I have nothing to add

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

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

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

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

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

Till then, so long!

The curious case of missing comments / viewers

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

We risk very little...

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

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

Couple of reasons.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Dear Shikhar Dhawan

Dear Shikhar Dhawan,

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

I am grateful I could not.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

An erstwhile cricket fan

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

How stupid I am

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

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

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?