Saturday, August 3, 2013

Modern day survival kit!

The absolute necessities required in descending order of priority...
Don't take my word for it though and hold me to it!

O2 -

H2O -

Idlis -

Milagai Podi -

Music -
Internet -

Ice water - ✔ (couldn't resist leaving it out!)

A light heart - ✘ (working on this still! I'll know when this bubbles up to the top of this list!)

Challenges -  ✘ (current challenge is to create challenges!)

Saturday, May 18, 2013

Lessons from Life - II

I've always been angry at something or the other in my life. Still am, but now I am always aware of the anger, (cough cough) well most times, (ahem) some times, ok now and then!

Even though I've been angry for such a long time, it took me so long to learn this lesson about anger.

When someone is angry at you, walk away from them. It's the best thing you can do for them immediately, to remove the object of the anger (yourself) from their sight. Later - well that's a different story. I don't know. I only know the immediate solution.

I suppose it is not without merit that it took me this so long to learn, cause when one is angry, one tends to learn things very slowly.

Friday, May 3, 2013

Lessons from Life

Do not ever call another as judgmental. By calling them so, you turn judgmental yourself.

Do not ever call another as opinionated. By calling them so, you turn opinionated yourself.

Do not ever offer another your opinion. By doing so, you increase the chances of a misunderstanding.

Do not even say anything. By doing so, you increase significantly the chances of a misunderstanding.

Do not do anything. By doing so, you increase the chances of your action being misconstrued.

Do not ever take anything seriously. By doing so, you lose a chance at humour.

Do not ever take this list seriously. By doing so, you failed to understand this blog post!

... and thus we are lost in a state of infinite recursion termed as status quo

Monday, April 8, 2013


Life is too ridiculous sometimes.

You want to do good, so you set out to do some thing, but what actually happens is the unthinkable and the net result of what you set out to do becomes very bad. So in the end one ends up doing bad than doing good. So maybe we should not strive to do anything at all. There ain't no purpose to anything. Let everything rest. Let go of everything. everything.

Wednesday, February 20, 2013

Awareness - II

Ramana Maharshi had this to say about thoughts. Ask "To whom did this thought arise?" The answer being always "me", ask yourself again, "who am I?" and that eventually the question will dissolve leaving you with just the answer.

Dissolve into the answer? What did dissolve mean? Pondering over that, I wrote the below hypothetical account of how a question might dissolve into a answer.

Knowledge hinders the path to awareness by introducing beliefs, thoughts and ideas. 

Why learn at all? 

To have a job?

Which is that profession that doesn't harm others in some way or the other? None? Why work at all?

To earn more money?

Money buys happiness? By the kilo? No? So why slog and earn at all?

To eat? To have a roof over one's head?

Why not be content with what one has then? Why be greedy?

To provide for one's kin?

Which person have you got close to and not had misunderstandings? None? So why get close at all?

To love? Do we know what love is? Heady feeling? Intoxicating? Ocean of blah blah? No clue? So why love at all?

cause we think? About what? Love? Love is a thought? That ain't it?

cause it's instinct? Love is a instinct? Oh Feeling? What feeling? of being miserable at separation? Misery is love? That ain't it?

What is it then? It just is? is? is.

Sunday, February 10, 2013


* Might have spoilers - don't read it if you haven't seen the movie *

I have this friend who loves movies but who insists on watching morning shows. I find it tough to get up so early on weekdays when I have to (work!), so why on Earth do I agree to go for a movie at 10:20 on a Sunday morning when I could be cozily tucked in bed?
The answer: I called him for the movie and those were the only tickets available!

I've forgotten how beautiful the mornings are. Today reminded me of that. Sunday mornings especially are a gift. Sleeping on a Sunday is not the luxury (well that too), but getting up on Sunday early and doing everything so leisurely is the real luxury! And even at that leisurely pace, we both landed up at the theater well in advance for a change. Tell me again though, why one has to book tickets online and still stand in a long winding serpentine queue to collect tickets. Beats me.

The movie started quietly. Kamalahaasan's name was quietly displayed without the customary titles that shadow the heros of Tamil cinema like 'world hero', 'superstar', 'padmashri', 'star of the galaxy', 'white-dhoti man', 'smell of the village mud', blah blah
The first 40 minutes were amazing except for one thing, the scene where the gentle dancer turns into the maniac intelligence agent killing all the bad guys in seconds. That was really a brilliant idea of a scene, for it could have filled one immediately with a sense of awe about the main protoganist. Sadly the execution is terrible. First we see the scene. Then we see the same scene again in slow-motion about how it was all done. The only problem is the first time was slow enough for me and when I saw it again in super slow motion, it was almost like insulting the viewers. The concept was brilliant and the execution would have been flawless if they had sped up the first scene to last something like 2 seconds. They could have then spent the next 20 seconds in slow motion, Instead it's more like 12 and 20 seconds I think. The beauty of the idea was lost and for a artist of Kamalahaasan's calibre to err such is well kind of sad.

Once the characters are introduced, the plot moves into Afganistan, where an in-ordinate amount of time was spent. I figured out at the end why they spent so much time in Afganistan building up Rahul Bose's character. It's because there is a vishwaroopam part II coming up where these two characters will try to match wits against each other again. So given the overall context, it might have made some sense to spend so much time in Afganistan, but given the context of just this movie, it became boring. When my friend queried why were they spending so much of the plot in Afganistan, the only straight-faced answer that I could give him was that Afganistan is a big country and they have to cover everything! One only hopes that in Vishwaroopam-II, they don't think of covering the entirety of America as the story moves to New York from Afganistan again.

There are snippets from Nayagan - 'Neenga Nallavara illa keta vara' (Are you a good man or a bad man) as everyone tries to unravel who viswanath a.k.a vishwaroopam is really. At a spiritual level everyone trying to figure out who Kamal is, is downright funny, cause we don't know who we are ourselves! The prime minister has a personal chat with Kamala-haasan to assure us all that he is a good guy after all. Never mind that we are losing faith in democracy and our elected leaders. After all these scenes, my friend was trying to get the right phrase to describe what was happening and I filled it in for him, 'delusions of grandeur'. That's simply what the protoganist suffers from and for all his skilled prowess at being a intelligence agent, the protoganist isn't even well toned.

The villains want to detonate the whole of NY and they want to be air borne in their own private plane with it's own cute air hostess (couldn't resist eh?) just before the detonation, but the protoganist has his own ideas. Miraculously his nuclear oncologist doctorate wife is the one who really saves the situation, even though the intelligence agent, who even the prime minister banked upon was intelligent enough to not want his wife anywhere near the proceedings.
For a movie like this to succeed, one needs a equally powerful enemy and Rahul Bose could have been adept, but he exists only to boost up the grandeur of the hero even further. With a more capable adversarial image for Bose, this movie could have really had something without fizzling into the inevitable comic book triumph of good over evil.

The last straw of insulting the viewers was to indicate at the end of the movie that a part II was coming up. Was it coming up immediately that we can't even get out of our seats? Did they really think they had to advertise that fact as otherwise, ... otherwise we would have just missed it totally?

Frankly I don't think we needed a vishwaroopam to un-detonate the situation, a chemisty grad might have been just enough.

Thursday, February 7, 2013

Kara Kulambu (You have been warned spicy kulambu!)

In the last post I talked about how washing dishes was turning out to be fun. What about cooking then?

Been suffering from a bout of bad cold, cough and sore throat this week. Could hardly speak without sounding like a minimalistic gruff-voiced villain, somewhat like Raghuvaran, though I don't have his persona. So as a result felt like having some really spicy food - I guess primarily to serve the cold with notice papers and eviction orders from my system.

Now what could be more spicier than tasty kara kulambu? The way my mom used to make kara kulambu, we mostly used it as a side-dish! Fancy that! You top rice normally with some kind of podi, eg: thenga podi and then use kara kulambu alongside. If you are adventurous, you could also eat it directly with rice and spend the next 45 minutes gasping for icy cold water.

So how does one make Kara kulambu? So from what my mom explained, here's what I actually did. Turned out quite well though. The first instruction was to take a lime size of tamarind (Tamil: Puli). How do I know what I picked up is lime sized? Simple enough - you roll it up and visualize a lime momentarily replacing that dark tamarind mound in your palm with that of a lime. If the size agrees, proceed to the next step.
Note: If at anytime during this stage while you were rolling that mound of tamarind in your palm, and you happened to think of the Ferrero Rocher chocolate, then muster all that you can to resist the urge completely and totally to put the tamarind ball in your mouth! ok?

Take about a dosa batter spreading spoon (I think approx 5-7 tea spoons) full of cooking oil and spread it in a nonstick container. Even a tawa would do I guess. sprinkle mustard and wait until they start cracking. I always add the Jeera only after the mustard has shown some signs of life for I believe they can then enjoy each other's company. Plus Jeera and oil don't exactly have a great relationship and if you leave them together too long, Jeera gets a blackened face from Mr oil's front jab punches. Put some curry leaves and some garlic whole pieces. Add about a table spoon of toor dal (yes raw just like that. Don't ask.) Add one big sized onion and if you don't have any other vegetable, add more onion if possible and fry until the onion turns golden brown. Add any vegetable that goes well with Kara Kulambu. I had only ladies finger - so in it went.

Note to self: Need to make a list of all vegetables that work well with this kulambu. I have a faint suspicion that mushrooms won't. I remember once adding mushrooms to sambar and my sis-in-law spoke against my culinary skills for a entire week!. Oh! You think I should'nt have brought that up while you were diligently following my instructions till this point?

The moment you add ladies finger, sprinkle some salt. From a friend, I've found that if you don't follow this salt sprinkling diligently, you better be prepared for one really messy ladies finger web that spider-man might relish, but not us mere mortals.

Fry the mixture for some time on a low flame. While all this happens you have already made the tamarind paste with about 500ml of water right? You haven't? You better hurry up then and add to this! And then finally before increasing the flame to high, add three table spoon mounds of sambar powder. Be sure to add before the whole thing is boiling, as the powder won't dissolve well otherwise. I think it's kinda analogous to staying away from people who are boiling with rage! Philosophy aside, leave the mixture to boil on a low flame or a high flame as you desire until you see a thick mixture. If you don't see a thick mixture, somewhere you didn't follow these instructions to the letter, so your case against me doesn't have much of a stand in a formal court-room.

And you did add some salt in between all those steps right? The good part about salt is it can be added anytime! If it's thick and if it tastes well, then it's done. Refrigerate and use as side for all sorts of rice - coconut rice, thenga-thool rice, curd rice, blah blah...

Update: I think as a last step we need to add a tea spoon of sugar too, but I forgot while preparing the above. So it's ok if you forgot too!

A good friend of mine remarked some time back that he found cooking very therapeutic! I agree heartily! I think my cold disagrees though!

 Salt and Pepper having a dreamy dinner with Kara Kulambu in Romantic Paris. 
I think the yellow streak could be oil. It could also be a technical lighting issue. You do need some oil for it to stay without being spoiled (like a pickle) for some time, but probably not too much.

Saturday, January 26, 2013


When I was conversing with a friend what 'Listen to the heart' really meant (Yes I don't have better things to do!) , it triggered me to read and discover, that what people really meant by that line is to listen to one's own intuition. I've considered myself intuitive for long, but it has always seemed like it comes in flashes and I couldn't really invoke it whenever I wanted to. There was a period of time when I believed also that intuition was nothing, but trouble.

My research showed me that intuition works best in dreams and thus it's important to remember our dreams (Many people suggest sleeping with a note-book and pen by the bedside for this reason). About two days after I had read about how intuition and dreams were connected, I had the most vivid dream that I have ever had in my life. (Maybe it was vivid, for I was conscious about having to remember every single detail of it)

The cast of characters in my vivid dream were a varied lot. There was a relative who's long dead now, a close friend at work with whom I confide a lot, Sachin Tendulkar, Superman and another friend and his father. I'll spare the details and cut to the end, for that was the most significant part.

A death had happened, but people were actually hosting a function that was scheduled to be held. The friend's father with my friend was questioning the need for such a function at the present time very vociferously and very aggressively. Lots of people were trying to convince them that things happen, but life goes on, but they weren't quite in the listening mood. Seeing the proceedings, I venture towards the group and was just about to say, "There is no right/wrong. What people believe is only the right thing." and at the moment the words were to come out of my mouth, I woke up.

I didn't have a notebook or a pen handy, but I didn't need them. I was quite awake and I vividly recollected the whole dream in complete crystallized clarity (not the eastman color types of yore!)

Little did I know then, that simple message would prove to be the corner stone of a big transformation within.

I was discussing the dream with a spiritually minded friend and his immediate remark was 'Fancy you saying there is no right/wrong!'. It was true. I've always lived my life with a strong sense of what was right and what was wrong and the slightest deviation from that was enough to trigger anger in me. This was not any mild anger, but pure destructive rage. Rage, which sets my blood boiling, muscles to contract, eyes to shrink, teeth to grit and my face to assume massive ferocious contortions.
I've written a lot of posts about people jumping queues, about people jumping traffic signals, people not doing their work properly - all these used to trigger that rage within me and over the years, quite a few people have fallen victim to this rage. My close friends and family would also vouch for this rage within me. It is this in-built sense of right/wrong that prompts me to question the Maha-bharata too, as to why things happened the way they did. I've been trying to figure out that reason for a really long time and I never thought the answer to that perplexing question would be so simple.
For a background, read All is fair in love and war?,

In the Kurukshetra war, the Pandavas are quite apprehensive about the kinds of trickery Krishna asks them to do, but they eventually do it. Why would Krishna do such things? Weren't they wrong to do? This question has stumbled me for such a long time and to understand the answer to this, one must understand what awareness is all about. One must understand what enlightenment is all about. Of course neither am I enlightened, nor am I aware, but I can see my own transformation within once I see that there is nothing that absolute as right/wrong. We all know that murder is wrong and yet there are situations am sure that we could justify that it would indeed be the right thing to do. How could we have such contradictions in us? How many more of these contradictions do we have within us?

Krishna was not wrong in doing what He did. He did what He had to and in his heightened state of awareness, anything that He did would have been the right thing to do... We can also get to this state of mind by practicing awareness.

What is awareness? Different people call it by different names. Deepak Chopra calls it the gap between thoughts. Eckhart Tolle calls it the stillness of the mind. Buddhists call it nirvana. Some call it moksha. Some call it just awareness, 'to be aware'.

What I've come to understand about it is to be mostly conscious of what's happening outside and within us. Be conscious of your feelings, your emotions, your thoughts, your actions, everything that you do with the body and the mind. Just be aware of all these without having to classify them. For instance we get a thought, just be aware of the thought and when you are aware, you realize that there's a choice on whether we really want to act out that thought. This was a huge revelation to me for it meant I could control my anger quite easily, effortlessly. All I had to do was be aware of the thought that led to the rage and once I was aware of that, I noticed that it never came out as rage. All this time I had led a very robotic conditioned response to situations. Shit happens. So does my anger. It didn't need to anymore. There was a choice and strangely enough once I became aware of this choice, it seemed to always come out in much more loving terms. There was no violent repulsive action, there was just a calm sense of being. This is what prompted me to write the earlier line about Krishna. "He did what He had to and in his heightened state of awareness, anything that he did would have been the right thing to do."

How aware are you?

Watch the video below at least twice. (You don't need my prompting you to watch it twice, you'll watch it at least twice!)

Done with the viewing?

The moment we heard that a murder has been committed, we are immediately lost in thoughts. We weren't paying any attention to what was happening (at least I wasn't). To pay attention is to be completely hopelessly focused in the present, to live in the present.

Here's another simple experiment. Switch on the telly. Done?

Ok. Now think of the colour red. Done?

Watch the telly for one minute with as much attention as you can give this task and then come back here and read below.

Did you see the color red prominently feature on the visuals you saw on the telly? It's not just red. Think of another color if you don't believe me. The moral of the story is our thoughts cloud everything. To really pay total attention, one has to be in a zone of no-thoughts and that is not a easy thing to get into, for that's the state of awareness, that's the state of enlightenment.

When we grow-up, we are conditioned in all sorts of ways by parents, friends, schools, colleges, our experiences, beliefs that we see life through all sorts of thoughts, all sorts of filters. Education gives us a lot of these filters. These are what we call Knowledge, but sadly they don't allow us to see things as we are. J Krishnamurthy asks us to understand each of this, so we can discard them and eventually get to be aware. The moment we say this is right/wrong, we see the world through that filter of right/wrong, not quite conducive to seeing things as they are.
Isn't it interesting? Once you remove all these filters, you wouldn't have any thoughts and if you don't have any thoughts, you would be destroying the concept of the ego and then be enlightened.

Not by any means a easy thing to do. One will have to scruplously understand every little thought that one gets. Think of this one which everyone would have experienced at some point in time. "I Love her. I know. I do." Now watch the video below where Osho speaks about love.

Revealing eh?

Personally life's a lot more pleasant these days once I've been practicing awareness, discarding the in numerous mindless judgements that I have inflicted upon myself.

My initial experiments with awareness were simply to be more conscious of what I was doing. I was holding a cup. I was aware of how I lifted the cup and held it to it's current position. I was constantly aware of my breathing at least a 100 times in a day, something that I was not aware of at all earlier unless my heart was beating very fast. Even this much awareness was instantly rewarding. I was suddenly seeing new things in the sights that I have taken for granted. I was experiencing the car engine's vibration on the steering wheel in a more pronounced manner. Washing dishes turned out to be fun after all! So was ironing clothes. Life was turning colorful and when I researched more out of intellectual curiosity, I discovered that

Hinduism talks of 4 different ways of achieving enlightenment.

a) Jnana - Path of wisdom
    - The path of J Krishnamurty, Ramana Maharshi.
    Ramana Maharshi's teaching is really very very simple. The moment you get a thought, ask yourself to whom did this thought arise. The inevitable answer being "me", ask yourself again, "Who am I?". Eventually all attention will be on that singular question without any other thoughts and He says that too will dissolve in due time revealing the answer.
I see J Krishnamurthy's approach as more holistic. He asks us to understand the nature of thought itself, about how important it is to not subscribe to any guru, religion or school of thought including what He himself says as all of that would introduce more judgements and beliefs. Once we understand and discard all these judgements, beliefs, right/wrongs, thoughts, He says we'll experience the pinnacle of his teaching - 'The observer becomes the observed.", a state of being where we can observe ourselves independently and not have to associate us with our body or mind, a state of being without the ego.

b) Bhakti - Path of devotion
    - Surrender your ego to a guru or God if you prefer. This is what the majority of the population does today, followers of all religion, but sadly they are all lost in mindless rituals and traditions than following the true essence of what bhakti means - surrender of one's ego.

c) Karma - Path of Duty
    - Do your duty without expecting any reward thus destroying your ego.
Everytime you see A R Rahman speak you might hear, "Ella pugalum irivannuke!" (Loose translation: All credit goes to God - something like that)

d) Techniques like meditation, Japa, Raja Yoga etc
  - Osho and other gurus advocate this.

All these paths talk about destroying one's ego thus helping us understand who we truly are. The path of Jnana is supposed to be the easiest, but that's kind of subjective for me to say right now unless I am of course truly aware.

My mom used to tell me that to be a genuine person, one must speak out their thoughts as and when you get them. Well today I know that, that statement is as far away from the truth as it could ever be.

Have you noticed that thoughts are always about the past or the future and never about the present? I've been noticing my thoughts for some time and my automatic tendency now is to classify them as past/future. I couldn't classify them as present. The classification can't really help much and I need to learn to be just aware of them without any judgement/classification.

Here's to awareness!

Saturday, January 12, 2013


This thought gently creeped upon me today and entwined myself comfortably in it's solace.

To not feel alone in this world, one has to actually be alone in order to realize awareness and see how one is connected to everything else in a different plane