The grand thekas of Gurgaon!

If you've been following this blog and last few updates, here's a piece of news. The deal is off. And this does not mean I would stop writing (I did miss the post day before, I'd try not to miss anymore). 

P.S. To be honest, I dont really like the way I have written this post but here goes. I'd try to re-write this again tomorrow but this is it for the time being.

So today, we had a small party thrown by one of the nicest guys I have ever worked with.

A little background. The place where I work, we have this tradition of throwing parties and bashes for all significant and insignificant occasions. Most of these parties are full of loud music, bucket full of alcohol and dirty jokes on each other. And most of the time we want to save money, so these things happen at home of a colleague. But today, since this party was long overdue and we were partying after some time, we decided to goto some place, rather than binge on food on a make shift table and consume alcohol in an assortment of glass types (you must try drinking beer in wine flute).

Coming back to the party, we went to a place called Night Riders. This is very close to one of the stations of the new Rapid Metro coming in Gurgaon. Rapid Metro in my opinion is yet another fast one pulled on the government and us tax payers by someone. More on it someday later. Right now, I am going to talk about fancy wine shops (or thekas as we know them in India).

They say that Gurgaon is probably the only place in India where you can find a modern wine shop stacked with all sorts of alcohol open at all times of day and night but you can NOT find a chemist if you need one at 1 in the afternoon. Such as the economics of the alcohol venting business in Gurgaon. If you live in Gurgaon, there is no way you would've missed these fancy alcohol shops, selling a wide range of beers, vodkas, whiskeys, rums and other spirits from all over the world.

Funny thing is that all the fancy wine shops have "government approved drinking places" attached to the stores, where you step inside and consume your liquor that you buy  from the theka outside. The drinking places will give you glasses, ice, water, soda, coke etc to mix with your drinks. And they would give you a wide range of choice in cuisine that you want to have. Today, we ordered Chinese, Mughalai, Italian, South Indian and Tandoori food. All from one kitchen and everything as tasty as it could get.

Today was the first time when I went inside one of these. And I was blown by the ambiance and courtesy extended by these places. The waiters and managers there could speak almost perfect English to start with. The place offered excellent seating facilities with a choice of plastic chairs, bean bags, sofas, couches, roof top tables, private cabins, air conditioned rooms and what not. You could sit in an area that was like an open courtyard, or you could sit under a leafy ceiling, or on an area that had mist sprinklers or on an area that had marble grains as floor or ofcourse an air conditioned room. The ceiling of the air conditioned room was done up nicely with an intricate modern arty design. They had a separate loo for men and women. And it was actually called "Men's Loo" and was cleaner than the loos at Ambience Mall. And they had technology like LED lights, karaoke system, DJ mixing console and a projection on a wall, that was playing, pay attention here, that was playing, VH1!

It was something out of a fiction book. In Gurgaon where almost everything is unplanned and there is perpetual construction and dust ever since I can remember (since my MDI days actually), I in my wildest dream could not imagine someone creating a place for consuming alcohol, complete with all these above-mentioned amenities. And I am told that these structures are allocated by the Govt. of Haryana for a period of one year, after which they have to dismantle these and apply for all over again. I am sure that the same set of people get to run these establishments year after year but its just too much effort to come up with a concept and a place like this, if you ask me. Funny bit is that people actually sit at these places and consume liquor and I dont think they pay anything additional to get the convenience and privacy offered by these places.

And for some funny reason, all these approved eating places are named after participants in yet another sham of modern India - the IPL. The thekas are called Night Riders, Royals of Rajasthan, Super Challenger, Dares and Devils et al. Of course all these names cant really be cooked up by multiple brains. If you are the copywriter who has thought of these names, I would love to hire you. Can you send in your CV? We can meet at Knight Riders for the interview, if you want!

Can a visit to Nirmal Baba's Samagam help?

Today I had some free time. I went to my Evernote and looked at all the things that I thought I would do. Going back to 2005. And I reazlied that although I am great at planning, I suck at implmenting. No great surprises here. Thats how I am. But then of all the parkedIdeas and other such conceptual things that were supposed to make me rich, there was something very very real. With goals as tangible as money in your wallet is. The goals around money.

Being an Indian, and a lower middle class Indian at that, money has always been a fascination. Its always at the back of my mind in everything I do. Making money, spending it, wagering it, saving it, looking at it, am constantly thinking about it.

So I thought, I'd make a list of my "tangible" money-related goals over the years and see what I expected an what I got.

And since we are talking about money, I remember most of the numbers. So, without further ado, here is a quick and dirty list. Please note that I am not talking about specifics here. If you are interested, write into me and I would get back.

  • When? aspiration around money
  • When I was a kid and played cricket all day long? nothing
  • When I was in college and wrote awesome code with C? Rs. 10,000 a month (Rs. 120,000 a year)
  • When I read about Bill Gates and got inspired to start something? Richest man on planet
  • When I entered MBA and was told that I could change the world? Rs. 10,00,000 a year
  • When I ended MBA and I realized that time to change the world has come? Rs. 50,00,000 a year
  • When I got my first salary and became the part of rat race? More than what my batchmates were making (Rs. 30,00,000 a year)
  • When I finished 7 years of working after my MBA, having changed 4 jobs, dragging my career alongwith? - Financial Independence (The NPV of my financial independence at INR 1 crores)
  • When I retire? I dont know yet.  

So, I did try and plot this in a chart. This is what I got.

Comparing the aspiration vs actual money, over the years

Like all my analyst friends, I also believe that charts hide more than they reveal. Though in my case a few things are quite clear. Here are these...
  • The greatest jump in my actual money came in when I finished my MBA. After that it has stayed on a steady growth path, except the last few years when it slowed in its growth and has come to a stand still. This may tell analysts that I fucked my career like anything and I am stuck with a glass ceiling.
  • With age, people tend to get closer to their dreams and grow faster. I on the other hand have been going away from my aspirations. My growth has also stalled in the last five years. 
  • My thinking about money changed drastically at three points in my life. One was when I learnt that there is someone called Bill Gates. Two was when I started comparing my salary with my peers (and when they started buying fancy cars, houses etc). And three when I turned 30 (this is when I thought I would chase larger goals in life, rather than a house etc).
  • If I am to bridge the gap between the two lines, I need some kind of a giant windfall gain. Ofcourse I dont have the balls to go loot a bank or something. So it has to be something that I start or something that I could be a part of. Where I put in efforts now and hope that in next five years, when the gap would widen even more, the efforts result into large returns. 
Thats about it for money right now. Does remind me that a pandit, once upon a time told me, I would struggle for money all my life. Half of it is over and looks like the prediction is actually true. I dont know what to do about it. May be I can go and seek Nirmal Baba's blessings at one of this samagams?

Confession. Type B.

There are two kinds of people.

Type A are the ones that believe in doing. Getting things done. Doing things. Actually putting pen to paper and taking action. For them, procrastination is the enemy number one. What ever is available to them, they would work with it. If they are writers and they dont have a table, they would sit on a park bench and write. If they are suffering from writers block, they would force themselves ever harder to write. If they are artists and they dont have the brush, they would make a brush and then sketch and draw. If they are inventors and they are short of tools, they would find an alternative or even go to the extent of making the tool. For them the output is what matters. For them, output is what drives them. They need to see measurable action. They need to get the work out of their system. If its a book, they want to write it and get it published. If its a painting, they want to finish it and hang it on a wall. If they are making a building, they want to finish it and let people occupy it. If they are trying to lose weight, they want to run even if they are barefoot. Of course, all this hurry does not mean that they cut corners. Or they compromise on the output. They still give it their best shot. They are still proud of what they achieve. They would learn from the mistakes and ensure that next time when they're doing it, they dont make the mistake. They would do. They are doers. They are type A.

Then there is Type B. The ones who want to do. Really really want to. Like give an arm and a led to do. The plan is ready. Its all there, but for the tools! Or they wait for the right time. Or the right tool. Or the right setting. Or the right team. Or the right idea. Or the right opportunity. Or the right running shoe. Or the right this, or the right that. Of course if they want so many rights, there are pretty high chances that they would continue to want. They would continue to wait. They would continue to plan. Again there is nothing wrong with this. You need to have fire and log and pot and pan if you are make dinner for yourself. You cant eat your food raw. Right? You can sleep hungry if required but unless you have the salt and the pepper, you cant really eat. Similarly, you need to have the perfect writing desk if have to write your best seller. You have to have the perfect board and perfect paint and perfect brush and perfect lighting and perfect model if you are to get that painting right. After all the work you have planned for will define your life. How can you get that piece wrong? You need to have all the tools and all the perfect tools at that, before you even begin. Its one shot at immortality and you better get it right. The risk of not even attempting that shot is unreal because good things happen to those who wait. Right?

Phew. Enough of a rant. A question now. What type do you think Steve Jobs, Bill Gates are? What type would Sachin Tendulkar, Shah Rukh Khan, Andre Agassi be? What type is your boss? What type is your driver? What type are you?

I dont know about you. But I hereby confess that I know that I am type B. And trust me, I have the perfect writing table and the perfect writing chair and the perfect pen and the perfect room temperature to sit in and the perfect this and that. Just that I dont have the perfect plot! Sounds familiar?

So, I need to quickly become type A, if I am to do any of those millions things that I want to do. Project 1000WADv2 is an attempt in that direction. So far so good.

And as it turns out, I dont really have forever to live!

A ten hour long meeting

Day before yesterday, I started reading this book called ReWork by the founders of the famous 37 signals. There's nothing new in the book to be honest but it had best seller written all over it. Nuggets of one page quick-read "advice", interspersed with motivations "doodles", counter-intuitive tips that can assure success and anecdotes that dont necessarily fit in to the context. Nothing wrong with it. There is a constant demand for self-help books for the entrepreneur types (like me) and these are the people who are living the American entrepreneurial dream. Am sure a lot of people would love this book. I do too. 

So, one of the important themes in the book is about talking less and doing more. And one of the things that, in their opinion, makes you work lesser, is meetings. They say that if you drag 8 people in one hour meeting, its not really a one hour meeting, but its a 8 man-hour meeting. So what you achieve in those 8 hours must be economically worth 8 man-hours. Today I entered a meeting at 11 and came out of it at 9. Of course we broke for lunch, dinner, coffee, pee etc. But the point is, there were seven people in the meeting, for all these 10 hours and there were atleast 5 people on the sidelines. Of course these 5 people are amongst the lesser equals, so their time is not important. But the other 7 people, I think they bill mini-fortunes per hour to their respective companies and by the time today's meeting ended, their companies may be staring at a fiscal crisis, if not a prospect of bankruptcy.

We invested 70 man-hours of effort today in a meeting and I am not sure of the output. I am sure that in 70 hours, I could have done so much more. Here is an indicative list...
  • Drive from Delhi to Mumbai. And back. One of the things on my bucket list, since I can remember.
  • Log in a week full of ten hour days. This means, more than one fourth of my monthly work time.
  • Write a novella. I am working on one and I could easily complete it at the rate of 300 words per hour. This post, 2700 words, took 9 hours.
  • Walk 3,50,000 steps at the rate of 5000 steps per hour. Roughly about 300 KMs. Enough to reach some hill station to escape the heat in Delhi. And burn 17000 calories. Or lose 34 KGs of weight. Wow! I could actually be fit if I spent these 70 hours on myself.
I am sure there are many more amazing things that I could do if I had 70 hours to myself. But no, the job I do requires me to massage the egos and put everyone else's time ahead of mine. And today I read this amazing piece by KK. I can tell you that these 10 hour long meetings and reading people like KK is a bad bad combination. Worse than those alcohol induced tweets about your ex.

And yes, thats it for the day. Until tomorrow...

P.S.: I have stopped using the tag 1000WADv2, because if I am going to write everyday, I dont really need the tag. However if there are times when I dont write, or there are times when I have an announcement, I shall use it.

The Eco Mode 2

Sometime in August of last year I made these two posts. Each of them is worth revisit. A Thursday and as a result, Eco Mode. To save time, Id summarize things here. In those two posts I said that I was very fucked up with how things were moving so slow in life and I needed to do something about it. And to do something, I needed money. And for money, since my dad is not rich, I needed to save. And to save, I needed to stop spending on frivolous things, and hence the eco mode.

Fast forward to May/June of 2013. About nine months since I first spoke about Eco Mode. Not much has changed. Delhi is hotter. I have lost more hair. I haven't stopped splurging and I am poorer than what I was back then, blame it on a few capital expenses. Yesterday I met a friend who just joined a startup and he's getting paid a tiny atomic bomb for his salary. In terms of numbers, he now makes 4 times compared to me. And he and I are classmates. Nothing wrong with it. He probably deserves it more than me. But he did open my eyes to possibilities that exist for me.

So like last time, I have decided that I would get into Eco Mode starting now. And today was a good start. I had to meet a friend and unlike most days when I take my car for any and every meeting, I took the metro. The journey in the metro sucked but it wasnt very tough. I could live with it. Of course I will not do this everyday but its manageable. Idea is to cut down on unnecessary expenses and save as much as I can.

Coming to money, I have just one savings account and just one credit card. I make all my expenses from the credit card, except tolls, parking and other small out of pocket expenses. This ensures that I have a bill for each transaction and I can verify the spends at the end of the month. And of course I get loyalty points that get me free air tickets.

So I want to take a break by the end of the year for a month or so. During that time I want to travel, probably write a book, take it easy. And I have seven six months to go. In the next six months, here are my measurable goals...
  • Save 40% of my income. From all sources. Right now I have one source of income. I need to increase it. Thats my other goal. 
  • Make money from 3 sources. And predictable income at that. 
  • Get monthly credit card bill to 50% of the average of previous six months' bills. 
Thats about it. If I can manage these three, I think I would be in a comfortable enough position to take a break.

Of course what I do with life and career is entirely different all together. More on it during one of these days in the 1000WADv2.

2700 Words - Of no consequence

Note: Starting August 2013, I am going to work full time to extend this "chapter" into a full length fictional story. I call it the Nidhi Kapoor Story. Do check out the website and the Facebook page.

As part of 1000WADv2, I am trying my hand at crime fiction. I wrote some 2700 words and I dint even touch the C of crime. Damn. Read on anyway and please share your feedback. Comment or email.

It began like any other day in the office for Prakash Mohile. As the chief inspector with the crime prevention bureau of Mumbai Police, his job was a tough one. For a city that more than two crore people call home, Mumbai had a very small police force of just about 41000 employees, divided into 89 stations. And with all the VIPs, film stars and industrialists that demanded constant protection from threats legit and otherwise, the force was always understaffed and overworked.

Amongst all the odd jobs that Prakash was responsible for, he was also in charge of protection net for those famous film stars. On the outside he came across as a no nonsense policeman with an impeccable service record and a clean image. He was even friendly with a few reporters on the crime beat with major newspapers. Like most mornings, today he was leafing through case files from the previous evening, hearing out the mercy pleas of kin of miscellaneous men arrested yesterday and barking instructions at his juniors. All at the same time. And not for a minute he stopped staring at Renu Sharma, the photo journalist with a nameless international publication. Renu was doing a photo essay on Mumbai police and though Mohile did not appreciate anyone interfering with the way he worked, Renu had been put in the station by the city Mayor and Mohile could not do a thing about it. Of course it helped that Renu was good looking, intelligent to talk to and obviously interested in more than merely professional relationship with Mohile.

Most cases today were as drab as they were on any other day. Same set of extortion calls, thefts, road accidents, celebrity altercations, union troubles. By the time officers spend five or so years in the police service, they become indifferent to all the miseries around them. Not Prakash. He had been in service for more than 10 years, or 10 years, 4 months and 3 days, as he liked to remind his staff every day. Every day while allocating casing to his subordinates, he would ponder on the meaning of life and unnecessary grief caused by these crimes. No surprises that he was most sympathetic to the issues of poor and helpless. And most indifferent to miseries of the rich. And as a result, he would allocate the cases of the fanciest film star to the worst of his team.

And it came as a surprise to everyone today when he kept a very high profile case for himself. Even Renu took note of it, now that she has been shadowing Prakash for well over a week now and was aware of his decisions. No body had the balls to question him, he was very clear in his head when he decided something. But then Renu did not subscribe to either fear or respect for Prakash. She was anyway known to be a loud mouth.

"So, Inspector Saab, finally you found a case worthy of your time? You are also going to chase lime light now with this stupid case of what looks like a petty theft at Nidhi Kapoor's house?", taunted Renu, while stuffing her things in her bag. She knew that once Prakash does the allocation, he wants every officer on the field.

Prakash just looked up at Renu, gave her his trademark smirk and went back to his files. That smirk, had as infamous reputation as any goon could have. Prakash used when he knew he was right and the other person dead wrong. For different people it meant different things. For suspects and criminals, it meant that Prakash has called their bluff and they were now in the bad books of Prakash. Forever. For his subordinates, it meant that they hadn't done their homework and were caught with their hands in the cookie jar. For people who did not know Prakash, it just came across as a silly smile of a tall, lanky balding old man. For Renu, however, it merely meant that Prakash was amused at the apparently smart comment by her.

Renu knew of the smirk. She could not tolerate her being dismissed like that. She egged on, "I know you like Nidhi Kapoor. Weren't you a part of her security detail when the premier of her last film was screened for the CM? There were quite a few pictures of you, her and the CM in all the newspapers. You do seem to have a soft corner for her".

"Stop wasting your time. If you want to come along, you better hurry up". Prakash said, while rushing out of the station. Renu had to almost run to reach the gates of the police station and grab a seat in Prakash's jeep. That's another thing. Prakash drove his jeep by himself. The driver was merely a watchdog and usher for the jeep; Prakash would park the jeep wherever he felt like, irrespective of the time of the day or the traffic in the city.

On the way, while they were crossing the Juhu Beach, Renu said, "Prakash Sir, we must come here sometime in the evening. I've heard the Pao Bhaji is to die for". The constables and the driver giggled softly at the overt display of affection. Prakash stared hard at them. His stare was enough to put the fear of God in anyone's head. All three of them shut their mouths in less than a second. Renu was quite amused with the scene and started looking at people milling around on the beach. She wondered why would someone come to a beach at 11 in the morning? Dint they have better things to do? Were they jobless. And then her thoughts drifted towards Prakash and the last week that she had spent with him. She knew she was craving for Prakash and despite him knowing it, he remains illusive. 

The jeep came to a halt all of a sudden and Renu was almost thrown out of the jeep, if only Prakash hadn't caught her. She did not know how to react. She was still shocked from the sudden break and yet she could feel the strong grip of Prakash on her arms. "Next time, you better sit in the back. These jeeps are not your luxury cars that you girls now a days are used to", said Prakash while getting down from the jeep. The constables had alighted by then and were already walking towards the front door of Nidhi Kapoor's house.

The access to house wasn't easy really. It was a Sunday and on each Sunday, precisely at noon, she would step outside on the balcony of her mansion and wave at her fans for exactly 2 minutes. And for some reason, the number of fans eager to get a glimpse of her, in flesh and blood, only went up every week. Today as well, the road opposite her house was jammed with bumper to bumper traffic and huge crowd that had gathered for the weekly sighting of Nidhi Kapoor. Renu had done a story on this phenomenon few weeks back and had captured pictures of residences of Kapoors, Khans and other acting clans. But for some reason, Renu felt that today there was this unrest in the crowd and rather than a bobbling mass of energy that these crowds normally are, today it was cold and distant. By this time Prakash had stopped the jeep in the middle of road and was scampering towards Nidhi Kapoor's house with his team. Renu ignored her thoughts and tried to keep pace with Prakash and his team.

Prakash was trying to wade through the crowd towards Nidhi Kapoor's house and when he heard his head constable and closet confidant in his team, Praveen Tambe, mutter, "I wish even I had these many people standing outside my house for my darshan. These film stars must be bribing God to give them such wonderful lives". Prakash turned to him and said, "Wait till we get back to station. I would hang you upside down, naked, in front of the station. Then you'd definitely get some audience". Praveen blushed for a moment and he stopped in his tracks for a minute. Only to be pushed around by crowd around him. Prakash said,"Move it bhai, we dont have all day. This case was sent to us by the commissioner's office". And he rushed towards the gate, with Tambe, Nidhi and another constable in the tow.

The guards on duty today were more alert than ever. Normally they would be sprawled on their chairs, under an umbrella and would be sipping on to their teas. Today they were alert and had made a security ring outside the main door. They even had their guns, which normally were out of sight, in full display. When they saw these four run toward the house, they got tense for a minute. But when they recognized Prakash and Praveen and heaved a sigh of relief. They tried to stop Renu but Praveen signaled that she was with them. The door opened just enough to let them through and then it closed behind them, faster and tighter than ever.

And suddenly, from the commotion on the street outside, they were in an expansive and yet well-maintained lawn. It was quiet and serene inside. It was as if they were teleported to a different place, a different time. Prakash looked up at the noise reduction barriers installed on top of the wall that made the periphery of the large house. Praveen followed Prakash's gaze and understood what Prakash was thinking. In the lawn, a  middle aged man was was pacing frantically around the chairs placed bang in the middle of the lawn. When he saw Prakash and his entourage, he ran towards them.

"Hello Inspector... Mohile", said Naveen Kapoor, eyeing Prakash's name badge. Naveen Kapoor continued, "I am Naveen Kapoor. Nidhi's uncle and her manager. I spoke to Commissioner Sharma in the morning only. Thank you so much for coming at this short notice. Sharma saab could not come? I was expecting him, you know."

"Mr. Kapoor. Sharma saab may not have time to chase wide geese like this. He had instructed me to visit you personally and here I am. Otherwise even I have other pressing matters to worry about. Can I please meet Ms. Nidhi now?" Prakash was clearly offended by Kapoor's demand to see the police commissioner and he cut the long monologue that Naveen had launched himself into.

"How dare you talk to...And who is she? And I clearly told Sharma saab, no photographers". Kapoor pointed at Renu and her camera.

Prakash said, "I know what you asked him. She is with us and she will be present while I am here. I can assure you that she will not click any pictures but she will stay. If you like it, we can stay and meet Ms. Nidhi. If not, we can go back to the station and wait for Mr. Sharma to get free and come and see you".

"I dont believe... Ok. She is in her room. Lets go there", Naveen started to argue but then thought better of it. He rushed towards the house.

The house was an impressive structure, shaped like a Pantheon. And thus it was tough to guess the number of floors. But the elevation looked like as if it was a three story structure. Prakash, Praveen and Renu started following Naveen Kapoor. Prakash nodded at the third policeman and indicated him to guard the main entrance. The policeman went off towards the main gate to the house.

"Who else lives in this house Mr. Kapoor?", asked Prakash.

"Here? Nidhi, her mother, her assistant, a couple of servants. That's about it. I live in a building in the next lane. I come and go as and when Nidhi or Nilima, my sister and Nidhi's mother need me.", replied Kapoor.

Prakash stared at his back and continued, "What about all those guards on duty at the main gate? Where do they live?"

"Oh, those, they dont live here. We've hired a security agency and four guards work here on 6 hour shifts each. So total of 24 guards. There is a room for security guards towards the end of the lawn. They use that room for wash and change", Kapoor said, pointing a finger at a small room on the far end of the house. From that room, someone with an intent and powerful set of equipment could keep an eye on the house and the entrance, without getting noticed.

Prakash whistled and said to no one in particular, "24 guards? For one woman? And when shes not even at the home most of the times? Why are we wasting our time here Tambe?". Tambe knew that he was not supposed to react. This was how Prakash worked.

Kapoor, as if he did not hear Prakash, continued. "Nidhi is the biggest superstar in the Indian film industry. Her last 3 movies have gone on to make more than 100 crores each on the box office. We have to be very cautious. Even the guards are not allowed inside the house. And the house has a biometric access system".

Kapoor put his thumb on an electronic scan pad, entered a string of numbers of the pad and opened the door for the group. He said, "please come in".

Renu all this while was seeping in the scenery around her. Nidhi Kapoor was obviously rich and had a fine taste. The house had been done nicely. The reception hall, or the drawing room, was rather large for Mumbai standards, with a nice chandelier hanging from the ceiling. She frowned at it. She thought chandeliers were a thing of past and nobody used them anymore. She hated it when she was proved wrong. Each wall had a certain character to it. Each wall told a different story. The one of the left was full of photos of Nidhi Kapoor, framed in wooden photoframes in all size. It was like a rectangular mesh of wood with pictures of Nidhi Kapoor stuck in the mesh. The one on right probably was where Nidhi Kapoor showcased art and pictures from famous artist friends. It also had life size posters of old movies, from the time when posters were actually sketched and coloured by hands. Renu wanted to steal that Sholay poster. She made a mental note of it.

There was a sofa set underneath the chandelier that could seat a mini procession and yet leave room for more people to sit on. The tables behind the sofa set, had curios, apparently gathered from all parts of the world. The whole place had a sense of symmetry to it. Like someone had used a ruler to put it all together with great care. While she was wondering about the meticulous brain that had designed the hall, she realized that she was left alone in the hall. She saw the back of Tambe dissappeaing behind an open door on the left. She scampered towards that door and yelled out loud, "wait for me!".

She rushed in the room and immediately stepped onto something sticky on the floor. And she froze at her place. Her eyes opened up wide with amazement. Or was it horror. Or may be shock. She could not pinpoint what emotion was at play and had left her stunned with her jaws hanging open. She could feel all the energy drain out of her system. Her head began to throb and she could imagine a lump, size of a cricket ball, beneath her scalp, aching to burst out of her head. With great difficult, she took a step back and grabbed the door to help herself from falling like a heap of potatoes.

Renu was not weak hearted at all. She had seen her share of gory crime scenes as a criminal photo journalist and she had earned the reputation for having guts of steel. Crime scenes that made the most experienced of policemen empty their guts out on the sides, she worked those as if she was strolling in a park. But she was not really prepared for, what was unfolding in front of her eyes. In what looked like the office of the famous actress, Nidhi Kapoor.

To be continued... 

Others parts
Part 2, Part 3

May 24, 2013 - 1000 Words a Day v2

Today is day 5 of the 1000 words in a day, edition 2. And so far I havent missed a single day. Early goings though. Today I have a few decisions to make. While I was writing this post yesterday, I was done with the text in about 800 odd words. I had to stretch the post by some words. Thankfully I could manage with that disclaimer at the bottom but I know that I am not being true to the cause. The idea is not write 1000 random words (like those infinite monkeys) but to work on the craft.

So there are three options really.

A is that I write a post everyday and close it in as many words as required to do justice to the post. So it could take 50 words, 100 words, 500, 1000, 1500, 5000. Whatever. Knowing myself this means that I can find a backdoor when I want to be lazy. I would write 100 words and get away with it. And then use the 100 word post as an excuse that I did the job. Do I want this shortcut? No I dont.

B is that I publish 1000 words, even if it takes more than one post. So each post could be less than 1000 but collectively I publish those 1000 words. That means I give due justice to each post and then if required write more than one posts. Nothing wrong with it but my experience tells me that the one on top is the only one that gets read. The others below is, are ignored. And this means that the rest of the posts that I write on a certain day get a step-brotherly children. But then anyway most of the people that read my blog, do not look for a specific post. So this can work out. And this is a good way to hone the writing skills. I can say whatever I want to say in as less words and as many words. And write about more than one thing.

C is to ensure that I write posts that requires 1000 words or more to write. This means that a lot of things that I want to talk about get sifted out automatically. This includes things like random observations and other things get excluded from my posts.

Wait, may be I can club A and C. I will ensure that I write a 1000 word thing everyday and if there is something special that makes me want to write about it, I can write it in whatever number of words required to finish it. So there could be multiple posts each day!

What do you think? I will ponder over this for some days and then decide. For the time being, I think I would go with B. I would write a total of 1000 words, even if it spawns more than one post.

The 55 year old man, who looked like 30!

For the uninitiated, I work on the fringes of the entertainment industry and I often get those occasional brushes with people from the "industry". Today, while working on a presentation for a client, I met this 55 year old man who looked not a day older than 30. He had skin as taut as a bow loaded with arrow ready to fire, back at a perfect 90 degree angle to floor and a head full of hair as black as a swan coal. He started talking about what all could we do for a client and he recommended Bhangra amongst other things. He did push for Bhangra as an option because apparently he has been practicing and teaching it for over 30 years (this is when I asked him about his age!). Anyway, at that time I dismissed it as yet another suggestion and got busy with yet another gossip session in office.

Later in the evening while I was writing the actual presentation, I was looking for videos from his recommendations. And I stumbled on to this.

And I was swept off my feet chair. I mean I have seen men perform Bhangra and people dance away in those wedding processions on the road but this is nothing like I have ever seen. I mean this comes close but the Bhangra Empire vid blew me away. I could not, in my wildest dream, imagine that Bhangra could be an art form and could be performed on the stage.

For me Bhangra was limited to throwing your legs and arms out, with as much fervor as you could and and as far as you could and then keep flinging em over and over again, till you either hit someone or you get tired. At least thats what my limited experience with it tells me. I think I'd throw in some disclaimers here. Dancing and I are like two poles. Each knows that the other exists and publicly acknowledges the presence of other and yet maintain the distance. I do trip on music all the time but dance and me are like enemies. I cant dance to save my life. But on rare occasions when I do am forced to dance, I look like a chicken with both legs tied, to the neck!

Of course I have known quite a few awesome dancers over the course of this long life that I have spent wasted but dont think any of em knew Bhangra. And like I do with most things, stereotyping tells me that since I havent had a lot of Sikh friends, I dont know any great Bhangra dancers. Oh btw, now that I am talking of Sikhs, I have this secret whim that if I was the kinds to adopt a religion, it would be Sikhism. Love their ethos, culture and history. There's more but I dont think I am qualified to talk about religion and philosophy and thus I shall put a break on this bit. But let me talk about Bhangra and my new found obsession with it.

So Bhangra is like a free flow movement of the entire body, synced with really peppy and upbeat music, mostly from percussion and wind instruments. When done well, there is this rhythm to the movements and you can see that the dancer is in sync with music. The dancer must feel one with it. It looks like a karmic dance where movements, body, the music, the beats, the musicians, the dancers all become one. It is where the world converges. The feet probably move on their own with the music. The dancer wont even be controlling the movements and yet it falls at the right place at the right time with the right beat! Its probably the fastest way to get in the zone. The dancers look as if they're in trance. The kinds induced when you are happy and you're living in the moment with no worries of the past or the present! Oh, and it looks like a fun way to lose weight.

Wait a minute. Did I say, lose weight? This is interesting. May be, just may be, Bhangra is the answer to my weight loss drama. I have tried a wide assortment of things and it would not harm to throw in some Bhangra in it. And I think Mumbai, being such a big hub for Sikhs, is bound to have some dance schools that teach Bhangra. However, I want to understand that if I can actually make a serious attempt at it, at my age. I mean this is when the bones start disintegrating and the fiber and muscles start losing their volume. Will it be safe? There are no definite answers but I think dance is one of those things that are worth risking everything you have.

Need to add this to my todo list for the year. As soon as Evernote resets my upload limit for the month. Its the worst thing that can happen to an ardent Evernote user. In the meanwhile I shall start hunting for some Bhangra schools in Mumbai. You know some? Please let me know. Or may be I can try and ask the 55 year old man, who looked like 30!

P.S.: Like I said yesterday, I have changed the look and feel of the blog. The basic structure remains the same but the new theme has lot more white space and smaller fonts for readability. It also has a larger text area for text. The menus are small. I dont like the header and the descriptor. I want to work on it. Wish I could design and blogger allowed n00bs like me to adapt a new design.

But I shall live with this for a few days. If I feel good, I'd keep it. If I dont, I would probably port to a tumblr or a wordpress. I'd feel bad about it - I have been writing on blogger for almost ten years now. And wondering, how long you've been reading my blog?

22 May 2013 - A Day in Life

Credits: mspittal | Original Image
I told myself that I would write 1000 words a day. I have done that previously as well and I don’t think I did it for more than a week. This time, its been 2 days. Today is the third day. For records, I call it 1000WADv2. And since I work best on external motivation, to help matters, I have wagered with a friend. Every day I don’t publish 1000 words, I give her a 1000 bucks. And every week I write for seven days, she will give me 1000 bucks. 7 to 1 odds (updated on 30 May, the deal is off).

This means two things. One is that I will publish everyday and add to all the digital noise around us. Along the way, I will write short stories, rants, reviews, trolls etc, all in the hopes of getting good at the craft. I mean there are no guarantees that I would get better but I want to. With every passing day I see writing as an easy alternative to my issues. Second is that I would write more than I would publish. This means that I would think more and write more. And I would work more and write more. And I would reflect more and write more. And I would stop talking and write more. Write more. You know what I am hinting at?

So today I had initially thought I would rant about my bald head and aging bones. But today has been an interesting day. I learnt three interesting things about myself. I mean I have known these at the back of my head but I havent been able to see the picture painted so clearly on the wall!

One is that I really think that minimalism could be a way of life that I may find peace and happiness in. Like one, same pair of denims for 6 days and one suit for formal occasions, one credit card, one telephone etc. Much like that George Clooney movie where you could pack all you own in a travel suitcase. This guy, is an inspiration. More on it later (in a different blog post).

Second is that I am awesome. I am not being a egomaniac or megalomaniac here but the realization that dawned onto me when I was part of a long and boring meeting where 9 adults were sitting across a table and were trying to justify their respective jobs. In that meeting I realized that I am actually very good when it comes to what I did at CLA and what I do now. I really needed this gratification, its been a patchy ride last few months. 2013 isn't turning out the way I had envisioned it.

Third is that I can not tolerate the heat in Delhi. Nothing new, I have already ranted about it a million times on social networks that I hang out on, but its time I decide to do something about it, rather than merely ranting about it. I promise myself that this is the last year where I am forced to be in a city. By the next summers, I want to achieve location independence wrt to my work. I dont know how would that happen but I would NOT be reeling under the torturous heat of Delhi. 

Apart from this being an interesting day and these three lessons, there was another realization. I got this comment (from who else but Neo) on a post and that compared me to EL James. No I am not taking it seriously, vindication from audience is obviously a motive for writing, but if, what I write can influence confuse someone enough to make them leave a comment (even if they were pulling my leg and mocking what I write), I have a career ahead of me! Yeah, any publicity is good publicity.

So yeah, that’s about it for the day. Quite a few things happened. Just that I need to remain consistent with tracking the lesson and then may be implementing them.

Also while previewing this post, I realized that I havent changed my blog theme in ages. Nothing wrong with it but if I am planning to write longish posts, I need a design that allows people to read it. The sad thing with blogger is that I can customize it only so much. Wish there was something that was simple and yet had tons of features to choose from. Guess this is why Tumblr is what it is. Not all blogging platforms (or content management systems, if you will) get acquired for a billion USD, most of it in cash! And what an eventful year this has been for Marrissa Mayer, since she moved to Yahoo! Thats what Google has done, apart from making money and helping the world. Google created groomed people into awesome managers and entrepreneurs. If I had time, I would try and create a list of ex-Googlers that have made an impact by joining other companies or starting em. Would be a long list I guess. In fact that is one of the reasons I want to chase in life. To be able to groom people around me and be that catalyst that helps them grow. Again, more on this later, in a different blog post.

So, if you are a regular here, I suspect if anyone is regular, please dont be alarmed if you see a change in design of the blog in the next few days. Its only to help you read better (spoke like a true marketeer).

Guess thats it. There is nothing more to talk of. I mean there is but then I would have to get into specifics and I would not want to do that. I like this pseudo anonymous life. Until the next Day in Life update, so long!

The Blind Date. He and She.

I have never been to blind dating events. I have always hated the mere concept of dating events. For me, falling in love is more of a happy accident, than a meticulously planned affair. In fact I live for these happy accidents - all good things to have happened to me, ever, were outcomes of these happy accidents. And like a Pavlovian dog, I start dropping at even the thought of happy accidents. But this blind date, it was a turn off even before I reached there.

I had been promised a gathering of desperate women waiting to be picked by less than ordinary men like me. And since its been some time that I have had a stable relationship, I was tempted to go. Not to mention, that dude that sits in the next cubicle, who cant talk to a woman even when she's drunk, has been to these events and even he scored. Its like a perfect place where all the social norms take a back seat and you end up a winner. Even if you are socially inept at it. How I love modern day India!

So when I got the coveted invitation, coveted because not everyone gets it, I could not decide. On one hand this was against how I thought about love. And on the other, the lure of getting home with a woman was something that I could not let go. Of course I went. There are times when heart needs to be given precedence over brain. No?

It began like any other social gathering. There were happy people all around me. Almost everyone was like fresh out of a poster from a bollywood film. Perfect teeth on perfect smiles, perfect eye glasses go along with neatly trimmed hair, sharp dresses on toned bodies. Everything looked like a conspiracy to me. I was immediately a misfit in my tattered tee shirt from People Tree (it has this amazing quote by Faiz), old denims and new shiny black leather chappals. No wonder so many heads turned and stared me down once I entered. It felt as if I am facing a firing squad and these men were trying to shoot me down with their eyes.

And amongst that bobbling sea of heads, there she was. Despite my limited interactions with the female species, I could see that she was a misfit as well. In a different way obviously. She wasn't the prettiest of them all. Or the tallest of them all. And she wasnt dressed for the occasion. But she had something about her that made every other woman wary of her. Every woman was stealing glances at her and sizing her up. Every woman clutched to their men tighter when they glanced in her direction.

Unlike other women who were dressed in expensive evening dresses she had a merely pulled up a pair of denims, which ended slightly above her ankles - the length that I wear my denims too. She was wearing a bright yellow tee shirt that had an intriguing rendition of the Barack Obama Hope poster. The tee obviously dint suit the occasion. Her countenance told me that she has been forced to attend this do. And despite this, it looked as if the entire event, the entire gathering, all the people around her were specifically planted, so that, her status as the queen bee was reinforced to us mortals. The elegant crowd gathered in the room around her, made her all the more rich and gave her all the grandeur that she deserved.

She was like that alpha species that every male ought to consummate with and to give their genes a large chance to be able to survive and multiply. She was everything that a man, primal or modern, could have asked for in a mate. Leave aside the love, the longing and the relationships. Her purpose on earth was to give the most fertile opportunity for the alpha male to advance his genes. I hate objectifying women like that but she indeed was an object. An object of desire. An object that I could have given away an arm and leg to own. To make mine. To be with.

And yet, she was alone. As alone as I was.

This is like the three hundredth blind dating event that I am going to. Each of the previous events has been exciting and yet boring. I somehow always become the centre of attraction, even though I dont realy try. And yet I come to my own house and sleep by myself. Somehow I just cant seem to get a date. Except that one time when that cricketer showed interest in me and then I backed off once he and I starting talking. He was as daft as a dodo. Disasters like this aside, these dating events are so much fun. Never before I have seen such a large gathering of desperate men and women trying to woo each other. Funnily, most of the time, I see the same set of people. And you know what? Most women that frequent these do's, they wear the same clothes over and over again. May be some superstition.

Not me. I dont think I have ever repeated my dress ever. Well, if a teeshirt thrown over a pair of denims qualifies as a dress. Oh, by the way, these tee shirts are my biggest weapon. The designs are so cool that more often than not, the teeshirt becomes the conversation starter. Like the one I was wearing on the last date. I had sketched the iconic design of Fairey for Obama. Wish design was this mainstream in India. I can bet that this design by Fairey must be responsible for a good 10% votes for Obama. Truth be told, I dont really care about Obama or America, just that design was brilliant and I had to sketch myself a teeshirt from it. Thats what I do in my free time. Paint my own teeshirts. Some are good, some bad but honestly, I do come up with a few masterpieces. And this one was definitely one of the best I've ever painted.

So I was wearing my favorite my teeshirt and I even had a feeling that I would be lucky and I would find that perfect guy that I've always wanted. I so knew who I wanted to be with, I could see him standing in front of me. He is about 5 feet 11. Not very tall and not very short. A typical Indian male with brown skin, I hate fair men. Masculine enough to be able to get spotted in a room full of men. And yet tender enough to know how to me, like a lady or like a toy, depending on the mood I am in. I've never wanted a macho man, riding a fast horse on a sea beach, chasing the setting sun. I really want the dude next door. And I want him to have all the imperfections that men have to have. Things that make him so dear. Just like my dad, when he would have been my age.

And I actually spotted someone like that in the crowd that day. I think he had lost his way because he did not look prepared at all for a date night. I mean what kind of man wears a denim and leather chappals to dating events? I dont think any sane woman would even look at her. Of course since I couldn't keep my eyes off him, you can guess the level of my sanity. And he had this amazing teeshirt on, it had some quote in Hindi that I was dying to read but since he never came in the 5 KM radius of me, I could not.

The way he looked at me, I am sure he found me intriguing, if not attractive. I do get these glances all the time. For some reason, everywhere I go, everyone keeps staring at me but this guy, it was as if he was writing a thesis on me. There is nothing else that explains his constant stare. Funny thing is that for once, someone staring at me wasnt making uncomfortable. In fact it was filling me with a warmth, a sense of elation that he was staring at me. I felt complete.I knew it was him that I was supposed to be with.

And yet, he was alone. As alone as I was.

May 20, 2013. Of disconnectedness.

Somehow, I stumbled on to my blog(!) and realized that its been more than a month since I posted something here. Nothing wrong with it but for someone with serious aspirations of a being an author, not posting writing anything for a month is not acceptable. Ofcourse I can blame it on all the travel that I have been subjected to and the feeling of disconnectedness with the world but end of the day, these things dont count. Do they? After a few weeks I would look back and exclaim, "oh! between April and May of 2013, I did not update my blog for a whole month".

Anyway (thanks rediff), now that I am writing, I want to talk of my disconnectedness wali feeling - something extremely personal and yet something that I know most people like me would relate to. Of course, it is a separate matter altogether that not many people would be as lost as I am. If you know me, you would know that I have a hard time understanding logic and rationale that governs most people and their actions. So much so that I have stopped judging them (actions, not people), which is good in way but fucks up the head on the other side.

You know, most people my age are busy making mini fortunes for themselves, if not on their way to change the world. And no, no just one or two examples, but 8 out 0f 10 people I know (9th is me. 10th, you know who you are. Thanks for giving me company). And I on the other hand am stuck in the rut of mediocrity. Of course no one else is responsible, but me. More on that later. Coming back to disconnectedness, people define it in multiple ways with awesome words and languages. I have a rather simplistic definition. I define disconnectedness as the feeling that you do not have any roots to go back to. There is no place you feel home at. There is nobody that you want to sleep (and wake up) in the arms of. There is no clear agenda or purpose (or epitaph) that you are chasing. You struggle to find meaning and you are merely a vegetable and letting things chart their own course. You are just flowing.

Or may be clinical depression is a set of two words that can explain it equally well. Of course if I was the kinds to mix my miseries with alcohol and consume the diluted concoction, I could've painted a more vivid picture.

Coming back, nothing wrong with the feeling of disconnectedness to be honest. An entire generation lived with it. And died with it. People continue to adopt that lifestyle even decades after that generation died. I think I have a vague idea why. Hedonism is a brilliant concept. I do subscribe to it but then at the same time, I am from the school of thought that believes in creating something that outlives you. I believe that there is a greater purpose and a reason why you've been put here. And you have to have the responsibility towards the greater power that put you on here on Mother Earth. Kinda complicated. Hedonism and Legacy do not go hand in hand but I am trying.

Wise men and sages over the years have said that once you know of the problem, all that remains is finding the solution and implementing it. I know the problem, have known it for years and yet I cant seem to do a thing about it. Remember I said no one else but me is responsible? I need that tight slap on my face to wake me up from the deep slumber and get moving. Someone someday will have to do. Lot of friends including Neo and #sgMS tried but I did not pay heed to even her. Who else? If the most important people to me havnt been able to help matters, dont think anyone else can! Let me park this thought here. Will come back to it.

I want to argue further that this feeling of disconnectedness is actually responsible for a lot of good things that us humans have achieved in last few decades. I believe that on the other side of this disconnectedness, is the holy grail of happiness. I am assuming that once you realize what is keeping you back and you know what is it that you are chasing, you will put in your best effort and you will come up with a body of work that defines who you are. You go through this dark tunnel to come out brighter, sharper and happier. Most modern marvels are a result of people disconnected with their lives and their attempts to create things that define them. Some people get lucky and they know what their purpose is, at a fairly young age. Just that this tunnel is kinda long in my case. And the hope of things beyond this feeling is what keeps me going. Every single day. Hope could be a bitch. No?

Connecting the two thoughts above, I know that my best is ahead of me. Like I keep saying, its not a matter of if, but a when. I believe that, that when, ladies and gentlemen, is around the corner. The fuck up is, I cant seem to wait. The disconnectedness, this mid life crisis, the clinical depression is killing me. And its getting increasingly tough by the day (or is it tougher?).

But then, till I realize my purpose and I serve my reason I cant really quit either. It would be a life wasted and I am very sure my purpose is definitely NOT to waste my life in frivolity. Wish me luck if youre reading this.

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?