Technological spirituality: 6 ways to tune into you

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Technology has been evolving at a rapid pace. Remember the days of yore, when we used to call the telephone exchange to place STD calls. You had to wait for the telephone company to connect your call, you never knew how soon – or even if – your call would go through. Fast forward a few years, and we had the ability to place STD calls ourselves without having to go through the switch-board. A few more years later and mobile phones emerged, allowing us to make STD and ISD calls on the go. Fast forward to the present, and you have multiple ways to stay in touch – phone, email, internet calls through Skype, Facebook and even Twitter.

This ability to constantly be in touch, in real time, is a boon when your family stays far away. You’re now no more than a phone call, e-mail, status update or tweet away. It’s also become possible to stay connected to the office while on the go. Look around, and you’ll see people in the gym handling office-related phone calls, busy executives sitting in the coffee shop with their laptop updating an important presentation or checking and answering work e-mails.

But in this constant race to be up-to-speed with everyone and everything around us, it has become increasingly difficult to find time to connect with ourselves, with our spirituality, with God. It doesn’t have to be this way, though.

The very technology that has connected us to friends and family around the world has also given us myriad tools to connect with ourselves on a deeper level. Here are six ways in which you can tune in to you even when you’re on the go.

YouTube: Most smartphones these days can connect to and play YouTube videos. The next time you’re in the train commuting just log on to YouTube, look for meditation, scroll through the numerous options that come up, plug in your headphones and hit play. You can also visit the Soulful living page here on Modern Gypsy to access a collection of hand-picked meditation music or guided meditation videos and find yourself. Subscribe to the blog and you’ll get a new meditation video every Sunday, along with a lot of other interesting content on a variety of topics ranging from book reviews to travel stories to observations on daily life.

Twitter: There are a lot of spiritual gurus and motivational speakers on Twitter who send out inspiring tweets everyday that can give you a nugget of wisdom in 140 characters or less. They also post links to relevant content on their blogs or other sites that you can visit whenever you have a few extra minutes, or favorite and go back to later.
Twitter

A few people to follow: @paulocoelho, @DalaiLama, @RockSolidAdvice,  @RevRunWisdom. You could also follow my Inspirations list on Twitter.

Mailing lists: There are a lot of websites and blogs that offer spiritual content and insights online. Subscribe to a few of their mailings lists and you’ll have some thought provoking articles to read the next time you’re stuck at the doctor’s office or in a nasty traffic snarl. You can even save them on your smartphone using apps like Instapaper, which allow you to save webpages for offline reading.

god_wants_you_to_knowFacebook: Have you come across the nifty Facebook app called God Wants you to Know? If you haven’t, I suggest you check it out. It gives you a new message from God everyday – daily bite-sized pieces of inspiration that at times are exactly what you need to hear.

Apps: There are a lot of religion and spirituality apps available that you can download onto your smartphone or tablet. You can download The Bhagwad Gita as a book or in audio; Buddha-in-a-Pocket offers powerful insights from the teachings of the Buddha; The Life Purpose App, which provides full access to Dan Millman’s bestseller The Life You Were Born to Live and calculates and provides details about your life path.

Podcasts: There are a lot of meditation podcasts available on iTunes that you can download the next time you’re updating your iPhone/iPad/iPod apps. Spend 10 minutes before you start your day to meditate, or listen to vedic chants while commuting and see the difference it makes to your day. You’ll operate from a more calm, focused and peaceful state of mind, and if you make it a regular practice, you’ll notice that you aren’t as stressed out as you used to be.


I’m sure I’ve just scratched the surface of the millions of options out there. Are there any tools or apps that you use to connect with yourself?

4 life lessons I learnt from my cat

A fine balancing act

That’s Pepo, my adorable furry friend. She adopted us on 15 July 2009, and has been a constant source of entertainment for us ever since. In addition to entertaining us, she also strives to teach us mere humans some lessons, cat style!

  1. Act first, think later: Pepo’s a house cat, which means she spends hours watching birds through the window.  In this picture, she’s clambered up onto the top of the window, near the ceiling, and after having her fill of bird watching, is looking for a way back down. She knows one of us will come get her!
    Translated to us humans: Just do it! Don’t think. The more you think, the more reasons you can give yourself to not do something to break out of your comfort zone. Act and trust in the universe, things will almost always work out — 99.99% of the time!
  2. Want something? Be cute: One of Pepo’s favorite things to do is to go out on to the balcony and drink water or sit on the ledge and watch the world go by. Since she’s a house cat, these excursions are under supervision. So, once we are back from work, her first request, nay demand, is to be taken out. The best way to get her demand met? Be cute!
    Translated to us humans: When you want to be recognized for the work you do, you need to move out of the mindset of letting your work speak for yourself — you need to focus on building strong relationships with your managers. It doesn’t mean you have to suck up to them, but small talk, going along with their plans, and problem solving as much as possible wouldn’t hurt.
  3. When I’m playing football, I’m Ronaldo!: Yes, Pepo plays football…with balled up paper…and when she’s playing, she’s Christiano Ronaldo incarnate! Focused, quick, nothing but the game matters – not food, not going out, nothing!
    Translated to us humans: Focus, hard work and perseverance will help you achieve any goal. The best way I’ve found to stick with it: write your goals, break them into baby steps, reward yourself for every milestone achieved, don’t beat yourself up for missing a target – analyze what went wrong, fix it, and go for it again!
  4. Sleep above all else: The amount of time Pepo spends sleeping can leave you amazed! On weekends, she sleeps, eats, plays, sleeps, plays, sleeps…you get the drift, right?
    Translated to us humans: (1) You need downtime baby! There’s no way you can go on and on and on, working, running the house, looking after everyone else before yourself. Make some “me time” — meditate, go get a manicure, watch a movie or grab lunch with a friend…something, anything, that is only for you!
    (2) There may be times when we wish we had 48 hrs in a day, but that’s not going to happen anytime soon — can you imagine a 16 hr work day? Yuck! The best way to be productive — plan, focus, and ensure you get adequate shut eye, or your body’s going to rebel on you, and then you won’t be able to get anything done!

Has your furry friend taught you any life lessons?

Looking back 2010 – Top 10 movies

There were some excellent English and Hindi movies released in 2010…from among those, these were my 10 favorite movies during the year (in no particular order).

  1. Dabangg
  2. Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows – part 1
  3. Eat, Pray, Love
  4. Rajneeti
  5. Inception
  6. Anjaana Anjaani
  7. Iron Man 2
  8. Prince of Persia: The Sands of Time
  9. Sex and the City 2
  10. I Hate Luv Stories

What were your favorite movies in 2010?

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Looking back 2010 – Top 10 books

girl reading a bookMy love affair with books started at a rather tender age. I grew up with Enid Blyton and Grimm’s Fairy Tales. Since then, reading is my escape from the world, a time to step out of my life and live in different times and places through the trials and tribulations of the characters that inhabit the book that I am reading.

I’ve read a lot of books that I enjoyed this year, so choosing just 10 was hard! Still, I tried…so, here’s the list of the top 10 books I read in 2010 (in no particular order).

  1. Immortality – Milan Kundera
  2. Nefertiti – Michelle Moran
  3. The History of Love – Nicole Kraus
  4. The White Tiger – Arvind Adiga
  5. The Girl triology  – Stieg Larsson
  6. Late for Tea at the Deer Palace – Tamara Chalabi
  7. The Time Traveler’s Wife – Audrey Niffenegger
  8. Journal of a Solitude – May Sarton
  9. The Kite Runner – Khaled Hosseini
  10. Purple Hibiscus – Chimamanda Ngozi Adichei

If you’re curious to see the entire list of books I read during the year, check out my book shelf.

You might also enjoy reading Dagny Taggart, or Scarlett O’Hara, or maybe…

What were your favorite books in 2010?

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Looking back 2010: food and drink

Fez Dining, New Delhi

One of the very nicest things about life is the way we must regularly stop whatever it is we are doing and devote our attention to eating. ~Luciano Pavarotti and William Wright, Pavarotti, My Own Story

This simple pleasure has become such a huge minefield in recent years, with the media telling you that almost everything that tastes good is actually bad for you. If you were to believe all that’s thrown at you, you would have to eliminate from your life red meat, bread, chocolates, pastries…everything that tastes so divine that it gives you a little glimpse of heaven each time  you bite into it. (You might want to read why I think the Twinkie diet is a breakthrough for dieters.)

Large, naked raw carrots are acceptable as food only to those who lie in hutches eagerly awaiting Easter. ~Fran Lebowitz

I think that’s enough of a pre-amble to establish the fact that I am a foodie! I love, love, love food! I constantly try out new restaurants and different cuisines, experiment with new dishes at my favorite hangouts, and enjoy collecting and keeping recipes – it’s a different matter that I’m an extremely reluctant cook, but, oh well!

10 of my favorite meals and drinks in 2010 would have to be…

  1. Fez Dining, Malcha Marg, New Delhi – This Eastern Mediterrean bar is one of my favorite places to hang out. I love their ambience, and their food is to die for! You can close your eyes, flip through the menu, place your finger on an item and order it, and you wouldn’t go wrong.
    Recommended: To eat: Shish Taouk (succulent pieces of charcoal grilled garlic and saffron flavored chicken served with hummus and a divine gralic dip), Tas Kebap (braised lamb cooked in Turkish spices served with rice – yummy!). To drink: Pasha (orange juice, cherry liqueur topped with champagne), Moroccan martini (saffron infused vodka, vermounth and orange juice)
  2. Brazilian chicken, made by a good friend for a farewell party she hosted for me recently. Surrounded by friends, music, laughter and lots of alcohol, this was one party that turned out to be surprisingly fun!
  3. Basil Leaf, Gurgaon – This small little eatery in a sleepy market is a hidden treasure. It offers Pan Asian and Italian cuisine, as well as delectable deserts. Each item on the menu has a blend of flavors that will explode in your mouth, sending you to orgasmic highs! 😉
    Recommended: Oriental sea food soup, Basil chili stir-fried shrimps, ravioli in tomato sauce, grilled vegetable pizza, blueberry cheesecake
  4. I never realized how much I enjoy hosting parties until we hosted a card party at home this Diwali. First, hosting parties is the best way to clean up the house. Second, it’s fun to have friends over, laughing and enjoying themselves in your house. Most times my friends just invite themselves over home, we never get around to inviting people, but in 2011, I hope to change that!
  5. La Pizzeria, Bund Garden Road, Pune – Excellent Italian (vegetarian) food at really reasonable rates.  My entire family (parents, the husband and the little sis) had a 3-course meal for Rs. 1,500 — in Gurgaon, you’d pay that much for two people, main course only!
    Recommended: Spinaci Salsa (spinach and cream dip with crisp bread), Ravioli in tomato sauce, Gnocco (pasta stuffed with three types of cheese, spinach, Italian herbs and tomato sauce sprinkled with parmesan), Tiramisu
  6. My ultimate soul food, apart from chocolate truffle pastries,m has to be prawn rice. The flavors and the warmth of this dish fill me with joy.
  7. Monk, Galaxy hotel, Gurgaon – Serving up Chinese cuisine with a twist, this is the place to head to if you’re tired of “chinjabi” Chinese food. Their sticky rice bowls and udon noodles are to die for!
    Recommended: Five-spice chicken dimsums, seafood sticky rice bowl in celery sauce, sticky rice bowl with prawns and greens in XO sauce
  8. When I was home ill sometime in the middle of this year, I was overtaken by a sudden, over-whelming craving for chocolate cake. I was not too well to drive out to the market to indulge, so I did the next best thing – made a 5 minute chocolate mug cake! Yummy!!
  9. Swiss Cheese Garden Restaurant, ABC Farms, Koregaon Park, Pune – I went to the restaurant the last time I was home. Done up in wooden logs with dim lighting, the restaurant has an excellent ambiance, whether you’re with family, friends, or someone special. Recommended: Cheese fondue! That’s what they’re most famous for
  10. Some of my best weekends this year have been spent with friends. Be it an impromptu visit or a planned one, I’ve had great times with P at her house, eating, talking, standing out on the terrace capturing pictures of the sky; and with J, experimenting with new restaurants or getting together for drinks and dinner.

Great food is like great sex.  The more you have the more you want.  ~Gael Greene

What were your favorite meals in 2010?

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Looking back 2010: journeys

Prayer bells, main monastery, McLeod Ganj

For someone who loves to travel, this year has not been too great. I’ve taken only two trips this year (boo!), with one to come in the last week of December (yay!).

So from the two trips I took in 2010, here are the 5 things I enjoyed the most:

McLeod Ganj, May/June 2010

  1. This was the first time the husband and I traveled with friends; we generally travel alone. It was a different experience – we quite enjoyed ourselves.
  2. Carpe Diem, Jogiwara Road – excellent food, a must visit at McLeod Ganj
  3. Norbulingka Institute, Sidhpur – located about 7 odd kms from McLeod Ganj, it’s an excellent place to stay, even if just for a night. If you don’t want to stay far from McLeod Ganj, do visit the institute – they have a lovely monastery, a beautiful doll museum and artisans at work.
  4. The Monastery, McLeod Ganj – courses are held here when the Dalai Lama is in residence. The thangka paintings and statues are magnificent.
  5. Shopping – avoid the shops along the Monastery – they’re overpriced and rude. Explore the many tiny shops along the three main roads in McLeod Ganj, you’ll be sure to find plenty of treasures!
  6.  

Read more on my visit to McLeod Ganj.

Jaipur, November 2010

The Bazaar, Jaipur

Johari Bazaar, Jaipur

1. All girls trip – no husband, no men – fun!

2. Silver shopping! We went to Johri Bazaar and explored the many silver shops there. Found one that had awesome, unique  stuff – went back to him thrice!

3. Getting fooled at Johri Bazaar – and finding out and giving it back to the shopkeeper. That was fun! Once we got to know he sold us fake stuff, we went back to his shop, created a scene, made him give us our money back, and made off with the earrings we had bought from him to boot! Served the bastards right, I say! 😉

4. Discovered three excellent places to eat and hang out

  • Flow at Diggi Palace – great ambiance, good food.
  • Clark’s Amer – rooftop bar – great drinks for cheap
  • Anokhi cafe – excellent range of organic tea, coffee, pastries, and sandwiches.

5. Late night talkathons over drinks and snacks.

I haven’t written up a blog post on this trip, but you can read more about Jaipur from an earlier post I wrote on my travel to this wonderful city.

What were your favorite trips this year?

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Looking back 2010: top 10 songs on my playlist

Music is the soul of life. I typically listen to a wide variety of music – rock, jazz, instrumental, and everything in between. I’ve tended to stay away from Hindi music, though, because until recently, most of the songs were quite terrible. But since a couple of years, Bollywood’s been surprising me — not only have there been some excellent Hindi movies, the music has been great too! So here is my list of the 10 songs I totally loved this year, in no particular order. I’ve thrown in YouTube videos for the Hindi songs, so my non-Indian friends can listen in if they’d like.

  1. Need you now – Lady Antebellum
  2. Gypsy – Shakira
  3. I feel good – Anjaana Anjaani OST
  4. Airplanes – B.O.B.
  5. Watch me burn – Rihana feat. Eminem
  6. Waka Waka – Shakira
  7. Iktara – Wake up Sid OST
  8. The catalyst – Linkin Park
  9. Boogieman – AC DC
  10. Dhan te nan – Kaminey OST

What songs were on your playlist this year?

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