Wednesday, October 31, 2018

So Easy

So easy to get lost in the dust of the world,
So easy to put a veil over the head and 
hide one's uniqueness, hide one's own self,
in this world. 

So easy to do the easy, 
and forget about the climb that takes us
to peaks beautiful and clouds unexplored. 
So easy to become an accepted entity,
discarding the voice within,
the real identify, the true identity. 

So easy to never know the grind,
to never know the pain of trying,
to never taste bleeding of the heart,
and face the silent cries in the night. 

So easy to do the common ,
to dream the common, secure, dreams, 
to sail in the silent sea,
and to ride the calm horse. 

So easy not to fight and just live,
waiting to die with gold trapped in banks,
forgetting death is every moment spent,
without thinking of the greater good
of our brothers and sisters,
forgetting that death is not supporting
the dreams of our brothers and sisters,
on this journey of redemption.

So easy to be indifferent, 
So easy to stop "being love",
when romance is over,.
So easy to forget her, the Beloved,
when Her ship sails afar.
So easy to settle ,
to make mouths shut,
and make  soul wail and scream,
and thereby dishonour life.

So easy to feel weak, to tremble,
to shake and to weep,
in the face of seemingly big mountains,
in the face of huge oceans,
and in scorching heat of sun.

So easy to live like dead,
while still being alive. 
So easy to become a victim,
while still being a warrior.
So easy to give up,
while the time aint up.

So easy to forget,
the Truth,
that actually makes life 
So easy.

Aint nothin supposed to be easy,
Gotta Rise, Grind and Shine,
Every Single Day,
till death bed. 

Friday, October 19, 2018

Why slow down, why not curb? Why not destroy? Why not vanquish? Why not uproot?

I am a biostatistics student. Since, I am not yet in a graduate school most of my learning occurs by reading research papers, journals, books, magazines, YouTube videos and of course, discussions with my mentor. I enjoy this type of learning as well, it is unhinged, full of exploration, has elements of direction and focus and lots of room for creativity and unbridled flow of thoughts. Thanks to some concrete experience in applied probability and statistics, now I am able to understand the statistical analysis presented in the research papers, used to shake me before. The only sections I used to read were introduction, discussion but now I can not only read but also make sense of the methodology of statistical analysis and sometimes question and counter the approach discussed. This is fun actually, learning more about what you love and feel connected to. In the process I read a lot of research papers.  And very often I observe a common denominator across most of the research papers. This post is about that observation. 

Most research works identify the risk factors associated with disease onset, progression, multi morbidity and ultimately mortality. In the conclusion they often recommend that policies and strategies be tailored around the findings to reduce disease onset, progression and concomitant changes. But I got a question here! In a population, there are always people who did not get a disease condition under consideration, why cannot we learn from their behavior adjusted for all other parameters like socio-economic conditions, anthropometric measurements, the reasons they did not get that disease? Wouldn't that be useful as well? The focus on investigation of the preventive practices and behaviours in addition to the risk promoting behaviours? For a long time I also did not think all this, but now I do seem to. I guess the reason behind this is that the way I read has improved, rather than devouring 5 papers in a day and understanding superficially, I read 3 and read them in the best possible way - very slowly, pausing multiple times to think and ponder upon what I read, question it, debate on whats stated , scribble some notes and then proceed ahead. So, today when I was reading this thought which is the soul of this article came to my mind. 

So I began recalling such studies which have actually studied preventive behavior and shown that it helps arrest, prevent and reverse the chronic diseases. Such studies are replete in the nutritional sciences, lifestyle medicine, in which people radically altered their diets and gifted selves a better and healthier version of their own selves. Definitely then some work is happening, but to me there appears a gap. The research studies which work with data on human subjects can also attempt to glean factors that led one to stay risk free. Here comes the utility of cohort studies.  And therein lies the challenge, the challenge of conceptualisation of different risk-free states. But if you think more on this, it ain't a rocket science, trust me. I am thinking, I am thinking because that is what I wish to incorporate in my work and thought process - The Practices Which Led to Better Prevention Against the Risk of Diabetes as Compared to Those who were diagnosed with it. Speaking concretely, it is simply not enough to find out what will slow down the progression of a disease to other co-morbidities but it is vital to find out how the disease progression got arrested and then reversed. Better still it is vital to find out how those who did not get the diagnosis behave in their lives. We have trials which compare lifestyle, metformin and placebos and report that lifestyle plus metformin produced best reductions in the complications associated with diabetes. But as a fellow person I wanna know how I don't  become diabetic at the first place, or pre diabetic or insulin resistant.  

As a researcher this is what I aspire to bring to light. 

Sunday, October 14, 2018

Thoughts provoked by #MeToo

The #MeToo movement is gaining huge momentum in the country. Only today I got to know a little bit more about it. I had heard Emma Watson talk about the movement in her speech some time back, but only now I seem to be seriously gaining knowledge about the ethos of the movement. I read the news, watched YouTube videos to acquaint self about the #MeToo movement. I think enough has already been said about it and talked about it and it is unfortunate that people have to undergo such harrowing experiences in their lives. It is impossible to imagine the trauma one goes through in situations of sexual harassment and objectionable behavior. 

I think assault of women by men, that of men by women, of men by men and women by women, these are all forms of domination, an unquenchable thirst to impose authority over someone and their lives. I think as a society we have a very messed up sense of pleasure and the appropriateness of the actions to achieve it. Stripping someone off their dignity just to suit our own emotionally catalysed desires and uncontrolled state of mind is not only inhuman but highly condemnable and downright unacceptable in a civilised society. However, very few people realise this. 

I always find one thing very very puzzling. How can anyone derive pleasure by doing acts that the other person is not enjoying or if there is no consensus involved? Isn't a close and intimate association with someone at that level of transparency a sacred bond? A friendship that evolves with time, through storms and all tides. And if the person is uncomfortable why would anyone want to make things worse by coercion, by wielding their power or by harping the song of love? For a long time I myself did not understand what all this meant that I am writing about, but now I think I know and understand. Our Bollywood movies depict women as goals to be achieved. There are storylines in which the woman says "No" but even then the guy is persistent/sobs/gets drunk/wails for his love/suffers endlessly and in the end they become one. As a growing up child that's what I liked, enjoyed, never made sense of it, never understood the "NO" that the girl or woman used to say. Consequentially, nothing seemed wrong to me until I read an article in Guardian in 2015 that changed my life, my belief system and my outlook towards such movies and story lines. When I read it, it made a lot of sense to me. I incorporated some lessons from the article in my life. 

Most of the times it is the men who are accused, both prevalence and incidence of sexual assault by men on women is higher than any other gender-combination group. Yet, we must not be caught up in this as the truth alone. As I said before, to me it appears as an individual-to-individual act of domination. Because when I look at it that way, I can look within and ask myself if my conduct is proper and decent in my interactions with people. This helps to focus on improving the situation in personal ways rather than being a participant in the criticism party or the blaming congregation. I also want to state clearly that I support mobilisations and increased sensitisation about these issues in public. 

There are many things we need to learn in life, but the most important of lessons are those of handling rejection, both polite and the violent ones. And all this learning happens experientially, and therefore many a times people go astray on experiencing something that directly rips their hearts apart. Incapable of handling selves during the phase of separation or healing, people often torture others (sometimes for years) screaming about their "love" in all ways possible - continuous calls, senseless and overly sentimental messages at wee hours of the day, making others call the "beloved" thereby practically giving them and own self so much agony and trouble in the name of "true love". I do not think it is love, I think it is action cropping up due to mismanagement of emotions, disrespect towards the right of the other person to live life on their own terms and total loss of sense of self-identity.Ironically, these are the kind of characters that the movie industry promotes, these are the kinds of undisciplined sentiments that the Hindi songs promote and also some poems/shayaris. I do not blame the creators of fine art, I think it is fantastic to have a diversity of ways to channel our deepest and purest of thoughts but a lack of observance of discipline in our conduct under the influence of these channels is never justified. Not in any situation, not on any planet!  

Most crimes, if we pay attention closely, are actually crimes that happen when a person goes out of control in handling his or her self. Of course, it is not easy to handle oneself; like any art, this art is learned, decision by decision, step by step and suffering by suffering. What right anyone has to create unnecessary problems in someone else's life or create emotional cyclones? Getting accused of sexual harassment is a huge disgrace or any harassment for that matter. Some people learn early that anything of that sort has not to be done again or repeated and that there is a need to exercise caution in interactions with people. Many people find it unnecessary to learn and often discard the need of it outrightly. And when their bottle is full upto brim that's when our TV screens flash news of "sensational exposure". 

I can not change anyone or expect others to behave in a certain fashion. I simply can't. In fact today, this morning, I read that what happens is not my responsibility but what I do is my responsibility. And that tells me that the one person I can monitor is myself, my actions, my conduct, my responses, my reactions and my every step in the way. And that seems sufficient. Now I am not a saint, I have made my own share of mistakes, lapse of decisions and I will continue to but I do believe that I am evolving as a person. And so are all we, evolving human beings learning from our mistakes, bad experiences, traumas, dramas and chronic moments of discomforts. It is cleansing to admit mistakes and move ahead as a better person. On the other hand, being on a treadmill to extract pleasure by torturing people can be a very dangerous business to continue. 

I started the article with #MeToo and I have, you might think, come some other way. But I personally feel this is what it is connected to - our personal conducts. No one harms someone else or infiltrates in someone else's private life and territory unless their mind is not at the right place. And the mind usually gets displaced from the right place in emotionally challenging times, in times when their is a seeming void. However I think those are the most powerful moments and heavenly opportunities. The opportunities to recollect self, make it whole, make it better and prepare self for the other experiences and challenges that are to come in life. That's it. Its not easy to practice, I can hear someone of you saying that. Well, the greatest lessons come in the most horrible of situations, if we remember to keep our sanity and wisdom alive. Period. 

So, I think that it is a good business to mind one's own business and do our duties in best ways possible. I also feel sometimes that we have become great achievers and fantastic inventors, yet there is a lot that remains to be learnt in the realm of handling and managing oneself. Because believe it or not, that is the biggest skill; I consider it as the most prized skill of all. It is most difficult and elusive also; it is easier to lose one's self-control rather than to reprimand selves lovingly in times of inner turmoil but that is where the magic lies. 

Anyone can point fingers at others, as is happening now! The question is how many of us can point fingers to ourselves? And then what to do about it. None of us has to be a saint for this, but we can always remember that everyone of us has that element of empathy within, that element which says, 
"To my brother or sister, how can I inflict pain to fulfil those desires that have cropped up due to my uncontrolled mind and undisciplined emotions?". 


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