2011. What did I get? What did I lose?

Found on This Isnt Happiness
Its that time of the year when almost everyone, including me, is waiting for the new year to begin. I thought it would be apt to take a stock of things. Lets make simple lists.

What did I lose?
  • Lost sgMS.
  • A friend, who has been very close to me for last five years or so (made friends with her, right after MDI I think), who at one point in time was probably closet to me. No she dint die or something. We aren't talking any more. Hope she is doing well.
  • Steve jobs. Not that he was my best buddy or something but I did look forward to everything that he did. His speeches, interviews, launches, ideas etc. Now that he is gone, I dont really have a role model. In fact I know for a fact that wherever he is, if hes there somewhere, he would be making grandiose plans to make that part better. 
  • Stopped drinking coke. I loved coke so much that it was unthinkable for me to survive without it. I haven't had it for 6 months! 
  • Respect for Naukri. This is one of the first intangibles. Before 2011, I use to think that working for someone else is really cool. Systems would be in place, people would respect you for your brains and all that but then I realized its a big sham. Not talking about my workplace per se but been talking to a lot of people about work.

What did I get?
  • <tapping fingers on the table, trying to cook up things I may have achieved in this year>
  • <still thinking>
  • <still thinking>
  • <there must be something Mr. Garg>
  • <you cant be that worthless>
  • <tap tap tap>
  • <arrgggh>
  • <I give up>
Now you know why am I looking forward to 2012 so much? 

That flunky in white shirt

Before I get into more details, lets get a few things straight.
  1. I love wearing white shirts. Especially if they are made of linen. And if they are from Cotton World Corp. Or UCB. So much so that I wear them that often that if I was famous, it could have been my trademark. Much like Steve's black turtlenecks and Jeff's pale blue shirts. 
  2. Of course when you live in Delhi and you work requires you to be inches away from dust and grime and other things, these white shirts would get dirty. And crumpled. And after a while, despite how well you wash them, they would look pale and old. Even if they are new. Even CWC and UCB shirts look old after you have worn them three or four times. 
  3. The way I dress is none of anybody's concern. I like the way I dress and I want to be comfortable. If given a choice between dressing up for a party in a three piece suit where I may get an opportunity to meet a really hot woman vs dressing up in a white shirt and shorts (or a faded jeans hanging low), despite it being unacceptable in any respectable event, I would chose the later. I like being comfortable with my clothes and I dont give two hoots about what others think of it. Well I did change a lot, thanks a lot to constant feedback from sgMS, Rr and Neo's wife. I was like a 100 times worse than what I am right now.
  4. I love my beard. I know it looks bad and is scrawny at best. But I love it. Probably more for the convenience of not shaving every day. I love it so much that I dont mind keeping one.
Now that we have established a few ground rules, let me come to the reason why I was prompted to write this post. No wait, not prompted, but FORCED to write this. I mean no one held my hands and made me type this thing up but I was so furious that I had to write this. 

Today at work, why have I been talking about work lately on this blog? I have never been the kinds to actually talk about work! Anyways debate for a different day. So today, at work, I was standing with my boss and there were some 100 more men behind me in a huge hall working on something. The client, who I may add, is probably half my age and yet probably one-tenth senile than I am, ambles across the hall, points a finger at me and tells my boss, how can that flunky in white shirt dress up like that and come to work. 

The flunky in question here is, me! The white shirt in question is what Rr bought for me. Her fashion sense, IMHO, is better than anyone I have met (including sgMS). Dress up like that means a white shirt, a blue jeans and a pair of white shoes. Work means construction of a huge hall where we had some 100 other men who are lot less fortunate than I and have very limited means to spend on their clothing. If someone asked me, I would have said that I was looking great in what I was wearing. Ofcourse the belt and the socks did not match but thats ok. I am not really fashion conscious and like I said in point 4 above, I dont give too hoots!

It dint piss me off that he commented on the way I dress. I have more enemies that Obama, Osama, Anna Hazare combined for the way I dress. What fucked my head was the reference to me as "that flunky in white shirt". What the fuck! A flunky! I mean I know that I am a nobody and tomorrow if I was to disappear from mother Earth, no one would miss me but I hated being called a flunky. Google defines flunky as
A person who performs relatively menial tasks for someone else, esp. obsequiously.
Am I a flunky to my boss? May be. Did I like being called a flunky? Hell no. Will I do something about it? Ofcourse Yes!!

And thats about it. Really.

P.S.: Fiction! No, really. I mean it. I cooked this up because I dint have no shit to work on today. 

The Rebel of Mediocrity

Police Line. Do Not Cross. 
If you read my blog yesterday, buried deep amongst the other rant was a comment about my office implementing mandatory frisking while exiting AND entering the building. Yesterday was the first day. I just took a note of it and dismissed it as yet another nuisance I had to encounter on my way to office (other ones being traffic, cops, bad drivers, distance, bad musico n FM etc).

But today, the dude did it again. Twice. While going to office. And now, about two hours back, on my way back. And both the times, he had this irritating stupid what-can-i-do smile on his face. And it pissed the hell out of me.

I mean I understand that frisking is for our safety. I understand that the security guard, who does not really have any qualifications to be called a guard (he is more of a doorman), is merely doing his job. I also understand that even if frisking does not check pilferage, it would be a deterrent to miscreants. I also understand that all hotels, airports, important buildings conduct rigorous checks before they let you in their premises. All that is fine. I am a visitor and they must do their checks, if they want to. But here, I am damn bonafide employee. Its like a marriage. Both the employer and I have agreed to work for each other. Both are in a professional relationship. I render my services to the employer and they reimburse me for my time and effort. But that does not mean that I am disrespect. I understand security and data and other things that are very critical in the la la land but dude, where is my respect?

And despite all this understanding, there are a few things that I fail to understand. The first and foremost being how is frisking of my bag preventing me from stealing things? I also cant understand that why is that employees below a certain level are frisked only? Cant the people at CXO level steal? In fact if I were the CTO, I would have told myself, there is no way the security guard is gonna touch my bag. Let me just pocket that super cool Kohinoor diamond that has been fixed on the level to flush the pot. And in a building that houses 60 odd people and as many visitors a day, there a very high chances that no one would ever point at me. I would be rich beyond my dreams overnight.

You know, its plain, simple stupid. Of course its a free market and I did raise my concerns but then, why would I be heard? Wouldn't that mean coming up with inconvenient answers about some petty theft that would have happened in the office 20 years back? And if they did check on it, they would realize that more than the thief, it must be someone else who wouldnt have done his job properly and misplaced it.

Dear boss, the admin manager and everyone else who decided to impose the mandatory frisking, of employees below a certain level, if I may add, the rule sucks. So much so that I am actually considering moving out. Please dont be surprised if the guard finds in my bag, a stolen laptop. And when you boot that laptop, the desktop has just one file on. My resignation. How would that be? Neat!

Like Neo says, all of are mere idiotic pawns! We move when we are told to. We sit when we are told to. No one needs us and yet they need us. And no one appreciates the damn opinion that we may have. And like Hugh says, every pawn aspires to be the king some day! I do too.

P.S.: I think this is the mediocre me who is trying to rebel his way out of the mask of extraordinary that I have adorned. I call this the rebel of mediocrity. More on it soon!

Take your pick!

Steve Jobs. I dont know the source.
Its one of those days when I want to write. I have no clue what direction would this post take and how would it end. But I want to write. And write till I am tired of typing on the really small HP Mini keypad.

So I can talk about my Poker addiction. I am not sure if it qualifies as an addiction yet but I tend to spend at least four hours everyday, almost everyday on playing online poker. No, I dont play with real money. I play with play money and play just the freerolls. Btw, I started a poker blog in 2009. Preflop.wordpress.com. Do check it out.

Or do I talk about the stupid rule that they have enforced in office where they check our bags every morning and evening. I have no clue how can they track all the times during the day when I leave the building and how would they even know if I stole something that is of no apparent value to the guard but still is an important asset.

I can also talk about my new found love AND hatred for Quora. Love the platform and love the fact that it allows me the chance discovery of things that I would have otherwise skipped. And hate for the latest feature that they call boards.

I may even talk about my latest quirk where I window shop for... jobs! Something told me to create a profile on Naukri.com and ever since I did that, I have been flooded with job offers interview calls that promise me a salary package starting at 10K a month and going upto "best in the industry". Some expect me to have my own two vehicle with a valid drivers license. And for the advantage of all the consults who look at my profile on naukri.com, I am not looking out right now. Unless you offer me a three time salary. And your client allows me to keep a beard.

Or I can talk about my wallpaper that changes every 10 minutes. It ensures that there is something new to see every time I goto the desktop. And all these are the images that I have gathered over time, in a folder called imagesBank. These are the ones that I save and then never go back to. With these images on loop, I get to see these. Serendipity anyone? Like right now, its Steve Jobs sitting on a swing. Attached above for easy reference. I have no clue what would it be next time I go the desktop.

I can also talk about recent spurt in activity on twitter (I am @saurabh there). Not that I am jobless again but it just means that I am now back to being what I was three years back. Pseudo social. Trying to track some interesting people and hopefully making their acquaintance. Why would I do that? I dont know. I love quoting Joker on this. So much so that its my twitter profile. It goes... "Like The Joker says... A guy without a plan. A dog chasing cars. Wouldn't know what to do with one if I caught one. I just... do things.". So I do things. I just do them.

I may also want to talk about my latest project. Offbeat Mag. But then it will be too immature to talk about it. I am not really sure what I want to do with it. I shall talk about it eventually. Right now, let it be what it is. An experiment. 

Thats it I guess for the time being. My fingers are freezing. Lemme get them some sun. And now that I have given you, dear readers, so many options to chose from, pray tell me what would you want to know more details about and I shall try and come up with a brilliant post!

Dear Diary,

Last night, I had a dream. In the dream, I was reading van Gogh's letters (primarily to his brother and some to other assorted people) and when I woke up, I realized that though a maintain this blog, use notepads to scribble thoughts and keep notes as text files on my computers, I have never had a diary per se. And the thought of keeping a dairy sounded interesting. Like it would be so cool to know what was I thinking on, say, 9th Dec 2007.

It goes without saying that I enjoy writing and I am big fan of recording things, may be I can put the blame on applications like Evernote, but can I (or should I) turn this obsession of writing into maintaining a diary?

Of course the answer is not easy. Here is a list of questions that I need to answer before I decide on the  diary.
  • Would I actually go back to the diary at a later date and read what was I thinking on a given day in distant past? Do I do that with the blog? After all I have been writing for well over 7 years now!
  • Will the process of writing, give me some clarity about things that are cluttering my head? Both in the long run and the short run? For example, blogging helps me put things in perspective and allows me to meet new and interesting people. Would a secret diary give me some clarity in my head?
  • Would I have time to record my thoughts on a regular basis? Is the investment of time worth the returns that one gets from maintaining a diary? I dont know at this stage. A blog is a no obligation method where I am not reporting into anyone and I have keep motivating myself to write every once in a while. And more so when I dont have any regular readers! With a diary, there is no possibility of a reader ever.
  • And last but not the least, there have been tons of notes that I have saved over the years. I need to figure a way to quickly get them at one place? Preferably on Evernote? How is this important to the  diary? They are not but then if I am going to have a diary, I would want all notes, past, present and future, at one place.
And then there are trivial things like the medium, the frequency, privacy etc.

When faced with these sort of decisions, I need to be able to put some filters in place to help me find answers. Right now, I have a very vague idea about those filters.

Anyways, coming back to the diary, I am not sure if I really really want one. The idea is tempting though. Or may be I would try recording some thoughts on some days and see how it goes.

The final answer, as of now, is No. I may reevaluate it at some other day in future but in the meanwhile I would try and get all my scribbles on Evernote. 

Do you guys maintain a daily diary? If you do, what are the best practices (if I may)?

I wrote this post as "dairy" and I realized that I have used this word like ten times and each place, it was incorrect! Thanks to N for correcting me!

Anatomy of a productive day at work

Today, unlike all other days, at almost 8 PM, I am slightly content about how this day has gone by. I reached work at 11ish. Did most of the things on my todo list (that I made at around 9 before I left home for work), killed lot of time (on random tweets, reading and writing), listened to my favorite music, ate a good lunch, spoke to Neo and my sis and finished the bplan for WML that I had been meaning to write for three months. Like they say, I was totally in the zone and I was loving it. Of course I got bored of all the work and took long and generous breaks. But I always came back to do more things and get more things done.

Anyways, so what happened today that does not happen on all the other days that I am in office? The answer is surprisingly simple! There was no one in office, on my floor. Not even my bosses. Everyone was travelling and I had the entire 800 sq ft of floor to myself. I had no one to get engaged in gossip with. There were no distractions. I could sing, swear, shout, play music, sit anywhere, put my legs up on the chair, roam around, have my tea and do everything with complete disregard to anyone and anything. And most importantly, I realized, there was no one who I wanted to prove to that I was working and adding value to the company. I was on my own! And this I think, did all the magic. I need to be on my own to be able to do things. Merely putting the headphones and listening to loud music does not help!

Now, as I am having dimsums and Maggi (ya, together), reading Uncrunched and playing Poker, I am content about the way I spent this day. If I could chose, I would want to spend most of my working days like this. Remember Kwan? I just need to create more such opportunities where I am trapped in a secluded corner with no one watching me work. And get things done.

Once I crack the right formula, nothings gonna stop me baby. The work on the magic formula has started. Hopefully before 2012, I would get it out of the way. Talking about 2012, as we enter 2012, its time for all those resolutions that we make and conveniently forget by the 15th of January! I certainly have mine and this time, its not a list, but is a whole damn mindmap. So as we step into 2012, I plan to take a large printout of the mindmap and paste it at a place where I can see it everyday. I am even going to give a copy of the mindmap to VK (my agony aunt, mentor, friend, philosopher, bouncing board etc) and ask her to ensure that I do those things. And then, I would freaking go ahead and do those things. Of course I cant really control the outcomes but I can try and maximize my chances of success. And that is what I am going to do.

Like she says, its a sign, I can see the writing on the wall. Just need to get into the zone more often!

P.S.: I just lost 80% of my stack with pocket Aces! Arrrghh!

RIP 2011

Though I dont really believe in pandits and/or astrological predictions, SS02Sep once told me that some world famous pundit has told her that I'd be filthy rich in 2011. This was sometime during the MDI days. Since then, I continuously cribbed that 2011 was really far and I couldn't wait for it to begin and all that.

But when 2011 started, I was elated. My life long quest to get rich was coming to an end. I had some plans, a few vague ideas, a lot of hope and large amounts of desperation when I started the year. And I knew that the combination of all these four would ensure that I do well for myself.

And like all other years that have come and gone, 2011 came and its almost over. About 10 days to go. And I am far away from being rich. VERY far. So far that I'd have to postpone it to 2012. So, during the year, I did get a few opportunities and I did spot them. But then just when I thought, that was it, things would drift away from me. Not once, not twice, but thrice! And apart from work, 2011 made a dent in my personal life as well.

No point getting into details here but 2011 sucked. The entire year. Lost more than I achieve to be honest. Both personally and professionally. Am glad that its almost over. This is one of those proverbial bottoms and from here on things can only become better. Hope 2012 is better. It better be.

And to be honest, if it 2012 doesn't make me, I would have to accept defeat and sink deep in the bowels of regular naukri and thus, mediocrity.

December is here!

Dear Brand Heads, Executive Creative Directors, Creative Directors, Account Planners, Client Servicing Managers and all the other assorted executives.

If in the fervor of all the dinners, karaoke parties, night outs, account wins and people movement, you have forgotten the impending deadline, let me take the liberty of gate crashing into the party and reminding you of the date. December is here! Hit the panic button guys and girls. After all it’s that time of the year again. The time when all of you scramble to find friends, relatives, neighbors, strangers and even mothers-in-law who own businesses. Apart from all the regular work that you do for your regular clients, the time to submit entries for the award shows is almost here. End of December!

I know most of you would be getting into serious thinking workshops. And workshops mean free tee-shirts with funny one-liners in large fonts on the front and giant logos on the back. It also means a location like Goa or Kerala for most of the creative team. And that means it’s time for those flip-flops, spaghettis (or is the noodle the flavor of the season?), cargo shorts, large sunglasses to come out of the closet. Women might want to go to the beauty parlors for their manicure and pedicures. Men may want to start with their gyms. These workshops are serious affairs after all. And so are the party sessions with free flowing booze where you get to hit on that cute art director who you never had the courage to speak to in all these months! And of course you are supposed to write a few award winning ads that could be sent to Europe, Asia and Goa for judging by your NCD and their friends.

Anyways, coming to the point, here is my offer. I am in process of launching a brand of bathing cakes. This is a product targeted at the young (at heart) and discerning Indian. Since this is a handmade product (which means it is actually made by poor village women), it is slightly expensive than the regular soaps made by the assembly lines. This also means that I am not using any chemicals or any harmful things in it. And as a direct result, the cost of manufacturing this is high. And to make some profit, I have to keep the price point a little higher than the best selling luxury bathing soap in India. So you may safely say that the positioning would be premium. Yes, you read it right. Young and Premium. Which other brand can you think of that lets you justify these two keywords this easily? After all this is a prerequisite for making a brand cult. Look at any of those cult brands. They all have had these humble beginnings. So, for this bathing cake, I need a brand name, a logo, packaging and a launch campaign.

I hereby invite all the agencies and individuals to come and present their thoughts on the product. When I say thoughts, I don’t really mean long presentations but I just want one small write up on how you plan to approach the brand. Once you have done so, I shall shortlist 6 of you and let you guys invite me to your offices so that you may present your pitch with spec shots of the campaign that you would create for me. And then, after much thought and deliberation, I shall award the business to one of you. I will do the press releases and create media bytes so that your agency is covered by all the leading websites and magazines. And you could then enter your work, for my brand, to all the award shows and books. I would of course give you a letter proclaiming that you are the godsend creative outfit that helped me launch a product in this very difficult and competitive market. Everyone would obviously know the importance of this letter. No award entry can be submitted without this letter. Clients do get their dues.

And guys, I am damn serious about this. I have this brand to launch and I am running short of ideas to do so. The investor is breathing down my neck and is after my life to do the launch. I will be an awesome client and would not bug you for meeting the deadlines. There are no mandatories and that means you have no thick brand books to read. You can create it out of thin air and I will still approve it. Trust me I am fast with approvals. I am a one man company with me being the Brand Manager, the Marketing Director, the owner of the company and the owner’s prodigal son.

You know, it’s a typical win-win situation we are looking at. You get to do a launch campaign for a brand that could potentially win you lions, pencils, stencils and all other cherished trophies. I get the identity done and get to launch the brand. And did I mention that unlike other ads that you release in December where you pay for the ad space, I don’t really mind spending on the media (in Free Press Journal at Indore, Kolkata, Jallandhar and all the other obscure places where you may want to release the creatives). This may help you sell the idea to your branch head, who, apart from the awards that his branch wins, is also concerned about the profits and targets that have been set by bosses sitting in Americas and Europe.

I have tried to give you as much information I could about the new brand that I want to launch, but if you still need more information, please send your briefing formats (if you actually have a document like that) to me and I shall revert with a brief that you can comprehend and work on.

And one last word. You need to be very fast on this. After all the competition out there is tough and you don’t want to be left behind in blind rat race to win most awards at an award show. I don’t have to extol the career boosting benefits of an award winning campaign. The CVs, they say, are forever. Finally, even if you pass on this irresistible opportunity to work on the next iconic brand from India, just a friendly reminder, December is here!

An Ode to Mumbai

As a kid I really wanted to live in Mumbai some day. Not that I wanted to be a film star but I had heard about Mumbai so much in movies and other popular entertainment devices that I had to experience the place. Somehow some stars did some funny jig and I landed in Mumbai in 2007. This was my first job after my MBA and I had my sis and a few classmates from college who lived in Mumbai. And thats all the people I knew.

So one fine day I landed in Mumbai and boy, was I was glad to be here! One thing led to another and eventually I ended up spending bout 3 years in Mumbai. In these three years I did change my job, converted those classmates into awesome friends, made a ton of new friends, learnt a lot about life and work (blame/credits goes to my ex boss), found this woman who I knew I could spend rest of my life with, developed an insatiable hunger for money, realized that life is more than a 9 to 6 job and pleasing your boss and traveled through the length and breadth of this amazing state called Maharashtra amongst other things. And as a result, grew (or may be evolved?) as a person. All in all I had a wonderful time in Mumbai. There was something about the place that I cant pinpoint that made the city dear to me. So much so that I keep coming back at some pretext or the other.

Anyways, like all love affairs, the crush on Mumbai ended as suddenly as it had happened. I had decided that I have had enough of working for someone else and I needed to take command of my destiny. I decided to move back to Delhi and try my hand at something. Kunal and I started Cyntax (we shut it down in less than six months, more about it some other day). I moved onto another job within Delhi. The thought of finding work in Mumbai didnt even strike me. With time, memories and passions faded and Mumbai became a yet another dot on the map that I had been to.

Today, on a Saturday morning, as I write this, I am in Mumbai and staring at a weekend ahead of me. I am not excited about being here and I am wondering what was it back then that made me alive when I lived here back then. The obvious suspects are people. I had the fortune of making some of my best friends here and every day there was something or the other we kept planning. I hated antics of my friends and yet there was something endearing about them. Not that they arent here anymore but then something is missing.

The other key suspect is opportunities that Mumbai made possible. This was the first time and place where I had the power of bumping into some hot shot and pick his brains. I could meet so many interesting people, almost on daily basis, and rack brains with them. I could think on brands, business, the state of nation and other useless thing. I felt alive with all the useless mental masturbation I was engaged in.

Then may be it was the umpteen opportunities to hit the road. Mumbai is perfect for short weekend trips. You can take your car (or your bike) and practically goto hundreds of places. While I lived in Mumbai, I traveled out on most weekends and explored mountains, rivers, dams, hill stations, roads, people and cultures. Mostly my partner in crime was Neo and there were times when we'd hit the road and then decide on the destination. As they say, we weren't intent on arriving. For us it was about the journey. The roads are a perfect escape from all the miseries. It lets you free your mind of all the bullshit thats occupying your head and allows you to start afresh. It is also a great thinking tool. And since you are on the road and driving, there is no way you can spoil the free thinking by taking notes and scribbling ideas. The roads are exhilarating. Like Red says, the excitement that a free man has, when he is about to start a journey, the travel excited me more than any other endeavor. May be I need to become a Raju Guide or something?

Or was it the freedom? Because Mumbai is probably the only city in the country where you can find public transport, food, people at all hours. And all these are accessible and not limited to a select few. Or was it the beautiful buildings and lanes that crowd the town side? Or the vastness of Navi Mumbai? Or was it the frequent star spotting? After all Mumbai is home to bollywood and cricket and the tryst with so many stars so often only make the possibility of you becoming one, real! Isn't that what attracts most of people who land up in Mumbai? Not the stardom, but the hope. The desire. And the opportunity.

Obviously there are things that I loath about Mumbai (read bad roads, politicians, traffic etc) but I then guess if I could put things on a weighing scale, the bad things would not make an iota of difference to awesomeness that is Mumbai. Like they say you need to be here to be able to see things for yourself. If you havent had the opportunity to experience Mumbai yet, you need to pack your bags and plan a trip soon. Wait, no need to even pack bags, why waste time in frivolities of the modern life? Nomads were so much cooler!

And in the end, thank you Mumbai for touching my life and giving me everything that you have showered on me. And for all the things that you are yet to gift me!

Salaam Mumbai!

P.S.: This post was meant to be a rant AGAINST Mumbai and while writing this I realize I couldn't come up with anything against Mumbai. I think I need to fix shit in my head rather than blaming it on Mumbai.

Home to work, 50 mins flat

Today I created a record of sorts. I reached work in 50 mins flat. For the uninitiated, my home is about 40 KMs from my workplace. And on a typical day, it takes me close to two hours to negotiate the way. Of course Delhi has awesome roads but the traffic and the office hour rush leaves me with no other option but to tolerate bad RJs (except Saarthak on Hit 95 FM) while en route.

I got sgElectra (please follow and spread some love) fixed after a while and for some random reason I wanted to take it out for spin. And I did. And the ride was amazing, I have written about my love for biking in the past, but today, I add yet another reason. Bike is faster than the car! Bike can navigate through small alleys and is not constrained to long jams. Perfect mode of travel in city. May be I was helped by the fact that todays a Saturday and more than half the world is on chutti. And then it was about 8 in the morning. 

BTW coming to work before 10 has other merits. You could plug in your laptop to 5.1 speakers and hear Shankar Tucker, Lucky Ali, Mohit Chauhan and Rabbi Shergill on are-you-crazy levels! As I am typing this, I am listening to I want to break free by Queen.

Ode to Panchgani

Panchgani is my idea of an ideal life. Really. Its a small mountain town in Maharashtra. About 5 hours drive from Mumbai and about 2 from Pune. More about it here.

I went there for the first time with Neo. This was way back in 2006 or 2007 when both of us were in Mumbai and had nothing to do on the weekends. We had this stupid notion about leaving the city behind on the weekend and drive away to distant unknown places. In those couple of years we covered a lot of places around Maharashtra. And unlike all other tourists, we hardly took cameras or fancy clothes with us while we were on the road. Our idea of travel was to pack some basics (undies, toothpaste, toothbrush, a book, a notepad) and just leave. Often, we would decide on the destination hours after we had left the civilization behind. In fact Neo had this awesome blog at wknd2wknd.blogspot.com where he captured some images from these drives.

On one such sojourn, we went to Panchgani. Though it was far for a typical weekend ride (we liked doing distances that were between 2 and 3 hours), we went for it and it was a decision that we've been thanking since.

I was amazed at the beauty of the place. It was like the perfect small town of my dreams with all the activity around on small roundabout. And it had everything that you could ask for. The breakfast shop (Lucky's), a barber, long walks, mountains, civilization at a touching distance. Everything. Including the weather

And this is where the love affair with Panchgani started. I want to retire in a place like Panchgani. Not very far humanity (Mumbai is about a 5 hour drive) and yet secluded enough to allow you to go for long walks without any nuisance of traffic or pollution.

How would it be if I could wake up every day somewhere in the hills. The weather is just right. Not too cold, not too warm. I then take a leisurely stroll through the winding hill roads, sucking in the clean fresh air. I make my way towards the town center. Once I reach Lucky restaurant, just off the center, I would order my regular - two toasts, an omelet and a coffee. I would take time to read the newspaper, hear the gossip of regulars, see the staff serve the customer with fervor and attention. I would leave them with a handsome tip. Walk some 50 steps to the barber. Get a good head massage. Walk back home would be even slower. With millions of thoughts running amok. Probably the next business idea. Or may be solution to the next big problem. Once home, post a shower, I would spend the rest of day working, taking a break for stretching myself and catching up on other mundane errands. Once I would be done for the day, I would head to the volleyball court or a swimming pool for the work out. Spend some time there. Work up an appetite. Spend some time with other people at a tea shop and then head back home. End the day with a few poker games on the Internet, some writing and then work on some more problems.

And live like that, happily ever after!

The Houdini Show

Houdini. Image Credits: Wikimedia
I have been unwell for almost a month now. I mean not-on-the-bed-sick for that long but been in and out of bad shape for a while. Its mostly been fever and cold but its starting to bother me now. And so much so that I cant concentrate on things and little thing piss me off easily. Been really irritable for last few days. Still am. Please watch out what you say on those comments.

Last week I was travelling and was in Mumbai, Chennai and Bangalore. And I got so unwell and so sick of things around me, I had to rush back home. I have done my Houdini's vanishing act in the past but this time it was in a different league. No one but the travel guy from my office knew where and when would I escape from Chennai. The phone and all the intruding alerts were switched off and clients and their whims could take a hike for all I cared. Thankfully I escaped.

Anyways, few rules for at least next 15 days.

  1. No flights. I can not get up at 3, reach airport at 5, catch a flight at 6 and then do it again. And again. And with work across Delhi, Mumbai and Chennai, I am sure I am flying more often than some pilots. Definitely more often than those Kingfisher pilots!
  2. No over time. Work is so far from home that I end up leaving at early hours to avoid traffic. And meetings require me to be in office till late. This leaves me with very little time for recreation, family, side businesses, writing, health, sleep, reading and million other things that I want need to do in life. Starting this Monday, strictly 9 hours of work. Though my employment contract has no mention of hours but I will assume that these working hour norms must be followed by my employer as well. 
  3. More of what I like and less of what I dont like. P.S. Got this from Sagmeister (you should read his website, which IMHO is super cool). With in my work, there are quite a few things that I love doing. And there are more things that I abhor. Starting December, I shall try reducing focus and time on things that I hate doing. I know it would affect the way I work and my career and all that but then who cares. I still cant plan for the long term and I am happy to stay like that.
  4. Health. I know I have told this myself a zillion times but unless I keep doing it, I will have to keep reminding myself about it. I did start the gym and some cardio but then I had to take a break this month. I know these are mere reasons. Not lame but reasons. I could have taken time out and done small routines, but I did not do!
Thats it for the time being I guess. More soon. 

P.S.: I am typing this on sgAcer. Please excuse typos. 

Before - After

Today, for the records, was the first time in my life that I worked out in a gym. More than the workout, I did some cardio. Did some speed walking, bicycling and stretching. I did break some sweat but overall I think the experience is kinda over hyped. I would rather walk the city (if lanes were less crowded), bicycle through scenery (if I had any scenery around where I live) or simply do some yoga (if I had any worthwhile yoga groups around where I live).

So, at the cost of making a few sweeping generalizations, here are a few things I noticed about gyms and people in gyms.
  1. Mirror mirror on the wall, who is the fittest of them all. I have no clue how other gyms are designed but this one has mirrors all over. The reception, the loos, the shower area. Even the ceilings. I wonder how they missed the floors. Anyways its like a mini glass house. Of course everyone like those mirrors and there has to be some secret exercise that requires you to stare at your reflection for long durations. Because everyone, including the coach and the supervisor, would go find their sweet spot in front of a mirror and flex their muscles. To the point that the entire work area is empty and you could play cricket there if you had to. Note to self. Ask the coach about the secret exercise next time I go to the gym.
  2. Six pack. Eight pack. I thought that wave that swept the entire nation in the six pack abs frenzy is more or less gone. How wrong I was. I see more people doing crunches and abs than there are statues of Mayawati Ji in Uttar Pradesh. And they are serious about doing abs. And in fact whatever time they are left with after stating at themselves in the mirror, I reckon they spend bulk of it on their abs. 
  3. Tattoos are more important that anything else if you want to show off. No one, I repeat NO ONE is sexy enough unless they have a tattoo with an obscure meaning that only they or the tattoo maker knows about. And more obscure the meaning, better it is. After all we need some fodder for conversations. And to add to it, the more obscure place the tattoo is, better it is. You can then nonchalantly show off the tattoo. Like if its on your ankles, you may remove the shoes and wear some bright chappal. Get attention to the chappal and the ankle and thus the tattoo. More subtle you make it, better it is. 
  4. Eat your supplements. Fruits. Fancy colored waters. Soya. Raw meat. Think of the most obscure thing that you could subject your taste palette and abdomen to. I think more than fitness they want to test their abdomens and gastric acids. Everyone comes with a small duffel bag stuffed with the choicest delicacies. Including raw fish!
Anyways, thats about it for the time being. Lemme see people some more and then I shall file an updated report.
And did I tell you that I have clicked a couple of profile shots. One frontal and one from side, to do comparisons when I actually lose weight!

The itch

Last few days, I have been travelling like crazy. And as a direct result, I have missed out on the treadmill farce and writing. So much so that I had this urgent itch that I had to scratch and write something. Ofcourse I am not a good writer and unlike most people I dont even have any story to tell, but there is something about writing that gives me kick. The readership remains at a dismal 2 (including myself), all the fan mails (and hate mails - what ever I had) have stopped, comments were anyways absent, that elusive book offer never materialized, even the random visitors that Google searches sent my way are on a decline.

So while I am at Mumbai airport, en route to Bangalore, I had some ten minutes and I couldnt think of a better time, place or the opportunity to scratch the damn itch and get over with writing something. Even if its a rant. About itches.

Open Letter to Ms. Vidya Balan

Dear Ms. Balan,

This letter is to being to your note your recent actions for the movie The Dirty Picture. Though its a very gutsy role and all that but if you look at yourself objectively in mirror, you would realize that you look gross (for want of a better word). Of course this is my opinion and you may ignore it. But you need to realize that fat oozing out from under skimpy clothes is NOT a turn off. In fact it may squeeze all the blood out of a man's brain. If you know what I mean. First time I saw the photographs of your semi naked lewd pose I almost puked. Even thinking about it gives me jitters. You may consider acting in Final Destination franchise. They are on a constant lookout for things that induce slow death on viewers.

I understand that Silk Smitha might have been voluptuous and desirable back then. But like all things, times change. And they have changed for sure. We no longer live in an era where availability of soft porn is a concern. Back, may be there werent enough women who were ready to drop their clothes for pennies. All respect to her for whatever she did. I am uneducated about the matter and whatever I know about her is because of your new movie. At least that is what your movie portrays Ms. Smitha as.

I know that the business of making movies is going through a rough patch and you guys are in dire need of good ideas and concepts. If only you guys get out of the self-delusional mode and accept this, there are tons of able writers and thinkers who are willing to help you. Look at your counterparts in the west. Look at their cinema. Their movies are much more meaningful and even if when they stray of the tried and tested formula, they come up with gems like Slumdog.

I have nothing to do with Bollywood apart from being an occasional movie goes but I am hoping to make a career in the entertainment business. And as a result I become a minor stakeholder. Would request you to take a deep breath and relook at what you've done.

I normally dont write into actors but this time I have made an exception and I am sincerly hoping that someone from your PR team reads this and puts some sense into you.

An ex-fan

The Road is a Friend

From my PhotoBlog
Luckily, I have had some time to think over the last few days. Though I was traveling and busy with some work but since travel involved 4 flights, I was relatively free to think and ponder on things. And that told me somethings about myself.

To start with, I realized who my best friend is. Before I talk about him, let me define a friend. For me, a friend is someone that makes you happy. A friend is someone with whom you could be yourself. A friend will not judge you for whatever you do. A friend is someone who gives you hope. Someone who is around, when you need him. I have been really lucky in my life to have got a lot to friends to count on. I know they would be there for me when I need them. If I started typing their names here, it would take me forever. So rather than making this post sound like a yearbook, let me come to the point.

The best friend. For me, the road is a friend. Inspired generously from the Apollo Tyres campaign. There is something about the road that mystifies me. There is something that attracts me. There is something that calls me. And when I do get to hit the road, I am at my best. I am upbeat. I am so full of excitement that I can feel pulsating in my nerves. There are endless possibilities in front of me. I can choose the destination. I can choose to stand still. I can choose to do what I want. I am the commander of my destiny. I become I. I come alive.

The romance with the road, I believe has always been with me. I dont know when I realized my individuality and started thinking (and with it, developed tastes, likes and dislikes). But I think love of the road was something that came automatically to me. Ever since I can remember I have wanted to travel. Explore the unexplored. Discover the hidden. Of course the perfect world we live in, there are factors like time and money to consider but there has to be able to become one with the friend. Exactly the stuff the dreams are made of.
P.S.: I am hitting the road tomorrow. I would be gone for a week. And like Red says, I am already feeling the excitement of a free man. A free man at the start of a new journey whose conclusion is uncertain.

I feel Purple

Image Credits: Jerome B
The mood I am in, if someone asked me to describe it, I would say, I feel Purple. Dont ask me why. Though Purple is the color of creativity or ideas or something to that effect (a reason why CLA logo is purple), I am far far away from all such constructive pursuits.

I feel someone has sucked all the energy and vigor from me. Though I am suffering from fever, cold and cough and even a task like breathing is taking a lot of effort. So much so that I am wondering how cool would it be if we could recharge the batteries and then not bother about breathing, eating, peeing etc. In short, I really hate it when I am unwell.

I have noticed that in last few years, I get unwell at regular intervals. I have always prided in my immune system. I had stomach made of steel and I could eat anywhere and anything and still digest it. I dint have to wear any warm clothes even in peak winters. I could tolerate any extremes. But for last few years, I think after I went to MDI, my systems got fucked. Not that I do drugs or booze. I dont even smoke. But then something went wrong and I am now sick often. I need to do something about it.

Apart from that this is unrelated but I have been listen to Jo Bhi Main from Rockstar on a loop since morning. Hear it. Absolute bliss.

The New GMail Sucks

Ladies and Gentlemen, today I take up your precious time and invest my energy in putting forth an opinion, that in one short sentence says, The new gmail sucks.

So much so that since I started using gmail more than 7+ years back, I am considering moving to an alternative free email provider. I am inclined towards hotmail. I will give it a shot in a while and see if I want to port to hotmail.

Coming back to the new gmail,  I am not denying that there are some great features. The cascading search bar, the new tabs on left, the conversations are all nice but the underlying UI is really bad. Its very bland in the default theme and once I switch to the HD themes, it looks sick. Reminds me of geocities and freeserver days when people would make gory pages with glittering fonts, blinking images and haphazardly placed text in various fonts.

I sincerely hope that with time, they release some new themes because I cant seem to get the new theme working on my netbook. May be it works nicely on the large monitors used by developers and designers. May be I am too boring for the exciting world of coders and designers to appreciate the design and fluidity in the design! Ofcouse in time, Google devta would prove to be right and I would get used to the new look. This post would be easily forgotten and the anguish I am facing at this minute shall be rendered useless.


And just a thought. I dont use Google +. And I have stopped using Google Reader ever since I got the Pulse Reader and RSS Reader on iPad. Whats wrong at Google? Someone at design team at Google needs to be fired? Or its just me?

One in a million!

We are 7 billion strong. And funny bit is that countries from Brazil to Indonesia to Philippines to India are all trying to claim the fame! I mean dude! Are we guys serious? Are we proud that we are 7 billion?

And I heard on the radio that apparently doctors in India were told to hold births (or may be merely birth registrations) to ensure that the 7 billionth child is a woman. How stupid can we get?

This reminds me of the times when I was a kid. When I was growing up, my mom showered blessings on me and told me that I was one in millions. That time I just gushed at it and was embarrassed. I could not appreciate the true meaning behind her comments. Now when I travel in the Delhi metro (or Mumbai locals), get stuck in endless traffic jams, stand in long queues to even pee, I realize what she really meant. I am indeed one in millions. Wait. One in Seven Billion!

Sweet November - 1000 words a day!

Sweet November is just around the corner. Apart from being a movie that I dearly love, this is the month when tons of people across America (and probably many other countries around the world) decide and write a novel in one month flat. Matt Cutt says (in his very famous TED talk), the task is not that daunting if you break it into smaller units. And more importantly, stay at it for next 30 days.

I have always harbored a secret dream of being a published writer (not that I admit it all the time). So much so that its on my bucket list. So, November 2011 would be the month when I shall write my first piece of fiction. I dont know the plot or the characters right now but by end of November this year, I would have the first draft in place.

Oh, by the way, apart from the book (or novel or a travelogue or a collection of  short stories), I will write 1000 1700 words a day. Though I dont know if I would post these posts on this blog or I will host them somewhere else. And I am working on a secret project for a friend. Her birthday is around the corner and my gift idea for her involves a lot of writing. And I am travelling to Mumbai, Goa and Agra this month.  

November sounds like a super busy month! Wish me luck. And you may pre-order your copies here. The first 100 orders get a signed copy!

5 Crores on Kaun Banega Crorepati

Sushil Kumar, Anonymous, finally has won the grandest prize of all on Indian television, 5 crores in a game show hosted by Amitabh Bachchan (KBC). What makes the story so captivating and gut wrentching is the fact that the guy who won, makes 6000 bucks a month working as a computer operator and a private tutor. On the promo, he comes across as under confident, miss understood, dreamer and everything else that I can easily relate to.

Like, I was thinking yesterday, its not about the amount but about the fact that any individual from anywhere in the country today can realize his dreams. It reinforces my belief that nothing is impossible in life!

And yes, blame me for being yet another fool that Indian Television Industry has been monetizing for decades.

Pursuit of Fitness

So, as part of a bet, I need to lose 7 inches by first week of December. And for that I joined a gym. For the first time in my life, ladies and gentlemen, I stepped inside a gym. The scene inside made me sick the moment I got in. Men, women and others of all shapes, sizes, ages, odors, colors were at work. More than work they were staring at themselves in the huge mirrors that lined up the walls of the gym. After every nano second of workout, they would find the nearest mirror, twitch their muscle, smile at themselves and then look around, just in case that cute member from the opposite sex was appreciating the apparent display of hormones.I mean I have met tons of self-obsessed people but this was beyond me. This was self-obsession 2.0 and not one, not two but the entire human race in that small area was engaged in it.

Anyways a man's gotta go what a man's gotta do. So despite alle the testosterone around me, I tied up a handkerchief around my nose, tied my shoe laces, bought a fancy blue gym short and, as they say, hit the gym. The first few days were pain. And disgrace. I could barely jog. Now if you dont know me, you may want to visualize a sack of potatoes. If not that, than a walrus. If not even that, I think you need to move on to some other link. So I am as large and lazy as these two and its an effort to move an inch. Here I was expected to run for miles and miles if I had any hopes of losing flab around my waist.

I have been at it for about two weeks now. Of course the results havent started showing. I compensate for all the ahrd work but religiously eating daal makhani and butter naans for dinner. Though I am still off coke. Been more than three months. Who would have believed! Anyways so its been two weeks now and today for the first time ever, I managed to job for 2 KMs at a speed for 8 kmph. That means I was faster than what an average human being walks at and I covered more distance in one shot than I have ever covered. For me, this is nothing short of winning an Olympic medal, in bob-sledging . I was very very happy. I clapped for myself. Adn thankfully for a minute all the appreciating-thyself stopped for a minute and it was converted into is-this-bald-guy mad look. And then as if I had never clapped, people were back to their mirrors and mutual admiration societies. I loved myself at that instant for being able to pull off the the task. Reminded me of Pursuit of Happyness. And the scene where Chris (Will Smith) claps for himself.

And just in case you havent seen this movie, you need to see it for sure. The guy in the scene is offered a job and he needs it more than anyone else in the world and it has come to him after a very long wait and a lot of toil. This is how he chooses to celebrate the moment. Watch from 1:43 if you are short of time!

And in the end, if not anything, please do pray that I win the bet. On stake is something that can potentially change my life!

The Birthday Blues

If you havent guessed already, my birthday is was on Septemberthe22nd. I am not really a big fan of birthdays and I dont really celebrate it. I know this sounds stupid considering that my blog and my primary email addresses are titled septemberthe22nd. May be when I created these about 10 years ago, it must have been important to me. But not anymore. Times change. People change. Thoughts change. Changes change. I changed!

Anyways, so having said that birthdays are not important, here are few obsevations. In no particular order.
  • I have no clue how to handle birthday wishes. Ideally a simple thank you should suffice in most cases but I honestly get embarrassed when people shower extra attention towards me for no apparent reason. If I do something awesome at work and I am praised for that, I totally enjoy it and bask in its glory for days, if not weeks. But birthdays? I am sorry. I dont enjoy all the extra niceness.
  • Last two years, I was away on my birthdays. 2009, I went for Vipassana and 2010, I was traveling. And both years, no one bugged me with inane wishes and I was happy. I had thought that I would make it an annual affair. Travel to an interesting place without any communication device. This year, because of some work stuff, I could not. May be next year. But would make it a recurring theme.
  • Been thinking of a lot of things lately. And on a lot of different things. Most of these are reoccurring questions that I havent been able to find answers to. Like, why do I blog? I tend to follow the golden adage that says that if you arent adding any value, you should shut up. The blog is not meant to add value to anyone's life but mine. And to add value to my life, why do I have to make my thoughts public? I dont know. It just sounds like the thing to do! Would someone even read it? I dont know. I ought to know!
  • Coming to the value, yes, there are things that I know I know better than an average Joe. And I know I can add value. Just like the New New Thing, Sandbox is meant to do just that. I havent started working on it as yet. But someday in near future, before end of October, I shall do it. 
  • I was reading my last post on New New Thing and I said I would become a doer. The post was in Feb 2009. Its been almost two and a half years. Two and a fucking half years. And I am still a lazy ass. Wow I should be ashamed of myself. I can talk of things. I left my job of that time. I started something and failed at it. I joined a different job after that. And yet, I havent been able to become a doer. Can I change that in next few months? Before we enter 2012? I promise to myself that I would. And yes, this is a yet another promise
And in the end, if you think you forgotten my birthday yet again and you want to send me gifts, lemme know. I shall send you the postal address. And I just accept cash. No gift coupons please. 

Safedi Ki Chamkaar

The day I wear white shirts, they inevitably end up being bad. And this is funny because I started liking white shirts after a very dear friend got me one for my last birthday. And being the superstitious dude I am, more than 80% of clothes that I have, are white!

Take today for example. The day started bad. I woke up with cold. Then I had to attend this meeting where nothing productive comes out. Peeves me all the more since I am reading Making Ideas Happen (if you are keen on the book, here is a nice summary, written by the author himself).

The no-outcome meeting started at 10 and ended up at 2. Then I had to do the driver duty for my sis and mom. They shopped for silk, cotton and what not and I was busy hogging. And all my weight loss efforts went down the drain. The effort, for the uninitiated and curious ones includes six days on treadmill for 20 minutes, small meals at regular intervals and no coke for almost three months!

After the driver duty, I came home, wanted to sleep but a woman decided to get married and erect a tent right next to my place. The music was really loud. And worse, it was bad. Got a splitting headache. Almost skipped the gym and ended the day with more eating.

As I write this, its almost midnight and I have 4 things on my todoist that I need to finish before I can sleep. And did tell you that I am supposed to get up tomorrow at 6? To be able to attend yet another pointless meeting?

RIP Steve Jobs

I woke to the news about Steve Jobs. My sis had left a message on my phone. With blurry eyes and hazy head, that only sleeplessness could do to you, I checked my iPad for news about Steve Jobs. Before anything else I wanted to verify and somewhere deep down I wanted to dismiss this as yet another hoax. And the first report that caught my eye was Bill Gates' note about Steve. And this is when I realized that hes actually no more. Then I read more eulogies by Zukerberg, Obama, Larry, Sergey and everyone else.

Initially, my brain processed this as yet another news article. In my mind I automatically thought of all the things, both good and bad, that would be triggered by his death. And then all of a sudden, it struck like a bolt of lightening. Steve Jobs, the nearest thing to God, has died. With him died an extraordinary brain, probably one of its kind. With him died a visionary who could predict see the future and make it happen. With him died a willpower that could move the mountains. With him, died my hero.

No other man, single handedly, has inspired me as much as Steve Jobs has. I have enjoyed watching him present perform on the stage, have been inspired by lore about him, awed by his fervent attention to detail, humored by his candor in his interviews and speeches and most of all, inspired by his thoughts and opinion about computers, technology and impact these things could have on humankind.

I would sincerely miss him. I wish the company he created keeps his legacy alive and stays at the forefront of technology and continues impact lives of millions. I really really wanted him to live. Not just for me, but for all the other hopeless souls who found comfort in his mere existence.

For me, he epitomizes greatness and there is no one else that I want to be. I dont want to be the greatest, the richest, the best, the happiest or anything else-ist. I dont even want to be Saurabh Garg. I just want to be Steve Jobs.

But then, as he said in an address at Stanford, the new must replace the old, now that Steve has passed on the baton to us, we need to do things that would make him proud and smile on us from heavens above.

And in the end, thank you Steve. Thanks a lot for everything that you gave/taught the world.

Har Ghar Kuch Kehta Hai

Har Ghar Kuch Kehta Hai
Ki Iskay Andar Kaun Rehta Hai
Jo itna Gandha Banda hai
Ki Ghar Paint Karne ki Sochta Hai

The first two lines are from an Asian Paints jingle. The last two lines are my contribution, for the sake of this blogpost.

Of all the things that you can subject your home/house to, the worst of them all is painting. Of course its required. You must flush out the old to allow the new to take its place. Change is the very nature of, the nature. Of course you ought to clean your home every Diwali, after all God Ganesh and Goddess Lakshmi and Goddess Saraswati like residing in clean places.

Painting is actually not bad. If you can live with some occupational hazards. And before I go and talk about them, please note that these could leave a permanent mark on your psyche and next time someone uses the P word, you may try and attack them. At least I have reached the point where I can no longer tolerate any painter anywhere within 100 feet of me!

Of all the million fuck ups that may happen, some of the most potent ones are...

A. The fumes of the paint. They say if the paint does not smell bad, it not a good paint. And since most Indians consume they-says too literally, paint companies, I think, put in extra effort to make the paint smell bad. Really bad. I mean I do enjoy the smell of petrol at a petrol pump and all that but paint, uh!

B. Dust. Everything gets coated in white dust. You know how things and places look when it has just snowed? If you're a five year old, you may play with it and use it as a chalk board and make smileys and scribble your names in it. You can get your legs and arms smeared with whiteness apt for princesses and polar bears. You could even put some in your hair and pretend as if you are 40 and your hair is graying. I mean there are multiple ways to find comfort with dust. Sadly, I dont think I can call a truce with dust. There is so much of dust all over the place that if you made bricks out of that dust, you could erect the great pyramids of Giza all over again, right here in my home!

C. No place to sit. Since the paint that you use to paint on the walls and doors, is the industrial quality one, you are scared that the tiny droplets of paints would spoil your electronics, bedsheets, sofas, clothes, shoes, crockery, rugs, toothbrushes, teddy bears and other things that are important to you. And to save on the damage, you cover these things as if they are the newly wed brides and put them in hiding. And when you want to sleep, you realize that you dont have the mattress. Wait, you dont even have the remote to the AC. And there is no bottle that you can fill water in that you are used to drinking in your sleep. And no, I aint got no teddy bears at home.

D. Disruption of normal life. You make plans about how you would lose weight because #sgMS asked you to. You get up at 5 in the morning, go for a walk. Reach work early. Come back earlier so that you may sleep early and go for a job the next morning. And once you reach home, you realize that only place not claimed by painters is barely enough to allow you to stand on one leg. But hey, look at the bright side. You could learn how to sleep while standing. I bet, not many people in the world can do that!

E. Finally, it takes forever. Last memories I have of normal life at home, I was happily reading some book in my room. Though its just been little over a month since I have seen normality (was traveling for work and ever since I came back, they've been painting the house. They could have painted the entire Taj Mahal in this long a duration!), it already feels like a lifetime. Everything is new. Everything has changed. The TV is standing on the tin box that used to have cookies. Cookies are now kept in a plastic box that had the detergent in previous life. The detergent is now in the washing machine. The top of washing machine is stacked with my bookshelf. The bookshelf does not have books but now has screwdrivers, other tools and the phone. The phone line btw is nowhere to be seen and with it, gone is the reliable and fast Internet. The bed that you dearly love is no longer there. You have to make do with sleepless nights on the sofa. While taking a shower, you cant use the shampoo because there is no place to stack that many bottles in the bathroom. Anyways, I could go on forever. Thankfully my towel, toothbrush and undies are in the right place.

You know I could go on forever about the perils of painting your home. I really wish there was a better way to do things. And like they say in the college, welcome to Painting your home 101.

Oh, and I just realized that I havent even spoken about the money that its costing us. We could have bought a Jumbo Jet, a Jaguar and a Yatch with all this money. And would still have had some change to buy a bike or two. And the painters give you so much grief that you for a minute think that you owed them some money or something!

And in the end, next time you want to get your house painted, please rent out an apartment (even if its a small one room set) and move in there with all the things that you hold dear to you. It would, one, be a welcome change from the monotony of living in the same place for all these years and two, help you retain your sanity while your home is being painted. And three, you would have the answer to the comment that the jingle throws at you, har ghar sahi main kuch kehta hai!

End of September 2011

Probably the worst of the months ever. I did not write (either on the blog, or on Project WSD or on the secret project). I did not read (despite ordering all those books). I did not keep accounts (I have been keeping accounts since Feb this year. This was the first time I missed a month). In terms of output, September 2011 is a month that I would love to remove from my calendar.

However, workwise it has been ok. I played a tiny, almost negligible, part in organizing Kyoorius Designyatra 2011. This is a confluence of designers from across the country for three days of networking and workshops. After more than two years I was part of something that invigorated my brains and made me think of interesting things. And yet again, was part of the team that worked on something, that probably would translate into the single largest project that my employer has handled. So, work wise, the month was ok. Could have been better if I could win a couple of more pitches that I was a part of.

Having said all that, we are end of the day selfish animals. We dont get happy for things that we do for our employers. At least I dont. Need to figure out some way to work on some pet projects by the side.

Travel was ok. Spent some time in Goa, Mumbai and Chennai. In fact got time to travel out of Mumbai with PJ and Rr. Though it was just a day long road-trip, loved the experience. Then Chennai, I wanted to meet a good friend but had to rush back to Delhi. May be next time.

Played poker at a casino on Goa. Made about 10% on my buy-in. At one time, I was up by 800% but then what I end up is what matters. 10% for about 6 hours on the table. More on this in some other post.

And that I guess would summarize the month for me. Hope Oct 2011 is better.

And while I was writing this, I realized that every month I could write a summary of my activities over the past month and put them in categories. These categories could be Travel, Buddhi Vilas, Reading, Writing and Poker. And then I could have mini-categories like branding, communication, reviews etc as regular posts/tags.

What say?

I came, I saw ...


Loved 7882 from Vimrod.

To Pile On, Or Not To Pile On

This post is about a question that has been bugging me for a while. This is going to be a mother of a post! Here are case facts.

One. I, M, 29, love to travel. So much so that if I had an option, I would become a truck driver, or join a circus or something. I love to stay on the roads and love the impermanence of things when you travel. I love to see new places, meet new people, experience new things and generally not make any commitments. I have been fortunate enough to see few cities and fewer countries and more I see, more I want to explore. Of course I dont have the balls to do it now.

Two. Most of the time when I travel, it is for work. And the sad part about travelling for work is that your itinerary is defined well in advance and it hardly gives you time to explore the place that you goto.

Three. When I do extend my travel and decide to live at a new place for a few days, I cant really afford hotels and guesthouses. And the ones that are in my budget are too dirty and far from the places of interest to consider. No I am not picky at all. I mean, I am but not for things that I know are impermanent. So I end up crashing at my friend's places. I know a lot of people but have very few friends. In fact can count them on my fingertips. So when I am in Mumbai, I invariably stay with Neo. Bangalore, SS02Sep grants me a room. The US trip, iCEcUBe and PD sponsored acco. And thats that. Apart from these cities, there is no other place that I am comfortable at. And because I dont have acco, I decide against traveling to other places. Side note for non-Indian readers (if any), AirBnB is not really a rage in India and very few people offer beds to strangers. And when they do, they at times charge as much as the hotels.

And after the facts, here is the million rupee question. When I travel, should I be taking my friends for granted and pile onto their places? Do I invade their privacy? Do I infringe upon their personal space when I go and stay with them for days? The second part, the one that bugs me more than the first, is, are all my friendships all about convenience? If Neo decides to move to, say Delhi, will I be as good friends?

I know a part of the answer. Because all these people are friends and they are mature enough to say no, I dont think I cause inconvenience. The hard bit is, how much can I stretch this arrangement? And if I cant, what is the way out?

Anyways, end of the long rant, the question remains, to pile on, or not to pile on?

And the pic above, is of a signboard in Mumbai. Clicked while I was on one of those trips to Mumbai.

Dear Myself!

Credits: Hugh
Dear Myself,

Hope you are having a good day. Normally I don’t write into you. More often than not, a polite conversation with you helps and we sort our disagreements. In extreme cases, I take you out for a drive or an icecream and we are cool after that. But this time, unlike all the other times, things have gone to such an extent that I don’t think a mere conversation would help. I think I need to put on record my opinion. At least it will help me put everything in one place.

I am writing to you, to officially (no I am serious) point out that I absolutely hate the fact that you make me drive all the way to Gurgaon every day. Agreed that Gurgaon is the millennium city and the land of opportunities etc but are you sure you want me to go through this grind day after day? If there were just one or two bad things, I would have relented and not felt so fucked. I tried making a small list. Here are the findings. The traffic is bad. Traffic management is worse. Roads are probably the worst. Rampant urbanization and unplanned growth have created such a mess that I don’t think we’d be able to fix it ever. Public transport is non-existent. And whatever alternatives we have, the hand rickshaws and auto-rickshaws, they fleece as if we live in the banana republic. People, both on and off the road are rude and believe in public display of useless aggression and fake power. Electricity is a problem. Things are expensive. No one feels safe anywhere post the sunset. There is not a place where you can feel at peace. And many more. Why would then you goto a place like that everyday?

If you were doing some brilliant work, I may have let you go there everyday. But what you do, are you sure that’s the best utilization of your time and effort. I mean I understand that you are not the most brilliant sample of the homosapien spieces. I also understand that you are mediocre at best. I know that you want to defy authority for some stupid reason that only you can comprehend. I am ok with it. You know that I would support you through thick and thin and despite you have your quirks and whims, I have always been on your side. But this is something I fail to understand. Why would you even bother with all the hassle of the drive till Gurgaon everyday? Why do you put yourself and me through the torture everyday? How does your conscious allow you to kill yourself every day? And you have been doing it for almost two years now! Havent you?

Please know that I am not asking you to quit. Not for a single instant. I hate quitters. I really do. All I am asking for is an alternative. Or may be an option. Or something that allows you to stay sane! Like Hugh says, Life is short. Make it amazing!

You know, its your life. And mine as well. If not for me, please take time and think about things for yourself. You are a bloody gift to this world and it sucks to see you getting wasted like this. I think after 29 years of coexistence, my comments merit atleast one thought (if not a detailed inquiry into reasons)! Please do it. And if there is anything I can do to help you get out of the mess, I am just a nudge away. Actually closer!

Love you.
Your’s Yourself.

Evernote - Loving It

So once I got the ipad, I asked around for applications that I should be using to make the most of the tablet. One of the recommedations came from JFK and I was asked to explore Evernote. I had been using it sporadically but I hadn't given it much thought. Post recommendation, I started using it and to be honest, I was skeptic in the beginning. I wasnt really sure if it would be of any use. Especially to me, where I tend to read about a million things and want to collect notes, people and contacts about each of those things. But then, as the new Tata Sky ad says, poochne main kya jaata hai, I gave it a shot.

The first thing I noticed was the beautiful logo. The elephant. Famous for its memory. And the use of green. Good design is probably 90% of the battle won. The UI on ipad was very impressive and once I logged in, I could see my notes that I had created on the desktop version. And then when I got to reading, editing and using those notes, I was mightily impressed. I knew I had struck goldmine. With notebooks, tags and easy accessibility from all the devices that I use (HP Mini, BB, iPad), it meant that all my notes, thoughts and links were at my fingertips. Since these are native applications, rather than browser based ones, they can store some data locally and it feels to me that I am working on a local application. And this IMHO is the killer feature.

Its been just a few days that I have started using evernote and I can already see that this would be one of those utilities that I wont be able to do without. The best part is the seamless syncing that happens on all the devices. I use it on iPad, BB and my laptop.

Right now, I have just been storing links, notes and memos. I haven't had the need to retrieve anything so far. But in near future, I would have to. When that happens, lets see how it works out for me.

More than just using Evernote as an alternative to personal information manager, Evernote also marks a turning point in the way I treat files and think about storage and accesibility. With Internet getting fast and ubiquitous, rather than using a mere device to store documents, I now rely on (and trust) cloud services. With time, most of the things would move to cloud and hopefully all the services would have the sane head that Evernote guys have - to have a native application for most of the access devices. Though browsers are advanced and all that but the experience of an app is unmatched.

Cloud obviously comes with its set of challenges. Security for example. But since I dont really work with James Bond and I am no Paris Hilton, I am not really concerned about illegal access (and misuse) of my documents. I tend to keep things simple and so far, I am loving it. The other services that reside on cloud and I cant do without are Todoist, Delicious, Dropbox, and Google Reader. Do you recommend anything else?

And yes, I use the free version. Even at megre USD 45, the premium version of Evernote is still expensive for me. I recommend everyone to give Evernote a shot and share your feedback!

Pursuit of Simple Pleasures

Last few weeks have really been maddening. So much so that I haven’t had time to even get a haircut, clip my nails, read things that I like reading and enjoy all those small things that make life, worth living. I am a romantic at heart. No, not your famous romantic, but this one. And as a result, I like doing different things and taking time off from regular humdrum of life.

I like sitting at coffee shops, staring at space, skimming through books, writing occasional blog posts, thinking about things that I ought to be doing but never end up doing, competing with brain, and doing nothing at all.

All these sound really stupid when you look them through the lens of a 30 year old, especially when that 30 year old is still to figure out what he wants from life and is supposed to support his family. Its sad that world does not allow for such foolhardiness.One of those things that I want to ponder on!

P.S.: Just finished writing this piece of post and when I am reviewing it, I think its an utter waste of time! But then, what else would I be doing with all the free time that I try and steal from life?


Yes, I know I have committed a cardinal sin. I have not updated this blog for a long time. Despite boasting about Project 0911 and Project WSD. Despite planning well in advance what posts would I be writing and when. I also had in place a strucutre for something larger. But then like all other things that I plan and wish for, I did not work hard enough on this.

Like they say, time once gone, can not come back and I know that the days that I wasted in Sept 2011 so far will never come back, I have learnt my lessons and I shall work harder. Like I keep saying that if we humans came with a definite expiry date, we would be better off. We would stop going through the motions and actually get things done!

Anyways, coming back to the point, I have no one else to blame but I for not posting. I can cook stories and give lame reasons but I dont want to. I accept my mistake and I shall try not to repeat it.

Apologies to myself. Hope to get back to blogging soon.

Live blogging a ride on Delhi Metro

Today am going to work on Delhi Metro. I don't even remember when was the last I rode with Delhi Metro. Have heard horror stories. Here's a live blog of thoughts.

Left home. Have to take a rick to reach Metro station.

Reached metro station. @kv told me to walk up the two flights. Walked up the stairs. Thanks heavens for my netbook. I can't even imagine lugging a heavy laptop up the stairs! Surprised to see neat queues before the security check.

Train is not really crowded. This being the terminal stop. There are places to sit. Tried sitting. Really uncomfortable seats. I'd rather stand.

So far we are on the elevated corridor. With the advantage of height, I can see the city, the life, the way I've never even thought. I love standing on roofs and looking down. Its like seeing the big picture and getting hold of secrets.

Third station. Crowds building up. All those stories about rude people and shoving et al, they are slowly becoming evident.

Hate the announcements. Sandeet na bajaye, farsh par na baithe etc. 1984 anyone?

Whoa! An aunty is wearing yellow nailpolish on toes with golden chappal. A green suit. She's apparently going to work. I mean yellow. And aunty. That's the difference between Delhi and Mumbai women. Delhi, they think bling is cool and put everything that is shimmer and a lot of it. Delhi women need a crash course, no a full time, long term course, on the art and science of decking up.

And ladies and gentlemen, here comes the first shove. One uncle just stepped on my feet, stomped the way you crush a cigarette butt and dint even say sorry. Glad that he's not a fake. He meant harm and he is not apologetic about it.

The aunty in yellow nail polish just got down. Good luck to her. And to her colleagues.

Just wondering, like the Mumbai locals, why can't the Delhi metro have first class coaches? Am not for discrimination but people who want little more privacy and can pay for the privilege, yes privacy is a privilege in India, why shouldn't they have an option?

Crossing Yamuna. Really wish that yamuna was clean and we could have had a few picnic spots around the banks. Wouldve made awesome evenings!

And my first stop is here. To reach work, am supposed to change the train twice.

Had a quick break to catch on some breakfast at McD. EggMcMuffin. Ymmm.

And magically, the way it happens in The Truman Show, moment I step out of McD, I see hoards of people, all going in the direction I am going. There must be a million people here, give or take a few hundred. Where the fuck are all these people going?

And the new coach has yellow lights. And I am on the yellow line. And that aunty with yellow nailpolish.
Whoa, this dude in orange shirt just came in between me and the wall and stood with his ass pointing at me. And by the way I was standing next to wall. I dint know that air could pass between me and the wall where this guy wedged himself. And he's wearing chameli ka tel. I mean some tel that is pungent like sulfer is and is filling my nose with it. Someone get him a deo please.

And for the records, Mr. Sreedharan, yellow ambient lights are depressing.

Love the gush of wind in my hair. I am right under the AC vent. Loving it. Everythings not bad about Metro afterall!

And just when I had thought I have placed myself at a comfortable distance from the orange dude, another gentleman encroaches on my space. Not that own the space but the concept of personal space is being violated!

Finally got some space where I can rest my back.

Like Yogi (Berra) said, you can observe a lot by watching, any student of people watching needs to ride on the Delhi Metro for sure. Even Mumbai locals for that matter.

For the record, we've been standing on this station for close to five minutes and they aren't opening doors. Junta around me is getting jittery. And yellow lights aren't helping.

Ok, the door opened with beeps, the way timebomb beeps and surprisingly about half the coach got down. And bigger surprise, twice as many people boarded the train. All within 30 seconds! I dint know that each coach could accommodate these many people. And more than that, the engine could lug a train with so many people. These engines should be used to launch aircrafts etc.

Damn the jouney is too long and too boring. Am almost losing interest. The live blog could continue till the world war three. My car's the best. I miss :(

For some reason, people don't smile here. Everyone has a glum face as if they are being sent to the gallows against their wish! Guys, its 9 in the morning. Can we have some sunshine please? When God was creating humans, he should have put some more funny bones in us. We have 206 and we could certainly adjust some more.

Back just starting hurting. The right knee is almost ready to buckle any moment. Am standing on one leg. Plan is to get down at any station once I cross the border and then call office to send a cab. I really need more money in life. I need material comforts. Can't do the metro routine. Need to have another car. Wondering if my boss reads this blog? Don't think so. He aint got no time for his emails, leave alone blogs. And that too mine.

The station I am supposed to go is still ten odd stops away. At this rate, my thumbs would get a heart attack. Been using them frantically for last hour an twenty mins! Not ten. Make that twelve.

Love the wind from the AC shaft. Its just right. Not too cold. Not too fast. Not too wild. The way it should be.

And, for the record, I have lost interest. The station would not come in this life time. My bodys aching like its been put in a grinder. Everyone has a long face on them. They've shut down the AC. Enough.

I can't even tolerate music no more. I have no clue where I am and when I'd reach. It'd be better is someone put a mask on my face and took me in white van with no windows etc. At least there'd excitement that am getting napped. I'd have a shot, though distant, at my 15 seconds of fame!

 Finally! I get down from the metro. The next battle I need to fight is to find a way to reach work. Am told you can take an auto but am not really looking forward to haggling with them on the fare.

One things for sure. Am not coming to work on the metro ever again. The commute sucks. I'd rather be stuck in a traffic jam for four hours.

Signing out.

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?