World Coconut Day

Known as the Tree of Life due to its incredible value to man and the large number of products and byproducts that can be created by it, the coconut is the edible fruit of the coconut palm, a tree of the palm family. Coconuts probably originated somewhere in Indo-Malaya and are one of the most important crops of the tropics. The coconut flesh is high in fat and can be dried or eaten fresh or processed into coconut milk or coconut oil. The liquid of the nut, known as coconut water, is used in beverages. A single coconut palm may yield 100 coconuts annually, and each fruit requires a year to fully ripen. Mature coconuts have a thick fibrous husk surrounding the familiar single-seeded nut and a hard shell encloses the insignificant embryo with its abundant endosperm, composed of both meat and liquid. Coconut fruits float readily and have been dispersed widely by ocean currents and by humans throughout the tropics. A coconut palm itself can live as long as 100 hundred years, but her productive period is around 25 years. As the coconut develops the coconut palm naturally filters water through its many fibres, purifying it as it travels to be stored inside the sterile coconut.

Besides the edible kernels and the drink obtained from green nuts, the harvested coconut also yields copra, the dried extracted kernel, or meat, from which coconut oil, a major vegetable oil, is expressed. The meat may also be grated and mixed with water to make coconut milk, which is used in cooking and as a substitute for cow’s milk. The oil which is generated from the coconut is edible, can also be applied on the skin and contains various antifungal, antiviral, antioxidants and antibacterial elements. The dry husk yields coir, a fibre highly resistant to salt water and used in the manufacture of ropes, mats, baskets, brushes, and brooms.

In Indian culture, specifically Hinduism, the coconut is referred to as a divine or God’s fruit and is one of the most important parts of rituals and customs because it represents the Hindu trinity of Brahma, Vishnu and Shiva, the creator, protector and destroyer. The three dots in the coconut symbolises the three eyes of Lord Shiva with another belief system suggesting that the kernel symbolises Devi Parvati, the water signifies Ganga, and the brown shell represents Lord Kartikeya. The coconut is also compared to a human head. The fibre is the hair, the shell is the skull, the water is blood, and the flesh represents the brain. Therefore, by offering a coconut, a devotee surrenders themselves or their mind and bows before the Supreme Power. It is also said that the coconut shell represents ego, the soft pulpy part is the human heart, and the water symbolises purity. Therefore, a devotee can experience God’s grace only when he breaks their ego and surrenders before the Almighty with a pure heart. Thus, it reminds us that ego stops us from embracing the goodness all around us. Therefore, it inspires us to get rid of ignorance and embrace knowledge or God.

To showcase this incredible fruit, World Coconut Day is celebrated every year today to highlight and raise awareness about the importance and benefits of coconut. The day began in 2009 when the Asian and Pacific Coconut Community or the APCC, in collaboration with UN-ESCAP or the United Nations Economic and Social Commission for Asia-Pacific was founded. The APCC is an intergovernmental organisation that supervises and facilitates Asia-Pacific states that produce coconuts. Headquartered in Jakarta, Indonesia, all major coconut-growing countries are members of APCC. World Coconut Day is organised to highlight APCC’s policies and promote this tropical fruit. So today, drink coconut water, make something out of coconut, maybe a coconut barfi or just eat the flesh of the coconut to celebrate this incredible fruit.

In My Hands Today…

Bird by Bird: Some Instructions on Writing and Life – Anne Lamott

“Thirty years ago my older brother, who was ten years old at the time, was trying to get a report on birds written that he’d had three months to write. [It] was due the next day. We were out at our family cabin in Bolinas, and he was at the kitchen table close to tears, surrounded by binder paper and pencils and unopened books on birds, immobilized by the hugeness of the task ahead. Then my father sat down beside him, put his arm around my brother’s shoulder, and said. ‘Bird by bird, buddy. Just take it bird by bird.'”

With this basic instruction always in mind, Anne Lamott returns to offer us a new gift: a step-by-step guide on how to write and on how to manage the writer’s life. From “Getting Started,’ with “Short Assignments,” through “Shitty First Drafts,” “Character,” “Plot,” “Dialogue.” all the way from “False Starts” to “How Do You Know When You’re Done?” Lamott encourages, instructs, and inspires. She discusses “Writers Block,” “Writing Groups,” and “Publication.” Bracingly honest, she is also one of the funniest people alive.

If you have ever wondered what it takes to be a writer, what it means to be a writer, what the contents of your school lunches said about what your parents were really like, this book is for you. From faith, love, and grace to pain, jealousy, and fear, Lamott insists that you keep your eyes open, and then shows you how to survive. And always, from the life of the artist she turns to the art of life.

What Does Success Look Like?

Success, the very word conjures up images of someone who is wealthy or famous or maybe someone who does very well in school or work. Or maybe it is someone who has a wonderful relationship with their spouse, parents or children. Or it could be someone in a combination of the above.

We live in a consumer-driven society and the culture we live in places a big emphasis on making money and defines success by how much we own. Advertising messages communicate that having certain luxury brands is the definition of success. So what makes one successful in this society? Is it hitting a specific income bracket or living in a specific zip code or driving a particular car model? But the question then arises is if success is only an outward manifestation or is it something deeper, something that is intrinsic to what is most important to us?

Every individual has their definition of success and what is important to them. While we need to do some things for the sake of earning an income, it is important to balance responsibilities with activities we enjoy doing. That means having enough free time to spend with people we love as well as time for practising self-care. For this to happen, we need to check if we can balance our lives to do what we enjoy doing and if not, what steps we can take to achieve a more balanced lifestyle.

One thing to be able to achieve that balance is to be secure and stable financially because while one need not be excessively wealthy to be happy, having a healthy bank balance will allow us to design our life in ways we want and a healthy bank balance will give financial stability that can mean success. What this means is that you need to figure out exactly how much you need to live a comfortable lifestyle and use that number to hit your financial goals.

Success is not all about what you do or don’t have. Someone who wants to live a life caring for others without being financially successful and achieves that is successful in their definition of success. Success is also not about big achievements, getting that ultimate promotion which will change all the time. Instead, think of success as small goals which are the ladders to the main big goal. These goals can be small, short-term wins which also give you the impetus to get to the larger goals.

Our definitions of success will change over time because our priorities change and what seemed important back then may become trivial now. Our values and needs evolve and with this, the definition of success will be revised and adjusted.

What is my version of success? It’s pretty simple actually. To me, I will consider myself successful if I am financially stable so that S and I can retire in peace, give my children a good upbringing and education and inculcate in them the values and character that make them excellent human beings and good citizens.

At the end of the day, success is being able to look at yourself in the mirror and feel good about the choices you’ve made. No person is without their mistakes, but you learn and grow through the process. Your version of success doesn’t have to look like anyone else’s, but it must be a definition you feel good about and that is meaningful to you. Ultimately, the way that you define success will lead you toward living a more contented life that is aligned with your values.

What is your definition of success?

World Photography Day

Borobudur, Yogyakarta, Indonesia

They say a photograph is worth a thousand words and a well-crafted photo is stunning and immediately brings the eye to what is being conveyed. The purpose of photography is to communicate and document moments in time. Photographs capture memories and lead one to be present as one explores the world. Photography lets us see something we may never have noticed otherwise and is a way to express our ideas for others to see. Photos showcase stories and document history as it unfolds. Today there is a camera in almost everyone’s hands and we can document the minutiae of our lives as it happens.

Gateway of India and Taj Mahal Hotel, Mumbai, India

Today is World Photography Day or World Photo Day, an international celebration focused on photography and its history. On August 19, 1839, the French government purchased the patent of the daguerreotype process, the first photography process, and released it to the world for free. In honour of this, World Photography Day is celebrated on August 19.

An Indian Temple, Langkawi, Malaysia

The daguerreotype photographic process, the first photographic process was developed in 1837 by the French inventors and photographers Louis Daguerre and Nicéphore Niépce. Announced on January 9, 1839, by the French Academy of Sciences, the patent of the daguerreotype was purchased by the French government who granted the invention free to the world on August 19 of the same year. The idea of World Photography Day was first suggested by Indian photographer O. P. Sharma in 1988 who set up propagating the idea of celebrating the day within the photography community in India and abroad. The first observance of the day was in 1991, by the Indian International Photographic Council, founded by Sharma himself. Subsequently, Sharma was able to persuade the Photographic Society of America and the Royal Photographic Society of Great Britain to join in and the day has been celebrated globally since 1991.

One of the temples in Siam Reap, Cambodia

World Photography Day is celebrated as a day to commemorate the importance of cameras and photography in our lives. This day is celebrated by people who love photography, from amateur to professional photographers. World Photography Day aims to inspire photographers around the world to share their photos with the simple goal of sharing their world with the world. World Photo Day hosted its first global online gallery on August 19, 2010.

Singapore as the flight prepares to land

To commemorate the day, go ahead and showcase some of your best photos. In honour of this day, I too am sharing some of my favourite photos in this post.

Poem: Mountains

Many of us are drawn to the mountains. One reason could be that they have stood for aeons, and are probably as old as Earth itself. And it’s human nature to be drawn to that which is bigger and grander than us. So here’s a small poem which expresses what I think about mountains.

Poem: Mountains

They stand tall, straight and majestic
Like sentries, brooding and mystic, in a scenic land
The sight of which makes one homesick
Because the heart beats in a rhythm that is quick

The mountains seem alone as they stand
And pierce the sky and the clouds with a tip of ice
They dominate the landscape, farm, and land
In a scene that brings to life an alpine paradise

The mountains have stood like this for millennia and see
Wars, famines, droughts, and floods, they have endured it all
As silent spectators, they are witness to all sufferings and prosperity
They see all the comings and goings, and all of the human footfall

The mountains have stood here and will continue to stand
A watchman for the ages, silent, but alert
A huge and indelible part of our land
The mountains are part of every landscape, be it the plains or the desert.