Thursday, June 07, 2018

A Mixer Jar’s story



I am new here today. The family is excited to run the Mixer for the first time. I am the eldest of the three jars. I am taller, my blades are broader but not as sharp and I can hold about 1.5 litres of stuff. I have a handle and a lid and South Indian households typically use me to make vegetable soups, batters of various  kinds for their dosa and many spice blends for their half a dozen varieties of sambhar.

I am sparkling clean and have this squeaky shine on me today. I am generally very happy and designed to be useful.

Here, the lady opens the lid and puts in about a kilo of some pulse mix in. Closes the lid as quickly and turns the mixer knob to full speed. My blades do the job of the grind and before I can even begin to understand what was the spice mix I just spent time grinding, she puts a spoon inside and ruffles the mix a bit. Another churn and I guess she is happy that the mix came out to her expectation. There seems to be a contented look on her face. Looks like it is Sambhar mix, as she immediately put a heap of it into whatever was cooking on the stove top.

She seems busy, so my lid is back on my head and I am left to sit in a corner of the kitchen table watching the scene of the house.

I see this woman walking in and out of the kitchen, and could hear the little children’s hustle and bustle , a distant bus horn and a noisy morning traffic too. Suddenly it all came to a sudden stop. I went off to sleep too.

I have been thinking about a quick wash after the sambhar powder business, but it didn’t happen. 
In the evening or probably around the time when I heard the vessels being washed in the kitchen, I was hoping that I would also be taken off for a quick wash. Another lady, quite a machine at her business of cleaning, picked me up gently and placed it in another corner of the kitchen table. I waited and waited and waited.

It was dusk I guess. I could hear the kids again. The lady of the house was busy walking in and out of the kitchen. She picked me up twice I recall, only to place me in a different pedestal. Wonder why these South Indian homes are always so busy making food!!!

Suddenly, the lights went out and I looked around to see that the little patch of sky that I could see from the window pane had turned dark too. Which can only mean it was night and that I am not getting the most needed wash today!.

I decided to sleep it off.

In the morning or I assume it was, because the sky patch was still dark and the lady of the house was already in the kitchen. She must be having an early start, I guessed. Otherwise why would she work like a night owl in the kitchen at eerie hours!!. It should be the wee hours of morning! She was not making too much noise, so I thought I could just sleep a little longer.

Suddenly I saw my lid being opened and the contents checked.  By the way, I forgot that somewhere during the mid-day yesterday, someone came by and emptied my jar and left me back in the same place!! and this lady had no clue too.

This lady was kind enough to ensure that I got a wash today. She put me in the kitchen sink with the other utensil friends of mine, so I got a few minutes of networking time!. The maid came by and washed me clean and I feel quite fresh now.

What is funny in the whole episode is that, people thought there was something inside my jar and kept moving it places on the kitchen table but no one ever bothered opening to check. When I was emptied, I wished that I could get a wash but was put aside too, only to be moved further by others in the house thinking I had something in!!!.

It seems a practice in this house to keep the kitchen utensils colander outside for some sunshine!. It feels good too!

"Good morning, Merry Sunshine!!! I sang”

Just like the Mixer jar being moved from one place to another assuming there was something in it, we all misunderstand/assume things about ourselves and people. We keep moving the thoughts, brushing aside the concerns, repositioning the emotions, dragging the problems, postponing the confrontations, and avoiding the realities.

It takes an effort to open the lids to the people’s mind ( mixer jar ) with their willingness, but it is definitely worth your time. Sometimes, all it takes to feel good is emptying of the mind’s contents, a good rejuvenating scrub of the mind with new perspectives, thoughts, healing touch/talk/words and few introspecting moments that can bring out the shine in our minds. 

Is your mixer jar clean and empty to churn again? Think about it!

Friday, June 01, 2018

Outstanding Grade - A Quick Counseling


On a conversation with a friend, I got to know that the Class 10 results are out and a common friend’s daughter was upset because she scored just a 95%. Apparently, she expected to top the class and missed it by 2%.

Yes, 2% is lot in Indian schools. A hundred people may have scored over-and-above your score. 

With three cheers to this obsessive compulsive disorder of worrying about scores ( I have once been there too!, I must confess.. in June 1996).

I am writing the following list of thoughts that flash in my mind:
  • Ask the value of a nanosecond to a Olympic runner. What matters is being the winner. The fact that someone ran faster in the race by 30 seconds, is a big 'Lost or Won’, number!!
  • Between 11:59 P.M and 12:01 A.M is just two minutes on the clock but two different dates, which means a lot when it comes to an admission in an extra-ordinary pre-school that admits kids born on or before 31st July, and your tiny tot was born on 12:01 A.M on 1st August!!! One year delay is too much and means ‘In or Out’ of the admission list for the school year.
  • Old Uncle around the corner of the street got delayed by five minutes in traffic on the way to hospital, and died just the minute his stretcher was taken through the Emergency Door!! Five minutes means 'Life or Death’ sometimes!!
Coming to think of these common place incidents (Yes, they are common place incidents and there may be many more such incidents that you can think of too!!!).

Are these really the fault of anyone??

  • Did the Olympic runner aim to lose by 30 seconds? 
  • Did the baby decide to come out at the transitioning hour of the calendar??
  • Did the old Uncle die just because of the traffic?

The answer to all of these questions is 'NO'.

The reason for these incidents is simply “It happened because it was meant to be that way!!

Now, let’s do a retake:
  • It is grand to have got a chance to run an Olympic race. A lot of people do not even cross the finish line in the school running race.
  • It is a blessing to have given birth to a baby. A lot of people are awaiting the blessing, even as we read this text.
  • It was good that people could do their bit to get an ambulance for the old Uncle. What if old Uncle had died in his sleep?

Just like these incidents, the most common place happenstance of an academic examination should be evaluated at its ‘face value’ which is just as an incident that happens in one’s life. 

The candidate scored 95% is a fact. There is no other significance attached to this number as far as the admission into Class 11 in school or Pre-University College matters, as it IS a score given by the evaluators.

Is it the child’s fault to have missed out on the 2%??? Definitely Not.

The reason for this incident is simply “It happened because it was meant to be that way!!

Now, let’s do a retake:

That she was able to study well, was able to write well, was able to score well matters!! There are people who do not clear the paper in spite of having done it well. There are others who are not even fortunate to write the exam for a hundred reasons!


Dear Child, Parent, and Teacher,

A 95% is an Outstanding score.

Class 10 board exams is a milestone which every school student has to cross. Sincere Effort (Hard work, Smart work), Sound Mind in a Sound Body, and Best Intent are the three things the parents and school have to instill in the children.

Can we get the parents and children and teachers to understand that scoring Rank 1 may mean ‘OUTSTANDING’ in some sense, but does not necessarily mean an ‘OUTSTANDING’ performer in Life?!!!!

It is just really okay to shrug off a class 10 exam score, if the basic responsibilities have been taken care of by the child/parent/teacher: Effort, Health and Intention

All parameters of the day (Sleep, Hunger, Fear, Stress,Score Anxiety, Peer Pressure, Health, Parents, Teachers, Home) define what a child can possibly write on the answer paper. Score is a MERE number that rates what is being written in the paper on a set date

Score is a number that does not :
  • say anything about the intelligence of the student
  • measure the teacher’s skill to teach
  • evaluate the mental health quotient of the student,parent and teacher
  • consider the hunger and sleep of the student, parent and teacher
  • rate the stress that the exam itself may have caused to the clan - student, teacher, parent
  • care about the student’s interest in the subject

And let’s stop giving too much hype to this little snippet of life (Class tenth board exams) that happens in most students' life.

After all, life is more than a school board exam! Life in itself is a bigger exam that needs a lot of your love and understanding showered on your children, giving them reassurance that ‘Its going to be okay’!. How many times you may have to say this to your child, is a number you may not even be able to keep a count of!!! But, yes, that is the real scoring sentence which will help your child live an ‘OUTSTANDING’ life.

If this read does not sound convincing, it is high time we sought the help of counseling services and counselors who will help us come out of the obsession on examination scores, thereby helping the:
- parents to avert stress
- children to retain their sanity  
- teachers to keep up their passion for teaching.

Seriously, think about it, dear parents!! 

Wednesday, May 23, 2018

Mini Mind Theatre: Movie - Just in time

On a casual conversation today, I mentioned to a friend:
"It is like am watching a thriller movie, all scary, and the movie is starring me!!!”

Coming to think of it, it's nice to imagine ourselves sitting alone in a movie theatre, munching popcorn or chips and watching our own situations being screened as a movie.

I think it may be interesting in many ways:
  • There is no prior review of the movie that you can read, as it is your life and running live. You are the only spectator.
  • There is no need to get stressed, as it is just a movie and you are free to emote based on the story, and still be assured it is not happening in the ‘Now’.
  • You can clearly see the responses and reactions of the actors in the story because you are sitting in the audience side and can understand what is working well and what does not.
  • You can be your own critic.
  • The movie will not fetch money, so in essence it is just done as an expressive artwork just for your eyes. The movie does not have to please anyone else except yourself.
  • You do not know the story and hence it is an interesting watch.
  • You hang on to the edge of the seat and want to know how your character is story-boarded in the movie. It is just unbelievable what all you can do in the wake of circumstances. Truly amazing you are!
  • You can read your own facial expressions and see how skewed it can look to the others under various moods.
  • It is interesting to see that so many people like you, hate you, adore you, admire you, love you, trust you, want you and believe you.
  • It is the only movie that is being screened just for you in your mind and so unlike the rest of the real-life cinema.

I think it is a nice step-back trick that we could all use in our every day life to take a quick break from wherever we are in our minds. 

Think about this situation: 

You are stuck in traffic. You are angry because of the unreasonable delay to meet your appointment. You look around dismayed because there is no alternate way to wade through the traffic, except to wait. You feel helpless and hence are upset.

Now, imagine the same scene playing on the movie screen (you are the hero, remember)

Mini Mind Theatre: 
Movie: Just in time, starring YOU. 
Rated A/U/R 
Genre: All categories

You are watching the show all by yourself with the popcorn or chips to munch. You can add a cool drink or coffee per your choice, to make it an interesting watch!
  • Do you see the pointlessness in your hero’s temper?
  • Do you like the facial expression?
  • Did the other drivers react the same way too?
  • Do you see that the traffic is a problem that is worth so much stress?
  • Did you notice the road-block that caused the traffic?
  • Did you see the beautiful flower on the tree lining the road?
  • Did you know that the new toy shop you read about in the news was right there where you are held up?
  • Do you see that the bike needs a quick shine?
  • Did you see that the truck driver behind is trying to hit your hero’s bike and the accident got averted in a quick stroke of luck?

Do you see how much you notice about the same situation by just being an audience to your own storyline??

Goes to say: 

Take a break. It is your life, agreed. Exactly why, watching the play of your own life story matters. 

In the face of extraordinary situations in life, it is best to quickly decor up the mind theatre( including the seating, foot light, screen cover and the Exit/Entry signposts), and start watching the present shot before acting, reacting, or responding to the storyboard, which the situation presents to you.
You are only playing your role in the whole play. Give your best attempt to do it well. To do that, you must take a step back and be a spectator to the situation/scene in your life, every once in a while.

All the world’s a Stage - William Shakespeare. 





Monday, May 21, 2018

Splash on Forgetfulness

There came an unusual blog request today where the sender apparently has forgotten the topic he was about to suggest for my post. 

The mail said: I forgot the topic :)

Here's my quick attempt at what I saw as an interesting topic:

  • What you forget, can usually wait.
  • To forget is a blessing, especially the thoughts of an unpleasant past.
  • Forgetting an ‘Exchange of courtesy' and Forgetting ‘Respect' are not acceptable.
  • When you forget something, it only means something else is taking up a lot of mind space at the moment. You must excavate it out, to remember the new priorities and good old memories.
  • When we completely forget people, places, happenings, feelings, respect, courtesy, and self, it is called dementia. 
  • It is important to forget the past unpleasantness to serve a better present and work for a greater future.
  • Forgetfulness is the greatest plus point without which our mind cannot process life's road ahead.
  • You won’t die of forgetfulness unless you cut an apple and shove the knife into your throat instead of the apple slice.
  • To forget happenstances is to let go. 
  • To forget brooding about unhappy facts is to just let it be and take the next step.
  • To forget misunderstandings and hurt, is to forgive. 
  • To forget love for people is sad.
  • To forget a friend is a stroke of bad luck.
  • Forget the mistakes. Remember not to repeat them.
  • Forget. Sometimes consciously.
  • Forget it. You are not the first one to go through it!!

Friday, May 18, 2018

Sales impact by the lonely man amid women's wear!

It was a rainy evening and I needed a quick stop because I was not carrying an umbrella. I spotted a women’s garments store. It looked a quiet little outlet ( Really smart store ) that sold almost everything that a woman would need. I did have a few things to pick up too. So thought, while I wait for the rain to stop, might as well check out the shop's shelves.

There was a young chap working at his counter with a calculator and a laptop. All around him were stuff that a lady would need. I was surprised a bit by the comfortable look he had on his face amidst what would be an alien set up to me if I were a man. 

I quickly looked around for a lady sales clerk. I did not find anyone. I asked him if they had a lady to assist me with my queries on the things that I wanted to buy. He quickly said they did not have a lady on staff.

I chose to walk out of the store. Albeit, conservative South Indian woman’s mentality that may have made me do that, I still wonder how stores employ men to do some woman-centric sales jobs. Before I left, I did tell him, please get a lady on board and you’ll have more women visiting your store because the stuff you sell is good but we need a lady to ask the questions which surely, she can answer more accurately and comfortably than you would ever be able to.

This is not the first time. This is the fourth walk-out I did over a period of time and in the next few months of my visit, I have noticed that a lady had been appointed at each of these stores. I thought "Some benefit for a business because of a feedback from me or people like me!!!”

Sales are affected by many parameters and the most important one being the sales personnel you employ in your store. 

Here’s my reel of thoughts:
  • The customer should be able to feel at ease talking to your sales clerk.
  • The customer should believe that your clerk knows what she is talking. Leave sale of men’s gear to men and women’s wear to women because you won’t be able to speak for the stuff you never had a chance to use.
  • The shop should have stocks that are rolling quickly, for which you need customers. Keep a store to attract customers and not chase them away.
  • How boring would it be to be a lonely man selling women's garments in a shop all day!!!

These were my quick thoughts as I walked out of the store.

I am also tempted to think that it is just me and my conservative mind at play.

Maybe.. the shopkeeper believes that every woman on the road is going to shop comfortably for her very personal needs based on the data points and clarifications he gives! And maybe a lot of others find it easy to talk to men about women's wear.




Wednesday, May 16, 2018

Clear Mind for a Better You! - Psychologists know to help!!


On a technical document today, I read this acronym, TOA. I checked with my colleague if it meant 'Terms of Agreement' as it seemed to fit the context. Hours later, I got to know TOA expands as 'Token of Apology'. How different it was from my interpretation of the same!!!

Misunderstanding the terms 'Token of Apology' and 'Terms of Agreement', is not acceptable in the context of the text I was reading today.

My wonder-filled and wandering mind at once worked:

Given that I can understand one acronym incorrectly, wonder how many more such things, people, situations, concepts can exist today amidst us? 

For a situation, in the temperament of a set of people each with her own background/stress/personality traits/strengths/Weakness, people can interpret a concept very different from its intended meaning. In such a complex scenario of many limits at play, each person can differently understand a point because the meaning, the intended meaning, the interpretation of the meaning, the interpretation of the intended meaning, and the assumptions in the mind may be different and may contradict the original intention.

Considering the complexity, it helps to note that the multiple situations which each person faces every day and the diverse challenges that each one of them poses to the individual’s psychology, make it tough to reach a consensus. 

The hidden ‘egoist’ in every one of us, contributes to pushing the disagreements up to the hilt, which makes people feel angry, rejected, disinterested, upset, depressed, and stressed in the mind, beyond comprehension.

This may be the reason for so many mistaken situations, misunderstood relationships, misleading concepts, misfired tempers, and missed pieces in the puzzle of each one’s life. We need to have all these misfits placed in our minds to keep our mind sane!

Psychologists worldwide have been the advocates of 'Mind Health', one of the surest way to Physical health. 

It is fascinating that a whole discipline called 'Psychology' in education devotes its effort to the physically unseen - Mind!!! 
It is fascinating that actual people with the ability to 'mind' their Mind called 'Psychologists', try to find the logic behind the illogical behavior of the intangible mind.

When we are in a situation and cannot sneak out on own or with the help of people we can confide in, what we need to do is just talk to a psychologist.  They understand the gymnastics of the human mind and help us remove the knots in our mind. Once our mind is clear of the misunderstanding or gets the affirmation, we can clearly see things, people, situations, our own responses, and actions.
  • Clear mind: clear vision
  • Clear vision: clear comprehension
  • Clear comprehension: clear intention
  • Clear intention: clear response
  • Clear response: clear solution 
  • Clear solution: clear action
  • Clear action: definite success
If we accept that we are in trouble and need help, we have successfully climbed the first flight of stairs to better mental health.

"Rule yourself better with a clear mind! - Keep yourself collected at all times!!. 

Seek help, if you must. 
Be happy, because you deserve to be!

Tuesday, May 15, 2018

Footprint


Whenever I hear this word, my mind recalls the image of the seashore and a single file of footprints. The famous poem of Footprints is about how the child learns that the single set of prints are those of God who carried the child in times of trouble.

It was a rainy evening in Bangalore, yesterday. I was listening to Rahman’s high-energy music and was literally dancing in my mind to the tune, with my feet racing and pacing to the notes in the song. I got drenched in the rain and happily so, after a long time. I was just enjoying myself thoroughly when I saw a footprint on the concrete pavement. 

Just one file of footprints to me seemed to tell a history note -  of someone who had walked on the pavement, as soon as they had finished making the cement layer on the concrete pavement. How careless!! was the first impression. The concrete dried, pavement became operational, but the footprint stayed. I smiled.

This morning, on my way to work, I got off the bus on to another pavement. It was a different song this time by Ilayaraja, another maestro in Indian music whose music is tangentially different from Rahman. I recalled the footprint of yesterday evening, the rain, Rahman's music and the footprint poem.  It was a natural instinct that made me look at the pavement today. 

I saw a leaf fallen off the tree just then, among many other litters. The leaf looked so out of place - clean, fresh, green, and new. It was fluttering in the breeze that was threatening to sweep it off to the busy road. The green leaf might just die underneath one of those car tires or become brown with the little brown puddles on the road from last evening’s rain. The fallen leaf will not have a history note if it happens. I smiled, this time with a tinge of sadness. That such a leaf - new, beautiful, fresh, clean and green - existed will not be recorded anywhere. It will be gone without a trace!

"Someone took the first step to betterment, the world followed and gradually it became a path”. This someone actually has left a trace for the rest of the world to believe, follow, use, enjoy, or be.

Do we want to leave a footprint?? On the freshly concreted pavement, No, but in life, Yes.

Some thoughts that flashed:

“ Every idea is a footprint of someone’s intelligence or wishful thinking or well-intended purpose”

“ Every step that we take in life leaves a footprint in someone’s life”

“ Make a mark - a good one at that!! Leave a trace that will live longer than your mortal being. Leave a footprint!!"

A Mixer Jar’s story

I am new here today. The family is excited to run the Mixer for the first time. I am the eldest of the three jars. I am taller, ...