Saturday, 30 May 2015


Foxy had been around the village with different owners before I got her. My previous driver, Amar, who eventually fell off a hill in a drunken stupor and later died, got her from his village. He cut off part of her tail and hurled it away from his quarters because he had heard that if you do that, dogs will get potty trained and not piss in the house. He couldn't take care of her and gave her away to someone in our village. I first saw her in a neighbor's apple orchard while on a hike and I asked him  if she was his dog, and he said, 'yes, and I'm offering her as a bride to your dog, Tiger.' I thought that was funny but didn't think of it much. But when I got home I told the staff, Tiger has got an offer of marriage! (That's how most people here get married in India -- arranged offers). An hour after we returned home, Foxy squeezed through the fence and Tiger loved her immediately, and they played and played and had a great time. We kept her, and I have have had her ever since -- seven years now.

Friday, 29 May 2015


I cannot overestimate the need to do so. It is the first thing one needs to do to improve the quality of one's life; to make oneself happy; to achieving one's goals; to loving others.


Well, Idleness has its limits even though its advantages are enormous. I have no doubt that it was idleness that gave me the energy to leap up on the saddle once more and resume my writing adventure. The Timer Trick, which I think I have talked about before, works each time to motivate me. I tell myself, today I am going to go to my files, or a particular chapter that has been stalled, and work on it for just fifteen minutes. Somedays it is as little as five minutes. I use an actual timer because it gives me a sense of accomplishment. I use it for yoga and walks, meditating and music practice. When I set my goals really low I know I am certain to achieve them, which in turn gives me the confidence to set higher goals. Well, the first day I worked for a whole hour; the next day, two hours and forty minutes. I woke up tired today and rather than stress myself out by an impossible goal, I told myself 20 minutes will be my goal. Well, it turned out to be another hour and because I was thinking about the chapter, I got two or three great ideas to proceed.

so, be kind to yourself. Love yourself, and your self will reward you.

Wednesday, 27 May 2015


A few days ago we celebrated P’s 70th birthday again (after all, he is 70 the whole year long and the celebrations continue – another reason to make life a celebration, though one needs no reasons). He wanted to gift the staff some money (another reason to give them money, though one doesn’t need an excuse). Raju, our cook, made local goat in a recipe I invented several years ago, with yellow lentils, and it always turns out so delicious that we our left licking our fingers. Two days before that the shepherds came down the mountainside with a whole herd of goats and sheep that ate up the deodars I had been taking such pride in and which I had gone to some lengths to protect for years. I was so pissed at them that I told the staff I was eating the goat that had eaten my trees, and took some pleasure in this vengeance.


It is warming up here, and I am hoping it will lead to some work that I have been totally unwilling to do for the last many days. I used to think writing was my reason for being, but now I know the dangerous truth that being is the reason for being. I must admit I have enjoyed just lounging about in bed for several hours in the morning, emailing, looking for and ordering things on, chatting with P, reading , which I am enjoying because it is a reason for staying in bed longer. When I finally get out of bed in the mornings, around 9,  I just like to mosey on downstairs, look at the growing things in the garden, give the staff their tasks, and then sit, simply sit in the sun with the dogs. Often I open the gate and look at the stream, the work the staff did the other day to clean up areas, encourage flow in some areas, and the deodars they planted, the brain delightfully blank, and all my energies going into, no, not my senses, though there is the beauty and the feel of the warm sun on my back, but just . . . blankness, perhaps, the need to meander some more, and some more. There is a sleepiness in it, a certain healthy dullness in which eating and drinking are delights (though I am maintaining my weight even though I would like to lose some more, but no compulsion about it), organizing a little and putting things away the entire meaning of my days.  

I thought I would do the timer trick -- tell myself I will work for twenty timed minuted -- today for working on both writing and music, since that seems to work, and like an animal I need my rewards. Yesterday I did weights, yoga and walk for an hour and that helped me feel some sense of accomplishment. Even being has to have its doing for the sake of more being.

OK, now for the timer and puttering on my files for just 20 or at most, thirty minutes, after which I’ll turn to music, since, as Heraclitus says, “change is rest.”

Monday, 25 May 2015


. . . my asking you to buy the book and review it at Amazon. The Sufis says, "more invisible than an ant's footprints on a black rock on the darkest night of the year are the workings of the ego."

Guru Angad, the second Guru of the Sikhs, the central character, in addition to many other characters, of the sequel to THE SINGING GURU, has a long poem on the ego and how it cannot be eradicated. The line that strikes me the most is:

"Ego is a chronic disease, but it contains its own cure as well."

What does it mean? I have spent some time thinking about it and here is what I think it means: just as we have two minds (many, many minds, actually), we have the lower ego and the higher ego. The first constricts us, makes us selfish and small, while the second expands us, allows us to see our connection to the all, tells us to surrender to the vaster universe and become a part of it.

I don't quite know which of these egos is making me ask you to buy and review the book. It's more like both. The smaller ego wants success for my own sake, the higher one wants to deliver an important message. So, whichever one it is, here is the Amazon link to the book:

Friday, 22 May 2015


Those of you in the US, if you haven't already, please buy a copy of THE SINGING GURU, available on You will find many gems in it, gems that I have found while researching and writing the book that help me live better. I ask because the placement of the sequel, that I have written two thirds of, depends on sales. The publisher has to find it worth his while to sell my 'products.' The second book, I assure you, is better than the first. This is a complement to the material I am dealing with and less ego-centric than it may seem.

Second, after reading the book, please leave a review at Would deeply appreciate it.


It seems to me that there is a phase in our lives, when we are approaching old age, have intimations of it, but aren't there yet, and may not be there for a while, of which we must take full advantage. It is a wonderful phase because we can contemplate it (the word means 'being in the temple with) and make choices that enhance and deepen the quality of our lives. The first thing we need to take advantage of is Time. We all have different conceptions of how to use time -- earlier, it meant 'productivity' to me, and 'productivity' always meant the making of a product: in my case, a book. Though this continues to be a goal, I have broadened it to include, at the very basic, being out of bed and puttering about! There are days of low energy ( I always have many of these after a very busy period, which I have had for the last three months with the release and publicity of THE SINGING GURU, packing for several trips, and travel to India) when I congratulate myself for bathing, brushing my teeth and hair, changing my clothes and going downstairs for breakfast. From this basic level to sitting down at my desk and producing there is a whole spectrum of activities that I have begun to see as productive, the most fruitful of which I consider Idleness.

There are a lot of injunctions against this in our society which we have internalized. Our 'productive' selves balk at it, at the minimum, and go crazy when we find ourselves approaching it at the worst. But I have, after years and years of not giving myself permission to be idle, found a sweetness here that I cannot name or describe. Or, perhaps, I can name it: space. Yes, that describes it best. There is a spaciousness in my life now, a vast unwinding of time that is not pushed or pulled. A simple being in the temple with Time. Simply sitting in bed and chewing the fat with P for hours in the morning over tea and biscuits; watching the light come up outside the many windows of this bedroom, looking out and allowing my eyes to graze for hours on the different shades of green with different luminosities; the leisurely getting out of bed with no agendas for the day other than being restful and letting activity unfold in its own time; allowing myself to savor myself as I move through the day.

It is a wonderful phase, past the anxiety and striving of youth, and not yet debility or illness. Oh I will suck some marrow here! Chew the fat of this earth! Muck about in joy!


Had a restful day yesterday mainly because I let myself be tired without making it a mental thing --  a wonderful development. I realized I must have been tired from the hike to the Magic Forest, didn’t question it too much. I always know as soon as I wake up in the morning that I am tired. Earlier, I would deplore it, wonder what was wrong with me. I did worry a bit when I had trouble climbing stairs, getting winded and panting, whether it was my heart. And I did push myself a bit when I found myself lying sluggishly in bed with a bit of Ginseng and coffee, and dragged myself to the study and organized it, bit by bit, slow as a snail, till I collapsed and came up to bed and took a nap. But the rest of the day was without ideation around my tiredness, not even embroidering or reading, or going for a walk, though I did do thirty minutes of what I call geriatric yoga, slow and relaxed. So, this is the new me. I have good days followed by bad days because on good days I do too much. As I age I have to be conscious of several things:

1.   Become aware as soon as I get tired and back off.
2.   Don’t do more than I can
3.   Take as much of rest as I need
4.   Allow myself to be vacant and idle.

Monday, 18 May 2015



I had meant to say something about it but I forgot what. Let me try to remember. That, of course, is the other thing that happens in our Prune-hood. If you don’t catch a thought right away it vanishes. That is why both Payson and I have notepads we jot things down in. But then, we misplace the notepads.

How much of this do you fight and how much surrender to? On bad days you cannot fight it, on good days you can exercise some control. Good days bad days, sunshine and storms, are part of our destiny. Is it possible, I wonder (and a fruitful wondering it is) to have an aerie in the eye from which you can look down at both of them, as at a yin-yang sign, and remain above them both? Is it possible?

I end with the question. I have no answer. I wonder with my shriveling brain whether you can only do it on a good day, and I am back with the good and bad of things again.

Are we doomed to yo-yo thus?  


It is a country called Shriveling we all have to visit if we are fortunate enough to grow old. Where the fortune ends is another matter – at what point does old age become a curse? I suppose it depends upon the perspective and consciousness of each of us. But then consciousness itself starts to shrivel with a shriveling brain. We spend the first party of our visit to this planet learning numbers and alphabets, and the last part forgetting them. Take my mother, for instance. The string of counting has snapped in her brain. She can’t tell ten from a hundred and a hundred from a thousand. She told me she gave her cook fifteen hundred rupees when he went on leave, but when I was in her bedroom after the cook returned, he walked into the room with a thick wad of bills in his hand to repay the loan. He insisted, honest as he is, that she gave him fifteen thousand. This is just one instant, there are hundreds such. And she won’t allow my brother or sister-in-law, who live upstairs, to be present during her financial interactions because she sees it as interference. She has always been fiercely independent and egotistical. A family joke goes: “Did you hear that Bade Mummy (Big Mummy, which her grandchildren and great grandchildren – she has six of the latter, the oldest turning seventeen yesterday -- call her) is having an affair?” Pause. “With herself!

No, I am not equating consciousness with the brain. I have to admit that though I use the word often, I haven’t a clue what it is. Payson’s mother, after she lost her brain to Alzheimer’s, continued to be a sweet presence. There was definitely consciousness there, but of a kind we, so used to living with and in and through our brains, cannot name or recognize.

But I was speaking of Shriveling (it is preceded by much rambling, in my case). All the organs that begin to expand, grow and fill out after we begin the journey towards the plumpness of life, start to go the other way when we reach a certain point. Prune-hood lies before each of us. We are in this country before we know it.

Here is a picture of my hand. You can see the transformation. Here is a picture of Payson and my mother, both in different stages of Prune-hood.

failed to upload photos after a two hour wait. Next time