Greatest Hits of 2013

I want to fit in, to belong, to be one of the guys. I don’t come around often. The year-end makes it easier. I learned this last year as I rolled out the greatest hits of 2012.

2013 has been a wonderful year – at this blog and in our personal lives; those who follow this blog closely know that the two are thick. With a little help from my friends, I got out 40 posts on this blog this year, taking the total post count to 250 and pageviews close to 2 lakhs.  The Facebook page for this blog is inching towards 600 likes while subscriber count is just under 300. The Second Hyderabad Bloggers' Meet was a lovely time, and the third is on its way this weekend. And yes, Sunny Leone continues to top my search referral list.

On the personal front, after two seemingly endless years of living off debt, we paid our own way through all of this year. Our fledgling social media consulting practice that is built on the strangest of premises is slowly picking up, and several of our clients have actually come to us through Subho’s Jejune Diet. Our fine tea catalog is growing in popularity, another dream come true.


So as the year comes to a close, let me do what I am seeing all around me. A best of SJD. As I see it. Here are the ten posts from this year that I am especially pleased with.

A Special Gift

Finally – a truly “sponsored post” on SJD!! I am going to be paying myself handsomely for writing this one!!

This post is to make you aware of a unique gifting opportunity. You can gift your friends and loved ones in India the experience of truly fine tea. All you need to do is choose any of the teas listed on our catalog, and your gift will be delivered at their doorstep.  We deliver free of charge almost anywhere in India.  If you love tea, you will love our catalog. If you don’t know much about tea, just go eenie-meenie-minie-moe, and whatever you choose is guaranteed to be among the best teas of the season. That is my personal promise to you. And wait, there is more! For all orders received between now and December 31, 2013, we will be adding a small festive gift from our side at no extra cost.



Most of you who follow this blog regularly will be aware of our curated tea catalog. We list the best black, green and white tea of the season. You will also be aware of how this catalog is our attempt to build a new, responsible, ethical, sustainable, people- and planet-friendly business model. Many of you have become customers and offered us your feedback on our marketing strategy (or lack of it). We have been listening and reflecting. We have also been watching the data build up, which helps us take “scientific” decisions. We are thankful for your love and support to the tea catalog as well as to this blog. Please keep telling us what we can do better.


PS: One of the things that have been going on with this blog is an attempt to make it self-sustaining. Not as in pay for itself (what price what I do here), but in terms of promoting links of individual posts on the social network. But this post, since it is “sponsored,” will get promoted. So might as well piggyback for some attention. Here are some posts from earlier this month that you might have missed.

1. The Need For Livelihood Assessment: An attempt at answering questions my own questions.

2. What Happens Instead: An introduction to a guest post I wrote for Micky’s blog, one in which I detail my personal journey.

3. Poetry Is Easy: Another poem in my ongoing ars poetica series. :)

4. Angels Without Knowing: A showcase of some of the finest writing by others on SJD this year.

5. God’s Strange Ways: A short story on the ultimate falsehood about us – that we are a minority of one,  immigrant, excluded, seeker, dispossessed.

6. Homemade Peanut Butter, How To Make: Fresher, healthier, tastier and nearly four times cheaper than anything you can buy in a store.

Homemade Peanut Butter

I love peanut butter. Apart from its heart healthiness, high vitamins content, and antioxidant properties, I love it because it tastes so good.  I would buy peanut butter for about 300 Rupees for less than 500 grams. Mostly they were brands from US and Europe which were imported and sold in our stores. Over the last couple of years, we have a few desi brands, but at the time of writing, they all import the actual peanut butter, since they do not have manufacturing plants of their own here. I also wondered why peanut butter prices, like that of coffee for example, went up when global peanut prices went up, but did not come down when they did

After watching a Discovery channel documentary on how PB is manufactured, I decided to try making it at home. I looked up the internet and there are dozens of recipes across hundreds of websites. So here is my peanut butter adventure, costs, and lessons learned. I left out the "how to" in the title so that I don't get clubbed on the head for doing yet another "how to" post.


Ingredients
Peanuts – 500 g
Olive Oil – 12 Tbsp (edit: you can significantly step up on this. PB tends to soak it up in time, so don't worry even if it goes runnier than you want.)
Honey – 4 tbsp
Salt to taste

Method:

Roast the peanuts till the skin darkens on all sides. 

God's Strange Ways


Glass painting of Ganesha, the remover of obstacles
The Remover Of Obstacles

(This post was featured in BlogAdda's Spicy Saturday picks for December 28, 2013)


*****
The warmth of the tea slowly spread outwards from her throat and stomach to her numb hands and fingers. She had been cold from the time she came to know and her head and eyes had started aching soon after they set out before any of the neighbors woke up. She had put on all the clothes she cared to have and tried to make him do the same, but he would not listen. She feared that if they packed a bag they’d be too conspicuous.  She feared they were already too late. They followed their long shadows down the narrow lane out on to the main street. She knew the city poorly, rarely going out beyond the local grocers or to the nearest theater on Sunday mornings when they had a single screening of films from their land. She knew that if they kept going along the big road that all the buses took they would reach the station. And that is what she had done, holding his hand tightly in hers, their shadows looping between the pools of sodium vapor melancholy.

Hamid turned the pump stove off and in his mind made a checklist for the afternoon. He had to pack up and reach the prayer hall before people arrived so that he could dust the chairs and keep the water ready. The milkman had already reminded him that he was due for last month’s money. Thankfully, his landlord never complained even when he was two months behind on the rent. He probably thought of it as alms to the faithful. The rains had cut business back in a big way, with fewer people out in the streets. He had hardly made any money all morning in spite of it being a regular working day. He had less than a month to save up money to be able to visit home. Like the two customers at his shop now, he too was an immigrant. He looked at the two of them, their quiet conversation slipping out reluctantly from between their clenched alien teeth, and hoped they would order a second cup. The boy asked for a biscuit. He had a lisp. She first said no, and then after some time, asked Hamid for one. Hamid dipped into the jar and handed the biscuit to him with a smile. He believed that as long as he continued to create the right causes, his victory was assured.

Angels Without Knowing

The growing chill in the air makes it imperative to think back on the year going by. Those who follow this blog regularly will have recognized some of the changes that have shown up in my writing. I am increasingly being compelled to reflect on purpose, not only at a personal level but as a people too. I have been reflecting and questioning the premises of readership and promotion. Where these new directions will take this blog is for time to tell. I am happy with where I am and excited about where I am headed. Anyway, that is not what I have in mind for this post. This post is to celebrate my friends!

Bloggers' Breakfast in Honor of blogger Satish Raghav Peri's Hyderabad Marathon Run
Bloggers' breakfast organized by blogger-entrepreneur Laxman Papineni
The very first bloggers' meet in Hyderabad

Profound discussions from the first Hyderabad Bloggers' Meet

The Poetry Group that was a spin off from the blogging group

The second Hyderabad Bloggers' Meet

One of the loveliest experiences of this year was the gifts I got from fellow bloggers in the form of guest posts. While some were from people I have known for years, others were from friends I had made recently. Receiving these gifts made me realize how writing and blogging had made me a part of a larger community. As the year comes to a close, I thought I would share some of them with you, just in case you missed them earlier. Here are the finest guest posts on Subho's Jejune Diet.

Poetry Is Easy



Poetry is easy. Write
Your heart. Break 
It into short lines. Not
Where one’d expect them
To be broken. End.
Obverse.

Avoid words everyone
Knows. Avoid words like
Like. Avoid aligning.
Right or left.
Avoid writing directly 
About truth

That greets us every day 
Crowded buses 
Or death or 
(ignore this line)
Price of vegetables
Or fragile livelihoods.

Clothe your thoughts 
With flowers and butterflies, 
Names of colors and
Roots. Let verse 
Lead to question
Answers we live by.



Hyderabad
November 2013

What Happens Instead: A Guest Post on Micky's Blog

Sometimes, life puts things in perspective. It makes things in the basement crawl and claw their way up the stairs. Some days it makes you feel like Don Quixote, some days like Sancho Panza. Sometimes, it forces you to see that you are simultaneously both and neither.

Eight years back, when this blog began, it was entirely a personal journal. Over the years, it has grown into an exhortation, a call to look within to question ourselves, our choices and decisions. In the process, one of the things that has gradually been let go of is the personal aspect. I have lost a few readers who used to read this blog to stay in touch with what was going on in our lives. But like any human being, I love to talk about myself, sometimes. I must have more than two dozen drafts where I have started writing about my personal journey of the last three years. Somehow, they have all led to my writing another post of the kind that you find here. Of course, all that you find here is personal too, but its not the went to this restaurant, watched this movie, witnessed this injustice, was inspired to write a poem, read this book kind of stuff. I have tried to balance things, but writing has a life of its own, it decides for you. The people I need to apologize to probably no longer visit this blog, so I don’t know how I can make amends.

My week starts on a Sunday. What about yours?
Yours sincerely on a Sunday morning

All is never lost for the self-obsessed, as I recently got an opportunity to write a guest post for a very dear friend, +Micky Fernandez . His blog, Observations and Experiences of an Expat in India is an unusually objective weblog on life in India, crammed with information, facts, numbers, analysis, with a subtle but relevant opinion running through it like a finely cooked dish. I honestly do not know that much about anything. So when I started thinking of a post for him, I had to take on the only thing that I know a little about. Myself.

Do take a look, since he set me free to be who I can no longer be on my own blog.

Read the whole post at Micky's blog>>
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