Rant: #foreverAlone and loneliness

So, in this year (2017),
  • I promised myself that I was not going to crib.
  • I decided that unless I wrote 5000 words in a week, I was not going to have Coke. And in the process get Book2 Publishing-ready. I haven't written shit and yet, as I write this, I am on coke. 
  • I wanted to work on getting over sgMS. This meant creating more opportunities to bump into great women.
  • I wanted to get fit (32" at least, if not 30). Run a half-marathon (if not the full), work towards climbing the Everest. 
  • I wanted to make money (enough to allow me to not work) and work towards that large impact that I wanted to make.
  • I wanted to be the best year of my life. The best version of SG ever. 

And things were all looking up for the first few days of this year. I picked pool, I started with guitar, I started working on the next book. I started reading. I was going for walks often. I was doing so much that I felt like 16 all over again. The way I haven't felt in a long long time. I was, like Red, "... a free man at a start of a long journey whose conclusion is uncertain." I am the beginning of a journey and while I know where I want to be, I dont know how I would go there. Free man (well, almost), long journey (yes), conclusion is uncertain (yes)!

But, then I dont know what struck me. Things have been on a downhill last few days and this weekend I think was the worst so far. This is the week (and weekend) where all went for a toss. The momentum (if there was one) that I had built since the beginning of 2017 is down the drain. I will have to restart all over again. From scratch. 

The weekend sucked like no other. Even though I did EVERYthing that you would expect a 34-year old single man to do on a weekend - played pool (on Sat and on Sun), met a couple of friends (one for work and one for mental masturbation), went on a date (with a really intelligent, funny, easy going, beautiful woman, who seemed to enjoy my company), wrote some, read some (finished third book in 2017 - fiction, Hindi, Ved Prakash Sharma), cleaned a room that's been in mess since I moved, slept, even had Diet Coke (3 at that! Had to break a promise but I had to - I was feeling super shitty about myself).

Now that I've put this on paper, I realize that this is actually FAR more than I've ever packed in a weekend. I must be tired by now (its 8:30 PM on a Sunday) as I write this (note: finishing this at 10:05 AM on Monday). And I am. Honestly I am. And no, its not physical exhaustion. I am tired in my head. There is this load on my head for I don't know what. And I have tried really hard to pin point the cause and I cant seem to find it! And this inability to find the answers is bugging me ever more! 

Thing is, I believe I have a sane head on my shoulders that is capable of thinking and being objective about things. I can reason. I can zoom out and try and understand what is affecting me through different vantage points. And that's what I did. I tried to look at myself from different vantage points and here is the list.

The Shrink
I would've admitted to a doc that I am lonely. I terribly miss having someone around me. Someone who treats me as the centre of her universe. And most importantly, someone who allows me to make her the centre of my universe. And someone who acknowledges it. Gives me confidence that she's with me. And no, its not easy to find someone like that. Lucky are those who have someone like that. Actually luckier are those who dont need someone like that.

Coming back, I was so lonely that I took my rants to twitter (side note: I did get AA to come have a drink Diet Coke with me).
I think I have started to feel the need of having someone around. Age does funny things to people!

So, am I ready for Shaadi? I dont know. I am not sure if I can take on the responsibility just as yet - theres' so many things that I am supposed to do before I "settle" down. And yes, shaadi is settling down. Because you have another person's life attached to you. You have one another family to look after. Agreed your partner looks after you and all that but I think that the idea of two things coming together is to make things stronger, not weaker. Marriage adds variables and infinite amount of complexity and thus it makes the entire thing weaker. How? Here are some scenarios:
  • You want to quit your job and write a book? You can't because you have to feed more mouths. Agreed that the partner could work and you chase your passion (or vice versa). What if partner wants to chase passion as well? It becomes the battle between two passions. 
  • You want to move cities / countries. You cant because you have another career to consider. 
  • Health. You cant seem to manage how fit are you. And here is one more person's health to keep a track of. 
I can go on and on about the added complexity. I am very vocal about making lives simpler and shaadi is an opposite of that! Plus, a shaadi is such an investment of time, energy and don't know what all.

The pragmatic side of me tells me to make an excel sheet (discussed with AA yesterday) and evaluate options on it and then settle down. With someone who has such a huge passion project that I am happy getting a stable naukri. Or with someone who has no passion and I can continue to chase randomness. On the other hand, the die-hard romantic in me wants to wait till cupid strikes. 

And the without-thinking-reacting-acting me wants someone who's... 

In an ideal scenario, I would want to be around someone who has a passion project that is independent of how things are with me.

Do I have someone like that? No.

Do they make someone like that? Am sure they do.

Am I the best person for that person? May be. But I am willing to work on it. All great relationships are about working on them. No?

Anyhow, the shrink will ask me to get married. No discussion on pros or cons or anything like that. Just get married. Simple.

The Career Counsellor
This is a tough one.

Apart from the loneliness, I think the thing that is killing me is the inability to find meaning with work. I know what I want to do (work at the intersection of technology, entertainment and communication, may be sports) - I enjoy what I do. I make enough money to pay my bills. I have enough opportunities to contribute.

But for some reason, I am not happy. It could be the scale of work I do, the money I make, the impact I make, the number of people I reach, the expression, the lives I change, the visibility of what I do, recognition (do I want this? I dont know), inability to hustle, or one of million other things.

May be its the absence of flow? Thing is, when I look back at the times when I have been in the flow, it has happened when I am:
  • creating something - writing, researching, talking about new things
  • talking - to a stranger, addressing a team
  • travelling - while I dont eat more than half the things, I suck at small talk, I love being on the road - it keeps the curious kid in me excited.
With what I do, I think flow is increasingly absent. Probably its natural evolution. I am no longer a creator. And as a manager I am often interrupted and I need to chase things. And flow with that may not happen.

So there is this battle between being a creator and growing up. Its a battle between making money and making impact. In the ideal world, Id do both. But then the world is not ideal. No?

But apart from this, dont think there's anything wrong! The career counsellor will thus tell me to stop ranting and get back to office and deliver that damn presentation that's been pending on my desk for three weeks. 

The Fitness Trainer
He would see someone who's making a serious attempt - within his circumstances. I am going for walks when I can. I am eating in moderation. I am trying to be active. Of course I can do so much more.

The fitness trainer would ask me to buckle and do more. Lot more. And yes I am capable of doing it. Today on!

Realized that I dont have deeper connections that most people have. If I were to die today, I dont know how many will stop what they were upto and attend the funeral. And no, I am not just talking about the funeral but I am talking about things that you need friends for. A shoulder to lean on. The kind of friendship that they talk about in books like The Count of Monte Cristo. The kind of friendship that makes you want to lay your lives for! The kinds that does not allow the vacuum to creep into your life when you're bugged on a weekend.

May be this vacuum adds to my unhappiness?

Or may be I need to embrace solitude? Read Walden's opinion on it.

Also, as an objective thinker, may be I dont have friends cos I dont invest myself in their lives. After all reciprocation works better than most other things na? I am not sure. I dont know.

And this is when I am thinking deeply about relationships. My sis shared something the other day where some scientists have proven that if you want to achieve more and live happy, you have to have happy and deep and meaningful relationships.

I dont have any. May be that's why I am unhappy? I ought to work on this. In fact the key takeaway of this post for me would be to go and attempt to fix my relationships. Of course it will start with an investigation on why I dont have these in the first place. And then go about fixing them.

More eventually.

But, the friends will tell me (as they already do) to stop taking things seriously, remove the burden from head, lower expectations from self and get laid. Lol! What else do you expect from them? :). I love em!

I am forced to put an "all is well." facade. Because I cant tell them that I am not happy. Thing is, I dont know how to tell them that things are not alright. I mean I dont even know what is not right. If I knew, I would fix it. No?

The sad bit is that I have had the most brilliant opportunity to have born in such a supportive family and it sucks to not make them aware. We are in this together. Thats the closest to we that we would ever be. Everything else is me. I. Ego. Ahamkaar. Etc.

But I cant. I dont know what to tell them.

And no, I dont want to hide things either. Thus this blog - helps me pour the heart out. Allow me to feel good about publishing something - if not a piece of fiction, account of shit in my head.

So, if they knew, my family would tell me to do things that make me happy and if there is absence of that spark in life, they'd ask me to come back and take it easy,

Random Bystander on the Internet
To a random bystander on the Internet, I will be a dark, bald, middle-aged man that cribs a lot about problems that are not unique to him. He needs to see a shrink, get treated for depression and top of it all, get laid. And then, get a life.

They would tell me to.. wait. They will not tell me anything. I am not a celeb. And whatever little trolls that I get, I ignore them.

Whoever you are, if you are reading this, tell me what is your evaluation of who I am. My entire life is like an open book. Divided between this blog, my twitter handle, my LinkedIn profile and the Facebook page you have access to everything - what I think of, my opinions and my deepest, darkest thoughts, am ambitions, my fears and everything else that makes a man, man.

The last and probably most important vantage point. Mine. My perspective. On me. As unbiased as it could be.

I dont have to do the evaluation thingy here. I know what I am and who I am. I'd just tell myself to get some patience, buckle up and continue doing what I've been doing. And most importantly, remind myself that this too shall pass.


So, now that I've exhausted these vantage points, am I closer to an answer? Damned I am not.

Do I feel good about who I am and how I spend the day. No I dont.

Is the dopamine going through my blood faster? No!

Do I see meaning in what I do? Who I am? Where I am? No!

Am I little less lonely? No I am not. In fact I think I am so lonesome that I can die. I mean it. There are friends, there's family and there are tons of people around me. But the one that I want to be with, I dont have her around me. I miss her. I crave for her. Or may be its just the thought of her that I sort of miss? May be. May be not.

Ok. enough.

That's it for this post. Do write in if you happen to read this. You know my email address.

Over and out.

P.S.: I am not sure if I am depressed. Over times I've used the term loosely but this time things may be real. Need to see a doc and figure out. Once I am back. 

P.P.S.: Yesterday I was talking to AA and it dawned on me that you dont create impact if you sail with that goal in your mind. The idea is to do things per your understanding and nudge people towards the impact. I think that makes a lot of sense. More on this in the next blogpost. 

P.P.P.S.:  Some months back someone wrote about Urban Poors. NY times has Modern Love (with context largely set in America.). I think I need to write about Modern Love in India - especially for people like me. The ones at the verge of middle-life crisis - old, single, busy with work, ambitious, underachievers. What say? Want in? 

P.P.P.P.S.: Song of the day? Pyasa's Jaane Wo Kaise Log They.

Rant on Digital India

This is a long rant on my inability to get a half-decent Internet connection. Read at peril and with caution. Lots of cuss words.

So, ladies and gents, as you may know, I am a computer-science graduate. I run an events agency and a digital marketing business. All my life's content is on a cloud storage. I use a iPhone as comfortably as a fashion model handles those stilettos on a ramp. I live at a pretty affluent neighbourhood in Mumbai in an even more affluent apartment complex (rented, shared and "semi-furnished"). I use Vodafone as a mobile-service provider, which is probably amongst the top 3 telcos in the world and is generally priced at a premium. My sis worked for Vodafone for 5 years. My ex-roommate continues to head one of the most important divisions there. A really good friend from MDI heads a product division there. So, I am pretty connected at Vodafone. I get access to a level of service that most others dont. And yet! I will come back to this.

The rant!
The place where I live, that locality is "owned" by this politician that controls everything happening around here. Might sound like bullshit in this day and age but he does. From the maids to shops around the building to servicemen to nariyal paani wala to brokers to the fucking Internet Service Provider, all are controlled by him. And since he controls the shit, he can actually choose who delivers what service to the complex. Including the ISP.

But I did not know this when I moved here. In fact when I moved, I had to choose between his ISP and MTNL (the state-owned-operated telco). The commonsensical man in me told me that MTNL is of no use and I must get the alternative. And I promptly did that. Little did I know that his ISP is probably the most fucked up I've ever experienced. Bad speed, unreliable service, unresponsive support staff that doesn't know an IP address from a MAC address (wait, do I know? I dont. But am I a service provider?).

So after a month or so, I moved to MTNL, which is another story in itself. I will not digress. When MTNL started giving me trouble, I started looking for alternatives. And this is when I realised his clout. Apparently if you want to operate in the complex as an ISP, you have to use said politicians' ISP as support network and of course they can hold you ransom. And no, I am not making this up. They did that to me. I was not allowed to get a new connection (from a different company) because I refused to pay for shoddy service.

Oh, the most established ones, the Airtels of the world do not provide internet because they dont have enough subscribers. Why? Because everyone else in the complex is using either the politicians' broadband or MTNL and no one seems to be bothered about it.

This is where I could have relied on Vodafone. I am happy paying for a service that I use. And I am super happy paying for Internet, well its the lifeline. But Vodafone is another story. I do not get coverage at my place. Apparently the floor I live at is very high for them to ensure connectivity. No, they do not know that these days planes that fly at 33000 feet or something have fast mobile connections and Internet. They just cant ensure connectivity on the 24th floor. So when am home, I am living in a cage - no Internet (because of what I said above), no mobile (because Vodafone cant put a booster for just one house, even though my ARPU is like 5000 bucks and on top my sis knows EXACTLY the guy who can make it happen).

And when I am out, couple of days ago, Vodafone decided that I have exhausted all mobile data (even though their official app shows that I have data left) and I am downgraded to 2G. And no, I cant buy more packs as the packs are already active on my connection. So, all in all, I am pretty handicapped right now. My work is suffering - no I am not giving bahanas - I am just lamenting.

As a result, here I am. On a day when we are celebrating our constitution. Forced to workout from a business that is American and yet has found a way to operate in India. Irony much?

Anyhow. So, while we usher in the cashless economy and digital India (which I totally support), I remain in the dark ages. And I realise that I will continue to do so till the time I become someone who can influence things around him. For starters, grow the balls to tell the politician to fix things. I cant even do that. I choose to remain a faceless blog on the Internet and do a fucking candle-light march of the blogosphere.

And if you are living in an illusion, no, we are not yet free. We are not yet republic. We are and we shall remain in the dark ages till we sort us the people who cede the power and control and respect to a handful few.

Because of all this, my work suffer -- I refuse to budge down and get a connection from the said person (and Vodafone can't help). I refuse to give him my business. I know that my 1500 bucks a month is not significant to the billionaire politician (who apparently owns 2 benami flats in the said complex). I in my head is making a change. I dont know if this change will impact anyone in the long run. The point is, I am without an Internet connection. And there is no solution. Even if I throw money at it. So yeah. Damn!!

Over n out.

Posted from a Starbucks outlet - because they have a ISP that actually works. And no, its not owned by a politician. And no, the ISP is not Vodafone India.

Filed under: Urban Poor, First World Problems, Internet, Vodafone, ISP, Rant

365 New Chances

After the brouhaha about the new year got over, something else has seemed to settled in. The feeling of being inadequate. In the normal course of things, feeling of inadequacy is a great thing. You feel you are not working per your potential. You want to do more. You actually do more. You shift up the level. At the new level, you are inadequate all over again. And then you strive harder. It becomes a loop. Till the day you die. And you have lived a life where you have continuously upgraded yourself. You've sort of become someone who is known to push boundaries.

For this feeling, I dont know who / what to put the blame on. The weather in Mumbai is colder than it has ever been. No, it doesnt effect me per se but I think its making me lazy and sleepy the entire day. Or is it that the change in diet -- that I have forced myself is -- taking away my energy levels? I mean I havent added anything new per se - just that I am eating less of what I was eating all this while. Or may be its my nose that is troubling me -- I have these polyps that dont allow me to breathe properly and I have to breathe through my mouth -- making it tough to eat, sleep or even talk at times. Or may be its that damn pining for that special someone that is making me restless. Am I ready for committing to one person? Am I over sgMS? Or, or am I about to die? After all those yogis and rishis and everyone like that could sense that when their time was up!

Back to this in a bit. The other thing is that lately, I've noticed that I tend to forget things. I used to be great with names, places, people, little tit-bits that no one else noticed. These days I cant seem to remember anything for my life. The other day VG sent me a picture from a trip that we had made some 10 years ago - I dont recall much about the ride but the memories of that trip are classified under "best trips of life." and yet I cant remember it! Names and places tend to muddle up in my head. I cant recall conversations that I have had with clients - I've never needed to take notes but lately I am relying on them more and more. Yesterday someone asked me DOB of my parents and I had to check the fucking calendar to recall the dates! I met sgMS the other day and she was asking about the last time we kissed and I had no memory of it.

Ive always been the brainy kinds, a good student (till I was in school), anal about attention to detail. I judge people on the basis of sloppiness that they show when they work. I rate colleagues on the basis of their intelligence and IQ. Well, I know its shallow of me and all that. An organized person to me is an epitome of someone who's out there to make a meaning. Without a brain, I am sorry, there is no meaning. I understand that some people may have got dealt a bad hand in the Ovarian Lottery and got no brains there but thats ok - they may exist where they are - I want to be around people who are lucky. Luck begets luck.

Side note. No wonder I cant be with sgMS. She hit a jackpot with the Ovarian Lottery and I was barred from even buying a ticket. The way I look, the way I dress, I get stopped by guards even at the place where I live!

Coming back. This loss of memory or whatever it is has made me realize the plight of old people. for no fault of their own, they are suddenly invalids, not required. And that's not a cool thing. And age is anyway something that I loathe. I remain committed that the day I need someone to help me get on my feet, I will kill myself.

Zooming out. I dont know if all these (general drowsiness during the day, the nasal polyp, the longing for love, the feeling of inadequacy and the malfunctioning brain) point to something larger. Or I am making a mountain of a mole. The point is, there is no reasons for my dreariness and I cant pin point. I may claim to be a creative individual, I am for sure a Type A person. I want to know the reasons and I want to identify the causes. I want bloody answers for the general dissatisfaction. Or whatever it is. Ennui? Weltschmerz? I will never know!


But like all clouds, this one has a silver lining. A few things are working out in the year. I have made a few changes in how I live. Here's a list.

  • I am playing pool regularly (regularly is defined as 3 hours a week; a couple of years ago, it was poker). I remain committed to plan an Am tourney this year. 
  • I now have a great guitar tutor that comes once in two weeks. 
  • I started work on Book2. I will get it publishing-ready this year.
  • I am committed to getting in shape by end of this year. Will be 32" on 31 Dec 2017. And I know I am supposed to climb the Everest by 2025. 
Longer list of things for 2017 is here

Also, yesterday two super cool things happened.

A, I stumbled on this post by Nike where they had put this image up. It couldn't have come at a more opportune time. I am trying to make 2017 great. I am doing things that I haven't done ever. I may be a Tony Robbins deep down but I do need motivation once in a while and this one was just right. Plus I am reading finished reading Phil Knight's book on how he build Nike. It is so inspiring that I want to do it. I want to be Phil Knight. I want to create my Nike. Ok, lemme not digress. The book is so amazing that I wrote an entire blogpost on it. Will repub is here eventually.

Coming back. The point is that the new year greeting by Nike is spot on! Its a new year. It has 12 chapters. It's gonna give me, us, 365 opportunities. To make the year count. And we better make it count.

B. A friend of mine who I believe is a living testimony of all the 7 vices -- his biggest one being sloth -- said something strange.

Lemme give context. I was talking to him about acid and how I ought to try it (read this for "inspiration") to find my peak optimal performance levels. Normally, I would expect him to support me with such things. Afterall he is the biggest advocate of a life lived well and he is the epitome of hedonism (I couldnt recall the exact word and I had to come back before I write this; ref my memory loss). This guy, probably the most intelligent and most well-read of all my friends, few years ago, one fine day he decides that he doesn't want to work and he quit everything - his job, his family, his social circle. And then he tried all sorts of things - drugs, alcohol, women - think of a vice and he had tried it. He did it to the extreme that everyone, sort of, lost hope. I expected him to be sympathetic to my "cause" and help me score.

But no. Nada! He said something else altogether. He said something like, rather than these psychedelics drugs, focus on eating right, exercise and meditation.

I was shocked! I mean wow! Here's a man who most people around me consider lost, often I considered lost is talking sense the way sane people do! He then spoke of how he's back (he's one of the most talented people I know of) and he's trying to build his life back. He gave me hope. He gave me that ray of sunshine that winters in Mumbai needed. Lol. Winters in Mumbai. May be, clouds in my head. Or the Vitamin D deficiency - after all, I hate the sun!

So, if I dont try to go on the trip, I must thank or blame him (whatever may be the case). The blog is a testimony.

That's it for the time being.

After this long ranty post, here are two takeaways from me.

  • A. Pick up some tools, games, puzzles that help me work on my brain. Give it some exercise. Its a muscle after all. Or is it not? 
  • B. Like Nike said, I have 365 chances this year. 15 are gone (not really, I did work on those days). I have 350 more. How many will I take up? 

And most importantly, now that you've gone through the ordeal of reading these 1000 or so words, you know all about taking chances and all that. How many will YOU take up?

#in2017, I will

#in2017, I will do the following. In no order,

  • Make C4E amongst the best live entertainment businesses in the country. And subsequently, in the world. More about C4E is at https://medium.com/c4-entertainment.
  • Evolve AWSL into a brand consulting business. The website is not up yet but will be. 
  • Create a third revenue stream. When I say third, the first two are C4E and AWSL. In that order. 

  • Be 32" in girth. I am 36" as we speak. 
  • Finish a half marathon. 

  • Get back to drinking Diet Coke. Last I had a coke was in 2015. I wrote about it here. Update. I had 3 today itself.
  • Compete in an amateur pool tournament. Right now, I don't even know if we have Am tourneys in India. Know of some? Point me to them. 
  • Final table a poker tourney that has more than 50 entrants. 
  • Create a piece of public art. As of now, it looks like a coffee table book with Jayati. May or may not happen. 
  • Get a third passport booklet. There are 7 pages left in the second booklet. And there is one trip planned so far. Need to do 6 more. Got it in Sep. 
  • Buy a car. 

  • Complete #book2 and get it ready for publishing. 
  • Make onWriting.in a key player in the Indian publishing business. 

Dont know what categories to put this in. These are good to have, not MUST have. And this implies, others are MUST have. 
  • Attend a 10-day Vipassana session (I did one way back in 2009)
  • Teach
  • Fall in love

[Moon Shots]
  • Work towards The Everest
  • Find out ways to impact a billion lives.
  • Get to Rs. 1 crore in bank. Its still not a million but its almost 1/6th of that. A start. As of today, I have Rs. 11,942.73. Thats like 100x.
  • Read 50 books. The list of books I want to read is here. Tell me the ones I must read. Preferably non-fiction. 
  • Make tunnels ;P 

Thats all. Look a lot but it aint not too much if I remain focused. 'If' is the key operative here. 

You know a funny thing? The list looks ALMOST similar to the one I had made in 2015. So, in two years, I havent changed. Or grown up. Damn, Mr. Garg! Just that this time, with age, I seemed to have mellowed down. Most of these goals look realistic now. Except the moonshots. But thats what moonshots are for. No?

And for the record, here are similar posts from 20142013 and 2012.

What are your goals? Do you have a list? Share it with me? Lets work together and make this the best years of our lives? 

Saurabh Garg
1 Jan 2017

P.S. Apart from this tangible goals, I sent this letter to a few friends, colleagues and mentors. May be you will find this useful. In the letter I talk about 7 things that could help life get better. They are making the most of time we have left, finding the muse, reading, paying it forward, living a mindful life, getting a goal and start saying thank you. Most of my goals echo these 7 themes and I will keep reiterating these as I go along!

P.P.S.: #note2self, I must do a hits and misses post. Like I did in 2016.

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?