Thursday, December 29, 2016

197: 150 books on my shelf

For 2017, I have decided to plough through the 150 books on my shelf. Read some, re-read some others, maybe be stoic about getting through the titles I picked up because I desperately wanted to improve myself, etc. Anyway, here's the list and I have decided that, from this list, I will mainly read fiction and an interesting book on history:

1.       ‘The Alienist’ by Caleb Carr
2.       Gather together in my name by Maya Angelou
3.       Jitterbug Perfume by Tom Robbins
4.       Seducing the demon, Writing for y life by Erica Jong
5.       Mumbai Noir – edited by Altaf Tyrewaala
6.       Blink by Malcolm Gladwell
7.       The Fifth Horseman by Larry Collins and Dominique Lapierre
8.       The Kept Woman and other stories by Kamala Das
9.       Bombay, meri jaan edited by Jerry Pinto and Naresh Fernandes
10.   One Thousand Gifts by Voskamp
11.   Joseph Anton by Salman Rushdie
12.   On Beauty by Zadie Smith
13.   Two Years, Eight Months, and Twenty Eight Nights by Salman Rushdie
14.   Queen by Alex Haley and David Stevens
15.   Business Sutra by Devdutt Pattnaik
16.   Switch by Chip and Dan Heath
17.   The Glass Bead Game by Herman Hesse
18.   Jennifer Government by Max Barry
19.   The Fault in our Stars by John Green
20.   Haroun and the Sea of Stories by Salman Rushdie
21.   Girl Reading by Katie Ward
22.   The Female of the Species by Lionel Shriver
23.   Pastpresent by Amruta Dongray
24.   The Secret Lives of Sisters by Linda Kelsey
25.   Big Magic by Elizabeth Gilbert
26.   A Course in Miracles
27.   Twenties Girl by Sophie Kinsella
28.   Ageless Body, Timeless Mind by Deepak Chopra
29.   Women and the weight loss tamasha by Rujuta Diwekar
30.   The Late Child by Larry McMurtry
31.   My Sister’s Keeper by Bernardine Kennedy
32.   Sophie’s World by Jostein Gardner
33.   Love in the time of cholera by Gabriel Garcia Marquez
34.   The Fire Starter Sessions by Danielle Laporte
35.   The Greatness Guide by Robin Sharma
36.   Insights into Vedanta
37.   Salsa and Chips by Daniel Reeves
38.   Einstein’s God by Krista Tippett
39.   Running from Safety by Richard Bach
40.   The Pilgrimage by Paulo Coelho
41.   The Tenderness of Wolves by Stef Penney
42.   The Satanic Verses by Salman Rushdie
43.   Skipping Christmas by John Grisham
44.   Women who run with the wolves by Clarissa Pinkola
45.   The coming war between Russia and China by Harrisson E. Salisbury
46.   To the Lighthouse by Virginia Woolf
47.   Luka and the Fire of Life by Salman Rushdie
48.   The King’s Speech by Mark Logue and Peter Conradi
49.   American Buffalo by David Mamet
50.   Fight Club by Chuck Palahnuik
51.   The Post Birthday World by Lionel Shriver
52.   Writing to Heal the Soul by Susan Zimmerman
53.   Invisible Cities by Italo Calvino
54.   India’s Struggle for Independence by Bipin Chandra, Mridula Mukherjee, Aditya Mukherjee, Sucheta Mahajan, K.N. Panikar
55.   Going to the movies by SyD Field
56.   The Hunger Games by Suzanne Collins
57.   Tender is the night by Scott Fitzgerald
58.   Art and Lies by Jeanette Winterson
59.   Godman by Kirpal Singh
60.   The Birth House by Ami McKay
61.   Two Lives by Vikram Seth
62.   Guns, Germs, and Steel by Jared Diamond
63.   Anderson’s Fairy Tales by Hans Christian Andersen
64.   Book Lover by Jennifer Kaufman and Karen Mack
65.   On Late Style by Edward W. Said
66.   Chanakya’s 7 Secrets of Leadership by Radhakrishnan Pillai and D. Sivanandhan
67.   Jung: Selected writings (Introduced by Anthony Storr)
68.   The Bronte Project by Jennifer Vandever
69.   Shobhaa at Sixty by Shobhaa De
70.   Sacred Games by Vikram Chandra
71.   Complete works of Shakespeare
72.   Autobiography of a Yogi by Paramahansa Yogananda
73.   From a Buick 8 by Stephen King
74.   Complete stories by Dorothy Parker
75.   Alchemy edited by Sheba Karim
76.   The Human Stain by Philip Roth
77.   The No. 1 Ladies Detective Agency
78.   Celebrations: Rules of Peace and Prayer by Maya Angelou
79.   A Case of exploding mangoes by Mohammed Hanif
80.   Selected poems by Christina Rossetti
81.   Foucault’s Pendulum by Umberto Eco
82.   Size 12 is not Fat, Size 14 is not fat either – the Meg Cabot omnibus
83.   Selected poems by William Blake
84.   No Full Stops in India by Mark Tully
85.   The Desire Map by Danielle LaPorte
86.   Marketing Management by Kotler, Keller, Koshy, Jha
87.   Arion and the Dolphin by Vikram Seth
88.   Brave New World by Aldous Huxley
89.   Persuasion by Jane Austen
90.   Sprig Muslin by Georgette Heyer
91.   Poems by Sylvia Plath
92.   Specimen Days by Michale Cunningham
93.   What would apple do? By Dirk Beckmann
94.   Stuffed by Patricia Volk
95.   The Last Temptation of Christ by Kazantzakis
96.   Lust for life by Irving Stone
97.   Tilak and Gokhale by Irving Stone
98.   The Temple of my familiars by Alice Walker
99.   August is a wicked month by Edna O’Brien
100.                        Snow by Orhan Pamuk
101.                        Citizen’s Rising by David Hoffman
102.                        The Alchemy of Desire by Tarun Tejpal
103.                        The Checklist Manifesto by Atul Gawande
104.                        Norwegian Wood by Haruki Murakami
105.                        Open by Andre Agassi
106.                        Deep Work by Cal Newport
107.                        The Magic by Rhonda Bryne
108.                        Love and Longing in Bombay by Vikram Chandra
109.                        Dandelion Wine by Ray Bradbury
110.                        The Handmaid’s Tale by Margaret Atwood
111.                        The Poorhouse Fair by John Updike
112.                        Narcissus and Goldmund by Hermann Hesse
113.                        Zorba the Greek by Nikos Kazantzakis
114.                        Secrets of Mind Power by Harry Lorayne
115.                        Modern Sociological Theory byM. Francis Abraham
116.                        The teachings of Don Juan: A Yaqui Way of Knowledge by Carlos Castaneda
117.                        Genome by Matt Ridley
118.                        Yuganta by Irawati Karve
119.                        E-cubed by Pam Grout
120.                        On writing by Stephen King
121.                        Act like a success, think like a success by steve Harvey
122.                        Bombay stories by Manto
123.                        The miracle of water by Masaru Emoto
124.                        Akbar by G.B. Malleson
125.                        Anywhere but here by Mona Simpson
126.                        Naked by David Sedaris
127.                        Maximum City by Suketu Mehta
128.                        The devotion of suspect x by keigo higashimo
129.                        Gal by Ruthie Bolton
130.                        Hard Choices by Hillary Clinton
131.                        A Suitable Boy by Vikram Seth
132.                        Change your thoughts, change your life by Dr. Wayne Dyer
133.                        Greatest works of Kahlil Gibran
134.                        Story by Robert McKee
135.                        Zen in the art of writing by Ray Bradbury
136.                        Art and Science of meditation by Dr. Newton Kondaveti
137.                        The Diary of a Young girl by Anne Frank
138.                        Interpret your dreams by Elizabeth Scott
139.                        Black Coffee by Agatha Christie
140.                        Under the banyan tree by Thich Nhat Hanh
141.                        Vinegar Hill by A. Manette Ansay
142.                        Empowering your soul through meditation by Rajinder singh
143.                        Galapagos by Kurt Vonnegut
144.                        Twilight in Delhi by Ahmed Ali
145.                        What everyone should know about Islam and Muslims by Suzanne Haneef
146.                        Rework: Change the way you work forever by Jason Fried and David Heinemeier Hansson
147.                        The Wallcreeper by Nell Zink
148.                        Behind the beautiful forevers by Katherine Boo

149.                        Worlds together, worlds apart: a history of the world


Worked solidly today but there was some unanticipated work. So there is unfinished business to take care of tomorrow. Lots of it but that's okay. I think I will just sit down and make a schedule. It will be good.

I'm having a really great feeling about how this year will end and how 2017 will pan out.

Got my car for a spin today and it was gorgeous. (My car was in Bombay all this while. I got it now and it's scrumptious.) Mom is here so we went to Peter Donuts for an after-dinner coffee.

Wore my chocolate brown, cotton off-shoulder top from H&M in Pune. Looked pretty nice.

There are lots of books to read. Tons of nice clothes that I suddenly unearthed from my cupboard. Have planned an excellent New Year's eve with pasta and mushrooms and some kind of a wild salad. And maybe a nice, healthy dessert - I'm thinking something involving jaggery.

Life's good!

Wednesday, December 28, 2016


And every day I will create something that I love. Nothing else is as important as this.

Tuesday, December 27, 2016


It was so much fun waking up with a couple of friends in the house. We had coffee and chatted and then they both left. It's good to have friendship and companionship I think. Intend to make time for more of this in life. But for the next few years, it ill be work over everything else.

December is ending and there are still a few days left. Wonder what kind of magic unfolds. I do think, though, that something sparkly will happen.

Monday, December 26, 2016


A Christmas party was had. Two of my friends are sleeping in the home while I sip some coffee and type this out before I begin working on an assignment.

It was a quietish party. Got in touch with a couple of pals from my earlier workplace. A pal from Bombay came over. My really sweet neighbor loaned me her fir tree and we snazzed it up with all sorts of tinsel.  A handsome, golden reindeer was stuck at the bottom of the tree, there were tiny snowmen in top hats, pretty angels suspended from branches., and a swirl of the glittering, green streamer around the tree and its branches. People came in. It was a last minute do so there were people who came in and there were those who couldn't make it. There were some more who declined. So, for a moment when I was pouring out the wine and warming slices of plum cake, I wondered if this too was destiny. Who comes, who stays away. As I write all this now - a cold draft coming in through the windows, a hot cup of coffee, the home silent and full with sleeping friends - I get the sense of what I saw in the film 'Collateral Beauty' today - it doesn't matter...who comes, who stays - because nothing remains. Except a vague sense that whatever it was, it was good.

Hope you all had a gorgeous Christmas!

Sunday, December 25, 2016


24th December.

Roses and candles on the table along with wine glasses.

Spotted a centipede crossing a dark, dusty path on the way to buy port.

Spicy daal, rice, and koftas made with banana flowers followed by wine.

Friend visits.

Neighbor lends us a tree.

Wore a magenta top and a pair of blue pants. Thought I looked good. Also shampooed hair. Felt very princess-y.

Nice plum cake.

With lots of deep affection to everyone who's reading this - Merry Christmas!

Friday, December 23, 2016


It's feeling a little hard today. it's feeling a little too emotional. I'm glad Ma is coming. For right now, there is a cup of tepid tea, uneaten breakfast, and slight fever. Am sure it will pass.

Inhale. Exhale. Smile.

Created this on Canva with a quote I found on Pinterest


It is interesting how one can have such sharp ups and downs not moving out of the house. I suppose it was an interesting day. Ending it now with a deep appreciation of my hibiscus plant. It blooms strong and orange. It is peeking out of the balcony, seeking out a world where other heroes bloom too. I was away for over a month and my maid didn't water my plants. But the flowers have thrived. The hibiscus has grown and it is so pretty and cheery that I want to cuddle it to sleep.

I felt really down in the evening. Then I felt happy. Then I felt hurt again. But looking at the hibiscus, I feel peace.

My beautiful, orange, soft-petaled blissful plant of be-ness.

Thursday, December 22, 2016

Something I came across on LinkedIn

I’ve found that it's of some help to think of one's moods and feelings about the world as being similar to weather: Here are some obvious things about the weather: It's real.
You can't change it by wishing it away.
If it's dark and rainy it really is dark and rainy and you can't alter it. 
It might be dark and rainy for two weeks in a row. BUT It will be sunny one day.
It isn't under one's control as to when the sun comes out, but come out it will. 
One day.

- Stephen Fry


Today I spilled a lot of milk in the kitchen. I was also pretty careless in other areas in the kitchen. Left a pan on a lit stove for too long until something started to burn. Very grateful that nothing more serious happened.

Wore a red silk top that I quite liked. It is slightly ruffled at the neck, has buttons at the back, and has a splotchy print in black. Looks like a dressed up Rorschach pattern.

Had a great conversation with a friend this morning.

Such harsh voices yelling into the night. 

Wednesday, December 21, 2016

206, 205

Today was a good day. Had gone for a swell bike ride yesterday and came back home to some wine and veggie cutlets.

This morning, went to an office for some work. Then returned to a great lunch with a friend. We went to a place called 'Urban Foundry' close by and it was so nice! I loved their masala omlette and their watermelon and feta cheese salad. It was a great afternoon. My friend and I spent a couple of hours and when we stepped out, it was early evening. The light was gorgeous and my friend took me to show his new home. It was right on the other side of Pune - and one could see pretty, pale, grey hills along the way.

Came back home and slept off a little bit.

Felt full. A little sad. A little empty. And so ready for the gentle passing on of the year.

Monday, December 19, 2016

209, 208, 207

Some days have lapsed and I haven't written. Very systematically then, here are the main things that stand out in my head:

1. I have come to Pune to celebrate, live in, and appreciate my beautiful home some more during this excellent time of the year.

2. I walked from the bus stop to my house, which is a good 40 minute walk. Bought a white carnation and a bottle of Port wine. A friend was coming to stay over and I thought we could dwell on the soft luscious petals of the flower and have port. We had port. No-one dwelt on the flower.

3. As soon as I stepped in, I was filled with so much beatific goodness. It felt so peaceful and joyous. A giant hibiscus grew in my balcony and the plant with the mandarin oranges had erupted with a dozen citric suns. Excellent signs.

4. Then I stepped into the bathroom of the master bedroom and had a heart attack. There was a huge pigeon that fluttered so hard that it almost broke the mirror. It had made a nest on the floor and I was shocked. Called up a friend in Pune who heard me out and in a very steady and sober voice, told me what to do. She was in the middle of her sister's sangeet so I am not sure what the eavesdroppers made of the talk they overheard.

5. While sweeping the nest, I noticed something pointy and leafy in one of the shelves. There was a smaller nest with two small eggs. Damn. I felt bad about flushing the eggs away but I didn't know what else to do. I prayed for them though.

6. Finished a doodle session today on a storyboard I have been working on. This is one of the favorite parts of my job - seeing text translated into images. It feels like singing a song in different languages.

7. Some interesting projects will begin soon.

8. Came across Marisa Peers, a master hypnotherapist online. Would strongly recommend checking out her free hypnotherapy videos. 

Friday, December 16, 2016


It was a beautiful evening yesterday. Met up with a friend at Nariman Point and we went to Theos first, the terrace of Sea Palace next (which is fabulous, by the way) and finished off with coffee at Starbucks.

I had taken the train to and from Vashi and a local is so much better than the metro. Or maybe that's how I like it - anything open over anything closed. :-) I remember being in Goa with someone. We were having a beverage in a posh place. This person told me how excellent it was to be sitting in front of a beautiful infinity pool. How nice to be able to afford all that so that you could avoid being on the beach and the polluted ocean. I longed for that smelly ocean though. It was an ocean.

Anyway, while returning, it was close to midnight and I stood by the door. The train picked up speed and there is this part in the local train journeys that I love - when it feels like you are hurtling down down a ear canal or something and you'll suddenly stop when you have lodged yourself in someone else's brain. (I see the city like that sometimes - a chaotic collation of neurons - a mad sort of collective consciousness - and a rusty local train to take you there.) But a double dollop of joy is when you are standing by the door and the wind is whipping your face and there's a train that is speeding parallelly in the opposite direction. You brace yourself and it whizzes past - all light and shifting, melding stripes of iron bars, with a shattering sound - and just like that it's done. You still have your own speed and your own night and your own panels of the world to pass by.

Something else happened that I want to write about.

Later perhaps.

Thursday, December 15, 2016


I had a good day today.

1. My father told me that he loves me. I don't know why he said it. Came from nowhere and as usual, I was awkward and shuffled out of the room. But now, looking back at my day, it feels good. Always a good day when you hear that you are loved.

2. Went for a walk this evening after 3 days of glutting.

3. Got some juicy writing work.

4. Had a cool conversation with someone who I will possibly be working with.

5. Finished work pretty early but will get started again soon.

6. Came across a list of books I want!

Tuesday, December 13, 2016


Texted my landlord that I am moving out by mid next month. So distracted that I am not able to focus on a few screens that I ought to be designing. Wrote a script for a commercial and it was good. Not too much feedback on the first version so wrapped it up quick.

Got a call from a friend and we are possibly meeting up day after for a night on the town.

Then there are a million things to do through the night. Have already asked for an extension of the submission date.

Argument with family so now I am sitting in a separate room. 

Some travel plans are being made - one to Ladakh and the other to Rann. Let's see which ones work out.

Anyway, one day at a time. One breath at a time.

Monday, December 12, 2016


I intend to hang out with different people - people with ambition. Even if they are slightly ruthless and slightly hard. I think I've had enough of a life being soft and sensitive. And I've definitely had enough of being around people talking stuff like 'it's good to have balance' and 'work is not life and life is more than work' and all that stuff that has started sounding like shit.


For at least the next 365 days, I'll let ambition have its way.

215, 214

Over the weekend, caught up with my friends over lunch at a Japanese restaurant, Kofuku. It's a nice place and we ate a lot. Was meeting my friends after a really long time and it felt...I don't know...a little ghostly. It felt like I was watching a play of shadows on cane curtains and that play involved me meeting friends from long ago. It didn't feel real. For a  long time, I felt very...woolly and gauzy. Very disconnected. I couldn't even imagine why I'd have ever bonded with this group years ago. (We go back a long way, over ten years.) I don't know when specifically my feelings changed but I think, as far as I was concerned, it had. In fact, I was the first one at the restaurant and while I waited, it felt like I'd paid for a ticket to a show and the drama would begin. And the reviews were ambivalent. Somewhere amongst all the talk about food and cities and someone's new project or questioning on why i am not on what's app or whatever, something really seemed to...gape.

Maybe this is what growing apart feels like - moving shadows.

Over the course of the lunch, though, I noticed a friend make a face because she didn't like the green tea ice-cream I was serenading so much. I talked to another one in the dark of a movie hall about her favorite love story. Another friend showed me a picture of a bluebell from her trip. The friend I stayed over with - showed me the specific nuisances that the Uber app puts in the way of eager customers.

I think, for me, when all those tiny personal, individual details dribbled over - that is when the shadows started taking a more solid form. Little moments spent with each of them separately, in a little panel of time that did not come fused with being in a team. I think that, maybe, my days of being in a group are done. Even if it is with people I feel affection for. I had a good time with my friends as the day wore on. When, with each one, I individually remembered the laughs I'd had some forgotten summer.

Maybe that's why we meet the pals from long ago. Because with each of them, you may remember the person they were. And through those memories, you may understand yourself just a little bit better.

Thursday, December 08, 2016


Finished work on time and was wondering how to unwind now. It would be nice to go for coffee or a film but I do have a deadline tomorrow and I think I should be rested. I think maybe I will just write my diary tonight. Had a really weird dream yesterday about a few things not going right. I don't remember the specifics but I woke up with a feeling of discomfort and dissatisfaction. There is a woman who comes to sweep the room at 5 a.m. That is how early people come in to work in Bombay. She is just so irritating. Or actually no. She is not irritating. She is just early, punctual, noisy, and can't speak Hindi. I hate waking up in a foul mood.

Anyway, I am usually short of sleep and my eye has been hurting so I feel I will just write for a bit or since I am writing here, I'll just watch Friends and sleep off.

LinkedIn informs me that I have completed one year of being an independent writer. Interestingly lots of people have congratulated me on that. :-) Most of them I don't know. I think they are responding to an optimistic situation of a writer having made it this far? Anyway, one can't get attached to these things too much. Situations change.

On Pinterest, came across a really beautiful word: Mad'ouk. It means toughened or hardened by experience.


1. Finished my work on time yesterday.

2. Went for a walk yesterday without music. Didn't feel like running.

3. Ate a lot yesterday. Lot of red rice and spicy soyabean curry.

4. Had a great conversation with a friend.

5. Feeling a little frustrated and upset about something.

I wonder if there is ever any way to end all struggle with the self.

Wednesday, December 07, 2016


I was thinking about what needed to be understood about things. Why they happen? How do you wait?

How do you wait? Yes. That'san important question. How do you wait?

Tuesday, December 06, 2016


1. I heard somewhere yesterday that music listened to at 432 Hertz is good for meditation. I loved this piece: There is something to the statement, I feel. The heart opens up.

2. I'd gone running later than usual yesterday. It was so good except that the dogs that come out late at night seemed pretty bemused with imposters like me. Eh. It;s fun to run keeping on eye on the crescent moon.

3. There was very tasty dinner prepared last night - a spicy bessan curry, daal, and gobhi-aloo.

4. I downloaded an app called 'Bliss'. Lives up to its name. Very pretty. Like it.

5. I never used to work to music earlier but soft piano instrumentals are really nice.

Monday, December 05, 2016

Could not wait until tonight

In 2017, I intend to have a different life. Very different life. There will certainly be new people and new projects. And there will be some furious writing. I will interact with very very few people and I will focus on the quality of my interactions.

I have a set of text books that I will read and summarize. One of them is a book on Trade and History that I bought from Chicago. Another is a text book on Research methodology that was prescribed reading in my graduation. That is good.

Also, I definitely intend to establish some form of a very strong creative collaboration. This I am very particular about.


I see this life and raise it to wolf.

Sunday, December 04, 2016


At around 12 today, I got SO SO bored with Facebook. It was sickening. So I closed that down and opened this instead and am typing. Now I'm stuck. I don't know what to type on about. Maybe I will write about the work I am procrastinating about (what is the correct preposition to go on here?) By the way, I just took a break and finished off that work.

Yesterday, I read an article on M.K. Gandhi's last day. It was written by his grandson, Tushar Gandhi. While reading it, it struck me that it is quite the ultimate privilege - to have the details of your last day recorded. Tushar writes about the meal that Gandhi ate before his death - two limes, three amlas, some curd, some juice, a little daal. He was recovering from a fast at the time/ He had spoken with Nehru. There were agitations outside the Birla house. They were chanting, "Let Gandhi die."  Nehru, who was visiting Gandhi at the time, lunged towards the mob in anger. The mob dispersed. 

Tushar writes about the things Gandhi spoke about to his aides. Some banal, some significant. Around that time, the country itself was going through a churn. India owed Pakistan money from the undivided exchequer that India was not willing to release because of the fightings in Kashmir. He joked with the two women who were always with him.

He was late for his prayers by 5 minutes. On the way, a man stopped to touch his feet. With folded hands, he bowed and shot Gandhi 3 times.

This entire piece was maybe 4 pages with photos. 

How many things end and not everything gets recorded. But isn't it interesting to wonder about what would be going on when you pass away?

Saturday, December 03, 2016


I watched Kahaani today and I loved it. Vidya Balan is very good, of course, and the story is a tough one to tell. But it's navigated skilfully. Also, I loved the way the film is shot. It' atmospheric. You imagine the cold air of Kalimpong or the musty air of Kolkata stuck to Vidya Balan's sarees as she moves through the story. There's a scene where she's sitting huddled in her little room in Kalimpong, lights switched off, eyes wide open in fear, face streaked with tears - when her lover knocks on the door outside. He's come to say goodbye. She doesn't open the door.

That moment, to me, felt really powerful. It's amazing how much darkness can be around you when you make that choice that will take you to the sun. You don't know when and how. You just go with your gut that there may be light somewhere.

Thursday, December 01, 2016


1. Filled one invoice yesterday.

2. Had a skirmish regarding a timeline.

3. Surprised myself by being a little calm about a discussion.

4. Noticed a couple of serendipities.

5. Nursed a bad headache and a bad back.

6. Tried to do planks. Did 120 seconds with breaks. That perhaps caused the back to be bad.

7. Not that I had anything to do with it but November ended.