Initially I didn’t want to read a book that EVERYONE was reading, but thanks to my dear friend Abby who gave it to me for my 28th birthday, I not only got to read it but also enjoy it a great deal. As an explorer and a spiritual seeker, I was drawn to the travels and trials the author embarks on in the book. I’ve done quite a bit of traveling in my early twenties and in the process depleted my savings. I was rich with experiences, but not monetarily. Sure money is not everything, but in these hard pressing economic times, it is all the more important to save for even rainier days. Thus, I’ve decided to put together a list of things those on a budget (specifically those recovering from a breakup) can do to heal, Eat Pray Love style. You can find the article here on TheFrisky.com.

Just over a month ago, I got my very first essay published online on Yourtango.com. Today, I got to see my name in print for the first time in NY Resident magazine. I had envisioned it so many times in the past six months that it almost seems old news by now, but when I look back a year ago, I was ready to give up on writing because I felt I had nothing valuable to offer. Had I really let myself believe it, I wouldn’t be experiencing the high I am feeling now. As much as I’d like to pat myself on the back for not giving up on my dream, I wouldn’t have been able to do all this without the encouragement of my family, support of my friends and most of all the guidance of my amazing writing mentor, Susan Shapiro. And of course, my dog Indu who’s believed in me even before I did. :)

Lavanya

Concord’s unprecedented recent ban on the sale of bottled water, spearheaded by an 82-year-old named Jean Hill was recently overturned by the Massachusetts Attorney General Martha Coakley. This is indeed a sad reality in a nation facing one of the worst environmental disasters in history. Oil floating in our oceans is hard to digest, but used plastic bottles discarded into our great blue seas at an alarming rate are not even an afterthought for those reaching for that Poland Spring or Aquafina.

Growing up in India, a developing country where water is scarce and sacred, I learned to appreciate the ease I could get a clean glass of water in New York, a city I’ve lived for over ten years. At our Long Island home we use filtered water and my steel reusable bottle accompanies me everywhere else. Whether on a hike, bike ride or at my work desk, it keeps my water fresh and tasting good. In my 30 years of drinking mostly tap water, I have yet to get sick from it.

If I can happily do it and stay healthy, so can the general populous. The outrage by some of the residents of Concord is unfathomable. Some are complaining that the government is taking away their basic rights. Some even went as far as to saying that tourists will go thirsty if bottled water is not sold in their local stores. What they fail to realize is that rivers in small towns like theirs that the multi billion dollar bottled water industry is tapping into to sell for a high price while their tax money is going into city water treatment facilities that provide clean water for free.

Filtering and boiling water are perfectly safe alternatives for those who worry about unsafe tap water. Considering that some of the bottled water is simply filtered tap water neatly packaged in plastic containing varying degrees of BPA, linked to causing a myriad of diseases from liver cancers to infertility, water in your kitchen seems safer. Packaged water doesn’t equal holy water.

Those who can’t give up their Fiji or Evian bottles proudly claim they do their part by recycling. 90% of the billions of bottles thrown into the waste stream either end up in our oceans or in countries like the one I grew up in. Every piece of plastic that was ever made still exists and will continue to long after we are gone. Recycling is noble and the pre-used material might end up in our jackets or cars, but it might also end up on our dinner table in the form of fish that have consumed the chemicals in plastic scattered in our oceans.

Laws are good, but its only common sense to steer away from plastic and onto safer options such as refillable steel bottles. Not only is it good for our planet and body, it is good for our wallet too. I spent 15 dollars on my Kanteen Klean steel bottle two years ago and it saved me hundreds I would have spent on Evian or Dasani. I have never had a problem asking a pizza place or a coffee shop to fill it up with chilled tap water. Folks are more than willing to oblige and what’s better is they never charge me for it.

The bottled water market barely existed thirty years ago and now is the largest in the world. According to Fast Company magazine, we spend more on Fiji, Aquafina and the like than iPods or movie tickets. It is time for us to change our habits so stores will opt to selling reusable water bottles rather than single use plastic ones. Just like we gave up Walkmans for iPods, we can change with the times and carry a reusable bottle. If an 82 year old can advocate reusable bottles, we can do it too. We can even give steel water bottles as gifts to our friends and family and get some green karma.

Summer means spending my lunch hour at Battery park. Watching little children dance around in the interactive water fountain is one of many delights of my afternoon wanderings. On one such afternoon, I was reading “A Poem for CRY: Favorite Poems of Famous Indians” and came across this beautiful poem that touched my heart. It was written by Atal Bihari Vajpayee who served as India’s Prime Minister for many years in recent history.

so here it is…

“Dew drops
On the soft green grass
Were there a moment ago
No longer.
Everlasting happiness
Never existed
Anywhere.
When the sun
Rose from the womb of the
Cold October night
Stretched his legs in the lap
Of the eastern sky
Every leaf in my little garden
Wore lustre on its tips.
Shall I pray to the rising sun? Or
Search for the dew drops
Banished by his heat?
The sun is a reality
You cannot deny.
But the dew drops too
Is a reality, isn’t it?
It’s another matter it
Exists only for a moment.
Shouldn’t I too live
Each moment? Enjoy the beauty in
Each fragment?
The sun will rise again.
Of course, there’ll be
Sunshine all over again.
But the dew drop
On the soft green grass
In my little garden
Will not be there
In all seasons.”

With this poem, the author looks at the small things in life. We generally tend to look at the larger things in life, like the rising sun, which symbolizes power, but it is also important to take care of the small and transitory aspects of life, such as the dew drops that the rising sun causes to disappear. Sensitivity towards the poor, caring for the weak, greeting a child with a smile or savoring the ordinary joys of life– our fleeting moments should be filled with these. Needless to say, I am glad that I can savor the laughter of the little children playing in the fountain every day.

Have you got any favorite poems that you’d like to share…either the ones you have written or written by others?

As naturalist John Muir once said, when we try to pick out anything by itself, we find it hitched to everything else in the universe. Every little thing we do changes the world in one way or another, just like the ripples waves create reach far and wide. Having grown up in a loving Hindu household in southern India where giving to others and worshiping all natural beings was the norm, my life was set on a path of giving and sharing. Today, I wouldn’t be where/who I am without the help of my family, friends and kind strangers who’ve reached out and forever left a mark.

By sharing my tales and visions here, I am hoping I can set some positive changes in motion.

Thank you for visiting my blog. I started it to share my ideas and ideals. Also, to share my life with all of you because happiness is indeed only real when shared. :) Here, you will find my favorite books, charities, quotes, travels and publications.

Please join and participate. Your valuable input is always welcome.

with love, Lavanya