I think these are similar ideas, if you get down and focus on what matters most in each. I’m not a worker worker, per se, as I have not held a day job since 2005. I wish I could say that this was easy peasy but it was work, actual work, to keep going in a way that felt the most honest, to me, personally. Which was to enjoy work. To enjoy making, to create and co-create, with just the handful of people whom I would choose, at any given moment, to make and create with me.


In a cafe in Aarhus that had a name that started with a ‘J’, where I met later with my friend A., who told me that it was strange to see me in his hometown instead of some back-alley guesthouse like where we had met in Kampot, Cambodia, which I could only understand when someone from my ‘other’ world came recently to the one I am, so yes, rambling sentence having completed itself. I shall carry on with my idea.

Which is me. To do that. To carry on with my idea. There in Aarhus I first heard it, from some art students: ‘What you are doing? It is relational art. Google it.’ And I did.

Work, for me, was this: to discover what good, no wait, what incredible ideas could be. Not ideas though. That’s not it, either. Finds. Feelings and finds that the feelings that I didn’t know I could have got… called up. The remarkable: have you read any of Nicholas Roerich‘s Invincible Now? It’s in there, and it’s in the lectures of J. Krishnamurhti, who said never to quote him, but whose lovely story about a birdsong being a lesson really moved me. And others I told it to. Including a professor, K., who had taught me a lot about life when we were both students.

I think going and seeing, discovering new ways, focusing on how to enjoy that which is yet to emerge is so, so incredible. Merging into it. Occasionally. Teaches me new things, too.

Art of Work is learning. For me, the work of art is to bring the outcomes to the fore.

Let’s go. Let’s get it.

The new, the near, the now, and the next.

To the journeys!

-Dipika K.

HT AP and KY

vignettes, writing

The work of art, the art of work



The quote in the image above feels right, for this moment.

I will put it into the Cojournal. More at the end about that. Talk there.




This last week, I got to really slow down and see the place where I am now with fresh eyes. It was lucky that I could, and did. Sometimes you need a little nudge to set things into alignment.

I got to go through some articulating, too, of difficult moments in the last 1.5 years. Most of this time I was processing the weird moment that was a 20-month ‘waiting indefinitely’ for the pandemic to ‘end’ while national borders kept me cut off from the people from my past, my culture, my home, my life. The one from ‘before Vietnam,’ anyway.

Out in Ho Chi Minh and before that Dalat, I had to forge a new life, out of thin air, resourcefulness, bartering, asking for help, grit, and the beautiful thing I discovered in only Vietnam when it comes to the remarkable capacity of people to band together and help each other. Neighbors. ‘In Vietnam, the word neighbor is more important than daughter,’ TL had said, over email. She was part of Atelier S P A C E in Dalat, the first few months after the borders closed in 2020 I was there, waiting, and gathering people for zinery. (Still at it, but virtually now.)

District 3 in HCM became a kind of base. Not that I will say I miss it, because it’s not my home, but it was familiar. The way mountains of a terrain you know after viewing it for a long period become familiar, or the hills of southwest Ireland can because you drive through the same ones at the same times for many days. See The Elopement.

Living in Solitude, I observed. I studied on my own. I listened and listened out for how to hear the sounds of Viet Nam. This was important because it helped me with survival. Yes, basics.

And I saw, too, a lot about collectivist culture’s up sides, having grown up in the United States which loves loves loves its ‘rugged individualism.’ That stuff will not get you home-cooked meals from across the street, secretly delivered tickets to get out and walk about when you feel so, so stuck, eggs that you can’t get without such tickets, free pineapples in the market because you’re really quite stuck and looking so, language lessons, shoulders to cry on, translation help for your zines, a fair exchange rate on dollars to dong at the jewelry place that knows you now and has a kid that reminds you of The Dive which is why you go there to give them your money, waves from your VinMart friend who sells cigarettes in front of it after lockdown lifts and oh that’s why you hang out here becomes obvious while you acknowledge each other, waves from the bakery person who you buy the same thing from, waves and even a joyful, teary goodbye from the person who prints your zine for you week after week after week after week and one time, a US election ballot.

I fell. I landed. I caught myself. I grew.




WHAT IS COJOURNAL? An ongoing conversation for people to meet, talk, and discover things together over emails. International, and asynchronous. It’s no more than four people per circle. Also, there are 12 prompts ready to go for you, and to get them, you can register through the link below.

COST. It’s USD $10/week, pay-as-you go. You can cancel anytime.

Here’s how to sign up.

Register with PayPal >

cojournal, writing



There are tons of people writing, and writing about writing, and instapoetry became a thing sometime in the last little while and here we all are, ‘expressing myself’ through writing.


‘Expressing oneself’. Such a cliche.

Why is writing for that? Why is art for that? I wonder if people can appreciate the idea that sometimes there’s no ‘output’ or ‘outcome’ or recognition or anything like that which is required.

I mean, occasionally, it’s just because.

Art for art’s sake, et al.

Let me expand on this.





My writing is for me, mostly, and for people I don’t know who vibe well with me, and it

Why have I been writing since I was six years old? Why is it part of my daily practice?

Why do I care about writing? Or is it something besides ‘writing,’ and beyond ‘expression.’ It is, I think.

Let’s go into why.

For me, at those early stages, in my adolescence especially, I felt like writing was a kind of home. It was where I could be, just be, honestly and completely, and utterly, and say anything.

It was good for me to have a place like that.

As I got older, I could write more and even send letters. I did send a lot of letters in the 90s. To find out. What was going on, within. Sharing with a recipient in mind helped me get more steady.

To articulate things, while building the practice and writing-endurance, let’s call it, you need. This matters so that later, the right words appear, and through that, then show you things. Specifics, of things about you that become more clear, with time. Practicing in this way, and learning your own best practice, through the process, you can clarify.

Through the clarification, then you can make better choices.

And through choices, which include deliberate motions away from either going outside of the boxes when that’s what’s best for you or taking chances and saying ‘yes’ when you don’t know the outcome, you can see who it is that you are becoming.

A friend in the cojournal project in 2015 had said she read something about that. The question to ask in life is:

Did you become yourself?


I like this.


cojournal, space, writing

Journaling and writing with others, in writing circles



I love this Tagore quote.

Butterflies and moments. Slowing down to recognize where we are and how we are doing, together, is very nice. I used this image when I first started up the series Mirror in 2018. I was in a small guesthouse in Melakka and it was the start of that year.



New reflections in Mirror

I like it. When we start talking and getting more and more connected because the topics are of interest to all of us; that’s why I have an application for it, so I know what to design for. And to. And it’s good. It also feels like a nice time to announce the next one. I’ll offer a free trial for it, this time. Internet is hard to trust lately and I understand. So here we are.

Mirror is 100% virtual. Used to be just email, but things are changing up a bit for the summer series because, well. Voice calls are nice. And we talk.

You can register for a free trial. It starts in May. Register your interest.

Here is a link.


More from there.

kismuth members, writing



There is a lot of stuff to write, today, about what I’ve been reading. Check that. What I used to read.

Things from the past. School texts, absorbed and unquestioned.

Whole patterns that have been debunked; like ‘left-‘ and ‘right-brained’ people. Apparently that’s not a thing, now. Apparently, Pluto’s not a planet, bread is not a food group, and the idea that if you work really hard you can ‘make it’, well. Let’s leave that one alone, given ‘The System’. Et al.

Naturally, doubts have encroached.

On the validity of the expertises of some; the agendas of others.


Maybe this older person who told me to go and read things online, in obscure texts, got me started on questioning everything. Then I posted about ‘Farce Media’ on KismuthBooks, the FB page. It was funny until it wasn’t; fake news got real.

I feel like there are so many stories, from the past, that I read and believed. But now I don’t. 

Ever feel that way?

Just thinking out loud.

This post continues in The Cojournal Project

cojournal, vignettes



Behind the scenes, we talk each week in The Cojournal, The Mirror, and S P A C E. To learn more, apply.


I found this lovely snippet from an article on Psych Centeral about what therapists learned from their clients.


This is the bit that stands out:


… explained how mindfulness practices were helping [client] cope…:


‘I realize now that it is as if in life,
‘the needle sets on a record album
‘the moment we are born and
‘continues to cycle as we live.

‘If we bring our awareness
‘to the past or to the future,
‘we scratch our record
‘and there is no music.

‘If we stay in the present moment,
‘we hear
‘the beauty
‘of our song.’


So lovely, isn’t it? Very self-aware, and poetic.
culture, found, pop psychology

‘We hear the beauty of our song’



This quote comes up a lot. In the conversations. Now I will join one… calls.





Bar Kismuth is opening, next month. Join the conversations over Zoom voice.

To participate, kindly register.

Here’s a link.




A Virtual Speakeasy



It is easy to get lost in loss.

The feelings are there, and you don’t know what to do with them, and grief overtakes you. I’ve written about childhood grief, and I’ve written about pregnancy loss that wasn’t quite as simple as it sounds due to a genetic anomaly.

I’ve also written about the loss of community and culture, (owing to often moving, whole continental shifts at times). People change. You change. We drift; it’s natural.



cojournal, essays



One of my favorite things to do is host an online writing workshop, called The Mirror.

It is a set of writing prompts, that also includes an interactive component.

There is a lot to say about the purpose of reflection, including the pandemic-related focuses on ‘what am I doing?’ and ‘what’s really important?’ bringing the importance of the big work of thinking clearly about one’s own self-knowledge into a sharper relief.

Learn more at my personal site, dipikakohli.com, and check ‘eWorkshops’.

apply to the mirror

books, vignettes

An anniversary: 37 years after the death of Air India Flight 182

June 23. It’s this day in 1985. That we lost the people who were on board Flight 182 of Air India. A plane called Kanishka.

My best friend was on that plane, along with her brother and her mother. It was the weirdest and most surreal feeling, ever, to see that story reported on national news. But we didn’t talk about it, out loud. We never did, at home. Emotional topics were not to be brought up, and ‘bad things’ cast aside, and ‘past is past’ invalidating anything close to an actual feeling. This is how childhood grief can solidify and stifle someone. I worked out some of that with people, years later. Another girl who, like me, was watching in horror as it all unfolded, us talking many years later, like the little kids still grappling with it that we, emotionally, still really were.



Many years later, I went to see the Air India Memorial in person and joined the service on this day that was held there, in Ahakista, with the kids playing their instruments and locals laying out foodstuffs on white tablecloths in the outdoor setting so we could all mark the moment together.  What a story. I wound up living in Ireland not far from there. I wound up seeing the black-and-white, three-d reality of the memorial. It was the closest I had had, til then, of closure. Because we ‘don’t get emotional,’ at home. Because of that. Closedness to the heart. At age 10 I stuffed away this pain. At the memorial, I could open that box and see what was in it. And there I found a part of myself that had been set aside for so, so long. The part that was still crying.


Writing Kanishka

I wrote the story Kanishka after visiting the Golden Temple in Amritsar and talking to Salim Jiwa, the author of the book The Death of Air India Flight 182. I also did a writing residency at a place in northern India, in Preetnagar, with some very excellent people including Poonam Singh. Who understood the nature of my e-query, to their first-iteration version of the residency program back then. I sent a note through the form, in which I asked if I could come and stay and write and listen to their angle on the things that had happened, which affected them, too. ‘Operation Blue Star…’ Unhesitatingly I was invited.  Then, Kanishka was published as a serial in Ms. Singh’s magazine, in 2015. As I learned at that time, it was to be the first-ever English-language series. That felt good, for this Punjabi-American, to hear.


Of childhood grief

It’s in my story, what I heard. It’s not a historical piece or a journalistic one, but it’s the story I could tell. As honestly and true and deeply as I could. The loss of my best friend, at age 10. In a terrorist attack on her airplane.




So I started a Note. It’s http://note.com/16z.

Why did I do this? It’s easy and simple. It’s not like keeping up the eight Tumblr accounts plus two twitters plus trying to ‘feed the machine’ that I was up to in the 2010s because, I guess, I thought that was important. (It was, in a way, because of SEO).

But so what.

Who needs long-tail search marketing to work. Who needs work. (Well.)

But Note. Is easy.

And so it begins, again.





‘If you are protecting yourself the whole time…’

A few excerpts today.

From The Atlantic…


‘Psychotherapist and Atlantic contributing writer Lori Gottlieb demystifies one of the vital components of a happy life: enjoyment. Gottlieb believes that we not only find it challenging to make time for day-to-day enjoyment, but also struggle to identify what it should feel like.’

There’s a part where older people in their 80s who are happy are described as having had rough times in their younger years. Gottlieb says, ‘I think that the reason that they’ve been through so much is because they engaged in life. So the people who want to protect themselves from pain or discomfort are the people who never really engage in life because they’re so busy protecting themselves to make sure that they’re not going to experience anything that feels bad, right? And so then they never put themselves out there. They never take any risks.

‘And when you take risks, sometimes, you know, there’s going to be pain involved. And sometimes there’s going to be great joy involved. But if you are protecting yourself the whole time you didn’t really live; you’re not fully alive. And so maybe you think you protected yourself, but you end up feeling very unsatisfied, very kind of empty and lonely.’

‘I think it needs to be specific, not just “have fun.” It’s getting in touch with how you have fun. A lot of people don’t even know how they have fun anymore. As adults, they grow up. They forget what fun looks like, because they’re so busy with all of their responsibilities and then all of the things they think they need to be doing. And they don’t realize, first of all, how they’re spending their time.’