Carpe Diem- Seize the Moment!

Just jump from the plane you are flying on but don’t forget that you have you parachute with you!

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Carpe diem, (Latin: “pluck the day” or “seize the day”) phrase used by the Roman poet Horace to express the idea that one should enjoy life while one can. There are different thoughts going on in the world about life and death, this includes the reincarnation. Reincarnation is the belief that the soul, upon the death of the body, comes back to earth in another body or form. Well, I am personally a firm believer of the thought process that there is no reincarnation. The life that we have got is the only one we have got. The picture above displays Sundial which indicates that time is always slipping by! So, seize your moment if you can!

What do we do with life? How has the dice fallen for you? How your mind is made? Circumstances or genes or DNA make your persona. But that is not what we are talking about. This one little life that we have, is all we are getting. We don’t know when it is going end, we have no control over where you are born, you have no control over who your parents are. You are what you are. You are born with a mix of different characteristics. But maybe you have control over what you become, what memories you leave behind!

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Carpe diem to me is a philosophy! It is like writing in the sand on the seashore depicted in the picture above! If you don’t seize the moment, the wave will swallow the the writing! Either it can be used in a constructive way or a destructive way. In today’s world, the term gets misused in a wrong way. You have an important meeting the next day or a job interview or an opportunity to meet someone to settle a broken friendship or relationship. A long-lost friend calls you the previous night and suggests to have a night out and have fun! Well, that’s a great opportunity to make and you think it’s a Carpe diem moment! It’s YOLO moment as per today’s buzz words! You Only Live Once! But will it be the right thing to do? Is it the right thing to seize the opportunity to meet your long-lost friend? Probably not, because next day you are trying to finalize that once in a lifetime deal, you may get your dream job, you are finally getting to settle that long-time issue which is dear to your heart! The interpretation “To seize the opportunity” comes with a rider! It is for the betterment of life, improvement of the quality of life or dream cum true! It is not just binging with friends and have a night out! Yes, that is also important when done at the appropriate time.

There is a story about the 89-year-old Naval officer from the British Navy. In the year 2014 people had decided to celebrate 50 years of landing at Normandy, 2nd world war’s decisive invasion point! This gentleman was in a sanatorium passing his retired life. He decided that he must join the celebration but there was no question of him getting the permission. He simply dressed up, wore a raincoat and a hat and walked out of the sanatorium to the railway station, 1 km away. He took a train, hopped into a ferry to go to Normandy. By the time people realized that he was missing, he was already in Normandy. He knew that he would be admonished when he came back. But the story of his escape was all over media; when asked by a reporter, he said only two words, “Carpe diem !” To hell with everything else! The ferry company gave him a lifetime pass for the journey he took! Alas, he died in six months!

Taking risks at appropriate times is seizing the opportunity, it is not doing whatever comes to your mind, though the end results may be bad, sometimes! It is about doing the proper risk analysis, thinking through the opportunity and then seizing the moment. It is not for only seizing the moment or for YOLO.

The message of Carpe diem matters more than ever today. We live in an age of distraction, where we are checking our phones, on average, 110 times a day, and are more interested in being spectators of life on the screen than living it for ourselves. Immersed in the second-hand pleasures offered by our electronic gadgets, we need to reconnect with the wisdom of Carpe diem, a philosophy which calls on us to taste the wonders of experiential living in the short time we have before death. In a group of college friends, we made the group, forwards free. There were so many fights, so much resistance. We have very become used to the second-hand pleasure of sharing forwards. Finally, when we could make the group forwards free, there are only 3 to 4 contributors, most others prefer to be silent spectators because they have nothing original with them. We seem to have forgotten that the formation of the group of friends, who were in college together 50 years back,  was a Carpe diem moment!

I will share one simple incident. A gentleman, aged 84 was in a hospital for a few days. His daughter went to be with him for the day. He said to her that he wants to eat Masala Dosa. The daughter said, ok I will get it. He said no. He got up, changed his hospital clothes and said let us go. They went to the restaurant had the dosa and came back. Of course it was no big deal, but that was Carpe Diem. But change the case to a 45-year-old patient sick with liver issues; he goes out similarly and has a couple of drinks and comes back. That is not Carpe Diem, it is sheer stupidity.

Carpe diem is seizing the moment or seizing the opportunity! The word “opportunity” comes from the Latin ob portum veniens, meaning “coming toward a port”. It originally referred to a favourable wind that would push a ship into a harbour. So, the question is whether we’re going to hoist our sails and catch the wind, or whether we are so worried about hitting the rocks that we keep the sails down. Yes, if the real opportunity is there, take it even at the cost of some risk.

Spontaneity is a form of Carpe diem , which involves throwing plans and routines to the wind and becoming more experimental in the way we live. We need to liberate ourselves from our electronic calendars and booking up our weekend’s weeks in advance and take a more unplanned approach. Take an unplanned weekend holiday when we are not constantly checking the time and are obsessed with being “efficient” and “productive”. Let go things once in a while!

Political and social Carpe diem? Don’t be surprised!  This is about taking up from the individual level activity to the collective level through mass political action. Think of the Carpe diem demonstrations that brought down the Berlin Wall in 1989, which were full of spontaneous and enjoyable spirit. We need more of this today to challenge the big issues of our time, from climate change to the rise of far-right extremism. Look at what is happening about the MeToo movement! It is happening by the collective action of women from a different field, coming out in open for their rights!

As the modern generation says, YOLO! Yes, you only live once, so make the best use of the opportunities, make best of the chances you get! What are you waiting for? Just jump from the plane you are flying on but don’t forget that you have your parachute with you!

Societal Norms during Mahabharata!

I am all the time intrigued by Mahabharata and Gita!

Lately, I have been reading about Mahabharat and Bhagwad Gita. Many scholars and experts have written essays and treatises on the subject. I am reading these more out of curiosity to understand what the thought processes were, during those times. I will not go into disputed area whether Mahabharat happened at all. One thing I have realized after some reading, is that to understand events and incidents of those times, we should understand  the thought processes and the societal norms of those times. If we try to judge them against today’s thinking, then we may not be able to appreciate and absorb many things and in fact we will not understand many things. But again, in some areas, the thought processes have not changed much, even today.

In those times, if a ruler did not have a male child then he would marry many times till the male child was produced. If all the methods failed then the rulers would ask their brothers or someone from outside their families to “help” the wives to produce a male child. There is a reference of outsider Ved Vyas helping the queens Ambika and Ambalika. How did it fit in the norms of patriarchal society is not understood by me when the confirmed bachelor and celibate Bhishma, from the family, was available for this noble work.  Why services of outsider were taken? But he had taken a vow not to marry and to remain a celibate! So, what was important in those days? His vow or was it his ego or their clan’s lineage, using outside help, though help at home was available? If it were ego, then not much has changed even today!

Images show Kunti invoking Gods for Karna and Arjuna! We see more such examples. Pandu was sterile so he asked Kunti to invoke the boon she had received before her marriage. She invoked three different gods for the births of Dharma, Bhim and Arjun. Whereas Madri also used the same boon (looks like the boon was not patented!) and invoked Ashwini Kumars to produce Nakul and Sahadev!

My question is why different men for each child? In those days the only method available was to use a good old system for producing babies! (It is a different story that 101 Kauravas were born by a method similar to IVF! Really?) Should these episodes be discussed under scientific churning? In all cases apparently, the pregnancy took place after one intercourse which is statistically impossible. With this thought, I shudder to think about “family life” during the period when any of these children were born (using boon method)! Another thing was the birth of Karna! It appears that at a later stage, Kunti did not find it embarrassing to discuss the birth of a child before she was married. Were these the social norms or Kunti was an exception? I am assuming that Kunti was an exception so there is not much change in old and new thought processes about a child being born before marriage!  But about producing heir, old and current thought processes are vastly different.

On the lighter vein let me analyze one more thing. When Ved Vyasa  the father of  Dhritarashtra, to impregnate, Ambika his mother, was so scared when she saw Ved Vyasa, that she supposedly closed her eyes tightly shut! Dhritarashtra was born blind! Masters and Johnson the famous sex experts, should be able to comment on how many blind children should have been born to parents if shutting eyes theory was true! 😊😀🤣

Another observation is that among the clans, only Brahmans & Kshatriyas are mentioned everywhere. Other than this, “Suta” a clan of charioteers, is mentioned in case of Karna. There is another reference where Dhritarashtra fathered a child with a Vaishya woman!

A Suta is a child fathered with a Brahmana woman by a Kshatriya man. Since Brahmanas are higher up in the Varna system than Kshatriyas, this mixed marriage was considered to be against the scriptures, and the children born of such a union possess a low status. If a Brahmana man, fathers a child with a Kshatriya woman, the child acquires the caste of the father and becomes a Brahmana, and no stigma is attached to it. 

Hence Karna is referred to as Suta-Putra, a derogatory term. In case of Karna, this is unfortunate because his mother was Kunti, a Kshatriya and the father was Bhagwan Surya! He was brought up by Atiratha, who was Suta! Another prominent personality was Sanjay, counsellor to Dhritarashtra; he was also Suta! One interesting thing was the case of Vidura. His father was Vyasa and mother were a dasi. So, Vidura’s children had no rights to the throne nor did Vidura! But he was still royalty! How come there is hardly mention of other so-called “lower status” (not my words) people? We don’t read about farmers, artisans, dhobis (we read in Ramayana) and such people. Were they so unimportant that they are not even mentioned? Not much has changed even today, in human behaviour about varnas and castes!

How big were the nation states in those days? It seems that those were a town surrounded by a few villages, with some farmland and land to rare cattle herds. This was surrounded by deep jungles all around till one reached the next nation-state. I have not understood how they created wealth in those days. Apparently, in Mahabharata times, Akhand (unified) Bharat spread from Afghanistan to Bihar, the southern-most reference was Dwarka in Gujarat. Even Bengal does not come under discussion. Madri’s clan was supposedly from Afghanistan.

Some norms during those days were a little different, looting and raping started with Mughal invaders!  In a war, if a state lost the war, the king was restored or in case he died in the war, his son would be coronated. The reason for this was to bring clarity about who was the “Samrat” or the strongest King! There was no looting and taking away of womenfolk. There is even  mention that the women folk were honourably (sic) taken back in the clan even if they had suffered indignities!

There is a mention that in certain states, four/five generations from families lived together. To me, this is an exaggeration. Lifespan of humans has gone up in the last 100 years in India. In the year 1900, average life expectancy was 24 years. So, having people from 3 to 4 generations was an exception to the rule or it was an impossibility. As a story, it feels nice to read about so many generations living under one roof, so it must be read with a pinch of salt.

There are many facets to this discussion. I have simply written about the questions that came to my mind from the point of view of logic! When the logic goes haywire in a story or discussion, I try to accept these things as metaphors of how the society was in those days! Things may not actually happened, the way they are depicted. It is also possible that some events and stories may have been interpolated by writers/poets later; these merged quite smoothly over a period, and  we think that such events did occur! One thing is sure what I have written is not to hurt anybody’s sentiments or faith! More things some other time! But one thing is sure,  I am all the time intrigued by Mahabharata and Gita!

Chalo Ek Bar Phir Se अजनबी बन जाये हम दोनो!

Was the wound to his heart that found the word Ajanabii?

This song, is the best song rendered by Mahendra Kapoor, who was known as Mohammad Rafi clone, till then. (I have met him when I was in 9th or 10th grade, he used to play badminton in our club in Mumbai. (silk shorts and all!) The song is from 1963 movie Gumrah directed by legendary B R Chopra.

Sahir Ludhianvi was a poet who came to Bombay, to earn his bread in Bollywood. I don’t know what compromises he might have been required to make for movies but I feel that in some of the songs the poet in him, comes out predominantly. An important trait of Sahir was that he was very forthright in what he wanted to say, sometimes to the point of bluntness. The way he used the Urdu words was unbelievable. Many a time it so happens that for the Urdu words used by him, other languages don’t have the right words, with required lyricism, to explain his real feelings. Sahir Ludhianvi, who was truly one of the most gifted poets, ever, to have written for Hindi cinema. Known for his cynicism and disillusionment with society, Sahir Ludhianvi wrote lyrics that reflect a great deal of emotional complexity and maturity. In contrast to his contemporaries, Ludhianvi chose to remain unhindered by the constraints set by the Bollywood love song; many of his songs are refreshing to hear for their expression of biting political satire, heartfelt grief, or outspoken anger.

This is the song in which two lovers are caught in the social situation which prevents the two lovers to fulfill their romantic desires and living life together. It is supposedly his real-life situation where he and Amrita Pritam could not stay together though they loved each other. This song is an outpouring of their accidental meeting at a party with her new husband, in Bombay. He was never an idealist hence the first two lines show his pragmatic approach to the situation.

chalo ek baar phir se, ajnabii ban jaaye.n ham dono.n 

Come let us become strangers again!  

na mai.n tumse koii ummiid rakhuu.n dilnavaazii kii 

I shall no longer maintain hopes of compassion from you 

The last four lines are those of a protagonist. He feels that it is counterproductive to pour energy into a relationship that is doomed. His words indicate that sometimes it is good to put an early end to a love story which cannot end in happy circumstances, ever!

taalluq bojh ban jaaye to usko toDnaa achhaa 

Should a relationship become a burden, then it is best to end it.  

voh afsaana jise anjaam tak laanaa na ho mumkin 

For that tale which cannot culminate in a conclusion, 

use ek khuubsuurat moD de kar chhoDna achhaa 

it is best to give it a beautiful turn and leave it be. 

I am sure that is a tough call to bring into practice what Sahir has preached. What Sahir has achieved is one of the best songs he has ever written! The lovers during their love phase and later if that love is broken, are in a highly emotional state. It is quite possible that sanity may be lost in their actions. But Sahir has suggested a very mature way of handling the situation. Let us be strangers again!

The middle stanza of the song is a practical way the poet is suggesting how the love needs to taper off.

na mai.n tumse koii ummiid rakhuu.n dilnavaazii kii 

I shall no longer maintain hopes of compassion from you 

The poet is indicating to his love that he no longer would be compassionate in the relationship nor does he expect his beloved to do so.

na tum merii taraf dekho ghalat andaaz nazaro.n se 

Nor shall you gaze at me with your deceptive glances.  

na mere dil ki dhaDkan laDkhaDaaye merii baato.n me.n 

My heart shall no longer tremble when I speak,  

Poet suggests to his lover that the deceptive and furtive glances will not make his heart to flutter. Nor would his words will reflect feelings of the heart.

na zaahir ho tumhaari kashm-kash ka raaz nazaro.n se 

Nor shall your glances reveal the secret of your torment. 

Over a period, my love, your glances will not display the pain in your eyes!

Friends I am amazed at the way the artists express themselves. Painters’ expressions are seen in the paintings and singer will express through the depth of his voice. These days even cricketers say that they want to go and express themselves. By this, they all mean that they want to show their feelings. But in Sahir’s case,  it is simply amazing that he is able to find the apt expressions and perfectly fitting words. The word Ajanabii just hits the bull’s eye. From lovers to the other extreme, strangers! Somebody may have said, ”Let me walk away” or let us forget each other! But the word Ajnabii hits as if a dagger is plunged inside your heart! How can lovers become strangers in a broken relationship? But that is Sahir for you. Was this song the result of Sahir’s personal experience? Was it the wound to his heart that found the word Ajanabii?

The last line in the poem (ok it’s a song) is also equally impressive.

use ek khuubsuurat moD de kar chhoDna achhaa 

it is best to give it a beautiful turn and leave it be. 

Sahir says now that our relationship is getting over, why not give the situation a beautiful turn, as if he is driving a car and he simply wants to take an unexpected turn on the road which will never come back to his lover. Is it as simple as taking a U-turn? khuubsuurat moD to me is a metaphor where he simply wants to walk out but expresses it as only Sahir can!

Sahir Ludhianvi is the pen name of Abdul Hayee (8 March 1921 – 25 October 1980) who is popularly known as Sahir, was an Indian poet and film lyricist who wrote in the Hindi and Urdu languages. His work influenced Indian cinema, in particular, Bollywood film. Sahir won Filmfare Award for Best Lyricist for Taj Mahal (1963). He won a second Filmfare Award for Best Lyricist for his work on Kabhie Kabhie (1976). He was awarded the Padma Shri in 1971. But lest you forget, his best work was in 1957 Gurudutt film,  Pyaasa! 

Procrastination!

Just do it!

काल करे सो आज कर, आज करै सो अब | 
पल में परलय होयगी, बहुरी करेगा कब ||

This is a famous Doha (couplet) by Sant Kabir. He has said that if you have to perform some important task, why wait for tomorrow, do it today; then why wait for today, do it just now. But the modern Doha would be, if you have to perform a task just now, do it later today. If you have to perform a task today, then do it tomorrow; what is the hurry buddy, there is day after too!  This picture below is the perfect definition of procrastination.

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What Kabir has implied is that for some important work, if you delay it, then what will you do, if some catastrophe takes place and your important work could get delayed or you may never get the opportunity to do it again. In Hinduism, there is a concept of rebirth. If some things remain pending at the time of your death then, one’s soul will remain dissatisfied and will not be able to transcend into the next yoni. Procrastination can be bad for both body and soul!

See the slide show below which throws further light on what I am trying to say.

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There are of course funny sides and serious sides to this problem. We assume that people procrastinate simply because they are lazy but it is not as simple as it looks. There many reasons for this issue and of course there are solutions. But we need to decide that we WANT to do it.

The reasons for procrastination are

  1. Perfectionism
    1. Perhaps you are worried you might make a mistake in your work and expose a weakness. The fear of making mistakes is a real thing, and it can cause people to put off some of their important obligations for another day.
  2. People forget that they can learn from mistakes. Why not try?
    1. This means that they avoid doing certain tasks because they fear the risk of making a mistake and looking anything less than perfect. They want their work to be perfect. Because they believe that they will inevitably fail if the task is not in line with their given talents, it is best to set it aside for another time.
  3. Fear of the unknown
    1. This is a natural reason and sometimes valid, but we must not forget that it is not going to be helpful
    2. One might see a growth or a mole somewhere on the body. The person is afraid to get it checked from the doctor for the fear that it may turn out to be cancerous. But will postponing or delaying going to help?
    3. This can happen due to half or lack of knowledge too! Somebody might tell you that cancer is hereditary; nobody has cancer in my family so why bother? Cancer is not curable hence the fear but there are some cancers which are curable if treated on time.
  4. A similar thing can happen in a relationship also. It could be in love, it could be with friends or the boss. There are some issues which need to be resolved, by delaying them, the issues are not going get resolved.
  5. I will do it later
    1. One always thinks, “Oh, I am little tired just now, let me do this task, two days late.”
    2. But it may so happen that after two days you really be tired and one will go in an endless loop
  6. Working on small tasks because they are easier
    1. This is pretty obvious
    2. Humans look for a path of least resistance
    3. We might look for small pending tasks to perform instead of the one which needs to be done.
    4. More the time and effort the task is going to take, the more the thoughts of procrastination will come in mind
  7. Lack of Motivation
    1. Lack of motivation has many reasons. But we need to check the priority of the task you are trying to do; and the effects of not doing it or delaying it
    2.  Fatigue
    3. Lack of confidence
    4. Negative surroundings
    5. Wrong environment
    6. Other priorities
  8. No clarity as to how to get started
    1. Sometimes problems are too complex so one gets confused
    2. Try and put things down on paper point by point
    3. See which are the points you are confident about
    4. Take help or guidance from someone for points which you think are tough
    5. Remind yourself that putting off things is not going to complete the task, in fact, the delay might lead to some more cascading problems
  9. You get distracted
    1. In modern times following distractions come in the way. According to the study, people spend 35/40% of the productive time on distractions
      1. Email
      2. Text Message
      3. Social Media
      4. Phone Meetings
      5. WhatsApp
      6. Others ……………
  10. The knowledge that task is hard work and will require efforts
    1. Working on a long project can be really difficult because of the amount of effort that it takes to finish. There are also opportunity costs along the way where you have to give up something you would rather be doing to get some work done on your project. This often leads people to lose their motivation and choose to set aside their projects for a later time.

There can be many reasons for postponing things that need to be done. One of the most important would be to judge the risk of postponing a particular task. If the risk analysis says that it should be done, then it needs to be done. In my first job after a few years of good work, my boss tried to make a contract with me which was unfair. I had to act immediately or I would have got stuck. I met a professional contact who was a big boss in another factory. He immediately offered me a job! I saw the risk of not acting quickly. When my voice tone changed suddenly five years back, I went by the guidance of my ENT surgeon and within a few weeks, my cancer was detected and successfully treated. The fear of the unknown would not have helped.

How to correct Procrastination issues?

How do we correct this problem of Procrastination? Experts say Change Your Outlook, Stop punishing yourself for procrastinating. Tackle your most important task for 15 minutes. Break tasks down into small chunks. Start your day with the hardest tasks. Give yourself a pep talk for motivation. Promise yourself that you’ll get a reward when it’s done.

I am going to give highlights of what can be done to overcome anxiety causing procrastination.

  1. Break your work in little steps
  2. Change your environment and be with positive people, have someone close for discussing things with
  3. Identify when you feel like procrastinating
  4. Talk to someone who has already achieved similar goals
  5. Don’t wait for the perfect time to do it. It may too late
  6. Share with someone what you want to achieve, it will help you to go ahead with the task.
  7. Just do it

There will be many ways to achieve the final goal besides what I have suggested. Similarly, there will be many more reasons to fall into this trap. But to me, point number 7, “JUST DO IT” is the real solution! So friends just do it!

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Misogyny!

The Supreme Court verdict has called out a discriminatory practice based on a sexual taboo — an unspoken endorsement of untouchability — and simultaneously challenged male primacy in the matter of worship.

Misogyny

 

Misogyny is the hatred of, contempt for, or prejudice against women or girls. Misogyny is manifest in numerous ways, including social exclusion, sex discrimination, hostility, androcentrism, patriarchy, male privilege, belittling of women, violence against women, and sexual objectification. Misogyny can be found within sacred texts of religions, mythologies. Why this thought process exists is very simple to judge. Nature has created humans as males and females; females have been given a very important job of giving birth to children. The science of childbearing and giving birth has made the male and female bodies differently, with women’s bodies between certain age are made ready to conceive. In the initial phase of history, the marriages took place even before the girl’s body was ready to conceive and both husband wife hardly knew anything about the birds and the bees.

Over a period, the so-called legal age for marriage went on increasing and now it is theoretically minimum 18 years for girls. The monthly cycles of women, created different thought process in the initial phase of history, but it seems not much has changed even today. The women are supposed to be impure in that phase of their monthly cycle. Many women have difficulty handling menstruation both physically and mentally. Handling this aspect on a practical basis was also very difficult, even 70 years back,  due to lack of knowledge and lack of proven clean methods to handle periods. This led to calling women impure, weak and what have you! Also, during pregnancy and childbirth, women needed to take it easy or sometimes rest, completely! This led to calling and looking at women as weak and inferior individuals. Probably if a male is made to give birth to a child, then he would know who is weak!

I read a news item in today’s Pune newspaper that in a crowded public place, a guy tried to misbehave with a woman. When he was caught and taken to the police station, he said, “Oh, I thought she was a whore!” This is purely a misogynist statement. This is our society’s behaviour with women! Reading the M J Akbar and Sabarimala stories, this is the type of reaction we are getting from men and some women too! These are so-called strong women who think women should have retaliated there and then instead of being crybabies and complaining years after the MeToo event took place.

Many are surprised with the way people from the advanced, highly educated  Kerala are behaving against the Supreme Court Verdict on Sabarimala, not allowing all ladies (including those of menstruating age between 10&50) to visit Ayyappa Mandir. Kerala is the most literate state in India with the literacy rate of 110% (it is jokingly said that 10% are monkeys from Kerala which are also literate!). Many including women have stopped the ladies from entering the Mandir. I am sure most of you are not aware of Kerala’s poor history in sticking to so-called traditions.

The Channar Lahala or Channar revolt, also called Maru Marakkal Samaram, refers to the fight from 1813 to 1859 of Nadar climber women in Travancore kingdom for the right to wear upper-body clothes to cover their breasts. I will not go into too many details but it was a tradition in those days of baring of the chest and shoulders in front of people of higher status and was considered a sign of respect, by both males and females. Only Nair community ladies were allowed to wear blouses but Nadar community, from so-called lower caste, were not allowed to wear them. Uneasy with social status, many Nadars embraced Christianity and started wearing long clothes. Nadar women later started wearing blouses, similar to Nair community. This led to Channar revolt which went on for 40 plus years though British rulers and Royalty from Travancore tried to force this issue.

We are all aware that the humans started with wearing loin cloth made from tree leaves. But the concepts of civil behaviour started evolving too. Wearing clothes was part of this evolution. The Kerala region has been way ahead of other parts of India in literacy and education, from the beginning. But religion and castes superseded the normal thought process in the brain of Keralites too, and the result was Channar Revolt! It was logical that Nadar women should have been allowed to wear blouses.

With this type of thought process, it is not surprising that in the whole of India Misogyny has been the common trait. The basic difference in Me Too and Sabarimala is that at the heart of the matter, is the question of the body. In Sabarimala Case, the celibate body of the lord counterpointed against the “impure” body of the menstruating woman. In Me Too, the sexually entitled body of the male (any male) over the sexually vulnerable and dis-empowered body of the female (any female).

Underlying both conditions is a deep-rooted misogyny, casual in Me Too and customary on the part of Sabarimala. Yet both are two sides of the same patriarchal coin, and both betray such a profound contempt for — or fear of — the female body that they have to either punish it by casting it out or control it by subjugating it.

What these two phenomena have done? Sabarimala has openly said, let us continue with a different kind of untouchability, to hell with the constitution. What MeToo has done is that it has brought out in open, what has been happening for a very long time and one of the dirtiest open secret; some people are already saying that it is an elitist movement but in India the elite and the maid servants are so close on a day to day basis, that this movement will also spread in non-elite strata, thanks to the elite ladies who are leading this revolution.

What MeToo in M J Akbar and other’s case, and the Supreme Court verdict on Sabarimala have done is to unshackle the troublesome business of female sexuality from patriarchal control. MeToo has called male sexual predators to account not simply by naming and shaming, but by refusing to succumb. By not ceding control over their bodies. By rejecting them and registering their revulsion. The Supreme Court verdict, similarly, has called out a discriminatory practice based on a sexual taboo — an unspoken endorsement of different untouchability — and simultaneously challenged male primacy in the matter of worship.

Friends, this sudden loss of power at the hands of women in one instance, and via a judgment on the other, has hit patriarchal privilege bandwagon in an unexpected — and unwelcome — ways. What causes resentment is that it is female sexuality, under patriarchal control all these years, that has upset the apple-cart. The fact that it cannot be used to justify discrimination/untouchability under a different garb, even in a place of worship. In future, it cannot be abused at will and with impunity. The fact that women will no longer fall in line, and or remain silent.

Misogynists of the world, be careful and warned in the future! The ladies brigade and the Indian constitution are now slowly waking up! As far as Kerala is concerned, Sabarimala is only one month and it is early days, compared 40 year plus war of Channar Lahala!

Don’t be anxious about anxiety!

Anxieties will be there, it is how we handle them is going to be the key!

Anxiety is your body’s natural response to stress. It’s a feeling of fear or apprehension about what’s to come. The first day of school, going to a job interview, or giving a speech may cause most people to feel fearful and nervous. There is a difference between anxiety and anxiety disorder. Getting anxious is natural in humans and getting anxiety disorder is also not uncommon. But mind you, the disorder is a disease whereas anxiety is a natural thing. Anxiety is a natural response of our mind to the situations we are in! In life, we do not have much control over a lot of things that are happening around you. In such conditions, we have apprehensions which get converted into anxiety. The chart below shows the difference between anxiety and anxiety disorder.

Anxiety-vs-Anxiety-Disorders-Infographic

What are the causes of anxiety disorder? Most of us can handle day to day anxieties regularly. In fact, some of us excel when under stress. Stress and anxiety have a correlation with each other. From sports field typical example is of Virat Kohli. His game blossoms when there is stress, like chasing a large score in a one-day match. He is one of those rare sportsmen who takes anxiety or stress in stride and in fact does better under such conditions. Let us not forget that all of us can do this but we need to train ourselves mentally and should be willing to take challenges!

In primitive ages, human life was always full of anxiety. Gathering food every day, looking for water every day (due to lack of big storage systems), gathering twigs for fire, saving oneself from natures vagaries. On top of that saving yourself from wild beasts, and the worst enemy was sickness or injury. Medical science was so primitive in those days, that getting well from sickness and injuries was a big anxiety! In today’s life, these basic things don’t cause anxiety but probably each era has its own anxieties. Now we can still have anxiety about health because some of us may not have money for treatment. Latest no. 1 anxiety point today is the temporary non-availability of internet connection or not having your cell phone near you! Anxieties will be there, it is how we handle them is going to be the key!

Our main endeavour should be to handle day to day anxiety and to know when we have an anxiety disorder and how to handle it.

In the case of an anxiety disorder, the feeling of fear may be with you all the time. It is intense and sometimes debilitating. This type of anxiety may cause you to stop doing things you enjoy. In extreme cases, it may prevent you from entering an elevator, crossing the street, or even leaving your home. If left untreated, the anxiety will keep getting worse. Anxiety disorders are the most common form of emotional disorder and can affect anyone at any age. According to the American Psychiatric Association, women are more likely than men to be diagnosed with an anxiety disorder.

What are the causes of anxiety disorder?

As with many mental health conditions, the cause of generalized anxiety disorder similarly arises from a complex interaction of biological and environmental factors, which may include:

  • Differences in brain chemistry and function
  • Genetics
  • Differences in the way threats are perceived
  • Development and personality

The treatment on anxiety disorder is  too vast a subject to be discussed here. So in brief anxiety disorders can be treated with medication, psychotherapy, or a combination of the two. Some people who have a mild anxiety disorder, or a fear of something they can easily avoid, decide to live with the condition and do not seek treatment.

It’s important to understand that anxiety disorders can be treated, even in severe cases. Although anxiety usually doesn’t go away, you can learn to manage it and live a happy, healthy life.

Day to day anxiety

This is already explained above, humans can find their own way of overcoming it and in fact, there are ways to handle this to our advantage. We need to understand what anxiety is.

Anxiety is a Body Signal

Anxiety is a signal sent by our body to our mind and brain. We need not like the experience of anxiety. In fact, our body generates this signal so that we will pay attention to the issue in hand so that we can stop that issue from getting out of hand. It is like a baby crying when the baby needs milk or needs a change of diaper. It is like a patient in the hospital ringing the bell for the nurse. Once we start looking for a solution and start working on it, the anxiety level starts reducing simultaneously.

Never let anxieties accumulate

Treat anxiety like a water storage and its management. Rainfall brings the water to the rivers and we build dams to store water which is later used after the rains stop. At the same time, we can use the stored water and send it to areas which don’t have sufficient rainfall, using canals. If the stored water in dams is not released on time, then the pressure will build up due to excess water, the dam can break. Stored up anxieties do exactly the same thing. We can collapse if our anxiety level crosses a limit, which again depends on the individual!

Put anxiety to good use

In cricket parlance, if a batsman is good then he can utilize the fast bowler’s speed to good use. If he connects the ball well in the right direction, the fielder will have no chance of stopping the hit, because the batsman has taken the advantage of bowler’s speed. Another thing anxiety does, is to release adrenaline in our body. When used well, adrenaline can help us to perform the same job even better and more efficiently.

Treat anxiety as your friend

If you treat anxiety as a friend, you will be able to focus better and will have more energy, even if you are tired. Anxiety keeps us on our toes and makes us a pay attention to issues on hand.

What are natural remedies for anxiety?

Lifestyle changes can be an effective way to relieve some of the stress and anxiety you may cope with every day. Most of the natural “remedies” consist of caring for your body, participating in healthy activities, and eliminating unhealthy ones.

These include:

  • getting enough sleep
  • meditating
  • staying active and exercising
  • eating a healthy diet
  • staying active and working out
  • avoiding alcohol
  • avoiding caffeine
  • quitting smoking cigarettes

I will share with you an anxiety story. My colleague, Deepti who was handling all technical aspects in my software business, has now been handling the India operations of a US based company since last 4 months. This was a major change in her life, as when we were colleagues the buck stopped with me. Now it stops with her! I am  sure she has gone through a major anxiety spell but I am also sure that she will manage to overcome these anxieties and handle the show confidently in future, once she starts accepting  these anxieties as day to day anxieties, and, this is important, with support from her family and friends! !

Friends, anxiety is a thing with which all of us live! Whether to make anxiety our friend or foe is in our hands! Cheers!

Human nature, a mystery!

Free as the wind
Tall as a tree
Wide as a mind
Deep as a sea

Human nature is a bundle of fundamental characteristics—including ways of thinking, feeling, and acting—which humans have in them, naturally. I have used a few lines from a Michael Jackson song, released in 1983, which appealed to me very much the way the lines tell us about the nature.

The question of whether there are truly fixed characteristics, what these natural characteristics are, and what causes them, are among the oldest and most important questions in philosophy and science. The science that examines human nature is psychology and more recently also neuroscience. These questions have particularly important implications in economics, ethics, politics, and theology. This is partly because human nature can be regarded as both a source of norms of conduct or ways of life, as well as presenting obstacles or constraints on living a good life.

How much do we know each other? It is a million-dollar question and I am not sure if we have an answer to this question. Let me assure you that this is not a rhetorical question. Yesterday, we had chat session, over a cup of coffee, with an old friend of ours. His wife has travelled to the US to help their daughter with the baby. He is from the same engineering college as Jaya and I went. He is a couple of years senior to me and we have done some professional work together.

We met, maybe, once a year or so, for a cup of tea, generally in my office; he would leave his home early to come to my office for updates and tea. We always had terrific interactions both professionally and personally. Jaya also knew him from college days as his sister was a year senior to her in school. Somehow in all these years, we had never met personally. I would always tell Jaya that he is a terrific person, with a lot of clarity on everything, a great sense of humour and the person to have as a friend! Yesterday’s chat reconfirmed all our views about him. We reluctantly ended our session, with a promise to meet regularly and asap!

When can we say that we know someone well? When we have a few meals together, or when we meet someone over a drink, once a while? Or when we meet someone over a cup of tea once in a while? In Hindi, someone may say, पहेचानता हूँ पर जानता नही हूँ ! This means I know of him but I don’t know him! Our friend told us a story. He said that a few years back, he and couple of his friends went for stag holiday out of Pune, for 2/3 days. On the first night, they chatted a lot, had a few drinks, and in general, enjoyed. By the time they felt sleepy, it was well past midnight. One of their friends insisted that the next day they all must go for a walk on the beach, early morning. Except for this person, others felt that they should laze around, instead. This friend was insisting so much that there was a minor disagreement. Ultimately only that person went to the beach. My friend said they all knew each other for 55 years plus, they were aware that this friend had a few strong views but on that day it was almost like “My way or the high way”! My friend said that though we knew each other for so many years, have met reasonably frequently but they came to know about this aspect of his personality only after they stayed together. Does it mean that you know someone only when you live together at least for a small duration?

I am sure one would start knowing someone well during life and death situation like war, or when you live together in hostels or dormitories. This living together for studies, doing small and big things together daily, borrowing small money for tea during month end money shortage, helping each other with studies, playing together and most importantly living together, brings that bond, a closeness which otherwise can never be there.

This brings me to another question. What forms your nature? What forms your persona? Is it in your genes? Is it in your DNA? When we say that something has come from genes or DNA what does it really mean? Children from the business community become business minded because from childhood they listen to various aspects of business being discussed at home. Children from doctor families tend to join medical courses because they always hear medical stories or discussions at home.

Consider this example. Two siblings one a lady and the other a man, not much of age difference. Born and brought up in an orthodox modern family. Their path in life has been, outwardly, exactly the same. High intelligence,high IQ, same education engineering plus post-graduation in management, started as trainees, reached the top of their respective organizations, extensively travelled, with long stays abroad for various professional reasons! The lady is a leader with excellent management skills, equally involved in family life, excellent human relationships! The gentleman obviously a good professional but as human being very difficult to deal with, sometimes too aggressive in personal things too! What has made that change mentioned in the last sentence? Only thing I visualize is the vast difference in EQ or Emotional Quotient! Do you pick up EQ on your way? Similarly you can pick up Empathy on the way! In simple language, the lady has become a cosmopolitan and the man has never reached there, missed his bus! The man missed out on picking up stuff from EQ & Empathy shops!

Considering complexities of human nature, I am just going to comment on a couple of important characteristics of humans as there are are too many to discuss!

What is the difference in introverts and extroverts?

One major difference between the brains of introverts and extroverts is the way they respond to the neurotransmitter dopamine. Dopamine is a chemical released in the brain that provides the motivation to seek external rewards like earning money, climbing the social ladder, attracting a mate, or getting selected for a high-profile project at work. When dopamine floods the brain, both introverts and extroverts become more talkative, alert to their surroundings, and motivated to take risks and explore the environment. But this dopamine is higher, in general, in extroverts!

Why people become aggressive?

There are many psychologists who believe that our aggression is mostly due to a biological input such as hormones, genes or our amygdala. Experts feel that our aggression is more nature than nurture, suggests that aggression can be found in the structure of the limbic system of our brain and this is where the amygdala can be found. The Amygdala controls one’s ability to perceive emotions towards others. This idea first started as it is believed the amygdala triggers our aggression. There is the other side of the argument, in which people believe that our aggression is a learned behaviour due to our experiences and the people around us. Jury is still out why we are aggressive?

Friends, the concept of human nature is traditionally contrasted not only with unusual human characteristics, but also with characteristics which are derived from specific cultures, and upbringings. The “nature versus nurture” debate is a discussion about human nature in the natural science that will always go on. The type of human nature I prefer is expressed the lines below, which are also from the same song by Michael Jackson.

And do just what comes natural
The first thing on your mind
Do just what comes natural
I prefer your kind of human nature

Only problem is that the natural in some people is not good enough to make you a good person in the society where we live!