060621 – Morning Pages

Unlike the last few days, a leisurely post where I write about things on top of my head, hoping to get clarity. No, no clarity happened but.

8:34 AM. Woke up a few minutes ago.

After two-three days of non-activity, I am back. To a point that I am rearing to write. Like you know, put my keyboard on fire! Lol!

So without any ado, let’s go!

In terms of updates, here are the things that are at the top of my head.

1. I got the second dose of the COVID-19 vaccine yesterday. Yeah, it’s Covaxin and that means I may not be able to travel a lot. And yeah, I did have some side effects. I mean the arm is still sore and literally slept through the day even though I had a good night’s sleep the night before. I feel ok as I write this (apart from the soreness).

2. They are most probably opening Starbucks outlets from tomorrow (till about. 4 PM), I cant wait to get back out there and work! The two flipside are that a, I will have to get back to coffee (which I am again trying to stay off) and b, I will not be able to use Starbucks for calls. Starbucks has a lot of ambient noise. I will have to come back. But then, for a bit, I will have a place to go to that is NOT my freaking house. The other thing that may work in my favor is that I will probably stay away from eating till about 4:30 and thus can try and attempt for OMAD! So all in all, a great sign! The world is healing!

3. Thanks to the break imposed by the vaccine yesterday, I am at the last episode of Mare of Easttown. I will hopefully spend a large part of the evening today reviewing it. Let’s see how it goes.

4. I discovered the joys of writing with Hemingway Editor. I stumbled on it by chance. I was cleaning my bookmarks and spotted it. Logged in and was blown by what I saw! Loved the immediate feedback. Grammarly does that as well but for some reason, Hemingway felt more intuitive. Lemme share a screenshot of this text (unedited and in its raw form).

This is a screengrab from Hemingway Editor about the text that I’ve written. The menu on the right tells me that a second grader can read this as well. Not sure though πŸ™‚

But, you see that point #2 about Starbucks needs rewriting. I mean, I refuse to re-write it, but you get the drift. So if you are the kinds that require a lot of writing to be done, you must must consider Hemingway. Of course, the problem is that it’s an expensive piece of software (some 30 dollars). The free version, on the web, does not save documents. So unless you copy-paste, you lose data. For my use case – where most writing happens on a WordPress or a Google Doc and I can easily copy-paste things, the free version suffices.

5. Staying on writing and storytelling, I stumbled onto this course at Khan Academy where Pixar is teaching The Art of Storytelling.

Wait. What?
Pixar?
Free?
Storytelling?
Wow! What else can you ask for? Divided into 6 lessons, this could be the most definitive 101 that you need to be able to write for films. Someone like me needs this FOR sure. On it. Along with the course on writing the first novel.

6. Lemme rant about work for a bit. One of the things I do makes me talk to designers – specifically, the ones that layout ebooks, whitepapers and other such things. Of course I can’t pay a lot of money and I am thus unable to dictate terms. I have to live with whatever designer I can find. And the ones I work with, I kid you not, just dont want to work. They assume that I am doing them a favour by giving them feedback or asking for iterations. They forget that they could be polite. They dont understand that its free market and there are many more options available. I wish people understood that you typically work with people and little politeness, goodness and kindness goes a long long way!

Ok rant over. I mean I try to not rant but people are way to inflexible and set in their ways. I dont know why they dont understand that if they dont change, things wont move for them. Anyhow. Deep breaths, Mr. Garg.

If any of you is reading this and knows any go-getter designer, please connect me. It would be awesome.

7. Next. I dont know what next. I dont know what else to write. There are things on my head that need resolution and movement – SoG Book (the goal for June), moving out of this house, moving out of India, The Aram Nagar Documentary, making money, making an impact beyond just making money, life goals, and all that.

Guess this is it. I didn’t really put the keyboard on fire. But good to have got some words out of the system. Time to get going and get on with work. Meanwhile, here’s the streaks.

  • Morning Pages / Meditations – 175
  • #aPicADay – 0
  • 10K steps a day – 0
  • OMAD – 0
  • #noCoffee – 0
  • #noCoke – 87. 13 more days to go before I go swim in that pool of coke ;P
  • 10 mins of meditation – 0
  • #book2 – 0
  • Killer Boogie – 0
  • Surya Namaskar – 0

100521 – Meditations

A friend lost his father yesterday. This is a note to self about how I feel. Please read with caution.

7:42 AM. I had one of those sleepless nights. To a point that I even played chess at like 2:40 AM when I couldn’t get sleep. Last night, I know why I couldn’t sleep. I was hurting to start with. The COVID injection that I took has made my arm useless. There’s no body ache per se but the lower back hurts more than the arm. Plus, under the garb of eating comfort food, I have been putting crap into my stomach. As a result, there is thus perpetual pain in my stomach. And I am left feeling pukish all day long. I am hoping this would get better during the day.

How I feel is not important. There’s another thing that I want to log. A dear friend’s father passed away due to COVID. He was in the hospital and was getting good care but apparently, he couldn’t see the pain and suffering around him in the ICU where he was admitted. He sort up gave up the will to live.

Fuck!

When I heard it, I was so numb that I did not know how to react. Honestly, I had not met him ever but the friend is one of the most creative minds that I know of. I’ve studied with him, spent substantial time with him, had made multiple plans to do multiple things with him (all in the content space), even lived at his place when I was in the US for the first time. Even though his house was tiny and I had my parents and my sis with me, he accommodated us. Like a good friend.

Damn! I don’t even know what he’s feeling right now. Thanks to my parents, even though I am nearing 40, I have always stayed away from these vagaries of life. I don’t know what it means to lose a loved one. I know at some point in time I will have to face the loss. I can’t even think how it would feel. Last time another friend’s father passed away, I had similar feelings – of confusion, of not knowing how to console the friend and his family, of not being able to fathom the loss, of not being able to speak at all. It was unreal.

This time, no, I am not better prepared. I am as shocked and clueless in terms of how to talk to him and be that shoulder. I don’t know what to do to help him. I mean what can help someone who’s lost his father? Damn! I hate this chakra of life and death. I know this cycle is needed but the pain it causes is so so useless.

This also reminds me of my last trip to the ICU. This was in 2017 (or may be it was 2018) and I was getting my nasal polyp operated upon. It was a fairly simple routine and I was in a private hospital with a comfortable room with an attached loo and an attendant 24X7. After the operation, I was kept in the ICU for about 12 hours and I think those were the worst 24 hours of my life. Since I was recuperating from anesthesia and my nose was blocked. That meant that I had to breathe in through my mouth. And that meant the entire mouth, the nasal cavity, the lungs, and all that was as dry as the Sahara. At a more expensive hospital, they would have given me tubular oxygen but we couldn’t afford that. And thus I was literally dying of thirst. I remember getting in and out of consciousness. Each time I could open my eye, I remember begging for water. And the attendant not allowing me any. She wouldn’t. She knew her job well. Plus, in the ICU, there was no one but the medical staff. And I was a mere patient pestering for water. A case number. A nuisance.

I remember, I even told them that I want to give up if they cant give me water. But I do have vague recollections of me reminding myself of Man’s Search for Meaning and other such motivational things. I kept telling myself that I could be suffering on the outside, I could be subjected to all the bodily pain, but on the inside, in my head, it is up to me to remain unbreakable.

Somehow I got thru. But I know I could last because I was there for all of 12 hours. Any longer, I would’ve given up.

I promised myself that day I will do whatever it takes to never go to a hospital again. Thankfully, I havent had to. I have continued to not take medicines and let my body heal myself. I know the lifestyle I have, I will probably need a doctor soon. But for the time being, I am ok.

Coming back to the friend, I just hope he tides through this. The loss is irreparable. This COVID crisis has made us humans immune to suffering – there is so much around us that we have accepted to live with it. It’s a good thing for the human race in general. But it’s a terrible terrible thing for individuals that have to face the loss. Like I said, I am unable to even fathom how to talk to people that have had to see a loss. I am not brave like that. It sucks.

I just hope that the day gets better as we go along. And the coming days too.

Over and out.

090521 – Meditations

An inane update from a day that went past like a breeze. In other works, I slept through the day!

8:00
Just woke up. Must have slept some 14 hours yesterday. To a point that I am having a hard time opening my eyes. I mean my eyes are anyway getting fucked, thanks to all this sitting in front of a screen all day long. The left eye is especially bad. I think I need to add a distance to the screen. Or may be the distance is adding on the strain? Will check with Kunal and figure out.

So in some good news, I got the first shot of the COVID vaccine. I got Covaxin, not that I had a choice. I took it around lunch yesterday. Here is the Twitter thread that I wrote about the process etc. I am told that I may show some symptoms of the disease but so far I feel ok, except for some soreness in the arm I got the vaccine in. Guess that would go in a few days. I am hoping the second shot (due in about a month) would be as comfortable.

The getting of the vaccination slot for this COVID vaccine has been such a harrowing experience. To a point that I had almost given up. But then like other things, it’s a matter of luck and doggedness. Of course, the celebs seem to be getting these slots east and have spotless sofas to park their asses on when they get the vaccine.

To be honest, I actually did not want to take the medicine – I mean, the vaccine is super new and no one knows of the long-term effect on the human body. One of my friends that understand medical science told me that this could be a foolish thing to do – you know, inoculate the entire world with something that we have no experience with. What if that ends the human race? But then more and more evidence starting pouring in about the benefits and advantages. Plus, to be honest, I had the FOMO about not taking it when others I know took it. Plus, if this vaccine allows me to travel around freely (if not outside, even in India), why not? I can’t be at one place, you know.

So that. Let’s see how today goes. Depends on how my body copes up with the vaccine.

Oh, I am starting with a Keto subscription from next week. Even if it’s expensive and I cant afford it. I want to give a part of the coming week to not starve my body. And I have firmed up in my head that I need to move on from this house. I will start the search. The tenets of the places I want to live at remain the same – spacious, higher-floor, newer-building, close to a Starbucks, unfurnished (apart from ACs and Wardrobes). I am ok with Thane or Borivali etc. The days I need to be in the middle of civilization, I will shack up with friends. I have a few bachelor friends that are sprinkled around Mumbai where I can go shack up on days when I need to be in a city. These are at Andheri, Ghatkopar and Worli. The Ghatkopar one lives in a chimney, so I may not live with him.

But the point is, I will lean more on friends. And if nothing else, I have a friend that runs a chain of youth hostels. I can always use that. I can request him to give the room to me for cheap.

Guess this is finally a step in the direction of becoming a nomad. If only I had the money, I would probably live in a hotel for life! Sigh!

Oh, I will take the search easy. I will not make a hasty decision.

So that’s about it for the day. For most of the day yesterday and the day before, it did not irk me that I have lost that the data that is literally my life’s work and all that. Guess what’s gone is gone and subconsciously, I have accepted it. I am hoping that in the long run, I don’t regret that I needed something and that is not longer available. Time shall tell.

With that, it’s over and out. See you guys tomorrow. Here’s streaks…

  • Morning Pages / Meditations – 147
  • #aPicADay – 0
  • 10K steps a day – 0
  • OMAD – 0
  • #noCoffee – 0
  • #noCoke – 60
  • 10 mins of meditation – 0
  • #book2 – 0
  • Killer Boogie – 0
  • Original Work (limited time only) – 0
  • Surya Namaskar – 0

060521 – Meditations

A longish post on things like COVID, house, iPhone and more. Little dark and depressing. Read at peril.

5:43. I woke up with a combination of a weird pain in my stomach (I suspect it’s the chana masala I had for dinner) and even more weird sounds that the AC made throughout the night. The AC at my place, on a normal day, sounds like Bane. It has its moods. It can be incredibly quiet. It can be incredibly loud. And it can be that tease that wants your attention all the time but would never give you the action.

And now that I am up, I better make use of the time. If nothing else, I can get done with the morning pages before I dive head-on into the day ahead. I am not sure what all do I want to write. But let’s try.

A. iPhone snafu.
So I broke the screen of the iPhone (this is a 2018 X). This is at least the second time that I have broken a screen on this one. Last time, it was last year, around this time (and during another lockdown) that I broke it. I am tempted to buy a new phone (I’ve been using this for 3 years now and it’s time for an upgrade; I want. Not need.) but I think I will get this one fixed. That’s anyway not the point. The point is that I don’t have a usable phone. And I feel helpless without one. Lemme try and think why is that and may be make a list.

For starters, all my work is dependent on the phone – coordinating, taking feedback, giving inputs, conversations, and so on and so forth. I use a variety of tools – Whatsapp, MS Teams, Phone Calls, Emails (in that order) and while I use a laptop for these, I am also dependent on a phone – you know, multitasking and all that. Without a phone, I was ok more or less for a large part. Except for Whatsapp. And I have to admit, I felt very very restless without access to Whatsapp. No, I am not missing anyone in particular. No, I don’t have any important messages coming my way. No, I am not impaired in my ability to work or get things done. Just that, something felt missing.

Then, I check the phone multiple times a day to get OTPs and other such 2FA applications (authenticator etc). Thankfully, I did not need to use a lot of those yesterday. May be today, once I am ordering my food. Or if I get logged out from any of work related things.

Finally, I think with an Internet connection on and a working laptop (about 4 months old), I was more or less ok.

But then I have to get the phone fixed. It’s the constant companion that I wake up with, that I sleep with, that goes with me to almost all the places you can imagine except the shower. It’s a thing that I carry even if I am not carrying any money on me. Or even the house keys. Now that I don’t have a phone, I realize that when I do have a working phone, I feel not just connected, but also empowered. When I hold an iPhone, I have that Thor’s Hammer, Arjuna’s Brahmastra, Iron Man’s Jarvis, and the Crypton from Waqt Humara Hai!

So that.

Oh no, I cant do an Android Phone, even if they are now far better, faster, sleeker, sexier, cheaper than the iPhone.

B. Done with Byomkesh
I’ve seen binged on all 32 episodes of Byomkesh Bakshi. These episodes were my companion over the last month or so for every time I had to eat or I had to let my mind wander.

For the uninitiated, Byomkesh is India’s answer to Sherlock. A detective that uses deductive reasoning to solve seemingly complex crimes. Each crime is seeming complex to solve, there are no clues on who’s done it or how the crime’s been done. And yet Byomkesh comes in, observes people, dips into his infinite pool of knowledge, and comes out with that thread that when pulled unravels the mystery.

Of course, the production value and direction and acting wouldn’t survive in the world we are in, the stories are so interesting that you are willing to ignore all those. Like I did.

I really wish I had the talent to write such simple and yet deep short stories. Brevity is not my scene. Must try and develop that muscle.

C. Tentatively started to look for a house at Thane and Borivali
So yesterday I started to look for a cheaper house. And since I want a lot of space, I need to move away from epicentres. So it has to be Thane or Borivali. This time when I take a house, I will make sure it is not an old building. In fact, I have to be the first or second tenant. And I dont want any old, rickety, tired white goods. And I need the place that has a Starbucks within a 2-Km radius. Rest I dont care about. Once this COVID thing is over (another 6 months I am hoping), I will move back to an epicentre. Or I would have moved to Goa by then. Or I would have left the country for good. I mean I don’t know where I would be in six months. But today, I know that I need to live with peace and I dont have that right now.

Let’s see what I actually do and if I actually make the move.

D. Scared about COVID
Some really good friends, the ones that take more than all the precautions required have got it as well. To a point where I am thinking, how is it that I am the only one left unaffected. Lemme illustrate with another example. If you opened my phone log and looked at a list of 20 people that I speak to most often, EACH of those (or their VERY close personal connections – wives, kids, parents, etc) have been affected. I feel like an anomaly to not have contracted the disease. I am wondering how. May be cos I live alone and the only person that comes into the house is my help? May be cos when I go for walks, I mask up, properly with the nose and all covered and maintain distance in case I encounter others around me. May be I’ve already had a minor strain and I have antibodies. I don’t know. But I know that it’s a matter of time before I get it. And with COVID, you don’t know what it would do to your body. Someone I used to play poker with passed away at 32. And I have heard of 90-year olds recovering. So, I don’t know. I think this is the first time I have felt fear. I don’t know why. But then, I think this too shall pass.

So that’s about today I guess.
When I was reviewing what I wrote, I realized this piece reads like a rant of a depressed and sad man. I did not intend it to be. I merely wanted to log thoughts in my head. But then, who am I to control whatever takes birth from me? May be at some point, it will tip. I will stop seeding these thoughts. Let’s see where it tips.

In the meanwhile, here’s streaks.

  • Morning Pages / Meditations – 144
  • #aPicADay – 0
  • 10K steps a day – 0
  • OMAD – 0
  • #noCoffee – 1
  • #noCoke – 57
  • 10 mins of meditation – 3
  • #book2 – 0
  • Killer Boogie – 0
  • Original Work (limited time only) – 0
  • Surya Namaskar – 1

Over and out.

270421 – Morning Pages

A quick post about an acquaintance that succumbed to COVID-19. May trigger you. Please be advised.

7:04 AM. I had what I will call a fitful sleep. I wont have a lot to talk about today – there’s way too much on my plate and I cant afford the indulgence of an hour that I typically take to write this. I am giving myself 30 minutes. Will hit publish at soon as it’s 7:30.

So yesterday, I was told that one of the people I used to play poker with, at my own house succumbed to COVID. The guy was all of 32. I haven’t met in some 5 years but I am still part of that tiny community of people that bonded over this game called Poker. When I think about him, I remember him as one of those always full of life people. He had a joke or two. He liked to dress up. He loved the idea of getting attention. He hated to lose but he would take it in a stride and always come back with vengeance the next time we played. I was even envious of how he lived. He’s gone. No goodbyes. No promises to meet again.

To be honest, I had forgotten him. I hadn’t thought about him in all these years. But now that he’s gone, the loss somehow feels far closer. While playing Poker, we sat around a table for many nights over a period of 2-3 years that we played. We would’ve shared quite a few meals. He would’ve bluffed me into holding rockets with his crappy hole cards. Damn, it’s not cool that he’s gone. It just sucks that us humans have such unpredictable expiry dates.

The thing is, this is probably the first person that I knew personally that has succumbed to COVID. I have heard stories from close friends, relatives, seniors from college, and more that have experienced loss from close. They’ve tried to talk to me about how it is to lose a loved one. While I could empathize with them, I was unable to comprehend.

May be this is what it feels like. I mean if it sucks so much to lose an acquaintance (I can’t call him a friend), I can’t even imagine how it must feel like to lose a loved one. So much pain, so much suffering caused by I don’t even know what. I can blame it on people’s carelessness. I can blame it on the government’s inaction. I can blame it on the damn place where the virus originated. But the damn blame will not bring back this guy. Or all the others that have passed away.

I really hope this is over soon. I hope others don’t face as much pain and everyone gets back to their homes healthy, happy, and well. As I write this, there’s just one question in my head. Kab tak sidelines pe rahoge Mr. Garg?

That’s about it. See you guys tomorrow. Hopefully.

Here’s streaks.

  • Morning Pages / Meditations – 135
  • #aPicADay – 116. Stopping this project. I can no longer log in to Instagram without getting triggered about all the suffering around us. Will stop tracking from tomorrow.
  • 10K steps a day – 0
  • OMAD – 0
  • #noCoffee – 48
  • #noCoke – 48
  • 10 mins of meditation – 1
  • #book2 – 0
  • Killer Boogie – 0
  • Original Work (limited time only) – 0
  • Surya Namaskar – 1

Nothing on Roshan. Have a lot of work. See you guys tomorrow. Hopefully.