I have moved my blogs and writing to SaurabhGarg.com.
Thanks for your patronage over the years.
Thanks for your patronage over the years.
Human history is dotted with numerous incidents that felt like tiny, insignificant nudges at the time but fast forward a few years and these tiny nudges were found to be the tipping points of revolutions that shifted the way us humans move around.
One such tiny nudge happened a couple of days ago when I got myself a sub-15K, Android Phone.
Now, this sounds like a tiny thing. Even trivial. After all, more than 89% of the country has these sub-15K phones and they seem to be getting by fine. I am definitely not special and thus this big deal that I am making out of a cheap phone is not called for.
But maybe it is!
Lemme try and explain.
Few facts first.
A. I am a heavy user of mobile devices. So much so that I spend about 12 hours a day on a phone. At least since 2013, the device and OS of choice has been Apple (and iOS), barring a few days when I did not have one available.
B. I am the greatest creature of habit I know. That means that I am used to working in a certain manner and with shortcuts that are now so ingrained in my muscle memory that to change those would be like attempting to climb Mt. Everest. Well...
C. I have prioritized things that make my life simpler over things that make my life fancier. This means I don't have a lot of clothes but whatever I have are from brands that I know offer comfort, durability, and yet are affordable to me.
This affordable bit is important to explain. I can't afford a Jimmy Choo. But I can afford a Crocs, a Cotton World. A Fabindia. I know these may be premium and expensive for a lot of people. But to me, these are affordable. Just like Jimmy could be affordable to a lot of people.
And these are affordable because I do not spend on other things that add fanciness to life and most others find important. Things like multiple pairs of shoes, hundreds of dresses for various occasions, those knick-knacks that we try and gather around when we travel. So on and so forth.
So, to me, an Apple device is like that. May be it sells at a premium for a lot of people. I make it affordable for me. And I save for it. I know that it would help me work better, and would last longer. And will not cause frustration by going slow on me!
D. I am irrational. I like to overpay for things. And especially for those that I know are made with thoughtfulness and offer quality and have been made with love. Just like Apple devices. Or Crocs. Or Nike. Even Kurutoga. Air Vistara. Starbucks.
So now, here's the explanation about the new Android device that I got.
IMHO, in buying this device, I have had to compromise on the ethos that I stand for. Yeah, I am one of those weirdos that like to consume brands that are in sync with personal ethos. I don't know a lot but I do try to be conscious about brands that I consume. I try to read about them. I try and understand where they stand on things like innovation, originality, design etc. I like to see what goes behind building and delivering what they do. You know, if they have a soul and not just a facade.
Apple fits into my ethos. But a hardware manufacturer that makes cheap phones, hoping to imitate the brilliance of Apple, is not. Android is ok, except that I am not sure how to make it work for me - way too complicated and too much. If I were 18, I would probably love Android. But at my age, I prefer simplicity and speed and all that.
And why did I get this device if its a problem?
I have a one-word answer. Majboori. What majboori? Well, ask my echoChamber.
Of course get back to a iOS as soon as I can!
Today, I have a serious question that I need an answer to. And like all times when I don't know where to go for counsel, I turn to my blog.
The question is, when do you think you know you've tried enough? How long can you continue to try to make things work when you know that the other side is not reciprocating at all? When do you give up if you know that all the effort you are making will eventually go down the drain?
I don't know how to explain the predicament that I am in without going into specifics. But I need answers and I am out of clues and I don't know who else to ask. And thus this post. Hoping that while I talk in this echochamber, I will get an answer.
Side note. Since I discovered the joys of Roam, I have started to post more and more of these echochamber posts there. But this one, for some reason, I thought I should post here. In the pseudo-anonymous wilderness of the Internet. So, here we go.
So I am in this situation with a project that is super dear to me. It seems to be slipping away. In the sense that I would lose the project and with it all the effort that I have put in the last 3-4 years. And all the hopes of a peachy future over the next 30-40 years.
And since this project is super dear to me (for multiple reasons - emotional, financial, egotistical, and more), I want to give it all and prevent it from failing.
Now, of course, there are things that are beyond my control when you work in this VUCA world, and to prevent failure I probably need to do a lot more than what I am already doing.
Which to be honest I am.
I am doing more than I have ever done for any project. In terms of tann, mann, and dhan! I am not being myself and doing things that are uncharacteristic of me. For example, I am being polite, considerate, value-adding, tolerant, understanding, and all that. I am that desperate to make this happen!
However despite my earnest, sincere and desperate attempts, nothing seems to be helping me get the project back on track. To a point that am this close to writing it off as a bad investment and moving on. But then, dil to bachcha hai ji and log kya kahenge and all that.
This project was going to be my life's work and I can see it go down the drain. Without any dramatic music playing in the background. Without any loud splashes. Like a flame that is fading away. And it is the most painful thing ever. I mean you have hopes pinned that when you die, you would sleep for the final time with the knowledge that you have added some value!
Even thought I've read all the economics that an average bloke may, I want to ignore the sunk cost fallacy and not want to let go of things. I want to keep trying. And I am. And as a result, I have started to bleed from self-inflicted wounds. I mean I am probably throwing more good money behind bad. But I am.
What sucks all the more is that I thought this was a sure shot, lifelong passive income kind of thing. It wasn't when it started. But it was growing up into this beautiful thing that showed immense potential. And thus I gave it all I had. And more. I borrowed money for it. I lied to the world about it. I made it my priority.
And all these in hopes of reaching a point where all the sacrifices I've made would start making sense and there would be some light at the end of the tunnel and all that.
But I guess it's not meant to be.
The question that I want an answer to is, what do you do in such a scenario?
Do you just give up? And at least get your self-respect back and go back to being yourself and not worry about posing as someone who you are not!
Or do you just walk away without thinking about the loss?
Or you listen to those people that say that you need to happen to things (and not otherwise), and go happen to things and do whatever is possible to make it work?
And irrespective of my giving up or not, what lesson do I take back from this loss?
Do I henceforth chase only those things where the outcome is certain? Or do I do things for the sake of doing without expecting on the outcome? You know, like that king Krishna spoke of about doing the karma and not worrying about rewards?
Heck, I did not even know that I was capable of getting this emotional about things!
I have always tried to be stoic and this rant, this post, this feeling of loss, this heartburn, the general sadness that seem to have engulfed me like the thick Delhi fog is teaching me that I am still a million miles away from being the stoic SOB!
This is that time of the year. NO! Not that time when there is this festive cheer in the air and everyone is happy and smiling and cheerful and in the celebration frame of mind. But the time when I go through the annual ritual of looking for a house that's good enough in my opinion and affordable enough in my pocket's opinion and unobtrusive in my friends' opinion and accessible enough in Mumbai traffic's opinion.
You would've guessed that the combination is as rare a find as life's purposes are.
And you would've guessed that the over-optimistic me would do whatever it takes to look for a place. Just that this time, the amount of money I want to shell out is like one-third of what I would normally do. And thus I am crunched on the decision.
And lemme vomit my thoughts on how I am thinking about this. You know, am trying to make a decision in public (without giving you the specifics).
So here are some questions that I ask myself before I start looking for a house.
I believe if I have to save time or money, I must do whatever it takes to save time. Money I can earn. Time I cant. And thus, I ought to choose an option that gives me more time. This often means living close to the city center. This also means that living close to public transport nodes (even though I may not use those a lot)
Second, I believe that you need to live as close to the ecosystem as you can. If not bang in the middle. This allows you to create serendipity. You can meet newer people and it is meeting with people that opens doors.
Assuming you want to live in India, here are some places where you could live...
Third. It is very very important for me to feel good when I come back home. Or if I am holed up in my home for extended periods of time. Now, for most people, this is taken care of if they live with their families - after all, its people that make a house home. For someone like me who is not capable of keeping relationships beyond a few nano-seconds, I need to rely on other things that make me feel good when I come back!
These three withstanding, I made a list of other things that are important to me in a house. Here's a list.
Of course, I could have made enough money that I did not have to care about the rent and would have maxed all the variables. Like SRK, I would have had a Starbucks in the very building I lived in! But then, life's like that. You cant get everything you want and you need to juggle around to find the combination that works for you.
So, coming to the challenge at hand, the new house that I need to move into, in less than 10 days, I am trying to, well, juggle around things till I find a match that works for me. That means I have explored options in Andheri, Thane, Kandivali (and beyond), Madh Island. I am yet to explore places like Chembur and Kanjurmarg and all.
I am yet to finalize on any but the two that seem to make the cut are, 1, a smallish one-bedroom house in Andheri and 2, a little bigger than a smallish one-bedroom house in Thane.
The one in Andheri is 2X the price and about half the size of the one in Thane. And while I am tempted to take up the place in Thane (thanks to COVID and general fuckery of how I run my life, it would be a stretch to afford the place in Andheri) and pay less and get more space, I am not sure if I want to. It is VERY far from any place that I want to be at. Place. Not people.
Place - I want to live near the city center and amp up my odds of serendipity. If Thane was a hub for any of the disciplines I am interested in (films, startups, marketing), Hiranandani Estate would have been ideal. But I am not sure what I'd get access to there apart from the world's best Rajma Chawal that a friend makes (she lives in Thane). Unrelated but she's lived in places like Malad and Kandivali over the years and I have traveled to those places to stuff myself with her Rajma Chawal.
People - I don't know if this is good or bad, there is no one person that I want to live close to. Neither is there a thing that I want to live close to. Most other people want to live close to their friends, offices, families, etc - I don't have any such connections, may be except Myra.
So, while the amount of money I want to pay may dictate where I end up, it would be very very unfortunate if I can not close on a place in Andheri. Or may be in Bandra. Or Goa for that matter (which I was VERY strongly considering, till I realized that there is no work for a generalist like me there - a topic from another post on another day).
For the time being, it's over and out. Wish me luck :)
If you are a longtime reader of this blog (or blogs in general), you would know how blogging as a hobby has been sort of replaced by things like Instagram, tweets, and so on and so forth. Both in general and for me. And how blogging is now a lot more "content marketing" where companies pay peanuts to desk monkeys to churn out words that trap those search engine spiders logs. And how the "content" that is created does not really do anything good to any reader, even if they may want to read about that topic. And how there is so much content that it's impossible to filter noise and signal; assuming you know what is signal for you! And how long-form writing by non-writers is dying a slow death?
It's sad that so many people sharing so many deeply personal anecdotes with so many strangers is all gone. I mean it's now moved to Twitter and Instagram and all that. But I am not sure how many people are blessed with the talent to push their thoughts in mere 280 characters (or maybe 2200 for Insta). I, at least cant. Not that gifted. May be if I work hard on writing, I may learn the art of brevity?
And this is why I have kept the blog alive. And this is why I love the idea of writing letters (come, be my pen pal?). And this is why I like the idea of journaling, diary entries, notes, etc.
The thing is, a blog allows me to push my unfiltered thoughts, things I am thinking on, things I am working on, things I seek opinion on. And put those somewhere on the world wild web. For others to see and respond to and allow me to think better.
I miss those times when I'd be brimming with ideas about the blog posts that I'd want to write. I'd have a draft folder thicker than all the 7-8 Harry Potter books combined. And I'd look forward to publishing posts and wait with bated breath for that one rare comment that I would get once in a month or two. It was another level of exhilaration. Something that the Twitter generation would never know - after all, tweets are far faster to engage with :)
So, today, I am thinking about where do I want my content to go (this is what I'd do with my blog - write write write till I get tired; vomit out all my ideas, thoughts here; and since the blog is in the public domain, I'd try harder to put forth better arguments; and by the time I was done writing, I'd have some sort of clarity). Here is my attempt to think with my words.
And, with that, here we go. In no order...
1. In the times to come, unless you are a media company (even as an individual), you'd lose out. As a business, as an individual, as even a rock or a vegetable. Stories, media, content would help you stay relevant.
You thus have to think like a media company and churn out content that is valuable and interesting and all that.
2. The entire idea of 1000 True Fans would be far far more relevant in the times to come. Creators (a word I used when I applied for Gumroad's gig for customer service) would live lives that they want and will rely on patrons to support them with micro-transactions, micro-donations. And with time, you would see more and more people go down the creator route. We are already seeing the likes of Patreon, Onlyfans, etc allowing people to create economically sustainable lives.
3. As someone who likes to straddle multiple things and at some point in time make an impact for a billion people, I need to be very very good with words. After all, words do move mountains. And these words will open doors for me, allow me to know more people, satiate my curiosity, and so on and so forth.
In one word, my words will give me access. And thus I need to get more active and more aggressive with this!
4. If a picture is worth a thousand words, a video is worth a thousand pictures. So, to improve the output by a 1000x1000, I need to pivot to doing videos at some point. Not sure though when.
PS: Thanks, Annkur for the nudge. Do tell me what would you want to see on a video from me.
5. Right now, my content is scattered at multiple places - my own website, medium, blog, Mailchimp, tiny letter, substack, and more. And with each passing day, these platforms are only going to grow and more platforms would come in. And thus the content will scatter even more.
And as a result, my patrons (and the ones I want to get access to) would probably not find what they are looking for!
So I need to find a solution to this. May be I will use the website to showcase the best work and one blog destination to dump these thoughts? I don't know yet.
6. Continuing with the scatteredness, it is no secret that I am a scatterbrain. My writing, output, and other things are spread too thin. I talk about marketing, entertainment, content, podcasts, entrepreneurship, writing, habits, notes, poker, and a million other things.
And thus there is no way I can give a consistent experience to readers that are interested in just one genre. I mean if you are a filmmaker, you may want to read what I had to write about The Trial of the Chicago 7 but why would you read about how I refuse to have a kitchen at my home? Or that walking barefoot is the thing you need to practice but living in a city like Mumbai, it's literally impossible!
So once I know what and how and where all I am writing, there has to be a way for people to identify "tracks" they want to consume and they must be able to go down that path easily. For example, when you are subscribing to newsletters on those large websites, you have an option of subscribing to certain sections (kind of content) and receive updates from only that section, that track. I will have to implement that!
7. Lemme talk about Twitter. The thing that got me down this path!
The thing with the tweet is, even though there is a permalink of the tweet per se, to me, a tweet looks and feels ephemeral. It is something that's hanging in the air. I'd love to change it and have a more solid, permanent, tangible link. Like a URL to a website. A website feels a lot more solid to me. Oh, by the way, the public URLs that I host on my own website on? They are tough to pull off - I keep trashing my website every now and then and I start from scratch! I need to fix this.
Plus, while most of my greatest connections have come via Twitter, I still can't wrap my head around the fact that it's the primary destination where I create content. It can at best be a distribution platform. And heck, it's a powerful destination! No?
8. Making money and pivoting to being a writer! This is a big one. And this is what I am most conflicted about.
The thing is, I'd love to be on substack or Patreon or something because I like the idea of monetizing my audience, my true fans. Even though I do NOT write with the intention of making money off my writing, I have been told by at least one person (thanks, Krishna!) that he is happy to pay me for what I write. Apparently, it adds value to his life. And that to me is music.
For two reasons. A, I add value. The reason I even write in the first place. And B, people find it valuable enough to pay!
So, if I can get 1000 people like Krishna, I'll be free from the rigmarole of holding onto a steady job! And I can potentially take a step in the direction where I won't have to work for others. And spend my life like a dog chasing cards - in random pursuits, where the chase itself is a reward!
Of course, once I start seeking money for what I write, I need to not get sucked into this honeytrap and go down the desk-monkey route.
The other thing that I am sure of is that I do not want to "profiteer" by sharing things I know. Whatever little I know, I know those because I have had generous people who were kind to me and shared things with me without expecting anything in return. And it is not right for me to profiteer when I myself haven't paid for those! So that!
A big part of me thus does not want to charge at all. May be I'll accept donations? I can ask people to donate whatever they deem is ok. But then, while I go with the pay what you go model, do I want to guilt-trip people into paying? Dunno.
And if and when I do go the monetization path (in whatever shape or format), I need to decide how do I do it. With Patreon? Substack? Stripe? Ideally, I'd love to have a button or something (may be stripe connection to WordPress) on my own website. Let's see.
Sigh! You see the conflict?
9. Accountability. This is a big one. Right now, I write things as and when I feel like. There is no structure, no predictable cadence, no topic, no accountability. But once I decide that I want to be a writer for hire, I would have to be a lot more accountable. Someone said it right that a predictable routine is one of the secrets behind a free, wild, flowing, interesting life - the kind that gives you experiences that you long for. And the experiences that can shape you into a better man!
So, I need to probably pull them socks up and get to a routine. For what I write, even if it's across genres and all that. No?
So yeah, these things.
What started as a rant, a comparison between tweets and blog posts has become a tome that I am not sure who would read.
I will decide over the next few days and I will of course keep you guys posted. Till then, it's over and out!
Once you ignore the title of the post and dig deeper, you'd probably see what I am seeing.
Somehow and for some reason, I have grown up into someone that takes myself way too seriously. This means I am humorless, often found gazing into the future, and have my head clouded with a million thoughts - most of those around how to become what I've always aspired to become - rich, affluent, impactful, giving, contributing, learning, fit, lean, emotionless, machine-like forever living thing.
And all these adjectives / verbs play just one role -- they add a qualifier to the idea of identity that I have for myself.
That identity is probably as meaningless as the concept of immortality. I am sure we would find answers (about the grand plan of life and all that) in due course; but as of today we do know that all this that started with a Big Bang will end in a few gazillion years (how exactly would the end come is still being speculated).
And all the adjectives that you use to define you and the very concept of you will cease to exist.
And thus, this image that you have installed in your head about yourself (wait, am talking to myself - so this image that I have installed in my head of myself) is meaningless. Insignificant. I think I need to see Pale Blue Dot more often.
The insignificance gets even more, well, pronounced when you realize that all that you've been building towards does not add up to that grand picture that you had in your head about things and people and life and all that. All those sacrifices that you made hoping for a better tomorrow, all the gratification that you delayed for deeper meaning, all the struggle you were engaged in chasing happiness at a later date, all of it, is insignificant. And if you've known me, all my life has been a run-up to this grand picture where I am happy, successful (whatever that means), and have contributed to the well-being and happiness of a billion people (in whatever way). And it's a sobering thought that this grand picture is a mere mirage - something that you think is around but it is a mere reflection of something that's not even there in the first place!
Even these words that, sort of, give you immortality will cease to exist.
The momentary masterness that we are chasing, the fleeting validation that we chase, the semblance of control that we wish to exercise over life, well, insignificant. Like the I.
So, what is the point of going on, you may ask? Well, I don't have any specific answers per se. But I do know that if by your actions, your thoughts, your work if you can give someone else some comfort, some break, some hope, some validation, some inspiration, it is worth it.
I am back with another post on the blog. And another post in the #untitled series. A place where I pour out my head, without an agenda, without any expectations.
Here we go.
1. 15th August.
Tomorrow is India's 70-something-th Independence Day. From a kid that was like a true patriot and thought about Bhaarat Mata more than I thought about anything else, I am today an indifferent middle-aged man. I don't know how this transition happened. I don't know what pushed me towards becoming indifferent. I am not sure if I am even coming back to being a jingoist nationalist. But I know that I am disillusioned with the idea of India that I grew up with!
2. Technology snafus.
These last few weeks have been terrible in terms of technology - the laptop broke, the phone is anyway half-broke, I've not stopped spilling things on the keyboard. This new blogger sucks. I think after using this for over 14 years, I am finally ready to move elsewhere. Where to though? Someone help please!
While I have been mostly ok with the lockdown, lately I have started to feel a problem with how I attend to things. I've anyway had the attention span of a goldfish. Now, it's reducing even more - I am guessing I can give a hummingbird a run for its money!
I did try meditation for a few weeks ago but I just could not get myself to sit still for those 10 minutes. Compare it to a point where I was doing some 60 minutes every day! I don't know what is wrong and what needs fixing but something IS broken somewhere. Let's see when I discover it.
That's about it, I guess.
This new blogger is really not cool. I can't even type on this! I need to port out soon. Will update a few days. Till then, over and out!