Aug 30, 2022

Book Review: The Almanack of Naval Ravikant



 This is one of the books that is highly recommended by a lot of people.

It is a compilation of thoughts shared by Naval Ravikant on the topics of wealth, happiness, and purpose. His tweets have a lot of wisdom and he has this uncanny ability to convey valuable insights in such simple words.

The author does a neat job of compiling Naval's thoughts that were shared in the form of tweets, podcasts, and interviews.

I found the first half of the book that focuses on Wealth a lot more engaging. Many thoughts on how to build wealth, especially the idea of building specific knowledge and using leverage were insightful.

A few thoughts that struck a chord with me:

"Understand ethical wealth creation is possible. If you secretly despise wealth, it will elude you."

"Most of life is a search for who and what needs you the most."

"Escape competition through authenticity."

"Earn with your mind, not your time."

"Retirement is when you stop sacrificing today for an imaginary tomorrow. When today is complete, in and of itself, you're retired."

"Desire is a contract you make with yourself to be unhappy until you get what you want."

As I wrapped up the book this morning, I had mixed feelings.

Did I like this book? Yes, of course!

Will I rank it as one of my top 30 favorite books? Maybe not.

If I had read this book a few years ago, I might have resonated with it a lot more strongly. But having read some fabulous philosophical, self-help, and spiritual books in the past 3-4 years, I felt this one lacked the much-needed depth. It briefly touched upon many aspects - health, meditation, discipline, freedom, etc. And each topic in itself requires a far deeper dive.

Also, as a person who loves structure and order - be it in books, workshops, or courses, I felt this book could have been structured better. At times, the thoughts felt so random and didn't connect coherently.

This book is ideal for people in their 20s or for those who are new to reading philosophy or self-help books.

As Naval himself says in this book, "different books speak to different people", I urge you to not decide based on my review. It may resonate with you more strongly than it did for me.

Aug 29, 2022

Peace of Body



 I'm currently reading this insightful book "The Almanack of Naval Ravikant".

This one particular line made a lot of sense on the topic of physical health

"To have peace of mind, you have to have peace of body first."


A few days back, I was having mild but persistent stomach pain. As I observed the other symptoms, it felt like a UTI. After 2 days of home remedies, the pain subsided and I felt normal.


During those 2 days, I felt quite restless and irritated. I wasn't able to give my 100% to my daily responsibilities. There was this unease and uncomfortable feeling, though it wasn't debilitating to the extent that I needed to rest completely.


Once our body signals that something is not right in the form of physical pain, unless we address those pains, there is no peace in the body. Sometimes, we tend to suppress these signals by popping painkillers. The signal stops working in the interim but comes back with a vengeance.


As the peace of the body gets affected, our mind is impacted as well. And vice-versa too.


Our overall wellness is a closely interlinked factor of both our body and our mind.


Aches, pains, and discomfort in the body can't be ignored or suppressed for long.


All we need is to pause for a moment during our busy days, close our eyes, and listen to our body's feelings.


P.S.

Home remedies that worked for me to address UTI

  • increased water intake,
  • barley water,
  • buttermilk,
  • banana stem poriyal for lunch,
  • Ajwain+Saunf concoction


Aug 25, 2022

Birthday 2022



Celebrating the completion of one more round around the Sun with a plate of Kesari bhaath and jolada rotti holige oota ๐Ÿ˜‚

Last 2 years, birthdays were indoors. This time, I wanted to spend time in my favorite places in Bengaluru - the old parts of town, traditional and residential areas of Basavanagudi.

After battling the morning rush hour traffic, we headed for breakfast in Brahmin's Coffee Bar. Fueled up with Idli/vade, kesari bhaath and a frothy cup of strong filter coffee.

Spent a quiet, peaceful hour at Sri Ramakrishna Mutt. Sat and meditated for some time and then browsed through their bookstore. Bought a few books as usual! :)

Visited temples around this area - Dodde Ganapathi, Big Bull temple, Govardhan temple. Felt so happy to visit Sri Raghavendra Swamy temple on a Thursday.

For lunch, I wanted to have a typical North Karnataka style oota. I had earlier seen a couple of reviews of Basaveshwar Khanavali by Kripal Amanna and wanted to go there for a while. The sumptuous thali had such a wide spread of dishes. Though slightly spicy, we loved the meal.

K also surprised me by taking me to Champacca book store cafe, which I had been planning to visit for quite some time. Couldn't spend a lot of time there, though the aroma of coffee was so tempting!

Came back home with a satisfied tummy, mind and soul!

It's interesting how our priorities and interests change as we grow older.

Aug 23, 2022

Rearranging



 For the past two days, I'm in a "rearranging" sort of mode.

I rearranged the Philosophy section of my bookshelf - gathered the books I've read in this genre in the past couple of years and the books I plan to read in the next few months.

I also took some time to rearrange and extend my Pooja shelf - brought down the idols and framed pictures arranged in a cardboard box from the loft and arranged them, along with my existing arrangement. Sorted out the devotional/Shloka books and kept the ones I want to learn in my vicinity.

After both these efforts, I felt so rejuvenated and energized.

As we go through the objects, they bring back beautiful memories from the past. For eg, as I was sorting out the framed pictures, I just paused and was looking at a particular pic of Guruvayoor Krishna. It's been so long since we visited the temple. The last I visited was in 2015. During my childhood, I used to visit the temple often - the busy temple street, the colorful shops, the lighting of so many lamps, the colorful red beads that we would mix up, the temple elephant, the divine paal payasam - all came rushing back from my long term memory cells.

The Universe blesses or acknowledges our intentions in surprising ways. For eg, I stumbled upon an idol of Shirdi Sai in the cardboard box. I don't remember how or when I received the idol, but it felt like an amazing coincidence as I have been intending to read Sai Satcharita lately.

It's been a long time since I bought a copy of Autobiography of a Yogi. But I haven't started reading it yet. Every time I rearrange my books, I tell myself that I should pick up this book soon. One of the excuses I was giving myself is that the font size is too small.

A few days back, I stumbled upon an old copy of the same book in my community library. And guess what, it's a hard copy and the font size is perfect to read.

Taking time to rearrange our lives - in the areas of our interests and passions brings in a lot of positivity. Rearranging just a couple of aspects of my life brought in new ideas and helped me identify areas to focus my efforts.

Next in line is to rearrange my cookbooks section. Hope this helps me bring back my cooking mojo, that I seem to have lost ๐Ÿ™‚


Aug 22, 2022

Book Review: Death by Sadhguru



 It is an irony that in my birthday month, a book on the topic of death knocks on my attention space. 

Having lost my mother at a young age, I have so many questions about this phenomenon called Death. At the same time, this is a topic that is avoided at home at all costs - no discussions, no questions asked, and most importantly, not even a mention of the word.

When I stumbled upon this title, I was excited to see that it was written by Sadhguru, whose writings and talks I adore and respect a lot. It has been such an intense and powerful read in the past couple of weeks. 

I had read his book on Karma last year and it helped me understand so many intricacies and demystified the topic with such clarity.

In this book on Death, he has covered in detail, various aspects right from what we mean by Death, to the different stages, quality, and types of death.

In the first chapter, Sadhguru emphasizes the meaning of death and how it is misinterpreted. As much as Life is natural, Death is a natural process as well. It is neither a taboo topic nor a calamity/tragedy nor something to be feared about. Mortality and our impermanence are something to be aware of in our daily existence. Once we accept our fragility, life starts to happen in beautiful ways.

He then goes on to explain the process of life leaving the physical body - the different stages and the sequence of Pancha Pranas leaving the body.

The second section on Preparing for a good death and Assistance for the dying and disembodied was so insightful and eye-opening. Most of my key takeaways were from these chapters. I was blown away by the explanation of various stages of life, especially the role of the Vanaprastha stage and how one consciously withdraws from worldly affairs in pursuit of spiritual knowledge and wisdom.

The different rituals followed during a death ceremony and their background reasons are well explained. The chapter on handling grief and mourning has some hard-hitting facts about death, which helps one to move on gracefully. The chapter on Ghosts clarifies a lot of myths and beliefs about disembodied beings.

Sadhguru's writing style makes the topic of Death and its related aspects so simple to understand, with his short anecdotes, relatable metaphors from today's lives, and powerful quotes.

A few favorite phrases:

"Hell and heaven do not exist as geographical places but as human experience."

"You grieve because someone who in many ways was a part of your life is gone. So one part of your life has become empty and you are not able to handle that emptiness."

"Once someone leaves their body, whether you like it or not, they have nothing to do with you anymore."

"The violence is not in the way the body breaks. The violence is in the way that the human being experiences it in that moment."

"Yesterday has a power of its own. If you do not liberate yourself from it, yesterday will rule your tomorrow."

If you want to know more about this topic, look no further. Pick up this book and read it with an open mind.

Aug 12, 2022

Cats and Love



 K and I are so different, but one of the few common interests is our love for cats. We had always wanted to adopt a cat ever since we got married but were hesitant to execute the idea, given that we were in a rented home earlier.

"What you seek is seeking you" - Turns out that cats have an attraction towards us as well! Wherever we go, we end up seeing cats and they are quite friendly to us.

We are cat parents since 2014 when our pet cat W adopted us. Though we wanted to only feed her on the balcony, she slowly invited herself into our home. 

W has been the MOST easy-going pet so far.

She cuddles with us, sits on our lap, and purrs loudly.

She keeps herself sparkling clean. Her white and grey fur is always shiny, without a speck of dirt.

When it is time to do her "business", she would ask us to open the balcony door and step out.

In her prime years, she used to hunt rats and squirrels and try to bring them inside our home. Until you appreciate her efforts, she would keep meowing, "See, what I have brought for you!"๐Ÿ™‚ Later, we googled and realized that these are her gifts for us.

If K is traveling, she would miss him so much, not eat any food for a couple of days, go to every room and look for him.

When all of us are traveling and she is at home, we are in for a session of scolding meows from her when we return home (My house help used to take care of her during those times).

2 more cat members got added to our family last year - Georgina and Octi are such different personalities as compared to W.

Since they are just a year old, they are super active.

They express their love in many ways - 

rubbing their foreheads on our legs, 

giving loads of cat kisses,

meowing in different conversational tones, 

sitting very close to us and purring as they clean themselves, 

rolling on the floor and showing their precious tummy to us.

They get very excited when we sit down and play with them - making them chase a thread or a ball.

These 3 lovelies have given us many memorable moments in the past few years. There were a few challenges too, especially when they were tiny kittens. Read the detailed story shared last year๐Ÿ™‚

There is a general misconception that cats demand love and don't reciprocate.

Cats are adorable, friendly pets. They shower us with love and affection in their own ways. They make us look at life from a new perspective.

Aug 10, 2022

State of blankness



 Have you ever experienced this?

You wake up in the morning after a good night's sleep and your mind feels blank. It takes a while for you to realize what day it is and what's the plan for today.

You had a terrible round of migraine for hours. You recover from it after a long day and the next morning, your mind is so empty. It feels like your brain underwent a deep cleansing process.

You had been on a vacation where you were disconnected from your devices and you enjoyed the whole trip, being in the present. When you come back to your regular day, your mind feels empty - no agenda, no to-do lists come to your mind. "Vacation hangover", it might be called.

This emptiness leads to a feeling of a blank slate where you experience natural, slow and deep breaths. Your mind loves this state and wants to continue in it for longer. It doesn't want to be rushed, it doesn't want to restart long to-do lists, it just wants to BE.

According to the Yogic philosophy, Akaash/ether is the most subtle and powerful among the 5 elements. While going through @satvic.yoga intense yoga program last month, I realized that this is the element to which I need to pay more attention.

Once this realization dawned on me, the Universe magically provided me opportunities in the past few days to experience and activate the Akaash element. It felt absolutely blissful to experience this state of stillness and a quiet, calm mind experiencing the present. The weather gods were kind, the picturesque locations were serene and the vast expanse of the clouds painted a beautiful picture amidst the greenery.

Rest, rejuvenation, recharge - travel provides abundant opportunities to experience all these and more.

Aug 9, 2022

Happy in Hampi



 A proper vacation after almost 3 years. Our last holiday was a 5-day trip to Yercaud back in Nov 2019. Although we did a couple of 3-day trips to Chikmagalur (Mar 2020) and Mysore (Dec 2021), they were too short to be called a "vacation"!

While K and I were planning for a vacation, I was pretty sure that I wanted to go to a new place - one that we have never visited before.

Hampi had been on my wish list for a long time. We confirmed our homestay bookings, made a list of places to visit (and eat), packed our bags, and boarded our pets in a pet boarding center. Life has changed so much in the last 3 years, that I did feel a pang of hesitation to step out of our comfort zone (home, routine, home food, pets, and other arrangements). But I do miss the value of experiences that travel brings in. So glad we proceeded with our trip, even with a little trepidation in the back of our minds.

Day 1

We left our home around 5:30 AM, took the NICE road, and stopped for a quick breakfast at Pavithra Idli. Decent place, loved the thatte idli smeared with butter. We then headed to Chitradurga Fort. All of us were awestruck during the little trek inside the fort, climbing steps, admiring the magnificent stone walls, getting a little drenched when rain clouds started to open up, along with gusty winds, and stopping at multiple breathtaking viewpoints. D loved the climb so much that she didn't want to come down.

The route was super scenic, with huge sunflower fields adorning either side of the road. The windmills on top of various hills were an awesome sight. We reached Hampi around noon and checked into our homestay. We then headed for lunch at Mango Tree restaurant, the ONLY good place to eat in our experience. South Indian thali was sumptuous, accompanied by a glass of yum Mango lassi. We went back to our homestay and took a short nap.

In the evening, we proceeded to watch the sunset on top of Hemakuta hill. What an amazing view from the top! No words to describe the feeling. Dark clouds, greenery around, view of Tungabhadra river and the majestic Gopuram of Virupaksha temple - treat for the eyes. We spent around an hour, exploring the hill and admiring the monkeys. After a light dinner at Mango tree, we retired for the day.

Day 2

After a good breakfast at our homestay, we headed towards Vijaya Vittala temple. We took the electric vehicle to reach the temple entrance. The whole structure and layout felt so surreal. Though many structures got damaged over many centuries, one cannot help but wonder at the marvel of construction, the vast empty spaces, and the various carvings. Weather Gods were kind to us and we roamed around, exploring the various temples inside the complex.

We then stopped at Queen's Bath for a short time and headed towards Hampi zoo. We took the safari and spotted a few lions, tigers, deer, and peacocks. The walk inside the zoo was also very good. There was hardly any crowd and we had the place all to ourselves. A lot of walking and we were super hungry. We went to Old Chill Out for lunch, average quality, both in terms of food and service. We went back to our homestay and took a short nap.

In the evening, we visited the Virupaksha temple. We got a good darshan of Lord Shiva and the Goddess. The highlight for D was the temple elephant and getting blessings from him. After dinner at Mango tree (again), we called it a day. K and D loved the egg biryani here.

Day 3

It was the day to visit Anjanadri hill, the birthplace of Lord Hanuman. After fueling up, we were ready to take the challenge of climbing 575 steps. It was a steep climb. The stunning views from the top provided a much-needed breather, along with chanting "Jai Shree Ram" all the way. It was a divine experience to visit the temple on top and climb the rocky terrain around. We sat there for 40 minutes, eating our laddu prasad and watching the family of monkeys. Again, a magnificent view from the top!

We then headed to Sanapur Lake and walked around. D was super excited to take the coracle ride. It was a short, peaceful ride with beautiful views all around.

For lunch, we stopped at Rock and Chill cafe on the way, but it was a disaster. The food wasn't good, moreover, there were no other customers in this place.

We went back to our homestay and played a board game for the rest of the evening. Dinner was at Mango tree again. This time, I tried the veg biryani and loved it.

Day 4

We covered as many places as we can on our last day at Hampi - Royal enclosure, Hazara Rama temple, Lotus Mahal, Elephant stables, Underground Shiva temple, Lakshmi Narasimha temple, Badavi Linga temple, and Krishna temple. All of these places were close by and can be covered in half a day.

D didn't want to go to Mango tree yet again and so we stopped at Gopi Rooftop for lunch. Empty place and I was hesitant to eat anything there. D ate her noodles, while I decided to go back to Mango Tree and eat my South Indian thali.

We went back to our homestay and played a board game for some time. In the evening, we again drove down to Virupaksha temple and got a good darshan. We drove to Hospet (a nearby town) and had dinner at Neivedyam restaurant. Masala chai was just too good here.

Day 5

We left Hampi early in the morning and stopped for breakfast in Upadhya Veg, Chitradurga. Decent, South Indian breakfast.

We returned home, feeling refreshed with loads of memories.

Aug 4, 2022

Movie Review - 19(1)(a)



 Recently, watched a beautiful Malayalam movie "19(1)(a)", with the main protagonists played by two of my favorite actors- Nithya Menon and Vijay Sethupathi.

Realistic portrayal, good screenplay, beautiful Kerala locales, and more importantly, impactful writing that leaves a mark after the movie ends.

I could resonate with both the characters and their opposite nature, more so with Nithya's.

In one of the scenes, she says, "I have always done what others expect of me". Story of my life until my early 30s.

The rebellious nature kicked in ONLY after motherhood.

The extended family kept asking, "When is the good news? When are you starting a family? All your younger cousins have given birth. Why are you delaying pregnancy?". And when I did give the good news, the same extended family didn't offer any support and went about their own lives.

That's when the rebel in me came alive. And I started to take charge of my life in ways that suit me and my priorities.

We all have the rebel inside, kept hidden. All we need is a little courage - either from a life situation or from a completely unrelated external person, just like how the nameless female character found her courage from Gauri's words.

Do give the movie a watch on Disney+Hotstar, for the sheer storytelling and brilliant acting by two best actors.

No unnecessary dramas, romance, fights, mass dialogues or punch lines.

Aug 3, 2022

How to influence family members



Imagine this:

You have started to make healthier food choices, but your spouse hasn't come on board.

You have been following a consistent exercise routine, but others in the family continue their sedentary lifestyles.

You have prioritized sleep and follow a strict "no-devices-after-9PM" rule, but others binge-watch Netflix until 1 AM.


It gets frustrating when we go through these experiences. I often go through such emotions and react instantly, but over time, I have realized the following:


  • The reason behind such frustrations is due to the expectation we have of others. Years back, when I went for an AOL program, I learned this valuable insight - "Expectations reduce joy, surprises enhance joy". If we deeply analyze our emotions, there is always an underlying expectation that leads to suffering. In this case, the expectation is that other family members should start taking responsibility for their health.
  • Everyone goes through a wellness journey. The starting points of this journey will be different. It is unlikely that our journeys will be synced with our spouses. We can't coerce them into starting this journey through logic, explanation, or fear. The motivation has to come from within.
  • Until then, all we can do is have complete trust in the Universe and believe that our loved ones will also begin their journey soon.


I heard this phrase in a workshop - to influence others, just focus on your journey. This argument has merit - we cannot change anyone else, but ourselves and our behaviors. But will this eventually lead to influencing family members?


As I pondered deeper, I arrived at this conclusion.


Each of us acts as a transmitter of energy based on our thoughts and actions. When we make healthy choices, such actions emit energy into our external environment. These can ONLY influence others when their RECEIVERS are switched ON and tuned to receive our energy frequency.


That's precisely why I believe it is easier to influence young children, with our lifestyle choices. Their receivers are always ready to receive the energies from others at home.


But for adults (spouse, parents, in-laws, etc), their receivers might either be tuned to other frequencies or might be too distracted to receive our energies.


When will their receivers be ready? When they understand their NEEDs - the need for wellbeing, need for ease, and need for peace.

Aug 1, 2022

Do I remember everything I read?

 "Do you remember everything you read?", someone had posed this question.

Short answer - Not at all ๐Ÿ™‚

Long answer - my intention to read books is not to remember every single point or insight. I'm not reading for the sake of any competitive exams๐Ÿ™‚ Thank God, those days are behind me. I now read because I love reading.

When I read, I highlight all sentences/phrases/passages that struck a chord with me. Writing book reviews help me summarize my takeaways, which I revisit whenever needed.

If I need to reference a particular topic at a later point in time, I know exactly which book I need to check and I look it up immediately. I have a copy of all books that I have read and found valuable - either as a physical copy or on Kindle. I'm very particular about not lending my books๐Ÿ™‚

Books aren't just sources of information or facts.

Imagine your brain/mind as a huge palace with infinite rooms that are locked. Any new insight that we come across is a Key to opening a room. For me, books are those valuable keys.

Keys could also be conversations with people, taking up new courses, watching informative videos, listening to podcasts, etc. No key is superior or inferior. They open new rooms which we didn't know existed in our minds.

As we unlock new rooms, more ideas, insights, and possibilities come into our vision. We also arrive at a certain direction to take as we navigate through the maze of rooms.

While we progress in this journey of unlocking, we also realize that certain rooms get unlocked automatically without the need for an external key. These are our experiences, self-realizations, intuitions, and surprise gifts from the Universe.

Choose your keys according to your preference. And enjoy this beautiful unlocking journey. You never know what you might stumble across!

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