Introducing: Required Reading

Required Reading is a new section on the blog through which I want to share the best articles I’ve discovered on the Internet. Articles that tell inspiring stories of great people, of unknown people, of seemingly ordinary occurrences that can have extra-ordinary repercussion in your life. Articles that will help you improve your life, to live it to the fullest, articles that bestow wisdom and change how you see the world. Basically, stuff that you should be required to read.


This read on Harvey Weinstein and the economics of consent

Health tips from people who've lived for more than a 100 years

HBR tells you how to deal with an incompetent boss

Read about this absolutely inspiring man 

A story of slavery in Modern America by by Alex Tizon

This article asks whether it is still ethical to travel to Iceland

An interview with Chris Earl - A ceramist, furniture maker, chef, father, and husband


Overcoming the Lure of the Ephemeral

We live in an ephemeral world. Everything is short lived, whether it’s the pictures we take, or the relationships we have, or the goals we set for ourselves – they all tend to be short-lived. Somewhere along the line, we discarded from our lives, the priceless quality of adding deliberate persistence that creates a lasting impact to everything we do.

Maybe it’s the fast paced nature of our modern lives that is to blame, but we’ve developed a myopic approach to living our lives. We don’t tend to think about the long-run, often choosing an alternative that might seem like the right choice as of “now” but one that may not add value to our lives in the grand scheme of things. The fundamental issue is the fact that we have become accustomed to choosing the easier, the more instantaneous option, despite its shortcomings, over the other one, which will take time, effort, and patience but will deliver much higher value.

I like to think that technology has something to do with this. It has deluded us into thinking that everything should and can come to us right at the moment when we desire it, and that we shouldn’t have to put much effort into getting it. Whether it is the simple act of forwarding songs to the part you like, or capturing shaky selfies of moments on your cell-phones instead of one perfect shot, or a life changing decision such as giving up on a relationship instead of working on the problematic parts, switching jobs for small issues that do not really matter (or at the very least can be overcome,) or eating “anything” you can get your hands on instead of taking a conscious effort to eat healthier, we have been conditioned into believing that the instant option is better, even if it may actually turn out to be the opposite.

This goes completely against the philosophy of mindfulness and taking the most mundane activity seriously and immersing yourself into it. The first step to move away from the lure of the ephemeral is to identify the fact that you’ve been repeatedly falling for it. For me, this realization came as a sudden epiphany, followed by constant emergence of evidence of the face that I was sinking deep in the sea of temporary. I have been trying to slowly combat this in my life, and it is insane how many aspects of our lives are victim to the lure of the ephemeral. It is almost universal in its infection.

What has worked for me is to be gradually become more mindful to the process of identifying the easier and temporary (and in many cases inferior) option throughout the day, in all aspects of my life. I try and check myself several dozen times a day, no matter what I am doing, constantly being mindful of the possibility of falling for the lure of the ephemeral. It is like hitting the pause button while watching a movie, to really process things. Once I pause, I ask myself a few questions that tend to help me identify whether whatever it is I am about to do, has ephemeral value or lasting value. This simple practice has helped me walk away from falling prey to all things temporary countless number of times, which has in-turn enabled me to spend my time and money in a more lasting way, creating more value, to live my life to the fullest, rather than settling for whatever is most convenient.

A Thousand No’s for Every Yes

Back in 2013, Apple made a short video that talked about how they achieve perfection in their products. They talked about a few things, but what stood out to me, was a single line – “a thousand no’s for every yes.” Although originally coined to help market Apple products, that line has universal application in our lives. The modern world has deluded us into thinking that trade-offs do not exist, that nothing needs to be sacrificed to get something or to get somewhere. Trade-offs are not only still relevant, they are probably more important than they ever were. We are faced with hundreds of choices everyday, and the art of saying no to what you don’t need so that there will be space to say yes to what you do, is possibly the most important habit that I feel we need to form.

For the past few weeks, I have been trying to practice the philosophy of “a thousand no’s for every yes.” Here are some of the ways in which you can incorporate the philosophy in your life –

  1. Apply the philosophy to your social interactions: Saying yes to everyone who wants to spend time with you will wear you out and result in you not having enough time to work on yourself or on people and interactions that really matter. Before agreeing to meet someone, ask yourself a few questions – Will this meeting interfere with your routine? Whether this is the only time that you can meet them or if there’s a better time? Do you enjoy spending time with his person or going to the place you’re about to go to or will you end up regretting it? Is there a more fulfilling engagement coming up, which this meeting could leave you feeling exhausted for? You will be surprised to find out that many interactions we have in our lives, we don’t necessarily want to, but end up going ahead with, just to keep up with people, which obviously comes at a huge cost.
  2. Incorporate the philosophy into your purchasing decisions: Let’s face it, most of us have a limited amount of money to spend on things, and saying no to things that you don’t really need is the best way you can save up enough to buy the things you really want. Avoid making spontaneous decisions without thinking about a few things such as – Whether you really need whatever it is that you are about to buy? Will you end up using it everyday for quite some time? Have you researched enough on it to know that there isn’t a marginally more expensive variant that might suit your needs better? Is there something else you need in your life that is more critical than the purchase you are about to make?
  3. Use it to improve your food consumption: We tend to eat a lot of unhealthy food, without thinking of the piled up consequences they have on our health and body. Every-time you are about to eat something, ask yourself a few questions, such as – Is this the healthiest option you have? Have you already eaten enough unhealthy food this week? Have you exercised as much as you planned? Is it the best time to be having the kind of food you are about to have?
  4. Use it at work: People tend to expect us to be superheroes, capable of achieving everything at our workplace. Feeding into this myth will lower your productivity in the long run. Set yourself realistic goals and share them with your boss, explain to them that you’d rather give your all to a few tasks (especially if you excel at them) than try and do everything and in turn do a mediocre job at it all. Doing this will keep you engaged, motivated, and will also help highlight your strengths to your organization in a much more meaningful manner.

Here’s the advertisement by Apple that inspired this article.

ootd #3: Gloomy Minimal

Seemingly endless meadows, a sky that promises to swallow the earth, the irrefutable charm of petrichor, a gush of wind that blows through your hair, drops of rain caressing your skin, slowly reaching your finger-tips. The rainy season is truly one for the senses, it can get you in touch with what it means to be truly alive. 


Tee - Koovs

Chinos - New Look

Shoes - Generic Surplus


Slow Down

Modern life, demands that we pace through our days and often it might seem like right from the moment we wake up, we are playing a game of chase, constantly trying to keep up with the day. We go through the day constantly under the pressure of some sort of rush, to be somewhere else, rather than be present in what we are doing. This can have a toxic impact on us, making us feel very disconnected with our life and can even mentally and physically exhaust us. On the flip-side, if you manage your time in a healthy manner, if there's a structure to your day, if you have the ability to immerse yourself into the tasks and activities that add value in your life and discard the one's that don't, you will feel more fulfilled, calm, and invariably get more done as well. 

Take up less, and immerse yourself in what’s left

The solution is two-fold – 1) Take up less, learn to say no. Identify tasks and activities that you do not enjoy, that aren’t adding any value to your life, or are simply not important and start saying no to these, so that you have more time for the ones that you do enjoy, the ones that are adding value to your life, and the ones that are important. 2) After you’ve done this, you will have a little more time to slow things down, to completely immerse yourself in whatever remains after you’ve said no to things. Rather than rushing through these activities, focus in, immerse yourself. Doing this will result in you actually enjoying and cherishing these tasks and activities (no matter how mundane) rather than them feeling like an annoyance that you need to get done with.

Wisely, and slow. They stumble that run fast.
— William Shakespeare

What I've been watching, reading, and listening to in May 2017


A monthly curation of TV shows, movies, music, podcasts, and books handpicked by yours truly


TV SHOWS

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Please Like Me is an adorable show based in Australia about Josh and his life (which mostly revolves around his friends, family, lovers, and his dog.) Normally I possess a disdain for TV shows that are about a bunch of friends (except for Seinfeld and Girls) but Please Like Me presents a sincere, relatable, real, and humorous take on what its like to be a twenty something right now. Beyond the plot itself, over the seasons I grew into each of the characters, especially the parents. The show can be streamed on Netflix in India.   

music & podcasts

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I don't listen to much of pop or commercial music and I don't even know if their latest album qualifies as a pop record but "After Laughter" by Paramore has been on repeat this month on my iPhone. The album has a strong 80s pop rock vibe to it with big hooks that will have you singing along (listen to Hard Times, Rose Colored Boy, Forgiveness, and Fake Happy.) What almost goes unnoticed is the lyrical solidity of the album, that takes the listener through facing adversity, loss, hurt, forgiveness, the feeling of putting on a front of happiness, despite being sad and hurt, and hope (my favorite song on the entire album is 26.) 

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I've also been hooked to the award wining podcast 'Lore' hosted by Aaron Mahnke. Aaron is a great storyteller, who uses his talent for telling stories to narrate unsettling accounts from the past, about witches, about odd co-incidences, about ghosts, about murders, and more, that will leave you with goosebumps and a genuine sense of fear.  

Both the album and the podcast can be accessed on Apple devices on the Apple Music and Podcast apps. 

books

One of my childhood friends left me a fascinating non-fiction by Daniel Coyle called The Talent Code. The book presents a careful and factual argument for why talent isn't something we're born with, but something that we can work on over the course of our life. Perhaps the biggest revelation for me that came through the book, was the fact that if talent can be cultivated or rather is, then, I must devote more time to things I have already spent a lot of time on, rather than focusing on new things. Which means, more writing and more music. 

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Essentials: Chambord French Press by Bodum

Essentials is a new series on my blog that tries to tackle two problems of modern consumerism - 1) The tendency to mindlessly buy things that we don't need and 2) The tendency to end up buying something we need that isn't the best in the category in terms of it's aesthetic and functional value. 

Products (in the broader sense) that I will be sharing here, would have been purchased only after I've carefully identified the permanent value that they create in my life. Additionally, I will also study and pick the most aesthetically and functionally rich offering in said category. 

Over the past few years, a fresh cup of coffee has become one of the most integral part of my morning ritual (more on that on a future post.) Of all the ways to manually brew coffee, a French press is hands-down the best method (especially if you drink your coffee black.) I prefer the method for a few reasons - 1) It is simple and easy, all you need is some coffee (course grind) and hot water and 2) It offers the benefit of temperature control (which is important as the use of boiling water can often reduce the potency of coffee.)

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I own French Press' by both Hario and Bodum, but I prefer "The Chambord" by Bodum. I found both the design and the build quality of the Bodum Press to be superior to that of the Hario. From a design perspective, I found the Chambord's minimal, classic, and seamless aesthetic far more pleasing. The quality of the materials used (which although are similar) seem to be better in the case of the Chambord, whether it is the grip, or the precision crafted stainless steel frame (which looks as new as the day I got it.) From a functional perspective, the Chambord is way easier to clean and definitely more durable. The Chambord comes in three sizes ranging from 0.5L to 1.5L. I personally prefer the 0.5L, since portability is important to me. The 0.5L makes two full cups and one full mug. 

A French press is an essential for anyone who loves a rich, smooth, flavorful coffee to kickstart their morning and the Bodum Chombard with it's classic and minimalist design and exceptional build quality is the obvious choice. 

How to Use Death to Awaken Yourself to the Gift of Life

For the longest time, I have believed that nothing makes you value life like death. Once you realize how frail your life actually is, how, within the blink of an eye, you could be six feet under or be reduced to ash, falling from the sky, or on your last journey. Once you think about all of that, you will suddenly know what it truly means to be alive.

We don’t like to think about it, but death is constantly around us. Around 150,000 people die every single day and it is probably the only thing that universally applies to anything that lives. Yet, most of the time we completely disregard death, we pretend that somehow we are immune, temporarily immortal, only to find that we aren’t. We delude ourselves into thinking that death will come as per our convenience, when we are ready to go.

The fear of death follows from the fear of life. A man who lives fully is prepared to die at any time.
— Mark Twain

The universe constantly tries to remind us how wrong we are, either through other people, or through close shaves that we ourselves experience; but our conditioning is so strong that instead of using these reminders to cause a shift in the way we live our lives, we just get back to the grind. Instead of using these experiences as a catalyst to spend the rest of living days doing amazing things, we continue to cling to the mundane. I can’t think of a bigger crime that we commit against ourselves than this.

MAKING THE SHIFT

So how do you actually make the shift? How do you go from being either almost oblivious to death or being consumed by the fear of it to being mindful of it and using it as a catalyst to live your life to the full, to look at each day as a blessing and make the most of it? Here’s some friendly advice – the next time death creeps on you (ideally now, since you are reading this,) pause things for half an hour or an hour or so, get to somewhere where you can think, somewhere you can find clarity, wherever that may be. Then, try and make a list of all the things that you are grateful for in your life, include as much as you can, whether it is the fact that you have a loving, caring, nurturing family, or a great friend who is always there for you when you need them, or a job that can although sometimes be challenging, rewards you with the ability to achieve the things you want in your life. But it doesn’t all need to be grand, you could be thankful for the breakfast you had, or the fact that you didn’t face too much traffic on your way to work, you will be surprised to find how exhaustive this list can get. After that, make a list of all the things that you want to change about your life that you have the ability to and have control over – things like wanting to spend more time with your spouse, learning a musical instrument, taking out the time to travel, learning to cook, or running more often.

Making this list will help you put into perspective what it truly means to be alive, and why it is a gift that we need to cherish every breathing second of our lives, instead of constantly complaining about something and in-turn dying bit by bit every single time we do that.

It is important that we pause every now and then, so that we can figure out what is good about our life and what can be realistically improved. I try and pause as much as often as I can, almost making a new list at the start of each month (but I am aiming to start doing this every week). There’s several other moments where you need to pause, to not desperately fill your gaps with something, with anything. I will talk about it more in another post, but this pause is more of a deliberate one, it is an intentional pause, to reflect on your mortality, in order to truly appreciate life.

Garb #3


Neeti is an English literature major and a theater artiste based out of Poona, who has a love for eclectic, artisan, and locally sourced clothing and accessories.


  • Dress: From one of her visits to Sri Lanka, which she found at a thrift store
  • Bangles: From a forlorn looking Rajsthani girl who was selling jewelry at Janpath, Delhi
  • Nose pin: She loves collecting nose pins and this one is from a filigiri work kaarigar at the Dastkaari exhibition. 
  • Kolhapuri Chappals: From Laxmi Road, Poona
  • Handbag - From a crafstman in Jaipur, where she spent an hour ransacking his shop, choosing that particular bag (the only one in it's design) 

Be Content With Where You Are

As the smoke settles, I breath slowly, taking in the fresh breath of air that now engulfs me within it. The past few days have been filled with noise, rumble, darkness, and volatality. But they’ve also been filled with love, joy, happiness, light, and a strange sense of peace. Peace caused by having everything stripped away from me – except this breeze and the silence of this moment.

When you lose everything, you tend to notice the small things. Small things, like the way the sun sneaks through the trees, playing hide and seek with your pupils. Small things like tiny raindrops, that wash away the dirt on your fingers. If it were only that easy to wash away the dirt within our souls.

As all of this happens, I pull over my scooter to the side of the road, switch off the engine, and just stand and stare. I stare at the road, which like me is empty, except for those seldom occasions when someone decides to walk all over me. I close my eyes, try and let the breeze calm me down.

There aren’t many roads like this in Poona. Roads that let you get lost, when you are standing still. Roads that offer solitude and not commotion. Roads that make the destination seem irrelevant. Its roads like these that make you realize that it isn’t about where you are headed or where you were. The secret of life is in being content with where you are. "Be content with where you are." I keep repeating that thought in my head, hoping to take it home with me, like a half-eaten plate of risotto.

Be content with where you are.

Like Grass Fighting the Wind

The seemingly ordinary occurrences in our lives hide profound lessons, if we are mindful enough to notice them. Often, the best way to react to the chaos around us, is to be still, to be resolute, and to not let it impact us. Like grass caught in between a heavy eastward wind, stay still, and do not give in. 

Garb #2

Dyonne personifies eclectic and individualistic style. Whether it is the vintage denim jacket (which she’s been rocking for almost a decade now) or the hand woven Kashmiri bag, or the accessories on her hands, or the make-up on her eyes.

Garb #1

I met Andy almost a year back at a friend’s party where we were all jamming to songs, and Andy and I did an impromptu version of Drunk in Love by Beyoncé. Besides being an extremely talented singer, Andy works as a communication specialist at a software company in Poona. 

“The poncho was a steal for Rs. 200, which I picked up on the streets of Manali. The boots are lightweight leather, which make them a great carry forward trend for spring.” – Andy

“The poncho was a steal for Rs. 200, which I picked up on the streets of Manali. The boots are lightweight leather, which make them a great carry forward trend for spring.” – Andy

Even when I had just conceived the idea behind Garb, I wanted Andy to be one of the first few people I wrote about on the series. He exemplifies what Garb is all about and has an eclectic and bohemian sense of style that is well balanced between established brands and locally sourced products.

“I have recently fallen in love with stacking up bracelets. I have 4 so far and I’m still collecting them.” -Andy

“I have recently fallen in love with stacking up bracelets. I have 4 so far and I’m still collecting them.” -Andy

Largo Pizzeria

For a couple of weeks now, I've been meaning to go check out Largo - a pizza shop that has opened up in Viman Nagar, that serves pizza by the slice. It's a little ironic that I couldn't visit them sooner, considering the fact that it is literally a 5 minute walk from where I live. I finally ended up getting the time to go visit the place, during the long "Republic Day" weekend.

The eatery is open only during the evenings (5pm-11pm), and the best time to go there if you want a slice is between 5pm-8pm. They currently have a limited menu comprising 5 vegetarian pizzas and 5 non-vegetarian pizzas. When ordering by the slice, their pizzas cost Rs. 40 for the veg variants, and Rs 60 for the non-veg variants. Their regular pizzas come in 3 sizes - 16", 18", and 20" and they start at Rs 380 (for the 16".)

This is not the kind of place you’d wanna go to if you’re hungry and randomly feel like eating a pizza. You probably want to plan your visit to Largo in advance and maybe even give your order over the phone. The place is currently run by the owners and owing to the rather phenomenal response it is getting, you would most definitely not get your pizza “quick”.

It’s also not a place you’d want to dine in, the owners intended it to be more of a take-away joint, but since most people enjoy their pizzas hot off the oven, they have a few chairs and stools (originally intended to be used by customers waiting to pick up their orders). They are planning a dine-in format, which should come up soon, but this will be at a different location, with the current location being “take-away focused”. I would recommend placing an order and then picking it up.

Owing to the long wait, my expectations from the pizza had sky-rocketed. Luckily, the pizza was amazing. We ordered the smallest size on their menu (16inch), but its still the largest pizza that I’ve ever eaten. Despite the obvious inclination the eatery has towards ‘big and large’, I was relieved to see them practice restraint when it came to the thickness of the base, as well as the proportion of cheese and toppings. For an eatery built around value for money, it would be easy for Largo to give in to the temptation of serving ridiculously over the top pizzas. It was great to see them not take that path – the pizza was thin, light, crisp, with delicately appropriate proportions of chicken and cheese. The balance was spot on and could compete head on with the pizzas at Olives or Terttulia.