Chicken Lollipops

My friend told me a story around a year and a half ago. I knew right then that it would make a good blog post. I never tried writing it until now but luckily I think I still remember most of it in vivid detail. We were two engineering graduates sitting in a cheap bar in Lokhandwala talking about what our lives had become after working for six to eight months. It was past 11pm on either a Wednesday or Thursday night but we had jobs that began in the afternoon and went on till 9-10pm. Spending the whole of five days a week only in an office and at home is hard, especially when you’re used college life where you have everything after 6pm to yourself even if you attend as much as you’re supposed to. This, of course, excludes the two to three months a year when we would finish all the work we had to do for the entire year and study for exams. It was around this time that I came to the conclusion that I should do something fun (fun being a minimum of meeting friends for drinks) every Tuesday or Wednesday night in order to survive corporate life without slipping into depression.

While we were sipping Old Monk and Thums Up, he told me his story which went like this (I may have forgotten some of the details and made up random ones but oh, well, there’s only one person in the world who’ll know.):-

Dude! I have to tell you what happened at work today. First, let me tell you about my team. Okay, so we’re all major foodies. We love food. If you look at them, you won’t find that hard to believe. There’s a trend that’s been observed amongst us, which is that we gain ten kgs in every two years that we work here. And it’s true, I’m getting there myself. So since we all love food so much and since it’s one of the things we all have in common to talk about, it makes up a very large part of our everyday conversation. Everyday before we head to the canteen for dinner, one of us will go scout the food counter and come back to report to the rest of us about the day’s food. If it’s good then we’ll all get excited about it.

Another thing about the canteen food is the chicken lollipops. My canteen always has chicken lolipops. These lollipops are legendary and we only have them on special days when we really feel like we need or deserve them. It’s almost a daily ritual where one of us will go and check out the lollipop tray before dinner and comment how good they look. He’ll say “Aaj khana hai kya?” (Should we eat them today) and another one of us will usually reply saying “Nahi, aaj nahi. Kal khaate hain.” (No, not today. Let’s eat them tomorrow.) As I said, we eat them only on days where we feel we really need or deserve them. If we have them too often then they’ll lose their charm and then it won’t feel as good on the days that we eat them.

There’s more to these lollipops. It’s believed throughout my office that if you eat too many, your stomach is going to be fucked the next day. This belief is so strong that it’s actually an acceptable excuse for missing work to say that you ate too many lollipops the previous day. They’ll just call and say “Sorry yaar. I’m not feeling well. Kal bahut lollipops khaye the.” (I ate too many lollipops yesterday.) I’ve used this excuse twice myself. So today, we go about this same ritual before dinner. My friend goes up to the lollipop tray and I follow him. He says, “Lollipops bahut achhe dikh rahe hain. Aaj khaana hai kya?” I look over his shoulder and agree that the lollipops look delicious. I’m just about to tell him that we should save them for a better day when we see one big cockroach followed by two little cockroaches walk across the tray. That was it. We both made disgusted faces, said “Oh, shit!” and walked away to get our food. That one moment when those cockroaches walked across the tray destroyed the grand illusion that we had built around those lollipops over the months. We can never contemplate getting chicken lollipops with our dinner again.

Blogging Frequency ∝ 1/(Social Interactions)

The frequency with which I update the blog is inversely proportional to the amount I talk to real people. I guess I have a need to express myself every now and then and when there are no people to talk to, it all comes out here. I really do want to blog more and I’m willing to go to the extent of going out and meeting people less often in order to make that happen. There’s also the fact that I’ve not been able to finish work as quickly as I should be because I just don’t work enough hours a week, but that can be tackled in other ways. Restricting social activities to the weekends ought to build up enough expressive-frustration to make me blog more often. Does that sound like a plan?

It’s worth noting that in my last post I was trying to find ways to meet more new people. I guess there’s a time and a phase for everything. Too much of anything is a bad thing right?


It’s been way too long since I last wrote something here. In my defense, being unemployed while trying to be self employed and trying to feel productive and trying to avoid feeling like I’m wrecking my future is all very difficult. I guess my blog posts are going to start sounding like Kerplunkle ‘s now. I’m finally free now and I can do what I want, when I want. All those plans of making a new blog on a personal website and making a detailed plan and then using the new blog to track the detailed plan kinda got put on hold for now. I did make a plan though. It’s spread over two spreadsheets and has my long term goals and the guidelines for achieving them and all the things I could possibly work on and what good they would be and short term goals for all the things that I choose to work on and tasks that I need to finish and everything. I had made this plan on the 25th of May and I’m supposed to review it on the 25th of June. I decided to work on three things for this month, the Online T-shirt store a.k.a Redwolf, a freelancing website development project for the PCR lab at Kasturba hospital, and writing. I’m not going to go into details with what I was supposed to do in a month, but I can say that stuff on the Redwolf front isn’t going badly. I was supposed to finish making the PCR lab website by now but the woman who I was supposed to make it for has been out of the country so far and so I’ve barely begun working on it. Writing is only marginally better. I was supposed to finish writing a short story or a chapter of something, or a single substantial unit of anything but I’ve only written three and a half pages if I remember correctly. Now it’s not bad, and it can be counted as a unit but it’s only three and a half pages and it lacks any direction so I really can’t be satisfied with it. That’s it with the things that are supposed to be measured.

The story with the things that aren’t supposed to be measured is far better. I’ve made myself a routine where I wake up at 9am mostly everyday, and work in two shifts, one before lunch and one after, till about 6pm. I give myself weekends off, at least Sundays. Now you may wonder why I don’t want a regular job when I work exactly the same way on my own. It feels infinitely better to be able to write when I feel like writing and work on Apache servers and SQL databases when I feel like working with Apache servers and SQL databases. You see, writing does count as work since it’s one of the three things I’m working on this month. Also, I don’t have to work in an office with annoying people and artificial lighting and air conditioning everyday. I can work at home, and when I’m bored of working at home I can find someone else who’s equally unemployed and go work wherever they are. I also don’t have to wear full pants. This is very important, in principle. I haven’t worn full pants since my last day at work. I’ve been running or doing some form of physical exercise at least four days a week and that’s definitely something to feel good about. I have been meeting a lot of new people who are doing a lot of interesting things. Actually this meeting new people thing is a recent development which begins with a story of how I met a girl I found cute but never really spoke to which I would tell you about but it really doesn’t make an interesting story. What I realised after that incident was that I’m really bad at meeting and talking to new people. This is despite the fact that I like meeting new people most of the time. I know a lot of people who really like doing something and do it a lot but still remain bad at it but I never thought I was one of them. Then I decided that I should make a conscious effort to talk to new people and so I should try to talk to 7 new people every week out of which at least two should be female. This has been easier than it sounds. I’m allowed to meet people whom I either haven’t spoken to in years or people who I’ve met before but never really spoken to. It’s surprising how many people are doing interesting things around me and how many of them I could be interested in working with. To think, I may never have found out. This went well in almost all cases except this one guy I met in Lokhandwala who I spoke to in quite a bit of detail about what he’s doing but I never asked his name or how I know him until it was too late. After a point it would just have been awkward to ask. He looked familiar and recognised me and knew my name so I’m sure I know him from somewhere. I just hope he doesn’t find his way to this blog post.

And that’s what I’ve been up to since I was here last. It’s not lot but I think it’s enough for a start. I’d tell you more but it’s late and I’m sleepy. In case you read this before I re-read and edit it tomorrow morning and find a lot of mistakes then just correct them in your head.


We love measuring things in numbers, it makes things more tangible. So here’s a list of numbers to quantify my life for the past one year since it’s been almost exactly a year that I’ve been working.

  • 1,50,000 – My current bank balance.
  • 4 – Songs I’ve made that are worth singing again. (+1 with the band)
  • 14 – Blog posts. Way above my annual average of around 2.
  • 6 – Trips out of the city. 2 were to Lonavala so they don’t really count.
  • 1744 Hours (~73 Days) – Time spent in office.
  • 564 Hours (23.5 Days) – Time spent traveling between Lokhandwala and Thane.
  • 4 – Books read.
  • 10 – Liters of hard alcohol consumed. (estimated)
  • 10091 – The mileage on the car bought last June, to which I must have contributed about half.
  • 365 – Times I’ve spoken about quitting my job. (estimated)
  • 2 – Times I almost quit my job. (That’s twice that I actually walked into my boss’s boss’s office thinking I would)
  • 0 – Pieces of fiction written.
  • 0 – Computer games finished.
  • 450 – Cups of coffee consumed.

From 2011 onwards, I want to pretend like we’re all really going to die in 2012.

How I didn’t do any work at work today

I love the internet. I spent an entire day at work today not doing work. (To be completely honest, I haven’t done any significant work since last Tuesday). I write this blog post now, from office. I’ve been sitting at my desk all day (except when I went down to eat, when I went down to play carrom and when I went out to stare at the evening sky, which cumulatively wasn’t more than 2 hours) but I feel like I’ve been all over the place. My mind hasn’t been in this office at all. And the best part of it all is that at the end of it I feel like I’ve put my time to better use that I do at the end of an average working day.

So here’s what I learnt today:-

  • There was an auto rikshaw and taxi strike today. I actually knew about this yesterday because I heard my rikshaw-wallah talking to another rikshaw-wallah about it but I found out today that a lot of people had to change multiple crowded buses and walk for up to half an hour to get to work. This did not affect me at all because I was in Thane all day and there’s no strike here, but I know about it, thanks to the internet, social networking and micro-blogging.
  • IOS4, which is Apple’s new OS for its mobile devices (laptops not included) is out and will work on my 64GB iPod touch. This means I can do cool things like multitasking on it now.
  • Now this one’s interesting. This guy found a girl sitting in front of him on a flight cute and though he made eye contact with her, he couldn’t talk to her because he was with his parents. With some inspiration from his friends, he thought it would be a fun social experiment to try to track her down using twitter after he was off the flight (and it was!). What started on Sunday with people trying to look for this girl based on a description of the clothes she was wearing and her seat number on the flight (which we later found out doesn’t exist) carried on through Monday with a large number of people trying to find this girl and arguing about whether this activity is an invasion of her privacy, and ended today with two newspaper articles ( This one on page 6 of today’s Midday and this one in Headlines India ). This experiment eventually ended because of the amount of attention it was getting and this girl was not found (yet). Following this story kept me entertained for around 2 hours.
  • I found this rather interesting article about ‘The 10 most important things they didn’t teach you in school’. Try to not get distracted by the number of ads on that page. It’s actually a very well written article.
  • I found this interesting blog , which now puts the number of blogs I follow to 18.

Now that I’ve put down most of what I’ve done on the internet today it really doesn’t seem like much. That doesn’t matter much though, because this still feels more productive than an average work day. I could sit and think of more interesting things I found on the internet and list them down, but I should be leaving now because it’s almost 9 and I don’t want to sit in office for any longer than I absolutely have to. So now, I’m gonna find dinner somewhere and then try to finish reading my book (of which I have almost 200 pages left) which I may or may not tell you about depending on how I feel when I finish reading it. I’m going to miss all this idle time in office when I actually have work to do again.

Work life

I don’t normally do things I don’t want to. In fact, I try as hard as possible to not do things I don’t want to. I never really studied for exams after the point where I thought I would pass them, I never attended class if I didn’t feel like, I didn’t wear full pants when I didn’t feel like, I woke up when I felt like, and I slept when I wanted to for most of my life. All these people who tell you that you have to work hard to get what you want, and that if you torture yourself now you’ll have it easy in the end, I think they’ve all lost their minds. And I’m more sure about this now than I ever was. I’ve seen 30 year olds with bellies the size of pregnant women who sit at their desks for over 9 hours a day and live what you would all call the ideal life and I know that they haven’t known the pleasure that I would get when I made a song or wrote a short story or probably even a damn blog post for even a day in their lives.

I’m happy being happy. I believe in indulgence. And this is mostly why I know I can’t work a 9 hour a day job. No matter how good the work is, no matter what the benefits are. I can’t work in that environment, I think it’s absolutely inhibitory to any kind of productivity. Why would anyone be driven to work at a place where they care more about how much time you spend doing what you do rather than what you do? I don’t want to go to work tomorrow.  And I, being the person I know myself to be, would not go to work tomorrow. I know that even if I do go to work tomorrow, I won’t accomplish much there. There, where the clocks on the wall watch you work, with the air-conditioning and the artificial lighting and the artificial personalities and stale humour and well, I could go on.

I haven’t seen the sunset in weeks! I would understand why you wouldn’t think this is a big deal, but honestly, try it. Sunsets just have a way of making my mind work. I heard that in early Mayan civilisations they would have a particular time of day when everyone would stop whatever they were doing and watch the sun set. I don’t know how reliable this information is, but it makes sense. We tend to overlook these things living our busy lives in these big cities. I live about a kilometer from the sea and yet I hardly ever go to the beach anymore. Here, I actually found a research that links decreased exposure to sunlight with cognitive impairment among depressed individuals.

But here’s the thing, I probably will go to work tomorrow and I probably will sit there in office all day and do nothing productive. Just accept money for some time of my life. Who was the idiot who said “time is money?” He ought to be locked in solitary confinement and be paid in millions for it. And yes, I can think of buying myself a new guitar or an iTouch or a Wii, or even a fucking PS3 with a hi-def TV. If I wait a bit longer I’ll have enough to buy a car, not that I want a car, I’m just saying. I can go to Blue Frog and not be that bothered by how much they charge for entry or for alcohol inside. But I think I’m lucky enough to know that I don’t want any of that as much as I want the freedom to be able to do what I want and when I want. I wouldn’t mind having a 2GB mp3 player and traveling by buses and trains and living as stingily as I did in college.

I had decided that I would stay here until I figured stuff out and until I had enough money to do whatever else I might want to do after this. But I’ve had enough money for a while now, and I don’t know what I want to do for the rest of my life but I’m pretty sure that there’s no one thing I could do for the rest of my life. I know what I don’t want to do for the rest of my life and that, I’m sure that I’m sure about by now. (No, I didn’t type that twice by mistake, notice the comma.) So why haven’t I left yet? Well, because when I told them I wanted to leave my generous employers said that I would get to work with them in New York for two to three months in a complicated arrangement that means I have to stay with them till somewhere around November this year. And though this is a very sweet deal there’s a part of me that’s hoping that this won’t work out, hoping that all managers are indeed the rotten bastards I would like to believe they are and that they pull out of this deal at the last minute just so that I can show them the finger and go on and live the rest of my life being me.

But despite all this, I will go to work tomorrow. Do something that I wouldn’t normally do. Do something that’s not me, and watch time pass by as I grow a little more estranged from myself. I will show them the finger someday, before the end of this year, and that I’m sure of. And if you can relate to any of what I said then I suggest that one day you sit alone and watch the sun set and think about it. Because I think that watching the sunset is more important than any of this.


Currently Listening
Pronounced Leh-Nerd Skin-Nerd
By Lynyrd Skynyrd
Free Bird

Update from my life: I’m leaving for hampi on Saturday. I don’t think I’ve been on this kind of a high for as long as I’ve been working, which is wrong in so many ways that I’m not going to elaborate on it. This one week of freedom is all I get after 7 months of working. Slavery, this is. But then it isn’t really, because I can leave whenever I want. I’ll be moving to Thane the week after that, that’ll make it even harder to leave this job but at least I’ll have as much free time on my hands as I want.

So this Saturday, I’ll be going to hampi. And where I’ll go from there I don’t really know. How long I’ll be there, I don’t know. It’s this sense of freedom that I really love. It resonates within my being. If you don’t know me then I can tell you that freedom is one of my most fundamental values. I need to have a sense of absolute freedom to be truly happy. So that’s what this vacation will be about, perfect unadultrated freedom. Imprisoned within the time span of 9 days.

I will leave for Hampi this saturday and you won’t hear anything from me for a while after that. Not that you’d expect to, but if you’re lucky I’ll end up writing a bit there and then I can post it here when I get back.

“I’m as free as a bird now, and this bird you cannot change.
I’m the bird you cannot change.
And this bird you cannot change.
Lord knows I can’t change.
Lord help me I can’t change.
Lord, I can’t change.
Won’t you fly, free bird?”
*insane 4 minute solo

The pursuit of happiness

How hard do we have to try to be happy?
Do we really feel the good only in contrast to the bad?

When the days ahead look like an uphill climb, they say you need to climb as hard as you can, and then convince yourself that you can climb harder. You need to torture yourself to get to the top. You need to feel the pain. The only explanation I can understand is that we only torture ourselves for how good it feels when the torture is over.

We’re taught since we’re little, that we can get anything at the cost of unwilling effort. Homework for freedom, chores for chocolates and marks and grades for anything else on your wishlist. It’s a way of preparing children for the world they’re going to grow up in. So they’ll accept it without too much suffering.

They still say you need to work hard to get what you want, but what does ‘work’ mean? what do I want?
I’ve hardly felt better than when I’ve spent all day and then stayed up all night doing something that I love. And I don’t recall ever getting something I want by doing what everyone understands to be ‘work’. Because whenever I thought of something as work, I never did it well enough. And yet, I have as much as anyone else. I like that I can contradict them by just existing.

Everything takes time and energy. It’s just that I seem to have an endless supply of energy with some activities, while others make me want to sleep 14 hours out of 24.

Sometimes I feel like it’s a battle between me, and the way the world is. And accepting the world to be the way it is takes the most out of me. More than the fighting. I once heard the line, “We need to pretend the world is the way it should be, to show people what it can be.” And it made sense. Because very often, what feels like the easiest thing to do is to just keep fighting. Without any real hope of winning, but just fighting to preserve my identity. Fighting to exist in a world that contradicts with me.

Getting back to the question, I think we need to torture ourselves once in a while. Everytime we start to forget what the pain feels like. Maybe just so we can see the happiness when it comes, or maybe just out of boredom and curiosity. To understand ourselves, and see what we’re capable of. And in the long run, it does make us happier.