Tuesday, April 18, 2017

On Kindness

In seventh grade, this new kid joined our class. In the interest of confidentiality, her name will be “ELLEN.” ELLEN was small, shy. She wore these blue cat’s-eye glasses that, at the time, only old ladies wore. When nervous, which was pretty much always, she had a habit of taking a strand of hair into her mouth and chewing on it.
So she came to our school and our neighborhood, and was mostly ignored, occasionally teased (“Your hair taste good?” — that sort of thing). I could see this hurt her. I still remember the way she’d look after such an insult: eyes cast down, a little gut-kicked, as if, having just been reminded of her place in things, she was trying, as much as possible, to disappear. After awhile she’d drift away, hair-strand still in her mouth. At home, I imagined, after school, her mother would say, you know: “How was your day, sweetie?” and she’d say, “Oh, fine.” And her mother would say, “Making any friends?” and she’d go, “Sure, lots.”
Sometimes I’d see her hanging around alone in her front yard, as if afraid to leave it.
And then — they moved. That was it. No tragedy, no big final hazing.
One day she was there, next day she wasn’t.
End of story.
Now, why do I regret that? Why, forty-two years later, am I still thinking about it? Relative to most of the other kids, I was actually pretty nice to her. I never said an unkind word to her. In fact, I sometimes even (mildly) defended her.
But still. It bothers me.
So here’s something I know to be true, although it’s a little corny, and I don’t quite know what to do with it:
What I regret most in my life are failures of kindness.
Those moments when another human being was there, in front of me, suffering, and I responded … sensibly. Reservedly. Mildly.
Or, to look at it from the other end of the telescope: Who, in your life, do you remember most fondly, with the most undeniable feelings of warmth?
Those who were kindest to you, I bet.
But kindness, it turns out, is hard — it starts out all rainbows and puppy dogs, and expands to include . . . well, everything.

Thursday, April 13, 2017

You are not lonely, you are a fountainhead of a treasure

This poem is dedicated to those who are considered  lonely and friend-less...
 So what, So what really , seriously, 
If they think you are utterly lonely, 
So what really, 
If they think you do not have a friend, 
or friends who love you dearly....

You, my Child, Child of The Supreme Lord, 
Disappoint not, Despair not, 
Look in mirror, into thy eyes, 
There you'll see your power, 
There you'll see who you are, 
Unblemished part of Lord, 
A Promise of Lord, 
A Purpose of Lord. 

Conflicts, Fights, Arguments will prevail, 
And prevail they must, 
Render us stronger, all of them, 
Reduce our weaknesses and fear to dust, 
by forcing us to think in ways just. 

The place where you stay today, 
is but just a small part of the big Earth, I say, 
Like-minded people will come your way, 
Till then be happy and gay..
From false amity walk away, 

From all that, that does not serve you, 
Stay away, Walk away & Far Away,
You know not today, but 
In your inner solitude, 
Lies your treasure, 
Go meet yourself, 
Please do not delay, 
That is where your Heaven and all answers lay. 
That is where your Heaven and all answers lay.

Saturday, April 8, 2017

Depression or really?

I know this article is going to draw lot of flak, disagreement and debate and that is the idea behind writing this. We need more debates to happen in our societies, conversations where people put their perspectives and learn from each other. A cauldron of different viewpoints is instrumental in helping the wider conscience of the community to evolve. And who knows we might get to know something which is extremely in contrast to the prevalent sentiment around any topic and that might in itself engender a revolution unprecedented in the outlook of people. This article is my personal take on the topic of Depression, I do not intend to hurt anyone's sentiments or belittle anyone's experience of battling spine-breaking hardships in life. I also intend to share what I feel about this "disease" or "health outcome". I have been trying very hard to understand about depression and its genesis but no one has been able to convince me so far and my questions remain nomadic searching for answers. That is all the more reason I encourage a healthy debate. I would also admit that as  youth of the country it is our responsibility to discuss and debate without trying to impose our opinions on others or judging others for their viewpoint. We are a democracy and everyone is entitled to his/her opinions. With this I begin. 

The topic of depression has always confounded me. I believe it is a man-made problem, something which can be traced back to the way people look at themselves, talk to themselves (or not) and the ways in which they measure their self-worth or seek validation from external facile quarters.  We must understand the mechanism that builds over a period of time and then blasts off! Depression , essentially, according to me develops when someone gives away too much of his power to something external that ends up controlling him, his thoughts, his emotions and his actions. Now, of course, our society promotes that. Right from the school we are told to study well, if we do not score good marks in tenth standard, we might not get the stream of our choice in 11th and 12th. In twelfth we are told to score good marks else we shall not get into a good college and our ability to be financially independent will be jeopardized. We are almost always never exhorted to manifest the unique character that we are born with, instead coerced to be a "normal", "just like everyone else", "acceptable", "socially validated" etc etc. And I believe much damage happens to the psyche of a child in school. Our schools do not teach us skills which are very much required to tackle the challenges in real life beyond academics. Our parents are also not capable of teaching us principles beyond moral values or manners. They cannot be blamed, I guess, they became parents when they themselves had not seen much of the trials and tribulations of their own lives, thereby making them incompetent in sharing the lessons that come with experiences. Things like bullying, now that is very real. When a child is bullied he develops a deep seated fear and confusion about whether he will be accepted for what he is or not in the society. This lack of a sense of amity in the closest of circle where he spends most of his time is bound to lacerate him emotionally. This event can either be leveraged as an opportunity to make him learn lessons of a lifetime or allowed to be dismissed as just another incident at school. The very first step where he could have learnt a big lesson of self-worth without it being contingent on people's attitudes has been vanquished by a mute response.The child then fails to develop a faith and is divested of the inner strength that is concomitant with it. This vacuousness in his soul has a tendency to morph into an ugly shape as he grows up. All I am saying is that we must nurture our young ones with a sense of belief in their own core selves so that tomorrow if they experience any sort of opposition, implicit or explicit, which they will, they know how to handle it and how to respond to it. 

We all are humans, contemporaries, if you will , and have our own share of challenges and struggles. Makes we wanna say that a life of struggle is always more precious than no life at all (Just imagine!! ). J.K. Rowling was under utter bankruptcy in her own life when she was writing Harry Potter, Ellen Degeneres for three years did not get any offer after she came out publicly at the age of 35 that she was a lesbian, Wayne Dyer defeated his alcoholic tendencies one day at a time at the age of 65, Yuvraj singh battled his cancer and came back on cricket field; the world around us is really inundated with stories of people who were at extreme low in their lives and yet used it to go deep inside of them and prepare selves to handle the emotional and spiritual pressure that came with it. Of course, it took time. The easiest thing to do is to sport a victim mentality and then go about harping and dancing to the tone of "Depression". We must ask ourselves what is it really that we refer to when we use this word. For me, I believe when someone says he is depressed or she is depressed, what they are really saying is that they have forgotten how strong they are and that they are ignorant that with a sense of intention and discipline things can be MADE better. Nothing happens on its own, the good things have a trigger and the bad things have a trigger but guess what? There is always a solution if we are willing to stay longer with problems in the world of Albert Einstein.

The most common reason behind depression I have learnt from the daily vernaculars is the "love failure". It always amuses me how fast we are when it comes to blaming someone for what we feel inside of us. "Love" the purest of human emotions is brought to gallows in the name of depression is symptomatic of a disease that exists inside most of us, girls and boys alike. The disease which is an outcome of an excessive maniac disorderly type desire of trying to be with that person we claim to love. Now there is nothing wrong in that desire. But the moment it becomes coercive, destructive and inconsiderate of what the other feels then it become ugly and an insult to the love that kept two people bound in the most intimate and  beautiful of ways. It is important to remember and remind ourselves of who we are even when we are in a relationship and equally important to remember that the other person is an individual first before being an "A" or "B" or "C" for you. Reminds me of a ted talk by a lady who found out after some 10-15 years of her marriage that her husband was gay. Now, she was very supportive and understanding, she did not resent much but there was a reason that hit her hard and made her extremely sad and upset. The reason was not that her husband was gay or the marriage has been a farce all this time, the reason was that she did not know who she was without her husband. But she did not stop at that, she acknowledged it bravely and then went on to discover herself and live a happier life. It took her time, it always takes time to overcome big hurdles in life that are nothing but opportunities in disguise to make us ready for the successes that are to follow. This example shows that when we base our sense of worth in other person, and begin looking at ourselves and begin to guide our happiness on that one person we not only insult ourselves but are also smothering the other person and creating a death bed of the beautiful association. It helps to be like a lotus in life which is in water but is not moistened by it. Nothing saddens me when I hear stories of love turned ugly when the girl says no or the boy leaves. I mean these things are absolutely normal, they have the capability of making us more loving if we have the courage to look at it that way. One of my favorite poets Rumi says, "You have to keep breaking your heart until it opens". 

Depression according to me is a classic inability to discipline our emotions, a case when our judgment and decision making ability is clouded because of "what will others think"? We live in a society that measures the worth of a person by a very rigid, non-sensical yardstick. We fail to acknowledge the uniqueness that everyone carries with itself. We also fail to rebel against what bothers us. The IITian who committed suicide could have left the college when he was being coerced to study a subject which he did not like, he could have protested. But he did not. There was a fear inside of him. This fear  is endemic in our society. I know saying is easier but I am sure that there were incidences in our lives that we faced and overcame . THERE IS A HERO IN ALL OF  US !! As long as we try there is always a hope. Some savants would point out that depression is linked to neurological activity and that there is proof that brain behaves differently. I am not denying that, I very well support that finding. But we need to look at it from a different perspective. Brain changes behavior owing to changes in our thought process. After an intense game of cricket, basketball, squash or a heavy workout, we feel happier, brain images have shown that. The very psyche of the person changes. Why? The neurotransmitters oxytocin, dopamine are increased while cortisol (stress-causing hormone) decreases and we become happier. What has the game done? The game has altered our thought process. I remember very vividly that when I used to get sad due to something in college, badminton was my saviour and today it is the GYM ! And I know after that period where aggression gets shed, things actually seem to become better. So, I believe totally that depression has linkages with the thought process of a person and that brings me to Big Pharma!! 

In the world of ADHD, Prozac, Post Menstrual Disorder, etc the companies which are getting most benefitted are the drug companies. I had watched a documentary some time before and in that a CEO of a drug company had confessed that they first created a mental "disease" and then that helped them promote their drug. It is available on topdocumentaryfilms.com. Anti-depressants will only promote this "disease" while what we need is solution that hits the cause and not just treat the symptoms. The cause lies in our thoughts, the way we make sense of events that happen in our lives. Despair and disillusionment happens, happens to all of us but there is a reason behind that. Our lack of faith in Providence and its happenings keeps us mired in this false sense of suffering. There have been so many incidences in my own life at which when I look back I say to myself, "Ahh!! Now I understand why that needed to happen", "Now, I understand why I needed that lesson". This happens all the time. A sense of acceptance at everything that happens in our life, not to say kill ambition, will actually help us live a better life. This chronic feeling of ingratitude is what has turned us into ingrate shrimps who get unsettled at every seeming threat while in disguise this occasional storm is an opportunity to come out much better than we are currently.  I believe our young generations needs to be taught how to maintain the sense of self-worth in the times of extreme conflicts and disasters and also instill in them a sense of faith. 

I am not a spiritual speaker or a philosopher and I know that my readers are hard-core linear rationalists. But even then I iterate that thoughts have a scientific connection and we need to talk more about how those who changed their thoughts changed their lives (Read about Anita Moorjani and make your friends read about her). We need to be very aware of what examples we are promoting in the society because that kind of collective consciousness will then get engendered. WHO declared this World Health Day centered around "Depression", I am not challenging it.  It is all the more a bigger opportunity to have our concepts cleared and myths demystified, to talk more and debate more. I know some times stress becomes too much to handle, anxiety takes toll over people and in the flick of second life gets changed, either by inflicting harm on self or by pledging not to be in such a kind of situation again. 

We have reasons to be sad and upset at some point of time in our lives, but we must remind ourselves that there are greater reasons to be happy and to be grateful. Consulting a counsellor is not a bad thing to do, they help us gain a different and a better perspective. I had the privilege of meeting a counsellor when I was in college and she really helped me gain more clarity in my thought process.
 What does that mean? It means that it really helps to talk to someone, to be brutally honest in front of someone regarding how we are feeling, it really liberates us. Finding that someone can be tough, more so in these times of Facebook friendships and WhatsApp groups. But there is always one friend whom we can talk to,  I cannot stress enough how therapeutic talking and being uninhibited can be. After all we are all emotional creatures and life revolves around emotions and sometimes dramas. It is a gamble, we need to learn how to play it. Being upset does not have to be referred to as being depressed, or labeled a "disease". It is a natural human feeling which can be overcome by receiving clarity and not drugs. Drugs for this "disease" ends up making people dependent on something external to ratify something that is caused due to something inside. I have debated a lot with many people over this man-made and man-propagated agenda of depression, not been able to gain proper insights and I am still searching. It seems like a modern age epidemic to me. We ought to talk more and share more and debate frequently over all such termites of modern era. Most times it is a chronic confusion, inability to understand situations in life that becomes messy and prevent us from concentrating onto other important things, at such situations we need to take a break and talk to someone regarding how we are feeling. I also do not believe that drugs can be used for this "disease". Cannot believe few industries aim for profits by  promoting a cure for a "disease" that does not exist. 

Feeling sad is human, feeling sad for a long time is also natural (we all have felt it at some point in our life or the other. There is nothing bad about it. ) but we must look at it as something that needs and demands change in our own thoughts, actions and decisions rather than a lifelong appointment with drugs. This change in thoughts is difficult, challenging and sometimes it is easier to fall for drugs or alcohol which only aggravates the problem.  As Gary Zukav says, "Authentic empowerment cannot come easily, it needs immense intention and self-discipline". Make responsible choices!! It is time to run into ourselves and not into a drug store to cure this "disease".

I know depression is a sensitive topic and I have tried to be polite in this post. By no means I intend to cast aspersion on anyone or experience of any person. I know sadness is very real, suffering is very real too but I also believe that both of them can be overcome. I am still learning.

Wednesday, April 5, 2017

ए खुदा ! शुक्रिया

आज फिर बरसात हुई है , 
आज फिर गगन बहका है,
आज फिर बादलों के बीच, 
मन में मैंने इक सैलाब को देखा है । 

अकेले रास्तों पर यूँहीं जब कदम मेरे निकल पड़े, 
बरसात की बूंदों ने जैसे मेरे चरण को निहारा , 
हलकी नन्ही सौम्य बूंदों ने जैसे मुझे पुकारा , 
मेरे अधरों से होते हुए, 
मेरे दिल में इक दस्तक दी । 

अचंभित था अपनी सोच पर !
 न किसी के होने की ख्वाइश थी , 
न किसी के करीब होने की तमन्ना थी , 
किसी के एहसास  तक  की गुज़ारिश न थी , 
चला जा रहा था, बरसात में , 
कभी धीमे , कभी रफ़्तार से । 

आज दोबारा बरसात से खुद को इश्क़ में पाया , 
कई कहानियां, सपने , सन्नाटे बरसात लाती थी , 
या यूँ कहिए , ये जस्बाती पेशा हमने ही किया था । 
आज ये बूँदें मेरे जीवित होने का प्रमाण थीं , 
यह कल भी थीं और कल भी होंगी । 

आज कुछ अलग था, कुछ बदला सा , कुछ अनघटित  सा , 
ऐसा जैसा कभी महसूस नहीं किया , 
सुकून जो हकीकत से भी ज़्यादा सच्चा , 
शायद समझ आ  रहा था कुछ हौले हौले, 
बरखुरदार-ए -दिल को मेरे, 
वही जिसे हम कभी समझ न पाए । 

ये बूँदें बरसात की , मुझे मुक्त कर गईं , 
मेरी खुद की सोच और बंदिशों से मुझे आज़ाद कर गईं ,
अपने इस अद्भुत एकाकीपन से , 
मुझे  और अद्वितीय मोहब्बत हो गयी । 

न किसी की चाह थी , न कोई गुज़ारिश थी , 
बरसात की बूँदें थीं , गगन से अमृत की बौछार थी , 
मैं और मेरी परछाइयाँ थीं , 
और इक साथ था, 
वो साथ जो अभी तक थामे हुए है हाथ मेरा , 
लव्ज़ों पर सिर्फ इक ही बात थी , 
इक ही पुकार थी , 
"ए खुदा ! शुक्रिया " । 


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