#SoG42 - Personal Fitness

This is one of the emails that I send to some friends and strangers. The emails are based on one thing that I learnt in the day and how that could be applied to becoming better versions of self. If you want to get these emails, please lemme know (on twitter). 

#SoG 42 - Personal Fitness This one comes at the request of one of the readers. She says she's saturated with all the "heavy" things and needs something lighthearted. And thus, this one is aimed to be that.
Lemme start with a question.
When was the last time you threw up? And what did you do that made you throw up?
Most common answer would be, after a party. Some months ago. After all most recipients on this letter are sane!

When did I last threw up? Today morning! I dont know if I have mentioned this earlier but one of my #lifeGoals is to climb the Mt. Everest.
And then if that goes well, probably goto other peaks.
But Everest to start with. And I WILL do it before Jan 1, 2026.

This means that when I take the shot at it, I need to have about 60K USD + inflation + whatever else is required, 3 months of free time where I can make the attempt and most importantly, be in the prime of my health! Health means fitness, stamina, will power etc.

And that is what I have started to work on from this December.
I am on Keto Diet (to help get back in shape).
I ensure that I walk 8 KMs everyday.
And finally, today I started with Cardio. HIIT.
Went to a class and all that.
At 6 AM. In the morning.
Like a hipster - in Decathlon shorts (black), black Nike training shoes and a black Nike dry-fit tee.
It was so black that my bald head was reflecting the mood of the moon.
Blacker than the blackest black you've ever seen.
Thats not the point.

Point is, we started at 6.
Did some warm up and while doing do, I was sure that I will kick ass of everyone else around.
It seemed so easy.

Till we reached a point where the trainer asked us to do burpees. Now burpees is nothing too difficult. We've seen enough and more people do it on them youTube videos. No? All you do is jump, kneel down on all four and extend your legs backward. Then up get up again, jump, kneel, leg extension. In that order. Over and over again. Its that simple. Try it. Its like a cake walk. I knew I could do a 100 of those if I had to.

I was like, bring it on.

First one was great. I jumped so high I touched the clouds. Kneeling was easy-peazy. I suck at push-ups (throwing my legs back to stretch seemed like a push-up to me, so will use push-up to talk about it) but I did that one fairly easy. I was feeling good. The best day of my life! I could see the Mt. Everest.

Second was even better. I jumped and I felt like Icarus. And I think I did the push-up faster than you can say push-up. I could see myself as Farhan Akhtar doing those 100 reps. I was on my second. 98 more to go.

And on the third, I was going to launch myself out of the space with the jump. Which I think I did. And I went down to prep for the push-up. And... and, I passed out.

Well, not really. But I knew I've had enough.
I couldnt continue.
And I took the permission from the trainer and sat.
And I promise you, the gut was in my mouth and I was this ---> <---- close to throwing up.
And may be I did. I dont know if I did.
I was in that delusion-ary phase where you just want to lie on your back and gasp for air and nothing else matters.

Ladies and gents, in less than three burpees, I was dead.
People around me may have done 5. Or 50. We'd never know.

But I have not lost hope. I will prevail. It was Day 1. And I hate stasis.

Wish me luck! See you tomorrow.

Thanks,
@saurabh

Day 1 at WeWork 247 Vikhroli

Today was my Day 1 at a WeWork. Prior to this I sat out of Red Bricks Offices (RB) for almost 2 years. Here's what I noticed on my first day.

A cool place to work out of! 
As advertised, Wework is definitely cooler. Everything is premium AND international. From the decor to space to ambience to the way staff is dressed. I've been to almost all major co-working spaces in India and WeWork hands-down is THE best! And probably THE most expensive. 

Co-workers
Most people at this office are "employees" and not entrepreneurs. I am not sure how do their employers afford! That aside, I had thought that WeWork would attract entrepreneurs, solopreneurs, artists and other creative kinds. But I am not sure how many of those are here!

Also because a lot of these are employees, for them work is a way to while time while they are paid. There is no energy around. They spend more time in gossip and "chilling" compared to working. Of course I have nothing against chilling but a place where everyone is on a mission is buzzing with lot more activity! You know what am saying?

I dont want "comfortable" people around. I want the ones that are on a mission to change the world! Think Elon's of the world.

I would've loved to see more interesting people.
Or may be its me who's not interesting enough ;P 

Quality of work
As I write this, its 9 PM and I have been here since 11 AM. And for some reason I have been able to focus better than what I could at RB.

I cant say I got done a lot but I could definitely stay at a particular for a longer time.

Maybe because I dont know anyone here and thus I am not gossiping?

I think it has something to do with the way the place has been designed. From comfortable chairs to spacious desks to high ceiling, things here are designed to help you work.

Also, at this hour work is a tad better. Probably because the only ones here are the ones that actually want to get some work done! The ones that were chilling have TV serials to catch up on ;P

Oh, its tough to take phone calls at this place. People and the place is way too loud. 

Food 
If I plan to work from here, I need to plan my meals.

Since 11, I have just had processed food - coffee, coke (regular, not Diet, not Zero), biscuits, chips and all that. For one day its cool. But I cant be doing this everyday. Especially when I hope to get fitter and climb the Everest and all that.

In fact this could actually work in my favour. I could get a keto dabba and that could enable me to lose weight and get fitter! Need to think. 

Headphones
Because of the kind of people I have around here, I will have to invest into some headphones. The Airpods offer me a limited noise cancellation.


***

So yeah. This is it. More as I go along.

Good to be back to publishing here :) 

Untitled (and The Wheel of Life)

Hello, world!
Where've you been?
Well, life's been up and down last few days.
I got a new workplace.
I have started to learn new things.
I am discovering re-discovering meaning of friendship and relationships.
I am little more aware of my limits as an individual.
I am still as dreamy as I were when I was 16. For context, am 36. PS late 30s without money sucks. Please do whatever you can to make all the money while you are in your 20s. Must write a thing for people in 20s to not waste the best part of their lives on chasing frivolous things. And make them pick skills that computers cant do! 

Ok, lemme use this Wheel of Life thing that I found on the Internet, to talk about things.
It looks like...


Health
I've tried to get into Ketosis at least 5 times in last one month. But I have failed. In fact as I write this, I am at a McDonalds and I have had half a KG of vegetable oil. And deep fried potatoes. Well!

I did start jogging and meditation but that lasted exactly one day. I plan to start from tomorrow. Lets see how that goes.

But I am reasonably sharp and alert and active. I'd thus give myself a 5 on 10.


Wealth
I am doing ok. I have enough in the bank to fulfill all my commitments for a year. I would have wanted this to be at 24 months. But thats where we are.

Money is an object that allows me to do things that I want to do. Nothing more, nothing less. Right now the amount of money I have, I can do whatever I want to but there is that nagging thing at the back of my head for sure when I spend. In fact, I am running in the Eco Mode. I wrote about it in 2012 and 2013. Will write about it in today's letter. What letter? See below. 

I'd give myself a 3 on 10.


Relationships (and family) 
I am probably at the bottom of the ocean, with a rock of the size of the Mr. Everest tied to my legs with a chain made of Titanium.

After all these years I think whatever little emotions I had left (and had buried deep in my heart) for sgMS, they're gone. I dont know if its a good thing or bad. Its a thing. Like they teach you in mindfulness, I am just aware of it as a thing. No emotions attached to it.

Most friends are increasingly busier with their respective lives and things that are important to them. And I know I dont feature in any of those things. Not because they dont. But because I'd rather be writing or reading or dreaming.

Other relationships, well lesser said the better.

Also, recently, someone I know decided to call it quits and depart from the world. 
He was a colleague for almost 4 years and even after I quit the company we worked at, we decided to stay in touch. And we continued to help each other out. To me, he was one of those "magicians" that could get things done, come what may. 

I will never know why he decided to do this. He was strong, confident and had things figured out. 

I still dont know how to cope up with death. I like to ignore it and bury myself in meaningless hedonism. I try to make my life into a blur and pile on things. So as to not think about them. 

I'd give myself a 3 on 10.


Writing 
Of course I have been writing. I think the month gone by has been amongst the most productive when it comes to writing. As I write this, I have written 28K words (and I have written EACH day for last 25 odd days). And I have edited a few blogposts for friends, I have written things that I havent pushed in public domain and more.

Most of what I've written is in public domain (just that its not on this blog). I sent a email out EVERY DAY to people who have subscribed (this is what I talked about when I talked about Eco Mode above). They are archived here and should you want to get those in your email, send me your email address. I am @saurabh on twitter.

In those emails I talk about one thing that I learnt in the day. And how you could apply to your lives. And often when I dont learn a new thing, I talk about things where I need help. I sincerely think I add value to readers. Lemme know if you want in.

PS: I am substituting hobbies for writing. I would love to read, play the Uke, play pool, learn swimming and all that but I cant seem to find time after all the work and writing. May be once I get into a routine. But writing is fun. Its my catharsis. 

I'd say I am at least a 7 on 10 on this.


Work
A lot has changed at work. There are new challenges and new opportunities. That's all I'd talk about.

There is a lot of excitement (when do I not have this?) and if things pan out the way I planned those, I would get lot better on the work front. Finger's crossed.

I'd say, I am a 5 here.

Thing is, I have decided that the work I do HAS to inspire others, make an impact and of course make me rich. My ability to inspire and make an impact is constrained because of the limited influence that my company has. Once we are able to scale, I think this will sort itself out. 


Personal Space
On a personal front, I think I am challenged enough. However I am still not making the kind of impact that I would want to make. And that is not happening because I dont have a podium to talk from.

But I am reasonably sure of things and the path I am on. So, I'd give myself a 5.


Contribution.
I think I am making a difference to the lives of people around me. I try to make them better, I nudge them (even if I am rude), I invite them to challenge themselves and chase a higher calling, a higher purpose.

I'd give myself a 6 on 10.


To end this, 
So, once I do this little exercise, I came up with this edited version of the wheel.

As on Nov 2018

The idea is that over time this wheel must have more area confined in the lines than outside.
And of course all will not be stable all the time. Things will change. But idea is to work on all these aspects as I chase that elusive dream of the perfect life!

That's about it for the day. What does your wheel look like?

And finally, no, I havent disappeared. I am still around. Still writing. Just that life hasnt been kind lately and I hope to get out of this better, stronger and richer! 2018 has been among the worst years of my life. I will write about it toward the fag end of December.

Do let me know if you would want to subscribe to my daily emails.

PS: Do I sound like a whiner? Or do I sound like a dude who's got no one to share things with and thus is trying to use this blog as his audience? 

Letter 8 / 3 Nov 2018. On Cricket.

This is an edited version of a letter than I sent to a closed mailing list. I try to write one everyday to a select set of people. Should you want to get one in your mailbox, please do let me know. The first letter is here. A complete archive is here.
So, I played cricket today. Properly. Bowled, batted and all that. Must have played after a year. And back then, about a year ago, when I played, I would've played after decades. With a S. More than one. Serious.

Here are the things that I take away from the experience. Lol. Experience :)

A. I enjoy physical activity. I love to move around.
And contrary to what people close to me believe, I am not inherently lazy - its the heat that has made me lazy. And I hate wearing shoes or too many clothes. If I could live in a cold country, I promise I would dress up well and even wear shoes. And I would love to move around.

B. My game sucks.
Of course there are no surprises. If it dint suck, I wouldnt be here. Writing about the experience. But today, it sucked so bad that I am embarrassed. Well, I have never been a batsman but I used to be a pretty handy bowler. And I was a brilliant fielder if nothing else. While I bowled ok today, and batted as expected, I was probably the worst fielder that I have ever been. There was no hand-eye coordination, something that I have been proud of all my life. I MUST improve. And no, I cant really "practise" but I need to get better. May be if I get regular things will improve?

C. My fitness sucks more than I suck at the game.
If I dont get regular and dont improve, I guess it will be ok. I am anyway way past my prime and I cant even imagine playing at the highest levels. But the game today made me realise how unfit I am. And at all levels. Thankfully I wasnt really panting (maybe I dint run too much?) but I couldve run faster, been more agile, fielded better! And after the game, each part of the body was hurting. And hurting as in HURTing. If I had a "functional" home, I would have sprayed myself all over with some painkiller or something. I even wished I had a masseuse to ease the pain. And although its past 11 (and thus about 12 hours since the game ended), my ankles, tendons, calves, knees and the back still hurt like crazy. Well, the Achilles tendon and the knee's been giving me problems for some time but the calf and the back is new. Side note. When I wear the Nike sneakers, the pain is little bearable. I need to wear them more often, once the weather becomes bearable.

In fact, here's a lesson. Things that connect you to the ground (Earth), you MUST not compromise and invest into getting the best possible alternative.

A few things that "connect" you to the ground are mattress (and the bed), shoes, chairs, footwear etc.

I dont recall where I read this first but more I think about this, more sense it makes. Its cool if you want to buy a cheap phone, shabbily made dress etc. But your feet take the most of the grunt in the day. You better have great shoes. And no, not fancy or goodlooking ones. But functional ones. And the only two brands that I recommend are Nike and Crocs. Ditto for mattress. And chair. Think about it. Use logic.

D. I love my mornings! I may claim to love nights but I love my mornings even more. To the point that the day my mornings dont go as per plan, the entire day is wasted. Take today for example. In my scheme of things, mornings are not meant for exercise et al. But then a game like Cricket requires a team and for most others, morning is where fitness takes priority!

Coming back. The days I cant get up early and step out of the house and get some things done, I feel terrible and the entire day gets "wasted". I mean today, all I have done is write for a bit, worked on SoG for a bit and agonised in the pain inflicted by the minuscule amount of cricket that I played!

If I were to club A, B and D, I need to probably find a sport that makes me move around and can be played at afternoons. Or late evenings.

And you could try and understand if you are a morning person or a night person. How do you find out? Not through what you love. But as Charlie says, invert! Question to ask yourself is, "fucking what part of the day affects you the most?" For me, its the morning! You?

E. Sports bonds people like nothing else.
The people I played with, they were probably aged between 20 and 45. And from different backgrounds, interest areas, personalities, varying degree of proficiency and all that. But while playing, most of them had the single-minded focus of the game. And they could do whatever for their team to win. They dint think about their differences and they came together to focus on the game!

Can I take lessons and use sports as as tool to make my team at C4E and all other initiatives more tight-knit?

I have seen team-building games in action at most of the events that I have worked on as an event manager but most clients do it as mere lip-service. They do it once a year and hope for miracles. Can I use create an ongoing intervention that makes my team come closer? Need to think.

And, having said that, I know that sports can also create great divides. I saw it happen today. And we all know about "enmity" between fans of competing teams! So, need to put some thought!

So yeah, thats about it for the day.

Over and out.

The Stories from Mumbai

This idea has been swirling at the back of my head for some months now. I finally found time to write it down! Here it is! 

Background
On a recent trip to Helsinki (in Aug 18), I saw this book - People Make The City. On their website, they say its a book "full of stories from the capital’s creative makers and doers. An insiders’ guide for experiencing the local way of life."

And then, on another recent trip to Amsterdam (Oct 18), I saw a similar book. I cant recall the name right now but the idea was same. A collection of stories, ideas, thoughts, photos, places etc that a local at Amsterdam would want to share with other locals.

Both these books were fascinating and had stories that I could never find on a tripadvisor or a Lonely Planet! 

And it got me thinking, that we need a similar book for various cities in India. If not all the cities, then for Mumbai, Goa, Bangalore, Jaipur, Agra and Delhi for sure. Thats where most travellers and tourists land up. And the book would do well as a guide, as a companion, as a souvenir, heck as a collection of postcards! 

The idea
So, what if we compile and curate a collection of stories from the city of Mumbai (to start with) and make those available in shape of a book? 

If not anything else, the book will be a conversation starter. 
The book will showcase our city, in a way the city has to be experienced. 
The book is an opportunity to connect with the locals.
The book is a great piece or art to have in your home!
Its a great gift to someone new.
Its the perfect take-away for people new to the city.
In one line, the book will help build a community! 

How is it different from those hundreds of blogs, websites, books and magazines? 
It is not. Those blogs probably do a better job! 

The book is not meant to make commercial sense. I dont want to make money with it. 

This is a book that I wish to do because I want to experience the cities like the locals. I want to walk down the Marine Drive with one of the locals and listen to her stories of the city. I want to sit at an Irani Cafe and hear the owner reminisce about a time that is gone. I want to be at Shivaji Park and see those hundreds of kids hoping to score hundreds of runs for India. I want to live the life of the hustlers of Versova and experience the agony and the anguish and the ecstasy that they go through as they find their way in Bollywood and someday inspire the very same emotions in their audience. And more. So many more!

In one line, this book is for me! 
I want to listen to the stories. 
And I want to share these stories with whoever wishes to listen.

That's it! 
Nothing more. 
Nothing less. 

Oh, and no. I dont intend to make money with this. If there are any monetary gains, I pledge to donate those to institutions that work towards making the city a better place. 

Ok. How would you go about it? 
For starters, I need access to following "types" of people... 

A. People who'd want to tell stories of their love for the city.
Because without the stories, there is nothing. 

B. People who can enable the book (writers, designers, photographers, printers etc). 
Because once I have the stories, I need to bind them into a book! 

C. People who may want to read this book. 
But since I am assuming that I am the only reader! So this is sorted :) 

I know its a tough one. Who would want to write for no expectation of any money? Heck, I dont want to engage anyone if I cant pay them. After all the book is being written for me! And with the kind of money I have, how do I enable this? I dont know. But I will find a way. 

What all stories do I want to include?
For the time being, for the Mumbai edition, I am looking for people that love the city of Mumbai. And like the cliche goes, the city must run in their blood. Simple. 

The stories must inspire me. 
The stories must make me jealous of their relationship with the city! 
They may or may not live here. 
They may or may not have a story with a twisted arc. 
They just need to have a perspective that is worth spending time on.

In fact as I write this, I can think of a few people that fit the bill. 

There is this lady on twitter. The posts that she makes about the city of Mumbai, I want to somehow become friends with her and implore her to tell me of what goes into her head when she's taking those pics or writing those words. 

There is this person I know who was head of marketing with one of the leading companies in the country and then he quit to start a walking-tours company in Mumbai. 

And then there is this junior from college who runs a chain of hostels in Mumbai and Jodhpur! 

Apart from these three, I am sure I can get access to scores of people who'd have unique stories to share, unique experiences that a traveller ought to seep in! I just need to find them and get them to help me. 

Help me showcase the great city of Mumbai to the ones that are new! Please! 

Finally,
What do you think of the idea? 
Would you want to read a book like this? 
Who all do you think I should approach to work on this book? 
How can the book be designed? 
What structure could I give to the book? 
What could the book be called? I suck at naming things! 

Or, is the idea shitty and have been done to death? 
I need to get a life? 

Whatever. But please do tell me. Comments are open. And I am at Saurabh.

Thank You! 

Letter 01 - 27 Oct 2018. Hello World!

So this yesterday morning, I saw a tweet about someone (a group of people actually) that sends regular emails to their subscribers and one of the recipients of the emails had sent that tweet. That appreciation tweet said something like "you do a great job", "its become a daily habit to open the email", "we become better when we read your emails".

And like most times when I see a good idea, I tend to copy that? I HAD to copy this one as well! To me this looked like an opportunity to write everyday and improve. 

So, I hereby promise that I will write one letter everyday. Here is the one for day. 

Dear whoever is reading this, 
So yesterday, I made a promise to myself that I will write a letter everyday to whoever may want to read it. Just that there is no agenda or nothing specific that I want to talk about in these daily letters. Just that I like it when I write, I get that peace of mind. Writing is my catharsis. It gives me some relief from the largely dreary and dreamy life that I lead. And more importantly, most times I write, it teaches me new things. For example, I did not even know the meaning of catharsis till the word automatically wrote itself and I had to look up for the meaning. Yes. It wrote itself. Its funny how subconscious mind works. More on this in one of the subsequent letters. For the time being, getting back to the letter.

Thank you for agreeing to receive these letters. For "creators" like me, its the patrons like you that keep us going. If not for you, who would I write for? I may argue that writing doesnt have to serve any other purpose than the writing itself. But then, I am human. And I need validation. And I need some sort of gratification (even if its in my head that someone out there is consuming what I create).

Also, writing allows me to connect with people. Both known or unknown. In fact thats the mix of recipients on this email. Out of four people that I am sending this to, 3 are friends and one is a stranger. I am hoping as I get regular with these, I will get to know more unknowns. And the knowns will know me better. So, in one word, I get to grow my tribe!

The other thing about writing is that it gives me the illusion that I am creating something. And to me, creating is THE thing that I want to stand for. Right now. In the past, I have stood for ambition, material wealth, fame and or impact. Right now, I want to stand for creation. When I say I stand for something, I mean that each of my action is guided by creating. I want to create. I want to support other creators. I want to live in the company of creators. I want to have the creator's mindset. Even if its crap, I want to create. In fact, if I can help you create something, please do let me know. And even though I advocate marketing, I know when to be discreet. Whatever we discuss stays with me.

I also want to use these letters as a mechanism to seek feedback on various things that I create. I will share things here before I share elsewhere and seek your inputs. Feedback. Whatever.

These letters will also be like a scratchpad to talk about things that clutter my head. These could be ideas that I am working on, thoughts that are making my head go into a spin, issues that affect me, the revolution that I want to bring about and so on and so forth.

If you think about it, these things are actually the things that you write about on your blog. But there is tiny difference. On a blog, once you publish something, the onus is the recipient's to open the browser, read and feed you back. Thats a million steps of friction. On the letter, however, its a thing that is in your mailbox. Its a thing that is screaming for your attention. Its a thing that you feel compelled to act on. I know some people who have the OCD of opening every email that comes their way. A letter thus ensures that I get access to others. So letters are indeed better :)

Finally, this allows me to get into a new habit that two dear friends (Krishna - https://twitter.com/cunfusia and Harshit - harshitsaran.wordpress.com) have been trying to hard to put me into. Lets see if I can keep the habit going and redeem the efforts of Krishna and Harshit.

Thats about it for day 1. As I end this, I have a favour to seek. Two actually.
A, Please do tell me what could I write about tomorrow.
B, And if you had to forward this email to EXACTLY three people, who would those people be? In fact forward it to them. Ask them to "subscribe" to my letters by sending me an email?

Finally, the day you wish to stop getting these, please do tell me and I would unsubscribe you and remove you from the list.

Till the next one,

Thanks,
@saurabh

PS: I know that this letter does not really add value to anyone right now. This is more of a rant of an old man. But with time, I will figure out the magic formula that will ensure that its worth the time!

Oh, if you want to get these on email, please send me your email address. And yes, your privacy is as important to me as mine is. I promise to not share your interest, details etc with anyone else.

Thank you!

The Sleeping On Streets Story (in Title Case)

Of course you know that I am homeless. Will be till the 20th. And while it's an amazing feeling to have and I loved the idea of it when I was staring at the homelessness, now that I am living through it, it sucks.

Like S. U. C. K. S.

Really.

I know this is not how I imagined homelessness to be. I had high hopes from the experience. Heck, I even romanticized it a few days ago (on this blogpost). And the romance was gorgeous af (need to up my vocabulary. To do that, need to read more. To do that, need to make more time. To do that... wait. Get back to writing).

But now that I am actually homeless, like I said, it sucks.

No I cant do anything that could change and get me a roof. I will have to slog it out for three more days.

But what I can do, is reflect on how and why this happened. And talk about the mistakes that I've made! And list all those other thoughts that are clouding my head. So, here's a list.

A. I fucked up. 
At so many levels that I am questioning all those things (books, blogs, podcasts) that I consumed around decision making. I shouldve been wiser and shouldve taken a better decision. I mean I could have avoided this situation so easy that if someone else took the decision that I took, I would've castrated them!

I had a thousand options to choose from and I took the worst of them all.
The future landlord did offer me an alternate accommodation.
Dipanker suggested that I move to Delhi (and thus get some work done while am homeless).
Vivek gave me unrestricted access to his house, his car.
Ankit stuck with while I was on the road.

I had a thousand options. What did I choose? The American Dream!

B. Faith got reiterated in the fact that I am destiny's child. 
When this entire house-hunting was happening, I needed some working capital to pay for the move. I could've taken it out from work but I did not want to touch the money that is meant for the business. And this is when Universe stepped in.

I got some unexpected work from a client that I hadnt spoken to in a while (that I think is Universe's way of paying me when I am in need) and while it was a small ticket project, I made enough money to pay for the move, the fuel (since I lived in the car for a few days), the hotel (because I cant live at shady places) and all the coffee that I have consumed (because I am working from the likes of Starbucks et al).

C. Empathy for the ones that dont have a place 
This entire concept of not having a roof on my head was alien to me.

Since I can remember I had a decent enough place to live at. As I grew up and grew in life, my wants have grown and thankfully I have been able to grow my resources resources  available to me have grown to be able to afford the wants (well, almost. I have always been short by about 50%). So I dont know how it feels to not have a bed to go back to.

But what about the ones that don't have a house, a roof?

I routinely see people sleeping on the streets. So many of those, at almost all cities in India that I have grown a blind spot to cover the homeless. I've dismissed their existence and justifying their misery by telling myself that if anyone is poor in this day and age, it is because of their respective shortcomings. The world is rife with opportunities and while you may not be able to make a billions dollars, you can make enough to have a decent place!

I think this needs to change. My thinking I mean. I need to have a little more empathy for people who are on the streets. No one wants to be on the streets.

I need to find ways to get them to rise. Get them gainful, meaningful and respectable employment. That gives them enough to have a bed to sleep on and a roof to give them shelter.

And how would I do it?
I dont know.
But I do know I have to work on this. Maybe if I can sort the education piece, I would have found a solution to a lot of other issues. Including homelessness. Lets see.

In the end,  
Finally, as I edit this, I realise that while I may not feel too good about who I am living right now, I have a lot going on for me.

I know that what keeps me occupied and busy and all that (house hunting, operational shite and all that) is far far apart from what my ambition, #lifeGoal is (make the world a better place by inspiring others and give them the shoulder that they need), I do have a lot. For example, I have enough (friends, money, capability et al - in that order) that despite not having a home, a house, I have slept well.

So yeah, thank you, Universe. I hope that the sunshine stay on me. Just that I need to make better decisions.

Till then, over and out.

You're not alone.


So, last few days have been disturbing (to say the least). Hundreds of women have came forward with their stories of how they were, have been and continue to get troubled harassed at their work places, homes, schools and other places by men both known and unknown to them. And before this "wave" of coming out, these troubled women did not talk about the gross injustice served to them. Because of reasons ranging from fear of retaliation to social stigma to plain old un-awareness! Worse no one around them (including colleagues, families or friends) told them to speak up!

I know this sounds like a very bleak description of the world we live in.

And you know what? Its fucking true.

The world sucks and we need to do a lot of work before it becomes inhabitable again. I mean there are people trying to give us a plan B and there are people trying to inspire us to do better by their thoughts, words and actions. And then there are people that just get perverse pleasure from objectifying fellow humans. These people misuse abuse their power, their position so blatantly and so much that they leave permanent scars.

And to what end? For what? For that momentary rush of chemicals in their heads?

The ones that are uneducated, I understand. They give into their evolutionary instincts and do things that you ought not. I can excuse them. Probably counsel them and give them better values so that they dont repeat.

But the ones that are more evolved, "educated", the ones that create (creative folks, musicians, writers, directors and all that), I refuse to understand what makes them the predators that they've been?

To make things worse, on the long list of offenders are acquaintances, friends, gurus and mentors. And people that I look upto, people that I aspire to become, strangers that I wanted to be friends with and so on and so forth. There are people who I've dined with. There are people that I have invited home and have put them in the same room as my family. There are business partners and I have trusted my fortunes to them.

And all these people, "my" people are interesting and amazing and cool and inspiring and all that. I would often mimic them. I would do whatever it takes to be them. I would chase them to meet me and give me darshan and I hoped like hell that I get to work with them. These were as Jack Kerouac say, the mad ones that I would chase and want to be friends with and all that.

I would be lying if I said I did not know that they liked attention and they indulged in various sins. I may have had an inkling that they are predators but I did not question them. Or question their intents. Or anything of that sort.

I am guilty of adulating them for the work they do and the talent they have and not questioning their personality, their values. I've always had the thing for geniuses even if they dont necessarily follow the best methods. You know those high-performing assholes? Or maybe you'd know of that "good job" scene from Whiplash? I need to get away from them! Reminds me of what Gary V often says - he would make the most impact and he would be nicest about it! 

Coming back, like good Samaritans, most people that that have been named have tendered "unconditional apologies" and have agreed to face whatever consequences that world has to throw at them. But then would an apology heal the stigma that these people had to live with for so long? How can you objectify someone and then say sorry? Can I chop off your arm and then say sorry? And, are you even sorry in your head? Will you not make the mistake again?

I wanted to chat up with these people. I asked the ones that I know. I confronted them. The ones that I cared for. One of them accepted his mistakes and has agreed to fix things. The other was unapologetic about it, without any remorse or guilt and said he dint care and was ok with whatever is happening. I mean how the fuck are you ok?

Fuck am seething with anger and I have no words. I hate this.

For someone who claims to be an author, I am at loss of words. I mean I dont even know what to write and how to write. This has taken me more than 3 5 days to compile, process and put on paper. There is so much that I want to say and do. May be this is the reason I havent slept well in the last few days. Ok, may be not. I am not sure.

No I was not unaware of the misuse of power by men in position. I could see it happening around me and I ignored it conveniently. I think I was in the zone that it doesnt affect me and thus it doesnt concern me. And I know that I couldnt probably stop it from happening, I couldve pointed out. If nothing else it would probably have lent support! But I did not. And I am so sorry. Really am. Damn I dont even know who I am apologising to. And what good would this apology do?

May be I need to apologise to those around me, that I care for, that are getting affected? Case in point? This young girl that works with me, day before few days ago I was dinnering with her and she told me how she was molested by her neighbour when she was 9. Back then she couldnt do anything, she was after all a kid and did not know what was happening to her. But when recently when one of her friends tried to force himself on her, she chose to not speak up. Why? Because she was in a group and she did not want to create a scene!

I mean really? Not create a scene? Why not? Is your safety more important than societal pressure?

Oh and this one is one of the bravest women I know! If this one couldnt speak up, I am sure that all the ones that are not as strong as her would never come out and like meek sheep let the perps do whatever they want to!

I am glad that this is happening. Men are being outed. Women are getting the strength that they should've had to start with. I know that centuries of patriarchy and the society we live in has made it tough impossible for them to be bold. I am glad its changing. I think to give strength to these women, a thing like #metoo was required.

This is probably how the flood gates opened up after that one expose - it gave courage to other women who did not speak up all this while.

Thank you to everyone for standing up and reporting. Really.

I am wondering if I had spoken up when I saw injustice happening, raised my voice against it and encouraged all my colleagues, friends and acquaintances to voice their opinions, may be the world would be a tad better place to live in. At least this junior of mine would've spoken out when she was in the spot!

May be she would've. May be she wouldn't have. I dont know.

But I cant merely walk away from the fact that I feel responsible for this. And I dont know how to help. Myself. And others.

In fact since the first icon fell, I have been reflecting on my behaviour as a man.

I asked myself if I have acted in a way, behaved in way that I wouldn't want others to behave with my sister, my girlfriend, my family. I reflected on what I speak, how I speak, who do I speak to. I thought about my pet jokes and ongoing conversations with women and I tried to evaluate if I were out of line at any point in time. I even asked a couple of women that I could confide in. I spoke to them -- one at my workplace and one person that I work with on a project -- and thankfully both of them ratified that what I do is well within boundaries.

Having said that, if you are reading this and if my behaviour has made you uncomfortable, EVER, please know that it was inadvertent and I did not mean to hurt you or put you on a spot. I'd never hurt anyone. I'd never do that. But if I have, PLEASE PLEASE DO POINT OUT THE INCIDENT TO ME (or to the world if you have to) SO THAT I MAY FIX IT GOING FORWARD. 

And while I was thinking about my past, it dawned onto me that I do enjoy the company of women and I love to flirt. Which is not a bad thing to be honest. But I also crack jokes that could be are insensitive and offensive. I need to fix this. And I will.

Plus I am often intrusive and take more than required interest in lives of others (men, women, friends, strangers et al). In fact this has been my hiring "tool" for the longest time (I want to work with people who dont want a salary but want to do make that dent). While the line of questioning is often tough, from what I know of myself, I have always been mindful of not hurting anyone! I am not sure that is this is something that I will change. If I am going to work with you, you better tell me of your deepest desires and greatest fears. And I WILL push you to become a better version of yourself. I WILL give you unsolicited advice. Even if I am a stranger. I am wired like that. And I will not change.

Oh, and this has also led to another rule that I will follow. It is as simple as, "if in doubt, dont". So next time, while talking to anyone, if I think that the conversation would be unpleasant and harmful, I'd not get into it.

Also, I know I am not very vocal about my stand on various societal issues but this time on, I am going to take sides and take stands and get vocal. If it means investing time and energy and effort to learn more about the issue at hand.

PS: More than standing for women's safety or equality, I am most pained when I see that we still lack education and commonsense. I want to work on that! 

In the end, I have made a list of a few immediate action points. Here.

1. I will not work with anyone who is a known offender.
Even if it means letting go of great opportunities. I know that there are times when I have to overlook things (clients demand that we work with a certain vendor, supplier, companies etc). Not anymore. I will put the foot down and ensure that I do not work with known offenders.

While the world is a large large place and its often tough to vet out everyone that you can work with, I will try to work with people that have solid character!

2. I will support whoever wants any help. Personally and professionally.
I am not a trained counsellor but I do understand human emotions and actions and motivations. I would love to talk if you need to talk to someone. I am on saurabh.garg AT gmail.com.

Plus I am happy to pass on some work that may help you get away from a place where you are troubled.

3. At C4E, I will ensure that I put in place a zero tolerance policy towards misconduct towards women. In fact I will ensure that women lead this piece. More on this in subsequent posts. Here and on our work blog.

Thats about it.

I guess.

Nothing has left me as confused and as sorry about the state of affairs as expose of friends and mentors. I mean I have been jobless, homeless, directionless and a lot-of-things-less. And I have seen people die and things break and all that but nothing has affected me as much as this. One of my closest friend often calls me a stone cold brick of ice. And I thought I was. I also called high-functioning sociopath by a friend. And I was proud of it - after all the other high-functioning sociopath is Sherlock the Holmes!

But then I guess I am not. Things do affect me. Things do take a toll. Things need fixing. At least in my head to start with. And then in the world that we live in.

Bas. Enough of rant.

Over and out.

Oh, and I am sorry. Sincerely am.

Saurabh Garg
17 Oct 2018

In the end, as always, a few postscripts.

A. I wish I could do a lot more for the ones that are affected. But I am sincerely out of ideas and am exhausted by seeing what women have been through. I hate that I am an armchair activist. I hate that I am spineless and I cant do shit about it. I hate that I cant stand for anyone. I cant even offer them jobs or anything concrete that could help them get away from the misery. All I can do is cringe and crib and publish a fucking blog!

B. This incident has made me re-look at myself and my personality. So much so that I will probably have to bring in big changes in my life. I am not prepared for those to be honest but I will put in the effort. 

However it would be sad if I end up becoming this cynical individual that puts up these walls around himself. It took me years to break the other walls that I had put myself and I dont know if I want to put more. If you know me, you would know of these walls. 

C. All this anger and listlessness could also be fuelled by the fact that I dont have a house to live in and I am tired (yes I am tired) of living at different places on different nights. Not because its exhausting - I love the feeling of not having a base. But because I cant afford to stay at places that are clean and are accessible and all that. More on this later.

The American Dream. In a Japanese Car.

So, as I write this, I am living the American dream. As American as they come. The dreams I mean.

I am as free. Free like a free man at the start... shut up, Mr. Garg.

Thing is, I have no place to go back home to. I am in a car and I am living literally in it. And to make matters more American, the car is borrowed. Beat that fellas!

I had to vacate the house I lived in (for the last two years) and the place that I am supposed to move in is not mine yet. And wont be. For the next 15 odd days. And thus, all that I owned (for all the claims that I make about living an austere and minimalist life, it was 25 boxes) has been sent to storage. Barring one laptop bag, one overnighter (that has one pair of denims, a couple of shorts, three shirts and as many tees) and one vanity kit (yes I do have one). These three things allow me to live on the road for about a month.

This would be, I think, the 7th time I am changing the house in Mumbai in the last 4-5 years since I've been here (Ashok to Zara to Zinnia to Peter to Wadhwa). 6th.

Funny thing is that this was the first time I was even remotely emotional about leaving a place behind. I am actually sad about leaving it behind.

I am not sure what made me so attached to the place.
Was it the fact that this was the first time when I was living by myself?
Or was it the view from the balcony? You know those expansive shots of Godrej and beyond? Wait. Balcony!!!
Or may it was because I was living next to Myra?

I dont know. But what I do know is that I miss the house. And I will miss it for a few days. Unless the next one is so grand and so amazing that I forget this one. Which I know is probably not going to be the case - the new one is smaller and there is no balcony to stand in and stare in the infinity.

I have no clue why builders in Mumbai dont do balconies. And I dont know why people in Mumbai dont ask for one and settle for less! Probably because space is at so much premium that people get stuck in whatever is offered to them? We'd never know.

But then, like everyone, I want to claim that I am different. I want to demand it all. Even if I am unreasonable. Here's what most people ought to do when they look for a house in Mumbai. For the ease of reading, am breaking this into a 101.

Step 1.
You look at your pocket. Understand the budget.  
Step 2.
Then you try to look at the kind of space you need.  
Step 3.
Then you do that math. What part of Mumbai will offer me the kind of space I want for the amount of money I have.  
Oh, I missed the most important component. Where do you want to live. I know of people who have decided to not set a foot out of Bandra. There are some that do not cross Mahim. There are some who are ok living in the jungles of Kandivali or Bhandup for the kind of space their budget allows them to. Then there are people like me. Who want the best of everything. Large space. Balcony. Proximity to a Starbucks. Accessibility to various hubs - cultural (Bandra), writing (Andheri), startups (Powai) et al.  
So, step 4.
You put all the variables together. Find a place that gives you all the things you need. You want. And then you tell everyone you know or dont know that you want a place.  
Step 5.
Go pray at whoever God you have your faith in. I mean this is that stage where you need Dua more than you need Dawa.  
Step 6.
You prepare for all the gut-wrenching questions that people would ask you. Did you read my last post
Step 7.
When you do get humiliated enough and find a house, you grab it both your hands. Even if the house will be made available to you after a month! And if its getting available in a few days, ensure you have a car! 

So after these 7 steps, in all probability you would have a house. If you dont, fuck the golden opportunity that you are sitting on, ignore that and go back to your gaon. I would've done that if I dint get a house. I was thiiiis close to doing that. No shit, bro. I was. Just then I got the place and the only compromise seemed to be getting the possession after 15-odd days. And I snapped it up! And that's how I landed in the middle of the American Dream!

I'd talk more but I have an important thing to do. Find a place to crash for the night!

Till next time, over and out.

Update - 02 Oct 2018

As I write this, I haven't written in a while. More than a month. Or if Vivek is to be believed, I've made just one post in last two months. I don't know what’s worse - nothing in a month or just one in two months. Whatever is. The worst of them has to be the fact that I haven't been writing. Not here, not on my echochamber, not emails and no updates for sure.

I can hide behind a veil and put blame on a million things but of course while I haven't been writing, I’ve shat, ate, slept and did all those other important and not-so-important chores. The only thing I didn't do was write!

Despite promises (to self) and assurances (to friends like Krishna), despite knowing that writing give my rooh the much needed sukoon, I did not write. I could not. The words wont flow! And I do not know how to go about getting that flow, to well, flow!

Let me try to change it. Today. This post will be a 1000 words, if not more. And now that I think about it, I will need more than that. After all a lot has happened and lot has to be told (to whoever is listening and to those 30 unknown people that come over to this blog on a daily basis).

So here goes. In neat silos.

House hunt.
This has been clouding my head for the last 15 days. In fact come to think of it, since July of this year, something or the other has made me a slave. First it was work, for almost a month. Then it was another 15 days of work. Then it was the birthday blues. And now its the house!

So, the place I live at? Where I take those gorgeous pictures from? That is no longer mine to stay at. The lease is expiring on the 5th and I need to find a place to live. So, while I have the intent and the ability to pay for an alternate place, I cant seem to find a place that gives me access to the kind of life I want. And you know the funny thing? I don't want much. Just a little bit of space, a clean house, a nice building and some fresh air. In a city like Mumbai, all this is IMPOSSIBLE to get.

Unless you are an Ambani.
You want fresh air? You can make a house that rises up higher than the highest airplane!
You want space? Go vertical!

The process you undergo to find a house in Mumbai inflicts so many wounds on you that the suffering makes you a philosopher. And these wounds and not just physical - those are easy to heal. These ones are slashes on you conscience, on your heart and brain. Even the damned time cant fill in the gaping voids left by the attacks. I mean when was the last time your life was scrutinized by strangers? How much money do you make? What do you do? Are you a vegetarian? Do you party a lot? And these are the easy ones to answer. There are others that I don't even want to write about!

And no, I am not a privacy fanatic but the way you ask these questions and the intent with which you ask these is what makes the experience, well, painful!

You need to get past the needless scrutiny from strangers, hoping that they’d like your “profile” and would “allow” you to live at their house. In an ideal world, this would be a fair and equal transaction - both parties would respect each other and all that. However, the landlord in India, has an upper hand. Someone has to fix this. Someone has to change. Some startup needs to disrupt this. Lets see if I get around to working on this. Rant for another day. The fact of the matter remains that I don't have a house to live in.

Anyhow... the bright side? You save the time and energy and effort you need to go for a digital detox. Or for a a meditation camp. These questions make you question your very existence. You start thinking about the decisions you've made in life. Your entire life flashes in front of your eyes. You realize that you've made the worst decision of your life by not "investing" in a house when you could. You chased experiences and independence and a life of poverty while you could have slaved worked for a large company and by this time, have enjoyed the perks that come along with a stable naukri. So if your boss is an asshole that makes your life tough? Clients that we work for are the same. Unreasonable. Make life tough. Hard. Demanding. After you go from pillar to post in this country, to look for a house, you realize that your life's been a damning lie! Everything you did, stood for, dreamt of has no meaning or bearing if you haven't made it. You know, have enough to have bought a house of your own.

If you are in your 20s and are reading this, unless your parents have 3 houses in a 3 different cities please do NOT chase your muse. Work hard, get that house, even if it binds you to an EMI. It's ok. You would not have to strip your soul in front of strangers.

Moving on.

36
I am now 36.

That means I am half past the average life span for a healthy adult in India. That means half of my life is over.

And what did I achieve in these 36 years? Nothing. Nada. While I’ve been meaning to do a million things, nothing has moved and there is this gnawing feeling in my gut that keeps me up at night.

I really wish this year takes me closer to where I want to be. And where is that? Amongst the stars! Well, I will be there someday but for the time being, metaphorically. If you are the kinds to trust in God and have a tad of faith, please do pray for me. I can really do with some help!

And yeah I stopped at it abruptly. I don't mean to rant. Or belittle myself. 

C4E
A lot is up at work. Like I said in my previous month's newsletter, there have been hits and misses and there have been highs and lows.

But I guess that's how work will be. Most days you move towards a goal post. You will have those bad days when nothing would happen for you or those one-off days when you actually move backward. But that's alright.

So, the good (AND the bad news) from work is that I need to work harder than I've ever worked in my entire life. And this is that one shot that could give me what I seek - enough "achievements" that stop that thing that is eating me from inside. And enough money that allows me to not go stripping in front of prospective landlords!

Thing with work is that am a tad more emotional about it than the average “worker”. Which is a good thing most days - it makes me do far more than what I would otherwise do. And bad on some days - there are days when am so restless that I cant sleep.

Of course, the number 1 priority remains getting more work. If you know someone wanting to engage an events agency, please point them to me.

Other “work” projects
Apart from C4E, I have a few more projects that occupy me. Lemme talk about those.

onWriting. Well, its sputtering along. Not at the speed with which I would it to go. No, I am not happy about it. It had to be a well-oiled machine cracking at speed that no one else has seen. Need to be faster on it.

TheRedSparrow. Again, sputtering. And the tough part is that we operate in a category that demands content and yet are sputtering. Different reason that onW for the lack in speed but a reason nonetheless. So, need to up the ante!

Podium. Has been dead for over 6 months now. What do I say about it...

And then there are a few other projects that I better not talk about. They are as disappointing as any other.

To summarise, nothing seems to be moving. And from where I see things, I can have the following options.
A. Quit everything. Work on my book.
B. Listen to what every damn person I know has been telling me. Focus on one thing and make it large. So, that one thing that becomes large gives me the cash flow that I can use to hire talent and run the other things? And if I were to indeed focus, which one? onW? TRS? Podium? Or the latest idea to have hit me (the real estate one). 
C. Get a naukri, make those easy million and then retire at Panchgani, in a house next to Vivek's.
D. These are the options (above) that I see. Do you see any more?

Writing
Well, you know where’s writing. Apart from not working on this blog, a couple of things that I am (not) working on are a, the next book (which should've happened in 2015) and b, a non-fiction on lesson's I've learnt! Both are stalled. Both need action.

Oh, and I put Podium under the broad bucket of writing. And that again needs some bit of effort. Lot actually. Not some. 

Sad state.

Health
The bucket is health. Last few days have been really terrible. Since the Delhi trip actually (which is almost three weeks now). I was home and my mum showered all her love in form of paranthas and all that. And for some reason, despite knowing that I ought to eat healthy, I could not say no to her while I was there. And I am back to being the fat, old man that I was before Keto made me a tad fitter.

Oh, I started on Keto yesterday and I plan to do a 15-day cycle at the very least. Lets see where it takes me. Been 2 days and so far so good! I just need to augment this with IF and a bit of workout. I will probably start running. I am, after all, supposed to run with Daksh at the next Delhi marathon. Lets see if I run. Or walk.

Other things
Good things first. Since I moved on from the previous structure at C4E, I have become a tad more social! So, been meeting a lot more people than I was previously. And while it is definitely helpful, I need to now start leveraging this.

I also need to listen to Vivek and get more social. Now on. Starting tonight. Anyone up for a coffee / drinks / dinner at Powai?

In the end
So yeah. I wrote after a while. There’s nothing interesting to an outsider. Mundane life and mundane updates. But then, thats what life is. No? A series of mundane updates!

PS: Thanks Vivek and Krishna.

The Nidhi Kapoor Story

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

Check it out on Amazon or Flipkart?