Category Archives: Life

Waking up to death

5.15 AM: I get a call from one of my best friend. “He’s dead” is all he says before he burst out crying.

All I could manage to respond was “Shit” and then heard him cry for the next 2 minutes.

My friends’ childhood friend and current roommate was no more. All he lived was 28 years!

So what happened? Did he meet an accident? Not sure. Was he suffering from some disease? Nobody knows. But wait a minute, does that matter now? Whatever be the cause, its immaterial now.

So if it doesn’t matter then why am I writing? I don’t know. Maybe I got moved? But then I barely knew this person. 4-5 meetings during some group celebrations should not move me, no?

But there is something in my mind ever since I returned home after seeing his body being sent to his family (from the hospital to his hometown). That ‘something’ which rose from the statement my friend made, “he wanted to live, he really wanted”. I was wondering, ‘why?’

No, I have no clue about how his life was. But there must be ‘something’ which is why he wanted to live.

I woke up to his death. He left and the question is remains unanswered – why? What if you woke up to death tomorrow morning – To your own death! ‘Why do you want to live?’ Ask yourself….

Do you feel this for your job?

Off and on I have come across various people in life who’ve told me (or someone known) that they don’t want to do the same things everyday at office. Okay, fair thing to say. We all want variety in our life, don’t we? But the question is how do you define variety?
Let me share a couple of real life stories.

Story 1: Life of a lift-man: My office is in a building which has 12 floors. This building has 2 lifts in working condition. Unlike modern day offices, these lifts are operated by lift-mans who press floor keys what people ask them to. They do this in and out the entire day. One day my colleague had a small conversation with one of them:

Colleague: “don’t you get bored doing the same thing for 12 hours a day every single day?”
Lift man: “I have been doing this for the past 20 years”
Colleague: how can you do the same thing for tt-twenty years?
Lift man: Why can’t I? Sachin Tendulkar has been playing cricket for more than 20 years, has he got bored?
Colleague: *astonished* *a minute’s silence*
Lift man: One single day if I am not there, there’s complete chaos in the building and the lift is in complete mess!

I was really happy to hear this conversation, primarily for 2 reasons.

  1. He took so much pride in his job that he compared himself to someone like Sachin Tendulkar!
  2. Even though you might think that its a simple job and anyone can do it, he doesn’t think so. In fact he displays his importance in a manner that one is bound to agree how important his job for the organisation (he works with) and that he is a valuable asset

Simple question, Do you feel this for your job?

Story 2: Life of a soldier: A few days back i was in Kashmir and trekked to a mountain top at an  height from where I could see the last Indian army post, a few metres ahead, Pakistan border started. I met an Indian Army soldier there. I got into a conversation with him.

Me: sir do you have to stand here the entire day? What about night and what is the temperature like?
Soldier: Yes. During night its pretty cold, 6-7 degree celsius and so we take some shelter but still do our duty.
Me: what about in winters?
Soldier: its about -35 degrees!
Me: so then you would be leaving this post that time?
Soldier: ? Why? Its our job (and duty) to stay here. And we do it!
Me: but isn’t it obvious that nobody would at that hour?
Soldier: that doesn’t matter and we don’t think that. We do what we do.

After a few minutes a few more trekkers came along and started asking the soldier whether they’ve seen militants? How do they respond? Where’s the border? Etc. After some more time, a few more people came and asked the same questions about militants etc. in a short while I noticed that the soldier was being pestered with the same set of questions and each time he was responding with full enthusiasm. I realized, apart from doing the same boring job all day, just staring at the fields and mountains, he has another boring job, answering the same questions every single day!

While most people (including myself) get frustrated answering the same questions again and again, this brave army man did it with the same enthusiasm each and every single day of his life. All this while wearing a 9.5KG heavy jacket and holding a 3.5KG gun all the time!

Forget the physical labour, can you even think of how much pride this gentleman has for his job? The amount of enthusiasm he carries to work EVERY SINGLE DAY in his life?

I repeat my question, Do you feel this for your job?

Conversation with a stream of water

My no work/ no gadget trip gave me quite a few experiences. Here’s one:

We were on our way back when we noticed a strong stream of rapid flowing water. As we all sat there I sat alone and kept staring at the water until I noticed i was talking to the water and water was reciprocating. Let me share a small snippet from our conversation.

Image: Conversation with Water

Conversation with Water: Image shot in Sonamarg, Jammu & Kashmir

Me: Dude, what makes you go so fast, it seems you are always in a hurry?
Water: Yes, i am in a hurry. I have to serve millions and millions of humans and there is not enough time. So i’d rather hurry.

Me: You are hitting so many rocks every now and then, doesn’t that deter your confidence? Or slow you down maybe?
Water: Nah! Didn’t you notice, for every rock there’s an alternate path originating somewhere next to it?
Me: <goes in deep thought>

Me: What keeps you going? I mean you could just be calm and enjoy nature, no?
Water: I could but that’s not why God created me. Like all you humans, even I am here with a purpose. Until I fulfil that purpose, i will keep on moving.

Me: That all is fine, what do YOU as an individual achieve in fulfilling that purpose?
Water: I get SATISFACTION. Satisfaction of quenching someone’s thirst, someone gets fresh energy by splashing me on their face, someone feels relaxed by drowning their feet in this stream, someone some mother will cook food for her children when i reach their place, hence satisfying their hunger. Similarly there are a lot of reasons which give me a sense of satisfaction. I feel happy when i see all this. All this give me satisfaction and that’s my achievement.

Me: So in the end its about your happiness, isn’t it?
Water: As long as my happiness is a consequence of people being happy, yes, you can say that!

Flat, marriage and family – 3 reasons why young Indians don’t turn entrepreneurs!

If you are from India, have been a part of a regular middle class family and have even thought of starting something of your own, am sure you’d associate with the headline itself! Everything that I’ve mentioned below is based on true incidents. I don’t intend to hurt anyone here, still if you did, sorry about it! Getting to the point, straightaway!

Marriage:

About an year back one of my very close friends told me about a product idea. I liked the idea and told him I could work with him on that if he’s willing to seriously build it. His answer was – “yaar abhi job nahi chhod sakta, 6 mahine mein shaadi hai” [Dude, I can’t quit job right now, getting married in 6 months]. Okay, get married but why do you want give up on an idea you believe in? Your girl will understand, won’t she?

Guess what? Obviously, he never build it and few months back I saw someone (very famous in the startup community) roll exactly that product out and is quite close to getting funded too! Yeah, my friend’s “happily married”, barely at 27!

Update [Oct 19, 2013]: This guy who went ahead and is building this product recently got funded $150,000 and got featured on Techcrunch too!

I know an entrepreneur who literally fights (or used to at some point) with his wife everyday just because she wants another kid and he doesn’t. His company has just come out of startup mode and is heading towards being an SME. “I have a 4 yr old kid and having another one now would take me 4 years back! I have been slowly planning the financials but this would mean I start planning all over again, save even more and take even fewer risks!” is what he said!

Indian entrepreneurs' struggle

Indian entrepreneurs’ struggle

One of my ex girlfriend had started talking about marriage barely when we had graduated. I never denied marrying her but I used to tell her lets first achieve something, I want to do a few things in life, be a successful entrepreneur and all this might take a little time, there’s no point in getting married quickly and then allocating funds to expenses that could have been avoided at that age, but no, she wouldn’t listen! Of course, she’s happily married and I, having failed 2 startups in the past, am still building another startup! (I hope this post reaches you, lady!)

Oh! And that concept of getting your kids married at the right age => guys before 30 and gals by 26-27 max! I’ve always stressed, there’s nothing called such as a “right age” – why not just get married when you are ready – 25 or 32 – how does it matter? I hope you’re not thinking about that old shit about retiring and then marrying your kids before that <- That actually is the root problem!

Family:
Sorry to say, but the uncles and the aunts in our (normal middle class) families are the worst. They will keep asking your salary, some of them every single f***ing month. These relatives are probably the ones whose kids would have done “nothing” in their lives, graduated from some (worthless) A league institution in India and landed a fat paying job. And believe me these are absolutely good for nothing folks. If you are a startup guy, you already know that, don’t you 😉 They would join a company through campus placement and would be too scared/complacent/useless that they would spend their entire life within that single organization – without even doing something innovative! These uncles would be happy to show the entire family that the ad in TOI today was done by their kid while all that ad would have is a bollywood diva holding a soap bar in her hand. THATS IT!?! That’s all you learnt in your fancy B School?

What’s the big deal in it? If I pay TOI that much, they will even publish a horse shit pic, they just want money! But no, these are the ones who are valued in your family! Whatever they say are Golden Diamond words. What’s worse is you are always compared to these dumb folks whenever you go to a family gathering. And most, all of them would look at you as if you are the piece of shit lying on the roadside.

To share another case, one such highly respected family member told me to look for a career in animation, back in 2007-08. Recently, I met him at another family gathering a few months back and he said “tum animation me kuch kyu nahi try karte?” [Why don’t you try something in animation?] I was like…dude? You are still the same! Your thoughts are still stuck where they were 4-5 years back! By the way, this member is probably the highest respected person in my family and heads delivery at a multi billion (yes Billion) dollar enterprise and travels abroad every week. Yeah, (sadly) that’s what puts the stamp on his authority! Am quite sure even Steve Jobs or Bill Gates would have spent more time with their families at his age (and still earned much more if that’s what you want to hear).

More problems we face with family/neighbours in this book.

Flat:

The other fantasy about middle class family people is owning a flat! I never get this point. I, really don’t! Why do they want your kid to buy a flat and then spend the rest of his life paying back the loan? Coming from middle class, we’ve never had loads of money to spend. So the way out always is to pay probably a 10th or even less initially and then take a loan for 60% for the next 15-20 years.

And is duly supported by our Financial system! Go and try to raise money for your startup and the same money for a home, you’ll know what I mean!

Once you have a loan on your head, that too a home loan, for not less than 40-50 Lacs, am sure you wouldn’t be willing to take a risk, would you? And that tension of repaying that loan! Anyways, there is very little probability that our kids would stay in that house for long. They’d go places, do stuff in life and make it big themselves! Actually this would connect with Rahul Dewan’s post where he talks how retired people should recede back to smaller towns and do great things. A brilliant thought by the way, go read that!

In another relationship, I told my girl that I don’t earn great right now and that I am trying to build a company and shared the vision. At first she appreciated my honesty but then within a few weeks she asked “Abhinav, hum ghar kab lenge?” [Abhinav, when will we buy a home?] That day itself I knew – she wasn’t the one! No wonder that relationship didn’t last long.(I am quite sure you’re reading this!)

I guess I’ve written, read ranted, too much already or else I won’t be allowed to enter my hometown the next time!

Update: I realized most people, even though agreed to this, say its inconclusive. I must add this: The point is that people who can bear all these pressures and can still build a company, are the ones whom we call SUCCESSFUL!

Update2: Somebody got so inspired that he made a short movie out of this. I got to know from the comments section.

Hi Abhinav

I was inspired by your blog to write and direct a short movie on the topic. It’s now released on YouTube. Thanks for watching and hope you like it!

Here it is:

Update 4 [Oct 23, 2013]: This article has led me to an interview in the prestigious The Week magazine. [Looks like they pulled down the online version of the article, was in their Sept issue]

Update 5: [Apr 19, 2014]: A small section of people thought this blog is sexist, my sincere apologies to you if you think so. However I do not agree with that point and here’s my reply to it: The Flat-Family-Marriage blog raises societal issues and is NOT sexist: Here’s Why

[Update 6: The most important one] The article was published on Feb 13, 2013. On Nov 26, 2014 I got married and I am still an entrepreneur. Maybe a year later I would write how it has been 🙂

Fear of the police: this is how they treat the innocent

A few months ago I got mugged and went through a bad experience with the Gurgaon Police. Looking at the way the Delhi police behaved today with the protesters, I was forced to think about the way I was treated.

The incident happened on April 12 and is documented on by my friend who was with me then.

I often document my life using Ohlife. Here are some snippets from what I wrote during those days:

April 14, 2012
Saturday

Went to the Police Station with Ankur again today. Ankur has some good contacts, he took some names and the police changed their tone as soon as that happened. Sad to see the state of affairs at Police Stations. They threaten the victim, really badly. Even though Ankur was talking to them, my legs were shaking. Yes, of course I was not at fault but the way they were talking……
They asked me to prove that I was being assaulted
They asked to tell them who the assaulters were? Yeah, as if i knew who they were. I’ve never heard a more dumb question in the recent times!
No wonder we’ve lost faith in the Police of our country and the whole system in fact

April 15, 2012
Sunday

Went to the police station again with Ankur today. While one constable agreed to note down the application, when we went to a room to get it noted, another one sleeping woke up and behaved in a miserable manner.
He snatched the paper and said no complaint would be noted. Started shouting and asking stupid questions. He said: ‘naam batao jisne ye kiya?‘ Obviously i didn’t know the names: “Agar tum jaaante hi nahi kisne kiya to hum kahan se dhund k laenge” – which to me was the most stupid statement a policeman can make! “Uth yahan se aur bahar nikal“. Yes, the way he spoke, meri literally fat gayi. Thanks to Ankur, who just kept sitting, i got enough strength, even i stayed put in my chair. Finally after a lot of his shouting Ankur also said that ‘aapko complain note karna padega nahi to hum dharna denge‘. This put the nail in the coffin and he just shouted for us to leave. He even said “jo karna hai karle, nahi likhenge complain”. Ankur started to argue but i pulled him out.

Then he called up someone and finally someone spoke to the head constable (Manoj Kumar). Sad to see how people change after they hear a few big names. Its not about VIPs being important, its because how these assholes govt employees change – that the VIPs have become VIPs.

Finally an application was noted but no receiving was given. I don’t have a proof that i’ve submitted the application. Yes, i’d be happy to get my phone back, obviously, but i still i don’t have enough faith in the Indian police. Lets see. Faith and hope are mismatching here!

April 17,2012
Tuesday

Another unproductive day in terms of work. Dont know whats happening… there’s no concentration. The focus seems to have been lost somewhere.

In the meantime one of my friend tried to find a way out to get the police file a report:

So I did what she said.

Notice the mail date and the date below, when some action was taken.

April 30, 2012
Monday

Got a call from the police station and was asked to come down. On reaching there:
Constable: Aap yahan kisko jaante hain?
Me: [puzzled] ?? Kisi ko nahi, matlab??
Constable: Nahi kisi ko to jaante hi hain, matlab minister/MLA wagarah ko?
Me: Nahi to.
Constable: To DCP wagarah kisi ko?
Me: Nahi, but hua kya?

Was surprised to find out that they had a copy of the mail that I wrote to the DCP and Commissioner of Gurgaon Police. And since it had to come with all signs/stamps and probably with a “daant” from their DCP, they wanted to take action on it.
Well, that’s the good part, the sad part is that they said I could do 2 things:
(a) Either be stiff and ask them to act on the complaint. Go the formal way, lodge an FIR and ask them to act on it
(b) Or be friends with them, ‘bhaichara’ in their language. Which meant they’d be helpful and work in an informal way
Obviously, they wanted my support and not complain against them. Not sure if I did the right thing but that’s what i felt at that moment. Yes, my heart ruled over my brain and I saved their ass!

Today (Dec 23, 2012): This is something that I regret now! I wish I would have complained against them. No, I did not know any media personality who could help me then. I got in touch with some Star News guy 3 days later but all he said was “ab to 3 din ho gye hain, matter purana ho gya so kuch nahi ho sakta” – yeah! While I was still in trauma, for the 24×7 media guys it was too old a matter!

This is what I wrote on the day of the incident: Gurgaon women: don’t step out after 8 but what about men – don’t step out after 7

Thanks Raj sir, may your soul rest in peace

Got the shocking news of Raj ‘OldMonk’ Mathur passing away couple of nights back. Was speechless when I first heard it. The news first reached twitter and then I went to check whether it was actually true. Couldn’t believe my eyes. What’s worse is it actually took me a few seconds to believe it was him when I saw his body at his funeral.

The next few hours I just spent time looking for his mails, digging out my old blogs, where i’d talked about him and reading them. In the process, I came across some pics too which made me nostalgic. Even though I never really got close to him, I was always trying to learn from him from a distance. His to the point conversations. His brutally honest statements. His humour. His love for food and booze. The amount of passion that he had for his work. Rarely would you find such people.

Thanks to @gmishra for introducing me to him as what followed after my first meeting with him and the Open Source world has governed a lot of my mind and life, till date. Yes, despite not being a coder anymore, I still use a Linux machine and go about promoting the FOSS philosophy wherever I go and will always do. Incidentally, it was @gmishra himself who broke the sad news to me!

Thanks Raj sir, may your soul rest in peace.


Freed.in pic. Snap taken by his best buddy Kishore Bhargava


What India thinks about the Guwahati molestation episode!

That’s how Police in our country behaves…always!

No wonder what happens, its the Govt. that gets blamed, rightly so!

Something that all of us have believed in now (and its not just women)

Media can bring down governments, only if we had better journos though 🙁

Sad state of our country!

Not sure, cynics? Or maybe they are right?

Of course, some people will always believe its those fake film stars who can solve all our problems!

The difference between the Facebook and the Twitter junta:

Yeah, someone needs to defend the media too!

Update: The verdict was delivered a few days back: Amar Jyoti Kalita, 10 others convicted; TV reporter acquitted

Delhi-NCR: The 'tharak' capital of the world

Yes, you read that headline right. I wrote Tharak!

Incident 1: [Gurgaon] Its around 3 in the afternoon, I was walking towards the metro station, barely 2 mins from my office. 2 girls were walking ahead of me. I saw a bike coming, 2 guys, no helmets and just when they crossed those girls, one of them shouted – “arre idhar aaja meri jaan!” (come to me my darling).

Incident 2: [Delhi] It was 8.30 PM. I was with a female friend of mine, waiting for an auto. I see a Maruti 800 coming our way. 2 guys seated in the front, I didn’t notice the rear seats. As soon as they crossed us, one of them, shouted “abe yahan kyu khada hai, ghar leke jaa na!” (why are you standing here, take her to your home)

My friend tells me the security guard at her apartment stands in her way everyday while getting into the building, leaves barely any space for her to get in. You obviously know what he’s trying to do. Just to remind you – he’s the SECURITY GUARD!

If you are thinking these are frivolous incidents just for a minute imagine what would these girls be going through in their daily lives? No, you can’t imagine. Nobody can, Nitin and I tried once but failed.

Dhruv Arora has started a great campaign against such people. Great campaign Dhruv but honestly, I believe that such campaigns reach only the people who are not the ones whom I mentioned above! I hope it solves some purpose.

No, I don’t know what the solution is, maybe capital punishment!

Ever since I’ve moved to NCR from Bangalore, if I’ve read/heard numerous such cases. (No, I am not even talking about the rape cases.) I suddenly feel why did I move at all? This is the NATIONAL CAPITAL REGION – within an year, I’ve found out the capital of what!

In case you’re unaware, these are the things to do in Delhi. (Keep clicking on that text)

Btw, this is what pushed me to write this post.

How much is enough?

Yesterday I went to the Delhi Blogathon, a bloggers meet. Apart from the other interesting stuff and people, there was this really interesting gentleman who could mimic accents of various countries. He’s even played a tiny role in the Bollywood movie Band Baaja Baraat.

Post the event, I got a chance to converse with him. When we discussed about his livelihood, he said he used to be a teacher till sometime back but then he quit in his early 40’s. He does shows at events for a living. He even makes sure returns home by 5 (mostly) and cooks dinner, as he loves to cook. He mentioned that his wife also works and normally comes back around 6. We happened to ask him whether he’s able to manage with just doing shows? Is that enough?To this he answered that they manage to sustain their lifestyle fairly comfortably. Yes, he has kids too.

He then mentioned about a friend of his.

This guy goes to work at 8 in the morning, comes back around 8-9 and then goes to play badminton. His friends wife leaves for office around 9 and comes back only around dinner time. They have dinner and then they sleep. In the midst of all this they have a 16 year old daughter……

After saying this he looked into our eyes and said:

You decide how much is enough?!?

Update: Uncle Andy pointed out some corrections in the comments about his work: i do not do shows..i do voice overs and some acting…and my wife gets home at 730/8…delhi traffic!.

Gurgaon women: don't step out after 8 but what about men – don't step out after 7

I dont know where to start from. I dont know what to complain about

  • About the local Gurgaon crowd being inexplicable stupid? Mind you, the locals, read uneducated.
  • About my physique not being great? I cannot fight these tall healthy guys!
  • About me taking that shortcut route to home, which by the way every other ‘ordinary’ person takes?
  • or About Gurgaon Police – who tell me if I got assaulted and robbed of a Rs.32,000 phone – it is my fault that i carry an expensive phone? ‘Victim Blaming’ is quite a known feature of Gurgaon Police!

Yes, today while returning from office with my friend, we got assaulted, injured and robbed of my phone and whatever money my friend had. Thanks to some gutsy behavior in the later stages, we saved our laptops, our credit cards, my watch, some more cash and most importantly – our Lives!

And all this happened when the sun had barely set – around 7-7.30 PM! I got the message, Welcome to Gurgaon. 5 men surrounded us at a somewhat lonely patch of the road we take to home everyday and within few minutes we were running to save our lives! Probably the scariest incident of my life where for 5-10 mins i actually remained NUMB

By the way, a small question for Gurgaon Police – if women should not step out after 8 PM, should men stay inside after 7 PM?