Thursday, July 27, 2017

Am I intolerant?

So this might be the first time I am writing about a burning topic because you know I am too lazy to voice my opinion. It’s a long process- You voice your opinion very loosely without checking on the facts. N number of people would support you while N+1 number of people would give you thumbs down. Your ego would be hurt and even if you have realized that you were wrong in your assumption, you can’t go back because now you are representing a certain belief and you have to stand by your words else you are not a man enough.

Not deviating more from the topic, here I am with my two cents on this national favourite trending topic. First of all I don’t understand why we use the word ‘tolerance’ which itself is a very negative term? Why don’t we use the term ‘celebration?’ Why do we tolerate other beliefs, why don’t we celebrate? I am a Hindu by religion and I am quite proud of it but more than that I am proud of the fact that I am Indian. It’s not because of the 80+% of Hindu population but it’s because of the other part that represents a number of belief systems. This is what makes our country different from others. Just imagine how many years of ‘tolerance’ would have shaped this unique set of mixed ideologies. Sometimes I wonder what is this classification of Hindu, Muslim, Christian, Tamil, Rajput, Brahmin? Is it not just a demographic bucket? I am a Hindu but I also relish the iftaar meals of Chandni Chowk. I visit churches for their Sunday Mass. I have this habit of placing my hand on my heart whenever I am near a religious site- temple, mosque or church. Who is a 100% here? I know many of my friends who belong to a particular belief but have adapted habits of another. I know a friend who is Hindu but loves beef. I know a Malayali who loves Hindi movies, a muslim who places her ghungroo before goddess Saraswati. In the end, after all we all are human beings who are there on earth to live a peaceful and happy life. I have spent the first half of my life enjoying the best of everything that my country offers and given a choice I would like to do the same in future.

Let’s leave religion for a while because it is certainly beyond my scope but language is something that interests me the most. I was born in an Oriya family migrated to Bihar in search of better career. Like all the enthusiastic parents, my parents too taught me Oriya as my first language when I was 3. I was a bright student but I flunked in Hindi. When my parents enquired, my teacher told them that I was always speaking in Oriya and was facing difficulty in picking up Hindi. Now this was nothing less than a dharm sankat for my parents but they had to give in and Hindi became my first language. As I grew up I recognized myself as a Bihari rather than an Oriya and I was cordially accepted in both the states.

To be honest, I never realized the existence of language barrier until years later when I was posted in Chennai. Although I was excited to explore a new place, my family and neighbours were not amused as if I am been sent to some foreign land. However, the moment I reached Chennai I realized that fear was not invalid after all. I was on a fast track leadership programme and had to lead a team. To my shock, even the team meetings in an MNC were taking place in Tamil. I knew I had the rights to force them to speak in English but somewhere I admired them for the respect they had for their culture. Next few days I tried socializing with them and even found some enthusiastic teachers to help me with some basic Tamil but my inability to learn a language again stopped me from learning anything new. I was upset with myself thinking that I would never be able to make a place for myself but I had never been more wrong. Though I failed in learning Tamil, I made my intentions and respect clear. Suddenly meetings started happening in English, I always had a translator at service even to movie theatres. At times, I was given notes in Tamil written in English script and I would lovingly recite it while the whole team would burst into laughing at my accent but I enjoyed every moment of it and made some good friends. On the other hand my Malayali roommate made a weird demand. She asked me to speak in Hindi with her so that I can feel at home. I knew she is a Bollywood fan and thus knows Hindi but I also realized how difficult it is for anyone to communicate in a third language but I really appreciated her gesture.

Long story cut short, I believe it doesn’t matter which bucket you belong to; love, empathy and acceptance should be your language and habit. Rest all would be taken care of.  In this era of black and white probably grey is the shade of the season, after all mix and match is a classic choice

Tuesday, June 13, 2017

Depression- An insider’s account

A tale of a bossy brain, out of control hormones, a confused heart and a bruised soul

Who would you listen to?

Imagine the best day of your life. What is it like? You wake up at 6 am, hit the gym at 8, workout till you get exhausted, have a healthy breakfast, grab a coffee and show on time to office. You are greeted by cheerful colleagues; you have another round of coffee with them and a gossip session too. Suddenly, there is a crisis in office and you come up with a brilliant idea. Your boss appreciates you, your team loves you. After work, you hang out with your friends. Your parents/partner calls you up and you spend hours chit chatting. Before going to bed, you write a blog post which instantly gets 50 likes. You sleep peacefully like a child.

Now imagine, you wake up in a hospital bed, bandaged and unable to move your legs. You have bunches of flowers around you. All your loved ones are showering you with love, blessings, wishes and sympathy. You try to get up but no one would let you do that. You realize it would take a long time for you to recover. You worry about your commitments, finances, and responsibilities and so on. People come together and support you, calm you and encourage you to hope for the best. They look forward to see you again leading a normal life. There’s a doubt-“What if I never recover?”.“Are you mad?” they would reprimand. There is always a chance of never recovering but no one is so stupid to believe so.

Now again, lets change this scenario a bit. You are in your bedroom, in your warm and cosy bed, trying to get up but you can’t. You have inexplicable body ache but no symptom of cold or flu. You feel exhausted and restless at the same time. You feel you have lost everything, even the will to live. The perfect day you had yesterday seems like a distant past. The ticking clock, the ringing cell phone, the mail alerts- mean nothing to you. You lie down again and think- what’s wrong with you? You message your boss- “Just a little under the weather. Taking an off. See you tomorrow.” He/she would reply with the usual monosyllable- TC. You feel relieved for a moment but start sulking again- all the moments of failure flash before your eyes. Suddenly you are envious of your friends, colleagues, Sharma ji’s son etc. A chemical locha happens and your one body one mind policy is breached. You hear four voices coming from four corners of your body:

A.      The Bossy Brain- The superstar of your so called successful life- a fighter, a hero, always giving inspirational talk, pushing you, criticising you, trying to make through every situation- oblivious to your emotions. It screams at you- There’s nothing wrong with you. You are just lazy. It’s your fault. You can do everything but you are laid back. You are a failure.

B.      The Hyperactive Hormones- These are the little toddlers who run around the house and break all the delicate objects. You don’t know what’s on their mind. You try to control them and they would start crying louder. The only way to work around them is to let them do what they want and don’t hurt them by being harsh on them- These little sensitive devils.

C.      The Haywire Heart- Well….. living your life to the fullest means following your heart but what if your heart is on a zig zag path that ends up in a circle? It wants to obey the bossy brain, calm down the hyperactive hormones and soothe the sorrowful soul at the same time but can’t prioritize. It starts pulling one string, leaves it midway, starts another and ends up getting tangled in them.

D.      The Sorrowful Soul- Poor soul- bruised and broken- believes nothing can make it feel better. All hopes given up, it just wants to put an end to the misery. It is tired of everything- like a broken record- playing the same line over and again- I hate my life.

The worst part about this- the whole body is on revolt mode but all you can see outside is a person with blank face and puffy eyes. That’s what depression looks like.


Did you say take it easy?



























Friday, February 3, 2017

Tulsi

(image sourced from Corbis)


It was 8 am only but I was late- the same old story of a poor soul trapped in a corporate world. While I was climbing the stairs to the metro station with a dazed face, something sparkled in my eyes. It was a mix of vibrant colours against the plain pastel wall of the station. An octogenarian lady wearing a bright silk saree and a lot of trinkets was trying to do something with her trembling hands. I could see a long steel needle sparkling in the morning sun. She was making a garland using red, yellow and pink flowers. They looked beautiful, only if I could buy them and decorate my puja place I was wondering.

It was 8 pm and I was climbing down the stairs of metro station while still on concall with clients. I found my old friend again with her basket still full of flowers. While there was chaos going on the other side of the phone, there was a complete calm on the lady’s face. Only her eyes were speaking- they were curiously looking at every passer by trying to judge whether it would be her next customer. With each person totally ignoring her existence, her face drooped a little but she was supporting it with her petite hands. By the time I hung up I did not realize I was almost home. For some reason I felt guilty that those curious eyes followed me too and like everyone else I also could not appreciate her perseverance.

I was compelled to walk back but when I reached there I noticed the crowd- policemen and local vendor chit chatting over politics, corporate slaves walking back with their heavy laptop bags, pretty ladies ready to go to parties. Suddenly the feeling of disturbing this equilibrium scared me. The old lady sitting in the middle of all the hustles seemed to be so lonely that by going near to her I would draw everyone’s attention. I loitered around her place pretending to be on phone and casually looking at all the stuff on sale.

She probably sensed that there is another gleam of hope. She sprayed some more water on the flowers. I bent a little and took a closer look at the flowers. The flowers that appeared heavenly in the morning were turning into a shrivelling and stinking mass. My old woman could see the twitch in my body and her happy smile was converted into an apologetic one. She picked up a garland of pink flowers that were relatively fresh and held it to me pointing at my neatly tied hair bun. I could see through her nervous intentions but she was no cunning sales person. She gave and started winding up. I desperately wanted to help and so I pointed towards a garland made up of tulsi leaves. She happily wrapped it and gave it to me. Purposefully I handed her a 100 rupees note instead of a tenner and rushed away signalling that I am in too much hurry to wait. She probably understood. Her triumph of selling stale flowers was belittled by the charity done by me and I was already regretting it.


I looked at the tulsi leaves and remembered home. Though dried up the leaves were still smelling sweet unlike the stinking flowers. Suddenly the old tulsi of night appeared to be more valuable than the young flowers of morning. I placed them in my puja space satisfied that they have served the purpose. That evening, I smiled after many days.