Archive for May, 2011


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Alberta Ferretti Fall 2010 Ready-to-Wear

Fall 2010 Ready-to-Wear

zen   So the monk that was compassionate but never studied, was reborn into wealth without intelligence.  The monk that studied without practicing good works, had insight, but no means of survival.  It is through meditation and compassionate works that we can achieve enlightenment. – ‘Taoist Emptiness’ is completely different to ‘Buddhism Emptiness’. The Emptiness in the Tao is about restraint, patience, frugality, simplicity, lack of worldly desire etc. These are all good things for Buddhists, but they have nothing whatever to do with Buddhist Emptiness, which is about the inaccuracy of our perceptions of relativity and the fictional objects that are created from that misunderstanding –

We loosely talk of Self-realization, for lack of a better term. But how can one real-ize or make real that which alone is real? All we need to do is to give up our habit of regarding as real that which is unreal. All religious practices are meant solely to help us do this. When we stop regarding the unreal as real, then reality alone will remain, and we will be that.

– Ramana Marharshi (1879-1950)


  • 24th may 2011 tue
    asanas from badhakonasana pose  -(butterfly pose in isha  yoga)
  • from simple trikonasana , virabhadrasana 2 .. , turning  right, raising left hand touching right  toe
  • Suptapadmaasanam . padmaasana pses taught today – padmaparvatasana
  •  virabhadrasana 2 – turn right from , virabhadrasana 1 raise up.
  • gomukhasana

also taught yesterday – after jaushirsh – place left leg on right thigh , after extending legs , and try to touch toe –  Ardha Padma Paschimottanasana – Half lotus back stretching pose 

  • Sit with both legs stretched in front.
  • Bend the left leg and place the left foot on the right thigh, turning the sole of the foot up and heel touching the abdomen(if possible keep it close to the naval area).

  • Inhale and raise both arms upwards over the head.
  • Keep the back, neck and head upright and straight.

  • Exhale and lean forward from the hips, grasp the toes of the right foot with both hands.
  • If you can’t grasp the toes, grasp the ankle or calf muscles initially. Gradually with the regular practice, you can grasp the toes.
  • Utilizing the arms, not the back muscles, slowly pull the trunk forward to place the forehead resting on the straight knee.
  • If you can’t bend the upper body forward due to bigger tummy, exhale forcefully. That will enable you to contract the stomach muscles and to bend forward better.
  • This is the final position. Hold the pose for as long as is comfortable.
  • Release the hands, inhale and raise them in the reverse order. Repeat the technique with the other leg.
  • Practice up to 5 rounds gradually extend the final holding posture duration.


  • Inhale while raising the arms. Exhale while bending forward into the final position.
  • Breathe slowly and deeply in the final position.
  • Inhale while returning to the upright position.


  • In this posture, the foot of the bent leg applies an intense massage to the inner abdominal organs.
  • This will helps to stimulate intestinal peristalsis and alleviate constipation.
  • Also this pose prepares the legs and hips for sitting in meditation asanas longer time
  • Stretches the muscles of the back and increases blood circulation to the spinal nerves.
  • Stretches and tones the hamstrings and calf muscles
  • Tones the internal organs of the abdominal area and helps lose excess weight.
  • Increases the flexibility of the hip joints
  • Used in yoga therapy for the management of kidney ailments, diabetes, colitis, and menstrual disorders

Virabhadrasana I

Utthita Trikonasana Trikonasana

Parivrtta Trikonasana Trikonasana Leg Lift


Anantasana_248 Konasana

Sit with your legs straight out in front of you, raising your pelvis on a blanket if your hips or groins are tight. Exhale, bend your knees, pull your heels toward your pelvis, then drop your knees out to the sides and press the soles of your feet together.

hp_195_02_large.jpg method to do ashwasanchalan – called anjaneyasana here. – From Adho Mukha Svanasana  / PARVATASAN (Downward-Facing Dog), exhale and step your left foot forward between your hands, aligning the left knee over the heel. Then lower your right knee to the floor and, keeping the left knee fixed in place, slide theright back until you feel a comfortable stretch in the right   front thigh and groin. Turn the top of your right  foot to the floor.

Preparatory Poses FOR  Janu Sirsasana



……………………... Flow with the bounty of the universe and it will flow back in your direction. Trying to be in control all the time can backfire, so you lose what you might have gained. Your vigour and bounce may be at a lower ebb than usual. But if you follow your companions rather than go against them, you can be swept along on their enthusiasm and energy.The main thing to remember is that you need to be true to yourself. There’s no point in compromising just to fit in with other people.
My fears are the places within me that await my love.


Here are some other ideas for applying 30-day trials:

  • Give up TV. Tape all your favorite shows and save them until the end of the trial. My whole family did this once, and it was very enlightening.
  • Give up online forums, especially if you feel you’re becoming forum addicted. This will help break the addiction and give you a clearer sense of how participation actually benefits you (if at all). You can always catch up at the end of 30 days.
  • Shower/bathe/shave every day. I know YOU don’t need this one, so please pass it along to someone who does.
  • Meet someone new every day. Start up a conversation with a stranger.
  • Go out every evening. Go somewhere different each time, and do something fun — this will be a memorable month.
  • Spend 30 minutes cleaning up and organizing your home or office every day. That’s 15 hours total.
  • List something new to sell on ebay every day. Purge some of that clutter.
  • Ask someone new out on a date every day. Unless your success rate is below 3%, you’ll get at least one new date, maybe even meet your future spouse.
  • If you’re already in a relationship, give your partner a massage every day. Or offer to alternate who gives the massage each day, so that’s 15 massages each.
  • Give up cigarettes, soda, junk food, coffee, or other unhealthy addictions.
  • Become an early riser.
  • Write in your journal every day.
  • Call a different family member, friend, or business contact every day.
  • Make 25 sales calls every day to solicit new business. Professional speaker Mike Ferry did this five days a week for two years, even on days when he was giving seminars. He credits this habit with helping build his business to over $10 million in annual sales. If you make 1300 sales calls a year, you’re going to get some decent business no matter how bad your sales skills are. You can generalize this habit to any kind of marketing work, like building new links to your web site.
  • Write a new blog entry every day.
  • Read for an hour a day on a subject that interests you.
  • Meditate every day.
  • Learn a new vocabulary word every day.
  • Go for a long walk every day.



other poses taught – Pigeon Pose – Eka Pada Rajakapotasana – The following yoga poses require open hips, so practicing them will improve your hip openness over time. – see how to catch knee – PAVANMUKTASANA


Seated Wide Legged Straddle – Upavistha Konasana

pd yoga

  Keep in mind that everyone is different and comparing yourself to anyone else is a pointless exercise. What’s most important is simply being true to yourself.

I read a book by Martha Beck called Finding Your Own North Star. In it, she tells the story of how she finished, finally, her dissertation. The enormity of the task had stopped her cold; her education had simply stalled there, just before the finish line. After months of inaction, she decided to break it down into manageable pieces; she vowed to write for six hours every day. It was less than she thought she should be doing, but she could tell right away that it was still too much. Her body and brain were resisting.

She cut it in half – 3 hours a day – but she could still feel it, the emphatic inner NO. Even at half an hour a day, she felt the resistance. It wasn’t until she got down to 15 minutes a day that she felt herself relax. It felt doable and, as it turned out, it was. It took her a year, but she did finish “the damn thing,” writing 15 minutes a day.

Honestly, I write more than 15 minutes a day now, but it’s usually for specific writing projects. I’ve been frustrated that I haven’t had more time to play, to just write wild and see what happens. With all that I have going on, writing like that never feels like an effective use of my time. Until now. I’m calling it an experiment (to encourage the kind of writing that term implies) and I’m committing here, to you, that I will make it happen for 15 minutes every day in February

Yoga means, “to yoke together” or “union”. In the yogic sense it is the merging together of the body, mind and our intuitive or emotional side.
The physical postures that many associate with “Yoga” are the “asana” practice, which is only one of eight limbs of Yoga.
Yoga is a state to be reached. It is a state of happiness and contentment reached when the body, mind, emotions are healthy and working in harmony. Yoga is not necessarily something one does, but rather something one experiences when one includes “yogic practices” into your daily routine and into life.

According to the sage Patanjali who lived hundreds of years ago ( 200 – 500 BC), Yoga is a personal journey into the workings of the mind and understanding how our thoughts and actions are linked with our bodies. There are eight categories of practice which when included into one’s daily life lead to a state of contentment and happiness. “Asana” or physical practice being one of these eight practices.

• Patanjali’s Eight Practices.

 The eight fold path described by Patanjali in Patanjali’s Yoga Sutras are not necessarily linear or progressive. One can adopt any of these practices at any time, in any order into ones life and still feel yoga happening. But to really achieve a full state of contentment and happiness it is recommended that all of the eight limbs be explored.

  1. Yamas  – Ethical Disciplines to adopt in ones life
  2. Niyamas – Principles to put into daily practice
  3. Asana – Physical Postures (What is referred to as “yoga” in the West)
  4. Pranayama – Control of the breath
  5. Pratyahara – Conscious withdrawal of the senses
  6. Dharana – Concentration
  7. Dhyana – Meditation
  8. Samadhi – Absolute absorption – Super Conscious State


Ahimsa – non-harming
Satya – a respect for the truth – truthfulness
Asteya – non stealing
Brahmacharya – temperance, self-control, desireless – ness. Being desire less.
Aparigraha – non-coveting, non greed


Saucha – purity, cleanliness, both internal and external. In thought in speech as well as body.
Santosha – conscious cultivation of contentment. Being aware of negative thought patterns and behaviour.
Tapas – willingness to sacrifice in order to learn more about oneself.
Svadyaya – self study rather than the study of others. Self-knowledge and self-understanding.
Isvara-pranidhana – acceptance and surrendering. Accepting what is and that which cannot be changed.


Various physical postures of which there are many, interpreted in many different ways by many teachers! Some are set sequences, some use flowing movements, others use heated studios, some are more precise in their positioning . . . in time one finds a style of physical practice to suit your personality and temperament.


Manipulating the breath! Yes, we all breathe, daily otherwise we would not be alive! But how often are we aware of our breath and how it is used by the body to maintain life!
In Eastern philosophy ones life force is called PRANA (energy). We have individual prana and the Universe has prana. There is prana in all living things By manipulating the breath we can manipulate our life force and work more effectively with our body and our minds.


Learning to withdraw our senses and to not be affected or influenced by them. By doing so we learn to control the activities of our mind and in turn our emotions and the way we interact with our environment. We can choose how we respond to other people or situations on our life path. We can do so in a healthy positive manner or an unhealthy negative manner. Practicing pratyahara gives us skills to do this


Learning to focus our attention and our mind activity through the practice of concentration. There are many tools for this. Memorising a song, concentrating on a puzzle, or a picture or a candle flame. In Eastern philosophy the use of a Mantra helps to discipline the mind.


Meditation. By creating the right environment, meditation happens. Sometimes described as a state of conscious deep sleep, other times the absolute stilling of the mind, or finding that deep state of peace and tranquility within. One cannot teach meditation any more than one can teach, “falling asleep”. One can only facilitate the right environment. But one needs to practice the preparation and provide the right circumstances for meditation to happen.


A state of one pointed absorption, the experience of unity with all.  Supreme happiness.

yoga class -same steps as taught in class at rkmath

The Twelve PosturesDownload Video Click Here...

1. Pranamasana (Salutation posture)

Stand erect with feet together. Join the palms together in front of the chest. Concentrate on standing straight, steady and in a prayerful attitude. This posture helps to induce a state of introversion, relaxation and calmness. It activates the anahata chakra. Exhale fully.

2. Hastauttanasana (Raised arm posture)

Inhaling stretch both arms above the head, palms facing upward. Arch the back and stretch the whole body. This posture stretches the chest and the abdomen and lifts the Prana (energy) upward to the upper parts of the body propelled by inhalation.

3. Padahastasana (Hand to foot posture)

Exhaling bend the body forward and down, keeping the spine straight. Avoid collapsing the chest or “over-rounding” the upper back. Keep the legs straight and perpendicular to the ground. The knees may be allowed to bend a little if needed. This posture massages the abdominal organs, especially the liver, kidneys, pancreas, adrenals, uterus and ovaries. The power of digestion increases and female disorders such as prolapse and menstrual irregularities are relieved. A healthy flow of blood is sent to the spinal nerves as they are stretched and toned. The hamstring muscles at the back of the thigh and calf muscles are stretched and toned. Inversion increases blood flow to the brain. The Prana is channeled to the lower regions of the body propelled by exhalation.

4. Ashwa Sanchalanasana (Equestrian posture)

On your next inhalation, extend the left leg back and drop the knee to the ground. The right knee is bent and kept between the hands and the right foot placed flat on the ground. Lift the spine and open the chest. Concentrate at the eyebrow center.

5. Parvatasana (Mountain posture)

On the exhalation bring the right leg back to join with the left leg. Simultaneously raise the buttocks and lower the head between the arms, so that the body forms a triangle with the floor. Try to place the heels flat on the ground. Focus awareness at the neck area. This posture strengthens the nerves and muscles in the arms and legs, stretches the calf muscles and Achilles’ tendons and makes the spine straight and taut. It relieves varicose veins and tones spinal nerves. Maintaining the posture take a deep inhalation.

6. Ashtanga Namaskara (Salutation with eight limbs)

Exhaling gently drop both knees to the ground and slowly slide the body down at an angle as you bring the chest and chin to the ground. All eight limbs – toes, knees, chest, hands and chin – touch the floor. The buttocks are kept up. Hold the breath. This posture develops the chest and strengthens arms. It sends additional blood to this area helping to rejuvenate the nerves.

7. Bhujangasana (Cobra posture)

On the inhalation, lower the hips while pushing the chest forward and upward with the hands, until the spine is fully arched and the head is facing up. The knees and lower abdomen remain above the floor. Focus the awareness at the base of spine and feel the tension from the forward pull. This pose gives dynamic expansion to the organs of the chest and abdomen, relieving many ailments such as asthma, constipation, indigestion, kidney and liver problems. It is very helpful in relieving tension in the back muscles and spinal nerves.

8. Parvatasana (Mountain posture)
Exhale and get back to posture 5.
9. Ashwa Sanchalanasana (Equestrian posture)

Inhale and swing the right leg forward between the hands. The left leg remains back. Resume posture 4.

10. Padahastasana (Hand to foot posture)

Exhaling, bring the left foot forward. Join both legs and resume posture 3.

11. Hastauttanasana (Raised arm posture)

Inhale, raise the trunk up and bend backward. Resume posture 2.

12. Pranamasana (Salutation posture)

Straighten the body and bring the hands in front of the chest. Resume posture 1.

Note: Download Video Click Here...

The above constitutes one half of a round of Surya namaskara. To complete the other half the same movements are repeated except that the right leg is brought back in posture 4 and the left foot is brought forward in posture 9. So one full round consists of the exercises done twice. Practice up to 6 rounds in the morning and 6 rounds in the evening.

When the exercises are done a little quickly, the gain is more physical while if they are done slowly with breath awareness the gain is more mental and spiritual.

If for any reason, the above directions seem confusing, it is best to see the Surya Namaskar in visual flow. It will help you do the practice correctly without the risk of doing harm to your body.

If for any reason, the above directions seem confusing, it is best to see the Surya Namaskar in visual flow. It will help you do the practice correctly without the risk of doing harm to your body.

You can now download the video of Surya Namaskar at a nominal charge of $2 to cover our bandwidth costs. To download the video, Click here.

Incorporate the Surya Namaskar into your daily routine and make a positive difference to your life.



the Dalai Lama

Notes from His Holiness, the Dalai Lama
Visiting University of Arkansas, Fayetteville

  1. Be harmonizers.
  2. Our enemies are our greatest teachers. We may have to confront others if they are doing harm. It is the quality of our response that matters – – either in hatred & anger, or in compassion for them.
  3. Hate and anger are not good for the health of the body.
  4. Warm heartedness and kindness are good for the health of the body.
  5. It takes intelligence to practice these things.
  6. We are to be honest, have transparency.
  7. Censorship is immoral. It can produce incorrect thinking.)
  8. The planet belongs to humanity and not to the governments.
  9. He stepped down as political leader because there needs to be a separation between state and religion.
  10. He is committed to the unification of all religions.
  11. The Dalai Lama said he is an ecologist.
  12. Secularism in society does not mean intolerance. Secularism means “becoming tolerant”, accepting other others beliefs & religions.

It will soon be time to teach others what you know. You’ve been hiding information away until the right time and now is that time. You cannot do what you’ve been doing alone anymore for any length of time. Offer all that you have to others as you ask them for help. You have many resources to offer. You’re entering a most spiritual time. Revelations appear, guiding your every day.

yoga – this was done with dupatta in class and to the wall – did this today

Enjoy Parvatasana from where you are, not from where you think you should be-  likedTHIS QUOTE – my interpretation :-


how to do padmasana

On a day when I felt venomous, Bhujangasana felt like an elixir. The basic beauty of expanding my chest and my breath transformed the sharp edges of my mind into free space. I tilted my heart up to the sky as an offering to the innate perfection of the present moment, as a testament to my deepest knowledge that only the now counts and that the past 15 hours were just that: past.

“Every conscious step we make, a flower blooms under our feet. We can do this only if we linger not in the past or future, but know that life can be found only in the present moment.” – Thich Nhat Hanh   according to the  practitioner,   ” I like to take an extra step between lying on my belly and lifting my chest and legs. Before I lift into Salabhasana, I gently raise my right leg off the floor, point my right toes, reach my right foot back as far as I can, then replace the leg. Then, I make the same adjustment on my left leg. This small stretch only creates about an inch more of space between my ribs and my hip points. But, as with so many asanas, every inch counts. An extra inch of space in my torso helps me lift my chest and legs completely off of the ground and fly up into the pose.      ”

Often, it is the small adjustments in life that create the space and freedom to fly.

‘I have become my own version of an optimist. If I can’t make it through one door, I’ll go through another door – or I’ll make a door. Something terrific will come no matter how dark the present.’  Rabindranath Tagore

To present Manashi Dasgupta’s (1928-2010) legacy involves pulling together the academic, cultural and critical strands of a vision that cherishes friendship and intercontextual conversation. It is at this crucial interface, she suggests, that the democratic imagination must make interpersonal sense of institutions.

Dasgupta’s 1962 Cornell University doctoral dissertation brings social psychology to bear on what makes somebody seem interesting to others. She proposes that we imagine narratives about people we meet; perceiving a half-story leaves us intrigued and interested in the protagonist.

She argues (especially in Jiggasa 11:3.287-301, 1990) that we make friends where we find it possible, in principle, to initiate joint projects.

Dasgupta’s interpersonalist vision identifies a democratic, anti-hierarchical imagination as a prerequisite for modernity. The point is to fashion a friendship-based institutional format outside the patriarchal family paradigm.

The academic flows into the cultural in Dasgupta’s work.

Few of the friends who picked her brains, however, recognised that this was one of her ways of nurturing intercontextual conversations and thereby feeding the democratic imagination.

Then in the space of weeks her marriage broke up and she discovered she had breast cancer. But although it might seem a wretched incongruity that such a full life should suffer such a swift fall, Rich’s own view is that it only made sense. ‘I smoked two packs of Newport Lights a day’, ‘I drank, a lot’, ‘I ate like shit’, ‘I worked out… hardly ever’, and thanks to a ‘high-drive, adrenylated job’, ‘mostly, I inhaled stress’. It is intelligent, articulate ideas like these that make for the attractiveness of Rich’s writing.

She also presents a grim picture of the American medical establishment. The history of her treatment abounds with dodgy diagnoses, overlooked symptoms, adversarial tussles with dispassionate doctors, who are too afraid of being sued to properly care. It is easily inferred from this book that market forces and health-care are a dangerous mix. Also, that while New York may be a wonderful place to be young and healthy, it is not so pleasant to be sick there, and dependent for support on a paid therapist. For Indian readers, this book should also lead us to appreciate better the personal touch of our own culture, the familial networks that we sometimes take for granted.

Looking back, I think the writer in me was born somewhere in the dark interior of my ancestral house, about which there had always been a mysterious silence. Being the only male child in a joint family, I grew up lonely in the midst of unbelievable things. What moulded my childhood mind were stories of gods, goddesses and the dead, told at untimely hours, splashing and bathing in the tharavad pond; scenes of country oracles, or komarams; and sorcerers performing poojas and black magic.

Terribly lonely, also obviously scared, I developed a habit of talking to myself. Not just to myself, but also to trees, animals, birds – and, sometimes, to the ghosts and gods too. They were my companions then. It might be that those interior dialogues developed into my writings, be it poetry or prose. My writing still remains an attempt to come to terms with what otherwise appears indefinable in life. It’s all about relating what is within and without.

Poetry today is a form where boundaries are pushed to the point where readers are confused about why a particular work is judged to be poetry. For you, what defines a poem?

Primarily, it’s a feeling of being incomplete, together with an irresistible discontent, rather, disquiet, always growing within. Poetry, for me, is an attempt at overcoming the depressing human condition and giving a meaning to it. Devoid of this, even if a work of art is technically perfect, it will invariably be soulless.

If you had to deliver a sort of State of the Union address about the world of poetry, what would be some of your thoughts?

There’s something in poetry that doesn’t allow it to die. There isn’t any literary medium that has undergone as much misuse and abuse as poetry; still it survives. The most ancient of all human expressions, it’s still as fresh as something just invented. Poetry nowadays has almost become a personal medium. Often, it’s not the medium of the winner, but that of the defeated. At least like that, I think, it’ll continue.

Who are some of the poets who continually “speak” to you?

Those whom I read to recharge my writer-ly batteries include Kumaranasan, Vyloppillil and Edassery in Malayalam; Vacana poets, William Blake, W.B. Yeats and Wislawa Szymborska in other languages. I read Kumaranasan and the Vacana poets for the way in which they address the metaphysical dilemma; Blake and Yeats for their prophetic but simple articulation; and Szymborska for the dexterity with which she transforms a thought into a poetic experience.

Do you have a daily routine into which you slot in your writing?

I don’t have a routine. I can live doing nothing for days, I can work continuously for days without sleep. I enjoy unpredictability and believe that everything in my life is an accident; sometimes I even feel that becoming a writer was an accident.

This is not to mock Rich — anyone with cancer might be so desperate — and indeed she chastises herself for the fact. Just as she chastises the ‘talk-show honesty’ of her generation (‘self-revelations about sex or degradation…but never venality or arrogance or the other, more banal sins that actually made us look bad’). But it is one thing to be perfectly aware of a shortcoming, and another to overcome it. The truth is that The Red Devil does feature a kind of talk-show honesty, where splendid insights are dragged down from their rightful pedestal and mixed up in the shallows, and where the aim is not so much to share one’s courage, as to have it confirmed. In the nicest and discreetest way, it is a showy book, one outstanding proof of which is that it reads like a novel. The dialogue is all within quotation marks, conversations are described in implausibly cinematic terms, and the love stories are weaved in like sub-plots. This ‘fictional’ treatment helps the book read easily, but it also hides the absence of real, helpful content, that a more mundane and less stagy style would not have been able to. To sum up, I think ‘ The Red Devil’ will have you genuinely liking and rooting for the author, but I doubt it will have you thanking her.

I am hardly the performance poet, preferring to focus on what I express on paper rather than on the stage. I read a lot of poetry to myself, out loud, but that is because I enjoy how a piece tightens or releases my breath; I am interested in exploring that. My early readings likely had a performance aspect: I would look at an audience member at just the right turn of phrase, at just the right moment and make her feel exactly what I wanted to. That sort of attitude can easily corrupt, so I backed off. I want to vanish and be unimportant during a reading; so if the audience stays engaged, it is due to the poem not the poet.

I am some sort of a ‘reverse traveller’. I don’t move around to get inspired, but the other way round. I hear or read about a particular place and that stays with me. A year or two later, if that memory hasn’t left, I start making plans. The sort of poetry I prefer to write cannot be written on a tourist visa, so I much prefer to stay at a place for a month or two at a time. It helps me find stories I would miss otherwise.

Music is just another form of expression, another method of self-exploration. There are things I cannot express with poetry alone, so there is certainly an opportunity to merge both media. I haven’t been very successful at it so far, but I am trying. For example, right now I am working on a set of poems that will read in sync with a few Chopin nocturnes, the narrative, the punctuations, and line-breaks allowing the poems to ascend and descend with the music.

Absolutely. I find what I do as an engineer very challenging and enjoyable. Also, it pays the bills, allows me to travel on whim, and to take creative risks. I know there are writers who are inspired by poverty, but not me.  Almost taking a hint from Pamuk, Hindi writers and those from other Indian languages made hay at the festival, speaking their language, their way. If Gulzar, Javed Akhtar and Prasoon Joshi had to host a session on Hindi film songs almost twice over, Mrinal Pande made her presence felt too. At the session, “Aisi Hindi, Kaisi Hindi”, she quietly tore into the host Satyanand Nirupam’s argument that expletives are a form of expression too! “People use ‘gaali’ when lacking words. An intelligent man does not abuse. He uses measured words. When a child picks up an expletive on the street, the mother always scolds him. If abuse were really a form of developing expression, the mother would have probably hailed the child!” Pande left co-panellists speechless and the audience clapping in appreciation.

The literary café is the most exciting part of the biennial Jerusalem Book Fair. In this open, informal and civilised space — in fact, so civilised that it has a working coffee counter right next to a makeshift stage — take place the encounters with the literary giants of home and abroad. I was witness to one such interaction last week: The man on the spot was Britain’s foremost writer today: Ian McEwan, winner of the Jerusalem Prize, and the man who expertly drew him out, with an understated knowledge of literary technique and rapier sharp wit, was Meir Shelev, himself a renowned Israeli novelist.

He paid homage to other recipients before him, people who had “rearranged his mind.” The list that begins with the philosopher Bertrand Russell includes Simone de Beauvoir who provided special insights into relationships and Isaiah Berlin who had shown the “dangers of Utopia” as well as fiction writers Arthur Miller and Milan Kundera whose fiction “swayed and entranced him”.

From the prize itself to the city after which it is named was a natural jump. Shelev trawled out the not-so-complimentary reactions to Jerusalem of some famous writers. Herman Melville, on visiting Jerusalem, said that “Jerusalem is surrounded by cemeteries and dead people are its strongest guild.” Actually, though Shelev did not venture that far, Melville said much more and his descriptions would never make it to a tourist brochure. He thought that Jerusalem looks at you “like a cold, gray eye in a cold, old man……Stony mountains & stony plains; stony walls & stony fields; stony houses & stony tombs; stony eyes & stony hearts. Before you and behind you are stones.” Gogol was so affected by the city that on his return he burnt the second half of Dead Souls. McEwan agrees that the city has a “sense of echo” and could well destroy his novel in progress. Like a sudden journey, which can startle you with a new insight into life and make everything written earlier sound meaningless and trite.

However, the city’s preoccupation with religion does not get to him. Ever the outspoken rationalist, he proclaims his atheism and the absence of any divine force dictating the affairs of men. “Most things that happen in life are random. You may not have been born if, say on one evening in 1948, your mother had decided to stay in and wash her hair instead of going out to a party where she met this nice young man.” Much in the same manner, he proclaims, the novel is constructed of a series of coincidences that enable the interaction between characters and move the action forward. When the conversation turns, as inevitably such conversations turn nowadays, to the issue of the survival of a novel, McEwan offers an irresistible rationale for its survival: “Human beings are social animals, profoundly curious about each other’s lives.

The novel is a kind of higher form of gossip and is sustained by our curiosity about others. It satisfies our gossipy instincts. Jane Austen was the greatest and most gossipy of novelists.”

But it is of the novella, a form with which he has had “an enduring love affair,” that he talks enthusiastically. It is this genre that he enjoys most; even On Chesil Beach is only 39000 words long; it enables the writer to move the story ahead at a tremendous speed, leaving no place for sub-plots. In a way he is a miniaturist: a confined place — whether in space or time — seems to bring out the best in him, the little visual detail, the description of every half-movement, the cranking up of the literary tension, bit by bit.

He likes gaps between books, he “tries to let some life go by.” As he said in an interview some time ago: “I’m very cautious about starting anything without letting time go, and feeling it’s got to come out. I’m quite good at not writing. Some people are tied to five hundred words a day, six days a week. I’m a hesitater.” When he does start writing, it is a tentative process – putting down fragments¸ introducing characters to see what they would do. He is elated by surprises, the surprise of a particular adjective appearing before a noun or a character making a sudden move; “in fact”, he says, “a character should surprise you.” As one would expect, McEwan writes down ideas, images, and phrases as they come in a spiral notebook. He relates how once, when writing notes in a café, he lost his notebook, leaving him with a feeling of tremendous loss. Until one day, eighteen months later, the notebook landed, in a brown envelope, with a thud on his doormat. On re-reading it, he discovered that it did not contain a single worthy thought!

I wondered aloud if the pen, like the camera, was also a torch. He wasn’t sure of it. But the question of desire remained – of camera and pen as tools of desire. I was reminded of a line by Robert Bresson, about how the art of cinema is to “make visible what, without you, might perhaps never have been seen”. I concluded: reality is blind, but so are we. Unless we are able to “in-see”, to use Rilke’s word, and lighten up the invisible. Not in order to strip what is invisible, but to illuminate its hidden-ness.

As we walked our different ways, I recollected the lines from one of his remarkably simple poems, which captures the friendly otherness he exuded in conversation:

We walked together.

We did not know each other.

But we knew walking together.

Later in the evening I met James Kelman. I had heard him read from his controversial Booker-winning novel, How Late It Was, How Late, with the same amount of passion with which he must have written it more than a decade ago. The novel became infamous as the great “f-novel”, irritating many including Martin Amis. But Kelman’s supposed nonsense with language is strictly no-nonsense, depressing, dismal, dark and full of the drudgery of working-class life. His prose, defiantly introspective and interspersed with slang, counters the grammar and phonetics of the English language he learnt to resist.

I caught Kelman, walking alone, a little lost, near the music-stage area. I told him I found the repetitive expressions in his prose an unavoidable technique for registering troubled memory. I mentioned Jacques Lacan. Kelman had read Freud and was interested in psychoanalysis. We discussed the disturbing, neurological phenomenon of the unconscious, where it draws upon the mode of insistence to relive certain traumas, and manifests itself into pathological repetition. Kelman saw vulgarity critically: as a burden for the poor, the wayward and the out of place, for whom cursing and cussing are part of a life which is thrust violently upon them. Kelman wouldn’t abandon that language to gain any other literary merit. His alert, vagabond eyes, and his smoky, alcoholic voice, meant what they said. He didn’t mince words: “We were told to look down upon our own culture and eulogise everything British. You couldn’t stomach it, could you?” He didn’t. The seat of his passions unseated elite, literary appetites.

To hear Pamuk is to hear a naughty and candid adolescent in the heart of an exquisitely thoughtful man. He talks without airs, and with a moving honesty. Hearing him is an undetectable process of learning about the art of writing. Pamuk called the advent of literature in his life as a growing illumination of the “dark corners” of his mind. I thought of the relationship between darkness and the unconscious. That brought certain preoccupations of all three writers together. It reminded me of Kundera’s quoting the Czech poet Jan Skacel: Poets don’t invent poems / The poem is somewhere behind / It’s been there for a long time / The poet merely discovers it. Writing, Kundera explains, “means breaking through a wall behind which something… lies hidden in darkness”. In that sense, writing, like cinema, reveals to us our existing, human possibilities.


We act as though comfort and luxury were the chief requirements of life, when all that we
need to make us happy is something to be enthusiastic about.
-Charles Kingsley
Helping the anxiety-based procrastinator
According to Fiore (1989), if the work pressure is already too
great, exhorting the tense procrastinator to “try harder,” “get yourself
organized,” “this is a tough job, so don’t put it off,” or “no friends and
no fun until this work is done” is counterproductive. Such typical

advice only increases the pressure and unpleasant feelings about the
task to be done. This kind of procrastinator has to reduce the
unpleasantness of the task and then he/she will get it done.
Specifically, Fiore recommends that
The procrastinator should reduce his/her fear of failing by (a)

seeing that his/her worth is not totally determined by an
assignment at work or by a term paper grade, (b) having
alternate plans B and C for succeeding, in case plan A doesn’t
work, and (c) using self-talk, such as “If I fail, it won’t be
awful; I can handle it.” See Roberts (1989). 
The procrastinator should keep a record of his/her avoidance of
important tasks: What excuses were used? What thoughts and
feelings did he/she have? What was done instead of the work?
What was the outcome (including thoughts and feelings)? See
the five types of anxious procrastinators described above to
understand yourself.
The procrastinator can change procrastinating ways of thinking
to productive ways:
I must…(or) have to…(OR
something awful will happen)
I’d like to…(or) choose to…
I’ve gotta finish…
When can I get started on…
Oh, God, this assignment is
Where is the best place to start?
I must do well (fantastic, perfect).
I’ll do okay; I’ll give it time.
I have no time to play.
It is important to play one hour.
I see life and work as a grind.
Life and work can be fun.
I can’t succeed.
I have a better chance of
succeeding if I…
By changing these thoughts and habits, you are reducing
the dread of work and taking responsibility for directing your
life. You are saying “I can enjoy hard, responsible work. It is
part of a good life.”
For the over-achiever, the workaholic, the ambitious
perfectionist, avoid the tendency to live entirely in the future —
“it will be wonderful when I am a doctor… a millionaire… on
the honor roll… in the big leagues…” They aren’t living in the
now; they are working or feeling guilty because they aren’t
working. Such people can learn to love each day if they have a
mission in life (see chapter 3). What a lucky person who can
say “I love my work.” Part of this process for most people 

involves setting aside time each day to play, to socialize, to
exercise, and to have free time for relaxation. Charles Garfield
(1989) in Peak Performance says productive people need to
take vacations and play (without guilt)! Insist on your fun.
Turn worries and self-doubts into assets by asking (a) What is
the worst possible outcome? (b) What would I do if the worst
happened? How would I carry on? (c) What strengths and skills
do I have that would help me cope? How will I forgive myself
for messing up? (d) What alternative plans could I develop for
having a good life? (e) Can I do things now to help avoid this
awful outcome I fear? (f) Having prepared for the worst, how
can I use my worries to prepare to become stronger and more
capable? This kind of planning helps us face the inevitable risks
that lurk ahead for all of us.

Fiore suggests a unique scheduling system. Schedule your fixed
hours (classes, meetings, meals, etc.) and your play time.
That’s all, no work! Make the playing mandatory, not the work.
Focus only on starting to work, not on putting in hour after
hour each day. If you start a project and concentrate on it for
30 minutes, record this on your schedule… and give yourself a
reward. Start as many 30 minute work periods as you can. The
idea is to build the habit of frequently getting to work and to
build the desire to work. Work becomes more enjoyable when it
isn’t seen as hard, boring, endless chores that have to be done.
Other methods are prescribed: a calendar based on when
projects are due, a set of realistic goals, an approach to work in
a relaxed state of concentration, and a quick, optimistic
response to setbacks. In the final analysis being motivated and
productive is a result of liking yourself. Thus, building
confidence and self-respect is at the heart of this program.
A couple of other self-help books focus on overcoming serious self-
doubt and fears that lead to procrastinating or blocking (Sykes, 1997;
Boice, 1996). Blocking often involves delay and panic and is especially
likely to happen when the finished product involves an evaluation or
public scrutiny, such as a term paper or a book.
A different approach to escaping the unpleasant internal critic is
taken by White (1988), who says that a behavioral approach, such as
teaching time management or study skills to this kind of
procrastinator, often increases his/her resistance to work rather than
helps. White helps her students understand the unconscious mental
struggles that often underlie perfectionistic procrastination. She asks
them to imagine certain internal parts (common in children from
perfectionistic families), such as “the NAG,” “the CRITIC,” and “the
CHILD.” The nag constantly reminds you of what must be done. The
critic tells you that you’ll mess it up or look foolish or be rejected. The
child tries to get you to avoid the threatening, unpleasant work (“I
don’t want to. You can’t make me!”) by seeking fun (“Let’s party! Turn
on the music and where’s the beer?”). As the child runs away, the nag
shouts orders, and the critic attacks even more. A miserable existence!
Sometimes, the perfectionistic procrastinator is pretty successful even