Saturday, May 21, 2011

One Cup at a Time

I came across this brilliant piece while browsing through my inbox yesterday. Instantly wished to share it with as many people as I could. Here goes:

My vision is to change the world one cup of tea at a time.

How? Consider where you are right now. In your body. In your heart. In your life. I’m guessing you’ve got dreams that you are striving for, and challenges to overcome. Somewhere, on paper or in your head there’s a list of projects that you chip away at day by day. Some projects are old and stagnant, and others are fresh and urgent.

For those of you not reading this, if you are not getting what you strive for in life then now is the time to do something different. Shatter the routine. Just stop and wake up and change. If you are reading this, then you are probably used to getting what you strive for. Continue on as you have been and chances are good that sooner or later your dreams will come true and your current challenges will yield to your efforts. What then?

When you achieve “it,” will you have more money? A bigger house? Flatter abs? More friends? Happier kids? A more loving partner? More leisure time? More happiness?

Now, imagine for a moment that everything is perfect right now, just as it is.

Imagine that, miraculously, all your dreams have come true and all your challenges overcome. You have arrived. Look around. Notice your body. Listen.

Breathe in.

And then out.

When all of your goals are hit and all of your challenges overcome, where will you be? Here. Now. Of course the future hasn’t happened. That means all your worries and what-ifs are just illusions and totally bogus. Tomorrow will always be tomorrow. And the past is past. Yesterday is forever gone. Whatever. Good, bad, or indifferent, it’s over and it will never happen again. All we have is now. This singular moment.

This is the gift you get for being alive.

If you can slow down enough to pay attention to the details of this moment then the basic goodness and raw joy of being alive is impossible to ignore.

For me, drinking tea is a reminder. The ritual preparing, serving, and drinking tea reminds me to slow down, to let my senses take over, and to let this moment flood the Now. The clatter of tea ware. The warmth of the cup. Hot steam swirling in the early morning sunlight from a cup of brilliant green sencha.

This ritual is a reminder I try to carry with me throughout the day. This is it. This one cup. This one moment. This one life.


Monday, May 16, 2011

Four men and a funeral

I love browsing through posters that Landmark stores puts up on display for sale. Of course, most of them are about comics / cartoons / football clubs / movies. In fact, I have bought a couple of them to be put up on the walls of my house whenever I finally can. Till then, the black and white image of Marlon Brando as the Godfather and the poster of the Batman logo shall stay in a corner of the house for me to muse over every time I steal a glance.

Coming back to the post at hand. On one of my recent visits to Landmark, I really loved this one particular poster of the Beatles where they're simply walking across a zebra crossing. I loved the free-wheeling 70s look and especially the fact that Paul McCartney is walking barefoot, giving the image a "let's just take a walk" feel.

I don't know what it was about the image which came back to me yesterday as I was about to hit search on Google for a new wallpaper for my laptop.

These four just look so relaxed taking a walk on a sunny London morning.

However, this wasn't it. I just *had* to find out more about when this picture was taken. Was it a promotional photograph? Or an album cover? Or just some newspaper photojournalist who landed the coup of the decade by getting The Beatles to pose for the Sunday morning edition?

So I searched and expectedly came across the answer on Wikipedia.

The picture is the cover image of the final album The Beatles did together, "Abbey Road". The picture is one amongst the six that photographer Iain Macmillan took during the ten minutes that he got with the legendary four on the morning of 8th August 1969. The four are walking across the Abbey Road crossing to the then EMI Studios (later renamed Abbey Road Studios).

I also found out why I had to take the trouble to search for the image; apparently this is the only "original UK Beatles album sleeve to show neither the artist name nor the album title on its front cover."

Expectedly, the image has achieved cult status. There is a website where people can send pics of themselves as they walk across the zebra crossing. Not to mention the website of Abbey Road Studios themselves who have a page simply titled "The Crossing" for their 'Visit' page and which has live video feeds of the crossing.

I was also unaware that back in 1969, an urban legend did the rounds that Paul McCartney actually died in a car crash in 1967 and was replaced by a look-alike. Of the various clues that the supporters of the rumour used was the cover image of Abbey Road, which they said symbolised a funeral procession and Lennon dressed in white symbolising a preacher.

Whatever the truth may be, one thing I'm sure of. I like this picture and would have never thought there was so much history attached to the image which is now my wallpaper.

Tuesday, May 03, 2011


Just couldn't go to sleep without sharing this awesome visualization of the Ardhanareshwar that I came across on Twitter some days ago.

Monday, May 02, 2011

Would you like a drink, Sir?

Who wouldn't love the concept of a manservant who took care of all the nitty-gritties of daily existence?

For a single bachelor living in Mumbai, I sure would love to have some extra time on my hands during the weekends, not to mention evenings after office on weekdays. Clothes to be washed, put out to dry and then ironed, meals to be prepared, dusting the house... I could clearly do with some help.

And if one is getting help after all, why not in style?

Why not have someone who not only ensures the book-shelf is always neatly arranged but also knows how to stir up a perfect Long Island Iced Tea as you come back home after a long day at the office? One who is there not only to offer a word of advice when requested but also to take care of the work on Saturday and Sunday mornings so that you can get happily sloshed the evening before.

Now, I haven't had the privilege of watching a live butler / valet (What's the difference? Read on...) in action but here are the three best fictional ones I have come across:

3. J.A.R.V.I.S. - At no. 3 is the artificial intelligence system which serves Tony Stark in the Iron Man films. JARVIS stands for Just Another Rather Very Intelligent System. Of course, the original Jarvis is Edwin Jarvis, manservant to Tony Stark and who later serves members of the Avengers Initiative (not to mention, also has a mildly romantic relationship with Peter "Spiderman" Parker's aunt, May Parker).

What I really liked about the film version of JARVIS was the spunk that the character has, the slight sarcasm in it's words as it serves Tony Stark with the coolest looking gadgets.

2. Alfred Pennyworth - Losing out the top spot very closely is "Batman's batman", Alfred Pennyworth. The man the Dark Knight trusts is obviously no ordinary mortal. Not only is he the caretaker of Wayne Towers but also keeps everything running smoothly in the Batcave in the absence of Batman and Robin.

A father-figure to Bruce Wayne, Alfred's continued jibes at him for not eating, sleeping and resting enough is the perfect wry-smile earner in a series which would be even more sombre were the Dark Knight left to fend for himself. An ex-actor, a military man, a self-taught surgical man and often the voice of reason to the various young boys who donned the mantle of Robin over the years, Alfred is the champion at home Batman cannot do without.

(Trivia: In the Pre-Crisis Batman series, Alfred's father's name is revealed to be Jarvis, a hat-tip to the very same gentleman at no. 3 on my list)

1. Reginald Jeeves - Now, there's a man! He's not a butler, but a valet, i.e. he serves a man and not a household. However, were the need to serve a family arise, as Bertie puts it, "he can buttle with the best of them."

Personally, no other fictional character has accounted for as many hold-your-stomach-laughing-bouts as Jeeves has. The inherent quality of being unperturbed by whatever Bertram Wooster throws at him is bound to charm even the coldest reader. The ability to out-think the cleverest machinations of an entire generation of cheats, scoundrels and aunts makes this man an enigma.

It is argued it must be all the fish that he consumes that gives him the legendary problem solving brains that he has. But wouldn't you kill for a valet who knows the recipe for the perfect get-me-up drink when you're suffering from a terrible hangover? What would you not do for a saviour who rescues you when you're stranded on an island and an angry goose is hell-bent on attacking you?

As the caption in the picture above reads, if everyone had a valet like Jeeves, there would be no wars. But just in case there is a war, I know I want Jeeves on my side.