10 Years of blogging

I don't believe it.

Its been 10 years since I started writing on this blog. Ten years. TEN YEARS! Ten long years.

Its a lot and lot of time. Its, its half of my adult life! Since my first post on this blog in Jan of 2004, I have come a long way. Some1293 posts, except this one. These ten years and 1293 posts, what a ride it's been.

If I can make tall claims, whatever I am today, this blog has had a very very large part to play in it. I am not a big deal but I am an aware individual and the act of researching and writing this blog opened my mind to a lot of things. If not for the want of writing better posts, I would've overlooked those things.

With the advantage of hindsight, the decision in 2004, to start a blog, is probably amongst the best decisions that I made in my life. Ever.

This blog, like I said earlier, it's been one hell of a ride. And oh man, did I enjoy it?

Along the way I've made a lot of friends, that otherwise would've remained inaccessible to me.
Along the way I learnt things that I would've otherwise oblivious to.
Along the way I developed the courage to go ask questions, at places, where it would've been a sin.
Along the way I realized that I loved the act of putting the words together and constructing sentences and coherent pieces. Well some were, still are, incoherent. But I realized that I loved writing.

Let me talk about writing. Probably the biggest takeaway from this blog.

While I was writing for those invisible readers, few and far between, I tried my hands at different things. I tried to write fiction, non-fiction, poems and what not. Even tnks, my first attempt at full-length fiction started on this blog.

If not for this blog, I would've never thought that I'd write the book. Actually this blog is a classic example of serendipity in action. How? Let me explain.

When I started writing this blog, I could write a single sentence without making grammatical errors. I still make quite a few. After all, English did not come naturally to me. I had to work hard for it. But once I got hooked to writing I started making efforts to improve my craft. I was writing inane posts that I knew nobody would ever read. But, unknowingly, I was developing a love for the craft of writing. More than love, I was unknowingly practicing the craft. I was actually like that bunch of infinite monkeys. Someone talked about the 10000 hour rule. With 1200 posts, I have definitely put about 2400 hours already. And then one thing led to another and I somehow knew that I've always wanted to write a full-length piece of fiction. Many years, posts and plots later, it took shape of The Nidhi Kapoor Story (website, FB page).

The book is still in the pre-publishing stage and I don't know how would it do when it comes it. However, I loved writing it. Now that I am done with it, the plot for the next full-length is already brewing in my head. Let's see how this experimenting with writing eventually goes.

Coming back to the blog, may be, just may be, I did not really make a dent while working on this blog But the blog did make a dent in my personality.

In fact, blogging gave me the biggest gift that I've ever got. The gift of writing. I have no clue what would I do if I could not write and express myself. There are times when words fail me but more often than not, writing has come to my rescue when I was trapped. I wish I could write better. And I know that more I write, better I'd get. And I am on it. Someday you'd see a bestseller with my name on it. I promise.

Call me indulgent, call me vainglorious, call me narcissist, I may be all of these things. I dont care. But I know that I am really proud to have completed ten years of blogging. And I have loved every minute of these ten years.

Hope I can write for another ten before I get bored..

And here is the most most important thing that I must talk about. I'd saved it for the end.

Dear readers of this blog, thank you. Apart from Naman, PD and Vivek, I dont know if anyone reads this regularly but whoever you are, thank you for reading. Even if you read one post, thank you. Thank you for those comments. If I have not replied, I take the blame. Thank you for landing on this page from I don't know where all. Trust me when I write, I dont want to attract traffic.

Thank you everyone for lurking in the shadows. For it was your apparent, yet invisible, presence that helped me continue writing on this blog for all these years.

Thank You!

And here's a toast for the next ten years...!

What to order at Starbucks?

The thing is that I love sitting at Starbucks and working on my book.

Even though I am alone when I am there, in my head, I am on a date with Nidhi Kapoor. Or may be with Renu on some days. There are days when I there with Tarana. Like today, I was with Renu and I had a wonderful time.

Coming back, irrespective, there is someone or the other to talk to when I am at Starbucks. I mean someone from my book. A character or two that I have cooked up. And when I am with someone, I love having conversations with them. In fact, conversations with these imaginary characters have helped me write.

Rather than thinking about the next line, I ask Nidhi about it. Or Tarana. Like today I asked Renu about her past and what made her the way she is. She had a lot to say. So much that I had to type fast. Really fast. So these answers from imaginary friends help me write. A friend told me that I am not an inherently creative individual. She may be right but then I think that this superpower that I have to converse with these imaginary characters help me craft what I am working on.

To be honest, the entire Nidhi Kapoor story is a result of these conversations.

The book is coming to an end. About three more days before I finish the first draft. I am hating that the book is coming to an end. I dont know how to keep it alive. Soon, I'd be the saddest and loneliest man that I know of. Why? Because all this while I had company of these three amazing women and in some days, I would be alone.

Guess such is life. But then, there is something that I am looking forward to. The next plot. I am hoping to write this one with a friend. We are still discussing it but if it goes as per plans, it would require me to sit at Starbucks even longer. But, but the challenge is, I do not like coffee. Or the iced-tea. Or anything that has any milk in it. Except ice-cream. I also don't want to eat any snacky things that they offer at Starbucks; after all I am on a weight inch loss spree and I want to avoid anything that is fattening.

And I don't want to sit at Starbucks and not buy anything. You see, reciprocity is a brilliant mental model and of all the people I know, I am the most severe case. If I am going to spend three hours everyday at Starbucks, I ought to buy something from them. No?

What do I do? What do I order? Someone help!

Originally posted here.

Chicken? Or Egg?

Hotlinked from here.
So I have a question. What came first? Chicken? Or the egg?

I am not sure. And I cant seem to find out.

Let me talk about a personal story pain-point about this.

If you know me, you would know that I have been trying to start writing. For money. Like a full time writer. I even made a blog but I did not do anything about it. Its on dotWriter. Do see it. And let me know what you think of it.

I know I have limited writing skills but I want to give it a shot. I know its too late at my age to attempt this. But I want to give it a shot. I know English does not come to me naturally. But I want to give it a shot. I know I dont know how to price my time. But I want to give it a shot.

You would also know that business development, or the act of asking for work, does not come naturally to me. I am a very shy person by nature and it takes a lot on me to be able to make a call and ask for work. Despite all of that, I make an effort to do it. I reach out, talk to people, pitch my services.

But somehow, every person that I talk to about this seems to want to work with experienced writers only. Only. Let me call this Chicken.

I tried to kill this monster called experienced and since I did not know who / what it is, I googled for it.

It told me that "experienced" is defined as "having knowledge or skill in a particular field, esp. a profession or job, gained over a period of time." The keyword here is "over a period of time". OVER A PERIOD OF TIME. Let me call this Egg.

So the question that I asked in the beginning, now that you know what is chicken and what is egg, let me ask it again. What came first? Chicken? or the Egg?

How do I get experience so that people who want to work with experienced writers agree to work with me? How do I get people to agree to work with me so that I may be experienced?

Simply put, where do I start? How do I get work? Any answers? Any help? Chicken? Egg?

In praise of walking

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One of the things that I am hoping to do in 2014, is to lose weight. Side-note: This has been on my yearly to-do lists since I started making these lists.

Since I have a medical condition that prevents me from running and gymming, I have handful of things that I can do to lose weight.

One of these things is walking. I have thus taken it upon me to ensure that I walk 10000 steps. Every day. Why 10000 steps?


A, its measurable.
B, it seems large enough goal.
C, its easy to keep track.
D, its simple to do.

In fact here is a chart that Moves has generated for me (if you want to track your steps, Moves is a simple, beautiful and intuitive application). For the sake of keeping scores, I walked 47K steps in the last week. And I walked 48K this week. Coming week I want to do 50K.

Except wednesday and sunday, I try and walk 10000 steps a day. Some days I do more. Somedays I do less. But the point is that I am more aware that each day I am supposed to walk. And each day I walk with a goal in my head. I have started doing things differently, like I walk shorter distances. As a run of thumb, any distance that is less than 2 KMs, I walk it up. Takes about 20 minutes for a fat-ass like me. I ensure that I leave in time to be able to walk for 20 minutes. Although when I reach, I am panting, I am gasping for breath but I know that I have burned some calories. And I know that I saved 20 bucks (10 bucks per KM in Mumbai). Two little drops in two different oceans that are important to me.

So today, while I walking something dawned on me. That when we take transport, we miss the scenery. And the stories that the scenery tells us. Its same as taking the train versus taking a flight. Imagine you flying over the countryside in a comfortable tube. You see things from 30000 feet and you marvel at the sights below when you could be part of the sight. There is so much to see, so much to experience on the ground below. A comfortable seat in the clouds can not match the experience of being a part of the sight. Ever. Trust me. Been there, done that.

And why do I like flying and airports so much? Because I am perpetually short of time. And I rather save time than save money. And flying is the fastest mode of travel for distances more than 1000 KMs. atleast in India. Even if its a scheduled flight.

So let me come to walking. This is supposed to be a post in praise of walking. So today, I had lunch and then I walked home. Its around 3 KMs walk and I took about 40 minutes for it. En route a couple of things happened that made me happy about my decision to walk home after lunch.

Let me talk about those two things.

First. These few kids were playing football close to where I was walking. Somehow the ball landed close to me. A kid yelled at me and said, "Uncle please pass the ball."

He called me uncle. Uncle. I was so furious so furious that it's not funny. I know I am old and I am fat and I am bald but I am not getting called uncle by these kids. Before I could yell back at him and invite him for showdown, since I was walking, my thinking muscles were active. I realized that it was not a personal remark and he was just going by my looks. He did not know me and he had no way to know that I hate being called an uncle.

The episode taught me a very important lesson. That I need to think through things and evaluate them objectively. I could've got angry at him. I almost flipped the bird but I did not.

Second. Along the way a rickshaw stopped me and asked for directions. I take pride in my ability to remember directions and I told him. An instant later, another pedestrian asked me for directions. This guy was from one of the seven Eastern states, I don't know which one though. He looked as if he had walked quite a distance and still had some distance to go. He didn't seem to have money for a rick and I did not know the bus routes. So, dejected, I told him that its a 30 minute walk and I dont know the bus. The dude grinned and walked away.

After I told him the directions, as well as I could, I realized that he comes from one of the most beautiful and gifted locations and yet he is here, in polluted and over-crowded Mumbai. I am assuming he's come here chasing the same thing that I've been chasing - my dreams. I thought if I was in his place and I lived amidst those mountains and valleys and rivers and springs and flowers and trees and beauty and whether, I would never leave that place. I would have normally cursed him and give him unsolicited advice of going back.

But then, since I was in the thinking mode, I thought, what if he's thinking the same thing about me That I have left family and friends and comfort and protection and all those things behind. To chase a dream that I am not even sure of.

Thats it. Two stories. Each happened in quick succession. I am sure if I walked everyday with an intent to look for scenery and stories, I can find many more. For a storyteller that I want to become, these stories are going to be important. I definitely saw much more, observed more and grasped more. And not just storytelling, for the lazy account planner in me, people-watching is an important tool. Walking gives me yet another opportunity to observe people in their natural environments.

So the point of these stories is that if you walk, you get better at being a human. Rickshaws speeds you up and fly past the scenery. Ofcourse rickshaws don't make you bad but they don't make you good either. You get the point?

No? May be go for a walk after you've read this.

Anyway, to end this note, the lesson of the day is that there are so many merits of walking and its sad that I've ignored all these all these years. No more. From now on, I am going to walk. At least 10000 steps a day.

For the ones who like to skim rather than read, here is a quick list in praise of walking.

When you walk...

  1. You lose weight without realizing that you are losing weight. All you do is walk and you dont goto the gym or go on a diet. You just walk and you realize that inches are reducing from your waistline. 
  2. You give your muscles exercise. Muscles work on the principle of positive feedback loop. Or Anti-fragility if you will. Every step you take, makes your muscles stronger. 
  3. You can tweak walking to make it a tool to spend more time with your special someone. Walking gives you "together" time. Nothing like walk. For a self-proclaimed King of Mush like me, I think, walking in the rain is THE most romantic thing you could do.
  4. You see things. Read the two anecdotes above. 
  5. You get perspective. Again, read the two anecdotes above.
This is it!

What next? Go walk! 10000 steps a day! Preferably with your special someone :)

Change Something

I haven't written anything on the blog for a while. It's about time I put an update. Even if its insignificant and is of no consequence. The very act of writing is important to me.

So while I write this, I am tripping on music from MTV Unplugged Season 3. MTV Unplugged has to be one of the best music shows that I know of. The concept is very simple. As simple as they get. They get an artiste and ask that artist to re-imagine, re-create, re-sing some of their most popular songs. Right now, I am #CLT to Kabira by Arijit Singh. The next on the list is Yaaron by KK and Tum Ho by Farhan Akhtar.

And I am having a tough time deciding which one is the best. You must try them. Here, I made a playlist.

So the point of this post is two fold.

One is to write for the sake of writing.

Two, make public yet another hidden wish that I have harbored since I gained consciousness. If I could change something about myself, I would want to be able to sing well. No, I don't have aspirations to go sing on stages et al. I don't even know how that would feel like. I don't have a reference point. But I know that I want to be able to sing well.

Sing well enough to be able to open my throat and sing at any place without running the risk of dogs chasing me. Sing well enough to be able to not get ashamed about my voice when I am tripping on a song. Sing well enough to probably learn a guitar or something and play for myself when I am down and about.

But then, at my age, I am not sure if I can learn how to sing. I think I'd have to stay content with my singing experiments in the confined and cramped walls of the bathroom. Atleast there, I dont run the risk of getting pelted by stones et al!

Oh, one more thing. If you could change something about yourself, what would you change?

Untitled. 18 Jan 2014.

Crib Alert. This is a whiny piece of text. You may not want to read this. 

We are almost 20 days into 2014 and I am already hoping that it gets over fast. To me, it seems as if the world is out to get me. To drag me down. To create obstacles in my path.

I know that I am wrong and this is never the case. Almost.

But these many coincidences can't really happen at the same time. Mathematically, its impossible. A coin toss can't continue to fall on the same face all the time. There are so many things that are going in opposite direction (from as planned) that if I made a list, it can reach the moon.

I can actually make and submit a long list of things that are dragging me down.

But to what effect? To whom? How would it help? God up there would look at it and help me fix things? I am not sure about God. If He had to help He would've helped already. No? Been some years that I have been drifting around here.

But I'd rather not.

I want to fight this battle with time. The one we are losing with every passing second. The one we are lagging behind in every minute. The one that takes us closer to the end with every passing year.

There are two kind of things that affect me (or anyone else for that matter). Things that I can control. And things that I cant. I can work on the first set of things. And ignore the other.

So the fact that I have been lazy and busy, I can fix it. I can blame is on preoccupation with a freelance project that I've taken up. I can blame it on weather. I can blame it on things at home. I can blame it on my general boredom with life and all that. I can blame it on a lot of other things.

But the fact of the matter is that I am singlehandedly responsible for my laziness. No one else is. I need to stop wasting time. Our time is limited and I can not spend it in not doing things.

Further, this laziness is already affecting everything that I want to achieve in 2014. My health, the book, career, money, love et al. I don't know how its affecting my non-existent love life, but I want to believe that there is some karmic connection somewhere. Again, the affects are evident. In last twenty days, the story hasn't moved a lot, I haven't posted on my blog, I haven't written my ten ideas a day, I haven't met new people, I haven't stopped spending money on frivolous things, I haven't become any slimmer or wiser, I haven't even made any attempts whatsoever to lose weight, etc etc.

Apologies. I said I wont crib and I wont make a list. Let me leave this hanging here.

Coming to  things that I can't control that fuck my head, its again a very long list. It may not reach the moon but it would reach zero gravity for sure.

Sunanda Pushkar for starters. I heard about it and was shocked beyond words. She was in news just a day before and I cant explain the extreme step. I don't know what really prompted her to take her life but I sincerely believe that overly intrusive social media has had a role to play in her decision. If I could, I would really really try and stop those jokes and quips that the world made on her.

Even though I did not know her and I did not make any of the aforementioned jokes on her, as a participant on "social media", I feel responsible for her decision. I have been trying to write about her, to her for more than an hour but I haven't been able to. There are a very few occasions when words fail me, this is one of those. I just hope that these incidents are not repeated. I hope that all the funny people learn a lesson. For our five minutes of fame, we have abetted her in killing herself.

The other thing that has left me numb in my head is the gross unfairness of the world that we live in. I dont want to write about the specific thing at a place that is in public domain but I am deeply moved by it. Its proof enough for me that God is merely a figment of our imagination. If He were around, I am sure He would not appreciate the unfairness. No no, I am not blaming God. I am merely saying that things around me are unfair and I need to start living with those.

Then these is this thing about shit happening at home. I can't control it. The fact that I am too poor to afford a house that I want to live in, in Mumbai, I am left at the mercy of landlords and brokers. More than anything else, these things drain me out of my energy. And what do I do to get this energy back? I try eating junk food. To get that temporary kick from carbs and sugar. What happens in the long run? I go down the spiral!

You see my point? No? Ok.

Anyway, enough of a rant. Gotta get going and get some words written on the Nidhi Kapoor Story. It's so close to the finish line.

Before I end this, I just hope that these 20 days are not an indication of the entire year to come and things improve as we go along. If they dont, I wont know what to do.

P.S.: Yet another reason why I blog. I don't write personal diary and this blog is hardly read by anyone (may be excluding prospective employers). Ranting things out of my system help me get back on the track. Imagine climbing on a really high, tall place and screaming on top of you lungs. So loud that your throat hurts. Despite being that loud, there is a good chance that no one hears you. But then do you scream for others to hear you? No. You dont. You scream because you want to throw shit out of your system.

This blog, this rant is my attempt at screaming like that. On top of my voice. Loud enough to clean my system. Clean the shit going on in my head. That.

Thank you very much. Why? I dont know.

Hello 2014.

Well well well.

2014 is here. And how.

Took me five days to realize that it's here. And all this when I have been waiting for 2014 for a long long time. 31 years to be precise. Someone of the pandit variety once predicted that I would get rich and famous when I am 31. He made this prediction when I was still young. And since I have waited this long, he better be right.

One of the things that I want to do in 2014, is to get regular with blogging. I mean more regular than the 100 odd times I post. The daily kinds. I may not have interesting things to talk about everyday on this blog but I will talk nonetheless. I want to be a writer and I am nowhere close to being a good one. The only way I'd improve is by writing a lot. For for every 1000 pieces I may write, just about one, or even less, may make the cut in the hyper-competitive and super-cluttered world that we live in.

Other thing would be reduce the amount of time I waste on doing frivolous things. For example, facebooking. I have realized that everyone else on facebook is richer, smarter, luckier and more successful than me. They also seem to know all the celebrities. Some are celebrities by themselves. I could compete. But I'd rather conceded and move out. So, in 2014, I would spend lot less time on FB. Except when I am talking about tnks. Its like a necessary evil that I'd have to live with.

Third thing that I am going to change is to start moving towards a simple and minimalistic life. I know I have this thing for collecting and hoarding things. I love physical greeting cards, collectibles, fridge magnets and other such things. I have saved a lot of these, hoping that someday I would have a home of my own and I would decorate it and fill it with memories. But then as I go along, I know I cant carry all these things with me. I know there is no point living if there are no emotions. I know I am confused. So in 2014, I would start thinking of all these things.

Fourth thing, I'd figure out a way to make money. I have a very large appetite for spending. I am a spendthrift personified. I may claim to love frugal life and all that, I just can not not spend money. I am loving the joblessness. I just need to find a way to foot my bills. Would you know of any rich old kings in need of eligible heirs?

Thats it I guess. Hope 2014 is good to me. Hope I can do these 4 things. Rest I think will follow. And wait. This list is different from this list. Dont ask me how. Thats for you to find out. As a reader. If someone's actually reading this. You've see Gravity? Sandra Bullock alone in space? That!

Thats it for the time being. Enough for the first post of 2014. More as and when I get time tomorrow.

Wish everyone a great 2014. Hope the year brings with it love, luck and happiness. Hope that pandit was correct.

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?