260721 – Morning Pages

I talk about how I am lagging on the road to EBC, some gyaan I doled out about writing and some random rant.

8:46. Starbucks, Versova. Woke up late. Slept late. I am playing too much chess. No, I am not good at it. No, I dont like it that much that I am playing it all the time. Just that I play chess instead of scrolling Instagram and Twitter mindlessly. You know, mind games :D.

The dark clouds dont seem to dispel. I know it will heal with time. I know time will take its own sweet time. I know I need to remain patient and wait for acchhe din to come back. I just hope they come back soon.

So, that.

Ok, the road to EBC is not smooth at all. Here’s my progress from the first week when I started thinking about it seriously.

Week of 19th July

The first few days were good. And then the next 3-4 were all downhill. In terms of what I am doing (eating!) and not doing (working out / walking etc). Apart from the walk goals, missing on all others. Need to pull up the socks. I don’t want to die on the mountain!

The only silver lining would be last night when I walked 24K steps (to complete 100K in the week). I think there are two things at play here. And I have to mention those.

A. AnAg created a group with a few friends on an app that tracks the steps that each person is putting on. I use that app to give competition to myself and that helps me do better. I’ve realized that I am hyper-competitive and I must keep this lesson in mind. Damn, this social proof is a thing!

B. I happened to hear Disha talk about her experience as a triathlete. And then she talked about other women that are mothers and yet find the time and energy to be competitive triathletes. She wrote a book about their stories. Here. I heard her talk while I was walking and I told myself that if there are people that can battle personal issues, societal biases, lack of money, and all that, why can’t I put in the 24K required to reach 100K!

I wish I was this competitive about making money. Or about using my time judiciously!

Anyhow. Moving on.

I spent some time with a few young writers that are helping me put a content engine at Podium. While talking to them, I realized yet again that I am a coach material than anything else. Or may be I am not and I am merely rationalizing? I dont know. But it was great fun to give gyaan. Here are the top three things that I told them…

a. Create a sacred space that you use specifically for writing. This could be within your house. Or could be a Starbucks. This space should not be mixed with other activities (specifically recreational) and each time you enter the space, you get in the zone. Think temples, churches, mosques etc. Each time you enter, you know you are now expected to behave in a certain manner.

b. Make writing your bitch. Simple. Inspiration must strike you when you want it to. Not the other way around. An easy way to do this is to ensure that you write every day. I picked this from Julia Cameron. And today is the 228th day on the trot that I have published a piece. So, clearly it works!

c. Don’t write to impress. Write because you want to express something. If you think words are not flowing, assume you are writing a longish message to your best friend. Or a colleague. Even if it’s a regular update on how the coffee today sucked, you better write. Plus, you should be ok if no one reads. The intent is to not get read. The intent is to write. Publish. The audience is the unintended side effect. Of course, at a point, you want the audience as well. But for the time being, write for yourself.

So that.

Guess this is about it for the day. Need to get going with things. This week is a busy one. And no, no photos from yesterday to show off. Should’ve clicked some.

Here’s streaks…

  • OMAD – 0
  • #book2 – 0
  • #noCoke – 137
  • #noCoffee – 0
  • #aPicADay – 0
  • Killer Boogie – 0
  • 10K steps a day – 2
  • Surya Namaskar – 0
  • 10 mins of meditation – 0
  • Minimaslism Counter – -1
  • Morning Pages / Meditations – 227

040721 – Morning Pages

A short rant on how I feel after I went for a walk yesterday.

7:45 AM. I slept at 10. Woke up a few minutes ago. More than 8 hours. I dont think I woke up in the night except to have some water. I have recollections of an epic dream where some battles are being fought and all that. No, I dont remember the specifics. Chalo this is a good thing.

So, yesterday. Lemme do a quick recap. Did some work in the morning. Then ate. In one window of 2 hours. So OMAD! Yay!. Then slept in the afternoon for a couple of hours. That’s what I do if I am at the place where I live. When I can’t go to Starbucks or a friend’s house to work. I see the bed and I am magnetically attracted to it! Sigh! And once I woke up from the siesta, I just couldn’t work. I kept wasting time. Towards the evening I tried to go for a run. Lol. I went out and all I could run jog was for 60 odd seconds! Kaise hoga EBC?

Those 60 seconds were straight from hell. The phone flapped around so much that I felt like a circus artist trying to balance all the weight and the movement of the phone. My balls hurt (damn Hernia). My breath didn’t come back to normal for like, forever. I was literally sucking on the mask and I almost swallowed it! The heat in my toes was unbearable. I eventually had to take the shoes off and walk barefoot. I even had to lie down on the beach and had sand all over me.

Damn!

The saving grace of this 2-minute health experiment is that I found a one-rupee coin on the beach while walking.

I plan to go today as well. Let’s see how it goes. I am thinking I will buy an Apple Watch to track movements and sleep. Just that I am unsure if I would like to have another device. I mean I am ok with an Oura or something similar. But a watch or a band is not my jam 🙁

Anyhow.

So, after the excruciating walk, for some reason, I did not want to come back to an empty house. I put some emo tweets as well. Guess am growing old and in absence of any tangible achievements or things to look up to, I am forced to look at things like relationships and people?

We’d never know the complexity of the human mind 🙁

Moving on.

On the work front, I have a lot to do. To a point that I am so overwhelmed that I don’t even know where to start from. Thing is, most weekdays, I am stuck in meetings that take away energy and motivation. And on the weekends when I want to work, there’s no place to go work from. Damn this lockdown. One way is to lock two days in a week for no meetings, no calls, and just work. You know, Maker-Manager?

Apart from these two, to be honest, I have nothing else on my mind. And it’s not cool. I must have more to life than work. I mean I have always hated the concept of people that define themselves with the work they do! And here I am. Defining myself with the lack of work and options to work out from! Not cool.

Will try and change this over the next few days.
Wish me luck.
This is it for the time being.

Here’s the streaks. Changed the order to make it a little more visually appealing.

  • OMAD – 4
  • #book2 – 0
  • #noCoke – 115
  • #noCoffee – 4
  • #aPicADay – 0
  • Killer Boogie – 0
  • 10K steps a day – 0
  • Surya Namaskar – 0
  • 10 mins of meditation – 0
  • Morning Pages / Meditations – 205

180521 – Morning Pages

Longish rant on relationships, life and Hero’s worship. Inspired by the conduct of Bill Gates and other Heroes that I look upto to.

7:40. Yet again, a night when I did not sleep till about 3. And yet again I am groggy and yet again everything hurts. I need to fix this erratic schedule. I don’t even know what’s causing it. Coffee could be one. But I think there’s something deeper at play here. I will investigate and find out this week for sure.

Anyhow. Let’s get to work. Quite a few things to be done. Before I do that, here’s the track of the day is this. Listen here…

It was incredible yesterday. The kind of weather I have never seen in Mumbai. Truth be told, I was a tad bit scared when the winds were howling and the thundering on the windows and despite myself shutting into a closed room I could see things flying around. Heart goes out of the ones that don’t have shelter. I may not tell this to anyone else but since I sort of bare myself on the blog, I have to admit that I walked some 6000 steps in the rain. It felt longer, to be honest, but it was indeed all of 6K steps. This walking in the rain is my biggest guilty pleasure. To a point that I can drop everything I am on and just walk. At those times I don’t even care about my phone getting wet or clothes getting drenched. The muck and mud and fallen leaves and other things that I typically hate, all become a part of me. The water being showered on you may keep changing its speed but when you are out walking, it pierces your skin and literally cleanses the soul. Oh, I love baarish! And walks. Sigh!

As I write this, it’s 8:20 and it’s still windy and breezy and cold and nice outside. If I can finish this post by 9ish, I will probably go for a short walk.

So that.

The other thing that’s clouding my head is the entire Bill Gates and Melinda Gates controversy. Thing is, Bill Gates has been a role model, an inspiring figure since I can remember. He was the original person I wanted to be before Steve Jobs became the thing and then Paul Graham took Steve’s place.

Bill Gates has it all, done it all. I mean he is among the richest people in the world with all the wealth that you can imagine. His best friends include people like Warren Buffett (who himself seemed to have an open marriage). His work with philanthropy is what legends are made up of. He literally gave all his wealth away to fix some of the biggest problems in the world. His thoughts, his writing, his work have been a beacon of hope in the world we live in. At the times we live in.

Damn!

A few months ago, it was Jeff. This time, it’s Bill. I mean why’s it that these people can’t seem to keep their emotions at bay? With all the attention and access they have, why would they chase temporary pleasure to jeopardize all that they’ve stood for their lives? At the level you are at and the impact you are delivering, you do not have to conform to society. No one will ask you a question. Look at film stars and professional athletes and others of the ilk. They are at least open about their chase.

I am actually beginning to think if monogamy is a mere societal construct that’s been around to tame both men and women into becoming milder versions of themselves? I mean if despite all their wealth and power and position and all that the most powerful men and women can’t continue to stay with one partner, there must be some flaw. No?

Thing is, when ordinary people philander, you tend to ignore. You blame their actions on unhappy unions, alcohol, a lapse in judgment et al. But when the hero’s fall, you start questioning the very foundation of your belief system. Hero’s are supposed to know it. They have to have better control and mastery over their emotions. They are heroes for a reason! Plus, you’ve literally built your entire life chasing these heroes and hopes of walking in their shoes someday. It just sucks when they do things that are un-hero-like! Damn!

I felt like I was sucker-punched when I heard about Jeff. Of course, he managed the crisis far better than how Bill is managing. No, I am not justifying their actions. I am on the fence about the institution of marriage (leaning away from it, to be honest). I know I will probably not get married ever. Lol, never say never.

But then if it’s affecting me so much that these people were seeing others out of their marriages, may be, at the subconscious level, I like the idea of stable, 1v1, relationships? If I reflect on my life, I think the first real romantic relationship happened when I was at MDI. Since then I’ve had many more. I have been more “out” of relationships, than “in”.

Wait.

What’s the point of this?

I am digressing.

The larger point is that I must stop with this all adulation about heroes. I must cease the hero worship. I need to accept that people are fallible. People change. It’s ok to cut them some slack. You were born alone, you will die alone. Even the ones closest to you can only make the suffering easy, when you suffer. Why else do you need someone around?

It’s not an easy answer.

I think a large part of why I probably can’t sleep is because I miss having that special someone around? I mean I do have a few great friends that I can confide in, even if they don’t understand me (or may be am unable to make myself understand). Maybe I crave another human’s touch. You know, like a real hug and not one of those virtual things. I have to admit that I did sleep better when I could hug someone and drift into the dreamland. Except for the sore neck the morning after.

Ok. I don’t know where I am going with this. It’s 9:17 and I need to get on with the day. More some other day.

Here’s streaks…

  • Morning Pages / Meditations – 156
  • #aPicADay – 0
  • 10K steps a day – 0. Did about 6K in rain!
  • OMAD – 0
  • #noCoffee – 0
  • #noCoke – 68
  • 10 mins of meditation – 0. Broke a 3-day streak.
  • #book2 – 0
  • Killer Boogie – 0
  • Surya Namaskar – 0

180421 – Meditations

A quick rant and a longish attempt at writing a script. Nothing special for you to look at.

07:19. I am really struggling to keep my head sane with this lockdown. I have become unproductive, I don’t have the inspiration to push myself. I do start the day with a lot of enthusiasm but within minutes, I am left dead with literally no energy to even start the process of starting. While the lockdown is not affecting me directly (I can move around in my tiny house whenever I want to), it is devoiding me of human connection. You know those thought experiments when they ask you if you would be trapped on an island, who would you want alongside? That. I think I will never want to be trapped like that. I would rather live near the busiest street. Here’s the thing. Even when I am with people, I don’t talk a lot. Most of my conversations are superficial. I am fast with my judgments, faster with my approval or dismissals. I don’t do parties. I often avoid traveling even if that means I get to meet the people that I want to be with. But all those things are optional. If I wanted to, I could. It was my choice to not go to Ghatkopar each time people met. It was my decision to not attend a wedding at Kolkatta. I was in control. Here I am. I can’t even step out of my house. I cant see others. What I miss the most is the energy I would get from others around me at a Starbucks where they would be hard at work to make their dreams come true. I am inspired by the ambition of others and the relentless pursuit that they are engaged in. Trapped on my writing table with a 13″ screen, diagonally, of a laptop, I am stuck. I have at least 13 more days to go before the lockdown is lifted. Each of these days is going to get tougher than the previous. You know, misery will compound. But may be with time, I will learn to live in a cocoon? May be I will accept fate and kill that ambitious kid in me? May be I will start faking emotions and actions and other things to get approval from others on Instagram? Let’s see what becomes of me in the next few days. Here’s a tiny chart that probably does not showcase my misery but if there was a horrific chart, it would be this…

The most scary thing that I can ever see.

Anyhow. Here’s streaks…

  • Morning Pages / Meditations – 126
  • #aPicADay – 107
  • 10K steps a day –0
  • OMAD – 0
  • #noCoffee – 39
  • #noCoke – 39
  • 10 mins of meditation – 4
  • #book2 – 0
  • Killer Boogie – 0
  • Original Work (limited time only) – 3

Coming to the script am hoping to write.

While I am struggling to even find the next word, I will try and persist. Like always, I will try to write for an hour. It’s 7:38. Yet again, I don’t have a story per I do have an idea that struck me while I was writing the rant above. What if there a 38-year old underachiever was told that all he had was 13 days to live? How would he react? How would he live the rest of his days? What would he do? Lemme pound the keyboard and see what comes out.

Day 4

[START]

“Roshan, I have a bad news”, declared Dr. Khambata sombrely as he stepped into the examination room where Roshan was lying buck naked.

“What can be worse than totting around my nakedness in front of middle-aged men for I don’t know how many days now! Bring it on.” Roshan knew that something was terribly wrong with him. The local doctors at the tiny government hospital at the hamlet of Indapur were inadequate to figure out why would he get shooting pains up his spine that would end up in a headache so bad that he would pass out.

As a local jester, comedian, master of ceremonies, gym owner, trainer, and more rolled into one, he was quite popular in his town. He had to be. His family was the descendent of the munims of Maloje Bhosle, the grandfather of Shivaji. Between the cousins, literally half the town was related to him.

After a few weeks of inconclusive examination, he was asked to go see someone senior at Pune. Or if he really wanted a solution, to Mumbai. He settled on Pune’s KEM Hospital purely for the ease of logistics.

“I am serious Roshan. You have a rare disease that we havent the medical expertise to give you a solution to.”

“What do you mean?” He still did not understand that his life, or whatever was left of it was about to change.

There’s some fibrous growth in your brain. It’s some form of a cancer but we dont know what it is. And it is increasing everyday. To a point, we suspect, you have… less than 2 weeks.”

You’d imagine that such death sentences would be delivered with little more gravitas, a little more drama, a little more empathy. But when you’ve worked all your life with patients that are terminally ill and the families that are eternally hopeful, you learn how to abstract emotions and facts.

[END]

Additional text that I will probably use somewhere…

  • Roshan’s father died when Roshan was all of 5 and he was raised by his mother.
  • A middle-aged Parsi doctor, Dr. Peston Khambata was attending to Roshan. That was any way the thing with Parsis. You could never guess their ages.

Notes…

1/ I think I have stumbled onto an interesting plot. I feel I have heard / seen it elsewhere. Some names that come to mind are Anand and Sweet November. In both, the protagonists are sitting on a ticking bomb and they attempt to use the time they have to bring happiness to others. There’s another that I think I saw where a guy decides to rob a bank and leave all the money to his family so that they don’t feel the pinch after he was gone. Then there’s Lootera, an adaptation of The Last Leaf where leaves on a tree become the harbinger of death. I am sure there are more. Need to research.

My concept is similar in the sense that my character has a clock ticking, just that there would be a crime / psychology angle to it, rather than a relationship piece. I don’t understand relationships.

2/ I need to find a disease that gives you 13 days to live.

3/ I still write like I write a book. Need to change tracks and start writing like a script.

So, that’s it for the day. Over and out. See you guys tomorrow. Or maybe not. Let’s see.

130421 – Meditations

What started as a recap of the day got converted into a rant. Lol. Read at peril.

6:56. Andheri.

Slept for some 7 hours. And I feel I have overslept. Even though I had a looooong day with a million phone calls and a billion things to remember, I feel overslept. You know how you feel you should’ve woke up earlier? I don’t think I can do 8 hours of sleep. But 7 I think is doable. Must aim for that.

So, I did a 10K yesterday. Walked on Versova Beach. Among other things, a lot of people play cricket there. While I was passing by some of those, I tried to catch a ball or two. I tried to stop one from my feet. I even threw a ball towards someone.

I remember as a child, I was pretty nifty with all these. I may not have been a Jhonty Rhodes but I definitely was among the better ones with my reflexes and hands and feel. I could stretch myself like a rubber band and dive further than a swimmer to take impossible catches. I could outrun the balls racing towards long boundaries. I could then throw right on top of the wickets, if not hit the wickets. I rarely missed.

However, yesterday, I felt I was reduced to a pale memory of my former self. And it hurt, it pained to observe that something that I was good at, I am not longer even considered eligible for. Guess this is how oldies feel when they sort of retire. It’s the worst feeling in the world!

Picture a young man of 22 who’s take a bus to reach the large departmental store where he was a security guard for years. Just that after 40 years in the service, he no longer looks strong. His actions are slower. His reactions are labored. And he knows that there are murmurs of them trying to find a replacement. Replacement of a person that has literally given his entire life to an establishment! Old age. Sigh. I hate this.

Anyhow. The good part is that I did 15K steps. I was tired but I continued to talk. One of the main issues why I can’t do some sort of a work out (apart from my Hernia that is troubling me all over again – need to get operated finally) is the boredom that sets in after a while. I think the secret is that I need to schedule the calls that don’t need me on video or a computer for the time I walk. For example, yesterday, I had calls from 6 till 830 that did not require me to be on a video and I walked for the most part of it!

Earlier I would listen to podcasts but I think I need something more engaging. More involving. More proactive. You know, like a conversation. Agreed that there’s background noise but I think most people are ok to make that concession. The world is kind like that.

In other news, there are rumors of a lockdown from tomorrow in Mumbai at least. If that happens, I will probably not survive. I mean humans are like cockroaches. They’d find their way through even the nuclear war (remember Wall-E?). But I can not be closeted in a house. A small one at that. I need space. I need to move around. I need people. Even if I don’t talk to them. I am ok to not talk to them. But I need to observe. Make secret jokes to myself about how they are dressed, how they behave et al. But I need them. I need the fresh air that the “modern homes” in Mumbai are not capable of providing. I need to, need to have access to literally an open sky. Of course with an AC in that room. Lol.

Ok. I am digressing. The point is, I can’t survive a lockdown. I have to escape it somehow. Even if I get fined by the cops or get a whack on my butt, I need to be out and about! Fuck this pandemic. Fuck the stupidity of people. Fuck the majboori of the world that they are forced to risk their lives to make ends meet. Fuck our incompetent policymakers and politicians and others that could’ve done better. Fuck Saurabh Garg. For always being on the sidelines when the crisis hits and not taking any action. I had more than one year to get active, learn more, foresee the crisis, and plan for the contingency.

Deep breath, Mr. Garg. You are ranting. The point is not to get angry. The point is to find an alternative to what is coming my way. May be I will borrow VG’s car and hit the road without a destination in mind. I will probably end up driving to Goa but still. If the North East was not that far, I would probably drive all the way there. Let’s see what the government declares tomorrow. Once that happens, I will decide.

So, It’s 8:14 and I have a call at 9 AM. So I have about 45 mins to write for #book2. Let’s see what I create. I am going to write about something that I have not written so far. I mean I may have written on one of the previous passes over the years but I will stay away from usual suspects (Rujuta, Raunak, Mrs. Gomes, Udita, Chintan, etc). Here we go.

[START]

“How much is enough?”

“More than what the world has to offer.” Despite what he did or what he was infamous for, he was a very well-read person at the end of the day. His repertoire included texts not just from Hinduism and Christianity but also from western philosophers, obscure thinkers, scientists, and statesmen. And he knew he was intelligent and knew all of that. And that coupled with his false sense of insecurity is what made him a highly functional sociopathic. And he knew this as well. And he used it to his advantage. Every time he had to do something that even he would not agree with, he would use the excuse of his sociopathic traits to get justify his actions. Like this time.

“How can one man have all of it already? And still want more?” His father asked.

“That’s the point. I know I am here for a limited time. Maybe another 30 years if I don’t get killed by all the vodka that I love. And I need to be sure that when I die, the world stops moving. If I cant enjoy all that the world has to offer, why should anyone else get an opportunity?” He was bereft of any emotion when he spoke that. As if it’s a universal truth that most pundits would agree upon.

His father was exasperated. There was no point in breaking his head over the stubbornness of his son. “This is not how it works. You are far intelligent than that…”

He cut his father midway and retorted, “That’s your problem, father. You never thought I was good enough to carry the fabled heritage of the Pauls. There was always someone else that had your affection.”

He took a pause. Poured himself some vodka and gulped it at once.

Even though his father was strict about not getting any alcohol in their house, the younger Paul was insolent.

“You think so?”

Ankit smacked his lips and said, “I don’t think so. I know. I am not dumb. You know it. I know it. There was always someone else that you held in higher regard. Ever since I was a child, you have ruled with an iron fist. I was punished for no reason. I was pushed against the wall all time. Why did you not just kill me right away when I was born? Why put me through all this suffering?”

He put his mouth to the bottle of Belvedere that he was carrying and took a big drag. This was not his choice of vodka, he had finer taste but this is what was available at the shop en route his ancestral home.

The father could respond to each accusation that was being hurled at him but he knew better. “Son…”

“I don’t want your fake sympathy. Give that to all of your proteges that you thought were better than me. I’ve come here to ask for the Green Book.” He dropped the bomb.

The Green Book was more treasured, holy, and inaccessible than the innermost Sanctorum of the most revered shrine in the world. It has been passed down their family for countless generations. Apart from the father and son, no one even knew that the book of life existed.

The father was not surprised at the demand. He knew that this day would come. Just that he did not expect it to come this soon, on the 30th birthday of the son. But then, the book did have hints of a big upheaval around the same time.

“What would you do with it? You know far more than what one book can teach you. And you have seen it. There’s nothing in there that you do not know about.”

“Again! I am not dumb, father. I know that that book is as worthless as toilet paper. But that book father is also when a Paul boy becomes a man. That book father is when a Paul passes on his reins to his son. That book father is what a Paul is born to inherit. It belongs to me and I am here to lay a claim to it before you betray the family and give it to someone outside. I will not let the Paul’s name go to ruin.”

It was ironic that the two of them were talking about the legacy of their family and both seemed to on the opposite ends of a river. Neither realized that they were at the opposite ends of a candle that’s burning from both sides. A far urgent, far ferocious inevitability. While the son could not see this, the father could see the writing on the wall. He had tried to delay this as much as he could. But the time seemed to have come. The book is never wrong.

He submitted.

“What you are doing right now is taking us closer to ruin than anything else has ever. The family has survived fires, floods, famines, false promises, and far more. You have read about it. I taught you myself.” He lowered his voice. “You were my brightest student, Son, but the book, the Pauls, you and me, this is where our story comes to an end.”

With a quick motion that surprised even himself, he flung the book into the fireplace.

[END] 8:57! Yay!

Anyhow. So, here’s the streaks.

  • Morning Pages / Meditations – 121
  • #aPicADay – 102
  • 10K steps a day –1
  • OMAD – 1
  • #noCoffee – 34
  • #noCoke – 34
  • 10 mins of meditation – 0
  • #book2 – 0
  • Killer Boogie – 0