in2021, I will...

Hello hello! 

Time for the annual post. Where I look back at the year gone by and the year ahead. This has been an annual ritual for a few years. To be honest, I may or may not follow it (the excitement of the new year wanes off after a few weeks days) but I always come back to the yearly post when I am down in the dumps and I don't know what to do with my life. In 2020, I had to do that a lot. So I have seen the utility. 

So, without further ado, let's get to it. I will divide this into sections
  1. A recap of 2020
  2. Some lessons from the year gone by 
  3. Grand plans for 2021 
  4. Goals for 2021
Further, I will divide each into spheres of life - Personal (P), Social (S), and Work (W). Funny how Work is last. And thanks Vanita for this (and a lot of other things).  

Personal is further divided into Wealth, Health, Focus, Hobbies, #lifeGoal 
Social into Family, Friends, Strangers, Impact 
Professional into Work, Money

So, here we go...

1. Recap of 2020 

So, I have this running sheet where I track life as it happens to me. If I go by that, I should have got the following by the time 2020 ended…
  • At least 20 crores of free cash. Lol. 
  • A 4th passport booklet. If not for the pandemic, maybe I would have had this. 
  • 100K followers on Twitter. I have 4K odd as of the last count. 
  • 200 blogposts. I wrote 53. 

Plus, as per the plan that I made for 2020, I wanted to achieve these three tangible goals...
  • Book 2. I am VERY FAR from it. 
  • Complete a marathon in under 5 hours. Again, very very far. 
  • Make a business that has a topline of 50 crores. My network is actually negative as I write this. 

Even with the pandemic on us, I really think I could have done the first two easily. I had so much time, and at a place where I was fairly comfortable (204, Chitralekha). And yet I did not. I can blame it on the general fuckery happening in life and mindfuckness induced by the pandemic. I can blame it on how I was bereft of inspiration. I can blame it on a million other things but all these would be is blames. I think when I die, I would leave behind a trail of neverending blames. Sigh. 

Anyhow. 

Here is a month by month recap of 2020. Thanks to YearCompass for the template! 
  • Jan - Went on a trek after ages. Thanks to Shravan. Here's a pic
  • Feb - Saw ARR perform live. Thanks, Kila! Here's a pic.
  • Feb - Published a piece on The Ken. Was on my to-do since 2018 at least. 
  • Mar - Did my last event before we went into a lockdown.
  • Mar - Initiated thePodium.in. This is where we sort of sowed the seeds. 
  • Mar - Cooked for a few days for self. Realized I am inept with a kitchen
  • Apr - Had to take on debt to survive. The lowest point of my life ever. But then, grateful that I have people that are willing to lend to me. This allowed me to keep my tiny bunch of young warriors going. 
  • Apr - Attended sessions with Anjum Rajabali, thanks to Satyanshu Singh
  • Jul - Got to learn screenwriting from Boman Sir 
  • Jul - AKG 
  • Jul - Started NFG with AA and PK. This was big because I put myself on camera as a speaker for the first time ever for a public audience. Plus, I got to meet so many incredible people. Thanks, AA and PK.
  • Aug - Went on a tiny hike with the 5x5 bunch. Here's a pic for you. 
  • Sep - Successfully evaded the world! 
  • Oct - Took a shot at doing a startup. Couldn't even get it off the ground despite having a great partner and one of the most sought-after angel investors backing us up. 
  • Oct - Made my will
  • Oct - Tried to look for a Naukri and could not land even one interview. The second-lowest point of the year. Realized that the network and connections I take pride in may not be too helpful. 
  • Oct - Thanks to a couple of friends, got back to work. One project got over. The other is still happening. Not, not enough to keep going. But it's a start.
  • Oct - Got an opportunity to work very closely with someone who's made a REAL impact with his work. Can't talk more about it. Got this opportunity via Parijat. Thanks, Parry. 
  • Nov - Moved houses yet again. More about it is here
  • Nov - Spent 3 odd weeks in Delhi. I was in Delhi for this long after ages. Realized the fragility of life all over again and decided that I need to at least become a good son if I am unable to become an entrepreneur. So, will act on it this year. 
  • Dec - Been in Goa for 4 weeks now and so far, I like it. Thanks to Rajesh Sir for the kindness. 
  • Dec - Podium started making money. Thank you, for the kick in the back, Rashi
  • Dec - Lost faith in my approach towards creating work (a mere handshake, no contracts, etc). Don't want to write about it here but the very foundation of how I work has shaken. Here's some context
So that. 

I am sure I am missing on capturing a lot of other things that are as important. I of course started multiple side projects - Marketing Connect, 1 X 1000, Hero's Journey, Skinkredible, etc. I could not complete most of those. Plus there are more goods and bads that I am not publishing here. They are part of my YearCompass. Once I have started to fully embrace Living In Public (a large theme for #in2021), I would probably make the yearcompass public. For the time being, I shall let them remain hidden on paper. 

So, if I were to sum the year in one paragraph, I would say it was among the worst I had. I lost people I cared for, lost all my life's savings, lost my reputation. Of course, I am alive (and I am grateful) but that's about it. Thankfully, I am almost a stoic, and at the rare times when I tend to lean to extremes, I am the glass-half-empty kinds. So, yes I survived. Wish I did more than that. Wish I could affect more things. 

Moving on. 

2. So what are the lessons that am taking from the year gone by? 

Quite a few. Here they are. 

A. Need to build a reputation that allows me to walk into a room and tilt decisions in my favor. Right now, despite trying hard, it's tough to get things to come to me. Most work from what I know is an outcome of great relationships that you create with people. I have traditionally sucked at creating these relationships. Need to work on these. 

B. I need to ship. I think I did ship more things in 2020 than I ever did. When you walk into a room, you may have all the charisma but shit will only move if there is some precedence of your work. Plus, a large part of this shipping happened because I had great partners. Need to scale this by taking more shots and shipping more. 

C. Need to chase money. Even though a lot of my actions have been guided by money, I've hardly chased money per se. Probably this is why it has illuded me all my life. May be it needs to change this year? 

D.  I am average. I have realized that I am fairly average at things that I do (writing, talking, working) but then, I can be very very persistent with things. I can look at the big picture like no one else. I can imagine possibilities to an extent that no one else can. 

So hereon, I can go in two different directions. One, I get better at things. Thing. Choose one thing and give it all that I have. And see where it goes. Two, I can become the most reliable, most consistent, most out there, most approachable, most nice, most human hustler around. This one quality of being reliable is probably what is valued more than anything else. 

3. Brings me to 2021, the themes, and the plans. 

So these are the broad guidelines and themes on how I will live life going forward in 2021. No, this is not a road map of the action points. But guiding lights. North-star metrics. 
  • Make myself a priority. The thing is, I have lived all my life trying to create opportunities for others. I have always assumed that once they grow, they would support me (you know reciprocation, fairness, etc) but 2020 has taught me that this is not always true. So, in 2021, I will make myself a priority. 
  • Location independence. This may be an outcome of the recent stints in Delhi and Goa but I think I like this idea of not having a base. What if I become homeless? I have been toying with it for a while now but been on the fence - I like my comfort! But this trip to Goa seems to be solidifying it! This also means I will have to reduce attachments to people and material things. 
  • Financial freedom. Need to get back to being debt-free. And then reach a point where I don't have to make decisions based on economic criteria. 
  • Living in Public. Live an honest, open, transparent, public life. Where my personality, brand, thoughts, actions et al are all authentic, consistent, coherent, and in-sync. I will not have to make pretenses when I talk to people. I will be out there and the world can take a call based on what they see. This is big on my agenda. 
  • Build an audience. Of course, if you have an audience, you can do what you want to. The lesson I have learned from 2020 is that you don't need to be a movie star to be able to attract an audience. You could be a blogger (no, not the influencer kinds) and yet have an audience. Clubbed with living in public, this could actually be a path to freedom - financial and emotional.

Of course, all those things that I have stood for in life (fairness, openness, giving things the best, being culturally sensitive, creating a positive impact, etc) remain. If during the year, something changes from that list, I will report. 
 

4. And here are the things that I will do, #in2021. AKA, Tangible Goals for 2021 

I know that this has to be a tangible list and not all goals for 2021 may have tangibility built-in. I will try to add that variable as much as I can. 

Here we go. 

A. Brand SG. Personal / Focus
I have been thinking way too hard on this the past few months. Especially during the pandemic. And I know that I need to get this going for me. The trouble is that I don't know what I want to stand for. There are way too many things that I am way too excited about. I guess like Gaurav Kapil told me, I will have to go thru the pain of letting go of things if I want to be singularly good at something! 

Lemme give an example. 

As I write this, I am in Goa and I like it here. The trouble is I don't make money and this is not sustainable. Maybe I will try and find gainful work here and if I do, I will move here. This means I will have to probably quit my dreams to make films? And if I were to make films, I would probably not leave a large impact on humanity! You get the drift? 

So, I want to be better known this year. I don't know how to. And I don't know what for. Let's see. For the time being, I think the tangibles could be to become part of LinkedIn's Top Voice of the year and/or get to 100K followers on Twitter.

B. Get to a debt-free state. Personal / Wealth
The thing is, it is weighing on my head like nothing else. This is the first time I had to take debt after I took an education loan at MDI. I have never taken money for vehicles, houses, holidays, etc. I have taken working capital loans for servicing work. But never a personal debt. 

I need to get debt-free. And if this requires me to quit everything and focus on just one, I will do it! 

And when I do manage to get debt free, try and create multiple income streams and eventually chase financial freedom. 

C. Book 2. Personal / Hobbies
This has been on my annual plans for like 10 years now. This year, I will do it. Come hell or high water. Lol. 

Here's the thing. If I don't have the book, I will stop calling myself a writer. 

D. Run a Marathon Personal / Fitness 
Again, something that's been on my plans for years now. So much so that I have lost bets and bought Vivek a phone (which he did not accept). This year may be. Grinning while writing this cos am sipping onto a Diet Coke :D 

E. A project a month. Personal / Hobbies
I have had this funny notion that apart from all that I do, I need to ship 12 projects this year. Each of these has to be public, shippable, and scalable. And these need to have a monetization opportunity for sure. So that. For example, I could scale NFG. I could build Shumbur.com. I can look at doing smaller things in Goa that allows me to build relationships. I also want to finish all the writing projects that I had started over the years (100 Rejections in a year, 100 Thank Yous, 1 X 1000, etc). And so on and so forth. So that. 

While we are the subject of 12 projects, I am extremely excited (and jealous) of Swanand's one-year sabbatical project. Do check it out. 

F. Learn to dance. Personal / Hobbies
Kidding you not. 
I really want to learn. 
If not bhangra, then bachata. 
And if not that, freestyle. But I have to. 

G. Work. Professional / Work
Lol, always at the end! 
In terms of work, I am not sure where I'd be in this year. I have been and want to stay a Jack of all trades. But I now see that being a Jack may not lead me to even one of the goals / themes that I have listed above. So I may need to drop everything and focus on one. 

But then thanks to the curse of curiosity and mediocrity, I am average at a lot of things and thus find it impossible to choose just one. As of today, I do all this. And more. 

I know that I need to probably pick one. But I don't know what. Or how. 

I am leaning towards doing a media piece or get back to pushing the envelope on the events. Not sure. Will update this as and when I have some clarity. I am giving myself till the end of Jan for this. After that whatever catches my fancy the best, I will chase that. 

Come on, universe! 

4.1 This year on, I will also quit with a few things that I have stayed attached to all my life. 

Here is a list... 
 
- Guitar. 
No, I was never good at it. I never knew how to play one, except the C chord. I did have the romantic notion of being able to play music like rockstars but I understand that it will not happen in this lifetime. I even tried it during the lockdown but lost interest. 

So I am giving up on it. And on Uke. Sorry, Vivek and Krishna. This means I will give em away. If any of you wants it, tell me why should I give you these two things that two of the dearest friends got me. 

I may pick it up again if I live long enough. But quitting for the time being. 

- sgElectra. 
I am ready to move on from it. 
Will hand it over to M (of the M&m fame) and she can choose what to do with it. 

- Relationships. 
No more attachments No more drama. No more putting myself on the sidelines.

4.2 And here are a few things that I want to do for others

This is an incomplete list but I really want to do these things... 
  • Get PM a larger team so that the mission she is on is easier to achieve. 
  • Get SJ a Jag. Among other things.
  • Get a house to PY. 
  • Get SS to revenue. 
  • Get SG a sustainable revenue source. 
  • Move parents in with me. This means I will have to have enough to have two houses next to each other. And not in Delhi, please. This is the first time I am making this public. 
Each of these "get" is essentially me playing a tiny part in their efforts as they work to find their destiny. Plus, each of these people are very very important to me and I need to do whatever it takes to make them happy and all. Yeah, all these are part of Social / Family

I also want to mentor 100 kids this year (Social/Impact). I don't know where to find these and what to do with these. Let's see. 

4.3. Finally, here are some moonshots... 

Moonshots are those things that would most probably not happen, but I would still gun for those.
  • Become a venture capitalist (Social / Impact). At a time when every nukkad wala baniya is one. Every kid (that has a rich father) is a VC now. Every professional with more than 10 years of experience is one. But then, I sincerely believe that I can be good with capital allocation, especially in terms of impact. Let's see.  
  • Adopt an old bungalow and convert it into a cultural hub of sorts that creative people can call home. Maybe replicate it across the world. Like Soho House but far more affordable and far more meaningful. Got inspired by this person. Part of Personal / Curiosity.
  • Travel to Japan. It's been on my radar for a while. Now that AD has a place there, I can shack up! 
  • Get a car. May be something that allows me to pack all that I own into it and live on the road for good! Won't be a bad idea. Personal / Hobby.
  • Script a film. Personal / #lifeGoal. Lol!

So, that's about it. 

Hope 2021 is the greatest year for all of us. I plan to send quarterly updates on this. Let me know if you'd like to receive these. Till then, over and out. 

Oh, in case you need me to help you with any of your yearly plans, please please do let me know. 

Saurabh Garg
9 Jan 2021
Goa

PS: I use the following tools this time around: YearCompass (free), Vision Board (a simple document where I pin things that I want to come true. I used to have a physical board, now I have a Google Slides), Jan 1 Sheet (a Google Sheets where I capture all key things in life and it tells me that I have less than 1930 days to go for my top 3 #lifegoals), 2020 page on Roam

PPS: In case you are curious, here are yearly posts from previous years - 2020, 2019, 2018, 2017, 2015, 2014, 2013, and 2012. I am sure there are documents from 2011 and earlier but I will have to dig hard. 

PPPS: No, please don't tell me that everyone else had a bad year as well. My house does not run on how I fare compared to others. 

PPPPS: To be able to do these, I would lean on SJ2. I will have a tracker that lists the process and my adherence to it. 

PPPPPS: As always these are very very lofty goals and even if I get to a fraction of what I have documented, I will be sorted in life. So, let's see. 

PPPPPPS: Thanks to Akshay, Vanita, Vivek for reading early drafts of this and helping me think better. 

The tiny shift and a giant revolution

Human history is dotted with numerous incidents that felt like tiny, insignificant nudges at the time but fast forward a few years and these tiny nudges were found to be the tipping points of revolutions that shifted the way us humans move around. 

One such tiny nudge happened a couple of days ago when I got myself a sub-15K, Android Phone.

Now, this sounds like a tiny thing. Even trivial. After all, more than 89% of the country has these sub-15K phones and they seem to be getting by fine. I am definitely not special and thus this big deal that I am making out of a cheap phone is not called for. 

But maybe it is! 

Lemme try and explain. 

Few facts first.

A. I am a heavy user of mobile devices. So much so that I spend about 12 hours a day on a phone. At least since 2013, the device and OS of choice has been Apple (and iOS), barring a few days when I did not have one available. 

B. I am the greatest creature of habit I know. That means that I am used to working in a certain manner and with shortcuts that are now so ingrained in my muscle memory that to change those would be like attempting to climb Mt. Everest. Well... 

C. I have prioritized things that make my life simpler over things that make my life fancier. This means I don't have a lot of clothes but whatever I have are from brands that I know offer comfort, durability, and yet are affordable to me. 

This affordable bit is important to explain. I can't afford a Jimmy Choo. But I can afford a Crocs, a Cotton World. A Fabindia. I know these may be premium and expensive for a lot of people. But to me, these are affordable. Just like Jimmy could be affordable to a lot of people. 

And these are affordable because I do not spend on other things that add fanciness to life and most others find important. Things like multiple pairs of shoes, hundreds of dresses for various occasions, those knick-knacks that we try and gather around when we travel. So on and so forth.

So, to me, an Apple device is like that. May be it sells at a premium for a lot of people. I make it affordable for me. And I save for it. I know that it would help me work better, and would last longer. And will not cause frustration by going slow on me! 

D. I am irrational. I like to overpay for things. And especially for those that I know are made with thoughtfulness and offer quality and have been made with love. Just like Apple devices. Or Crocs. Or Nike. Even Kurutoga. Air Vistara. Starbucks. 

So now, here's the explanation about the new Android device that I got. 

IMHO, in buying this device, I have had to compromise on the ethos that I stand for. Yeah, I am one of those weirdos that like to consume brands that are in sync with personal ethos. I don't know a lot but I do try to be conscious about brands that I consume. I try to read about them. I try and understand where they stand on things like innovation, originality, design etc. I like to see what goes behind building and delivering what they do. You know, if they have a soul and not just a facade. 

Apple fits into my ethos. But a hardware manufacturer that makes cheap phones, hoping to imitate the brilliance of Apple, is not. Android is ok, except that I am not sure how to make it work for me - way too complicated and too much. If I were 18, I would probably love Android. But at my age, I prefer simplicity and speed and all that. 

And why did I get this device if its a problem? 

I have a one-word answer. Majboori. What majboori? Well, ask my echoChamber.

What's next?

Of course get back to a iOS as soon as I can! 

Inshallah, soon. 

When is enough, enough?

Today, I have a serious question that I need an answer to. And like all times when I don't know where to go for counsel, I turn to my blog.  

The question is, when do you think you know you've tried enough? How long can you continue to try to make things work when you know that the other side is not reciprocating at all? When do you give up if you know that all the effort you are making will eventually go down the drain?

I don't know how to explain the predicament that I am in without going into specifics. But I need answers and I am out of clues and I don't know who else to ask. And thus this post. Hoping that while I talk in this echochamber, I will get an answer.

Side note. Since I discovered the joys of Roam, I have started to post more and more of these echochamber posts there. But this one, for some reason, I thought I should post here. In the pseudo-anonymous wilderness of the Internet. So, here we go. 

So I am in this situation with a project that is super dear to me. It seems to be slipping away. In the sense that I would lose the project and with it all the effort that I have put in the last 3-4 years. And all the hopes of a peachy future over the next 30-40 years.

And since this project is super dear to me (for multiple reasons - emotional, financial, egotistical, and more), I want to give it all and prevent it from failing. 

Now, of course, there are things that are beyond my control when you work in this VUCA world, and to prevent failure I probably need to do a lot more than what I am already doing. 

Which to be honest I am. 

I am doing more than I have ever done for any project. In terms of tann, mann, and dhan! I am not being myself and doing things that are uncharacteristic of me. For example, I am being polite, considerate, value-adding, tolerant, understanding, and all that. I am that desperate to make this happen! 

However despite my earnest, sincere and desperate attempts, nothing seems to be helping me get the project back on track. To a point that am this close to writing it off as a bad investment and moving on. But then, dil to bachcha hai ji and log kya kahenge and all that. 

This project was going to be my life's work and I can see it go down the drain. Without any dramatic music playing in the background. Without any loud splashes. Like a flame that is fading away. And it is the most painful thing ever. I mean you have hopes pinned that when you die, you would sleep for the final time with the knowledge that you have added some value! 

Even thought I've read all the economics that an average bloke may, I want to ignore the sunk cost fallacy and not want to let go of things. I want to keep trying. And I am. And as a result, I have started to bleed from self-inflicted wounds. I mean I am probably throwing more good money behind bad. But I am. 

What sucks all the more is that I thought this was a sure shot, lifelong passive income kind of thing. It wasn't when it started. But it was growing up into this beautiful thing that showed immense potential. And thus I gave it all I had. And more. I borrowed money for it. I lied to the world about it. I made it my priority. 

And all these in hopes of reaching a point where all the sacrifices I've made would start making sense and there would be some light at the end of the tunnel and all that. 

But I guess it's not meant to be.

The question that I want an answer to is, what do you do in such a scenario? 

Do you just give up? And at least get your self-respect back and go back to being yourself and not worry about posing as someone who you are not! 

Or do you just walk away without thinking about the loss? 

Or you listen to those people that say that you need to happen to things (and not otherwise), and go happen to things and do whatever is possible to make it work?

And irrespective of my giving up or not, what lesson do I take back from this loss? 

Do I henceforth chase only those things where the outcome is certain? Or do I do things for the sake of doing without expecting on the outcome? You know, like that king Krishna spoke of about doing the karma and not worrying about rewards? 

Heck, I did not even know that I was capable of getting this emotional about things! 

I have always tried to be stoic and this rant, this post, this feeling of loss, this heartburn, the general sadness that seem to have engulfed me like the thick Delhi fog is teaching me that I am still a million miles away from being the stoic SOB! 

Damn!

Smita Patil - Unofficial Biography

Hello! So somehow I stumbled onto the life of Smita Patil and I was so fascinated that I got reading about her. The output was this Twitter thread. Here's the same thread, in the shape of an essay (originally published on SaurabhGarg.com). 


Smita Patil was an actor par excellence and above all, an extraordinary human being. She lived for all of 31 years but her legacy HAS to stay around for 31 millennia at least and this is an attempt towards that. 

If I could sum her life in 3 bullet points, I'd say, she was/is...
  • - a study in contrasts
  • - deeply compassionate, especially towards under-represented (indie filmmakers, feminists, the common folk)
  • - fearless, spoke her mind and lived life on her own terms

Lemme elaborate.

Wait. Before I start, I think she was probably not meant to be even born! 

Smita was the second child of Shivajirao Patil (a politician) and Vidyatai Patil (a social-worker/nurse). However, when her mother was pregnant with Smita, their financial condition was unstable and her mother was reluctant to continue with the pregnancy when she conceived Smita. Even when the mother went ahead with Smita, she was born premature baby (on 17 Oct '56). 

Legend says that when she was born, she had an angelic smile on her. Her mom named her Smita. Smita means "ever-smiling woman". And since she was dusky, her mother endearingly called 'Kali' or its appendages like 'Kaloba' and 'Kaluli'. 

Most of her friends call her Smi though. I will take the liberty of calling Smi in this post. 

Smi, as long as she lived, had a very strong and important relationship with her mother. Smi would often quip (in Marathi), “Tula mi nako hote na” (you didn’t want me, right?). Nothing could be far from the truth. Smi's mother has been a pivotal figure in her life. She in fact raised Prateik (Smita Patil's son) when Smi passed away at the young age of 31.

Growing up, Smi's family was based in Pune and was part of "Rashtriya Sewa Dal" where they'd travel to towns and villages across India and performed dance dramas. She'd play the role of Jijabai (Shivaji's mother). This was her early tryst with dance, acting, stage, and everything else that we know her for!

How did she get into films? Well, luck! 

One of her friends, Deepak Kirpekar, was a hobbyist photographer and would take pictures of Smita Patil in various outfits. Since the photographer's friend was a newsreader on DD (Jyotsna Kirpekar), the couple would often go to the DD office at Worli, in Mumbai. Once while they were there, the office was getting renovated and the friend spread Smita's photos on a makeshift table, while his wife was busy. These photos caught the eye of then DD director, P.V. Krishnamurthy. 

He invited Smi to audition and the rest is, well, history!

Smi started as a newsreader on DD and she was so good with her husky voice and magnetic eyes that people would rush home to catch her show! One of these was actor Vinod Khanna, who was romantically involved with Smi at a point in time.

Cut to FTII. 

A couple of students (one of them was Arun Khopkar) were looking for actresses for their Diploma Film. They asked Shabana Azmi but she was unavailable. They were lost and went walking around the FTII campus. They passed by a TV shop where the bank of TV screens was tuned onto Smita Patil, reading the news! They were stuck by "defined cheekbones and striking eyes" and decided to cast her. 

They did not know who she was but they tracked her down and convinced her to do a role in 'Teevra Madhyam'. This film is on Youtube! See it here

Post that film, Smi got to work on some roles for Shyam Benegal. These included Charandas Chor (a children's film), and Nishant (Smi shared the screen with Shabana Azmi in this one). 

Later, Benegal signed her for Bhumika, which was based on the life of Marathi actor Hansa Wadkar and her struggle to cope with her career, love, and independence. For this role, Smi won the National Award for the best actress (in 1977).

This film made her realize that films were her calling. And there was no stopping her. 

Three years later she won her second National Award, this time for Chakra (in 1980). It is said that she donated all the money that she got as the award to women's causes. She also won a Filmfare for this film (in 1982). Oh, random trivia - Nasserdduing Shah was her co-actor in both films. And years later, the two of them also auditioned for an adaptation of Gandhi. 


Her string of awards did not stop here. 

She was conferred with a Padma Shri in 1985, one of the youngest (if not THE youngest) film personalities to be awarded. The Government of India ever released a postage stamp honoring her! 


As an actor, she chose to do experimental, small, and art films over commercial ones. 

She would do films for free or tiny sums if she liked the subject and content. Case in point? Bhavani Bhavai (in 1980). The film explored caste-discrimination in Gujarat and Smi did it because she believed in the underlying theme and message of the film.

She eventually did foray into commercial cinema. She did only to expand her acting prowess. Plus she believed that if she becomes famous, she could support small filmmakers more! After all her audience would be curious to see smaller films if they featured her. She apparently said, “commercial film is a job I have to do in order to pursue my goal of helping create an audience for the small film in India.”

Even with commercial cinema, Smi refused to do films that underplayed the role of women. 

Namak Halal is a noteworthy exception. 

The 'Aaj Rapat Jaaye' track apparently pained her immensely. She was reportedly very upset with the song and after it was shot, she locked herself up in her room and cried for hours. It was only AB who could put her at ease! 

Anyhow. She did about 80 films. About 10 of those were released after she passed away. She was paired frequently with Rajesh Khanna. And with Raj Babbar (RB).  

In Mahesh Bhatt’s Arth, Smi's character loves a married man and wants to settle down with him. Ironically, the theme played out in her real life as she fell in love with RB, a married man with two kids!

Smi was married to Raj Babbar (RB) and like other things in her life, it probably wasn't meant to happen! 

Why? 

Well, for starters, RB was already married to Nadira. Second, her mother was unhappy about it. She apparently said, "I can't get out of our purana sanskar nor can I embrace contemporary morality fully." Plus, it may not have mattered to her but the very feminist institutions that she supported, labeled her "ghar todne wali" once the news broke.


But Smi and RB persisted and eventually married. Oh, and RB was still married to Nadira at this time. A big deal in Indian society. And more so in those times! 

Years later, RB said about Smi, "I would say that she was a bit mizaazwali (this is being said with all the respect and humility towards her)" 

And so yes she was! 

PS: I must add that there are unsubstantiated reports that she apparently had a turbulent, emotionally abusive marriage with RB. She reportedly planned to leave him after childbirth. Not sure of this though. 

Smi was "delighted" when she became a mother. Here is an anecdote. Soon after PB was born, she developed a high fever (104 degrees). She put ice packs on her body and fed him! 

PS: I can write a LOT about the early days of Prateik Babbar and how he coped with the loss of her mother! But I think I would skip it.

Smita Patil is probably the most remarkable person I have come to know. I don't even know how to get started talking about her. 

People that knew her to call her bindaas, bohemian, and Tom-boy-ish. And yet she stood for women's rights and the early feminism movement. Even though she would play tough, conservative roles on screen, in real life, she was the polar opposite! She was a typical bindass girl, "very liberated and progressive in her thoughts and work." She was fond of western clothes and wore off-shoulder dresses, halter tops, fitted trousers, and boots in contrast to her screen image in perfect handloom sarees.

For her news gigs, she would go to the studio in her jeans and shirt and wrap the saree neatly just minutes before the camera rolled in! 

Her mother once said, "She used to dress like a bhikaran (a tramp). She'd wear a pair of jeans, pull on a kurta (even her father’s), Kolhapuri chappals, tie her hair into a bun and rush out. She never needed a mirror. Once she was to meet a well-known editor for an interview at a restaurant. He couldn't recognize her. He kept waiting for 'actress Smita Patil', till she introduced herself. They both burst out laughing."

Smi was dedicated to women’s causes and women empowerment and wanted to change the perceptions about women. She was part of the Women’s Centre in Bombay and contributed the money earned from her awards to women’s organizations. This link is a great read about her support for the feminist movement.

I have to say that unlike most of her co-stars, she belonged to the people! Apart from taking a vocal stand for feminist causes and indie & small filmmakers, she truly was a gem a human being. She treated everyone with respect. She could be found playing volleyball with the unit boys. 

She would sit with the women of the village to catch breaks between shoots and was often unrecognizable to the public who had come to see her. Smi was a vegetarian and did not complain even at tough locations. If required, she would cook her own food, by borrowing things from the villagers. 

Once there was a rebellion in one of the units on a shoot. The workers were demanding better food. Smi tackled and ended by announcing and eating the same red rice that they were served! 

Even as a child, she was deeply compassionate. She'd bring stray cats and dogs home and feed them with milk and biscuits. She would personalize her gifts. She would write something special to make the gift special.

Smi was fond of photography, roads, drives, and adventure in general. The minute pack-up would be announced, she’d zip off! She once took off to Rajasthan and gave no explanation, no reason to anyone. When she came back a month later, she had a heap of photos she had shot on her Leica.



Once during monsoons, Smita drove Ashalata, another actress, at neck-break speed to Khandala. She jested with the scared Ashalata and said, "Imagine the fun if tomorrow the headlines carry, 'Smita and Ashalata died in a car crash'!"

Other trivia about Sri before we move on? Well, she... 
- wanted to be a director
- contributed to production and costumes
- came up with "Genesis" as the name for the new company of the veteran adman, Prahlad Kakkar.

Smi loved the sea and she wanted a sea-facing flat and yearned to enjoy the rain splashing through open windows. On her visits to see the house she was building, she would have chai from the kettle along with the workers. In fact, Smi wanted these very workers to be the first guests in her home! And they were indeed the first guests. Just that Smi had passed away by then!

The end of this fascinating life is also intriguing like the rest of it. During the shooting of Situm (1984), a handwriting expert apparently said that "She won't live long!". She herself had this uncanny 6th sense, apparently. She had a premonition about AB's Coolie accident the night before it happened! About her own life, at different times in her life, Smi apparently told...
- her younger sister that she wouldn't live long
- Mahesh Bhatt that the lifeline was short

the most freaky she told ... 
- Poonam Dhillon that she'd die at 31! 

And boy, was she right? She did die at the age of 31. Her son was all of 2 weeks old at the time.  

The most commonly held belief is that Smi died of Viral Encephalitis and most reporters write it as complications arising from childbirth. I am not sure of this though. Plus there are accounts that she died from medical negligence. And there are murmurs of murder. No, this is NOT substantiated at all. 

I'd say the cause of death is a mystery. 

Once Smi told a friend (Deepak Sawant) that when she died, she wanted to be sent off as a “Suhagan”. And as per her wishes, she was indeed decked up like a bride on her last journey.

Random Trivia - DS has worked for decades with AB as well.

As I wrap this piece about Smi, I want to mention two people here. 
- Shabana Azmi (SA)
- Prateik Babbar (PB)

A. Shabana Azmi
SA and Smi started their careers almost at the same time and they had this rollercoaster relationship. SA apparently said they "were good colleagues who could never be friends." Further, SA said, "She was born for the camera. It lingered over her face and she held it captive without the slightest effort. I felt both challenged and inspired by her as a co-actor. She was also very feminine and deeply traditional, at times easily intimidated. I think it’s these contradictions that were both her strength and her weakness. But it was also this that made her an artist who will always be spoken of when the finest actors of Indian cinema are counted."

B. Prateik Babbar
I can write a LOT about the early days of PB and how he coped with the loss of her mother! But I think I would skip those. Have to mention that PB was raised by Smi's mother. 

As I end this, two things stand out about Smita Patil. 
1. She is if not THE MOST, one of the most remarkable women I've ever come across.
2. It's uncanny how her Reel and Real lives were so similar and so starkly different! 

That's about it. Thanks for indulging. 

Oh, who would you want to read about next?
 
DISCLAIMERS 
  1. 1. All photos from Google / FB searches. I did not save the sources. Regret the laziness.
  2. 2. All info from online research that I did over a few days.
  3. 3. I don't mean to slander. Am merely presenting what I found online. If I am wrong, please do point out.
  4. A lot of this has come from various reports, press releases around the time Maithali Rao's book on Smita Patil came out (on Smi's 60 birth anniversary). It's titled Smita Patil, A Brief Incandescence. No, I have not read this. 

PS: There are talks of someone making a biopic on her life. When it comes out, I will be there. The first day, first show. I am that smitten with her!

PPS: Secret wish to Universe - I'd love to work on crafting the biopic!

Other things that I did not know how to include in the essay?  
  • Smita did not know English as a child. She learned it herself by reading Hadley Chase novels and through her friends
  • Smi would frequent FTII to see evening screenings with friends. In fact, she was so regular and frequent and commonplace, some people mistook her for a student/alumni.

Links that I read to come up with this essay? 
These are not in any order

The House Hunt Decision

This is that time of the year. NO! Not that time when there is this festive cheer in the air and everyone is happy and smiling and cheerful and in the celebration frame of mind. But the time when I go through the annual ritual of looking for a house that's good enough in my opinion and affordable enough in my pocket's opinion and unobtrusive in my friends' opinion and accessible enough in Mumbai traffic's opinion. 

You would've guessed that the combination is as rare a find as life's purposes are. 

And you would've guessed that the over-optimistic me would do whatever it takes to look for a place. Just that this time, the amount of money I want to shell out is like one-third of what I would normally do. And thus I am crunched on the decision.

And lemme vomit my thoughts on how I am thinking about this. You know, am trying to make a decision in public (without giving you the specifics).  

So here are some questions that I ask myself before I start looking for a house. 

I believe if I have to save time or money, I must do whatever it takes to save time. Money I can earn. Time I cant. And thus, I ought to choose an option that gives me more time. This often means living close to the city center. This also means that living close to public transport nodes (even though I may not use those a lot) 

Second, I believe that you need to live as close to the ecosystem as you can. If not bang in the middle. This allows you to create serendipity. You can meet newer people and it is meeting with people that opens doors. 

Assuming you want to live in India, here are some places where you could live... 

  1. You want to do a startup? Live in Bangalore, at Koramangala, or at Whitefield. Or BTM. 
  2. You want to make films? Live in Andheri West. Or Malad. 
  3. Want to be a politician? Delhi. 
  4. Want to be an Athlete? Depending on your sport, pick a hub. 
  5. Want to be happy? Live next to your family, even if they are in a village! 
Before it pops in your head, no, I don't think that this entire remote work and work from home would make these hotspots redundant. Maybe SoCal would change. But most of the hotspots would not change. In fact, with time, newer hotspots may emerge, if at all the old one shift. If I had enough foresight to figure out the next hotspots, I would move there.

Third. It is very very important for me to feel good when I come back home. Or if I am holed up in my home for extended periods of time. Now, for most people, this is taken care of if they live with their families - after all, its people that make a house home. For someone like me who is not capable of keeping relationships beyond a few nano-seconds, I need to rely on other things that make me feel good when I come back! 

These three withstanding, I made a list of other things that are important to me in a house. Here's a list. 

  • Large space, open layout (less clutter, less furniture), higher floor (so that I may stare at the world)
  • New-ish building (so that I don't have to worry about pests, leaky faucets, etc), less than 10-years of vintage, 
  • A balcony (I love sitting out)
  • Access to a Starbucks (really - this is very important)
  • Connectivity (I love meeting people and I need to be able to commute easily)
  • Neighbors that are not nitpicky. 
I kid you not, I have an excel sheet with all these variables listed on it. And all these variables have a weight allocated (depending on the importance of that variable to me. For example, a new building has the highest weight and neighbors have the lowest). And each time I make a decision, I play with the numbers to arrive at the decision.  

Of course, I could have made enough money that I did not have to care about the rent and would have maxed all the variables. Like SRK, I would have had a Starbucks in the very building I lived in! But then, life's like that. You cant get everything you want and you need to juggle around to find the combination that works for you. 

So, coming to the challenge at hand, the new house that I need to move into, in less than 10 days, I am trying to, well, juggle around things till I find a match that works for me. That means I have explored options in Andheri, Thane, Kandivali (and beyond), Madh Island. I am yet to explore places like Chembur and Kanjurmarg and all. 

I am yet to finalize on any but the two that seem to make the cut are, 1, a smallish one-bedroom house in Andheri and 2, a little bigger than a smallish one-bedroom house in Thane. 

The one in Andheri is 2X the price and about half the size of the one in Thane. And while I am tempted to take up the place in Thane (thanks to COVID and general fuckery of how I run my life, it would be a stretch to afford the place in Andheri) and pay less and get more space, I am not sure if I want to. It is VERY far from any place that I want to be at. Place. Not people. 

Place - I want to live near the city center and amp up my odds of serendipity. If Thane was a hub for any of the disciplines I am interested in (films, startups, marketing), Hiranandani Estate would have been ideal. But I am not sure what I'd get access to there apart from the world's best Rajma Chawal that a friend makes (she lives in Thane). Unrelated but she's lived in places like Malad and Kandivali over the years and I have traveled to those places to stuff myself with her Rajma Chawal. 

People - I don't know if this is good or bad, there is no one person that I want to live close to. Neither is there a thing that I want to live close to. Most other people want to live close to their friends, offices, families, etc - I don't have any such connections, may be except Myra.  

So, while the amount of money I want to pay may dictate where I end up, it would be very very unfortunate if I can not close on a place in Andheri. Or may be in Bandra. Or Goa for that matter (which I was VERY strongly considering, till I realized that there is no work for a generalist like me there - a topic from another post on another day). 

For the time being, it's over and out. Wish me luck :) 

Tweets vs Blogposts

Hola! 

If you are a longtime reader of this blog (or blogs in general), you would know how blogging as a hobby has been sort of replaced by things like Instagram, tweets, and so on and so forth. Both in general and for me. And how blogging is now a lot more "content marketing" where companies pay peanuts to desk monkeys to churn out words that trap those search engine spiders logs. And how the "content" that is created does not really do anything good to any reader, even if they may want to read about that topic. And how there is so much content that it's impossible to filter noise and signal; assuming you know what is signal for you! And how long-form writing by non-writers is dying a slow death? 

It's sad that so many people sharing so many deeply personal anecdotes with so many strangers is all gone. I mean it's now moved to Twitter and Instagram and all that. But I am not sure how many people are blessed with the talent to push their thoughts in mere 280 characters (or maybe 2200 for Insta). I, at least cant. Not that gifted. May be if I work hard on writing, I may learn the art of brevity? 

And this is why I have kept the blog alive. And this is why I love the idea of writing letters (come, be my pen pal?). And this is why I like the idea of journaling, diary entries, notes, etc. 

The thing is, a blog allows me to push my unfiltered thoughts, things I am thinking on, things I am working on, things I seek opinion on. And put those somewhere on the world wild web. For others to see and respond to and allow me to think better.

I miss those times when I'd be brimming with ideas about the blog posts that I'd want to write. I'd have a draft folder thicker than all the 7-8 Harry Potter books combined. And I'd look forward to publishing posts and wait with bated breath for that one rare comment that I would get once in a month or two. It was another level of exhilaration. Something that the Twitter generation would never know - after all, tweets are far faster to engage with :)

Anyhow. 

So, today, I am thinking about where do I want my content to go (this is what I'd do with my blog - write write write till I get tired; vomit out all my ideas, thoughts here; and since the blog is in the public domain, I'd try harder to put forth better arguments; and by the time I was done writing, I'd have some sort of clarity). Here is my attempt to think with my words. 

And, with that, here we go. In no order... 

1. In the times to come, unless you are a media company (even as an individual), you'd lose out. As a business, as an individual, as even a rock or a vegetable. Stories, media, content would help you stay relevant. 

You thus have to think like a media company and churn out content that is valuable and interesting and all that. 

2. The entire idea of 1000 True Fans would be far far more relevant in the times to come. Creators (a word I used when I applied for Gumroad's gig for customer service) would live lives that they want and will rely on patrons to support them with micro-transactions, micro-donations. And with time, you would see more and more people go down the creator route. We are already seeing the likes of Patreon, Onlyfans, etc allowing people to create economically sustainable lives. 

3. As someone who likes to straddle multiple things and at some point in time make an impact for a billion people, I need to be very very good with words. After all, words do move mountains. And these words will open doors for me, allow me to know more people, satiate my curiosity, and so on and so forth. 

In one word, my words will give me access. And thus I need to get more active and more aggressive with this! 

4. If a picture is worth a thousand words, a video is worth a thousand pictures. So, to improve the output by a 1000x1000, I need to pivot to doing videos at some point. Not sure though when.

PS: Thanks, Annkur for the nudge. Do tell me what would you want to see on a video from me. 

5. Right now, my content is scattered at multiple places - my own website, medium, blog, Mailchimp, tiny letter, substack, and more. And with each passing day, these platforms are only going to grow and more platforms would come in. And thus the content will scatter even more. 

And as a result, my patrons (and the ones I want to get access to) would probably not find what they are looking for! 

So I need to find a solution to this. May be I will use the website to showcase the best work and one blog destination to dump these thoughts? I don't know yet. 

6. Continuing with the scatteredness, it is no secret that I am a scatterbrain. My writing, output, and other things are spread too thin. I talk about marketing, entertainment, content, podcasts, entrepreneurship, writing, habits, notes, poker, and a million other things. 

And thus there is no way I can give a consistent experience to readers that are interested in just one genre. I mean if you are a filmmaker, you may want to read what I had to write about The Trial of the Chicago 7 but why would you read about how I refuse to have a kitchen at my home? Or that walking barefoot is the thing you need to practice but living in a city like Mumbai, it's literally impossible! 

So once I know what and how and where all I am writing, there has to be a way for people to identify "tracks" they want to consume and they must be able to go down that path easily. For example, when you are subscribing to newsletters on those large websites, you have an option of subscribing to certain sections (kind of content) and receive updates from only that section, that track. I will have to implement that! 

7. Lemme talk about Twitter. The thing that got me down this path! 

The thing with the tweet is, even though there is a permalink of the tweet per se, to me, a tweet looks and feels ephemeral. It is something that's hanging in the air. I'd love to change it and have a more solid, permanent, tangible link. Like a URL to a website. A website feels a lot more solid to me. Oh, by the way, the public URLs that I host on my own website on? They are tough to pull off - I keep trashing my website every now and then and I start from scratch! I need to fix this. 

Plus, while most of my greatest connections have come via Twitter, I still can't wrap my head around the fact that it's the primary destination where I create content. It can at best be a distribution platform. And heck, it's a powerful destination! No? 

8. Making money and pivoting to being a writer! This is a big one. And this is what I am most conflicted about. 

The thing is, I'd love to be on substack or Patreon or something because I like the idea of monetizing my audience, my true fans. Even though I do NOT write with the intention of making money off my writing, I have been told by at least one person (thanks, Krishna!) that he is happy to pay me for what I write. Apparently, it adds value to his life. And that to me is music. 

For two reasons. A, I add value. The reason I even write in the first place. And B, people find it valuable enough to pay! 

So, if I can get 1000 people like Krishna, I'll be free from the rigmarole of holding onto a steady job! And I can potentially take a step in the direction where I won't have to work for others. And spend my life like a dog chasing cards - in random pursuits, where the chase itself is a reward! 

Of course, once I start seeking money for what I write, I need to not get sucked into this honeytrap and go down the desk-monkey route. 

The other thing that I am sure of is that I do not want to "profiteer" by sharing things I know. Whatever little I know, I know those because I have had generous people who were kind to me and shared things with me without expecting anything in return. And it is not right for me to profiteer when I myself haven't paid for those! So that!

A big part of me thus does not want to charge at all. May be I'll accept donations? I can ask people to donate whatever they deem is ok. But then, while I go with the pay what you go model, do I want to guilt-trip people into paying? Dunno. 

And if and when I do go the monetization path (in whatever shape or format), I need to decide how do I do it. With Patreon? Substack? Stripe? Ideally, I'd love to have a button or something (may be stripe connection to WordPress) on my own website. Let's see. 

Sigh! You see the conflict? 

9. Accountability. This is a big one. Right now, I write things as and when I feel like. There is no structure, no predictable cadence, no topic, no accountability. But once I decide that I want to be a writer for hire, I would have to be a lot more accountable. Someone said it right that a predictable routine is one of the secrets behind a free, wild, flowing, interesting life - the kind that gives you experiences that you long for. And the experiences that can shape you into a better man! 

So, I need to probably pull them socks up and get to a routine. For what I write, even if it's across genres and all that. No?

***

So yeah, these things. 

What started as a rant, a comparison between tweets and blog posts has become a tome that I am not sure who would read. 

I will decide over the next few days and I will of course keep you guys posted. Till then, it's over and out! 

The Insignificant Installation of I

Once you ignore the title of the post and dig deeper, you'd probably see what I am seeing. 

Somehow and for some reason, I have grown up into someone that takes myself way too seriously. This means I am humorless, often found gazing into the future, and have my head clouded with a million thoughts - most of those around how to become what I've always aspired to become - rich, affluent, impactful, giving, contributing, learning, fit, lean, emotionless, machine-like forever living thing. 

And all these adjectives / verbs play just one role -- they add a qualifier to the idea of identity that I have for myself. 

That identity is probably as meaningless as the concept of immortality. I am sure we would find answers (about the grand plan of life and all that) in due course; but as of today we do know that all this that started with a Big Bang will end in a few gazillion years (how exactly would the end come is still being speculated). 

And all the adjectives that you use to define you and the very concept of you will cease to exist. 

And thus, this image that you have installed in your head about yourself (wait, am talking to myself - so this image that I have installed in my head of myself) is meaningless. Insignificant. I think I need to see Pale Blue Dot more often.

The insignificance gets even more, well, pronounced when you realize that all that you've been building towards does not add up to that grand picture that you had in your head about things and people and life and all that. All those sacrifices that you made hoping for a better tomorrow, all the gratification that you delayed for deeper meaning, all the struggle you were engaged in chasing happiness at a later date, all of it, is insignificant. And if you've known me, all my life has been a run-up to this grand picture where I am happy, successful (whatever that means), and have contributed to the well-being and happiness of a billion people (in whatever way). And it's a sobering thought that this grand picture is a mere mirage - something that you think is around but it is a mere reflection of something that's not even there in the first place!

Even these words that, sort of, give you immortality will cease to exist. 

The momentary masterness that we are chasing, the fleeting validation that we chase, the semblance of control that we wish to exercise over life, well, insignificant. Like the I. 

So, what is the point of going on, you may ask? Well, I don't have any specific answers per se. But I do know that if by your actions, your thoughts, your work if you can give someone else some comfort, some break, some hope, some validation, some inspiration, it is worth it. 

No? 

Hello September / Monthly Review - Jun-Jul-Aug 2020

Good Morning, ladies and gents!

Trust you and your loved ones are safe and well-taken care of! 

Things in India don't seem to be improving and as that joke goes, everyone is now at dekhi jaaegi as far as COVID-19 goes. Not sure if this is a good thing. I just hope that people remain sensible and don't do stupid shit while they are bored with the lockdown. 

I had predicted that we would have the second lockdown if cases continue to grow but I was clearly wrong - cases ARE indeed growing (at the time of writing this, we are reporting a new high every day) and yet no one seems to be taking any precautions - the entire world is out there!

Anyhow. 

Here's a recap of the last three months (I could not send it out at the end of August). To jog your memory, I do this bi-monthly review and I track progress on to my yearly goals, life plan, and goals. And for the record, three large goals for 2020 are, publish #book2, run a sub-5-hours marathon, and a business with a topline of 50 crores. 

So, in one line, the last three months were a mixed bag. 
There were bottomless pits and there were some highs. 

Lemme use the regular sections of fails, wins, inbetweens, lessons, and plans for the next two months. And with a reminder that each thing I do this year must help me reach three large goals. I wrote a longish post about these goals here, in case. 

Here we go... 

😡😡 #fails 
+++++++++

1️⃣ No action on book2.
I did write for a few days, thanks to daily prompts by Prak but it got lost somewhere. 
The thing is, if this was any other project, I would have thrown it in the trash by now and stopped thinking about it. But, writing is as important to my existence as food, water and air is. So, have to be on it. 

Plus I am at a very exciting phase in the writing journey. I want to tell the story like I have wanted to tell no other story! 

2️⃣ Works not being too good.
My primary bread comes from two things - an events agency and a marketing consulting gig as a freelancer. Both continue to suffer. And my attempts at landing gigs have proved futile. I always thought that an MDI tag and the experience of all these years would help me get some projects. But I was never so wrong! It's been a struggle! 

However, The Podium continues to do well. We are now a well-respected podcasting network. Need to now go to bigger strengths. 

Plus, within the Podium network, I FINALLY launched my own podcast (yay!) where I speak with some of the biggest marketers in the country. I was very very skeptical of the same (I was not sure of the quality of my interactions with them and I hate my voice) but AD pushed me hard for it and made me do it. No, I don't know how it is doing but I do know that the weight is off my chest! You may want to listen to it on Spotify here

So that was work. Largely suffering. 
But, as Guruji's taught me, this too shall pass :). 


😊😊 #wins
+++++++++

I'd like to talk about 3 things. 
1️⃣ I started going on hikes. 
I know lockdown and all but these hikes have been rejuvenating, to say the least. Especially after a harsh June and July. 


The good part of these hikes is that I got to know that I am severely underprepared for the Everest lifeGoal. Not just in terms of my physical health but also with my mental game. If I cant do a tiny hillock in Thane, how am I going to get to the top of the highest rock we've known as humans? 

Apart from this, the last quarter has also been great in terms of my step-count. 

I walk around Andheri and listen to podcasts and see people and click photos. Each month the goal is to do better than the last. 

Sep will be tough - the weather has gone to the dogs here in Mumbai - there are no rains and way too much humidity. Plus the traffic is back. And back are those cars and bikes and all the incessant honking. I guess I need to wake up sooner! 

Well, Annkur, Puneet, and I have expanded that into a full-blown workshop! 
We call it Notes For Growth and we have delivered it to 300+ people so far. The feedback has been unexpectedly good! To a point that we are thinking about offering it to companies. Clear example of how random things convert into opportunities! In case you want me to offer it to your teams, please do let me know. I sincerely believe that it's powerful! 

3️⃣ Continued with the lessons on screenwriting. 
With Anjum Rajabali and Boman Irani (yeah, he teaches screenwriting as well). In fact, this is the only thing I've learned with some religiousness since March. 

Like I said last time, this lockdown has been a blessing to me. I know it may sound insensitive but if not for the lockdown, I would have never got this opportunity to learn from stalwarts like Satyanshu, Anjum, and Boman. I can't write this and not thank Harshit for making me aware of these. Forever in debt to him.


#inBetweens, #miscNotes, #lessons, etc.
+++++++++

Few things... 
1️⃣ I quit #aPicADay
I just did not feel like continuing with it. Must have some good 175-200 days! 
Plus its September now and that means I will take my annual break and will not have access to the Internet for about 10-12 days. So, I will anyway break the continuity. Lesson? Need to pick up smaller goals (even though they do NOT sound as fancy as larger ones, they have higher odds of getting reached)! 

2️⃣ I published quite a few words in the last 3 months! Yay! 
While I may not have an exact count, here are three long-form pieces that really I want you to read (if you have more time and if you haven't already)...
  1. How to make your personal board?
  2. How do you get better at long-form writing?
  3. 9 Tips to build your personal brand
All three were written first on my weekly-ish newsletter, SoG. 
In case you wish to subscribe to these weekly-ish letters, the link is here

3️⃣ Some random updates that have no meaning :)
  • My computer broke. And I realized that I am so addicted to a Mac OS that I can't get anything done on any other machine. 
  • I got myself a second screen (I hooked a TV that I never watched onto the computer and now I can't imagine working without a second screen). Try it and you would NOT go back! 
  • I am off Diet Coke once again! But this time, to replace the addiction, I have started with binging on Soda, the closest Indian alternative to sparkling water. So far, so good :)
  • Serendipity is real! The biggest lesson for me in the past 3 months! Most good things happen to me because I open some doors thinking they would lead me to a certain destination; but when I chase them, my curiosity and chance often lead me to another place, which is far better than the one I had originally set out to reach at! Guess I really AM a destiny's child!

#inNextMonths 
+++++++++
What do I plan to do in Sep and Oct of 2020? 

Three things. 
1️⃣ So here's the big thing. 
You may remember from the last letter (and a quip above) that I am seeking work? Thanks to general hustling around, I may have stumbled upon an idea that can help me do what I've always wanted to - enable others, create impact, and in the process, make money! And I seem to have found a partner and a mentor to do it with. And both of them are aligned with how I look at the world. 

So that's probably gonna become the primary vocation over the next few months and if all goes well, over the next few years. I am almost all-in on it! 

But then, this also means that I will have to give a hard look at all the other "projects" that I tend to dip my toes into. Lemme see what I decide. Will keep you informed. 

2️⃣ Second, I will try and get some running done. 
Lol, I have been talking about this since I started walking! Let's see if I manage this in the next few months. 

3️⃣ I am moving out of Andheri. 
Unless there is some miracle. The lease of this house expires in October and I will be forced to look for an alternative. Even though I've been in Mumbai since 2013 and this is the first time the thought of cutting the cord has crossed my mind! And in fact, I am thinking if I want to move to Goa for a year or so, till the pandemic settles. Most of my work now is largely remote. And if the startup takes off, we'd do it fully remote. So, let's see. 


***

So, that's about it for the update. 
As always, thank you for your time and attention. 
Please stay safe!

If there's something I can do for you, please do let me know. 

Over and out!
@saurabh
06 Sep 2020

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Untitled - 14 Aug 2020

Hello, World! 

I am back with another post on the blog. And another post in the #untitled series. A place where I pour out my head, without an agenda, without any expectations. 

Here we go. 


1. 15th August.

Tomorrow is India's 70-something-th Independence Day. From a kid that was like a true patriot and thought about Bhaarat Mata more than I thought about anything else, I am today an indifferent middle-aged man. I don't know how this transition happened. I don't know what pushed me towards becoming indifferent. I am not sure if I am even coming back to being a jingoist nationalist. But I know that I am disillusioned with the idea of India that I grew up with! 


2. Technology snafus.

These last few weeks have been terrible in terms of technology - the laptop broke, the phone is anyway half-broke, I've not stopped spilling things on the keyboard. This new blogger sucks. I think after using this for over 14 years, I am finally ready to move elsewhere. Where to though? Someone help please! 


3. Attention-deficit.

While I have been mostly ok with the lockdown, lately I have started to feel a problem with how I attend to things. I've anyway had the attention span of a goldfish. Now, it's reducing even more - I am guessing I can give a hummingbird a run for its money! 

I did try meditation for a few weeks ago but I just could not get myself to sit still for those 10 minutes. Compare it to a point where I was doing some 60 minutes every day! I don't know what is wrong and what needs fixing but something IS broken somewhere. Let's see when I discover it. 


***

That's about it, I guess. 

This new blogger is really not cool. I can't even type on this! I need to port out soon. Will update a few days. Till then, over and out! 

This too shall pass

Hello, whoever is reading this!

Hope you are well! I am not sure I can say the same thing about me. Life's being unkind - both at the personal front and at the professional one. Wish I could say more. But I will leave it here. And tell myself that this too shall pass. It always does. 

So, I did not write a post in the whole of July. Has to be among the longest breaks I've taken from writing. And has to be the longest I have been so out of action or inspiration. I mean the entire month of July passed by in a blur. Much like most of 2020. And if you know me you would know how much I hate inaction! And on top, there was tragedy upon tragedy inflicted on me. Life's been fucking relentless! But, like I said, this too shall pass!

And even if I ignore things that happened in the month of July, I think this lockdown is getting to me. I mean I am comfortable at my house (not home), have food on my plate and enough coffee to sip on all day long. But I crave for human connection. Human contact. The physical touch. I need it desperately. To a point that I am willing to risk myself. And others around me.

When the lockdown was announced, I thought I was ok with the ideas of being alone. I've always been ok every time I have gone into a shell. But this time I am not.

Thing is, previously, I would have a Starbucks to go to. A mall to wander into. The humdrum of life around me to get lost into. I had the non-creepy people-watching that gave me optimism about life in general. I could feed off the energy of other people, even strangers. I'd see someone immersed in their work and I would get inspired to get immersed in mine! And while I may not be surrounded by the people that gimme comfort, people I love or others of the ilk, I would always have people around me. Yeah, I like people. Even if they are strangers. And even though I have been enamored by the idea of people that survive isolation for years (hello, Andy), thanks to the lockdown, I know I can't survive it!

So, I have been walking around. And not that I am reaching somewhere with all this walk, but I do like the idea of movement. And I like to see whoever is out on the road. And going by what I've seen all of July, quite a few of those are out and about. I mean the traffic jams are almost back in Mumbai. You can no longer walk in quiet. You even have those loud Delhi cars making a guest appearance in Mumbai. The point is, I am out and about. And I am on the move. And I hope this activity takes me someplace in August.

Here's promising to be more active. Here's hoping for a better time ahead. Heres telling myself that this too shall pass.


SG
2 Aug 2020
Mumbai

The Nidhi Kapoor Story

Did you like this post? May be you want to read my first book - The Nidhi Kapoor Story.

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