Rainy days

by Rishidev Chaudhuri If there were a canonical essay topic for the Hindi classes that I struggled through as a child, “The arrival of the monsoon” would be a leading candidate. So typical a topic that it almost constituted its own form and mode of cultural practice, it was assigned to us several times a…

Fish stews

by Rishidev Chaudhuri Fish stews occupy a wonderful middle ground between delicacy and robustness, suggesting sun and warmth and brine, and yet also being mouth-filling and meaty and deeply flavorful. They’re happy at simple weeknight dinners and at parties, and can be dressed up with more varied sets of ingredients (crabs, mussels and clams, shrimp/prawn).…

Coriander

by Rishidev Chaudhuri At first (and at second, and third) glance, the use of spices in the cuisines of the subcontinent is a subtle and mysterious art, full of musty cupboards staffed by aging apothecaries (and grandmothers) and intertwined with theories of humor-balancing and our particular relationship to the gods. Recipes and spice blends are…

Not thinking

by Rishidev Chaudhuri Perhaps a reasonable proxy for wisdom is the ability to stop thinking when you want, to interrupt the tortured spiraling progression of thoughts that serve no function and lead nowhere, the symbolic productions of a machine gone mad. Like much else, this can (and, I think, should) be approached as a skill…

Accessing the mind through body awareness

by Rishidev Chaudhuri The disciplined practice of being aware of bodily sensations is common to a number of meditative and psychological techniques, ranging from mindfulness meditation to the various species of humanistic psychology (especially those influenced by Wilhem Reich). Here's an example from Perls, Hefferline and Goodman's book “Gestalt Therapy”: Concentrate on your `body' sensation…

Practical ethics

by Rishidev Chaudhuri A recent study on the relationship between positive emotions, social connectedness and a measure of heart health has been getting a lot of attention in the popular media. 1 It's an interesting addition to the emerging scientific literature on the uses and effects of meditative practices and on the mechanism of the…

Color Spaces

by Rishidev Chaudhuri I have a child's affection for color, for broad swathes of bright saturated colors, for unapologetic reds and greens and blues and yellows. And yet this strong visceral and emotional reaction often feels immature and undifferentiated. I never really learned the names of the colors properly. This is partly from an artist…

Marbles

by Rishidev Chaudhuri It's strange how little I think about marbles now, since marbles, the objects themselves and the game we played with them, were a crucial part of my childhood. It's odd to think back on these colorful little metonyms of youth, mostly forgotten except when I stumble across one in some hidden drawer…