We all have implicit or unconscious biases about gender, caste, race, religion etc. So subtle are they that we are surprised that we have such biases. A good way to test them out is to take the Harvard University's 'Implicit Association Test' online.
Saturday, February 27, 2021
Life gets too serious and heavy for many reasons. Pretty clearly we are all looking how to get out of that state and get into a happy and free state.
Most times we don't know what to do.
The other day I heard my friend Uma talk about how she continuously focuses on her body feelings and keeps it loose - "loosen up" - is what she says. I did not get what the meant until I tried it, consciously looked at my body and tried to be loose. I realised how stressed or 'tight' my body was normally, like I was continuously
- waiting to be found out
- having to prove myself
- like I was always wrong
- like I had to be always on my guard
I realised how much of my time was spent in fighting the future, fighting something that was not yet true, that might not ever come true, preparing for them and being continuously tense about it. Since it happens unconsciously, I realised that being light and loose, in the body, works in reverse and loosens my mind too.
From the fears of my past and my doubts about the future I become present - and then fear and doubt and the related tension drop off. I can smile.
So continuously check the body, drop off the tension of the future, loosen up, become light, become present, and am aware. The drama is gone.
There is nothing to hide, nothing to prove, nothing wrong and I don't have to always be on my guard. I can trust. I can let go.
I can enjoy the moment.
The sequel. Picks up slowly but ends interestingly enough. The story picks up from the original Drishyam which ends with a video library owner, using all the cinematic tricks he knows to protect his family from a murder charge. The body of the victim is never found and there is no hard evidence linking the family so they are let off.
In the sequel, six years later, the ghosts of the past come to haunt the family. How the hero fights to save his family from jail is the rest of the story.
Life is dull. Our work is boring. We are too small to make a difference. All that we do fetches us no recognition, no money, no fame. Our relationships are jaded. There seems to be nothing we can do about it.
|Give it a higher purpose, a bigger agenda and make it beautiful|
We meet the same friends, visit the same places, do the same things. It is a loop that seems unending. Worse, the things we do to escape this are loaded with guilt, fear, resentment, shame.
How do we get out of this?
It is a fair assumption to say that we have no great opinion of ourselves or what we do. But we can always change it now. Let's say we are meeting our friends for a drink - a guilt-ridden exercise which results in our feeling worse and getting flak from family and ending in self-flagellation. Or we are having another boring fight with the spouse about some old story in life.
Let's say we set an agenda with a higher purpose. Let's say we tell our friends to share their plans for the future, their dreams and aspirations, their worries and fears. Let's say we do the same with our spouses. Let's say we tell ourselves that we will set an agenda that will go beyond us, into something bigger, something that will expand us. And we do it.
Will it make you feel good? Yes of course. Suddenly, what looked like a menial, petty, shame-ridden affair now becomes something beautiful. Everyone connects into what they really want to talk about but are afraid to - and feel the expansion. Guilt, shame, fear and resentment fly out of the window. Love enters, peace and happiness enter.
For all that we do, the smallest job we do, set a higher agenda. Look to make it bigger, look to make it better, look to expand everyone at the table.
Give the prettiest of things a bigger agenda and see how the energy changes.
Friday, February 26, 2021
Consider the thought that there's no wrong and we are always right. (We are talking of things that are within legal bounds of course for this conversation.) As we all know, we live our lives correctly, do our best with what we know, stay within legal limits and yet, we all carry this feeling that we are 'wrong' most of the time. We carry huge amounts of guilt, shame, worthlessness and that fear that we are wrong and will be caught soon pretty much drives our lives.
But what is wrong? If parents or society says we must live a certain way, and we have chosen not to, we feel wrong. So what if you failed, dropped a course, had a love affair, a broken marriage, a same sex relationship, had a child out of wedlock, have had addictions, mental issues? So what if you're not as successful as others are, as 'correct' as others are? What if there's no 'wrong' and what if we are right in our own way. Others may have their opinions but we are right as far as we are concerned. What if we bought into a false narrative and are feeling guilty for simply living our lives?
Imagine how freeing that thought is that everything about us is right.
Whatever society says or others say, as a way of making you feel smaller or lesser, as an opinion or norm, ignore it. You can have your opinion too - that it is right and that it expands you and that you are not harming anyone by doing it - so its no wrong.
Looking after yourself, doing things for your growth, doing things your way, are not wrong.
Do not fall for that. There is nothing wrong with you. Everything is right with you. Go forth confidently. Grow. Be in a place of love. Not fear. Don't worry about others - we can never please them and they come with as many opinions as they are people. As long as its growing you, as long as it is not harming anyone else, as long as it is in the cause of love - for yourself and for others - you're in the right.
Drop the fear. There's nothing wrong about you, about anything you do. It's all right.
So here's Pooja Nargundakr, answering questions on 'The Youth Series'. Pooja is an architect, 28 years old, and has seen enough of the world to have her own opinions on it. So here they are.
Q. Your thoughts now - On the education system.
PN: Maybe I could add something or thoughts on the new education policy. I do not really talk or interact with kids that much so I don’t know what is happening in schools. But a few years back I remember students being pressurised with workload, homework – parents literally doing kids home works, me doing helping some of my cousin’s presentations etc. OR helping them completing their projects. I think children should not be overburdened. With over doing academics.
Q. If you were the education minister what would you do?
PN: I would focus more on value-based system and contributing to society and getting students disciplined. More about overall development.
· Introduce options in normal curriculum/syllabus like home science, yoga meditation, craft or DIY or things we had like- SUPW (Socially Useful Productive Work), sports into schools. Make any sport of their choice/liking - compulsory for kids. It helps in a lot of skills needed in real life scenarios. I personally believe it has helped me a lot. They need to be active and study both. Any hobby to be compulsory. (dance/creative writing/singing/crafts/photography/web designing/graphic design/workshops/stitching/pottery/painting/collecting things/recycling things/model making/sketching) You need these things other than studies for a holistic overall education. Not just academics.
· There are many subjects ignored totally in school – History, Culture, Religion, Finance, Politics and Economics. I think children from high school should be engaged in these discussions as well. Things should not remain just in books.
· I am not sorry to say this – But I genuinely feel there is a lack of knowledge when it comes to Disaster Management and First Aid in schools. And to be best prepared for any scenario – Not war but something of even how to handle a situation – If there is a fire, if there is an earthquake, Injury to close people/friends – We do not know what to do. I would like something of this kind not A military level thing but basics to be taught and practiced in schools. It helps in overcoming tough situations in one’s life. What does one do in the pandemic? Can they help in any way by their contribution to rehab centres after flood situations? I think students can. They have much more access to information now than we ever had.
· Children from a young age need to learn to do things on their own. Keep things flexible things change for students – interests. Encourage them to pick things from variety.
· There would be a grading system (No marks). Personally, I have no value for marks. Anything that motivates them. Do not load them with work.
· Education or learning has to be about enjoying it having interest and learning – Not being forced to do things. If a kid hates maths after basic learning, allow them to take up what they want and explore. You never know what wonderful results would come out of this. Everything doesn’t need to be about marks. It could be about feeling good too.
· Punishments in the form of innovative creative things. Make them clean. Deliver a lecture. Give presentations. Help teachers. Help other students with their work. Etc. Maybe something skill based.
· Have more counsellors into the system to guide students when they don’t have friends, parents or teachers to approach. This even applies to college-level courses. Teachers cannot be everything these days. This is one essential thing I find lacking in the system. It will help focus on mental health of a student too. So it doesn’t feel like an alien concept later on.
Q. Why are the youth easily influenced?
PN· I think anyone is. There are very few who aren’t. That’s why many gurus have so many followers. And they make businesses out of it. That is how even religion works I think. That how companies sell products. We buy. Not against it. Just pointing out.
· The problem with getting influenced or even brainwashing is you don’t even know what information you are fed is true/false. Sometimes there is no way to verify/check that. Sometimes you are too ignorant also. There are many blind believers today. We need to be more informed I feel.
· The youth is distracted I think. They like temporary things. Many of them are to my knowledge easily influenced. Anything is too offensive these days. Too many reactions and opinions and hatred. Too much of information available too. I do not blame anyone. Blindly believing things – and easily influenced yes. I agree. There is an exception always.
Q. Your views on religion?
· It is a weird – almost funny relationship I have with religion. I have never been that inclined to religion from my childhood. It always felt like a forced and alienated concept to me. I learnt shlokas, read stories about gods etc. enjoying all of that. But I always questioned (WHY) everything and was never convinced by the answers. Pertaining to many customs and rituals mainly.
· But I never tried to understand religion earlier. I do respect it. Or the people who follow. All religions even those I have never heard of. I find it very hard to understand a person’s faith can mean so much.
· But when it comes to Religion being dragged into politics. Or the reason for killing someone. Now that’s where I will draw the line. That’s unacceptable. I think everyone can choose what religion to follow or not. Which god. What practice. What they want to wear. Etc. I think people who do follow religion must respect people who don’t follow it and not force them. We can always live in harmony. We have to want it.
· Having said that - I do not believe in idol worship. I do not feel connected. I do it only for my mother or because she says do this. Which I know most of my friends/youth do too.
· I find it very interesting that people go to temples only when there is an exam, they are going through tough times, they want something. I think if this is the relationship with God. I would rather not have it. Again these are my thoughts – Not to offend anyone. But there are others who do it regularly, follow everything customs, rituals- Because they believe God will help them/save them in their troubled times. So I like understanding all this and I still continue to do so.
· I find some concepts very interesting that God is omnipresent, omnipotent and omniscient. And yet we need loudspeakers to sing bhajans. So why can’t we sing in our mind?
Then why do we need a place of worship at all? These are just examples of some questions I have there are millions like this.
· I am trying to read and understand spiritualism now. These subjects make me curious – Meditation, Yoga, bhakti movement, Vipassana, Bhagavad Gita, Talks by Brahma kumari- BK Shivani, Sadhguru (used to enjoy it not anymore), Radhanath swami, Gaur Gopal das, Dalai Lama, Ramana maharishi, Swami Vivekananda, Swami Samantha, Gajananmaharaj.
Q. Your role models?
PN· I am not sure. There may be many. I actually don’t believe in this concept. I don’t want to be like someone. If you want to know the reason. The circumstances, situation every individual is born and their ability or capacity to deal with things /handle things will be different.
· I just want to know myself more and be the best I can. I hope to inspire others someday. Hope to be someone’s role model maybe haha
· If I have to really answer it – (People, I really look up to)
1. APJ Abdul Kalam
2. Kalpana Chawla
3. A R Rahman
4. Michael Jackson
5. Mother Teresa
6. Mary Kom
7. Ratan Tata
8. Bill Gates
9. Oprah Winfrey
11. Charles Darwin
12. Vasco da Gama
13. Christopher Columbus
Q. What are the 3 things to change in society?
PN: 1. Poverty – Raise minimum wages of People so they get at least basic income for basic needs.
2. Mind-set of people – About Sex, LGBT, Sex-education, Women, the institution of marriage, having children, Politics and Economy.
3. Education system – Hopefully the new policy does some good.
Q. Your favourite movies?
PN· It’s a huge list. I hope you have the patience to read it.
· The Sound of Music – I know this movie literally by heart. because it is beautifully made with music. All the songs are my favourite ones even today. Can watch it on repeat any day anytime.
· Casablanca, Shawshank Redemption, 12 Angry Men, Bicycle Thieves, Interstellar, Inception, Forest Gump, Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind, Pulp Fiction, Memento, V for Vendetta, The Prestige, The Matrix, Imitation Game, many more I cannot recollect I think. I am a huge movie buff.
· Animated - Mega Mind, Finding Nemo, Kung Fu Panda, Lion King, Inside Out, Ratatouille.
· All Avengers, Iron man, Dark knight and X men movies (Huge Marvel fan and Superhero comics.)
· Hindi Bollywood – Rang de basanti, Lagaan,Taare Zameen Par, Jodha Akbar, Dil Chahta hai, Delhi Belly, Queen, Udaan,Tumbaad, Trapped, The Lunchbox, Ankhon Dekhi, Ship of Theseus, Dangal, Lootera, Dum laga ke haisha, Jaane tu ya jaanena, Hera pheri, Raanjhaana, Haider, Tanu weds Manu series, Sahib Biwi Sangster, Gangs of Wasseypur, Johnny Gaddar, Kahaani.
· Old – Mughal e azam, Chalti ka Naam Gaadi, Golmaal, Padosan, Teesri manzil
· Bengali – Charulata (I don’t remember the other I watched. Many in the pipeline.)
· Marathi – Jogwa, Katyar kaljat ghusli, Shala, Killa, Balak-palak, Harishchandrachi factory, Natrang
Q. Your favourite music?
PN: I love music. I think I am very fond of sounds. I had a chance to learn classical Carnatic music when I was in Harihar with my sister. Unfortunately, it did not last long enough as we moved to another city entirely. When I look back I think I liked the limelight then even though I am very shy as a person. I have always been a part of singing (choir of school) drama and dance groups until college level. I don’t really know if I was that good. I enjoyed singing.
· Coming back to the question. I always loved Hindi music when I was young. All the old Kishore Kumar…Rafi. Lata Mangeshkar and Asha Bhonsle. Not to forget Bollywood. And the only reason is my father. His love for music & movies exposed us to this. Interestingly as we stayed in many different states I was always exposed to the cinema music of regional languages too. (Kannada, Malayalam, ghazals etc.)
· Personally I think there are phases. And music and you evolve with it.
· Childhood – Hindi Bollywood, Old classics from Kishore Kumar, Rafi, Lata Mangeshkar
· Teenage – There was a time when you start exploring things. I explored a whole new world of music international. Thanks to my mother and grandfather as they listened to many Artists. That was how it started. Then a huge influence was Hari mama as we used to share music playlists back in the day on Cd. I loved rock, pop and hip hop at this time. Even indie-pop music popular in India. Hated jazz as I never understood it.
· As I grew older I realised I am a big Rock fan. Be it Psychedelic, Progressive, Alternative rock, grunge, pop-rock or even Electronic. I have never understood trance or EDM. I try. Interestingly my liking for Bollywood music has declined drastically unless they are beautiful like the ones from Dum Laga ke Haisha or Lootera. I like Indian folk, fusion, ghazals and classical music too now.
· Some of my favourite artists – Again a really long list., A R Rahman, Shankar Mahadevan, Papon, Mohit Chauhan, Sonu Nigam, Shaan, Lucky Ali, Sunidhi Chauhan, Shilpa Rao, Usha Uthup, Alisha Chinai, Harshdeep Kaur, Richa Sharma, Shubha Mudgal, Rekhabharadwaj, Hariharan, Jagjit Singh, Javed Ali, Shafqat Amanat Ali, Vishal Dadlani.
· MJ, Johnny Cash, Frank Sinatra, Chris Martin, Adele, Taylor Swift, Lady Gaga, Beyonce, Sia, Celine Dion, Steven Wilson, Freddie Mercury, David Bowie.
Q. Your philosophy?
PN: I don’t know what qualifies as a philosophy. Maybe when I am 60 years old I will know. I have always believed that I want to be a good person/being/human and do the right thing. Be noble and just. I always want to help people in a way to encourage them to do better and motivate them. I want to do things to contribute to the environment and humanity in some way. Maybe invent something. And always wanted to seek some kind of truth about life and existence.
Thursday, February 25, 2021
Decision fatigue is real. Making decisions tires you. So watch out for a few things when it comes to your decision-making process.
E-canteen Fundas: Make big decisions in the morning. Here's how it helps!
'Bhaiyya,’ said Rahul. ‘Rinku and I went shopping at the mall. There were so many shops that I couldn’t decide. I returned dazed and empty-handed.’
Sunday, February 21, 2021
So Abhinay has taken a break from his corporate job at TCS a few years ago to explore and pursue a career in education and has joined the Azim Premji Foundation. He has been at Sirohi, Rajasthan for the past few years, working closely with local schools and teachers and understanding how to improve the system. His tales are very interesting, the schools, parents, teachers, and the students themselves. It has been a richly rewarding experience for him - meeting people, visiting places, understanding cultures. Many new friends, colleagues and experiences, living out there through the pandemic, are all invaluable experiences and he has turned them all into experiences to be shared.
I'll share relevant blogs here.
This Sunday he returned and gave me two books he bought at the second hand market in Abids - one about Shyam Benegal by Sangeeta Dutta and another 'Not Just Bollywood' by Tula Goenka, with interviews of Hindi film industry's known directors. I'm looking forward to reading them both. Thanks Abhinay.
Saturday, February 20, 2021
When we understand the difference between choice and reaction, our decision making, our quality of life, changes drastically. Here are a few ways to catch ourselves and check whether we are reacting or coming from choice.
- Reactions come from the past and the future. Choice comes from the present.
- Reactions come from the outside. Choice comes from within.
- Reactions need justifications, clarifications, discussions. Choice comes without clarifications and words - just clear action.
- Reactions have baggage and feel heavy. Choice is free and simple.
- Motivating subordinates
- Reducing the distance between supervisory ranks and personnel
- An honest assessment of subordinates
First up, why motivate at all? Because most people cannot motivate themselves individually. Human tendency is to take the minimum action - not give 100% unless pushed. Motivated people clearly improve results. A 10% change is huge. And when people actually take ownership (that's 100%), and magic happens.
What is motivating?
When a person acquires skill and confidence, you can also give negative feedback when they slip up.
Attention is like sunshine. What you give sunshine to grows.
1. Vision, Purpose - makes everyone look in the same direction, feel part of something bigger than themselves, feels like they’re part of a team that has their back. Something that is good for everyone
2. Role clarity – expectations, write them down, most people are unclear
3. Goal clarity (SMART goals) again write them down, agree on them, SMART goals
4. OKRs – Aspirational goals vs committed goals
5. Monitoring - CFR – Conversations, Feedback and Recognition, Psychological safety
To Reduce Distance Between Superiors and Subs
- Trust people Believe that people do good work, that they have potential and it is up to us to discover or facilitate that - they receive the vibe
- Remember people follow actions, not words
- Remember that justice is the first expression of love, all are equal - if they believe you aren't fair and just, they will never trust you
- Tell them what to do, not how - give them ownership, allow them to figure it out their way, to create, to engage
- Demand the best from them, reward them accordingly, be tough with standards - real talent will shine through
- Help them get better, know and understand them
- You are the mirror - if you notice something wrong with your subordinates, look at yourself
Watch out for bias - caste, regional, communal etc
Thursday, February 18, 2021
2020. Ramin Bahrani's adaptation of Aravind Adiga's Booker-winning novel. I could never identify with the novel's setting - Balram writing a novel-length email to the Chinese premiere - about how he became a successful entrepreneur by killing his boss. However the prediction of brown and yellow skins taking over the world seems to be coming true, though I don't know in what ways. We will certainly outshout, out populate, out lie the rest. I didn't find anything to shout about in the film and found all the transitions between English and Hindi jarring.
Directed by Steve McQueen, its about four widows pulling off a heist from a corrupt politician to pay off a mafia boss to whom their husbands owed money and who got killed in a car accident. If the one liner is so confusing its best to - Avoid.
Wednesday, February 17, 2021
Real vs Fake - How to know the difference?
e-Canteen Fundas: Ask yourself whether it is the real point or is it all just make-believe
‘Bhaiyya,’ said Rinku. ‘Rahul believes every forward he gets and forms his opinions and makes decisions based on it.’
Pro Tip: To make good decisions, develop a critical mindset. Check facts, evidence, the credibility of sources and how it ‘sounds’ to form opinions and make informed decisions
It's now been close to six months since Raju and Gowri, Tenzin's sponsors, have moved from Singapore to Hyderabad. Though we planned to meet all this while, something or the other kept the plans in the backburner. And then Gowri said Tenzin was coming to visit them and he would like to meet us too. I said he could come over and stay the day with us and Tenzin was more than happy to come. So Raju and Gowri came over and dropped Tenzin for the day.
Tenzin looked just the same and after we all chatted, he ever so thoughtfully and quietly pulled out gifts for us - tea for Shobha, special tea for my BP, brittle peanut candy for Anjali and even some precious pills and medicine for Ranjan. My sisters Mythily and Peddakka wanted to meet him and he examined them, a medico studying Tibetan as he is, and then offered to give them a rigorous massage which gave them much pain and even tired him out. That evening he took over the kitchen and made some wonderful momos. I took him out for a drive to Tank Bund and he was glad to see the statue of the Buddha in the middle of the lake.
Next morning I had to leave for a function and Tenzin engaged in a chat with Shobha, checked her, gave a massage, and left.
On Friday we visited Gowri and Raju and stayed over for a meal. it was Losar, the Tibetan New year so Shobha gifted Tenzin some cup cakes. We spent a fine evening with them over drinks, dinner and some fine conversation.
Tenzin shared some poems he had written - one about his father who is in Tibet and from whom he has been separated for several years now - was touching. So were his other poems, full of intense feeling and thought. I asked him if I could publish them here along with a picture of his mother and father and he agreed.
So here they are. He writes under a pen name - The Tramp.
I saw u after long enough
You would be changed that much
Really you became so old
Regarding to your age
No much leafs
So dry and thine
But you still gowing there
Just for my return
Your hope and wishs are same as before
You tried to smile and strong
As you don't want me to sad
But I can understand
It's too cool in your heart
And too watering in your eyes
How would I blame to karma
Tears and tears
(This I suspect, is about his father)
A single leaf falling down
In my hands
When I rest under a
Big and heavy tree
May be it's noticed my lonesome
It's playing dance in my hands
With blowing of cool breeze
May be it's trying to make me joy
It's advicing me and inspiring me
When I am working hard
And trying to achieve an impossible aim
It's raining on time!!!...
It's asked me about my feelings
May be it's want to help me
And solve it
Oh!!!..... I am not alnoe
I stare,stare ,stare and stare
In a sudden it's became invisible
I shocked and surprised
But I can hear a words call Nagrii
May be it's a magical leaf
Anyway i hate that leaf
Yet want it's be back
To in my hands!!!!....
Saturday, February 13, 2021
When we feel out of control it's worth checking this - are our body and mind in sync? Or is one galloping ahead and the other lagging behind?
If they are not in sync, try slowing them down and getting them in sync.
It works sometimes for me. I get a sense of control and I feel I can handle things - at my pace.
Out of control is that one or the other - body or mind - is out of sync. When they are in sync, you are in almost flow-like state.
Shobha was confused about making a decision - whether to go on a trip or not. She was in a bit of a dilemma and it was getting to her. She asked Anjali - "Anjali, what should I do?"
Anjali was quick with her answer.
It went something like - "Ask yourself. You already know the answer. But you worry about it and think pros and cons when it's quite clear what you want to do."
I agree. We seem to know what is the right answer but we subject ourselves to a lot of doubt and thought. The first thought is pretty much on track.
Thursday, February 11, 2021
Ever since we met in August 2019, our teammates of Osmania University cricket team, the winning Inter-varsity team from 1990, has been in constant touch over WhatsApp. Since six of our mates live abroad, we get to meet whenever someone visits. This time it was Mohib's turn - he was the star of the show, the 'Man of the Series' for us ad was distinctly unlucky not to have represented South Zone Universities and played Vizzy Trophy. Now working as CEO in a Forex firm, Mohib lives in Kampala, Uganda. Since he was in town we all met at Necklace Road last Saturday on Bansi's suggestion.
|Bansi, EP, Srikanth and Mohib trying to get a double seater cycle going|
|Skipper Vijay taking off|
Apparently, there is a cycling club there and Bansi was hoping we could all go cycling. I joined a bit late owing to a call from PV and by that time the cycling was done. Bansi had also bought an old jeep which was wonderful to take pictures on.
|Bansi in his jeep|
|All of us posing on the jeep - me, Vijay, Shujath, Bansi, Mohib, EP, Venkat and Srikanth|
Mohib, Bansi, Srikanth, Shujath, EP, Venkat, Vijay and me joined together for breakfast and tea at Eat Street. The weather was heavenly and we sat around joking and chatting for a long time.
|Venkat,Shujath, Vijay, EP, Mohib, Bansi, Srikanth and me|
|Venkat, EP, Zia (Mohib's bil) and Shujath|
|The morning cuppa - Srikanth|
|Here comes the caffeine - Mohib, EP, Venkat, Bansi and Vijay|
|Mohib and skipper Vijay|
|Mohib and me|
|Happy together - EP, Mohib, me and Srikanth|
I really enjoyed reading this article on Miachel Goldhaber's views on the 'Attention Economy'
1997. Martin Scorcese's biopic of the fourteenth Dalai Lama (the current one) based on his writings. It starts at the death of the 13th Dalai Lama in 1933 and the search for the fourteenth by Reting Rimpoche. They discover a young Tenzin Gyatso, test him with items that are similar to see whether he can choose right, and decide he is the one. They take him to the palace where he grows up until he can claim the title when he comes of age. Gyatso grows up in times when China begins its moves to occupy Tibet, first with the
cooperation and intent to help, and then with more stringent and oppressive measures. The young Dalai Lama meets Chairman Mao who tells him that religion is poison and that is why Tibetans are inferior. As it becomes clear that the Chiinese may harm the Dalai Lama, he plans his escape to India but not before seeing visions of a successful escape and return to Tibet. I learned much about Tibet and China thanks to the movie. It had a very authentic feel to it, almost like someone was shooting live-action. Kundun was what the Dalai Lama was called s. it means 'presence'.
2021. First film in Hollywood made during the Covid 19 times. A black couple, an aspiring actress and a director whose first film just got premiered to good responses, come home to unwind after the premiere - and sparks fly exposing the good and bad sides of their relationships. Love and hate go hand in hand. Too much dialogue. Over the top. The performances were brilliant. It's in black and white by the way.
If you're in the mood for intense, let it all hang out stuff, go for it.
The Copy Machine experiment says that any excuse is good enough for people to justify human behaviour. Giving a reason, lame or the simple truth, gives both parties an exit route without pushing them into a corner. Use 'because' as much as you can, to ask for favours, to get out of tricky situations.
E-canteen Fundas: How the word 'because' can make all the difference
Bhaiyya, Rahul’s in trouble,’ said Rinku. ‘Our Hindi lecturer told him to prepare her presentation. Rahul said that he cannot do it. Now she’s upset.’
Tuesday, February 9, 2021
I moderated a panel discussion on February 7, 2021 on a very relevant and burning topic. It was based on the book by Anita Peter “To Win Your Battles, Stay Alive” (Being There Matters) - on how she dealt with depression and came out of it and how, if she can, anyone can.
So apart from author Anita Peter (a Mohiniatam dancer, runs a dance school, is a biker who travelled from Kanyakumari to Kashmir on her bike, a TEDx speaker, a leadership coach, teacher, actor-director), we had, Vijay Lokapally, one of India’s seniormost and highly respected journalists, Gayathri Sreedharan, an applied anthropologist who manages her own boutique firm Anthropie, Anand S Narayan, a Counselling Psychologist who has volunteered for 20 years with Roshni, an NGO that offers a helpline for the distressed, depressed and suicidal, counselling services and emotional support for those psychiatric issues and Dr Siddharth Reddy, an MD in Psychiatry, a consultant psychiatrist and psychotherapist. A highly accomplished panel.
The discussion centred around why Anita wrote this book, the purpose, how Vijay and Gayathri dealt with their mind disturbances and coped, how counselling and medical avenues are available and can help. It was a highly energetic and honest conversation with everyone sharing their thoughts honestly about how mind disturbances and mental illnesses can be cured, what to do, what to watch out for and how to go about it.
The discussion was focussed on bringing out the need for more conversations and Anita spoke about how she had the idea of starting focus groups to help take the initiative forward. The discussion is on YouTube for those who wish to see. It was wonderful moderating the session and much thanks is owed to Anita, Vijay, Gayathri, Anand and Dr Siddharth.
Anita is a much-accomplished lady - a Mohiniattam dancer (she started learning after her first child), biker (done a Kashmir-Kanya Kumari on her Harley), speaker (TEDx), leadership coach, actor-short film director, blogger are some of the things she has done in the past. But turning into an author might be the biggest achievement yet, as she has penned down a book on her experience with depression. Anita wrote it in a very accessible style, full of good intent and energy, taking care not to scare away the layman with too many medical terms (she chooses to call these mind disturbances) while gently giving an insight into what goes on, the denial, the stigma, the support, the need to seek help and mostly, how one can come out of mental disturbances and lead a full life.
Anita experienced depression three times in her life - the first time she had no clue what was happening and could not confide in anyone, the second time she knew something was not right but people around her gave her homegrown advice to handle it by herself and her own apprehensions about medical help and the third time when she decided to seek help, consulted a psychiatrist and healed. Anita avers that patience and acceptance is vital to the healing process. One has to stay alive.
Anita begins with how life changes when mental disturbances occur - drop in energy, fatigue, our responses and how they impact life. Mental disturbances get triggered by anything - unmet expectations, betrayal, chemical imbalance, death of a loved one etc can affect anyone of any age or social standing. It is an illness like any other illness - the fact that it does not show physically does not make it any lesser. Anita lists signs to watch out for - profound sadness, low energy, extreme fatigue, fear, loneliness, overeating, lack of appetite, lack of sleep, rest, interest, not being able to smile, feeling breathless, being affected by light and sound, panic attacks among others. Anita differentiated between fatigue, tiredness and laziness exhaustively.
Depression does not lead to suicide says Anita. One can overcome it. The critical moment is when one has panic attacks (they last 30 seconds to 30 minutes) and there could be a momentary impulse to give up on life. Anita repeatedly says - don't succumb to it - breathe deeply, exhale until you come out. People around those affected, she says - be there, hold the space and let them calm down. The panic attack will stop. Let not neglect due to taboo and stigma be the reason for the loss of a loved one she stresses.
Anita bats for a more compassionate, sensitive and gentler approach when dealing with those who show signs of depression. What we say and what they hear in their fragile and vulnerable state could be completely different. When you get suicidal tendencies do not be alone, don't isolate and don't hide the feeling from others that you want to end your life.
When things don't seem to improve despite your efforts, meet a counsellor. If that does not work, meet a psychologist,a psychotherapist and a psychiatrist. They make up the team of people who support you. Psychiatrists are medical doctors qualified to deal with mental illnesses. They are qualified to diagnose the category of the illness and to prescribe medicines. Psychologists are qualified professionals who identify the therapy required for your illness and to get better while counsellors are trained to listen and help in easing the difficulty gradually healing. All professionals have to be qualified and registered with the registry. The nebulous aspect of who to approach and when is spelt out clearly from her own experience. This is something everyone is confused about - who do I reach out to and when - a counsellor, a psychologist, a psychotherapist or a psychiatrist (anyone is good, just reach out). Anita spells out how to choose a counsellor, what to look for and what to watch out for.
To understand one's own condition Anita spells out five questions to ask oneself - what is different from the usual for me? When do I experience it? Who should I approach? Why should I not give up? Where should I define my boundaries? She spells out what one needs to do when consulting a doctor and also the self-work one has to do.
I liked the 10 Cs to healing she listed - Compassion, Care, Conversation, Calmness, Consideration, Cooperation, Conviction, Change, Courage and Consistency. Self-explanatory.
The support system plays a big part. She stresses time and once again that all one needs to do is be there for someone suffering from a mind disturbance - a smile or a conversation can work wonders. Be patient because mood swings are not within their control. Do not shame them speak loudly, push them, blame them, say it's self-inflicted or mock them. Convey - I'm there. How can make you feel better? Whatever happens, don't leave them alone. Anita writes in detail about how a parent, a child, a sibling, a spouse, a co-worker, a teacher, a student, a friend can deal with someone undergoing depression or showing signs of it. Underlying everything is this - talk, converse, be available.
The 5 phases of recovery are - depression at peak, recovery, slip back, readiness and healing. During the recovery stage as much as one looks fine, be aware of the triggers that might cause a slipback. The recovery stage is a readiness phase when one can start to learn and slowly make changes. It's only after complete healing does a person get strong enough to be able to handle triggers appropriately. Anita, a proud survivor, talks about how life is a precious gift and it is a good enough reason to stay alive. Our life is our opportunity she says. Let no one else decide the worth of our life. Love yourself, choose love as the main emotion, drop fear, guilt, regret. Be aware that the future has many beautiful things ahead.
To heal completely and not revisit that path, work on your basic needs and correct the way you eat, drink water, hygiene, clothes, sleep, exercise, converse with others - so it enriches you and makes you healthier. Be ok with your body and love it as it is. Don't worry if you slip - start, continue and restart. Get better every day. Be ok with change.
Anita's Priority Circle is a gamechanger for anyone. She talks of how to prioritise your life. The Core Circle is about your personal space and those who occupy that space, then the Priority Circle 1 and 2 and 3 with an increasing amount of privacy and people with energies that affect you positively. The ones who drain you of your energy should be kept away from your Priority Circles and kept in what she calls the Black Hole-away from your life. Figure what makes you happy and do it. Work on personal change. Be patient, introspect and forgive. Build routines and bring in discipline. Keep away energy-draining people and activities. Love yourself the way you want others to love you - powerful thought.
Be the version of you that you'd like to be remembered as, Own your life. She says the standard of quality of your life depends on the standards you set for yourself, as well as for your family.
There is a lot of good information given in the book in a crisp and succinct manner. From early signs, difficulties in choosing a course of action, who to approach and when, how to deal with the illness, how to manage your support group, how the support group could help, how to stay away from suicidal tendencies, how to reorganize and strengthen oneself after recovering. It’s very handy, an easy read, and a book that every one of us can benefit from.
Anita has also made three short films revolving around the same topic and they are quite nice to watch. One thing that a friend asked me when I told him about the book is - how come someone so accomplished suffers from depression? It's a question Anita had to face herself. So to put herself out there requires a lot of courage and purpose and for that, she deserves a big applause. Writing a book is not easy and to write about something so personal and disturbing must have been so much more difficult and demanding. Anita kept her purpose clear, did not go into her own story more than required and focussed on providing information, help and guidance to those who read the book. Overall, a great initiative by her, to bring conversations out in the open and make life easier for so many who are struggling with mind disturbances - it is ok, there is help and support out there. Well done Anita. I am sure your book and your initiatives will make a world of difference.
Monday, February 8, 2021
The plan was to drive down to Katgodham and onwards to Delhi. It could be a long 10-hour drive - 3-4 hours to Katgodham and another 6-7 to Delhi. We were up early, had our coffee and were off by 9. No spectacular views in the morning from the panoramic setting in front, save a few distant snowclad peaks. The idea was to breakfast along the way. And off we went.
We passed by some really scenic roads, some narrow ghat sections and we descended down to Bhimtal, passed by the lake town.
At one particular bend we found this cute place with some parking and some inviting chairs out on an open space overlooking the mountains. Too good to resist so we didn't.
|Stopping at the 100 Mile Resort|
|The general mood after waiting for long for breakfast|
The owner, an enthusiastic young Sikh, offered us a fine menu and when we ordered tea and bread and omeltte and paratha, disappeared for a longish while. After about twenty minutes we got worried and asked and he said he had only opened shop a couple of weeks ago and his boys were playing truant. After about 30 minutes he finally got stuff on to our table but he set us back by a good half hour there. Anyway, the place was nice and the break quite enjoyable.
|Vardha pleased after sprinkling some holy water from the river|
Onward to Kathgogham or Haldwani (sister towns) where we bid goodbye to Mr Naidu, Jitendra and Mohan, and sped on our way. I caught some shut-eye. Diwan was in good form and was clipping at a fair speed. I am not sure if Vardha was sipping a bit of rum and coke. We did have a discussion though about what we would do if there was no shortage of money - and we came up with some rather simple and mediocre plans. Goes to show how limited our thinking was, or has become. But it was an interesting exercise.
|On the road to Delhi|
We passed the Ganga along the way and Vardha wanted to stop by and touch the holy river and sprinkle some water on his head. We stopped, had a chai, while Vardha did his thing. Further down the road we stopped once again for a chai and some toast. By the time we hit Delhi it was 8 pm and Suresh was waiting for us with Yogesh, Kanu and Ramanuj. They had booked some seats in 'The Pianoman' a jazz bar. I had never been to one so I was excited though tired.
The Pianoman was a lovely experience. The musicians kept playing in turns and I slowly got used to the music and its rhythm.
|Jazz at the Pianoman|
One chap on the clarinet and one on the violin stood out for me, so did one on the drums.
We finally made it back to the guest house by 1 am and then had a couple of drinks more while chatting with Suresh before crashing for the night.
After all these days of freezing cold, Delhi appeared rather warm. The flight's at 1 pm tomorrow so we plan to leave by 1030 am.