Mumbai Part 2. Day 24.

This is going to be a short post. So that you may actually read the entire thing and not just skim.

Its almost a month since I moved to Mumbai. And I still trying to figure out things. Part reason of that is that I have decided to live with a friends from college. And that means I am dependant on two more people to figure out shit. Even if they are understanding and independent, human courtesy says that I need to include them in whatever I decide. So for example, despite a frantic house search, I we haven't been able to close on a place where I we would live. This, for the record, is against my DNA. I am like that lone mercenary who wants to remain independent and live like his way, without regard to all the burden that comes from "belonging" to a faction.

The other part is that I am older and hence more inflexible. And that means there is another set of problems that I have. Taking the example of house, I want to live in a spacious, airy, clean, new house. Which, in Mumbai, dont exist. The ones that do, demand a rental of a million bucks a day, which I cant pay. In general, the inflexible me in finding it hard to adjust to madness in Mumbai. But then, there is no place like Mumbai, anywhere in the world and I have to go through the grind. And no, I am not enjoying this at all. May be like all oldies, I am averse to change and since "growing up" is a slow and gradual transition, I am consciously in the same space as a 25 year old but subconsciously I am now 30 and that means there is a constant conflict between my two sides.

So, changing tracks, this post is about what I do in my spare time, which in my case, I have in abundance. And I am at my wits end trying to figure out what to with it.

Let me talk about Delhi to give a perspective. In Delhi, for some reason, I always had something or the other to do. If nothing, I could remain holed up at home and flick tv channels and maybe watch some movie. If not that, my family has stayed at the same place for almost 20 years and I know every nook and cranny in that part of Delhi. I know most people and there is a sense of familiarity. I could go for a walk, or a smoke and get back feeling good about the camaraderie that I share with the place. There are tons of friends/acquaintances that I could meet at random and have a good time and come back. I had a social life in Delhi.

Mumbai on the other hand, I have been out of this place for more than 3 years. All my friends are now married, engaged or seeing someone. And that means I am not high on their priority list (25 yr old). And that means that they are busy on weekends with household chores and stuff. And that means that I can only see them for a window of an hour or so, rather than entire weeks that we spent together at one point in time. Dissonance. Then, when I was younger, I was a promising and rising young man and had irrational beliefs about thing. That made me pseudo popular and I could meet strangers and paddle my beliefs and spend time engaging in mental masturbation. Now, I am a senile old man and I have a tough time going out to meet strangers. I refuse to take part in political, activist movements and pseudo intelligent conversations do not excite me anymore. As a result, I am not popular at all.

I can now spend all my time either reading or writing. Which is not bad to be honest but if I could change it, I would love to do so. May be in next few months.

RIP dear sgMS

If you know me personally, you would be aware of my stupid obsession with a certain individual, sgMS. A couple of you know who she is and what she means meant to me. For others, she has existed only as a name in my blogposts and tweets. For the uninitiated, she for me is like that long cherished dream that may not be coming true for me.

Here is a piece of news for everyone, including I. Starting today, I shall no longer crave for talk about her and move on. Atleast try to.

It’s a sad sad thing to do and I am not really happy about it but like they say, a man’s gotta do what a man’s gotta do. To be honest, I have often wished that her and my story ends like that of Anna and William but I am assured she is not staying indefinitely. Here is a clip, in the meanwhile to divert attention.

More than retiring her to inaccessible corners of my memory, I want to apologize as well for my behaviour over the last few years. I am sincerely sorry for being so blind and irrational. I have made enough sacrifices, including losing a few really good friends, because I wanted to be with sgMS. And no, I don’t have any regrets. It was amazing while it lasted. Just that I think I was harsh on friends and other around me.

Now that I am moving on, I suddenly miss all those old times. Such is life. Cant help it, can we? There were times when I thought she and I were meant to happen. Even the stars were aligned. Talking about stars, I believe know that I am God’s favorite child. Wait a minute. I don’t really believe in existence of God but I do believe in some sort of higher power that watches us all and makes things happen. The power that would have made the chemical elements play with each other to crate mixtures and compounds. The power that made us humans possible, the power that makes the sun rise in the easy, day after day. The power that gives me the power to breathe and sustain. Sad, that that all powerful power could not help me. If ChitraGupta, God’s accountant, really exists, when I meet him, I would ask from him why I dint get to be with sgMS.

I sincerely hope that there are better things in store for her. And for me. I look forward to what’s gonna come up in next few years. This for the record is the last post about sgMS. After this, I shall retire her to oblivion. If someday in future, I get around to writing my biography, I may talk about her in detail but for the time being, RIP dear sgMS.

Since this is my new life, thanks to “reset” button that Mayan’s pressed and this tweet made me aware of, I shall make the most of it. Starting with burying the remains and moving on.

In few words, to sum it all, it was awesome while it lasted. And I am so sorry to have become what I was. I shall try and fix things.

Mumbai Part 2. Day 13.

Its just a matter of few days before the world ends. And that means all I have left, is a handful of days to make that dent that I keep talking about. But then like all humans I have this thing that makes me inept at even scratching the surface, leave alone the dent. I need things in place before I can do shit. Things like a home a corner that I could call my own, a writing place, a perfect pen and things like that.

In Delhi, thanks to my parents, all these things were on the auto pilot mode. Thanks to my parents that over a long period, painstakingly made the most perfect home they could. It has everything that I needed am used to. Of course I got spoilt in the process and it made me depend on them and things so much that I have become rigid and lethargic.

Now that I am by myself in the jungle Mumbai, I need to take care of all those things. I have spoken about em in a previous post but there are few more challenges that a Day 13 brings about compared to Day 2.

For starters, clean clothes. In Delhi as a process, I knew a place where I need to pile my dirty clothes and by some magic they would be cleaned, ironed and placed back. Here, I dont have that magic wand working for me. The friend I am piling with, the maid is like a king/queen. She adheres to certain rules. For example she shall wash clothes  merely two times a week. She shall treat each kind of cloth same. Linen shirts, cotton trousers, denims, teeshirts are all soaked together and washed with as carelessness as possible. This means my entire wardrobe looks like a vomit of color, all clothes, in Mumbai, apparently have weak colors. I can still live with this, I can go buy new things, but after she washes the clothes, she would just leave them like that. Ideally I would hang those clothes on some line and let them dry up etc but no sir, not this one.

Then there is the biggest travail of anyone's life in Mumbai. A house. I am looking to move into a 2/3 BHK with another (maybe 2) friend(s). For the same, I have been talking to brokers for last 13 days. And have posted my requirement on all the portals that advertise on TV. The places available for renting out are expensive like cocaine and yet are as bad as cheap beer. Of course that we are "bachelors", it does not help.

Food is another concern area. I am used to having a certain kind of food. Vegetarian, low on oil/fat, simple, lot of vegetables, fresh, soft, made with love etc. My mom, like all other mothers, has to arguably the best cook in the world. Here food is a challenge. The maid cooks the world's worst daal. More often than not, I am eating out and as a result getting fatter and poorer.

There are more things but I think these are the top three things that are fucking my head right now. So much that I have considered multiple times already to drop everything and go back to the protected world that I am used to. But then a few days back, I read PGs essay on how not to die. Though it was not pertinent to what I am doing here in Mumbai, it gave me some hope. And anyways, I dont call it quits because I am facing challenges (but when I get bored). So I'd stay for the time being and fight it out.

Ofcourse with time, I would fix all these things. And you know, if I can successfully move into a decent house that is airy, clean, free of pests, spacious, has terraces, is away from noise and hustle of the city, is on a high floor, the dent would have been made!

No I mean it.

On Gratitude, Restlessness and Yearning

1. The ones who know me since I was a kid, would know how huge a fan I was of Lucky Ali when I was growing up. So much so that while I was in college, I made this huge website dedicated to him (to bad it was on geocities and I dont have any copies of it). Back then, it became a reason. I couldnt stop thinking about his music and the website. I tracked every visitor and updated every broken link multiple times a day. Now, in 2012, it sounds funny and inane, considering what 19 year olds create now. But those were the days and there I was.

2. There is this show on MTV that probably is inspired by Coke Studio, which in turn is probably inspired by some other famous show from the west, that invites amazing musicians and puts them on a stage and ask them to perform their best tracks, unplugged and slightly tweaked for the live audience. And to jazz up the offering, it makes these artists talk about the music and why and how of their music. So much so that there are times you get to hear behind the scenes conversations between these guys. Nevertheless, it reveals, to some extent, what the artist was thinking while writing that song.

3. This video. And the brief interpretation of the lyrics by Lucky. And to be honest, all music by him.

4. sgMS. And everything about her. And I. And how Lucky's interpretation/reason for O Sanam is so apt, so befitting, so true about sgMs and I. And that after all these years, the realization that the song I loved as a kid will actually become a true story some day. And my story at that. 

5. Nights in Mumbai are brilliant. You may think that the city is fast asleep, but its not. Under the covers, everyone is dreaming about something or the other. Then, there are people on the road who dont really have a place to goto and there are some who dont want to goto any place and just stay on the move (like me, dunno if everyone loves the feeling of being on the move as heady as it is to me). Each lost in his/her own world. And in their dreams - after all this is the city where dreams can come true. Some of them actually do. And each person, each dream has a story that could make you envious.

6. I, alone. With nothing but music. And a million thoughts swirling around in my head. Ranging from music to life to travel to poker to money to dreams to "holocaust to quality of cucumbers in winters". And the sad bit is that I cant seem to find any answers to any of these genuine questions despite the Mensa membership and all that.

Club all the 6 above together (Apart from this list thing, I dont think I could have written this any better). I dont know the nature of resulting concoction but its like that amrit that makes you restless, fills you with gratitude and makes you yearn. All at the same time.

Restless because despite trying everything, there is something that binds you to her. Because despite trying everything you cant seem to get over her. Even her rebuttals, her insults, her public display of affection for everyone else refuse to work. And funnily she if of the same opinion.

Gratitude for people like Lucky Ali for cooking ups songs and stories like these. And for people on the streets of Mumbai. And their dreams. And all the efforts they put in. Everything gives you inspiration and hope to continue to work and pray that someday the hardwork is redeemed.

And finally, yearning. Yearning for achievement, for greatness, for immortality. And for sgMS.

Happy Birthday Rr!

If you are reading this, thank you for everything that you have done for me and that you have taught me. And thank you for all the wonderful friends that I have made because of you. Thank you for helping me out when I was stuck up with sgMS. Thank you for showing me the way when I was lost. Thank you for being by my side when I was all alone. Thank you rr. Thank you being who you are.

Oh, and, one more thing. Happy Birthday!

Looks. Do Matter.

This post hasn't been authored by me. This is by the planner in me, who I tried to kill three years back, but he refuses to go away. All characters used herein are fictional. Including references to a certain Bollywood actor. And yes, read at your own peril. 

It no secret that I like adore Shahrukh Khan. And the way he talks and the way he acts and the way he looks. No I am not talking about the KKHH look but the way he looks in general.
The KKHH look.
If you excuse his bachpan ka mistakes, he does not look that bad. On a normal day, he is lot more "cool" and far more polished. Take the Kabir Khan look for example.
Kabir Khan. Chak De India.  
And if given an opportunity, he can actually get nice shades and do his hair better and look even more awesome (or delicious, as a lot of his female fans say)
The Yummy look. 
So, SRK can chose to look great, bad, ugly, yummy or simple as per his wishes. Agreed he has the looks and hair and all that but I think a large credit goto the stylists as well. Merely by changing the way he dresses, his personality goes through a sea change. Like the movie Rab Nay Bana Di Jodi. He plays a simpleton and suddenly, if you dint know who he was, you could easily mistake him for an office going commoner from North India.
Ready for office! 
Ofcourse the point is not how brilliant SRK's style team is, but the fact that merely by changing the way you dress, you can change how you look.

And there are lessons to be learnt, for the mediocre, average Joe like me. The world makes their impression about you, merely by their first look. There is some number to it (first impressions are made in 30 seconds etc) but I am not sure. Imagine going to a client and promising them earth shattering insights about who to sell that expensive hand brewed tea to, and dressed in a torn jeans, old chappals and an ill fitting linen kurta. Will the client trust you with her brand? How many odds do you think you have to win that account, even if you were David M Ogilvy himself? 

Let me park that thought for a minute. Lets talk about other men who are not actors but have a distinct look/style. Steve Jobs for example. Black turtleneck, blue jeans and sneakers. 
The Steve "God" Jobs. Since 1988. 
Steve went like that to all the meetings. After 88, there were hardly any occasions when he made a public appearance in different look and yet he could command an audience faster than most of us blink our eyes. It would be brilliant if I could be like that. Irrespective of the way I look, I should be judged on what I bring to the table. 

But, alas, we are programmed to be lazy and conserve energy. We are happy to put people in silos and group them into generalizations. We love to categorize people and them rather than taking each case on its merit, we try to put every incident in a previously thought of bucket and apply all characteristics. So for example, if you called a nanny and he was bearded, wore denim shorts, Vans shoes and had tattoos and piercings all over, would you trust him with your kid? May be the nanny is more comfortable in a pair of shorts than a boring set of trousers. May be the tattoos are an extension of this thoughts and he has the balls to cry his thoughts out loud. May be his girlfriend appreciates a beard over a clean shaved look? Remember that talk about being comfortable etc? 

Coming back to thought I parked, I realized today that if I am to be successful, I need to leave my stubbornness behind and try to do things that are in line with the expectations of the world. And start "belonging" to the safe and trustworthy bucket. And this ladies and gentlemen, marks the beginning of the end of the great SG. I mean I can chose to be someone like Gail Wynand but what are the odds? I dont even know what Hell's Kitchen actually mean.

I mean if I was Jobs, or Gandhi, I would have been so good with what I did that I would not need a "look". But then I am not. Ofcourse it took them time to become who they were. Inshallah, so would I. And now that I am starting my business where I need to do some real work (rather than coding a website where my audience votes on pics of college kid), I would rather not leave any stone unturned. I will not die for sure. The looks bit, may end up being just another tactic to delay the death. Lets see how it goes.

And the real reason of posting this? Does anyone know of any good professional "image/looks consultant"? In Mumbai?

Mumbai Part 2. Day 2. King of Wishful Thinking

Today was officially day 2 of my second innings in Mumbai. Hopefully this innings is as fruitful as the first one. Under this tag, I plan to chronicle my time and adventures in the city that never sleeps (who coined this term btw?)

So the day was not really special. I woke up with groggy eyes to the sound of someone banging the bedroom door. For a minute I thought it was an earthquake and someone is here to save me. But them I heard the maid yell something about no washing powder in the bathroom. Confused, I looked around and I realized it was not my bed. It wasnt even my room or my home. And this is when it dawned on me that I was in Mumbai, sleeping on the floor of a friend's room. I yelled something at the maid and looked around for some water to help me wake up. No no, I dont splash my eyes with it. My machinery needs a couple of glasses of warm salt water to get started. And lo and behold, there wasnt any water, leave alone warm, or salted. There is something about water that makes me want as much as I can. I am known to have copious amounts everyday and as a result visit the John one too many times. Wait, let me go grab my glass of water.

So no hot water, unfamiliar bed and a pesky maid beating the door started my day. Note to self, once I have a house of mine, the maid will not come until I wake up (maybe after 9 AM) and if she does come before I wake up, she shall not disturb me, at any cost.

Next up was the battle to find a place to live. I mean I cant be sleeping on this floor for rest of my life. I have to find a place that I could call my own. I have thought about it a million times, the way I would do up my place, make it my den. Too bad I cant afford a place by myself. Side note, by the end of 2013, I have to have a place just to myself. So with real estate prices going up faster than petrol and gold, I had to find a place to live quick. For, every day's delay could mean even more money to be paid as rentals. So first thing I did after I woke up, was to fill up forms on all the classified websites of the world - olx, quickr, magicbricks etc. And this is where the memories of 2007 came back. For some reason Mumbai does not want to rent out places to bachelors. Especially bald ones. I dont know why. May be its a risk profile thing, the way I had at GE for issues home loans (for example, back in 2005, if you were older than 28 and living with your parents, we couldnt give you a loan).

So I filled all the forms and it started the flurry of endless calls from brokers and "agents" who would talk more and hear less. They assumed I was someone related to Mr. Mallaya and had all the money in the world. But moment I told them that I am a bachelor, they would leave me alone, the way Mr. Mallaya was left alone in the last few days of Kingfisher (disclaimer: I am a shareholder) and have excuses as funny as, "my wife's calling me. can I call you back sir".

Finally someone, sent specially by God agreed to show us a place. Went to see it. Like if but was too expensive to afford. Such is life! Sigh!

In the meanwhile, it was time for lunch. Went ahead and feasted on amazing sandwiches and french fries. Next up was recee to a site that a friend is considering for his business (disclaimer: though its his idea and his money, I am helping him with the venture). Post that I had to drop him to the station to catch his train. A little adventure ensued.

Dropped him somehow in time and went ahead to meet another friend. This one just got promoted to a CD post, which is an achievement, considering he's got just 5 years of experience under his belt. Discussed few ideas and a lot of things with him. May get to work with him on something that we want to paddle to business schools. If I get to, it would be awesome cos he is one of the most intelligent and creative people I know and then I would be talking to college kids, something that excites me.

Dropped him and went to another friend's place who fed me her world famous Rajma Chawal. She is thinking of a venture as well. I like what she is thinking of. Dont have a lot of money but made my first angel investment (on her business). Left her place and got caught by a cop. The car I was driving, dint have papers. Had 300 bucks in the wallet. Gave 200 bucks to him. Yes, a bribe (Arvind Kejriwal and his cronies, are you reading this?) and drove back home. I wish I had the political contacts to get away without having papers and all.

And I am home, writing this and planing for the day tomorrow before I sleep. And yes before I sleep, I shall brush my teeth. Something's gotta change, now that I am in Mumbai (more on this soon).

Finally, no I did not miss sgMS. And, yes, like they say,
I'll get over you..
I know I will I'll pretend my ship's not sinking
And I'll tell myself I'm over you
'cause I'm the king of wishful thinking
I am the fucking king of wishful thinking.

P.S.: How many times did I promise something in parentheses on my blog and actually did it? Someone's keeping a tab?

Ishqzaade - tr!p Worthy!

After ages, here is a song that I think is worthy enough to get a mention on my blog. Its one of those tracks that you need to hear on are you crazy levels on your headphones and play it on a continuous loop.

Untitled 2012 Nov 24

Disclaimer. I shall bare my soul and heart in this post. Make all my dirty secrets public. Please do not judge me on the basis of this post. I am a far better guy!

Last few days have been interesting frustrating. A lot of work, a lot of play, a lot of mental masturbation and yet, very little sleep. And since I am the kinds that can go with small amounts of sleep, less sleep doesn't really bother me. But then I am 30 (There! I said it. Secret # 1) and all the signs of ageing have started to show. There are evident signs of abuse that I have subjected myself to over the years (erratic sleeping schedules, no control on what I eat or when I eat or how much I eat, no physical activities etc). Thankfully since there is no narcotics, drugs or alcohol involved, I can somehow breathe. I wonder how to those people survive beyond 30?

Coming back, so last few days have been busy and a lot of action has happened. But for some reason, the action is not translating into excitement. And neither is it showing any tangible results. At least not the results that would have made me happy. Of course the output has been voluminous but then there is that debate about quality vs quantity and I know for a fact that quality has taken a hit.

I mentioned about lot of work, lot of play and lot of mental masturbation. Let me take each one by one.

Its been crazy at work. Not that I work a lot but I can safety say that I am overworked. There are just too many things on my plate and I am juggling too many things at the same time. I am worried about that one wrong move that would send all the plates I am juggling crashing down. And in the business I am in, there is no second chances. No, I dont get stressed about things. Thankfully I dont want a "career" and I am not worried about "spoiling my cv" and I can rest but yes, it bothers me. It bothers me that I have put so much at stake and so much at risk. And it just happened!

Also, I am most probably moving to Mumbai soon (before the month end) and that means a lot of loose ends to be tied up here in Delhi. This means that the next few months will be full of uncertainty and frustration. I would be running from pillar to post when I am trying to set my foot in Mumbai. I dont know if I would succeed but I will have to give it my 100%. That work life balance thing that we strive hard to achieve will get fucked up in the process.

I would also have to leave the comfort of home which I am very fond of (secret # 2). Things that I take for granted will now start becoming big and will make me part of the daily grind that involves cooking, maintaining a house, haggling with maids, etc. Its a very scary thought. I now appreciate all the efforts that my mom has put in, to raise us and keep my home a sane place!

Not much except drives, lunches and dinners with few people that help me kill time. Suds, Ankit, Vijesh. Missing is a meeting with Agony Aunt - she is too tied up to grant me darshan. I have been able to write quite a lot. On this blog, on Sandbox. I started working on and its close to completion. I will have to dig into Wordpress if I want it to look like what I have in my head. I cant really translate that into a product spec and get a theme made. But then, the lazy ass like me (Secret # 3), will I want to go through the grind of learning PHP and WP and spend countless hours mastering it?

Mental Masturbation
I added at least three more ideas to my list of to-do things. All the three ideas are what dreams are made of - easy to execute, large addressable market, clear gap, potential to be billion dollar enterprises that could run on autopilot and throw enough cash at me. Just one hitch - I am sure I will not start any of those. I just wish I had a machine that could execute all these ideas. Remember my post about hiring a boss? I dont know why I cant seem to do things (Secret # 4).

Then, I lost big in a recent game. It wiped my bankroll (Secret # 5). Time to slowly build it all over again. And the only way I know, to build the bankroll, is by saving a measly amount every month and waiting for it to reach a point where I can afford a ticket to Goa. And then hope to make it big there.

Finally India, has seen a lot of interesting days as well. Thackery died, Kasab got executed and there is that regular uproar about corruption etc. And for a change, I cant seem to have an opinion on any of the three (Secret # 6). I never liked Thackery or what he stood for but that gathering of 19 lakh Mumbaikars people at his funeral has left me confused. Kasab, in my opinion, should have been executed long time back. But now that he's gone, I dont know what will happen now. The war on terrorism is still far from over and with Kasab, we had a hope that something good may come out of it. I wrote about Kasab here.

Then there is this huge unrest in the country where every politician is either apparently corrupt or playing the blame games. I mean its not really surprising to know about corruption at highest levels. I have always known that bribery is how things actually move in India. Favouritism and ulterior motives has ensured that some people make all the money and everyone else is left poor. I just think that its amazing that us common folks are ignorant. And the fact that we minions dont know about favouritism has actually kept us happy in our own shells. I have a fleeting suspicion that the day we get to see the kind of shit Wikileaks exposes, we wont know what hit us. We wont be able to comprehend the depth or impact of it. I secretly pray that it actually remains under the wraps (Secret # 7).

End Note 
Phew! this was a long one. Thats it I guess for this edition of Lets Reveal Our Lives on Blogs. More episodes soon. Like always, please ignore typos, grammar etc. As if you'd read. The last two untitleds were read a combined 15 times.

Conversation with myself, on Ajmal Kasab

Today, I woke up to the news of Ajmal Kasab's execution. And to be honest, I was indifferent towards it. Ofcourse there was this curiosity to know more about it. Ajmal Kasab and his case has to be the most famous case in the country - for what he did was amongst the worst a human can do to another humans. I woke up and read about it and despite all the witty, sarcastic, patriotic, inflammatory and useless comments about it, I remained indifferent. Probably its the classic case of "not my problem". Or may be like most other things, I grew so tired of all the debate and discussions around it that I had shut my head to anything about it. Or may be its plain, good old indifference?

I dont know. And I cant seem to find an answer. Apart from the indifference about it, the execution has left me with conflicting thoughts to be honest. On one hand, I dont support capital punishment and on the other, I want the guilty (especially of the attack) to be punished. I appreciated the way the Govt. handled the entire issue and at the same time I loathed hated all the rejoicing that was going around. End of the day he was a human being and its barbaric as a society to celebrate someone else's killing. But like someone pointed on twitter, our biggest festival is all about victory of good over evil by killing of the Ravana and making him pay for his misdeeds.

There are no easy answers to this debate. More than taking a side and answering anyone else, I am struggling really hard to be to true to myself and find answers. I am hating all this uncertainty and indecisiveness. I actually revel in uncertainty and celebrate freedom that comes with it. Though my fickle mindedness is legendary, I am not undeceive at all. I hate waiting for decisions. In fact I take fast decisions. And I take so many of those (is this why I am fickle minded?) that it at times is a blur. More food for thought.

You know (who am I talking to by the way? Myself?) I was actually in Mumbai when the attacks happened. I was tucked away in one remote corner when Kasab and his gang went about firing and killing innocent civilians. To be honest, I was not afraid, even for a minute. I think because I dont really know what terminal danger looks like. And I am the kinds who believes that nothing that is an outlier, could happen to me (including stoke of extraordinary luck). But then since I consume so much media, I could sense the anger, pain, frustration and helplessness in the ordinary Indian.

Is the execution of Kasab an answer to these emotions? I sincerely hope it is. Hate to see so much potential being squandered away over fruitless discussions and mental orgasm. As a capitalist, I cant really understand where do people get the time to practise religion. There is so much to do and so much to achieve and yet people tend to waste their time. Every day is a new day. Why cant we get up and live each day to the fullest?

I hope that the ones who lost their loved ones in the entire episode have found some kind of closure. That to be is the only good thing about this execution. Hope they sleep better now. Hope they wake up tomorrow with renewed vigour and enjoy all the blessings that Mother Earth has showered on us. The world is indeed beautiful out there.

Untitled 2012 Nov 16

Yet another untitled. Last time I spoke about restlessness. This time I shall talk about suffocation. And before you get confused about negativity of these posts and depressive language, please know that these are parts of a larger text that I am hoping to write before the end of this year (another month or so to go). And no, these dont reflect the state of my mind. 

This time let me talk about suffocation. 

Suffocation. Most of us know it as a state when we cant breathe. We are left gasping for breath and we cant seem to get enough oxygen in our lungs. We try harder to breathe and that whiff of air remains elusive. The line between life and death seems to blurring with each moment. You love life and hence you try harder. And the sheer effort of trying harder makes it all the more difficult and further blurs the thin thread. Tough to visualize? Ok, lets make it easier.

Do you know how to swim? In the relative safety of a swimming pool? Where you have life guards, floats and predictable shores? Think of the time when you were learning the art and science of swimming. The first few days. When the entire effort was focussed on just one thing - staying above the water level. Because once you went down under, you could not breathe and it was not a good situation to be in. You could hold you breath for a few seconds but after that you were left gasping for breath. While trying to breathe, water would rush into your mouth and lungs umpteen times. Most times, you would have coughed it out, lungs cant hold water, you see. Once in a while someone would have helped you clear your lungs. But suffocation, by water, was not a pleasant memory.

The ones who dont know swimming, imagine a huge polythene bag. Imagine wearing it like a cap, from top of your head and pull it all the way down to your neck. And tie it from the back. And make it taut. So much that you can see the outline of your face on the polythene. The eye pits, the nostrils and the open gaping mouth shouldn't just be evident, but be prominent, just like a student of art draws the outline of a human face. Now when the apparatus for experiment is in place, try breathing in. Every breath you take, will not bring that surge of air that you expect and are used to. But it will pull the thin and yet impervious polythene further in, will make it tighter and make it difficult to survive. And this will effect you on two dimensions. One, you arent breathing and you arent sending oxygen to your brain. And the lack of oxygen takes you a step closer to being a vegetable. Second, the head thinks that its breathing. I mean all its life, the head has told the lungs that the body needs oxygen and the lungs complied by getting air, filtering the oxygen and pumping it along with blood to million little arteries in your body. This, however, is amongst those few times when lungs refused to comply. And it leaves your head confused. Its like that double whammy.

Suffocation is thus a very very potent force. It brings you this close to the edge that you dont know that there's a way back. It brings out the will to survive, or it makes people let go, depending on how you are, who you are and what you are. Its like a test. A test that tells you what are you made up of, deep down inside. Everything else is a sham. The psychometric tests, written assessments, simulators, social pressure, relationships, emotions, all are good tools to evaluate an individual but nothing comes close to the test of suffocation.

Now the reason of the post. Do you have it in you to subject yourself to this test? And share results?

Chevrolet Cruze - Hunter (2012)

Of all the ads that are on TV, because of the sheer number and the frequency with which they bombard you, very few catch you eye, your attention and make you take note of what is happening on the screen. The new TVC for Chevrolet Cruze is one such commercial.

Unlike most great ads, its not a one minuter and there are no powerful characters or dialogues. Its a very simple ad that has just one hero - the product itself. And unlike all car ads, there are no cliched stories and it does not talk overtly about the power, mileage, young adult protagonist or the awesome looks of the car.

Have a look, if you haven't seen already.

The lyrics go as follow...
Run boy run there's a storm on the run... dust... rising!
There's a beast on the prowl, there's a roar, there's a growl... thunder and lightning! 

Wow! Beautiful visuals, amazing lyrics, awesome voice and great music. A brilliant package. There is no way that the target audience for Cruze will not like it.

Talking about the target audience, for any car company, typically the key sets of audience are...

  1. Potential customers - the ones who are actually considering buying a sedan that is high on comfort, value for money and stylish enough for them to buy it. The car must elevate their status within their heads and more importantly, in their peer group. For a prospective Cruze customer, I am assuming, from the commercial, that they are looking at selling it to fast rising corporate kinds rather than the old businessmen. These young men want to play, rather than just commute in comfort. For "play", the hunter and prowl is a brilliant place to be at. 
  2. The automotive fanatics - the kind of people who know what horsepower the engine is, what is the turning radius, the clearance and other such things that are Greek and Latin to people like us. These people participate in forums and post their opinion on portals. These are the people that potential customers actually turn towards for their buy decision. Even though, the commercial has zero stats or numbers, it has everything that would make a car fanatic take note. The drifts and looks will make one search for more. The Cruze website does an ok job at it. 
  3. Dealers/sales team etc - the ones who will actually sell the car. These people are often oblivious to  the content of the ad but need the gratification that the "company" is advertising on TV and is spending money to help sell easier. 
  4. Competitors - merely to take a jab at em ;P

The ad clearly does a good job at appealing at all 4. Even though, it would be tough to get the sales data just for Cruze but it would be interesting to see. At least in this category, premium sedan category, there must be a direct correlation between advertisement and sales. Since in India, a car is a very very high involvement product, its really important for a car commercial to appeal to emotions.

In terms of how a planner would have approached this TVC, a typical planner is trained to think in two dimensions - rational and emotional. Rational - you talk of the benefits that are apparent, measurable and verifiable. Examples could be better mileage, superior looks, impeccable build quality or extra space. Emotional - you talk of benefits that a customer will perceive after they are exposed to your communication and hence are non-quantifiable, subjective and open to interpretation. The examples could be "makes you a hero", "takes you home", "your first car" etc. The rational ones are easy to make and the emotional ones are difficult to pull off.  This commercial is definitely not rational and slightly evolved for classifying as purely emotional.

For the category, the commercial is spot on. Easily breaks the clutter and makes the audience take a note. Take a note of the hunter on prowl! In the end, its a #win commercial for Chevrolet. Kudos to the agency that came up with the insight and wrote this commercial (who?). And to the client that approved the concept and is actually spending money to air it.

I'd rate the commercial a 4 on 5. Go see it. And yes, it makes me want to go and buy the car. Just that I dont have the money to do so. Sigh! 

Disclaimer: Personal, opinion, only. 

The cost of a short fuse

I have to have the shortest fuse that anyone has ever had in the entire universe. I love what I do and I put in a  lot of effort and heart in my work. I am not the greatest in what I do but I more often than not I do good work. And I have been able to create a reputation, atleast in my office, if not in the market. And as a result I have things going easy for me.

But once in a while, there comes a client who is a total moron and has no respect or regard for things. The client assumes that he is no less than the God himself and loves to assert his God like status. But forgets that God is God for a reason. Today one such thing happened. For no fault of mine, I was dragged into a melee. I hate such skirmishes and I refuse to get into an argument. This guy was persistent and got me into it.

Little did he know that I am the kinds with total disregard for rules and I dont give two hoots about authority. I know I am correct and I refuse to budge. And its come to a point where I think we would lose his employer as a client. Thankfully my office understands the stand I am taking and they are with me on this. But it sucks to be a part of such a stupid thing. Need to quickly find a way out. May be its time to bring back Cyntax. And my hunt for a boss has drawn nil :(

Yes, I am a corporate bitch and this is one of those posts that I wanted to share with my boss and client but dont have the balls to do so. Blame me.

Untitled 2012 Nov 08

Some kind of unnamed, unknown restlessness has set in. Its just beneath the surface, ready to explode. The kinds that makes you scream out loud. Where you yell so loud that your lungs are about to explode and you are left gasping for air. And yet, all that the world around you seems to hear, is pin drop silence. The silence of lambs that are about to be slaughtered. And you are left wondering. Like that kid in a war zone who can see and touch that long shiny metal object but cant comprehend its purpose, its impact or the destruction that the mere trigger could unleash. That kind of restlessness.

Now in my experience, that restlessness is typically is a good thing. It breaks the monotony of life. It afterall is a harbinger to drastic changes. You may or may not have asked for those changes. But like most things in life, change happens and you can merely react to it. Most of us succumb to these changes. Some live with it. And a handful emerge out on top. I typically have been the kinds to try and survive. And while I am at the survival game, I hope like hell that another change would happen, ofcourse without my control, and hope that the next one would be easy on me. At least easier than the one I am suffering under the weight of at the time being.

There have been times when I have actually tried to scratch the surface and see what the restlessness is all about. For someone like me, it has to be either about growing old, money or a relationship. I am not a narcissist but I am very sure that I hate the process of growing up. Its the inevitable end that all of us drifting towards, one second at a time. Wish I could stop it altogether. Slowing it, delaying it will be of no use. Its a just a game of numbers and units. Then I am not rich by any yardstick that I may evaluate myself on. And it sucks to know that there is so much money to be made in the world and I am poor. Money to me, let me explain, is not really an end. But is a means to be able to do things that I ought to be doing. And finally, the relationships. For me, more have gone sour than they have worked out. And hence the restlessness.

But the funny bit is that this time, the unnamed, unknown restlessness that has set in, has nothing to do with any of the three I just spoke about. It is something else. Something that I cant comprehend right now. I would love to know about it ofcourse. Men fear the unknown more than they fear the known. With known dangers, however mortal they are, the entire gamut of outcomes is on the table for everyone to see. And on one extreme of the possible outcomes is a fleeting chance, a flickering hope, of getting away with without a scratch. However, with the unknown, there is no list of outcomes and thus there is no hope. And once there is no hope, there is nothing left to fight for. And most men give up, without even trying to fight. Their will leaves them alone, probably when they need it the most. Me for example.

Recruiting a Boss. Applications anyone?

Today, I logged onto my dreamhost account after ages (read few months). It has more than 20 domains that I have booked over the years. These include,, the entire DIY line, madewith, klpd, ODID, offbeat etc. Each domain corresponds to an idea that I had wanted to work on. And each domain corresponds to an idea that I did not work on. Am not too sure if any idea was a winner per se but the sad part is that I did not even try. And to put things in perspective, there are ideas that I dont have a domain for but they are idling in my dropbox, desktop and evernote. (Side note to self - work on consolidating all the information and put in place a information management plan.)

Apart from everything else, this long list is a painful reminder of the fact that I suck at execution. I may take pride in my ability to conjure ideas every minute of my waking time but I have realized that mere popping up of these light bulbs will not take me anywhere. Need to put pen to paper. Here is a quote. I dont know who said it. It just popped into my head, like all those ideas...
An idea, not executed, is not an idea!
Thus to qualify as an ideas person, I need to execute some idea and take it to completion. Over the next few weeks, I would be single mindedly focussed on execution. And I will put deadlines and tasks and goals in place and I will take one idea and take it to closure. Any idea. Even if its bad. Just to see if I have it in me to take an idea from beginning and finish it.

Another unrelated observation. One of my ex-employers told me once upon a time that I am brilliant employee to have and yet I would make a really bad owner. That time I dismissed it as yet another pep talk to get me to work harder. Now, the writing on the wall looks so much clearer. I now know what he meant.

But being the stubborn and overconfident fuck I am, I refuse to yield till I give things one more shot. This time till 31 Mar 13. However to help me expedite things, I want to recruit someone, to be my boss. Someone who constantly nudges me and forces me to do. And like all recruitment offers, I can put some kind of compensation on the table. Can telecommute and just need to give about 5 minutes of your time, everyday. Apart from compensation and awesome working hours, perks include, boasting rights, if I manage to do something. Any takers? Application shall be considered with strictest of confidence.

Thats it for the time being. Over to you, Execution.

Thank You Nilam

Forget Sandy. India, we have our own hurricane. And like all hurricanes in the US of A are named after women (why? can someone tell me please?), someone aped the big brother and our hurricane is called Nilam (with an I). Not very creative if you ask me. We had better options in Priyanka, Aishwarya, Sunita, Babli etc. Anyways so here I am in Chennai where I know exactly one person, apart from my office peeps. When I was coming here, I thought I would extend the day and hustle around for a business idea that I have been working on for last few weeks.

So I got over with my meeting, which went rather bad, and promptly decided to visit someone that I thought I could partner with. Little did I know that A, those guys are American and hence they shut down by 5 and B, there was Nilam, wrecking havoc in Chennai. I mean the impact of Nilam has been far from adverse - at max, we have had a few fallen trees, really wild winds and incessant showers. But we live in the era where media loves to exaggerate things and everyone I know plays it safe. I mean I asked atleast 5 people if they want to goto the beach and experience the true might of Nilam first hand but all of them chickened out. Guess not everyone is as frivolous as I am.

Made me realize that a city, a place is all about people. The fact that I thought I know enough people there and yet I couldnt get company, sucked! If I was prepared, I would have planned for something - I would have read about it, I would have carried a camera, I would have seen something that needs seen. Or I would have idled time, seeping in scenes and smells from the new city, like I do when I travel. But this time I was caught off guard and it sucked. There was nothing at all to do.

And this is when the idea man in me said, why not look for a place where I could sit and write. I immediately ruled out my hotel. Not a lot of reasons, but this time, I was booked into a hotel where the tiny 15" wall mounted TV was two miles away from the bed and there was a wash basin in the room. Ok I am painting a far worse picture but I think TV was indeed larger than 15" but I am not kidding about the washbasin in the room - I did use it to dry my shoes afterall. So my room was not really inspiring as a place and there was no table and I thought I could goto a coffee shop and write, the way I do when I am in Mumbai or Delhi. So I set course for a known and famous coffee shop. I think I left my office at 6 and by 8 the driver was still trying to find his way! Google maps was acting weird and all I could see around me was traffic. And when I did reach the shopping mall that housed the coffee shop, it was shut! Why? because someone had issued some advisory about Nilam!

By this time, I had lost it and I was yelling at everything that moved, including the cow munching onto I dont know what. The I-yelled-at-following list could boast of fancy names like the KFC till-man, the driver of my car, the policeman that was trying to man the traffic, the security guard, the gatekeeper at the mall.

I realized that I was pissed off for no reason. May be because I dint get to name the Hurricane or something! The thought about cities and what gives them life and what makes them important, endearing, mesmerizing, popular, safe, grand etc kept swirling in my head. And I had no answer. May be this is why I was angry. I tried to reason with myself and discover the reason for my anger.

And then like lightening, it dawned onto me. I was hungry! I had to eat! And thats what I did. I promptly went to a Simran's, had awesome Appams and went off to sleep, next to the wash basin that is.

The Noida Agra Expressway

This weekend A few weekends ago, I was in Agra for work. While going and coming back, I used the new Yamuna Expressway - the latest in the additions of expressways in India. Here are few quick comments.
  1. Boring scenery - compared to Mumbai Pune expressway, this one is really boring. For 150 odd kilometers, all you see is flat lands with an occasional green patch. Most of these flatlands are so similar to each other that you may think that you are going around in circles, in an infinite loop! And since the scenery is boring and there is nothing to do on the road, except hold the steering straight and stare at the road ahead. There is no pleasure in driving. If I was given an option, I would not go on this road for the drive atleast. But yes, if I need to goto Agra, this has to be the preferred route! 
  2. Lack of amenities along the way. There are three places where you stop to pay the toll. And when I went, late August, none of the three were operational. This means that there is no fuel along the way, nothing to eat, no place to pee and no place to throw garbage. Hopefully this would have changed by now by its definitely scary to not have anything, if you get stuck. Yes I did spot escort vehicles, patrol cars and ambulances but I am not sure if they would come when I called for them. 
  3. Bumpy roads. For an expressway, the roads are very bumpy. There are no potholes per se but the road is not flat. Imagine a roller coaster and flatten the crests. Its like that. Like a wave. I dunno why did they do it but I am sure there must have been some pressing need to do so!
  4. Too many stray dogs and other stray animals. Though they have fenced the entire stretch with barbed wires on either side but there are just too many stray animals on the expressway for comfort. I have no clue how they got in because they barbed wire seems taut and high enough for a dog to jump over but there are so many of them that you are forced to drive on the right lane, lest some animal comes in front of your vehicle suddenly.
Having mentioned all these things, it does take exactly two hours from Greater Noida to reach Agra and if someone asked me if I would recommend it, I would say Hell Yeah!

Seeking Contributors for Offbeat Mag

I dont think if I have ever posted something like this in the past but here it goes. 

I have started working on a side project (not to make money to be honest) where I would write, feature and highlight stories, anecdotes, people, incidents and things that are offbeat. I call the project Offbeat Magazine. It would be a web based community blog and it may eventually evolve into something great or may fizzle down into yet another piece of junk on the web. I am not sure. But I will give it an honest attempt.

For the same, I am seeking contributors, people who can help me identify offbeatness and other such quirks that I can feature on the magazine. And designers and photographers and writers and handymen. I am looking for anyone and everyone who can help me pull it off. And once upon a time, someone said something about standing on the shoulders of giants, I want to invite such giants and hope that they help me see further.

Would you want to be that giant?

To give you an idea, the first few set of articles that I am working on for OffbeatMag are...
  • How life has changed for a mango wo/man after s/he became a twitter celeb (I define twitter celeb with someone who's got more than 9999 followers). For the same I want to interview these guys and write an article. 
  • How poker is changing the way kids in engineering colleges are re-evaluating their career options. If you are tuned in the poker scene in India, you'd know what I mean. 
  • How people are re-defining the way they travel by hacking their way into premium lounges, getting free tickets and how international holidays is no longer a big deal.
Ocourse, all these articles have come from my understanding of the world around me. With more contributors, we can look at a broader horizon and hopefully cover more things. 

Thats it for the time being. Do you want to help? Get involved? Its easy! Just leave a comment on this post. Or write into me here.

Long Time!

Its been well over 15 days I think that I have written something. Not here, not on sandbox, not on that secret blog that I write for sgMS and not on Facebook. And no wonder its been taking a toll on me. Writing gives me extreme satisfaction and despite having a combined readership of zero (even I dont read what I have written), I get lot of contentment when I write.

Ofcourse writing is a tough job. Most days I cant write. And even when I write, I always have great beginnings but after a couple of dozen words, I am left high and dry. But writing is probably the best thing to have happened to me since sgMS. This one from Peanuts talks about how I feel about writing!
via This Isnt Happiness

When I started writing this, I dint know that I would carry on with it for so long and writing would become such a large part of my happiness. I mean I know for a fact that just a handful of people read this. And a even smaller fraction of those who read, actually care about what I write. Or why I write what I write. All ofcourse this blog essentially does, is to merely add to all the digital gibberish that us netizens produce every second that we spend on the Internet.

If I said that the net effect of this blog on humankind is actually negative, I wont be wrong. And yet this blog and process of writing is important to me. I can now relate to people who write diaries and I totally understand why are they so attached to the diaries. Ofcourse those diaries are logs of private affairs and other such non-public events for most people. Thankfully I dont really have any skeletons in my closet. Do I?  May be... may be not!

Anyways, before we move on, here is a song. And yes, there is a reason why I am putting it here. Can you guess?


And here is why I havent been writing for these many days.

Last few days have been quiet different what a typical day in life for me is. I am on a break from work. I mean not a real break, but I only work on things that no one else can work on in office and that too, from home. Time spent on meetings and travel has reduced considerably and that means my mind is lot more unoccupied and I have even more time on my hands. And like all idle men, I have no clue as to what could I do with all this time. I mean, I do have a million things that I could potentially work on, but if I do, the list of my vices would look really small!

Apart from this, I have moved to a different city and I have plans to explore yet another city before I am back to the grind. Thanks to my friends for letting me sleep on their floors and using the AC, which in my opinion is the best thing to have happened to mankind. Thankfully, I am being paid for this, so that takes care of grocery, travel and other such things. Thank you guys for that.

I am hoping to be back after Diwali btw, in case someone is curious. In the meanwhile I am spending less and less time online (read lesser interactions on twitter/fb), working towards developing new hobbies and trying to get fit. Oh, must mention, Rr gave me this amazing book by Rujuta Diwekar that talks about losing weight in a nice and easy manner. I like what she says in her book and I think I will try to follow her advice. Apart from fitness, Project rstlf continues to stay at the back of my head. And then there are all those confused thoughts that I dont know know who to share with and who to talk about. The world looks like a stupid place right now and the intent to work on it and fix it is getting stronger by the day. I remain hungry and some day I would fix it for sure. That nagging little voice at the back of my head keeps telling me that its almost time and good things are within reach.

Guess that's it for the update. There are so many more things that I want to talk about but this is not the forum. May be some other day. But yes, exciting times are ahead (I must have said this like a hazaar times since 1982) and there will be quite a few changes on how I spend my time and kind of things I write about. Sounds alien, coming from someone like me who has always been frivolous with life and all worldly matters. But guess its an age thing...

Stay tuned. And in the meanwhile, here is something that I will do as soon as I publish this post...
via This Isnt Happiness
Good night guys.


The regular readers of my blog may have noticed this interesting item that I posted a few days back. In there, I said that I was going incognito for a few days and I would not be connected with the world. I had planned to stay like that for a month at least and I had charted out all the things that I would do in that time.

From a planned 30 day hiatus, I am back in mere 3. Ofcourse I havent done any of the things that I had planned but I would continue working on those while I go on and off from the map of the world.

More updates (on hiatus and other things) to come soon. Stay tuned.

Gone Fishing!

If you are reading this, I am on the month long hiatus that I have been planning for almost two years. I should be back sometime towards the end of October.

I know you would miss the awesome little blog that I maintain here. Yes I am talking to both of you - my regular readers. In my absence, you may want to read TIH everyday. It's one of those things that I would donate all my wealth to, if I end up with some wealth in life.

I want to stay away from everyone I know. No, my phone is not working and I will not have access to email/twitter/facebook/linkedin/quora etc. Whats the point of a holiday if you are constantly checking your email, tweeting what you ate for dinner, putting pictures of that club on your facebook, checking for available jobs on linkedin or trolling on things on quora? 

However if the world decides to self destruct before the impending December deadline, you know how to reach me and warn me about it. Apart from that, I dont think you would need to speak to me. If you want to, just email me. I promise that once I am back, I would make it up. 

Thats about it.

Wish me luck!

The Hauz Khas Village

For the last three days I have been camping at a cubby hole in Hauz Khas Village. I am trying to get some work done by a few freelance artists that work out of here. And here is the mandatory disclaimer. The post is not about work, or the artists per se, but is about this place - Hauz Khas Village.

So, once upon a time, there was actually a time when the village was famous for a lake, a few historic remains and lush green parks where young couples could go and spend quality time together (away from peering eyes of all their well-wishers).

Now, its something else. Hauz Khas Village is now known, in the Lonely Planets (and other such travel guides), for fancy restaurants that patrons of the page 3 frequent. For the kitschy stores that sell everything from replicas of famous paintings to designer dresses to overpriced paintings to artefacts that only a handful people can appreciate to antiques to bagels (whatever that is, I am told you are supposed to eat it) to handmade teeshirts to "authentic" Italian gelatos to cheap thrills to Thai massages to silver jewellery and what not. If you can imagine it, they sell it here. And most of it has the sheen and label of being the output of a famous designer or a desperate woman in some obscure place in India.

And as a result, the kind of people that frequent this "village" are poles apart from all the people that visit all the other villages that dot the landscape of this modern marvel that we call India. For starters, there are numerous non-Indians. Atleast they look non-Indians. A few characteristics common to these "characters" are nondescript complexion, half pants, ample cleavages (even men), large sunglasses (even if its 8 in the night), loose Birkenstocks (fake?), generous tattoos, braided hair, long sling bags, accents that could put the most seasoned call centre trainers to shame (fake?), frequent pecks (on cheeks to greet others of the same clan), cigarette dangling casually on skinny fingers, unnecessarily large headphones (with no player in sight). Then there are a few Indians who are the waiters at the fancy restaurants, salesmen at these stores, parking attendants and other such people. And then there are people like me, who are as lost as Alice was in her Wonderland. Who, for their lives, cant seem to make any sense out of what they see.

I am no expert in people watching and the ethnicity (and even the nationality) of most of these people elude me. They cant be Indians because the India and Indians I know would think like a million times before engaging indulging in such overt public display of affection. More than them, I am sure their parents wouldn't let them step out of their homes in those dresses. I am not really traditional but what some people wear here is no less than sacrilege. But then, this is a free country we live in and everyone has the right to do what they deem fit. So I cant complain. But if they are Indians, I must be living under a rock because for some reason I have not seem them anywhere else but at the village.

Coming back to the village, there are people and sign boards that could lead you to believe that you are in some chic European market. And like it happens to me in all chic markets anywhere in the world, when I am at the village, I get very very intimidated. Scared is a better word I guess. Moment I am in the open at the village, I want to dig a tunnel through the street and hide myself in it (atleast my neck, like those pigeons when they see a cat). I otherwise believe in keeping the neck high and taking long confident strides. But when I am in the village, I walk with my head down, as if I have lost a penny and I am trying to find it. And I try very hard to not even come within an arm's length of anything that is non male. I have no clue how would their highnesses react if I make the mistake of accidently brushing my arms against her Highness. She would shriek at me in English, but in an accent that I would not be able to comprehend and thus would be humiliated unnecessarily in public. Anyone heard that maxim? Better safe than sorry? So, avoid all eye contact and physical contact.

Then there is that issue of being brown, bald and badly dressed. With these three B's there is no way I could look like someone who can afford a coffee at a half decent coffee shop. Truth be told, I actually can NOT afford a coffee at most of the places at the village but I really like to pretend that I can. I like to look in menu, bring out the fake accent and say, "nah I am not a coffee person. I like green tea" and move onto the next store. But here, at the village, where the shops talk to only the non-Indians, someone like me comes across as nuisance. And unlike most other shopkeepers over the world, rather than dismissing me politely, these guys, the shopkeepers at the village, unleash their wrath on me, as if doing that would take them closer to salvation. Even the restaurants treat me like I am a waiter that had cheated all others on the tip. I am always asked if I have made a reservation, even when I can see the damn place as empty as the space itself!

Apart from the kind of people that hang out here and the super expensive chic stores and restaurants, the last thing I want to talk about would be a general rant on the good and the bad of this place. Good, there are places that I can "show off" to my contacts that are not from Delhi. After all, Delhi may have the best infrastructure in the country, it still lacks in terms of coolness quotient. Then if I ever get a woman in life, I can get her here and let her blow away a fortune and make her happy. And finally, if I start smoking, I just need a tattoo and a Birkenstock to get access to all the stores and restaurants that have shunned me without any mercy.

In terms of bad bits, there are a few. I would not get into a lot of detail but I am not really happy that a real village has been left to the mercy of these stores and the bonafide residents are left to fend for themselves. Then I am definitely not happy about all the confused Indians. They need to realize that they need to grow up, some day or the other and take charge. No, no more public service announcements.

On a serious note, to remain impartial, here are a few highlights of the village if you ask me. TLR, Kunzum, Maati are the few stores that I actually support. TLR, apart from being a great place to hang out with friends, is doing a LOT for the Indian indie music scene. Most Indian bands (some with audience as small as my blog) perform here and get to know their fans. Brilliant brilliant initiative on behalf of TLR. Kunzum is a cafe with a twist. You go, you sit, you read, you sip a coffee and then you decide what you want to pay. Beat that. Thats changing the business model on its head. Ofcourse the place makes money by selling merchandise etc but I love the idea. Someday I would copy it. Finally Maati, a teeshirt store that actually helps the community that designs their teeshirts. And apart from these three, there are tons of cool work place (the place where I am holed up for example) that are so inspiring that you could sit here and actually dream of conquering the world. And you know what? You can get the dream to come true here! That brilliant office spaces.

Guess thats about it. I am waiting for my work to get done and it had been quite a few days since I had written. Loved wiping away those cobwebs on my fingers.

To end it, I sincerely think that Hauz Khas Village is one of those must visit places for anyone who is new to Delhi. I would definitely add this to my list of things to do, if you just have ODID. If I ever get around to doing the Raju Guide thing with ODID, a visit to Hauz Khas Village would be amongst one the top 10 things to do in Delhi for sure.

Personal Finance 101 with Buxfer

As a part of Project rstlf, I decided that I need to get on top of my personal finances. I decided to keep a tab of my spends. So starting Aug 1, I have noted EVERY spend I have made on (affiliate link, if you sign up, I get $1). And here is how the summary looks like...
I will not get into absolute numbers, I dont want to tell the world the miserable and poor life I lead. The key spends are Home (I contribute about 20% to my household spend, rest comes from my dad, even though he's retired from his work more than a year), Shopping, Auto (Petrol, Parking and Toll) and Food.

Of these, I dont think I can reduce on home. In fact it would go up with time as I try and give a better and more comfortable lifestyle to my parents.

Shopping can be reduced. This month I made a large purchase, a phone. This may not be a recurring purchase and hence this could drastically come down as I have stopped splurging on shoes and am not too fond of clothes anyways.

I can reduce food as well. A large chunk of my money is spent on eating out. This is fancy restaurants, parties etc. Thankfully I dont booze and that saves a lot of money for me. Going forward, I plan to reduce this as much as I can. Eating at home will save me a lot of money. And then, maybe, just maybe it will make me fitter (which is a large part of rstlf).

Surprisingly utility payments was very little. Its part of Others. May be because my dad pays most of those and because the large component of the bills, the electricity bill, comes every two months and we dint get it in August.

So this is about it for the month of August. For next month, Sep 2012, spends could again be an aberration. Because as a part of Project rstlf, I am planning something outrageous and that would mean yet another spike in spends. Lets see how that goes.

Rant on Mediocrity

Ladies and gentlemen, could you please fasten your seat belts, get that cup mug of coffee, hot chocolate, green tea, coke, lemonade or whatever your poison is, snuggle up in your comfy seats and gear up for the rant that is about to be unleashed in next few words. This one is special because this is against my arch nemesis - Mediocrity.

I define mediocrity as an attempt at doing things without putting any thought or any serious effort. I define it as not being true to the job and merely finishing it for the sake of getting over with it. I define it as a job done without any extra effort to push limits even if it were easy to do so.

Its that simple. All you need is to ensure that you ensure that that brick you are going to put on the wall, is the best brick that you ever put.

So, why the rant, on a lovely Saturday evening? Because, it just dawned on me that despite claiming that I have oodles of talent, I have been mediocre in the way I lead my life. There are a few things where I evaluate myself on. Family, friends, work, leisure, passions. And for some reason, on all the counts, despite hating the very concept of mediocrity, I have been mediocre, if not poor. And if I was poor, I would have let go but I know I am not. And I know I can excel.

Let me elaborate. And no, I would not talk about family or friends on a public forum but I can rant about work, leisure and passions.

Work. I really think that I put in a lot of effort when I am work. But then for some reason, no one appreciates the extra effort. No one seems to see the possibilities that I see. No one is ready to buy into the grand vision that I have. May be I am a big picture guy (like all others who merely faff). To be honest it doesnt matter if people dont  buy into the grandiose plans. But then when, to justify my salary and my position, I am forced to do mediocre bad work to please egos and accountants. There has to be a way to escape the trap, just that I need to figure out. If I was an artist, it could have been easy but I am not even close.

Leisure. I am one of those who are easily excited by that new shiny thing and I thus keep hoping off from one things to another. As a result, I am that proverbial Jack of all trades and master of none. And that means that I know enough about a lot of things and yet I am not an expert. This is a good and a bad thing at the same time. Good because I can do a lot of things to distract myself when I have to. Bad because I never stick to one thing for too long to start adding value to that discipline. Come to think of it, this is yet another curse of mediocrity. I look at something, get excited about it and then leave it when I see the next interesting thing. If I want to lead a full and spectacular life, I need to bring things to closure. I need to be able to bring things to a logical conclusion. Look at rstlf for example. The first three days were great and I have slacked since!

Passion. I dont think I have a passion. Wait, how do I define passion? Its something that could go up on your epitaph. Its something that becomes your identity. So far, if I was to pick that one thing that could go up on my epitaph, it would be what? Writing? Talking? Communicating? Exploring? Poker? sgMS? India? Starting up? What? Finding it tough Mr. Garg? Exactly my point! Though I feel very strongly about a lot of things I am no where close to calling one particular thing my passion. I am no where close to  getting anything etched on my epitaph.

Like I said in a previous post, over the next 90 days, I would reset my life. I am down ten odd days already. Next few days would be hard work but then its one life we have and if not now, its probably never. You, the reader, the voyeur at home, if you are watching reading this, you are in for a roller coaster ride of emotions, ambition, action, drama, fiction... and above all... a fight against mediocrity.

This post is a part of Project rstlf.

The best kept secret of Gurgaon: Roots!

Readers of this blog (all two of you) must be aware of my travails with Gurgaon. But then like every cloud that has a silver lining, even Gurgaon has some things that make up for all the hassles and a trip to Gurgaon worth the ordeal. No I am not talking about malls or hotels or that kingdom of watevers. I am talking about places that go under the radar because they are either too small or too simple to get eyeballs. In next few days, I would try and list those.

To start with, lets me talk about the best kept secret of Gurgaon - Roots, the cafe in the park. Roots is located in the premiss of the Rajiv Gandhi renewable energy park, close to the Iffco Chowk Metro Station and is bang opposite the famous Kingdom of dreams. So its very accessible and there is no reason why you shouldn't spend an evening there.

View Larger Map

Roots is a far cry from those commercial Baristas and Cafe Coffee Days sprinkled all over the country. For starters, the place is ecofriendly and everything is cooked by solar cookers. Then the menu is organic with natural ingredients. It has things like Sarson di roti and makke da saag and Nepali platter, things that you dont really get at most "coffee shops" in India. The staff is very unobtrusive and very courteous and they let you be

And the best part, when you are at Roots, all you can see is a lush green garden, trees, kids on slides and swings and such things. You can not see a single high rise and you can not hear any traffic. The air is clean and fresh. A visit to Roots always, without fail, invigorates the damn soul, if not the mind and heart.

And since its almost a weekend, you must visit this best kept secret of Gurgaon and experience the magic by yourself. And if you do, please share your opinion on it.

Update on the Eco Mode

via This Isnt Happiness 
You may remember a recent post about I going into the Eco Mode for the next few days.

I thought about it on the 14th of August and buxfer tells me that since then, I have actually spent more money than I spend otherwise. In terms of numbers, of everything I spent in August, I spent almost 80% in just the last week! (Or read this as... I spent 4 times more money in last week than in all the other three weeks combined)

How #fail is that!

And now what has happened has happened. All I can do is try and control my expense in the remainder of the month and then maybe, spend wisely in the next month as well. 

Introducing #rstlf

Yesterday, while aimlessly driving around town with Prateek, I realized that I need to do something about the  way I am killing time these days. Most days are drab and the net output of those days is not even zero. Better were the days when I was idle and yet reading and dreaming. Now, I dont even dream!

And since its been happening for quite some time. Need to take charge and do something about. #rstlf is one such way. Simple idea. Over the next 90 days, I would change things that have been bothering me and hopefully come out as a better person after these 90 days.

To start with, here is a list of things that I need to fix. Along with each, I've put tangible goals that I would achieve in the next 90 days. I would brainstorm and detail each over the next few days, and hopefully get a better understanding. But for the time being, here is the todo list and goals for the next 90 days.

  1. Life. Realize/discover/understand what would my epitaph say. And then start working towards that.
  2. sgMS. classified!
  3. Fitness. Reduce my waist size to 30". I am 36 point something as we speak.
  4. Business. Own a business. The one that I own is stagnant. May be move it, if nothing else. Maybe think more about what Regis did way back in 70s and 80s and maybe create something similar? 
  5. Writing. Finish one of the things that I have been writing. Could be Serai or GhantaGhar. Could even by the Mumbai Diaries that I have been thinking on. 
  6. Poker. Keep track of games I play and start winning more often than losing. 
Will close these by end of this week and will stick to em for the next 90 days. Ofcourse I would have irregular timing and I may have to travel for work. Or that long impending move to Mumbai may happen. The world may come to an end, few months sooner than the December deadline... whatever may happen, I would ensure that I stick to #rstlf. I would even use a few friends to help me stay on course. So, if you are reading this and you want to help, you know where to send that email! 

I have often wished to reset life. Here is an opportunity to do so.

Thats it. Today being the 90th day, I had a very good start. Got up at 5ish, went for a brief walk. So far havent had any trace of oil or sugar. Been eating small potions after small intervals. Plan to skip dinner altogether. And then repeat this tomorrow.

Oh, why is it day 90? Because while talking with Prateek, I realized that I start these things often but never seem to reach a conclusion. He offered a brilliant advice. Start the thing at 90 and go backwards!

Happy Independence Day

Credits: Wikipedia
Tomorrow Today we, the people of India, celebrate our Independence Day. It was 15th August in 1947 when we got free from the clutches of British rule. We are now a 66 year adolescent kid. Old enough to take our own decisions and yet young enough to not commit to those. Old enough to talk magnanimous things and yet young enough to not fathom the outcomes. Old enough to dare to do great things and yet young enough to hold on to things like castes and egos.

I think its time that our collective conscious needs to take a call and either come out as young or as mature. And this call has to happen now. We can no longer hide behind the tag of developing nation. We are more than a billion and we need to take charge now. At least I need to!

As I write this, I realize that I am damn lucky to have born in a free India. Not really the most ideal outcome of the ovarian lottery but I cant complain about where I ended up. I have inherited the quintessential Indian values, culture, norms and yet I have the desire to chase the Great American Dream (no, not move to US of A but chase the tenets of the american dream - opportunity for prosperity and success). There are these two worlds that tear me apart. On one side is my societal performance where I am constantly evaluated for being the obedient son, caring brother, moral citizen and trustworthy friend. Its a life that I live for others around me. And I am not sure if I am comfortable with it. On the other side is what motivates me from within, where I see myself as someone who takes risks, does things that he wants to do, follows those hunches that often end up as wild goose chases. A life that I would have scripted by myself. I am not sure if I have the balls to chase it but in an ideal world, the two would co-exist in harmony.

This dichotomy, is not merely restricted to myself as an individual. Its larger than that. On one hand, I want to be proud of the ability to take breath in free air without any fear of anyone. And on the other, its stifling to be just another unimportant cog in the giant machinery that runs the country. I want to believe that my vote counts but I am not sure it does. Hell, I dont even have great people to vote for. I want to make a difference but I am not too sure where to start from. Come to think of it, after all these years, the Independence Day has reduced to being just another holiday when busy people like me can catch up on all those long overdue errands. For others, it may mean a day to catch up on sleep. For our schools, it means unfurling our Tiranga by the principal. For the TV channels, it means they can re-run movies like Karma, Mother India etc. For News channels, it means special programming, debates etc around sacrifices that can get them most TRPs. For politicians it means yet another opportunity to speak up and get noticed. For me, it is yet another day when I must write something or the other that makes me happy.

Guess this piece is more inspired by my state of mind rather than anything else. But anyways, while trying to talk about the trivialities, we seem to have missed a very very important thing. Its actually a question. The same one that Sahir Ludhyanvi first asked in 1957 (text, vid). Jinhe naaz hai hind par, wo kahan hai?

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?