Like. Love. Life.

One can spend a lifetime in love without knowing how to truly love another. One can spend a lifetime trying to find love in possessing or belonging. One can spend. One can love to repair. One can be the rogue that another loves to repair. One can build walls of institutions to hold on to what one believes is one’s own. One can break walls so that new walls can be built only to be broken down again. One can bruise and cling and ache and still not know the freedom that lies beyond.

Sometimes a bell rings or a bird sings outside your window or a traffic light changes and you do not notice. Sometimes you do. Sometimes, like a dream within a dream, no matter how hard you are shaken you do not awaken. Sometimes it takes another person to wake you up to who you were meant to be. Sometimes, life waits and waits and waits. Sometimes a bell rings.

Love like oceans can drown you in delusion or reef you till you glimpse the rocks you are about to be smashed down upon. Love like deserts can hypnotize you with its beauty till you parch and slip knowingly into the reality of your delirium. Love like mountains can be humbling. Love can show you how helpless and small you are before its greatness.

On this wonderful day, I give thanks to life for teaching me with love.

4 Easy Gourmet Non-Vegetarian Recipes

The festive season is getting thicker and thicker, and I have been wondering what I can put out to express my thankfulness for all the wonderful things that my life is made up of. Most of you know how much I love food (Subho's Jejune Diet, remember?) so I thought I will put together some of my older recipe links in one place for you to browse and choose from. Enjoy.


When it comes to a special meal, or when friends or family are visiting, and you feel like cooking something special, do you wonder what to cook? Do you go online to search for recipes? Maybe in your RSS reader items or in your bookmarked pages? Well I do! In spite of having a fair collection of cookbooks, food magazines, crumbly newspaper clippings of recipes, oil-stained heirloom notebooks and scraps of jottings, I still look up gourmet food blogs and recipes on the internet when it comes to making something special. Not surprising, since the internet actually evolved out of a recipe sharing network by the wives of the scientists working on the ARPANET project!! Look it up, I kid you not.

The only problem is that the really gourmet recipes out there are terribly elaborate and complicated recipes, with way too many stages and steps, and the simple four-step ones ones, well, they don’t quite exude that “special” feeling. The common understanding of a festive Indian meal also means several dishes, with a preface and an afterword. It really is challenging to come up with a simple, one dish and an accompaniment meal that will be remembered for being really special.

As I wrote in my post on Frugal Living Healthy Eating, living simply doesn’t have to mean a life of abstinence and self denial. The same principle applies in the case of recipes. Special does not have to mean complicated, and even complicated doesn’t have to be complicated if you can break it down to main processes and plan ahead a little.

Here are four meat recipes, all borrowed or handed down, that you can use to impress anyone. With a little tweak they work equally well with fowl and lamb. They are simple and unique, perfect for a special occasion. Your guests will go home convinced you spent hours in the kitchen and that you are a closet cordon bleu samurai. Try them and let me know how they turn out.

How SJD Got Kissed, Got Wild, and Still Remains a Handsome Frog

What is it that makes one blog gain huge readership while another equally well written one languishes? What makes one particular post on a blog go viral while others on the same topic don’t attract any attention? Why do significant numbers of people read blogs that are in the underdog category, while blogs that are in the more popular categories like food, fashion, and technology struggle to find readers? These are questions that have been going through my mind as this blog grows in readership, in traffic, and in quality of visits. I have not written a post on blogging in a very long time, and thought this was an appropriate time to visit the topic again. I trust that it will benefit those who toil on in the conviction that their efforts matter. For those of you who already know all this stuff, please do pass it on, either by sharing this post, or by writing a similar post yourself for your readers.
Recently, daily traffic on this blog crossed the 1000 page views mark. Of course, it was a blimp, caused by a recent post getting shared many times over, but the fact remains that the recent stats for this blog have surpassed my wildest imagination. This post, my 201st, is to share some of the things that seem to have worked to make this happen. Some of it might sound hackneyed but the principle used is that of “if it works it belongs.” This post is written from the perspective of this blog and its “underdog” niche of anti-consumerism and ethical living, but the lessons are universal for all genres and niches. Enjoy.

1. Content

 - The Voice of the Buddha

Your blog is your opportunity to use your voice to lead your readers to whatever it is that you wish them to be led to. In my case it is being able to live happy, successful and meaningful lives without robbing the future. This blog has been doing that in its trademark long-winded (most posts here are in the 2000 words range) manner over the last few years, trying its best to keep the post as consistently engaging as possible. Develop your own voice, say what you wish to say, and say it over and over again in as many ways as possible without sounding repetitive. As I wrote in an earlier post, it should be such that when the reader reads your post, they feel you are saying exactly what they had wanted to hear all this time, without consciously recollecting that they heard it from you in the first place. Original and unique content is the most important thing that will get you readers who value your voice.

How to Photograph Food: 10 Tips

I am neither a professional photographer, nor have I studied the art of light formally, but I love the things that a camera can do, and I enjoy using it to express myself creatively. Every time someone clicks like on my photos on Facebook, my confidence goes one notch higher. This includes people who click like for an album of 30 carefully redacted photographs by me and then click like on another post of mine the very next second. Maybe Facebook should learn from Indiblogger on how to curb boundless liking.

My understanding of photography is ultra-basic. I have struggled (and often failed) to understand much of what is written about photography – things like stops, white balance, histograms and many other terms that are refusing to readily come to mind. I like to look, keep fooling around till I like what I am looking at, and click, and hope that it will make the viewer think about what they see in a new or different way. That, approximately, is the sum of my point-and-shoot philosophy.

One place where I enjoy taking pictures is in the kitchen. While the missus puts together things and aromas that promise a great meal, I make things difficult for her by insisting on pauses, rearrangement, angles, and action replays. So when the need came for some food photography for a personal project, I naturally raised my hand. My selection for the project was not based on my skill but on the fact that I came at no charge. Well almost no charge, since the havoc that it unleashed on the home for the next two weeks must have been very costly. Of course, I have no clue.

This post is to share some lessons learned the hard way. It is not a post that will make you a food photographer of the professional type. It is not for the kind of photography where you have a paid-for, ever-generous kitchen staff, a full range of studio lights, and a gang of helpers. Neither is it a comprehensive guide to the pitfalls that lie in wait for food photographers, but only a report on some of the things that I faced in my work, and ways to avoid them. Hopefully, you will be emboldened after reading this post to go into the kitchen and announce your intentions. Wish you all the best. I am not responsible for anything that happens after that.

Million Magi

Climbing dirty rough-hewn stairs at the end of a dimly lit yet busy alley
I reach road number one, bauble-shiny, filled with fresh flowers and cars
In an urban cool mannequined window I see my huddled hoodied self
And know in an instant the magic of being an anthology, the very best of.

I am the spirit of my times, anonymous and numberless, I am occupy, I am love
Seeing the cheer of the festive season and the despairing faceless alleyways
I am suddenly more than, more real than, more people than I ever have been
And I hear the earth calling, the bodhisattvas of the earth calling, a million magi.

I am revulsion and compassion, I am the frenzy of the possible, silent and unmoving
An unwashed  child nagging at the stop light, intent that someone stops, drops a coin,
Watching cold cars go by leaving warm trails of light in the sodium vapor of the night
I am the face at every stoplight, the face that haunts you every time you close your eyes.

I take a turn at Midtown Mall to head back home, where the garbage bins overflow
The mother, the Empress, the Ram and Rahim, too old to play games anymore
Fidgety, enduring, the you that you do not know,  I am the dawn to the darkest of nights
The divine gold, my time is now, I am the countless that has become one, one million magi.

November 2, 2012
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