Book Review: Wind Horse by Kaushik Barua

Wind Horse by Kaushik Barua Windhorse is the story of Lhasang, who grew up in Kham in Eastern Tibet. The son of a trader, he grew up with stories of King Gesar of Ling, of Padmasambhava, the man who taught Buddhism to Bod (Tibet), and Lhalung Pelgyi Dorje, the man who conquered fear and killed the godless king. But after the Chinese invade Tibet, when it becomes apparent that they will take away “class enemies” to be “retrained”, he makes the death-defying trek to India with his family. Uprooted from everything that he knew, all that he held dear, in a foreign country, surrounded by people whose language he doesn’t understand, he comes to realize that the only way forward for him is to go back – to Tibet.

This is the story of Norbu, the son of a successful Delhi-based  Tibetan businessman, for whom Tibet is just an idea, a picture of a young Kundun (The Dalai Lama), the place where his grandparents stay. In college, he’s lumped together with the Northeastern group on the basis of their facial features. He goes through life controlled by his father, secretly learning all he can about Tibet, but confused about his identity, about his purpose. Until he meets Dolma, a young Tibetan college student. She’s escaped from Tibet, though her parents are still there. And she’s very active on the political front, fighting to get the Tibetan voice heard, to get help to the refugees who are flocking in to Delhi, to Majnu Ka Tila, almost every day. Norbu goes with her to the refugee colony to teach children English, which is where he meets Lhasang, and his life takes a completely different turn.

This is the story of Thupten, the rich Tibetan trader whose business was ruined by the Chinese and whose only daughter Dechen was killed during the uprising in Lhasa. It is the story of Ratu, a disfigured rebel, of Athar, a rebel monk who took up arms when the Chinese killed the head of his monastery.

This is the story of Tibet. The story of the early years of the Chinese invasion, of the Tibetan’s struggle for freedom.

It’s a story that is alive with Tibetan myth and culture, with their innate sense of non-violence, and the clash between the ideologies of the older and younger generations caught in the conflict. This is the story of a people who are still in exile, of a conflict that continues until today. And while it is a fictionalized history of Tibet, it is also a story about human beings and their search and struggle for purpose and freedom.

All-in-all, it is a story that must be read. Highly, highly recommended!

On following your passion and quitting your day job

On creativity and money

I always thought that if you’ve got the talent, creativity should provide. Well, apparently not! And this quote from Elizabeth Gilbert’s Big Magic Monday post dovetails very neatly with the realization I’ve come to recently – you DO NOT need to quit your day job to pursue your passions! When you do that, you’re forcing your passion to provide for you, and then you run the risk of making your passion your day job – with all the associated frustrations of a day job!

If, on the other hand, you pursue your passions on the side, when you have the time and the crazy drive, and when (and if) it turns into this huge-ass success, by all means, quit your day job. Because once you’ve achieved crazy-ass fame, or even a steady income stream, chances are that you will be called on to be involved with your passion in multiple ways. Then your passion will also be driven from the outside – through demand for your time, your thoughts, your opinions…

Your fan base, your influencers, your cheerleaders will want more of you…they are likely to give you at least a couple of chances…because they “know” you, love your product, flock to your name…and then even if your passion wanes a bit, the “fame momentum” will be enough to carry you along for a while.

Case in point – J.K. Rowling. Her first “adult” novel Casual Vacancy, published after the Harry Potter series, was panned by almost everyone who read it, but that didn’t stop her mystery novels (published later) from becoming super hits. When she was outed as Robert Galbraith , sales of The Cuckoo’s Calling skyrocketed even though it hadn’t done all that well previously, and even though it wasn’t all that marvelous a novel. And before her “overnight success”? Well, she worked as a research assistant at Amensty International, taught English as a foreign language in Portugal, and even lived on state benefits while pursuing a teacher’s training course. And during all this time, she wrote. In the pockets of time between work, in the spaces between falling in love and raising a child. She wrote. She collected rejection slips aplenty, and still, she wrote. And I believe that even if Harry Potter had never seen light of day (which would have been a crying shame!), she would still be at a cafe, somewhere in England, writing her heart out. Because that is just what she does. She writes.

Which is basically the point that I am trying to make. Your passion is something that you will do no matter what. I believe that it should be something that you nurture, that you support, something that continues to bring you joy day in and day out. And if you become an “overnight success”, sure, quit your day job!

But this whole “leap and the net will appear” thing – well, it can also lead to a hard landing, ya know! So instead of then getting disillusioned with your passion, why not just pursue it when you can? Take a sabbatical, switch to a part time job. But don’t quit your job until you know you’ve arrived!

Where do you stand on the passion vs. job debate? I’d love to hear from you in the comments!

Inspired by Elizabeth Gilbert’s Big Magic Monday post on Facebook.

Delhi Lens: Big Bongg Theory – restaurant review

I’ve never been a fan of commercial Indian food – unless its mughlai, which is a totally different ball game! When I say Indian food – I really mean North Indian food of the butter chicken, paneer pasand variety. Recently, however, I’ve been on a regional Indian food trail in Delhi. With the restaurant business booming, and people willing to experiment with flavors and food, there are a lot of excellent, often stand-alone, restaurants offering regional cuisine. Some of these are old, some are new, but most of them are excellent! This is my humble attempt at chronicling my gastronomical journey across India, without having to pack my bags and head out of Delhi! Bon Appetit!

Located adjacent to Axis Bank, behind a tiny community park in Shahpur Jat, is Big Bongg Theory – a little gem of a Bengali eatery. With just enough space for about 3-4 tables, this tiny little eatery serves up some huge flavors! The restaurant is run by a young woman who is passionate about food and has in-depth knowledge on ingredients and flavors – and not just Bengali flavors either, she’s traveled all over India to discover unique ingredients and local flavors. That she chose to start a Bengali restaurant – that too outside the normal environs of CR Park (The Bong bastion in Delhi), is a nod to her roots. And the food here will get your taste buds singing!

The best part, though? She serves only seasonal food – which means you get fresh ingredients and weather appropriate food.

Big Bongg Theory

Big Bongg Theory, Shahpur Jat, Delhi

We arrived into this tiny, white oasis on a hot summer day. And the first thing you need upon entering a restaurant after braving the summer heat is something to quench your thirst. The aamadar shorbot does just that – and how! Aamadar belongs to the ginger family, but it tastes like mango, which is why it’s called a mango-ginger zinger. It has the sweetness of a mango with the slight zing of ginger and it is absolutely brilliant! To start our food feast, we ordered the phish (fish) fry – crunchy, yummy, fishy goodness and leaf bora (fritters). So yes, this is a fried leaf pakoda (in a way). But it’s not your standard spinach leaf. The leaf fritter is also seasonal – and summer is the season for……………..jute leaf! Yes, jute – the same jute that gives us rope and jute sacks – that jute. Coated in batter and fried, served with Bengali mustard. Yum!

Big Bongg Theory, Leaf Fritters

Jute leaf fritters at Big Bongg Theory

In the main course, you never can go wrong with sea food. Our pick was the sorshe mach – a light, mustard paste gravy with onions and onion seeds, and  prawn malai curry – big, juicy prawns swimming in a thin, delicately flavored coconut and mustard curry with some rice. Heavenly tastes, especially as all of the food was cooked fresh!

Your turn – what’s your favorite regional food restaurant in Delhi?

Reclaiming my voice

I’m curled up on my favorite spot on the sofa. Legs up on the ottoman, laptop balanced on my knees. As I look through my old posts, at some saved drafts for blog post ideas, I realize I’ve let fear paralyze me. Fear of being not good enough, of my voice not being powerful enough. Fear of what people will think if I post this or that. Fear of being inadequate to the expectations I set for myself. So. Much. FEAR.

I remember when blogging used to be fun! A time when I didn’t really care about what anyone thought about me. When I didn’t imagine that I would be judged by that nameless, faceless, formless someone out in cyberspace for my thoughts and ideas and beliefs.

While I have never been trolled (thank the Internet Gods!), just reading about the trolls and their vicious bile made me run away and hide. Even though I very rarely write on troll-worthy subjects – and even when I do, I am saved from trolls – I still let them bully me into being quiet.

Well, I don’t really want to be quiet any more. I want to express. To write about the things that move me. About my many and constantly changing interests. I may not become consistent overnight, and I won’t always come up with a masterpiece, and that’s alright. I just want to let the words flow again. Send my thoughts out to cyberspace, knowing they will reach the people who they are meant to reach. To write for the sheer joy of expressing an idea, a thought, a brief moment in time. To. Just. Write.

And trust that everything will be OK.

In defense of a child free life

Motherhood. It’s a biggie! It’s a life-altering, soul changing decision. You bring a new life into this world, an innocent little life that you are responsible for.


Society would have you believe that as a woman, it is your “duty” to have a child. That your life will be “meaningless” without one. That you will “regret” your decision when you are “old and alone with no one to ask after you”.

But just because society says it’s the done thing and because everyone around you is doing it, doesn’t mean it is right. Besides, having a child is no guarantee that you will have someone to look after you in your old age. I’m sure you’ve seen enough old folks around whose kids have all but abandoned them.

Choosing to have a child is a big decision – and I tip my hat to all of you who have chosen parenthood. When it comes to me, though, I have always believed that you should want – desperately, whole heartedly, irrationally – to have a child. Then, and only then, should you have one. Because having a child is a full-time job. A HUGE responsibility. And you can’t say “Oops, sorry, not my thing” after you have a child.

That desire has never arisen in me. Sure, I’ve felt a surge of panic when friends have told me they’re having a baby. Very happy for them, mind, just wondering if there is something wrong with me. If my decision is “wrong”. If I am going to regret it.


Until I think it through – about actually having this little helpless human dependent on me for everything. A life I will have to mould and shape, and won’t know if I am doing an even half-way decent job of it until it’s too late. I think of all my free time being gone. Of having this full time responsibility forever, 24x7x365 until I die. And I feel suffocated. And so I know – my decision is right, for me. At the end of the day, I would rather regret not having a child than having one and regretting the decision.

So when I saw this survey, with answers by 270 women on why they don’t want children, some of whom are in their 60s and are wildly happy, I felt like I had been heard.

There are many, many reasons why I don’t want children. One blog post isn’t going to be enough to write about them all. But this I know for sure: I don’t want or need children to feel validated as a woman. I don’t need children to give my life meaning or to pass my legacy on though a child. I love my life, my free time, my space, quiet and solitude. I love being able to make decisions without thinking about a kid. I love the fact that I can spend my time lost in the flow of creating a painting or reading a book or binge-watching GoT. The husband and I are at peace with our decision – one that we have revisited every couple of years during our 13-year marriage – and at the end of the day, that is what matters.

So, what are your thoughts on motherhood or on being child free? I’d love to hear from you in the comments!

Note: I last wrote on this topic back in 2009, after reading Elizabeth Gilbert’s awesome novel, Eat, Pray, Love. You can read that post here: Thoughts on motherhood