Friday, 13 November 2020

These are a few of my favourite things


Sapiens - Yuval Noah Harari

Pride and prejudice - Jane Austen

Emma - Jane Austen

The four agreements - Don Miguel Ruiz

Dreams from my father - Barack Obama

The alchemist - Paulo Coelho

The scarlet pimpernel - Emmuska Orczy

Godan - Premchand

The da Vinci code - Dan Brown

A prisoner of birth - Jeffrey Archer

Geethaari - Su. Tamilselvi

Life of Pi - Yann Martel

The kite runner - Khaled Hosseini

Sivagamiyin sabadham - Kalki Krishnamurthy

Parthiban kanavu - Kalki Krishnamurthy

Ponniyin selvan - Kalki Krishnamurthy

The Harry Potter series

The Rozabal line - Ashwin Sanghi

Angels and demons - Dan Brown

Becoming - Michelle Obama

License to live - Priya Kumar (16 y/o me loved this)

Short stories:

The gift of the Magi - O. Henry

The necklace - Guy de Maupassant

The last question - Isaac Asimov

The helping hand - EM Forster

The absentminded man - Jerome K Jerome

What goes around comes around - Bryan Anderson (?)

Spell my name with an S - Isaac Asimov

The model millionaire - Oscar Wilde

The ant and the grasshopper - Somerset Maugham

The lottery ticket - Anton Chekov

Cat person - Kristen Roupenian

Profession - Isaac Asimov

Mr. Know-all - Somerset Maugham


The bishop's candlesticks - Norman McKinnel (Tugs at my heart every time I read it πŸ’“) |


Experience - Carl Sandburg | Such an incredible poem! πŸ’ž |

Throwing away the alarm clock - Charles Bukowski |

Nothing twice - WisΕ‚awa Szymborska |

So you want to be a writer - Charles Bukowski |

The summer day - Mary Oliver |

At the Theatre: To the Lady Behind Me - AP Herbert |

The mountain and the squirrel - Ralph Waldo Emerson |

Keeping quiet - Pablo Neruda |

I go down to the shore - Mary Oliver |

That reminds me - Ogden Nash |

Life-while-you-wait - WisΕ‚awa Szymborska |

The people upstairs - Ogden Nash |

For women who are difficult to love - Warsan Shire |

The peace of wild things - Wendell Berry |

Leisure - W.H.Davies |

The fourth sign of the zodiac - Mary Oliver - [I particularly love the third one πŸ’“]

Music albums: | Arunagiri Perumale | Such an incredible documentary/album. One of the things I loved about this was the common soundscape all the songs in the album seemed to share. Too lovely ❤️✨ | Entropy - Sid Sriram | Now this one did/continues to do something to me, only some of which I've been able to articulate, even to myself. I found it inspiring, in form and content: form, because it implicitly seemed to suggest that things we make, and by extension, we, and everything else in general, doesn't have to yield to neat categorization; content, because of the insane level of vulnerability it takes to reveal deeply personal things with the world at large. | 96 | Ek je chhilo raja | Uththama villan | Vaanam kottattum | Vinnaithaandi varuvaayaa | Humnasheen - Shreya Ghoshal | Mariyaan | Madharasapattinam | Achcham enbadhu madamaiyada


The Truman show

Dead poets society

My Dinner with Andre



Marriage story

Before sunset

Uththama villan

Helen (Malayalam)

The sound of music


The pianist


Flight plan


JoJo Rabbit


Dark waters

Vaayai moodi pesavum

Escape from Alcatraz


127 hours

A beautiful day in the neighbourhood

Taare zameen par

Rear window

Hey Ram


The intern




The lunchbox


Pride and prejudice

The judge



Anbe sivam

Murder mystery

Super Deluxe

The post

The platform

Inside out





Before sunrise


TV series:

House MD


Westworld - season 1

Mahabharat (Star Plus)


Pride and prejudice (BBC)


Evolution | (Ep 1)

The social dilemma

Our planet

Thamizhi | (Ep 1)

Night on earth

Arunagiri perumale |

The voyager |


The Enneagram - Richard Rohr

I tend to like the psychospiritual approach to self-knowledge better than the solely psychological or solely spiritual. And learning about the Enneagram/MBTI and even reading up psychology in general have me wondering 'Just how predictable are we?' This series of lectures was just wonderful!! (With the caveat that no one label can capture our true essence etc.)

Ideas like 'growth lies in the direction opposite our compulsions', 'how to look at/experience things the way they are, without projecting our preconceptions etc. on them?', and 'seeking to give, rather than get, in love, and life itself' had been swirling in my mind and watching these lectures was so enlightening ❤️ And SOOO fun 😁


xkcd -

smbc comics -

Pearls before swine -

Calvin and Hobbes -

Off the mark -

Bizarro -

Foxtrot -

Wondermark -

Dilbert -

Goattoself -


Articles etc.:

12Feb21 | On knowledge and understanding, by Aldous Huxley | Loved this very much ❤️ Shade-throwing Huxley is fun 🀣 |

8Feb21 | | 'Most number of weird things I've read in a single article' article

8-Sep-20 |

8-Sep-20 |

6-Sep-20 | Such a well-written article |

2-Sep-20 | Another article that resonated very much with me, forget the 'gifted' label |

2-Sep-20 |

1-Sep-20 |

31-Aug-20 |

30-Aug-20 | This hit close to home |

27-Aug-20 |

25-Aug-20 | This was particularly timely since I'd been grappling with a piece of abstract art and was trying hard to grasp it |

21-Aug-20 | This was toooooo damn good |

18-Aug-20 | Very, very interesting. And mirrors my experience of heartbreak (from a thing that existed almost solely in my head, no less 😏) and the aftermath|

18-Aug-20 |

14-Aug-20 | How to deal with a crisis of meaning |

11-Aug-20 | The 'gifted' tag aside, this article resonated SO MUCH with me |

10-Aug-20 | This blew my mind 🀯|

6-Aug-20 | School of life article (Existential) |


31-Jul-20 | Trying not to try |


3-Jul-20 | Fred Rogers profile |

Lenoardo da Vinci's to-do list |

Termites |,is%20Rocket%20Science%20%E2%80%94%20Andrew%20Kortina

Alan Watts on living with presence |

All-time favourite, this one |

The map is not the territory |

Everything Sid Sriram is πŸ’“ |

23-Jul-20 | An antidote to impostor syndrome |

19-Jul-20 | Everything Sid Sriram is πŸ’“ |

9-Jul20 | Secular hymns |

9-Jul-20 |

9-Jul-20 | What makes a good parent? |

18-Jun-20 | WH Auden on Virginia Woolf |

4-Jun-20 | Emergence, Tribalism |

19-May-20 | Mortality awareness refresher |

11Feb18 |

27Jan18 | Brilliant |

25Jan18 |

22Jan18 | Loved this to bits. Blew my mind |

19Jan18 | This made me cry |

30Dec17 | A tour of Saturn's rings |

30Dec17 |

28Dec17 |

27Dec17 | Annie Dillard's romantic account of a total eclipse -

27Dec17 | Polymaths |

27Dec17 |

11Nov17 | The chaos game, the sierpinski triangle and fractals| This BLEW my mind 🀯🀯🀯 | (Stumbled on this here:


Thursday, 12 November 2020

The Truman show


               My favourite kind of movie is one that is rich in allusion/metaphor. I watched three such movies recently, and loved all of them: ZootopiaThe platform, and The Truman show. While watching The Truman show, I simply couldn't shut up - I kept exclaiming about stuff I thought the movie was alluding to, despite the many side-eyes my siblings (who, for reasons I cannot fathom, like to watch movies wordlessly 🀷‍♀️) threw at me. But I had to tell someone, hence this post.

               Spoilers abound.

               - Reality television: The Truman show is a TV reality show (i.e. entirely contrived) that revolves around Truman, the protagonist, who is adopted by a corporation when he is an infant. Truman has lived his whole life on a Hollywood set, unaware that his every move is broadcast live, throughout the day. Even more perverse is the fact that every single person in his 'life' is in on it.

The creator of the show, writes/controls every aspect of Truman's life - who his parents are, who he marries, every word that every person in his life speaks - essentially playing God, so to speak. Playing God!

               - God/Religion: Isn't this how most religions perceive God? As the creator who runs everything in our lives, and is omniscient? Truman's losing his father in a storm, and his wife's leaving him - all the manufactured suffering in Truman's life, reminded me of this quote attributed to Jules Renard:
I don't know if God exists, but it would be better for His reputation if He didn't. 
And also this timely meme:

And I chuckled hard. (Probably going to hell for that, hehe.)

               Also, the little speech by Christof in the end, when Truman is about to leave the set (probably a metaphor for abandoning theism), to keep him from leaving, sounded very similar to godmen/holy scriptures that suggest that surrendering to God will keep Man safe/sheltered.

               - Psychoanalysis: Psychotherapy, in cases where phobia is involved, advocates (mentally/otherwise) revisiting the source of such fear in order to manage it/heal from it. Truman sails his way through to freedom by conquering his fear of water.

               How Truman eventually comes face to face with the same conditions that made him aquaphobic - a storm while at sea - reminded me of one aspect of attachment theorythat we tend to subconsciously recreate familiar scenarios from our past, though they might be undesirable.

               - Theological determinism vs. Free will: Truman's leaving the set, could be construed as his turning his back on fatalism (everything in his life is predetermined by Christof), and embracing free will.

               - Maya/Illusion: This poignant exchange reminded me of how religions suggest that the real world, as we perceive it, is illusory:

               Truman: Was nothing real?               Christof: you were real.

               - Ego: At one point, when he suspects that he's being watched, Truman remarks that it seems like everything is about him. It reminded me of the psychoanalytical 'ego', which in its crude form, perceives slights where there are none, takes things personally, and makes everything about itself.

               - Simulated reality: The sunset and the moon, like everything else in Truman's world, are made up. It's quite a moment when Truman reaches the literal end of his 'world', which reminded me of the theory that we live in a simulated reality. And, the endlessly fascinating thought experiment: Does the moon exist when you're not looking?

               In this, the movie bears themes similar to that of the TV series Westworld. (Fun fact: Christof is played by the same person who plays the mysterious 'Man in black' in Westworld.)

               - Curiosity: Truman's character seemed to embody some of the best things about human beings: a constant quest for knowledge/understanding about the world around them - the same spirit that would've pushed hunter-gatherers to invent, and migrate; the sort of thing that would've inspired the idea of exploring what lies beyond our planet/galaxy.

               Aaaand, it's a wrap 😁 If you'd like to gush about this movie/if you have recommendations for allegorical movies/books/shows, I'm all ears :)


Sunday, 18 October 2020

Summoning the angel of death


Current score: ND - 235; AD - 300

'Summoning the Angel of death' is a phrase/idea I first came upon in the book 'The four agreements' by Don Miguel Ruiz. I've only recently begun to appreciate what it truly means.

Friday, 21 August 2020

WH Auden on Virginia Woolf

                I read this article by WH Auden on Virginia Woolf and loved it. I find it so exciting that it was written all the way back in 1954!! -

               Ruminations like the ones in Virginia Woolf's diary I find wonderful because of their capacity to show how truly universal our seemingly personal/unique longings/suffering/joys are.

               Here are my favourite snippets from the article:

1. Virginia Woolf refused to be distracted from writing her life of Roger Fry: “It’s the vastness, and the smallness, that makes this possible. So intense are my feelings (about Roger); yet the circumference (the war) seems to make a hoop round them. No, I can’t get the odd incongruity of feeling intensely and at the same time knowing that there’s no importance in that feeling. Or is there, as I sometimes think, more importance than ever?”

2. I have never read any book that conveyed more truthfully what a writer’s life is like, what are its worries, its rewards, its day-by-day routine. Some readers, apparently, have been shocked to find how anxious and sensitive Virginia Woolf was about reviews, and how easily commendation of others could make her envious, but most writers, if they are honest, will recognize themselves in such remarks as “No creative writer can swallow another contemporary. The reception of living work is too coarse and partial if you’re doing the same thing yourself. . . . When Desmond praises ‘East Coker,’ and I am jealous, I walk over the marsh saying, I am I,” and even in her reflection on her father’s death: “Father . . . would have been 96 . . . and could have been 96, like other people one has known: but mercifully was not. His life would have entirely ended mine.”

3. Some of us keep up an air of stoic indifference to reviews, some avoid distress by refusing to read them, but we all care, and for good reasons. Every writer who is original is often doubtful about the value of a work; praise from a critic whom he respects is a treasured reassurance, silence or blame a confirmation of his worst fears: “So I’m found out and that odious rice pudding of a book is what I thought it—a dank failure.”

4. Sensitive as she was to attacks, she was never too vain to deny any truth there might be in even the most prejudiced: “The thing to do is to note the pith of what is said—that I don’t think—then to use the little kick of energy which opposition supplies to be more vigorously oneself. . . . To investigate candidly the charge; but not fussily, not very anxiously. On no account to retaliate by going to the other extreme—thinking too much.”

5. Like every other writer, she was concerned about what particular kind of writer she was, and what her unique contribution could and should be. “My only interest as a writer lies, I begin to see, in some queer individuality; not in strength, or passion, or anything startling." 


 What she felt and expressed with the most intense passion was a mystical, religious vision of life, “a consciousness of what I call ‘reality’: a thing I see before me: something abstract; but residing in the downs or sky; beside which nothing matters; in which I shall exist and continue to exist. . . ."

6. Moreover, as is true of most mystics, she also experienced the Dark Night when “reality” seemed malignant—“the old treadmill feeling, of going on and on and on, for no reason . . . contempt for my lack of intellectual power; reading Wells without understanding. . . . society; buying clothes; Rodmell spoilt; all England spoilt: terror at night of things generally wrong in the universe.”

7. 1926 [She is finishing To the Lighthouse]:

September 30. It is not oneself but something in the universe that one’s left with. It is this that is frightening and exciting in the midst of my profound gloom, depression, boredom, whatever it is. One sees a fin passing far out. What image can I reach to convey what I mean?

8. 1931: [On January 20th, she gets the idea, in her bath, for Three Guineas]

February 7. I wrote the words O Death fifteen minutes ago, having reeled across the last ten pages with some moments of such intensity and intoxication that I seemed only to stumble after my own voice, or almost, after some sort of speaker. . . . Anyhow it is done; and I have been sitting these fifteen minutes in a state of glory, and calm, and some tears. . . . How physical the sense of triumph and relief is!

9. I do not know how Virginia Woolf is thought of by the younger literary generation [...]

[...] I rather suspect that her style and her vision were so unique that influence would only result in tame imitation—but I cannot imagine a time, however bleak, or a writer, whatever his school, when and for whom her devotion to her art, her industry, her severity with herself—above all, her passionate love, not only or chiefly for the big moments of life but also for its daily humdrum “sausage-and-haddock” details—will not remain an example that is at once an inspiration and a judge.

Monday, 10 August 2020

Outliving oneself


* Interesting word choice. I think 5/6 year-old me thought of trees as 'at least' probably because they're not sentient in the way we are, I'm not sure.

?if reincarnation is a thing, that is.

The 'answer' is from this article fullllll of gems πŸ’“ -

Tuesday, 28 July 2020

A beautiful day in the neighbourhood

               So I watched 'A beautiful day in the neighbourhood' and loved it (very)^n much ❤️

               The movie revolves around a journalist who interviews TV host (reductionistic title for the sake of brevity, because the man is so much more πŸ˜…) Fred Rogers to write a profile of him.

               One of my most favourite quotes from the movie: Anything human is mentionable; anything mentionable is manageable.

               I learnt that the movie is based on a true story, and so, went looking for the original profile written by Tom Junod in 1998, and wasn't disappointed:

               The profile mirrors the style of the show that Fred Rogers hosted, which I find befitting.

               These are some of my favourite snippets from the article.

1. Mister Rogers agreed to write a chapter for a book the ophthalmologists were putting together—a chapter about what other ophthalmologists could do to calm the children who came to their offices. Because Mister Rogers is such a busy man, however, he could not write the chapter himself, and he asked a woman who worked for him to write it instead. She worked very hard at writing the chapter, until one day she showed what she had written to Mister Rogers, who read it and crossed it all out and wrote a sentence addressed directly to the doctors who would be reading it: "You were a child once, too."

2. Mister Rogers weighed 143 pounds because he has weighed 143 pounds as long as he has been Mister Rogers, because once upon a time, around thirty-one years ago, Mister Rogers stepped on a scale, and the scale told him that Mister Rogers weighs 143 pounds. No, not that he weighed 143 pounds, but that he weighs 143 pounds…. And so, every day, Mister Rogers refuses to do anything that would make his weight change—he neither drinks, nor smokes, nor eats flesh of any kind, nor goes to bed late at night, nor sleeps late in the morning, nor even watches television—and every morning, when he swims, he steps on a scale in his bathing suit and his bathing cap and his goggles, and the scale tells him that he weighs 143 pounds.

3. [...] when his station wagon stopped in traffic next to a bus stop, he read aloud the advertisement of an airline trying to push its international service. "Hmmm," Mister Rogers said, "that's a strange ad. 'Most people think of us as a great domestic airline. We hate that.' Hmmm. Hate is such a strong word to use so lightly. If they can hate something like that, you wonder how easy it would be for them to hate something more important."

4. Then the car stopped on Thirty-fourth Street, in front of the escalators leading down to the station, and when the doors opened—"Holy shit! It's Mister Fucking Rogers!"—he turned into Mister Fucking Rogers. This was not a bad thing, however, because he was in New York, and in New York it's not an insult to be called Mister Fucking Anything. In fact, it's an honorific. An honorific is what people call you when they respect you, and the moment Mister Rogers got out of the car, people wouldn't stay the fuck away from him, they respected him so much.

5. The little boy with the big sword did not watch Mister Rogers. In fact, the little boy with the big sword didn't know who Mister Rogers was, and so when Mister Rogers knelt down in front of him, the little boy with the big sword looked past him and through him, and when Mister Rogers said, "Oh, my, that's a big sword you have," the boy didn't answer


Mommy said, "Do you want to give Mister Rogers a hug, honey?" But the boy was shaking his head no, and Mister Rogers was sneaking his face past the big sword and the armor of the little boy's eyes and whispering something in his ear—something that, while not changing his mind about the hug, made the little boy look at Mister Rogers in a new way, with the eyes of a child at last, and nod his head yes.

We were heading back to his apartment in a taxi when I asked him what he had said.

"Oh, I just knew that whenever you see a little boy carrying something like that, it means that he wants to show people that he's strong on the outside. I just wanted to let him know that he was strong on the inside, too. And so that's what I told him. I said, 'Do you know that you're strong on the inside, too?' Maybe it was something he needed to hear."

6. Once upon a time, there was a little boy born blind, and so, defenseless in the world, he suffered the abuses of the defenseless, and when he grew up and became a man, he looked back and realized that he'd had no childhood at all, and that if he were ever to have a childhood, he would have to start having it now, in his forties.


Until one night, Mister Rogers came to him, in what he calls a visitation—"I was dreaming, but I was awake"—and offered to teach him how to pray.

"But Mister Rogers, I can't pray," Joybubbles said, "because every time I try to pray, I forget the words."

"I know that," Mister Rogers said, "and that's why the prayer I'm going to teach you has only three words."

"What prayer is that, Mister Rogers? What kind of prayer has only three words?"

"Thank you, God," Mister Rogers said.

7. Once upon a time, a man named Fred Rogers decided that he wanted to live in heaven. Heaven is the place where good people go when they die, but this man, Fred Rogers, didn't want to go to heaven; he wanted to live in heaven, here, now, in this world, and so one day, when he was talking about all the people he had loved in this life, he looked at me and said, "The connections we make in the course of a life—maybe that's what heaven is, Tom. We make so many connections here on earth. Look at us—I've just met you, but I'm investing in who you are and who you will be, and I can't help it."

               Fred Rogers seems like such an amazing person - in the words of Tom Junod, 'an ecstatic ascetic' - someone to emulate ❤️