Welcome 2021!!

I wish all my readers, fellow bloggers and friends, A Very Happy New Year!!

In the past, I would have wished everyone for an exciting year ahead, that was filled with travel, adventure and parties with friends. Considering what happened in 2020 and the new social norms, I have updated my new year wish for everyone.

I wish everyone good health, a safe home, company of your good friends and peace of mind.

For this New year, let us make a resolution to take care of our health. Be patient and tolerant with everyone around us. Stop judging people before we know the complete story.

Here’s to wishing everyone a Happy New Year and a Joyous year ahead.

2020: The Crocodile’s Feast

The first time I ever heard a Telugu proverb was from my grandmother. And every time she used one, my cousins and I broke out into giggles. Her choice of adages was quite funny, and when any of us stared at her with an expressionless face, she would immediately jump into explaining the story behind it. 

2020 has been such a bleak year. I am hoping 2021 will be better. Hearing about the vaccine, I was optimistic. However, I read a few stories about the adverse reactions and the virus mutation in some countries. Now, I feel the proverb that fits this situation best is:

“ముందుంది ముసళ్ల పండగ”

(Mundhundhi mussalla pandaga)

When translated into English, it reads: 

The road ahead is going to be a feast for the crocodiles.

In other words, it just means that there is more trouble brewing and what you have experienced so far is nothing compared to what lies ahead. 

This proverb always reminds me of the comic strip Asterix. In Asterix and Cleopatra, Cleopatra’s catchphrase is “…if not, I will have you thrown to the crocodiles”. Towards the end of the story, the narrator says that nearly everyone is joyful except the crocodiles. I guess the crocodiles were waiting for their festival to begin, but the promised feast never arrived. 

Despite all that the world has been through, there are still people who ignore the protocols of wearing a mask, physical distancing and hand sanitizing. They are inviting trouble.

Their fate can be described using the Hindi proverb:

“आ बैल मुझे मार!”

(Aa bail mujhe maar!)

It talks about inviting the wrath of the bull.

I think the crocodiles have feasted enough in 2020. They should go on a diet in 2021.

The Tricky Job of Disciplining Children

Disciplining children is a tough job that not many of us can master. Correcting them can go wrong even if our attitude is critical or laid back. The problem with this task is that you do not know what went wrong until it is late. While one style of disciplining works in the present but leads to a fractured future, another ensures a better future but does not seem to work in the present. I have never needed to correct or discipline children, but I have seen some interesting ways of punishing them.

As I have mentioned already, I do not have much experience managing children on my own. I have tried to babysit my nieces and nephews, but it is not the same. If things get out of hand, we can always leave it to the parents to handle the fallout. I remember an instance when my niece refused to eat lunch. There was no one at home to convince her. I convinced her that she became invisible. And no one could see her or hear her unless she ate food. She was petrified at the thought of no one giving her attention. Luckily for us, she did not think of misusing the situation.

Of all the elders that I have observed around me, each had a different style of managing children. While my aunt would give her kids a free rein and not correct them at all, my mother was quite strict. Another aunt of ours micromanaged her children in such a way, they did not get a chance to misbehave. On the face of things, it always appeared that both my parents were strict and rule-bound. Yet, they both had a very different approach to checking and correcting children. They did not tolerate indiscipline or mischief and punished us in unique ways with psychological games. Nothing sinister about it, but let me give you a few examples.

As a child, I always daydreamed and never concentrated on studying. As a result, my grades were either inconsistent or low. My mother did not have time to sit with me and coach me every day on every topic, so she took a different approach. She sat me down and explained to me that since I was not studying well, I would not get a cushy office job. I would have to either work as a daily wage labourer or a municipal worker or a vegetable vendor. She then ticked out daily wage labourers from the list of potential jobs stating that I was not physically strong enough and also lazy. Thus, it was not a viable option. She moved to a municipal worker and explained that even those people require a certain level of educational qualification. And I had to work just as hard on the job. She told me that seeing my current situation, a vegetable vendor was the best I could manage. She then went on to explain the maximum earning I can expect and all the luxuries that I would have to forego with that job. You can safely guess my reaction to that talk. I was scared for my future, I even observed a few vegetable vendors in the following weeks and imagined myself in their shoes. I was too scared to daydream after that because all my dreams were of me pushing vegetable carts, or trying to hawk cheap goods.

My dad had a different approach. One summer, all of us kids were gathered at our house for a sleepover. And one of us scribbled all over the wall. We did not know who it was. No one would own up. My dad decided that we should play detective and try to recreate the scene of the crime. I walked us through the incident in a dramatic way about how a person stealthily scribbled on the wall without anyone noticing and almost made them appear heroic. He then conducted mock interrogations and acted out how the perpetrator committed the crime. As he expected, one of us slipped up and corrected my dad on the sequence of events and how they actually scribbled. The best part was that we did not even realise that one of us confessed to the mischief. He went on to embarrass the ‘perpetrator’ with all the loopholes in the plot. He even got the elders involved in a fun way. He made the whole incident appear like a game and made us point out all the mistakes made thereby, making my cousin who did the mischief appear like a fool. No one made mischief at our house again.

Both my parents used different tactics to correct us while making it seem like we chose the right way ourself. It is all fun to recollect now, but I wonder how they thought up the idea during those incidents. I can only hope to be half as smart as them while handling children. Do you have any such fun stories to share? You can put them in comments and have fun.

Image courtesy Canva.com

The Way You Make Me Feel

I’ve learned that people will forget what you said, people will forget what you did, but people will never forget how you made them feel.Maya Angelou

I have never heard a more profound statement than this. The words a person says can hurt us or console us for the time being. But the emotion they generate or the feelings they create, stay with us forever. Every time we watch any old videos or film footage of an event, it amazes us that we remember the event differently. It is because we reminisce the event through the emotions that it generated though, the words spoken might imply something else.

One embarrassing memory of mine involved getting insulted for my dress by a cousin at a wedding function. When I revisited the old wedding video, I saw that my cousin only said that the colour of the dress was gaudy. My memory painted a different picture of me getting insulted. Based on that memory, for the longest time, I thought my cousin hated me. I avoided her everywhere I went.

It is not just what people say, but also our home, neighbourhood, schoolyard and so on that get tainted by our emotions. When I think back to my childhood vacations, the park near my house was as big as a football stadium. My back yard had a jungle in it. When I revisited my old home, I was surprised to see the actual size.

Many times we reminisce on past events, big and small in terms of our feelings. Most of us narrate past memories by starting off with, ‘I clearly remember feeling….’ We do not even remember the correct sequence of events or exact words uttered, however, we can correctly relay the emotion behind the words. For some reason, our mind stores feelings and emotions more carefully than it does the verbatim.

Would you agree with me on this? Words and actions may be powerful, but at the end of it, our feelings are what create memories.

Counting My Blessings

I have been waiting for this day for several weeks now. To understand what I am saying, I have to take you back to 3 months ago. In July, I woke up one morning with a pain in my right wrist. I did not fall or do anything unusual the previous day, so I overlooked this pain. After completing my morning shift of work, I decided to give my hand some rest. Rather than the pain subsiding, it increased. By the end of the day, it was swollen. By the next day, I could barely move my fingers.

I thought to myself that most probably, I have a hairline fracture. “A sprain!” said my husband. Anyhow, the x-ray ruled out my doubts. We went ahead on the premise that it’s a sprain. Two weeks later, a trip to the orthopaedic surgeon revealed more problems. In effect, I had to sit with a crepe bandage around my wrist.

Life suddenly changed since that ill-fated day in July. I could barely use my hand. I did not have a tight grip in my hand; pain became a constant feature, and I was tired of listing all the complaints I have with my hand. There was a burning sensation, tingling and numbness. Gradually, the fresh pink palm donned a greyish dead fish look. After taking an MRI, the doctor started his treatment, but he warned that I may have to live with some of these pains. The list of ailments was a sprained wrist, TFCC disc tear, nerve compression and CRPS.

Right became left and vice versa. I learnt to work with my left hand. Everything from brushing in the morning to chopping vegetables and cooking, I learned to do all of it with my left hand. I practised writing with my left hand. Most of the time, I laughed at my clumsiness, but sometimes I was depressed. I felt guilty for the trouble I gave to my family. I am not used to dependency.

Today after a long time, I feel a little better. My hand hurts a little less than usual. I can see the light at the end of the tunnel. A million thanks to God for this day and for such a wonderful and supportive family and friends.

Back In The Day, When I Was Young…

Most conversations with elders and senior citizens, neighbours or relatives winds down to the statement,” back in my days, things were…..”
I always took that statement as an indicator of the age of the person I am speaking to. This made me feel young, however, I recently used this statement while speaking to an office colleague. You can imagine my horror, I was suddenly faced with the reality that I am ageing as well. I did not want to accept that reality, so I tried to explain away my statement as a slip of tongue.

Excuses apart, the more I thought about it, the more I realized that the statement is more about hope or the lack of it than it is about the age of the speaker.

When we are young, we are full of hope and belief in a better future. We may face bad times, corrupt officials, inflation, economic downturns and more, but our hope that tomorrow will be better is what keeps us going. We believe that this too shall pass. This hope and positivity will keep us from looking back at the past with sadness. We have faith in our hard work and hope that tomorrow our luck will turn around.

Once we begin to lose hope of a better future, we start to use statements like, back in my times. We accept defeat in the face of hardships, or when we throw in the towels and say, ‘this is it, I’m done’. It is a way of accepting that nothing good can happen anymore, Our rosy picture of the future suddenly seems out of reach or impossible. This phase has more to do with losing hope and faith rather than age.

Just as one loses hope, one can also find hope and rebuild faith too. Be it through planning, God, family support or a simple change is luck. Once we start to turn things around for ourselves, we automatically stop looking back in sadness.

My Thoughts On The World Right Now

Hello, Friends! I apologize for not posting any new blogs in the past month. It has been difficult for all folks around the world with the Coronavirus pandemic. I would like to thank all those who are working on the frontline as doctors, nurses, paramedical staff, police and security personnel, armed forces and all the other health workers and delivery workers.

I praise them, not just for their dedication and service, but more importantly for their mental fortitude and resilience. They work tirelessly in the face of grim statistics and grimmer predictions. Despite staying at home and working from the safety of my house, I still fear for the future. It is not just the virus that is cause for concern. The blaming games, the ‘he said..they said’, and oneupmanship that we see in the news, now a day is really saddening.

It disheartens me to see that man cannot let go of petty politics, conspiracy theories, spreading fake news and taking cheap potshots in the name of social justice/responsibility. Every side wants to use this pandemic to make the opposite side look bad. It makes me wonder, is our pride and ego bigger than life? Can we not let it go and work together for once? I know that I am speaking of a utopian world that has no link to reality, but one can hope, can’t we?

All this sad news aside, I have realised that everyone is just doing what they are best at. The doctors, nurses, police, governments, opposition parties, news channels, our bosses, everyone just going about handling the pandemic the best way they can. So, why shouldn’t I? Why am I getting worried or feeling depressed? I came to the conclusion that to help with this situation, I should also get back to doing my job of staying at home and working to make things easy for the ones who are fighting it. There is no point in going on the streets protesting, spreading hatred, conspiracies and fake news. The best help I can give is to stay out of the way and not cause problems.

Beware Of The Evil Eye

Anyone who is from India or who has visited India is aware of the evil eye, or ‘Buri Nazar’ as we like to call it. As I pride myself on being a person of science, I always dismissed this concept of evil eye or ‘Buri Nazar’. It is a widespread notion that says when an envious or ill-intentioned person regards us or our possessions than it will cause harm to the person or the possession. It sounds magical, doesn’t it?

For a long time, people around me have supported this concept of an evil eye and told me many anecdotes of suffering caused by it. There are also just as many people who denounce this notion as being unscientific. They say, these anecdotes are based on hearsay and are stories of uneducated minds. I belonged to the latter thought process. I felt that the idea of causing a person to lose their wealth or health or happiness with just one envious thought seemed magical and fantastical. It happens only in fairy tales. But what if there was a way to prove this evil eye.

Do not worry, neither have I not lost my mind, nor have I turned into a believer. It is not a study or thesis that I have conducted on this subject. I stumbled upon the work of Dr Masaru Emoto on water crystals and the impact of human thoughts, words, emotions etc, on these crystal formations. He says that water carries a consciousness that is gathered from the people and the emotions around it. In his book, ‘The Hidden Messages In Water’ Dr Emoto says, “water exposed to loving, benevolent, and compassionate human intention results in aesthetically pleasing physical molecular formations in the water while water exposed to fearful and discordant human intentions results in disconnected, disfigured, and “unpleasant” physical molecular formations”.

I have attached a link to his interview from this YouTube video. https://youtu.be/ujQAk9EM3xg

From my understanding, what Dr Emoto says is that a positive and loving thought or person invokes positivity and peace around them. Hence, the water crystals are symmetrically and aesthetically beautiful. Similarly, a negative, hateful and envious person or thought invokes discord and unhealthy environment around them. Hence, the water crystals are deformed and shapeless. Since a human body is made up mostly of water, it would be safe to say that these water experiments hold true on people as well. I felt that the same explanation holds true for the concept of the evil eye as well.

I am still not convinced a 100% about this evil eye. It is because I do not like the idea that all my hard work could crumble just because of the jealous and weak thoughts of a person. However, Dr Emoto has made me rethink this concept. I may not have become a believer, but I do not denounce the concept either. There is sufficient experimental proof about the impact of loving words and hateful words that are carried through the water. I do not agree that evil eye works every time, but I believe that positive thoughts and love begets positivity and love. If I surround myself with loving and positive people and emotions, then I will only attract love and happiness. What do you say??

Celebrate Your Victory, Not Their Loss

Celebration after victory is required after any contest. Be it in sports, business, politics, elections, cinemas, academic pursuits etc, it is common to see the boisterous celebration, partying, and quite a bit of chest-thumping. Especially in sports, we get to see spirited voices that speak of the greatness of their team, players, strategy, execution and much more. Any football fan would vouch this being a common practice. Even as part of the ‘after analysis’ of the game, we see experts on both sides break the game down, play by play for their viewers.

As long as the discussion is limited to the performance and play, it is all good. The trouble starts when the fun and celebration start to get personal about the players of the losing team. To make one team look great, followers start to demean and insult the opposite team. They make a show of how bad their performance was, the number of errors they made, the flaw in their strategy and play etc. This is the most unsportsmanlike behaviour, but it is particularly common among the fans.

We see such mudslinging, offensive and personal attacks being made toward the opposing team not just in sports, but also in politics, elections and business competitions too. Something about participating in a contest brings out the darkest and meanest attitude in people. They resort to various below-the-belt tactics to take cheap shots at one another. Celebration becomes more of a slugfest. It takes away the joy of winning and the fun of participation.

True sportsmanship is an attitude that should reflect in all of us. In those who participate in the contest and the revellers who come to support the contestants. By resorting to demeaning our opponents, we only prove that our victory is undeserving. It shows that our team won, not because of our superiority, but because of the opposing team’s inferiority. Nothing is more insulting than being robbed of our victory because we did not deserve it. It is something that the world needs to learn.

Inspiration

Inspiration is the positive driver that guides us and urges us to achieve our target. I have written a few times, on a similar theme in my earlier posts. I wrote about motivation, how the quality of motivation is important, and how we can turn our fear into a positive driver. I do not want to be monotonous. The reason for speaking on this topic again was a heated discussion that I was part of. It brought upon a sudden urge to rant to my readers on the topic about what should and should not inspire us.
I have always believed that inspiration and the root of inspiration is an individual choice. What encourages us and what discourages us is a personal choice based on our experiences and perspectives. Yet, I hear people denouncing and ridiculing others on what they base their inspiration on. How can one decide what is inspiring or not for other people?
I often notice that people make fun of one another as a way to make them take up a dare or a challenge. It is all part of the friendly ribbing that is common among kids. It was fine when it was between kids, but when we see elders employ the same tactic, it gets disturbing. There are instances when grown-ups poke fun at kids on their weaknesses and expect them to get inspired by it.
They think that when they say, “You are stupid”, or ” You can’t manage the job” or ” You run like a girl” etc, we will take it as a challenge and complete the task to prove them wrong.
I find this tactic to be childish and counterproductive. Picking on a person’s weaknesses or insulting them will only discourage them and make a person doubt. It will in no way, encourage the kid.
Kids generally draw inspiration from famous people or sportsperson. It is quite common to be influenced by positive example that we see in the outside world. This idea was shot down stating that we should not look outside for inspiration and that it should come from within. I agree with this argument but, being mean to a kid is no way to reinforce their confidence or boost their morale.
At times, it might be tricky to encourage a person or to give them a confidence boost. However, it is not necessary to kill their faith with harsh reality checks. You might come from a good place, but insulting a kid or picking on their weaknesses is just called bullying. If your intention is not to bully a kid, please change your tactic. I can only suggest that we all should be mindful of the way our words are perceived. If we have nothing motivating to say, then it would be better to hold our tongue.

Five Easy Things Anyone Can Do

We often use phrases like “that’s easy” or “that’s too hard for me”. Today I wanted to make a simple and funny list of things that I find easy or hard to do. However, I would like to point out that something is easy doesn’t mean that I do those things and hard to do doesn’t mean that I don’t try to engage in those activities. It’s just a fun list. 

  1. When you are late, make excuses. Blame the traffic: I confess I am guilty of this crime. There were times when I used traffic as an excuse for being late. The fact that it never worked is a different story.
  2. When you are angry, show your temper on inanimate things. Hmm! I would say that taking our anger out on objects is much less damaging than lashing out at people. Again, it’s a different story when I break my expensive phone or watch in anger.
  3. If the problem is your own, then it’s genuine but if someone else is going through it, then it can’t be all that bad. I have been a victim of this kind of treatment quite often. Although I have to say one thing, when we are in that situation, our mind doesn’t work. All the wisdom we impart to others does not make sense in our difficult times.
  4. When you complete a task successfully, turn around and tell everyone how organized, dedicated and determined you are. When things go wrong, it is always someone else at fault. This one is the funniest of all. I saw many people do this and I use it as a joke.
  5. When you have sufficient time to complete a task, postpone the job for later. When you don’t have enough time to do it, burn the midnight oil and toil until daybreak to complete it. Gosh! I am totally guilty of this one. There is a distinctive sense of accomplishment when we complete a task in the last minute

Now that you went through ‘the easy things’ list, you might want to look at my list of 5 hardest things to do. These are things that are hard for me. Some of you might not find it all that difficult.

  1. Stick to a new year’s resolution for long enough that it can yield any good results. It is so hard to do this, of late I haven’t been making any new year resolution.
  2. Stay disciplined with diet and exercise. I have a serious problem with this. For this reason, my waistline expands and contracts from one extreme to the other like a rubber-band. 
  3. Not get stressed out when being under pressure to meet a deadline or when given a task which is obviously beyond one’s capacity or control. This is 100% me. No matter how hard I try, I can’t keep myself away from stress.
  4. Keeping away from sweet treats and desserts for a long time. Sweets are my weakness.
  5.  Completing all the housework before going to bed. Ah! This last one is an eternal struggle for me. Every day I try but, I have something or the other spilling over into the next day. 

Tell me what do you think of my list or easy and hard things. Tell me what’s easy and what is hard for you. I would love to hear from you all. Have a great day all of you!