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.
In this one, I have a heart-to-heart chat with myself. About things that I’ve been thinking about subconsciously. Do read and lemme know what you think.
Not in the best shape rn. I slept at around 2. Had some coke (real, not Diet) and a bucket full of McD fries at around midnight. Two large Americanos just before that. And don’t know what else crap during the day. In fact, I felt so unwell, so full yesterday since the morning that I had to sleep it off. And all this, when I have sort of, managed OMAD for three-four days. In fact, as I type this, I am hungry and I just want to eat all there is in the world.
Damn damn. Need to figure out this soon.
Ok. On to morning pages. Today’s a tad different. Most things I am writing today are from notes that I made last night when I was trying to sleep. I did not plan to make notes per see but them thoughts when I was fucked in the head had to be captured. They couldn’t remain fleeting. I know this is like cheating. The idea of morning pages is to write about what am thinking once I wake up. And use notes from the previous night. But these had to be captured. I think I will make an exception this one time.
Oh, before we do that, here’s the track am tripping on since last night…
In bullet points, I want to talk of following. While elaborate on each as I go along.
Love public places
Rethinking the idea of a home.
Love for the sky
Here we go…
a. Love for nights.
Last night, I was working from an McD. While coming back, I was on a scooty and the roads were empty, except for the ones looking for parties. And escape. And I realized that I love the idea of nights. The world has sort of retired to their bedrooms and you are out there. Out and about. Doing your thing. Could be ground-breaking work. Could be something inane. The roads are empty. The weather’s better. The only others to keep you company are young lovers, paddlers of “sin”, others of your ilk that want to do more with their lives. That’s all. All three are the ones that need to be celebrated more than anyone else. The ones that burn the midnight oil are the ones that do crazy things.
And yeah, the world needs more crazy. I need more crazy.
Sadly, because I chase longevity, I try to follow the sun with my routine. I wish I could do otherwise. I wish I could stay up till late (like I have always done since I was a child) and yet remain alert, healthy, active, and all that.
b. Love for public places.
I love public places. Like Mcd. Starbucks. NickyM’s. Co-working spaces. Lounges. Hotels. And more. Especially if they are comfortable. I just can’t do home. I will talk more about the home in a bit. I have to be out and about. With others around me. Others could be my people. Or strangers. But others. The lockdown made me realize that I could stay alone in a house if I had to, as long as I have the Internet :D. I can even live on a secluded island.
But given an option, I would like to be in a public place. Literally live in a public place. Even if I am an introvert. I thus need to ensure that whatever I do, I have access to some interesting public places that are welcoming. And are comfortable. #note2self
The third L in the row. So yesterday was crazy. I had a bad day. I was sort of unwell. I was on the roads late at night by myself. And I felt lonely. I think I felt like this after quite a few days. Most times I can keep myself a great company. I am ok to be alone. I never understood the idea of solo travel but I have been able to live by myself.
When I talk of loneliness, I don’t mean friends or relatives or spouse or even this blog. I mean someone that I could be with that did not need explanations, someone that’s easy going. You know, someone that is non-judgemental. Someone that fans my fire. Yes yes, all these are typically rolled into one in your friends or spouse. I am super lucky to have great friends all my life. My romantic relationships have been rocky but I can not complain – it was me more often than not. The loneliness that I felt yesterday was of a different kind. You know, I wish I had another set of people (apart from friends, family, romantic partners, business partners etc). Not forever. But temporarily. You know, like you goto a staycation even when you have a home right next to you. How you goto a bar and get drunk. Bars are non-judgemental af. Must write more about them. How you goto those temporary relationships where you see physical comfort.
Fuck! Epiphany. This is EXACTLY(!) what my characters have been seeking at Caravan Serai!
FUCK FUCK FUCK! What a discovery! Caravan Serai (my next book) is about people that are seeking a temporary escape from their existing lives! And want a life that is different from the ones they’ve lived so far! The damn Caravan Serai is exactly that. A temporary resting place as you make your way from point a to point b. I need my own Caravan Serai. Most people find it in alcohol, casinos, drugs extra-marital affairs, and more. Need to find what is my poison. And then convince me that I ought to take it! This was nice! I have this mile-wide smile on my face. The first real one in more than a few days.
d. Rethinking the idea of a ‘home’.
I’ve been in Goa for a few days now. I am living out of a suitcase. The good part is that since I am not meeting any work-related people, I can wear whatever. So that helps.
What is home? A place where you can sleep naked on the floor? Where I can prop up my feet on a fancy table? A place where I can get away from societal norms? A place where you remember what button switches on what appliance? A place where you hang paintings that you like without having to seek permission? A place that you come back to after you’ve had enough at work or at a Caravan Serai? A place that allows me to get into a comfortable place in my head?
I’ve been rethinking the idea of home. Can I live out of a suitcase for good? I have not missed the things that I have in Delhi or Mumbai houses since I’ve come here. I have always attached so much emotion to the writing table, the books, the guitar, the notes that I have taken over the years. Heck, I don’t remember things that I have stored in Mumbai. When I go back, I will make so many serendipitous discoveries. That would be nice. Ok, I digressed. Back.
I know that for a lot of people these things mean a lot. These objects are very important. But for me, these don’t mean a thing. And if the last few weeks are anything to go by, like I said, I haven’t missed them a bit.
Can I thus become a minimalist nomad? Is it sustainable with my parents growing older and needing care (not to say they need it. They are very independent and I am grateful for that)? How would I fund this nomadism? What about my quirks? Whims? I don’t like to live with others (friends etc). I need my own space. Even if my best friend lived in a certain city, I like to stay in a hotel. I have to have my space. As a digital nomad, this is not possible – I will have to manage with whatever I get.
And what if, at some point in time, I do want to “settle down”? Do I then create a home?
e. Moving things.
This is important to me. I love the idea of creating movement. Since the pandemic, my ability to create this movement has stalled.
Wait. What do I mean by moving things? Creating movement?
I don’t have a definition but in a broad sense, by creating movement, I mean nudging people to take action on things that I feel are going to fulfill them. I like the idea of seeding new ideas. They may or may not fructify. I love trying new things. I love tinkering and putting new things out there in the world. I like the idea of millions of side projects, side hustles. Not to make money per see. But to see what is possible. You know, lift rocks to see what comes from underneath. Ask questions. Scratch the itch. Get curious. Ask questions. Move things. Get the drift?
Last night, it dawned onto me that since I’ve come to Goa, I’ve caused any movement anywhere. I’ve been working on all the existing things but no new movement has happened. I mean I did think about Shumbur.com but that’s not proving to be easy at all to execute.
This movement is what I need in life. I don’t know what is it about Goa that I am unable to move things. Need to investigate more.
f. The Morning Hour.
So I realized that I need a couple of hours to myself before I start the day. I often get late in waking up and then I am rushing to catch meetings. There was a time where I could dictate terms with how I would spend my time. Lately, I am unable to. And that’s causing my random anguish.
In fact, I think the inability of moving things is because I dont have this morning hour for myself anymore. I dont feel equipped to take on the world unless I have had this hour to myself. No, I dont mean that I need to meditate or write or whatever. I like the idea of control and plan and I want to just think about how I want to spend the day.
In fact, I have found that if I dont plan my time in the morning, I miss deadlines. A lot. So that has to become sacrosanct all over again.
Will action from today on. After this morning pages is done, will spend time planning things. And will not move on anything.
Oh, the other realisation, as I was editing this is that I need to find an office or something for me fast if I have to work better. I do my best work when I am following a predictable routine. And there’s no place like an office to do that.
Of course I’ve been thinking a lot about work lately. I cant seem to pin point where I want to head next. There are projects that I want to deliver (help TRS, PPP etc break even, finish book2, run a marathon etc), these dont run the economic engine that I need to sustain the life that I want to live.
I know everyone has had a terrible year but the terribility or non-terribility of their year does not pay my bills. So while it’s good to compare and seek solace in collective fuckery, I need to look out for myself. And the ones I am responsible for.
I need to get this sorted fast. Before shit hits the roof. If it hasnt already.
h. Love for the sky.
Lately, my Instagram feed has sort of got fucked. They are terrible pictures. They tell no story. They are not even ordinary. They are bad. However, I realized yesterday that I love skies. Open, wide, in all hues. In all colors. The last few posts have had the skies dotting the, well, skyline of the photos.
I never realized that I was the kind. But now I think, it’s evident. I think I even wrote in #tnks that Rujuta’s complaint with Mumbai was that she got no sky per se. I think that’s why I love high-rises – they sort of touch the sky. I love when am on a plane – public place, in the sky. What else do you want?
So that. No action point. Just wanted to report that I love the sky ;P
And yes, I will work harder to fix the insta feed!
So this is it. For today’s morning pages. I know this is different. But that’s ok. My morning pages. My blog. Ma lyf, mah rulez.
Phew. This was nice and intense. I need to move these to Roam during the day.
Onto #freewriting for #book2. It’s 8:10. I will stop at 8:30.
First time Rujuta saw a snake slither around on road, she was creeped beyond imagination. She had seen her stuff of wild, bloody, gory things but creepers were not her cup of tea. The cabbie looked at the obvious discomfort that Rujuta was in. He chuckled, “Madam, we call Goa a snake country.”
Rujuta looked at him with a questioning eye.
“Snakes are more commonplace here than what stray dogs are. In fact, during monsoons, you’d probably see more snakes on the roads than them tourists that anyway worse than the snakes”, the cabbie laughed at what he thought was a great joke.
“No way”, Rujuta muttered to herself.
“But don’t worry ma’am. They are mostly harmless. Even if they are poisonous, we don’t really get too many cases of people dying of snake bites. Dogs can be a problem though!” He clearly wanted to chat. Rujuta was his first ride of the day and he was expecting a fat tip if he went by experience. He had judged Rujuta from her clothes and could make out that she was a wife of a banker or something and is in Goa to chill with her buddies from her kitty. She was even going to the hotel that was most frequented by these fancy trophy wives, the Taj on top of the Aguada.
Rujuta had remained silent.
He pushed on but wanted to be cautious as well. The first ride of the day set the tone for how his day was going to go. “Are you here by yourself?”
Rujuta did not want to get into a conversation. She merely nodded. She was seated next to the driver. The cabbie had found this little awkward but he dismissed it as a quirk of a rich housewife. Rujuta and Prakash had many arguments over where to sit. Often she would do it only to rile up Prakash and even though he was now gone, she continued to favor the seat. She liked to see the road up ahead and getting into a reverie. This was her trance. Her meditation. her thinking tool.
She anyway had a lot on her mind. The trip to Goa was anyway an unplanned one. Tarana was insistent that she go travel. It’s been almost 5 years since Prakash was gone. Rujuta had immersed herself into the world of colors and paints and boxed herself in her 2 bedroom apartment. Thankfully she did not have any fancy expenses per se and thus she didn’t have to work.
Tarana had found some local boy and got him to book a ticket for Rujuta. The boy even got the name wrong on the ticket. Tarana did not know that it could be a problem when Rujuta would board the flight. But the ticket it was. To Goa. The place that Tarana thought everyone from Mumbai went for a holiday. The boy had told her that Lonavala and Alibaug and Matheran were too common.
Rujuta did not want to make a trip but this was a rare occasion when Tarana had actually booked a flight for her. She couldn’t say no. Rujuta booked herself in the hotel for a couple of nights. She had planned to decide on what to do next once she landed in Goa.
That’s it for the day. Hope you have a great one.
In this one, I have a heart-to-heart chat with myself about things that I’ve been thinking about at a subconscious level Do read, if you can.
PS: I’ve been writing this daily update, every morning for a few days now. I send the link to a few friends and family on Whatsapp every day. Should you want to receive the link to these updates, do let me know and I will add you to the list.