10 Things That Did Not Make Me Hit Publish in 2016

Nothing works like lists. How about 10 things that did not make me hit publish this year so far? Now that I check, nothing made me hit publish this year; the last post here was in December 2015. I hear the sigh of gladness followed by the thud of ground reality as you realize the respite was short-lived. 

My new sleep cycle

I began this year with a sleep schedule of less than 4 hours a day, and sleeping after the call to Fajr prayers. It took me over six months to get my waking schedule to where I could manage 5-6 hours, but again, during the day. My love for all things narcos extends to the mothership herself, and my struggles to optimize rest and productive time make for a whole series of posts. But every time I found time to write, I chose to sleep. Hitting publish didn't even show up in my dreams.

Our new home

 We moved out of Punjagutta after 8 years. Those 8 years were something if nothing else. We ended 2015 closing down many of the things we had worked on for years, and chose to move to the outskirts, to escape the pollution and water shortage in the city center. We found a place we liked, scraping our budget, but as fate would have it, life determined we needed to stay in the area. We had less than two weeks to find another place, one that had to meet several requirements, including proximity to work, water and air quality. Madhavi, Devank and I turned gypsy again as we scouted places. We found one with a few days to spare, just enough for the landlord to put a few essential finishing touches. It is a wonderful, airy, bright, welcoming place, and we did all we could think of (and afford) to make it ready for Mom and Dad. I thought of writing about this, but we wanted Mom and Dad to see it first.

Beef. With. Beef.

To make up for the absence of the traditional November post, here is a fabricated one.


Hearing about revolts against a state chief by someone reportedly planning to hop party lines to join another state chief who enjoys food as long as it is oily, spicy and meat with lashings of beverage to wash it down with. Even when fasting for good causes. The catch is that the issue in question is beef. The trouble is that beef as in cow slaughtered for purpose of eating or making belts and wallets out of is legally permitted only in a few states out of the many in the country. This makes the entire furore over beef eating as an offense in states with strict laws and highly regulated animal slaughter industries somewhat self defeating if not clearly fabricated, from the perspectives of religion as well as animal rights. And we haven’t started talking about carbon yet. Or the plaque in our collective arteries. But then, sitting in the city of pearls and politesse, where kebab, biryani, roti and a tala hua are the order of the day, beef with beef gets beefy sometimes.

I wholeheartedly support the movement against beef. If we all can take this brave step of ridding our selves of complaints and grievances, we will be creating a truly wonderful world. What way better to do this than by making having beef (or being the cause for someone else to have beef) punishable? This will be executed by a futuristic, Minority-Reportish thought police. I’m guessing.

Social media flotsam. (Don't know who took this picture but will be glad to credit if you let me know. )

So you wake up in the morning, realize it is Monday, and woosh! Charged under section so and so for having beef, first with the boss, then with all of commerce, and then with his own wife in the early hours of... Or you look at your tax calculations, and excuse me, that was like an admission to a few decades of beef. Off we go. To that which is and that which may yet be.

Other than beef with beef as something not befitting a nonviolent compassionate way of life, I have big beef with a whole other lot of things. Other than beef with beef that is. And carbon and grilled food. Resistance to low-rise urban expansion for example. Apathy that government after government display towards basic welfare of the people. Intrusion of commerce into your dinnertime television and your morning dump.

Paris 13/11

Days when all a poet can do is not enough
Dreams, leaves and blame best left to hawks
Bells toll you haven’t done what you meant to do
What you were meant to do. All a poet.

You and I our dawn-staggered lives
You and I unname ungodly names
You and I our million things to hide
And a million commercial breaks.

Pointless censure, pointless remorse
Pointless parade of muddied souls
Condemned condemning themselves
An important hurtful circus. All a poet.

(A tribute to all the world leaders who so eloquently responded to the 13/11 Paris Terror Attack)

Festive Shopping Best Practices

Gifting and getting new things for your loved ones, the home and yourself for the festive months are joyous stressors that make life more interesting. I prefer stores and showrooms to shopping online as I get to watch people, beautiful, happy, shoppy people, at-wits-end men hanging on to bags while the missus cannot make up their minds, unbridled, bouncy kids, housewives driving stiff bargains with determined, oily foreheads, parking space battles, a veritable mile-sur-mera-tumhara of languages and ethnicities, and most importantly, the amazing selling strategies and skills of the traders.  Online shopping is usually always cheaper, no noise, no crowd, no check-out queues, but lacks the human warmth and complexity that brick-and-mortar festive shopping oozes.

Online or offline, shopping right without being wasteful or foolish is a big mountain. The challenge compounds as your budget gets larger and larger year to year. So let me give in to my seasonal jejune urge to share my wisdom. Here are my 7 Tips  To Avoid Common Mistakes During Festive Shopping.

Do share your tips and experiences and let me know what you thought of the post.

Four Financial Milestones To Reach By Age 30

My favorite season is in the wings. Like first cups of new tea, each day teases me into looking deeper at things we live with. To lead happier lives, to eliminate the poisons of greed, anger and ignorance, to get things done with as little stress and waste as possible, to reduce the errors of our ways and to help Dev learn what is worthy.

The richness of our world is reason for hope.

Money, how we acquire it, what we use it for, and the price we are ready to pay for it is central to much of our pursuit of a simpler, more responsible life. Both right livelihood and right conduct come into play when it comes to money. More on that some other time.

One of our challenges during these last few years has been to try and catch up with our milestones after hitting a few financial dead ends. If I were able to relive my 20s again, there would be a couple of things I would be gunning for.

Read my post on Four Financial Milestones To Reach By Age 30 over at the MoneyView blog.

Read the full post>>

How To Avoid Common Money Mistakes

Money and saving money is often the most important goal for many if not most people. Financial hardships, debts and bankruptcy are just as important a reality for perhaps just as large a number of us. Strange, huh? Most people wake up to financial challenges when they are already nicely at home. Like embarrassing relatives, they sit around, reminding you of bills and groceries. The good news is that with a bit of foresight and planning, most personal finance meltdowns can be kept really, really far.

The principles are simple, create a money roadmap, make your family money-literate, and understand the nature of debt. You might be half nodding your head at some, but chances are you need to start acting right away.  Read the detailed how to avoid common personal finance mistakes post at the MoneyView blog.

New, Improved, Same Old Art

Sunday mornings, up with the lark, photographing my latest crop of paintings, drinking mystic tea, and waiting for Dev to wake up and take over everything. My third set is ready to set sail. Do let me know what you think of them.

Devil King of the Sixth Heaven 2015, 8" x 10" Oil on Canvas, unmounted

Mara has been called the devil king of the sixth heaven in the teachings of Shakyamuni and the writings of Nichiren Daishonin. The sixth heaven is the ultimate selfish manifestation of desire, or the Heaven of Freely Enjoying Things Conjured by Others, and its ruler delights in manipulating others to submit to his will. In my pursuit of art, it also pertains to the resistance to paint or draw or write for that matter. In Buddhism, devils indicate those functions that block or hinder people’s efforts to complete their Buddhist practice, including propagating the teachings.

Man, Child and Door 2015, 8" x 11" Oil on Canvas, unmounted

The last two years have been the most wonderful time of our lives, with each other and with the coming of Dev. It has been a time of doors - opening, closing, as our inner landscapes evolve. We have been fortunate to be able to spend all our time together over this time, and many a times, the canvas and the brush would decide that is what it wanted to become.

Self Portrait 2015, 8" x 10" Oil on Canvas, unmounted

Studying art marketing with my agent has been fun, fun, fun. It turns out Buddha faces are the easiest to sell. But then, I don't have a clue what Buddha looked like beyond the one I see every morning in the mirror.

View of Tirumala Hills 2015, 10" x 8" Oil on Canvas, board-mounted

I am an out and out Tirupati obsessive, I love the place, the energy and the healing nature all around. This time, I quickly made notes of what I was seeing and tried to paint it.

Windows Vista 2015, 8" x 11" Pencil and Ink on Paper, unmounted
My homage to the information highway, online holiday planning, the Hyderabad metro rail, and to all 50 million plus displaced people (not counting the pigeons of course) on this planet who wonder what their next step should be.

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