You are a Houseplant

You are a houseplant. 

This should be the starting point of every spiritual conversation, or the first thing one learns in life. Everything else comes after this.

Yes, you are a houseplant. You grow out of a seed, then blossom into youth by feeding on the mother earth, and eventually get dissolved in the same place you came from. Along the way you trade everything that you have (the atoms of your body, the breath, the happiness, the sorrows, and much more) with your surroundings — you take some, you give some. That is all there is to life, isn’t it?

You are a houseplant. Your ancestors grew and spread somewhere in the wild, until they got caught in the trap of civilisation and lost memory of their roots. Then, generations later, inside the comforts of these four walls, you were born. You stayed away from the wilderness and thus acquired certain mannerisms; you are soft and gentle and kind. You also have the time on your hands to contemplate the depths of your own existence.

You are a houseplant — but you are not an ordinary one. You are a houseplant that can walk, talk, drink coffee and read this text, with a thousand other things in your mind and a smile on your face. This means that you are a houseplant with some extraordinary powers. 

But…as they say, with great power comes great responsibility. And so you have to look after yourself.

Where do I start, you might ask?

You start by assuming that you are a houseplant — a complicated one, but still a houseplant. So you start with some water. Then some sunshine. Not too much, just a little. Go slowly and mindfully, starting with your breaths and movements and diet, and then pretty much with everything that you do.

Often our priorities go in the opposite direction. That’s why we suffer. We don’t believe that we are houseplants, but some giant trees in a forest that can endure anything that comes their way. In reality, we can’t. Once upon a time, we used to be that, but not anymore. Now, we are houseplants. So let’s keep it that way and take a deep breath.  

The Man with an Eating Disorder

(Art: The Poor Poet by Carl Spitzweg, 1837)

How would you feel if I told you about a man who has got a dangerous eating disorder?

This fellow, while still in bed in the morning, starts eating whatever he finds around his bed. This goes on throughout the day and right to the point when he falls asleep. Often he does not care whether the food is healthy or not. In fact, there is hardly any time to think about that because he is too busy eating one thing or another.

Needless to say, it does affect him. There is a constant feeling of pleasure, which is addictive. Sometimes it makes him angry, sometimes sad, or depressed. On some days, he keeps eating and puking every few minutes. Surely, there is going to be a long term damage on his body and mind… but he doesn’t care. When you point it out, he gives all sorts of reasons. “Food is important, it’s fun, it’s amusing” he says and keeps going. “What’s the point of my education if I can’t eat? What would I do in my life without food? I will change the world by eating more.” And so on.

Now, how would you feel if I told you that perhaps this guy is you and the food is all the information coming from various news and individual sources?

The Pagans of India

To understand India, the first thing that you need to know is that it is neither secular nor a Hindu nation. India is a place which pagans (both believers and non-believers) can call home. It’s the last bastion of paganism.

This is the reason why it has resisted and will continue to resist Christianity and Islam, the two major world religions which do not approve of paganism. This is also the reason why it sometimes associates with mainstream Hinduism (when the religion provides an umbrella for all pagans to flourish), but sometimes dissociates from it (when diversity is challenged and one school starts to dominate) and gives way to new religions like Sikhism, Buddhism or sects like that of Ravidas, Kabirdas, Ambedkar, etc.

India does not have one religion, but thousands. It does not have one god, but millions. The only time Indians protest against totalitarianism is when it tries to bring down their gods. They have done that in the last 5,000 years and might as well do in future.

Why Do Most People Hate Liberals?

Why do most people hate Liberals?

If you belong to this tribe, that’s not even a question. That is just wrong, you would say. We will come to that.

Let me start with British journalist David Goodhart’s proposition: Anywheres Vs Somewheres.

Anywheres are well educated, mobile and tend to view the world as a global society. Therefore, they advocate universal human values such as secularism, feminism, environmentalism, freedom of expression, etc. It does not matter much to them if they live in Delhi or Bangalore, New York or London. If an interesting opportunity comes, they move. And they stay aware about the global events.

Somewheres constitute the majority of the population – around three quarters and sometimes more. They see the world from the point of view of the society they live in. They have their own values depending on the community they live in. So, for them, religion might be more important than secularism, or, their own tribe more important than humanity. They don’t look much beyond their immediate surroundings.

The two groups live in their separate worlds but these worlds constantly collide with each other, especially in politics. It must be noted that Anywheres, despite being a global minority, occupy important positions in politics, media and businesses. This is due to their education and high mobility. Besides, since they are globally connected, they use these connections to their benefit. Somewheres don’t have such privileges. A Somewhere of Bihar won’t get any support from a Somewhere of Texas.

Somewheres see Anywheres as elites, or cognitive elites perhaps, who lecture them on morality, mock their ignorance and call them bigots for being concerned about their own community rather than the global society. They feel that Anywheres don’t care about culture, religion or any kind of traditional values. Instead, they are hell-bent on destroying the traditions. In the name of improving the society, they criticise it every single day without really caring about it.

Somewheres don’t resent wealthy elites as much as they resent Anywheres. This is because, they know that they can be rich or powerful, but Anywheres will never accept them in their tribe since there is difference in values. Take Modi, for instance. He is the most powerful man in India but Liberals won’t accept him. People notice that. So, Liberals can show as much sympathy as they want towards poor people, but the same poor people would go and vote for Modi and wouldn’t give a hoot about those elite concerns.

What happens with such insecurities?

Here comes right-wing populism. It defines Anywheres as Liberals (perhaps most of them are in fact liberals) and mobilises the society against them. Liberals respond with their global network and go hard against right-wing. This, in turn, proves right-wing’s point. And Somewheres see this attack on themselves, on their own values. So, they (and they constitutes majority in any society) hate these people, whoever they are – Anywheres or Liberals. There seems little difference anyway. And majority does like simple explanations.

What is the solution?

For starters, one needs to be rooted in society. If you want to change a society, especially for better, you first need to convince people that you belong to it. If they see you as outsider, no matter how noble your intentions, they won’t accept your beliefs. First show your love, instead of hate. And whether you like it or not, you will have to make use of your identities such as religion, nationality and culture.

Photo Essay: Tibetans in Dharamshala (India)

The late 1950s saw the beginning of the Tibetan resistance movement and uprisings against China. But the enemy was too big, and therefore, the possibility of success almost zero. As a result, thousands of Tibetans were killed. The Dalai Lama and some members of the Tibetan government subsequently fled to India, followed within a year by about 80,000 Tibetans.

Today, more than 1,25,000 Tibetans live outside Tibet, without any hope to go back. This brings us to Dharamshala, a small town located in the Himalayan foothills of north India. Dharamshala is important for many reasons: it is the largest settlement of Tibetan community and host to the Dalai Lama along with the Government-in-Exile. (Check out this photo-essay to see more of the town.)

In this photo-essay, we’ll catch a glimpse of the life of ordinary Tibetans, residing in Dharamshala. Let’s start then, shall we?

Tibetans are politically active people. They make sure that they raise their voice, particularly when it comes to the matters of world peace, human rights, and China. You will often see them protesting for one thing or another at the main square.

Buddhist monk in Mcleodganj Dharamshala

Traditionally, there has been a practice of at least one child in the family joining monastery. This is why monks and nuns are everywhere to be seen. Some preaching on the streets…

Buddhist nun in mcleodganj dharamshala

And some relaxing at a coffee shop.

Buddhist tibetan monks in mcleodganj dharamshala

Tibetans have traditionally been traders and merchants. For centuries, they have been visiting India to buy and sell goods. This practice continues as they have set up shops in every corner of the town.

Mcleodganj market

They have brought a cafe culture in the town. Wherever you turn, there is a cafe — and each one of them is as cosy and comfy as you would expect in a hill station.

Mcleodganj cafe

The same goes for street food. There has been a momo-and-chowmein pandemic in recent years. Even in a small town like this, you’ll find hundreds of momo-and-chowmein vendors.

Mcleodganj street food

Tibetan women play an important role in the family. They take up different kinds of jobs to support not just the family but the community as a whole.

Tibetan woman in mcleodganj

Tibetans work very hard to preserve their history. They have dedicated groups working on this. It is due to their intimate connection with their roots that they have preserved every aspect of Tibetan language, religion, art and culture. In fact, they have created a mini Lhasa in Dharamshala.

Tibetan artist dharamshala

Most Tibetans live a comfortable life in Dharamshala. The new generations don’t really consider the idea of going back to Tibet. The old ones, however, do talk about the past with moist eyes.

Tibetan woman in dharamshala

In today’s world, every time when someone asks this question — what do immigrants do to a place? — we expect a negative response. But, when it comes to Tibetans, the answer is usually something like this: immigrants make the place richer — socially, culturally, aesthetically. Without them, Dharamshala wouldn’t be nearly as beautiful.

Note: I own the copyrights to all the images used in this photo-essay. Kindly contact me at if you wish to use them for any personal or professional work. Thank you.

The Myth of Secularism

Secularism is generally defined as the separation of state from church (or any other religious institution). In other words, the state will either stay neutral or favour/condemn all religions equally. As we shall see, this ideal is an impossible one to achieve.

Let me explain with the help of an example. Consider a society which has two sets of people: Religion A and Religion B. Below are some of the fundamental beliefs of these two groups of people.

Religion A is that of polytheists. All kinds of diets and drinks are allowed in this religion. All humans are considered equal and at a superior level than animals.

Religion B is monotheistic. The followers adhere to a strict plant-based diet — no meat, no alcohol allowed. All animals and humans are considered equal.

Now let’s imagine a secular state for this society. The state claims that it holds secular values and does not favour any particular group. However, you’ll soon notice that secular values are still values and will either favour or condemn either group. Consider the following scenarios.

  • On the fundamental question of god and theology, the state decides to stay neutral. “To each his own,” it says. Notice how this neutrality favours A over B.
  • On the question of food choices, once again our secular state suggests that people should be allowed to eat whatever they want as long as it does not harm a person. Once again, this goes against B’s belief which puts animal rights on the same pedestal as human rights. Favouring A, Offending B.

You can keep doing this exercise and the outcome would still be this: whatever a secular state decides to do or not do, it will follow particular values, favouring one set of values over the other. Upon close observation you will find that these are simply modern, western values (influenced by Protestant Christianity and Europe’s history). That is all there is to modern secularism. It’s a religion in itself, giving you an illusion that it is keeping you away from one.

Is India a Thali, Dairy, or Khichdi?

There are as many ideas of India as there are Indians out there — and they are in plenty. But, as the legend has it, through constant churning of a vast ocean of ideas, we get two key perspectives which often stand against each other. The same happens when we discuss the idea of India.

India is a Thali

This idea, first articulated by Shashi Tharoor, has been at the heart of India’s liberal politics. As Tharoor puts it:

India is a thali, a selection of sumptuous dishes in different bowls. Each tastes different, and does not necessarily mix with the next, but they belong together on the same plate, and they complement each other in making the meal a satisfying repast.

Shashi Tharoor

We learn the following things from this perspective.

  • that different cultures come together to form India.
  • these cultures may or may not intermingle.
  • on the whole, they complement each other well to form a united India.

India is a Dairy

The dairy term for India, coined by yours truly, seems apt because the underlying idea comes from the conservative intelligentsia (and you know how much they love and respect cows!), especially in recent times.

Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh (RSS) chief Mohan Bhagwat made the following remark in 2021:

For over 40,000 years, the DNA of all people in India has been the same… For several decades, our ancestors fought to preserve our culture that holds India together today.

Mohan Bhagwat

Now let’s focus on what this idea leads us to believe.

  • Indians are the same people despite diversity in language, culture, form of worship, etc.
  • in other words, we should remember that all the products in this dairy come from the same milk.
  • the milk, in this case, is a traditional Indian system with certain characteristics of Hinduism dissolved in it.

Consequences of these ideas

At first, there doesn’t seem to be much of a clash between the two. But, when you trace their trajectory and what consequences do they lead to, you see the challenge. Let me explain.

The Thali idea acknowledges the differences that exist within India, while the Dairy idea focuses on the unity. So far, so good? The problem comes, when you see their sensitivities. Thali sensitivities — for liberals — kick in when you start talking about some kind of uniformity measures, such as uniform civil code, one language, etc. Similarly, the Dairy sensitivities catch conservatives when someone points at the differences and talks about reservations, freedom to proselytise, etc.

An alternative idea

Let me propose an alternative: India as Khichdi. No, it’s not like the American melting pot where the participating elements lose their identity and just become American. In khichdi, you can still recognise the ingredients, once the recipe is ready. You know the rice, the pulses, even vegetables or chicken if you want to toss some in (at least I do that). And there is no strictness around the ingredients either, you can easily replace one with the other. In other words, the Khichdi Model gives you the best of both worlds. To summarise,

  • different elements come forward and preserve their identity.
  • these elements remain together and go well with each other.
  • one can talk about unity while appreciating diversity.

Khichdi is what unites India across its geography, castes, cultures, religions, language and what not, and it’s only fitting that we use the term metaphorically as well to find some sense of unity.

Photo Essay: Dharamshala (India)

Dharamshala is a picturesque, multicultural town sitting in the lap of Dhauladhar mountains. The place has its unique charm which could only be described visually and so I took this opportunity to take you on a ride.

As soon as you enter the town, you encounter a stream of vehicles honking at you, crowds gossiping as they walk on both sides of the road, and a confluence of some unfamiliar fragrances.

Mcleodganj market

Then, you turn north and look at the mighty Dhauladhars; standing tall, overseeing every little thing going on here.

Dharamshala pics

But, wherever you turn, you would catch sight of a Buddhist monk.

Buddhist monk protesting

Even when you walk deep into the forest.

Buddhist monk himalayas

As you (probably) already know, McLeod Ganj is a suburb of Dharamshala where most of the Tibetan refugees live, including the Dalai Lama. It’s a major tourist attraction. (Check out this photo-essay to see the life of Tibetans in the town.)

Mcleodganj pics

And when you’re here, you would surely want to check out local cafes. They are budget-friendly and offer amazing food.

Momos pics

Illiterati Cafe is a delight for book lovers. If you are anything like me, you’d come here and eat up a lot of books.

Illiterati cafe dharamshala

Shiva Cafe is located high up in the mountain. It’s run by a Kashmiri Muslim who has decorated it with Hindu and Buddhist symbols. Multiculturalism exists in every house, every shop here.

Shiva cafe bhagsu dharamshala

I am not discounting the fact that since you are here in the mountains, you might want to spend time away from crowds and close to nature. If that’s the case, all you have to do is, take a walk uphill.

Dhauladhar mountains

Alternatively, if you go downhill, it’s not too bad there either.

Dharamshala tea gardens

The further you go down, the more you move away from the Tibetan culture and experience the state of Himachal.

Dharamshala pics

One last thing: as long as you are in Dharamshala, remember that it’s as much a town of dogs as it’s of humans. So, be nice to them.

Dharamshala dogs

Thank you for taking time to read. Let’s meet soon!

Note: I own the copyrights of all the images that have been used in this photo-essay. Kindly get in touch if you wish to use them for any personal or professional purposes.

On Having No Home

Last evening, when I was about to step inside my house, I was greeted by a snake at the door. A long, dark one, slithering along the floor. That sight scared me. So I hushed myself and rushed straight into my room. And as soon as I had locked myself in, a strange thought occurred to me. The thought of those stray dogs that were roaming (and barking) not very far away. They still had to live with the snake in the vicinity. Unlike me, they didn’t have any place to hide themselves in. In other words, they didn’t have a home.

What a tragedy it is to not have a home! To not have a place to retire to at the end of the day. To see others entering their concrete structures while you roam around the streets aimlessly. (If this sounds like a Bob Dylan song, trust me, it’s not a coincidence.) Anyway, coming to not having a home… True, a part of us does seek freedom beyond all bounds, but there is also a part of us that prefers to be caged in, shielding itself from the threats of this cruel world.

We all need a home.

Now, allow me to go a step further. Home exists as much in the psychological sense – if not more – as it does in the physical sense. Often we call our dwelling place our home. But the idea of home goes much beyond that. There is our house (which we call home), then there is hometown, or home country. And then, of course, we have our families with whom we share our home, and without whom this home would just be an architectural wonder (or blunder). To make matters more complex, along comes the Theseus paradox: all the above-mentioned aspects of a home are likely to change. We shift our residences, relocate to new cities, and even family members change as new ones arrive and old ones leave.

What, then, is a home?

No doubt, home is our dwelling place but it is spread across past, present and future, in our memories and dreams, in real as well as in a metaphysical world. Where we spent our childhood (which shaped our idea of home) is still our home, and so is where we are planning to move next. Then there is an abstract idea of a home in our head and we strive towards it. That is our home too. How much abstraction are we able to bring into reality – that’s a different matter. But there is always a home in the head which is a beautiful blend of all our identities, our hopes and desires, even fears. In short, home is an identity.

This means, you can be homeless even if you haven’t lost your house. That’s the modern-day homelessness I am speaking of. Where there are houses upon houses, but few homes. No one quite knows where they truly belong. There’s a strange kind of spiritual crisis one can see all around where people believe nothing (and they cannot accept it either). The way all cultural and religious identities are dying a slow death, it’s worth pondering. There remains nothing and no one else, except the individual – the lonely, miserable individual. That (identity) too is under threat now. The age-old question ‘Who Am I?’ has become meaningless, adding more meaninglessness to life if there wasn’t enough in it already. All this has rendered many to become homeless while sitting comfortably insides of what they describe as their homes and pitying the homeless of the world. That, to me, is a bigger tragedy than that of the stray dogs dealing with a snake in their vicinity.

In Praise of Ordinary Life

Artist: Johannes Vermeer

One purpose of Art is to allow us to see the beauty of ordinary life. This has a great value for a vast number of people. Because, that’s where most of us live: in the ordinary. Not everyone has or is going to have an extraordinary life, the riches of the world, or what the common definition of success is.


We all can have Art.

We can have Art even when we have nothing else. You take everything away from a man, strip him off all his possessions, put him in prison, make him starve to death, but… he can still sing a song in his head. Art never abandons us.

It consoles us, comforts us, makes us see things beyond their ordinariness, and most importantly, gives a deep sense of meaning to our life.

Chai and Memories

As much as I love having chai by myself, I am equally fond of watching people sipping their chai. I like to guess what kind of person they would be based on how they prefer their chai and how they smell, sip or slurp it. I know, I am wrong with my guesses, but it does not stop me, and nor does it stop the memories from getting stirred.

I remember, once upon a time, I fell for a girl who fell for ilaichi (cardamom) chai and I followed the course. While adding sugar to chai, I am reminded of my parents – one likes excess sugar, other none. And while sipping, I almost always think of an old man who took forever to finish his chai; on the other hand, my three-year-old niece gulps down the cup in one go.

There is a cultural element too. In India, hardly any interaction – pleasant or otherwise – goes without a cup or two of chai playing the role of a witness. Come over for chai, no? Is it time for chai? Let’s have some chai. Make some chai, will you please? These are some of the expressions commonly used. And nobody ever says: do you drink chai? That would be blasphemous, for heaven’s sake.

However, it was not always ours. We got it from the British, twisted it in our way by adding milk and spices (a bizarre combination, if you think about it), and made it our own. Chai is not alone in that regard. We did the same thing with Cricket. And with English language. But, it doesn’t really matter, does it? After all, they started the loot first along with the word itself.

Chai means different things to different people. To me, it just means countless stories, and each one is as unique as the person I have shared my chai with.

Writing a Sentence

Artist: Dr Gyanaditya Mourya

A great sentence is like a beautiful moment in your life. The emotions you experience while reading it are rich and vivid and often unexplainable (nor do you care about the explanation), and yet, despite all the richness and beauty, you still know that cannot hold on to it and will have to move forward.

Writing Meditation – Day 5

It is said that depressive thoughts are a consequence of the burden from the past and anxious temper is a consequence of the fear of future. In the previous exercise, we dealt with the former. Let’s work on the anxiety part now.

The anxiety about the future comes from two activities going on in our minds:

  • We are thinking about future.
  • We are not thinking enough.

Some people might advise you to not think much. After all, that is the primary cause of anxiety. The problem is, it does not work. We cannot simply ignore the voice in our head or stop hearing it.

The other approach is more practical. It comes from the second cause of anxiety: that is, we think but we don’t do it enough. If only we can carefully explore the possibilities, we would realise that our fears, even if they come true, cannot end everything. Besides, it gives us a perspective on how to avoid getting close to our fears, and if not avoided, how to plan in order to deal with such a reality.

Thankfully, we have writing.

Daily Exercise:

Take out a piece of paper and a pen. Think of your life after one year from now. Divide the page into two segments. On one side, write down the ideal scenario: things you would love to have. On the other, write about your worst fears. Pick at least two-three points from each segment and devise a strategy to get to a point or avoid something. Be precise about both. Go back to this page from time to time, update it and track your progress.

Soap Bubbles

Artist: Jean Siméon Chardin


Think of a soap bubble.

It comes out of a tiny speck, and as it breathes some air, it grows and floats amid the emptiness of this vast universe. And the next moment, it vanishes, completely. Nothing really changes because of its arrival or its departure. But, while it was there, soaring up into the sky, it felt special; a little magical too. Perhaps, that was the whole point of it. To show itself and everyone and everything around, that, it’s not that magic exists but that the existence itself is magic.

Now, think about your life.

Writing Meditation – Day 4

In the previous exercise, we learnt how we can use the art of writing to deal with the horrors of past. The healing takes place over a period of time as we repeat that exercise regularly.

In today’s class, we’ll employ a similar technique to:

  • Learn about empathy.
  • Clear misunderstandings.
  • Add sensitivity to your writing.

The primary cause of most of the misunderstandings around us is our failure to understand other people’s point of view. It may sound like an easy task but it is one of the hardest ones in the world. Try asking a manager in an organisation. Or a married person.

Understanding others is a skill which can only be learnt once we are capable of generating empathy for them. And in order to do that, one must see the world using the other person’s lens. This is what a writer or a filmmaker does when they tell you a story using text or visual medium. They let you experience the journey through a character’s eyes. The result? You are often far more empathetic towards the people in those stories than those in real life.

Let’s try to bring that aspect of art into our everyday lives.


Daily Exercise:

Think of a particular incident described by someone to you. It could be their own personal story or someone else’s. Recall that story in your head and write it down on paper. While writing, make sure that you are understanding their perspective and are being fair to them. Now read the whole piece and try to see the world through their eyes. Repeat this exercise with a number of people and events.  It will surely add a new dimension to your personality.

Writing Meditation – Day 3

One purpose of writing is to transmit information. The other, and more important one, is based on its therapeutic value. That is to heal you.

Psychologists suggest that any memory, older than eighteen months, if it generates a strong emotional response without you being able to rationally understand or explain it, that means you have not been able to heal yourself completely from its trauma. Most of us carry this burden. The good news is, we can work on it. Which is exactly what we are going to do today.

Through today’s exercise, we are aiming to:

  • Bring out the disturbing memories from the mind and place it on paper.
  • Get a sense of clarity and consolation by revisiting the memory in written form from time to time.
  • Apply the same to the other wounds of past as well.


Daily Exercise:

Think of an old memory (preferably older than two years) which still troubles you. Take a deep breath and recollect all that happened back then. Now, write it down on a piece of paper. Once again, don’t use an electronic device. Simply let it come out. And as you write, try to make sense of what you are writing. Read it to yourself once you are done. You can make changes if you think you have not been able to articulate yourself well the first time. When it’s finished, keep the note to yourself. It’s a precious, little gift from you to yourself. Congratulate yourself for this valuable accomplishment.

Let’s Play with Words

Communism is an ideology, Nazism is an ideology, Hinduism is an ideology, and Islam is an ideology.

Let’s play with these words here. I am going to replace:

  • Islam with Communism
  • Hinduism with Nazism

Now, I am going to write a couple of news headlines for you:

Over 1000 Communists infected with Covid-19, account for 30% of all India cases after the virus spread in the Communist gathering. 

A Nazi chief-minister of a northern state of India attends a major celebration at a Nazi office. 

Just spend some time absorbing these headlines. Do they feel the same? Do they evoke the same emotions? Does it feel better or worse? Be honest with your answers.

Now, see people’s reactions to these two news headlines:

  • By calling them Communists, you’re spreading Communism-phobia. They were people. Human-beings.
  • What’s wrong in attending a celebration party at a Nazi office? If Communists can do that, why can’t Nazis?

See how sensible or senseless these reactions seem with our new set of words. Or do they feel the same? In either case, you decide.

In my view, words have an impact. Depending on what emotion a particular word evokes in our head, we react to a piece of information. That’s how we perceive and react. Even one substitution can change things.

However, I must say that these personal biases are neither good nor bad; they are only natural. So, instead of trying to get rid of them – which you won’t be able to – you must strive to identify and acknowledge them. And then weigh every new piece of information under the light of your own bias. Which is to accept that you are only able to see a small portion of the world with a limited view, and so is everybody else. And there is only way to move forward: by listening to each other. 

Girl from the North Country

In Frame: Bob Dylan and Suze Rotolo

Photographer: Unknown


“What do you think of me?” she asked.

“You are like the harmonica part in a Bob Dylan song,” I said, almost laughing. “You keep appearing and disappearing and hence suprising me in the process. But, you know, you’re always there. And when you’re not, then that feeling of you is there: the feeling of beauty intertwined with awkwardness and quirkiness – that is so unique to you. How do you do that? And it is this strange (yet familiar) beauty which robs me of my rationality and tosses me somewhere high in the sky where I cannot help but fall… Fall to fall in love with you.”

PS: Actually, she never asked this and I never said that. So, she doesn’t know. Or, maybe she does, now.

Writing Meditation – Day 2

Today’s exercise is focused more on reading than writing.

Reading is like eating. In this case, we consume information (not food) and digest it. The whole process might leave us better or worse, depending upon:

  • the quality of information we consume
  • how we consume
  • how much we consume

Poor quality, poor methods of consumption and excessive intakes of information will affect our minds the same way food affects our bodies. This is particularly important for our emotional health. Most of our emotions are merely a response to the information we swallow, and if do not keep a check on that information, we may be in danger of experiencing emotional turmoils. And if it prolongs, serious mental health issues may arise.

So, what is the antidote?

The answer lies in the problem itself:

  • reading good quality writing
  • finding dedicated time for reading
  • regularly reflecting on how much information can we consume

With this in mind, I encourage you to start reading today. And read quality stuff.

Daily Exercise:

Read the below passage. Spend time with it. Read slowly. You are allowed to take your time, reflect, imagine and contemplate. And more importantly, try to immerse yourself in it. Then write a few sentences on what you think about what you just read.

Excerpts from The School of Life by Alain de Bottom:

We tend to reproach ourselves for staring out of the window. Most of the time, we are supposed to be working, or studying, or ticking things off a to-do list. It can seem almost the definition of wasted time. It appears to produce nothing, to serve no purpose. We equate it with boredom, distraction, futility. The act of cupping our chin in our hands near a pane of glass and letting our eyes drift in the middle distance does not enjoy high prestige. We don’t go around saying, ‘I had a great day today. The high point was staring out of the window.’ But maybe, in a better society, this is exactly what people would quietly say to one another.

The point of staring out of a window is, paradoxically, not to find out what is going on outside. It is, rather, an exercise in discovering the contents of our own minds. It is easy to imagine we know what we think, what we feel and what’s going on in our heads. But we rarely do entirely. There’s huge amount of what makes us who we are that circulates unexplored and unused. Its potential lies untapped. It is shy and doesn’t emerge under the pressure of direct questioning. If we do it right, staring out of the window offers a way for us to be alert to the quieter suggestions and perspectives of our deeper selves. Plato suggested a metaphor for the mind; our ideas are like birds fluttering around in the aviary of our brains. But in order for the birds to settle, Plato understood that we need periods of purpose-free calm. Staring out of the window offers such an opportunity.


Artist: Unknown


I like semicolons;
do you like them too?

They are the pauses,
but not mere pauses;
they mean an intimacy
for two main clauses.

Commas – they are not;
greater is their ability.
For they bring liberty
and the right to equality.

I like semicolons;
do you like them too?
You didn’t say a word;
but I think you do.

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