In the early days of the COVID-19 pandemic, when asked to stay home to help curb the spread of the virus, people got creative. With time on their hands, some baked bread, others whipped up frothy coffee or created TikTok videos. While they discovered hidden talents, I uncovered grey hair!
Unlike the zealous artists of the Covid-age who publicly displayed their creations, I chose to keep my find under wraps. My grey hair was not really a secret. From its first appearance on my head almost two decades ago, the strands had steadily increased in number. …
This was exactly the book I needed at the end of a pandemic year — a sweet story of growing up with siblings in a loving home where the father provides magic that turns ordinary events into extraordinary adventures.
As a memoir writer and reader, in recent times, I have been disappointed with bestsellers which fall into one of two categories — a celebrity tell-all of a dysfunctional present or confessions of a regular person who describes a dysfunctional past often involving addiction or trauma.
The former sells because of the celebrity’s public status, the latter because it is a well-crafted story with a generous publicity budget. …
If you are mulling over minimalism while surveying your possessions in the new year, fear not. Here’s a list of my new acquisitions at the end of the first week of 2021:
I attribute some of these impulse buys to the pandemic, fully aware that if I add more stuff to my home, I must also remove some items. Not surprisingly, I received helpful reminders from minimalism advocates.
There is happy medium between mindless hoarding and intentional acquisition.
My mother’s three-question decluttering method (that predated Marie Kondo by decades) taught me how to figure out what stays and what goes.
A new year is a good time to relearn her lessons for life, not just for tidying up.
A rainy beginning to a long-awaited New Year!
Seems like a good day to sit down and compile resolutions, make lists and contemplate why we need to participate in this annual ritual, knowing that it loses significance even before the first month of the year comes to an end.
What use are resolutions and to-do lists in 2021, a year that has arrived on the heels of one that taught us to humbly accept what is? Instead of making plans I wanted to stay still and be open to what the year had in store for me. …
Why I chose to revisit things I didn’t complete in 2020? On the last day of 2020, it felt good to make a list of all the goals accomplished, books read and everything that was done and dusted.
But what about the activities shelved, tasks left unfinished and the goals postponed?
Shouldn’t we acknowledge the plans made and projects attempted with the best intentions even if they didn’t turn out as well as expected?
Here are two of mine:
2. A 2020 TBR list on which I didn’t make much progress but ventured away to read books by authors from various countries.
What have you left unfinished?
Perhaps you have heard Gottleib’s TED talk or read the advice she doles out on the weekly “Dear Therapist” column in the Atlantic. What you may not know about this New York Times bestselling author (other than the fact that she puts on her pants one leg at a time) is that she isn’t always the know-it-all who can ‘fix’ people’s problems. Her own inability to make sense of an unexpected breakup in her life throws her so far off-base that she seeks out a therapist herself.
The chapters alternate between her sessions with four of her patients, each of whom is at a different stage in life and grappling with a wide range of issues that require thoughtful responses and a great deal of listening. Each case/client is extremely interesting, but the part that kept me intrigued was when Gottleib herself was at the receiving end during her therapy sessions. …
How I began watching shows during a pandemic year. Like most people, I spend many hours each day, watching a screen. A laptop for my work and for my writing, a Kindle for ebooks, and of course, a phone to connect with friends and listen to audiobooks and podcasts.
Unlike others, I have resisted the lure of binge watching video streaming shows, an affliction that grew tremendously in 2020, for obvious reasons.
At dinnertime, our family gathers around to watch a show that we choose through a democratic process. This bonding ritual has been a daily highlight, particularly this year.
Although I only watch shows recommended by those I trust, I soon realized that resisting the zeitgeist is futile, particularly in a pandemic. …
A pandemic year roundup of my favorite newsletters
In response to Shailaja V who asked me a question about what newsletters I like to read, here are my top 5:
1. Word-a-day: A daily trickle of words that enriches my vocabulary.
2. The On Being Project: A weekly newsletter that succinctly captures the gentle but inspiring ethos of the eponymous podcast with Krista Tippet.
3. What I read this month: A newsletter by author Gretchen Rubin, who lists all the books she reads in a month.
4. Maria Popova’s Brain Pickings: a weekly anti-aging shot for my brain cells.
5. The Curious Reader newsletter: Now extinct but a rare one that illuminated the literary scene in India with their carefully curated lists and friendly website. …
In December of each year, my family sits around a glass jar for our annual appraisal ritual. The ordinary jar purchased from Ikea and previously used for storing mango pickle, contains notes and index cards, quickly scribbled and dropped in by each member of the family at various times during the year.
The jar holds the trivial details of our individual lives and serves as a short term repository of our collective memory, before they are transformed into our annual family newsletter.
The four of us sit cross-legged on the carpet and take turns to pick out one short hand-written message each. …