40 things for the 40s

A list of 40 things that I would like to do in my 40s.

So, I am turning turned 40 this year and here is a list of things that I will do in my 40s.

By this age, I was supposed to be financially free and contribute to making a dent in this world. I am of course very very far from any of those goals that I had for myself, I do believe that I have a deeper appreciation for life and work and other things. And in this decade, since I am not sure if I am getting closer to dent, I will for sure do things that I have always wanted to!

And thus, here is a list of things that I will do in the next decade. In no order (but bifurcated into sections)…

PS: I know some of the following are goals, some are systems, some are one-time activities and some are all.

Health

  1. Eat better. This is not a tangible or measurable goal but I want to make a conscious effort. So I will use shortcuts. I will eat natural, organic, and unprocessed food. I will eat fewer carbs. I will not eat anything that may not be edible at room temperature (no ice-creams). I will be mindful of what and how I eat.
  2. Fix Hernia. Get operated upon if required. 
  3. Run 10 full marathons. Each in under 5 hours.
  4. Do the Killer Boogie in 3 mins.
  5. Get 6-pack abs.
  6. Take a shot at Everest. My deadline to do this is Jan 1, 2026. Also, after I went to the base camp last year, I am on the fence about even trying. But let’s see. And if not Everest, do a serious amateur hike every year. The experience is very very humbling and one must do treks often.
  7. Make sleep a priority. As I grow older, I am unable to function if I haven’t had good sleep the previous night. I will be 8 hours in bed without devices. No screen. Not even TV. 8 might be overkill. The point is, I dont want to be tired when I wake up. And if that means I need to say no to work and say no to money opportunities, I will say no. Sleep will become a priority.

Family / Friends / Relationships 

  1. Make parents a priority. Move them to the same city as I. I know I plan to be a nomad per se and it may not pan out but I will try.  
  2. Make parents travel to one new place EVERY year. And do this in relative comfort and luxury. I mean I may not be able to fly them in business class but I will not put them in a bad taxi. And thus I need money. For the money, I dont have an upper limit per se but it has to be at least 5 lakhs a year. And most important, accompany them as much as possible.
  3. Find love. I am not sure if I am capable of being loved – I am way too rational when it comes to real life (and a dreamer on the other end when it comes to work). And I say this with all sincerity. 

Work

  1. Stop active work. This means I will not be responsible for day-to-day operations.
  2. Teach a full-time course.
  3. Prevent my mornings from others at all costs. See this.
  4. Become very very active with #BrandSG. To a point that before I walk into a room, people know who I am. As part of this, I will make a brand manifesto that will have tenets that are dear to me (say, Zubaan Ki Keemat).
  5. I will NOT rent my time! Thanks, Naval!

Money / Wealth 

  1. I will become financially free. This means that I will have enough that I dont need to worry about money and yet I can support everyone around me. You know, “Saain itna dijiye, jaame kutumb samaay, main bhookha naa rahoon, sadhu na bhookha jaaye“. Some people call it FU Money (I mean not really, but the same zone). Right now, the number is 10 crores. Each year that I dont get to this, I will add 25% inflation. And once I get to it, from there on, become a billionaire. And then the richest man in the world. I know that this pursuit of THE richest may not bear fruit. But I want to try. And get there. 
  2. Get a membership at MCA. I challenge that I’ve been on since 2019.

Yeah! That’s all I want. Not more. Not less.

Impact / Contribution / Spirituality 

  1. Teach writing to 100 people a year. And in 10 years, 1000 people.
  2. Get mentioned in thank you of 100 books. Right now, the number is 2 or 3.
  3. Get mentioned in the Oscar acceptance speech 100 times. Right now, the most thanked person at the Oscars is Spielberg (some 42 times).
  4. Expand SoG network (and alumni) into a million young people. Right now, we are in the low two digits. I have no clue how to do this. But I want to make this my life’s work. 
  5. Build SoG Grant into a gateway for young people to explore their interests. And expand the network of recipients to a thousand people!
  6. Build LHV into a substantial venture investment vehicle.
  7. Take C4E or one of our ideas to a point where our impact reaches a few million people. So far we are in the hundreds. PS: I like how I talk about C4E as a collective already. #win
  8. Each year, do at least 10 days of no-connection to existing people kind of trip (Vipassana, gumnaam sheher me anjaan insaan, treks etc.) 
  9. Become a pillar of support to people around me. This will happen if I am able to do all the ones I’ve listed above.

Hobbies

  1. Play a musical instrument on a stage with more than 1000 people in the audience. I got myself a Uke. VG gifted me a guitar long ago. Krishna got me a Uke as well. So despite all these divine interventions, I’ve not been able to get to it. Let’s see what happens this time.
  2. Travel to 100+ countries. So far I’ve done 40 odd. This seems like an easy one to do!
  3. Move to a different country and live there for a few years. This I want to do within the next 2 years. #in2025 
  4. Publish at least 3 books. Lol!
  5. Make 1 feature film. This one looks the most plausible.
  6. Get a WSOP bracelet.

Social

  1. Get to know 10 billionaires on a first-name basis. Right now I know none.
  2. Be more active on social media and chase vanity metrics. 100K on Twitter, 100K on Instagram and 100K on YT. Or any other platform that is large at the time.

Misc

  1. Get consistent. Do EVERYthing I say I will do. This will be HARD!
  2. Move to an iPad and quit using a laptop. This should be easy!
  3. Ensure that people that have put their faith in me get closer to their life goals. This is what I want to live for!
  4. Release 100 Youtube videos where I am talking to random people that I want to talk to. So, for example, I should release a YT conversation with my favourite musician.

So that!

And as I end this, here are some footnotes…

  1. This is NOT a comprehensive list. As of 24 Sep, these are 38. I need to figure out 2 more.
  2. This is an add-on to my #lifeGoals lists. They are here (bucket list, wish list, lifeGoals).
  3. More notes are on this Doc. I will try and update the progress there.
  4. This post has been inspired by this.
  5. And, as always, open to inputs, feedback, thoughts and more! You know where to reach me.

Thank you!
And wish me luck!

Celebrating Jo Jeeta Wohi Sikandar

A short note on my love for the Aamir Khan, Ayesha Jhulka starrer, Jo Jeeta Wohi Sikandar. I talk about how it’s a lesson in filmmaking!

Poster from Jo Jeeta Wohi Sikandar

If you are an Indian and you don’t know about this film, you must have lived under a rock. It probably is among the most iconic films of all time. While people dismiss it as a school / student rivalry film, I think the right category to slot it in is that of bildungsroman (aka coming-of-age film). It was after all about a boy, Sanjay Lal Sharma (aka Sanju) that had seen just the rosy parts of life and how he was shaken into growing up and standing up for his brother, father and community.

In terms of a standalone film, JJWS had everything going for it – a compelling story that never gets old, a plot with enough ups and downs to keep you hooked, almost perfect casting (with dreamy-eyed small-town kids to the English-speaking expensive-blazer-totting flamboyant privileged kids to the simpleton, the common folks that you’d find in any small town in India to others), music that instantly becomes an earworm, characters that you want to root for (you want Sanju to do well and you want Shekhar to suffer) and a climax that literally forces you to get on your feet and clap out loud!

Even though the film is more than 30 years old and the last I saw it would have been a few years ago, the visuals are so fresh in my mind that I can recall the narrative with scary accuracy. I can reproduce shots as if I am staring at a photo grab from the film. I can relate to (and even empathise with) each action taken by each character in the film – even if the character existed in blank, white or grey. Back then when I was younger, I may not have been able to. But today I can.

I mean look at Ram Lal – the father of Ratan and Sanjay. By the day he is at the school and then whatever time is left, he runs Ram Lal’s cafe. While he holds no ambition of his own, his salvation is in providing for his two sons (one, the picture-perfect obedient and the other, picture-perfect petulant). He wants his son to win a bicycle race and come out on top as a champion. The real desire is not the success of his son but the chase of the glory of the days gone by and the satisfaction of having taken his revenge. He wants to live his life via his son. Even with his flaws, he makes personal sacrifices in the way he lives. He’s saving as much as he can and for that, he’s literally pinching pennies. If this is not how a father ought to be, I dont know what could one be. And despite the flaws, he is perfect and commands respect.

PS: Back then, I couldn’t identify with Ram Lal with as much nuance but thanks to SoG, I have been able to appreciate the limitation of us humans (in our ability to do things) and want of living the life you’ve wanted (and are unable to get) through the life of the ones around you. I understand the need of creating winners, even at a personal cost and the sacrifices you must make to even give these kids a shot at winning!

Look at Ratan. The elder brother. His sole reason for existence is to get his school and thus his father the glory they believed they deserve. He spends all his time, his entire life chasing that one dream. And just when he is almost there, he is left injured. To see the scenes unfold from the sidelines. The injury itself is a result of a freak accident triggered by a frivolous act by his yet-to-grow-up younger brother. And no, unlike the modern-day young people, he submits to fate and moves on. Unknown to him, he plays yet another important role in the film. Probably the most important role. That of the trigger, the inspiration, the reason for young Sanju to want to grow up.

Aamir Khan as Sanjay Lal Sharma aka Sanju

If Sanju became Sanjay Lal Sharma and lifted the trophy, it was not his hard work or dedication or anything. It was Ram Lal’s sacrifices and Ratan Lal’s inability. And no, I dont mean to take anything away from Sanjay. He has had his ups and downs but eventually delivers on his destiny.

Now Sanjay is a curious case. On one side he had his father, his brother, his sidekicks, and the never-leave-my-side love interest. On the other, he had a formidable adversary, tall odds stacked like a mountain and the weight of the monster of expectations on his back. He was bang in the middle and each time any of these moved, he was churned and polished. And oh boy, did he shine like a diamond?

What made the film even more special is those tiny moments that seem to mean nothing and yet added to the layers of the story. There is this scene when Shekhar and his flunkies are at Ram Lal’s Cafe and Ratan is forced to wait at them. There is this instance when Sanju is imagining Devika dancing on top of a car in her The-Woman-In-Red-ish dress. Anjali on the other hand is imaging herself when Sanju is air-kissing someone. Uff!

The music from the film is a tome in itself. An entire generation grew up proposing to their loved ones with Pehla Nasha. Yahan Ke Hum Sikandar made me want to be a part of a school of cool kids. Rooth Key Humse made me pine for a brother that I could be with (sorry SG2 :D). The track was used to break the monotony and showcase the growth of Sanju as a person. There were more tracks – each written, performed and shot as well as any other.

Since the film is from 30 years ago, I found the direction and camerawork dated. But the team got the art spot on. From the sets to the decor to the costume to even the side characters, everything was spot on. I mean look at this signboard for Ram Lal’s cafe.

Ram Lal’s Cafe

The green background and white, serifed text, in all caps is gorgeous. The apostrophe is missing. Maybe on purpose. The RC logo looks like something done in a small town. The blue and yellow shade is in contrast to the green board.

Look at those scarves that Anjali is using to tie her hair. Look at those simple tees and shirts that have their buttons open. The fence they are leaning on looks weathered and looks like something you would imagine at a cafe from the pre-Starbucks era! Each scene of the film seems to have been made with a lot of attention to detail. Exactly the kind of work I would want to do.

Let me talk about the story. You know how a film ought to follow a three acts structure where tension rises at each point. The protagonist needs to accomplish a hero’s journey. And all the while the story must be technically sound, it needs to keep people hooked. JJWS scores on all three counts. In fact, it does it so well that each incident can be plotted on the charts even by a novice writer like me!

In fact, as an aspiring filmmaker, I think this film deserves to be made into a mandatory study. As the film celebrates its 30th anniversary, I can only congratulate the filmmakers for a job done well and invite my younger friends to go see the film!

And as I end this, what do you think of the film? What are your favourite parts? What do you recall the most about it?

Lemme know!

[Rant] Action. Inaction. Keeping at it.

A quick note about life, sleep, Kabir, meaning, action and inaction.

I dont know what to write. I just feel like writing. So, I am going to randomly type and see what I end up creating.

Also, this has come out as a rant. You may not want to read this.

I started writing this at 9 PM last night. While thinking about what to write, I dozed off. I think it is because I hadn’t slept well the previous night. At the age I am at, I need my 8 hours of sleep at night. And I need 2 hours during the day. I think this is one of those side effects of age that I need to probably undo.

Anyhow. So, I am at the airport, waiting for a flight to go to Mumbai. From Delhi. Since August of last year, I have been spending time between Delhi and other places. However, my work, my heart, my soul is in Mumbai. Or maybe Goa. Or maybe at airports. But definitely not in Delhi. Even though Delhi is home, Delhi is where I grew up and I am still unable to take Delhi out of me. I mean the way I am sitting sprawling at a chair in the waiting area, I could only be from Delhi!

While in Mumbai, among other things, I hope to meet a few people. The top of that list is V, my agony aunt, mentor, friend, and I dont know what all. She has been a pillar of support since I can remember (actually since 2009). I wish I had more access to her. But then the good part is that I meet her after long gaps and she can point to me if I have changed – you know, put weight, got better with thinking, or if I am taking action.

Talking about action, here is a video (about inaction) that I just saw and it gave me goosebumps! You HAVE to see this. Here…

I think with each passing day I am getting clearer about how I want to spend my life. I am unable to articulate it well but it would be something like…

1. Do great things. You know, climb Mt. Everest, chase a billion dollars etc.

2. While doing those things, live with the highest level of integrity, action, kindness, gratitude, ambition, effort and more.

3. When I think I have reached a place where what I’ve done is inspiring for the world at large, go inspire others to chase their respective bliss. Whatever that may be.

So that.

Of course, along the way, I will have to figure out work (that pays me enough, allows me to pay my team enough, contribute to causes, like the Kabir‘s life and all that), deliver consistently (if we are not consistent, what are we even?) and keep at it. I mean some days are hard. H A R D. You are left questioning the very why of your existence. And you are this close to giving up that it’s a miracle that you are even breathing the next instant.

I think I am lucky that somehow I have not fallen down the Rabbit’s hole of inaction. Probably I have surrounded myself with people and media that move me and push me. And I have chosen to cut off from people that ask me to take it easy. And thus I am able to even get out of the bed!

Ok, I am getting ranty.

Moving on.

The point of this piece was, well, nothing. I just felt like writing. And I started this piece last night. And now that I had the time (as I waited for the flight), I thought I will finish writing it!

With this, over and out.

See you guys next time!

First published here.

In 2027

I future gaze and predict what I would’ve done by 2027. No, I am not giving a date. Just the year 2027.

Hola!

After I wrote the last post, the same lady that inspired me to write the last one, asked me to write another one. This time, gazing at the crystal ball and imaging what the next 5 years could be like. And what I would want them to be. So here, is an attempt at that.

Of course, this is like a wish list and I want to get to each of these things. As always, I am aiming very very high and I know I would miss these. But even I miss these, I would do better than what I am doing right now!

By 2027, I would have done the following for sure. These are my life goals, you know.

  1. Made an attempt to the summit. Hopefully, successfully.
  2. Made a billion dollars and used that money to inspire others.
  3. Fall in love. And live-in with that person. I would still be child-less (except M). Unless my partner wants one. Most probably I would not be living in India.
  4. Some of my kids would be millionaires and billionaires. If not all. This is the single most important goal that I want to chase in the next 5 years.

In terms of smaller, more tangible goals, here are the things that I would have achieved. I would’ve (in order of what I “want” right now)…

  1. Released at least one film (at least) that I would have written or produced or both.
  2. Been 30″ by waist at least once.
  3. Made it on the bestsellers list. Hopefully with book2, if not with book3 or 4 or whatever.
  4. Learnt how to become a human flag.
  5. Reached the final table of WSOP. Hopefully I would’ve got the bracelet.
  6. Bought a house. No, I dont think its a great investment. Just that I need a place to dump all the memories.
  7. Travelled to 50. My count as of today is some 40. I am not the one to do all countries. But there are a few that I want to travel to. For example, South America, Japan etc.

So that.

What about you?
What are your 2027 goals? You know, in 5 years?
Can I play some role in helping you reach those goals?

PS: I will use this post as a running one to talk about changes / achievements / failures and all that.

2017 vs 2022

A quick note on thoughts triggered by a tweet from a stranger. I end up comparing my 2022 with my 2017. Read on!

So, a few days ago, this tweet caught my eye!

V asked, “If you could press a button and wake up exactly where you were 5 years ago – losing everything that happened to you in the last 5 years, including the knowledge you gained – would you do it?”

While the poll format was easy to react to, the question triggered a lot of thoughts and I thought I will record a SoloCast on this. Or at the very least, write about it. I am not sure I have the time to record, edit, publish one but I can try and steal some minutes from a busy day to write about this.

And here we go!

PS: For the sake of this post, I will assume that COVID-19 did not happen. And that means I will not consider the second-order effects of getting caught in the pandemic.

So we are in 2022 and if I could go back 5 years, we would be in 2017. At that time I would have been 34-35. An age when all is not lost (you are still “far” from the old age of 40). And an age where you are still hopeful. And an age where what you’ve learned in the last three decades of your life seems usable. And an age that doesn’t come across as an outlier for a dreamer. And an age where my dreams of making a dent seemed plausible. And an age where the world had still not woken up to the wonders of decentralised “asset” classes like BTC (it was still breaching 10K).

When I evaluate life, I find that the constructs we have tend to fall short. There is no “model” of sorts that I can lean on to get an objective view. This chart below is the best I think in terms of helping get a grasp of things.

This chart is a simple one really. It makes you rate one area of your life on a scale of 10 and helps you make a spider chart of your life. And since a spider chart is very very visual, you get a good sense of how and where your life is stacked!

Ok. Lemme talk about each spoke. And talk about how it was in 2017, how it is now (in 2022) and if I would like to turn back time.

Let’s go!

A. Health. I would have been 35. That means I would have more time to get my Hernia fixed. I would probably have better teeth. I was still not bald. I think I was thinner as well. Plus I had the exuberance of youth. So that is nice. Healthwise, I think, I was far better off as a 35-year old!

Today I am frail at best. I am fat to a point that I dont like myself. I have shaved my head (which is not cool – you need to keep shaving all the time and that sucks).

So, in terms of health, I was better off in 2017 for sure.

B. Wealth. I dont recall (I did not keep a tab) but back then I would have had more than what I would have needed. I would have been living at Wadhwa (that means I was paying top dollar for a rental house) and would’ve had more modern comforts than I have had since.

Today I don’t have a house. I live with my parents as of today (come March I will have a rental house but today I dont have one).

So, in terms of money, I was better off in 2017.

C. FnF. I was living next door to M. And my sis and I were sharing a house. So that means I was in a good place with FnF.

Today while I live with my parents, I am neither emotionally nor spiritually connected to my family. Sad but that’s how it is.

So, again, 2017 was better.

D. Playtime. Oh, I played pool often with VG. I would meet friends around Powai. I would hang out with friends on their birthdays, I was definitely a lot less awkward than what I am right now.

So 2017 definitely was a better time!

E. Relationships. I think (not sure though) I was with a woman and I was fairly happy while I was with her. I was holidaying at fancy hotels, spending quality time, getting to know her, and in general having a good time. My friends adored her. I was loved by her people. Everything was nice.

Right now, I am in a complicated mess. Like a lot of people my age and my generation. So 2017 was better.

F. Career. In terms of tangibles, in 2017, I would have spent all of 2 years with C4E. I would have been in the hopeful stage where C4E seemed like the best idea since the beginning of time or sliced bread.

Today, 5 years on, C4E is probably the strongest we have been but we are nowhere close to where I wanted to take it. Agreed COVID played spoilsport but there are tons of businesses that mushroomed in the last 3 years. And mine is not one of those. So, I have sort of failed on this.

And thus, 2017 was better!

G. Personal Space. Since I lived in a fairly large house (it was a three-bedroom one), I had all the space. I was on the 24th floor. I had a hall which could fit in two houses! I was a master of my whims and I could do the house the way I want to (minimal etc).

Today I dont have a place to call my own. No, I’ve never owned a house per se but even a rental house is no longer around. And thus.

H. Contribution. I am not sure but I dont think I would have started investing in TRS, PPP or other ideas. However, I would definitely been the kind to give, support, share, mentor, even if I did not have enough. I refuse to believe that the way I live my life right now has happened overnight.

Today though my contribution is huge. In fact, if there is one facet that has worked REALLY well in the last 5 years, it is this ability to contribute to the success and peace and happiness and careers of a lot of people. Of course, the individuals had to work hard and all that, but I can say for sure that the trajectory of their lives is better because I was a part.

So, on this one, 2022 is better!


So, all in all, 2017 was definitely better compared to 2022. I can only hope 2027 is better as well. The funny thing though is that when I saw this tweet for the first time, I instinctively knew that 2017 would’ve been better. And now that I have done the analysis, I am appalled and amazed and how quick and how accurate my gut was!

Ok enough of gloating. Time to sleep. Over and out!

Untitled 12 Feb 2022

Random rant from a day when I am kind of mind-effed. If there is a word like that.

Trigger Warning. Please read ahead if and only if you can tolerate rant about life and death.

So I haven’t published anything on my blog in a while. I have had the reasons to and things to, but I did not. I dont know why. I am feeling chatty rn and I think I will try and do a brain dump, ideas vomit and all that.

These are no order. I am typing randomly.

ONE

So today I met this friend who recently lost a parent. I am socially inept and I dont know what to do what to talk what to say and what to not say in these situations. People moving on is messy. People going for good is another matter. I mean when someone moves out of your life (and it’s not new to me – I’ve had enough people walk out on, keep me on the edge, use me and all that), you know that you did all you could to keep them around (or should I say, hang around them as they did their thing) and there is that lingering hope that they’d come back. You know, hope being the best of thing and all that?

But when someone goes for good, I dont even know how people reconcile. I have been lucky that I haven’t had to face anyone leaving me for good. And that means that even though I am 40, I dont understand how to say goodbyes. My understanding of life has remained superficial at best. I have lived it at the surface level and I haven’t gone into any depths whatsoever. Wait. Why do you need these depths? Anyway, life is meaningless. No? Maybe, in the grand scheme of things. But to people that lose their loved ones, the ones that dont get closure, the ones that dont find a solution or an answer, maybe there is some purpose after all!

Thing is, I often tell people that are facing such life-altering events that I understand what they go thru, I even get by most times as I can fake well. But then once I’ve done that, I get mindfucked to a point that I dont know what to do!

The reasons for this mindfuckery are simple. Lemme try and write about those here.

A, I am amazed at the strength shown by these people. I dont think I would have it in me to face the world once I lose something, someone close.

B, When I fake, I tend to lose my energy. I never believed in this but as I grow older, I am seeing that things take away my energy (faking things, pushy people, unclean places, etc) and after a bout of exposure to these draining activities, I feel a massive drop in my mood. You know, mood swings? That! And how! So that!

C, I am a little scared that someday I will have to face things. You know, see a loved one go. Say goodbye for the last time. Probably not even say goodbye. Plus the biggest fear. What if I am the one that has to depart? No, I am not scared of death per se. Just that I am scared that I would not achieve what I always thought I was capable of. What I made people around me believe that I was capable of. If I die without fulfilling my destiny, it would be very very unfortunate. So that.

Ok that was about the mood-swing, mind-fuckery-inducing thing that happened. Onto the next thing that I have been thinking about.

TWO

In the last few days, I have had a million signs that I need to get my ass moving and work on #book2! I will talk about those here and the triggers I’ve been having in my head!

a. I am working on this short film that I am convinced that it works. And when I talk about it to people close to me, they come back to me with a retort that I need to consume content before I decide to make it. I mean, why? And because I dont look at things from the experience of other people, how does that mean I cant create my version of things?

I think the answer is, if I had created something that I could show off, that probably would’ve ensured that these questions about my knowledge are not asked! The world we live in gives more importance and

b. I was talking to another friend about another movie. While I said all the reviews are bad, she said, it’s easy to diss and impossible to create. And I was again left speechless. I spoke from the knowledge that the reviews gave me. Not from the lens of a creator! Again, I was reminded that it’s painful to be not a creator, in a world that celebrates creators even if what they create is crap. And yes, I am part of that word.

And I agree with Anton about critics! See this.

Anton Ego on Critics.

c. The visit today made me realise the shortness of life and my repeated attempts and failures. I thus need to move my backside. Pronto.

d. I am now surrounded by a few people that are writing like mad! On a day to day basis. And I owe it to them to write. I thus need to find a way to not disappoint them. So I must write. If not for myself, then for others.

e. Then, this uncalled for, unprompted tweet by another author made me realise that having some piece of work out there enables you to make new connections that you did not even know existed.

So yeah!

These two large things. I had to sort of vomit the thoughts out before I slept. And here it is. Lemme know what you think.

Over and out.

Dear Mohan,

An open letter to Mohan Bhargava, of Charanpur. Thanking him for being him. And inspiring me along the way.

Dear Mohan,

It’s been a few years now since I’ve come to know you. Our interactions started simple. You were yet another person whose story I would listen to, get awed by and then eventually forget. After all, there is way too much media that people my age consume.

But then there are a few stories that make a home in your subconscious. Even if you don’t want them to.

Your story, Mohan, is one of those. With time, I am forgetting the specifics, blame old age. But the broad strokes of who you are, what you stand for and what you mean have remained with me. In fact, I’d say it’s great that I am forgetting things. The parts that have remained with me are the ones that are probably the most important. Probably the ones that I relate to the most. Probably are the ones that I want to retain!

You know, when I was young, just out of business school, most of my thoughts, ideas and conversations were aimed at doing something large, something great, something out of the ordinary. Something that can make a dent. Something that makes me a lot of money. Something that can make lives better. Something that can inspire others. I knew I had the talent. I knew of my potential. And yet I didn’t do anything. I was often filled with rage about my inability to go beyond from where I was. While I did have the naive confidence that would’ve made me take a shot at the impossible, I missed the nudge, the push, the inspiration to ignite the spark that would turn into a wildfire.

I realise it now, while these thoughts, words, dreams were great, I missed the most important ingredient. Action.

Mohan, action is what sets you apart.

You took action. A large one at that. You quit the American dream at the pinnacle of your career. To come back to Charanpur and screw a light bulb. You were among the stars. Literally. And you were shining bright. Yet you bailed out. To try and crank a water turbine. And seek the glory under that feeble, dim sliver of the faint light of a simple bulb!

You dreamt the impossible. You acted on it. And delivered. And while you did that, you gave an entire village hope to rally behind you.

Like I said earlier, I have forgotten large parts of your story, your background, your life. And the parts I have retained are probably the ones that I want to. I can’t seem to forget your simple ways, your non-conformity and your attitude. And your actions. And your impact.

Mohan, you continue to inspire me to date.
And you mean a million things to me.
If not more. 

You to me, Mohan, are about…
– hope that I would come of age someday, even if I am 40 and past my prime.
– knowing that I am drifting and knowing that it’s ok to drift.
– and keeping faith that the drifting will end someday! Again, if I am past the age where you can contribute meaningfully.

You are also about…
– inspiring me to dream the impossible
– showing that it’s ok to lust for the impossible
– putting in motion the wheel that takes you closer to impossible
– and teaching how to move others to move their respective immovable and do the impossible.

You know, Mohan, you do this to me each time I think about you. You take me away from reality. And into this dreamy world where I start believing that I could be Mohan.

And no, I am not alone. You do this to countless others. You’ve planted the thought that there is life beyond a successful career. That you have a responsibility towards your elders that you discard behind as you pursue “success”. That you need to step out of your comfort zone, your cocoon, the palace of illusions you create around you. And dive headfirst into the world that may not offer you a grand pedestal that you’ve always wanted to stand on top of.

You are not just an inspiration. But a reference point. And a conversation starter. And a North Star that I look up to, often, to find my way each time I digress. Damn, you, Mohan! 

With a tiny bulb, Mohan, you’ve literally changed lives. And inspired people like me to work towards changing the world. To take life head-on. And become someone who does. And not just dreams.

Phw!

Guess this is about it.

Wish me luck and stay by my side. As I try and do things that you would approve of. And as I try to discover myself. And become me. And become Mohan.

And finally, thank you. For being who you are.

Saurabh Garg
20 Dec 2021
Mumbai, India


Notes

  1. An unedited first draft of this post is here.
  2. Other pieces that I’ve written about Mohan and Swades over the years are here and here.

Quarterly Update – JASON 2021

Saurabh Garg’s quarterly letter to friends, mentors, seniors, co-workers and others about how and what he did in the months gone by.

I send this letter to some of my mentors, friends, clients, and others that have shown a disproportionate interest in my life. The letter includes unfiltered, unedited, raw thoughts about life and work and all that. Even though I send a shorter version of this via email, here is the unabridged version for everyone on the world wide web to see and react to.

Hi! I am Saurabh Garg. You may remember me from conversations we’ve had over the years (or recently, in some cases). This is a quarterly-ish update about my life, to people like you that have shown an interest in my life. 

Here we go…

“Executive” Summary

For me, the months of JFM 2021 were a turnaround compared to how 2020 was. I got new work, moved back to Mumbai (from Goa), and tried to get more things done. Post that, AMJ 2021 was about consolidation. I finally got some cash flow going. And thanks to that, I hired some people across various projects that I support. I even started investing. And most importantly, I started saving.

JASON 2021, however, in one word, was disappointing. I could not sustain the momentum. I lost a few projects. More than the money, I lost face. And I lost my reputation. One of the projects overshot the budgeted estimate by 3X. I should have expected that considering that it was a film. But I did not. I started a syndicate to invest in startups, but I could not close any deal per se except making personal investments.

And now, I am back to a point where I am seeking work and taking whatever comes my way, even if it’s paying me peanuts and taking away my soul. It sucks, but I am grateful that I have work, even in this day and age.

And yes, I do have a few things in the good-things department. Allow me to talk about these in a bit.

Meanwhile, here’s a detailed update.

A. Losses / Shortcomings / Failures

This one is a long list. At least ten things on this one. Trying hard to make it shorter and save the face :D.

i. Work. At work, I took on a project that I thought knew I could deliver great things. But I could not. Despite all my earnest attempts, and it sucks that I failed at it. This is one of my most visible and public failures, and I have accepted it and decided to move on. The lesson I am taking away is that while I aim for the moon, I need to try and recognise things that are not moving and cut losses sooner.

ii. SoG Grant. Could not work on it. I could not issue it. Got busy. And once I had time, I did not have the money required to support the grantees. Will get to it at some point. The lesson I am taking away? Side projects need to be taken up one at a time. And once I commit to one, I need to allocate some budget to it and keep that money aside.

iii. LHV. Started with an angel investing syndicate with a couple of friends. Tried hard but could not get traction. I had overestimated my ability to get access to people that could invest in my decisions. While we could not raise the rounds required, we put our savings into the companies we were backing. So, the heart is at the right place. Just that I could not execute it well.

iv. Podcasting. I tried my hands at hosting a few more shows – one for investors, one for marketers, and another for people that I find interesting. I couldn’t get enough guests to be excited about any of these shows. Plus the handful that I could get, I don’t think the conversations were good enough. And then, since there was no traction per se, I lost interest.

I know that being an independent content creator is important to me. And yet, for some reason, I am unable to push the pedal on it. I think I suffer from imposter syndrome. I think I am not good, and I am constantly questioning why would someone listen to what I have to talk about. So that. I need to find a solution to this. The lesson I am taking away? None!

As against the planned goals for 2021 (listed here), I have missed almost all the goals. There are a few that I want to talk about. Just to remind myself that those are open. Here…

  1. Book2. I have been missing this for a long long time. While I know I want to tell this story, I haven’t been able to work on it. Life has kept me busy. Must work on it.
  2. Brand SG. I had decided to work on creating a personal brand for myself. However, I did not even begin to move the needle on this. This would’ve been the single most important thing that I would have worked on. In fact with each passing day I realise the importance of having a great personal brand. This is something that I will make a priority #in2022.
  3. Marathon / Fitness. This has been a goal since I can remember. And I am unable to move myself. Thing is, I can’t even walk a few steps without losing my breath. Plus the hernia. I don’t know when and how will I start on this! While I write this, I must mention that I could hike upto the Everest Base Camp (in Sep-Oct). And come back. Alive.

There is more. But this is it for the time being. Will do a longer review towards the end of the year.

B. Wins / Achievements

There were a few wins as well. Here are these.

i. Everest Base Camp Hike. Managed to hike up to the Everest Base Camp.

To me, this is the hardest and coolest thing I’ve ever done. I have posted some photos and stories on Instagram. If you are curious, do check those out. Come to think of it, I was very very sceptical about my ability to do it. But I did it! In fact, I did better than almost everyone that I went with. And one of the outcomes of this hike is that the resolve to do the Everest is now stronger. More on this in subsequent posts.

ii. The daily morning pages that I write? Well, I wrote those every day till I had to leave for EBC. A total of 280 days on the trot. I did not miss a single day. And I restarted as soon as I got back. Since then, I have moved these to email. Lemme know if you would want to get that email. To me, this simple act of doing this every day, even if I was busy, has been the most therapeutic thing ever.

iii. Co-produced yet another short film. This one should be ready for screening / sharing next month. The path we take would be the same as the last one – start with festivals and then try and get it a home at some OTT platform.

Again, the bulk of the work was done by my partner, and I merely financed it. The ambition is that at some point, I will be able to make commercial, large-scale films. These are baby steps to learn, experiment, and get my name out in the market.

iv. Brand workshop for a startup. I ran a brand workshop for a startup. I loved it! More than anything, I love it the most when I work with people to discover things that even they seem to be unaware of. You know, unknown self! I must find a way to do more of these.

So that.
There are some other minor achievements as well.
I shall skip writing about those.

Moving on to the next section. About the shiny new toys that I am excited about.

C. New projects that I am excited about?

So I have just the December to go before 2021 ends. 1 month may not be enough to do a lot of things but here are a few that I want to work on.

i. Lose 2 inches. Right now, I am 35″. I would like to be 33″ at least. For this, I would want to reduce what I eat, get on a lo-carb bandwagon and try and do OMAD. Let’s see how this goes.

ii. Book2. Lol! I plan to take this as the only non-money-making thing I’d do from December onward.

D. What help do I need?

So, there are a few things that I need help with. Here’s a list.

i. Connect me with the biggest hustler you know of. This has been an ask since I have started working on these letters. I define these hustlers as people that are out there. And they are seeking work, doing things that are out of their league, making connections, aiming higher than they’ve ever done, and more. I want to learn from them. And I want to be inspired by them and their stories.

So, please connect.

ii. Keep me away from Naukri. Thing is, since I can remember, I have wanted to stay away from Naukri. And I have pretty much managed to. For that, I have had to juggle as many things as I can. However, this time, I am this close to giving up and taking up a Naukri. I do make enough to get by, but I put in too much effort for too little ROI, and I can’t seem to see the light at the end of the tunnel.

So, please help me get “meaningful” work and stay away from Naukri! PLEASE!

In terms of what I can do, in the past, I have worked on producing large-scale events, crafting brand strategy, consulting on digital marketing, ghostwriting, content strategy, and more. I know this sounds scattered but I do have the requisite expertise and demonstrable experience for each. And client references. Both good and bad.

Help me find gigs (freelance only, please) with businesses doing interesting, exciting and impactful things. I want to stay away from the run-of-the-mill stuff, please. 

iii. I want to work with a billionaire. Do you know a dollar billionaire that I could work with? I really really want to work with one. In fact, I am willing to give up on the no-Naukri promise if I get to work with one. I am also willing to give up to 5 years of my life and work on their agenda with as much dedication as you may imagine me to have.

Do you know one?
Can you make connections?
HELP!!!

E. Finally, what can I help you with?

If there is anything that I can help you with, please do let me know. In terms of specifics, there are two things that I can think of.

i. Connecting with others. I believe I have a wide network, and I can find connections where you’d assume they dont exist. In one word, I am a super-connector. I am shameless, and I can knock on the doors and try to open those. For you. To be able to be of help to you. Please let me know in case I could be of use 🙂

ii. I am very resourceful. Plus, I am very handy with marketing, content, writing, the Internet, futurism, emerging technology, and more. If you are stuck on some project, some idea, something, please reach out to me. I would love to be of any assistance / help / inputs / use to you.

***

Guess this is about it from this update.

See you in Jan 2022 with an update on how 2021 was, the plan for 2022, and may be more.

Thank you so much for reading this.
And your patronage and attention.
Means a lot!

Gratitude and respect,
@saurabh
Delhi, 30 Nov 2021

PS: Should you want to give me anonymous feedback on this email (or anything else), please go to https://forms.gle/28bVP8DYz2WGdHdp8. And yes, I LOVE not-so-kind, brutal, and honest feedback.

Here are previous updates from me…
2021 – Annual Goals, Jan-Feb-Mar, Apr-May-Jun, Jul-Aug-Sep-Oct-Nov
2020 – Annual GoalsJanFeb-MarApr-MayJun-Jul-Aug
2019 – AugSepOctNovDec