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Photo by Milada Vigerova on Unsplash

I have lived in the United States of America for six years now. I moved here for graduate school and work.

The good parts of being a tech immigrant worker living in the Bay Area are that I enjoy a high standard of living, the illusion of gender equality in the workplace, beautiful libraries, parks, bars, public systems and infrastructure that just work, and the means to do pretty much anything I want. …


Learnings from vedantic meditation

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Photo by Greg Rakozy on Unsplash

4 years ago, my work was not going well. I was thousands of miles away from everyone I loved.

Everything seemed to be crumbling around me.

That’s when I discovered Advaita Vedanta, a branch of Hinduism that aims to teach humans to transcend suffering and attain eternal happiness.

Sounds great right? Well, it’s not that simple.

Advaita Vedanta (advaita means ‘non-dual’) tells you that your real nature is the same as God’s nature. Tat tvam asi, which translates to “That Thou Art” (‘That’, being the supreme divinity), is a fundamental fact according to Advaita Vedanta.

Then why don’t we know…


The illusion of explanatory depth

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Photo by Annie Spratt on Unsplash

Of course, you know how a bicycle works, right? Wrong.

Leonid Rozenblit and Frank Kiel, Yale psychologists, first concluded through a series of experiments that people tend to overrate their understanding of causally complex systems like artifacts (bicycles, microwaves, sewing machines, microchips, zippers, refrigerators), and natural phenomena (tides, rainbows, waves, etc.).

They coined a term for this: the illusion of explanatory depth (IOED). Simply put, if you ask a bunch of people to rate their understanding of a causally complex system, say, a bicycle, they are likely to give themselves high ratings. …


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I was 21 when I wanted to become a product manager.

I was a software engineer in Chennai, India, working for a company that manufactured HVAC systems. As a fresh college graduate, I wanted to understand how what I was working on was making a difference to the world!

One year into my job, my team hired a product manager. He used to talk to building operators and site managers who were actually using my software, and pass on real, human feedback from them back to my team. He was the one telling us what to build and what our…


Hint: I will not mention “The Giving Tree”

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I discovered Shel Silverstein at the ripe age of 28.

I was at Moe’s bookstore in Berkeley and came across Where the Sidewalk Ends, by Shel Silverstein. I read a few poems. They were deceptively simple, and grabbed me by the heart. I brought the book home.

I was at a point in my life where I’d just achieved a major life goal — graduating with a masters degree from my dream university. Surprisingly, graduating didn’t make me feel happy or calm. I felt oddly deflated.

That’s when I read The Search.

I went to find the pot of gold…


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Photo by Mae Mu on Unsplash

I am chopping mushrooms for dinner. Asian style noodles in coconut milk. The groceries were delivered just a few hours ago, by a man in a mask.

It’s 2020, and the virus is at large in San Francisco.

My kitchen is sterile. Spotless.

Chop, chop, chop. Dice, dice, dice. One perfectly smooth mushroom after another pops out of a shrink wrapped plastic container.

It has been three months since I left my neighborhood.

Yet, I have miraculously stayed well fed.

It’s expensive. I just paid $103 dollars for fruit and vegetables.

Perhaps I should grow food.

I looked up “potting…


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Photo by Markus Spiske on Unsplash
  1. Invest in gold

Indian parents LOVE gold. It is really an obsession.

Every time my parents make a little extra money, they just buy gold. This used to frustrate me as a child because I wanted something I could USE. Like a TV. But, now I am 30 and every article on finance I read advices me to buy gold, gold futures or other gold related assets. The value of a rupee or a dollar may fall, but gold is stable and will always have value.

2. Work on reducing your wants

My parents are happy with very little. This…


A phrase borrowed from Sir Terry Pratchett

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Photo by Jaredd Craig on Unsplash

I started a bookstagram (instagram account about books) account last weekend called The Desi Reader, and I have been watching a lot of booktube (youtube videos reviewing books) during the quarantine. So, I get the temptation to buy a book that someone on the internet HIGHLY recommends or to simply buy a book because the cover looks beautiful.

I have been burnt by this rather expensive habit of mindlessly ordering books that booktubers recommend. After about a year of doing this, I have come to the realization that my approach to reading needs to change.

This realization dawned on me…


Tiffin is an Indian english word that refers to a particular type of meal. It could mean a light tea time snack or a light breakfast. The word tiffin makes me think of a small portion of idlis or upma served on a steel plate alongside a steel tumbler of hot, South Indian filter coffee.

I grew up in Tamil Nadu which is well known for its tiffin culture. Steaming hot idlis (rice and lentil cakes) served with the sambar and a host of chutneys, is the quintessential tiffin.


Food is never really just about food, is it?

It’s about memories, family and connections.

In these trying times, I find comfort in food, not just because it feels good to eat, but because eating/drinking gives me a chance to reminisce about happier times and the people who fed me with love.

1. The South Indian Filter Coffee

As I write this, I am sipping filter coffee from a steel tumbler that I brought back from home (Chennai, India), a few months ago.

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South Indian filter coffee in a traditional steel tumbler and davara

The filter coffee, which is made in a traditional steel filter, is a staple in every Tamilian household including mine.

I have been…

Ashwini

Writer, singer and product manager living and dreaming in San Francisco.

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