Live With Bliss -

Live With Bliss

MS Subbulakshmi was one of the greatest carnatic singers of all time.

October 23, 1966, she sang Maithreem Bhajata at the United Nations in New York City.

My grandparents were in the audience.

My mother used to sing the song to me as a child and I loved it for its musicality. When I learned the meaning, I loved it even more.

The key message, of the song is “Sreyo Bhooyaath Sakala Janaanaam” which translates to “Let all the people live with bliss”.

And that is my wish for 2014.

With friendship please serve,

And conquer all the hearts,

Please think that others are like you,

Please forsake war for ever,

Please forsake competition forever,

Please forsake force to get someone else’s property,

For mother earth yields all our desires,

And God our father is most merciful,

Restrain, donate and be kind,

To all the people of this world,

Let all the people live with bliss,

Let all the people live with bliss,

Let all the people live with bliss.

Photo credit and all rights owned by: Raghu Rai
Source of the translated lyrics: Wikipedia

Consolidating the blogs -

Consolidating the blogs

I started this blog my personal blog, Almost As Good As Chocolate1, on September 29, 2006. There were busy moments and there were large lulls. Over time though, with Twitter and Tumblr, with work and life, I ended up posting here2 less and less.

I am, however, posting on the Tatvam blog and on Tumblr. Given that it’s been a year since I’ve posted here3, it is time to consolidate, to simplify.

All of this content will move to my Tatvam blog4 where I will continue blogging about film, but now, also about things that interest me and about technology. Every post that was written originally on this blog will be tagged with the “Almost As Good As Chocolate” category. And you will not need to update anything – the RSS feed and the emails will still work as I will update them on the back end.

Over the next few weeks, as I transition, there *may* be a few glitches. Thank you in advance for understanding.

I’ve met some great friends through this blog5 – I look forward to seeing you on Tatvam.

Update: I realize this post gets a bit confusing when it’s viewed, post-migration on the Tatvam blog. Just to be clear, it was the last post on my personal blog. All the posts were then migrated. Now it lives here on Tatvam. Clear? Good.

  1. It used to live at, which now redirects to my Tatvam site 

  2. see point 1 

  3. see point 1 

  4. it has now moved and you are reading it on Tatvam 

  5. see point 1 

The Joy of Quiet

wonderful article that nudges me further down a path I was already exploring.

In barely one generation we’ve moved from exulting in the time-saving devices that have so expanded our lives to trying to get away from them — often in order to make more time. The more ways we have to connect, the more many of us seem desperate to unplug. Like teenagers, we appear to have gone from knowing nothing about the world to knowing too much all but overnight.

Instead of being more in control, we are less in control – especially of our time.

In my own case, I turn to eccentric and often extreme measures to try to keep my sanity and ensure that I have time to do nothing at all (which is the only time when I can see what I should be doing the rest of the time). I’ve yet to use a cellphone and I’ve never Tweeted or entered Facebook. I try not to go online till my day’s writing is finished, and I moved from Manhattan to rural Japan in part so I could more easily survive for long stretches entirely on foot, and every trip to the movies would be an event. None of this is a matter of principle or asceticism; it’s just pure selfishness. Nothing makes me feel better — calmer, clearer and happier — than being in one place, absorbed in a book, a conversation, a piece of music. It’s actually something deeper than mere happiness: it’s joy, which the monk David Steindl-Rast describes as “that kind of happiness that doesn’t depend on what happens.”

Disconnecting is self-preservation, it’s joy creation and as he mentions earlier in the article, it puts you back in touch with your creativity.

This picture was included with Pico’s article1. It’s particularly suitable because in the past week, I spent time searching for, and finding, seashells on a beach with my boys. It was, without a doubt, the best part of the past year.

This picture was included with Pico’s article1. It’s particularly suitable because in the past week, I spent time searching for, and finding, seashells on a beach with my boys. It was, without a doubt, the best part of the past year.

  1. Photo credit: Vivienne Flesher 

Responsibility comes with social media

There’s a video doing the rounds of a young woman on the Metro North train who gets into a verbal altercation with the conductor1. She keeps bringing up how “well-educated” she is. Her behavior is disgusting and despicable. Education has nothing to do with classy behavior. Neither does money. We’ve all seen enough examples of that.

BUT – what’s happened to her is also unacceptable. Her name has been made mud across the internet, people have posted her resume, there’s a Facebook page in her name where people are calling her a c**t. This stuff never goes away – ever. In 20 years it will still be there when you Google her name2.

Is it a violation of her privacy to take video of her without her knowledge even though it’s a public place? I am not sure, but the person who took and posted the video is equally vile and despicable and has taken an unpleasant and disgusting situation and potentially ruined her life. That’s not fair punishment.

Why is there no repercussions to that person? He/she was being surreptitious – it’s not like he/she was bold and brave – the video was taken on the sly. This is the downside of videos on cell phones and instant uploads. The person probably posted it without thinking through the consequences. And now, there is no going back.

A sad situation, made sadder. Two wrongs were done here – let’s be very clear about that.

  1. She happens to be South Asian, but that has little to do with this post. 

  2. For that reason, I will not post any links to the video or any articles. 


If you read this blog, you know that I rarely, if ever, blog about food. Living in New York, it easy to eat at great restaurants and I manage to do that every once in a while. But at the core, I’m a reluctant cook.
If there was ever going to be a site that could change that, however, it would be Yummly1. Billed as having “Every Recipe in the World”, it is incredibly well-organized and just… beautiful. I love beautiful sites – they make you feel good.

When you do a search for a recipe, the search results are well organized and each recipe is shown with a star rating, and how long it will take you to make it. For the reluctant, like me, this is excellent – it’s always a tradeoff between time it will take and yummyness. And yes, I am personally willing to trade off a bit of yummyness for oodles of time saved.

Each recipe is also ranked by flavor – Salty, Savory, Sour Bitter and Sweet. And a slider on the right side lets you specify if you want more and less and shows you options that fit your requirements. All this to say – it’s how a site should be designed. You want to find something? It has all the ways to help you refine and find exactly what you want. And since Yummly pulls in recipes from all over the web you will find a recipe for pretty much anything you want.

Try it out and let me know what you think!

  1. Full disclosure: Yummly is founded by ex-eBay friends and colleagues and I’ve been aware of it since it was a sparkling little PowerPoint presentation in the founders’ hands 


After months of talking about how our lives were more complicated than we could deal with, R and I took a step in simplifying.

Our apartment is overflowing with books. Five to six years ago, we got new bookshelves to deal with the problem. Three years ago, we just started putting the extra books in boxes that slowly started piling up. Two years ago, R was banned from buying new books and mostly bought his books in e-book format. Of course this meant he has had several e-book readers including two version of the Sony Reader and every version of the Kindle. But it seemed worth it compared to having more books enter the house.

At the end of 2010 though, we had about five thousand books in the house and we made the decision to donate most of them. R found a charity recommended by the NY Public Library (which no longer accepts any books) and off we went. First R and then I went through every book we had, making a “keep” or “give decision. We ended up keeping around a thousand books. There was a battle over some.

Of the four thousand others, we invited our friends to come take as many as they wanted (a small sample of them in the pictures below). Over the course of a week, about 9 boxes of books were scooped up by friends, including a box that will be shipped to Canada and one to San Francisco. Some of them are already in Chile. Pretty cool.

And a couple of weeks ago, the other 50 boxes were collected by the charity.

It was not an easy process, but it feels good. Over 90% of our book purchases will be electronic going forward. Which… makes me think of all the things that I need e-readers to do to live up to the wonderful, tangible, real world benefits physical books in a home offer. I’ll save that for the next post…