Rendezvous with Random Strangers

I talk about why I like the idea of meeting and networking with random strangers. And the tangible impact these meetings have had on me. Read on!

23:01.Today, I did not have anything to write. The head’s been blank for some reason, even though I have a lot on my mind. I think I am falling sick. It may be the change in the weather or the lack of sleep induced by all the coffee I’ve been having. I dont know what it is. May be Delhi does not suit me?

I dont know. Irrespective. I had to write. And since I did not have any ideas per se to write about, I asked AaSi and ArAg (I use initials for people and I know a million people, so am now using the first two characters to be able to make sense) about what I could write about. I got a bevy of suggestions and I like all of those. I have safely cataloged those for the next rainy day when the ideas dry up. For the time being, I am going to talk about “the experience of talking with random strangers“.

So, it’s not even funny how many strangers do I talk to. To a point that I can’t recall names or identities or the context in which I spoke to them. And yet, rather than “consolidating” the relationships with people I know, I seek out more connections. I dont know to what end. But I do. And in today’s post, I will talk about why I do that.


So, I dont know when this happened, but among other things, there are three “ideas” that have shaped me like nothing else has. Let me talk about those and try to answer this question about why do I want to meet with random people all the time.

Here we go.

A. Luck = Opportunity + Preparation.

This essentially translates into creating as many opportunities for yourself as you can and being ready when the opportunities present themselves.

And this creating opportunities means knocking on doors that you know would not open. This also means talking to people that you know dont want to talk to you. Heck, this also means shooting out of your league.

As a result, you are often left with disappointment – who wants failures after failure? If you are always aiming too high, you would miss the shots! But you know what makes it worth all the effort?

That one connection. That one door that opens just a wee bit to let you whiff the opportunity peeking. Creating that one opportunity for someone you care for.

I mean all my life, each thing that I am proud of, even though they are insignificant – my book, the content websites that I support (TRS, PPP, ImmerseGo, GP, Podium, and more), this blog, all the people that I work with – all these may have been lucky breaks but they wouldn’t happen if I weren’t taking shots at opportunities.

In some cases, I was prepared and they worked out and vice versa. Heck, some worked out when I was not prepared at all. I faked my way through those. And some did not happen when I knew those opportunities were tailor-made for me! But in toto, my life is far far better than what it could’ve been if I did not take all those shots.

And, so, why do I love meeting random strangers? Because each person I meet is an opportunity. To do something new. To add a dimension to what I know. To add a perspective to my knowledge. And no, I am not objectifying people here.

B. The Cocoon.

Each of us is born in a certain lifestyle. If you are reading this, you are already privileged – you know English, you have Internet and you are safe in your respective cocoons. What else do you want?

This cocoon is a good thing and a bad thing. Because you are in your cocoon, while you are safe and hopefully comfortable, you hardly see the world on the outside. You can if you want to. But most don’t want. If you are trapped in a high-rise, you do not understand what is it to live in a slum. If you make 10,000 bucks a month kinda salary, you dont know what is it to have a million dollars at your disposal. You know, why bother?

It is similar to the prehistoric cavemen. If they were content with being in their caves and continued to be afraid of all the lighting rumbling outside, we would not know life as it is. They stepped out of the cocoon. And experienced more things. And did more.

And, so, why do I love meeting random strangers? Because each person I meet gives me two things. One, a warp zone that teleports me to a different life altogether and allows me a peek into the life beyond my cocoon. And two, if that person’s life is richer than mine (not just in terms of money but in terms of access, reach, opportunities et al), I am inspired to do more with mine. To be able to expand my cocoon till it engulfs theirs. And if their lives is poorer than mine, I am inspired all the more to not fall to where they are. And most importantly, try and elevate them to at least a level similar to mine!

So far I have been unable to expand my cocoon a lot but I do know of the lives that exist beyond mine (both on the higher side and on the lower) and that makes me more human, for whatever it’s worth. And to what end this knowledge serves? I dont know. What do you think?

C. Thick and limited. Loose and infinite.

The third thing that has left an indelible impression on me is these two distinct styles of living life.

In one, you can create really thick, strong, tight connections with a handful of people. You know, the kinds that you would die for? Often the ones you grew up with. And the other is where you have no strong connections per se but a really large number of loose connections. You are the guy that knows a guy that knows a guy that could get things done.

When I started to create my world view, I was always enamoured by the idea of ‘thick friends’ and how they went on these trips together and clicked pictures in their underwear and were always hanging out as one soul, multiple bodies. And truth be told, all my life, till recently, I’ve chased this. And since I’ve not been the cooler one, I havent got it and I’ve beat myself hard about it. And I, of course, have been jealous of the ones that have such friends.

However, over time, I realised that most friendships and relationships are guided by convenience, by comfort, by rationality, by opportunity. We merely rationalise these relationships. We are rationalising animals after-all. I mean think about it.

Thought experiment. Think about all your best friends. Didnt you all goto the same college? Or grew up in the same locality? Or work together?

Now, what if your life was marginally different? Instead of growing up in building A, you grew up in the building very next door, say building B. Would you be friends with the same people? In fact, out of the top 10 people that you spend time with, if you were in a different cocoon, how many of those friendships could you recreate? Get the drift?

So, thick ones are convenient.

The loose ones, you weren’t thrown at them by a random chance. You went out and sought them. Even if you grew up in a different city, you would have still found a way to make their acquaintance. And added enough value to them to want to add value to yours.

Thus, the loose ones are planned by you. Planted by you.

And unlike with the thick ones, the social obligation to spend time with them to make the relationships thicker is absent. So your conversations can actually push things forward. You know how sports teams, armies, business project teams, film crews, seamen, come together without any thick friendships and chase and achieve greatness? And how each person is often replaceable and the entire army doesn’t just crumble because one person is a group of 5 friends slapped another!

And, so, why do I love meeting random strangers? Well, to expand on these loose connections I have. In hopes that at some point in time in life, these would come in handy (you know, I would get lucky) and I would reach closer to my lifegoal. It’s that simple.

PS: Keyword is most. Keyword is often. I am sure true love exists. I am sure friends lay down lives for each other. But I am yet to have any of these happen to me. I’ve walked alone for a large part and while people have come and gone and helped me at various junctures in life, it’s always been the loose ones and not the seemingly thick ones. Most of my thick connections have been useless to me. The ones that were loose, the ones that I did not expect to be of any help, the ones I never thought I would reach out to, those are the ones that have been the most help.

And no, I dont mean to sound like I am cribbing or ranting. I do have a couple of people that I can goto any lengths for. I am sure there are some people that would feel the same about me. Lemme know if you do :D. I am merely stating an opinion and I am probably offending a lot of friends here.

The keyword in this part is most. Not all.


So yeah. That’s it.

I really love to meet random strangers. If you’d like to meet me, hit me up on twitter – that’s the best way to reach me!

Do let me know what you think of this.

Over and out.

The time right now is 0045 AM. Phew!

This is part of 30 minutes of writing everyday challenge. Others in the series are at 3010, 3110, 0111, 0211, 0311, 0411, 0511, 0611, 0911, 1011, 1211, 1311, 1411, 1511, 1611, 1711, 1811.

The Coffee Jitters

Got the shock of my life, thanks to too much black coffee at a Starbucks nearby. Read on as I describe my “battle” with it!

You know how life is funny? All’s well, you are at your favorite place (a Starbucks), in the zone (writing, working, plotting, etc). And all of a sudden, deep inside the pit of your guts and bowels, you start feeling funny. You cant pinpoint if it’s your gut that’s wrenching or if it’s your chest that’s burning. Or is it a mini-heart attack? May be you are just constipated? Or an acid-reflux?

Like any other informed individual, you quickly log in to Google and type the symptoms. The results are not encouraging. They say you could have anything ranging from cologne cancer to a case of mild acidity caused by having too much coffee and too little water and almost zero carbs for over 14 7 hours.

You continue to wince in pain. But because you are in a public place, you can’t really scream out loud. You create scenarios in your head that you are dying and you begin to message the custodian of your last will to action it. No, your life does not flash past you. That only happens in the films. But you do think of all the promises you made to yourself about life and career and family and the world at large. And you start beating yourself about wasting your life with mere faff and no action. You are reminded what your friend told you once – “you are writing cheques that your body can’t cash.”

You also start thinking that if you make through this, you would try and get healthy. You would sleep on time, eat organic, vegan whatever shite that will ensure you live till the 120 years that you’ve always wanted to. You plan the route that you would run walk on, to get back in shape. You start thinking if there’s merit in being religious – after all, nothing else is helping!

And while you are stuck in this stupor and blaming yourself for all that is wrong in the world, the truth dawns onto you. It’s the coffee jitters.

And that’s because you just had 2 Americanos, venti (for the uninitiated, that’s almost 1.5 liters) in less than two hours. After you’ve been off coffee for more than a month. All this coffee is causing your system to go into a spiral. And pushing your system into overdrive. And of course, you haven’t had any water, to dilute the coffee. You are basically killing your gut with all the acid. Easier would be to put a pipe down your throat and pour Sulphuric Acid down it. Or may be suck onto the exhaust pipe of a cab?

And what do you do next?

Somehow, sense prevails and you stutter out of the cafe. You get the first cab available (which is 12 minutes away, damn you Delhi traffic!). You implore the cabbie to drive like your life depends on it. Well, it does! You reach back home. Implore your mother to give you something to eat (one of the search results told you that you need a sugar rush and water rush to get over the coffee rush). You gobble it up as if your life is dependent on it. It does.

And then after a bit, you start feeling like a human again. And you start thinking of those things that give you instant pleasure (like more mithai, more coffee, more slouched back, etc), and you forget all those promises you made to yourself about your health less than an hour ago. Life’s back to being good. Well, mostly it is…

This is part of 30 minutes of writing everyday challenge. Others in the series are at 3010, 3110, 0111, 0211, 0311, 0411, 0511, 0611, 0911, 1011, 1211, 1311, 1411, 1511, 1611, 1711.

The Queen’s Gambit

I talk about my recent obsession with Chess. And no, it has nothing to do with the recent Netflix Show called the Queen’s Gambit.

No, the post is not about the current Netflix rage. Just that the title of this post has been inspired by the show. In case you have landed hoping to read a review of the same, here is a Twitter thread where I would update my thoughts.

And why would I title this post The Queen’s Gambit?

Well, cos I can’t seem to stop playing Chess. And I am not even good at it. And I find it extremely limiting – just 64 squares, just 32 pieces, just 32 empty boxes to move around. And I get beaten by people that have handles like checkmateking07, yellowpineapple8, and DVD7632. I mean come on. There is a limit to how much you can get embarrassed!

The thing with Chess is that it’s the perfect game – there’s strategy, there’s tactics. You can play aggressive, You can play defensive. There are as many variations as there are players. And since it’s a finite game with finite moves, a computer can hypothetically make a decision tree of all possible moves in any game and can never lose! Well, the jury is still out – apparently, players can get creative and seemingly make a blunder that the computer can’t fathom and thus, would lose!

I wish I could get better at it. Enough to not lose against a random stranger. That’s the thing that I want in life. When I walk up to a random stranger, I want them to pick anything and I should be able to give them a decent fight. One-sided matches are boring af.

To be honest, I have not read a lot about chess apart from the story of the Polgar family (the father literally natured and nurtured three chess champions), Stockfish (the engine that is literally unbeatable, even if you are the grandest of them grandmasters) and that if you were to place double the rice grains on each subsequent square of the chessboard, you’d run out of space to stock those grains!

The 3D Chess

I have definitely not read a lot about chess, the game per se. I mean I know there is a thing called the Queen’s Gambit. But I have no clue what it stands for. I know that each opening has a name. I know that each style of gameplay comes with terminology. I know there is 3D chess that Sheldon Cooper plays (and wins all the time). I know there is a three-sided chessboard. Heck, I even know people can play chess in their heads with just the notations. To me Be4 and o-o-o mean gibberish. But to a serious player, these are, well, serious things.

Of course, I know that there’s something called En Passant which when I first encountered, I thought was the older person cheating on me. And I know what a castling is. But that’s that. In terms of my gameplay, I don’t really follow a strategy per se but think the strongest piece apart from the Queen is the Knight. I do whatever it takes to save the Knights. And no, I don’t do a great job at it!

What I do a great job at? Writing about a seemingly unimportant thing like Chess for almost 30 minutes! Oh, in case any of you is on chess.com and fancy a duel, I am at saurabhgarg364.

This is part of 30 minutes of writing everyday challenge. Others in the series are at 3010, 3110, 0111, 0211, 0311, 0411, 0511, 0611, 0911, 1011, 1211, 1311, 1411, 1511, 1611. To be honest, not very happy with today’s post. But I had to post. And I did.

Mumbai life. In Delhi.

What is a typical day for me like when I am in Mumbai? And how did I try to ape that on this trip to Delhi?

My life in Mumbai is fairly simple boring. I wake up at whatever time. Wait till it’s 6:45. Get ready in 15 minutes. Out of the house by 7. And at the nearest Starbucks at 7:15. Lately, the one I goto (the new one under Versova Metro Station) opens at 8. So I’ve moved all those times by an hour. I get myself a green tea and from 7:15 till about 11 or 12, I am at Starbucks. On my computer. Some days I work, some days I plan to take over the world. Some days I just, well, surf.

By this time, I am kinda hungry. So, I grab either a sandwich or step out of Starbucks to eat something at some eatery. Preferably something South Indian. I then go back where I live. While time with something that’s been open at my end. And then catch a cat nap. Wake up at around 3 PM and then go back to Starbucks, repeat what I’ve done in the morning. And then stay till it’s 11 PM (when they shut their stores). Go back and sleep.

Been on this routine since these cafes opened up. I know I am being stupid and putting myself at risk but I’ve had enough of the four walls and I have to feed off the energy of other people. Oh, there are some days when I deviate from this routine when I have to meet some people or run some errands. But more or less that’s the routine I follow. This will change once I go back to Mumbai, will take up an office space. And no, I can’t work from where I live.

Since I came to Delhi for this break, while I have been on the road a lot, for work, I have essentially been holed up at home. And I HATE it. I am anything but a home-rat (if there’s a term like that). To a point that I cant work at all. Ideas dont come in. Words dont flow. Genreral lethargy takes over. I am sure this is evident in the posts of the last few days. Things that I can normally do in less than 5 minutes, at home, take me an hour to do. If I can do em.

So today, I did what I would do in Mumbai. The most accessible Starbucks to me (about 14 KMs away) opens at 9. I was out of my house by 8:20 and by 8:55, I was outside. When it opened, I was the first customer. And got myself an Americano. Yeah, I am back on coffee (see this post). I was there till about 2. I got more work done in these 4-5 hours than I did in the last week!

Then I walked to and ate at Naivedyam (a South Indian joint). Took a cab to go meet an ex-boss. Jammed on ideas for an hour. And then now, back home, where I am writing this post struggling to get the right words to express. Nah, I cant work from home ūüôĀ

If not for time spent in commute and the general curtness of people I met today (Baristas, cabbies, etc), I could have very well been in Mumbai! And you know what? I loved it! Just that I wish I lived closer to a Starbucks!

With this, over and out!

This is part of 30 minutes of writing everyday challenge. Others in the series are at 3010, 3110, 0111, 0211, 0311, 0411, 0511, 0611, 0911, 1011, 1211, 1311, 1411, 1511. 

Dilli Ki Sardi!

My notes on what I love about Delhi winters, especially the grey winter skies.

So, one of the things about Delhi is the amazing Dilli Ki Sardi. In fact, its one of those things that I miss terribly when I am in Mumbai.

Lemme make a list of things that I love about winters in Delhi.

a. The grey winter skies

Lemme start with a controversial one. Most people think that the grey winter skies are sad things. But then, to me, these skies are what dreams are made of. There is so much hope, such a large canvas to paint on! Heck the infiniteness of the sky makes me yearn for that crack in the greyness that’d allow the faint rays of sun to peek through. Oh and what glorious sight would that be!

In Mumbai, there are no skies only, leave alone the grey ones or wintery ones or whatever.

b. The nip in the air

I am one of those blessed ones that can tolerate extreme cold. Even in the darkest of the nights in the harshest of winters, I can get by with a thin fleece. And of course, people are amazed that I am not dead by now.

The thing with this nip is that it makes life worth living. You are not sweating. You don’t get tired. You can walk on the roads that are typically empty (everyone else is too cold and thus tucked into their homes).

Nip in the air in Mumbai? Lol!

c. Momos!

No! They are not dumplings. No, they are not Chinese sandwiches. They are momos. And they are best had on a roadside kiosk, preferably under an open sky with the fiery-red chutney. Not sauce. And never with mayo. And definitely, never ever have it fried.

Momos are steamed. I eat vegetarian ones. The purists like the ones with pork or chicken or even bacon, from what I am told.

And no, Mumbai does not have momos. Like they don’t have cholle kulche. Like they don’t have samosa. What they have for samosa, it’s a sorry excuse for food.

d. The dhoop and chaon

In winters, when the sun’s playing hide and seek with you, you are trying to shuffle between the parts that are covered well in shade and the parts that have the sun shining on it! And you want to change literally, every 10 seconds. And this shuffling is what makes the winters so endearing. You cant live with it. And you can’t live without it!

I don’t think people from Mumbai would know of this. I’ve never experienced this in the 10 years that I’ve lived there!

e. Rajai

Last, but not least on my list is a Rajai.

I think a Rajai is the most romantic thing ever invented by humankind. Apart from a saree. And may be Lucky Ali or Rabbi Shergill. Anyhow. Rather than drifting, Rajai is the thing that I miss in Mumbai. There is so much you can do with it, I can write an entire essay on it! For starters, when you are wrapped with a rajai, even if you are alone, you are not alone. You have this thing that you can hold onto. And more you hold onto it, the more it loves you back. You feel the warmth. It gives you the best hug ever – it even takes the shape of your body!

And if you are the lucky one to have someone to share the rajai with, ooh la la. Life becomes worth living. You can forget every damn thing that is fucking with your head.

In Mumbai, there’s no rajai. Maybe a bed sheet to cover you with when the AC is blasting at 17 degrees for 4 hours.


So yeah, that’s about it. The short sweet post on what I love about Delhi’s winters. What is your trip? What do you like about Delhi winters? Lemme know!

This is part of 30 minutes of writing everyday challenge. Others in the series are at 3010, 3110, 0111, 0211, 0311, 0411, 0511, 0611, 0911, 1011, 1211, 1311, 1411.