Political correctness

In the present day, more than diplomacy, political correctness is more important. Many of us do not bother much for diplomacy and prefer straight shooters. However, no one wants to compromise on political correctness. So what is this political correctness, what exactly does this entail? Is it really that important or necessary to be politically correct?

Before launching into this discussion, I would like to tell a little about myself. I am very lean, I wear spectacles and had buck teeth. As a result, I have often borne the brunt of the jokes of my friends and colleagues due to my appearance. I would not say that I was bullied badly, but I have faced some hurtful and insensitive comments, whether it be intentional or unintentional. My experience on the matter of bullying, prejudices, may be limited, though they give me an insight into that world and need for political correctness.

Being politically correct means to speak in a way that does not offend or hurt the sentiments or feelings of any community, race, sex or ethnic group etc. Being careful in our choice of words and usage of expressions so that one does not demean or belittle people of disability or different abilities. In a world of bullies and trollers, being politically correct and being considerate of the sentiments of all groups of people is a good thing and many consider it an essential attribute in communication. The intent of the concept is to make everyone feel welcome and included in our world and not to differentiate. People around the world have taken to this concept very seriously and practice it. However, is the good intention behind this concept really working, how far is it helping?

Political correctness is like a mask that one wears to hide true identity. The problem with haters is not so much with their words or actions but with their intentions. While practising politically correct rhetoric, one can still harbour hatred in their hearts. In fact, I feel, when a person is not allowed to speak their minds and when society starts policing the freedom of speech and expression, the hatred only grows.

Any dispute, disagreement or agreement can only be resolved when all parties speak openly and honestly. With a veil like this, one can never completely address the hatred, xenophobia, bigotry, intolerance in the society. Even if we set aside the matter of fighting all these battles and only consider the fact that most of us just want to navigate through life peacefully and calmly. Would it not be simpler if we knew each other’s standpoint on issues of race, abilities, ethnicity, etc? I can at least steer clear of those that do not match my viewpoint.

The concept of Political Correctness, in my opinion, only masks the ugliness that lies within. To truly rid the society of such ugliness, we require a change of heart, ideology and thought process, not a change of wording or change of rhetorics. We should all think honestly and deeply before we come to any conclusion and stick to our guns in this fight.

Disclaimer: I do not own any of these images. They are sourced from Google and Pinterest.

Music that inspires and motivates us

Music has long been a tool to entertain and relax. It can also be a way of expressing emotions and encouraging change. When good music is complemented with apt lyrics, it becomes a very powerful medium for inspiration and motivation. Many a time, a song can open your eyes to repressed emotions, unidentified issues that need to be addressed. It all seems farfetched to many, but ask any Pink Floyd fan and you can get a multitude of examples of how music changed them.

Staying with the example of Pink Floyd’s music, the song ‘Another Brick in the Wall’ opened up a can of worms of how the English education system oppressed free thinking and independent thought. It hit a raw nerve for me as a proponent of the old convent school system. At the same time ‘Learning to Fly’ uncovered my struggle to become my own person.

There was a time when composers like Mozart, Vivaldi, Handel, and Beethoven etc. composed complex concertos that told stories, evoked love and praised God. Music was a study of notes and instruments and all the fine arts and high society. There was nothing ugly about music in those days. Slowly the social differences were blurred and apart from classical music, jazz, folk, pop music came into prominence. Singers like Frank Sinatra, Dean Martin, Louis Armstrong, Sammy Davis, and Elvis Presley became the crowd favourites.
Popular music from The Beatles, Abba, The Carpenters, and Boney M etc. wowed the masses. Simple tunes, simpler words and easily expressed emotions were the hallmark of this genre of music. It nonetheless invoked very strong craze and hysteria among music lovers.
There are also those dark songs that help to give words to all the angst, turmoil and disquiet in the mind. Songs like ‘Fade to Black’, ‘Unforgiven’, ‘Enter Sandman’ etc. from Metallica are some examples. One can also quote songs from Iron Maiden, Nirvana, or the more recent bands like Linkin Park, Imagine Dragons etc.

I may be an aficionado of rock music, but mainstream music and pop music has many gems too. However, today’s music scene is quite different. Hip hop music, dance and EDM music are more in flavour. That still does not take away the fundamental quality to inspire.

I watched a recent Netflix show on Rap and Hip Hop music and how it is being used as a way to mobilize youth toward change. It is used to fight against oppressive regimes and cultures. Be it in Spain, Russia, Thailand even China. Gone are the days when music concert were basically composers like Bach or Beethoven or Mozart playing to entertain gentlefolk. It’s not even the Woodstock era where music spread the message of peace and free spirit. Nowadays music has taken the role of revolutionaries and militias.

Through these entire roles and titles, one thing is constant with music. It evokes feelings, inspires greatness and motivates change. It can be anything we need at any point in our life.

Disclaimer: I do not own any of these images. They are sourced from Google and Pinterest.

Immortals Of Meluha – A Book Review

Hello everyone. I am Sharda, I love to read but my busy life leaves little time for any of my hobbies. When I do get a chance to indulge, I love to talk about it. Here I am today to talk about this book I read. If you also happen to have read this one, I would love to hear your thoughts about this book. Now, without holding you up for too long, let me dive into the topic.

Title of the book I read is: The Immortals of Meluha (Book 1 of the Shiva Trilogy). The author of the book is Amish Tripathi. It was first published in New Delhi, India in the year 2010 and has 424 pages in all.

The time setting for this fictional story is 1900 BC. In this book Amish Tripathi, muses about or, should I say, toys around the idea – what if Shiva, one of the three main Gods of the Hindu mythology, was in fact a mortal who lived an exemplary life and eventually became a God due to the heroic actions done during his life time. This story thus uses many of the characters from the actual Shiva purana around which Amish has skillfully woven his own work of fiction. The story in this book has been divided into twenty-six chapters and there are two more books following after this first book.

The setting for the story is the empires of Meluha and Swadweep, which includes: most of Northern India, Pakistan and Egypt were also mentioned in books two and three. All through the story, one thing that stands out is the effort the author makes to give details about locations. It reminded me of the history lessons that I learnt in school. He describes the culture of the Meluhan and Swadweepan people in great detail and the stark contrast between the two cultures is more than obvious. The description of the cities is so detailed that at times I felt that it hindered the smooth narration of the story. I found myself thinking “Come on now, enough of the description, get back to the story!” Generally, I don’t skip even a single word while reading a book but this is the first time I skipped a few paragraphs here and there in order to avoid the unnecessary description and to get to the actual point. I wonder if any of you felt the same way.

The main characters in this story are Shiva, his wife – Princess Sati, emperor Daksha of Meluha, Capt. Nandi, the doctor Ayurvathi, General Parvateshwar, chief scientist Brishaspathi, Naga the mysterious hooded figure, Prime Minister Kanakhala, emperor Dilipa of Swadweep, his children Princess Anandmayi and Prince Bhagirath etc. There are many other secondary characters that make their appearance at different points in the story and play a vital role in shaping up the story such as Vidyunmali, Mayasheinik, the different Pandit ji at the temples etc. The other thing I observed is that there are too many characters in this book. Even though I am familiar with Hindu mythology it was hard to keep track of the characters, who is who and who is doing what. There were times when I had to turn back the pages to cross check the character. I can only imagine the plight of a person who is not familiar with the Hindu mythology. Having said that, I must emphasize that each and every character had a role to play in the story and none of them felt out of place or unrequired.  The character of each and every person has been developed with clarity and all persons in the story act according to their character.

Plot of the story involves many intricacies and the author took his time to gradually unfold the main plot and several subplots. The revealing of each incident and unveiling of each and every concept drags us deeper and deeper into the story. His exceptional story telling skill makes us question what needs to be questioned, form opinions and feel the emotions relating to the events. Shiva the leader of the Guna tribe comes to Meluha on Nandi’s invitation. He is fed up with the constant wars and struggle for survival and wants a peaceful settlement for his tribe. In Meluha he is suddenly looked upon as Lord Neelkant – the prophesied savior. This is because the manner of his arrival and the outcome, of events that followed after his arrival, fit the description perfectly. It takes another 100 to 115 pages to understand the nature of help that Meluha expects from their Neelkant. During this time the author includes many subplots such as the love affair that develops between Sati and Shiva, the concept of Vikarma, the magical somras and its effects, the mystery of the evil Nagas, the Maika system, the Suryavanshi and Chandravanshis etc. The author, very skillfully, paints a picture of who is good and who is bad by the time we reach the halfway mark in the story and then takes the readers racing to the anti-climax. Emotions are high at this point in the story and what is expected in the climax is obvious to all. Just as the all expected actions are executed with full fervor we are in for a rude shock. The last quarter of the book makes the readers question everything and everyone in the story just as some of the main characters do. At this point the story comes to an abrupt halt as Amish cruelly leads us to a situation where the hooded Naga is advancing towards an unsuspecting Sati while Shiva is frantically racing to save her.

To sum up I enjoyed reading the story with all its intricacies. However, I also feel that the elaborate descriptions could have been a little shorter. The story has used a lot of terminology that relates to Sanskrit language and Hinduism.  For this reason, the author has even included a glossary at the end of the book. Thus some sections in the story felt like an educational documentary on the beliefs and culture of ancient Hindus. Some of these details, I felt, could have been avoided. Finally, in order to enjoy the story one has to forget all about the actual story of Lord Shiva and treat this book as just a work of fiction that consists of similar character names.

Does Positive Thinking Really Work

Hello friends!! When someone spoke about positive thinking, I always made fun of them by asking, will it help me get away with murder just by wishing it away. Yet, I have seen it work and I have experienced its failures too. You might understand my perspective if I tell you the backstory about a coworker of mine. I have known her since my school days, but never really warmed up to her until we started working together. Since the beginning, she was always a bundle of positivity and this rubbed me the wrong way. In school, when all of us wished for the teacher to fall sick so that we get an extra day in the assignment, this girl would just say that the teacher won’t mind it if she didn’t submit and it worked for her. We all thought it was favoritism, but after the same story repeated in college and work, we realized she can’t have so many fans. It was her luck maybe?

Well, this good luck did not limit itself to assignment submissions or tests. From getting comfortable seats in buses to the last dress in her size at a sale or chance to meet her favorite star in the airport, she had all the luck. At one time, we even suspected that she might have a stock of rabbit feet that brought her all this good luck. However, that was not the case and while working with her I realized the truth. The secret was her positive thinking. As you can guess, I did not believe her. She would say, ‘don’t worry, it will all work out’ or ‘you will win this time’, and her words came true. The positive thinking did not work for me though. No matter how many times I thought positive thoughts when I did I shoddy job, I always got caught.

One day, I sat down with her to get to the bottom of the matter. How come positive thinking worked for her and not me? The answer she gave me took a while to digest and understand. When one thinks about positive thinking we already have a set outcome in our mind and everything else is a negative outcome. She explained that that is not how it works. We should be open-minded about all the outcomes and ask for one that is the best suited to us. Whether it is the one that we foresee or not is of no consequence. We have to have faith that we will be given the best outcome. She was, quite literally asking for the best outcome and nothing else.

This was a difficult lesson to learn for me. When I tried practicing it, I had difficulty accepting the outcome. Maybe it was because I could not see far into the future and determine that the outcome was for the best in the long run. If we want to succeed in making positive thinking a way of our life, we need to be more accepting and open-minded in our approach. I decided to start with small steps by applying it to my daily tasks and everyday issues rather than starting off with all of life’s big problems straight away.

I am still practicing it and have not become a master at it yet. As of now, I can safely say that Positive Thinking is not quite the impossible concept that I thought it was. There might yet be more to this than just getting the promotion or getting away with murder.

Disclaimer: I do not own any of these images. They are sourced from Google and Pinterest.

Who gets my vote

Voting and elections are the hot topic in the country today. With the general elections just around the corner, every political party is campaigning, canvassing and, in some cases, begging for your votes. It is not just political parties that depend on our votes, reality show participants, news anchors, beauty pageants etc also depend on public voting. When votes are such an important part of our democracy, what is the psyche behind each vote.

I am not talking about the contestants of any show, political party, pageant, reality contest or the virtues of any candidate. I, simply aim to understand what triggers a voter to choose a particular participant. I have spoken to my friends, colleagues, co passengers, and gathered general opinion from neighbours and relatives. Mind you, I am not conducting a scientific survey or study, all this is just to satisfy my curiosity. Now that I have made my intentions clear, I will make my findings clear too. I have found some very weird and funny reasons, some smart and practical reasons and some absolutely ridiculous reasons too.

  • Some people have given usual answers like ‘that participant is from my community/ caste/ neighborhood/ ethnicity’, this reason is most unreasonable because it has no bearing on the contest at all.
  • There were also reasons like ‘his/her relative was a good person’, this again is a bad reason because you can’t call someone a good reason or actor or person just because they are related to good people.
  • Some people have given practical answers like, ‘this person is a lesser evil compared to others’. I understand that in some contests you don’t have any suitable or good participant, we just have to pick the best option.
  • Here is a foolish reason for supporting or voting for your candidate. ‘i like to support the underdog’. This is such a bad reason because, you are the underdog most of the time due to your lack of skill, preparation and qualification. How can that be a reason to make you win.
  • Some people also vote purely based on appearances or looks. ‘he looks so innocent/ kind/ cute’ etc.
  • Sometimes the participants create tragic backstory  to gather sympathy votes. I have seen hardcore enthusiasts and fans and followers fall for such plots. The participants mainly have the skill needed, but have a sad story and you can get through. Revenge is also another reason for people to vote for unqualified candidates. We try to play god and avenge the wrongs done by a candidate by voting for other unqualified candidates

In this way, people have given a wide range of good, bad and ugly reasons to bestow ones vote. The sad thing is that we can’t preach to the public about the importance of vote and their duty. When we are starved for good choices, we have to make do with bad ones.

Disclaimer: I do not own any of these images. They are sourced from Google and Pinterest.

Monthly saving is not that difficult to achieve

In today’s world, it’s all about making a fast buck and spending it just as fast. There may be tons of avenues to earn money, but the young generation is finding it more difficult to control expenses. Every young working member of this society complains that their income is never enough to set aside savings. Is saving really that difficult? Is it the living expenses that have gone up, or has the urge to spend gone up?

Here are my thoughts on some age-old techniques that our parents applied and are still very much relevant when it comes to saving. I will also add a few of my personal ideas that have worked for me when it comes to saving. Despite all the ideas and techniques, the will to control expenses and the wish to save money is the foremost requisite.

Here is my first technique to save money.

  • Set up a recurring deposit, so that on the first of every month the bank automatically transfers a portion of the salary to the RD for a year or more. This way, without your intervention you set aside a small amount that will accrue interest. You can set up the amount based on your salary.
  • Reduce the number of e-wallets that you use to one or maximum 2. The more you use these wallets, the more you end up spending. They offer you cash back schemes, which only make you spend more. Their cashback schemes are all a trap to make you spend, where you never planned to spend.
  • Here is a personal idea of mine. On the 7th of every month, sit down at your system and pay your bills personally. Do not set up auto payment instructions. The idea behind this is, when you sit and pay each bill, you will feel the pinch of seeing your bank balance reduce. It generally scares me enough to control expenses.
  • One can always use the traditional saving plans like an insurance plan, PF plan, pension plan, SIPs, Chit funds etc.
  • One technique that my mom employs is to maintain a book of accounts to keep track of all expenses. This comes in handy in case of unforeseen or unavoidable expenses. I use the Google sheets on my phone to keep track and I noticed that the expenses are not so unavoidable after all.
  • Everytime I receive a bonus, I use the complete bonus amount to buy a gold coin. The amount may be small, the coins may be of different denominations, but in your hour of need you can exchange the gold coins at any jeweller for cash and get the complete exchange rate as of that day.
  • This may not be the best idea, but it works for me. I use my procrastinating attitude to postpone shopping trips. I put away the chance to spend for as long as needed until one day, I don’t need that purchase. It works like a charm for me.

Remember, all these methods will work only if you have the will to make them work. Just make up your mind and it’s not so impossible to save some money however small our salary is. All the best in your efforts.

Disclaimer: I do not own any of these images. They are sourced from Google and Pinterest.

When is the right time to enjoy life

The other day on my way back from office, I was travelling by bus. As with most public transport, you encounter different people with differing perspectives. They are sometimes weird, funny and sometimes offensive. But, mostly they are entertainment for me. This particular conversation, however, rubbed me the wrong way. It got me thinking and feeling guilty and rebellious at the same time.

 The whole discussion started between an elderly couple, who were returning from a housewarming party. From what I gathered from their conversation, a newly married couple built an independent house with all comforts and luxuries in an affluent area of the city. The elderly couple felt it was a waste of money and an unnecessary expense at such an early stage in life. They were of the opinion that the young couple should have built a commercial complex thereby earning rents and thus saving money.

As their conversation progressed, they started to include the other passengers into the fray. The conversation soon veered into stories of personal struggle and hardships faced. Each person told about the struggles of their parents to give them a comfortable life and how, one should save as much as possible. The general consensus was that since our parents braved all hardships to give us a comfortable life, we owe it to them to struggle just as much for the next generation. Most of them felt that one should not waste money on lavish homes, vacations or other leisurely activities, unless you can make money out of them.

On the face of this reasoning, it seems quite logical that one should not overspend. However, the argument that building a beautiful home that you dreamed of, going on vacations, spending money on pampering yourself is an absolute waste of money, does not sit well with me. The more I thought about it, the more I realized that it is never a good time to take a vacation or pamper yourself unless you take a stand for yourself. If you don’t live life now, then you won’t have the health or the faculties to enjoy life in your old age. One can never stress enough on the importance of relaxation and stress release in the fast paced world today.

As Indians we are always taught to save first and hopefully enjoy life after retirement. But, it doesn’t work that way in reality. Do we really owe it to our parents to save more and enjoy later? Tell me your thoughts on the comments section.
Disclaimer: I do not own any of these images. They are sourced from Google and Pinterest.

The Most Happening City Of Hyderabad

Hello everyone!! I am a working girl from Hyderabad, India. I consider myself independent, not only financially, since I am working, but, also in my ideas and ideologies. I would like to think that I form my own opinions and do not get swayed by popular notions.

After having described myself as such, I think I need to explain why I had to assert this point. I was born and brought up in Hyderabad. I have always viewed the city as laid back. No one is ever in a rush to be on time, though they are always hurrying around in traffic. Hyderabadis are known for the ’nawabi’ attitude. We open our shops at 10:30 or 11 in the morning, we float traffic rules like nobody’s business, yet we don’t tolerate rule breakers, we are loud in our celebrations, prayers and sorrow etc.

If I sit down to speak of the attitude of the people in general, it will take another separate blog in itself. Having described the city as the most laid-back place with a “Devil may care” attitude, I was pleasantly surprised when I read a news article that Hyderabad was adjudged the most happening city in India. How did we end up being a happening place with an attitude like ours? This was the question in my mind for quite a while.

Do not get me wrong here. Hyderabad has all the requisites for a great metro. We have very good malls, shopping center like Inorbit, GVK One, Forum mall, Central mall etc with the latest fashion. We have many good restaurants and pubs for the youth to hang around. Hyderabad is the host to many MNCs, software giants, educational institutions etc too. There was never a dearth for the right people or the right places. Yet, Hyderabad got the tag of ‘the most happening city’ only in 2018.

What could be the reason? What did we change to get that tag? What made the difference only now? These were all the questions floating around in my mind.

After some consideration I realized that Hyderabad never lacked in any of these facets. It was only the publicity and marketing that changed. We always had clubs and discos, shopping malls and restaurants. The only thing that changed is the PR. We always had noisy Holi parties, Ganesh nimarjan was always a big happy procession, Iftar parties were the place to be for amazing food, Durga Pooja and dandiya nights still draw the young and hip crowds any day. What is new is the way we highlight our culture, uniqueness and flavour that makes all the difference.