Perils of Plastic

Ever since I got a Credit Card (which took considerable effort to acquire despite my fancy MBA degree and long illustrious career), my relationship with money has changed.

Let me dive into history. Please indulge me.

There was a time not too long in past when every rupee I spent, I took from my ma. Even though I was gainfully employed, I liked asking her for money. I'd withdraw a chunk of cash and give her and then I'd ask her for money as and when I needed to spend. I loved it. And I think she liked it as well that I asked her for money. After all when I was still a student, she was the one who handed me my pocket money that was so so dear to me. Every rupee that I got from her was precious. It was hard earned and everytime I spent it, I could see the balance with me dwindling. I had to make tons of sacrifices to be able to ensure that the money I got from her lasted me some time before I spread my palms in front of her.

Now, that I am jobless and away from home (home is where ma and pa are, and some day #sgMS would be), I dont really keep a lot of cash handy. There is no incentive to make those trips to the ATM. There is no one to give money to. As a result I rely more and more on plastic money. My credit card. The one that took effort to acquire. Add on top of it the ubiquity and ease of swiping machines, even with courier companies. Everytime I spent more than a 100 bucks, I would use the card. Suddenly from the actual quantum of money going from my pocket, I was now merely swiping a plastic card through a machine and the transaction would happen. Gone was the need to run to ma or ATM. Convenience, I tell you.

And, and, ever since the proliferation of things like flipkart, cleartrip and amazon, I have this new shiny instrument. Online banking. Where I dont even touch plastic or coins or notes. Its amazing. All I do is enter a number and the transaction is done. Its fast, smooth and intuitive. In my sleep I can rattle the card numbers, security keys and passwords. And I can use it for large transactions. And unlike physical currency that went from my pocket or a mechanical swipe of the plastic, everything happens without a physical interface. What else could you ask for in life! The future of payments could be that I walk to a Starbucks counter, point at the coffee I want and just nod at the cash register. Money would automatically deduce from my profile that Starbucks has that is linked to the movement of my retina (indicating a yes for expense) enabled by a NFC between a kiosk at Starbucks and my phone.

Funny how fast this world of payments and transactions is changing!

So, to summarize, from spending money by hand to swiping a piece of plastic to merely disturbing a few electrons, I have changed the way I (and the world around me) spend(s) money.

Money, to me is now largely a number that rests in an account (which is yet another number). I cant see it. I cant touch it. I cant fathom how little or how much do I have. Its a damn number. And like all numbers, without context, it has no meaning. Maths is boring like that.

If I had 10 lakhs in coins, I am assuming it would be like a river of coins that Uncle Scrooge could take a dip in. If I had it in notes, the wad could be a thick like a book. But on a fuzzy webpage, it looks like a number to me. Every time I spend some money, say 10 bucks, since there is no physical contact involved, I dont realize that I've spent it. All I see is the number reducing from 1000000 to 999990. To me, this small reduction in number is not big. And before I know it, all these small reductions make a considerable dent in the stack. All without me realizing it. Without an inflow, the bucket could soon run dry with these small leaks!

The only way out is to go back to the dark ages of cash and budgets. Stop using the numbers and plastic and start handing notes and coins. Even if it means carrying a thick wallet around. At least I would know what I am spending on and I would know where is the money going.

Starting today, I am going to use lot more cash. A smallChange that would help me get frugal (until I become filthy rich).

P.S.: There are apparent advantages of using plastic. I dont have to lug around a lot of cash. I dont have to worry about running out of it and finding ATMs. I earn points that I could redeem to book free tickets to places that I want to visit. I get discounts at places where these credit card companies have tieups at. I get a monthly printed account statement that tells me where all I've spent my money at! And so on and so forth. But, but, I end up spending lot more than I ought to (or want to) spend. I have to control it. Somehow!

Notes to Self

  • Read the difference between "which" and "that"
  • Restart thinking / working on frugal life

I am back!

I am back!

Where did I go you may ask? Somewhere. Someplace. Here and there. At a place where I was away from a computer. I did have internet but it was on a handheld and since I am too lazy to type on a handheld, however convenient it may be, I didn't really write.

So I was away for a large part of a month and when I came back, I realized that nothing had changed. True that the Football World Cup fever had engulfed everyone alive and eyebrows were raised on Mr. Modi's first budget and a few countries were fighting with each other over petty things. But apart from that nothing of consequence happened. Its like that slow and steady chipping on a rock where you chip away the edges so slow that you cant perceive. And after a while, the rock takes an entirely new shape.

Looking at things around me, I think everything is like that damn rock, taking newer shapes with time, without me noticing. Everything, from the world at large to things like relationships, people, thoughts, everything is changing. Slowly, imperceptibly, gradually. It it. does. It has. It will.

And there is nothing that I or anyone else could do about it.

Anyhow, in other news, the edit on the book is done. I need to re-write some part and I am hoping to get it done within a week or so. And hopefully, the book would be out by July.

The big new, I have started working on the next one. So far, the plot is hazy but like #tnks, I hope to write the first draft by end of the year (2014). And then I'd take it up from there.

And, and I need to find a naukri. I got this SMS in the morning from my bank that said that the bank balance is Rs. 0.50. Egads! Need to work on that. Have had enough with living on udhaar. Need to do something about it. Like Now! But, before that, let me go write some.

And until, next time!

P.S.: Like multiple times in the past, I promise to be regular with blogging.

On the road...

I'd be on the road for the next 18 or so days.

I may come back with the idea for the next book, or may be a collection of short stories. Or nothing at all. That's the point of travel. Right? When you just leave without an agenda?

Dear sgMS

Dear sgMS,

Its been some time that I've written into you. Today is as good a day as any to do so. And here I am. Actually, to be honest, today, I am missing you so so so much more than other days. I dont know why. I know I have promised in the past that I would try to move on. I tried to. You know it. But I cant. No, you are not to blame.

So I am going away for three weeks. I wont have access to email or phone and I wont know how to stalk you. Good thing is that I would be with someone who I can confide in. So may be I wont crave for you as much. But then may be I would. Yeah yeah I am an indecisive fuck. I dont know what I want and I dont know how to get it.

Once I am back, please grant me darshan. Its been some time that I've met you. No?

In the meanwhile, stay good. Stay happy.


Tumko Dekha To Ye Khayal

What do you do on a Sunday evening when you are randomly depressed? You turn onto youtube and hunt for some nice interesting mushy music. And that's when you stumble onto Jagjit Singh singing Tumko Dekha To Ye Khayal Aaya. 

This has to be amongst the best written AND performed love songs of all time. All time. Here. Enjoy it. I would some day, write a longer post about this.

Here is the lyrics...
Tumako dekha, to yeh khayaal aaya
Jindagi dhoop tum ghana saaya 
Aaj phir dil ne ik tamanna ki
Aaj phir dil ko hamane samjhaaya  
Tumako dekha to yeh khayaal aaya  
Tum chale jaaoge toh sochenge
Hamane kya khoya hamane kya paaya 
Tumako dekha to yeh khayaal aaya  
Hum jise gunguna nahi sakate
Waqt ne aisa geet kyun gaaya  
Tumako dekha to yeh khayaal aaya 

Dear Gloria Jeans Coffee

Dear Gloria Jeans Coffee,

Thank you. Thank you for being rude to my friends and me. Thank you for telling us to leave your store unless we ordered "once every hour". Thank you for breaking all faith, all trust that you had earned over the years.

I know that you are in the business of selling (often overpriced) beverages and (often bad quality) food to (often) unsuspecting patrons like myself. No, I dont blame you. You are not alone. There are multiple businesses offering exact same thing. In fact one of them is headed towards an IPO! After all the incomes are rising, people have money to spend and we Indians love to go out. I also know that the business requires people to spend long hours and order these beverages and keep the cash register ringing. I also know that there are people like me who sit at your air-conditioned cafes for long hours and keep other patrons customers away.

But then, if the entire cafe was empty and were not preventing any other customers from occupying those empty places. We were not loud. We were not rude. We were not out of place. We merely wanted to sit for sometime to make a presentation that we could take to an investor and raise money for our business. If we could sit, finish the deck and got the money, you could have been part of our story. Just like Starbucks is a part of my first book. Dear Gloria Jeans, you lost the opportunity. In fact, if I dont get the required money from the prospective investor, like a sore loser, I could blame you. No?

You know, I am not really out of place. Between the three of my friends we had ordered food and beverages worth 1200 bucks. Despite that, is it right for you to ask us to "order something once every hour?" May be it is. The place where I come from, we often say, "atithi devo bhava," the guest is like a God. May be you guys are different.

To be honest, your barista was really courteous during the entire episode. When we asked him why, he told us that "he is questioned" if we sat "idle" and "without a drink" in front of us. Company policy. Sigh! You know Gloria Jeans dear, more businesses have had to shut shop because of these company policies than any other reason.

Of course its your premises and you have the right to refuse admission. But did you refuse admission? No. Did you refuse to serve me? No. Did you throw me out once I gave you money? Yes! At least thats how I felt. And no, I am not exaggerating. And I am not the kinds to crib and rant about businesses unless something really ticks me off. You have ticked me off.

You know, I may not be a celebrity and I definitely don't have access to television and other such large mediums. And one irate customer cant really do much. Too small and too insignificant. But I can ensure that I never spend any money at any of your outlets anymore. And I can urge all my friends to not visit a Gloria Jeans. Not in Mumbai. Not in India. Not anywhere in the world.

I know, I am too small, too insignificant in the large scheme of things. But then, like Pink Floyd says, we're all just another brick in the ball.


Anyhow, all the best for your future endeavors. To me it looks bleak. But I have been wrong in the past. I sincerely hope this time I am not.

A regular patron who will not spend any money at any of your stores anytime soon.

Soul searching 102

There is no place in the world for jack of all trades. At least not in India. Everyone wants to hire an expert. Someone who's been there and done that. Someone who thinks in a silo. Someone who has never dared to venture out of their comfort zone. Someone who's a conformist. 

Sorry to say but the world (at least the bit around me) does not reward the ones who try things. Its like a negative spiral. You fall into once and you can never come up again! 

So, you see, I can crib. Crib for like ten hours. For ever if I have to. About how tough I am finding to find a naukri. I always thought that with my (almost) fancy degree, it would be a walk in the park, in any kind of economic environment, anywhere in the world. But now I realize how wrong was I. I have never been more wrong. So wrong that I am left in the lurch. Lurch may be too harsh. But I am definitely not happy. 

But like most experiences, this one has taught me a few things. Here is a list...

1. When you are falling, you fall like a hot knife through butter. You just go through everything between you and rockbottom. Its thin air and you fall fast. I went from extreme happiness and carelessness to bouts of anxiety in less than two weeks. All this when my first book is almost ready to hit the market. 

2. You are alone. And like Steve says, you're naked. There may be God but he has his funny ways. I am not fond of him anyhow. Apart from you, no one else loses sleep over what you're going through. They may want to, but they cant. Sleep is like that monster that makes everyone a slave. 

3. You are not anyone else's priority. Everyone would want to help, commit to help but help would be half-measures. Not because they dont like you. Not because they dont want to help you. But because they have other priorities. And you're second-fiddle at best. In fact I can put myself in others' shoes. How often has someone asked for my help and how many times did I actually help em? not enough! You reap what you sow. So may be, going forward, will help as many people as I can.

4. Dont take things for granted. I have been a happy-go-lucky dude all my life. So much so when people around me were buying houses and cars and making millions of rupees in their cushy jobs, I would laugh it out loud. Now, for some reason, it has started to suck. The dwindling bank balance has started to bother. Not being able to pay for drinks and food when you step out, it sucks. Everyone, including friends and family, treating you like a liability is even worse. Again, its about you. You being alone. And all that.

5. The world around me is transactional. You give me something and I would give you something back. And everyone wants to emerge as a winner. On top. Nothing wrong with it. Darwin knew this long before any of us could even comprehend. Either you fight and you come on top. Or you slither away to obscurity.

6. If you are nobody, nobody wants to talk to you. Not friends, not neighbors, not strangers, not prospective dates. Not prospective employers. When I had a naukri, I would regularly get calls from everyone wanting to hire me. And since I've been in the job market, no one wants to hire me! Sigh!

So.. What else? I dont know. I mean I know but I am not going to talk about it here. May be on the secret blog. Or evernote.

Yeah. This is it. For the time being. Of course all these are first-world issues. Since I've been blesseed  Lets see how many of these sessions can I do before I either succumb to pressure. Or find a way out. Either way, this will stop. In the words of Chris, this part of my life, I call it "internship being fucked up in my head."

Of course I chase happiness happyness all the time. But right now, this part, this part of being fucked up, sucks like hell. Need to find a way out. Soon.

Hope I dont forget these. Once I get a place of my own, this is something that I would pin to my board for sure.

P.S.: Here is Soul searching 101.

Monthly Report - May 2014

The fifth month of the year is gone. Here is the update.

Here are the thing that I did in this month
  1. #tnks was accepted by Grapevine. This means that I will be a published author in a few months. Yay!
  2. Had a net black month with poker. Hope to continue the run in June. 
  3. Still jobless. Like I was in May. And the months before that. I am looking for a naukri that gives me some money and some time. If you know of places that want to hire someone with 8 years of work-ex post MBA, please let me know. Some of my details are on my linkedin profile. I did interview at a few places and I now know how it feels to be on the asking side. 
  4. Launched I dont know where would it end but I like what I've done with it. People have already said that its helpful for struggling writers. So a minor victory there! 
In June of 2014, these are the things that are on the cards
  1. I am traveling for almost 10 days in June. So I have like 20 days. In these 20 days, two key things would be and tnks' edit. 
  2. If I get time, I want to do things for Feb, Mar, Apr (sell giveaway sgElectra, work on Cpt ObvISIN and next plot)
  3. Clear Evernote.
  4. #poker. See all of grisped on youtube. 
  5. #36to30. I am done with Yoga. I would restart once I find a naukri. Meanwhile, I am trying to walk 10000 steps everyday. I post my progress here.
Thats about it from the month of May. All in all a good month. Hope more such months happen.

Over to you June.

Previous updates: JanFeb, Mar, Apr.

Hello Grapevine India!

First posted at tnks blog.


I am so so happy and so so proud to announce that The Nidhi Kapoor Story (web, facebook) has been accepted by Grapevine India. If all goes well from here on, we are looking at releasing the book by August of this year.

Its a big big moment. And I am totally excited about it.

Publishing a book has been on my bucket list for longest time ever. Took me some time but its here. Of course a lot of people have helped me do this. I am grateful for having access to such great people.

I may argue that its the end of a long-cherished and a long-held dream. But honestly, I think its just the beginning. Now that I have gone through the grind of writing a full-length story, there is no way I am going to stop now.

#tnks would be the first in a long line of books that I would eventually write and publish. To be honest, I already have a list of ideas and plots that I want to extend into books. Of course a travel book (another thing from my bucket list) is up on the cards. I intend to start with the next one in September (when I take my week off). But, for the time being, I want to focus on #tnks and creating a kickass book that people enjoy reading.

I sincerely hope that you'd like it and #tnks would be worth your time and money. This is what you can expect from #tnks.

Oh, I need all the help that I can get. It could come in shape of pre-orders, marketing ideas, distribution ideas, contacts of other people who may help. If you think you can help me, please add your name to the form below and I would be in touch.

You may alternatively click on this link to fill details later.


Soul searching 101

Since I quit last year, I have been on soul-searching ride. I am trying to understand where I come from and what is my purpose. Why did Mother Nature create me and why did She make me the way I am.

Of course the answers are not easy and I am definitely not the working hard kinds. I want to enjoy life as it comes and I dont like to plan ahead.

But then, Mother Nature and Providence has their funny ways. Since its been almost a year now, the money that I had saved is running out fast. And once I realized that I was running out of money, I thought I needed to find meaningful employment.

And this is when the real stirring of mind happened. This is when soul-searching happened. Of course I am no where close to finding the meaning of life but stirring and soul-searching is a painful process. I now know the agony and despair of a man with limited means. I now understand where why they do things they do. I know what it is like when dreams get shattered. I appreciate the lyrics of Bawra Man and genius of Swanand Kirkire. The poets and writers and speakers and thinkers and other such people, respect!

Thing with searching for a naukri is that you need to shed all your clothes and stand naked. Naked to the mercy of things and people and situations that are beyond your control. You need to pimp yourself. You need to ask for favours. You need to glorify your microscopic achievements. You need to think of things that would make your noticeable, even when you dont want to be noticed. And you need to do it  all the time. Say after day. Application after application. Recruiter after recruiter. Till you are either tired of it. Or someone takes mercy on you!

You have to bare your soul and lay it on a platter to the person on the other side. You then hope like hell that they like what you have offered. After the interaction, if that happens, there is this agonizing period where you wait for the other party to come back with their decision.

If the decision is not in your favor, more often than not, the other party does not bother to inform you. You are left to fend for yourself. The wait that was supposed to end in a few days extends into weeks and then eventually months. You, as an applicant, go through various emotions. From hope and expectation (of getting a naukri) to reason (they may be late because they may be stuck) to denial (how can they reject me or I didnt want to join anyway) to anger (I hate the company) to despair (damn, money is running out). Each of these emotions peel yet another layer from your onion-like soul.

However, the good part is that this experience of knocking on doors, both open and close, both known and unknown, both friendly and hostile, is priming me for the next big task ahead of me. I guess it would require even more stirring, more anxious nights, more heartburn. The one where I am supposed to talk about my upcoming book to everyone in the world. Did you like it on Facebook yet?

Of course all these are applicable to someone like me. Mediocre, average, nothing great to boast of, no awards, no concrete output, lack of social skills, stubborn and all that! The ones on the other end, the ones who are in demand, must have a different experience altogether. That of ecstasy, elation, happiness and pride. I dont know how that works. I may, sometime in future. But not right now.