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Wednesday, January 30, 2008

30th January


'Hi, it is Jan 3oth. So like every year, taking this day to be silent and to meditate. Much love. Much metta. Nirali'
Said the sms, in response to a meeting planned for today.
Thank you, Nirali, for more than meeting me today.
I had completely forgotten.
Thank you for reminding me of Bapu.

coming next : Gandhiji in Tiruvnnamalai!

Friday, January 25, 2008

Working women, feed yourselves

Here is a list of what a well fed, nutrition conscious woman should stuff herself with. Those of you who are figure conscious and dieting, well, look elsewhere. The word, diet, by the way, is an Italian derivation that means nutritional, in other words, that which the body needs to function like a well oiled machine.


Upon waking,
  • 3, 4 glasses of warm water with lemon, honey and salt. Guaranteed to produce the required result.

Then,
  • 1 Cup tea without sugar, with jaggery. Organic jaggery in tea is yummy, once you get used to the difference.

Break fast,

  • one helping of Dalia upma with a lot of vegetables and a little mung dal / 2,3 idlis with sambar and chutney / 2 rotis made with methi, atta and besan / Sprouted mung dal upma with a roti / 1 egg omlet with a roti / dhokla made with rice and dal flour / flattened rice (poha) with groundnuts and vegetables/ oatmeal with milk and honey,
  • a glass of buttermilk / a glass of ragi with milk/ a glass of nachni with milk / a glass of plain milk ( If sweetening required, use only jaggery, or honey, not sugar), * Please note, the / means 'or', not 'and'. I mention this because someone commented that the breakfast was much bigger than the lunch *
  • 3, 4 black raisins ( munakka) and
  • 1 fruit.
Lunch,
  • 2, 3 rotis (of atta mixed with milk, not water, nor oil, and certainly no salt)
  • leafy vegetable with potatoes / paneer,
  • dal
  • lemon
  • salad
  • a glass of buttermilk
  • a fruit
Evening Snack,
  • Groundnuts / dry fruits (soaked overnight in water) / popcorn /puffed rice
  • Lemon water / buttermilk / tea / vegetable soup / coconut water
Dinner,
  • Khichdi made with unpolished rice + dal + vegetables (add a pinch of lime for calcium)
  • Kadhi / milk with turmeric and ghee
  • 1 date and 1 fig, soaked in water.
-----------Sounds good?--------

Some more tips :
  • In 7 kgs of atta, mix 1 kg of Ragi + 1/4 kg of Rajgira.
  • Always soak dry fruits. Dry fruits, even dates, should never be eaten dry.
  • Don't use refined oil. Cold pressed oil is better.
  • Use hing in baghar. Lime can be obtained from panwallas.
  • Say no to bread, biscuits, sugar, fried stuff, paranthas, ice-creams, cold drinks.
  • There are many leafy vegetables in the market : radish, cabbage, leaves of fulgobi, etc. You don't have to stick to spinach and fenugreek.
  • Eat only when hungry.
  • Listen to soft music while eating.
This diet plan is summarized from the marathi book on Nutrition for working women, written by the nutritionist, Jayashri Pendharkar.

Coming soon (don't know when), another post on nutrition for guys and kids. We got to feed them too.


Tuesday, January 22, 2008

Cinema, mon amour

This is to remind myself, that Cinema, I love you still.

I might now prefer blogging than holding a video camera. I might have given up dreams of ever making my feature film. And sometimes I may wonder how I have forgotten the names of the films and the filmmakers I so passionately talked about, under the wisdom tree.

Where did I go wrong, I wonder. What was the name of the thing I left behind in the Film Institute? Why does it evade me now? Does it not like Bombay, or television, or video? It does disappear totally from my heartmind when I make documentary films, the commissioned variety.

The ones we used to see in theaters before the feature film began. Not like the ones Rao saab, our editing teacher showed us. In which there are yards and yards of footage of a boy sitting in a boat lazily sailing over a placid lake.

Now, ofcourse, I dare not keep a shot that long. If I make a film about cycling, it should not show too many cyclists just cycling. Make them say something, no. If I make a film on farming, why use the sunrise? The sun takes far too long to rise. Yes, the colours change, but so what? Is that the point one is trying to make here?

Is it the point? A film on photosynthesis? Why do you want to show the kid playing with a leaf?
Ah, it comes to me! It's name ! What I left behind in the Insti! It is antipoint! No such name exists? Oh well...

God, if you did not want me to use it, why did you give me a right brain? Said I, till a few years passed and my sweetheart of a husband, the nerd, introduced me to blogging! No more producers shitting on the head, but old beaux's commenting, hey I didn't know you are an artist! So what if this doesn't pay, I am willing to starve, so hungry for creation and appreciation am I.

And thus it happens, slowly, that instead of that cut, instead of the light, its the word, the idea, the sentence that I mix in my morning cup of tea.

However subtle, there is an inner unveiling that takes place when one continues to express without fear of judgment.

Why else, did I suddenly remember, a cut today, maybe a decade after I cut it?

The name of the film is, 'And so flows the Indrayani.'

Indrayani is the river that flows, mainly for Tukaram, the poet saint from Maharashtra. The story goes that Tukaram was an absent minded, lost to bliss godmad character. In times of poverty, read joblessness, he was offered to stand guard in a corn field, to shoo away birds who flocked to munch the ripe corn.

Our poet-saint, he did his job. Tukaram composed the bhajan, 'Adhi beeja ekle. Beeja ankireley, rope vadhile,' ( in the beginning, was one seed, it sprouted, and there was a tree), while the sparrows finished off the entire corn.

None of this features in the film, 'And so flows...' But it has a shot, of a couple of sparrows sitting on an upturned piece of corn hanging in Tukaram's temple doorway. The background score is a varkari singing a bhajan, in the temple by the river. One sparrow flies off, maybe to her little ones, to feed them some corn. Then she comes back, and both the sparrows peck the corn. This editor does not cut the shot till both sparrows have eaten their full and flown away, out of the frame.

Sunday, January 20, 2008

A simple buddhist monk


"It is God alone who has become everything. But in Man he manifests himself the most. God is directly present in the man who has the pure heart of a child
and who laughs and cries and dances and sings in divine ecstasy."

The Gospel of Sri Ramakrishna , page 208.

His holiness the Dalai Lama had come to Ahmedabad. I was among the fortunate few who attended his talk at IIM A, on Friday afternoon, 17th Jan.

The topic of the talk, in IIM fashion, was 'Ethics in Business'.

In his introduction, the director said that the Dalai Lama was an incarnation of the Buddha.

'No such thing', the Lama said, and tweaked the director's mustache!

'All I am, and all I would like to be known as, is a simple Buddhist monk. Yes, there is a very deep karmic connection with the Buddha, but incarnation, no no.'

'And, if you take my advise on business, you will probably sink in eight days.' He talked in broken, prompted English. A translator was sitting behind him, whispering in his ears.

'And so, I will talk about three things, love, compassion and warmheartedness.' He laughed, eyes twinkling merrily.

Somehow, I felt a deep relaxation in my gut and I dosed off, telling myself to remember the essence because this was too meaty, this was going to get in my blog.

Hence, please note, the material in this post has spun out from the subconscious, or from that which does not sleep.

'To love and to be loved, is very essential for the well being. Even science agrees. There was a research among monkey babies. Those that were allowed to touch, and be held by their mother monkeys, survived and those that were separated, died. Every body, child and adult, needs compassion to survive.
So to have a warm heart is good for the immune system, for health.
And now,' he rubbed his hands lovingly at this point, ' let us have some inter...action...some question and answers.'

He did not like written questions, so he asked people to directly ask the questions.

Question: Your holiness, in today's busy lives, it is very difficult to find the time to meditate. So how should we aspire to get the peace that you radiate?

'Yes. Life has problems. I too have a problem. My country, Tibet, is not a country anymore. It is not there.
So, the answer is, become a refugee.' Much laughter.

'Next question.' he asked, enthusiastically.

Question: 'What do you feel about the friendly relations between India and China? Don't you feel bad ?

'There is a positive side to every situation. The common person in Tibet, wants development, modernization. So, it is better we are in China. But, we also feel that the ancient Tibetan culture, our rich spirituality, and clean air, should be protected.
For every life, there comes a test. This is our test. I see that a lot of the old Tibetans, have emerged stronger people. Suffering makes strong people. Even in Europe, I notice that the young people, very soon, they are fall down. ( The translator prompter, was trying his best to whisper, but his holiness was on a roll.) The older, those who saw the war, are going strong.'

'Next question!' he waves his arms.

Question: How do you reconcile to the rude behavior of the Indians to the Tibetans?

'India, is our Guru. The disciple has come to the Guru. For shelter. How can the Guru refuse?
When I spoke to Pandit Nehru, he agreed to giving us asylum. So, India is now my home!'

'Next Question!' he is so full of joy.

Question: What is your task in life?

'I have three tasks. As a human being, to talk about the three basic human qualities to people: love, compassion, and warmheartedness. As a Buddhist monk, to hold the teaching and the practice of the Buddha. And, since this body (pinches his bare arm), this flesh, is born in the soil of Tibet, I will try, till I die, to preserve its ancient culture, our rich spirituality, and the clean, beautiful air.

Next Question!' he announces. What a mood he is in. What a mood he has created!

Last Question: Do you think there is life outside? In space?

'Oh yes. Even he Buddha mentioned that there is life, a lot of life, all over.' A pause, then he changes the track. ' But it will take many many years, thousands of years, to go in the spaceship to far away, and then to meet someone weird, not happen in our life, I think.
Better to live peacefully here only.'

Saturday, January 19, 2008

Bar Camp Ahmedabad

How many are attending a barcamp for the first time?

All but two raise their hands. I don't raise my hands because I am holding this laptop.

This is a live blog on the Bar Camp, Ahmedabad.

So what is a Bar Camp?

An unconference, a treat for entrepreneurs, a place for youngsters on the brink of life, of start ups. A non-organized affair. Depending on the mood of the city , the venue, people walk in and write their name on the board outside, in the slot and someone else can come and rub it out.

Most of these participants are students, ripe and receptive for exchanging knowledge.
There are three rooms, this is happening in IIM, Ahmedabad, new building, on a crisp Saturday morning on 19th January.

The speakers are impromptu ( its an unconference, you see), but some have planned ppts.

You can be informal, you can boo out a speaker, you can walk in and out. Lets see how much fun we have .

The first talk is by Sanjay Banerjee . He talks on the mindset of entrepreneurs. He talks of dreaming big and commercialising your hobby, and leadership skills.

Second talk, by Ankur Shukla is a success story, from a small city Jabalpur. He mentioned a large figure, something close to eighty thousand hits on his websites, KoolKampus.com, Kyapoocha.com, KoolKareers.com , all being run by his company Kudos Infomedia

End of first post.


SESSION TWO:

I have moved to another classroom, a pretty lady (dressed in a saree) is going to talk of something no-technical, she said.

Her name is Vinita Shetty, the topic is mobile Governance (whatever that means).

Before she begins, we have Ruchit talking, about how he is going to change the mobile interface within a couple of years. He passes around his cell, showing people how it is already possible to access not just internet, also laptops, other mobiles cameras, from his server.

You can check him out at http://www.ruchit.mymobilesite.net/ Type in ruchit , and the password is samsung123.

Now for the pretty lady, the mGov.

People carry mobile phones, not laptops. (True.)

So people should govern themselves, through the mobile phone. Citizen to Government information flow, is what she is proposing. Make hell for the Govt, call them for every and any problem you have. A police complaint? You need not go there, sign up, just call them and the complaint will be registered.

A fresh new approach to democracy, where public private people (ppp) rule, hierarchy diminishes, voices can be heard.

The common man with a cell phone is empowered, protected, connected.

This was Vinita Shetty, talking of mGov. You can get more on metrobhoomi.com.

Lunch break!

Session three begins:

This is about motivational marketing.

The speaker, Sashi starts with a song, Na todo dil mera, a song I have never heard in my life.

He is gonna tell us about a tool to market. Make it easy for people to buy. That is marketing. Motivation is the fuel that makes a business run, or a person buy from you.

Motivational marketing: Be responsible to your customer if you want him to come back to you.

People buy, act on emotion and later, justify with logic. So emotion is the boss. Take aim at your customer's emotions.

How does a person benefit from your product? Directly and indirectly. Use emotional stimulators.

  • Fear. Insurance policies are based on fear of death.
  • Love. Connection. A personal touch. Children. Grandparents. Family.
  • Sex. A woman's magazine like Cosmopolitan sports a sexy lady on the cover. It gets the men for obvious reasons, and the woman drool to find out how they should be looking to get attention.
  • Money / Saving money. Most sales pull crowds on this emotional motivator.

You will find more on www.motivationalmarketing.com.

I need a break, see you next session!

Next talk. Sunayana, a student of NIT Surat Engennering, presents an interesting design for the web.

She is talking about Exploring Online Credibility, on websites like Wikipidia.

How to help people judge the credibility of information on Wikipedia. Any person can go make whatever contribution, factual, imaginary to the contents of the Wikipedia. For example, the Gujarat page carries many factual errors of the earthquake. This misinformation has survived there since many months.

Author credibility , reference credibility, endurance credibility can be the different sections depending on which, you arrive at an average credibility rating. This is mentioned in a small, separate area of the page. And this credibility rating will help in knowing how correct the information could be.

This is her online presentation. www.cs.cmu.edu/ourcs/presentations/ExploringOnlineCredibility

Now it is mykavita. Write your own poem.

Rakshit is getting ragged, or so it seems. Finally, he gets the point through. All of these internet websites like orkut, facebook, etc, communicate short messages, but these ain't serous writers, no sir. However, serous writers, meaning original, long time writers write blogs. They blog their thoughts, their poems, etc. However, there is no copy write on blog. Creative commons a is big confusion.

Your poems can get stolen from you, they can use them for commercial purpose like Fanna (a blockbuster hindi movie). And if that happens, can creative commons do anything?

In an unconference, this can also happen.

Sorry, I have lost count of the sessions. Now I am back in classroom 1, for Tapan Shah's attempt to demystify Facebook applications.

History of Facebook, is that it originated in Harvard, then opened to other universities, high schools, and now it is open to all.

The twenty four year old who mothered it is now a billionaire.

What is the one thing that draws crowds in a social network? Asks Tapan. Gossip, he answers. What are your freinds doing, who are they talking to? Basically time pass.

He gives something like a tutorial (that mostly bounced off my head) on Anatomy of Applications.

'Where did you get this from?' I ask him.

'I stole it,' said the hacker.

'So do you have it saved up somewhere online?'

Here : http://developer.facebook.com/

Feedback session :

More participation needed, be more vocal on mailing lists, no registration please, its dynamic, ideally, in a barcamp , there are no power point presentations. A ppt comes between the speaker and the participant. It creates a formal wall. It was fun. I am happy I came. The best part was that you can move out whenever you get bored.

What is a Bar camp? Where is the bar? Is there a bar?

And India won too. Claps claps claps.

Tuesday, January 15, 2008

Please, someone, make me laugh...

I wonder sometimes, if I have lost my sense of humor.

A few days back, I mistakenly left my front door unlocked at night. A stray dog walked in and curled up on the couch. I slept peacefully, so did he. So far, so good.

Cut to, Next morning.

The milkman's bell awakens me, I force myself out of the bed, pick up the milk coupons from top of the fridge, and SEE THE MILKMAN STANDING IN THE DOOR!

"The door was open, sister," he says quickly, before I scream. And holds up two Amul milk packets for me. I wordlessly take them, and lock the door.
Instead of relief, I am filled with a dread as I survey the drawing room in the dim early morning light AND SEE THE DOG LOOKING AT ME FROM THE COUCH!

He jumps up as I scream, the milk packets fall on the floor with a flop, he runs inside to the kitchen, I run to the door, open it wide, run back to the bedroom, shut the bedroom door and start banging on it, yelling OUT GET OUT THE DOOR IS OPEN OUT!

After two minutes, I open the door a crack. Slurp, slurp. The dog is licking the cold, still intact milk packets on the floor. NO! I yell at him. He jumps in fright, back on the couch!

And, right in front of a hysterical woman, his legs quivering with fear, the dog pisses on the couch. After he is done, he sheepishly makes his exit.

Cut to, later in the day. As I am cleaning the mattress in the sun, I tell the story to my maidservant. She laughs. I mock laugh. But I am hurt, almost angry at her.

Cut to, few days later, writing this post, I worry. A few years earlier, I would have laughed, giggled my head off. Now, I am too much of a mother to laugh even with my angel. I smile when he laughs, but I can't share the joke.

Laughter can be such a beautiful , such an utter deep breather. Please somebody out there, make me laugh. Don't bore me no more, and don't sing no song. I am tired of words, just make me laugh.

Friday, January 11, 2008

Romance happens in the evenings

Mornings, afternoons are good times to fall in love. However, Romance happens only in the evenings.

When the moon is waning, evening is the last time that you get a glimpse of your beloved. So you sit and gaze at the mountain before night envelopes the path.


This picture is of Arunachala, taken from a friends home, in the evening, a few minutes before we took the bus to Bangalore.

Wednesday, January 9, 2008

Where half my body resides

I say body because I dig not the meaning of soul. Like a kite, the soul keeps flying about trees and clouds. The body tells me the truth, it breathes deeper when it is whole, when it is one, when it is home.

Tiruvannamalai is the name of the town. Arunachala is the name of the mountain. Since I am an unconventional and yuppie spiritual seeker, I call them Tiru and mountain respectively.
'Look at the mountain, look at the mountain, look at the maa-un-ton!'
This is my secret chant and this is my secret mantra.
Mantras can get tiring sometimes, so I will just look.


This one is called Pradakshina Peek.

The mountain has a sixteen kilometer circumference made of tar road, or outer path. Lovers of the mountain walk this road often, keeping the mountain to your right, near your heart. (The spiritual heart is supposed to be on the right, the place where you thump your chest and say, this is me.)

Like a kaleidoscope, the mountain keeps changing its beautiful face while you walk around it, and this one is an all time favourite.

Tiru is an extremely slow paced town. Apart from the mountain, another time-stopper is the ancient, biggest - in - Asia, temple dedicated to Arunachaleshwar and many many other Gods.

It has four big gates, or Gopurams, out of which, three are kept open, and I never lost my footwear there. And how could I? Were the celestial cows not guarding and watching as constantly as they chewed?



Sunday, January 6, 2008

Be yourself

An old friend had come home for lunch.

'Leave your child alone a lot,' he advised me.

'Talk to him less.
Let him become aware of the inner space.
He will enjoy it, trust me.

Don't bother about his education.
Let him learn things by himself.
He will make it, trust me.

Don't force feed him,
Let his stomach decide how much food it wants to digest.
He will grow, trust me.

Remember you are you.
Let him see you as you, not just his mother.
He will still love you, trust me.'