Turning 30

Turning 30

One could easily justify a long philosophical and rather reflective rant, on the next day of his 30th birthday, but then it’s me and whenever I’ve tried to justify anything much, it hasn’t quite worked.

It’s 8 AM in the morning, so unlikely I’ll get all emotional to thank people for being in my life and having helped me thus far, or show off my achievements within 30, easy to make anyone jealous, or list my regrets – an accumulation of left overs from the magazine bucket lists of ‘things to do before you’re 30’.

I’ve never been too big on birthdays. Kind friends would come by to celebrate at midnight, only to find me struggling to stay up, out of politeness. Sometimes, even that was tough and they’d gotten used to it. So is it just another day me? Perhaps not.

The first birthday in a long time, away from anyone who’d wish me in person. Of course, the video chats, calls, whatsapp messages and FB wallposts by friends come in as usual, so do some thoughtfully written personal notes. The flowers from wifey, and cake from family almost make it. You feel grateful for the thought all these people spent, a tad guilty of your moronic ways – just about never managing to wish people on their birthdays. Last year, I didn’t even thank most people who wished me. Maybe some people routinely post ‘happy birthday’ via a super simplified FB prompt. But well, they still did that much and I should have the courtesy to respond.

It’d be tempting to reveal what I actually did for my birthday. Haven’t gathered the courage yet to be much of a good samaritan and engage in some noble acts, so I mingled with half a million european youngsters at the Woodstock 2014 in Poland. It’s one of the world’s largest open air music festivals. Complete with crazy live music, free flowing beer, fire-hose toting Police Vans, ‘free hugs’ tagged young men and women – and an open mud shower. Grab someone and dunk them in wet mud. Repeat. Pretty easy to present it as ‘the most happening birthday party of my life’ in a series of FB picture posts.

People Actually do this and with a smile.

This is what a mud bath looks like..

This is what a mud bath looks like..

The performance stage and the people

The performance stage and the people

But well – and this might seem untrue – according to my recent discoveries, I’m an introvert – often preoccupied in my own world, than too involved in the surroundings. So what did I do? Yeah, I did take the shower, dunked a few people, gave some hugs, raved to some beats. But most interesting of all, I observed some teen-age scoring – of how many girls you dunked. Then figured I’d grown up to be much less spontaneous or freewheeling to attempt or enjoy these games. Some years ago, it might have been easier to overcome the awkwardness or ignore the lurking boyfriend.

Now, what am I doing? Observing that the ‘Free Hug’ sign could become a branded collateral and be distributed freely, or the fact that there are pretty much no sponsor promotions here. Or that the tourism/culture ministry of India should put together super large scale festivals that become popular internationally or at least converge the Indian youth – not around rock music, but something more local. Honey Singh, maybe :). More than a swadeshi thought, maintaining local content is a question of differentiated brand identity. If a Woodstock can have a bunch of Saree-clad polish women at a Hare Krysna stall serving ‘food for peace’, we sure can have representation of other cultures in an essentially Indian fest. Perhaps shifting across stages from Sufi, to Garba, to Bhangra, to Ghoomar, to Ghazal, with some rock and jazz blended – in one large open air venue. Make it Commonwealth types. Magnify SPIC MACAY or college festivals at a Sarkaari level, like the Kumbh mela.

But that’s a logistical nightmare. Indian’s won’t live in tents or queue up for public toilets temporarily installed at such a venue. Parents won’t send their daughters alone. Morality police would be uncomfortable about the free mingling of youth.. and many others will oppose. Or maybe it would work out, if we brand this right.

And there I go. So I was thinking all of this at Woodstock yesterday. Now I wonder if turning 30 happens one fine day – or with every moment when you judge yourself as too old to do/enjoy something. Or in all the times you think differently from how an 18 year old would. Dunking, and scoring free hugs could’ve been enough pre-occupation a few years ago. Not anymore.

Being young sounds positively spirited, and growing up seems more about a pot belly, receding hairline, inability to run, being bogged down by life’s stress or low energy in general. Seldom is the maturing of though process given due credit against youthful recklessness. There’s a time for everything and something awesome about each stage. But we love stereotypes.

It feels odd then, seems like I’m unusual in feeling absolutely comfortable with my age. I could be more logical and argue the pros and cons of the age, or go on to list what I like and dislike about being 30, or about growing up in general. But then, growing up taught me the ability to argue rather strongly from both sides and also the futility of making an argument, as that seldom changes anyone’s preconceived notions or pre-drawn conclusions.

So then, I end this rant with my email signature.

Onelife, it’s happening now!

P.S. By the way, all the pictures are sourced from the web. I knew i’d find them, so didn’t bother clicking.

The Berlin Diaries

The Berlin Diaries

The trouble with blogging, is it’s not so much of singing for yourself in the bathroom, but is more like taking a microphone and singing on a stage. However aware you are about your lack of gift as a writer, you do hope that people will trickle in, and some day, you will have a full audience and then some.

So that leads you to check stats, and the ugly truth kills the motivation that you had garnered with so much effort.

Then there are tips about how to get better at this and so on.. Trying to understand your audience, making sure you keep it intriguing.. Not make it too long or repetitive, perhaps have some new insights being revealed blah blah blah.. Making my simple ramble into a rather unnervingly complicated science which doesn’t seem to be my forte.

I was doing alright wallowing in self deprecation, till I figured that it is a style of writing as well, that a bunch of people follow. There we go.

Wife left back to India last week.. With a completed tripadvisor (and lonely planet, almost) checklist of what to do in Berlin, giving me this opportunity to reflect on my first weekend alone in Berlin. Thought I would use it well, by not stepping out of the house at All.

Alright. Tons has changed in life. To all those making me jealous by posting pictures of holidaying at Times Square or some exotic beach.. which once In a while tempted my wife to check cleartrip and me to check my bank account…Here is to you. I have moved to Berlin. Europe. That’s right. So I will gladly post pictures of weekends in prague, Vienna or drop some philosophical lines staring at the Danube or seem like a born connoisseur (I love autocorrect) at the louvre in Paris. I might even fake some encounters – pergolas one with a pretty European lass engaging a beautiful conversation until before sunrise.

Be assured, I would hide the mundane days – cooking almost round rotis, almost cooked potatoes, doing the dishes (and the bowls, spoons and pans) on my own or washing (AND drying) the clothes, and picking up the vaccum cleaner when i can start to notice that it’s getting dirty. If I speak to you soon, be assured I will tell you about what a nice city it is, amazing public transport, amazing street art with good guys playing accordions or violins in acoustically brilliant metro stations.

(Accordion is what I knew till a few mins ago as the handheld harmonium. Thank you google, and raj kapoor for playing it in that joker movie).

Or if you are the serious kind. I might tell you about the documentaries I have been watching about Berlin’s history, sub cultures and the importance of the sentence ‘Ich bin ein Berliner’ when Kennedy said it in 1963.

To some others, I would post selfies with some firangs with colored hair, colored lighting, and colored drinks.. For Berlin also is a city that never sleeps..a nightlife capital..where parties don’t just last all night, but actually 48 hrs.

And yes.. Important final note. I have stopped converting euros to rupees before deciding to not spend.

Oh.. And ANY conversation will NOT end, without me saying.. ‘You know, you should come to Berlin sometime.’

Dil Khush Jahaan.. teri to manzil hai vohi!

What are you doing with Your Life?

What are you doing with Your Life?

Came across this one from Bud Cadell’s works on whatconsumesme and instantly grew to love this depiction. Simple, yet powerful way to organize everything I do, or can do, and it’ll immediately decide how much time / resources I should be spending on it.

Though the self-help books wouldn’t get you to start writing your goals on a piece of paper, this one seems an interesting thing to do. – list whatever I do, or can potentially do, into one of the categories :

What I want to do but neither am I good, nor will it pay. – Travel consultant?

What I can get paid for, but neither am I good with  nor I want to do it. – Bullshitting!

What I’m good with, but neither it pays, nor I really want to do it. –

What I want to do and can get paid for but am not too good at – Dealmaking

What I want to do and am good at, but won’t get paid for it. –

What I’m good with, can get paid for, but don’t want to do. –

What I’m good with, would love to do and CAN get paid for! – Conceptualizing Solutions

But well, at 25, in the process of experimenting with your career before you’re required to stabilize, not all these questions are answered properly. Though if the last one is answered well enough, all else is irrelevant.

The venn hasn’t told me what my Hooray! is, but it has told me the way to think, if I want to get there!

Also, it’s given me an interesting thing to play with, to make new venn diagrams that’ll give me new ways of looking at life and what I’m doing.

AND , a cool piece of gyan to draw on tissue papers at coffee shops, and give away to people – with due respect to Cadell!

Is it just me, or aisa tumhaare saath bhi hota hai?

Had been wanting to do this for a while now, so here I start with a list of things that happen to me all the time, and might seem weird, but then I believe (or rather hope) happen to others too! 🙂

The mind that works on its own..

– You’re eating something and using a newspaper below it to keep the space clean, and as you eat, you end up pausing, engrossed in reading the article in the paper, how much ever dated it might be.

– You’re in the middle of explaining an important argument to some important people, (prof, client et al), and all of a sudden, in a flash, you lose your chain of thought, and end up having to complete with some random gyan, trying to hide your embarrassment. And, mostly, your listeners still nod their head.. leaving you to wonder what they must be thinking about you!!!

– Ok, this one’s a cliche. The polyamorous feeling : I love her, but I love someone else too.. but I’m not a bad guy!!

– You hear the door bell, go out to open it, to not find anyone. You come back and ask people around you, if the bell had rung. It hadn’t.

– You take the phone out of the pocket, thinking it’s ringing, of course, it’s not!

– You walk out of your home on the 13th floor, decide to take the stairs coz the phone you’re talking on, will go conk in the elevator, go down a floor, check your pocket for the phone, and almost climb back a couple of stairs.. to go back home to get it. Then you realize that you’re TALKING on the phone!!

– You write long mails, pouring your heart out – with a piece of your mind to top it up, then give it one final read before you send it, and end up saving it in your drafts, to never send it. And then, later on, you thank your sensibility in not sending that mail. (at least 50 out of the 300 drafts I have must be like this. I post a lot of them to lil these days)

– The days I wake up early, are the days I am really late! I don’t know what I end up doing!

– You enjoy writing things down because they help you organize your thoughts and purge the clutter from your head.

Socially,

– Bumping into them out of the blue, you forget the names of people you’ve known for long(old classmates/colleagues), and are looking for ways to figure it out, without embarrassing yourself and them…

– At dinners or get togethers, for a few passing moments, you try to be a part of the groups that you don’t exactly belong to, but don’t get around to participating somehow, and just get out.

– You wonder why can’t people talk straight, and wonder if they’re just making casual conversation or dropping signals that you need to pick up and keep in mind!

– You feel jealous of that funny guy who gets all the attention, while your sense of humor takes a while to get rolling, and has limited laughter-quotient.

– You can happily talk away to glory when introduced to a new person, so much so that you can say you love meeting strangers – but find it rather difficult to walk up to someone to introduce yourself and start a conversation.

– Extension of the previous thing – You can talk away for hours to a new person you started talking to, onboard a flight, but you find it tough to have conversations with people who’ve been your classmates for years!

The shy/ withdrawn / self absorbed loner?

– In a variety of situations – you get a strong feeling that you don’t belong here. It has happens at home, at college, at my b school, in student body meetings, in parties, at pubs, in conferences.. just about every social situation you can be in. But you’re not so much of a loner either!! You just find it difficult to blend in.

– You’re sometimes overly withdrawn, because you don’t want to come across as desperate.

– Your shyness is sometimes (or maybe often) seen as snobbishness, and while you don’t know how to explain the difference, you pretend to ‘not care’ and let it pass!

– You wonder sometimes if people actually mean those kind words they tell you, or they’re just being polite!

– You get embarrassed at the overenthusiastic praising and complimenting by certain relatives / extended family.

– You don’t call up friends / ping them when you see them online, coz you feel you don’t have much to talk about, and they might be busy with their own lives – and you fall further short of conversation material after every such missed talk!

– Your busy status on messengers, is perpetual, and you don’t change it ever. It amuses you when that ppl use this as an excuse you to not talk to you for a long time.

– You don’t exactly love the ‘post on your wall’ or ‘scrapbook’ b’day wishes, which only came coz the person saw your b’day on orkut / fb. And you don’t like wishing ppl that way either. Except, a few cases.

– Gathering courage, you initiate a conversation with someone, or drop a compliment, and are endlessly embarrassed into being silent when they respond rather coldly!

– You like disappearing into the woods sometimes, for extended periods. You like it if ppl ask after you, with concern, but are really pretty ok if nobody does. You’re ok being in your own world!

– You’re sometimes skeptical of the overt depictions of camaraderie between people, wondering if it’s real, or is it just one lonely person reaching out to another, wonder if you wanna be one of those!

– Someone new starts paying a lot of attention to you all of a sudden and you feel weird, but secretly like it, and then one fine morning, they suddenly decide to withdraw, without any explicit reason and you start to feel weird!!

– You HATE it, when people leave without saying a bye. Exit from your life, effectively. Perhaps having taken offence to something, or choosing to withdraw themselves, or for some reason – leaving you restless with an unanswered why!

– In the flash of a moment, you think about someone, wondering what they’re upto.. and are surprised how come you didn’t ask after them all these days!

Of virtues and Idealism

– You wonder sometimes why people make such a virtue out of sacrifice and giving up.

– You like it sometimes when some people take liberties with you. Makes you feel they hold you close.

– Find half the heroes as false – wonder why and how they got there!

– Sometimes looking at the face of poverty, deprivation and desolation – you feel the meaningless of all your pursuits, if they’re not going to change life for the deprived.

Of Judging,

– Find some people pointlessly argumentative and judgemental, and feel like giving the discussion up and letting them be in their own world, rather than brew up an intelligent discussion.

– You wonder if you’ve become too objective or numb, to feel almost heartless at times.

– Having gone too far with being non judgmental, you sometimes find it difficult to see anything wrong with anybody! Everyone’s doing what’s in their best interest, and have their own reasons for it. And you can’t hate anyone for anything they say or do! Quick concluders turn you off though!

– And, despite the continued obsession with being non judgmental… you suddenly begin to judge closely, uncomfortably closely…

Random crazy instincts!

– You feel really tempted to jump off the train, into the sea, when it’s crossing a bridge.

– You sometimes consider dying, just because you’re REALLY curious to know what happens next!

– Wake up at 5 AM, because you have a huge chain of thought in your head, which you must capture. You capture it and go to sleep again!

– Sometimes, your chivalrous instincts are blocked by your feminist ones! You’d offer your seat to an aunty or an elderly person, but not to a girl your age, or offer to lift her luggage for her.. she’s your ‘equal’ remember?

– You feel scared of opening your monthly credit card statements, or other bills, and put it off till the last possible date.

Now, here are things I thankfully don’t feel… but people around me do. Do you?

– I trip over something or the other everyday!

– If you tell me about a disease and its symptoms, I get scared believing that I have it!!

– At every possible opportunity where you can see your reflection – a car rear view mirror, a restaurant spoon, or anything similar – you feel an irresistible urge to check how you’re looking! in passing cars with reflective glass, a clean patch i na dirty bit of broken glass, the cell phone when its not lit up.

I’m sure I’ll soon have a LOT more to add to this post. This feeling crosses my mind more often than I eat chocolate these days!

Meanwhile, if you related with any of the above, or feel something I’ve not included.. do write in!

So much for the light musings.. and baring some thoughts!

On a Year in Mumbai!

Just about a year ago, I’d signed the lease for the flat I’m living in right now. The past few days have been in sharp reflection of the time I’ve spent in Mumbai, not as a student this time. The thoughts when I’d come here, the evolution, the hundreds of meetings with dozens of people, a few million thoughts, and endless dreams. Life’s moved, slowly sometimes, and breathtakingly fast, at others. But it’s moved, and it’s been quite a journey this far.

Anyway, this isn’t so much about me, but the city I’m told I belong to. And not without reason. I’ve absorbed the pace of the place, so much so, that something less just tests my patience. I’ve made peace with traveling in all modes of transport, including the peak hour local trains, leaving me sweaty and grimy – but not quite tired.

I’ve enjoyed quietly sitting at the marine drive looking at the horizon. I’ve folded my pants and taken a stroll at juhu beach, slurrping off a butter scotch and kala khatta gola, and with the same folded pants, walked in to prithvi theatre to get last moment tickets, owing to cancellations, and seen Hamlet sitting next to film personalities.

I’ve had the two rupee cutting chai at the railway station, before I boarded the second class train, on my way for a million dollar discussions, sitting in the lobby of the Taj, onwards to a 150 rupee Tea.

I’ve seen the sun set and felt the breeze in my hair, as I said sipping my chocolate, sitting at the carter road coffee shop, and I’ve strolled on the promenade in the middle of the nights, pondering over and feeling amused at the little joys of life.

I’ve had dates that started with pani puri and a walk at the beach and ended with a fine meal at an Italian Restaurant.

I’ve had a long conversation with a Venture Investor and with a taxi driver on the same day, and am not sure which one I enjoyed more.

I’ve danced all night at a disc, and yet been fresh and happy for a lunch meeting the following day.

I’ve hosted parties that lasted all night, and concluded in the morning with a buffet breakfast.

I’ve seen friends become estranged and heard almost-strangers pour their heart out to me.

I’ve spent days without meeting anyone except my flatmates, or not returned home for nights.

I’ve had breakfast at the Maratha and lunched on a a vada pao.

I’ve depended on the kindness of strangers! and been one, sometimes.

With all its contrasts and paradoxes, I’ve lived and felt the city in my veins.

Brands to use Internet?

Had been toying with this idea of generating ideas for brands about what they could really use the internet for. Though I’m more of an advocate of conversations really ‘using’ internet for what it can do, rather than ideas using internet as yet another broadcast mechanism, alongside TV, Radio et al. As I see it, internet should fit in to the larger scheme of things rather than be a standalone thing, with little connection with what”s going on TV and print.

That, can only happen with the internet becoming a part of the proposals of mainstream agencies for their campaigns. It can’t be a silo of activity handled by a small team outside the main agency – unless they can actually establish a seamless way of communicating and integrating the whole thing together.

As I see it, ideas can be generated rather fast, if you get around to thinking, but it takes a lot more than a head to really put the idea into execution.

It would be just so exciting if I could be in a position to execute all these ideas, or at least discuss them with the powers that be, rather than just sit by myself and make mental pictures!

Coming to think of it, why don’t brands crowdsource ideas for their own marketing! There’s a whole lot out here, including me, who’d only be too happy to see a validation of their idea – by way of acceptance and execution – and not want to really charge money for it!

Shall give a platform for people to apply their creativity and brand loyalty to create something unique!

Interesting. So lets run a competition across b schools to create an ad campaign / plan for a few brands, and put the whole thing together online.

Now this kind of a thing would not be considered a part of internet strategy, but could lead to the most meaningful content being generated on the internet for the brand.

My stream of consciousness, generates ideas! And I can be a lil immodest that, amidst the crap, you’ll find at least some of them worthwhile!

Anyway. I still don’t follow the rules of blogging, I don’t do trackbacks, I read others, but dont’ often comment, or link to them. So I have no right to expect any one else to be reading this blog, or commenting here! But if you did chance upon it some how, might as well let me know you were here, so I’ll at least look you up!

Just realizing that I need to be terse and to the point when making these entries, so the reader doesn’t bored!

If nothing else, the blog will also carry the evolution of me as a blogger! I don’t know how long this streaming of consciousness would last though!

Wisdom Tooth Hurts…

It’s weird, I’d initiated this post last year and I dont’ remember the context! The title sure seems interesting enough for me to rethink and start a journey through my years of having gained wisdom and how I don’t like it so much!

These might sound like rants of the angst, but well, first hand learning!

People are weird – they don’t always say the truth, they dont’ always mean what they say, and they dont’ always say what’s on their mind.

Personally and professionally, this has been the most appalling thing I’ve come across. To believe in people, only to be let down and be disappointed.

Then I wonder if it’s too naive to continue to trust people, or should I become wise – once bitten, twice shy!

The quotes that are treated as lessons, aren’t just ‘quotes’, my favorite one, in this regard now, is ” Trust only those who stand to lose as much as you do, when things go wrong

I’ve wanted to stay the Anne Frank way, to continue to believe people are really good at heart and not judge them

The other thing, is the realization of the impossible – the rise of practicality, with a dash of cynicism.

Whenever I’ve been told about something can’t be done, I’ve been obsessed with walking around the whole thing, to find a logical, reasonable solution to show HOW it can be done.

To reach dead ends, hits you hard. To realize that the obstacles standing in front of you are too big to really cross over, move around and/or penetrate through.

The first time you accept something as impossible, or not worth the effort, the first time you let go of something is when the maturation process starts!

And then when you see expensive mistakes, that you can’t undo. Just like a hand of poker, where you see in the final round, after raising the stakes rather high, that you can’t possibly win. The moment you realize that, the wise thing to do, is to fold. It’s not easy. It takes wisdom! And to get this wisdom, you need to lose a few hands.

I wasn’t born a pro!

Tagore, surely didn’t mean this when he said, “Perpetual giving up is the only truth of life”

So what are the times YOU’ve turned wiser, with a bad experience?