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300121 – Morning Pages

I talk about some large decision I am hoping to make with life and all in the next few days. Long rant. Read at peril.

7:02

I’ve been up for a bit. Have a lot on my mind. Have a lot to do as well. Lemme start writing and see where we go.

So, yesterday was big. I took another debt. To make ends meet. To pay a handful of young people that work with me. To keep the lights on at those projects that I hope someday would become large beacons of great work. And on the other side, one of those projects is putting three startups in front of an investor, for a shot at investments. Ironical? Nah. By design? Nah. Poetic? Yes, I guess.

I mean here I am. Taking a loan to run those pieces and using those as vehicles to make others rich, famous, and better known. All in hopes that someday they would be big enough that they would start paying me back. You know, delayed gratification. The Marshmallow Experiment. Hoping to let go of the fun and comfort and joy of today. To hopefully enjoy it tomorrow. What if there’s no tomorrow? Damn!

Anyhow. So the large decision is that if I am forced to take another loan at the end of Feb, I would give up on this staying independent thingy and warp up everything that I am personally working on and take the first Naukri that comes my way, even if it pays me shit. As a vocal advocate of self-employment and not letting someone else command your time, I will bite the dist and stop advocating independence. I will stop virtue signaling. I will relook at the way I live life and the pseudo-krantikaari thoughts that I have. I poker parlance, I’d fold.

Talking of kranti, I am a tad more well-read about the farmer’s protest now. I spend a large part of yesterday reading about it. Of course, I read opinion pieces and perspectives of people from both sides – farmers and government. And I am now leaning towards the farmers. No, I am not saying that the new farm laws need to be repelled (I am still reading about those laws) but I have come to a conclusion that the way the government is handling the issue? That is not right.

I saw this video where Yogendra Yadav is literally in tears as he talks about how the movement was derailed. And I sympathize with him. He and other farmer leaders have called for a one-day fast and I support them. In solidarity, I will keep a fast as well.

Of course, this is a symbolic gesture and amounts to nothing. Armchair activism. Tokenism. But that’s the least I can do. And since I had this huge-ass Vegetarian Thali at 11:30 last night, I will fast both today and tomorrow. Penance. For my unawareness of the issue. Let’s see if I hold up.

I also saw this video yesterday, thanks to Parijat. The comedian, Punit Punia talks about how the middle-class is anything but that. There’s a part of about 30 seconds that leaves you dumb-founded and sucks the air out of your gut. Do see it. It’s just sickening the way we are.

Here it is. Do NOT miss it. Please. Lemme know how you feel after you’ve seen it.

I also had this longish chat with SG2 yesterday about life and all that. She asked me if I’ve seen my confidence go down in the last 2 or so years. I had to think hard and I don’t know the answer. I feel as if my confidence levels have remained the same but my self-image has probably taken a dent. Lemme explain (this is exactly how I explained to her :D).

So even though I am staring down a barrel, I am fairly confident that I will get acche din at some point in time in life. You know, this too shall pass. This means I will have all that I seek – impact, wealth, access, etc. At some point. SG2 dismissed this as optimism. I think this is confidence in my abilities to get things done and open doors and create opportunities etc. She doesn’t agree.

However, I know that I am no longer confident about myself. You know, self-image. That I think has taken a hit. A large one. Like this…

BOOM!

What do I mean by this? Simple.

I feel know that I have spent 40 years here and I have yet to do anything that will make people take a note. Fuck people. I’d not take a note of what I’ve done. If I walked upto myself and talked about all that I’ve done, I’d shoo myself away. Like you ignore those unwanted creatures that sort of hold you from doing things that you want to be doing.

I need validation. From myself. From sgMS (am surprised that I thought of her, more on this later). From the world. In terms that they understand (thanks SG2 for helping me articulate). Here are the terms for the three cohorts that I spoke about…

  • The world believes that you are great if you have a fancy house, luxury car, 2 kids, and a 7-figure salary. If you have some awards and accolades, the world gives you more credit, more validation, more respect.
  • sgMS evaluated the worth of a person from some internal metric that I have not been able to figure to date.
  • For me, I’d be happy if I see the impact of my work (it’s zilch right now) and the doors that my work, my brand, my reputation opens for me. Right now, them doors shut on my face!

I have none of these three right now. The most important is validation from self (the kinds that helps you with your self-image). And I lack that. In its absence, I could rely on signals that I could project at others about me having arrived. Even that is missing. I know so many people that are crappy, average Joes (and Janes) that are able to get by purely because they have fat salaries, lofty designations, and all those things that the world uses to validate your existence.

Lemme get back to sgMS. So she and I were sort of together long long ago. We’ve since then drifted and are great friends. She is still the keeper of my moral compass. If I need to make a decision that would border on ethics and all that, I would go to either Vanita, Hemant, or her. She continues to be that important.

I think my self-images issues go back to sgMS. Really. I have never admitted this ever in my life. But she was one of those hyper-critical people with super-strong perspectives and opinions and misguided views on people, things, heroes, and all that. At the time, I was blind in love and did not realize but now that I can think a tad better, I know that being with her sort of dented the way I thought about things. Of course, all the ambition I have was probably fuelled by spending time with her. If not for her, I would be more content. I got the push to do more because she saw that I was capable and she was like Terence Fletcher (of Whiplash fame) and she would not settle for anything ordinary.

I can trackback even more and go to a time when I was growing up in a lower-middle-class part of Delhi. Because the ‘nurture’ I was getting was sort of ‘limiting’, I think I was programmed to believe that the good things are not for me. See the Punit Pania clip above. When I had to go to a 5-star hotel for the first time by myself (I think in 2007 and I was 25) for an interview, I had to prepare myself mentally and I had to check if people like me were even allowed in there! May be this dented my self-image issues.

Ok, I digressed a lot. Good thing is that no one is reading. The point anyhow was that I think my self-image has taken a hit. And I need to find a way out.

The last thing I was to put on paper, in continuation with this topic is the thing about being eccentric and a fool. For some reason, in my head, I attribute this to SRK, though I can’t find the source.

So, he says if you have perspectives, ideas, thoughts, and actions that are counter-intuitive to people, are opposite to commonly held beliefs, people would take note.

And if you are poor, you are insignificant, you haven’t “achieved” anything, they would call you a fool for your ideas. Even, a mad man. An outcast. An anomaly. However, if you are “successful”, rich et al, they would call you eccentric!

The road from a fool to an eccentric needs you to have a fancy Rolls Tesla to drive on top of. Till you get one, stay shut. #note2self, Mr. Garg. If you want to tweet like Elon and impact the BTC price just by changing your bio, you need to be Elon in the first place. Or you can keep changing bio for the rest of your life and probably get banned from twitter.

Chalo. Over and out.

Oh, no time for freewriting today. Missed it the second time in recent days. Must not do it tomorrow. Or may be I will only write #book2 on the morning pages? Let’s see.

270121 – Morning Pages

Rant. Don’t read. Trigger Warning (TW).

6:25.

I have had a fitful sleep. And I had a really bad day yesterday. And I am mindfucked like I’ve never been before.

I had an important meeting and like all important meetings I ensured that I was on time and I was ready and all and just when I had the meeting, the Internet stopped. I mean I know that Goa doesn’t offer the most reliable internet but it sucked af that it went away a minute before the meeting was to start!

Today I have another important meeting. If there is any interruption on the internet today, I promise I will fucking go back to Mumbai. Or Delhi. I have to include this in my ultimate guide of working from Goa that if your work requires synchronous video calls, you either live in Panjim (the city) or you do not consider Goa as a place to be. I am not even sure what would happen in monsoons.

The other thing that I am thinking a lot about and I don’t know how to stop thinking about is the ongoing farmer’s protest. I thought I knew all about the issue and how the new laws will fuck the lives of farmers even more. How the laws are against the long-term interest of farmers. How large companies will dictate terms and squeeze farmers even more. But then more narratives, probably sponsored by the very large companies (that stand to benefit) started coming out. And those are compelling, paint a contrasting picture and so lucid in their arguments that I am actually thinking that the laws may actually benefit the farmers. And the nation. Fuck, now I don’t even know what to believe anymore.

Which to be honest is ok. I anyway don’t know a lot about a lot of issues that I should be knowing about. I don’t vote. I don’t know a thing about anti-muslim propaganda. I don’t know about issues of the LGBTQi community. I have been on the fence about the battle between natives and migrants in almost all states. I don’t know the reason why people are super attached to the idea of their God being better than others. Or why your community, city, state, religion, the country is better than others, and how everyone else needs to convert to your religion. I remained out of action on the CAA and NRC even though it was as archaic, unfair as anything else ever has been.

But I don’t like the idea of divide and rule. And brainwashing simple people (like me — I don’t understand complex arguments, neither am I bright to know the long-term repercussions of the new rules and laws that we are creating). The worse is the use of force. Fucking barbaric. Something that we could have done when life was all about survival in caves. The world is almost ready to establish a colony on Mars and here we are. Gloating over the victory of mandir wahin banaenge. I mean Bhagwan Shree Ram was for real, would he want to bless a temple that took years of battles and I don’t know how many dead bodies to make?

God is a mythical thing. I understand that some people may want to take solace that there’s a higher power, omnipresent that looks after you. Heck, in my weakest moments I have also thought about God. I have asked for kindness. I can remember two distinct times when I had to rely on God. Once to save a friend from a disease. Once for an event that I made a mess of. Both times things worked out. I don’t know if it was God or what. But I can totally see how people can get attached to these and start believing in God. I mean even I walked some 20 km to Siddhi Vinayak once. May be there is God after all. May be we do have meta-spiritual mystical powers that help all those tarot card readers and astrologers make a living. Good for them.

But force? Coercion? I mean, a comedian is in jail in MP for saying something derogatory against the Hindu Gods. An educated family killed their daughters over something that a priest told them. The Dalits are oppressed to date. Wait. WTF is even a Dalit? Or a Hindu? Each person is human irrespective of caste, gender, sexual preference. Arent we are freak accidents? Did we not get dealt a had that we could not choose in the ovarian lottery? Who decides that someone is a Dalit or a Suvarna or Upper Caste? That baba with a long flowing beard that plays frisbee and drives Mercs and teaches you the art of “living” is talking about how the government needs to cede control over places of worship to the devotees. Isn’t that inciting people?

Fuck I am so so ignorant. Vegetating. Happy in the bubble around me in my head that, “Wow, Mr. Garg, you are in Goa. You are the coolest. You are away from the mess. And you have all the sunshine and stray dogs and fucking unreliable Internet for company.”

Fuck!

Back to the incidents of yesterday.

I remember I called my parents (they live in Delhi) and I remarked in passing that there’s a rally and I hope that it’s peaceful and all. My father commented on how it would be – he grew up with farmers! And then I forgot about it (yeah, forgot about it – I am that indifferent, that casual). And then while I was in a meeting, I took a break to pee and checked Twitter. And saw images from the Red Fort. About how the protest had turned violent and people (both on the side of the farmers and cops) were hurt. Some farmers died, some cops got injured, and how the separatists have infiltrated the movement.

Since then, I have been reading non-stop. My eyes hurt. My head hurts. There’s no internet and yet I am non-stop tapping on refresh on my phone even in my sleep. About how Nishan Sahib is different from the Khalistani Flag. And how the Tiranga was disrespected. And how religious symbolism (a saffron flag atop Babri Masjid) is never good. And yet these symbols move nations.

It took my country to burn to make me take note of how ignorant I am.

The thing that makes it worse is that people I respect, the ones that I believe are progressive and think of India first and humanity first and are apparently good in their hearts and heads are making some of the most flawed arguments. No, I don’t want to name them. And yes, the arguments I think are flawed may be the most sensible ones and yet the commonsensical brain in me is unable to digest those.

Someone rightly said once. Heroes fall. I need to get over this hero-worship mode that I am perpetually in.

Oh, any in Goa, at least the places am hanging out at? They don’t even know what’s happening in Delhi. They are happier that unlike the rest of the country, there’s no dry day in Goa on Republic Day.

Fuck it’s sickening. I can totally related to Chris and other such people. There’s merit in being a hippy. And there’s merit in being a Satoshi. Or even a Che for that matter. Take shit in your hands and dictate terms on how you would live, even if the understanding is limited or flawed af.

No, I am not saying Chris, Che, Satoshi, Mohandas, or any of those legends were flawed. They could have been. But they took a call and did things that they felt or thought or considered right. Unlike me. I can’t even seem to make a living, leave alone thinking independently. I am a random fuck stuck in a rut.

The other day I was happy ecstatic that I seem to have found yet another way to discharge my calling as a person. And today, I am

I am reminded of three lines as I end this. I may get the articulation wrong but they went something like…

One. “jinhe naaz hai, hind par wo kahan hai?

Rabbi did a brilliant take on this. Here. We need more Rabbi’s. More Dylans. And not Badhshahs or Gurus. Fuck, not even Lucky Ali. I don’t believe that I am saying this. I’ve been a fan since I was a child. We don’t need stories and hymns of unrequited love no more. We rather need poets and writers and singers and other popular people to take a stand and educate the masses on these issues. Someone needs to put some sense. Atleast in me. And others. Fuck it sucks that I don’t have an iota of a clue about what’s happening around us.

Two. “Ek zabardast toofan aaye aur uda de chuppi ki duniya

I first saw this on a tee at People Tree. I think this is by Faiz. I am unable to find a source though. But to me, it means that you need some earth-shattering thing to happen and nudge you into action. I have thought about this often. I have seen some great things, good times, bad times, even times when I thought life was meaningless. But these lines always drag me back. I am waiting for almost 40 years now. Half my life is over. And yet there’s been no toofan. And there’s been no impact, no dent, no headway that I’ve made. It sucks to be like this.

Really.

Three. Pale Blue Dot.

By Carl Sagan. The long-text is here. See the video below. The pertinent lines that I go back to often are…

The Earth is a very small stage in a vast cosmic arena. Think of the rivers of blood spilled by all those generals and emperors so that, in glory and triumph, they could become the momentary masters of a fraction of a dot. Think of the endless cruelties visited by the inhabitants of one corner of this pixel on the scarcely distinguishable inhabitants of some other corner, how frequent their misunderstandings, how eager they are to kill one another, how fervent their hatreds.

– Carl Sagan
Pale Blue Dot. Carl Sagan.

So that’s that.

I think I am done for the day.

I am still confused, stifled, angry, sad, and all that. There’s so much happening that I don’t even know how to process. All I can do is rant and speak out loud in the wilderness of the Internet.

And no, there’s book2 today.

How can I? My country is burning and fucking am thinking about writing books. To what end? To give that escape to whoever reads what I write? Do we need the escape? Or do we need to act? And fix shit?

Well, who am I to talk about these things? I don’t know a thing about the real world or real life. I don’t even vote.

Of course, I hope tomorrow is better.

And if it’s not, I hope I can move onto the next thing that distracts me. That’s how I think life will pass by – moving from one distraction to another. Without taking a stand on one.

Over and out.