On some night before leaving for Thailand last week, Rati and I went for a long drive for the first time in our lives. We were tense and a little jumpy but it was still fun. We stopped for some coffee at a petrol station and one of the IMBB readers even walked up to us to say hello. Rati told her shyly that I was driving for the first time. I am in my thirties right now. I hadn’t touched a car before. Until that night.
A small town boy believes in a lot of horseshit. Fed to him by his friends, elders, and general hogwash mongers. One of the mumbo jumbo that I believed in, and got into deeply, was palmistry and astrology. My maternal home is still full of countless palmistry books that I had bought and devoured. Chiero, Comte C. De Saint-Germain, Narayan Dutt Shrimali,… you name it and I had read it. Life line, heart line, sun line, health line, crosses, triangles, squares, mount of Jupiter, Luna, Mercury, … blah blah and blah. I found it very logical and very intriguing. I had this craze for years. Had a few successes also; for example, when I came to IIT Delhi later, I saw my senior’s hand and told him in a trice that one of his parents was no more. He was so astounded (he had lost his father in his childhood) that he forgot about ragging me and sat down to show me his palm. Oh well. Every shotgun scores once in a while. But I believed in palmistry then. And very strongly also. And like every trainee palmist, the first palm that I examined was mine. And I could see that I had an accident written over there. And because of that prediction of accident I delved deeper in palmistry to learn about it more. Not surprisingly, I slowly found a few like-minded astrologers and palmists who also made their own predictions. Ever given your date of birth, time of birth, place of birth to someone who would solemnly do some mental calculation and then rattle out predictions? I can’t even count how many times I did that. Not surprisingly, I would run into this ‘accident’ thing time and again. After all, these guys were doing the same study as I was. One of the older ones even told me that I would havw an automobile accident and I should not buy cars of such and such color. Oh well, the belief and knowledge turned into an arrow that pierced deep and turned into an ice cold splinter of fear. For years, I did not buy a car or even learnt driving. Until now. One day I just cleaned up the old attic of my heart and stepped out into the sunshine. ‘Let’s go for a drive’- I told my wife. If I was going to die, I was going to die. That was that. But I wasn’t going to be scared and die every day. We have been regularly going on long drives in the night since then. It’s our favorite time together in the whole day. 🙂
I did not become courageous overnight. Courage is like a muscle in your arms. It grows by practising every day. And like many types of muscles in your arms, there are many types of courage. You may be courageous in some areas and not-so-courageous in others. You got to strengthen every weak muscle one by one. But every type of courage contains one common element- risk. I had a lot of practice for taking risks as an entrepreneur. I have talked about some of the risks we took in TathaGat HERE. Let me fast forward from there. In early 2009, when IMBB was 2- 3 months old, I decided to work with Rati on IMBB. It was clear to us that we needed more writers on IMBB. We were doing well because of TathaGat at that time. It was a time when a typical upwardly mobile family buys a house, invests in mutual funds and insurance plans, and saves for rainy days. But I told Rati that if we bring in other writers and pay them we should forget about buying a house, or a car, or any investment/ savings that we were thinking about. My wife had as big an appetite for risks as I did. She let go all these dreams in order to build IMBB. We put all our money in IMBB. Every penny that we had. And in return IMBB gave us a family. It gave us friends. It gave us admirers. It gave us a strong community that is thriving and growing. And we kept on building. We still do not have a house or a savings plan. Every extra penny that we earn from IMBB goes back into IMBB. Our writers today enjoy better and more expensive products than Rati did four years ago. And we can feel their excitement and happiness in their emails and their posts. This makes us awesomely happy too. And happiness, my friends, is the flip side of fear on the coin of life.
So living happily ever after? Not yet. In December, 2012, I woke up in cold sweat at night. I was terribly scared. IMBB was going well. TathaGat was doing awesome. So what was wrong. For an Indian guy in his thirties I had done quite well. But had I? All my life I had but one dream- to travel and see the world. I have never been charmed by cars, or houses, or great wealth. A coffee and a novel is still the biggest luxury for me in life. But one thing I have always wanted in my bones was to travel. See places, hear different sounds, see the streets full of people of different nations, roam through bazaars, see the sun, the snow, the mountains, and the glaciers, fly, swim, sail, walk, ride, do horse riding, see cockfights, misty mornings, rainy drizzle, well lit showrooms, have dinners on sidewalks, admire skylines and confusing alleys, airports, train stations, sand and beaches. Oh I had dreamed of travel off an on. And what had happened? I had got so busy fulfilling my responsibilities, so entrenched in earning money, that my dream had got lost somewhere. And I was scared like shit that night. I felt my life was passing by year after year and my dream was slipping away slowly. Soon we would have to plan a baby and then there would be another responsibility to take away my time. And then I would die like this and my life would be gone and wasted. The end. I saw this happening in a lot of people around me. It did not hit me like that until then.
The next day Rati and I had a talk. Her dream was to be fit, do makeup and fashion, and travel. Mine was to travel and learn languages (I can still speak a little Italian and have cleared three levels of German, and a level of French). I told Rati to fulfill her dream. She is younger to me and I didn’t want her to wake up one night and feel that she hadn’t lived her life. And I would fulfill my dream too. We would again be penniless but oh well, I had been penniless before also. It did not scare me. And fortunately I am also blessed with a partner who is completely in sync with me. Rati threw herself into fashion (I am sure you all have seen her dream bags and shoes and dresses) and we started to travel. We were scared at first. To those who have sat in front of their laptops for the most part of their lives, venturing out into unknown places and meet strangers does not come easy. It is scary. The mind plays tricks and you think about a thousand things that can go wrong. But we kept traveling. From one place to another. And slowly it has become an addiction. Sometimes, Rati and I flip through posts of our travels on Faux Pas and relive our fond memories. And this year we have some exciting trips lined up. We are on a roller coaster ride that is not stopping. And all of you are going to be a part of it. 🙂
And yes, it’s risky living like this. But you know what I always say?
It’s better to live your life than live in regret for not having lived it at all.
And I’m not gonna be afraid because I am Jaguar Paw and this is my forest…