The February Hits (and Misses)

A few things that I am not happy about and helpless about. Mostly a rand. Read at peril.

If you’ve been reading this blog, you would have noticed two not-so-happy posts back to back. Today I have a few things to talk about that may not be happy either.

Read on.

One. Whatsapp.

For some random reason, yesterday I got logged out of WA and I haven’t been able to log in since. I’ve read all support things, mailed Meta, and tried all hacks – including deleting, installing, taking the sim out, switching devices etc etc. And yet nothing works. I dont know what to do.

While I find an answer, am mindfucked that all my work has come to a stop. I can NOT even tell people that I am not available. I can NOT access links / files. My effervescent notes are stuck in the limbo. Thank God I moved to Apple Notes and Roam last time my data got wiped.

Oh, that reminds me, this is the second time I have lost access to my WA account. Last time around I was angry and pissed that I lost all chats and photos and all that. This time, I am ok with that. Just that my work lives on WA and I feel handicapped and helpless. I wish I had the power to know someone like Mark and get him to rest my account from the server.

So am mindeffed cos my work is pending. And I dont know what to do about it.

Two. Asking People to Leave.

This is the first time since I started working that I will have to ask people to leave on my own. And it’s not a nice feeling at all. I’ve always believed in building the village and the collective and this is anything but that.

In the past people have moved away from me while working – some at their own accord, some I’ve had to ask to leave. In one instance, there was this misunderstanding that I couldn’t solve and we had to part ways. In any case, it was never about my inability to pay.

This time, it is. Despite me doing ok with work and money, I am unable to pay for the people that I’ve hired. No, it’s not about overstaffing – just that at C4E, we hire for projects and once a project ends, we need to part ways. So that. In most cases I’ve been ok to let go of people once project ends.

This time, I feel bad cos I’ve worked really closely with these people for almost a year and I’ve come to like them as my own. Plus each of these is hardworking, dedicated and committed. And am having to let go of these folks cos of money. Double damn.

I keep getting these shockers but I am unable to do anything about these. I dont know when I’d wake up. Funny that I wrote a few days only that I dont know when this bubble would get burst.

So I am sad that I have to take this call. And I dont know what to do about this.

Three. Work. Future.

All I do in life is work. And since we are close to starting the next financial year, I was planning for what I would do in the next year and how I would go 10X from where I am right now.

While doing that, I realised that unless I do something large and drastic, the way we’ve been going, we are staring at ruin. Not that we are not good, just that the world is changing very fast and there’s way too much unpredictability around us. Surviving itself is a problem. And I am thinking of 10X-ing from here. So that.

Plus, I’ve never had to plan things – I was always at a tiny scale and things would come to me easily. Now we are larger than I’ve ever been (while we remain tiny in the grand scheme of things) and this means that the ship needs to be a lot more stable. And I am finding it hard to imagine how to do that.

I know I will do ok. I know we will do ok. But I need to work harder than I’ve ever worked. I would’ve if not for my gut. Read the next point.

Four. Gut.

Remember I said that my guts are apparently made of steel?

Well, they aren’t gutting.

It’s been more than 10 days now and I am still running between my desk and the loo. If I show some strength and resolve and go to a Starbucks or a meeting, I run back home faster than PT Usha!

And each time I get to the loo, the walk back is more laboursome and tiring. And I am left thinking if I should even make an attempt to get up the next time. And then I think I’d just stop eating. Let me spew out everything that I have in me. I’ve done almost 3 days of fasting in the past. There’s no reason I can’t do this time. May be starting tonight. Let’s see.

Oh, I refuse to go see a doc. I am hoping I will be better in a few days. been 10. Should take another there or four. Let’s see.

To be honest I am ok with it. Just that work is suffering. Same as the WhatsApp snafu. I dont think of anything more than that lol. I really need to get a life. Any tips?

Five. My failure to be a good shishya.

One of THE most important mentors I have ever had seems to be angry at me. To the point that he’s not even keen on talking to me. I know I’ve fucked up. And I’ve said sorry. And I will never ever repeat the mistake. But I think I’ve broken the relationship to a point that it’s beyond repair.

Like a mature adult, I went to him to apologise face to face. But I dont think it’s working out. So that. Like a mirror, it’s broken. I can put it together but I will always see a crack 🙁

So that. It was important enough to capture here on the blog.


So yeah. These five things.

The whole of 2024 and February specifically seems to be jinxed at so many levels. I need to find a way to fix this. Any pandits around?

The Guts of Steel (or not)

The heroics and sobering of a man who overestimates his ability with his health.

Hola!

So, growing up in Delhi and binging onto street food and eating all sorts of things made me believe that I have guts of steel. I could eat anything, made with any kind of oil, laced with sweaty palms and the dust and grime and all that that is all around us. And yet continue functioning like I am Rajnikant or Flash or any of those superheroes that are quick on their feet and all that. After all, that is what I am, at least in my head.

I would flaunt these heroics and guts and often participate in competitions around eating gol gappas, vada pao, pao bhaji and dunno what all. In fact, even alcohol. No, I don’t drink per se but on the VERY rare occasions I drink, I can outdrink any fish in the sea and yet walk in a straight line. Really. Try me sometime. Or not.

But, you know life has a way of humbling you and showing that you are an insignificant speck on a pale blue dot and you are meaningless in large cosmic things.

That happened.

Read on…

So, like most large forest fires that start with a tiny spark that often would die without disturbing anything of importance. But once in a while, these sparks help raging fires that engulf civilizations!

In my case, it started as dizziness. I thought my eyesight was finally giving in. Then I got the first burp. I could sense bile building up in my food pipe. And I knew I was going to puke. I know my body like that. Oh, I was on a call with some new colleagues while that was happening. Funnily one of the people on that call was a doctor and we were working on a pharma client.

Anyway coming back. I was on a call. And I knew I was gonna puke. And since this was a new team, I had to maintain my reputation as a sakht man. But then life had the better of me. And I had to puke. So I excused myself. Ran to the loo and spilled some. I thought it was gonna be ok after that. I came back, and finished the call.

And as soon as I hung up, I had to run to the loo cos there was more. And this time, I realised how much my stomach could hold. It all came out. And then for the next 2 hours, I puked and pooped.

Each trip to the loo became tougher. To the point that I could no longer walk the 2 feet distance from my bed to the loo. I walked with some support. I leaned on the doors. I got onto all fours. And then I crawled.

One time I couldn’t even build the courage to crawl and reach in time. Finally, I decided to lie down on the floor of the bathroom itself. I will let you fill in the other details. You do not want to know. I will make detailed notes in my Roam lest I forget. 

I am grateful that no one saw me like that. As someone who’s kept his spine straight through thick and thin, this would have been the lowest point of my life. I remember the look on the faces of my parents when I got my nasal polyp operated on. I remember how C4E Junta looked at me when I broke my tooth at a picnic. I had decided that I would never let anyone ever see me in pain. I’ll walk in the rain if I have to cry. I found out that I may not command rain at a whim but I can sit under a shower for sure. Thank God for that shower!

So while I was dying (no the thought did not cross my mind – I knew this was a temporary thing and I will be ok; unrelated, there was a time when I was in Bangalore and I thought I would die. I called Poo and told her to take care of my people once am gone), I had the presence to tell people that they shouldn’t wait on me. I texted a couple of colleagues that I had to work with. 

I then switched off my phone. 
And slept. 
At least tried to. 

The bed was way too comfortable, the floor too cold. I couldn’t find a way to rest my head – neither on the pillow nor on the towel that I had rolled up. There were way too many mosquitos. Somehow I drifted to sleep. I remember waking up once to go puke again. And then finally finding it comforting to sleep on the mattress.

All this while, I did not think of work at all. In fact, the work be damned. I have some really fabulous people to work with and they managed everything. Phew.

I woke up late, I dont recall the time. I read online what to eat. Ordered a Gatorade, and some electrolytes. Called for boiled rice and toast. Ate the soggiest toast ever and yet it was yummy. Ate the blandest rice and each grain was full of taste. Slept again. Tried to. Was tough. But I slept. 

I woke up the next morning (Saturday), showered, had idli and more toast. The idli was how and what you expect an idli to be. The toast was ok. Went to Starbucks, had half a green tea, some yoghurt (which was really bad tbh; Starbucks need to up their game), some bananas (read about BRAT diet) and then off to the airport. I had curd rice, hummus, pasta and a Diet Coke at the lounge. There, I spotted Subhash Ghai – each time I see a star from the yesteryears, I feel sad about what age does to them. Ghai had to be chaperoned by some flunky who was more keen on filing his plate with pasta. And I will ensure that I dont have a flunky for clutches when my time comes.

So, here I am, now, on 8D, typing things away. Feeling ok. I am grateful that I dont fall too sick for too long. I dunno why – my lifestyle is not the best. Irrespective. I am committed to doing better. I want to rebuild my gut. I want to gnaw at Steel and laugh while I do that. I want to bombard the gut flora and fauna with all sorts of food and fluids and everything in between. Maybe yoga would help. Maybe it won’t. Let’s see. 

I am on the road for the next few days. Once am back in Bom on Thursday, I promise will not set a foot out till the Dubai trip (mid of March). I will have about 20 days that I will strictly do Keto! No cheats. No tiny carbs. I will find a way to resist temptation. I will also do yoga. As we speak, a yoga mat has been ordered.

In fact, I’ve been thinking about health for a long long time. If the incident of Friday is not a wake-up call, nothing would be. And this came in quick succession of my uncle’s passing. Since Friday (and the episode), I have only eaten kachra and I vow to never eat shit again. The body is the damn temple bro. I dont sit in a place that is not nice. I returned the in-flight meal cos the air hostess did not serve it with politeness. If I can skip a meal cos it hurts my ego, can I choose what I eat for my health?

So that.

Anyhow. My throat is still sore 48 hours after the incident. The only good part was that I finally weighed less than 91 KGs after I had emptied my gut into a gutter. I just hope it’s not something large. Like I said in the beginning, I want my heroics to never end and continue to operate like a superhero! More on these later. For the time being, over and out!

The 5 AM Calls

A personal note about losing a loved one.

I wrote a large part of this en route to Delhi on board UK 970 on a Sunday morning. The other part I wrote over the last few days, as and when I could get time.

When your phone rings at 5 AM on Sunday, you know that something has happened. And that something can’t be good. While this knowledge primes you to hear what the person on the other end has to say, it never prepares you well. It helps that you are typically in a slumber at that hour and you process things slower. Plus you are on the bed. So you are in a stage to accept things. 

So today when I got one of these 5 AM calls, I figured something was wrong. No, I was not ready. I did try to make all the scenarios that may have warranted a call at this hour – I do this for a living – make scenarios and strategies. I couldn’t guess what was the call going to be about. 

I wasn’t left guessing for long.
My mom told me that my uncle had passed away.

No, I wasn’t close.
Yes, he was an important man.
No, I don’t know how old he was. I found out that he was 81 or 82. Back then they did not keep records as meticulously as we do now.

But I know that he lived a fairly full life – he saw ups and downs and fortunes and ruins and happiness and sadness. He has 5 kids, 10+ grandkids (most married) and a great-grandkid. I don’t think he was a man of knowledge or if he travelled far and wide; but I do know that like most people in my family, he operated from his heart and emotions and not from his brain and maths. 

I can’t recall when I was the last time I saw him. I am not particularly close to my family except a cousin or two. Plus I don’t do goodbyes well at all even if it was with someone I care for. I don’t like the finality of these goodbyes.

And I definitely don’t take death well. At least of the ones I care for am related to. Strangers and celebrities – I am indifferent. I get filled with dread and existential one at that when I hear of someone close passing away. To a point, I start questioning the meaning of life and all. I recall last time someone important passed away, I had to go to Faridabad. I distinctly remember me trying to think how would I greet the ones that are mourning. I somehow managed. The days after that were tough.

This time, I knew I’d manage well. And as I write this from the familiar safe space of a Starbucks, I think I managed well.

Life goes on. You know, Pale Blue Dot.

Carl Sagan, Pale Blue Dot.

When I go, I swear to go, I want to go without anyone ever knowing. I would walk into the jungle when I know my time has come – if I can walk. Or I will ask someone to put me to sleep – with no one around me. I don’t want anyone to see the frail me. I have lived my life with a straight spine and I would not bow down to anyone, even when I’ve aged. Like I said, most folks in my family operate from emotions and not from logic. I am no different. Just that my will needs to be executed.

Ok, I have made this about me and not about him. Lemme come back. 

To be honest, I don’t know him enough to be able to write a proper eulogy. As a kid, I would’ve met him a lot – summer holidays, festivities, festivals and all that. At least in the last 5 years, I haven’t met him. Three lost to COVID-19. I didn’t take any holidays, I haven’t travelled back to my home town and I’ve been missing from most of the festivities in my family. I think my decision to live in Mumbai has a large role to play.

Plus from what I know, he’s not been in great shape for some time now – nothing major, just old age. I recall that he smoked bidis like a chimney – as many as he could, as fast as he could. I remember him liking stale rotis with mirchi ka achaar. We’d make extra so that there was enough for him to eat the next day. I’ve seen him watch cricket with the fervent passion of a teenager and having opinions like you expect a die-hard fan to have. From the simple deewan-bed placed in his tiny hall, he ruled his kingdom like you’d expect a patriarch of a family to. And from what I recall, he had a temper and yet he was kind and loving. Despite him growing up deep in the villages in Haryana, he’s as modern as they came. He ensured his daughters and granddaughters got due respect and he was always supportive of any decision that the family took.

Knowing what I know of him, I think he’s in a better place.

Heart goes to my aunt. I don’t know where she came from or what she really wanted in life. May be she didn’t really want anything? I don’t know. Maybe she did, as a child. She would’ve probably loved something – music, art, fairs, something! I don’t know. I won’t ever know. I can only hazard a guess that as a woman in the patriarchial India of the 60s and 70s, she probably didn’t even know the concept of free will or ambition beyond a kind family to get married into. All I know of her, all she did post her marriage (at a young age, mind you), she was a pillar to my uncle. I may argue that she was reduced (I use this word with a lot of deliberation) to a supporting act for my uncle as he went about with his life. No, I don’t know what that life amounted to in the large scheme of things. I know that they are well-to-do as a family. I know they have great values and each member of their family is humble, honest, caring and has all the virtues that you expect a human being to have. My uncle and aunt raised a great family. And this wouldn’t have happened without my aunt’s unwavering support. She is exactly the kind that I wish I had. I know I am making this about me again but this is what someone’s passing away does to me – makes me reflect on my life.

Coming back to my uncle and his passing away. So the best thing that came out of this was that I could see my entire family together in one room. I had my cousins and their spouses and their offsprings under one roof and I realised that I’d never known the concept of a family. Whatever I knew before I moved out of my house to go to MDI and beyond, I have forgotten. I have chased billions of dollars and an impact on a billion lives and yet I have not built anything for myself. I wondered yesterday that when it was my time to go, I wouldn’t probably have another person next to me. No, I don’t want anyone next to me to be honest when I go but if I wanted to, I wouldn’t have. No, this doesn’t make me sad. Today it doesn’t. Maybe it will, in the next few years as I grow older.

Anyhow.

So, while I was there, as a son, I participated in the last rites for my uncle. In a full-blown, Hindu tradition, I got to see from my eyes that the process of going away is as messy as the process of coming in is. In both instances, you are on your own and you are aided by others. When you come in, you are a lump of pink flesh and water. When you go, you are a stack of half-burnt bones, ashes and dust. And the time you spend from being a pink gobble to a pile of black pebbles, you create things – memories, objects, things and we get attached to those. And worse, others get attached to those as well. And you then are ready to die or kill to preserve those.

Sigh. I am rambling at this time now. I think I will close the note and hit publish.

I did click this picture at one of the places I visited and I want to leave it here as I end this post.

I will try and bring a change in the way I live from here on. I will try and build a family of sorts. I will be more mindful with people. Let’s see where I end up.

Thank you for reading. Thank you for indulging.

PS: This if probably for the first time that I have written about my immediate family on a blog in a serious note. I like the idea that I am so open about things with the world that I can do this.

A secret. A confession. And a solution.

A longish note after a few hard days at work.

TW: I talk about dark days of my life as an entrepreneur. I talk about things that may be construed as triggering, depressing and of mental health challenges. PLEAES PLEASE PLEASE do not read if these things affect you.

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Here’s a secret.
If you want to derail me and my life, all you need to do is talk to me in an impolite, rude or condescending tone. 

Let’s park this. I will come back to this.

Now, another secret.
More like a confession really.
The last few days at work haven’t been the best. Dont think people who work with me or know me apart from work would’ve spotted it. Or may be they would’ve. I don’t know. The point is, all I do is work. My life starts and ends with work. I wake up, work, eat, work, nowadays try to catch the sunset (see this reel that I posted today), work, sleep and repeat. 

What I do may not be meaningful in the grand scheme of things but it gives meaning to my life. It probably helps anchor the lives of a few other people as well (but I am not sure). So when I don’t have great days, it affects me and my raison d être and I don’t know what to do about it. Most people have a family to go back to. I have a Rubik’s Cube. That too I crammed the solution to and I have since forgotten. So, all I end up doing is closeting my emotions on my echochamber (on my Roam) or writing cryptic posts on my blog (or twitter) or eating crap (Dal Makhani mmmm).

This time, today, I choose to do none of these. I am going to put it out. On my blog. Here. After all, I chose to live in public and live more authentic this year. 

So that.

Now, why’s that I haven’t had great days at work? 
Simple. Go back to the line I opened this piece with. 
“…talk to me in an impolite, rude or condescending tone.”

In the last week, almost EACH of my clients has spoken to me (or my team) in a tone that’s not the best or polite. And today yesterday, a friend who’s also a client spoke to me like never before. That was probably the last straw that made me think this much and all.

Of course, he can’t be wrong, he’s almost never wrong. He knows more than me and all that. And as a result, things in my head have spiralled down an abyss. You know, like Alice fell down that Rabbit hole?

And I know that I am not bouncing back to my A game anytime soon. I take time. Of course, I will fake it and the world will continue to see me functioning as I do on other days – reliable, high-functioning, in a hurry, high on energy, dreamy-eyed, lost and other such things. As I write this, its 8:30 AM, I am at a Starbucks 20 KMs away from home, sitting on a table facing the wall with my back as straight as I can stretch to. Someone looking at me would see a old man going at it!

To be able to find my groove, I would need to find peace over the next few days. Not inner. Am ok on that front. But the outer one. Like you know, get my space. Since the last relationship went sour, I’ve become this loner who likes to have his space and his freedom.

So, I don’t know how I’d find my outer peace.

I would also want to get a closure on the reason for this. I mean would could’ve gone so wrong at so many places that we have so much trass from all sides? I am unable to understand why do these people, all from different industries, and different parts of the country chose to speak with us like that. Nothing is broken at any of these clients. We may not deliver award-winning work but we are reliable as fuck. Plus, we at C4E work really hard to ensure that we deliver more value than what we promise, often at our cost. You know, underpromise and overdeliver. To each of my clients.

And this has been hardwired in the heads and hearts of each person that agrees to work with C4E. That we would overdeliver come what may. Money is never important. We could lose money on projects (I’ve often done that). I would beg, borrow, and steal to keep the kitchen going. I’ve done that in the past. I would do it again if I had to. I’ve kept my team lean. I dont pay them as much as I want to. All to preserve sanity and not go beyond our aukaat (while taking shots beyond that). 

Wait. Before I digress. So, the funny part is, ALL our clients know this. Each of them. And they see it. And yet they tend to talk to us in a tone unwelcome, uncalled for and unneeded. I know they dont know that am soy and snowflake and easily hurt and their simple act of trying to push me to do more would derail me. I think I am still ok but I can’t imagine how my team feels!

But then, why be impolite? Why be condescending? Why be rude?

Maybe, a large part of this sadness and disappointment is my expectation from life and people itself. Maybe I am too simplistic (and wrong) in believing that people don’t have egos. Maybe people at the core are bitchy and mean for no reason. Maybe people love playing power games. Maybe people like to just poke with harmony and see what comes out of it. What if Joker was right all this while? PS: Even if they are wired differently, I will continue to chart my path. If I had to go live in a village where costs are low, I would. I would retire in Goa or in the hills where at least I can breathe free!

The other part could be that my approach to life could be unsettling for the world at large and they can’t understand it. I am trying to build a utopian world where everyone is kind to each other, everyone is engaged, everyone is chasing meaning (and not vanity goals), everyone sees magical possibilities. Where its one for all and all for one. Where I exist because we exist. But maybe everyone is hardwired into creating kalesh for kalesh’s sake? PS: Dont think this is the case though. I know people are really really good. I really believe that people do create magic.

I’ve been thinking about this for the last few days now and I am at my wit’s end. So, I kinda give up on trying to find the reason or answer. All I know is that I will chase my utopia till I can. 

Truth be told, I am often flexible on morals. I like the idea of doing whatever it takes to build a life I want to live. No, I am not talking about doing illegal things. But I am ok to bend a few rules if I have to. As long as I am not taking away from someone more deserving. I sometimes feel I were a tad evil – I would’ve done so much better! If I could sell my soul, I would probably be rich enough already to pay myself well and pay my people well. But then I get back to my thought about trying to build a long-term, sustainable, boring business that everyone tapdances to work on an everyday basis. 

The other part is these lingering thoughts about the challenges of running a service business in the market that we are in. We work hard to make other people’s dreams come true and in exchange, we get to make just enough to be happy about. Some days we make more than what we need but most days we merely get by. Luckily we are at a good place – on any given day, most of our clients are great companies, folks and all. They pay us ok money. We are challenged enough. All is well. But then when there are days like the last few and especially yesterday, I start questioning what we do.

The last bit is, maybe this is the trigger to push harder on my attempts to build a business that does not rely on just a few people or companies. Maybe build something that has hundreds of customers spread across geographies. Maybe I need to rethink how I work and slowly move on to a product business or something. I don’t know yet. My head’s in a soup. You can see. Lol.

Anyhow. Long rant is over. The point is, when someone speaks to me in a tone or a manner that is not kind or polite, in my head, all hell breaks loose. I spiral down and this is where I am at right now.

Of course, I will be back. I am strong like that. Vanita calls me a survivor. I survived COVID-19. I survived people cheating on me. I have survived so far. And I shall. Maybe i’d get a tee that says, “I am a survivor” :D. Lol!

Ok, more later. Thanks for reading (if you did). And yes, all is well. My back is still straight. I am still surrounded by a team that will move the mountains for me and for our clients. And we would continue to give our heart, head and soul for the work we do.

Oh, if you are reading this and you want to hire a great team to work with you – look us up 🙂

Untitled – 28 Jan 2024

Brain dump at a 7 AM on a Saturday morning.

When you open WordPress editor to start writing, they share a prompt – what’s on your mind.

I think I needed this trigger.

So, what’s on my mind?

One-line answer – A lot!

Lemme elaborate. Like most times, I will make a list. Here are the things that I am thinking about and these are making me anxious and unhappy and all that. And yes, these are in an order – these came to my head as I started to think about things! 

What if the run that I am on doesn’t continue in the next year? 
For context, in this year I have scaled C4E (revenue, profits, clients, people) at least 2X compared to last year. While our base is extremely small (we are still a Micro enterprise as per GoI definitions) but to me, it is big. 

So what if this dream run doesn’t continue?

Ok, I am not the one to affect me, normally. I believe this too shall pass. I know we are in a good place. We have a good mix of long-term clients and short-term projects. Team is stable, engaged, passionate and active. And while they are atamnirbhar, as the oldest member of the team, I feel responsible for them. And that’s the challenge. What if I am unable to pay for them?

How do I scale? 
Now that I have seen a good year, the ambitious man in me seems to have started to stir. And this means I need to do more and at scale. And this means I need to work harder. Just that I don’t know which direction to work hard in! I mean we offer communication services to people and there are a million other companies that do this. And they do it cheaper and better. Why would the client choose me? Why would I use my time to build this? Did I learn all I learnt to just offer communication services? No, I don’t mean to be disrespectful. Different people have different battles and a communication agency is not mine. Not at this time at least. Maybe in the future. Never say never. So, coming back to the scale question, I need to work on that. And that is what keeps me up at night.

The chase of cool things. 
If you know me at all, you would know that I love shiny toys more than anything else. I’d rather spend my life in chase and not in actual deep, building of things. My joy is in zero to 1 and not in 1 to 100. This is something that Aditya Sir made me realize long ago! And the world we live in has a million shiny things to be honest and I have access to none of those. So, I am mindfucked about not having access to those cool things. I know that there’s no end to this. And I know better to not make that a pain point!

How do I build distribution? 
I’ve realized that everything in life boils down to one thing and one thing only – distribution. Once you have that, you can touch the sky and reach the moon and all that. Today I have pathetic distribution and reach. I may have 1000 followers on twitter but I don’t have an impactful reach and I need to build that. When I say impactful, I mean I should be able to reach people that matter. And they must know who I am. 

On the internet, people agree that there are a few ways to reach there – 

  • a, create polarizing content in polarizing categories (religion, celebrity, sports), 
  • b, showcase your talent as a person of talent (humor, acting, opinions, wit etc), 
  • c, identify a niche for yourself and create consistently on that, and finally, 
  • d, spend money! 

Now, I don’t have any of these 4. Plus I refuse to be siloed into one category – I am a free bird (lol). And thus the mindfuck. 

How do I ship more things? 
The other question I keep asking is, how do I ship more. I agree that all the things that I have mentioned above need a tiny element of luck but this one, the one on shipping, is pure hard work. No luck. Once I ship, things may not work out or things may bomb or things may be substandard quality. But I know that shipping is single-handedly a thing that I can control! So that.

Maybe once I start shipping things, I will feel good? After all it’s been AGES since I’ve shipped something by myself! 

So that! 

Oh and thanks to this brain dump, now I know that since shipping contributes this much to my happiness, I need to probably amp up my shipping game! 

Untitled – 27 Nov 2023

The last few days have been maddening (and exciting). I have travelled to Dubai, Delhi and Bangalore. I have had multiple calls in a day (and I am not used to talking on the phone). I have had to douse multiple fires (including a few that I could have avoided if I had trained people well). I have had to think hard about how I want to run my business (continue to be a lifestyle business that gives me enough to live by myself in basic comfort or scale to a large services company where we make great money but then take great stress as well). No, I dont have an answer to this question. But I know that I have worked a lot. Probably the hardest I have ever had. And no, not hard work as in carrying a load on my back but putting my head to simple problems. And I will not lie, I am enjoying every bit of it!

I can complain that the problems am working on could be larger and grander. I know what am doing at 41, most people do at 25. I know I’ve been left behind in the race of life. I know I have to catch up on a lot of things. I know I have to run harder and faster to stay at the same place. I know age is not on my side. I am unfit like a sack of potatoes. I mean you get the drift. I can REALLY complain if I want to. But I think I am at a great place in life. I would have given an arm and a leg to be here when we were stuck indoors due to COVID-19.

So that.

Ok, coming to the point of this blog.

As an old man trying to do a million things, I get overwhelmed a lot and like most humans I often get the urge, need, want, wish, whatever to share how am feeling with someone. Someone who’d not judge me and understand me (at least try to). Someone who I can just go and rant to. I am super close to my team. More than I should be in a professional setting. I dont have boundaries. And that makes it tough to lean on them. My best friends are in full-time jobs with stable and fat salaries and thus they dont understand why I get jittery around the 20th about money. I dont want to trouble my parents. I dont trust people on the internet a lot. I dont have romantic partners.

And I really really really need to vent out at times. And this is when this blog comes in handy. I pour out whatever it is that’s clouding my head. Here’s a list of things at this hour – 23:57 PM, 27 Nov 2023.

A/ Health.
I am back to being 92.6 kg. Last week I touched 91. I had controlled what I ate. But I lapsed over the weekend. I had to be 5 inches thinner by the end of the year. I have about 30 days and I dont think that’s happening. And I hate it.

B/ Compulsive Shopping.
Last few days I have ordered random things on Amazon. Most of these were ordered while I was in that half-asleep, dazed state.

I need to stop this. Probably delete the credit card from Amazon. Probably stop scrolling those “ten things from Amazon you need in your house”.

C/ Chandni is finally in Mumbai.
I am giving myself another year 6 months or so to build a unicorn out of DD / C4E. We are in a good place in terms of income. We are at a great place in terms of delivery. I am cutting all the fluff by Mar 2024, including letting go of people that dont perform (something I’ve never ever done and something that I will do with a heavy heart). If I dont make it in the next few months, I would never.

D/ Music by Rajesh Singh.
I am tripping onto this dude called Rajesh Singh. He sings old Hindi music and I love him! See this one. See this tweet.

E/ Writing.
I am loving that words are flowing easily as I type this. I love that whatever I’ve been thinking lately, I am able to pour it on paper and I can feel the hunch in the shoulders go away. I must write more often.

F/ May the flop be with you!
I am on a great streak with the flops and rivers. I am FTing a lot of these timed tourneys on Poker Stars. It’s taking time but I am loving the grind.

G/ Payday
I need to pay my people this week. I am getting jittery about the bank balance. Lol.

H/ Dubai
Prito called me from Dubai yesterday morning. Love love love love it that he’s getting to do what he wants to. He is one of those super unreasonable, super-pushy people who decide what they want and then they get it.

Another such person I’ve come to know lately is Aastha. Even though she’s new in my ecosystem, I love how good she is! I wish I was half as good.

I am super-duper invested in the success of both of these people. And many many more.

I/ Growth and grandeur
FWIW I’ve always chased grand things and plans. And I’ve remained tiny speck. No, I don’t want grandeur for myself to be able to buy a Rolls but I’d like that wealth to open doors and give me access to experiences that I don’t even know exist.

J/ Car
I really really really crave a car. At this time, I want nothing but an empty-ish road, a decentish car, and a hotel at the end of the journey. I don’t think am buying a car in India ever but I would love to have access to one for sure.

K/ Manav Kaul, Filmfare
For one of the short films I produced with Shikha, Manav Kaul has won the Filmfare award for the best actor. I had literally no role to play in the film except putting in the money but his award felt personal! Oh, and we’ve been at numerous festivals and won some awards but I think Filmfare is the only Indian award that I probably cared for. That seems to be within reach now as well! So that. I really really would like to scale this business of entertainment. I damned moved all the way to Andheri for this!

And no, while I want to be a part of the show business, I continue to remind myself of Pale Blue Dot. I’ll probably get it framed.

L/ Focus
I have been thinking about focus. I’ve never been the kind to be able to focus and I don’t know if I should change it at this age. But then each time I see someone extol the virtues of focus, I get mindfucked. Like this tweet.

M/ The #in2024 Plan
I have been thinking about it for a while now. And I have been delaying that. Multiple reasons. Each year I make such a large brouhaha about it and I miss most things by a mile. Been planning and missing for at least 10 years now.

So this time, I am thinking do I even want to do it? I mean I don’t get discouraged if I miss the plan. I don’t get excited if I get to some milestones. I am mostly stoic about things.

I’d love to plan – gives me a semblance of structure in my otherwise random life. But then I’d love to not plan as well – gives me an opportunity to fan more randomness and see if things go well. So, if I do, I will continue to use YearCompass. If I don’t, I won’t. Let’s see where my mood takes me over the next few days.

N/ A new frame for the house
Now that I have decided that I will start to acquire things again, I got myself a piece of art frame. I love how it has come out. Whoever is lucky enough to get admission to my house gets to see.


Guess this is it for the time being. I had an ok (but tiring day). I had two tough meetings, but I sailed through. I have a fancy lunch to go to tomorrow. I am so not looking forward to it but I have to go! Work, sigh!

And as I end this, I really really want to acknowledge that whoever said that being an entrepreneur is the loneliest profession – HELL YEAH! It is. Especially if you are old and don’t drown yourself in alcohol or any substance abuse. You really have no one around. I am glad and grateful I have at least this blog to lean on. Most people don’t even have that. I can only imagine their misery and want of success.

Anyhow.
This is it for the day.
More later!

PS: In case you are in the same boat and want to talk to someone, am around 🙂

The Delhi Delulu

A short note about my recent (and not so recent) trip (s) to Delhi.

I am writing this from a plane – UK801. Unedited, unfettered text. Please excuse typos etc.

So, each time I make a trip to delhi, I feel I am cheating. I feel incomplete. I feel incredibly sad. There is no specific reason to be honest – delhi is after all home. I may live in Mumbai and I may want to be living out of India but at heart I am from Delhi and you can never take that out of me. I prefer “tu” when I talk. I use Hindi a lot. I slip into informal conversations even when I am supposed to be running serious business meetings. I dress like a vagabond – wait this is not a Delhi charcterestic – people in Delhi are very very well dressed. Anyhow. I am as Delhi-like as they come.

The point is, even though am coming home (this time, for Diwali) and other times as and when I get an opportunity, each trip to delhi feels incomplete. A compromise. Here are a few reasons why… 

One.
I have a few connections (people I went to MDI with, people I’ve become friends over the years, people that I want to be friends with and more) in Delhi and each time I am in Delhi, I want to meet them. But I am unable to. The time is limited. The distance too much. The willingness of others to meet me is limited. This is one of my rants that for some reason, I dont get enough attention or patronage from people that I would like to meet – maybe once I have some money and some success, I would be able to attract more people to choose me over whatever else they’d do on a weekend. 

Two.
While I am in Delhi, I am unable to work and to me the only thing that matters is my work. At home in Delhi, we dont have a place that I can sit and work out of – even though my parents make a lot of concessions for me. The nearest coffee shop is a McD and it opens at 11. The nearest Starbucks is a 45-min drive away. I can convert one of the rooms in my small house as a work-room but for what joy – I am hardly in Delhi and when I am there, I have trained myself to tell that I would not work anymore. 

So, when I cheat my work or slack on it, I feel like I am cheating.

Three.
As someone who grew up in Delhi, I may want to get sad about the very limited network I have here. I mean on instagram every one I know was at a 100 Diwali parties and here I was at home. Oh wait. Lemme catch my thoughts. I am sinking into what I’ve been warning all the kids against – looking at pretty lives of others on instagram and getting sad about my own life! So, this thought I will scratch – you know, thoughts, words, actions, reality. 

Four.
Oh there is this issue of Noida and Gurgaon. For the world these are parts of Delhi. For me these are adopted cousins that I would love to be friends with but haven’t been able to. For one, these places are very far from where I live in delhi. A trip to Gurgaon is about 100 KMs to and fro and with the traffic, it becomes a 4-5 hours affair. Do I want to invest that much time in meeting an adopted cousin? I dont know.

Five.
Finally and most importantly, my parents. 

My parents are old and I rarely meet them. And when I do, it’s on these rush-rush trips to Delhi. And since these are rushed trips, most interactions, conversations and everything else is very, well, rushed! Plus each time I see them, I can see a visible change in them – they are growing older, atrophying. Thankfuly they are very very independent. I am not sure they signed up for this independence – I have largely remained absent from their lives except for these cheat-trips to Delhi – but like most humans, they’ve learnt to survive with each other. Am I guilty about it? Yes! Am I sad about it? Yes. Can I do something about this? I dont know. I mean I can let go of all that I’ve wanted to in life and move back to live in with them. I won’t be happy if I did that. But they would probably be very very happy. 

So this. 

Each of these five things that I talked about, on paper and rationally, are solvable. However I am anything but rational. Each action of mine is guided by emotions, heart, whims. And there is no way these are getting fixed by a person like me. No, not blaming anyone or anything. I am merely reflecting on how these trips to Delhi feel like. 

Guess this is it. Over and out. 

Reflections from Manila

Thinking-out-loud about how I spent the last 15 days, what it taught me about myself and what I could do from here on.

I was on a break of sorts (more on this “break”) in a bit for about 15 days in Sep. I was in Manila with M&m and here are my thoughts and reflections from the trip.

A/ I plan large and do less.

When I was going to Manila, I told myself that in the 15 days, I am there, I would learn swimming, do 10000 steps every day, do OMAD, try to do yoga, learn webflow, finish startup school lectures, write (book / blog / script).

These were simple things, to be honest, considering I had nothing else to do.

And out of these few things, I did ZERO!

Even though I made a tracker and tried to hold myself accountable, I could not. Here’s a screenshot from the tracker…

Heck, I did not even follow the tracker!

I need to fix this and I dont know how to. Thing is, if someone asked me to stop doing something, I could easy. I recently came off a 4-month break from coffee. I haven’t had coke in over 4 months. I can easily do OMAD. But I can’t seem to start doing new things.

Any one knows any secrets? That can help me get more willpower? Or help me not suck at being consistent? Should I get myself an accountability coach?

B/ I suck at consistency.

I realise I suck at being consistent.

I am more like a sprinter who can work in high-energy spurts and do incredible things. But I can’t do marathons, even if I am to move just a few inches everyday. I even wrote about it while I was in Manila.

I would’ve been fine if I had an infinite life. But I don’t. And everything in life is a result of consistent effort over a long time. You know, compounding. The 8th wonder of the world. Work, relationships, wealth, health, reputation, impact, opportunities – every damn thing needs time and they only grow if you are consistent.

While I have remained consistent and have grown on my personal values, I think I have a tough time staying consistent with things. If I have to do more with my life, I need to be uber-consistent. And I don’t know how to go about it 😐

C/ Home.

V’s home is probably the only place apart from my parents where I feel at home. Apart from his, I am not at comfort at all even at the homes of other people that I can die for (SG19Jan etc.).

While I was there, I was part of the daily humdrum of the life of a happy, closely-knit family. Even though I am not a part of their family and not related by blood, the 5 of them accepted me like their own. Not for a minute I felt like an intruder or a stranger. And if you know me, this is a rarity – not because people make you feel like an outsider but I need a lot of time before I get used to surroundings and people. And I have this incredibly BIG need for my personal space. Leave alone my bed, I can’t stand someone living in the same house as me. For a few months, I had a domestic help living in with me and each cell my body revolted at the thought (not because he was domestic help, the revolt would’ve been if it were even my significant other – I know I am broken).

Ok, I am rambling. This is not the point. It’s accepted that V’s home is mine.

The point is, when I was coming back (in the flight), I did not know that I would crave for a home like his. I have been a nomad for a long time now and I never imagined that I’d like to “settle down” and get used to a familial bliss.

No, I am not saying that I want a family and a home but I was craving. I am merely capturing this feeling.

So that.

The other thing within this home variable is the India and non-India conundrum. For me, India has been home (and within India, I have lived in a few cities) and lately, I have been thinking about getting out of India.

Yes, yes, YES, YYEESS I know that it’s India’s century and there’s immense growth and all that here. I know that reverse brain drain is real and people are moving back to India. I know we are growing as a nation. And yet I know that I don’t want to be here in the near future. I may come back to die here but I am very sure that I don’t want to be here in the near future. This I have no doubt on. Even if my business, connections, ideas, and even the family is here.

I dont have a rational reason to get out of here. Like all humans, I have a rationalising creature and I can give a 1000 rationalising reasons why I want to be out of here. And none of them will make sense, now that the decision is made in my head.

So, I have been thinking about where I could go. I would have said the US at the drop of a hat a few years ago. Now, Dubai or Singapore look like better options. Even Bangkok.

Of course I am assuming I’d be able to move to these places. I am definitely not getting a naukri at these places – I am unemployable. I will have to create something and going by my track record, I think it will be tough. But then, if life doesnt throw tough challenges at you and you are unable to take those head on, why are you even alive! So, more than anything else, this is a problem to be solved and I need to put my head together to find a way (you know, either I will find a way or make one). And I shall. Just need to find time to do so. Lol!

Thankfully, apart from this being a rational problem staring me in the face, the good part is that I don’t have a home per se (apart from my parents and now, Vs) that holds me back. Plus I am not sure if I want to build one (I do want to buy houses and all that but I don’t want a home). In fact, instead of a home, I’d love to build a few versions of a Village or a Base across the world. So essentially, I’d have a “home” even when I am on the road and travelling. So that.

So, one of the things that I need to tackle over the next few days is to figure out where I’d spend a lot of my time in the near future. And of course, there are more life decisions to be taken. Lemme talk about those.

D/ Life Decisions.

Now that I have reached an uncle stage (40+), I want to make a few large decisions. The kind of people I hang out with, the kind of people I partner with, the kind of things I work on, the kinds of goals I chase, the kind of things I tolerate. And so on and so forth.

And if this means I need to cut some ties, I will. If this means I need to take a few harsh calls, I will. Even if it hurts. I often remind myself of Prof Jordan Peterson’s sermon on going thru pain of seeing your loved ones suffer. In my case, the loved one are people (more on echochamber) and inanimate objects (businesses, ideas etc).

I’d take each decision from the lens of reaching my goals and fulfilling my ambitions.

The biggest variable will be how I get to spend my time. Do I feel engaged? Do I feel respected? Am I doing something meaningful? Am I doing new things? Am I getting closer to my life goals? Am I making the world a better place, even if in an insignificant manner?

While most of these are intangible, you often can spot patterns. Case in point? I recently completed a year of self-reviews for C4E. I was reading some of the older posts and I realised that while we as a team have remained the same (still on the edge, still a bad month away from ruin, still scrounging around to make ends meet), the kind of challenges we are working on have become larger! So, there’s growth.

Growth! That’s a variable I need for sure. I want to take on larger challenges and not do the same thing over and over again.

Another variable would be people. Am I with the ones that are genuinely invested in my success? Am I spending time with people that I want to help go beyond? Can we create things together? Can we live together? At a village / base!

Oh, a large variable would be the ability to move around and travel. I mean at Manila, I loved being in a new place, in a new bubble, amidst a new place. I LOVED being on the road. I loved the unpredictability that I had to wade through. I hated (and loved) that there’s no easy wifi there. I was so immersed that I hardly clicked any pics (here are some that I did click).

Living as a local for a few days at Manila, I was reminded of the times when Kila and I would stroll around aimlessly in some random gully in a random city in a random country. And while we did not have the money to buy things or chase experiences or pay for admission or eat the fancy things on display, we did soak in as much as we could and made plans of taking over the world. Oh, our naivety! And come to think of it, we dont even talk to each other these days. Wait, I am digressing again.

So at Manila, like most of my trips abroad (and at new places), I did not go to even one touristy place, even though there are quite a few around. Please don’t ask me why and please do not ask me for recommendations – I was on a trip to discover myself and reflect on things.

One of the most important epiphanies was that as I grow older and the time I am left with is shorter, I want to get back to a life where I am on the road all the time. To be honest, in the absence of a home or any tethers, at this point, the only thing stopping me from doing that is a freelance gig with a social media agency in Mumbai (where I need to show in person often). All other clients, work can be managed remotely (apart from meeting people). At this point, I can’t quit that (cos money) but now that I have decided that I will cut a few businesses (see the photo below; found it on insta), I will hopefully be able to in near future. Let’s see when.

Oh, I am hoping to start a couple of additional things (an ad-film production thing and something with C and AK) that may keep me anchored to Mumbai. But I will ensure that I retain my freedom to be on the road. Or the freedom to take a flight at a whim.

Brings me to the next point. The fear of flying.

E/ Fear of flying.

I would have taken 500 flights in my life. If not a thousand.

No, I am not exaggerating. This year alone, I have taken 23 flights and if I were to assume that I take 30 on average in a year, simple math puts the number at 450 (I took my first flight in 2005 or so (DEL to BLR) and there were years when I took about 80 flights!).

And apart from a few bumpy ones where I was scared to death, most have been very eventless.

However, lately, each time I take a plane, I am scared. Not of the bumps. Not of the cramped seats where I’d be confined for hours. But of all that I have at stake. In case I dont make it on the other side, I would leave so so so many windows open.

At 41, the best part of my life is just getting started. I have started to pay back my loan. I have a fabulous team that I love and I want to take care of and taken care of by. There’s some meaning in the work that we do. I have started to get access to larger and grander things and I seem to have reached the first steps of a ladder to sky and what I’ve worked for all my life (impact at scale) seems to be reachable (I am still decades away from this but I now know this will happen!). So, things like planes, heath, fate, randomness and vagaries of life are, well, unpredictable and thus the fear.

I don’t know a solution to this.

Planes are necessary evils, especially for someone like me who HAS to travel at each opportunity. I shall shrug and get on with it! And this month alone I will take at least 3 more flights (if not 5) – all for work. Just that with these domestic flights, I’d get bored. On the flights to Manila, I saw like three films. Lemme talk about those as the next part.

F/ Films.

Even though I want to play a large role in the films business, I have trained myself to not follow popular content on streaming platforms. I rarely see a film. And I feel I’d rather create than consume. I know, you’d say how can you create without knowing. That’s a different debate for a different day.

Today I want to talk about the three films I saw on the long flight back home.

ONE/ Surrounded (2023).

Before I talk about this film, I want to put on record that I will be surprised if this film does not win a lot of awards. Actually, it may not. I don’t understand this business even though I want to be a player in it.

This film is EXACTLY the kind of film that I’d like to make. Exactly the kind of story I would have liked to write. An underdog. Facing adversity. Despite all odds, trusting her instincts at each fork.

I am not the understand the direction or acting but I was riveted to the screen the whole time the film played. Do see it, if you get an opportunity.

TWO/ Covenant (2023).

The best of this film was non-stop, mindless action. And just when you think the film is over, it starts a new arc! Loved the writing. Loved the pace. Loved everything. In fact, I took home a couple of things from it.

a, there is this dialogue that goes something like, “you seem like a guy that pays his debts.”

I want to be the person that pays his debts. And I want to be around people that pay their debts. This will become a very important metric in life.

b, Ahmed. I can write a book about him but I will spare the torture. I want to be an Ahmed to people. I think I am to quite a few. And I need an Ahmed in life. I have Paras that comes close. Probably. I may have a C. A KP. But I don’t think I have an Ahmed. And I need one.

What’s an Ahmed, you may ask me. Well, go watch the film.

THREE/ No Sudden Move (2021)

This one was a very very interesting story. Till the film ended I was left guessing what was even happening! It all looked like a random pulp-fiction-esque narrative (I could be wrong here – you know my relationship with cinema!)

So yea. All three were good. I can recommend all three. If you asked me to pick one, I can’t pick one. Go figure.

G/ M.

I typically dont talk about her in public places and if I do, never in detail. Today I will. At least try to. So while I was with her, I realised that she’s no longer a lump of pink flesh. She’s a human, growing fast and as a pre-teen she has her quirks and whims and likes and all that. And as a part-time parent from far to her, I realise that I am so unequipped to handle. I dont know how V and S manage two smart kids.

As she’s growing, she is finding new things to occupy herself. Her world is expanding fast beyond the pink room full of books and soft toys and all that. I sort of caught her picking hats and sunglasses and accessories at high-street fashion stores. She wrote an essay on why you can’t have monkeys as pets and it had the story arc and all that! She likes to use the iPhone to click photos and she’s damn good at it for her age. Here’s a few unfiltered, unedited pics that she clicked.

She’s growing as a human and I dont think I am ready for a world where she will operate like a mini-adult. She’s the most precious thing to me and while I have been trying very very very hard to make this world a better place, I am scared.

Okay, this is too much revealing. Moving on.

H/ Heat / AC / Etc.

Manila was HOT. Not warm. But HOT. Like RED HOT. And I can’t function when it’s hot. And I realised that while I was in Manila. So, I need to be at a place where AC is an acceptable tool!

Funnily, when I came back to India, the house that I live in, the ACs were not working. And I was like, I ran away from Manila cos of the garmi and here I am, at home, no ACs!

So that. Nothing more.

And I think this is it for the time being. The post is now 3000 words and the length of this post will make AK jealous, my job here is done. Took me three days to write but I am glad how it has come out.

Over and out.

PS: No, I did not talk about Manila at all. Of course, I spent 15 days and I had a lot of fun (and I suffered through a lot of garmi as well) but I can NOT talk about touristy, leisurely things that people do! In case you are looking for things to do there, PLEASE run a search 🙂

Hello 41!

Here are some thoughts about things that I want to prioritise and focus on as I turn 41 years old.

Now that am just a year away from finding the answer to the Ultimate Question of Life, the Universe, and Everything, here are a few things that I would do with whatever time I’ve left.

Starting today.

These are not in any order.

1/ Get more anal about my time.

Truth be told, I am very very particular about how I spend my time. With less and less time available to me here, I would become even more particular about how I spend my time. If I can, I would outsource, delegate, or defer things that I think do not deserve my time.

I would spend most of my time with people who love me (parents, M&m, friends, etc.), people who helped me when I needed help (way too many to list here), people who I work with (in my case a lot of people I work with are the people that love me and vice versa). In that order.

And then if there’s time left, I would think of other things.

2/ Make fitness my #2 priority after time.

This has been a goal since I can remember. And I have failed at it consistently. I recently weighed myself. I am 93 KGs (even though I am 35 inches around my waist). I think my body is dense (which is a good thing) but I need to find a way to get healthier. I do not want to wither away. I do not want to be a vegetable. I definitely do not want to be a burden. So that.

I know I have been gloriously lazy about this. I know I can’t work out (hernia and ankles and extended tailbone and all that) but I can definitely do yoga. I need to find some classes. I don’t think I have the motivation to do it at home with a remote teacher. Now that I “live” in Andheri West, I am sure I can find something that I can walk to. And since I can choose how I spend my time (see #1), I should be able to get that going. This is to happen from 2nd Oct (once am back in India). And then once I get regular at it, I will try to learn swimming (will have to quit Yoga to move to a place that has a pool (Wadhwa)).

While I do this, I will fix my food. I don’t have an option to cook but I know I can spend money to find a way to eat better. Oh, and 8 hour sleep.

3/ Become high-agency.

This one is simple. This thread explains what’s high-agency. Do read this. I read this often. I read it again while writing this piece.

I think I am already high-agency.

I would go higher, and become even more high-agency. Till the time I am the man on a mission and trying to close as many things as I can.

3.1/ I will become a closer. I realize that I am not one. I am at best a thrower of multiple darts, hoping one would hit the bull’s eye. I would create a deliberate life. For myself and the ones around me.

4/ I will travel as much as I can.

I have come to realize that I miss travel. I would thus not leave any opportunity to hop onto a plane, a train, or a car.

No bus. Lol.

5/ I will identify a thing that could become my life’s mission.

At this point in time, SoG looks like it.

I will spend a large chunk of time on making it substantial and larger than me or any one individual. Read this and this. I am sure I’ve written more about this in more places as well. Will compile those.

6/ I will close all windows before I sleep. Each day.

See this for context. This means I will return all phone calls, overcommunicate, and close loops on each open thing. I would also endeavor to respond to emails within 24 hours. If not action, I will make the other side aware of the action. The world runs on tacit agreements, assumptions, social norms, and expected conduct from people at large. I would become the torchbearer of great behavior when it comes to being prompt.

7/ I will try and learn new things.

I have been fiddling with a guitar and a uke for a while. I have been tinkering with Webflow for the last few days. While I worked on webflow, I realised that I am my joyous best when I am learning new things. Webflow is the right thing for someone like me – not very tough, not very easy, doesnt require any foundational knowledge to build on top of, its simple HTML and CSS on steriods (something that I am aware of already). So that.


So, yeah! That’s about it.
Over and out. Time to get serious about time.

Gratitude,
SG

PS: I wanted this list to have 41 bullet points. You know, 41 for 41. Just like I made 40 things for the 40s. But then I couldn’t think of more. If you know me and you think you want to help me become better, please do recommend more things that I could do with whatever time I have left here. And no, I have not forgotten those 40 things that I need to do in the next 9 years.

PPS: Of course, I have come to accept that I may not be as big a deal as I had imagined I would be when I was a child. And I know that I would probably never be like Steve or Paul or any of those people (see this TED talk). But I know that I can be like a Drona. I wrote about this this week only. Maybe I need to take one more shot before I hang my boots?

PPPS: I just uploaded my will. Do make one for yourself. It’s a very sobering and humbling exercise!

The Closure

A life lesson, some ways to be a better child and discovering freedom.

TW: Talks of life, death, aging parents, and all that.

On my last trip to Delhi, I met a senior from MDI (let’s call him A) and we got talking about aging parents, time, regrets, closure, and all that.

He and I faced the same dilemma – on one side both of us wanted to be good children to our respective parents who are aging fast; and on the other, both of us wanted to chase our respective bliss (family and career in his case; more travels, money, and dreams in mine). And both of us wanted both things at the same time.

A simple solution could have been to co-live with parents – like families in India have lived for centuries. But the vagaries of modern life, the stubbornness of old age, and the enthusiasm of infinite ambition make it tough.

I mean, at least in my case, I can NOT live in the same city and thus not in the same house as my parents. My work, my life, and my ambitions are in Mumbai (and inshallah, at some point in the near future, out of India). My parent’s whole life is concentrated around a 500-m road, a park, an army of domestic helps that they manage, and neighbors they’ve lived with for more than 35 years now. The only time they leave this geofence is to visit doctors. They go on travels once or twice a year, for about two days, and are content with that.

A’s parents are home-bound as well and they live in a small town about 150 KMs away from him. One of his parents is bedridden and needs 24-hour assistance. His parents also are geofenced to their neighborhood and the townsfolk that they lived with all their lives. ce In my case, this distance is about 1400 KMs. A’s work requires him to be in a city and the parents can’t leave their row house and the familiarity of the town to move, even if they want to be with their kids.

When I met him, he was exasperated at the prospect of staying away. I had a more morose emotion. I was disappointed, sad, and full of guilt that I was not being a good son. I mean I want my parents to be with me. And I want them to be comfortable. At the place I am in in my life, I don’t have enough to get them even a room of their own in Mumbai. Plus I will move out of India soon (I don’t know how to do this with my aging parents needing constant medical supervision). At these times, I think that I should’ve done a Naukri long ago and with time I would have made enough to have a house that my parents would have converted into a home.

Anyhow. Rant.

Coming back.

In that conversation A made a very pertinent point. I don’t recall the exact words he used but here is my articulation of that. He said that we need to be mindful ALL THE TIME that EACH interaction with our parents could be the last one.

When I first heard this, something snapped in me. While I can see my parents growing old and fading, the reality of them not being around me never occurred to me. I know it’s inevitable and I am a hyper-realist, I should’ve thought of it and planned for it. It reminded me of this post by Tim Urban about the time of life. I had read it a few years ago but the chat with A reminded me of it all over again.

So, A further said that since life is so unpredictable and so fragile, you never know what will hit you when, and often you may be left with things unspoken, unsaid, unexpressed. He then said that each time you speak with your folks, you need to get closure on each conversation, however small, tiny, or insignificant it may be.

Again this closure thought had never occurred to me. Like all things in life, I assumed that it was an ongoing relationship that would stretch to infinity. No, I am not dumb and I am aware of the shortness of life (and the importance of the sense of urgency) but it never dawned on me to get closure on simple conversations. Reminds me of my thing with “closing windows” when I sleep. Reminds me of the frailty of human thought and emotion in the wake of uncertainty.

In fact, most relationships go sour when this closure is absent from them. It could be as simple as saying sorry for the time you snapped. Or could be as large as being at the bedside when someone passes away. Even when someone is leaving the city, the action of dropping at the airport and checking in once they have reached is a closure of that “transaction”. I have famously shied away from these. To the point that I find excuses to not be around when someone has to go. I can’t say goodbyes, even when I know that they are going to a better place. And of course, there have been times when I was denied the opportunity to say goodbye. It still inches often. I regret that I could not. For example, when Poo left, I wanted to hug her tight at the airport but I couldn’t do that. Fucking Samaaj and all that. Not just with friends like Poo, each romantic relationship I’ve had since the beginning of time, I have not got closure. And at least in two of those, I did not offer closure. With my conscious as my only alibi, I know that I tried in both cases but I could not. I needed to try harder. Now, it’s going to be too little too late. I mean how do you tell someone you loved with all your head and heart that the neverending, forever love couldn’t stand the test of time and withered away? How do you tell someone you shared a room, a house with that you don’t feel as special about them as you did once upon a time? How do you tell them that you don’t feel loved when you are around them?

Anyhow. Rant. Again. Arrghh. Need to be better. Coming back. To A and our conundrum.

So, in an ideal scenario, both A and I wanted to be able to chase our bliss while keeping our families together (in A’s case he’s got a wife and two kids and then A’s wife’s parents and all that). If the two things (bliss and family) could intersect and coexist, nothing like it. But they clearly aren’t.

So there are a few options that we seem to have…

A/ Give up on bliss and go family first
A decision that millions of people make every day. And there’s nothing wrong with it.

Come to think of it, at the end of the day, all of us are dead and life has no meaning per se. We are all just space dust floating around without a destination or a reason. Don’t want to get started on the raison d’etre narrative. Will take another million words.

B/ Find a way to chase bliss while you are near them.
So, in my case, rather than being in Mumbai (or out of India), build a life in Gurgaon / NOIDA, etc.

This seems plausible but I am not sure if I want to do this. I don’t like the weather (winters I love but am not okay with heat). I don’t like the lack of professionalism. I don’t have the flexibility or the freedom that Mumbai offers me.

Wait. I think all my decisions in life boil down to this one trait – freedom. I don’t know why though. As a child or a young adult, I have always had the freedom to do more and thus I don’t understand what demon am I running away from. Or what goal am I chasing. I mean, in each thing I do, I seek freedom – not wearing shoes, not submitting to a calendar, not conforming to a dress code, not sitting on the window seat in a plane (cos I want to escape from the aisle fast), not wanting to not drive while I am not in a car. I can list a thousand quirks that make me and I am sure I can trace all those back to my want of freedom.

C/ Accept the inability to be a good son and drop that and chase bliss.
Even if I am unsuccessful at it.

I mean I am 40 41 and I still need to scrounge around to make ends meet). Thanks to the people that work with me, I am able to earn some money but if I look at my life and my work independently, I think I can do more. LOT more. I was destined to change the world. Right now, I am having trouble changing the wifi network on my phone.

No, I do not write this from a negative lens or from a place of self-pity. Neither do I expect any slack from anyone. I am very very grateful for my life and how I’ve been lucky. I mean I write this on an expensive laptop tethered to an expensive phone that has two high-speed internet connections, sitting at a premium cafe in probably the most expensive neighborhood in a country that is not home. And I am here for no reason. How many people have this? Few! So, I am ok.

Just that I am aware of the gap between my potential and my reality. And the opportunity that fate has given me. If I don’t bridge this, it would be unfair. Of course, life itself isn’t fair but we all try. No?

The only open window would be that in chase of grandeur, I would have neglected my parents. And that’s not a good thing.

D/ Find a compromise.
What I am doing right now is a compromise. I travel to Delhi as much as I can. And I continue to try and build a life that I like. I am not doing any of these things well but at least I am trying and doing as much as I can.

Like most things in like, you become a reflection of what you tried and what you left behind.

That!

No. I am not clear on which of the four paths I need to take. When I wrote this, I was leaning towards B and C. When I read this again before publishing, I thought D was the best. So, I don’t know. Let’s see what I end up doing. Stay tuned to find out what I did ;P

Lol.

Okay, this became a long rant. If you’ve made it till here and you want one takeaway from this 2000-word piece, let it be this – our lives are fragile, and unpredictable and we need to aim for closure in each interaction we have, especially with our loved ones.

Over and out.