Saturday, February 10, 2018

At your service

I watched my best friend with her child yesterday. I watched as the little one cried, complained, laughed and ran around in circles. I watched thinking to myself, gosh how lucky am I that I don't have children and have to deal with this.  In my head, Being a mum seemed like a 24 x 7 thankless job, where all you did was serve your child endlessly, with no time for yourself or anything else.  It seemed like being a glorified butler - sans the uniform.

I have mothers who come to my yoga class and there too, all I hear is them talking about what their kids need, or will need. I often wondered why, why would an accomplished woman give everything up to become a mum? It logically made no sense!

As I sat contemplating this over my evening cup of Coffee, I remembered reading somewhere that the true expression of love is service of the beloved. I remembered watching people like Mother Teresa be glorified for her service to humanity, Narendra Modi to his nation and Mary Kom to her sport. I am sure to they too, at many many many points in their life would have felt like it was a thankless job - but in their ability to shut the individual ego up in the service of something higher - they inspired the rest of us to be better versions of ourselves.

unbeknownst to us, our mothers are just the same. They sacrifice their individual selves at the alter or love - us. They serve tirelessly never once complaining. When I think back to my own parents, I often ask - did I deserve the amount of love and support I got from them ? The answer is no? I was strong willed, followed my heart and did whatever I want? I was selfish and argumentative as a young adult. But did that ever stop my mom from loving me and guiding me towards being a better version of myself - the answer is no.

She embodied the very spiritual value that I was seeking to develop - the dissolution of the individual ego. I just never saw it. It was the same with my best friend.

So here is to serving, even when it is hard. Here is to serving the roses that will come with thorns and the thorns that will come with roses.

Thursday, September 15, 2016

The power of Vulnerability

A week back I cut my hair, really short and as always I was angered, irritated, amazed and sometimes even traumatised by the reactions I received.

The plethora of reactions ranged from people comparing me to an anglo indian (in a not so flattering way), to saying "who will marry your face now" to "how did your parents let you do this to yourself"  to "you look beautiful".

Whilst I kept my mouth shut to every reaction that I received, I couldn't help but reflect....

- When did we become such a shallow society that measures a persons beauty by the length of their hair vs the depth of their soul? 

- Why do we promote self expression and yet belittle anyone that steps outside the lines of "comfort"? 

- Why are our tongues so sharp and our hearts so cold? 

And as I reflected on all of this I chanced upon this little gem

I teared up and when I realised that at the end most people admired the girl's courage to put herself out there, regardless of the consequence - in this situation shaving her hair off.  It reminded me to this incredible quote by Brene Brown "Authenticity is a collection of choices that we have to make every day. It's about the choice to show up and be real. The choice to be honest. The choice to let our true selves be seen.”

Now, I am not glorifying my tiny act of cutting hair to something that required a lot of courage, but I ask that the next time we see someone that is doing something outside the norm - i.e. pursuing a career in football vs a secure 9 to 5 job,  spending their money on travel vs assets, choosing spirituality over the nightclub - don't be quick to judge :)

Pause and admire the courage the person had to pursue what they wanted regardless of society telling them otherwise

Thursday, September 17, 2015

The story no one tells you

You know what people tell you about success? That it just takes pushing yourself that little extra and you'll get there. And, whilst they might be right in some senses, I think all books and articles on success/growth forget to mention A WHOLE LOT OF OTHER THINGS. 

So let me introduce you to somethings, that I have learned over the past couple of months:

1) You need to be at it - every day; every 
minute; every second - Thats right, routine is important. You need to program it into every single day of your life. If you want to achieve greatness at a particular thing - you need to eat, sleep breathe it. You need to constantly update and more importantly WANT TO update. Your desire to improve needs to over-ride every other desire of too hot, too tired, not feeling up for it, I need a break etc. Its the only way. The mind always seeks to want to stay in 'comfortable' and greatness unfortunately is just outside that circle.

2) Strive for Progress not perfection - The internet/ facebook/ instagram is filled with a gazillion photos/articles of what perfection looks like. For me as a yogi, it is Kino McGregor and her ability to do handstands like it is no big deal, for you it could be Masaba Gupta churning out design after design, Jason De Silva creating this mind blowing videos, it could be anything. But remember this,  if you aim for perfection it will be a  fast and very painful decent into misery-land. Instead aim to progress. Aim to be better than who you were yesterday. 

3) Forget the fear of being wrong - Many times you will be forced to make decisions  and sometimes you may never know - if that is the right decision to make, at this particular point of time, under these particular set of circumstances. But you know what,  you need to give yourself the permission to be a beginner. The only way you will know is by trying. Dont let inaction take control of your mind and body until the opportunity passes.  And last but not the least don't be a shadow boxer- someone who lives in a land where they are caught between the dream of action and the fear of failure

Sunday, April 12, 2015

Lessons from starting an off-beat business

For those of you who don't know, I quit my job a few months back to teach yoga full-time. I am now a proud, and at times slightly apprehensive owner of the Chennai Yoga Studio. The journey has been one filled with equal parts self-doubt, doggedness and adventure.

Its been 3 months since I opened my doors, my heart and myself to my students and here are 3 important lessons I have learned along the way:

1) The honeymoon period fades but true love lasts : In my first month I had 15 students sign up
(with 0 money spent on advertising) and made twice the money I made at my day job. I was amazed and grateful that things took off so smoothly. Then came month 2 - were the number initially remained static and then declined by 10%. I began to fear I was a 'one-hit-wonder' and was extremely self critical of my work. I realised that the income from such a venture, was not predictable and secure. I doubted the decision and had half the mind to quit and go back to an easy but secure day job. BUT, the love of yoga and teaching overtook and I persevered ( it wasn't easy, still isn't, but I somehow managed).

2) The seduction of money : For the first time in a very long time, I felt at ease/content with my work. A student of mine sent me a text saying "Hey, just wanted to let you know that I am loving the class and I have so much positive energy after I come home" and it helped reinforce everything I was feeling. Then, as fate would have it, I met a long lost friend and learned that she was drawing a yearly income of 36 Lakhs, and here I was making less than half of that. The competitive streak in me questioned "After all that studying and work ex, this is all you make? Miserable. You need to focus on making more" and then I read

"There’s something inside you that knows when you’re in the center, that knows when you’re on the beam or off the beam. And if you get off the beam to earn money, you’ve lost your life. And if you stay in the center and don’t get any money, you still have your bliss."

3) Finding balance : Call me dreamer if you may, but I truly believe in waking up every day and feeling excited about work. I FINALLY feel that with yoga. I feel like I am doing my own little bit, and helping the world to be a slightly better place. And whilst doubt has often crept into my mind about financial security, social status and everything else, I have found balance.

A balance that is a delicate dance between love and still being a good business woman, a balance where greed does not kill love or, love does not shame profit-making.

Its been a crazy journey, but its been worth it in the end

Sunday, January 4, 2015

PK: To ban or not to ban!

Dear Amir Khan and Team,

As a closet writer, I for one enjoyed the script behind PK. It was strong, polished and seemed to tackle a lot of 'touchy' subjects with wit and panache - something I greatly admire. The cinematography (you did the best you could with Anushka's Daffy duck face), the costumes and sound track were all beautiful and at the end of the 153 minutes that was your film - I thought it was money well spent. 

But, my mother and a fair few other people around me felt you had touched upon a very sensitive subject in a crass/cliched manner. On the ride back home, there was a healthy discussion/debate on why your movie should or shouldn't be banned and after much talking (to people of varied opinions) I   seemed to agree with my mom (no, this wasn't just because she was my mom). 

Ah, now before you label me to be as a blood-thirsty fanatic, let me introduce myself. I am 26 year old girl who has had the opportunity to grow up in India, Malaysia and Australia - my view of the world is multicultural and diverse. That said, I do love and am proud of the intricacies of my culture, the festivals, the food and just about most aspects of it.

Your movie PK in its essence asks every Indian to discard the godmen/baba/guru of their religion. Whats wrong with that you may ask? After all, we have no dirth of con artists masquerading as gurus/fathers and maulawi's who convert people on the basis of a heaven/promise them a life with no disease/more money etc. 

The thing is along with the multitude of con artists, India has ALSO given birth to the greatest saints in world - Swami Vivekananda, Rabindranath Tagore, Ramana Maharishi, Mother Teresa, Baba Qamara U Zaman Faridi Chishti and if you look back in history the Buddha, Mahavira etc (I could go on and on and on). Imagine trying to understand quantum physics with elementary knowledge of science and without the aid of an experienced teacher? You would be completely lost and frustrated. The presence of a Guru helps us decipher and understand the religions we belong to in better light. And just like when you were in school and had some good teachers and many not-so-good ones - the same rule applies here as in every field of work.

Additionally, Hindus in large want progress and dynamic change - it is why we are open to changing the systems of yore that no longer work - be it sati, the cast system or anything else thats holding us back - of course there is opposition from people but you must understand that thats what happens when you are changing the nuances of an ancient culture. It is precisely this want that make us all the more vulnerable to poo-poo-ing ALL sadhu's and gurus as opposed to any other religion.

Now, coming to the size of the ashrams/money hungry nature of gurus that you have chosen to
portray in your movie. Again, I personally believe this portrays the whole communities of teachers in a very poor light and fails to highlight the good work that they do. Asking them to sit under a tree with nothing but a lion cloth and do all the work they do is like asking you to let every Indian watch PK with one theatre in Bihar - it would be impossible and impractical. Similarly, to share the knowledge each sadhu/guru has, his devotees come together to help build ashrams in the spirit of a yagna or teamwork. The grandeur of the oscars is not attributed to just one man - its a whole community coming together for a cause and an ashram is no different. It is why the vatican has been granted statehood, mecca is a mini city and a small scale ashrams does everything it does.

Your movies have always had the ability to inspire and cause a shift in the masses. Unfortunately this time round, to quote a dialogue from my favourite movie "I hope your project doesnt kill goodness in an attempt to expose the bad. I hope that in your attempt to destroy evil, you don't end up destroying the divine"and sadly, I think thats what your movie has done.

Now, I know this is not entirely your fault - the Indian audience is an easily influenced one - its why we all want fair skin, straight black hair, holidays in switzerland, a romance like the one in Kuch Kuch Hota Hai, Patriotism like in Rang De Basanti and wild parties like in most movies. BUT, this is also why as film makers and the influentia of society we have the additional responsibility of making movies that leave positive impacts for generations to come

To responsibility and creativity,
A hopeful fan.

Saturday, September 13, 2014


So, this happened a week back.

With a span of one hour, I went from being the ideal indian beauty with long black hair to someone whose 'hair looked like it was growing back after a tirupati mottai' in my moms own words.

To a culture that set's it beauty standards on straight, long hair - this short, curly, wild hairdo sent shockers. My mom constantly reminds me of how much 'prettier' i looked before. Many of my friends don't say it aloud but think this was by far the stupidest and silliest thing I have done.

Some lessons from this social experiment I accidentally manage to conduct:

1) Society will always have its standards, that it will choose to reinforce at any given opportunity - to me it was hair, to you it could be body type, skin tone, the length of your skirt or the choice of a partner.

2) You need be ready to step outside your comfort zone every once in a while - because how you how you do the small things is how you do the big things. To the whole world, it was just a hair cut to me it having the courage to do something against the norm.

3) Change is scary - I will admit I spent a few hours in front of the mirror thinking of how to hide this 'horrifying' haircut. Scarf, ponytail, hair band - i pondered every option. But I had to embrace the change - I had little other option. And I am grateful for that.

4) You change the world around you changes - The moment I embraced the wild hair cut people around me started appreciating it.

5) Its ok to have self doubt, but soldier on - Self doubt can rear its ugly head at the most unsuspecting of times, acknowledge its presence - because its what makes you human but move on. Soldier on to be braver, to be more beautiful and more innovative even if it is in your own strange way.

Friday, August 1, 2014

More powerful than you know

Out of the blue on a rainy saturday afternoon, I got a text from a junior of mine. It was an image of a a poorly made card I had given my teacher almost 6 years ago. I was curious and asked him how and where he got his hands on it?

He told me that he had gone to my teacher for advice on what to do in life, a few weeks ago. And after some long powerful conversation, my teacher spoke fondly of me and gave him this card as a reminder of a little girl he knew who always followed her heart. My teacher went on to say a few more nice things about me.....none of which really matter.

What matters, and what took me by surprise is the fact that not only did my teacher bother to keep my silly card for all those years but also that the card went on to act as a catalyst for change, in someone else's life.

We're often so caught up in the narrative of "Oh but what can I do, I am only just one person...." or "How can I do that, I am so young/inexperienced/fat/....( fill in your excuse)"  - That we fail to realise the actual extent of the influence we have on ourselves and the people around us.

That text reminded me of the fact that all of us are a lot more powerful/influential/inspiring than we choose to believe. It reminded me to not only be grateful for that opportunity but to also constantly challenge and push myself, so that I remained worthy of it.