Book 2. Zinda Hai.

For a millionth time, today I started working on #book2. Its been pending for a long time and while nothing has changed, there have been a few triggers.

Here's a list.

a. A friend thought that I am suicidal and sent me a copy of The Myth of Sisyphus.

I am not sure if I am / was suicidal or not but after I read the first 3 pages I felt that life was absurd and I ought to end it. Also, I recently moved to an Android phone (which is a suicide in itself) and I have spent last three hours searching for the Blue Whale.

But since a friend gifted the book and I had to respect the 250 bucks he spent on it, I went online and saw this video (that summarized the book in 7 minutes and took me closer to suicide). The video talked about how we must find pleasure in misery and why its absurd to even think of suicide. It did talk of more things but I am sure if I could comprehend it. So, left it at that.

Here's a tip. Avoid the fucking book at all costs. And if you want to read a book that prevents from you committing suicide, do read Reasons to Stay Alive. I read it when I was not suicidal and it was one of the best reads ever.

But then coming back to the context, book2, somewhere while I was either reading the book or watching the video, I felt that I ought to write. Ergo.

b. I read this piece on BBC where they try and postulate who will be remembered after a 1000 years after they are gone.

Thing is, I've never known if I want fame or whatever but I would love to be known 1000 years after I am gone. And the article says that either I need to become a famous villain or die a famous death. I cant control how I'd die but I can create a villain that is more villainous than anyone ever alive? Et tu, Brute?

And to be able to create a Brutus, a Joker, I need to write!

c. Pochu Prasad. Poch was my roommate at MDI. It was his daughter's birthday recently and when I messaged him after 3 years (thinking that its a good pretext to text long lost friends on their kids' birthdays), the first thing he asked was, "when's the next book coming out."

After I abused him and all that it left me thinking. That my identity is now of someone who's written a book. And while I am not a one-hit wonder (book was NOT a hit), may be there's something there!

d. Parijat sent me this.

This is screenshot of Syd's book and it reminded me that writing is my personal responsibility. And its high time I worked on it. I can cry about lack of a silver spoon us my ass but I do have a tiny gift with whatever I write. I ought to use it. No?

e. A discussion with a colleague reminded me that I am insignificant and for 35 years of my life, I have shit to show for. More than anything else, I am offended by it and I take it as a personal insult. And I will damn prove the dude wrong. I will achieve something large in my life. Of course I will continue to chase my ambition of climbing the Mt. Everest, impacting a billion lives and making a billion dollars in the process. But I will do well with my writing. You guys wait and watch. Ego makes you do funny things man.

So yeah. That's about it. More on this later. Right now I have a book to write. And you may want to order the first one here.

Post-Bangalore post-mortem post

I am just back from Bangalore. I was there for putting up a show for a client at Excon 2017 and since its a 7-day exhibition, I thought that I will do a million things while I am in Bangalore. The top few included...

  • meeting friends and almost friends
  • making new friends
  • exploring the city 
  • click some pics
  • work with a friend on a book 
  • work on my next book 
  • eat properly and get fitter
And so on and so forth.

Guess how many of these did I do? 


And why did I do nothing while I was there? No, time is not the culprit. After 7:30 / 8 most days, I had the rest of the evening and night to myself. And the reporting time the next day was at 8. And since I was leading the tram, I could actually come in by 9. So I had 12 hours each day to do all the things that I've listed above. But I could not. 

Here's a list of reasons. 

1. Bad planning. 
For starters, I was put up in a hotel that was in the middle of nowhere (about 20 KMs away from Bangalore). And most people I had to meet were reluctant to travel all the way. 

Two things from this. 
  • A, become so good, so valuable that people are willing to go through large quantums (quantum but added an s for effect) of trouble to get a sliver of time from you. 
  • B, Plan well. For example, when you know that you are in a city that you know is notorious for traffic, try to be at a place that is accessible. 

2. Energy. 
By the time I spent 12 hours at the exhibition, I was so sapped that all I could do is sleep. And snore. And then drag yourself to work the next day. 

Can this be fixed? Yes. I can work on my health and ensure that if I am up, I am full of energy. Most times I am but lot of times I am not. And I need to fix it. Health HAS to be the number 1 goal #in2018.

3. Team. 
I am in the process of creating a team, a set of people that are aligned to the purpose that we as a group are supposed to serve. And deliver. That of entertaining the world in such amazing manner that it inspires others. 

Now, to do so, I don't need people who work for a salary. I don't need people that stick on a list of holidays on their whiteboards. I need marshals that are aligned to the mission. And if not aligned well to the mission, then at least a part of their personal missions has to get delivered if they work with me and others.

Right now I have a few people that I think are in the zone. I need more. Are you the kinds? Help me. I am on 9819981337 /

4. My working style. 
I get super emotional about my work. I want everything to work with clockwork precision. I want robots that stand as long as it is required. I want machines to not overheat, to remain intact, to perform to the capacity and never burn out. 

While its possible most times, I know its tough to expect this all the time. After all there is a huge element of technology and people dependence. While you take every care to ensure that things don't go wrong (get the best crew, get the best material etc etc) there are times when you cant control things. 

And when things go out of control, I get unnecessarily harsh at people. I am rude to the point that I am amazed at myself. Reminds of that experiment where they made ordinary people cruel by giving them a role of a jailer. 

At this exhibition, I was the jailer and because I thought people were slacking, I fought with no less than 10 people. This included my team, my outsourced staff, other agencies that were working there and other people at random. I continue to believe that I was right in fucking their happiness but may be I was wrong. After all 10 people cant be wrong. No? Whatever it was, I know it has to change. I need to work on it or I will not reach anywhere.

The event otherwise as perfect. Apart from one time when the band was to play and the mics' cable came out loose. Of course we checked it right before the show but if a cable has to come out, it will come out. Wish I could ensure that as well. 

5. Raison d'ĂȘtre
So, why do we work? For love! 

Why do I talk about this? At the exhibition, I repeatedly saw people work for money. And not for love. And to save money, I saw people do things that they would otherwise not do. And that's not cool. I believe that money is important. But the mission has to be larger than just a hefty bank balance. 

I am the kinds that is ok to lose money to deliver a great job. Of course for a client that gives me the freedom to do things. The idea is, we must be able to do great work and charge the money that will make us happy. And find clients that are willing to pay the kind of money we want, to allow us to do great work! Its a vicious circle but I am sure we can find an opening. 

6. The silver lining
During the event, at one of the conversations that I had with the client (PV) on the side was about life purpose and all that. I realised that my life's purpose is to entertain people and do it so well that I become an inspiration to others. And in the process, grow as a human being. And then use the money I've made to inspire others. Its still shorter than making a dent in the universe (like Steve) or trying to save the humanity (like Elon) but its something larger than myself. And worth chasing. 

See this slide (from my companies' creds deck).

C4E's masterplan

I just need to work on it. 

7. Exit stage left
When the thing ended, I was out of there in 5 minutes. I did not say my good byes. I did not hang out to chill with the team. I did not want to get a group pic clicked (but I had to). I dint go out to grab a beer or something. DS tells me that its not cool. And I agree. 

But the thing is, I hate to say goodbye. 

And then there is post-event depression that hits you so hard that you don't know what happened. DS said it best when he said that a minute before the show ends, you are the master and you control lives and times of the crew and the event. And right after the event is over, you are nobody. It sucks. Thing is, I get super emotional about what I do. SC says that once an event is over and you get into a flight (or a car), you move on. To the next event. Or the next thing. Like, I shouldn't be writing this post but focusing on what will the next one be like. 

And third, I feel that once I have delivered what I was supposed to deliver, I can take off and die in my misery of an event getting over. Or I can go and sleep. Or do whatever. I am no longer on the client's clock. 


Now it has happened. I cant undo it. But I can take lessons. And these are things that I will do - no matter what.

  • Figure out a minute to minute plan of my time. If not a minute by minute, an hour by hour for sure. I will start doing this from the next trip (that starts tonight). 
  • Get anal about how and where I spend my time. And try to earn time. How do I do that? By putting in place processes that save me time. By getting people who can do things that save me time. 
  • Try to detach emotions from work. I am not sure if I want to do this. But lets see how it happens. 

In all, this trip was a clear case of setting expectations too high. Going forward, I need to lower down the expectations and then try to exceed those. Or may be not. One life. If you don't hustle hard enough, why are you alive?

That's about it. Until next time, over and out.

P.S.: Here are some pics from the exhibition. Do give feedback.

5K on 5th Dec

In the morning today I promised someone what I will write 5000 words today. Its 8:50 PM and I havent written a single word. So I have a few hours to go and 5000 words to crank out. And where else to start from but here. And what else to talk about but shit that's floating inside my head.

P.S.: I started writing this on the 5th. Today it's the 6th and since I was in office, it took me multiple passes to give shape to the post. The focus is on getting as many words of inane text out as possible. Lets see how many I get in. Also, I love this idea of sprints. This allows me to not worry about quality and all I am doing is pushing words out on paper. Perfect if you ask me. 

Lemme dump everything that I have on my mind. May be I'll feel lighter.

1. Year End
The year is ending and I am the kinds to actually take a stock of how the year went. I love making lists and then try to achieve the tasks on those lists. While I live with the lists throughout the year, I get really active around this time. I set lofty targets for the year and then I make plans for achieving those targets. So far, in none of the years that I've made lists in, I've achieved my targets - may be I dont have what it takes to do things. Or may be I love stretch targets. Irrespective. I love this list and yearly goal setting.

This year is ending soon and if luck would have it, I will get a couple of days off to plan for the life ahead. And even if I dont get time, I am happy to report that I have already started thinking about things. While I have a little clarity about things that I want to focus on, I need to figure out a lot of peripherals. I know that 2018 will be all about health. And not money for a change. I have chased money all my life and I am yet to get rich. So may be I'd focus on health and how that pans out.

Apart from health, the second most important thing will be writing (why? See 5). And then I will worry about work. This will be a marked difference from how I've operated in life. Lets see how that goes. 

2. The ever-expanding plate
I am involved in a million projects and anyone who's like that is bound to miss deadlines. On not just yearly goals but on other short-term goals as well.

For context, on last count, I am working on 48 major projects. These range from plans of taking over the world to public art to opening a college to teach events management to stationary and what not. And while I am a great beginner, I start things, I am very average finisher.

Plus I am now beginning to see the sense in the maxim that you can only do so many things with your life. I need to know that I am not limitless. Which sucks but such is life!

Or maybe, I need to discard this feeling of being inadequate and get back to being what gives me the most amount of happiness - day dreaming and cooking up a million things at the same time. Who says I ought to stop at 48? Why can't I have 96 projects there?

You dig what am saying? 

3. Fit/Fatness
Yesterday Day before it rained really hard in Mumbai and I got drenched. And as a result, the only pair of denims I had got wet. And I had this really important meeting today yesterday and thus I had to buy a new pair.

I went to the mall and went to each shop that the mall had. And in those scores of stores and hundreds of pairs of pants, denims, nothing seemed to fit!! I am unhealthy as fuck! I have become so fat lately. What do you mean lately? I have been fat since I can remember! 

And then I have this goal of climbing to the very top of the Everest. Can you imagine a fat man on top of Everest? I will stick out as, what Charles said, a cockroach on a wedding cake.

Apart from just being an impediment to my goals, it makes me look ugly. I mean I am not the one to have been blessed with stellar looks, the fat makes it uglier. I know, body shaming. But the point is that if I can, I must. It will probably motivate me enough to do something about my life. In fact as I write this, I am already having a green tea. In regular course, I would've had a coffee. Or a coke. But green tea. I hate the taste and it makes me pukish. But I am told that the pukish bit is because of all the toxins in my body. Once they are out, I wont be pukish anymore.

I am digressing. The point is I need to get fit. And fit like Jason. If I get fit like him, I am sure my bald head (with the new found physique) will make me like a darker version of him. That would be something. No?

4. Work
Work is in an interesting phase. There is enough and there is not enough. Enough that I am busy. Not enough that I dont make enough money. Enough money is the kind of money that allows me to get a car for myself, allow me to spend without thinking about bank balance, help me invest in bright people that may need help and finally, take care of my people. 

And I cant seem to fix it. Despite my brains and all that. And despite some super amazing friends that have done everything they could. And despite all the hard work. I mean the only way I know to success is through hard work. Increasingly, its about connections and all that.

I dont know what would it take to do so. In case you wish to offer assistance, you know my email address.

In fact as I talk of work, in the last few days, I actually got an offer to work for someone I really admire. But I could not make myself leave people who've backed me up when I needed them. Rationality says that I need to move on and all that. But I am not rational. More on this if I come out ahead. I dont want to sound like a sore loser.

5. Book2 
I heard this text by Allan Watts and I realised that what I really really want to do if money were not an object, is to write. Now I know that my writing is not good enough to help me get by but I know that I really want to write. I do not know how did I get #tnks out of the door. I was lucky I guess. Or my head was not this cluttered with all the shit on the huge plate (see 2). Whatever it was. Its been 3 years that I have been meaning to work on #book2 and despite repeated reminds and kicks on the backside. I havent done shit on it.

I have threatened myself, promised friends, even sgMS that if I did not write the book by the end of the year, I will stop chasing the idea of writing the book. And yet I havent done anything about it. I think I make too many promises and thus the promises lose significance.

Now on, I probably need to reduce these promises and live upto the deadlines. Which is in direct contrast to my personality. I love challenges. And if you want to bring the best in me out, dont tell me about the reward I stand to get but make it sound like a challenge. Throw me one please.

And may be I need a muse, like I said a few days ago.

P.S.: While I was trying to look up the link, I realised that all that I have covered here is like a summary of things that I have posted already. Theek hai. As long as I get some words on paper.

6. To give up or not
This one is tad philosophical. Post my MBA, even though I have held full-time jobs, I havent been able to make it big. Either in terms of impact or money or reputation or doing enough to inspire others. I wont be wrong if I say that have been struggling.

I increasingly feel that life is like a race where I am sort of getting left behind by everyone else around me. And even strangers. Its like am running in the slow motion, on a treadmill. And they are in the fast lane with rocket propulsion jets under their bums. And to a fly on the wall, I look like a stagnant shit while everyone is just whizzing past.

I know this is a stupid feeling to have but I have been having thoughts to reconsider this entire entrepreneurship thing.

I look at people who are like me and have done well, they are either super smart (which I am not sure if I am), super handsome (I am definitely not), super connected (I have zero connections that work - see next point). Or a combination thereof. They are confident, clear and have a large problem to work on. I on the other hand have a run of the mill business that I am trying to approach differently.

Everywhere I look, people are doing things that make me take note and go "oh faaak". And here I am. Wielding my fury dismay on a keypad. Trying to reach the goal of 5000 words for the day.

Thing is, I have been "struggling" since 2014. And unlike the struggle by other artists where they need one hit to take them to the next level, my struggle doesn't add up. For example, if you are a film-maker, you spend a month learning the skill and then you spend 10 years honing the craft. And then one fine day, you make a film that makes everyone's jaws drop. When that happens, all the struggle of the previous 10 years, one fine day and one month seems like a journey. A journey towards creating that masterpiece that gives you the platform to do whatever. Including an option to never work on your craft again and just become an armchair activist. You know what I am saying? An Anurag Kashyap doesnt have to make any movies anymore. After Wasseypur or Dev D or any of his masterpieces, he could choose to become a mere producer and give talks and all that. Its a different thing that he continues to work. I am sure we can find umpteen examples of one-hit wonders who knew they dont want to work hard again after they've found success.

In my case where I am a capitalist, my success does not depend on that one flash in the pan moment of brilliance. For me, I need to come up with hit after hit after hit. Like Elon. Steve. etc. There has to be a string of successes that I have to establish if I have to make those billion dollars. And the impact.

Oh, I define success as a point mile-stone in your career life where you stop the hustle and whatever you've done so far gets you more opportunities. Example, if you are Elon Musk, after you sold Paypal, a lot of opportunities would come your way. Because you have set a precedence in the market by doing Paypal. You attract opportunities. Right now, I am Joe Nobody. Even if I am the right parter for something, people will not want to talk to me or get me on board.

7. People
Last few days have been rough in the sense that people that I always thought I could rely on have been acting weird. To the extent that I am not sure if I want to continue to help others. And these are people that have been like family. These people and I go back years. Almost a decade in one case.

I have stood like a rock. For things big or small. And when I need them, for whast I think is a small favour, I get a curt response. Now I understand that they may be busy and all that. And I also understand what Gita says about this - karma kar, fal ki chinta mat kar. But, you know, I am human. A, it sucks that I am in a spot that I cant get out of myself. B, I am actually seeking help. And C, the person you thought could help you is not interested in even giving you a proper response.

A better way to visualise A, B and C is to think that you were riding down a steep slope and you realise that the breaks have filed. And once you realise that you cant do shit about it, you prepare to jump and tell yourself that the jump will probably break a few bones but it'll not let you die. But when you actually take the plunge, you are hit mid-air but an oncoming freight train. That you never saw or considered. Makes sense?

8. The point of this blog
Honestly, no one reads this. Apart from VG. I mean even I dont read this blog. So why do I take the effort to write in the first place? All this is so stupid and meaningless. I mean it could be meaningful if tomorrow I chose to run for a public office and someone actually goes through all 1500 or so posts to dig dirt on me. Apart from that I dont see an application. Because, a Vanita says, we are all but specks of dust in this one big coincidence.

Maybe its the only place where I can pour my heart out and have a non-judgmental audience? Or may be it is that when I write, I get this clarity that I can never get while I am thinking. Or may be I just love the feeling of writing on this blog - you know, like I am doing this for the sake of doing this?

Like Sheldon (Cooper) says, "we'd never know."

9. Memory loss
Last few days I have noticed that I cant seem to recall things. I have always been the kinds to be able to not use a notepad and remember conversations, things, quirks, birthdays etc etc. At a point in time, I could use a memory place and remember a deck of cards. Now I cant even remember the 6-digit OTP pins that we get as SMS. Hell, I dont even know passwords to half things I know. I just go reset the accounts when I have to use a machine that does not have my data saved.

Note to hackers - yes my data is all inline and my password is ridiculously easy to guess. Want to take a shot?

Coming back. I need to do something about memory loss. The worse part is, whoever I talk to, they dismiss this as a shenanigan of a man who's growing old. They dont see the pain I go through when I am reminded that I was part of the conversation and I have forgotten. Reminds me of this piece by Robin Williams' wife on his last days. Funny that I am reminded of something when I talk about my memory loss. Do read that piece. Its really poignant.

To me, memory and recollection is not just one bodily function. To me, its a matter of pride that I dont forget things easily. I may not have an eidetic memory but people do call me an Elephant! And it sucks to be not able to remember things.

I am assuming that this is temporary and I will be back to being the amazing brain I was a few months ago. I have started using a few mobile apps to "train" the memory muscle. If its a muscle and actually helps to exercise it. These apps are making me do mundane tasks that simulate the brain for sure. I feel engaged and challenged. Its been a couple of days only and I am yet to see results but I remain hopeful.

Oh, in case this exercise does not work out, VG, please take to someone who can help. A doctor perhaps?

10. The music on loop
While I write this, I am at a Starbucks and I am listening to this song on loop. Why did I put this here? I dont know. Thats a lifehack, in case you are interested. Listening to the same familiar song over and over again, on loop, helps you focus. Trust me. Read about it.

11. Focus. 
I love multitasking to the extent that I have 23 tabs open in 3 windows. Yes I counted them. And since I starting writing this I have exchanged messages with friends, done a long phone call (who's hustling to become a comedian), had a tea and played Bubble Breaker (you must try - its an amazing game).

In the second pass while I was writing this, I have a Watsapp window open and I am talking to people on that. And what am I talking about? How to lose weight! I am telling you, I am super with making plans. ;P

12. The way I write
I am the kinds to write and not edit. I want to get things right in the first time I write em. So, as I write, I am constantly looking at grammar and spellings and links and other such things. However, this post, I am making a list of things that I want to cover. And then writing notes on each. The idea is that I want to cover a lot and optimise the way I write.

After I made a list and tried to fill in, the following happened.
- After I made a list, I had a goal. To fill in those bullet points. That helped me stay on course.
- It became easy to write in short bursts. I could write for one bullet point and then digress to a conversation on watsapp
- More words happens. Simply because I have a lot to talk about each bullet point and when I am focussed on that one bullet, I can write everything about that bullet.
- The fact that the list was incomplete gave me an itch. And I had to scratch it. That helped.
- When I got stuck with a bullet, I could move onto the next one. So I wrote more. Now I can of course edit it out and all that but to me the path to quality is paved with quantity.

So yeah, this experiment has sort of worked. I hope I can use this for #book2.

13. And this is the last. #aPicADay on Instagram.
On Instagram, I have reached Day 9 10 of the #aPicADay pact that I made with Anusha. Today is Day 10. I will post something before mid-night. Lets see. Follow me on Tell me which of the 10 is your favorite.


And with this, its a wrap. Thanks for indulging!

Mumbai, Dec 2017

P.S.: Stats for nerds.
As on typing this line, time is 9:44 PM. Word count is: 1215.
As on typing this line, time is 10:16 PM. Word count is: 2306. Breaking to walk back home.
After I finished writing the post, date is 6th Dec. Word count is: 3354 or so.

P.P.S.: Whoever is reading this, if you care, please do tell me (in comments or on email / whatsapp) if this post sounds cribby and all that. I am trying to be someone who doesnt crib. Thanks! 

Gratitude - MDI, Gurgaon

Today A few days back I met Chirag (MDI 2009). He was in office and we got talking about life and times at MDI. And I realised that everything that I have in life, good or bad, has its roots at MDI.

Wanted to make a list. Here it is.

I run C4E. We are a full-service, bespoke, corporate events management agency. When I was at MDI, I could have never predicted that I will run an events agency someday. I wanted to change the world but events? No.

Funny thing is that my first ever tryst with events happened at MDI. Back in 2005 and 2006, I was part of Imperium - the annual cultural festival at MDI. And I arranged and organised the entire thing (along with few others).

The second time I got to work on events also happened because of MDI. In 2009, after my gig with CLA and Cyntax got over, I was looking for an opportunity to do something and I wrote to the MDI alumni group. Off the people that responded, I chose to work with Suvi (at Gravity) and Suvi chose to work with me. This was a full-time job in events and I was part of the client servicing and planning teams. Since at Gravity, everyone does everything, I got immense exposure that shaped me into who I am. Plus the stint with Gravity gave me the tools to run C4E.

It was at MDI that I first started taking writing seriously. I did have a blog before I went to MDI but it was at MDI that I started documenting my mundane life. And because at that age you really want to get really famous, I would share the link with friends and family. While most people ignored me, some of them did encourage me. And each piece of encouragement made me write more. And then it became a feedback loop. And it is yet to end.

Oh, it was at MDI when I first thought I could write a book. While I had wanted to be an author since I can remember, it was at MDI that Sandeep and I planned to write a novel inspired by our time at MDI. I think Chetan Bhagat had just written Five Point Someone. So nothing was impossible. We were young and had a lot of time on our hands. And writing was not too tough. You know what I mean?

P.S.: The inspiration and confidence to actually write the book came after Suds published his. And it was an alum from MDI that agreed to publish my first!

Out of 5 people that matter to me (apart from my immediate family), at least 2 are from MDI - VG and VK. Both these are my closest confidantes and are key pillars in my support structure. Everytime I am down in dumps, I find solace in their company. Every key decision in life requires their approval. Conversations with them have shaped the way I think. There is no shame or guilt or any other negative emotion when I talk to them. I can bare my soul and share my deepest fears and darkest thoughts with them. And I wont be wrong in saying that I dont know what I'd do without them.

Apart from these two, some of my closest friends and well-wishers are friends that I made because of MDI. The list is way too long to actually fit into a blog. If you guys are reading this, thank you. All of you. Class of 2004-2006, seniors, juniors and others.

I am still figuring out what I want to do in life and identify a purpose for myself (I do have vague ideas that I want to create and in the process inspire others) and my raison d'etre. Thing is, the closest thing to a perfect human being -- where the guys' doing a great job, making impact, making money and living a life that inspires others -- is Prof. Bakshi. And where did I meet him? At MDI!

It was Prof. Bakshi that introduced me to the ideas of Warren Buffet and the advantages of multidisciplinary thinking. It was at his BFBV classes that I realised that I dont know so many things and there are so many things that I dont know that I dont know.

Its a different story that I got a D in his course - blame it on all the financial number crunching that he expected us to do. Here's the secret. Numbers is NOT my thing.

Any how. In the end... 
So, yeah. MDI has had super influence. Of course, serendipity and random luck has had a large role to play in putting me where I am. I would've loved to control it. But because I can't, I dont want to bother about it.

P.S.: What about that thing where you say you are more than what you do? 

The #book2 Brouhaha

Book2 is now officially overdue by 3 years. Three years. In three years you can make 4 babies. In three years you complete college in India. Three years is the time a typical startup needs to break even and start throwing money back at you. Three years is more than a 1000 days. Its 5% of an average human's productive life. Three years...

Wait. The point is that book2 is delayed. To an extent that no one knows that I am an author. Fuck no one, I have a hard time telling myself that I am one. Anyhow attention spans are like shorter than that of a hummingbird. Who cares if you wrote a book. And this is not the first project that I havent been able to find time for, even if this is the closet to my heart.

I was thinking about it last night and I thought Ill make a list of reasons why I cant seem to get this going. Here goes.

A. No time
Writing is not my first gig. Its not even my second. I mean I do write a lot everyday -- presentations, emails, short notes, scribbles and all that. But all of that is for work. There is no writing for recreation. And there is hardly any writing for the book. And the worse part? I dont miss it. I mean there was a time when I would be itchy if I dint write for an hour everyday. Those days are gone.

Right now, its just a battle to rush from one thing to another. In the process, I think I have stopped enjoying little things that make up life.

B. No muse
They say a writer needs a muse to write. I am not sure what was the muse when I did #tnks. Ok wait. A muse is defined as "a person or personified force who is the source of inspiration for a creative artist." So last time I may have had someone. I dont remember. This time, I dont have any. I even got sgMS to agree to marrying me if I could complete the book by end of the year. And that too doesnt seem to be exciting enough.

Maybe I need to talk to the lady I am interested in right now to not talk to me if I dont write a 1000 words a day. Or may be I need to go find someone who is as into writing as I want to be. I dont know what would it take. Ideas?

C. Too much work
Two things here. Work required on writing a book. And effort and time spent on work that gives me the money to afford the lifestyle I lead.

Writing a book may come easy to a lot of people (I know people who "win" NaNoWriMo by writing 50K words in 30 days). To me, it does. I know I can write fast but I am not sure if the kind of things I write can happen in 30 days. I want to research, think, get into conversations (with my characters), leave tons of Easter Eggs (Lol. Why would I do that when not a single reader of #tnks came back to me and told me that they loved how intelligently I buried those little gems throughout the book.). 

So, writing is serious work. And sustained work for long durations (on a daily basis), over a year or so. Do I want that kind of grind? Like I know I never want to be in an operation theatre again, do I want to g through the tribulations that writing a book entail?

Thing is, I am not the one to shy away from hard work but I am the kinds that needs everything perfect. The temperature of the AC, the chair, the table, a working Internet connection and so on and so forth. And the kind of life I live, its often to get all variables in place. And when I do get these variables in place, there's just too much work that needs my urgent attention that I cant concentrate on moving the story ahead.

That brings me to work that I am engaged in. Like I said in A above, I am at a stage in life where I dont have financial stability. I live month to month and the month I dont work hard in, I am forced to cut my expenses. So its a constant battle between daal-roti and hobbies. And while I am a big advocate of sex and cash theory, I am not sure I can live up to what I preach.

D. No money
If I had a rich wife, I would quit everything and sit on a desk all day and write. Well, I think I will. I am not sure. But I know that a big big impediment to my writing output is the fact that I need to work slog hard for making the ends meet.

E. No inspiration
Apart from a muse that doesnt let you rest, there's this dying need inside of you to tell that story. I dont have a story like that. I mean I know I have an interesting plot for book2. I mean who would not want to read a fast-paced narrative about a gang of notorious bandits (where no one trusts another) coming together to hunt for a treasure that was lost when Portuguese finally left Goa?

But... the damn but. But is the story compelling enough that it makes me leave everything and keeps me focused on telling the story?

F. Support structure
I am lucky that I have so many people around me that continue to egg me on all the time. In no order, the constant badgering and reminders happen from Anusha, Nikita, Purav, Sachin, Vivek and others. Like last night, on twitter, Sachin sent this.
Thing is, if despite having so many people who want me to write and do well and all that, I cant write, can I? May be by not working on the book, I am letting them down. Could this be a big enough fear that I actually write?

Or maybe I need to apologize to them and quit and move on. And bury the dream of reaching a million people to a time when I have made the money and have little more time on my hands to write?

May I need to quit on this? Or may be not.

G. Commercial success
While you write for yourself and you want to express yourself, I sincerely believe that no endeavour deserves attention if there's no commercial angle to it. You may not do it for money. But you need to ensure that your work inspires people enough that they are willing to give you their time and money and attention. And you as an artist need to work hard to earn the time and money and attention. You need to make it worth the investment by your patrons. Its a loop. You see it?

If #tnks would have been a runaway success, I probably would have had the money to not worry about work and write. I would have created a "platform" of sorts that would've allowed me to chase writing as a career. It would have convinced me and people around me (not that I seek their validation) that I can actually support myself (and my family) through what I write. It would have pushed me to stand on that success and do more.

Since that did not happen, may be the MBA in me is doing a longish cost-benefit analysis and preventing me from investing time on writing? May be I am too rational to be an artist? May be I am not too delusional?

H. Others 
Apart from the list of things above, things that I did not consider while writing this are:

  • Writer's block. I am not sure that I suffer from it. I can wake up from sleep and start writing. And I can pick up from where I left. 
  • Ability to find a publisher. I am reasonably sure that Sachin at Grapevine will back me up. If not him, I can do a self-publish. 
  • My limited grasp on the English language. I can always find editors to help me out. 
  • My ability to hold interest. I think what I write makes sense and people can more or less finish what I write. 
Bas. Cant write more. That's about it. I probably need a whack on the head. That nose job that I got done was supposed to be it. But guess not!

Over and out! 

P.S.: Funny. After this such a long rant, I still dont know if I want to write. Like they say, bakchodi karwa lo bas

Introducing #tumseNaHoPaaega

So, this is going to a long, whiny, cribby post where I am going to talk about work. Which, if you follow this blog, you would know that I hardly do (I crib often but I talk of work rarely). And now that I am gonna talk about it, I am going to pour my heart out. I will be a whiny old man and I will crib like I do it for a living. Also, I started writing this post yesterday, did not have it in me to end it then -- got too depressing. And no, I dont need any consolation. 

P.S.: This post is in three parts. 

Part 1
Today, I lost this pitch that I knew I was going to win. Team and I had poured our hearts into it. We had worked hard. I even visualized how that would it look like when I am actually gonna go it, as they preached in The Secret. You know, if there is one thing that I was ever sure of, it was that I was going to win it! It was like a done deal.

Just that it dint happen.

Most times I am not the kinds to cry about the times I lose. This time, I cant stop the fucking tears (literal tears, it still doesn't hurt enough I guess that I bleed my eyes out) The pitch was super important for a lot of reasons. To start with, it was the first time we actually had a shot at doing something substantial after almost a year of failed attempts at generating new business. Plus it would have been such a big piece of business that it would have meant a runway for almost 3 months. 3 may sound small to you. But to me, at the scale and level that I operate, each day is a battle. Plus it would give me the confidence that I could be an outsider and do well. Plus this time I had a friend who could tell me where I was fucking up and where to correct the damn course. And despite her help, if I cant win a pitch, I dont think I can ever win one.

Not winning it also means that I let down myself, my investors, team, vendors, friends, believers and a host of other people (in that order).

The funny thing is, there is no rational reason for not getting the project. It just dint click. Like you know, at times you plug on something and it just doesn't start?

Of course I can console myself by saying that I, we did everything that we could and there are things that you cant control. Well, that talk is for losers. The fact of the matter is that on the day shit was supposed to go down the wire, we were not good enough. And I am told that being great, good enough or shoddy is directly correlated to your inherent talent, amount of hard work you put in, the hustle and that bitch called luck. Luck. Well, it confuses me. There are times when she sleeps with me and gives me the best orgasm ever. And there are times when I do all I can to woo her and she wont even look up at me.

Coming back, probably we werent good enough. And that is non-negotiable. Thing is, for me, work is personal. The two, personal and professional dont exist in silos. To me there are no boundaries. I exist to work. My purpose is to create great work. Try at least if not deliver greatness. If I am awake, I am working. If I am not working, I am thinking about work. If I am not thinking about work, I am asleep. And if I am not asleep and not working, I am dead. It is that simple.

There are two places that I can go from here. Down the valley of despair. I could hide myself in a cold dark room and not come out of it for months. Or I could take lessons and move on and come out stronger, better and all that. I think I'll the middle path. Start by crying and coming out on the other side.

Lets see. Thanks for tolerating the post.

Wait. You think the damn post is over? It is not. Because I was busy with an event while I was writing it. And something just happened that made the hole bigger and I will have no other option but to jump in.

Part 2
So, I am at a project venue. And I am a small part of a big team that is working to pull this project off. And the team has fucked up big time. And as always, I am trying to sort the muck that has been forced upon me. And I dont like it. I want to do things my way. Do less work but do good work.

More than not liking things, at the event, there was a big big goof up under my watch. Because of something that I was not responsible for. Of course, it was a team effort and if someone from my team has failed, I am responsible for that. I had to go and apologize to my team, clients and myself.

Dont want to get into details but you can read more at...

Right now, I feel like shit. So shitty that I dont know what to do or who to talk about. I want to bury myself in a pile of quilts in a cold, dark room with no communication to the outside world. Update. I did that. After I checked out of the event venue, I got into the next hotel and did that. 

Part 3 
And this is where I announce the launch of a new hashtag on my blog. #tumseNaHoPaaega. It will evolve as a collection of things and places and opportunities where I've fucked up. All those posts will be tagged #tumseNaHoPaaega and will be accompanied by the following image.

Why? Because this one dialogue says more than what an entire book can! For the uninitiated this is from this movie called Gangs of Wasseypur and if you need context, see this.

Over and out!

Update (in case you care). I slept off for the most part of the day after and I am ok now. Ok enough to be little ok and write this post. But not ok enough to let go. I will prevail. Wait and watch.

Notes. The other things that I thought about and wanted to include in this post, but could not, are... 
  • You are alone.
  • Show business is unlike any other. There is so much excitement and there is so much hard work and it just takes one small incident to fuck up things. 
  • Confidence is at an all-fucking-time low man. Need something, someone to help me get out of this. I dont know what.

Notes from trip to Bangalore

I am starting a new thing today. Dont know if this is new, I may have done this in the past as well. But what the heck. Here it is.

So I went to Bangalore last weekend. I had one piece of agenda. Meet a couple of people who I wanted to invest with (and before you ask me, it is not a big investment. Less than 5 lakhs).

Apart from one meeting scheduled with them, I had left my plan open. I had 48 hours in Bangalore and here is what I did there.

In no order.

1. Met a fan-turned-friend-turned-crush-turned-friend. Have met her on few more occasions before this and unlike others who you meet once in a while and lose touch, have stayed in contact with this one. More than anything else, she is one of those few people who believe in me. I know come hell or high water, she will stand by me. Thank you, D.

2. Met the guys I was supposed to invest with. Two dudes, both older than I, run the startup. A great mix of technical competence and business acumen. And since both are older that me, they are wiser and more experienced than me.

So I spent large part of a day with them. And while I was with them, I realised a few amazing things. Here is a list of top three takeaways.
  • While they have the vision, they suck at explaining that vision. Someone has to work with them to craft the vision. And why is important? Because most early hires and investors and customers will buy into that vision. So, they need someone to handhold them with that. 
  • Founders are a different breed. They are clear about the mission they are on. And even if they are wrong, they dont accept inputs and advice on the face value. Either you have to have reputation to change their opinion or you bring in some anecdotes that make sense to them. Or you present some data. In my case I figured something else - I threw them a chain of logic (like A follows B, B follows C and so on and so forth and they seemed to understand). 
  • Its a long long term game that most founders are in. Some get lucky to reach their destination fast. But most sort of fall along the way. The idea is to create enduring value and make wealth along the way. 
#note2self: I need to meet more founders and get into more intimate discussions and write more. Why? Helps me get clarity. And allows me to create content that helps others. 

3. Met a friend / classmate / distant cousin for breakfast. We went to this place that's been themed as a bicycle cafe. Ok place. Slow service. And while they took forever to get our breakfast, I did some digging and found that its co-owned by TI Cycles. It reeked of an idea that someone like me could've cooked up and served to a rich person on a platter.

#note2self. I was thinking, if I decide that I dont want to work on events, there's nothing else that I can do. Scary. No? More on this in some other blogpost someday. 

4. Met another fan turned friend. This one is like the first one. Will stand by me through thick and thin. I wish I could spend more time with her. Thank you, A/T. If you are reading this, so sorry for making you wait. I will come back to Bangalore soon and spend more time with you. Promise. 

5. Met a friend who runs a fairly well-funded and a "visible" startup. At the same meeting, met another acquaintance that runs a startup in the events space. Talked to them about variety of things, including gossip on other startups, how to leave your mark (after you are gone), the future (retirement plans), aspirations and what not. Super engaging conversations. The kinds that make you high even without any whiskey or something. Plus talking to the events dude made me realise that its still Day 1 for events as a business. And if that is indeed the case, its such an amazing time to be around! 

6. Met friends from MDI for dinner / drinks. As always, super conversations. Played pool with a stranger and he beat me like I were a kid. And he played with just one hand most of the time.

#note2self. Become at least a pro-am level player so that I get to win most games that I get to play when I am chilling out. I mean what are the odds that I will bump into Bata at a club in Mumbai?

7. Met Shom. I can write an entire book on the two odd hours I spent with Shom. He is as cool, as extreme, as great, as super as they come. He can write, sing, play guitar, paint, code, think of business ideas, do startups, roll a perfect one, compose and what not. He is literally the Mike Ross that I want!

He is amazing and little quirky and little all over the place -- he is exactly like me when I was his age. I HAVE to get him to work with me. Dont know how. If you are reading this, Shom, please, lets do this!

Apart from that I did things like sleeping at the airports, spending a fortune on numerous cab drives within Bangalore and splurging money on things as frivolous as donuts, lounges and airport showers.

But then it was a great break from the daily rigmarole. I need to take these breaks more often. And for that I need more opportunities to engage with smart brains. #note2self. Create more opportunities. 

Over and out.

P.S.: Thanks to VG for instigating me to write. I dont know what I'd do without him. 
P.P.S: While I was editing this, I realised that random people (that are not related to you by blood or proximity) have had such a huge role to play in my life that its not funny. Thank you, Universe. 
P.P.P.S.: Not happy with how this post has come out. May be I will improve as I go along. Feedback? 

Untitled. Nov 2017

There is no context. There is nothing that I want to talk about. All I want to do, is to write.

Thing is, its been some time (last I wrote, it was Oct 9) that I've written. On this blog. Or elsewhere. Not that I am Gulzar Saab or something that words flow moment I fire up my laptop. You know, writing is such a big part of me that I cant survive without it.

Last few days have been messed up -- lots happening on personal front, work front, ambition front and all other fronts that you can imagine. And because it was messed up, things that keep me going (like writing and music and people and travel) did not get any attention. With this, I am trying to get back on track.

To be honest, I am not sure what to talk about. I can talk about what has wrecked havoc in my life but that could get too personal to talk on a public forum. I can talk about issues at work but who wants to listen to a grown up man rant about office politics and his failure to lead a business? I can talk about how I started with personal coaching (I now have a coach - three cheers to that) and the first lesson that I took from that. If you are curious, the lesson is that I need to stop pimping my poverty. More on this some other day. Moving on, I can talk about Suits and the fact that Harvey and Mike are yet another duo in line with my previous post. I can talk about my experience from last few sessions at EMDI.

Or I can talk about relationship gyaan that I was giving to a friend yesterday? Yeah that sounds cool. I know I am not qualified per se (I am not the most successful at love and I dont really have any deep, meaningful relationships with either friends or family) but I think talking about it, writing about it will help me get clarity. After all thats how I stumble on my best ideas - by holding conversations and by writing about em. Here's it!

So, I told her, there are three kinds of love.

A. Love at first sight kind of love.
You meet a girl. You love the way she talks, you love her brains, you love her looks, you love the way she dresses, you love her confidence. Or a combination there of. You fall for her. And if you are lucky, she'll love you back.

Most popular media paddles this kind of love. Often you are opposites. You are the prince charming and you fall for the goofiest girl in the school. You are a cop and you fall in love with a gangster. You are a famous actress and you fancy a simpleton. Etc etc.

And then, you guys slug it out. You set in for the grind over the rest of your lives (assuming that love lasts a lifetime). You see brains get sharper, beauty fade away, personality change and all that. And you either adapt to it, grow with it. Or you get disappointed. Either way, the thing that you got together changes.

I know I am biased. Stay with me. Please. I will come back.

B. The rational love.
You make a list of things that you want your partner to have. Certain intelligence, certain level of bank balance. Certain level of maturity. Some level of beauty. Etc etc. And once you have a checklist, you look for people that, say, tick off at least 8 of those 10 things. You make a shortlist of those people. And then you tell all of them that.

Whoever accepts the proposal (either they love your sense of organisation or they love your looks or something), you start communicating with them and tell your reasons to try and "create" love. And then the two of you work hard to make things work. You work like hell. Put in real hard work.

Keywords are rationality, checklists, communication and hard work. You reduce a thing like love to a business problem. I know its boring and all the mush and serendipity and unpredictability and excitement and all those things go missing once you do this. This love is unlike any love that you have seen in films or books or other things. But then think for a minute about all those people who create those things that have given you the very idea of love. They didn't just "fall" in love and whiled away their lives. They created a piece that inspired you. That piece required work. It was creation. Not revelry.

Again, let me park this here. I will come back to this. Promise.

C. The blind love.
For some irrational reason, you fall so hard for a person that you are willing to ignore all the shortcomings that the other person has.

If you are lucky, the recipient of your love will give you some shreds back but thats about it. You cant expect that love to fulfil you. I dont even know if that qualifies as love. I actually dont believe in this kind of love. But I know this one exists. I have friends who swear by their partners and lovers despite their obvious issues.

You want it, choose at peril.


So, now that I have defined the three kinds, I think you need to pick the kind of love you want to subscribe to.

For me, someone who believes in rationality and wants some bit of magic, I think the best thing to happen would be Type A. But then I am not the kinds to be able to attract the opposite gender. Plus I dont have such a large circle of friends that I create opportunities to bump into a magical woman. I also know that I dont hang out too often at cool places to create happy accidents. So I will have to "settle" for Type B.

Now, dont get me wrong about the settling down. It is not inferior. In fact its the purest form of companionship. Its something that you have worked hard on. Its something that you cant blame external factors on. If it works out, you get to take the credit. If it fails, you gotta blame yourself. There is just you that is responsible for it.

Such love makes you better. Such love helps you grow. Both of you works hard and help each other along the way.

Lemme connect to the higher purpose of life (and to those two threads that I have left hanging). We are not here to paddle paper or sell sugared water. Our purpose here is to create. And inspire others in the process. What if you get the love of your life to help you create more? What if your love pushes you to do more, do better? The love helps you grow. And with each shred of growth, the bond gets stronger. With each new day you actually create things that are meaningful. And how did you do that? With love! Love becomes that catalyst, the magic potion. Your unfair advantage!

Makes sense now?

What do you think? Whats your take on love? Tell me about it!

P.S.: For people like who have limited talent, limited brains, the only key to success is putting in the hours. Long and strenuous. I am told hard work eats talent for breakfast. I am yet to see it happen. But I am willing to give it a shot. So, even for matters of heart, I think hard work is better than serendipity any day.

The coaching conundrum

There is this Lucky Ali movie - Sur (wiki). I havent seen it but I know of the plot (thanks to this song). Then there is THE Whiplash.

While the two movies appear different, I think there is a common theme. That of this maverick who is on the lookout of someone that could take the legacy of the maverick ahead. Of course this is not exactly that either movie stands for but let me take that as the initiating thread. Maverick. Searching for someone to lead the legacy. Someone who's inherently talented but needs some bit of polishing. Lemme pause here for a second. Will come back.

So, the thing is, I am no maverick and I am not sure if I can help shave off the edges but I think I am pretty ok in terms of brains and capability (though I have nothing to show for it). Lemme call this Thread A.

Thread B is that out of three things that I want to do in life (by Jan 1, 2026), one is impacting a billion lives. And while impacts could be tough to quantify,  I'd love if impact is so big, so huge that they are 10x better as a result of my intervention. And no, I dont mean to play no God. No, I am not chasing immortality. And no, I dont know how to go about it. But I do realise that thats what I want! And I want it bad. Bad like B-A-D.

Now I understand that I may not improve things at the 10X level for everyone. But if I could do a 10000X for some, I'd be happy. Think of Mickey Goldmill. Who worked with a nobody and made a Rocky outta him. What if I could be the Mickey Goldmill to a few? Work with them, enable them to be so good that the entire world recognizes their talent.

Of course all this assumes that I have what it takes to be the coach, a mentor, a guide, a someone that nudges you to be a better version of who you are. Or, like conventional wisdom says, you must have done better yourself and you must know what it takes to carve a raw stone into a diamond. Like Lucky Ali in Sur, like I-dont-know-his-name in Whiplash. Which I am not. So thats a problem as well. Lets call this C.

So, if I club A, B and C, one of the things that I MUST do in life is to be a mentor. A coach. And even though I may not be the best, I need to still learn and be one.

So, I try hard to be one. Everyone I meet, irrespective of their age or the place where they are at, I try and see possibilities (what makes me think that I can spot talent better than the people themselves or others in their respective lives? Nothing. Blind faith in self. Or overconfidence ;)). Some days I get lucky when I nudge some people. Those days are among the happiest days of my life. All the Serotonin that I've ever had in my life comes rushing into my head!

And all was hunky dory.

Till... Lol! Took me so many words, thoughts to come to the point. Sigh. Mr. Garg needs to work on brevity. 

Till... some days back, someone brought something to my notice. And while I want to dismiss it, it has stayed with me and I want to vomit the feelings out and not think about them again.

She said that while I love to "interrupt" regular lives of people and nudge them to do things that I think they ought to be doing, the person on the other end may not appreciate my interruptions. And since I come across as a pushy man, they often do not have the balls to voice their rejection. And as a result, rather than helping people, I end up hurting them. Rather than shaving off the rough edges, I break the damn rock.

And that, to me, is NOT cool at all.

Agreed that I want to make people better but I dont want them to suffer. Agreed that they may not know what is best for them. Agreed that even though they have the gift, they may not want to acknowledge it and not work on it. Agreed that 80% of what you need to be world-class at something requires just 20% of time and rest is deliberate practise. And as the beholder of the talent you may not want to chase it to perfection.

But... but... I believe that the road to greatness is paved with sacrifices and practise and it is definitely starts beyond your comfort zone. And as someone who's been gifted with talent and brains and other things, its your moral responsibility to go chase greatness. Its a debt that you owe to the Universe. You HAVE to push hard and go achieve that greatness.

Why? Because with each shot at greatness, you would create something new. You will push limits. And in the process inspire others. If my mere nudge breaks you, may be you dont have the gift that I thought you had? It is unfair that I break someone who I thought had the gift. But if in the process of discovering the next big thing, I have had to do some collateral damage, I think I am ok with it!

And no, when I say these things, I dont think of people as objects. I think of them as conduits of doing the impossible. It is people that proved that Earth wasnt flat. We discovered the fire, invented the Internet and sent a man on Moon. We will go on to do amazing things and each of these things will get initiated by us humans. And the ones that were gifted and polished their gifts.

Yeah! I think this is what defines how I look at things. I think the Whiplash guy got it right. Ignore the ego, ignore the rude behaviour and all that. Its people like him, who I think bring the best out of the ones who deserve to be the best. I wish I had someone like that to egg me on. Someone to throw a Cymbal at me!

Phew! Now that I've put this out there for whoever to read, I AM lighter. Thank you, Universe. And for all those who need someone to push them, nudge them, polish them, I am on septemberthe22nd AT Lets do this.

P.S.: Do see this. And then, read this.

Day 2. Oct 2017.

So, after a mammoth post yesterday (that took me a few days to write), its time to write one that is tad light-hearted. And while I was thinking of ideas to write on, I thought, why not write some words for #book2? Incidentally, #tnks started like a blogpost. Here goes. 

If Purav wasnt howling his lungs out at the dead body of Birju, the cops could've never ended the 30-year long run of the fearsome Danveer Karna Sevak Gang. Unlike their name, that meant servants to the mythological figure of Karna, they weren't really servants per se. They were merely a group of 5 thugs, notorious for stealing precious artifacts from museums, temples and palaces and selling them off to collectors. Amongst known list of robberies to their credit, the big ones included the Royal Crown of The Nizam of Golconda, original paintings from the time of Akbar from Itimad-ud-Daulah’s tomb near Agra, Sword of Ibrahim Lodhi from a museum in Delhi, statue of Shiva from the little known Rameswara Siva Temple at Kolkata and more.

The modus operandi was very simple. 5 of them will shortlist a target, often handed over to them by their contact. They would do an extensive research to understand the security arrangements and strike when no one would expect them to. And once they had stolen what they wanted to, they would part ways and lay low for months. Once the heat on the case was gone, they would regroup, often at Sehore, about 40 KMs from Bhopal. Partly because it was bang in the middle of the country and partly because Birju, the leader of the gang was a priest at the one of the hundreds temples in the district. Plus, it was nondescript enough to not warrant any additional attention to the gang when they did meet. Of course there was the curious case of these strangers walking into the temples once every few months and Birju Dada, as he was fondly called, disappearing for a few days. But back in small town India, such occurrences could be easily explained by dismissing these travels as side effect of having a large family.

After stealing this 14th century Bible from a church in Goa, they had decided to again part ways, with Birju taking the loot with him and regroup at Sehore after 4 months. If there was a change in plan, Birju would publish a specific obituary in Delhi, Mumbai and Kolkatta editions of the largest newspaper, Nai Duniya and mention date and time for the prayer meeting. You just had to apply a small cipher to know of the exact date on which you were expected in Sehore. Thing with obituaries is that while people read it with interest and take a note of the long list of apparently grieving family members no one really pays any attention to who had died.

When the last obit carried the photograph of Birju himself, the gang had a hearty laugh when they were together. Birju had said that he was out of his collection of stock images and was too lazy to get more photos from the local photographer. Little did he know that he was going to be this accurate!


Thats about it. For some reason I cant get more than 500 words but at least I've put something up. Like Seth said yesterday,

Alive. And Kicking.

Last few days have been such a roller coaster ride. From trying to recuperate after a stressful event (which went ok) to doing another under duress (which went ok as well) to getting a painful operation surgery that was supposed to be painless (happened on the 23rd and till date there are no signs of respite), I dont think I have ever undergone these many transitions in my emotions in this short of a span. Ever.

I dont even know how I will write this. But I am still going to try. Stay patient. Will you?

Lets start with a list of thing that have been wrecking havoc in my head. In no order...

A. I turned 35.
That means I am now old. In no survey around the world I am a part of youth.

Apart from this, I was supposed to be a billionaire by the time I was 35. This is THE only truth I had known since I was a kid. I remember when I was passing out of MDI, I had told a friend that I will be a dollar millionaire and a dollar billionaire by the time I am 25 and 35 respectively. None of the two has happened and no, I dont say this lightly - if I were to die tomorrow, I will not be a happy man at all. To me, the only way I measure the impact you've had in the world is by the amount of money you've made and the number of lives you've touched / impacted / changed / touched. Money - few lakhs. Lives - fingers on a single hand will be lot more than the count.

I will come back to this. Lemme set context and talk of large themes.

B. I got my first ever evasive surgery done.
Yes I am lucky to not have had any big medical complications in these 35 years.

And if you are curious, it was a nasal polyp surgery. And it was painful. My respect for women has gone up many notches, now I know how surgeries could feel like. I dont know what makes them go through the labour pain to get a life to the world. And is this the kind of world where you want to bring a life to? Well...

Anyhow, the surgery meant that I was in the hospital for a few days and I was under a lot of pain and distress. And I was hungry. And since I was given general anaesthesia (GA) so that they cut cut the damn thing from inside of my nose, I could not even drink water (for more than 12 hours. And since I breathe through my mouth, the throat, lips and all other things were parched like a forgotten road in the damn Sahara). I dont remember much from after the surgery once I got my senses back; except that I was in the ICU and begging for water. I remember folding my hands and asking the nurse on duty to let me die if water was that toxic for my system. Again, more on this at some other stage.

Also, I realised that my capacity to tolerate physical pain is very low. And the experience has made me rethink a lot of things in life. The first one - the shot at the Everest. Thing is, while I will prepare for it, out there, you dont know what hits you and when. And unlike at home where you have doctors and medical science and money and time and nature by your side, up there, you have nothing. May be a couple of injections with adrenaline shots.

At some trek when I had hair. Lemme use this opportunity to show off. No? 

Second, I want to change the world and all that but in case I cant tolerate pain, how am I supposed to set an example?

Third, when I am in pain, I become someone else. I am often rude (to taxi guys that I use to commute from my place to the clinic, to chemists that dispense meds, even to my parents who are with me, like a rock!). I become someone that I am not. And I need to fix that.

P.S.: Whoever said Nasal Polyp surgery is painless, please do go get one. I will change my name if do not scream your lungs out. The procedure could replace those ancient torture methods. The kind of shit they make you go through, its unimaginable.

First you are suffering from a polyp - that means while the surgery happens, you would not get water for 12 hours (like I mentioned above). When you eventually get back to eating and drinking and all that, you cant feel the relief because there is this thing in your nose that makes your life uncomfortable. It is stuffed with meters of gauze, rolled into a thin tube. But thankfully, there is water and food. And btw you are still breathing from your mouth.

They remove gauze after about 3 days. When they do, you realise that all the blood and muck and other things inside of your nose has dried along with the gauze and is now stuck to the open would. Inside of your nose.

And how do they remove it? They yank it out. Simple enough.

But when they do that, it comes along with it flesh (ripping the wounds that had just started to heal) and some more blood. No, you are still not breathing. Neither from your nose because theres muck there. Nor from your mouth because you are screaming out loud.

No, its not over.

After this thing is out, they put a tiny suction pipe into the nose, goes about 3 inches inside (yes. 3 inches) and they start to literally scrape off leftovers with it. Again, nerve cells tingle so much, so bad that you are screaming. And no, you cant move your head. If you do, the drill suction pipe may damage something else.

They could give you local anaesthesia but thats another horror story altogether. Its like a spray in your nose. The first ten milliseconds are nothing. And then it starts to hurt the nose. And slowly, like a drop of water trickling down a dry surface, the pain descends to your throat. It gets "heavy" - at least you cant scream after that. If you do, I dont remember hearing it. Oh, the anaesthesia is local. Local as in millimetres local. The suction moves around so much that its actually of no use.

Also, this is where treatment for most patients end.

For me, for some reason, I had to get a silicone thing embedded in my nose. And stitched. Thankfully I was injected (not sprayed) with some more anaesthesia before that happened. I would've died otherwise. I dont know how do women get the nose pierced. While it looks gorgeous, it cant be simple. Second time when I realise that women are so much so much stronger. All this while I would think of women and men as merely equals. No they are not. They are better.

Coming back. I am not sure what are the next steps. I need to see the doc in a few days. If the nose is healing well, this silicone thing may be removed (by, I am guessing cutting the stitches and yanking it out, hoping it doesnt come along with more pain or blood, and thus no further surgery). If its not, I will have a second round. And no, I dont have it in me to go through it.

I now know of the plight of patients that need painful treatment to be able to see slim chances of survival.

To me, pain was an academic interest area at best and I would use it loosely all the time. I would write about it in my blogs, books book and other things. I would romanticize it when I would see a Rocky or a Rambo revel in it. I would think of it as a no big deal when I saw people fall down and hurt and cry. Now I know what a wound is. Now I know what pain is. And I dont know if I have hurt any sentiments ever over pain, but if I have, I apologize.

This thing has made me appreciate life a little more. Respect others a tad more. Hope the change is permanent.

C. This is probably the longest that I have gone without writing. 
More than a month now.

To the ones who meditate and the ones who pray, they would know how they feel when they are devoid of practise. I feel that something really important has been taken away from me. Some part of me has been taken away. Something has happened that makes me incomplete. After all this blog, this set of posts that I know no one reads (except Vivek and at times PD) is the thread that sort of gives meaning to my life. Like I keep saying, apart from living, this is the longest I've ever done something.

And no, I have no plans of stopping. And everytime I am away from it, I feel this void that nothing seems to fill, but a spewing of words on this blog.

And no, I am not complaining. I just wish I could do this everyday.

So, now that a broad table of contents (and a not-so-short rant on the surgery) is laid on the well, table, here are some thoughts. In no order. Lol. Why would I put a table of contents if I wasnt hoping to follow any table? Never mind.

First. My underachievement conundrum. Like I have said this a million times, I feel like a am a failure.

I mean look at any culture around the world. They would have their respective definitions of success. Most would have money, contribution to society, family, making the world a better place in varying degrees. Thing is, what I am, in no culture around the world, ever, would be considered a success.

Closer home, in Hinduism, there is this concept of Purushartha (this slideshare is a good intro). A man ought to have four types of goals - Dharma, Artha, Kama and Moksha. Each has a specific reason and order. When I look at me, I am not sure if I have discharged my duties on any of the 4 counts - I have a sketchy understanding of Dharma, I have literally no Artha, there is no Kama and Moksha is anyway kinda far.

Agreed that I get things done and I am good at what I do. And agreed that I am actually paid fairly well for it but its not something that gives me satisfaction. It does make me happy and I am in the zone when I am doing it. But, the thing is, I want more. Lot more. And I dont know why I cant seem to get that. Or there. May be I am not meant to be big. May be I am not the Bill Gates, Steve Jobs, Elon Musk, Jeff Bezoes that I've always thought of myself as. May be I need to accept it and move on in life.

May be, in an alternate universe, I could have hit the reset button and undo a lot of things that I could've done things differently - what bits, I dont know. Sincerely. Each thing that I've done has shaped me the way I am. May be I need to let go? I could simply move to a cold country. Find a boring job in a boring place that keeps me occupied and gives me a few hours each day to chase a hobby. Think of Mark Whalberg from Shooter. Once he is retired, he lives at a cabin in the mountains, keeps to himself and stays like that. Does odd jobs. Chases his hobby of shooting.

Or look at Denzel Washintgon's character in The Equalizer. All he does is, does a stupid boring job at a hardware store. And then reads because he's an insomniac. And becomes pretty much a creature of habit like no one else is.

For me, the day job could be driving around an Uber. Allows me to gather stories. And then with whatever time I get, I could go play pool and then may be write. These two -- writing and pool -- will allow me to get unwind after a day spent behind the wheels. Any way thats all you do when you are no longer young?

Or I could be Jack Reacher for God's sake! P.S.: Have this dying need to create someone like that. Why create? Because I want to be one and I dont have the ability to be one and thus, create one. Sidenote: Hah! Jack Reacher. One small surgery made you wince like a baby and you want to be a tough guy! 

Or may be, just may be, I could give things another shot. Till the end of the financial year. Go all-in and see what I am capable of? That means the next 6 months will be hardwork, hustle and lot of effort.


Like I havent had this peptalk with me earlier. I forget the number of times I've done this. Sigh. But like I said. Time to correct course and that will happen from now. Next 6 months should be interesting.

Thing is, I have always said that I want to work on things that give me two or more of the following three...

  1. 1. Money (a lot of it)
  2. 2. Respect (from peers more than anything else)
  3. 3. Opportunity to learn (and network and make friends etc)

And on top of all of that, I have to enjoy the process / outcome.

But then because I have chased this triad, I am left as a poor man, in an industry that requires little or no expertise to pull grand things off and limited possibilities of future.

I think for the next 6 months, I need to just chase money because I have enough to be able to pay my bills, I can invest the leftover at other places. And that could give me opportunities to learn and to earn some respect. No? Guess so. Will decide and figure out the next steps soon.

Anyhow, so this longish rant is actually very long now. Time to wrap it up. Hope I did not lose the plot. I still suck at going back to the post and editing it.

Thanks for reading. Pray for me. Please.

P.S.: This is the first day of the month, lets see if I can make a post on each day of this month. Lets say yet another 30 posts in 30 days challenge?

Entry to Write India 2

27 August 2017. This is post 2. And rather than a lesson, this is a piece of fiction that I am writing as an entry to Write India 2. The prompt by Ruskin Bond is, "I wish I could turn back the clock and bring the wheels of time to a stop." 

This was triggered by SN. In case you are reading this, where's your entry, young woman? 

Here goes... 

“Life’s funny. You spend your entire life chasing something and when you actually get to it, you don’t want it. You know, you’re like that kid at a carnival who wants sugar candy trapped in the glass jar. The jar looks as intimidating as those tall buildings that you crane your neck to stare at when you are going past by them. The jar has walls as thick as the reading glasses of your school’s headmaster and it has a screw-lid that takes forever to uncork and open. And its stacked so far that you have to perk up on your toes and because you are just a kid, you can barely reach the height of the shelf and all you can do is, stare at it with greedy eyes. And when after all the effort and coercion, the old shopkeeper hands you the candy, you don’t want it! Kids are really funny!” Manas drawled over the sound of ice-cubes clinking against the whiskey glass.

Surbhi instinctively looked at Mira. 

Mira was oblivious to the conversation between Surbhi and Manas. At the other end of the room, she was busy sorting a pack of Cadbury Gems into tiny stacks -- each stack made up of little marbles of same color -- with as much attention a 6-year old could muster. She was born in a different era to know of the glass jars that Manas was talking about. 

Surbhi turned back her gaze towards Manas. She had nothing to add here. She was meeting Manas after almost 10 years and so much had changed, except the glass of whiskey in his hand and the long-drawn narratives. 

When Manas had called her out of the blue, she had initially said no. When he insisted, she reluctantly accepted the invitation for a lunch. After all she had to know what had made Manas walk out on her in the middle of the night without any explanation. And Manas just didn't walk out on their marriage, he left behind a friendship of more than 15 years! 

They've been at it for more than 2 hours now and the conversation did not seem to be going anywhere. She was beginning to question her judgment. And since she had got Mira along, she was worried if the 6-year old should be around the obvious alcoholic - he’d been drinking before they had arrived and not for a minute had left his whiskey glass alone.

Manas did not think enough of Surbhi’s silence. He continued, “You know, they say that more than 80% of Earth’s surface has been transformed by humans? The only places untouched are the mountains. And you know the tallest mountain that we are yet to set our feet on? The Gangkhar!"

Manas was talking about Gangkhar Puensum. Standing at an Elevation of 7570 meters on the Bhutan-China border, it's the highest peak still that is yet to be conquered. As with all mountains, the Gangkhar was shrouded in mystery, partly because the locals held a strong belief that the holy spirits of their Gods reside at the Gangkhar and the spirits wrecked havoc to any attempts to climb the mountain and disturb their sanctity.

This was the first time she was hearing the name of the place. But she could immediately see that the Gangkhar, whatever it was, was bothering Manas. She knew of his lifelong obsession with mountaineering and while in pursuit of his obsession, he’d often ignored other, far more important things, including Surbhi.

She merely said, “Interesting. Want to tell me more?”

Manas got up from his recliner, hobbled to a bookshelf that was overflowing with books and papers and other curios. He winced with pain but reached out to an upper shelf and after moving a couple of books and some papers, he pulled out a thin folder. The red cover had a photograph of a snow-clad mountain and a scroll in Japanese at the bottom. He thrust it towards Surbhi.

He said, “You see this? This is a memoir by one of the Japanese mountaineers who was part of the group that did everything they could to climb the Gangkhar. They tried for almost a decade. He says that even if political sanctions were lifted, Gangkhar would still remain unconquered. Its tougher than anything else. Everest is like a stroll in the park, in comparison. One side of Gangkhar is a sheer fall into a glacier; The other side has knife-edged ridges, a cover of unstable snow and spiky pinnacles. It's the ultimate test of a climber's skill and ambition.”

Even though they’ve been friends since school, lovers since their college and married for three years, she never really had any interest in his passion, except when one fine day he announced that he was going to give Everest a shot.

He continued, “The locals say that the holy spirits of their Gods live on the Gangkhar and since the Gods want to rest in peace, they've forbid any humans to come close. Each expedition has met with unfortunate accidents that cant be explained. And apart from this thin memoir, there are hardly any records or even maps of the place! It remains out of reach. Its the place that everyone has on their bucket list. Its something, Surbhi, that I have to conquer before anyone else does. I want to show to the world what real mountaineering is. Everest is bullshit. This is the real deal!”

He was beginning to get agitated. Surbhi instinctively glanced at Mira and to her relief she was now lying on a rug in front of the television and was watching an episode of Tom and Jerry. The pack of Gems was now missing, most probably she had eaten them all. 

When not around Manas, Surbhi was known for her fierce reporting and uncompromising journalistic ethos. She was the undisputed queen of the investigative, political reportage. She’s has had a couple of really big scoops already and the third was going to press later in the week. With the latest one about rich hiring wombs for progeny, her editor was sure that Surbhi will bring home a Pulitzer for Investigative Journalism - the only major award that had eluded her in a 15-year long career.

Career was something that Manas was not exactly proud of. He had little to show for his age except multiple stabs at various peaks - all of them unsuccessful. And like all others that had seen limited success, he made barely enough to scrape by. Since he lived in the Nehru Institute of Mountaineering campus at Uttarakhand and worked as an instructor for the Search and Rescue module, he could keep the passion going and expenses low.

"Everest is bullshit, Surbhi. Its just a huge selfie opportunity! All those 4000 people that have reached the summit in last 50 years? All of them are fucking tourists with no spine." Manas continued his monologue.

Surbhi was used to these monologues. She knew that since veteran trekkers and mountaineers spent a lot of time by themselves when they out and about, they often have this need to keep talking when they do get company. No wonder they make such good speakers!

“You remember my greatest ambition? The lofty goal? To climb the Mount freaking Everest. I wasted 12 years of my life. Saving for it. Preparing for it. And what do I have to show for it? Couple of attempts that failed -- I did not even reach Camp 3. Some broken bones, 2 missing fingers on the toe, and the damn thumb!” Manas nodded at his left hand that was pretty much useless, now that the thumb was gone. He still had a formidable grip on ropes and but that's all that he was left to without the thumb.

Surbhi stared at the ominous looking hand. She did not understand what made people chase mountaineering when it was so fraught with danger. She also realized that with that missing thumb, Manas will probably never get another shot at any mountain, leave alone the Gangkhar or the Everest. 

“And why did I fail? Because I fought with the company that controls the rights to all the ladders and ropes and oxygen that they put on the climbing route at the Everest! They have a climbing route Surbhi. Its like a highway. All you need to do is hold the rope and walk behind the guy in front of you."

Surbhi thought Manas was being that sour whiner that he had become in the last few months of their relationship. In fact it was his constant whining and baseless accusations against the world that had hastened their separation. She was beginning to regret her decision to come meet Manas; Thankfully, Mira was still engrossed in the cartoon.

“I hate that piece of useless rock. That's what it is. A giant useless rock. It's been romanticized for no reason. Ok, it was tough when Edmund and Tenzing went to the top. It was tough for the next few years or so when people found new route, new trails, new paths to the top. But now it's like walking on crowded subway. Messner says, ‘Like in Kindergarten, they go on Everest now.’ Thing is, its been bastardized. Its become a commercial pursuit. The way you can buy a ticket to the top of Eiffel Tower, today you can buy a damn ticket to the top of the Everest and come back with all the bragging rights in the world. Its just another selfie moment. They have no respect for the pursuit. They don't care about the ones who've tried in the past. You know the ones who die trying to climb the Everest? The path to the summit is littered with them. Some are used as milestones and landmarks. There is no respect in ‘doing’ the Everest. It's a sport for the rich. You pay money and you get ropes and ladders and oxygen.”

Manas was now almost yelling. He had all the anger pent-up and no place to let go. The only two people he could call of his own were Surbhi and Mira. He wasn't too fond of Mira -- she was born to Surbhi’s second husband.

“What pride would you get if you are merely adding your name to a long list of people who have done something before you? You are a nameless, faceless statistic. You don't move things forward like that. You have to pave new paths. Create new things. Gangkhar is what they ought to do if mountaineering is their thing,” he scorned. He continued, “Its tough and its remote and its cold. There is no highway to walk on, there are no Sherpas to walk ahead and put the ropes! There are no maps either! That's what a real man would do. That's what I wanted to do. Before… before... ” his voice trailed off and he stared at his hand.

Surbhi now had an inkling what went wrong with them! Unlike the rest of the world, the guy had his priorities clear but he had chosen a track that was going to be as tough as, well, climbing the mountain. The closure that Surbhi had wanted was just around the corner.

“I did not know about it when I started thinking about it. More I read about, more fascinated I got. I am so sorry I ignored you, Surbhi. I shouldn't have left you that night. But if I didn't, I could never have taken that shot at the Gangkhar. It was my life, Surbhi. Not you. Gangkhar."

With that, he started crying. 

For someone like Manas, who had held his head high and resolve higher, this was a rare display of emotion. And Surbhi knew that he was accepting defeat probably for the first time. This was not the Manas that Surbhi had made friends with all those years ago. Rather than seeing a rock-solid man that she had loved once upon a time, she was now looking at a man frail with age and burden of loss on the shoulders. 

In a different time, Surbhi could've been angry about the way Manas left. But now, she had her daughter, her career and the question she needed an answer to, she had it. She was surprised that she had remained calm and all she felt was a bit of pity towards him. 

Surbhi leaned in closer. She said, “Manas, I am not sure what to say. I am really sorry for this. It was important to you. You did it. But now that it has happened, can you do something about it?"

He looked up. “Not really, Surbhi. But wish I could play God and do something about it, Surbhi. I wish I could turn back the clock and bring the wheels of time to a stop.” He paused to empty the contents of his glass. “You know to when? To just before when Edmund and Tenzing decided that they were going to climb the Everest!” and with that, he flung the empty glass at the wall that was decorated with a giant photograph of the Mount Everest shining in its glory. 

The End.

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?