Returning the blog to blogging
I am officially ending 2022 in my life.
It was one of those years which one would wish to forget, but can't. My father's illness and death dominted the year, but also my work project which took shape. But even on that front, it was a series of misjudgements that I would remember, rather than anything that I achieved. As I approach 2023, I seek to correct, recover and rebuild.
One of the key things that I wish to change is how I blogged. This blog is an important part of my life and yet, I neglected it through the year. Part of the reason was extensive travelling, but also that I was all over the place. Emotionally I was at my lowest: I became dissatisfied with where my life was going, saw no point in my work and mis-prioritised. I was over-optimistic and aimed for implausible things. And, as I learnt my lessons along the way, my intellectual project dissipatated: I had almost nothing to write about.
This is what I seek to correct and return this blog to being a blog. A log of thinking, reading and new friendships is what I want this space to be. One novel thing I did in 2022 is that I lived more openly and honestly: This is one thing I don't want to change. In fact, I wish to do more of this! I know the dangers of openness: My openness was misunderstood and became completely counter-productive. But the lesson I take from it is not to curtail openness, but to engage with different sets of people who have more prepared minds. In fact, that would be my key goal now: To become less apologetic about my intellectual ambitions and surround myself with people who share similar ambitions and objectives in life. And, to that enterprise, I want to dedicate this blog.
In the past, I have used this blog to write technical stuff, with the intention of projecting my expertise. It did work and I did get good opportunities and work through that medium. But I am aiming to do this now on more business-like platforms, such as LinkedIn or through books and magazine articles, which I have now started working on. Therefore, this blog can now be less like my portfolio and more like my diary, a chronicle of my attempts to change myself.
And, the reason why I wish to do that is two-fold: First, because I really want to change and I believe that will make an interesting story; and second, because at the core of my enterprise is a search for partners and collaborators, and I believe that telling my own story honestly and openly would allow me to connect with those people out there. I have always searched for such partners, and failed several times, but I think this is because I was looking for them too eagerly. I would often see potential in people and impose my own ideas on them, only to be hugely disappointed when they failed to live up to what I thought of them. Living through a full cycle, I have understood that the mistake was really mine: I have to find a more patient method of finding such collaborators, rather than trying to seek them out. I want this blog to become that platform of connection.
Therefore, I hope to post more often and write more about books, ideas and people. I would travel a lot in 2023, so I guess this would mean writing about places too. And, invariably, this would be about dilemmas, which dominate my life all the time. My current list of dilemmas are long and varied, and this could be a good starting point for restarting this blog:
- Should I adopt a more 'executive' outlook, given that I am now leading an Edtech start-up which has just received an investment, or should I continue in a 'creator' mode, which gave me more pleasure?
- Should I start my PhD, which I have been contemplating for so long and putting off every year? There is obvious merit for doing it, given that I am in Higher Ed, but also the challenges are daunting, given the paucity of time and travel commitments.
- How would I balance my commitment to the current project, which is a funded start-up which needs to 'scale' to provide returns to its investors, with what I really want to do, create a small and value-driven education community around the 'world's friendliest college'?
- Where should I live? I feel so connected in London, with all my networks and opportunities it brings, but also so out of place in its overtly commercial environment. I am so tempted to find a quieter and more soulful environment and about to rekindle my dreams of living in Valencia, but keep postponing it for practical considerations.
- What should be my approach to Kolkata and India? I feel increasingly disconnected, particularly after my father's death, but at the same time, I consider myself Indian and think of Kolkata as home. Unlike some of my friends, my outlook for India is neither disinterested (I do want to work in India) nor bleak (I believe India holds the key to global future), and my best friends are all Indian (naturally). And, yet, I don't buy the Indian exceptionalism that pervades the Indian middle class at this time and do not subscribe to the all-too-common Sinophobia and Islamophobia (and hatred towards Pakistan) of my friends.
- How would I balance the freedom that my creative enterprise needs with the responsibility, towards my family? I don't feel bound by convention - never did - and yet I have lived a rather conventional life, until recently. The keyword for me was responsibility, something I learnt from my mother perhaps and would not want to abandon that path, but at the same time, I do feel that a conventional life is too constraining and I have a responsibility to achieve my own creative potential.
- Should I continue to read, think and write in a serendipitous manner, as I have done so far, or give my intellectual project a focus and commit myself to being a professional historian (and do the PhD)? I alternate between the two, often committing to extensive reading list and then losing focus the next day. So I have these great collections, only 1% of which I have read. Therefore, even when I think of starting, I am forever thinking - is it history of philosophy that I should start with? Or British history? Or AI and future of work? Or Jose Luis Borges? This is perhaps many dilemmas within a dilemma, but a central one in my existence.
And indeed many more. Fittingly, I am watching Walter Mitty - exactly as I daydream all the time! I get the central message - look closer! - after all, I abandoned my familiar and comfortable life inspired by one book, Paulo Cohelo's The Alchemist (all these years later, I think it was just an average book!) which had the same message. Just that one doesn't know where to look without making all these crazy journeys first! I am still going through it.
So, signing off, but if you cared to read, I promise you more of these stream of consciousness stuff! I know it's boring, too personal! I shall, therefore, not share the link on Facebook or LinkedIn, as I used to do, and check back often on how many people read it. That's the only way I can keep it honest. That's the only way I want to live now, honestly, and see where that gets me in the end.