Sep 27, 2020

My Top 50 favorite SPB Tamil Songs


I'm still trying to come to terms with the demise of SPB. His voice has been with me since childhood and I'm sure it will continue for the rest of my life. His songs evoke so many memories from childhood and growing up years, the long drives in the late 2000s when the first song from my iPod would always be Sangeetha Megam. 

RIP, Sir. Your music lives with all of us born in the 70s, 80s and 90s.

Over the past two days, I have been thinking to make a list of my top 10 favorite SPB songs but top 10 is just too hard to pick from his vast repertoire of work. Even the top 50 that I managed to compile below (in no particular order) only scratches the surface of his brilliance and I'm sure I would add more to this list in the days to come.
  1. Pennalla pennalla from Uzhavan
  2. Kangalil enna eeramo from Uzhavan
  3. Minnale nee vandhadhenadi from May Maadham
  4. July maadham vandhal from Pudhiya Mugam
  5. En kaadhale from Duet
  6. Thoda thoda from Indira
  7. Kaadhal rojave from Roja
  8. Kaadhalikkum pennin kaigal from Kaadhalan
  9. Yenthan vaanin from Kaadhal Virus
  10. Ennai kaanavillaye from Kaadhal Desam
  11. Oruvan oruvan mudhalaali from Muthu
  12. Swasame from Thenali
  13. Manasukkul oru puyal from Star
  14. Mannil indha kaadhal from Keladi Kanmani
  15. Kaadhalin deepam ondru from Thambikku endha ooru
  16. Sangeetha megam from Udhaya Geetham
  17. Keladi kanmani from pudhu pudhu arthangal
  18. O butterfly from Meera
  19. Nivedha from Nee paadhi naan paadhi
  20. Ennavendru solvadhamma from Rajakumaran
  21. Malare mounama from Karna
  22. Valaiyosai from Satya
  23. Poongatru un per solla from Vetri vizha
  24. Mun paniya from Nandha
  25. Saathi malli poocharame from Azhagan
  26. Pacha mala poovu from Kizhakku vaasal
  27. Sundari from Thalapathi
  28. Mandram vandha thendralukku from Mouna raagam
  29. Nilaave vaa from Mouna raagam
  30. Nilavu thoongum neram from Kunguma Chimizh
  31. Thenmadhurai vaigai nadhi from Dharmathin Thalaivan
  32. Medhuvaa medhuvaa oru kaadhal paattu from Anna nagar mudhal theru
  33. Idhayam oru koyil from Idhaya Kovil
  34. Idhu oru pon maalai pozhudhu from Nizhalgal
  35. Naan pogiren mele mele from Naanayam
  36. Adi vaanmathi from Siva
  37. Innum ennai enna seiya from Singaravelan
  38. Nenjukkulle innarendru from Ponnumani
  39. Yaaro from Chennai 28
  40. Konji konji from Veera
  41. Azhagooril poothavale from Thirumalai
  42. Ilaya Nila from Payanangal Mudivadhillai
  43. Oru jeevanthan from Naan adimai illai
  44. Andhi mazhai pozhigiradhu from Raja paarvai
  45. Enna satham indha neram from Punnagai mannan
  46. Singalathu chinna kuyile from Punnagai mannan
  47. Idhazhil kadhai ezhudhum from Unnaal mudiyum thambi
  48. Unna nenachen from Apoorva Sagodharargal
  49. Oru kaadhal devadhai from Idhaya thaamarai
  50. Kaadhal Kavidhaigal from Gopura Vasalile

Sep 26, 2020

Dealing with new normal


Over the past few months, we keep hearing this phrase "dealing with new normal" in various contexts - life as we deal with the ongoing pandemic and post that.

As I was ruminating over this phrase, I had an epiphany. The new normal isn't something new to us. We have been facing "new normal"s since the beginning of mankind, with every little change we embrace. 

A decade ago, I didn't have a smartphone, but once I embraced it, it became the new normal.

Until around three months back, I was using a knife with a 3" long blade for chopping vegetables, but then I shifted to a new one with a 4" long blade. The new knife has become the new normal for me and I find it difficult to use my old knife. Mind you, I had been using the old knife for 5+ years.

Every little change we imbibe in our lives sets a new normal. Whether this new normal makes our lives better off or worse off is dependent on multiple factors - some that are under our control, while some that are not.

The current pandemic situation has brought in a lot of changes in our behaviors. There are also many macro-economic and political issues emerging during this situation, which are mostly beyond our control. Instead of worrying or getting anxious about these external issues, let's focus our attention inward - our actions and behaviors that have changed.

List down all the changes you have made (voluntarily or forced upon) in the past six months. 

Against each change, write down whether this has made your life better off or worse off. 

If it is better off, continue to embrace this change more consciously.

If it is worse off, think about the feasible alternatives to make it better.

To give you a few examples from my own life,

  1. Having an early dinner. I finish off my dinner by 7-7:15 PM. This change has made my life so much better. My digestion has improved, I feel light and fresh while I wake up the next day.
  2. No quiet time for myself. There's always so much noise and interruptions, given that all of us are at home. I'm not able to get focused time for myself to do any deep work. I recognized this problem within a few weeks since the lockdown started. From then on, I have been waking up by 6 AM consciously, so that I get a solid 2 hours of quiet time for myself. I have also accepted this situation and don't force or expect myself to do deep work during other times. 

Some of the areas to think about, where you might have made a change in the past six months:

  • Sleep routine
  • Eating habits
  • Exercise
  • Social media usage
  • News consumption
  • Binge-watching
  • Family time
  • Shopping patterns
  • Monthly expenses
  • State of mind
  • Productivity
  • Addictions

Let's focus on what is in our control - our actions.

Sep 23, 2020

20 ways to overcome laziness


A few days back, I had posted a question on Insta Stories - "What are the challenges/obstacles you face in achieving your health goals?"

I received many responses to this question and one of the common challenges that many respondents mentioned is laziness

Laziness is triggered by a lack of enthusiasm or energy to get things done in a day. The word "energy" here implies both physical as well as mental energy. It might be hard to pinpoint whether we are lacking physical energy or mental energy while we introspect, as both feeds off each other. A year ago, I had written this post - 10 factors that impact our energy levels. Do take a look if you haven't seen it.

Given the current pandemic situation, many of us have our "off" days. Let's not beat ourselves too much and push harder to be productive every single waking hour. At the same time, keeping ourselves busy with productive and enjoyable activities take our minds off the uncertain situation.

I have compiled below a list of 20 different ways that have helped me overcome laziness. The intention behind this list is to have sustained energy throughout the day and not have energy spikes for a couple of hours and then come crashing down.

  1. Do not snooze but at the same time, do not wake up with a jerk. Once the alarm rings, take a few minutes to tune your mind that it is time to wake up
  2. Do not scroll through your phone first thing in the morning. A quick check of messages/emails is okay. If you can delay that, it is even better
  3. Get a few minutes of quiet time with yourself
  4. Do not rush into anything as soon as you wake up. Allow yourself to sit down and sip your favorite beverage slowly for 15-20 minutes
  5. Spend a few minutes in the morning, doing an activity you enjoy - for me, it is either reading, writing, or journaling
  6. Get some form of workout done in the morning - a brisk walk, Yoga, jogging- whatever you like
  7. Take a few deep breaths and feel grounded
  8. Make your bed. Do not unfold your cozy blanket anytime during the day
  9. Have a bath before 10 AM
  10. Wear comfortable and presentable clothes. Change from your night pajamas or workout wear.
  11. Expose yourself to morning sunlight for 15-20 minutes
  12. Get connected with nature - plants, flowers, chirping birds, clouds, sky, or pets. A few minutes of conversation with my pet cat gives me so much energy.
  13. Have clear intentions for the day. It needn't be a long to-do list, but 2-3 important goals you want to accomplish for the day. Make this list the night before
  14. Eat a light breakfast. Heavy breakfast usually makes me sluggish and I don't like the feeling, especially when I want to get some work done.
  15. Restrict your cups of tea/coffee as much as possible. The energy fluctuates quite a bit when we get too dependent on caffeine.
  16. Keep moving every hour, especially if you have a desk job.
  17. Finish a few minor activities that don't require much time but helps you to move a bit -putting things in their respective place, a little bit of cleaning or organizing, folding washed clothes, etc 
  18. Avoid lying down on the couch or the bed when you want to catch a break for a few minutes. Sit down on the floor and stretch your legs if need be.
  19. Avoid long afternoon nap. A 15 min power nap is okay but if possible, avoid that as well.
  20. Have dedicated, fixed times for TV, Netflix, social media, or Youtube. The more time we spend on these distractions, the less time and energy we have to get anything done.

Are there any other tips/tactics that have helped you kick laziness out of your lives? Do share in the comments below.

Sep 21, 2020

Book Review: Inna naarpadhu iniyavai naarpadhu by Dr. K. Sivaraman


Dr. Sivaraman's writings have had a profound influence on my life these past few years. Ever since I read his Aaraam thinai back in 2014, my approach towards food and health has undergone a positive change. I look forward to reading his books every time they get released. The latest one added to my collection is "Inna naarpadhu iniyavai naarpadhu". As the title suggests, the focus of this book is towards health in our 40s. He looks at health from a much broader, holistic perspective as always - food, physical activity, relationships, mental wellness, acceptance, love and more.

He starts off with this warning - naarpadhu kannasandhaal noyaLiaakum vayadhu. He goes onto elaborate on the struggles and challenges faced by those who are in their 40s presently and how their struggles are far different from the previous generations' 40s.

What I admire about his writing are his language skills that make a strong impact and an easy connect with the reader. Anecdotes, popular phrases, examples from Tamil literature, poetry and movies help convey the message more interestingly. I'm glad I took the time to devour his words slowly by reading just 1-2 chapters a day. It is not a book to brush through.

He has touched upon health ailments that most people in their 40s typically encounter - diabetes, blood pressure, menopause, andropause, high cholesterol, obesity, abdominal fat etc. The recommendations he has shared related to food habits, walk, yoga, pranayama, music, dance etc are easy to understand and follow.

"Anna karandiyil ini yaarukkum soru parimaaradheergal. Sotru karandi tablespoonaaga maarattum" => This was more in the context of weight loss and for people with conditions like diabetes. His stance on millets and indigenous rice varieties still holds true for people who want to maintain their health.

The chapter where he talks about the influence of FAANG (Facebook, Apple, Amazon, Netflix and Google) on one's health was hard-hitting.

"Indha aiymboothangal seidha mudhal aniyaayam nammai edharkaagavum nadakkavidaamal somberi aakiyadhu dhaan"

I couldn't control my laughter when I read this line in the context of how AI and ML are playing a role in our health these days.
"Artificial intelligence nangu poshaakkaga valara indha big data dhaan sathumaavu kanji"

I have underlined so many such hard-hitting, beautiful lines throughout the book. Not possible to list them all here. Highly recommend you check out this book if you are nearing your 40s or in your 40s. Even if his health perspectives don't resonate with you, his language skills will keep you hooked onto this book.

How to interpret an idea?

 In my previous post on The Seeker's journey, I had made this statement - Never take any idea you hear at plain face value. I wanted to explain this statement with an example.

I recently completed this course on Coursera - "The Science of well-being". Brilliant course with a lot of takeaways. One of the points the instructor mentions in the context of happiness at work is that we feel happy when we experience the state of "flow" more often. 

"Flow" is this state where we are completely immersed in an activity, we lose track of time and we find the activity itself to be rewarding.

Though I'm yet to read the original book - "Flow: The Psychology of Optimal Experience" by Mihaly Csikszentmihalyi, I have come across this concept in multiple books and courses in the past few years.

I have experienced this state of "Flow" multiple times while I'm putting together a software product plan, reading a good book, writing a blog post, or cooking an elaborate meal. And yes, I can vouch for the happiness it brings - to be engrossed in an activity for 1-2 hours without getting distracted is such a blissful feeling. I have applied and validated this idea for myself.

A few days back, I came across a different idea in Durgesh Nandhini's Online Minimalism Workshop that I've been attending.

We collect numerous thoughts in our mind every single minute and we carry them in our mind backpack. Journaling and meditation are tools that help release the weight of this backpack we carry. But if we use these tools once a day, say before bedtime, we are still carrying the weight of these thoughts all day long. This weight can make us feel jittery and exhausted. Instead of waiting to empty this backpack once a day, we reflect every one hour to check how we are feeling. A few seconds of awareness and self-reflection can reduce the weight we carry.

When I heard this idea, I was nodding my head as it made so much sense to me. I agree with this idea of frequent self-reflection and the need to be aware of our thoughts more often.

Now, if I were to implement both these ideas, there is a possibility of conflict - when I'm in a state of "flow", I don't want to be interrupted by external distractions or the need to self-reflect every hour. If I had to set an alarm that rings every hour for self-reflection, it might come in the way of my "flow".

Instead of keeping an alarm to become mindful every waking hour, I have consciously planned to incorporate multiple moments in the day for self-reflection - while doing chores, going for a walk, do-nothing times, etc. It may not be 16 times in a day but it is not once a day either.

Understanding the intent of each idea we hear is extremely important. Once we understand it, we will start to implement it consciously, without the need for an external trigger. How we implement it can vary from person to person, depending on various factors.

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