Book Release

So my book Between the buyer and the seller is now available on Amazon, in both print and kindle versions. You can go here to buy. Thanks to Amazon’s print on demand service, it’s available worldwide.

It’s been a long time coming. I completed the first draft way back in April 2016. Writing it was no easy task, but was definitely helped by the presence of one awesome coffee shop close to where I was staying in Barcelona.

Having written one draft, I went around finding publishers. It wasn’t a trivial process. In the process, I found out enough about the publishing industry to get a new prologue for the book (I guess that should be part of the Kindle sample).

And then in the course of the backs and forths with the publishers I found a lot of what I’d written to be absolute shit, and so revised the book two times. Then in December last year, the Takshashila Institution decided to publish it.

And then they sent it to some experts for expert opinion. Said opinion came back positive but with some suggestions. So I revised the book yet another time and implemented these suggestions. Then there was the copy editing process and yet another revision. Then the book design (if not anything, doesn’t it at least look good?) and typesetting and stuff. And formatting.

In the meantime, Shashi Tharoor and Bibek Debroy wrote some nice blurbs for the book – they’re printed at the back of the book now. And then some more hoops and procedures and printing and publishing and fighting with Amazon and the book is now out! For you to purchase.

I want to put out a special word of thanks to Anupam Manur, who has effectively “produced” the book, managing the entire process on Takshashila’s behalf. He’s been patient with my periodic abuses, and diligently got work done. The night before his wedding, he was up fixing some stuff on Amazon for the book.

Anyway, enough of my story. Now go buy the book and read it. Let me, and others, know what you think of the book. And spread the word!

Oh, and I want to thank all of you, my patient blog readers, for the encouragement through the last 13 years. It’s your collective effort and support that has made me a better writer, and resulted in this book coming out!

 

Selling yourself for job and consulting

So for the first time in over eight years, I’m looking for a job. This was primarily prompted by my move to London earlier this year – a consulting business where you rely on networks rather than a global brand to get new business cannot be easily transplanted. Moreover, as I’d written a year back, a lot of the objectives of the “portfolio life” have been achieved, so I’m willing to let go of the optionality.

While writing a “Cover Letter” for a job application yesterday I realised what makes selling yourself for a job so much harder than selling yourself for a consulting assignment – in the former case, you need to also communicate a “larger purpose”.

For the last 5-6 years I’ve been mostly selling myself for consulting assignments, and while it hasn’t been easy, all I’ve needed to do to sell has been to convince the potential client that I’ll do a good job solving whatever problem they have, and that my fees is a worthy investment for them. And to some extent I’ve become better over the years making such arguments.

When you’re applying for a job, you not only have to convince the counterparty that you’ll be good at whatever you need to do, and that you are worth the salary that you are asking for, but also need to argue how the job will “improve your life”. You need to explain to them why the job fits in to the list of stuff you’ve already done in your life. You need to talk about where you see yourself 5/10/50 years from now. You need to actually express interest in the job, and irrespective of how mundane the job description, you need to act like it’s the most exciting job ever.

And this is a part I haven’t been good at, basically since I haven’t done any of it for a long time now. And in any case, this is a part of the cover letter that people routinely bluff about, so I don’t know if recruiters even take this part seriously. In any case, I’ve been filling most of my cover letters so far with explanations of how I’ll do an awesome job of the job, and keeping only a cursory line or two about “how the job will improve my life”!

13/13: kONamari

A popular story that Pinky tells people is about how I “maintained” our house while she was away doing her MBA. She talks about how I used to tell her that I had maintained the house “as it was”, and my “as it was” meant that I even left the dust where it was.

When Pinky returned for her term break, she was mostly horrified by what she saw, with the wardrobes full of dust, and parts of the house that can’t easily be seen hardly be clean. The house was anything but “Pinky clean” she said, and then spent a day or two bringing it back to the state where she had left it.

Since childhood, Pinky has had an obsession with tidying things up. She says she frequently threw her sister out of their shared room because the latter wouldn’t maintain the room to Pinky’s satisfaction. Pinky also got into trouble with her parents for throwing away stuff that wasn’t being used in one of her tidying attempts.

It wasn’t long before she brought this tidying obsession to our house. I remember this time when I’d returned from an outstation trip, and Pinky was so horrified to see the state of my house (this was before she had moved in) that she spent an entire Saturday cleaning it, only to be saddled with a bad cold at the end of it since the house had been so dirty.

If you’d seen my house any time during 2010, when I was living alone, and then again sometime in 2011, you would have noticed a massive difference. Of course we’d got lots of better furniture after we got married (that deserves a post of its own), but the importance difference was how tidy the house was now.

Everything had its own place now. The kitchen was logically organised. Wardrobes would be cleaned every couple of months after “inventory checks”, where clothes that weren’t being used would get discarded. You wouldn’t find anything lying around the house.

It wasn’t long before Pinky’s penchant for tidying got to me as well, and (I thought) I got obsessed with tidying as well. I started going mental every time I saw things not in their place, or lying around, and would tidy up stuff before I got to any work of my own. I stopped throwing things around in random places. I started making an effort to at least maintain the house the way Pinky had left it, though that turned out to be grossly inadequate when she was gone for a long period of time.

Sometime last year I’d gifted her a copy of Marie Kondo’s Spark Joy. The book was supposed to be revolutionary in terms of its prescriptions on tidying up houses. Pinky glanced through it once, and dismissed it all as “obvious stuff”. She obviously knows her tidying!

PS: The title is a pun on Marie Kondo’s technique, which is known as “konmari” and the Kannada word for a baby he-buffalo, which is normally used as an abuse towards children.

1/13: Leaving home

2/13: Motherhood statements

3/13: Stockings

4/13: HM

5/13: Cookers

6/13: Fashion

7/13: Dashing

8/13: Dabba

9/13: UnPC

10/13: Pep

11/13: Support

12/13: Family

12/13: Family

As I got to know Pinky, one thing I was surprised with was how much of a family person she was. From the little I knew her I expected her to be of the rebellious sort, but she harboured no such thoughts, and was (and is) really close to her family.

She’s a massively home person, likes to spend her weekends lazing at home, eating traditional South Indian food and watching TV. She had once told me (long before we met) that her dream Sunday consisted of watching a Kannada movie on TV while sitting with her mother-in-law tying flowers into a garland.

That, of course, would never come to be, as a month after I met her, my mother passed away. My mother never met Pinky, though I’d told her about Pinky just before she was going in to what was to be her final surgery. So it goes.

Over the course of time, Pinky has gotten really close with a large number of my relatives. While I’m slack at keeping in touch with them, and almost never call, she makes sure to call a couple of my aunts and one cousin every week, and compels me to call them as well. She makes sure that I go to all family gatherings, and also keep in touch with parts of my extended family I don’t normally keep in touch with.

Her connection with my extended family has grown to such an extent that several of my relatives have made her the main contact person in our family, while strictly speaking I’m related to them by one lesser degree (to use one of Pinky’s crazy phrases, she’s our family’s “responsible PIC”).

Last January was my grandfather’s 100th death anniversary, and it was Pinky’s idea that we organise a celebration on that account. The event was a massive success and everyone who attended (basically the remaining descendants of my grandfather’s parents) loved the idea of having this kind of a memorial. And after the event was over, it was Pinky who wrote the match report.

That is just one example of how Pinky has kept in touch with my side of the family, and makes sure that I keep in touch as well. If she were yet another rebellious types, I’m not sure how much contact I would’ve continued to keep with my family. and for this, I need to thank her immensely!

1/13: Leaving home

2/13: Motherhood statements

3/13: Stockings

4/13: HM

5/13: Cookers

6/13: Fashion

7/13: Dashing

8/13: Dabba

9/13: UnPC

10/13: Pep

11/13: Support

11/13: Support

Careful readers of this blog might remember that things weren’t going very well for me on the health front at the beginning of the decade. Increasing stress from a job that was in hindsight not all that stressful led me to seek help, and I’d gotten diagnosed with anxiety and depression. Soon a diagnosis for ADHD followed. This was immediately after I’d quit my (supposedly stressful) job and was trying to establish myself as a consultant.

As I’ve documented on this blog earlier, I came through this difficult phase of life fairly successfully. I managed to use the medication I was on as some kind of a “stimulus“, and then built upon my later success to pull myself out. I also made necessary changes to my lifestyle and working style to take advantage of my brain being supposedly wired differently.

What I’d failed to mention in that post about coming out of depression was the role that Pinky had played in helping me back then. The biggest impact on her was in terms of my erratic behaviour. The medication I was taking, while helping me get out of depression, was also altering my mood in ways I hadn’t imagined, and she increasingly became the target of a lot of my outbursts.

Moreover, she was also really young at the time, and having yet to see the quarter life crisis, found it hard to empathise with what I was going through. She started with the reaction that most relatives of people with mental health issues start off with – denial followed by accusation that I was using it as an excuse. It’s to her extreme credit that she soon came to understanding things from my perspective, and appreciating what she was going through.

After that, she was a constant pillar of support for me as I battled my depression and ADHD. She helped me talk over any fears I had (it turned out I had a lot of them, mostly irrational). She was nice to me when I wasn’t being nice to her. She put up with my outbursts and fights. She forgave my once frequent transgressions, and took my side in fights where she could’ve easily turned against me.

She even regularly accompanied me to the psychiatrist which was never a particularly pleasant experience for her, and stood by me as I made fairly important decisions about life and mind-altering substances. And finally, when in January 2013, I decided to get off the medication, she made sure she was accommodative in case my old behaviours took off again.

I’m still not “perfectly okay”, and possibly will never be. And there are transgressions and bad behaviour on my part from time to time. Pinky, while not condoning such behaviour, has remained patient with me, and constantly helped me improve myself. She has stayed positive through the process, and made extreme efforts to make sure that our relationship remains intact.

And for all this, I can never thank her enough. If I were the religious sort, I would’ve said that I could never thank her enough either in this life, or in our next seven lives!

1/13: Leaving home

2/13: Motherhood statements

3/13: Stockings

4/13: HM

5/13: Cookers

6/13: Fashion

7/13: Dashing

8/13: Dabba

9/13: UnPC

10/13: Pep

10/13: Pep

It was sometime in 2011 that we’d gone for a family function where Pinky had worn my mother’s jewellery. An uncle instantly recognised it commented that she’s wearing “old models”, and asking why I hadn’t gotten her any jewellery of her own.

Pinky had stayed quiet then, but about a year later when I was trying to build my own consulting practice (and living off the savings from the job I’d recently quit), demanded that I buy her a diamond necklace. Not really knowing what it might cost, I instantly agreed. It was after I had taken her to the shop and she liked something that I realised it was going to exhaust all my savings.

I had to redouble my business development efforts, and about a month after that got my first big consulting contract. Pinky later told me that the reason she had made me “invest” (whether buying jewellery is an investment or an expense is something we disagree on) then was to shake me off my comfort zone and get me out there to do real business.

Pinky has her own way of inspiring me to do more, and to do well in whatever job that I do. When I was on outstation consulting assignments, which meant leaving home at 4:30am to catch a flight, she would wake up an hour earlier to make sure I had hot water to shower in. As I got ready, she would get me coffee and even polish my shoes!

When I was writing the first draft of my book last year, which was a damn difficult process, she made sure we celebrated every little milestone. When I finished the very first draft she took me out for a fancy dinner to our favourite Japanese restaurant in Barcelona. This way, she made sure I remained motivated as I took the not-so-easy task of preparing the first draft.

She’s also not hesitated to use the stick. Every time during my consulting life when she’s felt I’m not doing enough work, she’s made sure to throw sufficient tantrums to make sure I don’t slack off. Each time she’s done that, I’ve found myself pursuing leads with renewed vigour, and managing to win some business or the other.

Pinky has also turned out to be a reliable career mentor. When I decided last month that I should look for full time roles as well, she helped me figure out how to go about the process (it was 8 years since I’d last applied for a full time job). She’s repeatedly sat down with me to review my business plans, and to guide me regarding the best course of action. When there have been consulting or job or partnering offers I’ve been unsure of, she’s dissected the problem in a way for the solution to become apparent to me.

There’s little more I could have asked for from a wife in terms of motivation!

1/13: Leaving home

2/13: Motherhood statements

3/13: Stockings

4/13: HM

5/13: Cookers

6/13: Fashion

7/13: Dashing

8/13: Dabba

9/13: UnPC

9/13: UnPC

I have often cribbed on my blog in recent times that there is too much outrage out there, and there is too heightened a sense of political correctness nowadays. If you were to say something even remotely politically incorrect, the social media hordes will be upon you. This has implications in terms of public policy, in that a lot of people don’t say what they’re going to do, and they act (in terms of voting for Trump, for example) the whole world is surprised.

Anyway, leaving the larger world aside, I sometimes delight in the fact that Pinky and I first made our connection in the realms of political incorrectness. She has told me that when she first stumbled upon this blog (its predecessor, rather) in 2006, there were two posts that she liked.

The first one was a two-liner. I’m reproducing it in its entirety here.

noticed a funny thing at the loo in office today. a number of people tie their janavaaras (sacred thread) around their ears while peeing or crapping!!

The second was about what one looked for in a wife. It has all the ingredients to raise the heckles of politically correct social media hecklers nowadays.

It was a year and a half later that we reconnected (we’d initially connected after I’d written the above two posts). This time, a challenge that Pinky set me resulted in me reaching her blog. This is the post that I landed up at. Again has all the ingredients of generating outrage. Also check the comment that I’ve left there (that was my way of telling Pinky I’d “won” a challenge she’d set for me).

Anyway, a decade has gone by and we’re both older and wiser, so we wouldn’t talk about outright politically incorrect things. Yet, given the way we started off, I guess the sense we got is that nothing is taboo between us, and we can talk about just about anything. And that’s an awesome feeling to have because there is now no reason for us to hide anything from each other.

One thing marriage does to you is that you become each other’s closest confidantes. So if there is something that you think you cannot talk to your partner about, then it automatically means that you either keep that thing to yourself or look elsewhere to talk about it. Either way, it is a problem, and in attempts to cover up, the part of your lives that you don’t share with each other simply grows.

If nothing is taboo, on the other hand, it means that you can talk your way out of every disagreement, discuss about everything, and basically find a graceful solution to any fights. And life this way is so much better than a situation where you have to constantly be wary of offending the person you are closest to!

So in this sense again, I’m damn happy to have found Pinky, whom I can tell just about anything to. She might get occasionally pissed off (in case I’m cribbing about her, or someone else close to her), but we always end up having a conversation. And that makes both of us feel better, and each time we have this kind of a conversation, we come a little bit closer!

One downside of this approach, of course, is that if there are times when I put NED to some conversation, she thinks I’m being evasive, and the fact that I’m not being open ends up bringing friction! But then we know very well how to gracefully resolve fights!

1/13: Leaving home

2/13: Motherhood statements

3/13: Stockings

4/13: HM

5/13: Cookers

6/13: Fashion

7/13: Dashing

8/13: Dabba