WE LIVE IN TIMES OF FAKE NEWS

Rumour and gossip have been around for as long as mankind existed. Many a thrones have toppled, relationships broken, careers made or destroyed because of rumours. In olden days through word of mouth the rumours were spread from one person to another and like a classic case of Chinese whispers  everyone adding their own twist to it used to spread like wild fire across the town. 

But these days with the advent of technology rumours have got wings i.e. the social media. This Social media takes just hours even minutes for things to go viral. And everyone who reads it or sees the video believe it to be true without applying their mind. 

I have seen live examples of it. People I know who  see some edited video on YouTube and get enraged because so and so person said such and such thing that they took offence to. 

‘Wait a minute Bro! do you know for sure it happened?’

“Yes I saw it on the Internet’

My dear boy understand not everything you read on WhatsApp and watch on YouTube or Face Book or Instagram or Twitter is true. Even articles looking like authentic news website articles are not true at times. Just because there is a picture or a video with the article does not make it the truth.

‘What is it then?’

It is FAKE NEWS. Where deliberately hoaxes, rumours, misinformation is propagated as news. They are presented as factually correct news. And mostly propagated through social media. It is done by satirical news websites or individual websites with an incentive to propagate false information, either as clickbait or to serve a purpose

This kind of rumour mongering is done so professionally that at times it becomes difficult to differentiate between what is real and what is fake. 

The 2016 Presidential Election in the US were marred by so many articles giving fake news and rumours and I am sure must have affected the outcome.

In India if you may have noticed that if there are any chances of communal riots etc the Government first puts curb on Internet services as the rumour mongering and infuriating people with fake news is at its best during those times. 

During these difficult times of COVID Virus attack and lockdown everywhere, we are all feeding on the news we get from WhatsApp. All sorts of precautions and medicines and other means are being propagated. Some are true some don’t make sense at all. I have come across at least 5-6 conspiracy theories on who started the spread of Coronavirus. All of them cannot be true.

Let’s not be the educated illiterate. Let’s not fuel this fake news industry. They want us to fall prey to their designs. Let’s not be the graduates of ‘University of WhatsApp’. We need to be alert. Verify everything before forwarding on social media. If its not possible to verify please do not forward it. 

For latest news and updates follow only the News Channels. Please don’t propagate false information. Maybe we realise that its only a rumour or story going around but someone somewhere  out there is believing this to be true. And irreversibly changing his/her mindset.

GOOD LUCK . . . FOR THIS EXAM!

Whenever my husband is really stressed he gets different versions of this dream . . .
It’s his school final exam . . . He is late . . .  And try as he might he is not able to reach on time…

Or he reaches the venue and realises that he has prepared for a different subject and exam is of a different subject…

The most hilarious one is that he has prepared himself completely to cheat in the exam but in the examination hall he cannot find the parchees (the small chits of paper used for copying). Next day morning we have a hearty laugh on the struggles he faced in his dreams. This way or that he says my struggle with exams is not getting over even decades after I have given my last exam.

There is another one . . . If everything goes well the question paper is out of syllabus.
I believe it’s the same with life. It’s an exam but the syllabus is not provided so the questions are always out of syllabus and we have to use our thoughts and experiences to ace it.

Another quote that Google gave me and I completely agree with is –
Life is the most difficult exam..
Many people fail because they try to copy others
Not realising that everyone has a different question paper..
Yes we all are giving a different exam, fighting mini battles at different fronts. Winning some and getting wounded by some. That’s how life is!

I once commented to someone that my life is pretty ordinary nothing extraordinary in it. Its like a straight path. I had this fairy tale notion that it should be like a wave with crests and troughs. Of course at that time I had been thinking only about the highs and not the lows. And life took my words literally with only a minor change. My wave began with trough rather than crest and I hit rock bottom. About two and a half years ago my husband lost his job and that taken for granted salary at the end of each month suddenly vanished. Since then it’s the biggest exam we have ever faced as a couple. During this time we have had many new experiences – struggling to keep a business afloat, looking for a job, fallout with friends, worrying about the big expenses cropping up suddenly in life. I was not prepared for this at all. I have led a rather sheltered life till now. Worrying about money was never on my agenda. Okay, we were not millionaires but there was enough to go buy. Looking at others I used to despair. Why am I facing these hardships while others are enjoying? (looking at your FB newsfeed its very easy to assume that everyone is having a gala time in their life). 

It took me some time to come out of my self-pity but then I realised that its not only me; each and every one of us is giving an exam. Only his or her question paper is different. They may not be struggling in the areas as us, but they are surely fighting the battle on a different front.

These exams / struggles / troughs do change you. I think I am a more confident person now. Gone is that scared girl who used to turn to her father and now her husband at the first sign of problem. I think I can handle things better. Even though the peak of my crest is a long long way away. I really think that at least the ascent has begun.

Wishing Good Luck to everyone for this exam…

P.S. : Since we are on the topic of exams just wanted to share that we as a family are entering that crucial year when both my children would be facing a Board exam at the end of the coming year. And all of us who are familiar with the Indian education system know how stressful it can be. So, keep my kiddos in your prayers and send your good wishes.

BAKE SOMEONE HAPPY

Tell me one thing.  Why can’t we summon the God sent Jinee 🡪 Swiggy or Zomato  every single day?

 Why is it heavy on the stomach and the pocket?

According to me the best part of a vacation is that we can just pick up the phone and order food. Room Delivery is the magic word. But vacations are few and far between and alas they don’t last forever.

So even people like me who are allergic to kitchen have to enter the kitchen and produce something edible on the plate every day. 

And to top it all I am a mother of two teenage boys who are perpetually hungry. Every time they want something tasty and stomach filling and I want it to be healthy as well. So the pressure on me is very heavy. 

Few years back on my insistence we bought a microwave oven. Even thought I had no plans to use it more than a reheating device I decided to buy the best model with the convection and grill options. The convection mode meant I could use it for baking as well.

My hubby was joking that this will be another piece of machinery which would just look beautiful on my kitchen cabinet but would be hardly used. Now this hit my ego and I decided to be a world class baker just to prove him wrong. 

So to cut the long story short I tried many cake recipes. After a few failed attempts I stumbled upon a recipe for making muffins. And my dream of becoming a famous chef became partially true. This fail safe recipe has helped me out on many a kids get-together, picnics etc. And  I have been able to impress my friends also with these muffins. I have shared this recipe with many so dear friends I will share it with you also here. Hope it works out well for you too.

Basically mix all the wet ingredients and dry ingredients in separate bowls.

Dry: Mix 2 cups of all purpose flour (Maida), 3/4 cup of cocoa powder, 1 tea spoon of baking powder, 1 cup granulated sugar and half a spoon of salt in one bowl.

Wet: Whisk 1 & 1/4 cup of milk, 2 table spoon of melted butter, 1/3 cup of vegetable oil, little vanilla extract and two beaten eggs together.

Mix both the wet and dry ingredients for not more than 10 seconds. The batter should be lumpy. Remember 🡪 Don’t over mix it as it will lead to hard misshapen muffins. As soon as the wet and dry ingredients are mixed together, the liquid will activate the baking powder and the batter will have to be baked right away.

Take out cutely shaped silicon muffin moulds, grease it and spoon the batter into the mould. Make sure to fill it only three fourths. Sprinkle some chocolate chips on it and put it in the pre-heated oven for 15 minutes and bake it at 180 degrees.

Now just sit and watch the oven work its magic. Watch the muffins rise in their mould. And after 15 minutes take it out and de-mould it.

now enjoy the yummylicious muffins. I promise you won’t be disappointed.

Maybe this will be the stepping stone for you to go on and become a world class baker…

THE YOUNG REBELS

This topic of rebellion has been discussed by my fellow writers throughout the week. I am writing in the fag end of the week but even after reading all the articles I am still not sure of my own opinion about rebellion. 

Is ‘Rebellion’ good or bad? The course of world history has changed due to the major rebellions or revolutions. We have grown up reading about the French revolution or the American Revolution. And the rebels have been hailed as heroes in these revolutions. 

But a rebellion need not always be of astronomical proportions. We see tiny rebellions in our everyday life. I will give you a few examples.

As a teenager I was a rule follower maybe because I was a bit timid and didn’t want confrontations. But my rebellions were visible in tiny ways- like my nail paint colours. I used to put all sorts of colours combinations on my nails. The horror expression on my father’s face when he saw my nails used to give me immense satisfaction. Once I had put a dirty grey colour speckled with gold and silver dots and my father commented that it looks like I have dipped my nails in the gutter outside and come. You won’t believe it I was so happy hearing this comment. I was just trying to assert my freedom by rebelling against the norms of those days. In today’s times I think almost everyone experiments with their nail paints so it would be considered normal. 

Even a small baby can rebel. You know how? Well almost every mother with a small baby will be able to relate to this. The child is crying for a feed and the mother is a little held up in some work. She finishes her chore and then comes to feed the baby. Now the infant’s patience has been tested in these couple of minutes delay. He will show his rebellion by crying out loudly and not taking his feed even though he is hungry now as he wants to show his displeasure at being put at second priority. Controlling this rebellion is a huge uphill task for the young mother. First the baby has to be placated and then fed.

Well those days are long gone in my life. Now I am a mother to two teenage boys. The outbursts of small mutiny and rebellion happen many times in my house now. Mostly it is against the rules we lay down for them. And usually I am the one who does the job of the mediator between them and their Dad. What I have noticed is that children try to test the limits set for them by their rebellions. And mostly succeed in pushing the boundaries a little with every tiny mutiny. We as parents have to balance between giving a little and keeping the discipline.

CONNECTING WITH OTHERS

The famous writer and philanthropist Sudha Murthy in the ‘Introduction’ of her novel ‘Something happened on the way to heaven’ writes:

‘I was filled with awe as I realised that the books I’ve been able to write are really not about me at all  – they are about the people I’ve met, the places I’ve been to and the lives I’ve had the privilege of being part of. I felt blessed – so fortunate to be in a position to help people, even as they found it in their hearts to let me inside their world and share their most private thoughts and problems with me. They’ve given me their stories and I’ve had a chance to be a character in their tales. Sometimes, I’ve been lucky enough to be the lead actor, but at most other times, I’ve been an incidental character or simply unbiased storyteller.’

When I read this I found so much of my thoughts mirrored in what she had to say. Of course, I am not a writer of her calibre or repute. I am a simple blogger but I have come to realise that I too have mostly written about the people I have come across in my life. The problems or triumphs or simple anecdotes from their life really adds colour to my articles. Being connected to people has really enhanced my writings. 

Not just in writing, focusing on people around me has helped me be a better person. I have come to realise there are phases in my life. There have been times I have been so bogged down by my own problems that I have withdrawn into a shell and lost touch with my own extended family and friends. During this phase I feel very miserable and I am not able to come out of my melancholy. Its only when I remove the focus from myself and actually focus on others that I am back to my normal self. Delving into our problems brings only more sadness but helping others with their problems or just interacting with them makes our problems go away too. This works for me, maybe because I am an extrovert. And I love to be around people and hate being alone. I feel connecting with others just enriches me as a person and makes me more interesting. 

Connecting with others is a sense of being open and available to another person, even as you feel they are open and available to you. Try connecting and it makes life much easier and lighter because we also receive the empathy and love that we give.

2019 – LESSONS LEARNT AND GIFTS RECEIVED

This past year gave me a very precious gift and also some sombre learning…

Gift: 2019 was the year when I got back to working again. After a huge sabbatical of 10 – 11 years I was back in a proper job. Not an internship or a struggling business but a proper 9 – 5 job. I got back something I really yearned for in the past years, appreciation for my work. All those housewives out there will agree with me. Being a homemaker is a never ending job and moments of appreciation for a job well done are very few and far between. Our work is generally taken for granted. No doubt we get all the love from our family members but still appreciation of our work is just not there. 

So back to my job when I joined this school initially I fumbled a little bit. Took time to understand the system. But when within 4 – 5 months of joining when I got a small note of appreciation from the Principal, I was in seventh heaven. I love the feeling of adrenalin pumping through me when we manage events and other activities. Actually I got my self-worth back. The feeling that yes I still have something in me, that I too can do a good job and manage things was a really big gift. So thank you 2019 for showing me my own value.

Learning: One of the biggest thing that 2019 taught me was value of money. I know this may sound strange. We generally hear all the philosophers saying that money can’t buy happiness or money is not everything. But I will tell you from experience – Money is important. It may not be the ‘Be all and End all’ of our life but it is still an essential thing required to survive. I have learned this year how to stretch a rupee. How to make the most of what I have. Maybe this frugality has come to me because I have started earning on my own. My own sweat goes into earning the salary I am getting. Now I get up early in the morning prepare food and get ready and I am out of the house when people around me are still completing their morning walks. All hard work and extra effort  has maybe made me appreciate the money coming into my account even more. 

Thanks a lot  2019. Hoping for a much much better 2020. Ending with just one last note a huge thank you to all my family and friends for the amazing support they have given me in the last couple of years.

ERUPT -IX

Jay stormed into the room. He was mad with anger. 

Reeta looked at him calmly. Strangely enough she could not find any emotions in herself. She was like a dead body incapable of feeling anything. 

And her dead pan expression enraged Jay even further. He was used to seeing fear in her eyes. It was like he was seeing a new Reeta. 

Stupid woman! You wretched, good for nothing woman… What were you thinking? Trying to sabotage my career at this stage. Never given me an ounce of pleasure. Always brought misfortunes in my life. Where were you the whole night? Do you have no shame? If you were not worried about your reputation at least you should have remembered whom you were married to…”  He shouted at her.

That’s exactly what I was trying to forget…” Retorted Reeta.

Upon hearing this an irate Jay lifted his hand and slapped Reeta hard on her cheek. She fell over backwards but this did not stop her from speaking her mind. “Yes” she said “I wanted to forget all about you I wanted to run away from you. I feel suffocated here. I can’t breathe. I want to leave.”

Oh! so now this is a new drama you have started. You want to leave is it? And go where? Remember I am the only one you have.” Jay curled his lips derisively. “You are my property… remember I will not let you go anywhere… You are my wife and you will stay by my side and show the world how happy we are together.” He took a step towards her and caught hold of her wrist, pulled her towards him. With his face inches away from her face he hissed menacingly “Believe me I will make you do this even if I have to kill you for it“. He loved the look of terror in her eyes. This is what he wanted to see. 

With his ego placated a bit, he flung her wrist, turned and walked out of the room. 

Reeta was left behind nursing the bruises on her face and wrist. Even tears had dried up in her eyes now. But the frustration made her cry out loud. She wailed and screamed into her pillow. Punched the pillow, threw the bedside lamp on the floor. But that rage just did not subside. She just didn’t want to give in today. Like she had been doing for past so many years. Things were not always like this. She had come into Jay’s life as a starry eyed bride and he too behaved like a loving husband. Things started changing when he started rising in his political career. She came to know about a wholly different side of his character. One who was capable of taking bribes and following other corrupt practices. When she objected to any of it the domestic violence started  supposedly to put her in her place. The rift widened when they realised that they could not have any children. She went through a lot of treatment and many IVF cycles but they were not blessed with a child. After that she became totally worthless to him. She became only the good looking trophy wife which he could flaunt in his political circles and a great body to satisfy his physical needs. 

There was absolutely no emotional bond left between them still she was carrying the burden of this marriage because she knew no other way of living life. With no family to fall back on she didn’t know whom to go to for support or help. 

But the final nail in the coffin was when she heard about his affair with a much younger girl. She was shattered. She felt like a tissue paper which he used and threw away without much thought. 

She felt no bond with him anymore but still he had control over her emotions. He could still instill fear in her. She hated the fact that he could still manipulate her. 

I really need to get away from him before he completely destroys me.” This thought crossed her mind again. She started obsessively thinking about it. “Of course I can’t be as reckless as I was yesterday. I need to plan.”

I will need help.” She knew she couldn’t get help from her current set of friends or acquaintances. They were all too enamoured by Jay and his greatness. They wouldn’t understand. As such the newspapers are out to label her as a mental case. “Who else then?” She thought.  “What about that guy with the car?” “Naah… He was eyeing me throughout the night and was too young to help me out… Anyways I wouldn’t know how to contact him and after what I did to his car I am sure he would run far away from me.” She laughed at that memory and then winced when the bruise on her cheek pained. 

Rex!” The name popped in her mind. “He seemed like a good guy… But he called the police and helped me back to this hell… Will he help…?”