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Everyday a conscious choice

There were so many times, I recall, coming home from school I would run to get my hands on the remote before my cousins and siblings, just so I could watch National geographic on TV. It was slow with this deep voice saying something in an accent I didn’t understand, but it felt almost meditative. The vast forest then zooming into a bird landing on a tree. Then the monkeys cleaning each other’s backs, and frogs on the corners of streams. The closest I could get to this, was going to Cubbon park every Sunday for a morning walk, (whining that my calves hurt) I would love sitting around and just being in the greens, watching pet owners getting dragged by their huge dogs and some people feeding the parrots. We even went for picnics there, sometimes in the evenings, more than 20 of us carrying sandwiches, samosas and ‘jhal mudi’ along with flasks of tea. Frisbee, badminton and football was the recreation. On an everyday routine, evenings were at the neighbouring ‘Jhula’ park and then an hour of cricket outside the house. I relish every second of my childhood that was spent outdoors in the folds of nature. 

Over time things moved to drowning into books and burning candles to study for exams (getting better grades meant you’re smart). Short and long conversations over the landline; finding internet cafes to do projects; rest was still simple. It was still those off-white boxes for computers in the school labs and no one had seen a laptop. I still recall winning a prize from WWF (World Wildlife Fund) in school for making a poster for a competition, with the topic ‘environment damage’. My sister helped me write the ‘GARBAGE CITY’ in bold. Now spread out on my bed, as I’m writing this, on a word document, with a remote to control the temperature, wires all over to charge these gadgets, a room for myself, UPS/Generator incase the electricity goes off; I get distracted watching videos in between on Instagram, of people basking in the sun— and I am wondering if I should stop writing altogether and just go back in time.

Go back to those local holidays to Coorg sitting by the river and spotting birds all around. Go back to the times when we didn’t need air conditioners and fans. (I don’t know if this is universal but I still forget to switch off lights and fans when I leave the room). Go back to the times when we did not need anything, and having little was enough because everything we loved was outdoors. Today I travel around in a car and I am so dependent that I can’t imagine restricting myself to using only the public transport. I normally take flights to wherever I travel because #travelgoals (it is cool to be everywhere around the world). Be everywhere and still feel choked in the cities we live, with the smoke, dust and pollution. Everyday life is just not the same as back in the nineties and running away on long weekends just doesn’t seem like a permanent solution. 

Everyday-life was my focus and ‘what is it a layman could do to make this place earthlier, than we were born into?’ was the question I kept gnawing at. At snail-speed I kept discovering things that we can incorporate in a household, as an individual. There are so many things that we can do differently everyday. “Our power to make a difference lies in our everyday choices.” To start off things, I needed to look at what I can do and not what ‘they’ are not doing. I started composting or sending out the edible kitchen waste to the cows, stopped using plastic (95%), stopped using disposable pads shifted to menstrual cups, stopped buying plastic and almost a year ago turned to a vegan lifestyle. From the time I wake up, a wooden toothbrush, zero chemicals in my bathroom essentials, half a bucket to bathe, no plastic packaging of the soap I use and only DIY shampoo, no plastic tiffin or bottles and less water wastage in producing vegan food. Small little changes each of them going a long way, I’m hoping as way back to my childhood.

I wonder though, if the diaper I soiled at the age of two, could still be lying in one of those landfills? Have you ever seen a video of a landfill, if not actually been to one? We buy and use so many things today as an individual and everything we throw is landing up there. Everything we buy and use, is created by exploiting resources and in the process causes some damage to the environment. What can I do as a single entity? Cannot be simpler: CONSUME LESS. If we have to consume we should look at the approach of a ‘circular economy’ which aims at minimising waste and make most of the resources. Unlike the ‘linear economy’ which has a “take, make and dispose” model of approach”. You could probably choose a steel utensil than a paper cup (forget plastic), a steel straw over paper straw, a cloth wipe instead of tissue. I saw an interviewof Donatella Versace, for Vogue, where she said ‘minimalism’ is the one trend she hates and that shouldn’t come back. (I wonder)

“As consumers we have so much power to change the world by just being careful in what we buy” – Emma Watson

I leave you with one thought —when there will be a war for resources and lands that are still habitable, after another forty years or sooner — we would probably not be alive to feel the pressure of ‘being alive becoming a challenge’. However, we are going to be the generation that would be blamed for it. Every few days let go of an old habit and grab a conscious one. Remember it’s not easy, only because it’s a change. Once you’re in it, it’s a part of you and it’s more convenient than what we have been told wrongly. Living a sustainable and environmentally conscious life is easier, simpler and healthier. The hard part is the switch. So don’t get overwhelmed and just confidently walk right into it with baby steps. From the time you wake up till you go to bed, be conscious of everything that you do— that’s exactly what a layman can do. Maybe just a toothbrush can make a huge difference. 

To list it: 

  • DIY if you need something. Google Ma has so many DIYs. I make my own shampoo. 
  • Share, lend and borrow- directly impacts the manufacturing of new products and use of new resources.
  • If you cannot DIY and cannot borrow then ask yourself “Can I live without it?”. If you can’t, then buy only as much as you need to survive.
  • Don’t throw- reuse it or give it away to someone else. 
  • Waterfoodand Electricity should be prayed to literally. (Okay wi-fi too!) 
  • Plastic is demonized but it is also not the Santa Clause of our times. So be very cautious. 

Join: https://robinhoodarmy.com
Join: https://isha.sadhguru.org/rally-for-rivers/
Join: https://www.feedingindia.org
Join: https://jhatkaa.org
Join: https://www.fridaysforfuture.in


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Dive Deep

In one of those weekly fights with my elder sister (when we were really young), for a change my mom had taken her side. I was furious and not knowing how to channel my anger, I put some home-made scrub into the back pockets of her jeans, that were hanging behind the bathroom door. That doused my anger immediately and I went about my days and forgot, until it was found out. I have surely been as annoying as an alarm clock to my siblings, more than they deserved and I didn’t feel even a pinch of guilt. (**Asian Sky shop moment- I am a changed person now). Maisie Williams (Acted as Arya Stark in Game of thrones) had a problem feeling her emotions and facing them, during a short period of time. On-screen and off-screen, she couldn’t get herself to cry.

Maisie Williams as Arya Stark of Winterfell

The internet gets truck loads of posts everyday, telling you- how to manage your anger and control it; not be upset and how to find true happiness; remain calm and not over-react; and there is a one-sided opinion. We are biased towards different feelings; branding half of them to be negative and the others to be positive. The downside to this partiality in our mind-set is that, we are never accepting to the situation at hand and resist it just to avoid the ‘defamed feelings’. 

This makes me think of the black and white symbol of Yin and Yang. We need both black and white to balance out our emotional self and feel whole. Never are we always happy or always sad; that’s unnatural. Even when we are happy we do have reasons to feel sad but we have more reason to be happy. Even when we are sad we do have reason to be grateful and happy, but in this moment we are acknowledging the grief. The curvy line in the symbol signifies that there are no absolute separations between the two opposites. Similarly, I don’t think there is a defined line as to our emotions and we can switch over when ever we want. 

Have you ever gone scuba diving or underwater in a submarine? It’s a strange experience. Underwater the same colours are seen as darker or as a different shade (watch video- link for the same). We breathe through our mouth and cannot communicate except using hand gestures, in a dive. Even time seems to pass quickly when we’re inside. There is very little thinking and more observing; we almost forget ourselves for a bit. Synonymously different emotions make us see the world differently. Like the colours, the same people we love become our worst nightmares; Time flies when we are doing something we love and it seems a drag when we hate doing something; Anger makes us oblivious to everything, shortens the breath and we can’t focus on anything except ourselves, while bliss makes us want to indulge in things around us, breathe with ease and lose ourselves in the act. 

Staying underwater for long is not comfortable for new divers. Its takes time to understand how to manoeuvre and handle ourselves. We are not born with this knowledge but it’s learnt. It’s obviously not a mandate to learn to be a diver, but I see more people challenging themselves and getting coached to be professional divers. Why are we not diving deep into our emotional needs as a person? Resisting the discomfort of new and defamed emotions will never get us through. Validation and judgements, try and scare us away from being open to feeling everything. If we want to learn how to manoeuvre and handle ourselves through every emotion, we have to dive deep. 

We should wish that better things happen to us, but if it doesn’t then we might as well, get to know ourselves in the worst. When the situation calls for you to feel sad, angry, remorseful, unsatisfied, guilty, fearful, hateful, pissed off, frustrated, irritated, anxious and all those under-the-carpet feels; you be ready to feel it, just as readily we want to feel the opposite. That for me is being vulnerable to yourself first. If you can face your emotions, you’re better placed to manage sharing it with others. 

If we all hide our feelings and don’t express it, we wouldn’t be any different from robots. Vulnerability is defined as – “exposed to the possibility of being attacked or harmed, either physically or emotionally.” However, being vulnerable is credited to empowering you and giving you strength. Contradictory? The crux of it is that, if you have been through the drama; and know yourself through and through— you know you can handle the worst that will be thrown at you. Knowing that gives you confidence and strength to be bare and not hide any part of you. This comes only when you have experienced the feelings (that we resisted); let it come and let it go, leaving you a changed person. 

To all the Hit-and-Run drivers out there- the seriousness of not repeating a mistake, is felt only after being ashamed about it the first time? The fire and rage to fight all odds again, comes so easily when you have faced your failures. I was down with some illness for a month and recovery took another; which got me really weak and drained. I felt the emotion strongly at that point of time; angered and frustrated not having trained for two months. Getting back in the game after the frustration of two months couldn’t be more sweet. Let us allow ourselves to feeling everything we can, to diving in deeper waters only to come out, seeing the same lands with different eyes. 

This is from the last season of the Game of Thrones.
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Camp Out

I was in my single digit years where kids normally want to be treated older than their age. However, I was very content with, age not being a ‘thing’. My heart was like this butterfly fluttering at the slightest fragrance of fun, nature and outdoors. All this and my mind somehow felt stressed as years passed and I was meant to clock my hours at work, take up responsibility, be safe as a girl and not take risks by stepping out too much and basically “grow up”. I was physically growing up but mentally it was difficult to suddenly dissociate from this inner child in me who loves nature. 

It’s not that I was locked up by my circumstances but you could say I wasn’t getting outdoors as much. The only thing I cling on to and that keeps me sane is watching the sunrise every single day. Psychologically I tell myself one day the sun will rise, till then discipline and perseverance. So this weekend turned out to be a complete spinner. For many this would be normal and not a big deal, however, for me it was my FIRST CAMP EVER.

I put up a tent guys! You won’t believe, the tent even had my house number on it. When you are a hundred percent involved and immersed, the simplest thing can be extremely exciting. The ducks were immersed in their own dilemmas, walking to and fro. Ebony, Emma, Brunch, Snuffy and Nawab (The pet dogs of fellow campers) chased each other and splashed around in the pond to cool off from the drive. Nikhil, the most enthusiastic child I’ve ever seen, was neck deep with the pups and the brown colour of the water didn’t bother him. As children we don’t have much inhibitions I guess. We could be tossing the world in our hands and not be worried about the weight of its fears.

By evening there were a few groups chit chatting, settling in with Pakoda and chai. And then there was basically “do nothing” time. Sanya and family got the party started (in a very smirn off way) before restlessness got the better hand. Sudeep sang, played the mouth organ and guitar all simultaneously as we sat around the bonfire and eyed the barbeque every few seconds. Just some music, good people, food and stars; we don’t need too much and carry so much we don’t need, even emotionally.

As an ice-breaker we were supposed to sing along but we didn’t do any justice. Wonder if it was just hunger holding us back or adult-ing. The things that stops us gets toppled off like dominoes, with the fall of the first tile, which is Abolut-etly what every one waits for, to feel free. Though the barbecue had turned to disappointing fried pakodas, we were happily rambling on about everything under the roof and sky. So what is that magic ingredient that could make you loosen up 24/7; bring the child out in us? Can we be the talkative freaks we all are, without any catalysts (and Biras)? Or have we completely irreversibly lost the child in us in the everyday crowd of work and duties?

Half of them retired and the remaining soldiers lay down on the tarp sheet and counted down stars, arguing if the biggest star there, was a satellite or a planet. When was the last time you had this kind of an intense controversial conversation? I could hardly sleep on that and was up again at 5AM watching the Full moon set, right in time to catch the sunrise on the other side. We saw a few birds and their behaviour, tadpoles leaving circles in the pond as the came up for air together. This is it, it’s magical for me, like life was a blessing to experience. It’s the one purpose we are all born for, to relish this beauty with our eyes and leave behind a better world. 

Wound up with a long drive on beautiful scenic Mysore road. There was hardly any time to frown or whine about all the things that didn’t workout. Lacking any filters and speaking our minds; going all out, acting as per will and hardly cribbing— aren’t these the very traits we should retain as adults, or is that not a part of growing up? As I’m lying on my bed at home thinking about this weekend, this moment (now part of my reminiscing files) feels like a drop of water in a dessert. I could live with this memory for a good few weeks till it gets doused out by mundane routines. Going back to doing what I totally loved gave me a breath of new air, along with fresh perspectives. I don’t know about growing up but I’m definitely going to let my heart camp out on feeling like life is worth every beat.


Special mentions- Best company -Shrishti Choudhary (friend and niece, can drive beautifully)/ Camp leader- @aashishcrezi(great job),

organised by- https://campmonk.com you have to approach them for a camp to know what I am talking about.

@campmonk at PIN DROP MYSTERY CAMP
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Roots (जड़)

सोच ही जड़ है अगर 
तो नयी सोच की भूक जगानी होगी।
सोच बदलोगे, 
तो हम अछे पूर्वज कहलाएँगे।
फिर भी सिर्फ़ कहना 
“Remember your roots”;
क्यूँकि समय के साथ 
नयी जड़ो की ज़रूरत होगी,
नयी सोच की ज़रूरत होगी। 
हम नहीं रहेंगे पर, कुछ
अच्छा छोड़ जाएँगे। 

पेड़ों को काट दे,
कचड़ो को जलाक
नदियों में बहा दे;
धुँआ की जैसे आदत ही हो गयी है,
और जानवरों को खाना हमें सही लगे।
क्या यही हम कर के जाएँगे?
क्या इन जड़ो के साथ जी पाएँगे
आने वाली फ़सल, और नई डालियाँ?
कौन देख पाएगा लटकते आम,
और हथेली पे महसूस बारिश के बूंद?
क्या सोच होगी जब वो अपने
उजड़े जड़ो को देखेंगे?
कच्चे बुनियादों पे खड़े,
क्या ख़ुश हो पाएँगे वो?

ऐसे जड़ हो कि कोई आँधी ना हिला सके।
जीना ही एक संघर्ष ना बन जाए;
हर सवाल का जवाब मिल जाए।
हमें याद करे तो 
गर्व से हमारी मिसालें दे।
नाकि रूखे पेड़ की तरह 
जो पानी की खोज में,
शरम से झुकी हो उनकी डाल; 
धड़ से धरतीं को न्योछावर।
हमारे भूल से उनका 
मानो की जीना ही बेकार।

जड़ो की क़ीमत अभी समझो,
क्यूँकि बीज भी पहले जड़ ही देता है।
हमने सब कुछ ले लिया
जो ये ज़मीन दे सकती है;
अब तुम्हारी बारी है।
मुझे लग रहा है क्यूँ ,
‘तुमसे ना हो पाएगा’?
वो उजड़ जाएँगे 
अगर तुमने अभी आँखे नहीं खोली।
अगर तुमने सोच नहीं बदला।

उठो अब, कुछ करके जाना है।
तुम्हें मैं एक सोच दे रही हूँ,
उसे आगे बड़ाना है।
इस भूमि कि हर एक कण को 
आदर से लेना है;
इतना ही जितना काम आना है।
जो कुछ बचेगा वो 
भविष्य को पाना है।
हमारी सोच पे आगे की 
दुनिया अपनी जीवन अंकुरित करेगी।
तो क्या हम सोच बदलेंगे?
क्या हम सही बुनियाद डालेंगे?
या फिर, हम उनकी नाश का जड़ बन जाएँगे?
ये तुम्हें अभी बताना है।

By Sneha Bhuwalka

Please see: For the Spoken word see the Instagram Profile- @mycoffeeweather Which was performed for the Kommune story slam on May 5th 2019.

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Of Borders and Lipsticks: a case on vulnerability


Recently I was in a situation where I was so attached to the person, in conversation and obsessed about the relationship that I didn’t realise who I was being. I’m normally so chatty that I don’t realise I’m completely exposed emotionally. I give away too much of myself and only realise after I’m ambushed and my ego is hurt. Why do they have this power over my emotional balance and how did just a few words seem so important?

I was giving way more than asked for. There is a reason why people started having borders in countries, a fence outside their compound, a door to be knocked to enter their house, and the most important things are locked away in a safe, you’d probably never have any access to. Why do we have these checkpoints and boundaries that we don’t want a few selected people to enter? Does revealing everything about you put you in a precarious position? Bingo!

When people know me through and through, it makes it easy for them to say things to me or behave in a way that they know or think will tick me off. I’ve given that away in the past about myself; showed that I’m angered by something they did. Knowing that about me gave them the remote-control of my mood. Knowledge is power, I guess. The cosmetic industry has capitalizing on the knowledge of our body image issues, making appearance everything that matters about us. Everything had to be covered up: our dark circles, spot marks and pale skins. If I’m wearing make-up when I’m out with you, may be I still haven’t found reasons to trust you completely. Don’t tell me it’s to feel good, because then I’d want to see people wear it all the time. We don’t want everyone to know our flaws, though we know everybody is flawed, how ironical.

“…often others see you as you see yourself.” The Palace of illusion, Page 9.

Does being an open book with everyone and revealing your insecurities make you vulnerable? Yes, it does, and this makes it tough to be yourself. Even letting people in wasn’t easy for me, I still fear that revealing myself completely would be taken advantage of. Not everyone can be trusted, with our secrets, failures, insecurities and even self-worth. So there are cover ups for everything today. You put up something you’re not. How we hide our insecurities has become an art, to save ourselves the trouble of facing rejection. How do you really be yourself if you’re constantly worried about being accepted? You accept that not everyone can love your flaws and give you that space to be yourself. A few people may not love you in that way; some people will even make you pay for your mistakes. It’s the hard truth, the world is still not a safe place to trust blindly with your deepest insecurities.

After the recent Sri Lanka and New Zealand attacks, our safety is questionable? We have our national boundaries and national security, what’s going wrong then? How are these attackers getting an opening into our holy places and allowed the power to shake our faith in our own? Mostly we were not alert and the checking system is relaxed. Could be an internal political weakness, that they took advantage of. Any mistake from the securities would not be forgiven. 

Internally, if we are at an emotional conflict and always self-doubting, it weakens our alertness. We are constantly anxious about how we are being perceived; blinding us to noticing others’ actions and behaviours. They may disprove and over-react and we oblige with it. Red flags go unnoticed, we forget to a step back and do things differently. This sad event has opened up, that if anyone has the power to unsettle your state, no one’s to be blamed but we ourselves. We have to know ourselves better to protect ourselves better. If someone loved you or their country and even this environment, they’d never take advantage of their vulnerability. It can only be a selfish act to attack. Vulnerability in the wrong hands costs us our self belief and security.

Being vulnerable in a relationship is inevitable sometimes. With the right people it gives you the freedom of being yourself and having that space to make mistakes. We can set healthy boundaries but we cannot be fake and be too cautious with everyone. If someone really loves you, they will not want to take advantage of you for opening up about yourself or kill you for being wrong.

They might take from you but they will not forget to contribute. If they do, it’s your job to communicate. Get here with all your relationships, communicate what’s okay for healthy relationship and what’s not. Self-worth becomes dangerous only if, at the cost of the relationship. It is “we” over “me”. If you don’t get that then trust me you’ll be a lonely chap inside, however hard you smile on the outside. Draw your lines on your bad ego, while setting boundaries for your healthy self-worth, if you have to protect what you have to. Other than that give yourself to others as the sun gives its warmth to our planet.

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Are you Breathing?

Einstein’s theory of relativity states that light travels in the same speed in vacuum and air. It is not affected by the speed at which the observer is travelling. Sun being a constant and the biggest source of light, we took our relative movement in comparison to the sun and invented TIME. Earth is revolving and rotating and doing its dance around the Sun and the sun stands and watches; it’s light spreading constantly in all directions. If I say I’m forty years old, relatively I have moved that many times around the Sun.

What if I did not want to measure my life based on earth’s orbital show. What if I wanted to measure my life based on other things, being completely oblivious to time? What is the one thing constant in our body? Sun is a source of energy and we have a source of energy inside us too. If sun is producing light which served as a constant and common measurement for the entire planet system, then breath is the common measurement for our body and its microorganisms; the source of life. How many breaths did you take in the last hour? I don’t think you noticed.

There are at least five or six times I catch myself not breathing, in the entire day. Mentally so occupied that my involuntary activities stop being involuntary. That’s one way my body tries to get attention— “Let’s stop breathing and see if she notices the work that goes in to keep her alive.” Does that happen to you? Or is it just me who is being played at?

There was a time when I was meditating regularly, now I’m just not doing it (No reasons attached). Back then, I had very few moments of thoughtlessness and it felt awesome. It’s like someone put me on standby. My breathing would flow effortlessly and it was just that. Existing for a few minutes, no judgement. 

What if we are born to do just that? Breathe and exist. We have all been trained to— “don’t just exist, live every second like it’s your last.” I see now why our dogs are not as stressed as we are. Hours of lounging around the living room, under the bed, under the dining table and at the door of the kitchen. We don’t do this kind of lounging. We are hustlers now, ruled by FOMO (Fear Of Missing Out)

There is cost we pay to hustle which is not being promoted as much. There is something called the flight-or-fight response and we are subconsciously always on fight mode. We are so used to putting ourselves through stressful situations that our body forgets to turn it off. The body’s response to stress is releasing hormones that help you fight; which has a tumble down effect. Increased heartbeat and breathing, rise in blood pressure and more glucose goes into the blood to release energy which helps us fight the situation. Answer to diabetes may be. 

So is meditation the answer? To escape this ‘Fire-in-the-Mountain-Run-Run-Run’ attitude to life. Hatha Yoga has taught me so much and this too — being conscious in movement and to slow down; simple. Slow is the new fast, relax is the new hustle, letting go is the new FOMO. I still remember Dj’s(My Yoga teacher) words “Flow like honey”. A simple thing like brushing your teeth, you could bring your mind completely to it. The bristles dragging on the surface of your enamel and slow it down. Or chewing consciously every bite, feeling the samosa getting crushed and making its way inside. Just like how they talk your body into relaxing in Shavasana; you need to do that with smaller activities throughout the day, everyday.

Mindfulness is just that, to slow down life and let seconds blur out into minutes, minutes into hours. Going about your day mindfully will improve your concentration, save your brain from burning out, help you make better decisions and your reflexes will be better, you will also have more reaction time to any given situation.

While for the sages in mountains, who have given up worldly ways of living, days don’t even measure into hours. They are not dependant on the earth dancing around the sun. Their mind is focusing on the breath and its flow. In a world without ‘Time’ a recipe would instruct‘time-taken’as 79 breaths; the delivery will be done in 300 breaths and you have been using your phone for 154960 breaths. Would that make you more conscious of the way you want to use your breaths? Being unaware of our last breath, makes it even more important to salvage each one of them. We may not be ready to leave for the mountains yet, till then we should stop glorifying being busy and keep checking on ourselves ‘am I breathing?’ 

Sometimes you should just be:

Evdy Bawdy Chillax Maan

I’m not saying meditation can now be evaded. We may not be able to sit and do it everyday, as diligently, so instead of chasing perfection just slow down. I even came across an exercise (picture) you can do in between work. It’s very effective and it’s like a quick charging when your battery is about to die. 

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Break That

I was in my teens, when it was five in the morning, still dark outside and suddenly I heard someone’s knuckles playing a band on the door of my cupboard (90s kids didn’t have the privilege of locking their rooms). I woke up irritated and it was my dad, I don’t know if he was secretly loving it, watching us groan. My siblings and I were unaware that this was going to be a regular for a lot of months to come. ‘Wake up and do what?’ — people ask me that even today. Workout. Run up the stairs and come down twenty times. Really, you can imagine our reactions when we saw the movie Dangal. 

I was the most frustrated when my dad said “You eat? You sleep? You go to school? Then you can make time to workout.” All my reasons lost to his words and do I thank my stars for it. He gave us the taste of waking up early and getting that engine started—like dark chocolate, black coffee or Beer. Something about acquired tastes, you keep going at it till you’re hooked. Either someone else is making you down it or its’ your own thirst kicking you. Now I don’t even put an alarm. Don’t need one; my desperate need to feel fit gets me up and running. 

While I was on this spree I did get the habit of watching the sunrise and hearing the birds when I’d reach the terrace. You would be shocked at how disciplined other creatures are. A Barbet (bird) would come everyday at the same time to watch the sun rise. Wait on the same tree. There are other birds who follow the same pattern even today. The ancient “cock-a-doodle-doo” of the rooster crowing strong even today; if you have pets at home you’ll know they are mostly more disciplined than us. Some habits can be innate behaviours and don’t need training. The one’s that need to be grilled into our routine are the real mosquitoes (they are the new bitches), right? How do you reach a point where you don’t break it and how do you crack a habit? 

Breaking it down: 

MAKE BETTER CHOICES: I read in this book “The Power of Habit: Why We Do What We Do in Life and Business” by Charles Duhigg, that you need to replace old habits with new and better ones. From smoking to chewing gum was a huge fad. Basically jump from one wagon to another healthier one. You can be creative in your own way, if you have the habit of using your phone a lot, then make sure you call people instead of text that saves screen time. Making better choices is a way of starting.

BE EXTREEMLY PATIENT: 21/90 days rule- It works, I’m on the other side of so many habits that they’ve become a lifestyle and I don’t even remember how I got here. When people ask me how did you control sugar cravings, I don’t recall because its so much a part of me now. So wait till it becomes a part of your subconscious routine. Imagine everyday’s task or practice as sticks; the more sticks you gather the harder it is to break the habit. A few sticks can still be broken. You have to collect all the practicing and training. Some habits do die hard and could take more than twenty-one days. Its how desperately you want it, its not magic, you should want that over other things.

STICK IT WITH A REWARD: Sticking to them is where people fail, because it doesn’t feel rewarding until you see the results. Until the results come forth, keep alternate rewards for every task that you complete (repeat: Complete). Don’t we say “good boy” to our pet dogs when they’ve done something nice, or give them a treat if they move the way we want them to. Our animal instincts own us in this arena of life. I was a weekend binger until I started rewarding myself with healthy alternatives on any day, that I felt I did a good job. My reward for finishing the staircase workout: I would draw a hopscotch on my terrace and skip around a bit. The book mentioned earlier has the same concept. Rewarding can be really motivating and you get to figure out your own reward, isn’t that great?

PUMP YOURSELF UP: So when people ask me to motivate them, I’m really not in a place to answer because humans are subjective beings. I look at Massy Arias on Instagram and drool over (my mom thinks it disgusting to pack those muscles). To each their own. I even put her picture on my phone-screen display. You choose your own motivation. 

DON’T BE TOO STRICT: You don’t need to be a perfectionist. The stricter you are the faster you will bounce back. We are influenced emotionally and mentally by so many things today that we may not be motivated everyday. Tell yourself “It’s okay for now.” Being nice to yourself is a part of feeling motivated. We always listen to people who are nice to us, so start by being that nice person. 

DISCIPLINE IS THE MAGIC: In spite of small failures, just show up and do your best the next day and the next and even after that. There are going to be good days and then horrible days, where you give up altogether. It may feel like starting from scratch, be willing to do it. It may feel like you don’t have what it takes, still show up. Keep showing up everyday. That’s discipline, I’ve dissected it for you. Then subconsciously the brain starts understanding “She’s Muhammad Ali, she’s a fighter, she’s going to keep coming back, so lets just give her this bout.” 

The idea is to create space for the new habit not beat yourself into it. Be creative at rewarding yourself and just make sure it’s a reward less damaging and a habit worth keeping.

Other Reads: https://www.headspace.com/blog/2017/06/24/setting-phone-boundaries/

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Light Up

Recently a friend of mine asked me, ‘how she can make her fiancé feel special by gifting something non materialistic’. I had so many ideas and immediately sent her a list of things.

After some hours (it doesn’t hit me instantly, I’m a little slow) I had an epiphany after an argument. Yes, it takes an argument sometimes to get those realisations (Disclaimer: Argue at your own risk). I felt I’ve given away too much of myself in most of my relationships. Sometimes we give and give and give and the show of love is no less.

I’m not self praising, getting to the point. I haven’t done anything nice for myself as diligently as I’ve done for others. The discipline with which we all want to please other people doesn’t come when we should make ourselves feel important. I think I take a back seat when I’m given some attention by someone other than myself. When it comes from outside I feel satiated and stop working on putting some of my love aside for myself. 

What is self love then? Doing fancy things for yourself? It is whatever sails your boat but keeps you sailing everyday, through rough seas and calm. For me it’s sometimes me-time, sometimes seeing faces I don’t see everyday, music, everything about nature, dancing around my mom, singing till my throat hurts and obviously a lot of things make me happy. We all know what makes us happy. We consciously don’t make time for those things everyday. 

It’s like the savings account we were told to open to create a habit of saving. Yeah sure it’s an investment but it’s a habit more importantly. Why make it a habit? Why not just do it when you feel like? Because attention is like money; if you don’t set aside some for later, you might end up spending all of it and you want to spend some on yourself too. Too much attention given is overwhelming, and you have no idea how the subconscious of the other person is going to take it. Im not suggesting we become self obsessed, but consciously divide some attention for yourself everyday.

It’s helped me a lot over the years practicing this. You must know you’re an important person in your own life and you deserve some love in any weather. You don’t have to depend on the seasons, you can churn some snow for yourself anytime you want because you’ve made it a habit. Create compartments and reserve one box of love for yourself. No matter what, that box will never go out of luck. Because you can always give yourself a reason to be grateful to be alive. (Book Rec.: “Man’s search of meaning” by Victor Frankl)

Time-out an old post of mine; I had written on rest and break. May be sometimes we just need that—doing nothing at all. However, a void tends to fill back up, when we get back to our lives. Its important to fill it up with some good feelings. Unless we feel good we cannot make others feel good. We will keep going out there expecting the world to fill that void. We need to wear our own masks before securing other’s even on the airplane. Why not clap for small efforts that we put into our daily tasks? Appreciate and show it by words and by doing nice things when we have accomplished something, however small or big. I was a mathematics fan in school and every time I solved a problem I would say “Clap for me everybody I got the answer.” I need to learn so much from the old me.

Starting small helps, may be look into the mirror and smile (yes you can be a little looney), have personal journals, small notes of praises, buy flowers (this one not my idea but works), take yourself out for a coffee, buy plants for yourself. Then go all manic and throw some imagination, may be make yourself a garden, start a blog, make huge plans for yourself without worrying about how you’ll do any of it. Show yourself that you’re well deserving of the things that keep you buzzing. It doesn’t even have to be perfect; sunrises are my thing and I’m almost always late by a few minutes. Even then you just have to show up, for something for yourself. Your mind needs to learn that you are your best cheerleader and your first love.

All this and you’ll never be worried about attention not coming from outside. You wouldn’t even need it most of the times. People may be rude, lash out on you sometimes; the world doesn’t change. You do. You become this light bulb, always shining bright and that lights back up immediately even if it flickers. Everyone wants some of your light, but make sure you stay lit for yourself first.

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The Craving

When I was in school I would see some of my classmates clambering to get the teacher’s eyes on her. It was such a rush if you were told to read or get a special mention for just saying something smart. In college just flickering your hair around a lot or being loud would get you popular enough. Contrastingly, I even saw people who were so comfortable they didn’t care if people didn’t even know their names till the third year of being in the same class. I was on the other end of the spectrum. Too shy and mostly thought popularity is too much effort and the bargain wouldn’t get me anything interesting. Entering a room and turning heads meant to me that I was wearing something too blingy or I had to pull my hoodie on. 

Guess what? Not all of us want to be the hero. Some despise the spotlight because it’s just plain embarrassing. The idea that everyone’s important and a part of a bigger act makes it unnecessary to be the lead role. Everyone’s a protagonist in their own life, why should I or anyone want to be the centre of attention? Why should everyone be looking at this one person entering? Subconsciously projecting movies, novels and stories on to real life; making superiority a prized possession. (Personally, I liked Ron as a character over Harry) 

The price we pay for wanting superiority is a constant seeking of approval of the majority. Not seeking approval is hard in a world where every brand endorses attention along with their products. The famous Asian Paints advertisement “Wah Sunil Babu naya Ghar”; when someone gets a new coat of paint, they not only get new looking walls, they grab attention. Some ads even feed on people’s insecurity which wasn’t even there before they advertised it. I mean really, asking the men: do you really want a thousand unknown women running behind your masked odour; than not need to mask anything in the first place? People actually love themselves, whatever the marketing agency tells them just messes with that. Really get down to what they’re selling you? It’s mostly something we can live without, using as a bait our worst insecurity and using that to mask their products.

The social media—the new billboards of marketing, wants you to want people’s attention. I recently noticed that Instagram, being the most popular, has some sly algorithm going on. It waits for you to want people to notice your post and then somehow ghosts it, so you pay them to get attention. How are they existing in the first place, if not for our accounts? There are a lot of videos discouraging people from using social media, that says it’s a way of getting the dopamine levels to go haywire. Attention seeking is a disorder and companies like Facebook and Instagram are supplements to this damaging condition.

Attention literally means ‘the regarding of someone or something as interesting or important.’

In the light of this, attention is not a negative word. Getting noticed for the right reasons is definitely normal. We are social beings and we want to feel a part of the herd; it’s in our natural instinct to want to be accepted. Doing things solely for the purpose of grabbing eyeballs is something else. 

The world doesn’t revolve around us and we are like any other creatures—that’s why I love ants. How they live, their community and attitude to life. If someone needs an ego check please introduce them to ants. Toiling like the world rests on their contribution, even if that contribution isn’t being talked about. They can be squished between our toes and we wouldn’t even realise; they don’t seem to have the time to worry about being noticed. The neck joint of a common American field ant can withstand pressures up to 5,000 times greater than its own body weight. I don’t see the need to glorify our lives.

Being accepted turned to seeking approval and then crossed the line and became ‘wanting limelight’. All this because leadership was being sold to people like hotcakes. “Don’t be a sheep, following the herd”, somehow meant each of us need to lead the rest of us. Everyone was being encouraged to run the race of leaders. Everyone with experience wants to start their own business, with shortage of experienced employees to work. Everyone wanted to be the trendsetter, sadly with paid followers. Too many individual opinions which needs to outshine the other’s. This is not feeling like you’re a part of something bigger. This dived us, individually leading us into the whirlpools of our own washbasins- everyone going nowhere. 

The problem is not that you shouldn’t want to be a leader, you should lead the way if you know it. The problem is, not realising, that contributing in anyway is as important as leading. The geese flying in a V-formation don’t let just one goose lead the entire time and tire out, while the one’s flying at the back of the line honk to encourage those up front to keep up their speed. This team work leads to 71% greater flying range. If we all work to contribute than to just lead; if we all cheer each other than wanting to always be praised and if we all appreciate being accepted than just seek out attention, we could work like ants without stopping to look who is looking.

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The Short and Tall of Things

Have you ever been in a situation where you wanted something desperately and someone you know is getting it? A car, a new phone, materialistic things, a vacation, a good friend, a great life partner, amazing parents (especially when you’ve been grounded by your folks), friendly boss, an enthusiastic team, great network, fame and the list of the neighbour’s grass is endless. All of this you covet and feel like you deserved but was denied by some injustice on god’s part. 

Insecurity can hit anyone, I have my own insecurities and as per situation they keep surprising me. Everytime I’ve felt jealous I’ve only brought my whole life to the value of a single peanut size against someone’s mountains of peanut butter jars (that’s gold FYI). Why do I do this? ‘What makes me do this?’ is a better question to ask. What makes me think pitching my life against her and him and Jaya, Priya and Rahul, is completely fine?

It doesn’t feel any good when I’m thinking that way. I am usually content with what I have, it’s just tough when someone comes at me with their shiny new sword and pokes it into my eye. Even then, I wanted to be free of feeling so caught up in devaluing my own life’s journey. Was there a way to not get anxious? Yes! Don’t compare! Hitha Chandrashekhar my college mate, also a leading Kanada actress, said to me “Try feeling happy for them and try to be a part of their happiness.” That tip was worth trying when you’re conscious of you ‘looking at things in a jealous way’.

How do we land up in this feeling of quicksand in the first place? Can’t we be content 24/7 even when someone is trying to burry us in their heaps of glories? What’s this need to be better than the other? Survival Instinct? Competition is a debatable topic, there are so many perspectives to it. It’s not worth it when children are told to compare grades, height, memory power, dancing skills, other “good child” syndrome symptoms with other classmates or siblings. Its not survival instinct to use your neighbour as a yardstick to be better—it’s greed instinct. 

Imagine a row of ladders, every ladder a different height. You keep looking at the other person’s ladder and which rung she or he has reached. This observation is okay if it’s not an obsession. If you get hypnotised here, you may have a longer ladder reaching the clouds but, you will never reach it because you need to be at your neighbours level to compete with them. A healthier outlook would be to remember where you started and see yourself reaching out to the next you. 

On my first ten kilometre run I learnt that you don’t see the ten kilometres as your target you set shorter goals. May be a light pole, a tree or a dog lounging at two hundred metres and then the next and so on. Gradually you cover the distance, divided in parts using stationery object; not something which is running along with you. May be set goals and keep your old self as a light post you just run past. 

You could even be on the receiving end of jealousy. Some people are so transparent you can see they’ve worn jealousy for make up. How do you not be rude and tell them they need a touch-up. Please don’t underplay, you’re not doing them a service by showing them a rosy world which doesn’t exist. Get real, hand them a tissue and ask them why don’t they feel happy for you?

Reality is raw but life mostly just turns out exactly what you tell your mind about how you want it to turn out. So if someone’s telling you, you’re short or too tall, dark or too white, worthless or too pompous, ask them “who are you pitching me against?”, because I’m perfect just by myself. I didn’t do this when my friend’s grandmom made us stand shoulder to shoulder to check who is taller. I know of a few tall people who’ve had pills to stop their height I can imagine the trauma they’ve gone through. 

If you’re being this grandma then stop traumatizing people or telling their minds they need to feel small. If someone’s doing that to you then drown their voices out by reminding yourself- ‘your journey is your journey and you’ll get to be the dark chocolate peanut butter when it is your time’. Apna time aaega! 

P.S.missed watching Gully Boy, anyone coming with me? 

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To Woman’s Day or To Human’s Day

In India a girl child first fought to be alive; she faced a gender test when she hadn’t even taken her first breath. Then she faced Child marriage; forced arrangements at an age she didn’t even understand what it is to get her first periods. She fought for the right to education and learning. She fought for a right to work and equal pay, even when she gave results at par with all other genders. Where are we today? Where do we stand today? 

Once an old lady told me “a car cannot run with all the wheels on the rear end. A woman needs to do a woman’s job and a man has to look at the finance.” She didn’t intend wrong; she just comes from a different world. I come from a world where, as a teenager, I was asked to write my aspirations in block letters. From where I see “We can never be exclusively just one part of the car, role reversal and #sharetheload is the new normal. 

The idea of a woman fighting for a man’s right, in my opinion, is another burden we are letting ourselves carry. A man’s right is not a benchmark; I don’t mind better. I want to rise above this farce of treating woman empowerment/feminism as a trending agenda to be in the news. We are far ahead of the times when we had to fight only for woman’s rights. Injustice doesn’t work only in the light of gender inequality. Not just GIRL power, start cheering for each and everyone you think who is doing a great job. While appreciating men doesn’t make you less of a feminist; what does waiting for someone to pull your own chair make you? “Chivalry” should be dead anyway, pull your own chair. 

@masabagupta being herself not just a feminist

Feminism ‘the advocacy of women’s rights on the ground of the equality of the sexes.” by definition. – a concept which is hogging all the limelight, shadowing all other inequalities in our society.

What about all the other gender inequalities, the discrimination based on colour and orientation? Where is the tolerance India? We are not only a country of vernacular languages and cultures, we need to accept all skin shades, accents, body shapes, regional differences in thought process, standard of living and lifestyle differences. You could be body shamed by someone of the same gender. We are racists in our ways. The way we judge each other has stratified our society on so many levels and dimensions that, it feels like, we as a society think like a messed up Rubik’s cube which no one wants to solve. Technology may have everyone connected; but sadly, not altruistic. 

@sweatyswetha inspiring people everyday

Once in college I had taken part in a fest, it was a finance event. My team mate (who barely knew my name) causally said “Arey you won’t understand all this, its not up to your capacity.” I could assume he was “mansplaining” but I didn’t ask ‘Why did you say that?’; I didn’t stand up for myself that day. We need to start talking, sharing and confronting instead of assuming. 

We need to ask small questions, like ‘why?’. Is it safe to go anywhere we want at any time? Why is a house-wives’ job unpaid? Why is there a gender-role anyway? “Oh lady Driver!”: a passing comment. Eventually rise above it and ask bigger questions— ‘How are you contributing to a safer world?’, ‘What is the real impact of an objectifying item song on the common Indian psychology?’, ‘Why is there not an item song with male actors?’ and ‘Why was there a Maggi ban and no cigarette ban?’. I don’t celebrate Woman’s day, because I don’t see a day for any other gender. Or is it just a pacifier in all its glory? What in the world is ladies’ night? Why isn’t there a Gentlemens’ night at clubs? Why ‘no Stag-entry’?

If you’ve seen the movie Manikarnika, it screams of the power a woman possessed and how she changed history. She wasn’t fighting for body shaming and body image. She was fighting for independence. You’re not a boon by just being a woman; you’re not entitled to fame and recognition just for being a woman. You have to rise to the occasion and cause a change to be celebrated. “Because you’re worth it” only makes me want L’oreal to answer this- “Is it because of my gender that you think I am worth something and not because of my choices, my character, my thoughts and everything that makes up a human being?”

Feminists can be stereotyping too. “All men are ….” is a statement we have all heard. When we make such general statements we are saying something about ourselves. Shows who you are. Don’t go by the trend. What is beyond feminism anyway? Equalist?— someone who believes in equality at all levels, in every form and way that if someone asks me who you are, or who I am, the answer is only one: I am HUMAN. See beyond gender, see beyond stereotyping. 

I LIKE THIS NIKE Ad BETTER

FYI
World No Tobacco Day 2019- 31st of MAY – THAT’S worth it!
(Smoky Fact:There are approximately 120 million smokers in India. According to the World Health Organization (WHO), India is home to 12% of the world’s smokers. More than 10 million die each year due to tobacco in India.)

MUST WATCH TED TALK! ITS WORTH YOUR 5 min!
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When Curiosity Strikes

I thought I heard this girl scream a name as she flung the ball at the bowling pins. On my recent bowling game, I was very intently watching a few teenage girls play on the neighbouring lane; reminding me of my teenage years. They were dancing after every shot and were cheering for the others noisily even if it meant a humble score of five. I had just hit two gutters in a frame and would try anything to get back in the game, so I followed suit. I scooped the ball up and said someone’s name, who I believed in, under my breath. Gutter again! So the second attempt I picked it up and said my name “C’mon Sneha!”. It knocked off eight pins. 

Its hard to be confident sometimes, forget about believing in yourself. Some people fear getting over-confident and under-play it. Some have an unhealthy image about themselves. Some fear not being accepted if they be themselves. A few over-think it and miss the bus.  Why do we develop these notions and things that make us want to second guess our own abilities? Retrospection is good, but can it lead to over thinking? When do you know is the right time to jump into the rabbit hole and are you ever going to be ready? Alice wasn’t ready, but she was curious. 

Curiosity is like this tiny spark which pushes us into trying new things out and gives us the courage to go beyond our doubts. Without curiosity firing the minds of Thomas Edison, The Wright Brothers and Einstein, do you think they would overcome any of their insecurities and doubts? No. Curiosity is the key to getting out of the web of low self-esteem. Curiosity leads us to making an attempt and even when we fail, the curiosity sits like a spike on your chair; not letting you sit till you have an answer. It leads to inventions, revelation of ideas, and might lead to huge shifts in market. On a personal level it changes you to believe in yourself. Once you learn from your mistakes by feeding your curiosity, you get the knowledge of how not to do things. This knowledge feeds the curiosity— “How else then?” 

Believing in yourself doesn’t come naturally if you’ve not explored all your qualms and made some mistakes. Getting a few bad cakes, the first few times you bake, will make you a good chef; Getting a whole lot of bad batches, before you hit it off, will make you excellent. For baking the bad ones, you only have to go out there and attempt it. Fall and learn. 

Have you read about the man who gave up trying to go to the moon or who gave up trying a new recipe? There are no ballads about people who stopped trying. Even if you don’t want a song about you, you do want to live a meaningful life. So how do we end up unhappy sometimes with our situations? — we stop being curious. We have a split and we just roll the bowling ball down the lane hoping it hits at least one pin. We don’t ask “how do I get both?” Somewhere in our minds we shut ourselves from experiencing the answers, confrontations or any discomfort and don’t let our curiosity be expressed. 

Other times you have enough knowledge to back up your faith and you go ahead with feigning it. Affirmations is the ability to program your mind into believing. This is because the mind doesn’t know the difference between what is real or fantasy. You can make-believe yourself into thinking you’ve got this. That’s how people who lift three times their body weight, do it. Envisioning things mentally prepares you to have it; then when you work for it, it doesn’t seem like work. Of course back it up with knowledge, I don’t suggest you envision wings and try foolish things. 

What’s even more foolish is to think we know it all; that’s a place you don’t want to be in. Curiosity doesn’t live there and you might be proudly getting average scores and dying of insecurity inside. Get down, keep engaging in the same thing over and over till you’ve learnt. Then our scores will do the talking. 

We are programmed to see life through a certain filter. Through the influence of social media, news and politics, we like to see life through those pretty lenses. Sometimes our curiosity can become very clouded with questions that bring us in loop to the same answers. May be we keep asking the same question. If you keep testing a blue litmus with an acidic solution it will keep turning red. We have to use other tests. De-clutter, speak to people, get some air, travel, workout the creative side of your mind and see if you’re asking better questions. 

Confidence is then just an over coat that people see, and you don’t even realize. You only have the knowledge of having been there, done that; and that becomes a part of you that no one can take away: self belief. Knowledge is the only handle we need to pull and curiosity is the key. Even after all this you will have moments you won’t believe in yourself, because there is always scope for more learning, there is no end. Learning is the only curve we need to care about in our lives. So jump right in, scream your name out loud and throw the ball, watch it roll. 

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Vegan Brazilian Nut Truffle

(Serves 16 pieces)

(Vegan)

Cook Time: 45 min

**HEALTHY 

Ingredients

For the Filling
1 cup brazil nuts (120g)
2 tbsp peanut butter 
4 tbsp desiccated coconut + more for sprinkling
2 tbsp coconut oil (optional)
3 tbsp Date syrup  (or Jaggery Melted)
½ vanilla pod, seeds scraped out/ few drops vanilla essence
For the Chocolate coating
½ cup Melted chocolate (any Vegan chocolate bar) 

Steps

Filling
1. Start by adding your brazil nuts to a food processor.
Blitz them until they break down into a flour-like consistency.
Add in the rest of your ingredients and process until everything is well combined.
2. Once the mixture has reached a wet dough-like consistency pop it in the freezer for 15-20 minutes so it can set or else you might not be able to properly roll them out into balls.
3. The mixture should now be firm enough to handle, so line a tray with baking paper of cling film and, using your hands, roll out your mixture into balls and place them on the tray. Pop that back into the freezer for a few minutes so you can prep your chocolate shell (the heat from your hands will also cause it to soften a bit, and the colder the balls the better the shell will stick!)

Chocolate Coating
1. Use a double boiler and get the chocolate melted (I used 3 bars of Mason and Co Plain chocolate bar for this recipe).
2. Take out your truffles from the freezer and dip them in the chocolate sauce using a toothpick and place them back on the tray. After you’ve done all of them, sprinkle some shredded coconut on top an place them in the fridge for 30 minutes to set.
3. Transfer to an airtight container and try to not eat them all at once! Should last around 4 days in the fridge.

Please note: This is not my own recipe and this is an inspired and simplified Recipe from http://www.sprinkleofgreen.com/coconut-brazil-nut-truffles 

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Thoughts to words


When I was in the middle school I used to car pool with my cousins and everyday, as soon as I got even half of my bottom comfortable on the car seat, I would start with — “You know what happened today?” I had to blurt out everything. People said I had a small tummy, I couldn’t keep things inside. It would be stories about a girl putting maggi on someone’s head, Shirley throwing mud at my water bottle or Mrs. Christina aiming chalks on our forehead. Random. I knew my fellow passengers were not interested and that didn’t discourage me one bit. I loved talking; you won’t sense that if you’re a new person to me. If you know me, you’ll know I cannot seal my lips and my thoughts need to be transformed to words and given a direction.

From a talkative child to learning that silence is a good space sometimes; I still think conversations and language shape humans. Why do we humans have such a profound way of communicating and getting our information across to each other? No other living species have this power of understanding, memorizing and transferring information. We have evolved to the extent where we can talk to millions by just agressively typing through our phones.

I recently tried interacting on an app called Bumble! What? You’re judging me? I love a good insight or two. Conversations are the only way you can share anything and they lead to much learning. I didn’t meet too many interesting people on this though; it’s a phone application at the end of the day and I’m trying to cut my screen time. Honestly, an app is not the only place to find interesting people or mind-boggling conversations. I deleted it after two weeks. I’m sick of using gadgets, I could wrap my phone in newspaper and throw it in the sea, only it wont degrade.  

Wait! Are you reading this with people around you? I suggest you stop reading and get on with your parley. I see myself guilty too. Sometimes when I’m using my phone and suddenly I look up to find, I have let someone feel less important than a gadget. Eye contact is the single most important body language that shows you’re interested in a conversation. No! Not the creepy glue-eyed staring. The look-up-from-your-f-ing-phone eye contact. I miss the car-pool days where no one had phones and getting heard was not even a worry.

Sometimes I’m in a conversation which I want to leave. Like me, if you’re giving him/her the idea that you’re listening, popping your bubble— you’re lying to them. It’s not being ‘courteous’. The least you can do is politely leave the dialogue by excusing yourself. We have so many preferences in life but I see very few people have preferred conversations. Rambling on about your husbands, gossiping about barbaric loudmouths on some television coffee shows, interest in how your neighbour’s grandchild got into trouble, news feed on insignificant individuals leaving the gym in sponsored fitness wear, and the likes. Do we ever use the weighing scale to value our conversations? The judgement in our courts need to be just and true; what about the judgement of our conversations? Are you calling yourself in the dock for the choice of your words?

So conversations need to have direction. ‘What questions you ask’, ‘how you answer the questions posed on you?’, ‘what you choose to let pass’, ‘how you gauge the intension of the speaker and how you subtly get your intentions across’- these questions compass the talk. You can’t and shouldn’t be too mindful all the time but if you be a little conscious it helps in keeping the coasts clear of any unwanted boats.

If you know me for a long time you’ll know I’m not that car-pooling person anymore. I do have moments of that inner child but I don’t feel the need to keep yammering. Let silence do the talking and in between add some words. The funnier the words the better.

We can have a conversation with ourselves and that’s the most important conversation of all. I was in my room once revolving on the wheely three sixty degree chair, my favourite thing to do while studying. My sister came and paused at the door. I didn’t seem to notice her, but she was observing me having an intense conversation with myself. After a good actual-Maggi-minutes she burst out laughing. I learnt that not everyone talk to themselves. Please sit down alone once in a while and have a conversation out loud. Look into the mirror and say Hi! Write letters to yourself- I just did on this website- https://www.futureme.org/letters/public. Journal in locked notes. It will all make your words thoughtful and then every conversation you have will change your life.


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Head over ‘Heals’

 Part I -“Heal-arious as can be

(Part II) 

We all love adventures in our own ways and every time you put yourself out there, you learn something and you will dirty your hands, get hurt, break a limb and lose an eye (okay may be not that drastic). A cell is a world in itself and it can divide and multiply. The whole process replaces old cells and this causes physical healing in our bodies. All the elements are natural healers and our body is meant to heal when the elements are well balanced. Small things you can incorporate daily to achieve this:

  1. Greenery: Our eyes are the only part of the body that never grow in size from birth to death. It is almost telling us “To look at the world the same way as when we didn’t understand anything.” That’s when we had most amount of common sense. Being in the centre of the spectrum, green is the colour of balance, which strikes the eye in such a way as to require no adjustments. Therefore, seeing green colour helps your eyes quickly recover from strain. Forest bathing (shinrin-yoku) is a thing in Japan, where people connect with the natural forest atmosphere and this nature therapy is a cornerstone of preventive healthcare. Just being and immersing ourselves in nature can cure us and keep us healthy. 
  2. Physical movement: Why didn’t I say exercising? For healing just getting your body moving is enough. You can dance, jump about or walk or just do some cleaning. Physical activity is essential because our bodies were meant to move and not be stationary and glued to our chairs and couches. If you move enough everyday and don’t have a sedentary lifestyle you would recover (if you fell sick, or had a health issue) sooner than some one who is a couch potato. Mental health improves by just getting yourself some exercise. 
  3. Laughing: There are plenty of live comedy shows, comedy movies, hilarious reads and Netflix comedy series. Endorphins are released in our bodies, everytime we laugh, increasing our body’s production of antibodies and T-cells that fight off disease and boost our immune system. A strong immune system is essential to healing. Funnier people definitely have it easier in life. So make sure you get some laughter in everyday, it’s the most fun way to heal. 
  4. Good bacteria: Gut health is not a new topic and there is more awareness today about good bacteria that they make up ninety percent of our body. We can incorporate fermented food in our diets and avoid antibiotics which destroy good along with bad bacteria. Fermented foods like sauerkraut, kimchi, pickles, ACV, Coconut vinegar, Beetroot Kvaas, Kombucha and Rice-cake(Idli) batter is what I’ve tried. Gut health also improves with exposure to different bacteria, from pets like dogs, travelling to different countries and farming and playing in the mud. So pick up that spade and start gardening in your backyard. 
  5. Animals: How does cuddling your dog feel? It’s a boon that we have so many animals, still not extinct and we can co-exist and benefit each other. Yes, gut health does improve with having pets at home but this link will surprise you how some animals can even heal you. This link has so many interesting facts: https://www.goodnet.org/articles/5-animals-incredible-healing-powers-list. We have a symbiotic relationship with so many animals. Humans can really connect with other species, we hardly see a goat and cow hugging each other but humans can do that with so many of the domestic species. A research reveals that those who rear cats and dogs have healthy hearts as compared to their counterparts. If you don’t have pets make sure you meet your neighbour’s once in a while. 
  6. Early morning Sunlight: As the famous health adage goes: everything in moderation. And sunlight is NO exception. In moderate amounts, exposing our skin to sunlight on a regular basis—especially a daily basis—can have numerous and immense benefits on some surprising facets to our health. The Vitamin D bit everyone is already aware, but sunlight can helps cure seasonal depression, improve the immune system. The human eye contains photosensitive cells in its retina, with connections directly to the pituitary gland in the brain. Stimulation of these important cells comes from sunlight, in particular, the blue unseen spectrum. Taking a peek outside at the dawn’s first sunlight is a habit worth implementing.
  7. Doing something new: Learning a new language or a new skill, even doing a new activity helps the brain cells produce new neural pathways and electrical connections. This helps the white matter remain dense and healthy, increasing the ability to do learn faster and heal fast. Its important we stimulate our brain with new experiences every week if not everyday. Monotony can reduce the brains capacity and in the long run lead to dementia. Prevention is better than cure and we can do our bit in maintaining the health. 
  8. Sleeping well: Sleeping repairs your body like nothing else. Resting is different, you’re conscious and awake when resting. Sleep stops most of the functions in your body and only the involuntary systems are functioning. Your brain also gets rid of 60 percent more toxins when you get the proper amount of sleep. Wounds heal faster when we sleep. I sometimes try to sleep off a flu and it works. So get at least 7-8 hours of sleep. Good night.

Happy Healing

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Strawberry Jam

Serves – 2 small Jars

(no sugar)

Cook time: 40 min

**Healthy **Vegan

Ingredients

1 box of strawberry 
1/2 a lemon squeezed (no seeds)
1/2 cup melted jaggery

In a wide bowl, crush strawberries in batches until its completely mashed. transfer to a heavy bottomed saucepan, add melted jaggery, and lemon juice and set it boiling. Stir over low heat until the sugar is dissolved. Increase heat to high, and bring the mixture to a full rolling boil. Continue to boil for 15 minutes and till then find a good glass jar and sterilise it in boiling hot water. Transfer to hot sterile jars, leaving 1/4 to 1/2 inch headspace, and seal. Ready to go into the refrigerator. Last you easily for 3 months without any other ingredient. (I urge you to read the label of the store bought Jams once)

  • To test for jelling: Place three plates in a freezer… after about 10 minutes of boiling place a tsp of the liquid of the jam onto the cold plate. Return to freezer for a minute. Run your finger through the jam on the plate… if it doesn’t try to run back together (if you can make a line through it with your finger) it’s ready to be canned

This is an inspired and tweaked recipe from Allrecipes.com

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Heal-arious as can be

When I was in school I fell on the field, in the corridor, on the paved ground, stoned areas, in the class and even tripped over nothing. The skirt and pinafore didn’t help with the knees either. My knees and elbows always had scratches and wounds. The school nurse even asked me once while applying tincture “Why did you fall again?” in her loud angry voice. They all healed though; every one of them. The scar would stay for a bit but eventually new skin cells replaced the old ones and now no one can tell I was a reckless child. 

Just like a wound every other part of our body, made up of living cells, are meant to heal. The body heals on its own and how?

I would love to share a few healing tips that I’ve incorporated in my life. Skip the ones you feel are ‘extra’ for you, but try them all. 

  1. Resting: This is most under-rated in the hustle hustle outlook of people today. Sadhguru on resting, “If your relaxation is not of good quality, your work will not be of good quality.” I had a back injury a while back and my physiotherapist recommended complete rest. It was 80 percent better within a day’s time. The best way to get off a cold and flu is ample amount of rest. Without popping a pill and just giving your body the rest it needs is what I see so many people sort to these days. 
  2. Fasting: Fasting is the resting of your digestive system. It is really like a system reboot in the body and it helps the in improving stomach health, healing other parts of the body and even keeps you alert. There’s intermittent fasting, Dry fasting, seasonal fasting and other types. Thanks to my mother I’ve been intermittent fasting all my life. I read about this concept only recently, and it works like magic. I recommend you go through what Luke Coutinho has to share about fasting, he explains it the best and he’s a certified nutritionist. 
  3. Breathing: Did you take a deep breath after reading that? I’ve caught my breathing taking casual pauses like its waiting for me to notice. I have heard a few people have cured hormonal imbalances by just following Yogic breathing techniques; Pranayama. I haven’t tried this in a disciplined way, but everytime I’ve done Anulom Vilom it has made me feel alert. Fresh air is essential to life and holding a good posture almost makes it natural to take deep breaths. Correcting posture can correct the breathing to be involuntarily smooth. To be a little extra: You could try the balloon technique in the following link: https://www.sonima.com/fitness/email-apnea/ .
  4. Meditating: I am more acquainted with this now, and written vastly about meditating in my previous articles. Meditating can heal your mind, body and emotional state magically. It takes discipline and consistency to reach there but its definitely something each human being was born to do. We have evolved to depend on different sources of energy outside; electricity, internet, wifi; but the real source of energy is life and when we meditate we focus on that. We are inbuilt with this “soul energy”, we just have to focus and tap into it. 
  5. Salt: Yes, Epsom salt baths is trendy if you haven’t tried it yet and the new thing is to buy Himalayan pink salt Lamps! I have been using hot salt potli’s to recover sore muscles and muscle cramps. (heat the salt in a pan, put it in a handkerchief and tie a knot so it doesn’t spill, ready!) This heals the fastest! “The cure for anything is salt water: sweat, tears or the sea.”— Isak Dinesen. Learn about Salt healing from this article :http://www.asianage.com/health-fitness/healing-power-salt-101
  6. Copper: Copper bottles have been fashionable for a while now without the science behind it getting famous. Just like our other trends. Copper has anti-microbial properties and it helps in the absorption of iron. As per our Ancient Indian Ayurveda it is an element that helps in balancing our doshas. Again cautious use of this element can restore hormonal health and other imbalances can be corrected. 
  7. Tisané: Herbal teas were used as a medicine in so older civilizations. People thought it is witchcraft, but they were just our garden herbs. ‘Tisané over Chai‘ has a few herbal tea infusions you can read on the website. ‘More Tisané’ will be published very soon keep an eye out. Herbs are mother nature’s potpourri which we have at our disposal. 

TO BE Contd…

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Rasam

(Serves- 5 cups)

Cook Time: 30 min

**HEALTHY 

Ingredients:

PART A
5 glasses water
4 big tomatoes chopped into 8 pieces
15 cloves garlic grounded finely
Handful coriander stems grounded fairly
2-teaspoon pepper ground it finely
2-teaspoon jeera ground finely
(*Heat the pepper and jeera together in a deep pan for about 4 min, then ground it together in a mortar piston) 
1-cup imli water (imli dipped in hot water)
Half-teaspoon turmeric powder
PART B
6-7 cloves garlic ground fairly
4 long dry red chili
10-15 curry leaves
1 spoon rai 
2-teaspoon oil (I used coconut oil)
 

STEPS

PART A
Boil the water, add the cut tomatoes. Once its completely boiled reduce the water into a deep saucer, and smash the tomatoes with a smasher. Add the water back and add garlic, coriander, pepper, jeera, imli water and turmeric powder.
Let it boil.
 
PART B
Heat the oil in the deep saucer, add rai once its hot enough. Once the rai pops add dry chili, curry leaves and garlic.  Sauté for about 2 min till flavor is strong. 
 
Final step add the tomato water in the chownk. Add Part A to Part B then stir for about 15 min till it’s a bit thicker. Then add 2 teaspoon Salt or as per requirement and stir.
 
Strain the whole concoction and serve with a coriander leaf floating on top! Lol
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Map It

A while back the idea of having a new year resolution didn’t make sense to me. I have shared the idea of having monthly goals and weekly goals that you can keep up with. Not wait for new year to start or a Monday to start something new. Also it didn’t have to be too serious, we could definitely make it fun. What if you did want to achieve something important and get results? Result is the key word that runs behind you like trouble. Everyone is looking for results and resolutions don’t give you results. Resolution is a decision you make and decision is not an action; only actions can give you results.

Decisions are a stand you are set to take. You do need a plan to start acting on your decisions. If you set out on a marathon, you always have a plan and your training that gets you through. When you cook something, you generally follow a good recipe and have the necessary tools and ingredients to make it. When you construct a building, you have an architectural drawing and the team of contractors ready to put it in action and bring it to reality. Anything that needs to be created comes from a thought and it needs to have a direction. There has to be action in that direction, consistently as planned. 

Seems like work? That’s what results are made of: work. Resolutions are not a quick fix solution; they are just the vision which tells you where you’ve decided to go. Now you need to set the navigation map to the destination and find out the route. Follow the route and get to your destination. You consider the time, the mode of travel, distance and other factors like traffic. You need that plan if you’re deciding to do something. 

The bigger the resolution the more the planning and team support would be needed. You cannot go alone into something that is not a one man’s show. Make sure you know what you’re doing and if not get the help. I see many people follow social media health experts and buy fancy teas to lose weight. If you are looking at getting fit, design the blueprint; talk to your family and friends about helping you through it; get more aware about the journey and get hold of expert opinions to give you the best and smoothest route to your destination. All this will give you the confidence to see it come through. It won’t look like work if you’ve planned well. Executing a good plan is always more fun than work and the idea is to have fun.

Sometimes the map could get you to stuck on roads under construction or a sudden accident which is unforeseen. An injury could get you stranded on your fitness journey; heavy rains could stop the construction work; a relative’s health going bad could get you held up and miss out important meetings. All this but you don’t give up on reaching the destination right? If you are on a road trip would you turn the car and go back if you had a flat tire? Or fix it and have a lay over if needed but get there nonetheless. We are eager to continue on the plan and reach the destination. 

Here comes the reality check. If you turned your car and went back home, you never intended to get the results in the first place. So please make resolutions only for which you care about and the results you are desperate to get. If it is a casual feeling and not having the result doesn’t really matter—then that’s just an influenced resolution. What is it you authentically want? — only gets clear when you get down to planning for it. So have a plan don’t depend just on “Sheer Dumb Luck”.

The real reason people fail their resolutions and goals, even if it matters, is they don’t plan for it. Make planning more fun: have planners, monthly lists, weekly checklist, daily to do list and reminders, post its, mental affirmations. My Physics teacher, Mrs. Christine Peter always encouraged us to doodle all over our text books. I realized the importance of it now. Visual memory: you’ll not have to keep looking back, you’ll remember it like you’ve mapped it. So draw, colour and scribble all over your to-do list and planners. Personalize your plans, intensely love the planning phase and the execution will be a cakewalk. Have fun planning: have your cake and eat it too.


Watch the below videos for further assistance in getting that Goal achieved! Must watch and have fun while you’re at it.

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Time out

I have so many thoughts playing on my head as to what I need to do next. “You cannot ‘not-be-working’”, “You are wasting time”, “People are going to ask you what’s next and you need to know what to say”, “Do you really need this?” and “Trust me it will do you good”. Majority of them are just getting me anxious for being on a break. 

Have you heard of the concept of break year? So I have a few friends who have taken a break year or break months, where they are not working anymore, not studying and have nothing in mind for the present. I am on a break period and its been two weeks. The anxiety could be lethal. I’m scared to admit that I’m taking a break. The whole purpose of it, being a break, is defeated because mentally I’m just constantly fretting.

@buddhadoodles on Instagram

(A deep breath in, sigh)

If you can sense the millionth of a milli second and have control of what you think, see, do, speak, move, anything that flows or moves in that split of time; (sort of like Matrix) what would you want to do? What is it you would want to spend your time doing if you had just that much time left with you? Its tough to say what I would want to do but I know exactly the things I would not want to be doing. Not using my phone tops the list, rather choose doing nothing.

Productivity is so drilled into us; we need to prove we are busy all the time. We are taught the concept of time management, and the more work we get done in the twenty-four hours, the better we are considered. Have you heard songs where they build up and then suddenly break it off to a complete rest for a beat and play again. If you play a musical instrument, you would know that the rest is equally important if not more. Going with the beats, placing the notes where the fall and rest when we don’t play a note. Even the notations have a sign for rest. 

I’m working on a new vegetable garden and I want to share something I learnt about the soil in agriculture. You plough the land, sow the seeds, let it go through the process and reap the harvest. For the next sowing season, you have to let the soil rest. The longer the rest the better for the soil to build up good bacteria and micro organisms, and the richer the soil. Nature has many things to teach us if we look closely. Being busy depletes us of our creative energy, passion, the drive, proactive attitude; it all gets used up to grow our plants. Once we reap some benefit, we have to get back all these good bacteria and micro organisms, which comes back with good rest. 

In school we always got a Christmas break and Summer holidays. No work during these breaks. Once you’re in the “Corporate world” the golden word is “Hustle”. What about the maximum stress that a human mind can be subjected to? Doctors will prescribe you drugs, and others- workout, diets and innumerable suggestions for stress related disorders. I thought prevention was better than cure. I would love to see people understand work management and rest management, leisure being the tougher one to manage in a fast paced environment.

I had asked a friend once, when we met, “What are you doing now?” and I was quite surprised when she confidently said “Nothing!”. Now I clearly understand why she respected what she was doing even if no one else was and she wasn’t afraid of saying it out loud. “An Idle mind is the devil’s playground” heard that one. Busy minds don’t give new ideas, may be devil’s playground is a good thing after all. Its only when we stop and breathe, in our moments of relaxation, we get all the good insights. For a muscle to grow after tearing, for the dough to rise once kneaded, for stains to be removed through soaking, and for human minds to think in its full potential; REST.


If by Rudyard Kipling: A poem I want to live by