Serendipity 101

yesterday Few days ago #sgMS asked me about some hotel that she had recommended to me some time back - she had apparently forgotten its name.

So, normally any words that come out of her, I latch on like they're precious stones. I often tend to remember what she says and I am kinda quick on my feet as well. For things that I know are too tough to remember, I make long notes with Evernote (under the #sgMS tag, I have notes about what she likes, what she hates, the cities that she wants to travel to, the kind of lifestyle she wants to live and so on and so forth.)

Coming back, that day when she asked me, for some reason I could not recall the name of the hotel. And there is no way I was going to disappoint her. So I dropped everything I was doing, to try and find the name of the hotel that she had once mentioned in the passing during an innocent conversation. 

I went through EVERY email we'd EVER exchanged, browsed through our recent conversations on iMessage and WhatsApp and read every note I have made about her. It was a four-hour long exercise, excruciating to start with but full of nostalgia as I saw, browsed, read.

I did everything I could but I could not find the name of the hotel.

However I did discover that I still love her. And I still pine for her. And I still want to be with her.

Of course she has a different take. She believes we are happier away from each other. Of course she is never wrong and I am never right. I trust her judgement and I shall remain away. In misery celebration. I will not make any attempts to call her, meet her. I hereby promise I will not initiate contact with her unless its absolutely necessary. I will have my week moments and I will try and not break this verbal written contract.

Wish me luck!

P.S.: Of course "absolute necessary" is a loose term and I may misuse it. But I shall consider this as a form of tapasya. If I keep at it for long enough, may be some day I'd get what I want - her!

Pointless!

Source: Unknown
You see the curve? The irregular sinusoidal curve? My mood is like that. I start the day on a high. I make my bed, make a list of things to do, visualize my short-term and long-term goals and go out with all the positivity. I appreciate small things in life - sunshine, birds, trees and the sky. I observe things rather than making a judgement. I dont yell on people and I try and get all the good karma I can.

I feel like the success kid and I am all determined to take on the world!


Life looks rosy and I have this inkling that great things are going to happen to me. In anticipation I start "living" the life that I crave for (a la The Secret). And I open my arms wide and strong, ready to recieve the goodness that the world would apprantly shower on m. 

I reach wherever I want to (coffee shop, clients office, borrowed desk) and by the time I arrive, I start falling into this mild, for want of better word, depression. I start questioning the very meaning of what I am upto. Things that I am doing - they dont matter no more. Where I start thinking about the reason of doing things. Where I wonder about the whole damn point of being in a world where life is unfair. Someone like me, who thinks he works harder than anyone else that he knows of, is poor and gets a raw deal all the time. Of course there are great things that has happened to him but overall, in grand scheme of things, he's got the raw deal. There is no sex or cash, no friends, no future and nothing else to look upto. Everything feels like a futile attempt. Its like staring down the abyss.

The worst part of this feeling is that I am not alone. I know so so many people just like me. The ones who keep trying and keep going on without any hope or any possibility.

But then the selfish fuck in me pushes the pathos for others on a back seat. I concentrate on myself. And I realize that I am unhappy and I am discontent.

There are quite a few reasons for the feeling. The first and foremost is the fact that I did not get lucky with the Ovarian Lottery. Like the poor kid on the left, in the image on the left, I have had to climb really steep ladders while I see very average people doing better because they had things served to them on a platter.

The other thing is that I have had to work really hard for every rupee that I've earned while the word around me seems to get it easy!

And then my money does not word hard. For every rupee I spend, I do not get its equivalent worth.

First bit (losing out on Ovarian Lottery) is a random luck. The second is something that I can control and yet I cant because of the value system that I have been ingrained with. I wish I could unlearn em. Once a middle class, always a middle class!

When this bout of self-pity gets too much, I stagger to YouTube and fire up the latest Kamal R Khan video and world starts looking bright all over again. Side note: Do see his collection on Youtube if you have time. Here is the link.

I wish I could love myself the way KRK does. In a world where self-love could be so, selfless, nothing can touch you!

But then, moment the video is over, I am back to the gloom of diminishing bank balance, lost opportunities and comparison with friends who are dollar millionaires and yet make a stupid show about their poverty - wish they accepted that they are doing well and stopped pulling legs of people like me who barely get by.

At this point, I try to count my blessings - amazing parents that are so selfless that I dont believe them at times (while I continue to cry about Ovarian Lottery), opportunity to have traveled the world, option to work for myself (and make enough to pay my rent and earn my bread, while sending nothing home), ability to choose the kind of work I want to do (not that what I do has changed the world) and so on and do forth. Side note: Did you notice all the disclaimers?

But then I realize that I am not alone. And I havent done it all. I have a fucking Jack of all trades at best and Jacks often end up as JackAsses. See that lame attempt at pun? And I claim to be an author!

I think I'd end this post with this lame attempt at poetry...
P.S.: In fact, as I finish writing this piece, I am even wondering about the reason of this blog. I dont think anyone reads what I write (apart from people who land on this page via Google). And I definitiely dont go back to read how I was feeling at some point in the past. May be its just a way to vent? But to what end? Pointless. Like life!

Hello, Acme Corporation!

While I was growing up, two of my favorite cartoons were The Roadrunner and Pinky & The Brain.

Roadrunner was about this dude, Wile E. Coyote who devises complex plots and traps and uses innovative devices and tools to try and catch the ever-elusive roadrunner. The other, Pinky & Brain is about these two genetically enhanced lab rats that keeping scheming to take over the world.

But then, this post is not about Wile. Or about Brain. This is about this company called Acme (In Roadrunner, Wile orders his tools from Acme Corporation and in Pinky & Brain, the mice reside in the Acme Labs).

Wikipedia says, Acme Corporation is...
...a fictional corporation that features prominently in the Road Runner/Wile E. Coyote cartoons as a running gag featuring outlandish products that fail or backfire catastrophically at the worst possible times.
Now, of all the things that I've ever wanted to do in life (including the plans to take over the world), most are pretty outlandish and the rest have a very high probability of failing or backfiring. It is apt that I attempt creating an Acme, after Cyntax and Banyan Tree.

So, if all goes well, I will have some version of Acme to work with. And I shall use it to bring all my outlandish plans to life!

Wish me luck :)

Set your life on fire. Seek those who fan your flames!

Set your life on fire. Seek those who fan your flames. - Rumi
I read this line and the first reaction I had was, "Oh Faaaaaaaakkk!"

The kinds that I often have when I see something exemplary, something out of the world, something that makes me stop in my track and take note. Something that makes me jealous. Something that I wish I had done (or said, or written, or achieved).

And its something that hasn't happened in a while. Last few days have been really really draining. I cant think of a reason though. Just that I've been under the weather couple of times, I have been missing #sgMS, I seem to be on losing spree in my poker home game, work hasn't been taking me anywhere, the inspiration for book2 seems to have run dry and so on and so forth.

Wait! I digressed!

I am here to talk about Rumi. Coming back.

So, yesterday a couple of days ago a few days ago my sis told me about Rumi. And told me about some of those million amazing things that he's said.

And I was blown (for want of a better word). I was "Oh Faaaaaaaakkk!" and I was more. I was inspired. It was like that awakening! I felt that all the years that have gone when I did not experience Rumi, I have wasted those!

Source: This website

Thing is, I had known about Rumi all along but I had never given him attention. I had dismissed him as yet another in the Kabir, Bulleh Shah category that I had planned to explore in detail once I have time. But then my sis told me about him and I was hooked! The calling, if I may, to read Rumi, explore Rumi is so strong, so magnetic, so unidirectional that I have to, have to read about him. And I have been reading things on wikipedia, browsing things on Pinterest and Facebook and all such places.

Each piece that I read takes me further. Each piece makes me think. Each piece makes me smile. Each piece makes me reflect on my life and my decisions and the state of mind I am in. Each piece is a golden nugget of advice. Each piece is apt. Each piece is a university degree in itself. Each piece is illuminating. Each piece makes you better. Each piece is so simple and yet so powerful that its amazing he could say it with such simplicity!

Go read some Rumi. Go get high on his simplicity. Go indulge your senses. Go put yourself at the mercy of the power of words. Go seek. Or may be, he's seeking you?

One of things he said was,
What you seek is seeking you.

#lifeGoals

So this is a long list of things that I hope I can achieve in life. I may or may not have the talent, skill, determination, energy, time et al for these but I would love to do these. And no, not to be confused with the bucket list.
  1. Write something as amazing as Hoshwalon Ko Khabar Kya. Here is a sample. And Write something as cool as Lag Ja Gale. Here. Basically write well. So well that junta wants to sing em. So well that it moves people.
  2. Get 10K followers on twitter. As of today, I have 2400 odd followers. 
  3. Travel only business class. 
  4. May be climb the Everest! (update: I aim to do this by 2025).
  5. Spot a page 3 celeb reading one of my books. 
  6. Date a supermodel.
  7. Make a Fucket List. And do things on it. Yes, with an F. 
More as I go along.

P.S.: For the uninitiated, bucket list is where I get serious about things. #lifeGoals is more about vanity. 

Rant on Mumbai

Yesterday I was coming back from some place at around 9 (pm). To reach home, I cross the most godforsaken place in the world - Saki Naka (the wikipedia article does not do justice to the fuckery this place is. And its worse than the place where I live in Delhi). Since I knew that I was going to get stuck in traffic, I was in a really foul mood. This is when I looked out of the rick and saw a man my father's age running behind a bus, trying to catch it. He had a backpack and he was wearing regular trousers and a shirt. At the risk of generalizing, he looked like a clerk or some other administrative person - one of the millions in the great Indian middle-class. 

Since there was traffic, the bus was barely crawling ahead. My rick was right behind the bus and the man was literally running parallel to the rick I was in. And since the man was old, he could run only at a certain speed and the crawl-speed of the bus was more than what the man could run at. He knew and I knew and probably everyone around knew that he was not going to catch the bus. And yet he kept chasing the bus. Despite the inevitable, he continued to chase. And he did it with all the fervor he could.

As the traffic opened up, the bus zoomed ahead and whatever little hopes that man had of catching the bus went in smoke. And the man finally quit the chase. With a shrug. And then he started to walk. And there was some purpose in the way he walked! I loved it. I loved the way he went about it. I wish I had that spirit. I wish I had the grit that he had.

Anyhow while I was thinking about it, I realized a few things.

A. He was old. If my father were to run like that, I would be really really sad. And come to think of it, my father has used public transport all his life. Am sure he would have chased buses and trains while working. Me on the other hand, I have used public transport only till the time I was in the college. After that I had a bike. And enough money to hire a rickshaw or taxi or something private. I am extremely lucky to have a family that has supported me with all that.

B. While I may crib about my inability to make enough money and get sad about it, there are so so many people that have far less than what I have and are struggling with even the basics, and yet they are happy. I mean that old man. He was ok to run to catch his bus. And I am sure it must be a routine for him. And yet he was ok with it. He knows that he will win some and lose some. And here I am. Who's never had to lose anything!

C. Mumbai is a tough tough place to live in. My life is little comfortable - I have a big enough place to live in, enough money to pay for rickshaws and Ubers, enough money to eat what I want to, when I want to, where I want to, enough to take those foreign holidays and so on and so forth. And despite all this, I feel strained. The mere existence in Mumbai is tough. At times I want to leave everything and move to the mountains - which I would've done if I #tnks had sold well (after all purpose, passion and success are all interlinked!). May be I would if #book2 does well. I dont know if I can be a Ruskin Bond but I would try.

I digressed. The point is, Mumbai is a tough tough place to live in! And I have been shielded from the toughness to a large extent. I do not know what dirt and grime and heat and dust is like. I just cry like a baby. I need to stop that.

D. While the spirit struggle of Mumbai is a great thing, I am not sure I appreciate that a place could put such a large chunk of humanity in such miserable conditions. And each person is trapped in Mumbai because they dont have anywhere else to go, anything else to do. The ones who've made it are ok, the ones who haven't are too tired to move on. Life looks hunky dory from our Ubers and air-conditioned offices and lavish parties at five-stars and view from atop the high-rises and occasional travels abroad and fancy things that we talk while we work. But in real life, life is lot more than that. And we need to somehow learn.

If nothing, the resolve to help the ones who lost on the ovarian lottery is now stronger. Once I have reached a point when I have made enough (I dont know what is enough), I would really work towards generating employment, elevating the lives, education and health. Basically go the Bill Gates way. Some day. Not today. I could jump in today but the impact that I would have would be limited. I dont want to impact ten lives. I would rather do create a fortune and then use that to bring about change on a larger scale. Like Bill Gates! Again I am digressing. The point is that Mumbai is a tough place to make a living. And the scene yesterday made me rethink my choice to stay in Mumbai.

Oh, to end this, barely five minutes after I saw that old man, I saw another man - this time far younger, sprinting behind a bus that he knew that he was never going to catch. He was in a Jet Airways uniform and looked like a loader or helper. The he was running, it was remarkable! I dont think I can run like ever! Plus, the thing is, he would've walked from the airport to the junction and then must have missed his bus. Life is so fucking tough and here I am lamenting about my inability to afford a car or a better lifestyle!

Oh Mumbai - the maya nagri! It is so so difficult to love you. And even more difficult to hate you!

RIP Steve

Steve Jobs
Today Yesterday, in 2011, Steve Jobs passed away.

Normally I am very confused about how to react when someone passes away but when I heard about Steve Jobs, I remember getting a lump in my throat. I am not related to him, I have never met him. There was no reason for me to get sad about his passing away but I was.

I guess I was, and am, and remain a fanboy. For ever. For Steve, from a distance, by the virtue of his existence has...
- taught me the importance of doing things that matter (why do you do things you do rather than what do you do),
- taught me how to work (do your best work or dont do it at all),
- made me think harder on problems (till you reach the core issue and then attack it),
- often made me reconsider what I said / proposed (I have often asked myself, if Steve were to do this, how would he do it)
and more such things.

I am not sure if I am any better but I do know that I look up to him and I want to be like him. Someday. Wish I can! And if in life I end us as one-hundredth of one-hundred of what Steve Jobs was, I would die a happy man.

Thing is, Steve is like that Guru that I always wanted and yet never had access to. Remember Eklavya? No I am not comparing myself to E but I am comparing Steve Jobs to Drona. If I cant get any better, it is my problem. Steve has left behind tons of wisdom. And I have tons of time!

I hope if there is afterlife or reincarnation, Steve Jobs is back to doing what he does best - push the human race forward! And to end it, when Steve passed away, someone said, I quote...
There may be no greater tribute to his success than the fact that much of the world learned of his passing on a device he invented.
I look up to him. I want to be like him. I want to make that ding that he talked about. Someday. In remembrance.

Thanks Steve.

P.S.: If the life and work of Steven J does not inspire you, nothing will! For more about "Steven J" please watch this TED talk by Larry Smith.

Meri Jung - Anil Kapoor

If you are an Anil Kapoor fan, you would have seen Meri Jung. The plot is pretty simple. A happy home gets broken because a hotshot lawyer considers winning a case more important that serving justice. The son of the broken home grows up and vows to take sides of the honest and poor and may be take revenge on the hotshot lawyer. As a story ought to have, the two lawyers do eventually get into a tiff and the battle becomes personal.

The how, what, where and why are the part of the narrative and the movie. If you haven't seen the movie, you have to see it to experience the awesomeness.

Source: Wikipedia
I would have seen the movie a million times while growing up. And the movie had such profound impact on me that I wanted to become a lawyer (at other times, while growing up, I had wanted to become a detective, a policeman, a cricketer and a few other things). Like Arun Verma, I wanted to be able to play some sort of music that only my family knows of (like an anthem that only my family has access to). Like Arun Verma, I wanted to be the overnight success (from the looks of it, the only way I would ever have any real money is if some miracle happens and I get successful, overnight!). Like Arun Verma, I wanted a girlfriend that secretly loved me and when professed, she's fall in my arms and vow to never leave me again.

There are just too many memories of the movie that the day I can afford a home theater thing at my place, I will buy a DVD. And watch the movie till I am successful ;P

Oh, and here is a question for you. Which other movie did Anil Kapoor play Arun Verma in? Get this right and I'd send you a copy of my book, The Nidhi Kapoor Story. Serious. Shipping in India only though :)

Done with Starbucks

If you follow this blog, or my twitter feed, or my instagram feed, you would know of my love affair with Starbucks India.

Sadly, it has come to an end.

The love affair started in late 2013 when they opened an outlet close to my place (Powai). And in the process gave me that third place that I always craved for. A place where I could be myself. A place where I dont have to bear with the formal environment of an office. A place where I could escape from the overly-causal vibe of a home. A place that inspired me. A place that helped me get in the zone, over an over again and allowed me to do good work. In fact I wrote a large part of #tnks at the Powai outlet.

To me, over time, Starbucks thus became the default place where I'd meet friends, acquaintances, business associates, strangers, first dates and so on and so forth. Every time someone asked me where to meet, irrespective of the city I were in, I could close eyes and ask them to come to the nearest Starbucks outlet. Each store was consistent, each Barista was polite, the coffee was ok but the experience was superlative. With Starbucks, I did not have to worry about things like AC, security, cleanliness, Internet, ambiance etc. I had to think about more important things like making the right impression, convincing the prospective client et al. In fact if I wanted to get a meeting right, I would insist to meet at a Starbucks. Leave the meetings apart, I could spend hours at a Starbucks. All by myself. Starbucks taught me how to be alone.

It gave me so much that I started considering a Starbucks outlet as the greatest place ever invented. And thus, over time, like with lovers, I started taking Starbucks for granted. And I started expecting things from Starbucks. Things that are often hard to deliver if you dont have the interests aligned, the love mutual and shared. Which I know wasn't. Starbucks after all is a commercial enterprise and while they do have the community's interest at heart, they have to make money. They have shareholders to get back to at the end of every quarter, if not year.

So with time, as the business grew, the stores started to change. I mean the waiters still called me by my first name and remembered what I order (Java Chip Frappuccino) and I continued to move towards those free drinks and upgrades with every purchase. But the stores became less inviting. Stores became more commercial. Stores started getting "optimized." Older patrons like me weren't invited no more. Guess they lost their soul, if they had a soul!

In terms of tangibles, the stores started getting more crowded and the patrons started getting younger. And as a result the service level started to go down, the noise levels went upto a point where it became impossible to hold conversations. Baristas were no longer keen on "knowing" you. They merely wanted to fill in more tables and operate like a McDonalds where the only goal is to rotate tables. Fast. Profitably. Other things stopped mattering. All the cool things that Starbucks does, stands for, took a back seat.

The stores continued to consistently fail to deliver on things that I expect as a lover, a patron. And like a jilted lover, I can not tolerate someone else getting more attention than I. And thus I am forced to "take" my affection elsewhere. I am not sure where but someone will take up the space that has been left vacant by Starbucks. Something that is little more everlasting and little more permanent. May be. May be not. And of course, its not them, its me! I guess its me who's at fault. I need to change. I need to give more space. Well, dont I sound like a typical lover left in lurch? Judge me, if you will ;P

But I hope we remain friends. I will of course continue to come over to a Starbucks. But I am not sure if I'd be able to love Starbucks back again. Of course I wish them all the success. They are a great business and they are super cool. I do hope they find love from more people.

As far as I go, I am sure something will come up. Do pray ;P

Till then,
SG

P.S.: I am writing this at a Starbucks. And I will no doubt continue to visit Starbucks and write and spend time and money. But the fanboydom, the love, the undying support, is gone!

The last 15 days

Just because it's the 1st of the month, here is a post. Also because I haven't written anything in a while, I ought to write -- isnt that what writers authors do? Also because I feel obligated to share the way world I see, after that near-death experience (I shall talk about it in a bit). Also because the year has been very unkind as far as my heath goes. And because if I dont rant, what else will I do? And because writing on this blog allows me to "express" myself. Express in the classical expression way. I have to.

Last I wrote here was some 15 days ago. Why 15? Because 8 of those 15 were spent on the bed. Why on bed? Because I ate some stupid pasta at a fancy restaurant (Aromas at Powai) and a puff at a five-star (Orchid at airport) -- please fight it out gentlemen. And the other 8 were spent in gloom. Why gloom? If you know me, you'd know.

The thing is, while I was on the bed, recuperating from that bout of food poisoning, I realized a few things. For starters, I cant handle this entire "being unwell" business well. I become a prick and I am a pain in ass. And I become this monster that I believe is very uncharacteristic of me. I try hard but I cant not do it. I end up hurting people that I mean to take care of. I try to be decent but I fail at it. Guess there's just one way to solve the thing - don't fall sick!

So last two/three days of recuperation have been spent in trying to not get unwell. That translates into no more street food. I've grown up in Delhi and I had these amazing guts of steel. I could eat whatever and I could have any sort of gastrointestinal attack and could digest even a brick. But not any more. May be with age, the steel has atrophied, the acids in my stomach have stopped performing. Who knows. But I now have to look and pause and think before I put things in my stomach. From now on, everything goes. Except McDonalds. Please. That's something I cant do without. There is something about fried batter and potatoes that I cant resist the temptation of. In fact, I start writing this at home and I am finishing it at a McDonalds. But apart from McD, I shall eat at home and avoid baahaar ka khana as long as I can.

Help me with it. And, just in case you were looking for a sign, look no further.

Source: Unknown

And on the 7th day

via: Vectortoons.com
Since I started working (full-time, post my MBA in 2006), I have never ever felt the need of a "weekend" or a break. I could work long hours and I could continue to work long hours for weeks on the go (My personal "best" is a 4-day long "workday," without sleep and with a lot of food and gas).

Until the week gone by.

I can't remember of a time when I was so tired exhausted with work that I needed a vacation. May be because I take tons of time off to travel and engage in a thousand projects and a million hobbies. I do multiple things at the same time and thus I use different parts of my brain at different times. Or may be because I have worked in advertising, events and startups where every day is a new challenge and work is not repetitive. May be because I have always had great bosses to work for and they allowed me all the freedom to do whatever I wanted to do. Or may be I was plain lucky?

I dont know the reason but as such I've never sort of 'appreciated" the concept of a weekend.

Until the week gone by.

For some reason, the last week brought about a change. Even before the weekend started, I prayed, wished hard and I did not want the Monday to arrive. When it finally dawned, I wanted it to get over fast. Tuesday I did not want to get out of my house, but I had to. I was exhausted by Wednesday. Thursday, I crawled out of my home. I hated everyone. I was grumpy. I was rude to people for no reason. I was not me. I wanted to ask a girl out - I blew it. Friday I was literally begging for the week to end and give me some time to recuperate. And as luck would have it, Friday turned out to be the longest day. And when I finished work on Saturday afternoon, I was so elated that I could actually count it as amongst the happiest moments of my life!

Of course throughout the week, I continued to work and tried to give my best -- which at times is brilliant (from my lens), most times good enough (for people I work for) and often half-baked-half-hearted attempt (for #sgMS). I could elaborate but this is a rant for a different place, different time.

You know, thing is, the world I come from, either you work or your parents set you up a grocery store or a sweets shop (Garg Kirana or Garg Mishthan Bhandar). And as such, I have inherited middle-class ethos where work is above everything else and you simply do what you are asked to do. There is no time to crib, to be tired, to get exhausted, to look forward to the weekends, to crack jokes, to be happy about life. Money is tight and there is no entitlement that helps you tide over the hard times. You work. Or you sit at your grocery store and peddle soaps and shampoos. Of course you could choose to live under a bridge and die of hunger.

With time, thanks to the world we live in, things have become easy and I no longer have to hold a steady job. I have enough work that allows me to make some money, helps me pay my bills and yet have some left over to buy things I like, travel to places I want to, get those occasional gifts for the ones I love. And I am so so thankful to the stars that have allowed me to reach such a place. I know I am luckier than a lot others. I got dealt a pretty ok hand in the ovarian lottery. And the stars dont really work for you unless you put in time and effort. So, there was never a thing about weekends. There was never a break.

Until the week gone by.

I really needed a break. And I actually loved my sleep last night. I missed my Sunday breakfast ritual with VG but that's ok. He'd understand.

While I write this, I am thinking what changed over the years is wrong with me. Lemme indulge my obsession with (of?) making lists and try to list the things that come to my mind.
  • A, I am definitely older (and more depressed). And I am not getting younger (or happier) ever. So I have less physical energy, more stubborn ways, more toxins in my body, more patterns that are so set that I dont want to disturb, lesser neurons, more judgmental decisions and so on and so forth. It hampers my inability to get things done!
  • B, I am suffering from a terrible mid-life crisis and I am trying to overcompensate by drowning myself in work. I am jealous of everyone around me who seems to be happy (look at their FB timelines), doing meaningful work (that is actually changing the world and putting that ding, making money (the convertibles and automatics and third houses that these people are buying), climbing up the corporate ladder and doing well on all such metrics.
  • C, I am trying just too hard. For everything - money, relationships, achievements. And I am not seeing any results. May be because I dont know the direction that I want to move in. It sucks to work like an ass. And come to think of it, I have always talked about smart work being better than hard work. More than results, it is my inability to drive my destiny.
  • D, my inability to get things done. I mean look at this idea that I've been sitting on for almost 6 months. I just cant get it to work. While I sit on the sidelines, the world has taken it and went to another level altogether!
  • E, as #sgMS says, my mediocrity. Thing is, if I were dumb, I would have been content with a job that gave me some money, some respect, lot of grief, long weekends and occasional 5% raise. Or if I were brilliant, I would have had some impact on the world already (look at other 30-odd years old men - Zuckerberg, Altman, Dhoni et al. Hell, I dont need to go far. There are examples in my immediate surrounding - one of my ex-bosses, my classmates from MDI, my friends from school and college). Most people today know what they want in (aka from) life. And they are at it. Moving forward. If not fast, then one step at a time. I, on the other hand, am taking pleasure in ranting about my life. Case in point? These two tweets
  • F, oh my fetish with Masochism and Self-flagellation. I revel in misery I think. No wonder I dont have many friends. And funny thing is, life has been very kind to me. Really kind. I am a man of my free will. I am fat (and thus have enough food in my belly). I can afford a spacious place in Mumbai. I can take occasional weekends off. And I can dream. And I have all the things that are required to get that ding-worthy project off the ground. I want to enable people to see their purpose and do grand things - I have the opportunity to go ahead with it. I just dont do it. I dont know why. 
  • G, I leave too many open windows. More on this later. 
Phew! I am tired. And elated. Tired because I am generally tired. And elated because I just wrote for some 40 minutes (this post). And writing gives me happiness like no other thing.

And in an otherwise ok mood because I am rested. I have an exhibition to go to. Hope it is worth the time and effort. Hope you're having a great weekend. Hope things are working out. Lemme end this with a cartoon by Hugh.

And of course, hope you (and I) do something that matters!

Over and out.

Notes to self
1. Elaborate on half-baked-half-hearted attempts and Open Windows some time. 
2. Stop using to many ands.
3. Find a solution for self-flagellation. 

On the clock

Here is a new experiment. I will write for the next 24 or so minutes. I will not think about what I write. I will not edit what I write. I will not proof read. I will not do a grammar check. I will not do any "post production." I will post.

Screencap of an http://e.ggtimer.com/25minutes screen.

I will use http://e.ggtimer.com/25minutes to track 25 minutes. Starting now...!

So why this experiment? Because I havent written anything in a long time. I mean I have written but that's been work related writing. Next to negligible (if there is a word like that) for recreation. And come to think of it, I really really love writing. I may not be great at it but I love it. It allows me to express what I cant often speak out loud. It makes me research things. It makes me put things in perspective. It gives my thoughts a structure and a flow. And I get in the other flow - the one that you get in when you are totally immersed in a task. When I write, my writers block, my pseudo depression goes away. I am in the moment. I am in the zone. I feel alive. I am not lethargic. I am not lazy. I dont think of anyone else. May be I do think about #sgMS but not anymore.

As I write, to accompany is some music by RD Burman in the background. Streaming on youtube. The phone is one the night mode. So apart from people in the favorites list I will not get any phone calls. And anyhow who is going to call me? I spoke to my sis already during the day. I am meeting Neo for dinner. My parents have now adjusted to my bouts of absence. And I just finished whatever little work I had on my plate. Of course I have to make some phone calls to get people to do their bit of work. Which they may or may not have done. But I will still have to remind them.

Wait. The track got over. I need to click on a new track. Back in a second.

Back. A quick glance at Eggtimer tells me that I have 20 odd minutes left. Another thing that I would want to do at the end of this excercise is that I would like to know my speed. I would copy paste this post into word and see how many words I typed. Why? I dont know. I have this thing for random data. Like for example, do you know of the Golden Ratio (I shall resist the urge to insert the hyperlink to the Wikipedia article on Golden Ratio, since I am on the clock)? The ratio of 1:1.6? Its insane. And then do you know of the numbers of playing cards? There are 52 cards. There are 52 weeks. There are 4 suits. There are 4 seasons. The total of the face value of all cards is 364. Etc. I love numbers. Just that I am not cool enough to chase my love for mathematics and dive deep in to it. For that matter I dont think I can deep dive into anything. I love being the jack of all trades. And I want to continue to be that. I recently read somewhere that its easy to learn about 70% of any discipline. And from there on, the journey gets tough. So most people would get easily to about 70% of any discipline that they choose. But only a few go beyond that 70%. And that's why we see a few people rise to top while most struggle in mediocrity. I think I have been blessesd that I "get" upto 70% of most things without putting too much effort. This ability allows me to straddle across disciplines. But the lack of expertise in any one stops me from making that impact.

Impact. Damn the word. And damn this guys called Hugh (runs the popular GapingVoid blog - he has been posting things about doing "things that matter" for last few days - again resisting the urge to post link). Wait the song got over. Lemme switch the next one.

I have 13 minutes left. So I wrote for some 7 minutes. More than my ability to concentrate, it was the track that was in the background. The track that I put on now is about 5 minutes long. So the next break will happen when I have 8 minutes left. Ok.

So I was talking about impact. Blame on the universe conspiring (I tweeted about it yesterday, or may be day before). I sincerely believe now that universe does conspire. There are a million examples in front of me. When you want something really bad, you actually get it. Not that I have got what I want (what do I want? simple - money, freedom, opportunity, love, travel). But I am seeing signs of things coming to me. I mean who would have thunk that I would be making my ends meet without having to hold a regular job? Of course I am working harder than a regular employee but I am happy. I can control my time. I can choose what to work on. I can get away from dirty work (P.S.: I think no work is dirty. More on this in some other post).

Ok I am now scratching my head. I think I am stuck. But I shall continue to write. So apart from impact the other thing I chase is making a difference in the lives of people who make me a part of their lives. I love it when I can help people learn things. I may not be the teacher per se. I could merely be someone that triggers something in their head that makes them chase some knowledge. I could be the conduit. I could be the catalyst. I could be that bottom most step on a ladder that helps people rise. And shine.

Wait. Time to change the track. 7 mins, 50 seconds to go. And 19% battery on the laptop. Brb.

Back. I put a 5 minute lone song. Main Koi Aisa Geet from the movie Yes Boss. I shall not post a link. I love the song. So so much. For a ton of reasons. Its SRK. Its a cute love story. Its about making someone you love happy. Its about you being that jester that exists only to make other people laugh, smile and be happy. In an alternate universe I could be a jester, if I could choose. I mean I want to be one in this life as well. But I lack the balls that it takes to try and make other people smile. No wonder I like being part of the entertainment industry. Well, not a part. But at least the fringes. May be, just may be, the meaning of my life is to be that jester? And use my [questionable] understanding of various disciplines to create something that makes people happy? Even if that happiness is for a fleeting moment? May be that's what the universe is trying to tell me all along? May be thats my purpose?

Oh purpose! I have had long discussions with two of my gurus over the last few days. Again, I shall not post links but the gurus are RG and KG. Both are a part of the communication industry and whatever little financial security I have now is because of these two. And because of HG and VK. Wait I am digressing. But thats ok. I am not getting any points for staying on track. The points are to be awarded for continuing to write. Which I am thankfully doing.

Another thing that I could talk is the ongoing shit on my head about my advancing age. It actually happens around this time of the year, every year. And I dont know what to do about it. Wait. Time to change track. Probably the last track. I have a minute and 40 seconds left to go. 

Back. The next is Chaand Taare Tod Laaon. Again, a track that I love. It is all about ambition and all that. Something that I can totally relate to. Anyhow. A thought struck me. Do I want to write for 25 more minutes? I thought as I wrote and the answer is... No!

Why not? If I like writing so much?

Damn the buzzer just rang. Time's up!

More later! 

So I am done. 

I am not editing anything. I am not adding links. I am not correcting grammar. I am not formatting it any different. I am not touching the bit I wrote. If you are a psychologist, may be you want to do an analysis? 

And as I was adding labels (read tags) to this post, I realized that I just did a session of free writing. Sounds interesting. Will explore. Until next time, over and out. And a random number fyi, I wrote about 1300 words, excluding this and the note on the top. Which is not bad, if you ask me!

Talk to Do ratio

If the numbers are to go by, this is the worst year of my life so far, in terms of number of posts I've made on this blog.

I mean look at the screenshot. This is the twelfth year of writing a blog and apart from the first two, the only other year when I wrote so less was 2010. And in the last four year, I have averaged more than 100 posts per year. Why do I care about how much I write? Because I am a writer. And I want to be better one at that. And unless I practice my craft, I will not become what I want to become.

Like all other lapses when I haven't been able to write for long duration, I have multiple excuses. The first one among those is that work has kept me busy. The other is that I just havent felt like writing.

Now, is that a good thing? Of course not. And what am I doing about it? Nothing as yet.

So here's the deal. I will post something on the blog everyday, starting today. Till the end of the year. We should thus end the year with 150 odd posts - making this year the second best year of my blogging life. Now that's a great goal to chase!

I know. I know. I have made this promise umpteen times in the past. But then in the past I was not touching 33. And I am not getting any younger anytime. The time to do shit is now.

Oh, one more thing. A dear friend (RN09Dec) recently told me that I start a million projects and then never work on those. And when I do work, I dont finish. When I discussed this with kAgE and Agony Aunt, kAgE told me not bother as the projects left unfinished are left abandoned for a reason. And AA told me that my "talk to do" ratio tends to zero and in long run, people who have a high talk to do ratio do well. And I want to do well. And I shall work on improving this. Any tips anyone?

After the Crash by Michel Bussi - Book Review

After The Crash - Michel Bussi

I just finished reading After the Crash by Michel Bussi.

It's a very simple and yet fascinating story. A place crashes in the mountains. Everyone aboard dies. A three-month old baby is found next to the wreck. Two families, one super rich and other of limited means, claim ownership of the baby. They get into a fierce battle that lasts for 18 years, till the baby is an adult.

No points for guessing the side where the scale would tilt. And yet it takes them 18 years to discover the truth.

And when the truth comes out, more than who won or who lost, I, the reader, was disappointed! More on this as we go along.
 So the book starts with the plane crash and a detective who is about to commit suicide. This detective has been hired by the richer family to establish the true identity of the baby. The detective wants to kill himself because despite his earnest attempts he hasn't been able to crack the case. But just before he is to pull the trigger on the gun placed on his temple, he stumbles onto something and establishes the real identity of the baby and thus solves the case.

All the while he was investigating, he has maintained meticulous records and observations of his hunt for the identity of the baby. And over the course of his investigation he has come close to the miracle baby (as she is called in the book) and the family that gets the custody of the baby (I am not saying which one).

The narrative shuttles you between present and past, weaving all that has happened over the years in a tight story. It has been done so well that you as a reader is never lost and you actually start craving for the bouncing around in the timeline. (Side note: I actually thought that I could rewrite #tnks with the same narrative style!)

Apart from that the book has a lot of false starts, red herrings, clues that lead to dead ends. In that sense, the book keeps you engaged. There are clues strewn all over the narrative. And yes it is hard to put the book down. It does drag for a bit here and there but that's ok. And no it is no Stieg Larsson.

For me, when I read a book that promises a mystery, I want to have all the clues in front of me. I want to put on my Sherlock hat and try and decode the clues myself. I want to race ahead of the narrator and discover the truth. I want the gratification of being proved right. Or wrong. With After The Crash, I was not given the opportunity. I was told that the clue is in front of my eyes but it was never revealed to me. It was hidden from me till the very end. I thus felt cheated as a reader. As an amateur detective. But then that's the author's choice. Not the reader's and I respect Michel's!


So while I thoroughly liked reading the book, I did not like how the entire mystery came together towards the end. The last quarter of the book could be have been far well written. The mystery could've been little more twisted. The reader could've been given little more credit.

Having said that, its a great one-time read. And no, you will not read the book second or third time to enjoy the descriptions or dialogues or scenes or narratives. Overall, a 3-star rating from me.
 
P.S.: Thanks to @Vivek for sending a review copy. As with other review copies, this one is up for taking. If you are in Mumbai and can pick it up at your expense, please let me know and I will be happy to give this away. 

And no, I was not paid to read the book or write the review. I did on my own accord.

Bande Achche Hain

Just stumbled on this ad by ICICI Pru. And reminded me of how I behaved around #sgMS.

Yeah yeah... I am blowing my trumpet. But that's really how I am was. Honest. Ask her.



Just hope that the new guy she's with takes care of her better than I. After all she is a princess and deserves everything that the world has to offer.

A BMW

From my calendar.

Last year, on 26th July, I promised one of my mentors that I will have made enough money to buy a BMW by 26th Jul of 2015.

When I made that promise, I did not really have my eyes on a top end model, but on a simple X1. Which I thought was pretty doable - after all I am full of hope and I know I will do well in the future. Just that this future never comes. I have been full of hope for some 20 years now.

And thus the 26th of July in 2015 came and went and I am farther away from the beemer than I was on this date last year. In fact if I were to monetize all my assets and go to a car shop, I think I'd be able to afford a Tata Nano. May be. May be not. Depends on the shape of stock market. 

And no, I am not proud of it. Instead, it sucks. And sucks like crazy.

Thing is, a BMW is not really important. Its just a placeholder. Placeholder for affluence, success, fame, impact, love, relationships and other things that you use to measure the grandness of life, measure the success, measure the respect that you get from the world around you and all that.

I mean, at my age, you ought to have achieved at least one of the following...
- create an unicorn
- make a ding in the world  
- own a fleet of cars - including a Batmobile.
- earn enough money to retire at an island like the Necker
- use the leftover money to help others (not via NGOs) but via a 'skills imparting business' 
- make a trip to the space
- date a supermodel (Priyanka Chopra, Deepika Padukone, Julia Roberts etc.) 
- win cash the WSOP ME
- exchange vows of life with the love of your life (after you found her of course)
- discover the purpose of your existence and thus the life
- travel the world
- etc... 
and more. 

But I haven't done any of these. I am more than half-way my useful life span and I am miles away from any of these.

The least I could have done was to get myself a car. May be a BMW X1?

Book 2 - Update - Apologies

After the phenomenal success of #tnks, I get a million emails everyday - each asking me about the status of my next book.



When I published #tnks, I promised myself that I will publish one book every year. 2015 was to see my second book. But 6 months in the year, I am not sure if the book is coming out. So, if you are disappointed, I am sorry.

And I promise I will continue to write. I will continue to work on my craft. I will continue to improve my storytelling. And in 2016, I will deliver something that will make you happy. And proud. For sure. I promise.

So the delay is for multiple reasons. Like other things, if you follow this blog, here is a list.

A. My laziness. Writing a book is about discipline. Its about writing 1000 words everyday. At least. And more if you want the book to be interesting. For #tnks I wrote that many words. Every day. For few months. And then there was time I spent on editing. This time around, thanks to my laziness I haven't written anything per se.

B. Roti, Kapda aur Makaan. You'd know that I refuse to hold a steady job. And I depleted all my savings while I worked on #tnks. So this time around, I have had to put in a lot of time to make enough money to afford the fancy lifestyle I was used to. I know I know. There are people who work three jobs and yet get time to write. Salute to them. I dont have what it takes to do that. I cant live below a certain standard and still write. I am not crazy enough. Yet. May be when I am older.

C. Lack of focus. I have made a gazillion starts and I am not happy with any of those. I even wrote some 20K words for one of the plots but I am not sure I want to tell that story (the one based in Goa). However I now think I have something that I want to write about. Of course I will write crime but not that pop-culture kinds. I want to write serious, western crime. The kinds that gets converted into movies. Lets see if I have it in me. Lets see how it unfolds. Lets see if the story intrigues me enough to make me finish it by end of this year. If you really want to read the next thing, please pray that story keeps me hooked enough. 

D. Lack of motivation. While the response to #tnks to has generally been very encouraging, it hasnt made me a literary star. And I am the kinds who needs external motivation to get things done. I know I like writing and all that but I really needed people to praise me for what I had cooked with tnks. And it hasnt happened. I mean I get fanmail and all that. But the numbers are dismal. The number is far from 1000 true fans that KK talks about. May be it takes time to get to that number of fans. May be not. I will never know. Unless I write the next book. No?

I am sure there are more reasons but I can come up with just these for the time being.

I think what I really need is someone to give me a big fat wad of money so that I may just sit there and write. May be once I get that money, I will become lazier and fatter and not write at all. May be its not about money at all. May be its about that zabardat toofan that I think Faiz talked about? May be. May be not.

Any how, hope you guys dont abandon me after reading this. Like I said before, it's people like you who support people like me to go forth and chase hard-to-get dreams like writing a book.

Thank you for supporting me.

Regards,
Saurabh Garg
July 2015

Oh, one more thing. The page for Book 2 is up already on FB. To be honest it doesn't really help but its something that everyone does. And I am not cool enough to not do things that the world does. So, in case you want to "like" it already without seeing the book, please, be my guest!

Thanks!

ABCD

Looks like acronyms are in vogue. After the last post on MIA, here is another one. This time, I will talk about ABCD. No, not the movie. But 4 things that I want to do in life. Why do I call these ABCD? Because I suck at naming things.

And since this is my personal blog, the post may appear as a rant on life. And no, dont expect me to come up with nuggets like the days are long and decades short or the seven intelligent fanatics. And dont expect any enlightening talks about how to work and all that. That's something that I leave for people on Quora and for younger and more established people - which pretty much includes everyone. At my age, you see, most people are younger, richer, healthier, smarter and all that. I am a mere mortal who's trying to live happily. Ever after. If only sgMS agreed to be a part of the ever after story.

So I am going to talk about things I do. After all that's the point of a personal blog. These are simple silly things that non-achievers like me do and engage in.

So I primarily spend my time on doing 4 things. These are...
Let me talk about these for a bit.

A, is my freelancing gigs. 
Where I work on event planning, event management, brand strategy, brand planning, marketing strategy, social media strategy and other such things for brands. I do this via my engagement with few agencies. Out of three "live" contracts (irregular work), I have worked with two as an employee and have hired the third as a vendor at some point in time. Lesson learnt? Relationship. Not talent, not hustle. Relationship.

In terms of talent, what I do is questionable. In term of hustle, the effort in put in is questionable. But end of the day, if I am pretty average with what I do and I am happy living in the closed confines of a 1RK shanty in an obscure corner of Mumbai and a third-hand Tata Nano, I can continue to do this!

But is that what I want from life? Isn't being an illegal immigrant in US and working at car washes at minimum wage better? I think so!

You know, wolf and sheep?
Source: GapingVoid

B, is writing. 
It could be a simple act of putting pen to paper. Or keystrokes on a laptop. And even though I may not be any great shakes with what I write. I may think of cliches all the time, I may use simple words to express simple thoughts, I may not able to write flowery language but I definitely am happy when I see words appearing on screen when I let my fingers do their trance-like dance.

In a few years I may realize that I do not have what it takes to be a writer that a large set of people may love to read. But I do know that if nothing else, I shall continue to write this blog. Of course time shall tell.
From my book, The Nidhi Kapoor Story. Did you buy?
Or may be I will continue to write my books with simple plots and simpler descriptions and non-evocative journeys etc.


C, is future earning. 
This is where I open opportunities by talking to people, companies, friends, family and strangers. Hoping that they'd hire me some day. Assuming they can afford me.

This is probably the toughest part. In fact last two, three days I have been stuck with this and this is what has been eating me from inside out. I've written about this in detail in the past. As I go along, I will talk more about this as I spend a large chunk of my time on this.
 Anyhow, when days like this happen one after the another, I tend to go back to pop-culture motivation-porn of Mr. Will Smith. Do see the following video. I hope it is not but even if it is scripted and Will has a team of people working for him, the video is insane.

I can watch it over and over and over.


And Oh, one more thing. Once I am done with this post, I am going to go start my hustle. What about you?


And D, ladies and gents, is hobbies. 
This is where I go to recreate (of the recreation fame). Where I unwind. Where I chill. Where I am in the moment. Where I know I want to take a break from A, B and C. Things that include hobbies are poker, guitar, writing (combination of B). For each hobby, I have a tangible goal. For example, for poker, I want to win the WSOP ME some day (which incidentally is happening as we speak and there are two Indian-origin players in the final 101. For guitar, I want to perform on a stage. For travel, I want to do a RTW. For photography, I want to be able to sell my photographs to people for a million dollars and more.

Lofty? May be. Achievable? Yes!

I mean who thought Stu Unger could win WSOP ME three time? And back to back two times?

Stu Unger. The Idol.

So yeah!

These are the 4 things that keep my busy. And, as I leave, here's a chart that I keep looking at all the time. IF there was a way to clue A, B, C and D, I would be achieve bliss.

No?

Source: Unkonwn. The point? Do things that you love and the world will pay for!

Over and out!

P.S.: Post # 3 in as many days!
Source: The sandcastle baby.

The Dilemma of the Dating Apps

Context: If you know of my love interests, you will know that I refuse to move on. From where? well... 

So, yesterday a gentleman told me that I was an early adopter of shiny new things. I remember talking about it at a point in past. Right now, too lazy to actually sift through (almost 1500 posts on) this blog to locate that one. Just assume that I have spoken about it. Ok?

The point is one of the things that the world (and Universe with all its signs) has been telling me for a while, is to move on. And for people like me who are awkward in social settings and have limited places of work (where, according to a survey most relationships happen), the options to find options to move on are pretty few.

And what would a guy who is an early adopter do in such a case? Of course turn to technology for help. Technology like discreet matchmaking websites, mobile phone applications that promise you contact with women in proximity and flings with friends of your friends.

I went (a few months back), I tried (till last night) and I was disappointed.

When I talked to the pros of these dating games, I was told I've got the entire thing wrong. So this post may become what not to do while trying for luck on online medium.

A. For starters I refuse to put my photograph up. Because I dont like the concept of my photograph on the Internet. Here's a challenge. Find my pic. You wont be able to. I promise you. Anyhow, so I refuse to put my pic and that is a big big deterrent for women. Apparently.

B. Then I refuse to follow up (read make desperate attempts at seeking company) and sending messages incessantly even though the lady on the other side is not replying.

C. Finally the few matches I did get, a tiny percentage did convert into meetings. And I guess I am not a conversationalist per se and thus I think I disappointed most of the ones who braved a meeting with me. And a handful that did not find me disappointing, disappointed me. Except one. Where none of us disappointed each other but it turned out both of us had issues from previous disappointments.

So, today, as I am on the verge of closing my accounts on these dating profiles, the "Steve Jobs" of our era (the one you cant ignore), made these two posts that he made. If he can get 170+ messages, I being an ardent follower and aspiring Steve Jobs can definitely get 1.

No?

The question thus is, are you the one?

P.S.: Second post in two days. Neither one has a point. Or may be they do. Who cares. The point is, I am back to writing. And I love it

MIA

<rant>
When I am 80 (if I live till then) and I look back at 2015, the only thing I'd recall is that 2015 was the year when I was missing in action for a large part. Case in point? This blog! It's been a month since I posted something. The last post that happened on 11th of June and today we are on 11th of July! A month. In my heydays of blogging, I would post something every 30 minutes!
</rant>

So, wassup boys and girls? (The one boy and one girl who read this regularly and the one girl who reads when she gets a break from motherhood. And the occasional surfer that strolls in while searching for something weird!)

Hope all is well with you.

For me, things are good. Could be better though. Been really tied up with the whole making money peanuts, meeting people to open more doors thing. These two tasks, when you don't have a company's name to back you up, are very sapping. So sapping that you tend to question the futility of even attempting it. So tiring that you question the very meaning of hustle. And even the re-runs of motivational shit like Steve Jobs' speech at Stanford, Will Smith's interviews about laying bricks and outrunning people on tread mill and that classic commercial by Versus fail to encourage you.

Take last to last to last night for example. I had a few meetings during the day. One of them gives me the money that allows me to afford a place in Mumbai. The other was an interview with a TV producer who may use me as a writer on a new TV show (my first). The third was catching up with a friend. And then there was this insane and expensive, if I may, travel to reach all these meetings. By the time I reached home in the evening, I was sweating like a pig. I wanted to take a hot shower and remove all the sweat, grime, dust, filth, heat from my body. I put on the water heater, stripped naked and yet, I just did not have the energy to get in the shower. Next thing I know, it's 7 in the morning and I have this severe neck sprain - because I slept on a heap of books that I was supposed to read two weeks back.

More than these books that I should've read two weeks ago, there are a million things on my todo list that are pending forever. And the biggest and most important thing on that list? The startup that I want to do. That I am told is a billion dollar opportunity. Something that I know that the market needs. Something that can set me free for the rest of my life (in terms of money). Something that can help me make that ding that I so crave for. With each passing day where I am supposed to hustle AND work hard to back up the tall claims I make to my clients, the ding seems to be drifting away. Because the thing is that you can never predict the reaction of a client. Most tend to tell me that I do a good job and typically happy with what I deliver. But then I cant guarantee.

Yesterday was no different. Like I said, I had a few meetings. One went like a dream - I was unprepared but I sailed through. The other I thought I had worked hard on and I thought I had a winner and yet it bombed. Now I dont know how to evaluate what I do. Because I am at the mercy of my clients. And their shenanigans. And their moods when I present what I have worked on.
 Thanks to such freak incidents (that are now happening with such increasing frequency these days that) I am sort of detached with the my output. Compare it to a time where I was so anal about delivery of work that I would keep tweaking things till the time the keys dropped off from the damn keyboard. Even while presenting things, I would continue to make changes. People asked me the point of making changes once I've made a deck and I would respond that I want my conscious to know that I have put in super hard work and I've been meticulous. I HATE (in caps) it when someone gives me something that is substandard. I may not be great shakes but I just can NOT (in caps) do shoddy work. Could not I mean. And no, it doesn't mean that I do shoddy work now. It just means that I am detached from what I do. My work and I have become two different things.

Which brings to the next point. Who am I? If I don't want my work to define who I am, what am I? Who am I? Unlike most my friends who have fancy things to say when they meet people (Hey, I am ABC. I am the head of marketing at DEF. Or, Hey, I am a writer who's written the book that sold a million copies but no one read. Or, hey I am a Value Investor who likes to choose businesses that make a lot of money in long run), I have nothing to say. I just do NOT know what is the damn introduction. Or may be the damn thing on my epitaph. Epitaph? The stone that you put next to your grave when you die? Where you say things like, "here lies a man who served his country well and was around when his family needed him?"

That's something that I think about a lot. My epitaph. What would it say. May be something about my crazy love for #sgMS. But I am told love is a fad and you have new love interests every year. Or it could say that I made a ding in the universe. Or it could say I lived life on my terms. Or you know what it could say?

It could say, I was Missing In Action all the fucking time!

Hello monsoon!

The monsoon is almost here. It even drizzled for a bit last night. And from my vantage point of 9th floor staring into an open ground, the drops of water falling down from nothing but the dark sky, disappearing into nothing but the damp shrubs, leaving behind a trail of glowing streaks because of the yellow street lamps in the background, was pure magic. It was surreal. Like a scene out of a some famous director's movie.

It was a sight to behold and I could sit on my bed and stare at it forever, if only the rain dint stop within like 5 minutes. And if it dint bring back the memories of sgMS sitting next to me holding onto my hand, scribbling something on a yellow post-it note. Something that would be innocent, innocuous, so simple so insightful that it would make me smile. At her, at the way she writes, at the way she doodles, at the way she is at peace next to me. At the way she makes me feel.

Thing is, rains have always been very special to me. There is something magical about the grey skies, the purest green, the damp earth, the cool wind and the occasional splash of water on my face. So much so that I am willing to ignore the interruptions caused by rains in India. More on it some other day. In the meanwhile, here's something that I was reminded of...

from The Notebook

Will you?

I spot a recurring pattern in life. As readers of this blog, you must have noticed it as well. No?

That I play this game of hide and seek on the blog.

And if it's any consolation, I do it in real life as well.

There are phases when I have this spurt of activity where I get hyper active. I write almost everyday, think of ideas, get some exercise, do a lot of reading, talking, connecting and dreaming. I am in the zone. For days at stretch. I am in this Zen-like mode where nothing seems impossible and I want it all. And I work towards it. I am in the YOLO and FOMO mode and I say yes to everything. I overwork myself. To a point when I start cribbing about how overworked I am and how I don't have time to sleep. I do so till the time I start enjoying the pain. I am on this trip where pain becomes pleasure and I want more and more of it.

Till something happens and I snap out of it.

The "something" could be as large as the AC not working or as small as wrong signs from Universe. AC is large because I am the kinds that want everything in perfect order to keep me happy. So things like AC, relatives, visitors at home, Internet etc. bug me so much that I want to kill someone. Of course Universe-conspiring-to-give-me-gifts is important as well but I sincerely believe that I amongst the luckiest people. So I tide over that.

So till I snap out of the euphoria, I am getting things done. I am the king of the universe. But when I am out, I have this desperate urge need to crawl in a hole and wait for the winters to end. I sort of want to disappear. I cease all contact with the outside world (except my inner circle) and I don't want to be touched. I don't write, I don't tweet, I don't post updates on Facebook. I merely become a vegetable and try to exist. Of course if there's work, I have to live per shenanigans of clients. But I try to not accept work in such phases.

I know it sucks but this is probably that aspect of life that I cant change.

I know it sucks but that's how I am.

Of course I can blame it on my bipolarity. Or may be on the fact that I really really miss having sgMS around me. Or may be at the lack of direction that my life is flowing in. I can externalize the reasons but there's no one to blame but me and I will have to live with it.

The thing is, despite all that, as a friend, a reader, a patron, I will have to ask you, request you, implore you to allow me to live with it. Give me my space when I need. And hope that I come back stronger and higher.

Will you?

Couch Potato

You know how Homer is happy doing nothing but drooling?
Dear Homer, Thanks!
That! That's what I am up to. That's all I do the entire day.

I dont know what's wrong with me. I dont want to write, I dont want to read, I dont want to talk to people, I dont want to step out. I am happy sleeping on the sofa, eating Indian version of Doughnuts, drooling and doing nothing.

Of course this is not a permanent state. I am sure things would change and I will be back to the doing state. Till then...

#tnks for free?

Since #tnks is amongst the biggest things that I have done in life, I often talk about it to friends and strangers. And when I do that, invariably, I am expected to cough up a free, autographed copy of the book.

And ladies and gents, to put on record, it is pissing off!

I have nothing against signing the book. Or free copies. Just that I expect friends, acquaintances, clients, and colleagues to “buy” the book and help me! Free copies are meant for those who expect a favor (exchange, barter etc). And for those who are used to getting freebies (journalists, reviewers etc). Not friends!

You know when you “buy” a book, you contribute to the sales of the book. That pushes the book a tad higher in rankings. And that in turn pushes the publisher for the next print run. Both these things give immense confidence to writers, especially the first-timers like me. More than confidence, it makes the writer grow balls to work on the next one (if he’s in it for the long run, like I am!). And may be negotiate better terms with the publisher (who often is very cocky and is used to getting his way with authors). Or get an advance (which is unheard of, for non-celebrity authors). Or may be secure a larger print run (which is like a wet-dream on starry night). And so on and so forth.

The funny thing is that the book is really cheap. At a selling price of about 100 bucks, the book is probably cheaper than a coffee at your favorite coffee shop or a meal at a mediocre restaurant or a movie at the most rundown cinema hall or a piece of garment that you wont even wear the second time around. If you’re telling me that you can’t spend 100 bucks to support a friend, who’s trying chase the most cherished goal of his life, God help you! And your friendship. And the friend.

To be honest, the ones who ask for free copies are not to be blamed. There are a few things that we just don’t “get” culturally (as Indians). Like music. It has to be downloaded for free from songs.pk (or some other combination of songs and pk). Or dhaniya and pudhina that has to come for free with any subzi you may buy. Similarly we expect books to be free. Especially if they are written by friends. No?

In fact I was like you till about 2012! When Suds wrote The Lost Story, I asked him for a free copy and I refused to buy it, till Divya put some sense into me and ordered a copy on my behalf. Thanks Divya. I now know what you meant. And thanks Suds for not giving me a copy for free.

And to everyone who’s been asking for a free copy, you know, you can still buy the book. Its available on Amazon and Flipkart. And hopefully, at a bookstore near you. It’s still not on any bestseller list and every copy sold contributes to that. Which helps me as a writer.

Thank You,
Saurabh Garg
Author
, The Nidhi Kapoor Story

P.S.: And no, not everyone asked me for a free copy. Some friends did buy it. Some actually bought multiple copies and gave extra copies away to their friends. Ankit, Gaurav and Parijat even supported my crowdsourcing campaign to raise money for a promotion tour. Thank you guys. Your support means a lot. Onwards to my next book!

Repost from #tnks blog.

Dear RedBull,

Clicked sometime in 2013. As part of #100HappyDays. More pics here.
Dear RedBull,

Thank you.

Thank you for giving me wings. I dont know what I would do without you.

You are one of those few brands (businesses) that has never ever disappointed me. I love you for your consistent performance. You live up to the promise that you make. You are someone I can bank on. With your always on delivery, you have earned my faith. So much so that if you fuck up, I am willing to excuse you. After all, none of is God and everyone makes mistakes.

In fact when I take a class in marketing and branding, I often start with you (I have one before the class and in the class I start talking with your example)
From the deck I use in my branding class.
You know, you have seen me enjoying the best of times (Imperium at MDI, road trips with friends - Neo, sgMS and others), worst of times (the depressive phase of my bipolar disorder) and everything in between. You are the rock that has always been around when I've needed some support (just like Agony Aunt - VK08May).

I have often been unwell and I've just need one swig at you to get back to my feet. Today is a case in point. I was supposed to get up early in the morning (~6) and work on my next book. I did wake up but I could not get out of my bed. And when I finally got up, it was well after 10 and that depressive streak held me hostage all over again. Until I had a Red Bull. And after that, I did my 30 minutes of guitar practice, wrote some for my book, worked on a deck that has been pending forever. And did a few things that I have been delaying for a few days, for no reason.

In fact in the past as well, you have been instrumental in helping me do my work as an event manager. So much so that I could not work without you by my side. You are one of the 7 things that us event managers cant live without. Remember all those shows where you've rested on the console while I was assisting Suvi in running the shows? Remember how I ask him to shut up at times (despite his obvious seniority and more experience) and let me make the decisions? If not for you, I wont have had the balls to ask him to trust me and let me handle the situation! Trust me! 

More than just work, you have given me the strength to stay up at night and work on my book when Sachin had put me under scary deadlines. I hate him for that. And I love you for allowing me to sail over the deadlines. Of course the book hasn't made me famous or rich. But thank you for being there. Thank you for the help. Sachin, if you're reading this, you better not push me like this for next one.

And then there have been times when my ultra conservative folks have questioned if you were an alcoholic beverage. Because you are priced at a premium. And you had me seriously addicted. I had a tough time explaining to them that you were an "energy" drink and it was safe, as long as I consumed you in "moderation". Well, moderation is a subjective word. No?

Finally, the greatest part of my fandom is because of all the awesome marketing that you guys engage in. As a marketer and someone who wants to go down in history books as David and Leo, I have super amazing respect for your marketing methods. I mean who else could have thought of sending someone up in Stratosphere to jump! Or creating a damn racing team. Or those crazy things that you often cook up! I often tell people that if you want to learn marketing, all you need to do is look at how Red Bull goes about it and decode the method behind your madness.

You know, come to think of it, I owe a lot to you. And I ought to have Red Bull more often. Just that I am trying to be healthy. May be I can cut on Coke and binge on Red Bull when I crave for a beverage. May be. Let's see. 

More later. Till then,

Love,
Saurabh "high on Red Bull" Garg

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?