Long time...

So the last post on this blog was on Mar 25. And today its Apr 17. Been some 20 days since I've written something. Wow. This has to be amongst the longest dry stretches of inactivity as a writer.

Universe has funny ways of sending signals. I haven't written anything in a while (almost 20 days I think - last post was on Mar 25 and today is Apr 17) and just when I was getting comfortable about the idea of NOT writing, someone sent a great review of #tnks. And another mini-crush asked me to write - apparently she loves how I write.
So maybe, I ought to write. While book2 is a longer plan, today is as good an opportunity I would get to write as any other day, so here I am. On one of my freewriting things.

P.S.: Freewriting is where I just pour out whatever is in my head, without worrying about the output or quality. And anyhow I have always been about quantity and not quality - I assume that if I continue to write for years (been 12 already), someday I will become a good writer. Remember the infinite monkey theorem - just that my time is very very limited.

Let me think about a few reasons why I couldn't write the last few days weeks months.

I can think of two things only. A, work. B, sgMS.

Let me take up work bit in a bit and tackle the issue of sgMS. If you know me, you'd know about her. And trust me she is the most beautiful thing to have happened to me. This ladies and gents is the last time I am talking about her on a public platform (apart from tweets on @altSG, book2 and the secret book I am writing for her - as and when I get time to work on it). I know this love obsession(?) is not healthy. I know that even though she's been sent for me, she doesn't want me around. So thinking about her, even in my head is not being on the right side of karma. It tilts the balance. And as I grow older, everything IS about tilting balance. So I have to stop doing that. I have to let go of her (as if I had her in the first place - wishful thinking Mr. Garg). I have to move on. Let me attempt to do so umpteenth time.

Dear sgMS, I love you and will hopefully continue to do so for the rest of my life. If you want me back, I will be waiting. Of course if you need something, I am a phone call away!

Moving on. To work.

Life has been REALLY kind and I can't emphasize more on "really." Compared year-on-year I've done 3x better. This year was the first time in my life when I made 7 figures in a year by myself. So, hopefully, the first million is not far.

Of course I have been extremely lucky with things. I know for a fact that I am not the best at what I do but I know that I am willing to work harder than anyone else. And that I think has paid. Coupled with luck of course.

However, while the money has happened, impact hasn't. And more I think, more I realize that I want to be able to impact things. Not at a small level but at the world-changing level. Am I wired for that? I dont know. But I want to do it. I dont know the how but I will.  More on this in a bit.

On the work front, I created a new business (I consult clients on digital marketing and brand planning) and I got lucky with a few clients to help me get it off the ground. And I got support from few people who put their faith in me. More about it is at sowhatif.in. The website is still under development. I ought to thank them there. Apart from the regular people angels that have helped me over life (ghar ki murgi daal barabar) thank you Rishi, Shail Sir and team, Mahesh Sir, Sonam, Anju, Simit, Stylior team.

The other big thing with work is that I am setting up an events agency with a partner. I've been working for him for close to an year and he has shown faith in me and given me confidence to start something with him as a partner. And I am very excited. Details are sketchy to be honest right now and I will talk about it as I go along. But its events (something I love), backed with experience (of the new partner) and the general feel good about how things are going with me. Hope it does well. I aim to do 10 cr in the next three years. Wish me luck. Please.

So, apart from work, I have been thinking a lot about other things. I dont really have any clear ideas or directions but I think I know where I want to go. I love it when I can help someone (what did Freud say about people who like to help others? anyone?). And when I create impact (though my "impact" has been pretty limited but I would want it to grow). So may be, my life goal, my purpose is to do that. I dont know the why but I know the what for sure. More on this as I go along. And yes, this is like the 1232324th purpose that I have identified for myself. And no, this is not about creating a NGO.

I've also been getting some health scares. The hernia has started to hurt back. I get palpitations around my chest multiple times a day. At my age, heart is the single most important organ and I have to go see a doc but I dont have the time. Or may be I am too scared? I anyway dont like hospitals - I dont have a single happy memory of hospitals. May be this week? Lets see.

Let me sum the other insignificant things in one para. I restarted yoga. And then stopped again after one class. Hope to be regular from Tuesday onwards. I practise with Shameem and she is amazing! I stopped being a teetotaler. On insistence of friends, I started experimenting with beer. And no, I dont like the feeling. I dont want to. So I am going to go back to being a teetotaler again. I remain committed to climbing the Everest by 2025 and run a marathon before that. Here is a list of my life goals. Its good to revisit the list once in a while. It tells you that you are not cool enough and you ought to push yourself.

Another thing that has happened in the past 20 days is that I've got hooked onto Netflix. I have been netflix and chilling with self lately and it's not that bad to be with self. Of course I enjoy company and I love people and all that. However I suck at meeting new people and hence I dont really have an opportunity to break the netflix addiction. I am going to work on it as I go along, here on.

So, yeah this is about it. When I look back at this post, 20 days seem to mean little. Life is like that. I just passed by. Ought to live it up. Enrich every minute, moment and live it to the fullest. I am glad that I have had the opportunity to attempt that. And I am trying to.

Lets see what the next post is about. And more importantly, when that happens!

The Delhi Dislocation

So I am in Delhi. Been here for almost three days and haven't stepped out of the house since. I merely ate, slept, crapped and Netflix and chilled with self. I did take a few work calls but I kept those to minimum. And as a result all the work that I had to do has piled up the way cars stall on a highway after an accident. And because I can see work piled up like a long line of cars stuck on the highway, I dont want to work at all. Am stuck in that vicious circle. And I dont know the way out. 

Anyhow, today I'd had enough of home and I had to step out. The nearest Starbucks -- the place where you can sit for hours and work -- is about 20 KMs away from my place. And though I hate going too far away from home for work, I had no other option. 

Fat forward. I am parked at the Starbucks CP. And I am trying to fix things. And how do I fix things? By writing. The other thing that I typically do to fix things is go for a drive. But then I dont have a vehicle and I am tired of begging from friends. And I can't afford all those self-drive cars. Like they say, #FML. Let me not crib and do the other thing that I dont have to borrow for - write! 

So I am in Delhi and unlike other trips to Delhi, this time I haven't called anyone (called = made an attempt to meet friends et al). I want to be with myself and fix shit in my head. The ones I am meeting are the ones that can't wait - perils of being self-employed.

Thing is, last few months have been crazy (not work wise but emotions wise) and I needed a break from the madness. One option was to take off to an unknown land and meet strangers. I could even go to a familiar place like Panchgani or Goa or something. But then I looked at my bank balance and decided not to. Thus the only place that I could escape to, without spending too much, was Delhi.

However, little did I know that Delhi no longer gives me the peace, the sukoon that I craved for.

I've always known in my head and heart that I may live anywhere in the world, I will always remain a Delhi Boy. And and East Delhi Boy at that. For things like bhai, feel, bhasad, jugaad et al define me. I am as unpolished as they come - I like to wear socks and chappals, I like to scratch my arms and head at public places, I like lounging on a chair, rather than sitting with my back straight. I am loud. I am a showoff. I like attention. I am embodiment of everything that a Mumbai girl (aka sgMS) hates. And no, I am not apologetic about it. I am proud of my roots. I dont have any deep cultural ties to any religion or a location, except Delhi. Delhi is me, I am Delhi.

I knew I could count on Delhi. Anytime. Everytime I needed a break, I could scoot away to Delhi, meet old friends, get in a car, blare the car music system at are you crazy levels, drive fast, get into petty arguments and yet find the peace of mind. I could go for walks with locals, go to far away malls with friends, even hop to Gurgaon when I wanted to feel good about how I dont do the Delhi-Gurgaon grind anymore.

There was no ailment that a trip to Delhi could not fix. Even the craving for sgMS is a tad less when I know that I am not in a 20 KM radius of her.

However, this trip I realised that in the last few years, between all the Delhi - Mumbai trips I've severed my ties with Delhi (the bonds with Mumbai are shaky at best). The friends are still around, things are still the same, there is that familiarity with the place but I no longer get peace here. I am as restless as I am in Mumbai. I continue to get those cravings to search for that promised land where weather is perfect, things are the way I want, and I have a life of abundance.

Couple this with my permanent bone against the Bandra house.

Thing is, I am finally rootless. I dont know where to go, where to sleep, where to go to find peace. I am lost. And I dont know where is home. And I dont know what to do about it.

May be home is between soft, white, cold sheets of a hotel where the AC is always at a perfect 22 degrees. I love the feeling of being in perpetual motion. I love airports more than I love home. In fact, when I worked for Gravity, the best bit was all the airports and hotel rooms that I was supposed to live out of. I loved the muted opulence and pseudo-luxury. I loved the distance that the staff maintained while I was there. I liked how at a press of a button, things magically appear. May be, next time I need a break, I'd book myself into a 5-star and switch off my phone! May be. I shall try next time.

P.S.: Of course I need money to be able to afford a lifestyle like that. And by God, I will.

PG04,

With age, I am turning into a sentimental fool! How do I know? I sent the following email to my batchmates from MDI. Read.

Dear PG04, 
Wait! 
When was the last time someone called us PG04? When we all got placed? Or the last time the faculty addressed us? Or was it when we had our convocation? Or was it in one of those emails that one of us sends to each other once in a while? 
This PG04 to me (atleast) had a really strong connotation. This to me was the call to our wolfpack (see Hangover if you haven't), call to our brethren, call to the family (Godfather) that separated us from them. Us was PG04. Them was everyone else including PG03, PG05, Faculty, Hostel cooks, the security guards, the professors and the companies coming on campus to hire us. And others were people not on campus like the world beyond the college walls, the families back home and so on and so forth. At MDI, we were all we had. Ok, exaggerating. I made it sound like we were in a concentration camp. May be we were. It was a wild world out there and we had to emerge from MDI as Change Masters. To give credit to the salutation of our hostel, some of us have did become Change Masters! 
But over years the wolfpacks have dismantled, families have gone to the mattresses, other pressing matters such as buying houses, acquiring corner offices, raising kids et at have taken precedence. We've gone busy with our respective lives. So much so that we cant meet even if we live 3 KMs away from each other (pointing accusatory glances at Ridhima and Ketan - I live 3 KMs away and we've been making plans for three months). What has remained is faint memories of times spent at MDI. And there were tons of incidents that I probably will never forget. 
The beauty is, each of us would have had our own sets of memories to look back at. And the sad bit is, none of us would ever discover all the stories that went around back then! May be someone has to catalog all these into one journal? May be I will at some point. 
I can share my story to start with. When I walked into MDI, I had no clue what was in store for me. I came from a small college in a remote corner of Delhi and everything about MDI was intimidating to me - the ones I was talking to on a yahoo group (before college started) went to fancy colleges, were sons of army colonels and so on and so forth. My roommate, Pochu, was topper from BITS Pilani. The dudes next to me in class - Satya and Gupta - were so brainy that I had no idea where to look at where stuff was happening in the class. Right in front of me was Piyush who was so tall that I had to stand on my chair to make sense of stuff happening on the blackboard. The first friend I made at MDI was Ashish who literally lived in the library the whole of first semester. Despite being the odd one out (I still am come to think of it), with time I found my place. I became a part of "us." I discovered things that made me happy - reading, counter-strike, music, spreading myself too thin, staying up at night, travel and of course, writing. I learnt that I was not the king of the universe. And I made friends that probably will last for a lifetime! 
Thing is, if I did not go to MDI, I probably wouldn't have discovered any of these and I would have been a far different person from what I am today. 
Wait a minute. So, why this email? 
Because (Vivek) Gawri told me that it's been exactly 10 years since we passed out! Ten fucking years (and almost 12 since we started). I can't say it feels like yesterday but time does fly away. While at campus those two years seemed like eternity and now 10 years are insignificant. 
Back then, when I was joining MDI, like someone starting a new phase in life (see Shawshank), I was super excited - after all I was going to MDI! And I was afraid of the unknown. I was clueless about what was expected from me - MDI to me was (and is) the most decorated tag that I've earned. I was dreamy eyed - I remember I wanted to be like Bill Gates and make money (of course I am nowhere close). And I was apprehensive. I had no glass globes to gaze into and predict what would become of me in 10 years. 
In fact, I remember getting asked a million times, "Where do you see yourself in 10 years."
I dont recall what I'd said but there's a high probability that I would have said, "I'd be the CEO of a large organization." Talk of wishful thinking! 
BTW, what did you say? And are you any close to what you thought you were gonna be doing in ten years? 
And may be, just may be, today is the time to plan for the next 10 years. What would you be doing on Mar 16, 2026? 
Me? Well, I would be living on a sparsely populated location (if there is one left till then) and I would be a teacher. And a writer. Please be my guest if you visit the city I am in. And do buy my books ;P 
So, here the deal. Lets come together? Meet each other? If not meet everyone else, may be come back to meet your friends that you spend so many countless nights with, on the dome, on the steps of the hostel, the acad block, library, computer centre and of course behind the closed doors of rooms ;) 
So what if we are older now? I am sure there is some fire left in the belly. And that little fire finally succumbs to a slow, painful, nondescript death brought about by years of monotony, how about a meet up? I am sure there will be reasons, excuses, spouses, deadlines, missed connections, red-eyes and all that troubling your brains but it would be fun! 
Guys, time does flies (Tomorrow never dies) and it goes away fast. Next time I send something like this out, we probably would be 20 years out of MDI and as Sharma told Gawri, "it would be a miracle if we are alive by then." Lets do this. For you. And for I. And for us. 
Thats' it guys. 
Oh, one more thing! Thank you for such an amazing time at MDI. Whatever little I know, whatever little I do, all of it has happened because I was lucky enough to be at MDI and more lucky to have you for company. 
Love, Regards and Headshots
Saurabh "MML | h!+m4n" Garg 
P.S.: Thanks to Gawri for reminding me that we're ten years out of college and Ketan for confirming. And guess I've seen too many movies. 
I have set this form on Google where I am asking you for your location and contact details. Please do fill in if you are keen. https://docs.google.com/forms/d/1hDAfjywcF0r6UPgxToB-R58lxSpScNPFPkpx9YxYmr4/viewform

Why the fuck...

So it's been some time since I've written. Last post was on Feb 23 - that time I thought I was going to die. But as I've found out, I am not! And if I am not dead, why the fuck have I NOT made a post on my blog? Or written anything else? Why am I even alive?

Two weeks. I have no excuse to be honest for not writing. I know I was busy. I know I was travelling. I was unwell. I know I was fucked in the head. But then, that's no excuse for not writing.

In an alternate universe, in two weeks I could have written 15000 words. And in 6 such two-week pockets, I would have written the next book! Like Charles says...

Source: Unknnow. Found via Google Image Search

Now that we are talking about book 2, ladies and gents, I know its long overdue! It was to hit the stands last december (2015) but I am nowhere close to even completion. I am sure my publisher has given up on me. However from what I hear the first book is no longer hardly available on any of the online bookstores (the wait time to get delivery is 10 days). So the first print run of 2500 is almost over - I guess. So may be there is a reprint sometime in future. Depends on the publisher. Let him take a call. I've done my bit by writing it.

Coming to the next book, lately, a lot of people have started to ask me about the status of my next book. May be they genuinely enjoyed the first one. Or they are genuinely concerned about my writing career. Or they dont have anything else to talk to me about. Irrespective, I need to uphold their trust and faith in me. I ought to write. If not for them, then for myself.

So there. I will ensure that the book comes out before end of this year. With or without a publisher. Wish me luck!

The Aviation Abnormality

Funny thing happened. I must have taken some 300 200 flights in my life, including 11 in this year alone - thanks to my job as an event manager. And I have never been scared. Even when I took my first flight when I was at MDI.

But for some reason I was scared of this one (I am actually writing this while I am aboard 9W 304 and so far so good - not a single bump so far).

So, why am I scared of this one? You see, I am someone who believes in signs. And I believe in vibes. And feel. And for some reason, I have this really strong feeling that this one isn’t going to be the nicest of flights that I’ve been on. Don’t ask me why, don’t ask me how I know it. I just know. Of course I am often wrong and so far I’ve been proved wrong. Hope I continue to remain wronged till I land. And I post this. I did!

The sign actually came up the day before. There are times when I remember my dreams and day before I saw this weird dream where I was on top of an aircraft for some reason (top as in on the roof of an aircraft that was in the air and doing its thing of flying 30000 feet above the sea level). The aircraft I am on top of, suddenly takes a dip and it eventually crashes into the sea (yes a sea). And as it crashes, like it happens in the movies, I jump off it just at the right time to escape unhurt. I don’t recall the rest of the dream exactly but there was someone else who was on the roof of the aircraft and escaped with me. And I remember pinching myself to check if it were reality and it did feel like real. Damn the vivid dreams.

To cut the long narrative short, I escaped. And for the last 24 hours, I have had this lingering feeling that I am going to be in a place crash. And I was scared before I boarded this one. I am still on the aircraft and I am still writing and it still is pretty smooth so far. But before I boarded, I was scared. Scared out of my life. I actually thought about cancelling the flight - but I cant. I need to earn money to stay afloat. I am paying a lot of money to be able to attend a meeting that can potentially lead to work.

In fact I was so scared the whole day today that I had planned for my folks, my sis and sgMS after I am gone. Though sgMS doesn’t need me, I still ought to think about her. I even thought about the airline I was flying with - Jet Airways. I checked their safety record, thankfully I could not find any reports of a missing Jet Airways jet, unlike the Malaysia Airlines.

The flight is not over yet. I am not done yet. If anything were to happen to me, please see this link. The post has my last and final will that I wrote in all hosh-o-hawas. Mr. Gawri, please ensure that you execute it.

Update: As you would've guessed, I did land safely. And here is the post, almost unedited. Guess the dark cloud is over. And trust me guys, I am super serious on this one - while I know that commercial aviation remains the safest most of mass transit, I did feel weird getting into the aircraft. But as I did get in, the familiarity with so many previous flights took over and gave me this sense of comfort. And here I am!

And while we are on the subject, please do read this blogpost by my writing guru.

Untitled - 11Feb2016

This is a follow up post on my previous one about an event. For the lazy ones, on the last post I spoke ranted about how I loved working on an event after almost two years.

So, the event happened, with some changes (1-day instead of 3, less complex, more stressful, higher expectations, unfamiliar crew etc.). And I loved it. For the simple reason that I was on my toes for two days. I could see things happen - instantly - no waiting for approvals, no red tape, no jargon. All action. And then, I was on the top. I could tell people to move their ass and I could see things happening. I was in control. I was talking to different kinds of people - client (had to be polite), vendors (had to be tactful), workers (had to be rude), the hotel staff (diplomatic) and each kind of person had their unique backgrounds and experiences.

The show was a very very simple one in the end. A VIP speech, some awards to guests, a dance troupe and thats it. No frills (compared to elaborate things I did while I was at Gravity). So, may be I am making a mountain out of a mole. But it was important for me. I egged on RG to take up the project and told him that I will deliver it to perfection. And I think I did. And its a big fucking deal! Both in the short term and in the long term. Short - last few days have been messed up for a lot of reasons and I needed something to be happy about. Long - I now know that I can pull off whatever shit is required, at least in the events business. May be I need to focus exclusively on it and build it? May be. Lets see.

There are a few unrelated observations though. Let me make a list.

A. I missed the team I am used to working with (read Suvi from Gravity and Dipanker, Solomon, Piuysh, Sanjeev, Pradeep, Meghna, Mrs. Mohan etc - I want to list everyone at Gravity here but I shall not). Since this was an event for a new client, I hardly know trust their team. And I hardly know the client. And I did not know the vendors at all. So there were like a million times when I wished there was Suvi next to me on the console. There was Killa on the sound, Solo on AV, Sanjeev on call for everything else.

Moment I put up the walkie while running the show, I was taken back to our conversations and gossip while running a show.

The craziest realization was that while setting up, everytime I fucked up or I needed some advice, I would call out loud, "Suvi, nahi ho raha, just see this," only to realise that Suvi is nowhere around. I was testing the mics and I wanted the monitor levels to go down, I yelled, "Killa, reduce the damn monitor" and there was no Killa. When I saw someone from the crew fucking up, I missed having Piyush around to get them in line. You get the point. Damn, we were an amazing bunch at Gravity. Dunno what happened.

B. I think I now realize the importance of what I did while I was at Gravity. Wait, let me explain. There are multiple layers to this. I will not digress, but in short, sgMS did not approve of my choice of career as an events guy, she felt I could do better with my life. And I agreed back then. Agree even now. In fact, I even felt that events are sham and why spend money and all that. This time, however, even a simple event like this one made so many people happy, that I am amazed! May be events is interesting after all.

I think at an event, the emotional brain probably takes over. I mean, how many times does a client come and hug you after you have presented him with a brand strategy document? Even if the hug was awkward!

C. I grew up as an events guy. I got into technical discussion and fabrication and design and other things. Things that I always assumed someone from team (read point A) would have done. This time, there was no one to back me up. The people I was working for, they also dont really do events. So I was on my own and I had to do everything. And it was such a learning experience. I realized why Dipanker went out to smoke at least once with each technician before the show.

D. Realised the importance of planning. Things went well because we had planned so much and so hard. Next time on, I am not doing an event without putting this much effort.

Context: At Gravity, events is bread and butter and like Suvi says, "We do a show like this everyday and even a trainee at Gravity could execute it this well, without anyone else knowing about it." So, often we would not put a lot of time or effort in various shows. We would rely on the team to execute. And they did. But I dont have the luxury of a team. Neither I have the luxury of working with people who've given all their lives to events. So I have to be prepared. Because if I do my homework well, I could be content that I put in the effort. But then, do efforts really count? Results definitely do. Digressing.

So, while this one went well, I am sure there will be bad days. In fact I have faced quite a few of those. I can think of two particular incidents when everything failed and the client was left red faced (TKS at Mumbai and MB at Vancouver). Thankfully, there was Suvi to take the heat. Now on, however, there is no Suvi. There is me.

E. I learnt that I still get depressed after a show is over. I dont know why. May be something to with adrenaline pumping out? Who knows.

Anyhow, thats all I have for today's update. As they say, all that ends well is well. This one was well. Have taken my lessons and I shall continue to try.

So, until the next one,
Over and out.

P.S.: Thank you Suvi. Everything I know about events, you have taught me. And you have made me better. Hope to be as good as you some day. And the other unsung heroes of Gravity, thank you guys! Also, Hardeep Sir, if you are reading this, thank you. You know why.

P.P.S.: Thank you RG at V for trusting me and giving me the opportunity to do this. Thank you VG for telling me that you look forward to reading these posts. Thanks man.

P.P.P.S.: Want to hire an event manager agency? Please give me an opportunity. I am at saurabh.garg@gmail.com.

#note2Self: Thoughts as I was writing this...
  • For each blogpost that I write, I dont really have a direction where I want it to go. I spew words and when I cant think of more things, I end the post. May not be a great way to write. I dont think I will be a good writer if I knew of the agenda, the topic or the outcome.
  • My constant crib is that despite my age, I am worried about inane things - like my need to control the outcome, my need to remain busy et al. While people my age (read Mark Zuckerberg) are busy changing the world! 
  • sgMS says that I use the word I way too many times. I this, I that. In ten sentences, I type I 50 times on average. Take this one for example - 8 "I"s in the last three sentences! 

The job I love the most

In one of my recent freelancing gigs, I am working on an event. A full-fledged event with 400 guests, spread over 3 days. Though not as elaborate as events I did while I was with Gravity, this one is bigger than what I have managed, since I've been owner of an events agency (yes I own one - please give me work!). And I am doing this big an event after almost two years. And I can NOT begin to tell you how much I am loving it!

I had forgotten what it was like to have the adrenaline pumping in your veins. I missed juggling all the balls in the air while keeping in mind about a million things that you had to do. I realized I craved for airtime with the CXOs of big companies where I get to see how they think and take decisions. I longed for the informality and long meetings and indecisiveness and funny one-liners like "when in a large group, the IQ of an individual drops to their shoe size!"

Thing with the events business is that you have to be super hands on. You may have a large team and you may delegate everything but end of the day you have to stay hands on. Plus, you get to learn the ins and outs of so many industries that you could give competition to WEB. There is no corporate bullshit that is passed around and there is a lot of action. In fact, there is action all the time. One of your vendors will inevitably miss the deadline, another one will do a shoddy job, third will switch off the phone, the client in the meanwhile will have twenty new weird requests that you wont have the time or resources to pull off, tons of people would simultaneously chase for money, money that the client hasn't bothered to release. And so on and so so forth.

Of course there is the flip side - that you get treated like shit. Since you are not a marketing consultant or a brand manager with Widen or Ogilvy, you are treated like an adopted child. But then thats ok because deep down inside you know apart from this unfair treatment, you enjoyed the ride that it took to conceptualize, plan, run and execute the event was totally worth it. The high you get while you are at a show is like no other. Of course you remain the unsung hero while the world sings praises of the perfomers on the stage - and they deserve all the applause - afterall if they werent around, who'd hire a stage manager?

So, all in all, its a great package and I love it. May be, just may be, this is my calling? Putting up shows for people that entertain them? That allows them to send a certain message to their audience? That makes them happy? That solves a business purpose for them? May be I need to do something like the Cirque? Or like Dataton? Or like Bart Kresa? Or something similar?

Need to think more on this. I am sure answers are around the corner. Till then... over n out. And, in the meanwhile, do read my confessions of an event manager series of posts.

Thank You, Charles

I dont know who introduced me to Charles. Must've been Suds - he only talks about such radicals. Whoever it was, heartfelt thanks to that person. Even though I dont understand much of Charles' poetry, I think I can comprehend some of his prose. Actually, leave alone his work, I cant get the spellings of his name right. I have to look up everytime. Buk-wos-ki? Buk-os-ki? Buk-ow-ski?

The point anyhow is that some of things that he said are phenomenal! Like one of his pieces go, "I wasnt much of a petty thief. I wanted the whole world or nothing."

"I wasn't much of a petty thief, I wanted the whole world... or nothing."
The thing is, this is exactly how I think I operate. Either I want everything, or nothing. In fact, I remember when I was a kid, I was seeing one of Ashutosh Rana's interviews. He said something like, "dil to ada hai zid pe bachche ki tarah, ya to chahiye mujhe sab kuch, ya kuch bhi nahi." I dont even know how old I was at that point in time. But I remember these lines pretty distinctly. May be despite the grey hair bald head I am like a kid, that wants either everything that I can my hands on or I let go of everything.

I dont know if this is healthy in the long run but I know that thats how I am. That is what drives me. I want it all. Or I want nothing. And I am willing to put in effort and hardwork and brains and all that for it. I dont sort of shun away from work but I dont understand why I dont get it all. May be I need to put in more effort?

Exhibit A: sgMS! I have no clue if I have ever wanted anything as bad. No, I am not objectifying her. Yes, I am being selfish. Yes, I love her. Yes, I want to be everything that she wants her man to be and yes I am not even a one percent of her needs or wants. Yet, I want to be around her. Why would I want to be? Because like Rabbi said,
tere bin / besides you
sanu sohnia / my love
koi hor nahio labhna / i shan't find another
jo dave / who'll give
ruh nu sakun / peace to my soul
chukke jo nakhra mera / and indulge me" (via)
No one else gives peace to my soul. Of course I dont do shit to her and no wonder I am not with her.

In fact she alleges that my love is the stifling kinds where I dont let her breathe. I put her under the weight of my expectations and she is not at peace. Pretty messed up. No? These one-sided love affairs are pretty sad. It sucks to sort of shuffle between sleep and reality and seeing her nudging her cheeks to me, inviting me to kiss her. Its great till you can see her, smell her and all that and moment you go to touch her, you wake up to a rude shock.

I need a break. I will take a break. I am going to go away for a bit (Delhi for a week between 12 and 23 - if you are around, lets meet). Everything in Mumbai reminds me of her and I really need a break. May be I need to move away from India altogether? Damn the escapist in me.

Moving on. To exhibit B. Steve. If you know me even a little bit, I am probably the biggest fanboy that Steve has. And I want to be like him. I dont want to be Saurabh Garg. I dont want to be the unique dude that everyone else wants to be. I want to be Steve Jobs and no one else. He is that big an inspiration. I do everything that it takes to reach his levels. I push myself hard. I push people around me harder. I try and deliver the best. I connect with him philosophically - I want the process and proceeds both to be amazing. I can continue talking about him forever but allow me to digress a bit here.

After Steve, I needed a new "muse", a new inspiration, a new Iron Man and this is where I turned to Elon. Unlike Steve who's work was more about pushing the boundaries and making lives easier, Elon is about pushing the boundaries and making lives better (easier vs better). And while I read about what all he does, I often get drifted towards the concept of time and life and space and death and all that. I realise that we are so small, so tiny in large scheme of things. Whatever you may do, will come to an end and you cant do anything about it.

The entire thought makes me sick in the gut. At times I am scared. And I cant even sleep in night. At 33, this is a pretty stupid thing to admit.

More than fearing death, I think I am afraid of the concept of unknown. Everything that makes me - my thoughts, my memories, my longing for sgMS, my dreams, my aspirations, my personality, my friends et al, what would happen to those once I am dead? And if I am going to be dead in the long run, what is the damn point of this life then? Why not end it right now and avoid unnecessary heartburns and other such troubles that I give to people close to me? Case in point sgMS. The days I get to meet her, the days she talks properly to me, the days when I get god vibes from her, those days I am happy like hell. May be I need another session of Vipassana where they try and teach you that there is no you. 

Death in fact has been a recurring theme in my thoughts and my dreams the last few days. The place I live at, it has a board that announces death of every person that resides in the building; and every other day I see yet another name marked on it and a place where that person would be put to rest. Creepy in so many ways. Then over the weekend, I read Reacher 20 and it was about people wanting to commit suicides. Yesterday, a colleague asked me to make my will. Last night, I was craving for sgMS while she was getting drunk and I did not know what to do find sleep. I turned to Quora and the first thread that it showed me was about how a happy, healthy young guy committed suicide without giving any sort of warning to his family and the family hasnt had a closure about the reason why he killed himself. And then in the morning today, I woke up to my maid howling about someone who's killed himself back home. Pretty fucked up man.

I dont know what to make out from all these recent things. From real life to dreams to fiction, I see it everywhere. If by any chance I were to die tomorrow and this is my last blogpost and this holds and legal merit, here is my latest will...
  • I dont have any debts. In fact I am to take some money from some people.
  • All my movable, immovable assets must be given to my parents and my sis equally. My bike goes to Vivek. Everything else to be given to people who may need those. 
  • All my digital data (computers, hard disks, blogs, social media accounts et al) to be wiped. I dont know how would you do it. But I trust Vivek to get it done.
  • My dead body must be reused (parts given to those in need and whatever is left to be given to medical science for research).
  • Proceeds from my book, if any, to go to M. Gawri. 
  • sgMS, I love you. Loved you till I died.  
Fuck, its so funny. I could sum up everything in my life in 6 bullet points. 6 bullet points. And these 6 points have made me realize that things we take so seriously are so so insignificant.

Anyhow, I am sick in the gut and I dont know what else to write. Lemme move on.

Wait. I am not suicidal (just in case you happen to read this and care enough to call and reason and all that). Just that there is just too long a string of coincidences. This too shall pass.

So, if I were the spiritual kinds, I would say that I am inviting death - afterall the thoughts manifest into actions and all that. In fact universe has been throwing death at me. But deep down inside I dont want it anywhere close to where I am. There are indeed so many miles to go before I sleep. And some of those miles with sgMS if not all. Here is a song for her...
I just want to see you, when you're all alone
I just want to catch you if I can
I just want to be there
When the morning light explodes
On your face it radiates
I can't escape
I love you 'till the end

I just want to tell you nothing
You don't want to hear
All I want is for you to say
Oh why don't you just take me
Where I've never been before
I know you want to hear me
Catch my breath
I love you 'till the end
I love you 'till the end

I just want to be there
When we're caught in the rain
I just want to see you laugh, not cry
I just want to feel you
When the night puts on it's cloak
I'm lost for words, don't tell me
'Cause all I can say
I love you 'till the end

All I can say
I love you 'till the end (via)
That's it for the time being.

Onwards to the rest of the day (Dharma) and a lunch with a friend. And then, may be, some work (Artha). And then, may be poker (Kama). As, they say in Purushartha, life is about Dharma, Artha, Kama and Moksha.


P.S.: The way I've moved on from Steve (did I move on?), may be someday, I will move on. Inshallah some day I will come out of it. Some day I will find someone that accepts the way I am.

P.P.S.: Talk of digression. From Bukowski to Steve to Elon to sgMS to Life to Death to I dont know what all. Verbal Diarrhea. But the fact of the matter is, I feel good once I have poured out shit in my head on a blog. I just wish there was someone who I could talk to - about things that I write here. And about things that I cant write here. 

P.P.P.S.: #note2Self: Read more about Purushartha. 

Jan 2016 - Recap

Today's 3rd Feb. I should've written this 4 days ago. But better late than never. 

So the first month of what will be the most amazing year of my life is already over. And it went by so fast, so fast that I have no clue where it went. Yes, I did some work and I traveled to a few places for work, meetings (Sidenote: Must write about the kind of travel I do - for work - which may not be too instagram friendly) and other such trivial pursuits in the larger scheme of things.

Over the last one month, I've had some hits and some loses. Let me list those.

Hits
  • I have finally come to accept that I can live survive in Bandra. Though I spend very less time there, I am ok with it. Its a mistake that I dont want to repeat once the lease comes up for renewal, in September. Also, next time I will be wiser with my house hunt. 
  • I wrote 14 posts in January. Which is amazing. Because each post took time to think, write, edit and publish. If not more than 14 hours atleast. I am back to serious writing and its now a matter of time when #book2 happens. I am so late on it that its not funny. 
  • I am now clear that in this year I will focus on three things - events business, brand / digital strategy business and startups. Well, 'focus" on "three things" sounds stupid but if you know me, you will know that I've cut the list from 30000 things to 3. Which is an achievement. 
Loses
  • Did not make 10 lakhs in the month. Adds to the pressure of making 1 cr in 2016. But I did add a new client that hopefully will give me additional 20% income for at least the next 6 months. At this rate, need to add 20 more clients to be able to reach 10 lakhs a mo figure. And that wont happen without a team! So, I will probably try and get one.
  • Tried getting over sgMS but could not. This is probably the longest running struggle of my life, apart from trying to lose weight. I have tried multiple times but I cant seem to find a solution. The only two things left to try are, a, substance abuse and b, going far far away from here. The physical proximity (she's in Mumbai and her place is like less than 10 KMs away) keeps the hope afloat I guess. 
  • Met Prof Dhruv Nath yesterday and he reinforced what Raj and others have been telling me - that I am a great employee but I will suck as an employer / founder. Funny thing is that apart from me, everyone can see it. And I can either try to ignore what the world is saying. Or leverage on things. I will think more on this.
Thats it. I cant think of anything else. Come to think of it, life is so insignificant. Oh, I have been wondering of that as well over the last few days. I have sort of deep-dived into the life of Elon Musk (this article is a great place to start) and he's making me think on things like life, time, intelligent life, "forever" and so on and so forth. I dont know where I stand on Fermi Paradox or I dont know what impact I am going to have on the world but my belief is now reinforced that our time is limited and we often spend that stupid time on chasing frivolous things that may not really matter. Of course nothing really matters in the long run and everyone, everything has an expiry date. You may even ask what is the damn purpose of living if things dont matter. May be you live for people around you? May be you live for yourself? May be you dont know why you want to live. May be you want to help others. There are just too many may bes. But I do know that some things keep me going - this blog and the thoughts of #sgMS. And the pursuit of enough money that allows me to not be at the mercy of work that I may not want to do.

Also, I realised that I use "that's it" and "so" a lot while writing. May be need to eliminate it?

Also, someone told me that I write as if I am thinking while typing. I dont go back and edit. I concur. I love to see my words spewed on

Going forward, I am planning to take 7-10 days off in February and not do anything and think and sleep and all that. If all goes well, I will be gone from 15th to the 28th (when I goto Goa to play a poker tournament). While I am there, I want to create a model to evaluate if I am doing any better. Some questions that I could ask are...
  • So what has changed over the last time I "evaluated" myself?
  • What has helped me? 
  • Where do I want to be at the end of the year? 
  • How am I doing compared to same time last year?
That's it. Hope I write these every month.

Like always, if you read this and you have something to add, please do share! 

A day in Udvada

At a backlane in Udvada
Ever wanted to travel back in time?

You no longer have to wait for a mad scientist to work on a time machine. All you need to do is pack you bags, dump them in a car and drive about 200 odd KMs to this place called Udvada.

Once you reach there, you are sort of teleported to a different era where the buildings look as old as time itself. In fact the very concept of time seems to be a mirage as it moves so slow that you cant seem to notice the change.

Empty houses line up winding lanes that have more curves than they have on the mountains (except the lane in the pic on the left). Though the houses are replete with signs of life - the odd light bulb is hanging in the porch, the rooms beyond the porch are lit up, allowing light to escape through the tinted glass windows, the reclining chairs are placed strategically at an angle that allows you to gaze at the lane and yet keep you in shade and other such numerous things and yet, and yet you cant see a single person!

Except those two old Parsi uncles - an old man of about 70 and his father, who's may be 90 - that just gaze at other people pass by. Their gaze is as indifferent as if they were looking at a herd of goats clawing at patches of grass on the neighbors' land. May be we are all indeed goats in the larger scheme of things?

Anyhow, so, there is nothing much to do at Udvada except walk the lanes, click pictures, marvel at lavish houses, get astonished at the fact that such a peaceful, rustic, quaint place could house the holiest site for an influential religion. Because all other religious places tend to be a loud celebration of the religion, melee of confusion, dotted by scroungers hoping to find patrons and fat priests, hungrier than the beggars.

Oh I had to talk about this sooner. So, Udvada houses the Atash Behram (the holy fire temple for the Parsis) and is one of just eight such places in the whole of world. Apparently the fire's been burning since 1742 and is the oldest continuously burning fire in the world. The lore goes that the fire is a gathering of 16 types of fires and the Parsis go great lengths to preserve the sanctity of the fire. If you are not a Parsi, you can NOT go in. Tip: No, you cant bribe the guard. And no no no. You can NOT pose as a Parsi and go in to satiate your curiosity.

I am no expert on organized religion but its fascinating to see the extent people push themselves to be able to attach meaning to things that even the modern science has been unable to explain (for example, life and meaning of things).

At Udvada, apart from the holy fire, there is a rocky beach lined with dark soil that is not really inviting. Could be skipped, unless you love sunsets. Or sunrises. Or the number of likes that the photos you click get on Facebook and Twitter. Then there is this huge cricket ground and a football ground that could very well be among the most postcard-picture perfect grounds in the country. Tip: Click a nice one of the ground and you will get more than average likes!

There are a few restaurants that serve authentic Parsi food, which is a delight even to a vegetarian egg-etarian like me (in fact, I am told a Parsi takes his eggs very seriously and an egg is an important part of his cuisine). So do try to have at least one meal at either the Globe or the Ashishwang - we did not go to either - they did not really invite us in.

Not just the restaurants, I got stared down by a lot of other people while I was there. It could be my fault to have intruded in their private place or it could have been my looks. I am not sure but they definitely were not welcoming - which is not a great thing. I was initially confused about uncalled for, unprovoked unfriendly stares but once I got over the confusion and realized that most non-Parsis are greeted similarly, I was ok with it. I have been in more hostile situations and I've been trained to get over the nagging feeling. Tip: Do not enter a who-blinks-first. If however you do, please tell me of the outcome.
 
To defend the trip as a food-laden experience, we did stop at Atithi and at Ahura en route to Udvada and Mumbai respectively. Both the places have been recommend by Rocky and Mayur of HOMP fame. The egg-cutlet with Salli (potato sticks, grated fine and deep fried) was amazing and I'd never had anything like that ever. VG ate some dishes made with chicken and other animals and the dishes were apparently so delicious that we got them packed for our onward journey. I would've gone back to Atithi and Ahura if I were a foodie. Since these restaurants are commercial establishments, the waiters were nice to us and made the dining experience great, reinforcing my belief that economics is what moves the world! Tip, Google search for Atithi and Ahura before you set off. They are not too tough to miss while you are driving down the well-maintained highway.

To summarise, before I went to Udvada I had my doubts but thanks to VG, I went and I loved it. While I loved to walk through the town and soak in the scenes and smells and sounds and all that, I am not sure if I would want to live there. But I do wish I could go back there with a genuine, authentic Parsi some day and enjoy it like the insiders!

In terms of Experience, the trip was a 4 on 5.

In terms of Accessibility, I'd say 4 on 5. Once you cross the Thane Toll Naka, you are on a national highway (NH 8) and thus is a pretty smooth ride. You have to take a left from a certain point and then the road becomes a State Highway and starts reminding you of Goa. Trees line up the road and sunlight plays hide and seek with you as you drive down the narrow and yet well-laden road.

The Cost has to be a 3 on 5. Affordable. In all, we would've spent about 2000 bucks on fuel, 2000 bucks on eating and a 3000 rupee-a-night resort. Expensive but then, what else do you expect from two old men trying to escape discover life?

Signing off!
Saurabh Garg
31 Jan 2016

P.S.: I went to Udvada on the 23rd of this month with VG. Took me a few days to find time to be able to write this but I am glad I did. Also, I am trying my hands at serious travel writing. Do tell me how to improve. I know I need to add more photos - which I will, next trip on. What else can I improve?

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?