High Rated Gabru Gonna Save You

Eight months into 2020, I’m happy to announce that I’ve already achieved my year-end goal which was ‘Eat Own Weight In Wasabi Peas’. In other achievements, I’m also learning, for the first time ever, what it’s like to live and feel truly and properly alone. And unlike my beard which now covers 300 square miles and has its own zip code, this isn’t something I can blame on the pandemic. Nope, the truth is that loneliness waltzed in through the doors a few years ago and just stuck around; a haemorrhoid of the soul.

You’re probably thinking, “Ashish, you? Lonely? How?! You’re the guy famous for yacht parties with supermodels bursting out of walls like that thing from Alien.” Actually that’s DiCaprio, but it’s a common mix-up. And yes, it is odd, because I always saw loneliness as a feeling reserved for other people, like senior citizens or Imtiaz Ali heroes looking for women to save them. But hey, like love and FIRs, loneliness happens when you least expect it.

It wasn’t always this way. Let’s flashback to a time way before Covid, when you could hug people minus the mental image of going to third base with a ventilator. I’d moved in to a new place, with a friend I’d known for years and a metabolism that was happy to finance half of Bombay’s liquor industry. But eventually my 30s heard the ruckus and called the cops on that party. Then came solo living, where I found myself walking into the jaws of an empty, silent flat every night, which was exactly what I wanted. Except when I didn’t. And both those feelings existed at the same time.

The last couple of years also became kinda work-from-home, or sometimes ‘work from cafe and pay 700 bucks for cardboard dandruff aka granola’. So I’d often go days without having spoken to anyone, except maybe my trainer. And a dude reciting numbers while you throw up a lung on the gym floor hardly counts as social interaction.

Given all this practice, at the start of the pandemic, I found myself handling the isolation aspect a little bit better than I expected. Don’t get me wrong – I still hated it. I’m not one of those internet-introverts whose entire personality is telling the world that they’re introverts. BUUUUTTT <guy tapping forehead meme.jpg> you can’t be sad about isolation if you’re busy being sad about other everyday concerns like overarching doom, the complete upheaval of life as you knew it, and that icky feeling of wet atta stuck to your fingers.

And now, after five months of not meeting people, I’m relatively okay and haven’t invented imaginary friends haha Ashish is lying this is Pramod his new close friend and also pillow.

It isn’t just me. Over the last few years, urban loneliness has been recognised as a global health issue. I know this because googling ‘urban loneliness’ is a thing you do when you’re lonely. Fun Fact: in 2018, Britain created a position called Minister of Loneliness. Yes, there’s an actual person and no, their job is not to share Artidote all day. (They share nihilistic TikToks.)

In India, like the west, loneliness has started leap-frogging age barriers and hitting young urban professionals. It’s a crippling affliction that sometimes causes them to take desperate measures, like suicide or arranged marriage.

Thankfully neither of those are on the cards for me, but even pre-Covid, I found myself entertained by completely unnecessary thoughts. For example, what if I choked to death or slipped and hit my head in the bathroom during a rained-in weekend? How long before someone found out? I’d like to think soon but that’d only happen if there were some client deliverables pending. That would be weird:

Client: Why is the content delayed? We put a date in the Excel HOW DARE YOU DISRESPECT THE DOT XLS.

Manager: Uh, Ashish died.

Client: Oh no… we’ll have to (gasp) update the promo posters.

Manager: Wtf.

Client: RIP EXCEL SHEET. GONE TOO SOON. <sobs into pivot table>

You’d think that the solution would be to surround yourself with people and yes, friends are lifesavers, but not the complete answer. For one, they do this weird thing where they exist as individuals with their own needs and desires and schedules, so they may have to pass up the glorious opportunity to babysit your lonely ass.

And secondly, even if you pack your calendar with socialising, it’s a temporary fix. You can’t use people as pacifiers forever. The trick is to be at peace by yourself, without compulsively clutching onto a deadline or a drink or a joint or a screen or six break-ups worth of ice-cream. As far as I know, the only person to have achieved this is the Buddha. It probably helped that there was no internet back then. You can’t achieve enlightenment when you’re refreshing Insta 20 times a minute just to see some asshole boomerang his drink. (It’s me, I’m that asshole.)

I’ve also realized that I’ll never get completely used to the silence that comes from living alone. It feels like your whole house is wearing noise-cancelling headphones. You need active measures to dispel it otherwise you run the risk of turning into an art-film character, communicating entirely through sighs and kurta-creases.

One pick-me-up technique is to go about your chores with loud music on, even if you don’t feel like it at the start. Trust me, by the end of it, your neighbours will hate you. I’m sure mine think that I’m a psychopath because who listens to Run The Jewels, Taylor Swift and High Rated Gabru in the same hour? But hey, they’re the ones with two ear-shattering kids they made on purpose, so who’s the real psychopath huh huh?

Although it’s no guarantee, I’m told that it gets better in the case of healthy, stable relationships. I wouldn’t know – there are thinkpieces longer than my longest relationships. Sometimes I’m reminded of this right when I wake up and see that the bedsheet on my side is wrinkled, while the other half is pristine and untouched. If you look at the bed from directly above, you can see exactly where hope ends and the Prateek Kuhad video begins.

If you’re in a similar boat and were expecting real solutions in this piece then yay, you’re already a foolish optimist and you’ll be fine. Because really, what other approach could there be except dogged optimism and all that other boring but important stuff like therapy, exercise, cutting down on social media, pushing yourself to forge real connections, cuddling with Pramod etc. I wish you luck, especially for the days where nothing works and you only want to Netflix and eat rubbish. Just avoid wasabi peas. They’re really easy to choke on.

102 thoughts on “High Rated Gabru Gonna Save You

  1. This was an ABSOLUTE wonderfully similar-to-my-life, but funnily told, with just a dash of sadness to hook you in relatable post. Well done and well written. I have not two, but three “on purpose” kids to distract me (constantly) so I think that is the only reason I have not noticed the quiet. When they go to their dads it’s DEAFENING. Well done. Made me laugh a few times. Will be sharing. 🙏💚

  2. I hear you Bro! This pretty much sums up my current situation. As the only single guy in my circle, my way of coping is to make plans with friends knowing they’ll cancel and tell myself, it’s not me. It’s them. Great stuff. Cheers!

  3. An amazing piece! Truly remarkable and very relatable! Going through the same thing and couldn’t have written it better!
    Kudos!

  4. Burst out giggling (Didn’t know that was possible) so many times. What a feel good slice of my lonely life piece!
    Oh, kudos over “communicating entirely through sighs and kurta-creases.”

    1. Ashish, why don’t you ask Pramod to introduce you to his other friends. On a serious note, wow, such a richly detailed yet highly relatable content.

  5. I am so glad you decided to start writing again. Please please be consistent this time. And you have no idea how much this means to people who read it. May be this is your super power and writing each article is saving innocent lives. Take your responsibilities seriously Bruce!!!

  6. Couldn’t help the chuckles 🙂
    Thank you for writing this and normalizing loneliness. I am sure it made a lot of us think about befriending it instead of escaping it .

  7. Hi Ashish! This was beautiful. Thank you. Your articles are as honest as it gets; embracing and accepting reality as we move forward! Hope you keep writing and we get to read a paperback someday 🙂

  8. “You can’t use people as pacifiers forever.” That’s a great line! 🙂
    Thanks for writing, very genuine, frank and relatable in parts, and always funny!
    Take care!

  9. Six months back, I would have laughed heartily on every joke in this article. Not that I am not laughing right now, but it’s that uneasy, miserable laugh that escapes your lips when you realise you are part of the joke.
    Kudos for the life saving advice about wasabi peas (and also for the small matter of penning every lonely person’s state of mind, while at it).
    Hoping to read more often from you 🙂

  10. What an amazing write-up. There were days when the busy Worli traffic would drive me mad because my apartment would almost mock it with the deafening silence. Thankyou for saying all that you did. ❤

  11. Such a comforting read! Please never ever stop musing and putting things out here! I’ll leave you with some lines from Hafez
    “I wish I could show you,
    When you are lonely or in darkness,
    That astonishing light
    Of your own being.”
    P.S. I stared at the unwrinkled side of my bed for a good 30seconds- it was brilliant how you captured that moment!

  12. Okay, so the words and all were great but please clarify this: is it just me or are these Mandela designs really talking? 😀 Thank you for the light-hearted wisdom, Mr. Shakya 🙂

  13. Can’t think of the last thing I read first thing in the morning that made my smile the way this did. It’s right up there alongside a puppy video 🙂 Please keep writing, you’re gifted.

  14. I might’ve ignored High Rated Gabru till now on Spotify like the third child of the second mother but due to this enlightening post I pledge that I’ll listen to UNESCO declared best song everyday diligently!
    Thank you for this amazing post!!

  15. I thought it would be quite fitting if – as I scroll down the email window where I read this – to find that this was published at an ungodly hour in the morning. Was not disappointed.

  16. I’m not even sitting at home since the past few months. I’ve legit been working, albeit less due to COVID but nevertheless seeing cases in my capacity as an OMF surgeon with rotations on cancer hospitals and plastic surgery. And yet, why do I relate to this? When I finally do get home – it’s just Netflix and rubbish all over again.

  17. That was phenomenal! Been a huge huge OG fan of this blog from the early days ever since I saw you live at Canvas (2012? maybe 2013) Please keep writing more!

  18. I tip my hat to you, sir! This was an awesome, realistic, and very true read.
    And yes, I am that optimist who was looking for an answer 🤭
    #KeepPenningThoughts

  19. Hey you started writing again. It’s been so long, feels like meeting an old friend. This made my day 🙂 Bahut mast likhta hai tu !!!

  20. These words are feelings maybe everyone has experienced but never been able to put forward in this way. You are commendable Ashish ❤️

  21. So, I’ve been unemployed for 8 months now. And I live alone in a really tiny studio apartment in France. Its been so hard, I dont even know when I can see my family again or come back home. I cannot express how much I relate to this! It did make laugh out loud a lot 😛

  22. Hi Ashish, I’ve been reading your work for ages (well since I discovered it), I found this one really, really funny and I saw it from a perspective I haven’t really thought about – I am one of those annoying people with a ear-drum shattering child. If it helps to make you feel better, there are a bunch of parents/ people staying in hectic family situations who would trade their left arm for the blissfully silent company of Pramod.

  23. This was brilliant! And a very important PSA at the end. I think there’s still some taboo associated with loneliness. One can say ‘I am bored’ but saying ‘I am lonely’ draws pitiful stares and awkward silences.
    All lonely people should try together to make this stigma go away. Maybe we won’t be so lonely then after all.

    1. Thank you 🙂 I guess it’ll take effort either way, but more so for lonely people to push out of their inertia individually. Unsolicited advice that you may already know, but I’ve found that after saying ‘I’m lonely’, asking the question ‘What can I do about it?’ is a helpful starting point. 🙂

  24. Halke halke mein kaafi bhari truth bombs. Dher sara ❤️
    And special mention to this beauty: “If you look at the bed from directly above, you can see exactly where hope ends and the Prateek Kuhad video begins.” 👏🏼👏🏼👏🏼

  25. It makes me feel bizarrely good to know that I’m not the only one wondering how long till I get detected if I slip in the shower, or choke on chocolate covered pretzels! Or not the only one excessively dependent on genre and geography defying loud music. Thanks for externalizing my internal bizarre thoughts Pramod’s friend!

  26. What a beautiful piece, is crazy and making sense at the same time. Also, high rated gabru really, really is the answer. Looking forward to reading more of these 🙂

  27. “The trick is to be at peace by yourself, without compulsively clutching onto a deadline or a drink or a joint or a screen or six break-ups worth of ice-cream”

    Thank you for this glorious life advice!

  28. Oooops…(or not) you did it again!
    Came up with a brilliant piece of writing and took our collective breaths away, either with a chuckle or a sigh.
    Basically, CO2 was expelled. (made me feel sad for CO2, expulsion SUCKS!)
    Anyhoooooo….
    Loved this. Not this comment. Your writing.

  29. I have been reading your columns since 2012 when they were published in HT. The ease with which you are able to present original and exceptional content everytime is amazing. Loved it!!

  30. Just Amazing . That Prateek Kuhad line tho 💯
    Felt a bit better to know that there are people like me who suffer the same thing . Thanks

  31. Hey, thanks for writing again. I’m kinda mad at myself for not reading this right away when it hit my inbox, saved it for a tough day because I knew reading it would make the day a bit tolerable– and it did. I really value your writing (since the HT column. I had never seen humour writing done the way you did it, thank you)only you could write this. Will probably sound creepy if I praise more so I’m gonna go now. Thanks and please keep writing always.

  32. Had only one unread mail in my inbox and wanted to read it when I had the opportune moment (Like saving the Gulab Jamun after that Spicy meal). Finally got around to read it, don’t ask me about what the Gulab Jamun was. it was time :). Anyways, I love your writing. Kuch toh log kahenge, logon ka kaam hai kehna. AIB chalu kar do mere bhai if you guys still get along. Life is too short for us admirers to loose on content that AIB created. I will give up Wasabi Peas, I promise.

  33. It feels great to know that I am not the only feeling this. But is it weird that I am feeling this in my early 20s? I mean wasn’t adult life suppose to be fun or something? Or was that a pre-pandemic norm? Anyway if you find enlightenment please share with us so that when I am 30 I won’t have to go through this again.

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