020121 – Morning Pages

On the 2nd day of 2021, I talk about how I spent the first day of 2020 and how I am guilty of enjoying a film like Coolie No. 1.

02 Jan, 0705 hrs.

I had a brilliant start to the new year. Here’s how.

  • I could say no to very tempting offers to a, munch onto crispy brown fries at a fancy restaurant. And b, at the same place, I could say no to an ice-cold Diet Coke that was sweating with dew. Mmmm. Merely talking about it is making me want to grab one. But I did not.
  • I found 60 bucks at a garage! This is after a while that I have found money lying on the road. I consider that each rupee I find like that is worth a crore at some point in time. So, I am worth 60 crores already! Yay!
  • Met a friend (remember the restaurant I talked about above? there) and talked about the Goa magazine I have been thinking about. He may come on board as a partner. So Yay!
  • Was at FabIndia and saw this amazing notepad at a compelling price at a great discount. The regular Saurabh would have bought it but I resisted the temptation and did not.
  • Worked on the #in2021 plan for a bit. Still not done with it, but happy about the progress am making with it. Will share soon.
  • Started posting #aPicADay on Insta with this shot from Anjuna. Got 35 likes. Which is about 0.5%. With 800 followers, this should be at 80-100 (~1-1.5%). May be it will increase as we go along? And in case it does not, I will merely do it for the joy of doing and not for the thrill of seeking numbers.
  • At a cafe, I saw this young boy taking some amazing shots with an iPhone. Talked to him about Dil Haare‘s video that I want to make. He sounded interested. He’s gone MIA since ;P The larger point is that there are so many talented people but there’s no way for them to collaborate with others. Is this a problem worth solving?
  • Read some. The next part of Julia Cameron’s book. Realized my limitations as an artist and an enabler. Let’s see what I do to fix it.
  • Stayed away from the phone for a large part of the day. Decided to not chase time syncs (Instagram, Twitter, etc) and only use them when I want to. Could resist those for a large part. Yay!

So yeah. There’s luck, new beginnings, restraint, and overall general hopefulness. Couldn’t have asked for a better start. What about you? How was it for you?

Today looks busy as well. With things that I want to work on. Cheers to that. I have meetings from 10:30 on. I may also get to meet an interesting artist with Nupura towards the evening if all goes well. I of course need to complete the #in2021 plan before that. Maybe squeeze in a walk, if I can. Lol, who am I kidding?

Ok, what else?

Yeah! I have to talk about this and get judged. So, I don’t watch a lot of movies, and for an aspiring filmmaker, this is of course not done. My to-watch list is a mile long and even if I take three lifetimes, I would probably still not get to finish the list. The most recent one that I have been dying to see is AK vs AK. But I haven’t had the time. Or the inclination, maybe. But, I have been seeing Coolie No. 1 (the new one with Varun Dhawan in the lead role) intermittently. I kid you not, I am enjoying it! To a point that I find myself thinking about it. I am about an hour into it and like most such films that give you the guilty-pleasure, I don’t want it to get over! I have a shitty data connection here at Goa and yet I try to stream the film!

Lol. Goa does funny things to people 😀

Oh, I will also start work on book2 today. For the umpteenth time. Let’s see how this shot at chasing immortality goes. I am often left marveling at how optimistic I could be about things and how thick-skinned I could be about my folly! I mean if I was talking to myself, I would tell myself that book2 is an elaborate facade you’ve created to tell yourself that you amount to something. There is no substance to it. And I would tell myself to stop fooling myself and move on.

But then, I want to tell stories and I like the idea of being able to talk to people and uncover what moves them and then get inspired to explore more. And nothing better than to write books! And thus!

Anyhow, this is a rant for a different time, different day. Time to get on with the day and get some work done!

Over and out.

211220 – Morning Pages

Morning Pages for the day. Random ramblings, to be honest. In case you want to skip!

Hello World! It took some effort to wake up today. Had to put a hundred alarms and keep hitting on snooze. Need to stop having all the coffee. To be honest, I can. Just that I don’t know what to sip onto when I am whiling away time at cafes to work. Like I said yesterday, I cant work from home and thus I need this feeling of downing something all the time. So, if not coffee, what? Green Tea makes me pukish! Diet Coke? This is becoming an existential question now.

Anyhow, so the brain has started to get back on track. In the sense that wherever I go, I try and sniff some opportunity. Not that I have been able to capitalize on those in the last so many years but I liked the idea of being able to think in terms of numbers, action points, and all that.

The other thing that I must say is that this is after ages where I am putting myself in uncomfortable situations. I am walking up to strangers and chatting them up. I can see from their faces that they think I am a fool. I can hear the subtext in the conversation that they want me to get out of their face asap. I know from their body language that they want to escape. And most times, they do. This is the first time probably where I am trying to sell something that people don’t want. Wait, I am not selling anything per se. I am merely talking to them about their lives. And that itself is deeply unsettling for them. And more so to me as someone that’s instigating them! Oh, damn, the that and the who.

I don’t enjoy these conversations myself but this is probably the only thing I’d get to learn while I am here. Each conversation makes me aware of the limitations that I have when I speak with people (you know, fidget, speak fast, interrupt often, jump from topic to topic, merely scratch the surface, etc). And with each conversation, I try to be mindful and improve how I am doing. So far I haven’t had great success. But I am hoping that there would be some impact somewhere howsoever little it is. If you read this and you and I talk, lemme know if you think am getting any better.

So that.

What next?

Thinking…

Damn this is hard.

Is this what Julia meant when she said morning pages are hard?

Grrr…

So, I tried to digress by checking on some messages, tweets, and all that. Lately, I have started to use FB a bit (to try and connect with people in Goa). I find it far better than Twitter on Insta. In fact, I need to rethink how I live on social media. For all the fuckeries that it piles on you (with all the random ads, FOMO inducing pictures from friends, triggering your insecurities when you see others doing well etc etc), it works for sure. I was able to connect with 3-4 people, thanks to just one post. Maybe I need to get active on FB again?

I do have a philosophical issue here with the concerns around privacy and how FB as a Big Brother bullies smaller businesses into spending more. But then, free market. No?

Also, while writing this bit about FB, I realised how little I know about these concerns. I dont even know what’s wrong with FB. I know that they suck at preventing spread of misinformation or hatred and all that. They are said to side with bullies (Redhat Jr, Kisan Ekta Morcha etc). They are now a giant corporation that kills other businesses with monopolistic behaviour. But do I know the details? No. Do I really know what is the real issue? What is at the core of this? No.

I conveniently trust and follow the opinions of a handful of people (I shall not name those here on the public post) that I *know* for a fact know more about these issues. These people are passionate about causes and things. And they spend all their time chasing things that they are passionate about. And they are not “selling” what they know. There is no vested interest. Say films. I know Shikha will die but not stop reading, talking, researching about films. So I trust her opinion.

Books? Prak would not stop.

Business? Ajeet Sir will have the most informed view.

Loyalty points? Sujoy.

Growth? Annkur.

Tech in general? Kunal.

Career? Anubhab.

Digital Media? Mihir.

Goa? Nupura.

Life advise? Vanita.

Commonsense? AD.

Scrimping money? Vivek.

Showing reality when I am flying high? Sonali.

The list can go on. I am lucky to have so many people give me so much attention and mindspace. And thus, I have people for each thing that I may want to know about. And they are honest and upfront. The value they give me is the reward they expect when they talk to me. I am lucky to have people like that around me!

So, when I am stuck, I just ask these people about the issue and they come back to me with actionable and decision-makable inputs. So I have sort of outsourced my research and thinking.

To me, that works. At least, so far, it has. I am not sure if I want to change it as I go along.

Or may be this is what is stopping me from getting to greatness? May be.

Something to think on. No?

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 😀. 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.

Day 4. 141220.

In this one, I talk about my #lifeGoal of telling stories of fascinating, non-celebrity people that we often miss.

Yo Morning Pages.
Day 4.
7 AM.
I woke up about 30 minutes ago and unlike when I was younger and I could wake up and jump into action the next second, it has taken me almost 30 minutes to reach a point that I can type this. Old age sucks!

Anyhow. So the thing that I am thinking of since last evening is that there are so so many interesting people in the world and I need a way to be a magnet to those. I mean some people enjoy getting drunk and getting lost in the reverie induced by alcohol. Some like the idea of eating the most exquisite things that they can put on the plate. Some like to merely showoff the company they keep. In my case, what excites me is the opportunity to talk to people that are, well, interesting.

Interesting is an interesting word. I don’t have a definition for this. Just that these people are the ones that are different from the inside. When you look at them, they could be the most regular ones that you may ever know – you know, look and feel like regular people with boring clothes, drab jobs, sleepy routines. But they have stories that remain untold most times. Not for the want of storytellers or the occasions to tell those stories. But because these stories don’t travel far and wide!

And why don’t these travel?

Well, first, these stories are often told in closed circles. I mean why would a banker who retired at 40 tell the world about how he fleeced his bank and amassed a fortune that has allowed him to make a home at Goa.

Second these stories are told to people that are not natural storytellers. No, I am not saying I am one.

Just that stories need to be passed on.
And they are!
But mostly orally. Sometimes, in written shape. Rarely on film.

They have to be passed on, lest they get killed. I suspect that more stories get killed for the lack of a medium than anything else.

Side note. I think my work at Podium and as a writer could be to tell these stories. These stories, if told well, could inspire the listeners, readers, and others. These stories could make the Kumbhkaran wake from his slumber. You know people like Humans of NY and all that? They tell stories of non-fancy people and ensure those are archived for posterity and all that. And in doing so, they allow the world at large to hear these stories and get inspired and probably ink their own!

That!

I’ve often lamented that I would like to inspire the world. I want to make them see their potential. I want to make those people look forward to their lives, even though life may be meaningless in the grand scheme of things. But I want to. I want to stand for opportunity. And I thought that that the easiest way to do so could be the role model that they could look up to. You know, if Saurabh can, why can’t I kinds?

The trouble of course is that I need to do well for myself. And I know I have tried and failed at it. Multiple times. So not sure.

But, what I can do is, gather these stories. Tell them. And try to send them to more places in the world than the micro-plastic particles have reached. You know, to the deepest trenches in the ocean and the highest point in our atmosphere!

Ok, coming back to why these stories don’t travel, the third reason is all the social media and content revolution clutter. Everyone has discovered the power of a search engine and storyfying what they do. They even say that any company that needs to survive in the times to come has to tell their story more than they hawk their wares. And this means that there are more stories than people. And often these stories are made-up, uninteresting, car-salesmen-ly and more. And in all this noise, the signal gets lost! So that!

Next, I think telling a good story takes a heck of a lot of time. And that means you can only tell so many. I mean if I could meet one interesting person daily, even then I won’t be able to tell a million stories. Ok, not a million. Let’s say 100. Let’s say I want to tell a hundred fascinating stories of people that are seemingly commonplace, how much time would I take? I am guessing I would need atleast 3 years to do so if I do it full-time and with all earnestness.

Do I have the luxury of 3 years? I don’t know.
Do I want to tell these 100 stories? HELL YEAH! Why 100? I’d love to tell a thou, a lakh, a million. Tell so many of these that when people are seeking inspiration, they just hop onto these stories and they go back inspired! No, I am not talking inspiration in the TED Talks inspiration manner where they share ideas. I am talking about humanizing people and talk about our frailty, our perseverance, our grit, our most irrational actions, most “immoral” thoughts, things that chase convention. Things that need to be told and heard and all that.

How do I even get started?
May be by taking up the challenge to tell stories of the 100 most interesting people I know?

What do you think?

– SG
14 Dec 2020
Baga, Goa

PS, when I did a grammar check on Grammarly, it told me that I was sounding worried! Lol!

Day 3. 13 Dec 2020.

Third day of writing Morning Pages. Not happy with the output and thus not sure if I want anyone to read this.

The third day of doing morning pages. The third day of not knowing what to write but dumping my thoughts. Lemme try and write about yesterday. So it was going to be a day of break where I do not work and just meet others. I had lined up a few meetings with some new people. It started fine with me reading Julia’s book a bit. A friend was to come pick me up but she got stuck and I was left without a ride. Or a plan. Then she arranged for someone else to pick me. But that car broke as well! Beat it!

Had to help fix these two cars. Which is ok.
Had to cancel the meetings. Which is not ok.

Was so fried with the day that I just went back and slept and canceled on dinner plans with some people.

What I did do, while I was helping to fix these cars, is to realize that life in Goa is not the kind that you imagine from books and films and all. You expect an idyllic house with lakes and trees and a gentle breeze and all that. But the actual houses are literally teeming with wildlife and in per square inch of space, there are more insects and crawlers than you have hair in the densest part of your brain. Another friend had told me about this but I had discarded that when I first heard. I thought he was exaggerating. But when I saw it in real life, I knew he wasn’t. May be I am not made for retiring in such semi-commercial places?

Anyhow retirement is like 100 years away. Let’s see where I end up when that happens.

In terms of work, of course, I did not do anything because I was not supposed to work. And that is the second thing that is clouding my head. I need to see action. I need to things moving. I need to see progress. And since I did not work, I do not have that.

The other thing that I realized is that I am dependant on my laptop to get things done. Or even to give myself even a notion that I have worked. The day I don’t spend time on my laptop, I feel I have wasted that day. Of course, I may not have. But the notion needs to change! I need to break from that habit and get more involved with mobile devices.


So this is what Julia means when she says that your morning pages would resemble shit! I mean I was glancing through this and I realized that most things I’ve written here are useless and I can not see how these would aid my creativity. However, like all new endeavors, I am willing to carry on and let’s see where it goes.

Today was day 3. Will do 30 at least and see where I end up. Just that this is becoming a journal and while journals help people get back their sanity, not sure if this is for me.

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.

Hello, Morning Pages (Day 1)

Say hello to a new project, this one hopefully will last a lifetime.

Read on.

I just started reading The Artists Way by Julia Cameron (buy at Amazon) and one of the things she says an artist must do is write three pages every day in the morning.

These three pages don’t need to be publishing quality prose and can be as simple as an unfiltered stream of thoughts that is not meant to be seen by anyone. And these are not related to any project that you are on. This is just penning whatever comes to your head. You know, brain vomits. Heck, she even says that you don’t have to publish this. She says that this exercise is like a meditative trance that you put yourself into, just that the object that you focus on is the words that come out of your head (and not breadth in most other meditative practices).

I think there is merit in doing this. My best work has happened when I have been regular. When I have been showing up without any expectation or an agenda. Even TNKS happened when I was writing every day on my blog and one of the posts couldn’t seem to end!

However, the thing with such projects is that I tend to lose interest after a bit. I don’t want to lose interest with this one. Writing is THAT important to me! May be I can appoint a few monitors? Say Vivek. Or Arti. Or Krishna. The day I don’t post this in the first half (that’s the point of the morning pages), I would consider it default and I would get penalized for it. Say 1000 bucks for each day I miss? And yeah, I ought to do this even if I am traveling. If I am alive, I need to write a morning page. How about that?

Of course, there would be days when I know I won’t be able to write. If I inform these people at least a day prior, I can take a break.

The more I think about it, the more I think that the idea at some level is similar to what Naval says about 60 minutes of meditation every day. He advocates sitting idle and letting your thoughts run amok. Julia asks us to write. In both, I think the key tenets are a daily routine, flushing your head off whatever is clouding it, and spending time with self.

Oh, by the way, Julia says asks us that these morning pages don’t have to be shared per se. But you know me. How can I do something and not drum about it to the world?

Now, as a reader that may want to read these, here are some “rules” that I want to put forth.

  1. These would be my unedited, unfiltered thoughts. And thus could be happy, sad, cribby, ranty, boring, interesting, etc.
  2. I will NOT correct typos on this one. May become an eye-sore for you as a reader but that’s that.
  3. I will endeavor to write 1000 words every day, give or take. Or write for 30 minutes. I know it’s a lot but let’s see how many I get in.
  4. Some days when I don’t have a computer with me, I will write with pen and paper and I will take a picture and upload it to this blog as and when I get time. May be I’ll write on the phone. If not even that, I will do a voice note. Something will happen for sure.
  5. I will not focus on paraphernalia around writing on WordPress. So, no tags, no SEO optimization etc.

So yeah. Morning Pages.

Today was day 1. Lets see how many days I do this.


PS: You know how things that you seek find you? That!

I spotted someone reading this book at a Starbucks and at a whim I ordered it. I am about 50 pages in and so far I like it. I can see myself recommending the book to others.

PPS: When I read the first few pages, I see that Julia talks about writing and creativity being spiritual practices and she connects it to God. As a non-believer, I was tempted to dismiss the idea and discard the book. But the struggling writer in me wanted to continue. So I did. I see value in what she says and I am reading the book assuming that God is the teacher and spirituality is the routine that we need to create.

PPPS: Writing on WordPress in these blocks is a pain. But I will find a workaround.

PPPPS: I realized I am happy when I am writing. Even if what I write is not read by anyone around. This post is giving me kicks that a beach is not. Guess I am the happiest when I create. I don’t know why. But I am. So, may be, in life, I need to be a creationist even though I don’t want to create any babies per se. M&m is more than enough!