Monday, August 15, 2016

How Have You Made Your Country Proud?

We want her to make us proud but what have we done to enable her profession? (photo credit)
My Twitter timeline has been full of Dipti Karmakar. Tweets about her feats at the Olympics. The joy of her making it to the finals and the anticipation of her performance in it. And then comments about how she did and not winning a medal. While most of them have lauded her for her determination and attempt at the death vault, some of them are still unhappy about India not having won any medals in the Olympics.

As someone who has no interest in sports, I have a very objective view of things. I feel that expecting India to win medals once in 4 years is so unfair when we give zero encouragement to sports as a profession the rest of the time. We do have sports in schools and some parents also send their children to hobby classes. But that is more from a fitness or an extra curricular activity point of view. No one really tells their kids that they can be a Sachin or a Dipti when they grow up. Sports is fine as long as it remains a hobby. But serious careers are the ones that come from studies and degrees. And that is the attitude we have for sports in general.

But the irony is that while this is what we do to do our country proud, we expect our athletes to bring us that sense of pride through medals! We need to introspect and ask ourselves what we have done to make our country proud. What have been our efforts in encouraging even people who wish to have the best sporting facilities in the country to enable to bring back medals and make us proud?

What do you think about this?

This post has been written for #CreativeCurves under #BlogOEmotion week and this is the final day prompt, pride. 

Sunday, August 14, 2016

Your Level Of Disgust Decides If You Are Tolerant

Disgust affects a lot of your preferences (Photo credit)
Disgust - a very strange emotion to write on! Who wants to think about disgusting things! And write a  post recalling them. So I thought, like yesterday, can talk about a less known aspect about disgust.

Did you know that disgust is not just an emotion, it also has a strong connection with our opinions of a lot of unconnected things. There are people who are tolerant of a lot of things. But some others are more accepting of others choices. Studies have shown that all this has to do,with the tolerance levels to disgust. In one of the experiments done to test this, a gas that smelled like fart was released in one room before the participants had to answer a questionnaire about their views on things like political views, homosexual etc. The other room had participants who weren't subjected to is obnoxious smell. The result: the participants who were disgusted by the fart smell were more conservative in their views.

In general, people who are easily disgusted are more conservative and less tolerant of others views. And reverse is also true. Disgust is responsible for your views on morality and politics.

Are you someone who is easily disgusted? Take this disgust sensitivity test. The results might surprise you.

This post is written for the blogging challenge, #BlogOEmotion by #CreativeCurves and this day 7 with the prompt, disgust.

Saturday, August 13, 2016

Love Is Just Chemical Locha In Your Brain

Love makes the world go round!
Remember that rush of feelings when you first begin to like someone. All of us have been silly teenagers smiling secretly to ourselves and humming romantic Bollywood numbers. The blush of first love stays in our memories forever and the nostalgia brings back the same smile. Or a crush you have on someone new you meet. Wonderful feelings that makes the world a more beautiful place. It's all pink and full of balloons! You think about that person all the time. You want to be together all the time. It's just the most amazing feeling in the world.

But what if I burst your bubble and said that all it isn't really love at all. And that's the reason why it fades a few years into marriage. Or that crushes don't last forever. You don't have that heady feeling of love after you've been with people for a duration of time. And you have Oxytocin, the love hormone to blame for all this. Not just people, it's the same feeling of well being when you shop for new things. And this is the stuff that shopaholics feed on. The rush recedes and then they go and shop some more.

So the next time you feel silly in love, remember it's just some hormones acting up. It will wear off and that will be the true test of whether you really love someone or not.

This post has been written for #CreativeCurves under #BlogOEmotion week and this is Day 6 on the prompt, Love 

Friday, August 12, 2016

A Woman Is A Woman's Worst Enemy

It's sad that a woman is a woman's worst enemy

I recently met an old, close friend who works in a school. She was talking about how some of her colleagues weren't allowed to go on school picnics because their husbands did not permit them. She said one of the teachers sometimes came to school with bruises on her face and arms. It was evident that she was a victim of domestic violence. A woman with a job and financial independence! When I asked my friend if she did anything to help her colleague out, she just shrugged and said that the girl's parents who lived in another city nearby also did know anything about her plight.

This set me thinking. A woman who evidently is going through something so bad and her colleagues just shrug it off. The woman herself doesn't want to confide in her parents - even her mother! And for what? To keep the 'married' tag intact? How would it affect her kids - she has 2 - to see their mother being treated like this? Isn't she setting the wrong example for them?

In this case, the colleagues who work together could form a bastion she could fall back on and confide. Their backing her up could mean the world to her. And maybe the only encouragement she needs to make that life altering decision, to choose to not put up with humiliation anymore, to take a step towards a better future for her children. But instead we just choose to ignore it like it's not none of our business.

Another friend had an arranged marriage at 24 and found that her husband spent nights out and refused to explain where he went. She confided in her mother hoping to find some support. But her mother told her to ignore it since men did what they wished and asked her to focus on bringing up the kids. By the time she was 30, she had 3 kids and husband who was least interested in her. If her mother supported her, I think her life would have been very different today.

Some of you might wonder why am I finding fault women who are already so helpless! For ages, we have held responsible for the oppression of women. Yes, the man who treats his wife like this deserves to be punished - severely. And I am not supporting him. But I am drawing attention to the fact that women themselves do not support each other. Women, who go through the same grind in our lives and should have the highest level of empathy and support.

Take another situation - the classic tussle between the mother and the daughter-in-law. History is full of instances about how they just cant get along. And the drama is played out in pretty much every household in the country that has them. A woman leaves her house hoping to find the same love and understanding from another woman who also left her family behind at some time. But it doesn't work that way. It isn't empathy that works out here. One unwilling to relinquish control to the new comer and the other hoping to score in other ways. 'Support' is not a part of this relationship dynamic.

A Suitable Boy by Vikram Seth is a mammoth 1000 page book. But one of the things that stands out in my memory is about how a character comments that men can divide kingdoms but the women of the house will never be able to decide who gets the pots and pans in the house. And this is so true.

I can go on and on. But the sad fact will remain that a woman is a woman's worst enemy. It is us who keep patriarchy alive. It is us who keep whatever this hatred for each other is called, brewing.
Men just bond over simple things. But women judge! We do! Be honest to yourself and accept it. We bitch about other women, size each other up when we meet and are the first ones to condemn them when we are in trouble. A qualified mom who gave up her career for her children is judged as much as a mother who has a full time job leaving her kids behind. A mother teaches her daughter to keep her periods a secret. She passes on the legacy of being a good daughter in law. Which then goes on to the next generation. And the cycle continues. Haven't you sometimes found an empathetic hearing from a man and felt more comfortable sharing things with a male friend? And it felt better to do it since you knew your women friends would judge and in all probability blame you for your situation?

I don't think we should blame men for any injustice perpetrated on us unless women folk have solidarity amongst us. What do you think? Have you come across experiences that have made you feel the same way?

This post has been written for #CreativeCurves under #BlogOEmotion week and today is day Day 5 with the prompt, Sadness. 

Thursday, August 11, 2016

#BlogOEmotion Day 4: What Does Trust Mean To You?

Relationships: Is there someone you trust completely?
Tiny, soft and cute. No one thinks of new born babies as helpless. But think about it. A baby is completely dependent on the parents. Even though it is just born, it knows a mother's touch. It feels safe in the comfort of her arms. Through most of the first year of its life, babies trust their parents. Have you noticed how babies a few months old sometimes tightly clutch the dad's shirt while hoisted up on his arms? There is blind trust that makes them latch on to parents. There is no scope for doubting even for a bit that they'll let the baby down. But as we grow up, seeds of distrust are sown in our mind by the world. Our expectations are thwarted and we learn the precious lesson that everyone is not going to be like our parents are - people we can lean on without any doubt.

Research suggests that we need to trust and respect people before we build a relationship. And trust aways comes before respect. When we meet new people, the first question our instincts are trying to answer is if we can trust someone. Only when that is satisfied do we learn to respect.

Do you have someone in your life that you trust so completely even now? How hard is it to start trusting people? Easy? Hard? I'd love to hear your experiences.

This post has been written for #CreativeCurves under #BlogOEmotion week and this is the post for Day 4 on Trust

Wednesday, August 10, 2016

#BlogOEmotion Day 3: Does anger help?

How does anger help if we do nothing to change the world! 
When Nirbhaya died of a brutal rape, the nation erupted in rage. There were protests and candle night vigils everywhere. Whenever someone cuts us to overtake from the wrong side, we are indignant at the lack of traffic sense among people. Every time a case of domestic violence comes up, we outrage on social media and launch attacks at laws. When someone insults sports people, we are angry at the ignorance of the one who commented. From the laws of the land to God and his invisible hand, we think we have the right to be rightfully angry about anything. We are a nation that loves to get angry and make our voices heard - which is made easier by social media.

But have we ever stopped to think about the use of all this anger? Are we not responsible for a lot of things that are wrong with the world? We live on this planet and aren't we the reason why so many things are screwed up? I know it will take us a few more generations to set things right. But meanwhile, if we were to do something about setting some things right instead of just ranting on social media, wouldn't the world be a better place? I can imagine some of you shake your head in resignation and think - how can I set the world right! It's too big and too many things make me angry. But humour me and read on.

Think for a second - What can we replace angry honking with? Maybe a little patience. One person at a time. How can we stop crime against women? I know this is a huge problem and not easy to solve. But how about respecting all women around you - whether she is related to you or a stranger in the street. How about treating every person with the dignity they deserve irrespective of their gender. How about helping one genuinely poor, hungry person you run into on the street instead of ranting about world poverty? Maybe we could do our bit to reduce global warming instead of discussing it as if it's not our problem and someone else should come around and solve it.

Anger is a good thing if it channelised in the right manner. And if we all used our resentment and disappointment at the state of things to make the world a better place, the emotion would be so much more worth it. What do you think? I'd love to hear what you think about my views. Go ahead, express your anger in the comments below! :)

This post has been written for #CreativeCurves under #BlogOEmotion week. Today's prompt: Anger 

Tuesday, August 9, 2016

#BlogOEmotion Day 2: What are you afraid of?

What are you afraid to face? (Photo credit)
What are you scared of? Cockroaches? Strangers? Darkness? Losing a loved one? Failure? We all have different rational and irrational fears. But what is it that we constantly live under the shadow of? Just think of what we teach our kids. We want them to do well, win competitions and work harder than the others. We celebrate success and disapprove of failures. We laud the A's and don't want to talk about the C's. As kids grow up, we teach them to aspire for the best universities, the most coveted jobs and a lifestyle that people can be envious of.

When I look around on social media - which is such an important part of our lives now - there are loud voices talking about individual accomplishment. We almost don't want to admit that we failed at anything. People will judge us and we will fall short in their estimate. There are quotes, memes, tweets all over the place about how we will reach success someday.

We only glorify failure and call it the stepping stone to success. We talk about failures of great people only to prove to ourselves that despite failure, it's their success that counts. And with some others, we don't even mention their failures since their success is a beacon of shining hope for the rest of us. For instance, we all know what a great inventor and presenter Steve Jobs was. But no one ever talks about him being thrown out of his own company at the beginning of his career.

We all constantly live under the shadow of failure. We all want to look back on our lives and be able to count the number of achievements off our fingers. We want to leave some legacy for our kids and have them aspire to better that. We, as a society, do not celebrate failures. We don't believe that it's ok to fail and admit it. We are not perfect and shit happens.

Don't fear failure. Keep going! (photo credit)
When I look back at my goals from 2 years ago when I started my training blog and company called Soft Skills Studio, I set out to establish it as a full fledged training and coaching outfit. Have I accomplished that yet? No. But do I bring that to people's notice? No. Instead I do a lot of other things that will eventually make the company a success. But does that mean I am a failure? No. I have achieved many other sub goals along the way. There is no specific benchmarks to measure success or failure. No one's completely one or the other. We have some things going well for us while some other balls might still be up in the air. So instead of fearing failure, we just need to accept that some things might not work but that doesn't mean we failed. Even if we did, there is nothing wrong in accepting it, picking ourselves up and get going along the way. In fact, the very fear adds to the pressure and may not work in out favour.

What do you think about the fear of failure? Are you plagued by it or are you able to take it in your stride and live one day at a time? Drop your thoughts in the comments and let's keep the conversation going.

This post has been written for #CreativeCurves under #BlogOEmotion week. Today is Day 2 and the prompt is fear. 

And it's the 200th post!

And it's 200 posts!! (Photo credit)
So here is my 200th! I started blogging in 2009. Wow! That was a long time ago and you can read all about it here. It's quite boring to be honest. Blogging evolved rapidly only in later years. And I started writing in much simpler times.

What is exciting is that it took me years of sporadic blogging to hit the 100 posts mark. And it has taken me a little over a year to write another 100! Thanks to the encouraging blogging community and a couple of blogging challenges along the way. The research I did for my training blog a couple of years ago also served as an impetus to keep the momentum going here. You can read some of the lessons I have learnt through blogging along the way

Blogging is a lot more vibrant and interactive activity now that it was when I started. Since I got started with my training blog and updated my knowledge on blogging for it, I've had tons of ideas. But time is always a constraint. What stands out in my mind is that no matter how frenetic and complicated the blogging world is, I have let this space be my peaceful sanctum of writing. And the reason to write here still remains the same: for the joy of writing. I have never bothered about the traffic on this blog - which might seem stupid to some people. The whole point of a blog is getting as many readers and build it to apoint where it can make money, maybe. But with so many other things to bother about, I don't want public opinion or deadlines of commercial writing mar my passion for writing. At least not here.

What is also amazing is that I'll be writing two posts today. This one, since I just realised it's my 200th and another one for an ongoing blogging challenge. Since I couldn't have woven this into the prompt of the challenge and did not want this milestone to pass unwritten about, I decided to an additional post to mark the event.

Keeping up with a blog is hard work. And the most common complaints are writer's block, lack of time or the motivation at the end of the day to pull out your blog and type. But every post we write is a step ahead. It doesn't matter how many breaks we have taken or how frequently others write, as long as we have something to write about and we make our voice count, we have done justice to our blogs. And this is one step ahead for me in keeping my blog alive and putting out my voice out there. 

Monday, August 8, 2016

#BlogOEmotion: Day 1: What Gives You Joy?

Joy is the smile on a baby's face! (Photo credit)
Joy. The word brings to my mind unbridled glee. Pure, unadulterated happiness. And that kind of joy can mean different things for different people. Have you seen the joyful face of a toddler when it gets a fistful of candies? Or the happy steps of kids running to catch a falling kite? Or a baby smiling at lights it can barely make out? The other night, I was at a restaurant and these 2 little kids broke into a jig at retro Hindi music with not a care in the world. Children are naturally joyful and small things make them happy. As we grow up, we are burdened by the cares of the world. We start chasing our dreams and achieving each one only gives rise to more goals and expectations. Especially in today's crazy times, we have insane schedules trying to juggle work and home. It's a constant battle to free ourselves from the shackles of distractions that the internet and smartphones create every day. We have forgotten the little joys that our parents' generation savoured as part of simpler times. Sipping tea after office and browsing through the newspaper, having an early dinner and going to sleep on time - simpler choices that made life easier.
The joy of simple indulgences! (Photo credit)
In fact, now more than ever is the need to find what gives us joy and squeeze time for it every day. At least, every weekend. And, true enough, we try a zillion things in our quest for joy. Expensive massages, overseas holidays, yoga and meditation camps or motivational books that tell us how to find joy. But I guess we just end up complicating even the process of finding joy.

In my experience, it is easier to be joyful when we go back to the simplicity of our childhood. Strip our experiences of expectation. And find simple joys in life. I discovered adult colouring books this year. Not a very great with colours, I was at first anxious about the outcome since I had seen these amazing pictures online. But soon I let go of the anxiety since the colouring was only for me. It wasn't to prove anything to anyone. And now, the leaves in my book are coloured anything but green and brown. It's the joy of indulging myself in colours. I also have a simple word puzzle book. It doesn't have complex levels since the idea is to experience the joy of finding words in the jumble. I recently went to a restaurant and at the end we were served with a plate full of melody, kismi toffees and Poppins! And that was a moment of sheer joy! My spouse and I picked handfuls and it felt like reliving a part of our childhood. Listening to my favourite music, even while working, gives me joy. Spending time with my spouse is always joyful - we listen to music together, watch a movie or just chat about general things.

There was a time when I was so lost in running my busy life that I had forgotten what gave me joy. I found a few things that do. I am still trying to recover the joy I felt in a lot of other things - like reading - instead of the current anxiety of too many books to read and too little time. Look around and think what really gives you joy. Are/were there things that makes you forget the world and be happy doing it? Write the first thing that comes to your happy mind in the comment.

This post has been written for #CreativeCurves under #BlogOEmotion week and this post is for Day 1 prompt - Joy.

Wednesday, August 3, 2016

#BarAThon Day 3: The Fragile Life Of A Woman

No matter how big our dreams are we all end up living fragile lives! (photo credit)
She smiled coyly as a new bride. He stole a shy look at her and promised he will always look after her. She bid adieu to her parents and was taken to his. She got the ceremonial welcome. She stepped into her new house as a symbol of prosperity. She proudly took that step into her new house - "our house", she thought.

She was taught how her husband's house was her real house and her in-laws, her new parents. She should take care of them the way she would for her own kin. She was the daughter-in-law of the house and had grand dreams of how her new home was going to be. Soon after she set foot into her new house, she set about making everyone happy, putting her needs after everyone else's. She made plans of how she'd run the household, take care of her husband and everyone else in the house. She would be the darling of the house and respected for the values she brought into the new household with her.

But she soon realised how different reality was from the world she had woven in her mind. To take care of everyone was assumed to be her job. She was clearly told that she had no right to run the house the way she wanted. She just had to follow the rules and do things the way they were always done. She was assigned a room where she saw the man she loved at night. He did not want to meddle in the domestic affairs and asked her to be patient. His parents, he said, were important and so was their happiness. She should try and keep them happy.

It is then that she realised the fragile lives that women live after marriage - and also the kind of fragile lives they would be leading as a couple. With her dreams shattered and her respect taken away from her, she knew her life will never be as she had dreamt it would be. There would never be her household. She was just an outsider who would have follow their way of living and have nothing to call her own - not even her marriage.

This is Day 3 of #BarAThon and the theme for today's post is fragile lives.

Tuesday, August 2, 2016

#BarAThon Day 2: What You Don't Know About Their Challenges

There is something about neat homes that draws me to them (Photo credit)

I have been a guest in two different homes in two different cities last month. While I envied the super size of one house, the apple pie order of the other made me jealous. The big one was so big that you could work out running back and forth answering the door bell. Numerous wardrobes lined up to hold clothes, a separate room for kids' toys, a huge drawing room. And extra room called the study!! My Mumbai flat truly is a match box in comparison. A huge house with so much space is like a dream since I moved to Mumbai.  

And the other house had me swooning over the orderly fashion in which it was maintained. Every time I visit, the guest bedroom - not used much otherwise- has a neatly made bed by the man of the house. I find towels - hand to bath, in different sizes on the bed with a new bar of soap. The books on a shelf in my room are neatly aligned one on top of the other with not a speck of dust on them.  I open a kitchen closet for a glass and almost fainted! Every thing on every shelf was so neatly lined up as if it had never been touched. 

My mind quickly went back to the war zone my room looks like very night. And how miserably I fail to restore order despite the de-cluttering sprees I go into. This was like living in a dream. And it’s always been like this every time I have visited - and think, this is the kind of neat house I was (always wanted!) As I go green with envy, my thoughts run away on their own guilt trip - why can’t we be this neat! I have tried so much to clear clutter and have things neatly arranged around me but it just doesn’t happen. And soon I move from self-bashing to spouse-bashing - he just doesn’t bother to put things in their place and it is impossible without everyone being on board about it. And if only we had more space for our piling stuff, it would be much neater. 

As I step put of my room with these thoughts swirling in my mind, I find tea for everyone on the dining table on a coaster (coaster! Isn't that only for the guests!) As I sit down to sip my tea, I see the hostess meticulously wiping every plate and spoon which was washed earlier and laid out to dry in a plastic basket. I am astonished and ask her why she was wiping every vessel. And her answer - wet vessels can't be put back in the cupboards. They should be dried first. And what blew my mind was the fact that it was a rule of the man of the house. He had lived on his own for years before he brought a wife home and was used to this routine - and apple pie order in the house. And now the woman of the house just had to follow it!

I could already see my envious green shade fading. I kinda began to get a peek into what goes into keeping the house spic and span. An everyday effort to arrange things into neatness. And when I looked back at my life, I can't even think of a time my spouse bothered about what happened to the plate he finished his meal in - let alone setting a process for dealing with it! And wasting my time on something as inane as wiping vessels dry is unimaginable! Now, it might work for some people, but I think I am too pampered to have these rules imposed on me. 

And staying in the big house, I found the hostess complaining of how she hasn't found the time to clear out and organize her wardrobe for over a year now! Arranging the kids’ room is as much time as she can find in her busy schedule. Over the few days that I was there, I found that the more the space, there more there is available to clutter. I know I have a problem with lack of space in Mumbai homes, but beyond a point, we take space for granted and don't bother about piling clutter. Gradually, it just becomes unmanageable.

So while I noticed the seemingly good parts in their lives that were missing in mine, I forgot to account for the more awesome things in my life. People see the shiny exterior of others' shoes but what you don't know is the blisters they have within. I'd love a big and neat house with fancy wardrobes, expensive curtains and different rooms for every purpose. But with all that also comes with the responsibility of maintaining it. What I failed to notice was the blessing of being able to clutter around and not have to put things back in their place then and there. (Which I have always known is the secret to a forever neat and clean house!). Instead of letting things just accumulate, living in a small house has taught me the importance of 'use or donate' style of living. 

In short, there is nothing called a perfect life. I have heard people living in the best localities and flats also complain about the hefty maintenance they have to pay to be able to live there. I may look at fancy, large homes and neatly lined up books and envy them, what we don't know is the challenge that each situation brings in. It may seem like an utopia you'd like for yourself but what you don't know is the reality behind living there everyday. 

This post is a part of a 7 day blogging challenge by BAR where I'll be writing on a new prompt everyday. The prompt for today was - What you don't know. 

Monday, August 1, 2016

#BarAThon Day 1: Life Is Stranger Than Fiction

From taking up the blogging challenge in November last year, I know that sometimes it takes a challenge to kick us into action. I've had a bad day and there's less than an hour left for the Day 1 deadline of this challenge to be over. But somehow here I am hacking away at the keyboard because I just want to be a part of a challenge. A quick research just now revealed that most people participating in the marathon have already finished their posts and shared them. But there's still time and here I am!

This post will reveal itself as I write it since I have no plan for this post and I think spontaneous ideas work the best at times. Despite being tired, the very act of typing on the keyboard feels soothing. This is strange in itself because we all have gone through the sinking feeling of an empty page staring back at us and our fingers don't know what to type. Stranger than fiction - a phrase that has immense possibilities. Fiction has the power to be anything. Dinosaurs can be purple and 11 year olds can be wizards. Then what can be stranger than fiction? What can be so unpredictable that it can beat the myriad hues fiction can be written in? It is supposed to be 'truth' but to me it's real life.

While we confuse a lot of fiction as truth, life trumps all. A few things that come to my mind are things that I have encountered often in my life. It's as if people expect some piece of fiction to be the truth of everyone's life. One such thing is the concept of "living happily ever after" or a "perfect couple". To me, both these are figments of someone's imagination that popular culture ran away with. Working on relationships or life goals is an ongoing process, one that is full of ups and downs and involves sweat and blood. And though the fiction that everything has a happy ending sounds so inspiring, the strange truth is it won't. And I think that's what keeps the challenge going. Imagine meeting the love of your life and that's the end of your purpose in life. Or being with someone who is exactly like you. Striving to reach new goals and accommodating someone imperfect in your life is what keeps the spice up in life.

I have a couple more but I am asked to keep the posts short. I hope this made some sense to you all. Looking forward to your responses and encouragement to keep this going.

This post is a part of a 7 day blogging challenge by BAR where I will be writing on a new prompt every day.