Category Archives: Soul Relationships

The Travelling Tea-Seller Couple and the Joy of Shared Dreams

For the past few months the social feeds were cluttered with grand celebrity wedding pictures and hashtags #deepveer #virushka #nickyanka #couplegoals – every picture carefully crafted and staged to perfection. It seems those celebrity wedding hashtags were inspired by how some malayali parents named their kids 🙂 ( the formula was quite simple – select a combination of both the mother’s and father’s names. eg: Joseph and Jisha =Joji)

Beyond the staged perfection, let’s get to some “real #couplegoals”. I recently happened to meet a couple who looked very ordinary but would definitely give us all some real #couplegoals – Vijayan and Mohana who in their late sixties run a wayside tea shop in Kochi. What’s unique about this tea shop “Sri Balaji Coffee House” other than the perfect tea & fresh vadas are the innumerable framed pictures of their travel around the world. The tea costs only Rs 5 and so does the vada. This being their single source of income – one would wonder how the hell do they manage to travel? They have traveled to 23 countries and counting!

Talking to them, here is what I learnt.

1. The joy of having shared meaning and shared dream as a couple. 

Vijayan and Mohana have a shared dream that they both work towards – the dream of travelling and experiencing the world. The ups and downs of life are less bothersome for them for they have found meaning to their life with their travel. A successful marriage has to be more than raising kids, paying bills, and getting chores done. 

According to American psychological researcher Dr. John Gottman’s – “An essential element of a lasting marriage is the ability to create shared meaning, a purpose, or a dream with your partner.”

2. No dream is too bigno dreamer too small.

When asked if she had always dreamt of traveling the world as she was growing up, Mohana responds – “I wasn’t even sure if I could even dream of travelling the world, let alone expecting it to happen for real. But now I would say we should all have dreams and work hard towards realizing it.”

Vijayan shares this instance – “Once on our travel to Tirupati, as I gazed at a plane that was flying over me, I told my friends – I want to travel in a plane to which they said it was only meant for the rich people.” 

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This quote holds so true for Vijayan and Mohana. 

Dreams come a size too big so that we may grow into them – Josie Bisset

3. It’s a bliss when your life partner is your business partner and travel partner – all combined.

The first impression one might get of Mohana is of a docile south Indian grand-ma but once you talk to her, you soon realize that she is an equal partner in running the tea shop, managing family affairs, finances and planning for each travel.

Her sensibility complements his spontaneity.

It comes as no surprise when Mr.Vijayan mentions – “She is the source of my strength. I have always wanted to travel with her. “

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4. Shared experiences connects us more to each other .

Their way side tea shop might look small but the walls of Sri Balaji Coffee House is filled with snapshots of their memories and experiences. They have been filling their life with experiences, not things. They have stories to tell not material wealth to show case.

We as humans are the accumulation of everything we’ve seen, the things we’ve done, and the places we’ve been. According to Dr. Thomas Gilovich, a psychology professor at Cornell University who has been studying the question of money and happiness for over two decades –Shared experiences connect us more to other people than shared consumption.

5. If you are working towards fulfilling your dream – there is no need to retire.

To fund their travels, they have mortgaged their shop and even taken bank loans.  After returning from travel, the couple works hard repaying the loan and saving money to set out for the next destination. When asked about retirement, they said they plan to work as long as they can! They have a shared dream and purpose that they work towards. They surely have a purpose to get up and open up their shop every morning.

This reminded me about Okinawa, a Japanese Island with the longest life expectancy in the world where they don’t  have a formal word in their language for “retirement”! They don’t have the concept of retirement, instead they do have an interesting word (and philosophy) ikigai – which roughly translates to “the reason you wake up in the morning.” It’s the thing that drives you most.

6. When you want something, all the universe conspires in helping you to achieve it.

After the couple’s story made it to media, they attracted a lot of attention, and funds were raised to fund their trip to USA. Intrigued by their life philosophy, Hari Mohan, turned their heart warming story into a documentary called “Invisible Wings” (check for the link below) which won the Best Short Film award in the Non-Fiction category at the 2018 Filmfare Short Film Awards. 

We have to be willing to create a vision for our lives, and work relentlessly towards it. When the universe realizes you are dead serious about your dreams – it starts conspiring for you!

When asked where do you plan to go next? Vijayan responded – “Scandinavian Countries”.  Let the universe keep conspiring in helping you fulfill your dreams Mr Vijayan and Mohana! 

If you wish to help fund their Scandinavian dream, shoot us a message by entering your details below:

SoulCafe: Building & Celebrating Soulful Relationships.

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Being REAL – The “Velveteen Rabbit” Way.

The slogans of  “Being Real”, “Being You” buzz around us more often these days. With a few quotes tweeted, some posts shared and by becoming part of the  forums of our choice – we think we are portraying our REAL selves. Honestly, being REAL (yes, the REAL in caps) ain’t that  easy in a world filled with “mirages of perfection”.

Sometimes when I feel lost on my quest to find answers, I take refuge in the timeless stories from my childhood, and these stories become my guiding stara guiding star that’s always reassuring and lights up to help me find my way. One such story is the children’s classic  “The Velveteen Rabbit” (written by  Margery Williams). Timeless as the book may be, it’s a story that speaks to our deepest anxieties about our quest for becoming REAL.

The story revolves around a stuffed toy – a velveteen rabbit that is gifted to a boy on Christmas. When rabbit is introduced in the boy’s nursery, he realizes that he is a simple toy among the myriad of toys that are more sophisticated than him – having moving parts and operate on switches and batteries. The poor little rabbit was made to feel himself very insignificant, and the only person who was kind to him at all was the Skin Horse – the oldest toy and hence the wisest one at the nursery.

Here is the piece of conversation between the velveteen rabbit and the skin horse that answers the question on “Being Real” in its most simple, yet profound way.

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Velveteen Rabbit : What is REAL?

Skin Horse –Real isn’t how you are made, It’s a thing that happens to  you. When a child loves you for a long, long time, not just to play with, but REALLY loves you, then you become Real.

Love makes us Real. The love for one self and for others is what makes us Real. When we allow ourselves to be deeply affected by someone we are in essence, becoming more “Real” through our openness. The best way to understand the word intimacy is to read it as “Into-Me-See” – When we allow someone to see ourselves, as we overcome the fear that our real selves is unlovable or not good enough – is when love grows. As someone put it – Love is the mutual beholding of one another’s realness.

Velveteen Rabbit – Does it hurt?

Skin Horse: Sometimes but when you are Real you don’t mind being hurt.

Without our armor of pretence, we open ourselves to be disliked by some, ridiculed by others but only when we open up being ourselves  – true connections, creativity and meaningful life happens. Hence once you are “REAL”, you grow beyond the “hurts” from the ignorant few.

Velveteen Rabbit – Does it happen all at once, like being wound up or bit by bit?

Skin Horse – It doesn’t happen all at once. You become. It takes a long time. That’s why it doesn’t happen often to people who break easily, or have sharp edges, or who have to be carefully kept.Generally, by the time you are Real, most of your hair has been loved off, and your eyes drop out and you get loose in the joints and very shabby.

Being REAL is a process. It doesn’t happen all at once. It is a process that can be slow, painful, and hence doesn’t happen to everyone.

Skin Horse –

Once you are Real you can’t be ugly, except to people who don’t understand.

Once you are real you can’t become unreal again. It lasts for always.

True that! Once REAL, you can never be UGLY and you can never go back to being UNREAL again! And I sum it up with Colbie Caillat’s  soulful song – ” Take your make up off, let your hair down, take a breath, look into the mirror at yourself –  don’t you like you? Cause, I like you.” 

The changing timetable for adulthood.

Why aren’t the millennials (defined as the group those who are born in 1982 and approximately the 20 years thereafter) settling down? The word “settling down” unsettles this lot. This topic gets quite uncomfortable around the dinner table with parents and quite weird with relatives at a  family function. Most of the time the settling down question is a polite way of asking – “When are you getting married ?”

The earlier generation is not to be blamed because sociologists traditionally defined the “transition to adulthood” as marked by five milestones: 1) Completing school 2) Leaving home 3) Becoming financially independent 4) Marrying and  5) Having a child. Well in the Indian context and especially for women milestone 2 might be listed after 4 :).

But what they fail to realize is how the definition of adulthood today has remarkably changed. The 2014 Clark University Established Adult Poll found that the top three markers for adulthood were – 1)Accepting responsibility for self, 2) Financial independence and 3) Making independent decisions.

That’s exactly what the millennials are trying to achieve. We’re in an era of what one sociologist calls “the changing timetable for adulthood.” Jeffery Jensen Arnet a psychology professor at Clark University in Worcester, Mass., is leading the movement to view the 20s as a distinct life stage, which he calls “Emerging Adulthood”. Emerging adulthood is identified as a stage of – identity exploration, instability, self-focus, feeling in-between and a rather poetic characteristic he calls “a sense of possibilities”. Emerging adults are on an intense search for personal authenticity, awareness, and personal definition. Robbins and Wilner in their book Quarter Life Crisis state that twenties are ripe with self-doubt and intense with introspection.

The whole idea that the path towards adulthood meant crossing one milestone after another in a linear mode – is getting outdated.

The whole idea that the path towards adulthood meant crossing one milestone after another in a linear mode – is getting outdated. The path to adulthood is taken now at an uneven, highly individual pace. Some never achieve all five milestones –  adults could stay single or couples could stay childless by choice.

The “emerging adults” who are in an identity exploration phase, the idea of “settling down” is naturally quite unsettling. But the question is – why do we consider committing to a long-term relationship as “settling down”? Why does it feel like there is a lot to be ticked off from the bucket list before that “settling down” happens?

Wouldn’t it make better sense if the idea of committing to a relationship rather “stir” up our lives with possibilities – bigger dreams and a bigger appetite for taking risks, because now you got a partner in crime.

  • Have a start-up idea – now you have a partner to support.
  • Caught up with wanderlust- now you get a partner to travel with.
  • Always dreamt of publishing your book – now there is someone who pushes you to get it done or even better you co-author with them. Like this couple.

Sharing that wanderlust with your spouse and even your children or allowing your dreams to grow even larger to include your spouse and family – makes your aspirations even more worthwhile. According to a US research, nearly 70 percent of the founders of high-growth successful businesses were married when they became entrepreneurs (Jeff Bezos quit his high paying job and started Amazon.com with his wife MacKenzi, immediately after their marriage). Talking about the initial days of Infosys, Sudha Murthy mentioned – “I wrote programs for Infosys. There was no car, no phone, and just two kids and a bunch of us working hard, juggling our lives and having fun while Infosys was taking shape.”  

Think about it – the companionship in marriage should rather unsettle us with new perspectives, new journeys and new experiences. It should not be a full stop to our aspirations but an exclamation mark in our life stories. This would only happen when we free ourselves from the burden of societal expectations on what a picture perfect settled life should look like – considering the fact that the “emerging adulthood” is a new concept and traditional milestones of adulthood are still relevant in the minds of many around us.

Let the path of adulthood be uneven and individually paced – to  each, their own. Let it not be a rush towards ticking off societal check boxes and let committed relationship be an exclamation mark in your life story because as the quote goes:

“Life should not be a journey to the grave with the intention of arriving safely in a pretty and well preserved body, but rather to skid in broadside in a cloud of smoke, thoroughly used up, totally worn out, and loudly proclaiming “Wow! What a Ride!”

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SoulCafe: Building & Celebrating Soulful Relationships.

The Soul Travellers : Ellie & Ravi

There are a lot of us who love to travel but very few who dare to put it at the center of their very being.  Here is a couple who travel not just to explore but with the intention to give back to the places they travel. Their inner calling to travel for self discovery led them to each other. Their cultural differences has enriched their lives as they keep enriching the world around them. Let’s talk to the Soul Traveling couple – Ellie and Ravi!

Soul Cafe: Tell us how Ellie from London met Ravi from Mumbai : “The Ellie met Ravi story.”

Ellie: I have been traveling for several years now to different places; I always flew over India but never happened to really come visiting the country – until 2015.

Every time I flew to some country in south east Asia I ended waking up while flying above India! As mystical and funny it might sound I knew that India was a calling and the day finally came when I started travelling to India.

My first stop was Varanasi, and then India never left me; I kept coming back and wanting to see more. One trip I was in Mumbai for a blogging event where I was introduced to Ravi as at that time he was food blogging as a hobby. Even though I had to fly home to London the next day, we kept in touch and we had that soul connection right from the start we felt. Friendship is something we shared fondly which later grew into a special relationship and a couple of years later, here we are working together as well as being together. We now stay in Toronto, Canada, but dream of coming back to India most days!

Soul Cafe: How has it been being a multi-cultural couple? 

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Ellie & Ravi: In many ways, being in a multi-cultural couple is no different than “normal” (whatever that means!) There are things one has to sacrifice and adjust to, but that is the case in any partnership.

We find that we have a lot to learn from each others’ cultures and we’re lucky enough to be able to incorporate the best of both – so being a multi-cultural couple has been a blessing for us!

There are so many beautiful things to emulate in both the cultures for example a common feeling of respecting your elders, having closely knit families, sharing and kindness. In the beginning especially though, there are lots of things to talk about and iron out. Where we do have misunderstandings and different expectations, we find it is usually over food!! 😉

Soul Cafe: Your travel blog “Soul Travel” is dedicated to “responsible, sustainable and mindful travel”. From love of travel to mindful travelling – was it a natural progression for the two of you?

Ellie & Ravi: The blog Soul Travel was always built on the philosophy of mindful travelling, but of course it was travel prior to the blog that brought us to this point. One of the reasons we promote travel is because we believe in its ability to make us conscious and open our eyes: to our environment and people around us. 

When we travel outside of our comfort zone and usual sphere of reference, we can journey deeper within ourselves too.

Over the last year we have also become actively involved in supporting start-ups in the eco-tourism industry with digital marketing so that sustainable and mindful travel businesses can be truly successful, and profitable! Tourism is responsible for 10% of global GDP so we feel we have a responsibility to help make the impact of travel more positive. So mindful travelling is something which we both practice as much as possible as well as encouraging others to do so. 

Soul Cafe: What has been the most rewarding aspect for both of you in your “Soul Travel” journey?

Gateway of IndiaWe continue to be humbled and inspired by the people that we meet on our journey, particularly those who run their own sustainable and ethical tourism projects and are focused on making an impact in a big or small way. Working and travelling together has been hugely rewarding too, we have learned so much about each other through the process and we wouldn’t change that for anything.

Soul Cafe: How has your relationship with each other and with the world evolved with your soulful travels?

Ellie & Ravi: It has helped us to be more communicative and empathetic towards each others needs, differences and leverage on the strengths we bring to “Soul Travel”. Its the solid support system that you build together that also helps in situations where we have to be pragmatic.

Soul Cafe: How is travelling to blog about it, a completely different experience than just travelling for leisure?

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Travelling for blog is hard work, we always hear people say to us that we have a “dream job” but more often than not we’ll be behind our laptops rather than lounging on a beach! 

We certainly realize that we are very lucky to be able to travel and see the world in the first place, but there is a lot more work to blogging / working remotely than there looks to be! For each destination we visit we are constantly thinking about the content we will create, what photos and videos we will need, as well as creating social media content in real time – it adds up to quite a lot! We also realized that living as digital nomads” or always on the road is not something for us – we prefer the comfort of having somewhere to call home at the end of a trip.

Soul Cafe: Do you mostly travel together or is it a combination of solo trips and traveling as a couple? How would you compare the experience of solo trip vs traveling together?

Ellie Train India

Ravi : Soul Travel Blog was founded by Ellie before we met, and she traveled solo to start with. Traveling as a solo female traveler has its own benefits and challenges, you are on your own schedule, but it comes with plenty of its own challenges too, depending on which part of the world you are in. One of the biggest challenges for solo female travelers in south Asia for instance (including India) is how they are viewed by men.

We strongly believe that solo female travel should be encouraged and supported in all parts of the world, by men as well as women.

Solo travel has been an important part of her experience and personal journey, as well as helping me to understand some of the challenges for female travelers too. Nowadays we travel together most of the time which we love, and also feel it has been responsible for helping us grow closer and help understand some of our cultural differences too: it’s also been key for helping us grow together in our view of life, love for each other and grow as our own personalities too. Of course there are moments when we don’t like each other 😉 but fortunately our travel styles are quite similar- and that helps a lot. 

We have found that traveling together has made us more selfless and kind to each other

(You can read more on  Ellie and Ravi’s travel  on their  Blog )

Soul Cafe: What would you say about these advises that we see on social media – leave your job, pack your bags and travel/ being a digital nomad?

Ellie & Ravi: Well… there’s a bit more to it than that! Having said that we believe that whatever you do with faith and commitment can be done. Being a digital nomad has become very hyped up and trendy at the moment, and more worryingly there are a lot of “digital nomads” who make most of their money from selling courses to people who want to be digital nomads rather than from doing anything else. Being nomadic is not for everyone – some people like to have a home base, and that’s ok! Working from different places around the world is possible in many different ways, and “digital nomadism” is just one of them. Setting up your own business – be it a travel blog or a fully fledged startup – takes time, and even years before you start to see financial stability from it, so if you’re planning a big change, make sure you have the savings to support yourself for a reasonable amount of time.  

Being nomadic is not for everyone – some people like to have a home base, and that’s okay!

(Here is Ellie’s Blog article on Digital Nomadic Life)

Soul Cafe: There are instances when we are confronted by something that doesn’t just feel right as we travel. This could be a cultural thing or an outcome of the rise of commercial tourism? As a mindful traveler, how does one handle it? 

Ellie & Ravi : Yes, there are unfortunately many examples of where tourism has sadly not had a good impact. The obvious ones are wildlife-related, but tourism can also have a negative impact on people too.

In Venice, Italy for example the locals have all but left the city because there are simply too many tourists who have forced property prices up and no-one can afford to live there anymore.

With regards to wildlife tourism, it is sad that many animals have suffered because of tourism – from dolphins and whales that get constantly chased by boats on dolphin or whale spotting trips, to elephants that are kept in poor conditions / chained up and used for entertainment, to zoos and aquariums that do not have animal welfare in mind.These issues are complex, and there is rarely a black and white answer.

For us, the most important principle is respect – whether it’s for people or animals – or the environment.

When you visit somewhere think about the people that live there, ask permission before clicking photos, and show them consideration. When it comes to animals our view is that wildlife is best viewed from a distance, in the wild – we try to avoid any activities that “interfere” with wild animals such as petting, riding, or even selfies. Some so-called “sanctuaries” are not what they seem, so we generally stay away from those, too.

Soul Cafe: You talk about making positive changes as one travels – tell us how can one change the world as one travels?

Ellie & Ravi: It all starts with one-step at a time. Perhaps the most important thing is re-focusing travel to be as much about the places we visit as it is about ourselves.

Secondly, make sure not to leave any waste behind that might spoil the beautiful scenery. Avoid plastic wherever possible; carry a re-usable water bottle with you, avoid using straws, take-away cups and meal-containers, and choose to dine-in instead to avoid the use of single-use plastic that often cannot be disposed of properly and ends up in our rivers and oceans.

One does not need to stop enjoying their vacations or having fun, but just be caring about one’s own actions while they are traveling. One can always be aware of how they plan to travel locally and select mostly to travel in local transportation (which has less environmental impact), getting involved with community based projects (that support local people and provide the opportunity to connect and learn through travel), and

Visit places that are a little out of the way versus sticking to “top 10” lists.

If you are travelling with travel agents or companies, look into their policies for the destinations offered – like are the activities which involve abuse of animals for entertainment purpose for eg recently Thomas Cook axed their trips to Sea World at Florida citing animal welfare concerns and this positive step was taken from massive customer feedback. One has to realize that we alone can make the difference to the way you travel and leading by example, after all as we always say we have only one earth to share. 

Soul Cafe: What is your life goal as a couple? 

Ellie & Ravi Jordan

Ellie & Ravi: To live harmoniously together with love, respect and trust. To genuinely help would-be “Soul Travellers” around the world to travel and create a positive impact while facilitating personal growth, and to support the sustainable tourism industry in growing and becoming more and more the “norm” in travel. One day, we’d love to run a sustainable tourism lodge / accommodation of our own that is self-sufficient – so let’s see what the universe brings! 

To genuinely help would-be “Soul Travelers” around the world to travel and create a positive impact while facilitating personal growth.

Thank you for being such a soulful and inspiring couple. May the tribe of “Soulful Travellers” increase!

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Soul Cafe : Building & Celebrating Soulful Relationships

Conscious Living and Loving : Mansoor and Tina Khan

The story of  Mansoor and Tina Khan is essentially the story of a couple who deeply value their life journey rather than worrying or hurrying towards a prescribed destination. A life journey of soul searching, following their passion, practicing gratitude and savoring it all along.

Mansoor Khan directed some iconic Hindi movies like  Qayamat Se Qayamat Tak , Jo Jeeta Wahi Sikandar etc before he left Bollywood following his inner calling to  live off the land.  He has always chosen to do things that he feels passionately about. He published his highly intriguing book  “The Third Curve” in 2013 that challenges the notion of exponential growth – a topic he feels very strongly about.

“I have only chosen to do things that I can be deeply passionate about. Like at my book, I have worked on it for years, not to make money  but because I feel so strongly about the subject matter. Now I am onto my next book.”

– Mansoor Khan

Tina, the “Coonoor Cheese queen” passionately makes and sells  artisanal soft and hard cheeses, right on their Acres Wild farm. Gouda, Parmesan, Cheddar – you name it , she makes it. 

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It all does sound like a dream. Well, how easy is it to live a life of conviction? Living a life in a way where – what you think, what you say and what you do are all in perfect harmony. I got a chance to meet up with this lovely couple and to be inspired forever! I hope this conversation with them inspires you too!

Soul Cafe: From IIT to MIT to directing some iconic movies and then moving away from the crowd to live off  the land – I see a person who has been on a quest for his real purpose in life from a very early age. Was finding Tina part of finding a soul partner in this personal quest?

Mansoor:  I was pretty clear that I wanted to live off the land very early on – even before meeting Tina. She knew this and was fine with it. In fact  I also had plans  to live on a boat and go cruising forever and Tina was fine with that as well 🙂 Yes – she was definitely a partner, who was happy to be part of this wild ride. If I had not found someone like her, I would have rather stayed single :).

Soul Cafe: Tina – you saw this streak in him  – the desire to live an alternate life.  Did that worry you or was it that appealed to you about him?

Tina : I myself am not a highly ambitious person, I like to go with the flow.  I knew that – he didn’t t want to live in the city and he had his own personal quest. To be honest It never worried me.  In  fact it appealed to me that he was so different from the rest. And of course I loved him!

Soul Cafe: “Papa kehte hein bada naam karega – magar yeh tho koi na jaane yeh meri manzil hein kahan”. Was that about you-  someone who wanted to redefine success in his own terms and not by the terms of the society?

Mansoor: Well that song was for Amir Khan’s  character in the movie QSQT who wasn’t sure what he wants to do with his life.  But probably when you rethink about it – the lyrics do reflect a bit of me that didn’t subscribe to the society’s definition of success or achievement.  But that was purely unintentional 🙂

 

Soul Cafe: Isn’t it important that you both shared a common definition of what success means to you and share a similar value system?

Tina: I have never pre calculated my life and had these fixed ideas of success for myself. But yes we have a shared view about our life  and so far this soul searching  journey has been fulfilling.

Mansoor: I couldn’t have done this if Tina wasn’t happy to live in a farm. She found her passion in cheese making. So yes its important that we  both are in sync in terms of  what we value deeply in life.

Soul Cafe: Conscious parenting makes you rethink and reconsider everything that there is usually followed as part of the regular system. Did your kids ever felt they were missing out on all the fun down in Mumbai?

Mansoor & Tina: The kids did initially miss their larger network of friends in Mumbai when they moved to the farm. But they slowly built some deep friendship here as well – fewer though. They were always delighted to travel to Mumbai but they were also equally delighted to be back in Coonoor. Being here, allowed us to be consciously present in their growing up stage. Probably now when they are away from us gearing up towards adulting, they might value it more.

 

“We wanted to be consciously present when they were building their wings , closely associated with their growth and now when they are ready to fly they have their own freedom. We do not interfere much :). “

Soul Cafe: What do you think is the greatest conflict in terms of building relationships for today’s younger generation?

Mansoor & Tina: We surely can’t generalize it. A lot depends on the family values that the kids are brought up in. We have met youngsters who are more introspective than we were at their age. But overall there is this trend of “I”, “Me” having a more ego- centric approach to life. And that makes building relationships difficult. Relationships are about sharing – its about “us”. The expectations from relationships are also higher as compared to the earlier generations.

Final Cover 18 April 2013Soul Cafe: In your book you extensively talk about our obsession with perpetual growth while the reality is bounded and finite.  Do you think it happens in relationships as well – the expectation of exponential growth and the disappointment when it turns otherwise? Is there a third curve in relationships as well?

Mansoor: The overall social dynamics is about exponential growth – being better, bigger, faster as time proceeds. The modern world is obsessed with growth – we worship growth. And our definition of growth is curtailed to a kind of quantified growth. Now this philosophy of the society trickles down to personal relationships as well. In reality relationships also has its highs and lows – the expectation of a exponential growth curve is a myth.

 

Soul Cafe: Do you think authentic relationship based on compatibility and mutual respect should be the foundation for a marriage, and has Indian society made progress in this regard in last 20 years?

Mansoor & Tina: It surely is important. At the superficial level we see the outlooks are getting more broadened but if you dig a little deeper, we see that the the pressure on the younger generation to achieve in every respect is higher than ever. And this attitude reflects even in relationships to some extent and relationships also then becomes portrayal of ones success. For authentic relationships to happen based purely on compatibility and mutual respect – people need to be less extrinsically driven and need to be more conscious with the choices they make 

Soul Cafe: What would be your advice to youngsters who think, relationship commitments put limit to their dreams?

Mansoor & Tina : Finding a balance is key – being together and yet giving each other enough space. When you fulfill your dreams, the joy is doubled if you can share it with someone you love.  In a very ego-centric, achievement oriented world, relationships need investment of  our time and our thoughts. One  needs to find the balance .

Mansoor :  When I get obsessed, Tina is my balance 🙂 

Thanks a lot Mansoor and Tina for this Soulful conversation!

“Let there be spaces in your togetherness, And let the winds of the heavens dance between you. Love one another but make not a bond of love: Let it rather be a moving sea between the shores of your souls.

– Kahlil Gibran

 

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Soul Cafe: Building Soulful Relationships.

 

 

 

 

 

Grief and Love : Two sides of the same coin

Have you felt a sense of sadness as you turn the last page of a compelling book? Long after you have finished reading the last page, you find yourself  staring at a blank wall for a while or flipping the pages to re-read some of the passages. For a moment you might just even hold the book closer to your chest and gasp!  This could also happen while watching an engaging movie.  As it comes to an end, you are not ready to leave the characters. You stay back marinating over your emotions as the post scripts start rolling. Most recently this happened to me with “Koode”. I wasn’t quite ready to leave  Joshua, Alozhy, Sophy, Jenny, Brownie and the rest.

There is a momentary grief over losing the fictional characters . But then don’t we do it all over again – get engrossed in another wonderful book that will eventually make us feel sad as the characters leave us. These characters probably touch us in some way and that’s why it gets hard to part. If you have been touched by someone, parting becomes painful. If there is love, there is grief. But to avoid grief , should we avoid love?

We could opt to stay away from this pain. What if nothing touches us or we stay away from being genuinely close to anyone? What if we guard ourselves against grief, pain and failure? We can numb ourselves with busy schedules, shopping, non stop scrolling on our phones and so on.  Life will still go on and when asked “How are you?” we could still auto respond “good” or “fine”. We can be proud of being emotionally strong, un-wavered and  toughened up – protecting ourselves from being hurt. The courage to feel pain is something that most of us are never taught. Instead, we learn to distract ourselves from it, to insulate, and hide. Like Ingmar Bergman says – we are emotional illiterates.

We’re emotional illiterates. And not only you and I-practically everybody, that’s the depressing thing. We’re taught everything about the body and about agriculture in Madagascar and about the square root of pi, or whatever the hell it’s called, but not a word about the soul.

– Ingmar Bergman

Grief, sorrow, anger are all difficult emotions. Is there any value going through it, doesn’t it make logical sense to avoid it? Well feeling these difficult emotions —  gives us depth as human beings. Else we are living a life of shallowness. These emotions represents our humanness.

“I want to celebrate the sadness that makes you feel everything so deeply.
I want to throw a party for the wounds that make you so unabashedly human.”

  -Danielle Antoinette Foy

If we totally insulate our lives from grief, loss, pain and failure , we are also in effect insulating it from passion, love, creativity and exploration. Grief and love come through the same door – if we shut it for one, we are shutting it for both. Now take a moment and think about how we constantly make choices in our lives.

Blessed are those who grieve the loss of someone, for they have experienced love in their life, blessed are those who have experienced failure, for they have pushed themselves beyond their own limits.

As Amy  our cafe mate at SoulCafe puts it in one of the forum conversations  – if you opt to approach a relationship with love there is an equal chance to be hurt as well but then what is the alternative?  Never giving yourself a chance to experiencing love?

amy-best pick.jpg 

Thankfully in Koode, Joshua and Sophy gave themselves the chance to experience love – took the risk of getting broken again. Gosh! Koode hasn’t left me I suppose 🙂

Shameless Plug: SoulCafe : A soulful platform for the soulful ones to connect over conversations.

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The Warmth in your Heart!

A letter to your Own Heart! From one loving Heart to another!

Just pause, maybe even for a second and feel the warmth in your Heart.

A warmth that belongs to All Life!

Some call it Gratitude, some Compassion and some Heart

That’s the most beautiful thing about Wisdom, Beauty, Truth and Love

 It doesn’t belong to any one of us.

It’s always from and for the bounty of Life

At the Feet of this Mystery of Life, as it reveals itself deeper and deeper,

I find Love at its very core,

I find myself utterly human, my very real insecurities, my constant battles,

The ever present tension of the world and helplessly so.

There is a strength in that,

In holding it all together and surrendering without fighting or succumbing.

An exquisite tenderness and freshness, moist eyes and hands grounded, as hard as iron.

The sooner we acknowledge that we’re failures at this thing called life,

The easier Grace can take over,

And take over it will. 

When things seem rough, and the absurdities of life seem to take control.

When all else fails..go to your heart.

In genuine surrender, just pause,

Maybe even for a second and feel the warmth of your heart.

That’ll do.