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Wednesday, July 29, 2015

Don't worry about teaching the Gita; Krishna will do it in spite of you

There are many, many paths to God. 

All paths have their advantages and disadvantages, difficult moments to navigate and pitfalls to avoid. It's your attitude and openness on that path which makes all the difference to your spiritual growth.

Ram Dass, an American spiritual teacher, had doubts  whether he would be able to do justice to the great task he had undertaken - of sharing his reflections on The Bhagawad Gita - for students at a spiritual camp.  

When Ram Dass shared his concern with Swami Muktananda, this was the reply He received: The Gita isn't a book about Krishna. The Gita is Krishna. You don't have to worry about teaching the Gita - that's none of your business. The Gita will teach itself. Krishna will do it in spite of you."



This message is not just for Ram Dass but for all of us. Have unflinching faith about your path and develop a heart full of openness and love - that's enough. 

Everything else will fall into place, perfectly, at the right time.

Friday, July 24, 2015

Four delicious posts that can lift your spirits

What's your fun way of enjoying the beautiful monsoons? I love to curl up with piping hot tea, some samosas that have green peas-potato filling that tastes yummy! To match the monsoon mood, I've put together four delicious, heart warming posts that I enjoyed and thought you may like it too! 

When I read about Wicksdom, I remembered my grandmother. She loved getting wicks ready every evening. Wicksdom is truly a beautiful initiative to spread the light in the lives of the elderly women in Kerala and beyond.  With most temples in Kerala requiring up to ten thousand lamps to be lit daily, Wicksdom will address that need. READ more about it here. 


And in case you want some thing to give you a boost, simply curl up and read through Vishnu's heart-warming list of quotes that will lift your spirit up instantly! 



                                                                         [Image: Snapwire]

Travel is something close to my heart. There are many places that I want to visit. Whatever I have read about Grannies Homestay made me long to head to Varanasi. Their rates are reasonable, their facilities are cozy and I yearn to taste their much talked about home food. READ more information here.

Coming back to food, caramel pudding is one of those delectable things I find irresistible! And I can tell you, with absolute confidence, that no one makes it as yummy as the Parsis do. So, here's a post to get you really hungry!  


Now it's your turn! What are the delicious, heartwarming things you've read or done this monsoon season? Do drop a line - I'd LOVE to hear from you!

Thursday, July 16, 2015

How to overcome anger before it conquers you

There is anger everywhere - in relationships, in newspapers, in TV serials and channels, in business and so on. It is taking over our lives rapidly and growing faster and more dangerously than inflation!

So, why are we turning  into such an angry, intolerant society?

In Pandit Rajmani Tigunait's autobiography My Spiritual Quest and Life with Swami Rama (a candid account of a village boy's spiritual struggles in today's world), he shares an experience related to anger. You can read more Pandit Rajmani Tigunait here.

While studying in a Sanskrit school, there was a temple of the Goddess nearby and  he lived in one of its small chambers. He was very hungry and the domestic help at the temple purposely left rice uncooked over wet wood. A couple of other factors also contributed to worsen the situation.  In a fit of anger and hunger, he threw the rice at the face of the Goddess in the temple!



Ashamed and afraid about the consequences of what he had done, he tells everything to his Guru. His Guru said, "If you don't learn to control yourself, you will have to clean up the messes you make.

And then his Guru gave him priceless advice:
1. Find the cause of this inner unrest that created this emotional turmoil.
2. When you reflect on the subtle forces that caused you to lose your temper, you will find that unfulfilled desires are the cause of your anger.
3. The cause of anger was already there in you. The servant's behavior simply served as a spark. 
This experience conveys one important truth: Unfulfilled desires are the cause of anger. Find the cause if you want to control and master your anger.

Once you find the cause, you can  Take Charge of Your Anger!

Tell me how you deal with anger and angry people - what approach do you choose?

Wednesday, July 8, 2015

Why not write as you think?

If you love writing as a craft, David Morrell's book Lessons from a Lifetime of Writing: A Novelist Looks At His Craft is bound to excite you! The book packs in many useful, practical writing tips. 

For instance, he says, "Instead of waiting to write until you've thought through an idea, why not write as you think? The format is a conversation with yourself..." [READ: What makes your writing shine? and Home is Where the Heart is]

I've often had this inner argument with myself while writing. 

Hmmm, that's a thought, isn't it? Here is a blog post in which I wrote just like I normally speak: How I Made My First Kerala Fish Molee.


And this forms the crux of that inner argument: the time-taking birth of beautiful sentences.

                                     Source: http://tumblr.austinkleon.com/post/115664474886


How do you like to write - freely, naturally or painstakingly?

Saturday, July 4, 2015

Lavender Malayalam Movie Review: Not a movie one can 'rave' about but Rahman makes it worth a watch!

I walked into a near-empty movie hall when I stepped in to watch the Malayalam movie 'Lavender' written by Anoop Menon and directed by Altas T. Ali.

 So, why did I bother to go? One reason: Rahman's early films such as Koodevidey, Kanamarayathu, Poomukhapadiyil Nineym Kathu, Chilambu, Thammil Thammil, Kariyilakaatupoley remain my all-time favorites. Those were and are golden hits in Malayalam cinema and Rahman's acting was not just charismatic but effortless and natural


                                                        [Image credit: Google Images]
Lavender Malayalam Movie Review: The Story

Lavender is presented as a visual of a director's proposed movie script while pitching the story to the leading lady. He goes into the details of the movie so that she accepts the role. While narrating the role, the movie itself is visualized and shown to us. 

The proposed movie's story line is depicted like this:

Ayaan (starring Rahman) is a Bangkok based gangster who lives in hiding because he is listed in Interpol’s most wanted criminals. There is an Interpol team that is after him, led by Raghavan Moorthy (starring Anoop Menon) and Siddharth (starring Nishan). 

At this time, Ayaan falls in love with a portrait artist called Isha (starring Elham Mirza) and he sends her lavender flowers every day to show his love. She doesn't know who it is but feels overwhelmed by the gesture. Later, she mistakes the anonymous 'Lavender sender' for Siddharth and falls in love with him. 

What makes the gangster Ayaan lovable is the way he goes out to show the humane side of himself - despite the work that he does and the choices that he makes as a contract killer - he loves this girl truly and madly. You can see it in his eyes, his silence and in his actions. 

                                                          [Image credit: Google Images]
The brooding lover isn't something I would have associated with the lively, vibrant persona of actor Rahman (remember his popular golden flicks, Love Story, Thammil Thammil, Chilambu, among others).

Elham Mirza, the Iranian beauty, is gorgeous. She is convincing as the character Isha and I wouldn't have guessed that she is Iranian because her lip sync movements were perfect and she didn't seem like a foreigner in any way while portraying Isha.

Lavender Malayalam Movie Review: What Worked and Didn't Work

The gangster part feels forced and clich├ęd. Rahman doesn't look deadly, nor do any of the others associated with the Black Tulip gang. Also, Rahman doesn’t have much action as a "killer."  Anoop Menon is not one bit convincing as an Interpol officer. Nishan is a good, upcoming and talented actor who got a very poorly fleshed out character. He has expressions that are perfect for a romantic hero. He can impress and would if he got the right roles.

The characterization of the protagonists were not well-structured, the dialogues were cheesy and meaningless and there is a lack of depth in the way the story finally fleshes out. Many things in the movie don't work in tandem with the rest of the movie - for example, the humor bits by Kalpana and Aju Varghese stand out like a sore thumb

The songs were beautifully shot, I have to say this - excellent cinematography that captures the best of Bangkok - you can experience the mood and culture of the place through the songs and the shots.

On the whole, Lavender is not a movie one can 'rave' about as a love story or as a gangster movie. Still, actor Rahman and the gorgeous Elham Mirza make it worth a watch!

[Other popular movie reviews you may want to check out: PremamBangalore Days, Vikramadityan, Anju Sundarikal, Oru Indian Pranaya Katha]

Wednesday, July 1, 2015

Premam Malayalam Movie Review: A Superb Entertaining Love Story in which Nivin Pauly conquers hearts and Sai Pallavi is a delight to watch

Alphonse Puthren's Malayalam movie "Premam" starring Nivin Pauly has been a most talked about film as Malayalis across the world have shown great love for "Premam."  

"Premam" is a movie that will take you back to the bittersweet memories of your first love, second love and maybe, third and final love!

                                            [Image credit: Google Images]

Premam Malayalam Movie Review: Butterflies are mentally mental, so is love

I had a big smile on my face when I read the words "Butterflies are mentally mental, so is love" on the screen. This was shown just before the credits started to show.

It marks the perfect beginning to a "nutcase" love story! I was all set to enjoy this delicious tale of teenage crush, love & mature love - the phases that each of us have gone through in this journey of life at some time or the other.

Premam Malayalam Movie Review: Story

Premam's story revolves around the butterfly-like, romantic journey of  George David (Nivin Pauly) from his teens till that fine day when he ties the knot!

You will enjoy seeing the creative and colorful title cards that were showcased thorough the film. The butterflies, just as lovers, savour the nectarine sweetness of "Premam" and then flits away due to changing environments

The memories it leaves behind are fragrant and beautiful, somewhat bittersweet too. Time doesn't stand still and the butterfly has to move on to the next experience.

Premam Malayalam Movie Review:  Three new heroines

Three new heroines make the film "Premam" a refreshing cinematic experience. There is Mary (starring Anupama Parameshwaran), the heart throb of all the teenage boys in the village. By the way, I love her hair for a very selfish reason! Simply this: I had hair just like that during my teens. The only difference is that it looked like it needed some treatment! PLUS, no queue of young fellas followed me anywhere....sigh!

In this teenage love episode, the local casanovas of different ages wait for her by the tea shop. They walk with her on the narrow bridge, hoping desperately for a glance or a smile from her. Her expressions, her beautiful curly hair and the mischievous smile are lovely to watch. 

Then there is Malar (starring Sai Pallavi) who is his teacher but finds herself unable to resist falling in love with her student. There is a terrific sizzling chemistry between the two actors. Remember the scene where Nivin shows a gesture in class, indicating that she looks lovely in a dress....the glances they exchange without words are simply divine! 


                                               [Image credit: Google Images]
Sai Pallavi as 'Malar' is a delight to watch. Her reactions to his SMSes and expressions are priceless! Her dancing was full of grace and a visual feast. Oh how I loved the 'Malare' song in this film!!!

When Malar exits from his life, Nivin Pauly as George overwhelms us with a hard-hitting, realistic performance of a boy-turned-man who loses his heart and soul to the woman he loves. Personally, I felt that Malar's exit felt forced and artificial in the script - it doesn't feel authentic.

Losing his love changes him forever in a way that heartbreaks do in human life.  

Then Celin comes into his life to "order a cake" on which he puts a question mark! In their first scene of meeting, I liked the dash of humour where his assistant keeps calling out "Velam, velam" reminding us of that funny, unforgettable scene in Manichitrathaazhu.

Slowly, over time, Celine's infectious smile and child like laughter becomes the unexpected change in George's life, especially when she reveals her identity.  

A scene where she asks him to help her choose an outfit in a store is also symbolic of the fact that it is an act of trust and somewhat a kind of liking when a girl invites you to select an outfit with her, even if it is for some one else.

There is another scene where he bakes a delicious looking red velvet cake that he offers her, watches her taste it and then  what happens next. I liked the touch of realism with which the scene has been played out.

It is then you feel that Nivin Pauly is a remarkable actor who can move you beyond words by just playing the character he represents. 


So, dear Nivin Pauly, take a bow! You, Nivin Pauly, deserve all the "Premam" that is coming your way from Malayalis.

Tuesday, June 23, 2015

How to be the best at anything

We are all crazy busy these days. 

But guess what? It's not good for creativity or for the brain. [READ: How to Work, Love and Play like the Danes]

This is what scientists say:

1. Your brain can stay focused on anything, even an unpleasant task, if it knows it will last only 30 minutes. [TIP: Learn to stretch it to 90 mins?]

2. A positive mood heightens the chances for creative insight, as does taking out time to relax. [Do read: Five Easy Ways to Boost Your Confidence Every Day]

3. Scientists have found that people who take time to daydream score higher on tests of creativity. [These posts will be useful too: How to find peace within and How these Game Changers CHOSE to overcome their pain]


                                              [Image: Picjumbo]

Great Performers Work More Intensely, Take More Breaks

Florida State University psychologist Anders Ericcson's research studied young violinists at the prestigious Academy of Music in Berlin to study what it takes to be the best. These are his path-breaking findings:

1. It takes 10,000 hours of deliberate practice at anything to become an expert.

2. The best violinists not only played more but they practiced more deliberately.

3.  They practiced when they were freshest and typically in no more than 90 minute increments for no more than 4 hours a day.

4.  The top violinists rested more.

So, what does it take to be the best?  It is not just about practice. 

It's about deliberate practice at 90 minute increments through the day and taking enough rest.

For me, personally, balancing my priorities within a limited time frame every day is a continual work in progress. I am learning to gradually improve every day.

What helps you to excel at what you do? Is it practice or something more?

[Research Inputs have been quoted from Brigid Schulte's book Work, Love and Play When No one has the Time.]

Thursday, June 18, 2015

Conversations with Colleagues: What's the best spiritual lesson you have learned from dealing with your anguish?

In my previous blog post, I shared a conversation that I had with a colleague who asked me a thought-provoking question: "Have you ever experienced anguish? How have you dealt with it?" And in case you missed reading it earlier, this was my response to it. Do read it here.


The second question she asked me was, "What's the best spiritual lesson you have learned from dealing with your anguish?" [Do read my post on Karma]

That got me in a bit of a fix. 

In my mind, I could picture all the terrific ups and terrible downs that I have been through - and I asked myself very intensely what I had learned from the toughest test that was put to me.
  
The answer doesn't feel very pretty to share....I can tell you that much.




This was my answer: The best lesson I have learned is this -  I am full of ego - attachment to the body consciousness. This needs a powerful spiritual hammer to destroy it completely. I always thought myself to be  a good, spiritual person. The more I meditate, the more I am able to step back inside myself and be a witness to my thoughts, words and actions. What I see is that my ego needs to be worked on and I have so much to improve upon within myself on a daily basis."

These are my "spiritual" conversations that I am sharing with you. It may not help you because you are likely to be far more spiritually evolved. But it would be great to know your thoughts and experiences too. 

So, I'd love to know your thoughts on this question: "What's the best spiritual lesson you have learned from dealing with your anguish?"

Wednesday, June 17, 2015

Conversations with Colleagues: This Moment is Love

This morning, a colleague asked me an interesting question, "You always come across as a very composed person. In all this time, I have never seen you become angry or disturbed about anything. I have to ask you a personal question. Have you ever experienced anguish? How have you dealt with it?"





This is what I told her, "Our life is a series of experiences that can teach us a lot about ourselves and how we behave in an environment of constant uncertainties, often these are negative and not always in our control. I do my best to take every experience as a lesson to improve myself as a person and strengthen my faith in my God and Guru - Bhagawan Sri Sathya Sai Baba. 

To answer your question, yes - I have my experienced deep anguish, not jus once or twice, but throughout the different phases of my life. What I have observed is that the more I evolve spiritually, the tougher and more painful the tests become. That stops me from completely losing my sense over the problems that come my way. 

When you realize that you are  not the Doer, you give your best effort to do what you know is logical and right. But you also give up very willingly the right to control the outcome - to believe you have control over the outcome is to belittle your own sense of loving awareness of God." [Do read: Being Strong is the new Beautiful]

Then my colleague asked me another personal question but I will share it in another post.

All I want to say is this: When we see every experience from a state of love, we bring loving awareness to it. We see a bigger, better and happier perspective. We become divine and true to what we were always meant to be.

When things get so tough that you can't bear the anguish tumbling out of you, remind yourself gently, "This too shall pass. This moment and experience is Love."

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