Older than the mountains

Bukowski's Dirty Old Man. 
I am old.

And I can feel it. I feel it in the aching joints and sore muscles. In the perpetually tired brain and never-ending exhaustion. In the desperate lunges towards my bed to answer my dying need for sleep. And in the desperate, loud protests for not getting up even when I have rested enough. I feel it in this need to take breaks even when I ought to concentrate on the big task ahead. And in longer than average time that I take to make those snap calls. I feel it when people half my age talk about making twice in one year that I've made cumulatively in my entire life. And when I know that I'd never be able to catch up with them. I feel old when every interaction with a member of opposite gender makes me cringe and gives me butterflies in my stomach. And when the opposite gender ignores my attempts at these interactions. I feel it when friends talk about things like homes and babies and health. And when I have nothing to contribute in such discussion.

I feel old.

I can see it as well. Its actually easier to see. I see it all the time. Starting with the balding head. And the white sprinkled carelessly in my beard and whatever mop of hair is left on my head. I see it in ugly eye-bags. And thick folds on my neck. Double, triple chin. Aging, freckled, skin that could well have been the underside of a dried leaf if I weren't this dark. I see it when I get called "uncle" and other such things by people who are not more than a couple of years younger than I. And when I am in two minds about addressing someone that even if they look my age. I can see it in my boredom that creeps on me when I goto these loud fancy places that everyone else seems to be reveling in. And when, much to my surprise, I enjoy going to these simple quiet hideouts where a few years back I wouldn't even want to tread. I see it when things I loved to eat, the McDonalds, Coke et al when I was younger get replaced by boring foods like Muesli and Green Tea. And especially when I seem to enjoy em more than the greasy, fried cousins. I see it when I catch myself staring into a mirror all the time trying to notice that new faint age line that had appeared last night. I see it when I think twice, sometimes thrice, before choosing on a shirt for that all-important meeting. I see it when I my hands and feet start shaking by themselves. I see it all the time. All the time.

I can see that I am old.

If this is growing up, getting old is growing up, even if its a small part, I did not sign up for this. I did not.

P.S.: If there is one author that you ought to read before you die, you ought to read all of work from Bukowski. Really. And despite all my fandom I cant seem to spell his name right. I have to Google for it every time.

Dear Steve

Dear Steve,

Happy Birthday!

Wherever you are, I sincerely hope you happy. And I hope you are making that place better as well,  the way you made Mother Earth better.

I know you did not know me. And I know you had no reason to even know of my existence. On the other hand Steve, I, Saurabh Garg, would have given an arm and a leg to know you. To make an acquaintance with you. Why would I do that? Because Steve you are one of your kind. You pushed everyone around you. They may or may not have realized but you made them better. At least I want to believe that you would have made them better.

If I have improved looking at you from a distance, if I have taken inspiration from you despite being separated by time and geography, if I try to evaluate things the way you would have evaluated, if I have started to set my standards higher, I am very sure that the ones that had the fortune of working closely with you would have grown by leaps and bounds. In fact there is this guy in Indian mythology who becomes the best archer of his time by practicing by himself in front of a mere statue of the greatest guru around. Purely by dedication, effort and perseverance. You Steve are that greatest guru that I ought to learn from. I know you are not around to take on disciples but Steve, even at this old age, I ought to learn from you. And I promise I would.

You know I am one of those countless super-fans that you still have across the world. And I am sure each of your fan is remembering you today. For, the world is infinitely better because of you. You gave showed us meaning of greatness. You gave us the inspiration for being the best we could be. And you gave us tools that allowed us to chase these dreams, even if they are frivolous.

Steve, you have been an inspiration. You will remain an inspiration.

You know, the biggest regret of my life is that I could not work with you. If there is after-life, may be, just may be I'd see you there.

Till then, thank you for everything.


P.S.: I miss you.

Review of a Pencil

The first thoughts, when I saw the pencil as a 3 year old was to investigate if I could eat it, for I was always hungry and even thought it was black but it did had to be opened up, cut like other fruits and vegetables.
Over time I realized that its probably more useful, better, powerful than a mere eating object. For, this tool allowed me to capture something intangible (my thoughts) and give a tangible shape and form. A form that would remain even after the thought has vanished from my consciousness. 
I dont know if a pencil is superior to any other instrument but I know that I cant think of living without one.

I had to submit a review of a cool tool that I have used, to be able to subscribe to KK's cool tools list. Since I dont really have money to buy these tools, I reviewed something that is as cool as any tool could be.

Yoga. As a challenge.

Before I get into the rant for the day, here are a couple of things that you ought to know.

A. I have been going to a yoga instructor for almost two months. I have signed up for a 1 to 1 session and that typically means there are no other practitioners when I am there. If there are others, they are like me, injured, damaged, nursing injuries and are in the class not to lose weight or to sound fancy but to heal themselves with yoga.

B. I was probably sleeping when God was distributing that knack of being social. On top of it, He made me an introvert. You remember that kid in your class that you can't remember at all? That. No wonder! So, as a result I have been awkward in social situations all my life. And now that I am almost bald, my anxiety levels are at an all-time high. Everytime there is a social situation that puts the spotlight on me, I can literally feel the butterflies hitting the inside of my stomach. Enough.

Now, armed with A and B, lets come to the rant.

So, today yesterday when I went to the class, apart from another regular, there was this really pretty woman. Pretty as in Bollywood pretty. In fact while conversing I learnt that she's won some sort of beauty pageant recently and is the next big thing in Bollywood. There. Anyhow, since my work has given me many trysts with the bold and beautiful, I am not really star struck. I merely took a note of her presence and I went on with my routine. 

But since the woman was new in class and I have this super-competitive streak, I noticed that she was very good with even complex routines. The simple ones that make me sweat like a pig out in the sun, those routines were like a breeze for her. The complex ones that I can only dream about, she was fretting over those but could do those well. And she had poise, strength, focus, determination and other things that you need to succeed at Yoga. 

I am not getting personal but if someone like her, with a busy schedule and erratic timings, could be so good at yoga, I wondered why was I bad? I want to believe that I am a fast learner and I am fairly athletic. I mean I am as athletic as a fat, old man can get.

I know I am a beginner and its been just two months but I believe that I can perform well. Remember? I keep saying that God gave me social anxiety but He's also blessed me with an innate ability to perform fairly well at any new task. In other words, I have a very steep learning curve on almost any skill.

It's time that I use it with yoga. And perform. Lemme make a promise to myself (damn this tendency of making promises to myself).

I would take yoga and complex poses as a challenge. I would get good better awesome at it. I would not step off the treadmill unless I die. I know it would take time, patience, effort and all such things that are in short supply but I will do it. Like I said, I will not step off the treadmill.

And no, I promise I would not leave this as a dead end. I would revisit this post in a month.

Keep watching fellas.

The Sleeping Beauty

Ever since I got done with first draft of the book, all and sundry have advised me to not look at the book for a month. And then redo the entire thing. Who am I to not follow the timeless wisdom. As as result, I have a lot more time on my hands now. And what do I do with it? I sleep. Sleep not as in take cat naps but sleep as in sleep like a log. Like this guy, Kumbhakarna used to. 18 or so hours a day. No, I am not exaggerating.

Take last night for example. I had slept at 9. I woke up at 6. Then I slept again at around 11. I just woke up at 4. So from 9 PM last night, I have slept for almost 14 hours. And as I type this, I am sleepy, all over again. Wait, let me get something to eat, been sometime since I have had food.

Back. So you know, may be, just may be I am suffering from clinical depression? They say that if you are depressed you tend to sleep a lot. Or may be its the transition from quarter-life crisis to mid-life crisis that is manifesting itself in sleep?

Or is it that I am suffering from Vitamin D deficiency? The same vitamin that sunlight helps produce. Or synthesize. Or create. Or whatever.

Or its because its winters?

Or is it because I have changed my eating habits drastically and have reduced carb intake to a minimal? I sort of survive on milk. May be its slowing down my metabolism?

I dont know.

Its like playing Roulette. On the ring are a million things that are responsible for my extended bouts of sleep. And I am trying to bet on the one that is responsible. Why bet? Because I want to fix it. I hate to be unwell and I hate to be sleepy, drowsy all the time.

And for the record, when I was young, I could get by with just 3-4 hours of sleep. I thought that sleep was a waste of time. I am sure I would have written a few blogposts about it. But look at me now. Living example of Sloth. Sleeping as if my purpose is to sleep. Like those damn cats!

Oh, damn... There is more to write. I know there is. But I cant think of it. Terribly sleepy. Let me lie down on my bed and write the remaining part. If I dont write things after this, you'd know what happened to me.


Untitled - 19 Feb 2014

Its been sometime since I posted something here. I mean I have been posting things but they have been more of updates on the book. At least the last four posts have been about the book. Here, go see the FB page of the book.

So, remember those heydays of blogging where one would post things regularly even though they didn't have anything to talk about? Where updates were more about mundane things? Where I wrote because I loved writing? Lemme get back those days.

So today, I dont have anything to talk about. The post is called untitled and I dont have anything special to write about. Lemme try and write without a reason.

Lets get started. With the last few days. They've been really interesting. I got to travel to Bali for free (got an opportunity to freelance with my ex-employer) and I had a ball. When I had a dopplr account, I would log in all my trips and miles. Now that is gone, I don't know where to log these things. I merely save the boarding cards and hopefully someday when I am old I would try and look at these boarding cards, I may feel good about these trips. When I was quitting my job to write full-time, I had thought that I would miss the crazy travels. But as luck would have it, I have travelled more since I quit. Thanks heavens for that.

Next up, the book. It's done. I mean the first draft. I now need a publisher to help me get it out in the market. Lets see when that happens. But I am happy to have finished the draft. I had no clue that I could write one full-length book. Took a lot of coercion and motivation but I finally did it. You may read about the journey here.

The other exciting thing is that two very important couples are having babies. One in Mumbai and one in the US of A. The very fact that they are having babies makes me nervous. The very concept of babies is nerve-wrecking. Its like getting a new life to the world. I dont know where my life is headed and here are people, getting babies in the world. And these are intelligent, smart people. Their decisions have been informed and planned. All the best to the couples and the babies on the way.

Talking about where life is headed, the reason for move to Mumbai, the book, is over. I need to now take a call about the future. I absolutely hate this bit, the one where I am supposed to plan and all that. But I have to do it. A man's gotta do what a man's gotta do. Next few days, I will try to figure out something that I could work on. And then go wherever life takes me. The thing is, whatever decision I make, I know that on one side is chase of glory and that illusive shiny goal. The other side is a life of mediocrity. More than anyone else, I am the judge and I am the jury. Worse, I am the executioner.

The other trouble is that I dont know what that goal it. I merely have vague inklings. Maybe its not for me. Maybe all the ambition that I believe I am full of, its of now use. I dont know. I have conflicting thoughts right now. Maybe in a few days I get some clarity. Hopefully I would.

Anyhow, the next thing is that I have started to play chess in my free time. Read free as transit and waiting. I tried reading but I could not. I can definitely not write. And I cant talk as its almost too noisy all the time.

Finally, if there is one blog that you ought to subscribe, even at the cost of others, I'd recommend James Altucher. He's my spiritual, mental and emotional guru. Ever since I have started reading him, my life has changed for good. No kidding. Read a few posts and you would know what I am talking about.

Oh, I am starting a new project. I call it the newsletter. The plan is to curate links and text from the world wide web and send the curated list to friends that I think would want to read. In fact I want to claim that if you are marketeer in the Internet era, you better read the list. The idea and inspiration comes from something I did when I was at CLA, where amongst other things, I curated cool things that the agency people ought to know. I am merely expanding the scope. This is a list of things that every thinking marketeer and entrepreneur needs to know.

If all goes well, I would send the first letter out this weekend. If you want it, please subscribe here.

And thats about it! For this edition of untitled. Hope you enjoyed it!

The first set of reviewers for tnks

First published on The Nidhi Kapoor Story's blog.

Just a couple of minutes ago, I sent out the first draft of #tnks to a few friends. Friends. Not literary critics. Not nitpickers. Not reviewers. Not editors. Simple folk like me. Who may someday want to pick up the book from the bookstores. The ones that I know want to see me succeed. The ones who were around when I needed them. Through thick and thin.

Thank you guys. In advance. For reading the the raw, uncut version. The one that would contain most mistakes. The one that would be toughest to read. The one that would be blander than tasteless wine.

To be honest, I had finished the draft almost half a month ago but then I had this serious case of butterflies in my stomach that I did not want to send it. I was am scared about opinions. I am scared of comments, reviews that the story would elicit. The ones I have sent to, they are my best friends but they are also my toughest critics. They are the ones who would not hold anything back. They would be brutal. And to be honest, I may not be ready for the brutality. After all, this is the first time I am doing something entirely by myself.

But guess these things have to be done. Someone, I think Murakami, said something about the pain that a butterfly has to go through to come out of its chrysalis. Honestly, I am not capable of understanding these heavy words and metaphysical emotions but I do know that I need to live through this pain if I want #tnks to see light of the day.

That's it for the update at this time. I am assuming that my friends would take a few weeks to get back to me. Lets see what they come up with. Till then, I would start thinking on the next one. And may be, start talking to a few publishers or agents.

In the meanwhile, if anyone wants to read, do write in.

Next steps on #tnks

Its done! I have finished the first draft of The Nidhi Kapoor Story.

What? Did you ask what is The Nidhi Kapoor Story? Are you living under a rock or something?

I can talk about excitement, exhilaration, fear, butterflies in the stomach, emptiness and all that. But let me park those because for the time being, I want to focus on the tasks at hand first.

This proximity to the finish line means that I need to find answers to a few very important questions that would determine the fate of the book. And my future as a full-time writer.

Here is an indicative list of things that need done. Pronto.
  1. Find an editor. Someone to painstakingly go through the first draft, find all the mistakes that I've made. Mistakes in terms of plot, grammar, sentence formation, structure etc. 
  2. Find a designer. To help me make marketing collaterals and design other miscellaneous things. Yes, I have asked everyone who has the word "design" in their bio. And everyone has refused so far. I don't know why. I don't know what am doing wrong here. Help!! 
  3. Find a publisher. Or an agent. Someone who know how this "industry" works. Someone who could help the book see the light of the day. 
  4. Create a marketing plan. I may claim to be an aware marketeer, but I need to put the plan on paper. And more importantly, execute it.
All this, under the constrains enforced by joblessness and limited "financial leverage".

Not to mention that I am on a constant lookout for the next career opportunity, after all, the money that I had saved all this while, is about to run out. Help me? This is my LinkedIn profile.

God? Tooth fairy? Bhagwan? Jezus? Anyone? Please? 

Addicted. To Writing.

Hotlinked from here.
Yesterday, I was meeting a friend and we were talking about life and all that. So, she's like my soul guru. I can bare my soul to her and yet not worry about making a fool of myself. Even if I do make a fool of myself, I don't mind. She knows how to put me at peace. She is brilliant like that. So, while talking to her, I said something that I had never realized before. That's the thing about her. Anyway, I said...
Every night when I go home and I think about the way I've spent the day gone by, if I realize that I haven't written 1000 words, I feel shitty about the day. Really shitty. 
And then I said,
Over time I have got addicted to the good feeling that only comes to me when I know that I wrote something during the day.
Wow! That was some writing. I am not even counting the number of bugs in there. Thats the exercise for someone else. Some editor or a grammar nazi. Are you one? I am looking for an editor for my book. Lemme know. 

The bottom-line is, I am addicted. To writing. And I am happy about it. I just want to indulge more and more into it. Get addicted more and more. Till it becomes terminal. Terminal as in terminal. Terminal like terminally-ill.

Like most other addicts, when they get terminally addicted, the thing they are addicted to, gets short-supplied. I am no different.

Similarly, now that I am addicted to writing, I dont know what to write. The book that I was writing? Even that is now done. The first draft of the book is done (you may like the FB page here), I don't know what to write. I do have the next plot but with it, I am in that phase when I am passively thinking about it. That's the process I follow. Think about things passively. Passively as in think absent-mindedly about things. Till they take up shape. Till I get some clarity. Till I know what it would be. And then I start writing. And write everyday. At least 1000 words. Till I get stuck. And then I repeat the process.

So, I dont know what to do. I dont know how to feed in this addiction. And the fact that I cant feed to this addiction, its killing me.

Help me. Somehow. Please.

Draft 1 of #tnks done!

Originally posted here.

As a kid, every time I saw this “That’s all Folks!” signage and heard the accompanying cheery music that came along with it, I got really sad and depressed. Sad as in SAD. S A D. Depressed as in DEPRESSED. D E P R E S S E D.

Why? Because the amazing cartoon that I was watching (Looney Tunes more often than not) was coming to an end. And I did not want it to end. I would cry because it was coming to an end. Since I could not control what started and ended when on the TV, I would cry all the more at my helplessness.

Today, years later, yet another thing came to an end. Something that I did not want to end. Something that I could prevent from ending and yet I let it end. I’d come to it in a bit. Meanwhile, I want to talk about the new-found respect I have for the guys who thought of “That’s all Folks!”. For, today, I realized that the end means conclusion. An end. The “That’s all Folks!” marked the beginning of the end. So that other things may be started. In fact, everything we do eventually comes to an end. It has to. That’s how the world has been designed by Mother Nature. And rather than crying about it, cribbing about it, we need to embrace it. With open arms. When something ends, we need to go forth. And celebrate it. We need to start looking forward to next. Start preparing for the next. We need to go on. Must go on. To the next adventure. To open that next door that beacons at us. The next dark alley that has always lured us. The unknown.

Ok, ok. I’d stop. There is more that I can talk about end but I need to end the rant. To talk about the next. I don’t know what that next is. I mere have a vague idea. I’d come to it in a bit. But I know what I ended today. The first draft of #tnks.

Took me 6+ months, 3 missed deadlines, 80K+ words, 240+ pages, 2 laptops, innumerable coffees and countless rickshaw rides to nearest Starbucks to work on the first draft. And today I finally completed the first draft of the book.

It also required me to quit my job, eat out of my savings and rely on temporary jobs to pay my bills. All said and done, this journey was totally worth it. I now know at least one thing that I want to do in life.

Am I good at it? Will I be appreciated? Can I make a living out of it? Can I make a dent? Jury is still out but I am willing to put in effort and wait for it.

For the time being, the big news is that that I have managed to finish the first draft of the book. And now that I have completed the first draft of the book, what is next? Two things. A, get some friends that I trust to read / review the book. And B, start talking to publishers, agents, designers, editors and other such people.

Over the next few weeks, I shall do so. And like every-time, I shall keep you guys posted.

Monthly Report - Jan 2014

The first month of 2014 is over. Its went past by so fast that I am wondering if someone hit the Fast Forward button on the remote control of the Matrix that we are hanging in. I had made elaborate plans for the month and had promised myself that I'd do so much that I'd leave my 30+ years of existence to shame.

But the malfunction at the matrix ensued that I did zilch. I mean not exactly zilch but when I compare it to other things, its more or less zilch. Anyway, the point of a report card it to evaluate how I did. Here is a list.

Here are the things that I did in this month. 
  1. Finished the first draft of The Nidhi Kapoor Story. Now I need to send the draft to friends, look for an editor and a publisher. If you know how to go about publishing, please help. 
  2. Ran out of money that I had saved while I was with Gravity. Now that the first draft of the book is done and I am out of money, I need to find something that pays me enough to pay my bills in Mumbai. I am in the job market now. 
  3. I took steps towards the inch loss goal that I have set for myself for the end of the year. These are yoga, walking and swimming. 
  4. This month, I also complete ten years of blogging. I started writing this blog in Jan of 2004 and its been ten years. Like I keep saying, apart from living and dreaming, this is the only activity that I have done for so long. This is the post that I wrote about it

I missed the following things this month.
  1. I had listed a few writing projects. I haven't been able to work on any. Its a long list. I have them archived on my Evernote. I shall try to initiate those in Feb. 

In Feb 2014, I would do the following.
  1. Work on Capt Obvious. Its a blog about brands and businesses. 
  2. Launch ISIN. Finally. I have been thinking on this for some time now. Its about time I did it.
  3. Start the next plot. I have a vague idea. I want to retell a classic, set in modern context. 
  4. Sell sgElectra. I know. Sell. :(
  5. Do things that I was supposed to do in Jan. Ref Evernote. 

That's it. I hope to make these report cards every month. I think I did sometime in the past but I cant seem to recall. Over a period of time, I would try to put tangibles in these cards. For example, I'd say that I wrote 20000 words this months or I spent 30% less than last month or something like that.

I can try and make this report on a non-public forum. I did a pros and cons analysis. I realized that by putting these online, I give myself an outside chance of bumping into people that may help me with these goals. If I do this bit on evernote, I lose out on the opportunity.

Lets see when I do that. You may want to read tnks blog in the meanwhile.

P.S. Thanks James. Really really appreciate all that you write.

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?