Disturbing Content Becomes Normal, Should We Wake Up?!

URLs: From Nightmares To PTSD, The Toll on Facebook Moderators

Podcast Title: From Nightmares To PTSD, The Toll On Facebook Moderators

Channel: Fresh Air: NPR

A Bird’s Eye View

National Public Radio (NPR) : Fresh Air Podcast is an interesting take on things that should really matter to the listeners. The topic on Facebook Moderators needs some looking into from a humane point of view. I found journalist Casey Newton’s take on the issue was rather studied and walked the tight-rope of being level-headed on an issue which turns out emotional responses.

The Graphic Content in the Facebook and other social media channels are pre-checked and moderated before being visible to the general public. The person doing this task is known as the Content Moderator and Facebook employs Content Moderators to check these images. The podcast discusses about the various impact of being an content moderator overwork for long duration and over exposure to such toxic images leaves them in highly precarious mental health condition.

In My Humble Opinion

Ever tried reading a comics about heroes who are on the mission to save the world. Much of the world of images are created for specific impact. In the case of Comics the entire editorial team with graphic artists try to bring an experience to the table.

In the case of the content found in the SocMed Channels are subject to the aim of making an impact on the reader reason can be as diverse as the image itself. One of the most important thing in the face of such overload of images is that at some point we have become immunized to look at very disturbing images in our daily fast-paced life.

The brains takes in the images and the processing in the mental spaces are subject to so much distress and hurt. Over the time seeing pictures that are extremely toxic takes it toll on the viewer of the images. Just imagine if this simple image can create such an impact, then wouldn’t long duration of violent and harsh images whether real or made-up to create unrest is not going to help the innocent bystander Surfer on the net.

The fact that there exists a Facebook Content Moderator who nit-picks these content and only those images that have been vetted for the various violent factors and these graded images provided by these team of moderators are allowed airing time on the SocMed Channel of Facebook.

I remember seeing a very disturbing image of a child running away in mortal fear and in a completely vulnerable human condition. The video showed her running on the street in distress and seeing such an image of a girl child running déshabillé. Watching the young one, avoiding the man-made catastrophe, it was most disturbing to see. I saw this about 10 years back and it was part of the reportage of the war event.

I was distress and really worried to watch those images and spend a week feeling bereft and depressed with huge amount of shame on behalf of the child. News Reporting these days are peppered and salted with images of such violence and especially if there is a coverage of booming event.

This is one of the reasons that I don’t try to read news early in the morning and keep snacking on title but then even words bring with it violence which an escapist like me tries to avoid at all cost. I am usually creating words than seeing any image, and I keep off SocMed as far as possible. I feel we have come to a level of acceptance on violence and vile images that some level of violence, gory details are just basics now. I fear such compliance in the acceptance level of the reader and surfer. Then, we would get to a point that we would accept violence to be part of life visually. This then impacts the reaction of the emotions when the images get processed in the mental spheres of the mind.

Of course, people who do this job on a regular basis of vetting images are going to be far more affected. Their perception of reality will get befuddled in the constant exposure to violence of the visual kind.

It becomes all the more important that we find out where is our thresh-hold for tolerance. We live in AI and technology getting becoming so fast that we don’t forget the basic human virtues that needs to be extolled in our life. Moreover, you don’t want your Primary class teacher cringing, thinking of thier efforts to build human manner tables as a matrix in our emotional part of the brain and in our behavioral science; but to sadly find it to have gone awry.

Image Source:Photo by rawpixel.com from Pexels

L’sLT Series | Yet Do Not Go Gently Through Life

I have been looking up poems from my past and remembering how it felt back then, and how it feels right now. Sometimes the understanding is varied. As a young girl, my understanding was different from that of my present-day mindset.

The poems were read exactly in the order they are listed below:

Death Be Not Proud – John Donne

Do Not Go Gently Into That Good Night – Dylan Thomas

Because I could not stop for Death – Emily Dickinson

At this point, let me stop and look at what I have collected so far. Let me take the poem in the order presented because there is a clear chronological logic to it. I read John Donne’s Death Be Not Proud, in my secondary school days. The fact that my school included the topic of death at a very early stage and partly the reason being that all parts of literature was never far from it. Take for instance, when children watched their pet breath their last right in front of them. These days you cannot protect the children from all the gory details of war and violence. Violence these days are a given. In that, when we speak of death and passing, the angle that needs to be taken is rather interesting.

Should death as a subject be introduced at an early grade? It is still a debatable question. But I feel death as a sensitive topic should be addressed early. Then I would give it a resounding, Yes! The more secular thoughts on the passing and coping with the passing is something that needs to be in the survival kit of each individual child.

The fact that each of the poet had their own way of looking at death; but then something else was also happen with the topic. By the time I reached the American poet’s version of His Majesty the Death, I had undergone much emotional changes.

John Donne’s version of what Death can accomplish is not so dramatic and back at that age it kind of gave a weird sense of pride that after the passing the soul will rise and live on. Though it was different from Hindu philosophy of circle of birth, death and rebirth, ad infinitum. I understood that maybe, yes, Death is not to be feared as much, since there was a next chance to make amends.

With this false bravery, I made progress in life, thinking that Death cannot outdo me. But yet there were such moments, when I felt maybe, I should rethink my concept of passing away and how we handle it.

Dylan Thomas also begged and beseeched his readers to not accept without putting up a brave-faced fight till the end. The various ways in which Death does challenge the human being until they are subdued to submission was explored, but the need, not to give up the fight till the last becomes an emphatic refrain with the nice touch of the Villanelle’s natural form.

A Villanelle is rather strictly structured, and the magic is in the refrain. Dylan Thomas uses it very beautifully to accomplish it. When the thoughts get grounded in the action that human take, then it becomes significantly important point to look out. Thomas’ version of how to fight it out and not be defeated in the hands of Death is a strong takeaway.

The strife and struggle that goes into the process of leaving this mortal world is something that Dylan Thomas brings out in his villanelle. I love this poetic form so much that I feel that one can get much out of those rhyming sequence. I have played around with this form for topics that were about hiding things and not giving up.

Surprisingly, when I reached high school and some American poets were also included in our repertoire of poetic studies, I first encountered Emily Dickinson with such pleasant shock that it was a new experience for me.

By my high school days, I would look upon poets and try to figure out their life stories. So, Emily was such a fascinating person and I liked the fact that she had characteristics that are close to my preferences in life.

The fact that Death gets invited into her very parlor for some nice tea and nibbling snacks kept a drummer’s beat in my mind. It is almost as if Death is a welcome guest, on whose honor the table of snack sits waiting to be attended to.

There are times when a poem can evoke images in the mind that is unique for each poem. In “Because I could not stop for Death” poem there is much that is happening which I didn’t find it in the early masculine expression to death. Somewhere there is a sense of gentleness in Emily’s version.

I am still looking out for a version of Death that is an equalizer. A more modern expression of death what it has to offer for a human being in the form of life. Somehow it is not even about living after being dead and I feel I am not that happy with the current affairs to wish to be born again. So, what should be the angle of a more modern and current version of Death which overpowers Dickinson or Thomas or Donne’s approach to the central figure called Death?

Of late, I am more mellowed, I am no longer the fiery poet who kind of thinks, that she can change the world with her words. I know the world will continue in its strides caring not for a single thing of any major concern. It is like the time has passed and the human being who watched it go by passively are none the wiser from those that actively participated in it. The passing of time is inevitable.

Death as a topic has always been my favorite. It is mysterious and filled with a unique quality of evading human understanding. Why would human beings be born and go through the various stages of life and undergo the varied aspect of life’s struggles and then, pass away? The Eastern theories and Western principles kind of clash and confront the understanding limits of this individual’s perception.

Desire to hold on to the memories of the time spent together is high, yet death dare not visit as John Donne says that after death I shall rise and be free forevermore. There was a huge change, in the way, especially the classic method of viewing death by the British poets. This stark difference in the American poets and British poets handling brings out the varied interpretation of death is the varied Indian spice of new understanding.

Life according to me is somehow filled with people, things and places. When in reality none of these should really matter, to begin with. Life is always is just about the Self – the indweller. I have had moments when I simply see things happening around me, as if in a movie theatre. I don’t know if that should raise a red card alert that the participant is no longer a participant, but merely an onlooker.

Sometimes the mind has its own way of handling sadness and despair. Some relations in life has certain special place in the human emotion and mental setup. Whenever I am very sad, I tend to create poetry that is fully loaded with heavily coded words. I am the only one who can Unicode it, pun intended.

I have learned from living that you should not give up and just let life happen on you. You should try to go out there and making little things of importance happen whatever be the outcome. The need of the moment is not to see your life as ending but beginning with a fresh start.

 

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My Favourite Three Humourists

I am not talking Stand-up Comedy on current affairs who work as overworked social media propagandist and throw in a couple of cuss words and that is not humor for me. I am talking about supreme quality, a balanced, and a wonderful representation of a situation that brings out that human smile even when the person is super serious. That gentle smile is the one I am talking about in the word Humor.

One of the best things in my life was my English classes at my school. I woke up to studies only in my 5th grade when I began reading books on my own. Of course, it is a different thing that my 7.5 had just passed by and happier days were etched in the Indian natal chart. Somewhere there, I believe my sense of what is now my maturing humor’s birth lies.

Honestly, there is such great capability of being able to appreciate literature and love the way it goes into the spaces of the mind. I believe Humor is possible only when there is a great in-depth knowledge of the world and its natural ways.

That way there are specific essays by some people that I really love to reread as many times as I can. There are three writers’ whose works I absolutely love to read over and again. The three of them are

  • Charles Lamb
  • GK Chesterton
  • PG Wodehouse

All three of them are my super favourites and in their style of saying things has been my aspiration all my life. I still don’t sound good or even remotely fair. I am still a struggling artist who is grappling with her tools. I don’t have in depth relationship knowledge since all my time is spent with books and stories. I know the theories of it but then, I sadly am missing on the practical parts. So, I feel that humor is experienced from within and there is no huge laughter, maybe sometimes, but usually it is a gentle nudge of pleasant feeling that brings out the small smile.

Then humorous writing that can be one man’s nourishment while becoming one man’s punishment. I love big vocabulary writers and in that PG Wodehouse is such a wonder pot of a fascinating language workshop.

Humor has its own specific logical order since it permeates throughout my thinking process, I believe to master it requires a mentor who you can really rely on to be an honest feedback provider. Because of the fact that my humor is sometimes very dark but at the same time, I know that I like lighter wordplays too.

Jeeves who is a gentleman’s gentleman is such an exemplary English Butler that I am so thrilled to just read the novels of PG Wodehouse on the Jeeves series and those of Blandings Castle series. Somehow it never felt that I was reading another culture. The important thing that is required is to be really crisp and to the point. If you amble in the narrative of humor then, the punchline is long past miss punched.

One of my secret desires as a writer is to be a humorist on the above three writers’ cadre. Charles Lamb’s essay The Dissertation on a Roasted Pig is one of the best and I fall in love each time I read it. The way he describes the pig and the pig roasting history is such a pleasure and treat to even a staunch vegetarian like me. The inference was funnier because it has some amount of sadness attached to it.

Now that I call humor since it brings out the human aspect of a person. Humor also speaks for the quality of life of the people and society at large. That way I believe G K Chesterton is another favourite of mine. His political essays are more commentary on the social lifestyle structures found in the various people and their behaviour that GKC observed. The most important thing that I need to understand as someone who is just learning to write, is that when you aspire to be a humorist then it becomes important that you place yourself in the human situation and not balk from it.

That way my experience in life is limited, and I need to open up to my community that is there in my flat that I live and maybe make new friends, both the art of friendship-making is pretty much a Herculean task for me. But one can assume that one has understood the situation and work out the relationship. The art of bonding in humor takes synching in humor.

Sometimes I connect with people’s humor, and sometimes I don’t since it was out of my signal range. No neural network connectivity simply didn’t support that mismatch of software and hardware. Then it becomes all the more important that the command on the language become very stringent so that the humor comes out naturally instead of being forced.

My aspiration is still alive even today when I read humorous piece of creative fiction or creative non-fiction. For instance, the humor that I have grown up with is wordplay and slanderous potty jokes that grannies just enjoy saying. They are so familiar that the sentence is not even completed, and the listener immediately gets it.

If I should dare say that I may have to labour with love on my humor and then I say Love’s labour is lost and found.

Image Source: Pexels.com

 

My Language Learning Lounge

I am very picky about what I see on Television. So there is a huge debate within me for viewing a show and only when it is justified, do I watch the serial! There is a sense of purpose which moves alongside of the viewing activity.

I have always been fascinated with Language and learning new ones is such a pleasure. I love the fact that I am from a place where there are multiple languages that you could find uniqueness in each of it.

During my childhood I had for a long time just listened in to Hindi movies even if I didn’t understand the dialogue and slowly the language opened up to me. It was nearly 8 years later that I spoke my first sentence to another person who knew Hindi. That is being very brave.

I love listening to people, especially if they are excitedly talking. I don’t mind eves-dropping on conversation if it would teach me language. But I make sure I don’t judge the person since the activity was aimed for learning the language.

It began with Hindi in Chennai, Mandarin and Malay in Singapore, Spanish and Korean in San Francisco and now written Hindi and Samskritam. There is a force within me that wants to self-learn languages and to do that drama was clearly the best source. This way I will not be violating rules and eves-dropping on personal conversation.

Those days of watching Doordarshan channel was such a pleasure for me. I always felt that you learn better when you listen to songs. So Wednesday Chitrahaar was a must watch for me. I looked around and this one had a sample of the Chitrahaar I knew from my past.

Back then there was just one channel and it had a fixed duration of viewership. I think I like those days since there was more time for children to play and participate in sports.

Once the Regional Doordarshan channel came in then it became a more full time affair. I think the content in those channels were more towards regional aspects. The drama soon became a regular affair then slowly when regular serials became a daily based one, I think it happened as an unconscious affair.

When I went to Singapore the first thing that I checked out for my language learning need was to listen in on those Chinese and Malay programs. I found it a little complicated because I didn’t have a reference to their facial expression. So it was hard and that fact that I was little pre-occupied didn’t add up.

Till this day I have never been anywhere that I hated. I always had been in a state of merriment when I am in any new or old places. Even though my experiences in Singapore were a little challenging, I still look upon the city with much affection.

I wanted to see those cultural entertainment events and observe the culture without questioning any of its reasons. I love accepting culture as is and enjoy the uniqueness that is special for each culture.

The Traditional Chinese Theatre or Chinese Opera is such a wonderful experience to have and somehow it feels that drama whether in the West or East has a common element to entertain with some message. The beauty of watching the ancient drama kind of gave me a sense of continuity that seems timeless.

There is much that I learned about Language and how it becomes a part of a community. There is so much to learn and to say that you go to school only for the duration of your educational life. I feel education is something that is simple, unstoppable and happens at every turn of a human life events.

So that is when I ask myself, this question, are we really teaching love for language in the best possible way? Even now I know that if I keep exposing myself to a oral and written language then, rest assured I will also learn to write.

Language is a way of being able to express the complex thoughts in a familiar pattern of script which gets transferred between two conversing persons using a single language. Now the extent to which actual communication happens is entirely limited by the understanding levels of the participants. So though skilled are people really communicating? That is the question!

It is a weird combination of partially or complete lack of understanding of the medium of communication, thus, resulting in misinterpreted communication. For instance in the fact that most of our advertisement play on the facts of language and its usage. That way I feel there is much in the scope of the way things are being communicated.

Image Source: Photo by Pixabay from Pexels

When There Is Clarity in the Thought

Product @ Amazon India: https://www.amazon.in/gp/product/9384454117/ref=ppx_yo_dt_b_asin_title_o01_s00?ie=UTF8&psc=1

The most brought item in Amazon India is books. I began with Amazon.com in US, buying my course books and maybe a gadget here and there. Amazon website is so easy to figure out for a confused person like me. It also made me feel safe when I ordered books from them. So even after switching continent I still enjoy shopping in Amazon.

Among the various books that I have got, spiritual books are slightly popular with me. I love to collect The Bhagavad Gita. I collect them not to gather dust; but the book to become dog-eared due to constant reading and annotated with the inner reflection.

The above URL is my latest collection of the books. The first time I encountered Songs of God (The Bhagavad Gita) was when I was in my 8th Grade. It was well worn out copy of my youngest uncle. All my uncles, aunt and my father were believers in this book. Each incorporated the teachings in their own way and with their special quirks. But the Sanatana Dharma was very much a way of life in my family and I believe it has filtered to the current generations with their individualistic version of it.

But these are all incidental events, the main reason that I have such fascination for this book is the fact, that the various version that I read gave me insight only to that level of emotional growth that I held within me at that moment. During the 8th grade I understood nothing of the book, I flipped through with earnestness of course, but did not understand anything. After the rush and stress of 10th grade, I again settled to read the book. This time the chapter on Karma Yoga was very appealing. I kept reading it repeatedly.

Then, when I reached my first year of college, I decided that I would club lamp lighting activity with reading the book, in the hope, maybe I will get clarity of the ideas given in the book. The Gita is a huge tomb of footnoted explanation for which you need to read up a lot on the other explanatory books. So then, I checked out various schools of thought, which included, Sri Aurobindo,  Paramahansa Yogananda, then many other explanation providing shows by many gurus from north to south. These gurus excelled in the art of pravachan or discourses.

I somehow showed a greater inclination towards the South Gurus since it sat well with my sensitivity. I am greatly influenced by Velukkudi Sri U. Ve. Krishnan Swamy. I found his discourse far more convincing to my seeking soul. But I never stop at one Guru, my nature is to keep searching until I can say, ah! Now I know.

My quest never stopped at any given point of my life. The progress that I have made is based on the emotional growth and psychological effect that was present in me at the time of reading the text of Gita. So why does this specific book be over and above other scriptures. I would say the simplicity of the entire work.

The fact that I cannot read the source language in which it was written, Sanskrit, it didn’t stop me from perusing to read it in English translation. My Uncle’s copy was a very poor translation and later when I began collecting other translations, something was always missing in it. But the English part didn’t sit well or resonate with my inner writer’s spirit, until I picked my latest copy from Nightingale’s Vedic Cosmos division’s, which is involved in publishing Vedic Literature with the true aspiration to bring to the seeking soul the lessons from the ancient past.

For the first time, I understood Sri Krishna better. I found a connection between each chapter and how they were interlinked. It is like any Analytical Essay on the Soul and Its ultimate goal on Earth. I personally feel that this life is rather interesting, given the fact that, I am seeing it emotionally, scientifically (theory and practical), philosophically, and essentially to discover what really happens to humans whether individually or collectively.

I was greatly influenced by Swami Vivekananda’s speech in the World Parliament of Religion in Chicago in 1893. Though the import of it took a long time to happen for me. By some mysterious logic which I don’t even know, my mind understands of things related to spirituality. I always believed that my life was a spiritual progress with a process already settled into my inner Self.

Spiritualism is never far away from my thoughts and I try to understand this mystery called life in my own ways. In that self-discovery process I have used The Bhagavad Gita a lot. Among the many books that I read about the interpretation of the Gita, one of them was Devadutta Pattnaik’s My Gita. which was an interesting way of looking at the text.

But this time when I read the Vedic Cosmos’s version of the gita’s translation, I was blown over. For the first time, I saw the logic in the text. I might still not have got the complete import of it, but I figured out the points covered and the sequence in which Sri Krishna places these ideas as progressive path of improvement towards self-realization and reaching god head.

See the whole piece starts from when Arjuna is confused and reluctant to fight. From 0 -100% switch of attitude was achieved with remarkable oratory accomplishment by Sri Krishna. I feel that each chapter deals with specific issue at hand and then show how to progress forward with utmost care. Given my nature, I tend to pursue ideas and cross reference them with actual performance by me.

I have been reading this book since Friday last for personal and work related need. The level of clarity that I felt this time, while reading the book, was extremely surprising for me. The translation was done with great care for details and part of the manodharam could be deeply felt. Yes, it did have a few places where I felt, that it could be done well, which is atypically just my personal quirks on certain kind of sentence. But my critic cannot be fully acceptable, since I am seeing this work from just the English translation angle. Yes, the fact remains, that I am seeing it with many other translated versions from my previous reading. I feel this one was the closest that brought my thinking mind in alignment with the text.

I am enjoying the connectivity that I felt with the text and the fact that it was there all the while but, the Supreme gives the understanding that is needed for the text. I am grateful and humbled by the new understanding and the seeker is resting at base camp 1 and it is a long way to the summit of complete understanding.

Image Source: Amazon India

The Bhagavad Gita of My Life | Exploring Inquisitively

This goes back to that time when I was just out of college and I was still figuring out my career path. I am a naturally confused person, surprisingly even today, I am the self-same confused person. Now I feel that the confused state is to bring order and well-being through analysis, which I take it to mean, as a strength of character for me. Back then, I was double-minded, if I should believe in the presence of God or not.

But then, I had this sense of unshakeable faith in my Personal God; but reluctant to accept certain concepts of my Hindu religion. After all, my personal god had got me out of all the life challenges. He had ensured that I was safe and learned something at every struggle that I had faced in the course of my living. So, during one of my breaks from work, I was at home figuring myself out. When naturally I hypothesized, that if I were to study something then, I can figure myself and the Society surrounding me.

I believed, if I learned some life-skills more then, I will be able to work better and be able to handle people with the finesse of well-developed character. It has taken me many years to understand that you learn on the job by doing it. The art of working in a team is an energy exchange, that is what happens when the entire team reaches the right level of comfort and of complete confidence within the group, that the participants are willing to place their sensitive thoughts with freedom within the team’s brainstorming. I still have a long way to go, before I can say I understand the dynamics of teamwork.

So, coming back to my story of self-discovery, in this break post-college, I was learning to play the Veena and that instrument actually made me more focused on my inner being, than those singing lessons during my childhood with my sister. I was a grown up and I knew the challenge ahead was steep. Though I was struggling with the notes, given my learning disability, I did enjoy the instrument. But I could hold a raga and play relatively okay. My music teacher was blessed with great patience because he would wait until I got the fingering right on the fret.

Veena playing is like performing an arthi. You have the arthi plate in one hand, while the other one is ringing the bell. Likewise, your left hand is on the frets and the right one is plucking the strings. It takes great coordination. There is something to learn here for my entire life.

Meanwhile, I had one besotted listener, who was a little mouse, our resident pest. Once he came close enough and sat on the corner of my mat made of grass. I looked at him and he looked ready to run, if I so much as moved a muscle, but I continued to play my Veena without noticing him, hoping that he will remain to listen in. That was when I gave my first concert for a single other than the human audience. I could only play for half an hour, it was clear that the mouse heard a mini version of the concert which was not even half the ticket value.

During this time, my mother was making one of her visit to my brother’s place and I was responsible and in charge of the house. I was super nervous and tided it over with being super organized. The housekeeping was already in my bucket since we had run out of maid choices. Though I was doing this with confidence as if I knew how to do it.

My father had to put up with my cooking behavioral quirks, of course, he helped with the roti rolling activity. That way papaji was a very considerate person. During one of our conversations, he explained about his practice of holding silence every Sunday helped him but was disapproved by my grandfather. But I learned something about my family though the elders disagreed with younger generation thoughts, we were yet given the right to explore spirituality in our own ways. That thought of my father’s perked my interest and I decided to find some daily rituals for myself like him. That is when I remembered the lighting of lamp activity that mummyji would insist that I perform.

That is when, I choose the idea of working on the spiritual aspect of my life. So, I decided to take up the lighting lamp activity, at the same time included reading a book or scripture anything that was in book. So I had the choice of book from the past gift. I found a version of the Ramayana and a small box of the Bhagavad Gita well worn out. It was my youngest uncle’s copy. I got comfortable and just read the English part with great faith and hope of transformation.

I was fascinated with the Sanskrit text and sometimes would just gaze at it. Of course, I couldn’t read any of the Devanagari scripts, neither Hindi nor Sanskrit, so that left just the English text which I could make out. I was not happy with the translation of the texts, but still, it was prayers for me. It was later, many years after, I could read and recognize one conjugation of the Noun Rama.

Each chapter was read with a great eagerness and sharada, while on some days, my pestian friend would check me out from his corner and silently join me in the lamp lighting ritual. I don’t know if God thought to Himself, ‘what an odd pair of friends are seated together in front of me and wool-gathering. Both of us were evaluating, whether to risk licking the rock sugar that I have offered to the Lord, both were kind of eyeballing each other for those thoughts. This cat and mouse interaction with my pestian friend kept happening since my focus was divided between the reading of the shlokas and watching out for my prasad.

Over the years our small-sized species of mousy rat problem was completely solved and the reading after that period became very spiritual-centric. When I got married and went to Singapore the first housekeeping task that I did was to set up my prayer room on the edge of the Kitchen counter. The assembling of the pooja stand was fulfilling by itself. But one leg had not traveled well. So I had to find the zen spot for the stand to be perfectly still, almost an act of  Zen spirits.

I enjoyed the self-assigned task of balancing the entire pooja stand. I stuck all my Gods and set up the silver murthi and brass ones on small space for display. I had a Gangajalam brass sealed container which is a compulsory inclusion in the gift of pooja articles.  I had the brass vessel cleaned and decorated with sandal paste and vermillion marking the auspiciousness. These, according to me, were my personal activities, that calmed my mind, as I struggled with coming to terms with the new place and culture.

The one thing that I found out about myself is that I am not frightened of new places. Because I picked lines from my past reading of scriptures, which became the reference point for all my life situation. I connect with my spirit and the blue sky is always blue everywhere (maybe a different shade, but still blue!) and when we meet people they are just like each other and their nationality doesn’t matter when we see them with humanitarian eyes. I always carried Bapu’s peace and thoughts of Ahimsa in my heart. I rarely get angry, because I spend a lot of time with children and their literature in my free time, I am aware of the level of patience one needs and requires to work with a child. It is almost like a zen practice of watering a plant with mindfulness. Life is about being curious like a child and be childlike in your approach to new things in life.

So, my spiritual practice was all about peace and finding it within. I started listening in to shlokas and reading books that were in English about spiritualism. I wanted to know what constitutes my Soul? The science and art of my personal soul and I was recommended to read the Bhagavad Gita. So I began reading online and later during my Master’s in the US, I was gifted the book titled “Autobiography of a Yogi” written by Paramahansa Yogananda and gifted by a good friend and professor of mine. I read the entire book in a week without putting it down. That was when I saw his other book on the Bhagavad Gita interpretation, so I got the copy which was titled, “God Talks To Arjuna.”

A take away from the book was the one question, placed at the end of every day which even now I ask myself, “Today then, Vidya, who won the battle of Kurukshethra?” There are days when its either one of the Kurunandanas. But the idea was relentlessly to respond to that single question with complete honesty. I am sure one day, I will figure out that, the side of the Dharma won always and the right thing was done even though I was up against my own human families. In this, could I call me, as a scientific person living inside the material body or an artist living inside a being while finding the random connection of my life?

This confusion has persisted in life for a long time and I have still not found the answer I am seeking. This is interesting – are we then seeking for the very same answer we assume is true or are we seeking answer which is the ultimate truth? This, then means, the answer could not be the answer that you feel is right; but entirely something else? To renounce and leave to the jungle has been a greatest inner desire, but then if I cannot handle the concrete jungle I am just running away from one unexplored place to another place. So, despite the need to give up the life of being a part of the social life circle, I seek solace in small pocket size moments. There are times when there is complete peace, it is not a state, that I need to get to, but I am the peace. That realization has been happening a lot these days.

I am a person who can sense energies around me, I know which ones make me feel safe and which would provide me space to improve. No energy is right or wrong, it is just that ethereal truth of life which is been guided by the Divine. I cannot understand human body languages or their verbal interaction, because I am often baffled by the reactions to my thoughts. But I know that, if there is peace within me then it is there in the conversation too. I then, feel that everything will be alright. This belief that even in the energy of disagreement there is scope to expand the spirits of peace within our being. This is a brand new understanding, that I am learning in my life, given the set of challenges, that I am facing currently in my personal life.

Image Source: Pexels.com

 

 

MoW Series | Songs of My Being

Source for Music | https://music.youtube.com/watch?v=BiqlZZddZEo&list=PLcEy-T4jgO419cM9pUNkCSBATH5eo4bVT

Music without words bring back the soul’s oldest tales. While listening to the Celtic music, I find myself in the cold early morning on a tired horse with just my bow, arrows, a sturdy sword at my side, as I look on at the destination that I need to reach far into the future, yet I am caught in this moment. I tell myself, oh! Being you are the lost soul fighting it out on the terrains, that refuse to be subdued by your warrior prowess. Listen then, to the nature, that calls out in this cold mountains, green yet cold. I let out a sigh and the steam from breath escaping from inside me flows out. I watch with wonder the changing forms of the clouds.

I park my horse and loosen his gridle, at least one of us could be relaxed and rested. I sit down as the rain starts to pour down with great force. I am transported to the moment of warm fire by the hearth, as I listen to the sound of lutes and flutes playing in the back drop. An old fairy tale of trapped lute player in the labyrinth of internal maze of underground channels, frequented by fairy and ethereal being. Old songs and new ones mingle and become a single unit in my being.

I fasten my sweater button hoping to get warmer, yet the being is lost in the past. Life moves to a different dimension within the space of the trickling rain drop. As suddenly as it started to rain, likewise, did it stop. I could now hear the dripping of the raindrops from the leaves and I time my breath with it. The dripping drops and my heart beat become synchronized into single line of connection.

The mind is transported to the desert landscape were the heat rises with each meridian that the sun crosses on the blue dome. I look up and I am stranded on the desert sands seeking some being. The heat melts the being and the soul could be seen through the endless traverse lay before this lone traveller who stands mesmerised by the sand dunes standing as unshakable mountains of fine sand.

The mind swirls as the wind picks up and the whole sand dune changes place and the way is lost to be explored any further. I take a deep breath and decide to climb the sand dune as the wind blows vigorously. I should have done it the Ostrich style and dug my head in and waited for the storm to abate. Yet this soul didn’t wish to do that, but carried on in an effort to find the way in times of great distress.

Then the wind stopped and stilled all of sudden, I picked some sand in my hand and slowly released it from the tight hold of my hand. The sand fell straight, and all was quiet. I could see far away an Oasis with camels, travellers and life. I try to walk towards the place hoping for some companionship. The closer I got, they were not anymore to be found, I take a deep breath and my mind moves to the edge of the city limit. I see the Chinese Pagoda and a garden of Cherry blossom trees, somehow the cold is back on my spine.

The garden of butterflies invited the being to find solace in the flight of these creature which struggles to come into being. I watch a caterpillar struggling and munching on a mulberry leaves unable to go beyond. The inner butterfly which needs to incubate and to grow within so that the first fight and first flight is truly an exceptional occurrence. There is much in the moment when the butterfly comes to its full existence. I see the beauty of the colours of their wings bring joy of life to the mind.

I watch on as the butterfly slowly emerges from the cocoon and I find my rebirth in an exceptional sense as if I am born again. I feel the spirit of the butterfly ebb and flow in my heartbeat. I synchronize it again, with each of its flap, my heart flutters and I can feel my heartbeat within my rib cage. I have found a beautiful connection within my being, as I was the butterfly, and someone was watching the beautiful birth of my being.

I slowly walk towards the butterfly and try to touch it, but then the fire engulfs from the setting sun and I am transported to my old home at Srivatsam, I am seated on the overhead tank facing the south. The full moonlight floods the space staying directly above me. The Water tank, Me, the Moon, The Southern stars in the firmament all become one. It is the cold of Marghzai and I see the Lord my ultimate goal recede from my eyes. The heart skips a beat and look around to see darkness and the moon is no longer close to the earth, but far away in the sky, a mere simple white dot.

I shut my eyes in the hope to bring back the images of being close to the one and the only creator of everything big and small. For a moment, I am caught in the sound of night and I breath again to start to connect with the past database and find myself in the present. I am seated on the sofa in the living room, with headphones on and an orange laptop Lenovo Yoga. I feel the pink of my dress mingles with purple of the sofa cover as I draw from the past a sense of calm as the meditation on words comes to a close. I have been writing for half-an hour while listening to the Celtic music for relaxation. The present mingles with the warm feeling of the summer gently gathering me in its arm as I become the summer girl in my mind and soul.

Om Tat Sat,

Om Shanthi Om

 

Image Source: Pixabay.com

L’sLT Series| Humour In Written and Visual Format

The inspiration to write Life’s Like That series came up from my past reading experience. I used to read Reader’s Digest with great pleasure and I believe they have a section in their book titled “Life’s Like That” which tickles my funny bones.

Life’s Like That is my favourite section has cheered me many times when things did not look great. I check out the Laughter the Best Medicine and Life’s Like That, Humor in Uniform are the sections that I read first and then go in for other more emotional articles. Somehow, in these sections, I feel the best part of quick wit is seen.

I always felt close to humour because it lightens the situation. Given the fact that my siblings are better at humour than I am. I am never succinct in any situation, I am an over-the-top garrulous person who loves talking non-stop nonsense. For good humour is sure to be killed if you are not able to sharpen the narrative for the right impact.

That reminds me of Non-Stop Nonsense, a German comedy show which was hilarious. It was a voiceless comedy show. I believe if you have humour in you, then you can make anyone laugh. These days, I have a very rare opportunity to laugh out loud. I have subscribed to Comedy Central; but then, I don’t know where in the maze of channels it is listed! I think I need to find it, one of these days.

I think I liked the DD days when you were given programs in a ration. From 6:30 pm to 10 pm, then DD goes to sleep showing dancing dots on the screen. I think that was much better than the 24/7 shows. Of course, there are far more thrilling and exciting shows now. Since, when you see a drama in DD it just looks like a stage play. But these days we get VFX rendered dramas, yoohoo!

So, getting back to humour in the text, I believe it allows the mind to think with a sense of being wiser somehow. The reading of a joke is far different from seeing a humour filled drama or scene. We have become so much about visual and audio that flash on our mobiles, that a no-nonsense text just plain does not go well down our consumption tube.

But I am an old timer, for me reading the books is very important, these days it the Kindle. I love words and when they invoke a burst of joyous laughter, I am thrilled. There is a different kind of witty response, but the ones that leave you baffled are the best wit for me. I love seeing Standup comedy. Among the various Facebook post, I liked ones that had Standup Comedy links. Sorabh Pant’s comedy though not the best, but yeah kinda cool. By God, I got no idea how I got him in my friend’s list. Anyway, I don’t regret it, but I don’t know about Sorabh though. Ama yaar khanh phasgaye hum! Most probably.

Anyway, the skill of telling a joke is almost like the ability to pause, fast forwarding and even it out in the narration of the joke. I had a book on Sardaji jokes, I tell you, it was hilarious, I believe the best thing about humour is its ability to remove stress and to makes life more human somehow.

Image Source: http://gratisography.com/

Nightingale Diary 2019 | My Tryst with Diaries

The year 1988 was significant because it was the time of my maximum changes. I was growing, changing and figuring myself out, and everything was a part of the process of growing up. I had a lot of things happening in my life and for the first time in my life, I felt joy since I could pour my thoughts into a journal. I believe around the Summer of 1987, I wrote my first poem on the four seasons and partly the reason why, even today, I want to read Ṛtusaṃhāra (ऋतुसंहार) in the originally written language.

When I came to know the four flat seasons that I had described was of no comparison to the power-packed English version of Ṛtusaṃhāra (ऋतुसंहार). I hoped and prayed that I could write so movingly like Kavi Kālidāsa (कालिदास).

These days I refrain from writing journals and have switched to analyzing the text and performing a high-level exposition to find the core values that I hold in my life. I have always been a very closed person, so I find it difficult to connect with people. But with books and texts, I am totally in connected mode.

I have never bought diaries for myself. Because usually, my father would give me his company’s complementary diary that he would have ordered to gift it to his clients. So when I planned to get a diary, he would simply hand me that year’s copy of the diary. I was happy with it since it had a lot of lines for me to fill.

I used to write in those diaries and sometimes 1989 diary would have entries till 2000. I never stopped writing diaries and I don’t know at what point I started to maintain an Online journal in MSWord format. Around 2001 I believe I began holding Journal Yeared online versions. Things became a lot more different with an online journal and somehow I never wrote as often as I did my physical diary.

But let me backtrack a little here. When I first wrote these diary entries, pouring my very soul in it, I found a sense of peace at the end of the exercise. It was almost cathartic feeling. One more interesting thing is that I always picked Reynold’s Bold pen to write. I liked it to be over thick ink stains on the pages with my hand clearly printed and which spoke of me, as someone who was over-emotional. I am over emotional to a fault sometimes, but then, I try to meditate on words and find my balance.

After many years, this January 2019, I got a book from the Nightingale Brand of Diaries in Amazon. For some reason that I cannot seems to bring myself to explain, I was fascinated with a specific type of diary. I couldn’t stop myself from buying it, but then, I didn’t have a huge budget for the diary. So I spent Rs. 135/- from Satish Sellers since I like the Diary pattern. It was about environmental themes.

When I got the B6 Diary with my favorite elements in it, my heart felt a joy of the Summer of 1987 when I wrote my first poem, which was a well-kept secret for a long time. For me, diaries are an essential way to connect with my inner being. I usually meditate with words. Even now as I am writing this there are parts of my thoughts which are clearing and expressions get refined.

But more to the Diary that I got, I am not writing a long statement in the Nightingale Diary, but merely connecting dots of thoughts to mark my understanding. This diary is used more for work and writing life. I can write my heart out on my father’s company diary and I am still searching for a diary that will allow me to pour my soul in it.

I think I miss those days when my diary and I would spend countless hours just being ourselves. My diary silent and listening; while I am garrulous and expressive. To this day, there no one as close as a diary in my life. I find my peace and joy in it.

Somehow MS Word didn’t feel like a person and a close friend just like Anne Frank’s kitty. I think I need to find my journal again and start writing my heart out. Sometimes, when you leave your heart out on your sleeve, people will squash it and leave you bruised; but a diary would never hurt you like that. That compassionate, non-judgemental diary is a gift to the shy and the social outcasts.

But overall, I was happy with the Ecologic version of the Diary even though I felt guilty that I have bought a diary for the first time in my life. I have always used leftover books and father’s company diary for my journal entries. I want to revive my writing habit and get back to verbally analyzing things in my life in written format.

I am working in the very company that makes Nightingale Diaries and much more strong branded products that take me back to my first love at first sight poem to the seasons of India. Of course, I am looking at what my life is leading me up to with all the new experiences.

In that way, my diary entries in the Nightingale brand diary is more succinct and that is not my old self. I want to probe into the very being of my self and discover myself again in restructured words and be the change that I seek within me.

My every company that I worked was always about spiritual growth for me. I go by my father’s adage if you are given a task then persistently do it until you finish it. Over the years, words have been the tools that I took to the work table and never regretted it.

Words move me, sway me, rock me to sleep, or just plain cathartic process. I want to revive hand journal writing with my special brand of pen Reynolds Bold. Someday, I would revive my passion of the first journal entry which I shared with my brother after many years. He read it and smiled and gave it back to me that felt like an encouragement to me.

 

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Podi from the Online Outlet Idlies

How many of you can remember your patti’s kaipakkuvum? I come from a joint family system where uncles, aunts and galore of cousin team up to make an experience well worth it. A brahmin household is teamed with specific food items which are exclusive to that community.

Our signature food items come in a set. Like Vetrikuzhumbu with Parruppu Thovaiyal, Sutappalam with tomato rasam seasoned in ghee and spluttered mustard, Adai with Avaiyal and Idli with Milagaipodi.

Ah! When I think of Milagaipodi, I am reminded of my mother, I learned the making this side-dish from her. When she religiously makes it and the visitors praise her effort, I think my mother felt great pride in her cooking.

Since the making of podi quantity was for a larger audience, so, I felt it was easier to buy them for just a single user. I have been searching for that specific amma’s brand of milgaipodi and have been sadly disappointed. Since even the Sharada Stores ones also was not close to Amma’s style. About a few days back one of my new friends suggested that I try Idlies an outlet of all Brahmin cuisine to check out the Podi.

I was nervous but then, I knew I am being guided by the authentic source. When I tried the Podi this past Saturday, I was lost in thoughts and missed my mom the most. I felt sentimental and remembered how my grandmother used to have idles, podi and curd combo.

There are some stylistic preferences that one would almost remember WB Yeats’ poem A Prayer for My Daughter, where he explains how girls eat crazy salads. In many ways, life is about food and various unique ways that people have it. Like for instance, having curd rice with mixture or omapodi. There are some really weird combos and I have such preferences too.

The interesting part was the fact that Podi’s package had one of the best themes and the color combo was simply fantastic. The touch of color scheme and the caricature of grandmom with the little girl in the kitchen was such a wonderful design theme.

But I am more used to the Meenakshi Ammal “Cook And See” the every new bride’s mother’s gift to her daughter. I tell you, Meenakshi Ammal used words that were hard to understand. She spoke about how to cook rice on Vengalapanai. Of course, she would describe how to do the scare thing of draining excess water.

But there was much that I learned from cooking various dishes. My mother taught me a few signature dishes which I kept repeating but I would experiment too sometimes. There are days when I feel like cooking up a storm and there are days when I would not move my being to even boil water.

But there are days, when I feel truly inspired to create a most complicated dish I take all efforts. Pappaji loved my subzi and amma didn’t like Northern spices. So I had to strike a balance for both of them. Among the many things, there is a certain food that reminds me of specific people in my family.

Food always brings the family together and binds us in a common understanding of people who you love-hate and everything in between. Podi reminded me of three people when I tasted with my idlies. My athai who passed away recently and she was a rock of Gibraltar in the kitchen. The food preparation was a joint effort of all the brothers, daughters-in-law and athai. Athai used to be the main cook with my mother making sure she gets the ingredients that are needed. So when my athai makes Podi it is wonderful to taste.

The brahmin household is never bereft of this ingredient. It is a quick breakfast side-dish solution. If you are pressed for time and cannot make the chutney, use the Podi, the all-purpose side-dish for Idly and Dosa. If the hunger factor is beyond a bearable point, pull a plate, make some quick swish Dosas and have it with podi. The countless joy of having that podi was to refresh the mind of past memories of my childhood.