mind’s sanctuary.

Illustration of Ehan drawing. The young artist at work, his hands now shaped by visions, spreading color upon the bare canvas of imagination. With each mark and stroke, a new world emerging – ideas given form, creativity set free to paint what lights his soul and lift the corners of tomorrow’s dawn.

As the river of time flows on, winding through the valleys and canyons of life, I’ve come to understand my conscience as a lighthouse, piercing through the thick fog of perceptions that fill my mind. The harshest critic lies not in the eyes that view me, but in how I believe they see me—a hall of mirrors reflecting my self-doubts like glaring spotlights.

All labors of passion hold equal worth; the baker kneading the pliant dough, infusing it with care; the painter splashing the waiting canvas, colors dancing into shapes; the gardener nurturing the fertile soil, seeds blossoming with patience; the teacher shaping young minds, igniting their potential. Riches jingling in pockets often masquerade as success, their metallic sheen veiling a soul’s true wealth within. Real prosperity resides in one’s essence, beyond material things that rust and fade. It takes a man of wisdom, kindness and wit to be admired yet unfettered by fortune’s gilded trappings, fame’s seductive allure. The drive to unveil such inner gold becomes his golden key to achieve whatever great heights he desires.

So, I ask you, as a valuable reader, what secret dreams stir within the depths of your heart? What passions blaze in your soul, yearning to shine forth, to prove your worth? That treasure lies inside you, waiting to be unearthed. Delve the caverns of your mind, unearth your hidden gold, and let your inner light glow, as bright as the sun. For your true wealth lies within, untouched by outside eyes, resplendent and free.

shine your light

Embrace being the person who genuinely cares. Step up, be the one who’s always ready to put in the hard yards, the one who isn’t afraid to love passionately and unreservedly. Allow yourself to be the person who wears their heart on their sleeve, who never runs from the depth of their emotions or the fervor of their hopes.

Stand as the person who has faith in the world’s tender side, in the gentle whispers of humanity that sometimes get drowned out in the noise. Be the beacon, the one who lights the way, who perseveres even when the going gets tough.

Be that person who makes others feel visible, the person who’s always present when needed. Take it from me, embody the persona of the one who truly cares. Because our world is starved of genuine concern, it’s tired of disinterest and indifference; and believe me, there’s nothing more formidable than someone who remains compassionate and soft-hearted in a world that hasn’t always reciprocated kindness.

In a world that often seems callous, be the exception. Be the person who cares and watch how you light up the world around you.

mortal mettle

Like a shipwrecked vessel adrift at sea, our earthly lives are but a fleeting voyage. As transient travelers treading the sands of time, we journey together under endless skies, our footprints traced temporarily along the shores of eternity. Though our mortal shells erode, our spirits sail on. (Photographed and styled by The Border of a Mind Studios from a beach in Sharjah, United Arab Emirates)

We all try to avoid thinking about it, but death comes for us all eventually. Though it makes us uncomfortable, reflecting on our mortality can inspire us to live more purposefully. When the clock of life stops ticking, fret not about the lifeless body you leave behind. Your loved ones will take good care of it—they’ll dress you up nicely in a white shroud before sending you off on your final journey.

Many will come to see you off – some taking time off work, others rearranging plans. They’ll stand around chatting like at a high school reunion before you set off on your last journey.

Your possessions – that Ukulele lying around you never learned to play, the fancy plates at home you never used, the clothes that hung unworn in your closet – they’ll all be passed on, sold off, or tossed out quicker than last night’s leftovers. The details of your material life will go on without you.

At the office, they’ll have your replacement before your obituary hits the papers. Your workload will be passed on seamlessly like a baton in a relay race.

Your finances and assets will go to your next of kin. Don’t be surprised if you continue to be analyzed and criticized even in death – people always have opinions, after all.

True friends will mourn you for a time, shedding tears over memories you made together. But the river of life keeps flowing, and they’ll soon be back to their routines. As for fairweather friends, they’ll forget you faster than a fleeting TikTok trend.

Your pets might tilt their heads confused, wondering where you went, but they’ll bond with their new owners soon enough. Loyalty has its limits.

Your smiling face in those photos on the mantle will gather dust, gradually relegated to boxes in the attic to fade from memory.

Your home will echo with emptiness for a while, but will soon be filled with the noise of someone else living your life.

In time, the pain will subside, the calls will taper off, and you’ll become just another name etched into stone, a distant memory.

For you, though, the real adventure is just beginning. A new phase of existence where worldly possessions and status symbols are meaningless. Where you take only what you gave – your compassion, wisdom, and light.

While you glance at these writings, let us remind each other to live and love fully now. Build spiritual wealth by touching lives. That’s the only currency that lasts. Make your mark on this world, because your chance is finite. But your soul is infinite.

wild drift, lush fronds

Two regal betta princes survey their aquatic kingdom, tails flowing like royal robes as they patrol the dense emerald foliage of their jungle realm. Like adventurers in an ancient tale, the intrepid fish weave through the tangled wood, the vast and wild frontier their underwater Camelot. Their sapphire scales shimmer like armor in the dappled light, noble knights of this verdant and vibrant wonderland.

For those of you who have been journeying with me through the tangle of tales and art of words and ideas on this blog, you’ll remember my old posts on aquascaping. As a gardener of water, I’ve nurtured my underwater realm, shaping it from a simple basin to a bustling, verdant underwater jungle somehow. It’s been a labor of love, a test of patience, and today I share with you the fruits of my labor of several months.

Imagine, if you will, a jungle. Dense with life, brimming with an untamed symphony, where every inch tells a tale of growth. Now, imagine that same wild expanse, but beneath the surface of the water. That’s the essence of my Jungle style aquascape. It’s a chaotic waltz of the wild set free within the glass confines of my humble aquarium.

Unlike the meticulous rigor of other aquascaping styles, the Jungle style finds beauty in the bedlam. It embraces the seeming disorder of nature, the spontaneous burst of foliage, the unanticipated twist of driftwood. The heart of this aquascape is the verdant array of aquatic plants, a dense range of varied species, each contributing its unique essence to the tableau. Towering fronds of small and long-leafed plants stretch towards the light, their surfaces a playground for dancing shadows and shimmering reflections.

Driftwood, the skeletal remains of ancient trees, punctuates the lush greenery, not to impose order but to echo the intricate disarray of nature. They’re like brushstrokes in an impressionist painting, adding depth and texture to a scene that revels in its beautiful chaos. Creating a Jungle style aquascape is an exercise in controlled chaos. It’s a delicate balancing act of allowing nature to unfurl in all its wild beauty yet curating it enough to ensure it thrives within the confines of a tank. It’s an art form that challenges you to harness your inner wild, channel your creativity, and test the boundaries of your ability.

The allure of the Jungle style lies in this freedom of expression, the liberty to let your aquascape be as untamed as your imagination. But within this wild abandon lies a silent covenant – to nurture and sustain this vibrant ecosystem, to be the silent sentinel safeguarding the harmonious discord of this underwater jungle. In cultivating this aquascape, I’ve not just created a humble art for the eyes, but a subtle art of balance in my taste. It’s a living, breathing metaphor of life itself – wild, beautiful, and forever changing.

human glow

Grains of wonder, speckled remnants of discoveries made along the shoreline. Tiny treasures cling to Ehan’s small toes, each step a keepsake of joyful play by the sea.

You know those little unfiltered moments that feel so human and real? I’m obsessed. The messy morning hair, the big yawns when you first wake up, the way your shirt rides up when you stretch. How the wind playfully tussles your locks when you’re outside. The kind of full-bellied laugh that makes your eyes water. Sleepy, dreamy eyes that say you stayed up too late talking. The butterflies in your stomach when you have a crush. An innocent smile that keeps growing into laughter until you’re crying happy tears. Bumping shoulders with someone as you walk side-by-side unable to contain your excitement. Blushing and stumbling over your words when you get all giddy. Those rare times when we can just be our true, unguarded selves, without pretense or self-consciousness. Just pure, raw, natural human moments. We don’t appreciate these fleeting instants enough. It’s the unfiltered realness of people that makes me fall in love with humanity.

voyage’s vision

Somewhere in Zanzibar

None of us hit the open road purely for kicks. We grab those suitcases and gas up the car because we’re driven by something deeper—a fundamental human need to explore new horizons. With each new mile unfurling under our wheels, we can feel the routine and familiarity of home fading behind us. And as we immerse ourselves in places where people speak different languages, eat different foods, live different lives, something inside us begins to shift and expand.

It’s like our minds are tired old sponges, thirsty for new sights, sounds, and experiences to soak up. And little by little, each small discovery accumulation leads to a subtle but profound change in our perspective.

When we finally return home again, initially it seems like nothing has changed on the surface. Our houses, our streets, our neighborhoods—they appear just as we left them. But deep down, we know something is different. Because we have been transformed from within. The way we see the world and our place in it has been altered in some subtle but significant way.

So, while we may not set out just for thrills, the truth is that travel satiates our soul’s deepest appetite. And by enriching our inner lives, it changes everything.

the trek within

In the darkest valley, when all seems lost and failure looms, success flickers in the act of rising once again. In waking at despair’s midnight, abandoned and impoverished, and finding the will to face the coming dawn. Every new day survived is a small success. Original photograph by Nasna Nassir. Styled by Ajmal,

The road to success is not a straightforward highway to a glittering destination, but rather a winding footpath through darkened woods, lit only by the inner sparks of courage. No wise guide sets the course, each must follow their own inner compass.

For one lost in a fog of a drinking addiction, success may be a week freed from drink, a first glimpse of sunlight. For another trapped in creative drought, success could be three pages written after months adrift in a sea of blank pages. To someone recovering from illness, success may be simply taking six steps unaided, after legs long robbed of their strength. Success is not crossing the finish line but taking the next step, however faltering, on the onward trail.

Success isn’t about the sparkling Ferrari in your driveway, or the penthouse with a view. It’s not about the designer shoes that line your closet or the VIP contacts in your shiny new maxed out phone. It’s not about the Instagram-worthy photos of your family vacation in Bora Bora or the sprawling vacation home in Cape Cod. True success dazzles not in manifestations of wealth that fade like stars at dawn, but rather glitters in small precious gems of everyday life. In a child’s smile, a lover’s kiss, the quiet satisfaction of work done well. It blooms when one tends the garden of their character, watering discipline and nourishing perseverance. Success is about finding the strength to rise, like a phoenix from the ashes, when you’ve hit rock bottom. It’s about staring into the abyss, when everything feels like a dead end, and choosing to take that first step back towards the light. You see, success is not about the glitz and glamour. It’s about resilience, perseverance, and the audacity to keep on keeping on, even when everything feels lost.

In the darkest valley, when all seems lost and failure looms, success flickers in the act of rising once again. In waking at despair’s midnight, abandoned and impoverished, and finding the will to face the coming dawn. Every new day survived is a small success. Each breath, each tiny act of courage to march onward – that is the true measure. For when all is shadows, the next step is everything. Success isn’t a destination, it’s a journey. It’s not about reaching the top of the mountain, but the climb itself. It’s about the grit, the sweat, the tears, and the laughter along the way. It’s about standing tall, dusting yourself off, and being able to say, “I’m still here. I’m still fighting.” Now, isn’t that something?

storied scents

..”Most of our childhood is stored not in photos, but in certain biscuits, lights of day, smells, textures of carpet.

-Alain de Botton

Memory of my late velumma’s (Grandmother) homemade cashew fry has me transported through time quicker than a jaunt to the moon! The memory of one aromatic bite and I’m the nine-year-old again, perched on a stool watching her work her magic over the woodfire stove in our old ancestral home in Varandarapilly in Kerala. The sizzle of the nuts in the ancient iron kadai, the wisps of sweet-smelling smoke swirling through the air – it ignites a nostalgia in me brighter than the orange kanikkonna flowers blooming outside.

Isn’t it funny how taste and smell can conjure entire scenes from the past, as vivid as the day they happened? Marcel Proust had his madeleines, I have my velumma’s cashew fry. I wonder what smells unlock the vault of memories hidden away in your mind?

For me, one whiff returns me to carefree days spent in my old ancestral home, climbing trees with my cousins, getting underfoot in the kitchen on aromatic biriyanis, sneaking extra kozhikodan haluvas when no one was looking. Those moments, rich with the spice-perfumed air and chatter of my extended family, are seared into my being like ingredients in those secret recipes lost in time.

The taste of hot, crispy cutlets and strong tea takes me back to trips into town with my Uppa and little brother. Walking hand-in-hand down dusty roads under the sweltering sun to our favorite spot – the Indian Coffee House. Crowding around a rickety table, sipping tea poured expertly from tall glass tumblers by the coffee house staff wearing their signature long white hats, and us devouring cutlets and laughing together. Those simple pleasures engraved on my heart forever.

So go ahead – take a bite, breathe it in, let the nostalgia wash over you like the monsoon rains. The photos may fade with time, but these memories are simmered into the essence of who we are. Each flavor tells a story that connects us to our roots. And isn’t that just comforting as velumma’s cashew fry? I know you also would have such memories to bring back. Write them to me if you have time.

sunset strolls

The amber glow of the setting sun stretches across the sky as my son and I step out onto the corridors. His tiny hand slips into mine, those perfect little fingers curling trustingly around my own. With our first steps, I feel the brush of his tiny fingernails against my skin. How many small discoveries has he made just today, hand-in-hand with his dad? For him, the world is an endless horizon of wonder yet to be explored.

I’m reminded of a treasured childhood memory that my own father recently shared with me. He described how he used to walk with his father, my grandfather, when he was just a young boy. Together they would set out on adventures, my father’s tiny hand clutching my grandfather’s weathered fingers. As they walked, my father would run his small fingers over my grandfather’s nails, tracing the contours and creases earned through years of hard work. For my father, those nails represented security and guidance. My grandfather’s hand was his anchor as he took his first steps into the vast world unfolding before him.

Decades later, as my grandfather took his final breaths, my father narrates that was overcome with the urge to once again feel those familiar fingernails. He reached for my grandfather’s hand and cradled it tenderly in his own. In that instant, he was transported back to his childhood when the world brimmed with promise and potential. Though it pained him beyond words to lose his father, my grandfather’s wisdom and empathy would persist through his son and future generations.

As I watch my young son experience each new sunset as a marvel, I’m filled with immense gratitude. One day, if I’m fortunate, he may walk with his own child in this same way, their tiny hand discovering the world while anchored securely in his. And one day, though my son will never meet him, a faint glimmer of my grandfather’s spark will glow within that child, lighting their way through new horizons, God willing.

For now, I give my son’s hand a gentle, knowing squeeze as the sun dips below the skyline. In his eyes, I see his grandfather’s spirit, that untarnished sense of awe and wonder. And in my heart, I offer up a quiet thank you – both for this present moment, and for all the future sunsets we have yet to witness together, again by the will of God. Each moment has a story and a memory to kindle. Never let a day pass without being in awe and grateful for whatever you’ve experienced on that day.