Introducing #tumseNaHoPaaega

So, this is going to a long, whiny, cribby post where I am going to talk about work. Which, if you follow this blog, you would know that I hardly do (I crib often but I talk of work rarely). And now that I am gonna talk about it, I am going to pour my heart out. I will be a whiny old man and I will crib like I do it for a living. Also, I started writing this post yesterday, did not have it in me to end it then -- got too depressing. And no, I dont need any consolation. 

P.S.: This post is in three parts. 

Part 1
Today, I lost this pitch that I knew I was going to win. Team and I had poured our hearts into it. We had worked hard. I even visualized how that would it look like when I am actually gonna go it, as they preached in The Secret. You know, if there is one thing that I was ever sure of, it was that I was going to win it! It was like a done deal.

Just that it dint happen.

Most times I am not the kinds to cry about the times I lose. This time, I cant stop the fucking tears (literal tears, it still doesn't hurt enough I guess that I bleed my eyes out) The pitch was super important for a lot of reasons. To start with, it was the first time we actually had a shot at doing something substantial after almost a year of failed attempts at generating new business. Plus it would have been such a big piece of business that it would have meant a runway for almost 3 months. 3 may sound small to you. But to me, at the scale and level that I operate, each day is a battle. Plus it would give me the confidence that I could be an outsider and do well. Plus this time I had a friend who could tell me where I was fucking up and where to correct the damn course. And despite her help, if I cant win a pitch, I dont think I can ever win one.

Not winning it also means that I let down myself, my investors, team, vendors, friends, believers and a host of other people (in that order).

The funny thing is, there is no rational reason for not getting the project. It just dint click. Like you know, at times you plug on something and it just doesn't start?

Of course I can console myself by saying that I, we did everything that we could and there are things that you cant control. Well, that talk is for losers. The fact of the matter is that on the day shit was supposed to go down the wire, we were not good enough. And I am told that being great, good enough or shoddy is directly correlated to your inherent talent, amount of hard work you put in, the hustle and that bitch called luck. Luck. Well, it confuses me. There are times when she sleeps with me and gives me the best orgasm ever. And there are times when I do all I can to woo her and she wont even look up at me.

Coming back, probably we werent good enough. And that is non-negotiable. Thing is, for me, work is personal. The two, personal and professional dont exist in silos. To me there are no boundaries. I exist to work. My purpose is to create great work. Try at least if not deliver greatness. If I am awake, I am working. If I am not working, I am thinking about work. If I am not thinking about work, I am asleep. And if I am not asleep and not working, I am dead. It is that simple.

There are two places that I can go from here. Down the valley of despair. I could hide myself in a cold dark room and not come out of it for months. Or I could take lessons and move on and come out stronger, better and all that. I think I'll the middle path. Start by crying and coming out on the other side.

Lets see. Thanks for tolerating the post.

Wait. You think the damn post is over? It is not. Because I was busy with an event while I was writing it. And something just happened that made the hole bigger and I will have no other option but to jump in.

Part 2
So, I am at a project venue. And I am a small part of a big team that is working to pull this project off. And the team has fucked up big time. And as always, I am trying to sort the muck that has been forced upon me. And I dont like it. I want to do things my way. Do less work but do good work.

More than not liking things, at the event, there was a big big goof up under my watch. Because of something that I was not responsible for. Of course, it was a team effort and if someone from my team has failed, I am responsible for that. I had to go and apologize to my team, clients and myself.

Dont want to get into details but you can read more at...

Right now, I feel like shit. So shitty that I dont know what to do or who to talk about. I want to bury myself in a pile of quilts in a cold, dark room with no communication to the outside world. Update. I did that. After I checked out of the event venue, I got into the next hotel and did that. 

Part 3 
And this is where I announce the launch of a new hashtag on my blog. #tumseNaHoPaaega. It will evolve as a collection of things and places and opportunities where I've fucked up. All those posts will be tagged #tumseNaHoPaaega and will be accompanied by the following image.


Why? Because this one dialogue says more than what an entire book can! For the uninitiated this is from this movie called Gangs of Wasseypur and if you need context, see this.

Over and out!

Update (in case you care). I slept off for the most part of the day after and I am ok now. Ok enough to be little ok and write this post. But not ok enough to let go. I will prevail. Wait and watch.

Notes. The other things that I thought about and wanted to include in this post, but could not, are... 
  • You are alone.
  • Show business is unlike any other. There is so much excitement and there is so much hard work and it just takes one small incident to fuck up things. 
  • Confidence is at an all-fucking-time low man. Need something, someone to help me get out of this. I dont know what.

Notes from trip to Bangalore

I am starting a new thing today. Dont know if this is new, I may have done this in the past as well. But what the heck. Here it is.

So I went to Bangalore last weekend. I had one piece of agenda. Meet a couple of people who I wanted to invest with (and before you ask me, it is not a big investment. Less than 5 lakhs).

Apart from one meeting scheduled with them, I had left my plan open. I had 48 hours in Bangalore and here is what I did there.

In no order.

1. Met a fan-turned-friend-turned-crush-turned-friend. Have met her on few more occasions before this and unlike others who you meet once in a while and lose touch, have stayed in contact with this one. More than anything else, she is one of those few people who believe in me. I know come hell or high water, she will stand by me. Thank you, D.

2. Met the guys I was supposed to invest with. Two dudes, both older than I, run the startup. A great mix of technical competence and business acumen. And since both are older that me, they are wiser and more experienced than me.

So I spent large part of a day with them. And while I was with them, I realised a few amazing things. Here is a list of top three takeaways.
  • While they have the vision, they suck at explaining that vision. Someone has to work with them to craft the vision. And why is important? Because most early hires and investors and customers will buy into that vision. So, they need someone to handhold them with that. 
  • Founders are a different breed. They are clear about the mission they are on. And even if they are wrong, they dont accept inputs and advice on the face value. Either you have to have reputation to change their opinion or you bring in some anecdotes that make sense to them. Or you present some data. In my case I figured something else - I threw them a chain of logic (like A follows B, B follows C and so on and so forth and they seemed to understand). 
  • Its a long long term game that most founders are in. Some get lucky to reach their destination fast. But most sort of fall along the way. The idea is to create enduring value and make wealth along the way. 
#note2self: I need to meet more founders and get into more intimate discussions and write more. Why? Helps me get clarity. And allows me to create content that helps others. 

3. Met a friend / classmate / distant cousin for breakfast. We went to this place that's been themed as a bicycle cafe. Ok place. Slow service. And while they took forever to get our breakfast, I did some digging and found that its co-owned by TI Cycles. It reeked of an idea that someone like me could've cooked up and served to a rich person on a platter.

#note2self. I was thinking, if I decide that I dont want to work on events, there's nothing else that I can do. Scary. No? More on this in some other blogpost someday. 

4. Met another fan turned friend. This one is like the first one. Will stand by me through thick and thin. I wish I could spend more time with her. Thank you, A/T. If you are reading this, so sorry for making you wait. I will come back to Bangalore soon and spend more time with you. Promise. 

5. Met a friend who runs a fairly well-funded and a "visible" startup. At the same meeting, met another acquaintance that runs a startup in the events space. Talked to them about variety of things, including gossip on other startups, how to leave your mark (after you are gone), the future (retirement plans), aspirations and what not. Super engaging conversations. The kinds that make you high even without any whiskey or something. Plus talking to the events dude made me realise that its still Day 1 for events as a business. And if that is indeed the case, its such an amazing time to be around! 

6. Met friends from MDI for dinner / drinks. As always, super conversations. Played pool with a stranger and he beat me like I were a kid. And he played with just one hand most of the time.

#note2self. Become at least a pro-am level player so that I get to win most games that I get to play when I am chilling out. I mean what are the odds that I will bump into Bata at a club in Mumbai?

7. Met Shom. I can write an entire book on the two odd hours I spent with Shom. He is as cool, as extreme, as great, as super as they come. He can write, sing, play guitar, paint, code, think of business ideas, do startups, roll a perfect one, compose and what not. He is literally the Mike Ross that I want!

He is amazing and little quirky and little all over the place -- he is exactly like me when I was his age. I HAVE to get him to work with me. Dont know how. If you are reading this, Shom, please, lets do this!

Apart from that I did things like sleeping at the airports, spending a fortune on numerous cab drives within Bangalore and splurging money on things as frivolous as donuts, lounges and airport showers.

But then it was a great break from the daily rigmarole. I need to take these breaks more often. And for that I need more opportunities to engage with smart brains. #note2self. Create more opportunities. 

Over and out.

P.S.: Thanks to VG for instigating me to write. I dont know what I'd do without him. 
P.P.S: While I was editing this, I realised that random people (that are not related to you by blood or proximity) have had such a huge role to play in my life that its not funny. Thank you, Universe. 
P.P.P.S.: Not happy with how this post has come out. May be I will improve as I go along. Feedback? 

Untitled. Nov 2017

There is no context. There is nothing that I want to talk about. All I want to do, is to write.

Thing is, its been some time (last I wrote, it was Oct 9) that I've written. On this blog. Or elsewhere. Not that I am Gulzar Saab or something that words flow moment I fire up my laptop. You know, writing is such a big part of me that I cant survive without it.

Last few days have been messed up -- lots happening on personal front, work front, ambition front and all other fronts that you can imagine. And because it was messed up, things that keep me going (like writing and music and people and travel) did not get any attention. With this, I am trying to get back on track.

To be honest, I am not sure what to talk about. I can talk about what has wrecked havoc in my life but that could get too personal to talk on a public forum. I can talk about issues at work but who wants to listen to a grown up man rant about office politics and his failure to lead a business? I can talk about how I started with personal coaching (I now have a coach - three cheers to that) and the first lesson that I took from that. If you are curious, the lesson is that I need to stop pimping my poverty. More on this some other day. Moving on, I can talk about Suits and the fact that Harvey and Mike are yet another duo in line with my previous post. I can talk about my experience from last few sessions at EMDI.

Or I can talk about relationship gyaan that I was giving to a friend yesterday? Yeah that sounds cool. I know I am not qualified per se (I am not the most successful at love and I dont really have any deep, meaningful relationships with either friends or family) but I think talking about it, writing about it will help me get clarity. After all thats how I stumble on my best ideas - by holding conversations and by writing about em. Here's it!

So, I told her, there are three kinds of love.

A. Love at first sight kind of love.
You meet a girl. You love the way she talks, you love her brains, you love her looks, you love the way she dresses, you love her confidence. Or a combination there of. You fall for her. And if you are lucky, she'll love you back.

Most popular media paddles this kind of love. Often you are opposites. You are the prince charming and you fall for the goofiest girl in the school. You are a cop and you fall in love with a gangster. You are a famous actress and you fancy a simpleton. Etc etc.

And then, you guys slug it out. You set in for the grind over the rest of your lives (assuming that love lasts a lifetime). You see brains get sharper, beauty fade away, personality change and all that. And you either adapt to it, grow with it. Or you get disappointed. Either way, the thing that you got together changes.

I know I am biased. Stay with me. Please. I will come back.

B. The rational love.
You make a list of things that you want your partner to have. Certain intelligence, certain level of bank balance. Certain level of maturity. Some level of beauty. Etc etc. And once you have a checklist, you look for people that, say, tick off at least 8 of those 10 things. You make a shortlist of those people. And then you tell all of them that.

Whoever accepts the proposal (either they love your sense of organisation or they love your looks or something), you start communicating with them and tell your reasons to try and "create" love. And then the two of you work hard to make things work. You work like hell. Put in real hard work.

Keywords are rationality, checklists, communication and hard work. You reduce a thing like love to a business problem. I know its boring and all the mush and serendipity and unpredictability and excitement and all those things go missing once you do this. This love is unlike any love that you have seen in films or books or other things. But then think for a minute about all those people who create those things that have given you the very idea of love. They didn't just "fall" in love and whiled away their lives. They created a piece that inspired you. That piece required work. It was creation. Not revelry.

Again, let me park this here. I will come back to this. Promise.

C. The blind love.
For some irrational reason, you fall so hard for a person that you are willing to ignore all the shortcomings that the other person has.

If you are lucky, the recipient of your love will give you some shreds back but thats about it. You cant expect that love to fulfil you. I dont even know if that qualifies as love. I actually dont believe in this kind of love. But I know this one exists. I have friends who swear by their partners and lovers despite their obvious issues.

You want it, choose at peril.

***

So, now that I have defined the three kinds, I think you need to pick the kind of love you want to subscribe to.

For me, someone who believes in rationality and wants some bit of magic, I think the best thing to happen would be Type A. But then I am not the kinds to be able to attract the opposite gender. Plus I dont have such a large circle of friends that I create opportunities to bump into a magical woman. I also know that I dont hang out too often at cool places to create happy accidents. So I will have to "settle" for Type B.

Now, dont get me wrong about the settling down. It is not inferior. In fact its the purest form of companionship. Its something that you have worked hard on. Its something that you cant blame external factors on. If it works out, you get to take the credit. If it fails, you gotta blame yourself. There is just you that is responsible for it.

Such love makes you better. Such love helps you grow. Both of you works hard and help each other along the way.

Lemme connect to the higher purpose of life (and to those two threads that I have left hanging). We are not here to paddle paper or sell sugared water. Our purpose here is to create. And inspire others in the process. What if you get the love of your life to help you create more? What if your love pushes you to do more, do better? The love helps you grow. And with each shred of growth, the bond gets stronger. With each new day you actually create things that are meaningful. And how did you do that? With love! Love becomes that catalyst, the magic potion. Your unfair advantage!

Makes sense now?

What do you think? Whats your take on love? Tell me about it!

P.S.: For people like who have limited talent, limited brains, the only key to success is putting in the hours. Long and strenuous. I am told hard work eats talent for breakfast. I am yet to see it happen. But I am willing to give it a shot. So, even for matters of heart, I think hard work is better than serendipity any day.

The coaching conundrum

There is this Lucky Ali movie - Sur (wiki). I havent seen it but I know of the plot (thanks to this song). Then there is THE Whiplash.

While the two movies appear different, I think there is a common theme. That of this maverick who is on the lookout of someone that could take the legacy of the maverick ahead. Of course this is not exactly that either movie stands for but let me take that as the initiating thread. Maverick. Searching for someone to lead the legacy. Someone who's inherently talented but needs some bit of polishing. Lemme pause here for a second. Will come back.

So, the thing is, I am no maverick and I am not sure if I can help shave off the edges but I think I am pretty ok in terms of brains and capability (though I have nothing to show for it). Lemme call this Thread A.

Thread B is that out of three things that I want to do in life (by Jan 1, 2026), one is impacting a billion lives. And while impacts could be tough to quantify,  I'd love if impact is so big, so huge that they are 10x better as a result of my intervention. And no, I dont mean to play no God. No, I am not chasing immortality. And no, I dont know how to go about it. But I do realise that thats what I want! And I want it bad. Bad like B-A-D.

Now I understand that I may not improve things at the 10X level for everyone. But if I could do a 10000X for some, I'd be happy. Think of Mickey Goldmill. Who worked with a nobody and made a Rocky outta him. What if I could be the Mickey Goldmill to a few? Work with them, enable them to be so good that the entire world recognizes their talent.


Of course all this assumes that I have what it takes to be the coach, a mentor, a guide, a someone that nudges you to be a better version of who you are. Or, like conventional wisdom says, you must have done better yourself and you must know what it takes to carve a raw stone into a diamond. Like Lucky Ali in Sur, like I-dont-know-his-name in Whiplash. Which I am not. So thats a problem as well. Lets call this C.

So, if I club A, B and C, one of the things that I MUST do in life is to be a mentor. A coach. And even though I may not be the best, I need to still learn and be one.

So, I try hard to be one. Everyone I meet, irrespective of their age or the place where they are at, I try and see possibilities (what makes me think that I can spot talent better than the people themselves or others in their respective lives? Nothing. Blind faith in self. Or overconfidence ;)). Some days I get lucky when I nudge some people. Those days are among the happiest days of my life. All the Serotonin that I've ever had in my life comes rushing into my head!


And all was hunky dory.

Till... Lol! Took me so many words, thoughts to come to the point. Sigh. Mr. Garg needs to work on brevity. 

Till... some days back, someone brought something to my notice. And while I want to dismiss it, it has stayed with me and I want to vomit the feelings out and not think about them again.

She said that while I love to "interrupt" regular lives of people and nudge them to do things that I think they ought to be doing, the person on the other end may not appreciate my interruptions. And since I come across as a pushy man, they often do not have the balls to voice their rejection. And as a result, rather than helping people, I end up hurting them. Rather than shaving off the rough edges, I break the damn rock.

And that, to me, is NOT cool at all.

Agreed that I want to make people better but I dont want them to suffer. Agreed that they may not know what is best for them. Agreed that even though they have the gift, they may not want to acknowledge it and not work on it. Agreed that 80% of what you need to be world-class at something requires just 20% of time and rest is deliberate practise. And as the beholder of the talent you may not want to chase it to perfection.

But... but... I believe that the road to greatness is paved with sacrifices and practise and it is definitely starts beyond your comfort zone. And as someone who's been gifted with talent and brains and other things, its your moral responsibility to go chase greatness. Its a debt that you owe to the Universe. You HAVE to push hard and go achieve that greatness.

Why? Because with each shot at greatness, you would create something new. You will push limits. And in the process inspire others. If my mere nudge breaks you, may be you dont have the gift that I thought you had? It is unfair that I break someone who I thought had the gift. But if in the process of discovering the next big thing, I have had to do some collateral damage, I think I am ok with it!

And no, when I say these things, I dont think of people as objects. I think of them as conduits of doing the impossible. It is people that proved that Earth wasnt flat. We discovered the fire, invented the Internet and sent a man on Moon. We will go on to do amazing things and each of these things will get initiated by us humans. And the ones that were gifted and polished their gifts.

Yeah! I think this is what defines how I look at things. I think the Whiplash guy got it right. Ignore the ego, ignore the rude behaviour and all that. Its people like him, who I think bring the best out of the ones who deserve to be the best. I wish I had someone like that to egg me on. Someone to throw a Cymbal at me!

Phew! Now that I've put this out there for whoever to read, I AM lighter. Thank you, Universe. And for all those who need someone to push them, nudge them, polish them, I am on saurabh.garg AT gmail.com. Lets do this.

P.S.: Do see this. And then, read this.

Day 2. Oct 2017.

So, after a mammoth post yesterday (that took me a few days to write), its time to write one that is tad light-hearted. And while I was thinking of ideas to write on, I thought, why not write some words for #book2? Incidentally, #tnks started like a blogpost. Here goes. 

If Purav wasnt howling his lungs out at the dead body of Birju, the cops could've never ended the 30-year long run of the fearsome Danveer Karna Sevak Gang. Unlike their name, that meant servants to the mythological figure of Karna, they weren't really servants per se. They were merely a group of 5 thugs, notorious for stealing precious artifacts from museums, temples and palaces and selling them off to collectors. Amongst known list of robberies to their credit, the big ones included the Royal Crown of The Nizam of Golconda, original paintings from the time of Akbar from Itimad-ud-Daulah’s tomb near Agra, Sword of Ibrahim Lodhi from a museum in Delhi, statue of Shiva from the little known Rameswara Siva Temple at Kolkata and more.

The modus operandi was very simple. 5 of them will shortlist a target, often handed over to them by their contact. They would do an extensive research to understand the security arrangements and strike when no one would expect them to. And once they had stolen what they wanted to, they would part ways and lay low for months. Once the heat on the case was gone, they would regroup, often at Sehore, about 40 KMs from Bhopal. Partly because it was bang in the middle of the country and partly because Birju, the leader of the gang was a priest at the one of the hundreds temples in the district. Plus, it was nondescript enough to not warrant any additional attention to the gang when they did meet. Of course there was the curious case of these strangers walking into the temples once every few months and Birju Dada, as he was fondly called, disappearing for a few days. But back in small town India, such occurrences could be easily explained by dismissing these travels as side effect of having a large family.

After stealing this 14th century Bible from a church in Goa, they had decided to again part ways, with Birju taking the loot with him and regroup at Sehore after 4 months. If there was a change in plan, Birju would publish a specific obituary in Delhi, Mumbai and Kolkatta editions of the largest newspaper, Nai Duniya and mention date and time for the prayer meeting. You just had to apply a small cipher to know of the exact date on which you were expected in Sehore. Thing with obituaries is that while people read it with interest and take a note of the long list of apparently grieving family members no one really pays any attention to who had died.

When the last obit carried the photograph of Birju himself, the gang had a hearty laugh when they were together. Birju had said that he was out of his collection of stock images and was too lazy to get more photos from the local photographer. Little did he know that he was going to be this accurate!

***

Thats about it. For some reason I cant get more than 500 words but at least I've put something up. Like Seth said yesterday,

Alive. And Kicking.

Last few days have been such a roller coaster ride. From trying to recuperate after a stressful event (which went ok) to doing another under duress (which went ok as well) to getting a painful operation surgery that was supposed to be painless (happened on the 23rd and till date there are no signs of respite), I dont think I have ever undergone these many transitions in my emotions in this short of a span. Ever.

I dont even know how I will write this. But I am still going to try. Stay patient. Will you?

Lets start with a list of thing that have been wrecking havoc in my head. In no order...

A. I turned 35.
That means I am now old. In no survey around the world I am a part of youth.

Apart from this, I was supposed to be a billionaire by the time I was 35. This is THE only truth I had known since I was a kid. I remember when I was passing out of MDI, I had told a friend that I will be a dollar millionaire and a dollar billionaire by the time I am 25 and 35 respectively. None of the two has happened and no, I dont say this lightly - if I were to die tomorrow, I will not be a happy man at all. To me, the only way I measure the impact you've had in the world is by the amount of money you've made and the number of lives you've touched / impacted / changed / touched. Money - few lakhs. Lives - fingers on a single hand will be lot more than the count.

I will come back to this. Lemme set context and talk of large themes.


B. I got my first ever evasive surgery done.
Yes I am lucky to not have had any big medical complications in these 35 years.

And if you are curious, it was a nasal polyp surgery. And it was painful. My respect for women has gone up many notches, now I know how surgeries could feel like. I dont know what makes them go through the labour pain to get a life to the world. And is this the kind of world where you want to bring a life to? Well...

Anyhow, the surgery meant that I was in the hospital for a few days and I was under a lot of pain and distress. And I was hungry. And since I was given general anaesthesia (GA) so that they cut cut the damn thing from inside of my nose, I could not even drink water (for more than 12 hours. And since I breathe through my mouth, the throat, lips and all other things were parched like a forgotten road in the damn Sahara). I dont remember much from after the surgery once I got my senses back; except that I was in the ICU and begging for water. I remember folding my hands and asking the nurse on duty to let me die if water was that toxic for my system. Again, more on this at some other stage.

Also, I realised that my capacity to tolerate physical pain is very low. And the experience has made me rethink a lot of things in life. The first one - the shot at the Everest. Thing is, while I will prepare for it, out there, you dont know what hits you and when. And unlike at home where you have doctors and medical science and money and time and nature by your side, up there, you have nothing. May be a couple of injections with adrenaline shots.

At some trek when I had hair. Lemme use this opportunity to show off. No? 

Second, I want to change the world and all that but in case I cant tolerate pain, how am I supposed to set an example?

Third, when I am in pain, I become someone else. I am often rude (to taxi guys that I use to commute from my place to the clinic, to chemists that dispense meds, even to my parents who are with me, like a rock!). I become someone that I am not. And I need to fix that.

P.S.: Whoever said Nasal Polyp surgery is painless, please do go get one. I will change my name if do not scream your lungs out. The procedure could replace those ancient torture methods. The kind of shit they make you go through, its unimaginable.

First you are suffering from a polyp - that means while the surgery happens, you would not get water for 12 hours (like I mentioned above). When you eventually get back to eating and drinking and all that, you cant feel the relief because there is this thing in your nose that makes your life uncomfortable. It is stuffed with meters of gauze, rolled into a thin tube. But thankfully, there is water and food. And btw you are still breathing from your mouth.

They remove gauze after about 3 days. When they do, you realise that all the blood and muck and other things inside of your nose has dried along with the gauze and is now stuck to the open would. Inside of your nose.

And how do they remove it? They yank it out. Simple enough.

But when they do that, it comes along with it flesh (ripping the wounds that had just started to heal) and some more blood. No, you are still not breathing. Neither from your nose because theres muck there. Nor from your mouth because you are screaming out loud.

No, its not over.

After this thing is out, they put a tiny suction pipe into the nose, goes about 3 inches inside (yes. 3 inches) and they start to literally scrape off leftovers with it. Again, nerve cells tingle so much, so bad that you are screaming. And no, you cant move your head. If you do, the drill suction pipe may damage something else.

They could give you local anaesthesia but thats another horror story altogether. Its like a spray in your nose. The first ten milliseconds are nothing. And then it starts to hurt the nose. And slowly, like a drop of water trickling down a dry surface, the pain descends to your throat. It gets "heavy" - at least you cant scream after that. If you do, I dont remember hearing it. Oh, the anaesthesia is local. Local as in millimetres local. The suction moves around so much that its actually of no use.

Also, this is where treatment for most patients end.

For me, for some reason, I had to get a silicone thing embedded in my nose. And stitched. Thankfully I was injected (not sprayed) with some more anaesthesia before that happened. I would've died otherwise. I dont know how do women get the nose pierced. While it looks gorgeous, it cant be simple. Second time when I realise that women are so much so much stronger. All this while I would think of women and men as merely equals. No they are not. They are better.

Coming back. I am not sure what are the next steps. I need to see the doc in a few days. If the nose is healing well, this silicone thing may be removed (by, I am guessing cutting the stitches and yanking it out, hoping it doesnt come along with more pain or blood, and thus no further surgery). If its not, I will have a second round. And no, I dont have it in me to go through it.

I now know of the plight of patients that need painful treatment to be able to see slim chances of survival.

To me, pain was an academic interest area at best and I would use it loosely all the time. I would write about it in my blogs, books book and other things. I would romanticize it when I would see a Rocky or a Rambo revel in it. I would think of it as a no big deal when I saw people fall down and hurt and cry. Now I know what a wound is. Now I know what pain is. And I dont know if I have hurt any sentiments ever over pain, but if I have, I apologize.

This thing has made me appreciate life a little more. Respect others a tad more. Hope the change is permanent.


C. This is probably the longest that I have gone without writing. 
More than a month now.

To the ones who meditate and the ones who pray, they would know how they feel when they are devoid of practise. I feel that something really important has been taken away from me. Some part of me has been taken away. Something has happened that makes me incomplete. After all this blog, this set of posts that I know no one reads (except Vivek and at times PD) is the thread that sort of gives meaning to my life. Like I keep saying, apart from living, this is the longest I've ever done something.

And no, I have no plans of stopping. And everytime I am away from it, I feel this void that nothing seems to fill, but a spewing of words on this blog.

And no, I am not complaining. I just wish I could do this everyday.



So, now that a broad table of contents (and a not-so-short rant on the surgery) is laid on the well, table, here are some thoughts. In no order. Lol. Why would I put a table of contents if I wasnt hoping to follow any table? Never mind.

First. My underachievement conundrum. Like I have said this a million times, I feel like a am a failure.

I mean look at any culture around the world. They would have their respective definitions of success. Most would have money, contribution to society, family, making the world a better place in varying degrees. Thing is, what I am, in no culture around the world, ever, would be considered a success.


Closer home, in Hinduism, there is this concept of Purushartha (this slideshare is a good intro). A man ought to have four types of goals - Dharma, Artha, Kama and Moksha. Each has a specific reason and order. When I look at me, I am not sure if I have discharged my duties on any of the 4 counts - I have a sketchy understanding of Dharma, I have literally no Artha, there is no Kama and Moksha is anyway kinda far.

Agreed that I get things done and I am good at what I do. And agreed that I am actually paid fairly well for it but its not something that gives me satisfaction. It does make me happy and I am in the zone when I am doing it. But, the thing is, I want more. Lot more. And I dont know why I cant seem to get that. Or there. May be I am not meant to be big. May be I am not the Bill Gates, Steve Jobs, Elon Musk, Jeff Bezoes that I've always thought of myself as. May be I need to accept it and move on in life.

May be, in an alternate universe, I could have hit the reset button and undo a lot of things that I could've done things differently - what bits, I dont know. Sincerely. Each thing that I've done has shaped me the way I am. May be I need to let go? I could simply move to a cold country. Find a boring job in a boring place that keeps me occupied and gives me a few hours each day to chase a hobby. Think of Mark Whalberg from Shooter. Once he is retired, he lives at a cabin in the mountains, keeps to himself and stays like that. Does odd jobs. Chases his hobby of shooting.


Or look at Denzel Washintgon's character in The Equalizer. All he does is, does a stupid boring job at a hardware store. And then reads because he's an insomniac. And becomes pretty much a creature of habit like no one else is.


For me, the day job could be driving around an Uber. Allows me to gather stories. And then with whatever time I get, I could go play pool and then may be write. These two -- writing and pool -- will allow me to get unwind after a day spent behind the wheels. Any way thats all you do when you are no longer young?

Or I could be Jack Reacher for God's sake! P.S.: Have this dying need to create someone like that. Why create? Because I want to be one and I dont have the ability to be one and thus, create one. Sidenote: Hah! Jack Reacher. One small surgery made you wince like a baby and you want to be a tough guy! 

Or may be, just may be, I could give things another shot. Till the end of the financial year. Go all-in and see what I am capable of? That means the next 6 months will be hardwork, hustle and lot of effort.

Lol.

Like I havent had this peptalk with me earlier. I forget the number of times I've done this. Sigh. But like I said. Time to correct course and that will happen from now. Next 6 months should be interesting.

Thing is, I have always said that I want to work on things that give me two or more of the following three...

  1. 1. Money (a lot of it)
  2. 2. Respect (from peers more than anything else)
  3. 3. Opportunity to learn (and network and make friends etc)

And on top of all of that, I have to enjoy the process / outcome.

But then because I have chased this triad, I am left as a poor man, in an industry that requires little or no expertise to pull grand things off and limited possibilities of future.

I think for the next 6 months, I need to just chase money because I have enough to be able to pay my bills, I can invest the leftover at other places. And that could give me opportunities to learn and to earn some respect. No? Guess so. Will decide and figure out the next steps soon.

Anyhow, so this longish rant is actually very long now. Time to wrap it up. Hope I did not lose the plot. I still suck at going back to the post and editing it.

Thanks for reading. Pray for me. Please.

P.S.: This is the first day of the month, lets see if I can make a post on each day of this month. Lets say yet another 30 posts in 30 days challenge?

Entry to Write India 2

27 August 2017. This is post 2. And rather than a lesson, this is a piece of fiction that I am writing as an entry to Write India 2. The prompt by Ruskin Bond is, "I wish I could turn back the clock and bring the wheels of time to a stop." 

This was triggered by SN. In case you are reading this, where's your entry, young woman? 

Here goes... 

“Life’s funny. You spend your entire life chasing something and when you actually get to it, you don’t want it. You know, you’re like that kid at a carnival who wants sugar candy trapped in the glass jar. The jar looks as intimidating as those tall buildings that you crane your neck to stare at when you are going past by them. The jar has walls as thick as the reading glasses of your school’s headmaster and it has a screw-lid that takes forever to uncork and open. And its stacked so far that you have to perk up on your toes and because you are just a kid, you can barely reach the height of the shelf and all you can do is, stare at it with greedy eyes. And when after all the effort and coercion, the old shopkeeper hands you the candy, you don’t want it! Kids are really funny!” Manas drawled over the sound of ice-cubes clinking against the whiskey glass.

Surbhi instinctively looked at Mira. 

Mira was oblivious to the conversation between Surbhi and Manas. At the other end of the room, she was busy sorting a pack of Cadbury Gems into tiny stacks -- each stack made up of little marbles of same color -- with as much attention a 6-year old could muster. She was born in a different era to know of the glass jars that Manas was talking about. 

Surbhi turned back her gaze towards Manas. She had nothing to add here. She was meeting Manas after almost 10 years and so much had changed, except the glass of whiskey in his hand and the long-drawn narratives. 

When Manas had called her out of the blue, she had initially said no. When he insisted, she reluctantly accepted the invitation for a lunch. After all she had to know what had made Manas walk out on her in the middle of the night without any explanation. And Manas just didn't walk out on their marriage, he left behind a friendship of more than 15 years! 

They've been at it for more than 2 hours now and the conversation did not seem to be going anywhere. She was beginning to question her judgment. And since she had got Mira along, she was worried if the 6-year old should be around the obvious alcoholic - he’d been drinking before they had arrived and not for a minute had left his whiskey glass alone.

Manas did not think enough of Surbhi’s silence. He continued, “You know, they say that more than 80% of Earth’s surface has been transformed by humans? The only places untouched are the mountains. And you know the tallest mountain that we are yet to set our feet on? The Gangkhar!"

Manas was talking about Gangkhar Puensum. Standing at an Elevation of 7570 meters on the Bhutan-China border, it's the highest peak still that is yet to be conquered. As with all mountains, the Gangkhar was shrouded in mystery, partly because the locals held a strong belief that the holy spirits of their Gods reside at the Gangkhar and the spirits wrecked havoc to any attempts to climb the mountain and disturb their sanctity.

This was the first time she was hearing the name of the place. But she could immediately see that the Gangkhar, whatever it was, was bothering Manas. She knew of his lifelong obsession with mountaineering and while in pursuit of his obsession, he’d often ignored other, far more important things, including Surbhi.

She merely said, “Interesting. Want to tell me more?”

Manas got up from his recliner, hobbled to a bookshelf that was overflowing with books and papers and other curios. He winced with pain but reached out to an upper shelf and after moving a couple of books and some papers, he pulled out a thin folder. The red cover had a photograph of a snow-clad mountain and a scroll in Japanese at the bottom. He thrust it towards Surbhi.

He said, “You see this? This is a memoir by one of the Japanese mountaineers who was part of the group that did everything they could to climb the Gangkhar. They tried for almost a decade. He says that even if political sanctions were lifted, Gangkhar would still remain unconquered. Its tougher than anything else. Everest is like a stroll in the park, in comparison. One side of Gangkhar is a sheer fall into a glacier; The other side has knife-edged ridges, a cover of unstable snow and spiky pinnacles. It's the ultimate test of a climber's skill and ambition.”

Even though they’ve been friends since school, lovers since their college and married for three years, she never really had any interest in his passion, except when one fine day he announced that he was going to give Everest a shot.

He continued, “The locals say that the holy spirits of their Gods live on the Gangkhar and since the Gods want to rest in peace, they've forbid any humans to come close. Each expedition has met with unfortunate accidents that cant be explained. And apart from this thin memoir, there are hardly any records or even maps of the place! It remains out of reach. Its the place that everyone has on their bucket list. Its something, Surbhi, that I have to conquer before anyone else does. I want to show to the world what real mountaineering is. Everest is bullshit. This is the real deal!”

He was beginning to get agitated. Surbhi instinctively glanced at Mira and to her relief she was now lying on a rug in front of the television and was watching an episode of Tom and Jerry. The pack of Gems was now missing, most probably she had eaten them all. 

When not around Manas, Surbhi was known for her fierce reporting and uncompromising journalistic ethos. She was the undisputed queen of the investigative, political reportage. She’s has had a couple of really big scoops already and the third was going to press later in the week. With the latest one about rich hiring wombs for progeny, her editor was sure that Surbhi will bring home a Pulitzer for Investigative Journalism - the only major award that had eluded her in a 15-year long career.

Career was something that Manas was not exactly proud of. He had little to show for his age except multiple stabs at various peaks - all of them unsuccessful. And like all others that had seen limited success, he made barely enough to scrape by. Since he lived in the Nehru Institute of Mountaineering campus at Uttarakhand and worked as an instructor for the Search and Rescue module, he could keep the passion going and expenses low.

"Everest is bullshit, Surbhi. Its just a huge selfie opportunity! All those 4000 people that have reached the summit in last 50 years? All of them are fucking tourists with no spine." Manas continued his monologue.

Surbhi was used to these monologues. She knew that since veteran trekkers and mountaineers spent a lot of time by themselves when they out and about, they often have this need to keep talking when they do get company. No wonder they make such good speakers!

“You remember my greatest ambition? The lofty goal? To climb the Mount freaking Everest. I wasted 12 years of my life. Saving for it. Preparing for it. And what do I have to show for it? Couple of attempts that failed -- I did not even reach Camp 3. Some broken bones, 2 missing fingers on the toe, and the damn thumb!” Manas nodded at his left hand that was pretty much useless, now that the thumb was gone. He still had a formidable grip on ropes and but that's all that he was left to without the thumb.

Surbhi stared at the ominous looking hand. She did not understand what made people chase mountaineering when it was so fraught with danger. She also realized that with that missing thumb, Manas will probably never get another shot at any mountain, leave alone the Gangkhar or the Everest. 

“And why did I fail? Because I fought with the company that controls the rights to all the ladders and ropes and oxygen that they put on the climbing route at the Everest! They have a climbing route Surbhi. Its like a highway. All you need to do is hold the rope and walk behind the guy in front of you."

Surbhi thought Manas was being that sour whiner that he had become in the last few months of their relationship. In fact it was his constant whining and baseless accusations against the world that had hastened their separation. She was beginning to regret her decision to come meet Manas; Thankfully, Mira was still engrossed in the cartoon.

“I hate that piece of useless rock. That's what it is. A giant useless rock. It's been romanticized for no reason. Ok, it was tough when Edmund and Tenzing went to the top. It was tough for the next few years or so when people found new route, new trails, new paths to the top. But now it's like walking on crowded subway. Messner says, ‘Like in Kindergarten, they go on Everest now.’ Thing is, its been bastardized. Its become a commercial pursuit. The way you can buy a ticket to the top of Eiffel Tower, today you can buy a damn ticket to the top of the Everest and come back with all the bragging rights in the world. Its just another selfie moment. They have no respect for the pursuit. They don't care about the ones who've tried in the past. You know the ones who die trying to climb the Everest? The path to the summit is littered with them. Some are used as milestones and landmarks. There is no respect in ‘doing’ the Everest. It's a sport for the rich. You pay money and you get ropes and ladders and oxygen.”

Manas was now almost yelling. He had all the anger pent-up and no place to let go. The only two people he could call of his own were Surbhi and Mira. He wasn't too fond of Mira -- she was born to Surbhi’s second husband.

“What pride would you get if you are merely adding your name to a long list of people who have done something before you? You are a nameless, faceless statistic. You don't move things forward like that. You have to pave new paths. Create new things. Gangkhar is what they ought to do if mountaineering is their thing,” he scorned. He continued, “Its tough and its remote and its cold. There is no highway to walk on, there are no Sherpas to walk ahead and put the ropes! There are no maps either! That's what a real man would do. That's what I wanted to do. Before… before... ” his voice trailed off and he stared at his hand.

Surbhi now had an inkling what went wrong with them! Unlike the rest of the world, the guy had his priorities clear but he had chosen a track that was going to be as tough as, well, climbing the mountain. The closure that Surbhi had wanted was just around the corner.

“I did not know about it when I started thinking about it. More I read about, more fascinated I got. I am so sorry I ignored you, Surbhi. I shouldn't have left you that night. But if I didn't, I could never have taken that shot at the Gangkhar. It was my life, Surbhi. Not you. Gangkhar."

With that, he started crying. 

For someone like Manas, who had held his head high and resolve higher, this was a rare display of emotion. And Surbhi knew that he was accepting defeat probably for the first time. This was not the Manas that Surbhi had made friends with all those years ago. Rather than seeing a rock-solid man that she had loved once upon a time, she was now looking at a man frail with age and burden of loss on the shoulders. 

In a different time, Surbhi could've been angry about the way Manas left. But now, she had her daughter, her career and the question she needed an answer to, she had it. She was surprised that she had remained calm and all she felt was a bit of pity towards him. 

Surbhi leaned in closer. She said, “Manas, I am not sure what to say. I am really sorry for this. It was important to you. You did it. But now that it has happened, can you do something about it?"

He looked up. “Not really, Surbhi. But wish I could play God and do something about it, Surbhi. I wish I could turn back the clock and bring the wheels of time to a stop.” He paused to empty the contents of his glass. “You know to when? To just before when Edmund and Tenzing decided that they were going to climb the Everest!” and with that, he flung the empty glass at the wall that was decorated with a giant photograph of the Mount Everest shining in its glory. 


The End.

1000WAD_082017. Post 1. Time is limited.

22 August 2017. So I have accepted yet another 1000 words a day challenge. Knowing me, its gonna be tough to keep up with it. Unless I put a theme to it.

One of the themes could be writing a piece inspired by each alphabet. And I can repeat the vowels. So, I will have 30 odd pieces in 30 days (I did this some months back). Or the other option is to write 1000 words towards #book2, where I end up with 30K words. But then I am not sure if I have it in me to be able to do this – considering that the book is still in flux (and while a forced word count has worked well for me in the past, I want to do this one different). Or the third option is, I can write about things that I want to leave behind, should I die after a month. Things that have shaped me and my thinking. 

And after deliberate thinking, I have decided that I will write about the lessons, today being the first one.

So, lesson 1. Your time is limited. Everything else, including money, is unlimited. 
If you lose time, you will NOT get it back. 

Unlike other that is seemingly scarce, is not. What are the things that we think are limited? Money? Business opportunities? Access to loved ones? Number of chips in a bag? Battery on your phone? Parking slots?


Each of those things - EACH - is infinite (from the perspective that we are specs of dust on a blue ball in the vast infinite). You can make as much money as you want to. And if you exhaust the money you've made, you can earn it back. If you are lazy to put in the hardwork to earn money, you can beg, borrow, marry or steal. But you can always get it. And there is more than enough of it to fulfill every whim that you may have.

Loved ones is a probably the biggest myth propagated since the beginning of time. As I get along in life, I realise that love is probably the most overrated of things. More on this some other time. But the point is, you can always find opportunities to spend time with someone, if they matter. You need time for it. Nothing else. Time that is anyway limited.

Number of chips in a bag? Get another one. Battery on your phone? Carry a powerbank. Charge it again. Parking slot? Park a mile up the road. There is always a way out.

But the time that is gone, the seconds you've spent reading this (or on other frivolous things), is not coming back. And thus, you need to be VERY conscious of the way you spend your time. You need to eliminate time sinks from you life. Will talk about time sinks in a bit.

Your time is so limited that you need to spend is more wisely than you spend your money. This is counter intuitive. We are ok taking public transport because we cant afford a taxi or a cab but we "waste" probably 2 times the time in reaching the destination. While we saved 100 bucks, we had to spend that extra hour. Is that the worth of your hour?

I know not everyone has access to money, but once this thought about scarcity of time takes home, you find ways of saving time AND making money, that further allows you to save time. It becomes a feedback loop.

So, what has worked with me, when I think about the time vs money piece is putting a monetary value to each hour. Dont ask me how I came to this number but the cost of my each day is Rs. 20000. And thus, my hourly cost is about 1000 bucks (little less). Now all decisions of time become a simple maths equation.

If I need something done and its going to take me an hour to do so, I try and see if I can outsource it to someone who'd charge less than a 1000 bucks for it. If I can, I outsource. Or else I do it.

I am trying to implement this in all walks of life. And I have become so anal about my time that I have automate most things. My lunch is ordered by a colleague - she orders the same thing from same restaurant everyday at same time. I am not thinking about my lunch at all. If I have a meeting at 11 and I expect traffic on the way, I leave at 8, park myself as a coffee shop. If a certain thing at work can be given to a junior, I will. If I need to hire more people, I will. Of course I dont have infinite money either. But I am trying to do that.

Of course, there are exceptions.

My book for example. I am irrational about it. I know that I wont make money with it and the amount of time I put on it is unreal. If I were to put a value on it, say I need 2 hours everyday to work on it. Thats like 2000 bucks a day. Over the entire life of the book, I will probably put in 700 days. So, the financial value of writing a book (as of today) is Rs. 14,00,000. And no, no author makes that kind of money from the sales of the book. And my hourly "rate" of 1000 bucks will go up as I get busier in life (my time gets limited and thus attracts more premium). But then, somewhere at the back of my head I know that the book is going to have infinite returns if it does well. So the equation works out for me (see how I justify my irrationality about writing).

The other place where I make exceptions is people. I may spend 3 hours to get a 15 minute meeting with someone. I know that the opportunity cost of the meeting is about 10000 bucks. But I am looking at it terms of future returns. Can the lesson I learn from that 15 minute meeting help me make money or save time in the future? Same for business development activities. A meeting can potentially get me work that makes some money for me. Money that I can invest to make more time.

Third place, teaching. This (blog) to me is teaching. I probably took 3 hours to write this post. Am I making money from this? No. Am I getting access to people who can teach me things as I go along? Maybe. Am I getting better as an individual? Hell yes!

Fourth, some people (in my inner circle). Myra, Agony Aunt, sgMS, my folks, vvgg etc. I dont think of time when it comes to them.

I can give more examples. But you get the drift.

Thing is, time on the other hand is limited. Every second you spend, is gone. You are not getting it back. So, make it count! 

Thats about it, I guess. So, may be its time to move your ass and get shit done? There's nothing called the right time. The right time is now. And the place is here. Lets go.


P.S.: I talked about time sinks briefly above. Lemme talk about it briefly.

A time sink, by definition is a place where we waste time without realising. Classic example? Commute (unless you are the kinds to actually get things done while you are in transit). Can you eliminate commute from your life?

Here are more time sinks.

A. Societal constructs. Things like social functions, courtesy, norms and other such things. I think (no way to validate) that all the societal constructs were created when you lived in a time of unpredictability. You were not sure if you’d get hunted if you stepped out of the cave – and thus you travelled in groups. You were not sure if you’d get your dinner if you venture too far out – so you stuck to tribes. You did not know how to make inroads into a colony of strangers – you decided to use introductions and bribes. For each of our behaviour, we can trace if back to our prehistoric behaviour and learning. But, the world we live in, is little more open and smaller (thanks to the Internet) and we dont need to adhere to things that worked while we were in caves. Most times when I meet someone, rather than creating a story, I come to the point. Most people balk at it but I know I can get more things done.

B. Everyday decisions. What to wear, what to eat, where to go to hang out etc. Put them on autopilot. Become a creature of habit. Steve Jobs was famous for wearing the same thing everyday. I am trying to get there. If I have to meet someone, I by default tell them to meet me at a Starbucks. My breakfast and lunch come from the same place, at the same time, even when I am not around. So far I seek help from friends but I am hoping to start using apps like Haptik to get things done (need to get independent - more on this in one of the next posts). If I need to celebrate, I goto the same expensive restaurant (by virture of the price they charge, the dinner becomes celebratory).

All things in the chores category must happen automatically. I am trying to design my life so that it runs on autopilot. I am far from it, but I will reach there.

C. Commute. I mentioned that already.

D. Productivity porn. This is a topic for a blogpost in itself. May be I will write on this tomorrow.

I am sure there are more. This is a great list for the time being.


Thing is, I dont know if these "hacks" will lead me to live a more fulfilled life but in my head, I am calmer and less anxious about things. Rather than worry about what kind of cuisine I want to eat, I can worry about ways in which I will reach my two ultimate goals in life.

I do understand that this is not for everyone. Not everyone is as "mission-oriented" as I am. I dont even know if there is a purpose to this obsession with the mission. But in my head, I cant do the maths of living and NOT doing something that makes the world a better place.

And how do you do it? By creating great work and by leading as an example and inspiring others to do the same.

And no, I still dont have an answer to quip by the lady.

Thats about it. Should you take inspiration, tell me what you did to save time. What are your time sinks? What do you do to save time? Help me become even more efficient. Please.

P.P.S.: I still suck at ending these notes. Look at this one for example! 

Untitled - 16 Aug 2017

Yo! Been some days since I've written here. More than 2 weeks if I am not wrong.

If you care, lifes been ok. There is still no money but theres been some work. And there's been some travel and some meetings and some getting things done. All in all, a mixed bag. The kinds that I think I like. Just that I need to get some more on the money bit.

Coming to an update (I dont even know why I do this -- there's no one reading these. May be I do these for giving my updates to myself? Who knows. Who cares. I love writing. Here it is.)

A
This time for the first time in life, I probably missed the Independence Day. The cynic in me is fucked in the head because of all that is happening around me (read communal tension, ups and downs in the economy, policies of Modi Ji, general confusion about where the country is headed).

If I were the kinds to get radicalised (if I havent been radicalised already), I'd be a prime candidate! I mean look at my character profile (blame the author in me for this). I have very little education, I am confused, I am an under-achiever, I hold strong opinions, I feel helpless (I dont know what to do to fix things; I dont even understand the problem) and I dont see a way out. You know what I am saying?

P.S.: The way out is to get out of the country. While I have always wanted to live in the Silicon Valley, this is the first time I am actually serious about it. A couple of friends are moving to Canada next year and from what they tell me, its not a bad place to be at!

And no, views are not of my employer. My employer will not endorse these. This is me. Personal. Individual.

B
The other thing that is happening soon is that I will be 35. At the age of 35, I was supposed to be a dollar billionaire. I am not even a fraction of a fraction of a fraction of that!

I have realised that I am not as cool as I thought I were - the good ones actually do well for themselves, the mediocre ones like me crib. I mean at my age, Zuckerberg is launching his bid to be the president of the United States and here I am crying about money. At my age Steve Jobs had done the cycle of getting fired from Apple, creating Next and becoming the CEO at Apple all over again. At 35... there is a long long list. For the time being, I know that I am poor. And I dont know where I want to be in life.

C
This piece caught my eye yesterday. See the following video.



The way those 5 people have been thanked for times than God, I want to be thanked as well. The purpose of my life, the reason why I exist, is to enable others to reach the peak of their chosen paths.

I wrote this on LinkedIn. Read if you are interested.

This also beings me to a debate that I had with a classmate from MDI. He said he is not in the race to go down the history. And rather, he wants to live it up here. He wants to experience as many things as he can, while he is here. He wants to enjoy life with his family. He wants to contribute to society and die a content man. Let me call him a Warren Buffett disciple. I on the other hand want to go the Steve Jobs, Bill Gates, Elon Musk way. I am not sure if I want to enjoy life per se. Id rather push our collective understanding and enjoy that process, rather than going to national parks or something. While the friend made a very compelling argument in favour of going the WEB, in my head, I am still keen on being the Steve Jobs and Bill Gates and Elon Musk. I want to push the human race forward. Make that dent. Give our species a chance when shit happens. You know what am saying?

D
I am gonna be taking a break for a week in September. I want to go to a place that is cold, has good Internet connectivity on mobile phones (if in India) or cheap access (if abroad). I want a good writing table and a chair. A place where I can go for long walks. Access to clean water (lots of it) and cleaner restrooms. Budget is NOT a problem.

Where can I go? Recommendations anyone?

E
Book 2. So I've told myself that if I cant get the first draft of #book2 out by end of September, I will quit on the project. That means the next couple of months would be super hustle - there is a lot of work, C4E needs attention, other ideas needs attention, health needs attention and of course book2 needs attention. Lets see which bit of attention do I give into.

Thats about it. Do write in. Tell me how are things with you. Till I find time to write again, adios.

The Television Conundrum

Context
I live as a "bachelor" in Mumbai.

If you are from Mumbai, you'd get it. If not, its a (often derogatory) term used to define people who are un-married, live without parents in accommodations that are sparsely furnished (no beds, tables - just the bare minimum furniture). Often these bachelors "engage" in wild parties, keep the place unclean and in general, lower the standard of living at the community you live at.

From personal experience, in large part this is true. And in some parts, as far from truth as things could be.

Of course its not unusual to live as a bachelor. Blame it on urban mobility, concentration of jobs in certain pockets etc. What is unusual is that at my age, very few people live like that. Either they get married (India!) or they step up enough in life to start owning assets and make enough money to actually buy designer furniture, state-of-the-art gadgets and other things vain. None of the above two is true for me.

Story
So I've lived like a bachelor for about 10 years now. In cities like Gurgaon, Chennai and Mumbai. And because I've had a fairly limited access to money, I never had the fancy places. And while I have wanted to buy things that could take me out of the perceived bachelorhood, I havent been able to afford those. Plus whatever little I could buy, I did not because my sense of decor is fairly fucked.

And I've always remained light. I mean when I moved last, I had 2 bags of clothes, 1 guitar, 1 writing table and few cartons of books. Unknowingly I was being Steve Jobs ;P


The point is, I did not have any material possessions. And because I was growing old (not up), I saw all these friends, acquaintances around me growing old and up and getting things that I've dreamt of since I was a kid. And of course I am / was jealous and I long /ed for them.

So, when in the last year I made some money I started to splurge on things. I bought a book shelf. I got a shoe stand (to make space for those numerous pairs of shoes that I buy by the dozen and do not wear). And I got a TV!
The next in queue, after a TV is a car and then, a house. And then, world domination! 

The TV Conundrum
If you ask the brand planner in me about three things that transform a house from a bachelor pad to a home, I'd say it would be a double bed with a proper mattress, a clean and functioning kitchen and a television!

The place that I live at came with a double bed and almost functional kitchen. So all I needed was a TV.  And I have wanted one for a long time. I dont know why. May be to tell myself that I am not too far behind from my peers?

Anyhow, since I got the TV, I have rearranged my entire house to make the TV the focal point. I mean I don't even remember how the hall looked like when we did not have a TV. I mean the houses where they don't have a TV, where do the sofas and other seating structures face? Ask Simpsons ;P



The Reason
So, coming to the REAL reason why I started writing this post. I want to analyze the decision. And then may be bookmark this post, remind me often of the foolishness that I epitomize. Yes, I believe that buying the damned TV was a wrong decision.

When I had the money to be able to buy one and I decided that I want one, I knew of a few things. Here is a list, categorized into positives, negatives and neutral.

Positives
  • A TV becomes the focal point of the house and the bachelor pad starts looking like a home. I wanted that (as mentioned above). Call it my mid-life crisis. Or call it the rat race. I wanted one. While this looks like a negative, this to me is a positive. 
  • Allows my parents to kill time when they visit me. If they visit me. Thats all they do now that they are retired. Not trying to be derogatory. But thats how it is. And thats ok. Not everyone is on a mission.  

Neutral
  • Its a good to have thing. Like a checkbox in that long form! 

Negatives
  • Money. My budget was 50K. No, its not a small amount by any stretch of imagination. For 50K I could've bought a holiday and dont know what all. 
  • Maintenance. I will have to lug it around when I move houses (I still live at a rented accommodation - and its contingent on whims and fancies of the owner of the house). Plus its an electronic product - it will get damaged and will stop working. It will give me unnecessary heartbreak when that happens. 
  • Time sink. With Netflix and others, a TV is such a time sink that its not funny. No wonder its called an Idiot Box. 

Apart from these three, here are few more notes that I dont know where to categorize...  
  • It was not an impulse purchase. For some weird reason I wanted a TV for a long time. I actually looked online. I went to the stores. And I sat on the decision for at least a month. And then finally one fine day I got it. 
  • Since I've got the TV, after the first few days, I have hardly used it. Key reason being, I dont have cable TV. I rely on Netflix and since I have a bad connection at home, I cant spend time on it. Which is a good thing. 
  • A great influencer on the decision was the 15K worth of reward points that I had on one of my credit cards. It made "sense" to buy a 60K TV for 45K. I could see a bargain. I made the classic mistake of looking at potential savings and not at the money I'd have to spend. A great case where points look good to you, but are bad! 
  • Ideally, in life I want to be at a place where I dont have to think too much about money and these decisions. But till the time I reach that point, these incidents are interesting milestones, to help sharpen the decision-making acumen. 

Conclusion
As I was making the list, I automatically realised that the list of cons outweigh pros already. I dont have to think too much about it. The decision was a fucked one. I shouldn't have bought the TV. But just to make a list, the mental models at play were Loss Aversion (did not want the points to expire), Validation aka Social Proof (from society about not being a bachelor), Constant chase of excitement (I bought it when I was probably not doing so well in personal / work life - though I have no way to validate this), FOMO (obviously), Envy. These are the ones I can think of. And I am sure there are more at play. What could those be? 

That's about it. You are welcome to see the Smart TV I bought :). And here's to making wiser decisions. What do you think waise? 

The Nidhi Kapoor Story

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