WHAT I DO TO PICK MYSELF UP

Last year I had a brief spell in my life when everything turned upside down. Despite all the light around me everything seemed dark. A small term paper submission triggered an avalanche of self-doubt in me and for a week I was mentally paralyzed. I began to wonder what the hell I am doing with my life.

I had left my job for pursuing my masters in English literature as I wanted to rebuild my career, start from scratch ,and do something I actually like and care for. The term paper submission got me all tensed and worked up and I started to rethink about the decision I had taken. I even tried to find a way if I could get back my old job. I had almost made up my mind do drop out from the course and look for another job if I could not get back my old job.

I was living alone and did not have anybody to share this with. My parents would get too worried for me and my situation was such that only a few could understand my agony. A friend who had made a similar decision helped me out and calmed me down. His conversations helped me a lot. Another thing which kept me strong during this phase was taking long walks. I would wake up and go for long aimless walks till my legs hurt. And I did that even in the evenings. I would have walked 5 kms on certain days. And those were the only times I did not think of my decision.

Apart from definite health benefits walks can be very helpful to our emotional and mental well being I believe.  Whenever I am at home in Siliguri I take long walks to the nearby “fafri” forests. The sight of the tall Sal trees, the sound of the morning birds, the sight of the mischief-making monkeys, and the company of strangers clears my head and prepares me to face another day. When I was in Tezpur, a quaint town on the banks of Brahmaputra in the state of Assam, I would always take a walk during the evenings to Ganesh-Ghat and sit beside the quiet waters of Brahmaputra and contemplate. It was soothing and relaxing at the end of a taxing day.

Another activity which pumps me up is listening to music. This is especially on holidays when I’m feeling very lazy and also at times when I feel low. I never keep a readymade playlist at hand and usually listen to varying genres across different languages. One common thing across them is that I look for uplifting and relatable lyrics along with good music. The well-written songs carry stories and episodes which can really lift up your mood and elevate your mind.

Deep conversation with select-few friends, either in person or over phone, is a blessing which I relish whenever I get a chance. A very personal thing I try to do, whenever I have to cope up with a situation beyond me, is to pray. At times in my room or go to the church, sit by myself, close my eyes, and just soak in the quietness, the solemn atmosphere, and let myself feel all that comes my way without inhibition and leave it at the hands of the almighty who is my sign of hope, love and life. I just feel light within, as if a burden has been lifted off me, and it gives me the courage and strength to continue to fight my battles.

An extra tip: Indulging in your favorite food can also work a charm when you are down in the dumps. A margarita pizza or an amazing misti-doi (you can google it) with semi-mashed himsagar mangoes does it for me.

INSPIRED BY MUSIC

During my school days, I always hated Maths and was always trapped in the web of Alphas and the Betas. To release my stress, I tried listening to music while doing my sums and it worked. I used to get inspired to practice more. I was glued to the stereo, or the walkman.

Years later, the FM radio replaced the walkmans and cellphones emerged. It was  a boon for music lovers, who could enjoy songs anywhere and anytime.

I love listening to music, whether going on a drive or for a walk. If I am feeling blue, I prefer listening to music. And on days when I am happy, I love to dance on tapping numbers.

Music has been a bonding element for me and my sons. I sing them lullabies and dance with them. Kids also learn better if there is singing and music in the learning process (being a pre-primary teacher, I know how much the children go gaga over the music).

I guess there’s hardly any individual who doesn’t like music. It is like a therapy, at least for me. When I miss my hubby, I listen to music. Sometimes I shed tears when I listen to touchy songs and feel better after that.

Music is not restricted to electronic gadgets, it is found everywhere. The nature has music in abundance. Think of the splendor of green mountains and birds chirping there. Recall a stream of water or a waterfall for instance, the thought itself feels so refreshing. It’s an instant mood lifter and inspiring too.

Whenever I feel that nothing is going right and my life is hell, I just put earphones in my ears and feel the music telling me to just move on.

The quote “music helps me when no one else does” stand true for me!

HOW MOZART AND JAPANESE ROCK INSPIRE ME

One of my oldest memories is that of putting a giant set of headphones on, as a child, and listening to music. Being born into a musically inclined family meant that from the cradle up, we were exposed to music, and thankfully music from all genres. If my Father was fond of Ghazals and Indian Classical, my Mother was into Lata, Asha, Kishore, while members of my joint family exposed me to everything right from Western classical giants like Chopin, Mozart, Beethoven to more contemporary masters like The Beatles, Led Zeppelin, The Carpenters and even Metallica. Growing up, I added my own variety to the kind of music I listened to, ranging from contemporary rock artists like Alterbridge and Britney Spears (yes, I’ve had bad taste in music too) to New Age Musicians like Yanni and Secret Garden. And even today, I can’t say if I have one single favorite band or song. I’ve hundreds of favorites, each apt for the right mood and the right time.

I’ve always maintained that there have been two things that have inspired me most in life – Books and Music. And both have worked in tandem to inspire me at different times in my life. So if the happy union at the end of Far From The Madding Crowd made such an impression on me, it’s because Mozart’s ‘The Marriage of Figaro’ was playing in the background; and if Sirius’ death in the Harry Potter series drove me into depression, it’s because the soundtrack to Requiem for a Dream was echoing in my earphones.

When I started writing on my blog, which isn’t very long ago, I found that if I played music from the same genre as the writing, it put me instantly in the right mood to write in the specific genre. For example, parts of Hans Zimmer’s soundtrack for Man of Steel and Naoki Sato’s soundtrack ‘Hiten’ from the Live Action Movie Rurouni Kenshin, are my go to’s if I’m in the mood to write a scene depicting thrill, horror, a chase, a battle/war or a revelation, mostly in fantasy based writings. But If I want to write a romantic scene, I’ll hit ‘play’ on songs from the band Secret Garden, or my current favorite for this genre – Good Goodbye by One Ok Rock, a Japanese Rock Band that I’ve been addicted to for sometime now. Some songs have been the seed for an idea to base my writing on. Like this poem I’ve published on my blog – Give Up The Ghost, which was inspired by a song of the same name sung by Rosi Golan.

I’m sure I’m not the only one who finds inspiration in music. How many of you get inspired to be patriotic when you hear ‘Mere Desh Ki Dharti’ or A.R. Rahman’s version of ‘Vande Mataram’? How many of you get pumped up at your gym sessions when you hear ‘Eye of the Tiger’ or ‘I Gotta Feeling’ by the Black Eyed Peas blaring through the speakers? And how many of you cozy up to your bae when you hear a song like ‘Hello’ by Lionel Richie? Is it just coincidence that THE ONE song we play at every Indian Baraat (wedding procession) is ‘Aaj Mere Yaar Ki Shaadi Hai’? No, it’s not just because it’s become a part of Indian-barati-music-tradition, it’s because that song sets you in the mood to have fun!

Music evokes emotion, just like any other art form does. And I believe great music always inspires. There is a reason why Pandit Jasraj’s vocal prowess awes us, and why John Lennon’s ‘Imagine’ has moved people to tears. It’s because great music is perfection. It is an outcome of precision, patience, pain and passion; a thing of beauty that appeals to our senses and evokes not just a sensory response, but an intellectual one too.

It’s no wonder that music is one of the oldest surviving art forms in human history. As long as there’s been man, there has been music. It may have started with something as primitive as stones being clinked together, but it has now evolved into a leviathan that has a variety of musical instruments and techniques and studies dedicated only to it. It may have come into existence to kill time or to tell stories of heroes, or for something as small as soothing a baby, but it’s amazing how it’s one of those art forms that has evolved in every culture in the world? Name one human emotion that does not have a befitting song. Name one human being who does not like music of some kind. Such is the power of music!

Pradita Kapahi

HUNT THAT TALENT MINE

Yes, every person has a hidden talent. Hidden talent does not necessarily mean an ability or natural instincts to be the best in the world. Hidden talents could be like: a natural ability to sing melodiously, dance happily or read voraciously. Everyone has some or the other thing that they can cultivate (work on) to develop their quality of life. Yes. Theoretically speaking, humans are a complex species with a storehouse of talents. The skills of a person are shown only on exposure to favourable situations. So, since not everyone gets favourable circumstances to express their talent, there are some abilities that remain “Hidden”. This is true practically too. We have seen reticent people perform well in front of an audience etc.

To make it easier for your talent to find you, you must try doing things that fascinate you. Do those things more often. If you realise that you can do a particular thing effortlessly and efficiently, understand that your talent has found you! If you enjoy doing a particular thing and people around you like you doing it too, you have figured out your talent! If you get into a state of creative flow when you do something, and you start getting public references (appreciation and praise) about you doing it, realise that you have found out your Hidden Talent!

Your hidden talents can surface at any time. All you need to do it catch it at the right place, at the right time or you will live to regret it. Try different things that interest you. Maybe you will be drawn to something that you will know is your true calling. Real life example is yours truly, I initially as a kid loved to draw and do craft work and as per me, I created some masterpieces back then and hung them on my bedroom walls with pride. Would you believe that I know learned embroidery and knitting at that small an age of 9-10? Yes, I did, I made my mother a set of handkerchiefs that were embroidered by me, I made a set of dining table placemats in Shadow work, I knitted a small Baba Suit (a woollen lower, pullover and jacket) for a new born cousin and a Muffler for my father. Then I tried to be the Mozart of my time and tried my luck at Piano, don’t ask me how the poor Piano cried after three classes and I took pity on it by the fourth class and let it go free. It ran away, screaming. Then one bright morning, during Art classes, my then school teacher told me “You have a great voice, you can be a classical singer”, and his comment made me resilient that I would be the Lata Mangeshkar one day until Bronchitis claimed me and I lost that lyrical, melodious voice. But I didn’t give up, I tried my hand at Drama, learning the Nav Ras, performed at few school plays and stage performances. I was booed and told that I sucked at it.

As a teenager, I developed a love for poetry, though however amateur and juvenile they might have been, I was proud of myself, I felt I am Rabindranath Tagore of my very own genre. Years rolled on, and my love for dance bloomed into a passion that made me wanna be the best dancer in India, time for me to be Michael Jackson. Few more yrs passed and I was the Pablo Picasso and Monet of my time as I developed a love for paintings, and trust me, I left no stone unturned. From Glass Paintings to Tanjore’s, from Marble Paintings to Relief’s and from Oil on Canvas to Embossed, I learned and mastered them all. They adorn the walls of my house even today. My mother shows them to every new visitor with pride in her eyes.

Then came the era of the love for flowers, I learned to make flowers from Origami to Quilling and from Stocking to Bread Dough, each one was close to my heart. Today, I do all my fancy packing myself, and decorate everything with my handmade flowers, not just that, my brother got married, and I did the quilling flower work decoration on each invitation card. Would you believe that I learned to Quilling, Packing and Rangoli from YouTube !!! Yes, and this I am telling you because I want you all to know that if we want to learn something, money and resources are no hindrances. Then came book reading, OMG !!! I became such a bookworm, an avid reader who could finish volumes in a couple of days. I realised books are truly a man’s best friend. Portals to another world, another time, another life. 

Next in the line came Blogging and Poetry. Yes, I see what you are thinking, I came a full circle to where I started from. But that is life; it comes a full circle. And while I am all modest about my hidden talents, let me take the privilege to buy you into a secret, not all hidden talents ate useful and noble. Some of them are notorious. Like I developed one for gaming, and Oh Boy! What gaming it was, I smashed all the scoreboards and was on top of each one, from Simulation games to RPG and from Tycoon games to Civilisation, I rocked them all. I had EA and Steam begging me to let go them. My only flaw is, Once I master a game or a talent, I start to lose interest in it. I have sacrificed many passions to my mood swings, but as I told, it wins some lose some. Today I am trying to be a writer, Yes, that is my new found passion or my Hidden Talent you can call it. And I hope that it will turn to something solid, and someday I would see my book sitting on your bookshelves. 

That is one regret I don’t have, that I never tried something that appealed to me. My next target is cooking, I know I suck at it, like big time, but I hope I will be able to manage a day’s meals on my own if I have to. As I said, try different things, and if Plan A doesn’t work you have 25 alphabets left, and if that still doesn’t work use number (in short, stay active), you will find something that triggers your hidden talent. I would be surprised if you are aware of your hidden talent, most people are not even aware whether they have one, much less as to what it is.

I believe most of us have a lot more potential within us than we ever dream we do. The more we play, experiment, and allow our curiosity and playfulness sweep us off our feet often – the more we will reveal to ourselves about our abilities.

How do we know if we don’t apply ourselves? Even if all that happens is you have a perfect time, it is time well spent – you will be releasing all kinds of useful chemicals just from enjoying yourself. You will not know unless you give it a fair shot. I would suggest taking baby steps – wade in a bit at a time and allow yourself to get comfortable there before trying a bigger challenge. If you felt energised and pulled forward, you have likely hit upon a natural ability. If you have to push yourself, stop and play in another way – that instrument, that style, that group might not be the best fit, but another one could be.

If we assume, we can develop the skills to support anything we love to do; we give ourselves permission to try.

“You are unique. You have different talents and abilities. You don’t have to always follow in the footsteps of others. And most important, you should always remind yourself that you don’t have to do what everyone else is doing and have a responsibility to develop the talents you have been given.” 
― Roy. T. Bennette, The light in the Heart

Stay Driven !!!

MUSIC AND RAIN – MY RELAXANTS

15th November 2014, the eventful day when my child was born – the day we cherish, love and celebrate. It was the day when I finally bid farewell to a life of rest and relaxation. From that day till now, work had been the main part of my day’s schedule. It was not only me but also my mother-in-law who worked all day. My mother-in-law was a banker then. She had a fixed time of work. Her tight schedule always kept her on her toes and kept her busy. Her mode of relaxation was a long drive along the river bank, or a short visit to her sister’s place or a movie night. For rest, she loved to come over to which ever state we lived in for the holidays. I too had similar ways to relax which included a late night drive across the deserted streets, a light mood chat with my mother or husband, playing, cooking, art and watching movies. I used to write poems and stories at times, and was appreciated by many friends and family members.

Those now are the ‘fancy stuffs’ I long for. I hardly get time to even sit. Well, these are usual things that happen to everyone. Male or Female, we all long for our comfort zones where we can rest or relax. Recently, I realized that music and rain are the two things that relax me the most. Whenever I feel down, or agitated or unwilling to have any conversation, I switch on the music. I zone out while working and I find peace. Its a way back to sanity and happiness in my life. Music has always had a calming effect on me. Maybe it is very genetic, but I never knew it could fill me with such tranquility. 

Same with rains! I do not get to feel the water on me but still the smell, the wind, the cooling effect, and just the feeling of rain clouds over me is so thrilling and make me the happiest. Even if its gloomy, dirty and muddy for many, its love for some too.

Though things as such are rarities in life, I try to fill in some of them to my daily schedule. They really pump up my energy and fill me with an urge to work more efficiently. Rest is an utmost requirement of our body. Less of it and our body will tire more and we would age more faster. With the adequate amount of rest and relaxation, our body will be able to work efficiently and keep us away from illness by fighting disease causing agents. Like a machine, which requires a shutdown for a particular amount of time to work more efficiently, our body too requires a shutdown. A complete sleep, a short nap, a relaxing spa time, a perfect massage, a warm bath, a 20-mins walk, a soulful conversation, laughing to the heart’s content can give our body a restart for better functioning.

The soul will also rejoice the flow of energy. Let us also be thoughtful and live a little for our own self. Let us prepare to make memories for a longer period, by keeping our body, mind and heart healthy. Because as happiness is self-made, so are rest and relaxation.

Life is all about balance. You don’t always need to be getting stuff done. Sometimes its perfectly okay, and absolutely necessary, to shut down, kick back and do nothing.                                                                                                                – Lori Deschene