Green Ganesha is Back!

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“Save your litter for the garbage bin dude…”

“Wasting food should be a criminal offence, really!”

“Turn off the tap Sharda bai…

My family, friends and oftentimes, even strangers have been subject to such requests and orders from me for almost forever now. Though family and a few friends have learnt to put up with my requests (rather exasperatedly) over the years, and have even painfully changed their behaviour to align with the ‘green me’, a few strangers have reacted in ways that make for interesting stories to narrate to my grand kids and their kids! (Once, when I asked a lady in the train to not throw her plastic food-wrapper out of the train after finishing her snack, she gobbled her snack and threw the plastic wrapper outside with such alarming speed, I didn’t even have time to so much as blink!)

The other day, while reading about the alarming statistics of non-recyclable waste dumped in water bodies, I was reminded of the ‘Green Ganesha’ campaign that few of us just-out-of-college passionate-to-make-a-difference kids had initiated a few years back. (Click here to read about our very passionate campaign, and here to see the Gyaan Connect video.) Not surprisingly, the message we passed almost five years back seemed very relevant to me even today.

So, with the Ganesha festival right around the corner, I would like to share a few posters we made. You will find a few of these posters on the link I pasted above, while I have pasted one below. I share this with a humble request that you enjoy time with your favourite God with a little more compassion this time 🙂

 green ganesha

 And remember what Margaret Mead once said. “Never doubt that a small group of thoughtful committed citizens can change the world; indeed, it is the only thing that ever has.”

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The Importance of Being Lazy

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Last week I did something that shocked my family and a few really close friends.

I took a week off – from both, professional and household work. Just.Like.That. I decided to take a break. With just one agenda – Do absolutely nothing! Not to travel. Not to learn something new. Not to finish errands. But, to do NOTHING.

They were surprised (‘shocked’, really now, was an overstatement 🙂 ) because I am the kind of person who does not believe in breaks. I am someone who feels obliged to do SOMETHING every moment of life. I think it comes from my paranoia that every moment I do not do something, is a moment wasted. I call it paranoia, coz it really is an unhealthy obsession at times.

So, how did I, the great time-paranoid, think of such an awesome idea?

Am not sure, really. Maybe the mounting life-stress got to me. Or maybe I just realized the importance of slowing down a little. Or maybe the self-help positive messages that the social media bombards at us these days made me stop and think.

However, whatever may have triggered it, the more important question here is did I succeed in this task (Oh god, I think of doing nothing as a task too. I need help!) At the end of the week, I Googled ‘The importance of being lazy’ just to get an idea of what people do, to do nothing. And I found that I was indeed, quite unsuccessful in this very-difficult task. No, I hadn’t just strolled or wandered around the garden or the streets of my city. I hadn’t sat by the window staring into nothingness or the ever-pouring rain. I hadn’t laid on the bed, doing nothing in particular. No, I hadn’t done any of these blissful nothings.

But, the best part is, I didn’t do anything of significance either. So, when one of my friends asked “how was my break week, what did i do?” and I instantly replied “nothing really”, it was one of the life-altering moments for me. I had succeeded, even though just a little bit, in ‘wasting’ my week, by not fretting over things to do.

And I am proud. And I look forward to more of these far and between breaks. They will slowly teach me the importance  of being lazy. Cheers to the lazy in me 🙂

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Here’s some food for thought, on this amazing concept of laziness.

“O Laziness, mother of the arts and noble virtues, be thou the balm of human anguish.” ~ Paul Lafargue, The Right to be Lazy

This post is dedicated to Simplicity

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It is said that beauty lies in simplicity. It is also said that beauty lies in the eyes of the beholder. And that beauty is only skin deep…and a lot more…But, the point here is not beauty, the point here is simplicity!

In our every day rumble of proving ourselves – to the world, to family and friends, to self – we often miss out on simplicity.

For me, it is the simplicity of thoughts. Often, I spend a lot of time on thinking how I can make my writing more interesting, or how I can make my brand more interesting. Today was one such day. And, while I was over-thinking about it, I stumbled upon this rather thought-provoking, yet very simple trailer of Kaun Banega Crorepati (a very successful Indian version of Who Wants to be a Millionaire).

For the benefit of those who don’t understand Hindi, the trailer shows a lady from the north-east region of India on the hot seat. (North-east Indians look quite different from the rest of the Indians, physically, and are very rarely considered as ‘Indians’ by some). The host asks which country was Kohima (a north-east Indian region) located in, to which she asks for an audience poll. On getting a 100% response that the region is in India, the host says that everyone knew this (implying that, being from that region, how is it that she didn’t?). To which she very replies, rather simply “Everyone knows Kohima is a part of India. But how many consider it as that?”

Wow! Deserves a million for the answer, I would say!

When Gujaratis get creative!

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I always knew it. And since I knew it, my surprise at experiencing it, was a little surprising!

I always knew that Gujaratis believed food to be the ultimate goal of life. The community was sorted like that. No complicated in-search-of-the-soul, attaining-nirvana-moments, for them. Food did it, so why go further? Just experiment with your food, make a new delicacy every day, and you are sorted for life!

I am a Gujarati. As a kid, I used to travel to my hometown in Gujarat every summer holidays, relishing the food and slumber that was so characteristic of summer holidays for Mumbai kids, while an everyday affair for the people of Gujarat. In fact, just last year, me and my cousins had taken an unplanned detour to our hometown, just to get a bite of the food we so relished in our childhood.

But this trip was different. Totally. I was bowled over by the level of creativity with food…

Here’s a peek at a few innovative delicacies I managed to capture:

Saffronic alochol!

Kesar (saffron) 5000! High-five!

 

Bhaji cone

Hot ice cream, any one? Hot veggies on an ice-cream cone 🙂

 

Are you nuts?

Soda and peanuts!

 

Spoilt for choice

Jeera, garlic, mint, hajma, lemon, date, regular… Spoilt for choice!

 

Desi burger!

Cut to perfection, am I?

 

No wonder Amitabh Bacchhan endorses Gujarat! Wonder what he got as payment for his endorsement…

For me, send me a month’s supply of the above, please 🙂

Tidbits from my favourite inspirer

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It was rather late in life that I stumbled upon his wonderful thoughts.

But since the time I read Paulo Coelho’s first book, he has been my very favourite go-to person. To get inspired from. To lift my mood. To wonder. And wander. To feel alive.

And thanks to social media, I have been able to enjoy more and more of his thoughts.

The one thing in his words, that strikes a chord with me, always, is simplicity. Simple words. Simple ideas to live by.

Here are a few I have saved over a period. I call them the “Dream” series. Hope you enjoy reading them. Though they all essentially give out the same message, I take the 5th one as my life’s mantra. And the balloon image gives a very happy feeling too, no?

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One min reading on how dreams make life worth it.

http://paulocoelhoblog.com/2012/05/05/dreams-and-nightmares/

A little something to pin-up on your life board:

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What dreams are made of…

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Thoughts? Feelings? Achievements? Riches? Experiences?

What makes dreams?

For me, dreams are made of inspiration. They are made of the desire to possess something that makes others respect, admire and envy you so much, that they get inspired by you.

Like this amazingly talented young friend of mine. Check out her very first, live, sitar performance on one of the most revered stages of the city… in the midst of talent that has been at the art, practicing their skills, for years.

I am not much into classical music (you can officially slot me in the ‘music-deaf’ category). So, there is no way on earth I would have gone through the 10 minute ordeal. When she shared the link, I was planning to be the good friend that I am, and not watch it. I would compliment her the next time I met her, saying how her performance was ‘mesmerizing, to say the least…’

But I watched the entire video. It was that good!

I ended up respecting, admiring and envying her…and getting inspired. To get lost. In what makes you happy. In what will, in turn, make others happy too.

Anshika, you make it to my very personal “Real-life Heroes” list. I wish you courage. I wish you more and more dreams. Go girl!

PS: She is the tiny happiness in the center. 🙂 She has started learning the instrument only six months back. Now you know why its such a big deal!

PS 2!: I love the way all the performers are having a great time playing. See them winking and smiling at each other, sharing secrets we would never know?

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This post is first in the series of my very personal ‘Real-life Heroes’ list. Watch this space for more, well… ‘real-life inspiration’ 😉

A life less ‘ordinary’

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It never interested me. Like an irresponsible citizen of the country, I never bothered to think beyond my own life, surrounded by family, friends and happiness.

I even ignored the ‘ordinary’ man, who fasted, fought and yelled for my attention. Steadily, he was making heads turn, dialogues start and hopes rise. He was creeping into my personal space, assuring me that there is a way out of this madness. There is a way to make things better.

Again, I never gave it much thought. I had become so used to the way our country functions – where every little task seems like a project that requires strategic planning – that I wasn’t even thinking about how great it would be if things were a little easier to get done. How great it would be to live in a country that makes you feel like you mattered. Of course, I wished that things were better, but like I said, I never actively thought about it and did not really believe it to be possible.

It took a book, written by an author far away from the ways of my country, and the voice of a 16-year-old fictional character, for me to wake up. And to follow what the ordinary man was trying so earnestly to tell me.

Hunger Games, written by an author I had so far ignored, shook me up. My country is heavenly, as compared to where the book is set in. The state of the people in the book is appalling, to put it mildly. It makes you wonder whether we, as humans, have progressed so much that we have gone back in time. A time where ‘civilisation’ as a term had still not found a place in the dictionary.

It takes the burning earnestness of a very ordinary, very young girl, to trigger an uprising so massive, I wonder if it is possible outside the fiction world. And that’s when I am jolted. Back to reality. Back to where the words of the ordinary man still linger… “Main aam aadmi hu… ek aam aadmi kya chahta hai…” And I realise, that this man, who toppled over a decade strong government, could do so, not because the people had no other choice but him; he could do it because of that strong earnestness that is there in every suppressed ordinary man. Only, he didn’t let it get suppressed. He made it his strength. Just like that ordinary, earnest young girl in Hunger Games. The Aam Aadmi party brought the fictional world alive for me.

And so I awaken, once again, to the fact that resigning to fate is the easiest thing to do. But to do what you so eagerly feel for, and let fate take a backseat, is a simple act of courage. You only need to realise that you matter. And take things from there….

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 Arvind Kejriwal, the leader of the Aam Aadmi party was quoted saying “…who would have thought that a one year old party would win 28 seats…” Maybe, I would have imagined. But would never have believed. Now I do. In this, in his part, and in much more.