Enchanting Matheran

                  “After every holiday big or small, you leave a part 

                                           of you behind in that space,

                                 It changes a little something in you.”

We did a weekend trip to Matheran – the simplistic no vehicle, red mud town. History says the town was developed and maintained by the Parsi community. Even till date many prominent properties are held by Parsis. The in vogue Japanese concept of Wabi Sabi – Broken is beautiful manifests itself in its ultimate form throughout Matheran. The town boasts of structures that are worn out but engaged happily in serving tourists and locals. There is a feeling of acceptance wherein people are on peaceful terms with the way things are – less developed.

Wooden framed windows, cottages and bungalows, healthy plain food, lesser busy people, lush green trees, not so concrete roads, roadside vendors expecting nothing more than the minimum, empty noon streets, poor mobile network, monkeys functioning almost like humans, horses and hand carts everywhere. That’s about it – Matheran’s description is complete. But what is vast is the silence that reaches beyond your senses to your soul. A city soul would wonder whether life can be so simple.

We stayed at Hotel Regal – given the deadly combination of lower tariffs and our high inclination towards spending we booked suite rooms to justify our standards. Little did we know that even the suite there is basic but what is advanced is the staff’s willingness to go the extra mile to serve the guests. A plain show of humility in service and self -respect for their position, their work. Many a times we experience the staff judging the visitors in premium luxury properties. There is an unsaid code to dress and behave in a particular way. But Matheran welcomes the king and the pauper alike.

The sunrise is one of the most attractive offering of the town. The way the sun gradually rises and fills the area with its light and splendor is a sight to see. In one of my Instagram posts I had put a small couplet

                      “The beauty of sunrise cannot be undermined

                        It gives each one a chance to rise and shine”

The spectacular sunrises visible from multiple points in Matheran are a physical tribute to my ode.  Charlotte Lake situated at a walking distance (2kms) from our hotel was enchanting. Surrounded by swaying trees on both the sides, the soothing breeze invites every onlooker to sit on the benches there and spend some time gazing at the calm waters. We could feel the bliss also due to the time that we chose to visit the lake – early Sunday morning. We covered all the points riding on horses that only added to the simplicity of the holiday. The market there is a small 1km stretch with pavement vendors and shops. The place is known for its handbags and footwear. We did some small time value for money shopping and I am looking forward to putting those things to use.

All the properties there boast of delicious Gujarati food probably because of the dominance of Gujarati tourists. Jaggery was a part of almost every recipe and the starters were selected such that it gives a multi cuisine look to the buffet with items like spring rolls and Manchurian. Unlimited buttermilk only added to the slumber that I entered after every lunch.

Sleep was so quiet and aimless. Why aimless? Because here in Mumbai people sleep only to get up. It’s sanctity as body’s way to replenish and rejuvenate is not recognized at all. In fact so much was the delight that I bought home the idea of calming my inner chaos completely before going to bed so that I experience a similar sleep regime. I have been fairly successful in doing the same (as I said in the beginning – some things change)

The nearest spot beyond which cars cannot proceed is Dasturi (also connoted as Aman lodge). After that it’s a 30-40 minute horse ride to Matheran, many people also easily walk it up. You can also take the toy train provided it’s functional and empty (as numbered limited seats are allotted). A peace loving town with cozy properties reminding every tourist of the old world charm where things were mended not thrown or replaced.  

What defines you?

Your identity

Your identity defines you in the eyes of self and others. What do you think forms your identity? The bigger things like your status, qualification and professional success, right? But there are many smaller things that too contribute to forming your image, your identity. Their impact is less but not innocuous. Things as simple as

Your clothes

Second skin as it is rightly called. The fabric, the fall, the patterns, the brands are collectively suggestive of your lifestyle and even your approach to your commitments. Love for comfortable simple clothes or heavily designed clothes, traditional wear or western wear, formal or informal ….the list goes on (thanks to the booming apparel sector that has something to offer for every pocket and preference) Yes people don multiple styles but there is one common thread that runs through all their choices and that is the element of their identity.

Your food

The 3 common types of food discussed in Hindu Vedas are – Sattvik (Mild, raw, freshly cooked, healthy, green and vegetarian), Rajasik (Cooked, spiced, oily, flavored) and Tamasik (Processed, stale, stored, rotten). I have described the three types in the simplest way possible. Again your food habits shuffle between the three categories but there is one which is predominant, find the one and know how it is a part of your identity.

Your content

The books and magazines you read, the articles in the newspaper that catch your span better than other stories. In the digital era that we are living in, the web series that you choose to watch. Trending or self-found, historical or modern, fun oriented or intricate…. It is impossible to list the categories in this case. Try and find what category hooks you up better and it will help you know your identity a little better.

Your physique and posture

Most of the days you are alert or dull, uptight or slouching, whether you walk with a zing in your feet or just trudge along. How happily healthy your skin and structure appear? Your physique and posture are one of the key factors that determine your identity – totally evident, making an immediate and strong impact. Others notice it first and the acknowledgement keeps you going or pulls you down also. Yes, inside everybody lies a beautiful soul but what catches your sight is first the external followed by internal (That is how nature works)

Your energy

The way you approach your routine. The bestseller ‘Ikigai’ mentions an interesting concept of micro and macro flow. Micro flow consists of mundane day to day chores – but the way one handles them puts one in place for the macro flow activities like pursuing their passion, being innovative and genuine. You are a sum total of your energy. Whether the task is complete or incomplete is not a sufficient barometer, what matters is you accomplished it with what energy? – Positive or negative, enthusiastic or forceful. Yes, it is abstract, but it creates your aura and hence your identity.

You want to build a desirable identity – think about all the above elements holistically and you will be able to identify yourself better. No choice or person is good or bad – it is just that more the elements are in sync better will be the quality of your life. A conflict is an indication of you digressing from your true self which is not ideal. 

A casual evening


She sat by the window to spend time introspecting and writing

The air was cold; the trees were still, the weather simply amazing

She spotted two birds playing and swaying, one soaring the sky

In the neighboring window an elderly man sipping on hot chai

On the small road below a few teenagers chattered their way along

Two women engrossed in talking may be deciding right or wrong

Clouds were swiftly on the move, the skies dull white and celestial

A young woman, with a bag was headed to buy some essentials

Few kids were down, running and challenging, riding their bicycles

Yellow and white butterflies in the garden flew in motions cyclical

She sat there waiting for her bright introspective idea to arrive

And smiled as the authenticity of daily life bought her poem alive

Diwali…

Diwali is a special time of the year. It’s a time of families and friends coming together. Economically it is a period when the money flow is high as consumers buy household items and personal products. The logic is everything that needs to be replaced should be done on Diwali. If the house is due for paint, it is scheduled in a way that it is done before Diwali arrives so that the house is at its best. Dry snacks and traditional sweets recipes are not revised an entire year until its Diwali time. 

An important part of a good Diwali for an Indian homemaker is the extent to which she and family have managed to deep clean the house. I too relate to the cleaning process as it helps in putting items kept away into use and also those which are no longer suiting our requirements are either disposed or donated. Diwali is thus symbolic of Declutter. 

As the house, garage, office readies itself to welcome Goddess Lakshmi on the eve of Diwali; there is a positive aura around. People are in a phase of new start, better start – the reason behind Mahurat trading in business. The origin of this festival lies in the homecoming of Lord Rama where the entire Ayodhya was lit to celebrate the win of good over evil. Thus, this festival also carries a goodness vibe, a restoration of faith in all that is morally correct amidst the unnecessary worldly chaos.

            Wish we could extend the decluttering to our minds

    Wish we could take hopefulness deep down inside our souls

   Wish we could add the sweetness to our words and  gestures

     Wish we could for once believe in ourselves and change our                                                obsolete thoughts and limiting ways

The weather is cold and the heat all absorbed, mornings are brighter and nights are calmer. The external atmosphere also facilitates the process of renewing relations first with self and then with others.

Happy Diwali to all my readers!!!

Minimalism for beginners

We live in a world of never ending expectations, a long wish list of experiences and infinite possibilities. Even a mention of minimalism reduces chaos. Minimalism is a culture of less is more. It may sound like an idea for the sages but in reality it is very easy to adapt to. Following are five simple ways to start with:

Keep your space decluttered

Declutter allows one to differentiate between things which are useful and those which are not. Also it helps to find the right thing at the right time thereby reducing the need to stock extra.

Plan your buy

Whenever you go shopping, pre decide as to what pattern, what brand, what style you want to add to your possessions. A random shopping spree leads to excess buying, probably more than what you can meaningfully consume.

Stay updated

This is a farfetched point but very significant. You should stay updated about the latest trends so that courtesy your minimalistic approach you don’t end up presenting yourself or your space or your work shoddily. The appearance should be smart and on par.

A way of life

You can’t be minimalistic in one sphere and an aggressive consumer in another. It has to be a binding approach across your life span. Only then will it transform from a conscious habit to becoming a way of life.

Wabi Sabi

Try to mend broken things and put them to use, discourage your immediate intent to dispose. That way you can also teach the posterity to accept minimalism, from a young age they will observe and learn.

These are ways which you can put to effect right from the next moment.  While minimalism looks sacrificial, austere these can help in a humble start.

The daily dose of news..

What does a newspaper carry these days
A lot on politicians and their maligning ways
A little more on the same as experts say

Something on progress and its effects
A little on why and whom the PM has met

Probing a high profile death- suicide or crime
Cornering all except the suspects prime

Reports on Minority clashes of varying degrees
Making one wonder is the world really free??

Exciting is the sports section that they run
But fixing and doping make the win an illusion

Lifestyle and travel pages are glamorously affluent
For a common man nothing much is meant

The smallest section is for positive teachers
Rape and murder is a mandatory feature

Vague insignificant news follows next in line
Transparent washrooms and capsule dines

Reading a paper is an endless search in the woods
For something hopeful, encouraging and good

Be the sunshine

Hi! How are you? How is life? What’s new? Are you doing well? Common interaction when people meet. You keep connecting all the time with family, friends, neighbors, staff, domestic help, colleagues… and all those whom you meet during a day. Certainly you can’t be oblivious to how the people around you are feeling.

Through this article I wish to mention some ways by which you can create sunshine for those surrounding you – in their moments of dullness, anxiety, worthlessness or insecurity. A direct conversation does not work every time and even though you are not a reason for their sadness, for humanity sake; if you notice the unhappiness you can resort to any of these humble methods:

Do a part of their job

Seek smaller jobs that you can do for them like may be preparing a cup of tea for your mother, organizing the bill file for your father, helping  a colleague in some research, teaching the younger sibling, folding the clothes though it is the maid’s job…. I understand all are busy but these are tiny things which do not require much of time just some thoughtfulness.

Acknowledge the goodness

Each person has some special skill or attitudinal trait which is worthy of appreciation. Acknowledging what is good not only turns dullness into happiness but also allows you to develop gratitude. Gratitude – the supreme force of the Universe.

Go their way

You like doing things your way but sometimes it’s not a bad idea to do it their way. They like it when you groove to their music or walk their path. You prefer home cooked meals but once in a while a cheat treat with your daughter at her favorite joint can definitely cheer her up.

Converse about their interest

Communication is two sided. But sometimes let it be one sided where you only listen. Spirituality for example is not everyone’s cup of tea but if your mother in law or senior believes in it, you can actually probe them and ask them to share or narrate. It infuses enthusiasm in their otherwise somber minds.

Each of these acts can be the turning point in the concerned person’s day. And from that moment they revive and leave the sorrow behind. In fact most of the times there is no real sorrow – it is just a frame of mind that is too caught up in the day to day hustle – creating a sense of displeasure with self. That’s why the title – Be the sunshine because it easily spreads, to the contrary you need effort to curtail it….once its day, its day!!!

Heist Love

Money Heist on Netflix topped the charts for a long span. Lockdown gave us a chance to watch this exhaustively detailed series. The highs and lows, the straightly defined characters and an extraordinary show of intelligent heist leaves you baffled multiple times. Season 4 – Last episode got over and there was a void – I would have loved to see more of him – the mastermind – Sergio…. The wait till the next season looked a long one.

What part of us really connects to the negative, to the wrong doers? After all no matter how much the glorification, it was ultimately a clever crime – well planned, well executed. This question stayed in my sub conscious until I bumped into a random logic that perfectly defined my emotional assistance to Sergio. I found it in Shantaram, a bestseller by Gregory David Roberts (my current read). In this book an honorable mafia don Khader Bhai states that any crime has two elements – the sin element which is defined by the way it ruins the souls of the victims and also by way of who are the victims. The other element is the crime part that is defined by how, where and when it is committed. I know it is complex but an easier way to explain is in crimes like prostitution and child trafficking the sin element is way to high which fills your heart with extreme hatred towards the convicts.

On the other hand robbery, currency black marketing has a stronger crime element that largely leaves one concerned and fearsome about where the society is heading. In Money Heist, Sergio and team take charge of a mint where they mint their own money. He repeatedly says, “I am not stealing anyone’s money, I am putting more money into the system.” No oppression, no intentional violence, no mala fides which bought the sin element to a minimal low.

 That is where I as a commoner connected with the heist, which is the reason, I felt the way I felt for all the characters. The wonders of finding a direct link between two masterpieces, one in prose and the other on screen once again justifies the idea – the world is full of ideas that come to you in various forms, it’s up to you how much you absorb, how much you relate.

All simply settles…

 Everything in nature is meant to settle

Be it the seasons or the moon and the sun

All that begins finds its own end

Be it insects, birds, animals or mortal beings like us

Every issue in mind or with others in our life

Dies down as days turn into months and years

Though a lot seems to be going on in and around

A definite closure awaits all, lying somewhere at some point

Yes there is no time frame till we are there and that’s
the beauty

After all that is the way The Universe works

Every element even as insignificant as dust HAS TO SETTLE…….

Lock down revelation-The social frame

Lockdown has urged us all to step inside not only our homes but also our minds, our souls. I wonder that after things go back to normal do we want to go back to ALL that we have left behind. With me, multiple activities have been revisited and rendered futile during this period. I may not want to go back to that mythical busyness, where everyone simply tries to fit in a frame – ‘A Social Frame’

The social frame is strange. We look up to others and decide our course of action. We fear not going to a weekend party, no sending our child for extra- curricular, not having a perfect figure, not vacationing abroad…. Why? I think largely to fit in that frame. We squeeze ourselves, we struggle straining ourselves and without realizing. In our quest to multitask we burn out and burn the resources around.

Covid has directly hit and shattered that very social frame into pieces. You pick any of the pieces – you will see your own reflection…