Tea December

'The situation is like the joints in a piece of bamboo: if one joint is ruptured, then all the joints will split.'

I have been doing my best to imbibe this spirit for quite a while, and I sit to write this post with a balance of gratitude and determination. After nineteen months of living precariously, in December (provided everyone pays up) I would have for the first time sustained myself and my family through my earnings as a writer. I entirely write what I am driven to (which rules out a lot of stuff), and for me, this is a big achievement. If there is one thing that has made it possible, it is the faith, patience, strength, support and love of my family.


There have been several breakthroughs in terms of blogging and writing, most of which I have shared with you here. These include blogging awards, traffic milestones, and of course, extremely heartening interactions with fellow bloggers. For those who are chancing upon this blog for the first time, you might enjoy my "Greatest Hits of 2012" post that I did recently. Back to the subject of this post.

In December, I witnessed the fruition of eight long years of planning to share my love for fine tea with the world. This is the first step towards my dream of – some would call it true welfare state, others would call it world peace and happiness – let’s say, humanity. It is, for those who have missed on my babble on this earlier, an online curated catalog of premium tea. It is the finest tea that you can lay your hands on, and this is just the beginning.

Greatest Hits of 2012

2012 has been a good year for me and my family, (I promise to do a post on that soon) and as I look back on my writing during the year, I feel sufficiently gratified. Sufficiently at least to live through the quizzical faces when I say I write, or when I say I do not have a business card, or when I say that I write in order to "save the world." Sufficiently for me to "keep at it." Bad luck for those who were hoping otherwise.


This time last year, I was excited about embarking on a fresh departure, trying to fulfill some of my longstanding dreams. What I did not know then was how much time, effort, and patience the journey would demand from me. What is amazing is that I have not regretted a single step of the way, that I have largely not been found wanting, and that I have not given up. To a large extent, this blog and readers like you have been responsible for that. Without your love and encouragement, I would not have had the courage to plod on. And if I have faltered, I beg forgiveness from six crore Gujaratis.

5 Ways to Practice Gratitude in an Insane World

As the "end of the world" descends upon us, I have begun dreading the morning papers. Every day brings stories of inhumanity and mayhem to my doorstep. You cannot avoid it anywhere, at the workplace, on social media or at the bus stop. It would appear that we have lost all perspective on what is normal and healthy and what is insane and sick. How do we keep the faith - in our society, in our governance, in our selves, in such times?

sandy hook funeral
Image from NBC website (msnbc.com)

It is my privilege to share with you a post attempting to answer this question written for Subho's Jejune Diet by Aarathi Selvan. A practitioner of holistic psychotherapy, Aarathi is also a "mommy blogger" at Between Life's Doings, one of the nicest blogs on mindfulness I have ever read. Over to +Aarathi Selvan 
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I live with the fact that the mental health services provided at my place of work can be against my philosophy of care. I also live with the reality of leaving my little one at home in the care of others who absolutely love her, while I work towards a better world for myself and others, and yet at the same time yearn for and miss her. I live with the knowledge that small children are shot dead and slit open in schools around the world. In a world that may look like it is going to pieces every day, in a life which seems to have more downs than ups, finding sanity, grace and peace seem like such an effort.

And an effort it is, to find peace, sanity and grace amidst life’s difficulties. Evolutionary psychologists will tell you that we are wired to look out for what is wrong in a situation rather than what is going well. Our survival depends of making sure that we scan for negative things in our circumstances. It is but natural to have that bent of mind then, to look at and focus on the negative side of life and life situation. However, Buddhist psychology seems to gently put our fears to rest. In the words of the Pema Chodron, this negative view of the world is merely "an innocent misunderstanding that we all share, something that can be turned around, corrected, and seen through, as if we were in a dark room and someone showed us where the light switch was."

The route to action, the route to looking at life with a balanced view, the way to look at my own circumstance without being bogged down by all that is negative around me, the way for me is through gratitude. Being grateful for the good in my life and being grateful for the difficult, miserable and hard things in my life. Gratitude helps me look back with a realistic lens that both good and bad have happened in my life, and I was able to find the “good” (e.g. My strengths as well as others’) within the “bad”. Gratitude also helps me look at right now with a view of mindful awareness of the “good” and “bad” in my situation. Martin Seligman, the father of positive psychology swears by gratitude as one of the most important tools to develop a happy life and to beat depression and anxiety, two of the oft occurring mental illnesses in the world.

Gratitude is a daily practice of being thankful for the gifts of life, for being thankful for both joys and sorrow that make us fully human. When you start a gratitude practice, the key is to partake in it every evening for two weeks at least (you will eventually get hooked). It is important to stick to it in order to gradually change the way our mind is bent towards focusing on the negative.

Decode My Grocery List

I went to bed late last night after losing my sleep over the shooting at Newtown. My day began with an online shopping experience that I thought deserved a post, to help me overcome the bitterness of our environment!

It was 7 a.m., still chilly. My groceries were delivered at my doorstep by a shiny pair of young men, neatly sorted (the items, not the men) into category wise trays, from an online order we placed a couple of days earlier, specifying this morning since we expected to run out of veggies by just about now. Accompanied by a categorized bill.


As a large number of you live in Hyderabad, you might want to try this out. They also service Mumbai and Bangalore. I ordered leafy greens and a small range of common veggies, along with some grains and staples and a few household articles, roughly enough for a week of eating. I did not have reason to order fresh livestock and dairy but which I would think would meet the quality requirements judging from my current experience. The products were all fresh, select, clean and neatly packed. The prices are comparable to local store prices and there are discounts and offers even on veggies. In many cases, their prices are lower than the lowest supermarket prices.

The Right to Make Copies

For those who are not accustomed to my obscure and annoying ways, a disclaimer. This post, though being written on the 28th anniversary of one of the most vicious violations of human rights, is not about the Bhopal tragedy. I used this disturbing image not just so that we do not forget about what arrogance can lead to but also because 1. it is not mine, but by a photographer called Pablo Bartholomew, and I am reproducing it without his permission 2. I believe that human tragedy is a lesson to learn from and 3. because this is the outcome of corporatization and commercialization of human knowledge - tragedy without accountability. This post is about reclaiming that which was always ours but has been stolen from us by the concept of mine.

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I get up in the morning, go through all the updated blogs of my friends, and make a list of facts and ideas that I can use for a post of my own. Sometimes, it works. At other times, it is frustrating, especially during blogging contest season, which in the recent past has been almost once a month. It is terrible to wake up and find everyone writing the same stuff. One of the good ones (in terms of copying) has been the recent ideas and outline for a real love story. This has everything that one can ask for. Many of the ideas are great, they are all supposed to be factual. A treasure-house for diligent copiers like me. Okay, I lie. Some of the ideas are great.

What about copyright and social boycott, you ask? That is there, but I cannot be any more socially boycotted than I already am, given my views on all things dear to most people, and as far as copyright goes, well, it goes. Here is a publishing house and a bloggers platform telling you to share your facts and ideas on your blog, taking care only to leave the climax out. Where is the problem if I use them? And for better or worse, I don’t need a lot of help with a climax. (Note to self: Post that love story before it shows up as someone else’s idea.)

Like. Love. Life.

One can spend a lifetime in love without knowing how to truly love another. One can spend a lifetime trying to find love in possessing or belonging. One can spend. One can love to repair. One can be the rogue that another loves to repair. One can build walls of institutions to hold on to what one believes is one’s own. One can break walls so that new walls can be built only to be broken down again. One can bruise and cling and ache and still not know the freedom that lies beyond.


Sometimes a bell rings or a bird sings outside your window or a traffic light changes and you do not notice. Sometimes you do. Sometimes, like a dream within a dream, no matter how hard you are shaken you do not awaken. Sometimes it takes another person to wake you up to who you were meant to be. Sometimes, life waits and waits and waits. Sometimes a bell rings.

Love like oceans can drown you in delusion or reef you till you glimpse the rocks you are about to be smashed down upon. Love like deserts can hypnotize you with its beauty till you parch and slip knowingly into the reality of your delirium. Love like mountains can be humbling. Love can show you how helpless and small you are before its greatness.

On this wonderful day, I give thanks to life for teaching me with love.

4 Easy Gourmet Non-Vegetarian Recipes

The festive season is getting thicker and thicker, and I have been wondering what I can put out to express my thankfulness for all the wonderful things that my life is made up of. Most of you know how much I love food (Subho's Jejune Diet, remember?) so I thought I will put together some of my older recipe links in one place for you to browse and choose from. Enjoy.


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When it comes to a special meal, or when friends or family are visiting, and you feel like cooking something special, do you wonder what to cook? Do you go online to search for recipes? Maybe in your RSS reader items or in your bookmarked pages? Well I do! In spite of having a fair collection of cookbooks, food magazines, crumbly newspaper clippings of recipes, oil-stained heirloom notebooks and scraps of jottings, I still look up gourmet food blogs and recipes on the internet when it comes to making something special. Not surprising, since the internet actually evolved out of a recipe sharing network by the wives of the scientists working on the ARPANET project!! Look it up, I kid you not.

The only problem is that the really gourmet recipes out there are terribly elaborate and complicated recipes, with way too many stages and steps, and the simple four-step ones ones, well, they don’t quite exude that “special” feeling. The common understanding of a festive Indian meal also means several dishes, with a preface and an afterword. It really is challenging to come up with a simple, one dish and an accompaniment meal that will be remembered for being really special.

As I wrote in my post on Frugal Living Healthy Eating, living simply doesn’t have to mean a life of abstinence and self denial. The same principle applies in the case of recipes. Special does not have to mean complicated, and even complicated doesn’t have to be complicated if you can break it down to main processes and plan ahead a little.

Here are four meat recipes, all borrowed or handed down, that you can use to impress anyone. With a little tweak they work equally well with fowl and lamb. They are simple and unique, perfect for a special occasion. Your guests will go home convinced you spent hours in the kitchen and that you are a closet cordon bleu samurai. Try them and let me know how they turn out.

How SJD Got Kissed, Got Wild, and Still Remains a Handsome Frog

What is it that makes one blog gain huge readership while another equally well written one languishes? What makes one particular post on a blog go viral while others on the same topic don’t attract any attention? Why do significant numbers of people read blogs that are in the underdog category, while blogs that are in the more popular categories like food, fashion, and technology struggle to find readers? These are questions that have been going through my mind as this blog grows in readership, in traffic, and in quality of visits. I have not written a post on blogging in a very long time, and thought this was an appropriate time to visit the topic again. I trust that it will benefit those who toil on in the conviction that their efforts matter. For those of you who already know all this stuff, please do pass it on, either by sharing this post, or by writing a similar post yourself for your readers.
Recently, daily traffic on this blog crossed the 1000 page views mark. Of course, it was a blimp, caused by a recent post getting shared many times over, but the fact remains that the recent stats for this blog have surpassed my wildest imagination. This post, my 201st, is to share some of the things that seem to have worked to make this happen. Some of it might sound hackneyed but the principle used is that of “if it works it belongs.” This post is written from the perspective of this blog and its “underdog” niche of anti-consumerism and ethical living, but the lessons are universal for all genres and niches. Enjoy.

1. Content

 - The Voice of the Buddha

Your blog is your opportunity to use your voice to lead your readers to whatever it is that you wish them to be led to. In my case it is being able to live happy, successful and meaningful lives without robbing the future. This blog has been doing that in its trademark long-winded (most posts here are in the 2000 words range) manner over the last few years, trying its best to keep the post as consistently engaging as possible. Develop your own voice, say what you wish to say, and say it over and over again in as many ways as possible without sounding repetitive. As I wrote in an earlier post, it should be such that when the reader reads your post, they feel you are saying exactly what they had wanted to hear all this time, without consciously recollecting that they heard it from you in the first place. Original and unique content is the most important thing that will get you readers who value your voice.

How to Photograph Food: 10 Tips

I am neither a professional photographer, nor have I studied the art of light formally, but I love the things that a camera can do, and I enjoy using it to express myself creatively. Every time someone clicks like on my photos on Facebook, my confidence goes one notch higher. This includes people who click like for an album of 30 carefully redacted photographs by me and then click like on another post of mine the very next second. Maybe Facebook should learn from Indiblogger on how to curb boundless liking.

My understanding of photography is ultra-basic. I have struggled (and often failed) to understand much of what is written about photography – things like stops, white balance, histograms and many other terms that are refusing to readily come to mind. I like to look, keep fooling around till I like what I am looking at, and click, and hope that it will make the viewer think about what they see in a new or different way. That, approximately, is the sum of my point-and-shoot philosophy.


One place where I enjoy taking pictures is in the kitchen. While the missus puts together things and aromas that promise a great meal, I make things difficult for her by insisting on pauses, rearrangement, angles, and action replays. So when the need came for some food photography for a personal project, I naturally raised my hand. My selection for the project was not based on my skill but on the fact that I came at no charge. Well almost no charge, since the havoc that it unleashed on the home for the next two weeks must have been very costly. Of course, I have no clue.

This post is to share some lessons learned the hard way. It is not a post that will make you a food photographer of the professional type. It is not for the kind of photography where you have a paid-for, ever-generous kitchen staff, a full range of studio lights, and a gang of helpers. Neither is it a comprehensive guide to the pitfalls that lie in wait for food photographers, but only a report on some of the things that I faced in my work, and ways to avoid them. Hopefully, you will be emboldened after reading this post to go into the kitchen and announce your intentions. Wish you all the best. I am not responsible for anything that happens after that.

Million Magi


Climbing dirty rough-hewn stairs at the end of a dimly lit yet busy alley
I reach road number one, bauble-shiny, filled with fresh flowers and cars
In an urban cool mannequined window I see my huddled hoodied self
And know in an instant the magic of being an anthology, the very best of.

I am the spirit of my times, anonymous and numberless, I am occupy, I am love
Seeing the cheer of the festive season and the despairing faceless alleyways
I am suddenly more than, more real than, more people than I ever have been
And I hear the earth calling, the bodhisattvas of the earth calling, a million magi.

I am revulsion and compassion, I am the frenzy of the possible, silent and unmoving
An unwashed  child nagging at the stop light, intent that someone stops, drops a coin,
Watching cold cars go by leaving warm trails of light in the sodium vapor of the night
I am the face at every stoplight, the face that haunts you every time you close your eyes.

I take a turn at Midtown Mall to head back home, where the garbage bins overflow
The mother, the Empress, the Ram and Rahim, too old to play games anymore
Fidgety, enduring, the you that you do not know,  I am the dawn to the darkest of nights
The divine gold, my time is now, I am the countless that has become one, one million magi.

November 2, 2012
Hyderabad

Festive Greetings

Festive Greetings to All Readers of Subho's Jejune Diet !! 

Photograph by Pattu Raj


The Silence of the Lambs

It took me more than one whole day to figure out the “mango people in a banana republic” thing and I felt horribly alienated. Everyone else on both side of the Vindhyas seemed to get it and oh how! Even after I “got it,” I couldn’t understand what everyone was upset about. We have been a country operated as a commercial enterprise for private profit for the last seven decades and every time people try to change that they either get arrested or publicly maligned, get offered a parliament seat or driven to bankruptcy. It has never bothered us. Moreover, the political classes have been unperturbed by comments such as these by the common man for much longer than seven decades. Not being affected by what the common man feels or has to go through is as good as mandatory for survival in the political system now. If anything, this comment only differentiates Vadra from the rest of the people who feel the same way but know better than to verbalize it. So I have been a little disoriented of late. But then, this post is about Barfi.

No, no, not about how mango people feel about politicians – I meant the movie in which Priyanka gives Ranbir one of those ones.


When I finally started writing this post, even Barfi jokes had disappeared from the social media. In the face of the usual jibes about my tardiness, I plonked along, more in an effort to stand by all those who fall in the grey area of borderline intelligence, for whom it takes time to “get” things, to do things and to make things happen. World Mental Health day came. World Mental Health day went. But some posts just sit there, know what I mean? This post is a tribute to late blooming, deliberate living, two-finger typing, beer-bellied web crawling, and forgetting what you were sent to the store to get. This one is for each one of us who were called slow pokes, lazy bums, duffers, and had to carry home “capable of doing better” remarks in our report cards term after term. This one is for slow learners and the hearing impaired, as well as for the never-married. In case you have already forgotten what you came to the store to buy – this post is about Barfi.

What's Love Got To Do With It?

There is no conflict that cannot be resolved through dialog. This belief of my mentor is at the heart of what I try to do with my life – in daily life, here on this blog, and elsewhere in the social media space. There, of course, are times when dialog leads to greater confusion and upheaval, but if the spirit of dialog is nurtured and kept alive, it leads to a clearer and more meaningful understanding of the issue at hand without fail.


The Right to be Wrong

A recent dinner table conversation got me agitated. We were talking about how one’s looks and dressing led to being discriminated against at establishments and institutions. As is the nature of mealtime talk at home, it went from Manipur to Modi and from Siachen almost to Sri Lanka. At a particularly heated point of the discussion, I was asked whether my writing was not a way of being judgmental of people’s lifestyles and beliefs. In what way was my attitude in endorsing minimalistic/frugalistic need-based lifestyles different from that behind the rants of religious fundamentalists or even the government’s insistence that we grin and bear it? I denied it with the vehemence that only married men can conjure, but it got me thinking. I respect people’s freedom to live their lives as they wish, and I expect the same from others. Yet most of my writing is centered on promoting what I believe in. The Rushdie’s and the Coelho’s of the world might need entire novels to say it, but for me it takes a short sentence. You have the right to call me wrong, but it is not wrong that I am right.

Janis Joplin: A Piece Of My Heart

There is a handful of music and musicians that have a deep emotional significance for me that I cannot put in words. This significance is something so strong that I believe that the day I can write about them to my satisfaction, my purpose for having been born would have been fulfilled, and that till that day arrives, death will have to wait. Janis Joplin, the screeching, moaning, hurting queen of soul and blues, is one of them. Janis (January 19, 1943 – October 4, 1970) influenced me as a young person not only in terms of music but also in terms of understanding alienation and loneliness. Her songs and her live recordings have been a source of comfort to me through the years.

I have often wondered why I feel so strongly about her music and her life. Of course, the romanticism of her rebellious personality and the tragedy of her battle with drugs and alcohol were major factors, but they were temporal; yet, even from a more mature and “norm”al perspective, her work remains extremely close to my heart, meaning much more than music for recreation or songs in the background. For me, her songs symbolize the battle cry of the individual against the might of the system, the unshakeable conviction and the pain of knowing how simultaneously powerless and overpowering that battle cry is, and the longing to share with others the glorious vision of a just and compassionate world.


Today, 42 years after that sad and quiet morning when she died, I put together some of what I have tried to write about her in the past.

Drunken Elephants, Wild Horses and Blogging

This week has been a week of great learning. I was fortunate to have been at the receiving end of hateful discrimination. I say fortunate because it helped me see how I respond when I am threatened. It is still too fresh and raw for me to be able to write about it at length but I know I will. Reading and hearing about writers who have had to face similar challenges and enjoying the festive air all around has been of great help. This post is more of a filler as I allow the several piqued selves within me to settle down.

The goodness of Himalayan Mist tea, SF '11, unfurling as they brew

On a more positive note, for those who follow our work and our life, here is some news. Our long-dreamt-of project, the tea outlet, is finally shaping up, initially as an online outlet. This has kept me a little busy and we will be out on a tasting and sourcing expedition next week. I cannot tell you how excited and grateful I am for the way the universe has brought us to this point. I hope to be able to update my blog during this time, though I am not entirely certain. I will keep you posted as it evolves.

On the writing front, this week, I had the opportunity of writing guest posts for two bloggers whose work I follow and admire. I had a lot of fun writing these posts, and they are different from what I usually do. Do take a look.

A Gift From a Guest at Crack The Sky, a post on how blog posts really get written.

and

Three Easy-To-Grow Plants at Rachna Says, a post about a different kind of gardening.

The Larger Lunacy

Much of what is put out here is stuff that makes you stop and think awhile about where we are headed as a civilization. Or at least, so I tell myself. So I try and vary the pace a little sometimes in the name of blogger social responsibility. They say failures are the pillars. The successes lie above. And yes, I have heard of Stephen Leacock!


I tried my hand at humor a couple of times, but it turned out to resemble a botched liposuction procedure. So I thought it was better left to the professionals - our politicians. I tried the other extreme - dark satire, but the corporations beat me to it by miles. Who can beat a vibrator with your newspaper? I tried doing plain vanilla informative posts, but it seems that I need to qualify for a reservation quota to be able to do that. I must admit that I have not tried tech and fashion often enough, since every time I think of something to write about, it turns out no one is "doing that stuff" any more. The only avenue left to me is plagiarism, or as close to it as my conscience permits. Damned thing, this conscience business. Like an appendix!

Ways to Teach Your Children the Value of Respect

Ongoing research continues to reveal astonishing facts about the developmental journey of infants. They observe and absorb language and behavior from their environment far earlier than people used to imagine. There are studies that show that they can differentiate words and feelings within a few months of being born. As they grow, they continue to acquire social and interpersonal skills. While some of it can be imparted through direct instruction and disciplining, much of it is picked up by children observing those around them. What frustrates and puzzles parents is how difficult it is to teach children the value of respect.  Guest blogger Kelsey Masterson offers five ways to teach your children the value of respect.


We all know that toddlers and preschoolers aren’t always the perfect models of respectful behavior 100 percent of the time. Sometimes, they come across as being very trying at this young age. Teaching your children the value of respect is a process that can start at a young age, and it won’t be as hard as it seems.

Start Early
As soon as your child is born, they should start hearing the words “please” and “thank you” when you are around them. When they get to the age that they can play with other children, teach them all about sharing with their friends. Show him that taking care of his toys will also teach him how to respect property.

A Walk in the Mountain: Tirupati to Tirumala

I wrote and rewrote these first few lines more than a dozen times. Then I realized that I cannot express in words what I want to share and gave up. I am grateful to several people for the courage to do this post the way it has turned out. The first, of course, is my father, who taught me all that I know about looking through a lens. The second is Sandeep of Crack The Sky, whose simple yet profoundly touching photo-essays can make you rethink all that you believe in. Third, to Bhavana whose photographs are comprehensive narratives by themselves. Fourth, to Aarathi Selvan for introducing me to the concept of contemplative photography. And finally, as the music fades in and I know I am in the crosshairs of the man at the back of the dark auditorium, I am grateful to the man in the mountain who makes all things real, grateful to life itself.

Last Saturday, while having breakfast and looking out at the pigeons bickering in the grey morning, we decided to go to Tirupati. We bought bus tickets online and threw some clothes and toothbrush into a case.


The overnight bus dropped us at the Tirupati APSRTC stand at 6.30 a.m. We found a room, washed up, and set off on the 9 km walk to Tirumala, located 3200 feet above sea level. We set out at 9 in the morning. By the time we began the climb it was about 9.30 a.m.

Small Joys: Life Lessons from a Two Year Old

In hosting guest bloggers, one of my challenges is to be able to say no.It is easy when the post is poorly written. The problem arises when they are well written but either deal with topics that are not in sync with what this blog is all about, or if they are extremely complex and theoretical. When Clarissa sent in this guest post, I was struck by the simplicity of its message and how it captures an aspect of life that all of us tend to lose as we grow up. Enjoy!

Life Lessons from a Two-year-old

At some point in our lives, we have all thought that life is just too complicated. Some may think that it is a mystery to be solved or even a race or contest to win. We live our lives aiming to achieve more, getting bored easily and wanting to do more, or less. We are never satisfied. We think having things “bigger” will make us happier; have a bigger house or car, earn a bigger salary. The words “more” and “bigger” will cure the emptiness in our hearts, the heaviness in our shoulders, and the silence in our homes and it will solve all our problems. We all know that is false and yet, most of us continue to adhere to that lie.


As a new mother, I am learning things from my two year old daughter. And this is what it is: I have learned that life is actually easy-peasy, lemon squeesy.

The Little Blog

Once upon a time, and a very good time it was, there was a little blog who danced and played as his fancy took him. No one read him and he was free to be as he chose, wearing what he wanted, singing when he wanted, and talking to the flowers and insects in a language that only they could understand. And they spoke back to him. The oceans and the sky were just milestones in the strange world he inhabited. He had no first name and no last name and it did not make any difference to him.

As time passed, people began to visit his strange world, and they wondered what he was up to. He could sense this wondering, since wondering is always done in the language of rivers and ripening tomatoes. He began to look around to see what other blogs were up to, so that he could also entice his visitors to spend time with him, to come back, and to sing songs to him.

Antoine Saint-Exupery's The Little Prince is the one book that I can read over and over again.

Like the little boy from asteroid B-612, he went visiting other blogs. Some of them celebrating birthday when he visited. He wondered when his birthday was, and decided that he wanted no part of the loud partying that he saw. Some others, older ones, were full of people praising each other and thanking each other, yet it all sounded hollow, as if they were saying it like machines, without even thinking about what they were saying. He skirted the walls to keep away from the splatter of the goodies that were flying all over the place and ran out as fast as he could. He decided he had had enough of social visits.

Thank You, Frailty! Thank You, Consequence!

This is a quick post to express my gratitude to all of you who keep visiting, discussing and sharing what I put out here. I know I often fail to live up to my expectations in terms of what I would like my writing to communicate, and you not only put up with me, but actually encourage me and motivate me to become all that I was meant to be. Your compassion and concern, like terror, like silence, are good teachers. I strive to be a good student each moment.

This blog crossed 50,000 total page views last week. For me this is a major milestone. It now has an Indirank of 85, Mozrank of 3.92, and an Alexa rank of 228K. This Indirank puts SJD in the top 500 ranked blogs on Indiblogger. This blog is also listed in the extremely well-curated top 500 directory at Indian Top Blogs, and it is an honor to share that space with some of the biggest achievers from various fields. The only reason that this has been possible is you.


All of this recent growth has been organic as I realized over the last few months that my focus on promoting the blog was sometimes detracting from the quality of communication that I would like to put out. I was a little insecure that it would impact the level of engagement but you have proved me wrong.

An Interview


Between Life’s Doings is a blog on mindfulness and deliberate living that I have been following closely for quite some time now. It has introduced me to concepts and people that have greatly enriched my personal attempts to live a life of centeredness.   


When I received an interview request from Aarathi, I was pleasantly taken aback. In addition she wanted my favorite scribble. I had only recently begun sharing my own artwork on this blog, and this was a most unusual request.  Given the consistent focus of the blog, I agreed, and I couldn’t have been happier with the outcome.   

Do take a look at how the interview, Doodlesof Inspiration: Subhorup Dasgupta, came out.

The Best of Times

[Note - This is the wickeder version of the earlier post. For those of you who prefer the straight and narrow, you will find the older post here.]

I walked out of the drizzle into CCD for a bloggers meet in Hyderabad. It was largely unoccupied. There were two ladies sitting in a distant corner chatting like school friends meeting after a long time. They noticed me come in and immediately pulled their bags and phones closer to themselves. They drew close to each other and whispered something. Then they turned around at me and asked, “Subho?”

I smiled and said, “Yes, How did you guess?”



Pattu, radiant in her yellows, golds and reds, said, “You look so ….,” and starting making waving motions with her hand. It looked like she was trying to describe wool being pulled out of an old sweater and rolled into loops. Or maybe blending spices into freshly cut raw mango pieces.

Cancer Treatment and Nutrition

Cancer is one of the scariest diagnoses you can receive from a doctor. Whether you are fighting cancer or are in remission, there are still some things you can do to help improve your overall health. Believe it or not, what you eat makes a major difference in how you feel and act while going through cancer treatment. Eating a healthy and well-balanced diet can have a number of benefits that you should be made aware of. Changing your diet can definitely help improve the quality of your life and the general healing process that you are going through. Jillian McKee of the Mesothelioma Cancer Alliance shares the how and why in this guest post.


Proper nutrition plays many roles when combined with traditional cancer treatment. For one, a healthy diet will provide your body with all of the vitamins and nutrients it needs. These vitamins will be needed by your muscles and immune system to encourage strength and health. People who eat healthier diets may find that their bodies are able to heal more quickly after you go for their traditional treatment. It is important for you to remember that a healthy diet alone will not cure your cancer, so you need to still go for the recommended treatments set for you by the doctor.

Anna Hazare, Batman, You and Me!

"No, you don't understand. That is what the name is called. The name really is The Aged Aged Man. The song is called Ways and Means but that is only what it is called." (Lewis Carroll, Through the Looking Glass and What Alice Found There)

And why do we fall, Bruce? So we can learn to pick ourselves up. (Thomas Wayne, to young Bruce Wayne, Batman Begins)

Anna Hazare and his band of followers continue with their struggle to get their foot in the door. They earnestly, and perhaps rightly, believe that they represent the frustrations of the Indian people with having to deal with a corrupt and arrogant system in every aspect of daily life. After witnessing the loyalty of political parties, the media, and the government to the cause of eradicating graft from public life, I thought I would write about Batman.


I was impressed more than others with The Dark Knight Rises. While the trilogy is centered on the superhero theme, the closing film pulls in several metaphysical threads that are very relevant to the evolving consciousness of our times. In addition, I missed Robin right up to the very end. At the screening I attended, youngsters clapped, cheered and whistled when Batman first makes an appearance and every time he trounces the villains. It felt good but it felt strange. When I shared it later, my friends told me I was being elitist and cynical. But it was strange to hear an auditorium full of people cheering for Batman as if he were a Pawan Kalyan or a Salman Khan. It was strange when I contrasted this with the very Eastern acceptance that we display towards crime, injustice and corruption, towards exploitation, marginalization and abuse. In the face of my friends' criticism, I shut my mouth, and realized that maybe we are better off cheering at fictional superheroes in a dark auditorium.

You Are Not Alone - A Letter

Woke up this morning and couldn’t stand my own writing or the person I have become as a poet and an artist. I wake up many mornings feeling this way. Drowning in a sea of no thank you’s and overdue bills, I am unable to bring myself to look at the words that I put on paper. I cannot write “droplets of water/trembling leaves,” I cannot write about love, and I cannot write a check that will not bounce. Lying awake into the morning, wondering why I cannot be any of the things that all about me are so comfortably, my questions bounce around within my being like footsteps in an empty apartment late at night. I lie awake many nights feeling this way and dread how I will feel when I rise the next morning. Why am I so powerless in the face of this obsessive urge in a world that seems to have abandoned art to an island of its own inhabitants?

Old Man by the Fireside by Paritosh Sen, 1968, Mixed media on Board

I recently wrote a post about poets who blog. I cannot express in words the admiration I have for people who choose to live the life of a poet even though I puzzle at why one would do so. It is like choosing a chronic and fatal illness. Those who are reading this and wondering what I am talking about are the lucky ones. The life of one who chooses to be a poet is one endless struggle, not just with words and a career, but also with why one must do what one must do. I saluted the poets that I wrote about in that post by doing something I have never done - using my own paintings and drawings as images for that post; as soon as I did so, I was seized with the urge to take them off. There will be some of you who will wonder – what does he mean?

Does Facebook Cause Depression?

The definition of society has undergone some change in the last two decades. Apart from email and instant messages, Facebook, Twitter and other online social networking platforms have stepped in to replace the personal face-to-face interactions that used to make up almost all of social interactions. This comes with the ability to look closely at the life and activities of other people, some of whom you might not even know on a personal level. The normal trend is to portray only the bright side of life and to leave out the conflicts and strife that day to day life is for most people. So what you get to see is a bunch of happy faces in exotic locales doing fun things. When you compare it with your own life, it makes your own struggles seem huge. This is believed to lead to low self esteem and a general resentment against what life has to offer you.

The prevalence of the term Facebook Depression is an indicator as to how widespread this phenomenon is today. Here is a closer look by guest blogger Kristie Lewis at the validity of this alarming development.


Facebook Depression

Facebook Depression? A Tale of Two Opinions

I never really paid much attention to how social media supposedly affected its users until the issue became impossible to further ignore. After hearing about a rampant wave of young-adult suicides, due in part to cyber-bullying and a new phenomenon called "Facebook Depression," I became extremely concerned for my emotional well-being. Even though I was a healthy, emotionally stable adult, I began to wonder if my social media usage could afflict me without me even being aware. So I set out to learn how Facebook affects the emotional states of its users.

Throughout my quest to uncover a definitive answer, I have encountered two varied opinions. According to some studies, Facebook has no correlation to causing a depressive state in its users. On the other hand, there are other studies that believe it can cause minor to significant depression in its users. For those interested in the debatable linkage between depression and Facebook, let's take a look into the two stances.

The Good In Me, The Good In You

Aarathi Selvan of Between Life’s Doings tagged me in her post The Good In You and The Good In Me way back in March 2012. Aarathi has been a long time inspiration for me with her insightful work on value creation, spirituality and parenting. Most of my explorations into the mindfulness school of thought have been through her reflections.


This tag meme invites you to share the best of your work in specific categories. I spent the greater part of the next couple of days enjoying the links to her work, and promised to myself that I would do the same. I would remember, but only at the strangest times; while waiting for a bus to take me to the second hand book market on a Sunday morning, while being nagged by my Mom for not redacting my work for publishing, or while trying out a new complicated recipe with the missus.

Perhaps I was not willing to look at the good in me. Perhaps I was embarrassed that what I thought was good was really no good. More likely I was plain lazy. Whatever the truth might be, I stand (sit, actually, and very poorly too) here today a victor, as I attempt to honor the tag Aarathi sent my way.

Read on to see what I think is good in me, and to see my list of those I would like to pass this tag on to.

Dil Se: Secrets of the Hindi Poetry Blogger’s Heart

“The best and the most beautiful things in the world cannot be seen or even touched. They must be felt with the heart.” – Helen Keller
The internet and the social media hold the key to building the future that great thinkers like Buddha, Russell, Tagore, Marx and Lennon dreamed of. It has made it possible for thinkers, writers, musicians and artists to share their thoughts and art easily, quickly and widely. The subsequent emergence of regional language interfaces for computers and browsers has been an important breakthrough that allows people across the planet to transcend boundaries without losing their identities. One of the most amazing phenomenons in this sphere has been the evolution of Hindi poetry blogging.


I do believe that there is a line that separates creativity and populism, and at the cost of being branded a snooty conservative, I stick to my belief.

I chanced across Hindi poetry blogging through the Indiblogger network, and it was not out of my personal attraction toward Hindi poetry. I looked up the people who were reading and commenting on my work, and to my surprise, I found several of them were Hindi poets blogging in the Devnagri script. In spite of having learned my Ara, Balia, Chhapra, Darbhangas on the playgrounds of what was then Bihar and growing up with Lot Pot, I still struggle to read Devnagri, and a lot of the lyrical and syntactical devices of Hindi-Urdu poetry are totally lost on me. Yet as I read their work, often sporadically, since much of the time, I would not understand (or even be able to read through) what they were writing, I realized that some of it was at the level of the Prasoon-Joshi-Vishal-Dadlani kind of stuff that no Indian can escape any more. Not surprisingly, much of it was better.

As I got familiar with these blogs, I began to recognize an important trend, and that was how the idea for this post began to form in my mind. I decided to find out more about these bloggers and their fierce determination to change their world, one poem at a time. As our dialog evolved, I came out enriched not only by these poets’ incredible work, but also by their commitment to their craft. Join me as they share their journeys.

Subho's Jejune Diet Reviewed by Lucifer House Inc.

Subho’s Jejune Diet was reviewed by The Fool of Lucifer House Inc., one of the most astute observers of the blogging scene and writing in general. Do take a look at what he has to say about your favorite corner of cyberspace.


When I was a child, there used to be a physics lecturer living in a nearby flat. She used to gather the local children every Saturday evening to teach them Indian cultural values. I distinctly remember once she asked us a question, “What are the two things that you can freely give to others without any loss to yourself.” The answer was fire from your lamp and knowledge. One of the greatest boons of internet is the ease with which people from different ends of the world can share knowledge. Whereas corporates seek to erect walls, hoard the knowledge and extract their pound of flesh, one must hail the yeoman service of bloggers who spend their valuable time sharing their knowledge with the whole world.

Read the whole review, warts and all, over at Lucifer House Inc.>>

Eega: Metaphor of our Times

(Update: As expected, this film titled Makkhi is available to audiences across India in Hindi releasing October 12, 2012)

This post is an invitation to all who read this, regardless of your familiarity with Telugu or Tamil, the two languages in which the film is released, to go and watch S.S. Rajamouli's new Telugu movie Eega / Naan Ee. This animation aided fantasy has everything going for it to become a national phenomenon. It is the story of how a fly takes revenge. Do not be surprised if midway through the film you find yourself clapping and cheering – for a fly.


I have seen only one of director Rajamouli’s earlier films, Magadheera, and I am puzzled to date why that didn’t turn into a national phenomenon. I hardly speak any Telugu, and I understand less of it than a preschooler does. Further, though I had been waiting for this film impatiently, the fact that I have not watched any of Rajamouli’s other films (and I know that they are not only contemporary cinematic landmarks but also pack in a massive social punch) should give readers a sense of my objectivity.

10 Things I Learned From my Mother

My mother is impossible. People say I take after her in this regard, but what do they know? They should meet my Dad to know what I mean.


She turns 75 today, and on this occasion, here is a lovely tribute to her by my brother.


Ten things I learned from my mother... a tribute on her 75th birthday!

My mother turns a glorious 75 today and this is a tribute to her spirit. We never get to choose our parents, but we do choose to understand, accept, admire, and respect them. In the last 35 years, I have gone through a journey of doing all of that with my mother! Here is a list of ten things I have learned from her and will always carry with me all my life: (Read more)


Read the whole post over at Buddha Bar>>



Sundays Are What You Make Of Them

In the mad rush to have more and do more, we often fail to attend to our real purpose, to be all that we were meant to be. Our greed, our willful ignorance and our insecurities keep us from listening to our hearts and choosing the path that will bring the greatest good to the greatest number. There is no best time to see if you can listen to that calling but I have found that Sunday mornings tend to have that stillness that lets you hear it a little more clearly.


I wrote a guest post on what Sundays mean for me over at A-Musing, one of the wittiest blogs ever. Do take a look and let me know what you think.

Read the whole post over at A-Musing>>

Two Neat Promotion Tools for Blogspot Bloggers

Blogger has been my platform of choice from the time I started blogging. There have been a couple of times that I regretted some of the changes at blogger, but by and large, I have not had to regret my choice. With the blogger in draft becoming the default editor interface for everyone, I thought it would be helpful to look at how change can be a friend. This post is a quick look at two new features that are especially useful for bloggers who are not so tech savvy. These are the ability to create custom URLs and the ability to include a search description for individual posts. Both of these are critical SEO tools, but the way blogger has included them makes it easy for people like me to understand and use them to get the most out of them.

Two women that I am indebted to - Kajal on the right and Subala on the left
Search Description for Posts
I get stumped by terms like meta keywords and meta description that most SEO tutorials speak of, but one easy way that I understood it is that it is the main words and ideas that describe what you are writing about. These help search engines and directories to correctly categorize and display your blog and blog posts. As bloggers, I am told, it is our responsibility to help search engines do their work properly. Usually these words and ideas can be built into the html templates of your blog. In blogger, till now, it was easy to do it for the overall blog if you were ready to try a little html editing. What you could not do easily was to have meta descriptors for each individual post. Now with the new features, this has been made possible.

The Natural Diet: Is It Possible?

“You will thank me later.” – Adrian Monk, former homicide detective, SFPD

One of the reasons that this blog is called Jejune Diet is because food is one of the focus areas of my efforts as a blogger. Not just recipes and writing about food, but the food that we consume in other ways, the books we read, the music we listen to, the films we watch, and the thoughts and ideas that we pay attention to.

My goal is to help readers feel better about what society might call a jejune diet, one devoid of titillation and spice, one devoid of gossip and controversy, and one devoid of malicious conflict and hatred. My desire is to awaken in readers the realization that what is truly worthy of being included in our mental and spiritual diet is usually not what the media insists you have to consume.

As one learns to savor the tranquility of selective attention, of deliberate living, one discovers the true joys of life, freedom from ignorance, greed and anger, and is able to appreciate the magic that life is all about.

This post, however, deals exclusively with food as in what we eat to stay alive physically.


Almost all food that we recognize as food is life in another form. The act of eating is an act of using the vital energies and nutrients contained in another life form in order to sustain ourselves. It is an act of destroying life in order to sustain our own. And this applies to plant life just as much as it applies to animal life. Even if you are a hard core vegan, you are still consuming other life forms to sustain your own.

In addition to this is the fact that not all that is kept on the “food” shelves of the stores is really natural and organic food. Close your eyes and visualize the food aisles of your favorite supermarket, and you will realize that most of the items there are processed foods with liberal doses of preservatives that prevent them from behaving like organic food and break down. The process of creating and packaging food products involves steps that rob them of both their natural flavors and their natural appearance. Therefore, taste enhancers and colors are added to make them attractive and look and taste like food. So what you end up eating is really several times removed from food.

For urban dwellers like me, there are certain very powerful barriers to being able to eat natural. Availability of natural produce, time, and opportunity top the list, at least for me. With time and attention, I have been able to break down some of these barriers, while with others, perhaps it is easier to learn to live with them and compensate with goodness elsewhere.


Here are some easy ways that you can develop a natural and healthy diet without compromising your lifestyle. Most of these tips are built around the two basic acts of procuring supplies and preparing meals.

Countdown Expired

We set the countdown as soon as the doctor gave us a date. The sound of your heart beat made us smile foolishly at each other. We waged our wars silently against ourselves and against the world. We made lists of names, lists of things you would need.

When they told us at six months they were worried, we kept faith and prayed that you would be fine. We looked back at all the obstacles we had overcome to be able to have you and determined that life would not keep us apart.

How to Write a Winning Resume

One of the more frequently neglected aspects of job seeking is the resume or curriculum vitae. Having a resume that communicates one’s abilities and intent objectively, accurately and appropriately can decide whether your profile will get past the very first level of screening which is in fact called the resume screening. Even during subsequent assessments during the recruitment process, your resume can set you apart from the rest of the people being considered. Here are some of the things that you can look out for to give your resume the edge it deserves.


Why I Owe Didi Big Time

I am celebrating a psycho-therapeutic coup of sorts. I have been freed from two of my longest-standing complexes at one go.

The first is my complex about being a blot on the fair name of Bongdom. I don’t know my Bankim from my Manik, and I live happily without my daily fish. I cannot chat online at lightening speed in Bangla in roman script and I don’t burst into a Tagore song for every occasion. I can stay continent when I hear someone speaking Bengali in the supermarket aisles of New Delhi or Bangalore and I don’t hand in my resignation if my leave application is turned down during the pujas.

I take pride in being a Bengali, but given the generic pan-Indian definition of a good Bengali, I keep my pride, “if you really want to know about it,” a little hidden.


My second big-time complex is that I am not Shah Rukh Khan. Shah Rukh embodies my subconscious aspirations in many ways. Rising to stardom through sheer merit and hard work, being irreverently witty and outspoken, getting to own a cricket team and a Palm Jumeirah home, becoming the brand ambassador of Bengal, and being the dream of millions of young women (and men) across the globe.

However, this terrible duo of complexes that have run my life for decades has been successfully “banquished” by the developments in Bengal and New Delhi over the last few months, thanks to the winds of change and the presidential elections.

How to Set Boundaries for Toddlers Without Stunting Their Curiosity

As parents, we must all straddle a fine line. We need to set boundaries for the behavior of our kids, while at the same time be careful to avoid stunting their curiosity or need to explore the world. This is especially true for toddlers. If you’ve been wondering how to find the right balance, read on to find out what Chelsea Pearson has to say in this guest post.


1. Physical Boundaries
Toddlers need to have tangible boundaries set for their physical movement. This is a great way to minimize intellectual boundaries. For instance, toddlers have to know that they can get burned if they touch a stove, or they can get run over by a car if they go outside the fence. Similar to how we teach babies not to run off the top steps or they will fall, toddlers have to know their physical limits as well or they could get seriously injured or hurt. Toddlers will normally give you an indication when they want to push the boundary. They do this because of curiosity. If you constantly reject their need to explore, they will likely develop resentment toward you, but if you talk to them about new limits and explain the reasons why they have those limits, they are likely to settle down and accept this. Be sure to provide fun, stimulating activities for their room, playpen or wherever they are confined.

2. Behavioral Boundaries
Behavioral boundaries must be set with toddlers too. This is going to teach them how to behave and function in society one day. You have to remember that you don’t want to instill a fear of uniqueness or eccentricity, and you should always encourage your children to be different and question societal norms. But, you also want to make sure you’re preparing them for the real world. This doesn’t mean that you let them do what they want, but you have to let your toddler know that the consequences are for their actions and that you will follow through.

Hyderabad Indi Bloggers Meet - June 2012

The Hyderabad Indibloggers meet was held at CCD Lounge, Road No 12, Banjara Hills, on Sunday, June 17, 2012. In attendance were bloggers from Hyderabad, Secunderabad, Cyberabad and nearby areas, such as Chennai. The meeting was organized and announced by Indiblogger, the premier networking platform for bloggers in India and nearby areas such as Hamilton, New Zealand.


Here’s what happened. The last time Indiblogger had a meeting in Hyderabad was in 2010. With exciting and educational meetings being held in other cities, one would frequently see threads on the forum wishing there was an Indi meeting held in the city again. Halfway through summer 2012, a meet was finally announced on Indiblogger. Though it was conceived as a small gathering (in numbers, not spirit), the last minute saw some of the attendees dropping out due to personal emergencies, some due perhaps to the torrential rain that began just around when people would have been leaving for the meeting.

Disclaimer of Onerous Property

I have received my share of hate-mail and nasty comments in the course of speaking my mind on this blog. I checked with a lawyer if I needed to put in some kind of a disclaimer. My respect for lawyers comes a distant second to my respect for corrupt politicians. My lawyer said there was no need. So, here it is.

"Ascetic" 2015 Oil on canvas board, 8" x 11"

1. All the contents of Subho's Jejune Diet, other than guest posts and unless otherwise specified, arise out of Subho’s own peculiar brand of madness, one that he believes is essential for the survival of our species.

2. Your obsession to throw it all to the wind and follow your heart after reading this blog will not pass.

3. Repeated visits to SJD will strengthen your obsession and compel you to take action.

4. Readers are advised to seek no professional help following the emergence of symptoms after reading SJD. The only antidote in such times is to reorganize and dedicate your life to the cause of helping people around you find true happiness.

5. SJD takes no responsibility for your happier and more meaningful life. 

6a. Any profit that you have made by virtue of this blog or this disclaimer belongs to you, and SJD would like to have nothing to do with it.

6b. A comment, a link, or a mention will be nice though.

PS: I am expecting my subscriber/reader/follower count to fall drastically after this post, but hey, you cannot save your ass and your face at the same time.

Do You Need More Time?

"Saving time and not using it is a bit of a fallacy, since once your time on this planet runs out, there is not much that you can do with the time you have saved. Spend the time you save with care. Spend it on things that are important in the longer run." - Subhorup Dasgupta

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Each moment of our life is a gift from the universe. What we do with our time can be thought of as our response to that gift. Time is finite, as are our energies and personal abilities. The trick is to find the optimal way to use both of these- your time and your energy. The universality of this challenge can be gauged from the abundance of material both offline and online on time management.


As with most self improvement literature, I have discovered that a good portion of what is out there to read and learn from is largely a trap that keeps you from taking real action. You feel good about what you read, that good feeling keeps you from acting on it, not acting on it brings on guilt and remorse, and you go back and read some more. It is an interesting cycle, much like addiction treatment that starts you off with statistical evidence that most people entering treatment eventually return to drug or alcohol use.

In this post, I share some of my thoughts on time management and the how and why of it. These are opinions that I have formed through reading and living, and though they may go beyond the common and obvious, it doesn’t bother me, since they work.

How To Deal With Teenage Anger

Dealing with teenage emotions is perhaps a greater challenge for parents and elders in the family than it is for the teenagers themselves. A teenage boy or girl at home can turn life into a never-ending drama of anger, depression, apathy, and euphoria. Sometimes this is made worse by issues like low self esteem, lying, drug abuse, or pregnancy. While the teenager as a matter of course goes on to find balance and stability, the way parents and elders deal with this issue can have long term effects on the personality of the teenager as he goes into adulthood. In this post, guest blogger Angelita Williams returns to Subho's Jejune Diet to look at the three ground rules for dealing with teenage anger and tantrums.

3 Simple Ways to Handle your Teen's Tantrums

Teenagers - one minute they're laughing on the phone with their best friend, the next they're slamming the bedroom door screaming, "I hate you." Teenagers are moody creatures. They misinterpret emotions, don't understand consequences, and pretty much assume the entire world is against them. Talk about attitude.


While their anger and mood swings are frustrating, it’s not entirely their fault. Raging hormones and a work-in-progress prefrontal cortex - the part of the brain that controls our understanding of moderation, consequences, impulse control, and deciphering body language – are partly to blame, according to experts. But just because their temporary bipolar, Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hide personalities can be explained by science doesn't mean parents should just dismiss irrational behavior and give them a free pass. After all, the way they learn to deal with their emotions now will follow them in the future. That said, here are three tested tips to help you "deal" with your teenager's temper tantrum the right way.

A Wonderful World!

In life's lessons about Hills and Valleys, the sharpness of both pain and joy sometimes gets blunted out of perspective. Sometimes one comes across words or music that remind you of this sharpness. This morning was one of those times. So instead of my usual pop-spiritual rants, hackneyed lifehacks, or laughable attempts at satire, I thought I would share with you two uplifting pieces of creative work that found me this morning.

View of our balcony through our bedroom door, the first sight that greets us every morning

First, I re-encountered the poem by William Ernest Henley, (made famous by Morgan Freeman's rendition in the film of the same name) Invictus which were recently tweeted by a fellow traveler, Ratnakar Sadsyula (@Scorpiusmaximus). These lines have been looking back at me from a postcard-sized printout on my work desk for nearly two years, and have given me hope and courage during my darkest and most difficult times. I was reminded by the tweet that though I have been living out of the strength that these lines have given me, I have never shared this with the readers of my blog. Therefore, without any further delay, here they are:

How to Save Petrol While Driving

How to save gas and improve mileage are questions that all of us are asking in these times of ever increasing price of petrol and petroleum fuels. Taking it a step further would be to ask how we can actually benefit from the high price of fuel. Here are some tips that I have learned from the best teacher in the world on how to maximize fuel efficiency - experience. I also owe a deep debt of gratitude to my mentor in driving, Yellesh, who showed me how driving can be a life transforming exercise.



9. Drive Steady: It is universally accepted that driving at a steady speed gives you the best mileage possible. The logic is simple. It takes more power to accelerate (hear the engine vroom?) than to maintain a steady speed. Keep your pressure on the accelerator gentle and consistent. Most car engines are designed to give optimum mileage at around 45-55 kmph. This also helps me experience self discipline, self control and contentment.

8. Brake gently: First, be present to the road. If you see a junction with a light coming up, cut the engine off by moving to neutral, since the inertia of the car will keep it moving anyway. If the light doesn’t turn red till you are really close, you can switch gears and add power to avoid getting too slow as you cross the signal. A gentle brake in advance will allow you to cruise a distance at a slower speed, while a heavy brake at the last moment is an obvious waste of paid for momentum. Second, be humble. Most people need to use the brake frequently and heavily because they are trying to move fast. Yellesh showed me repeatedly that the guy speeding past you doesn’t necessarily get there fast, especially in heavy city traffic. The fuel he wastes is not worth the minutes he shaves off his drive. Being humble means being okay with letting others get ahead of you and being patient enough to tolerate the few minutes delay. Familiarize yourself with the speed limits and the traffic on your route as much as possible. Don’t accelerate when you know you will have to slam the brake to slow down.
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