Untitled – 27 Nov 2023

The last few days have been maddening (and exciting). I have travelled to Dubai, Delhi and Bangalore. I have had multiple calls in a day (and I am not used to talking on the phone). I have had to douse multiple fires (including a few that I could have avoided if I had trained people well). I have had to think hard about how I want to run my business (continue to be a lifestyle business that gives me enough to live by myself in basic comfort or scale to a large services company where we make great money but then take great stress as well). No, I dont have an answer to this question. But I know that I have worked a lot. Probably the hardest I have ever had. And no, not hard work as in carrying a load on my back but putting my head to simple problems. And I will not lie, I am enjoying every bit of it!

I can complain that the problems am working on could be larger and grander. I know what am doing at 41, most people do at 25. I know I’ve been left behind in the race of life. I know I have to catch up on a lot of things. I know I have to run harder and faster to stay at the same place. I know age is not on my side. I am unfit like a sack of potatoes. I mean you get the drift. I can REALLY complain if I want to. But I think I am at a great place in life. I would have given an arm and a leg to be here when we were stuck indoors due to COVID-19.

So that.

Ok, coming to the point of this blog.

As an old man trying to do a million things, I get overwhelmed a lot and like most humans I often get the urge, need, want, wish, whatever to share how am feeling with someone. Someone who’d not judge me and understand me (at least try to). Someone who I can just go and rant to. I am super close to my team. More than I should be in a professional setting. I dont have boundaries. And that makes it tough to lean on them. My best friends are in full-time jobs with stable and fat salaries and thus they dont understand why I get jittery around the 20th about money. I dont want to trouble my parents. I dont trust people on the internet a lot. I dont have romantic partners.

And I really really really need to vent out at times. And this is when this blog comes in handy. I pour out whatever it is that’s clouding my head. Here’s a list of things at this hour – 23:57 PM, 27 Nov 2023.

A/ Health.
I am back to being 92.6 kg. Last week I touched 91. I had controlled what I ate. But I lapsed over the weekend. I had to be 5 inches thinner by the end of the year. I have about 30 days and I dont think that’s happening. And I hate it.

B/ Compulsive Shopping.
Last few days I have ordered random things on Amazon. Most of these were ordered while I was in that half-asleep, dazed state.

I need to stop this. Probably delete the credit card from Amazon. Probably stop scrolling those “ten things from Amazon you need in your house”.

C/ Chandni is finally in Mumbai.
I am giving myself another year 6 months or so to build a unicorn out of DD / C4E. We are in a good place in terms of income. We are at a great place in terms of delivery. I am cutting all the fluff by Mar 2024, including letting go of people that dont perform (something I’ve never ever done and something that I will do with a heavy heart). If I dont make it in the next few months, I would never.

D/ Music by Rajesh Singh.
I am tripping onto this dude called Rajesh Singh. He sings old Hindi music and I love him! See this one. See this tweet.

E/ Writing.
I am loving that words are flowing easily as I type this. I love that whatever I’ve been thinking lately, I am able to pour it on paper and I can feel the hunch in the shoulders go away. I must write more often.

F/ May the flop be with you!
I am on a great streak with the flops and rivers. I am FTing a lot of these timed tourneys on Poker Stars. It’s taking time but I am loving the grind.

G/ Payday
I need to pay my people this week. I am getting jittery about the bank balance. Lol.

H/ Dubai
Prito called me from Dubai yesterday morning. Love love love love it that he’s getting to do what he wants to. He is one of those super unreasonable, super-pushy people who decide what they want and then they get it.

Another such person I’ve come to know lately is Aastha. Even though she’s new in my ecosystem, I love how good she is! I wish I was half as good.

I am super-duper invested in the success of both of these people. And many many more.

I/ Growth and grandeur
FWIW I’ve always chased grand things and plans. And I’ve remained tiny speck. No, I don’t want grandeur for myself to be able to buy a Rolls but I’d like that wealth to open doors and give me access to experiences that I don’t even know exist.

J/ Car
I really really really crave a car. At this time, I want nothing but an empty-ish road, a decentish car, and a hotel at the end of the journey. I don’t think am buying a car in India ever but I would love to have access to one for sure.

K/ Manav Kaul, Filmfare
For one of the short films I produced with Shikha, Manav Kaul has won the Filmfare award for the best actor. I had literally no role to play in the film except putting in the money but his award felt personal! Oh, and we’ve been at numerous festivals and won some awards but I think Filmfare is the only Indian award that I probably cared for. That seems to be within reach now as well! So that. I really really would like to scale this business of entertainment. I damned moved all the way to Andheri for this!

And no, while I want to be a part of the show business, I continue to remind myself of Pale Blue Dot. I’ll probably get it framed.

L/ Focus
I have been thinking about focus. I’ve never been the kind to be able to focus and I don’t know if I should change it at this age. But then each time I see someone extol the virtues of focus, I get mindfucked. Like this tweet.

M/ The #in2024 Plan
I have been thinking about it for a while now. And I have been delaying that. Multiple reasons. Each year I make such a large brouhaha about it and I miss most things by a mile. Been planning and missing for at least 10 years now.

So this time, I am thinking do I even want to do it? I mean I don’t get discouraged if I miss the plan. I don’t get excited if I get to some milestones. I am mostly stoic about things.

I’d love to plan – gives me a semblance of structure in my otherwise random life. But then I’d love to not plan as well – gives me an opportunity to fan more randomness and see if things go well. So, if I do, I will continue to use YearCompass. If I don’t, I won’t. Let’s see where my mood takes me over the next few days.

N/ A new frame for the house
Now that I have decided that I will start to acquire things again, I got myself a piece of art frame. I love how it has come out. Whoever is lucky enough to get admission to my house gets to see.

Guess this is it for the time being. I had an ok (but tiring day). I had two tough meetings, but I sailed through. I have a fancy lunch to go to tomorrow. I am so not looking forward to it but I have to go! Work, sigh!

And as I end this, I really really want to acknowledge that whoever said that being an entrepreneur is the loneliest profession – HELL YEAH! It is. Especially if you are old and don’t drown yourself in alcohol or any substance abuse. You really have no one around. I am glad and grateful I have at least this blog to lean on. Most people don’t even have that. I can only imagine their misery and want of success.

This is it for the day.
More later!

PS: In case you are in the same boat and want to talk to someone, am around 🙂

The Delhi Delulu

A short note about my recent (and not so recent) trip (s) to Delhi.

I am writing this from a plane – UK801. Unedited, unfettered text. Please excuse typos etc.

So, each time I make a trip to delhi, I feel I am cheating. I feel incomplete. I feel incredibly sad. There is no specific reason to be honest – delhi is after all home. I may live in Mumbai and I may want to be living out of India but at heart I am from Delhi and you can never take that out of me. I prefer “tu” when I talk. I use Hindi a lot. I slip into informal conversations even when I am supposed to be running serious business meetings. I dress like a vagabond – wait this is not a Delhi charcterestic – people in Delhi are very very well dressed. Anyhow. I am as Delhi-like as they come.

The point is, even though am coming home (this time, for Diwali) and other times as and when I get an opportunity, each trip to delhi feels incomplete. A compromise. Here are a few reasons why… 

I have a few connections (people I went to MDI with, people I’ve become friends over the years, people that I want to be friends with and more) in Delhi and each time I am in Delhi, I want to meet them. But I am unable to. The time is limited. The distance too much. The willingness of others to meet me is limited. This is one of my rants that for some reason, I dont get enough attention or patronage from people that I would like to meet – maybe once I have some money and some success, I would be able to attract more people to choose me over whatever else they’d do on a weekend. 

While I am in Delhi, I am unable to work and to me the only thing that matters is my work. At home in Delhi, we dont have a place that I can sit and work out of – even though my parents make a lot of concessions for me. The nearest coffee shop is a McD and it opens at 11. The nearest Starbucks is a 45-min drive away. I can convert one of the rooms in my small house as a work-room but for what joy – I am hardly in Delhi and when I am there, I have trained myself to tell that I would not work anymore. 

So, when I cheat my work or slack on it, I feel like I am cheating.

As someone who grew up in Delhi, I may want to get sad about the very limited network I have here. I mean on instagram every one I know was at a 100 Diwali parties and here I was at home. Oh wait. Lemme catch my thoughts. I am sinking into what I’ve been warning all the kids against – looking at pretty lives of others on instagram and getting sad about my own life! So, this thought I will scratch – you know, thoughts, words, actions, reality. 

Oh there is this issue of Noida and Gurgaon. For the world these are parts of Delhi. For me these are adopted cousins that I would love to be friends with but haven’t been able to. For one, these places are very far from where I live in delhi. A trip to Gurgaon is about 100 KMs to and fro and with the traffic, it becomes a 4-5 hours affair. Do I want to invest that much time in meeting an adopted cousin? I dont know.

Finally and most importantly, my parents. 

My parents are old and I rarely meet them. And when I do, it’s on these rush-rush trips to Delhi. And since these are rushed trips, most interactions, conversations and everything else is very, well, rushed! Plus each time I see them, I can see a visible change in them – they are growing older, atrophying. Thankfuly they are very very independent. I am not sure they signed up for this independence – I have largely remained absent from their lives except for these cheat-trips to Delhi – but like most humans, they’ve learnt to survive with each other. Am I guilty about it? Yes! Am I sad about it? Yes. Can I do something about this? I dont know. I mean I can let go of all that I’ve wanted to in life and move back to live in with them. I won’t be happy if I did that. But they would probably be very very happy. 

So this. 

Each of these five things that I talked about, on paper and rationally, are solvable. However I am anything but rational. Each action of mine is guided by emotions, heart, whims. And there is no way these are getting fixed by a person like me. No, not blaming anyone or anything. I am merely reflecting on how these trips to Delhi feel like. 

Guess this is it. Over and out. 

When I travel…

A reflective piece on how I travel, what is home and what is the meaning of life for Saurabh Garg

I wrote a part of this from an airport (DXB) when I was waiting to take my 27th flight of the year. And this has been a bad year in terms of travel.

Oh, and this one will take me home. Delhi. Where my parents are.

I had always imagined that at heart I would always be a Delhi person but now that I am fairly comfortable in my Andheri West and Ghatkopar West life, I dont know what is home. It’s no longer Delhi. And it’s not Mumbai yet. Apart from my parents, the only family I’ve known is VG’s and even he doesn’t have a base per se – so I dont know what or where is home.

Wait. That’s not the point at this time. Moving on.

The other part of this is being written from a flight. Indigo’s 1908. To Del. And since I have nothing special to do on the flight, I’ve had the time to reflect on how I spent the last 7-10 days in one of the top tourist destinations – Dubai. And an epiphany happened. The way I’ve spent the last few days in Dubai is exactly how I’ve spent my entire life as a tourist (or a traveller).

Read on.

So, I was in Dubai for a week or so. And despite it being a haven for tourists and infinite offers for food, attractions, experiences and whatnot, I did exactly what I would do if I were in Mumbai. I was in the infinite loop of “home to a coffee shop to a client’s facility (office, warehouse, meeting room) to another coffee shop and then to the bed for the night”. I have lived in this loop since 2010 now and I think this is for the first time I am thinking and writing about it.

Lemme elaborate.

So this must be my 10th trip to Dubai since the beginning of time. And I have not gone dune-bashing except for a trip back in 2010. I have not been to the top of Burj. I dont know how Dubai Frame looks from the inside. I can’t remember when was the last time I went for a Desert Safari and saw a Belly Dance or a Tanura Dance. The Museum of Future looks gorgeous from the outside but I dont know what it is like inside. The old Dubai may be like, well, the old Dubai but I have no way of knowing – never been there. I am hoping the Dhow River cruise would be nice on most days. The Grand Mosque in Abu Dhabi must be a spectacle. The made-for-tourist things like Yas Island, Ferrari World, F1 tracks and all that must heighten your senses. I have never experienced those.

Similarly, on my maiden trip to Manila earlier this year, I would walk every day from home to a coffee shop, park myself there and do whatever on the laptop. The only time I left the 3 square kilometre area of BGC was to go to the airport and once to a weekend getaway that I was not keen on but VG was. And at that getaway, I sat under a canopy while I saw people frolicking in the water.

For each trip that I have made in the last few years, this would repeat. Hotel. Coffee Shop or the same restaurant. Hotel. Repeat.

The point is, I do NOT do touristy things. I do NOT go to must-visit places. I do NOT indulge in experiences that people travel to the end of the world for. I can’t understand all those people who travelled to Ahmedabad for the India-Pakistan cricket match. Some of my friends have booked a visit to an Ed Sheeran concert for the next year. People I know plan for Diwali parties like we used to schedule classes in school and college – each hour of the day is preallocated and optimised. Reminds me of the fervour participation of people around me at MAMI – people made Excel sheets and all that! For watching some films! I mean really!

Brings me to the point – why do I live? I mean if I am unable to…

  • a, enjoy these experiences,
  • or b, crave for finer things (lately I have decided that I will only buy things when I ABSOLUTELY need them and I would stop wanting all the luxury brands that I’ve wanted (things like Prada sunglasses, Birkenstock chappals, Apple Watches et al))
  • or c, have the wants to attend social dos
  • or d, have any wants that most of us have (gold, sex, legacy)
  • or e, mindlessly consume content on Netflixes of the world
  • or f, have any large personal ambitions for self,
  • or g, have any familial or social attachments

…why am I even alive?

One line of thinking is that I live to be able to become the conductor of opportunity for people that I know – you know, create opportunities for people that I work with – even at my cost. Remember that quote that I often use? Sai itna deejiye?

However, I am unable to answer what drives me. I mean, there’s no end to the opportunity that I can create for people. Today I enable a few people to make ends meet in a respectful, kind manner. Tomorrow, these few could become many. And then those many could become a lot. But it remains a goal without a tangible finish line!

The other line is that I am lost. In the chase of grandiose ambitions and God-like plans, I am lost. And so lost that I am ignoring the very fabric of what makes us human – interactions with others, participation in society, celebrating social constructs and engaging in primal things!

I may be. I may not be. But this is how I am and on a day-to-day basis, I think I am ok. If someone were to ask me about what keeps me up at night, my answer is, nothing! Most days I sleep ok. Some days I want crave for someone special next to me but with time I think I have trained myself to ignore that instinct as well. I couldn’t understand how a lot of Bengali men remained single even when they were old – today I think I can relate to it even though I am unable to put that in words.

Things that people worry about – future, retirement, money, work, health, relationships, I think I am very blessed to found a way to not let those things affect me. I mean I know I dont have any savings, I know that my health is not the best, I know that my parents need my attention, I know that at work, we at C4E could do better, I know I sometimes crave for another human. But overall. I think I am ok.

So, either, I am lost. As lost as a child in the topless bar. Or I have attained Nirvana. And this brings me to the third line of thinking.

The third is that I have somehow attained Nirvana!

I have no needs or wants (except the AC, iPhone, shorts (not pants) and personal space) and I live in the present. I dont think about the past at all and I dont care about the future at all. All I have is this moment and I live in this. Right now, I am in a cramped seat (7D – I always take aisle seats) and writing about the trip to Dubai. I love the idea that I can express myself in a lucid manner and I have some people that listen to me when I talk.

I bring the best of my ability and intention in each interaction. I try and create abundance for everyone. Making movement is an important driver for me. I can not sit idle. I am that man with an axe who’d not breathe till he’s chopped the entire forest down.

While working, at a point in time, I had these rules that I made about the kind of people that I wanted to work with and live with. I was very very very selective about who got access to my inner circle and I was ruthless about who I slowly ejected from it. But I think over time, it’s come to a point where I dont even care about those anymore. Whoever I interact with slots me in a stereotype as per their understanding. I do the same. And as long as a relationship is kind, polite, rational, and win-win, I am okay. The ones that dont play long-term games get filtered out and are best allowed to slip through the crevices of time.

So, that’s that.

Brings me to the next important point.

Why do I travel and what do I do when I do that?

Well, I don’t seek any experiences that tickle any senses (apart from massages, and hitting a runner-runner nuts on a poker table) and that means I could travel each day of the year or I could be cloistered in a city and I would be ok. Wait. This is important. If I am held captive and I am unable to step out of a room, I’ll die. I need to be able to breathe fresh air (hopefully cold), walk around, see other humans going about their lives and augment the dataset on which I’ve built my life. But I am okay to do so in a tiny block or in the world at large. Preferably in the world at large because it will offer me a larger data set and thus more experiences and more lessons.

Also, I like the idea of living like a local. I love to look at people and from a distance, see how they operate, learn, live and all that. I like to experience routine but in new places. I fondly remember the Baristas at the Coffee Bean and Tea Leaf at BGC. I almost became friends with the Barista at the Starbucks at the Marina Promenade. I think about people at the Kabra Starbucks store even though I haven’t been there in more than 10 days and I won’t go back for another 10.

I can call this way of life “living local in a global village” and I think I would love to roam around communities across the world and immerse myself as a local there. In fact, I started this piece with a quip on home. May be I am one of those people that aren’t meant to have a home. May be the nature of my nature to have homes in all the communities that I get to live in?

Of course, I know the flaw in this – my life has largely been spent in privileged communities (MDI Campus, Nahar, Address, DN Nagar etc) and I may not enjoy this local living in a global village If I were to live in harsh places.

So, with the awareness of this privilege, I am grateful that I get to have many homes in many places in the world. I hope I can create more such homes for more such people like me that dont have homes. Maybe this is the purpose that I chase. Maybe this is why I am alive. Maybe.

I guess this is it. If you reached till the end of this piece, please do let me know what you think. Am I ok? Or do I need help :D?

PS: If this has been established that I would live on the road, out of a suitcase, I think I need to be more present in EACH thing I do. While I enjoy doing many things and multi-tasking, I think I will want to live each moment as fully as I can. So, henceforth, I will bring my 100% attention and intention to each task that I do. While I will want to optimise things (say listen to podcasts while I am in transit), for each human interaction, I will give my 100%. If you see me giving any less, do point it out. If you see me checking my phone while talking to someone, please point it out. If you see me replying to emails while running an online meeting, please point it out. If you see me eating and watching TV, please point out.

That’s it! More later!

Consistency vs Intensity

I write about my struggles with consistency. And I write about my ability to work with intensity.

Here’s a razor (I know what a razor is, thanks to a brilliant ebook by S – she has made it available for pay-what-you-like here) – As you know more, you know more about more things that you dont know anything about, let alone more.

Like a few nights ago, I was standing outside a hotel lobby waiting for an event setup to happen (ISTG I love this business of events and I wish I could do large format, large scale setups that need hundreds of people) and I realised (epiphany happened!) that I dont like to do things. And I have never liked it, ever since I was a child. More on this in subnote 1.

But then, I realised, I like to manage things. And managing things essentially means I need to manage the egos and fears and desires of the people whom I work with. And thankfully I am at a place in life where I dont have to “do” things no more. I can get by merely managing! And I think I am good when it comes to understanding people and all that. Let’s park this as A. We would come back to it.

The other thing that I’ve known for a while is that I am unable to do things that need a day-to-day grind and consistency. Things like writing every day (even though I wrote and published for 100-odd days straight while in lockdown), working out every day, running social media pages, staying on top of accounts and numbers (my father at the age of 68 can tell me outstanding balances of scores of suppliers that we work with at C4E and I have a hard time remembering how many people do I work with!) and other things that require consistent, daily grind.

I have really tried hard to maintain streaks and do things on a regular day-to-day basis, and yet, I have failed. I can blame it on my formative years at an events agency where most work was strictly on a project basis and once you were on a project, you could forget everything – you know marathons and sprints? And thus you didn’t have to work on things that needed daily rhythm / cadence. And after a project was over, you had so much downtime that I could write a damn book! Let’s call this B.

Now, if I club A and B (my inability to do things and my inability to do things on a day-to-day basis), I am staring at a very bleak future! I mean, the world nature rewards consistent work over long periods. Intensity gets you only so far. It’s consistent small efforts that compound into an avalanche of magnanimous results!

The funny thing is, I am aware of this. And yet I have not been able to stay consistent. I know I am getting old and health-wise it’s only downhill from here on and yet I don’t work out. I know that to grow my business and reach my ambition, I need to work on my personal brand and yet I refuse to create content every day. I know that I need to see my team do well and yet I am not consistent with my training.

In fact, I’ve gathered an entire folder of images that extol the virtues of consistency over intensity. And yet I am unable to move my ass on it. Here –

So yea. Despite the awareness that I need to over-index on consistency, I am unable to be consistent. Of course, I continue to be very good when it comes to being intensive about work and life and all that!

On consistency, I have tried everything – keeping trackers (that look like minefields with gaping holes in those), making large bets (that I’ve been losing since I was a child), taking help from accountability buddies (that have grown frustrated with me and have abandoned me), calendaring things (that I plainly skip) and what not.

And yet I haven’t been able to do this!

And there are some people that I know that are so good at showing up EVERYday that they are on 1000s of days of streaks of performing tasks. In this TED talk by Duolingo founder, I found that there are 3 million people that have a streak of more than 365 days!

365. Days.

Let that sink in.

EACH DAY of the year, some rain, shine, hail, storm, they have done their bit on Duolingo. An app.

WOW! And how!

So yeah that. My struggles with consistency.

Over and out.

PS: Subnote 1
While editing this piece, another epiphany happened.
That on my personal brand, I was doing it all wrong – I was talking about marketing, writing, startups and all that. However, that is not who I am! I am a tinkerer, a mover of things, an experimenter, a trier and all that. I like to do things – often without agendas and thus I need to create / share content about these trials and all that (rather than marketing). More on this in a few days. Meanwhile, over and out 🙂