The Rich Vegetarian

An Examined Life

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Tag: life (page 1 of 3)

In Pursuit of Goallessness

To tell you the truth, goals scare me.

Picture me in one of the volunteer team meetings. “How many people do we need to bring in?” “200, no 300!” “500!” And so on it goes.

And I’d shrink inwardly, willing myself to go along with the energy and adrenaline. Don’t put a negative vibe into that soup of joyful enthusiasm, okay? Be a team player. Dream big, reach high, shoot for the stars.

And all that crap (sorry).

Okay, let me break this down in a more practical way.

I think goals serve two purposes. First, they help you make a plan, and that, I can completely get on board with. I have a goal to get to work between 9:15am and 9:30am each morning, so I plan to leave home around 8:30am, or a little earlier. Kriya+meditation takes me 45 minutes, so I have to factor that time into the morning schedule. Breakfast, dressing, lunch prep… you get the drift. A rough plan/goal helps me get started. Now, I miss my goal almost every morning, but I am happy that it exists. It serves as a baseline of sorts, and it keeps me tethered to the original idea. Of course, I can tweak it each morning, if needed, and that’s part of the goal setting.

Now here is the second purpose of having a goal. I think Purpose#2 is to stay motivated. And that hardly ever works for me.

I find it virtually impossible to be motivated by a goal. That ticking number only makes me nervous. Or it used to make me nervous when I was younger. These days, I stuff the goal into an imaginary trash can, and get on with my day, life, whatever. Seriously, I am unable to make myself care.

Two weeks ago, I bought a beautiful Apple Watch. It is a piece of beauty! But it became clear to me within a couple of days that this gorgeous device was wasted on me. I didn’t care about the # of calories I hit (or didn’t) each day, or the number of minutes I spent in active exercise. These targets felt meaningless to me, so the tracker was wasted.

I think back to my childhood, youth, early days of career. And it all feels the same. I had no goals to achieve, no real targets to meet. Perhaps I never wanted anything bad enough?

(When I met P, I knew that I wanted him in my life. But that process had an energy of its own, and I was happy to follow along. Well, perhaps it was a subconscious goal that led me towards him?)

Recently I had a conversation about yoga practice and doing a headstand. Somehow, I have never been motivated to expand my yoga practice by way of learning new poses. I feel very content to take a class or two periodically, improve my personal practice, develop a keener awareness into my own experience of the postures, body alignment, aches and pains in weird places, etc. I don’t feel a particular fascination to do a handstand or headstand, whatever. Perhaps one day, I will arrive at the point of doing one of these poses. And I am perfectly okay waiting for that day, whenever it comes.

To me, the practice of Hatha Yoga is the goal. Today, I have a lot of love for Hatha Yoga practice; I feel naturally pulled towards it. So, I have reached my so-called goal, because I have discovered the love and devotion that keeps me glued to the practice. I have hit my goal, many times over.

Some days I think, what a loser you are. Look at your peers, how successful they are! But then my wise partner tells me, dude, you don’t want it, and that’s the prime reason you don’t have all that “success.”

I think that probably explains it.

Knowingly or unknowingly, I have been led forward in life by my heart. I am led by the things I love, not the ones that make sense, necessarily. I fought this flow of energy a long time, thought of myself as a drifter, a non-achiever.

However, the truth is that I have always lived for the drift. I have enjoyed the views, the fellow passengers, the people waving on the shores. I have breathed in the sunset colors, sipped warm chai at passing homes, shared gifts and stories.

I have never made a plan, and that’s probably why I have drifted in strange ways, landed up at unknown shores.

To put it plainly, the drift has always been the goal for me.


You are in an elevator, or on an escalator. And there is another person who gets on. You catch a glimpse of him from the corner of your eye, then look away. You don’t want to be caught staring. You don’t exactly know how he looks. You couldn’t pick him out of a crowd if you had to.

But there is a spark there, a faint bit of electricity in the air.

Of course, you look away. But you are so aware of his presence. The awareness lingers on in the atmosphere, like a sprite of sorts. The charge feels real, more real than you or him or the escalator or elevator.

The elevator comes to a halt. You step out, then he does… and both of you go your respective directions.

And just like that a magical moment came into being, shimmered for a few moments in the humid Atlanta air, and disappeared into hazy imagination.

A Friend with Style and Class

I cannot recall when/how I chanced upon To Universe with Love, a personal/lifestyle/fashion/travel blog, penned by Archana Paladugu. I read one post, then another, and kept going. It has now become the blog I check every morning. Archana writes with candor and honesty, sharing her views on sustainability, style, ethical consumption, travel and more. She has a loyal base of readers whose comments generate useful conversations and information. I am real happy that Archana blogs regularly, and in the event that I go to her site AND she has no new post up… I simply go read an old post, then another. There is enough stuff on her site to keep me reading and re-reading.

I asked Archana if she could write a guest post for me, and she agreed.

Popular blogger Joanna Goddard has a series titled Beauty Uniform where she quizzes women on their style philosophy, beauty tips, favorite products, etc. I created a set of questions for Archana that was loosely based on the ones Joanna asks on Beauty Uniform. So here goes…

What is your daily skincare routine? 

I really enjoy the ritual aspect of skincare. Buying products is one thing. But consistency is what makes the most difference for my skin.

AM : I cleanse my face with graham flour. And apply sunscreen.

PM :

Cleanse : graham flour

Serum : SkinCeuticals C E Ferulic or SK-II

Moisturize : May Lindstroms face oil

I was given Retin-A by my dermatologist this December. I usually forget to use it but been meaning to include it somehow. Being aware of all the toxic ingredients in it somehow makes it harder to pen it into my routine.

Do you have a game-changing beauty product?  

SkinCeuticals C E Ferulic acid. You should have seen my skin when I lived in Arizona. I was outdoors a lot. My skin was in a terrible condition with sunburns. Once I got religious about using the antioxidant and layering sunscreen on top, it improved tremendously. I have hyper pigmentation from those days which always resurfaces when I don’t use it.

Do you have any non-beauty rituals that help you feel great?  

Inversions. Go for a run. At the end, stretch by touching your toes. The rush of blood to the face and the warmth can be felt. It gives me a glow throughout the day. Wheel pose. Hand stand. Shoulder stand. Head stand. I feel great when I exercise regularly and smartly.

Yoga. I have tried meditation and never could get into the zone. Then tried the moving meditation — Yoga. It’s made a lot of difference in how I feel during the day. I am addicted to it. I try to sneak it in, come what may during the day.

I sip on tea all day long. My tea contains dried herbs, white tea leaves, ginger, lemon and turmeric. I have a desk job and having something to sip on is comforting.

The blueberry green smoothies I drink everyday helps too. I don’t like yogurt or milk products. But I add a spoonful of it to my smoothie. It’s camouflaged by the fruit and I would have gotten my probiotic needs for the day. I try to include some raw food in my diet everyday and it’s convenient to blend it up. My skin gets a visible glow when I am consistent with my smoothies.

Do you have any unexpected physical traits that you love?  

When I exercise regularly, I grow visible muscle. I really like the look of them on me. It’s hard for me to put on muscle and easy to lose it. I have to work hard at it. And love it when I see the results. Does this count as unexpected?

Do you have any stories of regrettable beauty moments or experiments-gone-wrong? 

Not using sunscreen is the biggest. One day, I read some article on how most urban dwellers don’t get enough Vitamin D. I then decided I wouldn’t apply it on my body to “catch some sun.” I used to bike to work and my hands were getting too much sun. I had a dozen sunburns in no time. I tried to cure it in my kitchen by applying yogurt and aloe. I was keen on treating it “holistically.” But it kept getting worse from the regular sun exposure. One day, a coworker saw the scars and asked me about potential domestic violence at home. After that incident, I went to a dermatologist who helped me heal it.

When I first moved to America, I didn’t know how to cook. Neither did I know how to eat when there is no one spoon-feeding me. I was buying zero-fat ingredients and making sandwiches for every meal. I soon “dried” up literally and became very lanky. Good fats are very important for hormonal balance and for proper functioning of organs. I am pro-healthy fats. It wasn’t an intentional experiment but more ignorance on my part about what to eat. I learnt how to cook and feed myself over the years.

What is your bedtime routine?  

This is not exactly a recommendation. But lately, I have been falling asleep listening to a book on Audible. I need to read before bed but I am too tired to these days to read. So I listen.

Have there been any important women in your life who taught you about beauty?  

Not really. Most people I know treat taking care of oneself as vanity and unnecessary waste of money. Every thing I do, I taught myself by trial and error.

How does food play a role in your beauty philosophy? Are there any foods or drinks that help you look and feel your best?  

I grew up in the household of a dermatologist. He has taught me about the skin being a result of four factors: genetics, the general state of health, the surface, and environmental factors.

We eat a lot of home-cooked fresh food. I make it a point to get my dose of probiotics and raw food in my diet everyday. I exercise. I do these for my well-being more than for beauty. I treat it as one of the contributing factors. I would not rely solely on the food to be my skincare. I need the external and internal nourishment.

What do you like most about your look?   

Nothing and everything. I don’t single out facial/body features anymore. Being critical like that only brought me self-confidence issues and I have stopped thinking that way.

Do you have any style inspirations?  

Yes I do. Georgia O Keeffe. Not in the way that I want to buy items of clothing that she wore. But in the way she approached dressing. Our views on aesthetic, art, life, love, modern women, style, clothing, … match.

Last but certainly not least, what’s your overall beauty philosophy?

Find sustainable happiness. Work on something that you love and are proud of. Everything else will fall in place automatically. I don’t want to be remembered for my clothes or appearance. I want a legacy that changes the world in some way. I am most confident and feel beautiful when I am happy.