170221 – Morning Pages

A longish post where I have dumped all that is clouding my head. I talk about Mumbai, Goa, Money, Work, Shah Rukh Khan and more!

7:43 AM.

Am at a Starbucks. The Powai one. This is where I wrote most of #tnks from way back in 2013. Or was it 2014? Whatever it was. I used to love the early morning grinds (this one opens at 7 AM) and flurry of words that would come out. Truth be told, I miss it. I mean I still live a tiny hop away from Starbucks (4 of them!) but for some reason, the one at Powai feels like home. Things have changed – your know, ambiance, people, staff partners, what I do in life but for some reason, the Powai Starbucks feels like home!

So, the morning pages. I have quite a few things to dump on paper. I am not sure if I would have the time. I have a LOOOOOOOOoooot of things to work on. Actually, lemme start with that.

Work. So thanks to COVID and the general fuckery with which I live my life, I am struggling to make ends meet (no wonder! Mr. Garg, you are wasting 500 bucks on average coffee, you dumb-wit!) and as a result, I took on everything that came my way. Most of these things are where I need to create make. And that means I am left with very little time or energy to do things. And that means I am unable to make things move. Remember what I spoke about movement the other day? And what Sheba told me as well? That!

So, I need to find more work where I am paid well for being a mere manager. You know, not invest a lot of time and get paid for experience and expertise. Right now, I am slugging it out like a modern slave. I am paid for my time. I exchange money for time. I am not getting rich while I sleep. The hourly rate that I charge can continue to go up but at the end of the day, I am paid for the hours that I put in! And that has to change. Naval has talked about this so many times that it’s impossible to miss it. I just need to find a way to get to a point where I no longer need to charge for my time. So, that.

This is also related to what PG has been saying for years – Maker and Manager. PS: PG is probably the best essayist that we have on the Interner right now. Do read his stuff. Gold.

So that’s first thing I need to work on. Someone, help me please!

Moving on. So this trip to Mumbai (wow, did I say this trip to Mumbai?), I have been indulging – you know, watching TV, spending money and all that. And you know what I realized? I like love to spend money. The only pair of shorts I have, it was housing dirt and muck and I don’t know what else from at least 3 months. And since I don’t have a washing machine or help or even the time to let it dry after I wash it, I had to buy another one. I bought the exact same one and I loved the feeling of swiping my card on a machine at an almost fancy store (Marks and Spencer). And I am wearing it today. And I feel good about it. In fact, I was out with a friend last night (well, thug life) and while talking both she and I agreed on the following relationship between money and happiness. I call these ‘SG’s Rules of Scarcity or Abundance of Money‘. These are not really my original thoughts but a mere articulation of what I’ve read and what I understand about it.

Here we go…

  1. While money may not buy you happiness, it definitely makes your life comfortable. If you are indeed sad, you’re better off being sad in the comfort of your plush home (or the backseat of a Merc) than being sad at a place that doesn’t offer you any privacy. You know, in shared accommodations, large families, Internet (lol!), etc.
  2. While money may or may not make you happy, not having money will definitely make you sad. I am the biggest living, breathing, moving, thinking testimony of this. I operate at my best when I am comfortable.
  3. Money gives you the freedom to do what you want to do. And this ability (or inability) to do things that you want to is often is the root cause of happiness (or sadness).
  4. Money allows you to control your time. You become the master of your time and this mastery is what drives happiness or sadness in large parts.

Am sure, there are more. I will write them in a separate post and publish em here. But one thing’s for sure. I love money. I love earning And I love to spend. I can’t wait for the achche din to be back. Come on, Universe!

So that’s that. The next thing? Happy Accidents. At the Starbucks, I bumped into an old acquaintance. This is what I love about places like Mumbai and Starbucks. These places allow for serendipity to happen. Plus, there is something about a hug that a Zoom can never make happen. We are social animals and while we adapt fast (and we will), at least for me, the handshakes are as important as breathing. I just hope that I am not obsoleted to a minority that still wants to meet IRL. Sigh. That’d be sad.

Once I understood the power of living at hubs, I have tried hard to find those and move there. The move to Andheri helped me like mad. If only I had some passive source of income, I would have done a lot more. Wait…

Wait.

Epiphany just happened.

I just dawned onto me that I love Mumbai WAY too much to not live here (#facepalm). Even though I don’t have anyone here that I can call my own. Even though I hate the dirt and the filth and mess and all that. Even though the place is expensive af. But I love the convenience of living in a big city. I love that I can dream here. Unlike in other cities. I like the idea that people are open. For ideas, conversations, business, work, and all that.

But then I like the idea of being a rootless bird as well. I loved the time I spent in Goa (for all the fuckery around the Internet) and I am getting serious about a cafe in Goa. I’ve made a few phone calls, have connected with a few folks, have started to do the maths! Again, I am not sure about it. I will let it simmer in my head and see where it goes.

The point is, while I was in Goa, I loved it. Now that I am in Mumbai, I love this. I am easily swayed I guess! Let’s see where I go life takes me and what I choose and what’s in store for me. To be honest, I am very very ok with the ambiguity and randomness and all that. Just that I need to be comfortable 😀

There’s one thing though that I’d like to know. How would the world change with WFH and all that? I tend to believe that places and things that thrive on IRL human connection will continue to remain in vogue. You know places like Mumbai and businesses like films. And things that do not need you to be in the same room as others, may change radically. Places like Silicon Valley and things like technology and software.

So that. Any ideas?

Before I move to the next thing, am at 9:47. Been writing for two hours now! And I still have a lot to write about! Lemme use bullets to take notes and I will probably pick these up tomorrow. And in case I don’t, at least I would send these to my Roam.

  1. SRK (who else but Shah Rukh Khan). I dont know where to start talking about him. Or where to end. He is, well, one of his kind.
  2. Met Sid Saahil from TID Podcast yesterday and shared notes. Learned that despite him coming from an affluent background, he hustles 10X harder than what AD and I engage in at Podium. We have to pull our socks. Such rude shocks are required once in a while to keep us on course. Will write a Twitter thread about the lessons from the meeting.
  3. A documentary on Aram Nagar. I was at Aram Nagar yesterday. Realized that someone needs to make a documentary about it. I mean it is as iconic a place as any and the contributions of Aram Nagar to Bollywood has been immense! I wonder why it’s not been captured so far? May be it has been, just that I haven’t seen it yet.
  4. Writing Tips. A few days ago, I started a series of writing tips. Primarily to friends that are nonwriters. Here’s the first one. You can join the no-spam, admin-posts-only WA group here.
  5. Someone asked me what was I doing when I was 31. I had no answer. When I asked her to tell me the year (I was 31 in 2013), I could remember with great clarity where I was! I always thought people operated in terms of ages but I realized I operated in years. Dunno what to make of it. I just found it interesting and amusing. Here’s a question for you. What do you remember better? Age? Years? And what were you doing when you were 11? 21? 31? 41? 51? Do tell me!
  6. Another conversation yesterday made me realise that you need to find underserved markets that could be immensely boring! Cases in point? Recruitment for young startups, digital marketing for mom and pop shops, content farms etc etc. These are really boring and non-sexy businesses and yet they deliver exceptional opportunity!

So yeah. That.

I know it’s a lot for a day. Guess this was a long time coming. Am glad that I could finally pour things out. I just need to continue with the flow and get going on #book2. And no, I am clearly not working on #book2 today either 🙁

310121 – Morning Pages

More of a journal on how I spent the day yesterday than anything else. Read if you want to. Skip if you may.

10:37. I am up since 7. I slept at 330 something. And this is not the first thing I am doing. Plus, this is not what I had planned for today (yesterday I thought that today I would write about only #book2 and nothing else, but I am not). Which is ok. Idea is to dump my thoughts in public. Plus, I wrote these notes on my phone last night and I am merely editing. Plus, I haven’t brushed my teeth. TMI? Lol!

With these few disclaimers, here we go!

So yesterday was special. And nice. I was part of the session that we at Podium did to get some startups to meet Dr. Malpani. We had a cracker of a time and I learned so so much. Here are my notes…

via @saurabh

I have to mention the great folks at Design Centre – not just they have the best Internet anywhere in Goa (the parts to where I have been), they are incredibly kind as well. They are normally shut on Saturdays but at my request, they kept space opened. I am so grateful for the kindness of strangers. Need more people like that.

Another example of kindness yesterday was when I spoke to Sheba. Sheba is a life coach, a busy one at that and yet she took out time to chat with me about things clouding my head. I can’t say I found answers but it’s uncanny that she pointed out the exact same thing that I felt stifled for. Movement. I even wrote about it a few days ago (point 5). More on it some other day (once I have processed all that Sheba and I talked about). Someone has to remind me 😀

Finally, I paid the salaries of my team. I was late by a day (I try and pay on the last working day of each month) but I did pay within the month. Had to take on another tranche of loan. But that’s ok. This is the last month I am doing so. If I dont get anything substantial, I will get a naukri. Whatever it pays me.

So that’s that.

Apart from these two few sparks, yesterday was kind of disappointing. I was supposed to fast for 48 hours. I lasted all of 25. While 25 in itself may sound like a large number, the thing is, I can do 24 easily. Without breaking a sweat. And thus, to make the task worth investing time and effort into, I had decided on a 48-hour one. But I could not.

I can blame it on all the work I needed to do and all the stress that made me break it. But come on. I am better than that. Remember Marshmallows? To make it worse, I ate at the McD. But then that was the only place where I could sit with a computer for a while and get some work done (remember I was up till 330?). Of course, I could’ve worked from Rajesh sir’s place but I need some action around me when I work. I need people, movement, activity, non-descript chatter, and all that. I need a public place. I can’t work from home. Even if I have the fanciest home in the world!

Lemme tell you another story.

When they eventually shut at 3 and I was on my way back, I passed by this road-side thela selling Maggi. On some random hunch, I took a U-turn. Asked the old man and the woman (she looked like his wife) manning the thela to make me an anda-Maggi. Nah, it was nothing to write home about, to be honest, but while I waited for them to prepare my order, a few things dawned onto me. Lemme try to articulate those.

The poverty and contentment. The anda-Maggi cost me 80 bucks. Their direct input cost is at least 30 (Maggi + Eggs), just for the raw material. Then there is consumables (salt, pepper, gas etc), regular expenses (packing material, water, electricity etc), capital investment (the thela, pans, pots, spatula, etc), and of course miscellaneous expenses (bribes, cartage, etc). I am not even talking about the money that they’d charge for their time. I am not sure if what they run is a profitable business. But the two of them looked in peace in the company of each other. They were smiling at some inside jokes, gossiping about what I am assuming are other local fixtures, and of course, trying their best at my order. They were content in their poverty (I am assuming, of course).

The company is the reward. For them, it looked like that all that mattered was the company of each other. And the order they were working on. And that’s that. They did not seem perturbed by the farmer’s protest, COVID-19 crisis, drunks falling over each other on the main road where their thela is, the latest Kapoor to have got onto Insta or ever what day it was. Compare to me. I have so much happening in my life that I don’t even know where to start the list from.

The love, camaraderie, togetherness. I loved their camraderie. Their togetherness. Their compassionable silence. I hope they stay like that forever.

Oh, they made an epiphany happen. They made me realize something about myself (something that I probably knew deep down but never admitted). That I crave for company. I may be the biggest introvert and I may be trying to live in public but I need company. And I need physical intimacy. No, I am not talking about sex per se. I want to be able to hug others. Touch them. Feel their handshakes. Smell them. See their frailty, ogle at their smiles, pull their legs. In real life. All this. And more. With my people. Not with strangers. Not with those one-night stands. Not with acquaintances. Not with all the random junta that I know. Even though I want to know everyone and their nani-nana and dadi-dada. I have to be physically around my people. And I am anything but that. My parents are in Delhi. SG2 is like saat samandar paar. We as a family are anyway not really touchy-feely. M&m are all grown up now and have started to find other people that they find cooler. The lesser I say about my love life, the better it is. Most friends that I want to hang out with seem to have become richer and cooler to continue to hang out with (no they don’t discriminate per se but their choices in life when they want to hang out? You know, places to eat at, places to travel, kind of activities they want to do? I can’t afford those. Neither do I understand them). So that. The ones that I can still access seem so ignorant to what’s happening around us (the world at large) that I cant seem to hold conversations with them.

So, I crave for company. For the reader – this is NOT a cry for help or for showering me with unwarranted attention. This is merely my thoughts. I may or may not want to act on these.

May be this is what growing old is all about? When parents told me that you’d start needing people when you are old, may be this is it? Guess so.

Also, being in Goa is not helping matters either. People are nice but they are not my people. And I take time before someone becomes my people. Plus the recent incident at the podcast has sort of shook my value system when it comes to adding people in my life.

Nah, if I were in Delhi or Mumbai, I don’t think I could help matters either. It’s a battle that I need to fight and tide over. Maybe I need to borrow Sheldon’s playbook where even the coitus with his girlfriend / wife was planned via a relationship agreement!

As I write this, I realise that most times I dont feel this need of company. There’s enough and more work that doesnt allow me to even breathe, leave alone feel lonely. Plus the never-ending search for Internet is Goa makes even work an adventure. Yesterday, if not for that old couple, I’ll try to click a picture of them, I probably wouldn’t stare at the moon and the empty road and think of all these things!

Phew! That was heavy!

So here’s something cool. My new favorite track? This.

A mashup between Shaggy and Sting. Love the groove of the track. Would love to write a track like that. Damn, there are so many things that I want to work on. To write on. On life!

So yeah.

This is it for the day.

No, no book2 today either. Too grumpy, too stuffed in the head to do anything. Guess it’s the lack of sleep and lack of movement and lack of intimacy. Lol!

120121 – Morning Pages

I talk about the two kinds of people – the one that want to stay with their families and the ones that leave the safe havens behind.

7:51 AM
This one would be short, I have to be somewhere. I have till 8:30 to write this.

I slept fitfully (guess that’s cos all the coffee I had?) but I did have a dream. That I can remember. Been a while since I had one of those. About Lucky Ali. And Rabbi Shergill. Both rolled into one artist. I somehow track this hybrid artist down and get to spend time with him and talk to him about all his friends from the past. It’s funny that I created an artist that’s the combination of these two. In that chat, this new artist mentioned KJ Paji, Vishal Bhardwaj, and another one that’s lost forever. Funny are the ways of life!

So, apart from this, yesterday was an eventful day. Among the most exciting things to have happened is that I found some money on a random hill near Baga. This is the second time this year that I have found money on the road. Like the one I spotted on the 1st of this year, even this one was uncanny. I was on a random hill, in almost pitch-dark (save for the glow from a mobile phone). Are these the signs of the tide turning? I even got a call from a placement consultant about a potential role. Again, something that hasn’t happened in a while! Yay!

Of course, I fucked my system by eating Maggi, Fried Rice, Ajinomoto (:D), and our old nemesis, Diet Coke. I have to say, I love eating. Thing is, I love eating things that I love anyway. I am not much for experimenting with food. If I were the kinds to have a great metabolism, I would love to eat Dal Makhani every day. I’ll probably eat Maggi often. I love the crisps like a man possessed. But then, all these are foods that are “rich” in complex carbs and oils and I don’t know what all. Need to stop with these.

The other thing that I did yesterday and I have to talk about this evening I spent with some locals. Well, local not as in someone from Goa but someone who’s been working here for over 5 years. The dude has been around and had his family back home.

So he took me to this rock beyond Baga that most people just ignore. It’s a 5-minute hike from the hustle and bustle and once you are there, all you see is darkness all around you. Except for this restaurant (called Tulum, is romantic af) on a rock, in the middle of nowhere, and the Baga-Calangute-Candolim shoreline (the way you’d see from a boat in the sea). Neither the photos nor the words I use would do justice to the sight I had access to. I am recommending the spot to everyone I know for when they come to Baga. Some may romanticize the idea, some may balk at the trek but it is worth a visit. It is THE IDEAL example of a place that I had ever imagined in my head. In an earshot to civilization. Secluded. Offers a bird’s eye view. You know the kinds you get from a high-rise? This is just high-far from the shore. I’d love to make it my home if I could!

Tulum, Baga
Baga Calngute Shoerline

The thing that I want to think out loud about is that when I spoke to this person, the “local” from Goa, he talked about how life in Goa is good and not good at the same time. From the perspective of someone who works here. He talked about how he’s the only one from his family that has to miss his family functions. When the entire world is partying (around Diwali, New Year, Summer Vacations etc), he’s hard at work. He then took me to a place where the locals eat (cheap food, BYOB etc) and there we had few waiters that were from North-East. Again, hardworking boys. Quick on their feet. Good service. But inherent sadness in how they moved. The owner of the place seemed like a kind man but guess the sadness is of being away from their loved ones.

I think the world has two kinds of people.

One, where family, neighbors, friends, community, etc become everything that they stand for. They are content with less. When I say less I do not want to undermine their work or achievement. I am merely suggesting that they would put their family and relatives over anything material. And there’s nothing wrong with the choice they are making. Their life. Their choice. But at least till the time they are alive, they get to give peace, comfort, happiness to the ones around them. They become the rock of their structures and they add to the fabric of their cultures and societies.

And the second, like me, where the family is important, relationships are important but more important is the dent we make. And for that, we are willing to leave behind everything. Some of us get to make the dent and go down the history books. Some of us don’t and die in anonymity. But most times what we do impact a larger number of people than the type one. Again, I am not glorifying people like me. I am merely postulating.

Look at Elon. Bill. Steve. Jeff. They probably left their families for a long-time to be able to do what they’ve done.

Of course, the best option is to be able to do both one and two. And the odds of that happening is rare and takes a while before that happens. Except for some freak incidents where you are lucky and you find a vocation while you are with your family. For the large part, you need to assume that you will have to make a choice. And once you do that, you better stick to it.

So, it is imperative for us to understand who we are and what side are we on. Once that clarity happens in the head, I think things fall in place and life seems to start making sense. In my case, I know what side I am on. What side are you on?

And that I think is the message, note of the day. What do you think?

Oh, no #freewriting for #book2 today. Not right now at least. May be during the day. If that, I will add to this post. And if not, see you guys tom!

May you live in interesting times!

A rant on how “interesting” the 5th day of ’30 minutes of writing for 30 days’ project was. Read at peril.

This is the 5th day of this new project where I try and write every day for 30 minutes. As I start writing this, it is 11:17 PM (ended at 11:54 – well over 30) and I don’t have a lot of time (have some work) and thus I may not get 30 minutes under the belt. Plus, what I have to say is anyway not going to take much. So let’s see.

Today was an “interesting” day. For a lot of reasons. Lemme see if I can describe the reasons for interestingness in an interesting manner so as to do justice to the grandeur of this day.

A. The Helping Hand

For starters, three different people asked me to help them today.

One wanted help on writing, second on managing time, and third on reaching his life purpose. I know these three people from three different circles (one from MDI, second from Twitter, and third from work). Each lives in a different city.

And yet each of these people thought that I could help them with their respective predicaments.

While I am not sure I can help them, but I am glad to know that people have started to recognize me as someone they could reach out to when they need help. This is definitely a step in the direction of my #lifeGoal! So, yay!

B. The Good and The Bad and The Resolve

I have recently picked a few gigs where I am giving away fixed hours in exchange for money (counter-intuitive to every advice that I have ever held dear about how to get rich). And even though its not even been a month, I can clearly see why its a bad idea. And why its a good idea. Lemme elaborate.

Bad

I believe life is far larger and far meaningful than wasting time by doing things that don’t matter (to you!). Such as, wasting an entire day at an office, only to pick a laptop! And spending your night, working on a presentation that did not require any urgency per se.

Good

I had to pick these gigs cos the work that gave me the money to live a fairly good life? That has dried up (thank you, COVID. And thank you, SG for some really stupid decisions). And if I did not have these “stable” businesses wanting to hire explorers like me, we’d die hungry.

And I also appreciate that there may be people that like the idea of “stable” work that sucks their soul, in exchange for money that allows them to experience grand things in life on the weekends. Even though it is not for me, it’s not a bad tradeoff if you ask me.

So yeah, bad and good.

The resolve?

Well, I promise that I will get back to a point where I work for anyone but myself. The way things are, I don’t think that will happen before a year and each day in the year would be, well, interesting. I’d ideally love to run away from it as fast as a rat runs away from a ship that has hit an iceberg!

But I promise to myself that I would stay for at least a year (if not more). And I will use each “interesting” day to make my resolve stronger. And my hustler, harder. All in hopes that I don’t ever have to see these interesting times again.

C. The Notches

I wore denims and a formal shirt and sports shoes. My typical work attire. Or any formal occasion attire for that matter. And while I did that, I also wore a belt and I realised that I have put on so much weight that I need to add a notch on the belt.

While I should be gunning for removing notches from the belt, here I am, growing (quite literally) in the other direction. When this lockdown thingy started, I had resolved (where did I hear this word recently?) to lose weight, learn guitar, finish #book2 and I dont know what else. Of all the goals, I was fairly confident of losing weight. After all, I am not a foodie. Wait, lemme munch onto this Egg Roll that I just ordered. So, yeah, I am not a foodie and I could have lost weight but I put on weight! And I need to do something about it.

That’s it. That’s the third part. Nothing more. Nothing less. A reminder to self that I need to lose weight.

***

So yeah. This is for the post of the day. A ranty one. But at least I shipped. After all, real artists ship! Even on interesting days.

PS: If someone wishes you that “may you live in interesting times“, you now know what to do. Don’t you?

This is part of the ’30 posts in 30 days’ project. This was Day 5. Other posts are at 301031100111, 0211