Wednesday, February 21, 2018


"He was obedient to and at one with nature and the four seasons."
— Basho on Saigyo, quoted in Sam Hamill, introduction to 'Narrow Road to the Interior'

February. People falling ill, cancer striking closer and closer, bad news all around, a lot of time spent in hospitals, and more to come.


The rain trees are bare, the new leaves budding like hope at their fingertips. Against the sky, delicate filigree silhouettes, their branches flowing out like water frozen in motion. And on the ground, beautiful intricate shadows - the earth, and the sky, everything a canvas.

The Hongai leaves have turned golden, some trees have shed, others already shining in the sun, resplendent, their small translucent oily leaves as stunning as flowers, green and red.

The mahogany leaves are falling, their seed pods breaking to release the twirling twirling winged brown seeds scattered on our streets.

The yellow tabebuias have started blooming, quietly, quietly, filling up the bare branches, until one fine day they stop you in your tracks.

The pink tabebuias, slightly early, blooming on some streets already in bunches of ethereal softness.

The trees full of birds building nests, so that their babies are born in summer, rich with ripe fruits and insects.

The white-cheeked barbets can be heard loud and clear above the chattering parakeets this season.

The wind, that has come to help shake the dry leaves off the trees, ringing my chimes all day, ringing in peace.

And the migratory rosy starlings back at my window, chirping away in large flocks, adding their music to my mornings, and flying up in murmurations once in a while. They are early this year, but well, I am not complaining. :)

The universe throws beauty at us, lavishly, a thousand pearls of abundance, whatever is going on in our lives.

Oh, not to be swine, but to be take what is offered so generously, and to be glad, and to be consoled, even for a while.

Light, Light:



Friday, February 9, 2018

Eating Sun

And then there is the realization that perhaps all your life has just been a polishing of the lens, a passage through large patches of darkness so that you learn that the light of the most mundane of days is the biggest gift of all, and that anything bigger than that is to be received kneeling down, like bread and wine, His body and blood ......

“This light was not like the flow of water, but something more fleeting and numberless, for its source was everywhere. I liked seeing that the light came from nowhere in particular, but was an element just like air...Radiance multiplied, reflected itself from one window to the next, from a fragment of wall to cloud above. It entered into me, became part of me.

I was eating sun.”

'And There was Light' , Jacques Lusseyran, a French writer who went blind at the age of eight and later survived the Buchenwald concentration camp

Monday, January 29, 2018

The Magic Trick

Mary Oliver

On a really bad day, I start the morning by sending appreciation mails to people at work or outside. Just acknowledging something in them that I appreciate, but never bothered to tell them. It kind of balances me and connects me to the world - just to acknowledge that there are so many good people around, persevering to do their best, while fighting their own battles. And positivity is contagious both ways, you even get infected by yourself. :) :)

"If you can’t seem to make yourself happy, do little things to make other people happy. This is a very effective magic trick. Focus on others instead of yourself. Buy coffee for the person behind you in line (I do this a lot), compliment a stranger, volunteer at a soup kitchen, help a classroom on, buy a round of drinks for the line cooks and servers at your favorite restaurant, etc.

The little things have a big emotional payback, and guess what? Chances are, at least one person you make smile is on the front lines with you, quietly battling something nearly identical."

Tim Ferriss on How He Survived Suicidal Depression and His Tools for Warding Off the Darkness

Friday, June 9, 2017

Johatsu: The Evaporated People of Japan

Nothing has moved me as much as this book in a long long time.

So why do I read "sad books"? Of course I flinch. I am not any tougher than any of you - on the contrary. :)

"But aren't we all in this together?" asks Joseph Grand, the dim-wit clerk in Camus' 'Plague'. The book that still defines who I am, the choices I make on a daily basis, even after 25 years.

The least we can do is to acknowledge another's pain?

I believe this helps me become more human - to willingly stand in the stream of another's suffering, and say: "Yes, I may never live this - but I feel you." Does not have to be everyone's way, but this is mine.


"In Japan, thousands of people each year became johatsu — “evaporated people” — driven underground by the stigma of debt, job loss, divorce, even just failing an exam."

"A hundred thousand Japanese will disappear every year, not counting the eighty-five thousand evaporations reported by the police. The families who dare consult private eyes increase, says Sakae, "their dishonor".

...Sakae sees his country as a pressure cooker. Its inhabitants slowly boil, constantly being tested. Once the pressure becomes unbearable, they escape. This taboo subject points to the very foundations of Japanese society, just like the 33,000 suicides documented annually, or 90 every day.

"A man worthy of the name never runs. Running is for faucets." Boris Vian once joked.

In Japan, the philosophy is reversed: a man worthy of the name leaves."

'The Vanished: The 'Evaporated People' of Japan in Stories and Photographs' (2016)
Léna Mauger (Author), Stéphane Remael (Photographer), Brian Phalen (Translator)

Wednesday, May 24, 2017


Once on an early morning ride back to Calcutta airport a long time ago, this Bihari taxi driver brought us masala tea made by his wife. Because the previous night we happened to mention in passing how we have to leave so early we would not get tea at the hotel where we were staying.

He stopped at the airport, and to our surprise, pulled out nice cups and saucers from a cloth bag and ceremoniously served us delicious freshly-made cardamom-flavoured tea his wife had gotten up at 3 AM to prepare for us...

Saturday, April 22, 2017


Just when the heat becomes unbearable, the rain trees and hongais fill up with leaves, sheltering us in their thick green cool shade.... we are granted mercy too at times, whether or not we deserve it.


Where have we reached in our evolution if we are embarrassed by someone breaking down in public, and turn away instead of reaching out and holding them?

We empathize with hunger, poverty, disease, disability – but we do not want to acknowledge anyone “losing it”, cracking up mentally, emotionally. Why?

Why is it the greatest shame, to cry in public? Why does it destroy the entire edifice of our respectability in a second?

What is so shameful about suffering?


 “When I tried to hug her, she’d tell me it was too hot for hugs. So I learned to stop trying. We never had conversations. I thought it was normal. It was all I knew. I always thought the relationship between a mother and a child was about giving and receiving orders.

But when I was ten years old, I went to a friend’s house to do a school project. At first I remember feeling sorry for him. His family was so poor. There was almost nothing in the house. But when we walked inside, his mom gave him such a big hug. And she was so happy to see him.

And that was the saddest moment of my life. Because I never knew that was something you could have."

(Rio de Janeiro, Brazil), Humans of New York


Every morning for a month, I was woken up by the incessant chatter of the rosy starlings, who must now be on their way back to Europe, flying across thousands of miles, passing over so many landscapes, always together ....

To have been placed in the path of such beauty……… 

Wednesday, March 29, 2017


For Patrick, who passed away before I could show him this, the most ordinary and predictable of miracles.


Stop. And listen: