Constant efforts to provide better opportunities to enable their kids to learn and lead a life at par with any other person coupled with anxiety about “what after us” defines the lives of autistic parents.
“I LISTEN”: A MOVEMENT TO PROMOTE MENTAL HEALTH AND THE VALUE OF LISTENING
In today’s fast-paced world, distractions from smartphones and digital devices can make it challenging for individuals to fully focus and give their attention to others in face-to-face interactions. Recognizing the deteriorating power of listening, I have started a movement called “I Listen” on my counselling and coaching profile, aimed at creating a culture of compassionate listening and raising awareness about mental health.
“I Listen” is more than just a slogan or a campaign; it is a mindset of being present for others with empathy, understanding, and without judgment. It emphasizes truly hearing someone with our hearts and minds, creating a safe space where individuals can share their thoughts and feelings without fear of dismissal.
The idea behind “I Listen” is simple but powerful: to prioritize listening as an essential element of mental health support. It acknowledges that sometimes what people need the most is someone who will listen, without trying to fix or advise, but simply be present and hold space for their emotions.
Recognising mental health is a vital aspect of overall well-being, “I Listen” seeks to destigmatize mental health challenges and create a culture where individuals feel comfortable opening up about their struggles. This movement is inclusive and encourages everyone to participate regardless of background, age, or profession. It is a call to action for individuals to be mindful of the power of listening in their interactions with others, fostering empathy and understanding in all relationships.
As the initiator of this movement, I pledged in the following manner:
I listen. I value.
Forget for a moment that I am a counsellor or coach. Instead, think of me as someone who will listen to you and value your emotions.
I am a compassionate and empathetic listener who genuinely cares about the well-being of others. Creating a safe and non-judgmental space for people to share their deepest thoughts and emotions is not just a skill of mine, but it comes naturally to me. I am always willing to lend an ear whenever someone needs to talk. I understand the power of active listening and the importance of validating people’s feelings. I am committed to helping others feel seen, heard, and understood.
If you need to pour your heart out, you can do so with me. Don’t hesitate to book a 1:1 call with me now!
A tab at Chiradeep’s Profile, powered by Topmate
How do you want to commit to the cause I am inviting you to join?
I want “I Listen” to gain momentum and serve as a reminder that small acts of listening can make a big difference. There should be a ripple effect of what I started. It should not be contended to my profile or skill set only. I want you to speak the same language and say, “I Listen.”
Friends! I invite you to join the “I Listen” movement and make a commitment to be present, compassionate listeners for those who may be going through a tough time.
UNDERSTANDING COGNITIVE DISTORTIONS
I believe my previous experience as a non-professional counsellor and life coach was a training period for the present when I could capitalise on what I had learned over the years. What a wonderful feeling it was to discover that what I had been suggesting to people was also being used in CBT Techniques, albeit more systematically and professionally.
Cognitive distortions are irrational, inaccurate, or unhelpful thought patterns that can contribute to a variety of mental health issues such as anxiety, depression, and low self-esteem. Identifying cognitive distortions can be extremely beneficial to a counsellor in treating his or her clients.
Identifying and challenging cognitive distortions is an important part of cognitive-behavioural therapy (CBT), a type of psychotherapy that helps people change negative thinking and behaviour patterns.
Cognitive distortions can manifest themselves in a variety of ways, but some common examples include:
All-or-nothing thinking: Seeing everything in black and white, with no grey area. For instance, believing that a mistake equals total failure or that someone is either all good or all bad.
Overgeneralization: It is the process of reaching broad conclusions based on a single event or experience. For example, believing that one bad day indicates that everything is going wrong, or that one rejection indicates that you will never succeed.
Mind reading: Assuming, without evidence, that you know what others are thinking or feeling. For instance, assuming someone dislikes you based on their body language or tone of voice.
Catastrophizing: It is the assumption that the worst-case scenario will occur and that you will be unable to handle it. For example, assuming that a minor mistake will result in termination or that a disagreement with a friend will result at the end of the friendship.
Personalization: Taking responsibility for things over which you have no control or assuming that things are about you when they are not. Assuming, for example, that someone’s bad mood is the result of something you did, or that a traffic jam is a personal attack.
This is not just a proven theory that I learnt or heard about but I have experienced it in my life as well. When a person is aware of their cognitive distortions, they can start challenging them and replacing them with more adaptive thought patterns. This can result in symptom reduction, improved emotional regulation, and an overall improvement in mental health and well-being.
Furthermore, assisting clients in identifying and challenging cognitive distortions can boost their sense of agency and control over their own thoughts and emotions. Patients are empowered to take an active role in their own mental health and well-being when they are taught how to recognize and manage cognitive distortions.
Do you possess any cognitive biases? To have a mind free from all the clutter and clouds of such negativities, identify them and uproot them immediately.
(Book a 1:1 counselling session with me HERE.)
HOW WE LIVE THE TIME
Man is subjected to time. For everything, there is a season, and a time for every activity and everything is beautiful in its own time. Does it mean we need to wait for the right time for everything to fall into its place? If it’s so, then why do we worry about life, relationships, career, and the future? Why is it necessary to plan ahead of time?
As I think along these lines, I am reminded of many of my failures and a few of my successes in managing time wisely. Today as we completed the 3rd year of one of the historical days of this generation, we are reminded “how we human beings are bound by time!” Somehow or other, each of our lives has been greatly impacted when we took some major decision maybe in a fraction of a second before our nation went into nationwide lockdown.
23rd March 2020 was a slow but normal day until I reached the office. As I reached, I got the news West Bengal state will go for unprecedented lockdown from 5 pm. I just got one window to exit Kolkata by the last flight. Hurriedly, I finished my important work at the office and reached my room, packed my bag, and left for the airport in 35 min. I reached the airport at 4:45 pm and joined the long queue for the security check. Quietly watching everyone struggling to put on their masks and reading the fear of life in every flyer’s eyes left me with one thought – “If I would have delayed 15 mins. What would have happened to me!”
In leadership sessions, we are taught “Plan and Work in time.” Recently, I got an appointment with an influential senior journalist in my city. We agreed to meet at a convenient time, but my delay of 30 minutes at the beginning of the day resulted in considerably less time spent with the journalist. Planning is easy but tunning with the time for the activity causes fruitfulness.
A man reaps what he sows. Concerning every relationship, growth is caused by consistent communication and sincere love. And the root of both the investment is the demand for time. The pathos of this hour is we are the generation that empowered communication in the smartest way ever possible YET WE ARE TREMENDOUSLY DISCONNECTED THAN THE BEFORE GOOGLE GENERATION! India is witnessing a rise of 50% to 60% in divorce rates, especially in urban areas. And the prime reason is the lack of intimacy caused by being unable to spend quality time and meaningful conversation. Taking it further, on the 15th of February 2022 MoW&CD reported, 1,42,949 children in India are suffering from single parenting. Compromising with the time to cause the relationship to grow has the greatest possibility to backfire even for generations.
We are created and are ordained within a specific time frame which denotes our life is destined for a purpose. YET, God gave us the freedom to choose and invest our time as we wish to. An exposed human body in optimum conditions can be reduced to the bone in mere 10 days and after our death, overall, in a few months or hardly in a year our most beloved people juggle back to normal life. How true is it, time waits for none! BUT… The purpose for which we lived our life and the message we left by the date of death cause glory to God and sets the tune to our legacy.
“There’s a time to be intimate in learning about something or someone.
Its failure causes confusion. Man is subjected to time and sadly, nothing happens off the time.”
THE MORAL OF THE STORY….
Yet another page from the mother-daughter diary
“Mom, please tell me a story and put me to sleep,” my daughter requested. It’s a part of our routine. Sometimes I read folk tale books, and sometimes I play bedtime stories on YouTube (when I have a lot of things to wind up and anxiety kicks in thinking of the remaining agenda). But there are times when she demands stories freshly cooked up. She also hands me a few specifications, like certain characters, names of the characters, certain habits, and so on. Trust me, she plucks fruits of imagination from La La Land and lets me feast on some of the juiciest fruits. Once ingredients are given to me, the onus is on my shoulders to serve her with an enjoyable story, laced with a moral, of course.
So this time she wanted me to tell her a jungle story with a baby elephant named Daisy as the central character. To weave stories instantly is a difficult task, but parenting comes with additional features. Either you end up being a pro at multitasking or you nevertheless end up doing the job somehow. I fall into the second category. Let me go straight to the story. Don’t worry, I won’t make you fall asleep (the purpose of a bedtime story), and I will keep it short.
Daisy moved to a new jungle colony. Monkeys inhabited the area in large numbers. Daisy was delighted to make new friends. Her days would pass loitering around in the jungle, exploring every nook and corner while her friends were busy scaling high trees. Her mother was upset with how Daisy spent her days, doing nothing productive compared to her friends. “Why don’t you learn anything from your friends?” “You can give climbing a tree at least a try.” “You are giving me a lot of tension, mind you” her mother’s rant would go on and on. She even made Daisy participate in the area’s annual monkeys race. Daisy failed and failure has to some extent stirred resentment in her.
Daisy’s parents had to go to a nearby colony. They entrusted Daisy’s responsibility to neighbours. Everyone assembled on the ground, having general chit-chat. A rabbit named Bonny came running, breathing heavily. He had dreadful news to share. “Guys, I overheard hunters in the nearby fields; they are going to launch an attack on our colony.” “We need to think and act fast,” Bonny said, distressed. The gloom was in the air. As he was still speaking, a shot was fired into the air, setting off chaos. Monkeys were rushing to find a cover. A few of them were hopping on the treetops to locate the exact location of the hunters. Amid the chaos, Daisy considered using her strength to resolve the situation and help others as well. Creating hurdles for hunters, she uprooted trees and flung them over. That would buy time for escaping. A coordinated effort helped Daisy and her friends escape the hunters’ trap.
When Daisy’s parents returned, they learned about the entire fiasco. They were proud when everyone in the colony praised Daisy. Her mother patted Daisy’s back with her trunk. “I’m proud of you, dear,” she whispered. Daisy smiled and said, “But mom, I couldn’t climb trees as you would have liked it.” “I am sorry for that,” she said, leaving the place, leaving her mother pondering over her behaviour when she constantly compared her daughter to others.
As soon as I finished the story, my daughter made a quick remark. “Daisy’s mother is none other than you. You compare me to my cousins.“
When I made up this story, I knew that she was smart enough to find real-life references, though I wasn’t creative enough. I replaced fish with elephants. Yes, as much as I boast of being a cool Gen X parent, I am sometimes guilty of being an anxious and overly enthusiastic parent. I have no shame in admitting that I do compare my kids to others (sometimes). When I notice my daughter repeating the same calculation mistake every three days, the paranoia kicks in. A matrix of future scenarios’ permutations and combinations dangles in front of me. I end up giving her examples of her cousins who have a vast syllabus compared to her and a rigid education system.
But going back in time, I, and perhaps a majority of 80s and 90s kids, have witnessed a similar kind of parenting style (talking about the Indian scenario; I am not aware of how things were then in the rest of the world or, say, outside of Asia). Blame it on the cutthroat competition in every field, parents compare their kids (mostly academically) to their peers. My mother, being not highly educated herself, always dreamed of giving her kids a good education. The only way she thought was right was to keep track of our marks and tally them with our friends. Whenever I used to have a bad examination, nervousness would consume me. Nervousness about how to convey how badly I fared at the exam and the results that followed I used to share my woes with my brother. He had a perfect solution up his sleeves. He used to say, “Simply say that you did well, and when the results are announced, you can have your share of reprimand from mom. Why double your trouble?” Fortunately, things changed when I started my graduation. My mom no longer compared my results; rather, she started to believe in the process of learning, that is, to understand the concept. More importantly, she believed in me and said that I was responsible enough to take care of my studies. A breath of fresh air! And, happy to say that I lived up to it.
So can you blame me for the occasional “look at them” behaviour? (Ideally, you can; I am guilty and have no qualms accepting the same.) But I have been privy to such an environment, and it makes its presence felt in my thought process sometimes.
Coming back to my situation, I train my brain not to fall into the temptation of making comparisons of any sort. But as the flawed character I am, I do fumble sometimes. I compare myself with other successful women (the definition of success is debatable). I have a specific set of problems, and the people I compare myself to have their sagas and woes to share. But everything becomes opaque to me, and I turn a blind eye to the obvious. This is where self-doubt takes good control over my senses and abilities as well. I want to make special mention of my husband’s role here. He never compared kids to others, for he had the same experience as mine as a kid. According to him, comparison connotes pain and misery. He is convinced that such a juxtaposition elicits (most of the time) negative emotions. It kills confidence. He clearly stated, “I wouldn’t mind even if my daughter decides to be a worker with the garbage cleaning department as long as she is happy and an honest person.” (As a child, she expressed an interest in becoming a garbage collector. Now her favourite jobs have changed for a while. He got his priorities straight, I must say. A lot to learn from him.
Let’s have a broader perspective:
Is comparison completely evil? Or can it be a tool to leverage better performance? The impact of comparison on our lives depends on how we are applying it. I believe we can not completely do away with comparison. It is omnipresent on both micro and macro levels, essentially dealing with quantifiable things. The purpose is to improve. We are a part of the social fabric, and comparison among us seeps through at one or the other point. If used as a tool of introspection, it paves a way for implementing a concrete plan of action to reach the goal. Comparison is a tool to leverage introspection only if we are ready to accept our weaknesses, identify our strengths and prepare a unique path to tread. We shall be able to enjoy the process of learning (from others) and understanding (ourselves). Customization is the key because of the uniqueness of every handler who is using comparison to optimize the results. Precisely every journey, destination and path is different. But what if the element of customization (understanding our own circumstances) is missing? You are either blindly fancying or ranting about someone somewhere in a better position and messing up with your own life. In my mother tongue, Telugu, there is a saying that translates to: “A fox burned its skin to have the look (stripes) of a tiger.” The underlying meaning is to imitate someone by being in their place or position. It will only lead to pain. If the purpose of weighing or comparing oneself is to achieve acceptability, to meet certain notions and standards, then pushing the envelope to reach there can lead to irreversible losses. For example, fashion influencers do a fashion haul every two days. They purchase clothes from brands and showcase (read: show off) them to gain traction online. The vanity of such behaviours rubs off on their primary target audience, which is young people. The clock of comparison ticks, “Let me get the same dress.” “Let me lay my hands on the same brands.” “I need to amp up my wardrobe just like the influencer/star.” Their actions therein without assessing their needs and circumstances could have rather serious implications. They could be mental, financial, and, in this particular case, environmental as well. Case study of how fashion haul impacts the environment: READ HERE
That is one off-beat example (out of the context of the current conversation).
Conclusion (moral of the story):
Comparison in a jungle colony as Daisy’s is completely futile undoubtedly. But for homo sapiens, the tool of comparison could be either useful or frivolous. It all depends on the acceptance of the conditions, the enjoyment derived from learning and carving a unique path to reach the goal. The aim of comparison should be to induce betterment and not to belittle or make one feel miserable.
Last but not the least, I shouldn’t be giving this heavy speech to my 7-year-old daughter. I better stop comparing her to others, for she is precious and carries her own set of capabilities. Mindfulness mode should be on default mode. For myself, I must concentrate on the path, customization you know!
MY ONLY TRIP TO A FOREIGN LAND
Travel has always been my favourite thing, regardless of the mode of transportation. I’ve always enjoyed bus rides, but the views I get to see on a train ride make it even more enjoyable. And a car ride gives me the feeling that I’m about to embark on an adventure. Those who know me are probably wondering what I’m on about… Yeah, I couldn’t travel as much as I wanted to because of my health, but I treasured each travel experience in my heart and mind as a memoir.
One of these memoirs was about my trip to North Bengal, and from where I visited the only foreign country in my life.
Kamakhyaguri was home to a school run by the organisation I was working for in Kolkata. In most cases, people confuse this name with either Kamakhya Nagar in Odisha or Kamakhya Temple in Guwahati, Assam. But it is a tiny settlement in North Bengal’s Jalpaiguri district.
The 18-hour trip to Kamakhyaguri was always both exhausting and enjoyable. The main draw for passengers in trains passing through those places was the hawkers selling cheap electronic goods from Nepal and Bhutan. But they also won’t let you close your eyes for even a second during the entire trip. On that trip, the yelling of a hawker selling sarees woke me up from sleep at around three in the morning. I shouted at him asking, “At three in the morning, who will purchase your sarees? Don’t you see that everyone is asleep?” But he walked past my berth as nonchalantly as he could.
After lunch, we rested because the train ride had been exhausting. I later became busy with the task for which we had travelled there. On the third and final day of our stay, my colleague, the school’s principal, organised a trip to Jaigaon to witness the tea gardens. We were ecstatic. Around eleven in the morning, we all piled into his car and decided we will have lunch there.
The lush tea gardens stole my heart as we got closer to Jaigaon. In my entire life, I had never seen such a breathtaking sight. Even when Jaigaon’s roads were terrible, the surrounding greenery made me forget about them.
Then came the biggest surprise. My colleague and the guide of the trip announced that we will enter Bhutan soon, crossing the border.
“What? You mean, India and Bhutan border, seriously?” I couldn’t believe my ears. He smiled and nodded.
“What about the visa? I don’t have one, will they allow us in?” That was my next question to him. Then he explained how the people of both countries are allowed in each other’s territory to a certain extent without any visa as there’s always been peace between these two countries from the beginning.
“That would be my first foreign trip, then?” I asked joyously. He answered in the affirmative.
We soon passed through the gate separating Bhutan and India. The stark contrast between the regions on either side of the gate amazed me. Despite the fact that India is much more developed than Bhutan in every way, Phuentsholing, was much more beautiful and clean than Jaigaon.
We entered Bhutan, parked in the market area, and I recall purchasing two cups as a memento of our visit to Phuentsholing. After eating Momo, a dish from Nepal, for lunch, we drove inside to do some sightseeing. Before heading back, we paused at the main checkpoint to explore that region of Bhutan.
The experience was a beautiful one and a special one too for me because that was the only time I stepped out of India to a foreign country in my life.
LESSONS FROM BIRDS
They’re not bothered
by the chaos and dangers all around them.
As the fearless rangers
They’re known for living within their ‘joyous frame’.
Neither they lack enthusiasm
while they fly high in the blue skies,
Nor do they lack the zeal or passion
to feed their little ones while listening to their hungry cries.
They teach us to be carefree and passionate
amid life’s troubles and worries.
They impart the lesson of happiness
which even the smallest thing carries.
WHY DO WE FEEL BORED?
In the past year or so, a lot has changed. At times, I find myself questioning whether I am making progress or getting sidetracked by the numerous distractions around me. Although I am eager to pursue various endeavours, I sometimes neglect to ask myself a crucial question: “Are all these activities beneficial for me?” If they do indeed hold value in my life, I am failing to prioritize them correctly. A prime example is Candles Online, which I consider my brainchild. While I have nurtured it to some degree, I feel like an irresponsible parent, abandoning my teenager to their own devices. This leads me to wonder, “Where does Candles Online rank on my list of priorities?”
Lack of Focus:
This year, 2023 began on a very dull note for me. Everywhere, wherever I have a profile on the internet, the concluding line is, “right now I am mainly concentrating on writing books“. But it’s the fifth day of February and I haven’t published even a single book yet.
Boredom is a psychological condition that reflects a real-life situation in which we are not engaged by the activity we are performing or by the environment that surrounds us. When we feel bored, the time usually passes slowly and we have a hard time staying focused.
I quoted this statement from an article “The Psychology of Boredom” by Simone Redaelli on one of my favourite sites – Psychology Today. I was happy to know Mr Simone thinks exactly how I thought about my feeling. When I have my priorities set and I am focused on achieving something special, then I am sure I won’t be bored. So lack of focus is one of the reasons behind boredom.
Lack of Motivation:
What motivates us mostly? Praise from family and friends, applause, popularity, productivity and financial benefits are the factors that motivate us. Without these even if we have a vision or goal to achieve we feel bored in the middle of our journey.
I and a few of my friends authored a couple of books individually. We were ecstatic when we published. We sent shout-outs, shared the links to our books frantically and spent money on promotions as well. We received the tag, “Published Author” and applause from friends, family members etc., but as time passes we felt demotivated. At least, I did feel that way. Our books hardly gave us anything in regard to any financial benefits. I consider this to be the second reason for my boredom.
Lack of End-Results:
I usually don’t worry about how much money I received or earn if I am getting good feedback about what I am doing or producing for the people around me. I was delighted when my books were read by many and a few started giving their feedback without even asking them. But there were people, the loved ones, who didn’t even read the full book even if they bought it or got it from me. Forget about my book getting a bestseller tag, which I am not expecting. But what I have been expecting is feedback on Amazon or in person from the people who own a book written by me. And this end result of my published book utterly disappointed me and I am bored.
Did I say, I am dwelling in my boredom? Not at all. I have overcome it and have started my war against it. But how did I do that? Maybe next Sunday, I will share it with you all.
OF THE OLD YEAR AND THE NEW
In rushed twenty twenty-two
Close on the heels of twenty twenty-one
Raising hopes of good tidings
Of love, joy, fulfillment and cheer
Now as it bids us adieu
It’s the time to reflect what gifts it offered me and you
While at the threshold of yet another year with promises anew
Ponder awhile how the year of old has seen you through
Humble learnings from every pain
Heartfelt gratitude for every gain
Submissive acceptance for every loss
With many plannings having gone for a toss
Forgiveness for every inflicted hurt
Even though the heart within burnt a lot
Faith – when nothing was in sight
And tempests raged with all their might
Handing over the baton to twenty twenty-three
The year of old gently whispers ‘The race is not over yet’
There’s still much in store
On the pathway to the golden shore
Your Creator promises His presence by your side
Persuading you to keep all anxieties aside
As you welcome another brand new year
That in a few hours would soon appear
A QUESTION THAT KEPT ME AWAKE
Just another day, another page from mother-daughter diaries: A few days back I was having a regular “to/before bed” conversation with my daughter, who was as usual raring to go with her canon of questions. From her “Why, Who, What, When, and How” kitty she pulled out a gem that set my mind on a quest for I was unable to provide her with a convincing answer. And before I could answer her, she slept but I couldn’t stop thinking. Introspection ensued. Her question was “What is the most important thing in this world?”
The world is going in a loop – needs once fulfilled are replaced by wants, and once wants are also satiated heart wanders to new avenues to spread its wings, to know, to explore, to get, and the cycle continues. This is how we witnessed advancements in human history, be it territorial expansions of kingdoms or the technological amelioration that we are enjoying. Lives (perhaps lifestyles) have definitely been improved. Now let’s focus on an analogy: Imagine the world to be an airplane propelled by the fuel of desires, and dreams to perch higher and higher, scaling new altitudes of success with every flight. What would happen to the aircraft if the coolant is missing, if the fuel is adulterated with impurities or if it doesn’t have a ground to land on? The fire ignited to provide an elevation might devour the entire structure, isn’t it? Coolant here is satiation and content. Impurity is greed that when mixed with the fuel of dreams/desires can clog the entire machinery dooming the flight. Peace is the runway that every flight needs when it lands on its wheels of love and compassion utilizing the shock absorbers of realization, enlightenment, and wisdom. Well, that might seem to be quite a convoluted explanation. I shifted my focus to a handful of examples from human history:
- Before King Ashoka of the Mauryan Empire became Ashoka the great and he resorting to Buddhism, spreading the message of peace all over he was like any other tyrant king whose purpose was to conquer and amass strength. It was after the Kalinga war, the massacre rendered by his own army shook him to the core and he retracted from his old ways and accepted Buddhism to trend the path of peace.
- Before England was one country, there was a long trail of blood and gore where innumerable innocent lives were sacrificed to ever-rising flames of power hunger and ego. It was Alfred the Great (King of the West Saxons from 871 to c. 886 ) who had nurtured a vision of unifying the war marred land and establishing peace so that lives could thrive and prosper in every manner. Ironically blood was the price that was paid but nonetheless in the end after many decades his dream did come true (Athelstan, grandson of King Alfred was the first king of unified land called England).
- European Union is a great example of modern history where different countries agreed to set aside their bitter rivalries, and make amendments for the larger betterment of people suffering the aftermath of world war. The EU was originally created with the aim of ending the frequent and bloody wars between neighbours, which culminated in the Second World War. The Schuman Declaration, which encouraged the establishment of the European Coal and Steel Community, laid the foundation for the European Union as we know it today (source: Google)
These are a few examples from medieval and modern history where the world has to finally resort to peace for the longevity, and prosperity of human beings.
Is the peace absolute or just a pact? The ground of peace has been purchased at a hefty price of numerous sacrifices, amendments and clauses, and a mutual understanding/ respect of territories and boundaries. And the fear of breach begets flexing muscle power in a bid to maintain the status quo. The recent example (in my petty knowledge) of Indo-China border tension speaks volumes about the price that nations have to pay for attaining peace. In my hindsight, I believe it’s more of a pact and order that the world is following to avoid disarray and disaccord. The bliss of absolute peace is still at bay.
Fulcrums to the Peace that we need: Compassion, satiation, actions motivated and guided righteously, and enlightenment – these are the fulcrums to leverage the peace in every human being and thereon at a macro level. I understand that this statement is quite a beaten one over and over but a truth that we deliberately or otherwise ignore. A petty example: We casually body shame or mock people for their weaknesses under the pretext of lighter note fun. We have no idea and literally don’t care about the negative impact we possibly could create on the other person’s mind, what havoc such a mockery is capable of creating in the longer run, and how it messes with the sanity of one’s mind. We avoid and hate “crime” that is punishable under a law that is documented. And those that are not, we make our souls obscure to nature’s unwritten law of embracing the differences. With oppressed, raging, and conflicting souls, where is the peace?
The whole night I spent introspecting if my answer is right if peace is indeed the most important thing the world needs right now? In the morning I asked my daughter if she has an answer to her question from the last night, and she smiled as she said “Yes I know the most important thing in this world – “You & Me”. And that kept me thinking again….
ARE YOU ADAPTING OR FORCED LIVING?
The adaption chapter in school text book used to be my favourite when I was a kid. I used to enjoy studying about the animals and birds who try their best to adapt to the situation or environment they are in. And those who are successful in the process of adaptation survive and live on, but the others face death.
Isn’t it the same way about us who try to fit in a social setup, a family, a college, a workplace? We try to get accustomed or adapted to the rules, the way of living and thinking of the people in that setup. And after a certain period of time, we become one of them. Sometimes it works the other way around. The individual who comes into a group of people influences so much they get adapted to his or her ways. Whichever way it is, adaptation brings peace and harmony.
On the other hand, when we try to force ourselves to fit into a group or family or gathering either we struggle to continue for sometime or simply quit. When we don’t have the desire to adapt we can’t adapt. When we can’t adapt, we force and pretend. At some point of time, we even rebel against our given environment or situation. Life becomes really tough for the person resisting to adapt.
That’s why Jennifer Guttman Psy.D. says rightly, “Adaptation is a natural next step in personal growth.”
Most common example that I can give is about a newly wed bride who comes to a new family. The quicker she mingles or adapts in the family, the easier it becomes for her to live amidst them. Though adaptation should happen both ways. Frictions are inevitable when we interact with one another, but there won’t be any conflicts if there’re people adapting to each other quickly.
There are a few quick symptom trackers to analyse a person adapting or force living. A person who finds it easy to take a NO from the other person, he or she is adaptable or adapting. But when he or she makes a fuss out of it is not ready to adapt or accept the situation around him or her. If it continues for over a period, he or she leads her/his life forcibly. Insecurity, grumbling and complaining are major indicators of a person force-living instead of adapting in a family or workplace or any other social group. Force-living always brings unhappiness and frustration but adaption brings togetherness and ownership.
A word of caution before I end this article: Always try to get adapted to things that are positive, good and godly because adapting to evil is quicker and dangerous.
So friends! Are you adapting well or struggling and force-living? Keep pondering…
I cannot describe the feeling, when I come across a person who can just “airlift” me to a whole different level, just by their sheer presence or a simple candid conversation over a phone line.
Some of us call it having a deep conversation, I like to call them ‘intellectually stimulating conversations’ because not only are we just brushing the surface, which generally happens at the beginning of any conversation, it is when we find the #MeToo’s, is when a person realizes…hold on, there’s more to US here….and the more we talk, the more we get to know small facts about the other person – and
right there – you feel closest to that other person. I know it coz I’ve felt it.
Have you ever felt at that very moment, that you wish you could pull that person out of a screen or your phone and give that person a ‘big hug’? ..and though I’ve never actually said it in actual words, Yes, I’ve fallen in Love – with ‘you’ – there’s LOVE right there…that moment, that person, the exchange…. and the best part: it just happens, all we can do is enjoy the feeling.
…and probably this is why it is always said “A Boy and a Girl can never be ‘just’ friends” – I’m still trying to wrap myself around that statement, on the one hand, I want to believe that sentence makes total sense, however on the other side, it sounds wrong on so many levels. I guess that’s also how the term ‘Unrequited Love’ was originated.
I’ve read somewhere on the internet, that when two people kiss or indulge in the physical act of love, is when people exchange energies with each other, what about when people talk then? A whole lot of exchange is done here too….and at much higher speed and bandwidth, It is one heart directly connecting with another – how does one explain a smile appearing on the face of another simply by a sentence spoken/typed? No face-to-face interaction and yet a simple compliment can bring joy to another person sitting miles away from you. That’s the power of WORDS, mixed with a generous dollop of kindness and a whole heap full of Love.
Buses, trains, stations, and airports… some of the more common places to meet people and forge friendships, Yes. But that’s not me – I wouldn’t do that… at least not make the first move. That said, in India, one cannot afford to be silent or not engage in some kind of conversation – that is almost a given.
I may be sitting in my living room, in my flat, in the smallest state of Goa, in a country far far away from you, and yet I could be saying the words you might exactly want to hear… we may be perfect strangers, and yet we’ve connected in a way that no one can understand.
I am a language Trainer having knowledge about a few languages spoken widely across countries and continents, but when it comes to the Language of the Heart; most times than not – I prefer being a student because, in an ever-evolving world, the language might remain the same, but the ways to show it..certainly change!
MY JOURNEY FROM BONJOUR AND MERCI AND BEYOND
“Je parle Anglais?” which translates to “I speak English” but the question here is why there is a question mark if this is a plain statement. Well, to answer that I must take a few steps back into the past when I was a newcomer to the city of Brussels and the French language was more alien to me than my relationship with it now.
It all began in the year 2009. Thanks to the extremely busy schedules of my husband back in those days (there were times when he used to leave home at 7:45 AM and won’t see it back till 3 AM the next morning, I was left at the mercy of television and internet connection to spend my days. But for how long. Slowly I started despising my loneliness, the damp and gloomy weather of the city where the sun won’t greet people for days together added to my woes. Calm Sundays where the city would come to a halt made me miss India very much. That’s where I decided I must take things in my hands rather than just sitting back and cursing and sulking.
I began with a small walk in the direction of my nose (a subtle way of saying that I am pretty bad at remembering routes, have to literally register landmarks strongly lest I would get lost). It was a good walk of around 40 minutes and of course a good change for me. But what made me sweat profusely wasn’t the walk but the fact that I was unable to open the main door of the building where I used to reside. I believe the mechanism was somewhat different (anyways let’s not get into the practical details). I stood there for quite some time now, unable to open the door before I finally decided to seek help from someone. The first thing that came into my mind was what if the person whom I will request for help isn’t convinced with the situation that I am narrating, in short, what if he thinks I am an imposter trying to break into some random house. And to make the matters worse I didn’t know how to converse in French. But I had to seek help. I stopped someone who was crossing the street, and greeted him with the only word I knew back then in French “Bonjour“, he smiled and waited for the reason why he was stopped by a stranger. I gestured at the door and showed him the keys and continued in English. I was about to break into tears anytime now. He seemed to have understood and helped me get into the house. There was another incident where a heavily pregnant me was suddenly very low on sugar and was about to collapse with my groceries. A lady who was passing by stopped to check on me. I couldn’t explain myself but then it seemed she didn’t need my words anymore, she took out a juice from the groceries I was carrying and opened it for me, made me sit comfortably, and left me only after I was feeling a bit better. All I could say was “Merci” (another staple word in my french vocabulary then).
These and many other petty incidents made me realize the importance of the ability to converse in the local language. I narrated the entire episode to my husband. He said to start the conversation with “Je parle Anglais” but I misunderstood the word “Je” for “You” in English (Tu & Vous are used for addressing the same). Here starts the fun. I did my little work at home on petty words and went out confidently. I used to start my conversation with the sentence I mentioned above with a tone and expression of a question mark and now writing this piece I realize how puzzled I left people then. They definitely might have thought “okay good for you if you speak English, why bother us“. But the moment they heard me speaking, in fact struggling to strike and start a conversation they would start speaking (their tryst with English) in a way to take the conversation forward. That’s how I made friends with the supermarket staff around the house. I realized if I put an effort to learn a particular language that would show my intent – intent to mingle, intent to converse. Apart from making day-to-day life easy, I believe putting efforts to learn the language of the land you reside in is a small token of respect and gratitude.
Now after nearly 12 years, I am able to converse less hesitantly, and more confidently. On a personal level over the years I understood a conversation is more about getting a grip on the emotion people are sending across to each other. And for everything else, there’s a smartphone and google translator that’s always handy. (***Note: back in 2009 I didn’t have that help outside the IP range of my home:))
HEART LANGUAGE OR THE LANGUAGE OF THE TONGUE?
“How are your eyes, Amma?”, I asked over the phone.
“No Amma, we are not eating much rice these days. We have limited our diet due to health issues”, replied my mother-in-law.
It wasn’t that she had not understood my question. I realised that she had merely misheard my question. I repeated the query, this time with child-like clarity to which she replied appropriately and we continued the rest of our conversation heartily.
Its a joy to converse with my parents-in-law everyday though miles separate us and our respective mother tongues seem to pose barriers. But, we do not allow linguistic barriers to obstruct the unalloyed outflow of love that emanates from the deep recesses of our hearts.
On one of my visits, my mother-in-law and I got into packing goodies for relatives. At a particular point, forgetting that I am still an infant in Telugu, she gave me a series of instructions in Telugu. I kept staring at her, unable to decipher a word and then went on to do the things exactly the way I had been doing before. She stopped me unapprovingly and said, “Oho…no, not like that.” I looked at her blankly and then we both burst out into peals of laughter.
No doubt common spoken language helps articulate the message of the mind, but understanding the human heart resonates beyond the horizons of spoken and written language.
I enjoy my father-in-law’s hearty laughter each time I ask him, “How are you, Daddy?” The other day, I asked as usual. He replied in his usual style, “We are well, Amma. God has given us enough strength to go about our daily activities. That is enough for us.” “No, Daddy you are not well. What happened?”, I asked with concern. He seemed very surprised and asked, “How did you know?”, as he went on to admit that he was indeed unwell, having been out the whole day in the scorching summer sun the previous day.
The linguistic diversity across the length and breadth of India is one of its unexplainable precious assets that binds hearts and encapsulates the mind. Having had the exposure to people of many Indian languages, I didn’t think interacting with my South Indian in-laws would pose a problem for the East Indian me. We enjoy a bond of love that expands way beyond our linguistic limitations.
On one occasion, my mother-in-law said, “Please learn Telugu. I want to talk a lot with you.” “You can talk Amma, I can understand koncham koncham (little little),” I replied. She laughed and shared a similar experience from her job days when a team of Hindi-speaking North Indian supervisors had visited her workplace and started conversing in Hindi and she had replied in English, “I know Hindi thoda thoda (little little).”
I can go on sharing several such anecdotes as a testament of our bond of love, but I would limit myself to just these for now as I attest the fact that the language of the heart is nothing but the language of love, which when built upon creates unshakeable towers of relationships, but, which when nibbled at, gradually causes relationships to dissipate into thin air.
I was a kid when I visited Chennai. I spoke Hindi at home and English at school. The concept of learning more languages wasn’t popular till then. And even if it were, I would have never learned Tamil.
My father had tight business connections with Tamilians and visited Chennai twice a month. I was a Daddy’s Girl through and through, but the thought of learning Tamil out of sheer curiosity never appealed to me.
I have stayed in Chennai for three months, not in one go, but three month-long trips in three consecutive years. The adventures were as colourful and varied as an artist’s colour palette. The first time we stayed in a spatial guest house by the beach. Next to the house lived a rich neighbour in an exquisite bungalow. His name was Mr Kartik Narayanan. I don’t remember if he had a wife or kids, but he knew my father and invited us over for dinner at his place.
I accompanied my parents with utter fascination because the first luxury car I had ever seen was parked in his driveway. It was a Contessa. While my father talked to him in perfect English and we were served dinner, I never spoke a single word. I was so desperate to take a spin in the car that my stomach ached, and I could eat nothing.
Mr Kartik Narayan was in his mid-50s and was a very busy man, but when we were leaving his house after dinner, he told my father to wait, and he asked me in Tamil, “You love this car, don’t you?” I didn’t understand a word he said, but I caught the feeling.
I smiled, and my father laughed because he knew I didn’t know Tamil. He told my father to take the car out for a spin, handing him the keys. My father felt embarrassed to see me drooling over the beautiful car but accepted the gesture.
When we returned, he smiled and asked me in Tamil again, “How’s the stomach ache now?” Without understanding anything, I knew what he was asking and hid behind my father, blushing red.
The memory of the joy I felt while I took a spin in the car has faded, but I won’t ever forget the man—the benevolent, kind businessman. He understood a kid’s desire without having any conversation.
It was time for another trip to Chennai. This time we stayed in another guest house owned by the company. The house had a lawn, a kitchen garden, a back garden and a housekeeper called Appan. Appan was a poor local with no knowledge of English.
In the one month I stayed there, Appan gave me many memories that would last with me for a lifetime. He didn’t know how to make calls and used to hold my hand, make me sit on the sofa next to the landline and hand me a phone number, and he would gesture for me to make a call to his village. I used to make his calls and watch him talk in his colloquial language. The expressions on his ebony skinned face told everything he spoke.
My mother taught him how to make chapatis. He would roll out the dough, take the circular steel lid, and cut out the Chapati like a stencil. That was absolute fun to watch.
He used to call me ‘Amma’. I haven’t seen a more pure and innocent man in my life, or maybe I was never that pure and innocent ever again. But Appan used to make me omelettes and Maggie noodles and play with me. I loved him for that.
It was weird that I never felt that we didn’t talk, that we didn’t know a single common word except ‘Cobra’. Yes, as per him, at night, a cobra came into the guest house from the kitchen garden and slid into the place under the kitchen’s backdoor. He even claimed to have seen the snake’s prints on the wet soil.
I don’t know how he made me understand this, but I never once slept on my extra bed on the floor after that and insisted on sleeping on the bed, or the cobra would swallow me alive.
It was my third trip to Chennai, and we were staying in yet another exotic guest house. I remember it was overrun by lizards. But I had a refuge there. My father had a colleague, Mr G.S. Bala, who had a daughter just one year older than me, Deepa.
My father used to leave my mother and me at his house, and both men would drive away to the office while we, my mother, Deepa and her mother, were left together.
My mother and her mother had no language to communicate, but they used to talk through Deepa. Mom would say something to Deepa in English, and Deepa would tell the same to her mother in Tamil. Then her mother would reply to something in Tamil, and she would translate it for my mother in English.
But her mother was the kindest and most loving person I had ever met. She taught my mother how to make Dosas. My mother taught her to knit. She used to take us sightseeing at beaches, markets and places.
Deepa used to have a massive swing in the middle of her drawing-room, and I wanted to play on it. Her mother removed every piece of furniture from the room and gave it to us to play with for one whole month.
I used to sit with Deepa on the swing and tell her to take it higher and higher till our feet touched the ceiling fan. I don’t know how Deepa understood me back then, my English was bad, and I was too small. But Deepa’s laughter and Auntys’ fond smile are frozen in my memory forever.
Today I don’t know where are they, Appan, Mr Kartik Narayan, Deepa or Aunty, but their memories are still fresh in my heart, bringing tears to my eyes.
They all taught me a fundamental lesson.
“When hearts communicate, language is not needed.”
I loved them beyond their colour, caste, religion, and social stature, and they loved me back many times more.
GROWING UP… DAUGHTER-MOTHER DIARIES
“Mom I have a doubt,” said my 6 years old daughter. “What’s it dear?” I asked, to be only left stumped by her question. “Why papa loves you when your face is full of spots?”. I am not even exaggerating, those were really her words. And I don’t blame her for she is growing up with fairy tales where the princess is all fair and flawless. I can understand with the kind of exposure kids of this generation have the kind of questions they might ask seem to be too soon, too early, and to be honest too much too. I wanted to give her a reason, perhaps a lecture on what true love (ironically beyond the gamut of reasoning) means but considering her age my explanation would be “Too much” for her to comprehend.
I simply asked, “Don’t you love me with all these blemishes on my face?”. And she didn’t budge as she said “I love you, Mama, you are the best” and she gave me a kiss as she hurried to get into the school before the final bell rang. Perhaps one day I will be able to provide a better explanation to satiate her query.
Raising kids (generation alpha) as my dear friend @sizzlybizzly (Rajnandini) has explained in her article OF SENSE AND SENSIBILITY, could really be a tight rope walk. Explaining them to react and behave differently in apparently similar-looking situations is quite a task. For instance, as a family with a reasonably comfortable life, I encourage my daughter to help the poor and needy and that seems to be well embedded in her thoughts. But on the other hand, I also warn her against falling for tricks of people who pretend to be needy to avoid sweating it out. And reasoning (explaining how to and why to differentiate) such situations in my personal capacity prove to be difficult ones given the fact that my daughter is a bit impatient. The moment I start dissecting the matter for clarity she says “I don’t understand what are you saying” or worse “enough Mama, not now, just play with me”.
As a parent, I want to clarify every doubt that dwells in my child’s brain. Sometimes I have substantial corroboration to my answers that I can give her instantly, for example why plucking fruit from the tree isn’t the same thing as butchering a goat, when both are done to serve the same purpose – to fill up a hungry stomach. Sometimes I am at a loss of my reasoning abilities altogether. Like why the letter U hasn’t been pronounced the same way in “Put”, and “But” because I never questioned it (maybe my friend @theextraaaamile, Savio has an answer to this 😃). And then there are moments I have reasons to support my reaction/responses but as I mentioned earlier they could be too complicated for a child to comprehend. For example, when I tell my daughter to be social & adjustable to and under different circumstances, and be independent (not seeking validation from others) at the same time. That’s a tough call as I have to hand out her reasons sans ambiguity of any sort.
All said and done I have realized that in the process of parenting I am growing up too. My role as a parent is a reason enough to be a better version of myself every day. With so many sources of information and influence around, kids surely need a security filter, a cushion to rely on. And that’s where the power of reasoning comes in handy. Valid the reasons are, better the chances of nurturing mature minds. It’s really important that doubts of any nature shouldn’t be squashed away under the pretext of “nothing concerning you”, especially when we impart the knowledge of DOs and DON’Ts to shape their personalities and ideologies.
My journey with the extra “administrative” responsibility of Reasoning has just begun as my daughter has just started questioning. I should be better prepared for the bazooka of questions blazing at me, she hasn’t even scratched the surface yet and there’s an ocean to dive in.
POWER OF REASONING SHOULD BE SECONDARY
We are all taught from our childhood to think logically. We have the IQ that is measured on basis of our logical reasoning ability. Logic is needed to win the arguments; reasoning is needed to justify our logic. Kids who are good with logic and reasoning often get into the best schools and eventually earn the best salary. Lawyers who can twist the logic cleverly and reason out of every situation are often the most successful ones.
So, logic and reasoning are important for good survival on this planet. Without such ability, a person would really struggle. Just look at how autistic kids struggle in the real world because their ability to reason is really low. Even though they are so full of love and dedication for everything around them, they aren’t enough for the world.
Our education system from ages has given too much importance to logic and reasoning just because we have always focused on earning more money, getting more knowledge, have the best IQ. Our ability to reason is our intelligence. And this intelligence many times becomes our own enemy.
How does that happen?
Have you ever gone through anxiety, depression, guilt, and anger? Well, I am sure all of us have. What triggered that state of mind? Mostly, it is due to something that didn’t happen the way you wanted it to happen. Either it was your own behavior that did not match your expectation or somebody else’s close to you. Or it could also be something happening in the world that is not happening the way you want it to. Your plans, your logic, and your reasons became so important that you forgot that this world is not supposed to work as per your wishes and you suffered terribly because your own intelligence turned against you.
The various civil wars, communal riots, world wars have happened because a few people in the world couldn’t control their anger and wanted this world to behave exactly the way they wanted. Why? Because for them their reason and logic were above all. Just look at the current Ukraine war, it wrenches my heart to see how people are dying and losing their homes but some powerful people in the world have put their reason so high that basic empathy cannot touch their hearts anymore.
A few months back, I did something similar. One fine day, I realized that nothing in my life is going as per my plans and wishes. In my head, the reason behind the havoc in my life was my husband. This reason and my anger became so strong that I started to have anxiety attacks and even worse I started dumping my anxiety on my husband. Every single day was a struggle because we would never stop fighting. I went into a deep depression and came out realizing that my logic and reasoning for blaming him was so very flawed. The same reasoning had blinded me in so many ways.
Logic and reasoning are important to earn money, respect, and have a decent life on this planet. But reasoning should never over-power our ability to empathize and love each other. Logic and reasoning should always be secondary, what should rule the world is empathy and love. If the world starts transforming in this direction, we would have no wars and conflicts in the world.
It baffles me how our logic can be so flawed and how our reason can overpower to support that logic to an extent that we can think of killing people based on community, caste, religion, or gender. This is what some powerful leaders of the world are doing now, they have flawed logic but such a powerful reason to support that logic. And they are backed by military power and millions of dollars.
I wish to transform the world in a way that new leaders lead by the power of love and empathy instead of the power of logic and reason. But alas, that’s just my wish, not something that will ever materialize.
THE BEAUTY IN BROKENNESS
Recently, while cleaning my favorite coffee mug it slipped from my hand and broke. I felt bad for a while and thought it is of no use now. But after a while, the Japanese idea of mending broken objects came to my mind. Well, I don’t have gold, so I used Feviquick Gum and fixed my coffee mug. Now I can’t use it anymore for the same purpose but that doesn’t mean it is of no use now! I promoted its place to my study table from my kitchen and of course, I will be using it for a special purpose.
I have cracks and patches YET, I’m Alive
I have pain and problems YET, I’m Alive
I have worries and anxieties YET, I’m Alive
I am ditched and rejected YET, I’m Alive
Now I learned, “This is what is life!”
Somewhat in an emotional state during the initial years of my passion for writing, I penned these words. Every time I re-read these lines today, it seems quite apparent to me.
We all are broken from inside in different ways and at different intensities BUT you know, “it’s okay to be broken!” In fact, unless something is broken it can’t be built again. Rising up from brokenness multiplies our strengths and understanding. As a good teacher brokenness teaches us volumes and redefines the meaning of our existence.
As an immature adult, some of the wrong decisions I made had deeply hurt my parents, and my dad refrain from interacting with me. Those three and half years were too painful and burdensome. In advance, if God would have given me an option to erase something from life, I would have erased those years.
“Does that mean those were so bad days nothing beautiful that I can’t bask in?
Or, Is there nothing worth enough for me to take away?”
Obviously not! Brokenness gives us a story. But the story begins only with pain and its top checklist is, “our hope & desire to stay alive.”
God in His supremacy never intended man to become the puppets in His hand. Rather he has crowned him with knowledge, wisdom, and freedom of will so that “man can become the better version of himself”. Yet, in the supremacy of our freedom of will, we take some wrong decisions which create cracks and later part brokenness within us. Our guilt reminds us, “you are of no worth!”
But Jesus said,
“My purpose is to give them a rich and satisfying life”.
There is always beauty in brokenness. It is often way beyond our understanding but that is how God designs us. An anonymous poet has expressed it this way,
When God wants to drill a man,
And thrill a man,
And skill a man
When God wants to mold a man
To play the noblest part;
When He yearns with all His heart
To create so great and bold a man
That all the world shall be amazed,
Watch His methods, watch His ways!
How He ruthlessly perfects
Whom He royally elects!
How He hammers him and hurts him,
And with mighty blows converts him
Into trial shapes of clay which
Only God understands;
While his tortured heart is crying
And he lifts beseeching hands!
How He bends but never breaks
When his good He undertakes;
How He uses whom He chooses,
And which every purpose fuses him;
By every act induces him
To try His splendor out-
God knows what He’s about.
“Broken ‘but’ Beautiful”
Clearly, something’s not right-looking at the 3 above words. I tend to look at a word or a phrase practically from the point of the language first, after which on dissecting it further, will I probably look at it from a different angle, and even after looking at it from both the aspects – it doesn’t feel quite right
I personally think the above phrase or the concept of ‘broken but beautiful’ is absolutely flawed, simply because if we look at nature as a whole – broken things don’t really make beautiful viewing (talking about objects here) and to apply the same principle to people is simply preposterous.
Help me understand better here: aren’t we taught in school, that a particular energy floating around gets attracted to similar energy floating elsewhere?; applying the same principle to people – a broken person will only be attracted to another person who is probably going through the same feeling, so how does then broken+broken=beautiful?
Yeah right! When it comes to emotions, we really can’t talk of calculations.. but if you look at it logically, you will see my point. I look at life from a very realistic point of view, so what I see, is what it is, and what it is, is the way life rolls out.
Am I reading too much into it, or am I just a realist to understand the ground reality other than just accepting blindly what I read, watch, or hear?
There’s an Indian web series by the same name ‘Broken But Beautiful’, and while it makes perfect viewing for the ‘average emotional Indian’, I, on the other hand, enjoyed it for its pure entertainment value and background music.
It is said that, how a person turns out to be, is a combination of the people, relationships, and situations he finds himself around.
People aren’t born broken, it is simply a combination of meeting the wrong people, going through wrong relationships, and hanging around in the wrong places. Ever wondered where your wheels are driving you to? or your feet walking you to? Maybe a little awareness of what we’re doing and how much we’re giving ourselves into temptations, gossip, and wrong company, would go a long way, in us leading a much more content life instead of swinging the other way.
I believe if we can sort these 3 things, we can clearly drop the ‘broken’ and simply keep it ALL beautiful
WHEN OUR PATHS CROSSED
After eight years of marriage, Saanvi visited Delhi which once was her turf. She grew up there. That city for her is a bundle of memories – good, bad, enjoyable, precious, sad, unbearable – quite a complex concoction that she treasured. After her marriage, she moved away from the city so does her family.
Now after eight years an unusual business brought her back to the city. As she landed in the city, she was caught by the whip of air of the city, “how much I missed you” she sighed and headed for the hotel. As the taxi traversed through the lanes of the city, her thoughts wandered along with the wheels. Her eyes feasted on the street food, her senses were bamboozled by the color and fervor of the city, the ears were enjoying the concert of the noise of all-around. With all the sensory overloads she reached her hotel. That day passed in resting.
The next day after she was done with the day’s business she decided to indulge herself in some exquisite Delhi shopping. As she was loitering in the lanes of famous local markets, she felt as if someone called her name. She turned around but couldn’t find a familiar face in the hustle and bustle of the market. She strode forward and within a few seconds she heard her name once again “Hey Saanvi!” She turned again to confirm if it was real or if she was hallucinating something. But to her surprise (rather a shock) she wasn’t. It was Amit, her Ex.
“Hi Amit, how are you? Long time” Saanvi greeted cordially but the awkwardness was written all over her face. She never imagined she would have to face him again in her life. In heart of her heart, she always prayed that she doesn’t have to encounter him. “Yes, Saanvi, it has been 8 years. Where were you? It seemed you completely disappeared after your marriage. What happened, did you decide to sever the ties completely with your old friends? Itne bure nahi hain hum (we aren’t that bad)” and he laughed heartily. They decided to sit in a nearby restaurant to catch up.
Saanvi was still wasn’t at ease. Amit realized that and without beating around the bush he confronted her “what’s the matter? You don’t seem to be alright. I see you are upset with this unexpected meeting as if you never wanted this to happen. Am I right?” Amit paused a bit to give Saanvi a chance to explain herself.
“You are right as usual, I never wanted to see you again. The reason being I am burdened by the huge baggage of guilt that I have been carrying throughout these years. Do you remember that day when you proposed to me? I was happy but my happiness was short-lived. When I reached home the biggest shock of my life was awaiting me, a marriage proposal. My father’s health, his reputation, and everything else were at stake. I tried to open up my heart to him but couldn’t. I had to accept my fate. You were upset when I broke this news to you. We cried together and that was the last time when I saw you. I carried on with my duties and responsibilities as a daughter, a wife, a daughter-in-law, a mother but the guilt never left my heart. The guilt of not giving our relationship a chance, the guilt of leaving you in misery made me weak to pray that I never have to face you. My life is comfortable but there are moments when the thought that it could have been different with you often crosses my mind. And there isn’t a single day when I never apologized to you in my heart. Would you ever be able to forgive me and let me put off this guilt?” She paused.
Amit patiently heard this and at the end, he smiled “so you needed the courage to face me? Are you serious? See, there are many things in life that we direly need and want and our relationship is one among them. I never dreamt of anything or anyone else so dearly in my life other than you. It’s true but just the way you compromised with your fate so did I. I loved you so there was no place for any anger to foster there. Of course, it took years to take a forward leap but I did. And anyways I am not a saint, I too got married and this is my world now“. With a hint of wit in his tone, he showed his family photograph to Saanvi. His gesture calmed her down, her smile was more natural now. She sensed relief.
The serious conversation finally got diverted to a lighter tone as old friends would have. The cheque was paid and before leaving Amit reminded on thing to Saanvi “Our relationship might be broken but not finished, not every relationship needs a name or gets a closure. It might be broken but it is beautiful, isn’t it?”
***Note: Based on a true story
BROKEN BUT BEAUTIFUL
I was hurt, as he turned out to be a flirt,
I was in pain, as his behaviour was insane.
All my requests and petitions to him
Were nothing but all in vain.
I was in utter loneliness,
But he didn’t care to see my brokenness.
I was crying, but no-one heard me
Or could understand my the sign.
I was dumped, but he never cared,
I touched the rock bottom, the seabed.
I decided to finish my life,
To break free from all my strife.
‘Why to live when there’s nothing left?’
I thought as I planned my own fate.
But then, my inner human arose
From the depth of my soul,
It showed me the beauty of a Diamond
That lays deep down in the ugly mines of coal.
The blessings of that very moment,
Always stood firm beside me till my present.
After the passing of a devasting storm,
I, the sapling survived and life took a new turn.
BEYOND THE DEFENSE AND BLAME GAME
I am quite afraid of the “we need to talk” kind of situations in my personal life and at work, I am worried to see a meeting invite from the manager with just the subject mentioned as “Connect” and no agenda mentioned. Both represent not-so-happy communication, rather, it’s self-explanatory that it’s gonna be a difficult conversation. As one grows, one witnesses such conversations and there is no escape route.
Listening to negative things about yourself is not easy. Let me put it in better words. Listening to the areas of improvement in your work or behaviour is not easy and the first reaction is the defense. Most of us try to defend ourselves even before truly evaluating what we did. This does no good and then makes the conversation even more complicated. Next comes the blame game. It’s kind of easy to push the blame. Isn’t it? But does that make you clean? Think about it.
Over the years, I have been in such situations many times, and the journey from being a naive individual or professional to a mature and experienced one has given me a lot of learnings. And now, I have learned to look beyond the defense and the blame game. What do I exactly do?
While discussing the negative feedback the first and foremost thing that I do is accept the mistake. It’s hard but it’s the best to do! Then I talk about why it happened and what can I do to improve it. Trust me, this makes the conversation easier and short. Post this discussion, I reflect upon myself and disintegrate the feedback. I pick up what is useful and let go of what is not. Remember that not ALL that you get to hear is right or useful. Make your choice. Negative feedback or areas of improvement are not always a bad discussion if you learn to decide which part to keep and which part to let go of. Thus, you can actually turn these difficult conversations into something good.
But what if there is no mistake done by you and yet you get a mouthful from your boss, spouse, or parents? It happens, right? And what’s the immediate reaction of most of us? Yell back? Or revert in an aggressive way? Does it help? Definitely not! What do I do then?
Again, this didn’t come to me naturally but I have learnt it on my way to growing up! I stay calm! Sometimes so calm that it calms down the other person. We all know that one word leads to another and in no time an argument can flare-up. So, staying calm really works in these situations. The next thing that I do is the person what makes him believe that needless to say, in a very controlled tone. Once you know the source, it’s easy to clear the air. In most such situations, the misunderstanding is cleared but not all situations and people are the same. So, after considerable effort, if I feel that the other person DOESN’T want to understand, I end the discussion by saying “LET’S AGREE TO DISAGREE”.
Now, what I do after that is even more important. I shed off all the inhibitions about how good or bad I am in the eyes of that person. Again, this didn’t come naturally to me but I have learned this over the years. Someone has truly said that don’t let the negative feedback DEFINE YOU. You are much more!
So, take it with a pinch of salt and move ahead. Negative feedback can actually help you only if you learn how to deal with it. How do you cope with negative feedback and difficult conversations? Do you reflect upon them? Does it drive you to do better or do you break down? Do share your experience and tips and tricks!
OF SENSE AND SENSIBILITY
“I wish I was a deaf and dumb person! If I was deaf, I wouldn’t have to listen to all the derogatory things said to me. And if I was dumb, I wouldn’t talk stuff that irritate others. Better still, I think I should die. That would be the end of all my problems.”
An excerpt from a 10-year old’s chat which I received last week after she received a mouthful from well-meaning, but frustrated parents.
As adults, many of us have learned in the course of time to give a deaf ear to the harsh words of others or to mend our ways after getting a dose of constructive criticism which might not necessarily be music to the ears. But, is it the same for children?
There were times when spanking wasn’t really frowned upon. Rather, it was considered to be one of the corrective measures needed to discipline children. There were times when severe scoldings from parents, teachers, and elders made children rethink their actions and mend their ways. At least it was true for a majority of the population, with only a few scattered here and there who took the rebel route.
But, times are different now. We have highly observant children now who don’t hesitate to talk back. Call it genetic evolution or the influence of media or civilizational progress, children today are sharper, argumentative, rebellious, curious, independent, and thoughtful than those of the previous generations. They are not as compliant and submissive as most parents would want their darlings to be. To top it all, they are so very touchy!
There are numerous pieces in newspapers of late, of suicides by children who were either reprimanded for a wrong or refused access to gadgets – all which parents thought are measures of disciplining their children. But, the consequences proved to be disastrous thereby imparting strong messages to society and numerous amendments in Child Laws at the cost of precious lives.
So, what do we do? Give in to the whims and fancies of our children? Stop disciplining them? Use only sugar-coated words and ignore their wrongs? Keep worrying about their feelings and emotions all the time without caring for their holistic development? If our children are always kept in an aura of positivity, how will they learn to take negative feedback in their stride?
These and such other questions are bombarded by worried parents. Well, the approach to negative feedback is different for children and for adults. I will not dwell on those in this write-up. While adults are not expected to be childish in their response to negative feedback, children must also not be expected to behave in overly mature ways in response to criticism.
‘Sensitivity’ and ‘sensibility’ are the two words I want to leave behind for all to ponder upon. Criticisms, negative feedback, reprimands – all are parts and parcels of life. The way they are accepted depends most of the time on the way they are delivered and the outcomes they generate.
THREE SISTERS LED THE WAY
It’s a story of the reunion of a man with his daughters. A man had three daughters from whom he got separated. He was leading a miserable life, until one day when the three girls reached his house and asked for shelter, as they were tired of playing. As it was dark outside the man decided to let the three little girls halt in his house.
The darkness was so terrible and threatening. The darkness was an invitation for the robbers to intrude into the boundaries of the house. They slowly started digging the foundation of the house. Their purpose was to crash the house and loot. As the walls trembled in that dark night, so was the man. This is not new to him. All his life he was under constant attack of burglars in the veil of night. He lurked in the darkest corner of the house to save himself. The three sisters were sleeping in the corner where he hid. He tucked himself into a shell, hoping that the violent blows to his house and self recede somehow.
As the man was consumed by his struggle, one of the three sisters woke up due to the commotion inside and out of the house. She saw the man struggling, she rose to help him. She peeped from the window, she could see some light in the distance. Also, she saw how exercise to weaken the security that man had was being carried out. She had a plan in her mind “If I could take this man to that point I will be able to save him”. She tried to pick him up, but the weight of the man was crushing her. She gave a call to her elder sister and immediately she grabbed the other hand of the man. He slowly picked himself up with the help of the sisters and made an advancement towards the door to get out of the darkness surrounding him.
But the saga of fear was still not over for the man. His feet were stumbling over the hurdles placed across his path in a bid to stop him from reaching the light. As the sisters held the man and they were occupied, they called their eldest and strongest sister. She came, fought, and conquered the plunderers, paving a way for the man to make a safe exit from the darkness. The fight wasn’t easy. The attackers kept coming back to attack the man from different sides, the other sisters were slowly crumbling under the fatigue of carrying the man. But the one who was fighting was nowhere close to extinguishing or exiting. She was gaining impetus as she was blowing away her counterparts and a part of her energy she was transmitting to her sisters too. It was a long night before they finally made it.
With the help of the three sisters, that man reached his destination. When he reached the enlightened spot he recognized his estranged daughters and embraced them. He vowed to never ever part from them as they released him from the haunted place he was dwelling in. And they happily lived ever after in the land where the sun never sets in.
End Credits (cast of the story):
Sisters: Youngest Sister – Will; Second Sister – Action; Eldest (strongest) Sister – Knowledge
Man: The Human Soul
Thieves: Vices like greed, lust, anger, hate, etc.
Hurdles: negativity and pessimism in the form of harsh comments, blame game.
Light/ Enlightened spot: The happy space where the mind is in total control of its actions and not affected by the actions of the villains surrounding.
Moral of the story: It takes the three sisters of Will, Action, and Knowledge to accompany a man (figuratively) to cross the hurdles of vicious backlashes and the fear of failure.
HOW TO MOVE AHEAD WHEN THERE’RE NEGATIVE COMMENTS ALL AROUND?
People, mostly those who are associated with us in some way or the other pull us down in our life. A random stranger will never do that to us without having a valid reason and when someone we know does that, feels all the more pathetic.
There are three major ways how they treat us to pull us down or be an obstacle on our way to proceed ahead. I call them The ‘S’ Treatments.
Silence: Have you ever gone to your boss and asked him something that you have planned and waited for his response for hours? Later you are made to understand that you have been turned down by him. He used Silent Treatment on you to display his disapproval of your proposal. I don’t know these behaviors of the bosses are prevalent in the corporate sector or not but in small organizations, it is very common. I have gone through it a number of times when I was working.
Even I have this experience at my own home. My elders simply avoid or change the topic or stay silent till I lose my patience of waiting for a YES or NO. It literally kills your spirit.
Sarcasm: Comments or remarks like: “Oh, she will definitely top the class this year” for a girl who is an average student; “He earns so much that we need not work anymore” for a man who’s still searching for a job are called sarcastic comments or sarcasm. Sarcasm has never helped or built anyone. It has only hurt, degraded, and made people angry. And mostly our own family members, our friends, and colleagues use sarcasm to pull us down.
I always share this incident of my life with all. My Nanaji (Maternal grandfather) reacted when I wanted to buy a guitar and learn when I was a kid. He said, “Will you be a bandwala?” And today I can compose songs but I don’t know how to play a single musical instrument. He succeeded to stop me that day and I failed to move ahead. He was a very loving grandfather, he just had this prejudice about musicians.
Sentimental: This is the more dreaded weapon our elders use against us, to stop us. “If you step out from this house, you will never see my face again.” Have you ever heard such emotional or sentimental statements made by your parents? Maybe the above statement was too filmy but there are many such examples that we know that stop us from moving ahead or doing things our way.
At times, we face all three treatments applied against us at different points of time. People try their best to be a hindrance.
In my life, in certain instances, I have let them succeed in their mission of stopping me from doing something that I had ever wanted. But in other cases, I just did what I had to do and felt like doing. If I introspect and retrospect all those instances together, I regret thinking “Why did I let them stop me?” Definitely, we can’t predict our life but when we wanted to do something good in life, we should not be suppressed by these ‘S’ treatments.
Remember, we can defuse the effects of this Three ‘S’ Treatment with another ‘S’ Treatment from our side. And that’s called, “STANDING FIRM“. Standing Firm on our decision doesn’t mean that we will have to be rude, rebellious, and arrogant. We can stand firm humbly as well. Our this attitude will definitely let a person speak out if he is silent, stop him to be sarcastic for long and soften his heart to accept our decision at the end.
There are basically two types of people in this world – those who listen and pay attention and others who hear sounds and choose to ignore. If you know me well enough, you probably would know which side I’m tilting more towards…
If there is one thing that humankind is blessed with, it is the ability to use the words, include them in sentences and be vocal about our feelings – but how sad is it when all that some people end up doing is bring another down by their harsh words and negativity?
I’m no saint, when it comes to using such words – we have all said it, meant it, or even wished it in our minds. I guess it all boils down to what we all have within us, which is called crab mentality.
Crab mentality involves pulling down anyone who achieves or is about to achieve success greater than yours – and how more vocally can one get, by muttering words that would not only destroy one’s morale but also mess with one’s thoughts? – Think about that.
We aren’t bad people, yet somehow we as a race, seem to disappoint on so many levels, that it makes us think, do we deserve what we eventually get in life, in terms of support from friends, family, and well-wishers? Let us look at this picture a little closer, and notice the smaller things-shall we?
There is a man, who as he goes through life, is told that he is useless, an idiot, and even that he is worthless, where-in he finds himself broken at different phases in his life, but what we may not notice is; that he gets up every time and keeps walking at a brisk pace towards his eventual goal to achieve success.
What we can learn from the above picture is; The road in life is never easy, and the more people see you as a threat to them, the more likely you are to be targeted. However, keep going – for tough situations never last, tough people do.
You might have all heard about the half-full glass story, and how that being an optimist, helps look at the world in a better light. I will go ahead and say, being an optimist will get you as far as where your mind can take you, but being a realist is a far better option – at least that way, one is aware of their surroundings and act according to prevailing situations.
We live in a country <India> where emotions run high at the slightest poke, and controlling that, is probably the biggest task, we as Indians can work on.
Learn to ignore the small things, only then, when you learn to do that, will the bigger things not affect you as much.
EMOTIONS AND IMAGINATIONS HAVE NO LANGUAGE
I grew up in a very cosy and loving atmosphere at home or wherever I stayed during my childhood till I became an adult. I had a very little scope to go out and play or travel. And that made me more observant about people’s behaviour and their perceptions towards different things in life. Gradually, I became a daydreamer and quite imaginative.
But I remember clearly that I was not good at writing till I passed 6th standard. I was very bad in literature. Explanation Writing of a sentence, a stanza of a poem or a passage was the most difficult part for me. I remember, we used to buy guide books for our help in those days. And I started to read these pre-formatted Explanation Writing passages. It piqued my interest one fine day. And I started to imagine, tried to get into what the writer is saying. Lo and behold, I became a master of Explanation Writing. I scored high in Oriya (Sahitya) in my Seventh Board exam. And I never looked back.
I faced another problem when I grew up to be an adult. I was miserable in English. But imaginations and thinking don’t need and see language. I have already stepped into ‘a writer zone’ as I used to write poems and articles in Oriya. I have been published here and there as well. But I had a desire that I learn English and write in English as well.
I remember, I wrote a letter to my best friend, Binod in English for the first time. As he could not have read Oriya, I had to write it in English. Guess what? It was after my graduation. And I was still struggling to write something in English.
My passion to write, express what I feel and imagine made me a writer today. And my favourite genres are “life reflections” and “autobiographical” mostly. I don’t know whether they can be called as genres but I do write or I can say, I enjoy writing articles or poems when I reflect on a certain life conditions or situations or when it is about events and incidents of my life. I can say, emotions are the ingredients mainly when I cook a delicacy using my words. I am good at it.
I so wish if we could have written more articles on this topic so that we could have found a varied discussion on different genres. Because I and Kalpana have almost very similar interest when it comes to writing something.
One thing I would say as I close this article that… emotions, imaginations and dreams have no language boundaries. And language should not limit our emotions, imaginations and dreams. We should always be ready to express or weave something out of our imaginations in whichever language we can without hesitation.
EMOTIONS ARE MY TURF
Think about the constant smile on your face when you see or read a good light-hearted romance. Imagine the tears that refuse to get restrained in your eyes when you read a heart-wrenching story. Have you ever experienced that extreme anger towards a fictitious character that’s vile and nefarious? I am sure you must have. I sensed that feeling, quite strongly when I read “Pride and Prejudice”. I rooted for the central characters of Elizabeth and Darcy. Be it fiction, non-fiction, fantasy, biography, autobiography, whatever the content is, the impact would be hollow if the readers are unable to feel or connect with the underlying emotions of the characters they are reading about. In my opinion, Emotions form the core of every story. And me in the capacity of a writer love to spell emotions. My sole purpose in writing every single piece of article or a story is to connect and communicate and I am sure every writer would agree with me. Vocabulary, the flow of the language, style of writing – these parameters can be for a moment overlooked if the emotions carry and create the intended impact as desired by the writer.
In the light of the importance that rightly conveyed emotions have in the context of writing, emotional genre (if it can be called so) is my personal favourite. Romance and Drama usually fall into this genre (they are the sub-genres). Everyone might not be able to connect to the core idea of science fiction, everyone might not be able to understand the rhythm of poetry, horror may not be able to please the faint-hearted but emotions are omnipresent. Love, happiness, anger, grief, greed, lust, hate – no one is untouched by them. Thus when they come across stories that rekindle the feeling of having been a witness to one or more aforementioned emotions, make them pause and think, make them involved with the characters they read, and sometimes even identify themselves with those characters, the readers would love to invest in those stories (time and otherwise). And as a reader who has gone through the same myriad of emotions while reading, I would love to invest my time and soul as a writer in evoking the same thoughts.
My Style Of Writing: Keeping an eye on what’s transpiring all-around, digging in examples from real-life experiences – this is what I try to incorporate in my stories (because I believe that I am not an odd one out on this planet, so my experiences will definitely resonate with many others too in one way or the other and it will ruffle their emotions). My job is done as a writer (I feel elated whenever I get a comment notification and it reads “I have experienced it myself“). Every time such comments made me realize that “Emotions are my turf“.
EVERYBODY HAS A HOT BUTTON!
Daughter: I and my husband are taking a divorce.
Mother: You have a teenage girl and have you thought about what affect your divorce might have on her?
Daughter: Mom!! After divorce also, we want to share the same house.
Mother: Wait, you are telling me that you are finding it difficult to live with him, so, you want a divorce, but you still want to continue living with him after divorce, for your daughter?
Daughter: Yes, Mom..
Mother: But, that is what is called marriage!!!!
The above conservation is a dialogue exchange from a series named, ‘Decoupled’. I believe it is on Netflix. If you have not watched it, I would definitely recommend watching it. As you would have deduced from the conversation, the story is about a couple who want to get a divorce due to differences. It is a no-nonsense series.. 🙂
Divorce is a difficult situation in many ways. From the series, what the director tried to convey is, if the people who are involved are dealing with the situation well by giving space, respecting each other’s privacy, and supporting during the divorce proceedings, then divorce also leads to a happy ending. The actors really did justice to the script and it feels like we are watching someone in our family going through a divorce. Unfortunately, most couples make the process of divorce messy only because they want to see the other person struggle or satisfy their ego.
Not just divorces, but even petty fights at home lead to some blame games at times. It is neither pleasant nor welcoming. I have realized over the past few years, that situations are difficult or easy based on the people involved in it. But, as humans, we prefer to blame the situation and not see through people. When we have people who are making our lives difficult in ways we don’t appreciate, the first and foremost thing always is to understand, if there is really a problem or just our perspective of the situation is wrong. If we can come to a conclusion that it is the other person’s behaviour or words, it is better to address it than live with it.
We have to continuously learn and evolve on this aspect. There is no one size fits all solution to dealing with difficult people in life. We have to be patient, let the situation unfold, talk it through, try not to overreact or control other person’s emotions. After all, all of us are humans. All of us are different. All of us are difficult in some way!
A trap in dealing with difficult people is getting wrapped up in their personalities. When we can stay objective and remove ourselves from other people’s roller-coaster psychology, we have a much better chance of moving through the situation positively – Tara Stiles
GAMES PEOPLE PLAY
The more I interact with people, the more I am surprised… for the games that people play, every night and every day; never meaning what they say, and never saying what they mean
In ever-changing surroundings and the constant evolution of humankind – being normal, understood, and figuring out another human being- falls under one of the more challenging tasks, we as the people of today, have on our hands.
And while we skirt around the challenge of being ourselves or trying to maintain our own identities across sections of society, it shouldn’t be forgotten – we also “may” have to make small adjustments in order to “keep pace” with what the world requires us to be. What a bummer! I know right! Like we know a thing or two about balance! ..it is hard enough balancing two people on a 2 wheeler nowadays, or even the idea of two simultaneous blossoming relationships, let alone finding the right balance of what’s good or not good for us – a question that comes to haunt us every 5 years when it is time to cast our precious vote for the “right” candidate.
Choices, Decisions, and eventually actions that carve the way forward – are what’s expected of each of us, and yet, as under/over prepared we might be to face life head-on, it is where the actual dance takes place.
I would call myself a people’s person not too long ago, but you see…that’s the funny thing about the English Language, we can throw around a cool sounding word/phrase or sentence and if we find that it fits us well, we stick to it without actually knowing what it actually means. It took me an ongoing pandemic to know that..well, it was high time I stop referring to myself like that.
Being someone who enjoys traveling, I get a chance to meet different kinds of people and have always been a keen observer of how people operate in natural surroundings, I do find it fascinating how so diverse, 2 individuals can be from each other, and that sometimes is ONLY the beginning.
When I was asked to write on; How it is to deal with different kinds of people, I had a straightforward answer ready as always, but then it does not have to be the same yardstick applied to everyone, hence I had to think again.
What happens when those different people end up being difficult people? A diplomatic answer would be; firstly, we don’t deal with people, we try and understand them. Easier said than done – trust me it isn’t easy, I’ve tried it out myself, and boy! have I failed miserably at that.
When interacting with someone, it would be imperative to keep in mind that, we are interacting with a creature of emotion and not one of logic – there’s bound to be friction, whether it chooses to surface or not is a different matter. Putting your heart in vibration mode and your mind in silent mode is an option I use a lot in times like that.
If there’s one thing life’s taught me over the years is that; you don’t need friends. Okay, DO NOT take that literally, the point I am trying to make here is – most people aren’t really our friends, rather, they are more like acquaintances, and when you take the emotional content out of a relationship, communication gets so much easier and situations are more comfortable. There is nothing wrong with having a select core group of very close intimate friendships, but outside of that circle it is ‘everyone else’. No one’s perfect of course, and that is a good thought before interacting with others around us.
Everyone has had a different background, story, life victories, and failures. This gives them a different lens of viewing each situation.
Are you still waiting for my answer? Okay, so here goes: The best way to deal with people like this is ‘Smile‘ & ‘Agree‘, coz when we smile and agree with them, it takes all the wind out of any potential argument or insult they may have had, it is in a matter-of-fact tone, that you’ve chosen to already take the far higher road.
Lastly, dealing with people is also an ART, that comes with practice and experience. The more you try, the more you get better at it, and if it is all about the games that you like playing with others, we all know, games are only enjoyed upto a certain point – it starts turning bad after a few bad moves. I’m going to leave it to you to interpret that last sentence according to your best understanding.
BETWEEN THE JOURNEY AND THE DESTINATION
Marooned amidst the desert of nothingness,
surrounded by the mountains of despair,
the traveler’s intellect summoned him the ultimatum.
“Your journey has come to an end,
take this cloak of melancholy and drape yourself,
let the crown of failure adorn you
as you put a halt to your momentum”.
Saddled by the burden of his dereliction,
the traveler turned into the sediment of brunt hopes
whose dreams dissipated and poured down stony eyes
touching his parched lips,
He was exhausted and slipped into a deep slumber,
believing it to be the end of his ordeals.
But soon his thirst beseeched him
to look out for a potion to sip.
He rose from the heap of his molten & mangled desires
to quench his thirst and reinstate his trudge.
In the darkness of ignorance, he sensed fear Again,
fear of losing- not life but existence,
He ran incessantly, tearing apart the clutter of notions
that chained and suffocated his soul for a long time.
He reached an untrodden path, with a panting breath
he had to choose between quitting and deliverance.
He stared at the path,
cut through the rigid rocks of pessimism,
it gleamed in the light of knowledge and was enticing him
to pick up his crutches of will and action and recommence his stride,
He held his trembling heart and spoke to his upset intellect
“let me try one more time, let me search for the victory,
I might not reach my destination, but let me glide through
this journey with a sense of pride.”
Did the traveler reach his destination? Did he fall into the potholes of vices? Did the bondages of self-doubt imprison him again? Was he able to quench his thirst? Was his thirst solely his materialistic desire or it was a dawn of realization? Questions still need an answer but nevertheless, this story is about the road that initiated the journey!!!!
January’s passed by… and like many say; it is the trial month for the year ahead. It does take some people a whole month to get going for the year – understandable I guess.
Now February is now upon us, already 7 days into February and I can already feel… wait! No…not this year – the spark is missing, the love seems amiss and definitely the shops haven’t quite got into the whole Love Grooooove: I’m still waiting for the valentine’s discounts, some shops are sure to come out with some discount or the other. An Indian’s second most loved word; after FREE of course
The ‘Love’ month is here. There’s something about this month, that you will find people smiling that extraaaa bit, there’s just that extraaaa effort put in to make your partner feel special, people are coochie cooing with more intensity. Being single and looking at all this around me, makes me smile…at least there’s no pressure on me to deliver.
Guess the presence of ‘red’ everywhere does ignite the passion within the hearts of lovers all around… and then Valentine’s Day is around the corner of-course. I can’t say much about Card galleries (for I hardly see them around anymore) but then the odd shop if looked at carefully, has made sure to put up a heart here and there and the odd decoration – which of course is nice to see for a change.
I wish chocolates got a little in-expensive this time around, I would surely treat myself to a whole box of Ferrero Rocher.
Sweet February is here 🙂
What are your elaborate plans for the month of February?
In my state, Goa..it goes to the polls, and that too – ON VALENTINES DAY! What is with Goa and February? This happened in the year 2017 too, but then it wasn’t on V-Day back then.
C’mon! I’ve heard love for family, friends, and loved ones, but this is pushing it a bit too far – Love for politicians and the state?
I know what my contribution to the month of February will be..to cast my wise vote for a party that I feel will do good things in my state. I am after all an aam aadmi (common man) and what does an aam aadmi ask and want – ONLY good governance. Let us hope, many more people think the same and do the right thing. Shhhh…I’m not telling which party I am voting for. Time to sweep away corruption and start afresh, well the hope is there, only left to put it into action if the right party is elected.
I could do with more reading romantic books, blog posts, and articles, watching romance-filled movies, hearing those lovely ballads all month, and of course the PDA’s (public displays of affection) on beaches, parks, or places I would not dare mention here. For love can be found in any nook and corner in the month of February, which does not mean couples should slack off for the other 11 months.
HOW WISE IS IT TO TAKE RISKS?
There is a Chinese proverb – “Pearls don’t lie on the seashore. If you want one, you must dive for it!” This proverb talks about the necessity of taking risks in life. Whereas at the verge of taking risks, the person has to respond to an awful lot of important questions. These questions often come from within and some of those basic questions are –
How is it possible for me to do it?
Who can be the man of trust for me?
If I end up losing my life and resources?
Well, such a situation reminds my journey from Howrah to Cuttack after my interview in Kolkata. I was barely in my early twenties and it was my 1st solo-traveling experience. I went to Kolkata with a few of my former colleagues to appear for an interview. I was told that the return journey is uncertain, it may take a day or two to finish with all the rounds of interviews. So, I was unable to book my return ticket whereas all the rounds of interviews finished in a day and I was asked to return back to my hometown on the same evening. I was completely new to Kolkata city, in fact, it was my 1st journey outside my home state. I was much worried about how to execute my return journey. Alongside I didn’t have time to book my return ticket. Somehow with the guidance of my colleagues, I was able to catch the right local bus to Howrah. At Howrah station, I was all alone without my journey ticket and had no idea about the availability of trains to my hometown. Sametime, dozens of human trafficking and robbery crime stories seen in Crime Patrol were swarming in my head. After a lot of struggles, I made up my mind. I prayed to God for journey mercy and took the courage to consult someone. But “whom should I consult? If I fall prey to some mischief person?”. I thought it would always be wise to consult a policeman. I found an RPF Policeman, checked his name on his uniform. With his advice, I took a general ticket and grabbed some cookies and a water bottle. When I saw the crowd in the general compartment, I didn’t dare to get inside the bogie. I get into a reserve sleeper class compartment and approached a RAC passenger to allow me to sit and travel the whole night. After a few hours when I was in deep sleep, the ticket collector patted my shoulder for the ticket. In sleepy mode, I simply showed him my general ticket. He looked at me from head to toe and said, “you are in the wrong compartment. In the next station, get out of this compartment.” Since I had seen the crowd of the general compartment, I didn’t dare to change the compartment. Though I was sitting just a couple of seats away from the ticket collector’s seat he didn’t ask me again to get down. He was much gracious to me to remain there.
As I recapture that 7-hour long journey today, it teaches me many lessons.
Life is all about taking risks, making new decisions, and achieving our vision. But to take risks all we need in the first place is courage. Courage to die, if it is required. Those who fear death can never live because it is the fear of death that will always haunt life and will seize our present. In the same context, while summoning Joshua as his successor to lead the Israelites to Canaan, Moses encourages the Israelites “Be strong and courageous. Do not be afraid or terrified because of the enemies, for the LORD your God goes with you; He will never leave you nor forsake you”.
Is courage sufficient enough to help us to take risks? Definitely not! Courage without wisdom is inanity. When we take risks, we are stepping into uncertainty. Our ignorance to step ahead is our call for wisdom. Where to get wisdom? Wisdom is with the wise. The Bible recommends, “If you lack wisdom, ask God for He gives generously without finding fault in you” and secondly, “In the abundance of counselors (wise-men) there is victory.”
What is wisdom and who is wise? Wisdom is doing the right thing at the right moment and wise is the one who lives accordingly. Wisdom always leads to truthfulness, honesty, and life, and the wise long for it. Because of this, “The wise inherit honor but fools get only shame”, the Bible says.
A NEWLYWED BRIDE IS ALL SET TO MEET HER GROOM
“We will meet again at our new abode, soon we shall begin our new journey together,” the newlywed groom said smilingly as he lovingly looked at his teary-eyed bride and departed to resume his job.
In her longing to see her husband, dreaming to commence the new phase of her life, her eyes and fingers paced up and down the inbox of her email searching for every notification and replying to emails concerning her visa process. It went for about one month and finally her passport was stamped with Schenegan’s visa and within a few hours of stamping, she got her tickets booked. Though excited the very idea of taking her first flight, that too to a foreign land and all alone definitely set butterflies free in her stomach. The moment she left her family members right at the entrance of the international airport and set her feet inside the airport, she could feel the cold sweat drenching her palms.
The big display boards with counter numbers for the respective destination flights, the bustling rush, slippery floors – these are the first few things that welcomed her. She sighed and kept on praying to God that nothing untowardly shall happen. She found the exact counter she must line up at with her luggage and ticket. And she saw the first travel demon lurking around her. One certain passenger had to put off a considerable chunk of their luggage aside as the scales weren’t ready to embrace the same. And the bride here was all tensed as she wasn’t going for a holiday trip but to begin her life afresh and that accounts for loads of shopping tapped in her suitcase. It was her turn, she handed over her ticket and passport to the lady at the counter and placed the luggage on the conveyer belt. Mission passed to her greater relief and she was handed over the gate number along with the boarding pass.
Now it was time for an immigration check. This phase of her maiden journey ended in a lighter mode. The officer at the desk looked into her documents and asked details in a casual tone like where she was headed to, what was the purpose, and so on. When she mentioned her marriage and husband, the officer cracked a joke to lighten up things for the bride “Saiyan Pardes Chale Gaye aapko chodkar yahan” (your beloved went abroad leaving you here) as he stamped the passport. To this, the girl smiled and nodded in denial and moved on from there. Stage two crossed.
By this she was thirsty. She went to one of the stores, just to make a frightening discovery – airports are the leaders when it comes to pricing the products whom the multiplexes ardently follow. She purchased a tiny bottle of water and made an exit and waited for her turn to board the flight at the gate. It was night, around 2PM, as she waited anxiously; a woman arrived and asked if she could keep a watch on her bag for a moment while she goes to the washroom. This question set alarm bells ringing in the bride’s head. Out of many directives given to her by her husband, one was not to accept any request to look after the baggage from any stranger. It simply meant it’s ok not to trust anyone in the wake of ugly things that could happen in such a landscape. The bride felt tongue-tied yet nodded in affirmation. As she saw the women leave her seat, she seated herself a bit far from the bag, in a manner where she could keep an eye yet not so close to the baggage itself. Her chants were on the re-run again. She was relieved once the woman came back.
Around 2:45 or 3AM an announcement was made and the boarding commenced. The bride and the other passengers were welcomed with a wide grin pasted on their faces from the Jet Airways Staff (yes Jet airways were fully operational then before being cash strapped and leaving thousands jobless and in misery). Now the bride was seated, safety instructions were given and the flight took off. In her maiden flight to the offshores, the girl was overtly conscious, about how to ask help from the attendants, how to plug in and play the entertainment system on-board, how to eat without being or feeling awkward, how to get off her place without her co-passenger feeling being disturbed and how to caress her painful legs in such a little space. Somehow things she passed off eight and half hours before the flight touched the ground. Her maiden flight has come to a halt (not the journey yet) and the experience was memorable though nothing remarkable happened.
She had to yet reach her destination (her groom), crossing all the routine hurdles. The foreign faces and language made her nervous but her first-hand experience of boarding the flight spoke to her – follow your signs carefully and you are home. So she did so and was soon greeted by her groom at the exit gate waving at her, ready to take her luggage as well as her responsibility. “You look beautiful,” he said to her as he embraced her tightly (though the girl didn’t feel the same about herself after such a long journey) and made her blush.
After 12 years of that first flight, that bride is a mother to two beautiful kids, leading a happy life, jumped up in glee as the Candles proposed this week’s topic – Frist Travel Alone Experience. Every “first time” has its charm and relevance. No matter what kind of experience we gain – beautiful or woeful, doing things for the first time always impart important lessons for a lifetime. What this journey could have taught that bride – Unless you move out of your comfort zones and face things unless you talk about the issues at hand (she did ask her co-passenger about how to plug in the entertainment system on board), there’s no learning or growing up. And there are many instances and occasions in life where we have to take the charge all alone.
That bride was me then 😉
WHEN TRAVELING ALONE IS THE ONLY OPTION
Do not be fooled by the title of this post, I love every bit of solo traveling. In comparison to others, I do it a lot more, but I still very much love every minute spent by myself, traveling
I can’t really remember when I first traveled alone – but what I do remember is where I did travel to, it was Mumbai. Though it’s nothing more than an overnight journey from Goa to Mumbai by train, it was very soon after the first travel experience that I realized traveling alone gave me quite a thrill – that of being independent, having your own freedom, and most of all visiting a new place ALWAYS gave me the kicks. <and for the things that people tell you about Mumbai, that place can definitely give you some great times>
I initially traveled to get away from the mundane life in Goa…later as I got older, I traveled because I enjoyed my freedom and of course now, I wish to travel to simply soak in the sights, sounds, and feelings of a new state, city or town/village – it does not have to be an exotic location, even a small village would do, for sometimes the journey getting to the location is as wonderful as the actual destination itself.
Company always seemed like a good idea when it comes to traveling, or so I watched in movies or read in books, but then solo traveling is a whole different experience. I traveled solo not out of choice but more out of necessity. Either dates never matched or the company didn’t, and if I may say this about myself, I am an impulsive traveler, I need not make elaborate plans – at the end of the day – what does one need? Food and Shelter – India never runs out in either department, the rest can always be figured out on the go.
They say, FIRST’s in one’s life could be equally terrifying as well as exciting, it’s all about how you want it to be. Traveling must be looked upon as an opportunity, nothing beats a good holiday and a great journey to get there.
When it comes to traveling for the first time, as all newbie travelers would do (I am sure) put unnecessary (extra) clothes.. (one really doesn’t want to run out of clean clothes and of course, how could we allow people to see us wear the same shirt/pant every time we step out of our room/hotel) If only people in a place like Mumbai even cared, or that you would find the exact same person standing in the exact same place after a couple of hours. It did take me a couple of solo trips to understand that. And then there would be the whole situation of shoes/slippers etc. One pair of shoes would be on your feet during travel and of course, another would be in your bag (in case the current one gives way) – why buy a new pair when we already have an extra pair at home, right? (the Indian Middle-Class mentality) Not forgetting, a storybook to read for the journey, certainly, one is never going to be enough, so put 3 more in the bag – what if I run out of things to do on a train? – that’s before I realized I could make friends and indulge in conversation too during travel, sleep and eat amidst other things.
One of my first’s posts, blogging on WordPress was about an interesting train journey I had, read it HERE, give it some Love.
Thanks to the crazy Bollywood fan that I’ve always been, the number of stories that have the lead actress and actor falling in love during travels… I grew up with the idea of finding love on the Indian Rails. to eventually fall in love with the idea of traveling itself. I’m still not giving up – I know I’ll find ‘her’ on one such journey.
I’ve traveled with friends, colleagues, a loved one, and family – but its never the same. Every journey teaches you something, every journey makes you wiser – for example, I now travel way lighter and more relaxed, sometimes a bit too relaxed. I have lots to see in India, countries abroad do not make the top 5 on the list, though I’ve visited Sri Lanka thrice (that does count for outside India).
I would want to end with a piece of advice:
…while traveling is an expensive affair I agree, and might not often get to do it as you wish to (domestic/national/international), hence, we go about capturing everything we see and come across on our phones, camera, and other devices – Sometimes, all that is really needed is to Slow Down, Enjoy the Moment and feel what it is to be like being in a different land, with different people around you and a culture that may be a whole different one from where you come from.
Cheers to journeys!
MY MAIDEN SOLO TRIP
First experiences are exciting, yet can be petrifying sometimes. There are certain things that we don’t do because we are scared or anxious, but we have to take that first step. It is the hardest, yet we have to just do it.
My maiden solo trip was a bus trip, while I was pursuing my graduation. That wasn’t too exciting to boast about or wasn’t adventurous. Rather, I was happy to travel alone, independently, without any elder along with me. However, I would like to share my first trip alone, with my infant. After the birth of my first child, I went into postpartum depression and had panic attacks, which no one understood, not even me. So, I thought a change of place was all that I needed. I decide to travel alone with my baby from Chandigarh to New Delhi, via train.
My ticket was booked in an AC chair car and the train usually took 4 hours. I was anxious, but wanted to get away with my panic attacks. It was summer and the train was quite comfortable. The journey started well and my baby also slept after having his feed. However, after 2 hours, the AC of our cabin car stopped functioning and it became too hot and uncomfortable. My baby also woke up and started wailing. Before I could get up and talk to TTE, my co-passengers started complaining to TTE and asked him to at least change my seat as I had a little baby with me. Just after 10-15 mins, the TTE came and changed my seat to a different compartment. I was happy and grateful, simultaneously feeling proud that I could manage uncomfortable time alone, with my little one.
After a few years, I again traveled with my son alone, this time it was an international flight and I was returning from Shanghai. I used to hate air travel, and now also, I just prefer to close my eyes while flying, as I feel uneasy. Thinking about managing the trip to the loo and pacifying him in a state of uneasiness gave me goosebumps, yet I managed all.
I also survived another trip, years later! Alone is still carefree, but with kids along, you feel you have a lot of responsibility. I flew alone with my kids, with my younger one clinging onto me in a baby carrier.
Today, I yearn to travel alone and also go on a solo trip (which I haven’t yet experienced). And, I am eagerly looking forward to make my maiden!
CAUGHT IN A GHOST CASTLE
Based on a true story:
A group of 8 young explorers, me among them, entered a house that was surrounded by not only darkness but rumors of being haunted. The air was eerie and the silence so thick that even a pin drop could set hearts race. I got a chance to enter with seven others, I was excited to prove. It was my chance to prove a few nay-sayers that I am not boring and when I mean adventure it isn’t about millennial pranks. I meant serious business and what can be a better option to set the adrenaline rush going than a haunted house. I would be dishonest if I say fear wasn’t on my side along with the seven others.
We together stepped inside the house that smelt pungent and we thought “let the helper at our house take off for a while and our houses won’t be different” and had a hearty laugh. Slowly we marched – sometimes 4 steps at a time and sometimes just 1- don’t ask if it’s prudence or fear that was spiraling down our spines like sweat. We weren’t together but scattered all around. Someone at the loosely hanging railing at the first floor, someone at the corner by the picture of handsome looking tyrant that once lived there, a few near the bookshelf, and a few on the staircase following trails. The house that once might have had people as inhabitants in it, now hosted bats, mice, and a negative aura in abundance. As I slowly marched ahead, I heard a loud shriek. I rushed in the direction of the sound and I was horrified to see one of my accomplices lying in a pool of blood. She was caught unaware by an axe dangling overhead. I nearly fainted but had to carry on the mission for it was about leaving that house alive and proving a point. I moved in a different direction, suddenly something came flying to hit me or it was just my illusion. Whatever it was I ducked and saved myself. Another friend fell from the railing and broke his back badly. He did mention it felt as if someone pushed him. We together had to survive that night amidst everything which was not normal. We didn’t want to speak our minds aloud but now it was certain that this house is haunted. Throughout the night, to and fro the dangers, we somehow survived somehow and stepped out of that wicked nest of mortar and wood. I was the first one to do so.
And I was the winner. What? It is still based on a true story, I did play this board game “Ghost Castle”, was indeed caught and it took a long time to reach to the finish line i.e out of the house/castle. That’s how I spent the first day of the new calendar year. Ludo and monopoly is a thing of the past now, try this one, preferably in a slightly dark place for the spooky ghost not only scares but illuminates too😂.
Try it with your family, fun guaranteed!!
A DELICIOUS RECIPE FOR THE FIRST DAY OF 2022
I believe in Time and its game. It’s like – I am moving continuously, you have to go through all the strives and hardships and walk with me or you will be categorized as a failure.
But my heart and mind said something else after rising last year. 31 Dec 2021 was a beautiful day with hubby and son at Bhandardhara & Igatpuri. It was a sudden plan for the last day of 2021 and the first day of 2022. We all wanted to make it memorable and happier with tiny moments…just wanted to hold the feelings of happiness, peaceful soul in us. It was a 2-day plan. The day of last year was felt in every moment with the setting sun in the backwater of Pravari river. The clicking of pictures, having tea and snacks wherever you stop- really the madness of a traveler and a photographer. My husband loves to click pics with his DSLR and he contributes in Gurushots. He is just mad about the themes and ideas, competitions organized by Gurushots. I saw him so excited and ecstatic with the clicks of beautiful birds near the dam. I can say his year ending was superb. By seeing them happy, l too felt happy and contented.
Yes, I have also made my year ending and starting of the new year with beautiful memories of nature and submission of poems in 97anthologies. The morning of the new year was chilling at Igatpuri. The day was planned with Bhavali dam and Dhammagiri (Vipassana Centre). It was a slow, content, enjoyable trip with a trekking experience. My son was happy with Mc. Donald breakfast. He read the stories and saw the pictures of Goutama Buddha at Dhammagiri. He gathered more information about Goutama Buddha.
After our Igatpuri trip, we headed towards Mumbai and landed at our family friends Sandeep & Mitali Das at Thane. We met two more new friends, Mike and Spike (Cockatiel birds). The first time I saw the birds out of the cage and flying in the room happily. They were eating at a particular place and moving like kids. It was fun watching them. My best moment was when Mike flew and sat on my head. It was like ‘whooh’ for the first 5 seconds. Then I felt normal and good. The evening was spent well with cooking together like old days, chitchatting and sharing old memories, and making plans for the next day, as it was my hubby’s birthday. Finally, the day of the new year ended with dinner and filter coffee at the Hiranandani area of Ghorbunder road. We reached home safely at 11:50 pm, just before 10 minutes to 12am. It was a great day with mixed emotions.
Ingredients of the days were traveling, eating, cooking, chitchatting, discussions with a top-up new experience of birds. The recipes for two days were delicious and cooked on time without any wastage or hesitation.
My new year should follow the following lines, that I really wish…..
“Having lots of confidence
like colour palette,
Stick to the situations just
As the life throws balls at us
Happy New year 2022 to each and every reader. Spread a smile and spread happiness and time will be with you.
FIRST DAY OF 2022
When we were young kids, we were told that whatever you do on the first day of the year; you will end up doing the same thing for the rest of the year. We used to make fun of this “superstition” and we would sleep on 1st Jan so that we get a chance to sleep a lot the whole year. Or we would go for a picnic on 1st Jan so that we keep going for picnics throughout the year. Of course, it never worked.
But guess what like all superstitions are healthy habits miscommunicated over the generations, this one was no different. Recently one of my coaches mentioned this –
“Be careful how you spend the first day of the New Year because this first day is as important for the rest of the year as the time of birth is for the rest of your life. The life of every human being is marked by the planetary influences at work at the time of their birth; the whole course of each life is contained in seed form from the beginning, which explains why horoscopes exist.
On a smaller scale, the first day of a year bears within it the seed of the days to come. This is why you must take care to live in light, love, and harmony on this first day. Throughout the day, through prayer, meditation, songs, good thoughts, and good feelings, try to inscribe imprints of light that will have a positive influence on all the days of this year.” – Omraam Mikhael Aivanhov
This just made so much sense. It is not that if you do certain activity on 1st Jan, you will end up doing the same activity. The fact is that the feelings that you have on the first day of the year (doing whatever you are doing) will have some influence on the rest of the year.
I spent the first day with my family and friends at Preeta’s place. Had a great time and the kids enjoyed a lot too. Preeta has already mentioned this day in her article. And I am really glad I spent the day in good and light feelings.
WAKING UP TO A NEW DAWN
The 31st evening it was.. the last day of the year gone by…I walked down the road from my building, with no particular direction in mind, only a printout to take and a few steps to make, to give my smart-band some much-needed activity. I said to myself “It is a number game after all”
The air was clear,
the mind at peace,
the hands flayed side to side
…and I had a smile on my face.
My heart seemed light,
for probably even my heart knew
it was the END of something after all.
It would soon get dark and a new day would dawn…
not just any day, but a new start… for a year was to begin all over again.
The day began…
The sun rose
I was up and about…for a walk again
I had a smile on my face as I took the stride
left and right and left again,
The baker was first, then the shop vendor
I went from place to place and wished them all… “a year to gain”
Happy New Year was the line,
as wishes came back to start a HAPPY New beginning.
Bread to break and a Newspaper to be read, the day had begun but this time – it was a new Year ALL OVER AGAIN.
What can I say!? First’s for me have always been special, be it my first ever date, my first ever salary, or even my first ever… <okay! there have been a lot of first’s, maybe I shouldn’t be getting into that, I’m not saying any more>
The day as it panned out, wasn’t out of the ordinary, as it should be. It was just a change in the date after all.
Wishing people, shaking their hands, and silently judging their confidence levels by their handshake is what generally happens on a day like this. I know it’s wrong, but can you help it?
Not every day do you get to hug people, shake their hands and get up close with another human being. However, the 1st day somehow makes that exception.
Yeah! Yeah! Covid and all… but come on! When you’re happy, you’re happy and the body reacts accordingly.
Here’s wishing every reader an awesome 365 days ahead – this year WILL be special, something in my heart just tells me that, not just for me but for the World at large. Just wait and see… actually don’t wait, I think we’ve all waited enough!
STEPPING INTO THE NEW YEAR TOGETHER
“We heal, not in isolation, but in togetherness”
This quote is so true, especially in the current times, when going out still contains a little risk. We managed for 2 years, sitting inside our homes and managing to stay together virtually. We all hope and pray that the new year marks the end of the scary coronavirus and the world is freed from the COVID pandemic.
We planned a get-together on the very first day of the new year. I met my sister Prabhjot after 2 years, though didn’t feel like meeting her after ages, as we are in constant touch with each other through WhatsApp. However, it was different for our kids, who rarely video call each other. My elder son doesn’t like to talk to his friends virtually. He says that he misses them and wants to meet them, physically, face to face. The kids have really suffered a lot during this pandemic. It feels bad that they missed out a lot due to isolation.
Yesterday, our sons were super excited since morning and were so happy to meet each other after a long gap. They played, laughed out loudly, danced, and had fun together. Now, they are looking forward to more such frequent get-togethers, and so are we.
Spending time together with family & friends, sharing joy & happiness, having endless talks, and eating delicacies are indeed delightful. With a beautiful start to this new year, I wish the rest of the days are well spent, for everyone. I pray that we get to meet our loved ones often and share the good times, for togetherness is a wonderful place to be in.
Stay happy! Stay together!
SHAVING OFF MY DARK-UGLY-LOOKING HAIR
All that I have done in my life were mostly need-based rather than for fun and pleasure. And on the 29th of the last month, I sat down to trim my hair and I went on to shave them till I was almost bald. As I looked at my dark and ugly-looking hair falling on the newspaper, a thought came to my mind.
How often do we tend to tread the path of sickness, suffering, and sinfulness in a particular time period of our life? The preconceived, the preoccupied, the presumed thoughts, ideas, and prejudices we tend to gather as we walk. These thoughts or ideas either turn us into persons having a closed mindset or judgmental. Neither it helps us on a personal note nor solves the purpose of our creation, that is being an instrument for God towards the fellow human.
So what should we do? How should we help ourselves to be more useful for the sole purpose of our creation? My answer to this question is – GO THROUGH A PROCESS OF UNLEARNING.
Unlearning every thought that tells me I am better than others, unlearning the prejudice I have that people should revolve around me, unlearning the very idea of I should stay self-sufficient without bothering about what is happening in my neighborhood. The days have changed after the onset of the Pandemic. And it is high time that we get rid of this mindset of revolving around our own set rules for life.
When I look at my completely shaven head today, I see a blank slate of my life and feel happy that I am ready to learn afresh without having any preoccupied ideas or prejudices about people and their life. As new hair starts growing on my head, I will learn things that are new and something very different than what I have never experienced before in life. And I know, I need to unlearn from all that I have previously before being active on what I want to do afresh this year onward.
How about you? Are you ready to shave off and unlearn along with me? Then don’t have second thoughts to it, just do it.
IN SEARCH OF MYSELF
On the 365th day of the year looking back I wonder what major achievement did I have this year.. can’t think of anything spectacular… I survived that’s my achievement. I could manage to somehow stumble through this maze of the physical, mental, financial, emotional onslaught of Covid.
But looking back I noticed one thing. I have somehow lost my essence in this whole struggle. It is as if I have put myself on hold somewhere, in the wait for things to normalize once again.
I have come to realize this is not how it works. We can’t stop living our life fully in wait for circumstances to improve. Things have changed and will keep changing. Times will be good and bad. But we need to keep on living not just surviving. Keep on making memories. This time once gone is not going to come back ..
In 2022 I hope to find myself again. I need to drop this cloak of being a ‘bechari‘ (poor me) a victim of circumstances. I am going to find myself again. Take me out of this endless round of chores at home and work and gain some new experiences.
I am leaving behind the feeling of helplessness and melancholy in 2021. Looking forward to writing more, learning new skills, experiencing life more not just in front of the screen.
I know it’s too ambitious but kuch to ho hi jayega (Something should happen). At least the intentions are there, the search begins.
A CHANGE FOR THE BETTER
At this time of life,
Are you who you wanted to be, as a person?
Have you acheived what you wanted to? (To a good extent at least?)
Doing what you always wanted to do?
My answers are – definitely not. Before the pandemic hit, I would have given a different answer. The pandemic really changed my course of life in ways I could never imagine. It has shown me the lows of relationships and how people are. It has destroyed my travel plans. On the positive note, I have spent lot of time with my family, which otherwise wouldn’t have been possible.
As we were entering 2020, I had big plans for that year. The sounding of that year itself is so perfect. I had plans to go on more than couple of international trips. Take sabbatical towards the end and persue my passion to uncover the creative side of me. By the mid of 2021, I can restart my job and fall back into the groove of life. Two years just passed by, and I did none of these.
The work from home situation has actually made professional setup worse. I literally realised how difficult it is to convey things without actually talking and seeing each other’s expressions. I am sure, many would agree. This discomfort has increased our work timings. It takes lot more time to move from a dialogue phase to decision phase virtually. The fun is also lower. The sense of connection is low as well. Never ever, have I thought I would be pissed off with my current job and that happened. Not because I don’t love what I do, but, I just don’t want to do it all my day from morning till night.. Wow, that’s a lot of time to commit and on top of it, it took away my “me” time. Lost loved ones to the pandemic, added pain and suffering.
Many of us went through similar suffering. Our lives have changed, challenges we face have changed and the outlook we had of life changed. We have the right to be mad at the pandemic. No matter how many curve balls life threw at us, we tried to play them hoping for the best. We were out of control with everything, including our health and life insurances. We were forced to live with the least and we did.
I don’t know about you, but, my take on living life has changed because of the pandemic. From a casual, I have atleast 30 more years to live, I started accepting, not a single day is mine anymore. I have learnt how important it is to have nominees for every single penny of mine. How important it is to have a heartful conversation when we have the oppurtunity. How important it is to do the several “crazy things” when I can.
The very thing I have put an end to is, thinking there is some other time. There is no such time. Now, it is. As the world is reopening, with precautions I want to restart things I have put a pause on. We should, we all should.
“A man is like a novel: until the very last page you don’t know how it will end. Otherwise it wouldn’t be worth reading.” –Yevgeny Zamyatin
END OF 2021 TO NEW BEGINNINGS
29 December 2021
When 2020 ended, I believed that there cannot be a year with more to learn from. But I was wrong, 2021 had, even more, shocks and surprises saved for me and all of us.
I was more of a crying baby till the last couple of months, not that I would cry in front of anybody but in general, I would keep complaining about how horrible my life is and how cool everybody else is. I had my reasons to do so. There are always reasons, right? But what is important – our valid reasons or our dear lives full of possibilities.
I know for sure that one major reason for this change was seeing death so close by. Our own mortality and the fear of being suffocated at the hands of this virus and dying was probably the biggest factor that jolted me out of my bubble and forced me to take responsibility for my own happiness and my own needs.
In 2021, I am putting an end to my helplessness, self-pity, poor self-image, and lack of confidence. With the rise of 2022, I pray from the depth of my heart to have enough confidence and strength to own up to whatever wrong or right happens in my life. To stand up for what is right and believe in my intuitions.
Yeah, these are all big words. Let me tell you how I plan to do it.
I want to be a spiritual seeker, I want to experience the limits of the physical nature of this body and touch what is beyond physical. Again big words, oops sorry. In short, I am taking up multiple courses related to spirituality to learn different meditations that can make me reach my highest potential and even touch what is beyond. I believe I am ready for it now.
The second big skill that I want to learn is all the new ways of investing money – crypto, NFT’s, etc. Its been too long that I have been just not paying attention to the money that I earn. So, now beginning to take money investments seriously.
Well, these are just the two things that I want to focus on in the coming year. They are quite opposite to each other – one is a spiritual path and the other is a materialistic one. However, I am looking at it in a holistic way. I simply want to grow a few steps in having better physical health, mental health, spiritual health, and financial health.
Seems too ambitious?? Well, let’s see what I end up writing next year at the same time.
THANK YOU YEAR 2021
“Endings are the –
Beginning of a new era of hope,
Beginning of a new phase of scope.
It is in an ongoing process,
Which sometimes is hard to digest.
Still, life has to go through phases,
To taste the flavour of situations
and their causes.
Endings are to be cherished with
lots of love and blessings,
To connect with every moment
of life and its earnings.”
It is always seen, when something comes to an end, a new beginning shows up. It is actually a cycle of all the deeds and times. When you plan for something, the time of planning and execution are added. The day is well spent with proper execution and delivery of ideas, as you have already thought of. But the day ends with lots of memories of laughter and giggles. Next, you plan for something else to do in life. As our life is an ongoing process of events, we are attached to the strings of hope, motivation, encouragement, disagreements, love, empathy, sympathy, hatred, and many more. Still, the show must go on.
As an endless journey of life, I have experienced lots of things this year in 2021. Last year’s lockdown was an eye-opener for me. That time span of 10 months ( from March end to December 2020 end) I have explored many new things in my handy device, started writing again after years. It was just like a time pass for me initially. Later with many things, many disagreements, and ignorance, I started assembling myself with my thoughts and visions. I tried to gain my dignity which with the passing of time, I had lost my identity as a human being. This year I got through the awakening of my heart and soul. My mind became a great teacher and with the support of my mother, I started living life in a different way. I started seeing things in a lighter way, but with all the answers and possibilities.
Gradually, I felt that I am evolving as a writer, author, and co-author of many anthologies. Not to forget, Candles online and a great friend Chiradeep are added to that list. I could able to establish my new identity. This small thing gave me the link to the world of duties and responsibilities with more love and empathy. With due course of time, I learned languages in a deeper way. The time of ignorance is blissfully ended and a new chapter started with new words, new thoughts, new ideas, new chords.
The New Me is a more important part of my own identity. If I can help myself to be happy and content without any expectations from anyone, then my life looks blissful and sorted.
Just move on and live in the present– That’s the mantra of my life now.
Don’t think that others may leave you alone in the midway. No, the loved ones will be there always with you. Yes, time may be different. But they will be there always with you if they really care for you.
In the New Year, I have no plans or resolutions to make. But I will try to make a fruitful year again.
“What to write about the RESOLUTION,
It takes a lot of effort for EVOLUTION.
Many say it is easy for CONSIDERATION,
But actually, it’s not easy in MODERATION.
Lastly, I owe to everyone, who has come across my life this year and showered blessings upon me.
Thank you – The year 2021.
AN END BEFORE THE START
As a ritual, every single year – the last week of the year (around this time) I will unfailingly, FORMAT my Android phone and re-install all the apps. I do not break my head to retrieve the contacts that are lost via the whole formatting procedure. If they’re gone, they’re gone for a purpose-probably they were never meant to be there in the first place.
That’s my simple way of saying to myself – Here I go again… same old, YES – but a new beginning.
Relationships change, so do people-and having one’s phone crowded with people’s numbers is not something that I fancy, hence the yearly exercise. Does it feel good? Oh hell yeah! There’s a thrill in starting over!
I’ve always believed ‘something’ HAS to end… for something else beautiful to start. People tend to hold onto things, photographs, memories, and gadgets – like they are body parts. Attachments can be really BAD. The lesser we attach to things and people, the happier we will be
Give it a chance and see the difference.
My friends always say:
We really do not know what to gift you, because we don’t really know what you’re fond of.
If you ask me, I do not know either coz I’m attached to nothing or no one in particular. I do love being around a certain type of people, or enjoy doing a certain kind of activity from time to time… but I’ll move on to something else that catches my fancy, that’s just ME and I really love that part of me, coz that way I am never really bored/disappointed.
I do not put my happiness in other people’s hands, I do simple everyday things that make me happy, things that we tend to miss with the hectic lives that we lead.
I am someone who lives for the moment, I do not capture memories on my phone or on a camera lens, I simply live them. Another trait that makes me unique is: with me around, you will never know “What’s coming next” and while I tend to remain calm at most times, I can surprise even myself on a good day.
9th January 1982, began my journey on this Earth, and while that has been one start to the life that I’ve been living ever since – I have had many re-starts, and subsequent endings along the way, only to realise it was time to start again… it has helped me grow as a person, to learn the lesson and be the better version of myself next time round.
I do not wish for great things, nor do I look back on what went right or wrong, for whatever happens – happens for a reason. I’ve made it this far… I’ll make it ahead too, probably an extraa…aaamile or two, and if I have the right company, a hand to hold in this journey forward – nothing like it!
For every End has a beautiful beginning – may THAT beginning be not necessarily at the start of the year, but even the start of a week or as early as tomorrow.
A NEW DAY is a new beginning.
Rocking her baby, bogged down by the opinion of nay-sayers around and about her, her gaze traversed the window. She saw another woman donning the hat of an “equal breadwinner” for her family and making her stride into the world. She thought “I wish I was in her shoes”
Marching ahead towards her awaiting deadlines and agendas as her heart was crushing hard under the gloom she was carrying. “Not a mother yet” pricked through her heart. She rolled down the windowpane as she saw a kid jumping in muddy puddles with glee as the mother looked on with joy. She thought “I wish I was in her shoes”.
The happiness of the kid was short-lived as his father reprimanded him for being a mess. As the kid was being dictated by commandments of DOs & DON’Ts that sad face rolled to the other side and saw a rich man surrounded by a brigade of servants and only his say mattered. The kid thought “I wish I was in his shoes”.
The rich man as he awaited for his vehicle to arrive saw a young man riding a bike with his guitar hung across his back. It reminded him of his lost love in the depths of oblivion while he chased new heights tirelessly. The rich man thought “I wish I was in his shoes”.
The young man whose struggles have just begun in the pursuit of his passion pondering over his future probabilities and possibilities felt the heat of venturing out in the tricky, tough and often merciless stage called the world. He stopped by a house to ask for a glass of water. A lady came out with her baby in her arms and it reminded the young man of what a safe haven home is. Looking at the baby, the young man thought “I wish I was in his shoes”.
And the baby in the arms of the mother who was sleeping blissfully smiled in his sleep…
This is a simplistic view of how we perceive and look at the world. Deep down in our hearts, we are convinced that others are happier than us. Our eyes are open to looking at the merrier view and our shallow wisdom restricts our capability to even conceive the thought that every story has a different background and narration. It is like a beautiful cover page of a magazine that attracts our attention, mesmerized by the gloss and the colour we instantly forget that it’s a collaborative effort of many technicians and technicalities. About the physical, emotional, mental stress people might undergo in the process is not even a distant thought in our thoughts, for we are takers of only happy faces. And not to mention that our obsession with those pretty faces is so much that we start to loathe our reality – a harbinger for unhappiness, think about it.
HAVE FAITH TO MOVE ON
“Confused and overburdened mind,
Spoils the charm of the day in every kind.
The solution, if you cannot find,
The time will take charge to grind.”
This is the situation, I was going through within the last few weeks. It’s true that time is not always with you. It keeps on changing, whether you are aware of it or it is unknown and uncertain for you. It’s like the wave of a sea. You are standing at a point on the beach and waiting for the big wave to hit you and drench you, yet it is like you are waiting for it forever. But you can see big waves just around you on your left and on your right.
Our life is similar to this. We plan a lot of things together for family, friends and for ourselves, but all the plans don’t always work the way we want. That’s why the proverb, “Man proposes, God disposes”, is perfect.
For the last few days, I can feel a writer’s block and burden of work, the board exam of my son. And all these were making me so confused and overburdened. I tried to help myself with yoga and meditation, but I still could not be happy within. It felt like, the time is just slipping away from my palms. I want to do many things, but time is less. It felt like, I am about to die, but want to live eagerly. It was like a dilemmatic situation for me.
Sometimes the workflow is good and convenient with time. But sometimes it’s too hard to cope up. If we ignore a very tiny part, it may create a huge difference and there’s a chance of committing a mistake too. I went through this situation. It was hard to gulp, “how can I do this? How can I ignore this?”
This has been happening to me for sometime, but one thing I realized is that I can overcome any problem if I have faith.
And I started reciting…
“Take a long breath, take a break,
Pray to God for help in the whole mind,
Keep patience in your heart
And wait for the magic to happen.”
As I believe in one more thing, if you think positively in spite of all odds, you can win over the odd situations. Have faith in God and be true to yourself. Give your best shot and move on.
A PIGEON’S MISCARRIAGE
On opening the door to my residential quarters after a month long absence, I was greeted with a bearably faint musty odour, a thin film of dust on all surfaces, a few cobwebs here and there – signs of briefly uninhabited premises! As I flung open the connecting doors and windows to let the chilly winter breeze do a few oscillations and ventilate the house, I was glad that there wasn’t really much cleaning up to do after all. This relief was about to last for just a few seconds!
No sooner had I opened the door to my bathroom, that I took a step back at what I saw. A pigeon’s nest had fallen from an open vent above right on the toilet seat!!
Well, there was work after all!
As I picked up the twigs, small branches and dried leaves, I looked up sensing a brief movement. Lo and behold! Mama pigeon was cozily sitting on her eggs, having built a brand new nest.
It took some time for me to clean up the mess during which the nesting perseverance of the pigeons was something I pondered upon.
As I resumed official work the next day to be greeted with heaps of pending files, Mama pigeon and the nest was the last thing on my mind!
It wasn’t meant to be that way for long, though.
I returned home after the day’s work only to find the new nest broken (and yes, fallen on the toilet seat, to my great displeasure). Having no other way out, as I started clearing up the clutter, I found a broken egg amidst the dried leaves and twigs.
Who knows what instincts would have crisscrossed Mama pigeon’s mind, having had two broken nests and one broken egg. Will she build her nest again? Will she give up? Will she be able to have any squabs this season? Ah well! That’s the pigeon’s life!
This drove me to think about the countless women worldwide who miscarry their unborns. For every baby that is born there are many fetuses that get miscarried and many still-borns who remain as bars on the tally charts leaving many women to gulp their crucibles of sorrow silently. How many of them get cared for by their partners, family and friends before they heal up – physically and emotionally?
The Mama pigeon’s miscarriage might have stirred up her instincts with probably none of her kiln having an inkling to it. We humans can surely do much better!
IF LIFE IS TOUGH…
Yes, dear life,
I’ll never give up on you.
No matter what you throw my way
I’ll definitely survive the day.
You will always see a smile on my face
For, I believe in living with grace.
I’m not the one to sit and cry
I’ve been taught to touch the highs.
I’m the mountain girl
who carries the sunshine in her curls
who carries the sunshine in her curls.
To all those who feel like giving up
show life who’s the BOSS, Yes!