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.

Har Kisi Ko Nahi Milta

After quite a few days, I have new song that I am tripping on.

This one is called Har Kisi Ko Nahi Milta, from the movie Boss. Ofcourse I haven't seen the movie. Ofcourse I don't know the background of the song but its sounds amazing!

Here it is.

Its a remix of an old song. But unlike all other remixes where they just add beats and sounds et al, these guys have actually re-written a large chunk of the song, ofcourse inspired by the original.

This is how, in my humble opinion, the songs ought to be remixed. Take the original. Understand the context. Add a fresh take on it - could be music, could be lyrics, could be context etc. And work hard on it. Hard as in real hard!

This one fits the bill to the T. +1 to guys who worked on it.

P.S.: Just realized ofcourse is not really a valid word in dictionary!

Notes from Shawshank Redemption

The Shawshank fever is up on me. Here are a few posts in the last couple of days about it.

So anyway, I saw the film and I decided to read the original short story by Stephen King on which the book is based. And I made notes alongside and I tried to think of Nidhi's story while reading it. Here are some notes that I made while I was doing so. Might be of interest to some of you.

Oh, this assumes that you are aware of the Shawshank as a story. If you are not, a quick glance to the wikiedia page would bring you upto speed. And if you were to watch just one more movie in the rest of your life, please go see Shawshank. It's that good. Not just me, but all those people on IMDB agree as well, for it tops the list of best movies made. Ever.

So coming back, here are the notes.
  • Nidhi's story is similar to Andy's. Not the jail and other things but the one before that. A society girl, a pro sportsman and an estranged husband. King took less than 6 pages to paint such a vivid picture of the story that I want to continue reading it even after it is over. I, on the other hand expect to take about 300 pages to narrate it. And I am assuming that someone would actually sit for all the hours it takes to read 300 pages and finish reading the story.
  • Apart from Andy's story, there are a million simple little side plots in the story that are stories in themselves (Red's story, the guy who smuggled his coin collection in prison and hid it somewhere, the clerk from the store that testifies against Andy, Jake the pigeon, the boss at Foodway etc.). Nidhi's story on the other hand, is as flat, simple, straight, plain, bland as they come. Would one single long bland story interest readers? I dont know. I will find out though. 
  • The dialogues are as amazing as they come. They are preachy, insightful and yet made up of simple words that I and other common folk would understand and comprehend. For Nidhi, I am not relying on a lot of dialogues but it would be nice to have some. I will have to work on it. I will do it. 
  • Analogies ("every one of those seven has an ass as hard as the water drawn up from a mineral-spring well", "the pigeon was just as dead as a turd", "cockroach on a wedding cake") etc. King seems like a master of these. I dont think I can cook such things. I dont think I have a vivid enough imagination to think of how to compare a prisoner who has broke out of prison to a cockroach on a wedding cake. Thankfully I dont really have any prisoners in Nidhi's story but there are more than one shady characters. I need to get creative and start seeing a lot more cake shops, turds, mineral-spring wells. You get the drift I think.
  • I need to get creative with simple objects and make the narrative better. King calls a ten dollar note, a picture of Alexander Hamilton. I later found that Hamilton is one of those former presidents of the US and graces the ten dollar bill. The way Gandhi does most of our bills. I could have never imagined that I could call currency notes anything but notes. Or cash. Or wad. Or something like that. And not just currency, there is a lot. So I think once I finish one draft of Nidhi's story, I would get busy with these interesting things. 
  • Characters. I have come to understand that a story is about three things. Characters. Characters. And Characters. Everything else is useless. If you ignore the cliche and indulge me, most stories have the same structure and same plot. A common man is wronged by a situation or a person. The man then fights back and avenges the wrongdoing. And then lives happily ever after or dies in peace. Campbell actually wrote a book about this. You must read it if you are interested in writing or interested in characters. The way King creates these characters is amazing. Like the Warden. He does not talk about how bad or corrupt he is, there are only degrees that he can talk about. Instead he talks about another Warden and then simply says that the new Warden was twenty times badder than the previous one. Simple and yet effective. 
All these things that I could take a note of, dawned onto me while I read the short story during the day, interspersed with bouts of fitful sleeping and trying to better my time at solving a Rubik's Cube over a shitpot. It stands at 3 minutes and 40 seconds at the time of writing this. The world record, to put things in perspective, is 5.66 seconds

To summarize, I have realized that I am not even half good as the tip of the nail of the pinkie of King's lesser used  hand. I know its early days for me. But then, I am on the road already and there is no stopping me now. The question is, how far do I get to travel on it and do I meet Stephen King somewhere down the road? 

You, as the reader of the Nidhi Kapoor Story, could help me along that road. If you read it, please share your feedback on it. Make it as brutal and as critical. Point out flaws and hide the good bits. Make me suffer in the agony of my failure. Help me see things that I cant. May be, just may be, you would thus help me move on the road faster! And you know what? Thank you in advance for doing so. 

And like I said in the beginning, do read the short story and do see the movie if you haven't.

P.S.: This is day 5 on the trot that I have published something on my blog! Yay baby! Here are the links to the posts on 17th, 18th, 19th and 20th.

P.P.S.: If you are interested in reading a slightly modified version of this post that includes some headings, I posted it on the Nidhi Kapoor blog. No, not Nidhi's blog. But the book's blog. 

Andy, Red and Nidhi Kapoor. sgMS. And Poker.

Today evening I was home and had nothing to do. I took out time and wrote that longish rant on freedom. And while writing the post, I read about Shawshank. And then I read some quotes and saw a few clips online. And then I got the movie and saw it.

While I was seeing the movie, a few really interesting things happened. For starters, it gave me insights into how I live my life viz a viz the inmates at Shawshank. And more importantly, it gave me insights into what all could be still done with The Nidhi Kapoor Story (tnks) to make it better. Let me use bullet points to talk about this further.
  1. So far the story is about three characters, Nidhi, Renu and Prakash. The entire story is not really narrated by someone, as Red does in Shawshank. What if, tnks was narrated by someone. I dont know if this will make the material any good but it would be exciting for sure. It would also mean that I would have to rewrite a large chunk of what is already on paper. But then, I have a responsibility towards the readers of tnks and I have made them a promise and I would re-write as many times as I think is required to get the story in a readable shape. If not for twists and turns, I want people to have a good time while reading the book. So, over the next few days, I need to figure out the way forward.
  2. Apart from the change narrative and the plot, the scene from Shawshank where Andy, Red and their gang is painting the roofs with tar, it gave me yet another gimmicky idea for marketing tnks. After all, beneath the damn bald (ing fast) head, I have a marketing brain on my shoulders. Its early days to talk about it here but I am really excited about it.
  3. Live life from each character's perspective and then write it. And not as a journalist with a third rate publication. But as a real person. What emotions would someone go through if her favorite pets are killed? What emotion would a guy go through when the love of his life is fucking his best friend? What emotion would the reader go through while he is reading about the unfaithful girl? So on and so forth. 
I know am not taking the story forward with these things but I am definitely putting shape to the ideas that I had in my head. And I believe that it would do a world of good. That's it for Nidhi.

Apart from Nidhi, the other woman that occupies my head a lot is sgMS. I will talk about her now.

So, today, something interesting happened. I met this really old and really good friend for coffee. She knows me in and out and I really thank my stars that I am friends with her. She made me realize that my fascination for sgMS may be misplaced and I need to move on. She made me realize that if she is happy without me, actually enjoying her life without me being around, I have no right to interfere. What if she was brought on Mother Earth for me!

So, since its something that I can control by myself, I have decided to flip the switch and have decided to move on. And try and find some real love. I mean I know I cant find real love but I would let these accidents happen now. I would live. I would be free. Remember the post I made yesterday about freedom?

I know I have made this promise to myself at least a hundred times earlier, if not more. But this time, its for real. Andy, in Shawshank says, Get busy living, or get busy dying. Here is a poster.

Its one of THE most powerful set of words ever written. All this while, I was busy dying. Now, this day onwards, I am going to live. And get busy with it. And there is no place for sgMS in that busy life. But then the fact remains that she is above everything else. She defines the beginning. And she defines the end of all my endeavors. She is that important. Whatever we shared for whatever duration, was special and I feel blessed to have had that. But like every good thing, I guess the relationship has served its purpose. And I need to move on. And I would. 

Finally, the third thing that I want to talk about today is poker. 

Since I left my job in July, I have spent a large chunk of time playing poker. With real money, online and offline. And with moderate success. But then I realized that I was getting addicted to poker. Like I get addicted to all forms of games of chance. I promise that as a part of this get-busy-living phase of life, I would take a sabbatical from poker. I would read about it alright, I would talk about it, but I would not play. Except the coming week.

That's if for the time being for an update and a blog post. This is also the third post in as many days. A welcome change, since I hadn't written for a large chunk of this month. Do check out the FB page for The Nidhi Kapoor Story and Like it if you like what you see there. 

P.S.: This is like a daily diary on steroids. Writing, fiction, fact, inferences, thoughts et al. Four days on the trot. Lets see how long do I continue it this time. 

What is it to be free?

Before I get into a long drawn rant, I want to show a picture, if you guys are interesting in reading this. So, I dont know who sent this to me. Or may be I found this on the Internet somewhere. But its am amazing picture that I would want as a background on my phone / laptop.

And you may want to read this tweet that I sent out today morning.

So coming, to the post, this friend and I, we met over lunch today and we got talking about life and times and careers and money and opportunities and other such things that two wannabes talk about. We also spoke about the fact that we are on the wrong side of age now. He's 34. I am 31. We were at Breeze and while he was busy getting drunk at 11 in the morning, I was content with a mere Red Bull.

So the thing with Breeze is that, on your left, you can see Bandra, Andheri and the sea beyond all those hazy buildings. In front of your eyes is the Powai lake and Vihar lake and the mountains, all these hidden by those multistory towers of Hiranandani. On your right are more buildings by Hiranandani and the hills. Its probably the best view of Mumbai that poor us can afford, second only to the view from AER.

These views, the bird's eye views, its like being on top of a miniature city that someone built and then abandoned. From such a vantage point, the city that never sleeps looks like a ghost town. You can only see the hazy outlines of buildings and the geometric continuity that these buildings seem to make in the distance.Of course there are cars and trains and other things that you can see but these are mechanical and scaled down. You don't see the detail, the very detail that brings the world alive for us.

Anyway, that is not important. And that is not why I wrote this.

I wrote this because we had this interesting discussion about being free. Free like birds that we could see flying among those tall buildings and going up and down at their whims. Free like that wind that was blowing at that height and was free to chose the direction it went in. Free like those thoughts that run amok when you are on a drive. Free like that free man that Morgan Freeman talks about in Shawshank Redemption. For the uninitiated, he says,
“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...”
We, the friend and I, we talked about it. About being free.

And then an amazing realization dawned upon us. We could be free as well. Free like those birds. Free like a man on the start of a long journey.

And all we needed to do was to hold our phones like we were holding a cricket ball. And then extend our arms all the way back. As back as it goes. Even bend backwards while we are stretching the arm back. Take a deep deep breath. Place our feet on a firm footing. As firm as they come. And then fling the arm, the whole upper torso towards the emptiness below us. And just when the arm is out there, travelling away from our body, let that deep breath escape from your body. The breath that had been trapped all this while. You let it go. And with it, you let go of your phone. The one that you were holding like a ball. The one thing that has been stopping you from letting go and being free.

But we did not. We did not have the balls or money to do so. We had he money but we weren't free. We weren't ready to be free.

The route is out there. Its simple really. Its only about doing it. Some day soon. I promise to myself, that I would be free. Free like a free man on the start of a long journey. Soon.

Gravity, the movie. Review.

Gravity - Poster
Yesterday, I finally saw Gravity. The movie. I had to watch it. Everyone on my Twitter timeline, my Facebook has been talking about it. And not just talking, raving about it. And how.

Everyone said its the best movie to have come out of Hollywood, ever. EVER. Better than all the other movies that I know are great but couldn't appreciate. Better than all other love stories, better than all those car chases, better than those animated ones, better than those thrillers, better than anyone and everyone. Peer pressure. Sigh.

So, coming back, the movie is about a bunch of astronauts who are up there, in space, and working on a space station. Something goes wrong and the ship they are on, is destroyed. The story is about these astronauts, who despite their respective personal demons, try to survive and make their way back to Mother Earth. Against all odds. That's it. Pretty simple story. I am surprised that I could narrate it all in one line. How often can you do that for a movie?

The Good and The Bad
Coming to the good and bad bits, there isn't much to write about. After all, we just have two actors (George Clooney and Sandra Bullock), some voices and a few dead bodies as the entire cast.

The few bits that I loved in the film, I'd talk about those. But its going to be a spoiler. Read at your own peril. One of the scenes when Sandra Bullock manages to get inside a ship, in zero gravity, she curls up like a baby. I loved that scene. To me, it was like a new birth for her. Against all odds. And when she is on Earth and she is trying to come out of water, to me it was like evolution. The way sea creatures would have stumbled on Earth. Loved the direction. Loved the acting. Loved these two sequences.

Apart from this, I am not sure what to write / talk about from the film. There were some interesting lessons. The ones about loneliness on space, fear of the unknown et al but to be honest, I personally find those very depressing. May be because I need people around me all the time. I am as social as us humans come. I'd skip over those parts.

Despite my disappointment with the film, if you do decide to see it, please do so in 3D. Because it has some of the finest footage on space. I am assuming its all computer generated but it is so breathtaking that you ought to watch it. In a cinema hall with a large screen. And in 3D.

There, I recommended Gravity as well. Like everyone else on my timeline and wall. But not for the movie or the story, but for the brilliant documentary that it would have made.

In the end, if I was to rate this as a film, I'd say its average. If I was to rate this as a documentary about space, I'd say its poor (for all the factual errors in it). If I was to rate this as a visual delight, I would give it full marks. I would say is exceptional.

Finally like I said on twitter just after the movie ended, the best part of Gravity? The trailer of Lego, The Movie. Watch it here.

P.S.: And here is an idea for film makers. I sincerely believe that if you can create content documentaries as beautiful as Gravity, you can actually get audiences to come to cinemas and pay a lot of money. All we need is someone to stake the documentary makers. May be I would, some day!

Untitled 17Oct2013

Its been some days that I have written. Not 1000 words on this blog. Not 3000 words for tnks. Not 5000 for immortality. Not. A. Single. Word.

And on last count, before this piece, its been seventeen days, (one seven , 17) since 922 that I've written. 922 is important because after 922, its 100 days to the end of the year and I paced tnks to end in 100 days.

Out of 25 days since 922, when I started tracking my progress, I have not written for 17 days. Well done Mr. Garg.

This time, I dont want to blame anyone for my laziness. Like all the other times, I can pile it on people, friends, family, health, etc. But I know I'd not be truthful about it. I know the ones who want to write, will write even if they are in a battlefield and their writing arm has been cleaved off their body. People even work two jobs and then write with whatever time is available to them. Remember Hugh's sex and cash theory?

Time and again I have realized that I want to be a writer. And time and again I have realized that I lack the discipline to be one. But then, if I cant be disciplined enough to chase my biggest interest, biggest passion, making my fingers dance on the keyboards, what good am I to talk of grandiose plans to make a dent?

I am actually on leave from regular employment while I try to find my footing as a writer. And as a writer, my biggest responsibility towards myself (and no one else) is to actually write. Even if its a small silly piece, I have to write. Even at the face of rejections, I need to keep sending those letters to publishers and editors. Even if I dont have any fans patrons, I must not lose hope.

That thing they say? The one about baby steps? I need to take those. And keep taking those even when I stumble and fall down. Wait, I cant stumble or fall down. I am not taking any steps in the first place!

I know about my laziness and I know that I have issues on finishing things. With tnks, I am determined that I would finish it. I have made promises in the past and yet I have not done anything about those. I have tried to hire someone to manage me and yet I have been unsuccessful at it. I even put a nice calendar on my writing table. I even told someone to collect 1000 bucks from me for everyday that I dont write. And despite all the emotional, financial, mental penalties, I have not been able to deliver. May be I can not. May be I need to quit? May be. But then, not before Nidhi Kapoor is out in the market. Even if I have to self publish it.

I have read about artiste that were lazy and were masters of procrastination and yet they ended up doing ok in life. Can I, with all the baggage that I carry on my shoulders, end up like those? When I look back at this blog some years from now, will I be able to laugh it away? I dont know. Maybe I will. Maybe I wont.

But for the time being, I am depressed. Very very depressed. I think I can relate to all those have beens and almost theres. We all know that there is some spark and we all know that we have potential. Just that we fail to use it to ignite large fires.

And the worst part, I dont even have alcohol to fall back on. What alternatives do I have? This Calvin strip is very close to how I feel.

Jerry, Micky and SG!

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

I now know what I want to do in life. And unlike all previous times, this time I am serious. So serious that I am going all-in this time.

So before I talk about it, have you guys seen Jerry McGuire? The guy who magically gets Rod Tidwell another contract, just when everyone else had dismissed him? And if you dont know Jerry, do you know Micky Goldmill? Rocky's manager? In the Rocky series? The guy who gets Rocky to perform those magical things in the boxing ring? The power behind Rocky's famously powerful punches?

No? Ok, so Jerry is a celebrity manager and is supposed to manage professional career of athletes. Micky is supposed to help Rocky with his fights.

Either man has no direct correlation to what their clients make their living from. And yet, by their mere presence around the character, they impacted the careers and lives of their clients. And what if they are fictional characters? The dreamer in me refuses to believe that these characters can't be for real!

I did my research and my experience with Gravity came in handy. I realized that a very similar profession does exist in India as well. We call them artist managers. However unlike the western counterparts, we don't really manage careers or impact lives. All we do is sell their time and carry their bags around when they are jet-setting the world.

And that, my friends, is what I want to do in life. Manage a superstar and carry his/her bags around the world as we s/he performs all over the world at exotic locations. And nothing else.

I in fact tweeted this a few minutes back.
I thought after this tweet, I would be inundated with job offers from all parts of the country. I even wrote apology letters to the ones who don't select me.

But alas, no one replied. May be today being the middle of the weekend, people did not see it. May be you, dear reader, could help.

So, if you are a superstar and you need a brilliant porter to carry your coffee, tea, bags, puppies, phones etc around, you know what to do. I can speak English and Hindi, I get visas easily and I hold a MBA degree. Oh, I have about 2000 twitter followers and once you hire me, I assure that the number would only swell up. This could come handy when we you are performing somewhere and want your fans to take a note. Do call me for an interview and I can show around my talent with bags and visas.

And, most importantly, here are my contact details.

The first copy of #tnks

I just sold the first copy of The Nidhi Kapoor Story.

And I am so thrilled about it. So thrilled that I am still shivering as I write this.

It came as a surprise. At a moment when I wasn't expecting it.

I bumped into VK's mentor at a mall. I was seeing him after almost a year and even though he had a tough time remembering my name, he still asked me to stop by and bring him up-to speed about what I was doing in life. And we spoke for some 15-20 minutes on topics ranging from life to work to money to big-bangs and small fires and yoga and books. And just when I was leaving, he asked me what was I going to price the book at. I couldn't think of a number and I said 99. He opened his wallet, flipped a 100 rupee note, gave it to me and said, "This is the advance for the first copy of your book".

At that moment I didn't make a lot out of it. But after he left and reality hit home, I realized what he had done. This has to be amongst the best things that anyone has done for/to me. Ever.

That time, I just said a meek thank you and left. But now, after all this time, I am speechless. Its been some time and I still cant think of a way to thank him for the gesture.

Sir, if you are reading this, thank for buying the first copy. Thank you for the motivation and support. Thanks so much for your faith and confidence in me. Hope you like it when you read it.

RIP Steve Jobs

No other human being has been able to inspire me as much as Steve Jobs did.

Its been two years since he's gone and I still miss him. There is not a single task that I do before asking myself, "how would Steve Jobs do it". And then I try and do it like that. Every single task. Every single time.

Ofcourse I am not as awesome as he was and I am forced to cut corner and rely on shortcuts. But he remains an inspiration and a guiding light. He is still someone that I look upto. He's still someone I seek approval from. He's still someone that I want to talk to when I am in deep shit. He's closest thing to God that I have had.

I sincerely wish I could work with him. Even if I was a minion in his army, I would have loved it. But then such is life. Like Tim Cook said, "he left this world a better place". I hope when I leave the world, I would leave it better, if not happier. Just like him.

Finally, Thank you Steve. I am nowhere close to you in terms of how I think or how I work but I would continue to strive. With you being my guiding light.

Thank you.

7 things that an event manager cant live without

This is the third post in series. Read the first two here (post 1, post 2). This series started as a rant on my previous profession. And then someone asked me to leave the rant and try and talk about other things true about the event management profession. Post 2 and this one are a result of that. This is also cross posted on Medium as a collection

1. Cigarettes. With or without hash. No no. Its illegal but I think I have seen some people using loaded cigarettes while they are running a show. Nothing like a cigarette to beat all the stress that piles up on your head while you are at it.

Actually, cigarettes are lot more than mere stress busters.

Cigarettes help you kill time. No one questions when you want to take a break for smoking. On the other hand, you say you want to go pee and you’d get frowns. You say you want to go eat, people would laugh at you. But no sir, when you have to go smoke, its like a national emergency and you’d be excused. And may be given a warm farewell for your smoke break.

Cigarettes are social. The entire concept of smoking and drifting towards an inevitable death is communal. You are bound by death when you smoke together. And thus more friendships are forged by sharing a 84 mm stick than by vows or promises or other such old school things. It brings strangers together. Its an ice-breaker where you dont have to struggle for a question to approach the stranger. All you need is a simple, “You’ve got a light?”

Cigarettes remove social barriers. I have seen richer than the richest and poorer than the poorest coming together to smoke. I have even seen them begging for a stick. If not for a stick, then for a matchbox. Like Bachchan said, religion divides people whereas alcohol brings them together, I reckon cigarettes bring people closer.

You may be the ugliest of frogs and you may want to date the most charming princess and you may not know how to approach the princess. No worries. Just hold a stick in your hands and ask for a light.

I know there is a beautiful love story waiting to be written that is started by innocuous sharing of a stick Someone just needs to write it. May be I would someday.

2. Red Bull. No this post is not sponsored by Red Bull. It would be nice, if it were. But unless there is a crate of Red Bull in sight, no event qualifies to be called an event. We need wings to be able to run an event. Even if you are used to the taste of Red Bull and rush that it gives you.

Thing with Red Bull is that its more psychological than anything else, in my opinion. I may not be tired, I may not need it. But like Pavlov’s dogs, moment I know that I am going to run an event, my mind, my body starts craving for a Red Bull.

Red Bull I think is more than that. Its a symbol of respect. You see there are hierarchies in the event agency. And these hierarchies are reinforced in subtle ways. Red Bull is one such method. Since its expensive, not everyone can afford one. Not everyone can claim the bill for a Red Bull. If cigarettes unite, Red Bull divides.

And, to re-iterate, no, this post is not sponsored by Red Bull. But it would be a good idea if they would.

3. Profanities. There is nothing that brings out emotions better than liberal use of profanities. “Dude, can you raise the hall lights” is not as effective as “Mother fucker! Why is the hall so dark? Is your wife fucking a monkey in there? Raise it up”. But then, this may be limited to just me.

Not just emotions. Profanities is also about urgency. If I need something done tomorrow, I would say, “please”. If I want something done now, I’d be officious and say, “Do it”. But if I want something done yesterday, I’d say, “Mofo!”. And everyone, every Tom, Dick and Harry (or Ramesh, Suresh and Pappu in Indian context) knows this.

You know, next time you are doing something stressful, try it. Create a control group. Use milder things like “please”, “can you” etc to talk to the control group. And to the subject group, use profanities. the cruder the better. As crude as a pirate may get. And then compare the results.

Btw, if you are a parent of my prospective bride or you are thinking about me in a romantic manner, I no longer work with an events company and thus I dont engage in use of these sick words.

But, if you are a prospective employer, hire me. I am dying to work again. Hopefully at an event company.

4. Alcohol. In any form, shape, size, colour, glass. Take your pick. The guy I reported into, he loved Whiskey and Red Bull. My DJ friend loves Vodka and Red Bull. My God (of events) wants cheapest whiskey made in India and just some water.

I on the other hand was content with Breezers, that too once in a while.

I have known people to consume anything and everything starting from Beer to Wine to Whiskey to Vodka.

I have seen all sorts of people, celebrities, actors, models, cricketers, dancers, singers, carpenters resorting to alcohol just before a show. Apparently it soothes their nerves.That is before the event. And when the show goes off well, they need something to celebrate. Something that simulates their calmed nerves. What do they do? Drink! And add cigarette to the concoction, we have a winner on our hands.

Trust me, the bitching sessions that happen after an event, after everyone of importance is drunk, after all the idle banter has happened, is like a gold mine. Secrets, skeletons, dead bodies come out tumbling in such sessions. Thanks to these sessions, I know which actress is sleeping her way to success, which producer is hands in glove with unions, which VP is screwing which trainee, which company is bribing which minister and how much, which dude is going to resign, which client would become more important in the next few years, why am I bald, why is the Earth round, why do people do what people do. If only I had the sense to carry a tape recorder while I was working, I would have been richer than Scrooge McDuck by now. Hell I could’ve even defected to US of A and become their informant and lived a lavish life in their witness protection program. Its actually my dream to be able to do that some day (to be able to inducted into WITSEC). Its on the top of my bucket list.

And like I said earlier as well, if you are a prospective bride, no I dont booze. And if you are a prospective employer, a Cranberry Breezer please.

5. Run Order. This is a sheet of paper that has the order of events printed on it. If you see this sheet, you’d know what you are supposed to do. If you follow this sheet, your job is reduced to that of a puppet master, with every action for every puppet written on it. Its that important!

And yet more often than not, this is what everyone ignores and this is what separates a good event manager from bad.

Apart from being able to run a smooth and flawless event, if you have the sheet of paper in your hand, you can be officious and yell on people. I mean you can anyway yell on people if you are an event manager but then the run order makes it official. Like a 2RsPeople referee can yell on a million dollar footballer, you can yell on a client, on a movie star, on an item dancer, on the hotel manager, on the audience, on everyone in that room.

But if you dont have this sheet of paper in your hand, you lose it. The right to yell on people. After all, the written word is like a thing cast in stone. Everyone can see it. And even if you disagree with it, you can NOT change it.

And once the event is over, the sheet is still useful. For starters, you can flag this sheet of paper in a client’s eye if something goes wrong and he wont get offended. You can use this to roll a joint. You can use this sheet to take clandestine notes while you are gossiping with the client. You can even use it to break ice with that unsuspecting cute woman who you may spot at a club and you know that she is the one that you have been waiting all your life for.

And so on and so forth.

Bottomline, a run order is a sacrosanct document that you better keep handy at all times. Before, during and after the event. I in fact carry an old event run order in my bag even now. You never know when I get to meet the one I have been wanting to be with.

6. Mobile Phone. Not just to make frantic phone calls while you are panicking but to play brick breaker (if its a Blackberry) or WhatsApp with that item dancer that is performing at your event (if its an iPhone). No, a real event managers do not use an Android phone. If you are an event manager and you are reading this and you use an Android phone, your will hit a glass ceiling very soon. Even if its a top-end phone by Samsung or Google. Two words. Glass. Ceiling.

This means you’d spend the rest of your life packing and unpacking boxes and fighting with customs all over the world. This means that you’d not be able to party after an event because you are supposed to work on the dismantle. This also means that the date with that item dancer that you have been dreaming of since the first time you invited her to perform, that will not happen. Unless you switch to an iPhone.

I use an iPhone and yes, I have had the pleasure of having coffee with couple of these women. On different occasions.

Like all previous things, if you are a prospective bride or a prospective employer, you know the disclaimer already.

7. Facebook! This is a surprisingly recent phenomena. I am not hoked on FB, as it is lovingly called. Yet.

But I do see people posting their pictures when at airports or with celebrities. I see people checking in at those fancy hotels where we get to work. I see people tagging each other when they are partying. I see attempts, often failed ones, to add those items dancers and celebrities as "friends". I see people posting pictures from the events that they are working on. I see them posting pictures of impressive setups and other things. I see them trying to solicit work.

So far I have failed to understand the reasons and benefits of all these things. Of course its a marketing tool. But if I am marketing myself, do I also want to show that picture that I clicked at PatPong where I am mobbed by ten strippers entertainers? Do I want to feel miserable about all the cars that a young singer is buying. And when I compare those cars to my ten year old Santro, at least I get severe bouts of depression. And this is just the car. There is so much more to get depressed about on Facebook. Better stay away. No?

But then, thats me. A bald, old, ex-event manager. The younger flock, they flock the Facebook as if their lives depend on it. I have seen people using it while they are running a show, while they are partying, white they are on the potty, while they are eating, while they are walking, while they are sleeping, while they are working and while they are spending time on Facebook. Inception anyone? Facebook inside facebook! Wow that's an app idea!

Anyway, while we are talking about FB, here is a small advert. Begin Advert. I do use facebook and I made a page for the book that I am writing - The Nidhi Kapoor Story. I have close to 100 likes on that page and I would love it if I could get some more. Please help. Please like. I promise that I'd do something special for the first 500 people that like the page. The numbers are going up real fast. And you still have a chance. Go there and like! End Advert.

Guess this is it for the time being. What about you? Are you an event manager? Do you agree to these seven? What can you not live without?

And while you are at it, you may want to read the entire collection on Medium!

The pursuit of frivolous things. And #no!

So today, on this blog, personal blog, Id talk about a friend. A really good friend. Without getting into specifics, lets call him SS. Damn! another friend that has a name that starts with S! So this SS is an awesome guy. As good as a guy could get. Better than me. Really. He has everything going for him. Except that he cant seem to find his way in this big wild world. Pretty much like me. Lost. If I had any more hair, I would be him. Or even if I had more money, I'd be him. But then he's got a job and a girl as well. So that makes him three times better than me. Or may be 333 times. Who knows.

So the point is, that this guy is on a mission. Arent we all? The mission to make a dent. Where have I heard the dent word? And unlike me, he knows what his dents gonna be like. And I know what it is. And its pretty awesome. But then like VK says, everyone has some or the other shit happening all the time. And this guy is no different. He has his own set of demons that he needs to fight. Who doesnt? But then unlike me and others, SS knows those demons. He can see those in the face. How I wish I could see mine.

And here is the fuck up. Despite knowing his demons, he refuses to do anything about em. I can see my reflection in him. We could be twins if at all. He excels are procrastination and is lazy beyond comparison. He has a tough time saying no. He cant prioritize. He knows what he is supposed to work on but often that takes the back seat. No, no I am not talking about myself here. I am far worse. I dont even know what I am supposed to work on. 

Fuck up is that I think it would be a great loss to mankind if he continues to waste his time in pursuit of frivolous things and misses the important ones that he ought to work on. But then, who am I to decide what is important and what is frivolous for him? Damn the dude has left me confused. As confused as sgMS makes me.

Anyway to end this, SS, dude! You need to learn. And if not from the books, if not from movies, if not from other people, at least learn from your mistakes. No?

Start saying #no!
At least start saying no? Its your life. You came by yourself and you'd alone. There's be noone to give you company. If there is just one thing that I can make you do, it would be to give the gift of the ability to start saying no. Here, use the hashtag. #no.


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?