Archive | anecdote

I love coffee

Sri Chinmoy has written a book “My Tea and Coffee Experiences” However, a good friend who used to work as an attendant for Sri Chinmoy told an amusing story, which was not published in that book. He said Sri Chinmoy once felt the need to give up drinking coffee. So with a childlike enthusiasm, one evening he said to this attendant. “I have given up coffee.”

Sri Chinmoy paused and then added.

“Now I just need to give up cappuccino!”

Sometimes spiritual Masters like to show they have a sense of humour.

herbal-tea Continue Reading →

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Star Wars and a blast from the past

These days I rarely watch films. Unless I’m a captive audience on trans-atlantic flights, I tend to get bored half-way through or annoyed at some predictable storyline. To sound like an old codger – a lot of the modern stuff isn’t my cup of tea.

The other thing is that when I revisit things from childhood – the magic is usually gone. When I was a kid, nothing was greater than the prospect of Christmas. I loved Lord of the Rings to the point of religious devotion and I thought playing ‘Howzat’ Cricket with rolling dice and noting imaginary scores in beautifully kept scorebooks (plus working out all the batting and bowling averages of course!) – was the greatest way to spend hours and hours of time.

I spent literally whole summers playing ‘Owzthat’ against myself.

(In retrospect, I’m glad I had Howzat rather than the modern video games/screens. We did see computers come in but I was never that taken with them. I remember the family getting a BBC 32k computer. You loaded games on a cassette and it took three minutes to load ‘Chuckie Egg.’

But, sometimes it’s best to leave the past in the past. Your idea of perfection can’t stay the same as when you are seven years old. My rare foray into social activities as a young child was when we used to play teddy bear cricket with a wooden peg snapped in half for a bat and a small red ball. But, that’s another story!)


Anyway, the one exception to getting bored by films was watching ‘Star Wars’ I watched the film at the weekend and I surprised myself by really enjoying it. I haven’t seen the film for years and years. But, I think I enjoyed it more now than I did as a child. Maybe it helped that I heard my teacher Sri Chinmoy say it was a good film with a spiritual theme  (don’t know the exact words) Anyway it was great. A good film and I was suitably inspired to try and clear the mind and follow the way of the Jedi Master’s in their battle against darkness and ignorance!

May the force be with you!

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Picture of tree and thought for the day

autumn-iffley-tree

This is a tree in Iffley Village – part of my extended commute into town. It’s a beautiful time of the year.

I am currently reading a book on the “Alexander Technique” I like it because it encourages a moment of reflection before doing anything – trying to avoid bad habits we get into. In terms, of my understanding, it reminds me of Sri Chinmoy’s encouragement to meditate before doing anything. Continue Reading →

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The benefits of joining the back of the queue

cafe-nero-heathrow

The thing about Heathrow Terminal 3 is that – like any airport – all people want to do is be somewhere else.

Cafe Nero is one of the better options for passing some time. It has six tills split between two halves, which gives you a split second to choose the queue of shortest wait. I choose right, but am soon disconcerted by the lack of clarity. Is it just one queue for three tills or is it three separate queues? There is a corridor of uncertainty, with a long queue on the right, but a tempting shorter queue on the left.

The only choice is to join the longest queue. But that creates a subtle fear that someone could come from behind and join the half-formed queues in front. If I deny myself a shortcut, I need to deny others too!

So I perform an act of self-interest and civic duty all at once. I queue at a diagonal to move the queue away from the right flank – right into the middle where it should be by the natural law of things. Then I nervously wait, using my psychic energy to secretly discourage people from sneaking through on the flanks.

The tension is palpable, heightened by the fact all the queues in front seem to grind to a halt. As Murphy’s Law would have it, the queue on the other side of the cafe is speeding through. For a split second, I contemplate jumping ship and moving to the other side. I would probably get served quicker, but I’m too invested in my own queue  – which, if not moving very quickly, is at least bringing a little order into the chaos of Heathrow.  Even the people in front seem to be shifting a little to the centre, as if there is an unconscious recognition for the proper, invisible line of our queue. The centre ground is holding. A very small victory in life’s battleground.

Continue Reading →

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Peace Run in Oxford 2018

The Peace Run at Lady Margaret Hall, Oxford University- where I studied 1995-99.

Recently the Sri Chinmoy Oneness-Home Peace Run came to Oxford. I helped as a local co-ordinator to arrange a few meetings. I also cycled with the runners around Oxford.

One of the great things about the Peace Run is that you have to expect the unexpected. Even the best-laid plans need to be flexible. When you are on the run, you soon realise you are very much living in the moment. Continue Reading →

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Benefits of cold showers

Since my cycling has come to a virtual standstill, I have been looking for alternative physical challenges.

This is a blast from the past. I used to work at a private tutorial college in Oxford. The millionaire owner was a real miser so would turn off the heating during the middle of the day to save money. I once bought an electric heater and that got confiscated (that’s another blog itself) Here I am wrapped up to stay warm.

As a means to an end (recover from injury) I have been trying different exercises – Egoscue, Pilates, Tibetan Rites, physiotherapy e.t.c.

They haven’t succeeded in doing anything for the injury, but they have become useful in their own right. The ‘means’ has become the ‘end’. Some movement/exercise is much better than none.

I was speaking to a friend from the Sri Chinmoy Centre and he mentioned that, recently while on the Peace Run, they met the “Ice Man” – Vim Hof, who recommends cold showers, breathing exercises and meditation as a way to improve your health and gain immunisation against the cold.

I was intrigued because at 190cm – 61kg I’m a good heat diffuser. I get so cold it has become partly a mental expectation that I will be cold. I’m not trying to run a marathon in the Arctic in shorts and t-shirt like Vim Hof – just staying a little warmer meditating outside at Aspiration-Ground in New York would be fine.

Anyway, cold showers remind me a little of hill climb intervals – you never look forward to them, they hurt during the event, but after you get a great euphoria and sense of satisfaction. I thought I would be unable to tolerate cold showers at all, but after a week, my tolerance has already improved quite a bit. It’s quite an interesting experience.

I wrote more on my cycling blog – “What to do when you can’t cycle

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Asking for the receipt

Yesterday I went shopping at a local health food store. It is in the same location as the former ‘Inner Bookshop’. I loved that shop because I bought many spiritual books there. A health food store is a poor comparison. But I still like to support a few local independent stores – I do enough buying from Amazon and Tesco.

Anyway first up I bought some Paleo organic cereal for £6.75 (375grams) I think I bought mainly because of the outrageous price. In economics, we might call it a Veblen good (the higher the price, the better we think it is – the demand curve goes the other way) I may do an economics blog post on this to justify the purchase (market research and all that)

Anyway, by the time I’m getting to the back of the shop, my inner Yorkshireman is coming to the fore. After spending £6 for a few seeds, I’m looking for a bargain to square the money circle. I see my favourite soup is on special offer £3.39 cut in price to for £2.50 – because it is getting close to its sell-by date. So I take one of these – I can eat it for lunch. I also buy some avocado humous – reduced in price. Continue Reading →

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The clever economist gets caught out

With my new book – What would Keynes do? – The brief was to write essays on how famous economists would respond to everyday questions. So for example, with the question – Is it OK to be selfish? I examined how the likes of Adam Smith, Karl Marx, Arthur Pigou and Alfred Marshall might answer this question – using their economic teachings.

It was a good experience to research and share the views of different economists, but now I’ve finished writing the book, I’m writing my own perspective on my economics blog.

#2. Should I park illegally?

The essence of this question is that – an economist may calculate it is worth parking illegally and risking a fine because the probability of getting fine is less than the utility of just parking. It is called rational choice theory – we maximise our individual utility by careful evaluation of the different benefits and costs.

It is a philosophy I practise to a certain degree. But, it reminded me of a story where the clever economist got caught out. 

I was in London, and my friend wanted to buy something from a shop. There were no parking spots anywhere, so I parked on a single yellow line, while my friend ran into the shop. I waited by the car, ready to drive off – if a parking warden came. No one did come, my friend got his food, and we drove off. I thought I was clever to save a lot of hassle and park for free.

However, one week later, I got a very nice parking fine (something like £80) from Wandsworth Council saying I spent 10 minutes on a single yellow line. Not only that – they had a picture of me standing nonchalantly by my car, waiting for a traffic warden to appear.

So in that case, the clever economist got caught out by CCTV!

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Basil Fawlty Lives

broadway

Some friends hired a cottage in the Cotswolds to record some music of Sri Chinmoy. Rather than risk sleeping on a spare couch, I booked a nearby B&B. More expensive, but you can’t put a price on a good night’s sleep.

brook-house-b-b

I was greeted at the door by a rather flustered old lady. I mentioned I had booked a room and with this, an even more flustered old man appeared from the kitchen. He said in greeting:

“O no, this is the last thing I need!”

I think he was talking to himself out loud, but maybe he was talking to me.

He proceeded to unload all his burdens and frustrations. His elderly mother had let five gentlemen stay – despite them not having any reservations. As a result, my room was already taken, and it was really a great inconvenience now that I had shown up. He continued:

“I’ve had a very bad day, we’ve had a flood, methane gas escaping from the boiler, the builders causing a problem and my mother overbooking. With you turning up it’s really put the cap on my bad day.”

He explained there was one spare room left – not en-suite like the one I booked – but the room which had experienced a small flood.

I didn’t know whether to feel guilty for turning up or lucky to be given a musty room which was damp despite having no bathroom. Continue Reading →

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Bird-watching from the window

I have a new hobby – bird watching. From my front window, I get a bird’s eye view of sparrows enjoying my feeder. It’s a fairly busy road with not much vegetation, so only the most social birds venture into this domain of city life – the odd robin and blackbird, but mainly the sparrows.

sparrow

I think we subconsciously look down on the common sparrow – they are not the most beautiful bird in God’s Creation – a rather common brown plumage and their sheer ubiquity can make us a bit dismissive of their real charm. Continue Reading →

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