Archive for the ‘life’ Category

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Z: Zero Waste Lifestyle

May 1, 2017

This ( link) is a term I came across sometime last year, and I’m quite amazed by the idea of it. The very fact that there are people who actually manage to do this on an everyday basis is quite astounding to me.

Think about it, there’s so much trash that gets generated with each action we take. We wake up in the morning and brush our teeth. There’s waste in terms of the toothpaste tube we toss out after it’s empty, the carton it comes in, and then the toothbrush itself that we toss out when it’s past it’s time. Of course, there’s a good chance of all this getting recycled, but in a country like India, especially in cities like Bangalore and Hyderabad where Waste management is a disaster, I have no such hopes.

And, this is just the tip of the iceberg. Takeaway food in disposable containers, mineral water bottles, groceries, packaged food, milk packets/cartons, tissues and sanitary pads and tampons – there so many things that we just use and throw with barely a thought of what happens to it after we discard. My pet peeve is the not-so-new thing at Indian weddings – small mineral water bottles at EVERY meal for about 200-300 people, be it breakfast, lunch or dinner. We’re so Eco-friendly with the plantain leaves that we eat those meals on, but the bottles?! So much is sacrificed in the name of convenience.

I’m quite unlikely to implement the totally zero-waste lifestyle, mainly because I don’t see myself making my own soap or toothpaste any time soon, but I do hope I can make baby steps towards a reduced-waste lifestyle.

I do carry a bag every time I go grocery shopping, and refuse to put vegetables in those individual bags for weighing, as far as possible, but I’ll be conscious of the choices I make in the store to further this. When I do take those small plastic bags, I’ll make sure I reuse them till they fall apart.

I’ve mostly cloth-diapered A in her infancy, and I’m glad I was able to do that. But I’m still quite on the fence about menstrual cups, but I think will give it a shot this year. Worst case I’ll hate it and switch back. If not, imagine the amount of trash I’m saving each month with just that one change!

And I’ve discovered that someone sells bamboo toothbrushes in India, how utterly cool is that!

And finally, clothes. I’ve pretty much stopped buying stuff that’s cheaply made, or ‘Fast fashion’ brands (I avoid non-made in India stuff as far as I can, no Mango, Zara etc) but I’m yet to achieve success in having a really small wardrobe. I did some major culling once last year, but again it’s looking quite full. With a move of apartments around the corner, this is perhaps a good time to do this again and hopefully, sustain it.

A friend of mine told me she did  once went on a no-shopping experiment for a year. Unless it’s essentials. I think I can do this, at least with clothes. I think I’m set for a year already, but perhaps I’ll evaluate the wardrobe once more before I make that grand decision. Yes, it’s a plan 🙂

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V: Village

April 26, 2017

The kind that they say it takes to raise a child, I mean.

Only lately have I begun to realise the actual implications of the nuclear family life. Yes I know, quite late in life. At the risk of sounding like a self-centred <your choice of expletive here>, only after I’ve had a baby, I’ve truly understood why the whole joint family structure made sense once upon a time. And what it truly means when they say, It takes a village.

For one, there’s tons of wisdom, tried and tested through the ages that would’ve been available on demand, or even unsolicited, take it or leave it. Instead of turning to the Internet at the drop of a hat, there would be grandparents, in the flesh, telling you what to do and what not to do from years of experience. Instead of second-guessing your every decision, or asking strangers (well-meaning, I’m sure) on the Internet for advice, there would be loads of advice freely available at home. Yes, there’s always the phone and people you can turn to for advice, but I don’t know, we do seem to rely on the Internet a lot more, because it’s convenient.

Secondly, the child has a lot more exposure to family than during the occasional weekend or holiday when the family visits happen. And these additional helping hands are invaluable, be it in cases where both parents are working, or even when one of the parents stays home all day. The whole business of taking care of the child and engaging with her is shared across more than an adult or two. Which means a lot less stress on the primary caregiver.

I also think the child will grow with a lot more passed-down wisdom from the grandparents and learn to deal with different points of view. And of course, stories! Who better than the grandparents to regale them with stories of their parents’ childhood, and other fun stories in general?

And then, if there are other children in the house? That much more fun for the children, then 🙂

Of course, all of this applies as long as the adults all see eye to eye on most relevant matters and have healthy respect for each others’ choices and each other’s space. The lack of it of course is probably the main reason families move away, apart from the standard reasons like jobs, proximity to workplace, schools etc.

I wonder if in the future we’ll go back a full circle and joint families will be more the norm than the exception. Will we all evolve sufficiently to learn to live with each others’ differences, make suitable compromises and co-exist peacefully? Only time will tell, I suppose.

Edited to add: Of course, on further thought, I’m guessing it will be complicated. For one, I’m not all for the newly married couple moving into the groom’s house simply because that’s how it has been for centuries. So much patriarchy at play. So when I mean a joint family, I don’t mean it in the traditional sense. It would be nice if both sets of parents live close by, so the whole joint family feeling is still fostered, perhaps? Sounds Utopian, I know. Hmm.

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U: Unfiltered thoughts / Updates

April 25, 2017

It’s bedtime and I’m all ready type out a short post and go to sleep. My A-Z Illustration Challenge is all but done, tomorrow is the last one! I didn’t take Sundays off on that one so I’m done a good four days earlier. Quite relieved I’ll have one less thing on my plate until the end of April. I’m looking at you, A-Z blogging challenge.

And four more days of it to go. V, W, X, Y and Z. Argh, that’s five. True to my usual style, I haven’t a clue what to blog about for any of the rest. I do wish I hadn’t taken up both the Illustration challenge and this one at the same time, in retrospect. I would’ve done more justice, I think. 

Someone on my Instagram posted a picture of Florence and man, I so want to go back there. All those students walking about, sitting around sketching. Re-visit the museums, go back to that hilltop where we waited for the sunset, drinking cheap wine and drawing the Duomo and the view in my little sketchbook. Such good times and what a great city to study art in. Sigh! 

My Mom’s birthday is coming up and given the fact that she’s here, I’m wondering what to do on the day. Hmm.

I’m glad to be blogging though because it’s good to go back and read archives from two years ago and realise that I’ve forgotten so much stuff already. I do hope I can get back to the blog at least once a month. 

This thinking out loud style is what my old blog was mostly about I think. I should really go back and re-visit it soon. Yes I might cringe and cringe but I should do it anyway. 

Over and out. 

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T: Tools of Titans

April 24, 2017

That’s the name of the book by Tim Ferriss that I’m currently reading and quite enjoying. It’s essentially a compilation of the highlights of interviews of people from various walks of life (in his words, world-class performers) from his podcast, which I’ve been listening to for a couple of months now. On his podcast, Ferriss has this very casual interview, which is more like a chat with all these cool, interesting people from a really diverse range of fields, on topics like their morning routines, fitness, productivity, books, etc. So the book is distilled version of the podcast and it features people like Arnold Schwarzenegger, Scott Adams, Cheryl Strayed, Maria Popova, Brene Brown and then a whole bunch of other people who I’ve never even heard of, but some of whom pique my interest enough to go look them up next.

Even though his podcast is supposedly a ‘Business podcast’ and the book delves into the tools and tactics of ‘billionaires’, I’m glad I decided to give it a shot and try both when a friend recommended it. Especially, the book. Maybe it’s the phase of life or frame of mind that I am in these days, but a lot of quotes/ advice in the book seem especially relevant to me. In fact, I don’t know of a book where I’ve gone about highlighting so many parts (on my Kindle) as I have, in this book.

So, here are some favourite bits from the book –

Seth Godin – “I think we need to teach kids two things: 1) how to lead, and 2) how to solve interesting problems. Because the fact is, there are plenty of countries on Earth where there are people who are willing to be obedient and work harder for less money than us. So we cannot out-obedience the competition.’

Chuck Close, an American artist – “Inspiration is for amateurs— the rest of us just show up and get to work. And the belief that things will grow out of the activity itself and that you will— through work— bump into other possibilities and kick open other doors that you would never have dreamt of if you were just sitting around looking for a great ‘art idea.”

When Kurt Vonnegut wrote ‘Write to please just one person,’ what he was really saying was write for yourself. Don’t try to please anyone but yourself…. The second you start doing it for an audience, you’ve lost the long game because creating something that is rewarding and sustainable over the long run requires, most of all, keeping yourself excited about it….”

And this line from the book, which is actually a Zen mantra –  ‘Sit, sit. Walk, walk. Don’t wobble.‘ is something I probably need tattooed on my hand or some place where I can ALWAYS see it.

Apart from so much learning, the book has also given me a bunch of other stuff to look up, the people who feature in the book, a bunch of books to read, music to check out. And to think, I’m not even done with 50% of the book!

Okay, I’m done gushing.

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S is for Solo

April 22, 2017

I don’t know if it is part of growing older but I think I enjoy doing things by myself a lot more than I used to.

In my twenties, or at least the early twenties I thought that the sight of anyone eating a meal at a restaurant by themselves was a sad one. Today, I’d probably be more than happy to do it, given a chance.

Maybe it’s my current stay-at-home-with-A status or just how I’m growing, but I’d jump at the idea of having a long, leisurely lunch by myself with perhaps a book (or my Kindle) or my sketchbook for company. The idea of some quiet and solitude seems so appealing. I think I’ve also grown more secure that I feel comfortable enough to do it.

Which is what I did earlier this week. Since my folks are here, I set off by myself, visited a couple of art galleries and then had a lovely lunch all by myself.

And then, there’s the other idea. Travel. Like I was discussing with a couple of friends sometime back, travelling solo is something I really wish I had done earlier. But all’s not lost. Now that A’s getting older and we’re all getting more confident that she doesn’t really seem to mind me being away for a day or two, I can actually think of doing it.

Of course, I wish it were that easy for a woman to travel alone India (that solo lunch I mentioned earlier – I had a creep almost ruin it for me while I waited for my taxi). But that’s perhaps all the more reason to do it.

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R is for Relief

April 21, 2017

That feeling when you finally finish something you’ve been putting off for a while because you’re SO afraid you’ll screw it up. And then you finally decided you’ve procrastinated enough (by painting tomatoes and more tomatoes and taking naps!) and decide to eat the frog (nope I haven’t read the book but I love the expression) and just do it. I’ve been putting off a human figure sketch that I’ve been working on because I’m not comfortable drawing figures. I did the first draft a couple of weeks ago, and was happy, and was just dragging my feet getting started on the final version. Because, what if it looks horrible? What if it looks nothing like the draft that I actually like?! Etc.

Anyway, it’s done. Phew. That feeling of relief is amazing. It’s great to realise that –

a. It’s done

b. You haven’t screwed it up (too much, anyway)

c. It’s D.O.N.E!

d. Bonus: It gave rise to a blog post for R!

*Happy dance*

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O: Old-fashioned

April 18, 2017

One of the days last week, I think it was for the letter J, I really struggled to think of a topic to blog about, and when I finally did get around to doing it, it was nearly 10.30pm. But I didn’t have to stress much once I thought of a topic because I have the WordPress app on my phone. I was in bed, ready to type out a post on my phone (I do that sometimes) and then just pass out.

That made me think how easy internet access and blogging is these days. Once upon a time, when I was still on a dial-up, this is what I would have done to publish a blog post. It’s of course hypothetical because, I hadn’t heard of blogging then. Still, I assume these would be the steps –

  1. Switch on the computer. (My phone now, is always on)
  2. Open a Word Doc or notepad to start typing a post (Now, if I blog from the phone, I go directly to the WordPress app, of course)
  3. Save the document every once in a while, because
    1. No power backup back then.
    2. Even software wasn’t evolved enough to auto-save every once in a while.
  4. If I wanted to add a photograph to a post, then Hahaha, good luck. These would be the steps (Gosh I should have just made a drawing with a flowchart instead of all these steps) –
    1. Youw ould, first of all, take the photograph with a good old-fashioned camera. Not a smartphone. Nu-uh.
    2. Hunt for cable to connect camera to computer. Connect.
    3. Then download the photo to the computer. (Smartphones, zindabad! There was a time when I was on Twitter but didn’t have a smartphone and very vaguely recall tweeting a photo this way.)
  5. Only once is the post is composed, edited etc, connect to the Internet. Who could think of wasting bandwidth in those days?After about 5 minutes of trying and finally successfully connecting to the internet, open WordPress or Blogger, which would of course open slooooowly, because that was the era of snail-paced internet. And then Copy and Paste the blog post.
  6. If you were really keen on uploading a photo, then you’d do it now. And wait and wait for the progress bar to indicate that it’s done.
  7. And then, click on Publish and wait, heart in mouth, for it to get published, hoping that no one calls your landline or the connection doesn’t break for some reason.

Et voilà, you’re done!

Sigh, I feel so old. And this darned era of instant gratification makes me both grateful and feel extremely spoilt. One day, I’m gonna show this post to A and see what she would have to say.

But I have one thing to say now.

There’s NO WAY I would’ve attempted the April A-Z blogging challenge in the good old days.