Sunday, August 16, 2009

Diary: My Plans

I have been writing this blog for three years running now, and it has been extremely useful to me personally. Unlike some of the other bloggers, I did not start with a purpose. I did not have a product or service to sell. Instead, I used this blog as a scrapbook of ideas, partly to keep a tab on myself so that I can look at my years in 'exile' later on and reflect back on these days. Also, I intended to use this blog as 'morning pages', following Julia Margaret Cameron's advise to practise writing everyday so that I can learn to overcome the writers' block. But, as I started writing, I achieved something else which I did not anticipate - I started building friendships. Friendships with people I know and did not know, but a continuous friendship without the barrier of spatial limitations. It did not matter how far or near I stayed, but we kept in touch, with people managing to visit these pages once in a while and leaving comments, either here or by email, and turning this whole exercise in a long, never ending conversation.

This is what sustained my blog writing enthusiasm. One can notice I am all over the place - I write about politics, business, economics, Indian affairs, ideas, technology - and one can simply see this to be a pointless exercise because I had no 'theme'. But, then, I had one - a conversation - which I conducted with my friends, many nameless, who agreed some times and disagreed most other times.

And, also, I wrote about my own life. Yes, in a very impersonal way, mostly talking about work while keeping inside the legal requirements of non-disclosure and non-defamation, but I still talked about what is in my mind and what I am planning to do next. At times, this was awkward, especially when someone will read a message which I did not mean or try to turn my general observations into specific. But still it made sense, to be clear, at least in the sense of airing the confusion that is in my mind and getting people to weigh in with advise and comments.

So, I kept a diary, mostly public but sometimes in the form of private postings. I kept writing about my life, plans and work. As usual, those diaries were full of an emotional, idealistic tone, which meant that they are straight from the heart, because that's the kind of a person I am - a dreamer, idealistic, emotional. However, I also understood one limitation about writing about what's on my mind, as writing has an inherent sense of permanence, but the mind, in its ordinary state, should be agile and flexible. So, yes, reading on, it does seem that I am terribly inconsistent, indecisive life. On my defence, I may say that I live a 'learning' life, open, flexible, questioning and progressive. And, these blog posts are neither an autobiography, which presents facts long after the time and with a perspective, nor a manifesto, which is temporal but presented with a purpose. They are what they are - blog posts - temporal statements about a thought or a state of life, and should be treated as such. So, if you are like me and see the life as a set of interconnected but independent moments, and do not wish to reduce this to some kind of boring rationality, you will get the sense. This blog is more like a sequence of discreet snaps rather than an attempt to weave different frames in a movie.

Like this one, where I started without an end in mind, and just discovered this similarity between photography, my other love, and blog writing. Both has some kind of presentational obligations, but is a reflection of the raw truth in that frame. Besides, the blog posts are as temporal, and built around a very personal, which can be commuted for a rather universal, perspective. This definitely keeps a record, but to look for a consistency of opinion over a three year period where life was full of defining moments, a sequence of fast changing circumstances and unpredictable people is equivalent to a moronic existence which I long left behind.

But, anyway, coming to the point, I have a new plan. As always, not a final one, but some sort of a guidance for the coming weeks. I am always grappling with the question when to return to India, but in the middle of this recession, suddenly the question what I shall do there has become more important. I am quite averse to taking a job there, at least in the private sector. So that leaves with the options of starting a business or being self-employed, both of which will require me to stay abroad for a period of time, either to build up capital base or to build skills and portfolio. I am more set on being self-employed, as a business in Kolkata, where I shall be if I return to India, will be a difficult thing to start under current circumstances.

So, decision one - I shall be abroad and travelling for, at least, next three to five years, with the goal of building a capital base for business, or skills and portfolio base for a self-employed career, or both. During this time, I shall reconstruct my life in India, not just by sorting out where I am going to stay, but also what I am going to do and how I shall start. I have made a few false starts recently, ending up dealing with complete charlatans which I had to exit in a hurry. I don't want to make similar mistakes any more, and this time, I shall be far more circumspect and slow in moving forward.

I have said before that I wish to exit the current employment in August. That's only a few weeks away. To be absolutely sure, I have not moved from that position yet, though it seems my goal of leaving this at a steady state - sort of cruise control - will make me wait out a few more months. We are possibly moving towards a sensible business model now, with some positive changes around the corner, and I am hopeful that I shall get things sorted out in a matter of weeks. Once that is done, I am ready to move. I have started looking out for opportunities which are closer to my heart. I am also setting myself up to write a book, about the business opportunity in India and ways to tap the market, by the end of this year. This will connect directly to my experience and the disappointments I had in trying to bridge the gap in understanding and planning for the Indian market. I am taking this up as a project, side by side with my dissertation and reading on world cultures.

So, my plans for sabbatical shelved now, and I shall return to that thought later in 2010, if appropriate. But I am now focused on moving forward, finishing my tasks at hand and focusing on things which will help me augment my skills, build valuable experience and build a portfolio of work.

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