Nine years of blogging

Its 9 years since I started writing this blog.

This would go down in history as yet another stat, that only 2 people are interested in - one me and the other, my alterego. In twitter dialect, we would call it #uselessStat. There are more #uselessStats that I can share here - number of readers, numbers of visitors, hits etc. But then who cares. Apparently its engagement that rates higher than stats on online media properties. And on engagement parameters, if not negative, I score a zero. I have often tried to find a reason for it but I havent been able to. Engagement is zero, may be because I am not a writer (or a photographer or a social media expert or funny or sarcastic or something). Would you guys know of this? Can someone help me figure out? No, I cant pay money but I can give references and I can give credit.

Coming on to my 9 years, these have been brilliant to say the least. I have loved every bit of these 9 long years. Amongst other things, I have been fortunate to meet some great people and as a result, have learnt quite a few things. Blogging is one of those decisions that I cant stop thanking myself for (#shamelessSelfPromotion). If I had my way, I would ask everyone to experiment with it, at least once.

And like everything else that I do, I have done various experiments with this blog. Some of the noteworthy ones include...

  • A private blog. I made this a private blog and closed access to the world. I allowed just a handful of people. No one took a note, not even the ones I invited. I let it remain an invite only blog for a bit and then I reverted to the regular boring open-to-all blog. I reazlied I was missing the entire point of writing a blog - self expression, in an attempt of "getting discovered". 
  • Make money from the blog. There was a time when the entire world decided that twitter is the way to go and the number of serious writers reduced. And then at the same time, the crop of new generation that spends copious amounts of time on the Internet, was yet to grow up. Those were sunshine days for my blog with lot of traffic and lot of comments. And then I got this email from Google that said I could make money. I got lured in and I tried it for exactly 6 days. I did make 60 cents, I think, but that was about it and I shut it down.
  • Get serious about writing. I started writing about myself and things that were important to me. Somewhere along the way, I got deluded into believing that I could bring about change with limited understanding of life and world. And I tried that by writing serious things and detailed posts. And I failed miserably. I learnt my lessons and I have moved on from that. Now I merely talk about things I see and observe. 
Despite all these failed experiments, thankfully, for whatever reasons, I never fell in the trap of publishing pictures of cats talking in bad grammar or publishing top ten lists about every obscure thing on the internet or participating in trolls on the Internet. I though, however, want to create a photoblog, a travel blog, a writing blog and a poker blog. May be sometime soon.

But this has remained an individual's blog for all these years and will hopefully remain that. A place where I talk about things that interest me and things that I am keen on. I do chase serendipity like crazy. There are times that my interests have a broad base and this is when I get to meet interesting people. I believe that the concept of happy accidents is a brilliant thing. And the blog has helped me get involved in these accidents often. In fact one of the key reasons to continue with writing, despite almost no new visitors, is the hope that some more lucky accidents would happen.

Thats about it. Ideally there should be a cake cutting and all that but I think I will leave it for the 10th anniversary. Come to think of it, 9 years is a long long time. When I started, I would have been 21. I had no clue I would continue for this long. Pat on the back, Mr. Garg.

Oh, btw, is it 9th or the 10th year? I started in 2004!

Lowest point of my life

Alert. Extremely personal. If you know me, read on. If you dont, please dont judge me by this. If you dont care, treat this as fodder to your voyeuristic instincts.

So ever since I can remember I have always wanted to be rich. And when I say rich, I want to be filthy rich. So much so that I want to conquer the Antilla and get more famous than Bill, Steve or Warren. I always belived that money for me is like a means (not n end) to achieve larger goals.

Mukesh Ambani's Antilla
Little did that I know that in pursuit of money, I am becoming have become a slave to money. Its on my mind all the time and I cant think of anything but money. I keep track of every rupee I spend I try to cut corners and save as much as I can. Guess nothing wrong with it but today something happened that opened my eyes.

The incident, I will not go in the details, happened and I lost 2 lakhs. No fault of mine or anyone else. It just happened and the money just away. I mean I will get it back on Monday most probably but as of now I am down by 2 lakhs. No, I did not lose it in poker and neither did I misplace it. It just happened. And I go so furious about it that I almost broke my laptop and seethed in anger for a good part of the morning and evening. I yelled at my really good friend and I squarely blamed him for the fiasco (and I live with this guy FYI). I cant say he was not at fault but I was equally at fault. I was surprised at myself for the way I was reacting and talking to my friend. As I write this, its making me even more awful about the entire thing.

This has to be the lowest point of my life. I have never felt so bad and so small about things.

But lesson learnt and time to move on. The amount may not be small by any standards but its definitely not that big that it makes me lose my calm and boil my blood. Its one life and we have a very very short span here. Cant waste in getting angry over trivialities.

Like these guys said...

From now on, am no longer a slave to money and its allure.

Moved to Mumbai

Though I have been here for more than a month now, today, in true earnest, I moved to Mumbai. Now I have a room that I can call my own (ofcourse could be larger, airier and better), a bathroom that I am happy about (spacious, no pests and clean), an Internet connection (that is working great as we write this) and a nice and quiet locality (yes there are a few hidden gems here and there in Mumbai). Apart from this, there are a few more things that I need - a table to sit and write on, a bigger laptop Mac and a set of awesome headphones.

So now, starting today, I have exactly six months to justify my existence to myself. In these six months, I have to achieve a few tangible goals (catalogued under sg2013 tag) and a few intangibles.

Thats it. I shall be more regular with writing now (one of the goals for 2013). In the meanwhile, if you are reading this and you still dont have my Mumbai number, do let me know and I shall text you. Wish me luck!

Oh, and one more thing, I am still accepting gifts

Lance, I am with you.

I have always been big on sports and sportsmen. So much so that I have always had this voice at the back of my head that wants me to be a professional athlete. For me, sports are unlike any other human pursuit, for, it is while playing when the true character and strength of an individual is revealed  It is while playing that a person can grow individually and in stature. And most importantly it is while playing you can test your limits. Limits of endurance, hunger, achievement and so on and so forth.

Sportsmen, similarly are an awesome lot. They are like average Joe's who have that dream to do something great. And it is by their sheer grit, determination and hard-work that they do go the extra mile to achieve their dreams and take that shot at glory. Isn't that what life is movies are made of?

Lance Armstrong
Amongst a long list of illustrious athletes that I admire, Lance Armstrong will always be close to the top. Not because of those 7 Tour De France titles but for all the other things that he has done away from the bicycling arena (the Livestrong Foundation). Reason is more personal that grounded in rational thought. His foundation gave strength when I found myself alone and continues to do so (a really really really good friend suffered from the disease and is back to being normal now. There's another friend who is on her way to recovery. She would be back to being awesome soon, inshallah). Thing with being alone is that you have people around you and you have all the hopes that the medical advances give you but end of the day, deep down inside, you are left alone to struggle with all the nightmarish thoughts. And this is when you need someone to hold on to. Some call it praying to God, some call it belief, some call it divinity. I dont know what metaphor to use but it would have been really really tough without it.

Coming back, Lance is someone who I've always looked upto. I dont know much about the sport but I know that winning 7 titles, back to back, is a near inhuman feat and it must have taken a man of great strength to actually do it. I have always taken inspiration from him and have wanted to touch greatness, like he has done. If I was the kinds to maintain a desk with pictures on it, I would put Lance on it, along with Steve, WEB, sgMS and few more other people. May be soon. Lance, in other words, is my hero. And I am thankful to him for his mere existence and his efforts.

So, today, when I woke up, I loved the feeling. Don't really like waking up early but today was different. A stupid dream was interrupted by a phone call. In that dream I get a boil on my sole and I show it to Mujeer Sir, who is normally quite. He looks at it and starts laughing at it and asks me to stop trying hard. And this is when the phone rang. So when I woke up, I was loving the feeling that I was alive. It was about 7ish in the morning and there was this dim light in my hotel room and it was slightly cold, the kinds that gives you goosebumps. There was this standard white hotel quilt and as array of pillows with different densities. I was comfortable and I was sleepy-awake-sleepy. I even had a message from sgMS sitting in my phone. The world was perfect. And I was raring to go, take it on, head on and work on something grand, just like Lance and other heroes.

And like everyday, I started sipping onto my water and grooving to my morning playlist and was generally checking on the world when I realized that Lance has done a no holds barred interview with Oprah. And in that video, he has confessed to using banned substances to help him win Tour De France. And as I saw it, with each answer I started to got numb. They were direct, easy to understand, pointed questions. And Lance was supposed to answer in simple yeses and nos. And with each one word answer, it started to suck.

For all these years, I was happy being part of the group of people who just stay on the sidelines and keep their true opinions with themselves. But for Lance, I would be vocal, if someone asked me for an opinion and I would live in the world of denial. For me, Lance was a God, who could do no wrong. I dint go around to wearing yellow bands and showcasing my devotion to Lance and foundation. But Lance was/is an important to me. With his confession, the entire thing about him came crashing down around me. From a giant who worked hard and pushed his personal limits, for an instant, he was left on the sidelines as someone who took the easy way out when he could choose to take the road less travelled. From being a winner, he is now the biggest loser that the world has seen.

I dont know how the world would react to it, for me, Lance its a loss beyond comprehension. I feel cheated and it sucked as if I lost in a race that I was participating myself. You were that important to me Lance. You were my role model. If I could I would have modelled my life on yours. And it sucks to know that it was all a pack of lies. I have no clue why would you do it. I am sure there must be some larger reason, than merely winning the race. May be you were fighting against the unpredictable life, by using its own methods or whatever. May be you were greedy. May be you were not. May be you were blinded. I dont know.

But like a delusional disciple of a cult religion, I refuse to see the reason and I want to believe that there was more than what meets the eye. End of the day, Lance, you have my support. I am with you, always will be. You are still my hero. You are still someone who has been able to push boundaries that no one else could. You are still the epitome of human endurance and strength for me.

And, thank you for everything.

After a while

Warning: Random ramblings ahead.

So, when was the last time when I let my fingers dance on the keyboard? I think its been a while. A quick look at the archives tell me that I last wrote on 4th Jan this year. After that its been a busy busy time. Not that I am flooded with work. On the contrary there is nothing that I do the entire day. Come to think of it, I could have learnt how to stare at goats and learn the art and science of bursting clouds. But then there were other pressing matters at hand. Matters like trying to find a home for myself in Mumbai. That I think has been resolved for the time being. The place where I will now live for atleast next 6 months is a quintessential Indian  phenomena. It looks awesome from the outside but once you step it, its a piece of shit. It is expensive and yet not done tastefully. It is neither big, nor small. It lacks character. Character is a funny thing if you ask me. There are two kinds of people, the ones who have a character and the ones who dont. The ones who dont have a character are easy to handle. You can dismiss them without any remorse on your part. They are parasites who are merely wasting the precious resources. They live like vegetables, going through the motions and waiting for their time to end. The ones who have a character are tough cookies. Character could be good, bad, interesting, boring, opinionated, freckled, cohesive and so on and so forth. I tend to believe that having character is important  What character is it and how is it is of no relative importance. It immediately sets the men apart from boys, as the cliche goes...!


One of my things to do this year was to get over sgMS. I have been trying really hard but for reasons unknown to me, she, refuses to go away.

Any antidotes anyone?

Substance Abuse!

My addiction to (and experiments with) things like Coke and Red Bull have been documented time and again, on this blog and elsewhere on the Internet. And no wonder I am told that I am an addict. In my defense. To be honest, there is no problem in being an addict, its just that its a drain on money (both coke and Red Bull are expensive indulgences) and apparently they are hazardous to health. But I am the kinds that goes by empirical evidence and since there is no documented evidence as such, I refuse to hear the conspiracy theorists and regularly give in to the temptation and consume as much sugar water and caffeine as I can afford.

But then I realized that I am on the wrong side of the bell curve now and I need to try and do things that would make me an outlier (read live a 100 years). Like the current fads in India, the health and fitness fad is in vogue and is attracting attention by the buckets. And being a marketer's delight, I cant stay away from it. So I thought may be, 2013 could be the year when I make myself a better individual. And to start with, I could focus on tangibles like health. Common sense tells me that I need to stop the rampant substance abuse that I am so used to. In fact one of the resolutions of 2013 is to get fit and run finish a marathon by end of this year. Ofcourse running requires lot of stamina and running a marathon requires training, determination and a huge willpower. I, to be honest, have none of these things but I hope to work on these during this year.

Thus, since 2013 started, I have not touched coke or red bull. Part of the reason is health, part if money (Mumbai is an expensive place) and a huge part is test of determination and willpower. Imagine me ignoring that water droplet trickling down the shiny metal case, that little pop when you pull the flip tab back, that rush of fizz when the can just opens and that anticipation of ice cold coca cola going down my throat. I'd say impossible. But I'd make the impossible possible. Its been 4 days and I havent felt any real need. Except that I am low on energy the entire day. Let me talk about that!

When I was consuming it, all the sugar and caffeine gave me abundant energy to engage in million things that I am working on all the time. So much so that I could go three days without sleep. Avoiding these two things has had a stupid side effect on me. The entire day, I am low on energy and sleepy. A feeling that I hate like no other. I have tried alternatives like no-sugar coffee, green tea, lime water etc but nothing seems to be working so far. I am as sleepy as I was in those financial management classes, back in college, which I dont even know why I took!

Funny is that while I was in Delhi, I dont think I had these issues as I slept very little and yet I was so full of energy the entire day. And yes there was a time when I was off these two substances an yet I had all the energy. Guess something is wrong with Mumbai. Apart from this bout of lethargy, there are funny rashes all over the skin. I only consume bottled water and prefer eating simple food. And yet my body is not accepting this place. Dunno how. Dunno why.

Maybe I need to get back to substance abuse soon. Dunno. Any tips?

Goals for 2013. 1000 words a day.

Some numbers. An average fiction book is about 70000 words. There are 365 days in a year. And it takes about thirty minutes to write 1000 words. If I was to club all these together, I get the magical number of 5 books a year. Thats amazing. For someone like me, who has been a struggling writer since 1982, publishing even one book would be like a dream come true. And here I have the opportunity to get 5 books done!

All I need is little bit of perseverance and little bit of push. I am willing to write 1000 words a day but I have external locus of control. Who, then, wants to volunteer to give me that nudge?

P.S.: Over the next few days I shall talk about my goals for this coming year. So the posts would be small, to the point and will hopefully have tangibles! I am using #sg2013 to talk about it, here and on twitter.

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?