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The War Of Words



Random text, gibberish and biased opinions. Trying to track culture, trends, internet, ideas and people. Trying to learn. Trying to evolve.



Last Build Date: Thu, 14 Sep 2017 10:38:29 +0000

 



Entry to Write India 2

Sun, 27 Aug 2017 05:27:00 +0000

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 t[...]



1000WAD_082017. Post 1. Time is limited.

Wed, 23 Aug 2017 02:20:00 +0000

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 a[...]



The Turbulence Overreaction

Wed, 21 Jun 2017 04:05:00 +0000

I am at the Mumbai airport, waiting for a flight. I’ve just realized that I have lost yet another pair of sunglasses. Typically, I am not this careless but fact remains that I’ve lost a pair. I need to work on my brain and ensure that the muscle doesn’t atrophy. Need to pick a new hobby or something. May be get back to making a memory palace? Apart from this, the other thing that’s fresh on my head this super crazy turbulence yesterday. The plane was in free fall for a few nano-seconds and it was scary like a bitch. In all the flights that I have taken, this was probably the scariest of them all (there was one where masks had dropped from the ceiling but I dont recall those). Thing is, I was not really afraid (I knew at the back of my head that this shall pass) but I was worried that all the things that I've wanted to do (primarily #book2, a billion dollars and an attempt at the Everest), what happens to those? Of course I came out unharmed -- statistically air travel is the safest mode of transportation -- and I can go back to working on things that I've wanted to work on. But the flight was scary to the extent that since the flight, I’ve read a lot of articles about turbulence and air pockets. Apart from rant about my balls that shrunk like raisins, the flight did make me realize something. That life’s unpredictable. You better live each moment up to the fullest potential. And that means while you plan for the future and all that, you better ensure that each moment that you are alive is worth the opportunity. Ought to stop doing things you don’t want to do.Which brings me to the existential question. Why do I exist? While I love the concept of doing my own thing, truth be told, I am still a slave to a comfortable salary, thanks to largesse of this dude. If not for him, I would probably be scrambling to make ends meet. And I am amongst the luckiest people to have the unconditional patronage of someone with means. And I ought to make the most of it. And not get lazy or complacent. Like this turbulent flight, each incident reinforces the belief that I need to do more with life. Much more than what I am doing right now. Come to think of it, if I could change a few things, what would those be? For starters, I need to get more work out. I ned to ship more. In whatever shape or design or format. Could be a blogpost, a book, a project, a startup, a brand. Something that comes out fast. Something that inspires others. More importantly, something that inspires me! Must create things that inspire me. And what could those be? I have no clue! I have done this exercise a million times, if not more times. Each time I come back with two answers. A, I don’t know what I want in / from life. B, if I go by signs, what I am doing right now, is what I ought to be doing! So, all I need to do is, bid my time and wait for the right opportunity to come my way. It’s a matter of time when things fall in place and I will have a life of abundance. Abundant time, money and energy to do all the million things I want to do. The other way to do this is that I go all-in with whatever little I have. That means I gather all my money (sell all the stock I have, liquidate the tiny FD that I have and take back the money I have invested in C4E) and chase a large dream. I will either end up super rich and would have made an impact and die a satisfied old man. Or I will be a pauper with no money to my name and will die a man who’d have to work hard to make ends meet. In either case, when I die, I hopefully wont have any regrets. Thing is, I am 34. Will be 35 in less than a quarter of the year. And at the age of 35, while people like Zuck are working towards becoming the presidents and all that, here I am, talking about my existential dread. Now, I can take solace in the fact that Col Sanders was 143 years old when he started KFC and Sam Walton was 832 years old when he did Walmart. But I know that I have lost the damned rat race. Instead of making a difference to the world, lives of[...]



The Reputation Research

Mon, 12 Jun 2017 04:29:00 +0000

Last few days, a few things have happened that has made me re-think my love for visual anonymity. Lemme quickly talk about the incidents.1. Last Saturday (or was it Sunday?) I accompanied a friend to an open mic night. The idea of open mics is pretty simple. You are an aspiring stand up comic. But because you are aspiring, you cant gather an audience. Along with other standups, you get in a room, invite your friends and use them as Guinea Pigs to practise your jokes. I was one such Guinea pig. Plus, often, places that give you access to a quite room and a mic and AC tend to be expensive. So you get friends to pay and the friends, because they are friends, bear the bad jokes and help you cover the cost!So, I went with a friend. There were some 30 odd people, about 10 performers. Each person gets 4 minutes to perform a set. And audience gets all the time to react!Most of the performers were very average. May be they are average performers. Or may be they were trying new material that required practise. Irrespective. It took balls to be able to stand in front of the crowd and deliver a piece that you know is going to bomb!2. I met Komal the other day. I told her about my dislike for dressing up for the occasion. She said that I ought to think like an actor and each interaction as a role. Like there are different roles, each dictated by a different situation, life encounters are different and they demand a different approach. And each role demands a different piece of content to be delivered. And if you are going to act and make people believe, you better know how to pull various roles off! After all, in life, newer roles come along all the time on an ongoing basis!In my case, I am an actor and when I work, I ought to play the work role. Which I suck at. All this while I have been playing my personal role at scenes that demand me to play a certain role - work, social, gathering etc. So may be, I need to re-think and change. Or may be I want to be a Steve Jobs where I wear the same thing over and over and over again till that becomes as irreplaceable as my name? Or may be I need to identify certain archetypes, practise them like crazy and then put those archetypes in various roles. Or may be something else. Lets see.3. I presented my company creds on a stage where I had some 30-40 people in audience. I had a great deck to present and I have used that deck at multiple places in the past and have got great reception. But all those times have been in the boardroom. This time, it was on stage. And it sort of bombed! Not bombed per se. People did recall seeing it. But they were not blown away with what I had presented.Thing is, I want to be able to create a reality distortion field when I talk to people! Of course I dont have a product like Steve Jobs. Neither did he for that matter. But he had something that I definitely dont have! I need to identify and work on that!4. Mihir talked me into doing a video podcast. That means I now have a video (43 minutes long) where I am talking about life and philosophy and raison d'etre and other such things. Now, to be able to do justice to the effort that is going in, we need to push it out and market it like a bitch. And that will mean that my notions of closely guarding my pics / video on the very permanent Internet is under heavy questioning....So, now that I have captured these four things, the real reason for the outburst is hence.As I get along in life (read, I am supposed to take on larger responsibilities), I am realising more and more that to be able to get things done, I need to have a reputation.Reputation is a complex "thing" and its often a combination of things like association (with people, things, brands etc), popularity (read personal brand where you are known by people outside of your third degree), experience (in terms of years you've worked, things you've done etc), expert status (in chosen field of expertise), contacts (how many famous / rich / powerful people you know? Who has saved your nu[...]



The unconnected unrest - Part 2

Wed, 31 May 2017 08:21:00 +0000

Part 1 is here.Last night, I slept at 730. I woke up at 630 this morning. Thats 11 hours of sleep. No, I am not to sleep for this long. Like Frank, I have often hated the necessity of sleep. And food for that matter.The thing is, I've always got by with limited amount of sleep. My metabolism is reasonably high and I can function pretty well even when I've slept for 4ish hours. Just that I cant tolerate garmi. Rest is ok. Most people who know me know that I dont sleep much. And when I tell them that there are days when I sleep for 11-12 hours, they get surprised.And honestly, I surprise myself as well. A, I dont get enough air in my lungs to be able to sleep for that long, thanks to my nasal polyp. And B, I have a million things happening right now (between AWSL, Book 2, C4E, xT etc). So, I know that I could rather work and not sleep. Like I say, sleep is such a waste of time!I did what I do when I get some ailment. I decided to read on the Internet about the probable reasons. And I found that if you sleep for that long, you are either tired. Or depressed. Take a pick :)The other non-scientific reason is that I dont have a computer. That means I cant work or entertain myself. For me work = reading, writing, connecting people etc. Entertain = youtube, TED, Big Bang and now that 5th season is out, a date with Claire and Frank. Both happen over the Internet. And Internet means Computer.Coming back to sleep. I am sleeping a lot and it sucks. And no, I am not enjoying all the freshness that you get after sleeping for that long. Oh, I do remember some of the dreams. One of them featured me left at an unknown place with tight alleys with dogs roaming around. And I change my path because I am scared of dogs. Even in the dream, I am telling myself that I need to confront my fears (I have actually become a motivational speaker). The other dream, I dont recall now but I saw a friend - Nalin taking a chartered flight to somewhere.. . .Anyhow. I dont know what to write. The mind is THAT blank in absence of the computer. And here are some unrelated thoughts.1. Since I moved all my data to cloud (Google Drive, Dropbox, Evernote et al), I had assumed that I can work from any location, on any device. I was so wrong. I need MY laptop, MY settings, MY table to be able to function. I so need to change this in case I want to become time and location independent.Or may be because I am on a Windows machine and its super inefficient, it is tough to get things done? I worked on a Mac and while I missed my files, once I was logged into Chrome, I got access to all my files (including bookmarks etc).And no, I suck at using the phone for work. Like really do.2. For me, work has always been on a computer. I cant fathom what work could get done without a computer. The ball does NOT move unless its marked on a to-do list. And for work, since I have always been on strategy side, most output is measured on Powerpoint presentations and Excel sheets. I dont do any REAL work per se. May be thats why I failed with 5x5. In fact as I gear up for xT, I need to be able to learn how to work without a computer as a lot of work would be on the ground. 3. Why do I write this blog? Its like an echo chamber. Where I talk to myself. I could be doing this in between the pages of a notepad. Or on a secret folder buried deep into a laptop. But I like the idea of making thoughts public. I love the concept of serendipity. Someone could read this and connect with me for something unrelated. Life is anyway a huge punt. Why not keep enough and more doors and windows and crevices and nooks open? Let new things come in and then grab them by the...Oh, I write this on insistence of Vivek. He is probably the only reader that I have left. But then who cares about the readers - I write foe the sake of writing. Writing helps me clear my head. Writing helps Vivek stay unbored. And those are more than enough reason to continue to write.Thats it for the day. Catch you tomorrow. Or[...]



The unconnectedness unrest

Mon, 29 May 2017 04:35:00 +0000

Something crazy is gonna happen over the next 2-3 days. I wont have access to a computer and this is when I have a million things to work on.

Thing is, my laptop stopped working and with it went all my files, WIP things, settings, tools (software et al) that I rely on. And this means while I will continue to dream about life and things and all that, I will not have a computer to write on. And given the lack of confidence I have on my computing skills on a mobile phone, I cant work (or get any work done) and thus, I am pretty much confined to finding alternative means of killing time.

Lemme try and make a list here.

There is no TV at home so that is ruled out. And even if I get a TV, I will not get a cable connection. I am happy with Youtube and Netflix. 

I see one movie a quarter. I saw one yesterday a few days back. Put 2 and 2 together. Hindi Medium. Except for the second half, it was a good movie. Reminded me of how I lived when I was in Delhi - the way I spoke, the way I behaved, the way of life I love. I sometimes miss being in Delhi. Mumbai to me is like living in a film - everything is well-orchestrated, there is so much glitz and so must filth at the same time that I cant relate to either. Delhi on the other hand is what I am. What has defined me. What has made me what I am. Its just right. Oh wait! I got into this Mumbai vs Delhi rant when I should be talking about the movie. Wait, I am not talking about the movie either. I am talking about the alternatives! 

I have quit reading in favour of media formats like podcasts, longform text and videos. So no books. In fact thats a huge shift considering that books is something that I've always been fascinated by! So there are no books that I can read, except biographies maybe. 

There is a limit to amount of pool I can play on the weekend. I am not really in the prime of health and while pool may not look like much, it does take a toll. One hour of pool is easily tougher on the belly compared to an hour of walk. So, may be pool. I did actually play for about an hour. Not much but I did. And while I was at it, I sucked like crazy. A kid with pimpled face and beefy arms beat me easy. 

No poker as its impossible to get 5 people together in a room and get a game going. I have started playing a home game on an App. Super addictive. But I am back to losing money. I am not sure if I will continue to play.

I would've loved to write with pen and paper but if you know me, you would know of the amazing, gorgeous handwriting that I have. The scribbles are so messy, so bad that even I cant read what I've written. I wish I could show some of my notes. May be they will auction those once I am gone.

And apart from these, I dont think I do anything else. And may be this means that I need to get some new hobbies? No? Yes? Maybe? Any ideas anyone?

UPDATE
So I wrote this post on a borrowed computer at work. And the weekend after that, these are the things I did:

  • Saturday: Met my publisher / friend. Hosted him and a couple of friends over for lunch. Met a senior from MDI and we spoke about work and all that. Went out for dinner.
  • Sunday: Stayed at home, Youtubed and chilled; Met another friend from MDI and spoke about work and all that; Played pool. Shopped (for things that I dint have to). Slept at 8 PM! 
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Notes from a Maker Day

Tue, 23 May 2017 16:59:00 +0000

Today I stayed at home. I tried to make this a Maker Day (ref here). Here are some observations from the day so far.1. The world did not come to an end, because I was not at work. In fact, I realized that people at work don’t need me. Work = consultancy gig that pays my bills. This also means that I have more time on my hands than I believe. This means that I can pick a new project. Or finish one of the old ones. This also means that I may not have the gig (they dont need me, why would they pay me?). This means I need to find a new cash flow thing soon.2. I am not lazy. I still started the day at 7. I was on my computer, planning, plotting, creating things by 730 max. And then I took a break at 11. And then I slept and was back working at 2. And as I write this, its 5. In the last 3 hours I have got a lot of things done. So, I work better when I am by myself. And I think better when I am with people. So, the manager days, when I am in office, I need to divide those into meeting times and non-meeting times.3. Last few days I’ve been thinking of work. And I realized that I am little less anxious about money. I am fucked in the head because of the lack of impact of what I do. But I am little more sorted. Probably the realization that I am not as great as I thought of myself as and thus I need to settle for whatever I have.4. The other minor thing is that while I cant seem to work from home, I need to find a better solution than Starbucks. Thing is, it's expensive – Rs. 200 per hour (no, they don’t ask me to buy coffee, I feel guilty about not paying). And B, I need change of location every now and then. So I need the flexibility of coming and going. May be there is some coworking space that is in Powai that I can use? Buy time there personally? Need to think more on this.5. I need to fill this maker day with some activities that add to my health. May be a run. I know I cant run in the morning. I love that time too much to mix it with running. So need to add an evening run.  6. Also, there is no pattern to what I work on. So, I may be mistaking being busy with getting things done. I need to evaluate with a critical eye. Today, as I write this, I have done the following tasks. Lemme see if they add to a larger thing. Here is a list...- Transcribed the podcast with MK - reputation, give back, pay it forward- Pushed the ball ahead on xT - money- Various admin things done on a client for AWSL - money- Wrote this blogpost - writing, reflection- Initiated a new project with SG - money, pay it forward- Connected two acquaintances - grow network, pay it forwardSo, in all, looks an ok day. I did not work on health or book2. I'd try to see a pattern and then take a call.7 . I restarted on the daily track. Context here. Made an excel sheet. I know my goals. Everest. And 1 billion dollars. Here is the sheet. You will have access if I want you to have access. As on today, I have 3145 days left. Looks like a lot. But it isnt. I have been here for give or take 12500 days and I have nothing to show for those days. So there's a lot to be done in the 3000 odd that I have. I can not rest. Each minute has to be spent towards something larger than me.8. I am meeting a classmate from MDI. Trying to help him with his business. Hopefully getting some help back on what I am upto. Met him. Rather than I helping him, he was more help!9. Looked at my cash flow statement. Two things stare at me. A, I have been spending a lot lately. I need to control it. B, there is outstanding payments on end of all clients. Not a good thing because I am getting into the rut of cash flow cycles. VG gave me a great advice. Either I need to invest money back in the business. Or skim from the top and invest somewhere.Thats about it for the day. More updates on the next Maker Day. Oh, and tomorrow is a Manager Day. Will catalog it. And here's the song for the day... allowfullscreen="" frameborder="0[...]



The Sleeping Pattern Puzzle

Mon, 22 May 2017 02:53:00 +0000

Last few days (about a couple of weeks), I have been having weird sleeping patterns. I dont have data but I suspect that I am not sleeping well. Sidenote 1. Get a sleep tracker to find what is wrong where. Which one to get? iWatch? Fitbit? 

I am awake most of the night and when I do get into the REM cycle (do I?), it is not really "fulfilling." I dont seem to recall my dreams (earlier I could - I actually kept a dream journal for a bit). I dont get up energized and all that. 

Thing is, I actually love to sleep, I know about the benefits of the sleep. But I still maintain that sleep is an inefficient body function (like hair and nails - we are way beyond on the evolution curve where we need hair or nails). All we have is about 70 years (unless all the attempts to elongate the human life fail) and sleeping takes away 1/3rd of our productive time (of whatever is left after 1/3rd of our life spent chasing education). 

Coming back, I dont know what causes my general lack of sleep. No, I dont suffer from Monday Blues or something. I am not sure if I am depressed. Sidenote 2. Get a professional to do a check up. My bed is comfortable. There is no TV or any other screens in the bedroom. I stop using my phone about 15 minutes before I want to sleep. I have AC set on 22. The room is relatively dark. I have a bedsheet handy in case I feel cold. I am hydrated and keep a bottle of water on the bedside. I dont like the fan so there is no winds to rustle up and disturb me. There is enough space in the room. You see, I have every ingredient that you need to get a good nights sleep. 

But, I dont get sleep.

There is no worries that keep me up at night, except my lack of achievements despite my age. I am in reasonably good health, except that I am 84 KGs - which is more or less the weight I've had since I can remember. I have enough money to quit doing what I am doing and live for two years with the same sort of lifestyle.

And yet, I dont get sleep. 

It could be my nasal polyps that prevent me from sleeping well. But then we can breathe in from the mouth and that sort of helps me breathe. Since I refuse to go to a doc, I am on alternative remedies. I tried going to a homeopath but I cant seem to stick to a schedule of taking meds. So, I am trying steam. I will graduate to a Neti pot if I see advantages in a steam. And then take it from there. But then I have a deadlines impending (of the Everest) and I cant wait forever. So, fix the shit! Sidenote 3. If the nostril does not open by end of July, go get a surgery done. 

So, yeah! This is it. My sleeping disorder. In as much glory and with as many facts as I could muster. 
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Untitled - 21 May 2017

Sun, 21 May 2017 07:07:00 +0000

I started writing this yesterday day before but could not get around to publishing it. Here's the complete text, as I wrote yesterday day before.
So I have written two days on the trot. If I can publish this, it would mark the third day. And yay for that. The thing however is, I dont have a thing to write about.
All of two lines. But the point is, as I get increasingly busy (I should be going increasingly non-busy), I am trying to get back to writing. Writing is what gives me peace, gets me in the flow, allows me to dream (I think I have said it earlier, I think best when I am talking to someone. Or when I am writing). Writing is my meditation - they say that you get more grey matter as you meditate. I am sure writing makes my brain dense. It makes me sharper. Makes me better. And thats' what I chase with all the fervor!

Also, there is this pattern. Unlike other times when I've written, this time, I dont have an agenda. Or a thing. I am writing for the sake of writing. Which is a good thing and a bad thing. Good, it feels good to have shipped something - even if its not up to the mark. Remember Anton Ego? Bad because you sort of get attached to the notion of delivering and you lose sight of the larger objective. And what is the larger objective, if I may? I dont know :)

Anyhow, this is the fourth para in this text and 3 of those 4 have started with an A. Why is this line important? I dont know. I just want to get a 1000 coherent words on paper. This is as coherent as it gets! Like most things, this is a clear case of one thing leading to another and taking me to undefined territory.

Oh, by the way, yesterday, I did something that I had never done before. I got in front of the camera. To start a new project with Mihir. More about it in a few days. I was surprisingly non-shy in front of the camera - though the way I looked could do some improvements. It was better that what we had expected. Hope to continue doing it.

That reminds me, I have another project that I started some time back and have done nothing to push it ahead. Thing is there is just too much happening. I need to take control of my life or I would be like a freight train rushing down a mountain! I spoke about it the other day.

Apart from this, I havent done much on things in last few months. My worry is that while I am managing day to day things, I am missing the bus. This FOMO is making me jittery like nothing else and I dont know how to escape from it!

Ok, before I spiral into a pitiful, self-flagellating rant, I am gonna stop and go get some shit done. Over and out.(image)



Maker and Manager Schedule

Thu, 18 May 2017 05:00:00 +0000

Continuing my rants on work, here is another. But first, as always, context.1. Read Maker and Manager schedules. Copying from a post that I wrote in 2016, in one line, he says that you need to split your days in two kinds - one where you "make" things and other where you "manage" things. Make is where you get real work done. Manage is when you are on the call and get others to do things. 2. I straddle way too many things and I refuse to become master of just one. So lately I have found myself putting in too much time in meetings. Meetings in general are wasteful but often things get done if there are clear agendas and there's a great moderator. I try and do that with most meetings I attend. And while its great to be able to take decisions and move the ball forward, truth be told, I for one don't achieve a lot in meetings. I dont add any value. I dont do anything that makes me happy. That makes me feel alive. I dont add no real value. I am like the gatekeeper that has to push pesky kids all the time to do things. And that is one of the worst soul-sucking, thankless, energy-sapping work that you can ever do!Actually, if I look back at the last 2 odd years and someone asked me to make a list of things that I have achieved, I am proud of, I will have nothing! I mean, who says on their CV that in the biggest achievement of the last two years is that you have enough money to pay your bills - something I could've done if I did not quit GE. Or CLA. Or Gravity. Or Mirum! To be honest its no mean feat to deliver good work and find ways to stay afloat in this time and economy. But is that what my epitaph would say?Thing is, as a creator, creative, expressive, ambitious, lazy, thinking, individual, I have this innate need to create. And ship. In fact I think the mindfuckery that has plagued me over the last few week (apart from muck at work) is because I am not creating anything new (no new writing, no new businesses, no ridiculous daydreams, no new side projects, no moonshots). To me, the allure of starting something is greater than anything else. In fact if I reflect on the times when I have been the happiest, they have been times when I was creating things - 5x5, book, blogs, side projects etc. I get into the flow super easy when I do that.Lately I've been getting less and less opportunities to do so.In an ideal world I would do nothing but create. May be I am ideally suited for a career as a painter or an artist or a photographer. But then I dont have the talent to be one. So, I need to settle for the second best - a career where I get to make some money by doing boring things and then use that money to create things that give me happiness (aka Hugh's Sex and Cash Theory).So maybe, I need to get active on side projects. Or maybe, I need to get to the Maker / Manager schedule and use dedicated chunks of time to make!. . .The other thread here is learning. I recently heard Elon Musk say,People are mistaken when they think that technology just automatically improves. It does not automatically improve. It only improves if a lot of people work very hard to make it better, and actually it will, I think, by itself degrade, actually. You look at great civilizations like Ancient Egypt, and they were able to make the pyramids, and they forgot how to do that. And then the Romans, they built these incredible aqueducts. They forgot how to do it.James Altucher says that minds muscle atrophies if you dont use it. There are countless others that have extolled the virtues of doing things regularly, one day at a time. Each one gives a different name but the intention is the same - do things if you want to improve.Or, in simple words, more I write, better I get. Better I get, more audience I get. More audience I get, more encouragement and appreciation I get. And that means I write more. Its a si[...]



Untitled Rant. Work.

Wed, 17 May 2017 11:09:00 +0000

First things first. Aka Context.Apart from C4E, I run a marketing communications and digital marketing business as well (So, what if...). Since I dont have any marquee names on the team (talent), I dont have a great portfolio. And since I dont have a great portfolio, I dont get to work on big brands. And since I dont get to work on big brands, I cant get a marquee name to take a risk and work with me. It's a vicious circle. But then I cant cry about it. So, I've found a sweet spot - companies that dont need fancy people or creds. They just want need great work done. In reasonable amount of time and budgets. Thats something I can deliver. For sure. And with such companies, I wish to establish my reputation as someone who gets things done. In my previous avatars, I have been a brand planner (at CLA and now at SWI), an event manager (at Gravity and now at C4E) and a social media strategist (at Mirum India and now at SWI). So my understanding and experience is limited to these things. This means that when I get a project that requires experience of a full-blown creative agency, I am often left scampering to seek favours from friends and contacts. To be able to deliver. And I aspire to use the aforementioned delivery to entice bigger brands to look at me as an alternative to their fancy people. That means that I need to do exceptional work with whatever clients I get - even if its super hard and super hustle.Finally, unrelated, I refuse to train myself as a master of one. See this TED talk. She speaks of EXACTLY my emotions where she says that once you "get it", the challenge ceases to exist. Plus I love being at the intersection of things. I may or may not be great but thats who I am and where I would be. Look at Steve Jobs, Elon Musk, Jeff Bezos! Now that you know what I do and how I do, here is the [long] rant. I had to get this out of my system.So I have this friend. Lets call him F. When I quit Mirum and got a friend to trust me with work, I approached EVERY one I know to help me deliver the project (with contacts, working capital etc.) And no one but F trusted me and supported me. Even though he and I weren't friends exactly, he helped me. Backed me up. Gave me his name and his people and his money. To allow me to deliver and stand on my two feet. And then from that one project, we got more work and eventually, that one client started giving me enough to start dreaming of doing that elusive first million! Plus, F helped me make my first 10 lakhs. So, in my head, I am sort of indebted to him.One fine day F called me and told me that he had this project from someone he knew and it fits into my scheme of things - a company that is not stuck up on marquee names or portfolios, wants to get work done in reasonable time; and apparently great people to work with. Plus I dont say no to whatever F asks me for. Plus, I never say no to work. Beggars cant be choosers. No?Now this company, lets call them C. They operate in a category that is growing by 25% a year and they have been going DOWN by as much each year. I visited the factory for a few days, met with the owners, the team and I realised that they are a classic case of an owner-manager trying to do a lot of things at the same time, once one business (typically cash cow) starts to do well. And the MBA in me tells me that these issues are not too tough to solve. Any management consultant would've loved to work on this company and could easily turn it around in one season!So I took up a design project, hoping that it would give me a foot in door. Despite their size (~500 crores), they don't understand the importance of branding (actually, almost NO ONE understands the power of marketing / design in India. Repeat. No one. True, there are exceptions but people do NOT understand the discipline[...]



At the end,

Sun, 23 Apr 2017 18:57:00 +0000

Even though we believe and behave as if we are immortals, all of us have a super finite time here (about 80 years if you are lucky). And while the average is about 80 years, we never know when our time runs out. I mean a meteor could hit us right now and before I "publish" this post, it could all be over and I won't even know. Neither would you for that matter! If I do get to publish this post, I could get into an accident on my way home from Starbucks. I won't know how many people did this post reach and all that. Or I could die at the old, ripe age of 80 after posting 10000 blogposts (I am at 1500 something posts, written over the last 13 years) and doing all the things that I wish to do!So, I was reading something and somehow I stumbled on to this post by Kevin Kelly. I pick two things from that post.A. KK starts by talking about when he was 29. Back then he lived as if he only had 6 months to live (P.S.: He's still alive and kicking at the age of 65). All his actions and thoughts were guided by the knowledge that he would be gone in the next 6 months.After those 6 months, he estimated the time he had left (he calculated the approximate date of his death, by looking at statistics and other medical information). He used/uses this expiry date as a goal post. He put a widget that counts the number of days left in his life. At any given point in time, he knows the exact number of days that are ahead of him. And this "fear" (or may be "awareness") helps him decide the things that he wants to spend focus his time on. A ticking clock time-bomb is such an important tool for motivation!B. The other thing that he talks about is how one of his friends (Stewart Brand) sees life in 5-year chunks - he says that anything worth doing takes about 5 years. In my experience this is not true but I am sure this is how things are.So, if we combine A and B, it could probably become yet another system that helps us do more. How? By buying a time-bomb!Lemme talk about me as an example.While I want to live forever, I will assume that I am going to die on 1 Jan 2026. And that leaves me with little less than 8 years (3174 days to be exact). And thus, apart from personal things, that means I have just two things that I can do well before I die. One of those things is C4E. The other, I dont know yet.So, all I ought to do is focus on C4E. All other things become recreation, for the lean days, for the days when I am so tired that I don't want to work on making C4E the greatest entertainment business in the world. Of course in these next 4 years, situation could change and I am ok with adapting to the change. But the endeavour would be to focus on just C4E! Every act, every investment will be towards that one goal.Does that mean I will leave all other projects hanging in the limbo? After all I am the kinds to have multiple things running at the same time - in fact it makes me who I am!No it doesnt. Two reasons. A, I have traditionally been a bad finisher and now that I have started to finish things, I will take all open projects to conclusions. And then, either handover to others or find a way to merge them with C4E. B, this multi-tasking, inter-disciplinary approach, swinging on multiple trees is what makes me, me. It has served me well and I enjoy it. I just need to reshape the priorities and I should be ok.So yeah. The time is limited. 3174 days in my case. How about you? How many days do you have? How many 5-year long projects can you take up? What are those? Tell me about it. Lemme know if I could be help. Please?Thats it for today. 3173 more to go! Thanks for reading.P.S.: And the meteor did not hit us before I hit the Publish button. Let's see if I reach home.P.P.S.: Some books that you may want to read about life and death (especially in context o[...]



At IMS

Sun, 19 Mar 2017 16:50:00 +0000

Highlight of the day has to be the session that I took at IMS. They wanted someone to work with MBA aspirants and make them understand the nuances of things that happen during the GD phase of the selection process.This was after a while I was doing something like that. And I came home with a few things. Here's a list. In no order, as always...A. Realisation that I suck at public speaking. I would want to believe that I am good at it. But I am not. I do have a speech impediment - I stutter, speak fast, gobble up words, have a nasal voice. Thankfully, all these can be worked on.The things that are tougher to work on, confidence, presence, ability to structure thoughts - I have those. So, nothing to worry about. Need practise. Thats about it! B. The "proud" and "popular" decision that I took to NOT read newspapers and consume just the online pieces, its backfiring.Why? Because when I was reading newspapers, I was getting something in my head (howsoever crappy, biased, inaccurate it were). On the other hand, when I consume stuff online, I often get lost in the forest full of trees of knowledge. And the way I consume new information, I tend to look at just the highlights and not the details. I am doing what Feynman says is knowing the name of something. And honestly, I dont know how to fix this.While reading online is great, I can choose what I want to read on. So, most of what I know tends to be from one of my favorite buckets - startups, decision making, evolution, human behaviour, business, investing, cultures etc. Now as a social animal, I need lot more than these disciplines. And thus, more.Also, lately I have been thinking about reading. When I say reading, there is books, there's blogs, there is newspapers and there is reading for business - industry reports, opinions etc.Lemme talk of books first. There are three distinct ways in which I hope to read to learn from books.First, I am becoming convinced that reading entire books (for learning) may not be the most efficient method. Like Naval said in a recent podcast, most books have one or two points to make and then they use 300 pages to drive home that one point. I can do better by reading book summaries and other such things. Bastardised form of learning but I am ok with it. So, books like Blink, Influence etc. would fall under this category. In fact thanks to platforms like TED, Youtube and podcasts, you can watch a 18-min video and you would have consumed the entire book. Or you download a 30-min podcast on your phone and as you reach your office, you would know about a new thing!  Second, when you read about lives of great people - thats something I ought to continue doing. When you read a biography, you are not just learning from the lives they lives, you are also living their lives with them, seeing what decisions they made and how they made those decisions. The best part? You have the advantage of the hindsight! Third, there are few exceptional non-fictional books that pack more points than one. Case in point? The one that I am reading right now - Sapiens. The other such book that I immensely enjoyed is Tools of Titans. Its essentially a "listicle" 2.0 book (list of lists), it had lists of things, daily habits and other such things from some of the most successful people. Such books ought to be read cover to cover. Keyword, read to learn. This does not include fiction. Books that I read for recreation. Like John Grisham. Or Lee Child. I am planning to pick Simenon. Let's see how that goes.Blogs - well, I follow some 400 odd blogs - I dont read them all. I skim (and skim fast) and I am happy with the approach. Unless while skimming, something catches my fancy. I then sort of deep dive into it. I read arguments in favour and ag[...]



The Powai Proximity Problem

Sun, 12 Mar 2017 07:28:00 +0000

I live in Ghatkopar and its about 35 bucks away from Powai. And all the places that I typically hang out at - Starbucks, LPQ, Mohini etc. And places like Harry's that I like to go but they frown when I go in chappals and shorts.So since I've moved to GK West (as VG calls it), I try and not go anywhere else but Powai. For shopping, for eating out, for fun, for parties, for running errands, for working, for doctors and for anything else that a 35-year may have to do.Except office, that is about 150 bucks (and an hour) away from GK. And places that I cant avoid the travel to - client meetings, my homoepath in Mahim, airport etc. When I do have to travel to these places, I ensure that I leave GK by 7 AM and am on the way back by 4 PM. Thats how you avoid traffic in Mumbai. There is no other way. And there is no worse way to waste life.So, when I have to meet people, I "request" them to come over to Powai. Unless they really really really can't make it and I really really really want to meet them. Or unless I am already at work and they could meet in en route to GK. But then life is not that simple. There are tons of issues with it. Here's top three that I can document.A. Monotony Most of my friends want hang out at newer places, experience new things, taste new tastes, go to the newest fancy thing in the town. For me, all these are merely incidental. The idea is to catch up with friends and we can do that at a Starbucks or at one of the numerous places around Powai. Or even a drive for that matter.However, I am told that the idea is to have a good time and good time is a combination of good food, good music, good shared activity and good conversations. There are varying degrees of contribution of each factor. For me, the conversation and activity contribute 50% each. Food and music is immaterial. So, at Powai, I we can find any activity that we may want to indulge in, at any budget (which often is not a challenge as most of my friends are richer than me) and almost all cuisines. So, I dont see the need to step out.I understand that for people other things could have varying percentages. And I ok with it but I dont understand why would the group travel to Bandra (about 40 minutes and 200 bucks) to just eat a salad and go back to their respective places. Sum total of all hours wasted in all this travel is criminal. And on top of that, our time is severely limited.B. Limited contact with others As I try and build AWSL and C4E, I realise that human connections are super important if you want to get ahead in life. So this is something that I anyway suck at. I am not an extrovert and I suck at sucking up. I am generally nice to people but I cant be overtly praiseful. My EQ is questionable and my empathy for others borders on the ones that sociopaths have.I am working on changing this. Not tough if you ask me. However most people dont operate at the super-rational level that I am trying to achieve. And thus it gets tough to call them to Powai all the time. Or meet them at 4 at Saki Naka. Or at 3 at Andheri.The other issue is that other constructs that allow you to mingle with people require fake camaraderie. And that requires sessions of alcohol, smokes, drugs and other such things. The only thing that I abuse is Coke. I thus get stuck with it as well. One way to resolve this is by considering new contacts as work. And then, just like I dont question the need to go to work, I probably wont question the need to go to meet people. Lemme give this a shot in H2-2017.The other way is to do such brilliant work that they really really really want to meet you. And travel to where you are. This is something that I can work on, starting NOW! C. Old ageAs you grow old, you g[...]



I cried

Sat, 11 Mar 2017 16:28:00 +0000

Few facts first.I am 34. Will be 35 this year. In other words, I will be past my prime in a few months.My bank balance as we speak is 39000 and change. And no, I dont own a house. Or a car. I do own some stock.I have no clue what I want to do in life. At different times in life I have wanted to make software, produce movies, become a travel writer, be an investor, teach, play poker professionally, play cricket, become a politician, make documentaries, be a twitter celebrity, become a publisher author, an adrenaline junkie and I dont even recall half of the things! A bucket list is here. Why am I talking about all this? Because I just a documentary on Warren E Buffett and at a point in the documentary, I cried. Will come back to it in a bit. For the time being, if you are alive and you think you want to be a better person, you have to see it. Its on youtube here. Dont know how long its gonna stay there. Do see it while its around. Content like (expensive to produce, insightful etc) belongs in the public domain. Never know why museums are ticketed so high. In fact one of the things that I want to do in life is to create such things. That allow humans to learn more. Am digressing. Coming back to the documentary. I've known of WEB since 2004 (atleast) when Prof. Bakshi first talked about him at MDI. And since then I have consumed numerous pieces of text about him. I am, what they say, a fan. And I adulate him all the time. So, when I heard about the documentary, I did not think much of it. After all whatever WEB says can be easily summarized in few lines. I was half-expecting it to be boring and yet another "fan" made documentary that will recycle facts and snippets from other previously published pieces of text. But I couldn't be more wrong.The documentary had original footage and interviews with the most important people in his life - Charlie, Melinda & Bill, his children and couple of friends (including Carol Loomis). I got the rare look into his office. There were pics from his family album, footage from his personal archives and above all - interview with him, on things that are important to him. For the first time, I saw WEB as a human being. I saw his private life like I've never seen before.It just made the demigod more human.So, in the documentary he talks about things like Coke, Float, Bill Gates, Philanthropy, Moats, See's Candies, his family, his team, various companies that he's bought and most importantly, about himself.While watching and I could be wrong here, I realised that the relationship with his wife probably was strained. After all he was busy reading all the time. And she admits that she and WEB differed on their respective approaches towards philanthropy. She believed that she had to give more money, sooner. He believed in the power of compounding and wanted to wait out as long as he could, before he gave it away. In the end, he got what he wanted, like he has always had.And when the documentary talks about his decision to give his wealth away. And when they showed that press conference when he signs those letters to give away his wealth to his children and Bill Gates, I broke. I cried. With tears and flowing nose (despite my nasal polyps) and all that.I dont know why I ended up in tears. Probably the gravity of the decision? The impact that his life would have on the world? Probably it was his greatest gift to his wife (that I think came too late and WEB would say, came just at the right time)? Probably because his life is in contrast to mine and Ive been thinking a lot about mine lately.This is where I talk about me. Rant.Compared to WEB who is super-focused at what he does, I am all over t[...]



The Umbilical Cord

Wed, 08 Mar 2017 05:39:00 +0000

Yesterday I was in Delhi and I had to give my passport to people at Gravity (they have a show coming up in Budapest and since I havent been to Budapest, I am keen on going). I could have sent it via a runner but then I decided to drop by. Half expecting A and S to be around - the two guys who've taught me the events business (and the skills I use to run C4E). If not for them, I would not know what is this events management business and wont have all the travel that I get to do or make whatever money I get to make. In one line, my life would suck so bad without them.While I was at Gravity, I traveled far and wide, I stayed up for days to put up shows, I did things that I did not like with people that weren't worthy of my time, I have cried, I have laughed and I have partied. I have learnt all that I know from that place. In fact I think I am a minor version of the guy who runs that place. I think like him, I talk like him, I am elitist at times like him. I make the same mistakes. Hell, I want the same car as him!It's at Gravity that the idea of entertaining others struck home. I started realising that purpose of my life could be entertainment. I started thinking of writing while I was bored during the slow part of the season. And while I worked, I got exposed to so much that the scatter brain in me got ever more scattier. It fuelled my appetite for knowing more things - even if I were merely scratching the surface. This was the second time (after CLA) when I felt alive. At CLA, it was sheer brilliance of people around me. And at Gravity, it was the breadth of exposure I got.So, when I left them to start 5x5 and work on #tnks, I started feeling this void. At least in my head. It was like the Stockholm Syndrome I think. I missed the unpredictability, the petty issues that you face while working, and other such things. I was like that junkie that needed a shot in the arm every once in a while. At first I would merely twitch at the separation. Then it started hurting in the head. I felt as if I were lost. But then, like all other things, I came around. I got settled in the routine at Mumbai. The book happened. SWI, C4E happened and I thought I had moved on.Till I spoke to them a few weeks ago. I was putting up an event and I needed some help. I spoke to S and all the memories came rushing back. It was like meeting a lover after a gap of few years and you rekindle memories of the good time and bad times? And like lovers meeting after a long time, we had so much to catch up on. Slowly we started talking more and before I knew, the relationship was back. To the extent that I felt strangely attracted to the beautiful mess that that place is. On top of this, at the back of my head, I've always known that I belonged there. It was home. I could go back anytime I wanted to and they would accept me with open arms.Back to the visit last night. So I went and I was meeting A and S after months (dont even recall when I saw them last). As I walked into their office, I was literally shaking. I could not speak for the first 5 minutes. When A asked me how were things with me, I had no clue about how to respond. I dont know if it was adrenaline or something else. But I could not speak. For someone who's been given the gift of gab (well, almost), I was short of words. I was not short. I knew what to say. I had the thoughts and the words but I could not blurt em out. I guess thats what they say when they say you've been struck by lightening. Think of the time when you met the love of your life for the first time. Or, you see that you've won that award that you've been dying for! Or you hit the lottery. Or any of those things.And while all[...]



Modern Love - next steps

Sat, 04 Mar 2017 02:33:00 +0000

Note: Second email to a few writer friends, seeking contribution. See this for backstory.

Hi Guys,
Trust you guys are well.
We some new people here. For their benefit, this is an attempt to create a community-authored (or crowd-sourced as marketers will say) blog of sorts where we capture true, real-life love stories from urban, modern, middle-aged Indians. You may want to read more at my blog.

Coming to the point.
So, first things first. I have got few submissions. I uploaded some at https://project2602.wordpress.com. This is a pre-pre-alpha version right now. And it's been put up to show you the kind of stories we could capture. There is a love letter, a story, a tweet storm and a thought.

Second. This is the second email in series. Last time I wrote to you guys, I had this vague idea about what and how I wanted the project to look like. Since then, I have some more clarity. See the mindmapish list of things that I have thought of about this project (source file is here and you can edit it using a free tool - www.xmind.net).

So, I now know that it will be a blog and a thematic quarterly magazine / special edition. I know what could it look like. I know the success / failure metric. Of course, I am open to suggestions. More the better. Please email me!

Third. Next steps (aka immediate tasks)!
  • Need a name. We can't call this Modern Love. For a simple reason that NY Times uses it and while we are “imitating” them, can't lift the name! So, suggest some names please. 
  • Manifesto. Need a raison d'etre, if you will! Something that captures the attempt in one line. The one I wrote reads, “This is a collection of personal stories, anecdotes, experiences, incidents and other such things that emerge out of a middle-aged, modern Indian's pursuit of love”. Not very happy. Help me with it. 
  • Submission guidelines. I don't know how to do this - no experience with running a “mag.” Will need serious help. Any inputs? So far, I just have two things that count as submission: A, it has to be a real story. Or inspired by real-life events and B, the story has to be set in contemporary India, by and for “modern” Indians 

Finally, I plan to wait till 31 Mar on this. So far I have 7 stories. Another three have been promised. If by 31 Mar, I get 20 stories, I will go live on 1 April.

If not, then whatever stories I get, I will bind them into an anthology and pester Sachin (my publisher at Grapevine) or Crossword to bind them as a book and put it on Amazon / Flipkart etc. That's the least I can do - give each contributor an opportunity to get the credits of publishing a piece in an anthology. Not the best thing but a great consolation prize if you ask me.

That's about it! I love when these projects sort of take shape!

If you have any questions, please ask me and I will be happy to help!

Thanks,
SG
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Untitled - 26 Feb 2017

Sun, 26 Feb 2017 18:08:00 +0000

This week (and most the month) passed away in a blur. I was away (do see some of the pics I put up on Instagram) with super limited access to Internet. And unlike other times when I did not have Internet, I did not do any soul searching. I was merely living in the moment, seeping in the scenery and all that.So the week after I came back from the travel, all of it was spent in recuperating from the laziness that had engulfed me over the previous three weeks. Its hard to get back to the groove but slowly, I am getting back. Thank God for that. There is so much to think about, capture, say, write. This is first in the edition.So, a few lessons, observations and reflections from the trip are:1. You are not irreplaceable. At work or at home. Or at friends. Or with anything else. Life goes on. The ego about you being the immortal and all that is so superficial that its not funny. Apart from work, all those pet projects that you want to nurture and grow, no one gives two hoots about them. You think you are adding value to people's lives and they must care? Nope! You are wrong. Nothing adds any value to anyone. And if it does, they dont care. Life is too busy and they'd rather do more things with their time than pause and reflect. Not everyone thinks about larger issues that surround them. May be everyone does. Well, am rambling.2. Kids can be great! While I was in Mel, I met this Indian family and the young one, a 6-year old girl, was so innocent and so endearing that for those few days, I actually wanted a kid of my own.P.S.: Now that I am back, I dont think I want a kid. I am happy with once-in-a-while meetups with Myra. And if I get more craving, there is N.3. It sucks to be a dark-skinned man in a white-country. You may claim that beauty is deeper than skin and your mind is more beautiful than the body and all that. Bullshit. The fact of the matter is, the way you look makes a HUGE difference. You get judged moment you walk in. And why not? We are evolved animals and we have survived all this while by merely relying on the mental models we've created. If we know that we would be safe in the company of people that look like us, we go out and seek the company of similar people. And if you are brown, apart from the billion and half of us that predominantly live in the Indian subcontinent, you will be "them" for the rest of the 5 odd billion people. I dont know if we can fix this but there has to be a way for me to not get bogged down by things!4. Poker is a tough game. Played at two casinos and both times I was card-dead. Well thats not an excuse. The likes of Negreanu are card-dead all the time and still do well. If they can, I ought to. But I dont. Thing is, I have been playing it pretty regularly (at a point I was playing it once a week, now I get to play once in three months) since 2012 and these three sessions at at the casinos has made me realise that I suck so bad at it. In all I've lost about 75K, not including travel, accommodation, hours and all that. I thought I was good but clearly I am not. I do think that I have what it takes to do well but I am not sure if I have the time to practise. The ones who do well, the ones I know who do well, they get in a lot of hours on the table. More on this some other day.5. Loved the professionalism and the respect for time in people there. If someone told me that they would meet me at 2, they met me at 2. Irrespective if it was raining, middle of the day, bad weather, they had a bad day, it was their birthday or whatever. People respect time like nobodies business. Here in India, well. Time is like that thing that we want t[...]