So this is a long list of things that I hope I can achieve in life. I may or may not have the talent, skill, determination, energy, time et al for these but I would love to do these. And no, not to be confused with the bucket list.
  1. Write something as amazing as Hoshwalon Ko Khabar Kya. Here is a sample. And Write something as cool as Lag Ja Gale. Here. Basically write well. So well that junta wants to sing em. So well that it moves people.
  2. Get 10K followers on twitter. As of today, I have 2400 odd followers. 
  3. Travel only business class. 
  4. May be climb the Everest! (update: I aim to do this by 2025).
  5. Spot a page 3 celeb reading one of my books. 
  6. Date a supermodel.
  7. Make a Fucket List. And do things on it. Yes, with an F. 
More as I go along.

P.S.: For the uninitiated, bucket list is where I get serious about things. #lifeGoals is more about vanity. 

Rant on Mumbai

Yesterday I was coming back from some place at around 9 (pm). To reach home, I cross the most godforsaken place in the world - Saki Naka (the wikipedia article does not do justice to the fuckery this place is. And its worse than the place where I live in Delhi). Since I knew that I was going to get stuck in traffic, I was in a really foul mood. This is when I looked out of the rick and saw a man my father's age running behind a bus, trying to catch it. He had a backpack and he was wearing regular trousers and a shirt. At the risk of generalizing, he looked like a clerk or some other administrative person - one of the millions in the great Indian middle-class. 

Since there was traffic, the bus was barely crawling ahead. My rick was right behind the bus and the man was literally running parallel to the rick I was in. And since the man was old, he could run only at a certain speed and the crawl-speed of the bus was more than what the man could run at. He knew and I knew and probably everyone around knew that he was not going to catch the bus. And yet he kept chasing the bus. Despite the inevitable, he continued to chase. And he did it with all the fervor he could.

As the traffic opened up, the bus zoomed ahead and whatever little hopes that man had of catching the bus went in smoke. And the man finally quit the chase. With a shrug. And then he started to walk. And there was some purpose in the way he walked! I loved it. I loved the way he went about it. I wish I had that spirit. I wish I had the grit that he had.

Anyhow while I was thinking about it, I realized a few things.

A. He was old. If my father were to run like that, I would be really really sad. And come to think of it, my father has used public transport all his life. Am sure he would have chased buses and trains while working. Me on the other hand, I have used public transport only till the time I was in the college. After that I had a bike. And enough money to hire a rickshaw or taxi or something private. I am extremely lucky to have a family that has supported me with all that.

B. While I may crib about my inability to make enough money and get sad about it, there are so so many people that have far less than what I have and are struggling with even the basics, and yet they are happy. I mean that old man. He was ok to run to catch his bus. And I am sure it must be a routine for him. And yet he was ok with it. He knows that he will win some and lose some. And here I am. Who's never had to lose anything!

C. Mumbai is a tough tough place to live in. My life is little comfortable - I have a big enough place to live in, enough money to pay for rickshaws and Ubers, enough money to eat what I want to, when I want to, where I want to, enough to take those foreign holidays and so on and so forth. And despite all this, I feel strained. The mere existence in Mumbai is tough. At times I want to leave everything and move to the mountains - which I would've done if I #tnks had sold well (after all purpose, passion and success are all interlinked!). May be I would if #book2 does well. I dont know if I can be a Ruskin Bond but I would try.

I digressed. The point is, Mumbai is a tough tough place to live in! And I have been shielded from the toughness to a large extent. I do not know what dirt and grime and heat and dust is like. I just cry like a baby. I need to stop that.

D. While the spirit struggle of Mumbai is a great thing, I am not sure I appreciate that a place could put such a large chunk of humanity in such miserable conditions. And each person is trapped in Mumbai because they dont have anywhere else to go, anything else to do. The ones who've made it are ok, the ones who haven't are too tired to move on. Life looks hunky dory from our Ubers and air-conditioned offices and lavish parties at five-stars and view from atop the high-rises and occasional travels abroad and fancy things that we talk while we work. But in real life, life is lot more than that. And we need to somehow learn.

If nothing, the resolve to help the ones who lost on the ovarian lottery is now stronger. Once I have reached a point when I have made enough (I dont know what is enough), I would really work towards generating employment, elevating the lives, education and health. Basically go the Bill Gates way. Some day. Not today. I could jump in today but the impact that I would have would be limited. I dont want to impact ten lives. I would rather do create a fortune and then use that to bring about change on a larger scale. Like Bill Gates! Again I am digressing. The point is that Mumbai is a tough place to make a living. And the scene yesterday made me rethink my choice to stay in Mumbai.

Oh, to end this, barely five minutes after I saw that old man, I saw another man - this time far younger, sprinting behind a bus that he knew that he was never going to catch. He was in a Jet Airways uniform and looked like a loader or helper. The he was running, it was remarkable! I dont think I can run like ever! Plus, the thing is, he would've walked from the airport to the junction and then must have missed his bus. Life is so fucking tough and here I am lamenting about my inability to afford a car or a better lifestyle!

Oh Mumbai - the maya nagri! It is so so difficult to love you. And even more difficult to hate you!

RIP Steve

Steve Jobs
Today Yesterday, in 2011, Steve Jobs passed away.

Normally I am very confused about how to react when someone passes away but when I heard about Steve Jobs, I remember getting a lump in my throat. I am not related to him, I have never met him. There was no reason for me to get sad about his passing away but I was.

I guess I was, and am, and remain a fanboy. For ever. For Steve, from a distance, by the virtue of his existence has...
- taught me the importance of doing things that matter (why do you do things you do rather than what do you do),
- taught me how to work (do your best work or dont do it at all),
- made me think harder on problems (till you reach the core issue and then attack it),
- often made me reconsider what I said / proposed (I have often asked myself, if Steve were to do this, how would he do it)
and more such things.

I am not sure if I am any better but I do know that I look up to him and I want to be like him. Someday. Wish I can! And if in life I end us as one-hundredth of one-hundred of what Steve Jobs was, I would die a happy man.

Thing is, Steve is like that Guru that I always wanted and yet never had access to. Remember Eklavya? No I am not comparing myself to E but I am comparing Steve Jobs to Drona. If I cant get any better, it is my problem. Steve has left behind tons of wisdom. And I have tons of time!

I hope if there is afterlife or reincarnation, Steve Jobs is back to doing what he does best - push the human race forward! And to end it, when Steve passed away, someone said, I quote...
There may be no greater tribute to his success than the fact that much of the world learned of his passing on a device he invented.
I look up to him. I want to be like him. I want to make that ding that he talked about. Someday. In remembrance.

Thanks Steve.

P.S.: If the life and work of Steven J does not inspire you, nothing will! For more about "Steven J" please watch this TED talk by Larry Smith.

Meri Jung - Anil Kapoor

If you are an Anil Kapoor fan, you would have seen Meri Jung. The plot is pretty simple. A happy home gets broken because a hotshot lawyer considers winning a case more important that serving justice. The son of the broken home grows up and vows to take sides of the honest and poor and may be take revenge on the hotshot lawyer. As a story ought to have, the two lawyers do eventually get into a tiff and the battle becomes personal.

The how, what, where and why are the part of the narrative and the movie. If you haven't seen the movie, you have to see it to experience the awesomeness.

Source: Wikipedia
I would have seen the movie a million times while growing up. And the movie had such profound impact on me that I wanted to become a lawyer (at other times, while growing up, I had wanted to become a detective, a policeman, a cricketer and a few other things). Like Arun Verma, I wanted to be able to play some sort of music that only my family knows of (like an anthem that only my family has access to). Like Arun Verma, I wanted to be the overnight success (from the looks of it, the only way I would ever have any real money is if some miracle happens and I get successful, overnight!). Like Arun Verma, I wanted a girlfriend that secretly loved me and when professed, she's fall in my arms and vow to never leave me again.

There are just too many memories of the movie that the day I can afford a home theater thing at my place, I will buy a DVD. And watch the movie till I am successful ;P

Oh, and here is a question for you. Which other movie did Anil Kapoor play Arun Verma in? Get this right and I'd send you a copy of my book, The Nidhi Kapoor Story. Serious. Shipping in India only though :)

Done with Starbucks

If you follow this blog, or my twitter feed, or my instagram feed, you would know of my love affair with Starbucks India.

Sadly, it has come to an end.

The love affair started in late 2013 when they opened an outlet close to my place (Powai). And in the process gave me that third place that I always craved for. A place where I could be myself. A place where I dont have to bear with the formal environment of an office. A place where I could escape from the overly-causal vibe of a home. A place that inspired me. A place that helped me get in the zone, over an over again and allowed me to do good work. In fact I wrote a large part of #tnks at the Powai outlet.

To me, over time, Starbucks thus became the default place where I'd meet friends, acquaintances, business associates, strangers, first dates and so on and so forth. Every time someone asked me where to meet, irrespective of the city I were in, I could close eyes and ask them to come to the nearest Starbucks outlet. Each store was consistent, each Barista was polite, the coffee was ok but the experience was superlative. With Starbucks, I did not have to worry about things like AC, security, cleanliness, Internet, ambiance etc. I had to think about more important things like making the right impression, convincing the prospective client et al. In fact if I wanted to get a meeting right, I would insist to meet at a Starbucks. Leave the meetings apart, I could spend hours at a Starbucks. All by myself. Starbucks taught me how to be alone.

It gave me so much that I started considering a Starbucks outlet as the greatest place ever invented. And thus, over time, like with lovers, I started taking Starbucks for granted. And I started expecting things from Starbucks. Things that are often hard to deliver if you dont have the interests aligned, the love mutual and shared. Which I know wasn't. Starbucks after all is a commercial enterprise and while they do have the community's interest at heart, they have to make money. They have shareholders to get back to at the end of every quarter, if not year.

So with time, as the business grew, the stores started to change. I mean the waiters still called me by my first name and remembered what I order (Java Chip Frappuccino) and I continued to move towards those free drinks and upgrades with every purchase. But the stores became less inviting. Stores became more commercial. Stores started getting "optimized." Older patrons like me weren't invited no more. Guess they lost their soul, if they had a soul!

In terms of tangibles, the stores started getting more crowded and the patrons started getting younger. And as a result the service level started to go down, the noise levels went upto a point where it became impossible to hold conversations. Baristas were no longer keen on "knowing" you. They merely wanted to fill in more tables and operate like a McDonalds where the only goal is to rotate tables. Fast. Profitably. Other things stopped mattering. All the cool things that Starbucks does, stands for, took a back seat.

The stores continued to consistently fail to deliver on things that I expect as a lover, a patron. And like a jilted lover, I can not tolerate someone else getting more attention than I. And thus I am forced to "take" my affection elsewhere. I am not sure where but someone will take up the space that has been left vacant by Starbucks. Something that is little more everlasting and little more permanent. May be. May be not. And of course, its not them, its me! I guess its me who's at fault. I need to change. I need to give more space. Well, dont I sound like a typical lover left in lurch? Judge me, if you will ;P

But I hope we remain friends. I will of course continue to come over to a Starbucks. But I am not sure if I'd be able to love Starbucks back again. Of course I wish them all the success. They are a great business and they are super cool. I do hope they find love from more people.

As far as I go, I am sure something will come up. Do pray ;P

Till then,

P.S.: I am writing this at a Starbucks. And I will no doubt continue to visit Starbucks and write and spend time and money. But the fanboydom, the love, the undying support, is gone!

The last 15 days

Just because it's the 1st of the month, here is a post. Also because I haven't written anything in a while, I ought to write -- isnt that what writers authors do? Also because I feel obligated to share the way world I see, after that near-death experience (I shall talk about it in a bit). Also because the year has been very unkind as far as my heath goes. And because if I dont rant, what else will I do? And because writing on this blog allows me to "express" myself. Express in the classical expression way. I have to.

Last I wrote here was some 15 days ago. Why 15? Because 8 of those 15 were spent on the bed. Why on bed? Because I ate some stupid pasta at a fancy restaurant (Aromas at Powai) and a puff at a five-star (Orchid at airport) -- please fight it out gentlemen. And the other 8 were spent in gloom. Why gloom? If you know me, you'd know.

The thing is, while I was on the bed, recuperating from that bout of food poisoning, I realized a few things. For starters, I cant handle this entire "being unwell" business well. I become a prick and I am a pain in ass. And I become this monster that I believe is very uncharacteristic of me. I try hard but I cant not do it. I end up hurting people that I mean to take care of. I try to be decent but I fail at it. Guess there's just one way to solve the thing - don't fall sick!

So last two/three days of recuperation have been spent in trying to not get unwell. That translates into no more street food. I've grown up in Delhi and I had these amazing guts of steel. I could eat whatever and I could have any sort of gastrointestinal attack and could digest even a brick. But not any more. May be with age, the steel has atrophied, the acids in my stomach have stopped performing. Who knows. But I now have to look and pause and think before I put things in my stomach. From now on, everything goes. Except McDonalds. Please. That's something I cant do without. There is something about fried batter and potatoes that I cant resist the temptation of. In fact, I start writing this at home and I am finishing it at a McDonalds. But apart from McD, I shall eat at home and avoid baahaar ka khana as long as I can.

Help me with it. And, just in case you were looking for a sign, look no further.

Source: Unknown

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?