells or whistles (acoustic mostly), by young people (that are not chasing frivolous rewards that come along with success in performing arts industry).

Here's a pic that I took there...


View this post on Instagram

What an evening! What talent! Mad respect for people that put in their blood, sweat and toil in chasing things they’re passionate about. Just like these musicians that I saw today. Thing is, music is one of those things. You know, you could have all the talent that you’re born with. You still need to work hard to polish the rough edges. The three sets I saw today? Each of those collectives (there’s no better word) had polished themselves to so much shine that you could see yourself in them! Thanks @pranitanp for putting this up. I am inspired. Wish I had more that I could support indies with. Someday I would. Till then, thanks @harkat.studios for hosting us. Thanks @beekaybeewrites @yugmofficial and @pranitanp for sharing your music with us. #indie #music #life #love #supportIndie 39/365 PS: When I saw myself in them, I saw a drifter staring at me. And about time, something is done about it!
A post shared by SG (@altsaurabh) on

While I was there, my head had a million thoughts running amok in it.

Here's an uncontrolled stream of emotions thoughts.

1. 
It is sad that there is so much talent and yet they have to live in relative anonymity. What I mean by relative is that they are still unable to fund their lives from their music. They have to supplement it with other things.

Of course, they may be content with a life like that - where they are forced to do multiple things to earn enough to get to practice their talent for an hour each day. They may even be happy about it. I am no one to impose things on them!

Who am I to preach this?

But I really really want to do something to help them! Here's a twitter thread that I just wrote (while the post is about musicians, the thread is about indie artists per se).

2. 
I work in the events business (I do corporate events) and I have seen my share of rockstars and I have worked with them, their managers and their crew. And most are not really the most pleasant to work with. Of course, the fame and rockstar image requires them to be assholes but there has to be this niceness in the world! The kinds that indies bring to the table.

So, I often recommend these indies to my clients. But then I am dissed most times - the audience wants to enjoy and have a good great time when they are at a corporate event. And wants to show off!

I mean with an indie, they may enjoy more (they would be more flexible, accessible and all that) and could have the best set ever. But people are happier with a mediocre set where half the times the singer may even be merely lipsyncing.

Why? Because most people just want to harp about things they are doing in life, on Instagram and Facebook and all that. And a selfie with a star singer gets them more likes on their Facebook than a relatively unknown one. And that is what matters more than anything else.

3. 
Of course, there are varying degrees of talent and performance by these indies. Some are better than pros, some are so bad that I could do better than them. Most are somewhere in the middle of this continuum. In the ideal world, the ones that have made it must support the ones that are a rung lower than them. The run lower must, in turn, support the ones that are one step lower than them and so on and so forth. You know, this chain of niceness has to pass down to a person like me that wants to be an artist but does not have the talent. Someone a tad better than me must teach me what they know. And in turn, they must learn from others that are ahead of them in the journey.

The top of the ladder is not stardom per se. But an opportunity to make a living that allows them to hone their craft. You know, how kings of the yesteryears would give residencies and grants and largesses to artists to roam around free and create work.

4. 
So, I have a finger in multiple pies (books, films, photography, art, travel, etc) and I think I can try and give these indie musicians an opportunity to do more!

Here's a long list...
  • With TRS, we just started publishing videos of conversations. These videos need intro and outro music pieces. What if we get some original compositions for various episodes and share credit with the ones that create? If their work is out there, there are higher chances of them getting discovered. Plus they can add TRS as a "client" on their portfolio and start approaching more people! 
  • With TRS again, we do live events where we have stalwarts from the industry come and talk to a group of aspiring filmmakers. At each event, we could open with an indie band. And then if location and time permits, do a longer set as people disperse. Again, an opportunity to perform! 
  • With Red Carbon, I can mandate that each film I produce, I would have a track by an indie! And not just the track, I can mandate that the musician would appear. 
  • For Podium, on each podcast, I could end it up with a track by one of the artists. Assuming it does not take away from the listening experience. 
  • At C4E, I can start C4E Indie where I could feature indies and create opportunities for them! I could create a podcast, a media property, a talent management company, a brand solutions company and I don't know what all. Ideally, this should be done by a large brand per se, the biggest I am a part of is TRS but then they are about films. May not be a fit. Or may be. Will have to think. 
  • I could create an event on the lines of Sofar Sounds that allows me to create these gigs across the country, invite indie artists and get the long-tail to pay and make the model sustainable. And from whatever little I know, Sofar has been able to raise some seed funding already. How about a clone? May be. Lemme think. 
Of course, all these require money and I don't have a lot of it right now. So, someday!

5. 
When I heard some tracks in English, I could not relate to words. They don't talk to me as well as Hindi and close cousins do. Ditto for a bunch of languages from East India and South India. I can pick some words that are inspired by the language I speak but I can connect with it. 

I've always believed that music transcends boundaries but for some reason, I continue to remain disconnected to music that is alien to me.

I need to be able to appreciate a larger range of music. And other art forms!

6. 
Where tf is the money in this? No art form, no endeavor exists unless there is a commercial angle to it. Not even religion for that matter. You need to feed people. You need to pay the bills. You need to buy instruments!

Someone has to crack it. Could there be a collective that builds a temple or something and everyone just joins it volunteers to run and thus control costs? I don't know man! 

7. 
Music and writing and poetry and acting and other such things can teach you so much and so much better than traditional methods. Must use these more liberally in whatever I do!

8. 
So, for all musicians and artists, there are some adjacencies?

Lemme give examples. There was this pianist that makes money by teaching others piano. There is this painter that teaches others to paint. There is this waiter that writes stories at night. There is this actor that works at a film portal.

The idea is that all of them do something adjacent to what they want to do. And each day at "work" makes them practice and hone their art better.

Can I create economically viable businesses and ideas around these adjacencies? Workshop for actors, coaching classes for musicians, etc, etc.

9. 
Can I link various art forms and create a system per se where they seek help and work from each other and pay each other in-kind? Say, you are doing a concert and you need a poster for that. You tap into this network and get a poster designed. You now owe the network a unit of work. Someone else needs a piece of music and you owe the network one unit and you now create a piece of music that is worth that unit.

Am I making sense?

10. 
And in the end, who even reads these posts? Do you?

Hello February / Monthly Review - Jan 2020

February of 2020 is here! Time does fly!

This is how I spent Jan 2020. I know you may not be interested, but I like the idea of keeping the universe accountable. Plus, the review would tell me if what I did in the month is helping me reach my yearly goals (and eventually, life plan and goals). For the record, three large goals for 2020 are Book 2, a sub-5 marathon, a topline of 50 crores. 



Here's the recap for Jan 2020.
I have sections for fails, wins, inbetweens, lessons, plan for Feb 2020 and a question.


#fails 
  1. We did not do a single meetup for the Mastermind group. I plan to fix it by pushing the existing group and creating a new mastermind group. Also, I need to think that if these keep failing (this was my third attempt), then may be I am doing something wrong? 
  2. Lost a VERY big deal that could have catapulted me in the next league. I did everything I could (saamdaamdandbhed and moreand yet I did not get the project. But thanks to this, I have started to maintain a list of failures (that I will look at every time I feel great). 
  3. I could not follow a schedule that I would like to. I was traveling a lot more than what I typically do for a speculative assignment that I have taken. The assignment propels my brand forward and thus is an important one. I thought about it and I realized that I am unable to manage time because I don't have a place to work out of. 
  4. Did nothing (apart from a trek) to further the sub-5 marathon goal. 

#wins
  1. Went on a trek to Mahuli Fort. This is the first trek that I have done in years and it was tough! but I am glad I made it to the top. And more importantly, I came back! Thanks, SK for this. 
  2. Got myself a place to work out of (at a co-working space). With this, I've fixed #Jan20F2. Plus the place is like 500 meters from where I live and is open 24x7. I will now get into a schedule of sorts. And as I expand things, I plan to work out of this place irrespective of work, ideas, people. Unless I take up a different gig! 
  3. Launched Podium sometime in the last year (with AD) but it has started to sputter to life. The first thing that we do under that is a weekly newsletter (PLEASE SUBSCRIBE). We've sent three editions and response has been encouraging. Need to scale it in Feb. 
  4. I have reached 35 days on my #aPicADay challenge.
  5. I successfully implemented an indexing system for notes, thanks to DB. I am now trying to implement a color-coded life tracker (thanks, Visa). There's this joke that my friends make - I spend more time tracking things than actually doing those! 

#inBetweens (these are neither wins / nor losses)
  1. I got invited to pitch to a project that I could've taken on, put on the slow burner and made some trickles once in a while. But I chose to charge a large sum for it upfront and then, nothing happened! Which is ok. I want to be paid worth my time. 
  2. I need to control my obsession with tabs on a browser window. I have like 100 tabs open at any given point in time. And the worse thing is that I don't even know what to do with those tabs - after all, its inhuman to pay attention for that long! 

#miscNotes / What did I learn this month? 
I think I got lucky in Jan. I have three tailwinds that have helped me do better than most months...

a, I moved to a place that is a little more accessible for inter-city travel. I can now meet people in a reasonable time. Where I lived before this, I had to travel for 3 hours to even get a meeting. As a result, I was letting go of a lot of opportunities. And I was wasting time, money and energy with it.
Lesson? Always live at a hub. Even though it's expensive and all that, the money is worth it. 

b, I got to partner with AD on Podium. The great part of working with him is that he is very numbers, insights kind of person (and I am very intuition kinds). So I am learning the other side of things. Plus he is meticulous (faaaaaaar more than me) and of course, focussed (even a Goldfish is more focussed than me). So that is helping! Plus now that I am accountable to him, I am putting in the extra effort to get things done.
The lesson here is that I work better when I have partners that push me! Need to find similar people as I go along. 

c. Within the Podium umbrella, AD and I are trying to write a journalistic piece on podcasting. And that is allowing me to meet a lot of people at the leadership levels. And that's awesome! I need to make a process that allows me to write more pieces and thus meet more people. In fact, the thesis that I had when I started PPP and TRS is getting validated with The Podium.
Lesson? Create / own / work / whatever with a media brand! And if possible, invest more on such "media" platforms! 


#inFeb
Here are the things that I will get done in Feb 2020. Again, these need to be in sync with the yearly goals.
  • Write 25K words on book2
  • Start climbing stairs. Do 100 flights a day
  • Fix the C4E website 
Apart from these three, I will continue to try and be better every day. I will try and continue to upload a pic every day, deep dive into the Messy Middle and try to eat better. 


What am I thinking about? Alert: Rant Ahead!!!
So, apart from this regular mundane work thing, I am struggling with this idea of impact. I wrote about it initially here.
...the thing that keeps me up is that C4E and all the allied things I do are merely taking things from 1 to 1.3 or something. I am not doing anything in the 0 to 1 space. Or even 1 to 100. I am not adding any tangible, real value to the world. I am not making any dents. All I am doing is doing a different take on what others have done before me. If I were to disappear tomorrow, not one person would miss what I do. Imagine if Apple were to disappear, would you miss what they do? That! I want to do what people at Apple, Google, Facebook, Amazon, and other such places are doing. They create new things. They create a 1 from 0. They make that ding in the universe.
So, the deal is, I run C4E - an events and marketing consulting business. Now, like I said, anyone in the world can create this business. There is not one thing that I do that is irreplaceable. No, I don't chase immortality (though I would love to not die, ever) but I do want to do meaningful work. Work and things and output that gives happiness, validation, comfort, peace, inspiration, platforms and other such things to a billion people. And more, if possible. And I have no clue how to go about doing that. What I do gives a handful of the above-mentioned things to a handful of people. And that is not enough. I believe I have what it takes to deliver all of that. But I don't have the platform! Neither do I know how to build such a platform. And worse, while what I do is interesting, it may not lead me to that goal. There is no large mission that I am a part of. And I do not know how to get there. The world needs to be the oyster and yet, today, I am limited to like Veera Desai road! 

I often wonder about Jeff Bezos and Warren Buffett and Bill Gates and Steve Jobs and Paul Graham and Sam Altman and Adam Grant and Aswath Damodaran and all that. When did they realize that they have what it takes to inspire generations and generations? When did their work move from operational to the inspirational zone? How did the transition happen? What ticked them in the direction? How did they learn so much that they could make things happen at their businesses AND do more things at the same time? Who helped them? How do they work? Do I have it in me to become like them? And if not, do I quit the hopes of helping others and get settled in a comfortable 9 to 5? At least I can enjoy the riches that the world has to offer! 

And finally, am I the only one that grapples with this challenge? Because I see people around me very happy with what they are wading in! 

Would you have answers? 

Sigh! 

Rant Over! 

***

So, that's about it for the update. Do let me know if you want me to look at anything else. 

Over and out. 
4 Feb 2020

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PREVIOUS UPDATES are here...
2019 - AugSep, Oct, Nov, Dec

PS: To track these (like I said, I track more and do less), I use the following tools...
  • I follow the Maker Day - Manager Day philosophy.
  • I use tags extensively and I tag everything - mails, tweets, notes even when I write with a pencil. And I ensure that the names and styles are consistent. Sometime in the future, this would become a really big differentiator. Information archiving is easy. Retrieval is a pain. 
  • Asana - I use the free version. To track tasks etc. 
  • Google Calendar to schedule meetings etc. 
  • Toggl - this is a paid app but I use the free version to track time on Manager days
  • A 15-min interval calendar - template here. I take a print of this on my Maker days and list all tasks. And then I track every 15 min. The idea is to reach a point when I can start tracking 1-hour long slots. 
  • A combination of Evernote, Miro, Notes app on Mac, a physical notepad, post-it notes, numerous spreadsheets and don't know what all. With time I want to move to just one online tool and one notepad. I don't know the optimal solution. But let's see. Plus, I am thinking, once I reach a certain stature and stage, would I need to minutely manage my time/life? Not sure! What do you think?  
  • Lately have started to use Roam to catalog thoughts. Let's see how it goes. And In Feb, I will try to use Notion to create hyperlinked content. Again, not sure if I would continue to use it. Let's see where it goes. 
PPS: Going forward, I will use the above format (have culled the number of things I am doing drastically to be able to reach three large goals for 2020) to report how the month went by was. 

PPPS: I, of course, need to give you an update on the tasks that I planned for Dec and Jan (since I did not do the planning for Jan). Here is an update on what I had planned...
  • a. Work on #book2. I started working on this. Not full-steam though. I'd give this a C. 
  • b. Start running. I could not. Been trying since Oct. But I did take some actions on trying to get fitter. So, C. 
  • c. Get saurabhgarg.com up and running. The site is up but I don't like it. So, a D.
  • d. Do a one-month reading deep-dive into one specific topic. No action. So, an F.
  • e. Work towards creating a business that takes me beyond India. Worked hard on it and yet it's not showing me the results. Attempt - yes, the outcome - no. So, a C. 
  • f. Renew focus on C4E. No action. F. 
  • g, fix my planning process. Did! Not quite an A but a B for sure! 
Oh, like I said, going forward, I will not have more than three goals for the month that I will track / chase. If I manage those 3, I will add more. But three is what I would plan for! 

And with this, ladies and gents, over and out! 

Thank you for your patience. It is not an easy task to survive these long emails! Lemme end this with the best photo that I clicked in Jan 2020...

in2020, I will...

This is an email that I sent to a select set of friends and family. Reproducing it here in full. In an attempt to live a more open and accountable life.

I know I know.
I am late.
Terribly late.
On both things - the monthly email that I send to you (so late that I did not even send it in Dec 19) and on the yearly plan for 2020. Will send both today in this one email. And I am publishing this on the internet (on my blog) so that others may use this, should they want to. And hold me accountable. As some of you have done so far! 


Recap of 2019
So, 2019. Not the best year of my life. Funnily, neither was 2018. 
In Jan of 2019, I wrote this post and made a list of things that I'd do in the year. For ease of reading, here is how it looked like...


I thought hard about each goal before I articulated it. Each goal had a specific reason for inclusion in the list - if I achieved the goal, I would change who I am as a person.

But I missed all of these.
By a large margin. To a point that when I was doing the review, I realized that I aimed way too high. As they say, I shot out of my league. 
Which is a good thing. 
And a bad thing. 
Good - aim for the moon and land among the stars. 
Bad - get depressed about the non-achievement.
I'll come back to this.  

On the tangibles, the biggest #win would be that I survived a tough year. I don't know if it was evident from my lifestream (on the blog, twitter, etc) but it was tough as hell! Multiple reasons - clients did not spend as much with me, some projects failed to take off (Jamoon, Hop197, saurabhgarg.com, Titan Consulting), as an individual I could not deliver on few projects where I was the DRI and so on and so forth. And yet, I survived. 

On the upside, I did make a film (and met some of the icons of the performing world), met some really really kind people that now take an active interest in my career (and keep me sane), opened doors to opportunities (that hopefully would get monetized eventually) and (like I said), survived. Oh, and I learned that when the times are tough you are often left to fend for yourself. Everyone is struggling with so much in their lives that they simply do not have the time to think about you!

The biggest #fail would be that I could not grow C4E. It's stagnating. I could've grown the business but I clearly could not. The growth of this one is important because the core business (events and brand) is what gives fuel to all the exciting projects that I am a part of (and allows me to fund those experiments). I need to accelerate that #in2020. Staying on that, the thing that keeps me up is that C4E and all the allied things I do are merely taking things from 1 to 1.3 or something. I am not doing anything in the 0 to 1 space. Or even 1 to 100. I am not adding any tangible, real value to the world. I am not making any dents. All I am doing is doing a different take on what others have done before me. If I were to disappear tomorrow, not one person would miss what I do. Imagine if Apple were to disappear, would you miss what they do? That! I want to do what people at Apple, Google, Facebook, Amazon, and other such places are doing. They create new things. They create a 1 from 0. They make that ding in the universe. 

Moving on. 

Thanks to YearCompass, I did a structured recap of the year gone by. Which was good. I now know where I was fucking up. I did not have a process to achieve the large goals that I was chasing. I do know about systems vs goals thinking but I never implemented a system. 2020 on, I would. You'd see it... 

So, in terms of themes, if I were to list a set of reasons for my inability to reach those goals, I would say they would be...
  • I plan for things out of my league but I do not put in place the processes to deliver those.
  • I overestimate my ability to do things.
  • I overestimate my ability to get things done.
  • Once I solve the problems in my head, I do not want to actually do the hard work of solving those IRL. Thanks AS for helping me articulate this.
  • I am a great starter. And I like to finish things as well (my finish rate would be mid 20% - which is low and I want to work hard to finish 100% of things that I start). What I suck at is the messy middleAgain, thanks to AS for helping me identify this. 
  • I am more of a 'react to situations' person. Rather than being proactive.
  • I am easy on myself. If I miss a goal, I do not reprimand myself. I do not seek accountability from myself. And if I work with (or for) someone, I do not want to disappoint them and feel accountable for their money / time / inputs. And thus I work harder. Maybe I am not fit for being an entrepreneur?
So, I just need to fix these!

To end the 2019 piece, I'd say the same thing that I've been saying all this while - there were a few hits and a few misses but I could've done 2019 better!


#in2020
Now, the part that you've all been waiting for ;P 

The YearCompass that I used to do a recap? It also gave me a framework to think about 2020. Along with that, I used the TinyChange Planner. And between the two documents, I think I have a pretty decent hang of how I want to spend my 2020.

Before I come to specific goals, here are the large themes per se... 
  • I need to put systems in place for each goal. 
  • Like I said, I am more of 'react to things and situations' person. Need to fix this. I need to get over my inability to make things happen. 
  • Get more social. And become a magnet. While I do that, I need to become a super-connector (which is a large #sglifetheme) and become reliable (you know, the guy that gets things done, just like The Transporter). This means that I need to become that guy that knows a guy that can get things done. For sure. And while that happens, I need to become that guy that you like! 
  • I need to ACT on getting healthy. May be, start eating meat (this is a touchy topic and more I read about this, more I am indecisive). Start with a workout for sure. 
Further, I don't know where I read but it said that you need to identify that one-word mantra that you could remind yourself time and again about (especially every time you slack). The mantra must make you jump out of the bed when you are in the mood to snooze. I have one for #2020. 

Here... 


That, ladies and gents is my mantra for 2020. Act.

Every time I am bored or uninspired or not motivated or lethargic or in the mood procrastinate, I would look at this and move to the task at hand. And act.

Armed with all these, coming to specifics, like the previous years, I will chase goals under certain categories - wealth, health, relationships, writing, and others. Of course, I do have a long list (and its almost similar to what I had in 2019), this year around thanks to Tiny Change, I will focus on three goals and three goals only (other things will become side projects). Caveat. The very core of these documents is the tenet that you would focus on a few things. Now, this is unlike me! You know, I am not just a petty thief?


So the three large goals for 2020 are... 
  • Book 2 
  • Complete a marathon in under 5 hours
  • Make a business that has a topline of 50 crores 

Each of these is daunting, exciting, tough, out of the league and so on and so forth. And each of these is definite, measurable, have a binary outcome and is of course timebound. And each of these is in line with what I want to do in life! If I get these, I would be close to the #lifeGoals.

Again, thanks to Tiny Change, I have further divided these three in key initiatives that I must take to achieve. For example, for the book, I need to... 
  1. Write 100K words before Jun 2020
  2. Build a community of 100 beta readers that are interested in reading my book 
  3. Build my understanding of the art and craft of writing by reading 10 books on the topic
And each of these has further bifurcation (systems!). For example, to build a community, I need to learn by doing multiple experiments. And I have done similar bifurcations for all three large things. And

So, three goals for 2020. Let's see how they pan out.

And yes, I do have a few other things that I will work on, you know, side hustles. Things like Poker, 100 Rejections, SoG Volume 1, meditation, guitar, etc. And I do have a long list of those - see this. But they will remain what they are - side hustles!


Metrics
While I will track these closely, I also need to put some dashboards and metrics that I can use to understand how I am doing. For example, AS (from above) says that if things are working out, there has to be an uptick in the chart. Say, through the year, my weight must reduce, the money in the bank must go up and so on and so forth. I will chase. RB has been asking me to get access to communities that are closely guarded. This is a binary goal (just like the Marathon is) and it's either happened. Or not happened.

So that's that.


End Notes
In the end, like I was talking to a friend, I don't regret the decisions or the path that I've taken in life. But I do regret the ability to act and make things happen. Going forward, I hope to change that. You know, act!

So yeah. That's 2020. I hope 2020 is where things start to fall in place. Hope the same for you. May the year is full of love, luck, and happiness. May you live long and prosper.

Thank you for reading.

Over and out.
Saurabh Garg
04 02 2020

PS: In case you need help in planning your time and all, happy to help. Please do let me know.

PPS.: In case you are curious, here are similar posts from previous years: 2019, 2018, 2017, 2015, 2014, 2013 and 2012.

PPPS: Tools I used to arrive at these...
  • TinyChange Planner. Some 800 bucks on Amazon. 
  • YearCompass. Free.
  • A few homegrown excel sheets, Asana lists, notes, and notepads. I use free versions of all these apps. Except for GSuite. Happy to share templates. Please do let me know.

PPPPS: The yearly list that I wrote for 2018 was the best ever I think.

PPPPPS: In the words of a friend, I hope we all slay in 2020.

Film Review - The Next Three Days


So, the last night, I saw this film on Netflix. Called The Next Three Days, the film is a remake of a French film Anything For HerNo, I have not seen the original. 

The film is a story of John, a community college professor whose wife, Lara is accused of a murder that she did not commit and is jailed for the rest of her life. The professor tries all legal, moral, ethical, by-the-law routes. And fails. The wife tries to commit suicide, something tips in the professor and plots an escape path for her. And while he does that, he ends up becoming what he never was - a criminal. Oh, and there is a young son, Luke that adds to the drama. 

Without a doubt, The Next Three Days is among the best action-thriller-suspense films I've seen. There is not one thing that I would add or remove from the film. Even though the film is more than 2 hours long, I was hooked. One time I had to get up to pee and I did not want to. The writer and the director have done that great a job. 

To plot the escape, the professor starts with research. He talks to a person that has escaped from jailed seven times, charts the escape route meticulously, sells whatever he can to raise the money, gets mugged while trying to acquire fake identities, to get his wife of the jail, he plans the escape plan meticulously, gets mugged, sells his belongings, gets a gun, gets embroiled with drug dealers and does things you and I would probably not.

The writing is tight. Not one character is out of place. Even though I have seen my share of crime and suspense films, there are so many times when you go, "oh faaaak" during the film. They had to actually dumb down things for the audience at multiple points in the narrative. I would not lie but I can recall a couple of places where if they did not tell us about the suspense, I would've missed it! 

Apart from John and Lara, even the smallest character has been written well.

For example, there is this drug runner in the film that appears on the screen for like 30 seconds. Even though he is a bad guy and has three lines in the narrative, in those three lines you realize that he is not a bad guy and doing it merely because he grew up in a wrong neighborhood. 

Then there is John's brother's wife. She's apparently a pain in the backside in the first scene of the film. And when she reappears after an hour or so, she is still the same. And all she does is complain about coffee. 

Liam Neeson comes for a brief bit and as expected does a Neesony job. 

John's parents play a parenty role - caring, reliable and all. As John is planning the escape, there is this nod, handshake and a hug between him and his father that tells that the two men haven't had the most cordial relationship and they've buried the hatchet. 

There are multiple cops in the film - the one that was investigating the murder charge on wife, the one that's leading the investigation into the drug chase. Each is gritty, meticulous and working towards closure. They are great adversaries in the cat and mouse they play with John! 

The characters have been made to work hard to get what they want. There are roadblocks and lucky breaks. As with life, hundred roadblocks and just a handful of lucky breaks. The cops have had to navigate politics, inefficiency, laziness, and ingenuity of John. John is like you and me - uses YouTube to learn how to break locks, get into cars, fake reports, etc. He practices, takes small risks at first, works harder, stumbles again and then gets lucky! You know, like a typical never-say-die dude? No wonder you feel for him and you root for him! 

The lead characters - John and Lara - they are such a perfect couple that it is impossible (I guess this is the only problem I have with the film - couples can be that perfect!). They've been married for ages, have a kid and yet they are attracted to each other physically. When the wife is jailed, the husband visits her at every opportunity that he gets - he is the only one that believes in her innocence. When they know that she is not getting out, each other tries to console the other. The wife lies to nudge the husband to move on. The husband continues to paddle hope to his wife. Even when another woman makes a pass at John, he politely refuses the advances. When John finally manages to get the wife out of the reach of the cops, Lara being a moral, righteous citizen initially wants to conform to the cops and refuses to leave. She moves when John tries to tell her that they are at a point of no return and their son will be left alone if they do not run. 

No, such couples do not exist. They are unreal.

As a family, with the kid, they are, again, unreal. They have so many of these familiar traditions - souvenirs, nicknames, photos, and whatnot. And they've shown those without exaggerating. Or without hyperbole. While watching the film, I was jealous that my family had none of those!

As an audience, there are so many points in the film where you find yourself rooting for the family. You laugh with them, cry with them and you share their despair. You get your hope up and then all of it comes crashing down. The film is as roller-coastery a ride as you'd imagine.

The action is fast - keeps you on the edge all the time. At each point, I was guessing what would he do next thing that'd happen. And more often than not, I was wrong. They have planted so many Red Herrings, so fast, that you would miss the subtlety if you are not paying attention to the film. And no, you can not, NOT pay attention. It is that good!

The background music could have been better. There is not one riff that I recall, a night after I saw the film. I do remember a scene where the car does a cartwheel - the background sound design at that moment does add to the drama. But apart from that, I cant seem to remember the music.

The film is a MUST WATCH.

Oh and the film raises some questions that no one film has made me think about. How far are you willing to go for your family? Where do you draw the line on conforming to society and authorities? What if the society is wrong and you know you are right, would you fight them off? And to what end? If everyone stood for their beliefs and started to use guns, will we not descend into anarchy? And how you do leave behind all that you have stood for and become a criminal? And where do you escape?

In one line, how do you become an anti-hero? Well, he wasn't an anti-hero at all - he never felt like a bad man. Ever. I mean, I've seen my share of "family-first" films and dramas. From Prison Break to Godfather to Kabhi Khushi Kabhi Gam to more. While each of these is a masterpiece of cinema, they did not make me question myself about the extent to which I'd go for my family. 

Those stories are distant. They looked like the ones that would happen to someone else. Not to me. The Next Three Days could have easily been my story. One of my family members could get framed for a crime that he did not commit and even when evidence is stacked tall against him, will I continue to be on this side? Will I sell whatever I have? Will I leave my life behind? Would I pick a gun?

I am not sure. 

You?

RIP Kobe. Thank You, Kobe!

So last night, I was in the zone where I was sad and angry and depressed. About things and life in general. To a point where I was questioning the meaning of life and all that. I was whiling away time on Twitter and Instagram and other things that you use to kill time when you are sad. No, I do not enjoy human company when I am in a mood like that.

And while on twitter, I saw this tweet.

Now, I don't know Kobe. But I knew of Kobe. I do not follow Basketball per se but I do know of his name. And Magic Johnson, Pippen, Iverson, Malone, Shaq, and lately, Lebron James. I know of these guys as athletes that have worked hard. For years. Relentlessly. With an ethic that is impossible to match!

And because these guys are in America, they are so much under scrutiny that they can NOT fuck up even once. I have always had mad respect for such people. I mean despite all the success that you get, how do you maintain a sane head? I've seen film stars and cricketers here in India and their head is so up their backsides that they can't see anything but themselves! 

And because these guys are from communities that typically do not get as many opportunities as others, even more respect for these guys. I mean they did not crib about the disadvantage that they were faced with. They did not falter along the way. They did not digress. They kept their aim and continued to work on it. Year after year. For so long. Even when they missed the mark, they would've got sad but would have come back to the grind. And then worked their way up!

So, when I read last night that he's died in a crash, along with his daughter (who was all of 13), I was sad. Not heartbroken per se. Not devastated. But plain old sad. I started to read about who he was and where he came from (it's funny that you read about a person when they die; and not when they are around).

And while I was reading and as the news was spreading, the tributes and comments started pouring in. From people that I respect and follow (investors, businessmen, celebrities, marketers, etc.). And it started to sink in what a big deal the guy was! His life was a life that gave hope to so many like him. He gave joy to his fans. His friends had the most heartbreaking reactions - can tell what a guy he must have been!

To make matters worse, he went with his daughter (and another father-daughter duo). More than Kobe, my heart goes out for the two young girls that were probably going to be playing at larger levels. It is plain unfair. Life, is unfair. And, may I say, a bitch!

And is fucking funny. You know how? I'll tell you how.

A few days ago, Clayton Christensen passed away. The guy was a big inspiration to all the great movers and shakers of our times (Bill Gates, Steve Jobs, Jeff Bezos, etc). Again, I did not know much about him, except reading the iconic book that he wrote. And this speech (also read this if you are keen). And of course, his influence was limited to the business community (though the impact those business people have made is immeasurable), the eulogies were muted, professional succinct, devoid of emotion.

Kobe's are another world. He belonged to, like I say, the masses!

Can I even compare the two people? How do you measure one person's life against another? What about all those thousands that die every day? Some 50 people have died infected with coronavirus died cos of no fault of theirs. I don't even know how many people have died in India protesting against CAA / NRC. What about all those innocent people that were in that Ukrainian plane that Iran shot down?

It's unfair. It's pointless. And it's meaningless. And, it's fucking funny.

Want to know another funny story?

Well, on Saturday I wrote this long tome about the shortness of life. In it, I talked about how our lives are short. While I wrote it, I did not mean that we'd die abruptly at the age of 41 or 13 or whatever. I meant that in general, the 70-80 years that we get to live here are not enough to explore it all. There's so much to do. But when shit like this happens, you lose faith. I mean look at his daughter. She was training to be an athlete. And probably putting in so much hard work and effort and all that. To what end? She did not even get a shot at it! If there is indeed God above, may I ask him / her / it, what was Gianna's reason of existence?

And here's another funny thing.

For some reason, thanks to Kobe's accident and the emotional outbursts, I am more determined than ever to make my life count. I called up my parents (they live in a different city). I spoke nicely to my friends (that I haven't spoken to in a while). I knocked off so many things from my to-do list that its, well, not funny.

I am more determined to not succumb to the vagaries of life. It's been tough last few days months. I am at the end of the rope with a lot of things. But I plan to hang onto it. And make it work. Kobe made it despite where he came from. I am far more privileged. I can at least try.

I am more determined to do more. And get more people to do more. Thing is, this difference between Clay and Kobe, while unfortunate, is such a telling one. An artist, an athlete, a performer, a speaker, someone that belongs to the masses, inspires the world far more with their action (and inaction) than a businessman.

I am more determined to not while time on things that are not important to me. For, I don't know what is my expiry date. For, time is all we have.

I am more determined to become more human. Which means I am going to ensure that I am a lot more present for people that get joy when I am around them. Of course, I can count the number of such people on just half the fingers of my left hand (may be not even that).

That's about it I guess.

Kobe, you left too soon. Thank you for your life. Thank you for inspiring me. And others. You are in a better place.

PS: You know what would be the funniest? That I die tomorrow without doing a single thing that I've planned to do with my life!

The Sleepy Syndrome

Yesterday I had to stay up to finish a thing I was working on. And it was tough. No, not the thing that I was working on. But staying up.

So tough that I roamed around like a zombie in the house.

I have this friend who's shacking up with me for a few days. And since this is a Mumbai house, he's using the hall as his bedroom. The guy told me that I sort of scared him with all the feet that I was dragging along the entire night.

I just could not stay up. Despite my earnest efforts.

And it sucks. Suck so bad that I am blogging about it.

Thing is I have always taken pride in my ability to get by with little sleep or food or other such worldly comforts. I do need a lot of safai, water, and access to a clean loo. But lately, since I've got on the sleep-more bandwagon and have become that boring old man that sleeps at 10 and wakes up at 5, I am used to spending 7-8 hours on the bed. What I do there is anyone's guess but I do try and be on the bed for that long.

Now, yesterday, when I had this important submission, I was initially unfazed. After all, I haven't needed a lot of sleep. I thought it would be a cakewalk. And to make matters easy, I loaded my ref with Diet Coke, Diet Chiwda, Diet Air and Diet BS. Who could stop me?

Well, myself!

Thanks to my old age, I just could not focus on the task at hand. I would doze off even while I was walking around. I was bouncing off the walls. Literally. I drank I don't know how much water and I don't know how much I peed but I do know that by the end of it, I was so sick and tired of all the visits to the loo that I parked myself outside. And while I was parked there, I dozed off as well.

Thankfully, the work I was doing was a writing gig. And I remembered that if you are a writer, you do not let the piece make you its muse. Rather you make it your bitch and belt it out when you feel like. So, I decided that even though all odds are stacked against it. And I promised myself that I would not sleep unless I do it!

Just that my body clock and age had decided that they would make it tough for me.

However, I persisted and finished the piece. The lesson I took away from that is that as I age, health has started to become an increasingly important component. Thankfully I am a little stable in the head (I think) and thus I have been able to survive. Need to do a lot more work on my physical fitness. Will make 2020 about fitness. And that means food and working out. Things that I have traditionally ignored.

Will work on starting now! Wait and watch!

About 12 hours after I caught some sleep, I am still reeling from the effects of not sleeping. Even this piece is not the best that I've written. I HAVE to fix things! 

The Happiness Equation

I wake up really early. To a point that I am often the first one on the roads, the first customer at the local Starbucks, the first person in the office, the first person to use the loo (I drink a lot of water) and so on and so forth. And thus I often get to see people and things that others miss. Like there is hardly any security at any office complex at 7 AM. The loos inside these office complexes, malls, and other places stink like fish markets because there is no one to clean those overnight. The staff at Starbucks is more concerned about getting the display right than serving the customers.

Today was no different. I came in at 7 AM. Said hi to the security guard that did do a customary check on my bag. The Barista made my coffee without me even placing the order. I had some 120023 glasses of water. And when at around 9 my bladder was about to burst, I ran to the loo. And there was this young boy, probably from the north-east cleaning the toilet. And may I say he was doing a kick-ass job at it. I mean I have seen my share of blue-collar work and my never-ending complaint is that most blue-collared workers do not take pride in what they do. They do because they do not have any other opportunities per se.

This guy was doing what Will Smith said about laying bricks. Each brick to the best of his ability. This guy was cleaning each inch of the place to the best of his ability. And I love people who do their jobs well. I made a mental note to look for him and hire him when I am able to. And I moved on.

Fast forward a couple of hours. I rushed to the loo yet again (yes I drink a lot of water) and I saw the young boy howling. He was surrounded by a couple of other workers from the mall. These older workers were consoling him. I tried to overhear but I could not understand the reason for commotion there. By the time I decided I want to intervene, a small crowd had gathered there, mostly made of staff at the mall. And I decided to not. I suck at handling mobs, crowds, and other such gatherings.

I peed as fast as I could, did not want my bladder to burst. And in the meanwhile, the guy had gotten quieter. Thank God for that. I should've asked him but I did not have the heart to go and even ask why was he crying.

I wish I had the balls to. I wish I had the resources to make him happy again. I mean I know that life's purpose is to not chase happiness (well, I can debate) but I also know that the ones like me that are divinely discontent are ok with this discontentment in our bones. But the aam aadmi may not be. Most people I know seek peace, happiness, and other such things. And I think if they are not as fucked in the head as I am, they are well within their rights to seek happiness. And as someone who believes that the purpose of my life is to enable others to do better, I must be able to intervene and give them what they seek. Even if its happiness! 

That's the sad part of being human. There are 7.5 billion others around you. And each is in a different place on the continuum of sadness and happiness. Some are bang in the middle - at equanimity - but they are few and far between. I really wish I knew where is my default state on this continuum. I think I am around equanimity but I lean to the happiness side. I know of people that are equanimous but lean to sadness. And that is ok!

Brings me to an interesting juncture. And the entire point of this post.

I have realized that I tend to avoid even knowing about what makes other people sad. I can give numerous examples to substantiate this. When I am on the road and I pass by an accident, I do not look at the site. I simply turn my head. I don't want to look at the gore and tears and all that. I don't see films that showcase pathos. Like this recent film that came out where Deepika Padukone is trying to highlight the plight of the acid attack victims, despite angry skirmishes with a very dear friend, I could not bring myself to watch it. A friend suffered from a brain surgery a few years ago and she wanted me to see the pics of the operation, I could not. When someone suffers or is at a hospital, I don't know what to do about it. I want to be around, comfort them but I don't know how to do it without getting affected myself. A few days ago when a friend had a meltdown, I went in a shell for a few days. I am weak like that. I am not a good friend at such junctures. I HATE those WhatsApp forwards and videos that show accidents and gore. And I have friends that revel in sharing those. I know they get pleasure and these are intriguing. But these things make me suck in the gut.

I am often told by colleagues that my negotiation skills suck and I often leave a lot of money on the table for others. I am told that I go out of my way to make everyone happy and in the process get fucked myself. And I am told that even when I see that people are taking me for a ride, I play along, get hurt and make large, terrible losses. I once lost all my savings and 2-3 years of life because I was way too empathetic to say no to a bad idea. I often get into trouble when I poke my nose into the affairs of strangers on the Internet and try to offer them advice and inputs. I have been called a creep and psychopath and all that. At traffic signals when those beggars come and flaunt their disfigured bodies, I am unable to look at those. There is this restaurant here in Mumbai where the waiting staff is deaf and dumb. They may have the best food but I can not bring myself to ever go there. They may claim to give employment to people that need it, but I really think they are paddling pathos to profit from it. Or may be not. The point is, I can not bring myself to consume that.

Thing is, I can't help but try and help when I know that things could be better. I feel compelled. You know, how people cant control?

No, I am not a pushover. No, I don't seek acceptance. No, I don't want approval. Rather, I want to be rich and connected and all that and I don't know if it's possible without being able to tramp on others. But I do know that I cant see people that are sad. And if while negotiating someone plays the sadness card, I let go.

Coming back to the young boy at the mall. I don't know what made him that sad. But I do know that his tears have given me the inspiration to do more. To be able to reach a point where I can give away material things if those tears were induced by the want of something like that.

Over and out.

PS: If it's an emotional turmoil, I don't know how to help. May be become a guru or something.

PPS: I know it is not my problem and I don't need to help everyone. I know people don't even want help. And definitely not from me. And I know that people find a way. And I know time heals. And etc etc.

PPPS: As a kid, some 20-25 years, I saw a video of an American journalist's throat being slit. Slowly. deliberately. With patience. Without any remorse. Even though I saw it at a friend's place, on a grainy computer screen, the scene often plays in my head. And every time it does, I get fucked. As I write this, to be honest, I have this funny feeling in a pit at the back of my mind and I may just throw up. Later! Typos and formatting can wait.

The Nidhi Kapoor Story

Did you like this post? May be you want to read my first book - The Nidhi Kapoor Story.

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