33rd day of 30 days of writing challenge

Commentary on the 30 days of writing everyday challenge that I took in Nov 2020. I reflect on the experience and I talk about what next for me.

Time flies. And how.

I did not realize when these 30 days that I was supposed to write for every day got over. I started on the 30th of Oct and published 23 posts (including this over) over the last 33 days.

Like most projects, the first few days were exciting. The next few, drab. And the last few, a pain. As I end this project today, it’s time to reflect, catalog some thoughts, gather some ideas and move on.

Here we go.

The Project

I’ve always known the importance of writing well. And one of the key components of writing well is to write often. It is exactly like building muscle, running, or meditation. You cant reap benefits if you do 24-hour sprints. You have to do it every day. Slowly, deliberately and with intention. As Will Smith calls it, brick by brick.

The idea of this project was to develop a deliberate, regular writing habit. Stack them bricks. On that count, I think I did ok. That was the primary benefit I was seeking. So, Check!

The secondary benefit I wanted was to get active on this domain (saurabhgarg.com). I have my content scattered all over the internet and if I were to point people at one direction, I don’t think I’d be able to. Plus, increasingly, our personal brands are getting more and more important and thus it was imperative to create a homepage for self. I am not sure if I’ve met that objective. So, half-check.

Finally, I wanted people to read what I write, send me feedback, and help me get better. Even though I wrote a lot, I haven’t been able to get that. So, fail.

While I can end the post here, I do want to take the opportunity to talk more about the project and a few things that I am taking away.

A. On Writing

I have been writing and publishing my thoughts online since 2004 (on my personal blog) and it has helped me in numerous ways. I have made friends. I have learned new things. It lead me to a book! It has allowed me to expand my world. It has opened new work opportunities.

However, it has remained a mere hobby that I have been damn serious about. Also, I think writing keeps me sane. Writing allows me to feel that I have someone to talk to (#foreverAlone). It gives me that voice that I think is getting heard by someone, even strangers, in this world full of cacophony. Even if no one is responding to what I write. I write for the sake of writing. And then everything else (connections, lessons, opportunities, etc) is like a cherry on the cake. You know what would be the icing on top of the cherry on top of the cake? Ability to make a sustainable and lavish living with what I write! In fact, I’ve thought often about pivoting to becoming a full-time writer but it has remained a thought at best.

Three reasons.

  1. I am harsh af on myself. And I know it. To a point that I am critical. If I were my own mentor, I would have broken down. That bad. And that means even if I write a line that I think is as good as the worst that Bukowski wrote, I would consider mine as pathetic. So I am not sure if I can deliver. And thus, I am not active about seeking writing opportunities.
  2. I am not consistent. I have these bursts of creativity where I am freakishly productive and I can push out a tome in minutes. Words flow like tears flow in saas-bahu serials. Ideas are aplenty. Fingers fly on the keyboard to a point of producing literal sparks. And then there are days, even weeks when I just want to disappear under a rajai and not come out. Everything looks dreary. Dark clouds don’t seem to dispel. I think most artists suffer from such bouts and fluctuations (taking the liberty of comparing myself to an artist). And I don’t know a solution. The only advice I give myself at such moments is that old adage from Fitzgerald I think – live a rich life when not writing and retreat into a boring world when you write about that rich life.
  3. I never had the luxury to take long breaks to write. I’ve had to run my house. Luckily I do not have a lot of responsibilities but I do not have a freewheeling life either. Writing, thus, has always been the second or even third thing I’d do. Even these 30 days that I wrote, I would steal time after the day’s chores were done. PS: The lockdown did give me an opportunity to write. And I tried to be honest. But I could not sustain. I have nothing to blame but my laziness. So that.

While I know of these three issues and trust me when I say this, I have tried to fix these, I haven’t been able to. If you know of a way out, please do let me know.

Oh, I must mention that I believe writing can help me reach one of my #sgLifeGoals of impacting a billion lives. And this also fuels the on and off seriousness about writing. Every time I slack, I pick it up thinking writing is my shot at changing the world.

B. Traffic / Quality of writing

Like I said I have not been able to grow my audience, lemme talk more about it.

The dismal traffic on the website, despite my attempts at marketing it, tells me that either people are not keen on reading what I write or I am lousy at marketing. Lemme give numbers.

As of writing this, I have had 158 unique visitors and 600 odd page views to the website (as per Google Search console). One of these 158 is me. The second is Arti (I’ll talk about her towards the end of this post). And then there are 156 other people. And if I were to do simple maths, on simple average, it translates into 5 new users per post and 4 page views per reader. That means even the ones that read a post or two do not come back. So, dismal.

Lemme decode this.

Of course, I don’t want to be harsh on myself and I believe I am good at marketing. So, it has to be the quality of content.

This means that if I want to make a living off what I write, I need to get better. This also means that if writing has to be the tool that I use to make an impact in the world, I am failing at it. And bad. And I need to get better. And I do the word required. I read advice on writing. I practice it often enough (guess need to be more “often” with it). I follow other writers that are as widely read as the ones that wrote Geeta, Bible et al. I feel I am fairly deep with my ideas and I can explain those well to even a six-year-old. I write from the heart and I am probably as authentic as Corona beer is. I even publish often and I try to market what I write!

But, it’s not happening. I am not reaching more people. I am not expanding my world. Maybe I am in the second year of the 10-12 years it takes to be an overnight success? Maybe I am in the ninth. Who knows.

Or maybe, just maybe, Google is wrong?

C. Write AND publish thrice a week (and not daily)

Howsoever hard I may try, with all the things I do, I realized it’s impossible for me to write every day. But did manage 23 posts in 33 days. This tells me that I can definitely pull off writing every alternate day.

So when I start the next series of posts, I would aim for a 3-times-a-week cadence. I would try to better it but the thrice a week would be the bare minimum I’d want.

Oh, when I say write thrice a week, I mean I would publish thrice a week. I AM, I WAS and I WILL write every day. It could be a tiny scribble that gets lost in between the pages of notepads or it could be 2000-word posts. But I write every day. It’s the publishing that I am talking about here.

D. Acknowledgments

Oh, I can not end this post without thanking Arti. One, for painstakingly checking each post for typos. I don’t think in all the posts that I wrote, there was even one where she did not find a typo. She’s got that keen an eye. Second, the days that I did not send her the draft, she would pester me to write. Often there have been days when I wrote just because I did not want to disappoint her. I need more Artis in my life. Three, she did all this without expecting any remuneration or credits. I am not sure such selfless, such good people exist.

So yeah, thanks, Arti!

You’re awesome. The world needs more people like you. Dare you to find a typo in this one!

Other people that I have to mention here are Prakruti, Pradeep, and Suresh. For being the bouncing boards and constant encouragement nagging!

Honorary mention to the entire LFW Gang for reading and feedback.


And with that, its over and out from this one. I will be back with the next project soon. Till then, do let me know how I can improve my work. And do follow me on Twitter 😀

Over and out!

Review – Durgamati (2020)

A short review of an upcoming Amazon Prime film, Durgamati. The film starring Bhoomi Pednekar in the lead role is set to release on the 11th of Dec.

I normally don’t do pop-culture-y time-bound things but over at TheRedSparrow.in (one of the things I helped start), they were talking about the upcoming film Durgamati and thus I got curious and I went ahead to write it. This is a new thing. Lemme know what you think.

Every big-budget film demands the writer to pen a plotline that is so convoluted that you need a Sherlock to unravel it. And yet you want it to be so mass-y that even a 6-year-old relates to it. After all, big monies come to the producers when the film does well in the multiplexes and the single-screen cinemas. I suspect that is what the writer-director Ashok was attempting with Durgamati as he remakes his super hit Telugu movie, Bhaagamathie (2018) in Hindi. 

The story of Durgamati

The story is of two political rivals that are at loggerheads over pretty much everything. The one in power wants to pin the blame on the one competing against him (Ishwar Prasad, played by Arshad Warsi). Since he has the judicial and political machinery working for him, it is easy. So Rawat (played by Jishnu Sengupta) and Mahie Gill (her character’s name is not clear in the trailer) plot against Prasad. They try to manipulate Chanchal Chauhan (played by Bhoomi Pednekar), an old accomplice of Prasad, into conspiring against him. Chanchan is in prison because she was caught murdering a man in broad daylight.  

They put her in the holding at the Durgamati Haveli, which is apparently haunted. Mahie Gill coerces Chanchan by offering her freedom if she agrees to rat against Ishwar. Chanchan of course refuses. 

And thus starts the story of Durgamati. And the Haveli. And the film. 

What works for me? What does not?

What stands out for me, even though I first saw the trailer on the tiny screen of an iPhone X is the lavish, grand sets and impeccable CG. The cinematography by Kuldeep Mamania is brilliant. Mamania was a camera person in the critical and commercial hit Tumbaad (2018) as well. Even though the standards of visuals (a marriage of art direction, costumes, camera, and of course direction) in India have been raised to the Hollywood-ish levels in recent years, this one is still among the best I’ve seen. The shots look grand, crisp, and make me want to actually navigate the Durgamati Haveli in real life! 

I have to give a special mention to the art direction. The details are, well, detailed! I mean look at this shot. What do you think those windows at the back look like to you? 

Screengrab from the trailer of Durgamati.

As a big fan of Mahie Gill’s work in Saheb Biwi Aur Gangster (2011), Dev D (2009), and Gulaal (2009), I expected a lot more from her. She looks unconvincing as a cop. I do hope that in the film she is more powerful. 

Arshad Warsi, again, to me looks unconvincing as a politician. I half expect him to break into a joke with every line he delivers.

Bhoomi Pednekar as the lead has done a decent job with the acting. When I see getting dragged for the interrogation, I see her plight. When she becomes the all-powerful Durgamati, I feel her power. However, the couple of dialogues that she has in the trailer, they lack any punch.

Also, for some reason, while I was watching it, I could not stop drawing comparisons with Vidya Balan in Priyadarshan’s Bhool Bhulaiyaa (2017), which itself was a remake of a Malayalam film. The mood, the costumes, the music, the frames reminded me of the film that was released 13 years ago. But then maybe it’s just me – an old, self-confessed discerning cinephile. 

I am told that the Telugu film was a phenomenon! However, I have not seen the Telugu film and thus can’t really draw parallels. What I do know is that as a standalone piece of work, I may not be too keen to watch Durgamati in the cinemas even though it promises to be a cinematic treat.

But hey, there are no cinemas and with it streaming on Amazon Prime, I might as well! 

What do you think of the trailer? 

PS: Like with all reviews that I post, I wish to draw your attention to this speech by Anton Ego.


This is part of 30 minutes of writing everyday challenge. Others in the series are at 3010, 3110, 0111, 0211, 0311, 0411, 0511, 0611, 0911, 1011, 1211, 1311, 1411, 1511, 1611, 1711, 1811, 1911, 2011, 2311, 2611.

Coming of Age

Back after 2 days. I read somewhere that when you are trying to build a habit, it’s cool to miss things for a day once in a while. The odds of you coming back are about 70%. If you however miss what you are doing two days in a row, the odds of you picking it up again drops down to low double digits. And if you miss three days in a row, the odds are less than 5% that you would pick the habit again. So, here I am. Not missing the third day.

When I say “Coming of Age”, I do not mean Bildungsroman (the German word that doesn’t really have an equivalent in other languages, but is applied to a young adult and means something like growing up). The word merits an entire book to be honest. May be at some other time. Today I want to talk about some other coming of age.

The coming of old age.

A rant about how age is creeping up on me and rendering me useless to function in the society that I need to be young and fast to operate in.

Once upon a time…

I remember there was a time when I could pull all-nighters for like 3 days nights on the trot. Without any fancy coffee, tea. May be I’d have a Red Bull but I don’t think I had the money those days to buy Red Bull. That’s not the point. The point is that I could stay awake for more than 3 days and yet no bat an eyelid. And function at more than my optimal. I was like Popeye with Spinach running through his veins, a car on Nitro boost, Bradley Cooper on NZT-48 in Limitless.

To a point that people would ask me if I was ODing and abusing substances.

However…

With time, I have seen this ability to stay up gradually diminish.

From uncountable streaks of these three-day don’t-sleep and crank-out-things fests to now a time when I cant get by even if I stay up beyond 8 PM. Take yesterday for an example. It sucks that age is creeping up on me like that.

Source: pa3kc on DeviantArt

Mind you, this ability did not go poof like that one fine day. It crept away from me. Like you know you have this house (imagine Carl and Ellie’s house in Up) tied to a million Helium air balloons. And as it goes up, the balloons start popping out and the house can no longer continue going up. In fact, the weight in the house starts to drag it back.

That is how I feel!

With each passing day the body seems to be weathering more and more and the ability to recover seems to be reducing more and more.

In the end…

As I write this, it’s 4:06 PM. I have just woken after an afternoon siesta. I did not really want to sleep in the afternoon. I just could not continue to stay up because I had to pull an all-nighter for a project that I was working on.

I need to go stretch my rickety old back and lie down on a hard surface till I feel like a human again.

That’s about it. That’s the post.

Oh, and, FUCK YOU, OLD AGE!


This is part of 30 minutes of writing everyday challenge. Others in the series are at 3010, 3110, 0111, 0211, 0311, 0411, 0511, 0611, 0911, 1011, 1211, 1311, 1411, 1511, 1611, 1711, 1811, 1911, 2011, 2311.

The Small Space Situation

I was talking to my sis yesterday about something and an epiphany happened. I realized that the reason I don’t like to be in Delhi is, because I don’t have enough space here.

Lemme elaborate.

In terms of actual physical space, the house (the only home I’ve ever known) is spacious by all means, even lavish if I were to compare it to the Mumbai houses I’ve lived in. Plus since this home was built by my parents one thing at a time (they are from a time where you waited years before you could add another thing to your home; unlike our and the next generation where you just flash your plastic and you get free shipping), the house is full of utilitarian things that you would find in any house that’s been, well, well-lived (compared to the almost spartan houses that I am used to living in when I am in Mumbai). You name a thing and we have it at home. And it’s all hidden from plain sight. You ask your parents for the most obscure of things and it magically appears from one of the drawers or cabinets or shelves! I am sure they’ve hidden some airplane somewhere in one of those spaces that are inside those double-beds. Ah, the beds here are at least 6′ x 6′, unlike the beds in Mumbai that are smaller than the suitcase I carry when I travel abroad.

The thing that is lacking here is personal space. We live in a decent-sized house and there’s just my parents and I and while they are very very supportive and understanding and caring, they are like me.

Wait! They are not like me. I am like them! Sorry, ma, pa.

So, I am like them and just like them, I need a lot of personal space to even breathe. And since there are three of us that need large personal space, we often find ourselves jostling for it!

However, when I am in Mumbai, I am by myself and even though the houses are like cubbyholes, there’s nothing alive that can potentially encroach upon my personal space. I can play whatever music I want to at whatever volume I fancy. I can keep it as dirty as my laziness permits. Or as spic and span as my old age wants. I could have the walls bare. Or I could paint it with sticky notes where I scribble about my dreams and ideas and aspirations and thoughts and inspirations and so on and so forth.

Plus, when am in Delhi, there is a limit to what I can do (things like going out and coming back at a whim). My parents don’t really mind me doing anything, to be honest, but for some reason, I don’t want to do things that I feel will even remotely bring them inconvenience. And thus, I put shackles on how I live when I am here. And I reduce my space even more. In Mumbai, well, the only person that I have to look after, think about, is me! And that means I do things that minimize the grief that I need to go through. And since I am thinking about just myself, it’s simpler, easier, and faster.

So yeah. That. Personal Space. Or the lack thereof.

The solution?

Make enough money to be able to create an Antilla. Or maybe get an entire Island. And if not even that, live alone!

Over and out.


This is part of 30 minutes of writing everyday challenge. Missed the post yesterday. Back to writing today. Others in the series are at 3010, 3110, 0111, 0211, 0311, 0411, 0511, 0611, 0911, 1011, 1211, 1311, 1411, 1511, 1611, 1711, 1811, 1911, 2011, 2111.

Tales of Troubles with Technology

Super ranty post ahead. Read at peril.

I missed the post yesterday. No, I did not have anything specific to write about. That’s a problem that’s solved easily – I now have a couple of friends that give me prompts. The larger challenge was that I broke the screen of the laptop that I use. And even when I tried to connect it to a television to try and get some work done, I could simply do nothing on it! More than the post, I missed a couple of deadlines and that is a larger problem IMHO.

Yes, 2020 is being a bitch. Like it is being to everyone.

In my case, I think I am the favorite child. I broke my iPhone screen the day the lockdown was announced. I had to wait for a few weeks before things could move and I could get the phone repaired after a few weeks. And then, I broke it again. I am sick and tired of dropping it so many times. I am not even trying to get it repaired anymore.

Coming to the laptop.

The laptop snafu is not new either. First, the laptop charger stopped working. I don’t know why or how. May be it was too old? I have had this charger for almost 5 years now. So, I had to get a replacement charger. Then, after a few days, the motherboard crashed. Again, I had to get it repaired. And each of these took time. I mean, you order a charger from the nearest store. It comes after a day or two. Repair normally takes anywhere between 1-3 days, after you identify a reliable person that would not fuck with your data.

And yesterday, in Delhi, the screen broke. Here… this is how it looked like. The blurs on the edges are to hide the embarrassing filenames I have for my work. The wallpaper is of Steve. In case.

The broken screen. Sigh.

I did get it repaired today. But not before I lost face with two clients and the two deadlines that I had. And I will have to work extra hard over the next 24 hours to first deliver on the work I had promised to deliver yesterday. And then catch-up on what was planned for Sunday (and was to be delivered on Monday).

Damn!

No, not the work. I am ok with work. I actually would not know what to do if I could not work. The shitty part is losing face. I can not afford to lose it!

I think I need to go get checked for the saadhe saati of Shani or something. There is no way it is not upon me. I mean can not think of anyone that’s been having so much trouble with simple things like computers and all. Plus, these devices are all Apple and that means they are WAY too expensive to either replace. Or even get repaired.

It’s so mind-fuckery-inducing that you are left laughing! Universe, get your fucking act together, bro!

And with that, it’s over and out for the night. Have a lot to do.


This is part of 30 minutes of writing everyday challenge. I missed yesterday’s post. Others in the series are at 3010, 3110, 0111, 0211, 0311, 0411, 0511, 0611, 0911, 1011, 1211, 1311, 1411, 1511, 1611, 1711, 1811, 1911.

Rendezvous with Random Strangers

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

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

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

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


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

Here we go.

A. Luck = Opportunity + Preparation.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

B. The Cocoon.

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

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

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

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

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

C. Thick and limited. Loose and infinite.

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

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

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

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

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

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

So, thick ones are convenient.

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

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

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

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

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

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

The keyword in this part is most. Not all.


So yeah. That’s it.

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

Do let me know what you think of this.

Over and out.

The time right now is 0045 AM. Phew!

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

The Coffee Jitters

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

And what do you do next?

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

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

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

The Queen’s Gambit

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

The 3D Chess

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

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

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

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

Mumbai life. In Delhi.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

With this, over and out!

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

Dilli Ki Sardi!

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

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

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

a. The grey winter skies

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

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

b. The nip in the air

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

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

Nip in the air in Mumbai? Lol!

c. Momos!

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

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

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

d. The dhoop and chaon

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

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

e. Rajai

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

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

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

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


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

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