Discover more from Sattva
Sattva: Issue 27
#Swedengate | A musical rabbit hole | Stuff to read etc.
Hello! If you are new to my newsletter, a warm welcome.
Sattva (सत्त्व) is a beautiful Sanskrit word that has many meanings—spirit, true essence, good sense, wisdom, quality of purity, energy, consciousness and mind, among other things.
Through this fortnightly newsletter, I want to bring to you all things good, which will make your life better. My focus will be on topics such as mindfulness, productivity, slow living and sustainability, accompanied by genuinely useful recommendations of products, books, music, links to read, and of course food and recipes. Through these, I hope to instil some Sattva in your life.
You can catch up on all the back issues here.
A taste of Swedish hospitality
The country that gave us life lessons like Lagom and Hygge to aspire to and fall in love with, recently came under the spotlight for something not so aspirational. #Swedengate took the internet by storm, and it got people talking about hospitality cultures from around the world.
It started with a tweet (a screenshot of a Reddit post) that went crazy viral. The responses to this tweet were an eye-opener into various cultures and why they prefer to not feed a guest or feed a guest until their belly explodes.
Almost every publication worth its salt has had opeds published on this topic. A piece in NPR quoted Richard Tellström, a food historian at Stockholm University who explained this Swedish culture of not feeding guests. “That's because some Swedes think feeding a guest creates a sense of obligation. And in a society that values equality and independence, people don't want to put a burden on someone or feel like they owe someone something.” He also adds that there has been a change in this do-not-feed-guests attitude since the 1990s. Although some others quip in that it has not completely vanished either. Krishnendu Ray, a food studies professor at New York University says that the strong moral imperative to feed others in cultures such as the Indian culture possibly comes from the memory of poverty and hunger and that makes us overcompensate with our hospitality. That is some food for thought indeed.
I was examining my own thoughts on this subject. I love cooking for friends and family. When I someone over, I think about the menu, shop for the ingredients and slave in the kitchen for a few hours. I lay out all the food on the table and expect my guests to take as many servings as they want without me having to force-feed.
There’s also another side to me. Off late I’ve realised that the anxiety of planning the perfect party, the menu and then cooking a lot of food often makes me put off having friends over. Recently, on a quiet weekend evening, I called my neighbour/friend over at 6.30 pm without having a single snack in the cupboard, not even nuts. We had a couple of glasses of wine over some fun conversations and they went back to their home for dinner, which was already cooked and ready.
This lack of pressure to cook an amazing meal enables me to meet friends more often and enjoy the company and conversations, which I have come to cherish a lot in the post-Covid world. Once in a while, it is ok for us to take our focus off food and deeply connect with friends in a setup not cushioned by platters of food. Or just order in pizza and serve it on nice plates with cloth napkins.
I loved what Prof Ray had to say to sum up #Swedengate, "People are just having fun piling on to the Swedes because the Swedes almost get everything else right,"
Link to the NPR story
A musical rabbit hole
It all started on Sunday with my Guruji Shri Mahesh Kale posting a video of his recent concert in Pune in which he was performing Raag Jog. The combination of an addictive raag along with Mahesh ji’s incredibly soulful singing meant that I was listening to it all day. Jog has a very pleasing nature and one can’t help but feel enchanted when listening to it. The meaning of the word ‘jog’ given in the book – A New Hindustani-English Dictionary by S W Fallon is ‘Union with the Supreme being by means of abstract contemplation or a religious meditation’. This is the best explanation of the experience I feel when I listen to Jog.
From the Jog state of mind, I went back to an old
favourite obsession which always reminded me of Raag Jog. The song Sadaa from the Marathi movie Shala ( I had written about it in Issue 11), composed and sung by Mohan Kannan of Agnee band and the female version sung by Calcutta K Srividya who is his sister, are both very close to my heart. I need to listen to them at least a dozen times in a row to feel like I have done a bit of justice to these brilliant compositions.
When you absolutely love a series, don’t you scour the internet to read more about it?I did the same for this song. An article in The Hindu explained that it was composed in the rare Carnatic ragam Shekhara Chandrika, which is the popular Gujri Todi in Hindustani. Gujri Todi is one of my favourite raags in Hindustani music. It was no surprise that ‘Sadaa’ hit all the right spots in my brain, turning into a dopamine fix.
(This is a bit of a complex concept, so skip it if it’s not your cup of tea.) In both Hindustani and Carnatic, there is the concept of pivoting one raag into another by converting one of the notes into the Sa. This is called murchana in Hindustani and Grahabhedam in Carnatic. It is a superimposition of a scale on another scale to arrive at a different raag. It is explained with much clarity by Siddanth Pruthi, in a video in my playlist. A knowledgeable follower on Instagram pointed me to the video where the brother-sister duo used this concept of grahabhedam on the song Sadaa by exploring it in both Shekhara Chandrika and Kadyutha Ganthi.
This led me to this utterly beautiful finale of the rabbit hole, in which the brother-sister duo and their violinist/musician/composer mother Smt Vasantha Kannan performed a thillana in the ragam Kadyutha Ganthi, composed by Smt Kannan.
The journey through this rabbit hole gave me many hours of musical bliss.
While all this raag-talk and concepts may sound heavy-weight, there is enough musical aesthetic and beauty in all these songs to simply sit back and enjoy the sounds, without getting into the technical aspects of it.
I’ve saved all the tracks in a single playlist for your listening pleasure.
Stuff to read
Life hacks for 2022 – loved this list, especially the one that says ‘Take photos of things your parents do every day. That’s how you’ll want to remember them.’
Twitter thread: Cognitive distortions are common thinking errors that can contribute to anxiety and depression. Here are some of the most common cognitive distortions:
The ultimate jazz playlist
I recently watched the series, Bosch. (Yes, very late to it, but consumed all of it quite quickly.)
The series was utterly binge-worthy for its plots and acting, but the icing on the cake for me was the music and the view. I love how Bosch and his daughter would have take-out dinner at night on a neatly laid-out table. They would then have some quiet time on the patio with the most stunning view of nighttime LA, with jazz streaming out of his turn table. I was hoping to find a ‘jazz on Bosch’ playlist and the internet did not disappoint. I found these playlists on both Spotify and Apple Music - 4+hours of the most delightful jazz that you can play in the background for work or relaxation mode. I’ve been hooked to this playlist on most evenings. I don’t have the LA view but I make do with some beautiful candles and soft lighting, and channelise some magic into my evenings.
The Music of Harry Bosch | Spotify
Bosch | Apple Music
Also, check out the monsoon playlist I had curated for Issue 12 of Sattva.
This Handmade Life
Available now on Amazon (Prime delivery) and in your local bookstores
Catch my Instagram Live with Vasudha Rai, author of Glow, on 12 June, Sunday at 6 pm on @saffrontrail
Instagram Live with kitchen gardening expert @meenakshi_arun on 18 June at 6 pm. Meenakshi is one of the experts featured in my book in the chapter on kitchen gardening.
My interview in HT Brunch - Being creative with food and life
This mini review by my friend Prats Rajesh warmed my heart
If you have bought my book and read it, do share your thoughts about it on social media. I’d be most grateful if you took a minute to rate and review it on Amazon.
A limited number of signed copies of my book, Everyday Superfoods are available for Bengaluru folk on the Healthy Buddha website.
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