Winds of Change

Two years back, around this time, we launched Blend of Tea. This year, we launch our second enterprise - Eight Winds. My quest for world domination starts with cleaning things up, and this is another step towards building the foundation for tomorrow. 8W is a business solutions company, specializing in digital social marketing. We offer strategy, services, content, consulting and training - the works, including open source e-commerce. We set ourselves up as November set in and executed our first delivery on November 18, 2014. Our very first outing outing was the 4th Hyderabad Bloggers Meet held at Saptaparni on December 7, 2014.

If you are interested in mastering the heart of social media, or are ready to answer difficult questions about why you do what you do, or just need help selling something without breaking the law, do look us up. We are open for business on weekdays at Punjagutta, Hyderabad.



What are Eight Winds? The concept of the “eight winds” is described in several Buddhist works such as The Treatise on the Stage of Buddhahood Sutra. It later shows up in a letter written by Nichiren Daishonin in the 13th century. He advises his followers not to be swayed by their attachment to prosperity, honor, praise, or pleasure (the four favorable winds), or by their aversion to decline, disgrace, censure, or suffering (the four adverse winds).

Happy Birthday, Subho!!

For peace in the land, the sender will remain anonymous.

*****

Dear Subho,

I know how you feel about getting things, even if it is an SMS asking after your welfare, so you must be super thrilled to get this - a letter on your birthday - for your blog!! Let me begin by wishing you a very happy 20th birthday (I ex-ed out the numbers on the letter I got before showing to others, so when it was being typed up, it became XX, changed to 20 for stylistic consistency). Age is not just a number, but a many-tongued jealous lover. You learn to live with it. The creaking joints and unidentifiable, uncontrollable aches and twitches, they’ve all been worth it. You might revel in your confusion, even thrust it upon others, but you know you did right. You loved, shared, dreamt, and created what you needed to, some of it prickly, yes, but sleep well you do.

Blend Of Tea Second Anniversary Birthday Cake - Black Forest from Vacs
Nivasini and Blend Of Tea are projects of Nivedita's and mine that were set up on our respective birthdays - a week apart. This gives us good reason to celebrate, up close, loud and in public.
From that hair that won’t listen to your appendix scar that you have so many different (a new one each telling) stories about, I love every bit of you. Especially the silly emotional part of you. Do you remember how much you laughed when the cops at the protests came at you with their canes raised and then cried as the batons came down? Or how you carried the receipt for your daughter’s autopsy report till it became dust in your wallet. Or the whimpering blob of jelly you were in the labor room when your second son was born? Or how you went about encouraging prisoners when you yourself didn't know where you were headed in the hall of justice? Or the way you tear up when listening to the national anthem? You still need to learn to love though. And watch out for open sewers when walking. You enjoy rubbing people the wrong way just to make sure they are human. You set high standards for others, just so that you can take it easy, and then get mad because they don’t let you take it easy. From supporting piracy to fighting for privacy, you do what your heart tells you is correct.

What I admire most about you is how you bend over backwards for stuff that doesn’t bother anyone else. You reach out to people, checking on them, truly caring for their wellbeing, and then get offended when they finally ask – so why did you call? You stay up late to help the kids plan elaborate pranks on the neighbors. Then when they get into trouble, you leave town for the weekend. You love good conversations as long as they are about you. The only thing you love more is a monolog – by you and about you. If there is one thing that I worry about, it is that you have never felt apologetic for your values or morals. If I were you, I would have deleted my Facebook account by now.


SoCh4. Nov 1, 2014. Our Sacred Space.

Depending on who you are, start at the appropriate paragraph.

Short version of TL;DR: Been busy. Another edition of SoCh and starting several new initiatives, striving to be the best of all I was intended to be. Do join us on Nov 1 at 5 pm at Our Sacred Space, Secunderabad.

TL; DR: One sparkling evening!! Launch of Neesah, an eclectic arts magazine, launches of two books, one by my Mom, launch of a program on increasing awareness of the importance of menstrual flow in the context of social health, a participatory dance dialog on the shanti mantra by all attendees, and of course SoCh-4. The books are crazy good, as is the magazine and the health intervention initiative. We think the “take-aways” will be seen as thoughtful as will the refreshments. Try not to miss the shanti mantra. Working on putting together this SoCh has been the reward and the speakers and their work will leave you utterly, utterly changed. We would like to start early, so do help out by being on time.
Launch of Neesah, an Eclectic Arts magazine from Hyderabad

Now for those of us who are here for the usual trash.

Like all things in the universe, this blog and its owner, ying and yang, have their ups and downs. One of the here now gone tomorrow areas has to do with the early readership and nature of this blog. It was entirely a documentation of personal journeys to start with, as individuals, as creative artists, as aspiring apprentices. So it was for a long time.

Till about 2012. Couple of things happened. First there was the Hyderabad Bloggers Meet. The people who met went on to find and refine their own projects like Nivasini Publishers, Raed Leaf Poetry, Writers Carnival, BlendOfTea, and yes, SoCh, etc. All of these, naturally, became part of this blog. Then, the second thing that happened, there was the focus on search and content marketing that saw the readership multiply a few hundredfold, a lot of it from high quality, commenting and returning readers. On stuff that had almost no emotional relevance to my life or what was going on around me.

Three Little Big Mistakes

Over the last year, Mom and Dad have been winding up their 50-year-old sansar in Kolkata so that they can come and stay with us. It is a big deal for us, since we have wanted this to happen for the last many years. It is not easy to turn your back on the material-social life you build up and it is not easy to say goodbye to the people and places that becomes natural extensions of your being. My brother and I and our families have been trying to make it easier through discussions, holidays together, and by pitching in with the packing and sorting.

On one such visit, just a few months back, I was rummaging through old books and papers that were slowly turning into dust. They lay in ancient trunks tucked away behind other ancient trunks and cartons under my parents’ bed. I found a large plastic folder, inside which were things that I had put together as a teenager one time when we were moving house. It contained things – mainly documents and pieces of writing - that I thought were important at that point of my life. Over the next few hours, the papers made me smile. For many reasons. I smiled because what seemed important then and what seems important now are at such great variance. I smiled at the illusion of permanence that seems so real at all times. And I smiled as I realized how little mistakes often lead to big things. Here are three little big mistakes that I am learning from and what they mean to me.


Honoring your parents


This sounds obvious, and I will have to get personal in order to put it in perspective. I know that my disclosures are safe with you. If you do choose to dishonor my confidence, I will accept that your need to violate my trust was greater than my conviction.

We live in times when it is not just fashionable to blame all the troubles in your life on your parents, but also terribly convenient. Modern science tells us that almost everything that could possibly go wrong with this complex organism called me can be tracked back to parenting. We have parenting classes, parenting blogs, and self-help groups for those scarred beyond repair by the lives of their parents. I have spent many years of my adult life believing that I would have had a “better shot” at life if only parents had been, for the lack of a better word, more “parently.” I have always been open about this feeling, and that has made life more complicated, since at a conscious level people do not always understand that love and hate are really the same deluded belief.

Of course, we are shaped largely by the actions of our parents. Moreover, it is possible to believe and wish that they could have done better. The truth is that if they could have, they would have. For some time, I justified their not “having done better” by telling myself that they didn’t because they couldn’t and they couldn’t because I was not important enough for them. It was only after I became a parent myself that I saw the fallacy of my thinking. Nobody plays to lose.

Guest Post: My Mother

When my friend and guide, Yogini shared her thoughts on the passing away of her mother last year, I was amazed at the insights she put together into old age, relationships, death and dying. I knew that I needed to host her experience on this blog. I continued to pester her till she finally sent me this - a poignant tribute to her mother and the lessons learned from spending the final days of life together. Over to Yogini.

*****

My mother lived part of her life in Africa and part in India. She was married at age 16 and the only thing her people exclaimed to her father was ‘where did you give your daughter in marriage!'

Hearing this, my mother determined that she would never let her father’s name down. Her married life started from being this princess in her house to doing every household work including fieldwork, milking buffaloes and making food for 40 people and taking care of in-laws with a terrifying father- in-law, garden work, and fetching water from the wells that were far off. She did all this with an aim to please everyone.

The mental agony of being treated like a child-bearing factory and to put up with a nasty tempered husband, not to mention the sarcasm and taunts of the other co-sisters who had three or four children while she had 13 of which 9 remained alive - it was not something that any of us today can either endure or want under any circumstances.

I do not remember my mother ever complaining about her life. I do not remember anyone mentioning that she shouted or screamed or cried and never heard anyone saying bad things about her. I was too young when all this happened and by the time, I was 18 she was already 54. While I write this, it occurs to me that even when I turned 22 I was unaware of my mother’s age. I lived with her at that time but was not present to my mother’s feelings, likes, or dislikes.

That I May Not So Much Seek

A few years back, we went through a particularly testing time of our lives. I had quit my job because I was unable to agree with my role of “optimizing” productivity and cost. My entire life’s savings and investments had been wiped out following a personal crisis. I did not have any marketable skills and I am not too clever at, well, anything. We chose to simplify our lives and work towards setting up a revenue stream from the only thing I knew to do – write. My wife, who, along with me, was then recovering from a deep personal loss, began to look for work. However, in the time that was going to happen, we were at home, with a good deal of spare time (even the most wicked writers do not write all day long or do they?), and heads and hearts full of dreams.


The dominant emotion we experienced during those many months was that of need – need for sustenance, for validation, for belonging. As we explored these feelings, we realized that we were not alone in our need. All around us, need was crying out. We also began to see that while a great part of this need was real, it tended to obscure the riches that we were blessed with. We had our health and faculties intact, we had a roof over our head, and food to keep us alive. We also had unbounded faith in the innate goodness of human beings in spite of having been bombarded by "takers."

Over the next several months, we explored the art of giving. Giving of our possessions, giving of our time and attention, and giving of our physical presence. We opened our doors to anyone who needed us – from the neighborhood kids to idealists doing incredible work with little or no support. We worked at no charge for organizations and individuals who wanted to make a difference to the world. We ran errands for the sick and the elderly. And we did this not so much as to test the law of cause and effect as to express our belief in abundance, to share what really belongs to us all – our humanity.

In the process, we learned a few things about giving. Here are some of them.

Another Such Victory



Is there any God greater than time?
At his altar loved ones wait in a line.
No bond undying, though it hurts to think so
Wonder where whose pyre must glow.

The carnival ends. The lights go out.
Fog rushes in, floods the emptying ground.
Empty of exchanges. Love, acclaim, censure.
No one knows where whose pyre must glow.



Surajit Dasgupta (July 31, 2013)
Translated by Subhorup Dasgupta

Consort Of Voices

Voice at first assembly: Superhero do not. Me do. Me tire. Often and easily. Rules forming systems. Discard not infringe. Many I know, love, and admire who persist. Then those who will not care. Respect to them all. The dark stillness of the heart knows the rising. Knows that rising and falling are one, inseparable, vital. Standing silent. Returning. A shipwreck. A fire. Diving straight back. Knowing. Understanding. Reach out. On good days, you hear music. The senses filter all else out. The analytical mind wonders where you lost it. As do the cursed. Superhero.

Voice in the air: Gladness and pain – looking out at the forest of desire and wishing for what was true, even a while back, but is not any longer. Blackness, fear, despair, hope. Accepting nothing suggested, knowing all knowledge to be misconceived, I never was just as I always am. Courage and grace superhero stuff. Whitman stuff. Nietzsche stuff.  I do not need to be known. Or to be understood. Does not mean I do not care. It only means I tire.

Voice at third assembly: The Bible that the daughter reads, the psalm the son sings and wonders, is this about me? Strange how coming of age means different things “in” different ages. To the flamboyant and frivolous and persisting, respect again. I am content with my pulp fiction and The Bad Plus. Is jazz discourse? Discourse leads to nothing. Nothing is as desirable. The fortunate few. Do not form systems. Look up, look up, look up. No conversation please. The word. Meaningless. I am everything. Ever was and ever will be. Not Buddha do. Not superhero do.


Disclaimer: This post is about representation, language, and spaces. My heroes include S. Dasgupta, Superman, S. Buddha, Beatrix Kiddo, Zarathustra, and the body electric. If anything in this post is perceived as offensive to any of them, please talk to my Dad.

Sleep Little Darling

Most people do it at night. Some take a go at it during the late morning, while others prefer a quickie after lunch. Some swear it is best in the late afternoon. There is really nothing quite as deliciously decadent as a snooze during the day. The problem is that for most, it is not an option during working hours. If you are at work during the day, it might not be possible to catch a nap on regular days, and if you work at night, your daytime sleep is really your night’s sleep.  With the new global economy and teams working across time zones, the sleeping hour has turned into an abstract concept. I am a sleepaholic, and like all good -aholics, I have tried to sharpen my understanding of sleep, albeit from a very subjective point of view. So on the occasion of International Women's Day (don't ask me why), here are my sleepy thoughts. I hope to be able to touch on daytime sleep, sleep hygiene and early rising in this post. And if you start feeling sleepy while reading this (an outcome my writing is well known for), you will know what the universe is trying to tell you.


Sleep is fascinating. How the most energetic, loud-voiced beings, regardless of age, gender or social standing just have to crumple down and recharge through cycles of REM and non-REM sleep is rather  amazing. Just think about it. No matter who you wish to be seen as when awake, when you have to go, you have to go – without a care for snores, drools, restless legs, sleep-talking, or throwing your arms over whatever or whoever is next to you.  The most aggressive or nasty of adults become childlike and angelic when they curl up and enter deep sleep. Like food, love, life, Buddha, and jazz, it is a universal secret code, one that nobody fully comprehends yet everyone is familiar with.

Condition Serious Hai

This one, nothing really really serious, is for all of you who wrote in over the last few years to tell me that you missed me. In this post, I try and be my old, lighthearted, loving, kind self. 


Explanation of the entry:

Recently, a friend sent me a book that s/he had written. It was a book of verse. Fairly straightforward, loosely asym-metric, everyday stuff. Very similar to what I write. What was interesting was the format of the book. Each poem came with an introduction, putting the poem in context. In some cases, the introduction explained why the poem was written. In others, they explained why the explanation was written, which then dutifully followed. Half way between Angelou and Spark Notes in terms of self image. After a few days, s/he asked me what I thought of his/her book. I was tempted to say what I say every time the mother (not "necessarily" the mama this post is about) cooks up one of her obtuse dishes, “Interesting and courageous.”

I did not though. The only reason for my compassion was that unlike many of us who sell shampoos, the future of the nation and cars (or hope to win contests) in order to support our creative selves, s/he teaches. To me, that is noble, no matter why (or what, heh heh heh) you are teaching. So I said something like, "I appreciate your commitment to what you are trying to do." I thought I was being pretty kind. Those of you who know me know that I was. Those of you who have read the book in question must be jumping up and down by now.

But then I thought, maybe that is why people don’t like what I write. Especially my poetry. Because I don’t throw in an introduction and an explanation. You feel cheated. Hence this preface. But then, thankfully, this love poem (please note, not about politics) is a contest entry. For a Cadbury 5 Star contest. With really one condition. A serious one. I will confine this overture too to the same condition, a small request not to be serious. At least not about the subject of this post. Because seriousness, as they say, it’s contagious. May the contagion always be with you.

Politics Of The Funeral

Anita Desai (not to be confused with her more popular namesake) is an upcoming story-teller, poet and song-writer from Hyderabad. This blog is honored to feature this piece by her.

*****

Since my childhood I had come to see funerals as extremely poignant and solemn rituals. The thirteen days following the passing of a dear one would be simple, unpretentious affairs. All family members; relatives; friends and neighbors would be completely shorn off all kinds of emotional pretense except grief for the departed soul. That would be the time when even sworn enemies would offer sympathies.  However, recent deaths in my family exposed some funeral behaviors in contemporary urban families. I share below a few observations.


Genuine Condolences
For any funeral, there are always a few concerned elderly people who turn up to offer genuine words of comfort to the grieved. For them death is the eternal fact of life, unconquered by mankind. They put in their years of experience,follow all rituals of fasting in the presence of the body, shoulder the deceased on its last journey and take charge of necessary arrangements. Sometimes help comes from unexpected sources, those who may not even be close to the family but land up at their doorstep to bring in food &tea, and reassurance. Some kind hearted folks stand by as they recollect the past association with the deceased. Someone stood by as they had not known their father, and this kind soul provided emotional stability. Some friends of an elderly gentleman who passed away tearfully regretted that they could not be with their buddy on his last journey, as they received the news of his passing much later. These are heart-warming moments which reinforce our belief in humanity.

Payback Time
A funeral can be used as a platform to settle past scores.  Some relatives decide to show up only for the sake of visibility among other relatives, devoid of any emotion for the departed soul or the aggrieved family. One close relative, who had been incommunicado with the grieving family for years,surprised everybody by just walking in straight up to the body, stared at it for a few moments and walked out. The person was later seen outside the house chatting up people. Some closest relatives turned up only an hour before the funeral,  passed a few comments on the generous soul and left without so much as a sympathetic pat to the grieving family. Other acquaintances called up to say “they had something important to do hence could not make it"; some bluntly said "be practical, if we have time will come."For some others, death wasn't serious enough to even call to offer condolences. All this only to settle some past differences. What better time for payback.

Grammy 2014: Press Play, Don't Press Pause!

Writing is therapeutic. No better way to experience this than by writing a post as one watches the Grammy Awards show. I did this a couple of times in the past and in addition to therapy (music covers up rising bile) it is also a self-declared challenge. I know many writers, well organized and eloquent, who write their pieces at one go, but I suck at it on my best days.  I prefer a slow and deliberate stroll, closely tending to clauses waiting in the wings. It is a good writing exercise still, especially as it ties in well with a project on my mind for the near future. The creative arts are intrinsically linked – with each other and with the state of the society. Listening to what the industry thinks is its best-of is a good way to reflect on this interconnectedness of all things.


Disclaimers and Requests: Since my attention is torn between things (getting my morning started, making tea, and a wide range of music, much of which I do not understand or appreciate), get ready for a rambly ride.  If music is not your thing, you can safely skip the next couple of paragraphs. If reading is not your thing, I have included a few videos obliquely related to the awards, but hey, you can still like my Facebook page. And finally, this post is going live on this blog because you guys don't follow the junk I write about music over at The Operative Note.

Before we set out, and as I let Lorde wash over the morning with her performance of Royals, let me share what I am looking forward to this morning. Willie Nelson and Kris Kristofferson regrouping (with Merle Haggard and Blake Shelton) and the possibility of Paul (chappie won the best trad pop album last year with Kisses on the Bottom and is up this year for the filmed live version of the same album) and Ringo playing together (happened!!!) are on top of the list. Somewhere nearby is a hope for a tribute to Phil Everly, someone who ought to be up there along with Robert Johnson, Buddy Holly, Elvis, and The Beatles in the scheme of things. There is no middle or bottom of the list for me, so anything that sounds good (both Lorde – check out her cover of Everybody wants to rule the world from the new Hunger Games soundtrack - and Kacey Musgrave are incredibly promising) will be a bonus. I never “enjoyed” much of the harder variants of rock, but am convinced the NIN-QOTSA act will be more of a massacre than a true McCartney-Grohl moment.  I am totally indifferent to both EDM and rap, so that leaves with nothing else to really be waiting for. Not a very optimistic view of the future of music, I admit, but usually by the end of the awards ceremony, like a Bruce Willis movie, music somehow redeems itself.

Forgiveness is Divine!

The new year, for most people, is a time for reflecting on the values that drive us. For me, the new year is also a time to cherish the gifts that life brings to me, often in unseen, unmeasurable ways. As 2014 started, one of the first gifts that came my way was a guest post from Rachna of Rachna Says. Rachna is one of the first bloggers I read when I began considering blogging seriously.  I learned a lot about how to balance personal and professional opinion by reading her posts about family, society, and blogging. This was of particular relevance to the newbie blogger in me since I meant to share my personal views, but was not sure about the boundaries I needed to draw. Over the years, I came to know her as a person, and her clarity of purpose became my inspiration. Her interactions with the readers of this blog through her comments often brought in valuable perspectives that I had overlooked, and her friendship filled me with hope and confidence. In this new year post, she explores one of the essential ingredients for a meaningful and happy life, that of forgiveness. Over to Rachna.

*****

To err is human, to forgive, divine!

Haven’t we heard this phrase and quoted it so many times? I know, I have! Yes, I do agree that on many levels, forgiveness is divine. We all have had people and memories that rankle. We have bitter experiences that are often hard to put behind. Just the thought of a particular person or the memory of an incident is enough to make the blood boil. And every single time that memory haunts you; your soul singes some more. Now it may not be apparent but all the tension, stress and negativity that we accumulate within festers and rips us apart, slowly gnawing and eating away at our mental peace and health. So, even though it may seem strange and even unfair at times, it is only with forgiveness that we can move on.



Forgiveness is something we do more for ourselves than for the offender. Remember the other person goes on living happily while you stew in your misery. It is time to let go to allow yourself to heal.

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