310521 – Morning Pages

A sad rant on the mental state I am in for the last few days where I cant seem to function as a human being. I dont know whats the way out. I hope I figure out soon!

6:30. I woke up a few minutes ago. I was on my bed at 8 last night, to be honest, and then I tossed and turned and did everything I could, and yet I could not get sleep.

I am probably at the lowest point in my life ever. I mean I am sure this is not the lowest per se but this is as low as they come. I am in that zone where I am so uninspired to work that I don’t even open my email. I know am slacking. And I am not doing anything to help these matters. My work is the most important thing to me in life – means more to me than my own survival and yet I am not working well. And I know it. I can fake it and deliver just enough that colleagues and clients will probably not know. But even that is becoming impossible these days.

I am so affected that when I met a few friends on Saturday, I couldn’t keep up the conversations. I was so uninspired and so sad and so mindfucked that I actually did not want to meet them. But then I did nonetheless – I had traveled an hour in Mumbai traffic. I am sure they must have noticed that I was not myself. Actually don’t think they did. Not sure they are that deep. Plus, if they did they would’ve asked me. Anyhow. That’s not important.

The thing is, I don’t know what’s wrong. And for a rational-answers-chasing person I am, it’s bugging me that I can’t pinpoint the fault. And thus unable to fix it! I mean I am at a great place in life. I am doing yoga at least thrice twice a week. I am walking 10K steps often. I am even seeing the beach for the last few days. Plus, I am not eating any kachra. Apart from the low-carb meal that I get delivered, I don’t eat anything. I have coffee often. No milk, no sugar. I am even ok with lime water now – something that I’ve balked at all my life. Work is financially rewarding enough to inspire me. I am working on a documentary with a friend and that’s helping me meet new people. The 4 goals of Dharma, Artha, Kaam, and Moksha (as defined by Purushartha) are almost aligned. Wait. I think I am lagging behind on Kaam but the other three, I think I am doing ok there. I am ok healthwise in this pandemic. My parents are ok. The news of second-degree connections passing away continues to trickle in but I don’t really get affected by that. This is probably as good as life has been to me!

And yet I am deeply unhappy.
Yet the dark clouds don’t seem to dispel.
I don’t know what’s wrong with me.

May be its validation that I miss. Not from strangers but from people that I like and want to be around. Maybe it’s the feeling of helplessness at my inability to do large things at scale. Maybe it’s my inability to move things and seeing the world pass by as I sit on the sidelines and twiddle thumbs. Maybe I just need to get out of this house and find a better place to live where I would have enough space to move around and appliances and things would work as expected. Maybe I need to get out of Mumbai and go live in a different place – Goa, Pune, Panchgani, even Delhi. Maybe things will be better once this lockdown is lifted and I am able to see others around me. After all, I need to have people around me, even if they are strangers and I don’t talk to them at all. And while I was ok in the last lockdown (probably because I was in a space where I could move around and all that compared to this time when I can do nothing but sulk; or maybe because it was the first time and I played it like a game and now I know that I don’t want this game!), this time it’s hard.

Maybe it’s all the windows that I left open at work and in my personal life?

Maybe because apart from work where I am directly responsible for the output, the three babies I have – TRS, PPP, Podium – are all struggling. To a point that I want to not even put my name up there. Of course, I am to blame. The partners and teams there are doing a fantastic job! In the sense that if not for them, whatever little they have achieved, we wouldn’t have. And while I know what’s wrong with these babies, I am unable to fix things. Maybe my meaning is derived from seeing the things I create eventually reach a point where they start making a tangible difference in the world?

Maybe all this is because I am spending way too much time on my phone and chasing vanity like a 16-year-old?

I dont know the solution.

Wait. I dont even know the problem.

But if I met someone like me who had symptoms like me (general disinterest in everything, a former excellent team player slacking at work, lack of sleep, etc), I know I would have thrown a set of usual answers at them. I would tell them to work out, eat better, reflect on things, stop seeking validation, quit social media et al. I would recommend them to stop reading the news. I would ask them to quit all whatsapp group. I would ask them to seek newer experiences and chase more novelty. May be pick up a hobby or something.

I have done EACH OF THESE. And yet I am not any wiser.

Now I know how shallow, how fake, how ineffective my inputs and advice have been for people. Now I am wise enough to stop recommending things to people that confide in me. Now I know I need to find better answers to things that I seem to have ignored all my life. I did not know that the world could come crashing down like this on me when on the outside, all seems ok!

Ok. That was a long rant.

And here’s some disclaimers for whoever may read this. And if they get worried.

  1. No, I am not doing anything that I shouldn’t be doing. I am far more strong than that. Or weak. Or whatever. I have way toooooooo many miles to go.
  2. I am a problem-solver at heart. And like other problems that I try and find an answer to, I will work on this and will not rest till I find a solution. At least for myself. I know I am already on the path but I need some more interventions. That I shall work on. Shall? Will? Would? Damn my grammar!
  3. I have a deeper understanding and newfound empathy for people who are in this place. Luckily, I am privileged enough to have some money, some connections, and some friends. I think, the fact that I live in public and I am ok to share whatever I am feeling deep down inside helps.
  4. And last but not the least, this too shall pass!

Guess that’s it for the day. Here’s streaks.

  • Morning Pages / Meditations – 169
  • #aPicADay – 0
  • 10K steps a day – 0
  • OMAD – 0
  • #noCoffee – 0
  • #noCoke – 81
  • 10 mins of meditation – 0
  • #book2 – 0
  • Killer Boogie – 0
  • Surya Namaskar – 0

300521. Morning Pages

A personal account of how I am feeling (not good). And no, there’s no plan in terms of what I will do to fix it.

7:50. Even though I slept at 1030ish, I woke up groggy. Similar to yesterday. I don’t know what’s wrong. Or may be it’s good to get sleep this deep. I don’t know. But I don’t like this grogginess first thing in the morning.

It makes me unable to think and it’s hard when I login and cant write. Like today, its almost 30 minutes and I am yet to write anything.

Lemme try from the recap of yesterday.

I didn’t do anything, to be honest. I was like a zombie. I indulged in some ice cream (lost self-control :(). I slept through the day. Even took a shower in the evening. Did not walk. Did not write. Did literally nothing 🙁 No yoga. No writing. No meditation. No call home. Need to think and reflect if I am depressed or something. I am not sure. I am lucky to have a solid mental state most days and times but this is not cool. I am not even working. For people that are paying me. If not my laziness, my moral compass (of delivering work and value to people that pay you) ensures that I deliver. And yet I have been slacking to a point that work is suffering and everyone – my partners and my team – can see that. If there’s one thing that I hate the most in this world – it’s the loss of reputation. Each action of mine is guided by up or down on this reputation. I don’t want to lose it ever. For whatever price!

Anyhow. Moving on from rant. Yesterday evening, I met some friends and then went to play the match of my life. It had to be “pushed” due to “technical” issues. Issues like M’s tablet running out of juice! Till the time we played, I was comfortably leading. But then, in a game of Ludo, things can change real fast. The battle remains unfinished. Will pick it up again sometime next week.

In other news, broke the screen of the phone again. Don’t ask me how. I can no longer afford to get it repaired. I will move to an Android phone I had got for myself when I moved to Goa. Goodbye, all those steps and expenses and all the other things I was tracking. Goodbye, all the messages and links and tabs and notes and photos that I had saved in the last few days. Goodbye, the ability to click ordinary pictures and the use of Snapspeed to edit those. Goodbye, the ability to make phone calls while walking (I don’t have headphones that connect to the 3.5 mm jack). Goodbye, feeling cool about flipping open an iPhone and being able to navigate blind. In fact, the first order of the day is to install shit on the Android phone. All my life I have stayed away from signing into an Android ecosystem with my personal email address (you never know what all they track) but I will now have to. Sigh! I guess I will get used in a few days. But, I shall be back to the Apple ecosystem as soon as I get the next client. Pray for me.

Oh, I finally found a solution to my music thingy. I will only play the 80s and 90s music for the next few days. I am hoping that would be enough for Youtube to reset the recommendation engine and start recommending more variety. The change is, I must say, refreshing. I am listening to this right now. Prior to that, I heard tracks from Taal.

Ok. Dont know what else to write. I am at 9.06. More than an hour since I started writing. And yet I managed like 200 words 🙁

Guess this is about it for the day. Need to get back in action. Oh, here’s streaks…

  • Morning Pages / Meditations – 168
  • #aPicADay – 0
  • 10K steps a day – 0
  • OMAD – 0
  • #noCoffee – 0
  • #noCoke – 80
  • 10 mins of meditation – 0
  • #book2 – 0
  • Killer Boogie – 0
  • Surya Namaskar – 0

290521. Morning Pages

Attempt at working on #book2, with the help of a Coursera course. You may want to skip this to be honest.

8:01. I woke up a few minutes ago. I had slept at around 10 or something. So that’s 10 hours of sleep. Solid! I think I needed it cos I did not sleep well the day before. I know that this covering of sleep deficit doesn’t count per se but I have been more or less consistent with how I sleep in the last few days.

I was to fast yesterday but I could not. I ended up eating some 20 almonds and chocolate mousse. How will I ever lose weight 🙁 But then, that’s the only thing I ate (apart from some buttermilk and no coffee). Thing is, I could have stayed off food but I got bugged and bored, to be honest. And all of you know how it goes when you are bored! More bugged than bored.

Today is an important day. I have an important match to play. On a Ludo board. Against M. She’s bet her entire piggy bank against me! Knowing her, even though it’s a piggy bank, it would have more money than I can afford but I shall play. Not for money. But for pride 😀 Lol!

Anyhow. So, the thing is, I need to discover new music. I need a change from the same Coke Studios and acoustic versions that I listen to over and over again. Plus Youtube’s algorithm doesn’t throw new music at me anymore. Can’t blame. It must be confused that how can someone like Coke Studio and Restoration Videos and CS plays and reruns of Kapil Sharma! Here’s a screenshot from my YT homepage.

Here. My YT page that I start my day with.

So, I am thinking if I want to move to Spotify and if it’s worth listening to ads every 3 tracks? What do you think I can do? How do I find new music that I would like? Help!!!

Guess that’s about it for an update. Time to write for book2. For the book2, since everything else has seemed to have failed, I am enrolling for this course on Coursera where I hope I will be consistent enough to create a novel in the next 6 months. I will write this novel in public. In open. Here. On my blog. More or less on these morning pages. Let’s see how the experiment goes.

The first exercise is to write a few paragraphs to pitch an idea. Let me write those paragraphs. Here we go…

[Start]

The Caravan Serai is a story of an eponymous watering hole on a secluded beach in the touristy city of Goa that gets embroiled in controversy after a brawl. From there on, more troubles come crashing on the place that otherwise is home to cheerful guests and hospitable locals. To a point that the 80-year old single woman that runs the place and some regular patrons are forced to team up to save the place that’s been serving patrons for over 400 years.

On the other side is a local land shark that has been eyeing the Caravan Serai for some time. More than money, his motivation is to teach the old woman a lesson who’s refused to sell the Caravan Serai despite his aggressions over the years.

While this cat and mouse chase between the two sides is played out, the readers would learn that there’s a lot more to Caravan Serai, as a place. And to the story. This includes incidents and a curse going back 400 years when Goa was still a Portuguese colony and the pirates roamed free in the oceans.

Will the old lady succeed? Or will Caravan Serai fall?

[End]

I posted it here as well, in case. Not my best attempt but I think it does tell the story in its entirety. Last year I had written many more log lines. I will try to gather them around in one place. But this is it for the time being.

So, the next exercise is to write a logline. We all know that a logline is essentially that one sentence that describes your book / film in its entirety. It talks about the plot, the characters, the world in which the project is set, the antagonists, and the stakes.

Wow. That’s a lot.
But that’s the starting point. The logline becomes a guiding light that helps you get back on track, should you digress.

They say, this is the hardest part about writing a piece of fiction. And yet I am being asked to start from here. But then, commitment kar di, to kar di!

Lemme try writing some.

1. This is the story of jealousy, greed and lust told through the lens of myriad characters spread over 400 years, each trying to fight their own inner demons and seek closure.

2. Two groups of people spar over a famous watering hole in Goa and discover their own dark pasts as a 400-year curse watches over.

3. After a brawl at a bar, a middle-aged man discovers his true purpose in life.

4. A middle-aged man drifts to Goa and stumbles bang in the middle of a brawl that opens up a can of worms that makes him realise his true destiny.

5. A middle-aged man gets embroiled in a brawl and inadvertently sets in motion a chain of events that awakens a 400-year old curse.

6. A 400-year old curse turns two best friends into enemies out to kill each other and in the process, they unleash a string of crimes and murders on the sleepy state of Goa that will not stop till one of them is dead.

I don’t know which one would I go ahead with. In fact, probably none. I will revisit this for sure. But for the assignment, I will pick the sixth one (the one that I have highlighted). I like the first one as well. But I think 6th is better.

Ok. That’s it for the day.

Need to move along and get started. More tomorrow. Here’s streaks…

  • Morning Pages / Meditations – 167
  • #aPicADay – 0
  • 10K steps a day – 2
  • OMAD – 0
  • #noCoffee – 0
  • #noCoke – 79
  • 10 mins of meditation – 0
  • #book2 – 0. Could not write.
  • Killer Boogie – 0
  • Surya Namaskar – 1. Did 12 rounds of Surya Namaskar.

280521. Quick Update

Quick and dirty post since I did not have a lot of time to write today. May revisit this during the day.

5:08 AM
This is the exact time when I would want to be up and write every day. In fact, I would want to wake up at 4 and then get in the groove by 4:30 and write from then on. And no, not write this morning pages per se but write to push my book.

But I haven’t been able to.
Neither will I be able to today!

Cos I am up early to work on a presentation that I should have worked on over the week but I slacked and slacked and slacked. I had the opportunity and time to work on it the last evening as well. But then I decided to go for a walk to complete my 10K steps. Which I did. Yay! But I couldn’t do the presentation. Damn!

But it’s cool. I have time before the presentation is due and I typically can wake easily with alarms. So I will manage it.

But, assuming I was up at 5, or 4:30, or something, and I was working on my morning pages (if not the book), today, I would have talked about the following…

1. My disappointment in me. At my age, I have little to show for. At every month end, I feel like a failure. You know, when I need to pay salaries and I find myself awfully short on cash! And often when I read about ordinary businesses doing extremely well.

2. The fact that I did Chandra Namaskar yesterday and I found it incredibly difficult to manage. I thought since I can pull 12 rounds of Surya Namaskar, Chandra Namaskar would be easy. Nah.

Yoga is tough, bro!

3. The promise to self that I will fast today. The last thing I had was around 8 PM yesterday. I plan to eat the next meal at 9 AM or later tomorrow. So, 36 odd hours. Trying to build the ability to do a 7-day fast in July and then 21-day sometime around December.

4. Or the fact that I am sick of Paneer. I’ve been on a vegetarian Keto meal and that means all I can eat is Paneer in various forms and shapes. And it’s been more than 10 days. I am definitely not losing weight. Definitely not losing inches. Definitely getting over whatever tiny liking I had for Paneer. Surprisingly, I have taken a fancy for Olives. Something that I hated all my life. To a point that I did not even eat that with a Pizza, while, I did like Pineapple on it 😀

5. Or I could talk about my laziness. You know, I am so lazy that I order water bottles rather than filing them up from a dispenser.
Ok.
Wait.
I am not lazy.
I seek convenience. It takes me on average a minute to fill in a one-liter water bottle. I drink about 8 of those in the day (and still not losing weight :() and that means I am looking at spending 8 minutes a day on filling of these bottles. Plus the 5 odd minutes I need every 3 days to replace the 20-liter jug on the dispense. Compare this to moving thumbs and magically seeing someone appear on your door with water.

6. I can also talk about how the syndicate I am doing is helping me talk to some really interesting people. To a point that I am enjoying chatting with them and picking up nuggets. I love this chase of new experiences. I really do. I wish I had a shakal that was a little better and I was a little less particular about edits and all. I would have pivoted my work towards becoming a talk-show host! May be, someday.

7. I can also talk about my newfound love for lemon and all things citrusy. I was the kinds to hate hate hate hate the tangy taste of a neembu. It was weird cos I grew up in Delhi where you had to have lemonade and other things if you had to survive the summers there. And then I’ve lived in Mumbai for at least 8 years on the trot now (wow, its 10 years in Mumbai over two stints), I did not start with the lemony things to get over the humidity.

But lately, I did. To be able to replace bland water with some taste that is not cola or sugary syrups. Damn this discipline for losing weight.

Plus, since I want to stay consistent with the thread of seeking convenience, I don’t really buy lemons and squeeze them or pulp them. I buy Dabur’s Lemoneez and just pour. And since I refuse to buy measures, I go by judgment – which in itself is poor af. So some days am sipping onto a concoction that’s sour af and other days, so mild that I crave for a Coke Diet Coke.

Diet Coke, ladies and gents is that love that I will probably never get to be with.

Sigh!

Guess this is about it. The presentation is calling.
Let’s see if I can revisit this during the day to work on #book2. Have made a promise to a Twitter friend that I will try and get a 7-day streak in.

Wish me luck!

And here’s streaks…

  • Morning Pages / Meditations – 166
  • #aPicADay – 0
  • 10K steps a day – 1
  • OMAD – 0
  • #noCoffee – 0
  • #noCoke – 78
  • 10 mins of meditation – 0
  • #book2 – 1. I am hoping to write today during the day.
  • Killer Boogie – 0
  • Surya Namaskar – 0

270521. Hello, Book 2

An attempt to get started with writing the next book.

7:34.
Woke up a few minutes. The first thing I did was check my phone. I’ve got into this stupid habit of looking at Instagram and Twitter and Whatsapp as soon as I am up. Need to break out of this. Thing is, I primarily look at my phone to check the time (I don’t use an alarm anymore) and as soon as I have access to a phone, I start fiddling with other apps. And then like Alice, I go down the rabbit hole of other people and their fabulous lives! I’ll try to limit that over the next few days.

So, agenda for the day.
Try and write on book2 for an hour or so. Till about 8:30 or 8:45.
No, nothing from the heart or whatever.
Book 2 takes priority.

Here we go…

So on book2, while I know more of my protagonists and I have a vague idea of the antagonist as well, I dont know how the battle of wits would look like. There is this ultimate treasure that both these parties are chasing. I am struggling to write the parts where I would hide these. And while these two parties slug it out, I need to make this about a larger philosophy and the ideology. Let’s see what comes out…

“How are we to decode what people wrote back then? So much has changed since they must have hidden the treasure.” The rational Rujuta asked Chintan.

“Rujuta, it’s similar to any other investigation you run. You have morsels for clues. You chase the trail and it eventually leads you to the place of leak. And then you dig further and you would eventually find the answer. You need to not give up.” Chintan was more articulate than that but guess it was the lack of sleep. Or he was overwhelmed with emotion. After all they had just put one of their closest confidantes to rest.

“I know. But who am I to chase? Where do I go? Which thread do I pick? Who do I ask? Apart from what you have and what we stole from Paul’s office, we don’t have a thing. We don’t know where to go. To be honest, I don’t give a fuck about it. Just that I want to save Caravan Serai. It means so much to Mrs. Gomes. There’s no woman like here.

“I know. I know. You are right. But answers wont come to us if we just sit around here and twiddle. What if we find places and things that have been around since back then? I mean a lot of modern construction has happened around here. There are some places that have stayed around since then. No? I mean look at the churches and temples and buildings and all that. These places have been around since forever. We know that we need to probably start from Dona Paula work the way towards Panjim and then beyond. I know its hard work and we will probably come back empty handed. But in the worst case, we’d discover more of Goa!”

“Arey, I don’t care about discovering Goa. I want to ensure that when that bastard Ankit comes back, I can throw whatever he wants on his face so that he can leave us alone and…”

Chintan interrupted. “Do you think he will leave us alone if we gave him the money or the treasure?”

“No ya! I am not that naive. Men like that are never satisfied. He would keep coming back with more requests. All the time. But at this time, this is what we need to solve for.” While Chintan’s scatterbrain was evident, Rujuta’s pragmatism was on display.

Chintan couldnt do anything but agree.

“You do have a point. We can start with Old Goa. There are families and people there that are as old as Goa itself. It could be worth checking out. Plus Ankit’s office is close by at Panjim. We can stop by and say hi to him.” Rujuta chuckled. This is one of those things that Chintan liked about Rujuta. He couldn’t pin what it was but she had this distinct way of looking at things that made him crave for her company.

“Let’s do. When do you want to start?”

“Maybe from tomorrow. We have to talk to others as well and find a way to do this fast. We don’t have all day…”


This is it for the time being. Not too much but I made a start. Good good.

Also, at this point, I am thinking, do I even want to make it about a treasure hunt? While it’s an intriguing piece, if I am getting stuck, should I change the plot to make it a regular maar-dhaad wali film? Where they fight over a piece of land and kill each other and there’s salvation? Like you know, Godfather had no large treasure but respect, family, and survival. May be that will make sense? The treasure could be a red herring that I would remove. It could be the B story. It could be something that someone else was engaged in while my key characters are busy saving Caravan Serai. Makes sense. Let’s see what I decide over the next few days.

That’s it! And, here’s streaks.

  • Morning Pages / Meditations – 165
  • #aPicADay – 0. Will start this soon, now that I have started to walk around.
  • 10K steps a day – 0. Did 9980 steps!
  • OMAD – 0
  • #noCoffee – 0
  • #noCoke – 77
  • 10 mins of meditation – 0
  • #book2 – 1. Today was day 1!
  • Killer Boogie – 0
  • Surya Namaskar – 0. Missed this two days in a row.

So that’s it for the day. Let’s see if I can write more about book2 over the next few days.

260521. Good Job!

I talk about how negative motivation is a thing and how I get affected by all the emotional and yet rational things that people throw at me.

7:56.
Woke up a few minutes ago. Slept at around 11. Was tired af. No, I did not walk. I did not do Surya Namaskar. Nothing. And yet I was tired. In the head. Plus I worked from where I live. I still refuse to call it home. This is one of those houses that I really hate. Can’t wait to get out of here. Coming back. I even slept during the day, even though I had a venti Americano. I don’t know what to do about this sleepiness during the day. None of my friends that I seek medical advice from seems to have an answer. Sigh.

So that.

Yesterday was one of those days that began and ended in a jiffy. I don’t even know where it went. Plus the aftereffects are so severe that I don’t know what to write. I am so blank. So nonfunctional. And this when I slept well for almost 8 hours. More than 8 actually. So, not sure what’s wrong.

Anyhow.

So lemme try and talk out loud about things that affect me.

Let me talk about the emotional blackmail that friends and family pile on you. Often inadvertently. They are well-meaning people and are acting from a good place. However, the thing is, people tend to act from the lens of their experience and their background. A thing that has worked for them in the past may or may not work for you. And this is where things do south.

Let me talk about one of my bosses that I admire and can’t seem to stop thanking for all that he’s done for me. Let’s call him A. So A ran a fairly busy business and was on the road a lot. That meant that he had very little f2f time with his team and most interactions were on emails and phones. Now, this is way before the time when even kids know what to do with Zoom and how to behave appropriately on these non-personal mediums. Thus when talking on the phone, the context would often get lost. Often things would get construed differently. To a point that people would find it tough to cope and all that. Plus what made things worse is that A couldn’t use anything but the ‘negative motivation’ to inspire you. Negative motivation is where you when you get 98% marks, you are reminded that you could have done better to not let that other 2 getaway. Mind you that the parents goading you for this missing 2% are proud of your achievement and they are happy for you. It’s just that they are designed to talk like that. As a child, you may find it tough to understand this behavior. But if you dig a tad deeper, you’d realize why they spoke to you as they spoke to you.

See this clip from Whiplash for context.

So, every time we would do a great project, A would point out tiny flaws in the team, rather than praising us for delivering the impossible. Back then, I used to loathe him. And I would hate him.

But then I realised, he is doing it for two reasons and two reasons only.

  • A. He has been trained like that. He sees that as an acceptable kind of praise.
  • B. He probably saw potential in us. To do more. To excel at what we were doing. And thus, push us.

Could’ve been more. But these two.

Now, in the team, people reacted different to his responses. Some would get disheartened and get drunk. Some would feel the pressure and quit. I would hate it to be honest and would just take the longer route back home. But there were a couple of us who would take inspiration. See the point he was making. And improve on the next project. Just like Whiplash scene about Charlie Parker.

Oh, A? Well, for a large part he never understood that his motivation was killing people in his team! That!

The point of this story?

Two.

  1. People often act based on their experiences. When they do, they may or may not realise that they are putting others in harms way. Most people need to learn this and start reflecting on how they behave.
  2. I want to put on record (and I will send this to people :D) that everytime they pile emo trips on me, I tend to balk at that. I resist. Even if those trips are rational and. common-sensical and obvious. While in their experience, these emo trips work and all that, but someone like me actually runs in the opposite direction when someone throws these emotional guilt trips at me. In fact, I become this stubborn child that does exactly the opposite of what is expected from me!

So that.

Phew.

The other thing I realised while writing this is that when I know what I want to write (like this emo-trip thingy), I am filled with this insane energy and words flow. I mean I am not even listening to music as I write this and yet I seem to have written some 400 words in like 4 minutes. The fingers are moving so fast on the keyboard that there are sparks flying!

May be, for #book2, I need to plot things and then write? You know, when I sit and think about Raunak, Mrs. Gomes, Ankit, Siddh, Rujuta and others, I do enjoy thinking about them as real people but I often dont know what to write to move story forward. Maybe each day I need to just write write write and see where I reach?

Let’s see.

Guess this is it for the day. Need to get moving. It’s almost 9.

Here’s streaks…

  • Morning Pages / Meditations – 164
  • #aPicADay – 0
  • 10K steps a day – 0
  • OMAD – 0
  • #noCoffee – 0
  • #noCoke – 76
  • 10 mins of meditation – 2
  • #book2 – 0
  • Killer Boogie – 0
  • Surya Namaskar – 0

The good work I did the day before, I undid all of that by not doing yesterday. 🙁

250521. Meditations.

An inconsequential update on the music I am listening to and some pop-psycholgy pieces that make me feel good.

8:06
Been up since 7 I think. Slept around 11. So about 8 hours of sleep. I think I slept well apart from the AC making those chuckling noises all night long. So yesterday was a long long day. To a point that I had so much work that I literally slept on top of my laptop! And I will have to keep today’s piece short to be able to deliver a presentation by 10. So that means I have less than 30 minutes to do this.

Let’s go!

The music am tripping on these days is by Indian Ocean. I picked them up after I heard Rahul Ram belt out an ode to Modiji. While that itself is a fabulous piece of music, I am more enamored by Bandeh. Here.

Lemme start with this image that I got on WA yesterday. Lemme spill some ink bits and bytes on this.

This 2×2 is brilliant if you ask me.

It encapsulates everything that I was internally judging people on. And I want to be judged. It’s the intersection of ability and intent (if I try and loosely translate those words). And depending on how you fare, you could be, from bottom left to top right, waste, fuck all, dreamer that doesn’t deliver or cool.

While I know deep inside where I am and who I am (ask me if you are curious), I wanted to know what the world thinks of me. I even made a Twitter poll to see whats the world thinks of me.

Here…

I don’t have any comments on what they are telling me but I will keep this framework handy to evaluate life on. In fact, you can actually track your progress and movements between the quadrants over time.

That reminds me, I often evaluate myself on a spider chart about how I am doing in life. While writing this post, I took a 2-minute detour from the post to see where I was and did a self-evaluation.

Here…

May 2021

I dont know when or how I got introduced to this chart but I thought it was a great dashboard to have. Especially if you want a single view of where your life is and how you are faring in areas that you often dont even know or track.

In fact, I have been maintaining this spider since Nov 2018. I go back to it every quarter / six months and fill it in. For context, this is how I was when I started.

Nov 2018

I have to admit that the Nov 2018 chart has been the best so far in life. But if I could compare where I was in Jan of this year and where I am in May, there’s a marked improvement.

And the biggest factor, the biggest cause of the change is that I have some work that gives me some money. And that money has allowed me to do a lot more in life in other spheres as well.

So that.

Money, kids. Money.

Ok. In other news, a few days ago, I started volunteering with a friend’s charity. The first few days I could manage the time and energy and effort. But for the last few days, I haven’t been able to contribute at all. To a point that I am feeling guilty for other people’s loss that my inability has been causing. So that. I know I need to fix it. I know I need to start delivering. I plan to. From sometime later in this week. Let’s see when.

So yeah that.

Guess this is about it for the day. Here’s the streaks…

  • Morning Pages / Meditations – 163
  • #aPicADay – 0
  • 10K steps a day – 1. Plus I walked up 8 floors.
  • OMAD – 0
  • #noCoffee – 0. Had an Americano Venti with 1 tablespoonful of butter.
  • #noCoke – 75
  • 10 mins of meditation – 1
  • #book2 – 0
  • Killer Boogie – 0
  • Surya Namaskar – 1. 12 rounds. Followed this lady.

So all in all, for the streaks, it was a good day. I dont have time for the Surya Namaskar right now but I will try to get in the meditation bit in for sure. And then maybe towards the evening, I will try to gun for 10K.

Over and out.

240521 – Pause. Move.

I talk about how I finally managed to not feel sleepy during the day yesterday! And a few other things.

6:20 AM
Woke around 6. Scrolled the feeds of Instagram, Facebook, Linkedin, Twitter, and Whatsapp. In that order. While still in bed. Yeah, installed all these apps yesterday. After a hiatus of a few days. Realized that I need constant engagement and action and interruptions. I need to be moving all the time. No, not cool. Will come back to this later. Time to make a log of things on top of my head.

So yesterday was the second day on the trot when I worked from a friend’s place. And it was the second day when I was not sleepy during the day. I think it’s the unavailability of the bed. Or may be it’s the fact that I am away from home. However, his place has two issues that I need to solve. A, there’s no desk that I can sit and work on. There’s a table but it’s cramped. Plus, it’s his. I need mine. Second, there’s no AC and in Mumbai, life without AC sucks. Nah, the unavailability of good chairs don’t affect me. I anyway move around a lot.

A solution is to order a desk on Ikea or something. I like Lagkapten. I know he will find space to put it. I think I will. If I go to his place one more day and spend more than 7 hours working, I will order. Let’s see.

The other thing yesterday was that I attended the second day of the Docedge pitching session. I have to say and I don’t say this loosely or frivolously, it was a transformative experience. I will write a longer post on it soon. But thanks to Docedge, I know the kind of stories I want to tell. Non-fiction (or at least inspired by non-fiction), human-first stories that shift the way we think, the way we approach life, and the way we operate. While masala, mass-market Bollywood films are great and help us escape, it is these human stories that move me as a person. I think this is what filmmaking ought to be – real, alive, human-first.

In fact, if you look at the kind of films I like (Sarkar, Swades, Chak De come to mind), while these may sound like Bollywoody, star-studded fictional narratives, at a deeper level, each has a thread of humans and their struggle for finding meaning. There’s a definitive human purpose that the protagonist in each is trying to seek. I am at a loss for words right now but at some point, I will write this at length.

The third thing I have on my head is this entire debate on having your work out there. Or continuing to remain anonymous and chip away till you have chiseled an entire David and then talk about things. I have remained an anonymous antelope all my life and I like that. But I now realize I need to be out there. I need to get shameless about projecting myself and cultivating an image that allows me to get access to more opportunities. It will be a big big move. I have already started to be honest. This podcast is out with me being me, in full glory on video. But then, I am yet to “market” it! I can no longer claim that my picture is not on the internet. I routinely put it on dating websites now. I just need to make the shift in my head and start putting myself out there. I don’t know if it’s the shame at how uncouth I am. Or if it’s the deeper guilt at my underachievement. There’s some deeper emotion at play and I need to tilt that out of my system.

Oh, yesterday, a couple of friends from Goa send a few messages. Even though I may not subscribe to the susegad lifestyle and choices, I for some reason craved to be out there with them. Maybe it’s their eccentricity. Maybe because these were the only people I’ve hung out with lately. Maybe the conversations with them were deeper and richer and beyond the rigmarole that we have in a large city. Maybe because we were closer to nature. I am not sure but I wished I had easier access to them.

In fact, each passing day I am thinking of moving on from Mumbai to Goa. And then keep shuttling as and when required. I know it’s not advisable that you straddle two boats at the same time but then I am one of those that believe that Ajay Devgan could have continued on with his life like that.

Not just bikes, our man has been on cars and even trucks!

I know Goa doesn’t offer me reliable, stable Internet. I know Goa doesn’t have the ecosystem and amenities that I need (Starbucks, AC, people around me who want to work, public transportation et al) but I know that there’s something about the place that attracts me. Or may be, I just was to escape from where I am.

Damn I love the idea of being on the move all the time.

I know I had given myself till the end of May to figure out my next destination. I am yet to take that decision. Let’s see what happens.

Anyhow. So as I end this, here’s a gift for you. A playlist of music I listen to as I drift to sleep. Here.

Guess this is about it for the day. Here’s streaks.

  • Morning Pages / Meditations – 162
  • #aPicADay – 0
  • 10K steps a day – 0
  • OMAD – 0
  • #noCoffee – 0, I will probably remove this. I am making coffee a constant companion.
  • #noCoke – 74
  • 10 mins of meditation – 0
  • #book2 – 0
  • Killer Boogie – 0
  • Surya Namaskar – 0

230521 – Ennui and my attempt at fending it off!

A quick post on my attempts to fend off the boredom that has set in. And an attempt to find some sanity.

8:13 AM
Woke up a while ago. The alarm first rang at 5. I was supposed to record a podcast at 830 but canceled it last night. There’s so much pain around me that I was in no position to make a coherent conversation. It’s really affecting my work and all 🙁

In fact, the last night I was on the bed for hours and couldn’t find sleep. I was so fried that even playing a game of chess was a pain. I just couldn’t even surf Youtube or any other website. I think ennui is back.

Actually, come to think of it, it’s not ennui per se. I think it was the mental fatigue that you feel after you spend a hard day at work. While it was not a hard day per se, I did do a few things. In fact, during the day yesterday, I had a breakthrough of sorts. Since I was sleeping all the time while I was home house, I decided I will go to a friend’s place.

And I did.

I went to a friend’s place to work. While the table there was cramped and the chair was uncomfortable, I managed to spend enough and more time on a computer. To a point that I even put the writing page live! Of course, I need to add a lot more to this page. But I made the start.

Plus I was not sleepy. I did not sleep. I did not feel drowsy. Maybe it was the venti Americano that I had. And all this despite the place not being to my liking. He did not have an AC in the hall and I was sweating like a pig with all the garmi. But I managed to stay alert till about 6 and I spoke to new people. I was as much in the zone as I would be on a regular working day. I plan to go to his place today as well. Let’s see how today goes. I have to finish three large presentations today. If I can manage these, It would be awesome and I would know that things that

In other news, yesterday, I attended the pitching session of DocEdge. It was awe-inspiring, spell-binding, and eye-opening to say the least. Filmmakers from across the world presented the projects they are working on, on subjects that ranged from personal stories to communities to even national boundaries. I realized that I am living in a cocoon and the cinema I want to stand for is probably in the non-fiction space. I mean I do want to entertain the world and all that but I really want to inspire the world as well and what better way to do that than cinema?

Oh, and in attendance was a filmmaker that has won a Palme d’Or. Adding that to my #lifeGoals!

So that.

Like I said, I have three decks to write today. And attend DocEdge sessions. And think of how I can make a dent in the world. I plan to go over to the friend’s place again today and see how I perform.

So yeah. That’s about it for the day. Over and out. And here’s streaks…

  • Morning Pages / Meditations – 161
  • #aPicADay – 0
  • 10K steps a day – 0
  • OMAD – 0
  • #noCoffee – 0 (had coffee yesterday. Will have more today as well)
  • #noCoke – 73
  • 10 mins of meditation – 0
  • #book2 – 0
  • Killer Boogie – 0
  • Surya Namaskar – 1 (did 12 rounds)

The Ultimate Guide to Writing Better

If you want to write better, look no further than this ultimate list of tools, tips, tricks and more from some of the greatest writers ever.

Bob Dylan, one of the most epic storytellers, songwriters, activists, and of course musicians once use these few words, “Come gather ’round people, wherever you roam”.

Thing is, writing well is a superpower, and it’s a gift that continues to give, even long after you’ve done the work. At least I have benefitted immensely from my love for writing. I can’t say I write well. But I know that when I write and when people (friends, families, and even strangers) read what I have written, they are deeply moved. May be they are lying, may be they are being polite. Maybe it’s a random occurrence.

Irrespective.

All I know is that a lot of good has come out from my writing and I sincerely think more and more people must write. Write more. Write in public. Write to publish. To achieve immortality. To be able to reach out to more people. To get access to the hive mind that you will never get if you keep your thoughts closeted.

In fact, I am sort of an activist that keeps telling everyone I know to go write whatever they can, however they can and wherever they can. And to do that I have a few things running right now and this page will archive all those.

Hope this helps.

A. A list of recommended books / guides that I think are useful.

These are not in any order. And this is an evolving list.

  1. On Writing. By the legendary Stephen King. Must add that King has written one of the best pieces of film that I’ve ever seen.
  2. Consider This. By Chuck Palahniuk. Of the Fight Club fame. Enough said.
  3. Julian Shapiro’s Writing Well Handbook. Julian has to be among the best polymaths I know. He goes deep into things that excite him, becomes a sort of master at those. And then he condenses the process into easy to consume guides that are better than the most authoritative guidebooks on that subject. Best of all, free! 🆓 🆓 🆓
  4. What I Talk About When I Talk About Running. By Murakami. If there’s one writer that I can’t understand and yet the world can’t stop raving about, it’s Murakami. I don’t know what is it about his writing that moves people. When I started reading, I would pick up his books and marvel at the worlds he would create. I would try and make sense of the fetish people have with things as ordinary as the shape of the ears and paintings and distant Japanese prefectures. But alas, despite me trying, I was unable to understand what he said or spoke. However what he talks about in What I Talk About When I Talk About Running makes a lot of sense. As someone who wants to learn writing. And as someone who wants to learn running.

B. A WhatsApp Group.

I run a WA Group where I often share whatever little I know about writing. This include links to various articles that I find helpful, some prompts, tips from acclaimed writers and more things.

Some things that I have posted there are…

In case you want to join the group, it is here.

C. Misc.

Again, this is a WIP list that I will keep adding to / removing from.

  1. ship30for30.com. I have NOT taken this as a challenge as yet. I would have loved to, it not for the prohibitive price. I wish I had the money. In fact, I am tempted to something similar for people that have weaker currencies.
  2. Twitter List (maintained by me). This is a list of other writers that I admire and love. I follow these people religiously for the writing advice they give out.

So that’s about it for the time being. Will continue to work on this.

Oh, I must say, while you may consume all the resources and read all the books and all that, the best way to get better with writing is, well, by writing more!

All the best!


Disclaimers…

  • Last updated on 22 May 2021.
  • In case you want me to add/remove something to this list, please do let me know.