2014. The year that will be.

John Trever. Via Log 24
Its that time of the year. When everyone gets into the rut of making resolutions for the coming new year. And since I am a mere mortal I have to give in to the temptation of making a list and adding more noise to already existing noise.

Here is my list. And if all goes well, by the end of 2014,
  • I would have published at least one book. Most likely, it would be The Nidhi Kapoor Story.
  • I would be 30" in diameter. I am far more than right now. 
  • I would have saved enough to not work for someone else. Enough said. 
  • I would have learnt to code. Atleast code WP plugins and themes.
  • I would have learnt how to play guitar. At least the 25 most played songs on my playlist. 
  • I would've done all the things that I have listed here. This is a private list, in case you were wondering. 

And everyday, I would do the following...
  • Write 1500 words. Towards a book or towards this blog or towards yet another writing project. 
  • Think of ten ideas. As recommended by James Altucher.
  • Workout for 30 minutes. It could be a walk, a swim, a session of yoga (I attend Yoga Kuteer) or something on similar lines. 

And often I would...
  • Meet strangers. I want to meet one new person a day but I know its tough to do so. I would try to meet at least one stranger a week. I'd call it #meetAStranger or something. 
  • Create and put out a new project once a month at least. This could be a business, could be a text, could be a blog etc. I think I would work on all those ideas that I have saved on my parkedIdeas tag. 
  • Read a book every week. I will use tips from this Farnam Street post to help me reach my goal. 

Thats all I want to do. In 2014.

Come to think of it, at my age, when I should be changing the world and making the dent et al, here I am, trying to write a book. Sigh. But then I guess I need to take small steps towards greatness. The endeavor to make the dent remains. Like Archimedes said, "Give me a lever long enough and I would move the Earth", I will move the Earth. If I dont get the lever, I would make one. But there is no doubt I would. 

That's it I guess. Wish everyone a very happy new 2014. May the new year be full of health, love, luck and happiness.

P.S.: To arrive at this list, I have taken inspiration and lifted ideas from the likes of Steve PressfieldJames AltucherChris GuillebeauFarnam Street and others.

P.P.S.: Need to stop using all the extra "And"s.

2013. The year that was.

So 2013 is almost over. Its time to take a stock of what all I did in this year. In fact this is first in line of many posts that I would hope to write over the next week talking about 2013 and 2014.

In numbers
  • 3 - number of countries I travelled to. Out of these three, one was a new country. Now that I dont have that awesome naukri, firang travel is increasingly going to be tough. 
  • 4 - number of jobs that I have held after I finished my MBA. In almost 8 years. 
  • 100 - the number of posts that I published on this blog in this year. Including this one. Apart from these 100, I have published almost 1138 posts over the last ten years. Yes, its been ten years since I started writing this blog. And a lot of good things have happened to me because of this blog. 
  • 150 - number of likes on my book's FB page. If you haven't, here is an opportunity. I normally do not pimp these links but I am going all-in with the book and there is no stone that I would leave unturned. 
  • 434.50 - in rupees, the lowest my bank balance reached before I was rescued from the sub-prime crisis. 
  • 73 332 - words I wrote for The Nidhi Kapoor Story, my first book. The book is still not complete though. I had hoped I would be able to. 

In terms of milestones
  • May - wrote the first chapter of my first book. I never planned to convert it into a book while I was woking on it but guess somethings are meant to happen. 
  • Jul - took a sabbatical from full time employment to work on my book. And work on the business that I put money in. I am out of it now. 
  • Nov - Roadtripped in US. Covered about 5000 miles in 12 days. Havent had the time to write my posts about this. I hope to do this soon. By January of 2014 I think.
  • Dec - Finish first draft of tnks. I could not. 

The year, like the rest of my life, has been all over the place. In 2014, I hope to change all this and give things a little direction. The big big dream about making a dent is still alive. Would be alive for another three or so years, before I am forced to settle down. And if that happens, it would be very very unfortunate.

The other thing that I realized while writing this is that there isn't much to talk about for the year. I mean there is this attempt to seed and run a business, attempt to write a book but there is nothing to talk about when I look back at the year from a time in future. There have been attempts but there are no outcomes. I need to look towards outcomes, rather than attempts.

Going forward, in 2014, I need to have years that I can write boast about in my biography, if I get to write one! Hope 2014 is a stepping stone. If you are the kinds to believe in God, do pray for me. Guess only thing that can help me, is divine intervention!

Thats it for my yearly report. More posts on 2014 coming soon.

P.S.: I made similar lists in 20082009, 2011.

Reading vs Hearing

Posted originally on The Nidhi Kapoor Story blog.

Yesterday I was dinnering with a friend and talking about The Nidhi Kapoor Story. While we were at it, he told me something very insightful about the way I write. He said, "my sentence structure is very conversational."

I did not understand this at first. When I prodded him more, he said that he meant that when he reads things that I write, he does not have to make any special efforts to comprehend what he is reading (aka what I've written). Its like someone talking to him. Its like a regular, everyday conversation that two people are engaged in. There is back and forth of ideas, thoughts. The words, the sentences, the meaning is plain jane and is commonplace. He said he could consume it while sleeping and yet comprehend it.

So, next, I asked him, "What is the other kind?"

He said, the one where you use flowery language and you write with the intent of using words to exaggerate the meaning, club them with other interesting words to create poetry. Poetry not as poems but poetry as expression. Where, while reading, you need to focus on what is written. Where, when you do comprehend what is written, you are filled with pleasure. Pleased at the ingenuity of the writer. For example, Jack Kerouac's brilliant timeless piece, "the only people for me are the mad ones, the ones who are mad to live, mad to talk, mad to be saved, desirous of everything at the same time, the ones who never yawn or say a commonplace thing, but burn, burn, burn like fabulous yellow roman candles exploding like spiders across the stars."

When was the last time you heard someone use "burn, burn, burn like fabulous roman candles" in a day to day conversation? Unless you were talking to a drunk man. Or unless you were sitting across a poet high on something. Or unless it was a philosopher. Such people, like Jack, they think in rhymes. They ponder over deeper meaning of words. And they have a mastery over human emotions. And then equipped with all this, they coin new words and twist the rules of grammar, rules of language to create masterpieces. It must be such a pleasing sight to see such masters in action.

Truth be told, I would love to create poetry like that. I believe that its my reason, my purpose. To create poetry I mean. But I am not equipped to do it right now. In some time may be. I shall wait. Hopefully you guys wait as well.

And, second truth be told, I could get offended at the entire commonplace and plain jane remark but I choose to take it as a compliment. The Nidhi Kapoor Story is an important milestone in my writing career and I plan to, want to, evolve as a writer with every such milestone.

Anyway before I get into a rant, to summarize, writing is a battle between prowess with words to create poetry vs intent of narrating the story as if you're talking out loud. I am definitely the later kinds. What about you? What is your forte? Writing poems? Talking / Thinking out loud?

The happiness formula

tnks' FB cover
I have spoken about happiness multiple times in past. Its the single most important things that I chase. I know there are multiple schools of thought. Some say its fleeting, some say its a process, some says its the outcome. I dont know all of that. I am not evolved enough to be able to talk about all that.

But I do know something that made me happy today. And I hope that somehow, I can continue doing it over and over again. And its pretty simple to be honest.

All I need to do is to wake up early, take a shower, head to the nearest coffee shop (preferably Starbucks), plug in my favorite music. And write. Write till I am dead with exhaustion. And then eat a lot and then sleep. Yes, I am that simple. All the gibberish talk about starting up, getting rich, changing the world, making a dent etc sound so small when I am in the zone and writing. And not just writing but debating about each work, thinking on the fly, creating, molding, killing my characters. Its a lot of fun.

Just need to make this into a routine, over the next few months.

Nidhi Kapoor BSODed

Posted originally on The Nidhi Kapoor Blog. This is a slightly modified version. 

Unlike most writers, I write on a Windows based laptop. And I initially used tools like OmniwriterScrivener etc to get things written.

But then, as I went along, despite all the rich features that these writing tools offer, I craved for simplicity and flow. And thus, once I reached beyond 50,000 words, I moved my files back to good old Microsoft Word. All was hunky dory, things were great, till the blue monster showed his face. I am talking about Blue Screen Of Death aka BSOD.

The dreaded BSOD
Just when I was writing the climax scene of the story, the computer crashed. And along with it, it took the entire word document. And no, I could not recover it. The word document got corrupted and I tried retrieving it but despite all efforts and all software, only thing I got was a 200 page word document full of gibberish. It was as if my work of the last five months was reduced to the infinite monkeys punching on the keyboard at random.

I have nothing against getting compared to monkeys but what about all those promises I've made to all the friends? to myself? the promise I made to readers of tnks? What about my dreams of becoming a full-time writer? There were a million questions and I hit the panic button. And hit it again and again, so hard that I almost broke it.

But somehow, while I was shitting bricks, I remembered that I still have the story saved as a Scrivener project. I fired it up and voila, I had a large chunk of story there. I had shifted to Word about two weeks back and hence apart from whatever I did in last two weeks, the entire story was there.

If I could be honest, since I started writing the book, the last two weeks were when I made real progress, real breakthrough in the story. I made it lot more deeper, lot more interesting, lot more complex. I added layers and introduced more characters. I even killed an important character and un-killed someone who I had killed in the second chapter. Sadly, I cant recover any of what I wrote in last few days but the bright side is that I was not back to zero. Just that two weeks of my life went down the drain.

Thankfully, the story, the plot and the twists are still fresh in my head. With little extra effort, I am sure I can recreate all of it. Despite the setbacks, I remain committed to my deadline of finishing the first draft by end of the year. And I promise I will.

I dont know who to blame about the fiasco. The old laptop, or the operating system, or all the applications installed on my computer, or all the multiple windows that I keep open, or myself for being so callous about something as important as #tnks.

So lessons learnt?

  • A. Always always always take backup. Three times. And buy insurance. Just that you need to understand the pricing. 
  • B. Keep calm and carry on. I shouldn’t have panicked. Things always tend to workout in the end. 

Someone buy me this notepad! 
Thats it!

And while I work towards writing longer and harder to finish the book in time, do help me spread word by sharing / liking the fb page. I am also looking for someone to help me with design around the book. If you know someone who can help me, do let me know.

And finally, please let me know if you would want to read and review the first draft of The Nidhi Kapoor Story. 

I. Yoga.

Image Credits: Anonymous. Found here.
Ladies, gentlemen, friends, fellow countrymen and other minions of the world,

With one simple stroke, a sheer brilliant one at that, I have done the impossible. I have dislodged Nidhi Kapoors, Arvind Kejriwals, Sections 377, Tarun Tejpals and other such news hogs of the world from their usual position on the top of my mind. And replaced all those with one word. Fitness. And replaced all the thoughts with one thought only. I need to get fit. And replaced all my frivolous actions with one. Chase of personal excellence. Ok scratch that personal excellence bit.

In short, I have now joined a fancy Yoga training regime. And I have been doing it for a week. And I am loving it.

The regime includes alternate day visits to a yoga studio about 25 KMs from where I live, at 7 in the morning. At the studio, I have a personal instructor that spends anywhere between 20 minutes and one hour with me and works on my breathing, poses and peace. All of this, in attempt to make me healthy, peaceful, effective and better.

And if I could make an confession, even though its just been a week, it has been amongst the best experiences that I have had in a long long time. Its been so good that I am wondering why din't I do this sooner. Actually, for the sooner bit, I have no one but myself to blame. I thought yoga was yet another Indian thing that the new media and collective conscious of the modern, evolved, educated world has made popular (other things include naturopathy, homeopathy, social media, Arvind Kejriwal etc). But like they say, if something has to happen, it will happen. I was nudged pushed into this amazing world of yoga and I have been enjoying it immensely.

It did not come easy to be honest. My sis had to pester me forever to go join the classes. sgMS had to consistently ignore my existence and my attempts to woo her back. A cute stranger with beautiful hair and smile had to remind me that I am fat and ugly, when I made a pass at her. My folks had to get angry and inform me of my limited and fast-dwindling supply of money. Nidhi Kapoor had to remind me that I have made no progress, no breakthrough in the story, even though I am so close to the deadline. My body had to remind me that I am not young anymore. In short, everything that I care for, except that stranger with long hair, was gaping at me and questioning my choices in life.

I did not see a way out and initially joined these classes to shut all these people up. You know how it is when you think you know better than anyone else and you do something just to stop all the noises in your head?

In terms of doing it, I do it with all seriousness that you expect from a 31 year, balding, single, almost poor man. The one that starts with pumping a mini fortune, buying ALL the equipment that you may potentially need in the next ten years that you'd do it seriously. And the one that ends next day, at all that equipment getting stowed in crevices and shelves in your house that you never knew existed. You know, I have all the paraphernalia. An expensive yoga mat, a set of clothes made by a brand that only makes and sells yoga merchandise, expensive music bought from iTunes that helps me in meditating, an acupressure chappal that is more expensive that a Nike and a routine that has made me start questioning my erstwhile choices in life. 

But now that I am doing it, I dont see myself not doing it ever. Ever. I just need to figure out if yoga can help me fix my bald head!

Warm Regards,
Saurabh "Nouveau Riche" Garg

Oh, one more thing. You may want to give it a shot. Trust me its awesome! And watch out for more posts on yoga in the next few days.

What to expect from #tnks?

Originally posted on the Nidhi Kapoor blog.

Dear Reader of The Nidhi Kapoor Story,

In my opinion, a book is like any other product. Or a service. You pay a certain amount of money to buy / avail it and you put in a certain amount of time using / consuming it. And in return, you expect a certain amount of satisfaction. Money and time are tangible, I can measure them. Satisfaction is not. I cant measure it.

So before you commit either of the two, I thought I would make you aware of a few things about The Nidhi Kapoor Story (#tkns). This could also act as a sort of a disclaimer. Disclaimer in terms of what to expect from the story.

The story is very important to me
#tnks is one of the most important projects of my life. For a lot of reasons. For starters, this is the first time when I've taken a sabbatical and I know what I want to do with. This is the first time I am trying to write a full length fictional book. This is the first time I am going all-in with a project. This is the first time when I am actually trying to work towards a long held dream.

The promise
I made the promise that it would be worth your time to read the story. And I would do everything to fulfill the promise. I hope you would like what you read. If you do, please let me know. Nothing works better than feedback from people who've liked what you've written.

However if you do not like it, its even more important that you write to me and let me know that you did not like it. The best way to reach me is on email. For a faster response, please ping me on twitter.

As good as I am 
#tnks is as good as I am. Not more. Not less. I am putting my best foot forward with it. I am putting in 6 very important months of my life on this project. And this is a very visible project. I do no want to fail at it. Someone once said, "I am scared of failure". So am I. I will do whatever it takes to not fail with this story. I even made a tiny post-it note and stuck on my wall.

But all said and done, the story would be as good as I am. It will be bound by my imagination.

English as a language
I am not a native English speaker and I am not good with complex constructs of the language. Please expect a lot of mistakes in grammar, sentence formation, tenses, verbs etc. I am trying hard to improve on these things but I think I have hit my limit. I may not be able to come upto the standards of literary geniuses and The Grammar Nazis.

So, while reading it, if you find that I have massacred the language, please excuse me.

Original Story
The Nidhi Kapoor Story is an original piece of work. I hate the very concept of plagiarism.

Years back I used to maintain a fan-site for Lucky Ali and one fine morning I see pieces from the text I wrote appear on front page of Delhi Times without any attribution or credit. I couldn't take on the might of TOI and I couldn't do anything about it. For them, it was one of the million pieces of texts that they print on their paper. For me, it was my life. I put everything I had into that website. And I felt cheated. I felt dejected. I felt as if I have been robbed of everything I had. Its an extreme reaction and that blog meant that much to me. It taught me how it feels to be on the receiving end.

Thanks to that incident, I have never even thought of copying from someone else. And I am proud to say that the Nidhi Kapoor Story is my original work. The story, characters, plots, locations, everything else is inspired from real life people and real life incidents. However, if it does looks similar to something else, I assure you that it is purely coincidental. Please do let me know if you find similarities.

I guess that's about it for the time being. Hope these things help you make an informed decision about #tnks. In case you choose to read it, I would love to know what you thought about the story. And if you dont, I would love to know why you dint. Please do write in.

And, like always, thank you for reading this.

Saurabh Garg

P.S.: This may not be important for anyone else, but for me, its very very important. Because I would be custodian for your investment. Its my moral responsibility to ensure that your time and money is spent well.

Love Actually. Movie Review.

For a 30+ year old man, I realized that I am very very melodramatic. And I am the king of mush, if I may. I mean I have always known that I like romantic comedies (Notting Hill, Maine Pyar Kiya, Serendipity, DDLJ and others) but I did not know that I would be such a sucker for well told romantic stories. Before I go ahead with writing a review / post, a note to self: must try and write a romantic story. 

So I was on this long flight over the Atlantic and I had nothing to do. I was forced to turn on the 6" or so wide screen and this film, Love Actually, caught my fancy. My film policy is that I want to watch the first ten minutes of a movie and then see if I want to see the entire thing.

Love Actually is like an anthology of love stories of a few different couples characters that are loosely related to each other. Remember NY, I Love You? Life in a Metro? Its like multiple stories in one story. I am very very sure that I want to write one of these cities of love things. May be Delhi, may be Mumbai. In 2014, I promise I would write.

Anyway, coming back to the movie, the ten minute test that I have for films, Love Actually passed it with flying colours. In fact the first few minutes-when the aging rockstar sings the modified version of an old British classic, Love Is All Around-set the tone of the movie for me. The way that actor goes about performing for that song on screen, I could give an arm and a leg to see him doing that for real. He's singing it with so much passion, so much energy, a child-like enthusiasm and that thing, that in Delhi we call, feel. Its contagious. Its addictive. Its viral. I want to see it over and over again and keep watching it on loop. Its done so so well. Watch it here.

And after that sequence, the movie gets into other various characters and their stories. And despite numerous characters and their complex professions and obsessions, I was hooked. So hooked that a part of me did not want the stories to end. And a part of me wanted the characters to find their true love and see them living happily ever after. Any story that can tear your thoughts into two polar opinions has to be a great story.

Each character's story has something endearing about it. Each story is believable, each is very much possible, if you ask me. Each story could happen to you. Or people around you. For example, the love story of a guy madly in love with a woman that his friend is getting married to. Its like a typical one sided love that most Indian men (at least me) have fallen into. The guy doesnt have the balls to admit his love for the woman, for whatever reasons. But then he finally comes out of the closet and admits his love for the woman. It has to be amongst the most beautifully penned and shot proposal scenes that I've ever seen. Without a doubt.

Then there are other stories, of a writer who finds love in a house maid who cant speak English (the third best story in my opinion), a school kid who is infatuated with a classmate, even the British PM who falls for a staffer at his residence, an office romance between an old boss and a young secretary. Every story has a nice ring to it. Each story is well thought, well crafted, well written. Each story is better than most full length features that we create in the name of cinema in India.

Its a beautifully written movie. For the love of reading, I would love to read it as a book, more than a movie.

I would love to talk about production value, direction, music etc but then its one of those movies that indulge you so much that you seem to ignore everything. At least I did. I wouldnt want to talk about those things and spoil the gooey warm melted chocolate feeling that even talking about the movie induces in me. Gooey warm melted chocolate - wtf am I high on? 

So, yeah, its one of those movies that you just can not miss. If you haven't seen it yet, please do YOURself a favour and go see it. Its totally worth your time.

And anyway, Christmas is just around the corner. You ought to take out time and watch it, even if you dont like movies. If you do, trust me love will take an entirely new meaning. And to end the review, like The Troggs' say, "I feel it in my fingers, I feel it in my toes // Love is all around me, and the feeling grows", ladies and gentlemen, let go and let the feelings grow.

Oh, one more thing. Thank you Reg Presley. Thank you Richard Curtis.

P.S. Starting 1 Dec, I would attempt to make another streak of one post a day. And 1000 words a day. December is a tough month, I need to finish tnks and another compilation of short stories that I am working on. But I shall try and write everyday. If you dont see a post a day in December, please point out.

P.P.S.: I had decided that I would not talk about sgMS. But the movie, on a long trans-Atlantic flight, made me miss her like crazy. So crazy that if I had an option, I would have jumped off the plane, waded through the waters, walked over mountains, braved seasons to knock on her door and and ask her out fr a dinner. 

I have nothing to add

Hotlinked from Flickr
Charlie Munger made this term famous. The "I have nothing to add" one.

And as I embark on the journey of the lifetime, something that I can do just once in this lifetime, something that I have been looking forward to since I was a kid, something that has taken so much planning and has been marred by so many obstacles, something that is scary and exciting at the same time, I have nothing to add.

Its so funny, its not funny. Really. I have been writing about all sorts of stupid things all my life and here when I am just about to leave, I have nothing to add.

When I am back, may be I have something to talk about. I may take notes. I may not. I dont know. But right now, I am blank. Blank as a blank canvas that is starting point of all the great masterpieces. Call it recency or whatever, I can not stop thinking about what Red said when he was finally allowed to leave from Shawshank.
"I find I'm so excited, I can barely sit still or hold a thought in my head. I think it's the excitement only a free man can feel, a free man at the start of a long journey whose conclusion is uncertain...”
However there is nothing similar between Red and I. The journey Red is talking about and the one I am about to embark upon, they have nothing in common. And yet I can think of this one quote only. Funny how us humans are.

So, if you are reading this, do wish me luck. I may just come of age by the time I am back. I may write my own Bildungsroman once I am back.

Till then, so long!

The curious case of missing comments / viewers

For someone who's been writing for almost ten years now, I have a surprisingly low count of regular readers (the exact number is here). And subsequently, lower count of comments on the blog.

I mean its not really surprising, considering that I am not really popular (even in my friends' circle). And if I was interesting or funny or intelligent or a loud mouth or opinionated or smart or an eloquent speaker or a photographer or a social media expert or well endowed or well versed with history or connected or rich or something similar, people might have read my blog. But I am not any of these. In fact I am like Hugh Grant in Notting Hill and "...even my mum has a tough time remembering my name...".

Thing is, all this while, I did not matter if someone read, commented on the blog. After all this blog is more like a conversation with myself, on things that I find interesting (or things that catch my fancy). But now that I am trying to get my first novel out, I need to solve this curious case of missing comments. Simply because I need people to read what I write and give me feedback on how/what I write.

So here is a quick list of reasons why people might not be reading this blog regularly...
  1. I am Joe Nobody and since this blog talks about my life, my boring life, no one is interested in it. 
  2. I am an average writer. Or may be I am a bad writer. Or may be I dont even qualify to be called a writer. And thus reading this blog is not the best use of their time. 
  3. There is no "theme" to this blog. I write about a wide range of things (poker, writing, travel, getting old etc) and most things I write are my conversations with myself and hence people dont want to read an ill-informed guy talk about a million things, to himself!
  4. What I write do not make sense. Worse, whatever I write does not provoke any thoughts in those who read. Its like eating bland food. You stuff yourself with a lot but you do not enjoy the process of eating. You know that you have had a lot, but you dint enjoy it. That.
  5. May be, I do not know my target audience and thus my product has no real market per se. A typical marketing problem. And just to put things in context, I am a post-graduate in marketing.
  6. I dont market my blog. 
  7. People do not have time to read blogs. They are happy with 140 characters. And blogs by celebrities. And other such people.
There may be other reasons why people do not read my blog but at this point in time, I can only think of these 7. 

I mean, to be honest there is nothing on this blog that someone would want to read on a regular basis. If I wasnt myself, I would not read it! Most people (out of 100 odd that come everyday on this blog) land here by either searching for some lyrics or hunting for startup reviews or using complex queries that somehow point to my blog. Or something frivolous like that. Chasing multidisciplinary expertise has its own disadvantages I guess.

Of course thanks to this blog, I have had the opportunity to meet quite a few people that I wouldn't have met otherwise. But like all mortals, I want tangible gratification and all that. And for (an aspiring) writer there is no better gratification that readers and comments from those readers.

May be over the next few weeks, I would try and get people to start reading what I write. Not because I am hungry for gratification. I mean that is a very important reason but also because every reader that reads and shares his/her feedback helps me improve and makes me aware of my mistakes and makes me a better writer. Remember that thing I wrote about Anton Ego?

And starting with this one, any advice anyone? Why do you think I dont get traffic on my blog? Why do you think I dont get comments?

P.S.: If you want to point about grammar and long sentances, I am working on that. I still think in Hindi and translate in English before I write :(

We risk very little...

Anton Ego, the critic from Ratatouille!
In the words of Anton Ego, of the Ratatouille fame...
In many ways, the work of a critic is easy. We risk very little, yet enjoy a position over those who offer up their work and their selves to our judgment. We thrive on negative criticism, which is fun to write and to read. But the bitter truth we critics must face is that, in the grand scheme of things, the average piece of junk is probably more meaningful than our criticism designating it so. But there are times when a critic truly risks something, and that is in the discovery and defense of the new. The world is often unkind to new talent, new creations. The new needs friends. Last night, I experienced something new, an extra-ordinary meal from a singularly unexpected source. To say that both the meal and its maker have challenged my preconceptions about fine cooking is a gross understatement. They have rocked me to my core. In the past, I have made no secret of my disdain for Chef Gusteau's famous motto: 'Anyone can cook.' But I realize, only now do I truly understand what he meant. Not everyone can become a great artist, but a great artist can come from anywhere. It is difficult to imagine more humble origins than those of the genius now cooking at Gusteau's, who is, in this critic's opinion, nothing less than the finest chef in France. I will be returning to Gusteau's soon, hungry for more.
Do watch it on youtube here. This is writing at its finest. This is voice-over artistry at its best. This is story telling at its peak. This, this has to be one of the most powerful scenes I have ever seen in any movie.

So, the why do I want to talk about it?

Couple of reasons.

A, I loved the writing. So much so that I wish that I had written it. I am selfish like that. I hope that Nidhi's story turns out half as good.

B, I am at a point in The Nidhi Kapoor Story where I am questioning the damn reason why I even picked up the project in the first place. I dont know why would someone want to read a cliched story of an actress and a police inspector. In fact, I am sure if someone gave me the book, I wouldn't read it myself. I am actually worried that its going to be so bad that I would become the laughing stock of the entire town. And I am going to be scarred for the rest of my life (or whatever is left of it). Its going to be so bad that I may not want to write my personal blog either after all the Antons blast me for my badly written first book.

But at the same time, the little speech by Anton gives me a lot of heart as well. Like he says, all critics, they "risk very little". And "the average piece of junk is probably more meaningful than [their] criticism". I am filled with hope that my little Nidhi Kapoor story has some meaning in the large scheme of things. Even if its helping me put a tick mark on my bucket list.

And not to discredit these critics, I think they have an important role to play in the entire process. An honest critic and critique could give that nudge that an artist requires to bridge the gap between being good and great. Anton was being harsh because, like he said, "If I don't love it, I don't swallow". Loosely interpreted, it means that if he does not like what he eats, hes overtly harsh at it. And this makes chefs try harder to please him. Similarly a good book critic can actually help bring out the best in a writer. I think in all these years since I have been writing, I have not had a critic to help me, to nudge me, to prod me.

In fact with Nidhi Kapoor, I am looking forward to getting other people to review my work. Thankfully most of these first critics would be my friends and hence I assume that I'd have a pretty long leash with mistakes. Lets see if I can get an Anton Ego to help me make the story any better.

And btw, here's a deal. If you think you want to play Anton, please do let me know.

P.S.: I cant seem to pronounce the name of the rat movie, even after trying so many times. And no, not wrong pronunciation, my tongue falters and I pronounce it as "rat-tat-tool-lee".

Dear Shikhar Dhawan

Dear Shikhar Dhawan,

To start with, I love your batting. Really do. And I love your body language, your raw masculine appeal, and despite being a heterosexual male, your mustache. So much so that I wanted to grow mine to ape your style. Never before a physical trait of an individual has impressed me so much that I was willing to ape it. Your's I was. But thanks to paucity of time, I could not.

I am grateful I could not.

You know why I am grateful? Because I am ashamed of you because of what you did on the field today and I dont want anything to do with you. Afterall they say a man is known by the company he keeps (or people he chooses to emulate).

Shikhar, I am also ashamed to have you as a part of the team that represents India, my country. A country where guests are greater than the God himself. A country where guests are welcomed with open arms and open hearts. What you did today was not something that a true Indian would do. If I could, I would throw you out of the country. And never let you back.

Shikhar, it was totally uncalled for. I understand that you are young and restless and emotions run wild while you are on the field. I know all the media frenzy and attention from young damsels can ruffle you. For a minute I am ready to even consider that they are masters of sledging and they could have instigated you in the first place. But Shikhar, we do not stoop down to their level. No sir, we do not. I guess while you were growing up, you did were not taught moral science. Which school did you go to again? I bet you skipped all the civics and moral science classes.

Someone may dismiss your actions as an immature act of a child while at play. But Shikhar you can no longer afford to be a child. You have a great responsibility on your shoulders. You represent India at the highest level of a game that everyone follows. Everytime you twirl that mustache of yours, millions of younger Indians take note. And your every action is like a fodder to young and impressionable brains of the next generation. I hate to see young Indians becoming ruder and irreverent while growing up. Shikhar, for a minute imagine your younger brother doing that you while you are playing a friendly match in your galli.

Anyway, despite claiming to be a writer, I am a man of few words. And most of my words are rants rather than fact based editorials. So anything I add henceforth in this letter would only be gibberish. Just that I want you to know that while the match was on, I frantically prayed that we, India, lost the match. And I sincerely hoped that the blame fell on your head. So that someone could put some sense into you. Someone has to. It sucks that people like you are free to roam around like loose canons.

And as a planner, someone who watches how the world is moving, I am really worried about the young India that we are creating. Being aggressive, brash is great. But being rude for no reason or without provocation is not. Even if we are instigated, there are other ways to settle the disputes. You know, we definitely need to aim for the stars but we must not forget our roots.

Shikhar, finally, thanks to you, the wonderful sport of cricket has lost yet another fan.

An erstwhile cricket fan

P.S.: Dear Shane Watson, I apologize on Shikhar's behalf.

How stupid I am

Neil Gaiman
Neil Gaiman, in this pep talk for the NaNoWriMo says,
The last novel I wrote (it was ANANSI BOYS, in case you were wondering) when I got three-quarters of the way through I called my agent. I told her how stupid I felt writing something no-one would ever want to read, how thin the characters were, how pointless the plot. I strongly suggested that I was ready to abandon this book and write something else instead, or perhaps I could abandon the book and take up a new life as a landscape gardener, bank-robber, short-order cook or marine biologist. And instead of sympathising or agreeing with me, or blasting me forward with a wave of enthusiasm—or even arguing with me—she simply said, suspiciously cheerfully, “Oh, you’re at that part of the book, are you?”

Yes. I am at that part of the book. And that's how I feel about The Nidhi Kapoor Story

Rockford by Nagesh Kukunoor

From left, Johnny, Selva, Rajesh, Malti, Lily 
As a guy who never went to a boarding school but always wanted to, Rockford (IMDB, wiki) has been and will remain my window in the mystic world of bunk beds and brotherhood, camaraderie, life long friendships, drooling tongues over a dogeared copy of an old pornographic magazine, slavery to rigorous routines, lusting over female teachers and all those things that the boys in boarding schools do that I will never get to know. The movie has often made me want to roll back time and pester my folks to send me to a boarding school.

Coming to the movie, the plot is very simple. So simple that you wonder if they could make a movie on it.

Rajesh Naidu joins Rockford, an all-boys boarding school and like all newcomers to a boarding school, immediately false prey to abusive bullies (read seniors). Before he could find the superhero to save him from his tormentors, he finds a friend and a sidekick in Selva (I did not remember the name, had to look it up). Now Selva is like any other side kick. Goofy, funny, irreverent and fiercely loyal to our young hero Rajesh. The superhero that would save him is the sports teacher, Johnny (Nagesh Kukunoor, also the director of the movie) who takes an immediate liking to Rajesh and becomes a sort of guardian to him. Then there is this really hot lady teacher, Lily (Nandita Das), that everyone has hots for.

The chief bully, a typical spoilt kid of a rich father, plans an elaborate prank that entangles the grownups like Johnny, the sports teacher and Lily, the English teacher. The grownups get into trouble because of these silly games. And then finally, like in all Hindi movies, the hero, our young hero, Rajesh, does his magic, things fall in place and everyone lives happily ever after.

Pretty simple. Along the way there are quite a few life lessons, cute moments, funny sequences that make the movie memorable. Especially funny are the bits where Selva does his antics, when Lily is introduced for the first time to the open jaws and wide eyes of young men and those sequences where Rajesh tries to do pull ups.

Of course movie also has one of my favorite songs of all time - Yaaron by KK. Its embedded here.

The thing with this song is that I have some of my happiest memories associated with this song. Goes back to the MDI days when I was part of the organizing committee of my college's cultural festival. This song was like an anthem for the team that worked on it. This song bonded us like nothing else. And then the singer, KK, was invited to perform at the same fest, like an icing on the cake.

So back to the movie, the hero is motivated by love, the guardian is righteous, the villain is owned by envy and the heroine, she just happens to be at the wrong place at the wrong time. Actually for aspiring writers like me, we need to be able to think about characters in this manner. What rules the actions of a character. What role does that character play in the story. How does the story move forward. Etc. May be I'd take some inputs for Nidhi's story.

And since I havent seen the movie in a long time, I dont really remember other details (production value, camera, sets etc). But this has to be one of those movies that makes me warm and happy. Everytime I see it. And even everytime I talk about it. I wish they made more movies like this.

I'd say its a 4 on 5.

The movie has to be on my list of movies to see before you die. Others being Shawshank Redemption, Sholay. And if you have unlimited bandwidth, you can watch the damn movie here. But I'd rather you pay for a copy of the disc, if you can find it in market.

P.S.: This has been in my drafts folder for almost two years. Good to have finished writing this.

What I want in life. Part 2.

Note: This is part 2 in a series. What I want in life, Part 1 is here.

After struggling for all these years, I think I now know what I want in life.

Before you get excited about my new found power of thought and clarity of mind and decide to hire me to help you, here is the spoiler. There was no divine intervention that made this discovery possible. And it did not come all of a sudden. Its been cooking in my head for some time and it was about time the cookery thing got over. And, as a result, I think I now know what I want. Here is it.

I want to write, travel and sleep. 

And when I wake up, I want to go play Poker. Yes. Poker. That card game. I know, it sounds outrageous but I want it. And I want to do it for the rest of my life.

I no more want to rule kingdoms, buy fancy houses, drive around in cars. Really I dont. I am too old. I now merely want to write, travel and sleep when I am tired. And play a hand or two after I wake up. That's it. Its that simple.

Write. Travel. Sleep. Poker. Sleep. Travel. Write. Poker. Write. Travel. Sleep. In any order. And repeat. Repeat. Repeat over and over again.

So now that I know what I want, I ideally ought to chuck everything else and just spend my time working towards these things. I know I would start at the bottom of these disciplines and age is definitely not on my side. I dont mind the age, I am a fast learner. I dont mind starting at the bottom, I already said that I am a fast learner. Everything looks ok. Except that small hitch. The Money one. Thing is, writing and travelling do not give you money. Not even the kinds to be able to pay your rent. And knowing my track record at poker and my ability to remember details, I know poker is not an option. And I dont have the talent or seed to bootstrap these things. Sigh.

So bottom line, I know what I want in life and its a tussle between head and heart. Pragmatism and dreaming. Left and the right. Old and the young. And, the sad bit, I know who is gonna win. Remember the split personality disorder that I spoke about the other day? I think I need to add more types in there.

So what do I do without the money?

What else? Chase it like a mad dog and get back in the rat race! Too many animals. 


Now that the pragmatic head has won, I know that I cant chase these things. But I can at least talk about these things to make myself feel good about em? Right? Here.

A. Writing
I am not sure if I am a good writer. I know I love the feeling of fingers dancing on the keyboard and words forming by themselves. I love getting lost in my tiny laptop screen and the large world I weave in it. I love sitting at a local Starbucks and working over the din of people around. I love lying on my tummy and typing till odd hours in the night. I love it when people tell me that they loved what I've written. I am happy when something I write entertains people. I love creating stories. I love telling those stories. But then I dont know if I am good at it.

If the number of readers on this blog, number of comments, number of interactions, Klout score, any other metric is to be believed, I am not. I am like that irritating voice on the other end of the loud speaker that continues to blare incessantly, even when the voice knows that no one is interested in listening. And increasing the volume will not really help.

If the world at large starts liking what I write, I may be able to make money from it. But I dont think that unless you become a Chetan Bhagat or a Amish Tripathi, you could be a full time writer and make money. Of course there are journalists that just write and all that but then I am not talking about that kind of money. I am talking of the kind of money that people on this list make.

B. Travel 
Travel is awesome. I can fill copious volume of texts talking about travel. But then, I shall try to be faster here.

So there are a lot of lucky people in the world who have been given an opportunity to travel for free and all that. There are ways to become that but I haven't been blessed with any of those skills or attributes that are required to become a travel-for-free kinda guy.

So alas, I would have to pay for my travel. Unless I can become a good poker player. Which is kinda tough, if you ask me. Or unless I go back to working with an events company again. The kinds that does a lot of international events. Or become one of the umpteen porters for a celebrity.

C. Poker
I dont know how to play poker. As simple as that. I just know the rules of the game. But then if just the understanding of the rules made you good, everyone would be like Sachin. I dont understand odds and I hate probability as a concept. And I have a tough time concentrating.

And if I am so bad, why do I play? Because I love the "feel" of being on a poker table.

Being the fool I am, I want to play and because of everything that I've mentioned above, I end up losing a lot of money. Money that I dont really have. Money that I hope could've been put to better use.

I am losing so much money and time on the game that I have made up my mind to quit if I dont get better at it. And how would I know if I am getting any better? I would win more often than I would lose. Its a simple metric. Update. As of 20th Oct '13 I quit playing poker. Not quit, but I am taking a break till the beginning of the next year.

The lucky ones who've made poker their profession, I am so jealous of them. So very jealous. They have money. They get to travel (for free). And they get to write about their game and all the places they travel to. If I could get lucky and make a career playing poker, it would be awesome. Because I would become that artist that I have always wanted to be (read this post). Funny how a lot of posts in the recent days have been around work and love and passion and dream. 

D. Sleep
I will not talk about sleep. Just that over a last few weeks I have realized that sleep is an integral part of what I am. It makes me what I am and allows me to dream and think and stay creative. I want it. At least 7 hours in a day.

End Notes
Finally, the wishful thinking bit needs to end right now and I need to get slightly pragmatic. I know that I need to get back to zameen. So I know that I need to finish the Nidhi Kapoor Story by end of this year. And then either make one of my startup ideas to get working or find a real job. A job that may make me a corporate bitch but yet pays me money. And a lot of it. In 2014. Enough to buy comforts and not get bored. And not get bored means I would not have time to think about fuckeries in life. I sincerely believe in that "ignorant are the most blessed" adage.

How I wish I could live life in a dream where I am paid for being me. I am paid to merely exist and not move an inch. But then I am not Abhishek Bachchan or Ranbir Kapoor. I am not even a Bryan Adams. I would have to work hard. I will. Once I am over with Nidhi Kapoor Story.

But then, apart from a job that gives me a lot of money, or a startup where I make meaning, I really want to chase Kwan. The "Love, respect, community and money too" from a character in the movie Jerry McGuire. Whatever I do in 2014, I will ensure that Kwan happens. And while we are talking about Jerry, do read this post as well. It talks about what I really want to do in life. I am serious. Apart from writing, sleeping, traveling and poker that is.

And in the end, do pray for me.

P.S.: Written sometime in Sep 2013 and publishing in end of Oct 2013. 

The Summer of 69

Started writing this a few days back. Finishing it today. Not changing the tenses.

I have spent the last hour listening to various covers and live performances of the Summer of 69. Some by Bryan Adams himself. And some by other bands who are covering Adams' music. While I totally enjoyed all of those, something dawned on me. That I would never be an artist (or a performer) like that. I don’t even stand a chance. Not now, not tomorrow. Not in a thousand years. Even if stop doing everything and start learning guitar, I still wont have a chance.

Let me digress for a minute here. I define an artist as someone who creates original things - text, music, photographer etc and is not dependent on anyone else to create his output (unlike team sports and film). An artist works on his terms at his whims. And I define a performer as someone who has willfully taken up the task of entertaining an audience in exchange for a fee or a favour. Pretty technical huh? Coming back...

Its not about the guitar. Or about music. Or about the ability to sing. There is something else that these guys have, these artists I mean. These performers. They are not ordinary. Trust me they are not. Over the years, I have had the pleasure of seeing some of these performers up close and in person. As long as they are not on the stage, they are like you and me. They get hungry, they want Red Bull before they go up on stage, they seek attention, they want to sign autographs, they are greedy, they want to be paid by the minute etc. They are everything that you expect a successful human to be.

And then its time for them to go on the stage. The lights are dimmed. In the events parlance, we call it position. They take position. And then depending on the complexity of the setup and the show director, either a beam illuminates these guys or the entire stage comes alive with light. And then all of a sudden, like someone has flipped a switch, they transform from a regular human into a living thing larger than life. As large as God Himself if not more. And thing. Not being.

They know that every eye in the audience is upon them. Everyone is waiting for them to perform. Everyone has sky high expectations from them. Even if they are having an off day, they have to perform. And funny thing is, they do it. They deliver. Under all the pressure, they do it. They have this will to go out there and better themselves every time they are on the stage. And not just better themselves, they go beyond than that. They surprise people, make them happy, give them something to talk about when they go back.

Sigh! I can go on extolling their lives forever but then this post is not about them. Its about me. The sad old me. The sadder me after I saw all those videos of Bryan Adams' bestest song ever IMHO.

The obvious question that is begging for an answer is, do I want to be like him? Like them? An artist? I don’t know the answer right now.

What I do know however, is that I love the entire concept of performing like that and making people happy. May be that’s why I want to be in the show business. May be that why I loved my previous job. And may be, just may be, that’s why I hated my previous job. Let me elaborate on the love and hate bit.

The Love Part. 
So till July this year, I was in the business of events management and I got to be a part of the entourage of multiple artists. And was in part responsible for assembling a show together. It was as close as I came to being a performer, except once upon a time when I was the MC for a game of housie. At work, even though I wasn't probably the best of employees and I did cut corners, I loved being there. There were a lot of things about being this nameless individual in a large entourage. Travel for starters. In India. And abroad. Then everything I did had a tangible output. That I could see. Often, larger than life. Unlike advertising and other places where my output was merely an input for others to work on, here my work was the damn output. It was often as large as a 60' wide stage. Once it was huge, about 44000 sq ft if I am not wrong. And it was awesome to see it come to life. And ofcourse the adrenaline rush that it gave me while the show was on. It was like putting a performance, except the artist catching all the eyeballs was someone else. I did not mind it really but I wish it happened with lot more frequency.

The Hate Part.
Coming to the hate part, since we were in the business of saving jobs (as a colleague once said) it meant that often, my life, my thoughts had no importance. There was no free will per se and it sucked. The entire point about being an artist is that you have an art that you know you are good at. And you know there are people who will happily pay money to see you perform. Patrons, if not random people. Thats what I am talking about. That is what was missing from work. Patrons.

The Sad Sad Part.
So here it the sad sad part. And the reason why I wrote this post.

I have these million lives that I want to live within this one life. And one of those lives is definitely a life of an artist. If not an artist, of a performer. And I know that however hard I may try, I will never be one. The closet I can be, is either be a nameless and faceless part of crowd that puts these shows together. Or haul their bags when they travel around the world. In either case, it would be a compromise.

Sigh! Lemme go kill myself about it.

In case you don't see a post tomorrow on this blog, you know what did the papers did not publish. Because I was not an artist. And I was not a performer either.

Eat Pray Love

Ketut, from Eat Pray Love
The world works in a funny manner. Just yesterday few days back, a friend asked me if I have seen read Eat Pray Love, the movie. And I told her that even though it’s a story of a woman and I cant relate to her life in particular, the book and the movie are so powerful that they have the potential to change your life.
Before I go ahead, for the uninitiated, Eat Pray Love is a story of a woman who has apparently going through a midlife crisis, is depressed and cant seem to figure out her love and professional life. Sounds familiar? So, this woman in mid thirties decides that she's had enough of her miserable life and she would change it by spending the next year travelling to Italy, India and Indonesia, in search of indulgence, spirituality and love respectively. The book chronicles her adventures as she goes about the pursuit of these things. And along the way, the book teaches you how to cope up with the mad rat race that all of us are stuck in.
I am not a book reviewer per se but Eat Pray Love is among the better books that I have read. I dont know if its fiction or semi-fiction or what. But it sure is a hell of a story. The kinds that I hope my life becomes one. 
Do read the book. Or see the movie. 
So, coming back to the reason why I posted this, today the same day when my friend asked me about it, I tried to smile from the heart, Ketut's (pictured above) idea of staying happy. And it was amazing. Those few minutes that I could smile from the heart. I was calmer and I felt at peace. As peaceful as if I was walking on fresh grass, covered with dew, right in the morning. And I was at peace in a noisy rickshaw travelling through the notorious Andheri Kurla road during the rush hour.

And then just a few minutes back later in the day, when I was down and about and sulking in my room hidden between the sheets, my flatmate yelled from the hall that he'd just put on a movie on tv and if I want to watch it. I asked him which one and he says, Eat Pray Love. I mean talk about coincidences. Thrice in less than 24 hours, the world is telling me about the book and the movie. Don't I ought to take note of this, take inspiration from Liz's story and change my life, as recommended by the movie? May be.

But then the pragmatic me, tells me that its just a random coincidence and us humans are prone to seeking patterns. We also seem to trust easily the coincidences that we want to believe in. And since I am no special, I do want to believe that lady luck is on my side and will help me shine and rise. And hence I have modified my world view to give a lot of importance to these random incidents. And thus, I don't need to pack my bags and goto Italy or Indonesia.

But then, there is something that all of my personalities agree upon. That its a brilliant book and movie. If you haven't read Eat Pray Love or haven't seen the movie, you ought to do so. Pronto.

P.S.: I wrote this post a few days back. Editing it today to finish it. Over the next few days, I will try and finish all the drafts in my blogger. For the record, apart from this one, I have 137 drafts. Enough material for more than a post a day! 

Streak of last ten days

BSOD + Bill Gates! 
Yesterday, the post-a-day streak of last ten days got interrupted. Streaks are broken? Or are interrupted? I dont know. I dont care. But I did not write anything yesterday. And funny thing is that I am not feeling bad about it or something. I am just disappointed about not writing. And I am disappointed about not feeling bad. 

If I tried hard, I could have continued with the streak. I mean I knew that I was going to be out of Mumbai and away from a computer for a large part of the day. I was counting on coming back and write before I sleep. But when I reached back, I was really unwell and could not write. 

So, like everyone else who does not work, I have an excuse to fall back on. Damn! 

But anyway, the one day interruption does not really mean a lot. I just need to ensure that I continue writing a post-a-day. And for the future, I plan my time better. And try and foresee the problems that I could be in when I am writing. 

So whats next? A post on this blog! What else. Wait for it.

The split personality disorder

An interpretation of Ravana, from this blog
The image above is a pretty neat illustration of Ravana, the evil anti-hero, or a villain, if you will, from the Ramayana. And why am I using it here? I would come to that in a minute. Indulge till then please.

So, its a common knowledge that I suffer from split personality. Actually multiple personality disorder actually. Apparently its a rare disorder but then I am rare as well? No? Let me talk about them. Quickly. In a couple of lines each.

Inside me, my head, there is not one SG but there are many. There is this me that is a big dreamer. Who wants to believe that everything good about the world is up for grabs and its possible to actually get it. Just need a little bit of luck, hard work and other such things. The big dreamer me makes me get up everyday and look forward to each day, as if that day could be a stepping stone in my life (this line has been inspired from what Raj taught me at CLA).

Then there is the selfish me. Selfish-er than the selfish gene. Even more selfish than the selfish meme. The one that wants everything for myself. Ok, not just myself but for few other people who I care for. Nothing wrong with it I guess. But I think there are times when this selfish me makes me so stupid stupid things. Things that I eventually end up regretting. The selfish me, hopes of material gains, makes me fall for those quick-rich schemes where only outcome is loss of money and time.

And the gift-to-mankind me. The one that believes that I am actually a gift to mankind. And what exactly is the worth of this gift? I dont know. How is this gift helping the mankind? I dont know. What if the world did not have this gift? I dont know. But a gift nonetheless. And a grand one at that. This me, the greatest gift me helps me go out of my way and help other people. When I say help, I dont mean give them money or something. Charity and NGOs are the biggest scams in my opinion. Help as in help them in work, help the world in becoming a better place, even if its a small, tiny, insignificant way.

Then I have the pessimist me. The one who thinks that I have lost did not win the ovarian lottery and that means I was born at a time and at a place that is responsible for all my miseries. Do see this video of Buffet talking about Ovarian Lottery. It may change you life. I mean it did not change mine, but it may. This me stops me in my tracks when I know I just need to push a little more and become immortal. Its like I climb 99 out of 100 steps to heaven and the pessimist me tells me that there is no point in climbing that one last step because reaching heaven can not be that easy.

Then I have a optimistic and hopeful me. The one that thinks that I am still young (at 30) and I will make it big. There is no question of if. The question is when. When would I get big. The optimistic me keeps on thinking of those things. And I think I am overly optimistic. Bordering on overconfidence. And thus this optimist me stops me from. Its my limiting belief, as those self-help gurus would put it. So rather than being a good thing, its actually bad!

Then I have a pragmatic me. The one that knows that two plus two is four and the one that knows that the selfish me could be a bad thing in a long run and the gift to mankind may not be a gift after all and the optimistic me could be misplaced and all of that. This pragmatic me makes me alert. And makes me take up everything with a pinch of caution.

Then there is this writer me. The one who wants to do nothing but write. Actually this me is a new discovery. Over the last year or so. I mean I have been writing for almost ten years on this blog but I am getting serious about it only now. This me is like a baby. It is curious. It wants to explore. It wants to experiment. It wants to run. Run faster than anyone else. And run to the entire length and breadth of this whole world. And keep running. And run so much that no one can catch up. But then, there are baby steps that need to be taken. All the other me's feed into this writer me and are helping him grow. And its growing fast. Everyday. I cant notice the growth on a daily basis but when I note the changes over a longer period, say a few months, I can notice. The only thing with this me, is that, its time is yet to come. And when it comes, by God, it would be worth all the wait. And the other me's, they may stay or they may expire. I dont know. But this writer me, shall stay. Till I stay, the writer me stays. Promise.

And finally, ladies and gentlemen, there is this me, SG, who is made up of all the mes listed above. And more. The point of this post and the question to you, dear reader, is, which me would you want to make an acquaintance with?

And No, I did not forget about Ravana. I want to believe that whoever cooked him up as a character must have been smoking pot of very high quality. I mean there is no reason to create a character that has ten heads. Imagine trimming hair on all those ten heads. Seriously, I suspect that these ten head thing is just an interpretation of ten different voices in that one person's head. And because Ravana could not control all these voices in his head, he may made those mistakes that made him fall, despite all the good things that he stood for. 

Anyway, so what is the point? Am I a modern avatar of Ravana with all these heads? And all these personalities? Do I need to work on making peace with these voices? I dont know yet. In time! 

But you, you may chose the me that you want to patronize, kill, hate, help, pity, loathe, respect, make friends with. 

P.S.: Day 9. And its only about prioritizing things. I am down and about and unwell and sleepy and cranky and other things. And yet I made sure that I write. The writer me prevailed over the pessimist me. What I write may not make sense to the ones reading. But to me, its the most beautiful prose ever. The prose that I wrote that I could've not written by giving into the lure of procrastination etc. You know what I am saying? You are. Right? 

(not) working from home!

Today is day 8. And its a busy day ahead. If I don't write now, I would not be able to write. I have a choice between writing and going for a swim. You now know what I chose. There are schools of thought about it. No point writing everyday if I am going to ignore my health and die sooner. On the other hand, no point staying healthy and fit if I am not going to write. Its like the chicken and the egg. Anyway, onward to the post of the day. Like I said, today is day 8. On the trot. Power to me.

So all my life, ever since I did my MBA, I have craved for a job that allowed me to work from home. Where I decided my own time and I worked out of the relative comfort of my home.

To me, the greatest advantage of work from home was all the time that I could save if I did not have to negotiate traffic en route to office. And since I lived in a godforsaken corner of Delhi, roads were bad, traffic was maddening and it took forever to reach some place.

I was under the impression that if I am work from home, I would be more productive. I'd be able to do more work per hour spent working and the quality of work would be better. I also thought that since I would choose my time, I would have enough time to indulge in these side projects that I kept cooking. And finally, stay at home and work meant I would spend a lot more time with my family, something that I have largely ignored while I was working out of Delhi. 

Not to mention all the money that I would save. My last office was 50+ KM away from home and with the petrol prices skyrocketing, every day I went to office, I spent about 700 bucks, just on the drive. Multiply it by 20 days a month that I went to office and it was a whopping 14K a month. On fuel alone. Just to reach office. So while I was travelling, I was wasting time, money, energy and keeping everything on the back burner. Not a good thing. No? 

I tried really hard to negotiate a thrice a week policy. Or work from home thing but my boss was adamant that it does not work in the events business. If I was a consultant or something, I could have lived in Honolulu and worked from there but I was expected to meet clients, get work done from my team and generally stay on top of everything. I hated him for it. Work from home was like a elixir that I needed to stay alive. I fought and fought and fought and nothing came out of it. 

So, when I came to Mumbai to work on the book and work on the startup where I made my first angel investment, I thought that since I would be working out of home, I would have more time, do more work, do better work, create those side projects, focus on health and so on and so forth. It looked like an ideal scenario. I couldnt have imagined a better life. 

I was wrong. So so wrong. 


Its been three months since I quit and rather than becoming a productivity ninja with superpowers to get things done on a deadline, I have become a lazy (ok, lazier), fat (fatter), procrastinator that just wants to eat and sleep. That lure of the comfortable bed is just too tempting to not indulge in. I tell myself that I would lie down for just a few minutes and then I would be back to work. And when I get up, I realize that its been more than two hours since I went to bed. I decide that I would only have home cooked meals and that too at regular intervals. But no, I am consuming Maggi, omelettes, Coke, Red Bull et al at a speed faster than a light travels. I thought I would get up early and learn swimming. But no, I have ended up programming my system for 12 hour sleep cycles. Remember I could sleep for four hours and still be in my senses? I decide that I'd take a small break. But no, I end up watching hours and hours of Big Bang Theory. oh, this has to be the bestest sequence from the show. Here, lemme embed it.

<after an hour of wasting time seeing more Big Bang Theory episodes>

So, where was I?

Yes, I have come to a conclusion that work from home, for me atleast, does not work. I really need a place where I am expected to show up at 9 every morning and have to login 8 hours. And I want the freedom to step out when I want to. You know what I am saying?

To sum it up, I think I am not programmed to be able to work from home. In last three months, I have gone fatter, I have worked lesser and none of the projects is off the ground. Who is to blame? Chuck Lorre, Bill PradyDr. Sheldon Cooper and Howard Wolowitz Me! And my obsession to find work that requires to be done from home. 


But then thankfully, Nidhi Kapoor Story is moving forward. Tottering actually but its still moving. However I am not getting as many likes on the FB page, as I would want. Any social media analysts want to help?

And to end this note, I still have a few months to go before I start working again. And I need to find an office close to where I live. This means somewhere in Powai. A cheap co-working space. You know of any?

And when I do resume working, if I get into a job that requires me to work on a desk, I really want an inspiring office. A place, a desk, a cubicle, something to keep my computer on. I want it to be comfortable, airy, air-conditioned, with an unlimited supply of water, clean loos and approval to play music of my choice at an hour of my choice. And I want it to be as close to where I live. Ideally, walking distance. 

What I am ok without having, is a corner office or a view or a secretary or a carpet or expensive furniture or a pool table or a membership to the club or fancy things like those. Basics are just fine with me. I am that kind of a person. I think people like me are called externally-motivated or something. Whatever, I want these things, if I am to work.

And no, I will not work from home. 

P.S.: If you plan to hire me, please do read this and other posts in this series

And on the 7th day...

Its been six days on the trot that I have published something on my blog. Calls for a celebration. I cant think of a time when I did that last. Or ever. Its important because as I go along, writing will become the single most activity that I would engage in. And every day I write, takes me closer to the goal of being a writer and making enough money to be able to pay my bills with it. In fact I read these two posts on Pressfield's blog that talk about money. It gives me a lot of heart. I may not be a good writer but as he says, "But anecdotally I think it’s true; those who hang in, eventually find a way."

I hope to find a way as well. I just need to keep at it.

So, coming back to the 7th day, apparently on the 7th day, even the Gods rested. But then I am not really close to being a God and hence I need to work. And while I am at it, working on The Nidhi Kapoor Story, I am listening to Summer of 69. And despite whatever others may say, its still cool to me. Here do listen to it.

And until next time, stay awesome. And do read my other posts. And do share your feedback please.

And thus, I write!

So, why do I write?

Here are ten reasons. In no particular order.

A. Writing makes me a better thinker. Some people think best when they are talking. Some do it best while making mind maps. Some do it when they are alone. Some do it on the pot, or in the shower. Some do while sleeping. I think, I think best when I am writing. Most of my best ideas have come when I have been scribbling on a notepad or writing on my blog. And thus, I write.

B. Serendipity. I define serendipity as happy accidents. And I love serendipity and the concept of happy accidents. Writing has allowed me to make these lucky accidents happen. And not one, not two, a lot of them have happened. See C for details. And thus, I write.

C. People. I have met some really incredible people, thanks to my writing. And thanks to this blog. Not that these people have left me money in their wills or have given me employment opportunities or taken me out on dates or something. They have just made my life richer, fuller and happier. If not for my writing and my blog, I would have never met those people. And I would have been deprived of their awesomeness! And thus, I write.

D. Superpower. Writing is my secret superpower. I am not a real superhero and I cant really save the world. Yet. But I am sure someday I would be able to become a real superhero and make my writing my superpower. And save the world. And thus, I write.

E. Writing is my special move. Its my signature shot. Think of a fat old Indian man. You cant expect him to have a moon walk that separates him from all the other dancers. He cant play a late cut or a reverse sweep or a helicopter shot that separates him from all the other batsmen. But then, he can write. In a style, tone, manner that is uniquely his and sets him apart from others. I want to reinforce this style, tone and manner. And thus, I write. Btw, does this mean that I strive to be different? I dont know that yet. But I do know that I am a specimen of home-sapiens and I have the gift of communication and I want to abuse it.

F. Rewarding. No, I haven't won any contests but I've left behind a tangible trail, with each word that I have written over the years .Over the last ten years, I have written 1200 odd posts. That's a long trail. Of course it all could be noise in a world where everyone is talking about everything all the time. But then these trails are interesting. These allow me to look back and see how I have evolved. These allow happy accidents to happen (see B). And thus, I write.

G. Its my shot at immortality. Do I want to be immortal in the first place? I will skip this philosophical questions. Because I dont know the answer yet. But I will answer something else. Why do I write? Because writing gives me an opportunity to create something that would outlast me. Something that the next generations would appreciate. Imagine leaving the world a better place when you say goodbye. To a powerless and spineless individual like me, I may not create anything of enduring values but I can create and leave behind a school of thought that inspires. I want to be that giant that invites people to stand on my shoulders and see farther. And thus, I write.

H. Writing is immersive. When I am writing, when I let my fingers dance on the keyboard, they do the dance by themselves, I love it. I forget all the fuckeries of the world affecting me. I become God. I can control the output. Actually I cant. I become so immersed in writing that I become immune to the world outside my head. Its like meditation. Its flow. Its like a rush from a drug. Its like orgasm. Its the reason. And thus, I write.

I. Writing makes me explore. Everytime I write, I want to do my best. It makes me hunt for new things that I can use to say the old things in a better way. Bad example is words. I learn new words. I learn idioms. I read what other writers write. I explore. I go into the unknown. I discover new things. I invent one or two. I am like that free man that Stephen King talked about in Shawshank. I am on an adventure. And I dont know what is on the other side of the adventure. And I love these adventures. I have a curious mind and I love to get lost. Writing allows me to get lost. And then writing helps me find a way out. And thus, I write.

And lastly and most importantly, probably the real reason why I write,

X. I dont know why I write! Before this one, here is a quote from the Joker (of the Batman fame), "Do I really look like a guy with a plan? You know what I am? I'm a dog chasing cars. I wouldn't know what to do with one if I caught it. You know, I just... do things. The mob has plans, the cops have plans, Gordon's got plans ...". Like Joker, I am a man without plans. I write because I write. I dont know what to do after I've written. I let my writing hang on an anonymous blog in a secluded corner of the world wide web. If someone stumbles upon it, great. I get happy. If that someone leaves a comment, I feel awesome. When that someone writes into me and sends some praises down my way, I feel as if all the effort that it has ever taken towards writing has been rewarded. And when more than one people write in, it starts working like a drug. An addiction. I get addicted to emails and comments. And then I become a junkie. I wait for my daily fix. When I stop getting this fix, I get restless and do things like this. And then I go into rehabilitation and come out cleaner. And then like that itch that you have to scratch, I suddenly fire up the word editor and write again. And the vicious circle starts all over again. But you know it now. Right? That I am man without a plan. I'm a dog chasing cars. I wouldn't know what to do with one if I caught it. And thus, I write!

And thus, I write.

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?