Goodbye!

Grace and Gorgeousness
It has been a revelatory ten years and to be honest, this is the space that draws out the most creative and honest energy out of me. I mean it. I feel it this very moment as I type these words out. Because it is here on Livejournal that I learned to write - for myself and for others. But mostly, for myself. And I realized that if/when I wrote for myself, everyone got it. But this space has turned horrid with dirty spammers and like, so off I go... The Rich Vegetarian. And I hope that that space will be one where I can be myself, pure and true, honest and authentic, 100% undistilled.
Grace and Gorgeousness
You know that feeling when an old lesson suddenly makes complete sense? Back in the day, you heard/read it and nodded because you had to. There was no 'A-Ha!' moment, so it all felt boring. And then one random day, it made sense. Don't you love those happenings? These are no serendipitous occurrences; they fit perfectly into life and experience and knowledge and progress and all that cool stuff. "Observe the body, observe the sensations..." Ok, then? Dude, then nothing. Because this observation is It. It swaps things inside out, gives you such power and control, pulls you out of a dead old pattern and then you can call the shots. Want to go glug a cup of dark coffee but scared to? Want to eat a second square of dark chocolate? Yes, No. Suddenly, you gain the ability to do things simply because you want to, it feels like it... and not by way of a craving or a desperate desire. Then you begin riding with the moment and the view is so good.

Oh Lord, My Best Friend

Grace and Gorgeousness
Mahabharata is a tale I have read a million times. On my last reading, I wondered briefly what it meant to be a friend to Lord Krishna. Can an enlightened person have friends? What does friendship mean to one who is dispassionate, soaked in Vairaagya? I couldn't figure it out. I stowed the question away as one to be asked to Gurudev. But I also knew that the answer would find its way to me, as all others have.

So it did. Last night, I heard a story from the Mahabharata. The war had ended and the victorious Pandavas decided to reward their loyal charioteers. When Arjuna's turn came, he looked at Lord Krishna, expecting Him to step down from the chariot and await his reward. But Krishna stayed put, leaving Arjuna with no choice but to step down first. Then Krishna arose, stepped out of the chariot and turned around. The mighty vehicle was reduced to ashes in an instant. Arjuna was stunned. The Lord explained patiently that it was His presence inside the chariot that kept it whole. In reality, it had been destroyed a long time ago, burned as it was under the onslaught of weapons and arrows from the enemy. That was the reason the Lord stepped out of the chariot only after Arjuna, for He could not have allowed his dear friend to perish in the flames.

Such a lovely story, it almost makes me tear up.

My question was linked with Arjuna. What set him apart from everyone else that he was given the Song Divine, the Bhagavad Gita? Lord Krishna called him His friend but what does that really mean? How does one become a friend to the Lord?

It made sense today. Arjuna's relationship with Krishna was intimate, reverential, playful, personal, no holds barred. Perhaps, that is why the Bhagavad Gita was revealed to him alone. Make the Divine your Valentine, Gurudev said. Beloved, best friend, favorite partner.

It's all about your Teacher

Grace and Gorgeousness
Yes, the one who patiently held your little fingers and taught you to write the alphabet. Who shaped your 'A' and 'P,' showed you how 'p' and 'q' were distinct from each other. The one who taught you to read time by waving her arm in the air, clockwise. The one who introduced you to the joy of Algebra. Then the one who taught you Sanskrit. The one who showed you the beginning steps in Kathakali, taking you through hours of sweaty practice sessions, leaving you exhausted and exhilarated. The one who sat through the boring music lessons, hearing you hit the same notes again and again, then again.

Teachers are gifts. I couldn't even begin to express my thankfulness to the ones who stepped into my life and stepped out quietly, having done their job, completely unaware of how they shaped my psyche, my intellect and my life in the most spectacular way possible.

Another Christmas rolls by

Grace and Gorgeousness
Did I ever mention (I must have) that I landed at the shores of this country (at the airport, obviously) exactly nine years ago? As with any other Christmas Day, it was a gloomy day, the roads deserted of people and traffic, my mind bereft of all positive emotion. We drove home in silence. The home was cold, small and bare. No furniture or very little of it. Why? Because he was waiting for me to get there so we could go buy it together. Can't fault the guy for not being sensitive. I felt like my heart weighed a ton. Such heaviness, ugh. It makes me shiver, those months of cold grey loneliness.

Then the sun broke through the clouds a month later... and I was home, free!

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No More Guilt

Grace and Gorgeousness
How annoying is the guilt that follows a leisurely afternoon movie. "How can you sit back and watch a movie in the afternoon when the rest of the world is working hard, hunched over their laptops and devices, downing cup after cup of coffee (or can after can of Diet Coke)?" So bugging when you mentally begin to justify the hour or so that you happily spent reading Alexander McCall Smith's 'La's Orchestra Saves The World.' "Reading is all fine and dandy but really, shouldn't you be cleaning the kitchen or bathroom, folding up the laundry, looking for a job?" Pottering around the house, doing those inonsequential little tasks, moving the furniture, dusting the cabinets... nothing of much consequence. Such guilt afterward.

HMMMPH.

No more, I promise.

A Poem for You

Grace and Gorgeousness
Sometime in the late 90s, I got myself added to a daily mailing list run by a trio that loved poetry. Every day, they sent out a poem to their thousands of subscribers (hundreds, maybe) with a little personal note, a critique, some notes. The Wondering Minstrels mailing list is long dead but the poems have been archived at The Wondering Minstrels. And true to the style of a site somewhat neglected, you can find ads for Viagra and luxury shoes in the comments section. Ah, well. That mailing list was the beginning of my love affair with poetry. It brought all kinds of poems into my life. Some were heartachingly beautiful ("Bearhug" by Michael Ondaatje), some were poignant ("Pigtail" by Tadeusz Ròzewicz), some were impishly lovable ("I am very Bothered" by Simon Armitage).

Today I don't go out seeking poetry but it calls out to me from various places. It has found a place in my heart and seeks recognition everywhere else. Yes, I now appreciate it so much.

"I am Very Bothered"

I am very bothered when I think
of the bad things I have done in my life.
Not least that time in the chemistry lab
when I held a pair of scissors by the blades
and played the handles
in the naked lilac flame of the Bunsen burner;
then called your name, and handed them over.

O the unrivalled stench of branded skin
as you slipped your thumb and middle finger in,
then couldn't shake off the two burning rings. Marked,
the doctor said, for eternity.

Don't believe me, please, if I say
that was just my butterfingered way, at thirteen,
of asking you if you would marry me.

-- Simon Armitage

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Passion for Fashion, A Sense for Style!

Grace and Gorgeousness
Growing up in Bombay, I was what you could call "hip." I wore trendy clothes, combined traditional prints with artsy jewelry, wore kurtas and kurtis with jeans, had the whole 'cool-traditional-modern-hip' vibe down pat. After I moved to the United States, I was at a complete loss. Somehow, my usual style of combining Indian fabrics and prints with jeans/trousers didn't exactly fly here. It felt very forced, unnatural, over-the-top Indian. But I had no other style, knew no other way to dress. So I continued doing what I used to, and felt like a total cop-out. Plus, my young face and the jeans-tee combination had me constantly fielding questions like "Really, how old ARE you?," "You look like such a college kid!" and such. It is flattering to be told that one looks like an 18-year-old but it was time for me to dress up, dress my age.

Something changed this year and I think it had to do with The Working Closet. Susan Wagner's simple writing and practical tips made me view my wardrobe and myself anew. I realized that I didn't have to transform my closet or become a different person to start dressing trendy, the American way. It was about looking "put together" and it was well within my ken, with the clothes I had. It was about seeing the same pieces differently, wearing them differently, combining them differently. And then, shopping for clothes and accessories again acquired a joy of its own, like it used to be earlier. Putting outfits together, combining separates and turning them into unique combinations, playing with jackets and belts... now, it's all fun!

Outfit 1And it continues on. And I am a happy shopper once again.

Days of Sunshine Flying By...

Grace and Gorgeousness
We are so lucky in this city that we get to experience the golden-sun, blue-skied brilliance of winters. It is a magical time of the year and an integral part of it is the holiday season. It feels like a few precious days before the clock strikes twelve on the night of December 31. January 1 is a very quiet day, mostly. People are sleeping in, the year is young... and everyone is steeling themselves for the fact that it will be more than five months before a holiday arrives. How amazing it would be to have one more 4-day weekend in the year!

There is no end to housework, sigh. With this one last random thought, it is time to sign off.

My feet are cold...

Grace and Gorgeousness
As determined as I am to not transform my journal (doesn't that sound a lot fancier than 'blog?') into a 'this-is-what-I-had-for-breakfast' and 'here-is-how-my-weekend-turned-out' kind of a place, the subject line has the exact same feeling to it. But yes, my feet are cold. I am wearing socks, yes. I think I should wear knee-length socks.

Inane, inane, inane!

You know that feeling of near-feverishness that plagues the mind and fingers, so they race in tandem through webpages, over the keyboard, typing out comments, dashing off emails, sending messages on Google Talk... and then I wonder - why was I in such a tearing hurry? There was no fire burning, no emergency. Yet, this hurry to get done with "stuff" was so tangible that I hardly sipped water this morning. Or paused for a break. It almost seems like I held my breath for the last three hours. Yes, I possibly did that. No wonder I feel so suffocated and cold, gasping.

Friday holds the promise of a fun-filled weekend, days of freedom and frolicking with friends and their little ones. Baah, I feel so drained this morning that only a warm cup of tea can revive me. That, and 'La's Orchestra Saves the World' by Alexander McCall Smith. I am turning into a grandmother at the ripe old age of 33. Warm socks, cups of tea, gentle books penned by gentle authors...

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