Thursday, February 28, 2008

Eight things, more or less.
Because Quin said so.

8 things I’m passionate about

Baba, my eightyfour year ole sweetheart.
The stockmarkets, whattaride...
Words, 3 languages, thankyouverymuch
Street food
My India.

8 Things I Want to do Before I Die

Go to Istanbul. No I dunno why, but I must must MUST.
Have one book of translations published (not PDO or self publish)
Take a train that runs cross country, Jamnagar to Gauhati or Cochin to Jammu , where I can hop on and off the train at will, stopping wherever it I feel like
Take a year off to return to “real life”, maybe work in a store, too ivory towerish this life is sometimes
Own my home: glass finish kota tiles, at least one decoupage wall, bookshelves lining the corridor, nice long windows with flowing curtains, yes?

8 Things I Say Often

donkey (gadhedo chey) and its completely colorful variants
oh hell
On the other hand…

8 Books I've Recently Read

I have very little free time at home. I just about manage snippets:

The Shambhala Way
Van Gogh Blues
Navneet Samarpan, a literary magazine in Gujarati, where I’m trying to read a piece about the autobio of a child prodigy-author
Last Sunday’s Hindu Businessline and a pile of financial n’papers, and this never ever ends

8 Songs I Could Listen to Over and Over

Dil se/ ARR
Kholo kholo/ TZP/ Shankar Ehsaan Loy
Vaishnav Jan toh / Various
Udi udi udi/ ARR
Send your love remix / Sting
Michelle/ Beatles

8 Things That Attract Me to My Best Friends

they’re funny and bright
they’re honest and upfront
they don’t give a damn about appearances
they’re real. I cant explain this one. I cant stand fakes.

Tuesday, February 26, 2008

Four hundred words that were difficult to do, like squeezing out the last bit of toothpaste from the tube after you’ve pressed a rolling pin to smoothen the edges, greedily wheedle paste free of the metal tubing; finally victorious.

Monday, February 25, 2008

Bollywood shining..

The black lady shone bright, our very own Filmfare awards that I’m talking about.

Someday I want to sit in the junta seats at Andheri Sports Complex, cheer myself hoarse and clap red palm-loudly.

Tare Zameen Par is the best movie of the year, Aamir Khan the best director, that cute kid the critic’s award. No doubt about that. Will take a while before we see anything close. On a subject that is as difficult to handle as dyslexia. Such a bright and oh its-great –to-be-alive treatment, superlative!

Tabu, the critics award for Cheeni Kum, I don’t think anyone else amongst the bevy of lovelies that tinsel town features, could carry this April- December romance with such panache.

Kareena for a vivacious true to life sardarni in Jab we met, the best actress award, the movie was a riot.

ARR for the stupendous score for Guru, will take a while before we hear anything close to Barso rey.

This once I’ve seen all the movies, except for Life in a Metro. No way I can sit next to the sweetheart and watch this one, with its tale of parallel and sequential affairs of the heart and whatchacallit, supposedly set in this city.

For all the ppl who’ve been googling for Toshi Sabri and reaching this page- He was on the Star Voice of India show on Saturday, a little thinner but on his feet. Should do ok, heavens willing.

Saturday, February 23, 2008

Sweet dreams, little princess.

Wednesday, February 20, 2008

First babyisland, and then abbagirl, I’ve been tagged once too often on this one, so, here we go:

Page 123, skip 5 lines, write the next 3:

The Secrets of the Shambhala/ James Redfield:

..Even if we wanted to give Tibet its freedom, it would not be fair to the Chinese.”
He waited for me to say something, and I thought about confronting him with the government policy of importing Chinese nationals into Tibet in order to dilute the Tibetan culture. Instead, I said,” I think they just want to be free to pursue their religion without interference."

I’ve learnt quite a bit about intuition, energy fields and outcomes from this book, it has helped declutter my mind quite a bit. Now I just step away from things or people that my mind tells me to avoid.

Tuesday, February 19, 2008

khakhra (roasted roti) with cheese spread/honey/ sesame masala. And the yellow khakhra is the store-made one, fenugreek flavored. Biscuits, meetha, a citrus fruit called Mosambi (dont know the English equiv) and a glass of guava juice from a carton.

Monday, February 18, 2008

Ok. I admit it. I’m the only person I know who’d walk a kilometer for Okra.
Okra, as in the vegetable? Now paying ten bucks for a quarter of Okra from the vendors lining the road; nice green, slender and dainty ladies fingers, is wrong, is way too much. Not in the winter, when prices are supposed to hold better. How on earth is someone with a decent income or someone with a single salary supposed to manage, I debate as I walk home having spent much more. Strange enough, it costs the same at the shiny supermarket as it does at the vendors where you’re supposed to haggle, cajole and bully your way.

Tare Zameen Par

Amazing direction. Awesome colors. Beautiful. Great pace. No, its not a documentary-ish treatment for a difficult subject. There is no preaching. No dumbing-down.

How the director has managed to enter a nine-year old’s brain is something I’ll never know.

I was/am an dyslexic at math, I tell Papa, reminding him of the times I couldn’t leave the breakfast table without reaching twelve nines are. But numbers now are trends, lines that move up and down when they’re supposed to, and its when they don’t quite, that’s when you zoom in and push them some and turn them over.

But what a movie. Defining. Even if this man doesn’t make anything else, it would be fine. Amazing ease with the medium. I can’t think of any Indian film director who’d have the guts to show an opening so realistic and funny, a kid mesmerized by tadpoles and fishes in an open gutter, watching this strange world upside down.

Saturday, February 16, 2008

So what do you do?

At best it’s patch work, a hotchpotch of ragged defenses that you tack together. A, yes; but possibly B as well, don’t you think, you say as you try veer the talk to directions more propitious, but you’re by far too clever. No facades, no charade, as real as real is, but its your sense of humor to appeal to.


Thursday, February 14, 2008

Its been a busy time. Dashing about two cities, just glimpses remain. Trying to cook and keep a basic meal for the days I’d be away. The middle aged British lady waiting in the queue for a security check, completely frazzled and desperately needing to talk, getting back after the flight she was on was diverted since she needed to be hospitalized, she was in hospital for five days and doesn’t know what for. The crisp voice of the pilot saying that the temperature on arrival in Delhi was four degrees, which is quite a bit away from Mumbai’s chill ten The young couple on a tour of the cold hill stations,Kulu and Manali all prepared with woolens and suchlike,waiting for their first glimpse of snow. The roads and trees which are as beautiful as ever, just hints of a regal past in places, and one envied the tremendous space they seem to have spare. The meetings which were like any other, but lunch that was served on the lawns, freezing despite sunshine. Being told you’ve been overbooked on the return trip, and pulling rank even though that is something you really don’t like to do. Returning to find that a wicked man has held a giant of a city to ransom. Walking home past rows of downed shutters. Leaving for town really really early the next morning to notice that the city is back on its feet again. Hint of news and learning to say thank you, Mister God. Realizing how beautiful a art deco spire and a silhouetted branch seems against evening ink dusk.

Saturday, February 09, 2008

The markets are sloshing with red ink. Benumbed and indifferent, I shrug at whizzing bank headlines, what’s eight billion or ten, give or take a few? A great IPO fizzles out to nothingness and is withdrawn petulantly. Then, another, even the Burj builder has no takers, not at these levels. These are GOOD issues, not your fly by night z listers. I watch that kid of a day trader juggle non stop calls on his cell and blackberry, his face grimmer with every call; three years, I tell him, before it looks up again. Pity he’s never seen the way the markets were a decade ago, pity he’s never been burnt, but there’s a first time to everything, and you may as well lay back and enjoy it.

Yesterday all my silent cribbing about a train journey that took long disappeared in a whiff, when I talked to this young girl whose shift would begin at eleven in the night, selling credit cards to customers in far away lands, so as to support herself through college, a masters degree and hopefully a better life. The city does that, shuts you up and stops you short.

This is interesting for the rough edges and polishable instances, a Gatsby redux:

Tuesday, February 05, 2008


It’s a game I often play with myself, traveling to town.
This time too, I have fun.
The colors of the bangles glinting in lazy sunshine, from the huge box that the bangle-seller is carrying on his shoulder.
The trains are wearing a new color, a smart gray- red.
The brilliant blue on the Reliance Mobile Ad kiosks.
So that’s three.
And sun-dappled stone of Elphistone College, what color is that?

I went for the translation workshop over the weekend.
The translation workshop is part of the kalaghoda festival. Read more about it here.
I was there to learn what exactly I was doing wrong.
And learn what I could do to get someone to read.
Even the rejection letters are dust coated now.
The group allowed for personalized attention.
I shall forever be indebted.
I learnt about possibilities.
Now to figure out how to write a synopsis.

Elphistone is majestic. The corridors echo with history.
A plaque in the foyer lists distinguished alumni. Such as JN Tata. Bhulabhai Desai. Setalvad.
A list of Principals of the college goes back to 1845.
The Department Archives, Govt of Maharashtra is in the wing opposite. Or so I learn, just walking past, for a look.
Unsettling, somehow, to see documents with the Peshwa’s seal.
And letters that Subhash Chandra Bose wrote, and Gandhiji wrote.

And the street fair?
A riot of colors, noise- excitement, great installation art, and too many people.
What color is that?

Friday, February 01, 2008

Looking at the mountain
Looking at the sea...
Autumn evening.
- Kobayashi Issa (1763-1827)

This morning I’m delighted to host a book tour with Dr Eric Maisel, psychologist and creativity coach, who’s just published a book on Creativity and Depression, Van Gogh Blues. My introduction to Dr Maisel was through his newsletter, creativitynewsletter, on yahogroups.
I shall be completely indebted to Phoebe, the gutsy protagonist of some of the parables, for guiding me through a maze of words, ever- so-gently.
I confess I haven’t customized this, with my internal editor on high, I got myself into a complete frazzle about my questions on culture and creativity, the late bloomer and creativity, self doubt and expression, and latent talent.


Q: Eric, can you tell us what The Van Gogh Blues is about?

E: For more than 25 years I’ve been looking at the realities of the creative life and the make-up of the creative person in books like Fearless Creating, Creativity for Life, Coaching the Artist Within, and lots of others. A certain theme or idea began to emerge: that creative people are people who stand in relation to life in a certain way—they see themselves as active meaning-makers rather than as passive folks with no stake in the world and no inner potential to realize. This orientation makes meaning a certain kind of problem for them—if, in their own estimation, they aren’t making sufficient meaning, they get down. I began to see that this “simple” dynamic helped explain why so many creative people—I would say all of us at one time or another time—get the blues.

To say this more crisply, it seemed to me that the depression that we see in creative people was best conceptualized as existential depression, rather than as biological, psychological, or social depression. This meant that the treatment had to be existential in nature. You could medicate a depressed artist but you probably weren’t really getting at what was bothering him, namely that the meaning had leaked out of his life and that, as a result, he was just going through the motions, paralyzed by his meaning crisis.

Q: Are you saying that whenever a creative person is depressed, we are looking at existential depression? Or might that person be depressed in “some other way”?

E: When you’re depressed, especially if you are severely depressed, if the depression won’t go away, or if it comes back regularly, you owe it to yourself to get a medical work-up, because the cause might be biological and antidepressants might prove valuable. You also owe it to yourself to do some psychological work (hopefully with a sensible, talented, and effective therapist), as there may be psychological issues at play. But you ALSO owe it to yourself to explore whether the depression might be existential in nature and to see if your “treatment plan” should revolve around some key existential actions like reaffirming that your efforts matter and reinvesting meaning in your art and your life.

Q: So you’re saying that a person who decides, for whatever reason, that she is going to be a “meaning maker,” is more likely to get depressed by virtue of that very decision. In addition to telling herself that she matters and that her creative work matters, what else should she do to “keep meaning afloat” in her life? What else helps?

E: I think it is a great help just to have a “vocabulary of meaning” and to have language to use so that you know what is going on in your life. If you can’t accurately name a thing, it is very hard to think about that thing. That’s why I present a whole vocabulary of meaning in The Van Gogh Blues and introduce ideas and phrases like “meaning effort,” “meaning drain,” “meaning container,” and many others. When we get a rejection letter, we want to be able to say, “Oh, this is a meaning threat to my life as a novelist” and instantly reinvest meaning in our decision to write novels, because if we don’t think that way and speak that way, it is terribly easy to let that rejection letter precipitate a meaning crisis and get us seriously blue. By reminding ourselves that is our job not only to make meaning but also to maintain meaning when it is threatened, we get in the habit of remembering that we and we alone are in charge of keeping meaning afloat—no one else will do that for us. Having a vocabulary of meaning available to talk about these matters is a crucial part of the process.

Q: How does The Van Gogh Blues tie in with other books that you’ve written?

E: I’m interested in everything that makes a creative person creative and I’m also interested in every challenge that we creative people face. I believe that we have special anxiety issues and I spelled those out in Fearless Creating. I believe that we have a special relationship to addiction (and addictive tendencies) and with Dr. Susan Raeburn, an addiction professional, I’ve just finished a book called Creative Recovery, which spells out the first complete recovery program for creative people. That’ll appear from Shambhala late in 2008. I’m fascinated by our special relationship to obsessions and compulsions and am currently working on a book about that. Everything that we are and do interests me—that’s my “meaning agenda”!

Q: What might a person interested in these issues do to keep abreast of your work?

E: They might subscribe to my two podcast shows, The Joy of Living Creatively and Your Purpose-Centered Life, both on the Personal Life Media Network. You can find a show list for The Joy of Living Creatively here and one for Your Purpose-Centered Life here. They might also follow this tour, since each host on the tour will be asking his or her own special questions. Here is the complete tour schedule. If they are writers, they might be interested in my new book, A Writer’s Space, which appears this spring and in which I look at many existential issues in the lives of writers. They might also want to subscribe to my free newsletter, in which I preview a lot of the material that ends up in my books (and also keep folks abreast of my workshops and trainings). But of the course the most important thing is that they get their hands on The Van Gogh Blues!—since it is really likely to help them.