Saturday, June 4, 2016

Trail of thoughts on a disturbing news

Going through the daily news can be a harrowing experience these days. One gets to read about a variety of crimes happening in different parts of the world. In most of the incidents, it is women and little children who are the victims of some very deviant acts.

Hailing from a country where illiteracy is rampant, I always thought that education is the answer to most of the world's problems. An educated individual is more self-reliant and self-confident, therefore, is less susceptible to being victimized.

I have the highest respect for education and utmost admiration for the Ivy League schools around the world. The 'brilliant minds' who study in these schools seem to live in a plane of their own, above the rest. Of course they do! They tread the path that the ordinary don't dare to, they burn the midnight oil to materialize their ambitions and unfortunately in rare cases, they even wield a weapon in frustration!
A very disturbing news about a brilliant doctoral student who took to the gun hit the headlines recently. There have been several such news in the past few years that I can remember. All of these acts seem to have their roots in some unresolved anger and frustration.

But wait! Isn't education responsible for making us better people and creating a happier, safer society ? And when we say education, are we referring to mere degrees from universities or something more of a personality development and refinement? Is there a missing layer of education that is a pre-requisite to the formal education process?

While my mind is overwhelmed with these thoughts, I do see a couple of things clearly. From childhood, we're put in this race that drives to work smarter and harder. The environment around us conditions us to respect accomplishments and capabilities. Our role models tend to be those who are rich, famous and powerful. Nothing wrong with these early influences.

I remember during my school days, I was always lauded for my Math and Science grades. But I did have some awkward moments with History and Arts, subjects that I was not good at. We all need help to deal with 'not being good at something'. We need to be educated about dealing with ourselves. Self awareness and self knowledge are as important as subject knowledge because every day may not be ours.

Another important by-product of education is being aware of the environment that we create around us through our behavior, communication and mannerisms. In this competitive world where everyone's priority is to get ahead and stand out, it is equally important to consciously create an inclusive environment that becomes a strength to you and your colleagues when the going gets tough. While we all are in a hurry to climb that ladder, it is important to never forget the fundamental values that make us human beings in the first place. Values such as friendliness and kindness set us apart from animals. We have seen numerous incidents where complete breakdown of human values has caused irrecoverable losses to individuals and Organizations.

As a mother, I would like to see my son getting good grades in academics and performing well in his co-curricular activities. At the same time, I would also like him to be a kind and a well balanced individual who can handle himself in possible failures and disappointments. Like charity, human values begin at home. It is the parents' responsibility to sensitize the child to the environment, to other family members and later,the teachers,peers and the society. When a mind is conditioned with the right knowledge and the right attitude, it has all the possibility to reach its highest potential and make news for only the right reasons.

The past cannot be reversed but the future definitely is an opportunity to further evolve the human mind, possibly God's most powerful creation. I fervently wish and pray that we do not see anymore of the extremist side of the brilliant minds, the gifted species of this planet.

Saturday, December 26, 2015

X and Y

A very interesting human motivation theory, Theory X and theory Y describes two contrasting strategies that managers use to motivate their workforce. Theory X assumes that workforce is inherently work-hating and lazy, so they need to be made to work by force and punished for non compliance. Theory Y, on the other hand is of the belief that people want to do their best and perform well given good working conditions.

I hardly know of any organizations in the current times, except maybe the military, that are still 'managing' their employees in the Theory X way. Thanks to multinational companies that have pioneered employee friendly strategies, more and more organizations are constantly improving working conditions and managing the employee experience in order to promote greater productivity.

But in life, in societies, in families, there seem to be somewhat extreme versions of theory X and theory Y in play. In some societies, especially the patriarchal ones, one witnesses an environment of control and manipulation in relationships. Unfortunately, women and younger ones are victimized by the older male family members. They are not encouraged to develop their own personality, opinions, skills and capabilities but are required to follow instructions, sacrifice and surrender. Sadly, sometimes, even small fancies and harmless wishes are met with stiffness and opposition. These kind of families and societies, over time, give rise to weak, disempowered individuals who are incapable of leading their own lives and cannot cope with the demands of a dynamic and progressive modern society. They feel lost outside of their homes and familial company. They are unable to adapt, make new friends and bring in positive changes into their lives due to fear of rejection by the kith and kin. The result is an unhappy, sickly individual for whom living is happening but sadly, life is not.

On the other hand, in more 'liberal' societies, one sees the best of the living conditions, opportunity, facilities and services. 'Individuals' are encouraged to bring out their own best selves, perform and grow in their lives. 'Individuality' is much respected and preserved. One is given ample opportunities to explore, express and assert oneself. Everybody is somebody. It is in these societies that geniuses have risen and inventors have thrived. These societies have also made innovative services available to common people and have revolutionized communication and lifestyle across the world. They have made the entire globe a village with any information made available by the click of a button.

Of course, when a society is focused on the individual, it is possible that the group is compromised. Basic human values such as selflessness and sharing maybe passed off as qualities of the weak. We hear some cases of extreme isolation, self destructive habits and disturbing public violence.

So, where do we find the middle ground ? A group middle ground is not possible because every individual is a different mind-body complex with their own preferences. A middle ground could only be found within every individual. Every person must be able to accept diversity of thought and action in others, so long as it is not hurtful. It is a pure pragmatic fact of life that diversity is the very nature of creation. Families must be bonded together by trust and benevolence rather than control and guilt induction. A genuine feeling of 'live and let live' must replace irrational egos.

I definitely do not endorse the 'control' mechanisms in relationships, it is only the weak who try to control because they have a hidden inner fear. A true leader makes only leaders, he/she does not make or need followers.

Wednesday, June 25, 2014

These days....

Becoming a mom has changed my life completely. I feel totally responsible for my little one. Sometimes I am too afraid that I may miss out on doing something important for my child. I may not have all the energy and patience all the time, but I am trying my best.

On the lighter side, some of my simple everyday activities have become big luxuries. It's easily a few days since I had my morning cup of tea without any interruption. I do miss going out to my favorite restaurants every weekend, since meticulous planning is required if you want to take a five month old for a few hours. Forget about sitting in movie theaters, long drives, shopping spells and the like. I don't want to blame my infant but these are the realities of being a new parent.

Another change I notice is in my psyche. I experience a subtle guilt if I take time out to do something that is important to me. I keep telling myself that I must not fall into this trap since I can do my best only if I am happy and not give up everything that I like doing.

Parenting is definitely keeping me on my toes, I need more energy and sometimes I need a vent to all that I experience so I am fresh all over again to take on the day. Parenting has something new to offer everyday. I hope to keep updating my blog with all my learnings, the little joys, the frustrations, the wisdom.

Here's a wonderful parenting quote "Don't prepare the road for your children. Prepare your children for the road".

Wednesday, January 15, 2014

Everyday Slokas for children

Some 'Slokas' that are good to be chanted everyday, especially by children:

1. Suklambaradharam Vishnum Sasi varnam Chatur bhujam prasanna vadanam dhyayeth sarva vighnopa Santaye

2. Vakratunda Mahakaya Koti Surya sama prabha Nirvighnam kurume Deva Sarva karyeshu sarvada

3. Sarasvati namastubhyam varade kaama rupini Vidyarambham karishyami Siddhirbhavatu me sada

4. Karaaravindeti paadaaravinde Paadaaravindeti mukhaaravinde Vaatasya patrasya pute sayanam Balam Mukundam manasa smaraami

5. Manojavam Maaruta Tulya Vegam Jitendriyam Buddhimataam Varishtam Vaataatmajam Vaanara Yudha Mukhyam Sri Rama dootham Sirasaa Namaami

6. Ramam Skandam Hanomantham Vynatheyam Vurukodaram Shayaneya smaret nityam dusswapnam tasya nasyate

7. Gururbrahma gururvishnu gururdevo maheshwaraha, guruhsaakshaat parabrahmaa tasmai shree gurave namaha....

8. Raamaaya Raamabhadraaya Ramachandraya Vedhase, Raghunaathaaya Naathaaya Seetayaaha Pataye Namaha

9. Shantakaaram bhujaga shayanam padma nabham suresham Vishwaadharam gagana sadrusham megha varnam shubhangam. Lakshmi kantam kamala nayanam yogi hrudhyaana gamyam Vande Vishnum bhava bhaya haram sarva lokaika nadham

Tuesday, November 19, 2013

Not a 'sweet' proposition...

This post is a little different from my other posts, in that it intends to speak about a health condition called 'Type 2 Diabetes'. Well, it runs in the family and has been part of several of our living room discussions.  My mother, grand mom, their siblings and cousins all have this common thread apart from being part of the same family tree. I stand a good chance of inheriting this peril in case I neglect my diet and exercise, or so I am told. And hence, this topic has found its way into my diary-of-sorts.

The primary cause of type 2 Diabetes is that the body is unable to produce or use a vital hormone called insulin. This hormone is responsible for converting food into energy. Food is broken down by the body into glucose and insulin helps the cells to absorb this glucose. In a diabetic person, the glucose is not absorbed by the cells. Instead, it is accumulated into the blood leading to high blood sugar levels. The body is, thus, deprived of energy since none has been generated in the first place. 

Symptoms of Diabetes include fatigue, increased thirst and unexplained weight loss. Left untreated, this disease can deteriorate vital organs such as the heart, kidneys and the liver, eventually proving fatal. What's alarming is that we Indians are presently at a very high risk of turning into the world's most diabetic population in a few years. 

According to experts, type 2 Diabetes is purely a lifestyle disease. High stress lifestyles, no physical exercise, obesity and unregulated food intake are all salient features of our lifestyle today, especially in urban India. Our young corporate professionals servicing clients across the world in different time zones undoubtedly experience high degree of stress in meeting professional expectations. Their working hours and lengthy commute times that are commonplace in Indian cities leave little or no time to unwind and refresh. Added to this, most of us consume high carbohydrate diet containing rice, wheat and lentils, with less vegetables and fruits. Exercise is virtually missing from our busy lives. With entertainment options and shopping malls increasing by the day, our routines are soon becoming work-earn-spend routines. 

All of the above elements of our lifestyle are high contributors to lifestyle diseases such as high blood pressure and high blood sugars. The need of the hour are health education, awareness and action. 

1. First of all, we need to make exercise a vital part of our everyday life. Exercise enables the muscles and the cells to absorb energy and glucose from the blood. Thus, the blood sugar levels are kept under constant control with regular exercise. Maintaining ideal body weight and a flat abdomen are essential to prevent type 2 diabetes. 

2. Diet needs to be regulated in quantity and balanced in content. Rather than indulging in too many carbohydrates which your body may not require or may not be able to metabolize, regulate them to just about the quantity required for your body and your activity level. Add dairy, protein, fruits and vegetables to your diet in place of excess carbohydrates. Regulate fat intake to just about the level required for your lifestyle.

'Glycemic index' is the number associated with a food's conversion to glucose. Selecting foods with low glycemic index is another way to maintain normal blood sugar levels, since the foods metabolize easier than the ones with a higher glycemic index.

Food timings are also an important factor in controlling one's blood glucose levels. Eating little or no breakfast, a heavy and/or late lunch and dinner are all contributors to type 2 diabetes. Breakfast must be the heaviest meal, with sufficient carb content since the day's activity would digest and use the carbs easily. Lunch could be lighter, with optimum carb content, more vegetables, fruit and protein. Dinner must always be early, atleast 2 to 3 hours before sleeping. It must contain minimum carbs since your body would not use them. Dinner can contain a generous serving of vegetables, fruit and protein. A light walk after dinner helps in better digestion. A protein snack or cup of milk is always advised at bed time. Prefer whole milk to skimmed milk. 

3. Adopt a stress free lifestyle. Minimize stress by taking time out to unwind. Spending time with nature, music, hobbies are all ways in which you can beat stress and give your mind and body a much needed break from the hectic lifestyle. 

4. Regular medical check ups play an important part in knowing how healthy we are or we are not. Early detection of any health problems goes a long way in eliminating them or managing them effectively.

A word of caution - The other extreme is equally damaging. Those who go on low-carb or no-carb diets would soon find themselves turning 'hypoglycemic'. Hypoglycemia is a condition in which the blood sugar in the body is lower than that required for vital functions. This condition, if prolonged, can damage the brain and nervous system.

It is important to supply carbohydrates to the body. What we need to do is determine what is adequate for our body needs based on our lifestyle. 

A nagging, everyday lifestyle disease such as diabetes can take the joy out of one's everyday life. It is important to do something right now so there are no regrets later. Let us take a closer look at our lifestyles and take necessary steps for a happier and a longer future.

Friday, May 10, 2013

To my hometown....

"High"derabad!!!!!!! Welcome to my city! A city with a rich cultural history, a city which is now a booming software hub, a city where you get everything from Irani chai to Harley Davidson bikes, and a city that has produced its share of world class software Engineers, industrialists and cricketing greats.

There's a lot to see in Hyderabad, if you have the time. If you have any friends in Hyderabad, you would have certainly heard of Necklace road and Eat street. Necklace road provides a great view of the Hussain Sagar lake with a floating Buddha statue in its centre. Eat street, a collection of eateries on Necklace road, is where you get delectable chat, chai and other snacks. Make sure you notice the famous 'hyderabadi hindi' as you speak to the vendors. "chaat mein pyaaz nako daalo" is what you should be saying if you don't want onions in your chat. Hindi language prudes, have fun for now. We can discuss linguistics and grammar later.

Tank Bund, the bridge between the twin cities of Hyderabad and Secunderabad is a scenic walk way with Hussain sagar lake on one side and larger than life statues of eminent Telugu personalities on the other. Read through the transcripts written on each statue to know about the key historical figures who shaped the Telugu culture. Lumbini Park, located on the Hyderabad side of the Tank Bund adds to the beauty of the area.

Cut to Banjara Hills, a posh locality in Hyderabad. Road no 1 Banjara Hills is home to 'Karachi Bakery' a house famous for its biscuits. Don't forget to pick up your pack of favorite biscuits. You may have to wait in a line to make the payment, but once you come out with your pack and taste its contents, you know why there was such a long line in the first place. Bang next door is 'Bikanervala' from Delhi. You may want to step in and check out their 'thali' options for lunch and/or dinner. If you're lucky (like I was once), you may even spot a local celebrity or two binging on the tasty food.

You may now want to hop into an 'auto' and go northwest of Banjara Hills. 'Cos that's where you have the HITEC (Hyderabad Information Technology and Engineering Consulting) city, the ever expanding hub of software servcies and consulting companies from all over the world. I've worked here for several years and have seen this part of the city know no limits when it comes to growth, both literally and figuratively. Don't miss the walk from Cyber Towers to Inorbit mall. That's where you find sprawling IT parks with thousands of Engineers and hundreds of latest cars of every make. This part of the city seems very technical and westernized. Well! they work round the clock servicing clients all over the world. 'Inorbit mall', on the same road, houses top international brands.

Very close to HITEC is 'Shilparamam', an arts and crafts exhibition that models a rural Andhra village. A stark contrast to the 'multinational' surroundings, Shilparamam is where you'd find traditional paintings, craft items, wall hangings, weaves, pottery, and the list can go on. Take your pick, and feel good about it!

Some new express roads that have come up in the recent times make the drive through the city enjoyable. The express way from Masab Tank to the airport, flyover from Begumpet to Banjara hills, flyover from Hitec city to Kukatpally, are a few that provide a smooth driving experience. Make sure you know where you're going. If you check with some passers by about directions to any place, you might get a programmed "seedha chale jao" reply, may not always be correct.

Street shopping time!'Badi-chowdi', located in Kothi is one of the oldest shopping centres of the city. If 'good stuff for less' is your shopping mantra, then Badi chowdi is a place you can't afford (literally) to miss. Colorful clothes, footwear, fancy jewellery, bags, accessories, you name it they have it. Top it up with some street food in the same area and you have an enjoyable evening that even your wallet would love. Pani puri, ragda, bhel puri, pav are perfect post shopping snacks. Wash it down with lime 'goli-soda' or 'ganne ka ras' (sugar cane juice with lime and ginger) and you are set for another shop-a-thon! Apart from Badi chowdi, Monda market and Mozam jahi markets are shopping heavens for fresh and economically priced vegetables, fruits, flowers and grocery. You may have to do some wading through the crowds to get your way. Thats an experience of the real Hyderabad hustle-bustle.

Now, for the world famous Charminar. This four-minaret monument, a cynosure of many photographers and movie makers' eyes, was built sometime in the 16th century and is a must see. In the vicinity of the Charminar lies the 'laad bazar' famous for exclusive lac bangles studded with shiny mock-diamonds. Check them out! Mecca masjid, located nearby is another grand monument. Pearl shops located all over the city provide a rich range of pearl jewellery, all for you....for a price, of course!

Some more interesting places to see are Birla Mandir, Dhola ri Dhani - an ethnic Rajasthani village, Falaknuma palace, Salarjung museum and Golconda fort. A few other interesting eateries are Paradise Biryani, Gokul chat, Famous ice cream, Pista House and Pan Mahal. Irani cafes located all over the city deserve a special mention for their 'cutting-chai'. You could speak in Telugu, Telangana (a dialect of Telugu), Urdu, Hindi, Hyderabadi hindi, Hinglish or Tinglish. You could ride a bicycle, a Hero Honda, an auto, a Maruti car, a Merc, the city bus, MMTS (the local train), a cab or a 'sharing-auto'. Yahaan pe sab chaltaa!

One more thing these days makes Hyderabad more happening. IPL, of course. If you're at IPL, you're really close to Osmania University. This lush green campus spread across acres, is one of the biggest universities in India producing about 300,000 graduates every year. And if you want to catch a glimpse of local teams playing cricket, head straight to 'Parade Grounds'. Scores of cricket teams sweating it out in the sun (its always sunny in Hyderabad) being cheered by equally enthusiastic spectators are a visual treat. Parade Grounds has nurtured several cricketers who went on to achieve dizzying heights in the International arena.

That's our city! Welcome and feel like a Nawab/Begum!!

Friday, April 13, 2012

The story of Pride

All of us know that Bhima was one of the Pandava brothers who was known to be the strongest. He was also known to be proud of his strength. This story occured when the Pandavas were on exile in a forest. Bhima was walking in the forest one day when an old monkey was sitting in his path. The old monkey had a long tail which was spread across. Bhima noticed the tail and ordered the old monkey to move its tail so he can walk.

The monkey replied that it was too old and weak to move, and requested Bhima to remove the tail from his path and move on. This angered the proud Bhima. He roared "Old monkey! Dont you know who you are talking to ? I am the mighty Bhima. I will not move your tail, you have to move out of my way!".
The humble monkey told Bhima once again that it is not in a position to move at all. It once again requested Bhima to put the tail away.

Bhima saw that there is no point arguing with the old monkey. He decided to move the tail himself. As he bent down and tried to lift the tail, it would not move! He applied more of his strength, and with both hands he made a huge effort to lift the tail. Much to his frustration, the tail seemed almost glued to the ground. It did not even move an inch ! A shocked Bhima applied all of his strength to move the tail, but there was no use. The tail did not move, no matter what.

Bhima looked at the monkey in disbelief. The old monkey burst out laughing.
Bhima realized this was no ordinary monkey and humbly requested the monkey to reveal its identity. The monkey disappeared, and in its place stood the mighty Hanuman.
Hanuman lovingly forgave Bhima and blessed him.
This story is such a great lesson about pride. We all like to feel proud of our good qualities. But if our pride makes us think that others are worthless, then such a pride only brings us defeat.