A day in Udvada

At a backlane in Udvada
Ever wanted to travel back in time?

You no longer have to wait for a mad scientist to work on a time machine. All you need to do is pack you bags, dump them in a car and drive about 200 odd KMs to this place called Udvada.

Once you reach there, you are sort of teleported to a different era where the buildings look as old as time itself. In fact the very concept of time seems to be a mirage as it moves so slow that you cant seem to notice the change.

Empty houses line up winding lanes that have more curves than they have on the mountains (except the lane in the pic on the left). Though the houses are replete with signs of life - the odd light bulb is hanging in the porch, the rooms beyond the porch are lit up, allowing light to escape through the tinted glass windows, the reclining chairs are placed strategically at an angle that allows you to gaze at the lane and yet keep you in shade and other such numerous things and yet, and yet you cant see a single person!

Except those two old Parsi uncles - an old man of about 70 and his father, who's may be 90 - that just gaze at other people pass by. Their gaze is as indifferent as if they were looking at a herd of goats clawing at patches of grass on the neighbors' land. May be we are all indeed goats in the larger scheme of things?

Anyhow, so, there is nothing much to do at Udvada except walk the lanes, click pictures, marvel at lavish houses, get astonished at the fact that such a peaceful, rustic, quaint place could house the holiest site for an influential religion. Because all other religious places tend to be a loud celebration of the religion, melee of confusion, dotted by scroungers hoping to find patrons and fat priests, hungrier than the beggars.

Oh I had to talk about this sooner. So, Udvada houses the Atash Behram (the holy fire temple for the Parsis) and is one of just eight such places in the whole of world. Apparently the fire's been burning since 1742 and is the oldest continuously burning fire in the world. The lore goes that the fire is a gathering of 16 types of fires and the Parsis go great lengths to preserve the sanctity of the fire. If you are not a Parsi, you can NOT go in. Tip: No, you cant bribe the guard. And no no no. You can NOT pose as a Parsi and go in to satiate your curiosity.

I am no expert on organized religion but its fascinating to see the extent people push themselves to be able to attach meaning to things that even the modern science has been unable to explain (for example, life and meaning of things).

At Udvada, apart from the holy fire, there is a rocky beach lined with dark soil that is not really inviting. Could be skipped, unless you love sunsets. Or sunrises. Or the number of likes that the photos you click get on Facebook and Twitter. Then there is this huge cricket ground and a football ground that could very well be among the most postcard-picture perfect grounds in the country. Tip: Click a nice one of the ground and you will get more than average likes!

There are a few restaurants that serve authentic Parsi food, which is a delight even to a vegetarian egg-etarian like me (in fact, I am told a Parsi takes his eggs very seriously and an egg is an important part of his cuisine). So do try to have at least one meal at either the Globe or the Ashishwang - we did not go to either - they did not really invite us in.

Not just the restaurants, I got stared down by a lot of other people while I was there. It could be my fault to have intruded in their private place or it could have been my looks. I am not sure but they definitely were not welcoming - which is not a great thing. I was initially confused about uncalled for, unprovoked unfriendly stares but once I got over the confusion and realized that most non-Parsis are greeted similarly, I was ok with it. I have been in more hostile situations and I've been trained to get over the nagging feeling. Tip: Do not enter a who-blinks-first. If however you do, please tell me of the outcome.
 
To defend the trip as a food-laden experience, we did stop at Atithi and at Ahura en route to Udvada and Mumbai respectively. Both the places have been recommend by Rocky and Mayur of HOMP fame. The egg-cutlet with Salli (potato sticks, grated fine and deep fried) was amazing and I'd never had anything like that ever. VG ate some dishes made with chicken and other animals and the dishes were apparently so delicious that we got them packed for our onward journey. I would've gone back to Atithi and Ahura if I were a foodie. Since these restaurants are commercial establishments, the waiters were nice to us and made the dining experience great, reinforcing my belief that economics is what moves the world! Tip, Google search for Atithi and Ahura before you set off. They are not too tough to miss while you are driving down the well-maintained highway.

To summarise, before I went to Udvada I had my doubts but thanks to VG, I went and I loved it. While I loved to walk through the town and soak in the scenes and smells and sounds and all that, I am not sure if I would want to live there. But I do wish I could go back there with a genuine, authentic Parsi some day and enjoy it like the insiders!

In terms of Experience, the trip was a 4 on 5.

In terms of Accessibility, I'd say 4 on 5. Once you cross the Thane Toll Naka, you are on a national highway (NH 8) and thus is a pretty smooth ride. You have to take a left from a certain point and then the road becomes a State Highway and starts reminding you of Goa. Trees line up the road and sunlight plays hide and seek with you as you drive down the narrow and yet well-laden road.

The Cost has to be a 3 on 5. Affordable. In all, we would've spent about 2000 bucks on fuel, 2000 bucks on eating and a 3000 rupee-a-night resort. Expensive but then, what else do you expect from two old men trying to escape discover life?

Signing off!
Saurabh Garg
31 Jan 2016

P.S.: I went to Udvada on the 23rd of this month with VG. Took me a few days to find time to be able to write this but I am glad I did. Also, I am trying my hands at serious travel writing. Do tell me how to improve. I know I need to add more photos - which I will, next trip on. What else can I improve?

Like a rolling stone...

I have this maniacal flip flop switch in my head. It gets triggered at odd hours that I cant seem to control. I could be in the middle of a gathering of some of my people and boom! it goes and I am lost for words. I want to get away from everyone and everything. At other times, I am dumped in one of the million miseries that shroud me and click it goes and I am happy. For no reason.

And this happens very often. There is no set pattern per se but it does happen. And unlike other miseries, it does not come with a warning. If there were warnings, I could be prepared. But no, there are no warnings.

I dont know if this is a known disorder but the pseudo-smart dude in me has deduced that I am probably suffering from a mild form of bipolar disease. I have spoken about it on this blog at least twice (one, two) in the past. A quick glance at the two posts tell me that nothing has changed. I am little better in terms of where I am going with life. But I am still not anywhere close to any source of eternal happiness.

So this flip flop switch remains a mystery to me. And because I have this desperate need for closure, I have to find an answer to it. I have tried everything short of getting professional help - I may do so if things continue to go like this. I have infact made a list of questions that I have about this. A not so comprehensive list would be...
  1. Am I the only to have these demons in my head? 
  2. Is there an end? Will I ever reach a state of bliss? Or I will have to succumb to alcohol, substance abuse and all that?
  3. How do I fix it? Do I need to find a job? Do I need to get married? Do I need an adventure? What the fuck do I need?
Any answers anyone? No? Well, Thank you!

Apart from this list, I have also told myself to start taking notes. For two things - the triggers for the switch and when / how of things that help me come out of it. Because once I know these two, I can get little more rational and predictable and genteel in my demeanor.

So, what causes it? There are no specific answers but the likely suspects are...
  1. The times when I wish sgMS was next to me. At a gathering of friends, at a new place that I travel to, when I do something big and other things that ought to be shared with someone special. And there is no one as special as she. 
  2. The times when I get rubbed the wrong way by people. This could be colleagues at work (I cant digest incompetence), strangers (talking to me rudely without a reason), friends and family (for no reason) et al. Of course in all the cases, I have to be at fault (I am the I am not ok, you are ok type). I have just too many things that limit me. I may need to get out of it. In fact, a friend says, that as a poor man, you can not be eccentric. Unless you are Roark
  3.  Incessant work meetings that dont have an end or a destination in sight. Agreed my entire life is like a meandering deer in an infinite pasture and a paper boat drifting aimlessly in a downward stream. But I dont understand how people who have worked for ages at fancy places with great people could be do indecisive. It sucks to see such incompetence running large companies. If they Elon could find a way to automate the decision making and take the onus off people, life would be so so much better. BTW, there is this entire debate about efficacy of mechanical, artificially intelligent decision making vs human judgement (judgement based on available data, experience and gut). I tend to lean on the human side but we ought to work towards making AI engines smarter. Ok, I digressed. 
  4. Inability to get things done. My work requires me to talk to a lot of people and I have lately realized that I suck at getting things done from other people. In the words of @Jason, I am Bob Dylan, not Rolling Stones. So, it could be my inability to get work done from people? Or my inability to understand their inability to comprehend simple things and do things? Arrghhh... am ranting! 
Cutting short the list. There are many more reasons but these were the things from the top of my head.

And how do I come out of it?
  • Often a session of music (by Lucky Ali, Rabbi, Dylan) helps - I love to drown the outside voice by blaring loud music in my ears. 
  • Other times a drive helps. But then my partner in crime is sort of moving up in life, I dont get to go on drives as much. May be if I could afford a car, I could go more often?
  • Writing helps. But I dont get into the flow most times when I am sad. Sometime I do. Like when I started writing this post, I was sad (even though there is no reason for being sad) and somehow as I write this, I can see the shroud lifting. Inshallah it does. I shall report at the end of the post if I am back to the normal self.  
  • It often helps if I eat something nice (classic symptom of depression). 
  • I try my hand at mindless work (like aligning objects on the latest powerpoint deck that I am working on) and it often helps. But I dont really have a lot of powerpoints to work on on most days. 
I cant think of more. And like the triggers, this list of antidotes is also from the top of my head. I probably need to list more such things. May be I will keep a track of things on my Evernote or something?

Good idea! It sounds like a plan and I shall take notes and report next time something changes substantially. Over n out.

Oh, one more thing. While I was ranting, the answer dawned on to me. From the philosopher and guide, Rabbi Shergill. He says and I quote..
jaddon na kujh agge disse tahiyon bandaa vekhe picche

Translates into, when you cant see whats up ahead, you tend to look back. So may be, just may be, my problem is that I look back too often? May be I need to have something to look up to?

What do you guys look up to?

P.S.: I think I am far better than what I was when I started writing this. So, thumbs up! 

P.P.S.: I have captured things that fuck up my mood. I need to capture things that elevate it as well.

Three scenes

Scene 1
A 33-year old man. Dressed in baggy denims, ripped at the knee on one side. Torn at the leg opening on the other. Linen shirt that needs ironing. Almost bald and a disheveled mop of hair on the crown of the head. An unkempt salt and pepper beard.

The guy tries to walk in to a swank building that has security guards from G4S. The building houses corporate offices of a few leading banks and other such businesses. And like any other "corporate park" the building also has a few fancy restaurants.

While the man attempts to walk in the building to meet a friend for lunch at the restaurant, he is singled out and is asked by the security guard about his intentions. And while this is happening, a few hundred characters, dressed in clothes ranging from three-piece suits in the muggy Mumbai weather to a dress that barely covered the woman's modesty to a worker who probably was engaged as a window-cleaner to everything in between walked past by. Without raising anyone's eyes or suspicions.

Back to the man. He calmly tells that he intends to goto one of the restaurants and the guards give him an incredulous look and want to frisk him.

Scene 2
A resident of a not-so-posh building is walking in to the lift lobby to go up to his home. The security guard at the entrance asks him to make an entry into the visitor's logbook. When the resident tells the guard that he lives in the building and he is not supposed to make an entry into the logbook, the guard frowns at him, scans him from top to bottom and asks him, how could he own / rent a place in the not-so-posh building.

Scene 3
A not-so-young man has matched with a very attractive lady on a dating app and he is all excited about meeting her. They meet up but the moment the lady sees him and his tattered clothes and his hair, she abruptly cuts the visit short and escapes by making an excuse.

There are more such scenes that I can recount. And the dude in all these three scenes is me. And all these things have happened to me in the course of last three few days.

My impressionable heart and mind refuses to come out of the shock. That the world I live in judges people on the basis of how they look. I mean I've always known that great looks can get you ahead in life, career and all that. But this is blatant discrimination. And its not nice to be on the receiving end. I now know the reason for all the anger and frustration of people who've faced discrimination on the basis of their color, race, skin, thoughts and so on and so forth.

While we talk of (in)tolerance and openness and all such things, I dont get that that the world treats me like an anomaly and I cant function like a normal human being! I mean we are nothing in the large scheme of things. No one knows the reason of life and all that. We will all die someday, leaving behind I dont know what and I dont know for whom. Whatever time we have here, why cant we be and let others be? Live and let live? There is just so much to do, so much to enjoy. There are so many miracles that we ought to enjoy, rather than staring at people who are different.

Dont believe me? Go get caught in the rain and tell me if it matters how someone is dressed!

Andy from Shawshank, in the rain.

Notes from Bandra - 1

Subject: Bandra seems alien to me. 

So its little over month since I moved to Bandra. Although so far I havent had the time to explore the area, I still go to a certain place everyday to go sleep. And when I wake up, I still have to walk a bit to get my rickshaw. Or train. Or whatever.

It is at these walks that I have discovered a bit of Bandra that I know of. The bit that makes me equipped enough to claim that Bandra is alien to me. The rational part of my brain tells me that it is very much a part of Mumbai, which in turn is a part of India. And India is home. Always will be. Unless something drastic happens. It also tells me that unlike all other places where I have lived, Bandra has the "most" foreign heritage (Portuguese and all that). So it is natural to be disconnected with things. But Bandra is as much a part of India as I am!

However, the emotional part of my brain revolts at the thought of Bandra as a part of me. Or me as a part of Bandra. I know I am not cool enough to be here. I love old world charms but I dont have what it takes to live in old, ill-maintained, cramped buildings. I love small alleys and nooks but I cant breathe in the filth that has been gathering for years. I have nothing against people who have pets at home but I cant get barked upon by a street dog that is fed by the locals. For some reason, I am not free here. I am restrained. And I love my freedom more than anything else and I want to guard it with as much gusto as I can. Bandra does not give me the freedom. Freedom of mind ladies and gents.

Thing is, while I love surprises and exploring and all that, I want things to be familiar at the place I live. If wanted alien-ity around me, I'd rather live out of a suitcase and adopt a nomadic lifestyle - which I will once I have the money. Damn contradictions!

Wait. What is alien? Something that you cant relate to. Something that is unexpected. Something that is not you. Something that you stop and take note.

I do all of the above as I walk the winding lanes in Bandra. While people speak the language I speak, they dress almost like I do, they almost eat what I eat but it seems like a foreign land to me. The roads are broken and yet fancy cars that are a far cry from Marutis zoom on them. There are hawkers and temples (and churches and mosques), both pimping their wares louder than the other. There are small boutique fancy restaurants competing with the Mumbai sandwich "chefs" on a stand for the palette. There are Indians who look like foreigners and foreigners trying to blend in. There is so much happening all around you that you are lost like a kid in wonderland. The way a traveler is lost in a foreign land. Alien land.

Oh Bandra, you are not for me!

When in doubt, you turn to the philosopher and guide Rabbi. On Bandra, he says, "Tu avin Bandra, Taenu sab pata chalega" - Come to Bandra, you'll know it all. May be these 9 months in Bandra will be spent on the journey within? May be its part of the evolution? Am I finally growing up? Or I am merely depressed?

Dont know. Dont care. Over to the next post.

Saurabh Garg,
Bandra,
22 Jan 2016

P.S.: Oh, by the way, as I write this, its is probably the best weather in Mumbai. Its windy and its pretty cold and it keeps the Mumbaikars indoors. So after the office hours, the roads are less crowded and less maddening. Last night I was at the Bandstand and I loved the cold winds from the ocean breaking on my face. The place that is teeming with people was deserted. And I loved sitting there and writing.

P.P.S.: No, I am not cribbing. I am merely observing things from a rational and emotional view point.

P.P.P.S.: As I write this post, it seems to me that I have lost my writing mojo. Words aren't flowing that easy. Its no long a pleasure to write. I havent seen my fingers dance on the keyboard lately. I have a tough time getting in the flow. I dont know who / what to blame. Lack of time? Lack of reading? Lack of motivation? Lack of what else? Whatever. I have to re-initiate work on #book2.

P.P.P.P.S.: Guess the need to belong is gnawing at me? Context? Read yesterday's post

Untitled - 2016/01

While I was walking back from a station today, I realised something really cool. That now that I am doing ok work-wise and money-wise and I may claim to be a little more stable now, rather than craving for more work, more money, more this or more that, I've been missing #sgMS a lot lately.

Ordinarily when you have work and you are busy, you tend to not have time for things like love. Compared to last year. I did not have too many things on my plate and yet I was ok without her.

Also, I've always been told that once you make your first lakh, you want to make 10 lakhs. And then you want to make 1-crore and then 10 crores and so on and so forth. I have been lucky to have made my first lakh (in savings), and yet I dont have the carrot of 10 hanging in front of me. Of course my ambition is to reach 1 crore in this year and I am committed to it, the first lakh did not make me stare at the 10-lakh number.

Coming back, so why do I crave for her?

May be because, because of all the work, I dont have time to engage in any useless fluff that takes up a lot of time (things like checking FB updates like a maniac, engaging the trolls, stalking the intelligent ones, pimping my book etc.). And thus I am focused on stuff that matter. Work. Her.

May be because, because of all the work, I am spending a lot of time in transit - so there are more rickshaws rides, trains (yes Mumbai local), taxis (not Ubers) and all that. And since I cant work in transit, or read, or do anything productive, I am drifted to her.

May be because I am older and wiser and I know what I want and what I dont? Like Steve says, the dots connect when you look back?

May be deep down, I somehow know that I can provide for her and I thus want to be with her? After all the biggest crib I have had with life all these years is that I was poor and she was not so poor. Not that I am now an equal, just that I am little more comfortable.

May be I am old and know that I have to settle down? (PS this is a change in stand. From a time when I was not willing to listen to even an argument about wedding, now I want her around. For good.

Anyhow, the point of the post is not her. Really. The point is, I realized today that while I am ambitious, I am not greedy. When I become big, I will not become an asshole. When I've made my first crore, I will chase more but I will not be motivated by the next milestone of 10 crores. I will chase more work and grow more and I will give back more (I have two interesting things lined up for this - will talk about them soon).

So, yeah. Thats about it. Of course this is a first-world problem and I am very lucky to have it. Hope the problem continues!

P.S.: Too much information?

By 2025

I just made a promise to myself. That by 2025, I would have climbed to the top of the Everest. Tall claim. But I will.

Everest!

Why a date in the first place? 
Vivek tells me that goals without dates are meaningless. And this cartoon by ZenPencils opened up my eyes. I had to put a date. And I couldn't think of anything else but a 10-year time frame to attempt it.

Why ten years? 
People tell me that it takes 18 months of preparation and 60 lakhs INR to give Everest a serious shot. 18 months to acclimatize the body and get to the required fitness level. 60 lakhs to pay the Sherpas and others (its an established business where you pay companies a certain sum and they ensure that you reach the summit).

So I need time to be able to earn that kind of money. And I need to provide for my family. And I need to fulfill my "reason" - the reason I was put here for. I refuse to believe that all this is just a big coincidence. May be it is - after all, everything will be dead in the long run, including Mother Earth. But I refuse to believe that. There has to be an explanation. Not too evolved spiritually but whatever little I know of, I have a reason and I need to find it in 10 years.

And yes, there is a big big chance that I may not come back. And hence the ten years. To live this life.

Why Everest?
Because it is probably the toughest thing to do, in terms of human endurance? Even if it is not the toughest, it is definitely the highest. And it may be commercialized and easy if you have the money and all that, it remains the highest point on Mother Earth. And I will go up there. By 2025.

Serious! 

Dear sgMS,

Dear sgMS,

I am back! Did you miss me? Of course not May be (this year, I am going to be ambitious, as a friend told another). Did I miss you? Hell yeah! No moment goes by when I dont think of you, about you, about the times we were together. And I wish those days could be back.

You know, as I write this when I wrote this, I am was at the international airport, taking a flight to Delhi. And because my domestic flight is from the international airport, I am surrounded by all these signs that point to all these fancy destinations and all these people going to all these fancy destinations. It suddenly dawned on me that I want to travel the world with you. I want to hold your hand while I am lost in those cramped alleys in Europe, when I am marveling at the national parks in the US, when I am lost on some highway somewhere in Australia, when I am up in the air heading to one of these fancy destinations, when I am scared to jump off the plane for my maiden skydive and so one and so forth. I want to click stupid selfies on top of the Eiffel tower. I want to sit on the benches on the river fronts. I want to laze at the airports. I want to listen to the music lying the hotel rooms. I want to be close to you in a crowded local train. I want to sneak in to your bed at some hostel while the floor creaks and wakes up everyone around. And I dont know how many more such things.

You know I want it all. And more. For the rest of my life.

Remember I wrote you a letter on our last trip? I know it was kind of long - it spilled over into 4 pages - and I had a hard time cutting it short. With you around, there is just so much to say. So much to do. So many memories to make. 

You know,  I want to grow old with you. I want to stuff a house with things that we may or may not need. A friend says most women are hoarders and like most women, you are too. I want to see you hoard all those things that I otherwise do not approve of. I want to live with you in a cosy house (I know you dont like lavish places) and I want us to frequent a cafe close to our place and do our things - you could doodle and I could play the guitar. I want us to argue over those simple silly things like giving my PIN to the waiter for punching my bill. I want you to yell at me for all my careless mistakes like leaving my card back at the restaurant. I want to fuck up the pronunciation of Parpal and February. I want you to correct me while I give you reasons for my wrong pronunciations. I want to do all those things that people do over their lifetimes.

Thing is, this is new to me. I have never imagined that I would be old. I know that I have missed the bus and I wont be richer or cooler or famous ever. I will at best be a typical mango man and I may get to drive a nice car and own a 2-and-a-half BHK in some far-off suburb in Mumbai but I will never be what I have wanted to be. But if somehow that makes you happy and content and peaceful, I think I am ok with it. I realize that I will not be forever young and I will be forgotten the next second I die. The thing thus is, while I am here, I want to be with you and make the most of my time here. That's all there is to life I think (selfish I know).

But this is about you. Not about me. So coming back, I want to be with you and grow old with you. I want to be around when you get those spects. I want to hide your spects and hold up two fingers and lie that I am holding up three. I want to pull your cheeks and scream googly woogly mush. I want you to cook something and make a face at you while you croon in horror and then laugh at you. Oh man, there is so much that I want to do with you..

You know what? I cant write no more. I miss you so bad it hurts!

I do!

Hope you come back.
SG

P.S.: I did not cheat on you. I promise I did not. Tere sar ki kasam.

2 days in Rajkot and around

I know listicles are a passe but there is something about em that makes em attractive. Attractive as in easy to write, east to comprehend, easy to share, easy to consume. Etc.

So as I write this, I am on a work trip to Rajkot. While I have seen fair bit of country in my job as an event manager, this is the first time I am here. Here are ten things I observed in/about Rajkot, in no particular order... 


1. The most famous thing to have happened to Rajkot is Cheteshwar Poojara - the cricket player. Apart from that there is hardly anything that Rajkot could plaster banners of. I mean there is some house where Gandhi grew up, there is some doll museum and so on and so froth. There is a whole list on Trip Advisor but none of the places listed there made me want to visit.

Even the statues in the city are of Jhansi ki Rani and Shivaji. I mean Shivaji and Jhansi ki Rani? There's no Veer Rajkot in their history?

2. The place is poor. While there was signs of prosperity like a branch of Standard Chartered Bank and a very own Rajkot Half Marathon, the city is poor. The super premium brands are missing. I saw just one BMW (that too X1) in my 100 odd KMs of travel of in / around Rajkot. One of the three malls dotting the city that I visited was in desperate need of maintenance. And there are just too many beggars. Even the rickshaw-wallahs fleece like nobody's business.

Compare it to places like Pune, Ludhiana, even Indore. I dont know if these are of the same size but those small towns, cities are far far ahead compared to Rajkot.

3. They dont know what is Red Bull. In my former avatar, I would have asked for Diet Coke but now that I am off cola, I tried my luck with Red Bull. I was amazed to see that they dont know of Red Bull. I thought their distribution was as good as Coke's.

4. Google rocks. At Rajkot while I vaguely understand the language and while most people can converse fairly well in Hindi, without Google, it would have been a pain in ass to get around. In fact, Google does not rock per se. Because without Google, I would have asked more people for direction. I would have been taken for more rides. I would have been subjected to more pressure. And as a result, I would have become more robust (remember AntiFragile)?

5. Everyone in Rajkot chews onto some local tobacco kind of thing. Its in the same territory as Gutka and Khaini. I tried it, tasted funny and I couldnt comprehend what pleasure do people get from it. May be the same pleasure that I got from binging on Diet Coke?

6. People drive like cunts in Rajkot. If someone is coming towards you on the wrong side of the road, rather than scampering away or giving them enough room to pass by, you will go head on into them. And then stare at them. Till they give up, back their vehicle through the mad jam that has been ensued by now. And when you do pass by them, you give them a glare.

Its this kind of useless aggression and ego-maniacal display that gets wars and battles started.

7. Continuing on traffic, people do not wear helmets. People do not wear seat belts. People drive the way they want to. Guess its a small-city thing. Most other small cities are similar.

8. Tea Post is, I think, Rajkot's answer to Starbucks and Cafe Coffee Day. In the limited time, I could see some 5 outlets of Tea Spot. And going by the number of people at each cafe, each time I passed it, I want to invest into it. Connect me to the founder please?

9. Loved the food options in Rajkot. I am not a foodie per se but I relish when / what I eat. While I was there I tried eating what locals would. And I was pleasantly surprised at the taste. I had this poha next to the hotel I was staying at. And then I asked a local for their favorite restaurant. They pointed me to Pankaj Restaurant and oh my god!

On this note, I think I need to make a pact with with Vivek that once in while we'd goto some obscure place and eat our hearts out. Much like Rocky and Mayur's highway on my plate.

10. Rajkot's economy works on core industry (not on farty things like software, ITES, retail etc). It is manufacturing. And it is huge. There is ceramics, auto ancillaries, automobile spares, cotton, stone and so on and so forth. Rajkot is the kind of place where I would love to put up a factory that makes something (and money) and keeps me busy throughout the day. And the same factory has a high roof that affords me a view of neverending landscape spread under a starry night, while I lie down, fold my hands under my head, prop my feet up on some lo stool, look up to the million patterns that the stars and cloud make and marvel at this wonder called life.

Inshallah some day!

Thats about it from Rajkot. Over and out.

The Balloon Guy

Today, about an hour back (about 10:30), I was walking around Bandra with a friend. We passed a dark alley and in the corner, behind the shadows was lurking a guy who was apparently selling Balloons. He was on a bicycle and there were some balloons hanging from the front of his bike. We looked at him and like every grown up who ignores things as playful and amateur as balloons, we moved on.

However, the man starting pleading to us, in low tones. He said something to the effect that he hadnt sold a single balloon in the day and he wont be able to buy himself dinner. Being a dilliwallah, I ignored his plea and was concerned for my friends' safety. I herded her away from that dark alley, into the bright light cast by the huge Starbucks signboard up ahead.

We found a rick for her and once I put her in a rick and was walking back, it struck me that the balloon guy must be working real hard to earn his living and it must have taken a lot of balls to be able to ask for alms. And he's probably worked hard all his life (selling balloons cant be easy), it must be even more tough for him to beg.

Left me wondering that we crave for things like houses and cars and we fight for things like God and idols of stone but we cant find a way to help people like that balloon wala make enough to feed his family. What's the point of it?

Of course I wont have answers to these issues that perplex the intelligentsia. But I know for sure that that it could be a great purpose in life. To be able to help others upgrade the lives they lead. And how would I do that? I dont know. But I shall find out. I have at least 33 more years to go. And I will work on increasing that as we go along.

Help me on it? Please?

Diet Coke Deprivation


So, officially its been one week that I haven't had a Diet Coke. Why am I subjecting myself to such a torture? Because I want to see if I can stay away from something that I love.

Enough of vanity. Coming back, its been 7 days without a Diet Coke and I have serious withdrawal syndromes! I miss holding onto an icy cold can. I miss seeing that drop of water run down the shiny surface of the slippery can. I miss that pop when I opened the can. I miss the tingling sensation on my tongue. I miss how it hurt my bad teeth. That reminds me that I need to see a dentist. I also want to see see a supermodel but that's a thing for another post, on another day.

More than these carnal pleasures, I miss the breaks that I took to go and buy the coke. Diet coke had become my escape. If I was in a longish meeting and I needed to get out, I would blame my coke addiction and step out. If I was mindfucked about something, I would go for a walk, to go buy a coke and shake those cobwebs away. I could stretch my legs. I could gather my thoughts. I could see the sidewalks. I could observe a lot by merely watching. I could chit chat with the shopkeepers. I could watch people.

A can of Diet Coke has been a companion to me through thick and thin. Through good and bad. Through pretty and ugly. At places as fancy as five-stars and as "downmarket" as a roadside chai tapri. Through my travels across the world. Through my hideouts in college. Through my escapes in parties. Through my long drives with Vivek. Through my short meetings with sgMS.

Diet Coke allowed me to find something to hold onto while the world around me was engaged into drunken revelries. Diet Coke allowed me the company of something predictable at unknown places. It was a reassuring sign in a lot of foreign lands. It was a way to open conversations with people. conversations at bars, at restaurants, at parties, at airport lounges, in the flights with the air-hostesses and co-travelers. In fact in most long flights most air-hostesses start knowing that I want a lot of coke and that breaks ice, literally!

Damn I miss it. All of it. Everything that my addiction to Coke stood for, I miss all of it!

There are very few people, things that I have allowed to come close. Coke is one such thing. I will probably lapse back to the use. But I shall stay away till end of 2016 for sure. Let's see I have what it takes to control my emotions. And while I am at it, I will probably take up the NOBNOM one of these days. Lets see!

Oh, if you spot me having any form of cola in 2016, you may claim Rs. 1000 from me. And I promise I will honour it. On the spot. But after I have had my coke.

What next?

The web for some reason is rife with "What next?" posts on Medium. I reckon some web celeb or entrepreneur kinds would have written his what next post and everyone else would have taken liberal "inspiration" from that post to create their own versions of What next. I dont want to miss out on the "trend." And thus, here is my What next.

So, life has been great so far. The last year was a mixed bag. I made my mistakes, I learnt my lessons, I played all I could and I did some interesting things. Its time I capitalize and go to the next level (wow I sound like a motivational speaker! Damn!).

For me, what next is pretty simple. I will build on top of what I have and take it up from there.

In no particular order (I have three components to how I look at things - work, personal and writing)...

Work
Next is to establish the event management business that got off to a great start in 2015. It is nothing out of the world and there are a million event agencies in the country but it allows me to do some great work, make the clients happy and pay my bills. Next is to get better at it. Next is to create processes that allow me to deliver better work at cheaper cost. Next is to create a team that allows me to expand. Next is to learn things and inculcate in how we work as a team. Next is to find someone who helps me grow faster than I have planned for. Do you think you want to partner up? I am on saurabh.garg@gmail.com.

Next is to create a marketing support services business that my clients (both of them) have been telling me to do. Apparently I am very good at being a marketing support services guy and I need to create an organization around it. Next is to think about it. Next is to find a way to integrate it with the events business.

Next is to continue the chase for that startup business that can change the world. I mean it. Change as in change. Like Uber has changed the way we use public transport. Like AirBnb changed how we holiday. Like Twitter has changed how I meet new people. Like Tinder has brought to surface the fabric of society we are in. Do you have an idea that we could work on together? I am on saurabh.garg@gmail.com.

Personal
Next it to get more social. Meet more people. Learn more. Do more. More more. More. I love it when I am learning. And the best way to learn is to do. I want to do more things. Even if I have to stretch myself thin. I will do so. One life. Next is to do more (rather than merely thinking), chew more (rather than eating more), write more (AND read more).

Next is to find avenues to help more people. Whatever limited understanding I have about myself, I realize that I am happy when I help others. I dont know if its my vanity or my ego or something else. But I am supremely happy when I am helping others. I may not be the best help that they get but I am definitely better than nothing. You may argue against it. But I think there's no harm and doing and then apologizing!

Next is to spend more time with my family and friends. I have ignored them for too long.

Next is to find love. Though I have missed the bus already with my age but I need to find love. For the next 33 years. Or may be more. I recently met someone who is punting that average human lifespan will cross 100 in the next 20 years. By that metric, I still have 67 years to go. Now thats a long long time. Lets come together and do wonderful things together :)

Writing
Next is finish Book2. And get it published. I am not sure if Grapevine will publish it (now that I have missed several deadlines). May be get a literary agent to help me? I dont know. But next for sure is to finish the book in this year quarter. I've got this year to a great start (this is the 4th post in 4 days) and I need to keep the momentum going.

Of course, I've been grounded all these 4 days and hence I've been able to write. Hopefully I'd continue to write even when I am traveling. Next few days should tell.

That's about it. For me, in one line, next is to end the year better than how I started it. What's next for you?

400072 to 400050

About a fortnight back, I moved from 400072 to 400050. And I have mixed emotions about it.

From - 400072
To start with, I am going out of my comfort zone. I lived there for close to three years. Life at Nahar was really awesome. Apart from a REALLY bad experience with a broker (Naveen / Anju Sharma from Good Homes Real Estate - if you are looking for a place in Nahar / Chandivali, please do NOT use their services. They WILL rip you), life was sorted while I was there. In fact, if I had all the money in the world and I had to live in Mumbai, I will not live anywhere else. May be I need to add this to my ever growing list of things to acquire.

Anyhow, thing with Nahar is that its like a cocoon in a big merciless city. It takes some effort to reach there and when you reach, it is so brilliant that you feel as if you've entered a wrap zone and teleported to a new world. Its green. Its quite. Its spacious. Its airy. Its clean. Its everything that you ever want from a place where you'd want to live. In fact, from my place, I could see a hillock and when it rained, I could see waterfalls. Oh, and I had a balcony, which in Mumbai is a blessing.

I could go on and on and on. It was a brilliant place! I will someday go back there.

To - 400050
At Bandra, on the other hand, life would be far tougher. Things will be unfamiliar and I wont be able to nod at people. I will have to find new comforts. I will have to re-create my life around how things are in Bandra.

But, the larger issue is that on a day to day basis, I will bump into people who are far richer, cooler, smarter, ambitious-er, hard-working-er than I. I would look at them and secretly compare myself to their toys and cringe about my inability to get my hands on them. Case in point? After working for almost 10 years after my MBA, I still havent been able to buy a car. And everyone else I know of has a more than two houses, 5 cars for a house that has like 2 and a half members. And since #in2016, I dont want to crib, I shall leave this rant here.

Also Bandra is far from clean. There are nice little pockets that look great. There is that occasional celeb spotting that happens. But on a day to to day basis, its not a place where I would want to live.

However now that I have made a decision to live here, I will have to live with it. And I need to make the most of my time while I here. So... if you live in / around Bandra and would want to catch up for coffee / drinks / something please do let me know. While I have varied interests, I can hold interesting conversations on startups, marketing, branding, poker, travel, writing and self-improvement.

Up for it? I am @saurabh on twitter.

Hits and Misses of 2015

Good, Bad! Hotlinked from here.
We are now officially into the second day of 2016. And its about time I did I am very late for the review of the year gone by. Not the kind of reviews that KRK has made a living with; but the kinds that make you think and reflect and want to fix things.

So here are key hits and misses of the year. In no particular order,

Misses
  • Spent less time at home. Lesser time with my parents. I need to spend more time with them #in2016. None of us is getting any younger anytime and have to make the most of time with them.
  • Got fired. From a freelance gig. I mean, can you beat that? And more than getting fired, I was told that I did not "bring anything to the table." May be I did not. I thought I was giving in everything but it wasn't enough. It sucks to be told that you are not good enough. #sgMS kept telling me that all the time. And then there's this. Anyhow, its a thing of past. And now that I think of it, I think it hurt so much because I took it on my ego I think. Whatever. I think I am over it. All the best to everyone involved!
  • After I quit my full-time job in Feb / Mar, three people from MDI gave me an opportunity to work on (paid) projects for them (or their companies). I promised things to them and they trusted me with briefs and I did not even get back to them. Despite my best intentions and effort I could not create anything for them that was worth their time or expectation. So I chose to hide. And no, in this business, reputation is everything. I can no longer do this. I will apologize to them. Pronto. And apologize to a startup that wanted to hire me but we could not reach a point of agreement.
  • Got an opportunity to write for TV. I did write a few episodes. But got fired! Not fired per se but I was told that what / how I write may not be suitable for TV. The producer and the creative director was really polite about the entire thing. Glad for the opportunity but I should've proved myself. And yes, I will give things another shot. I dont know when though.
  • Moved to Bandra. This is probably the biggest mistake I've made in a long long time. And I cant fix it till September of 2016. Cant do shit about it. Except wait. So I shall wait. Of course I've learned my lessons and I shall try and write a blogpost about it. Soon.
  • Book 2 should've hit the stands in 2015. But I am no where close to even finalizing the manuscript. I can blame it on my perpetual busy life but life is small and you ought to make the most of the time we have. No?
  • Broke heart of this amazing girl that I met on one of these dating apps. I did not intend to. It just happened. Its probably the worst thing I did in 2015. I dont know how to fix it :(. Any tips?
  • Lost money in a casino. At Macau and Singapore. At Macau, on the poker table, it was a mix of bad luck and pathetic play. At Singapore it was plain old stupid bad decision to play Roulette. 

Hits (again in no particular order)
  • I quit my full-time employment with Social Wavelength. They are a brilliant place to work and their brilliance has now been vindicated after the Mirum thing happened. However I had to row my own boat. I parted ways and its been one hell of a ride. The best part to come out of my stint at Social Wavelength was that I made a few friends while I was there. And I hope I will stay friends with them for rest of my life.
  • Initiated a Mastermind group with 8 other amazing people. We met regularly for about 6 months and then, haven't met since Diwali. But the monthly meetings were great learning opportunities. Hope to get them back on track #in2016.
  • Met Raj! Everytime I meet him, I realise how much I love him and in awe of him. May not get an opportunity to meet him again but what the heck - you cant meet your God all the time! 
  • Starting doing events on my own. Thanks to a friend who gave me confidence to be able to take the plunge. And thanks to agony aunt for giving me the opportunity. It was huge considering I did not want to do anything without with my ex-boss. But then he got busy and I got hungry. Rest, as they say, happened! 
  • Two really good friends (with their respective spouses) moved into their respective houses homes. The ones they've bought. Amazing because even though its been ten years since I did my MBA, I cant seem to buy a car and these people have bought houses worth crores.
  • Traveled to Nigeria and Singapore. Two new countries. In terms of the ones I've been to earlier, I made a couple of trips to Hong Kong and one to Macau. It feels as if I have been to more places but cant recall. So may be, those places are not important. Oh, and I have to find more opportunities to travel. I can not grow old and not have traveled!
  • A really good friend, the kinds bros call brother from another mother, got married. Now, from the MML gang, there's just Suds and I left. I reckon, I would be the last to get hitched. Lets see.
  • Met this girl in Delhi for work. I spent about an hour talking about work and all that. If I was not stuck on #sgMS and I was ok moving to Delhi, I would have asked her for shaadi. She has everything that I look for in a girl - talent, ambition, opinion, lust for travel, business sense etc. May be in next life. If PD says no in next life as well.
  • Decided that am done with Goa. I know I dont enjoy alcohol, or sea food, or parties or clubs. I do however like beaches and water and great ambiance. But every trip to Goa is mostly about drunker stupors, incessant eating, loud music and obnoxious taxi drivers. So I have decided that I am not doing anymore trips to Goa with friends. I will go there by myself, for work and with select set of people but I am done with Goa with friends. 
Thats about it for 2015. Pretty cool it was if you ask me. Though I hope I will make 2016 even more amazing. I am committed to take up my net worth to 10x the level it was in 2015. Help me reach there. You know where to reach me!
P.S.: Wrote these without referring to any notes or tweets or photos. The ones I can remember have to be important for me. No?

Notes2Self
  • I think of death often. It sucks that you learn so much and then one fine day you are gone! 
  • Though I want to get over #sgMS, she still is a large part of my life.
  • I am very emotional about what I do.
  • I need to stay in touch with all the people I know. I got a call from Renu Maam (Gravity) and I realized how much I miss these people.

How do I work?

In this long-ish post I talk about how I manage my increasingly complex work life. Thanks to Monica for prompting me to write this. And more importantly for all the follow-up.
 
So, for the context, I do three four things.
  • A, run an events agency; 
  • B, work as a freelance marketing / brand / digital consultant; 
  • C, actively seek start-up ideas. 
  • D, working on my second book (buy the first one here)
On top of these, I have a million active interests.

A small list will be writing (am a published author, working on my next one), travel (if I dont hit the road at least 3 times a month, I get hibbie jibbes) and meeting new people (takes me to weird places like Race Course -- where they denied me entry because I dont wear shoes -- and like five-star hotels -- where they ask me to furnish my credit card before I place an order -- and so on and so forth).

A long list will have things like trying to run a marathon (though I am unfit and fat), learning to play a guitar, create "interesting" experiments (read businesses with whatever limited money I have).

Now, whoever I talk to, they say, I am trying to do a lot. I know I am. And yet I want more. I want to juggle as many balls as I can and yet walk on a tight rope. It's one life. And I want to do it all. And I cant afford to drop any of these balls and I of course dont want to trip over the tight rope and plunge into the bottomless ravine that has an angry mountain river running through it.

Anyhow, I will talk about how I make sense of my day. The prerequisites for being able to read and make sense of this post are...
  1. Familiarity with cloud computing. In one line, cloud computing refers to software and data that "resides" on the Internet (distributed servers). Everything is "on the cloud" and you can manage without a hard disk on your computer. Think of Gmail. You can login to Gmail from anywhere, any computer and your mailbox looks the same. 
  2. #hashtags. If you spend time on twitter, you will know what are hash tags. Simply put, these are textual labels that you can append to any piece of text. Since these labels are often NOT common words, you can search for these labels and identify pieces of texts marked with these labels. Helps in putting things in context. You may use same hashtags (words, not links) across various tools to help you! To me, hashtags are as powerful an idea as sliced bread is.
Then, you will have to read the following pieces
  1. PG's Maker / Manager Schedules. In one line, he says that you need to split you days in two kinds - one where you "make" things and other where you "manage" things. Make is where you get real work done. Manage is when you are on the call and getting others to do things. Of course if you are the CEO kinds, you could be on the manage mode all day long!
  2. Mindmapping. Apparently created popularized by Tony Buzan, the technique allows you to store and retrieve information the way your brain does. This is one of the strongest techniques I know of.
  3. On the 7th day. A day in the week, I dont work at all!
    So the tools I use are
    1. Microsoft Excel (works for me as my todo list / scratch pad)
    2. Evernote (is an extension of my brain)
    3. E.ggtimer.com (helps me track time while I am working)
    4. Workflowy (my long todo list)
    5. Google Calendar (manage time, deadlines, meetings etc)
    6. Toggl (track time while I am working)
    7. iTunes + Headphones (get work done)
    Lemme take each in detail.

    1. Excel.
    So I have this excel workbook that I use as a scratch pad. Everytime I have my computer switched on, I have that sheet on. If I am on a call, I make a new sheet and put notes from the calls there. I used to do it on Evernote (especially the Evernote desktop plugin) but then my Evernote reached a point where I had way too many notes on it that I dont really need. So while I figure out the best way to do it, I use this excel sheet.

    Apart from using this as scratchpad, I also have this one workbook where I list things to be done. This is not my todo list per se but this helps me get a glimpse of all the things that I am supposed to do. You may want to use Trello for similar actions. In fact I know of a startup that uses Trello for exactly this purpose.
    Screencap of my excel sheet.

    Please do note the heading of today, work, people, misc tasks and most importantly, improve self. And yes, do note that long list of things that I need to do today. There are three columns of work because I did not want the columns to spill over than one screen. And to schedule these tasks, I put these in workflowy. I know there is redundancy in what I do to manage my life. But this seems to work for me and like all other creatures of habit, I am used to this now.

    So this is where my love with Excel ends. Oh, and the document resides on Google Drive. With the new version of office, you could sync files to Office 360 account anyway.

    2. Evernote
    I can not begin to tell you about the brilliance of a note-taking app. Especially Evernote. Evernote allows you to create, save and retrieve notes in a very intuitive desktop app, a very usage mobile phone app and a sucky online interface. The great part is that everything comes together without too many issues and I can use hashtags to sort things. Its like parking things in the brain and then forgetting about those. And then getting surprised as you stumble onto something totally unrelated while you are looking for something else (read serendipity). Its like outsourcing the archiving function of your brain.

    I love that I can save things on evernote and forget about forgetting. So I know that I have saved a note about all active VCs that are still funding non-IIT, non-IIM students. I may not recall the names but I know I can fire evernote and retrieve it.

    You know that thing about "things you know you know", "things you know you dont know" and "things you dont know you dont know"? Evernote is your companion for "things you know you know").

    I can NOT recommend an alternative for Evernote. If you want to take away two things from this blogpost, Evernote has to be the one. The second? I will come to it in a bit. Oh, and since Evernote went mad and starting charging for great features (email to evernote, offline access etc), I have been thinking of finding an alternative. Recently started using OneNote. Not enjoying it so far. Lets see where it goes. (If you are curious, for the transition, I am using OneNote exclusively for one big big project - so I am forced to fire if often as I work)

    3. E.ggtimer
    Its like a countdown clock app. There are thousands of these. You may pick any. I find E.ggtimer.com to be the best and easiest to use. I have dragged the link of a 25 minutes clock (http://e.ggtimer.com/25minutes) to my shortcuts bar. One click on it, I am taken to a screen that starts counting back from 25 minutes.

    Why 25 minutes? Studies after studies have shown that 25 minutes is an optimal time to reach / remain / deliver with your best concentration. And then apparently a 5-min break helps you recharge your attention and get back to more sessions of 25 minutes.

    Also, I can plan my life. I plan all tasks to last in either 25 minute bunches. Or in 5 minute bunches. So if I know that I have to get into a longish phone call, I know that that 30 minute slot is gone. If I want to do pee, I force a 5-minute time frame for it. If I have to respond to email and its going to be a one line reply, I can do it in 5 minutes. Or I can club all my emails and replies in a 25-min slot. And so on and so forth. Imagine that you have just two units of time. 5 minutes and 25 minutes. Everything else is no longer valid. In fact I would love to buy a watch that has 5-min and 25-min units on it.

    If 25 doesn't work for you, EggTimer allows you to choose your time windows. But trust me, 25 is optimal. Well, you may argue. But I think this is a philosophical thing. You want to have a discussion? Lets do it over a drink ;) Also, you may also want to read about Pomodoro. And Flow.

    4. WorkFlowy
    Remember I said that if you could take two things away from this piece, Evernote is one? Workflowy is the second. And come to think of it, there is a third as well. Come to that in a bit.

    So, before anything, love the way they market themselves. They say, "make lists, not war." Remember "Code is Poetry" on Wordpress / Automattic? Apart from make lists, workflowy, on their home page say that Slack was started with Workflowy, Twitter's co-founder uses Workflowy everyday and so on and so forth. As a guy who lives on the fringes of the tech industry, this is awesome. I mean how cool is that that you use the same tool as Ev?
    Screencap from Workflowy.com

    So, without further ado, Workflowy is an outlining tool that helps you make nested lists of things that you want to do. Think of it as a decision tree visualized as a list. Like trees, there are nodes and childs and you can collapse / expand, mark them as read, unread etc. You can't really set deadlines per se but I use hashtags to get things done. You can use it on your phone, you can use it on your laptop.

    Screencap from my Workflowy
    Anyway. I can extol the virtues of Workflowy for three days. Coming back, my workflowy has 4 key sections.
    • Todo - things that I need done. 
    • Life goals - things that interest me and I want to do something tangible with those. 
    • Projects - things that give me money.
    • Personal - things important to me. I have cropped those out.
    Each of these 4 can be expanded to show more items under that list. Once I finish things I strike them off. I can easily toggle view to see things that I have done already. Or are open.

    Using Workflowy, I have outlined by next book already (which is late by a year). I have a list of things that I want to work on. I have a list of people to pitch for work. I love how everything is contextual and comes together neatly. I love how its convenient to see things in one glace. Its like I am able to see the big picture and the details. And it suits my personality perfectly.

    Workflowy is brilliant. If I could also add dates in it, I could replace all my tools. But then Workflowy is expensive (I think 49 USD for a year). I got lucky to get free one-year subscription from an offer on AppSumo. And as someone who has hardly paid money for software, I am willing to renew the subscription!

    Also, do read Atul Gawande's Checklist Manifesto. Also, do read http://www.ducttapemarketing.com/blog/workflowy-to-keep-organized to know how other people use Workflowy.

    5. Google Calendar
    I do not know of a better calendar app than this. There are people who talk about Sunrise and Fantastical and I dont know what else. For some reason I haven't had the need to find an alternative. May be because I am averse to change? May be because I am comfortable operating out in the Google environment? Or may be I dont expect many frills from the app. I dont need directions, reminders and other integration. And may be I hardly use my "work" tools on phone. I need a laptop, a computer to operate.

    Side point: I know of many people who have moved / migrated to mobile for work (from creating pitch decks to making excel sheets to project management to calendars), I am still old school. I need a laptop for "work." Also, my mobile habits are very unlike most people I know of. I hardly watch video on my mobile (when I say hardly, I mean one / two videos a day), I dont use FB on my mobile. In fact the only apps I use on my phone are Google Maps, email, Firefox, WhatsApp, Twitter, Pocket, Uber, Tinder and Instagram. I dont read news on my phone, I dont check Facebook, I dont order food, I dont call a plumber, I dont book airline tickets. I am lazy.  No news, no Facebook, no food ordering apps, no airline tickets. I dont know the global average but I reckon my usage of my mobile device is skewed.
    Screencap from my gCal
    So back to Google Calendar. I am anal with its use and I plot and plan even dates with Tinder matches on the Calendar.

    Of course, for each thing (client 1, client 2, dates,  Cyntax etc.) I do, I have a separate calendar. It helps me keep things color coordinated and all that. I can also share tasks and deadlines with a specific set of people if I have separate calendars.

    Finally, the entries in the calendar help me reconcile the amount of work I have done for a specific client. Ideally I should be able to track costs and raise bills from within Google Calendar. But for a free software, it does a lot anyway.

    So, lemme talk about a tool that I have to use to maintain timesheets (and in future, raise bills as it has a billing module).

    6. Toggl.com
    I use Toggl to keep track of timesheets. Since I work for multiple clients in multiple organization and my billing is time based (rather than project based), I need a system to keep track of time I spend on something. Toggl is yet another Freemium cloud-based tool that gives me access to a large part of its functionality without paying any money.

    I have been toying with it over the last few months. Starting today, I will use it lot more often. Lets see how it goes.

    Just that if Toggl could incorporate features of an e.ggtimer.com, they would help me save more time!

    7. iTunes + Headphones
    While I love working out of coffee shops and love to have activity around me, there are times when I want to focus. Music helps me do that. No, not the white noise or meditation music or something like that. Good old regular Bollywood, Indipop and a bit of international selection does the trick for me.

    So that's it! Pretty simple and yet gets shit done for me! And here is something that Steve Jobs loved to say, and I remain committed to it... 


     I had to ship this. Thanks to Monica for pushing me to write this. Hope this helps. Hope this was worth the wait. In the spirit of making this a comprehensive post, some other tools that the world uses are...
    • Slack - For communication. I tried using it but it was a pain in ass to get more people use Slack for communication. It ended up becoming yet another messaging tool. So I stopped it. But I know a lot of people who cant live without Slack.
    • Feedly - All my news reading (of passive kind) from sources that I want to read news from happens via Feedly.
    • Dropbox - For files that I have to send to client. I dont use weTransfer or YouSendIt etc. Unless clients specifically ask for these.
    • Pocket - All the active reading (where someone recommends a link) happens over Pocket. I push links into Pocket queue and continue to read through when on the go. To me, there are two kinds of reading. Three actually. A- Pleasure - fiction, blogs of friends, twitter crushes, things like serial etc. B - Mandatory - news and other things that I have to read and see and listen to stay relevant in the world. C - Play - things that interest me and may or may not be relevant to my work. Things like which Diet regimen is better - Paleo or Keto or Lo Carb or Slow Carb or Vegan? You get the drift.
    • Producteev - Producteev is your todo list + calendar + project management all rolled into one. And that is what makes it so so powerful. You can further divide tasks into projects, add labels (read hashtags), allocate to people and share the links. I used Producteev a lot, before Workflowy. Not anymore. For reasons mentioned above. 
    That's all folks.

    In the end, thanks once again to Monica for the prompt and multiple reminders. And here are few standard disclaimers...
    • No animals were harmed in the making of this blogpost
    • If something works for me, does not mean that it will work for you. Use at your own risk
    • If you do end up using advice that I have dispensed here, please do share this with others
    • If this post is brilliant, please give me work. Drop me a line at saurabh.garg@gmail.com
    • If this is better than sex, please do drop me a line ;P
    • If you want me to write for your publication on productivity, I would be happy to do so, in exchange for a review of my book
    Disclaimer: Few links have my referral codes embedded into those. Trying this for the first time. Lets see if it works. Please do know that referral codes no NOT fuck around with your experience or pricing. Thanks!

    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?