Some book reviews

  • Healthy Mom, Healthy Baby  (Vanshvel)-  By Dr Malati Karwarkar
Excellent guide on nutrition. I read Marathi version Vanshvel and I know that this will be my go-to book , my bible on nutrition for the rest of my life.
Late Dr. Karwarkar would have been of my late grandmother’s age. Yet her ideas were quite ahead of her times, are even now to an extent ahead of the time, in the area of nutrition. Indians, while rightfully proud of their food and traditions associated with it, choose to selectively ignore vices of various methods of cooking, preparation, combining of food components, all the while saying that modern ideas are nowhere as effective as traditional wisdom. Dr Karwarkar explains how our food culture needs to be modified to suit the changed lifestyles and quite logically. Her language sounded very contemporary to me and very practical and the hacks and tricks /tips that she has shared are very much suited to Indian dietary style. She predominantly discussed Maharashtrian cuisine, at least in the Marathi edition that I read, but the principles she discusses could be applied to entire Indian cuisine. It is sad that such books are not popular.They should be made a part of school/college curriculum as food and nutrition is basic need of people belonging to all the professions. Kudos to Dr Karwarkar and I am in her debt forever.
  • Ayurvedic Garbha Sanskar: The Science and Art of Pregnancy – By Dr Balaji Tambe
While in principle, this book promotes the best of ancient Indian traditions, it is very difficult to implement all of these traditions in practical life. Today’s lifestyle, living conditions as well as the medical procedures have changed and unless one has time, resources (lot of money, helping hands, lot of space and so on) and the will to go against modern aspects of life, it will be impossible to follow this book word by word.
For my own pregnancy, I tried whatever was practical (and whatever ayurvedic medicines I could afford to purchase repetitively) and decided to take rest of the advice in this book with a pinch of salt.
What I would have really preferred to read is how to make the most of your pregnancy, given the altered modern lifestyle. A lot of auyrvedic remedies suggested in the book cannot be prepared by end readers of this book at home, but have to be bought from an expert ayurvedacharya or from the author’s own product-line.
I have great respect for Shri Balaji Tambe, and my family members and I are regular viewers of his various TV discourses and programs. This respect led to the purchase of the said book during my pregnancy. Its approach of explaining pregnancy and various aspects with shlokas from various ancient Ayurveda books followed by detailed explanation is interesting. However, it fails to address modern pregnancy related ailments and complications. While it has touched upon some of these complications, there are not enough guidelines on how to handle such a situation. Issues related to modern lifestyle such as preeclampsia, gestational diabetes, low or over supply of milk etc find passing mention – nothing detailed.
All in all, a book I could have easily passed up.
  • If Truth be Told: A Monk’s Memoir – By Om Swami
A beautiful memoir. Several ideas and concepts resonated with what I have been learning about spirituality growing up. I have been a regular reader of his blog at Omswami.com. This is largely a memoir, a story, and not like a spiritual treatise. The style of writing is quite contemporary and flowing. I was engrossed with it from the moment I picked it up. I have finished reading it in less than 4 days.
  • Myth = Mithya: A Handbook of Hindu Mythology – By Devdutt Pattanaik
Being a Hindu, I had a background in these concepts. However as years passed by and I grew up, I had relegated these concepts somewhere at the back of mind. The very one that I got introduced to as a child, when I would ask so many questions and was open minded. As time passed, I followed worships and rituals at times very blindly and other times would ignore everything in favour of the concept of abstract spirituality. This book served as a refresher and was an enjoyable read.
  • Mi Pahilele Shankar Maharaj – by Yogi Dnyananathji
I have come across several narratives of Shri Shankar Maharaj that also had his philosophical teachings explained in simple language. This small book is mainly a narrative of events that author witnessed while in company of Shri Shankar Maharaj. As a collection of stories it is a good read.

Oh starry night!

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Yesterday night, we were pleasantly greeted by the mild sweet fragrance that floated into our drawing room. It was Bunga Malam- the night flower (do not know English name or even Indian name for this, though I have seen this in India as well). These flowers bloom only at night and by morning, their petals fall.  They’re very delicate. Their fragrance too is very delicate. Swapnil sometimes can’t even sense it…but yesterday, the fragrance got stronger and stronger and eventually filled our whole drawing room (its not that big you see). Rainy season, cool breeze and lovely fragrance. It suddenly felt like a beautiful night despite horrid day at work followed by elaborate meal preparation for dinner that had gotten me tired. I peeped into balcony. No wonder the fragrance had spread everywhere. It wasn’t just one or two tiny flowers. Whole plant was blooming. Those tiny flowers shone like tiny lights, tiny stars to me and I felt like pausing the time and filling my lungs with this pure and beautiful scent. Oh, thank you Nature, for so much beauty. It was as if you knew exactly what would have cheered me ….to me, nature is a name of God and such pleasures now and then make me realize how God makes His presence known in all forms….

English Vinglish

mommygolightly

 In a recent turn of events, I traded an over-cluttered life in Bombay for a school on a hill to teach English to grade seven and eight students. I was as untrained as they come, but I knew one thing. I had always been thrilled about words coming alive on paper. I figured teaching would involve spreading a bit of that disease.

On day one, in an attempt to “know my audience”, I asked the students to share their favourite word and say why they liked it. They quickly came up with words like music, joy, peace, love, happy and others. My heart sank. It felt frugal. This is not going to be fun, I thought. Was this what they meant by the economy of language, I wondered.

Then I told them I was making word soup and needed something chunkier – words with more gravitas, more texture…

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Thoughts that distracted me today morning at work

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Thoughts that distracted me today morning at work

I just decided to dump them into a cloud for later consideration. After I wrote each of these things, my mind felt much lighter and now I hope I can better concentrate on work

Mythology and some really random musings

My MBA-group is a set of folks I hang out with, that is probably the furthest along the geek-nerd continuum. And thank God for them, because sometimes only they can understand the kind of crackpot thoughts that enter my mind. Thank God for them. The other day, we were casually chatting on Whatsapp (Also, thank God for whatsapp 😉 ). We began to discuss why Gudi Padwa is celebrated in Maharashtra. I told them that it is to commemorate Ram’s arrival back to Ayodhya after defeating and killing Ravan. I had remembered that Gudhi is actually a kind of festoon – to indicate the happiness and celebrations that Ram had returned. To this one of the friends suddenly countered that he was ‘100% sure’ (in his own words) that it was Diwali that was celebrated to commemorate the return of Ram and not Gudhi Padwa. Ram killed Ravan on Dusshehra which is why Ravan idol is burnt on Dusshehra. He returned to Ayodhya by Diwali. Which is approximately 20 days later. We each agreed about there being various possibilities since the mythology might change from region to region. Nobody knows how and why it happened, but suddenly we got to discussing logistical possibilities of making it to Ayodhya from Lanka within 20 days! Besides given the thousands of years old story, the whole area was most likely covered with forest. We actually wondered if it was possible – some of us leaning towards Gudhi Padwa theory now…. and eventually realised that we just had nothing better to do than discuss the logistics of a journey (supposedly) taken thousands of years ago. How irrational to spend time in this manner… and then we each got back to more pressing real life duties… 🙂

Today as I had logged into Quora, I came upon a page by sheer coincidence and concluded that we’re not the only odd ones. That there was a thread which was actually discussing this and that a guy actually put the coordinates into Google maps and got an estimation that walking distance from Lanka to Ayodhya was approximately 21 and half days!! It was really crazy to land up on this exact discussion. Also humbling and amusing that actual time even with modern roads and all is very close to the mythology! The fact that an epic written more than 5000 years ago (Supposedly) actually was pretty much spot on. As soon as I shared with my group, everyone cracked up!! 🙂 🙂

Yes, there are theories about Pushpak, the aerial chariot or possibility of Gudhi Padwa theory being the original intended arrival (by the poet) – but then mythologies will remain stories or mysteries, depending on how we look at them. However, this one small chat will remain a source of amusement for some time now… 

Selfie-talk

The weekend before the last, I had attended a photography workshop. One of the trainers mentioned that he felt compelled to capture the beautiful nature whenever he would travel. That, the photography (and the photograph) was intended to capture special, beautiful and unforgettable moments. I have possibly heard this (or lines with the similar meaning) innumerable times. I heartily agreed with this statement yet again. What is there not to agree? It’s the whole and absolute truth I felt. As soon as the session got over, I logged on to my instagram account, as if on autopilot. These days, I am wont to check instagram now and then – during those in-between periods, when I am waiting for the next task / activity/thing and tend to fidget with my phone.  What I came across however instead of the unforgettable moments were selfies of all sorts. People posting photos of themselves at every location they went. This suddenly put things in perspective for me. Nowadays, the world at large seems to be capturing only themselves in the photos. Should I conclude that they no longer feel anything else/anyone else to be special / beautiful/ unforgettable enough? This story of modern day Narcissus and this made me even more convinced that slowly, the megalomania seems to be creeping in 🙂 . Selfie got inserted in the Oxford English Dictionary – but possibly that’s not exactly a reason to applaud.

Harbour, docks & lighthouses: Re-discovering Mumbai

My Favourite Things

It is only 9.30 am, but the sun is quite intense and if not for the sea breeze would have been quite unbearable. I am on the upper deck of a launch berthed at the Gateway of India in Mumbai trying to peer through a haze that has dulled the shimmer and sparkles of  sunlight on water. In front of me, and as far as the haze-driven visibility allows, are ferries, fishing boats, luxury yachts, launches, security vessels… The place looks like one big parking lot in the sea 🙂

Mumbai Port and Harbour Tour, KGAF, Mumbai Harbour The parking lot in the sea.

On board the launch, my co-passengers indulge in some gentle jostling for prime spots to photograph, discuss whether the haze would play spoil sport for photography, and generally chat about what is it that we are likely to see in the ext couple of hours. As we wait for the launch to leave the…

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Alone, alienated, detached, isolated, soliatary, withdrawn….

I cannot think of any more synonyms, but I just thought of writing this here. Wanted to purge these thoughts somewhere. These are the exact words that describe what I felt a lot during last few months.  Around the same time that I started working, my husband’s critical deals entered into advanced stages of discussions and he had to travel. A lot. Sometimes, in a month, he used to be home for less than 10 days, and not continuously (not consecutive days of being at home). That just left the situation being him back from one trip, just for doing the laundry and repacking and be gone. Thankfully, I had started working, otherwise, I would have gone crazy. But for all the non-working hours in the day, I was all those words I mentioned above.

Sure, I know some people here by now. Knowing is not same as being friends – I realised more than ever. They were available of course, mostly on whatsapp. Some who I consider friends have children and it was I who felt I would be imposing on them if I sought them out. Others… well, they let me know subtly and not so subtly  – that they don’t appreciate ‘clinginess’ and still others… well  I suppose they didn’t even care to understand my loneliness despite my own subtle and not so subtle hints…I don’t blame anyone of course, I should not and cannot be expecting support everywhere I go, cannot expect every person to like me enough to keep me company when I want… and I was alone for quite some time. So anyways, there would have been a limit on how many times I could impose on anyone like that….

I could have of course pursued my hobbies, etc during those days…but I didn’t. I didn’t handle this well. I have never stayed alone even as much as overnight before I moved here and somehow, I wasn’t able to handle it well. I could have explored the city.  I always wanted to. But I didn’t. Mainly because of my still fledgeling bahasa skills and the fact that my husband and I were both not sure about safety in exploring the deep interiors of Jakarta. He was out of the country and he requested that I postpone my explorings till he was in city for longer stretches. There are many ways in which I could have handled this better, but I couldn’t and I cannot – I think- even in the future.

I realised during these days, how much I had taken the social life granted back home. In India, while I was working, the work-life balance was disastrous with exceedingly long working hours. Still I will say, I was better off socially, simply because I had a great set of co-worker friends who had my back all the time. We each hardly had time for our other friends outside work, and we each had distinct tastes and personalities. Still these never were barriers in connecting, in talking about anything under the sun. We never judged each other, maintained our own opinions and still were one cohesive group. I think, most of the meaningful friendships in my life, were formed in my adult life and this group was a big part of it. While this happened because we each hardly had any time outside of work to engage more with our other friends, the most important reason was the great connection we shared with each other.  I cannot expect such connections to form everywhere I go, but then I know what great happiness it can bring. I could of course contact them and all of my other friends, though its not same as meeting in person. Though I hated to just be complaining all the times and consequently I avoided chatting with anyone.

Anyhow, now I expect my husband to be at home mostly. I won’t face this situation hopefully for some time now. Though I wonder sometimes, if expecting your friends to set aside some time for you is really an unreasonable thing… after 5 months of loneliness, I am inclined to believe, it isn’t mostly, because they too can count on you when they need you. Though here in NRI world, things are different. Or, they’re not different, this is just how the world works, its just that I had this moment of epiphany so late in life….

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Protected: My Reinhart and Rogoff moment….

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What (the h) have I have been doing all these days

Have been really busy folks...

Have been really busy folks…

 

 

I looove blogging. Writing actually.

Even better if you know that there’s a dedicated audience for that. That’s why I took up blogging in the first place. However, I have been quite remiss in updating. Some people make it a habit to update their blog daily, but sometimes the inspiration is not there. I admire all those who can describe most mundane things in their lives lucidly… Anyhow, Long story short, I haven’t updated this blog in a while and thought it was time to do so.

Catching up from where I left, I haven’t forgotten about 30 days of creativity challenge. Coincidentally, worldwide, that is what is going on. Well, I don’t have 30 days remaining now, seeing as today is 24th and probably don’t even have that much time daily. However, I plan to complete 30 creative things as promised. In fact an on-going event in Jakarta actually gives me an opportunity to do one creative project that I had been thinking of for some time.  Mostly I will be ready to post it by end of next Sunday. So yes, I haven’t given up on the 30days of creativity.

So what have I been doing….

Well, I have been working. I got a job finally. I mean, I had got it long time back, but the regulations here are just too tedious and they took a long time to release the approval. I got the job in my own field, so even that is great. Work’s been hectic. Especially the last couple of months. Though I am not exactly complaining….

Other than that… well… I got a new phone (yesterday), because my old smartphone crashed and I was cut off from the network for almost 3 weeks. It was kind of living in exile. Especially with Swapnil traveling all the time. The only interaction I had was with my colleagues and sometimes when I called my family. So this phone was much needed. I spent long enough researching on the right kind and all and eventually bought Samsung Galaxy SIII Mini.

Didn’t travel much (at all actually). Given the work-schedule. Most of my local friends also went out of Jakarta / country due to their kids’ holidays and I was sort of ‘marooned’ to put it in right words . .when I wasn’t at work….

I tried my hand at losing weight. Looks like its not my cup of tea….after spending a month of tracking food and attempting some exercise, I have lost just 1 kg. Though something better came out of it. My Fitness Pal has almost become like my Facebook now, because I needed to keep a track of my protein intake . I began recording food and got hooked to it. Lots of support and motivation from the community. In real life nobody took me or my need to lose weight seriously 🙂 so I turned towards virtual support I guess… 

Stopped watching TV altogether. Instead shifted to the whole new genre of entertainment. They call it a new age media and blah blah blah. I call it you-tube series. I landed on one such series by accident. The YouTube series work in unique format. They are hardly 5-6 minute episodes. Sometimes they get interactive. Work a lot on improvisation. Other times, they are shot in real environment. Lot many unique ideas and characters. You can of course watch at your own leisure and there’s probably a series out there on a subject of your liking. Meaning, lot of variety. What’s even great, these things seem to be run by nerds… totally my kind of people 🙂  It was like a whole new world was opened before me 🙂 and I totally am loving it.

What else, no I haven’t been cooking a lot. Actually with husband travelling, there’s noone to impress (and when he’s here he’s anyways far from being impressed). Also with work, I don’t have any motivation in me left to do cook something new. The other day I tried my hand at Mushroom masala since my husband remarked that his colleague’s wife makes it very well. However, it was disastrous and I concluded that I’d rather admire someone cooking for me than myself cooking it… I mean, cooking and I… is a love-hate sort of very moody relationship. Its complicated.

Yeah… those were the highlights of last four months… not much, I know….