My favourite things – Day 7: The beauty of eyes!

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And I am down to the last of my list of favourite things from this compilation. This one is again a concept as well as a thing, more of a concept. And is probably the most favourite concept based observation for me. This one is looking at eyes and appreciating the beauty of what they are conveying!

Look into my eyes, you ll see

What you mean to me…..

Said Bryan Adams so many years ago. This is one example of one song which discusses the role of eyes as something that is a straight gateway to what the mind is thinking. The eyes as mirrors of the soul have been an inspiration for many poets and writers for very long. And of course for mere observers like yours truly as well 🙂

A little baby’s eyes full of innocence

A child’s eyes lit with curiosity and amusement

A teenager’s eyes shouting out admiration for role models

A parent’s eyes full of pride and content at their kid’s achievement

A lover’s eyes with overflowing passion

A friend’s eyes while playing a prank on his best friend

Anyone looking at their dreams being fulfilled

An elderly’s grateful eyes as a young girl helps her cross the street……..

And so many more examples! The spectrum of emotions that eyes convey is exactly as wide as that of emotions that exist in the human mind.

Aren’t these some of the most beautiful things you have seen ever? They are, undoubtedly, for me! There is something so peculiarly wonderful about a person’s eyes conveying just exactly what is on their mind, with all the precision and detail. For today, I will confine myself to discussing the positive things that eyes convey; since this one is titled my favourite things. Of course goes without saying, that eyes also convey all the negative emotions in a person’s mind as well.

I love to look at a person’s eyes when they sparkle. And I love to read a person’s face and mind through what their eyes are conveying. Biologically, this is such an interesting thing. I mean anatomically eyes are the same in every emotion. Unlike body language, there is no structural change to eyes when there is a difference in emotion. It’s not as if the pupils look any deflected or differently located when the person is happy or sad!! 😀 Yet, even subtle changes in moods are reflected through some change in your eyes. It’s just so fascinating and beautiful; almost miraculous!

I think the reason that eyes appeal to me as such an expressive medium is because of their pure honesty. A person may be able to hide his/her thoughts or emotions through changes in words; but cannot do so when it comes to eyes. And I must confess, this is also one of the principal reasons why I end up making first impressions about people through what their eyes convey 🙂 AND as an extension of this, I end up making impressions about artists based on how they depict the subject’s emotion in eyes.

To understand the real honest innermost response of any person to a given situation, it is the easiest to just observe their eyes. Happiness, dislike, anger, fury,admiration, secrecy, lies – all will shout out to you. And this observation and interpretation forms one of the most enjoyable one for me!

Well Shakira may say hips don’t lie. But I guess even in the seldom times that hips may lie, a person’s eyes won’t 😛

 

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My favourite things – Day 6: A hot meal

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Day 6 : A hot meal

The next thing on my list of favourites is a hot steaming delicious meal!!

Image courtesy of Alanna Taylor Tobin | The Bojon Gourmet

Here I have a special emphasis on the temperature of the food being consumed. I really love to devour into a plate of food that is sizzling or steaming; essentially straight from the wok or oven!

Having been a foodie since I can remember, food in general is a BIG love of mine 🙂 People who have known me since childhood remember me as being a kid with food and eating always on my mind – and this is a consistent part of me even now. But within this love for food in my mind are some slight finicky requirements which are essential for me to enjoy food to the maximum extent. And while flavours, salt balance, colour and aesthetics of food are important to me just like to others, the temperature of the food is also a consideration I have.

The joy of having food which has just been cooked and served to you is unparalleled. Barring desserts of course, all other food items that we eat, I prefer to eat them just after they are done cooking. I could definitely blame my mother and my grandmother for spoiling me on this habit since they were the ones to provide this kind of steaming hot food to me since my childhood – but hey it has been drilled in my system, and is here to stay now 😛 And in fact I am thankful to them for introducing to me a way in which the taste and nutritional value of food emerges out to be the highest!

An ultimate scene of enjoyment of food in my mind would be this kind of a hot meal in cold surroundings i.e. primarily during rains or winter! Be it breakfast or lunch or dinner or even a casual snack. Be it a simple meal of roti with vegetables and dal, or an elaborate one with several courses, it is undoubtedly enjoyed the best when it is served to you in a steaming state. The sight of steam erupting from the food contributes to not just its aesthetic appeal, but also makes it very appetizing for me! Digging into food while its’s hot leads you to be a part of a mini struggle while balancing its temperature and the one suitable for your mouth – and I absolutely enjoy it. The mini juggle of sorts, adjusting portions of food so that they don’t burn your tongue  – all are little parts of enjoying hot food – and I so love it!

It is exactly this kind of obsession with having food hot that makes me dislike carrying lunches to work. The thought of eating food that has been wrapped inside a claustrophobia inducing tiffin box/packet, with all it’s freshness lost, with a small amount of dehydration having set in, and mostly – GONE COLD, is a major turn-off for me! I carry lunch to work only because convenience and the nutritional and taste value of home cooked food is still a high enough factor 🙂 Sometimes you have to choose convenience and nutrition over your itsy bitsy definitions of perfect enjoyment!

We are taught to say a prayer and thank God for the food we eat before any meal. It is something that we do since we start talking. Since growing up, I have a personal addition to this prayer for a hot meal. In addition to thanking the Almighty for giving us the food, I also thank Him for letting me enjoy the luxury of having it hot and steaming 😉

The weekend cracks in soon. For all those who have to eat cold lunches throughout the week, you won’t have to do so for the next two days at least! If you are like me, wishing you more of hot meals your way – Bon appetit!

 

My favourite things – Day 5: Conversations!

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Day 5: Conversations!

Today I will be writing about the fifth thing in my list of favourites. Today’s ‘thing’ is a concept as well as an activity. This one is about having great conversations with people and all that I enjoy about it!

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So a conversation is classically defined as an interaction between two parties. We could go on to classify conversations a bit more depending on the nature of the parties involved – conversations with self, with people, with things, with God, with pets. In today’s age, we have another kind of classification depending on the medium used for conversing – in addition to the classical conversation of talking in person; it could as well be a typed (written) conversation through letters or through chats on devices over the internet; or over phone.

What I am particularly trying to describe today is the simplest form of conversation that involves interacting with a different person through talking. The bare essentials of conversing in my opinion revolve around this simplest definition, and this is mainly what I enjoy the most as well 🙂

I like to talk to people about their lives, their stories, my life and stories as also general ideas, concepts, information and philosophies. In our everyday life and routine, we have general casual conversations that involve discussions about stuff, as also emotionally intense comforting conversations. I enjoy both kinds, and there is definitely a lot to gain and learn from each of them.

In the real sense, I love knowing people itself – knowing their life, their everyday routines, their choices – and the best way for me to do so is through talking to a person itself. Here it’s not simply strangers that I am talking about. Having a good conversation lets you know different facets of the personalities of your closest relations, parents, friends, spouse or even children. What is interesting is that a conversation is a great way of getting to know a person, as also getting to know yourself. In a way, the way you converse tells you a lot of things about your own self – so it’s a learning exercise on your side as well! The next important thing that happens through conversations is you get to exchange a lot of concepts and ideas and also gain newer perspectives by listening to what people have to say about a particular concept. Innovative ideas, brainstorming, trouble shooting all are easily accomplished through a single good conversation. I enjoy all these aspects of conversing with people, and thus an enriching conversation is one which either i. takes you closer to knowing that person ii. Takes you closer to knowing yourself iii. Leads to exchange of ideas and gives you new knowledge iv. Provides a new perspective of thinking.

To me, the entire experience of a conversation is important. By that I mean, it’s the other person’s words, use of pauses, body language, other distractions, gestures which are all equally important in conveying the overall theme of a talk. I especially like to pay extra attention to the choice of words, construction of sentences, and peculiarity of unique words used by that person. And of course, to what makes that person laugh.

An underlying unwritten necessity of a good conversation for me is actually two things – honesty of participation in the talk and lack of judgmental attitude towards the other person. The kinds of conversations that I enjoy are the relaxed ones which involve these two factors. It’s fun to converse with introverts and extroverts alike if these two aspects are taken care of 🙂 Some great memories of conversations that I have had include ones with a friend during evening walks, with cousins and friends when I have visited them in a different city, with my father on the day before my wedding, with my better half during our initial days of knowing each other, with a stranger old lady on a flight, with an elderly uncle in the waiting room of a doctor among many others!

I recently read about the concept of a ‘Human Library’ which is based on ‘reading’ a new person through conversations with the person and listening to that person’s story. I absolutely loved this concept, and am looking forward to participating in something of this sort J Who’s up with me on this?

My favourite things – Day 4: Colour assemblages

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So coming to day 4 of the weeklong writing challenge. The next thing on my list for favourite things today is more of a concept than a thing. And that is an assemblage of colours. I love to look at sights of a host of colours put together in one place. Or maybe in one frame of viewing. These could be natural, like the hues of colours in the sky, or of different coloured flowers or plants or leaves. Or more often these could be of human creation and origin. For instance, coloured items on display in shops, coloured architecture, a painters colour palette and so on. I think it is one of the most positive and soothing sights for the eyes to look at. A splash of colours, vivid or pastels, is still a very beautiful thing to look at 🙂

Today I thought it would be nice to let some pictures do the talking. So here are some pictures of colour assemblages that I have taken at various places and stages 🙂

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A colourful door (Udaipur, Rajasthan, India)

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Market scenes (Rajasthan, India)

 

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Puppets (Rajasthan, India)

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Colourful buildings (Lavassa, Maharashtra, India)

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Buddhist prayer flags (Langza, Spiti, Himachal Pradesh, India)

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Random buildings (New Jersey, USA)

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Palette and artwork by yours truly 🙂

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Coloured pieces of paper!

My favourite things – Day 3: Shopping for stationery!

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So back to the writing challenge after an intense weekend! How are you guys doing? Hope your own recollection of your favourite things is keeping you happy and enthusiastic enough to enter into this new week 🙂

So the next thing on my list of favourites is shopping for stationery! Anyone who knows me even a bit knows this aspect of my life; and so, must have definitely seen this coming 😛 Today I am going to talk about a kind of shopping that totally makes me go crazy and out of control – shopping for new stationery!!

stationery shopping

I share a very positive relation with stationery. I am a stationery freak. Stationery hoarder. Stockist. Addict? Yes possibly. Stationerphile – if this word exists 😛

Every time I see a shelf with neatly arranged stationery, it makes my eyes sparkle. The sight of colour-sorted, type-sorted, price-sorted, size-sorted stationery items is one of the most pleasing human-created orderly sights ever! Pens, pencils, markers, erasers, paper clips, files, folders, sticky tapes, notebooks, notepads, staplers, highlighters and on and on and on the list could go. I love to look at each of these items in a stationery shop. And what I love even more is to be able to procure each kind of these items 😛

Colourful stationery items with pastel shades are just so adorable! Add to it faces of kawai characters or elegant prints or cute cartoons and the adorable factor doubles!! I don’t think I can ever get enough of this 🙂 I shop for stationery at almost all potential locations. I definitely visit stationery stores very frequently to stock up on new stuff. But in addition, I also get tempted and buy stuff from local grocery stores, or even small photocopy centers which sell basic stationery.

organized stationery

Organized stationery in stores (https://in.pinterest.com/pin/500251471090325752/)

When it comes to stationery, there are two main types of people – those who buy it for pure need, and those who buy it for its need, beauty, elegance, appearance or simply, existence 😀 I am totally the second kind. Need is often not the sole reason for stationery shopping for me.

Typical mind conversations when I am in a stationery store:

Me: ‘That notebook is adorable. Look at the colour of the cover page! It’s size is also perfect to fit in into the drawer at my desk’

My mind: ‘You already have a notebook that is ‘perfect for the size of that desk’

Me: ‘Yes but that notebook is ruled. This one has got blank sheets. So I can write and/or doodle and draw in this’

My mind: ‘You have already bought two doodle books specifically for ‘doodling’.’

Me: ‘But see this one has pages that don’t blot with ANY kind of ink. Those doodle notebooks are suitable for only certain kinds of pens of mine’

Tada!! Reasoning meter rings loud!! Beep beep!! ‘Suitable reason for splurging for stationery found’!! And the notebook finds its way into my shopping bag!!! Hahahahaha

This is just one example of one stationery item. God has very kindly bestowed me with this fantastic quality of managing to find reasons for buying any kind of stationery under the sun!! If there is one thing that I will always want to buy more of in my life, it is stationery and craft material. When I was little, I was always told that this phase of being uncontrollably in love with pens and pencils is a child phase and when I grow up, it will get replaced with clothes or makeup or jewelry or bags or hair accessories. Alas. I am still waiting for any kind of phase replacement. Or maybe I am still waiting to ‘grow up’:D

I attach a lot of personal importance to stationery. And I unknowingly end up judging people on the basis of how they treat their stationery! Well yeah you can go ahead and laugh at this; but it does happen sub consciously! If you ill-treat your pens, chew on your pencils, lose the cap of your pens, don’t bother enough about your books, fold your notepad sheets carelessly, I am going to keep giving you sermons about it.

So do I end up using all the stationery that I stash and hoard? I actually do. For me the joys of stocking up on stationery and also getting to use it are almost comparable. So I essentially don’t behave simply like a hoarder. Also, using my stationery respectfully and ultra carefully is one way of showing my love towards it.

Coming to think of it, I have various stages of my life so far, characterized by memories of specific stationery that I mainly used around that time!! Each of these stationery possessions make me go nostalgic and back in time when I purchased it, or used it extensively.

Not surprising then, that the yellow 0.5 mm pencil that I used when I first wrote in notebooks with at age 6 is still one of my most priced possessions 🙂

My favourite things – Day 2: Tea!

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So coming to day 2 of the writing challenge. I am in a bit of a rush and also a bit unwell today so this post might seem a bit incoherent, but nevertheless! The whole point of a writing challenge is to write no matter what; so attempting the same 😛

The second item on my list of favourites is our good old everyday beverage – tea!! It’s a beverage that I will not refuse when offered, ever 😀 My everyday necessity, my comfort companion, my pacifier in times of sadness, and most importantly my remedy for a lot of illnesses. All this and much more – summarized in a single three lettered word – tea 🙂

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Tea time!!

My association with tea started off in childhood when asthma was a regular visitor in my life. My parents were advised to make me drink medicinal tea aka tea with ginger, tulsi, honey etc as a home remedy when I would get congestion of breath and clogging. I tasted tea as a medicine to begin with, and since then there has been no looking back! This medicine infused tea was a major relief in all my childhood asthma attacks, and led me to build a very loving relationship with it. Soon after, asthma was now in check, but tea became a permanent resident in my life!
Even at this very moment, as I type the word T-E-A, it brings a smile to my face. The slow boiled infusion of tea leaves, milk and sugar in water cooks up an aesthetically as well as gustatory pleasing experience known as tea drinking. Having had a lot of tea enthusiasts in my family, I was introduced to different kinds of tea as per each ones preference. My grandfather loved the English style of light tea with a mild infused flavor of tea leaves and very less milk in it. While my brother loves the really strong flavoured tea that has a sumptuous amount of spices (chai masala) with tea leaves. My father on the other hand, has been a frequent traveler to Japan, China and Korea – and likes green tea from different sources. Me? I just love tea of all sorts!! 😛 I love a slightly mild tea as a regular everyday drink. But on special days, or on winter days, I like green tea with different flavours. And when it is pouring cats and dogs in the monsoons, I relish tea with a really strong flavor of boiled leaves, lots of ginger and lots of spices! I love to sit with my hands wrapped around a warm tea cup. This beverage is my companion, my confidante, my friend and my everyday necessity now 🙂
Years later, I got married into a family where tea is exactly as much a necessity in all days and events as I like. And needless to say, some of the best bonding times that I can remember while being new in this family were all centered around tea time!
To me, tea making is like an art. It is a ritual. It is an investment. It is not something that you do ‘in the background while doing other things’. No. It deserves that bit of time to get its proportions correct. To get the aroma in place. And to get the maximum of the tea experience.
I cannot yet remember an occasion when tea has not been a companion. It has been so in good and bad times alike.
Feeling unwell – Have a cup of tea
Feeling rejoiced – Celebrate with a cup of tea
Angry? Had a fight? – Calm yourself with a cup of tea
An experiment gone topsy turvy in the lab? – Just forget it over a cup of tea
Having friends or cousins over? – Make tea
Alone at home today? – Again make tea!!
Important work discussion – Over tea!
Chat about personal life – Again over tea!!
A stop in any journey – Calls for a tea break!
The completion of a task / journey – Have tea!!
I have honestly lost track of the number of events that tea has witnessed with me. Probably every event of my life – everyday and every special day 🙂
I must confess here, though, that honestly I also love the beverage cousin of tea – which is coffee, to a comparable extent. But the relationship I share with coffee is a bit different. Coffee is a drink for special occasions, for special conversations. It is not something that contributes to my ‘everyday’. It is like the stilettos you will wear for a party, while tea is your everyday no-heels chappal which carries you to all places during the day. So while coffee is special and beautiful; tea is ordinary everyday comfort and so maybe ahead of coffee by a small margin in my life 🙂

 

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Work desk scenes 🙂

To sign off, I think a very unique contribution of tea would be worth a mention. Having had this background of a nearly inseparable love and affection for tea, my dream date while learning to dream about love – was of having a cup of hot chai in the cold rain. Now imagine my dismay when I fell in love with the man of my dreams a few years ago only to find out that he absolutely dislikes tea!!!! All my dreams about sharing moments over tea, romantic conversations over tea were not happening and seemed far from reality. And as we started with discovering a contrasting opinion about tea, we went on to realize a contrast in preferences and opinions about almost everything under the sun! Now, to be honest, I was initially sad about this fact. But subsequently I got over this and realized that the difference in choice over tea was actually conveying a larger message to me. And that was of letting a person be, loving and accepting him/her for what they really are and accommodating habits that may be way contrasting to mine. In a way, I learnt this through tea, and I am grateful to it for the same.
And now the end result? The best tea I have had is the one that my husband makes for me 🙂 Even though he doesn’t have it himself! Customized, with the exact proportions of ingredients and just the way I need it. Tea forms one of the ways for him to express his care, love and understanding. And being someone who is hardly expressive through words, I love this form of expression that he has, through the perfect cup of tea – made at the perfect time for me 🙂

I cannot thank tea enough for this very very unique contribution to our relationship 🙂

My favourite things – Day 1: Book reading experiences

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The first thing in my list of favourite things here is the overall experience associated with reading of books. Now when I say the ‘entire’ experience, I mean literally everything! From browsing of books in stores (or online these days) to the smell of books to reading it whilst maintaining the integrity of its pages to selecting a suitable bookmark for its use to getting lost in the contents of the book to the lingering thoughts on the book in the time after – I love each of these activities! Each of these steps has a special place in my heart with regard to the happiness that it imparts.

To start the process of procuring a book to read, I still prefer going to a bookstore. It doesn’t matter if it’s a shop that sells new books or one where you get old and used books at lower prices. A bookstore is like a temple for me. It’s sacred, often very very quiet and there is so much knowledge and wisdom to gain from all the stuff around you 🙂 One more thing I love about bookstores is that you will mostly see people with a genuine interest in books hanging around there. Which is so much better than other hangout places (read malls or cafes) which are thronged by people simply whiling away their time and destroying the peace in the place!

I still love this process more than browsing through book covers and previews on websites. Because holding a book in my hands is the best way for me to feel any kind of connection with it! I don’t classically ‘judge a book by its cover’ 😛 I judge it more by the connection and vibes that I feel with it. Purely unconditional 🙂 And once I feel the connect, I buy it immediately!! I think books have taught me more about unconditional love even before people did 😛 And I thoroughly enjoy the process of developing this ‘unconditional’ bond with the book even before starting to read it!

At this stage, new unread books versus old books provide two different kind of connections, and I love both! Crisp fresh printed pages that have not been turned at all, and show no creases or sign of handling at the binding edge are an instant attractant. Even when I browse books in a bookstore, I take extra care to check that my browsing does not create creases or dampen the integrity of the binder. It’s one of my ways of showing respect towards a book 🙂 In fact, I try to continue this practice during the actual reading of the book as well!

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Old and new books are equally enjoyable 🙂

Likewise, the experience of an old book is altogether different, yet has a charm of its own. Yellowed pages, with remains of usage and turning over, often dog-eared from the previous user, give it a sense of an experienced mature elder sibling. These kinds of books I feel have more than one story to narrate. The first one is of course the one that’s written directly in its pages. The others are ones associated with the book reading experiences of it’s previous readers. When I buy such a book, I always wonder about its previous readers and what they must’ve been through in the course of reading this book 🙂

The next step after this is the actual reading of the book. Running through the various chapters of the books, associating with different characters, pondering over their lives no matter how fictitious the story is – all form a part of this experience. The best part about enjoying a well written book is the way it takes you to places through simply the magic of words and stirring up of your mental imagination processes. And by places I mean it literally takes you to different geographical places that are there in the book; as also to a whole lot of different kinds of personalities and situations that are often way beyond the finite thinking or imagination scope that we have! This emotional transportation to different places and different minds and people is one of the most enjoyable experiences that any kind of books give you. Besides, the literal experience of reading a book – at night with the night lamp on, with your coffee mug besides you, or sitting by the window side, or simply while lazying around on the couch – is just as enjoyable as well.

In the course of the book reading itself, I also like to pay extra attention to the kind of bookmarks that I am using with it. I am a bookmark hoarder, totally love the different kinds that we get out there in the market. Also my crafting instincts often prompt me to make my own bookmarks as well. I have this insistent theory about the suitability of a bookmark for a book based on the contents, colour as also size of the book!! So this bookmark selection process is also something that I totally enjoy and when the right kind of bookmark sits in the right kind of book, it adds to the feel-good ness of the entire book reading!!

Lastly, we come to the end of the process of book reading, wherein some books stay lingering in your mind for months, maybe even years after reading it. Some books have a temporary build up of thoughts, more unstable, and which end up getting diluted within days of reading it. But there are also the others which leave a lasting impact on your mind. I often enjoy the second kind more. When this happens, reading a book becomes like an enlightening conversation that you may have had, and which has several take-homes from it.

So in a nutshell, this is the first one from my list of favourite things! To experience book reading in a holistic manner. To give a book the time and attention that it deserves. To love a book in its entirety and to gain all that you can from it 🙂 Even though I have learnt to adapt to new age reading and I read on the Kindle as well, no amount of digital reading has really been a substitute enough for the actual reading from a book. I sincerely hope book reading doesn’t get completely wiped off in this age of digitization!