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. 

Monday, July 14, 2014

Depth Vs Diversity

As someone who usually diversifies her energies in a varied number of projects, I thought I was hurtling towards the old adage " Jack of all trades, Master of none". So I took a deep breath in and decided that this year's new year resolution would be to find depth, to dig my heels in deep and see where the rabbit hole takes me.

Should have been simple enough. But it has by far been the most hardest thing to stick to. By early feb I was getting bored with my work. It was too repetitive and monotonous. I was ready to quit my job and go wandering under the guise of self discovery. Luckily for me, a wise friend told me so to stay put. He said "It is easy to do things when they are exciting and fun. Anyone can do it. But, if your in the pursuit of excellence, you need to learn to stick it out past the boring phase"

Excellent advice to live by I think. Thoughts?? 

Wednesday, March 5, 2014

I'm just a girl and he's just a boy!

I stood at the gate, jaw open... watching the spectacle unfold.

She was poor, I could tell from the stains and tears that adorned her sari. Her hair was tied in a messy knot, probably because she had just finished work. I watched her walk up to the store with two beautiful children dangling from each arm. The boy was in some sort of school uniform complete with black shiny shoes, whilst the girl, who looked younger was in a ragged skirt and blouse.

The lady bought an ice cream at the store and handed it over to the boy. She said something, which I couldn't really decipher and left. As I watched on...I could see the girl pleading with her brother for just one lick of the ice-cream. But he refused despite her many requests.

Since I love poking my nose into everything, I walked up to him and asked him to share - but he cooly told me in tamil "Amma, ennaku than vangu nanga ( mother, bought this just for me)". Irritated at his answer, and the tone it came out in, I went up to the store and promptly bought a more expensive ice cream for the girl. I watched her open the shiny wrapper with a huge grin on my face.

Just as she took her first bite, her brother came over and said "Ne indha ice cream a sapptiko, anna ku ada koditudu (You eat this one and give your older brother the new one)". The boy continued telling her that it was bad to eat without giving her brother and went to extent of "I'll tell mom if you eat the new one". Annoyed, that he had used both the gender and seniority card, I told her not to listen to her brother and to continue eating

I am not sure if what I did was the right thing or wrong, but the issue annoyed me a whole lot. Why did the mother just buy the boy alone an ice-cream? Why did he think it was ok to have the new one just because he was older and a boy?

This disparity is something I see in India a whole lot - in varying degrees. The boy always gets the better, the boy always gets preference, the boy enjoys more freedom - But Why?