To Universe, with Love

Love Stories

Posted on February 13, 2016

1. Us.




*This stack of love letters are my treasure.

 Happy Valentines day ! Let’s replace the chiche gifts with hugs, kisses, love letters, long walks, star gazing, candle-lit homemade meals, wild flowers, dancing on the couch and poetry.


2.  This years Valentines day is special to me because I am living in that part of the world that just legalized gay marriages. I grew up in an old traditional culture that constantly told me how to live my life, how to love and whom to love. I don’t claim to relate to what they go through, but I am sorry that we are so nasty in general. It’s a right every human being should have and it’s not up to us to give or take. Its 2016 and we are still fighting for the right to love.




These images were shot by the brilliant photographer – Arjun Kamath. I can never imagine the fears of someone who is boxed in a closet, but these images hit close to home in creating a fear. In my lifetime, I want to see more change.



When Rumi and Shams met for the second time, they fell at each other’s feet, so that “no one knew who was lover and who the beloved.”

I never believed it’s the man’s job to kneel and ask the women to marry her. Or is it his job to take care of her. Or that it’s the woman’s right to be treated princess ( a definition of privilege ). I believe it should work both ways – as equals. I have been reading Rumi’s poetry. And the above passage resonates with me.





*My father enjoying the early morning on our farm


*Amma and me chugging coconut water

It’s uncanny as to how my father can read my thoughts over the phone. Even when I am silent, he somehow knows. They have been such a great source of strength for me over the years.




My favorite animal is the wolf. I want a dog because it’s the closest relative to a wolf that I can live with. I have considered adopting a wolf dog but I don’t think I can make him happy in the urban spaces I spend most of my time in. Wolves have been demonized by cattle farmers, ranchers and as cunning canine beasts by folk lore. They wander into the civilization and end up having to fend for themselves because we have taken away their lands and deforested their habitats.

I made 75$ from this blog last year through referrals. I donated this money to my favourite charity that supports the wolves in Oregon. If you helped me obtain this money by using my referral links, thank you very much !


January Purge

Posted on February 6, 2016

It’s easy to throw things out and think I solved the problem. But it’s harder to commit to what’s mine and not constantly chase the new. I am at that stage – I have cleansed enough and I need to use what I have. My last batch for a while, is currently in a cardboard box and leaving my home. My best advice to myself at this stage : don’t throw things for the sake of throwing them or for a count. But ask myself : do I need this ? do I use this ? Can someone else better benefit from it given my current usage ? Will keeping it really save me resources in the long run ? I have an Evernote list of everything that left / came into my apartment in the last two years. It was a very helpful exercise to record : item name + condition + price + reason for purchase + reason for discard. I learnt a lot about the mistakes I made and hopefully will not make again. Its sometimes even heart breaking when I see this list. I am trying to understand why I made the mistakes. I highly recommend anyone doing a declutter to take their time and ponder. Decluttering done too fast and without lessons learnt may lead to a relapse. Old things gone and replaced by new things that will one day need to be purged. That being said, I would like to share my current list :



*Maanasa and I in our Frye Carson ballet slippers

1. My burgundy nail polish and acetone remover. I am going clean going forward. I can no longer tolerate the awful chemicals that touch my body or get washed into the planet.


2. White leather sneakers by Frye : Too much of a love hate for me. I wore them 5 times in 2015. I decided it will benefit someone else who might appreciate them better. I couldn’t sell them and hence donated them. #fashionVictim.


3. Extra tights and acrylic Socks : My sock draw always un-grounds me and makes me feel like I am drowning in clutter. I could have kept them and used them for years. But I don’t really use them and they are rotting in my closet. I live in a tiny home and can use the extra space.


4. A black pleated skirt : I don’t want to go to the dry cleaners to get this washed. And making pleats actually look like pleats after a wash, is way way too much work.


5. The floppy red winter felt hat that never gets worn : In theory, good. In practice, naa. It made my friend who inherited it really happy though.


6. Restaurant menus, paper memories from our travels : Now that I look at them, I don’t remember why I kept them. Yes, they are from Austria and other places but I forgot the significance of them. I shouldn’t have lugged them all the way on my back(pack) in the first place. #noteForTheFuture


7. Spare yoga mat : I had two and mom needed one.



* One of the 50 books I am reading



8. Zara striped tops that came apart at seams : Not worth getting them fixed by a tailor but I did sew them up before I donated them. I didn’t want them to go straight to the landfill although my dirty thread work won’t be earning them any points. Also, polyester clothing that I purchased 5 years ago feels like punishment to me now and this is the very last of it. When I started to wear my clothes in heavy rotation, the ones from Zara wore out really quick – no surprise there.


9. All the extra hangers left over after I decluttered my closet : I don’t need to see the possibility of hanging more stuff than I own.


10. A Splendid jersey navy blue blouse: Jersey is drapey and soft – something I liked during my younger days. Now, with every wash, it’s becoming more and more clingy. Not appropriate for outerwear. Sorry Coco Chanel ! but I don’t like jersey.



* street lamp reflections look beautiful after it rains



While this will no longer be a monthly ritual, I also realize this will not end for me for another year. I am moving into a smaller place by the end of the year. I will continue to fill my donate box till my move and perhaps do another round when I move. I am happy that my outgoing is way more than the incoming. I used to do one item-in-one item-out for the first year. But I realized it’s still an easy consumption pattern. Then, I started doing one-in-four-out for year two. It made me think for days before making a purchase. Now, I am at the place I envisioned myself to be, when I first got started. I can let go more but I am at peace. It took me two years to get here. And it has been such a happy process. I don’t foresee big purges and will let decluttering happen more organically in the future. 



Winter Reading List

Posted on January 29, 2016

I am in Arizona for a little while for work. While the temperatures hardly compare to the blizzard like conditions in the North East America, the nights are pretty cold which I detest. Winter is my least productive time of the year – I sleep more, exercise less, dread my bike commutes, eat heavy food, drink too much tea, … On one cold day this January, I biked home from work miserable. And hit ‘buy’ on a black coat in anger. I would have bought fur on that day if someone sold it to me on the street. I am glad that the winter is ending. But the amount of hot tea I am drinking still warrants a cozy corner, a worn in scarf to wrap around and some great reading.


* a beautiful dead ( mango ) leaf from mom’s farm




1. How to identify quality of cloth, a wealth of wisdom for Savile Row ! Please read ?

” My personal definition of great cloth would mean that the cloth would have to be 11 or 12 oz. in weight, meaning it would have enough ‘guts’ to drape well, be able to wear all year round (assuming no drastic climates) and it would have the ‘guts’ to last for years if not worn like a work horse. ”


2. Design is everything ! Even for ballet flats and sandals. Some side effects of bad design.

” Make sure your flats have plenty of arch support; avoid super-flat shoes with thin soles. Make sure your toes have plenty of breathing room when you try on a new pair of flats. Give up your beloved flip-flops for good, reaching instead for a great pair of supportive sandals.  ”


3REASON FOR BEING, Orazio Luciano & The Golden Age of Tailoring

” Most new clothing shouldn’t exist. It comes into the world promising something that everything you own already covers. Look through your closet and be reminded how little else you need. The sooner you extricate yourself from seasonal marketing games the happier you’ll be. There’s not a well-dressed man I know who doesn’t advocate fewer, better options. ”


4. Higher price == higher quality and standards ?

I am running out of options. Everything that seems to be produced seems to be made in sweatshops with high markups. I appreciate Everlane and Cuyana so much more as I read these.


5. A 3,500$ t-shirt ? ( history + raw materials + fashion )

” But I can tell you that living has never been cheaper. We live in a country awash in stuff – food, clothing, appliances, machines, cheap crap from China – but it’s never enough. $4 t-shirts? Please. We want five for $10, and even then, can we get them on sale? And yet, compared to a world where everything is made by hand – we’re talking barely 200 years ago – everything is cheap and plentiful, and we are appallingly ungrateful. ”



* Door to Grandpa’s backyard



1. The women in an empty room.

“My grandmother Leona died with nothing. I don’t mean she was a poor woman though; neither was she a materially wealthy woman but she was rich in love and generosity. Her spirit was beautiful and rich. Ridiculously rich in all she gave to others. She lived on very little and all her concern was for other people.”


2. Down with the wine snobbery. Is applicable to every other aspect of life.

“Here’s the truth about wine. You may be just like me and cars. Someone who wants to drink something fruity and fresh on a terrace in summer or rich and red with your steak at night. Who should care what you’re drinking? Only you should! Quaff away, slurp if you want. Hell use a straw and mix it with 7up for all I care. Are you smiling when you do it? Are your friends laughing with you? Great. You did it right.


3. A beautiful 2016 to-do list.

  1. Sleep under the stars
  2. Don’t complain about anything for a week
  3. …                                                                        “


4. Some new-old school golden rules of Etiquette

”     Paying for a Date

If you invited him/her, you should pick up the tab. It comes with the invitation. You don’t invite someone to spend their own money. If you’re broke, do something cheap like a coffee date or something free like a walk in the park.        ”


5. You can be a consumer or a creative, not both. My fav article among this list. 

” In every moment, you can choose to consume or create.

Of course, it’s a balance—life includes both. But there are certain types of consumption that do not allow creativity to build on it. ”



* Grandma’s pride : the lotus tub in her garden



1. Please lay off the salmon, tuna and shrimp. I signed up. 

We are over fishing and destroying the ocean’s echo system. Instead of feeling hopeless and helpless like I always always do when I read these articles, I can help.


2. Before you feel good about ‘donating’ after a round of declutter, read this

” The vast majority — 85 percent, or 12 million tons — of unused textiles are carted off directly to U.S. landfills each year, according to the Environmental Protection Agency. That’s more than 7 percent of our national landfill waste. ”


3. Conspicuous Consumption at its heights – Cheetahs as pets

I love Nat Geo. And the power of photography. Thank you for making us fall in love with nature, exploring different cultures and bringing us awareness.


4. John Muir’s wisdom in quotes.

Not a season goes by where I don’t fall in love with this man, again.


5. Recycling is not immune to politics and its own carbon footprint. We should try to reduce than trust this pipeline ?

” The environmental benefits of recycling come chiefly from reducing the need to manufacture new products — less mining, drilling and logging. But that’s not so appealing to the workers in those industries and to the communities that have accepted the environmental trade-offs that come with those jobs. ”


Something very rewarding about blogging is the number of like minded individuals I can identify with. If you are like me who likes reading and learning from such articles, I do pin them to these two boards on Pinterest : Reading and Tao of Fashion. I know that image intense Pinterest is not the best way to keep track of reading material but I have an account and I have been bookmarking the articles for the past year on it. Happy Learning ! 

Natural Hair Care

Posted on January 23, 2016



I am not the person to give anyone advice on hair. Because my bad habits show more on my scalp than anywhere else on my body. But my Dr.Professor.Dermatologist.Dad is in good authority to talk about these things. He tells me – hair is dead and nothing tropical can save it really. He tells me 1) Eat well for your body to produce enough hair to replace the ones we shed everyday 2) Exercise for healthy circulation and stress management. 3) Do not heat style. My great grand ma is 102 years old and has a full head of thick straight silver hair. She says 4) Apply oil before washing to avoid over drying 5) Use soap nuts instead of shampoo 6) Condition to create a barrier for protection from the environmental elements with oil. 7) Braid it to avoid breakage. 8) Eat well to prevent hair loss. I am working on the ‘eat well’ part of these commandments. The rest are easier to follow. 


1. Rahua Volumizing Shampoo : This is no soap nut but is very natural from what I understand. Giving the no-silicone all natural exotic ingredients a go. It’s wonderful. Wash the scalp and let the rest of the hair wash by association when rinsing to keep the ends from drying.


2. Aveda Dry Remedy Oil : I have decided to go old school. Skip the conditioner and use oil when needed instead. 2 drops go a long long way.


3. Bass Wooden Hair Brush : A wide comb brush for detangling and brushing. Is 5 years old and very durable. Available at Whole Foods.


4. Dry Shampoo : ?? ( looking for one/need to DIY one/Fat and Moon )


Again, I am not in authority to give anyone hair care advice – because I have problems of my own ( hair loss ) that I am trying to solve. My father gave me some mexoryl and a boat load of pills to prevent it which I refuse to use. I think my issues come from my erratic eating habits. Let’s see if I can solve this using nutrition. 

Dear Makeup bag, …

Posted on January 16, 2016

Dear Makeup bag,


laura mercier makeup bag


I am not asking a lot from you. I don’t expect miracles like no-makeup-makeup. But you do a pretty great job at being invisible. I don’t need you to last all day because natural ingredients don’t. And you are on, most of the day. I am not interested in the hoards of cosmetic innovations landing on the counters worldwide since I am content.

– Me.


P.S : A great ‘philosophy’ to listen to, before slapping on too much makeup or contouring like the Kardashians. And everyone apparently feels the pressure. Heck, I want to grow old after reading this.


Shown: Laura Mercier Makeup bag, Chanel perfection lumiere, Chanel foundation brush.


Less is more. I use my foundation more like a concealer. I dont smear it all over my face. I wear it because I photograph better.

I adore Wayne Goss, the make up artist and a beautiful human being. I got this push liner brush, because I wanted to support his venture. The brush is very well made.

Fat and Moon makes this eye liner that’s all natural and good for the eyes. Its exactly like the one my great grandmother used to make at home using Castor Oil.

I have a few lip color options. A very sheer pink that has SPF. My perfect nude is this brown-plum color by Bobbi Brown. I have a going out statement lip color in deep red by Nars.



Shown : Bobbi Brown ( Raisin Berry ), Nars ( Amsterdam ), Dior SPF 30 ( Pink ), Fat&Moon eye coal, Wayne Goss push liner brush, Chanel mascara.




Subtlety is an art. I dont want my face to look drawn upon. Lining lower eye lid – no. Upper eye lid – yes.

Never never believe you need makeup. Take care of the skin and all is well.

Remove makeup at the end of the day or else you ruin your skin and pillowcases. I double cleanse. Once with oil. Next with gram flour + clay mixture. And wipe with a toner.

Avoid long-lasting formulas. They have more unnecessary chemicals and require stronger products to take off.

Aim to look a little fresher than current self. Do not try to correct the ‘flaws’ as pointed out by the magazines or to look like someone else.

The no-makeup-makeup look should not take 20 minutes to achieve. It should take less than 5 minutes or else it’s not sustainable.

I was tempted to purchase the RMS illuminator / Nuxe shimmer oil. Instead, decided to exercise regularly. An inversion a day gives the skin an amazing glow, from my experience.


“If you are wearing your silver crown of hair, laugh lines, scars and sun spots with pride and joy, as medals of honor you have earned by living rich and passionate life, you can carry yourself differently; you will also be giving those younger than you hope for the future. ” – Cindy Joseph, Darling Magazine.

Wardrobe Lust List

Posted on January 9, 2016

Impulse Purchasestupid act.


  1. Pure impulse buying is a novelty or escape purchase which breaks normal buying patterns.
  2. Reminder impulse buying occurs when a shopper sees an item or recalls an advertisement or other information and remembers that the stock at home is low or exhausted.
  3. Suggestion impulse buying is triggered when a shopper sees a product for the first time and visualises a need for it.
  4. Planned impulse buying takes place when a shopper makes specific purchasing decisions on the basis of price specials, coupon offers, and so forth.



Last year, I went with the flow as long as its high quality, item is versatile and was less than one incoming item a month. Made some impulse purchases. Picked up pieces I liked as I saw them. This year, I decided to write a list and not stray from it. This is not my 2016 wardrobe lust list. If I put a time line on it, it may prompt me to check it off by the end of the year. Its a list of things I lust in general. There is not reason for me to go and buy everything on it. My reason for making it is different – to not stray from it. Not go hunting for them but procure them if I find them. I also believe in delayed gratification. Taking months and years to find that perfect piece.


1. A TRENCH COAT ( since 2015 )

The Sartorialist made this series called the Art of Trench. Its beautiful. And Burberry left this other website open for the public to contribute high quality photos of people sporting their trench coats. I always wrote it off as American preppy/French wannabe/European but I am warming up to the idea of using a trench like a tortoise shell. Wear it everyday when I bike to help with the winds and the possible rain. I don’t like camel, brown or beige – the ideal neutrals for a trench. I would like one in red or gray. A red may not go well with all my blue dresses but if I were to wear something all the time, it should be gray ? Rainy days are so gloomy and warrant red umbrellas and trench coats, no ? Still have lot of thinking to do.


2. THIS BLACK PINSTRIPE DRESS by Stella McCartney. ( UPDATE : purchased )

The 2013 Fall collection has to be my one favourite collection ever. Every model that came out had something on, that I thought was brilliant. She did a lot of pinstripe – dresses, shorts, shirts, blouses. I wanted them all and couldn’t afford any. Saved this photo to my computer so that I can stare at it. I found it on ebay after years. I still want it. Might purchase it soon after I slept on it for a week.


3. A LITTLE BLUE DRESS ( always )

I am an everyday blue dress wearer. If I find something absolutely special, I would allow myself to lust after it.



4. A BLACK WOOLEN COAT ( UPDATE – purchased )

I have a mauve funnel coat that is light weight and a gray jacket. I like the idea of having a black coat too. I dont need it. My gray jacket needs to be re-lined because it ripped with wear. Also, I am a little bored of it. Am considering selling it or storing it away for a year or two. And getting a black one.



5. THE PERFECT GRAY T-SHIRT  ( since 2000 )

Boxy cut. Ethically made. Short sleeves. Loose drapy fit. Should be long enough. Shouldnt cost 100$. Almost Imaginary !!


UPDATE  : ( Jan 29th, 2015 )

I am so tired of wanting things. I thought this list would help prevent unwanted purchases. But it is still a list of things I wanted to buy. So I edited out this list. Weeded out the stuff that I can live without. This edit eliminated half of my list. Decluttered the list ! When you have a list, the act of shopping becomes an act of hunting. Which is also time consuming. I always wanted to have stricter rules with myself. Do one item per season. But then, I don’t want to be caught up with the cycle of seasonal updates. I do not want to allocate time hunting for things. I hope to find what I want soon, and then not hunt for the rest of the year.

kimono6. A KIMONO WRAP INSPIRED GARMENT  ( since 2014, can wait )

I watch a lot of samurai movies. Read the books on Japan, Samurai code, …. Love how the Japanese designers do their draping. Eagerly wait every year for the Carven, Lemarie, Rick Owen, Yohji, Rei, … fashion shows. Harsha and me went to Japan town in San Francisco trying to find me something. But they have some very souvigneers-for-foreigners type clothing that I can never wear. Something inspired and ready to be transitioned into this modern day and age – yes please. I tried to design one myself, but I am no construction expert. And no longer have a trusty tailor like I did in India.


red dress

7. A RED silk/wool DRESS ( since 2013, been waiting )

This has been on my list for years. The ones I like are not affordable. Or made out of polyester which I refuse to buy. I have one that I have been wearing for years from ASOS during my younger-always-broke days. Its going strong. Sort of acts like a filler till I find the perfect one. My sixth sense says it could take years.




I know. They are trendy and been so, for the past few years. Apparently a trend that refuses to die. Does that make it a classic ? any trend that persists for a decade ? Mr. Porter has this story on how trends percolate. I am in the laggard category. I have been hoping I will get over it. Still hoping. I am a firm believer in “dress up your flats and dress down your heels”. I am sure they will look dated 20 years from now. Or I will be one of those older women who would tell the younglings “I used to wear rockstuds and navy silk shirts with black jeans all the time”.



I had army green jeggings from Rag and Bone. I donated them because …. you know … jeggings ! Nili Lotan’s army green pants are perfect. And are not affordable. Someday, I am hoping something wonderful and affordable will pop up in the second hand market !



I have survived a year without making a handbag purchase. My first since I turned 18. I would like to add something dainty and elegant that I can wear with Indian clothes to my collection. I think Chloe Drew bag looks amazing with Indian clothes. Or most vintage bags that are created during the era when women valued elegance. All my handbags are built for travel and for the dirt. I would like something that I can baby and pass on as a heirloom.



This is my 2016 resolution for the wardrobe – Not buy anything that is not on this list. I am finally at peace with myself. I am done with the large scale decluttering. I let go quite a bit and am in love with what remains in my closet. I don’t want to add too much and get it to the place I started from. Perhaps one item a season ? No more sob blog posts beating myself about every purchase. But buy less and choose well. 

The List: 2016

Posted on January 2, 2016

“Live life without regrets”, means different things to different people. I have met people who do not want to look back in the past and reflect since they don’t want to regret. I have met people who don’t think the past matters because the present is all well. I have met people who think life should be lived without having any sort of ‘lists’. & living life from day to day fully is the way to not have regrets. I am not like them. I repent for my wrong doings and have regrets. To me, it means doing the things I want to do – now, so that I may not look back and regret. I usually have a pretty good day when I wake up and make a to-do list to check off. I am hoping to apply this principle for a larger picture. Here is my list for 2016 : 



1. Stay in a tree house with Harsha for a weekend.

2. Get puppy Barney a red collar with his name plate.

3. Move to SFO and live in an old building with a fire escape.

4. Buy 10 shoe trees.

5. Buy less and let go more.

6. Write down all of my expenses this year.

7. French. Duolingo course.

8. Wear perfume everyday.

9. Buy our first bottle of Champagne.

10. Master the art of breakfast.

11. Wear more dresses.

12. Make bed every single day.

13. Read 50 books.

14. Get a facial every two months.

15. Paint more.

16. Up my commitment to yoga.

17. Make a video every month.

18. Produce less trash. ( < one 3 liter trash can / month )

19. Do an unassisted headstand.

20. Take a photo everyday. Don’t feel the pressure to share.

21. Plant my first herb pot.

22. Recycle and compost.

23. Bike to work. ( Without as many cheat days )

24. Learn to give myself weekly facial massages.

25. Wear silk without saving it for the future.

26. Give up beef and pork. Eat less meat in general.

27. Limit eating out to twice a week.

28. Build a healthy savings account.

29. Visit my niece and nephew atleast once.

30. Himalayas + Mom. Just go.


Happy New Year to anyone reading. Do you have a list? Anything you want to share with me from your list? I hope your lists come true. Thank you for visiting my space. I named this blog ‘To universe, with love’ because I assumed no one would read it and that I would be sending my thoughts into the vast void. It has been a pleasant surprise every time I receive a comment. Thank you !




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