Lessons from Pottery

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Lessons Learned from Pottery

Mud and anything shaped from it has long held me in its thrall. Many people are drawn by this elemental pull, which may well be simply because we are some part earth and some part the other elements.

Fingers sunk in clay – cleaning, kneading, moulding, drawing a lump of clay upwards on the wheel, ie throwing a pot, vase, bowl or a diya, all of it is soothing and healing.(Making a pot on the potter’s wheel is called throwing)

I chanced upon an article recently that spoke of pottery being one of the best therapies ever. This seems evident somehow.

I chose to formally learn pottery because I had always loved it. It was my chosen method of spring-cleaning my own self from a certain life event which spanned over a decade leaving perforations in my psyche.

Every morning after breakfast I rode my bike 45 minutes, to the central government pottery institute and worked with clay all day long.

Coiling, sculpting, etching motifs on semi air-dried pottery, learning to throw pots on the electric wheel, month after month was almost the only thing that could absorb me fully at the time.

I made at least a hundred pieces including terracotta jewellery and continued to make more regularly over the next few years.

Power to soothe

The power of pottery to soothe while one creates it or from pieces placed around the home is immense. Drinking water kept in terracotta pots for storing and cooling cools the body and settles the mind.

Power to clarify

The entire process of creating shapely or shapeless works of art not only calms the errant being but also helps in making things simpler and clearer. The buzzing mind can make a monster out of a decision at times and this very buzzing is calmed and issues seem clearer after a day of working with clay.

Creation of beauty

All art is a creation of beauty and deeply pleasing to the creator and beholder. The lump of clay holds hidden within itself the form that we can coax it to take. The emerging forms and shapes can be gratifying beyond measure. To sculpt away at a bust, fine-tuning the facial aspect is joyful in the focus and gentle precision that is required.

One with the environment

Same as us terracotta art emerges from dust and goes back to dust easily and quickly, especially when harmful paints are not used.

Finally, what does no harm to the earth and environment is soothing to us and to recognize this would be the first step we could choose to take to better our own lot.

About Sunila

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Sunila Vig

Sunila lived in Australia for twelve years and all over India as a child. Now she lives in Bangalore, India with her family.

She is a lecturer of Communication to MBA students and is a practising Yoga teacher.
Sunila was introduced to books by book-loving parents at an early age and devoured them at every opportunity.

Nature, music and art mean a lot to her and she loves solitude and noisy fun in equal measure. She expresses herself through a variety of creative channels-singing, pottery, sketching and writing.

Sunila writes fiction and poetry both in English and Hindi. Her debut collection of short stories in Hindi, “Nirjharr”, was published by the Karnataka Hindi Sahitya Parishad.

Poetry and short stories authored by her have been published in a variety of medium.
She is a Post graduate in English Literature from Kuvempu University in the verdant Malnad region of Karnataka, that has given the world a large number of writers and artists.
She can be reached through her FB page https://www.facebook.com/SunilaVigAuthor?ref=hl

Blog www.sunilavigauthor.blogspot.com

Twitter @whitefielder

 

 

Lessons Learned from Doing Laundry

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Lessons Learned from Laundry

Let me start this post by saying, I’m sure that my laundry breeds while I sleep. I mean there is no other reason I can think of as to why the laundry basket refills at the rate it does. If only my bank balance, refilled as quickly. Sigh! Of course, things are a lot better, now that I’m married. Now, I’m forced to do it. Which brings me back to the days of yore – or bachelorhood, as I like to call it. Back then, the only time I actually did the laundry was when the following predicament presented itself to me – Laundry today, or naked tomorrow. 

However, as I said, now things are different. As you get older, you sometimes get reflective and wiser. So previously while I had enough time to go through a book while waiting for the laundry to be done, these days I just put the laundry in the machine and then hobble around the house picking toys or getting other stuff done. Now you, my dear reader at the back of the class, might be wondering why I’ve decided to bore you with lectures of how my “laundry” habit has developed over the years. Fear not! I do not intend to.

The only reason that I’ve talking about laundry today, is because it was as I was separating clothes – coloured from non-coloured, intimates from well…non-intimates – that’s when a thought struck me. You see, along with the laundry bit, I also have trouble with folding clothes. And as I was chatting up “Google-Devi” trying to convince her to accompany me in my quest to find that magic folding thingy that Sheldon Cooper (Yes, the very one!) uses to fold his clothes, the lovely Sumeetha pinged me to ask for my post. Something that I’d promised and (conveniently) forgotten because as it goes, life happens. But I digress.  Anyway, as I was separating the laundry today, I realized that it is quite possible that there is more to laundry than dirty baniyans and shorts.

So here are a few lessons I believe doing laundry teaches us.

Wash – Dry – Wear – Dirty – Repeat

This is what I normally call a laundry cycle. And lots of things in life follow a similar pattern. You have to keep doing them over and over again. Yes, some days you feel like you’re stuck in a rut and repetition often feels monotonous. But remember, repetition also helps make some things perfect. So some times, it’s always worth learning those lessons over and over again, till you perfect it. And no, before you ask – laundry IS a never-ending vicious cycle. If you want clean clothes, that is.

At some point, you will lose a sock. Sometimes, every single time

The point I’m trying to make is, that sometimes no matter how carefully we plan everything or be cautious, we lose things or people that are important to us. There is nothing we can do to prevent it.  Yes, we feel frustrated about it and sometimes even get wildly possessive about it, but sometimes “sh*t happens” and socks get lost. Deal with it!

Read the label

I agree – life doesn’t come with an instruction manual. But as philosophical as it sounds, sometimes the universe sends you signs with directions to people who have those instructions. And some other times, it’s there – just like the label on the inside of your favourite t-shirt. And it’s there for a reason. And if it’s too much for you to handle, sometimes it’s okay to call your Mom (or whoever else you need to) for help. We don’t have it all figured out always.

Stains and holes

Wouldn’t we love it if everything were perfect? Just like how we wanted it. Like not having food stains on the brand new white shirt or mud splatters over that pink dress that you decided to wear even though it was raining. But just like the sock, no matter how hard we try to avoid them, life splatters a bit of mud all over us.  And that’s okay. You know why? Because the stain is only on the outside. Eventually you will stop wearing that stain, just like you will stop wearing that particular dress or shirt. Grow out of it, so to speak.

Don’t let it accumulate

Just as with dirty laundry, often in life, we tend to let things bog us down. We procrastinate and look for the easy way out. Could I get away once more with that really stinky pair of jeans? Or maybe nobody will notice that I smell like a wet, raggedy dog? The REAL easy way out here is – do not put away something that can be done today.   Oh, and in case you do let it accumulate, do this – STOP over analyzing it and get to the bottom of the basket as quickly as possible.

One load at a time

This is probably the most important lesson of all that you can learn from doing laundry. So you’ve let things pile up and you feel bogged down by the weight of it all. So much so, that you’re starting to feel like Atlas with the huge globe on his shoulder. Tough luck! But all isn’t lost.  As they say, Laundry is nothing but sorting out life, one load at a time.

Now that my gyaan is officially over, I should get back to doing my laundry. Else that “naked tomorrow” part, might just come true. Oh, and in case you’re wondering, there is a sign in our house that says: “This home has endless Love and Laundry”.

Well, what did you expect? We have a toddler who believes rolling in the mud is his birthright. On a separate note, that might explain the rapid refilling of the laundry basket.

About Sid Balachandran

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Sid Balachandran

Academically an engineer and a product manager by profession, Sid believes that his true calling lies in writing. Having recently relocated back to India after an eight-year stint in London, he writes short stories, social satire and about his parenting escapades involving his toddler son. He can be found weaving his tales at www.iwrotethose.com

Lessons Learned from my Best Friend

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Lessons Learned from best friend

They say Aquarians collect friends of all shapes and sizes. But that bit of astrology didn’t work in my case because I had no close friends all through my school.

I noticed her on the first day of college. Spectacled and serious, she was collecting the names of all the new entrants to the class, as she was the class monitor. The first thing that I noticed about Thangam was her voice – deep and reassuring.

I was then shy and socially awkward while she was outgoing and popular. But we became friends nonetheless. We would sit for hours after college discussing books and characters that we have admired and loved and time would speed away. For the first time in my life, I had a friend who would understand why I had a massive crush on Mr. Darcy or why I admired Jane Eyre.

After college she went on to do her MBA while I pursued Journalism and Mass communication but we stayed in touch despite distance and gruelling schedules. When she moved to Dubai after marriage and I made my home in Chennai, we stayed in touch through emails and hurried phone calls and met each other whenever she came to the country. She is my best and the worst critic ever and these are the lessons that I have learnt from her.

Resilience in the face of storm: Thangam is the most resilient person I have ever known. She has battled many weird health problems, numerous operations, and emotional turmoil to stand forth brave and unflinching in the face of pain and agony.

Brutally honest: She is brutally honest about everything. Right from the state of my hair to the first draft of my novel, her feedback was always straightforward (with many choicest swear words that I wouldn’t repeat here.).

Go get it attitude: One could learn many lessons from her about how to achieve anything that you want. She juggled many roles as an entrepreneur, a mother, wife and as a amateur poet quite successfully. All through this journey she had only one mantra to pull her through – ‘I can do it if I put my mind to it.’

Be there when you are needed: A very important lesson that I have learned from her through example. She was always there for me as a sounding board for decisions, as an anchor to pull me through storms and as a friend who would listen to anything that I had to say be it complaints about Raks’ naughty behaviour or weighty things like the plot of my next novel. She is there whenever I need her.

Today is her birthday and even as I write this I get a message from her husband reminding me to call her and wish. So here is a tribute for you Thangam. Have a fantastic fun-filled day and a great year!

Lessons learned from Cyclone Hudhud

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Lessons learned from Cyclone Hudhud

25th October, 2014. And there’s a world of difference between the cyclone just two weeks ago. I open the tap and am glad to see running water. I switch on the fan and am relieved that I won’t have to go without power. I don’t want to eat Maggi anymore, because that’s what we had all of last week. Almost.

Thankfully, we didn’t lose much. The house, being an old-time construction withstood the strong winds. Trees though, were less fortunate, snapping like twigs in the face of the 220kmph windspeeds. Modern homes with huge glass windows suffered. Fishermen lost their boats. Businesses were badly hit. Villagers are still without power. Vizag had never seen something like this. And after the storm bore its fury on us, the streets of the city on Monday morning looked like they were out of a Hollywood war story. Electricity poles strewn about, trees split into two, billboards everywhere, upturned autos. More importantly no milk, no water, no power, no candles, no phone, no Internet, no biscuits and a mad rush for all these.

Adversity is a great teacher. That one day and the week that followed taught much more than I could imagine.

It takes a calamity to make you understand what nature’s fury means

‘Nature’s fury, the great leveller, the maker-the breaker’, these were just fancy phrases for many like me till 12th morning. It was one thing to hear statistics of 220kmph winds going to hit Vizag. It was another to experience them. It was one thing to know that the waves would be 4-meter high and another to see boats- a fisherman’s livelihood washed away. It was one thing to hear that loose objects would fly about, quite another to see a hotel billboard flying like a kite in the sky.

Everything had a price

There are many who make hay when the sun shines. There are others who do so during calamities. During the cyclone week in Vizag, there were people who made money. They would bill you Rs. 50/- to get your cell charged. Sell a packet of milk for Rs. 100/-. Water for double the price. Black-marketing of relief supplies started. There were people who would make money in any situation. In fact, there were some who were standing in the storm, picking up the fallen billboards and selling them off instantly.

But humanity was alive

And then there were people who went all out to help. Youngsters formed groups, used social media or friends networks to reach out with help. Many handed out packets of food and water, despite the negative experiences of being looted of those at some places. They wanted to really reach out to the needy. A tea vendor outside our house took on the role of supplying milk and water to houses in the neighbourhood. He really didn’t need to do so, but he did. There were stories of humanity flowing in from every street of the city. People were coming forward to do their bit. And every bit added up.

Necessity is the source of invention

We were all holed up. Candles were all sold out. And we learnt to make a diya from the maid servant’s mother. The diya using water, oil and a thick wick would burn all night. We had no source of water. And we learnt rainwater harvesting, filtering the pour-down from the cyclone into usable water. The kids had no TV or video, so they got together too with inventive games.

We notice certain things only after we lose them

Trees and birds are something we had always taken for granted. But after the storm what hit home was the fact that there wasn’t a single tree left. Entire hills had simply changed their colour from vibrant green to lifeless brown. The huge family of crows living on the mango tree near my house has dwindled to one-fourth. And I miss their cawing.

Political machinery works!

The government put into action laudable efforts. The CM stayed in Vizag, slept only four hours a day, literally working round the clock to clear the streets by Diwali and get us back on our feet. The government machinery worked and how! For once, red tapism was out. Efforts were made to control black-marketing. And when that machinery worked, the city reciprocated, in kind. Vizag had its very first cracker-free Diwali.

That the first thing you need to do is help yourself

It was tough to realize that no one would come and get you what you needed. Till then, everything had a process, but nature had suddenly broken protocol. We had to devise new ways to get what we needed and more importantly we had to ask and seek help. The calamity brought the community together and we came to know of neighbours we hadn’t before.

About Jaya Murty

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Jaya Murty

Jaya Siva Murty is a senior feature writer for a leading lifestyle magazine in Vizag, a freelancer, a social volunteer, and a mother of two mischievous kids. She has also authored her first novella titled ‘Canvas of Dreams’ with Indireads Publishing and is now working on her second book.

Lessons Learned from Diwali

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Lessons Learned from Diwali

We all know about Diwali. It is synonymous with shopping, crackers, sweets and basically having a festive time around. But there are many valuable lessons that many have learnt from it. We asked around many people the following question –

“What’s the one thing you have learned not to do on Diwali?”

and these were the answers –

“I have learned never to try and burst a rocket or any cracker for that matter by holding it in hand. And another hard lesson was trying to explain to my parents as to how the showcase windows broke when I experimented with bursting crackers indoors.” K.S. Manikandan, Film maker

“One thing that I never to do on Diwali is probably shopping. That’s because you are tempted to buy stuff that you don’t want or need. I would rather donate that amount for a good cause and help someone else. Diwali for us Indians has become like Chrtistmas in the Western world. It should be family time. Instead people are more interested in what gifts they get and what offers are around.” Sid Balachandran, Blogger and Author

“I have learnt not to sit at home watching TV. That’s because it is mostly pointless with crackers bursting. I would rather visit a temple or go away some place.” Yamini Vijendran, Author, Blogger and Freelance Writer

“I have learnt not to burst crackers. I would rather take a few street kids for dinner.” Rubina Ramesh, Author and Blogger.

“My family and I have learnt not to burst crackers on Diwali.” Sundari Venketraman, Author and Blogger

It’s been about 13 years, since I bought or burst crackers. Firstly, I’m an ardent animal-lover and can’t understand why animals have to be traumatised. When I love them so much, it’s just natural for me to restrain from bursting crackers. Calvin, my 11 year old pet dog, wouldn’t eat for about five days during Deepavali. And wouldn’t come out for walks. Ensconced under the sofa/bed, my canine-friend would literally die of sounds. I reckon, however clichéd it sounds, it is a festival of lights. And we must stick to that fact.” Deepika Ramesh, Journalist and Animal Lover

“I have learnt never to be careless around crackers. Burnt myself once and seen Dad being hurt very badly once. Another thing I have learnt is not to drive unnecessarily as there is bound to be crazy traffic on the days leading to Diwali. If you have to go, leave three hours before the designated time!” Parul Tyagi, Author and Blogger

“I have learnt not to overeat sweets. (To tell the truth, my family hides it from me)” Venketesh Ramakrishnan, Author

“Definitely clothes …. Don’t remember the year …two of my sisters in law and myself had a common tailor Blouses were given for stitching and all three of us were threatening the tailor to stitch and give it on time. The fun part was without the knowledge of others , I asked him to get mine done first ….and they followed suit. In the end, he did not stitch any of our blouses. Reason – no time But the real reason was he lost my elder sister in law’s measurement blouse and got very scared. He hid all our blouses and gave it back ten days after Diwali. I learned to buy readymade blouses for Diwali from then on…” Usha Seshadri, Avid Reader

“I have learnt not to burst crackers. I mean I loved crackers as a kid but eventually got put off by the pollution and the littered streets the next morning, which no one bothers to clean up.” Shuchi Singh Kalra, Author, Blogger and Freelance Writer

“My children showed me how animals and plants get disturbed when we burst crackers. My wife showed me satellite pictures of India on Deepavali day. I have given up bursting crackers for over a decade now.” Krish Murali Eswar, Vaastu Expert and Mentor

“I have learnt not to splurge money on crackers. They create unwanted noise and burn a hole in the pocket (pun intended).” Abhinav Sethi, Author, Blogger and Freelance Writer

“Revisit old wounds hah ahhahaha. Seriously I would say do not over indulge on sweets and gossip. My family donates equal money to charity that we spend on clothes eat and lights It’s our way of showing gratitude for all that we have.” Radha Srinivasan, Entrepreneur and Avid Reader

I don’t believe in buying crackers for diwali. I personally believe that the money can be spent in some way to make the poor happy 2.bursting crackers can create accidents. My personal decision alone won’t make much impact, but I believe that’s a small step towards the society. Rajalingam Manickavasan, Digital Marketing Consultant & Founder- Toss Digiconsult

If you have more lessons to add, please post a comment with your lesson and share it with your friends and followers. Have a happy, joyful and a safe Diwali from the Lessons Learned Team

Lessons from Emotional Slumps

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Peaks and troughs dot life’s path.

Same as I cannot loftily sit atop a peak forever, I cannot stay in a trough for long. Even as I slide downwards, I can use the same momentum that is built while sliding down to catapult me upwards again. This is one lesson I am working on and can see myself improving.

The sadness that envelopes my heart when someone or something has in my perception, hurt me, can keep me heavy and downcast for a while, or not. I do work at looking at the coin from all the sides but even then it can take varied amounts of time to accept and move ahead without rancour.

When feeling low, a friend apparently uses the approach of ‘toughening up’. This set me thinking. What lay within the two words?

Did they mean that one should simply shove everything as deep down as one can and try and forget, which is only an escape and no escape is permanent. Did the words mean that one should balance the heart and the head and allow logic to prevail, thereby allowing the strength of the emotions to fizzle and lose strength over one? The latter thought makes sense.

Finally I found what I could draw from this and use practically and as always my answer lay with -yoga. Surprise surprise J So it was not so much a find, it was a return. I find that I wandered from applying this knowledge again and again, only to return with a sense of sheepishness, that all that I need and ever will, lies in me. This returning has become much quicker in the recent times. Maybe one day I would stop wandering away, altogether.

Whenever the heaviness of the heart got too much to bear, all I had to do was to be with my exhale. Every exhale going down towards the feet takes away with it the burden and the weight of anything that we tenaciously cling on to.

The mind, the constant oscillation between the past and the now, the what ifs, the whys and everything that helps us cling on with passion to a downward plunging thought process loosens its hold upon us and we are free to be in the present and be productive. Simply by being with the exhale as it goes down the body and the inhale as it moves upwards. We then move out of the head and into the body, which is a far better space to inhabit. I have found it best to visit the mind when needed.

Writing- has time and again proven to be another tool at such a time.

The very act of stringing words together, to express as closely as possible to what I think or feel brings my entire being together. Thinking becomes worthwhile. The mind, the body, the breath –unite.

The fragmentation of the being caused by an emotional slump then turns into a restful sense of ease and cheer. One is able to move past the trough and starts upwards towards a peak or stay comfortably on the plain grounds of equanimity.

About Sunila

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Sunila Vig

Sunila lived in Australia for twelve years and all over India as a child. Now she lives in Bangalore, India with her family.

She is a lecturer of Communication to MBA students and is a practising Yoga teacher.  Sunila was introduced to books by book-loving parents at an early age and devoured them at every opportunity.

Nature, music and art mean a lot to her and she loves solitude and noisy fun in equal measure. She expresses herself through a variety of creative channels-singing, pottery, sketching and writing.

Sunila writes fiction and poetry both in English and Hindi. Her debut collection of short stories in Hindi, “Nirjharr”, was published by the Karnataka Hindi Sahitya Parishad.

Poetry and short stories authored by her have been published in a variety of medium.
She is a Post graduate in English Literature from Kuvempu University in the verdant Malnad region of Karnataka, that has given the world a large number of writers and artists.
She can be reached through her FB page https://www.facebook.com/SunilaVigAuthor?ref=hl

Blog www.sunilavigauthor.blogspot.com

Twitter @whitefielder

 

 

 

 

Lessons Learned After Quitting a Professional Job

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Lessons Learned

When I got my first job everything was euphoric, first salary, first award, first promotion and… first stressful incident. The emphasis here is not on the incident but on the stress and repeated stress.

So there I was, many years of corporate life, frequently falling sick, indiscriminately popping Crocin, Combiflam pills. Sometimes sacrificing precious events of my children for the job, and sometimes silently ignoring the boss’s instructions for kid’s tennis class. Balancing, running, tripping… running… and more running.

Fatigue sets in by increasing demands in the job as you grow senior and the family as you grow older, the euphoria diminishes and the question arises. Why this rat-race?

After long discussions with the inner conscience, even longer with the outer one (the better-half), I left my job, even though the pros and cons were equally balanced.

It has been one and half years. So the lessons learned.

It’s not easy, no matter what: It is tough to leave hard-earned professional success. Initial couple of months are like honeymoon period with the new status. I caught on with sleep, watched movies, made favorite food for my kids, laughed at people going for work in the morning (a tiny sadist part of my soul).

But this doesn’t last, one misses the challenge, importance, authority and financial independence. The higher the position and number of years at work, higher the feeling of desolation. No matter how much thinking and mental preparation one has done, it’s not easy to leave behind the professional high.

But it’s okay. After all, the same would have been the case when one retires due to age. Focus on the positives. Have a ‘Quitting Plan’ to mentally occupy yourself. The solution here is to do something positive and meaningful rather than just being at home.

One cannot turn into super-homemaker overnight: Don’t have high expectation with yourself. For instance, if you had planned to surprise everyone, every day with your culinary talent and you are unable to do so or it doesn’t hold your interest, it’s fine. Don’t feel like a failure.

You are you. One can’t change one’s basic nature, habits and preferences with a snap of their fingers. So if you don’t feel mentally challenged by plan A, have a plan B. Learn a language. If reading interests, join a Book Review group. Teach on-line. Join an NGO. Start blogging. Follow your hobbies. Re-plan your ‘Quitting’ plan.

Drying of a source of income pinches: No matter how financially secure one is, the lack of money, to spend, always hurts. This would ease over a period of time. There is no quick-fix solution to this. Maybe the spouse gets a stupendous bonus/ raise or a long-lost aunt bequeaths a fortune, J then it’s a different story.

Last but not the least

Be polite and firm with people who start taking you for granted now that you are, supposedly, free: Do what you had planned to do as per your ‘Quitting’ plan. Keep yourself mentally agile. Exercise daily.

Human beings are creature of habits, as time passes we adapt to our situation and conditions. So just hang out there folks and this would seem like a passing phase which you would start to enjoy by doing things you never had time to do. Remember, everyone’s not so lucky to have this choice!

About Ruchi Singh

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Ruchi Singh

Ruchi Singh writes in English and is a voracious reader. She has a degree in Electronics Engineering and is a freelance Quality Consultant. Besides writing and reading, her other interests include dabbling with Indian classical dance forms.

Connect with Ruchi here –

Lessons Learned from Vegetarianism

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Lessons Learned from Vegetarianism

“Animals are my friends…and I don’t eat my friends.” George Bernard Shaw

My name is Raja. I am from Madurai though right now I live in Coimbatore and I am a pure vegetarian.

Born and brought up in a family that cooked non-vegetarian, I used to eat non-veg at least three times a week. But my perceptions changed when I started reading about Gandhi, Einstein and Bernard Shaw. Their life and views had a profound impact on me, so much so that I stopped eating non-vegetarian.

The following are the lessons that I have learned since I became a vegetarian –

I became a vegetarian because I am against cruelty to animals. I don’t believe animals are any less than humans by any stretch of rational thinking. Feasting on their flesh or wearing their dead skin is both disturbing and disgusting to me.

Many of my friends said that animals are here only for humans to eat. Many want to question my reason to turn into a vegetarian rather than simply accepting the fact that I have changed. Though until a few years ago I too made fun of vegetarians, calling them ‘sambar’ and ‘thayir saatham’ (curd rice). Today, I am a vegetarian by choice, and I was well able to deflect their attack on my so-called madness.

Food choices are personal, not universal. All my family members are non-vegetarians. And they strongly believe that meat is good for health. I have never imposed my opinion on them. Some of my friends know for a fact that vegetarian food is good for health but they find it difficult to control their taste for non-veg food. I am not judgmental of their choice as food choices are truly personal by nature.

If you are arguing in favour of vegetarians, don’t tell people that they have a good heart and that they know the value of lives. In case you are wondering why, remember that even Hitler was a vegetarian.

Nature is an integral part of my life. My village is located near the Western Ghats. I love bird watching and trekking at Western Ghats. I have realized that vegetarianism can protect our environment as it protects the animals.

 

About Raja King

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Raja King

Raja is a B.Tech IT graduate from Madurai who is currently working as a business analyst in Coimbatore. He is interested in history, literature and art. He loves to write and dabble in political writing and analysis.

Lessons Learned from R.K. Narayan’s English Teacher

 

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Lessons Learned from R.K Narayan’s English Teacher

I read R.K. Narayan’s English Teacher almost 15 years ago as a part of my college syllabus. English Teacher was supposed to be the autobiographical account of Narayan’s struggle to come to terms with the death of wife, Rajam. And that’s probably why it had such a profound impact on me. And on the 108th birthday of this iconic author let me list out the lessons I have learned –

Keep it Simple – One of the first things that strikes you about Narayan’s writing is that you don’t have to reach out to Google or the dictionary to check his vocabulary. Simple words coined in simple sentences can aptly do the job of narrating your story. Even profound philosophies about life can be described beautifully using simple language. This was one of the most useful lessons that I learned from English Teacher.

“I returned from the village. The house seemed unbearably dull. But I bore it. “There is no escape from loneliness and separation….” I told myself often. “Wife, child, brothers, parents, friends…. We come together only to go apart again. It is one continuous movement. They move away from us as we move away from them. The law of life can’t be avoided. The law comes into operation the moment we detach ourselves from our mother’s womb. All struggle and misery in life is due to our attempt to arrest this law or get away from it or in allowing ourselves to be hurt by it. The fact must be recognized. A profound unmitigated loneliness is the only truth of life. All else is false.

Understated humour – Humour is a classic prop that Narayan uses in all his novels. His humour is often understated and tongue-in-cheek which works well in all his plots. English Teacher too had many such moments where Krishna the protagonist fails to prepare for his class and ends up using attendance as an excuse to while away the time and the headmaster of the nursery school confessing to him about why it takes a long time for him to come out of bathroom. Narayan’s art of weaving in humour with many slice of life moments is a lesson that many writers can learn.

Discovering yourself – English Teacher on the outset could be classified as a tragic love story of a college professor, Krishna who falls in love with his wife, only to lose her tragically to Typhoid. But it is certainly much more than that. Krishna’s dissatisfaction with his life and work and the loneliness he feels after Susheela’s death leads him towards a new path. In the end, he finds a way to connect with his dead wife and discovers the joy that one derives only out of doing something that they really like. Krishna finds joy in teaching little kids rather than trying to explain Southey’s poetry to unappreciative students in college.

This was one of the most important lessons that we can learn from this book. There is indeed no greater joy than working on something that you enjoy.

Lessons learned from Reading Mills & Boon Romances

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Lessons Learned from Mills and Boons

I started reading when I was three years old. I remember reading just about anything and everything I could get my hands on – I mean fiction – in both English and Tamil. Magazines, comics, books, pieces of paper that groundnuts were wrapped in – you name it, I read it.

When I entered my teens, I was introduced to Mills & Boon by my friend Nalini who is a few years older than me. I loved the first Mills & Boon that I read, I remember the first three authors I read, in fact – Flora Kidd, Essie Summers & Margaret Way – and I became a fan for life. I must say I have learned a lot from reading romances published by Mills & Boon.

  1. My language has improved tremendously, especially writing clean without four-letter words. For this I must really thank this publisher.
  2. I acquired a tremendous amount of knowledge about other countries, their culture, tradition, habits and more. I even learned some words in French, Italian, Greek and Spanish.
  3. I have become a sucker for ‘Happily Ever After’ endings. I am a diehard romantic at heart and I believe a happy ending is always possible. Mills & Boon has surely given me that.
  4. Whether we like it or not, what we read influences our sub-conscious minds. That’s one of the main reasons I never read thrillers or murder mysteries late into the night. But give me a Mills & Boon romance, I can stay up till 3-4 am and keep reading happily.
  5. Today, I am a romance writer all thanks to having read more than 30,000 titles from Mills & Boon. Indian authors have started writing for this publishing house over the past decade or so. Before that, it used to be only western authors. I used to always visualise the novels I read in Indian situations and that’s how my books were born.

About Sundari Venkatraman

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Sundari Venkatraman

Even as a kid, she absolutely loved the ‘lived happily ever after’ syndrome as Sundari grew up reading all the fairy tales she could lay her hands on, Phantom comics, Mandrake comics and the like. It was always about good triumphing over evil and a happy end. Soon, into her teens, she switched her attention from fairy tales to Mills & Boon. While she loved reading both of these, she kept visualising what would have happened if there were similar situations happening in India; to a local hero and heroine.

Her imagination took flight and she always lived in a rosy cocoon of romance over the years. Then came the writing – a true bolt out of the blue! She could never string two sentences together. While her spoken English had always been excellent – thanks to her Grandpa – she could not write to save her life. She was bad at writing essays in both school and college. Later, when it was time to teach her kids, she could manage everything from Science to Mathematics and History & Geography.

When it came to writing compositions, her kids found her of no help at all. All this changed suddenly one fine day in the year 2000. She had just quit her job at a school’s office and did not know what to do with her life. She was saturated with simply reading books. That’s when she got home one evening after her walk and took some sheets of paper and began writing. It was like watching a movie that was running in her head – all those years of visualising Indian heroes and heroines needed an outlet and had to be put into words. That’s how her first novel, The Malhotra Bride, took shape. Today, Sundari is the best selling romance author in India and abroad. Her novels – Double Jeopardy, Malhotra Bride, Meghna and Runaway Bridegroom are selling like hot cakes in Amazon.

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Amazon Author Page: Sundari Venkatraman