Why beginners give up on meditation and why you shouldn’t

I don’t know whether you’ve considered adding meditation to your daily routine. Or even weekly routine. This post is for someone who is in two minds about starting their meditation practice. If you’re wondering whether it’s worth your time, or if you’ve just begun and aren’t seeing results. Or honestly, this is even for someone who’s a seasoned meditator. Maybe you need a reminder of meditation’s many miraculous benefits.

We live in a time where more and more people are spiritually inclined. It is estimated that 200-500 million people meditate worldwide. Throw in a pandemic, with its uncertainty, anxiety and even grief for so many, and you have large numbers of people desperately trying to find calm.

But beginnings are not always easy. There are lots of people who claim that meditation is just not for them. The reasons? Sometimes it’s boredom. Or that they can’t focus. Or that they feel it’s a waste of time. Or the most popular one, they just don’t have that kind of time. Few people LOVE meditation when they just get started. But you know what? Meditation is a practice. A practice is something that you only see results in when you’re consistent. Kinda like football. Missed football practice for a week? No sweat (unintended pun), try again next week. You will feel uncomfortable, just like you do when you re-start your workout routine after a long interval. You will doubt whether it was a good idea in the first place, just like you do when you start a new diet. But just like your workout and diet, YOU ONLY SEE RESULTS WHEN YOU DON’T SLACK OFF. Sorry for the caps, but I really want you to try this for 21 days consistently. For at least 30 minutes each day. Then tell me it’s not working. I guarantee you there will be progress.

Oh, there’s another catch. And this is a big one. The whole point of meditation is to NOT want to see results. Ok, now this whole thing just sounds silly, you say? I’ve got you. What I mean is that when you sit in meditation hoping to see something miraculous or waiting to feel better or get an aha moment; you’re defeating the purpose. The clarity will come. The fireworks will come. The manifestation will come. Sometimes during meditation, sometimes after. But it only comes when your mind is not waiting in desperation for it to happen. Yes, meditate with intention. Intention goes a long way. The intent for clarity, for manifestation, for reducing anxiety, for better focus. But don’t be hellbent on results and then give up when you don’t see any. The first step is always hard.

Here are some side effects of meditation for beginners and how to overcome them:

  1. You will get bored

This one is bound to happen. After a while, sitting in quiet meditation will bore you and you’ll want to get up and do something else. Heck, sometimes I get bored even now. Some days are just not meant for meditation. Our minds are distracted by something in our past or future and sitting in silence is the last thing we want to do. But as Joe Dispenza says, those are the days to power through. Solution? Give it 15 minutes. Sit for 15 minutes after you’ve declared yourself bored. You may get up frustrated after those 15 minutes. In fact, you almost surely will. But pushing through wires your brain to not be reactive. It trains your mind to treat boredom as a natural stimulus that can be overcome. Trust me, with passing time, those 15 minutes will not seem as hard.

2. Your mind will wander

The whole point of meditation is to calm your mind. And in self-defence, your mind starts to remind you of all the seemingly important stuff you need to think of. It happens to EVERYONE. The best thing to do in this situation? Tell your mind, “Thank you mind, for calming down.” This is not an order, it’s an affirmation. You’re not forcing your mind to calm down, rather you’re speaking it into existence. Repeat this three times. Then, if any thought comes up, and it will, just watch it. Watch it as you would a person entering a room. The room is the mind. You watch the thought enter the front door and you watch it leave the back door. Practising watching your thoughts leave is a powerful way to disassociate from them. You’ll start to enjoy the emptiness of the room with time.

3. Negative feelings might surface

When I first started meditating, I hated it. For this very reason. Meditation made me feel worse. Negative feelings about an experience or person would bubble up. It could be an unpleasant event, a grudge or simply an imagined situation. I read up one day about why this happens. Turns out, this is the soul’s way of cleansing guilt, fear and anger. Only when we release negative energies from the past can we bring a clean slate to the practice. So I started to sit with the feelings and not take them too seriously. That did the trick. The negative feelings would arise and then fizzle away. Over time, they stopped coming.

4. The bell will ring the exact moment you sit

Ever heard of Murphy’s Law? It states, “In an endeavour, anything that can go wrong will go wrong”. (I don’t believe in this law anymore, btw, especially since I started meditating.) But sure enough, this has happened to me many times. The minute I’d sit down in meditation, the doorbell would ring. Or my boss would ping me. Or the kids downstairs would start to wail. “Oh, the universe doesn’t want me to meditate then?”, I’d say. And then re-schedule another time. Like I said earlier, beginnings are the hardest.

5. You’ll remember your to-do list

OMG if I could count the number of times that I’ve added to my to-do list in meditation! It’s as if my inbuilt calendar comes alive with reminders for that very duration. And it makes sense. Because we’re sitting in silence, often our mind is highly functional during that time. What I do is I quickly grab my phone, make a note of the task and then put it out of my mind. I can always get back to that errand once meditation is over. In fact, it’s more likely I will since I’ve written it down. The hyper-productivity is a plus for meditation, as long as you get to your tasks afterwards.

6. You’ll want to relive your ‘good’ meditation moments

Maybe you had a great session last week. You felt euphoria, or you managed to sit for a long time without distraction. Well, stop trying to recreate your past meditations. Remember, advancement in meditation is about stepping out of your comfort zone. If you felt surreal and happy in your last meditation, great. Don’t put performance pressure on your current one. Often, feeling a range of emotions or thinking different thoughts is our intuition’s way of signalling us. Don’t suppress your intuition with expectations. As I said earlier, meditation is a practice. One great session doesn’t mean much if you’re not consistent.

Finding time to meditate is hard since we’re all busy individuals. We all have bills to pay, families to tend to, and tasks to complete. So don’t be hard on yourself. If the inspiration to meditate has come to you, follow through. Find whatever time you can. Meditation need not be perfect. You just need to make progress, little by little. And trust me, you will. Even when you feel you aren’t.

Why I started Consciously Creative and my introduction!

girl standing by the sea

Hi everyone! I’m Romita. You’re probably here from my very recently started page called Consciously Creative. Social media can be so one-sided sometimes (I honestly have a love-hate relationship with Instagram). So I thought of writing a blog for you, though you could think of this as a letter or a note. I thought this could be a great way to pour my heart out to all of you. With no character limits! More importantly, I hope to build a more meaningful relationship with everyone here and maybe get to know you on a deeper level. If you’d allow me. Since Consciously Creative is a pretty new page, in its infancy really, I know a lot of you might be wondering who in the world I am 😀

I totally get it, Instagram is constantly trying to sell each one of us something. A new face oil, an aspirational lifestyle or a new dream. If I had a lottery ticket for every time I’ve seen the ‘I quit my job to travel the world’ kinda sponsored posts, I’d probably have made some pretty neat cash by now. Probably. So I get it if you’ve already slotted me as ‘one of those girls on IG who keep telling everyone to be vegan, mend their clothes and meditate’ 😊. Oh boy, that does sound like me haha though I’m not vegan. 

I didn’t start Consciously Creative to sell you anything. But instead of trying to justify that to you, I’ll tell you an incident that happened to me a while ago. I’ve been, knowingly and unknowingly, guided down the path of holistic living and spirituality for the last 6 years. I studied fashion in college and worked in retail for a few years but something always felt amiss. In 2016, I was introduced to the book called Conversations with God by Neale Donald Walsch. Not to sound dramatic, but the book made a sea shift in the way I think and perceive the world. One thing led to another: I read many books, practised different forms of meditation, learnt ways of living a conscious and mindful life through Eastern traditional wisdom, continued to practise yoga and learnt about healing and homeopathy from my mother (she’s a homeopath).

I noticed a common pattern. Whenever I would stay on the path of spirituality and consciousness, not just through meditation but also through eating right, doing yoga and most importantly focusing on gratitude and happy thoughts, things would easily fall into place. Like a master jigsaw puzzle artist. (Is that a thing?! It totally should be.) But when I would slack, fall back into old ways of living the way we’ve been conditioned to, creating from matter instead of creating from the field (more on that some other day), that’s when I would fall flat on my face. Nothing seemed to ever go my way, it was like the cosmos was out to get me. *Did I mention I was dramatic?* Instead of being the master jigsaw artist, I was looking all over the house for a piece I’d left behind at my neighbour’s. Only to realise I shouldn’t have been making that puzzle in the first place.

Long story short there I was in 2020, trying to meditate. Telling myself I would dedicate more time and energy to further my meditation practice. I was tired and resentful when it came to my so-called professional life, with years of doing jobs and projects that my heart really wasn’t in. I was good at most of the things I did, not gonna lie, but something always felt off. More importantly, the few projects or opportunities I actually wanted to work on would fall through for strange inexplicable reasons. And this happened so many times that it wasn’t feeling like a coincidence anymore. And in spiritual speak, when stuff like that happens your higher self is trying to tell you something. So I got out of meditation and this line just came out of nowhere, “You don’t have to have it all figured out in this moment. Teach what you have to learn.”

Me: “Well umm ok… but what is it that I want to learn?”

Voice in my head (higher self): “Well, what lights up your eyes?”

Me: “Ok I know the answer to that… I love speaking about how to live in harmony with nature and our environment and most importantly to live in harmony with our soul, our purpose or higher calling. I want to show people that we CAN minimise our waste, both in our homes and our minds. I want to show people that we CAN live an efficient, affordable and holistic life by reducing the harmful substances we take in through air, food, water and clothing. I absolutely LOVE to be of help to people who are in despair, mentally, physically or spiritually, to show them hope, to show them their Grandest Self. And yes, in the process I’m going to be on the path of being My Grandest Self. 

Voice: *Silence*

Me: “So I guess that’s what I’m going to do then?”

I went to sleep, my mind exhausted with this weird download of information.

A couple weeks later, I was making my vision board; an activity I like to do and that’s given me positive results in the past. I decided to write on the board a gist of the info I’d received the other day. I wrote something like “Connecting with people on spirituality, slow living and ancient wisdom.” And next to that, quite mindlessly, in green coloured pen mind you, I wrote, CONSCIOUSLY CREATIVE. All caps. I even have a picture to prove it. A few seconds later I realised what I’d written and thought, “Ah! Ok… that’s an apt name I guess.” I didn’t know if it would be the final name or anything, but I left it on my vision board anyway.

I opened up my copy of Conversations with God the same evening, just to do a few minutes of reading. This is something I do often to align my thoughts and emotions and gear me up for meditation. I guess it just puts me in a positive state of mind. One thing I’ve noticed about this book is that often when I have an issue or a question in my mind, the book opens to a page that holds the answer to my current dilemma. So this time I opened the book to a random page, not even knowing what my current dilemma really was, and declared, “Show me a sign. Anything.”

And there it was, right on that page, the only phrase written in italics, Consciously Creative.

So no, not trying to sell you anything. Just learning along the way, trying to maximise the little harmony and happiness that I’ve achieved through this wonderful (though fleeting) state called consciousness. I hope BOTH you and me can benefit from it and be our Grandest Self. I hope you join me.

Instagram inspired me to embrace my Indianness and learn Kathak


‘She believed she could, so she did! #keeplearning #sundayfunday’, read superstar Aliaa Bhatt’s Instagram post from three years ago. The A-list Bollywood actress’s mid-twirl Kathak spin piqued my curiosity. Was Aliaa dedicating her Sunday to learn a classical dance form? Of course, it must have to do with an upcoming film but was she actually proudly flaunting this new skill?


The Bong Connection: Artsy and proud of it

Being born to a Bengali family, the arts have been encouraged in me since childhood. At age 7, my grandma would diligently take me for Bharatanatyam classes thrice a week in Kolkata and then make me practise the steps at home. Even now, a one-off rehearsed performance at the annual Durga Puja is met by great persuasion by relatives. “Why don’t you take up dancing seriously?” I went on to learn a bit of contemporary jazz in school, thinking it was a more acceptable alternative to traditional dance. I was good at it, but left it in the name of preparing for my board exams. That was the end of my dance prowess as I knew it.

The City Girl: Culture is replaced by the daily hustle

I left Kolkata at 9, and city-hopped my way around the metros of India till 30; studying, working and soul-searching, all at the same time. As an urban millennial in the fashion industry, I realised that Indian heritage was something I plugged when it worked to my advantage. My culture sounded interesting in a SOP letter to a foreign university. Doing yoga seemed cool mainly because I hate the gym. Khadi and ‘Make in India’ were marketing jargons in fashion campaigns. Kathak didn’t even feature in my mindspace.

Nationalist yardsticks: Where Gen Z steps in

Today, the media (or Twitter, where the youth forms their opinions) seems to be split on their idea of Indianness. In a time where the right makes bold displays of patriotism and the left underplays it in the name of being overbearing on minorities, what has that meant for Indian culture? This is where Gen Z steps in. Or at least the famous brood on Instagram. Janhvi Kapoor breezes into upscale restaurants in her salwar kameez post-Kathak sesh, and Sara Ali Khan fluently does Hindi shayari simultaneously professing how much she misses NYC. Alaya F proudly and frequently drops her famous Kathak guru’s name amid her pancake-breakfast pics, and Kriti Sanon is well, known to be a trained classical dancer. Why pick a side? That’s what Gen Z seems to be saying, being very apolitical about it. And isn’t that beautiful?


Kathak over Pilates: The biased decision

I have to say it was Janhvi Kapoor’s super-graceful Salaam rehearsal on Insta that sealed the deal for me. Come lockdown, and Madhuri Dixit’s Instagram Kathak riyaz, ghungroos et al seemed like a sign from the universe, nudging me to give up procrastination and dive in. One day, when my college friend said she was interested in doing online classes during quarantine, I finally jumped to the moment. ‘I can always give up if I don’t like it’, I thought, in true millennial fashion. Plus, it would be like a fun new workout, and I won’t make a fool of myself at Pilates. One month into classes, and my posture thanks my decision. Not to mention the hurting biceps from holding up those mudras. But it’s all good. I hate to admit it, but I did it thanks to the gram.

Read about more of my quarantine pastimes here http://romitaroy.com/2020-new-year-resolutions/

2020 was my year of unabandoned New Year resolutions: Here are a few

2020 new year resolutions

At the beginning of 2020, making new year resolutions with the foreseeable future in mind seemed futile. Little did one know of the time one would find at hand, and the many hobbies and creations that would emerge from quarantine. It was like a science experiment; put humans within four walls with limited access to the outside and watch how they keep themselves entertained. Be it as pretty as focaccia art or monumental as starting a home business, ticking off those ‘will do in my free time’ boxes seemed for once doable. My progress was mostly predictable in the beginning- endless couch potato sessions of Peaky Blinders (hello sleep cycle) and telling myself I needed to finish that leftover baked cake incase it goes bad. But the turn of events (mainly watching all that depressing news) made me wonder, what if I could slightly re-script the gloom story and make it a tad worth it in the end? Could keeping a resolution feel like a small personal win and get me out of the funk so to speak? It was worth a try.

The resolutionest of resolutions: Weightloss in quarantine. How dare I even suggest such a thing amirite?

Everyone makes a resolution to lose weight in Jan, but weightloss when everyone is trying their quarantine kitchen skills was a bit of a far-fetched goal. So this resolve came purely from the constant push of my yoga teacher, whose ‘muffin-top burners’ and side planks made eating that extra dessert feel like a cardinal sin. Of course there was a whole handmade pizza phase I went through in March but I’d like to think I balanced it out with enough hot lemon water. Point is, I’m fairly happy that my pants are now two inches loose at the waist, and no I’m not gloating. #GlowUpJourney

Digital marketing diploma because I’m too lazy to do an MBA

Upskilling was a big word in 2020. But when an Indian parent tells you to get an MBA but you know inside you suck at math and there’s no way you’ll crack the entrances? If that’s not you then good for you, but I figured that a Digital Marketing course would help me understand the crazy world of social media a bit better and at the same time give me an insight into marketing at a self-paced, more customised kinda way. I did the course at Upgrad which you’ve probably heard of thanks to their excellent marketing abilities. It gave me access to professors at MICA which was cool and also made me feel more productive with their assignments and deadlines.

Who learns Kathak in 2020? I did thanks to Janhvi Kapoor’s Instagram

I wrote about the mini identity crisis I felt about my decision to take up Kathak classes in another article. My friend Sakshi suggested the idea and I jumped on it, though the thought had crossed my mind earlier mainly thanks to Janhvi and Madhuri Dixit’s riyaaz posts. I’d dabbled in dance during school; a bit of Bharatnatyam and contemporary jazz, and quite enjoyed myself. Last Durga Puja I did a small performance at our Kolkata building’s cultural gathering (it’s a Bong thing to do) after which I got the much-needed encouragement from relatives to pursue this passion. Of course I procrastinated for another 6 months but you get the idea.

I tried my hand at Procreate and was surprised at how addictive it can get

I always had the illustration bug, and though I loove painting (with brushes the old-fashioned way) and Adobe Illustrator (a vector software for you non-design folks), one of my resolutions was to pick up something non-tedious and more instantly gratifying (so millennial). Procreate seemed like the answer. It required me to buy an iPad especially to use it, so that serves as the motivation to not slack off and keep at learning some of the cool features.

French lessons which started out for immigration but continued for the Parisian chic vibe

The little bit of French I’d learned in seventh grade wasn’t enough for my PR application, so it made sense for me to take up a French course suited to take the DELF exam. While my French has progressed from Comment allez-vous? to Voulez vous couchez avec moi ce soir (Kardashian Lady Marmalade video reference), I’m still not confident enough to actually say anything that makes complete sense. Sidenote: Youtube Bradley Cooper French interview, that man is just beyonddd <3

What resolutions did you make in 2020 and how many did you keep? What new skills or hobbies did you take up? And what do you plan on pursuing in 2021? Spill the tea in the comments! Read here: I attended a Zoom book club meeting for fun.

Thirty Flirty and Surviving: the 90s kids step into their thirties

turning 30

I turned thirty in the June of this particularly apocalyptic year. Filled up on wine, I decided to catch a snooze before going on video call with some friends, half-wishing I would wake up in the future. Of course, this idea was a cheap knockoff of the Jennifer Garner rom-com 13 going on 30. Jennifer wakes up from a 13th birthday party (chanting ‘thirty, flirty and thriving’) as a 30-year old woman, only to realise she doesn’t like this future version of herself.  Oh well, here goes my chance of telling you other 90s kids what the future holds. Or to course correct my present life because duh, that’s what time travel is for.

Not figuring out time travel isn’t the only thing I haven’t mastered. Turning thirty will not feel any different; you’ll still feel irritable at 7 am and wish you hadn’t watched an entire season the night before. But the universe seems to conspire to not let you forget this fact. “At your age I was the Captain of a ship!” my Dad yells. “How to start looking after your skin in your thirties” a magazine cover reads. “Looking for adventure? Thrilling travel options for singles in their thirties”. And the most striking, “Forbes 30 under 30 list of brightest young entrepreneurs.” Clearly, there are a lot of things I’m yet to accomplish, and being a Forbes entrepreneur is the least of them.

Of course, the nineties were spent being blissfully unaware of the rollercoasters the future would bring. Little did I know that Macarena would cease to be an accepted dance form, or that I’d have to spend my tweens looking for acid-washed jeans that fit. I didn’t know I would have to see the 9/11 in my formative years or face the repercussions of the Recession well into my adulthood; only to be reinforced by a pandemic.

So as I step into an anti-climactic third decade, surrounded by the foggy future, I realise it is time to make up my own rules. A singular wave has dismantled all sense of normalcy, the systems we had put in place and the checklists we ran in our heads each morning. This is a reminder that there is power in destruction, and beauty at the other end of a storm. More importantly, what is really real is what you claim it to be.

If you’ve skimmed till this part and want a TLDR, here are some rules I’ve made up for the new normal:

  1. I won’t be bound to my own script. Though there is lots more for me to explore and achieve, I’ll let life surprise me. I’ll keep my mind open to the possibilities that come my way.
  2. I will be informed but not necessarily opinionated.  Compassion almost always overrules judgement. Misinformation is dangerous, jumping to a conclusion is worse.
  3. I will enjoy the joys of a relationship rather than rush to give it a label. This way I can explore how much more a relationship can give me beyond the box I have put them into.
  4. I will give to another what I wish to experience.
  5. I will not fall prey to the illusion of Separation. It only takes a phone to a friend to understand how we are all connected on a deep cellular level, sailing the same Noah’s Ark.
  6. I will (try my best to) pay it no mind. I will breathe and take in this moment. Before it slips out of my hand.

And most importantly, I will just be. In pure 90s spirit, smoking a Phantom sweet cigarette, hopping on to a metaphorical Hogwarts Express.

I attended a Zoom Book Club Meeting and here’s how it went

zoom book club

Rekindling the love for books keeping social distancing in mind, virtual book clubs come with their own endearing glitches

One thing that’s been getting TLC in these times of crisis? Our long-neglected pile of books. Interestingly, I started the new year with the resolve to read more and enrolled myself in a monthly book club organised by the building. I thought; well my job might not give me the time but what the hell, atleast I’d have read something. I’m only three months in when this pandemic has hit the world, but that has only brought this bibliophile closer to her first love- books. But how does one hold book clubs while social distancing? With another beneficiary of this crisis- wait for it- Zoom meetings. Make merry while the WiFi’s working, I say. Here’s what went down.

What did you say? I can only see your nostrils!

Let’s be real, there’s only so many of us who are tech-savvy enough to wade through isolation like little has changed. Online wallets and Skype are not for the uninitiated. This took me back to days of expensive data packs when couples in college would bond over Skype in the evenings. There was more of “Can you hear me?”, “Fix your mic!” “Oh god my double chin is showing” than the minutes of fruitful conversation.

Haye! Tom Hanks ko bhi ho gaya?

I got so caught up in the wonders of Zoom I didn’t mention the book we were discussing. It’s called The Dutch House, written by Ann Patchett about two siblings set at the end of the WWII. One of the reasons the book gained popularity is because the audio version is narrated by our ill-fated pandemic poster boy, Tom Hanks. “Hey bhagwan!” A lady said, “Pehle mujhe laga ki ab book kaise complete ho paayegi?” Amid many facepalms, someone quietly assured her he had recorded his narration well in advance. This boomeranged to another morose discussion, “Hollywood ko Corona ho sakta hai toh hum kya cheez hai?”

Guys I’m sharing my screen, I’ve made notes

So Zoom has this feature of sharing your laptop screen with your call buddies. (I think I can be an efficient salesperson for this company once this lockdown is over.) Coming back to the book in question, there are, of course, a few who’ve actually read it. And then there is the rare breed who make notes of the chapters on an excel sheet and highlight the key points they want to discuss. Ok maybe I exaggerated, not an excel sheet but a Notes page nonetheless. Of course, this person is itching to be the first to discuss the book. (That’s what you do at book clubs, Gen Z.) And we launch into a thesis of why Danny should value his sister more and how the author is using the ‘house’ as a metaphor for… I don’t know, something.

What book? I’m so done with all the house work and everyone hates my cooking!

I understand pastime reading is not for those struggling with their kid’s sassy comments on their cooking. “They keep asking me where Nalini Bai went. They want her parathas instead!” This makes it harder to stay on topic, especially since the meeting is treated as a much-deserved chai break. One where you don’t need to make chai for anyone but yourself. The exhausted lot are really there to listen to someone else talk, or discuss if Monaco biscuits with ketchup can count for a legit meal.

Are all the signs pointing towards the same thing? Is the world going to end?

Then there are those like me, who three chapters in, are really just looking to relate everything they see or read to the world around them. “Even the book is morbid, the mother dies and the father marries another woman”, said a lady, as if this explained the existential dread she was feeling. “God knows when this situation will get better, I’m so anxious all the time. When I do jhadu I understand where all the hair on my head is going!” *drops the book*

To keep yourself humored during quarantine, do read ‘Love In the Time of Corona’. Hope you’re staying safe!

Love in the Time of Corona

love in the time of corona

“And exhale…rub your palms, don’t wipe your face”, said my yoga teacher upon ending the class.

There are hushed whispers in the class among the ladies, about the person who’s just been quarantined in Thane. “He had come back from Dubai and showed no Corona symptoms.”, a lady said. “It’s way more serious than the government is letting on”, another said, wide-eyed. “Hospitals are sending people back saying it’s common flu. So many cases are going undetected.” A woman in bridge pose quipped, “Atleast China has robots to handle the sick. We don’t even have that.”

My memories went back to the SARS outbreak of 2003. Panic had ensued in the media and in my school, where teachers (they only meant well) would say things like, “Don’t come in contact with anyone from China! Wear masks to school! Boys and girls don’t sit close to each other!” In anguish I cried to my Dad one night, begging him not to go to work. I still remember his response, “There are many ways to die in this world. SARS is just one of them.”

When the news of Covid-19 first came out in January, the rumours flew fast and wild. “These Chinese are testing dangerous weapons on bats.” “The kind of food they eat, this was bound to happen. They sell land, water and air animals together in their supermarkets.” Shit hit the roof when an image from a 1981 Dean Koontz novel page did the rounds on Whatsapp. “They call the stuff Wuhan-400 because it was developed at their RDNA labs outside of the city of Wuhan, and it was the four-hundredth viable strain of man-made microorganisms created at that research center.”, it read. Did Koontz have any idea that four decades later, his prophecy would prove fact is stranger than fiction?

I watched in awe as pictures of newlyweds kissing in masks emerged from China. I watched as toilet paper became a precious resource and gold rates soared high. I watched fashion week get cancelled, even as Naomi Campbell posted her space-suit like ‘Beat Corona’ airport look. The super-rich were retiring to their secluded private yachts, newspapers reported. N95 masks and sanitizers were increasingly being added to shopping carts as the stock markets veered dangerously low.

My own personal low came when my mom forbade me from attending my best friend’s wedding. Scheduled in the midst of a city-wide public gathering ban, my mother threw a fit at the idea of me taking a flight to Delhi. “Are you mad? What if someone sneezes on the catering! All the airport escalators and seats are infected!” This was after me not telling her that most of the relatives were coming from Kerala. My temperature rose just by the thought of my friend never speaking to me her entire life. I was ready to brave the virus, not the wrath of my friend.

Depressed, I tried to make the most of staying upbeat inside the walls of my home, competing for WiFi data usage. My grandma, who otherwise tends to be forgetful, asked me in Bengali whether “the difficulties” happening in the news would mean the postponement of my aunt’s annual trip from the States. My grandfather, up until now had been gleefully enjoying his daily paper and taking great pride in staying abreast of current affairs. One morning at breakfast he blankly stated, “the worrying thing is that the first death in India is that of a 70-plus man. Us old people seem to be at far greater risk.” Knowing better than to indulge their anxiety I repeated the golden mantra, “Keep washing your hands and don’t touch your face. If someone wants to greet you, just say Namaste”. I wondered if the ruling party would take credit for the Namaste brainwave. In any case, the reliable WhatsApp university was doing the rounds claiming the Upanishads advocate maintaining a three feet distance in society; that handshakes and hugging were an evil from the West.

Which brings me to Tom Hanks, for no good reason. Actually, he is the narrator of the Audible book I’m listening to this month, The Dutch House. Midway between him serenading me with his antics of being Danny- his character in the book; he got diagnosed with, you guessed it, Corona.  The girls in my book club (yes, I have one) wailed. “How will I finish the book now?”, they said, as if he was whispering it live into their ears.

Humour was one way to stay survive the gloom. “Did you order Chilli Chicken?” my friend joked when I told him I had a slight dry cough. “Or receive a shipment from Alibaba?” The Punjabi pop music scene exploded expectedly, with songs like “Yaar Tera Kudiye Corona Varga”. Because what good is your lover if the death toll doesn’t rise by his sheer machismo?  Mrs. Dow Jones, who explains finance terms in her Insta account, is going meme-crazy with posts on her “her ex” Warren Buffet would buy the market dip. Others like Rujuta Diwekar, the celebrity nutritionist, found it an apt time for some business-related gags., “For those who plan on starting exercise from tomorrow, gyms kal se band hai.” 

My yoga teacher, mid-camel pose, suddenly breaks the air of dread, “I’m so worried schools will shut down.” Everyone looked at her, quizzically. “How will I handle the kids at home all day?”

Listen to your Mother when she says you have enough clothes & easy steps to be a responsible consumer

how to be a responsible consumer

I often undertake what I call a ‘wardrobe organisational exercise’ every 2 months (read half-yearly) to make the interiors of my cupboard neat and orderly. This almost always results in three things:

a. my room looks like it’s been hit by a tornado,

b. I get a mini panic attack when I realise the new jeans I assumed would be hidden under a pile are still missing, and

c. I discover an item from 5 years ago that I thought I’d wear when I find an appropriate occasion/ item to go with.

The last situation is particularly important as well as detrimental. The daydreamer I am, I would leave the current task to dream up of occasions where the particular embroidered coat in my hand would be appropriate to wear (fellow mind-stylists, raise your hand). When will Halloween become mainstream here? Because I have a Mary Poppins-themed party to throw.

  • Clothes look best when worn

Halloween or no Halloween, you can make clothes work with a little creativity and a lot of YouTube styling videos. Sustainability in Style, combines my two loves: fashion and our planet, with innovative courses. Don’t be afraid of those jazzy trousers, they might just garner compliments from colleagues. At the very least you can always dress it down with your boring black sweater. Jokes apart, I believe there is a maximalist inside all of us who can find an occasion to wear that particular ‘difficult’ item. Remind yourself why you bought it in the first place. If you’ve outgrown it, upcycle or donate! Takeaway: If it’s in regular usage, it’s not waste.

  • Ask questions

Do I really need it? What is the long-term use of this product? Is there an alternative? Does it harm the environment? It’s important to atleast start a dialogue by engaging in questions. There’s a wonderful app (of which I’m hoping an Indian version comes out soon) called Good On You. With the aim of helping people make better purchase decisions, the app rates brands basis the transparency of information they share with their customers. Takeaway: Read the fine print, and there’s no harm in asking a brand to disclose their supply chain details.

  • Don’t leave the tap on while brushing

Concern for the planet is holistic: apart from making informed decisions about your wardrobe, be mindful about the small actions of your daily routine. Eat local as much as you can, save water, grow your own herbs and switch off the lights when not in use. Fact: A best-out-of-waste Diwali lantern competition at my office revealed that the maximum waste generated at work was not factory waste, (I work at a jewelry manufacturing company) but used paper cups. This resulted in the company gifting each employee their own ceramic mug to drink from! Takeaway: Sustainability begins at home, there’s a world of a difference an individual can make.

  • Make it fun and creative for your tribe

Scroll Instagram and you’ll find so much good work being done and you’ll come back inspired. Why don’t you return the favour? Next festive season, make a gift list that helps your loved ones reduce waste! A low carbon impact birthday party? Why not? Or bring out your Breaking Bad skills and cook up a lip balm recipe for you and your friends. Head on to Em Ehlers Instagram profile @ecowithem_ for some killer inspo. A Bsc. in Sustainability, she knows her stuff. Takeaway: leading by example not only makes being eco-friendly easy on others, but drives the point without being preachy.

  • Support Small

Next time you go shopping, research fair trade organisations, local artisans and NGOs. Try to ensure that the proceeds go back to supporting the livelihood of whoever wove, embroidered, knitted or sewed your product. Chances are you won’t be skimping on quality or price, and the slight markup would be the handmade cost. In the long run it all adds to its longevity and exclusiveness. Your local Hunar Haat is a good place to begin. Here’s a wonderful intensive guide to India’s farmers markets. Takeaway: You know your money is going to the right place if atleast a part of it is directly returned to the artisan or manufacturer.

  • Don’t be quick to judge

Everyone has been the cause or victim of ‘eco-judgement’ now and then. If you don’t want the zero-waste police to crack down on you, make sure you don’t sound like one either. It’s more likely to ‘convert’ people tactfully through example than by laying on a guilt-tripping tone. Watch how Lindsay Miles does it. Change is tough on anyone, and it’s not like there’s a Bible out there for the eco-friendly (yet). However, be sure to stand by your choices and opinions and be vocal about what works for you! Takeaway: Build a network of people interested in similar stuff, that way you can inspire and stay inspired.

Deconstructing the Sari: India’s most sustainable garment

sari feature image

A sari is never really thrown away. Then why don’t we cherish each item in our wardrobe as dearly as a sari?

When I visited Kolkata last year for the annual Durga Puja celebration, I attended one of my grandmother’s tea parties. Lounging in her couch in the carefree ease that only comes after a certain age, I found her in a Berkeley campus t-shirt paired with a rather fashionable wrap-around skirt. In her gleaming white hair and flip-flops, she would not have looked out of place in one of those streetwear blogs where anything goes in the name of high fashion. When I inquired about her skirt, she casually said, “Oh I stopped wearing this as a sari and so turned it into a skirt.” The design of it- with an elastic waistband and a stylish ankle-length was far from haphazard. To me, it was upcycling done right – both conscious as well as aesthetically beautiful.

Later in Mumbai, I chanced upon the brand ‘I was a Sari’ at the Artisans Gallery in Fort. Rows of beautifully packaged earrings, pouches and scarves were showcased in fabrics that looked all too familiar to every Indian. It seemed that all the old saris from our motherland had been bundled up to breathe new life into accessories and lifestyle products.

And that’s when it dawned on me. If you come to think of it, a sari is never really thrown away. It holds many memories and a whole lot of sentiment to be cast away carelessly. At the most, it may be donated to the less privileged or even cut up into dishcloth. And that’s what makes it India’s OG sustainable garment.

  • A mark of Circular economy

It is not unknown that a circular economy has not only huge environmental benefits but can also present opportunities for various businesses. A Hitachi report estimated that moving towards a circular economy path could bring in annual benefits of US $624 billion (approx.) Resource rotation is ingrained in the DNA of traditional households of India and is practised in the villages to this date. Necessity being the mother of invention, villages still use cow dung for cooking fuel and compost for growing vegetables on a farm patch.  And that’s where the Sari steps in. All-forgiving, all-encompassing, it is the true mark of relentless use and re-use of a single garment. Every Indian lady knows how their mother’s wedding saree has been passed down to the next generation. It has never gone out of style, rather has persisted beyond lifetimes and morphed into ever-changing trends with ease.

  • Fighting the good fight

Look at the stats of the global fashion world and you’re sure to get depressed: the industry is responsible for 10% of greenhouse gas emissions, 20% of wastewater, and consumes more energy than airline and shipping combined. However, there are a number of NGOs and indie artisan brands working towards the cause. NGO Goonj heroically creates sanitary pads out of fabric scrap, sent by workshops and ateliers across the country. One such atelier is that of Megha Nayak, who started LataSita, with the sole purpose of revamping old saris. Having dressed the likes of Arundhati Roy and Ayushmann Khurrana, she dreams of having a ‘travelling saree upcycling clinic’, in the metro cities to expand her business. Leesha Agarwal’s Adah by Leesha grew from similar interest. Disturbed by the amount of scrap that goes into landfills, she started a label that’s motto includes “strong belief in using every inch of the fabric”.

  • Responsibility towards artisans

A sari is a nothing short of a labour of love, craftsmanship and hours of sweat. Often a thankless one. A Banarasi on a handloom takes anything from 15 days to a month, the intricate ones even taking up to 6 months to weave. The knowledge of the craft is handed down generations and is rapidly being forgotten in lieu of more lucrative professions. A Kanjeevaram weaver is “makes 10,000 rupees in three months, that too depending on customer demands.”, reported an article in the Newsminute. Our country’s inherent respect for the handmade and growing concern for these dying crafts have made the sari a treasured possession, with revivalists working tirelessly to bring back the golden era of Indian handloom.

  • Eco-friendly material

The new wave of conscious weaver associations and brands are trying to make saris ‘actually’ sustainable, meaning the raw material and dyes are eco-friendly. Tamil Nadu Handloom Weaver’s Co-operative Society Limited, not only uses organic cotton made without fertilizers and pesticides but uses vegetable dyes or natural colouring. Because what is the point of chemical dyes and processing on organic cotton? But that doesn’t mean that the bright polyester prints are necessarily cast away. Kishco Group, Mumbai, India deals with residues of imported fabrics (cotton, acrylic, wool, polyester, nylon etc.) during different production stages of fibre. Some of these materials are converted to fibres like poly waste yarn, poly-regenerated fibres, etc. Used clothing comprising of wool, acrylic and cotton sweater are converted into re-generated fibre by Kishco Group.

  • A sentiment

Ask any elderly lady from the subcontinent and she will regale you with stories of where she bought the saris in her wardrobe from. It would include how she went to great lengths to own a piece as unique as that one, the occasions she wore it to, the compliments she gathered, and probably even the exact name and location of the store. She will probably even tell you, proudly so, which sarees she handed down to her children and grandchildren, and how they wore it to important events in their life. This is the sentiment attached to every 6-yard of fabric in her collection, from the brocades to the mulmuls and even the more modern prints. It makes me wonder; if every item in our wardrobes were treated with so much love, that even to their last breath we would give it the honour it deserved, wouldn’t we be way more responsible consumers and more mindful human beings?

A Guide to Modern Day Yoga Poses (Asanas)

“Yoga se hi hoga”, was the resounding agreement by practitioners and students alike, on the recent International Yoga Day that went by. Social media was flooded with testimonies of miracle cases, crediting the ancient discipline to have sorted everything out from their kundalini to their cash flow.  

Just like everything else, millennials haven’t taken long to modify this centuries-old tradition to their justifiably jet-set lifestyles. Be it Hatha or Ashtanga, this generation has put their own fresh spin on postures. In case you’ve not come across these before, follow the guide below to perfect your pose. Here are 5 asanas for health, wealth, luck and the subtle art of not giving a fudge:

  1. Selfie- Asana

The most common of them all, and the most effective. Raise your hand at an optimum level to take the selfie, making sure to raise the chin to not show a balding forehead. Tilt face to flattering angle and proceed to click. It may take sometime until you are happy with the outcome, so don’t bother about your surroundings. Breathe. If you get knocked over, you will fall into the lap of Mother Nature (cliff/ ocean/ passers-by/ dog poop).


2. Crouching-Laptop-Hidden-Tummy Asana

You would require a bed for this asana. The less firm the mattress the better, and preferably no backrest. Take laptop and position it somewhere on the upper abdomen such that the neck is at a right angle with the rest of the body. Keep face as close to the screen as possible, and make sure the radiation heat from the laptop is felt. Feel your brain numb into nothingness, till you reach a point of nirvana.

Crouching-Tummy-Hidden-Laptop Asana

3. Brood-Asana

Best suited to Instagram and perfected by Kylie Jenner, this asana may require an idyllic setting as a backdrop. Kneel on the floor and jut out your posterior as you would in a squat. Rest your elbows on the knees and tilt head. Place fingers near lips, as if brooding over world issues. Adjust exhalation depending on how sombre you want to be perceived as.


4. Slouch- Asana

The best part about this asana is that it can be practised any time; while waiting in ATM queues, at movie ticket counters or grocery billing lines.  Droop shoulders to the original level of your armpits. Protude your tummy to align with your toes. Your spine should resemble a paper clip. Make sure to breathe heavily and audibly, allowing your tummy to visibly contract and expand with each breath.

Slouch- Asana

5. Pout-Asana

While there are many versions of this asana, it is practise that makes perfect. Make sure to prep lips in advance, with lip gloss, fillers or a bee sting. Stick out your hip as if about to pick something up from the floor. Keep upper spine erect. Now pucker up the lips, close one eye and make a peace sign with your free hand. Repeat until perfected.


And there you have it folks! It takes a lot to make it to dos on time, return phone calls and wrestle with FOMO, all the while stressing about one’s abysmal savings after splurging on a new handbag. But with a few minutes of daily practice, you too can partake of the benefits of these asanas, all the living the millennial high life. Happy Yoga!