These are a few of my favorite things: #44 (Who Can it be now? by Men At Work)

As a solitude loving introvert I get totally distressed whenever there is an unexpected ring on the door or on the telephone….I totally Hate someone springs such surprises on me…I like to have company only once in a while & that too with an adequate advance notice n all this if I happen to like the person calling on me…most of the times I’m just too engrossed in my own work (even if that happens to be just pottering around the home/listening to music/watching some movie/just plain old thinking)…every knock on the door rudely jolts me away from the calm sanctuary of my inner world…I just don’t understand why other people are hell bent on ‘hanging out together’ or ‘meeting up over a cup of coffee’ all the times..why should I hang out with others n listen to their mindless rambling when I can hang in with myself & just think about the things that matter to me??…this terror of unknown visitors is very well captured in the song ‘Who Can It Be Now?’ by an Australian Band,  ‘Men at Work’

“Who Can It Be Now?”

Who can it be knocking at my door?
Go away, don’t come ’round here no more
Can’t you see that it’s late at night?
I’m very tired and I’m not feeling right
All I wish is to be alone
Stay away, don’t you invade my home
Best off if you hang outside
Don’t come in, I’ll only run and hide

Who can it be now?
Who can it be now?
Who can it be now?
Who can it be now?

Who can it be knocking at my door?
Make no sound, tip-toe across the floor
If he hears, he’ll knock all day
I’ll be trapped and here I’ll have to stay
I’ve done no harm, I keep to myself
There’s nothing wrong with my state of mental health
I like it here with my childhood friend
Here they come, those feelings again

Who can it be now?
Who can it be now?
Who can it be now?
Who can it be now?

 Related Posts:

These are a few of my favorite things: #10 (The Art of Disappearing by Noami Shihab Nye & People are Boring By George Carlin)

 

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February 4, 2016. Tags: , , , , , , . Introversion, Music, My Favorite Things, My lifestyle, My Values, Reflections/Musings, Solitude, You tube. Leave a comment.

Quitting the Rat Race #20 : Art by Steve Cutts

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October 2, 2015. Tags: , , . My lifestyle, My Values, Quitting the Rat Race. Leave a comment.

These are a few of my favorite things: #39(Walden on Wheels : On the Open Road from Debt to Freedom by Ken Ilgunas)

Pic courtesy New york times

Pic courtesy New york times

This book takes us on an inspiring journey as we get to know how the author Ken Ilgunas frees himself from a massive educational loan by following the simplicity n frugality model of Thoreau’s Walden.

I was drawn to the book for 3 main reasons. First, I found Ilgunas’ desire to live super frugally in order to pay his loans Very refreshing. This is totally opposite of what I see the kids doing in India(majority though definitely not all).  Parents here  finance the most expensive education of kids, even taking loans in their own names. & after that if these kids don’t get a high paying job which  they feel they deserve, they won’t pick up some small jobs to support themselves + they never dream of cutting down their royal extravagant lifestyle. They must have all the luxuries: expensive gym memberships,  expensive food items. Even after draining their parents financially, they behave irresponsibly, can’t be bothered to switch of lights n fans even when not in use (electricity bills be damned, after all parent will be paying for that too in any case), they can’t even pick up after themselves or do things around home (they need to have their personal servants). The standards of living of these shameless, self entitled youth is very high. Ken Ilgunas is indeed the role model this generation needs.

Second I’ve always admired Thoreau’s experiments in solitude, simplicity & frugality.

Third I find the calm, quite life full of simplicity, solitude & grace which the author led far more desirable & charming than the grotesque life of the Filthy Rich n Famous

Here is an excerpt from the book:

My experiment began in the spring semester of 2009 when I enrolled in the graduate liberal studies department. Months before, I had just finished paying off $32,000 in undergraduate student loans — no easy feat for an English major.

To pay off my debt, I’d found jobs that provided free room and board. I moved to Coldfoot, Alaska — 60 miles north of the Arctic Circle and 250 from the nearest store — where I worked as a lodge cleaner, a tour guide and a cook. Later, I worked on a trail crew in Mississippi in an AmeriCorps program. Between jobs I hitchhiked more than 7,000 miles to avoid paying airfare. When I couldn’t find work, I moved in with friends. My clothes came from donation bins, I had friends cut my hair, and I’d pick up odd jobs when I could. Nearly every dime I made went into my loans.

I hated my debt more than anything. I dragged it with me wherever I went. While I was still leading an exciting, adventurous life, I knew I could never truly be free until my debt was gone.

I finally got out of the red when I landed a well-paying job with the Park Service as a backcountry ranger. Finally, after two and a half years of work, my debt was gone. I had four grand in the bank that was mine. All mine. It was the first time I had actual money that hadn’t been borrowed or given to me since I was a 13-year-old paperboy.

The more money I had borrowed, I came to realize, the more freedom I had surrendered. Yet, I still considered my education — as costly as it was — to be priceless. So now, motivated to go back to school yet determined not to go back into debt, I had to think outside the box. Or, as Henry David Thoreau might suggest, inside one.

In “Walden,” Thoreau mentioned a 6 foot-by-3 foot box he had seen by the railroad in which laborers locked up their tools at night. A man could live comfortably in one of these boxes, he thought. Nor would he have to borrow money and surrender freedom to afford a “larger and more luxurious box.”

And so: I decided to buy a van. Though I had never lived in one, I knew I had the personality for it. I had a penchant for rugged living, a sixth sense for cheapness, and an unequaled tolerance for squalor.

My first order of business upon moving to Duke was to find my “Walden on Wheels.” After a two-hour bus ride into the North Carolinian countryside, I caught sight of the ’94 Ford Econoline that I had found advertised on Craigslist. Googly-eyed, I sauntered up to it and lovingly trailed fingertips over dents and chipped paint. The classy cabernet sauvignon veneer at the top slowly, sensuously faded downward into lustrous black. I got behind the wheel and revved up the fuel-funneling beast. There was a grumble, a cough, then a smooth and steady mechanical growl. It was big, it was beautiful, and — best of all — it was $1,500.

I bought it immediately. So began what I’d call “radical living.”

My “radical living” experiment convinced me that the things plunging students further into debt — the iPhones, designer clothes, and even “needs” like heat and air conditioning, for instance — were by no means “necessary.” And I found it easier to “do without” than I ever thought it would be. Easier by far than the jobs I’d been forced to take in order to pay off my loans.

Living in a van was my grand social experiment. I wanted to see if I could — in an age of rampant consumerism and fiscal irresponsibility — afford the unaffordable: an education.

I pledged that I wouldn’t take out loans. Nor would I accept money from anybody, especially my mother, who, appalled by my experiment, offered to rent me an apartment each time I called home. My heat would be a sleeping bag; my air conditioning, an open window. I’d shower at the gym, eat the bare minimum and find a job to pay tuition. And — for fear of being caught — I wouldn’t tell anybody.

Living on the cheap wasn’t merely a way to save money and stave off debt; I wanted to live adventurously. I wanted to test my limits. I wanted to find the line between my wants and my needs. I wanted, as Thoreau put it, “to live so sturdily and Spartan-like as to put to rout all that was not life … to drive life into a corner, and reduce it to its lowest terms.”

Not only is his story of adventure very gripping n absorbing, but the book is peppered with little gems of wisdom like these:

“Reading sixteenth-century French poetry, suffering through Kant, and studying the finer points of the Jay Treaty may seem to be, on first appearance, completely, utterly, irrefutably pointless, yet somehow in studying, discussing, and writing about these ‘pointless’ subjects, the liberal arts have the capacity to turn on a certain part of the brain that makes us ask ourselves questions like: 

Who am I?  What’s worth fighting for? Who’s lying to us? What’s my purpose? What’s the point of it all? 

Perhaps many students would rather not be irritated with these questions, yet being compelled to grapple with them, it seems, can make us far less likely to be among those who’ll conform, remain complacent, or seek jobs with morally ambiguous employers” (p. 243).

“Discomforts are only discomforting when they’re an unexpected inconvenience, an unusual annoyance, an unplanned-for irritant. Discomforts are only discomforting when we aren’t used to them. But when we deal with the same discomforts every day, they become expected and part of the routine, and we are no longer afflicted with them the way we were…Give your body the chance to harden, your blood to thicken, and your skin to toughen, and you’ll find that the human body carries with it a weightless wardrobe. When we’re hardy in mind and body, we can select from an array of outfits to comfortably bear most any climate”

This book would be of huge interest not only for students, but for anyone seeking simple, spartan, frugal n calm way of living. We need more young guys like Ken Ilgunas n we need more inspirational tales like this.

September 5, 2013. Tags: , , , , , , , , , . Book Review, Books, Happiness, Inspiration, Meaning of Life, My Favorite Things, My lifestyle, My Values, Philosophy, Quitting the Rat Race, Reading, Reflections/Musings, Simplicity. Leave a comment.

These are a few of my favorite things: #38(Queen of Versailles); Quitting the Rat Race #19

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Queen of Versailles is a peek into the (sad & pathetic) lives of (filthy) Rich n Famous. We always try to speculate whether money buys happiness or not. We philosophize & wonder about it. We reason n we argue. There is no definitive answer to this quest. Everyone has their own hypothesis n conclusions. Now this Award winning Documentary  by Lauren Greenfield  gives us an excellent lens to see things with our own eyes. n then decide!! It’s a commentary on the emptiness of consumerism driven life & failure of the American Dream.

The Queen of Versailles” began as a documentary about a time-share billionaire, his ditzy wife, and their grotesque quest to build the largest house in the United States of America. It ended as perhaps the single best film on the Great Recession.”

The Siegels have a plan to build a 90,000 square feet home, bigger than the White house n modeled on the Palace of Versailles, ‘cos their life can no longer fit into the 26,000 square feet home!! Now just look at what all it will have when finished:

When completed it will have:

  • 15 bedrooms

  • 30 bathrooms, each with a full-sized jacuzzi tub

  • 10 kitchens and a sushi bar

  • Bowling alley

  • Baseball field

  • 2-3 Theater sized Entertainment Centres

  • Roller-skating rink

  • Arcade

  • 3 swimming pools

  • Fitness center

  • Spa

  • 20 car garage

  • Staff Quarters

10 Kitchens!! Are you fucking kidding me? I mean what do you need 10 kitchens for?? Reminds me of one of my favorite stories, ‘The Billionaires‘ by Maxim Gorky in which he wonders what do billionaires do with all the wealth..Do have stomachs twice/thrice the size of normal people? or do they have more mouths?? or maybe more teeth!

Now about the Siegels:

David Siegel is the founder n owner of Westgate, the pioneer n biggest player in Timeshare holiday industry. He is 74 something. He married Jackie, a beauty pageant winner n 30 years his junior when he was 60. Together they have 8 children!!!. Jackie has a fondness for shopping n she shops things by truckloads (or rather limousine loads) when the stuff is already overflowing in their huge mansion. There are too many children, too many (neglected) pets,too many nannies n housekeeping help n too much clutter, n too little appreciation for anything, n no Savings. Obviously they fly in their Private jets n when the recession hit their fortunes, the ‘poor’ folks had to fly commercial…one of the son asks, ‘What are all these people doing in our plane?’ !!

David says everyone wants to be rich,if they are not rich, they want to feel rich n if they don’t want to feel rich, they are dead!!! 

But is he himself happy with all this wealth and opulence?? The Answer comes from the horses mouth. David  openly admits to the camera that nothing makes him happy any more. Asked if he draws strength from his marriage, he flatly replies, “No.” Finally , some sense starts to prevail when it becomes clear to him that recession has actually hit them too. Then he is like a normal middle class person getting worried about electricity bills, Housing staff is cut down drastically, but regardless the X’mas shopping n party are celebrated with fanfare.

As a person who actually enjoys frugality n living beneath the mean,I really don’t understand a lifestyle filled with so much extravagance n wastage. Period. Even if I had billions n trillions I would really want to stay the way we live now. The big mansions don’t even excite me. I dream of shifting into smaller n smaller homes n finally ending up in tiny house (1100 square feet). Tiny houses n simple lifestyle with low footprint is what excites me. I am not even interested in how their life fell apart during recession…I don’t like that extravagant n wasteful lifestyle even if had continued being so without hiccups. That kind of lifestyle is empty n hideous. I’m simply not interested in too much money, ‘cos all it gets you is a super ugly gold throne. I’m happy lounging in my easy chair, reading books n daydreaming.

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September 4, 2013. Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , . English Movies, Happiness, Meaning of Life, Movies, Must Watch Movies, My lifestyle, My Values, Philosophy, Quitting the Rat Race, Reflections/Musings, Simplicity, Wisdom. 1 comment.

These are a few of my favorite things: #31 (The Billionaire by Maxim Gorky)

Money cash

Money cash (Photo credit: @Doug88888)

I once read an amusing anecdote by Osho which goes like this:

One day Mulla Nasruddin told me, “I wish I had more land”.

 I asked him, “But why? As it is you already have enough”.

 He said, “I could raise lot more cows”.

 I asked him, “And what would you do with them?”

 He said, “Sell them & make more money.”

 “And then? What are you going to do with that money?”

 “Buy more land.”

 “For what?”

 “To raise more cows.”

This is the way it goes, you never come out of it.

Similar sentiment runs through this humorous & Brilliant short story by the Russian author Maxim Gorky

The Billionaire

by Maxim Gorkiy


The kings of steel, of petroleum, and all the other kings of the United States have always in a high degree excited my power of imagination. It seemed to me certain that these people who possess so much money could not be like other mortals.

Each of them (so I said to myself) must call his own, at least, three stomachs and a hundred and fifty teeth. I did not doubt that the millionaire ate without intermission, from six o’clock in the morning till midnight. It goes without saying, the most exquisite and sumptuous viands! Toward evening, then, he must be tired of the hard chewing, to such a degree that (so I pictured to myself) he gave orders to his servants to digest the meals that he had swallowed with satisfaction during the day. Completely limp, covered with sweat and almost suffocated, he had to be put to bed by his servants, in order that on the next morning at six o’clock he might be able to begin again his work of eating.

Nevertheless, it must be impossible for such a man — whatever pains he might take — to consume merely the half of the interest of his wealth.

To be sure, such a life is awful, but what is one to do? For what is one a millionaire — what am I saying? — a billionaire, if one cannot eat more than every other common mortal! I pictured to myself that this privileged being wore cloth-of-gold underclothing, shoes with gold nails, and instead of a hat a diadem of diamonds on his head. His clothes, made of the most expensive velvet, must be at least fifty feet long and fastened with three hundred gold buttons; and on holidays he must be compelled by dire necessity to put on over each other six pairs of costly trousers. Such a costume is certainly very uncomfortable. But, if one is rich like that, one can’t after all dress like all the world.

The pocket of a billionaire, I pictured to myself so big that therein easily a church or the whole senate could find room. The paunch of such a gentleman I conceived to myself like the hull of an ocean steamer, the length and breadth of which I was not able to think out. Of the bulk, too, of a billionaire I could never give myself a clear idea; but I supposed that the coverlet under which he sleeps measures a dozen hundred square yards. If he chews tobacco, it was unquestionably only the best kind, of which he always sticks two pounds at a time into his mouth. And on taking snuff (I thought to myself) he must use up a pound at a pinch. Indeed, money will be spent!

His fingers must possess the magic power of lengthening at will. In spirit, I saw a New York billionaire as he stretched out his hand across Bering Strait and brought back a dollar that had rolled somewhere toward Siberia, without especially exerting himself thereby.

Curiously, I could form to myself no clear conception of the headof this monster. In this organism consisting of gigantic muscles and bones that is made for squeezing money out of all things, a head seemed to me really quite superfluous.

Who, now, can conceive my astonishment when, standing facing one of these fabulous beings, I arrived at the conviction that a billionaire is a human being like all the rest!

I saw there comfortably reclining in an armchair a long, wizened old man, who held his brown, sinewy hands folded across a body of quite ordinary dimensions. The flabby skin of his face was carefully shaved. The underlip, which hung loosely down, covered solidly built jaws, in which gilded teeth were stuck. The upper lip, smooth, narrow and pallid, scarcely moved when the old man spoke. Colorless eyes without brows, a perfectly bald skull. It might be thought that a little skin was wanting to this reddish face, to this countenance that was expressionless and puckered like that of one new-born. Was this being just beginning its life, or was it already nearing its end?

Nothing in his dress distinguished him from the ordinary mortal. A ring, a watch, and his teeth were all the gold he carried with him. Scarcely half a pound, all told! Taken altogether, the appearance of the man recalled that of an old servant of an aristocratic family in Europe.

The furnishing of the room in which he received me had nothing unusually luxurious about it. The furniture was solid; that is all that can be said. Oftentimes elephants probably come into this house, I involuntarily thought at the sight of the heavy, substantial pieces of furniture.

‘Are you the billionaire?’ I asked, since I could not trust my eyes.

‘Yes, indeed,’ he answered, nodding convincingly with his head.

‘How much meat can you consume for breakfast?’

‘I eat no meat in the morning,’ he avowed. ‘A quarter of an orange, an egg, a small cup of tea, that’s all . . .’

His innocent child’s-eyes blinked with a feeble luster, like two drops of muddy water.

‘Good,’ I began again, half disconcerted. ‘But be honest with me; tell me the truth. How often in the day do you eat?’

‘Twice,’ he answered, peacefully. ‘Breakfast and dinner suffice me. At noon I take soup, a little white meat, vegetables, fruit, a cup of coffee, a cigar . . .’

My surprise grew apace. I drew breath, and went on:

‘But, if that’s true, what do you do with your money?’

‘Make more money!’

‘What for?’

‘To make more money out of that!’

‘What for?’ I repeated.

He leaned toward me, his hands supported by the arms of his chair, and with some curiosity in his expression he said:

‘You are probably cracked?’

‘And you?’ I said . . .

The old man inclined his head, and, whistling softly through the gold of his teeth, he said:

‘Droll wag! . . . You are the first human being of your species that I ever became acquainted with.’

Then he bent his head back and looked at me some time, silently and scrutinizingly.

‘What do you do?’ I began again.

‘Make money,’ he answered, shortly.

‘Oh, you’re a counterfeiter!’ I exclaimed, joyfully, for I thought I had finally got to the bottom of the mystery. But the billionaire flew into a passion. His whole body shook, his eyes rolled actively.

‘That is unheard of!’ he said, when he had calmed down. Then he inflated his cheeks, I don’t know why.

I considered, and put further the following question to him:

‘How do you make money?’

‘Oh, that’s very simple. I possess railroads; the farmers produce useful commodities, which I transport to the markets. I calculate exactly to myself how much money I must leave the farmer, in order that he may not starve and be able to produce further. The rest I keep myself as transportation charges. That’s surely very simple!’

‘And are the farmers satisfied with it?’

‘Not all, I believe,’ he answered, with a naïve childishness. ‘But they say that the people are never satisfied. There are always odd characters who want still more . . .’

Some people get fixated on acquiring more and more money without even pausing to think what do they want it for? Is it worth slogging for money after we have enough to get all our necessities? Where will all that huffing n puffing for more and more money lead us? Isn’t contentment a smarter choice?

~It is not the man who has little, but he who desires more, that is poor. ~ Seneca

 ~Greed will always leave you dissatisfied because you’ll never be able to get everything you desire. Greed never allows you to think you have enough; it always destroys you by making you strive ever harder for more. ~ Rabbi Benjamin Blech, Taking Stock: A Spiritual Guide to Rising Above Life’s Ups and Downs

~Contentment is natural wealth, luxury is artificial poverty.~Socrates

~Money is just a tool, don’t let it make you a fool.

May 13, 2013. Tags: , , , , , , , , . Happiness, Humor, My Favorite Things, My lifestyle, My Values, Osho, Quitting the Rat Race, Reading, Reflections/Musings, Short-Story, Wisdom. 3 comments.

These are a few of my favorite things: #28 (The Hermit by Eugene Ionesco)

The Hermit by Eugene Ionesco

English: Eugene Ionesco on a ship's deck cross...

I love everything about this book, starting with the title ‘The Hermit’…the word Hermit is so beautiful n peaceful. To me it signifies one who has found value in one’s own company.

 (Great minds are like eagles, and build their nest in some lofty solitude.~Arthur Schopenauer;

Language has created the word loneliness to express the pain of being alone, and the word solitude to express the glory of being alone.  ~Tillich, Paul)

I was immediately attracted to the Title of the book a couple of years back (& I reread it just now). At that time I did not in any way know about the Genius of Eugene Ionesco or that I would start loving his absurd plays.

Then there is the most wonderful opening sentence of the novel:

At thirty-five, it’s high time to quit the rat race. Assuming there is a rat race. I was sick & tired of my job. It was already late: I was fast approaching forty. If I hand’t come into unexpected inheritance I would have died of depression & boredom.

(Now it is a coincidence that I too gave up the rat race if there was any rat race for me to begin with  at 35, not that I was bored of my job…I was thoroughly enjoying my stint as a teacher but there came a time when I said to myself enough was enough…already time to quit n explore new things..the new things being doing nothing but devoting a large part of my time to thinking n philosophizing, devoting time to explore n adopt a simpler way of living, a frugal way, a Zen way, a quiet way, far from the madding crowd, far from the white noise of the society n confirmity )…so our unusual protagonist retires at 40 & devotes his time to ponder over the existential issues & the real meaning of our lives, not the superficial or mundane but the actual why n how of the human existence. He devotes his time to ponder over the nature of time, memories, death, infinity of the Universe, n such. Most people would regard him as eccentric n that is the general opinion of people towards him in the novel…sample these conversations & interactions of the narrator with various people:

~ I have a suspicion that the way I lived, the way I acted, rarely if ever going out, must have struck to her as odd. She made a number of allusions to my inactivity. According to her, I had no right to be retired in the first place. Not at my age anyway.

~Yes, that was it: they are all hostile towards me. What did they have against me? The fact that I didn’t live the way they did; that I refused to resign myself to my fate.

~She asked me questions that were vaguely indiscreet: “So it’s you again! Where are you going at this time? You always seem to be going out. And yet it’s safe to say you’re not going to work. You are lucky. Not like the rest of us.”

& the Best of all

~ I was about to drift off when Jeanne (His maid) came into the living room. As she rubbed the furniture to make it shine, she upbraided me, telling me that the life I led was unhealthy. Wasn’t I  going to buckle down & find some work for myself ? All right, so I had an inheritance. That’s no reason to sit around and do nothing all day. At least get married. Did I intend to go on living all alone like some impotent? I ought to start a family. I should have children. Man is made to have children, and there is nothing cuter than little ones underfoot. And then when they grow up and you grow old, they don’t abandon you to poverty; no, they reach out a helping hand when you need it the most. If there’s anything worse than living alone, it’s dying alone, with no one around to offer you a little milk of human kindness. I didn’t know what was in store for me. As for herself, she had a husband she didn’t get along too well, but now he was sick. They had had a child, a boy they had brought up with tender loving care, he had a heart of gold, only he had gone away and left them; he had a heart of gold, it was only because of that wife of his. They hadn’t heard from them in a long time. Apparently they had a baby. She had also had a daughter whom they had raised with similar loving care. A lovely girl. That is, she had been. But she too had a baby, only the baby had died. After that she deserted her husband. She came back home for a while, then left again, she had begun living fast n loose, from all that they had heard. Some cousins were in contact with her and kept them informed. Apparently she was on drugs. Children are ungrateful! You bleed yourself white for them, they aren’t all that easy to bring up in the first place and then when they grow up they go away and leave you, forget you: the best thing is not to have any. You’d better not count on them to show you any gratitude in the time of need.

I told her I was sure she was right. That didn’t stop her, she was still talking, with the dustrag in the right hand while she gesticulated with her left. She made me promise to marry and have children.

This conversation with Jeanne is perfectly classic Non-Sequiter dialogue in which Eugene Ionesco excels. The maid has not too good experience with her own children & yet she wants our guy to marry n have children. Somehow everyone is uncomfortable with anyone who leaves the race of conformity n who wants to live life on his/her own terms, then everyone will jump over each other n try to convince her/him to make the conventional choices no matter how badly they themselves are faring in life with their conventional/conformist choices. I too find myself on receiving end. People try to convince me that I must be bored to be staying at home all day n doing nothing since I don’t have any children either. No matter how happy I am & I look they are not convinced. How can I be happy until I am behaving like everybody else? Unless I have a fancy Job Title n a fat pay packet?

And one more thing is that people never value anything we do for it’s own sake. Not for making money but for the joy of doing the thing, like Vincent Van Goh painting his master pieces none of which sold during his life time. He said he painted for the sheer joy of painting regardless of them not selling. People can’t accept the fact that a guy wanna leave his job n focus on his inner life.

But I admire him for his ability to quit, afterall all of us know many people who crib about Monday mornings n enjoy life only on weekends n yet they can’t give up their lousy jobs ‘cos they gotta buy stuff to impress the people whom they don’t like’…that urge seems to be powerful for the masses of people.I guess it’s very easy to quit the drudgery of work if one wants to follow a simple n frugal life. Our guy (he remains unnamed in the novel) doesn’t squander money on big n fancy things like flashy car or luxury villa or such but just buys himself a modest flat where he can be with himself

I found his character intriguing in it’s aloofness. He tends not to think too much about other people. He is very much attached to his girlfriend upto the extent a person of his nature can be attached to anyone. Yet when she leaves him he has great difficulty in recalling her name…he’s always like ‘I miss Yovne or was her name Marie?!! In this sense he reminded me of another of my favorite character Meursault from ‘The Stranger’ by Albert Camus  (“Mother died today. Or maybe, yesterday; I can’t be sure.”)

 I like this novel for what goes inside the mind of the narrator. This book is not for anyone who likes suspense/thriller. I never like that kind of books where you are on tenterhooks as to what will happen next. I could not care less for a whodunit. My kind of book is that in which nothing happens…just life goes on at it’s own pace n that’s it. So no wonder I found this book extremely satisfying.

 

March 19, 2013. Tags: , , , , , , , , , , . Book Review, Books, Eugene Ionesco, Existentialism, Meaning of Life, My Favorite Things, My lifestyle, My Values, Philosophy, Quitting the Rat Race, Reading, Reflections/Musings, Solitude. 2 comments.

These are a few of my favorite things: #25 (Soak up the sun by Sheryl Crow)

Soak up the sun by Sheryl Crow

My friend the communist
Holds meetings in his RV
I can’t afford his gas
So I’m stuck here watching TV

I don’t have digital
I don’t have diddly squat
It’s not having what you want
It’s wanting what you’ve got

I’m gonna soak up the sun
I’m gonna tell everyone
To lighten up (I’m gonna tell ’em that)
I’ve got no one to blame
For every time I feel lame
I’m looking up
I’m gonna soak up the sun
I’m gonna soak up the sun

I’ve got a crummy job
It don’t pay near enough
To buy the things it takes
To win me some of your love
Every time I turn around
I’m looking up, you’re looking down
Maybe something’s wrong with you
That makes you act the way you do

I’m gonna soak up the sun
I’m gonna tell everyone
To lighten up (I’m gonna tell ’em that)
I’ve got no one to blame
For every time I feel lame
I’m looking up

I’m gonna soak up the sun
While it’s still free

I’m gonna soak up the sun
Before it goes out on me

Don’t have no master suite
But I’m still the king of me
You have a fancy ride, but baby
I’m the one who has the key
Every time I turn around
I’m looking up, you’re looking down
Maybe something’s wrong with you
That makes you act the way you do
Maybe I am crazy too

Who needs stupid expensive materialistic stuff when we have a rocking attitude to enjoy an uncomplicated simple life? The beauty of simple pleasures (n listening to such songs is among them) is really something else n is really kinda lost on people who are stuck in the rat race n living the false dream.Maybe something is really wrong with them to be lost in false glittery branded fake things n looking down on folks who are having the real fun!! Instead of racing for the new car, or gizmos or exotic vactions n villas, I’d just soak up the sun n chill. !!

Also check out my another favorite: Society

March 7, 2013. Tags: , , , , , , , . Happiness, Music, My Favorite Things, My lifestyle, My Values, Quitting the Rat Race, Simplicity, Wisdom. 1 comment.

These are a few of my favorite things: #15 (I’m a Nobody by Emily Dickinson)

I’m a Nobody by Emily Dickinson

Emily dickinson

I’m nobody! Who are you?
Are you nobody, too?
Then there’s a pair of us
Don’t tell—they’d banish us, you know.

How dreary to be somebody!
How public—like a frog—
To tell your name the livelong day
To an admiring bog!

 This poem literally speaks to me, ‘cos in a world full of people who worship the rich & famous & who want their 15 minutes of fame, I (and few  kindred souls) am (are)  happy being a nobody .

People will go to any lengths to gain fame, even become buffoons in front of the world in the so called reality TV shows. I simply don’t understand the charms of fame. Celebrities say that they enjoy being recognized everywhere, & I’m like what? What’s the benefit whatsoever to be never left alone peacefully to do your own things as you please rather than pleasing an audience all the times?  The poem satirizes glory seekers as well as their admiring fans. Much as I don’t understand the desire for fame, I understand celebrity worshiping still lesser. I’ve incredulously witnessed masses standing out in sun for hours to catch a glimpse of their favorite celebrity. I couldn’t care less about a movie-star or a sport celebrity. What I value is my own being n people who are near n dear to me in my own little world.

Perhaps I’m of  tradition of people like Chuang Tzu who revel in their own glory & being rather than being worshiped by masses. If you want to be famous you are really a puppet to what people want from you.

 Once, when Chuang Tzu was fishing in the P’u river, the king of Ch’u sent two officials to go and announce to him: “I would like to trouble you with the administration of my realm.”

Chuang Tzu held onto the fishing pole and, without turning his head, said, “I have heard that there is a sacred tortoise in Ch’u that has been dead for three thousand years. The king keeps it wrapped in cloth and boxed, and stores it in the ancestral temple. Now would this tortoise rather be dead and have its bones left behind and honored? Or would it rather be alive and dragging its tail in the mud?”

“It would rather be alive dragging its tail in the mud,” said the two officials.

Chuang Tzu said, “Go away! I’ll drag my tail in the mud!”

February 8, 2013. Tags: , , , , , , , , , , . Happiness, My lifestyle, My Values, Parables, Poetry, Reflections/Musings, Wisdom. Leave a comment.

These are a few of my favorite things: #12 (Consolation by Billy Collins)

Consolation by Billy Collins

Billy Collins

Billy Collins (Photo credit: marcelo noah)

How agreeable it is not to be touring Italy this summer,
wandering her cities and ascending her torrid hilltowns.
How much better to cruise these local, familiar streets,
fully grasping the meaning of every roadsign and billboard
and all the sudden hand gestures of my compatriots.

There are no abbeys here, no crumbling frescoes or famous
domes and there is no need to memorize a succession
of kings or tour the dripping corners of a dungeon.
No need to stand around a sarcophagus, see Napoleon’s
little bed on Elba, or view the bones of a saint under glass.

How much better to command the simple precinct of home
than be dwarfed by pillar, arch, and basilica.
Why hide my head in phrase books and wrinkled maps?
Why feed scenery into a hungry, one-eyes camera
eager to eat the world one monument at a time?

Instead of slouching in a café ignorant of the word for ice,
I will head down to the coffee shop and the waitress
known as Dot. I will slide into the flow of the morning
paper, all language barriers down,
rivers of idiom running freely, eggs over easy on the way.

And after breakfast, I will not have to find someone
willing to photograph me with my arm around the owner.
I will not puzzle over the bill or record in a journal
what I had to eat and how the sun came in the window.
It is enough to climb back into the car

as if it were the great car of English itself
and sounding my loud vernacular horn, speed off
down a road that will never lead to Rome, not even Bologna.

Though the poet has written the poem humorously & as a means to console himself for not being able to take a vacation in Europe, I see it quite in the literal sense..how much better indeed not to be tiring yourself on holidays to some obscure place doing the usual touristy things, running from one tourist hot spot to another, spending insane amount of time & energy on planning n logistics. Why not relax at home instead & enjoy your own city with new eyes? I know a lot of people who go to distant places for holidays but don’t know their own city intimately…why? Is a place alluring n beautiful only ‘cos it is far off?   Perhaps a part of vacation charm lies in  impressing neighbors n peers with the money you spend on your holidays!! Perhaps it’s a status symbol….perhaps people who are convinced about the benefits of always being busy n of multitasking like to do things on holidays too, bungee-jumping, hiking, rafting, blah blah, this already is looking tiring to me..at least holidays should be reserved for relaxation n just being.. i’m sold on the concept of comforts of home rather than huffing n puffing on holidays.

Home is the Best

Here is Billy Collins reading his poem:

February 4, 2013. Tags: , , , , , , , . My lifestyle, My Values, Poetry, Reflections/Musings, Simplicity, Slacker-Sutras, Slacking, Solitude, Wisdom, You tube. 2 comments.

These are a few of my favorite things: #11 (Society by Jerry Hannan & Eddie Vedder)

These are a few of my favorite things: #11 (Society by Jerry Hannan & Eddie Vedder)

Society

It’s a mystery to me
We have a greed with which we have agreed
And you think you have to want more than you need
Until you have it all, you won’t be free

Society, you’re a crazy breed
I hope you’re not lonely without me

When you want more than you have, you think you need
And when you think more than you want, your thoughts begin to bleed
I think I need to find a bigger place
Cause when you have more than you think, you need more space

Society, you’re a crazy breed
I hope you’re not lonely without me
Society, crazy indeed
Hope you’re not lonely without me

This is a beautiful song both in music & in lyrics. Song for the people who refuse to be a part of the crowd. Our so called ‘society’ is nothing but crowds who have agreed pretty crazy & stupid definitions of happiness & success. Success is defined by one’s possessions & power. Whoever has the most stuff wins!! Looks pretty bad to me. No thanks, I’d rather be singing the song of my own soul than be caught up in this silly, mad frenzy. Society has no place for individuality. Those who live by their own rules are failures in the eyes of society. But ironically the so called successful people who played by society’s template of success (get good grades, slog your ass off in some stupid dumbass job that you pretend is very important, get married, produce 2.5 children, get a house, get 2 cars, go to exotic vacations, compete with the neighbors, compete with co-workers over who has more stuff, who eats out more, who vacations more n so it continues) are deeply unhappy & at a loss to understand why they feel so bad when they are doing all the ‘right’ things. This template looked non-sense to me from the beginning. Never appealed to me. I never felt the need to be a super-woman, to have it all. I’m my own person & that is more than enough for me. It’s really a mystery that people actually engage in all this n then they die without having known what is life really all about, what peace of mind is, what individuality is. How much happiness you can have sitting in your room, idly thinking, contemplating, gently communing with nature, taking things slow, living life at the pace of life n not running endless rat race. As Mark Twain noted, “Whenever you find yourself on the side of the majority, it is time to reform (or pause and reflect).”

Also see my other favorite: Soak up the sun

February 1, 2013. Tags: , , , , , , , , . Consumerism, Meaning of Life, My lifestyle, My Values, Philosophy, Quitting the Rat Race, Reflections/Musings, Simplicity, Solitude, Wisdom. 1 comment.

These are a few of my favorite things:#4 (Ferdinand, the Bull, by Munro Leaf, illustrated by Robert Lawson)

Ferdinand, the gentle, peace loving & content Bull is everyone’s favorite. Though the story is meant for children, Ferdidand is equally loved by adults. To me Ferdinand’s story is about embracing your true nature rather than succumbing to the pressure of society . If you are a bull but like to smell flowers rather than fight then there is no good reason that you should fight. I discovered this book n video only a couple of days back but wish I had known it in my growing up years when I had a little tough time being comfortable with my introversion & solitude loving nature. You were supposed to love meeting new people, making loads of friends & enjoy partying. I would rather read books & daydream. Eventually I learned that my choices were as valid  if not more valid than the more popular choices of the day. Today I don’t feel the pressure to be a super-woman. Like Ferdinand I’d rather be smelling flowers & enjoying afternoon naps.

January 19, 2013. Tags: , , , , , , , , , , . Book Review, Books, English Movies, I-Me-Myself, Must Watch Movies, My lifestyle, My Values, Quitting the Rat Race, Reflections/Musings, Teaching Stories. Leave a comment.

Zen & the Art of Dying:Zen Moments #3

Daruma by Hakuin Ekaku (白隠 慧鶴, January 19, 168...

Image via Wikipedia

A samurai once asked Zen Master Hakuin where he would go after he died. Hakuin answered ‘How am I supposed to know?’ ‘How do you not know? You’re a Zen master!’ exclaimed the samurai. ‘Yes, but not a dead one,’ Hakuin answered.

A General and a Zen Master

During the civil wars in feudal Japan, an invading army would quickly sweep into a town and take control. In one particular village, everyone fled just before the army arrived – everyone except the Zen master.

Curious about this old fellow, the general went to the temple to see for himself what kind of man this master was.

When he wasn’t treated with the deference and submissiveness to which he was accustomed, the general burst into anger.

“You fool,” he shouted as he reached for his sword, “don’t you realize you are standing before a man who could kill you without blinking an eye!”

But despite the threat, the master seemed unmoved.

“And do you realize,” the master replied calmly, “that you are standing before a man who can be killed without blinking an eye?”

Usually people are interested in finding whether there is a life after death. Zen teachers say it is better to focus on the present moment than worry about the afterlife. The real question is not if there is life after death but if there is a life before death. As far as life after death is concerned there are just 3 possibilities: either we die n that is the end of our story or we keep reincarnating till we achieve nirvana or we pass on to other realms of existence…we can never be really sure of which of this 3 actually happens until we are, errr, well actually dead. Like the famous Greek Philosopher Epicurus said “When we are, death is not & when death is, we are not”. So what happens after death is really unimportant. It is a mystery for us the living. But death is certain that much is pretty sure & in fact though we hate to die, paradoxically it is death which makes life exciting or even bearable. Imagine being immortal, that would be a fate worse than death. So we as human beings are not meant to figure out what happens after death but rather how to make the most of life in face of impending death. The answer is we must learn to live each moment fully. To squeeze the juice out of each moment. It is said those who live wisely are not afraid to die. Only those who live half heartedly, die half heartedly. Just like we get a good night’s sleep after a day well spent, we can get a good death after a life well spent.

“There is surely nothing other than the single purpose of the present moment. A man’s whole life is a succession of moment after moment. If one fully understands the present moment, there will be nothing else to do, and nothing else to pursue. Live being true to the single purpose of the moment.”

Yamamoto TsunetomoHagakure (c. 1716)

February 9, 2012. Tags: , , , , , , , , , , . Buddhism, Death, Happiness, Meaning of Life, My lifestyle, My Values, Parables, Reflections/Musings, Wisdom, Zen. 4 comments.

Zen & the Art of Enjoying Everyday Life : Zen Moments #2

A small zen garden in the Japanese Tea Garden,...

Image via Wikipedia

A very famous saying/quote in Zen goes thus:

Before Enlightenment chopping wood & carrying water

After Enlightenment chopping wood & carrying water

Zen does not have any God or prayers. It just encourages us to discover our true selves & then be a lamp unto ourselves. When we practice Zen every moment becomes a Happy moment, a Zen moment.

The above quote is very significant. Though after enlightenment we continue to do the things we did before, the quality of these tasks changes dramatically. Before enlightenment chopping wood & carrying water (or cooking & doing dishes) is a chore, a burden, something that is done reluctantly, we’d rather be enjoying ourselves, having a high life, going to expensive restaurants in our big glitzy cars & such. There is an anger that we have to do these boring tasks. Our mind is pre-occupied with thoughts of past n future while we hate every second of our present moment. When we practice Zen though we continue to do the same things our feelings about these tasks is hugely transformed. We actually enjoy doing these tasks, we do these chores with devotion & dedication, with mindfulness & realize that there is tremendous beauty in doing them.  We realize there is nowhere else to go. We start to enjoy simple pleasures as a clean room & good food rather than exotic holidays & expensive clothes!! When we do things mindfully & with a happy heart, the quality of that thing changes.

Consider this Koan from ‘The Gateless Gate’:

A monk told Joshu, “I have entered your monastery, now please teach me.”

Joshu asked, “Have you eaten your rice porridge?”

The monk replied: “Yes I’ve eaten.”

Joshu said, “Then better wash your bowl.”

At that moment the monk was enlightened!!

After reading Zen books & learning about the basic concepts of Zen for last few days, I’ve been finally motivated to actually practice the practical aspects of Zen. Zen is more of doing rather than empty philosophizing. Zen is very experiential. Zen encourages simplicity. I’ve been spending my last few days in a Zen state. Finally I was motivated to clean my perpetually scattered closet, which was in nothing short of a nightmarish chaos. I always took the excuse that the closet was very small & did not have adequate space for my clothes & things. But when I finally decided to take the bulls by horns, it was surprising how discarding a few useless items can create space for the rest of our stuff. Earlier I was planning to buy an expensive wardrobe to accommodate my ever increasing collection of dresses, foot wear, accessories, Bags, Knick-nacks & what not. But then I applied Zen thinking to my problem, I came up with innovative & inexpensive solutions. I could do with a few inexpensive racks for my books & collapsible foldable shelves for my clothes & shoes. Now I’ve achieved a somewhat uncluttered & better room which I’m sure will turn into a beautiful sanctuary in next few days. I want to make many changes to the way we are used to doing things. I want to enjoy simple beauty & as I’m very fond of my cups of tea, I guess I’ll start with a beautiful tea set & tray to go with it & enjoy a beautiful Tea ceremony every day.

Thich Nhat Hanh says this about drinking tea mindfully (yup with Zen even tea drinking can become our meditation)

“When you drink tea in mindfulness, your body and your mind are perfectly united. You are real, and the tea you drink also becomes real. When you sit in a café, with a lot of music in the background and a lot of projects in your head, you’re not really drinking your coffee or your tea. You’re drinking your projects, you’re drinking your worries. You are not real, and the coffee is not real either. Your tea or your coffee can only reveal itself to you as a reality when you go back to yourself, and produce your true presence, freeing yourself from the past, the future, and from your worries. When you are real, the tea also becomes real and the encounter between you and the tea is real. This is genuine tea drinking. You can organize a tea meditation to provide an opportunity for your friends to practice being truly present in order to enjoy a cup of tea and each other’s presence. Tea meditation is a practice. It is a practice to help us be free. If you are still bound and haunted by the past, if you are still afraid of the future, if you are carried away by your projects, your fear, your anxiety, and your anger, you are not a free person. You are not fully present in the here and the now, so life is not really available to you. The tea, the other person, the blue sky, the flower, is not available to you. In order to be really alive, in order to touch life deeply, you have to become a free person. Cultivating mindfulness can help you to be free.”

We can enjoy such beautifully simple pleasures everyday in life. We don’t have to wait for any special occasion to celebrate life, with Zen every moment is beautiful, every moment is a celebration, yes even when we are chopping wood & carrying water, when we are doing dishes, sweeping the floor, dusting the furniture, with Zen all these things are labors of our love, our love for life itself.

January 29, 2012. Tags: , , , , , , . Happiness, My lifestyle, My Values, Reflections/Musings, Simplicity, Wisdom, Zen. 4 comments.

That was Then, This is Now: Zen Moments #1

That was then, this is now: It is very simple, yet a very profound statement (like all things Zen, this is the beauty of Zen). Rejoice in the way things are today without missing the good old times. Often people have a hangover of the past, they paint quite a rosy picture of the life they had (even though they might have cribbed n complained about that very life when it was happening). But we should realize that everything has it’s time n place. There’s a time for birth, a time to grow & time to die. Everything happens in its own perfect timing. A few years back I had a full-fledged career, a busy routine, good income & lots of money at my disposal. Now I am a home-maker & though those things are no longer there, their absence has created room for new type of experiences: more simple, more serene. Now money might be less but time to reflect on my thoughts n mysteries of life is more. Right now I’m enjoying this placid life. I can’t dream of having it otherwise. Though I’ve to do some mundane chores like cooking n cleaning, something that couldn’t have been even thinkable when I was a studious student & a busy professional. Often people ask me which is better, the professional life or the life of a home-maker & don’t I miss that so-called high life??I always say ‘That was then & this is now’

January 23, 2012. Tags: , , , , , , , , , , . Buddhism, Happiness, My lifestyle, My Values, Quitting the Rat Race, Reflections/Musings, Wisdom. 5 comments.

Fatshion Blog #2

We don’t need to be size 0 to dress up & look good (as a matter of fact size 0 looks kinda malnourished n sick). There was a time when my hubby used to say things like if you lose 10 kgs, I’ll buy you new clothes worth one lakh rupess & I used to be excited about it!! That time I had not even realized how hot a Plus size woman can look. Dressing up is a matter of taste & personal style & not of size, ergo there are lots of ‘normal’ sized women who are frumpy & many ‘plus’ sized women who are chic. Now I assert my right to shop all I want at my current size (& oh I’ve gained 10 kgs or so since then but ironically I like myself more now than I did then)

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January 19, 2012. Tags: , , , , , . Fat Acceptance, Fat is Beautiful, Fatshion. 3 comments.

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