Monday, 27 November 2017

Ikigai: Finding Your Life’s Purpose

Life  is a short, medium OR long existence of an individual human being or animal. Who knows how long one can actually live, right?

However, on Okinawa islands - the string of 150 subtropical islands that lay east of Taiwan and constitute Japan's southernmost prefecture, contains more centenarians per head of population than anywhere else boast of having the highest life expectectencies in the world!

The inhabitants on these islands on an average live seven times longer then Americans. Not only are their lives long and healthy and social but they also have a firm belief and that is leading lives of PURPOSE.

According to research, having a sense of purpose and direction is considered to be very healthy for our well being. It not only protects our health but also helps us to live longer and happier lives. Its all because we are connected to something much larger than ourselves, that we can remain far more hopeful and positive.

It becomes easier to cope with all of life’s challenges and connect with others and it becomes easier to take care of others as well.

This sense of pupose is referred to as ‘ikigai’ in Japanese culture. It simply means a reason for being or otherwise known as raison d'ĂȘtre (a French expression which means reason for being). Ikigai is a word which is composed of two Japanese words ‘iki’ meaning ‘life’ and ‘kai’ which means ‘the realisations of what one expects and hopes for’.

So, how do we find our purpose?

Our purpose is not like a ‘conclusion’ that we just settle or conclude upon. Sometimes it finds us at times of personal crisis. Our purpose is found at the intersection of:

·       Your values i.e. what you believe in
·       Your strengths –what you are good at
·       Your interests  -what you have interest and show passion doing
·       Your Service: how you would like to contribute back to the society, community, or even to a cause.

While we divide our day and time into two different phases: work and retirement; in Okinawa, Japan there is just one word that encompasses everything and that is  

Simple to understand, isnt it but don't we make this simple meaning’ so complex?  Of course, we have one purpose and that is to stay alive, but beyond that we have to assign meaning to our lives,  such as pursuing professions or vocations which pretty much take up a huge portion of our day and give our lives some sense of direction and purpose.

Just unpacking this word involves the convergence of four primary elements:

What your passion is (your love)
What your mission is (your world needs)
      What your vocation is (good at)
What your profession is (can get paid for)  

In Okinawa, Japan ikigai is considered as a “reason to get up in the morning”.
While incorporating the financial aspects of life the word also encompasses spiritual and mental aspects of one’s life.

It involves four circles: a venn diagram with four diagram with four empty circles that intersect in the middle –one for each of the elements below and to write your thoughts in the corresponding section.

Circle 1 – Profession
Inside this circle, you have to question yourself: What are you doing that pays the bills and what parts of your job do you enjoy? Your profession is what you are paid to. This can be something that you may have always wanted to do or it can be something that you were encouraged to do. It may have even evolved from a subject from a subject that you studied.

Circle 2 – Passion Inside of this circle you have to ask yourself, what is it that you enjoy doing, whether or not it has some commercial end. Passions are known to excite us. This activity or activities should totally engross you when you are in the zone or time stands still. They are essentially activities that excite us and make us feel whole  and consume our attention.

Circle 3- Mission
Inside this circle, you ask yourself, how do you want to be remembered? What do you feel is your duty to the earth or mankind. In short,            

Even if we are going though a very dark and challenging time, there is a purpose and meaning behind it. Have you ever given a bit of thought to why you live the life you do; and why you work the profession you do?

 Ikigai, a Japanese concept is known to be synonomous with the French phrase ‘Raison d’etre’ – i.e. reason to be’. At every stage of our lives, with no direct English translation Ikigai is a Japanese concept which embodies the idea of happiness in living.   

Why are you here and what is your reason for being? Don't you spend a good portion of your life finding out the reason why? This is one of the most important questions that you can possibly ask yourself and ponder over and spend your whole life thinking about.

It is a Japanese concept of soul purpose or Ikigai that is designed to help YOU uncover all the answers that you seek by exploring the intersection between what you can be paid to do, what you love to do, what the world needs and what you are truly good at.   

Happiness- isn’t that something that we all seek for in some form or the other in life? Our lives are limited and we are actually committed to make some meaning out of our lives by pursuing through the different goals we pursue and actions that we take.

 A life of meaning is considered to be sensible life. It is similar to the French phrase, raison d’etre that means a reason to be.  Ikigai, which is a Japanese concept that means a reason for being, is so important that everyone must find his or her individual Ikigai.  Finding it requires a very deep often-lengthy search of the self and that's not really easy.

Finding one’s Ikigai is often a very lengthy and deep search of the soul. How many of us try to search for meaning in our lives through our profession, hobbies and even through raising our children? It is extremely important to one’s cultural identity as it adds meaning to life.                              
American mythologist and author Joseph Campbell has shared his view on fulfilling our purpose when he said,My general formula for my students is, ‘Follow your bliss.’ Find where it is, and don’t be afraid to follow it.”

Meanwhile, philosopher and civil rights leader Howard W Thurman had said: Don’t ask what the world needs. Ask what makes you come alive and do that… Because what the world really needs is people who have come alive.

On the other hand,  Sacred Activism encourages us to find a purpose by following our ‘heartbreak’. Andrew Harvey –(British author, religious scholar and teacher of mystic traditions, known primarily for his popular nonfiction books on spiritual or mystical themes) also encourages us to find out that which is most disturbing in our own world and use that as a catalyst to fuel our actions to find where we can make the biggest impact.

Professions have swerved across my mind, Ive studied Psychology (Bachelor in Arts) and done a P.G. Diploma in Communications and a certificate course in creative writing, However, writing has really helped me to understand the ideas that are constantly swirling around in my head and give them some substance. 

More importantly it gives me the confidence to express my views and thoughts and also to be able to meet people who are sharing the same journey or understand the one that I am own. Writing has helped me to connect to other writers and become a source of happiness and contentment which are all predictors of health, longevity of life and sucesss.   

Monday, 20 November 2017

Mumbai - A Side I've Never Seen Before

Living in a city for 20 years can never be ENOUGH for me to REALLY know how much culture MUMBAI really has and offers! I’ve been so used to living my dogmatic life that looking beyond or even just for curiosity sake I never even read about the city. Besides the ‘commonly recommended’ list of activities and places to visit there are many that you perhaps have not even tried out or even heard of!  

Most of these are budget friendly and show you a different side of the city that you perhaps have never even seen.

Of course, there is no pride in the fact of exploring the slums of Mumbai, but then the walk down this impoverished Mumbai neighbourhood, which is also considered to be the world’s largest slums, gives you a lot of insight into the life of a local.

Mumbai is well known for being the financial, entertainment and Bollywood capital of the country and has a population of over 21 million people. Yet sadly a whopping 62% (i.e. 13 million people are living in the slums around the city!) 

The type of lives these people have to live: working for long hours under the blistering sun, making use of the river as a toilet, using the sidewalks as a place to sleep and finding shelter beneath bridges. This is the life of the ‘glorious’ Mumbai we all proudly talk about.  

1) Dharavi Tour in Mumbai (Private or with Group)
Personally, I yet haven’t been on one of these tours but have just read so much about them. You can take small group tours or private walking tours of Dharavi Slum. This tour is a 2.5/3 hour-long tour and you can explore the narrow lanes, shops and industries of Dharavi with a guide.

 You can learn how this diverse group of people co-exists in such tight spaces, visit a local community center and also get an overview of the slum’s commercial areas.  You will also see where the residents recycle aluminum, plastic, oil, tin cans, paint and cardboard. There are also bakeries, workshops for leather and cloth dying and also soap-manufacturing to see. All these tours all meet at Mahim Junction Railway Station.

2) Go for a village tour:

 Mumbai is known to be a bustling city but it does have a rustic feel to it. On the outskirts of this city there lies the ‘Adivasi’ village’s way out on the suburbs where you can experience and witness the simple life of the locals. There is something about their (tribals) rustic style of living that will memorise you. You can forget city life for a while and just indulge yourself in the activities such as fishing, farming and ploughing.          

3) Go on a Parsi Snack Trail:

Berry Pulao to Dhansak buffets, there are only a few ways to experience an authentic Parsi bhonu (meal). You can go for your very own Parsi snack trail in Mumbai! Perzen Patel, a Parsi food blogger who has her own Parsi food catering service, takes people who sign up for the Snack Trail following all of the aromas of the area begin from Sethna Agiary, which is a fire temple of the community on Grant Road.

 She goes on to tell people storied they tell about the community and its history and also some well kept secrets like places where the Parsis buy their traditional snacks, which are not available in most Parsi restaurants in the city. 

Details: This walk begins at Bhatia Hospital and costs INR 1,000. It is conducted by  Rahul Patil, who is the founder of Wander Foodie and end the walk at the old bakery, B. Merwan (outside Grant Road Station). Some other places included are a 50-year-old vendor and an iconic Parsi spice store.    

4) Explore South Mumbai Markets and Temples
 Colaba Market, Crawford Market & Mangaldas Market: South Mumbai has a lot to offer in terms of its vibrant markets. With a local guide, it is easy to navigate your way through these markets. Your tour will also include a visit to the Mumba Devi Mandir (a Hindu temple) and a visit to an unusual animal shelter inside of Bhuleshwar market.

Starting at Colaba (in the afternoon), you will set off through the different allerways and streets to Crawford market. This market, which was founded in 1871 , has a Gothic and Romanesque feature to it. It has the most defining architectural style in South Mumbai. It is truly a sight to see the display of colourful homemade chocolates, colourful vegatables, meats, imported cheeses and household goods.
You will then get a glimpse of the vibrant Bhuleshwar and Kalbadevi markets. Just the scents and sights are enough to make this area stimulating enough. Stop for a complimentary cup of tea or even soda before you head on further to your next stop. A market that was opened in 1893 , Mangaldas Market is well known for the number of tailors and clothing vendors that it has. Interestingly it is also known to celebrated fashion designers for the fabrics that it offers.

 You can then take a break from shopping and visit the oasis of the lovely Mumbadevi temple. It is within this temple that you may catch a glimpse of devotees being blessed by Hindu priests or praying. Your guide will explain the basics of Hinduism the dominant religion of India.

Now, close to the temple there is a flower alley which you can visit. It is known for its reknowned garlands of saffron-coloured red roses and marigolds.
Founded in 1834, you will also come across an animal shelter – Bombay Panjrapole which is situated on a quiet two-acre parcel within the busy Bhuleshwar market. The shelter is known for primarily taking care of cows – ‘HUNDREDS’ and these animals are considered sacred by Hindus. 

Saturday, 18 November 2017

A Magical Month in New York- November

November, the last month of the fall season in New York; when you can find the leaves on the trees changing colours and dotting the city roads with red and yellow.

It is during this time of the year that it is fairly pleasant and the weather is mild, although it can get chilly at night. It is also the month right before the bitterly cold, winter season.

Every single year November has a number of New York City Marathons and other events such as the Macy’s Thanksgiving Day Parade, the Union Square Holiday Market, the Comic Con Book Movie Trivia and the massive Whiskey Fest.

The Macy's Thanksgiving Day Parade: An event that is well known for its association with the city of New York, this year it will be the 91st Thanksgiving Day Parade. With its annual pageant of balloons, floats, clowns, cheerleaders, theatre, marching bands and more; this is one of the most anticipated events of the month. 

New York celebrates Thanksgiving on a large-scale! There are plenty of ways of celebrating Thanksgiving in New York: At Times Square – Hershey's Store, M&M Store, Hard Rock Cafe, Top of the Rock and most of Rockefeller Centre, Statue of Liberty or even at the Madame Tussauds Wax Museum. It is truly a magical time in New York at this time of the year and even hotels are keeping up with the parade routes.

Taking place in Manhattan, New Yorkers and everyone else who is visiting the city during this time are turned on to the turkeys and settle on some football this Parade is a highlight of the month! Some of Broadways's biggest stars will be performing this year. 

In addition to this parade, there will also be Macy's Balloon Parade. Some of the giant balloons include Pikachu, Hello Kitty, Spongebob, the Pillsbury Doughboy, Pikachu, Paddington Bear, Angry Birds’ Red,Spongebob Squarepants, The Elf on the Shelf, Skylanders Eruptor, Power Ranger, Thomas The Tank Engine, Red Mighty Morphin , Ronald McDonald,  Dino and the Ice Age’s Scrat and his acorn at the Macy’s Thanksgiving Day Parade.    

 Some of the other events during this month include the Renegade Craft Fair in NYC Guide, the NYC Marathon, the Louis Vuitton New York Exhibition, the New York Comedy Festival, the Radio City Christmas Spectacular and Thanksgiving in NYC!   

2)  The Renegade Craft Fair in NYC guide: 


Known to be the city's coolest flea markets and holiday markets, the Renegade Craft Fair in NYC is full of unique items and delicious food. Only the most serious artists work are considered to display their artwork, accessories and handmade goods. 

 This event is held on November 18th and 19th in Manhattan. There are over 150 vendors and live entertainment from DJ's.The fair is absolutely free and open-to-the-public and starts from November 18 and 19 from 11am–6pm. The Fair is taking over the Metropolitan Pavilion (125 W 18th St) in Manhattan, NY.

3) The Louis Vuitton New York Exhibition: Louis Vuitton, also known as Louis Vuitton Malletier and shortened as LV has always been well known across the world for its elegance. It is well known for its iconic bags and valuable brand. 

Every year, right here in in New York, is the Louis Vuitton New York Exhibition, So, even if you may not be able to afford one of these bags it is certainly worth a visit to the exhibition “Volez, Voguez, Voyagez – Louis Vuitton” at the American Stock Exchange Building in New York City that runs right up till January 7th, 2018. 

Events are not just the only category of things that you can do while in NYC. You can also stay engaged in a lot of sports activities such as biking, horseback riding, cheering to your favourite Baseball team, boating, sailing, football and walking.

 There are also plenty of FREE things for you to do too! From tours, museums, events, shows, a moonlight bike ride in Central Park, a walk down the High line or even Brooklyn Bridge, a ride to Staten Island there is so much that this city offers you to do! You can visit the 9/11 Memorial Museum or even go to the Brooklyn Botanic Garden.

Last time I came to New York, I went for possibly all the walking tours and really explored the city. From the Grand Central walking tour, Greenwich Village, High Line & Chelsea tour, SoHo, Little Italy and Chinatown tour, Brooklyn Bridge, Brooklyn Heights and DUMBO Tour, Williamsburg Brooklyn Street Art Tour and Downtown Manhattan. 

So, this time I just want to take it easy and enjoy winter season (December) in New York and whatever remaining time I have in New York before heading off to Los Angeles.

A vacation is having nothing to do and all day to do it in." Robert Orben 


Ikigai: Finding Your Life’s Purpose

Life   is a short, medium OR long existence of an individual human being or animal. Who knows how long one can actually liv...