We exist independent of others, but we also exist in the memories of others.

When the neurons fire up and thoughts of me appear in the brains of you, I am momentarily alive and present, wherever I may physically be, even it be six feet under.

I would hope those thoughts are warm and cuddly, otherwise my existence in your head would be a futile one. 

In Johny Thunder’s album, “So Alone” there’s a sad song titled, “You Can’t Put Your Arms Around a Memory” — but I think you can.

Lives are brief, but memories are longer. When I’m dead, no “goodbyes” please; just good memories.

Brexit Rom Com

If Britain and Europe were a rom-com movie couple, Europe would be Harry and Britain would be Sally.
They squabble and they fight and they make up and they make out. They need each other, but they can't stand each other. Harry wants to settle down, but Sally wants to play the field. In the end, Sally will become old and decrepit, ridden with STD's, knock on Harry's door and beg to be taken back. Harry will look her up and down, disgusted by what he sees, shut the door and live happily ever after.
Please buy my book: A Hollywood Reporter's Guide to Understanding World Events.

Learned optimism

We humans are a gloomy bunch, even when things are improving. This is because our feelings are not data-driven, but memory-driven. We rely on how easy it is to recall an example, and bad things are more memorable, because we have evolved to be cognizant of risks and dangers. 

Moreover, bad things get reported and crowd our newsfeeds. Car crashes are reported; cars reaching their destinations safely, are not.

This means that for many of us, being optimistic requires conscious effort. 

I spent much of my youth as a depressive. I had good reason to be such. I did not stop being a depressive because my luck changed, but rather, my luck changed when I stopped being depressed. I made a conscious decision to cheer the fuck up. It was an unrelated quote from Winston Churchill that stirred me to action: "Since wars begin in the minds of men, it is in the minds of men that the defenses for peace must be constructed." I decided I would change my life by changing my mind.

I began by learning the hardest math of all: the math of counting my blessings. I got better with practice.

I have to work hard to remain optimistic, because I’m a natural brooder, prone to ruminating on the meaninglessness of life.

I‘m fortunate to be around people who have had very hard lives and yet have remained optimistic and are quick to delight. I‘ve watched and learned from them and so my optimism is a learned, and practiced optimism.

While some people are naturally happy, others need to make an effort. So work at it, and have a Happy (or even Happier) New Year.

Gaurang Thakkar 

December, 2018


In the breeding season, large lizards known as “Tookay” (because of the mating sound they make) puncture the evenings with their incessant calls. The more times a lizard calls, the more likely it is to attract a mate. Thais believe that if you hear the sound “tookay” repeated seven times (a rare occurrence),  it will bering you luck. 

The other day, I suffered a major incident. I got a paper cut on my pinky and was bleeding all over my silk bathrobe. I dialed for an ambulance, but the people at the other end just laughed when I told them my predicament.

I scrambled to locate my first aid box, found it, frantically pried it open and inside was a gecko and some ants. I grabbed the gecko, squeezing its tummy, causing its long tongue to shoot out, licking my wound. Miraculously, my wound healed instantly.

Over the next several days, my physiology changed, I could climb walls--buildings even, craved insects and could bring the ladies to ecstasy with my long tongue.

Wa wasn't impressed. All she wanted was for me to say "tookay" seven times, after which she rushed off to buy a lottery, leaving me, mateless.

Merry Christmas

A lesser known Bible trivia is that when Joseph discovered that his soon to be wife, Mary, was pregnant, he decided to keep quiet about this premarital pregnancy to preserve decorum, and his reputation. He planned to quietly separate from Mary later. An angel addresses Joseph’s anxiety about his reputation: “Do not be afraid to take Mary home as your wife because what is conceived in her is from The Holy Spirit. She will give birth to a son and you are to give him the name ‘Jesus’ because he will save people from their sins.”

The angel is asking Joseph to take his eyes off himself and to focus instead on the child being carried by Mary. Instead of attempting to save himself, the angel points to Christ as The Savior. And this may be the key to breaking from our distress of worrying what others think of us—we should rather think about something other then ourselves.

Author C.S. Lewis described how he struggled to find happiness and how he came to believe in that babe born on that first Christmas. The secret, he says, is not to spend time promoting oneself. Instead, we should seek humility. “Humility,” says Lewis, “is not thinking *less* of yourself, but thinking *of* yourself, less.”

Joseph almost made a catastrophic error by focusing too much on himself, his own reputation. The angel reminded him to look beyond himself, because salvation came not from within, but from without. 

And THAT is the Good News of Christmas—the Good News is to be found in the joy we can bring to others.

Merry Christmas.

Dec., 2018.

You look like a Trillion dollars, to me.

In August, 2018 Apple became the first ever Trillion Dollar Company.

My mom, even in her late seventies, insisted on being independent, living alone in her Mumbai apartment, making her own tea, cooking her own food, shopping for her own groceries. She would occasionally chat with her neighbors, who were kind and always, they assured us, at her service if she ever needed anything, and would check up on her regularly. She’d visit nearby relatives and stay for days. They’d visit her.

In her eighties, she began to weaken, couldn’t leave the house as much. The neighbors shopped for her. We hired a maid to cook for her. She complained about the food, we changed maids—again and again, but it was never *just right* 

As she became more isolated, we worried more than usual. But she was still happy to be independent. I got her an iPad. At first it was just for FaceTime. She loved it and we talked often. Then on her next annual visit to us in Thailand, I set it up so that she had only a few icons to worry about. I showed her music, and YouTube and how to search for her favorite shows and old Bollywood movies. I installed Hindi and Gujarati keyboards. She mastered what she needed to and she was delighted.

She’s 88 now and lives with us here in Thailand, too frail to be independent. She had to be persuaded, but she’s settled in now and happy. I learned to cook so I could make the foods she likes. Even better, Wa makes soups that she loves; it’s easier for her than chewing. But mostly she’s happy because I’m close by and because she has her iPad, and most of our relatives in India have iPads and she can FaceTime them anytime she wants. When they have family get togethers, she joins in via FaceTime. And she can listen to religious hymns and sing along, and watch old Bollywood films she’d heard about in her youth but couldn’t afford to watch.

She cannot imagine her life without her iPad. To me and to her, that’s a trillion dollar gift, from Apple, to us.