Modern Love - Call for partnerships

Sent this email to a select set of people. Reply if you are in.
Hello, 
Writing in to explore your opinion (and help) on a new project that I am hoping to create.
I call it Modern Love and its going to be a collection of personal stories, anecdotes, experiences, incidents and other such things that emerge out of a middle-aged, modern Indian's pursuit of love. Of course, love could mean different things to different people. For some, it could be the love for their pet, for some it could be the chase of someone that they can retire with, for others it could be finding meaning in their otherwise drab married lives, or could be as cool as the love for a certain activity, thing, say driving?

Plus when I say modern, it HAS to be set in modern India, in the contemporary times. And it has to be a real life story. Your story. Your friends'. Your neighbours. Or of the guy next door. A real person with real emotions. Real story. So imagine you are writing about your experiences with your spouses, girlfriends, boyfriends, pets, colleagues, tinder dates, okCupid contacts, twitter crushes, train-friends, building buddies, instagram celebrities and so on and so forth. The common "thread" for this collection has to be modernity. And the impact of modernity on how we Indians love (or express it, or talk about it, or experience it, or indulge in it etc).

That's it!

What do you think? Will you want to contribute a story? Will you want to read these stories? Will you have the time to edit this? Will you want to tweet about this?

If yes, here are the specifics.

Who can contribute?
Each of you is a writer (some of you are published, some believe you are amateurs, some do blogs and some want to be; Plus, I've interacted with you at some point in time) and thus this email. How about I invite you to write a piece on modern love and share with me? And then allow me to publish on a blog.

OutputI am thinking of a blog right now. Once we have a blog out, if we get traction, I can pester Grapevine, my publisher or Crossword (the bookstore) to publish an anthology. Honestly, not a big fan of anthologies but I never say never :)
Or we can gather all stories and do an ebook or something - free distribution over a blog / twitter etc. Nothing fancy.

And if all goes well, I would REALLY like to do a movie. Like Love Actually, Paris, Jetaime, NY, I Love You or even Metro from closer home. Yes, a super long shot but when they landed on moon, it was a long shot come true.

The thing is, the way Christmas binds the stories in Love Actually; Paris, NY and Mumbai bound the stories together in other three movies, I would want Love and Modern Love to bind our stories together. And no. It doesnt have to be hyperlink cinema. 
Target AudienceI do NOT believe in writing for a specific audience. I write for writing. However if this helps you write, think that you are writing for a 30-something adult in India. Above average income, independent, "educated" and has been in and out of love for some time. Someone who is aware of the world around him. Someone who has an opinion. Someone who believes that his / her love story is unique. Someone like me.

Word LimitsNone. I am ok with a couplet. I am ok with an entire book. You are free to a Proust if you want to. You decide. How many words do you need to tell your story? 
Selection CriteriaI don't know. I am not a great judge. I thinking that each submission will be made live on a blog. And then let the wisdom of crowds take over. Or I will ask some of you to volunteer and help us.

MoneyI am not even thinking on this. But, in case you are, whatever money we make, I will keep the numbers in public domain and all of it will be donated to Mensa India (or any other apt beneficiary we can think of). Please do NOT do this for money. Rather, do this for love!

End NotesAnd like all my projects, this remains open - in terms of details. And unlike other projects, I am very sure that I want to do this.

It would be such a heartwarming thing to read stories of other people like ourselves. No?

Also, you may want to read www.nytimes.com/column/modern-love for some fascinating reading. And I think Love Actually is the closest thing to what I have in my head for this project.

Please do revert to me with your thoughts and ideas. In case you are ok with the details I've shared, please do send me a confirmation of your participation by end the week?

Will take it from there.

Thanks for your patience.

Regards,
@saurabh

Rant: #foreverAlone and loneliness

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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


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

Do I have someone like that? No.

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

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

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

The Career Counsellor
This is a tough one.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

May be this vacuum adds to my unhappiness?

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

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

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

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

More eventually.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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


***

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

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

Is the dopamine going through my blood faster? No!

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

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

Ok. enough.

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

Over and out.

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

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

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

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

Rant on Digital India

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Over n out.

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

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

365 New Chances

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

But...

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

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


Also, yesterday two super cool things happened.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

That's it for the time being.

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

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

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

#in2017, I will

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Saurabh Garg
1 Jan 2017
Mumbai

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

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

Untitled. Rant. Crib.

Alert: Read at your own peril.

I am going to rant. And rant hard. For I dont know what else to do. I think I am feeling weltschmerz (is that the correct usage? Or is it "suffering from"? I dont even know and you know who taught me about the word? Uday freakin Chopra! And read this article while you are at it). Or may be I am senile - after all I am old enough. I could be frustrated out of my wits. I could be a sore loser. I could be whoever. I have to speak my mind. I dont have a mountain where I could climb atop and scream my lungs out. I wish I had one. Or even an echo chamber. Nah. Or am empty room on the top of a high-rise. Nada.

But, I do have this blog. So here I am.

Rant. In no order.

People who cant work
At work, I try and juggle multiple balls and as a result I meet a lot of people. Most are ok - they do what is expected from them. Some are great at what they do. And some, they just suck. They suck at how they work. May be they are not capable. May be they are capable but are lazy. May be they dont see the big picture. May be there is no pride in being who they are. May be they are amazing and I suck. May be the two of us cant work together. The fault is in the damned stars. So, if the stars are not aligned, may be I need to find a way to steer away from them. Especially as I gear up for 2017.

I know I am being judgmental. I know I am not great at a lot of things I do. But then I try hard, I push myself. I show the intent of working. I try and I fail. But I do not give bloody excuses. Need to make things happen. Need to ship. No more slacking. No more working with people who are lazy. Not any more.

Egos bigger than the freaking Shivaji statue! 
Again at work, I meet people who [in their heads] are larger than life and love to play the blame game. They pass on the buck like those footballers dribble towards a goal. But unlike getting to a goalpost, the shit just gets pushed around in the middle with no end in sight.

What I need is people who ship (like Steve kept saying all his life). People who take ownership and are not scared of taking action. I want to err on the side of action. I am ok losing money, reputation but I want to move forward. Not get stalled.

Traffic in Mumbai
[This is where I rant on non-work things. Phew.]

Traffic in Mumbai has been written about almost everyone - including those who haven't even been here. To be honest, it was actually bearable for a large part. Lately, for some reason, you cant reach from point A to B without getting jacked. I suspect this is because of the construction of Metro. I could be wrong though. Irrespective, I need to find a solution. I cant be stuck in traffic as life passes by me. I mean I am 34. I am mediocre. And yet arrogant. I am poor and yet my head is up my ass so high that I cant see shit. I need to... [look how I started talking of traffic and I am talking about myself. If this is not signs of a disease, what is this?]

Coming back. I need to find a solution to the traffic problem. My work (and hustle) requires me to be on the go all the time and meet people. So traffic is inevitable. I just need to find a way to be able to manage all this and yet grow.

Pool
I recently picked up the cue after ages. I was never a great player but I've always enjoyed being on the table. In fact I love everything competitive. I like when there are goals and I can practise towards them. [This is way different from how I was earlier - where I would want to be left alone and I would want to do things at my pace. Now, I want a measurable targets and the ability and freedom to choose how I work on those]

So, last couple of weeks, I have played almost every day for 30 minutes. Thats a lot of practise for a recreational player. Enough to do well at the table. But I am stuck. I cant seem to hit a straight shot. I dont know how to bank. I've never been able to pull a ball back after you hit a shot. And I am someone who loves the game. WTF is this!

And while I am at it, my other forms of recreation - poker, drives and writing - have seemed to dried up in last few months. I need to get back to em somehow.

Health
Last few days I have some close shaves. There are bruises, cuts, inflammations, pain and dont know what all.

So yeah. The rant. I think I need a break. From the world. From work. From friends. From family. From damned myself. I need to be away and go without a computer. Or a phone. I just want need to go somewhere cold, sleep for hours under a blanket, chase simple pleasures of life - walking, small-talk, tea, coffee etc. And the way things are stacked, I am at least a year away from that.  I actually may get to go away for 4 days between the 5th and 9th of Jan. Yay! 

But then 2016 has been a great year for me. I need to may be let this momentarily lapse in confidence go past me. Thing is, the holiday season could not cheer me up. And the other things that make me happy - travel, money, time, sgMS, I am not getting any of those. So, I dont know what to do and how to be happy. Someone said it perfectly on twitter: "My aalloo parantha is half burnt and thus I cant wait for 2016 to get over." Well, I don't have no aaloo parantha but I cant wait to start 2017.

Over n out.

P.S.: This is the 50th post of the year. Well done, considering how busy I was. #in2017, I promise to write about 100 posts. I know it sucks to focus on quantity but then I am not a wonder kid and I need to do a lot of work to be able to get one tiny thing that is out of the world. Wish me luck.

P.P.S.: Now that I have written this, I think the reason for the gloom is that a lot of small things have piled up, have been piling up for some time and they just came crashing onto me at the same time.

P.P.P.S.: As I write this, iTunes played Neil Young. Now I know what feeling the blues is. Universe, as SRK said, conspires!

Untitled - 8 Dec 2016

So last night, after a long day (where I did not do much to be honest - most of the time was spent in meetings) I was in this super ranty mood. Thankfully, I did not crib much and went to read after posting just one tweet.

For the context, over the last few days I have been putting in super long hours at work. And couple that with my sickness and stupid visits to the doctor at all hours, I am exhausted. So exhausted that there is this small voice in my head that is asking me to let go. It is telling me that I can put all the dreams on a side and go work for a regular company, draw a fat salary and then whatever time I have left after the enforced slavery, I invest that into things that I want to pick up - travel, poker, guitar, fitness, pool and so on and so forth. Impact, individuality, creativity, ego, meaning and everything that I have stood for could go to hell and burn. Burn till even the ashes are burnt. Without leaving a trace of the original Saurabh Garg. I mean how bad could it be to walk around in formal clothes all the time with an identity card dangling from the pocket of that boring shirt you are wearing, while walking to the nearest Starbucks with your colleagues, everyone faking laughter over inane jokes that you would otherwise cringe at? Plus little things will be taken care of - things like coffee machine, AC, stationary, credit cards, home loans. And then I am told you get to enforce your ego on people who report to you and then there is this promise of hunger games. Plus there is some travel once in a while to all those fancy places and the best part? You dont travel like a pauper - you are actually put in a nice hotel and you are not that budget traveller holding on to every rupee (thinking twice before buying that Frappuccino because you can use that money to buy the admission ticket to a museum), ogling at airline lounges with a longing that should be reserved for a lover and most importantly, spend time taking selfies rather than gathering experiences - after all those selfies will get likes on Facebook and make your colleagues jealous and become water-cooler conversations! No?

But then, there is this another voice in my head. Smaller than the one I that wants me to go wear that uniform. This voice tells me that I have a gift. From God, from Providence, from Universe, from that thing that controls all the shit that happens around us, from that random walk of atoms or may be from the randomness around us. The gift of education, a supportive family, an environment that allows me to think, an opinion and the balls and the ability to voice the opinion. Out of 7 billion of us, dont think more than a handful are like that. And its such a crime to not do so when you've won the ovarian lottery.

Thing is, work fills such a large part of life that it sucks to not make meaning with what I do. I just hope that someday all these 16-17 hour days that I am putting in, they count for something in the end. I dont know what is the end. And I dont know what I mean when I say I hope they count. May be its the money I'd make - to be able to buy a star. Or may be its the impact - that I can help impact a billion lives. And I dont know when that would happen. I just want to know that all this is not worthless. I am not a mere cog in the wheel. I am not insignificant. May be it will. May be it will not. I wish I could say I dont care. But I am human. With my ups and downs and last few days have been a string of downs. I need to see a freaking light. Come on, Universe, show me a sign. Please. Your favorite child is imploring!

The year gone by has been very tough and I have slogged really hard. Harder than I have worked in all my life put together. I have made mistakes and I am definitely better than what I was this time last year. They have to add up. They have to stand for something. And the funny thing is, I dont see that happening. May be it will. Hopefully sooner than later. And then, that day, I'd look back to this blogpost and laugh it away.

Some day. Inshallah.

Till then...

The Fanboy Misunderstanding and other things

The Chief Minister of Tamil Nadu, J Jayalalita, passed away last night (or may be it was early morning - either way, I dont care). She was unwell for some time and good that her suffering has ended. I did not know much about her and I dont know if I want to know about her. Politics interest me but I am far from making it my profession and hence. Anyway, the point is not her death. The point is that I fail to understand what makes the common man get so fanatical about the fandom for a political / public figure that he's crying out loud and is ok to get down to rampage. I saw the same first hand when Balasaheb passed away. I heard of similar stories when Rama 9 went away. People were on fasts and all that when Amitabh Bachchan was injured while shooting for Coolie. I mean what makes people go that fanatic?

Me on the other hand, the guy that I have been the biggest fan of, Steve Jobs, when I heard he had died, I was sad. I actually had tears. But after a bit, I was ok. I did not want to destroy things. I took inspiration from his life and I decided to do more with mine. I was sad but then I was not that vocal about things. May be its me. May be I am broken. Whatever it is. I will not understand what makes people do things they do. May be I would never know.

Moving on. Next thing on my mind is reading. I spent a large part of the day reading and I loved it. Not a book but articles, news and other such things. I realised how much I loved reading. I had forgotten how it was to read. I have to start reading again. I am going to get hold of books and read them while commuting, while waiting and so on and so forth.

While staying on the topic, I need to start writing again. Everyday.

Thing is, I have to take back the control of my life. I can not be a slave to work. If I have to cut down on work, I will. So the things that I need to pick up are reading, writing, connecting with people, learning new hobbies, teaching and traveling.

Phew! Thats it for the time being.

P.S.: Not the best of "blog-post" but there is something out and that counts more than anything else. Onward and upward.

The Inquiry into (our) Immortality

Note: This is the second time when I am considering my morality. Last time, it was a Hernia. This time, I dont know yet - I still need to see a doc. May be by EOD today. Or tomorrow first thing. 

So, something happened and I am worried that I am dying. Of course with each passing day I am walking a step toward to my death, but in the normal course of things, its not happening anytime soon. I think I have another 50 years or so, if all goes well. And if they find a solution to the ageing problem, who knows. What I meant by 'I am dying' is that I may have a disease that could expedite the process and I may not have those 50 years. Far less. Something like less than a year.

A week back I thought I was going to die. Despite my known aversion for doctors and hospitals, I went and went through the process. At the end of which the doc has still not been able to find out what caused it and if there would be a reoccurrence. But they've given me a clean chit of health.

While I am relieved, there were a few days when I thought my time has come. And all sort of thoughts clouded my head - good and bad. Motivating and depressing. There were questions on the reason of our existence. The future. The life after death. The non-stop wheel of life. The tick-tock. And...

Anyhow. The thing is I realised that the suspense hurts more than the actual outcome. Probably, the actual outcome hurts more. I wont know till I go. But if I knew, I could prepare for things. I could move on. Actually, come to think of it, this is a good time to plan for it.

So, hypothetically, assuming I have less than a year, what would I do? Here is a list, in no particular order.
  • Spend as much time with my family as possible. Of course you cant be just at home and while away time. I will have to find a vocation, some work that fills in large part of the time. What it essentially means is that I will not waste time in commute, long meetings and all such things. 
  • Try and make as much money as I can so that my family has it comfortable once I am gone. Of course not do things that make random people chase them.  
  • Say sorry to everyone who I my've rubbed the wrong way. While I try to not do it in the first place, I am sure there are people who'd have a bone to pick with me. I will fix those relationships. 
  • Work on my fitness. Well, funny as it may sound but till the last minute I dont want to be supported. This is the scariest and sorriest image I've ever seen (alert: open at your own risk).
  • Write more. You could write all you want and it will always be less. I dont know why I love to write. I dont really have anything great to give back in terms of what I write. My writing style is super simple. What I write is not deep. My grammar is anyway limited. So, why write? I dont know. But I have to. May be, do it for the sake of doing it. Its about time I start working on it. Today. 
  • Clean my tracks. I am not sure how to go about doing this but I mean when I am gone, I dont want someone else to sort through my books, my drawers, my almirahs, my phone, my email and other "my" things and go through the agony and pain. May be this is why minimalism is such a revered way of life! 
Thats about it. Come to think of it, it could be tomorrow. Or it could be a year. Or 50 years. Or 500. How about work on these things from today? Why not! So, may be, I will start those things. I am already on the way to some of those. I just need to expedite it! What about you? Do you have a plan? What if you had a year? Or less?

The sickness also made me dig my notes that I had made when I was unwell last time around. I did a quick comparison and found out that a lot has changed since then. I am actually a better person! 

Here's how. 

A. I am little more on track - I still dont know what I want from life but I think I enjoy life on a day to day basis (including work, personal relationships, family etc). I have some savings. I have a vague plan. I have people who are helping me put those plan in motion. I have identified my purpose in life (which is to help others achieve their purpose - lol but I am serious). I have started taking some action. Brings me to the next point.

B. This time there is action. Unlike all my life where I have just planned, I am actually doing things. Rajesh is in a large part responsible for this. Agony aunt is for the other large part. sgMS remains a motivation. The point is, now there is action, I dont want to stop. I can not die without achieving what I am destined to. And if I do die before that, it would be a shame. On me and on Universe.

C. I believe I am more ready to give back. To impact. To pay it forward. Something that I have largely believed to be my life goal, my life purpose (read A as well). And now that I am so close to it, it would be a shame to go without doing it.

So yeah. This is it. Apologies for a not-so-happy post to start the day and the week. But its something that sooner we confront, better it is.

And in case you want to help me, point me to things that help me do A, B or C faster. Or better.

Thanks!

P.S.: I sincerely dont know if I am dying or if this is a mere hyperbole, I do believe that life is short.

P.P.S.: Why a blog? Because I dont know how else to confront it. I am too weak to talk about this seriously to someone I know. Does this tell me something about myself? May be.

P.P.P.S.: There are more times when I've thought of dying. While flying, while thinking about sgMS (I dont want to die ever when am with her). When Steve Jobs died. And lately I've been reading books by people who knew who were dying and they wrote memoirs - Paul Kalanithi, Randy Pausch, Eugene O Kelly. In fact last night I saw this video where it echoes my feelings about love. The point is, it is such a powerful thing that you realise the insignificance of it all. Everything that bothers you, has bothered you is of no freaking consequence!

The unbearable difficulty of being me!

The title is inspired by this book by Kundera. Do read in case you get an opportunity - its a fascinating read. The kinds that I would love to write some day. May be book 5 or 6. Dont know which one. Anyhow, coming back to the task at hand, it is NOT easy being me. There are multiple dimensions to it. But let me talk about one in particular - The way I dress up.

There are two kinds of people in the world. The ones who love the way I dress. And the ones who hate the way I dress. The former is an exclusive club where I think the sum total of all members is about 1. The later, well, it unites everyone like no other religion has ever united men and women - they come together in their hatred for how I dress.

But of course I dont understand the malice. I mean, what's wrong in wearing a pair of red shorts and bright green tee? I dont know why a pair of shoes is such an important part of your attire that you cant enter an "exclusive" club without it. I still refuse to believe that I cant spend my entire life in a pair of shorts and a white cotton tee-shirt. I mean whats wrong about it? And what is this entire thing about judging people on the basis of clothes you wear? The other day the guard at my building told me that if he dint know me by face, he wont let me enter the housing complex. I mean, really? Am I my clothes? The way I dress up?

The other piece about my dressing up is that I do not spend a lot of money on clothes - I dont feel the need. I have exactly one pair of denims, 6-7 shirts and 6-7 tees. I wear the same pair of denims to work, to parties, to meetings, to market and to all such places where you expect a man to "dress us." I do not have jackets. I do have a formal pair of trousers, reserved for super special occasions like weddings of close friends etc. Last I wore it was a year back when Gandhi got married. And next time I am going to wear it is when another super close friend / relative gets married - even if its in 2020.

So, this past weak, the only pair of denims I have, it got torn. And since I cant wear a tattered pair of clothing to work (why not?), I had to buy one. And this is where the other part of difficulty of being me came up. I can NOT shop. I am ok dying, ok with public speaking, ok with a bungee jump, I am not frightened by the prospect of asking a girl out, but I cant shop. I cant goto store, try multiple options and then choose one and come back. Its a chore. Its an unnecessary evil.

The other hard part is that I cant outsource it to someone as because my body type is unique. I have short legs, big thighs and a heavy paunch. The fit thus is like piecing together a jigsaw. And there are like handful options, that many brands, that much patience. Yesterday, I did venture out to a mall and I did try 4-5 pairs. But none fit in and I could not buy. And I feel sad about it. I feel dejected. I feel so stupid that I want to take the pledge to lose weight and fit into every available skinny fit pair of denims. Or still better, ask someone to pick a pair of denims per my waist size. Yeah! That's gonna be better. Aim for a waist size and fit into every available pair of denim for that size.

Game on, Mr. Garg.

P.S.: The other difficulties of being me, lemme talk about them as and when I get time. 
P.P.S.: Good to be back to writing! This is the second day on the trot and I must continue the momentum. 

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?