Research for #book2, meeting with artists in Goa

As I research about characters and the plot for my next book, here’s an invitation (and a request for help) to the artsy folks based in Goa.

Hello!

So I am Saurabh Garg. More about me is on this page.

For this post, the relevant introduction would be that I wrote my first book, The Nidhi Kapoor Story (#tnks) in 2014. It is contemporary crime fiction, a whodunnit where a Bollywood actress, Nidhi Kapoor, is being tormented by a mystery stalker. There’s a cop, Prakash Mohile, that’s trying to solve the case. And there is this third character, Rujuta Singh, doing a photo-essay on Mumbai police and is tailing Prakash as he tries to solve the Nidhi Kapoor case.

The book was essentially an exploration of Panch Dosha (five universal afflictions that humans suffer from). More about the book is on www.tnks.in.

The Next Book, Caravan Serai

These days, I am working on my next book, tentatively titled The Caravan Serai. This one again is a crime-fiction and again has roots in a fundamental, philosophical human truth. This time, of the Navarasas.

There are 9 characters, each inspired by one of the Rasas and there are three parallel stories. Each character has an artistic bent (between the characters, I have a painter, a sculptor, a writer, a music composer, a filmmaker, etc.).

The parallel stories happen in 1600s, 1980s, and 2010. Each of the 9 characters is interlinked, even intertwined with each other, and has seeds planted across the timelines. Think hyperlink cinema. Oh, and each character has a coming of age story.

Binding all these is a treasure hunt, a land dispute and a murderer on prowl.

I know this is a lot and I know this may never see the light of the day (I have been trying to write this since 2014) but now that I am in Goa for a few days, why not start?

So here I am!

What do I need from artists in Goa?

Truth be told, I don’t know where to start. I don’t have a questionnaire per se. I just need to talk to people that call Goa home. People that are artistically inclined. You could be a writer, a singer, a painter, heck, even an Instagram influencer!

I want to talk to you and pick your brains about what makes you who you are. Why do you do the things you do. You know, get to know you and your work. Get to understand what ticks you. Get inspired by it. Get to know about your interesting life. And then write about it in my book. Make you the muse, if you will.

So yeah, that.

I like open-ended, meandering, flowing conversations. Think of me as your alter-ego as you talk to yourself about things that you talk to anyone freely about. Think of me as the fly on the wall as you ramble. Think of me as the voice in your head that you jam with as you go on a longish walk next to a flowy river.

In case you want, I can feed you with thought-starters. I can give you prompts. Here are some questions…

  • What makes a person quit everything and move to Goa and start chasing a vocation that does not guarantee success?
  • What are the greatest fears?
  • What inspires you?
  • What are some great misconceptions that the world has about artists?
  • Are all artists promiscuous?
  • Why do people think that all inspiration comes from drugs?
  • How do other artists help you with what you working on?
  • What about money?
  • What do you struggle with as an artist?

This is of course an indicative list. And by no means exhaustive. I just want to jam and learn.

So yeah. That. I guess you’ve got the drift.

What can I offer in return?

Definitely not money.

I know how this works. I am one. If I asked you to create something for me, I would pay. Right now, I am not expecting you to. All I want is about an hour of your time. And I am, of course, happy to pay for the coffee, beer, Gin etc.

Credit, if you’d like in the book. May even call the character with your name. And yes, I can keep whatever we talk confidential.

Oh, and in case you need some inputs on marketing, content, communication, etc. I am happy to volunteer my time for that. See my Linkedin profile for more about me.


So, that’s about it, I guess. Do let me know if you have any questions. Please do share this with others that you think could help me.

Thank You!

PS: I know you would wonder why would you talk to a stranger. I don’t have an answer. May be I can don the hat of the marketing consultant that I am by the day and help you with what you are working on? You know, ideation, jamming, marketing, community, etc?

PPS: Here is a list of key characters in the next book, in case. These are the ones that I want to write about. And I am researching about. These are not in any order.

  • A guru. A preacher who’s religion agnostic but draws inspiration from Hinduism, Christianity, and even Atheism. I know this is literally an impossible combo to look at. But still.
  • An out of work writer who’s researching on the history of how various religions evolved in Goa. Going way back to the time when the Portuguese first came in. And may be earlier. The writer was a news reporter at a point in time and has since quit.
  • An 80-year-old lady that runs a bar / hostel / cafe. She’s some 4th, 5th generation Goan and has been around since forever. The entire world respects her and there is not one person in her part of Goa that does not know her.
  • A taxi driver that ferries people around Goa. Been around for a while and thus knows his way. And knows all the shady things that happen around here. And knows his way around any sticky situation that you may imagine.
  • A traveling musician that has been around the world with his guitar. He’s been couch-surfing since it was still not even a phrase. He’s now been in Goa for a few years and speaks Konkani as well as he speaks English or French.
  • A management professional that’s burnt out and is now drifting through life. He never planned to be in Goa but such is life. Right? You don’t plan for things and they happen to you!

181220 – Morning Pages

Morning Page for 18th Dec 2020. I talk about a friend, book2, general humdrum in Goa and a random rant.

This will be a tough one. A, I dont have time today. I slept late and there are a few things pending that I need to get done. B, I have to rush for a meeting. Lol. Rush. Meeting. Goa. C, I had thought I would write a page for #book2 in today’s morning pages. I may not be able to. D, I do have a lot to say today but I dont have time. It’s 8:47 and I have to leave at 9:15 and I need to shower before that. And meditate.

So, let’s go.

To start with, I did not write this the first thing. I had a pressing deliverable and I had to work on that. So that. And once I was done with it, I was left with very little time to actually write this (like I said, another meeting to rush to).

Then, yesterday, I broke the meditation streak. I was on a 6-day streak and I could not continue. I did sit for it but for some reason, I just could not concentrate. Not even on my breathing. I do a 10-min session but yesterday, after the 4th minute, I was so restless that I quit. I thought this combination of morning pages and meditation was supposed to help. But it clearly hasn’t. So that.

It’s Monu’s birthday. He is probably the oldest friend I have. I literally grew up with him. I think I know him since I was in the 6th standard. That makes the friendship go back 25 years at least. No time for exact calculation ūüėÄ. While I am at it, must mention this distinct memory that I have of him as we were growing up. One time, we were playing some game (can’t recall what it was) and I was one of the team captains or something. There was this one other person, probably the alpha of our gang, that I was up against for the team. Every kid there chose to side with that guy but Monu. So that. Of course like all such bachpan ka dosti, we’ve had our ups and downs. There was a time when we fought over something stupid and I did not speak to him for months. Our mothers had to intervene to get us to talk again. And am I glad that we talked! I know that come what may, Monu will always be on my side. So that. Happy birthday! May you live long and prosper. And if you ever read this, help me document more instances from our bachpan. But knowing his talent with reading, he may not!

Last night at a whim I went to this place called the Royal Enfield Cafe. Owned by the same guys that make the bike. The place was unnaturally quiet but it was everything that I like. A big table and a chair at a comfortable height. Just enough wind. Good music. A non-pesky staff. Super strong coffee – I could not sleep last night!. Reasonably ok Internet. The kind of place where I would sit and write. Apart from Nik’s, I can see myself going there often (maybe not on the weekends) to get some writing done. Let’s see.

I think all the things that I need to get the book2 going are falling in place. I now have the thought, the vibe, even the place where the book is based. I am reading Julia’s book :D. I am editing another book. The stars are as aligned as they could ever be! I even made a few posts on FB yesterday (logged in after ages) to try and meet people from Goa to get a perspective on some characters. So, if I cant do it now, I probably would never. Lol. I have been saying this for 6 years now. No no. I am committed this time around. Ha ha!

9:07. I think Ill pause for the day. Not really an hour. Not really three pages. I would have liked to revisit the post later in the day but that kind of defeats the purpose. No? I will come back and add links though.

So, yeah. Over and out. Tomorrow.

171220 – Morning Pages

I ramble about music, writing and how people dont seem to be enjoying what I write on these pages.

171220. 0704. Just woke up. Eyes are not even open and I am on my computer, writing. Have vague recollections of dreams of the book that I am working on. And a couple of projects that I am involved in for an agency. And Dil Haare by Ankur Tewari. And I can’t get over it. Love the rustic sounds, the beating of the acoustic guitar, and his voice. Simple lyrics, repeated over and over again. I am in love.

That’s the thing that I want to try next, apart from making films – write music. Not music. Poetry that I get people like Ankur Tewari and Lucky Ali and more to sing. And use those songs in the films I make! And while I do that, remain anonymous if I have to. Reminds me of that lifegoal of mine where I want to hear a stranger talk about one of my books when I am in the room and the person does not know that I am the author. I am not sure what perverse pleasure I’d get from this but I would love it.

More I think, the more I realize my locus of achievement is outside. I need validation and respect and inputs that what I do matters. And I need a lot of it. And constantly. I want to be known for what I do. I want what I do to open up opportunities for me. I want to be powerful and impactful and all that.

On the other side, I want to remain part of the crowd. I want to be the aam aadmi. I want to get lost in the crowd. I want to be not highlighted in any manner. Little weird but that’s that.

So the first things that I recall as I wake up are work things. And that’s probably not a good thing. Or may be it is. I don’t know yet. Arti told me yesterday even if I were in heaven, I would be busy working. She’s not wrong. I dont know what else is there to life if not work. I know work may be meaningless in large scheme of things. But I do know that this work helps me keep sane. And trust me when I say this, helps others keep sane! More on this someday, when I write my biography.

The other thing is that I am trying hard to not make this a blog. Or a journal. With the sort of public life I live (where I think in public on twitter and blogs), it’s tough to separate what I think and what I say.

Anyhow.

So, here’s a thing. I am itching to get going on book2. Probably all the Goan vibe around me is making me work harder for it?

Ok, the alarm just rang. I had put cos I needed to wake up early and get some work done. But I was up before the alarm :D.

Talking about work, here’s the thing. I think all the world that says that you need to start the day with some workout and all that? Crap. It may work for them, but for me, unless I start the day with some tiny achievement of having created something, it’s not cool. You know, make my bed, write these morning pages (been just 7 days lol), think about where to go in life (even if I am old), conjure dreams like The Brain, and so on and so forth.

So I want to be that person that is like a robot. You hit play and the dude starts dancing. You hit pause and the dude stops. No emotions. Super stable. Very very sharp and alert at all times. I don’t even know if its humanly possible. That’s the point right. Becoming non-human? Detached?

Grrr…

So much rambling. Without any context. Or flow. Or logic. Sigh. In fact one of my most regular readers told me that he’s stopped enjoying what I write. I on the other hand am enjoying these morning pages so much that I actually look up to waking each day. I don’t know if what I write has gone down in quality. Or if what I write has become too honest. Or if what I write has stopped being interesting. But the fact is, if he is not enjoying what I write, I need to fix. May be this is what Julia Cameron mentioned when she said that you must not share your morning pages with anyone? May be I need to take my pages private? Dont think so. Goes against my ethos.

Anyhow. I dont know the answer. Will think over the next few days and figure. Signing out for the day.

Day 2 of Morning Pages.

Day 2 of unfiltered stream of thoughts on how I spent yesterday. And whatever is cluttering my head as I plan for the day ahead.

Hello, I have this slight headache. I think it is because I did not get good sleep. I think it’s a result of the heady cocktail of too much coffee, too much coke (not Diet but regular), too many thoughts, and too little rest. But I think I will be ok. I always get ok. I just need to get going and the humdrum of the day gets me going and I tend to get back to action.

Since this is day2 of the morning pages bit, I am not sure what to write about, lemme talk about how day 1 was, things I did, things I thought about and what did I learn from it.

Board Games. I played this game called Risk yesterday with some people. While the game is fun and I am not sure I would play it again, the lesson was that you can observe a lot about people while they are playing these games.

I knew that how you conduct yourself on a Poker table tells you about how you are as a human being. You may or may not get to play Poker with everyone but you can invite even strangers for board games. And the way they play these games, you could look at serious, long-term decisions like hiring or partnering with them!

While playing the game, you realize who’s gonna cheat, who hates to lose to a point of being unethical, who all are trustworthy, who behaves when they’re being their primal self, and so on and so forth.

COVID. A very good friend got COVID. One of those people that I actually care about. I hope he recovers. He doesn’t know how he got it. And he is one of the cautious ones. I read someplace that at some point in time all of us would get it. We just need to ensure our immunity is good. So that!

Hand of God. For no reason, someone sent me some money that I could use to do something that I have been putting off for a while. Also this some money from someone to do things that I have been putting for a while vicious circle needs to stop! I don’t know the way out but it has to. More on this on EchoChamber.

Chota Hustler. This coworking space in Goa that I work from, they have this guy that’s like a car-salesman kinda hustler. You know, the ones that would goad you into taking a decision that you did not know even know you had to take. The guy’s on the phone all the time and is selling I don’t know what to I don’t know who all. I’d probably know is a few days. Also, I think I need to up the ante on people watching thingy that I so enjoy.

Workout. One of the agendas that I had for this Goa trip was to get fit. I have been here for almost a week now and all I have done is eat crap, sleep in bad posture, work (a lot – really!), and no workout. Even though on the second day here I promptly went to a Decathlon and bought a running tee, a phone holder, and whatnot. Oh, and I have been to the beach a total of 2 times even though I live a 3-minute walk from it.

The thing is, when you think that you’d live and work in Goa, life does slow down (you are not traveling for any meetings – this intra-city travel is what speeds up time I think) but that thought that you have in your head about the charming sunsets and beaches and runs and food and parties and people? Well, at least I did not see it.

I know I know, the Instagram stories narrate a different tale. A close friend and wife are in Goa as we speak and if you see his Insta stories, I kid you not, you would question your existence. Another friend is here and all her stories are all full of poets and muses and people playing guitar, dancing, bonfires, and whatnot. Then a work colleague is also here and his Instagram is full of food that’s been plate like it was a jewel. May be it was. May be people love food so much?

The other thing that is not been happening for me since I have come to Goa is that I have stopped being social on Twitter and Linkedin and all that. These have been a large part of my life and I need to figure out how to get back. I think once I solve the internet issue, I will be ok (I am staying at a mentor’s house and there’s no Internet. And the mobile phone connection that I tether to is slow af).

Oh, I have to talk about dogs. Goa has more strays than it has people. And it’s scary. And it’s unsettling. And it is not fun. I have been barked at, growled at, chased down, stared down at in anger, and whatnot. Since these are strays, I am sure these are not neutralized or something. I think I need to get a proactive Rabbies injection or something. May be I will. Assuming there is someone that actually does some work here, apart from the ones that do not belong here.

That’s the second ‘other thing’ for the post. Most small businesses here complain that the locals do not work. They can but they don’t want to. And the ones that are not from here slog their ass off! And as a result, they are in demand, and locals are left in the lurch. And why would they not be? Free markets reward efficiency! Similar to what I hear about in Mumbai. I don’t know the solution but I would like to fix this if I can. It’s a tough problem to bang your heads on. You need to know psychology, vested interests, education, behavior change, long-term thinking, identity, money, and what not.

I also narrated a character of #book2 to a few friends yesterday. They seemed to like it. This probably is the cue that I need to get started with it? May be. You know, the invisible hand!

The last thing am thinking about before I move on to the next thing for the day is, personal brand for Saurabh Garg. I have been thinking a lot about it and I need to figure it out and move on it. Do I get authentic (these posts are a step in the direction)? Do I get all serious and post only long-form articles that has helped establish people as experts in their fields. Wait, what field do I even belong to? I met another friend-mentor day before yesterday (wow, time flies!) and he asked me to define myself and I had no clue what I stood for! I could talk about all that I’ve done and all I want to but it did not make for a convincing story. Need to work on that. May be will add to the agenda of this Goa trip, for whenever it ends!

With that, its over and out.

Like I said yesterday, please ignore the typos.

And in case you are reading this and you have any thoughts / ideas about any of these things that I spoke about, please do let me know.

Over an out!

PS: Can I add some photos to these pieces? May be. May be not. Let’s see what I decide.