Day 4 of 21daysOfLockdown

Day 4. Day 9. Whatever. Point is, I am indoors for a few days now (except grocery runs) and today I just did not want to do anything at all. I mean no work, no tracking, no timesheets, no Asana, no worry of the new normal in a post-Covid world, no stress about what I am eating and definitely no thinking about how I could be doing more in this time that all of us have at hands. 

So I did not. 

It's 7:59 PM in the evening as I write this trust me I have not done a single thing that I would do on a normal day. For starters, I haven't showered. I haven't cooked today (phew! what a relief). I had two Diet Cokes (and the supply is getting exhausted now). And I have parked myself in front of the TV and been on a marathon. I've seen two already, on to the third one as we speak. 

The only thing I'll do is upload a pic on Insta. I don't want to break that streak. 

Oh, and this post. Of course. 

So here's a thread that I wrote on twitter the other day when I was on my way back from Delhi. This was just 2 days before the Junta Curfew drama happened and about a week before the Lemme reproduce it here (and edit a bit to give it more context).

[START]On my way to Mumbai, settled on 11A. A zillion thoughts are clouding my head. Merit a blogpost but because there’s nothing else to do as I wait for the takeoff, here’s a thread. Primarily, me talking to myself. You know, like writing to the dear diary?

1. First things first. What is home? I was born in Haryana. Grew up in Delhi. I lived across India for a few months in tiny spurts. Now settled in Mumbai. Since 2014. Always maintained that Mumbai is home. But Delhi is where I belong. 

Or vice versa. Maybe. 
You know, confused millennial.
To add context, parents are back in Delhi. Significant relations (friends, co-conspirators, business partners, colleagues, loose connections, flings, etc) are mostly in Mumbai. Relatives are spread across the world. Not too attached to them.

Work is primarily Mumbai. All passion projects (except writing that can happen from anywhere) are Mumbai. 

Most importantly, I find Mumbai conducive to my lifestyle - professionals, creative kinds, hustlers, convenient, etc.
So, Mumbai looks like home. No? Maybe. Maybe not. 
You see, confused millennial.
2. Why am I going back to Mumbai? 
Isn’t Mumbai my home? But then home is where your people are. Or where the work is.

Most of the people that I want to see often (even though they are a mere handful) are indeed in Mumbai but are self-isolating. So physical proximity doesn’t really help. Plus I am not the video calls kinds. I love my handshakes and hugs and pats on the backs.

Work has come to a grinding halt. You see events and films. Marketing consulting is getting fucked as well. Slowly. Thing is, what I do is a discretionary expense at best. After all, everyone “knows” marketing. Yes, I do add value and yes it’s important. But a lot of it requires F2F interactions to deliver. But in times of Covid-19, these would get few and far between. As they say, winter is coming.

So there’s no real reason to go to Mumbai. Or stay back in Delhi for that matter. Thing is, life as we know it, will change. This IS the black swan event that @nntaleb has talked about often.

3. What about my people? 
I don’t know. While am a very benevolent, empathetic person, I have less than 5 people that I really really care for. The kinds I'd considered dying for. These 4-5 will be ok. And they anyway don’t rely on me for anything apart from emotional support that I am not too good at giving.

The larger community, world that I want to change, make better, I don’t know what would happen to them! And come to think of it, they don’t really know me. And I don’t do zilch for them right now. I just have a vague idea that I want to make this world a better place. Too much wishful thinking. 
You see, ambitious millennial. 

What about work? 
Well, post-Covid, people like me that rely on conversations and meetings to earn our bread would be forced to re-look at how we work. This is already happening in less than 10 days since I wrote this. 

My strength is opening doors with strangers and connecting them with others (people, ideas, etc) that add value to everyone. You know, scout. Or a connector, if you will. In the post-Covid world, this skill will move online. 

And I suck at that! 
My work will change. 
The way I work will change. As a result, my lifestyle will change. In fact, am already thinking about the next steps with life. I haven't trusted a lot on savings and it’s a hard and long few months ahead of me.

Of course, things may come under control soon and all this may turn out to be the musings of a restless mind that is bordering on paranoia. But this incident has made me look at the very assumptions that I’ve made to build my life. Need to think about things that will make life comfortable and better in times to come.
[END]

I hope that made sense. How are you coping up with the lockdown? What's your defense mechanism? 

And with that, that's it for today! See you tomorrow :) 

Previous posts in the series - 1, 2, 3

Day 3 of 21daysOfLockdown

Today, after ages, the things I've been cooking for myself started to taste like food. And more importantly, look like food. You know, to me, the taste is a state of mind. I can happily eat the blandest and the spiciest foods ever. I think I became like that when I went to MDI for college. The food at the mess was great for a couple of times and after that, the taste buds just died. Like died. To a point that even a trip back home will not when my mom would make some amazing food would not give me any joy. 

But that's that. The thing is, I never imagined that a time would come when I would have to cook and clean for myself. To me, the availability of a domestic help was as much a guarantee as access to air and water is. Was. Of course, it is not true anymore. As we have seen. 

The thing is, I don't mind these chores at all. I am ok to work in the kitchen and all that. The challenge is that I want to use this downtime for others to create something lasting and sustainable for myself. And I want to believe that if not for all the chores, I would've! 

In fact, my life has been thrown upside down. I suddenly have a lot less time on my hands. And while I do practice the guitar and tinker around with Wordpress, I am simply unable to do anything else. And there are just far too many chores. I hope I lived with full-time help or something that would take care of things. I now know how all the rich ones can do so much when all the poor ones can not! 

Anyhow. Enough of rant. I shall do what I have to. 

So, I started SoG today. Been meaning to start for a while. Let's see how long this iteration lasts. Taking lessons and cue from last time around, I am not putting any pressure on myself about content, frequency and all that. I will send as and when I feel like sharing something. I just to make my mind about what goes on this blog, what goes on SoG and what goes on LinkedIn. And to be honest, I am glad that I have an audience - even if its small and a smaller number reads what I send.

Apart from that, I did talk to Suresh for a bit about #book2 and I don't think it is going well. The poor guy puts in a lot of effort and I am disappointing him with all my inaction :( 

Thing is, in terms of how the day went, not really happy. I cant be. It was almost 12 before I could start anything productive. And it's scary and sad at the same time. If at this time when everyone has all the free time on their hands, I can't find the time to do things that I've always wanted to, when would I? I think I need to be more disciplined. 

While it's day 3, for me, technically, its the 8th day. By now I should've been accustomed to the din of life where I live by myself. But of course, I am not ok. I can't wait to get back to normal life where I would not waste time on chores. And will have more time to work on things that I like. Or will I? Time shall tell! 

Previous posts in the series - 1, 2

Day 2 of 21daysOfLockdown

Today is Day 2 of the lockdown. And like yesterday, I cooked for myself (once, made a large pot, to be eaten multiple times during the day), did the bartans, did some safai and then after all that tried to get some work done. And no, I did not get a lot of work done. This is probably the first time I am doing all these chores by myself and no, these are not fun. These are not for me. Of course all the respect to people that manage all these AND other things alongside. I cant. Not even to save my life.

Here's a salute to the ones that do!

Moving on.

So because there is nothing important happening, I have a lot of time to think about things. And the mindless chores are making me get into that diffused thinking state where you let your mind wander about. And I have realized that this is the kind of idyllic life that I've always wanted.

In that ideal life, I would wake up without an alarm, in an empty bedroom. I would not have pressing engagements that expect me to reach a certain destination. I would start my day with some thinking, some warm water, some stretches, you know, coming to life. And then get to work. And then spend the day learning (today I did some), creating (today I did some) and connecting with people I care for (today I did some) towards the evening. And then wind down and sleep for like 8 hours or so. Of course all the bills, chores would be taken care of.

And this lockdown is making me do EXACTLY that. Just that the dream of becoming a rich and powerful man will have to be kept aside. Or may be when I am bored with the idleness, I could whip out my Ferrari and drive to the nearest city, pull off a caper, holiday at an exotic destination and then come back to the easy life. No?

But, SG, what about all those dreams and ambitions that you have?
Oh, those... do they really matter in the grand scheme of things? I mean look at us now. We are stuck in our homes with no hopes for the next 3 weeks!

But, SG, if you were indeed as rich as you want to be, you wouldn't be stuck here! No?
You are right. I wouldn't be. I would probably be at a secluded, landlocked island, chilling on the beach - eating, sleeping, creating and making merry.

There. I said it.

Sigh! 

So moving on. 2. 

The other thing that is remarkable and happened today is that I broke my phone. There is this large green patch on half the screen that won't go away. And I can't type on it. And I cant tap on it. Basically, it is useless. I will have to get a new one. Which I can only after the lockdown is lifted. Which is the cheapest iPhone right now, by the way? 

The bad part is that I will have to spend a mini-fortune. Unless I am ready to move to the Android universe (which I don't want to). The good part? I will probably spend far less time on the phone.

Moving on. 3
The best part of the day was when I saw this TED talk about how to learn in 20 hours. The speaker, Josh, postulates that you can be above average in any skill in just about 20 hours of deliberate, regular practice. Keywords - deliberate, regular. Inspired by him, I have picked up the guitar. Let's see where I reach. Today was day 1. So yeah, 20 days to go.

That's about it, I guess. Day 2 (which is technically day 7 for me) was a mixed bag but exactly the kinds that I want for myself - just need to find some banks to break-in to and super superstars to date and some countries to own :)

Stay safe, stay sane, stay healthy.

Previous posts in the series - 1,

Day 1 of 21daysOfLockdown

Hola!

We are in a lockdown for the next 21 days. And that means that I am away from all the people that I care for and talk to and want to talk to and like to talk to. And that means that I am by myself for the next few days. And that means that this is the closest I will ever come to being a Forrest - you know live by yourself? Of course, I have a comfortable house and a laptop and a refrigerator full of Diet Coke and an Internet connection that allows me to talk to people across the world and a smart TV that has Netflix on it and all that. But still, I will not have any human connection at all. For the next 21 days. I mean, except the occasional grocery runs that I would make. But then those humans are not humans you know. I mean they are not friends. I don't crave for their touch on my skin. I don't want to sing them a song. They don't see my shenanigans. They are the Amy, Lenord, Raj, Howard, Penny, Bernie and whoever to the Sheldon in me! You know what am saying?

Anyhow.

Now that I am in the lockdown, I have no clue what to do. I anyway had little to do when I was able to be out and about but this forced seclusion is not really cool. I crave independence and being the master of my ship and all that. I know that I need to stay away from the world. I know that we need to stay far from each other. But then I don't like the idea of getting forced to stay indoors. Of course, this is for the others that do not understand this but I don't like getting slotted like that, among others.

The thing is, there's no other option. I can either crib about it and write fanciful pieces of texts about it. Or I can use this time to do things that I've always wanted to. In fact, in VG, in one of the conversations, last night said,
"This lockdown will separate boys from men. People who dint do things on their list like working out, reading books, Learning a new thing due to lack of time..if they don’t it even know..they should stop bullshitting themselves" 

May be this is my opportunity to test if I really want that book that bad!

So, I will take his advice and see if I can do what I have always thought I'd do if I had the time. While it's a long list, the top of it would be #book2. Let's see if I can push it out of my system as we stare at at least 21 days of disruption.

Plus, apart from the book, there are quite a few things that I've wanted to do all my life. this is the perfect opportunity. What I need to learn is accessible on the internet and I have a lot of time and there's no one to disturb!

Plus I think I will try to adapt to the non-digital life. In the sense that I will try to move all my timekeeping, thought and all that to a notepad. I already have one where I've been logging in my thoughts since 20th March (the day I went into self-isolation. And no, grocery runs do not count). It is incredibly tough to not rely on the convenience that technology offers but I will try.

Let's see if I am a boy. Or a man.

With that, it's over and out. Oh, and one more thing. I will try to write every day for the next 21 days. Today was day 1. See you guys tomorrow.

Day 3, Self Quarantine

Today's day 3 of my self-isolation, imposed on by the government because there are people who do not know how to take precautions. Well, issues of living in a democracy, which otherwise is not a bad place to be at. I mean I'd rather be in a democracy than a dictatorship. At least I have some semblance of rights.

Yeah, rights.

The very rights that have made you jailed in your own house.

Anyhow. So, when I decided that I will lock myself in (ok, I did not decide - I did not have the free will - the government made me), I decided that I would try and write a book about my experiences with seclusion. But of course like all the other grandiose plans, this one had its share of challenges. And three days in it, I can see the writing on the wall - "the experiences of someone forced to stay indoors" is not happening. Not because I dont have the time for it - I have all the time in the world now. Just that I dont see a new insight or anything interesting to record. Even if I were to make this a memoir or something, right now, not sure who would be interested in reading that I now log-in every morsel of food I eat or the chunks of time I spend? Apart from today. Actually third day is the worst. The first day you are all gung-ho about shit you'd do to change your life and all that. By second day you are feeling great. But on the third day, you realised that all the effort you put in was futile. To a point that you give up. Today was the third day and thus everything that I did in the first two days went for a toss!

Well maybe I will start tomorrow all over again. You know, like a reset? Day 1. It's always Day 1.

Until tomorrow!

AR Rahman Live. Lessons from Shanta Gokhale. And Riyaz.

So, last weekend, I had an opportunity to see AR Rahman perform live. And thanks to a friend who was there to manage a part of the event, I had the best seat in the house. You know, the one at the console and next to the stage? That! And I have to say, it is worth all the hype. The guy is a genius, a magician and everything else that you have heard about him.


He did a Sufi music set and while I could not understand a lot of it, I could see the amount of hard work and dedication it would have taken him and his team! They performed in Hindi, Urdu and some more languages that I could not place. I am guessing Arabic. But I would never know.

The point is, while I was there and even though I could not understand what he was saying with his songs, for once I realized that music does transcend boundaries. Not everyone may understand the sounds and sights and the voices and the narratives but the music allows you to communicate without words. When they were performing, they had their eyes closed in prayer, their heads were covered, the hands folded and all of them were barefoot.

There is this reason that they seemed to be chasing with their songs. There was this orchestrated rhythm to what they were doing. They were not merely performing, they were in this zone where they were meditating. There was this deliberate practice that shined through their songs. In their singing, there was this reverence that you typically reserve for kings, or Gods or both.

And why not? A lot of Sufi music emerged where these singers and preachers and practitioners will sing songs of kindness, forgiveness, and praise for God. The songs talk about how the almighty is kind, gracious, caring, forgiving and more. And often they would compare their kings to God! If I could use a Hindi (or is it Urdu?) word, the songs are meant to shower tareef on their beneficiaries. Both, spiritual (God) and financial (King). 

If I could decode the songs and the meanings, I would probably find the connection! 

In fact, one of the crew members from backstage told me that ARR does a recitation of Namaaz every time he goes up on stage. I am not sure if this is correct. But may I say that I am inclined to believe? It sounds like truth. After all, there is so much feeling of peace that, sort of, dawns upon him (and the audience) when he is singing! 

Thing is, I love these traditions. These norms of how they'd work together. They add meaning to what you are doing. The traditions also help create this bond between everyone that is a part of the entourage. You know, the backup singers, the musicians, the technicians, the support staff and more. After all from what I can estimate, it would have taken more than 500 professionals to make ARR sound like God! 

Traditions help instill discipline. Traditions help navigate the unknown. Traditions help ease the new ones into the fold. Traditions help the old ones grow taller in stature. Traditions is what separates great from good from average to poor. 

And why not? After all their music, their work is a thing that is bigger than them. Their work, their songs give words to prayers that everyone else may not have had. Look at me for example. There are so many things that I feel so strongly about and want to say them in so many ways and yet words fail me all the time. To a point that I feel helpless and stifled. I am sure I am not alone, no one else is. The uniqueness of an individual and even thoughts is a myth. I often come across terms and phrases and expressions and ideas and incidents that help me describe things that I can't find the words for. Music, I think does that. It gives a medium to communicate. And just for that one thing - giving others an ability to communicate - is a large enough reason to ensure that music is deliberate, disciplined and follows the norms and traditions. 

I think this is true for all art forms. Music. Painting. Writing. Acting. Even the newer art forms like photography and others. Just that the impact that an AR Rahman and his troupe singing live can have on you is so large, so lasting that so many thoughts strike you with such a velocity that your brain jolts from its perpetual slumber into a whirlwind that can lift you higher and take you farther! 

Oh, and as I end this, lessons for me? Well, two. 

a, Need to add deliberateness to what I do. This is also what Shanta Gokhale Maam told us at unBlock105. Read more about it here. She said that every line, every sentence that you write must be a deliberate act. Something that you are conscious of. Something that you know you are working on. Each attempt at writing has to like your riyaz, your sadhana, your deliberate practice that you do NOT miss for anything. 

I need to think hard about it and do it. 

b, Need to create traditions in how I work. If I am writing, I need to find a way to start with something that allows gets in the flow. If I am going to talk to people, I need to remind that I need to be kind when I talk to them. If I am thinking of a thing, I need to first take a deep breath before I start. Of course, all these are examples. But I do hope that you get the drift. 

With this, over and out. 

Do consider attending one of AR Rahman's concerts. It could be life-changing! 

#untitled - 160220. This too shall pass.


Its been a while since I wrote an untitled piece (the last one was in Nov last year). Thing is, there's way too much going on in my head and I don't know who to talk to and thus this post. Super ranty. Read at peril. Ignore if you can. And why am I writing? Clear my head. Archive my thoughts. Throw my intent in the universe. 

So, this is one of those days when I have a mile-long list of things to do and almost no energy to get any of those done. I mean I have all the energy of a child to move around, walk fast, talk faster, think faster than all of the above. But I don't have the energy to open my Asana and start knocking off things from it. You know, there's way too much work to even think about working.
Guess you know the feeling.
Or may be not.
Anyhow.
The point is, I have a lot to do and no energy. And I can't seem to find it. I don't know why. I get inspired by the largeness of ideas, the awesomeness of people and opportunities that are so much in abundance. And I know that I am at an amazing place and the timing is amazing and I have the will and inclination and all that. And yet, for some reason, I am poor and stuck. Stuck as in I am still a nobody. Stuck as in I still have limited capital. Stuck as in I don't know how to break the shackles of helplessness. I feel that life is moving past and I am stuck at an obscure corner, with no ride to ride on. Ride to ride on. Lol. 
You know, FOMO!
I know I shouldn't but I am afraid. Of missing out.
And I know its a fleeting feeling and this too shall pass.

If there is a trough, this is the deepest ever I've been. And while I know that this too shall pass and I will eventually come out of it, this feeling of getting stuck is not cool. And not cool is this feeling of helplessness. I don't know what to do to get out of this.
And I am fucking up at multiple levels.
What multiple? All levels.
Everything that you use to measure your life, I am fucking up!

I want to eat healthy.
I was supposed to be on this vegan and sattvic diet - I subscribed and all despite it being an expensive idea - but I am unable to keep my hands out of large plates of food. I am eating like a dude who's just come out of famine. May be, in my head, subconsciously, I am staring at impending starvation and thus eating all that it can lay its hands on?

I am supposed to meditate.
I try and sit down every day but I am unable to concentrate. With all the bells and whistles that I can manage (you know, an app, silent and cold room, etc). And yet, I can hardly concentrate.
This post that I am writing right now, I have this window open for more than half an hour and I have typed less than 200 words. And I have posted a photo on Instagram, opened numerous WhatsApp conversations with people that don't really care if I have a conversation with them or not, replied to a few emails and judged these three kids at the Starbucks where I am sitting. Why Starbucks? Because I can't seem to sit at home. I need to make a den for myself that is me. And no one else. And with the kind of money I have, it is impossible to have a den per se. A roof is a luxury. And I have just grabbed water and all that from the bar. 
All in the last 30 mins. If I could concentrate, I could change the world, you know! Remember that thing about the dude asking for a lever long enough?



I am supposed to get fitter.
I know that I need to start yoga, go for a run, climb 100 flights a day and do other such things. I am unable to do even one of those. Of course, these are merely tiny steps that I need to take to be able to reach my ultimate goal - climb the Mt. Everest and run a marathon. But I am not fucking taking those steps. I don't know why I am unable to.

I am not being a great contributor to the community. Or my family. Or my people.
They need emotional, financial and life advice and I don't have what it takes to give any to any. I've always imagined myself to be that strong pillar that allows everyone around to take shelter. Ok, shelter is not the word - support is more like it. But I see myself as a pillar that supports and enables people to climb higher. But here I am, leaning against nothing but wind!

Things are not that bad, to be honest. May be they are - since I am talking about myself, maybe I am biased?
I do know I am not doing well. Except for putting up the facade when I meet others. And they may seem very well be if you look at em from the perspective of those that look up to me (if there are any). But on the standalone, unbiased basis, they are not. I need a fucking intervention. I don't know which one. Devine? Medical? Spiritual? Don't know.

I am lucky to have the option to live my life in a way I would love to - I am mostly the master of my time, my office is at a walking distance from home, a tiffin service delivers food (and that ensures that I don't have to think about what to eat), there is a maid that knows what to do. Everything is on autopilot. But I am struggling with work and I haven't been able to crack this piece - mostly a result of my inability to generate new business. And like all similar things, it's a vicious circle - I need money to invest so that I can generate business. And the business thus generated would throw more money at me to invest in more people, processes, and things that allow me to generate more business. You know what I am saying?

I need to create opportunities - work and otherwise and I am unable to make any headway with that. There are other business things that I am a part of that could start moving fast and give me access to work. But I am stuck because the ones that are supposed to lead those things have other priorities. Of course, I am to blame. I have entrusted my life with them and if they have other things happening, I need to move ahead. No?

Ok, Eureka!


Thing is, as I was writing this, something occurred to me. This is why I love writing - answers often dawn upon you; plus this is a great way to emulate conversations with others and I think the best when I am talking to others. 

So, what if I am merely drowning in the pool of misery that I have imposed on myself? In the sense that I can see the effects of my inability to get work (less money, stress, inability to support others, etc). But I am not seeing the cause. I have been reliant on others for far too long. What if I take things in my own hands? I become that person that drives things. That makes things happen. That pushes around? Moves the blocks till I find an answer!

Plus, if I reflect on the last few days, I've had a very erratic schedule - I am sleeping at odd hours, doing things that were not planned and taking way too many breaks. I can blame those on all the meetings that require me to criss-cross the city. But then those are part and parcel of life. Irrespective of the time I sleep, I can at least wake up at 5:30 every day and reach work at 6:30! How tough could it be?

Let's do it. Starting tomorrow. Irrespective of what time I sleep tonight. Will set alarm once I have finished writing this piece. No, I am not picking my phone up unless I finish this piece. I did! I could not concentrate. :( 

And finally, if I try and review things that I have planned to do in a certain day, week, month, etc, I often miss those goals (which is ok - I often have stretch goals and I like the idea of impossible challenges) but I don't even revisit the ones that I miss and I don't lament over those. I don't obsess over the fact that nothing is moving. If others can't, I need to be able to move those. Even if its a pendulum motion where I go back to the center after all the hard work, I need to get things moving. I know, I know. The direction is more important than speed. But right now, I am standing still. I am not creating opportunities. I need to do that! I will have to simply work harder than I have ever worked in the past and create more opportunities. It's ok if I am 37. I can still work hard. Like I said at the beginning of the rant, I am full of energy. Lemme put it to good use!

And with this, over and out! Thank you for listening, reading, etc, etc.

Film Review - Parasite (by Bong Joon Ho)

So, last night, I saw Parasite. You know, the movie that the entire world has been going ga ga about? from Cannes to LA to backroads of Versova to online dating forums and beyond!



The film opens on a family of four, the Kims, living in abject poverty (in a basement at the end of a street where drunkards routinely come and puke and piss) and have no hopes or plans for the future. Their phones have been disconnected because they've not paid the bills. And because they don't have phones, they can't get work (after all prospective employers would call you to hire you).

Life looks bleak when suddenly they get this stone that is supposed to bring them prosperity. And true to the charm, it does! Their life changes when the son fakes a degree to get hired as an English home tutor to the daughter of a technology tycoon, Park. From there on, with access to some money, thanks to the son, they start dreaming of a better future and a better life!

Once the son is settled in at a tutor at the Parks, he puts in motion a chain of events that changes the lives of each character in the film - there are 10 key ones (the Kims, the Parks, and the housekeeper).

There is a LOT more to the film than just this. I've not even scratched the surface. But revealing anything more would mean taking away from the experience of watching the film. So, I'd let it go. It's a pity that I cant write a lot about the film without revealing the plot! The thing is, when I write reviews, I try and reveal only as much as the director has chosen to in the official trailer of the film

So, what worked for me?
1. Great story
This is one of those stories I wish I had written! There were way too many twists and turns and surprises that I was on the edge. Constantly. The first half dragged a bit but the story did hold my attention. Repeat. Story. Not the film. As a writer, I was interested in knowing what would happen next.

The storytelling is subtle. Unlike other stories, where they tell you things, in this one, you discover things. For example, you realize that Kims are not the most honest people when they fake a degree to get the son a job. But the story plants the seeds when they do a small gig and try to con the employer to give them more money than they deserved!

The storytelling is layered. For each thing they communicate in the story, there is a deeper meaning which is often left unanswered, unexplored for the audience to derive the meaning out of.

2. The art
The house, uff!
I want to live in that house! It has everything that I love - a large space with high ceilings, minimal, spacious, modern, lot of wood, a patch of garden, airy windows, a secret chamber in the basement, diffused, automated lights, art and what not!

Apart from the house, the basement, the gym and other places that they've used in the film, they are brilliant. You want to immerse yourself in that world. You want to see more of those and yet you only get the glimpses. And that's probably the biggest secret of them all - less is more!

3. Faux philosophy
At multiple points in the narrative and the story, multiple characters use their versions of life philosophy to justify things happening around them. And each dialogue could take the shape you want to mold it in. You can scoff at those. You can like those. You can nod at those. You can laugh and dismiss those. All al the same time!

4. The symbolism
The name, Parasite, itself is such a brilliant tool to tell me what to expect. A parasite takes from others and survives at other's expense. In the world of the film, each character is a parasite of sorts. The rich wife, the successful business, the scheming family, the house help, the guests and people in general. Even the young boy. And it has been showcased so well that you forget that they are individuals. They are what the film is called! Parasites!

5. The contrast between the first and the second half
If I could divide the film into two halves, I'd say the first one is, well, quirky. There are these little schemes that the Kim family plots and plays and executes. There are these little funny incidents that make it a funny, happy movie. And the second, in contrast, is, well melancholy. No, wait. Melancholy is not the word. Its surprising, intimidating, complex. It's unexpected. You are taken down this dark journey that you did not expect when you were seeing the first half. You are half expecting a horror film with ghosts and skeletons luring out from abstract corners of the house. But its nothing like that. It's worse. Better, if I may!

6. The last 10-15 minutes
It is no doubt the best part of the film. It's a force majeure, if I may. It's been shot hauntingly well - you feel the excitement and togetherness and love of the characters (for each other). You also feel the pain and the anguish and despair that they have!

What did not work for me?
1. Lot of open ends. Like A LOT!
When I see a film, I want closure. I want to see each character reach their destiny. Or fail to reach their destiny. I want to see the struggle. I want to know how much they invested and how bad they wanted things. And I want to see a meaty melee where the characters are literally dying to reach where they wish to go!

2. Did not make me invested too much for, for too long
The film failed to give me a reason to stay invested after a certain point in the narrative. And the film takes almost an hour to reach that point. I don't want to write that point here (it will spoil the suspense). See footnote 1. 

That's it.
Just two things. Really. 

Verdict? 
Please do see it. It's a great piece of cinema.
I'd give it 4 stars (on a scale of 5).

Small print?  
Did the film deserve all those awards?
Well, no!

And why not?
Well, a film to me is a story told on the visual medium. And a great story (irrespective of the medium) is supposed to inspire me, inform me, move me, heck, change me as a person! Great performances of great actors do that. When I see a Godfather, it makes me want to be like Don Corleone. I see Dangal and I want to be like Phogat. I see Chak De India, I want to be like Kabir Khan.

Great stories and great films stay with you for your lifetimes. I saw DDLJ when I was a kid and I can not forget, Ja Simran Ja. I saw Uncut Gems recently and I can not get Ratner (Adam Sandler) out of my head. I want to be like him. I want to go all-in on whatever I am doing, live life on the edge, have a mistress that no one knows about and all that. I saw Joker months ago and I want to be like him - you know, not know what I would do if I caught the car I was chasing! I would sing my own song and not tote the line.

If nothing else, the film has to be such a force that it keeps me hooked on the edge of my seat. Like War did. Yeah, the one with Hrithik. That War. There was no story to it and the plot was predictable but it was a visual treat. I had my eyes glued to the screen! I could not NOT see it!

Parasite?
Which character would I want to be? Not sure.
What would I remember? Just the house!
What did I takeaway? 2 hours of great entertainment.
Will I give it an oscar? No!

Truth be told, if the film was not as hyped (because of Palme d'Or and the Academy Award and all the acclaim), I would've come out of the theatre with even more praise! You know I was expecting a LOT more! Like a typical middle-class Indian - always asking for more!

But then, would I watch a Korean Drama if it did not get all this acclaim?
I will not have!
Thanks to the hype I saw it.
That's where I'd leave it.

So yeah, that's that. Do see the film! 

Thanks for reading,
SG

***
**
*

PS: I do want to talk about a few things but that would mean giving away the plot and the story. What I write hereon assumes that you've seen the film. 

DO NOT READ IF YOU DO NOT WANT SPOILERS.

So, I've been talking to people about it and because I don't seem to find it worthy of all the acclaim, I am told that I have missed a few things. Here is a list. And my thoughts.

a, I am told it's like Slumdog. And there is this portrayal of the shocking class conflict - the difference between the rich and poor and all that. Remember that rain? The rich use that as an excuse to throw a grand party the next day when the sun is out and the poor are left to fend for their lives with nothing to salvage! They say its a social satire. Well, may be. Not to me. These differences do not shock me at all. I see that routinely. At home, at work, in public places. A Barista at Starbucks just confessed that while they get a tad more respect at a Starbucks, they still are invisible people that are not important for the world at large. And that's the fabric of the very world we live in. Some are more privileged. Some are less. 

b, When Kims barely manage to escape from the house (after the Parks come back when the campsite is flooded), why couldn't they merely disappear? Run away from it all? Why would the Kims come back to the house? All it would take is to switch off their phones and run away. You know, ghost! The Kims anyway don't have much left that they could be attached to!

c, Apparently, in the end, there is this track that has been performed by the actor himself where he discloses that it will take him 500 years to get his father out. Assuming he can't just barge in and get the guy out. Assuming the father can't merely walk-out at the dead of the night and disappear in Korea. Probably I don't understand the Korean police system. I mean it's fairly easy to commit a crime and disappear in India. May be it is not in Korea.

d, After the Parks come back, there are far too many close encounters between them and the Kims. The thing is, there were far too many of those. And there are Kims find it far too easy to escape. It's surprising that the Parks did not find anything amiss in a house where the Kims were making merry into! It's all too easy!

e, I am told that this is a classic Bong Joon Ho film. And no, I have not seen any of his other films. So, I'd let that pass.


Footnotes 
1, Continued from above.
So, when the Kims have finally "taken over" the Park's residence, I could've left the cinema hall. There was nothing left for me to see. That is where you could have ended the story and I would have found closure and moved on. It would be a great enough victory for them - that they were living in a basement and now they sort of control a large house! That could've been their victory. I would've left the hall, if not for that incessant doorbell. The bell took way too long to ring. Could've made this part crisper, shorter, sharper. Oh, but when it did come, I was hooked! I wanted to know what going to come next. And like I said, what came next, blew my head off! 

2, Some of the fan-posters are brilliant. Here's a collection for you to ogle at. Here is my favorite...

Source - Mubi

Announcing 1000 x 1000

So, I had some time to kill in the morning today - I was early for a meeting (to avoid traffic). And while I was whiling away time at a Starbucks, I got reading. And somehow, I stumbled onto this post by one of my favorite twitter users - Visa

And I was like, Fuck! I want to do this as well. Of course, it would take commitment and I need to think it through and all that but it would be super cool if I did. No? I don't know if I would have time to do it or not. What about making an announcement and not doing it? What about all the other promises that I have made to people and haven't delivered on those? Where would I get the ideas from? Did I not try this multiple times in the past? What about SoG? What about other things that you were working on? Etc etc.

THF FUCK SAURABH!

Since when you got into this analysis-paralysis? STFU! Do it! 

Yeah yeah. 
Here I am! 
Announcing that I would! 

So, I will publish 1000 posts of at least 1000 words each over the next few years. 

Each post will talk about a thing that I am curious about, a thing that I think needs to be shared widely, a thing that I have an opinion on, a thing that I believe that everyone ought to learn. And more! The idea is 1000 essays of 1000 words. 

And why would I do?
  • Well, the "O faaaaaak" went in my head when I read about it
  • Plus this is something that I can easily do over the next whatever number of years I have left. Plus I have things to say. And a lot of those at that. And this project looks like a great idea to blurt those out. Visa calls these vomits. I'd say thought streams.
  • To be able to write these articles, I will have to read, research, think, talk, ponder, make mistakes and more. Each thing will help me grow as a person. Each thing will help me develop something new! 
  • Plus the articles can open more doors for me - serendipity you know. 
And that, ladies and gents, is the big thing for the day. Help me with it, will you? 

*** 

PS: Last night I was talking to a friend about the creative process that artists follow when they create their work. She brought up the Oscars acceptance speech by the director of Parasite and how he mentioned something like creative work is personal. And my friend wanted to know how do I choose things that I work on. Since this is the most recent thing that I am getting excited by, I can try and list the process. 

Here it is. 

I ask myself a few questions. If the answers are overwhelming yes, I do it! Here are the questions... 

  • Does the idea make me go "O faaaak"? O Faaak is my way of saying that the idea is so brilliant, so amazing that eyes have popped out from the socket and all that! 
  • Is it something that I can humanly do? For example, while I may want to play sports at the professional level, at the age of 37, can I do it? No. But can I write 1000 articles of 1000 words each? YES, I CAN! 
  • Is it something that would teach me something new?
  • Will it get me more opportunities? 
  • Will I be as excited about the idea in 5 years? I often overlook this question but I must use it more often. For this project, I don't think I will be excited about it unless I see some validation/rewards with it. May be a book? I don't know. 
If I get more than three yeses, I do it. Or else I often don't. 

That's it, Princess :) 

Thoughts from a mehil

So, last night, I went to this musical mehfil, as the curator put it. They had three groups performing their sets. While all of those are fairly known in their circles (of musicians, producers, community, etc), I was unaware that they existed. And I was in for a surprise.

The music was EXACTLY the kinds that I like. Earthy, Hindustani (mix of Hindi, Punjabi, Urdu, Bhojpuri, Bhajan, etc), with meaningful lyrics, played without any bells or whistles (acoustic mostly), by young people (that are not chasing frivolous rewards that come along with success in performing arts industry).

Here's a pic that I took there...


View this post on Instagram

What an evening! What talent! Mad respect for people that put in their blood, sweat and toil in chasing things they’re passionate about. Just like these musicians that I saw today. Thing is, music is one of those things. You know, you could have all the talent that you’re born with. You still need to work hard to polish the rough edges. The three sets I saw today? Each of those collectives (there’s no better word) had polished themselves to so much shine that you could see yourself in them! Thanks @pranitanp for putting this up. I am inspired. Wish I had more that I could support indies with. Someday I would. Till then, thanks @harkat.studios for hosting us. Thanks @beekaybeewrites @yugmofficial and @pranitanp for sharing your music with us. #indie #music #life #love #supportIndie 39/365 PS: When I saw myself in them, I saw a drifter staring at me. And about time, something is done about it!
A post shared by SG (@altsaurabh) on

While I was there, my head had a million thoughts running amok in it.

Here's an uncontrolled stream of emotions thoughts.

1. 
It is sad that there is so much talent and yet they have to live in relative anonymity. What I mean by relative is that they are still unable to fund their lives from their music. They have to supplement it with other things.

Of course, they may be content with a life like that - where they are forced to do multiple things to earn enough to get to practice their talent for an hour each day. They may even be happy about it. I am no one to impose things on them!

Who am I to preach this?

But I really really want to do something to help them! Here's a twitter thread that I just wrote (while the post is about musicians, the thread is about indie artists per se).

2. 
I work in the events business (I do corporate events) and I have seen my share of rockstars and I have worked with them, their managers and their crew. And most are not really the most pleasant to work with. Of course, the fame and rockstar image requires them to be assholes but there has to be this niceness in the world! The kinds that indies bring to the table.

So, I often recommend these indies to my clients. But then I am dissed most times - the audience wants to enjoy and have a good great time when they are at a corporate event. And wants to show off!

I mean with an indie, they may enjoy more (they would be more flexible, accessible and all that) and could have the best set ever. But people are happier with a mediocre set where half the times the singer may even be merely lipsyncing.

Why? Because most people just want to harp about things they are doing in life, on Instagram and Facebook and all that. And a selfie with a star singer gets them more likes on their Facebook than a relatively unknown one. And that is what matters more than anything else.

3. 
Of course, there are varying degrees of talent and performance by these indies. Some are better than pros, some are so bad that I could do better than them. Most are somewhere in the middle of this continuum. In the ideal world, the ones that have made it must support the ones that are a rung lower than them. The run lower must, in turn, support the ones that are one step lower than them and so on and so forth. You know, this chain of niceness has to pass down to a person like me that wants to be an artist but does not have the talent. Someone a tad better than me must teach me what they know. And in turn, they must learn from others that are ahead of them in the journey.

The top of the ladder is not stardom per se. But an opportunity to make a living that allows them to hone their craft. You know, how kings of the yesteryears would give residencies and grants and largesses to artists to roam around free and create work.

4. 
So, I have a finger in multiple pies (books, films, photography, art, travel, etc) and I think I can try and give these indie musicians an opportunity to do more!

Here's a long list...
  • With TRS, we just started publishing videos of conversations. These videos need intro and outro music pieces. What if we get some original compositions for various episodes and share credit with the ones that create? If their work is out there, there are higher chances of them getting discovered. Plus they can add TRS as a "client" on their portfolio and start approaching more people! 
  • With TRS again, we do live events where we have stalwarts from the industry come and talk to a group of aspiring filmmakers. At each event, we could open with an indie band. And then if location and time permits, do a longer set as people disperse. Again, an opportunity to perform! 
  • With Red Carbon, I can mandate that each film I produce, I would have a track by an indie! And not just the track, I can mandate that the musician would appear. 
  • For Podium, on each podcast, I could end it up with a track by one of the artists. Assuming it does not take away from the listening experience. 
  • At C4E, I can start C4E Indie where I could feature indies and create opportunities for them! I could create a podcast, a media property, a talent management company, a brand solutions company and I don't know what all. Ideally, this should be done by a large brand per se, the biggest I am a part of is TRS but then they are about films. May not be a fit. Or may be. Will have to think. 
  • I could create an event on the lines of Sofar Sounds that allows me to create these gigs across the country, invite indie artists and get the long-tail to pay and make the model sustainable. And from whatever little I know, Sofar has been able to raise some seed funding already. How about a clone? May be. Lemme think. 
Of course, all these require money and I don't have a lot of it right now. So, someday!

5. 
When I heard some tracks in English, I could not relate to words. They don't talk to me as well as Hindi and close cousins do. Ditto for a bunch of languages from East India and South India. I can pick some words that are inspired by the language I speak but I can connect with it. 

I've always believed that music transcends boundaries but for some reason, I continue to remain disconnected to music that is alien to me.

I need to be able to appreciate a larger range of music. And other art forms!

6. 
Where tf is the money in this? No art form, no endeavor exists unless there is a commercial angle to it. Not even religion for that matter. You need to feed people. You need to pay the bills. You need to buy instruments!

Someone has to crack it. Could there be a collective that builds a temple or something and everyone just joins it volunteers to run and thus control costs? I don't know man! 

7. 
Music and writing and poetry and acting and other such things can teach you so much and so much better than traditional methods. Must use these more liberally in whatever I do!

8. 
So, for all musicians and artists, there are some adjacencies?

Lemme give examples. There was this pianist that makes money by teaching others piano. There is this painter that teaches others to paint. There is this waiter that writes stories at night. There is this actor that works at a film portal.

The idea is that all of them do something adjacent to what they want to do. And each day at "work" makes them practice and hone their art better.

Can I create economically viable businesses and ideas around these adjacencies? Workshop for actors, coaching classes for musicians, etc, etc.

9. 
Can I link various art forms and create a system per se where they seek help and work from each other and pay each other in-kind? Say, you are doing a concert and you need a poster for that. You tap into this network and get a poster designed. You now owe the network a unit of work. Someone else needs a piece of music and you owe the network one unit and you now create a piece of music that is worth that unit.

Am I making sense?

10. 
And in the end, who even reads these posts? Do you?

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?