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Cultural Differences, a Friend For Life, and a Diwali in Chile

in chile in cauquenes with friends teaching english in chile

It is Diwali and I’m reminded of a Diwali I spent with three crazy Chilean sisters in a country home of Chile five years ago. Damn! It has been five years. The narrative tells just how different two cultures can be.

 

In 2016, I had been volunteering as an English teacher with the English Open Doors program in Chile. I was in the south of Chile on the Chiloé island in its capital city Castro. Like other volunteers I stayed in a Chilean home. The house had my bubbly host mother, other Chilean borders, and two more volunteers from England and the US.

It was Diwali and also an extended weekend in Chile. My host mother was visiting her relatives. Other housemates were traveling.

I had made many friends by then but Gabriela, another English teacher on the island, had become a special one. She invited me to a countryside family get-together with her two elder sisters. They were going to their parental home in Cauquenes, a small town in Southern Chile, to celebrate Gabby’s daughter Javiera’s eighteenth birthday.

Either I could’ve gone with Gabriela or traveled with an English volunteer best friend and housemate (and his other friends) to another cool place. (This things to do in Chile travel blog from my experiences will help you plan your trip.)

But spending Diwali with three crazy Chilean sisters sounded much more fun than talking about foreign things with other foreign travelers. So I packed my bags, took a bus to Gabby’s house, and together we took another bus to Cauquenes.

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Why Getting Dumped Could Be Good For You (Real Story)

colorful sky to show the possibilities after getting dumped

 

Getting dumped isn’t the end of the world. The silver line of a breakup (first only faintly visible) is we get to feel and smoothen out the rough curves of our personalities.

In this essay I talk about my first love and my first break up. Though that first love seemed like my last, time proved me wrong. Looking back into the broken shards of the relationship I also see how scattered a human being I was.

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42 Handpicked Marcel Proust Quotes On Habits, Love, Desire, Misery, Memory, and Little Joys

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In Search of Lost Time Quotes By Proust That I Found Too Hard to Ignore – Collected from Volume One

Previously, I published the ethereal lines from Proust’s Swann’s Way (In Search of Lost Time Vol 1) underlining his understanding of human composition and admirable usage of precise words. Now I bring you quotes by Proust collected from the length of the same volume Swann’s Way (Book 1 of the 6-Volume collection In Search of Lost Time). 

The below Marcel Proust quotes tell us our griefs aren’t unique, that we aren’t the only ones miserable and despondent in love, that our minds and memories play tricks on us all, and that habits anchor us to the known. These collected words also emphasize the everlasting joy that nature brings, prove we all lie to ourselves, highlight the illusion of power, and tenderly sympathize with us for bearing the mundaneness of acceptance. 

Hope you enjoy these words pulled from the depths of Proust’s consciousness.

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43 Times When Proust Blew Our Minds With His Understanding of Human Composition (In Search of Lost Time Vol 1)

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Sharing Some of the Sunshine that Marcel Proust Spreads Through Swann’s Way, In Search of Lost Time Volume 1

I heard of the French author Marcel Proust for the first time in the compassionate visionary Alain De Botton’s book the School of Life: An Emotional Education. In the chapter The Importance of Sex, Botton talks about Marcel Proust’s lesbian sex scene from his book Swann’s Way. Proust’s Swann’s Way is the volume one of his influential seven-volume collection In Search of Lost Time.

In the scene, the lover Mademoiselle Vinteuil invokes her partner to spit on the photo of her deceased father. This heavily criticized section describes how Vinteuil is just trying on the freedom of sensual pleasures — which may make her appear wicked. The author Proust argues that despite what one might think, Vinteuil is essentially of a moral and sound character.

Proust writes, “Sadists of Mlle Vinteuil’s kind are beings who are so purely sentimental, so naturally virtuous that, for them, even sensual pleasure seems evil, seems the privilege of the wicked. And when they allow themselves to indulge in it for a moment, it’s the wicked whose skin they try, and try to get their accomplice, to enter into, so as to have had the momentary illusion of escaping their scrupulous and gentle soul in the inhuman world of pleasure.”

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Virginia Woolf’s A Room of One’s Own — A Meditation on Writing and Life

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Virginia Woolf’s A Room of One’s Own Quotes — Wisdom on Writing and Life

 

Virginia Woolf was once asked to speak about women and fiction.

Woolf wandered the streets of London, sat by the riverside, pored over shelves full of books in the British Museum, went to luncheons, and considered the then state of literature. While working in a constricted space in that London where women weren’t even allowed to walk on turf paths in colleges (only men and students could), Virginia created a masterpiece on why there were limited women writers and even more limited writings by them.

Woolf delivered the lectures in October 1928 at the women’s colleges of Cambridge University. Published in September 1929, A Room of One’s Own is an essay based on those lectures.

Woolf went back to the works of Proust, Shakespeare, Emily Bronte, Jane Austen, Aphra Behn, Charlotte Brontë, George Eliot, Kipling, Keats, and many more known and unknown writers to understand the truth. She read fiction written by women and studied her contemporaries’ books. She contemplated why the writing of men scorned women and if women were writing good fiction.

In the essays, Virginia emphasized — while showing her detailed thought process — “that a woman needs money and a room of her own if she is to write fiction.”

In addition to being a seminal work on feminism, A Room of One’s Own is an infinite pool of wisdom on writing and life. In the essay, Virginia Woolf argued passionately and statistically about how cultural, spiritual, and financial restrictions may limit our creative freedom.

Given the essay has so much to read into, I will only delve into the lessons on life and writing that Woolf was so benevolent in sharing with us.

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You Aren’t the Emotional Fool You Think You Are

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This Giant Guide on What is Emotional Intelligence and Understanding Emotions Includes

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A Definite Guide to Purposeful, Healthy, and Mindful Living

Purposeful, Healthy, and Mindful Living.

Purposeful, Healthy, and Mindful Living.

 

 

I had planned to share lessons from the book “Ikigai: The Japanese Secret to a Long and Happy Life” and experiences from practicing a sustainable and conscious lifestyle in this piece. But as I wrote, I also added health concepts I had learned (and practiced) growing up in India, lifestyles I had studied from books, and ways of living I had seen while traveling.

So now this article is a conglomeration of the most logical, useful, and effective ideasthat I’ve foundon living a healthy, simple, and, yet, purpose-driven life.

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Best Non-Fiction Books I Read in 2020

boy getting knowledge from nonfiction books cosmic energy

Out of the 48 or so books I read in 2020, 25 percent — that’s only 12 books — were non-fiction. The rest were fiction books and children’s tales.

I started reading non-fiction in 2017 when I started this blog On My Canvas. I always read stories and novels, but nonfiction wasn’t a big thing around me. Not that reading fiction was a trend in my social circle either. I can count the selected few readers amongst my friends, batchmates, and colleagues at my fingertips.

There was one guy in college who loved Shakespeare and read philosophy. There is a poetry lover and creator who is still a great friend. Some of the elites from Vidya Mandir and other high-class Delhi schools could talk about Mark Twain and J.R.R Tolkien but only seldom did I see them with a book. Or maybe I wasn’t noticing books at that time myself. 

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Best Fiction Books I Read in 2020

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I write because I read. I grow because I read. I can never be bored because I read.

Out of the 48 or so books I read in 2020, 75 percent — that is 36 books — were fiction. The rest were non-fiction books, children’s stories, and travel books.

Even though most of my writing is personal growth and travel-focused, I also write short stories and personal essays.

And for any kind of creative writing — travel, short stories, and even self-development — reading fictional books is crucial. Otherwise, how would I know how to describe a scene on the street or a conversation amongst two people sitting in a cafe? How would I keep the articles interesting and give them a story arc? A beginning, a middle, and an end, you know.

Apart from helping me write, fiction short story books and novellas are interesting and entertaining. They teach a lot about the history of the world. Fiction books also unravel the behavior and inner workings of human beings. (These 21 books changed the way I understand life.)

So while The Outsider taught me how straightforward life can be, Gora and Anna Karenina showed me a lot about the desires and limitations of human beings while telling the history of India and Russia. I wouldn’t have known so much about the Brahmo Samaj and the Russian high class if not for those two books.

I’m thankful.

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21 Books That Will Change Your Life – They Changed Mine

reading books to change your life

Did anyone ever tell you that you should read books to change your life? Actually I would go as far as to say one of the synonyms of personal growth is reading.

I started reading non-fiction and fiction books sincerely only for the last four-five years. But in this duration, I read some books that shifted the course of my life. They exposed me to unbelievable facts. They laid open the science that I didn’t know exist. They told me stories I could never imagine. They made me cry like I hadn’t before. They made me laugh as if I had nothing to worry about. They accompanied me when I was lonely. They unfurled the greatest lives. They told me life can be lived in many ways. They reassured me that it was okay to be who I was. But also that I could grow.

You don’t know what is out there until you read. And then the ghosts don’t leave you alone, ever.

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Life Lessons to Excel in Your 30s

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Rules to Live Your Thirties By.

On my 30th birthday three years ago, I had written 30 life lessons my twenties had taught me. From exercising regularly to fixing a hung laptop before anything else to not running after money but finding my calling and chasing experiences were the core learnings of my 20s.

As I’m about to turn 33 in less than two weeks, I found myself riding the life lesson wave again. “How am I managing life in the 30s” question stared at me.

Contrary to how it might look like, I always say that age is just a number(as many of my friends told me when I asked them to contribute to this article). Ignoring my steeping age that rushed towards my 30th birthday like a break-less ambassador car and blocking my parents who looked at me as if the time for me to do anything good had gone by, I shifted my life gears in my late 20s — changed my career, left my apartment to travel long-term, found the love of my life, took physical health sincerely, and finally chose life skills over money and ignored short-term gratification.

Though my late 20s lifestyle has poured over into my thirties, life feels different now. Personal awareness and growth have been the top priorities on my mind since I graduated into the 30s decade.

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77 Deep Questions About Life [And My Answers]

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Important Life Questions to Ask Yourself

 

I remember a quote that once said, ask the right questions. Over the years I have realized that questions are much more important than answers. Without asking the right queries we can never hope for the right knowledge.

But it took me a while to even understand what questions I should ask of myself. Some of those doubts were always there in the background, hovering, emphasizing that I didn’t understand life. I had a vague feeling that I was dismaying over things that didn’t matter while ignoring the universal realities that would pull me out of my little problem bubbles. But I wasn’t sure. And I never took out time to pin those deep questions about life, and, hence, could never answer them.

The process of questioning deepened when I started writing and reading full-time. As I had redesigned my life from a corporate cycle of drudgery, I was too eager to question everything and to be better at the things I had failed at before. It was like I had found vigor again. The more I read, the more I understood, the more life questions I had, and the more incomprehensible it seems now.

As Franz Kafka once said, “Anyone who cannot come to terms with his life while he is alive needs one hand to ward off a little his despair over his fate… but with his other hand he can note down what he sees among the ruins.”

The effort continues.

I am putting down some thought-provoking questions that have hitherto found me here. I have followed a natural course and have clubbed thematic questions together.

I have answered all the questions to keep an account of my thoughts on the matter. As you will see, I have some answers, but some of the questions to life still dodge me. You can completely ignore my responses and find your own.

Along with the important questions about life and their answers, I am also putting down the books that have helped me understand the matter.

I plan to update these self reflection questions and answers year-on-year or whenever my understanding changes.

Till then, I present to you the questionnaire of life from my lens.

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