Ultimate life lessons I learnt from kids (though I avoid kids)

Important life lessons you can learn from kids (even if you dislike them)
image credit: linnea-sandbakk-99949-unsplash

I have no intention to let a bun finding its way in my oven.

There is a whole lot out there who don’t like to pop out biological child, but dote on nieces/nephews.

Or be the most charming baby-sitter of the town. I don’t belong to them either.

I get tired with constant baby-talks. Heck, many of them are downright rude, who just stare and don’t share their ice-creams with you.

But there is a plethora of good things one can learn from kids. I do.

 

Burning the bridges

Kids are pro at not only burning bridges (when there is no incentive in foreseeable future) but nuke it.

It’s only when we become adult, we get lobotomized in carrying around toxic people in our life. We fear to ruffle the feathers.

When I was 7, a nagging aunty used to visit our household. Pinching my cheeks, coochie-cooing and hovering over like a hawk were her favorite activities inside our house.

One day I was doing something and she was interrupting me repeatedly, talking in a baby voice.

After a point, I snapped back and blurted out- “Please go back to your home, it’s already late for your lunch”, much to the dismay of my furious and equally-part embarrassed mother.

I was not proud of what I did (okay, a li’l bit) but from next day, the aunty vanished into thin air.

Take-home point:

While adulting and learning 101 ways of networking, we have repeatedly been taught the virtue of not burning bridges.

But children are unfazed. They shoo away those who are pain-in-the-ass. This is akin to cutting toxic people off your life. Like-

  • Clients who don’t pay
  • Relatives who laugh at your broken engagement
  • Friends who slap your FB feed with photos of their exotic vacays and giving you major FOMO.

Being body-positive

Important life lessons you can learn from kids (even if you dislike them)
image credit: pierre-best-591612-unsplash

Kids don’t think much about shape of nose, perkiness of breasts or love handles.

It’s the toxic popular media projecting a certain body type and the adults shoving it down others’ throats are to blame for emerging body issues.

When my friends and I were kids (pre-high school), jelly-belly, jingling thighs or mustaches were hardly on our priority list.

There were more pressing issues at hand like- homework, games, sharing books, bitching about parents etc.

It’s all changed when we transitioned to high-school. But that is story for another day.

Take-home point:

Learning to be comfortable inside your skin, admiring the reflection of your nakedness on the mirror are some of the virtues one can learn from kids.

Even if that damn baby-voice screaming like a banshee— grates on your nerves and make you see red.

 

Don’t pay heed to (other) parents 

Kids are famous for making good usagee of two ears. I mean they take in the advice, analyze it on the ‘usability’-scale and then take out.

And these days, I’m trying to leverage it.

It’s tough when you don’t have (or like) kids and all of your friends are popping out little munchkins.

Even if you don’t get the heart-burn by seeing the pictures of those cherubs, their parents (your buddies) might make you feel guilty of not acquiring the maternal instinct yet.

Well, it happened to me.

Take-home point:

When you were a kid, you didn’t listen to your parents. Now don’t listen to what (others’) parents say about your relationship status, salary or ovary.

Just smile vaguely, nod and do what you gotta do.

 

So, what other qualities do you think one can imbibe from babies? 

Advertisements

5 ‘weird’ things not to say to your friend who reads fiction

The swords are drawn, the knives are out and the façade is dropped. The battle of fiction vs. non-fiction is out and loud. Like SAHM vs. Working Moms, like socialists vs. Fascists, the tussle between those who love reading classic vs. those who read only hard-core science and finance books are everywhere

5 weird things not to say to your friend who reads fiction
image credit: Pexels

 

In case, just by the mention of literature you behave like a cat firing a machine gun, then live in your air-castle. And go through this cheat-sheet of what not to ask a fiction-connoisseur.

1. “Reading fiction is a waste of time”

Years ago, my friend and I were having break-fast at a road-side food-joint.

He was having something super-healthy like egg-and-brown-breads and I was nibbling at a bowl of steaming hot instant noodles.

“Why do you even bother to eat instant noodles anymore? They have ajinomoto (Monosodium Glutamate), you’ll get fat, and you might catch cancer bla bla…” rebuked my friend, frowning at me – blissfully gulping down my soup-y noodles.

“Eating chowchow is bad and so is alcohol”, I retorted to my friend, who otherwise, used to guzzle beer like a cheetah on a blood lust.

Why you shouldn’t say this:

Wasting time is very personalized hobby. For you, reading a hard-cover Dracula is a waste of time.

For me, it’s watching more than one season of True Detective.

 

2. “What do you even gain by reading fictions?”

5 weird things not to say to your friend who reads fiction
image credit: Pexels

“Why do you read books?”

“Do they help you to make more money?”

“You are becoming ninny by reading fictions” (was suggested to me by my math teacher once seeing my aversion to numbers).

Why you shouldn’t say this:

Some read fiction for amorous kick mixed with beautiful prose(Lolita, Madame Bovary)

Some read to shoot up IQ + EQ (The Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy, LOTR).

If you are like me, you’d say, I read fiction for,

“…Cheap Thrills…”

 

3. “Read self-help genre instead”

Beware, as there is a war going on between those who read fiction and those who read anything but fiction.

The techbros, growth-hackers, day traders in my Facebook list belong to this category.

Their favorite pastime is scoffing at those who read Jane Austen and worshiping Timothy Ferris.

Why you shouldn’t say this:

Reading The 4Hour Workweek won’t make you

  • less of a pain-on-the-bum
  • a billionaire

Tidbit: Even the demi-god of our time Elon Musk, has presumably, fawned over few fictions, himself.

Here’s an interesting read-

View story at Medium.com

4. “Okay, tell me a story then”

5 things not to say to friend who loves fiction
image credit: Pexels

…said the man many times on whom I lost a part of heart and subsequently recovered.

Heck, even my sister tells me sometimes mockingly “tell me a story because you read all the time and rarely have fun”.

Well, there is a reason why your ex is your ex and family is a bunch of people, barely putting up with each other ‘cause rent is high.

Anyway, I digress.

Why you shouldn’t say this:

Because I read hotchpotch of all things, doesn’t mean I carry a story at the tip of my tongue all the time.

There is an age bar for bed-time stories.

In such cases, I do tell something from Aesop’s fables, on which, the listener ultimately shows  no interest.

 

5. “I’ve never read fictions, pray, recommend me one”

This one gets my goat all the time.

Grown-up men and women, darting babe-in-the-woods look, might ask you sometime for a book recommendation, which probably is going to be the first book they will be reading, out of syllabus (I am not counting  magazines).

Why you shouldn’t say(or ask) this:

Before suggesting a book to a non-reader, I need to keep in my mind couple of factors-

  • Interest (recommending ‘Siddhartha’ by Herman Hesse is a pointless act to someone who always talks numbers).

 

  • Personality type (it could be little awkward to recommend ‘Bridget Jones’s Diary’ to a hard-core INTJ. Or may be there are nerdy quants  who love chick-lits).

 

  • Attention span ( no point of recommending ‘War and Peace’ if you have an attention span of a sparrow,well, I have).

 

Have someone ever mocked you for reading fictions? Do share with me.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

We need to talk about mental health. A lot.

This is a rant post about the apathy our society nurtures, towards depression and other mental conditions

We need to talk about mental health. A lot.
image credit: Pexels

In no way, I have an authority on this grave topic but I have first-hand experience that if it remains untreated, depression can wreak havoc in your normal functioning life.

I have just started my journey of healing-one day at time. Hope, I’d get few compadres along the way.

Why this is so difficult to talk about mental health in India?

India is a ticking time bomb, when it comes to dwindling mental health. Even our honorable president had admitted so.

Link:

http://www.thehindu.com/news/national/karnataka/india-is-facing-a-possible-mental-health-epidemic-says-president/article22335971.ece

 

But why so?

There are myriad of reasons and I am no expert, researcher or fact-finder. What I am documenting is purely based on layman’s  observation.

Our work-spaces are not equipped for mental upheaval

I hail from an industrialized town.

Since childhood, I had seen men around me used to return from factory in a highly-agitated state most of the days.

My father used to work in crane section and his job involved operating from an elevated space. He had seen so many colleagues fell from crane, somebody cracking neck, others with broken legs, fortunately nobody died.

There was no trauma-care unit in his work-space (I highly doubt whether they have had one these days).

Result?

We had host of angry fathers shouting at their wives, spanking kids occasionally and venting out bottled-up aggression on “weaker-beings”.

We need to talk about mental health. A lot.
Photo by Kyle Glenn on Unsplash

Same holds true for modern-day work-space.

You can have a hernia operation, rest for few days and can disclose to your ‘sympathetic’ colleagues.

Recovering from a bout of depression or social anxiety disorder won’t merit the same reactions from those with whom you work.

Putting the onus on gods, marriage and elders

In a religious (and developing) country, there are few quick-fix solutions for everything, say for depression.

First, pray to god (read Gita, listen devotional songs, meditate- the last one gets my goat every time), if that doesn’t solve things, then ask the elder and invariably-

  • S/he will suggest you to get married, if you’re single, to “settle things down”.
  • If you are married then don’t know what they will say. May be have kids or loads of sex?

And now ‘depression’ gets the memo, you’ll bloom like a sunflower from next day onwards.

Schools

My rant with Indian schooling system is unending. Once I start, it would be difficult to stop. So I’d rather not start.

Lack of qualified professionals

Few months ago, I was watching a phone-in show that invites a clinical psychologist/psychiatrist every-day and connects them with viewers.

While the concept is noble, it showed some red flags.

A newly-married lady phoned-in and was explaining the mental strain she was having in adjusting in her in-laws house (typical desi craps).

Instead of dishing out some solid solutions, the “experience” psychiatrist suddenly started talking about

  • how greedy we Indians have become,
  • how impatient this generation is
  • The virtues of adjusting (like: if your screaming boss doesn’t send your helter-skelter, why react differently when your mother-in-law shouts).
We need to talk about mental health. A lot.

Photo by Chris Barbalis on Unsplash

I was like- “What the real fuck?”

And the said psychiatrist declared proudly at the beginning of the show that she has degree from States.

The moot point is- like Zomato, we need reviewing system in terms mental health professionals also.

Else, instead of curing you, your counselor’s antiquated view might push you to teetering edge.

 

Like cervical cancer, breast cancer, miscarriage or menstruation, we don’t talk about mental health in a South-East Asian country.

For me, the morbid consolation is- at least with mental health, the shushing-up is all-inclusive for men, women and any other gender.

 

Words of caution

In case, you don’t get any of these and take pride of your psychological sturdiness, then congrats.

But please, don’t say the following things to sufferers.

Here’s the cheat-sheet (*bad info-graphic alert*)

What not to tell someone (1)

Now why you shouldn’t say these- is the story of another post.

 

Special note:

Needless to say, if you are suffering from early signs of depression( for me, it was sudden break-downs, feeling sleepy all the time, not wanting to get out of bed), consulting to a professional therapist is the key.

Meantime, here are three resources for some immediate relief-

https://tinybuddha.com/

https://www.7cups.com/

https://yourdost.com/

 

 

7 authentic conflicts I face: As a ‘non-native’ English writer

 

7 authentic conflicts I face: As a non-native English writer
image credit: Pexels

In a country where English is not the main language (but rapidly becoming the chief lingua franca in upper-and-middle-class echelon), blogging in English is still perceived being elitist.

Here, I have thought and listed down the conflicts non-native writers of English might face.

Well, I do encounter them all the time-

 

Thinking in English

Thinking in English and transcribing it on paper should be the way to write in Queen’s language. No such luck for non-native writers. Result? Stilted language.

I don’t want to sound like a moron but it is visible (might be the minority here) in the writings of stalwarts such as- Khushwant Singh or Amitabha Ghosh.

Sometimes it struck to me; they  also thought in their native tongue and put it down in English.

 

…And adverbs

7 authentic conflicts I face: As a non-native English writer
image credit: Pexels

Years ago, I was giving an attempt to translate a Bengali short story into English. A line went like this “after 3 days of fasting, the hungry, little girl was eating mounds of rice fast, almost choking herself into death”.

I showed it to an English pundit and she sent the copy back with a stern note – “Do you know you can use shovel in instead of eating quickly/fast etc.?”

This was my first lesson in knowing that too many adverbs spoil the imagery.

 

Theory of every’thing’

This thing. That thing. Everything is a thing for a non-native writer’s notepad. Love is a thing and so is an alien. Here, in this post, I have repeated the same thing (*hangs head in shame*).

But blame it on Keats. When I was in school we read Endymion and “A thing of beauty is a joy forever” stuck with us for life. If John Keats can insinuate a “thing”, so can we.

 

Squeezing in new-found words, idioms

7 authentic conflicts I face: As a non-native English writer
image credit: Pexels

In my English class, the teacher instructed the pupils: to learn a new word every day and write the meaning down in vocab journal.

“In this way, we’d all learn 730 new words in a year”, I can still recall her beaming face, stating the obvious.

It hurts me down till this date- how to squeeze my newly-acquainted words/idioms in a run-off-the-mill article.

 

British vs. American

Is it ‘centre’ or ‘center’? This still gets my goat.

When we were children, we used to go to ‘cinema’ with parents. Now, we visit ‘movie theatre’.

Between cinema and movie theatre, a whole continent of non-native English learners witnessed a tectonic shift.

From the bank of Thames , we landed in the shore of Atlantic.

 

Getting the grammar right

7 authentic conflicts I face: As a non-native English writer
image credit: Pexels

 

Everywhere I look for tips to write like a pro, I get to see barrage of suggestions like-

When you write, don’t think about grammar. Just write.

Don’t aim for perfection. Hit the Publish button ASAP.

Communication is the key. If you communicate, then half-the-job is done etc.

But how can that be possible when since childhood we are taught to keep a hawk-like eye on grammatical accuracy?

This is especially true for a country like India where schools still follow the colonial educational policy and emulating British-esque English is almost a sacred task.

 

This is a killjoy (at least for me) to express one’s self (by any form of communication) while the fear of accuracy is hanging at the back of the mind like Damocles’ sword.

 

Bracketing to add extra zing

Should I put brackets to double-emphasize my real intention/to add zing or should I leave it to the prerogative of the reader?

Here, in this post as well, I succumbed to my habit and resorted to bracketing.

Note to self-

Wrong: After wrapping-up “The Idiot”, now I want to marry Fyodor Dostoyevsky (and have fur-babies with him).

Right: After wrapping-up “The Idiot”, now I want to marry Fyodor Dostoyevsky, and have fur-babies with him.

 

What other ‘things’ (*slapping- self*) have you gone through while writing in English, as a non-native speaker? Do share with me.

 

The rant of an Indian Xennial

This is my take on the oft-ignored ‘xennial’ generation and the conflicts faced by them.

A book for a goat

“Do you know who he is?”, asked my septuagenarian father to our neighbor’s convent-schooled 5-year old daughter, showing her the photo of Swami Vivekananda.

“I don’t know and I don’t care”, she retorted nonchalantly while exiting the door, leaving my father agape and furious.

Later that night he lamented to us, ‘’Children these days don’t know the great progenies of Mother India anymore. We taught you differently. Didn’t we? “, while hanging his face.

Now I am fully sympathized to the little girl (and even to her parents).

jonatan-pie-306436-unsplash.jpg Photo by Jonatan Pie on Unsplash

Among mounting homework and getting prepared for the big rat race lying ahead, it’s not possible to remember so many names and faces.

But the disappointment in my father is also palpable to me, as I could identify most of the legendary Indian thought-leaders, monks, freedom-fighters  from their photographs since I was  5  (80s were a…

View original post 561 more words

Book Review:Where’d You Go Bernadette

 

13526165
image credit : Goodreads

Genre: Fiction, Humour, Chick Lit, Mystery

Author: Maria Semple

Rating: 2*5 / 5

Goodreads Summary:

Bernadette Fox is notorious. To her Microsoft-guru husband, she’s a fearlessly opinionated partner; to fellow private-school mothers in Seattle, she’s a disgrace; to design mavens, she’s a revolutionary architect, and to 15-year-old Bee, she is a best friend and, simply, Mom.

Then Bernadette disappears. It began when Bee aced her report card and claimed her promised reward: a family trip to Antarctica. But Bernadette’s intensifying allergy to Seattle – and people in general – has made her so agoraphobic that a virtual assistant in India now runs her most basic errands. A trip to the end of the earth is problematic.

To find her mother, Bee compiles email messages, official documents, secret correspondence – creating a compulsively readable and touching novel about misplaced genius and a mother and daughter’s role in an absurd world.

What I disliked

Oh dear! I was in a mood for reading some chilled-out stuff with a dosage of humor and a kick-ass heroine thrown in the mix.

The summary of WWYGB got me hooked from the very start. What I gleaned through the synopsis was- WWYGB has a much nicer female version of Howard Roark and a juicy, little mystery about disappearance.

It turned out to be a drab-version of Gone Girl.

I hoped for a smooth ride  (accomplished heroine of suspense+over-all wackiness, what’s not there to like), but WWYGB showed me some red-flags:

 

Bernadette-herself

book review: Where'd you go Bernadette
image credit: Oprah.com

The characterization of Bernadette Fox herself is a very very caricature of a mad-genius-in-domesticity.

I tried very hard to like her ’cause in the previous life, she was a kick-ass architect, enterprising, intelligent and creative. But throughout the novel, she appeared shallow,narcissist and whining.

She has a problem with repetition.

She repeatedly calls out Seattle a horrible place ( don’t know why cause I loved Seattle in Sleepless in Seattle), tags her neighbors as gnats, being an architect doesn’t show any initiative to repair their dilapidated house and swats away the very mention of her husband’s mistress while retaining the cheating husband by herself.

This last point left me scratching my head.

It seemed, the intention was to model Bernadette Fox as a derailed-feminist icon or some sort.

Then how come she forgets and forgives her husband Elgin Branch so easily, even if he shagged his admin Soo-Lin and made her pregnant?

 

I have a lots of sympathy for jilted admin Soo-Lin Lee-Segal and thought there should be a spin-off a la Tess of the d’Urbervilles, where an Asian woman struggling in Seattle to make ends meet and pregnant with a child born-out-of-wedlock.

 

Untreated mental trauma

Bernadette Fox suffered from PTSD, Postpartum depression, agoraphobia throughout 20 years but it irked me a lot that the book gave so little importance to- finding out root causes of mental ailments, instead of dishing out a quick-fix cure.

At the end, it was implied- Bernadette got bonkers because she had lots of free time at her hands and only re-engaging in meaningful work would cure her traumas.

 

Superfluousness

book review: Where'd you go Bernadette
image credit: Pexels.com

With the absence of real shits, this seems like a rich people’s dilly-dallying.

Another of my pet peeve is- the daughter of Bernadette and Elgin Branch was growing up in a horrible, claustrophobic environment under the care of narcissist parents.

However, the author tried to sugar-coat by putting-up lovey-dovey family charades at every opportunity.

Too-much-research

There is no doubt Maria Semple had done an impressive research of architecture, Antarctica, zodiac boats etc. But there was no need to pages-after-pages description of them.

It slowed down the pace of the book and felt boring AF. Surely it was the classic case of putting all your eggs in one-basket.

book review- Where'd you go Bernadette
(image credit: https://myhowbook.com/) Cate Blanchett is slated to play Bernadette on big-screen.

Also, who cares about how Microsoft works in such minute details? I mean, it seemed partly as paeans of the company.

Nonetheless, Bill Gates donates lots of money to build toilets, spread HIV awareness in India, so I should shut my mouth out of gratitude.

 

What I liked

Quotes

I am a quote-hoarder  and the book has some lovely, witty quotes that elicit chuckles.

Such as

You’re bored. And I’m going to let you in on a little secret about life. You think it’s boring now? Well, it only gets more boring. The sooner you learn it’s on you to make life interesting, the better off you’ll be.”

Or

Getting into fights with people makes my heart race. Not getting into fights with people makes my heart race. Even sleeping makes my heart race!

Or

People like you must create. If you don’t create, Bernadette, you will become a menace to society.

Or

Do you know how absolutely exotic it is that you haven’t been corrupted by fashion and pop culture? A month ago I mentioned Ben Stiller, and do you remember how you responded? “Who’s that?” I loved you all over again.

 

 Format

I like epistolary novels a lot and it has a large part dedicated to mail-exchanges. So that is a plus point.

 

Verdict

Over-all Where’d You Go Bernadette is a strictly one-time read which is part easy-breezy and part-drag. Give it a read only if you care about such stuff.