When to stop.

My friend told me about surrender and I realized I was going about it the wrong way.

Needless to say surrender is a word that’s so misunderstood that it has a space of it’s own in the trite corner.

Back to my friend, not only do I have one but she’s real. Not real versus imaginary, but real in having shown up with egg on her face and bad smells and financial hell and poor relationships and then picking herself back up and showing up all battered and bruised. She’s real in that she’s trying to step out of our magazine worlds, our ‘playing house’ narratives of ourselves and moving from romanticized and unreal people to emulate to being her real self. A bit like we were in school. With a lack of pretense and artifice as we didn’t know any other way to be.

So back to Surrender. Apparently it’s a real thing too. And something that is a good condiment in wanting to be a complete person and not a romanticized version of oneself.In the seesaw of life , or in the 360 degree circle that makes up the doing of an action and starting another , surrender is an end point. An end point in a circle.

Back to going about it the wrong way, I’d met Megha’s friend Surrender, but it was the surrender of books , or of Films based on classical literature. In surrendering it was a troubled Jane Eyre who found Edward Rochester ,an Elizabeth Bennet who found Mr Darcy and the guy who was searching for the meaning of life and went around the world looking it , to give-up and come home and see it in a drop of rain. My take-away from those stories was if you surrendered then you achieved your goal.

But the point of Surrender when it is a friend, is that to surrender Is the goal and that is the whole point. That is where it ends. Surrender is then the end point of effort . It may or may not be the prequel to a goal but that has nothing to do with us.

I see you nodding your head and tsk-ing. Even I’ve read abbreviated guides to The Bhagwad Gita and know that was what Arjun was advised by his lofty charioteer. ‘The fruits of your actions do not belong to you’.

But hearing and knowing are different things.

कर्मण्येवाधिकारस्ते मा फलेषु कदाचन | मा कर्मफलहेतुर्भूर्मा ते सङ्गोऽस्त्वकर्मणि || 47 || karmaṇy-evādhikāras te mā phaleṣhu kadāchana mā karma-phala-hetur bhūr mā te saṅgo ’stvakarmaṇi

Socially hijacked not maladjusted

If you feel depressed and ill-at-ease that probably makes some sense. Our Psyches have been hijacked and we have no locus on how we feel and what we think etc etc. Massively overfed on a diet of advertising, misinformation, junk values and outright propoganda. Big Interests have figured a way to capture our voice, vote and imagination without us ever being aware that we’d put it up for the taking.

Slow clap for buying into it all. As our fine legal friends tell us – ignorance of the law is no defence. Many years later when we have burned our neighbours, bridges and planet then ‘humko nai patta tha’ (erm, nobody told me.) is going to be poor defence indeed.

Smart phones and the information revolution instead of making the population massively clued in , have taken this mammoth population, off-road on a side route that is guaranteed not to be as scenic as advertised.

Advertising and pop culture feeds us on a non-stop diet of diabetes-inducing junk values. The more you consume – the better, happier, patriotic you’ll be.

Restrictive Nationalist movements encourage us to take potshots at people who’re not like us- because they’re to blame for everything that’s wrong for us.

The media have become lobbies for Political parties , who themselves are in cahoots with big business houses. Sigh, old news.

Fake News “organisations” wreak havoc with elections across the world . If its on whatsapp or YouTube – must be true.

Its endemic. I feel there should be some big signs like during big revolutions or wars. But they should be counter-irony.

Every Big Brother ‘Big Business’, ‘Big Media’, ‘Big Politician’ wants my unquestioning allegiance and I want to parody their insistent rhetoric.

Stop Talking Rot! Please maintain decorum.

I have more than 2 brain cells!

Also , get over yourself.

Might isn’t right

populism isn’t nationalism.

And mostly , who asked you?

But sigh, not much can be done.

As our Society has completely gone bonkers .

If our psyche, sense of identity was ever for the taking, its so much more now than ever because we take no pride in human values and have completely lost the ability to think for ourselves.

Scary times these.

Sending out my S.O.S.

Sometimes an overwhelming feeling of malaise hits me. Like I were on a ship that was soon to be sunk and me drowned. I want to yell help me, but much like Robinson Crusoe when his ship sunk – I don’t feel anyone is around to help.

And like Robinson Crusoe I feel quite alone. Like I’m on an island, doing my thing. That’s how I feel most of the time.

People who’re depressed complain of this feeling- one where you feel utterly unable to speak with anyone. Does that happen?

Sri Mister Robinson Crusoe with his Doggie.

And can be interpreted in any way . Sometimes you feel alone and you’re one with nature and sometimes you feel alone and you feel quite sad and separate from everyone.

I feel like that’s why I love being by myself or with animals or with friends with whom you don’t have to talk and you can just be , often just be yourself. And they’re not so fussed about your clothes and job and how much money you make and how cool appear to be. It’s an indefinite feeling. Being with people who are real and you can then be. Most of the time it’s just parts and acting.

I think that’s why I love writing. And the journal-ling aspect of things. Its almost like being on an alien ship and talking to oneself in a mirror to confirm that one exists. Journaling is.

And once in a while the universe responds in your own unique morse code. It could be a film you see, or a line from a book, or someone says something on TV. Or you meet an old friend or wonderfully you meet someone on a train and you feel – there are people like me in this world. This here is my tribe and my people.

This is why I rarely feel overwhelmed. Because when you meditate you have that same feeling into a hundred. A feeling of belonging and peace.

Pillars of Creation, Eagle Nebula, a cloud of gas and dust created by an exploding star from which new stars and planets are forming.
Image Credit: NASA/ ESA/The Hubble Heritage Team (STScl/AURA)

Disease, Asthma

I have recently discovered that I am somewhat allergic to milk. And well processed things and all fried-food.

I also have low tolerance for sweets and er.. red meat and well white meat also.

I’m sure any 9 year old will be able to give you a standard advisory about all those things but you really only know when you know.

I am trying to eat less of it or none at all rather but sometimes I dream of cheese.

My favorite yoga teacher used to say one focus unnecessarily  on food because that make “one a food faddist” . I agree.

I’ve a cloudy view that a lot of these allergies come from the contamination in our food and water.

I wonder how to start a sentence without using I.



asthma dairy

Death – The Great Equalizer.

At age 70 my father said to my sister ki zindagi pal bhar mei guzar gayi.  And he was different his last years, more introspective and more altruistic and looking to help than even before. He was always helpful, just more when he got older. He seemed to think his time was numbered and I’d pshaw him.

A photographer friend who’s also in his 80’s posted a photo about our planet’s size in our cosmic system. It made for a spectacular visual. Our itty-bitty planet.

My father made a lucky guess or had a premonition, but in either case he died unexpectedly one night. Any who could have been traveling at that time was traveling.

My mum came up to call me, we took him to The All India Institute of Medical Sciences , we thought he was sick. He’d actually died, perhaps 45 minutes before. He didn’t really wait for anyone.


When I weep I don’t weep for him, though I do sometimes, I wish I’d been nicer. I think  that he’s gone on to bigger and better things. I weep because I’ll never see my Father again. That fuzzy halo of white hair, the myriad emotions on his face, his voice, the feel of his fat hands, how he smelled for years. I’ll never sit in a room and talk with him again, never watch a cricket match and hear his comments, never pick up the phone and hear his voice the other end, never cook him anything or make him a cup of tea, never go for a walk or take him to lunch.

In yoga we talk about Maya and the continually changing nature of things. And it becomes easy to see the vicissitudes of life as coming and going. Our anxieties and our goals become  almost one in the see-sawing of life.  ‘Sometimes you’re up sometimes you’re down…’ isn’t that how the song goes?

Death somehow is one of those things that you can’t ignore. It seems like a tear in the normal ups and downs of life.

How can someone who was there one minute go to being irrevocably not there, not ever?

Death reminds me of death.  When I read the news today about LK Advani’s wife, i misread it thinking LK Advani had passed away. And my thought was death spares no-one.

Do you wonder about death my friend?

My death, hitherto unknown, near or closeby, will you be the sleep of peace, my final resting place?

Will I welcome you as friend or foe?




Recurring Plots.

portion of movie film reel

In a world that’s so overridingly connected is it possible to have anything new to say ?

I remember we were in college, way before Google became what it was and somebody said that all fiction was based on 7 narratives. Or that all stories essentially followed 7 themes.

And I remember searching in vain to find, what those oft-repeated stories were.

It’s 2015 and 4 hours at a desk and I cycle through the stories people now post on facebook.

Stories of death, love, grief, abandonment and well, just photographs!

And I see all these stories laid out for me, like a film reel at an old editing station.

Yards and yards of peoples memories and dreams – stories to be edited and made sense of.

It sometimes seems like we all have the same stories.


The Stones We Throw.


I used to be an angry child. At some point I picked up Guru Swami Sivananda’s book on Anger and that was my start to managing and understanding my anger. I’m not angry anymore, even at Delhi drivers. I do still get angry but it doesn’t last and it doesn’t consume me the way it did, nor do I carry it with me, for days or weeks or overnight.

The other day I went into a rage about something quite small and it brought a sense of unease, because I’m more self-aware and I thought I’d left that behind me – apparently not!

The sequence went like this- I responded to something said to me with buckets and buckets of anger, I boiled and responded with anger and after the fact  I felt hurt and upset about what had been said to me.

I’m smarter now, so I have some fabulous books that help me to have an outside or different view on a situation when all I can do is see it the same way. So I picked up this book by Rohini Singh where she talks about emotions that hold us hostage. She talks about our pet-emotions, our “Achilles heel” of  emotion as it were- worry , anger etc.

I found myself looking to read her observations on my age-old nemesis Anger and opened up to Hurt and Resentment instead. She likens hurting someone or feeling hurt to the throwing of a stone – pelting someone with a stone basically- and she looks at it from both points of view.

Rohini says when people throw a stone at you ,they’re not at their best and when you’re Affected by someone’s well-aimed throw you’re not at your peak either. That is things have power to hurt us if we let them! And when people throw a metaphorical stone at us , it’s an attempt to grab at our energy or to have our attention in a very twisted way.

She gives this example:

“Consider this scenario: I insult three people. One of them reacts by insulting me back, the second demands an explanation, and the third seems unaffected. Extend this scenario further; Three weeks later, I ask each of them how they remember the incident. The first is seething and has decided that he’ll neither forgive nor forget. The second has dealt with it, although he retains some indignation. The Third finds it hard to recall what happened!”

Rohini goes on to quote Eleanor Roosevelt : “No one can make you feel inferior without your consent.”


When I go back and re-trace what was said and why this fight occurred; this makes complete sense to me. If I was upbeat and positive and my “energy system” both physical and mental was at it’s peak, I would not have allowed myself to be so affected. It would have been like water off a ducks back. Not this duck apparently. The things said  were clearly  an attempt  to get attention and to “grab my energy” and I allowed it to happen. Sigh. Old Habits do die hard.

One can hope.


I’m not the only person who goes nuts when angry.
Check out what this lady wrote to someone who’d parked on her property. Bad Park You indeed.

Funny Angry Notes From Strangers

Encore Barack!

Honest Man and Politician are normally not words I would put in the same sentence together. Not only with regard to our Indian politicians but generally I think a suitable stereotype  is that one has to be slightly crooked or somewhat gray to be successful as a Politician. Wily, crooked, corrupt, , duplicitous,  are more common adjectives we use in when we speak of our politicians. (There are no words to describe George W. Bush apart from M.o.r.o.n.)

The well-suited American politicians might be better groomed and polished than their Indian counterparts are, but it seems to be the same animal; vested self-interest, lots of opponent bashing  and a lot of double-speak and rhetoric thrown in.

That said I was so surprised watching Round Two of the presidential debate.

While Romney came across as vacuous and critical and seemingly like he’d no plans of his own to bring to the table (other than criticizing the administration) , Obama came across as cogent, forward-thinking and an inspiring ‘man with a plan’.

I’ve made fun of Democrats in the past; not from any serious point of view but as an outsider talking about “Liberals” being tree-hugging vegan hippies and being impotent, but it was all quite flippant opinion more to tease my fervently loyal democratic friends than anything else; and perhaps also in keeping with my minimal expectations of politicians. In the last election Hillary was my number one, two and three, with Senator Shot-gun McCain a faraway  fourth. I remember not being impressed with the look of Obama and the broccoli-juicing population that roots for him

Watching last night’s debate and hearing him address the nation changed that for me. America would be lucky to have a leader like Obama at the helm,( especially if the other option is Mitt Romney.)

While both men seemed clever and politician-like during the debate viz a viz not answering direct questions and rhetoric, Obama was incredible to watch because he seemed to genuinely believe in an idea of America re-inventing itself – rebuilding it’s economy, cutting back on Defence spending – he seemed to have a lot of plans. He “talked” like any other politico but all his talk seemed in keeping with a cohesive plan for the future and an idea of a promising future.

Romney in retrospect was just glib and unconvincing. It seemed like his 5 – Point Plan was a work of fiction, homework his dog ate. He could not speak cogently on any aspect of policy ,whether it was creating more jobs or Energy Policies – it seemed he was like any other politician just out to win in any way, “to get” his opponent and to criticise without putting forth ideas/agendas of his own.

I’m personally a fan of America or the idea of America that we grew up hearing of, that my Dad spoke of. A land of possibility, a land of dreams, where anybody could make it good if they’d the gumption and the brains. Not the Fallen America that we’ve seen since the 2000’s . Not George Bush’s version  of ‘America As A Bully’, or  the  America of  Self-induced Economic Depression – but the America that Obama speaks of. One that will stand on it’s feet and be educated! And one that is hopefully inclusive , progressive and inspired.

It’s rare to find inspired people, people with far-sighted thinking; I think Obama could be one of those men.

Instead of cowboys like Bush or entitled but “uneducated” elitists like Romney or Akin or Ryan . I think a balanced and thinking leader like him  would be good for America and good for the world. (Fingers crossed on cogent Foreign Policy.)

I think Obama is the Hope for America and it was best reflected in the answer he gave to a young boy asking about jobs. Where he said an investment in education was critical both from a personal point of view (the boy’s) as well as from teh  countries point of view. That really cinched it from me. It was clear that Obama looked at this young boy (about to graduate from University) as potential and investment whereas Romney made it seem that this graduate class was a liability and potentially adding to the number of unemployed.

Obama went  on to give details about how he planned to ensure more jobs (and also gave examples of precedents where he’d done the same) whereas Romney harped on about blaming the previous Government and sheer rhetoric .

So all in all, I have decided that Obama is the man with a plan (even if he has vegan followers :)) and the hope that America  reinvents itself.

– Go Obama!


On a side-note, watch this video of the First Lady. She kicks-ass!

mind chatter

I’m thinking about clarity and succinctness and where our thoughts come from

Are we to be continually reacting to the world,

In a continual state of flux I bounce off walls I can’t see

Swayed by honourable decent things one time and then swayed by money and power and fame and

sometimes positively indecent things

Swayed by the popular perception

and sometimes by petty feelings

It is so hard to keep track or ever even know what is innate

What if every aspiration is conditioning and as changeable?

What and where is our internal map,

is there any?

What gives life direction,

What gives action direction

Which feelings and emotions are justified

And what feeds this body and mind

Is it a simple case of what goes in , goes out?

How can one live in any situation and learn to be at peace with you?

When is action informed, how do you know that your actions are informed?

I am beyond playing roles assigned to me by people

Now it’s just my own roles

How do I see myself in this play that my mind creates for itself

When it comes  to a frenzy inside me it’s so easy to just shut it off

How do I then create a balance between my mind and the other place, the other way of being that isn’t this mind


all of this is hilariously funny

If I were to transcribe all the differing voices in my head it would be quite a schizophrenic pandemonium

And all this while there is this external other world

If I am not out to lunch who is?

Ten Breaths.

I find Nadi Shodhana pranayama a go-to for all kinds of things. Both with students and myself. It can complement a sometimes dry asana practice and gives it that “other” element. Unlike some pranayama that sometimes have contra-indications or involve change in diet or environment, it can be done by almost anyone safely.

 It helps with managing swinging moods, oscillating feelings. It balances tendencies of introversion and extroversion. It’s a great way to calm and centre an active mind. In APMB it prescribed for everything from Insomnia to Acidity and Alzheimer’s. For women, it also works wonders with the hormonal and libidal surges associated  with menstruation.

 Beginners can avail of the benefits of this wonderful technique by doing the beginners variation, which is simply to breath through one nostril 10 times and switch to the other. I say 10 because one can focus for 10 breaths and it’s a good minimum standard. Asana Pranayama Mudra Bandha and even the CIBY explain in detail how to set up a good practice and progress in it.
Or you could  ask me.

How To Make Friends With Me- Part One.

I am thinking of handing this circular out to people at parties and to my mobile phone contact list.

1) Please do not talk to me, if you’d like to then please behave.
3) also please do not take offense if I’m MIA
4) I’ve made big strides in being available and functional as a friend but I am still inherently private
5) brush your teeth
6) wash regularly versus odorizing in all its smells
7) mobile phones have caller ID
8) If I don’t answer the phone please don’t call me repeatedly
9) text if you cant reach. I too might worry that you’re dead especially after 10pm.
10) you are excused from cell-phone etiquette if you are above 60 or very pretty
11) you are excused from all kinds of etiquette for being wise and/or pretty
12) Google Madhuri Dixit online.
13) Please abstain from short forms while messaging. If you have the time to send a message it’s more than likely that you have the time to type out love instead of luv and tc and neway and gn.
14) If you want to know how exactly “lesbians do it” then look it up on the internet. I am as equally as unlikely to want to share details of my sex-life with you as I am to want to know yours. Thanks but No Thanks.
15) Same with how much money I make. The last time I checked we weren’t in the same competition.
16) I don’t like surprises. I’m working on it, so just so you know dropping into someone’s house is for relatives (which you can do nothing about). This is in the encyclopedia Britannica under the name why-is-it-so-noisy-here-question-mark.
17) Familiarity makes you exempt from the surprise clause
18) My mum is the best cook.
19) ☺
20) have you ever worn long-johns in the winter?
21) Title-case is for losers.
22) please don’t be a dumb-fuck please!!!
23) No matter how much I bitch about my family I will not hear a word against them
24) As my best friend said it is more important to be kind than it is to be clever- if I forget please forgive me and pray for me that I do better. Really.
25) I will try to do the same for you when you bang-call me (see 8.)
26) Ghee is not the same as Daalda. It is one of the few saturated fats that are good for you.
25) This is a great song http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=m2CJZiP4_Sc
26) With that said , if you’re still around…
27) HelloHiHowAreYou?

Let me see who can keep you from me now.

The Last Journey

You have gone on a journey in your youthful days
Of seeking and wondering who you are,
And what is the meaning and purpose of all.
Journey on bravely, have no fear,
For now you are no longer alone.
You are protected by a mantle of love,
And unseen hands guide and direct you.
Though your footsteps may falter, your strength seem weak,
Be assured you will reach that goal which you seek.
Journey on bravely and if you feel tired,
Give yourself time to pause and reflect
On the glory of the sublime heights before you.
For if you get too fatigued, you may fall prey
To temptations and thoughts of return.
What have you left that demands your return?
Your days of worldly ambition are over,
Though you may not yet have fully grasped this fact.
You still feel you belong neither here nor there,
But in truth you are already with me.
You have realized the emptiness of worldly life,
Yet have not attained to other planes of existence.
You are not certain of where you belong,
But I know who you are and where your home is,
And where you will find all the things that you seek.
What is past is over and cannot be restored.
It was all a part of the journey of your soul,
And your search to find your real self.
You have begun to realize what you really are
And what the purpose of your life really is.
If you return to the world now, you will be lost
And your life will have been spent in vain.
O child, keep your eyes fixed always on the goal!
You are my child who has returned lo me
Let me see who can keep you from me now.
You are surrounded by love and by light

Swami Satyananda Saraswati


I am an invisible child of a thousand faces of love
That floats over the swirling sea of life,
Surrounded by the meadows of the winged shepherds,
Where stillness of divine love and beauty
Rain in the spring and bloom in the midnight
Summer’s warmth of softness.

Often I pass to the place
Where there is no separation of the sun and moon,
But where eternal light spreads a carpet
Of sparkling reflections of itself
Within the hearts and eyes of all,
Even those who are blind to see.
Where sweetness has no taste,
For it is the essence of all beings,
And where teardrops water flowers of happiness
And pass into brooklets of experience
And then to the open sea.

Life often cuts at my body and mind,
And though blood may be seen passing,
And a cry might be heard,
Do not be deceived that sorrow could dwell within my being,
Or suffering within my soul.
There shall never be a storm
That can wash the path from my feet,
The direction from my heart, the light from my eyes,
Or the purpose from this life.


Thiruvalluvar Statue

This statue is of a southern Indian saint and embodies the glorious principles of Vaastu.
Kanyakumari where the statue is located is the place where the three oceans meet (it could be seas, I’m not sure what the difference is) – The Arabian Sea , The Bay of Bengal and the Indian Ocean. It definitely warrants a visit.
(The picture is off David Remon’s flickr page)


contemplation on food

“… Consider the long process the food has gone through before it finally arrived in front of you. Spare a thought for the earth which held it in its womb from whence it sprang, for the sun which poured down its loving rays upon it, for the rain which watered it with care, and for the wind that fanned it into life. This process is also a type of yajna. Give thanks for the farmer and the harvesting, for the shopkeeper, the marketing, the effort that went into the cooking, and for the serving. Think also of all those who will go hungry today, and how fortunate you are to have this food – for ‘All is Brahman’ just like you.”

Beautifully said. Read the complete article here.


from http://www.akiwibird.com/2012/05/yogi-in-red.html

Menstruate and Invert?

from http://www.akiwibird.com/2012/05/yogi-in-red.html

A fellow teacher asked me the other day about my views on doing headstand during one’s period and I said an emphatic no. This view is a 180 degrees from a few years ago.

Our school is unaccountably vague on this issue. Our primary textbooks (C.I.B.Y & The Yoga Training Manual, TTC manual) don’t go into details nor do they offer alternative menstruation sequences.
The silence on the part of Swami Vishnu. could be deliberate , because menstruation in religion has been a laden and highly controversial topic in India’s recent history. There have been such a variety of warped taboos imposed on Indian women in the name of religion, that one could surmise that he steered clear of adding fuel to the fire and also of giving any more ammo to some of our really twisted and fanatical religious elements. My personal guess however would be that it was an oversight rather than deliberate. Our Swami was a man and it probably didn’t occur to him to include practice notes for menstruating women. Plus his book is pretty general (with reference to practice notes on specific asanas) and that seems to fall in line with the oversight theory.

The idea of menstruation and inversions being a “big thing” then came as a surprise to me during one of the group discussions during our TTC in 2006. Even then the opinions of our senior instructors were mixed.

Some seemed alarmist and said it wasn’t safe as blood could flow back into the fallopian tubes, while others thought we didn’t hold the poses very long(30 seconds to a minute) in a practice class so the issue was moot, while still others like me thought it were a matter or personal choice and to be dictated by how one felt on the day.

I was of the view that it was a big hullaballoo over nothing at the time until years later when I started practicing the menstruation sequence by Shrimati Geeta Iyengar. The experience of doing this “restorative sequence” on bloody days was quite fabulous. What a glorious sequence and so in tune to the body’s rhythm- I was an immediate convert to alternative sequencing! And then the old G.D. from our teacher training days came to me and I decided I needed to read a little bit more and see if I needed to “touch up” my ‘personal choice’ policy.

Guruji, BKS Iyengar says “Avoid asanas during the menstrual period. But if the flow is in excess of normal Upavistha Konasana and dash dash dash may be performed with beneficial effect. On no account stand on your head during the menstrual period.”

While Geeta Iyengar says “During the monthly period (48-72 hours) complete rest is advisable . Asanas should not be practiced but if there is some tightness or tension then forward bends from dash dash section are helpful; over-exertion should be avoided. Normal practice may be resumed after the flow stops completely.”

Now this is intuitively how I’d come to practice, I did feel on period days that my body wanted to rest or alternatively do a hugely different restorative sequence, usually the former.

My go-to for all yoga queries is the Bihar School so I decided to check with them to decide the issue once and for all and as per their understanding and they’re quite clear that no inversions are to be practiced during menstruation.

Where does that leave you oh bleeding yogi?

Read the relevant information for yourself. The information must come from an authority (Book or teacher or informed source) not from a .003 second Google search.
Then have a check-in with your body, see how you’re feeling . Does your body want rest?
Combine the two , throw in a dash of common sense and then decide how you should practice and if.

My two-bits is in for a day or two of rest and relaxation and to treat oneself to something nice! Let me know how you feel.

From Native to Refugee – Basharat Peer

This is part of a blogging exchange that I did with my friend Ish who writes a blog on books in her life.
I absolutely love her blog, appropriately titled ‘Book-Ish’.

I have a picture of Ish in 2001- where she’s seen reading not one but two books at one time.
Yes, at the same time.

It’s a great blog and I continually check it out, not only because it connects me to a friend who lives far away, but because it inspires me to read more;
maybe not two books at one time, but read more nonetheless!

Here is a link ‘Curfewed Night by Basharat Peer’


Old-school and Exercise Fads

Completely Worth It!

Driving my brother my bro’s old Ambassador the other day, I found myself getting sweaty – no power-steering and windows that you have to roll up manually. Granted it was a hot day but my wet clothes made me realise how in white-collared India life is geared towards just not moving our limbs. Everything is either a click away or at the push of a button!

We drive to work and then we spend the major part of the day at a desk or at a computer. Back at the home we’ve hired domestic help to do grunt work. Machines can wash our clothes, clean our floors and chop and dice our food. Our body is capable of such a variety of movement yet we do little apart from sitting up and down and get out of bed of-course.

Drawers seal shut, hinges rust, metals tarnish and batteries loose their charge – yet we continue to exalt in a lifestyle that enourages complete disuse of the body, oblivious to the age-old fact that what we don’t use we loose. Immobility becomes chronic and we reach a point where our physical and mental health suffers.

Often I get students who after half a life of non-movement come to yoga and they mistake the benefits of finally getting that gargantuan mass to move, to with what yoga is! Students, teachers and the promoters of yoga are responsible for a gross oversimplification; where yoga is seen as exercise or as a substitute to it.
which does justice to neither.

Even a comparison of the physical effects of both shows markedly different effects.
Yoga works on the organic body i.e the organ systems including the spine and nervous system. It acts as a “lubricating routine” for the muscles, bones and ligaments. It stimulates and balances the endocrine system, regulating our hormones thus keeping our moods and urges in check. It prepares the body for the experience of meditation and in that it is a tool for expansion of consciousness.

How do you even cook these?!

Exercise on the other hand has more outwardly and simpler goals. Weight loss and fat burning are among the top followed by body sculpting, increased strength and speed, endorphin release, toxin removal and so on.
Exercise is often competitive yoga is not.

Exercise does remain the more efficient way (quicker, faster) to loose weight and get a body of a desired shape. Walking , skipping, running, jogging or weight training- will get you to burn that fat much quicker than yoga asana will but the doozy is if you get fit with yoga it’ll take longer but you’ll stay fit longer.

Yoga is undeniably physical but it’s also so much more. A healthy body, weight-loss, muscular development, correcting ones posture- are by-products of practice but they aren’t the ultimate goal of yoga. Yoga was devised as tool a tool of self develpoment with the laudable goal of expansion of consciousness.
The Sivananda school says ” you access the body to access the mind”. A perfectly shaped bum might be the product of going to yoga classes but it wasn’t what rishis and munis meditated for years to achieve. Which does not mean you shouldn’t practice yoga for the physical benefits, just that an awareness needs to be there that it’s a deeper system.

Plattered Pork Ribs.

As teachers, in our attempt to make it palateable or market friendly and to cater students who want fad bodies- we begin to dilute age-old sequences so that a “yoga” class starts to look like aerobics or acrobatics/ As much as power yoga enthusiasts would have you believe – power yoga is not yoga.At most it is a diluted version of the real deal.

I’ll end by saying yoga is not for not for everyone. You have to choose a system according to your mood, lifestyle and temprament. Common sense dictates that some people are better suited to punching bags than yoga mats and vice versa. Because something is “golden” doesn’t mean its the best fit for you.
It’s akin to miracle foods. Ofcourse your vegetables are good for you but some people will just be happier eating meat and potatoes.

“Find out if your relationship is destined to last or whether it’s time to throw in the towel?”

firstly L fucking OL.
I did not write that headline, but wish I did. Not only because it’s an attention grabber but because the accompanying article was on YahooNews and they get so much traffic! I read their stuff all the time when I get out of my email account and their headlines are the best! They had a great article on Breast Milk Ice-cream that I will discuss at a later date, when I have the time to devote to it.

I wonder what is the demographic of the person that writes these things though? They’re so well written but clearly pop-psychology.
Irrespective of that after reading this glorious article on yahoo news – I have figured two things;-
that a) I am one of those people who read relationship advice on the internet and
b) that all signs indicate that she is the one.


So when I’m walking around the fire, seven times as the Hindus do it in our holy marriage ceremony – I’ll be sure to thank the gifted copywriter at Yahoo’s Online News Division for convincing me that I’m in the real deal. And if she or he is old enough to buy a drink at the time of the said nuptials -I will buy them one! Yahoo news headline writer – I.O.U. !

Have abbreviated and pasted below – just a quick scan will make you laugh!
The last one is especially good.

Signs they’re not the one

Find out if your relationship is destined to last or whether it’s time to throw in the towel.

The bad times outnumber the good
You should feel secure and content in your relationship at least eighty percent of the time. If you can’t remember the last time you actually had fun together without arguing or things getting fraught it could be time to pack your bags.

They constantly put you down
A bit of friendly teasing is cute, but if your other half seems to get their kicks from making you the butt of all their jokes or belittling you in public, alarm bells should definitely be ringing. Putting someone down – especially in front of others – is a power game that you should play no part in.

They refuse to talk things through
All relationships hit rocky patches, but if your partner deals with things by shutting down and giving you the ultimate passive-aggressive silent treatment you’re never going to be able to work through your issues together. It’s time to move on.

Little things get on your nerves
Okay, so it’s annoying when he/she leaves the cap off the toothpaste or forgets to put the milk back in the fridge, but those aren’t deal breakers. It’s when you start to feel irrationally annoyed by silly little things like his hairy toes or her singing in the shower that you know they’re not the one for you.

They take you for granted

You disagree about the future

They forget important stuff

You can’t stand their friends

There’s no spark

They don’t like your family”

Their Name is Ted Bundy

Downward Dog

Yoga: semantics and practical experience.

Bucky and Satchel do Yoga
Get Fuzzy on Yoga

Yogis believe there is a purpose to life; the caveat is that to figure out what that purpose is, one needs to have a healthy body and mind. This is one of the aims of yoga and one of the first goals for a newbie yogi – Health.

You could be Richard Branson, Swami such and such, Husain Bolt or on your computer , health would be a bonus and the lack of it would hold you back, whatever your vocation- it will be enhanced by the vim and vigour of health.

“Health” in Hatha Yoga is a meatier concept than understood in regular exercise (gym, pilates, sport etc). Health is “when all organs function under the intelligent control of the mind”. Which is different from the popular one that views it in light of physicality and musculature – how lean or buff something looks or alternatively how far one can hit a ball versus the engineering of how someone feels.
Yoga techniques are different because they affect physical health, mental and emotional well-being, as well as skeletal and muscular alignment.

Yoga as laid out by different schools remains holistic – integral yoga. I don’t include diluted versions of yoga in this definition (power yoga, hot-yoga and the like) but the classical schools that have endured across the ages and have a guru-shishya parampara.

Some explain it as the four maargs of yoga;- Karma, Bhakti, Gyan and Raja that and deal with the different paths one adopts.
The path of a Karma Yogi is all about work in the context of selflessness. Whatever work he or she does is in the attitude of service without thinking too much about the fruits of the action. Work is service and work is yoga.
The path of Bhakti tackles it from the p.o.v. of temperament and emotion; where strong emotions are combined and transmuted into a feeling of love for the divine. Catholic choirs are a pretty typical example of Bhakti and focussing strong emotions.
Gyana Yoga is for intellectual types and a Gyani uses his intelligence and discernment to get to get to the truth. Scientists are a good example of Gyanis.
Raja yoga is known as the royal road and it deals with the mind and techniques to know and use the mind. Meditation is a Raja yoga technique.

Another describes it as the 5 points of yoga. A person is compared to a car – “a vehicle for the soul”. The analogy is used to explain what one needs to do to get this Car to function well i.e. Proper Exercise, Proper Breathing, Proper Relaxation, Proper Diet and Positive Thinking and Meditation analogous to a Lubricant, Battery, maintainance, Fuel and a Responsible driver in a car.

Some of the Southern school of contemporary yoga philosophy (in the lineage of Shri Krishnamacharya, Jois, and Iyengar) explain it as the eight limbs; which is also how it’s laid out in one of the classical scriptures of yoga i.e. the Yoga Sutras of Patanjali.
“The Eight Limbs are a progressive series of disciplines which purify the body and mind – Yama (Don’ts), Niyama (Do’s), Asana (Posture), Pranayama (Regulation of Prana), Dharan (Concentration), Dhyan (meditation) and Samadhi (super-conscious state of oneness).”

The idea being that schools and teachers describe yoga differently and approach it differently, but at the end of the day it’s all and still yoga – an attempt at physical, mental and spiritual union-bringing the body, heart and head on the same page.; A step by step attempt at practical wholeness.

Yoga begins as a process of awareness. By practicing regularly a different understanding is created of the actual “extent” of the body i.e. how big “the body” is and how our emotional and mental health is tied in to our physical health and vice versa.

Where the practice of yoga takes you is a wholly personal journey but it is undoubtedly a step toward wholeness and a holistic tool for self-awareness.
As good old Swami Vishnu used to say “health is wealth, peace of mind is happiness, yoga shows the way”

Yoga – practice and chatting.

chicken rage
hot chicken
Back in 01 when I started doing yoga – I was often asked by curious people what it was all about and I found myself fumbling for answers because I didn’t know much about yoga than the little we practiced in class; I didn’t know what the yogic texts were, why there were different schools, if it was separate from religion, where it fit in the scheme of things – questions you get asked in the regular course of conversation. This was before yoga became the catchword that it is now. And much before the time a ‘yoga’ search would bring up a 1000,000 results on Google. Yoga evangelists had yet to hit television screens and Bikram’s attempt to patent ‘Hatha Yoga’ was yet to create international furore. I was 19, fresh out of high-school and had grudgingly agreed to join a nearby yoga institute with a couple of college friends.

In the hazy periphery of my mind yoga had been linked with our grandparents generation. My memories of doing yoga as a kid had to do with being bored and resenting being forced to practice while my siblings were either sleeping or playing.
Despite my initial reservations I found myself enjoying the class and engaging with the idea. The teacher managed to retain our interest and we liked her a whole bunch despite her natty floral pants.

Apart from having to account to other people the how’s and why’s of what we did, I wasn’t all that interested in studying the philosophy
but people were super-curious and I felt foolish not knowing so I read our instruction manual from cover to cover.

I read through the names of the poses in Sanskrit, their correct pronunciation, why they were done in the order they were, benefits and a bit of the history of our school; I imagine I would have been pretty set to handle a lot of questions.

Its been ten years and I’ve had cause to define and re-define my definition of yoga many times. I’ve read a few books, many articles, attended talks and studied with some fabulous yoga teachers; this is my fourth year teaching yoga and I’ve realised that the philosophy is great but it amounts to very little if you don’t practice for yourself. The understanding that you get from practice and then committing to practice, day-in and day-out, is different from the understanding you have from reading.

The magic of yoga comes from trying it out on your own. It’s like “sleeping”. The rest comes from sleep not from reading about it.
This is something we were told on our first day at the institute and it is published on the brochures at the institute and it was what inspired a Swami Vishnu. (then a young recruit in the army) to go seek the illumined sage that said “an ounce of practice is worth tonnes of theory “.

road rage

Practicing yoga changes my life, not hugely that I’m an enlightened being but in small ways that make a difference to my life and to my everyday. The first benefit I had was of “awareness”. In cities, our senses are continually bombarded and in turn seek stimulus and titillation. Think about having the gift of awareness when driving in Delhi's ghastly traffic. Quite soon, I stopped dreaming of letting loose with guns and wanting to shoot people for driving like "idiots" in our congested streets. The traffic is still hectic but I'm less likely to explode – which matters to me if not to anyone else.

I return full-circle to what I knew at 19 couldn't articulate – Yoga is about practice and how it makes you feel.
Inverting my head and chanting Sanskrit shlokas – makes me feel good. And I stick with it because it makes me feel closer to the earthgrounded and calmer and I like that I want to shoot people less.

Chem. lab

Relationship-wise I’ve been through a dry spell of late.
I find myself having to resort to hook-ups for sex; but they are solely that -with people I wouldn’t commit anything to other than a ride back home. It’s not my idea of dating but it’s safe sex and with people I know. Friends with benefits if you will.

Conceding that I’m still getting some- my current choice of fuck buddies puts me in a dismal cycle of introspection that I don’t want to meander through.

In a room full of prospects, with boys and girls with the appropriate check marks why is it that noone catches my interest? There is attraction doesn’t go beyond a few words of converstion or a meeting or two at most.
Where is that zing, that hazy warmth or is that something I made up about past love and romance?

I’m gorgeous, bright and unattached and sometimes terribly lonely. I haven’t been in a serious relationship in a while and I miss the companionship.
I miss the fitting, the unsaid understanding, the combining of opposite energies, the sex with someone you care for.

I know I’ve hit some kind of wall when after numerous outings and pick-up lines, I’d much rather be at home with my dogs. Jaded isn’t a feeling I enjoy- this cannot be as good as it gets.

Trail of Crumbs.

It’s the August monsoon. Our class is on the Chatt. With their oiled hair and forever darkened eyes , they see something else entirely, they feel all the same things with their hearts though. They never let me fall into that trap, where I or anyone else sees them as a label-“blind chick”- no way!

I could, because it is just so easy to put people in a box- categorize , deal and dismiss, but they don’t allow that . They’re very much individuals, strong ones, they speak their mind, full of curiosity, eager for praise, cracking jokes at the teacher’s expense (mine)- fantastic girls, no different from any other 20 year olds except that they don’t have the eyes that work for them.

I thought teaching yoga to visually challenged people would help, it helps regular people so much with co-ordination and balance and with body-awareness. And I began it not as social service but as an interesting idea that would take hold of my brain and refuse to leave. Much like how yoga originally came into my life- I didn’t know the “why” of it- I would just do it!

The idea took seed and root, opportunity made itself known- I coincidentally stumbled across this Training institute for visually challenged women. Teaching yoga to these girls goes beyond like or dislike, it has nothing to do with it or with anything I want. I struggle though with not knowing the A to B; I have no earthly idea why I want to teach this class and where it’ll go- either for them or for me.

Which is rare because we like to think linearly and reasons to do things define us. You know how you get those inspired ideas that snowball into all these aspects of your life? One step leads to many? This is like that, except the idea hasn’t snowballed and I haven’t figured where it fits. Am I of any help to them in the larger picture? With my fitted tights, my muscles and my university degree – of what help is my evening yoga to the lives of these girls? Like when someone asks you a trick question and at first you think you have the answer but then you’re not so sure? I feel like they help me more than the other way around.

On the face of it – I’m helping them. I know this , I can see it in their now erect carriage and how their brows smoothen and I can see it in their smiles and I know they like me as much I like them and I know they look forward to the classes. But somehow when I come back home I feel like I’ve been given something. Like they’ve given me something immeasurably more and with more depth than I could ever do for them. What that “thing” is , I don’t know but I know they have given me something else than I could have ever given them.

Through this, I am becoming increasingly of someone watching me. In this interplay between giggling Mina and gang and the serious me, someone or something watches over us. I see glimpses of something, glimpses that portent to be a trail of crumbs. I feel like Hansel and Gretel from the children’s fairytale except I know that the presence is a benign one. Some one is waiting to eat me at the other end, but in a good way. I cannot qualify it, but I’ll go with it.

Nothing happens without Grace.


It’s the monsoon season. I climb the stairs to the terrace. The institute smells, not the bits that are open to the public but inside, in the dining room and in the girls rooms. It’s musty and the place could do with a coat of paint.

This class is a completely new start for me, I set it up and so on. I thought teaching visually challenged students yoga had potential and I wanted to challenge myself.

It’s been two months and I’m not sure how well I’m doing. We’ve shuttled from the AC of the media lab, to the lawn, to the ghastly hall and finally settled on the terrace. I like the terrace – the girls aren’t distracted and we have a tonne of space.

It feels great to be outside. The terrace is quiet and you can see treetops and clouds and the August sky. The girls can’t see anything, not because they’re lying down but because they can’t see, not with their eyes and not in this lifetime. I’m a fan of fresh air and exercise which is why our class is on the terrace. Inside the tube-lights are depressing and I don’t want the girls to have to smell onions frying in shavasana.

Some of the girls smell too and it’s not something they can help- the smell of perfumed hair and sweat and clothes that couldnt been washed cleaner. I take for granted the ability to groom & primp and and to clean my room but everyone doesn’t have that.

I also really like these girls. They make me laugh and force me to take myself less seriously. Working with them is one of the hardest things I’ve done. It makes me feel out of control and very small. This class challenges me, the least of it is that they can’t see me. In my fitted tights, with all my gorgeous muscles and intermittent moments of calm I question my yoga training and what it amounts to -who is helping who? The girls have a wicked sense of humour which is a nice change because yoga classes can get really serious.

I am anal about mat placements and everyone facing in one direction. I rightly expect all the things that I do from my sighted students and then sometimes I berate myself for making it so hard for them because doing yoga poses well, is possibly the least of their concerns. However teaching yoga is what I know and if they’re my students they are going to have to apply themselves wholly.

There is so much give and take involved a yoga class, students aren’t aware of it at a conscious level but how they feel when they leave your class has to do with what you’re projecting that day- what you put in is what you get out. Because students and teachers attune to each other’s frequency, it’s very important to vibrate well as a teacher. Understandably mood-wise this class vacillates a lot more than any of my other classes.

Everything becomes curiously magnified with them. Highs and lows. My patience or lack of, how proud I feel when they try, how funny I think they are, how much I try in and outside this class, how much love swells inside me when I see them, how much love I feel from them, how absolutely small I feel – with my muscles and my university degree, my hard-won ability to correct any pose- what is the point of it all? On the face of it, it’s me teaching them. But it feels like when someone asks you a trick question. You think you’ve the right answer and then you wonder if you got the question right.

This idea about teaching yoga to people who couldn’t see came into my head from nowhere, much like doing yoga came into my life. It’s been a snowball of an idea that has refused to get bigger.

My friend Bhasin put it so aptly “I just want to cum yaar!”. I can’t tell of what help I am or of who is helping who.

Through it I feel like someone is watching me; alternatively encouraging, lighting my road but laughing still. I don’t know who it is and I really don’t get the joke.

monsoon of gratification

Compulsive behavior is inordinately  satisfying. I sink into familiar modes of action. It’s easy to do without thinking, to act without hearing all the voices in my head. To stop the analysis and give-in to a part that is also you.

We do some things consciously and some unconsciously. An omnipresent pattern in your food habits, approach to dating, approach to people and in the execution of tasks.

It would be lying, cheating, sexual games, procrastinating, gluttony, the games we play while dating and mating; it’s guiltless because there’s no need to explain yourself to yourself. The answer was just because I wanted to. Nothing beats the silence of a guilt free mind.

The desires that refuse to leave us are fragments of primary instinct, related but in a warped way. The need to sleep, desire for food, progeny and the fear of death define our lives every day. But in a world where our senses are continually stimulated – the links between sensory perception and gratification are out of synch and we find it hard to tune into the natural cadence of the body and mind.

It’s comforting and familiar to act a certain way, even if you know it’s going to turn out the same old way. Is an intervention needed? Analogous to madness, if you want things to turn out differently , you’ll have to do things differently or do different things. And on the flip side if it works, why fix it?

Comparison seems entirely unnecessary. Some people have innately healthier fall-back patterns. Does it matter?  My vices are my own and there is immense satisfaction to be had in owning them.

The babel mutes to a soft murmur as I roll up the window  to an ever-engaging present. I slip back no matter how much I’ve dissected and analysed, how to my detriment it can be to repeat a pattern. This hues of this desire colour my world, I know they will inevitably set. But for now I am happy and alight. The dormant parts of me, parts that I sometimes don’t allow will enjoy this rain while it lasts.

I love Butch girls and How!

I met this very cute ‘Butch’ girl the other day. She was stunning really – muscles, tanned skin, pearly smile. She was kind of offended though that I said Butch. I think she thought I meant that she was a “tractor lesbian” or that she’d forgotten to wax her moustache. I didn’t. She’s a gorgeous woman, both when she’s being a tomboy or when she’s perfumed and coiffed. What I really meant that she had that elusive appeal, that ease about herself that made me want to hand out my telephone number as my heart did somersaults in my chest.

Apart from the anguish about being lost in translation, I started to think about ‘Butch’ and how it has so many different connotations how we understand it differently depending on how out of the box we’ve allowed ourselves to be.

For me Butch is completely about personality and an attitude to life versus a ‘Look’. Somehow, in the media and socially ‘butch’ has come to mean that if you dress a certain way you are a certain way. Dressing in a way that’s out-of the box isn’t equatable with thinking of feeling out of the box; Looking like you don’t conform isn’t the same as non-conformity.  And I mean not conforming in a purer sense, not to be contrary but because you know no other way to be.

So I don’t think being butch is about being a “diesel dyke” or a “tractor lesbian” or all the other words we have for girls who dress differently; I don’t think being butch is about wearing men’s jeans than it is about your attitude and personality,

I think what’s common to both Butch men and women, is that they’ve found intuitively or through trial and error that the good old boxes of male, female, gay straight don’t fit so well and so they go on to make their own. So I met very manly men who won’t shirk from acknowledging their soft side, who’ll allow for their creative side and who’re not scared to pretty-it-up. Or women who’re assertive, active, confident about their sexuality or sex without caring  what other people think. That to me is definitively Butch!

Butch people have an ease and self-confidence about them that makes them irresistible. It’s hard not to like someone who likes him or herself the manly parts the chick parts, maybe not the moustache but whatever floats your boat.Whether you’re a guy or a girl being ‘butch’ it’s about allowing for all aspects of yourself; for the strong, for the soft and for the shades of grey.

http://abcandrogyny.tumblr.com/post/778253741/callum-wilson-by-kai-z-feng-blogThese lucky people are a tonne of fun to be around because they don’t apologize to you for who they are and in turn inspire confidence in you to be who you are.

So to all those Beautiful butch men and women out there, who switch between manly men and womanly men and between manly chicks and womanly chicks and all the shade of Tran – you make my heart race!