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."

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