270121 – Morning Pages

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

6:25.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Fuck!

Back to the incidents of yesterday.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Really.

Three. Pale Blue Dot.

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

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

– Carl Sagan
Pale Blue Dot. Carl Sagan.

So that’s that.

I think I am done for the day.

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

And no, there’s book2 today.

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

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

Of course, I hope tomorrow is better.

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

Over and out.

130121 – Morning Pages

Conversations with friends and strangers. About Ikigai, writing, life purpose, success, failure, and more. Oh, and scarcity of time!

7:22. This one should be ok (unlike the last one). I have no pressing agendas today. Just the way I like it!

I think these morning pages have found a rhythm. I talk about what I did the previous day. Pick on a thing from what I spoke about. And then try to think more about it, while I write. And then I write a para for book2. The entire thing takes me about an hour and it is enough to put me in a good mood, to be honest, even if I wake up with a shitty one. In fact, as I type this, I have a smile on my face.

So, lately, I have found comfort in music from Suits. People have made a playlist of tracks from Suits and even though I don’t understand half of those, I love em. In fact, I have been discovering new music here in Goa. Like the other day at a hotel, I heard this track called Jerusalema. Since it was playing on a shitty speaker, I thought it was in Hindi (really) and even when I put my head to it, I could not make it out. And when I Shazam-ed, I realized that it’s in one of African languages!

The other thing was that I got to meet Karl yesterday. He’s been one of those that I look up to in life. He had a couple of interesting things to say about things that I thought i had a deep understanding of.

A, Ikigai. You know, the Japanese concept that helps you find purpose? I thought I knew where I want to (which is to enable and inspire others with what I do and create opportunities for them) but when I was talking to him, I realized that I need to sharpen this. My notions are idealistic (something Rashi also tells me all the time) and are not practical at all. He said (and I agree) that no one would pay me to inspire them unless I become a motivational speaker or something. My personality is anything but that! So, need to think more about that.

B, On account planning and strategy. He said that as a planner you have to get into execution as often you get sucked into Blue Ocean thinking and you don’t know shit about how your strategy is translating into actual work. This is very similar to being a management consultant where you don’t have any skin in the game. Now, I want to be anything but that. So, next time I get a gig, I will try and be a part of actual execution and implementation as well. This is a very very important lesson for me. #sgP1.

The other unintended consequence of my chat with him was that I read that Gaurav Jani passed away last year. I did not know him at all and to be honest, his passing was more news to me than a personal setback. But he has been one of those people that I have been incredibly inspired by since I can remember. When I was young, he did something that I would have, well, killed for. He rode to Ladakh on a bike and made a film about that. All solo. I mean imagine taking shots of your bike, all by yourself. How’d you even do it? And he did all this way back in 2006 when all this was not even known, let alone be cool. Plus there was no ubiquitous Internet, phones, mounts, cameras. I cant even imagine how’d he charge batteries and all that. The dude must have been another level shit.

Lesson? Time is a bitch. You gotta do things now. Err on the side of action. #lifeTheme!

Moving on. On another work call, where I was giving my opinion on how things ought to happen, I was asked to shut cos what I said was in direct contrast to what apparently Kunal Shah, the grand-daddy of all start-ups folks in India, had said. A, if he has said what he apparently said, he needs to be taught. B, even if he said what he said, it may have worked for him but in the specific case, it would never work. You can’t use one-size-fits-all with startups. Of course, this is not about him. This is about me. The conversation hit me like a tight slap on my face that you could be the most educated, well-read, opinionated, caring person in the room but unless you have tangible success to show for, no one gives a fuck about what you have to say. Your opinions are not important. They are invalid. You are asked questions that, well, question your credibility.

No this is not the first time something like this has happened to me. But thank God it happened. I am inspired. Need these bouts often. In fact, I am so so so much inspired to create a fucking massive success that when someone asks me such questions, I can tell them that I’ve built massive shit and they are fuck off.

I know revenge and being sore is not a good emotion (#note2self – Pale Blue Dot, This Too Shall Pass, Seneca’s lessons) but I am human. And I hate when people I care for do this to me.

Anyhow. I think I am ok now. Last evening I was seething in anger. To a point that I could not operate. The world thinks that I am a loser and that’s ok. I have no complaints. But when the ones that I am close to think like that and operate from that place, I hate it. Really.

Lemme talk of something good. Spotlight is finally taking shape. We are gunning for the first edition of the event on the 30th. More here. In case you want to pitch your startup to Dr. Malpani, here.

So, today on, thanks to the kick in the butt by Karl and this nameless-faceless person that told me that am useless, I will try to be a lesser loser. I’ll try harder.

The other thing that I want to talk about this party with some strangers that I was in. The host introduced me to some people as a famous author. For some reason, I felt like an imposter. I mean, all I have is one book. That too has failed to make any dent in anyone’s life. The kinder reviews say that it’s average at best. I don’t even want to read honest or negative ones. The second book is nowhere. Been on it for like 10 years and have nothing to show for that. I hated it when I was introduced like that. Yes, please do introduce me as a creative consultant, creative producer, writer (not just of books), marketer, podcaster et al. I am ok with that. But I don’t want to be just a “famous writer”. I want to be the person that tried. Not the person that rests on laurels. That too, not well-defined.

So that’s that for the morning pages.

As I edit, I realise this has become dark and harsh and ranty. But that’s that. The smile on the face of having typed all this is still around. So that’s some comfort.

So, on to #freewriting for book2. So, for this one, I have talked Prak into giving me a prompt every day to get me started with my thinking.

Today’s prompt is…

Red. The color of love and hate. Of life and death. Blood and rivers, hellfire, and heaven song.

– Prakruti Maniar, Jan 2021

Here we go…

Red was a funny choice for the color of the gown that she wore. Even though the host had clearly mentioned that the theme for the evening is white and blue, she wore red. Red stood out. What was supposed to be a party where dreams were to be talked about, futures were to be looked at, she chose Red. The color of love and hate. Of life and death. Blood and rivers, hellfire, and heaven song. She did not choose red on purpose. She did not have a choice. This was the only gown she had that could pass off as a decent dress into the party where the invite cost her a night with that old bastard, Paul. The party has been the talk of the town for a while now and who’s who was expected to be there. Together they were going to plan the future of the sleepy state of Goa. There were talks of taking the casinos on land, thereby greatly reducing the costs for the owners. One of the proposals was to allow for new high-rise construction near the beaches. They wanted to make coal mining a priority for the state. The coast was going to get opened for large scale music festivals that would get the who’s who of the world down to Goa.

The gates were being opened for the world to make its home in Goa. And at the same time, those very gates were being shut on the faces to keep out the ones that rightfully could call Goa home. The promoters blamed the locals for their lackadaisicalness. The locals wanted to be left alone. The two sides were never going to find a common ground. And this party was an attempt in the direction. In attendance were going to be socialites

Ankit Paul had put all he had and pulled all the strings he could to make this happen. His entire fortune and the reputation that his family had earned since forever was at stake. More so, after his father passed away, his personal credibility and integrity was being questioned. No, he did care for what people thought of him. He had more skeletons in his closet than the ruler of African countries had. But he did care about his bank balance. The power he wielded. The political ambitions that he couldn’t seem to find a route to.

This party was going to change all of that. Hopefully for good. And give Paul the respect that he’s craved for since he was a child. Respect that his father never accorded him. Respect that he had to fight hard to get. Respect that made him do all the things he did. Respect that mattered to him more than life or death.

***

Damn tough! But I like how it has come out!

What do you think?

And over and out. Hope it’s a great day!

301220 – Morning Pages

Rant about how the world is being unfair to me. And how I would publish on a ‘Work With Me’ manifesto. You can ignore if you want to.

7:49 AM.

I was up at 530. And then I dozed off again. And then I woke up at again at 6. And then dozed off at 630. And then woke at 730 again. And just when I was about to sleep again, I decided that I need to get my butt moving. Took me two hours but here I am.

The year is coming to a close in a day and I am still to do my 2021 lists. Maybe I will spend the rest of the day with those. Let’s see.

So, I met with a friend from MDI yesterday (GK). This was the first time I was meeting with him, after MDI. And a lot has changed since then. It was tough to hold a conversation with him for the time I spent with him but it was compassionable and it felt easy. Guess that’s what cults do to you. Reinforces my belief that education at pedigreed schools and colleges is imperative.

I told him what all have I been up to lately. Asked him about his trip. Realised that he’s been spending time with dance. Told him that I want to pick up dancing as it will help my social skills. Our chats ranged from Jordon Peterson to Future of Humanity to Startups to Careers to MDI to common friends, food, and a lot more. I even narrated the outline of book2 and he seems to have liked it!

He talked about his belief that you could only be exceptional at 2-3 things in life and for multipotentialites like me, the real pain is to quit doing all the other thousand things that you know you are good at! May be that is the pain that I need to go thru to become great?

Oh, while parting, he sent me this…

Greatest lesson ever!

The other thing at the top of my head is that for some reason, the game (the world) and the players (aka people) in the game are not being kind to me. More so, I feel they are out there to take undue advantage. I have many examples but let me talk of two that are affecting me so much that I am, well, fucked in the head.

A, am trying to make a short film to learn the craft. And to of course pay a tribute to the track that I have come to love so much (Ankur Tewari’s Dil Haare). No, AT has not commissioned. He doesn’t even know this. I. am merely going. touse the track as backing audio. I don’t plan to release it except put it on youtube.

So, now, I have a limited understanding of the camera and I have been trying to meet people to seek help on it. And everyone that I talk to seems to be asking for a ridiculous amount of money. Even though I sound like an n00b when it comes to films, I am a co-producer with 2 short films now and I think I know what it takes / costs. And yet I am being taken for a ride. And the worst is that I can see that they are taking me for a ride. And I am telling them that I can see what they are doing and yet they are insistent! Funny No?

I am not expecting them to work for free. I am not taking away credit from them. All I am expecting is that they are reasonable. And yet they are not being.

B, The other is at the podcast thing. Without getting into specifics, people that I thought were nice and reasonable and easy to work with are acting funny. And I don’t like it. And I made it clear in as many words that I did not like it. And yet I am being disrespected. I mean all I have earned in life is a bit of respect (that too went down the drain when I had to take on debt to pay bills) and if something questions that, I don’t know what to do.

I was angry af but then I saw Pale Blue Dot and Steve’s video and I was ok.

But I would make some changes in the way I work. I’ll come to it in a bit but before that, I think the world needs to learn humility and kindness and niceness. The world needs to learn that they are not in a one-time, winner-takes-all game. Life is long and you are known by the reputation that you build. What matters is what people talk about you when you are not in the room!

Anyhow. So the changes.

Here is a list.

  1. Paperwork. I was one of those that would trust a handshake when I went into a business or work transactions. Now, I will ensure that everything I do will have a paper trail with everything in black and while. I need to spend time with contracts, terms, entry clauses, exit clauses, etc. I don’t like the idea of doing this and I thought I could change the way I worked. But no longer.
  2. Work With Me’ Manifesto. Because I like working with multiple people on multiple projects, I need to write a ‘Work With Me’ Manifesto that I would mandate everyone to read and understand and internalize. I would add parts about trust, kindness, respect, long-term thinking, etc in that. Will even make it public and publish it on the blog for everyone to read and comment and make it watertight. Each new project that I get onto, the first email that I exchange, would have this. Update (as on 14 Aug 2021) – the manifesto is here. Still WIP though.
  3. Live in Public. I have been talking about it last few days. I need to accelerate it. You think blockchain will solve all the trust deficit that we have? Nah. Living in Public will. Each time I get into a contract with someone, even though it may sound premature, I would make it public and post on the blog and on Twitter (the two places that I trust more than God).

That’s about it I guess for the time being.

While writing, I realised. I am still not cool btw ūüôĀ

Moving on.

Had an interesting epiphany yesterday while I was waiting for GK to arrive. I realized that since I started writing these morning pages, I have not been writing at all. Plus these morning pages are like journals where I merely talk to myself. I am not creating content that I normally would. the ones where I want others to read, consume, think, bring about a change in their lives, give me feedback on, etc. Need to change that in 2021. Maybe bring back SoG?

Talking of change, the other thing that I would change in 2021 is that I would work very hard on creating a brand for myself.

This is something that I think about every year but hardly work on – I am way too introverted and shy to do this. Plus I think what is that I have achieved to be able to tom-tom myself? Isn’t the world already full of too many cluster-fucks, self-congratulatory messages, neverending stories of pathos, societies of mutual admiration, and more?

Why do I want to add to that noise?

I don’t know yet but what I do know is that I need to be out there if I want opportunities to come to me. And more importantly to people that I know of. And I need a brand for that. And that brand needs to stand atop one thing that encapsulates it all. May be marketing. May be side projects. May be Goa. I don’t know.

But brand SG has to get elevated in 2021.

And finally, before I end this, Sonali’s digital art is now online here! Yay! Please head over there and see if you like it and if you do, please consider spreading the word, and still better, buying!

With this, over and out!