A short post about how I spent yesterday. Some rants about life, time, health, massages and other things.
Today I leave Ahd and go to Delhi.
No my work here is not done. But I am done with the place. I can stay longer and all that but need a change in the scenery.
Taking a train. No, I dont like it. But desperate times call for desperate measures. So this is as desperate as it goes. All the money I made in the last few months has been poured into LHV and the next short film. No, it’s not a bad thing. It’s a tradeoff at best. And I am ok with it.
Both these things are exactly where I want to be in life – venture capital, films. These are the building blocks that I am putting in right now for the future. Just that I am almost 40 and there is no future in sight. Sigh!
So yesterday was fairly ok. I was at a Starbucks in the first half. Got done a lot of things that needed to be done. And then I met a few friends. Pitched the idea for C4E Base. Got rejected. Met more friends. Jammed on other things that could be done. Caught on an afternoon nap (must get regular with these). Woke up and worked again.
I think it was the perfect day.
Except that when I went to bed, I was in that #foreveralone fetal position till I found sleep. Need to do something about it. No, I dont want shaadi. Neither do I want steady love. Have had enough of those and dont think I want to invest energies anymore. Unless some miracles happen. Never say never, as they say.
So, the good part or bad part of being on the road is that you know that you are short of time and you try to make the max of whatever you have. I mean I am writing this from the breakfast table. Otherwise, I would have waited to get to a Starbucks and then write. You know, am trying to max out my time. I anyway like this life where I am rushed all the time. Just that the rush has to be caused by me and not by others. The slow life is not for me.
I must mention that most of my conversations with people here in Ahmedabad have reinforced the belief that life is short. Time is shorter. Especially for people like me who are old, un-rich, almost intelligent, and still do not know where they want to land in life.
Ok. Let’s move to frivolous things.
The other day my mom told me to meet one of my relatives here in Ahd. Her specific instructions were to wear pants and be well-groomed when I went. Lol. She knows me too well. So, I went for a haircut and all that. While I was there, I was tempted to get a head massage. And I did. And oh man, it was the worst massage in the history of mankind. I mean I would have questioned the very existence of the masseuse if I was in the mood. But then I let go. The good part is, I realized how much I love massages. I must must make it a part of my daily routine and life once I get back to a regular life post the trek. #note2self
The thing with the trek is, I have less than 10 days to go and I am not in great shape at all. The deviated septum is getting deviated all the more. I am eating like a pig. I haven’t walked at all in the last 10 days. Once I reach Delhi tomorrow, I am hoping I would try and get some semblance going. I can at least try breathing exercises if nothing else. I really want to come back alive and do more things with my time :D.
So yeah. I guess this is it for the day. See you guys tomorrow. Hopefully. I mean it’s 270 days. I wish I could extend it to 300 but theek hai. Such is life.
A note on what I am seeing and experiencing in Ahmedabad. From the lens of a people watcher and a consumer behaviour enthusiast.
9:12. Starbucks. Ahmedabad.
Last night, could not get to sleep. Kept fiddling with apps and all that. Hoping someone would give me attention. Guess this thing about loneliness is real. And it sucks. I mean I’ve never felt the need but if I am feeling it now, well, God bless me.
But then, I woke up refreshed. And better. Guess the cold is sort of gone and thus I feel more human. So all in all, it was a good night.
Yesterday was interesting. Did not do much. Killed time on random things. Spoke with Krishna about things that I would otherwise not admit. There’s something about meeting people face to face that brings out the super candid honest dude in me out. I mean I am honest most days most times but when I am face to face with people, I am even more open.
Ok. Lemme try and talk about something that I fail to understand as a consumer behavior expert enthusiast. I dont understand Ahmedabad. There are clearly a lot of rich people here. I am guessing per capita GDP would be the highest here. I am assuming all luxury brands would be here. And yet, people dont sort of spend money. I have been parked at a Starbucks for the last three days and I have never seen it more than 30% full. Maybe it’s not their culture to work from coffee shops. Or maybe people are stingy. But then these are “rich” people. Lemme talk of others.
On the other side, for all the expected richness, I see as many poor people around. I mean there are beggars on the streets. Every crossing, every intersection, every empty patch of land has people loitering around. There are numerous roadside markets that hawk the kinds of things that I’ve not seen in a long long time. The behavior of “aam aadmi” on the road is of the ones that are tentative with money. As a third-party, casual observer, I feel that things are not as hunky-dory as you would imagine them to be! And yet everyone is content.
And lemme talk about the weather here. It is hot. AF. To a point that I am literally sweating as soon as I step out of the AC. I am told this is how it is throughout the year. And yet people eat out. I mean they sit outside in the sun. They are, as a friend says, “simmering in their own juices” while they wait for food to be served to them. I dont know how they manage this. If we were in Europe, I get that people want sun and thus they do this. But we are in Ahmedabad. It’s sunny even at night. How do they even do this? Of course not that Delhi or Mumbai has any better weather. But then there are few months in the year when it’s pleasant. I dont think it’s ever pleasant here!
The last thing about this place is the peculiar absence of chemist shops / pharmacies. I needed to buy Vicks. You know, for my throat. And I could not find a chemist for a good 40 minutes. And I am in a fairly central part of Ahd. For all the food that gets eaten here by people, in the quantity they eat, it’s amazing they don’t need a chemist as often!
And finally, Starbucks. It is uncanny how Starbucks is able to offer such consistent service, experience, and ambiance at places that are not mainstream for the coffee junta. This is my third day here and I haven’t felt for a single second that I am not in a Delhi or a Mumbai. Kudos to them! Must learn from them! I wish I could see how things work at the backend. How they manage the diversity and yet offer a consistent experience.
So yeah. This is it. Time to get going with the day. Today marks the beginning of the week. So I will probably have a lot of work. And that too while I manage things in Ahmedabad.
A longish post about how I spent the day yesterday, things I did and how I felt as I went about them.
8:29. Was up a few minutes ago. Made my bed, opened the windows, got some water, and switched on the computer. And here I am. I will try to write this one without switching context. Let’s see how I fare. I will keep a tab of interruptions and what triggered that.
Yesterday was interesting for a lot of reasons. Lemme recap and then I will write more. So for starters, I went to Starbucks and spent almost half a day there. More on this in a bit. Then I came back and ate (once in the day! yay!). Remember the keyboard I wrote about? I found it! Wedged next to the bookshelf! Then I worked and worked and worked and worked till about 10. And then I slept. While sleeping, I felt like a machine that started in the morning, worked till the day ended, and then shut down. The joy felt missing. I mean the joy is in work itself, to be honest, and I enjoy most things I do. But as I was trying to get sleep (around 11), I wished there was more. May be this is the loneliness that they talk about that people my age suffer from? You know, the ones that don’t have a significant other? I won’t know.
Moving to specifics.
Starbucks. So I went to the Starbucks I go to often. I got myself a Venti Americano and settled into the spot that I used to sit at. In the first 10 minutes while I was there, I realized it was going to be a good good day. In the sense that I will get a lot done. I will be in the zone. I will do better things.
And I did. I felt the spring in my step. I made difficult calls. I was on a literal roll!
Now that I know this and it has dawned onto me this well, I think wherever I go, I will have to find a place like Starbucks to work from. I will invest in a place (as in pay a fee or something). May be a WeWork. It would become a large variable when I choose the place where I want to be. When in Goa, even Clay was not plush enough for my taste. Felix probably was. Just that phone / Internet wouldn’t work there. Plus those places are not built for virtual calls.
Oh, and I will start calling this the ‘Starbucks Effect on Work’. Related is Coffee Effect on Sleep. Like I couldn’t fall asleep easily last night when I tried. And then I woke during the night. Guess that’s all the coffee in me playing a spoilsport.
Next up. Now that I am fully vaccinated and all that, I plan to be in Delhi for a few days towards the end of Jun. I know my work would get affected while I am there – I won’t have the space to work from and I would have to live in a small house with my parents. But I think my parents deserve a break and work can wait. No, they’ve not told me that they want me to live with them. It’s just that I want to. Most times, I make more than 6 trips to Delhi a year. This time around, it’s been tough. I remember I was in Delhi in March of last year. And then around Diwali. It’s been more than 7 months and I think I owe them one. So that.
In other news, I saw that Vikramaditya Motwane Sir is doing a session where he would listen to pitches from aspiring authors. I think I will participate in that and try my luck. In case you are a filmmaker and reading this by mistake, do see this. In fact, thanks to TRS sessions, I have come to love what he’s as a person. I am lucky that I get some behind-the-scenes time with him and thus I know that he’s probably one of the best-meaning filmmakers that I know of. I must must make friends with him. If only wishes had wings!
Finally, the thing that I want to write about is WWDC21. Apple’s flagship event for developers. While I did not catch the event per se but the buzz made me stop and see what all they presented. And it’s amazing how they do it. They make seemingly simple things sound so grand that you are left in awe. I think there are a lot of lessons in there for me as a person, for brands, and for businesses. I mean see the below two videos and tell me you are not impressed!
Damn Steve! What a brilliant organization you created! I am in perpetual awe of you.
Ok, the other person that I want to talk about who I am in awe of? Jeff Bezos! He announced that he’s going to space. In a rocket that one of his companies designed. Along with his brother. I mean WTF! The most epic example of eating your own shit! A part of me is amazed at his dareness. Another part is scared. What if something happens? I mean the odds are pretty high! We lost Steve randomly. Dont think I want to lose Jeff. Or Bill. Or Warren for that.
I know I know I am trying to abstain from Hero Worship but these are the men that actually show others (and more importantly me) that there’s more to life than Ram Mandir! I sincerely wish I end up like that – where my conduct and my life and my work inspires others.
But wait. What about the epic laziness that I am ingrained with? Lemme give an example. Last night, once I was done with all the work and wailing in my loneliness (that I wrote about above), I realized that I don’t have water. And I drink a lot of water. Like a lot. Some 10 liters a day. I am not exaggerating. So I needed water. And I did have a 20-liter jar that I just had to open and pour into a dispenser. And what did I do? Ordered 4 1-liter bottles of water. Such a waste of money and plastic. Only to save me the discomfort of pouring water into a dispenser. Lol!
Ok. After this 10,000 kilometers of a rant, coming to the real thing that I am thinking a lot about. My angel investing syndicate that I am doing with Akash and Anubhab. We call itLong Haul Ventures (LHV).
The thesis there is simple. We want to be long-term partners for young founders that often find themselves alone. You know the ones that aren’t from an IIT-IIM etc. The ones that dont really have a pedigree to gather interest for the bets they are making. The ones that often find themselves alone and in a corner. I don’t want to call them underdogs. Idea is to give them a shoulder to stand on!
It’s been my life’s mission to enable others to do more. LHV is yet another step in that direction. This time, in a little more structured manner. With people who are smarter than me (both share initials – AG and AG). And of course, for the super long-term. Most of the work I will do on LHV will reap fruits after 5-10 years. But I am committed. With my time, money, energy, and even reputation.
So, while there are a few long-term goals we are chasing, I do have a short-term objective to meet as well. I am helping close the first deal by helping a startup raise capital.
And I am learning that it’s tough as fuck! Tougher than raising money for your own startup. For your startup, the friends and family that invest in? They are backing you and your passion and your dreams. Here, they are backing a stranger’s dream and all they have is your word!
Each person you ask for money (and support the startup) has a million questions about you and your thesis and all that. The questions are deep and pointed (as they must be) and they make you feel naked. You have to bare your heart and soul. Some of these questions are so tough that you don’t know what to say. But you need to do it. Right? Yeah!
So that. It’s a new thing and I know it’s a long, hard road I am on. Let’s see how long can I tread on it.
Guess that’s about it. It’s 9:24. A little less than an hour. And 1400 words! Wow! Maybe I had a lot to write. Or may be I did not switch context a lot. Oh, I kept a list. Here…
Music (needed something to play in the background)
Whatsapp (had to ask a few friends about a trip before I goto Delhi)
Someone at the door
Well done, Mr. Garg. You deserve a break! Go call your Pavlovian response mechanism to go berserk.
You, dear reader, deserve a break as well. Go, live your best life.
PS: Here’s streaks…
Morning Pages / Meditations – 178
#aPicADay – 0
10K steps a day – 0
OMAD – 1. Did not plan to. It just happened.
#noCoffee – 0
#noCoke – 90
10 mins of meditation – 0
#book2 – 0
Killer Boogie – 0
Surya Namaskar – 0
PPS: And here’s what Hemingway has to say about this piece…
I rant about why and how I put up weight everytime I am in Delhi.
The thing that I hate the most about traveling to Delhi is all the food that I eat when I am here. I stay at home, with my parents. And since we are a typical middle-class Haryanvi family, all the affection comes out in form of food. And since my parents love me more than they love anything else (am hoping), they present me with so much food that I go back to Mumbai 10 KGs heavier! I often lament that amount of food I eat in a day when I am in Delhi is easily more than what I eat in a week when I am in Mumbai.
More than just the love and affection bit, there are quite a few reasons for this. Lemme list.
1. #ForeverAlone vs Family
In Mumbai, I live by myself. Been living like that since 2013 or 14. And that means that all the taste buds I had, I have sort of brought them under control. I can now go without eating tasty food for days. Food has become this functional thing that I need to consume to stay alive. I know there are foodies and food photographers and whatnot.
Plus I have focussed way too much on work and that means I have had limited time to indulge in finer things in life (food, friends, recreation, etc). And thus I’d eat whatever is presented to me.
Finally, I hate all the mess that cooking makes and I am a freak when it comes to hygiene and cleanliness. And I decided a long time ago that I don’t want a kitchen in my house till I am rich enough to have a full-time staff to manage it.
On the other hand, in Delhi, life revolves around food. And the times when people eat. Not just my family but all others that I know of. Meeting a friend? Let’s do lunch. Visiting relatives? Dinner! When you ask for ideas around what you could do, they’d say, go grab something to eat.
2. Access. Availability. Ease.
Thing is, in Mumbai, I don’t have a kitchen. And thus I don’t have anything stocked. Unless I am on a subscription, each meal is ordered. And that means I don’t have anything that I could munch on, in between the meals.
Plus since the pandemic, I have been working from home. So no kachra.
More recently, I’ve been working from a Starbucks. And the snacks there are expensive af and tasteless like a wet piece of cardboard. So, even though, I’d love to keep chewing on things, I can’t. And that means I am eating less.
At home in Delhi, it’s a home. And there are magical things that only a mother knows how to pull off. At strategic locations in the house, “healthy” food is strewn all over. Like this small bowl near my father’s desktop. It’s always filled with soaked almonds! There is this drawer in our kitchen that has roasted almond stocked in. Then there is this barfi kinda thing that my mom makes – again of almonds and again placed on top of the ref, easily accessible. The point is, at each part of the house, there are convenient eating options.
3. Distractions galore!
At Mumbai, I am so distracted all the time by so much action all around me that I forget to eat. Really. Some people may call it flow. Some may call it being in the zone. Some may not have a name for it. But when I am in Mumbai, I am really really busy on I don’t know what! There’s always work to do, dreams to conjure, projects to kick off. There’s always one or two fires that I am fighting out all the time. So, no time to eat.
In Delhi, I am mostly free. And even when I do have work (like this trip, I am loaded with work) and I am scrambling hard to meet people, get things done, for some reason, I am still eating like a whacko! May be its availability. Or may be it’s planning around food. Whatever it is. I can’t seem to keep my hands away from my mouth.
This is unique to this trip and I did not really want to include it here. But I think I must. So, I think I have managed the pandemic well, in terms of my mental balance and stress levels. But the last two months have been terrible. For a variety of reasons that we shall not get into. A large part of coming to Delhi (see footnote) was also to take a pause, take a break, get away from humdrum, and the muck in the head. And may be, just may be, I am eating all this food this time around cos am stressed?
Footnote 1: If not for this random stress, I would have still come to Delhi. Just that I used stress as yet another rationalising input to justify the travel during the pandemic.
So yeah, that’s my story on how I always go back to Mumbai 10KGs heavier. What’s your story? Of food? Of when you are at home?