Run the day. Don’t let the day run you.

N.B. I’m currently not in the best of places mentally and find myself stuck in familiar negative (read: destructive) behavioural patterns. I’m also finding it tough to get out of this rut.

This is nothing new and I need not call an ambulance: I’ve walked this road multiple times before.

What’s different now is that for the first time (after a 6-year journey) I finally know myself.

Knowing yourself can be scary.

I know my strengths, vices, abilities, principles, and values.

Knowing yourself can be liberating.

I know who I am…but what I can do?

That remains to be seen, as always. The story’s the same; much work remains to be done.

Nothing’s changed from your Google Keep entries.

Karan, read this when all hope seems lost. And remember: he who has a why can bear any how.

The fighter’s manifesto

You have to find what’s yours in life.

Create a plan that works for you and not against you.

No matter where you are or what lies ahead, find a way to keep moving forward.

Take every step with intention, directed toward the goal.

When you get knocked down and everything feels out of your control, find a way to win the fight.

If you don’t fight for what you love, don’t cry for what you lost.

Quit the excuses. No one cares.

Run the day.

Don’t let the day run you.

Find. A. Way.

I’ve talked the talk, now I must walk the walk. 80 days until showtime.

Or, put differently – as of typing this – 6,912,000 seconds/115,200 minutes/1920 hours.

To go.

Until I step into the ring for my first public boxing match.

Incredible fights. Top night.

The school of hard knocks: admissions open

I am bonkers for doing this; boxing is brutal! But I’ve always erred on the side of cuckoo.

Then again, you only live once.

So why not do something new?

Something that expands your comfort zone.

Something you’ll cherish for the remainder of your days.

Something that will teach you more about yourself than any classroom can.

‘How much can you know about yourself if you’ve never been in a fight?’

Chuck Palahniuk, Fight Club

This is the kind of event that bonds you with people for life. Genuine human connection. Which I love.

All fighters going into Spartans White Collar 3 (taking place on 26th November 2022 – clear your schedule and mark your calendars!) will be subject to an intense training camp, which begins on the 17th of September.

It will be gruelling, but I reckon I should be able to endure what my coaches throw at me.

My tolerance for pain has substantially increased since I started boxing training.

I’d be lying if I said it made me a man overnight; it took many moons (and early mornings) for me to become stronger.

I’m not the delicate darling I used to be. And man, do I love it.

All this said, what I fear most is the mental battle that looms ahead, that I’ve already been fighting on a daily basis.

The hardest battles are indeed fought in the mind.

Although I am overly frank when I write, I cannot disclose what plagues me everyday.

Maybe another time.

But I can tell you why I got into boxing:

  1. Standing up for myself: I was recovering from long-term knee injuries, and decided to take up a sport I knew would kick my arse into shape. So far, so good; I am able to stand without pain, which is a blessing.
  2. Curiosity killed the cat, but saved Karan: I love experiencing new things. And I had no idea I’d fall in love with boxing, and the community, to such a degree. It’s been an eye-opening, and highly emotional journey so far.
  3. On board the self-improvement train: I was aware of the rigorous demands of this sport. What I didn’t know was how well it would mesh into my plans of becoming the best version of myself.

Boxing is the best thing I’ve done for my mental, physical, and spiritual health.

I am a massive advocate for it. But I know it is not for everyone.

It is, however, entertaining, which is an excellent segue into what I must do in order to participate in Spartans White Collar 3…

Sell twenty tickets OR two tables.

Here’s the deal. This is a glamorous, black-tie, ticketed event, held at the JW Marriott Marquis Dubai. Standard tickets cost 650 Dirhams per head (approx. 177 US).

The ticket covers entry, includes unlimited alcoholic drinks, and a delicious 4-course meal.

For most who partake in the quintessential ‘Dubai-lifestyle’, this deal is a no-brainer.

But here’s the million-dollar question: are you going to come and watch me on the biggest night of my life so far?

Are you going to put your money where your mouth is, and buy a ticket? This will be a brilliant night. And I am not writing this because I must sell these tickets.

If you know me even slightly, you know I always tell the truth. I need your support here.

I would love nothing more than having people I know – and care about – cheer me on as I throw a left hook; scream my name as I close the distance to my opponent with a ferocious jab; and yell in delight as the announcer declares me victorious.

Of course, that last statement is up in the air. But here’s what I know without a shadow of a doubt.

A real man sticks to his word, and puts in work – in the dark – even when nobody’s watching.

I hope to see you on 26th November. If you’d like to support me by buying a ticket, drop me a message.

6 January 2022. First day of boxing. 8 months to the day, but I’ve got miles to go before I sleep. Clicked at Spartans Boxing Club, Arjan.

15th August 2022. To be in love with the idea of being in love, and other scribbles. 10:44 PM

(This is how I journal in Google Keep. I mention the date, write a headline, opening time, do the journalling, and then sign off with closing time. I must write now – editing and structure be damned – else the duties and troubles of tomorrow will weigh me down, and I will not be able to express the way I’m feeling. I secretly hope no-one will read this blog. Because I’m feeling vulnerable. And I’m not the kind to share when I’m feeling down; I prefer to bear my burden by myself.)

God, it’s been a day. It is tough being a man. Yes, it is. Is it tough being a human; no matter whether you’re a man or woman? Also true. But it’s tougher being a man.

We’re expected to largely figure things out on our own. Make something of ourselves. Get a job. Find a mate. Start a family. Put a roof over their heads. Raise the damn family. Protect them.

And be the rock when things go south. Not The Rock. Although I’ll admit, it’d be cool being The Rock.

Man, why do I try being funny. I cringe every time I try to crack a joke in my writing.

(Note to self: do not try your hand at stand-up, no matter how tantalizing the idea of getting up on stage may seem.)

Ding-dong! My phone’s notification bell just went off. I check it, and Bumble tells me I’ve got a new bee in the hive.

She’s probably forgotten she’s matched with me before.

It’s a girl I matched with several years ago.

I think back to when we matched; we didn’t get past the messaging stage. She either ghosted me, or I deleted the app. What I do remember is I liked the way she looked, and she was an art-director.

I thought it was fitting, because I used to be a copywriter.

In conventional agencies, copywriters and art directors work together to make ads.

Naturally, I thought we’d make a baby. Or get married. At the very least.

I’m kidding. It’s not like I used any of those lines when chatting her up. I swear.

On this girl. Who I don’t like. At all.

(I actually don’t, just to clear the air. There’s another girl I like, but I’m getting ahead of myself. Read on to know more…)

I used to have an on/off relationship with this shitty dopamine-rollercoaster.

Now, I just don’t give a fuck. If I meet someone I vibe with, great. If not, also great.

I have no shortage of beautiful women in my life, and sex isn’t as appealing as it used to be.

I’ve been around the block. I had an unforgivable addiction to pleasure that I’ve finally tamed.

(This next sentence is graphic. Proceed with caution.)

I’ve had mind-blowing orgasms that have had me rolling my eyes to the back of my head, and had me exhaling in ecstasy afterwards. ‘Pure carnal pleasure’ is putting it mildly.

After that, I usually puff on a Marlboro light, and question if there’s more to life. Spoiler alert: there is.

When you’ve scaled peaks of pleasure as high as I have, you realize you must give purpose to your life.

Devote yourself to a mission. One which gives you a profound and personal sense of satisfaction.

Not happiness. Because happiness is fleeting.

Ideally, this mission should give back to your community in some form.

Happiness is overrated. Contentment? Now we’re talking.

I ask not for a lighter load, but broader shoulders.

I will not write about my troubles – because, again – I dislike being a negative Nancy.

And they seem trivial as I think about them now. Of course, they haven’t gone anywhere.

The problems are snoozing. So should I, because it’s 11:46 PM, and I’ve had a long day.

I was at a boxing class at 6:30 this AM. And another one at 6:45 this evening.

And I’ve got a Strength and Conditioning class at 5:30 PM tomorrow. It is a brutal class.

But I must put in the work. I’m fighting my first public fight in November.

Shitty photo, beautiful person. That’s my beloved boxing coach, Coach Jalal. He’s a gem. Clicked at Spartans Boxing Club, Arjan.

I keep saying this to myself, and telling the world, as if it will come to pass. And it will, subject to my boxing gym finding an opponent in my weight and experience class.

This is a White-Collar boxing event, which means the participants are white-collar professionals, with little to no experience in the ring.

The boxing gym offers free training to the fighters. In exchange, they have to sell tickets so the event is a success, and the gym makes a profit.

I initially had reservations about signing up, because the prospect of selling 20 tickets seemed more daunting than the intense training.

But after a hiatus of 3 years, I’ve reactivated my social media profiles. And I am confident in my ability to generate hype.

As I often tell myself; I am the ultimate hypebeast. I have this gift to get people behind me. Cheer me on in my endeavours.

In fact, being my biggest cheerleader has held me in good stead on my journey to be the best me I can be.

Even when no-one’s watching, so long as I’ve got my beauty sleep, I can motivate myself to finish a project, or put in the hours during training.

I haven’t started promoting my upcoming fight on the-necessary-but-evil social media platforms yet, but the few people I’ve told – even in passing – are keen to come, and support me.

I’m thankful for my circle. I’m grateful to have good people in my life. I was crying about it in my car last week on my sister’s birthday.

I wrote a few hundred words about how I felt…although I’m not sure if that blog will see the light of day.

I didn’t have the cojones to complete it, because I felt I came across too sappy.

Sappy? Ooh boy, you have no idea how sappy I can get! Screw it, let me tell you about the girl I mentioned earlier.

Love yourself boy,

or no one will.

Right. There’s this girl I like. (“Oh Sharma, not another one!” You can almost hear the collective groan of my friends as I declare my undying devotion to yet another woman.)

To be fair, I used to fall for every second girl who was reasonably attractive several years ago.

Thankfully, after my last breakup that saw me end up in the hospital – don’t ask, I let my vices get the better of me…

A sobering reminder of how I let myself go to the dogs. From one of my lowest points in 2021.

And the subsequent changes that took place, which included:

  1. 10 months of falling in love with myself;
  2. Rediscovering my self-worth;
  3. Discovering boxing;
  4. Building a life I’m proud of;
  5. Embracing my masculinity;
  6. And being wanted by women

I’ve finally developed a benchmark for what I seek in a partner. And that last point particularly earmarks how far I’ve grown since my breakup.

I never knew how much of a big deal it made to me. Wait, that’s not entirely true.

I always knew I’ve loved the attention from the fairer sex. Who doesn’t like an ego boost? Especially, as an Emirati girl told me this weekend…it’s clear as day I’m a proud Leo! And us Leos love the spotlight.

Let me take you back to 2014. I was consistently hitting the gym, and I looked hench.

I strutted into a fancy bar in Souq Al Bahar (an upmarket area next to the Burj Khalifa) to meet the boys on a Thursday night.

The second I walked in; I caught a girl who was shamelessly eye-raping me.

I had never felt more like a piece of meat in my life. And you know what?

I fucking loved it.

I knew she wanted nothing more than to go home with and ride me until the sun came up.

I didn’t give her the time of night, though. I enjoyed seeing her want me.

That was enough. Knowing I had that effect on her.

Ever since that Thursday night, I relish knowing women find me attractive.

I’m happiest if you put me on a dancefloor, which is my natural element. Add some banging house and techno to the mix…and you’ll find me snickering at the desperate attempts of women to woo me.

And me? I ruthlessly shoot down every single one of them.

”I don’t want to be your boy toy for the night, missy!”, I tell them with a cheeky grin.

Single, but not quite ready to mingle.

Although I know what I want in a partner…I’m also madly in love with being single.

It’s brilliant, being able to live life on your terms, with no one to answer to.

That said, if the right woman comes waltzing into my life, I’d love to tango with her.

It’s a funny place, this. What, you ask? The space me and this girl I like, are in.

I don’t think she likes me romantically, or views me as a prospective partner.

Me? I consider her to be my best friend. And I love her, platonically.

But…you’ll have to hold that thought. Allow me to wax lyrical for a few:

She is the most radiant woman I know. When she walks into a room, all eyes are on her.

And it’s not because of how attractive she is – on a related note – her sense of style would make Audrey Hepburn turn green with envy.

No, everyone’s eyes turn towards her because of her energy.

She’s got a bubbly, vivacious, childlike, contagious energy. I love it. I live for it.

At the same time, she carries herself with grace.

As if Cinderella herself advised her on how to be the belle of the ball.

I love her lilting voice, and her crisp North American/Indian accent.

The cherry on top of this gorgeous sundae is her impish laugh.

It rings clear in the air,

if you’d be oh-so-lucky to hear.

The way I’m writing about her, you’d think I’m madly in love. Or, I’ve gone barking mad.

Perhaps a bit of both? Bear with me, I’ll explain myself shortly.

Bottom-line: she’s a beautiful soul. I could sense she was pure the first time I met her, and I believe it was a serendipitous day we met.

I can be myself around her. And as energetic as she is, she brings an odd yet comforting sense of familiarity, and warmth when she’s around me.

It is effortless being with her. And that is rare, considering how cuckoo I can get, on occasion.

“Act normal, as that’s crazy enough.” This Dutch phrase describes me to a t.

This just can’t be summer love? L.O.V.E.

Oh JT, you beauty. If you think I’ve fallen head over heels for my best friend, think again.

I’m not 19 years old anymore. I’m a decade older. I just can’t fall in ‘love’ with someone so easily anymore.

Or demonstrate the worst kind of love: which is unrequited.

I’ll tell you what it is.

I’m in love with the idea of being in love.

I entertain the thought of having this special woman by my side. Knowing if I’ve had a tough day – much like today – I can be vulnerable just for a few moments with someone I trust, and who’s opinion I value.

And of course, enjoy the other things that lovers might take for granted: waking up by their side; cuddles; new experiences; being their rock and biggest supporter; growing as people; celebrating the good times and commiserating the bad ones.

But even if I – on the rare occasion – fantasize being with someone I may never end up with, I can’t disregard that earlier today, she shared something with me that was dear to her.

And at that moment, I wanted to be by her side. Just to put my arm around her, and ask if she was okay.

My day wasn’t the best. But I wasn’t going to tell her that.

Is this the price one must pay to be a man? To be a rock, even if you’re going through a rough time?

Or is this the truest definition of ‘love’ – even if it is completely platonic?

I have no idea. It’s late, and I must sleep.

I don’t know where this will go, and if I want it to go anywhere at all.

Maybe, just maybe, the smallest part of me wants sparks to fly.

But here’s what I know without a reasonable doubt: if a woman’s mere presence in your mind inspires you to write, even if she’s a few thousand kilometres away; you keep that woman close to your heart.

1:17 AM

”I’ve got my eyes on you. And I like what I see.”