020721 – Morning Pages

I normally dont rant about work. But this is exactly that. A long rant. About work.

6:10. Woke a few minutes ago. I slept ok. Plus I slept for almost 7 hours. I was in my bed at around 11 I think and I woke up at 5:50ish. My back and neck are sore, like most days. I either need to find a new mattress or a new pillow. Actually, I need a new house. Damn!

These small things like comfortable place to live and other things that make it convenient to live in are so so important for a day to day happiness. I know there are people that would consider my house as lavish. I know there are people that get things done even if they are living with one-hundredth of what I have. And I know they do far better than I. Guess this is where people are different. You know, they can perform miracles. I, on the other hand, need comfort to do that!

This is what I think is the toll of the lockdown on me. The productivity levels are at lowest I’ve had in the last few months. I am sure it’s evident from the output on these morning pages. It at least evident from my Screen Time (which is at 10 hours right now). Guess I need to move to a non-smartphone for a few days. All I need on it is Whatsapp. Will try.

Thing is, I am unable to do any meaningful, deep work. I can blame it on too many meetings that I am a part of. But than that’s that. A blame. I think it’s the inability to get in to a regiment and create inspiring, designed-for-work places around me. I need to have a largish table and a chair at the right hight. I need to have the AC on. I need infinite supply of water (and access to a loo). I need my music on headphones. I need to have people around me. I need everything to be perfect before I can do my work.

As a knowledge worker, this is the worst you can do. To a point that I need to stop calling myself one. The idea is that I could have a location independent life that allows me to work and earn. With this kind of want of perfection, I don’t think I will ever have such a life!

Or maybe I need to stop work altogether and have my network work for me! You know, find an avenue for passive income. Let’s see.

Staying with this work conundrum, I tried to list what all could be wrong. You know why is that I am uninspired despite me needing work. Here are some plausible reasons.

  1. No access to an inspiring place to work from. I just can’t seem to get work done from where I live. I slack a lot more than I should. I lie down more than I should. I waste time on Youtube and Instagram a lot more than I must. I just can’t work once I am back from Starbucks. So today, I plan to stay there till they shut and do things. Let’s see how it goes. I have a lot to do.
  2. I am unhappy about something else and it’s rubbing off on my work. What could that be? Relationships? Health? Money? Not sure.
  3. I have work that’s beyond my capability to deliver? Dont think so.
  4. I have too much work? No. I am at a point where I turning down work. This is for the first time that I am doing this! Plus, it’s not a capacity issue. I have added people wherever I can.
  5. Too many meetings? Yes. I mean I spend way too much time in those meetings but then that’s part and parcel of work.

Guess these are it.

From the looks of it, these look like excuses and rants and third-party projections about slacking. I don’t know a way out. The city is still under preventive shut-down. Co-working spaces are still not open. The ones that are open don’t put their AC on. They remain filthy. Starbucks is a viable option but that shuts at 4. And I can’t take calls from there. Which is ok. I am ok to stay quiet on calls and come back to where I live for serious calls.

Need to find a way out!

Ok.

Enough of rant, Mr. Garg.

Moving on.

So in good news, yesterday, I literally assaulted my stomach. With oily paranthas, ice-cream, street food reheated in stale vegetable oil, chips and I don’t know what all. I need to start eating clean. And order in from places that probably understand fitness. If there are places like that. They sell vegetable, low-fat, high-carb things as fitness food. Lol. Anyway, yesterday, the saving grace was that I ate in a 3-hour window.

I am hoping to fast today. Since I plan to stay at Starbucks till 4 today and I want to avoid bread and all that, let’s see if I can manage to not eat.

So that.

In other news, I finally published my Ode to She. It’s here. This is one of those pieces that took a long time to happen but am I glad it happened! I am still not sure if this is good enough for a wider circulation but I am not happy with it. That’s the thing. When I write things, even if I dont like those, I still go ahead and publish. For that allows others to read and give me feedback. When I dont publish, the output that I have created remains hidden and there’s no way for the world to discover its awesomeness or patheticness. And I want to know both things about it. You know, if it’s awesome, I want to write more. Push it even more. If it’s pathetic, I want to know how to improve. Even if readers are unable to point out the problems, at least I know that the piece is not being appreciated. So yeah, I publish.

If you want to write for a living, you have to embrace this. You have to publish and share it with as many people as you can.

Ok. Enough.

I will try to fast today. Let’s see.

Here’s streaks…

  • Morning Pages / Meditations – 203
  • #aPicADay – 0
  • 10K steps a day – 0
  • OMAD – 2
  • #noCoffee – 2
  • #noCoke – 113
  • 10 mins of meditation – 0
  • #book2 – 0
  • Killer Boogie – 0
  • Surya Namaskar – 0

An Ode to She – Elvis Costello

An ode to one of the best pieces of music ever created and ever featured in a film! From the lens of a hopeless romantic that refuses to lose hope!

So in the morning yesterday a few days ago, a friend sent me this Instagram reel. I saw it, with audio. And my jaw dropped to the floor.

Someone has taken the track that I love like mad and put it on a happy scene of a woman running in a tight alley. The camera is close on her tail, she’s consumed by her happiness and everyone in the scene is sort of coming together to make her experience even more beautiful! You know, the shared celebrations that the primal us want?

This has to be one of the most beautiful portraits of a woman I’ve ever seen.
Ever.
In my life.

Please please please please see it.
It’s at instagram.com/p/CQJzn9nn_rI.
It’s a pity I can’t seem to embed it.

Ok. Deep breath.

So, She.
Here.
Listen to it, if you want to.

She, from Notting Hill

Lemme talk about it.

My memory fails me but I think I first saw heard experienced this track when I saw Notting Hill all those years ago. I dont recall when was this, to be honest, but I must’ve been very very young. However, I remember that I definitely lived in a lower-middle-class part of Delhi. English was a language of the elites and thus aspirational. English was still making inroads into daily parlance. It was considered cool to listen to English music. The only music to trickle to my remote corner of Delhi was the pop chartbusters like Backstreet Boys, Bryan Adams, and others. No, the rock music scene around me was limited to one or two sightings of a Bon Jovi fan. And in rarest of the rare cases, Sweet Child O Mine by Guns N’ Roses.

So, back then, being able to namedrop an English track immediately elevated your status. It was a sure-shot way to become an anomaly in the group of kids that were otherwise stuck on Super Commando Dhruv and Lucky Ali and all that. You were perceived as cool. You’d get more “followers” to flock at you. You’d become that alpha that every kid at that age aspires to be. All this, without trying if you could blabber names of some English songs.

This is when I probably first heard music from Notting Hill. It would have been a pirated version of the film (with subtitles downloaded separately), this was well before the unlimited Jio’d Internet days.

Oh, those days. I remember I got my first computer in 1999 something and we would have dial-up connections and floppy disks and pen-drives with less than 1 MB of capacity. So watching films meant firing up Windows Media Player. Even Winamp! Films were still in CDs that you could rent from various holes in the walls. Often the print was grainy and often the film would get stuck, you know, scratches on the disks. Damn, those days. Of anticipation. Of hope. Of pain. Of wait.

Ok. I digressed. Coming back.

So I would have seen this film on a computer screen. Sometime around 2003 when I was finishing college and preparing for CAT (and thus trying to deck up on English). It’s been almost 2 decades since I’ve remained hooked to the film!

I would’ve seen this film at least a hundred times, if not more. I have literally rattofied the film. I remember the dialogues and scenes and expressions and costumes and the props that you place next to the actors in those complicated set scenes and everything else about the film.

Thing is, back then, when I first saw this film (and heard music from this film), I would have ignored “She” for sure. For it competed with the more famous “When you say nothing at all” by Ronan Keating / Boyzone. It was the track that each “just a girl” that stood in front of a boy asking him to love her would have heard on loop. And imagined a love as warm, as goofy, and as (im)perfect as that of Anna and Will.

Heck, I have pictured myself in that garden, on the June and Joseph bench, under the trees, on a clear, moonless, starry night. I continue to do so to date. Before I die I want to be in that setting. With the love of my life.

Ok. Digressed again.

So coming back. Fast forward a few years.

To this day and age.

With time, I have traveled a bit, seen a bit of life, and probably evolved a bit. I’ve seen Notting Hill again. With fresher eyes and a deeper understanding of the idea of love, friendship, and relationships. And it is one of these recent viewings that I started to appreciate “She” a lot more.

I now understand the contrasts that Costello talks about. I can now decipher the abstraction of shades from the extremes. You know, pleasure or regret, heaven or hell, famine or feast, and many more.

I now know that “She” is about her. The woman that’s rarer than you. The one that makes you feel alive. The one that makes you want to survive. The one you can stay #foreverAlone for, for decades. The one that’s probably the love that you cannot hope to last! And among other things, the one that you will kill (or die) to see the smile on the face of.

In case you missed, I lifted parts of the lyrics to write the parts above.

The thing is, while the track by itself is brilliant, the way it’s been used in Notting Hill makes it 100x better. The song appears right at the end of the film.

This is when Anna and Will have had their ups and downs and right before the all is lost moment.

In there, Will asks Anna a fairly complex, funny, and irreverant question. It is loaded with their inside joke. No one but the two of them can make sense of it.

Will has used way too many words, in a room full of people that use words to make their living. While the meaning was seemingly lost on most of those there, Will’s lavish use of words did exactly what he wanted to! Communicate love.

Anna has a measured response to Will’s question. She is guarded. Probably hoping against hope that things will turn in their favour.

This is when another journalist asks a simple, innocuous, harmless question – “Anna, How long do you plan to stay back in England?”

She replies with one word. “Indefinitely.”

If she had use even one more word at that time, it would have killed the entire film. To a point that you’d not want to even see the fim.

This is the instant when they play “She”.

And it starts the recap of the Will and Anna story. And probably the best 3-minutes of cinema ever shot!

In the entire scene, none of the actors speak a single line. Anna is merely smiling, with a twinkle in her eyes and that unmistakable mole on her lips. Will is merely gawking at her beauty. In a room full of strangers, and the ones that have a keen eye, the two lovers speak to each other and pass on more words than the longest of love letters have ever done!

This is when I start pining for love like that.
A “She” like that.
And wants me to be worthy of “She” like that.

Here it is. All over again. Do see it.

She, Elvis Costello. From Notting Hill.

Oh, and if you are curious, I’ve been with some really remarkable women over the years. It has to be me that was unable to keep their attention and interest. Of course, I remain hopeful. For a “She”.

Thanks for reading and indulging!

010721 – 201st Morning Pages

The 200th post (not really) since I started writing these morning pages. Nothing special to report though.

6:52 AM. 1st of July.

▓▓▓▓▓▓▓░░░░░░░░ 50% of the year is done.
The time’s flying so fast and is changing so many things that we aren’t even noticing! Guess that’s the thing with time. You know that it’s omnipresent, always on the move, and among other things, a great healer. You could either fight it by reminiscing about the time gone by or you could embrace it by rubbing shoulders and continuing to move on.

Wow so much philosophy first thing in the morning. Must include this in my quarterly update.

So, I thought today is the 200th post on Morning Pages. But when I went to check, I realized I have published for 201 days already! So today’s 202nd. I may have missed updating the numbers on one of these days.

Honestly, numbers dont matter. The thing is that the streak is now 200+ days long. I am very very impressed with myself. Never thought I’d be able to write so consistently for so long. Especially when I typically dont have anything specific to write. And come to think of it, it started as a way to get inspiration for #book2. That of course has taken a back seat with all the work. But I am glad that I am on it!

For the records, here’s the first post from Dec 11, 2020.

The other good thing to report is that yesterday I managed to avoid coffee even though I was at a Starbucks. And I ate in just a 2-hour slot (I did eat a lot but all of that was in a 2-hour window). Yay!

To get closer to where I want to be in life, I just need to add workouts to my routine. And may be stop going to Starbucks to spend all that money! Wait, lemme finish this fast. I need to reach Starbucks by 8 so that I can get things done – as always a lot on my plate 😀

I dont know what else to write. Will come back to it. Lemme use my electric toothbrush to some use 😀

Ok. I am at a Starbucks now.

I still don’t know what to write, to be honest. I mean I can write about the mile-long list of todo I have. Or I can talk about how I am having a nightmare with Tata Card and their service. I think Indian businesses take customers too lightly. In the last few days, I’ve had trouble with a credit card company, an insurance seller, and the brokerage that I use. All are in the financial services business and it plain sucks that I am taken for a ride like that.

It’s 9:11 and I need to get moving with work. The idea of being at a Starbucks and spend on expensive coffee is to get things done. And that’s what I am going to do after this call.

Here’s streaks…

  • Morning Pages / Meditations – 202!
  • #aPicADay – 0
  • 10K steps a day – 0
  • OMAD – 1
  • #noCoffee – 1
  • #noCoke – 112
  • 10 mins of meditation – 0
  • #book2 – 0
  • Killer Boogie – 0
  • Surya Namaskar – 0