Feb 28, 2022

Top 10 favorite songs of Yuvan Shankar Raja

As I stumbled upon this hashtag #25yearsofYuvanism this evening, many of his beautiful songs flashed in my mind one after another. Being an 80s kid, Illayaraja meant early childhood, AR Rahman meant growing up years (and beyond too!), Harris Jayaraj meant college days, Yuvan meant early work years.

I remember in the 2000s there was a brief time frame when there were not many ARR Tamil albums being released. Harris and Yuvan filled the gap with amazing albums. After returning from work, listening to Yuvan's songs on Sun Music used to be my choice of relaxation in the evenings.

My first iPod had a playlist of Yuvan songs that were so special to me. I'm a bigger fan of his voice than his music composition. His soulful voice stirs up a melancholy of emotions.

As I was listing down my top 10 favorite songs, it is no surprise that majority of them are sung by Yuvan himself.

1) Pogadhey from Deepavali
2) En kaadhal solla neramillai from Paiya
3) Iragai poley alaigirine from Naan mahaan alla
4) Neethane from Sarvam
5) Natpukkullae from Chennai 600028
6) Oru kal from Siva manasula Sakthi
7) Merke merke from Kanda naal mudhal
8) Nenjodu kalandhidu from Kaadhal konden
9) Yaaro from Chennai 600028
10) Oru Devadhai from Vaamanan

Feb 6, 2022

Factory Reset

 This morning, my phone was restarting continuously and I couldn't figure out the exact issue. So I ended up doing the "factory reset", hoping that this would resolve the problem.

As I reset my phone, I wondered how it would be if humans also had a factory reset option. As I spoke this out loud, my daughter responded, "then you would forget everything you have learned, mommy. You will then go back to kindergarten and learn ABCs all over again".

What I inferred by factory reset wasn't exactly our knowledge.

What if our childhood conditioning, our beliefs, biases, judgments, habits, and patterns can be wiped off and we could get a clean slate whenever required, WITHOUT any impact on the basic knowledge that we had gained to function in this world?

What if a clean slate is possible WITHOUT giving up on our physical body and the present life?

Why is it that ONLY death and rebirth can enable this total reset option?

If "Restart" is equivalent to sleep that refreshes us every single day, what is the equivalent of "Reset" in the real world?

Would that be a 14-day Vipassana meditation?

Would that be any life-altering event that shows us the needed perspective to reset our patterns?

Would that be initiated by a serendipitous event or a person?

Just a few random questions that I'm throwing out into the Universe.

Feb 3, 2022

Book Review: What are you doing with your life? by J Krishnamurti


Ever since the pandemic started in Mar 2020, life has been throwing challenges at me one after another. As I come out of one challenge, the next challenge arrives in a month, that's more harder, more intense and more complex. My innate problem solving nature and my need for control felt so pointless. Surrender to the situation and hope that things will resolve on its own seem to be the right strategy. I keep repeating Thalaivar's dialogue to reassure myself - "nallavangala Aandavan sodhipaan aana kai vida maattaan! Kettavangalukku neraiya kodupaan aanakadaisila kai vittuduvaan!"

Every challenge also brings in a lot of questions about life, birth, death, karma, purpose, locus of control etc. I keep looking for answers in spirituality, astrology and philosophy. Many books have helped me gain some perspectives in these 2 years - Karma by Sadhguru, The Subtle Art of not giving a f*ck by Mark Manson, Search inside yourself by Chade-Meng Tan to name a few.

Adding to the list of influential books is this latest read - "What are you doing with your life?" by J. Krishnamurti (JK). During these last 2 weeks of dealing with shock and grief, the author's perspectives felt like exactly what I needed to hear at this point of time. It gave me the much-needed breather from the numerous "What-if"s and "What-next" questions that were triggering my anxiety levels.

The book is a collection of teachings of JK, neatly compiled under 4 sections -
Education, work and money

Among these 4, my favorite were the chapters under Self-knowledge. Felt that "palaar palaar" feeling (hard-hitting) at multiple points.

I'd be lying if I said I have understood the complete book. There were many passages that I couldn't understand or make sense of. That's what the beauty of JK's writings is - digest, revisit, assimilate slowly and steadily.

The writing style felt more conversational, dispersed with a lot of questions, that will make you pause and reflect. There were a few hard-hitting sentences that brought in a lot of clarity. Here are a few lines that I had highlighted.

Life is always in movement, never static. But our minds are static. Our minds are conditioned, held, tethered to dogma, to belief, to experience, to knowledge.

You discover yourself, not in isolation, not in withdrawal, but in relationship. To discover how you react, what your responses are requires an extraordinary alertness of mind, a keenness of perception.

Relationship is action, and self-knowledge is the result of awareness in action.

The more we think over a problem, the more we investigate, analyze and discuss it, the more complex it becomes.

Dependence on things, on people or on ideas breeds fear.

When you accept that you are what you are, where is the problem? There is a problem only when we do not accept a thing as it is and wish to transform it.

The ambitious man is the most frightened man because he is afraid to be what he is.

What awakens anger is that our ideal, the idea we have of ourselves is attacked.

It's certainly not a one-time casual read. Rather, this book requires multiple visits and revisions. In fact, each chapter could be a prompt for journaling and self-reflection. If you are like me in a stage of your life, where more questions are arising about life, look no further. Pick up this book. You might find a few answers.

Feb 2, 2022

RIP Amma

 People come into our lives for a reason. Every one of them - be it our close family members or a random stranger or an author whose words reach us at the right moment.

In the past few days, as I connect the dots on why she came into my life, the reasons are evident in front of my eyes. My MIL, whom I call as Amma left this planet a couple of weeks back because of Covid infection. This all happened too soon and too sudden that we are yet to recover from the shock.

Amma was the first person, with whom I stood next to and observed how she cooked. She is my first guru when I was taking baby steps in cooking in 2006. She was a meticulous person, jotting down lists for everything and labeling every single box/container in her kitchen pantry. I have never seen anyone as patient as her.

We have had our share of difference of opinions, when it comes to food, health, lifestyle and parenting.
Her clear preference towards packaged foods is what pushed me to understand about food and health in the past decade. Many of my blogposts are based on conversations with her.

After she stayed with me for a few months last year, on the day of returning to Chennai, she told me, "unnoda samayal saapptu enga rendu per healthum nalla improve aayirukku. Appa insulin oosi rendu maasama poda avasiyame yerpadala" (After eating your food, our health has improved well. Appa didn't have to take insulin injection for the past two months). Though I felt the workload was unmanageable, her words that day brought a huge sense of satisfaction and happiness.

Rest in peace, Amma. I so wish that you didn't have any of those comorbidities that made the infection turn fatal.

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