Rich SG. Poor SG.

I am rich. At least in my mind.

And in my mind, like all rich people, I love to travel. I love to take afternoon naps. I like spending time in luxury. I don't have to go to an office. I can spend my time in chasing "higher" pursuits. Such as art, craft, thinking and creating new knowledge.

In real life however, I am merely rich in the way I consume technology. In terms of things I know. In terms of my dreams. I am also rich when it comes to the kind of conversations that I can hold (but do they feed you? No?). But I am rich. Filthy rich.

I am rich when it comes to visualizing. Isn't that what texts like Secret, NLP, Rich Dad, Poor Dad etc. say?


I am poor. In real life.

I don't know where would the next meal come from. Ok that was exaggeration. You may scratch that please. But I am poor in the sense that I don't have a car, I don't have a house, I don't have fancy clothes, I don't have power, I don't have respect. All those things that Kwan consists of, I don't have any of that. Kwan btw is Love, Respect, Community and Dollars.

I am so poor that I don't know where to go and work out of. Ever since I thought I could work for myself, I have been on the lookout for that perfect place that I could sit out and work out from. Despite my desperate attempts I haven't been able to find something.

Damn this life of poverty and limited means. Damn the world that made the concept of money and damn me that I am unable to do something about my situation.

P.S.: For the context, this rant came out of a combination of a lot of things that have been gnawing over my comfort for last few weeks. These are...
  • My decision to not work full time for someone else.
  • In the long run, an attempt to create something gives me location and financial independence. This means I can choose what I work on, when I work and how much I am paid for it. It's not easy, as I am discovering now. 
  • In the medium run, try and get paid enough to pay the bills for my family and me.
  • In the short term, my inability to find a cheap solution to my hunt for a place where I could sit and write / work. I am rich enough to have the quirks of not having a home office. And poor that I can't afford Starbucks and other such places.

I am unwell. And I hate it.

I am unwell. And I hate it.

I goto extreme lengths to ensure that I am not unwell. Because when I am unwell, I hate it. And I refuse to take medication. So it takes forever to heal get back to normal. Well, the only medication I trust is a can of Red Bull. Which in cases like headache is of no use to be honest. Last time I took a proper medication was in Jan of this year when blood started to trickle down my nose for no reason. The doctor prescribed a seven day course followed by a CT scan. I took meds for exactly two days and CT scan, well lol! Of course I take medication for my Lichen Planus. But that's homeopathy and it is yet to establish itself as science and medication.

Coming back, I am unwell and I hate it. I think I am saying this for the third time. Why would I risk repeating same thing over and over and over again? In a matter of 50 words? Because I mean it.

Lately, I've been falling sick with an alarming frequency. I don't know what to blame it on. Few things that could be wrong are…

  1. My old age (32 and past my half-life and prime)
  2. My mortal fear of old age
  3. The unnaturally big beer belly (despite the fact that I don't like beer. Or any other form of alcohol)
  4. My borderline, suspect case of diabetes (I am always thirty, I pee a lot and I am always drowsy)
  5. The lame attempts at polyphasic sleep (which in my opinion you just can't try if you live in India - there are far too many distractions and door bells to allow you to do that)
  6. The mandatory bouts of depression that every writer is supposed to suffer from (did you buy the book yet?)
  7. The anxiety about my unknown, uncertain future (in terms of personal, financial, writing etc)
  8. My craving for sgMS (I have spoken about this more than required) 
  9. My loneliness (it's prime-time on Valentine's day and all I am stuck indoors, flipping channels on TV)
  10. My general inability to focus on anything for more than 3 nanoseconds (ADD or ADHD - whatever sounds more exotic to you)
  11. My perpetual hunger even though I have eaten a few minutes back (yoga shastra says eating disorders have deeper connections - you eat a lot when you are insecure about something. The body wants to horde food, expecting a calamity in the near future. After all we are probably the best survival machines ever made. It's fascinating. Do read about evolution if you can)
  12. And I don't know what else

Whatever it is, it is not nice. And I don't know how to fix it. Where are those free hugs guys? 

Source: Unknown. 

A lesson in fashion and dressing up!

If you've seen me, you know that my fashion sense sucks. So much that you may not even want to let me stand next to you.

Repeated, desperate attempts by #sgMS, family, friends and others have gone in vain as I refuse to wear anything that is not comfortable. As a result, I am often the worst dressed in the room. I have this special superpower. I can walk into any store and pick the worst thing that they've ever sold. No wonder my wardrobe looks like a dump yard that has been neglected by the city and the people alike.

Plus I can't think if I am wearing shoes. Serious. It seems as if someone has put a claw on my thinking. May be my brain is in my toes? Quite likely, going by the way things are going for me professionally and personally.

So, there are times when in a gathering of 1000 people, all dressed in their wedding suits and sunday bests, I am the lone nut who's dressed in shorts, chappals (aka flip flops) and a loose comfortable teeshirt. Of course I stand out like a cockroach on a wedding cake (as Bukowski would say). As a result, I am singled out and I often get into trouble. So much so that I have stopped going to public gatherings. And, no, unlike what I've been blamed of, I don't crave for attention. I just need to be comfortable.

India is such a hot and humid place. Why would I want to cover my entire body with thick layers of cloth and sweat and make everyone uncomfortable around me? I'd rather air the body parts and keep it open. After all, my work must speak louder than how I dress. No?

Turns out, I was wrong. I am wrong. Whatever is the right usage of grammar.

How I dress is more important than how I work. I realized this yesterday when I had a meeting where I was pitching my services. My services. MY. SERVICES. As Saurabh Garg. For the first time in a long long time. As myself. Not as an employee of some other company. Nor as a representative of someone else.

Side note: All meetings prior to this, I have been part of a large contingent, headed by one of my bosses and more often than not we had worked with the client earlier. The clients thus knew of my capability the capability of the team that I represented. Life was easy and I could do what I wanted to.

Plus most of my work has been in advertising, events and travel. These businesses are considered "creative" and it is assumed that the practitioners of these disciplines don't dress up well. I mean think of all the advertising kinds that you know of. What do they dress up in? What do they wear? How often do you think they conform to what the world dresses up like? 

Plus what I do is nothing special or different. It's very similar to what a million others do. I am no one special. I thus must not expect any special privileges. Of course if I were an artist, I could have decided on what to wear and who to meet and all that. 

Plus other times when I have applied for a job, they have been in related industries and similar profiles. Plus they were looking at my experience and my CV. Here, the CV was me. Walking and talking. Live.  

Coming back. This was THE first time where I was unproven and the guy on the other side did not know of my reputation, the work I had done and so on and so forth. I thought I was going to get judged on the basis of what I present and how I present. I thought I had great ideas that were workable, cost effective and pretty cool. I mean if someone pitched those ideas to me, I would've been happy.

But, but, what I did not know is that how I looked like and what I looked like also mattered.

So even before the meeting started, the person who got me that meeting told me that I looked like shit and he would cancel the meeting if he could, because I look like shit. Set the tone for the meeting. All the pep-talk that I had given myself, all the self-talk that I subjected myself to, all the motivation, all the confidence I had, it just went down the drain. I could literally see it flowing it over my baggy jeans, leather "formal" chappals, unkept feet, to the drain.

Can't blame him. By introducing me, he was putting his reputation on the stake and the way I was dressed did not do justice to his introduction. The "client" was supposed to trust me with business and the way I looked apparently spoke about the trust.

I felt sorry for him. To have stuck his foot out and introduce me.
And for myself. To have broken his faith in sticking his foot out for me.

Learnt a lesson. Felt stupid about being so stubborn all my life. I thought I have identified a way of life that works for me and the world at large could either live with it. Or take a hike. The world just asked me to take a hike!

As I write. think about the incident, about 12 hours later, I feel defiant. How can I change who I am, just to earn a few rupees? I have enough and more in the bank. I define enough as enough to pay the bills for 18 months.

Wait. No! I don't have that kind of cash. I just have enough to last me till end of THIS month. Damn it! I AM poor and I need every penny that I can get. From anyone and for anything. And I am willing to sell my soul for it. A friend told me yesterday, there's nothing called selling half a soul. So there are no half measures. Either I sell out. Or I don't. I need to decide and choose.

The decision was pretty easy. At least it looked easy yesterday. Today, I am not so sure.

But, here is the change I am willing to make. An experiment that I am willing to do.

For when I have to meet people for work, I will dress up in something that is acceptable to the world and to me. I thought hard about it. The bare minimum the world expects is a clean pair of denims, a full-sleeves shirt (that I would roll up) and a pair of shoes. Since I am lazy and I don't understand fashion, I will dress up in predictable black shirts. Along with denims and loafers (the closet thing that can be called a shoe and yet offer the freedom to my feet).

Every time I have a meeting, I will wear those. I have to make a living and if it requires me to mould the way I am, I will. If the world can't accept black shirts and denims as formals, too bad. I will go back to a safe haven of a job and try and create something that makes people come to (rather than the other way around).

And when people come to me, I don't think it matters what I wear and how I wear. Does it? Ask Steve!
Oh, here's a caveat.

I'd do this for a few meetings. If they work out fine, I would better my wardrobe. But if those meetings don't convert into business, I will revet to my old style. Of course the meetings could go good or bad depending on multiple factors but I will assume that they went bad because I was uncomfortable (because I was dressed up and was wearing shoes).

Let's see how things go. Bring it on world!

P.S.: Want to know how meeting went? Ask me nicely and I may tell you.

I am in love!

Ladies and gentlemen, boys and girls and children of all ages, here is a grand announcement.

I am in love! I. AM. IN. LOVE!

With Frances. Of the Frances Ha fame. I will get to her in a minute. In the meanwhile, let me get a couple of disclosures out of the way.

a. I am FINALLY over sgMS. Long story. For a different day. But, I am back to being on the lookout for that perfect love. If there is something like that. The romantic is me (who has this never-ending zest for life) would want to believe that there is. The pragmatic in me (who stares at a balding old man in the mirror, growing older by the day, every morning while cleaning my teeth) says it's a myth. I'd let time decide. 

b. I don't watch movies unless something is really really recommended or I get amazing company. So when Prateek recommended Frances Ha, I was slightly skeptic. But Prateek is a master at people watching and he knows how to read people bette than anyone else I know. If he recommends something, I take it very seriously. So I had to watch it. 

Coming back to Frances.

I am in love! I am saying this for I don't know, a hundredth time. And I can say it a 100 more times if I have to. Because I am. I could not imagine that someone like Frances could actually exist. Even if she is a figment of imagination of a film maker.

She is everything that I ever want to be. She is a little mad, a little quirky, a little creative, a little jealous of her best friend, a little lost, a little human, a little cool, a little interesting, a little mysterious, a little impulsive, a little wanderlust, a little this and a little that. But, but, she is super super adorable. The kind I could live my life with. The kind that would make life worth living. The kind that would make me want to plan for elaborate surprises.

To be honest, to stumble on someone as great is no mean feat. Especially when it's coming on the back of an on-off relationship with probably the best thing (apologies to the feminists for objectifying her) God ever made, #sgMS.

So in the movie, Frances is this not so young woman who is on a perpetual look out for the love of her life, little sunshine, some money to be able to have a place of her own and her identity. The hunt takes her to interesting places, throws her in interesting parties, makes her bump into interesting people and takes her to oddball jobs. The movie follows her adventure as she finds her way through life. Through tribulations, sorrows, drunken night outs and awkward dates.

She says, "I like things that look like mistakes." And a man around her says that she's "undatable." Would you not fall for a woman like that? You know that feeling? When you meet someone and you know that she is PERFECT for you!

Let me change tracks and talk about myself here for a second now. I have no shame or guilt in admitting that I am undatable as well. And I am lost. And I want a place of my own and I want my own identity. And I want money. Lots of it. Having made a list of all these things I want, I still don't know what I really want. I refuse to stick to one job yet I believe that I am great at whatever task I take up.

Do you see where I am going with this? Don't you think I ought to get a Frances in my life to share my highs and lows with? So, here is the million dollar question. Would you want to be my Frances? You want to make a mistake? And do you like things that look like mistakes? I promise I would stick around. I tend to. Find me on FB, Twitter and other places. Give me a sign. If there's one thing I have done right, it is that I have made myself very easy to find - on the web. The code word when you do it is, like Frances would mockingly say, "Ahoy Sexy!"

P.S.: Thanks Prateek for recommending the movie. You very well knew that I don't watch movies but I did see this one and did I love it? Hell yeah!

P.P.S.: The love thing with Frances? It was not that love-in-first-sight kind of love. I am too old for that. She grew on me. I was confused in the beginning about my feelings for her but when she finally reached Paris in the movie and had that conversation with her friend, I had my aha moment. You have to watch the movie.

10 things I learned after #tnks happened

Buy my book here
If you live under a stone, you would have missed the big thing I did last year - publish a book! More about it is at Do check it out.

So its been two months since the book came out and here is a list of 10 things that I learnt. The hard way.
  1. Unlike what you want to believe, the world does not stop going around because you've written a book. There are far too many authors and farer tooer manyer books in the world. And no, no one wants to know when your next book is going to come out. Even if you've booked a domain name for it a year in advance. 
  2. People don't mob you asking for your autograph. In fact they don't even know you. When you tell them that you're a published author, they go "uh huh… so?" and you don't have an answer. 
  3. When people actually do stop to talk to you about books, more often than not they are not they are not curious about yours. Or you. They want to know if you've had any tryst with Chetans or Amishs of the world. 
  4. If the book does not sell, the only person to blame is you. No one else. Your book is your priority. No one else's. Not even if they are your publisher, your editor, your mother, your friend, your agent. You and you alone are responsible. Even if you get a tiny percentage as royalty. No wonder they say that writing is the loneliest profession in the world. 
  5. You know what is lonelier than writing a book? Marketing it. Marketing your book is like pimping yourself. It's like selling your soul. It is very similar to job hunting. Or trying to find someone to date. For each of these, you are supposed to sell yourself. You are supposed to extol the virtues (that may or may not be your strong suit). And you are supposed to hide your vices. You do it once, it's awkward. You do it twice, it's soul-stirring. You do it more than that, you start considering yourself as the greatest loser (well, sorest loser) to have walked on Mother Earth. Ever. Funny that all first-time writers (well, most) do this and seem totally ok with it. I, on the other hand am not. Why? Any shrinks reading this? 
  6. If you somehow get over the innate shyness to make enough noise about your book in this world full of clutter, do not expect it to catapult you to fame and success and money and interviews and matrimonial proposals and movie offers and other such things. It takes forever to gain traction with your book. Historians estimate that Birbal could cook his khichidi faster. 
  7. The book is not a way to live a life free from a job. Most authors have to maintain a full-time job. Why do people even want to write books when they know that it hardly pays (baring a few great ones like Chetan and Amish). So, the dreams you had of quitting your job after you wrote your book? Let em be in that fuzzy dreamy state for a few more years. May be few decades. Or, may be marry a woman who takes up the challenge to earn bread for family and allows you to be a stay-at-home writer. It would be so cool actually! If you know of any single, career-oriented women looking to settle down with a happy-go-lucky guy, please point them to me. Apart from being bald, overweight and slightly on the older side, I am perfect! References available. On request. 
  8. Oh, there are side effects of being a writer. You think so much that you lose hair (ok, I made that up to cover for my bald head). But you do put on weight because all you do the entire day, is write. You type, type, recover crashed hard disk, write some more and then hope like hell that some publisher likes it. So you put on weight. And you become boring because you don't have time to step out and enjoy parties and all that. People around you start dismissing you as a boring recluse that is lost in his stories all the time. Well, people are often right. Case in point? Your's truly. Wait a minute. What does "your's truly" even mean? Who invented it? Is it one of those Indian-English inventions? Must be. Moving on...
  9. You inadvertently become a grammar nazi. Even though you are an Indian and your introduction sounds like "myself Sunder Srivastava," and your grammar skills are sketchy at best, you tend to think of yourself as custodian of lingua britannica. And every time you see or hear or come across someone who makes a typo or a mistake (was vs were, you're vs your, its vs it's, ok vs okay, et al) you take it as personal offense. You want to castrate that person, you want to pack that person off to Bangladesh or any other fourth-world country. Of course your first book has so many typos and grammatical errors that you could be banned from using English language for the rest of your seven lives. Classic case in point of mediocre yet arrogant attitude, hypocrisy and delhiwallah-showoff attitude. 
  10. You get a lesson in humility. To be honest, you don't really want it. It just happens. You actually want to become that arrogant prick that gives hard time to everyone around him all the time. But you realize you can't. Because to be arrogant, you need to have some substance that the world would tolerate your shenanigans for. The book you thought that was your gift to the mankind, the best thing to have happened since the advent of the printing press, a knight in the shining armor for that generation that is bored of those predictable stories, gets lukewarm response. And you automatically become humble. So humble that you are often found knocking at unknown doors, hoping to slip in a word about your book at those places. Oh, do you know of some places where I can talk about my book? 
Thats 10 things. Of course I learnt way more than 10 things. These ten were the most nagging of em all. Someday, time permitting, I plan to write an entire book about the process of writing a book so that you may go write your book! Yeah, a book about how to write a book. Like a recursive function. Like a feedback loop. Like a robot that can reproduce. I am not kidding.

Lemme know if you would want to read it. I will make it available for free if there are enough requests. Until then, please buy my book!

P.S.: If you find any typos in this, any grammar mistakes in this, please do let me know. Will you? 

Dear 4E on 6E 462

Dear 4E on 6E 462,

First things first, this must be the 234th (or 287th) flight that I have taken in last five or so years. No I am not exaggerating. Neither am I showing off. I am just putting things in perspective.

Second, you may want to classify me as yet another delhiwallah - the concept of which is flawed in the first place itself. But trust me, unlike popular perception, the average Joe Amit walking down the streets in Delhi is not a pervert. He respects women. He knows his boundaries. He knows where to stop. He knows that there is life beyond merely ogling at women. He has dreams. He has aspirations. He has other things on the agenda.

Of course you wouldn't take my word for this. If you would, why would you be so uncomfortable sitting next to me? I promise I checked for BO and I was not stinking. I even asked an aspiring author who had come to meet at the airport about it. And he seemed nonplussed by my question.

Third, you are gorgeous. You looked great. I am serious. You have to be one of the most good-looking women I've ever had the fortune of sitting next to. Not just at 35000 feet but anywhere. Except when I've sat next to sgMS. But no so good looking that I forget who I am and make uncalled for advances at you. I know better than that. I do. Trust me on this. If not for your antics, I would've never even looked in your direction even once.

So, now with all these things out of the way, dear 4E, pray answer one simple question. The question has given me sleepless night last night and most of the day today. I am confused, I have never seen such a behavior from any other co-passenger in any of the flights that I've taken in my life. The question is… Why dear 4E would you contort your face, snort, shiver every two seconds? And then look at me with those accusatory eyes every third second? What did I do?

At first I thought may be 4F was troubling you. But the dude on the other side obviously a first timer and he was busy taking pictures from his window seat. That couldn't have made you react like that. Or may be it could. You looked like a rich woman and in your world, flying could be a privilege reserved for a select few only. I don't know. Just speculating you know.

Plus, modern planes, especially in India and in coach class are classic example of cramped spaces. You must be used to your large mansions but some amount of discomfort is expected when you fly. No?

Thank God that your discomfort was not evident enough for the air hostesses to take note of. If they noticed, they would've reported me for sure. And I, the poor bald old man from Delhi wouldn't have had anywhere to go. I am scared of heights and my pics being taken and splashed all over the Facebook.

When I realized that my presence was THE thing that was bothering you, I tried faking sleep, I tried to write, I tried to read and I even went to the loo twice, hoping that my absence would give you some sort of peace.

But no; Everytime I came back to 4D, you would shrug and then look at me. You know such things can scar people for life?

Thankfully I was wearing a pair of denims and a nice shirt. If I were in my regular flying attire - shorts and an old tattered tee-shirt - you would've definitely asked them to change your seat. Come to think of it, that's a good idea. I must dress like that when I fly. There's a higher probability that I'd fly in peace! I'd do it next time on. And when I do that, I hope I don't meet you again onboard a plane. Actually not just on 6E, not on 9W, not on the ground. Not anywhere else.

I don't want to meet you ever again. All the best to your beauty and your issues with people like me. To the day I die, I would be bothered about your issues with me. I am willing to tolerate more sleepless nights but I am not willing to meet you again. Ever.

Happy flying.

Love Regards,
The bald man on 4D

This is the first in a series of blogposts that I plan to write every time I take a flight.

Why would I do so? Because I love writing. And I love flying. And I love watching people when they're flying - for some reason flying brings out the best (or may be worst) in them. And there is something or the other that happens every time I fly. Like one time, I was in this long queue and I had less than 2 minutes left to check-in. Wait… that's a story for a different time. 

Don't try this at home!

There are a few things that I take REALLY serious. Really as in Caps-Locked real. Things that I can't compromise on; ever. Things that shouldn't change irrespective of what market research suggests, consumers demand or the world craves for. You must not touch them or change them. Things that are not just things but are lifestyle, a way of life. Like Master Shifu, like Miyagi San, like Micky (Goldmill). Like a drive down a coastal road, like going all-in pre-flop, like a bungee jump. Like writing, like talking, like music.

Get the drift?

So, one such thing is a outing at the McDonald's in India. It's something that has to be as sacrosanct as hole-in-one, Sachin's straight drive and Lucky Ali's music. Something that must not change ever. Something that should be around even 50 years from now. Something that you can count on. Something that you could pass on to your kids. Something that you could reminisce about on a balmy winter afternoon on a hill station.

Food at McDonald's is as comfort as a food could be. Where else would you find the perfect mix of dough and potato, deep-fried till it's golden brown, so crisp that you can hear the crunch a million miles away, available at throwaway prices, at outlets that are more often than not a stone's throw away from where you are?

I have downed innumerable sorrows along with those crispy fries. I have slithered away my darkest and deepest blues with those McAloo burgers. I have told myself that Protein is good for me and ate Egg Wraps three at a time. And the days when I had coke, Diet coke and other variants, I think I would have contributed more than a million liters to the bottom-line. No kidding.

It's so sacrosanct that the day they change the menu and remove McAloo Tikki Burger or the Pizza McPuff from their menu, I will personally burn down every outlet. And at the speed at which they are mushrooming, I know it would be a Herculean task but I am up for it.

In the meanwhile, talking of all this has made me crave for more McDonald's. Lemme go find some.

Oh, if someone from McDonald's is reading this, please know that your service standards in Bangalore suck. You may want to replace your training and QC staff. If I were you, I would.

P.S.: In case you did not notice, I maintained complete radio internet silence for almost a week. And it was therapeutic. There was no deluge of tweets, Facebook notifications, emails, updates from I don't know how many websites to overwhelm me with. And you know what? I thought I would miss my digital addiction. I did for a couple of days. But after that it was ok. I am back online and I don't have any more craving for digital connectivity. I like this new life where I spend time in the moment.

Do try it (at home).

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?