Want to 'Live Smart'? Author Teja Lele has 100 Hacks For A Happier And Healthier Life
At a time when we’re all gung-ho about sustainability, why not take the time out to become self-sustainable?
That’s the question Live Smart: 100 Hacks aims to answer.
Written by Teja Lele and published by Harper Collins, this informative book packs in tips, hacks, and DIY solutions for everyday problems with illustrations that help navigate the how-to-do-it in a step-by-step manner.
Speaking to YS Life, Teja speaks about the idea behind the book.
“During the pandemic, we were all reading about how everyone was DIYing literally every other day--baking banana bread, whipping Dalgona coffee, giving their first haircut, and more,” she says. “All sorts of questions were being asked of Google and I thought of putting all the basic hacks together in a single place.”
Teja, who graduated as an architect, has been an editor for 20 years. Currently a Consulting Editor at YourStory, she has worked at The Indian Express and Mindworks Global for brands like South China Morning Post and The Miami Herald, and written extensively on travel and lifestyle for leading magazines and newspapers.
Being locked in amid the lockdown led her to pick up the pen, which ultimately led to the birth of her “pandemic baby”.
Doing things by yourself may now be the thing, but it ain’t easy going down that road as most of us have been used to outsourcing most domestic and home-related work for generations.
“The pandemic showed many of us how important it was to be able to sustain ourselves–and our lifestyles–without any outside help. Adulting means no one can ‘coulda, woulda, shoulda’. They ‘gotta’. The doable ideas and simple tips make it easy to get by,” Teja says.
She adds that her longstanding interest in DIY and making things from scratch was the deciding factor for “why this book–and why this topic”. The DIYs span home, kitchen, beauty, health & wellbeing, and reuse & recycle.
But in an era of YouTube videos and DIY reels, why should people take to a book to solve their everyday problems?
“Simply because Live Smart brings together a variety of insights, tips, how-tos, recipes, and hacks–all aimed at helping you live a healthier and happier life,” Teja says.
“There’s no need to explore videos and reels and get sucked into a morass of more videos and reels, which is what usually happens. This book provides 100 actionable hacks–be it making pasta from scratch, putting together a green cleaner or a natural beauty product, recycling odds and ends, or dealing with minor ailments,” she adds.
The author believes that the pursuit of a self-sufficient lifestyle may not be easy, but living smarter is a skill that can be learned and honed–and can lead to a better standard of living, and a healthier, more rewarding lifestyle.
An official hoarder, one who puts things away for “someday” and “some use”, she also decided to include ideas on how to reuse and recycle the smallest of things–the Amazon shopping boxes, the old towel that you just can’t bring yourself to throw away, fruit and vegetable peels that were going to bin, and single socks that seem useless. And reduce your personal carbon footprint alongside.
“According to a World Bank report, India is the world’s highest waste-generating nation. Each Indian generates more than 600 gm of waste per day, well below the US average of 2.24 kg per person, but combine that with our population–we’re looking at a garbage explosion,” Teja says.
That’s why it’s important to tackle every bit of garbage that goes out of your home–by following the 7 Rs: reusing, reducing, recycling, repurposing, rethinking, refusing, and rotting (composting).
She also talks about how COVID-19 kept us away from salons and medical experts, which led to adding the beauty and health sections. “It’s easy to make your beauty and cleaning products at home–they are chemical-free, mightily effective, and good for the environment,” Teja says.
“And across India, dadima ke nuskhe have been used to deal with minor ailments and health issues for long, but not many of us know them. What would you do if you had a niggling toothache or a sore tummy. Turns out your kitchen shelf may have the medicine.”
What are the top 5 hacks that everyone needs to know?
“Choosing one from each section, I would say how to give CPR, how to purify water, how to give a killer facial massage, how to reuse fruit and vegetable peels, and how to unplug a clogged toilet,” she says. “It may sound gross, but it’s a life skill everyone must know.”
In a world where almost everything we need is available at a click or a swipe, it’s important to be self-sufficient–read atmanirbhar–so that life doesn’t stop if the plumber, electrician, carpenter, or cook doesn’t stop by. “Live Smart aims to help everyone do that,” she says.
The DIY culture is on the rise in India, with millennials and Gen Z interested in doing things their own way while keeping the planet in mind. Ergo, it’s hello to crafting and creating; bye-bye to calling in help. As of now, DIY is marketed in India as being fun and creative; abroad, the convenience and cost savings are selling factors. But the times, they’re a-changing as more Indians climb on to the DIY bandwagon.
What comes next? Teja is working on a children’s book at present and plans to start her first work of fiction after that.
The list of her favourite authors is long and includes Agatha Christie, JK Rowling, and childhood favourite Enid Blyton (despite the bad rap she gets now). “I used to only read fiction, but I really liked Atomic Habits, The Psychology of Money, and When Breath Becomes Air,” Teja concludes.
Edited by Megha Reddy