251220 – Morning Pages

There’s nothing specific that I talk about in this one. Except for ranting about a few inane things. You may skip reading this one.

7:41 AM

The promise I made yesterday? About eating better and all that? Well, here’s a report on what all I had yesterday.
A sandwich
A green salad (yay!)
4 black coffees
2 Diet Cokes
2 large servings of Hummus, one with some veggies and some roti
1 medium pizza

I guess I did ok.

BULL SHIT!

Plus, as I write this, I have this lingering headache and my body does not seem to be moving. I guess this is what a hangover feels like. No no, I haven’t had alcohol in a while, except rubbing it on my hands. But everything is sore. Am I catching colf?

So anyhow.

Continuing for the day. I want to spend today planning and plotting for 2021. I am big on these yearly plans and I spend a lot of time doing these yearly planning exercises. Here is the plan I made for 2020 (and for 2019, 2018 and 2017).

Most years I tend to make decisions on the basis of these plans. And every year since I started doing these, I have sort of failed to achieveve things that I have listed in these plans. I aim so high so high that even if I get to a fraction of a percentage of these, I am happy. This time around it would be the same. I would So that’s on agenda for the day.

Ok. What else to talk about?

I got myself a hair cut yesterday. I mean the amount of hair I have, it was more of a shave than a cut. I entered a salon after I think 10 months and I quite enjoyed the experience. Each thing reinforces that I am not meant for a life where I do things by myself. I am more of asking others to do things. Even if they are personal ones.

I can see Goa getting crowded. There was a traffic jam on the road yesterday. The kinds that you normally associate with Goa’s most populous street (Tito’s Lane). While I enjoyed the melee, I was also worried about COVID. I now have had way too many close ones that have suffered and recovered. And some haven’t. And it doesn’t seem to be going away. And it’s impacting the work I do and the money I make and how I live. I was talking to a senior from MDI yesterday and I realized that I miss all the travel that I was forced to when I ran those events. I like being in new places, seeing new things, experiencing new things. One way to think about it is that I chase the new. The other way to talk about the same thing is that I don’t want to think about things deeply and thus I continue to chase newer experiences and get buried in novelty.

Oh, the food bit I talked about? I will try to get into OMAD today. I do have a Christmas dinner that I have been invited to by Nupura and friends. I am half tempted to not go there – for some reason, not in the mood to socialize. I tried a bit of it last night and I failed miserably at it. I am inept at holding conversations with or the attention of strangers. The other half is imploring me to go meet new people. I am on the fence about it. Let’s see. I shall come back tomorrow and report.

With that, over and out.


PS: This one was a struggle to write.

PPS: While editing this, I realized that this post is so inane, so useless, so mundane, so meaningless that no one would probably want to read this. Not even the ones that I send these updates to on a daily basis.

The idea of writing this was to get into the habit of writing three pages of text first thing in the morning. This was supposed to help creativity. I am not sure if this has been of any help so far. But I do know that I am writing regularly. At least for 10-12 days now. That in itself is a big win!

What was supposed to be an unfiltered stream of thoughts has sort of become a journal where I write what comes to my head. Of course, even though this is in the public domain, I redact personally identifiable information wherever I think I need to. Apart from that, I have started to sort of “live in public”. Similar to the building in public movement, I think living in public is a good thing. It will keep me accountable and grounded.

So, I may have digressed from what JC wanted me to do. But I am not complaining. The idea is to find my own rhythm, my own style, my own way of working.

So, while I am at it, there are a few ways to go from here on.

A, I can stop sending this to people. And send only the ones where I have something significant to say.

B, Continue sending these. And expand the set of people that I send these to. People that I think care about me but I don’t get to talk on a daily basis, you know, say Vanita. I can ask those people if they would want to read a daily update from me even if they are as inane as this one. This way, I can stay in touch with people?

In fact, since I have been working on that autobiography, I am learning that what probably matters at the end of life is the relationships that you create. Everything else is a byproduct. This is a far cry from what I would think in terms of spreading impact and cheer at scale. I must say, I am not sure yet. The thesis is still nascent.

C, Or may be a weekly round-up of what I’ve done in the week? That could go to these people that care?

Also, I could make this an opt-in thing, like a newsletter. But with my experience of newsletters that get delivered on emails, hardly anyone reads those. Even if they are from Bill Gates. So, it has to be delivered over WA and that too to people that really want to read.

D, Any other ideas?

So that.

What do you think? Should I send these mundane updates to people that I think love me? Help me decide? I am a message away.

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!

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.

Day 6 – I don’t know what to write about…

A journal of sorts of how I spent my day on the 4th of Nov 2020.

But I will.

After all, I am on this trip where I am hoping to write every day for 30 days for 30 minutes. Today’s the 6th day. On the trot. Yay!

As the entire world awaits the outcome of the US elections with bated breath, here I am, in a corner of Mumbai, thinking about what to write about. While I do have a million things on my mind and I could write about those, there’s no one thing that’s popping in my head as a clear leader.

So, in absence of anything specific to write about, I will just do a recap of sorts for the day.

9 AM

I started my day with a meeting that got canceled. I was up all night, last night preparing for this meeting!

The spare time I had, I used that to speak to one of the people I talked about in yesterday’s post. I sort of “coached” him on productivity and gave him simple tips about how to do things better. The biggest tip I gave him was Paul Graham’s Maker Day and Manager Day. In case you don’t know about it, go read it. It’s worth its weight in gold!

10 AM

The other big thing that happened today is that a friend connected me with one of his friends and wants me to give gyaan on effective notes. Notes is another thing that happened to me just because I wrote a post about it. The post went to a lot of people and some of those implored me to “teach” them the methods. And when I did talk to them about the methods, they seemed to enjoy it!

So, a clear case of how the work you do in public has unintended consequences! The lesson for you? Do more public work!

1 PM

Next, I met a friend for a coffee (and I had green tea) and he gave me dope about, well, me!

He told me things about me that I could not see and yet everyone around me could! You know, things that you don’t know that you don’t know?

If I talk from the lens of Johari Window, he showed me my Blind Area.

It was quite a revelation. He actually pointed out things that I was clearly unaware of. And these things are deterrents, to say the least. And I need to clearly work on those. I also need to clearly work on not using the same word in three consecutive sentences.

10 PM

Lastly, I just finished a meeting with my writing group. We met via Twitter and we try to help each other with writing.

In fact, this series of posts is actually an outcome of an idea that someone threw at me in the group. No, my notes don’t have that person’s name. Good that I don’t. The kind of writing that am creating, I am so embarrassed!

1137 PM

So yeah, I think this is it for the day.

Again, this is not one of the best posts I’ve written. But I wanted to get the words out of my system. And I wanted to write for 30 minutes. I think with this summary, I’ve done both. And that means, its an over and out from me.

Take care!

This is part of the ’30 posts in 30 days’ project. This was Day 6. Other posts are at 3010311001110211, 0311