In search of a home

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Hello all you beautiful and compassionate people out there,

My name is Kitu. I am 3 months old.I like to play, eat, sleep, run and jump now.

Am I not cute? What do you SAY?

ImageI presently live with Aakanksha, she found me on FC road one night, when I was being mistreated by people on the street. I was week, hurt and very scared. She saw me and brought me home.
20 days back I was weak and scared and suffered from hernia. Aakanksha took care of me, got me treated and today I enjoy good health and life is fun.

She spoils me, plays with me, but I have to live alone at home during the day when she goes to work.

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I am adorable, and very sweet, even the vet says I am a lovely kitty. Last week the vet gave me an injection and i cried. But soon after that I had a good time playing at home, got exhausted and dozed off on Aakanksha’s bed.

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I am growing now, and I have to stay indoor during the day, when Aakanksha goes to work. I miss her :(.

Aakanksha is looking for a family who can adopt me. A lovely caring compassionate family. who love me, take care of me, play with me, live with me, give me all the freedom in the world, and enjoy my naughtiness. I am spoiled too, I love sleeping next to my parents, so please consider my nature and habits before you extend your support towards me.

I presently live in Pune, but if my new parents are in Mumbai, Bangalore or Hyderabad also, I don’t mind travelling to unite with my new parents. Aakanksha is there to take me to places :).

If you feel you can make me a part of your life, please let me (Kitu) and Aakanksha know.

Reach us at: aakanksha.singh09@gmail.com  or if you like to hear my meow call me : 9975225882.

Love,

Kitu!

When Luxury suffocates!

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mine-DelhiWhy are we so conditioned to love luxury, the luxury of goods, of possession, of power and of dominance. Yesterday, i tuned to BBC World and they were moving in France trying to unfold the reason of “The French unhappiness”. When you have everything that you are supposed to possess and gain in life, when people are so helpful and supportive in rough times, what can still make you unhappy. I may not know what makes the French unhappy, but what I know is I am very uncomfortable with luxury of any kind. Instance, take me to a 5 star hotel suite, I must be marvelling at the decor, the king size bed and all the unnecessary stuff in such a large room, but I am struck with a feeling of indifference that slowly melts into an unpleasant mood. At this moment all I think off is, wastage, everything in this room is such a sheer waste. The thought triggers a series of questions, from the evil crime of participating in inequality towards the living and exploitation of natural world.

Personally, I am more of a person who is connected to self and the more deeper the self connection the more profound is the connection with others and nature. Places and pieces of luxury act as a disconnection for me from my inner self as well as the rest of the living world. The more the physical comforts i get the more uncomfortable my heart and mind become. And my sudden urge is to break up from luxury. As soon I do it I start feeling light-headed and hearted, as if I am again grounded to my roots, able to establish a lost connection. It feels like home-coming. This is not a new phenomenon, I have mostly been like this through life so far. When I try to find a logical reason I get something on the lines of how i am defining my needs and wants.

The lines are very thin and blurred between needs and wants. And the key may lie in distinguishing between these two. This is an age of smart sustainable living over the old ways of indulgent lifestyles. So, making a smarter choice is the key. All it needs is to just start asking the question, Don’t ask, Do I really need this or that thing, but ask Why do I need this or that thing? Slowly the lines start resurfacing and it is easier to make the smarter choice.

To me, my needs are few and I don’t take more than my share from this planet without forgetting to return as much as I can, back to Mother Earth. So luxury becomes undesirable and starts choking me inside.

Capturing Perceptions on Veganism

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I am not different for the sake of it, I am who I am and you can name it as per your perception.

Over the course of time, I have seen from common onlookers to professional practitioners questioning out of curiosity and drawing  conclusions out of their limited wealth of information on why I choose and what I choose.

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When it comes to Veganism doctors are the most curious, because it seems patients are assumed to submit their faith and trust without inquiring much, and simply nod to what the doctor says.
I met a doc,
He suggested what I can eat and prescribing dairy is just normal, I politely told me I don’t “use” animals(human/non-human), esp because the modern industry exploits and treats animals with sheer cruelty. We have few more exchanges and we have some food for his thought.
Further
Doc:Tells me I should exercise regularly
Me:I am learning and practising  Iyengar way of yoga. He is convinced its good.
Doc:What do you do for a living?
Me: I was a software techie but I do writing work.
He didn’t ask me the next question. Infact, jumped the and gun and proclaims “Are you following some sort of cult culture and do you also do chantings”. I was taken aback with that and my immediate reaction was, “offcourse not”. He is an homoeopath and was helping me to get some relief for my daily allergic colds an year back. Thankfully, I am cured without any treatments and medications now.

At a similar instance I went to one of the Ayurvedic docs as I had some itchy skin allergy, after an examination he ruled out any infection and confirmed it was due to insect bite, my diet choice was his prime subject of curiosity. It was a good talk and we bid our farewell with the optimistic view that he is going to search out on the subject matter and may call me to talk further, if I has no issues with that. Unfortunately he never turned back.

Then there is this  view of the ordinary folks who know that being vegan means to deprive oneself of the pleasures of food, and all that vegans eat is soya.

Oh no! Please spare me, I am not a health freak or I am not coping with a life crisis and hunting for nirvana. All I am doing is making a choice towards how I treat and impact other living forms as well as how I am  nourishing my complete self from physical to mental to spiritual. I am just another common person who chooses how she is living and leading her life. Isn’t that just as simple and clear.

Bubbles or Waves: You Choose!

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This post is not intended for just expressing something rather the purpose is to share an idea, a feeling, a sentiment that somewhere connects two lovers. It’s a personal view that has grown out of observations from surroundings.

When two people come together out of accidental situations hardly without a thoughtful or a meaningful engagement and to get involved for no sensible reason they still form a relation with each other. But such relations pass off, the original temptation or indulgence is lost with time and slowly as the surprise and newness associated with a new person starts to wither away, so does the interest and the steam of closeness tends to die. Such relations are called affairs, they sprout like effervescence and die within no time.  Have you noticed the bubbles on the surface of boiling water or the bubbles of air in a shallow pond. These relations are like those bubbles which rise and die. Such type of unexpected meetings of two people can be termed as “Bubble Relations”.

Now comes the communion between two people who respect each other for who they are, love, care and share for and with each other. There lies an understanding and an unspoken bond between them. They don’t do anything extraordinary each day but live the ordinary with full zeal, triumph and gusto thus making the ordinary extraordinary. They don’t embrace to set a fire storm but that embrace is the melting of two souls and the flow of feelings generates the effect of tides in a sea, sometimes low, sometimes high and those tides do not die. Moreover beneath those tides lies the vast treasure of love, understanding and mutual respect that is limitless like the unknown depth of the ocean.

So choose your life, choose what you want. it’s in your hands where you want to fall.

Where did I go?

It been more than 60 days that I found myself caught in a spiral of small events but eventually I am breathing alive. So the new is that I have stayed back in Pune and I am glad that it happened, for several reasons. I have a stable job now with an IT company that works very differently than the usual corporate style. It’s a breather because I find myself a misfit in the dog eat dog style of work culture.

Secondly, I happened to spend a good 25 days with my parents after a gap of 14 months. It was more of a family reunion. My choices from choosing veganism to the minimalistic lifestyle and an open renouncement of the social norms have developed some major cracks in my personal life which I am glad to have been mended now. I may not be liked but I am accepted for who I am and I cannot ask for more. It’s good to be at peace with my people and certainly makes my life easier. A big relief from the psychological burden of loosing on too many people.

With the tide turning in favor of me staying in Pune I had to hunt a house and setup the place from scratch and I swear it’s a hell of a job to rent a decent place for a single woman in this city. The Indian attitude towards a woman (without a man) choosing to live on her own terms is extremely awful. This makes things pretty difficult, but then i cant help being the myself. So, finally I all almost set in the new place.

With these pieces falling in place,  I can return to blogging with new experiences and changes that constantly keep taking place in the playground of life.

Fasting Times

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This time of the year is marked by religious festivities and though we associate only foodism with celebrations but fasts also form an integral part of pre-festive spirit. Though fasting is a purely scientific and natural process but we have only inherited the ritualistic form of it. Given the present scenario of “Eat more spend more” with the mantra of “We live to eat” rather the other way round even the fast practices are not able to give much benefits. For observing short or long-term fast its important to have a pre fasting and post fasting stage of moderate and considerate diet.

With the recently concluded Ramadan, and sharavan month I was/am intrudged by the concept of fasting. Another contributing factor for the interest in the subject is I am living with a naturopathy, ayurvedic practitioner. Given my interests in natural and holistic living we both have found some common grounds to indulge in day-to-day discussions.

A day back she asked me to read a book Efficacy of Fasting, as soon as i finished reading it the essence of fasting made so much sense. The belief of nature cure lies in the self-healing power of the body and fasting enables to give rest to the digestive system, cleanses and improves blood circulation and metabolism. We often tend to confuse fasting with starvation and run away from this natural method of healing and curing. Food gives energy and heat to the body, whereas a Fast bestows health and purity to the body.

While Fasting is a voluntarily accepted by an individual, starvation arises out of circumstances which are external and beyond the control of an individual. During fasting the body burns the toxic elements accumulated in it. Besides, nutrients stored in the body are also useful for energizing the body, whereas in starvation the organs or cells vital to the body for its well-being are destroyed along with waste products.

How fasting eliminates diseases and revives good health?

  1. Digestive system gets rest
  2. Elimination of toxins speeds up
  3. The liver is activated
  4. Resistance power increases
  5. Mental power is enhanced

Before undertaking any kind of fast its advisable to know the reasons and what one wants to attain from fasting. Fasting is not a standalone cure for diseases like cancer, TB or other live threatening conditions.  But day-to-day heath troubles can be easily eliminated, importantly obesity, stomach troubles, insomnia, malaria, colds, coughs, and so on. Moreover it aids in detoxification and rejuvenation and mental strength. So on the basis of the reason one can adopt any particular form of fasting ranging from water therapy to juice therapy or complete abstention from taking any kind of food. Its recommended not to set a predefined limit on the fasting period and rather keep it flexible.

During fasting along with attention to physical changes and well-being one must focus on the mental well-being also as fasting is not only a physical process but a natural  process of a higher stratum.

Similarly, followed by fasting its an indisputable fact that if possible after fasting one takes fruits and vegetable juices, does exercises/ yogasanas regularly, meditates and forms the habit of remaining ever cheerful.

Learning Shirshasana

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This week we had Shirshasana posture in the practice. I struggled for the first day as I could not assimilate enough strength to lift my body up. But on the next day my body finally understand what my teacher was saying and we made it. Yes I can officially perform Shirshasana now in the class :) .

Well the funny part was, when i went up and stayed for a while in the pose, Abhay (my teacher) was like, now you have to come down, and for a split of second I realized I never thought about that. I was so busy in myself to go up that the thought of coming down never crossed my mind. Though I can come down myself as per his instructions, but the thought tickled my funny bone for a sec. :)

I am still a beginner with this asana, so I will just share my beginners experience with this pose that is seen around with so much fascination.

To begin with, Abhay (ohh he is an amazing teacher). I say that rarely for a person but he truly deserves every word of it. He knows what he is doing and he is really good at what he does. He is a jolly person but highly demanding from his students at the same. Most of times i wonder how he points out such minute mistakes by just glancing once. Woof!

That was a bit of diversion! So back!

So, Abhay never forgets to mention the difference between a headstand and Shirshasana. He makes it constantly clear that we are not performing headstand here. So let me tell you the difference. When you put your entire body weight on your head while performing the asana its a headstand, which most of Yoga wala’s do but dare you do it in Abhay’s class :). The Shirshasana entails distributing the weight on your elbows, and lifting your body up  on your shoulders, the head is not the one to bear all the weight.

So for the intial first day I struggled with the fact of putting my body weight on my elbows while i was trying to do half Shirshasana and lifting my shoulders. I would try but my body used to fail to understand what I want it to do. I was amazed at this thought that it can be so difficult for your own body to listen to your mind again and again. I literally got in a conversation with my body telling her how stupid you are and that i am surprised at your stupidity. After the class, on that day I asked myself some questions, what exactly is about putting weight on my elbow and lifting the shoulder. I tried to connect what was actually happening when i was trying to do the weight distribution. i literally asked my body tell me how are you going to do it and finally I could picture in my mind how exactly it should happen.

So, on the next day I applied what i had thought and to my surprise my body and mind actually corordinated and when my teacher affirmed that I get what it meant now, I was officially eligible to perform the Shirshasana, I do it against the wall and my teacher helps me to give a little balance when i lift my first leg up.

From last 2 classes I am able to do it finally. I like the after effect it gives, calms your head, makes all the thoughts disappear and you suddenly feel so much aware of things around you, like you never have heard them or seen them before so clearly. The calmness of the head which I need the most living in such modern derogatory environment, its indeed a nice discovery I am able to make for myself.

I am still in process to learn, but the journey is amazing, its not just standing there that mattered, but the way you overcome those obstacles that makes the view worth it and the experience beautiful, not to forget the after effect.

There were some revelations doing this learning exercise, this was my first time i am having open conversation with my body, and I see how we are disconnected from ourself so much that you body fails to cor ordinate. Now I imagine how difficult it is for people to understand what others may say. Its is very important to choose effective methods and ways to communicate whether its yourself or others, the same thing may not work for everybody. Like Yoga is the first thing that has worked for me. Interestingly, to watch your mind and body blend with each other actually smooths a conflict situation within yourself and i realized the importance of it, one can do amazing things if we resolve inner conflict and act in unison. Impossible is indeed nothing. I am very happy about this new development.

Though I don’t feel its the pose I love the most i mean shirshasna, i would say I surrender to myself in this pose and I respect it for that,To this let me note I have this peculiar feeling attached for each pose. I love other two poses more, I mean I love the warrior pose for the feeling of strength and kind of victorious feel it gives. Similarly I romantically love the chakrasana or the Urdvah Dhanurasana, I love lifting my body and opening my body in that pose, I feel like a romantic form of love for my body in that asana. I will write a separate post on what different asanas make me feel.

For now yes, I have to admit like Abhay said I am really on Cloud 9 after the first day with Shirshasana.

I love to thank all my friends for listening me babbling here again :)

Happy exploring!

Integrating the Sutras of Ashtanga Yoga

The eight folding limbs or paths that describe Ashtanga Yoga are discussed in this post.

Yoga is often misunderstood to be limited to breathing exercises or physical postures and alignments. It is also misinterpreted to be an individual form of transformation, often ignoring relation of the self with the universe.

Yoga is a union of inner and outer self. In simple terms, Yoga is about connecting the inner and outer and merging into the universe.

To relish the completeness of Yoga its important to understand and imbibe these values in the learning and practice of Yoga. There are a total of eight phases to the Yogic experience, each phase focus on a set of collective values and provokes one to examine his/her relation to others, himself, body, mind, breath, and the inner self.I try to present here the eight limbs of Yoga and some personal experiences while imbibing them in life.

We shall divide the 8 phases into two groups Group A that focuses on external orientation and Group B that aims towards inner transformation and deeper self-realization.

Group A: Yama, Niyama, Asana, Prayanam – Focus on self-correction in thought, action, and orients towards physical and mental well being by examining our relation with us and others.

1. Yama – (Principle). Our relation to others.

The purpose of Yama is to maintain balance in life. It consists of five main values that a person must integrate in life. Yamas are about restraints from certain immoral practices.

    • It foundation lies on Ahmisa (non-violence). This directly implies not harming any sentient beings. Veganism is a step towards practicing non-violence. Similarly being non-violent in thought and action is equally important. Hurting others as well as one self (physiological or psychological) is also a form of violence, the later one often remains unnoticed and deeply rooted. Hence, it was important for me to identify this inner violence in my life and embracing peace and forgiving myself has helped me immensely.
    • Another characteristic is Satya, its necessary to be truthful to others and to oneself. We may fool the world for sometime not our ownself. Fortunately, I did not  deal with this internal conflict.
    • Asatya meaning non stealing or not cheating. Not taking what is not rightfully yours is an essential to a morally sound life. Taking only what I deserve makes me at peace with myself.
    • Brahmacharya involves moderation and self-restraint in all that you do. Keeping a check on one’s needs and not taking more than my share is essential for harmonious relations in life.
    • Aparigraha is about not indulging in unhealthy competition, jealousy or envy. With the due course of life, I realized I was never a person of competition, I always liked the feeling of collective effort and team work, where everyone gets a place on the podium. Leading and guiding are the true forces. I have replaced competition with co-operation in my life.

2. Niyama -(Self Discipline) Our relation with ourself.

These are observances to attain wisdom and knowledge of the self. The niyamas are again classified into five main sub types.

    • Sauca meaning Purity and it relates to purity of thoughts and feelings for others. It also implies cleanliness of the body, surroundings,and home. So if earth is our home we need to be broaden the concept and accommodate the real meaning of cleanliness.
    • Santosha is Contentment, to do the best with what one has. Although perfection is what is preached, but real perfection cannot be isolated from the surroundings and uncontrolled situations. Satisfaction emerges from action with good intents and to the best of the person ability. So stop complaining and start accepting and thereby correcting.
    • Ishawar-Pranidhana or Ardour means surrender to the supreme. It can be taken as surrender of the self to the divine will. When we realize the vastness of life and at the same time, how miniscule is our stay in the existence of the universe gives the realization to surrender and act in harmony with the universe.
    • Tapas is about cultivating self discipline, practicing simplicity and austerity in life. It aims towards shedding objects of desires in form of luxury or comforts that weaken the mind and body. It focuses on getting rid of rubbish from our body, and food forms an important role in bringing self discipline. Discipline is not about following timetable and running with the clock its about self regulation.
    • Svadhyaya is study of the Self or self study. It aims towards getting close to ourself and study yourself. It concentrates on moving from reactive behavior to that of observation and leave destructive tendencies. Personally, I observe a lot but similarly my reactivity index is also high :) . I am yet to find the balance.

3. Asana – (Yogic Postures) How we relate to our body

Asanas are amazing, I have begun with Iyengar method of performing asanas and it quite suits me. The slow method blends well with me.

4. Prayanama – (Breathing Exercises) Relating to our breath or spirit

I am performing the Prayanama practices as part of the Yogasana learning. And keeping a check on the breathing pattern is slowly happening. Previously I was not able to come out of feeling the pain in the limbs but now as pain has turned into pleasure the mind is able to focus on the breath patterns too.

Group B: Pratyahara, Dharana, Dhyan, Samadhi – Focus on self realization, attainment of universal truth.  This group is quite an alien territory to me yet, hence I just expand what these stands for. If some day in life I am able to practice these, I might share the experience.

5. Pratyahara – (Sense Withdrawal) Relate to sense organs

It is about non attachment of senses from external objects.

6. Dharana – (Concentration) Relate to our mind

One pointedness, concentrating the mind on a single point/object

7. Dhyana – (Meditation) Moving beyond the mind

Its an effortless way of meditation

8. Samadhi – (Self Realization) Inner union

A state of supper bliss and joy. In this state the body and senses are at rest, but the mind and reason are alert. Feeling of ignorance, egoism, likes, dislikes, clinging to mundane life dissolve.

Each one can have his own way to lead a life of fulfillment, awareness and reality. But it’s very important to shed blissful ignorance to begin with.

Happy journeying!

A Leap towards personal wellbeing

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Patanjali: The Lord of Ashtanga Yoga (Courtesy: Google Images)

I was always curious about Yoga and though it sounded as a subject of great interest, the hot selling quick fix Yogas failed to draw my attention. But what began as an interesting exploration 7 months back has changed my life profoundly. The Iyengar Yoga has been the next best thing to happen to me after Veganism.

When veganism made me strong and a much more determined person as compared to the previous stubborn soul, Iyengar Yoga was the perfect thing to follow. It serves as a power house for me, the energy that it gives me both physically and mentally is something I have never experienced before. There is a surge of energy; I am as fresh in the evening as I am on an early morning. Fatigue is a lost word in my life.

Initially I began with an alternate day class but since last few months I am doing the class daily and now the effects are clearly visible. Yoga as an exercise has its own benefits on the body. My body feels as light as a feather, I can twist and bend like never before. Physical stamina and mental stability are greatly enhanced. While veganism made me super conscious about my food and its relation to the body and mind. Iyengar Yoga has helped to simplify the thoughts and attain further balance in life.

Iyengar method of yoga focus on correct alignment during postures hence duration of holding each asana is prolonged as compared to other forms of yoga. Same way the sequence of asana is also an important part of the Iyengar Yoga. I enjoy reading about this particular form of Yoga and found our two blogs that interest me. One is called Yoga with Nadine and the other is Daily cup of Yoga. Very informative and absorbing.

The one hour of morning practice is not an easy task. Every day I wake up to challenge myself and push myself beyond boundaries failing and trying. The experience makes a difference rather than any achievements. Achievements are bound to pass away, but experience is what stays.

There are a selected bunch of things that come into your life seamlessly and stay forever. I got this one right for sure!

Traveling with the PMPML Buses

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If Pune middle class people had an award for people choosing their transport to be the PMPML (Pune Mahanagar Parivahan Mandal Limited) buses, then I would be the undisputed winner :) . Each time I mention my means of travel to be the infamous, despised, and subaltern PMPML buses, I am received with mocking laughs, expressions of bewilderment, contempt, and at time sympathetic looks or blank faces. I do not blame them, as the condition of public transport buses in Pune is pathetic and extremely commuter unfriendly. A recent survey of the Public transport system available in Indian metros ranks the Pune city bus service as one of the worst, scoring low in all terms ranging from Quality of Service, to route coverage, to breakdown of buses and so on. A detailed comparative study of Public transport buses in Delhi, Pune, Mumbai, Bangalore, Chennai by Parisar that featured in most of daily opera newspapers is shown here.
The study says:” PMPML’s performance is below average on every parameter. Its services are unreliable as it has low regularity and high breakdown rates – more than twice the average break down rate for other cities. It has fewer buses, poorer frequency and fewer bus stops. Moreover, it also charges more than other cities. In contrast, MTC (Chennai) charges the least among these cities and also gets the best score. Clearly, something is seriously wrong with PMPML services and management. ”
This negligence has only resulted in adding to the vehicular crowd on roads. A recent news report notes that Pune is ahead of Mumbai in its vehicle population with 2 wheelers (motor cycles) way ahead in their count. Pune crossed the 19 lakh vehicle mark in 2010, out of which 14 lakh are two wheelers alone. The current 2012 vehicle count stand at 23 lac. A direct consequence is the high rate of people(human + non-human) losing lives in road accidents in this city.
The high number of private vehicles has also added to alarming levels of smoke that causes air pollution. Pune’s air is highly polluted with levels of SPM, NOx above permissible limits. Details covered in the report by Maharashtra Pollution Control Board (MPCB).
A worsening situation that has further arisen to accommodate the vehicles and regulate traffic is the unnecessary road expansions to accommodate the ever-increasing multitude of private owned vehicles and a resultant loss of the rich and diverse green cover of the city. This further brings serious environmental consequences.

Interlinking these problems is important to derive effective solutions. The lack of public transport from the civic services and the apathy of the citizens contributes to the mess this city is witnessing. As an individual, after nearly 11 months of communing in the PMPML, I also have my experiences of agony, frustration, risky behavior of the PMPML service. But out of habit and love for my choices I tend to find suitable solutions. My order of commuting in Pune is On Foot followed by PMPML bus followed by On Foot to reach my destinations, on an average I commute 45 minutes on foot each day and occasionally use autos. As Pune offers, many inner lanes off the main road to walk with a decent green cover, it makes walking a treat as it also connects me to this city. I have discovered so many new trees, and watched birds, even a large colony of flying foxes on my sojourns. I enjoy watching these events unfolding in front of me. If only I could complement this with bicycle rides, nothing could beat that. My urge to own the bicycle again is running high, but I am still holding to my sense, as I have still not settled in one place and relocating very frequently adds to many problems.

On a larger content instead of turning away from responsibility and a citizen’s duty to demand answers from the city administration by participating in city building exercises, one has to be an active participant of the present to save for the future.
The beauty of this city and its weather makes it conducive for bicycles, walks and if clubbed with an efficient and effective Public transport can play wonders. A shift in the pattern of commuting from the citizens with the civic support for a greener commuter experience can make Pune a real world-class city. A plenty of groups/ individuals are taking up the cause of better public transportation, restoration of the bicycle culture in Pune, saving the green cover, and so on, but what they lack is the larger disconnect and non-participation from the common citizen. Can we all rethink our stand and play an active role to city problems aka our problems in a collective manner, wont that be a better alternate to self-centered quick fix solutions in form of motor cars and motor bikes?

References: News reports of growing trends of vehicle population in Pune Article 1 from DNA 
Article 2 from TOI
Download Parisar report on PMPML performance. Click Link
TOI covers the Maharashtra Pollution Control Board (MPCB) report of Air pollution in Pune. Click Link 

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