Friday, August 30, 2019

That Woman Who Set the Ball Rolling

© Velchitra Naathan
When god created genders, seldom he knew that human beings would make this the very foundation of various theories, ideologies and doctrines. The stronger sex, i.e., males, would exert its authority on the fairer sex, i.e., females, and would even produce biological evidences to assert that it is naturally superior. The women would rather reluctantly give in to the say of the men, for she would sadly be left with fewer choices to opt from. This burden of influence would keep weighing on them, depreciating their value in their own eyes. She would stop holding herself in high regards; forget about treating herself at par with the men in her life. Her life would, thus, confine to the four walls of the house and the chores concerned with it.

In the times that there were, it never even occurred to women that they could cross the boundaries of the house and think beyond the kitchen; that they could step out to earn and become financially independent. They had, on the contrary, become downright submissive and docile with years of subordination. Then set in the era of these trendsetters who thought they were different and capable enough to balance the house and their jobs. They not only banked on their knowledge and expertise in doing things, but also bravely championed the thought of commercializing it. This first working woman in the house really set the ball rolling for generations of financially independent women in her family.

These women, like proudly my mother, set out to give a meaning to their lives, to the education they had attained and to the fact that there was a market which would pay them for their skills. However, this did not necessarily mean they got to wash their hands off the conventional roles they had to play back home because they shouldered the responsibility of running the house with the man. The protagonist of the story would still be ‘him’ and she would have to hesitantly ride pillion. Nevertheless, it was never about an apparent show of masterful achievements for them; it was rather about effortlessness of being; about cultivated poise. These women who showed the courage to step out of their homes having, first, set that place right and, second, ironed out the kinks in their family members’ lives literally had their nerves made of steel. They instilled in all the women around them, be it their daughters, sisters or friends, a perception that there was no work ‘undoable’ by the females. Despite being the ‘biologically inferior’ sex, they did not have to play second fiddle to the males in any field, whatsoever. That confidence is what has driven us, and millions others, thus far to where we stand today. When I look back today to where it all started, the desire to be economically empowered all came from my mother, the first in her family to get to work and make a mark! 

Wednesday, March 6, 2019

A House with a Courtyard

Also published on Women's Web at: A House with a Courtyard


When home is not a place but a family, house is also not just brick-and-mortar but another member of it. Where the drawing and the dining rooms were the elderlies, who took care of all the guests and comforted them with love and warmth, the bedroom was the love which locked plenty of secrets inside. It was like a safe in an already secured house, keeping sound a lot of things unsaid. The bedroom was the epitome of ‘haya,’ reflecting modesty and decency, while keeping the needs satiated. The kitchen was the mother who was akin to ‘Annapurna,’ fulfilling the most basic need of each member of the house – hunger. The mother knew what would suit everybody the best and, thus, served accordingly.
The kitchen was surely the most favorite of elders and younger ones alike, for it combined nutrition and flavors to serve them with sumptuous meals and healthful snacks. This was the fuel, which kept the clan running with a purpose through the day until the night when the doors would open their arms to receive each and all back. Each room fit like a glove, as did each member of the family, and life seemed to be fine when the question arose where the grandma was.
There she is, in the courtyard! Yes, she is the courtyard. She has gone astray finding a meaning to her existence; the beloved granny has gone missing from the house. The granny symbolized the place meant for soaking up the sun, playing in the wee hours, sitting together by the clan to cherish sunrises and sunsets, feeding the sparrows and talking to them for hours, taking in the freshness the plants gifted every morning, reading the newspaper and letting the spices out to dry. Sadly, the granny has been replaced by a part-time nanny, the balcony. The nanny tries so hard to cover up for our beloved grandma, but no matter how much efforts she puts in, she still ends up being a mere cheap copy. The nanny doesn’t greet the guests the way grandma did, leading them to the entrance while giving a glimpse of the ‘muggu’ decorated at the main gate. She doesn’t even let the ladies from the neighborhood flock together while bidding adieu to their family members and, then, feeling relaxed for the rest of the day. The grandma breathed in the traditions and talked about the customs; the nanny will take a long time to learn.
While all other family members continue to run in the mad race of life, there is no courtyard now, standing still, waiting for them to stop and enjoy the sweet nothings of life. The shady, airy and the most natural, the nucleus of the house, which lovingly gave the peace of sleeping under a tree during the summers  or taking in the sunlight during the winters and let the fresh air inside the house, has just been forgotten in the mundane, urban life. Sadly, the grandma is not even missed. 

Friday, March 1, 2019

Book Review # 20: Three Thousand Stitches: Ordinary People, Extraordinary Lives

My rating: ●●●●

Sudha Murty
Three Thousand Stitches
India: Penguin, 2017
179 pp; INR 250
ISBN: 9780143440055
Summary: Well, I am back at this game and I confess I truly missed it. I have been so busy going with the flow that I have actually forgotten how much efforts it takes to travel upstream. This is my first book review in 2019 and I swear I shall continue playing till I set a record of maximum reads (and reviews) this year.

Coming back to what it should originally be about, Three Thousand Stitches is another shot of this vintage wine called Sudha Murty. There’s so much to take away from the book as long as you don’t turn the last page and happily forget. This one is another classic collection of the pearls from the author’s life, telling us about how she braved through the challenges life threw at her. Read it if you are already her fan and miss it if you have seen a lot of her interviews, as she has told us about a lot of these experiences several times anyway.   

What really clicked? I shouldn’t mention it as many times as I do; I am Sudha Murty’s fan for life.
My take: Totally per Murty’s style of writing, Three Thousand Stitches is a non-fictional collection of short stories, which tell us about the long and rich life the author has lived and how she made it worthy enough. This book has 11 stories or rather pearls of wisdom the author has shared with her readers so that they could take inspiration and gain dominion over life.

Enough has been said about her writing style, which is extremely simple and colloquial and appeals to the masses. This book not only comes very easy in reading and grasping, but also is motivating enough to give your thought process a subtle nudge.

Where the stories like Three Thousand Stitches, How to Beat the Boys, A Powerful Ambassador and Food for Thought will take you back to your roots, Three Handful of Water will make you want to emulate the most admirable life the billionaire author lives. There are spices, like the story called Cattle Class and No Place Like Home which would make you familiar with how materialistically and cruelly the world functions and there are gems, too, like A Life Unwritten, which will unfurl the story behind the naming of the brand – RH Diagnostic. A special mention here goes to Rasleela and the Swimming Pool, which will make you chuckle through a rather serious read. The story, A Day in Infosys Foundation gives the readers a sneak peek into the author’s life and all the challenges which come with the position she holds. My favorite takeaway from the book are:

  • The concept that you automatically gain class by acquiring money is an outdated thought process.
  • Adinishtura is better than nantyanishtura, which means initial disappointment is better than a disagreement at the end.
  • Confidence doesn’t mean that everything will go our way. It simply gives us the ability to accept failures that we will inevitably meet on our path and move forward with hope.
Conclusion: The books Murty writes are simply no-nonsense, have a lot to give to the readers and, in turn, take very little from them in order to connect with. This is one of those pearls you would want to keep close, for it lets you see the world from the eyes of the author. Mind you, this read can easily be consumed in one shot.


Thursday, January 17, 2019

What on Earth is Facial Feedback Hypothesis?

We have been programmed to think. Being humans, this is something which comes naturally to us. What comes rather unnaturally is the habit of over-thinking. While we keep chewing the cud at times, we begin to live in a virtual world, full of hypothetical circumstances and non-existent situations. What could have been a really simple situation is often made complicated by the thoughts infected with ‘could and would.' Duh! 

So, some time back, I came across a phrase – Facial Feedback Hypothesis – and I couldn’t hold myself from trying if it works. Boy! It did and I am glad I now know how to tame any bad situation without having to store some useless data in my brain to regurgitate it later.

It’s simple. You trick your brain into believing that since you are smiling, things ought to be normal. Despite the screw-ups, we smile because then the repercussions wouldn’t be as dire as they would have been had we thought through them tad too much. The next time when you come across a cranky child sitting next to you in a long flight or a stubborn client, who is nothing short of horrible, you take a deep breath and smile. You know why, because anyway your running a motion picture of possibilities in your mind wouldn’t help mend the situation. Instead, it would make real you catching some diseases as a result of staying in the pseudo-world for too long.

Alternatively, smile through the tough times, as you anyway would face the next minute, the next hour, the next day and what not as an extension of this moment. Battle it out once and for all when it happens in real instead of boiling your blood over if’s and when’s. Our facial expressions do affect our emotions and, believe me, it irks the bad (be it the person, situation or memory) even more. Force your 26 facial muscles to smile, instead of 62 to frown, through the bad days and you can always come back to thank me here later.

Here’s what I got from Wikipedia to support what I said. Now, would you smile a little broader and wider, please?

"If no bodily changes are felt, there is only an intellectual thought, devoid of emotional warmth. In The Principles of Psychology, William James wrote: Refuse to express a passion, and it dies."


Monday, December 31, 2018

Goodbye, 2018!

I see myself as an imperfect human being, who is trying too hard to make things better for herself, for her family and for the world she lives in. As I report to work on the last working day of 2018, I get myself prepared to strike off some of the resolutions made sitting on this desk last year and carrying over a few.

Just a quick look at this chapter of my life story and I feel glad to know that this year has, indeed, made me emerge stronger and way better a human. I thought I had a connection with this number, 18, until God made sure I no longer believe in numerology. Well, this, surely, has been a hell of a year! 

The wheels in my feet were greased for short trips to Vizag (our yearly pilgrimage to the hometown), Vrindavan, Tijara (Alwar) and Chandigarh/Morni Hills. Considering the places that they are, I am glad I made the right choices in choosing the destinations.

The work life sailed smooth, with occasional hiccups of being unable to organize priorities. However, the workplace itself experienced drastic changes in terms of losing business and high attrition. Nevertheless, my work experience has grown if I look back to where I stand today. It’s always wise to not travel downstream and halt to know where we belong. I still need to think if this is it.

Physically, this was clearly not my year. If I do not look at the viral fever which loved me a little more to let go, the gym life was a constant on-off. Honestly, due to the decision of deliberately keeping off from heavy exercises, all I did was no exercise at all and this should be completely unacceptable considering my expectations from my body. Eating habits, too, were haywire and, most of the times, I was hogging like a pig on the food, which I could easily have said no to. Nevertheless, I leave the bad memories here.

Spiritually, I can say my relation with God has become a little stronger. I feel Him everywhere, silently listening to whatever I say, reading my mind and bending the ways exactly how I want them to be. The bad times never stayed and the good times left sweet flavors in my mouth, almost palpable all the time.

The big and the most beautiful segments of my life, which stayed there and grew strong, are now being carried over to the next year. My family! I cannot ever thank God enough for this. They have been there with me through all shades of grey – my husband, my brother, my parents – they are big gems, which add value to my life. Their roles in 2018 have been especially worth mentioning. The rock that my brother is, the strong values my mother and father add to my life and, of course, the way my husband mends me into a better person – they all are an integral part of my presence. I can say I am a sum total of them all.

I say this every year whenever I am changing the calendar, but I am ready to work on myself, more seriously and more relentlessly, this time. I am optimistic that things will fall in place, prayers will be answered and good times will prevail. I wish the same to all my readers, too. 
Cheena's new year's prayer:
O, Dear Lord! Bless me, so I seek you, see you and feel you everywhere. Watch over my loved ones day and night and keep them in the pink of their health. Help me be kind, generous and optimistic at all times and see through the hard times to learn from them. Help me take one day at a time and make the most of it. Hold my hand while I strive to make my dreams come true and add value to my endeavors towards shaping my future right. May I always thrive in your love, indulge in your blessings and grow under your guidance. May my love for you always grow and my belief in you become stronger than ever. I thank you for the year gone by and I look forward to receiving your love in the coming year. Amen!      

Tuesday, September 18, 2018

Book Review # 19: The Monk Who Sold His Ferrari

My rating: ●●●●
Robin Sharma 

The Monk Who Sold His Ferrari 

India: Jaico; 1999

208 pp; INR 199

ISBN: 9780062515674

Summary: If self-help is your favourite genre, then this book would be an additional dish of ‘paneer’ for you with almost the same taste as that of all its comrades. However, if this is your first tryst with it, then I must applaud you for your selection. There are a lot of takeaways from the book, especially steps, rituals and strategies, which you could possibly write down, set in a frame and put up on your study wall, or bedroom’s. Robin Sharma has been extremely straightforward in motivating his readers to enhance the overall quality of their lives and he has, undoubtedly, done a great job. The only thing I was miffed at was how the dose of information gets too much for you to bite and chew. A must read, if this is where you start.  

What really clicked? I was rather intrigued by the title, which initially turned me off as I thought I should taste the “Ferrari-like” success first and then read this book in order to relate better. As a matter of fact, this book will inspire you to give up the thought of owning one in the first place.

My take: Though all self-help books start with the same motive – to disseminate good thoughts and ways – only a few are able to make it all sink in smoothly, not making it sound like preaching. The Monk Who Sold His Ferrari does this job pretty well. Divided into thirteen chapters, this book breaks a story the protagonist bases this book on down to pieces, further discussing the significance and the message contained in each element of the story.

The book talks about the life experience of Julian, an established lawyer, who is the protagonist, and is narrated by the author, who was once his assistant. Julian seems to have achieved it all when he collapses in the middle of an ongoing session in a crowded courtroom. This blow to his physical health also affects him mentally and he, in search of the larger meaning of life, comes to India and learns about the Sages of Sivana.

The rest of the book covers Julian’s journey in India and how he learns the secrets to radiant and enlightened living. These secrets are really no big secrets and merely reiterate the lessons we have been learning since childhood. However, books like these make sure that while we continue participating in the mad rat race, we also take out time to stop and look around, calm ourselves down and appreciate small things. 

The author’s attempt to reach out to his readers, helping them lead a better life, is indeed laudable. In this conversation between two people (Julian and Robin), it is the reader who benefits the most. There are pearls of wisdom spread all over the chapters and are worth holding close all life. These snippets of knowledge not only reinstate your faith in your abilities, but also help you in building a strong character. Apart from sharing the ways in which how an ideal life should be led, the author has also shared the techniques which make practicing them easier. For instance, ‘the magic rule of 21’is a technique which could help a person in adopting a habit, provided he repeats doing the same thing for 21 days straight.

This book helps in ironing out a crumpled up life and also paves a way for an enhanced living. A must read for a fresh air of positivity and inspiration.

Final Word: The Monk Who Sold His Ferrari shall bring in a whole lot of positive inspiration into your life. This self-help book not just adopts an indirect method of preaching, but also makes it simpler for the readers to practice in real life. Go for the read, as I am sure you wouldn't return empty-handed. 
Related Posts Plugin for WordPress, Blogger...