Break the rules or sharpen your pencil.

Growing up, my peers labelled me the ultimate nonconformist, the oddball who didn’t fit the mould, the “tomato potato.” I was like the Banksy of my elementary school, minus the actual talent. But, to be honest, I couldn’t have cared less about what they thought. Who were they to judge? The offspring of punctuality aficionados?

Punctuality and I were like Ross and Rachel in their “we were on a break” phase – never on the same page. So I strolled into every event fashionably late, including school, where being on time was a crime.

Now, it’s not like I was channelling my inner Che Guevara or Jimi Hendrix. I wasn’t some first-grade revolutionary. Instead, my defiance stemmed from a simple refusal to follow arbitrary rules. Did I question the fabric of our routines, like why on Earth did schools have to start at 7 a.m.? Yeah! What moonshine-sipping sadist decided that making children miserable was the best way to kick off the day?

So, since I was perpetually late, why not go all in? Why pay attention in class or even face the teacher? Classrooms were full of drab textbook knowledge to be replaced by ChatGPT (R.I.P. Google). So I chose to stand at the back, admiring the fascinating blank white wall and sharpening my pencil as if it were a sacred ritual.

Time flew by like a fleeting Coachella experience, and my parents seemed content. That is until report card season rolled around. Then, the storm clouds gathered, and my report cards read like a twisted fairytale with unexpected turns. Think Little Red Riding Hood meets Miley Cyrus’s rebellious phase, complete with a shaved head and a scandalous video.

As school progressed, I pursued my path of defiance. I was never on time, wore the wrong uniform, and skipped class. I was like Ferris Bueller sans the charm and elaborate schemes. My parents endured sleepless nights, but I did what I wanted, embracing my stubborn inner maverick.

My unruly behaviour continued, and I managed to fail every class the curriculum had to offer. My teachers, especially the one with an affinity for rote memorization, predicted I’d end up serving tea at a roadside stall. But, my ignorance shielded me from their comments like a suit of armour.

Ironically, my art teachers were the only people who saw potential in me. Maybe it was because I spent every spare moment drawing, even in the restroom. But, alas, I was no Picasso, and my couldn’t-care-less attitude eventually led me to abandon art altogether. How ironic, right? It’s my life, though (shoutout to Bon Jovi).

Miraculously, I made it to college, thanks to my well-connected father. College days zipped by like a fleeting TikTok video, but I made some lifelong friends I could trust with my life – or at least my pencil and sharpener.

But eventually, my hedonistic, directionless lifestyle reached its breaking point. My life’s narrative needed a twist, and the director – my father – stepped in. Fed up with my escapades, he packed my bags and shipped me to a faraway land. OK, maybe it was just a two-hour flight, but it felt like a world away.

In this distant realm, I entered the wacky, jargon-infested advertising world, where I discovered that even lunatics have a place on Earth. I’d stumbled into a Lewis Carroll-esque Wonderland, where the Mad Hatter held court in every boardroom. At that moment, I knew I’d finally found my tribe.

Embracing my newfound purpose, I dove headfirst into the chaotic, caffeine-fueled realm of advertising. Like Don Draper, without the suave demeanour and impeccable fashion sense, I navigated the highs and lows of creative pitches and endless revisions.

In retrospect, those “silly” report cards and my rebellious journey seem almost laughable now. But, like Steve Jobs said, “You can’t connect the dots looking forward; you can only connect them looking backward.” My unorthodox path led me to a place where I could flourish, where my peculiarities became assets.

So, here I stand, a proud product of my refusal to conform, basking in the glow of late-night brainstorming sessions and the thrill of a well-executed campaign. My life may have been a rollercoaster of defiance and questionable choices, but I wouldn’t change a thing. After all, who wants to be just another cog in the machine, right?

In the immortal words of Robert Frost, “I took the one less travelled by, and that has made all the difference.” So, if you ever find yourself questioning the status quo or feeling like the odd one out, remember that sometimes the road less travelled is the one that leads to the most extraordinary destinations.

And as for my fellow oddballs, keep defying expectations and challenging norms. You always need to find out where your nonconformity might take you. As for me, I’m off to another brainstorming session, armed with my trusty pencil and sharpener, ready to take on the world – one rebellious idea at a time.

Oh, and Brian, remember, we’ve got a Tetris showdown tonight!


The desk

Working from a café, on your laptop, is a trifle at best and a trek if you’re carrying a laptop bag. A coffee shop, in my mind, is suitable for meetings, quick last-minute edits, chatting and “coffee” but the absolute worst for doing focused work.

“Oh, look! There’s Paul at the coffee shop working on his laptop. Boy does he look engrossed. He must be very productive getting all his shit done,” said no person, ever.

This segues into why one should fashion their own Batcave. Or the close cousin, a desk in mom’s basement. A creative space (doesn’t mean artsy-fartsy, bruh!) equipped with all the bells and whistles turns me on. Like, a lot. It’s frightening.

Allow me to explain. A corner of your house or studio or mom’s basement, away from all the distractions is a space littered with natural light, decked with a loveseat or bed, to take power naps. Heck, throw in a bookshelf and hang art on the wall.

And now the workstation.

Imagine a desk, preferably white and standing. Large enough for your imagination and small enough to fit in a downtown shoebox apartment.

Besides your laptop, secondary monitor (only for high rollers) and speakers, the desk should have sufficient room to spread two books, a notepad, a coffee mug, a pair of wireless headphones, reading glasses, and your phone.

The only thing left to do now is to finish this rant. Run along now. Shoo!


Naked ankles

It’s been half a decade. And I can’t seem to stop. I’m finally coming out and saying it. Ready? Naked ankles are my weakness. Folding my pant cuffs, revealing the hairy flesh underneath, is a habit I picked up from GQ. Shameless plug alert. I wrote for GQ. So when I say GQ was my bible you know, I have a biased opinion.

On any typical evening, I’d lay back in my brown bean bag, beer in hand, with an issue of GQ — scrutinising the flood of ads, semi-nude photography, drool over things I couldn’t afford and study the informative articles and giggle baloney banana over the cheeky columns.

I can trace back to the first time I folded my pant cuffs. I felt liberated, free and sexy. Like the time you pooped, for the first time, without your pants and underwear hanging around your ankles.


Sure, GQ had influenced my style and taste, but one can’t forgive the sultry Indian summers for partly being responsible — giving “wind in my hair” an entirely new meaning, eh?

To my fellow Canadians, the habit appears a little odd in – 30-degree temperature. I wouldn’t recommend it to the faint hearted.

“You keeping your ankles warm?”

Something I regularly hear from near and dear ones — who worry about my health and are a bit confused about my sexuality. You know who you are. I love you too.

Hey! I don’t see anybody rallying behind Sally. Sally who? She’s a basic bitch, sporting a skirt ten inches above the knees. Are we neighbouring in sexism territory, yet?

Moving along now. The fact of the matter is, I don’t mind the attention. Yeah, a whore for all the eyes. So what? I catch girls (even men, sheesh!) staring down my pants all the time.

Now I know what it’s like to have a revealing pair.