2011. What did I get? What did I lose?

Found on This Isnt Happiness
Its that time of the year when almost everyone, including me, is waiting for the new year to begin. I thought it would be apt to take a stock of things. Lets make simple lists.

What did I lose?
  • Lost sgMS.
  • A friend, who has been very close to me for last five years or so (made friends with her, right after MDI I think), who at one point in time was probably closet to me. No she dint die or something. We aren't talking any more. Hope she is doing well.
  • Steve jobs. Not that he was my best buddy or something but I did look forward to everything that he did. His speeches, interviews, launches, ideas etc. Now that he is gone, I dont really have a role model. In fact I know for a fact that wherever he is, if hes there somewhere, he would be making grandiose plans to make that part better. 
  • Stopped drinking coke. I loved coke so much that it was unthinkable for me to survive without it. I haven't had it for 6 months! 
  • Respect for Naukri. This is one of the first intangibles. Before 2011, I use to think that working for someone else is really cool. Systems would be in place, people would respect you for your brains and all that but then I realized its a big sham. Not talking about my workplace per se but been talking to a lot of people about work.

What did I get?
  • <tapping fingers on the table, trying to cook up things I may have achieved in this year>
  • <still thinking>
  • <still thinking>
  • <there must be something Mr. Garg>
  • <you cant be that worthless>
  • <tap tap tap>
  • <arrgggh>
  • <I give up>
Now you know why am I looking forward to 2012 so much? 

That flunky in white shirt

Before I get into more details, lets get a few things straight.
  1. I love wearing white shirts. Especially if they are made of linen. And if they are from Cotton World Corp. Or UCB. So much so that I wear them that often that if I was famous, it could have been my trademark. Much like Steve's black turtlenecks and Jeff's pale blue shirts. 
  2. Of course when you live in Delhi and you work requires you to be inches away from dust and grime and other things, these white shirts would get dirty. And crumpled. And after a while, despite how well you wash them, they would look pale and old. Even if they are new. Even CWC and UCB shirts look old after you have worn them three or four times. 
  3. The way I dress is none of anybody's concern. I like the way I dress and I want to be comfortable. If given a choice between dressing up for a party in a three piece suit where I may get an opportunity to meet a really hot woman vs dressing up in a white shirt and shorts (or a faded jeans hanging low), despite it being unacceptable in any respectable event, I would chose the later. I like being comfortable with my clothes and I dont give two hoots about what others think of it. Well I did change a lot, thanks a lot to constant feedback from sgMS, Rr and Neo's wife. I was like a 100 times worse than what I am right now.
  4. I love my beard. I know it looks bad and is scrawny at best. But I love it. Probably more for the convenience of not shaving every day. I love it so much that I dont mind keeping one.
Now that we have established a few ground rules, let me come to the reason why I was prompted to write this post. No wait, not prompted, but FORCED to write this. I mean no one held my hands and made me type this thing up but I was so furious that I had to write this. 

Today at work, why have I been talking about work lately on this blog? I have never been the kinds to actually talk about work! Anyways debate for a different day. So today, at work, I was standing with my boss and there were some 100 more men behind me in a huge hall working on something. The client, who I may add, is probably half my age and yet probably one-tenth senile than I am, ambles across the hall, points a finger at me and tells my boss, how can that flunky in white shirt dress up like that and come to work. 

The flunky in question here is, me! The white shirt in question is what Rr bought for me. Her fashion sense, IMHO, is better than anyone I have met (including sgMS). Dress up like that means a white shirt, a blue jeans and a pair of white shoes. Work means construction of a huge hall where we had some 100 other men who are lot less fortunate than I and have very limited means to spend on their clothing. If someone asked me, I would have said that I was looking great in what I was wearing. Ofcourse the belt and the socks did not match but thats ok. I am not really fashion conscious and like I said in point 4 above, I dont give too hoots!

It dint piss me off that he commented on the way I dress. I have more enemies that Obama, Osama, Anna Hazare combined for the way I dress. What fucked my head was the reference to me as "that flunky in white shirt". What the fuck! A flunky! I mean I know that I am a nobody and tomorrow if I was to disappear from mother Earth, no one would miss me but I hated being called a flunky. Google defines flunky as
A person who performs relatively menial tasks for someone else, esp. obsequiously.
Am I a flunky to my boss? May be. Did I like being called a flunky? Hell no. Will I do something about it? Ofcourse Yes!!

And thats about it. Really.

P.S.: Fiction! No, really. I mean it. I cooked this up because I dint have no shit to work on today. 

The Rebel of Mediocrity

Police Line. Do Not Cross. 
If you read my blog yesterday, buried deep amongst the other rant was a comment about my office implementing mandatory frisking while exiting AND entering the building. Yesterday was the first day. I just took a note of it and dismissed it as yet another nuisance I had to encounter on my way to office (other ones being traffic, cops, bad drivers, distance, bad musico n FM etc).

But today, the dude did it again. Twice. While going to office. And now, about two hours back, on my way back. And both the times, he had this irritating stupid what-can-i-do smile on his face. And it pissed the hell out of me.

I mean I understand that frisking is for our safety. I understand that the security guard, who does not really have any qualifications to be called a guard (he is more of a doorman), is merely doing his job. I also understand that even if frisking does not check pilferage, it would be a deterrent to miscreants. I also understand that all hotels, airports, important buildings conduct rigorous checks before they let you in their premises. All that is fine. I am a visitor and they must do their checks, if they want to. But here, I am damn bonafide employee. Its like a marriage. Both the employer and I have agreed to work for each other. Both are in a professional relationship. I render my services to the employer and they reimburse me for my time and effort. But that does not mean that I am disrespect. I understand security and data and other things that are very critical in the la la land but dude, where is my respect?

And despite all this understanding, there are a few things that I fail to understand. The first and foremost being how is frisking of my bag preventing me from stealing things? I also cant understand that why is that employees below a certain level are frisked only? Cant the people at CXO level steal? In fact if I were the CTO, I would have told myself, there is no way the security guard is gonna touch my bag. Let me just pocket that super cool Kohinoor diamond that has been fixed on the level to flush the pot. And in a building that houses 60 odd people and as many visitors a day, there a very high chances that no one would ever point at me. I would be rich beyond my dreams overnight.

You know, its plain, simple stupid. Of course its a free market and I did raise my concerns but then, why would I be heard? Wouldn't that mean coming up with inconvenient answers about some petty theft that would have happened in the office 20 years back? And if they did check on it, they would realize that more than the thief, it must be someone else who wouldnt have done his job properly and misplaced it.

Dear boss, the admin manager and everyone else who decided to impose the mandatory frisking, of employees below a certain level, if I may add, the rule sucks. So much so that I am actually considering moving out. Please dont be surprised if the guard finds in my bag, a stolen laptop. And when you boot that laptop, the desktop has just one file on. My resignation. How would that be? Neat!

Like Neo says, all of are mere idiotic pawns! We move when we are told to. We sit when we are told to. No one needs us and yet they need us. And no one appreciates the damn opinion that we may have. And like Hugh says, every pawn aspires to be the king some day! I do too.

P.S.: I think this is the mediocre me who is trying to rebel his way out of the mask of extraordinary that I have adorned. I call this the rebel of mediocrity. More on it soon!

Take your pick!

Steve Jobs. I dont know the source.
Its one of those days when I want to write. I have no clue what direction would this post take and how would it end. But I want to write. And write till I am tired of typing on the really small HP Mini keypad.

So I can talk about my Poker addiction. I am not sure if it qualifies as an addiction yet but I tend to spend at least four hours everyday, almost everyday on playing online poker. No, I dont play with real money. I play with play money and play just the freerolls. Btw, I started a poker blog in 2009. Preflop.wordpress.com. Do check it out.

Or do I talk about the stupid rule that they have enforced in office where they check our bags every morning and evening. I have no clue how can they track all the times during the day when I leave the building and how would they even know if I stole something that is of no apparent value to the guard but still is an important asset.

I can also talk about my new found love AND hatred for Quora. Love the platform and love the fact that it allows me the chance discovery of things that I would have otherwise skipped. And hate for the latest feature that they call boards.

I may even talk about my latest quirk where I window shop for... jobs! Something told me to create a profile on Naukri.com and ever since I did that, I have been flooded with job offers interview calls that promise me a salary package starting at 10K a month and going upto "best in the industry". Some expect me to have my own two vehicle with a valid drivers license. And for the advantage of all the consults who look at my profile on naukri.com, I am not looking out right now. Unless you offer me a three time salary. And your client allows me to keep a beard.

Or I can talk about my wallpaper that changes every 10 minutes. It ensures that there is something new to see every time I goto the desktop. And all these are the images that I have gathered over time, in a folder called imagesBank. These are the ones that I save and then never go back to. With these images on loop, I get to see these. Serendipity anyone? Like right now, its Steve Jobs sitting on a swing. Attached above for easy reference. I have no clue what would it be next time I go the desktop.

I can also talk about recent spurt in activity on twitter (I am @saurabh there). Not that I am jobless again but it just means that I am now back to being what I was three years back. Pseudo social. Trying to track some interesting people and hopefully making their acquaintance. Why would I do that? I dont know. I love quoting Joker on this. So much so that its my twitter profile. It goes... "Like The Joker says... A guy without a plan. A dog chasing cars. Wouldn't know what to do with one if I caught one. I just... do things.". So I do things. I just do them.

I may also want to talk about my latest project. Offbeat Mag. But then it will be too immature to talk about it. I am not really sure what I want to do with it. I shall talk about it eventually. Right now, let it be what it is. An experiment. 

Thats it I guess for the time being. My fingers are freezing. Lemme get them some sun. And now that I have given you, dear readers, so many options to chose from, pray tell me what would you want to know more details about and I shall try and come up with a brilliant post!

Dear Diary,

Last night, I had a dream. In the dream, I was reading van Gogh's letters (primarily to his brother and some to other assorted people) and when I woke up, I realized that though a maintain this blog, use notepads to scribble thoughts and keep notes as text files on my computers, I have never had a diary per se. And the thought of keeping a dairy sounded interesting. Like it would be so cool to know what was I thinking on, say, 9th Dec 2007.

It goes without saying that I enjoy writing and I am big fan of recording things, may be I can put the blame on applications like Evernote, but can I (or should I) turn this obsession of writing into maintaining a diary?

Of course the answer is not easy. Here is a list of questions that I need to answer before I decide on the  diary.
  • Would I actually go back to the diary at a later date and read what was I thinking on a given day in distant past? Do I do that with the blog? After all I have been writing for well over 7 years now!
  • Will the process of writing, give me some clarity about things that are cluttering my head? Both in the long run and the short run? For example, blogging helps me put things in perspective and allows me to meet new and interesting people. Would a secret diary give me some clarity in my head?
  • Would I have time to record my thoughts on a regular basis? Is the investment of time worth the returns that one gets from maintaining a diary? I dont know at this stage. A blog is a no obligation method where I am not reporting into anyone and I have keep motivating myself to write every once in a while. And more so when I dont have any regular readers! With a diary, there is no possibility of a reader ever.
  • And last but not the least, there have been tons of notes that I have saved over the years. I need to figure a way to quickly get them at one place? Preferably on Evernote? How is this important to the  diary? They are not but then if I am going to have a diary, I would want all notes, past, present and future, at one place.
And then there are trivial things like the medium, the frequency, privacy etc.

When faced with these sort of decisions, I need to be able to put some filters in place to help me find answers. Right now, I have a very vague idea about those filters.

Anyways, coming back to the diary, I am not sure if I really really want one. The idea is tempting though. Or may be I would try recording some thoughts on some days and see how it goes.

The final answer, as of now, is No. I may reevaluate it at some other day in future but in the meanwhile I would try and get all my scribbles on Evernote. 

Do you guys maintain a daily diary? If you do, what are the best practices (if I may)?

I wrote this post as "dairy" and I realized that I have used this word like ten times and each place, it was incorrect! Thanks to N for correcting me!

Anatomy of a productive day at work

Today, unlike all other days, at almost 8 PM, I am slightly content about how this day has gone by. I reached work at 11ish. Did most of the things on my todo list (that I made at around 9 before I left home for work), killed lot of time (on random tweets, reading and writing), listened to my favorite music, ate a good lunch, spoke to Neo and my sis and finished the bplan for WML that I had been meaning to write for three months. Like they say, I was totally in the zone and I was loving it. Of course I got bored of all the work and took long and generous breaks. But I always came back to do more things and get more things done.

Anyways, so what happened today that does not happen on all the other days that I am in office? The answer is surprisingly simple! There was no one in office, on my floor. Not even my bosses. Everyone was travelling and I had the entire 800 sq ft of floor to myself. I had no one to get engaged in gossip with. There were no distractions. I could sing, swear, shout, play music, sit anywhere, put my legs up on the chair, roam around, have my tea and do everything with complete disregard to anyone and anything. And most importantly, I realized, there was no one who I wanted to prove to that I was working and adding value to the company. I was on my own! And this I think, did all the magic. I need to be on my own to be able to do things. Merely putting the headphones and listening to loud music does not help!

Now, as I am having dimsums and Maggi (ya, together), reading Uncrunched and playing Poker, I am content about the way I spent this day. If I could chose, I would want to spend most of my working days like this. Remember Kwan? I just need to create more such opportunities where I am trapped in a secluded corner with no one watching me work. And get things done.

Once I crack the right formula, nothings gonna stop me baby. The work on the magic formula has started. Hopefully before 2012, I would get it out of the way. Talking about 2012, as we enter 2012, its time for all those resolutions that we make and conveniently forget by the 15th of January! I certainly have mine and this time, its not a list, but is a whole damn mindmap. So as we step into 2012, I plan to take a large printout of the mindmap and paste it at a place where I can see it everyday. I am even going to give a copy of the mindmap to VK (my agony aunt, mentor, friend, philosopher, bouncing board etc) and ask her to ensure that I do those things. And then, I would freaking go ahead and do those things. Of course I cant really control the outcomes but I can try and maximize my chances of success. And that is what I am going to do.

Like she says, its a sign, I can see the writing on the wall. Just need to get into the zone more often!

P.S.: I just lost 80% of my stack with pocket Aces! Arrrghh!

RIP 2011

Though I dont really believe in pandits and/or astrological predictions, SS02Sep once told me that some world famous pundit has told her that I'd be filthy rich in 2011. This was sometime during the MDI days. Since then, I continuously cribbed that 2011 was really far and I couldn't wait for it to begin and all that.

But when 2011 started, I was elated. My life long quest to get rich was coming to an end. I had some plans, a few vague ideas, a lot of hope and large amounts of desperation when I started the year. And I knew that the combination of all these four would ensure that I do well for myself.

And like all other years that have come and gone, 2011 came and its almost over. About 10 days to go. And I am far away from being rich. VERY far. So far that I'd have to postpone it to 2012. So, during the year, I did get a few opportunities and I did spot them. But then just when I thought, that was it, things would drift away from me. Not once, not twice, but thrice! And apart from work, 2011 made a dent in my personal life as well.

No point getting into details here but 2011 sucked. The entire year. Lost more than I achieve to be honest. Both personally and professionally. Am glad that its almost over. This is one of those proverbial bottoms and from here on things can only become better. Hope 2012 is better. It better be.

And to be honest, if it 2012 doesn't make me, I would have to accept defeat and sink deep in the bowels of regular naukri and thus, mediocrity.

December is here!

Dear Brand Heads, Executive Creative Directors, Creative Directors, Account Planners, Client Servicing Managers and all the other assorted executives.

If in the fervor of all the dinners, karaoke parties, night outs, account wins and people movement, you have forgotten the impending deadline, let me take the liberty of gate crashing into the party and reminding you of the date. December is here! Hit the panic button guys and girls. After all it’s that time of the year again. The time when all of you scramble to find friends, relatives, neighbors, strangers and even mothers-in-law who own businesses. Apart from all the regular work that you do for your regular clients, the time to submit entries for the award shows is almost here. End of December!

I know most of you would be getting into serious thinking workshops. And workshops mean free tee-shirts with funny one-liners in large fonts on the front and giant logos on the back. It also means a location like Goa or Kerala for most of the creative team. And that means it’s time for those flip-flops, spaghettis (or is the noodle the flavor of the season?), cargo shorts, large sunglasses to come out of the closet. Women might want to go to the beauty parlors for their manicure and pedicures. Men may want to start with their gyms. These workshops are serious affairs after all. And so are the party sessions with free flowing booze where you get to hit on that cute art director who you never had the courage to speak to in all these months! And of course you are supposed to write a few award winning ads that could be sent to Europe, Asia and Goa for judging by your NCD and their friends.

Anyways, coming to the point, here is my offer. I am in process of launching a brand of bathing cakes. This is a product targeted at the young (at heart) and discerning Indian. Since this is a handmade product (which means it is actually made by poor village women), it is slightly expensive than the regular soaps made by the assembly lines. This also means that I am not using any chemicals or any harmful things in it. And as a direct result, the cost of manufacturing this is high. And to make some profit, I have to keep the price point a little higher than the best selling luxury bathing soap in India. So you may safely say that the positioning would be premium. Yes, you read it right. Young and Premium. Which other brand can you think of that lets you justify these two keywords this easily? After all this is a prerequisite for making a brand cult. Look at any of those cult brands. They all have had these humble beginnings. So, for this bathing cake, I need a brand name, a logo, packaging and a launch campaign.

I hereby invite all the agencies and individuals to come and present their thoughts on the product. When I say thoughts, I don’t really mean long presentations but I just want one small write up on how you plan to approach the brand. Once you have done so, I shall shortlist 6 of you and let you guys invite me to your offices so that you may present your pitch with spec shots of the campaign that you would create for me. And then, after much thought and deliberation, I shall award the business to one of you. I will do the press releases and create media bytes so that your agency is covered by all the leading websites and magazines. And you could then enter your work, for my brand, to all the award shows and books. I would of course give you a letter proclaiming that you are the godsend creative outfit that helped me launch a product in this very difficult and competitive market. Everyone would obviously know the importance of this letter. No award entry can be submitted without this letter. Clients do get their dues.

And guys, I am damn serious about this. I have this brand to launch and I am running short of ideas to do so. The investor is breathing down my neck and is after my life to do the launch. I will be an awesome client and would not bug you for meeting the deadlines. There are no mandatories and that means you have no thick brand books to read. You can create it out of thin air and I will still approve it. Trust me I am fast with approvals. I am a one man company with me being the Brand Manager, the Marketing Director, the owner of the company and the owner’s prodigal son.

You know, it’s a typical win-win situation we are looking at. You get to do a launch campaign for a brand that could potentially win you lions, pencils, stencils and all other cherished trophies. I get the identity done and get to launch the brand. And did I mention that unlike other ads that you release in December where you pay for the ad space, I don’t really mind spending on the media (in Free Press Journal at Indore, Kolkata, Jallandhar and all the other obscure places where you may want to release the creatives). This may help you sell the idea to your branch head, who, apart from the awards that his branch wins, is also concerned about the profits and targets that have been set by bosses sitting in Americas and Europe.

I have tried to give you as much information I could about the new brand that I want to launch, but if you still need more information, please send your briefing formats (if you actually have a document like that) to me and I shall revert with a brief that you can comprehend and work on.

And one last word. You need to be very fast on this. After all the competition out there is tough and you don’t want to be left behind in blind rat race to win most awards at an award show. I don’t have to extol the career boosting benefits of an award winning campaign. The CVs, they say, are forever. Finally, even if you pass on this irresistible opportunity to work on the next iconic brand from India, just a friendly reminder, December is here!

An Ode to Mumbai

As a kid I really wanted to live in Mumbai some day. Not that I wanted to be a film star but I had heard about Mumbai so much in movies and other popular entertainment devices that I had to experience the place. Somehow some stars did some funny jig and I landed in Mumbai in 2007. This was my first job after my MBA and I had my sis and a few classmates from college who lived in Mumbai. And thats all the people I knew.

So one fine day I landed in Mumbai and boy, was I was glad to be here! One thing led to another and eventually I ended up spending bout 3 years in Mumbai. In these three years I did change my job, converted those classmates into awesome friends, made a ton of new friends, learnt a lot about life and work (blame/credits goes to my ex boss), found this woman who I knew I could spend rest of my life with, developed an insatiable hunger for money, realized that life is more than a 9 to 6 job and pleasing your boss and traveled through the length and breadth of this amazing state called Maharashtra amongst other things. And as a result, grew (or may be evolved?) as a person. All in all I had a wonderful time in Mumbai. There was something about the place that I cant pinpoint that made the city dear to me. So much so that I keep coming back at some pretext or the other.

Anyways, like all love affairs, the crush on Mumbai ended as suddenly as it had happened. I had decided that I have had enough of working for someone else and I needed to take command of my destiny. I decided to move back to Delhi and try my hand at something. Kunal and I started Cyntax (we shut it down in less than six months, more about it some other day). I moved onto another job within Delhi. The thought of finding work in Mumbai didnt even strike me. With time, memories and passions faded and Mumbai became a yet another dot on the map that I had been to.

Today, on a Saturday morning, as I write this, I am in Mumbai and staring at a weekend ahead of me. I am not excited about being here and I am wondering what was it back then that made me alive when I lived here back then. The obvious suspects are people. I had the fortune of making some of my best friends here and every day there was something or the other we kept planning. I hated antics of my friends and yet there was something endearing about them. Not that they arent here anymore but then something is missing.

The other key suspect is opportunities that Mumbai made possible. This was the first time and place where I had the power of bumping into some hot shot and pick his brains. I could meet so many interesting people, almost on daily basis, and rack brains with them. I could think on brands, business, the state of nation and other useless thing. I felt alive with all the useless mental masturbation I was engaged in.

Then may be it was the umpteen opportunities to hit the road. Mumbai is perfect for short weekend trips. You can take your car (or your bike) and practically goto hundreds of places. While I lived in Mumbai, I traveled out on most weekends and explored mountains, rivers, dams, hill stations, roads, people and cultures. Mostly my partner in crime was Neo and there were times when we'd hit the road and then decide on the destination. As they say, we weren't intent on arriving. For us it was about the journey. The roads are a perfect escape from all the miseries. It lets you free your mind of all the bullshit thats occupying your head and allows you to start afresh. It is also a great thinking tool. And since you are on the road and driving, there is no way you can spoil the free thinking by taking notes and scribbling ideas. The roads are exhilarating. Like Red says, the excitement that a free man has, when he is about to start a journey, the travel excited me more than any other endeavor. May be I need to become a Raju Guide or something?

Or was it the freedom? Because Mumbai is probably the only city in the country where you can find public transport, food, people at all hours. And all these are accessible and not limited to a select few. Or was it the beautiful buildings and lanes that crowd the town side? Or the vastness of Navi Mumbai? Or was it the frequent star spotting? After all Mumbai is home to bollywood and cricket and the tryst with so many stars so often only make the possibility of you becoming one, real! Isn't that what attracts most of people who land up in Mumbai? Not the stardom, but the hope. The desire. And the opportunity.

Obviously there are things that I loath about Mumbai (read bad roads, politicians, traffic etc) but I then guess if I could put things on a weighing scale, the bad things would not make an iota of difference to awesomeness that is Mumbai. Like they say you need to be here to be able to see things for yourself. If you havent had the opportunity to experience Mumbai yet, you need to pack your bags and plan a trip soon. Wait, no need to even pack bags, why waste time in frivolities of the modern life? Nomads were so much cooler!

And in the end, thank you Mumbai for touching my life and giving me everything that you have showered on me. And for all the things that you are yet to gift me!

Salaam Mumbai!

P.S.: This post was meant to be a rant AGAINST Mumbai and while writing this I realize I couldn't come up with anything against Mumbai. I think I need to fix shit in my head rather than blaming it on Mumbai.

Home to work, 50 mins flat

Today I created a record of sorts. I reached work in 50 mins flat. For the uninitiated, my home is about 40 KMs from my workplace. And on a typical day, it takes me close to two hours to negotiate the way. Of course Delhi has awesome roads but the traffic and the office hour rush leaves me with no other option but to tolerate bad RJs (except Saarthak on Hit 95 FM) while en route.

I got sgElectra (please follow and spread some love) fixed after a while and for some random reason I wanted to take it out for spin. And I did. And the ride was amazing, I have written about my love for biking in the past, but today, I add yet another reason. Bike is faster than the car! Bike can navigate through small alleys and is not constrained to long jams. Perfect mode of travel in city. May be I was helped by the fact that todays a Saturday and more than half the world is on chutti. And then it was about 8 in the morning. 

BTW coming to work before 10 has other merits. You could plug in your laptop to 5.1 speakers and hear Shankar Tucker, Lucky Ali, Mohit Chauhan and Rabbi Shergill on are-you-crazy levels! As I am typing this, I am listening to I want to break free by Queen.

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?