Explore India // I'm going to live in the mountains!


How's everybody doing! I have been supremely busy with finals, having the time of my life spending all day with my books. TT_TT. There's also another reason I've been M.I.A. (Yes, I just used M.I.A., please don't disown me.) You must be wondering by now what exactly the title of this post means, and this is where I explain it - I'm going for an internship to the Western Himalayas! 

If you are familiar with my blog, you'd know that I am studying architecture at university. As part of our final year we need to complete an architectural internship and thesis project. I had mentioned previously that I was in the process of prepping my portfolio and sending out applications. One of the places I applied at was the Dharmalaya Institute, which is located in Himachal Pradesh near the town of Bir. Himachal Pradesh is a predominantly mountainous state, and this particular institute practises and teaches the vernacular architecture of the Himachal region, carried out mostly in mud, earth, bamboo and other natural materials. Earth architecture is a field I'm extremely interested in so I was elated and humbled, when I got selected!

However, my love for sustainable architecture is not the only reason I applied. Since for me 2015 is the year of saying yes and trying new things, an experience like this was something way out of my comfort zone, and therefore exactly what I was looking for. At first, I was quite unsure of my decision to go. I'd have to be extremely far away from home for several months, and I've never lived alone for such a long time, especially in an atmosphere which is so far removed from what I am accustomed to. I thought maybe I should postpone it to another time when I felt more 'ready'. But then one day I was listening to this song, by Asaf Avidan, and the lyrics of almost the entire song go like this: 

"One day, baby, we'll be old, oh baby we'll be old, and think of all the stories that we could have told "

 And I realised I don't want to think of all the stories I could have told, I WANT to tell them! So I mustered up my courage and decided to go for it, no looking back.

The motto of the institute is 'çompassionate living', which means they believe in causing minimal harm to other living beings. Obviously, this means that the routine and lifestyle followed here is completely different to what we are used to in the city. Located in the heart of a forest, this little community is entirely organic, vegan and minimalist. My time there will be spent in learning organic and natural architecture, how it benefits the earth and people , and majority of my day will be spent building with my own hands. It's going to be a lot of physical work from what I understand, and I am absolutely ready for it. 

It all sounds so exciting and scary at the same time! From the pictures I have seen so far on the internet, the geography looks stunning! I I am so excited to go stay in the mountains. The only other time I have been to such a region was my trip to Mukteshwar, which you can about here, and I had loved it. I leave the very same day my exams get done so it's been a real scramble getting all my things together. I'll be gone for a good four months, if not more! 

The more I think about it, the less anxious I feel.It's going to be the experience of a lifetime. Yes, I do not know anybody there, but I'm sure the people I'm going to meet will be amazing and what I will learn there academically will be priceless too. It's just the break I need after having a rollercoaster year at college, away from the busy life of the city and I am happily willing to take on the challenge of living as simply as possible.

So that's what's been up in my life! I hope to have a decent internet connection at least intermittently to be able to update the blog and share with you my experience. Four months is a long time without internet. Please let there be internet. Oh God. 

Meanwhile, stay inspired and do that one thing you keep putting off! It feels great! 

What have you done recently that scared yet excited you?


Life update and Book Haul

It's been ages since I've been on here! Unfortunately exams and university had to be given first priority, and while I'm still not technically done, the exam I dreaded the most is finally over. I don't think it went all too badly. I breathed a sigh of relief, went on a movie marathon and slept for a million hours. 

The only really eventful thing that has happened in the past few weeks is a huge book sale that took place in my city recently. It's an annual thing and I do try to visit every year. It offers a vast collection of books in various genres at bargain prices. I'm usually spoilt for choice and really have to restrain myself from purchasing every book I lay my eyes on. It's a struggle, I tell you.

All the books I picked up this time are just Rs 50 (1 USD = Rs. 62), which is a fraction of their original price. A couple of them are secondhand, but in excellent condition and the rest are unused, although a little dusty. But hey, so are most things in India. What I like most about this sale is that it has a lot of books by lesser known authors and I discovered quite a few books I would have never come across at a conventional chain book-store.

Here are some of the titles I purchased:

Sickened - Julie Gregory
The Woman Who Went to Bed for a Year - Sue Townsend
Blott on the Landscape - Tom Sharpe
A Tiny Bit Marvellous - Dawn French
No Child of Mine - Susan Lewis
The Help - Kathryn Stockett
Charlotte's Web - E.B. White

I bought a few for my little cousins too. They're all authors and books I loved as kid and read occasionally even now! So if you have any little humans in your life who need a birthday present, I would definitely recommend these!

Fantastic Mr.Fox - Roald Dahl
George's Marvellous Medicine - Roald Dahl
Cosmic - Frank Cottrell Boyce
Scorpia - Anthony Horowitz
South by South East - Anthony Horowitz
Holes - Louis Sachar
Wayside School Gets a Little Stranger - Louis Sachar
Horrid Henry and the Secret Club - Francesca Simon
A Handful of Horrid Henry - Francesca Simon
The Lion, The Witch and The Wardrobe - C.S.Lewis

While taking a break from uni work, I started reading Sickened by Julie Gregory. It is an autobiographical novel about her childhood and how the Munchausen by Proxy complex affected it. The foreword of the book says "Munchausen by Proxy may be the single most complex - and lethal - form of maltreatment known today. It is formally defined as the falsification or induction of physical and/or emotional illness by a caretaker of a dependant person. In most cases, the perpetrator is a mother and the victim is her own child."

It sounds a little dark, but I'm about 50 pages in and find it hard to put down. I find the human mind fascinating and love reading about psychology, so this book is right up my alley.

I used to read a lot, but haven't done so in while, so I hope to get back into the habit once I'm done with exams. There are heaps of unread books lying at home to choose from and I shall keep you guys updated!

What are you reading at the moment?


Minimalism : An attempt

Aloha folks!

The past two weeks have simply flown by and they have been exhausting! It's that time of the year again - the ever dreaded end of semester. I feel like I am in an episode of The Walking Dead, surrounded by sleep-deprived students desperately attempting to hand in their work in time. When we aren't laughing hysterically in a manner that might concern our parents, all we dream of are pillows. In all this hysteria, the thing that has helped me keep calm and composed (partially), is my amateur attempts at minimalist photography.

The concept of minimalism is to try and strip down everything to its most basic form, to make a composition that cannot be simplified anymore. This composition may be a photograph, a painting, an architectural structure, an outfit and even food. My earliest exposure to minimalism was through the study of minimalism in architecture. The works of architects like Tadao Ando and Luis Barragan just blew my mind! Ever since then, I have been exploring the works of artists who believe in this philosophy.

It might seem like an easy enough concept to grasp, but even a quick scan on the internet will show you that it's much more than blank walls and bare canvases. It's about simplicity, humility, spirituality, materials, order, repetition, the play of light and shadow. It's about the core essence of a composition, that one thing without which your creation ceases to exist. To find beauty in simplicity is much harder than one would anticipate, and it isn't something we do everyday. Minimalism can also be adopted in one's lifestyle, which I experienced briefly on a 2 week trip to Auroville in South India. That's an entirely separate post altogether!

Therefore, I decided to embark on this journey of finding beauty in the small things, in the everyday objects we probably wouldn't even give a second glance. So far, it has made me slow down, absorb and observe the little things going on around me and in general made me feel a lot calmer.

I adore Instagram and it is by far my favourite social networking app, and I have come across a lot of very inspiring and creative individuals through it. Some of my favourite minimalist photography accounts are:

I think their photographs are stunning, and they each have their own very distinctive style. I am no expert when it comes to photography, but I genuinely admire their work, and want to work on my own photography skills. So I leave you now with a few attempts of my own! 

 I had a lot fun experimenting with this style and will probably attempt to get better! If you'd be interested to see more, head on over to my Instagram account @minnabee93, where I've shared more of what I've been upto the past few days. 

What have you guys been doing this week?

Have a great weekend! 


Music ǁ Keeping you alive while you work playlist

Hi guys! So this is a quick post I thought I'd share while taking a break from work.
Most often I find that I work better with some sort of music playing softly in the background while I work. Instead of being distracting, it helps me focus better than if I were in a silent room. I get waaaaay too distracted by all my muddled up thoughts if the room is silent. At the moment, the above songs serve me well, being soothing without ruining my concentration, and I don't get bored.

What are your techniques for better productivity?


What I learnt from one month of Zumba

Hi guys! 

Firstly I'd like to wish any Indian readers out there a very Happy Holi! 

Holi, also known as the Festival of Colours celebrates the arrival of spring, good harvests and the symbolic victory of good over evil. A quick Google search will be able to acquaint you with the entire history if you would like to read more :) It is quite a colourful affair, as the name suggests and usually involves throwing fistfuls of coloured powder and water balloons at unsuspecting strangers. Ok, maybe not strangers. Unsuspecting siblings and mums and dads and friends is a-okay. Don't throw red and green powder into strangers eyes, just don't.

Anyway, the only relation between Holi and the topic of today's blog post i.e. Zumba is that both involve considerable amounts of running and jumping and exercise in general without one realising it. If you are unfamiliar with the concept of Zumba, it is essentially a form of mostly cardio exercise that incorporates dance and aerobics moves into a routine of about an hour. I think it originated in Latin America if I'm not mistaken.

So recently my uni decided to hold Zumba classes at our campus, and after much deliberation ( five minutes ), I signed up for them. For reasons unknown, ( waddup Killers reference! ) they were discontinued after a month, but here are the reasons I joined and was quite glad I did!

Exercise, obviously. I had been on a bit of a health spree in the holidays and thought it was the perfect continuation of my exercise routine into my college schedule.

Now, I said earlier that I signed up for the class instantly. What followed was a few days of gnawing at my nails wondering if I had made a huge mistake. This might seem like strange behaviour, but trust me when I say I'm quite the uncoordinated human being. I DO NOT dance in public, unless the intention is to be an awkward mess. Hence I was terrified at the thought of attempting to sway my hips from side to side, leave alone move more than two parts of my body simultaneously, in front of strangers. Or worse, in front of people I knew.

I knew it shouldn't be such a huge ordeal and that I should learn to take myself less seriously and this was one of my prime reasons for joining. If one of my resolutions this year was to get out of my comfort zone, I had to do it the right way. Not merely get out of the comfort zone that is my bed.

So I went for the first class with a bunch of my friends, open to anything that was to take place. If I liked it, great! If I didn't I could think of it as the first and last dance class I would ever take, and have a funny story to share in ten years after overcoming initial mortification.

Fortunately, it was the former. The class was great! I realised I wasn't the only awkward one and for most of the class everyone was just so busy in trying to keep up with the instructor you really did not have any time to look at who was tripping over their own feet and who was making professional ballerinas jealous. Before we knew it, the hour was up and everybody looked like they had had a great time! I knew I had.

And so the classes continued and it became easier to get into the routine every class. I got a wee bit fitter. And then mystical forces intervened and the classes got suspended abruptly.

What I was most happy about though was that I don't think I'll hesitate too much to join another class in the future now. It really wasn't that bad, voluntarily putting yourself in the position of public humiliation. Quite fun to be honest, after the first few moments of awkwardness. Unfortunately, my exercise routine has undergone a drastic decline since then. I think it's time to bring out the old 7-minute workout app again.

Have you guys ever tried Zumba? What is the fitness mantra that you swear by? Let me know in the comments!

Until next time,