#tnks for free?

Since #tnks is amongst the biggest things that I have done in life, I often talk about it to friends and strangers. And when I do that, invariably, I am expected to cough up a free, autographed copy of the book.

And ladies and gents, to put on record, it is pissing off!

I have nothing against signing the book. Or free copies. Just that I expect friends, acquaintances, clients, and colleagues to “buy” the book and help me! Free copies are meant for those who expect a favor (exchange, barter etc). And for those who are used to getting freebies (journalists, reviewers etc). Not friends!

You know when you “buy” a book, you contribute to the sales of the book. That pushes the book a tad higher in rankings. And that in turn pushes the publisher for the next print run. Both these things give immense confidence to writers, especially the first-timers like me. More than confidence, it makes the writer grow balls to work on the next one (if he’s in it for the long run, like I am!). And may be negotiate better terms with the publisher (who often is very cocky and is used to getting his way with authors). Or get an advance (which is unheard of, for non-celebrity authors). Or may be secure a larger print run (which is like a wet-dream on starry night). And so on and so forth.

The funny thing is that the book is really cheap. At a selling price of about 100 bucks, the book is probably cheaper than a coffee at your favorite coffee shop or a meal at a mediocre restaurant or a movie at the most rundown cinema hall or a piece of garment that you wont even wear the second time around. If you’re telling me that you can’t spend 100 bucks to support a friend, who’s trying chase the most cherished goal of his life, God help you! And your friendship. And the friend.

To be honest, the ones who ask for free copies are not to be blamed. There are a few things that we just don’t “get” culturally (as Indians). Like music. It has to be downloaded for free from songs.pk (or some other combination of songs and pk). Or dhaniya and pudhina that has to come for free with any subzi you may buy. Similarly we expect books to be free. Especially if they are written by friends. No?

In fact I was like you till about 2012! When Suds wrote The Lost Story, I asked him for a free copy and I refused to buy it, till Divya put some sense into me and ordered a copy on my behalf. Thanks Divya. I now know what you meant. And thanks Suds for not giving me a copy for free.

And to everyone who’s been asking for a free copy, you know, you can still buy the book. Its available on Amazon and Flipkart. And hopefully, at a bookstore near you. It’s still not on any bestseller list and every copy sold contributes to that. Which helps me as a writer.

Thank You,
Saurabh Garg
Author
, The Nidhi Kapoor Story

P.S.: And no, not everyone asked me for a free copy. Some friends did buy it. Some actually bought multiple copies and gave extra copies away to their friends. Ankit, Gaurav and Parijat even supported my crowdsourcing campaign to raise money for a promotion tour. Thank you guys. Your support means a lot. Onwards to my next book!

Repost from #tnks blog.

Dear RedBull,

Clicked sometime in 2013. As part of #100HappyDays. More pics here.
Dear RedBull,

Thank you.

Thank you for giving me wings. I dont know what I would do without you.

You are one of those few brands (businesses) that has never ever disappointed me. I love you for your consistent performance. You live up to the promise that you make. You are someone I can bank on. With your always on delivery, you have earned my faith. So much so that if you fuck up, I am willing to excuse you. After all, none of is God and everyone makes mistakes.

In fact when I take a class in marketing and branding, I often start with you (I have one before the class and in the class I start talking with your example)
From the deck I use in my branding class.
You know, you have seen me enjoying the best of times (Imperium at MDI, road trips with friends - Neo, sgMS and others), worst of times (the depressive phase of my bipolar disorder) and everything in between. You are the rock that has always been around when I've needed some support (just like Agony Aunt - VK08May).

I have often been unwell and I've just need one swig at you to get back to my feet. Today is a case in point. I was supposed to get up early in the morning (~6) and work on my next book. I did wake up but I could not get out of my bed. And when I finally got up, it was well after 10 and that depressive streak held me hostage all over again. Until I had a Red Bull. And after that, I did my 30 minutes of guitar practice, wrote some for my book, worked on a deck that has been pending forever. And did a few things that I have been delaying for a few days, for no reason.

In fact in the past as well, you have been instrumental in helping me do my work as an event manager. So much so that I could not work without you by my side. You are one of the 7 things that us event managers cant live without. Remember all those shows where you've rested on the console while I was assisting Suvi in running the shows? Remember how I ask him to shut up at times (despite his obvious seniority and more experience) and let me make the decisions? If not for you, I wont have had the balls to ask him to trust me and let me handle the situation! Trust me! 

More than just work, you have given me the strength to stay up at night and work on my book when Sachin had put me under scary deadlines. I hate him for that. And I love you for allowing me to sail over the deadlines. Of course the book hasn't made me famous or rich. But thank you for being there. Thank you for the help. Sachin, if you're reading this, you better not push me like this for next one.

And then there have been times when my ultra conservative folks have questioned if you were an alcoholic beverage. Because you are priced at a premium. And you had me seriously addicted. I had a tough time explaining to them that you were an "energy" drink and it was safe, as long as I consumed you in "moderation". Well, moderation is a subjective word. No?

Finally, the greatest part of my fandom is because of all the awesome marketing that you guys engage in. As a marketer and someone who wants to go down in history books as David and Leo, I have super amazing respect for your marketing methods. I mean who else could have thought of sending someone up in Stratosphere to jump! Or creating a damn racing team. Or those crazy things that you often cook up! I often tell people that if you want to learn marketing, all you need to do is look at how Red Bull goes about it and decode the method behind your madness.

You know, come to think of it, I owe a lot to you. And I ought to have Red Bull more often. Just that I am trying to be healthy. May be I can cut on Coke and binge on Red Bull when I crave for a beverage. May be. Let's see. 

More later. Till then,

Love,
Saurabh "high on Red Bull" Garg

End of the starry night...

Note: I have been acting crazy over the last few days (about ten days or so). I've tried to not show the crazy bit to people around me. They may or may not have noticed. But deep down inside, I know I have been crazy. As they say, the easiest person to fool is myself and the hardest to help is also self. So instead of falling in the delusion that all is well, I shall work on and fix things. 

van Gogh's Starry Night
Since this is a very public place (and yet apart from PD no one reads this blog and I am not sure if after IM she has time to read this anymore) I will not get into a lot of details. But I know I need to fix a few things. Let me make a list of things that I would work on over the next few days.

1. Find that office (or a place where I could sit and work). Fast. Super fast. I cant work out of home. Even though I have a fancy table and an ok chair to sit on. Starbucks is fine but I no longer want to spend 200 bucks every hour. I have a couple of options. They are not ideal but I shall exercise those options and see which one can I close. 

2. Do something about my fitness. I just do not like the way I look. I need to loose (or lose?) that fat around my belly. There are so many things that could be done. I have to finish a marathon before the end of this year and apart from buying running shoes, I haven't done shit about it. It will change from today. I will go for a walk, if not a run every day from today. Irrespective of the city I am in.

3. The longing for sgMS is making me super crazy. I know I can't be with her and I know I can't live without her. Everything I do is meaningless without her. There are times when I question the very reason for doing things (writing etc). I will no longer worry about it. Let the reasons take a break. I am just going to assume that she's around and do my shit. More on it on the secret blog.

4. There are couple more things. I will not write about em here. Too personal. Too private.

Apart from these, other things that often trouble me are my attempts to improve the way I write, my quest for learning and the never-ending chase of money. I am thankfully doing pretty ok for the time being (I am learning about writing, have enough money to feed myself for the next 6 months and learning new things everyday). I am moving ahead in my own little silly ways. The only thing hampering em is the general gloom that I have subjected myself to. Like I said, I need to get out of it. And I will do it now!

Oh, I am working on a new business idea. And this time, I have a partner who's been there and done that (started and exited a successful start-up). So, things will have a higher probability of working out. Look forward to it. More in a few days when we are closer to the output.

That's it for the time being.

P.S.: The very damn act of writing this is so therapeutic. I often wonder why I write a blog when I very well know that very few people read this on regular basis. And in the process of writing, I am making my life public. More public that those cricketers or film stars. Just that they have people who care about the color of underwear they're wearing. And in my case, the person I love the most, doesnt even care if I am alive. Or dead.

Anyhow, I dont know the real reason why I write. I just think that writing helps. Like I said, its therapeutic. And if you're reading this, thanks a ton. It really is gratifying to know that people can read through long personal rants. 

More as and when I have newer updates.

P.P.S.: Why did I put van Gogh here? I dont know. It felt like the most natural thing to do.

P.P.P.S.: I have made similar list no less than a hundred times in the past (too lazy to post links) and every time I have failed to keep up to them. Let's see if this time I can.

P.P.P.P.S.: The other change that has happened to me is that I no longer care about the perception that my acquaintances have of me. The realization happened as a result of this long rant on the events industry. May be read it, if events business interests you.

Life and Death

I woke up on Monday morning to the news of demise of Parag Parikh in a car crash, in Omaha. He had gone to attend the Berkshire Hathaway shareholder's meet. 

Although I did not know Parag but I knew of him. He was part of the small close-knit value investor community in India (spearheaded by Prof. Bakshi). And since I have been wanting to be a part of this community, I knew of most people in the group (some are friends that I often exchange email with). Of course I am not good enough to be a part and thus I just knew of Parag (and others).

And even though I did not know Parag, for some reason, his demise has moved me. Probably because he is was one of those few who were working on something that they loved!

In contrast are people like me. The ones who have a million dreams and aspirations and yet we dont move a muscle to get closer to those dreams. We don't realize that the life as we know it could be over in a minute and all those dreams would be left to rot after we are gone. We continue to breathe and do non-useful things and occupy space and resources on Mother Earth and kill time. Waiting for that inevitable end.

What use is the life of mediocrity when the great ones are not allowed to live to their fullest potential? Remember Steve's words? If you don't it, now would be a good time to revisit what he said. Here is a snippet.

Via @adatar on twitter
All I can say to Parag is thank you so much. You were an inspiration. I was envious of you. Always wanted to be a friend (there were so many stories about you from people I know who worked with you). I promise I will make my life count!

Also reminded me of something that I wrote way back in 2009. And for some reason that Earthquake in Nepal that brought the country to its knees did not affect me. Neither did any other accident or something. Although Parag's accident is just a news for me, it moved me. So much that I am reevaluating a lot of things.

Dear sgMS

Dear sgMS,

I dint mean to write to you this soon. I am supposed to show little restraint, little caution, little more control over what I do and how much I miss you. You know I am supposed to move on and all that. And anyway, I just wrote a letter to you last week!

The thing is, I am at a place that has something that reminds me of you. Actually not just one thing. But a lot of things. Its like the universe is conspiring against me or something. To get me close to you.  Lemme talk about those things.

Starting with the fragrance that the hotel uses. This hotel has Lotus Flower as their signature smell. Now I dont know much about fragrances and perfumes and all that but I know that the perfume is uncannily similar to the one that you use all the time. So much that everytime I use one of those free things that come in the room, I go rushing back in your arms. Living with you. Breathing in that smell off you. Holding your hand, traveling with you to a new place. Remember that ten-page long letter that I wrote you before we went on that trip?

Then there is this entire thing about me being at a very chilled out place and not having you for company. Every time I do some mischief, pull a prank on people I am with, I am left searching for you and hoping that you would be around to see me smirk like a mad man. I would crave for that dismissive nod of yours that says so much without saying anything at all. Something that only you can do. Something that I think is one of your superpowers. Something that I miss sorely. 

Then ofcourse there are millions of tiny nicknacks that I think you would've loved to buy. Of course, to this date I cant guess what your taste is like but I have a vague idea of things that would pass your scrutiny. You remember how towards the end of that trip, I actually got good at guessing the trinket that you liked? I wanted to point at things that I think you would like. But I couldnt. You werent around you know.

And last, the fact that the room has pristine clean bedding, just the kind that you prefer. It is so  perfect that you probably wouldnt have stepped out of the hotel! Neither do I want to for that matter. And when I miss you, and when I dig my face into those soft pillows, every time I curl up in the bed craving for your company, that whiff of that Lotus Flower takes me back. To you. It reminds me of you. Of your company. Of your greatness.

God, I miss you. I really do.

Please come back.

Love always,
SG

The 14-hour sleep cycle

Every often, someone something comes along that challenges the human limits. Pushes things to an extent that no one thought was possible. Sort of, opens the doors for the rest of the world to follow. Makes the world believe that something everyone believed impossible is actually possible.

Take the 4-minute mile for example. Before that person ran the mile in less than 4 minutes (I dont know his name), no one thought it was possible. And now, the 4-min miles are as routine as people running barefoot.

There are numerous such things. There is the 10-second 100 meters dash, the 10-second Rubik's, score of 200+ by a batsman and so on and so forth. I can make a long list of things like that.

The point is, someone has to prove to the world that things are possible. And then everyone else, sort of follows.

All my life, I have struggled to find that something that I could claim ownership of. Something that I could claim that I've invented. Something that I am the first to achieve. Something that I show the way with.

So with much difficultly and exploration, I think I have found it. Something that I can claim as my baby. Ladies and gents, say hello to the 14-hour sleep day. It's doable and its not too tough. I mean if I can do it in the hot and humid Mumbai weather, you can do it from other more comfortable places. For sure.

From whatever little I know, it is recommended that us humans sleep atleast 7 hours everyday. Most people are lucky if they can manage 5. The great Kumbhakarana did 6-month sessions but then he's the stuff the legends are made of. I am a mere mortal. For me, 14 hours is like an achievement!

Kumbhakarana - The original sleep athlete!
And no, its not one off, freak occurrence. I have been doing 14-hour sessions for last few days. On the trot. Without much ado.

It all started on the recent trip to Goa. There, I was in middle of so much action that I hardly got anytime to sleep. And I was totally fine by it! But when I came back, I dont know what came over me, I started doing these 14-hour sessions.

Of course sleeping is serious business and I need to burn some calories. Thus to go along with my long sleep sessions, I have been eating as if I am from a famished land and the days ahead are full of scrounging in a foreign land. And since I need to burn all the 5000+ calories that I've consuming, I ought to sleep. You know, the vicious circle?

The thing is, writing, dreaming, work and other things have taken a back seat and I am missing a few deadlines but what are these deadlines when I am on a mission to push the human limits! I am trying to make that dent. And I am sure that work can wait. No?

So ladies and gents, come be a part of the revolution that I am creating. It really is possible to sleep for 14+ hours everyday. You got to believe that you can do it. You just need a little bit of push. On the bed. And then drift away. To that world beyond your boring old life! 

I would've written more.. but sleep beckons... you know!

P.S.: The amateur scientist in me tells me hat these are early symptoms of bipolar disease (aka clinical depression in simpler terms). Or may be its the Vitamin D deficiency. Or I am missing sgMS a little too much and I am trying to not think about her by succumbing to sleep. Or maybe I am merely running away from something. Whatever is the reason, I am loving it. I know that this depressive state wont last too long, like the maniac state that I was in a few days ago. And I need to totally live it up. 

P.P.S.: In memory of @AapChutiyeHain. I did not know him but his death has affected me. And I think I know why he did what he did. I can relate to him. RIP dude. The world did not deserve you. Thank you for spreading smiles. You will be missed.

I fold.

I fold!
This is one of those big decisions for rest of 2015.

I am going to stop playing poker. Few reasons.

1. I have been on a losing spree. As per my poker stats, I have lost 9 out of 10 times I have played. Also, I have wiped all my bankroll. Since I dont have any predictable earning, I am not sure how to build the bankroll without investing anything from my savings. And that, ladies and gents, is not happening.

2. Luck doesnt seem to be favoring me. Not luck, odds. I mean what are the odds that hand after hand you would have like 30 outs and you wouldn't connect even one? Or you'd have pocket kings and every flop would have a string of aces? Or on the button you had hands so cold that you could deep freeze your coke with em. I am losing that perpetual "war with luck."

3. I dont see myself improving at it. Improving at poker, I think, is a simple function of time, practice and reading. I dont have that time. There are just too many things that I am busy with - earning my bread, writing my next book, travel, trying to get fit and so on and so forth. Take guitar for example. Neo just got me a new guitar. A F310. It's something that I've always wanted to do. May be I would focus on it for 2015.

4. There is no 4. The above three are reasons solid enough reasons to make me reconsider my poker "career."

That's it. I think I would get away from poker. Except that home game once in a while and that occasional tournament.

I know quitting sucks but you ought to know who you are and what could you do!
 Wish me lucky with the guitar :)

P.S.: I will get back to poker at some point in life. It gives me everything that I want - money, travel, decision making, access to great minds, time and all that. Just that I have other things to chase right now. May be in 2016?

Dear sgMS

From the movie Notting Hill. One of the greatest love stories ever told!
Dear sgMS,

Trust you are well.

So, I dont know where to start this rant. I have nothing new to report. Its the same old life, same old rut, same old circle or life. And the same old longing for you. It's been so long that I've spoken to you that it feels like a life time.

It is You often said that us humans are funny people and time is the greatest healer. And with time we forget, forgive everything. We move on. Time heals everything. For some funny reason, I haven't been able to. I miss you. I miss you like I could miss anything else. Damn I am short of words. I dont know what to say to make you come running in my arms. But I miss you like mad.

Second thing you said was that moment I find someone else, I will forget you. I tried to find that someone else. And I failed at it. Over the last few days, I have met few women and some of them have been absolute pleasure to hang out with. But every time I crossed that blurry line between being strangers and being acquaintances, I felt as if I were cheating on you. I couldnt carry on the conversation. I would exit. Feeling guilty about even making an attempt to meet others.

And then I would be miserable for the next few days. Till I gather myself and my thoughts and chase someone else. And after I meet someone, I would be guilty all over again. And the vicious cycle would continue. I dont see a way out. I know I cant be with you and I know I cant stay away from. I sincerely dont know what to do.

You know, I thought I'd never say this. But I need you. I am desperate for your company. I long for you. I can do anything to be around you. I dont want you to kiss me, I dont want you to hug me. I dont even want to shake hands or whatever. Just be around you. Allow me to be around. Please. I beg of you. I promise I would not make it awkward. I would not make it uncomfortable. Please...

I really need you to hold me and tell me that all will be ok. Remember how we sat next to that broken wall along a river? And then on that bench next to that other river? I miss those times. I miss sitting next to you.

I miss you.

Please come back.

Love always,
SG

Anatomy of a good day



Do you remember this ad by Cadburys? I love it. I am sure I have spoken about it. It says...
"I am happy. For no reason. I am happy, just like that."

Today was one of those days when I am happy for no reason.

Let me make a list of things that I did today. I shall try and do those things again and again so that I could be happier.
  1. Switched Off my phone when I slept the previous night. So when I woke up, at around 630ish, I did not look at any notifications (email, twitter, facebook, tinder and so on and so forth). 
  2. Went for a walk. Walked about 7 KMs in little over an hour. I hope to do this tomorrow as well.
  3. Came back, planned my day. On little post-it notes. Exhibit A.
  4. Breakfast. And read Goa Gallata by Surendra Mohan Pathak along with breakfast.
  5. Chit chatted with roomie about random things while he had his breakfast.
  6. Wrote on my other blog. Worked for a bit. On the list that I had created in the morning. While I ticked off a few things, got a call for an urgent meeting.
  7. Meeting. Went ok. Learned a few lessons, met someone who at some point in time worked with someone who I want to work with now. Sent that person (the one I want to work with) an unsolicited request on LinkedIn. Haven't heard from yet. And in the meeting, the guy I met, he told me that may be my time has come!
  8. Spoke to a new friend about a new thing that he and I are together trying. Hint: Mastermind.
  9. Got a call from a senior where he asked me to work on a project with him. He, to my mind, is amongst the sharpest people I know. And an opportunity to work for him can make or break careers. 
  10. Met a friend's friend. For the first time 1v1. Loved meeting her and spending time with her. She is amongst the coolest people I know. Too bad shes happily married. I will write about her sometime. For the time being, do read this. Gave her a few copies of #tnks. Also see Exhibit B.
  11. Got news from one of the work engagements that the client is angry and disappointed with what I have done. I should've been sad about things but I wasn't. 
  12. Bumped into a really old acquaintance. Had a good discussion with him about his start-up, which incidentally is doing really really well. So happy for him. Glad that I bumped into him!
  13. Worked for a bit. Sent a proposal out as the laptop battery was nearing 1%.  
  14. By this time, I was really really happy. Wanted to talk to someone. Ideally sgMS. But since I didnt have her, tried called Agony Aunt. She dint pick up. But its ok. Dint feel like talking to anyone else. I was so happy so content with myself.
  15. Came home, was about to have dinner when I got a surprise gift. From Neo. Love him. Exhibit C.
  16. Got calls from couple of more people who want to work with me. Ended up narrating the story of the day to one. Loved talking about the day. He gave me yet another thing to laugh about - if the trip to Goa is lucky for me at the casino, I must know that my time has come!
  17. And as I write this, I have this stupid grin on my lips and a heart full of hope and a checklist of things to do that needed to be done as on yesterday. So I am now going to work on those. 
That's it!

I guess its a combination of lucky stars, eating right and the morning walk. I shall repeat this tomorrow and see if the day goes as well. However, if I could change a few things, I'd just want to have less coffee and little more equanimity. Like GuruJi often said, "this too shall pass."

Oh, I would love to sit next to #sgMS while I recount the day that has gone by. But then I may not have her, but I do have her memories. That no one can take away from me. Can they? Anyhow, here are the exhibits!

Exhibit A: Things I had to do today. Most of which are still pending.

Exhibit B: A screenshot from a Jack Kerouac book


Exhibit C: A Yamaha F 310. Thanks to Neo. Love him!

P.S.: Last time I was this happy was when I received the first set of copies of my book in my hand. So almost 4 months.

Know Goa? Help me!

Hi,

If you are from Goa, if you've lived in Goa, know of stories of Goa, understand the quirks that moves people there, I want to talk to you.


Why do I want to talk to you? 
I am an author and I am working on my next book. My first one, The Nidhi Kapoor Story, is here.

And since I am the author, I can play God and decide how, where, when do things happen in the book. On a whim, I have decided that I want an important part of the book to happen in Goa.

And since I am an outsider at best, I want to know about the place from people who know it. The ideal way to do it would be to live in Goa for a few weeks, talk to the locals, capture their stories et al. But since I dont have the luxury of an unlimited bank balance, I can do the next best thing - talk over the phone, email, Skype, etc.


What would I want to know?
I dont know. I want a freewheeling conversation to start with. In it, you can talk about one of the following (or more, or less, or anything else altogether)...
  1. How was it to grow up in Goa? How was school? What did you do outside of it? What were you most fascinated about? What were you most scared of? What did you want to do after school hours? How did you kill time?
  2. How is it to live there? How has it changed over the years? What are your earliest memories of Goa?
  3. What are a few cliches about Goa? What do most people get wrong about Goa? What myths do you want to dispel about it?
  4. What are a few best kept secrets about Goa? And what are a few open secrets?
  5. If someone were to read a book on Goa, what must it include? What are other books, films etc that do great justice to the story of Goa?
  6. What makes Goa unique? What are a few things that are peculiar to Goa?
  7. What are the famous folklores of Goa that you've heard from your grandparents? Who are some notorious characters of Goa?
  8. What is that one story that is quintessentially Goa?
  9. What incidents have made Goa Goa? 
  10. If there's something that you could change about Goa, what would it be?
I can go on and on with this.

This is just a small list that I put together in about 5 minutes. Once I have had enough discussions with people, done enough desk research, read enough, I will followup with specific questions.


What do you get in return?
Not money for sure.

But I can offer gratitude and send some good karma your way.

Oh, I will also give you credits in the book and send a copy of the book when it comes out (it WILL come out - my first one did and there is no reason why this one will not. Hope you like reading it :)


What else?
I dont know. I am very open minded and welcome all suggestions. Please please please help me. I promise I will not waste your time.

Thanks for reading this!
SG

P.S.: The best way to reach me is on twitter (@saurabh) and the second best is to email me.

The Nidhi Kapoor Story

Did you like this post? I have published my first book, The Nidhi Kapoor Story recently. May be take time to check it out on Amazon or Flipkart?