Carpe Diem- Seize the Moment!

CarpeDiem2

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. Different thoughts are 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 in 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, and 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!

CarpeDiem1

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 writing! Either it can be used constructively or destructively. In today’s world, the term gets misused in the 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 finalise 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 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 realised 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. This philosophy 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 84was 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 the open for their rights!

As the modern generation says, YOLO! Yes, you only live once, so make the best use of the opportunities, make the 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!

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!

This song is the best song rendered by Mahendra Kapoor, who was known as Mohammad Rafi clone, till then. (I had 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. A unique 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 indeed 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 songs; many of his songs are refreshing to hear for their expression of biting political satire, heartfelt grief, or outspoken anger.

In this song, the two lovers are caught in the social situation which prevents them from fulfilling their romantic desires and living life together. It is supposedly his real-life situation where he and poet 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 jaayen ham donon 

Come let us become strangers again!

na main tumse koii ummiid rakhuun 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 stop 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 it 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 when that love is broken, are highly emotional. It is entirely 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 main tumse koii ummiid rakhuun 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 nazaron se 

Nor shall you gaze at me with your deceptive glances. 

na mere dil ki dhaDkan laDkhaDaaye merii baaton men 

My heart shall no longer tremble when I speak,  

Poet suggests to his lover that the misleading 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 nazaron 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 the 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 can find apt expressions and perfectly fitting words. The word Ajanabii 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 brought out the word Ajanabii from the depth of his heart?

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 wants to take an unexpected turn on the road which will never bring him back to his lover. Is it as simple as making a U-turn? khuubsuurat mod to me is a metaphor where he 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 films. Sahir won Filmfare Award for Best Lyricist for Taj Mahal (1963). He earned 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!

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.

Procra4

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.

This slideshow requires JavaScript.

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!

Procra5

Misogyny!

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!

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!

Mahabharata, real-life guide!

DassaraMy friend Sudhakar and I appear to have some telepathy connection! I just started writing this blog about Mahabharata and at the same time he shared the above painting on our friends’  WA group! I am assuming that this painting is a gift to me; hence I have borrowed the painting as a perfect fit for the blog!

I had read Mahabharata while in school, then maybe I saw a few episodes on the famous serial in 90’s on TV. Later on, when I started reading about it at random, I realized that all the stories, all narrations are our real-life stories! I am not going to write about Mahabharata as scholarly treaties as I am a common man and trying to understand its meaning. While I was reading Mahabharata, I felt that it is written as a Metaphor and the idea is to explain to common people, tough and a dry subject in the manner to make it interesting.

I will be jumping from some references from Gita and some from Mahabharat. I feel that Vyasa told the stories as a dialogue between Krishna and Arjuna, the war was described by Sanjaya to Dhritarashtra; Sanjaya could telepathically witness the war, as if by “live streaming”. These are typical good versus bad stories; these are Metaphors teaching us about of life. What I have observed is that we accept some of the stories as Gospel and modify others suitably. Some of the concepts we simply dump. It appears that Vyasa was a storyteller par excellence! Had these concepts been told only as poetry or prose, maybe it would not have become so famous, it would not have reached the general public. Upanishads are not read by the general public but by scholars and experts because of this reason.

In Hinduism, we say “Ahimsa Paramo Dharma!” With this background how could Krishna tell Arjuna to bear his arms and kill his own family and gurus! But the actual verse is a two-line verse.

Ahimsa paramo dharma

Dharma himsa tathaiva cha

Means

Nonviolence is the ultimate Dharma

So, too, is violence in service of the Dharma

This means that to preserve dharma (righteousness), to eradicate adharma, a person can resort to violence if non-violent methods fail. Krishna tried his best to avoid a war. But Duryodhana wanted a war so that he could kill all of the Pandavas, thus the war became unavoidable. Arjuna is a Kshatriya (Warrior) and it would be impossible for him to run away from his karmic debt and become and an ascetic. If he ran away from this war, he would have been forced to run away to the Himalayas and fight a war for food and shelter and even for his women.

Arjuna, the main character in Mahabharata is the best fighter in the world. The world in those days started and ended with Bharat Khand. Obviously, people in those times did not have knowledge about the existence of the world beyond, not that there much happening beyond. Arjuna should replace the modern world word, Casanova. Whenever he travelled alone for a duration, he would marry some Rajkanya or the other. It is very interesting that after the marriage and pregnancy (it was always predicted to be a boy!) he would tell his latest bride that he has a mission to complete; now she live with their  Putra and his memories. Surprisingly those were the accepted norms, in those days! There were some interesting episodes too! Once he had broken a vow of not disturbing, any brother who was in privacy with Draupadi. He took one-year vanavas as a punishment. Dharmaraja was with Draupadi at that time. He tried to convince Arjuna that he had broken the vow because of some urgent work. But Arjuna stuck to his words. Arjuna met beautiful Chitrangada near the Ganga river and both fell in love with each other. Chitrangada asked him to marry her. But Arjuna convinced her that since he was in penance and celibacy, he could not marry her. Chitrangada was smarter and more convincing. She argued that his penance and celibacy was about Draupadi so he could always marry her! Wow, she would have the top leading lawyer at the Supreme Court today! So another son for Arjuna and left behind wife later….

I feel that the Mahabharata war was not a war of relatives or relatives killing of relatives. Instead, it is a symbolic war between good and bad, right or wrong which happens within us all the time. The actors are symbols of various things in life. Arjuna symbolizes individual or the immortal soul within the body, Lord Krishna symbolizes the God, Kurukshetra is the field of action or our day to day life, five white horses of Arjuna’s chariot symbolize the five senses, Pandavas are positive spirits and Kauravas are negative destructive thoughts.

To me, Bhagwad Gita and Mahabharata merge into each other at the same time they remain separate entities. As we know that Bhagwad Gita was the conversation between Krishna and Arjuna, when Arjuna gets depressed when he sees his grandfather, his guru, his relatives with whom he has to fight. This war shows the conflicting view of how the deceptions and tricks were used during the war. But for most of the times, it was fought in a just manner.

On the 18th day of the war Drushtadyumna, Shikhandi and many other warriors were killed by Ashwathama while they were sleeping at night. This was generally not done during the war in those days. Was Ashwathama’s attack vengeance or trickery? There is a story that all Upapandavas (Pandvasa five sons from Draupadi) were also killed on that night. What is the significance of that story? Why the rules were suddenly broken on that day? As I have said earlier, the war and the whole Mahabharata, depict our day to day lives where we are generally honest but suitably cheat! This is human nature.

I will share one interesting episode from this saga. Krishna was the strategist and advisor par excellence. Before the war he had given his Yadav army to Kauravas and stayed as the advisor or maybe the right word is a schemer, to Pandavas. He is shown as a cunning personality. In Arjuna’s battle with Jayadrath, he helps Arjuna to achieve his goal by cunning. Arjuna had vowed to kill Jayadrath on a day to avenge the death of Abhimanyu; failing which he would commit suicide! Dronacharya and Kauravas tried  their best to hide Jayadrath. Suddenly the sky darkens and it is almost sunset. It was supposedly done by Krishna by hiding the Sun behind his Sudarshan Chakra. In one version, the Sun appears to be set because of the eclipse and came out when the eclipse was over! When Jayadrath comes out to see Arjuna’s imminent death, suddenly the Sun becomes bright. Krishna tells Arjuna to kill him. He also tells Arjuna to ensure that Jayadrath’s head falls in his father’s lap. Jayadrath’s father being a sage had given him a boon that whoever was responsible to make Jayadrath’s head fall on the ground will die instantaneously, with his head broken. The father gets up when the head falls in his lap and the head falls down on the ground, the father dies instantly. Thus, Krishna avoids sure death of Arjuna due to the boon. Narration shows that Krishna was the schemer and had terrific knowledge. Till he had shown Arjuna that he was an avatar of the god, even Arjuna thought Krishna was a human and a good friend. To me it becomes tricky to understand if Krishna’s knowledge was because he was God or he had acquired the same as a human being?

You may have a question why Pramod is delving in this subject of Mahabharata and Bhagwad Gita? My maturity is helping me to understand the real meaning of life, real life, warts and all! I found the stories fascinating. The stories and sequences are absolutely real life. We can relate to them as if something we have heard, observed, maybe went through in real life. Some of the points become complex, some disputable and some outright mended to create interesting stuff. I am sure that all storytellers and especially those in Bollywood treat these as Gospel (Gita is Hindu Gospel anyway!) They give further twists and turns and create a highly marketable products! Maybe you will get some more from me on the subject in future too!

Medical illiteracy!

Us non-medical people are known for their Medical illiteracy! But my recent experience tells me that people from the medical field are also not far from us, when some event, which does not happen on day to day basis, occurs. At least Jaya and I have a curiosity bug so whenever someone known to us has a health event, which we don’t know much about, we go to Google baba and ask him questions, I think sometimes he gets fed up of our questioning!

Health literacy is the degree to which individuals have the capacity to obtain, process, and understand basic health information and services needed to make appropriate health decisions. Health literacy is dependent on individual and  communication skills of lay persons and professionals. 

I was detected with vocal cord carcinoma five years back, I avoid using word cancer, as carcinoma sounds fancier! I was hardly aware of the treatment. The only words I knew were radiations and chemotherapy! Sachin, Priya (She is a doctor)and Jaya took up the googling part and I opted to face radiations! I thought at that time, that one or two radiations are given to attack and hopefully beat the cancer back. Then maybe a few chemo tablets, and I would be done! But that is not how it was done. For my carcinoma, Immunotherapy was a better treatment in place of Chemo. There were 34 radiations! I simply did not know anything about cancer treatment. Ok, I will share with you the knowledge I picked up. 1 or 2 radiations are given as a palliative treatment when the patient is in real pain. But in that case, it is not THE treatment. When the possibility of a patient getting cured is good, 20/30/40 radiations are given depending on factors too complex for me to understand. Various improved therapies are given as newer ones are made available to mankind. Chemo remains cost effective, as it is a well proven old therapy.

Recently, a friend called me to seek an appointment with a neuro physician from my family. His 40-year daughter had difficulty in walking. Our common orthopaedic surgeon friend suggested taking advise of a neuro physician. They took the treatment and the lady is advised a certain injection to be taken, life-long! This lady had finally reached a doctor, five years late. The story does not end here. My friend while talking with the doctor said that he also has diabetes which is well under control. But he also said that he was required to perform dialysis twice a week, most of his teeth are damaged due to diabetes. What is the meaning of controlled diabetes? Do these people give such a low importance to their health? How can they not know about the illness they have after what they go through? Do they not want to accept it? How could my friend say that he has controlled diabetes?

I have chatted with a few friends, who are doctors. The various reasons for the apathy shown have come out. Mainly its human nature to avoid facing facts! If I do my yearly check-up and find that there is an issue, instead, why not delay it by a few months. Some are like butterflies, who go from one doctor to another and keep on going. This they do till they get an advise which is close to their expectation. I know of someone who went to ten different doctors for his cartilage problem. Nine said that surgery is needed, one said let us try medicines and physiotherapy. When asked, he claims that he is doing good, but cannot ride his big bike, his leg pains. Cannot drive a non-automatic car as he is in pain if he is required to operate the clutch pedal.

Then there are some patients, who have monetary difficulties, which is understandable. Some have a marriage in the family so will get themselves operated after the marriage, acceptable. But some will postpone their blood sugar checking, want to do it after they come back from their dream holiday! Reason? If sugar values are bad then they can’t binge on their holidays. A friend is doing Dixit diet, recent “In Thing”, making rounds on WhatsApp! It’s a good program suggested by a medical doctor, with a rider. Take it up under your doctor’s advice. This friend binged on ice creams and sodas and chocolates for a couple of months. On checking, for sugar value found them alarming; in normal course too, he is a dibetic. A month after starting this diet, his sugar values miraculously improved, they still showed that he has diabetes. He is claiming that due to this diet, there was a terrific improvement. The simple fact was that since he binged his values were bad and when he stopped those sweet things his values improved!

Now here is a very interesting story. Here both husband and wife are doctors. The lady is having some symptoms for 15 days. Initially, her husband says, oh you are getting old now. So, to prove him wrong, she would try and show that things are normal. After a few days, her husband says, “See, I was telling you, show positive intent and you will be all right.” She calls Jaya (they are friends) and shares her health issues. Jaya suggested that she should see a specialist. Four more days are wasted in this. Finally, she goes to see the specialist! Both were somehow bent on following their physician’s advice, rather than meeting a specialist. The husband drops her at the clinic and goes for some “important work”; to him she is just making a fuss. The specialist checks her, does some tests. The doctor diagnoses a major health issue and insists that she should immediately get hospitalized. Our friend says, “Is it ok if I get hospitalized later in the evening after my husband comes back?” Specialist insists and gets her hospitalized. She said that 15 days back when the first symptoms were felt, there was a possibility that a major event had started in her body. Fortunately, it has not culminated in a catastrophe. We need to arrest this event as early as possible.

With both being doctors they are expected to have better knowledge. Why they did not want to meet the specialist? In the best case scenario, the result would be a false alarm. But life is never simple. The catastrophe did not happen but her body was hurtling in that direction. How do you analyze this event? What could have led this couple, especially the husband with a casual approach? Even after treatment had started, he did not meet the specialist for two days, to ask details. One day we went to meet her. In the same hospital, we met a common friend, also a doctor! Our friend still does not want to accept the diagnosis, it seems. He told the common friend, “My wife is having suspected xxx!”

Another case was a person who had some uneasiness, he could not use his left hand to get his two-wheeler down from the stand. His left eye looked to be drooping. After a couple of days, he took a decision to see an eye specialist! He explained the details but the doctor felt that eyesight  was ok; the beauty was that the eye doctor also did not realize that something different was happening. To cut the story short he was forced to see the correct specialist. The specialist on checking said that a major event could be happening in his body. He was rushed to the hospital and in a couple of days, he underwent brain surgery; he was fast going towards stroke. In a couple of months more, he needed to undergo triple heart bypass surgery. Ok, I understand that a commoner may not understand that he was going to have brain stroke. But when left eye and left hand were having a problem, he should have gone to a physician at least! Though finally, it was a neuro physician who diagnosed the issue. When the body is near such a catastrophe, I am sure there is a strong signal from the body that something is seriously wrong! But people just seem to miss it!

How to make people aware of such things? How to train them to look for body signals? My worry is if trained doctors can misjudge the situation so badly, non-doctors are obviously going find it difficult. Body or mind has the natural instinct of fight or flight. Why such instincts do not come into act in situations mentioned?

Friends, I strongly urge all of you to be safe rather being sorry! Don’t go by statement that doctors always squeeze you! They only work for money these days. Don’t keep on doctor hopping. Go back to GP concept. Keep on going to the same physician regularly. He or she will always give you the right pointers as they know about your health conditions the best. And don’t avoid or postpone that yearly check-up. Its for us!

Will Empire strike back?

Me Too

 

Empire Strikes back was a 1980 sci-fi movie which was a big hit! In the movie, an existing strong entity pulls up its socks, reorganizes and strikes back at the conquerors! We have a history of Patriarchal society where male domination has been the norm. “Me Too” has already threatened this dominance and maybe the women are becoming conquerors.

In Mahabharata, there is the classic episode of Draupadi Vastraharan, disrobing of Draupadi by Kauravas after Yudhishthir lost the game of dice, in which he had staked Draupadi! It’s a complex story, many things that were done and not done, said or remained unsaid, were justified by traditions, dharma and beliefs of those times. To me, all these stories and situations are Metaphors which imply a subtle meaning which is explained as a story. The worst of the incident is that Karna called Draupadi a whore. In those times, a man could have more than one wife but a woman could not have more than one husband. Has this changed in 2018? Draupadi was the epitome of a strong woman. While she was being dragged to the hall, Karna told Vikarna, the only person opposing this act, that the whore has no rights, she can be dragged in the hall even if she is naked! That is what the Dharma of those days said. When she was finally dragged by Dushasana, she was going for a bath and had a skimpy cloth around her body. Her period had started and the cloth was slightly smeared with blood. She resisted but did not cry. Krishna provided her with the supply of unlimited saris; this is explained as a miracle. Do you understand what I am trying to say? It took a miracle to save a strong woman like Draupadi! Why am I going into so many details? The subject of Me Too is not going away from my mind. I am very much agitated hence I am writing one more blog on the same subject within the last 4/5 days!

Many males and a few females have said nasty things about the affected women from “Me Too”. Why did they not slap the male? Why were they afraid? Does this mean that the ladies wanted to offer their bodies? Come on friends, in this world how many strong persons are there? Both male and female? A very small percentage has strong character. We have prostitutes and slaves for thousands of years. Slaves were both male and female. Nobody loves to live as a slave. But their weakness pushes them into this life. Our societies psyche has become such that males are always allowed to dominate females. I agree that if Draupadi were meek then Mahabharata would not have happened! She is the one who first resisted Kauravas, verbally and morally. Krishna did the rest! On the other side in the Nirbhaya case, even though the lady wanted to fight back, her boyfriend was with her; but males involved were so brutal and inhuman that they did what they did right in the middle of our capital city Delhi! That is the male Empire I am talking about! This empire theory is so much ingrained in us that we assume that it is the right of Males to do what they want, the way they want!

A commentator, Vinita Nangia said in her article on the subject, “Me Too” is breakpoint that women badly needed! To me, Point of Inflexion is a term which also fits perfectly. The point of inflexion or the Ecological threshold is the point at which a relatively small change or disturbance in external conditions, causes a rapid change in an ecosystem.  Crossing an ecological threshold often leads to a rapid change of ecosystem equilibrium. The small change or disturbance is that, a few ladies have started a movement of coming out openly to tell the world, how they were asked for sexual favours against the jobs they were trying to perform. This has started in a small way but is expected to create a typhoon over a period as many women are expected to openly talk about their difficulties. Now that the “Me Too” movement has started in a small way and it will grow in slowly and there will be no going back!

My main point of discussion is, will the “Male Empire strike back”? If so, how will they do it? After trying to do what they want, where they want and when they want, has been  going on from Draupadi’s time! Men are not going to give up so easily, their “benefits”. Will there be a thought process not to employ women, if the job description requires them to travel with males? This cyclone or this war is going to be messy, to say the least. In this war, some innocents will get hit on both sides. It may hit both guilty and not guilty! Don’t forget that in every new incident that comes in open, there are at least two families that are also going to get hurt badly! In management term or real battle terms, it has got a fancy name, Collateral Damage!

My point is that there have been flirtations, there have been illicit affairs. These must be differentiated from predatory acts. In the workplace, men’s libido comes in the way of right and just things. How will “Me Too” help? Will it make men understand that when a woman says no, it means NO! Women also have to be careful that their actions are going to hurt someone, it can ruin somebody’s career, it can ruin their family life! Ladies should clearly differentiate between breakup of illicit affair and predatory attack. Converting breakup in affair into a “Me Too” event will give set back to this revolution! This is not a battle but it is a protest, an uprising! I am not sure if current laws are good enough to make discretion between flirtations/illicit affairs and predatory attack!

Why am I asking the rhetorical question, Will Empire Strike Back? It is simply because as per my understanding, this phenomenon is city based; I shudder to think of what is still happening in smaller places and villages. If parents can kill their daughters for family honour, who is going to bother about predatory pouching? In small towns and villages, we hear of ladies being stripped and paraded in villages, on some minor issues. So, if we are under an impression that the Empire will be weakened, then we are under a great misconception. In future too, the boys and girls will keep on migrating to cities from villages and towns! There will be non-stop supply “cultured” males and girls who “expect” predatory behaviour from men, because that is what they have seen all their lives! These poor girls are then easy prey to city-bred chauvinist males! What you want is free sex; sophistication will not be a pre-condition! It has been our tradition right from Draupadi’s times, is it not!

Mythology has  been the base of our traditions which we follow as if its a gospel. When Arjuna “won” Draupadi in Swayamwara, all five brothers came home with Draupadi. Kunti thought that they have come back  with the alms that they used to collect everyday. She said, “Share the alms, all five of you!” Kunti’s words became the God’s truth and lo, the brothers decided to “share” Draupadi! After all she was just a thing, just an item, she was a woman! Even Kunti, a woman, also did not feel that she should take her words back! How can you go against your mothers words? After all Kunti had been the harbinger of non traditional things in the family! She had given birth to Karna before marriage!

I fear that unless “Me Too” spreads to small places and villages, the situation is not going to change as much as we think it will! After all, no woman openly talks about forced sex (which may not amount to rape), their periods and such things. City-bred, confident girls with family support will do it! Empire need not strike back, it has sown the seeds of suppressing women, thousands of years back. Now the “real fruits” have become low hanging fruits for them. They will simply become discreet and will learn techniques to know which girl is going to keep her mouth shut, for ever!