chasing your internal compass

This is an illustration from a vague memory of a night at Zanzibar.

There’s a persistent whisper in the wind, telling us that success glitters under the spotlight, wrapped in dollar bills and woven with public adoration. But what if true fulfillment lies not on some predetermined pedestal, but within the unique landscape of your own heart? Forget the extrinsic markers of achievement. Imagine success not as a glittering trophy on a distant shelf, but as a warm hearth fire crackling within. It’s the comforting glow that radiates from doing what sets your soul alight, from using your unique talents to make a ripple of positive change, even if it’s just a smile on a stranger’s face. Forget the cold, external pressures that define achievement solely by outward measures. They’re like fleeting shadows compared to the enduring warmth of intrinsic joy.. It’s the spark of joy ignited by using your skills to make a positive difference in the world, no matter how seemingly small. This isn’t to say external rewards are meaningless. Financial security and recognition can bring comfort and validation. But when they become the sole measures of success, they risk eclipsing the intrinsic joys that bring true meaning. Think of them as sprinkles on a delicious cake, not the cake itself. The beauty of defining success on your own terms lies in its boundless possibilities. For one, it’s deeply personal. The artist might find fulfillment in capturing fleeting emotions on canvas, while the scientist might chase the thrill of unlocking the universe’s secrets. There’s no one-size-fits-all formula. Secondly, it’s dynamic. Your passions and goals might evolve, and your definition of success should dance along. The baker who once dreamt of Michelin stars might find equal joy in teaching children the magic of homemade bread. Finally, it liberates you from the shackles of comparison. When you chase an internal compass, you’re no longer competing in a never-ending race against others. You’re celebrating your own unique journey, reveling in the small victories and learning from the inevitable stumbles. So, silence the external noise and turn inward. What ignites your soul? What impact do you long to make? Let those be your guiding stars, and you’ll find the path to a success that resonates deep within your being, a success that shines brighter than any external validation could ever hope to achieve.

the eternal touch of Veluppa

In this nostalgic illustration by The Border of a Mind Studios, we see my grandfather immortalized in a quiet moment from decades ago. Captured here in serene reflection, he sits on the sit out of our ancestral family home in Varandarapilly, gazing peacefully into the rain. Transporting us back to a simpler, more leisurely afternoon, this artwork is a portal into the calming atmosphere of days when life moved at a slower pace. It was in such instances of gentle inward-looking that the seeds were sown for the stories he would one day share, fueling curiosity in the generations to come. Though now only represented in lines and colors on the page, this image preserves an instant that nurtured the bonds linking past to present and promises to nourish those yet to be formed.

As the sun dipped low on the horizon, painting vibrant shades of orange across the sky, I sat on the balcony watching it set with my son Ehan by my side. His small hand gripped mine tightly as we took in the beauty of the fading daylight together. Later, when sharing this moment with my father, it sparked a memory from his own childhood. He recalled walking hand-in-hand with his father, my grandfather, exploring the world around them.  As a young boy, he used to explore the outdoors holding his Uppa’s finger, feeling the roughness of his thumbnail beneath small fingers. Gripping his fingers brought him comfort and security. His early discoveries of the world happened through that simple, grounding point of contact.

When his father passed away, my dad was overcome with grief as he held those same hands one final time. When the day came to perform Veluppa’s last rites, a profound grief overcame him. Though lifeless, those fingers represented the connection and guidance his father had provided. It was through him that my dad’s horizons had been expanded and his curiosity for knowledge kindled. As he held those lifeless fingers one last time, he was transported back to being a child exploring by his Uppa’s side. An uncontrollable sorrow welled within at losing the figure who had expanded his mind. Though the physical being was no more, the impact of that guidance lived on.

While my father acknowledges having his own limitations in life, he feels immense gratitude for the curiosity and thirst for knowledge Veluppa kindled in him from a young age with the limited means available to them at that time. That spark is what continues to propel him forward even today. I have never known my father to place importance on lavish possessions or material wealth in all my years and he values his connections above everything and has always chased his passions that are predominantly nonmaterialistic and working towards uplifting and helping people behind the scenes and not vocal about it. He finds meaning and joy in simpler pleasures, a quality no doubt shaped by cherishing moments spent with Veluppa all those years ago and going through difficult conditions during his childhood and overcoming them with resilience. And it is what he hopes will also light Ehan’s path, passing that flame from one generation to the next. Now, my father finds solace knowing a piece of his father lives on through him and will be passed down to the next generation. As Ehan grows, I hope he too will fondly recall our sunset moments together from the balcony, just as my dad remembers his time with his father. Though my grandfather never met Ehan, an element of his spirit remains within our family and will be carried forward. Memories have a unique power to bridge the gaps created by time and distance between generations. In recalling experiences of our past, we preserve the legacy of those who came before us and maintain a sense of connection even after they are gone. My father’s remembrance of his father reminds me to cherish the moments I have now creating memories with my own son that will last a lifetime.

When Ehan grows older, I believe he too will fondly recall our shared sunset moments, just as my father still sees his Uppa’s face when reminiscing their walks long ago. Though my son never knew his great-grandfather, an element of his essence is preserved within our family and will live on through the bonds and memories that connect us across time. Life is shorter than we think.


Sailing across the serene waters of Pwani, I vividly feel the rustic charm of the wooden boat beneath us, a shared moment of tranquility with Netta and Ehan. In this journey, as the oars slice through reflections, we’re reminded that life’s essence is found in these quiet connections, in the ebb and flow of the tides and time. | Principal photography and styling: Ajmal | theborderofamind studios

Thank you for coming back to read. Yes, I’m directly writing to you, yes, You! Let’s have a heart-to-heart for a moment, shall we? You know, life’s this wild, unpredictable journey, and I’ve been thinking a lot about it lately. They never really tell you that you won’t have all the answers, and honestly, that’s okay.

Remember how you were trying to make sense of everything that happened to you, those unexpected twists and turns? I’ve been there too. I used to think I needed to have my future all mapped out, but guess what? I realized that the beauty of life isn’t in having a flawless path. It’s in the stumbling, the learning, the growing.

You know what else struck my thought today? Learning to embrace the unknown. It’s like when you’re trying a new hobby for the first time – maybe it’s painting, or maybe it’s hiking through uncharted trails. There’s a thrill in not knowing exactly how it’ll turn out, right? And setting boundaries – that’s crucial. Just like when you decide how far you’ll hike or when to put down the paintbrush. It’s all about respecting your limits and your wellbeing.

And about letting go – it’s like tidying up your space, getting rid of the old stuff that no longer serves you. It’s not just about physical clutter, but emotional baggage too. Making room for new experiences, new joys. That’s the kind of forgiveness and release I’m talking about. It’s about making peace with the past and carving out space for the future.

So, here’s how both of us are going to do it: Start embracing the life you have, with all its imperfections. Find those small things that bring you joy, the people who light up your world, and the passions that ignite your spirit. Remember, it’s not about perfecting your journey; it’s about living it, one day at a time. Let’s do this together, shall we? 🌟

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.

home is not a place.

Home is not a place, but the memories we carry in our hearts, feelings and nostalgia we carry within us, the history that shapes us, and the love that connects us to those we have left behind.  No matter how far we travel, home remains alive within us through the flavors, sounds, and stories. |

Often, I get very nostalgic about memories for few days when I travel from home. On a patient wait at the airport baggage claim on my way back to Sharjah from Kerala, I watched the conveyor belt rotate endlessly, carrying countless suitcases filled with the cherished items and memories of faraway homes, bags, packed homemade snacks, shoes, clothes, perfumes. An elderly couple from Kerala stood nearby, returning to their work life in Sharjah after a visit back home. I imagined the contents of their bags: his favorite mundu that he’s worn for decades, folded delicately alongside fragrant bags of cardamom tea from a Munnar trip. Her collection of gold bangles and jasmine hair oil passed down from her grandmother, wrapped protectively to withstand the long journey. Jars of homemade mango and wild jackfruit pickle, transported from her sister’s kitchen, jars of mango achaar wrapped protectively, reminding them of carefree childhood days playing hide-and-seek in jackfruit orchards. The aromatic coconut oil for their long, silver hair, conjuring images of mother braiding it lovingly each morning before school. His favorite tea leaves, recalling late nights on the veranda discussing life’s challenges and joys with his father. The taste of piping hot appams and vegetable stew, the sounds of temple bells and bicycle horns, the feel of fresh air from open paddy fields, the smell of fresh coriander powder in a mill. They chatted softly in Malayalam, no doubt reminiscing about their time back home. I pictured the memories their visit must have kindled – long, laughter-filled conversations on the back porch, the smell of beef fry and parottas at a late night thattukada.

Home is not a place, but the memories we carry in our hearts, feelings and nostalgia we carry within us. Regardless of where our travels take us, we bring pieces of home along through the flavors, sensations, people and stories that shaped our younger days.  No matter how far we travel, home remains alive within us through them.

Tastes of home

Home within you

the eager little learner

After all these years, it’s the little things that still make me smile I was going through some old files the other day, cleaning up and archiving documents from over the years. It always amazes me what you rediscover in such exercises. Buried between report cards from school and college was a small, well-worn book that immediately brought a wide grin to my face – my copy of “Animal Babies”. This book was given to me back in UKG, around 1995, by my teachers at a small convent school in a very rural area of Kerala. I had been recognized as the most hardworking student that year. Even at such a young age, their acknowledgment and appreciation meant the world to me. This tiny book, filled with colorful images and facts about baby animals, was their gift to commemorate that. Opening its pages after over two decades took me right back to being that eager little learner, soaking in every new piece of knowledge. The years may have passed but the joy of learning has stayed with me. I credit and value those blessed teachers, who saw potential where it wasn’t always obvious, encouraged a thirst for learning through both praise and little rewards. Their investment in students is what drives us to keep striving for more. It was touching to look at my name on the inside cover again. I thought of how I had treasured this book, reading it over and over until it started falling apart at the seams. Yet I never let it go, holding on to both the prize and the memory of the teachers who gave it. Their faith in my ability shaped who I became, pushing me to work conscientiously and never stop challenging myself. Memories and mementos from our childhood can have surprising longevity. As the years blur past, they anchor us to those defining early moments. For me, this little book is a living emblem of how far encouragement can take someone. I hope to pay it forward to younger generations coming up, just as my teachers did for me all those years ago. The Border of a Mind is for them. The same eager little learner is fueling this website and its words and its art. Blessed to have your glance at this post.

the fleeting dream

The Fleeting Dream : Original fne art from The Border Of a Mind

For a moment, assume you’re relaxing on the banks of a river on a beautiful spring day. Consider how a gentle wind cools and refreshes the air. Can you hear the gushing water? Can you notice the beautiful blossoms, each more beautiful than the last? Image yourself chatting to a beloved friend while admiring these beauty; imagine yourself inhaling the fresh perfume of the flowers in the air and listening to the pleasant singing of the birds. Imagine you are enjoying all of these feelings when you wake up and find yourself in bed (!). In such a circumstance, you would understand that all you thought was true was, in reality, a dream: a fabrication of your mind that abruptly evaded.
Let us now envision the identical circumstance after you have woken up. Assume you’re chatting to a close friend while taking in the views and sounds of a beautiful river.If you were asked, “which of the two would you prefer?” after having experienced both, you would of course say, “the one after I woke up.” The reason for this is that what happens in our dreams stays in our dreams and does not assist a person in real life. Nobody can really be sad for what he or she has lost in a dream since they know it has no bearing on actual life. No matter how much delight a person receives in a dream, it will never be as pleasurable as when he or she is awake and in the real world. Now, let’s question this “reality”.

In the same manner, this world’s existence is a dream, exceedingly brief and transient in comparison to an afterlife. What makes us so sure that we are currently not in a dream ? When you’re in a dream, you don’t realize that it’s a dream. The life of this world, which seems so real today, will soon come to an end, and your actual, everlasting existence will begin, similar to returning from the realm of the imagination to the real world upon waking from a dream. After our deaths, our “souls” would wake up from this “dream’ of “life”. This is an ultimate truth of this finite life of ours and it is truly magical.

The world is inside you.

Some of the other chapters from the Ponder Series that you can read on :

Perceiving Time
> Is it a dream ?
Ornate Blossoms
Visual Narrative – Ponder Series
Reflecting on Shadows
Stumble over Pebbles
Ethereal Quality | Petals
Golden Ratio
Vision – Pondering on the intricacies
Ruminating on Bird Nests
Living Embellishments
Pondering on Birds 


Encrust | Video

23 Apr 2022 – Time flies. It’s been one year. The little one who used to lie down with a smile on the craddle is now crawling and moving around. The year that passed has been one of trials and the little one really has been a hope, direction and solace for us. The clock of one year came about fast as we count the little milestones and look at awe on how he’s exploring the world around him. I fondly remember the day when I held him near the window and he was wrapped in a blanket sleeping most of the time and with ocassionaly priceless teethless smiles and glances and the lovely fossette on his cheeks when he smiles. So much development is packed into the last year as I write this. Ehan is now tinkering and exploring the details of the toys around at a much more deeper level now. He’s much more attentive towards the birds at the balcony. His little teeths are propping up. His little brain inside his fluffly hair is growing and his personality and emotions are slowly taking shape. With the will of God, as he grows up and blossom, and we celebrate each momentous milestone in awe and gratitude, this note would serve as a memory of my thoughts in this transitory phase. We love you, Ehan. Ever grateful to Almighty for all the blessings. Thank you Just Bakes by Parvathy Gosh for the beautiful artistic cake.


momentous imprints

momentous Imprints | Video

This is a humble effort to chronicle an endeavor to freeze a part of the time, a moment to reflect later. The hands and feet of my son cast at a time when he does not think of the future and is in a carefree state of mind. This is a work of art to remind of this time when this innocence leaves him to be free to enjoy himself as few adults can and to remind about this beautiful time which existed before being caught up in the fret of future when most adults leave their childhood behind. As a father, I gaze awestruck at how curious he is and this memory in my mind of him picking toys and little things by his tiny hand and tinkering with it and exploring them is so deeply engraved in my memory that I desired some sort of material realization of this time which will pass soon in a blink of an eye as he grows up so fast. This work of art graciously reminds us of the transitory nature of phases of the life of this world. Of course, photographs, old toys and dresses would bring back memories, but there’s something special with the aspects and details in a cast. Thanks to Imprintz by Srushti for crafting it to perfection with lot of care and love put into it with a stellar attention to detail.

“Writing, music, sculpting, painting, and prayer! These are the five things that are most closely related! Writers, musicians, sculptors, painters, and the faithful are the ones who make things out of nothing. Everybody else, they make things out of something, they have materials! But a written work can be done with nothing, it can begin in the soul! A musical piece begins with a harmony in the soul, a sculpture begins with a formless, useless piece of rock chiseled and formed and molded into the thing that was first conceived in the sculptor's heart! A painting can be carried inside the mind for a lifetime, before ever being put onto paper or canvass! And a prayer! A prayer is a thought, a remembrance, a whisper, a communion, that is from the soul going to what cannot be seen, yet it can move mountains! And so I believe that these five things are interrelated, these five kinds of people are kin.”
― C. JoyBell C.

Memory Museums

This piece of art is inspired by a theme that I’ve always pondered on. The museum of our “minds”. Albeit it sounds poetic, each of us are museums of memories. The richness of thoughts in those museums doesn’t need dusting. Jan Mark puts it into paper quite brilliantly.

Memory is your museum, your cabinet of curiosities, your ‘Wunderkammer.’ It will never be full; there is always room for something new and strange and marvelous. It will never need dusting. It will last as long as you do. You can’t let the public in to walk around it, but you can take out the exhibits and share them, share what you know. You will never be able to stop collecting.”

― Jan Mark, The Museum Book: A Guide to Strange and Wonderful Collections